Chapter 9 - Connection to Ragna's past
Valiant awoke, he was in the library of Fardos lying on a bed. There were Hera, Isis, Aerodus, Riberus, Petros and Olga watching him.
- "He woke up...hello Valiant!", exclaimed Hera.
- "You made it Valiant! We are all very happy and proud, especially since we can say that we have already fought alongside you!", spoke Olga, bowing in a sign of respect.
Fardos approached everyone and said:
- "How nice that you woke up Valiant. Everything went as planned, with the godbreaker's energy we were able to separate the 2 dimensions that were once closely connected. The connections in different parts of the world have been severed, there is no longer any evidence of extra-dimensional activity."
Everyone was celebrating happily while Valiant was still getting out of bed. He felt sick and no one seemed to notice, Hera watched him with great joy and raised his arm, Valiant was sagging. A strong flow of air enveloped him, but again no one seemed to notice, little by little he collapsed again and fell into bed.
He woke up, but he was no longer in the library of Fardos, it was a dark place. No longer feeling any pain, and seeming to have his strength again, Valiant wondered, "am I dreaming?" In the background he heard a strange macabre sound produced by a classic music box, he decided to approach the source of the sound, but as he did so he saw what appeared to be a girl sitting on the floor.
With every step he felt a chill and fear, that figure was familiar: The girl sitting on the floor was Ragna as a child. When she saw him, she spoke:
- "He knows...", and began to cry.
Valiant didn't know what to do, who was she referring to? He looked away, Ragna shouted:
- "Noooo, Noooo, he's here... AHHHHHHHHH", she sobbed and cried, as she crawled away she left a trail of blood all over the floor.
Valiant drew his sword and looked around for someone, but what he saw was only complete darkness.
- "Who's there?! Show your face!" shouted Valiant.
A macabre laugh echoed coming from the darkness, Valiant felt a chill that reached his bones, this did not hold him back, he ran towards the darkness and started to give strong attacks in the air. As he advanced, the more he lost his way, and the sound of the music box seemed to become muffled, he stumbled and fell into a chasm without even seeing anything.
As he fell everything seemed to distort in mid-air, the dark environment clearly changed to the central area of Rookgaard. Valiant fell to the ground but strangely was not hurt, in fact, his fall seemed to cause no astonishment to anyone, he was unnoticeable. In front of Obi's store he met two young adventurers and soon recognized them: it was he and Ragna, but very young. The young version of Valiant seemed to have a lapse, and a rapid loss of his consciousness.
- "What happened Valiant?" asked Ragna.
A few seconds passed with her watching the young Valiant intently, until he answered:
- "I think I had one of my lapses, my parents say it's normal for my age, it felt like I was looking at myself behind my own back"
- "Impossible, Valiant. You are right here, come on, let's go wolf hunting."
Ragna guided the young Valiant toward the southwest region of Rookgaard. Valiant, in his adult version, decided to follow them.
They passed the bridge and were surprised by a monk named Loui:
- "Ahh, young adventurers, full of energy to explore new horizons! Could you guys help me for a short moment?"
- "Of course sir Loui", the young Ragna quickly replied.
The 3 went down the hole north of where the monk was, the adult Valiant decided to keep following. Inside the place there were only a few rabbits, but a few seconds everything seemed to change. The young Ragna fell to her knees on the ground, the young Valiant looked at her with fear, Loui approached and worriedly tried to help thinking that it could be a sudden illness. Ragna then cried out:
- "THEY... ARE HERE!", she cried, but her tears were of blood.
A strong aura of darkness enveloped the place and numerous creatures enveloped the young Valiant and Ragna, Loui ran desperately, they were extra-dimensional beings that the old Valiant, as a spectator, already knew. He drew his sword and went on the attack to protect his younger version and also Ragna. With the first blow the ground seemed to crumble and again Valiant was falling into a dark abyss.
At the bottom of the abyss, Valiant observed a familiar island, it was Kharos. Just like last time, the impact did nothing to him. The place was crowded, and in the crowd with great difficulty he found Ragna and his younger version, this time almost grown up. The younger version of Valiant seemed to stop and stared into the void, Ragna looked at him and said:
- "Again one of your lapses?"
A few seconds passed, when the young Valiant said:
- "Yes, I am confused, I see myself from afar..."
As he spoke, the "mighty" Ferumbras appeared in front of his throne, countless arrows and runes hit him and he died instantly. Ragna looked at the running crowd and said:
- "Damn, I'll never get this hat, I blinked and lost..."
