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 Chronicles of Jungalore 
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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter

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He removed his lance from the body of Lumbra as the deity slumped over, holding his burning chest.

"You... Who are you? How did you come by a second lance?"

"My name is Elsaiel, and I am here to put an end to your evils, spirit of light."

"I am no mere spirit, human."

"As I am no mere human, spirit. Know thy place."

Lumbra fell to his knees and Elsaiel walked away from the throne.

"Is it done, then?" Meridia asked. Elsaiel nodded and looked to Fuujin, Demeter, and a god of burning flame.

"He will be displeased with each of you when he awakens."

"Then what are we to do?" Demeter asked.

"For now, let him bleed Will into your world. It is necessary if a saviour is to come. I will take the treasures in your stead to your chosen people."

"What if he awakens before then?" Fuujin asked.

Elsaiel smiled, "My soul has survived previous iterations of your world. Let me handle it in my own way."

"An incarnation?" Meridia asked.

Elsaiel nodded in response to her question, "Something like that. He will be of two halves. One shall be of great strength, and another will be bound to shadow."

"When?" The god of flame asked.

"That, I refuse to say, Zhurong, but I will say this..." He stated with a grin, "Light and darkness, both must exist for this world to not fade away."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Afterwards, three days passed," Fuujin explained, "Lumbra awoke and slew each of us, and yet, he was bereft of the great treasures. For that god which should not exist had delivered them to each chosen people. Surely enough, he knew exactly who to give each treasure to, and yet, there are treasures missing..."

"It must be due to Baphomatt..." Eiryk said while pulling the Chalice of Meridia, "I retrieved this one from New Meridia..."

"What do you intend to do with it?" Fuujin asked. Eiryk looked to Philena, and then to Fuujin.

"These are far too powerful to be in the hands of man. Take this one back." Eiryk reasoned and Fuujin smiled.

"What does the Meridian queen think of this."

Philena nodded, "Mikkael, he was searching for the artifacts before he..."

"Worry not, he lives and he is close to you." Fuujin stated. Philena's eyes widened and she gripped his clothes.

"You know his whereabouts!? Please! Fuujin! Enlighten me!"

"Peace, young queen..." Fuujin continued, straightening his clothes, "There is issue with him..."

"... What is wrong with Mikkael...?"

Before he could answer, a rumble shook heaven.

"... I cannot answer, at least, not immediately... I can grant you this one word, Eiryk, go to Demeter, retrieve the crown. It is tied to my will, and shall grant you safe passage through the Chaos Desert. Hurry back to the gates! Otherwise, you will be trapped in the Yuunlands, for it is not a place for mortals to dwell..."

"W-Wait! What of-!"

Once more, a rumble. Fuujin snapped his fingers and whisked them back to the gates. "No time! Hurry back now!"

Eiryk and Izraf had to pull Philena through as it closed in the mortal world. She slapped Eiryk and Izraf.

"Why didn't you two let me stay!?" The angry Mer Queen bellowed at the two of them. Eiryk shook his head.

"You know Mikkael still lives, that should be enough."

"... Yes... I suppose you are right... Forgive my actions..."

Eiryk and the others reconvened with the group and Afalans back at Arcane Well. The trip back was uneventful.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Yes, we have something akin to what you experienced... But that is not for you..." Scorpio said, shaking his head with concern, "The Shadow Virus can, and will kill you, Eiryk."

"I must have it if it can control the power of whatever else is inside me!"

"It will either make you stronger or kill you! You lack discipline!"

"I cannot risk killing her or anyone on accident again..." Eiryk mentioned. Scorpio raised an eyebrow and sighed.

"If you so wish to, there is a target at your next destination, in the town of Demeter. A contract on one of the scholars..."

Eiryk looked up, "Whatever it takes, as long as I can control my curse."

Eiryk took the contract from Scorpio and the sketch.

"Do so quietly, and ten thousand Legens are yours."

"And I'll be given the Shadow Virus?"

"We'll see..." Scorpio smiles.

Eiryk decided to grab a ship, heading due south to Demeter. Worried for the state of the world. All in the meanwhile, from the harvesting of Hohenheim's soul, Baphomatt grew in strength...

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
"Taisho, the beast... something's happening!" one of the ninjas ran back the group.

"It's nyot coming this way, is it?"

"No, it's... sinking..."

"What?"

"As if its weight opened a hole below and turned to liquid, taisho..."

Kazeko ran up a tree, and gasped as she saw the sight with her very own eyes. Mikkael remained silent as she climbed back down.

"Perhaps he finished the summon and returned that demon back to the Underworld..." Karliah mused. "Should we go back after him?"

Mikkael rubbed his forehead, scrunching his head and trying to remember anything about this man that his new companions called his best friend. "I can't remember, but if what you say is true..."

They made a U-turn around, towards Cyndar's walls. However, it seemed that the demons and their thralls were regrouping back to the walls, and passing through would take more than what their battered and beaten bodies could do.

"Damnable old fool..." Karliah gritted her teeth. "You'd better not die..."

"I dyon't like this either, but..." Kazeko grumbled. "We'll have to fall back for nyow, and hope Yemhelch has the sense to stay hidden from the demons. We'll put together an expeditionary force and attack in full force as soon as we can, though. I'm sure Hiroko-sama would have no object."

Defeated, the small group resumed their trip to Vel Da Ir...

-

Yemhelch lay on his back in the shattered remains of the throne room, looking up at the dawning sky - naked as the day he was born. His armor had sundered when he had allowed his true form to emerge from his body. Silence filled the air - the undead mostly scourged from the city center. No doubt the demons and their thralls who survived would regroup soon enough... but for now, the city proper was silent... the castle a crumbling ruin, and several buildings nearby similarly brushed away from the wall of flesh.

He tried to move an arm, and winced in pain.

"Ow."

He felt the heavens rumble. Earthquake? Maybe the fight here had weakened the roof of an underground cavern or something...

-

"Is it done?"

"Yes. Those who wished to pass on have been released from the curse of the Book of Shadows."

"Ah..."

"Those who would remain behind to deliver their vengeance to the one who killed them, their Will is so strong that it would be wrong to exorcise them from the book."

"I see. It can't be helped then..."

"What will you do?"

"I feel that the world is still a dangerous place. I think I should do my best to help the people of this world in these difficult times."

"A noble goal. Then, the exit is just to your right."

"... but is it alright if I come visit every now and then?"

"Of course. Come anytime!"

"Thank you."

With that, Ahnbein walked into the swirling portal leading back to the outskirts of Fort Frenga.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Eiryk arrived by boat to find that the Demeter Isles were slowly but surely beginning to bustle with trade between the Mer and Elvine. He would watch as Elvine would struggle with the firearms and cannons of the Mer, but would be quite happy to see that both cultures were coming to good terms. However, he did not ponder this for long, he had a job to do. One scholar of the Meridian Court would need to be assassinated. Scorpio left little details besides treasonous thoughts on the queen, but Eiryk decided such was enough.

He hadn't understood when, but somehow, he had been thinking of the queen more often than not. Perhaps it was the sight of her in her white dress, or the thought of her strength in such dire circumstances. Whatever the case, he found himself eager to protect her from any and all treason.

Waiting on when the Mer went to sleep, he slipped away from the general crowd and into the resident embassy. From his death, as an envoy of darkness, he would blend into the undead and lesser demons alike. From the goddess of water, he would raise the dead. Now, as an envoy of the god of air and winds, he would carry with him plagues and disease which he could spread to his blades.

The scholars all slept carefully about their books, but the target was nowhere to be seen, and so Eiryk made his way to his second task, of seeing if he could take the crown for the time being.

King Ortza welcomed him back warmly, and they discussed matters as the Elvine King sat in his throne.

"I cannot give something of such power away, Eiryk. I would need a favour of my own..."

"Name it." Eiryk instructed, "I'll see to it that it's done. But know that your people are threatened by something far more dangerous, and so terrible that no amount of offering to your goddess will save her."

