Episode 1

"We're Nexus News! At the great battle between the Chosen One, Sebastian Warwick, and the Dark Lord Noxian! The Chosen One's party have made their way to the magical rift that Dark Lord Noxian is attempting to consume. Wait! The moment is here! The Chosen One is charging in to give the final blow and-"

"That was the last transmission received from our on-site action news crew of the battle. The aftermath of the battle has been inconclusive. Our Nexus News investigative team is diligently gathering accounts from witnesses and we will report when we have more. Our technical experts are attempting to recover footage from damaged recording equipment. Thankfully, the magical rift was sealed. But no sign of Dark Lord Noxian was found and his whereabouts are presently unknown. Unfortunately, the only trace found of the Chosen One was the Legendary Sword of the Spirit Realm-"

The old and battered television screen blacks out and the faint, internal click sounds off as the unit powers down. A brown haired, overweight man sits on the couch in t-shirt and boxers. He tosses the remote onto the makeshift milk crate and two-by-four table. Sinking into the old, ripped couch, he blows the white streak in his hair out of his eyes. A distant, disconnected stare forms on his face, and a somber sigh slips out. His mind sifts slowly through the heavy thoughts as his shoulders slack with mental fatigue. "Shit, Sebastian... I... I-I can't believe it. I mean, you had your shit together. An awesome party. THE magical sword. The battle was going your way... You had Noxian's ass in a sling after that attack."

Another voice ethereally echoes in the room. "I know, bro. I thought I had him, too. But, the bastard had that one nasty trick up his sleeve."

The man holds his hands up in the air and puzzles out loud. "Well, what the fuck would have been that powerful to take you down-"

Pausing a moment in shock, he slowly pivots his head to the ghostly figure lounging on the other half of the couch. His blue eyes spring open as his pupils narrow to mere pinpoints. A shriek of terror strikes an octave short of glass shattering. "AHHH!"

Backpedaling frantically up the back of the couch, the heavy set man launches himself into arc and flops a meter away upon the floor. He continues the panicked slide on the carpet and plows through takeout boxes, dirty laundry, video games, books, and empty cans of caffeinated and alcoholic beverages. "AHHH! AHHH! AH-"

The ghostly figure rockets into the air from the couch with hands on his ears. His ethereal form zooms to within mere centimeters of panicked man's face. "BACH! SHUT THE FUCK UP!"

Bach's mouth seals firmly as he stares wide eyed, pale in shock. The apparition removes his hands from ears with a relieved sigh. "Gods, I've forgotten how loud your shrieking is!"

A flash of recognition springs up Bach's face as he concentrates upon the transparent form. "S-S-S-Sebastian?!"

Sebastian leans closer and eyes Bach with a slight curl to the corner of his mouth. "Yes."

Bach blinks uneasily with horror bubbling into his face. "Oh gods! You've come to haunt me! All those times I got revenge against you- You're going to make me pay now..."

Holding his hands out, Sebastian slowly waves them up and down to put Bach at ease. "No. Calm down, bro. I'm not here to haunt you."

Keeping his eyes on Sebastian, Bach turns his head away slowly. "Okay."

Sebastian twists his mouth and averts his eyes momentarily. "Well, not exactly."

Glancing around the rundown living space, Bach slowly mouths out the words as discomfort grips his expression. "Okay..."

Righting his ghostly form in front of Bach, Sebastian regains his footing, stands upright, and drifts down to contact the floor. "So... Long story short, I may have died, but I'm not dead."

Bach narrows his stare apprehensively and furrows his brow with growing curiosity. "No shit, man."

Sebastian snaps an annoyed glare back at Bach, and curls his upper lip with a frustrated sneer. "Stop being a smart ass."

Getting back onto his feet, Bach walks over to the small kitchen island. He sits down in a rickety seat next to aged stained island in the small combo kitchen/dining area, and squints uncertainly at Sebastian. "Fine. Sorry. Just a lot to process at once. So, um..."

Drifting over near Bach, Sebastian crosses his arms and recites a summation. "The Sword was able to capture the magical energy around the area. We're guessing it captured my spirit, mind, body, or whatever in the moment Noxian blasted me. And, it stored me within. I'm still figuring out the details, it's all still a blur. Bad news. I'm bound to the sword."

Bach quirks a brow and cocks his head intrigued. "Good news?"

The ethereal brother cracks a short grin as he eyes Bach. "I can be brought back with a substantial amount of the right magical energy infused into the sword."

Bach sits up straight for a moment, lost in thought. "I see. With enough of the right magical energy... It'd power whatever it does to fix up or reform your body, then I guess attach your mind or consciousness to the body. Probably like one of the old school resurrection spells."

Opening his arms out, Sebastian nods with a proud smile and chuckles. "EXACTLY! It's good to know those years in adventuring school weren't wasted!"

Bach grimaces with a grumble and sighs with stale pain. "Dammit, man, don't bring that up. I was doing just fine in school and I know my shit. Just never cared for the whole... risk your life everyday thing."

Brushing back a white streak in his translucent brown hair, Sebastian perks his brow with a sly smirk. "Well, that's why I'm here. I know you know all your stuff. And, you can help me out... Right?"

An awkward silence looms over the two and presses down around them. Sebastian hovers closer to his brother and focuses his attention upon him. Bach leans over to his fridge, intentionally avoiding eye contact. He opens the door and pulls out a bottle of cola. Using one of the drawer handles to pop the cap off, he eventually meets his brother's gaze and sighs. "Ah, fuck it. I'll give it a try for you."

Sebastian's ethereal form momentarily brightens. "YES! I knew I could count on you."

