This is the penultimate chapter, meaning that the next one will be the last since this story is nearing its end.


One Last Trip

Dateline, October 23rd, 1204.

Today was the day and there was an announcement outside the school gates.

"Students and visitors. Thank you very much for your patience." Towa announced from the speakers somewhere. "Without further ado, I hereby declares the 127th Thors Military Academy Festival open! Enjoy yourselves today and have a wonderful time!"

The gates were opened by two students and the festival had begun. I hadn't been to one before, so this would be new to me.

"Our big moment isn't until tomorrow afternoon." Machias said. "So the best thing we can do today is simply enjoy the festivities and try not to think about the concert."

"That's exactly what I'm gonna do right now." I replied. "There's a lot of fun to be had here and I'm gonna engage in all of them!"

"Well, I'm sure some of us have club obligations to attend to today. So perhaps we should each just do our own thing" Emma added. "Though it would be a good idea to meet in the auditorium at the end of the day to check all of our equipment for tomorrow."

Elliot agreed. "Yeah, I need to find out when our orbal instruments are going to be taken in."

"And we'll need to do a little bit of tuning, at the very least." Crow said.

Alisa nodded. "That sounds fine."

"A musician has to keep her instrument in top condition, just like a warrior does her weapon." Laura added.

Millium hummed. "Huh, I'm surprised everyone's so calm."

"Probably because I'm the one who has the biggest role and responsibility." I said. "I am the one who's gonna be at the center of it all."

"Yeah, but I was talking about the big news from Crossbell yesterday."

"Their declaration of independence?" Fie asked.

I frowned. "Millium, you have a habit of saying things at the wrong time."

"It's certainly grounds for concern, but at this point, I don't think the reality of it has sunk in for me yet." Machias added. "Honestly, I can't see the new Crossbell Defense Force as much of a force to be reckoned with, either."

"I say let them talk. Talk is cheap after all. Pride and independence are things one acquires through hard work." Jusis said. "A verbal deceleration holds little weight on its own, especially if they end up reneging on it soon after."

Laura hummed. "That's certainly true."

"Crossbell will still be there in two days, but right now, we've got a festival to focus on." Rean said. "We've got people here from all over the country and we owe it to them to show them a good time."

"With all the uncertainty in the world lately, that's all the more reason to try and help people forget their troubles." Elliot said. "Especially since our families will be coming to visit tomorrow."

"Exactly, they need to learn the bear necessities with all of mother nature's recipes." I added before posing with a fist in the sky. "Now let's have a good time!"

We each went our separate ways, except for me and Emma.

"You're worried about Crossbell, aren't you?" Emma asked, holding my hand.

I sighed loudly. "I am, cause of my history with that city. But there's two things that make up for it. I'll be seeing my father in person for the first time in seven months. And I now have you in my life."

Emma smiled at me. "Yes, those are wonderful."

"So what about you, will you be meeting anyone in your family tomorrow afternoon?"

Emma looked away. "Well..."

"Ohhh, sorry I shouldn't have asked."

"It's okay, it's delicate matter that I'll tell you another time."

"Alright, I'll zoom that out of my mind. Anyways, mind if we enjoy the festival together?"

She smiled again. "Yes, let's make the most of it, together."

I nodded and holding hands, we began to walk around the academy.

"Oh, there you are!" A voice called before rushing over. "I've been looking for you."

"Hey Towa, what is it?" I asked.

"Please take these, these are for you and Emma."

Towa handed over five tickets to me.

"Tickets, huh? Well we're not at a movie theater, but what are these for?" I asked.

"They allow you to join in the more popular festive attractions run by many class groups. One ticket per person is the rule and it's a little experiment we're working on. So you can use five of them to have a good time with Emma. If that's what's going on, isn't it?"

"It is, but please don't tell everyone." Emma blushed.

"I won't say another word. Now enjoy yourselves and have fun." Towa walked off.

"Well, then, we should make the most of grinding through these." I said. "What shall we try first?"

"How about the horse ride, it's been a while since both of us rode on a horse since our study back in the highlands."

"Then let's begin there as a starting point."

