“Fight it…You have to hold on!”
That was the last her final ally spoke. Then Ryne collapsed, like all the others, struck down by Emet-Selch’s dark bolts of magic.
And Rheika Aliapoh, ostensible Warrior of both Light and Darkness, was too overwhelmed by the former to do anything about it.
The damnable, poisonous light was tearing her apart from the inside. All she could hear was cracking, her soul reaching the shatter point. She’d been helpless as she watched the Ascian strike her friends down one by one for the crime of wanting to defend their friend, or of wanting to simply live. She vomited a brilliantly blazing sludge, and then everything went white. The darkness of their surroundings faded, and soon she could see nothing. The Light had finally won out. Soon she would turn, and if her friends weren’t already dead, her twisted and mutated form that would arise would surely finish the job.
And then, mercifully, the pain stopped. She was still weak, but the constant wracking agony was gone.
Rheika tried to stand, but the most she could manage was propping herself up on one bent arm.
“If you had the strength to take another step, could you do it?”
Her head immediately jerked towards the voice. Ardbert was here, standing not two fulms from her prone form. Of course he was. The two had been bound together since she’d arrived on the First moons ago. Seemed only fitting for him to be here at the end.
He continued to stare off into some imaginary distance. “Could you save our worlds?”
Rheika was struck by the quiet question. Of course she could, but she didn’t. It was over. Her strength was spent, the Echo seemingly worn out. The Light had finally overpowered their combined strength. What more did he think she had?
And so she ruefully replied “What, all by myself?”
She expected Ardbert to encourage her, maybe even yell at her to dig deep and get up or some ridiculous platitude. As if she hadn’t been trying.
Instead he looked at her and chuckled. While Rheika pondered what the hell that could possibly mean, he unstrapped the axe from his back…and handed it toward her.
“Take it. We fight as one!”
His…spectre, whatever you could call it, began to shimmer and fade into motes of aether. Oh gods, was he? He was. He was rejoining their souls. She’d long suspected the only reason the two could converse was that they were both fragments of some ancient, and now he was adding the rest of his considerable strength to her own.
It was working.
Elements of the darkened vision of the world began fading back into her view as the Light’s dominion over her was forced back by their combined strength. The aether that leaked from her every pore now fled skyward as her body was healed and strengthened by the joining of souls. As she stood, she spoke, but it was not her melodic silvery voice that emerged, but Ardbert’s deep rumble.
“This world is not yours to end. This is our future. Our story”
Emet-Selch was cowering from the blaze of light that still encased her, but stared at her as if seeing a ghost.
“No….it can’t be…” he uttered as he flailed at the image before him, as if trying to sweep it away. It did nothing, of course, but the glare that surrounded Rheika finally dissipated.
“Bah, a trick of the light! You are a broken husk, nothing more! How can YOU hope to stand against me alone?”
Rheika simply smiled at him, unmoving otherwise. Because for a brief moment she hadn’t been glaring at Emet-Selch with the promise of a fight. In that moment, she’d seen who was standing behind him.
“We stand together!
Emet-Selch spun. G’raha Tia leaned heavily on his staff, ragged and nearly spent from the wound he had taken but moments ago.
“How did…I’m surprised you can stand at all!” Emet-Selch’s composed voice was fraying.
“I could not well leave matters half-finished.” replied G’raha. His expression darkened, staring at Emet-Selch as though he were a particularly stubborn monster that he’d just solved the riddle of how to remove.
Which, to be fair, he was.
“Let expanse contract, eon become instant!” As G’raha spoke the words, his strength seemed to flow back into him, and he brandished his now-glowing staff towards the Ascian.
Seven glowing circles appeared, surrounding Rheika, alight with various glyphs. She stared, amazed, recognizing them as Allagan. Wait, was he….were these summoning circles??
“Champions from beyond the Rift, HEED MY CALL!”
As he slammed the tip of his staff against the darkened crystal that made up the floor upon which they stood, the circles erupted in blue-white light, pulsing with an intensity. Rheika could only look, amazed. How was G’raha doing this? They weren’t anywhere NEAR the tower! Was he still connected, even this far away? Or had he always been this powerful?
“DAMN YOU! DAMN YOU ALL!”
Her musings were interrupted by Emet-Selch’s voice, which had lost all smugness and all sense of composure. His carefully crafted plan was once again coming apart. Rheika stared him down, an absolutely feral grin on her face.
