The planet of Divixus; a world built around the mystical that was said to have been crafted by the gods' very hands. It is governed by the elements, eight properties that serve as the backbone of how the universe works: the illustrious Light, the creeping Darkness, the twin-sided Luna, scorching Flame, icy Frost, verdant Earth, tempest-ridden Cloud and the unifying Null. The elements serve as the root of all magic used on the planet and rely on their opposite to be complete.
This is the story of a group of crusaders that band together under the belief that they can defeat an enemy that has taken the world by storm. The chronicles of their struggles starts here...
The moon loomed over the ocean with its lucid lavender glow, offset only by an orange glow in the distance. A man laid unconscious on the beach of an island but quickly woke up to the smell of smoke - he was clad in black military clothes, had box-cut yellow hair and a navy blue cape.
As the man got up from the ground, he searched his surroundings in a daze. On his left, there was the wide expanse of a dark blue ocean. On his right, a lush jungle littered with tall palm trees.
"Wh... where am I...?" He asked.
As he turned around, he noticed a silver plane sandwiched between several palm trees - small fires gradually enveloped it as the smell of rotting corpses came about.
The man dropped his jaw and ran in the other direction, his senses awakened from the shock. As he ran, the plane spontaneously combusted and caught the nearby greenery in its wake with embers flying through the air.
As the man backed away from the burning metal deathtrap that the plane became, he ducked towards a palm tree and slid down to the ground.
"Okay, okay..." He stated, breathing heavily.
As he caught his breath, he looked around with an apprehensive glance. He searched the spatially infinite pocket inside of his coat only to grasp nothing.
"Oh wonderful. The first thing I see is a plane blowing up and now my things are gone." The man remarked as he bit his lower lip.
He got up and walked around only to stop at a tall boulder. The man looked to his right and saw a mountain comparable to a skyscraper in height and a path that led into the jungle ahead.
"... Just what kind of place is this, anyway? A deserted island?" He muttered to himself.
A troubled look creased his face as he pondered what to do: "... Since that crash was pretty fatal, there has to be some person or thing living on this island. I mean, everything I brought doesn't just disappear like that. I have to see if there's at least some possible way off of this place, but in the meantime I should look around for something to defend myself with."
As he started his search, he found a sturdy-looking wooden stick on the ground. It lied on the other side of the boulder, which reached up to the man's shoulders in terms of height.
"A stick? I don't think a piece of driftwood would be enough to protect me from anything out here... But hell, it's better than nothing." The man muttered as he went to pick it up.
As he went over to grab it, he noticed a pale figure next to him. When he took a good look at what it was, he jumped and fell flat on his back.
"Oh crap!" The man yelled, worked up from the sight.
Said figure was the skeleton of what could be assumed to be a teenage girl wearing a slightly torn black and purple high-school uniform with black stocking that went up past her knees, dried out white hair and white shoes.
Impaled through her chest was an ornate knife-like object with a blue glowing blade and a silver hilt marked with a treble clef on it.
"... Huh. That's a school uniform she's wearing, I can tell that much, but that only brings up the question of just why she would be here anyway." The man muttered to himself as he looked over the corpse.
His attention shifted to the knife. "Alright... The cause of death. Let's add grave-robbing to what I've done today." He stated, going over to take it.
As he went to pull it out, he noticed something where it was stabbed - a gray stone shaped like a phoenix stuck in the middle of the girl's ribcage.
"A... crystal? Now, why would she have something like this? Well, can't stay around long enough to tell." The man stated as he pulled the knife out of her chest.
The stone the knife was impaled through fell to the ground and shattered as the man took two anxious steps back.
"... Well then. I'm sorry, miss, but if I'm to have a chance of surviving this island, I'll be taking this." He apologized.
The man turned his back and made his way onto the path ahead. As he went away, the crystal inside of the skeleton reformed and let out a crimson light that enveloped the body.
When the light cleared, the girl started to move again, her skin and organs restored and her complexion as healthy as a normal person's. Upon being alive again, it was revealed she had long black hair, purple nails and light green eyes.
She took a large breath and audibly gasped in and out. Hearing the gasps, the man's eyes widened as he turned around.
"Well, I'll be damned." He stated in bewilderment.
The man slid up to her and blurted out: "How are you alive?"
"Whu-what...?" She drowsily muttered, her eyes half-closed.
