“That was...nice.” Charlotte mumbled, straightening her clothes and she emerged from the great bath of the Light Palace. Per Luny-, no, Nyarlathotep’s ceaseless insistence, the women of the party, excluding Alice who was still under the care of the royal infirmary, had spent a fair amount of time relaxing in the opulent bath house the palace afforded.
“Hehehe, I knew a bath would be the best! It’s no lie!” Nyarlathotep proclaimed proudly as she too emerged from the changing room, her hair messy and still damp. Since experiencing the power of Earth’s moon at through the purified object Kaguya and Charlotte had recovered from Lapis, Nyarlathotep had remained and the Lunya shell had disappeared. She had adopted the fashion of a fairy tale she had once posed as, a lingering interest in that old life perhaps. Her personality, however, seemed much the same as her time spent as Lunya. In fact, were the two not dissimilar in appearance one would have trouble telling them apart.
“Hey, servant person!” Nyarlathotep called to a maid walking the corridor. “Get me something to drink will ya! Do it quick and I promise not to get angry, hehehe. It’s no lie” Nyarlathotep flashed a wide toothy grin, her sharp fangs bared like a wolf. Without a moment’s hesitation the poor servant scurried off down the hall.
“Jeeze...” Lumia moaned, having also finished her time in the bath. “Could you please not harass the Light Palace staff? They’re already having a tough time dealing with you as it is.”
“Oh come on, little princess, what’s a little chaos between friends? You should try it sometime. You may discover you just might like it. Hehehe. It’s no lie.” Nyarlathotep turned her head, facing Lumia, her grin still as wide as it was when speaking to the maid.
“You know...it really makes it hard to believe anything you say when you always end it with ‘It’s no lie’.” Lumia paused for a moment. “And stop calling me ‘princess’. My brother’s the king now.”
“Little Lady, then.” Nyarlathotep corrected, still beaming that sharp toothed grin.
“Geh...somehow that’s even worse...” Lumia sighed. Nyarlathotep looked over to Charlotte, a smug look in her eyes, and the attoractian girl stifled a laugh.
The moment was quickly cut short as a permeating and awful magical sensation rippled throughout the palace. It wasn’t at attack, rather the resonance of some kind of magical effect. It lingered heavily in the air for a moment, as it it were sticking to everything. The three struggled to stay on their feet as the wave passed over the, through them. It felt as though they might be turned inside out by the magical radiation. The three stumbled as they felt their natural balance leave them. It felt as though they should be standing on the cieling and they still remained rooted to the floor.
“Wh-what...was that?” Charlotte managed after a moment.
“Euch! I feel like I need to take another bath. It’s no lie.” Nyarlathotep whined.
Not wasting any time, Lumia rushed to a nearby window and thrust it open craning her neck to look outside. The sky was gone, concealed by some sort of strange swirling dome that had encased the Light Palace in it’s entirety, cutting it off from the rest of the world. The world inside the dome was strange, unnatural. Rain was pouring outside but the droplets moved up, impacting and disappearing on the top of the shadowy dome. Strange trees had sprung out of the ground at odd, impossible angles, some with their roots sticking right out of the ground.
“What in the world...” Lumia muttered before being cut off by a booming voice that echoed throughout every hall of the castle. It was so loud it practically shook the foundation of the structure.
“Everyone, please remain calm. For your protection, please proceed to the throne room while we handle this situation” Grimm’s magically enhanced voice rang throughout the castle, reassuring the panicked staff and anyone else unfortunate enough to be trapped when the strange barrier sprang up.
Grimm quickly came stumbling around the corner, clearly affected by the same magic that was affecting the others. He clung to the wall as he struggled to maintain his own equilibrium.
“Brother?” Lumia managed as the King came into view. “What’s...happening?”
“I don’t know.” Grimm gasped, attempting in vain to straighten himself. “But we need to keep everyone calm. The people in the palace are scared, we need to get them to safety.”
“This is Moojdart’s magic.” Zero said, walking into the hall with no difficulty at all. “Which means that Fieth didn’t reach her in time and someone else has gotten a hold of her.” Zero said, getting angry. “Honestly, that woman...”
“Moojdart?” Grimm managed. “The sage? But how?”
“Someone else must’ve found her in her stone form and awakened her by dominating her will with their own. Moojdart might be...eccentric, but she’d never attack anyone.” Zero assured. She had known Moojdart to be strange, certainly prone to unusual practical jokes but there was no mistaking there was spite behind this spellwork.
