A quick note! I had previously said that the Rush seen so far is the one from my profile. Well that makes no sense... xD Because that only has characters from the Ethereal Cross in Mnesia's journal. 'Was a mistake on my part.

The Rush from Sync is the old fashioned one. I originally named him Christopher, as he was to take the place of Topher, who's obviously become his own character at this point. Lots of Chrisses, I know. It's my name irl, so yeah, that's why. But I'm over that phase. I have the pleasure of going through all my old Chris characters now! :3 Really wish I had named them better. I've long since stepped from that trend of having the main character be based on me, thus why I've stuck with Cruce for so long now, who isn't much like me unless you combine his personality with Topher's. The flamboyant Topher, that is. I'm off on a tangent. Whoops.

{Rush is the Phaze Guardian from the original Sync. Much like an older fashioned Sorenian, a symbol floats above his head. It is a black crescent. His hair is black and spiny, albeit having a portion over his face. He wears a gray trench coat and a high-tech eyepiece, as well as other gadgets such as his wrist devices and peculiar boots.}

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
...
...
...
"Feenix, what have you done...?"
...
...
...
-Ancient Growth Forest-

[Cruce, Safiri, and an apparent Lavender of another Safa, have set out to observe the life force of the planet: one of the majestic Ancient Growths which resides close to the Oathlands.]

(I've teamed up with what looks like both Light and Darkness in order to solve a whole mess of mysteries. From what Ethan had to say about Rush, and how Rush accepted that his enemy might be more of a friend now, this is probably a bigger deal than I can understand. I can't understand anything right now. All I know is that dimensions have crashed into each other, and I'm going to be looking for my own... I'm a Connector. That means I have a special relation to Eclipses. I have no idea what it all means. But Safiri is a special Eclipse, and she is with me... But I'm not her Connector. Lavender isn't from this world, and I doubt she's from my world, if I have one. I don't know what going to the Ancient Growth will accomplish, but Safiri brought up a good point.)

...

(I mean, after all, the Ancient Growths are the ultimate sources of life energy on Safa. Sounds farfetched, but that's how the planet works. Those huge trees are gods to the Safans here. They were born with the world, and it sounds like they exist on other Safas. So it doesn't surprise me that Safiri thinks they could act as gateways. It's our only option...)

[Having returned to the dimming forest, Lavender shows a state of slight unrest.]

Lavender: Mm... The atmosphere here is different than my home world.

Safiri: Something's wrong. It doesn't usually feel this bleak!

Lavender: I'm assuming that's bad... Very bad.

Safiri: [She nods, frowning at the general dryness of the forest.] Do you think that maybe--[Before she could finish her though, a wisp of darkness swipes her off of her feet before returning to the shadows.] EEP!!

Cruce: Safiri!! [He conjures the Crossblade not a second after the incident, idly scanning the surroundings while Lavender helps the Eclipse up.]

Lavender: Eyes sharp! We may have Nightmares!

Safiri: [Gulps nervously, returning with Lavender to Cruce. The three stand back to back to back...]

Cruce: ...(Where... Where is it? I saw it out of the corner of my eye...)

[The very same shadow bolts through the three, blowing them apart more abruptly than they can prepare for.]

Cruce: !! [He grunts, falling to his side and dropping his Crossblade, which he quickly puts a paw over to secure it.]

Lavender: Ah!! [She hops back to her feet in a quick recovery.]

Safiri: Ow... Whatever it is, it's fast. I can't tell where it's coming from... [Returns to her feet.] I should know more about that kind of thing. I run at high speeds...

Lavender: Hmm... [Squinting, she attempts to spot movement in the thickets...] ... Hm! [She identifies a change in the shadows position and reacts by throwing her paws out in front of her, a force-field of the same purple energy materializing a couple inches from her paws. The shadow makes a charge for her.]

[It strikes the force-field, knocking Lavender back a few feet, though bringing the creature to a halt.]

Safiri: [Jolts to a position behind the attacker.]

Cruce: [Makes his way to the side of the attacker, while Lavender covers the other side with a shift in magical focus, her force-field blocking the assailant off.]

Lavender: Got'cha... Oh, I'm afraid I've never seen you before. But that doesn't surprise me.

