Her stride was fast as she made her way out of town and towards the cave. As she got closer to it she was practically stomping on the ground. She stopped to catch her breath. With a sigh she entered the cave and lifted her sword up for light. She looked around for the nexus point, keeping her steps light to not wake up any crazy monsters. Her footsteps echoed as the terrain she was walking on noticeably changed. She looked down at it curiously and saw an opening winding deeper into the cave. There was a faint glow. She ran down the path and made it to a large crystal formation. She looked it up and down and then kicked it. Nothing happened. She took the ocarina out then paused.
She couldn’t remember more than the first few notes of that sheet music she saw. “UGH I’m never going to get this stupid ass song now.” she said to herself, kicking the ground. She stood for a while, silently looking at the ground as if it held all the answers. After her melancholy moping ended, she put the ocarina back in her pocket. She began to walk out of the opening when she heard a strange noise and froze.
It was grating, like something sharp scratching against the crystalline structures surrounding her. It felt unnatural, not like a noise that would just happen to be in a cave. Something was making the noise, and it had to be something in this room with her. She hitched her breath and very carefully held her sword out, shining the light of the electricity in the cave's crevices. She walked around the crystal structure slowly and then jumped back when she saw what was making the noise. A shadowy creature with bulbous eye balls and no pupils. It was made of a dark oozing substance, she couldn’t tell what. With long sharp claws and no mouth. It scratched desperately at the crystal structure.
“What the hell?..” she wondered aloud. The creature immediately turned and jumped towards her. “Oh shit!” she ducked away from it. It made an unearthly noise before jumping towards her again. She rolled out of the way, using her sword to slice the creature in two. The creature dissipated in a mass of shadowy smoke and it was quiet again. She stared for a moment longer before deciding the best time to exit this hell hole was right this very second. She made her way back up and out of the cave, quickly but quietly as she could, holding her breath to not stir any more monsters.
Standing in the fresh air, she let out the breath she’d been holding and calmed herself. Sure enough she heard the familiar woosh of Eyala as she appeared next to her.
“Are you alright, Audrey?”
“Just monsters, no biggie. Hero stuff, right?” She walked towards the town.
“Nice job defeating it! What are you going to do about the accordion player?” Eyala asked. Audrey kept walking, her back turned towards Eyala.
“What? I don’t know, I’m busy right now, Eyala.”
“Oh? What are we doing?” Eyala asked. Audrey slightly turned her head to glance back at the angel.
“Where’s the next nexus point?” she asked Eyala, ignoring her question. Eyala perked up, she seemed pensive for a moment.
“Chismest.” she smiled.
“...” Audrey stared at her, wondering what the pause was about. Eyala tilted her head.
“What is it?” she asked. Audrey kept her back towards Eyala.
“I’m going to go ask around about some transportation.”
“What about the overseer?”
“We’ll get to it when we get to it.” Audrey snapped her body around to look at Eyala. Eyala flinched, floating gently in the air with a surprised expression. She nodded before fading away silently. Audrey sighed, she needed a drink.
A bit later Audrey stumbled out of the Crazy Raven. She wiped her forehead of sweat, she should really wear more appropriate clothes for the weather. As she took a step forward she almost fell over. Since when was walking so hard? Unfortunately for her, in this ungraceful moment where the streets were uncrowded and barely lit, her angel companion saw fit to visit. Audrey heard Eyala appear next to her but she could not affix her eyes properly to her visage.
“Hey Bestie!!” Eyala greeted Audrey excitedly. Audrey laughed.
“Heey Girl.” Audrey put her hand on her hip.
“Are you okay, Audrey?”
“Yeaahh, except that I lost so much money, I hope we find more treasure soon.” Eyala shrugged. “Totally, totally…” Audrey yawned.
“Did you finish those errands, Audrey?”
“You mentioned finding transport to Chismest.”
“The next nexus point is-”
“Ugh, Girl would you just like... Chill? I got this, alright.”
“Totally! I just-”
“AY. Who exactly is the one with the sweet muscles and fancy sword, right? I will get my hot butt over there when I Feel like it.” Audrey gave Eyala a glare. Eyala blinked.
“Whatever you say, Audrey!”
“Yeah, whatever I say she says...” she begins to trail off. Her head started to fall a little limp, but she stood up straight, with her body ever so slightly rocking back and forth. Eyala waved her hand in front of her face.
“Aud-” she began to say but noticed people were about to exit the club and quickly dematerialized, leaving Audrey alone as she was starting to fall asleep standing up.
