there she holds onto her mother's breast, clutching onto it, so soft under the harsh light. Suckling onto her milk. It's
It feels groggy behind the blackness, like a daze. She isn't sure if her eyes are open, but she tries blinking and she sees the petite embers fluttering up to the night sky of stars, the clouds aglow with a slightly orange haze.
Like this, she lingers for a while, absorbing the sight. They are beautiful constellations upon the night canvas. The stars with their neon glows, scattered over the spaces in a vast pattern.
"LeBlonk!" she hears; it's Lulu's voice. "You're back!"
She pulls herself up. It's a bonfire that's just been set up by the edges of the forest – it seems the entire travelling group is here, soundly safe and resting, and the notion comes to her that they just materialised out of thin air because someone lit the fire. Mm, and Lulu is very cheerful, wandering over to her side with Pixy fluttering about her head.
"My name's Emilia," she tells Lulu, glancing at herself on the grass. "LeBlanc is my last name."
Lulu pauses. "Emilia.. so you actually have your old memories?"
"I don't think.." she says. It's still a fuzzy blur to try to recollect anything before. "Well, if I had any friends, I suppose they'd call me Em for short sometimes."
"Em.." Lulu goes, getting excited. "Emm-- Emmy! Emma! How's about I call you Emma? It's cute!"
"Sure," Emilia goes. "'Emma LeBlonk..' hehe."
"Did you slay the foxy lady?" Lulu asks, sitting down like a child awaiting a tale.
"I think I did.. you died though, right?"
"Mhm." Lulu nods. "But luckily, I didn't get trapped in one of those pesky asylums – I woke up here by this bonfire, me and Pixy. And then you came along."
"Huh." Then Emilia looks around the roiling crowd for those familiar faces; Twisted Fate, Shen, Vayne.. where are they?
"They're.." Lulu goes, pausing for a bit. "I dunno actually. I found you here."
"After I killed Foxy Lady--" Emilia says, "the icy forest was collapsing around us, and we all got sucked into the lake. It's the last that I remember.. it looks like everyone made it out of the Foxy Lady's realm alive."
"I guess so," Lulu goes. "Hey, my biggie spell worked!"
And Emilia glances beyond the crowd – beyond them, that dirt pathway meanders towards an orange glow in the distant horizon. Maybe that could be.. to her, it suggests a lively, bustling city whose light shines eternally bright under the night, blighting the clouds with that orange glow.
"I think we're close to.." (what's the city's name?) "--Anor Londo," Emilia goes. She notions at the signs that hint to the city's presence. "You see it, oui?"
"Yep," Lulu pips.
"Bien." Emilia's bunny slippers are still snug on her feet. "Bien.. I hope when we get over to Anor Londo, we'll be able to find Twisted Fate.. and the others."
But her skin, now that she notices it, it is starting to look a little decomposed under the bonfire's flickering light. Her arm is ghastly white, as if blood has stopped pumping through the veins, giving the flesh some vitality. She..
"I died.." Emilia says, pulling her sleeves back. "I died drowning in the lake's tunnel." She vividly feels that sense of panic, and the lingering image of the bubbles under the shimmering light.
"Did you really?" Lulu asks. Then the fey girl notices the state of decay of Emilia's body, and she gives out an, "Oh. Lemme fetch you some fresh humanities, hold on--!" before skipping over, mingling amidst the other travellers, before she comes back with the bottomless box at hand and--
Emilia still has some humanity, found in her pouch. "I have some already," she tells Lulu, smiling, showing the soft gels in her palm. She heads over to the bonfire where she allows the raw humanity to transmute her back into liveliness again. Then a thought hits her.
"I don't think the others made it out alive," Emilia suggests. "If they've died like me, they should've come back here, but they aren't here.. wait-- Lulu, do you know how to find them? You have more of those red crystals.."
"I do.." Lulu says, albeit hesitantly. "But I dunno if you or I could use the crystals properly – don't you gotta be a cleric to use it? Or else you'd go tipsy-turvy."
Emilia pauses. She's gotta take that chance. "I don't care," she goes. "Give me the red crystal. There's always good time for learning."
So Lulu plops the box on the ground and rummages through the contents, rattling various trinkets. She eventually pops out of the box, holding onto the ruby crystal – the same crystal Odette tried using before.
Lulu's fingers are wrapped around the crystal's facets. Its redness almost seems to shine with a life of its own within.
"What're you waiting for?" Emilia asks, her hand open.
"Emmy.." Lulu goes – her usually giddy eyes seem downcast. "Before you go, I wanna tell you how it works, so you don't rush in blindly."
