The world was hazy, distorted, as if she was playing an old memory in her head, so old that she knew next to nothing about it. Her body felt light, weightless, but her muscles were tense and she knew there was something off, even in her barely coherent state.
She struggled to remember the events prior to this strange predicament, but her mind hit a wall, as if those memories were locked away and currently inaccessible. Instinctively, she began to writhe against the bonds that she was now sure were holding her down, but to no avail.
She faltered for a moment, almost reassured to hear someone else, but still wary.
Who are you?
There was an almost inaudible laugh, amused, yet strangely unnerving.
You have not forgotten your Master, surely.
Confusion filled her mind, an oddly familiar sensation that she could not quite place.
Indeed. You occurred with an… incident, and you have caused much trouble for me, Irissa.
She tried fervently to remember this person who claimed he was her Master, but she drew a blank, mentally flushing in embarrassment.
Do not bother. When they enslaved you to fight for them, they erased your memories so you would not remember your loyalty to me. It is no use.
Anger blinded her for a moment. How dared they! No one made her a mindless minion!
You will have your chance for revenge, Irissa, very soon. But now, I have lost many battles thanks to you, and I must continue to drive them back…
Now she was indignant, furious. She could fight, and she would annihilate them all! She would win back the victories lost, if only to make up for her disloyalty.
Your determination is admirable, but you are weak, and unable to fight.
…But there is another way.
I can channel my powers into you, and give you the strength to exact your revenge on them… but you must first allow me to.
She immediately agreed. There was no price too high, for her vengeance, to prove that she was no servant to be enslaved.
At that moment she felt power flooding her being, and every muscle seized it hungrily, tossing aside her initial unease. It was ridiculously easy to harness the new, limitless power, and even more satisfying to feel it crackling around her, all of it at her beck and call.
You are ready, Irissa. Show them that Chaos will never be defeated. Prove to them that we will reign supreme!
And that would be exactly what she would do.
It had been too long.
Chaos was stirring, and Irissa was nowhere to be found. They began to expect the worst, but steeled themselves. It only meant that the Hero had not been strong enough, and Death had not been lenient as usual. The war was still progressing, and they still had Drakath to battle.
Right now, they had heard of trouble in the North East; of another Chaos Lord, according to their sources. Their newest enemy was more powerful than ever, said to draw power from unknown sources.
Quickly enough, they pieced together a team for the expedition. He had been one of the first to volunteer, a hard look in his gold eyes and his fists clenched in determination. Artix had volunteered as well, along with Valencia and Warlic. The rest stayed behind to guard Battleon and Swordhaven; the group set off at the first opportunity.
They reached their destination in a mere couple of days, and true to the information they received, the area was an absolute mess. But what captured their attention most was the tall, spiraling tower 'armored' by hundreds of rune-crested monsters, imbued with a massive amount of magic, and the ivory sword guarding its entrance.
He had recognized that sword in an instant.
"The Verum Moralis. A symbol of your loyalty to the Side of Good, and your pledge to battle Chaos. Use it with pride, Hero, for it represents the victories awaiting us."
It was now crackling with Chao's energy, and its feel had a melancholy air to it. Anger flashed in his eyes, and similar expressions were reflected on his companions' faces.
"They will pay."
She could feel them approaching, with her senses now clearer than ever. There were hundreds of monsters she could call forth with ease, and in a little while she could finally exact her revenge. The Gladium Vinculis she could summon in an instant, and the weight and strength making it the perfect weapon, far better than the minion's knife she received during her enslavement; although it worked rather well as a guard when properly altered.
The fools. They had been so easy to lure away from their precious cities, and without their allies it would be all too simple to finish them off; it almost took the fun out of it. One by one, they would all be lured here, and soon all their enemies would be put to waste, and Lore would be theirs to claim.
You are doing well, Irissa, but remember my warning. They will try to persuade you. Do not fall for it.
I will not, Master.
Now, all she had to do was wait for the victory to come knocking on her door.
At long last. The portal was open, and they prepared themselves to 'meet' the Chaos Lord.
"Is everyone ready?"
They all nodded towards Artix, and he turned back to the portal, releasing a deep breath.
"Then let's go."
They all stepped through the portal, and froze at the sight.
