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— Keeper of the Seven Keys: Equilibrium —

Altagracia continued to weep as Kaiser held her; Melchior looked at Anael's corpse without believing in his eyes; another Blue Moon Knight had fallen in battle.

"Three down...! Four more to go... HAHAHAHAHA!" Mary Hellheim's voice echoed through the empty, barren Lightning Summits.

Then, they saw something glowing on the sand; Melchior looked at it with tears in his eyes as he realized it was another one of the dreadful crystal orbs, filled with a scaled thunderstorm which shattered and converted part of the adjacent sand into a marvelous glass of many colours; Elemental Alchemist fell in his knees as he realized it was Anael's soul bidding them farewell.

Thalas looked at his best friend's lifeless body in a utter state of shock; he took the Corazón de Guatemala and looked at it as he reminisced the days of old.

"Life is strange..." He whispered as he looked at the powerful Shaman-Stone. "It is something so lonely... Everyone lives it the best way they can, but they are ultimately alone in their experiences... At least I thought so, until I met you..."

Kaiser and Altagracia sadly looked at Thalas as he continued to speak.

"You gave me friendship when no one else did." Electro Archer continued. "Thanks to you I could withstand the burden of my background without feeling guilty all the time for something I myself did not do, but others did centuries ago..." Tears began to form in Thalas' eyes. "If you haven't been my friend, I'd never have gotten so far in my life; never I would have had that trip into Tikal that changed our lives forever. Thanks to you I met the girl I ended up loving and being loved by, and I'd never have confessed my feelings to her if it wasn't for you. Thank you, Anael Nathaniel Moon'Seeker. From the bottom of my heart, thank you!"

Tears fell from his eyes as he put the necklace and held the Shaman-Stone closely; Altagracia came to him and gave him a solace hug as she came to cry again. Kaiser stood up and looked at Melchior, who was crying in silence.

"Melchior... We have to rest." Kaiser sadly said. "I want vengeance, but we are no match against the Danish Demon. Not at this rate; we are too tired to even proceed."

"I can't rest..." Altagracia sobbed. "Not while hermano mayor is here... He is resting, but... He won't wake up... Not anymore."

"Come here, Gracia." Thalas knelt down and gently hugged Altagracia. "He is at a better place now... And we will make something out of his death; we will avenge him and find a way to bring him back from the dead."

"He...He came back once." Altagracia sobbed.

"Oui..." Thalas replied with a frail smile. "And he might come back again; we have to keep fighting for that to happen, though."

Little Lotus Flower agreed and wiped the tears out of her face; Thalas stood up while Kaiser kept staring at Melchior.

"What should we do, Melchior?" DarkStalker asked. "What now?"

Electro Archer looked at Elemental Alchemist with increased anger; as the Salvadorian hero took a longer time to give them a reply, the French Guatemalan hero felt hatred taking his heart and countenance as Melchior hesitated.

"I... I don't know." Melchior replied with a low tone. "We should rest... We should find somewhere... We can go and..."

"You seem to be having the time of your life!" Thalas stated as he crossed his arms. "I bet you are enjoying surviving these blasted sick games!"

"What?! No! No, I am not!" Melchior replied in awe. "I am hating this! I never wanted any of you to lose your lives! Ever!"

"Look at him!" Thalas pointed at Anael's fallen body. "This is YOUR doing! Just like the former Elemental Lords, you are killing us, Melchior!"

"No!" Melchior objected, shocked and sad. "I...I am not! How absurd!"

"Shut up, you idiot!" Thalas angrily shouted. "Maya and Kimi's blood are on your hands and Hellheim's! You are no better than her!"

Melchior looked at Thalas in a utter and complete state of shock; his eyes had almost no spark as tears watered his vision down. Thalas prepared to engage and punch Melchior, and Kaiser saw that no good would come out of that.

