“It can float over the water too?” Lucci declared with amazement as the Current Skipper cruised its way through the ocean waves, towards the dark structure in the middle of the bay.
“Of course it can!” Master NaDo proclaimed cheerfully. “A ship isn’t a real ship if it can’t take the water as well as the sky.”
For a moment, their passage over the ocean’s surface was enough to take Lucci’s mind off of exactly what they were approaching. But the closer they came, the larger the obelisk loomed in his vision. It wasn’t long before he could make out the etchings and patterns along the face of the stone – they were identical to the etching on the stone floor back in the sand plaza.
The whispers in his mind had returned again and seemed to be growing louder the closer they came to the obelisk. Lucci did his best to push the sound out of his thoughts. But it was hard. And just as afraid as he was of the strange visions they had given him… he was curious, too. Afterall, the whispers had helped him to raise the obelisk from the waters. So it didn’t appear that they were trying to keep him from going inside.
Master NaDo piloted the ship forward, unaware of all that was passing through the youth’s mind. He gave a concerned look every now and then. He did not appear too fond of the idea of going inside of the waiting obelisk, despite his proclaimed sense of adventure for the sake of science. But when the time came to disembark, they found out very quickly that it wasn’t going to be an issue.
Lucci slipped down the ramp and took a quick leap from the ship to the slick stone steps. He turned around to reach his hands out and help Master NaDo to follow. But the moment the winged man made a move forward, wavery blue energy drew up around the obelisk, repelling him.
Lucci sucked a breath in.
Master NaDo frowned and tried to step forward again. Again, he was firmly pushed back. “I can’t..?”
“What do you mean?” the youth exclaimed, a jolt of apprehension rushing through his body.
“I can’t come closer,” the winged man put his hand out for demonstration. Again, he was pushed back.
Lucci was almost in tears at this point, shivering all over, “But, I can’t go in there alone!”
For a long moment, the two just looked at each other, locked on either side of a barrier that they could not see.
“Listen to me…” Master NaDo’s voice was level and quiet when he spoke again. “I don’t know or understand everything that is happening here. And I know it’s scary. But you were led here for a reason, Lucci. You were given a vision and so far all of the things we have done have opened the pathway to this place. Remember why you came here to begin with. You must always follow through with the things you start.”
Lucci swallowed, looking up into the serious face of the winged man… the man he had grown to admire so much in so short of a time. A man who truly cared about him, despite all that he knew. And the man, along with his family, that had given him a place to stay… a home… that would be hurt if Zeromus were to have his way.
Silver eyes searched green eyes for a long time. And though fear still shook his hands and made his knees weak, Lucci nodded slowly. “Okay…”
This is what I have to do. This is what I came for. Master NaDo is right… I have to follow through.
“Thatta boy,” Master NaDo smile gently. Then he reached out to clasp Lucci’s shoulder. “Be careful. I’ll be right here when you get back.”
“Thank you for everything, Master NaDo,” the youth forced a smile. He didn’t mean for it to sound so final. But it did.
The winged man leaned back in his casual way, a soft grin on his face, “You’re always welcome, Lucci. Now, get in there. I know you can do this.”
The youth took a deep breath before forcing himself to turn and face the great maw of the obelisk. One foot in front of the other, he began to make his way into the great stone structure. At first, he was afraid that there wouldn’t be enough light to see by. But then he realized that there were many small windows lining the inner walls to allow the sunlight to filter through. Where windows did not reach, bunches of frondy sea plants had attached themselves to the floor, giving off a quiet orange glow.
Lucci’s feet sunk and squelched as he walked. The floor was covered with layers of dark sand and shells. Every now and then, there was a pool of sea water that had remained captured in dips and indentations in the stone. Here and there, dark things squirmed and reeled about – bottom dwelling creatures – frantic that their once safe haven of darkness had risen up above the ocean floor into the light.
The youth didn’t know exactly what he was trying to find, his mind focused ahead of him, listening to the ebb and flow of the whispers that echoed throughout the halls. They weren’t directing him to any one place, so all he could to was to keep moving, trying to find their origins.
Lucci began to climb up a slick-stepped, curved stairwell that led him around and around the rim of the interior wall. It was a long, long ascent, he soon discovered. One glance over the edge told him that to go back down would take just as much time as to continue upwards. And whatever might be at the top was probably of more interest than the slodgy floor level that he left below.
