It was a beautiful starlit night on the planet of Divixus. The moon illuminated everything below with its lucid lavender glow, specifically a large tropical island. There was a man lying unconscious of the beach of said island - a few moments passed until he started to wake up. When he did, he shook his head and slowly got up from the ground.
Upon doing so, it was revealed that he had blue eyes, a white cravat, black military clothes, black boots that went up his knees, a blue cape, short yellow hair except for three bangs on his face, and an armband on his right arm with a treble clef insignia on it. He searched his surroundings, still in a daze from before. On his left, there was the wide expanse of a dark blue ocean, going on for as far the eye can see. On his right, there was a lush, beautiful jungle populated by flora and fauna.
"Wh... where am I...?" He asked, his eyes half-open.
Upon turning around, he noticed a large silver plane on fire. It was sandwiched between several palm trees and seemed to be considerably damaged.
"Is that the plane I was on? What happened!?" The man shouted, running over.
When he got to it, however, the flames got even worse. They spewed out harder before causing a massive explosion, lighting up several trees on fire right next to it.
"C-Crap! What could have caused this to happen?" He questioned.
As he backed away from the burning metal deathtrap that the plane became, he ducked onto a palm tree, sliding down onto the ground and sitting.
"I don't think anyone else got away from that... I just might be the only person to get out of there alive." He stated, breathing heavily.
After a while of feeling sorrow for the dead, he thought of an idea. He searched his hammerspace pocket in order to find something in there, but was both shocked and disappointed when there was nothing inside.
"Wait a sec... All of my things are gone! Someone must have stolen them. But who? From the looks of this place, this seems to be a deserted island." The man pointed out, biting his lower lip.
He got up and walked around for a bit, before winding up against a large boulder right next to a large path that led into the lush, fertile forest of palm trees. Upon looking up, it would reveal a large mountain that could be rivaled by a skyscraper in terms of height.
"... Just what kind of place is this, anyway? From the window, it looked like it was entirely coastal, so getting help is probably not an option." He muttered to himself.
But then he looked towards the path, getting ideas in his head:
"Since everyone died in the crash, there has to be some person or thing living on this island. I mean, everything doesn't just disappear like that for no reason. Besides, I have to see if there's at least some way off of this place. But wait... what if there's something in that jungle that could wipe the floor with me? Or worse? I should look around for something to defend myself with. But what, exactly...?" He pondered.
As he started his search for something, he found a sturdy-looking wooden stick on the ground. It was lying on the other side of a large 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, though... But hell, desperate times call for desperate measures." The man contemplated, going over to pick it up.
However, upon doing so, he noticed a pale figure right next to him. When he took a good look at what it was, he jumped back out of pure shock, falling flat on his back.
"Holy shit! Agh..." The man yelled, worked up from the sight.
Said figure was the skeleton of what could be assumed to be a teenage girl wearing an elaborately designed and slightly torn black and purple high-school uniform, a purple skirt, a purple tie, long gray hair, a red hair band, a red scarf, black stocking that went up past her knees, and white shoes.
However, the thing that stood out the most about the skeleton was an ornate knife-like object impaled through the empty cavity that was her chest. It had a blue glowing blade, along with a silver hilt that had a treble clef symbol marked it, giving it a unique look about it. The man kept staring at the corpse long enough before he decided to investigate it.
"What in the... Who was this? Guess I'll never know... But she doesn't look like she belongs here- that's a Blackmore High School senior's uniform that she's wearing, even if it is altered quite a bit. She's a Libratan judging from her clothes, but then that only brings up the question of just why she would be here anyway." The man muttered to himself.
However, his attention shifted to the knife pierced through her chest.
"Hmm? Alright... The cause of death. Please excuse me, but I need to have this." He stated, going over to take it.
As he went to pull it out, however, he noticed something peculiar about where it was stabbed- there was a gray stone shaped like a phoenix stuck in place where it was, which was very strange considering it was inside the girl.
"A... crystal? Now, why would she have something like this? Well, doesn't matter." The man stated, pulling out the knife from her chest.
The stone fell to the ground, where it then broke into several smaller pieces.
"... 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.