???: Ergh... [The short, reptilian creature stands on two legs, holding a single tonfa against one of his arms. He drops into a battle stance, one of his hands forward.] Hmph!

Lavender: So hasty. Stop for a moment and tell us who you're working for!

???: [Without speaking, he notices Cruce's Crossblade. Almost too fast for eyes to follow, he leaps onto the blade, then off into the cover of the trees...]

Lavender: ...[She blinks, lowering her focus on the force-field.] Well fine then! Keep your eyes peeled, you two. I've never seen a Nightmare quite like that one.

Safiri: He was fast... Cruce, are you okay?

Cruce: [He commands his Crossblade to vanish into thin air, shaking his head to regain his bearings.] I'm good. That startled me. He flew right at me...

Lavender: That confirms our suspicions. There is obviously something going on in the forest. We're going to have to pick up the pace. Come on! [She does not bother with remaining by to locate the shadow again. Lavender moves on, running on all fours now. Safiri and Cruce catch up.]

Cruce: (Lavender's determined to get to the bottom of this. I know Safiri is too, but Lavender really has some good leadership qualities. Is that innate? Or is it because she's a Phaze Guardian...? Whatever that means. I hope I can find out soon.)

Safiri: [Feeling forced to observe her surroundings.] Y-yeah, something is definitely building up here. I can smell it. The scents in the air are changing the closer we get to the Ancient Growth.

Lavender: Not good. Part of me feels like that Shade hasn't left Safa.

Safiri: Shade? The one with the cloak? I smell a different Shade though... An icy one.

Cruce: Icy? Doesn't feel too cold around here.

Safiri: I think you'll understand when you see him.

Lavender: ...I think I already do.

[Before they can reach this common interest, the shadow returns, hindering their path. Alongside this reptilian shadow are Nightmares in the shape of different Safans. One of the Nightmares is a goliath of a bear, while the other is a dingo with a ring-shaped tail.]

Lavender: No no, not you two again...

Nightmare Dingo: Well well, Lavender the Phaze Guardian. It has been too long.

Lavender: Not long enough I'm afraid. [She prepares herself.]

Nightmare Bear: And a wielder of the Crossblade. [Staring at Cruce.]

Cruce: I'd say it's none of your business, but... Maybe it is. Not like I know what's going on anyway.

Nightmare Bear: The less you know, the better. Darkness shall slice you in twain.

[The ring of the dingo's tail emits a dark aura before summoning a ball of black aura, catapulting it at the trio.]

Lavender: Nope! [With a wave of her paw, a streak of purple dispels the dark cannonball, though clearly causes Lavender some pain in alleviating the attack.] A-ack! [She flails her paw as though it were burnt.]

Safiri: You stand down! I don't know what you guys want with the Ancient Growth, but if you so much as scratch the bark of our god... You won't get away!

Nightmare Dingo: Not exactly very threatening...

Cruce: No, she pretty much threatened you. As long as I'm with her, what she thinks is bad is bad to me.

Nightmare Dingo: Enough already. [With little effort, the energy within his tail launches another sphere.]

Lavender: [This time, she puts much more effort into the defense, swinging both arms forward with momentum and casting a powerful flash of purple to dispel this second attack. It damages her much more slightly.] I'm afraid we'll have to fight.

Cruce: Fine with me. [The Crossblade makes another appearance.]

Safiri: [She readies herself for the conflict.]

[Both of the Nightmares approach slowly while the shadow figure stands, awaiting a chance to take advantage of the battle.]

Nightmare Bear: [This behemoth makes the first swing, his giant paws burning with a black fire. His target is Cruce. Cruce's inexperience with speed in this form could prove troublesome. He evades the first swing, though the bear's attacks leave him with little room for error, and for that matter, little room as the Nightmare advances.]

Cruce: [After failing to make room between him and the bear, he recklessly swings at the foe. His attack is parried by the bear's paws, which seem to absorb the kinetic energy of his attack. The more force he puts into the deadlock, the more which is absorbed.] (Ohhh... A little tougher than the others... I-I get it.)