Bach sets up a swig from his drink and glances hesitantly at his brother while he ponders out loud. "Okay. So... Where are we going to get this ancient power source? Given how old that sword probably is, it can't be anything common today. Ancient ruins? Magical rifts in weird zones? Maybe, old magical focal points? It's going to be hard to hunt down one find one substantial enough. And the right type, too. Damn, we might be looking for a while if it needs something like raw elder power."

As Bach tips back the glass bottle and pour the soda back, Sebastian awkwardly shifts his eyes away from Bach, and swiftly slips out. "Lord Noxian's Heart."

Swallowing almost half the bottle of cola in one, painful gulp, Bach opens his eyes wide in horror. He struggles to contain the beverage, tears welling, and finally gasps for breath. "NOXIAN'S HEART?!"

Sebastian snaps his fingers to a point, right at Bach. "Yes, and you must be the one to plunge the sword through it."

Bach sputters and coughs, leaning away away from the ghostly finger. "ME?!"

Putting his hands up in the air off to his sides, Sebastian shrugs. "You're my twin."

The bottle clanks on the kitchen island, and Bach hastily wipes his mouth in confusion. "Fraternal twin! The sword knows that, right?! You did tell it that, right?!"

Sebastian scratches the back of his head and rolls his eyes. "As long as we share enough chromosomes, it'll work. From what we could gather from the sword, it should allow you to activate it fully."

Bach places his hands on his temples and then throws them forward. "DUDE! Lord Noxian almost wiped you clean from existence! And you want ME to try that?!"

He leans in to glare at his brother. His brother reflects the emotion. The two stare each other down. After tense seconds pass in silence, Sebastian speaks firmly with encouraging hints. "Listen, bro. We don't know where Lord Noxian is and his power is weak. He won't be trying anything soon. From what we know, he is going to be recovering for some time after this. Which will be plenty of time to get YOU into fighting shape again."

Bach crosses his arms, sighs, and drones in a lower tone. "You do realize, I was never really in a fighting shape."

Devious hints tinge Sebastian's grin, and he chuckles. "Well, I guess we ALL are going to have to work extra hard to get you there, whether you like it or not."

Bach's eyes spring all the way open. "We ALL?"

A door bell rings throughout the small, rough house, and the sound echoes faintly against the barren walls. Bach scans around for the source of the noise and furrows his brow bewildered. "I have a doorbell... that works?"

Sebastian's ethereal form unknowingly drifts into the kitchen island with a sly smirk. "Well, they're here. My party. More correctly, OUR party."

Bach's expression withers into nervous dread, and he darts uneasy glances around. "All of them?! The Half-emin, Grath, Fvalian, and that Evuukian?"

With a sinister ear to ear grin, Sebastian trains his full attention to Bach. "Yes. All of them, ESPECIALLY the Evuukian, want me back among the physical living."

Bach stares at his brother, his head turns side to side as his eyes examine his brother from different angles. Sebastian backs away after noticing. "What?"

The corner of Bach's mouth pulls to a smirk, and he perks an eyebrow. "You and the Evuukian?"

Sebastian's ghostly form puffs his chest, and he confidently grins. "Yes."

Bach laughs and shakes his head. "Huh, I thought their whole cultural bias thing would never allow it?"

The flash of ego subsides, and Sebastian crosses his arm. "Well, officially. It's a little complicated."

After watching his brother think about the concept, he motions his head to the door. "Hey, could you answer the door? I physically can't. Don't want to keep them waiting and all."

As Bach walks over to the door, he remembers his overly casual attire and pat his faintly stained t-shirt and wrinkly boxers. He musters a bit of courage and carefully cracks the door open. "Oh hey... Everyone."

The half-emin, grath, fvalian, and that evuukian stand around concrete steps leading up to the small rundown house in the outskirt town. None have the most enthused expressions, except the Fvalian. She gives a greeting smile, with her sharp teeth. With a few remaining shreds of confidence, Bach smiles and holds a finger up to the group. "If you give me a few minutes, I'll get ready and come on out. I wasn't expecting to travel so soon."

The large, muscular Grath woman crosses her arms and grumbles in a low tone with a trailing sigh. "Hurry. Up."

Bach nervously strains a grin to gritting teeth as the door closes. He looks expectantly at his brother, and Sebastian bounces his eyes to either side. "What?"

Bach motions his hands down himself and lifts an annoyed brow. "A little privacy, man? I gotta get dressed."

Sebastian rolls his eyes and waves his hand as he drifts towards the front of the house. "Oh, right. Sorry, being on the adventuring road so much, you start to not worry about that."

After Sebastian slips through the front wall of the house to greet his party members, Bach pauses for a moment and thinks to himself. Simmering apprehension and worry drive his glances around the room, and he briefly stares towards the back of the house.

The party intensely discusses future plans. The tall, muscular grath woman retrieves a large map from inside a modified, ancient humvee and rolls it out upon the hood in one motion. The fvalian hops out of the driver's seat, climbs out the large, open roof hatch, and slides down the windshield. She stretches out her small, lithe frame and pins down the two corners of the map with a heel each. Holding down the top edge in the middle with a hand, she taps upon the map with a claw tip. The half-emin steps up in front of the grill and flips the hood of her cape off. Placing her hands on the sides of her waist, she picks at her belt of pouches with long black nails. She sighs, and her golden eyes glance at the fvalian on the hood. Leaning forward, she places a nail point on another part of the map. "Cideeda... We talked about this. There's no reason for Noxian to go back there."

Cideeda's long, furry tail flicks out from behind her, and she presses a claw tip down her choice on the map. "I know, Sotalia! But, you can't deny there might be some stuff left. Maybe notes, or some clues to where he may have gone."

Sotalia straightens her back and stands a moment to ponder before grimacing at the bright sun beating down. With a frustrated sneer, she pulls the toque off her head, letting down her dark red hair and revealing a pair of swept back horns. "What is with the weather around here?! It was near freezing last night at the hotel, now it feels like summer!"

