Secret of Mana: A Novelization
by Intrasonic

Chapter 22: The Cloud Behind the Silver Lining

An hour later, Keith was much different. His vision was blurry and his entire body felt numb. He had already learned the hard way that the slightest urge could bring forth massive amount of magic, whether he wanted it or not. Several times, the snakes approached him, but were violently destroyed before they could even escape. He was beginning to shake uncontrollably. His newfound power was no longer the gift he had thought it was. It was beginning to control him more than he controlled it.

In truth, Keith was beginning to feel something he hadn't felt in a long time. He was scared. He was beginning to understand why everything he met was scared of him. He was scared of himself too. The small, rational part of his mind was able to reason that it was somehow related to his magic, but it was forced to admit that when it came down to it, he knew nothing concrete about magic. He had no way of helping himself. If his condition was a fatal one, he was as good as dead now.

A small pebble crumbled from the ceiling, tumbling quietly to the ground. Keith let out a yell and brought up his hands, letting loose a massive blast of lightning that carved out the entire wall like an exploding stick of dynamite. The closeness of the blast knocked him back several steps, leaving him gasping for breath, mentally shaken. He hadn't even been able to stop himself!

"What's wrong?" he whispered in horror. "What the hell is wrong with me?"

The hissing of a snake could be heard up ahead. Keith cringed, knowing what was coming next. It sounded like one of the larger snakes. It knew he was there, and would undoubtedly come to investigate him as a meal prospect.

"Go away!" he whispered pleadingly. It no longer mattered whether it was a monster or not. He simply didn't want to lose control again. Even seeing the creature might be enough to make him fire. The hard-earned self-control and discipline that he had long been proud of was a distant memory in his mind. He had been reduced to hoping that avoiding magic use might save him.

To his immense relief, the snake did not appear. It seemed busy with something else. He stopped, wondering if he could simply wait until it went away. But what if it came this way? He would have gained nothing but agitation. He gritted his chattering teeth. If he was going to die, he wouldn't face it as a coward. No matter how pathetic a state he had been reduced to, he would meet anything head-on. Even if he was scared, he would ignore it.

Very deliberately, he took a step forwards, fists clenched tightly. Before he was able to take another step, something else startled him. A high-pitched squeal. Instantly, magic surged within him.

"No!" Keith pleaded, fighting to avoid releasing the build-up of power. After what seemed like an eternity, he was able to fight it down. That sound had been something besides a snake. No doubt the snake had found a meal.

Keith swore to himself again that he was no coward, forcing himself to peer around the corner to see the scene. What he saw almost made him faint with disbelief. He had been right about the snake. But a short distance away from the snake was something unlike anything he had ever seen before.

"Stay behind me," Randi ordered, advancing around the corner with his sword leveled in front of him.

"It doesn't sound like Keith," was all Purim said.

Randi had a feeling that her statement was a loaded one. Despite repeated arguing, she had refused to back down from her notion that she should be the one to deal with Keith when they found. When they finally found the sprite, he realized that she might be a little more objecting. He would deal with that when it came. Right now, he was more concerned about the sounds of fighting up ahead of them. It sounded like animals, but occasional flashes of light could be seen, suggesting that something more was happening.

Peering around the corner, he tried to see what the commotion was without giving his presence away. What he saw made him forget how to breathe.

"What is it?" Purim hissed.

When she got no reply, she scrambled around him, determined to see for herself. Her reaction was somewhat more restrained. "Oh my..."

There were two huge creatures in combat with each other. One was a giant snake at least fifty feet long. The other was beyond description. For lack of any other name, it could be considered a dragon, but somehow the word didn't seem to do it justice. Its body was completely white, even in the darkness, with two pairs of giant wings coming out of its body. The wings, indeed, its entire body was adorned with multicolored feathers that were presently ruffled out.

"Is that what I think it is?" she squeaked.

The sound of her voice shook Randi out of his trance. "There's supposed to be dragons back here..."

"Who's worse?" Purim asked. "The snakes or the dragons?"

The dragon and the snake were facing each other off. Both were wounded, but the dragon seemed to be having a harder time of the fight. The snake lunged towards the dragon, aiming for the neck, but the dragon moved aside and opened its jaws wide, exhaling a massive blast of flame that engulfed the snake's body. But the snake didn't even notice the attack. With a hiss, it lunged again. This time it was successful. The snake's jaws clamped firmly around the dragon's neck, fangs instantly drawing a torrent blood.

