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The Cauldron, Part 3 of 3Follow

#1 Oct 28 2005 at 9:03 AM Rating: Good
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Xaeon was cut off as he saw the tarutaru curl up tightly and vomit blood. “Peewee?! What’s wrong?!”

“P-p-p-poison…?”

“What?! That’s impossible!” The thief shuddered violently and stopped moving. Xaeon shook his adventuring buddy. “C’mon Peewee stop playing around. Peewee? PEEWEE?!”


Shard and Lyliandra had been frolicking the whole time together. Both still running around in their subligar, they found their way to an open outside area. It was getting dark now but the sky was illuminated above with lightning and with a red glow from below by the volcano. Lyliandra stopped at the mouth of the cave leading from the insides of the volcano and stared out.

The unbridled power of the storm raged on in front of her and the earth fought back with billows of steam. She turned cheekily to Shard and suggested they play outside in the rain. “C’mon Shard! I know you like to see me nice and wet.” She winked and ran outside. Shard laughed and raced out after her. The lovers ran around outside and braved the raw elements.

Shard shouted through the typhoon to Lyliandra that he found a cave and she shouted back that she’d join him in a minute. The cave had a thermal spring inside it and he undressed and climbed in, awaiting his lover to join him. She danced outside for a bit and for a second thought she saw a figure move. Curious, she followed it but lost it. She did find the entrance to another cave.

“Finally decided to join me hun,” Shard cheekily asked. The rainy figure at the entrance to the cave spa nodded.

Just inside she saw Noxx who quickly looked up at her almost in a panic. Noxx franticly told Lyliandra what happened and both agreed they should get Shard and find the rest to teleport of there. When they arrived they found Shard face down and floating in the hot water. He had been stabbed multiple times and turned the pool red. Noxx quickly urged Lyliandra to run with her to find the others and safety. “We have to get out of here now,” she implored. Lyliandra was too much in saddened shock to even resist if she wanted. They ran off away from where Lyliandra had found Noxx inside the other cave. Only death lay behind them.

Rampart sat at the top of an opening which spilled one cave into another. He hid behind a large rock and found Xaeon nervously walking around, looking behind him, and all around. He was muttering to himself “He’s dead. He’s dead. I can’t believe he’s dead.”

Hearing that, Rampart made his presence known and jumped down in front of Xaeon. “Murderer,” he shouted, “you filthy traitor! It was you wasn’t it?!”

Xaeon backed up slowly in front of the menacing rogue dragoon. “W-w-what are you talking about Ramp?”

“It was you that attacked me. It was you that led to the death of Raiden!”

“No! I swear! Peewee. Peewee is dead, too!”

“You killed him, didn’t you, you filthy 'paladin'?!” With that Rampart drew his lance and charged at Xaeon.

Ahead in the tunnel, Noxx and Lyliandra heard the commotion echoing down. Lyliandra began to run. Noxx raced after her, pleading for her to come back.

Rampart landed a solid blow, stabbing Xaeon in the stomach. The paladin collapsed on the ground. Rampart raised his lance to finish the job when Lyliandra appeared on the same raised cave mouth Rampart was on before ambushing the elvaan. “It was you! You killed Shard!”

Rampart turned to face the new accuser. As he did, Noxx came barreling around the corner and bumped into her pursuit. Lyliandra lost her footing and fell on Rampart, skewering herself on his lance. Noxx’s eyes grew wide and she ran away. Rampart gave chase leaving the wounded paladin and dead summoner lying together. “Noxx, wait, it isn’t what you think! Xaeon is out to kill us all!”

When he was sure that Rampart was gone, Xaeon used some of his magic to seal his wound. He painfully sat up and stared at Lyliandra’s corpse. He looked down and began to weep from the sheer weight of it all. His best friend was dead, he was sure many others were too. The loner dragoon was undoubtedly a murderer now after Noxx’s blood. “And Lyliandra…you are dead now too…” The paladin’s voice drifted off and he silently cried, suppressing the pain in his gut. At the sound of footsteps he looked up tearful. “You? Is it really you?”

Noxx found a spot she felt was safe and crackled over the link to Yekan and Babagana. “He’s crazy! He killed Lyliandra, Shard, Xaeon, and he is after me now!”

“Who? Who?!” Yekan had concern in her voice as she tried to get a grip on what happened.

“It is Rampart. He’s gone crazy!”