He walked away towards the path that led into the dark jungle of palm trees. However, as he did that, the crystal inside of the skeleton started to reform, gaining a crimson color in the process. In turn, it made the corpse stir, with the bones shaking wildly. A bright red glow emanated from the stone that spread throughout the rest of the body, until it was enveloped entirely. When the light cleared, nothing else could be described other than a miracle- the girl that was supposedly dead started to move again, with her skin and organs all in their respective places, her complexion as healthy as a normal person's.
Upon being alive again, it could be revealed that her hair was a beautiful shade of black, purple nails and green eyes. She inhaled greatly, as if she didn't use her lungs for a long time and started to breathe normally. The man heard this and turned around only to be taken aback by the sudden revival of the girl.
"Oh my god! It can't be!" He jumped in surprise, running over to her.
He slid to the ground, kneeling beside her.
"How are you alive?" The man asked, bewildered by what just happened.
"Whu-what...?" She drowsily muttered.
Her eyes were half-closed and she reacted lazily, as if she was just woken up in the middle of the night. She stood up, showing that she just a head smaller than the man.
"You were just a skeleton a second ago, and now you're a flesh and blood girl again! How in the blue bloody hell did you do that?" He shouted.
"U-uhhh... I was dead? For how long?" The girl asked, rubbing her head.
"Well... you were reduced to bones, so I assume several weeks had passed." He replied.
"R-r-really? Oh no! But wait a minute... that can't be. I don't smell that rotten." The girl remarked, sniffing 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 Immorta Stone. It must have killed me and decayed my body to the point where I become a skeleton." The girl explained.
"... Immorta Stone? Strange... I've never heard of that before. And what's your name, anyway? You look like you're a student from Blackmore High." The man questioned, getting suspicious about this.
"My name? It's Nocta Ventelle. And yes, I am a student at Blackmore- a senior, actually. As for the Immorta Stone, it's the phoenix shaped gem inside of my body- it's a very rare and treasured piece as it has the power to fully restore people upon dying. It only works when it's bonded to someone, though." She explained.
"Hmm... Very interesting. So, this Immorta Stone can bring you back from the dead whenever you want?" He replied, putting a hand to his chin.
"Yes, it can. But to think that there could be something that could stop the magic flow..." The girl stated.
"Do you mean this? I found this pierced through your chest." The man said, showing her the knife.
Her face turned white, and she jumped back in fear.
"Oh my god! Sir, do you know what this is? This is a Silencing Dagger- it has the power to prevent magic from being used! That means, 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, with a distraught expression on her face.
A look of pure horror entered the soldier's face as he imagined her fate.
"... That is a terrifying image. Well, I'm glad I came across you then, Nocta." He said, walking away.
"Say... what's your name, sir?" She asked sweetly.
"Ah... Well, mine is Lirus Trescale, and I'm pleased to meet you." He said, holding out his hand.
"Likewise! So, what brings you here, sir Lirus?" Nocta greeted.
"... 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. I'm considered by a lot of people to be a prodigy. You'll never believe this, though - I'm even being acclaimed by Princess Diana herself. She took me in to be her apprentice!" Nocta stated.
"You don't say? To think, of all people, you would actually meet her standards." Lirus remarked, crossing his arms.
"I know, right? But that's not all- after I became her apprentice, 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 for possible tidbits. That is, until I flew over this place." Nocta mumbled, getting a depressed look on her face.
"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 just some odd feeling about this place. As soon as I dove down to the ground, I felt like I was being watched. I wanted to ignore it, but before I could even blink, I got stabbed in the chest by that same dagger you just pulled out of me. I didn't even see who threw it." She explained.
"Well, there goes one option. So, the knife just came out of nowhere and pinned you against that rock?" Lirus questioned.
"And boy, did it hurt. But anyway- what about it, sir Lirus?" Nocta asked.
"... I think my doubts about this place being inhabited are now 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 my troop. But as we were going back, the plane got shot down without warning and we crash-landed here." Lirus recounted.
"Really? How many people were hurt?" She yelled out.
"I'm afraid I was the only person to make it out alive. I can say that without a doubt, considering that the plane up and exploded as I tried to see what happened." He grimly stated.
