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Golden Sun: Nightmare of Alchemy

Chapter Three: Elevi
by Kirigishi

Light...Where was the light? Takeru reached for it, but nothing came. A soft, sweet voice called to him in the darkness, pulling him towards the surface. Who was it? His mother? His sister? His aunt, the great Lady Uzume? Takeru's eyes fluttered open, and immediately he was greeted by the warm glow of candlelight. Slowly the image of a young, fair-skinned girl came into focus. She sat by the bed, gently running her fingers through her long, silky white hair. A thin, blue robe covered her entire figure, the sleeves leaving just enough room to reveal pale and slender wrists. When the girl noticed the young warrior staring curiously at her, she dropped her hands to her lap and offered a friendly smile back in his direction.

"I see you have awakened," she said in a soothing tone.

"I...suppose so," Takeru managed through gritted teeth as an attempt to sit up sent fresh waves of pain down the left side of his body. The girl laid her hand against his uninjured right shoulder and urged him to lie back down, but the young warrior would not listen. Takeru hated feeling weak, defeated, useless. And yet he found that his present condition was a reality he simply could not escape. Almost every inch of his torso was covered in bandages, and the layers of cloth over his shoulder, dyed red by the oozing blood, stood out like a crimson rose in a sea of white. Takeru clenched his fists as another burst of pain shot through him, causing an agonized cry to leave his parched lips. When the pain had finally subsided, he cleared his throat and tried his luck at a few more words. "It's funny, isn't it? My father told me to always be on my guard, to treat strangers as enemies until they have proven themselves otherwise. And yet..."

"Is the shelter I have provided for you not proof enough?" the girl interjected calmly.

"A name wouldn't hurt."

"That is only fair, I suppose. I am Elevi, niece of the wandering warrior Azrael--the man who brought you here. At the moment, we are in an underground base about five miles west of the river where my uncle first found you. We were not able to put as much distance between ourselves and the Tuaparang as we would have liked, but this was the best we could do considering your deteriorating condition at the time."

Takeru nodded slightly, though the gesture was more a result of pure exhaustion than it was a sign of interest and understanding. The young warrior's eyes were half-closed now, his russet-colored hair falling loosely across his face as his weary body threatened to drag him back into the realm of unconsciousness. Damn it, Takeru, stay awake, he ordered himself. He could hear the quiet footsteps of someone steadily approaching, and moments later, he found his attention turned exclusively to the calm yet commanding presence which now filled the room. Azrael.

Takeru forced himself back to his senses. A thousand questions immediately swarmed his mind, all clambering for the chance to be spoken aloud. In the end, however, only one made it out: "Why didn't you kill her?"

Azrael chuckled. "You certainly don't waste any time, do you, young man?"

"The name's Takeru," the boy replied.

"Very well then, Takeru. I will tell you why," began Azrael. "War is not some kind of game, as I'm sure you are well aware. People kill, and then they get killed for having killed others. It's a rather vicious cycle, wouldn't you say? And the thing is, we don't actually know who we're killing. Sure, they're the enemy. But what are their true motives? What would be the consequences of their failure? Who, back home, would be forced to suffer as a result of our uncontained anger and hatred? Those are the kinds of questions I considered when I made my decision to never again deal the finishing blow."

"So you're just going to let the Tuaparang multiply?" Takeru shouted in disbelief.

"We've been following them for about a year now, trying to find a way to halt their growth without causing unnecessary amounts of bloodshed," Elevi explained. "Unfortunately...things have not g--"

The last words were drowned out by a horrific screeching sound from above. The earthen ceiling began to tremble violently, sending loose rocks crashing down into the chamber. Takeru shrieked in pain as a sizeable slab of earth pounded into his left shoulder, tearing open the wound and causing fresh drops of blood to spurt out.

"Damn it! How the hell did they find us? I swear I didn't leave a single trace of blood on the way here," Azrael shouted over the deafening roar from outside.

"The pack..." Takeru mumbled as he struggled to regain control of his breathing. "I left...The pack by the river...They must have used it to track my scent..."

"Oh, lovely," Azrael muttered.

"Well, there's no time to worry about that now!" Elevi exclaimed, bolting to her feet. "Here they come!"

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