“It ends this day. One way or another, it ends!” Her own voice again. Strange. Guess the merging was complete. She certainly felt as strong as she’d been before. Maybe more so.
“Very well. Let us proceed to your final judgement!” Emet-Selch strode forward, gesturing with his usual flair for the melodramatic. “The victor shall write the tale, and the vanquished become its villain!”
The columns of light dissipated with the sound of shattering glass, and in their place stood…people. Two stood in front of her, one a dark blue-skinned Elezen, purple and red hair in thick braids, absolutely shredded and dressed like one of the monks from Rhalgr’s Reach back home. The other looked like a Xaela, though one with the most crimson skin she’d ever seen, with a massive axe strapped to her back and armor that showed off her arms and shoulders.
Rheika turned to regard the massive Roegadyn male to her left. He was…not wearing much, something that looked like the Raen of Sui-no-Sato were fond of wearing. Not that she minded eating the eye candy, wait, was that a star globe he was pulling off of his back? Well, wouldn’t be the first Roegadyn she knew who was good at astrology.
She looked to her right. This one was a Hyur, and one who looked like he’d be right at home in Ala Mhigo, judging by those face tattoos and olive skin. Curiously, he was also dressed like….wait was that Doman shinobi gear? She barely registered the similarity to gear she also owned when the Hyur grabbed his head and stumbled, wincing in pain.
“Lash!” a deep voice bellowed behind her. “You all right?”
“The aether…it’s…it’s so much light and darkness…” the Hyur replied. Damn, he even sounded Ala Mhigan. “I need to….”
A brief flash of light, and his attire changed. Gone were the shinobi vestments, replaced by what the actual fuck, this guy was wearing garments identical to X’rhun Tia’s. Even the rapier and focus he drew were identical. “Ah, that’s better” he intoned. She got it. Being a Red Mage was all about balancing your own aether, the training clearly had helped the guy deal with sensitivity to ambient stuff. But where the heck had he learned all this?
She turned behind her to see what other weirdness G’raha had brought in to help her….and nearly screamed with joy. Behind her were her friends, her fellow Warriors. The Old Man, Fearless, and Dahkar. Oh gods, she was so twelvesdamned happy. She’d never really been alone all these months, the Scions had been with her every step of the way, but back home it had always been the four of them together against everything the primals, the Ascians, the Garleans, and everyone else could throw at them. The Scions knew how hard they fought, but they couldn’t really know. She’d had to bear all of it alone on the First. But not anymore.
Now they were reunited. And the Ascian in front of them stood about a snowball’s chance in Ul’dah.
She quickly looked her friends over for signs of change in the moons they’d been separated. Dahkar’s dragoon armor looked different, but that was unmistakably his enchanted Gae Bolg spear. Franks had a new coat, but he’d kept that same ridiculous top hat he’d been given by his tonberry Scholar mentor. He tipped it her way with a smile on his bearded face as he summoned his fairy companion. Fearless….oh Twelve that was definitely a Thavnairian dancing costume she was wearing. She noticed Rheika blatantly ogling her and turned as crimson as the Au Ra, drawing the strange circular weapons she wore at her waist.
Oh, she had so many questions. But first….
“Hey, who’s this asshole?” came a voice behind her. Rheika turned back. The Elezen was looking her way, confusion on her face.
“His name’s Emet-Selch. He’s an Ascian, a dark sorcerer that….”
“We know what Ascians are. But…Emet-Selch?” She turned to look at the Xaelan woman. “Didn’t we kill that fucker? Like…permanently?”
“Clearly this horse dung heap is too foolish to know when to stay dead!” the Xaelan replied. Her voice was incredibly familiar. Rheika had absolutely heard it, or something like it, before. “But it matters not! My soul burned bright that day, and now it gets to do so again!”
Burned bright, that was it! This lady sounded almost exactly like Sadu!
Emet-Selch’s anger pervaded his voice. “I know naught of you, and I care naught how you know of me. So let us cast aside all these titles and pretense, and reveal our true faces to one another!” Darkness began to surround his form and that damnable red glyph appeared over his face.
“I AM HADES! He who shall awaken our brethren from their dark slumber!”
