Anima: The Masquerade

Can you say "Acrophobia?"

If she couldn't before, she can now.

Lydia huffed for air as she ran as fast as she could across the bridge. Harlan, Mappo, Glasgow had all been practically slaughtered the moment their opponents started taking the fight seriously. Panic raced through her mind and a blur of “what ifs” rushed in circles and disrupted any trace of rational thought. Right now she had to run for her life, or everything they’d fought for and sacrificed would be gone.

Without allowing another step, Lydia was pulled to hard stone that made the bridge. It had taken only a few moments for the masked figure that had just finished off the last of her friends to make up the hundreds of feet she’d put between them. It easily overwhelmed her with its strength and tugged her head back to pull her ear close to it’s mouth.

“You and your little gang of heros were useful for a long time,” it whispered almost gently in her ear as she fought to escape his grasp. Lydia felt a cold hand grip her neck and lift her off of the ground. The girl released a choked scream as she was overwhelmed by both fear and pain as the fibers in her neck threatened to tear. Gripping the masked figure’s wrist with both of her hands, she supported as much of her weight as she could despite the feeling of her throat collapsing under it’s fingers. “But not anymore,” it sneered as Lydia felt it begin to drain her life energy.

She kicked and struggled feebly as it slowly walked with her held up off of the ground. Lydia was uncertain how much longer she could remain conscious from the lack of oxygen, and that was if she wasn’t sucked dry first. The wind picked up as the masked figure approached the edge of the world’s surface. “Good bye, little Oracle,” it taunted cruelly before releasing its grip. Feeling herself plummet, Lydia reached for the cliff-side, but her hands found only air. Her speed quickly increased and Lydia realized this was the end of everything. Disappearing into the fog below, her scream of terror faded with her.

“You don’t think this is even a little silly,” Markus asked playfully.

“Of course not, star-gazing is romantic blind or not,” Lydia assured him as she lay in the middle of an open meadow chest down with her head on Markus chest.

“So what, you want me to enjoy it all by myself while you lie her bored out of your mind?”

“I’m not bored. What made you think that?” Lydia raised her head to direct her attention to Markus.

“You went quiet, that’s all.”

“I was just listening to your heart,” she explained as she set her head back down, “it makes such a beautiful sound.”

“That’s because it’s madly in love. Hadn’t you heard?”

“With who,” Lydia asked curiously to play along.

“The most beautiful little brown-haired girl it’s ever seen.” Lydia smiled and brought herself into a close embrace.

“I love you too, Markus.” The two remained together quietly under the stars for nearly an hour, both simply enjoying the presence of the other. Lydia had been mulling over how to approach a difficult subject of conversation. “I know I haven’t told you yet,” she finally managed before hesitating and taking a deep breath.

“Tell me what?”

“I’m leaving again. I have to attend the matter of the new Mars Tower Grand Cleric in Eternia, but this time I’ll be gone for a long time.”

“How long is a long time?”

“Until I’m ready to come home, I suppose.”

“This all seems rather sudden don’t you think,” Markus suggested. “Where is all of this coming from?”

“I suppose it would seem that way. I’ve actually been thinking a lot about what you told me several years ago. How I needed to live first before I could help others to live. To solve my own problems before I could help solve theirs.” Markus breathed deeply and thought on his words while selecting them carefully.

“I suppose I did say that. A part of me wishes I hadn’t.”

“You don’t think I should go then? I guess I can stay if that’s what you want.”

“No, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I did say it was only a part of me. The rest of wants you to go out and see the world if that’s how you feel.”

“Well, I won’t be actually seeing anything in a literal sense,” Lydia giggled. Her expression softened before she reached up to stroke Markus’ hair. “Will you wait for me? I understand if you can’t, I just need to know, please.”

“Every morning on the cliff overlooking the docks until my heart gives out and my body turns to dust.” Lydia laughed to hide how flattered she felt by his commitment.

“Thank you, Markus.”

Lydia flopped onto the hard ground after having her momentum slowed by some form of magic. She could feel her arms shaking uncontrollably as she pushed herself into a sitting position. Her heart was still pounding and her mind still rich with the surge of adrenaline. A strange smell filled Lydia’s nose in her first few breaths before her eyes and lungs began to burn. She coughed violently and covered her mouth and nose with her cloak.

“Mm? You’re alive!” Spoke a strange, high pitched voice. Lydia froze under the unexpected attention.

“Hello?” Was it hostile, or malicious? Perhaps whoever this was could be of aid. She would soon find out for sure.



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