There is an odd superstition among humans referred to as a "sixth sense." There is no concrete way of describing it, either. The most anyone has ever gotten are things like "intuition," "premonition," or feeling as though one isn't alone.
Once, Videl asked Eleanor to describe it in her own words. "I guess...if something happened to someone you cared about, you would know instinctively. No matter how far away you are, you would know in your heart."
Videl isn't sure what woke him up, but there is no denying that awful churning in his stomach.
Something feels wrong.
Very, very wrong.
Ever since Laphicet and his friends booted Innominat, and he became Maotelus (Eleanor filled him in on everything), Videl has made annual trips to the Empyrean's Throne. As it turns out, his resonance is strong enough to let him keep seeing the malakhim (malakhim, seraphim, same thing); so he was able to keep talking with his best friend about the world.
Of course, the Empyreans' awakening shifted the continents drastically, which pulled the shrine incredibly far from Loegres, now currently Pendrago (and Videl may have...gotten into a series of horrible accidents that ended in him becoming an earth seraph); but that never stopped him.
What is stopping him is the utter silence. It's too silent. Even with nothing happening around him, he should still feel at least a trace of Laphicet's presence in the earthpulse.
He crawls out of his tent and presses his hand flat on the ground.
His heartbeat picks up as he concentrates as much as he can—come on, come on, come on—but no such luck.
He huffs, brushing back messy hair out of his face. Okay, Videl. Calm down. Maybe Phi's not feeling like himself today. Yeah, it wouldn't be the first time he's taken a day off every few centuries... Except Phi's presence never up and vanished like that.
Time to pay Camlann a visit.
Earth seraph or no, it turns out Videl wasn't the only one who felt some kind of shift. The trek was too long for his liking, but he finally catches Eleanor, Grimoirh and Kamoana are passing through the gate to Elysia, no doubt either meeting with Gramps, or heading straight for Camlann.
"Hey! Guys!" Videl sprints up the hill probably faster than a wind seraph. Not too far away, Gramps stands with a grim expression on his face as he motions for them to follow him to his house.
Everything else that happens after is...pretty much a blur.
Gramps explained everything. Some jerk from Rolance, Heldalf, occupied the village, extending said occupation to the shrine. Then Hyland troops invaded, and instead of protecting the villagers like he said he would, he turned tail like a coward and ran, taking every last one of his men with him.
In retaliation, Michael gave his and his nephew's lives to curse him, but in the process...
Videl can't even raise his voice, much less speak. Grimoirh seems to pick up on this, so she does the talking for him. "How far does the corruption go?"
"It stops short within the depths in my old shrine, the Mabinogio Ruins. Muse gave her life to seal the malevolence, and halt it within Camlann's range."
Not only did Michael sacrifice himself and his sister's infant son to curse one man, but Muse gave herself up to stop the malevolence in its tracks? As much as he wants to applaud her determination, he also wants to go down there and take her spot—!
"So the rest of Glenwood is safe, as long as Muse continues to be the seal and buy us time. But until we find a Shepherd, Camlann is no longer accessible to humans, or seraphim without a pure and particularly powerful vessel.
"However, no Maotelus means no Silver Flames to purify malevolence. Even if we found a powerful Shepherd, he or she wouldn't be able to wield those flames, leaving hellions running amok and malevolence growing even outside of Camlann. And if the Shepherd is corrupted, the seraphim he forms pacts with will be corrupted as well, turning into dragons." The normin sighs and covers her face wearily with one hand. "Michael, you've really done it now..."
Gramps clears his throat. "I wouldn't say all hope is lost."
Videl picks up his head, eyes widening. He doesn't want to get his hopes up, but if there's a way of saving his friend—
"Lailah has taken an oath that allows her wield Maotelus's Silver Flames."
He launches right out of his seat, his heart singing. "Where is she now!?"
"Resting within a sacred blade in Ladylake."
Eleanor stops Videl from running out the door. "But even if Lailah took an oath for that power, she still needs a pure vessel. We don't have any candidates right now, and Muse is obviously out of the question."