The grath woman wipes beads of sweat off her tan forehead, shifts a number of platinum blonde hair braids, and removes her leather jacket. Walking over towards an open door, she leans into the vehicle and tosses it onto the back bench of the humvee. "Not the worst change in weather experienced. Surprising still."

Sotalia nods to the grath woman and loosens up her cape off the shoulders. "I know. Do you have to just keep two seasons of clothes out all the time?"

Cideeda rolls her emerald green eyes, leans back on the windshield, and combs through her short, multicolored hair with her clawed fingers. "I'll agree with Dretphi. But, it's better than it being as cold as it was on that ridge getting here."

Sotalia and Dretphi each nod in agreement, before continuing the debate over where to go next. Standing off to the side an ivory skinned, lean figure, confidently rests a hand upon a large sheathed sword at her side. Sebastian's ghostly form glides over to her side. She smiles gently as he approaches. "So, did he agree to help us, Sebastian?"

Sebastian pridefully puffs his chest out with a heroic grin. "Of course, my dear!"

She breathes a sigh of relief and rolls some tension out of her shoulders. Twisting her foot inside her boot, discomfort flashes on her face, and she twists a grimace. Glancing around, she finds nothing conveniently around her. Lifting up her boot while keeping balance, she undoes a few buckles, and eventually works her leg free of the knee high boot. "The finest artisans crafted these boots for my family. And, yet, they still manage to find every loose rock in the area..."

She aggressively shakes her boot until a stray rock tumbles out and narrows an irritated glare at the offending pebble. Drawing a long calming breath, she balances on one foot and slides her leg back in. Taking a few moments to readjust her fine clothing back to a neat presentation, she gazes at Sebastian with a roll of her violet eyes. Sebastian shrugs his shoulders. Cideeda waves over to Sebastian and the evuukian woman with a toothy grin. "Hey! Aristespha! Sebastian! Are you two going to join in on this argument? Or, do you want to be ALONE?"

Aristespha checks the sword, resumes a distinguished posture, and gazes lovingly over to Sebastian. "Let's not keep them waiting."

The group eventually settles upon a rough plan. During the lull in the debate, Sebastian gazes over towards Bach's house and furrows his burrow. Cideeda glances around to the spaces around the house and follows her perking furry ears. The rest of the party halts the discussion and curiously glances towards the run down structure. Hovering over to the dirty brickwork wall, Sebastian leans his upper ethereal form through the front wall. After a few seconds, he pulls back for a moment confused and goes all the way through into the house. Cideeda's ears flick around again, and she twists her mouth. "That sounds like the kick starter of a motorcycle."


The ethereal, booming, echoing eruption seizes the attention of everyone. Sebastian launches out of the building with his ghostly figure billowing red with ethereal flames. "THE BASTARD SQUEEZED HIS FAT ASS THROUGH THE BATHROOM WINDOW AND IS ESCAPING ON HIS BIKE! GET HIM!"

The muffled rumble of a motorcycle blasts out over the battered roof of the house. Tires spin up and dirty gravel peppers the back of the small house. Frantically throwing everything into the humvee, the team rushes aboard. Cideeda floors the accelerator, and the machine spins out towards the back road behind the house. Sebastian stands on the roof, floating in sync with the humvee, and ahead glares at angrily. He roars out at the man on the side-car motorcycle many meters down the back road. "WHERE ARE YOU GOING, BACH?!"

The Bach glances behind him, and spots the ethereal figure, flaming red with rage. He snaps his head forward, contains a reflexive scream of fright between clenched teeth, and opens up the motorcycle throttle.

The motorcycle speeds as fast as the barely paved roads allow. The small town streets remain empty on an early morning as Bach darts through an empty bank parking lot. He sharply turns down a side step around an advertising sign flashing the current date "Sunday March 2nd, 3017". Darting his gaze around in a panic, he spots a narrow alley and power slides the motorcycle with a heavy lean to line up the approach. Zipping between the trash filled passage, the humvee turns away at the last moment and launches powerfully down the roadway, and turns down an intersecting route. The powerplant of the military machine screams, and the huge vehicle accelerates. Down the long stretch of rural highway, the humvee closes the divide between it and the sidecar motorcycle. Sebastian launches from the roof, and flies towards Bach. He hovers himself in front of the motorcycle and loosely anchors himself near the handlebars opposite of Bach. "I THOUGHT YOU WERE GOING TO HELP ME, BACH!"

Bach leans his head left and right around Sebastian's ghostly form, each time meeting the enraged, transparent face of his brother. "DAMMIT, SEBASTIAN! I'M TRYING TO FUCKING DRIVE HERE!"

Sebastian looms his face forward. "FUCK YOUR DRIVING! WHAT ABOUT HELPING ME?!"

Bach narrows his eyes at his brother, and a faint blue glows from his pupils. "Well! Maybe you should mention needing to destroy a world ending horror BEFORE asking your brother to help! Full disclosure, man!"

Sebastian continues his ranting. "FULL DISCLOSURE!? I was trying to be nice about the whole situation! Because YOU are GOING to HELP ME whether you like it or not-"

Bach nods his head and raises it, eyes pulsating blue, and Sebastian blinks blankly. Cocking the back of his left hand away from the handle of the motorcycle, Bach stares at his brother as flows of magical energy coat his arm. "Full disclosure. This might sting."

After a blur, a loud resonant clap follows the impact as the back of Bach's hand pushes into Sebastian's shocked face. His ethereal, warping visage tumbles loose from Bach's motorcycle and returns right back into the sword on Aristespha's lap. The others in the humvee glance over in absolute surprise. Streaming out from the sword, Sebastian frustrated visage reforms in the seat next to Aristespha. Sotalia spins around in her front seat towards Sebastian. "How the fuck did he do that?!"

