Table of Contents
The blast of wind caught the guards unprepared, sending them sprawling. Elena flew over the confusion, waving an arm. â€œQuickly, this way!â€ Kieran grabbed Nia, who was frozen in surprise, and he Khory dashed after her, into the hallway, as Mokrelus roared with anger and started levering himself forwards. Quickly, she spun, and another gust of wind slammed the doors closed. Nia gasped again, looking to the others.
â€œI didnâ€™tâ€¦ he shouldnâ€™tâ€¦ noâ€¦.â€
â€œLater!â€ Khory propped himself against the door as it shuddered under the impact of a blow from the other side. â€œYou with us, girl, or with him?â€
â€œIâ€¦â€ Nia paused, and gritted her teeth. â€œYou.â€
â€œGreat. Elena, I donâ€™t know how you did that, but do it again, okay?â€ Elena nodded, and the four started running away from the door. As it burst open, Elena sent another gust of wind rocketing down the corridor; the guards, prepared, braced themselves against it, but were nonetheless slowed, and the lead widened.
As they ran, Khory turned towards Kieran. â€œAlright, boss, how do we beat him?â€
â€œBeat him?â€ Kieran spun down a side corridor, trying to remember the route back to the surface. â€œThis is Mokrelus! The Celestial Caretaker! We canâ€™t beat him!!â€ He paused, gasping for breath, and Elena glanced back around the corner.
â€œWeâ€™re clear for the moment.â€ She settled down, shaking her head. â€œThat went badly. Nia, what do we do?â€
â€œI donâ€™t know!!â€ Nia shook her head, in a panic. â€œItâ€™sâ€¦ itâ€™s far worse than Iâ€™d feared, in my darkest moments! Heâ€™s lost any sense of justiceâ€¦â€
â€œIf he ever had it.â€ Kieranâ€™s voice was grim. â€œNia, you have to face the facts â€“ this is what he had planned from the beginning.â€
â€œIt canâ€™t be!â€ Nia sank to the ground, tears glittering in her eyes, and shook her head. â€œEverything I went through, the things I didâ€¦ it just canâ€™t!â€ She looked pleadingly up at the others. â€œIâ€™m a part of him, Kieran. A piece of his personality. I just canâ€™t believe thatâ€¦ that I would be capable of that!â€
â€œYou arenâ€™t, not necessarily.â€ Kieran sat down beside Nia, while Elena and Khory kept watch. â€œListen to me, Nia.â€ He took her chin in one hand, smiling sadly. â€œPeople are complicated, right? And Mokrelus more than anyone. Youâ€¦ I think your personality is one that is a reflection of what Mokrelus believes of himself, his ideal. Not what he is. And, wellâ€¦ youâ€™ve said yourself that you were cut off from him, and Sirrim said that youâ€™d changed.â€
â€œChangedâ€¦ yes. Less thinking about my mission, and more aboutâ€¦â€ She blushed, and looked away quickly. â€œOther people.â€ She paused. â€œMaybe thatâ€™s what heâ€™s forgotten. So many people that are just himself, we donâ€™t matter. Not really.â€ She sighed, and then stiffened. â€œOh, noâ€¦â€
â€œWhat is it?â€
â€œHeâ€™s trying to find me. To contact me, absorb me.â€ She gritted her teeth. â€œThe link is still damaged, but this closeâ€¦ now he knows where it is, heâ€™s opening it again. I donâ€™t know if I can shut him out. And if he learns the secret of the Deathlordsâ€¦â€ Sweat began to pool, and she stood. â€œWe have to get more distance.â€
â€œHow will that help?â€ Khory sighed. â€œHeâ€™s got a lot of servants, and he can track you, canâ€™t he? Anyway, youâ€™ll die eventually. We canâ€™t just put this off.â€
â€œSure we can. We can come back later, andâ€¦â€ Nia shook her head, cutting Kieran off.
â€œItâ€™s too late.â€ She staggered, and Elena reached back to catch her. â€œHeâ€™s found the link now. Heâ€™s going to start pushing through it. And then heâ€™ll absorb me back into him, and Iâ€™ll be nothing.â€
â€œThere must be something we can do!â€ Kieran frowned thoughtfully, and Nia sighed.
â€œNo â€“ you have to run! We canâ€™tâ€¦â€ She stopped, slack-jawed. â€œAbsorbed.â€
â€œLook, this is pretty and all, but we need to run.â€ Khory sighed, looking around the corner again. â€œTheyâ€™ll find us any moment.â€
â€œWe need a god.â€ Niaâ€™s voice was soft. â€œA god who can walk in dreams. Thenâ€¦ itâ€™s too much, I canâ€™t imagineâ€¦ Kieran, will you help us?â€
â€œAll of us. We have to help Mokrelus, and thereâ€™s only one way I can imagine to do it.â€ She shook her head. â€œI canâ€™t do it alone. Maybe, we canâ€™t do it at all. Butâ€¦â€ Seeing the other three staring at her in confusion, she sighed. â€œIf you enter his mind, while he connects with me, we can fight him there. I am a part of him. It is how he works. We canâ€¦ change him. Change me. Let my part of his personality become dominant, and repair him.â€
â€œWhat happens to you?â€ Kieranâ€™s voice was soft.
â€œThere is no me!â€ Nia almost shouted, buckling again. â€œKieran, I am only a part of another being. I am him! I will be him more fully, thatâ€™s all.â€ She fought back tears, failing. â€œItâ€™s the only way to save him. To stop him.â€
Kieran paused, and then sighed. â€œAlright. Weâ€™ll get to the surface, and try to summon Skulking Bear. But Niaâ€¦â€ He paused, and then hugged her abruptly. â€œIâ€™ll be with you all the way.â€
â€œI know.â€ With one last hug, the two seperated, and the four started making their way towards the surface.