"What if I took her place?" Videl pleads. "Muse has done so much. She doesn't deserve to be stuck down there near Camlann."
Grimoirh shakes her head. "I'm afraid that won't be possible. Even if you were able to withstand the malevolence, it would only be a matter of time before you turned into a dragon."
"Are supposed to sit around and wait until someone pure enough comes along?" Videl clenches his fists. "What if we don't have that kind of time!?"
"Hey, hey." Kamoana slowly stands up, drawing everyone's attention. "Let's all take a deep breath. If Phi could see us right now, it would only make him really worried. I'm sure we'll figure something out like we always do, so chin up!"
Eleanor nods, brightening along with Grimoirh. "Kamoana's right. What's done is done, now we have to focus on how to clean up this whole mess. Lord Zenrus, was Lailah taking the oath the only thing that happened afterwards?"
"I was actually about to discuss that." Gramps slowly rises from his chair, elderly bones cracking and making everybody cringe, and ambles towards another room. "We've already woken them up with our talk, but try not to make sudden noises."
Grimoirh is already inside, and has stopped in front of two...cribs? "Well, this is an interesting development."
They enter the room, and find two slightly fussy little infants in their own cribs.
Eleanor looks at Videl.
Videl looks at Eleanor.
"Aaaw!" Kamoana coos at the white-haired child, who squeals in delight when she gently blows water bubbles in his face. "They're so cute!" She pauses and squints at him. "I feel like I've seen him somewhere..."
"Um...how..." For the second time, Videl is at a loss for words, though not as much as before. "How are two babies going to help save the world and Maotelus?"
How Grimoirh is able to smirk at a time like this, Videl doesn't understand. "Why don't you take a closer look?"
Kamoana suddenly gasps. "Videl! Look at his eyes!"
"Hm?" At Kamoana's frantic prompting, Videl crouches down and meets the baby at eye level.
His eyes are purple.
"I—is this...!?" Videl glances at Gramps, who proudly smirks like he just pulled a fast one on the Lord of Calamity from six centuries ago. "Mikleo!? But you said Michael—...!"
"He did sacrifice Mikleo, and Mikleo did die, yes. I also refashioned him into a seraph, as you can see."
Eleanor, on the other hand, seems more worried than before. "Lord Zenrus..." She turns her gaze to the right, where seraphic healing artes are clearly cast around the crib. "This one is..."
Gramps hums. "Sorey. He was born prematurely, likely from the stress the Hyland invasion placed on his mother."
"The poor child..." Eleanor reaches into the crib, but stops short of touching a single hair, turning to the elder seraph. "May I?"
"Of course. Just be careful not to take him out of range."
Videl watches over Eleanor's shoulder as the former Shepherd picks up the tiny brunet (gods he can't be any bigger than her hands), and holds him close to her chest.
The redhead coos softly when Sorey begins to whimper and wriggle. "It's alright, little one. I won't hurt you. You're safe here..."
Behind them, Grimoirh hums. "It's a miracle those two survived the destruction, but we still have one more problem on our hands. What of Heldalf?"
Eleanor snaps her head up at Gramps. "That's right, you said Michael cursed Heldalf. Where is he now?" As if sensing the change in the mood, the two children whimper and cling to their respective holders. Eleanor winces, carefully lowering Sorey into his crib. "We should take this back outside."
It took more than a few minutes to get Sorey and Mikleo to let go, having gotten attached to Eleanor and Kamoana in spite of the brief time.
"I imagine he's on his way back to Rolance." Gramps takes a puff from his pipe. "I will be honest. I don't know what kind of curse Michael inflicted on Heldalf."
Videl makes his way to the door again. "I'll tail him and keep an eye on things in Rolance."
"I'll contact Bienfu." Grimoirh begins scribbling on parchment. "Hopefully, I'll find a Turtlez around, or borrow one of the sylphjays on Spiritcrest..."
"Much appreciated, but..." Gramps gestures to a spare house nearby. "That one is meant for Sorey when he grows older so it's still unoccupied, and it's quite late. Why don't you rest before heading out?"