There she was, sitting upon an ebony throne, a smirk upon her face. Her armor had clearly been Chaorrupted, and the hero in question looked twice as worse. Her once beautiful, icy blue eyes were a bottomless, cruel black, contrasting greatly against gaunt, pale skin that was once a light tan.
She stood and strode towards them, something akin to a mixture of smugness and anger in her shadowy eyes.
"I have been waiting."
Before any of them could respond, she stretched out her hand to her side, and in an instant a wickedly curved blade cracking with dark, foul energy materialized into her waiting grip. Her eyes seemed to gaze at her weapon with satisfaction and anticipation.
Finally! They were just standing there, as if inviting Death to their doorstep. Their demise would be quick and inevitable.
"Irissa!" So at least one of them had found their tongues. "What are you doing? We're your friends!"
Her expression contorted in outrage. How dared they… even now, they were still attempting to lie to her! Did they truly believe she would fall for their trickery a second time?
"Silence!" Her voice was harsh, and her Master's voice echoed her words. "I will not fall for it again!"
Horror crossed with confusion was appallingly evident on their expressions, except for that one silver-haired one… a SoulWeaver, she could tell. Was he the enslaver?
"We are not the liars here, Irissa." He said, his voice low and plagued with an indescribable emotion. "Drakath is."
"You have plenty of nerve," She spat, "insulting my Master this way." Before they had a chance to rebut, she took a step forward, readying herself for the first strike.
"No more stalling. This ends now!"
And the battle had begun.
They were strong, she would give them that. But soon enough three of them were mortally wounded, and had to step out. She left them alone for the moment, focusing her attention on the SoulWeaver. He seemed far more determined than the rest; not something she had expected from them.
But he would be no different. All of them would fall under her blade today, the first of many to come.
"Irissa! Stop this!"
Fool. "Do you really believe that mere words could lead me astray once more? Your little tricks would work better than that –"
She brought the Gladium Vinculis down once more in a vicious strike, but he swiftly dodged it. "– but this time I will claim victory."
"You have!" He shouted, "Many times before! Do you not remember defeating the Lords of Chaos? Being the Hero of Lore?"
She sneered. "All that, I did under the enslavement of you, our enemies! I will make up for my disloyalty by getting rid of you all."
"You have friends – we never enslaved you! You were always meant to be the Hero. Do you not remember me, now? We fought together in Ravenloss!"
She stopped for a moment; predictably, so did he.
"No. I remember none of it! Those memories are mere hindrances, weaknesses. My purpose is far more important."
"Please, Irissa… you have others who value you as an ally, a friend!" He paused, almost hesitant, if not for the expression on his face that said otherwise.
"You have someone… someone who loves you. He never said so –" She froze. "– but he has missed you, all this while."
"Fight! Fight him, and return to us!"
Her mind was spiraling. Her Master's voice echoed forcefully in her head, commanding her to fight and end the battle, but neither of them was in control anymore.
She should not be defying, or even ignoring her Master. It was betrayal, the way she almost, almost, believed what the SoulWeaver had said.
"We're all waiting."
She tried to lift her blade once more, but her muscles were unresponsive with hesitance.
"We need you!"
Her resolve had faltered, and struggling to summon a burst of determination she donned a steely look and prepared to attack…
"I need you."
And then every last ounce disappeared from her being, and the Gladium Vinculis clattered to the ground, dissolving into the air without the power fueling it.
She slowly sank to her knees, and something snapped in her. At that moment she felt a lingering presence wash away, leaving her light-headed and relieved as memories began to flood her head.
His face was the last thing she saw before the world faded into blissful darkness.
Minutes turned into hours, but he stayed vigil outside the healer's, praying, hoping. It seemed rather repetitive, how much waiting had been incorporated into the past few days.
His head shot up, the air leaving his lungs as she stepped out, dressed in a simple robe. Their gazes met for a moment, before she smiled.
It was a sight for sore eyes; her pale lips curved in a soft arch, sapphire eyes dancing with happiness. After what seemed like barely a second, they were locked in embrace, oblivious to the smiles and laughs around them.
Cysero grinned his usual, wacky grin, and nudged Warlic – who clearly did not appreciate the sharp jab to his arm that threatened to once again smash his crystal ball – while commenting on the scene rather loudly.
"Well, it was about time!"