"The snake's killing it!" Purim whispered in horror. A slight movement made her turn towards Randi. He was gone. Looking back at the fight, she could see him, moving faster than she'd ever seen him move before. His sword was out and drawn back for a strike.

At the last moment, the snake seemed to notice his presence, but it was too late by then. Like a lightning bolt, Randi attacked the snake, his sword cleanly slicing through the snake's neck, just behind the end of the mouth line. The snake hissed angrily, mouth opening wide as it released the dragon's neck. Then it collapsed to the ground, dead. Randi quickly scanned the cave for anything else dangerous. There was nothing else, save the snake's victim, which he faced off warily. He didn't even know what it was...

The creature was lying quietly on the ground, its breath coming in harsh gasps. The wounds on its neck was severe on their own, but the rest of its body was badly injured too. Randi didn't even know if it would live... He spun around. "Purim! Get over here! It's hurt bad!"

She came without hesitation, although clearly wasn't as eager to get close to the dragon. Now that they were close, it was becoming obvious exactly how big it was. She probably could have stood up straight inside its jaws when open. Its eyes were like white teardrops, magnified a thousand times until they were the size of serving plates. Its upper body was covered in a rough white substance that might be the equivalent of down, while the lower half was protected with plates with rainbow-hued scales. Randi could see that when facing off an enemy, the scales would be presented forwards, protecting it in a fight. But even they hadn't been enough to defend against the snake this time...

"Are you sure it's safe?" Purim asked cautiously.

Randi gave her a look. "Not as dangerous as those snakes, I think. If you don't want to heal it, I'll kill it now and spare it some suffering..."

She swallowed as she saw the grim look on Randi's face. "Let me try."

She slowly approached the creature, even though her knees were shaking underneath her. "I-I'm just here to help," she assured it nervously. "I'm not going to hurt you. Just a little healing spell..."

To her surprise, the creature's eyes began to glow a little brighter. It gave a quiet grunt and shifted itself, presenting the wound in its neck to her.

She gulped. It understood her? "Uh... well, here goes nothing."

She placed her hand over the wound. The creature flinched from the touch, but held still as she began to concentrate intently. She could see a strong amount of Earth Mana in the wound. There was some form of poison. Even now, it was spreading through the creature's body, doing something to it. Calling forth all the magic she could muster, her entire body began to pulse a faint blue.

After what seemed like an eternity, she heard a voice. It had no tone or ‘sound' to it, but she could hear the words all the same. / You must alter the magic. /

Purim's eyes snapped open. "What?" She glanced back at Randi, who shrugged.

"It's not working?" he guessed nervously. If he had heard anything, he gave no indication.

She shook her head, looking back at the dragon. "I don't understand," she whispered.

/ You control magic. You can alter the magic within itself. /

She swallowed. If she didn't know better, she'd think that the dragon was somehow...

"Let me try again," she muttered, gathering her flustered thoughts together and preparing to try again. The voice had told her to alter the magic... how could you alter magic? It didn't seem to make sense. She needed to have an idea of what she was going to do if anything was going to work. Finally she thought up something that seemed somewhat reasonable.

"Here goes nothing," she breathed, placing her hands on the creature again. Desperately hoping for results, she willing the Earth magic to change. But what could she change it into?

Thinking back to her experimentation, she hit upon an idea. She had used Earth magic to provide strength. She would try to make the dragon stronger. Surely that would work. Assuming what the dragon had told her was right...

Even as Randi watched Purim concentrate, he could see a thin thread of Earth Mana weaving its way through the dragon's body, destroying as it went. Poison. Near the wound itself, a small amount was changing into a more helpful form of the Earth Mana...

But it was a slow process, and only skin deep. The rest of the dragon's body was slowly but surely succumbing to the poison. Purim knew that she was barely scratching the surface. But surely she was doing some good? If she could only keep this up long enough...

/ Enough. Save your energy. I am beyond healing. The monster's poison has done its worst already. /

"I won't give up yet!" she protested, increasing the flow of magic.

Abruptly the dragon shifted away from her, breaking the contact. Purim stumbled forwards, her concentration broken. "What are you doing!?" she protested.

/ I am not long for this existence. Do not exhaust yourself into vulnerability. Be wary of these lands. There are many more of those monsters./

Having said that, the voice stopped. At the same time, the dragon gave a audible sigh, slumping completely to the ground. Its massive form began to fade away before their eyes. Within ten seconds, there wasn't a trace to be seen.