“Audrey..?” a voice said behind her, she perked up and turned around. Ash, Viola and Manny were coming out of the club, carrying their instrument bags with them. The crowd had been so dense in there she never actually noticed who was playing the music. She should have guessed no one would play accordion that passionately unless they were a dweeb. Audrey scowled, this was matched by Viola. Manny and Ash stood awkwardly.
“Hey.” she said.
“Are you...alright?” Ash asked.
“Peachy. So you guys were the ones playing in there?” she asked.
“That’s right.” Viola interjected.
“Hope you, uh, enjoyed it.” Manny said with an awkward smile.
“Yeah, it was awesome.” she continued to scowl. Manny and Ash looked at each other with an unsure expression, but Viola was very blunt in how she was looking at Audrey.
“Ash, darling, we can walk you back if you’d rather not run into any...Freaks on the way to the hotel.” Viola said, looking directly at Audrey. Audrey frowned.
“I’ll be fine. You guys have a goodnight.” Ash said with a wave. Viola sighed but reluctantly left with Manny in the other direction, throwing one last glare Audrey’s way before she finally turned around. Audrey watched the two walk away and let out a growl.
“What the hell did I do to her?” she asked incredulously. Ash fiddled with their shirt cuff.
“You were kind of rude earlier...” they said.
“Yea, Whatever. Sorry for being honest .” she sucked her teeth and whipped her head around towards the direction of the hotel. The motion made her lose her balance and she fell onto the ground. “Ow.”
“Are you ok?” they asked.
“Other than being insanely dizzy, yea.” Ash rushed over to her, putting her arm around their shoulder. They smelled the alcohol on her breath.
“Uh, sweet chords, okay. Let me just...help you.” They walked along with her back towards the hotel. She had a blank expression on her face as they made their way there. Managing to make it back with no incidents, Ash dragged Audrey along up the stairs to the top floor.
“Missed my floor.” Audrey said.
“It’s not safe to be alone while you’re drunk.” Ash said, dragging her along to their room.
“Oh please, I don’t need your help or your pity. I’m Audrey freakin’ Redheart!” she mumbled the last part as she was starting to get very sleepy. The two entered Ash’s hotel room where they helped her sit down on the bed. They let out a sigh of relief as they put their accordion bag down. It was lighter than it looked, but Audrey wasn't. They were frowning, but had their back turned to her as they got out some cotton pads and dabbed them in makeup remover.
“I’m not lying y’know…” Audrey began to say, dragging her body to sit up right on the bed. Ash stopped moving for a moment before they continued taking off their makeup. “The overseer… monsters...they’re real and dangerous, they all are.” she was looking down. “That stupid bard… Getting in the way, even after I saved their ungrateful ass from that overseer....” she mumbled to herself. As she looked up she saw Ash giving her a weird look.
“Bard…? Like...wearing a green hat? With an orange feather?” they asked.
“...” That was definitely them.
“Was it?” Ash asked, concern laden in their voice.
“Yes.” Audrey responded, a bit coldly. Ash sighed in relief.
“Oh Eya, we’ve all been so worried about them.” She felt a bitter taste in her mouth.
“We?” she asked.
“The band. They were the singer at our first show. They’re someone...really special.”
“You don’t say.” She no longer wanted to be here.
“Are they...okay?” Ash asked. Audrey didn’t care.
“Should be, long as they don’t mess with the spirit world again.”
“What if they do…?”
“I’ll just have to keep doing my job.” she felt woozy. Who was this bard anyway? Everywhere she went someone seemed to have something to say about them. She was doing what she was supposed to, killing the overseers, slaying monsters. But what did it matter if everyone only remembered that bard? She clenched her fists and she could feel herself start to fall asleep.
Audrey awoke with a start, she gripped at her head. It hurt...but it wasn’t as bad as that night with the pirates. But who really knew mixing coffee and alcohol would be that bad? She looked around at the hotel room then realized this was not her hotel room. She looked to her side and saw Ash asleep on the bed next to her. Oh right, they helped her out. She carefully made her way off the bed and started to head towards the door. She froze, turning back around to watch Ash for a moment, they were...asleep. She walked carefully towards their instrument bag, unzipping it and pulling out the binder that had the different music sets they knew. She checked back over her shoulder to make sure they were asleep and casually looked through the songs.
