Sun sets as Hiero and friends travel back to the beach. Darkness seeps in and the island is enveloped by nightfall upon their arrival at the beach. The glowing gold aura that surrounds Hiero, Ian, and Frost began to make itself more apparent with the lack of light.
Hiero looks around the coastline. He notices Numen is still laid out on the ground, Taura and Phantom can be seen at a distance. The flame made by Numen when the heroes were given their briefing was still active, although very weak at this point.
Hiero walks over to Phantom and Taura. "Well, I'm not dead. Neither are those two." He points back to Frost and Ian. "I was never wrong, there was no doubt in our success. Where's your end of the bargain?"
As Hiero comes into close proximity of the girls the gold aura spreads to them as well, giving them both a rush of energy and a matching golden aura.
Phantom blinks at the sudden aura, confused. She shakes her head.
"The hell was that?" She asks as she gets up from her previous sitting position. Dusting the sand off of her, she shows them the large quantity of food they were able to collect, all sitting in a nest of leaves that was likely the work of Taura.
"We ran into two of the...others we have to kill. A dying god and a freakish lizard that controls fire and worships Malwrath." She adds, looking over at the squirrel, who was also now glowing.
With the coming of night, Taura has rid herself of her parasol. However, her form has once again been shrouded in her illusion. She seems slightly distracted in her thoughts when Hiero interrupts her.
"Of course you made it back. If the three of you weren't competent enough to handle one man, the Monk wouldn't have bothered summoning you. Still, there's always next time. Meanwhile, as Phantom has said, we had to deal with our own problems, though it didn't seem as if they were working together."
The vampire shows Phantom a look of irritation when she starts to glow as well.
Frost was contemplating the events from earlier when the three started talking. This sudden feeling of overwhelming power didn't settle well with the wolf. Yes, it was nice feeling he could take down an army single-handedly, but something felt. . . off. Like such positive feeling would soon be taken away and replaced by unbearable torment. Hearing Phantom refer to one of the other targets as a 'dying god' only furthered his concerns. If Greigor was warped into a hideous being, and a so-called 'god' was now dying, what would happen to this group? They're searching after the same thing the previous one was. If they aren't careful, Frost and his allies will likely fall into the same fate.
"At least you two are in one piece." Frost says. Seeing Taura also reminded him that he needs to ask her more information regarding her ability to "reanimate" the dead. Though, that would have to wait. "Did either of them say anything worth noting?" he asks the mink. Being subtle about it, he then tilts his head towards the unconscious Numen. "Particularly about him?"
She had been reflecting on Xulu's words when she and Taura settled back down at their meeting place. The mink doubted that anyone could blame her for being suspicious, though after speaking and meeting with a few of the group members from before, she was definitely on edge.
"He called the guy a parasite, said that he...revived him, and that he wanted to know if me and her--" she gestures at Taura. "Were aligned aligned with him or Malwrath. He didn't specify, but he mentioned that he needed to know so we could avoid...potential death." She makes a face. She didn't like how vague everything was.
"As for the fire bender, well, she did nothing but spout nonsense, something along the lines of Malwrath and her former group. If anything, she and the god were fighting, and he broke her leg." She shrugs, her arms crossed. "She might still be weak now. She used a type of fire composed of chemicals as opposed to the usual thing"
Ian made his way over to the monk first. Seeing the injured, the instincts hammered into him from his work as a priest went into play. Shrouding the monk in a healing veil of water, he attempted to rejuvinate him, though it was likely to little effect. Even if no healing was done, either the golden energy or the water being placed on him might wake Numen up. Either way, Ian was fine with it.
Hiero listens to Phantom's story about a befallen god and a tyrant lizard. His face expresses a look of perplexion. He places a hand on his chin, pondering about the situation they were placed in.
"You two did good work.. What shocks me about what both of you are saying is that the desert mink said something akin to a battle of gods. I rushed into killing him as adrenaline was high and he was preparing an attack." Hiero looks at all of his allies and notices the odd glow.