Nightmare Bear: [He breaks the deadlock with a grunt, flinging the Crossblade out of Cruce's mouth.] Your eye for opportunities is questionable. [He brings a massive fist down to the ground, intended to strike Cruce. Safiri dashes into him at an incredible speed, pushing him away from the attack. A small splash of soil and dark energy accompanies the crushing blow to the ground...] ...Mmmm... Very well... [He stands.]

Safiri: Oomph... Sorry...

Cruce: [He shakes his head, rolling over.] N-no, it's okay, I think you saved me there. H-hey, the Crossblade! [He faces his weapon, which has been retrieved by the silent shadow. He holds it in his left hand.]

???: [Eying the blade promptly.] ...

Cruce: Yeah I don't think so. [With a brief focus in a magic of some sort, the blade vanishes from the shadow's grip, returning to his mouth.]

???: !! [The figure wheels backward, his stance intensifying.]

Nightmare Bear: Grah!! [With both paws, he attempts to squash Cruce, who again rolls, this time from harm.]

Cruce: (Whoa whoa!!) [The splash of dark energy nearly catches him. He stands.]

Safiri: Be careful! I'll watch this guy! [She turns to the silent figure.]

???: [Standing calmly, he stares back at Safiri, unmoving...]

Lavender: [Facing the dingo, she finds it more efficient to evade his attacks rather than block them with her force-field magic. Finding her way around her opponent, she casts a bolt of arcane magic to stagger him before conjuring a wall of purple aura in front of her.]

Nightmare Dingo: [Stumbles forward, though faces the other direction with an attack prepared, which he proceeds to launch at Lavender. Upon impact with her shield, both the ball and the wall shatter into fragments of mixed energy. He charges up another attack.]

Lavender: [She shuts her eyes, working to regain control of her shattered aura wall. She separates the aura from the dingo's dark force, converting the shattered wall into crystals. Throwing her arms out, these crystals are commanded to fly for the dingo. While interrupting his attack, they do minimal damage. She takes this chance to utilize the other field of her magic, which is empowered by her position as a Phaze Guardian. With her paw raised, she jerks it downward, a celestial bolt of prismatic light following the action and crashing upon the Nightmare.]

Nightmare Dingo: Mmf!! [Stricken to his chest, he groans.] ...It's... been awhile since we've battled...

Lavender: Don't say it as though it were a contest.

Nightmare Dingo: Well, I know it's not a contest. [He grins, struggling to his feet.] It's hardly a battle.

Lavender: Hm?!

???: [Facing Safiri, he finally speaks.] That's all for now.

Nightmare Bear: Hm! [Having violently struck a tree with his paw in attempt to damage Cruce. He retracts his arm... The tree falls over, ensuing in a loud crash.] ... The Princess has consigned us wisely over to the other Shade. It has worked... Now, continue in your efforts, you three.

Nightmare Dingo: You'll get nowhere, but who are we to object to you exhausting yourselves?!

???: [With a loud call in a language unknown, a black shockwave blinds his opposition. When the blackness clears, he and the Nightmares are gone.]

...

Lavender: Oh... Oh, this is worse than I had thought. The devils! I should have seen this coming! They were buying time!

Safiri: What do we do?! Should we try to find them?

Lavender: No no. We need to stick with our plan. We didn't come here to battle with Darkness. What that Nightmare said only means that Darkness was here doing something. What that is, I don't know. I do know it's bad. We'll need to investigate.

Cruce: ...Uh, yeah, and it looks like they left us a trail straight to the Ancient Growth... [The overhang of vines which the foes were standing beneath has wilted. Only death lies beyond. The color is fading from this section of the forest.]

Safiri: W-what?! This isn't right! How could they have already done this to the Growth?! Y-y-you can't just take its power in a couple minutes!

Lavender: We've been trying to catch up for a couple hours now. It has felt quicker... Something tells me the Ancient Growth is still alive and well. Let's find out what has happened.

[Again, Lavender leads the way into the seemingly dead forest. Leaves are falling green. The sunlight has turned a sickly gray, which holds true for the sky as well.]

...

Safiri: This is terrible. The Darkness I know wouldn't harm the Ancient Growth...

Lavender: I feel I should apologize for letting these scoundrels into your sacred home...

Safiri: It's not your fault. I don't see how it can be. You're not to blame. I should be thanking you! You brought us here... I hate this, but it's better than being... than... being...