"You were just a skeleton a second ago, and now you're a flesh and blood girl again! How in the world did you do that?" He shouted.
"Uh... I was dead? For how long?" The girl asked as she rubbed her forehead.
"Well... you were reduced to bones, so I assume several weeks had passed." He replied.
"R-really? Oh no! But wait a minute... that can't be. I don't smell that rotten." The girl remarked as she sniffed her clothes.
"You don't? Then how come you were a pile of bones before I got here?" The man stated.
"Something must have disturbed my magic flow. It must have killed me and decayed my body to the point where I became a skeleton." The girl pondered.
"... Strange... I've never heard of an immortal schoolgirl before. And what's your name, anyway?" The man questioned.
"My name? It's Nocta Ventelle. I am a senior for Blackmore High School. As for my "immortality", it's the phoenix shaped gem inside of my body - it's creatively called the Immorta Stone. It's a very rare and treasured artifact as it has the power to fully restore people upon dying, but it only works when it's bonded to someone." She explained.
"Hmm... So, this Immorta Stone can bring you back from the dead whenever you want?" He replied as he put a hand to his chin.
"Yes, it can. But to think that there could be something that could stop the stone's effects..." The girl stated.
"Do you mean this? I found this pierced through your chest." The man said as showed her the knife.
Her face turned white at the knife he showed her.
"Do you know what this is? This is a Silencing Dagger! It has the power to cut off magic use at the source! If you didn't come along and pull it from me, I could have been stuck here without any chance of being found!" Nocta stated.
The same expression creased the soldier's face as he imagined her fate.
"... Well then. I'm glad I came across you then, Nocta." He said.
"Say... what's your name, sir?" She sweetly asked.
"Ah... I go by Lirus Trescale, and I'm pleased to meet you." He said as he held out his hand.
"Likewise! So, what brings you here, mister Lirus?" Nocta greeted as shaked his hand.
"... Long story. How about you tell me how you got here first?" He insisted.
"Well, okay... You see, I'm a witch in training. I work with Dark elemental magic, with my specialty being shadow manipulation. A lot of people consider me a prodigy, even our princess Diana." Nocta stated.
"... Princess Diana? The same woman who boasted that she was the 'top one percent' of the necromancer community?" Lirus stated in disbelief.
"I know, right? But that's not all - I was given a mission by your family, the Trescales, to find out information about something called the Deathmoon Mansion. Because of that, I searched high and low with my friends for possible tidbits. That is, until I flew over this place." Nocta stated.
"How come? This place doesn't seem like it would be very useful. Also, if you can fly, then how come you don't just take us both out of here?" Lirus inquired.
"I barely got along with just myself flying. If I carried you along with me, we'd be treading water before you could count to five. As for why I came here, I couldn't explain it - there was something odd driving me here. As soon as I dove down to the ground, I felt something sharp hit my chest and suddenly I was thrown against that boulder." She explained.
"Well, there goes one option. So, the knife just came out of nowhere and pinned you against that rock?" Lirus questioned.
"I still remember my limbs going numb. But anyway - what about it, Mister Lirus?" Nocta asked.
"... I think my doubts about this place being inhabited are gone. Nocta, how about you come along with me? I could certainly use some help to get off this place." He suggested.
"Of course! I'd be glad to get us both off of here. But wait a second. You didn't tell me how you got here." Nocta pointed out.
"Oh yeah... You see, I was flying back home from a mission in a plane. I had just spent several days back in the Outer Fields helping weed out a monster infestation with a couple from my troop. But as we were going back, the plane got shot down without warning and crash-landed here." Lirus recounted.
"Really? How many people made it out?" The schoolgirl asked.
"I'm afraid I was the only person to make it out alive. I can say that without a doubt, considering that the plane is on fire and I know the whiff of burning bodies all too well." He stated.
"That's awful!" Nocta stated.
"I know. Not only did my buddies get axed, but so did dozens of civilians. I wish we could stay and pay our respects, but I'm afraid that if we'll get ambushed if we stay around too long. Now come on - let's go." He motioned as he went forward.
"O-of course. I'm right behind you." She replied with a stutter.
The duo delved into the pitch-black jungle, with the only light being the glow of the knife Lirus had. The only noises were insects chirping and the quiet footsteps of the duo as they walked through the bushes.