She flipped through a lot of songs with names that sounded like they were from the 1400’s then stopped at what she was looking for, “ Melody for the Queen of Winds. ” She read over it a few times and ran her fingers over the page. She glanced at Ash and back at the song. She took a deep breath and carefully unclipped the binder, taking the song and putting it safely in her scarf. She looked down at the page that had been directly after the Queen of Winds song. It was on different paper, the handwriting was also different. She read the title, “ Order’s Lullaby .” There was something written on the back. “It was wonderful meeting you, tell your mother I said hi!” signed “Ira.” She flipped back to the notes, humming them quietly to herself as she read through it. Her mother used to sing this lullaby, where was it even from? Audrey frowned a bit, turning the page quickly...She paused. She glanced at Ash to make sure they were still asleep then stared down at the binder for a while. She slowly flipped back to Order’s Lullaby . It wouldn't hurt to have this one too, right? They wouldn’t miss it anyways. She carefully grabbed the song. Glancing over at Ash, she froze as they stirred a bit, but they were just shifting in their sleep. She let out a silent sigh and grabbed the binder. Carefully, she put it back where it was before and then looked over the sheets she had taken before she put them back in her scarf. She tiptoed to the door and grabbed the handle. Turning one last time to look at the accordion player, she opened the door and exited.
She began to run to the cave, then slowed down as she approached, thinking of that shadowy creature that she saw yesterday.
Eh. It was probably fine.
She rushed into the cave and dashed down the path to the nexus point, her footsteps echoing off the crystal walls. She reached the same crystal structure she had seen yesterday and carefully looked around for signs of monsters, but didn’t see any. She took out the ocarina in her pocket, as well as the songs she… borrowed. She felt a little bad keeping the instrument and the songs even after yelling at them but pretty soon they weren’t going to miss it anyhow…
She took a deep breath and began to play the melody, the crystal glowed as it resonated with the song. As she finished playing from the music sheet, she felt herself being lifted up and carried into the spirit world, the landscape changing around her. It became...dark, with a sickish green hue. The sky looked like moving shadows. She was standing on a platform overlooking the overseer’s castle. She heard Eyala appear next to her.
“That was really good, Audrey.”
“Yeah? Guess it all just came back to me.” she said, taking out her sword.
“The overseer castle is just ahead, you’ll have to vanquish the overseer here-”
“I remember what to do Eyala, it hasn’t been that long. Though I guess if it has it’s cause this entire town insists on wasting my time.” she rolled her eyes. Eyala clasped her hands together and looked at the castle. Audrey checked her footing and leapt down, landing in front of the gates. It was quiet. She ran a hand through her hair and smirked as she kicked open the castle doors.
The corridor was empty as her scarf flowed behind her. She leapt up the platforms in the castle into the next room, finding herself face to face with monsters that looked similar to the one she saw in the cave yesterday. She took a deep breath and swung her sword, taking down monsters left and right. She rushed forward, charging her sword and delivering a lightning strike which traveled through a group of them, killing them all at once. She raised an eyebrow and smirked smugly at her weapon then continued forward, killing some more enemies before coming upon a gap too big to jump normally. No problem, she could dash across- Her thoughts were interrupted by Eyala appearing across the way.
“Psst! Hey! Audrey! Don’t forget…You can point your sword straight up to charge it with lightning!” she said. Audrey raised an eyebrow and gave her a bewildered look, before she looked across the way and saw what looked like a giant lightbulb. She must have been subtly talking about this, why not just say that then?
“Augh! Shut up! I would have figured that out myself!” she rolled her eyes.
“Oh Ok.” Eyala said before fading away. Audrey winced, she had sort of meant that as a joke, but too late to go back on it now. She sighed and looked across the way. She could easily dash across this but she decided to humor Eyala, charging her sword and hitting the large lightbulb. A platform from across the gap extended out, and Audrey jumped onto it, passing onto the other side. She rushed forward and entered a dark corridor of the castle, she could see a large owl like monster ahead. It had a huge weapon and shield. Finally, an actual challenge. She rushed forward, putting pressure on the monster while she assaulted it with her sword. It reached it’s weapon back before lunging it forward, hitting Audrey square in the face. She grunted and held her jaw, dashing beside the monster and stabbing its back. It fell onto its knees and disappeared in a poof of smoke. She rubbed at her jaw then continued forward. Charging up her sword and leaping up, she kept going forward, coming upon the throne room. There was a large organ in the background and a bird with a scarf flying around. She tilted her head and looked at it curiously. It finally seemed to notice her and landed in front of her.
“Oh, great. Another human .” it said, rolling its eyes. “You here to be all loud and annoying like the last one? That sure was a riot.” it muttered.“Fat lotta good they did. The Queen of Winds is doing just awful , if you were wondering. Acting all dark and spooky.” Was he talking about…that bard? “She keeps…birthing monsters.”.
“Well, that’s-” Audrey began, before being cut off by the bird.
“It’s so gross. She’s getting worse every day. This place just isn’t the same anymore.”
