Chapter 21:

The Edgelord of the Apocalypse

Face of Eternity : The Star and the Rose

When we were outside we saw that the funnel cloud was getting violent. Dark energy was churning around it like arms mixing up an evil soup.

“I told you this wasn’t finished.” That was Melpomene’s voice. She was floating on her broomstick above our heads.

“Not now, witch!” Indena growled. “No time for you! We have to kill that demon.”

“For who can kill death?” She repeated her words from before. “It is the spawn of Cassana. It is how the universe is balanced.”

“What are you spitting out, witch?”

“That thing you refer to as a ‘demon,’ cannot be killed so simply. It was created by the god of life and death to balance those very same attributes.”

Cassana was the god of life and death. I remember seeing something about him a year or so ago. Although, he was called Xan by Hobgoblins. But if Cassana had control over this demon, why did he send it here?

“So, why’d the god of life and death tell that thing to attack here?” Indena asked.

“He didn't. The Reaper disconnected itself long ago from its former master.”

“What is the Reaper exactly?” I asked.

She explained that it is a demonic being, not quite worthy of being called a demon, but in that vein. Demons are the manifestation of darkness. Or more accurately, death.

It is also imbued with Cassana’s life energy as well, making it only half demon. This is where the Reaper is not quite a demon.

Mana is life. Without it nothing can live. Losing it meant you’d be full of darkness, or death. In other words, you’d be a demon if you had no mana because they are made of pure darkness. Still following me? Mana equals life, darkness equals death.

That started to piece a few things together for me.

The Reaper must have stolen mana because it wasn’t connected to Cassana anymore. Because its mana was running on empty, it sought out to steal life energy from anything it could. As a result, it looks evil, acts evil, and draws upon darkness because that's all it has left.

That also explains what was going on with those people the reaper turned into skeletons. They'd lost all their mana and changed into demons.

“Why doesn't Cassana do something about this?” I asked.

“I don't believe he cares,” Melpomene admitted. “The people here don't even believe he exists. This will surely cause them to respect his presence.”

Indena scoffed out loud.

“You know, maybe if those high and mighty divine want to get off their clouds and live a day in our shoes, then I’ll have some respect for them.”

“You dare offend the gods, mortal?” Melpomene’s eyes were glowing brightly, almost like spotlights over Indena. “Such open declarations will be your undoing.”

“So what? I’m already going to Hell. Might as well go down swinging.”

“You believe Hell is the worst eternal punishment?” Melpomene scoffed. “Hell is a mercy compared to the torment you may endure for your insolent words.”

This conversation wasn’t getting anywhere! They were just making each other angrier the more they disagreed. It was just a back and forth, like flinging arrows.

“Stop!” I shouted, pushing Indena out of Melpomene’s spotlight eyes. “Both of you! Melpomene, you don’t like the Reaper, right?”

That was a gamble based on how she helped us fight it before.

“…” She stayed silent. I repeated my question, then she responded. “It is a neutral force. In one form, you may call it a giver of life. However, it is no longer under the influence of Cassana. If it is not contained, it will cause untold destruction. I cannot allow that.”

“So you wanna’ put it back on its leash?” Indena asked.

“I want it destroyed. The spirits demand such a being be terminated. And their will overrides that of the god of life and death.”

That meant she was on our side. It was hard to understand where she stood in all this conflict, but I do remember how she was protecting us before.

“Then how do we stop it?” I asked.

“First, we wait for it to return.” She looked up to the funnel cloud. “It's cocooned itself in mana, evolving as we speak. I don't know what will happen after.”

I didn't like the sound of that. If it was scary before, who knows what was cooking in that funnel cloud?

“Why’d this jerk decide to come out now, anyways?” Indena asked.

“The Reaper has laid dormant in Esma for some time. It is often provoked by those with no divine watching over them.”

Melpomene pointed to Indena, pretty much laying blame on her.

“Screw you.” Indena growled at her.

Melpomene chortled in the driest tone I’d ever heard. “That was a joke. Strangely, this one has divine protection. Albeit, very weak.”

How was that possible? I thought Indena said she didn’t worship anything.

“Stop joking, you suck at it.”

