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Saturday, May 5, 2012

Spectrum: Chapter Three 6/8

   They were in what could only be the castle’s library, at the summit of the tallest tower of the palace. To their shock, however, it was coated entirely in ice! Rogalian himself was visible in the center of the room, frozen solid like a fly trapped in amber. They rushed to reach him, but were blown back by a great gale of blistering wind as from the ceiling came a terrible abomination: a blazing halo surrounded by seven enormous, fiery wings.

   Fighting the Unholy Wings was like forcing mice to fight a falcon. The monstrosity would zoom across the great expanse of the library at high speed, knocking them around with its flailing wings and searing slipstream. Occasionally it would hover in the air and summon down a great rain of fire around it, blasting them with meteorites. Dangerous though it was, this was their best chance to hurt it; they aimed for the fiery core with their ranged attacks while the beast recovered from its casting. After damaging it for a short time, it became angry and swept them all away from one another with a great blow of its wings. At this point, every one of them had to fight as if they were alone until their combined efforts injured the monster, sending it reeling away and allowing them to reunite.

   The fight was long and arduous, but although the Unholy Wings had the advantage of size and mobility, it couldn’t overcome the teamwork of the four friends. With Seles and Clara pummeling the creation at every opportunity and Niay and Pyre keeping everybody in good shape, the Unholy Wings was chipped slowly and decisively to its doom. Keening horribly, it vanished in a fiery explosion and dropped its core: a thin, bladed ring: a chakram. Clara, of all people, picked it up and gave it a few practice throws; deciding she liked it, she pocketed the weapon.

   But how were they to free the trapped Rogalian? On a hunch, Seles took the Garnet Wreath from Clara and held it up to the frozen fire spirit. Gathering power from the proximity of its creator, the Wreath flared with magic heat and melted the ice in a twinkling, freeing the spirit from his prison.

   Startling blue eyes amidst golden skin and flowing crimson hair; such was Rogalian, spirit of fire. With his awakening, the sweltering heat of the palace suddenly died down to a refreshing coolness, and outside, the glow of flames from the burning wood vanished like a blown-out candle.

   Rogalian was indeed very weak, as Faience had feared. He had been attacked—he knew not by what—and, like the Sepia Palace, the Crimson Palace’s defense mechanisms had been triggered to protect him. Whoever or whatever his assailant had been, it had been powerful enough to strike him down before he had even sensed it coming; frozen him solid—him, the spirit of fire!—and then made it out through the Crimson Palace’s defenses. Was this strange antagonist targeting all of the elemental spirits of the world? But why? And how could anyone have enough power to do such a thing?

   It was Pyre who dragged them back from their speculation to the situation at hand. Once he understood their need to penetrate Mount Hellena Bas-Crysalli, Rogalian gladly lent them his powers. He would like to meet this Acheron, he said, a hard look in his blue eyes.

   Again, Pyre obtained the ability to cover her weapons with an element—fire this time, of course—and the technique for a new finishing move: the Muspelheim Blow. Clara received the power to smite and destroy using fire; Niay, the ability to strengthen and protect.

   For Seles, Rogalian poured his power into the Garnet Wreath, returning it to full strength once more. Like the Opal Scroll, Seles could now use the Wreath either to return to the Crimson Palace no matter where he was or to call Rogalian to his side, although like Faience, Rogalian warned him that he was likely to be weak for quite some time. Even recharging the Wreath had been a difficult task for him.

   With his powers granted, Rogalian turned his attention to the black mark on Seles’ chest. Faience’s fears had been correct; Rogalian could do no more about it than she had. He was rather more interested in Seles’ birthmark, however. There was power in it, he said, although he wasn’t sure what kind of power it was. Even if he had been at the height of his power, he admitted, Faience was by far the more experienced when it came to magical healing.

   When Clara mentioned Fu, however, Rogalian had useful information. He knew Fu well; in fact, Fu made his home in the Ringcon Caves beneath the Crimson Palace. The spirit told them to look for the cave with the three entrances, which was where the entrance to Fu’s workshop was. With the aura of two elemental artifacts around them, Fu’s curiosity was sure to be piqued and he would certainly grant them entrance. As a parting gift, Rogalian gave them a tuft of Kitsune Fur that he had used in the creation of the Unholy Wings; Fu would make good use of it, he said.

   The Magic Carpet flew them out to the front of the Crimson Palace, where they found the formerly burning wood had, with the extinguishing of the flames intended to guard the palace, been reduced to a plain of ash. Seles was sad that the forest—part of the Palace’s defenses—had been destroyed in this way, but Niay pointed out that the forest would likely grow back even better than before with the regeneration of the soil.

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