"Good god... That's horrible!" Nocta stated, with a look of despair on her face.
"I know. Not only did my guys kick the bucket, but so did dozens of civilians. I wish we could stay and pay our respects, but I'm afraid that if we stay around here too long, something dangerous is going to come our way. Now come on- let's go." He motioned, going on forward.
"O-of course. I'm right behind you." She nervously replied, following him.
The duo delved into the jungle, going deep into unknown territory. It was pitch-black, with the thick leaves of the trees covering whatever light there was, offset only by the glow of the knife Lirus took and the purple fire Nocta summoned. The only noises were those of several insects, each of them making their own distincive sound, breaking whatever silence there could have been.
As Lirus and Nocta went further and further, however, something felt wrong. They were both filled with nameless paranoia, staring side-to-side into the darkness, expecting... something. But that something never came, making them all the more uneasy. The barely-visible blackness surrounding them kept playing at their minds, leading them to hold each other's hands.
This kept on until they wandered out into a large open area. It was a spacious field filled with several boulders, with the lavender light of the moon being a welcome change as opposed to the inky blackness of before. The duo then stepped towards the middle of the field, looking around.
"Sir Lirus... Can you let go of my hand?" Nocta asked.
"Huh?" He said.
Lirus then looked down to see that he was indeed holding the schoolgirl's hand, much to his surprise.
"Oh. Uh, sure. I didn't even know how that got there." He muttered, blushing embarassedly and facing forward.
"Of course you don't." She giggled mischievously.
"Hey, it's not like that. You're probably like seventeen or something- I'm twenty-one. I don't dig younger girls." Lirus stated.
"Aw, I was just teasing you. Besides, I think we have more important things to worry about now anyway." Nocta said.
"Right. Now—hey, wait a minute. Nocta, do you see something on that rock over there?" Lirus stated, noticing something.
"Hmm? What is it, sir Lirus?" She asked, with him going over to it.
He went over to the boulder, noticing that there were claw marks scraped against it. They were deep indentations, as if something incredibly strong had made them.
"... Damn! What kind of claws can cut through solid rock?." Lirus muttered, feeling his hand through the indentations.
"Oh my- look over there! There's more of them." She turned around, pointing at several other rock formations and trees.
Each and every one were blemished with slices and tears, with some trees even on the verge of falling down due to how badly damaged they were.
"... I think we're not welcome here either." Lirus mumbled.
"There might be something here as well. We should keep- what was that?" Nocta stammered, jumping from something she heard.
"What was what?" Lirus asked, turning to face her.
"I heard rustling. I think we're not-" The schoolgirl replied, only for the noise to pop up again.
She stepped back towards Lirus, both of them growing afraid the more the sound came about. The rustling faded shortly after, only to have something else happen entirely- the ground beneath their feet shook wildly. It rattled the entire place, much to the duo's dismay. However, it also stopped abruptly, leaving them unwitting at what would happen next.
"... Alright, I think we should-" Lirus mumbled under his breath, only to get cut off midsentence.
However, before they could even blink, a decaying hand spiked up from the ground. With the hands rose up mutilated bodies, all of them having deftly hammered metallic appendages to them. Under the moonlight, they looked absolutely grotesque with their bloody, torn open chest cavities, rotting flesh and large metal claws. They shambled mindlessly and painfully towards the duo, ready to consume them.
"Alright! Zombies. Wonderful... ugh." Lirus groaned.
Nocta was speechless, covering her face with her hands, showing that she was unabashedly afraid of these creatures whereas Lirus clutched onto the knife from before, having a defiant look on his face. They put their backs to each other and stepped away from the crowd of undead.
"Wh-what's with these things?" The schoolgirl yelled out.
"They're definitely not any common undead- they must be the same creatures that made those claw marks." Lirus observed, keeping a battle stance while watching the horde's slow approach.
"Well... umm, should we try and fend them off? I mean, there are a lot of them." Nocta nervously suggested, turning over her shoulder to face him.
"Let's just try our luck. And you may as well show off how good you really are- cause I'm kind of sketchy about what you told me." Lirus smirked.