“No. That was not a joke. The goddess Amat…” Her eyes shot wide. “Yes, yes…I will not speak any more. Forgive me.”

She sounded like she was talking to someone up there, probably the spirits.

"Bull!" Indena spit. "Nobody looks after me."

So, if Indena shockingly wasn’t the one to invoke this trouble, who was? We were the only two people in the valley when that happened. Maybe Melpomene was there too, but she seemed to have her bases covered, spiritually speaking.

“You gonna’ blame Yamin for this? Is that why you were in the valley?”

“No, not Yamin.” She shook her head. “There was another there. I was sent originally to dispatch him, thinking he was the Evil One. But then you both showed up, and he fled.”

This person must have been responsible for a lot of what was going on. If he was so evil that Melpomene would have confused him for this so-called, ‘Evil One,’ then I had a suspicion I might know who this was…

“He wouldn’t have happened to be manipulating mana streams, was he?” I asked.

“Yes, he was.”

I knew it! Call it a hunch, but this was quite possibly that evil hacker god that I hated so much. The very same guy who’d been responsible for corrupting Anima last year.

“Shrimp, what are you getting at?”

“I think this guy is responsible for bringing us to the valley,” I stated. Melpomene agreed. 

My guess is that he must have manipulated the portal streams to send everyone to that location when they went through a Nalnara gate. That’s likely how we ended up there. That might have something to do with how Yamin and Marek ended up in the valley too, but the weird thing was that the portal networks were down when they appeared.

One thing's for sure, if it was the hacker god, then my theory that we were sent here to be destroyed by the Reaper was true.

There was a lot here we didn’t know, and for the most part it was irrelevant to taking down the Reaper, which was priority one.

“We can figure this out later,” I said. “How long do we have before the Reaper is done evolving?”

I found my answer when we heard a thunderous growl from the sky.

The transformation had been complete, and another growl ripped through the air! It sounded like…a motorcycle!?

“What the hell was that…?”

Light shot down from the funnel cloud in the sky, blazing down with a yellow tint. Something descended down. I used my telescopic sight to see that it was definitely the demon, but he was riding on a…a motorcycle! What the heck! He looked like some edgy biker dude!

His motorcycle looked a little like a horse. It even made noises like it too, but mixed with engine sounds.

“This is…unexpected…” Melpomene uttered. “So, this is the modern image of a reaper he’s taken to.”

The Reaper Mk 2 revved up his engine, it let out a whaling screech into the air. Then once it touched down on Main Street, he blasted toward us fast!

“Get out of the way!” Indena tugged me away just in time. “You ain’t a deer, get out of the damn headlights!”

“Sorry!” I yelled over the engine revving again. “How do we stop that guy?”

Melpomene hovered down on her broom and pointed to the engine of the motorcycle. “Hit the engine just right, then the iron horse will temporarily die.”

“You used engine and iron horse in the same sentence?” Indena glared at her.

So a well-placed hit to the engine would damage the motorcycle…that was good enough for me. I used a waypoint to mark exactly the spot I needed to hit.

But then I realized I was flat out of power to do anything.

“Crud…” I grumbled as I struggled to stay standing. “Sorry, I can’t do much…”

“Nah, let me handle it.” Indena lit up her flame aura. “You’ve done more than enough for now.”

“I shall aid the fire mage as well,” Melpomene announced, lowering her broom so that Indena could get onto it.

“Oh hell no!” Indena protested. “You think I wanna ride that thing?”

“Foolish mage! Retire your anger against me so we can save these people.”

This wasn’t the time for a grudge to get in the way. If Melpomene was our ally, we had to work with her as best we can.

“You’ve gotta’ be kidding me…” She snarled and clenched her face up like crumpled paper. “Screw you, witch…” She climbed aboard the broomstick. “Yuck. Don’t get all romantic cause’ we're riding tandem. Understand?”

“Can you shut up, please?” Melpomene glared.

“End yourself, witch.”

I also climbed aboard too, but I leaned on Indena’s back. It was surprisingly stable for such a thin broom, like I was just sitting on a balance beam.

“You want some too, Shrimp?”

“You’ll need my help if you want to aim at these speeds.”

I could calculate the trajectory she’d need to hit the engine with a fireball.