He raised a single arm skyward, and dark energy overtook him, radiating red and black outward. Rheika stepped forward, standing between the strange Elezen and Au Ra. She looked over towards the latter, who smiled viciously back. Damn, she even smirked like Sadu.
“I shall cover the left” the woman intoned.
“Right side’s fine by me!” Rheika replied, drawing her gunblade.
Emet-Selch, or Hades now she supposed, reappeared in his true form, a monstrous thing with some extra arms and swathed in pitch black robes. Taunting them about their so-called strength, he attacked.
The battle was easily the most fierce she’d ever fought. Hades unleashed magic at them she’d never encountered from any of the Ascians she’d fought before. But she had her friends, her family with her again. And the extra helpers G’raha had brought were incredible. They gelled as a fighting unit almost immediately, knowing and expecting where the others would be and knowing where to go without prompting to avoid Hades’ barrage of magic and to bombard the shadows he summoned to assault them.
They were winning when Emet-Selch stabbed his own body with the staff he carried. His form swelled, the massive extra arms growing longer and ending in bladed digits. He grew wings made of the masks of other ancients. And the power he unleashed upon them seemed to grow tenfold.
Eventually it seemed like he would win, overwhelming them with pure darkness. Rheika unleashed the power of the Echo within her to overcome it. She watched as her friends, and curiously the others G’raha had brought to the battle, called forth not the toxic, tainted light she’d become so familiar with, but the warm radiance of the Mothercrystal. Together they broke free of the chains of darkness Hades had wrapped them in and let loose with everything they had, until finally Hades’ massive form shuddered and flailed.
“You…you have no power over me!” he wailed.
His form began discorporating into darkness, surrounding the platform on which they had fought, obscuring their surroundings. How the platform stayed lit, Rheika couldn’t begin to guess. Everyone was looking around, weapons ready, waiting for Hades to return.
Minutes passed, and nothing. Cautiously, they all relaxed.
Rheika reattached her gunblade to the harness on her back and ran for her friends. Dahkar ran alongside her, swapping his spikey dragoon armor for some much less dangerous robes as he did. They met Franks and Fearless in the middle, smashing into the biggest group hug.
“Oh, Twelve, I missed you all so much!” she exclaimed, tears falling freely from her face.
Fearless released the others and wrapped her in a hug. “We missed you too, Rheika. Your little pixie friend has been keeping us updated with what’s going on, and we’ve been worried sick to death. It’s so damn good to finally see you.”
They hugged for a long time, then Rheika ran a hand across Fearless’ exposed abs. “Speaking of finally seeing you, I have QUESTIONS about this, lady.”
Fearless released her and backed away, blushing furiously. Dahkar and Franks cackled. Wrapping her arms around herself, she replied “I uh….I ran into a Thavnairian dance troupe in Limsa. The Principal…she talked me into joining. Insisted I’d be good at it, and that it was a dance for battle, for supporting allies. You saw what I could do. It’s been really useful!”
Rheika turned to Dahkar. “Let me guess, the principal’s totally hot.”
Dahkar chuckled. “Yep. So’s her fellow student.”
Franks chimed in “We haven’t managed to catch them performing yet, they’ve apparently been touring all over Eorzea fighting this manifestation of the Void called the Totentanz, but we DID run into them when they were preparing a trip to Kugane. You should have heard the student, Ranaa, going on about Fearless. She’s got it bad.”
All three of them chuckled as Fearless sputtered “You don’t know what you’re talking about, she’s just proud of me!”
Rheika forestalled any further teasing by hugging them all again, tears still streaming down her face. They just stood together for a brief second before another voice broke in. “I’m sorry, did I hear you right? I could have sworn you mentioned Limsa Lominsa?”
The quartet broke their hug. The Hyur Red Mage was standing there, confusion evident on his face. His Roegadyn friend was standing beside him, a hand on his shoulder.
Rheika stepped forward. “Yeah, I did, why?”
He looked around. “Where exactly ARE we?”
“Oh, uh, so it’s a long story, but the world got broken up into shards a long time ago and…”
The Roegadyn interrupted “We know about the shards and the Source and all that. Which one are we on?”
“Oh, you know about that already? Cool. So, this is the First, actually”
“You’re lying!” the Elezen monk’s voice rang out. Everyone turned to regard her. She and her Au Ra friend were glaring at Rheika. “The godsdamned Ascians fucked up the First, everyone knows that. Turned it into the Void.”