Cruce: Unaware?

Safiri: Mhm...

Cruce: I hear you.

Lavender: I see the base of the tree. Let's hurry.

[They near the colossal tree... The width of its bass is nearly half a mile wide, while it towers miles into the sky, its leaves acting as cosmic clouds.]

...

-Growth of Oaths-

[The area surrounding the base is clear of trees, although those in the proximity have lost their lives. The ground beneath is lined with dry cracks as though it were a salt flat... Despite all of this, Lavender's predictions were accurate. The trunk of the massive tree seems untouched. A large, arch-shaped tunnel leads into it, although this is a natural cave. Before that cave lays a familiar Safan.]

Safiri: Whoa, no way! [A brief sprint brings her to this Safan...]

Lavender: [Walking alongside Cruce, she gazes up at the bewildering Ancient Growth.] This is... very surreal.

Cruce: [Doing the same.] It is... I feel like I've seen something like this before.

Lavender: I know I've seen this before. But seeing it on another Safa goes beyond me... Mm, seeing another Safa itself... It's been said millions of times, I'm sure, but I cannot believe this is all happening.

Cruce: (Lavender's a strong girl, but she's still asking what's on my mind. And it looks like she remembers a lot of stuff. Huh, that probably puts more grief on her, now that I think about it... Maybe I've been too emotionless about all of this, for lack of a better term... I don't know anything but the Crossblade. Well, until meeting Safiri. I came to this dimension with nothing to concern myself with but... well, myself. But with the more I'm learning, the more respect I have for this world.) ...

Lavender: ...Safiri? Who is that? [Approaching from the side of her ally, she scans this Safan.]

Safiri: He's not responding... [Though this Safan is laying on his side, the wound in his chest is visible. A dangerous amount of blood is flowing from the wound. The blood is a phosphorescent black with a bit of a blue undertone.] This... this is a Shade, Lavender.

Lavender: [She gasps quietly.] By the Light... A Shade of this dimension's Darkness...?

Safiri: Yes. His name is Daniel. We call him Danny.

Lavender: So this is the Daniel of this world... The one I know happens to be obscured with a false appearance. I wonder... Was he defending the Ancient Growth?

Cruce: [He looms over the two to see the body of the Shade.] ... (Do I... know him too?)

Safiri: ...Maybe... Poor Danny... He didn't deserve this. For him to be downed like this really scares me, guys. He's one of the most powerful Safans we know. And he's... been defeated... Violently so. We have to help him.

Lavender: An Eclipse assisting a Shade... Things do work in different ways here. I'll do what I can to seal up his injury... [Gently, she rolls the fox Safan to his back, observing the damage.] Mmmm... So that Scorpius fought him. There are signs of poison in here. He must have been forced to his back for a sting.

Cruce: A sting? That looks more like he was impaled...

Lavender: That's what you get when dealing with Scorpii. He didn't know his enemy. [She works her paws in a soothing manner on his chest, glowing with a faint radiance.] I don't know too many healing spells, but I can use my tribal magic to cleanse and seal wounds. The poison is deadly, but this looks recent, so there's hope here.

Safiri: I'm happy we made it in time for him. I know he's Darkness, but... compared to what I've seen, he's starting to look a lot less evil.

Cruce: Especially if he was here to guard your home planet.

Safiri: ...[She nods and sighs.] It's his too...

...

[Meanwhile...]

...

-Oathlands-

Rush: [Pacing back and forth in the lab of Dr. Maiwell with his hands behind his back. The lab is by all means a wreckage scene. Various parts of miscellaneous machinery create a walking hazard, though Rush isn't stupid enough to pace back and forth over debris, of course.] ...Gah, I know the others are busy, but this is huge... Another Darkness? Huge is an understatement.

Slianna: [Holding a piece of debris in her tail.] Maybe they got caught up with the same thing?

Rush: It's possible. Maybe those other freak Shades have found their way to the Antifigurate World, or Aquatica, or Soren... Or...

Slianna: Worlds beyond that, even? [Gasps suddenly.] Oh wait, what about Earth?!

Rush: Light has a lot of guys down there right now. I was there hours ago. I can't say there's been any results as of cleaning the place up.