Melpomene nodded. “Very well. You’ve proven that ability many times over.”

I wish I could have been the one throwing, I guess I wasn't so bad at it when my combat protocols were active. But since Indena was the only one with an ounce of physical strength left in her, this was about as good a set up as it got.

Melpomene would be flying, I’d be aiming, and Indena would be throwing.

“Alright everyone, Stardust Warriors go!” I announced and pointed toward the Reaper.

“No! No! Don’t call us that!” Indena gave me a scowl. “Ah…hell…Stardust Warriors, go!

Yay! She accepted it!

We took off at mach speeds! The wind was crazy, but no matter how fast we went the broom wouldn’t let us fall off. What a wild ride this was!

“Speaking of Stardust, Little One, create a spike for the fire mage. It will be the only thing to do damage.”

“Right!” I nodded, making a smooth stardust spike. I didn’t have much stardust left in me, so she had to make it count. Luckily, this was a small order.

Indena took hold of the glimmering spike and lit it on fire.

“I just need to hit the engine?” Indena shouted over the wind.

“Yes. I can’t promise many shots, so don’t miss,” Melpomene said.

“Same. I’m almost tapped out of stardust.”

Mella went back to focusing on controlling her broomstick, getting us close to the destructive Reaper as he trampled over cars and concrete. Down the road he went, seeming to head for the castle where everyone was hiding out.

“Mella, is he going there to find everyone?”

“The Reaper desires life force, and that is the most concentrated amount of it around here. He will likely destroy the castle and steal everyone’s spirit.”

That wasn’t good! We had to get him before he got them!

Mella had to avoid a lot of debris being kicked up by the Reapers path of destruction.

Oh no! He pulled out a revolver and aimed it at us!


Mella just managed to dodge the bullet!

He fired off a few more rounds. Six in total! He then went to reload.

“This is our chance!” I shouted.

Indena reeled back her arm, then I took hold of it and started to calculate the exact trajectory we’d need to hit the engine. Lines and grids appeared all over my vision, but I still saw everything clear as day.

Indena was all shaky, I also noticed that her heart was racing. Hopefully that wouldn’t be a problem.

Once I locked the trajectory in place, I moved Indena’s hand exactly where it’d need to be to hit the engine.

“Now!” I shouted.

Indena launched the flaming crystal spike into the air, but it hit the muffler!

“What gives? You missed it!” I asked.

“Sorry I’m not a freakin' robot like you! This is tough, okay?! A lot of lives are at stake!”

“I’m not a robot!” I shouted, then formed a new spike. Why did this stardust look more red than the usual blue or white? Oh well.

Indena took the spike and reeled back her arm, but Mella had to pull us away from the Reaper.



He’d been able to reload in that time! We had to wait for another opening.

“Don’t miss again!” Mella pointed to the castle, which was getting very close. “We won’t get another shot!”

She was right. I calculated the time we’d have till he’d reach there, and the time it took him to reload…plus he definitely figured out what we were up to, so he was taking a while to fire off all his bullets, just to make us uncertain when we’d get another shot.

Dang! This guy was smart!

“I know, I know! I won’t miss this time.” She got her game face on and focused on the objective.

Her heartbeat eased, and she wasn’t shaking anymore.


Just one more shot and we’d be in the clear!


A blur of blue blazed passed us and took the bullet! It was one of Mella’s giant hawks. Would that shot have hit us?

“Ready!” Mella shouted.

Once I calculated the throw, I set Indena up perfectly. She took aim and readied for Mella’s signal.


Indena tossed!


A Direct hit!

The whole bike was in the air, sending the Reaper up along with it.

All the broken parts and the demon came crashing down, tumbling across the road. He got up almost immediately and started picking up the pieces of his bike.

For some reason, he was taking the time to fix up his vehicle. It would have been the perfect time to attack him, but my SP was tapped out. No way I’d be able to spawn enough stardust to do any damage.

All in all, we bought ourselves some time to prepare. I remember Yamin still had stardust, so maybe we’d be able to use her power to finish off the demon. I had a feeling though that he’d fix up his ride soon, so we had to hurry and get to the others.

Mario Nakano 64
Taylor J
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