"... Trust me, I won't disappoint. Just watch." Nocta deviously stated, turning to look in front of her.
However, as she did so, she was met with the festering face of one of the undead. Its mouth was opened wide, revealing several maggots and a copious amount of drool, ready to bite her. In response, Nocta shrieked at the top of her lungs and retaliated in her fear, causing the shadow beneath her feet to spike up into a large bladed pillar, slicing the zombie clean in half with its blood raining down from above. She then went on to attack the other undead in a panicked frenzy- flying in the air, summoning spikes and slicing at them with solidified shadows, all while countinuously spouting:
"DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE! DIE!"
Lirus looked on in awe at the onslaught she caused with his mouth agape.
"Damn! She wasn't kidding. And to think all that power is stuck in a teenage girl..." He remarked.
As he was distracted, however, a zombie attempted to slash at him with its large metallic claws. He felt it coming, but didn't get away in time, getting three large cuts on his right arm. Jumping back in pain, he let out a short yell while holding his injured arm. He still counterattacked by jamming the knife into the skull of the zombie. It wasn't enough to kill it, but then he followed up with a large yellow laser blast that fired out of the hilt of the knife, eradicating the enemy's head. The once-moving corpse fell over backwards and stayed dead permanently.
"At least they're not completely different." He muttered, cautious if it would rise up.
Lirus then faced more of the undead and shot off crescent-shaped waves of yellow light energy at them from the knife, slicing a majority of them in half, vertically and horizontally. Nocta on the other hand, had already diminished her side's set of undead to small numbers, killing the rest by creating shadowy spikes that shot from her back and impaled many a corpse's head. As she was panting from both anxiety and exhaustion, the torso of a zombie grabbed onto her left leg and looked up at her. Her reaction was less than amused, covering her "territory" from view with her hand:
"Whoa! How dare you try to look at my goodies! This is no way to treat a lady- I don't care if you have worms coming out of your eye; you're not going to look up my skirt!" Nocta furiously shouted, followed by a violent kick to the zombie's face supercharged with Dark magic.
The resulting shadows that shot out from her kick were inexplicably long, goring the zombie and even hitting some of the trees by complete accident. Lirus, observing her attack, commented on what happened:
"... Note to self, do not ever get Nocta angry or that'll happen to me." He mused, filled with both fear and intrigue while holding his hand to his chin.
As they kept on fighting, the zombies seemed to stop coming. Lirus then went up to Nocta, who was using her shadows to beat in an already dead zombie's body until it was nothing more than a pile of gooey crimson. There was an expression of pure rage on her face as she did so, but when Lirus went up to her, it faded and was replaced with a meek smile.
"... Oh, I'm sorry you had to see that." She shamefully muttered, with the shadows she made dissolving from view.
"What in the hell was that all about?" Lirus yelled, astonished by her brutality.
"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.
"... W-o-o-ow. 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.
But then she noticed the slashes on the soldier's arm, quickly switching from being upset to concern for him:
"You're hurt! What happened?"
"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, remembering a certain incident.
"... 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.
However, as they turned around, there sounded large footsteps. A large creature was coming their way, tearing down palm trees and making mini-earthquakes with every step. A look of dread fell upon the duo's faces as they imagined what was coming.
"Oh god, what is it now?" Lirus asked, slapping his hand against his face.
"Another "friend", I suppose." The schoolgirl stated.
As the footsteps stopped, a large creature jumped several feet into the air from the grove of palm trees, making a guttural growl as it did so. Upon the rather bumpy landing, it was revealed to be an absolutely hulking corpse, standing at eight feet tall and with more metallic appendages than the others before it, including a minigun that was grafted onto its left arm. It gave off an impressive roar, leaving the two dumbfounded in its wake.
"Oh sweet lord. Where did this guy come from?" Nocta complained, slapping her hand against her forehead.
"Steroid cyborg zombies with guns... Now I've seen everything. Nocta, get behind me." Lirus stated.
"How come? It's not like your body can withstand bullets... Can it?" The schoolgirl asked, legitimately curious.
"Oh trust me, if I was invulnerable to gunfire, I'd have six thousand less problems per minute to worry about. No, I've got a better idea." He replied.