As he made his way up the stairs, he noticed that the structure of the stone along the wall had started to change. First, it faded in color from the golden-sandstone to a soft, grey-white pearl coating. As Lucci watched, he began to discover the first faint signs of script… and more excitingly, pictures. His silver eyes grew wide, focused upon the walls, where vibrant murals of glittering colors rose from the curve of the stairway on every side.
Lucci didn’t understand everything he saw there. But he knew that it was beautiful and sad at the same time. It was a story by those who had once lived in that land. Those who had lived under the protection of the Vision Stone and the obelisk. Those who had been destroyed in the cataclysm that had sundered the earth.
Just like in my vision.
There were pictures that depicted the stars — many, many lights that twinkled and glowed against the dark reaches of the spinning skies. He could feel a mystic and alien power from the larger lights as they swirled through the reaches of space. Some of the lights were shown embracing smaller spheres among the stars – Living Planets.
Lucci had never seen a picture of a whole planet before. And he didn’t know how he knew what it was. But he just did.
There were also pictures of Dragons. But these Dragons were different from the ones that he had met on the Islands – those had been Lord Zemi’s servants. They were different even than Lord Zemi himself.
Some of the Dragons looked large and cruel. The murals depicted them with maws opened wide, teeth glittering, about to devour the shimmering lights that came from the sky. Some of the Dragons seemed to reflect with a brilliant inner light. They were shown with wings stretched wide as if to protect the shimmering lights.
The youth didn’t understand what the pictures were trying to say. He had never seen any of the Dragons act in such a way. They certainly didn’t go around eating lights from the sky or fighting with other Dragons. But he didn’t have much more time to ponder the strange images as he found himself standing at the top of the stairway, peering into a tall hall of arched doorways.
Is this it?
Lucci’s breath caught in his throat, shivering from the chill wind that howled down the length of the corridor. The stone here had been coated a slick black color. Despite having been under the water for so long, it still had a sheen so bright that it reflected the hazy shape of his image.
I think it must be.
The whispers were no longer whispers here, but full voices, all layered upon one another. Some seemed to be arguing. Some seemed to be weeping. Others were crying out, as if looking for someone dear to them that was lost. Lucci instantly clamped his hands to his ears, trying to shut out the sound. But it was in his mind. Not in the air. And the only thing that he could do was move forward.
I have to… finish what I started…
The air was thick and cold. It became harder and harder for him to keep moving. Lucci forced his eyes straight ahead. He had made the mistake of glancing aside once, only to see the image of other people reflected there in the black stone. People that he couldn’t see or feel in the hall. But they were there, watching him with burning white eyes from the walls.
Lucci realized that he had reached a closed door at the end of the hall. He studied it for a moment, noticing that it neither had a handle or hinges like doors usually do. Then, he reached out his hand and placed one palm against the door.
The stone rewarded him with a groan, a silvery light outlining the shape of Lucci’s hand in response to his touch. Surprised, he almost pulled back. But the light was fascinating as it spread across the door in all directions. Before he knew it, there was no longer a door there. Simply a blinding white light.
Lucci instantly threw up his hands to shade his eyes. Though the light did not hurt, it was such a stunning contrast to the dark hall that he had to stand there a moment before his eyes could adjust and pick out shapes in the waiting room.
What is this place…?
An ancient, sacred power thrummed like a tired heartbeat through the stone. The room itself felt alive with its own breath, mind and awareness – as if everything the nameless whispers had once been had all been drawn from them into this one point of existence. The moment Lucci stepped into the room, he felt the power drawn to him, swelling in a massive force that pounded through his skull. As he reached his hands out, he could see that his own form was taking on the silver-white glow of the room.
But any thought of consternation was wiped away. The power filled him to overflowing from the inside out. Lucci knew that what was left of the whispering people was being drawn to him. Absorbed. Just like the spirit of the Cyngan soldier had been that day, back on the Island. It had left Lucci forever changed, locked in a battle for his freedom from the grips of the spirit world.
“No! NO!!” his agonized howl went unheard.
Lucci clutched his head, crumpling back against the wall. There was no one there to save him, not like there had been before. Everyone was far away. So far away.
And all the things that they told him that he would become flashed through his mind. As the ghostly light surrounded him, he felt himself teetering, fighting against that which was foretold. Fighting to hold on to himself… to the person that he had just lately become. The happy youth that had spent time with the Tu Family. With people who truly cared for him.