“What?! Murder?!” Babagana was in disbelief. “Do you think he caused that cave-in, too?”

“I don’t know, alls I do know is that he is after me and you too!” Babagana winced in pain as he went to sit up. Yekan urged him to sit down and let her try and do more for him.

“No, we need to go find Noxx and anyone else who is still alive and get out of here.”

Noxx crept around darkened tunnels, invisible and sneaked when possible, to avoid being found by the raging dragoon. She heard floating through the air the choking sobs and silent accusations of “It’s my fault. All my fault.” Noxx followed it to a shocked Awias.

She was rocking back and forth and her mouth sparked occasionally as she continually tried to summon Carbuncle but to no avail as she was completely drained.

“Yekan, I found Awias. She’s in bad shape.”

Awias for a second snapped out and yelled into the link “It was me! I did it! They are dead because of me!” She openly sobbed again and Noxx tried to calm her down.

“Oh no,” panicked Noxx, “he’s here. He found us!” In the background Awias gave bloody screams and Noxx shouted loudly. The link suddenly went dead.

“Noxx? Awias? Hello? ANYONE?!” Yekan screamed herself nearly hoarse into the pearl.

“Can you teleport us out,” asked Babagana.

“No, I used all my magic saving you,” Yekan said with despair. Babagana hugged her close and told her not to worry. “Let’s try to contact Phyree. She can teleport out here and lift us out.”

“But Baba, we can’t get through here.”

“Maybe not here, Yek, but I bet if we find a large vein of metal it can act as an antenna of sorts. It is worth a shot. We are only sitting ducks here while you are out of magic and need time and peace to meditate.”

Yekan nodded her blonde head. “Let’s go.”

Yekan and Babagana made their way through the complex tunnel systems toward the top of the volcano for better reception and the hopes that the large vein of darksteel Peewee and Xaeon found would be sufficient. It was dark and thunder echoed directionless throughout the cave system. Water was pouring down the tunnels and occasionally one of the two would slip ont he sharp igneous rock.

They found their way to a room which had three other tunnels to go down. “Which way,” asked the white mage.

Babagana took a minute to think. As he did a bloodied and staggering Noxx appeared in one. “Noxx,” shouted Yekan, “are you ok?”

Noxx began to recap everything. As she did Yekan managed to cast a small cure spell to help her out as she was covered in blood. It didn’t appear to work.

“Noxx, why didn’t…?”

“She’s a liar! It was you who killed Awias!” From the other tunnel came Rampart, shouting. Babagana stepped between him and Noxx.

“Out of the way, galka! Noxx must die!” Rampart charged toward the mithran white mage. Babagana again threw himself in harm’s way and pushed Noxx aside. Rampart managed to pull the tip of his lance up in time and caught a blow on the jaw from a mighty fist. The dragoon lay sprawled out. Babagana loomed over him to deliver a crushing coup d'etat but stopped with his hands raised in the air. He fell forward and Rampart rolled out of the way. From his back protruded several shiruken.

Both Yekan and Rampart look up at Noxx for answers and standing behind her was Ishido. He threw Xaeon’s sword, Raiden’s tail, and Shard’s subligar before the stunned duo. Ishido then bent over and kissed Noxx deeply on the lips. “Good work my love. You did very well.” Noxx purred contently in response. “Awias’s blood looks so good on you and I bet Peewee never saw his poisoning coming. That was just brilliant.” Slowly the gears in Yekan’s and Rampart’s minds were putting things together.

Under her breath, Yekan told Rampart to give her cover and to follow her lead. Rampart nodded. He shouted, “Go!” and sprung high into the air. He came down with amazing speed and stabbed his lance through Ishido’s foot. The ninja recoiled in pain and the dragoon grabbed his impaler and ran behind Yekan who disappeared around a corner leading up top. Noxx hissed but stopped to heal Ishido’s foot. “This will be fun,” Ishido mused through wincing pain.

“We have to make it to the darksteel deposit near the top of the volcano. It may allow us to reach Phyree and get a way out of here. I’m tapped.”

“Just keep moving, I’ll protect us long enough. I lost my pearl when Ishido attacked me earlier.”

Yekan nodded and continued the ascent over rocks slippery with water. She reached the top and looked down the tunnel near the entrance. There she saw the slumped body of Peewee. “It must be close.”