"Worry not, this concerns something of even dire news. It concerns a rumor..." The king spoke, clearing his throat, "Have you heard of the Orgris?"

"Orgris?" Eiryk questioned. The king spoke in a hushed tone to Eiryk while ensuring none were around.

"You see... The Orgris are a race of first peoples, long forgotten since man has hunted them for the past few generations. They are of two kinds of blood, and live among the Fae, who we believe are similar to us, but blessed by the spirit of light, Lumbra."

"Interesting. What does this have to do with me though?"

"Well, we have some... Business investigating a certain group near Cyndar. We had them test the blood samples provided, and a courier came by with a request for some of our goods for the Orgris. Could you... Perhaps deliver them?"

Eiryk agreed, "Sure, just let me know where to go."

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
It had been an arduous journey, but at last - Kazeko's team finally arrived at the gates of Vel Da Ir. For all the chaos the world had gone through, this place still stood strong; despite the fact that the new-formed monsters were constantly sieging the city.

As they stepped past the gate, Kazeko and Karliah spotted several ninjas leap from the rooftops towards the north end of the city.

"Myost of the mop-ups are done, so the city center should be safe, nyoro-n..." Kazeko sighed. "Come on, Lady Hiroko's waiting."

Karliah looked up at the pagoda. It had been a proper fortress before, but now it positively looked like a real bastion; even now with cranes carrying heavy plate armor and how archers and snipers filled out every balcony.

"I-is it alright for me to be here?" Karliah asked. "Just so you know, I have been asked to leave."

"You're not with 'them' anyomore." Kazeko replied. "I'm sure Lady Hiroko would give you an audience."

"But..."

"Times have chyanged now." Kazeko grinned, giving Karliah an affectionate pat on the back. "Dyont you worry about it!"

Mikkael stood quietly to the side, watching the two.

"Have I been here before?" he finally mumbled.

"Yeah! This is the city where you and old man Yemhelch really beat the crud outta Karliah in court and saved Lady Hiroko from the gallows! Don't tell me you don't remember?!"

Mikkael didn't answer. He knew - but he just couldn't find the words for it.

-

The Daimyo's meeting room was a splendid affair. Several elite ninjas stood at the sidelines, and flanked by two Shoguns, Hiroko Hajima limped in, assisted by a walking staff. Karliah almost gasped as their eyes met. She looked shaken, but otherwise unharmed.

"Kazeko.... Mikkael... This is a difficult time, but I see you've brought some good news and bad news." she sighed as she sat down. "Speak freely. And Karliah?"

"Yes?"

"If you serve the Inquisition even now, then leave."

"I do not."

"Good."

-

"Mikkael Altans, you truly do not remember me?" Hiroko asked. Mikkael shook his head.

"It is as you say. I've read of amnesia in the medical journals of Cyndar's Magus guild..." she sighed "...but to see this happen... then, if you're here, do you know where Yemhelch is?"

Mikkael shook his head. "I... I can't remember these names..."

"Lady Hiroko, Yemhelch may be trapped in Cyndar."

At this, Hiroko snapped straight to attention. "WHAT?!" - before wincing, grabbing at the bandages on her shoulder and sitting down.

"He went off alone to stop the summoning of the Dragon." Karliah explained. "He somehow managed to fight Baphomatt to an impasse... and, I think... it summoned a demon, a monster that consumed Baphomatt."

"A monster that could consume the new god of death...?" Hiroko gasped. "W-where is this demon now?"

"Thankfully, after eating the partially-transformed Dragon, it seeped back to the earth." Kazeko explained. "But it's quite likely that Yemhelch may be..."

"No."

"Hiroko-sama?"

"I won't believe this." she gritted her teeth. "I have a new mission, Priority one for every able man, woman and otherwise in the Clan!"

"My lady..." the samurai, the ninjas and the shoguns bowed before her.

"The man who once saved my life may be in mortal peril..." Hiroko spoke, her voice subtly wavering. "Your objective is to storm Cyndar, and rescue him! And should it be that we're too late... t... the least we can do is give him a proper funeral in the Hill of a Hundred Thousand Flowers..."

"HA!".

With that, most of the guards left her side; almost all the ninjas, ashigaru and samurai had left the upper floors quickly leaping out of the building.

"Do they know..." Karliah asked.

"Yes." Hiroko nodded and closed her eyes.

"And they all consider Mikkael and Yemhelch to be heroes..." she continued, now smiling weakly. "And I had to directly order them not to lop your head off when they spotted you enter the South Gate."

-

"What's the matter?" the thing wearing Yemhelch's skin smiled as he sneered down at Baphomatt. "Is the stwong and inchinsible champion of the arena beginning to falter?"

"Shut up!" Baphomatt yelled back. "You rigged this game so I would die!"

"I know. Ironic hells are funny, don't ya think?!"

Laughter filled the air.

"But your droll deaths bore us. So, everyone! What say you?!"

"INCREASE THE TERROR!" the blood-lust sotted roar made the arena itself rumble.

"Heh heh... well then."

A new opponent slowly walks out of the grated tunnel as the trumpets blared a keening tune. From the darkness, crimson mist seethed out and a majestic figure of a human woman, clothed in tight-fitting crimson wizard robes walked out. Magic energy seethed from her fingertips as she walks towards the center of the arena proper. Some of the other warriors appear to recognize her as she her approaches and respectfully step back. From her forehead down to her neck, a jagged line of scar tissue marks what once was a massive cut.

Baphomatt's eyes bugged in recognition, conflicting with his almost-instinctual male gaze over her beautiful form.

"M-mother?!" he gasped.

"You SELFISH LITTLE WORM!?" Ms. Flaggel roared as she raised a hand and blood-laced lightning blasted out, electrocuting Baphomatt and blasting him into the arena's wall like some kind of deranged home-run. "Not only you've chosen to try and kill everyone in your little temper-tantrum, but your thralls did this to me!"

"Sending the undead to silence someone who spoke against your crimes?" the monster sitting at the throne laughed. "I thought you were pathetic before, but this takes the cake."

"M-mother?! You sold your soul to the demon!?" Baphomatt yelled - his voice now equal parts terror and unease.

"No... I asked him nicely, and he accepted my terms." Ms. Flaggel grinned. "I appealed to him, for a chance to discipline you personally!"

The crowd went wild.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Eiryk had reached the path that would take him to the Temple of Youth, but rather than travel upwards, he chose to enter the chasm beneath it, which still had the flow of red waters.

As he walked through the forest, finding his way through thanks to the King's instructions, he was halted by a brutish looking man, green of skin, pointed of ears, and thick of accent.

"Wuvr!" The man bellowed, holding out a hand, "Dx xil blid curas nal den ndemitr?"

Eiryk nodded, "But, I am only knowledgeable of the common tongue."

"Ah, ap-logies yung so-l." The man tried pronouncing, "Yu comm this waey."

Eiryk gave a nod and followed the man where he saw for the first time an Orgris village. They came in two sizes of people; tall and average. It seemed that the taller fellows were hardier folk who did all the bossing, as the average folk would focus on crafts or cooking. Their houses were quite primal, but they seemed to have a strong sense of family as well. Yet, as the two of them walked by, Eiryk couldn't help but feel as though others were reeling at the sight of him. Perhaps it was that they knew? But that couldn't be, for his markings were covered, and his skin was still well-maintained due to his feasting in the last few days.

They turned the curvature into a large hut, with a bonfire in the center of the single room, a throne of bones, seating a blind woman who stood at seven feet tall. At least, by Eiryk's assumption.

The orgris warrior and the blind woman exchanged a few words. Though her tongue seemed sharp at the man. Eventually, he was dismissed and the two of them were the only ones able to speak.

"Sit." She commanded, and Eiryk did so, sitting on the floor, "Does Ortza insult me with such a person?"

Eiryk shook his head, "I'm sorry?"

"You! You are a black wizard!" She angrily growled at Eiryk. He now understood everything.

"I know of no magics. I just have... This marking."

"You can't be serious. You are-"

"Undead? Yes. I am well aware. Many who I have met in my travels are aware of this. I don't fully understand what it means yet, but I was unaware that it was so noticeable."