"Please tell me.. We aren't going to become like them.. Numen can't possibly send us on a suicide mission like this, it just doesn't make sense for all of us to enter the same state as the others. We have to be on our toes." Hiero then turns his attention to Ian which is trying to wake the monk.
As Ian washes over the Monk, his golden aura fades and travels into Numen. The same thing happens to the remaining heroes causing that energized effect to leave their bodies. The monk now floats, pushing Ian off via an energy wave, whether it was intentional or not wasn't important. Numen has a huge glowing effect now surrounding his body. Skin and flesh had been developing on the monumental monk. He had begun growing a body that seemed like a galactic panther, his body can be described as peering into space itself as it reflected that of peering into distant stars.
Numen then lands on his feet, his eyes open, revealing his same old glowing white pupils. "You all have gotten the job done, very well." Numen claps looking at the heroes with a small smile. "I can tell you brought back a shard of spirits, I feel Greigor's soul in this one.. It speaks a tale of agony.."
Hiero doesn't know whether to be angry at the now concious monk or simply quit with everything that's been told to him. His fist is clenched but his expression reads that he will do something else rather than punch Numen, more so that he is confused.
"Good for you, or maybe not so good for you; I doubt we care either way. Regardless, we have some things to discuss with you, like your old friend Xulu. Phantom and I got acquainted him while you were taking a nap, and he had some very interesting things to say about you in between his threats to kill me, which I've noticed seems to be a theme around here," Taura says, a smug look on her face as she speaks the last part; yet another reaffirmation of how dangerous she is.
"He told us that you sent your previous underlings on a suicide mission, which makes me wonder if we've been tasked with one ourselves without realizing it. I never agreed to die for your cause, so I hope you'll be honest with me for once and tell us if we can expect to end up like them."
Taura was reminded of her fears that Numen would not uphold his end of the bargain and destroy her at the end of the mission. "What did you promise those beforehand to convince them to risk their own lives? I'm sure they must really hate you knowing that not only were they doomed to fail, but now you're sending more people to repay their services by killing them."
Numen chuckles as he sits on the sandy beach, crossing his legs.
"What I noticed is that I bequeath this group the opportunity, as I did the previous, to save this world. Your suspicions of my character are nothing that I care about any more. Those that cross my path and diverge from my light have all suffered the same fate. Look at their group, shattered and torn from personal hatred. They don't even work in unison. You are foolish to even question my will, knowing that destroying them directly benefits you." Numen says with a smug tone, it was weird of the monk to speak so emotionally.
"Xulu does not answer to anyone but himself. He's a stubborn befallen avian whom I cursed with a shortened life as he deserves nothing less. He is a complete failure who tore his team apart to suit his ambitions and became destined with death. To listen to Xulu would be to listen to a delusional fool with visions of grandeur. Do not listen to Xulu, he will only lead you to a well burried grave, especially once he catches exactly what you are Taura. I'm surprised you survived an encounter with him, there must be good reason you still walk.." Numen says pointing at Taura.
The monk's expression changes now as the light surrounding his eyes dims, frustration could be seen in Numen's face.
"I'm tired of this ungrateful pack of savages that I tasked with ensuring this world a second chance. I did not, I repeat did not kill off or sent the other group on a suicide mission. It became that way once Moya let her suspicions of my character get out of hand and summoned Malwrath with the help of Faras.. It's thanks to them why the other group failed and why Malwrath is closing the gap between slumber and entering the world to destroy it. All of you are worried about my intentions, but I simply serve you. You should not be worried about me when you have a pestering parasite in your group right now, itching to pull the trigger of darkness and send all of you toward corruption. Am I right, Taura?" Numen says with a cocky smile as he places his hands by his chin.
Hiero now stares at Taura and unsheathes his sword. He glances at Numen as well who watches him carefully.