Holding hands, we walked over to the academy field and spoke to Lambert who was in charge of the activity.

"Welcome to 'Super Stallion'!" He greeted. "Not only can you take your first horse ride here, but you can try your luck in a thrilling time attack! Perhaps you'll be able to set a time so incredible that impress even me!"

"A time attack mode? Talk about right up my street, I am so in!" I gave Lambert a ticket. "You wanna cheer me on, Emma?"

"Of course, I know that you'll do your best." She answered, smiling.

"Alright then, mister. The goal is to travel around the race course for three laps within the time limit." Lambert said. "If you can finish the race before the time limit, you'll find yourself with a spectacular prize. Good luck out there."

I got on the horse and stopped at the starting line.

"On your mark...get set...GO!"

The race began and I raced around the track on the horse, galloping as accurate as I could since speed here would most likely throw me off. I crossed through the first and second lap at a good pace before making a last sprint on the final lap and I finished the race. I got off the horse and Lambert seemed impressed.

"Bravo! Splendid! Simply splendid!" He praised. "You managed to beat the course within the time limit!"

"That was wonderful, Alex." Emma said, smiling.

"It is my honor to present you with this prize for your valiant efforts."

Lambert handed me a super stallion shield. "Nice, looks very trendy." I nodded.

"Umm, is it okay if I use a ticket?" Emma asked. "I would like to take a big step today."

"Certainly, just wait for a moment and we'll begin." Lambert answered.

Emma gave him a ticket and I stood back, ready to cheer her on. Seems like she wants to always be at the same pace as me and not fall behind. The race began and I cheered her on as she went around the course three times before the race finished.

She too managed to beat the time limit and Lambert had another one of those shields. After using two tickets and how tired we were, we grabbed a few refreshments from one of the stalls managed by Becky. Then we resumed with the rest of the festival.

"Say, Emma. Shall we go to the gym to try out that game?"

"That's where a class group is managing 'Mishy Panic', right?" Emma asked.

"Yeah, let's go there."

She nodded and walked over to the gym, we took a right turn and entered the sword training room that was turned into a giant festival game. Monk was the one in charge of this impressive game.

"Heh heh. Welcome to Mishy Panic." He greeted oddly. "Your goal here is to smack as many targets as humanly possible. Should you beat the high score, you will receive a fantastic prize!"

"You didn't need to sound creepy about it." I replied. "But sure, bring on the challenge!"

I handed him a ticket and he gave me a large plastic mallet before I stood on the raised floor near the holes of where the mishy heads would pop out. Emma smiled at me and the game started when Monk blew a whistle. I ran around the entire floor and whacking the evil mishy dolls that popped out of the whole whilst avoiding the other dolls. After two minutes of whacking, Monk blew the whistle and the game ended.

I got off the area, gave the mallet back to Monk and he put it behind him.

"Heh Heh. That was well played." He praised. "As promised, here's your prize."

He handed me over a mishy plush. I had seen these before in Crossbell, but I never thought I would win one. Guess my training with accuracy came in handy for this one. We left the room and then out of the gym.

"Well done, Alex." Emma said. "And you won too."

"Yep...but, I think this plushie would be in much better care if you have it." I replied.

Emma gasped. "You want to give this to me?"

"I do, because it proves how much I love you."

She smiled, blushing a lot. "Awww Alex...thank you."

I handed the plushie over to her and she kissed me.

"I'll be sure to take real good care of it."

"I'm sure you will. So we have only two tickets left, why don't we take it easy inside the main building?"

She nodded and we went inside the main building, I knew of three attractions going on in there, but we had the chance to take part in one. I walked along the first floor and we stopped outside a room called the Tea House, this one was managed by Vivi and Linde, the twins who often get mixed up by the other students.

"Please come by to Class IV's Eastern teahouse 'Miyabi." Linde greeted. "Surround yourself in an exotic Eastern atmosphere as you try our delicious tea and balance it out with our sweets. Please come in and relax for a while."

'Miyabi? Where's the rest of Team Hebijo?' I thought. "Sure, I could do with a sit down."

"Me too, guess this means we'll have to use a ticket each." Emma replied.