All eyes turn to Sorey.
"Mmmm...!" He reaches out towards Kamoana with tiny mitten hands. "Oh!"
Videl blurts out, "I think he's trying to say your name."
Kamoana all but darts back in for Sorey, excitedly encouraging Sorey to say the rest of her name. "Come on, little guy! You can say it!"
Tonight is definitely ending on a better note, all things concerned. Videl peeks outside, then back at Sorey and Kamoana. "...Sure. I think I'll stay for a while."
Michael's curse on Heldalf turned out to be drastic. "An eternity of solitude," Gramps murmurs, "living in a hell of his own making."
Misfortune after misfortune befell Heldalf. Disgraced in the Rolancian military, gradually becoming the laughing stock around the country, family (including children) assassinated, driven to suicide and yet unable to do so because of his newfound immortality, seen as a monster unable to be killed...
Yeah, Heldalf deserved some kind of punishment, but isn't this too much...?
Grimoirh sips her tea. "A fate worse than death, indeed. One can only go so far, through so many tragedies, without emotional and mental support." She hums, then glances at Videl. "You said, after some time of accumulating malevolence, Heldalf went missing?"
"Uh, yeah." He tries to recall the last time he had seen the former general. "Last I saw him, he was leaving Pendrago. I tried to keep up with him but, somehow, I lost him in the Volgran Forest."
The normin frowns. "The malevolence from him was enough to keep you away, even when you had a pure vessel?"
Videl suddenly feels ill, reaching into his jacket's pocket and gripping the talisman Laphicet gave him. "...Yeah. It was more than enough." He's slowly seeing the picture Grimoirh is painting with her questions, and he doesn't like it one bit. "I tried to get closer, but I got so sick from the malevolence, I blacked out. He was gone when I woke up."
Eleanor turns her gaze down to the window, they can all see Sorey and Mikleo running around and splashing each other in the pond. "To think such a weight is on those two..."
Not even Kamoana seems to find the strength to be cheer up. With another possible Lord of Calamity of such magnitude, how can she?
Videl completely missed the call, as did Eleanor. "I said I'd be there for them...for Phi..."
Eleanor pats his back. "As did I. But you know, maybe this wasn't our mission to begin with. After all, the point of traveling and having a journey is personal growth." Then out of nowhere, she stamps her foot. "Still, it was completely reckless of him to just leave in the middle of the night without telling anyone! He could have run into hellions without Mikleo to back him up!" Seems her motherly instincts have been turned on. Oh dear...
Gramps chuckles. "Yes, it was. But that's what some people are. Completely reckless."
They did it.
That is the only thing Videl can think about as he sprints up the broken steps to the top of the Empyrean's Throne, the malevolence gone and no longer hindering him. They did it they did it they did it they did it—
He heard the whole thing from Sindra in Lastonbell, what Sorey was planning to do, so he has to get there before they—
He sees a glowing figure on the pedestal outside the main hall of worship. A boy somewhat younger than Sorey, with short blond hair tipped with silver in a ponytail—
He only gives Laphicet so much time to react before Videl tackles him in a hug, almost knocking both of them to the floor. "V—Videl!?"
The next few minutes are spent with Videl reduced to tears and pathetic hiccups while Laphicet holds him tight and murmurs reassurances of "Yes, I'm here, I'm okay, it's over now, I'm here—"
Videl finally forces himself to ask, "How much time do you have...?"
Laphicet smiles sadly, a hand reaching up to Videl's face and wiping another stray tear away. "Only another minute... Videl—"
"I know." Videl rests his head on Laphicet's shoulder. "You gotta leave for several years."
"Wait for me?"
He snorts. "Out of anything and everything you could have said, that's the most cliche thing I've heard this year."
"Hey! Sorey's got someone waiting for him, too!" No points for guessing who that "someone" is.
Laphicet playfully knocks Videl off, and holds his fist out. "Once more, with feeling. Wait for me?" Videl huffs, holding his own fist out and bumping their wrists together.
"Always, you doof."