Ch8-3: Jailbreak

The clanking sound of the cell door opening woke Rydia from the middle of her doze. For a moment, there was a tickle of confusion and curiosity. Afterall, food had already been served not very long ago and she was hardly hungry enough to want to eat again.

Especially not the sort of stuff they serve here.

A quiet light filled the room, causing her dark-adjusted eyes to squint. Then the image of a small, white haired girl came into focus. She was standing in the doorway with a strange globe of light hovering over one shoulder. Instantly, Rydia’s senses kicked in and she recognized the face.

It’s… Joran?

“Shhhhh!” the Lunar girl made a hushing motion with one hand as she advanced across the room. Much to Rydia’s surprise, Joran produced a small, rusted key. It was promptly fitted into the collar around her neck… freeing her from her mage confines with a click.

“What are you doing?” the Caller fought to keep her composure. But jaw-hitting-the-floor was her innate reaction to her sudden change in captivity.

“Quickly, come with me,” Joran spoke shortly, handing her a dark hooded cloak.

Rydia took the garment and cast it around her shoulders, obscuring the shock of green hair under the shadows of the hood. Making sure it was secure, she scrambled out the door after the Lunar girl, a million questions jumping hurdles through her mind. Not knowing how soon was too soon to speak, she chose to keep silent, intent on following the sheen of white hair as it led the way from the Daear dungeons.

Why is she helping me? Couldn’t she get in big trouble for this?

The two girls slipped like twin shadows up from the stone holdings into the strange, plant-like fortress. The walls oozed black through numerous large gashes and cracks, spotted with grey-white growths that spoke of illness. The smell of decaying foliage choked Rydia’s every breath. Even the floor was sticky with a sickly film… though the Caller did not care to spend much time thinking about the sucking sound that her boots were making as she sped along.

The important thing is where I’m going… and that I’m even getting out of here.

After creeping what felt like miles through the twisting bends and turns, Joran poked her head around a sharp corner. Rydia realized it was actually a huge arch of doorway, all hung with black dripping organic matter that left a slick, greasy covering over the floors. An eerie grey-green light pulsed from within the other chamber, a ghostly light reflecting off of the moldering structure.

“Good… it’s still here,” the Lunar told her in a whisper. “And I don’t think there are any guards on this side.”

“What’s still here?” Rydia leaned closer. She was just tall enough to peer over the girl’s shoulder. What she saw within the chamber caused her breath to catch sharp within her throat.

The source of the strange light was a strange, ovular structure that hovered just a foot above ground. Though it was hardly even an inch or two thick, it wavered like the surface of water blown by a breeze, giving the illusion of a depth beyond imagination. As Rydia squinted at it, she swore she could see the formation of what looked to be a forest on the other side.

“It’s a Wayrift,” Joran told her, creeping towards it slowly. “A transportation portal.”

“A Wayrift?” she echoed. Thinking back, the Caller realized she must have seen one before – when she was first captured and brought there. But she had been too distracted by the situation to have thought much about it at the time.

“It leads to the forests outside of Baron,” the Lunar girl continued, answering Rydia’s next, unspoken question. “The Daear army is marching towards the city there… That is the home of your friends, correct?”

“Y-yes… that’s right?” Rydia’s face must have shown more shock than she meant it to at the news. Because Joran took her by the sleeve and led her towards the Wayrift insistently.

“You have to go and warn them, if it’s not too late! I’m not sure if it will help to know that Pren has divided up her forces so that only a part of the army is going to Baron. But it might give your people some sort of edge in the middle of this,” the girl waved her hand closer to the portal as if to show it was safe.

The Caller took in all of the information in a swirl of light-headed confusion. Having been trapped there in the Daear fortress for so long, she had no idea things had gotten so out of hand for her friends. The talk of armies and war was the last thing she could have imagined hearing… her greatest worries had centered around the taking of the Crystals in the Underground and getting word back to King Leviathan and Queen Asura about the disruption.