Purim slumped to the ground herself, only now realizing to what degree she had exhausted herself from the effort. But it was more than that. It had been the dragon talking to her. Talking to her and trying to teach her something beyond what she knew. They had been looking at something with all the intelligence of a human being. And now it was dead...

"You okay?" Randi asked, kneeling down beside her. "I heard it talk at the end..."

"It's dead," she whispered. "I wasn't able to save it. I just didn't know how."

"You still might be able to save Keith," Randi said after a moment.

A glint came into her eyes. "You know what? I can. Thanks to..." she gestured weakly at the empty space in front of them. "Thanks to it, I think I really can now."

She got to her feet. "Come on. Let's hope we're not too late already."

Keith shook his head, deciding that he was beginning to hallucinate. There was a dragon in front of him, cornered by a giant snake. The snake seemed believable. He'd slaughtered any number of them already. But a small voice in his mind overrode his disbelief, apparently not finding anything unusual about the dragon. It insisted that the dragon needed to be saved...

"No!" he whispered in horror. He couldn't use magic...

Nevertheless, he found himself coming forwards. He didn't understand why, but he could see the dragon-like creature as it cowered down and whimpered. It was about to die. Just like Keith was certain he was going to. It was inevitable, he knew. But not for this dragon...

Gritting his teeth, he willed power to come forwards. A stir went through the cave as air began to move at his command. He pounded his palms together, more for a physical release to his stress than for the benefit of the spell. Instantly, the edges of the cave were reduced to a vacuum, all the air having been compacted into a small area in front of the sprite. Keith pointed a single finger at the snake's head. Instantly, all the air was flattened out into a single blade-shaped projectile, blazing towards the snake at the speed of sound. It lanced through the snake, effortlessly slicing off the head. But as soon as the job was completely, it faded from existence, returning to fill the vacuum as quickly as it had left.

In the meantime, Keith was acutely aware that the cave was being lit from something. The direction of the shadows informed him that he was the source of the light. His teeth chattered, knowing that the magic was trying to escape again. This time it was doing better...

He staggered forwards, trying to focus his entire will into the process of walking. Anything to divert the willpower that was making the magic come. It wasn't working, he realized after a moment. As always, the newest assault was the strongest yet. He was only slightly aware of the creature he had just saved. He didn't know what it was... but it was going to die if he lost control here, he realized. And he was going to lose control soon...

All at once, he allowed himself to take a portion of the magic and use it willingly. Overhead, a section of the ceiling was violently cracked off and began to fall.

Keith halted his magic as best he could and waited patiently for what seemed like an eternity. He only hoped it was enough. He was soon answered. With a crash, the slab of rock impacted his head, cracking in half from the force. Keith's glowing eyes faded as the sprite collapsed in a heap, unconscious, a weak smile of relief on his face.

"I saw something!" Randi said happily. "Over that way. A load of magic just got used by someone."

"Well, there aren't very many people around here who use magic," Purim agreed, having seen it herself. "Probably him. I almost pity the snakes if he's using the amount of magic I think he's using."

"I don't like it," Randi muttered.

Purim couldn't begin to guess what he didn't like at this moment. She knew there were a few things. "Keith was never able to use that much magic before."

"And you think you have a prayer against him?" Randi demanded.

At least she knew what had him riled at this particular moment. "I appreciate the concern, Randi. But this is something I have to do."

"Why? What's with the attitude all of the sudden?" Randi demanded heatedly. "You're willing to risk your life on a theory? I suppose I'm supposed to save Dyluck on my own after you get killed?"

She flinched, but didn't back down. "Listen, don't think I've gotten my priorities mixed up. That sprite is still the most egotistical, thick-headed, over-hormoned freak I've ever seen." Her gaze softened. "But this isn't his fault. This is all related to our magic, you know. We're just a bunch of kids playing with it like a toy. We're all going to get burned by it eventually. He's just the first one. If we don't help each other out with it, we're going to wind up as a trio of failures who were too proud to back each other up."

Randi said nothing, thinking over her words.

"Besides," Purim added quietly. "Someday, I'll be with Dyluck again. I'm going to look back at all this and decide whether every sacrifice I made was worth it. I want to be able to say yes, that I'd give it all up again if necessary. I don't want to have to question whether someone's life was a worthwhile sacrifice."

Keith didn't know how much time passed before he awoke, but he wished that he could have stayed unconscious longer. His head felt like it was going to explode. He groaned, staggering to his feet. He considered himself fortunate that nothing else had come along and attacked while he was asleep.