"I've only seen Odette use it.. you have to picture with your mind's eye what you want to do," Lulu goes. "If you want to find Twisted Fate and the people, you conjure up their essences; the impressions that they've left on you, and it will help bring you to where they are in this world. You'll be like a ghostly spectre, skittering through places. And others can touch you, but you can't touch others, so be careful in that regard."
"Ready?" Lulu asks.
Emilia nods, and with that, Lulu hands the crystal over – she kneels down as she remembers Odette doing, and closes her eyes.
Nothing seems to happen, as she can still hear the chatter outside. She wonders if she might be doing something wrong, but then the images start to pour into her awareness, the outside sounds dissipating away, and she almost imagines that she's right by in their presence.. Twisted Fate.. Odette.. for some reason it's so vivid an experience, and it starts to feel suffocating on the inside – it's the beautiful suffocation when your heart begins to grow overwhelmed by those things beyond, and you start to choke..
In the plaza, there were the birds under the blue sky blotted with silver clouds. They were flying, orbiting, dancing with an awestruck frenzy.
It's so.. hard to breathe.
Little by little, a warm, distant light appears from the heart of the darkness. Its rays reveal an obscure tunnel, shiny and damp in parts but with darkened edges. The white light at the far end draws her towards it. A few blue rays even seem to reach her through the tunnel.
She heads slowly and steadily towards the light, turning in a spiral through the endlessly dripping tunnel. The harsh, ceaseless rushing of wind rumbles oppressively through this tubular space.
As she gets nearer to the exit, the rushing noise gets louder and the walls brighten. She discovers that they are lined with a colourless organic texture.
She walks slowly out into the light.
The wind becomes a calm, majestic breeze, and the light gets brighter, increasingly beautiful. Up to a totality of brightness.
Light particles and filaments suddenly appear, in motion, but amidst the blinding whiteness they can hardly be defined.
In this storm of light particles, all kinds of micro and macroscopic spatial figures bond and split apart, following a chaotic, random, never symmetrical order. As an entirety, they make a kind of visual music that is quite fascinating to absorb.
She thinks she can see all kinds of images, both familiar and strange, constantly shifting in her vision. They form on the periphery of the white light, appearing so fast that it's very hard to identify them.
But a bitter breeze blows from her, disrupting these hypnotic circumvolutions, that vortex losing coherence. The edges of that white is gradually invaded by a light blue; the whiteness takes on a fluffy texture--
She is floating now amidst clouds in the sky. The whole world seemingly before her, visible and clear in sight, everywhere and anywhere within her possible reach. She's drawn towards one particular location – she gravitates down below the clouds, where it suddenly becomes as black as night, before she catches the orange glow of the majestic Anor Londo.
It's a bustling civilisation, where it is constantly lit so brightly that the very darkness seems to quiver before its presence. The exquisite buildings dwell, and the majority of the streets are scattered with people. Pools of shimmering waters reflect all the opulance into the sky, as if waiting for the Gods themselves to acknowledge its beauty.
She finds herself rushing through to the central core of the city, the cathedral and skyscrapers, where she moves through the stone walls into the labyrinthine interiors--
She transforms into a rapide spirit, suddenly picking up great speed in her motions and her presence begins to resemble the tumululous rapids, where she spreads in through every room, searching those confines, the libraries, the bedrooms, the all-encompassing dining hall – never minding the stewards who wander the halls, or the mechanical wolves who await like statues by their guarding posts.
Eventually, she makes it down a claustrophobic icy stairway to the open dungeon below. This subzero environment, where a walkway spirals down the cylindrical depths.Armoured sentinels walk along the path, meticulous with every step, mechanical wolves by their sides like bloodhounds – it's so hard to see the bottom, the winding path almost seems endless..
Her presence hovers down the path, feeling like in a hypnotic trance. She notices prison cells that line the walls – where behind the crystalline glass, there are undead, with the petite bonfires set-up in each of those cells. They'd glance out the glass, maybe waiting for anything interesting to happen in their confines, but mostly to bore themselves by their captors' walking routines. Or they'd be waiting by their bonfires, looking dejected about their fates. Some of them are in more advanced stages of decomposition.
And there is Twisted Fate, along with Vayne and Shen, held all together in one of the middle cells. They're playing cards; Vayne is holding her hand close to her chest.
Emilia passes through the glass without a hitch; nobody seems to notice her.She becomes aware of the instinct to materialise herself into visible form.
So she does.
It feels like attempting to wake up from a dream. A loud whirr occurs in her ears while she lingers by the space beside.First she feels her feet touch the ground, then her knees and torso grow solid – up to the rest of her body.
"What's that?" she hears Vayne ask. "Is that.. LeBlanc?"
She is a pale spectre.
"LeBlanc!" Twisted Fate exclaims, joyeous about her appearance. "How did you..!"
