Next thing I know, I’m in Krystoff’s arms. He looks down at me in equal parts relief and horror. I can already feel what he’s reacting to. My good hand flies up to cover the offending blemish.
JUN: I know. I had to. I was going to die otherwise.
It would seem exchanging my left eye for just enough energy to keep living still didn’t fully repair the mangled body Angkit left me with, but I suppose I didn’t expect it to. An eye is a small sacrifice in the grand scheme of things, though I already find myself disoriented by its loss.
But I don’t have the time to sort my new bodily situation out; what matters is that I’m not one foot in the grave anymore, though moving the left half of my body seems to be a… difficult task.
KRYSTOFF: I’m just glad you’re okay. I’m—I had no idea that the talisman… …Rotys’lav gave it to me in childhood and said it was all Angkit left behind. I thought it was just a memento.
REGENALD: I do not think even Rotys’lav knew…
JUN: I wouldn’t apologize for it just yet.
I prop myself upright against his chest and take in our surroundings. The castle is still caving in, worsened by the fact that three incredibly powerful creatures are engaging in a fight to the death now. I see that Kaguyos was distracted from us for as long as he was because it looks like Shope, the jackalope man from earlier, has been holding him off. Shope’s robes are torn and bloodied, and one of his antlers have been broken, but he’s still mobile which is a feat in and of itself.
Angkit’s form still seems to be stabilizing… even with half of my flesh under her jurisdiction, she struggles to maintain physicality. She’s like a person that’s been dissolved into a cloud of smoke, wisps curling and dancing around her face in an attempt to solidify her features. Kaguyos is fixated on her but has yet to lash out at her. He focuses his energy on deflecting Shope.
JUN: Your mother might be our last ditch effort in stopping Kaguyos. But how is she… still alive?
REGENALD: It would seem the young master’s dearest mother tricked Kaguyos into marriage, faked her own death, and stripped herself of humanity in exchange for some very potent, very dangerous magic.
KRYSTOFF: She had a vision that Kaguyos would destroy Duen and earth alike, so she summoned and seduced him in order to infiltrate this world and grow powerful behind his back. She’s a real apparition among apparitions now.
Something occurs to him.
KRYSTOFF: That immense energy surge we sensed this week… It was Angkit, not Kaguyos, wasn’t it? Angkit was the one preparing a strike.
REGENALD: Seems like.
JUN: Wow. Your mom is cool, Krystoff.
Krystoff shifts, looking conflicted. He readjusts his hold on me a little.
KRYSTOFF: I would have liked to fucking know she was secretly alive all this time, but. Yes. She is… an atrocity. In the most flattering sense of the word.
Angkit seems to finally gain her land legs. She strikes a stance and sends out her first attack, a sharp, black projection not too unlike the ones that Kaguyos keeps using. He deflects it easily with his own, but it splinters off in a dozen branching directions, and most of the splinters succeed in stabbing him.
Though it doesn’t seem to wound him too deeply, it does surprise him enough that he turns his attention off of Shope, who looks like he sorely needed the reprieve.
Shope hobbles over to our place in the entryway, using his staff to aid a limp.
SHOPE: …I’m afraid I must take my leave here. I’ve done what I could.
KRYSTOFF: You fought hard, Shope. Thank you. You’re the only one who stayed.
SHOPE: I was not. I was just the only one lucky enough to survive out of those who stayed.
He closes his eyes for a moment, perhaps to honor those who fell.
SHOPE: And can I do anything for you two? Jun? You look to be… in difficult condition. And Krystoff, your energy…
JUN: Mend your own wounds, Shope. I’ve taken care of myself as best I could.
KRYSTOFF: I’m physically uninjured, just not exactly battle-ready is all. I don’t have much left in me, but…
He keeps his arms around me but gestures for Regenald to direct a small trickle of energy to whatever leg injury is ailing Shope. Shope opens his mouth to protest, probably to tell Krystoff to save his energy, but the black plumes sinking into his flesh seem to ease his pain significantly. He stands a little straighter, leans a little less heavily on his staff.
SHOPE: Thank you, Krystoff. You two are very strong. I know you only just met me, but I hope I will see you both in the Meyod region someday.
Krystoff nods his assent, and Shope takes off with an uneven sprint.