/ You alive... /

Keith sprang, or at least tried to spring, to his feet, magic at his fingertips, rapidly scanning the room for the source of the voice. It didn't take long for him to draw a conclusion, even though it was a ridiculous one. The creature he had saved was talking to him.

"Who... the devil are you?" he hissed, still in a fighting crouch.

/ You saved me before. Are you a friend? /

Keith barked a short, bitter laugh, wincing as magic tried to flare up inside him. "Hell no, freak. I'm dangerous to anything nearby. If you got an ounce of sense, you'll run like a whipped dog until I finally die!" He was beginning to realize that he wasn't even scared anymore. It was as though he had finally given up and accepted it...

/ I'm going to die too./

"Just... watch out for the snakes," Keith suggested, his giddiness beginning to fade a little.

/ It doesn't matter. My parents are dead. I felt them die. /

Keith blinked, his pain briefly overshadowed. "Huh?"

/ The monster's attacked them. /

"Then... you've just gotta fend for yourself, I guess. Good luck."

/ I don't know how. I am only a few days old. /

Keith shook his head. The idea that he was talking with something he'd never seen before in life was in the background of his thoughts, somewhat irrelevant by any standards. He shrugged, deciding he was probably too giddy to know otherwise. He might as well just enjoy dying. "Well, I guess we're both S.O.L., buddy."

/ I don't understand. /

"We're both screwed. What do you say we just sit down and die together?"

/ Why are you laughing? /

"No reason," Keith replied dryly, only having realized that himself. "I think I've finally gone insane, that's all. I figured I'd get myself killed someday. I didn't figure on imagining giant snakes and dragons in the process."

/ You are not imagining it... /

"Yeah... I know, buddy," Keith agreed wearily. His entire body was literally burning up in pain. He'd always considered himself tough, not without due cause. But he never would have thought himself able to bear what he was feeling now. "Real bummer that you ain't gonna get a chance to develop a sense of humor, you know?"

"Are you sure we're headed in the right direction?"

Randi shrugged. "We're headed in the right general direction. You can't just walk in a straight line with these caves, you know. And I haven't seen any trace of him since the last time he used magic."

"So we're lost," she interpreted.

"Think of it as traveling on instinct."

"I thought so. We're lost."

Keith lowered his outstretched hand as the giant snake's head exploded in a shower of debris. The action in itself was worthless, doing nothing to soothe the surges of magic beneath his skin.

"Are you... okay?" he asked the dragon behind him.

/ I am fine. You are not. /

"I'm... just fine," Keith protested, not even having much heart to lie.

/ You are not. /

"Shut up..." Keith growled. "So what if I'm dying? You tryin' to rub salt in a cut?"

/ I don't understand. /

All at once, Keith felt himself about to explode. "What I mean is, do you think I don't think about that enough already?! Geez!"

/ I'm sorry. /

Keith couldn't even reply. His outburst was causing the magic to flare up again. It was like trying to block a lava flow with his bare hands. All he was doing was hurting himself... it was getting worse and worse... A stray thought cut through the confusion like a lightning. If he lost it around here... the dragon would certainly die. That thought, and that alone gave him the willpower to force the magic into submission for the time being.

He sunk to the ground, forks of pain igniting all over his body, each one feeling like a giant barbed arrow was being pulled out of his skin. He shuddered as he fought to keep himself sane. "Frick it, man. Why can't I just die normally like everyone else does?"

/ You want to die? /

Keith ignored the irritation he was beginning to feel at the creature. "You really are... only a few days old, aren't you?"

/ I am. You do not think so. /

"Nah... I believe you. Anyone with as many questions as you has to be young. No, I don't really want to die. But I don't think you can call this living..."

/ You are alive. /

"Yeah," Keith laughed, beginning to feel giddy again. "Right. I'm alive... I'm alive..."

/ I wish I could help. /

"You got your own problems, buddy," Keith suggested wearily. "Don't go looking for anymore of ‘em."

There was a long silence before the creature replied. / But I can't do anything about my problems. /

Keith laughed. "What the heck? I guess you're right."

Silence ensued for what seemed like an eternity. Keith's head was whirled. He didn't feel right. Whatever was wrong with him was obviously beginning to affect his mind as well, and that scared him even more. His fierce pride would make him fight beyond death before giving up, but if his mind was fading, would he even be assured of that much?

Strange things were spinning through his head. Nameless and featureless images spun through his mind and a dizzying rate. Alien ideas were surfacing in his mind, especially when the magic threatened to explode out of control. Occasionally, he listened to them. But he didn't want to. Magic happened when he did. Magic that was more than anything he should have been able to do.