"I'll put you down, Taura. We will not dare have a backstabber on this group! I know you to be a worshipper of Malwrath, damn it I can smell your vileness from the moment I've come to this island! I don't care if this is a suicide quest, I will not become like those before us." He says as he points his sword at the squirrel.
Numen holds his hand in the way of Hiero, to block him from attacking her. "You've no need to do that. She is still a comrade, killing her would not suit anyone's ends." Numen whispers to Hiero causing the hawk to sheathe his sword again, albeit reluctantly.
Taura's face remains unreadable to the group, even to Phantom, who can only see her blankly stare at Hiero and the Monk. She doesn't seem too bothered by this accusation; suspicion towards her is only natural when her entire being has been tainted by darkness.
"I hope for your sake that the next time you draw your blade, you intend to use it, Blood Feathers. I am a worshiper of no one. I already told you all that I merely came here because I was promised something by the Monk. I don't know Malwrath, or anything about him aside from what we both have been told; the threat was a mere means of ascertaining whether the Monk would make good on his words. It was nothing more than a bluff.
"If you want to blame someone for my being here, then you're squawking at the wrong person. I know not why the Monk needed me in particular, I'm sure there were a countless number of just-as-suitable candidates. Perhaps time or lack of energy robbed him of the choice, or perhaps he finds me and my affinity for darkness to be a suitable combatant against Malwrath. No matter the reason, he had to choose me, and I capitalized on the opportunity. Say I'm greedy if you want, but I have always been upfront with my intentions to you, and I always keep my word when I make a deal.
"If the Monk has no intention of giving me the same courtesy, then I will calmly leave and you can all deal with the situation yourself. I have nothing at stake and nothing left to lose, so if the world ends because I let it happen then I accept that fate. If he refuses, though, then I leave that to you as proof that he cannot be trusted; that he will promise you anything but not keep his own end of the bargain."
Hiero carried an enraged expression on his face, but knew that entering combat over something so petty was pointless.
The monk creates a small orb with his hands as he concentrates the power of the shard of Spirits. Keeping up with his promise, he seeks to give the heroes armor and weapons more suited to amp their abilities in battle.
"At the request of everyone, including you Taura. The shard has granted me abilities to make your group finer craft and armor. At your request, I am here to assist. Merely just hand me your preexisting weapons and armor and I'll work with them. Greigor's soul offers powers of enhanced defense and opposition." The monk's power orb breaks into a ray of light affecting all heroes surrounding him.
The heroes would feel a jump in their endurance and will feel slightly stronger, much more capable to do things, the ray would also effectively heal them of any injuries or pain.
"I will not let you rot to Malwrath.." The monk says somberly.
With the rush of energy and strength Hiero instantly feels rejuvinated with no pain across his body from their previous battle with Greigor. Hiero looks toward his team briefly before placing his sword and daggers into the hands of Numen. Numen alters and embeds his sword with lava edges, sharpens the blade, and makes the hilt sturdier. The sword feels lighter, yet stronger than it's ever been before. As for Hiero's daggers, they were altered into curved shotels, sharpened and ready for combat. He then blesses the hawk with stronger shoulder blades, knee guards, combat leggings, and a reinforced vest.
Decked out with new armor and weapons, Hiero spins his sword into a new sheathe on his back.
Numen then stares at the other heroes, with open hands and a ray of light surrounding him.
Phantom hesitates, not comfortable with handing over her weapons, but after seeing Hiero take the initiative and what he resulted with, she gives him her glaive. As soon as the monk takes it he gives it a second blade at the end and sharpens them, he hands it back to her, not doing much else. Instead he creates and gives her a second item.
"...a fan?" She stares.
"Two of them, actually." He shows her the one hidden beneath the other. Slowly she accepts them, examining the construction. Quickly she discovers the bladed guards, and the sharp edge the leaf the piece possessed. However, it was a weapon she's never used before, it'll take some training for her to get used to.