It’s like the white Dragon said… something far bigger is stirring on the Blue Planet.

With that thought, Rydia shook the clouding surprise from her mind. Green eyes focused on the Wayrift in front of her, thoughts of Cecil and her friends in Baron and the marching armies that were bearing down on them.

I have to get to Baron.

One firm, decisive thought echoed through her mind. She felt her feet moving underneath her, towards the glow of the portal. Just as Rydia felt the ripple of energy brush over her cheek, she paused, turning to look back at the Lunar girl.

“What are you going to do?” the Caller asked in a quiet tone.

“I’m going to meet with Pren and the other part of the army. I think they are going to a place called… Fab.. Fabbel… Fabel…?” Joran stammered the last word in uncertainty.

“Fabul?” Rydia offered with some concern.

“Yes. I think that’s it. Fabul.”

“Will you be in danger?”

“Don’t worry about me,” the Lunar waved one hand. “I have say over Incrytan… and I’m not going to let them use it… or me… for this kind of destruction anymore! I refuse to work under Pren like this… it’s just.. wrong.”

“Good for you!” A soft smile curved the corner of Rydia’s lips. “Thank you for all of your help. And, please… be careful.”

“I’ll be okay,” Joran told her, turning and walking back towards the halls. “Kip will help me — he’s already told me he would meet me in the city.”

The Lunar girl didn’t get a chance to see the look of concern that flickered over Rydia’s face at the news about Kip’s offered “aid.” But there was no time to protest – Joran was already rushing back down the hall with a call of good luck over one shoulder. All the Caller could do was fight the cold feeling that filled her stomach as she watched the shimmer of white braid vanish into the swallowing darkness.

Light of all that’s good… please watch over her…

Grime-smeared hands pressed together in front of her chest, Rydia sent the wish to whatever might be there to hear. But in the belly of the decaying mountain, there was little in the way of response. Just the ripple of light that cast from the motion of the waiting portal. And an overwhelming sense that the situation may be so far out of her reach to fix.

I’m not sure what I can do to help… but I’ve gotta do whatever I can.

Taking a deep breath, Rydia turned and walked through the Wayrift, palms first. The sensation was a strange one — like stepping into water that was light instead of liquid. Instinct closed her eyes and held her breath. For a split moment, the world seemed to slow down, her step mingled with thin air… and then she found herself standing on the other side, the tall shadows of the forest peering down on her.

Is this Bar–

Rydia gave a strangled gasp as a rushing whisper echoed in the back of her mind. She found herself disoriented in a swimming world of blue and green and grey as her senses grew suddenly acute. Something vast from somewhere beyond herself connected within. A momentary panic bubbled as she struggled to make sense of what was happening, just that sudden.

Then a soothing feeling urged her forward, the whispers taking on the sound of a distant voice. A warm feeling rose from within her chest and spread outward. The world’s colors were vividly bright to her eyes. Before she realized that she had been walking, Rydia tripped down the slope of a hillside, her hand catching balance against a cool stone surface.

What is…

Looking up, she could see the majestic figures of stone Summons rearing high above her head. Instantly, Rydia was comforted by the sight. What might have seemed fierce to other people was a sign of protection to the Caller. As she craned her head back, she realized that she was standing in a clearing within the forest, at the base of what looked like an ancient, sunken temple.

A Temple of the Summoners? Out here in the forest of Baron?

Stories of old times spoke of the tribes of Callers who had built Temples such as this as a meeting ground between human and monster. Such places held great power embedded by the Summons themselves. Legends said the creatures could come to the Temples of their own will to commune with the Summoners without needing to be channeled by a Caller’s power.

I never knew they still existed!

Rydia ran her fingers over the stone, a quiet tingling energy meeting her touch. In past days, humans and creatures lived far more in harmony. But now, the magics of the Temples had given way to the intolerances of mandkind. No longer did creatures and Callers meet freely.