He could also identify what was happening in those instances. He, a child, was being given a master's weapon without being told how to use it. Eventually, he would kill himself with the weapon, he was sure. That was why he couldn't afford to let himself use magic unless absolutely necessary. Sighing, he forced himself to let the images continue to fly by, trying and failing to make sense of any of them.

/ What is wrong with you??

Keith felt himself jolted from his thoughts. "If I knew... maybe I could fix it. But I don't have a clue, buddy."

/ What does ‘buddy' mean? /

Keith stared in disbelief. "Yeah, you sure are a baby. It means... friend, okay? If you're going to sit around and watch me die, you might as well get used to the word. I use it a lot."

/ Thank-you. /

"For what?"

/ Calling me a friend. /

"Uh... right. No problem."

/ It is a good way to die, I think. /

Keith laughed, although he was quickly doubled over in pain as magic began to surge again. He cursed himself for losing control so easily. Pain was something he had almost completely mastery over, so why couldn't he control the rest of his body? Even something like laughter was dangerous now. Funny how in all his intense training, he had never thought to teach himself how to protect himself from laughter. He mentally laughed at that. His... friend... was right. There were worse ways to die than from laughing. He glanced at the dragon. "Buddy, you've been hanging around me too long, already."

He staggered to his feet, blocking out most of the pain that was caused. "Get up."

The dragon obeyed. / Why? /

Keith fought to stay conscious. "I'm going to die and I can't do anything about it. You're gonna starve to death, that's all. Some food'll fix your problem, no sweat."

/ There is no food around here. /

"Maybe we can get back to Matango," Keith replied, staggering towards the entrance. "Those wierdos are okay, I guess. Maybe they can spare some food for ya..."

/ You are getting worse. /

"I'm just... fine," Keith retorted, teeth clenched from the pain. Even he could longer repress it all. "Geez..." he gasped. "I thought... you were supposed to pass out... when it got too bad..."

/ You should rest again. /

"Don't..." Keith took a step forwards. "...think so. Get... moving. I... gonna die... you... gonna..." Keith began to stumble forwards, now using his hand to support himself. ""

Keith couldn't even summon to strength to stay upright now, as he fell forwards on the ground.

/ Don't die, / the dragon's voice pleaded in his head.

Keith smiled weakly, his vision beginning to go white from the pain. "I... not gonna die... yet. We... go... to Matango..."

/ You are too weak to make it. A monster would find you... /

"Let... them try... to... get you... I... kill them... first..."

Mercifully, Keith finally went unconscious.

"This way!" Purim hissed. "I don't know what's happening, but he's using magic again!"

Randi grabbed her arm, pulling himself ahead of her. "Stay back!"

She quickly grabbed him and returned the favor. "We discussed this already! Let me try to help him! If that doesn't work, you can try, but I'm telling you, there's only one chance of saving him! And you don't have a prayer of doing it!"

"And why not?" Randi demanded. She was going to get herself killed right here.

"Because you're a lousy actor," she informed him, beginning to sprint ahead again.

"Wha-" Randi realized that she had started running, and he didn't have a chance of catching her before she reached Keith. "You're lucky I got us this close!" he growled, realizing that it was beyond him now. Either her idea worked, or she was very likely dead. He would only make the situation worse now...

/ Wake up... /

Keith stirred, a quiet voice punching through the waves of pain.

/ Something is coming. /

That failed to register still. Keith couldn't bear to even budge. If he didn't move, the pain was only just bearable. The voices he was hearing didn't help much either...

After another eternity of pain, the voice came again. / Then I will defend you... /

Keith's eyes opened wide as things began to take focus. "Def...end...?"

/ You are my friend. We have to defend each other. /

"No..." The dragon was next to helpless. Keith staggered to his feet, his skin burning all over. He gasped, tears coming to his eyes in spite of his resolve. He had never believed such pain possible before... but he had to ignore it. Whatever was threatening would be dealt with if it was the last thing he did. And in the center of his mind, Keith realized that thought may have been truer than intended.

Somehow, he got to his feet and began to shuffle forwards, trying to get in front of his friend, so he could fight. It was a slow journey, but he refused to let his pain control him. Just a short time, he promised himself. He would be dead soon enough. He just needed to stay in control long enough to end the threat.

Purim could see the light up ahead, glowing unnaturally white. She didn't want to imagine what was in store for her, but she was as ready as she would ever be. Randi was behind her, but she could hear his slow footsteps. He wasn't going to interfere yet. She breathed a prayer of thanks for that small mercy. This was going to be hard enough as it was. Already, she could see massive amounts of magic building up in a small area. Keith might have already decided she was a threat. Before, that had been a problem. Now, she thought she might be able to get past the difficulty. Long enough to execute her plan, anyway.