"The hell is this made of?" While the guard looked like it was made of any other metal that was typically used in weaponry, she didn't recognize the material the leaf whatsoever. It was flexible enough to fold like a regular fan, similar to paper or cloth, yet stiff and durable enough to even, dare she say, withstand certain attacks. To top it off, it could be sharpened to a fine edge. Does something like this even exist on Azima?
The monk merely gives her an empty yet knowing look, one that told her that her question wouldn't be answered. "This may act as your shield some day. I see you have no want for armor."
She would've been surprised if she wasn't already aware that he knew her and the rest of the group a little too well. "It's a drag to wear." She replies.
At her words her belt is given sheaths to carry the war fans. "This will be all I will give you, then." He says.
Ian had landed awkwardly on his head from being launched and just now woke up. He rubbed his injured head, slowly healing it as he sat up. He found a more fitting set of clothes and a higher quality knife than the one he had been carrying. The fish sighed and took them
For a brief moment, the young fish looked at his armor and weapons and shook his head.
"I can't do this. I can't follow a false hearing from my prophet. Numen, I can tell you lied to me. I want off this island." The fish says sternly.
Numen would look at Ian with a look of anxiety. The monk would later nod and snap his fingers creating a small portal for Ian.
The fish would walk into the portal, but before doing so casts a blessing to the other heroes that would revitalize them with health.
Numen closes his eyes and then opens them, lifting a hand up and pointing at Frost now. He gestures to the burdened wolf that it is his time to receive an upgrade if he chooses so.
"I can tell you're suspicious of me, Frost. I can see it in your eyes, you don't trust me. What you fail to realize is that I am not here to antagonize you, let alone send several people off to their own death with no prior reason for doing so. The others failed and I need all of you to carry this quest on putting Malwrath away. Notice that if I wanted you dead, I would've done so long ago. I would never let harm come to those who step the right path." Numen says in an emotionless tone. Despite his previous behaviors and gestures, one could easily tell the monk was being at least genuine with the truth.
Reluctantly, the wolf removes his weapons and hands them to Numen. "Trust isn't something I hand out freely." Frost says dryly. "And given how much you know about each of us, I suspect you know why." He then takes a step back to let Numen do his work.
Numen takes Frost's weapons and walks over to Frost. A ray of light consumes his pistols, after some time the monk would place two wrist cannons on Frosts wrists.
"Try them; they are shotguns. The spread is powerful but the recoil will not blow your hand off. It is intended for close range combat, use it if you are cornered." The monk then alters Frost's rifle to become a machete blade mounted bayonet. The monk would also create piercing rounds for Frost.
"I cannot ease your suspicions, but I assure you I'm not here to cross you either." The monk then bows before Frost.
The wolf examines his wrists, closely studying his new weapons. There wasn't anything like this back home, not even in development. After all, a wrist mounted shotgun would be impractical in theory, and more of a threat to the user than the target due to the recoil. Seeing a nearby boulder, Frost aims his right wrist at it, bracing himself for a strong recoil by standing steady and bending his elbow slightly to absorb the recoil.
The wrist-mounted shotgun blasts a chunk of the boulder to bits, and also kicks up the sand around the rock. There indeed was quite a bit of spread, as the boulder was merely a few feet away and some of the spread missed. However, true to the monk's word, the recoil was surprisingly light. Nodding in approval, Frost takes out his rifle and examins the modifications Numen made to it.
Taura watched as the others received their upgrades, wondering if this was some kind of joke. These were not at all the kind of 'upgrades' she had expected. Weapons and armor were not even close to what she had desired. She tried to rationalize this, perhaps she would receive the true reward when she finished the job and this was just a means to help her fulfill that goal. It was either that, or her worst fears were confirmed and the Monk was either incapable or unwilling to fulfill the promise.
When the Monk turned to her last, she quickly erased the disappoint from her face. She figured that she should let him upgrade something to prevent any arguing about it, but she had no intent on giving him any of her possessions. Instead, she walked up to one of the dead trees, tore off a branch, and presented it to him.