She tried tuning in to the link channel to pick up a signal. Though there was a lot of static, Yekan could pick up Phyree on the link. “Phyree, we need help! Please come to Ifrit’s Cauldron immediately. Ishido and Noxx have killed everyone and only Rampart and I are left. Please hurry now!”

Phyree stopped reading her book and lowered her reading glasses. She intently tried to make out what was said through the wind and heavy static. All she could make out was “Phyree…help…come…Ishido and Noxx…killed…only…are left…now!”

“What?! Repeat! Yekan, what is going on?!” Phyree screamed into her pearl in hopes it would somehow come through better.

Rampart suddenly shouted. He had gone down the tunnel a bit to delay Ishido’s and Noxx’s advance. He knew it would be a near-hopeless battle, especially because Noxx could take care of nearly anything Rampart could dish out. Ishido and Rampart fought furiously. Two katana held in now black-clad hands clanged off a metallic lance shaft. Rampart tried to catch Ishido’s chin but a mere image of him wore off. Rampart cursed at the trickery and continued to fight. He was caught in the gut by the edge of a blade and keeled over. He supported himself with his lance in front of Ishido and coughed up blood.

“You…you *******.” Rampart was supine before the traitorous ninja and white mage.

“Me what?”

“G-g-go t-to ****!” Rampart used the last of his strength to make a lunge at Ishido, hoping to skewer him. Another shadow disappeared. As Rampart fell forward, the cold sting of a blade crossed his throat. “Goodbye everyone. I’m sorry,” he thought, “I’m sorry Yekan, I always loved you.”

Noxx licked the blood of Ishido’s blade and purred.

“You monster! Why?!” Yekan fumed.

Ishido shrugged. “I dunno. Money. Power. On top of that I’d rather be in control of this 'shell than you. You are a weak leader, my 'white mage princess'. Everyone under you is weak. They all had to die to make room for stronger and smarter recruits. Noxx here has a whole group of people who would just love to get a piece of the action.” All the while Ishido was talking, Phyree sat in horror in her great room, picking up pieces of the conversation.

“We don’t need you,” shouted Noxx rebelously as the wind howled down the tunnel adn whipped up hair.

“You are exactly right, Noxx, we don’t need you.” Noxx’s smile turned to a confused look. Then twin blades cut her belly and throat open in a deadly whirling dervish. She was conscious enough to see Ishido smile and wave goodbye to her before she died.

“NOXX, NOOOO!” Phyree heard Yekan’s scream loud and clear. She began to cry but listened intently. Tear fell on the old pages of her sacred white mage text of Altana. Those same pages talked about being at peace with those around you and to maintain your calm in the face of great evil.

“Your prince has come to rule with you, 'princess'. Together we shall rebuild and reshape Vana’diel with our personal army. Phyree might be able to stay, but I’d probably have to cut her tongue out and hands off so she can’t let others know of our little secret.” Yekan silently bored holes through the ninja. He was hard to see in the dark of night and storm, but she could see that *******’s blades when lightning filled the sky.

“Phyree. I’ll never forget you…my mentor, my friend.”

“Yekan what are you…?” Before Phyree could finish she heard a battle cry. Yekan ran at the ninja with her simple wooden wand drawn. She swung down and the unflinching Ishido. Her belly and back were clamped by his blades a second later.

"Three shadows, white mage. Three."

Those were the last words Yekan heard as he lifted the blades up to tear through her innards. Those were the last words Phyree heard on the linkshell.

“Ishido, you son of a *****. I will kill you. Mark my words. I WILL kill you.”

Many many miles away in a tempest on top of a volcano, a ninja cleaned his blades, pulled a dark mask over his face, and faded into the night...

...

...

Quote:
"Where are you," Phyree asked herself, "come out and face me." Since nightfall Phyree had been making her way from the Ephimere eastward toward the Crag of Holla. A peal of thunder rumbled above her. The sky had been black with clouds made heavy with rain. A jag of lightning shot down to the earth far off in the distance illuminating the bone-white tower.

____________________________
Hume, Rank 10 San d'Oria
75 WHM (LFM) / 60 BLM (LFG)
20 SAM / 19 MNK, DRK / 18 THF / 13 WAR, RDM, DRG / 12 PLD / 8 NIN, RNG, BLU
Cooking: 93+3, RFH
ZM:14/CoP:4-5

Fly me to the moon, and let me play among the stars...
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