Sebastian grumbles in a low tone. "I told you. My brother is full of surprises. He was ranked the same as ME in adventuring school."

Drawing herself forward from the back seat, Dretphi positions herself between Sebastian and Aristespha. "How do you want us to capture him?"

Sebastian sighs with irritation tainting his tone. "Alive."

Dretphi narrows her steely gray eyes and slowly shakes her head. She directs a stern expression at Sebastian and focuses an unamused glare. Sebastian groans. He twists his mouth and averts his face away from Dretphi's piercing stare. "I know... Just no permanent injuries, please! He's just running scared, but he's not going to make it easy."

Cideeda briefly pulls herself over the steering wheel and squints her emerald green eyes on the motorcycle. Holding her hand up to the open hatch, she directs the air above into her light brown face and sniffs. "It's a biodiesel engine. Sotalia, how far can your freeze spell reach, again?"

Perking her brow, Sotalia glances over. "Pretty far if I narrow the ray down. But, it won't be as cold."

Cideeda points at the motorcycle ahead and grins toothily. "Think you can hit it at this range with a headwind?"

Nodding confidently, Sotalia smiles slyly. "Of course."

With a motion of a claw tipped finger, Cideeda directs Sotalia's attention to a series of metal tubes on the engine. "Those are the fuel lines. Freeze them and it should stall the engine out."

Sotalia rolls up the long sleeves of her top and stands up in her seat. Steadying herself within the open top hatch, she grasps the top of the windshield and aims with a free arm extended ahead. She swiftly gestures with her hand and incants while symbols along her light tan and dark gray patterned arm glow brighter and brighter. "Try to get me closer if you can."

With an eager grin, Cideeda floors the accelerator and guides the humvee closer to the motorcycle. Bach snaps a worried glance back. Maintaining careful aim with concentration, Sotalia summons up the flows of magical energy down and releases the power. As the humvee tire rolls over a large rock, the beam of energy lances out. The ray hits a much higher target and contacts small of Bach's back and swiftly jumps up between the shoulders. Bach screams in shock, reflexively tenses up, and nearly clenches up the entire motorcycle seat. Sotalia twists out embarrassment on her face and quickly gathers more energy for another attempt. "Stupid bump! I'll get it this time!"

Another beam of energy streaks out and hits the tubing around the engine, forming a misting coating of ice over the metal. As Bach recovers from the surprise, he notices the motorcycle engine sputter. Leaning over, he spots the ice on the fuel lines. "Shit..."

He snags up a backpack from sidecar, and throws it over his shoulder. Keeping a grip on the handle bar, he steadies the machine as the engine completely gives out. When the motorcycle nearly stops from the coast, he spring into a run towards forest near road. The humvee brakes to a hard stop, and the back passenger's side door flies open. Dretphi launches herself and lands in a full sprint. Between the trees, Bach rushes across the forest floor, nearly stumbling. Loud snaps and rustles erupt from behind him, and he twists his head back. Dretphi powers through the dense floor, glides over the terrain without trouble, and swiftly covers the distance. Bach's eyes open wide in fright with a slight blue glow. When Dretphi closes right next to him, she reaches out. When her hand hovers over to grab, Bach speeds forward out of her grasp. Dretphi watches in astonishment as his footsteps grow faster and each stride lengthens. With speed unfitting his physique, Bach leaves Dretphi behind to her disbelief. A crackly voice sounds off in Dretphi's ear from a radio. "Dretphi? Have you caught him?"

Between heavy breaths Dretphi responds. "No. He. Somehow. Outran. ME."

A very confused Cideeda continues on the radio. "What?! How?! Never mind. We found an access road. Are you still running west?"

Dretphi flicks her eyes up to the sky through the freshly green canopy and notes the location of the sun. "Yes."

The radio crackles out with Cideeda's voice. "Okay. We found a clearing up ahead. Keep chasing him in this direction."

Bach coughs and sputters as the forest around thins. A wave of relief washes over him as he notices the upcoming brush leading to a clearing. As Bach lands his first step outside the forest, Cideeda pops up from the tall grasses and points a modified shotgun at him. She pulls a trigger and a payload of netting and weights explode outwards from the bottom barrel. Bach's luminescent blue eyes witness the expanding strands, and he drops into a feet first slide immediately, unnaturally onto the dirt. The net flies clear over. Cideeda adjusts her aim down and rests her finger onto another trigger. Bach raises his hands up instinctively towards the direction of the barrel. With a precise squeeze, the shotgun sends another projectile with electrical probes out the top barrel. The projectile bounces sharply off a materializing golden transparent disc. Cideeda immediately cycles the shotgun and fires. The golden barrier deflects the slow stunning projectile. Bach regains his footing and flings the shield right at Cideeda with a surge of magic flow down his arm. The golden disc knocks the shotgun free of Cideeda's hand. After a reflexive wince, Cideeda snatches the golden disc from the rebound off her weapon. "How the fuc-"

As Bach sprints across the field, Aristespha confidently strides out from behind a tree on the other side of the clearing. With a precise gesture and fast incantation, waves of energy pass rush out from Aristespha through Bach. He staggers, each step more lethargic and exaggerated, until he barely manages to stand. Aristespha carefully approaches, narrows her intrigued gaze, and aims her steady hand at Bach. "Strange. Most creatures fall completely asleep. There may be something to your brother's claims after all."