They stumbled through the darkness until they came out onto a large open area. It was a spacious field filled with several boulders, palm trees, and the lavender light of the moon over their heads. The duo looked around as they stepped out of the jungle.
"Mister Lirus... Can you let go of my hand?" Nocta asked.
"Huh?" He said.
Lirus looked down to see that he was holding the schoolgirl's hand, much to his surprise.
"Well then!" He yelled out before he yanked it away.
"... Are you really that embarassed?" Nocta asked, curious.
"The dark must have been playing tricks on me, is all." Lirus stated as he bit his lip.
"Aw, I understand. It's not often a big guy like you gets scared, huh?" Nocta said.
"If you take that in any other way than - hey, wait a minute." The soldier remarked as he saw a break in the rocks. "Nocta, do you see something on that rock over there?
"Hmm? What is it?" She asked.
He went over to the boulder and noticed deep claw marks scraped against it.
"... Damn! What kind of claws can cut through solid rock?" Lirus muttered as he felt his hand through the indentations.
"Oh wow - look over there! There's more of them." She said as she pointed at several other rock formations and trees.
Each boulder and tree were blemished with slices and tears, with some trees on the verge of falling apart due to how badly damaged they were.
"... I don't think we're welcome here either." Lirus mumbled.
"Is it too late to go back to the be-- what was that?!" Nocta said only to stop in her tracks as she heard the rustling of bushes.
"What was what?" Lirus asked as he turned to face her.
"I heard something go through those bushes. I don't think we're... eep!" The schoolgirl replied, only for the noise to pop up again.
She stepped back towards Lirus as the rustling turned into a series of low growls. Nocta shivered whereas the soldier dropped a cold sweat as the growls fell silent.
"... Alright, I think we should get out of here." Lirus stated.
As they took a step forward, the ground began to rumble and shake uncontrollably. Nearby trees rattled around as the more damaged ones fell to the ground with audible thuds. The duo bumped into each other out of shock and kept close as they looked around with unease.
When they looked down, decayed hands spiked up from the ground. With the hands rose up mutilated bodies, all of them with deftly hammered metal parts bonded to their bodies and a horrendous eye-watering stench.
Under the moonlight, their bloody torn open chest cavities, rotting flesh and large metal claws could be seen for miles. They shambled mindlessly and slowly towards the duo with their mouths agape.
"Alright! Zombies. Wonderful... ugh." Lirus groaned.
Nocta covered her face with her hands and rattled in fear while Lirus clenched the knife in his fist. They put their backs to each other as they stepped away from the crowd of undead.
"Wh-what's with these things?" The schoolgirl yelled out.
"They're definitely not any common undead considering they're the same creatures that made those claw marks." Lirus observed as he made a battle stance.
"Well... umm, should we try and fend them off? I mean, there are a lot of them." Nocta nervously suggested as she turned to face him.
"Let's just try our luck. And you may as well show off how good you really are - cause I'm still kind of sketchy about what you told me." Lirus stated with a grin.
"... Trust me, I won't disappoint. Just watch." Nocta deviously stated as she gave a thumbs up.
Once she turned away from Lirus, she was met with the close-up face of one of the undead. Its mouth tore open and revealed copious amounts of maggots and gray slime-like drool as it lurched toward her.
In response, Nocta shrieked at the top of her lungs and retaliated in her fear. She summoned a blade made from her shadows that vertically bisected the zombie as dry dark-red blood shot out from it.
She then went on to attack the other undead in a panicked frenzy - she flew through the air and threw shadow blades at the crowd as she screeched:
"DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!"
Lirus looked on in awe at the onslaught she caused with widened eyes.
"Damn! She wasn't kidding. And to think she's just a teenager..."
As Lirus was distracted, a zombie gashed him in the back with its claws. He jumped forward and let out an anguished yell only to turn around and shove the knife through the zombie's forehead.
It kept moving, only for Lirus to blast out a large wave of yellow energy out of the hilt of the knife. The headless corpse fell over backwards as Lirus shifted his attention.
"At least they're not completely different." He cautiously muttered.
Lirus shot off crescent-shaped waves of yellow light energy from the knife that zoomed through the crowd of undead and sliced them into pieces.
