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Golden Sun: Nightmare of Alchemy

Chapter One: Takeru

Takeru panted heavily as he laid his pack down on the bed of reeds. His clothes were soaked with sweat and dried streaks of blood crisscrossed his arm like the lines of a map. He sank to his knees and cradled the wound - a long, painful gash over his left shoulder. It was a miracle it hadn't been his right, or he would have lost the ability to use his sword. Then he could have never gotten away...

Looking into the wound carefully, he sought to close it with his Psynergy, the secret skill that let him transmute his innermost wishes into reality. Cure, he whispered in his mind, and a splash of light overtook the bleeding mess of his shoulder.

But the pain did not subside as he expected, and the wound did not close. As if to make matters worse, the pain suddenly intensified dramatically. Takeru gasped in shock and seized in surprise, clutching more tightly at his wound.

What is happening? The question ran through his head, over and over again. He tried desperately to focus, and found he could not. What is going on? The words echoed through his mind, reverberating off of the walls of his confusion, which seemed to be drawing closer and closer together. He felt as if his mind were being pressed into a tight corner, preventing him from thinking coherently...

With his good hand he scooped up water from the river and splashed it onto his face, onto his shoulder. The blood and water ran together and soaked the side of his tunic. Then he saw, in the reflection at the water's edge, the most terrible thing he could imagine. Hovering in the air above the trees was a swirling black sphere of void. It pulsed, overflowing energy, while electric-blue bolts crackled violently across its surface.

A Psynergy vortex. They trapped me... I fell... I fell for it... Takeru cursed his folly as he felt his eyelids growing heavy. The pain began to dull as he felt himself slide slowly towards unconsciousness.

"Takeru, son of Suzume and Kushinada, we meet again," said a high voice like cold steel. "I confess that the circumstances are less than ideal. I had hoped to meet you as a worthy adversary... I didn't expect that you would flee."

"You... You came at me with a dozen men," Takeru spat through heavy breaths. He looked up to see the familiar dark uniform he had come to recognize as belonging to the Tuaparang. Behind the Tuaparang leader stood a squad of soldiers. "No honor... In such a fight... Nor dishonor in leaving it..."

"You really shouldn't have refused us when we requested permission to come aboard your ship," continued the Tuaparang commander. "But your failure to comply with our requests, which, let's be honest, were hardly unreasonable..."

"I have a mission... You can't... Stop me..." Takeru rasped. The strength was draining from his body, but not even the most terrible Psynergy vortex could take his defiance. "I know... What you people are..."

"Do you? Well, that puts you in a bit of a... predicament, now, doesn't it?"

Takeru looked up to see the grin on the Tuaparang commander's face. She was beautiful, uncommonly attractive... But her lovely pale face and shining aquamarine eyes somehow radiated malevolence.

Takeru dragged himself off the ground and drew his sword from its sheath on his back. The effort was exhausting and he swayed on the spot, but he would not simply accept his own oncoming death.

"I will not... Abide you idly... And even with my... Dying breath... I will fight you, adepts of shadow!" Takeru raised his voice to a fevered, valiant pitch as he lunged forward. There were more of them than he could hope to stop, but that hardly mattered.

The Tuaparang commander laughed, and her peals of laughter cut the air like shards of ice. She lazily pointed one perfect hand at Takeru and stopped him cold. Dark spirits swarmed the air around Takeru, a cadre of swirling shadows clutching at him and holding him in place.

Their demonic, incessant laughter filled Takeru's ears and filled him with dread.

"Hmm, maybe you're not so tough after all...?" The lilt in her voice gave Takeru the sharp impression of a cat playing with a trapped mouse.

Frozen like this, the adrenaline that had coursed through his veins just a moment ago began to give way. With no outlet for his defiance, he was bereft of all hope, all reason to fight on. He felt his strength drain faster into the vortex.

But then-

Continue to Chapter Two.