“What? That was the Thirteenth!” Dahkar countered. Who the hell were these people?
Everyone began talking over each other, getting louder in an attempt to shout the others down, before finally a voice bellowed above the din “WAIT!”
Everyone stopped. Franks had his hands held up. “Okay, let’s set some clarity here. Where exactly are you lot from?”
“The Source” replied the four strangers, all immediately eyeing each other with confusion.
“Name of the realm you fight to protect?”
“Eorzea…” they again responded, slightly out of sync with each other this time.
Rheika chimed in. “And the order you all belong to?”
“No way in hells you’re expecting me to believe you’re all Scions,” the Roegadyn replied angrily. “I’ve never met or even heard of any of you.” His Hyur compatriot seemed too stunned to speak.
Rheika turned back to her friends. “Oldman? Any idea what the hells is going on?”
Franks was already thinking, she’d seen that faraway stare enough times to know his mind was already processing math in his head. “Maybe.” he responded. “But I need my Grimoire”
He snapped his fingers, light overtaking him for a brief second. The blue coat, aethercell-lined gloves, and top hat had vanished, replaced by a dark black jacket and tie, monocle, and armored gauntlets that he’d acquired from some unlucky garlean soldiers in Doma. The “grimoire” he referred to wasn’t a book at all, but an Ironworks version of a tomestone, really. He already had it in hand and was thumbing through equations on the screen.
“I mean….Mealvaan’s Gate has theorized about the idea of multiple worlds for years, the math has always seemed to add up, but no one’s ever come up with a way to try and measure any of the theoretical energy or aether that would prove it. When we learned about the shards, I think we all just kind of assumed we’d found the inevitable end result. But based on what I’m hearing here, that’s clearly not right. Extrapolating from your own experiences here, it seems likely the other shards would have culturally evolved differently from the Source, yet our allies are mentioning names and places unique to it. I can only conclude we’re looking at an alternate universe…or maybe universes, given that the ladies here don’t seem to recognize these gents either.”
The Elezen looked angrily confused “The hells is an ‘alternate universe’?”
Franks turned to her “Well, the original theory posited that…actions that generated far reaching consequences for great numbers of souls would create a branching line of time….one branch where the action had the intended result, and another where it failed. Both timelines would continue to exist independent as a separate universe, neither knowing the other existed. But that was before the math was fully calculated and we realized that if we were correct, it supported no more than around 12-15 potential universes before the energy numbers got…catastrophic. Again, given the number of shards we KNOW exist, we felt this confirmed the theory. Based on your presence and what you’ve told us… well I doubt we all have the time or knowledge to share our full knowledge of the history of….our Eorzeas to see what might be different, what might have caused them to exist, but exist they must, our presence is proof of that.”
The Roegadyn male suddenly lifted his hand, glancing at his palm. “I think you’re right about one thing. Our time here is not long. I can feel the hold of the calling that brought me here slowly slipping away. Guess Raha wanted to avoid us getting yanked back home.”
“Which means you’ll be alone again. I’m sorry Rheika.” Dahkar regarded her sadly.
“If the way you got here is anything like how we got to the First, G’raha should be able to open the path between here and the Source so you can travel by aethernet. It won’t get the Scions back, but you should be able to travel between them.” the Hyur said, smiling reassuringly.
Rheika smiled back and stepped closer to him. “Okay, I have to ask, you’re clearly a damn good Red Mage, but when you got here I could have sworn you were wearing shinobi garb. Was I right?”
He laughed “You were! Are you also one?”
“Yes! To both! Don’t tell me you’ve got an Oboro and a X’rhun Tia in your Eorzea too!”
“Oh, that’s incredible. I mean, I’m Ala Mhigan, which I guess is obvious if you have an Ala Mhigo too, so I was kinda happy to learn a style of magic with such strong ties to home, but…well I’m sure you noticed the pain when I got here. My ability to handle magic…it’s a bit unstable. The balance we gotta maintain…it helps me with it. I’m Lashen, by the way. Lashen Ormand.”
“Rheika Aliapoh. Thanks for answering the call. It means a great deal to me.”
“Oh, no way I was gonna ignore it. After all, some other souls answered it for me and Blanfyr. This is Blanfyr, by the way.” He gestured to his Roegadyn compatriot. “Don’t mind his garb, he thinks normal clothes are stifling.”