The Monk took the branch and examined it. The item seemed to bring him to a momentary pause, though whether it was from curiosity or confusion could not be read on his blank face. All that could be inferred was that he was studying this simple branch longer than he probably should have needed to.
When he finally finished looking at the branch, he handed back to Taura immediately. It did not appear that he had done anything; the branch looked the same as when she handed it to him. Did he simply refuse to give her an upgrade?
To those that could see her face, Taura and the Monk appeared to exchange looks of understanding, and then Taura turned from the group.
"Our business is finished for the evening. I trust you all can setup camp on your own while I go explore the island."
It did not seem to matter whether their business really was finished, as Taura began to walk away from the group regardless. To those that had been there previously, they would know exactly where she was heading.
Numen claps as a small smile reaches his face. He looks onward at the upgraded heroes, feeling that he is finally doing something good with his power. He then sits tailor fashioned.
"I feel power.. But it is not enough to ensure that you all will prevail against Malwrath. Greigor's soul should assist with survivability in combat. I'm afraid things will not get easier though. Moya is a vicious enslaving leader who will have her gang of blood thirsty monsters slay whatever stands between her and destiny. Xulu is on the prowl as I am told.." The monk then stands up and taps Taura on the shoulder. This should give the squirrel a rush of energy, almost like a buff of sorts.
"I know you need to survive. Fair travels." Numen says with a smile of deceit to Taura in a vampiric language.
Hiero meanwhile tries to stop Taura. "Hey! You know more than anybody that travelling that path alone will lead to your own death. Who's to say that befallen god isn't out there, or that crazy Moya? Besides, what are you looking for anyway? Greigor's already dead and that desert is no good. Help set up camp with us and remain safe. We already lost Ian.."
The hawk becomes focussed on ensuring the group is in one piece. "I'm not even sure if the others are ready to take on another one of those islanders. Don't make the mistake of getting lost and dying, Taura."
Taura cringes as the Monk touches her shoulder, passing the opportunity to snark in response. Whatever she needs to go and do, it's important enough that she has taken a serious, business-like demeanor.
"It's none of your concern, Blood Feathers. I need to take care of something that's much more urgent than setting up camp, unless you don't want me in full condition. You will have to trust me when I say that I cannot delay this matter any longer."
She likely chooses not to disclose her business to Hiero to avoid hearing his disapproval of drinking blood from the recently deceased. She trusts that the Monk is smart enough to be discreet and keep the bird from delaying her any longer.
"I can handle myself. I've managed longer than you've been breathing."
Frost watches as Taura disappears from view. He decides he would follow her, but not yet. "Who's our next target? The Lizard?" the wolf asks Numen. He half expects Moya to be the target, as she was weakened with a broken leg after her scuffle against Xulu.
The mink takes a bite out of a piece of fruit while listening to everyone's exchange, and watches Taura leave. Not apparently caring and wanting to turn herself in for the night, she scales a tree. Though it was dead, she felt much more comfortable high and away from the rest of the members, and spawns a bed of air beneath her in case if she somehow rolls out.
Still, she has yet to fall asleep, still listening to anything.
Numen smiles as he places his fingers on his chin.
"Moya is already healed, believe it or not. Such a injury wouldn't put that horse out of service. Xulu only slowed her down in her process of dominating this island. Her slaves will be giving her intensive care, especially since she stole medical treatments from Vaylor. Your next target should be either Faras or Moya herself. Getting to Faras is tricky and incredibly difficult, however killing him would deeply weaken Moya emotionally and would destroy her schemes as her mind would spindle out of control." Numen responds.
Hiero now looks at Frost. "What do you think would be easier for us to tackle? Go for the boss or go for her subject to weaken her further?" He asks the question to Frost, knowing that the wolf would not give him the same backlash as other members.
The hawk would later crack into a fruit and sip the juices pouring from it.