Emma and I handed our last two tickets to Linde and we entered inside the teahouse. The area looked very traditional for sure, but no sign of any shinobi. Oh well, you can't have it all.

"The Eastern atmosphere in here feels so genuine. Hehe, they really did a wonderful job." Emma said. "There's a real sense of elegance in the air. What a perfect place to relax."

"I'm looking at a real sense of elegance right now." I smirked at her.

Emma blushed. "Alex..."

I winked. "Just being a charmer. Anyway, let's find a place to sit down."

We took a seat on a wide bench and we sat close to each other before we were served with eastern tea and few sweets on the side. I had not tried this kind of tea before, but it smelled and tasted unique.

"I didn't realize how tired I was until we actually sat down." Emma said. "I can hardly remember the last time I truly felt relaxed."

"Well things have been quite hectic with all the current issues." I replied. "Not to mention the concert, which by the way, I think you and I are gonna have the best performance together."

She smiled. "Yes...it'll be a little embarrassing, considering that we're in a relationship now. But somehow, I feel like I can go through with it as long as you're with me."

I held her hand.

"Did I hear something about Emma's boyfriend?" A voice asked.

We looked to see Vivi and Linde come up towards us and they were holding a box each.

"What my sister's trying to say is: 'We're sorry to intrude on your conversation, but would you like to draw a fortune?" Linde asked.

"Draw a fortune, is that part of the Eastern Culture too?" I asked.

"You nailed it!" Vivi answered. "You pray to the goddess and she tells you your fortune."

"Now then, please choose either a luck or a relationship fortune." Linde said.

Emma looked at me and I nodded with my choice. "We'll go with a relationship fortune."

"Yes, both of us will." Emma added.

"Ooh, tasting the forbidden fruit, huh?" Vivi grinned. "Now, draw your fortune."

We drew a piece of paper from out of the box and I read mine whilst the twins walked off.

'You are already with the one you love. Although they are shrouded in mystery, your open mind will yearn you to love them just the way they are.'

Hmmm, very interesting way of putting it. "What does your say, Emma?" I asked

"Mine says that 'Being overly reserved has already awarded you with the one that remains nearby. Look to them for support and you will have the courage to reveal your true self to others'." She answered.

"Wow...these are shockingly accurate." I blinked. "Have those two been snooping around like a gossip chain?"

Emma laughed. "I don't think they would go that far. Although, I am more worried about the true self."

"Yeah, that one also hits a little close to home...considering what I have inside me."

"True, but as long as we have each other, we can fulfill what our fortunes tell us."

I nodded. "Darn right."

We then got up and left the tea house, it was the later afternoon when we stood out of the main building.

"The first day of the academy festival is nearly over. Thank you for coming today, everyone. I hope you'll join us for our second day of festivities." Towa announced through the speakers. "And for all of you prepping tonight for tomorrow's attractions, good luck, and try not to overexert yourselves."

"Wow, this day went by very quickly." I said. "Guess we better catch up with our friends."

"Yes, we need to go to the auditorium for to do final rehearsals." Emma replied.

I nodded and we went over to the auditorium, the place was empty. We went through the side stage door and walked up to the stage. This would be where we would perform our concert tomorrow night. Nearly everyone would be attending, including most of the relatives of my friends.

"To think that we're gonna have our moment to shine." I said, holding Emma's hand.

"Hmmm..." She hummed whilst holding the plushie I gave her. She put it down near her and wrapped her arms around me.

"Ah, were you in need of a moment between us?"

She nodded with a smile. So I put my arms around her and hugged each other close. I then began to sing a little of the song I had performed a few months ago before we danced a little slowly.

"No stars are out tonight, but we're shining our own light and it's never felt so bright." I sang to her. "Cause girl the way I'm feeling, it's easy to believe...that you're all I need."

"Ahhhh..." Emma blushed happily. "I think that line is more true, now that you mentioned it."

I nodded, looking into her eyes before sharing a gentle kiss and pulling away.

"I didn't get to say earlier, but I love you too, Alex." She said, blushing.

Just then, the doors opened and in came the rest of Class VII.

"Oh, you two are already here." Crow said before winking at me. "Hope we're not interrupting anything."