- "If I could I would give you thousands of these hats, Ragna, I just wanted to test my skills on this mage", replied the young Valiant as he looked at the shattered Ferumbras pierced through by thousands of arrows.
Many had already left Ferumbras' throne room when the young version of Ragna fell to her knees on the floor, adopted the fetal position and began to bawl and cry:
- "FATHER, MOTHER, NOOOOOOOO, LEAVE THEM!"
The young Valiant was stunned by this, as was his adult spectator version, the young man tried to calm her down but nothing seemed to stop it, she seemed to be in a waking nightmare. At this moment several vortexes appeared in mid-air and numerous extra-dimensional creatures invaded the top of the Kharos pyramid.
The adult Valiant ended up unbalanced and falling from the top of the pyramid, as he hit the water he felt himself being pulled into the dark abyss again. The blow was much faster, and in a split second he was standing next to Cerebrir in the central chamber of Zathroth's secret library. He could see his version a few months younger, as well as Ragna, Aerodus, Riberus, Isis, Petros, Hera and Olga who were fighting against interdimensional creatures that were invading the place.
Valiant, the spectator, saw his namesake version looking into the void and being called by Hera:
- "Valiant, what happened?"
Hera approached him and asked:
- "Did you have one of your lapses again?"
He was confused, but answered:
- "I believe so..."
Valiant, who was watching the whole scene, remembered that moment perfectly as if it was the day before. He was confused, there must be some reason for such a real dream, too real even...
When the Scourge of Oblivion appeared he noticed something strange when he saw everything as a spectator... Ragna was not there, he ran and tried to observe in all corners, but she disappeared. He noticed some open bars in the central room, which normally would be closed.
Valiant decided to follow the bars and entered the hitherto unknown area. This was certainly a dream for him, this place should never be accessible, at least Zathroth would never allow such an act.
The corridor seemed endless, the light at the end coming from the central room was the only source of illumination, it was so dark that Valiant could barely see where he was stepping. He kept walking until he suddenly stumbled over something and fell to the ground, he got up and went to analyze the obstacle, it amazed him: it was Ragna lying there, she was alive, but fainted. When he looked around, everything lit up with a strong light, he could not identify its origin, it was a room with a pyramid-shaped altar in the center, on top of this small pyramid was a metal chest.
He approached the chest, but it was locked, he needed a key to open it. He barely had time to think about searching for such a key when a noise of metal rattling on the floor caught his attention, it was the key that had fallen from somewhere. "Looks like someone really wants me to see what's in here", thought Valiant, since outside of a dream this would never occur.
Valiant took a breath of air, and nervously opened the chest, there were no contents in it, but he knew he had triggered something, as the ground seemed to crumble at his feet, again he fell into the dark abyss.
He was in free fall, in the background he could see what looked like the mountain of Kazordoon, in seconds he hit the ground. Valiant was in a small camp hidden among the mountain that was also home to the dwarves. He could see families working in their tents, as well as several others coming and going on broomsticks.
As he was walking through the small village while carefully observing the people there, a small girl caught his attention, her face was familiar. He jumped in fright: it was very young Ragna, the same one he had seen crying in the darkness. She had never talked about her parents, but he was seeing them for the first time there, they seemed like a very happy family.
A shout broke through Valiant's thoughts about Ragna's family. A troop from the inquisition, along with Henricus arrived on the scene, Ragna's father ran with his daughter and hid her over a hollow tree trunk, he asked her not to move or make any noise, no matter what happened.
Henricus and his troop went about arresting one by one those they found there, few were able to escape, as archers were standing by to take down anyone who tried to fly by means of brooms. Ragna was frightened, looking through cracks in the wood, but as her father had ordered she maintained complete silence.
Ragna's parents, as well as all the others, were arrested after fighting with the soldiers of the inquisition. The inquisitors placed all the prisoners side by side, while Henricus pulled from his cloak a book and spoke:
- "You are all heretics, witches, did you think you could hide?.... No, no, the smell of you has reached far."
Meanwhile, a soldier was flogging Ragna's father, who was struggling to free himself from his bonds.
- "You look the most agitated here, filthy witch... Grof, bring him in, he'll be first!" spoke Henricus.
- "NO!" cried Ragna's mother desperately as she summoned a Dark Demon even with her hands bound.
The demon ran towards Henricus and landed a blow knocking him to the ground, four inquisitor guards surrounded the demon who attacked fiercely. It all happened too fast, Valiant saw an archer prepare his arrow and shoot, hitting Ragna's mother in the chest, she fell to the ground coughing up blood, at the same time the demon also succumbed. Ragna's father in tears cried out:
- "NOOO, Laurie!!!", as he screamed Henricus stabbed him in the back.