“Aaaargh, shut up!!!” Audrey finally yelled out. She took a deep breath. “I’m here to take care of the Queen of Winds.” she looked the bird in the eyes. “Tell me where she’s hiding.” It stared at her.
“Like…take care of? Oh Geez.” …”Well, I…” it paused. “Am Obligated…to stop you…” it finally got out.
“Shut uuuuup!!” Audrey groaned. She didn’t have time for this!
“...” the bird paused. “Okay, I see where this is going…And I don’t want to be here for it.” he said. Leaping into the air and flapping its wings, it flew directly in front her. “Just…try not to make it painful for her, y’know? She’s really so sweet. Or…she used to be…” he said, before flying away. Audrey stared after it. Used to be?
As the bird made its exit, she felt a rumbling from the ground. A huge figure appeared before her with the silhouette of a bird. It’s eyes glowed in the same way as the last overseer, before it screeched out symbols that she could not understand. She lifted her sword up in defiance of the creature. It leapt into the air, black feathers molting off of its body. She could not see where it went, but the feathers surrounded her. She rushed forward, narrowly avoiding the Queen’s rapid descent to the ground. The Queen flapped her wings, the wind pushing Audrey towards the edge of the platform. She held her ground and ran against the wind. It didn’t seem the Queen would stop without intervention, but she couldn’t get closer. She continued running forward, holding her sword up to charge it. She hit the queen with a strike, stunning her. Rushing forward, Audrey struck her with the sword, the Queen’s black feathers flying every which way. The Queen leapt back into the air, flying into a big arch and heading directly for her. Audrey stepped back with surprise then quickly dashed just as the Queen swept across the platform. The Queen flew into another arch, heading back for Audrey. The two repeated this dance a few times before Audrey finally shot her with lightning, paralyzing her for a moment, enough that Audrey could rush forward and deliver the final blow. The Queen screeched out in pain, pillars of light erupting from her body before she disappeared, her crown falling on the platform beside a winded Audrey. Audrey looked at the crown, taking a moment to catch her breath before she smiled.
“Two down.” she said to herself. Eyala appeared next to the crown in a familiar fashion.
“Yeeeeeeeeeeah gurl, you da bomb.” said Eyala. Audrey stared at her for a moment and laughed.
“I know, right?” she held her hand out. Eyala had a symbol appear above her head, similar to the Queen but much less obnoxious, it was just a heart. Cute. Audrey stared at her then gripped her sword. She paused, searching Eyala for any sort of expression.
“Can I ask you something?” Audrey finally said.
“I just don’t get why you never told me… We were going to end the world, until that bard was around.” She looked at Eyala, her expression was filled with uncertainty. Eyala looked at Audrey, her hair floating gently behind her.
“It’s complic-” she began, before being cut off by a frantic Audrey.
“Not that it’s bothering me! Heh. I was just curious.” Audrey said, her body and expression were smug, but Eyala could see the beads of sweat on her forehead.
“It’s complicated, sorry you found that out in such a lame way. I’m not really supposed to tell the hero that until like, the very end…” Until the end? “Cause it’s hard for normies to understand why it’s important.”
“Normies?” Audrey repeated questioningly.
“Y’know like…mortals? Your planet being doomed is kinda sad…” she paused. “But we’re clearin the path for a new, better universe.” Audrey’s breath hitched a moment before she very quickly replied.
“Hey! I completely get it. Nothing normie about me!” she looked at Eyala. “ Someone has to stop the spread of the Overseers’ corruption.” Who apparently used to be nice before. “And kill them before they all become horrible monsters. May as well be me, right?”
“That’s why you’re the hero!” Eyala said, the heart symbol appearing above her head again. Audrey smiled confidently, yeah!
“ Yeah girl!”
“Hehe yeah girl.”
“We’re a team, right?” Audrey asked. “So anything you tell that bard, you can tell me too!”
“Noted,” Eyala began, looking into Audrey’s eyes before looking away. Audrey could not see this action. “Aight well I’m out, I’ll hit you up later, k?” Audrey watched as Eyala faded away.
She exited the spirit world and was once more in the cave outside of Delphi. She looked around but there were no monsters in sight, for now.
She made her way out of the cave and kept thinking about Eyala’s words. “...until like, the very end…” Is this it? Eya is asking her to end the entire world? How would she be able to do something this huge? But at the same time, if she didn’t… She thought about the monster she saw in the cave, it must have been from the Queen…
She shook her head to prevent from thinking about it too much. As she exited the cave, the light of day hit her eyes. She waited a moment thinking Eyala might appear but it seemed she was quiet for now. She rubbed at her mild headache and walked back towards the town, well…. a hero’s job is never done.