Something inside Bach stirs, and he tips his head up against the effects of the spell. He remains standing, while Aristespha's curiosity shifts to genuine caution. Bach flutters his eyes and starts to regain his senses as the effect of the spell fades. Shock sparks on Aristespha's blue and gray hinted, ivory face and she releases another wave of energy. Bach slowly drops into an unconscious heap and flops out onto the grass with a faint snore. Sebastian's ethereal form floats next to Aristespha, and she snaps her head at him with a harsh frown. "You did not mention how DIFFICULT he would be to capture. Sebastian."

Sebastian drifts back and shrugs. "I said he's full of surprises. But, I honestly didn't expect he'd be able to pull this much off."

Cideeda arrives holding the golden disc at her side, and glances over to the slumbering Bach. "Wow! He sure put up a fight. I'll have to use specially made restraints on him."

She passes off the golden disc to Sotalia as she stops from a jog. Sotalia examines the disc with confusion and intrigue. After digging through her utility vest pockets, Cideeda pulls out a collection of restraints. In between securing Bach, she pats him down, turns out pockets, and searches his backpack. "Looks like he was planning to run pretty far. A bit of money, passport, and a fake ID."

Sebastian hovers over and joins her in examining all the random things found. Sotalia pauses from investigating the golden disc and gazes between the team. "Where did this come from? Did he have it with him?"

Cideeda pulls her attention away from looting and thinks back to recent memory, lifting an eyebrow. "Um. No. It appeared when I tried shooting him with the stunner rounds. Pretty weird. Just popped into existence."

Glancing over to Cideeda curiously, Sotalia furrows her brow. "Have you found any artifacts on him?"

Surveying the items on the ground, Cideeda shakes her head. "No. Nothing I think is magical."

Sotalia holds the golden, translucent disc in front of her and squints in mild disbelief. "So... you're saying he conjured this?!"

Shrugging her shoulders, Cideeda tilts her head to the side. "I guess. I didn't see him do any kind of incantation. It just materialized."

Craning her head over to Sebastian with a growing glare, Sotalia furrows her brow. Sebastian eventually notices the concentrated attention upon him and glides over to Sotalia. "Yes?"

Sotalia narrows her golden eyes at Sebastian and takes a step forward to bring her face closer to his. "You said he FAILED out of the mage program."

Sebastian's eyes dart around confused with an awkward grin trying to settle in. "Uh, yes. He did."

Holding up the golden disc in one hand, Sotalia points to it with the other. "THIS isn't the work of a failed mage!"

Sebastian uneasily shrugs, biting his lip, and tries to avert his transparent face. "Well, what do you call not passing your fifth year finals?"

Sotalia's jaw drops, and she cringes as her mind processes this information. "Wait! He made it through FIFTH YEAR?!"

Glancing around desperately, Sebastian stumbles for a better response. "Um... Uh... Yes?"

Sotalia grimaces sharply and shakes the disc, waving her hand to punctuate. "Fifth year is the last year for school work! The only reason for the sixth year is internship hours!"

Lifting his hands up in the air, Sebastian struggles for a response. Dretphi steps up, taking huge breaths and long strides while recovering from the long sprint. "Sebastian. There are things you have not told us. Need to inform us."

Sotalia motions a thumb at Dretphi behind her, keeping her glare upon Sebastian. "Exactly! While your brother sleeps, we are going to have a nice long discussion."

Aristespha crosses her arms, straightens her posture, and narrows a glare at Sebastian. "ALL of us are going to have a nice long discussion."

Sebastian smiles nervously, pivoting between all the unhappy attention. He only finds difference with Cideeda's face, as she points to an electronic device freshly fished from Bach's backpack. "What?"

With the most innocent batting of the eyes, Cideeda eagerly inquires. "Can I have this? These are really RARE. And, I have been looking for one FOREVER."

Sebastian grins halfheartedly as he glances between everyone else. "Uh, sure. Go right ahead. Yeah, um..."

Cideeda giggles with sly contentment and continues to sort through the backpack. Sebastian shrinks with the walls of his party closing in and points over to the humvee. "How about we get on the road and discuss this further?"

As the world returns to Bach's senses, conversation hits his ears. His mind reconnects with consciousness, he assesses his situation with the faintest motions. He feels the bumps of the road shaking the vehicle and constraint of the ropes binding him. Hearing the voices of those he failed to escape, he resigns to the loss with a quiet sigh. He slowly and stealthily opens an eye to survey the area. Inside the humvee, he lies in the middle aisle between everyone. He glances up to the furthest back seat to see Dretphi laying out on the bench seat with a few pillows for comfort. In the driver's side seat next to him, Aristespha holds onto the sword with its scabbard across her lap. Sebastian hovers roughly on the opposing passenger's side seat. Focusing towards the front of the vehicle, Bach watches Cideeda in the driver's seat flipping through the holographic list of music on his Universal HoloPlayer Pro. Sotalia excitedly points out a selection in the list and taps to start playing it. "I can't believe he has a copy of this! These guys were totally my favorite band back in my gloom and doom phase."

Cideeda chirps back with a sly smirk with her canines peeking out. "I told you this thing is amazing. And, it's got all the unofficial modifications and unlocks."

Aristespha sighs and groans as she reverts her attention back to Sebastian. "Back to the discussion at hand... So Bach made it to the end of his fifth year and just dropped out."

Sebastian nods with arms crossed. "Yes. He didn't even take the final test. Just walked away from it all."

Sotalia twists her seat to face behind her. "You don't just walk away from that after getting that high of marks. What happened before he left?"

Staring towards the floor board in frowning thought, Sebastian sighs. "Something happened on an assignment he went on with his instructor and a few other students. Things went really bad. Bach was the only one to get out without any serious injuries."

Concern flashes up in Sotalia's face, and she focuses upon Sebastian. "What... happened?"

Sebastian angles his head to the side and grimaces, contorting his mouth. "They ran into a Nightmare Geist."