Nocta stopped her rampage and landed to catch a breath, only for a legless zombie to grab onto her left leg. Her reaction was less than amused as she covered her "territory" from view with her hand:
"Whoa! Get away from there! This is no way to treat a lady - I don't care if you have worms coming out of your eye, that's no excuse!" Nocta furiously shouted, followed by a violent kick to the zombie's face.
The resulting shadows that shot out from her kick were inexplicably long spears that gored the zombie and hit some of the trees by complete accident.
"... Note to self, do not ever get Nocta angry or that'll happen to me." He mused as he saw the incident.
As they kept on fighting, the crowds of undead stopped coming. Lirus went up to Nocta, who used her shadows to beat in an zombie's body until it was nothing more than a pile of gooey crimson. Her face was twisted with fury, but as Lirus went up to her, her anger was quickly replaced with a meek smile.
"... Oh, I'm sorry you had to see that." She shamefully muttered as her shadows dissolved from view.
"What was that all about?" Lirus yelled in astonishment.
"It's... nothing, really. I've just had some severe necrophobia issues ever since I was little. That's why I never go to funerals unless it's inside." Nocta muttered as she twiddled her fingers.
"... Wow. I feel really bad for you now, cause you can't really call yourself a witch if you're afraid of the dead." Lirus teased.
"Hey! You just saw me tear those guys a clean new one - and besides, I won't stay afraid forever. I just got to work on facing my fears, is all." Nocta lashed out.
"Okay, okay, I'm just saying. Now come on. How about we go before more of those guys show up?" Lirus suggested.
"You lead the way." Nocta muttered.
The two of them went forward until Nocta noticed the slashes on the soldier's back.
"You're hurt! What happened?" She said with a concerned tone.
"Ah... One of the dead guys got me while my guard was down. It's alright, though - this is nothing compared to what I had to go through one time. Vampires are not fun." He replied.
"... I don't want to know. But what should we do about this wound? It looks pretty deep." Nocta asked.
"I'll be fine. I know a bit of healing magic in case this stuff ever happens." Lirus reassured.
"Oh, I see. We should get somewhere safe and treat your wounds there." Nocta suggested.
"Alright." The soldier replied.
As they were about to walk back into the jungle, they stopped once they heard the ear-splitting roar of a far-off creature. A large entity tore down palm trees and made mini-earthquakes with every step as it charged forward.
"Oh lord, what is it now?" Lirus asked as he slapped a hand against his forehead.
"Another "friend", I suppose." The schoolgirl stated.
As the footsteps stopped, a giant silhouette jumped several feet into the air from the grove of palm trees.
As the entity smashed against the ground upon impact, Lirus and Nocta nearly tripped over themselves. The creature was an absolutely hulking corpse with a mini-gun grafted onto its left arm. It gave off an impressive roar and left the two dumbfounded in its wake.
"Where did this guy come from?" Nocta complained as she put on an overwhelmed smirk.
"Super beefed-up cyborg zombies with guns... Now I have seen everything. Nocta, get behind me." Lirus stated.
"How come? It's not like your body can withstand bullets... Can it?" The schoolgirl curiously asked.
"Trust me, I'm not thick enough to deal with that. No, I've got a better idea." He replied.
As he raised his right arm, a lavender-colored barrier came up as the giant zombie charged at them in an ape-like manner. It threw a fearsome punch with its right arm, with the impact causing the duo to slide back a few paces. Nocta held onto the soldier as dust flew up, with visible strain showing up on his face.
Nocta shot off spinning blades from her shadows at the creature only to get the blades effortlessly smacked away by the mini-gun arm. Lirus poked out his knife from the barrier and shot yellow beams from his knife at the creature, which caused it to stumble back.
In response, the creature let out a furious roar as the barrels on its minigun spun faster and faster.
"Oh boy. Stay close!" The soldier motioned to the schoolgirl as he put both hands on the barrier.
The creature barraged the duo with a steady flow of rapid bullets. The onslaught strained the barrier considerably as it broke out into small cracks.
"Why a minigun of all things?" Lirus stated as sweat dropped from his face.
Nocta saw him struggle to keep the barrier up and looked around frantically. She turned her attention to the creature's gun arm and made a bladed pillar rise up from her shadows with a stomp of her foot. With a metal clang, the minigun was knocked off balance but quickly fired back at the duo.
"No! Why didn't it work? Well... Might as well try the body!" She anxiously thought.