Frost crosses his arms, thinking for a few moments. On the one hand, stopping Moya from taking over the island sounds important enough. But if she has slaves healing her, then they would likely be guarding her too. They weren't ready to fight against a slave army. On the other hand, Faras might be alone. Also, his death would supposedly weaken Moya's resolve and damage her psyche.
"Tell me more about Faras." Frost finally says to Numen. "And what is he to Moya?"
Numen creates a white flame in the center of the camp. There he begins illustrating an image of a fox. He wore a stern expression with a scar running across his mouth and muzzle, unkempt shoulder length black hair, ice blue eyes, black nose, and a short black goatee.
He wore a white snow parka with ice blue accents that was considerably worn out with snow stains running across the parka , it had tattered ends and torn off sleeves. He wore a long black dress shirt underneath the parka, with black tattered ski pants and worn out black boots that had been grayed with snow stains. Lastly, he wore black fingerless gloves, his left had carried a gauntlet with flowing ice.
The image fades as Numen claps his hands and the white flame grows weak. "That is Faras.. Faras the Lone as he used to call himself. He was a young man who carried much grief, I could tell by his very soulless eyes that he was a man that lost more than what he had ever received. He is from a part of Azima formerly known as Faerah, a city of magicians, scholars, and genuine geniuses located around the southern frosted regions of the planet. Faerah fell from it's melting glaciers, it led to a massive dying period of homelessness. Faras was forced to watch his once proud city destroyed due to pollution caused by the navy kingdom of the north east known was Mavenland.
He was armed with great intelligence and the resolve to do great things. He came to Kardon, looking to the Voice of Spirits for answers on how to rebuild his fallen city and bring back his people. In his time of desperation, he forged a relationship with Moya and left the other members of the Skaadi. Once he began to notice that Moya was indulgent on ruling the world and becoming the evil he came to prohibit, he left her. Moya has never healed from that wound on her heart. Faras later confronted Malwrath in search of intelligence for all things attainable so that he could begin research on making ice that does not melt and perhaps seek immortality.. The knowledge drove him insane, twisted his moral light and he climbed into the mountains of Kardon to conduct his research. No one has seen him since, I can confirm he is alive though. Kill him and Moya will fall." Numen says coldly as his hands shake.
Hiero takes a deep breath and raises his sword.
"..Unmeltable ice is a great evil to Matai-Mobi. Regardless of his morality, that fox is a threat to global temperatures and would likely cause an ice age. I have no qualms with killing him." Hiero says with a ruthless expression.
"Do you want me to fo-.. Damn it!" The hawk kicks the sand beside him as he notices the wolf is far gone.
The hawk focuses on Numen and turns his attention toward the tree Phantom is currently sleeping in. He circles the beach on guard for the safety of Phantom and Numen. After some time the Hawk leans on the tree Phantom rested on top of and falls asleep with his sword in his hands.
Numen eerily keeps his eyes open the entire time, channeling some form of white energy as the hawk faded to sleep.
As time passes into the night, small noises can be heard from the trees in the distance. Both Hiero and Phantom are in deep sleep, unaware of what goes on around them.
Numen however was awake and correctly sensed exactly what was approaching the group. He recognized the power reading from any where..
"No.. How.. How did he find us?.." The monk says quietly with slight anxiety heard in his voice. He notices that Frost is no where to be found either, leaving the rest of the heroes in danger. Numen teleports away, in search of the winter wolf.
Xulu approaches the camp with a very serious expression on his face. He was in a battle stance as runs into the enclave base of the heroes. Hiero would hear this noise by now and wake up, climbing fast to awake the young mink above him.
"Phantom, Phantom!" He says loudly as he pressures her to wake up. "We've got company!" He reminds her. Soon following him waking her up, the mink slaps the hawk across his face making him grunt but he had no time to argue over the situation. He then does a flip off the side of the tree to land on the ground.
"Show yourself!" Hiero says agitated as he grips his sword.