Slianna: Hmm... Ai yai yai... [She hangs her head low.] I hope all of those other planets are safe too.

Rush: I sincerely doubt they got to all of 'em... Hey, it's getting dark. I've been on Safa for a while, but I'm still a Moon Sorenian.

Rilia: [Having been cleaning up the lab for a while, she plops to her bottom.] Whew! ...

Rush: [Blinks.] Uhm, but maybe I'll be one soon enough.

Slianna: I've studied a lot about the Ecliptic Pull on our world, believe it or not. I mean the ancient Safans called it something else, but it was always a Pull of some sort. When an offworlder comes to our home planet, they become a Safan. They are pulled into the cycle of our species until they leave. It protects our world, preserving our sacred kin. And it's powered by the five Ancient Growths.

Rush: Dad showed me a lot of books on the Sorenian pull. That one's powered by the Soul Spheres. So the pattern's pretty easy to spot.

Slianna: Abso-positively! A world's source of power has lots to do with the Ecliptic properties.

Rilia: This all sounds kinda complicated!

Rush: It's easy to catch the concept. But the magical formulas and all involved is a little more sophisticated.

[A flash of subtle light...]

Rush: Hm? Be right back. [He makes his way to the busted door of the lab, carefully squeezing through it.] We have to fix this thing... [Looking forward, he sees the source of the flash.]

Amen: {From Sync, he is Rush's father, although not obvious in his anthropomorphic canine appearance. His fur is brown, spiky hair a darker brown. While it covers one eye, it seems to tower high in a very unusual manner of strands. The fur around his mouth acts as a beard, as it is darkened. he wears symbolic, indigo robes with a gaudy, crystalline-tipped staff strapped to his back.} Son?

Rush: Dad! Danithan! [He grins, using his boots to hover to his allies. The boots emit a soft hum as they allow flight.]

Danithan: {A curiously ordinary human teenager wearing a black shirt, black jeans, and a backwards red cap over his long hair. A symbol is barely seen on his forehead. There never seems to be a moment he is not wearing sunglasses.} You called?

Amen: [Places a hand on his son's shoulder.] You worried me, Son...

Rush: I'm sorry, but this is weird. Have you guys noticed anything strange on... I think it was still Chronic you were on. The Healing Lands, right?

Danithan: Yeah, we were working with both kingdoms--past and future--to clean up the mess Riot left. Osiris dropped in for a visit. I think we scared he and Riot away for a while though.

Rush: S-so uh... Just Riot and Osiris?

Amen: Yes. No signs of Darkness. I believe the humans of Earth have found the portal leading to the planet. They are searching for the Believer.

[Rilia and Slianna exit the wrecked lab.]

Rilia: Oh, a human? And Amen?

Amen: Hello you two! [He gives an overarm wave.]

Danithan: Hey guys. Yeah I have no clue why I'm a human. I'm not calling it a drag or anything. Is there something wrong with the Ecliptic Pull? Is that the issue, Rush?

Rush: ...It wasn't... But it might be one soon enough. So I'm gonna ask again. Nooooothing too out of the ordinary? Cleaning up the kingdom? Driving out Riot and Osiris?

Amen: Precisely! Is something bothering you?

Danithan: Yeah man, you alright? You look a little tense.

Rush: [Had no idea he was clenching his fists.] Sh-shoot... Let's just say we probably need to be keeping an eye on Safa again. More just happened here than almost anything else I've seen for a while.

Danithan: Even with the Believer around? It's been quiet without him.

Rush: Ohoho, uh! Well! We have ourselves another problem. Worse than him. I think. [He lowers his head and grits his teeth together.]

Amen: Great Phaze, you really are bothered by something, Son. There is much to worry about, but...

Danithan: You look like you're gonna have a spaz attack.. C'mon, spit it out. [He smirks a bit, crossing his arms.]

Rush: There's... a second Darkness. Not Riot's cause. I mean another Darkness from another dimension. A Shade showed up. And a Phaze Guardian from his world saved someone named Cruce. He was with Ethan... And the Phaze Guardian was a Safan named Lavender.

Danithan: Did you smoke some weird Safan herb...?