Silent looms in the vehicle. Only the sounds of the engine and road creep into the cab. The tension drives the swelling discomfort within everyone. Cideeda unconsciously sinks her claws tips into the steering wheel cover as her stare ahead grows distant. Bach winces as memories bubble up. Sotalia breaks the silence. "A Nightmare Geist?! They all lived?!"

Sebastian uneasily darts his gaze around and simply shrugs at a loss. "Yes. Though everyone except Bach needed to be hospitalized to recover."

Dretphi straightens her posture in the back seat and furrows her brow. "There are old legends my house told me. Whole towns destroyed by such creatures. Only viable option is to use magic to seal it. Secure the vessel far from anything we value. Hope nothing disturbs it."

Cideeda's happiness drains as something more solemn overtakes, and she goes quiet. Her breath occasionally shudders as something within occupies attention not towards driving. Sotalia notices Cideeda discomfort and gently holds her shoulder. Cideeda's breathing calms and she pats a free hand on Sotalia's. Aristespha narrows her eyes at Sebastian. "So, how did they... Seal it?"

Sebastian pauses and blinks blankly. After a few false starts, he responds with a mix of confusion and uncertainty. "Sealed? It was destroyed- Maybe. No one was sure, but there was no trace of it. Maybe it just left? I don't know..."

Bach closes his eyes and keeps quiet with a trace of frown. Sotalia rubs the bridge of her nose in frustration and grumbles to herself. "They didn't say anything?! Did your own brother say anything? This is pretty damn significant."

Sebastian rests his head on his hands and echoes an ethereal sigh. "No. He's never said anything about it. In fact, that's when he grew distant, and then just stopped doing the whole school thing. I tried to get him to tell me. But, I could tell something bad happened and he didn't want to talk about it."

Dretphi settles down into the back seat again and moves some pillows around. "We may be able to help your brother."

Sebastian twists his visage to gaze at Dretphi. "I hope so."

Dretphi stares out a side window and squints in thought. "No. We will. Before he sounded incapable of fighting. Different now. He can fight. Just, not."

Bach feels fatigue washing over him again. A spark of defiance furrows his brow. After a long, silent sigh, he submits with a defeated sigh.

Bach wakes to firm tapping of a finger upon his forehead. His eyes greet Dretphi's as she stares stoically at him from above, her platinum blonde, darker ended braids draping down. "Will you cooperate?"

Bach takes a breath in and frowns. "Yes. I really don't have it in me to run at the moment anyway."

Dretphi nods and carefully lifts Bach up to seat in the humvee aisle. She undoes the many restraints on Bach. Grabbing hold of the seat to the side, he pulls himself up the rest of the way. Turns around to the open humvee side door, and slips behind the shifted seat out onto a gravel driveway. Dretphi follows right behind him and stands to her full imposing statue. Bach slowly spins around to survey the area. A single, two lane road runs through the remote countryside. The gravel leads to a well kept single level, ranch style with obvious amenities. Bach surveys the front of the house and glances behind him. "So, this place got cable TV?"

Cideeda leans hard upon the sidecar motorcycle and pushes it past Bach and Dretphi. "Not yet! The installer is coming tomorrow, sometime between eight in the morning and eight at night. At least they're honest about it around here."

Bach watches his motorcycle roll up into the garage, and a very eager fvalian begins to examine it. He glances over to Dretphi. She shrugs with a slight twist in the corner of her mouth. "She has wanted one. Among other things. She refused to leave without it."

Bach puts his hands in his emptied pockets, pushes the inner cloth back in, and shrugs. "At least it's here. It'd be gone by nightfall if it was left in Tullachester."

Flicking a furry away back from Bach's voice, Cideeda perks her brow and rolls her emerald green eyes. "That's what I said, too. Too nice to leave it out there."

Bach plods over to the open front door, and Dretphi occasionally directs him via a firm but gentle nudge. When Bach crosses the threshold, he notices the house's furnishings and plain decoration. Afternoon light slips through the windows and reflects upon the well-cared for hardwood floors. He walks into the big living/dining room and scans the vicinity. He spots Sotalia and Aristespha going over a document at the window bar leading into part of the kitchen. Pointing to the couch in front of a big screen television, he awkwardly smiles. "Probably best I stay out of the way?"

Dretphi nods and motions a hand at the television. "Yes. That would be best. Maybe you can find some channels, for now."

Bach agrees, sits down on the couch, and reaches for the remote. He idly browses the television's settings and turns his ear towards the nearby conversation.

Sotalia sits down on a stool and flips through a stack of paperwork. "Well, that's the checklist. So, everything looks in order. You want to drop this by the leasing office in town tomorrow?"

Aristespha nods as her violet eyes follow the settling pages. "I need to stop and talk to a few representatives of the local guild office for some work while we get our investigations and... Training started."

Bach narrows his eyes at that remark, watching the television search for over-the-air channels. Sotalia drops the stack of papers on the bar counter, and guides stray red locks over her black swept back horns. "Not a bad deal for a six month lease."

Aristespha smirks as she slides the document closer to her. "My family's property agent recommended it, and said it would be perfect for adventurers needing a base to operate from."

Sebastian's ghostly form settles next to Bach on the couch. After darting his blue eyes over, Bach groans as he confirms the presence. Sebastian turns to his brother and sighs. "Look, bro. I know we got off to a BAD start, but this is important stuff."

Rolling his voice with a growl, Bach keeps his head forward at the blank display. "To YOU."

Sebastian throws his hands to his sides. "To everyone, asshole! Dark Lord Noxian is going to cause trouble again, and we've been THE group closest to stopping him."

Bach's lip curls, and he scoots over to one side of the couch opposite of Sebastian. "Man, fuck you. This is all about you, and I'm just being used as your fucking proxy."