“Hahaha! I found you Alice~.” A voice unfamiliar to everyone rang in the minds of those gathered in the hall. Unlike Grimm’s voice, which was magically made louder this voice produced no sound. Rather it was more like an intrusive thought that wormed its way into the minds of everyone nearby. It made it impossible to tell the exact origin of the ‘speaker’, though whoever it was had certainly made their objective clear.
“They’re after Alice!” Charlotte exclaimed, doing her best to prop herself up, Nyarlathotep moving to help her.
“I’ll make sure Alice is okay, I’m the only one able to withstand Moojdart’s magic” Zero said.
“I can’t...just let you go...alone” Grimm said, still clinging to a wall as he tried to stand up and reach for his sword.
“Brother...” Lumia started. “You can barely even stand up. None of us can. Zero’s the only one not affected. We’ve got to let her go.” Lumia had barely even finished before Zero dashed off like a streak of light down a corner towards the infirmary. Alice had been unconscious since Kaguya and Charlotte had brought her back from Attoractia. Who could want anything with her? Was it Lapis? She could hardly think of anyone else who’d want anything with Alice, especially when the girl was in no position to actually fight back.
However, it was not Lapis that blocked Zero’s path to Alice’s room when she dashed down the steps towards the infirmary. Instead it was a small girl adorned in rather decadent clothing. An almost illfitting large white outfit with all manner of frills and needless details.
“It’s almost a shame, really.” the small girl spoke, a thin smile creeping across her face as her eyes narrowed like a snake. She began pacing calmly closer to Zero, unaffected by the barrier.
“As much as I hate to admit it, I have grown somewhat accustomed to this rat’s body...somewhat.” At this, Zero opened her mouth to respond, but the strange girl wasted no time. She dashed forward with uncharacteristic speed, moving to stab at Zero with a dagger previously concealed within her large outfit. Zero, who had readied herself for a possible attack, jumped backwards only to find herself struck from behind by a powerful kick that sent her spiraling forward and crashing into a wall. The girl that was in front of her faded, dissolving into the air. The real one, it seems, had been hiding behind her all along.
“An illusion?” Zero guessed.
“Indeed.” The girl answered. “Crude ones, but suitable to fool you, it seems.” The same cool, confident smile was on the real body’s face as well.
“Who are you? Why are you doing this?” Zero demanded. She reoriented herself and found that her left arm, where the girl had kicked her, had gone numb and limp, as if it were broken. This was not an ordinary opponent.
“I am desire. I am passion. And I have come to take Alice.” The girl said, as coolly as ever.
“I won’t let you.” Zero said, using her good arm to conjure her sword.
“Foolish creature.” The small eccentrically dressed girl said. “Your choice is inconsequential.”
At that, Zero sped towards the girl, ready to strike. The girl, likewise, conjured an ornate spear, parrying the attack . As the two brought their steel to bear their faces drew close.
“I must say.” The girl started. “For someone who’s spent their entire life lying about she really is to all of her friends, you’ve stayed remarkably beautiful.” Zero’s eyes widened in shock, she broke off the clash, shoving the girl back.
“How do you know about that!” Zero exclaimed, worriedly. The girl simply laughed, tapping one of her temples with a dainty finger. “I know so very many things. I wonder...” She started again. “How they’d all react if they knew. If they knew that no matter what you do, how much you try to deny it...”
“Be quiet!” Zero lunged at the girl again.
“You’ll always be daddy’s little girl.” The girl sneered. She moved to parry again, but this time it was she who was caught by surprise. Zero had crafted a spell using darkness will, a strength she had not pulled upon in quite some time. Moojdart wasn’t the only one who could mess with the natural order, after all. Zero hadtaken advantage of the loose nature of reality within the barrier and increased the gravity within a confined area around the girl, so much so that a normal person would have been crushed but for an opponent this strong it’d likely only hold her for a short while. It was risky, Zero knew, to leave the girl so close to Alice, even if she was held down. But with the girls strength and apparent ability to look through Zero’s mind, at least to some degree, she would have to risk it. She was going to have to find Moojdart.
If she could find Moojdart and free her from this girl’s control, Grimm, Lumia, Nyarlathotep, Charlotte, everyone in the Light Palace would be able to help and the girl would go down. She just needed to find Moojdart. There was Fiethsing too. There was no way Fiethsing wouldn’t have noticed something like this. Surely if Zero could just stall for a bit, Fiethsing would come.
“Geh...I applaud your creativity.” The girl said, now struggling to stay on two feet. “Particularly keeping your plan a secret in your mind. But this will not hold me. I will escape, and I shall take what must belong to me!” After a moment or two, the girl unravelled Zero’s spell, though not without some effort.