"Stop, both of you!" Kaiser intervened keeping Melchior and Thalas apart. "You are tired, sad and confused." He then looked at Thalas with a serious countenance. "I understand your pain; Kimi was my twin brother, Maya was a friend who was an outcast like me and Anael saw me as an equal after everything I have done for you even though I had been a villain in the past. However, it is not Melchior's fault." Then, he looked at Melchior frowning his brows. "But you, Melchior, needed to give more support to us. You should have trained them more rather than throwing us into that pit with no reinforcements at all. It was not a smart move and you should know it."

That said DarkStalker pushed both of them away and passed, walking to the road ahead of them.

"We need to find somewhere to rest for a bit." DarkStalker said. "We cannot continue like this..."

"How are we going to rest here?!" Thalas angrily asked. "Don't you know where you are?! These are enemy lands! We won't rest until it is done!"

"Nevertheless, we should try." Kaiser calmly replied as he looked back to face Thalas. "Thalas... Look at us. We are at the end of our strength; don't you feel like you are going to pass out and never wake up? Doesn't your body feel so heavy you cannot even make a single step? Don't you feel all your muscles hurting and sore, including those you didn't even know they existed at all?"

Electro Archer was about to draw breath to object, but he stopped and slowly agreed with DarkStalker; he was too tired even to argue against his statements; Elemental Alchemist agreed and Lotus Flower yawned and began to blink slowly, showing all signs of sleepiness and exhaustion.

"Let's go then..." Melchior said. "Her walls are near, but we might find somewhere to rest. If we are lucky we might come across one empty villa forgotten by her minions."

"Agreed." Kaiser replied. "Let's do it, then. Gracia, come here." Kaiser opened his arms and hugged Altagracia, carrying her in his arms. "Put your head between my shoulder and my neck; sleep tight, I'll carry you out of here."

The youngest Blue Moon Knight agreed and closed her eyes, falling asleep almost immediately. DarkStalker petted her head as he gently passed his fingers through her locks; Melchior took the lead of the pack and guided them to the road ahead. As they were walking, the grey-stoned paved road with sand bunks was gradually being replaced by circular, shiny stones that were either black or white and constantly changed colours as the remaining Blue Moon Knights passed through it and entered in the darkness ahead...


****


Mary Hellheim was asleep in her chambers; the sound of the agonizing screams of Black Witch's soul and Elite Dragon's soul's weeping were being used as a gruesome lullaby for her; as she slept she dreamt about her undead conquest and the reward of immortality which was almost on her grasp. She smiled as Kimi's soul wandered near her canopy bed and let a frail hailstorm fall on her face and soothe her dreams.

"Shrine of Equilibrium Glades..." She whispered. "You can run... But you cannot... Hide."

As the Danish Demon slept, so did her troops, who gave the Knights a brief pause on their battles as the group arrived into a glade with several humble settlements and a large temple in the end of the village, surrounded by shifting mists which unveiled and covered Danish Demon's wall from time to time. The four remaining Blue Moon Knights entered into the first villa and found no sign of Hellheim's minions; they inspected the place and found several beds to sleep in. Melchior sealed the doors and the house with forcefields and went to sleep in the first bed he found.

Kaiser put Altagracia to sleep in a room with two beds; he put the young girl to sleep under the linen sheets and lied down on the other bed. He slowly blinked until he finally fell asleep and found Kimi inside his dreams, alive, safe and sound with his parents, like he always wanted.

Thalas lied down alone in the last vacant room; he closed his eyes and tried to sleep hoping to find Maya and Anael alive in his mind. Electro Archer began to sing a Guatemalan lullaby to fasten the sleeping process as he tried to find solace to all the pain he was feeling.

"Tengo, tengo, tengo. Tú no tienes nada." He sang in a low, whispering tone. "Tengo tres ovejas en una cabaña." He began to cry and tried to hold the tone as he sang. "Una me da leche, otra me da lana, y otra me mantiene toda la semana." Electro Archer felt his throat heavier and tears fell profusely from his face as he continued to sing the last verses. "Caballito blanco llévame de aquí. Llévame hasta el pueblo donde yo nací...".

Thalas sang the song three more times before falling asleep the saddest way he ever did in many, many years. As he closed his eyes and let his mind rest for a while, he tried to let the nothingness take care of his mind and give solace to his wounded heart and soul...


To Be Continued...

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