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Remembered Eternity, ch. 37 (inc)Upon a Star: Remembered Eternity (incomplete)Chapter 37by Yurixthewanderer and theunholyborn------------------------------------------------------Karyana tried her hardest to keep a distance between herself and her opponents while limiting her movements. Fighting with only a few hours of rest and a mouthful of water in her stomach against Melody who seemed well-rested but inexperienced in combat and a mind-numbed Xelnos whose movements were stiff and lacked strength was far from advantageous.In truth, Karyana was on the backfoot. Not only was she fighting two opponents in close-range combat who used different styles and weapons, but she did not want to harm either of them. If what she learned with her time with Sophia and the vision she had after leaving the Crystal Rose were true, then this fight was one to incapacitate them. Killing them was not an option.A wide axe swing stopped by Azuria's sword brought her back to focus. While Onyx's armor was likely durable enough to block a few strikes, the previous blow - where Xelnos had wedged his axe in a nearby wagon - made it clear that the weapon was blunt. The wooden structure had been smashed in, rather than chopped. This meant that Xelnos was not applying much speed to his blows, but the command to kill forced his body to strike with every ounce of strength it possessed.Kaina's sword in Melody's hands was hard to block. Magical flames - even when taking the shape of a blade - had no actual structure. This meant that Melody was striking with too much force for such a light weapon, but the damage was still visible. Sand had turned to glass when the blade connected with the ground, and the same wagon that had caused Xelnos to pause burst into flames the moment she struck.Karyana's other issue was that the armor did little to protect the Soul Gem on her chest. If Melody thrust the blade through it, the metal would melt before the sword could connect with the Gem. Molten metal and flames would be devastating, whether she was alive or not.Lastly, being forced to fight in close quarters meant that spells needed to done without incantations and the least amount of gestures possible. She could raise crude barriers to deflect a blow, but they only resisted one or two strikes at best before shattering. Quick bursts of mana to strike at nerves or joints to slow her opponents were the best option, but that would mean actually touching her foes."What's the matter?" Melody said provocatively, her stance mimicking Kaina's to the smallest detail. "I thought you said you knew your little sister's every trick. Don't tell me you're scared?"Scared was the wrong word; Karyana was actually terrified. Knowing that she was already too late to save several of her comrades, her entire family and even the town she spent her first years in made her afraid of the possible repercussions of failure. Too much rested on her shoulders. If she could not save Lady Xera, how could she free Josephine and all of Gon'an? How could she stop Merit and overthrow the forces that decimated the Emerald Sea?The blunt end of Xelnos' axe connected with her torso, forcing her back. It was strange enough that she could feel her heart beat, even after Onyx confirmed that it did not. Even with the crushing amount of stress she was under, her pulse did not quicken. Her mind was sharp enough to block an incoming axe chop with her sword and deflect the weapon before giving the young man a solid backhand to make him reel.A punch to the jaw would normally cause her joints to ache, but no pain was registered. Did Sophia merging with her cause this? She did remember that at the edge of the Cycle, Roger and Mark were watching over an oversized heart. Was it the reason she felt a faint pulse? Could her life be linked to it... or was it actually her own heart?The smell of burnt cloth filled the air as Karyana barely dodged an incoming swipe from her right as Melody's thrust narrowly missed. Between Xelnos, Melody and herself, there was hardly enough space to bring a wood-chopper's axe or a bastard sword. This led to the sudden realization that not only did Melody's attack failed, the magical edge had set Xelnos' clothes ablaze.Rather than kick Melody back, Karyana dove onto Xelnos, knocking him over. The two tumbled on the stony pavement for a few seconds, allowing Karyana to distance herself and find her footing. On the ground, the still mind-numbed Xelnos tried to get up, too focused on Melody's order to register that his clothes were burning off his body, leaving charred skin exposed as the fire began to engulf the shaft of the young man's axe.Karyana raced towards the nearest well and reached for the bucket, hoping to extinguish the flames that were devouring Xelnos, only to feel an intense burning sensation strike at her legs. The wince of pain was as painful as the irony of the situation - she had been dealt the very same attack that Kaina used to incapacitate Lyzar during the Battle of Twelve Blades. Dropping to her knees, she lifted her blade up just in time to stop an incoming downward slash."I told you, Kary. The world would have been better off without you!" Melody sneered, her eyes filled with killing intent."He's your son, Mel!" Karyana let out, a quick tilt of her head to show Xelnos who was unable to stay on his feet, the flames having burnt his skin, hair and clothes to near-fatal levels. "Why do this to him?"Melody's only answer was a scoff. "He was never my son!" she let out before taking a quick step back, getting ready to plunge the blade into Karyana's head... only for her to pull back and let go of her weapon, a skull-shattering throb in her mind forcing her back."I won't let you..." Kaina's mild-yet-determined voice squeaked from Melody's lips as she struggled to take control. "...Sisters shouldn't hurt each other!""Shut the hell up!" Melody let out as she struggled to hold on to power. "You're just a voice in my head! You're nothing without me!"Karyana winced as she realized what she had to do. Clencing a fist and taking a long breath, she painfully got up - her calves burning from the flames' heat - and landed a blow just below the ribcage with enough upward thrust to knock the air out of Melody's lungs. "I'm sorry..." was all she could say as she fell back to her knees, unable to stand.Crawling on all fours towards Xelnos, her sword left halfway between him and Melody, she saw the last of the flames dissipate as there was no fabric nor hair left to burn. "Xelnos! Are you..." was all she could bring herself to say before noticing that the chain that held the Rapture Sphere had broken off from the heat, the stone lying on the ground next to what remained of the axe.Xelnos wheezed in pain, a hand slowly rising off the ground. "Hard... to breathe..." he whispered as Karyana grabbed his hand with hers. "heh... to live in the Underdeep... only... to burn..."Karyana placed a hand against his chest. "Let me-""Can't..." he coughed, the light in his eyes starting to fade. "I knew you'd be... the death of... me... Maybe if... if I hadn't failed to save you... none of... this..."Clutching the former Planar's hand, she felt his grip loosen. "Alex..." she whispered as she placed his hand against the Soul Gem on her chest."Tch..." Melody's voice echoed from behind as she picked up Azuria's sword. "Nothing but a means to an end... I almost killed you back at the Final Plains... but you don't have anyone to back you this time!" The moment Azuria's sword was lifted off the ground, the barnacles exploded into pebble-like shrapnel, breaking Melody's glasses and forcing her to drop the weapon. "What the hell?!?" she yelled, forced to discard her lenses and remove her vest, the sandy shrapnel making her hand bleed."You took the life of our Creator, you witch!" Azuria's voice boomed as she swooped down from above, catching Melody in a torrent of scalding water emitted from the dragon's mouth. "I should drown you here and now!""Don't!" Karyana shouted, tears in her eyes. "I need her alive... Just... restrain her."Focusing on Xelnos, Karyana felt for his pulse, finding it barely palpable. As much as she wished this to end, his last words were clear: he had tried and failed to save his mother. This was the true meaning of the chain of strife, she realized. One death leading to an entire world's torment. Hers.A tear turned to steam against Xelnos' arm as Karyana remembered the incantation. "Innocent child..." she began, only to hesitate. Never had she used Second Genesis to bring life back to the dead, and she feared that the backlash would - as Leara warned her - take her life.But it no longer mattered. If Onyx was correct and she had little life left, she would give it all away to make things right. Xelnos needed more than a second chance. "Oremus... oremus..." she began.----