Placing the palm of his hand on his forehead, Sebastian grits his teeth with a long exhale. "BRO. This is a chance to get you in the game! Like we talked about when we were in school... All the adventures I've been on, you should have been a part of them!"

Bach sighs as he flips through the channels. "Whatever. Kiss my ass, ghost of fucking failure."

Sebastian glares at Bach, drifting opposite to Bach on the couch. "Shit, look at you! All brave now that I'm intangible and can't kick your ass."

The two remain silent on the couch. Both stare angrily at the television screen. Minutes later, the brothers actually pay some attention to the programming on the TV. Snapping out his stale ire, Sebastian cringes and grumbles. "Could you change it, bro? I can't. Gods, this crap is awful."

Bach flips the channel in search of a tolerable station and settles on the weather. "No kidding, man. Figures that be the one of the stations coming in clearly."

Silence falls again until Bach drops his head and sighs. "Goddammit. I want to help you, Sebastian. But, holy shit, there's GOT to be a better route than going to Noxian to get you released."

Sebastian leans in to whisper to Bach. "That's what I thought, too. But, Aristespha was pretty adamant about Noxian. The sword seems really tuned in on him as a source for the right magical power."

Bach sinks into the couch cushions and lets his eyes search his mind. "Well, that's a currently known source of that type of magical energy. But... There's GOT to be other places. Most artifacts just need the right type of energy, doesn't matter where it comes from. Okay, listen, Noxian is basically a conduit of really old school Elder magical energy. Rawest energy stuff. Almost all magical energy sources today are really tame in comparison to that. It's all derived from Elder, and Elder used to be the only source for a very long time."

Sebastian scratches his chin and nods. "Yeah. So, there's got to be some old ruins that might still be an easy source of that Elder energy."

Bach turns his upper body to Sebastian and gestures with his hands. "Exactly! Even if there isn't enough in one location, there's probably enough residual around to charge up the sword. So, we explore some ruins, find enough Elder energy, charge up the sword, get you back, and we both get back at Noxian."

Cracking a grins on his transparent face, Sebastian waves a finger at Bach. "I'm with you on this. Either way, you still need to get yourself into fighting shape."

Bach settles back to his half the couch and sighs. "Fine. I'll try. But, let me try to find a better route to getting you back along the way."

Sebastian smirks as he shifts back to his side of the couch. "Deal. Either way, it'll be good to get you into the action."

Rolling his eyes, Bach shrugs apprehensively. "Sure."

Sebastian thinks for a moment and uneasily glances at Bach. "Hey, your house back in that town... Um... Do we need to do anything to handle the rent, or...?"

Bach's blue eyes search his mind, and he sinks back into the couch cushions. "Not really. My lease was up this month, and I already sold most of my unimportant crap to make last month's rent. Also, I didn't expect my deposit back when I signed up for the place. About the only thing of great value I didn't cram into my backpack and the sidecar was the television. No great loss there, it was on its last legs anyway."

Sebastian stares at the television. "Yeah, that place was a real hole in the wall. Plus, you're a shitty housekeeper, bro."

Bach shakes head and eyes Sebastian. "Fuck you. It's called depression, asshole."

Sebastian tilts his head to the side. "Fair enough. Honestly, I haven't been anywhere long enough lately to really live in a place."

Bach gazes at the television. "So, how's the whole not-really-dead and ethereal thing been for you?"

Sebastian scratches the back of his head of coiffed brown hair. "You know... Not bad. Not good. It's been... Interesting. Yeah, interesting to say the least."

Both Bach and Sebastian settle in and watch television. Channels flip as the two catch up and the other members settle into the house.

The sun rises slowly in the early morning, dew glitters of the blades of grass, and life stirs in the forest nearby. Standing in the middle of the large field behind the house, Sotalia paces around in casual workout clothes and lectures to Bach. "Okay, so let's find out what you can do."

She searches around the area and points to a spot. "Stand up here. I want you to cast the standard mage bolt you learned in first year."

Bach rises up groggily and yawns, while wiping the sleep from his eyes. He shambles up to the spot Sotalia indicates and scratches his back. She crosses her arms and aims a scrutinizing stare. Bach gestures out into the vast area of the field in front of him. "So... Any target you want me to-"

Sotalia dismissively waves in the general distance of grassy open expanse, and rolls her golden eyes. "Just cast it in the air. It should dissipate before it hits anything."

Bach sniffs through the morning haze and stretches his arms back out. "Okay. Sure. I think I remember those motions."

His hands gesture through the motions of the spell, exaggerating points and drifting lethargically on others. His incantations jumble and the magical phrases butt into each other sloppily, leaving near indecipherable distinctions between parts. Narrow his faintly glow blue eyes, a swell of magical flow materializes to a perfect bolt in his palm. From his hand, the projectile flies off into the distance and bursts by hitting a tree deep in the forest.

Sotalia glares with a fleeting facial twitch she vainly tries to suppress. "That was THE sloppiest gesturing and the worst incantation pronunciation I've EVER heard. But, somehow-"

She takes a deep breath in, places her long finger nailed hands together, and releases her bubbling tension through a long sigh. "Okay. Let's try something that is more sensitive to proper spell craft, the Hover Disc spell."

Bach shrugs nonchalantly and goes through the motions. He pauses in the middle of gestures to scratch, yawns at parts, and leaves the verbal components out of sync at the end. A large hover disc forms without any trouble next to him. Sotalia's glare intensifies to a glower. She pops individual knuckles of her long black nailed fingers, each snap releasing a tiny amount of bubbling frustration. "Step. On. It."

