Shadow Slave-Chapter 1154: Former Glory
Nothing much happened on the island that had once been the heart of Solvane's lands. The Fire Keepers, it seemed, had been very thorough in exterminating every abomination here - even after several hours, no one had bothered the five Masters. Not that many things could.
While Cassie was exploring the runes, Sunny simply wandered around the ruins, remembering his days of fighting in the Colosseum. The others had nothing much to do, so they followed him, sometimes starting a conversation, sometimes remaining silent.
Eventually, Effie sighed.
"This sucks. What kind of vacation is that?
The mood is so dismal."
Sunny looked at her humorlessly.
"What were you expecting? I did not exactly have a great time in this damned place. Should I be jumping around in joy?" She blinked a couple of times.
"I mean... yeah? Why not? Think about it. This coliseum is in ruins, but you're still standing. What's not to celebrate?" Sunny tilted his head a little, then looked at the overgrown remains of the Red Colosseum once more. l?ghtnоvеlcavе?с~оm. The place was desolate and forgotten, with nothing remaining of its former glory.
Glory... the bastards who had lusted for it, who had turned Hope's theater into a temple of murder, never found any such thing.
Sunny, however, had survived. Not only that, but he was also a decorated officer now, complete with the highest military awards one could receive - earned in a war much more meaningful than the senseless one the Warmongers had waged.
He had never put much meaning into his medals, but now that they turned into something to spite Solvane and her zealots with...
'Huh. Damn. It almost feels better than killing her twice?'
A crooked smile appeared on his face.
"Well, if you put it like that... I guess you are right, Effie. I am much more impressive than these fools ever were, aren't I? Hell, they're making a movie about me in NQSC, even."
She glanced at him with an amused expression.
"Uh... let's not get a big head, doofus. And what do you mean, a movie? Another one?!"
Noticing her petrified expression, he grinned.
"Ah, don't worry. It's about Mongrel, technically."
While Effie let out a relieved sigh, Nephis suddenly nodded.
"Oh, yes. I've seen the trailer."
Kai and Sunny looked at her with surprise, while Effie made a strange face and walked away.
"Gods... I think I'm going to be sick..."
She really looked ill. Sunny laughed as he watched her go.
"Hey, where are you going? The mood isn't so dismal anymore, is it?!"
The huntress just waved her hand and disappeared behind a pile of rubble.
He chuckled, but his smile disappeared when Kai asked with a thoughtful expression:
"If the trailer came out this quick, they must be putting a lot of resources into filming. I do wonder, though... are they going to cast an actor to play Mongrel? Or an actress?" Sunny's eyes widened slightly.
"What the hell do you mean, an actress?
Why would they cast an actress?! Take that back!"
...While they were bickering, Cassie finished exploring the runes carved in the bloodstained stone. Soon, the flying ship left the ruins of the Red Colosseum behind and cut through the sky.
The night had descended upon the Chained Isles, erasing the border between the Sky Above and the Sky Below. Cold stars shone upon the remains of the shattered kingdom, reflected by the distant flames that burned in the dark abyss.
The flying vessel was moving southeast.
There were not that many places that Sunny wanted to visit on the Chained Isles. His main goal was the Shipwreck Island, where the corpse of the Sun Prince swung above the Sky Below, tangled in heavenly chains... but he was also interested in one other.
The Southern Island, where the ruined castle of the Shadow Lord stood, and where he had fought Nightmare.
The black steed had become his Shadow, but that was just the phantom of the Spell. Sunny couldn't help but feel curious about what had happened to the real Nightmare... was he perhaps still here, somewhere, in this region of the Dream Realm?
The dark courser was not on the Southern Island anymore, that was sure. After all, Sunny had visited the ruined fortress in the waking world before even knowing what it was - that was where he had welcomed Effie and Kai to the Chained Isles - and had not met Nightmare there.
Still, maybe there were some clues.
Countless years had passed since the time when the shadow creature remained in the castle, stubbornly guarding the citadel of a dead master. Was the real Nightmare still alive? Had he grown stronger? l?ghtnоvеlcavе?с~оm. Had he succumbed to the Corruption that seemed to have devoured everything and everyone else in the Dream Realm?
Sunny wanted to know, but most of all, he was interested in finding a shadow creature. It could lead to a lot of fragments at worst, and a new Shadow at best.
Apart from the Southern Island, though... Nephis obviously did not have any places in mind. Effie wished to visit the Temple of the Chalice.
Kai would have wanted to return to the Ivory City, perhaps, to reminisce on the past... but that city was no more. It had fallen into the Sky Below, replaced by the ever-growing Tear that would one day swallow all the Chained Isles.
Strangely, the place where Cassie would have wanted to visit was gone, too. The Night Temple - where she had spent several months caring for her mentor, the One in the North - was destroyed as a result of the battle between Sky Tide and Saint Cormac. ...The blind girl did add one location to the list, though. And a very strange one, at that the island where an eerie creature of the lake had once bestowed them with the Ruby Knife. Sunny did not know what she wanted to find there, but had no objections to her request.
They were going to the Southern Island first, however, so that creepy place was still far away.
Enjoying the view of the starlit sky, Sunny breathed in the cool night air and smiled as he listened to his friends chatting.
There would be dangers and dire threats once he returned to Antarctica, but for the next few days, life promised to be tranquil and uncomplicated. There would be a bit of exploration, a bit of treasure hunting, and a bit of fighting, as well - but not the dreadful kind. It was truly like a vacation.
His smile grew a little wistful.
'...Damnation. Just when did the Dream Realm become nicer than the waking world?'