She came around the corner, even as a voice yelled a battle-cry. She watched magic flare up before her eyes, no doubt aiming right for her.

Keith grabbed one of the images in front of him. He needed something strong. Strong enough to deal with the threat in one shot. One of the images seemed to stand out as being particularly attractive. It was guaranteed to do the job on the first try, he knew.

From that point on, it was simple. The knowledge was all there for him to use. All he simply did was will the action to happen. In his hands, he willed fire to gather, to come together with an intensity that would not only vaporize the threat, but also vaporize a mile's worth of rock behind her. He focused the spell slightly upwards. With luck, it would break through to the surface. Then his friend might be able to escape the caves and reach somewhere where it could survive. He would do everything in his power to settle matters before he died. Somehow, that knowledge gave him the most comfort he'd ever gotten since this disaster had started...

Purim tried to see what type of magic was being used, but she couldn't identify it. She'd never seen anything like it before... what was Keith doing? With a yell, Keith's hand shot out towards her. She gulped. She had failed. Her entire plan had counted on her being able to control the type of magic Keith was using, but she had failed. In the blink of an eye she would be dead...

She waited. And waited. Until she realized that nothing had happened. She stared in disbelief. Keith's spell had fizzled out into nothing. She felt hope returning to her.

Stupid... Keith cursed to himself. You don't control Fire magic. Use something that you do control. Like Wind magic...

It took but a fraction of an instant to choose another piece of knowledge from his jumble of thoughts. This one was based on Wind Mana, which he did know. No mistakes this time.

Purim's eyes opened wide, even as she saw the unholy amount of Wind Mana gathering around the sprite. Charging forwards, she silently summoned every ounce of strength she possessed into a single effort. This had to work... it had to work... for both their sakes...

With another yell, Keith released the spell. This time something happened. Huge bolts of lightning leapt forwards, electrifying the very air around them, all focused perfectly on Purim.

With a shudder that shook the very earth beneath everyone, the lightning rippled into her body without effect. It was working... It wasn't easy, but it was working. She was changing the Wind-based lightning, using it to make herself faster. She just had to hope that she could maintain this and do something else... resolutely, she pushed forwards towards her attacker.

Keith was in a state of disbelief. It wasn't possible that she was doing what she was doing... in fact, the only possible explanation was that she...

Suddenly, she had reached him. She was enfolding him...

"Thank goodness you're safe!" her heard her sob.

The world seemed to go fuzzy in his mind. Something was wrong...

"I've been worried sick about you, love! I'm so glad you're alive!"

Something was going very wrong, Keith realized. All his images were disappearing, along with his magic... how was he supposed to hurt her? Gritting his teeth, he managed to maneuver his one arm into a position to use his long claws on her.

"... I was searching for days for you and I'd almost given up hope of finding you alive and I couldn't think of anything else except you and how everyone missed you so much and how your friends back home were missing you and searching for you and wanting you to come home alive but didn't know if you were even alive and they were so worried and wanting to know if you were okay!"

"Wha-" Keith's mind was a complete blur, his attempt to use his claws now forgotten. He hadn't thought it was possible to become any more confused, but it was happening. "What's going on?" he managed to squeak out. "Who are you?"

His opponent backed off minute, looking dismayed. "B-but... how can you say that? You can't have forgotten about me! I've been searching for so long..." She began to tremble slightly, tears beginning to appear in her eyes as she came close again. "Don't you worry one bit, my love. I'll make sure you're safe!" Without any warning, she planted a kiss on his cheek.

Keith felt like his head was going to explode. "I-I don't understand..." he managed to stammer. He didn't. Who was this person? She seemed concerned about him.... how could he have forgotten someone who was this concerned about him? Everything was happening too quickly. He could feel himself beginning to get light-headed. The strange images of before were being replaced by newer ones, that made even less sense. The strange surges of power were fading away, leaving him empty of power.

"What's wrong?" she asked worriedly. "Ah! What's wrong?" she cried out, sounding panicked, grabbing him by the shoulders frantically. She looked into his face. "What's wrong! I don't understand!"

"This... make no sense..." was the last thing Keith said before he keeled over backwards, dead to the world. He would sort everything out when he woke up.

Purim backed up a step and grinned. "Got him!!!"

previous chapter next chapter author's index main index