Their voices sound as if they're coming from a distant dream, amidst a howling gale. She tries to talk back to them – but no sounds come out of her lips. Lulu wasn't kidding then; she could only observe and learn with the ruby crystals, and not really affect anything.
She tries jumping up and down, also making no sound whatsoever upon landing.
"You're using one of Odette's ruby crystals, aren't you?" Shen goes. "Just nod for yes, or shake your head if it's a no – you aren't able to speak."
"Is everyone alright? The travellers are out of the nine-tailed demoness's realm?"
She gives another nod.
"And you're with them? You're not in the prisons here?"
"Okay," Shen says. "I'll make this quick before the guards notice. We've died and found ourselves in this 'cell.' Odette isn't with us.. There's numerous other undead who are also trapped here, some of whom have tried to kill themselves in hopes of escaping, but are brought back into their cells. I suppose the artificial bonfires do the job of shackling us here. Where is this-- do you know?"
Emilia nods. She wants so badly to tell them it's Anor Londo, but it looks like she'll have to play a game of charades.
"This is.. Anor Londo perchance?" Shen asks.
(Maybe not, hehe.) Emilia grins.
"Really?" Shen says.
She eagerly confirms with another nod.
"At least it's some hope," Twisted Fate goes, rousing from his bum. "You should get everyone to make it to Anor Londo – if you know where we are, it'll be all the easier for us to retrieve the artefact once you can get us all out. But tread carefully; I think this place is why the other explorers didn't make it out."
"Alright," Emilia mouths.
Then she notices something strange by the corner of her eye; she turns her head to the glass door, and one of the sentinels is standing just by outside – he isn't moving.
Twisted Fate and the others follow Emilia's gaze,also noticing this fact.
"Oh.. no.." he says.
If the sentinel has a discernable gaze, it would be either cold or amused about Emilia's presence. (Or a tinge of both.)
Emilia is paralysed; all she wants is out of here – but she doesn't know how to recall back to the bonfire.
The sentinel steps towards the door and holds out its hand against the surface. A kind of electricity jolts through the door's entirety, making it vanish, and the sentinel storms into the cell – it reels its arms up as if to lunge at Emilia, and when it swings its arms forth (so fast) she is slammed onto the ground. What now for the poor girl?
Emilia is pinned by the shoulder and she emits a scream from her lips and only wind comes out while the sentinel lingers, its weight sadisticly unbearable.
"Hey!" Vayne exclaims. She pulls out her crossbow, swiftly cocking its mechanism and plants three shots into the chinks of the sentinel's armour plating. This disorients the sentinel – it wobbles, losing its focus upon Emilia, wavering left and right trying to maintain its balance. "You get off her!"
Twisted Fate also has something to add to that. With a flick of his wrist, he pops a card in hand from his sleeve – it was supposed to be his ace in the hole during Texas Hold 'Em, but now it shall flood the sentinel with stunning charge. He swishes the card onto the sentinel, and it cuts directly, embedding into the armour, and the sentinel crashes against the cell's wall, collapsing there, sending a resonating tremour that makes frost tumble from the ceiling. "Nobody touches our girlie," he goes.
You can hear the entirety of the dungeon go wild as the inmates begin to cheer, noticing the spectacle from this very cell. In a way, it's hopeful and a break from the terrible monotony.
The sentinel lies inert. A little smoke withers from it.
The other sentinels break from their routine patrolling; it had been a slow and teady march, their footsteps pounding in unison along the spiralling path (a thump that is felt more than heard), but now their steps are a shambling chaos as they start converging upon this very cell.
"Now's a good chance to make a run," Twisted Fate goes, notioning for everyone to come. His gaze lingers upon –"LeBlanc.. I dunno how your being a ghost is supposed to work, but I suppose 'tis better if you roll with us outta here. You might know the way."
She is in the midst of recovering, and she's trying to get up to a stand. The arm by her crushed shoulder is very limp though, and with a little effort, leaning on the limp arm – plop! Her entire arm severs, scissoring by the shoulder joint, bouncing onto the ground where it vaporises (with a flash of light) into nothingness.
The one-armed, ghostly Emilia offers her remaining arm for Twisted Fate to help her up with. "Sorries about your arm," he says.
"Shall we go?" Shen asks.
"Well hells yeah!" Twisted Fate goes. "We go."
So they pour out of the cell. On both sides of the walkway, the sentinels have gathered in two-column formation. Their arms are up and ready to land disabling blows upon the escapees. They're standing by though, idle and patient, as if wanting to say, "Go ahead, make our day." Maybe that would intimidate them back inside the cell.
"Damnit..!" Vayne mutters – she isn't equipped to deal with the onslaught.