The blind woman glared from beneath her blinder, but then, seeing no ill intent from Eiryk within her mind's eye, she chuckled to herself.

"Well then... That is of interest to me."

"I do come on behalf of Ortza, my name is Eiryk Advento."

"I am Ha-Nabri, Ogreblood Chieftain of this village, slayer of two thousand bears, survivor of thirty winters, and last surviving wife of Chief Ha-Zakkturo." The blind woman introduced herself.

"What do you mean by last surviving wife?"

"I killed all the others with my bare hands. Simple as that." She stated straightforwardly.

"Ah..."

"Does it unnerve you, Lidnid Eiryk?" She asked, "Lidnid is our word for dead. Such as you are."

"I... Will admit, that's plenty frightening..."

She finally stood up, confirming her height to be well over seven feet. Her strong muscles were complemented by her long black braids, both from her head, and twelve more with blood-stains on the ends hanging off a belt.

"This is good. It means you are wise among your kind. Do you know this?"

Eiryk shook his head, "No, I'd say I'm rather foolhardy and impulsive."

"Then you are wise, for I can smell it off your mind's activity." She explained, "But how does a former priest of your kind turn to such a dark path?"

"Priest?"

"Yes, I can see you are a man of the cloth. At least, your strings show you to be such. Yet they have come to a sudden and abrupt change."

Eiryk scratched his cheek as she walked around the fire saying such, "I truly am not sure what you mean."

Uttering something to herself, she began speaking, "No matter, I am sure you will come to understand it all in time, and Ortza will be pleased to know that indeed, 'The fruit does not fall far from the tree.' But I must see your markings."

Eiryk held out his arm and Ha-Nabri pushed it into the flames. They grew to an enormous height, towering through the roof of the hut and shining a deep blue-purple. The room filled with smoke, and upon release, Eiryk checked his hand, finding it undamaged, but the smoke to change colour to a pitch black with blue lights here and there.

"Interesting... Something from another star, and..."

"And?"

Ha-Nabri grew pale at seeing something within her mind's eye, and held Eiryk's hand, tracing out the marking.

"... So, she dwells within you..."

"Who does?"

"Listen, you have an important duty ahead of you. But I know you are preoccupied, so I will not keep you." She tossed him two bags, "Take the brown bag to Ortza, with my detailed knowledge of the blood samples. Take the other to Sun Wukong. He lives deep in the forests of the place you call the Remnvald Kingdom, to the most beautiful mountain featuring two rainbows."

"I will."

"Make haste. Time is of the essence."

Eiryk, thereafter, was escorted out of the village. where he noticed a number of red trees off in the distance. The land was dying.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
With two broken bones, nine torn tendons and several burn marks all over his body, he was in no condition to fight. Despite this, he had somehow managed to crawl from the crumbled palace and into the fortress depths. Now clothed in a filthy leather armor he had managed to find in the pile of corpses that decorated his destructive path like so many trophies adorning a hunter's lodge, he slowly crept towards a series of tunnels that had once served as Castle Cyndar's inter-tower supply depots.

"Ugh. I really shouldn't have pulled out all the stops like that..." Yemhelch mumbled, voice slurred with pain as he focused on getting to cover. From the overhang of one of the broken towers, he spotted a familiar glint from the shadows.

With significant effort, he crawled over... to find his old tanto. Now somewhat damaged, with more cracks and chipping on the blade - yet it was still quite a dangerous weapon. Putting it between his teeth like a classical swashbuckler, he continued his careful infiltration into the castle proper - his rampage had cleared away the demonic monsters and undead thralls for now, but his honed combat instincts kept him on the edge. He had to get out of this city once it got dark enough for him to sneak out.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
"Something's happened in the world."

"Any idea why?"

"Our regul-communications are being damaged. As if the world itself has b--n significantly injured."

"Another mission, huh?"

"You could alw-ys return. I w-n't hold it against you."

"I'd rather live."

"Heh..."

...

"In t--t case, you should wake up r-ht now."

"Huh?"

"A-d roll to t-e left."

His eyes snapped open, and the dream ended. Standing over him was a bloated demon, his greatsword raised up high. Rolling to his left, he let the great blade slice through the air and smash into the brickwork of the shattered castle. The demon's blade was stuck! Using this chance, Yemhelch levered to his unbroken left leg and then cut the hamstrings of the towering, skinless monster with a powerful sweep of his blade.

Quickly rolling away as the great demon fell, he angled his next attack to the beast's head, and drove the tanto in, smashing through the decayed skull and severing the spinal cord! The vile energies that animated it kept it alive... but for now, bound to the skull which continued to thrash in a desperate attempt to gore him upon its fearsome horns.

Staggering away, he felt another tremor. Had the battle before damaged the area at a geological level? A sudden feeling of unease crept over him as he recalled his fleeting moments in the darkness; it felt like he had been buried alive, and the voice of his counterpart sounded.... as if similarly buried alive. Something was truly wrong. That was when a small crowd of things bearing still living flesh suddenly marched into the room. One of them turned an eyeless head in his general direction, pointed a 12-fingered hand at him and screamed - the sound of nails grating on a blackboard would have been pleasant music compared to this!

His injuries forgotten, Yemhelch leapt to his feet - the subtle cracks emanating from his broken bones as they fractured again forgotten in the rush of adrenaline. He was outnumbered, and he decided that discretion was really a better part of valor; especially when his link to the Source was so weak. Turning to run, he half-ran, half-limped down the hall.

Big mistake.

A giant aberration, formed of what appeared to be several torsos of still-living, still screaming Titans guarded the door.

"A pincer ambush... smart." Yemhelch gritted his teeth as the lumbering beast hunched its shoulders, all 6 of them down like a wrestler and charged forwards. Yemhelch attempted to side-step, and deliver a wounding slash to the beast's exposed throat, but at the last moment, it sidestepped his attack, then struck his head with a fist that felt like a mountain smashing through his skull. The impact floored him, and he could only watch as the giant lumbered up and raised its hammer-like fists to deliver the killing blow...

Only for the arms to fall, flopping uselessly by its side. Before the monster could turn around, three no-dachi slashed horizontally, vertically and diagonally through the beast! As the fleshy horror fell apart, his swimming vision cleared up a little to show a Hatamoto wearing the Kabuto insignia.... of Vel Da Ir.

"You are..."

"You're grievously wounded, filthy, matted in your own blood and at death's door." the hatamoto answered as he cleaned his massive blade and sheathed it with a sharp snap. "But, even if your face was dragged through dung, I would still recognize you as one of the heroes who saved my Lady's life. Consider this the karmic reward for your good deed all that time ago. Lady Hiroko sends her regards."

At that moment, the other pursuit force caught up... only for three ninjas to rappel in from a shattered window, pinning them down with magick flares, then leaping off as the beasts' bodies exploded into gore and flame!

"Youg... you guys... you're..." Yemhelch tried speaking... and felt teeth fragments on his tongue, followed by the taste of blood.

"Don't speak." a healer knelt down beside him, getting some medicated bandages, splints and magic potions. "You're supposed to be fainted dead away, given these injuries. Best to conserve your energy."

"Gghhh..."

"... you should spit that gunk out, though."

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
He took an obscure route into the town. In his absence, the party managed to return, and so, peering into the window, Eiryk leapt through the treehouse window and clawed the man from behind. It turned out to be easier than expected, but he realized that he hadn't done so as quietly as requested on the contract.

He looked around the scholar's room and found not a thing, and so, with no other option, Eiryk ate the meridian scholar. However, he wondered exactly why this man was to be killed. Nonetheless, he did leave a beaker of flower essence open as to rid of the cooked fish scent.

Upon his exit and "entry" into the town, he met with the leader of the Elvyn people, Ortza.

"So it is true... Then, we shall be fine it seems." Ortza sighed with relief, "I suppose I should give you this, then..."

Eiryk took hold of the Crown of Demeter with a smile, "Thank you. With this, I will be able to save Lady Demeter... And perhaps, I will put an end to the strife over the artifacts."