Xulu would appear to the side of the hawk and kick the sword out of his hands. Next to him was a corrupted salamander with the same bloodied eyes as previous victims, although there was a slight difference with this one. The eyes weren't as darkly colored or blood red as the other island inhabitants and he did not leak oil from his eyes and or mouth. Perhaps he was not a complete slave to Xulu.
Hiero dodge rolls back to recapture his fallen sword. "What do you want from here? Who are you?" The hawk asks demandingly.
"I don't answer to you pesky bird. I'm looking for the mink from earlier, I smell her. I know your mindless attitude will not reveal information I so rightly need. Stand aside or die by my heel, you choose your fate." Xulu says callously.
Hiero squints at Xulu, but even he realizes he is out numbered and watches the group carefully instead of attacking. "What do you want with her?.." Hiero says hesitantly, realizing he had screwed up by revealing the fact that he knows the mink.
Xulu smiles. "Oh, so you do know her? You are just as inept as I had thought. Coda, get him to give me the answers I require."
The shadowy avian snaps his fingers to command the salamander to get answers out of the hawk.
The first response the hawk got from Phantom was her slapping him away, grumbling about being rudely woken up when it was still clearly dark out. At the mention of company, she begrudgingly forces herself awake.
She freezes when she sees Xulu, who apparently had yet to notice her, and so decided to see what would occur between him and the bird who had, for some odd reason, decided to face their "company" without completely thinking things through. When Hiero gives away that they're acquainted, she mentally curses. She looked around for their other group members for any assistance, only to find that they had yet to return. Hell, even Numen wasn't in sight.
If this doesn't make him seem untrustworthy, I don't know what will. She thinks sourly.
She had no interest in fighting a god, dying or not. Talking or running would be ideal.
Given how Numen has practically left them for dead, and that they probably couldn't outrun a god, she decided to see what he wanted, and carefully scaled down the tree. Xulu wasn't exactly stable, but he did point out a few key points about Numen's character the last time they met, and he had experience in dealing with him too. She definitely was weary of him, but perhaps he could provide them with answers as well.
"Wait." She's quick to approach, glancing at Hiero as if trying to read him. "I'm here. I don't know much, but I'll tell you what I do know." She had her doubts about escaping, but now, after walking up to him, she's reminded of him gradually becoming weaker...they may have a slim chance of getting away if necessary.
Coda, the enslaved salamander, pulls out a silver baton and points it at Hiero's feet. The bird suddenly finds himself beginning to sink in the ground. Looking downward, he finds that he is standing in a puddle of the same water surrounding the island and that it's seeping out of the earth below him, pulling him down with it. The symptoms of direct contact with the corrupted water immediately begins to take effect.
Hiero would've aimed to attack the salamander, but as soon as the enslaved creature pulled out his baton, it froze him to the ground as the murky water would not let his legs rise. If it wasn't for Phantom, the hawk would've been in perhaps a mortal situation of life and death.
Flying into the Air, Hiero began to feel rather nostalgic. It had been some time since he had garnered this much air time after having his wings painfully clipped off. He looks toward the mink, silent and wondering why she had gone through with saving him despite having a serious issue with him.
Xulu began getting angry and losing his patience with the two. He kicks Coda at the back of his head for failing to seal off the hawk's life.
"Damn it! You were supposed to kill them, Coda! You used to be your monk's favorite little peer, now here you are unable to kill a pesky bird." Xulu then turns his head toward Phantom.
"You.. You've gotten in my way, now I have no choice but to break my promise with you, mink. You hid yourself from telling me about Numen and what he was planning, I found this area on my own, rather than being honestly told by you. Do you want to sink to the depths of this planet following a false leader? A leader who sold both of you out and left to flee? Does he not realize how easy it would be for me or anyone of m-..." Xulu begins coughing quite loudly and erratically, a green liquid is seeping from Xulu's mouth. Could that be his alien blood?