Slianna: Actually, he's telling the truth. We watched this weird giant threaten to fight him. He was covering Safiri, and the Shade called these small demons to fight for him. That was when the girl, Lavender, showed up. She saved Cruce. I don't know much about Cruce...

Amen: [He strokes his goatee.] ... ...I beg your pardon?

Rush: [Sighs.] Oh boy. Dad, I think it's best if you two come inside and sit down for a sec. [With a blank expression, he simply turns around and returns to the lab, Slianna and Rilia curiously following. The same could be said for Amen and Danithan, who give each other a baffled glance...]

...

"Cruce... What happened? Why are you a human now?"

"I was worried about this, guys! I don't think they really damaged the Growth, but they might have messed with its Ecliptic properties."

"That changed him into a human?"

"Not that alone. The Ancient Growths balance something called the Ecliptic Pull here. I think that was disrupted, and... It wore off!"

"An Ecliptic power has been absorbed... That bodes poorly. Cruce, you can carry Daniel, right? He will make it, but he needs to be treated further. I've done all I can do, and even that might not be enough to eliminate the poison in his body. This may be inconvenient, but if he is to survive, this is the best option... There is something else... We may need to enlist the help of another brave hero after all. I underestimated how difficult this will be..."

...

Amen: By the lord of Light... [He sits upon one of the only functional devices of the lab: a bench. Hunched in with interest, he strokes his goatee once again.]

Danithan: [Folding his hands, showing the same sign of interest, as well as disbelief.] Darkness times two, eh... And this Crossblade guy... and what the hell is Ethan doing on Safa?

Rush: Something about locating the Predators and finding out why they're working with Riot.

Danithan: Well I thought he was chasing the Strayer Void or whatever, right?

Rush: Stuff happened. That's all I can say.

Amen: This story of yours is hard to believe, Son. But it is also difficult to make up in short notice.

Danithan: Yeah yeah, for sure. You girls also back him up with this, right? Like you witnessed this go down?

Slianna: We saw everything. Mostly. We heard something going on and knew Safiri was still outside, so we all wanted to try to save her if we could. Thank the Growths Rush was there...

Amen: Good timing as usual, my son. Say, where is Safiri now?

Rush: She went with Cruce and the other Lavender to the Ancient Growth. Apparently the Connection is just... gone. Without a trace. Nowhere. You both know what that means...

Rilia: Ooogh... No no, please don't say it.

Danithan: [He turns his head to Rilia, frowning at her dismay.] ...I don't think it happened. I think Darkness did something to him. I heard the Connection was getting in the way of his missions. Maybe it got suspended or something.

Slianna: That's scary... I feel empty without it.

Danithan: It really is a scary experience, Slianna. Rilia... We'll figure things out. [He stands, stretching his arms out.] Amen, I want to see this for myself. I'm going to check out the forest.

Amen: Very well. Proceed with caution. We know nothing about this new Darkness.

Rush: And if that's not enough, we still have those other jerks to worry about.

Danithan: Gah... What a drag this turned out to be. [He works his way to the entrance, leaving the building. The sun is dropping into the horizon as the sky's twilight reveals a pattern of pink and orange lit clouds. Through this display of color, Danithan spots an unusual gray sky in the distance. Having to remove his glasses to do this, he makes a second observation.] Whoa! ...Whoa whoa, holy crap...! Did someone order a Believer?! I didn't!! Guys, get out here! Amen and I aren't the only ones showing up on a dime!!

[Returning to the spot they had appeared, Danithan and Amen, along with Rush, stand ready, albeit shocked, at the presence of this "Believer". Amen draws his staff from his back, while Rush activates his energy blade...]

...

Cruce: [He has reverted into his human form. His attire remains consistent. Over his shoulder appears to be an injured Safan. It is Daniel. He holds the Shade securely with one hand to his back.] (I hope Lavender knew what she was doing. I don't really want this guy's blood all over me. 'Specially if it's poisonous. I don't know how it works though, so... Heyo, what's going on now?) [He continues walking, though squints to see a human, Rush, and another being standing prepped for battle.] Uh-oh.

...

Rilia: [She and Slianna are peaking through the lab's door. At this point, Dr. Maiwell has rejoined them...]

Dr. Maiwell: Ladies? What are we doing?