“Oh I don’t mind at all.” Rheika replied with a leer.
Blanfyr laughed. “Sorry, lass. You’re not my type. Missing the right…equipment, shall we say”
Rheika shrugged. “Ah well. At least you’ve got good ideas about clothing!” She turned to look at Fearless, who’d been slowly approaching the trio, and gave her a sultry appraising look. “I wish my Roegadyn had similar beliefs more often!”
Fearless shook her head ruefully, then flashed white a brief moment which faded to reveal that she was now clad in a set of voluminous teal-green robes. She reached behind her to retrieve the star globe attached to her back, letting it hover above her hands. She directed a smile Blanfyr’s way. “Do you have a Jannequinard, and is yours just as…” she trailed off.
“Insufferable? Pompous? Yes, indeed! Ha! Good to see another Sea Wolf master of the Deck!”
“Your Mothercrystal had the good sense to bless a Warrior of the Steppe too, I see!”
Dahkar turned from where he’d been watching Rheika and Fearless speak with the others. The crimson skinned Xaela and her Duskwight friend had approached him. “Indeed. Thanks for your help. You fought well. Better than, actually.”
“I am Dotharl, you’d best believe it was ‘better than’! But tell me, what tribe are you of?”
Dahkar shook his head sadly, “I don’t know. When I was but a babe, the tribe stumbled into a nest of monsters of some kind. We weren’t numerous, and they slaughtered us. My mother took me and fled to safety, and then took me from the Steppe altogether. She made her way to Eorzea and came to live in the Black Shroud. I was raised there. She never told me our tribe’s name, nor of their ways. Wanted us to fit in with the people of our new home. My first real memory of the Steppe, of other Xaela, is from less than a year ago, when I went there looking for Hien.”
She crossed her arms.”Hrm. Tragic, but understandable. Your mother doubtless knew that death was the likely outcome for her and you. But then by what are you called, if not your tribe?”
“Growing up, I was simply Dahkar. My mother kept only one keepsake: my father’s spear. I know naught what it was made from or what treatments were done to it, but the haft was almost pitch black. When I joined the guild in Gridania, they asked for a family name. I didn’t know what to put. Miounne, bless her, took pity on me. She told me that some signed up with an epithet in lieu of a family name. She took one look at the weapon on my back and suggested ‘Darkspear’ I’ve been that ever since.”
She considered. “Hrm. Well met, then, Dahkar Darkspear. I’m Toragana Dotharl. I too left the Steppe for a time, though not for your reasons. But you said you went back recently for Hien? Were you helping to liberate Doma from the Garleans as well?”
He nodded. “Yes! Was yours also intent on winning the Naadam? We fought for the Mol. I imagine you must’ve allied with the Dotharl instead?”
“Nay, Hien would not be dissuaded from breaking his word to the girl, Cirina. So instead, my fellow Warriors of Light and I ventured to the Dotharl encampment on our own. My sister had become khatun. I proposed allying with the Mol against the Oronir and their Buduga lapdogs and she could rule the steppe with them. Naturally, we fought. I won. They stood by us at the Naadam. The Oronir scum stood no chance.”
“Did you say your sister was khatun? You’re Sadu Dotharl’s sister?”
Toragana’s expression shifted to a feral grin. “I see you know her, then!”
“Oh yes. I met her before the Naadam began, but unlike you, we don’t have a family connection, so we fought them as much as the Oronir. Don’t remember seeing anyone with your skin color in the camp though, nor meeting any family of hers.”
“Your universe, I believe your friend called it, has my sister but not me? It sounds shit.”
Dahkar threw his head back, laughing uproariously. One he regained his composure, he turned to regard the Elezen woman. “My apologies, I shouldn’t have ignored you so long. You are?”
Toragana cleared her throat. “Ah, yes. Dahkar Darkspear, may I introduce Veilette Lis, my battle-sister and fellow Warrior of Light. She helped me acclimate when I came to Eorzea.”
Veilette reached out to shake Dahkar’s hand. “Charmed. I’m from the Shroud too, by the way. I hope you got less of the whole ‘you won’t succumb to the will of the Elements so therefore we can treat you like chocobo shite’ than I did.”
Dahkar grimaced. “We did not. That’s how Rheika and I met, actually. The Wood Wailers didn’t really give much of a shite that we were registered with the Guild, I wasn’t Forestborn and she was…well, a Keeper of the Moon, that seemed to be all the justification they needed to make our lives hell.”