As he raised his right arm, a lavender-colored barrier came up with it, protecting the front of the duo. With that, the giant zombie charged at them in an ape-like manner, throwing a punch with its muscular right arm. Upon colliding with Lirus's barrier, it knocked the two of them back by quite a bit, with them skidding against the ground to stop themselves from falling on their backs.
Nocta, in retaliation, used her shadows to form spinning blades that propelled themselves towards the creature only to have them knocked away effortlessly by the goliath with its minigun, much to her surprise. Lirus, poking out his hand out from the barrier, shot out yellow beams from his knife at the creature, but they seemed to cause no visible damage, only making it stumble back.
In response, the zombie let out a anger-filled roar, with the multiple barrels on its minigun starting to spin faster and faster. Due to his military training, Lirus got a terrified look on his face when he noticed this little detail.
"Oh crap! Stay close!" The soldier motioned to the schoolgirl, with him putting both of his hands on the barrier to strengthen it.
With that, the goliath of a zombie fired out an incredible spread of lead, barraging the shield with nearly a thousand bullets in less than a second. The onslaught strained Lirus considerably, as shown by the lavender barrier breaking out into small cracks and the beads of sweat accumilating on his face.
"Aarghh... Why a minigun of all things?" Lirus smirked, realizing the situation he was in and making the best of it.
Nocta saw him struggle to keep the barrier up, concerned for both his safety and her own. Thoughts ran through her head as she observed the situation, thinking up a strategy:
"Oh no... He's not going to last at this rate. And the second that shield breaks, the minigun's going to tear us into shreds! Oh, if there was only a way to get past this... Wait a minute. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so I may as well try to break its defenses!"
She then stomped her foot against the ground, summoning a shadow to sneak across the ground and strike at the zombie's minigun by turning into a bladed pillar. It didn't go through, leaving her with little options.
"No! Why didn't it work? Well... If anything, I should at least stop it from firing at us!" She anxiously thought.
With a swift move of her hand, the same shadow turned into a pillar that hit the zombie diagonally into its chest, striking it backwards into a boulder. Lirus's barrier had shattered into several pieces from overexhaustion, with him falling to his knees shortly after.
"... Thanks. What would have happened if I didn't find you?" He stated, holding out his hand.
"You would have been swiss cheese and zombie food. Now, come on- let's get rid of our 'buddy'!" The schoolgirl said, helping him up.
"Right!" He nodded in response.
As the corpse composed itself, it attempted to use the minigun again but was intercepted by Lirus, who ran straight toward it and fired off another crescent-shaped blade to cut it. Unlike Nocta's shadows, it sliced through the entire thing with little difficulty. In retaliation, the zombie tried to crush him with its tremendous strength, only to be blocked by a shadow that formed itself into a shield. With another move of her hand, Nocta made the shadow creep onto the zombie, causing tendrils of darkness to appear and rip its arm right out of its socket.
Without any other way to attack, the zombie opened its mouth and fired out a reddish-black laser straight toward them, only to have Lirus backhand it with another lavender barrier. The reflected laser hit the goliath directly, causing an explosion of dark magic to occur and knock it back a couple paces.
Using this as an opportunity, Nocta flew up into the air and then dive-bombed towards it, surrounded by a reddish-black aura. The resulting hit allowed her to pierce right on through the zombie's chest, with Lirus leading up with an attack of his own. He sprinted toward it, jumping high into the air while materializing a longer edge to the knife, making it into a sword of light energy.
He landed straight on the zombie's head, with him breaking off the light sword edge as he jumped away towards Nocta. With that, the corpse fell flat on its face as a bloody mess.
"... That was a bit too close for my tastes." Lirus remarked, sighing 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.
With that, the duo delved into the jungle once again, sprinting through the darkness together. Before long, they would eventually find themselves in yet another area.
They stood against a white gate with black metal doors, guarded by what seemed to be pale-skinned little boys wearing dark green berets, spears, blue and white robes, dirty blue hair, green eyes and had wings sprouting out of their backs. They also had a purple crescent moon symbol marked onto their foreheads. The doors they were guarding were open, much to Lirus and Nocta's surprise.