Gazing down at the hovering disc, Bach places a foot on top. He places his weight on the disc, and it does not move, even when he lifts his other foot off the ground. The disc then glides slowly with Bach's gentle lean towards a direction. Sotalia's anger seeps into her thoughts and her golden eyes meet Bach's. Just as she's about to react, she notices the faint blue glow in his eyes. Her anger flashes over to curiosity and wonder. "Wait... That would explain it... I'll be damned..."

Bach stops moving the disc around and apprehensively raises a brow to Sotalia. "I'll be damned... What?"

Sotalia opens up her large satchel and rummages inside of it, eventually pulling out the same golden, transparent disc from yesterday's chase. Still formed and solid, it shows no signs of decay. An evil grin grows, Sotalia's golden eyes glint with a newfound intrigue. She pulls off her hoodie and begins stretching and humming a happy, ominous tune. Bach steps cautiously off the hovering disc. "Something happened. I'm not sure what. What's going on?"

Sotalia circles a finger towards Bach with a smile. "I know what you are."

Bach freezes, nervously eyeing Sotalia as he turns his head away slightly. "What am I?"

Sotalia arcs her back and pops a few joints. "A Direct Caster. You actually got all the way through the mage school with high marks. So, I bet they never tried looking for it."

Glancing around uneasily, Bach fails to find a reason for the situation. "Huh? I'm not following you all the way."

Sotalia now smiles with a spring in her step. She brushes her shoulder length red hair out of her face and around her swept back horns. "You see, those motions and sounds YOU make now, don't mean anything to you. You don't NEED them."

While sorting through her satchel, she perks her brow and rests a hand on her hip. "You may have initially needed them, but after a point you just did them to pass the tests. They don't help you get into the whole spell casting mindset anymore. Your brain just does that on its own."

Glancing over to Bach, she grins devilishly and chuckles to herself. "I don't think you've ever quite realized it... Until now."

Bach's eyes scan side to side in a vain attempt for an explanation. "Okay. Uh, this has just officially turned weird. Whoa, is that magical sparring gear you are putting on- Oh. Shit."

Holding his hands up to Sotalia, he tenses up and searches the immediate vicinity. Sotalia smiles in delight and amusement while putting on gear. "You see, Bach. I've been teaching myself to direct cast, but I've never run into anyone that naturally did it. And to find someone that got through school without anyone figuring it out..."

Bach furrows his brow and grimaces as his understanding falters. "Alright, still confused at the change of attitude here."

With a mischievous, evil grin, Sotalia winks at Bach, holding her hand up with a tiny ball of fire forming. "I thought I was going to have to play kindergarten teacher to some oddball dropout. Instead, I've just gotten the sparring partner I've been wanting, to learn all I could WANT from. Don't worry. If all goes well, you'll have my respect."

Bach's eyes widen as his expression shatters to anxious worry, and a blue glow sparks in his eyes. "Oh that does NOT fill me with good feelings. Um, I'm really, really rusty on the magic stuff. Let's take it slow and easy, just some of the basics and- Why don't we have a nice sit down class and talk about things?"

The small ball of fire fully forms in Sotalia's hand, illuminating her face. She perks her brow and smiles at Bach. "Class IS in session. Right now, your real training begins."

Cideeda sits at the dining table with various mechanical and electronic bits and pieces strewn across the table top. She plays with the holographic menu and flips through the contents of the holoplayer. Aristespha reads through old tomes and other scripture, scribing notes in a journal. The ethereal form of Sebastian hovers near her, examining the material. Dretphi sits on the couch, inspecting armor and other equipment. The sliding glass back door of the living room opens. Sotalia struts in with an ear to ear grin, wiping sweat off her light tan face with a towel around her neck. "That was NICE."

She continues around the dining table, straight into the kitchen. She opens the refrigerator and pulls out a sports drink. Sebastian eyes Sotalia and then examines her previous path. "Where's Bach at?"

Bach steps through and drags the sliding door shut. He brushes off the small singed sections of his shirt. He pulls the loose thread from the leg of his pants, turned uneven cut shorts. And, he flexes the toes in his wet sock and glances at the shoe on his other foot. Dretphi lifts her head up as Bach plods to the couch and drops onto it, opposite to her. Cideeda, Aristespha, and Sebastian observe Bach as he stares blankly ahead. In between chugs of the sports drink, Sotalia points to Bach with a confident pose. "You did REALLY good. After I catch a shower, we'll continue for the rest of the day."

Bach blinks, still not moving his head. "You should treat yourself. Take a nice... LONG... Bath. Relax. Take the REST of the day off."

Sotalia perks an eyebrow with a wry smile. "And you miss out on all this great training? I'd like to try some magic homing missiles out. Don't worry, they're just training versions."

She finishes the drink, tosses the bottle into the nearby garbage can, and walks out of the room down a hallway to one of the bathrooms. Attention briefly returns to Bach, before everyone resumes their tasks. Bach stares forward still. "So... Dretphi? Does your training tomorrow include fire, ice, bolts of energy, manic gleeful laughter, and repressed emotions feeding some form of psychosis?"

Dretphi gradually rotates her head and cocks it to the side. "No. Training weapons. Padded armor. Simple exercise routines."

Bach nods with a neutral expression. "That sounds nice."

Dretphi analyzes the state of Bach's attire. "You want a new shirt? I think mine will fit you."

Curling a lip, Bach shakes his head nonchalantly. "Nah... It'd only get destroyed. Thank you, though."

Nodding with a hint of concern, Dretphi slides over a bottle of water to Bach on the coffee table. Bach reaches out, grabs hold of the bottle, removes the cap, and starts drinking it. Dretphi cracks a small smile out of the corner of her mouth. "Maybe after training tomorrow, we will get you battle-ready clothing."

Bach nods appreciatively and returns the smile. "Thank you. That would be nice."