In fact, as far as Rydia knew, she was the last of her kind due to the destruction at Mist.

But, I can’t think about that now.

Firmly, the Caller pushed the thoughts out of her mind. She shook her head to clear it of the foggy wonder that the place brought upon her. And with all her will, brought her focus back on the dangers that she knew were at hand.

I must get word to Baron befor—

“AHHHHH!!!” a war cry rang out from above her, only a moment before a weight dropped on her from behind.

Rydia wasn’t usually one to get easily knocked down. But she was a little weak due to her imprisonment by the Daear and disorientation of the Wayrift and the Temple. The Caller found herself knocked to her knees as the weight landed upon her back and a pair of slender arms roped around her neck. She began to struggle, digging her nails into the prone white flesh instantly.

“OW!! Hey! Leggo!!” the voice from behind her whine in response.

A familiar voice.

“You let me go first!” Rydia let up only slightly, wondering if her memory was serving her correctly.

It was.

The grip around her neck was released with a sound of surprise, “What..? Rydia!? Is that you?”

The Caller turned, peering into the startled eyes of the young Mysidian Black Mage, Palom. Surprise also struck her upon the sight… it wasn’t very often that she got to see either of the Mysidian Twins. The last that she remembered of the boy, he was only a child – and now he was as tall as her!

He’s really grown!

“Palom! It’s so good to see you! Is everything okay?” a rush of questions passed through her lips, seeming to bounce off the dazed young mage just as fast as they came. “Why are you out here?”

Instead of answering any of her questions, the boy made a choked sound in the back of his throat before he turned to the opened doorway of the temple and unreverently shouted, “Hey guys! It’s Rydia! We’re saved!!”

The Caller blinked for a moment before she found herself being led by a babbling young Black Mage under the ornate arches. It took a moment for her eyes to adjust to the dim, cool light within. Once they did, she could make out the shapes of two other mages – a tall, lanky Black Mage and a red-haired White Mage. The White Mage’s face was about as pale as his robes and a strange tinted coloration glittered from the depths of his eyes.

I know that feeling! The Daear fortress… everything there felt sick like that. Can this Mage be infected by something?

The tall Black Mage was on his feet in an instant, bowing his respect and introducing himself as Alexander Cromwell. And the White Mage as Newton.

“Just Newt,” Newton grumbled, voice as raspy as she thought it would sound.

“Just Newt,” Rydia repeated with a hint of a smile. Her attempt to ease their nerves and tend the sick.

Alexander’s face was a bit apologetic for his friend’s tone. But the Caller merely waved it off with a good natured look.

“Rydia, what are you doing here? We heard you were captured!” Palom had finally slowed his babble down to make-sense-speed.

“I was… but I escaped with some help. I was told that there’s an army marching on Baron. Is that true?” she asked, face echoing her concern.

“Yeah. That’s why we ended up here. There’s demon creatures swarming the forests … but they don’t seem to be able to come near this place,” Palom answered, motioning to the walls of the Temple.

For the first time, Rydia took notice of the strange murals of man and creature. They seemed to almost move as the stones glittered in the light. Captivated, she could feel the distant whispers shifting behind the multicolored gems that lit the Summons’ eyes.

“There’s an army of the demons marching towards Baron… Newt is really sick… and we don’t know the way back to the city from here,” Palom outlined quickly. “What are we going to do Rydia?”

She took a step closer to the mural, mouth parting slightly. A trick of the light. She thought she had really seen something move within the picture. A glimmer of white.


And again.

The Caller gave a soft gasp as the light condensed into a hazy shape, reflecting from the sheen of stone. A gentle pressure capered at the back of her mind, once again vast yet comforting. She reached out to the shape with one hand. The closer her fingers drew, the more focused the light became. Until there was no mistaking the White Dragon.

-Caller Rydia… I am here. It is time for you to release me.-