"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. I can't put my finger on it." She muttered, feeling a bit off.
"Hmm... We may as well give it a try. Come on." He motioned, with Nocta following him.
They walked up to the two kids and attempted to talk to them:
"Excuse me. Who are you?" Lirus inquired.
"We're just guards... on guard duty. What about it?" The one on the left replied.
"Well, why are you here? I thought this was a deserted island. And besides, this is a dangerous place." The soldier questioned.
"We know that. It's not dangerous to us though, master Lirus." The one on the right stated.
Upon the boy saying the words 'master Lirus', the duo was shocked beyond description. Apprehensively, Lirus stepped back and grabbed onto his sword just in case.
" ... How do you know my name?" He yelled.
"Oh, our masters know all about you. They've been watching you ever since you landed here." The boy replied, making an insincere smile.
The duo was speechless at this, leaving the two guard boys to speak in unison and wave their arms toward the gate:
"Go on. They're waiting for you inside."
Hesitating for a moment, the duo had walked through the gates. Without warning, the black metal bars shut behind them, much to their surprise. Nocta jumped and let out a small squeal, only for Lirus to put his finger to his mouth and make a shushing noise.
"Nocta! I don't have a good feeling about this place, so we should stay quiet and keep our heads low." He suggested, with her nodding in response.
They walked through unfamiliar territory, unsure of what could be waiting for them. It wasn't long enough before they came across a house- a two-story building with several grey stone fences surrounding the sides. It's otherwise average look was juxtaposed by the unusual visage of black metal lanterns lighting up the way to it. The moonlight glinting from above gave the house an ethereal glow, making it all the more uneasy to approach.
The duo decided to walk up to the front porch and knock on the door, still nervous about what could pop out at them. With the last knock, the door creaked open, making a sound that could make anyone cringe.
To greet the duo, there was a beautiful woman that had long yellow hair with purple highlights tied into twin-tails, blue eyes, blue eye shadow, a red cross-shaped mark on her left cheek, long red nails, an elaborately designed black, red and orange gothic lolita dress that showcased her cleavage, a blue choker with a red phoenix shaped symbol on it, blue crystal earrings, black stocking that went up to her knees, and white heeled shoes.
"Hi there!" The woman enthustiastically stated.
"Jeez, lady..." Lirus mumbled, taken aback by the person in front of him.
"Uh... hello. Who are you?" Nocta asked.
"Who am I? My name is Linoura Tuleriit, sweetie." 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 warmly, inviting them to go.
Lirus and Nocta took her offer and went in. To their surprise, it was much nicer on the inside, with lavish furniture and ornate decorations everywhere. There was even a fireplace, with a phoenix-shaped symbol marked over the mantle. The duo sat down on a large sofa while Linoura sat down in a comfortable red chair.
"Okay... Allow me to introduce myself. My name is-" The soldier was about to say, only to get interrupted midsentence by Linoura.
"Ah, don't tell me! You're Lirus Trescale, and you're Nocta Ventelle." She said.
"Yeah. But... how do you know our names?" The schoolgirl asked.
"You see, I've been watching you two. And that basically means I listened in on your conversations." Linoura explained.
"... That's super creepy, 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." Lirus stated.
"Aw, it's nothing." 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 crash rescue didn't go as smooth as I thought." Linoura smiled nervously, shrugging her shoulders.
"So I could have lost all of my stuff without being able to get it back? Son of a bi-" He was about to say.
"Hey, who were those two kids at the gate? They seemed kind of... off." Nocta asked, interrupting Lirus before he could finish.
"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." Nocta stated.
"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, clasping 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, getting 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 stated, with him and Nocta going up the stairs.
"You're welcome! Please, make yourselves at home!" She curtseyed, smiling warmly.
When the two of them had gone upstairs, Linoura thought this, keeping the smile on her face all the while:
"Finally... we'll be together again."
With that, the duo went into two seperate rooms. They were rather small, with one window each and plainly colored walls, ceiling fans and rather well-made beds. On the sides of their beds, there were nighttables with digital clocks that read twelve o' clock. There were no other clothes available for them, so they stuck to undressing. It didn't take them long to drift off into the dream world, especially after what they've gone through.