"N-n-n-no way!" I exclaimed, blushing a little. "Rocking it out in the concert is more important right now and we should focus on that."

"Y-y-yes! Any rehearsals we do right now could go a long way." Emma added, blushing redder than me.

"Ha ha ha, I'm just teasing you." Crow replied. "But you're right on the money, let's get to work with rehearsing!"


Well, despite the slight embarrassment of being noticed by our friends, we got underway with rehearsing the three performances one last time until it was around sunset time, so we wrapped it up, convinced that we were more than ready for tomorrow's concert.

"Ahhhh, that was so much fun." Millium said. "I wish we could have a festival every week."

"I wish it was my birthday every day, but I know that ain't happening." I replied.

"Personally, I was surprised by the variety of different attractions." Machias said. "There was so much to take in."

"Yeah, the other classes have really put together some impressive events." Alisa added. "We're going to have to make extra sure we measure up with our concert."

Laura nodded. "Indeed. Nothing less than our best will cut it tomorrow."

Rean suddenly glanced around.

"Hey uh Rean, is something wrong?" I asked.

"Nothing...it's alright." He answered. "Why don't we have one last meeting after dinner tonight?"

"Sounds good to me, I'm in need of a refresh like a web page."

"What's a web page?" Millium asked.

Jusis sighed. "Not this again..."


It was now evening and we had finished with our dinner, Sharon was taking care of Celine. We were all in agreement and excited about our concert. Now we just had to rely on our luck and keep the crowd going for when the moment arrives.

That was when Sara came in. "Good evening, my lucky students."

"Oh, Instructor Sara." Laura greeted.

"Are you here for a late dinner?" Millium asked.

She shook her head and sighed. "It seems like things just took a turn for the strange."

Suddenly, we began hearing a faint bell ringing noise.

"Come with me if you're curious." She added.

We left the dormitory with Sara and walked all the ways past the main building and over to the old schoolhouse where we had quite the surprise. The whole building was covered in a dome shape, like a force field of sorts. Instructor Thomas, Towa, George and the principal were there too.

"So, you've come." The principal said.

"What's going on here?" Sara asked.

"I'm sure you've heard the tolling of the bell earlier. Apparently, as soon as that started, this barrier appeared. We've had several students testify that was the case, at any rate."

"It looks like it's covering the entire building." Towa said.

"I tried the direct approach and hit it with a hammer, but it just absorbed the impact." George added.

"I guess it's denying access to anyone who isn't worthy enough to travel through." I pondered as I noticed Celine arrive beside Emma. "But I may have a theory on this."

"Oh, then could you please explain?" The principal asked.

"It's okay, Rean. I've got this."

Rean nodded. "Alright."

"Since the first day when we started exploring the schoolhouse as part of our investigation, we have had to adapt and learn the twists and turns that the building had provided to us. Many times we've had to solve puzzles and many times we've had to overcome monsters, each one getting stronger than the last. However, it seems that our work at this place is not over yet, and whatever is behind it, there's a likely scenario that we'll be coming face to face with a foe that it is responsible for all this happening. May I suggest that this should be left in the hands of Class VII? Because I have a strong belief that we're the only ones deemed worthy of entering its realm!"

Everyone was surprised at me, I nodded at Rean who then took over.

"He's right. Over the past month, we've poured everything everything we have into getting ready for this festival. Maybe we wanted to prove we could put on just as good a show as the other classes. Maybe we wanted to impress our families. Maybe it's just that being with friends and working to make something great is its own reward." Rean said. "But that's all just secondary right now. What's really important is our chance to leave a legacy here. To do something new classes might look at and aspire to. Winning or losing? That doesn't matter in the end, and it doesn't ultimately matter whether our show is a smash hit or totally tanks. Because what we worked for isn't fame or bragging right. We worked to put on the the best damn festival we could. So all we're asking for is a chance to see that through. That's not too much to ask, is it?"

"You're really serious about this, aren't you?" Sara asked.

George sighed. "Sure looks that way."

"Well, I certainly admire your spirit, but spirit alone won't be enough to gate you past this barrier." Thomas said. "Oh...Rean, what's that light?"