“Damn.” Zero spat, now clutching her left arm. This was going to be far more difficult than she’d hoped.
Just as the girl had straightened herself up, a flash of light enveloped the room and Zero could spy the unmistakable glint of a sword striking down as though it had appeared from nothing. When the light faded Zero saw the same silver armored warrior who had come to their aid when the fought Mars, the one who had called themselves ‘Glorius’. The attack had not connected it seemsed though, as even this, the girl was able to parry with her spear, but only just barely. The edge of Glorius greatsword pressed against the girl’s face, drawing blood.
“I finally found you, Valentina.” Glorius said, addressing the girl. The girl, called Valentina, appeared off put by the Glorius’ arrival. Almost as if she didn’t believe their presence in the halls of the Light Palace should be rightly possible.
“Faria! How are you still alive?! I watched you die!”
“You talk too much.” Faria pulled back and moved to strike again. There was something unusual about her weapon. Zero had noticed it before as well. There was an almost supernatural strength to it, even Valentina was showing difficulty defending against the blade.
“I don’t know how you came back, but it doesn’t matter. Moojdart!” Valentina called to the sage she had placed under her power. However, the corrupted sage did not come. At some point during their fight, the reality warping barrier around the castle had faded, replaced instead by a calming breeze that whistled through the trees
“Fieth.” Zero muttered, a tear in her eye. As if in response to her own name, Fiethsing burst through a nearby window, posing rather dramatically as she landed.
“If you’re looking for Moojdart you’re out of luck, lady. I already saved her. Well...more like I let her turn back to a magic stone. ”
“Fieth!” Zero practically toppled the woman as they embraced.
“Well this is all rather touching, but if you’ll excuse me.” Valentina turned to make for Alice’s room but suddenly found herself unable to move.
“Tch. More gravity magic?” She spat.
“No.” Faria answered. The silver armored woman was holding up a strange magic stone. Even from a short distance away Zero and Fiethsing could feel the strong resonance between Valentina, or rather, Valentina’s body and the magic stone.
Normally, magic stones were the result of powerful memories coalescing over long periods of time. However this stone seemed a bit different. There were memories, but there was also something more. Something struggling to break free of its own will.
“Give my friend her body back, you monster.” Faria thrust the stone closer as Valentina recoiled. Faria pressed the stone against Valentina’s body, and it the soul contained with in it broke free, taking hold of its former body. As the body became whole again, a dark creeping form was forced out of the body, taking the form of an oily, black, gaseous snake.
With her last breath before she was expunged from her host, Valentina said, “I will remember this you little rat. You will never escape me. I am the darkness that haunts every corner of your mind, the evil you hide away in your heart. All will fear me, and all shall love me.” The black vapor dissipated, as Faria caught the body it had possessed in her arms.
“Pricia...are you...alright?” Faria asked.
“Faria?...Where are we? ” The girl called Pricia spoke, her eyelids low as she regained consciousness.
“Another world. Valentina stole your body and brought it here. Thanks to Excalibur’s magic and your will, I was able hunt her down.”
“Faria...what’s happening to you!” Pricia, hadn’t been listening, instead she was more preoccupied with Faria, as her form was slowly fading.
“Your will and Excalibur were the only things keeping me real. Without both...I can’t stay. The real Faria died long ago. All that’s left is the will she placed into Excalibur, me. A shadow.”
“Si...” A faint voice called from further away. Down the corridor, Millium, Lumia, Grimm, and Nyarlathotep had gathered along with a tearful Charlotte.
“Sister!” She cried out, bursting into tears. Charlotte nearly tripped over her own two feet as she ran to Faria.
“Charlotte...” The fading Faria started before Charlotte wrapped her arms around her.
“I...I...I thought...” The girl could barely form the words, tears in her eyes.
“I know. And I’m sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. I couldn’t let Valentina find out. I wish we had more time Charlotte, but I need to leave...” Faria remarked her fading form.
“Wha-? No! You can’t leave me again. Please...please don’t...don’t leave me alone again.”
“I’m sorry to put you through so much, Charlotte. Lars and I only ever wanted to protect you. But you’re not alone anymore.” Faria looked to the others gathered in the hall. “You’ve made a lot of good friends. I’m sure you can count on them.”
“Please...don’t do this...not again...” Charlotte collapsed to the floor, Faria’s form no longer tangible.
“I’ll always be with you, Charlotte. I’m so proud of you.” With those words Faria’s form finally faded, only the greatsword Excalibur remaining as it clattered to the floor.
Charlotte’s screams echoed throughout the Light Palace, she was inconsolable.
-Lore written by Rajadeem the Seer, last of his order