The clocks now read three thirty five AM. The soldier and the schoolgirl were deep in sleep, comfortably resting for the next day.
That is, until Nocta was awakened by a mysterious noise. She sprung up, confused at what the sound could have been. She looked around, seeing nothing but darkness except for the light that came in through the window.
"What was... that?" She muttered.
She decided to get out of bed and look out the window, only to see nothing but blackened rows of palm trees and the moon itself, nothing out of the ordinary. Without any reason to stay awake at this, she went back to bed. That is, until she heard the noise again. And this time it was eerily clear- it sounded like a man's scream. She jumped out of bed, increasingly afraid.
"Okay, I wasn't imagining something! That was definitely someone in pain. Could it have been... No!" She muttered.
Nocta then ran out the door, going over to Lirus's room. She burst through the door, only to find him peacefully asleep in the bed. Words could not describe how relieved she was.
"Oh, thank god. But if it wasn't him, then who? Maybe he deserves to know about it too."She thought.
The schoolgirl then went up to Lirus and poked him until he woke up:
"Lirus. Lirus! Get up."
"Wh-what is it, Nocta? What's wrong?" He asked, still drowsy.
"I think I heard someone scream out in pain. And it wasn't a dream, either." She replied, still anxious.
"Positive? How do you know you weren't just-" He muttered, only to get cut off by yet another scream, except this time it was that of a woman's.
Upon hearing it, chills ran up their spines as Lirus jumped out of bed.
"I see what you mean. Good god, what 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, noticing 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! Sir Lirus, I understand completely. I'll just be going now." She awkwardly giggled, sneaking 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 hand against his forehead.
"I swear, this is just one giant test of patience for me..."
With that, the duo ran down the stairs, fully dressed and ready to see what happened. The lights were off with the exception of lit candles and the fireplace, giving it an orange glow to the place. There was a doorway that led into what seemed to be a kitchen, with the duo going through it. But out of nowhere, Linoura appeared right behind them. She surprised the both of them as she chirped out:
"Just where do you two think you're going?"
Scared out of their minds, Lirus and Nocta jumped and turned around only to see the yellow-haired woman standing by the stairway, still wearing the dress from before and having a rather disdain look on her face.
"Oh, it's just you, miss Linoura." The schoolgirl stated, still shaking.
"It's three in the morning. What are you doing?" She 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 only very rarely that I get to 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 this:
"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." The soldier motioned, going back downstairs.
"Okay then. The two of you just follow me now, alright~?" Linoura said, walking on.
With that, the duo trailed behind her as they walked through a door in the kitchen area that led outside. It was a pitch-black area, illuminated only by more lanterns. The only sound was that of crickets chirping, but the atmosphere was heavy with discomfort. After what seemed to be a short walk, the three of them wound up in the middle of a large area.
"So, why are we out here anyway, miss?" Nocta asked.
"Yeah. I'm kind of curious." Lirus stated.
Linoura walked out in front of them, with her back turned. She started to get an evil smirk on her face and said this to the duo:
"Why? Well, it's simple... You walked right into my trap!" The woman stated, turning around to show her twisted expression.
With that, a spotlight shone itself on the duo, with more of the guards from before crowding around them, each of them holding out a lance. Surprised, the duo put their backs to each other, preparing themselves for battle. Linoura let out an especially extravagant laugh while holding her hand in front of her mouth, saying this right afterward:
"I won't hurt either of you, though. I'm just going to return both of you to your true forms!"
"Whoa, what the hell?! What's going on here?" The soldier 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.
"What reason? What could be worth killing dozens of people?" The schoolgirl asked.
"Heh! I'd gladly murder hundreds of people- their lives don't matter to me. But something does, though... And that's getting my brother back." Linoura stated, getting a somber look on her face.
Upon hearing the word brother, Lirus was frozen with fear. He stared blankly at Linoura, speechless, until he decided to say this:
"I'm your... brother?"
"Not only that, you're not supposed to be human. I'm a Zealite and therefore, so are you! But for some reason, you were reborn as a mortal... but that will quickly change." Linoura stated with a malicious grin on her face.