"I know that I can trust it in your hands, friend Eiryk."

Eiryk gave a light bow and made his way out of town, catching a boat to Selk...

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

When the boat docked, Eiryk immediately reported to Scorpio. The room they met in was dark, lit by a few candles.

"I heard that one of the scholars has gone missing... So you were successful."

"It was easier than expected." Eiryk responded, "So, does this mean I am eligible for the Shadow Virus?"

"Not quite yet... I want you to venture with Izraf. You were with him in Vex Vinas, yes?"

"Well, yes." Eiryk responded, jaded by the fact that he would still be ineligible to receive the Shadow Virus.

"Take him with you to the desert. Assassinate him." Scorpio directed, "We have plots of his treachery against Queen Philena. He's a conservative among the Mer people, seeking to return things to the old way."

"What? But he was rather protective of her." Eiryk questioned, but Scorpio shook his head, and showed some papers.

"Read these."

Eiryk read through each document, each more incriminating than the last, and he began to shake with rage and anger. Was it all a ruse? Was he being played by the guard? He could barely believe it.

"I should inform her majesty then-"

"No, we do it this way. The less she knows of his treachery, the better. Simply slay him out in the desert, say he was killed by the undead. You are venturing there anyways, yes?"

"... Yes."

"Oh, and before I forget." Scorpio tossed Eiryk a pouch of shining Legens, but these were designed differently than the coins he was used to, "Legeniums they're being called now, your old Legens will still work, but the new coinage is supposed to phase out the old, supposedly over the next hundred years."

"I see... Well then, I'll get right to it..." Eiryk said with a nod, walking out slowly. Should Izraf be the traitor he has been painted to be, Eiryk would show no mercy.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Mikkael stared down the window as the small force broke at the walls, co-ordinating like a well-trained army as they distributed their defenses as they entered the town. The ranged fighters and ninjas headed for the reinforced walls to stave off a group of large, ambling giants made of blackened... jelly? The smaller force rushed through the gate as it closed, carrying someone on a stretcher.

He sat back down and groaned silently. He knew what those things were, and yet the words eluded him. His eyes were focused on the skirmish when he noticed the citizens gather around the man being carried into the Pagoda proper.

"Thank the gods. He's safe." Kazeko sighed as she sat up from the chair and ran towards the door. "Come on, nyo! Maybe you might remember something if you go talk to your friend again."

Mikkael nodded quietly and let her slide down the ladder, before quietly following her down. Demons were evil, weren't they? And yet, whatever had emerged from Cyndar and carved away the horde of undead and the lesser demons... if it wasn't for the raking tentacles and ravenous mouths of the behemoth, he along with Karliah would have been dead for sure.

He shook his head as his foot found the lowest rung and stepped into the armored barricade's exit. Between his amnesia, the insistence of his companions and his own witnessing of the monstrosity that challenged the heavens itself... his stomach heaved at the sight, but nothing came up. Up ahead the main avenue was the pagoda where... something important happened. Mikkael still had no memory of this, but whatever it was, the townspeople were quite grateful for him. Even the samurai had bowed respectfully to him whenever possible.

Passing by the five guards who nodded and pulled back their naginatas, Mikkael entered the pagoda proper. Here, he saw the man on the stretcher and winced in sympathetic pain. Several of his bones were crushed, muscles torn and blood stained the little, rotted vestments he wore. Despite the fact he shouldn't be awake at all, the man still sat up and managed some conversation with those attending to him with the finest healing magic and healthcare the nation of Vel da Ir could afford. Eventually, the open fractures were pushed back together and his filthy clothes replaced with a simple white shirt and trousers.

That's when Hiroko emerged from the upper level, flanked by Karliah and followed by some more familiar faces - a rogue? A ninja? A retainer? He couldn't quite tell.

-

Despite his own, nearly blinding pain, Yemhelch managed to grin - the action showing off some chipped teeth.

"Oissu, Hiroko." he said in an almost conversational tone - but the strain in his voice was clearly visible to everyone in earshot. "I'd usually say thanks for the save, but I could have gotten out by myself. But not this time. I'd be a goner if it weren't for you. So, yeah.... heh heh, thanks for getting me outta death row."

There was an awkward silence as he committed several faus pauxes with so few words.

"Gods above, you're as cheeky as that day you walked in here all that time ago." Hiroko shook her head, blanching slightly at the bloodied bandages and bone fragments that lay about. "You do remember that, right?"

"Hah. How could I forget?"

"Good, I was just making sure." Hiroko nodded. "You should get some rest, though. I have no idea how you're conscious when you should be unresponsive due to the fact the healers just finished setting your torn-up tendons."

"Guts." Yemhelch replied, grinning again. "Like that one time I decided to be a defense lawyer despite the fact I had no formal training in forensics or law."

That broke the ice.

"Never change, you crazy old man." Hiroko smiled for the first time. "I'll come visit you at the hospital later. Rest for now."

"Yeah, I'll do that. Thank you again for putting up with me, especially after.... pulling a Mikkael."

"Pulling a Mikkael?"

"Oh, y'know... goin' at it solo, all gung-ho and stuff... getting myself in real trouble, that sorta thing... aha... haha... good times..."

With that, he drifted off into a quiet sleep.

"Is he..." Hiroko asked one of the healers.

"Rude? Yes." she sighed. "Dead? No... just let him sleep."

-

Mikkael watched from the balcony as the healers placed Yemhelch back on the stretcher and entered the Pagoda proper past the courtyard and into the field hospital that had been built in place of the old armory. After a while, he shook his head.

"He seems like someone I really should know." he said. "But I don't..."

Kazeko and Mikkael walked away from the balcony and Kazeko tried another angle of questioning. "Hmmm, in that case, tell me what you know about ...Avalon."

"Avalon! I know what that is!"

This had her full attention. "You do remyember?!"

Silence as Mikkael scratched his head.

"Well?" Kazeko prodded him.

Mikkael lowered his head and sighed. "... why did I say that?"

"So... nyo luck?"

"But I said it. Even though I didn't know..."

"So I guess not all is lost, right?" Kazeko grinned back. "Maybe if you went there yourself..."

"It could work, I guess..." Mikkael sighed. "Just one problem..."

"Nyo?"

"Exactly WHAT is Avalon?"

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
The sand whirling this way and that dissipated as Eiryk lifted the crown. Fuujin spoke to them over the rustling of the wind.

"Keep heading to the North West! There is where the curse on Demeter festers!"

With his disappearance, Eiryk gave a quick thanks to the god as Izraf began to trek through the sands.

The undead's mind raced with questions. Should he do this? He had onlt just met the Meridian, and he was a skilled warrior, likely able to go toe to toe with him. But even more concerning, why target Queen Philena? Even as a traditionalist, to murder the queen would be a grave act in their culture, one to be met with execution, torture even.

Yet the letters and evidence were clear, this man wanted his queen dead. He kept some poison at the ready as the continued their trek through the desert.

"So, you fancy the queen, huh?"

Izraf broke the silence, as if somehow Eiryk's thoughts barely caught his attention.

"... What of it?" Eiryk asked.

"She is quite wonderful isn't she? Like a pearl straight from the ocean itself, as if blessed by the waters she was born into... I suppose that means we're both down on our luck."

What do you mean?"

"She's pledged herself to chastity since Mikkael died."

"Oh..."

Eiryk felt his heart sink, but what caught his attention more was how Izraf worded the phrase. "... we're both down on our luck." As if he himself had feelings for the queen? Or was this another ruse?

The trek continued silently, when they stumbled upon a campsite, manned by a titan.

"Hail travellers." The white-haired man waved, "You're the first people I've seen in a few years."

"Truly?" Eiryk questioned.

"Yes, I am Cassius. I was abandoned here about... five years ago when my hunting party died in the sandstorm. Haven't seen civilization in many years."

After a moment of silence, Eiryk said, "Well, you'll be glad to know society is fucked."