He fell to the ground as he looked one last time at the log where he could barely see his daughter. Valiant was in shock at the situation, Ragna had never told him this. One last scream echoed, Henricus shouted:
- "This is the end of Eclipse! Grof, make sure everyone has been killed... Ahh, and burn their bodies."
The floor seemed to collapse under his feet, he went back to the previous room where the vault was inside Zathroth's Secret Library, but this time Ragna was standing watching him.
- "You... saw everything...", Ragna spoke slowly.
- "Ragna, you never told me about what you went through with your family..."
She looked away, began to cry, and said:
- "Living with that was not easy, after that, the inquisitors were gone, there was only me left in that place. Some witches arrived after some time and sealed the place again against the inquisitors, they knew they would possibly come back in a future, for this reason the village moved to another hidden place and they took me, there I grew up until I was old enough to join the Rookgaard academy... where we met."
Valiant nodded at the end of Ragna's sentence. She continued:
- "You were always good to me, it was the only good thing since that day... But emptiness consumed me, they were missing. When Henricus called us to help fight a threat I knew my chance to avenge my parents' death was coming."
- "I needed to avenge Henricus in a way that he would never return, if I simply killed him the other inquisitors would bring him back by help of the gods, just as they do when we die normally. My parents didn't get the chance as they were against the inquisition."
- "It was at this point that I sought help and read many books by sages and scientists, traveled to Edron, met with Spectulus who taught me about some features of interdimensional and extra-dimensional objects. I came to the conclusion that if I had an object that was not from here, and with that object I killed Henricus, the inquisition could not bring him back."
Valiant was already startled by the topic of conversation, but could understand Ragna's desire for revenge. She walked around the room sliding her hand through the chest, stopped and continued:
- "When Variphor proposed to take me to his dimension, I accepted without any resistance. My life had no meaning anymore, the only force that motivated me was revenge, and Variphor provided me with that, he gave me a set, an arbalest and arrows, all created from materials from that dimension."
- "On one of the quests, Variphor asked me to get a scepter that would allow entry to the library of Fardos, I knew Henricus would not give me up, so I was already prepared to kill him, and I did this in front of his daughter, just as he did to me."
- "They thought they could revive him, but my extra-dimensional artifact did an excellent job, he is currently in inter-dimensional limbo, and will be there forever."
Valiant was stunned by this story that he had not noticed another very strange fact, she was interacting with him, something that in no other part of the "dream" had been possible, he slowly made his way back down the hallway that would lead back to the Library's central room, she followed him.
- "Valiant, I don't know why you're afraid, I could have killed you in the battle of the hideout, but you must have realized that I didn't want to. I need you, there is a relic I badly need to try to revive my parents, if only for one last moment with them."
- "What relic?" asked Valiant curiously, as he continued to take steps backwards.
- "The mirror, you know what I'm talking about.", she moved closer to him, touched her forehead to his and spoke low: "help me, Valiant."
Valiant was confused, he had never really heard of this relic, but he knew that Ragna was still closely connected to Variphor, he could not trust her, since that entity was using her for his purposes.
Valiant tripped over a gradient in the hallway and fell to the floor, this instead of making him stop acted like water, he sank to the floor as he heard Ragna's cries of despair and crying in the background.
A large swirl of what appeared to be dark ink enveloped him, it seemed to lead him somewhere, after a few seconds he felt a firm surface, as he leaned in completely the swirl disappeared revealing a strange mirror with a red frame and four large claws that seemed to hold it. "This must be the mirror she talked about", Valiant thought, walking very cautiously to that strange object. He touched it, a very strong flash of light temporarily blinded him, and when he regained his sight he was lying on the bed in the Fardos library, and everyone was celebrating, not a second had passed. In his hand was the mirror.
Fardos was beside him, he looked at that relic and said:
- "The doomsday mirror, it was lost, and who knew, it was just in a dream dimension..."
Valiant stared at Fardos and said:
- "That thing I saw...about Ragna, was it true?"
- "Yes, Valiant, her parents' tragic ending was true. However the other earlier memories were tampered with by Variphor, you must have noticed that in all of them there was the invasion of beings from his dimension, Ragna's mind was deeply affected by the desire for revenge, this created a weak point where Variphor took advantage."
- "Leave this mirror here, it will be safe. Go with your companions to celebrate, you have helped save the world. New missions will await you in the future, but for now just relax."
Valiant nodded and ran to join his companions.