With a swift move of her hand, the same shadow swerved and pelted the creature straight in the chest. The force of her blow made the creature fall over backwards, with Lirus falling to his knees out of exhaustion. The barrier shattered as Lirus looked up to the schoolgirl with a grateful smile.
"... Thanks. What would have happened if I didn't find you?" He stated as he held a hand out to Nocta.
"You would have been kibble. Now, come on - let's get rid of our 'buddy'!" The schoolgirl said as she helped him up.
"Of course!" He nodded in response.
As the goliath got up from the ground and composed itself, it attempted to use the minigun again but got intercepted by a crescent blade that Lirus fired out. It cut clean through the gun, with sparks of electricty and dry blood leaking out of it.
In retaliation, the creature lunged forward and threw down a mammoth-sized fist at Lirus only to be blocked by a shield formed from shadows. With another move of Nocta's hand, the shadows creeped onto the creature and ripped its right arm clean off with sharp tendrils.
Without any other way to attack, the zombie opened its mouth and fired out a reddish-black laser straight toward them. Lirus stood still only to backhand the laser with another barrier, which blew apart trees in a large red explosion.
Nocta summoned shadows and strapped them tight around the creature's body as Lirus jumped into the air. He grew a translucient yellow blade of energy to the end of the knife and dive-bombed towards the creature.
He landed straight on the goliath's shoulders and dug the blade deep into its forehead. Lirus snapped off the light sword edge as he hopped back to Nocta. The creature's body fell to the ground in a gory mess while the duo stood back to catch their breath.
"... That was a bit too close for my tastes." Lirus sighed in relief.
"No kidding... We should run away before more show up. I don't want to keep pushing our luck." Nocta proclaimed.
"Good idea. Let's get the hell out of here!" He replied.
Lirus and Nocta delved back into the jungle and sprinted through the darkness together. Before long, they found themselves in front of a brick gate with black metal doors.
It was guarded by what seemed to be pale-skinned boys with dirty blue hair wearing white robes and dark green berets. They bore angelic wings, held spears in both hands and looked on Lirus and Nocta with stoic glances.
The door they were guarding was open.
"Umm... What is this?" Nocta asked.
"Kids? Here? Well, if that isn't strange, then I don't know what is. Should we go and meet them?" Lirus asked.
"I don't know... something's not right about them. Scratch that, there's a lot about them that's not right." She muttered in a cautious tone.
"Hmm... We may as well give it a try. Come on." He motioned as he went on ahead.
As Lirus and Nocta reluctantly went up to the gates, the guards put on small insincere smiles.
"Excuse me. Who are you?" Lirus inquired.
"We're just guards... on guard duty. What of it?" The one on the left replied.
"Well, why are you here? I thought this was a deserted island. And besides, we just came back from fighting the undead." The soldier questioned.
"We know that. You'll find out it's quite populated, master Lirus." The one on the right stated.
Upon the boy saying the words 'master Lirus', the duo stepped back a bit. Apprehensively, Lirus gripped onto his knife.
" ... How do you know my name?" He questioned as he raised his eyebrow.
"Oh, our masters know all about you. They've been watching you ever since you landed here." The boy replied.
The two boys slowly waved their hands toward the gate ahead, speaking in unison all the while.
"Go on. They're waiting for you inside."
Lirus and Nocta paused out of indecision but eventually walked inside. Without warning, the black metal gates immediately shut behind them and made Nocta jump. She let out a small squeal but promptly covered her mouth while Lirus raised an eyebrow at her.
Ahead of them was a two-story building with several grey stone fences surrounding the sides and a path that led up to it. It was a grey stone walkway illuminated with black metal lanterns and fireflies that fluttered across the sky.
They slowly walked up to the front porch and knocked on the wooden door only for it to creak open.
To greet the duo was a slender, fair-skinned woman with long yellow hair tied into twin pigtails, blue eyes, long red nails and an elaborately designed black, red and orange dress that showcased her cleavage.
"Hi there!" The woman energetically stated.
"Jeez, lady..." Lirus mumbled under his breath as he looked away.
"Uh... hello. Who are you, miss?" Nocta asked.
"Who am I? My name is Linoura Tuleriit." She replied.
"Oh, alright then. Do you mind telling us about what's going on here?" Lirus asked.
"Of course! But... why don't you two come into my house, first of all?" The woman smiled as she waved them in.