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Hiroko removed her daimyo's helmet as she sat down in the bench provided for visitors. A beautiful piece, and functional to boot. She looked at it for a moment, and then to the man who now lay sleeping, looking more like an embalmed corpse because of the bandages.

If it wasn't for him and his friend Mikkael, it'd be quite likely she'd be a forgotten corpse in some refuse pit right now. Just for that, she held back her own dark hunger and sighed. His wounds were horrible - even when sealed up with magic and medicated bandages, but at least they had gotten to him in time. She shuddered to think about what would have happened and shook her head to rid her mind of these thoughts.

Movement caught her eyes, and she stood up and walked closer to the bed where Yemhelch rested to find him awake. He weakly moved his fingers in a 'come closer' motion and Hiroko leaned forwards, as he opened his mouth and whispered something.

"...ou were gonna drink my blood, weren't you?" he whispered, a comic grin settling on face.

"I'm hungry, but not THAT hungry." she whispered back. "So... how are you feeling?"

"... honestly, I could go for a drink, myself."

"... Sure? What'll you have?"

"Some sake would fix me good right now."

"Drunken old geezer..." Hiroko smiled at his spirit. "Fine, wait here."

"Not that I have a choice."

Stifling a laugh, she stepped out of the field hospital and looked around. The hospital was bustling with activity; the monster attacks hadn't really subsided, so there was always something for the healers to do. Slipping her helmet back on her head, she walked out of the facility and into the courtyard where two of her retainers were waiting for her. Upon seeing her approach, both Hatamoto stood up and bowed to her.

"Hajima-sama, is something wrong?" Kabuki Saburo, a giant of a man asked her.

"No, Kabuki-san." she replied. "I'm fine. Though I am going to buy some drinks."

"Hajima-sama, please, I'd be happy to do this for you!" Tatsuki Onisuke, her second retainer bowed to her.

"Then, I'll be counting on you."

-

Gourd of sake and paper cups in her hand, she walked back to the austere room where Yemhelch was recovering, only to find him trying to sit up... and failing as the secure bandages kept his body still bound. Seeing her approach, he quickly slipped back and tried to whistle innocently.

"You should be glad our healers have both magic and skill, or else you'd break several of your bones again with those antics of yours, friend."

"I wasn't doing anything."

"Suuure you weren't."

"... okay, you got me."

Shaking her head, she filled both cups with the gourd, set them down on the side table, and then walked over to the bed and sat down on the side.

"Stand still." Hiroko ordered him as she slipped her hand behind his back, and getting a good grip on the bandages wrapped around his body, she lifted his shoulders up from the bed, and got one of the paper cups and brought it close to his lips. "Here you go. Drink."

Yemhelch gratefully sipped the offering, and nodded his head. "Delicious as always. This is why I don't want to kick the bucket."

"You better damn not."

After a few more shots, Hiroko slowly put him back onto the bed, and stood up.

"Thanks, Hiroko." Yemhelch smiled. "That hit the spot. I owe ya one."

"Really now? Then, once you're recovered, you can join the muster for new Ashigaru, if you feel like improving on your skills. Vel Da Ir is in need of brave, skilled warriors like you."

"The situation's changed from before, huh? I'd be happy to help. Thanks, Hiroko."

"You're welcome. Now, you should sleep. Let your body heal"

"Yeah..."

-

As Hiroko stepped out, two healers and a seer escorted by several of her retainers walked up to her.

"My Lady", one of the seers began. "There's something we've found out that you need to know about."

"What's happening?"

"I... cannot say it here. Please grant us a private audience."

"Alright, we'll discuss this in the Daimyo's office." Hiroko nodded to her retainers and the walked towards the Pagoda proper.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
"Well, that certainly does sound like quite the conundrum." Cassius remarked. He poured himself a tankard of ale and passed two more cups around the tent. The Meridian and the Human took the cups in hand and each took a drink.

"Now we're searching for the pyramids. Supposedly there is another one of those creatures sealing off the powers of the ancient spirits, feasting on the powers that be." Eiryk finished. He knew by now that Izraf was probably not truly plotting an attempt on the life of the queen, and yet the man still needed to die, even if it meant the death had to be faked.

"Well," Cassius began, "I can show you the way. But I need guidance back to society."

Izraf stood up, "I can-"

"No. Izraf, we need to discuss something." Eiryk interjected, holding up a hand. "I can't say now, but later."

"Is it about the Scorpion?"

"How did you-?"

"He is not to be trusted. The assassins are not to be trusted."

"So you know he tasked me to kill you?" Eiryk finally asked.

"Actually, that's the thing... He also approached me with the task to end your life."

The two understood that someone would have to die. But what would any of this accomplish for Scorpio? What was it that the assassins wanted? Of course Scorpio was one to disapprove of Queen Philena's reign of Selk, but what good was it in putting a hit on both his comrade and a knight of the Meridian kingdom?

Eiryk thought alongside Izraf for a while, and finally, Izraf understood it.

"He needed at least one of us. That way he could perhaps turn up a riot."

"A riot that ends the reign of your queen it seems." Cassius chimed in, "Sounds like that assassin wants nothing but chaos. After all, kill the captain of a ship, who is to lead the sailors back home?"

"A very keen point." Eiryk agreed. "So what should we do? I mean... Without proof, he goes on to try and make attempts on the life of Queen Taltanis."

"Perhaps we'll figure it out in due time. For now, I do agree that I am not fit to return." Izraf began to explain, thinking hard on the point, "What I can do is probably guide you, Cassius, to..."

Izraf paused, realizing a key issue with his plan, "Eiryk... Where do the Assassins not have a presence?"

"Probably the Umbrarian Cult at Dreamer's Hill. Maybe the Church of Lumbra. Vel Da Ir is crawling with them, Fort Frenga is watched by them, and Selk, well, it's not exactly the best of places, is it? Avalon... Well, it's tied to the queen, so it probably has a number of assassins roaming there."

"Right, so the Corisca mainland is off limits."

"Perhaps we could cross the sea and head to New Meridia?" Cassius suggested, but Izraf shook his head.

"New Meridia is destroyed." He answered, "But perhaps... Tal-Ari, the new Reptal city that is rising up."

"Yes, but... Is that truly safe for a Meridian?" Eiryk questioned, "I hear the king of dragons lives there."

"Absolutely not, but I feel as though it would prove useful for everyone." Izraf suggested.

"Then Tal-Ari it is. We could depart from the coasts near the pyramids. Just need a boat." Cassius agreed. He stood up and began preparing a bag.

"We could probably fashion one out of what we find at the pyramids."

Eiryk nodded in agreement and the trio began to make their way to the pyramids. Eiryk couldn't help but feel like he had been lied to. Even still, what of the shadow virus that would control his powers? Would it really have the power to, or would it make an attempt on his life? Perhaps Scorpio wanted him to live just long enough to enter into a rampage and destroy Selk and the Meridians living there.

Whatever the case, the trek across the desert began again, and with the protection of the wind spirit and Cassius' guidance, they came across the pyramids with ease. Three stood tall, but only one stood with an open entrance. But this pyramid was no longer ordinary. It was as if biomass began to grow upon its surface, veins sprouted from the base and up to the top, and undead roamed around it. Yet these undead also possessed the same technology as the ARKs that threatened the surface world. Eiryk knew this to be the place threatening Demeter and the world as a whole.

"And yet there is still one more after this." Izraf remarked, "Imagine what awaits you there."

"Only oblivion." Cassius answered. Everyone readied their weapons and rushed forth. The Meridian made short work of undead with his hammer which he chose to bring instead of his great blade or lance. Cassius himself made slower work, chosing to take on many at once and standing behind a massive shield with a lance to pick off opponents casually. Eiryk himself would claw his way through, and occasionally activate and deactivate his undead and demonic abilities, feasting where necessary to regain his health. Though he didn't prefer this meat to the meat of a fresh kill.

With the main courtyard cleared, they entered the pyramid to find it alight with technology. Technology of the ARKs had taken over, and yet it was as if something else was building it up. Though the three of them approached a central platform, nothing happened.