We then noticed a light coming from Rean's ARCUS, then mine started to shine before everyone else's in our group. We took them out and we saw our master quartz shining together. The light is more or less the same as the one the barrier was showing.

Rean then went over to the barrier and placed his hand on it with the ARCUS. We then did the same and it seemed like we were being invited to go in, just as I thought. When we confirmed this, we turned to the others for the principal had something to say.

"It's currently 1940 hours. I'll permit you until 0000 hours to conduct your investigation." He said. "Any later and you won't get enough sleep to put on a rousing concert after all."

"Sir..." Rean replied as our group smiled in relief.

"You deserve the chance to earn that legacy you were talking about." Sara said. "To leave a light for those who'll come after. Go on. I'm not gonna chide you for being rash. Not this time, anyway."

"And may the goddess guide your steps." Thomas added. "Don't forget, too, that discretion is the better part of valor. Retreating isn't always a cowardly option."

I clenched my fists and punched them together. "Alright, time to rock and roll!"

"Be careful in there, everyone!" Towa said. "We'll do whatever we can out here to back you up!"

"I'll leave the engineering building open for the night, so come on over if you need to use the facilities there." George added. "I'll go ask the shops and the cafeteria to keep the lights on for you, too."

"Thank you...all of you." Rean replied.

No more needed to be said, we walked through the barrier with no issue and walked inside to see the main hall had brightened up. We went to the elevator room and we could see an aura around the circle symbol. We all stepped on the elevator and the console had changed too, there was now a seventh floor available.

"So there is a seventh floor?" Alisa asked.

"I knew that sixth floor couldn't possibly be the last." Jusis added.

"Well, it was like I thought, I just had this feeling that we would be back here." I reminded. "I remember saying it last month as well."

"My guess is that the seventh floor holds the key to answering all the questions we have about this place." Rean said. "Well, shall we see what lies beyond?"

"Damn right!" I responded.

Rean pushed the button and we journeyed down to the seventh floor to find an unusual large door at the end.

"This door looks familiar to the one we saw on the fourth floor." I said.

CONFIRMING RELEASE OF THE SIXTH LOCK...POTENTIAL AWAKENED DETECTED...THE TIME HAS COME...COMMENCING THE SECOND TRIAL.

The large door suddenly opened to reveal a portal, but that voice...what the hell was that?!

"Did you all hear that just now?" I asked.

"Yes! We all did." Emma answered.

I looked at Celine, but she shook her head. Obviously, she couldn't say anything in front of everyone else here.

"I'm very curious about this sixth lock and second trail business." Machias said. "Do you think the locks refer to each of the floors we've cleared so far?"

"What's a potential awakener?" Millium asked. "Is it talking to one of us?"

'Well, it can't be me surely. I have the fragmented powers of a demon lord, not a potential awakener.' I thought.

"I can scarcely venture a guess." Laura answered. "But what seems certain is that we're here tonight because we were meant to be here."

"Yeah." Rean agreed before he clutched his chest. Looks like his powers from within are being affected by this.

"A-are you okay?" Alisa asked with worry.

Emma looked at me and nodded before turning to Rean. "It's the mark on your chest, isn't it?"

"Yeah, it is..." Rean answered. "...but how do you know?"

"Call it intuition." Emma then stood in front of us and Celine sat beside her.

'Looks like Emma's gonna take a step forward by herself.' I thought. 'Good on you, girl. I know you can do it.'

"I think it should be quite apparent, but we're heading somewhere no living eyes have seen." She said. "Are you sure you're all prepared?"

"Well, well. You certainly seem to be in the know all about this." Jusis responded.

"And how long has Celine been here?" Elliot asked.

Celine just meowed. But I could already tell what her answer was.

"Back at the start of the year, I know we all had our doubts. But we've made it this far, because we've accepted each other for who we are. And I think being part of Class VII is a big part of that" Rean said. "Even if the world were to stand against us, we'd have each other. The challenges we face, we face together."

"Rean..." Emma said.

"He's right...whatever we have to face, no matter how weak or strong the obstacle is, there is no need to face it alone. We will always have each other...because Class VII is the best freaking damn class there is!" I declared.