I can’t… become the Bane! I can’t become the thing that destroys them! Please!!
The light in the room had gradually fallen dimmer as the light within Lucci had grown. Something about him had grown with it, leaving him transformed. Even as he caught the sight of himself within the mirrored walls, he could hardly recognize himself. Lucci’s reflection was no longer that of the gangly youth… but now a young man… tall and strong built with long, streaming silver hair. Along his jawline he could see a faint outline of silvery markings that had never been there before.
Somehow he knew they were the Mark of the Sygnus.
The light behind his eyes burned eerie and cold, like spiritlight. Faintly, these eyes could make out the trails of silver mists that had begun to seep out around him once again. Faintly he could feel the distant gaze of Those who watched as They returned to him. But this time, They returned with the sense of submission, as a servant would return to a Master.
The quiet, child-part of him recoiled from all of this in mute shock and horror. But the spiritlight behind his eyes drew his gaze to something else that was reflected there upon the walls. He could make out the shape of something suspended within a shaft of light, there in the center of the room…
It was a sword. A very long, slender blade, sheathed in a cloth so black that it seemed to drink away the light. The hilt was glowing silver, ornately inlayed with glittery black patterns that gracefully drew down the length of the grip. As his mind focused on the sword, he felt both great hope and dread fill him.
Is this it? Is this what I’ve been looking for? The weapon that can destroy Zeromus?
Lucci paused, feeling a trickle of alarm. He had never thought about destroying anything in his life.
I mean… defeat. Not… destroy. Defeat.
The silver mists boiled through the room, rising up around the shaft of light. He found himself mesmerized, unable to do anything but move towards the blade.
The sword of the Sygni… from the Time Before.
His hand reached for it. He discovered his palm was now broad enough to grip a sword of this size without any trouble.
If I bring this back… I could become a hero? I could protect Ceiswyr? Then maybe…
Lucci’s fingers closed around the grip, a spark of silver light flowing between his fingers and the sword.
…people… will like me…
Power. Unbearable pain and power.
As his fist closed around the hilt, Lucci could feel the meshing between himself and the artifact. Two cold energies that were drawn to each other, flowing through him, binding him. Empowering him with knowledge and skill of those that had gripped the blade before he did.
Images flashed before his eyes. Memories. He could see it all. He could feel it all. The lives of those who had come and passed. Those who had lived in that place in a time before time remembered. And the lives of those that the blade had taken.
A flash of another vision. Lucci watched as his hand began to draw the blade free from the scabbard. The hand did not look like his own. The black-silver blade glittered with malice… as it came free, he could see that it was stained with blood.
He stared down at the length of the sword, numb with power. Numb with the sheer amount of emotion. Numb with memory over memory over memory drowning out his own vision.
“Lucci!!” a voice shouted his name. A familiar voice, rising from the Mists.
The sound, so unexpected, pulled him back from the brink. Fighting for his senses, he tightened his grip on the blade, as if holding it within his fist would give him mastery over it. Silver eyes flicked upwards. His mouth opened, his voice different, deeper than before. “Kaz? Is that you?”
A pale form stumbled out of the Mists, a form attached to his friend’s voice. As if having gained shape as Lucci had gained power, Kaz was no longer a simple outline of light. A man stood there. A man with bright eyes and a somewhat disheveled look – as if his pale hair hadn’t been brushed in far too long and he needed a good shave.
The spirit’s face was one of astonishment as he stared, seeming to be questioning if this was really the youth he once knew. “Lucci-boy?”
Everything else fell away as a rush of joy filled him. “Kaz! I thought I’d never see you again!”
Kaz quickly shook his head to clear it. His face was serious and concerned as he walked forward with an intense step, “No time! We’ve gotta go! There’s trouble!”
“Trouble?” Lucci echoed.
“For your friend outside!” Kaz’s hand snagged the edge of Lucci’s sleeve. It was far more solid a grip than he could have imagined it to be… and it looked to be growing more solid the longer he stood near to the young Sygnus.
In answer to all of his questions, a blood-freezing shriek echoed from outside the corridors of the obelisk. Lucci had heard that sound before. It was impossible to forget.
“Esgyll!?” his silver eyes widened with horrible realization. “No! Master NaDo!”