Lirus and Nocta took her offer and went in. To their surprise, the inside was decorated with lavish furniture, red carpet and a chandelier hanging overhead. In the middle of the room, there was a fireplace with a phoenix-shaped symbol marked over the mantle. The duo sat down on a large sofa as Linoura sat down on a red fur-trimmed chair.
"Okay... Allow me to introduce myself. My name is-" The soldier said, only to cut off.
"Ah, don't tell me! You're Lirus Trescale, and you're Nocta Ventelle." Linoura stated.
"Yeah, but... how do you know our names?" The schoolgirl asked as unease welled up in her gut.
"You see, I've been watching you two. And that basically means I listened in on your conversations." Linoura explained.
"... Red flags are already being waved, to be honest." Lirus replied.
"I know, but I had to make sure that you two were safe. You remember when the plane was crashing? Who saved you from certain death? I did." Linoura proclaimed.
"You did? Well I'm very grateful for that, but how did you...?" Lirus stated.
"I was just at the right time." She replied.
"I'm kind of confused, though... what happened to my stuff? I had a whole hyperspace pocket's worth of things." Lirus stated.
"I honestly don't know, sweetie. Maybe the plane rescue didn't go as smooth as I thought." Linoura stated as she shrugged her shoulders.
"So I could have lost all of my stuff forever? My incredibly valuable sword was in there!" Lirus grumbled as he smacked both hands against his face.
"Hey, who were those two kids at the gate? They seemed kind of... off." Nocta asked.
"Oh, them? They were my guards to make sure none of the zombies get in here. They're sort of tricksters too, so don't take it personally if they act weird around you." The woman said.
"Okay then... But wait a minute. Why are there even zombies here anyway?" Lirus questioned.
"I'm not sure myself. They just started showing up out of nowhere and ever since then we've had to barricade the area." Linoura said.
"Well... why do you even stay here? I mean, this place isn't a very good location to live in. We're in the middle of nowhere in the ocean, no less." Nocta asked.
"I'm not living here, sweetie - this is just the house we stay in. You see, I'm a scientist. I came here with my assistant and my guards to do some research on this island, but with the zombies showing up and all, progress has kind of slowed down." The woman stated.
"Oh, I see. How about we help you until we find a way to get off the island? Because if you've been listening in on us, you should know that we want to leave." Lirus stated.
"I wouldn't have it any other way!" Linoura happily said as she clasped her hands together.
"Thank you, miss Linoura! Say... what time is it? Me and Lirus have been running around for god knows how long and we're kind of tired." Nocta asked.
"It's midnight. Now that you bring it up... I think it's time we all got a bit of shut-eye, don't you agree?" Linoura said as she got up from her chair.
"Yeah. But where are we going to sleep?" The soldier asked.
"We've actually made rooms for you upstairs since we knew you were coming." Linoura replied.
"Well... thanks a lot? I appreciate your hospitality, miss." He mumbled as he and Nocta walked up the stairs.
"You're welcome! Please, make yourselves at home!" She curtseyed with a warm smile.
As the two of them went away, Linoura's thoughts ran wild but didn't break her smile:
"Finally... we'll be together again."
Once upstairs, the duo went into two seperate rooms. They were small square-shaped rooms with one window each and plainly colored white walls, ceiling fans and well-made beds.
On the sides of their beds were nighttables with digital clocks that read twelve o' clock. Exhausted, they stuck to undressing and jumped into the beds without hesitation.
The clocks now read four thirty five A.M., with the soldier and the schoolgirl deep asleep. Nocta rustled around in her sleep with a distraught face only to be awakened by a sharp, unknown noise.
Her heart thumped in and out rapidly as she looked around in the room, which was pitch-black except for the lavender light that came in from the window.
"What was... that?" She muttered as she held onto her blanket.
She got out of bed and looked out the window, only to see nothing but blackened rows of palm trees, the mountain and the moon in the sky. Despite her anxious state, she walked back to bed only to hear another noise that sounded eerily familiar to a man's scream.
"Okay, so I wasn't imagining it! That was definitely someone in pain. Could it have been... No!" She muttered.
Nocta ran out the door and went to Lirus's room. She burst through the door only to find him peacefully asleep in the bed. The schoolgirl let out a sigh of relief as she stood in the doorway.