Emma smiled. "I may not not always show much in the way of class spirit, but I'm confident Class VII is the finest Erebonia has to offer. Alright, I won't try to dissuade you all. Let's go earn our chance to leave our mark on this academy!"

"That's the spirit, babe! I'm lucky to have fallen for a girl like you."

"Alex..." Emma blushed.

"Damn, you pull no punches at the best of times." Crow said.

We walked through the portal and we found ourselves at a massive wide area, I couldn't even begin where to describe it.

"Wooaaaaaahhh!" Millium said.

"I'd expected to see something that defied explanation, but this is beyond imagination." Machias added.

Laura folded her arms. "Still, this trial is ours to overcome, and overcome it we shall."

"Yeah, you're right." Alisa nodded. "So how about it, Rean? Any words of wisdom from our fearless leader?"

"Huh? What do you want me to say?" Rean asked.

"I may be reading this wrong, but you've seem to have taken a liking to him." I said. "Is there a second Class VII pair in the works?"

"Ah! N-n-no! It's not like that!" Alisa exclaimed.

Rean sighed. "I guess that was payback for earlier during the rehearsals."

I winked. "Bingo, my friend."

Rean eventually got one last message out and Emma insisted to come along, he then picked Alisa, me, Machias, Laura and Gaius. We started our exploration of what could well be the longest and the last floor of this entire schoolhouse. After overcoming the first area, we entered the second part of the floor which was more indoors and had unique switches around.

"Ow!" I felt a slight pain in my head.

"Huh? Are you alright, Alex?" Gaius asked.

"Yeah, just felt a slight pain. The monsters here are not making this easy at all."

Emma sighed whilst Celine was silent before she meowed.

"I know. I'll be careful, I promise." Emma replied.

The exploration of the second area took longer due to the mechanisms behind the switches and how each one reacted to the required weapon attack type. Ones that needed blunt attacks were ideal for me due to my gauntlets.

We soon cleared the way to the third area which was more like the first one, but the coloring and the presence of the magic around was more gold and orange. There was only one very long straight line to travel on. As we got closer, Celine hissed.

'Looks like she can sense something powerful the closer we get.' I thought before getting another headache. "Ngh!"

"Alex?" Emma asked quietly.

"I know...but I need to keep this away for a little longer." I whispered.

We made a quick dash across the very long and narrow path until we reached the other side and the giant door opened. We entered a small hallway with nothing but darkness on the other side as well as an orbal portal that we had seen across the other floors of the schoolhouse.

"That was a gauntlet and a half." I sighed heavily. "But it looks we've made it to the depths in some way."

NOW...REVEAL...UNTO ME THE COLOR OF THY SOULS...

"What was that?" Alisa asked.

"I heard someone talking. Well...perhaps sensed more than heard." Crow answered.

"You heard it, too?" Rean asked.

"It seems as though we're linked even more closely through our ARCUS units now." Emma answered. "I imagine we're getting close now. That area ahead is probably the last."

We walked through the darkness and then noticed a large door with a red sphere in the middle.

"Another door?" Machias asked.

"It's a got a jewel in the center." Alisa said. "No wait, maybe an orb?"

The orb suddenly glowed that booming voice spoke again.

THOU WHO WOULDST BE AN AWAKENER...HERE EXISTS A FRAGMENT OF THE GREAT POWER...IF THOU SEEKEST TO CLAIM IT, PROVE THY WORTH. COMMENCING THE FINAL TRIAL...

"Wait, what is this great power?" Rean asked. "And what final trial?"

Celine hissed.

"Watch out! It's drawing us in!" Emma exclaimed.

We were then blinded by a huge light and felt our bodies being pushed forward, it was for a few moments. But the light then faded away and we opened our eyes to find our surroundings tuned on its head. All around us was a colorless field of sand with countless amounts of swords stuck into the ground.

"What the freaking hell is this?!" I asked in shock. "And why do I feel...hurt inside?"

"Alex..." Emma took my hand.

"Haha, I don't think we're in Trista anymore." Crow said.

