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The castle courtyard. It was a dusty, dismal place. No signs of life anywhere, just a gentle, ominous breeze, bones and rotted weeds. There was probably some insects lurking around, but Gale didn't want to even think about that.

"This is where the 'fun' begins, I take it?" Gigas huffed, clutching his Agnablaster tightly.

"Quite so, if one can face fear itself," she replied obscurely.

"You can't go one damn sentence without being overly ambiguous, can you?" Shinji snapped.

"It is for your own good. And you should do well to remember it," Nina retorted curtly.

"What awaits within?" Altair asked calmly.

"Your very worst nightmare," Rakurai mused, some kind of excitement forcing his lips into a cocksure smile.

"You seem to be looking forward to it," Gale chuckled (despite the current situation). Rakurai simply smiled and said nothing else, his Espinas armour and Great Sword seeming to make almost no noise as he walked. Noticing this reminded Skylar of a question.

"How come you get to keep your armour, and all ours gets 'disappeared'?" Skylar said, almost like she was jealous.

"Be thankful that's all that's disappeared. Besides, I'm dead, so rules don't affect me," he replied bluntly, half-sarcastically.

"Enough of this frivolous mingling. Let us enter. We have many places to pass before we reach Kazir," Nina interrupted. That sentence made Gale's stoic expression melt into worry and sadness. Shinji put her hand on Gale's shoulder.

"Stop worrying," she said gently, "You'll make yourself ill. He'll be fine." she uttered, knowing deep down inside that he wasn't. As Gale left, Shinji's expression sullened as well. Jinsoku held her hand and kissed her quickly.

"Don't you start as well. Then I'll have to start feeling like shit," he said quietly. Still holding hands, they followed the others past the empty husk of the castle and into the spire.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

It was dark inside. Darker than outside, almost impossible to see with no lava to illuminate the surroundings. They had to find a source of light. Makoto knew the perfect one.

"Nina, you're a light Descendant, right? Can't you glow in the dark or something?" Makoto asked pleasantly.

"I must regret. My powers are limited in a place of such darkness. Any light pertaining to me..." she began, before a sinister and whispery voice interrupted.
Final Fantasy XIII-2 OST - Heart of Chaos Extended & Looped15:49

Final Fantasy XIII-2 OST - Heart of Chaos Extended & Looped

Theme- Shadows of Fear

"Would soon be snuffed out by the dark..."

"...What it said." Nina murmured.

"Who's there?" Makoto shouted, before Nina shushed her vehemently.

"Be silent!"

"Oh, dear Makoto, what a silly question to ask...I am known by everyone, and everything..."

"Show yourself!" Gigas growled. The group stood still completely now. The thing laughed amusedly. It spoke slowly, calmly and in whisperes, and if one listened carefully, its whispers overlapped, bits of things it was about to say being heard in the undertone of what it already saying.

"I am all around you...you are staring into me right now..."

"Speak plainly!" Rakurai barked impatiently. The thing laughed again.

" I am around you. I am inside you, all over, in and around you. I...am your deepest, darkest desires... Apropos of nothing, you will be able to see me properly soon, when I manifest once more..."

"What d'you mean 'once more'?" Shinji spat.

"I was once a proud and powerful creature...until I was betrayed...by two of my own brethren...but soon...I...will...return..."

The others heard Nina gasp almost inaudibly. "The Abyssal Sovreign....." she whispered to herself.

"Give unto me your sins...I shall absolve you...in darkness...."

Tendrils of pure shadow began to worm their way around, coming for the group.

"Come! We must go now! There are two more floors to pass!"

"How are we supposed to leave when we cant see a goddamned thing!?" Gigas shouted. Suddenly, the room was illuminated in a warm and very bright glow.

"Like this," Nina grunted. The others looked around, the shadows creeped nearer, and Nina's light began to fade, just like she had warned. The saw a door behind her.

"There! Go!" Gale shouted. When every one was through the door, the light finally faded completely. But, just before they could shut the door behind them, one of the shadows wrapped itself around Altair's raven, pulling it back through the door with a surprised *squawk!* as the door shut behind them. The others turned to Altair.

"I am very sorry," Nina consoled him, almost tonelessly.

"It matters not. That creature was always more of a curse than a gift," Altair replied, a tinge of remorse in his voice. "I believe that mechanism will take us upward," he observed, pointing ahead of himself and the others to an open door in the back of the room, a small area inside, clearly an elevator of some kind.

As the hunters and Descendants hurried inside, Nina stared at the door from which they had escaped through, worry and confusion furrowing her brow as the small box pulled away, taking them deeper into the hornets' nest.



To Be Continued in: Legacy of the Descendants XIV: Tower of the Future

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