He stops coughing abruptly but the look in his eyes had him in deep shock. I.. Am I dying..? No..
Xulu then shakes his head to wake himself up from his thoughts. He looks back at the Mink. "I didn't want to kill you, but I know you both are going to kill me. I can feel it in your eyes, none of you will ever be my equal." Xulu says threateningly.
"Following this monk will not return the world into peaceful sunshine that he promises you, none of you are heroes in this quest of fate. Turn yourselves in and die humbly before Malwrath consumes you.." Xulu says somberly. A look of sadness can be seen in his eyes as he grabs his chest to avoid coughing again.
He heaves and then looks at Coda. "You have to end them now.. I.. I do not feel well.." Xulu says as he snaps his fingers again at Coda.
"Let's not rush into anything. Did you want to know anything else?" She tries, on edge now that battle seemed practically eminent. It appeared that Xulu's condition was worsening, though he seemed to be more unstable for this reason.
When Coda is ordered to kill the both of them, she grabs Hiero by the wrist and starts running on spawned platforms of air, quickly giving up on reasoning with the god.
Momentarily she thinks back to her conversation with him. She should've known that he'd be soon to return, though granted, she would've also expected the other members to be with her by that time. She recalls that Taura had wandered off earlier, with Frost in pursuit. Were they attacked and were taken hostage? They certainly weren't dead, she'd be able to tell, but right now, the fact that they, and Numen, weren't there to help, didn't make the thought all that comforting.
"Tell me, why are you all here. I have a feeling as to why both of you came to this land.. That reason being the same as I, for those shards.. You all know that those shards are.. They're inside everyone of us. Surely you wouldn't have the gall to kill some one you don't know?" Xulu says puzzled as he paces toward the air constructs.
"I was brash for sending Coda with out thought.. Phantom, understand me as I go to you now. I come peacefully as I did the first time, none of us want to die. None of my group wants to die.. Some may be a little twisted, but they don't deserve the cruel fate of death. Understand at one point I used to dictate what would happen to those lives in the other world." Xulu said with somberness in his sore voice. It seems that his previous mood has shifted, somethings not right about the macabre bird.
Hiero watches Xulu and Coda and looks toward Phantom's eyes. He says this quietly so that only the mink can listen to him.
"We should take them down now. They have their guard down. Just distract them and I'll put in the work. Surely you can't listen to what he's saying, he's against us. He would want nothing more but to watch us die. He almost just killed me not too long ago.. Think, Phantom.." Hiero says with a serious tone in his voice.
Xulu paces closer to the platforms this time jumping in the air and flying over one as he inches closer to the mink and hawk.
"Pursuing the Monk's path only leads to death and destruction. He is here soley to torment you, leave these pests and join my cause." Xulu says as he holds his hand out toward the mink.
"Help me cure my fallen comrades, aid the enslaved such as Coda here, and stall Malwrath forever.. All I need is your assistance.. Look at that bird, he almost snitched out your entire existence and almost got both of you killed. Who's to say if there are any more of you that you won't suffer the same fate as my party did for following an incompetent Monk. He left both of you to die.. You listen to me and all will be forgiven, we shall begin a new and do something right for a change." Xulu paces closer toward the Mink, this time his hand directly in front of her.
Hiero stares at Phantom with great anxiety sweeping his face. He doesn't know who to believe, but even he knows surely he can't trust the avian who was just about to kill him.
"Phantom.." Hiero says lowly, hoping his comrade would choose to fight against Xulu instead of joining him.
She barely spares the hawk a glance as he whispers his protest. In all honesty, the god made a few good points. At least he was honest and open about everything, as opposed to Numen, who's been nothing but full of secrets. How could she possibly follow someone so blindly? How could anyone in her group, in fact?
Additionally, everyone knows that the last group of heroes failed under Numen's guidance. If a god could possibly fall, then they're likely to be doomed as well. At least Xulu knows how to survive on the island, and perhaps even know how to stop the threat of Malwrath.