'Well, we're definitely not in Kansas either.' I thought. 'My dark power seems to be reacting to this. But why, what does the demon lord's power have to do with this?'

"It feels so empty...so...lonely." Millium said sadly.

Celine suddenly meowed.

"Be careful! It's coming!" Emma warned.

In the center of the sand...a massive pool of black mist appeared and then a giant monster rose from below the mist, revealing itself as a giant black beast with several mists around it...almost like a shadow monster of sorts.

"Well...this is an exciting turn of events! Hahahaha!"

I blinked...my dark power was talking to me...it had been a while since I last heard it.

"To think we would find Loa Erebonius, the Great Black Shadow who served Revelio The Vengeance for centuries!"

Wait...this giant shadow was once a servant of the demon lord?!

"However, it seems fate has changed its form. It has been reborn as The Ashen Power, let's see if your precious friends can defeat it!"

'Oh you'll wait and see, they WILL do it and I will be there with them all the way!'

The giant shadow roared at us and we drew our weapons out.

"Is this it for us?" Alisa asked.

"Ugh...how are we supposed to match this kind of power?" Machias asked.

"Stand tall! We're stronger than our fear!" Laura said, proudly.

Millium laughed. "Looks like I won't need to hold anything back this time. Let's do this, Lammy!"

"This is it, the final trail." Rean said. "We stand before a great darkness, but remember, darkness can't exist where light is. Let's be that light!"

The great shadow roared again and the final battle began. We had to bring anything and everything we had to the table for this one. We took out the smaller shadows with ease before dealing huge damage to the shadow. However, I began to understand why Loa Erebonia was the demon lord's servant. It was taking so much punishment, but it still stood firm. Even our greatest crafts were being tested to the limit.

But we would never give up, not even against such a foe that was this powerful and formidable. I saw my opportunity to deliver the final blow...Glorious Gauntlet...even a monster this intimidating was engulfed in my special craft. The giant shadow stood back and began to falter on one knee before roaring to the black sky.

TERMINATING THE FINAL TRIAL...TAKE HEED, AWAKENER...HERE EXISTS A FRAGMENT OF THE GREAT POWER...THE FLAME AND THE JAWS THAT DEVOUR THE WORLD...

We were then surrounded by a massive flamed circle before we were blinded by the light.

"EEEEK!" Emma sealed.

"Emma! You have to see this through to the end!" A voice exclaimed...was that Celine?

Several moments passed and I opened my eyes, sitting up to see that we were back inside the depths of the seventh floor. I shook my head and stood up. I saw the others that were still down. I helped up Emma and she smiled at me.

"Looks like everyone's okay." Fie said.

"We rushed in and just saw you lying here, and my heart practically jumped out of my chest." Elliot added.

Everyone else began to stir and we noticed the others that had arrived, along with Towa, George and Sara.

"You're all here too." Rean said.

After taking a moment to dust ourselves down, we took a moment to explain.

"What was that we went through?" I asked.

"I believe what we experienced was some sort of vision. Which would mean what we saw wasn't, strictly speaking, real." Emma answered. "But it does seem like in overcoming it, we managed to pass the trial that was mentioned earlier."

"So wait...does that mean the barrier outside just took off?"

"The bell stopped ringing and that field of energy around the building is gone." Towa answered.

"We won't know for sure without a more thorough investigation." George added. "But it looks like the building's gone back to normal, too."

"Well, that's the best news I've heard all night." Rean replied. "So now we can go ahead and have the festival tomorrow, just like it should be, right?"

"That would depend on the time right now." I said. "We were in here for a long while, I wouldn't be surprised if it was 2300 hours by now."

"Close but not close enough, it's actually 2350 hours." Sara corrected. "You achieved your goal with ten minutes to spare. Anyways, since it is close to midnight, I think you all should be marching straight to bed."

We were about to leave when the door behind us moved, we looked to see that the orb had vanished...beyond the door was an extraordinary sight. It was a large room that contained a mechanical armored knight...the likes I had never seen before.

Whatever this thing was...I could tell that this would become a huge involvement, sooner or later...


Next time! Grim news spreads across Erebonia and both Heimdallr and Trista are taken by complete surprise.