Slianna: Wah! ... [Turns back to the koala Safan.] Doc, don't scare us like that... I think something new is happening out there.

Rilia: That's not him! That's Cruce!

...

Rush: Wait... Waaaiiiit, no. [His energy sword dissipates.] That's not the Hot Shot you were thinking of. I forgot to mention... Cruce looks exactly like Chris, so...

Danithan: What?! What--well how could you forget THAT? Piss... But, but... He's carrying someone--is that Daniel?!

Amen: By the gods, it is! [Still wielding his staff, he straightens his back.]

Cruce: Uh... Hi! It's Cruce! [He shows signs of estranged anxiety, one eyelid half raised in confusion.]

Rush: Cruce?! What happened out there? Are Lavender and Safiri okay?

Cruce: They're perfectly fine. We ran into Darkness. The "new" Darkness. They bought time to do something and fled. I don't think we'll see them there again. We saw this guy though. [He pats the Safan's back.] He's Darkness, but he's... your Darkness.

Danithan: ...Ho-kay, s**t Rush. I'm sorry. I did doubt you...

Amen: (Hm... this human appears to be the Believer in almost every way. The only distinction is the difference in age. And perhaps a better muscle tone on this one.)

Rush: What happened to Daniel?

Cruce: We saw him laying in front of the Ancient Growth. He had a really serious wound. It was infected with a poison Lavender recognized.

Amen: ...This Lavender... Did she heal Daniel's injury?

Cruce: She did. Safiri really wanted her to. Because uhm... He fought against the other Darkness. And lost.

[Silence... The Phaze Guardians eye each other, as if trying to grasp a problem defying logic. In essence, that was the case for them.]

Amen: Danithan, my friend. Rush, my Son... I believe our priorities have changed. I will alert Phaze Lord Hideaki. Danithan, if you intend to stay and work with the others, that is fine. What are your plans, Son?

Rush: I guess I'll be staying also. Cruce, you brought Daniel back to rest, right? Are you going to return to the forest?

Cruce: Yep. Lavender told me it'd be best to bring backup.

Danithan: Perfect! [He punches his palm with the opposite fist.] I'll go ahead and be that backup.

Rush: I can't believe I'm saying this, but I'll protect Danny. And watch him. I don't think we can just leave him here and expect everything to be nice with the guy. I wouldn't be surprised if Rilia and Slianna back there were a little uncomfortable around him.

Cruce: Gotcha.

Amen: I'll take Daniel. [Strapping his staff to his back, he holds his arms out. Cruce gingerly transfers the Shade to Amen.] Cruce. My name is Amen. I am Rush's father. This is Danithan. We are Phaze Guardians. If you have met my son prior to this, you might understand the term.

Cruce: I understand that it's important. [Nods.] But I'm working with one Phaze Guardian from another universe, and three from this universe, after all.

Amen: Hmmm, point well made. [Cradling Daniel, he scans the injury.] Sorcery has been used to clean this wound. I'll pick up where Lavender left off. Though I've never healed Darkness... Good luck to you two. Take care, for this day and age only grows more turbulent.

Danithan: Does it ever. C'mon, new guy. We're burning daylight. [With a final wave to his allies, Danithan makes off to the forest.]

Cruce: I'll catch you guys later.

...

[Within the forest, it has become dark...]

...

(I'm probably going to be saying that I have no clue what's happening... for a while. That'll be a fact until I can at least find out a little bit more about where I came from. But right now I have a good feeling about the position I'm in. My new friends, well acquaintances, have a shared hatred for the Believer. I look like the guy, and they're trusting me. Because of Safiri and her friends... if they hadn't mentioned anything about the Connection, I wouldn't be trusted that easily, I think. I hate to say it, but that helps me out. And Safiri knows it. Part of her just doesn't want to let me get away with it. And that's about half of the reason she's coming with me. As for the Shade--I mean Danny, which is kind of a strange name for a creature of another world--I didn't really get to meet him. If he's anything like Ethan, we probably would have gotten along. I'm already changing my attitude about a lot of things. When I first showed up, I was stoic... But now that I've seen the Eclipses, I feel reinvigorated. I don't even know why...

I want to know who these people are.)