"Oh thank god. But if it wasn't him, then who? He deserves to know about this too." She thought out loud.
The schoolgirl went up to Lirus and poked him until he woke up:
"Lirus. Lirus! Get up."
"Wh-what is it, Nocta? What's wrong?" He drowsily asked.
"I think I heard someone scream. And it wasn't a dream, either." She anxiously replied.
"Positive? How do you know you weren't just-" He muttered only to get cut off by a shrill, high-pitched woman's scream.
Upon hearing it, chills ran up their spines as Lirus jumped out of bed.
"I see what you mean. The hell even was that?" The soldier questioned.
"I don't think I want to know, but we have to go and see anyway." Nocta stated.
"Right. Let's go, Noc- jeez!" Lirus exclaimed as he noticed what little the schoolgirl was wearing.
"What? Is something wrong?" She asked.
"No, it's just... Go get dressed. You're revealing to me that you're a mature, grown-up young woman." He muttered, looking away.
"... What are you- Oh. Oh! Mister Lirus, I understand completely. I'll just be going now." She awkwardly giggled as she snuck out the door.
As Nocta left, Lirus kept blushing as he went to put on his clothes. He looked back to see if she was gone only to turn around and slap his hands against his face.
"I really didn't need to see that."
After they got ready, the fully-dressed duo ran down the stairs to see what happened. The lights were off with the exception of glowing purple-lit candles and the orange fireplace.
The duo walked into a small kitchen with pots and half-finished bowls of strange brown meat were scattered about. As Lirus and Nocta walked forward, a familiar voice chastised them.
"Just where do you two think you're going?"
Lirus and Nocta turned around only to see Linoura standing by the stairway with the same dress as before. She had a disapproving scowl on her face as she crossed both her arms.
"Oh, it's just you, miss Linoura." The schoolgirl stated as her heart pounded.
"It's four in the morning. What are you doing?" Linoura asked.
"Well, we heard something and it woke both of us up." Lirus explained.
"Oh that? It was just a new experiment we were trying out. Nothing to be scared about." The woman stated.
"Experiment? But I thought we all went to sleep." Nocta questioned.
"I didn't. You see, my work is never done, so it's very rare that I get some rest." Linoura said.
"Oh, alright. If that's all, then we'll just be going back to sleep." Nocta stated, walking back to the stairs.
"You had me worried there for a second." Lirus stated, going up with her.
Just as they were halfway up the stairs, Linoura suggested to them:
"Hey, wait. Since you guys are up, how about you come and see the experiment for yourselves? I promise that it won't take all night."
"... Should we? I mean, I don't think screams are a good sign." Nocta mumbled.
"Well... if you insist, miss Linoura. Come on, Nocta. I bet we can't say no, anyway." The soldier motioned as they went back downstairs.
"Okay then. The two of you just follow me now, alright?" Linoura stated with a smile.
The duo trailed behind her as they went outside from the kitchen area. They walked onto a dark gray compound littered with unlit lanterns and fences covering the entire area. After a short walk, the three of them wound up in the middle of a large complex with brick buildings scattered across the area.
"So what's this experiment about, miss?" Nocta asked.
"Yeah. I'm kind of curious." Lirus stated.
Linoura walked out in front of them, with her back turned.
"Well... here's how it goes. You're really dense to let me trap you!" The woman yelled out as she snapped her fingers.
Spotlights shone on Lirus and Nocta as more of the guards from before crowded around them. Surprised, the duo put their backs to each other as they got into battle stances.
"I won't hurt either of you, though. I'm just going to return both of you to your true forms!" Linoura remarked with a vile grin.
"What's the meaning of this?" Lirus demanded.
"Lirus, dear, I may as well not keep lying to you anymore. Do you know who shot down the plane? Yours truly! The person who threw the Silencing Knife at Nocta? Also my fault! Don't you see? I've brought both of you here for a reason!" The yellow-haired woman laughed maniacally as she held a hand in front of her face.
"What reason? What could be worth murdering dozens of people?" The schoolgirl asked.
"Hey, I'd gladly kill hundreds as long as it involves getting my brother back..." Linoura stated.
Upon hearing the word brother, Lirus's eyes widened.
"Yes, you! We're both of the Zealite demon species... but somehow you were reborn as a human. It's about time I corrected that." Linoura stated as her grin grew wider.