"Usually something is supposed to happen with these." Eiryk stated, remarking to the circular pattern on the floor.

Izraf and Cassius stepped back to let Eiryk try to do something when suddenly it turned red and a six foot forcefield surrounded Eiryk.

"Eiryk!" Izraf shouted, as the entrance closed. Undead began to pour out from the biomass infiltrating the area.

A voice began to resonate throughout the pyramid...

"To you who dares enter my tomb... May you be swallowed by eternal darkness. Your friend, a sacrifice, that I may be reborn, and yourselves... A meal for my children..."

Once more they had to fight, and Eiryk was sealed inside the circle, unable to do anything but watch.

"Children, enjoy your feast."

The undead charged towards the Titan and Meridian, both of them struggling to fight off each wave that came. They were halfway through their potions as they soon came to realize that Eiryk would face his opponent alone, with no items to keep him safe.

"Eiryk! Has anything happened in there!?" Cassius shouted. The human stood up and shook his head, as he was already tired from attacking the forcefield and floor, now covered with claw marks.

As the next hour approached and the area became flooded up to the knees in blood from the undead and bones and limbs from teh creatures that came forth, the voice spoke again.

"It is a shame my children have failed... But it is time that I fed."

Without warning, the platform Eiryk was on began to descend. The floor closed up, and the lights in the pyramid all turned red as more undead began to flood in. Like in Vex Vinas, the area was dark, but then things faded to white. Eiryk looked around and found himself dressed in commoner's clothes. He appeared to be at the Velian Tavern.

He didn't think anything of it, nor could he, for he saw a beautiful dancer off to the corner of the room eyeing him.

Her movements were elegant, and her hair flowed golden. He recognized her. Wasn't this...

"Karliah?" He voiced. The woman smiled. Indeed, it was the paladin. And yet, why was she here?"

Eiryk looked around and realized this was no ordinary Velian Tavern. Suddenly, Karliah was straddling him in his chair, and watched as the mass debauchery began around him. He was witnessing lust all about him, people enjoying themselves in carnal pleasure. The woman straddling him gave out a lustful giggle.

"Come now Eiryk, I know you've always wanted this."

Perhaps she was right as he couldn't help but feel his hands caress her skin and take in her scent. She began to undo his top when she suddenly gave out a scream. A blinding light came from his chest. He had nearly forgot what he had been wearing all this time. An old symbol which was his since his rescue. As the light pervaded the area, he saw everything for what it truly was. Once more he was in his assassin's garb with a bandaged arm, but also, he saw about him not humans or the other races of his world, but undead partaking in carnal pleasures, and deformed, half-eaten bodies partaking in pleasure. The woman who pretended to be Karliah stood headless and began to float in the air, winds rushing all about her.

Eiryk immediately took aim for her chest, being the only part that appeared open to wounding, and as he rushed he could only find that she would fly out of the way and launch gusts of wind at him, throwing tables, chairs, and all assortments of ornaments at him, even the bodies of those partaking in their lustful desires.

Instead of sticking to the ground, he chose instead to ride the winds and let them launch him into the air. Upon finding and advantage, he drilled downwards through her chest, slicing her into eight pieces as he done so. They fell to the ground lifeless, and everything faded to black.

"... That was too easy, there's more, isn't there?"

"A keen one you are..." The voice replied.

In the next vision, Eiryk found himself sitting at a long table. Yet he felt himself famished. He couldn't move, his arms and legs were chained to the chair. His clothes were like those of a nobleman, with a dim lighting he couldn't see the faces of the figures approaching, only what was directly in front of him. As they each approached, they brought golden platters of beautiful, delicious smelling food.

He so desperately wanted it with how he felt. Yet he knew this as a farce by now with the first temptation being the false Karliah. The figures pushed the food to his face. Yet he knew if he ate of it, something terrible would likely happen. Hence he shut his mouth, he refused to feast upon the food.

"Would you not like to eat?"

The voice resonated through the room, and he would not open his mouth. He knew if even the slightest bit of oil from the fish, or if even the slightest leaf of salad entered his mouth, it would be over for him.

So he refused to eat as he felt the life continually drain from him, and he figured himself close to death. That was when he awoke to find himself in chains still, but now as he was, he was soaked in blood and skeletons were attempting to serve him the remains of the woman he had just killed. Breaking free of the chains with his demonic ability, he slew each of them and the door opened to another room.

As he stepped through, he found men and women alike, pushing bags of money up a hill. The bags were chained to their wrists, and to their other wrists were chained keys. Each only screamed two words.

"Leave us!"

Eiryk figured he knew what to do. Unchain them. Yet they would push him away should he attempt to unlock the chain. He knew he would get nowhere by forcing them to do as he asked.

Instead, he searched his pockets and found no items. His Crucifix of Lumbra could do nothing but shine bright in the area. The sky, red as it was, and the earth as black as it was, he had no idea how to overcome this trial ahead.

"Why not end their lives?"

Eiryk head the voice in his head resonate.

"They suffer. So end them, let them be your meal."

"No. That is not the answer." Eiryk responded.

"Why do you let others suffer then?"

Eiryk looked at each of them, "They have the answer in their hands, it is not my trial but theirs."

"Their trial is simple. To let you progress through their sacrifice."

"Their sacrifice is not yet made. This realm, this oblivion, this is a realm of punishment for what they did. Who were these men and women."

"Those who coveted my vast wealth and riches. So now, they have but a portion of them."

"Perhaps then..." Eiryk thought.

He got between two carrying the heavy bags of possessions up the hill.

"If you will not unchain yourselves. Will you not free another who suffers?""

"Listen not! Attack one another, show your superior wealth!"

Two had listened to Eiryk, however, and used the other's key on the other's lock. Others followed suit, and when the last was undone, they found they could finally look in the bags, only to find nothing but lead weights.

"The worthlessness of possessions is clear when you look at matters of the soul." Eiryk stated, "Be free. Walk from this place and be saved."

They each gave a bow as their spirits rose high into the sky, and a doorway appeared for Eiryk. It seemed as though, with each step he took, he began to remember just a little bit more of himself. He remembered his time as an acolyte for the church. His time finding his place. His time as an experiment for the Cult of Umbraria.

But he knew he wasn't out of darkness yet.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Approaching the coastline, Eiryk found no choice but to jump into the waters ahead. As he did so, he felt his skin burn with white fire.

That was when he felt the clawing of others beneath the surface. Unable to swim, yet not wanting to hurt those below, he began pulling them up above him. He decided, if not for himself, he would do for those beneath him what he could to preserve their lives.

As he pulled each one up, another soul began to float towards the sky, as he sank deep below the surface. Lower and lower he sank until he reached the bottom, where another door greeted him.

"This isn't a means of trial." He finally stated.

He gazed forward and saw a great walled city, surrounded by a moat of lava and flame. Its towers stood tall, and its buildings were aflame. He stepped through its gates and witnessed before him a great pit, but before even that was a corridor of flaming caskets.

The fires burned a with holy light, which Eiryk had to blind himself from. Yet he knew what he had to do. For the pit was next. Yet... This was not his objective. For within each casket was a soul, purged by flame of sin.

"What are you willing to sacrifice going forward?" The voice resonated.

"My mortal body and soul... They are eternally to be burned, should I let this go on. For these are not truly holy flames, and I shall not be fooled so easily."

Thus he took hold of one casket, severely burning his hand and causing screams of agony. He pried it open and watched a soul inside escape above. He continued to do so for a second, third, fourth, and fifth, all the way through the walled city until all one hundred and eleven caskets were opened and the souls inside set free. His body was severely burned, and his clothing tattered. His hair had been burnt by the severity of the fires, as each opened casket increased the strength of the remaining fire twofold.

Yet he approached the pit and let himself fall inside. Once again he felt the burn of the waters below, as he sank down and opened the door.

Here he found himself faced with a boiling river of blood and fire where souls would be forced to stay at a certain level by beasts shooting arrows upon them. Eiryk could see no way across, no boats to take him, no way across.