She hissed in reply. “Yeah, that sounds all too fucking familiar. Let me guess, they don’t dare touch YOU anymore, you’re a Warrior of Light, and they try to keep it out of your sight, am I right?”
“I wish you were not, but yes. Rheika’s half-convinced the ‘elementals’ are actually some kind of primal. When she gets REALLY angry at the Wood Wailers or the Hearers abusing their power, she talks about trying to kill it.”
“Hrm…you know that’s not a bad idea!”
Suddenly all three of them began glowing. All three looked down to see the summoning glyphs had reappeared beneath their feet. Their time, it seemed, was up.
Dahkar looked back to the two women and smiled. “Lovely to meet you both! Give my regards to your Lord Hien, and tell him to stop holding back and just dive in where Cirina’s concerned, will you?”
Veilette looked perplexed. “Wait, did you say LORD Hien? Your Hien is a MAN?” A column of light emerged from their glyphs, rising skyward, and their forms went with it back to their home.
Dahkar turned to see that Blanfyr and Lashen had also similarly vanished. He, Franks, and Fearless would not be far behind them. They collapsed around Rheika in a final hug.
“We’ll see ya soon, lass.” Franks said to her.
“Be well, little sis!” added Fearless, tears in her eyes again.
“I love you all!” Rheika replied.
Their circles encased them in light, and she had to shut her eyes from the brilliance. When she opened them again, they were gone.
Wiping a few last tears away, she had a look around. Complete darkness still surrounded her, save for the small platform of purple stone. Was it still solid dark aether, like what she’d stood on before?
A voice rang out in the darkness. “I…will…not…yield!” Dark energy rippled in that inky blackness, and Ascian masks of all shapes and sizes emerged into her view.
“Should I surrender this fight, what will become of it all? What will become of our triumphs? Our hopes? Our…our despair?
The voice had become echoing and discordant. “What of this anguish which yet burns in my breast, even after the passing of eons?”
Rheika looked around, searching for any sign of him. Hells, was it not over? Did the summoning fade too soon?
Was…was she going to die alone, after all?
A final mask appeared, and the massive form of Hades coalesced once more from the darkness. “No, no, no! I WILL NOT LET IT ALL BE FOR NAUGHT!”
It moved in to attack her again. Rheika went for her gunblade….
A cracking of the darkness, revealing light behind it…and Thancred was there. “ENOUGH, DAMN YOU!”
The massive limbs moved to strike at him, but he was simply too quick, dodging the swipe and running down the massive arm. With one arm he tossed a crystal of white auracite into the air, and with the other, his gunblade cut it to shards, each embedding itself into the Ascian’s horrifying form.
A noise behind Rheika made her turn. The Scions had gotten through. All of them poured their aether into the Auracite shards. Some shattered, others grew and grew until a massive spike of light impaled Hades right in the center of his chest.
“NOW! STRIKE WITH ALL THEY MIGHT!”
But Urianger was wrong. She knew it now. She wasn’t striking with all of her might.
She was striking with the might the Ascian had given her. With the might he’d polluted her soul with in the hopes of turning her from hero to fiend.
She seized that might now. It obeyed her immediately. She laughed at the very idea that it had once dared to overtake her. What did she ever have to fear from it?
Hades had the spike of light now in the grasp of his enormous claws. WIth a roar from the depths of the void, he shattered it.
But he was wounded, and as he listed forth darkness poured from him, overtaking the light of the platform.
Rheika reared back, forming the light into a weapon. But what?
An image came to her mind. Ardbert’s axe. Well, he’d told her to take it, hadn’t he?
At her command, the light took the shape, and she hurled it.
The darkness almost overtook it, but the light pulsed. Again. Finally it shattered and pierced through, and everything went white.
When her vision returned, she stood before Emet-Selch, his humanoid form…with a massive hole in his chest.
She could see the axe embedded in the ground…through him.
He pulled back his hood and looked to her. “Remember us….remember that we once lived.”
She nodded. What else was there to say?
He smiled, perhaps the first time she’d ever seen him with one that wasn’t an arrogant smirk, and became nothing more than a cloud of aether motes that faded as fireworks.
Rheika Aliapoh, Warrior of Light and Darkness, closed her eyes.
It was over.