"This is not a trial." He reminded himself, "This is... A reawakening."

He removed his bandages, his armor, his weapons. He left only for himself his crucifix, and tossed them all into the boiling river.

The river glowed a blessed white light and a stone bridge rose as the sky turned a beautiful blue, and the blood and fire replaced itself with waters, clear as crystal, and those within lost their weapons beneath the surface, finally crawling out as the beasts shooting arrows lowered their bows, allowing the souls passage above. Eiryk, however, crossed the bridge, and found himself at the border of a great forest. Yet the trees were people, misshapen into various forms. He chose not to touch the trees, and instead knelt down.

"Will you not cut into us like the others who have passed before you?" One head asked.

"I am... Not here to kill, but instead to defend the souls lost here. Others could perhaps think themselves right in doing so, but I will not harm you, even if you are not real."

"I can assure you... Mortal, we are very real. We fail here, for we hate ourselves, and we will thus be forever rooted here."

"Love of oneself. It is a difficult concept to grasp for ones such as yourself. But you have to remember the objective truth of your situation."

"The objective truth? What would be that?"

"Whatever spawned this self hate," Eiryk began, "It is not your fault. Even if it is, not all circumstances are within your control."

"But that's-"

"I understand, all people wish to control their own fate. But that's impossible. You may try, but you rely on everyone else to ensure you can control your own fate."

Eiryk opened his burned eyes and smiled, "Just as I rely on you all to let me through."

"... Just who are you?"

"I am Eiryk Advento, Assassin of the Cross."

Silence followed as the head smiled and shed a single tear. The whole of the forest of bodies began to glow, and the souls rose to the sky. He passed on to the following area and saw before him a vast desert with fire falling from the sky. Those here had their means of accepting their fate, but Eiryk found he had no means of getting attention from any.

"There is still darkness within your soul, you know..."

The voice once again spoke, and so Eiryk held up his crucifix.

"A naked man of such deformity, carrying the light of Lumbra with him grants audience to no one, resume your acts!"

"Listen not to me nor her..." Eiryk spoke, "Listen only to yoursleves. Why do you cower? Why do you run? Why do you accept this fate? Why do you not accept within yourselves the reason for your wrongdoing? Why do you not instead fight for one another? Fight for inner peace?"

Everyone looked to one another, "We hold within ourselves a hatred... That is why we hold violence!"

"Isn't there something more important each of you should be fighting for? Something close to your hearts?"

Silence fell upon them as they all thought, despite being pelted by the flames and heat, they remained silent.

"Rebuild yourselves as I am... That will be your passage to heaven."

Eiryk continued onwards. Once more he found a pit. Unlike the others, it was a circle of many rings. Here he walked among each ring for what felt like days or weeks.

Among the first ring, he conversed with those punishers of the people there, and found them guilty of the same crimes which the punished ones were being accused. In doing so, he pointed out the truth of the matter, that the seduction of others, that exploit of one's passions, is but one that harms the heart, that harms the character of all involved, that turns good into evil. In this, he freed the souls and set them on the oath of redemption.

Among the second, he treated them as he did the violent, and so they were cleansed of the bile they were steeped in, and they too took the oath of redemption.

Among the third ring, he took from each simoner their flames and removed their heads from the rocks, and asked that they instead walk to the top of this realm, and kneel in exaltation of the beings above, asking for true forgiveness. For this humility and modesty, should it be genuine, would afford them redemption.

Among the forth, he found the diviners, and spoke to them of the true ways of the world, and taught each of them of the power of divination -- of true divination, that all who find the truth of the future, shall be exalted, that each of them would find happiness in improving life, and that reward is worth more than any number of coins. That through improving lives, they can lead the way to a better world. Their heads would be turned formwards, and they would float up towards the heavens.

The fifth, the corrupt politicians, would be sent forth from the tar to be cleansed, and every time one would return to Eiryk, he would ask, "Do you understand the comforts of being clean? Do you know why it is comfortable?" And until they would give the correct answer, he would not send them forth to walk to heaven, and instead have them cleansed once more.

The sixth, the hypocrites, would only need to be asked of their understanding, and the whys and wherefores of their actions. Should they provide an answer, and should the crucifix show them to be genuinely apologetic, Eiryk would let them remove the leaden, gilded robes weighing them down.

Taking each from the seventh ring of thieves, Eiryk asked that they be moved ahead, and give unto others who would pass by the means to leave the pits, and so they each would, until each had left. They would be the last to leave, but they would realize within themselves that they showed true generosity for others.

Upon the eighth ring, Eiryk conducted debate among the counselors of fraud, therein, having gained a vast understanding among the other souls he saved, he rebuked each idea of fraudulent counsel, and gave each good counsel, and tasked each to accompany the other souls with good counsel.

On the semifinal ring, the sowers of discord were asked that they put one another back together and to join the others. There they learned the value of unity, and joined the other venturing souls.

On the final ring of the eighth circle, Eiryk looked upon each falsifier. He backtracked to find some of the water and had the other souls provide each with it, describing it as a cure for their ailments. Though they were not cured, they realized the error, and the harm caused by it. In it, they joined the counselors and ensured that none would tell of any falsehood.

In doing so, Eiryk ensured that truth and unity would follow those souls of the eighth circle would follow. Finally, a door appeared for him, and he found himself at the edge of a frozen lake beneath the surface. It was dark, lit only by a few torches, and in the ice were treacherous individuals of many walks. Some partially frozen, some frozen entirely.

"Face it, Eiryk, you will never melt this ice on your own." The voice spoke. "But this is where your soul's cleanliness will shine its brightest. For every soul redeemed, the ice will melt."

"Then so be it."

"For the eighth circle, you saved the most people. For the seventh, you also saved many. For the sixth, fifth, and fourth, you also sent souls to heaven..."

"Then that should be plenty."

"But your soul is still too dark, you murdered a lost soul, and you did nothing to save who else could be among the third, second, or even first circles."

"But didn't I?"

Eiryk was smiling, and the voice was suddenly uncomfortably quivering, for in that dark cavern, lights began to descend, each soul did kindness and spread the teachings spent over what felt like months of venturing through the pits, and so all souls came to Eiryk's final aid, speaking as one.

"Eiryk Advento, Assassin of the Cross, though your soul is tained with a darkness no one can comprehend, one by the name of Umbraria, it is equally blessed by the light of a god unspoken, and by a light passed down by the great light spirit, Lumbra. That light is enough to fully return your soul."

"... and that is how to rebuild a man." Eiryk finished.

"This ice will be blessed and melted, but first, you must awaken..." The voices of the souls paused, "... and... you will need these..."

Eiryk's body shone a bright light and he opened his eyes.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
Eiryk awoke in the room, now bright with golden light. The forcefield was gone, and he found his skin unburned. Yet he also had his arm. Not only that, but his eyes were both blue, and his skin was lacking the mark of Umbraria. More importantly, his assassin robes were now a white with gold trim. He had a proper waistplate of gold, as well as golden greaves with silver blades. He also had on him a golden headband, white wrappings on his arms, and a pair of golden assassin gauntlets. To his side, glowing, was Excalibur.

"It has... Been a while, hasn't it, Eiryk?"

"Excalibur! You're alive again!"

"Yes... At the cost of your weapons and the darkness of your soul, which I have converted to light in my own soul... I have... Seen everything."

Eiryk drew Excalibur and found the blade had redesigned itself to be more elegant, sturdier, more powerful. He was content with this change, even if it meant he had no other weapon, save for a retractable blade on his left wrist.

"That was... The most I could leave you with."

Eiryk shook his head with a smile, "It's fine."

"In any case, you have a task ahead of you..."

Eiryk turned around as the lights turned to a red once more, there he saw a corpse submersed in a clear tube, fluids supposedly sustaining it.

"So that must be... Zeden Altena..."

"Yes. The dark queen of Jungalore..."


Link


The capsule she was in suddenly let off a steam burst and detached itself from the wall, along with a large mass of metal to form the main body, two sets of arms followed, and a set of legs.

"Eiryk Advento!" It shouted as corruption began to course over it and biomass began to connect everything, "It is quite surprising that one such as yourself, cursed, undead, and damned to oblivion was not only able to traverse the Shadow Realm, but cleanse it and return to life, losing all darkness and curses..."

The corpse inside the tube smiled, "Truly... I shall enjoy feasting on your soul and returning to this world with its power!"

The golem rushed forwards attempting to rush Eiryk. However, he felt his reflexes working to his advantage. For once, he could move without feeling as rigid as he did. He remembered his magic as an acolyte and launched holy light upon the shadowy golem. It proved quite effective as white-holy fire burned the biomass. But Eiryk's main target was the tube. Excalibur could cut the steel fairly easily, but the forcefield was where the problem was as he made continuous attacks on it.

Instead, he shifted focus on the lights, and there were many, but the golem would not let up as it would toss him across the room and attempt to shoot beams of darkness at him.

Yet he remembered it all, the lessons he learned in the "month" of him in the shadow realm. He understood he had to win, he understood the powers he once had, and even some from a past life.

"So... There is more to your soul than even you knew..." Zeden remarked through the voice synthesis.

"So you remember this, too then?" Eiryk lifted his blade Skyward and cut downwards, delivering a golden wave of energy.

"Then... You really are his incarnation... You really are Xanvoda Alte Ravonor of the second Jungalore!"

Each charge and strike seemed familiar to the other. And each knew almost exactly what the other was to do. What Eiryk had, however, was the advantage of different and new abilities. Of course, so too did Zeden. He had to anticipate based on his previous battles with these guardians of these technological ruins.

But Zeden knew it was soon to be over, for Eiryk finally made the move that would prove fatal. As she was delivering her charge, Eiryk had his blade sheathed to the side, and he spun sideways doing a draw-slash, severing the leg off the golem with ease. It came crashing down, breaking the tube containing the corpse. The queen was trapped under the mass of technology.

"I thought... This would finally be the time of my resurrection..."

Eiryk shook his head, "Your time to live is over." He stated, plunging his sword into her back. She delivered a terrible wail that echoed through the pyramid as he remarked, "May you be forever sealed, never to return in any form of the future."

The lights shifted to orange and the biomass disappeared from the pyramids. He stepped to the central circle and began heading back up to the surface.

As he arrived up top, Izraf and Cassius saw Eiryk in his new outfit and saw Excalibur at his side. Eiryk smiled and nodded.

"It is done. How did you two fare here?"

Izraf shrugged, "After you descended we had a few waves more, but then everything stopped, and the exit opened. We managed to find some trees nearby and made a boat."

"That's not the interesting part." Cassius began, "We only came back when suddenly the sandstorm stopped. It hasn't stopped since it first started thousands of years ago."

"So Zeden was behind that this time too..." Excalibur stated.

"H-Hey! Excalibur! It just spoke!" Izraf exclaimed, "So you revived the blade?"

"Sort of... It'll be a long story to share, but I basically just spent a month in the realm of shadows."

"Hmm... Indeed, it will be a long story." Izraf agreed as Cassius also nodded. He also pointed behind Eiryk, "So, time to deal with that, right?"

Eiryk turned and saw the familiar monolith. He nodded and walked up, touching the blade of Excalibur to the monolith.

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Post Re: End of Jungalore: Final Chapter
As they appeared outside, with the sands for once settling, and the pyramids suddenly disappeared from behind them, Demeter descended upon the trio.

"I see my trust was well placed, young Eiryk." The goddess spoke. Each of them took a knee and bowed before her, "And you, Izraf, Cassius, you both have done well in aiding him in his quest."

"Then, lady Demeter, does this mean everything will be alright?"

"Yes. Already, the waters surrounding have been purified. However, I feel as though our presence on this planet is causing much disturbance. Perhaps we gods should never have intervened with the lives of those on this planet..."

The goddess looked mournfully over the land before continuing, "No matter, I can restore the earth to its true form now. Only one more remains. He will be more difficult to reach than the rest. You will need only the most skilled warrior in all of Jungalore..."

"I see... Yet, what is it that you will do now?"

"I will join my kind. Find the final spirit, save him, and restore balance. Let the new world take form on his freedom."

With that, Demeter disappeared.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The Meridian and Titan already had left. Eiryk on the other hand conferred with the sword in his scabbard.

"So, Scorpio is plotting vengeance, then..." The sacred sword spoke, "Do you plan on having him tried by the royal court?"

"I was hoping I'd have an answer, but there's so little I can do as is." Eiryk figured as he was approaching Selk. They immediately made their way to the Assassin's Guild, meeting with the man who clearly was plotting against the throne.

"So, you were successful?" Scorpio asked.

"Yes, the target has been eliminated. The curse has also been lifted on one more area."

Scorpio smiled, "Then you are ready for the virus."

"No, I don't need it." Eiryk stated, "In that journey I found myself, who I was before, and I already have powers even greater than that virus. I fought in that tomb the revived form of Queen Zeden Altena. The same witch that cast the Altena Kingdom into despair for years before her demise. She sent me straight to the Shadow Realm, and in saving the souls lost there, the powers I found go beyond even what you can comprehend."

Taken aback by all this, yet somehow impressed by this turn of confidence, Scorpio smiled, "Then you should be ready for the next mission..."

Eiryk stood up as he stated this, "No. I cannot be your follower any longer."

"Wh-What? Eiryk... You're choosing to leave the Assassins?"

"I cannot follow you, there is something more for me in this world, a purpose I must fulfill that my ancestors could not. I shall still live under the name of 'Assassin of the Cross' but my name will no longer be Eiryk Advento."

Scorpio sat in silence as Eiryk smiled, "The books shall remember me as Noxiel, in the ancient tongue, it means 'Northern Cross' and it is under this that I will found my own Assassin's Guild."

"So you wish to form your own guild then...?" Scorpio questioned, "And what makes you think you are ready? That you've slain beasts that curse our lands? That you overcame your conditions?"

"No, I can do this because I have something you don't have." Eiryk answered with a wry grin, "Loyalty to the people, rather than to ideals."

Eiryk turned to leave, and that was when Scorpio realized his plot had been found. Eiryk made great haste to meet with Queen Philena in the Meridian Palace.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"It really is a shame..." Philena stated, placing her chin in her hand, "He has skilled students..."

"What will you do, my queen?" Eiryk asked.

"I'm going to make a hasty decision. Considering you gave me the missives addressed to these people, both falsified by Scorpio, clearly, I have no choice but to be trusting of you... Tell me, where is Izraf now?"

"Tal-Ari, hiding out."

"Dangerous..." Philena uttered to herself, "Nonetheless, he is safer there than here. I am certain he will be fine."

"I suggest you make a run for Avalon. Undoubtedly Scorpio will find supporters of his ideal and make an attempt on your life. After all, you changed the lives of the Selkie people, for better in the eyes of most, but for worse in many ways."

"Such was expected, but this is a difficult situation. Assassin presence is strong in Avalon."

"Then I have a plan that may seem farfetched at first... Let me set up a new Assassin's Guild." Eiryk requested. The queen gave it thought, pacing around the room.

"Honestly, that was my idea, but thinking on it... It would cause you a lot of trouble, you would need to recruit and the assassins there are loyal to Scorpio."

"Then forget the idea of assassins. Let it be a guild to represent the people of all of Jungalore, seeking the rule of a great king... Or in this case, a great queen, one who fights for freedom, one who allows for the people to be free and lead whatever life they so choose. One that allows for people to find themselves rather than find out what their final job in this world will be. Let it set the basis for the new world that you will construct."

"... Eiryk, you have grown quite a lot in the few days that have passed." Philena said with a smile, "I believe... This can be managed. If it is but an organization that seeks freedom of choice in all life, to allow for everyone to be the person they wish, and to become more than they currently are, then I can support this guild of yours."

Eiryk gave an approving nod, "Then, I want you to make for Avalon immediately. I will find those willing to make a difference in this land."

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