Chapter 8: Big Loss, Bigger Sadness

The heroes awoke prepared for a tough battle ahead. The deaths of their friends still weighed heavily on them, but all they could do was press on. Evelyn told them that her hometown was Hanumaria, the south most town in all of Jinara. It took the heroes a few days to reach it, but when they did, it was completely bare. The group did not like the looks of this at all. They brandished their weapons, prepared for anything to jump out at them. Suddenly, hundreds of skeletons and corpses suddenly rose up from the ground, surrounding the heroes.

"Oh, perfect," Percy said.

"We can handle this," Maraiah and Evelyn said as they paved a path through the corpses.

Adrian and co. immediately took the chance, and bolted. They managed to get away before more could show up. But now all of the undead were chasing them, and they knew there was no way they could take all of them out at once. They had to split up to even have a chance to get away alive. Adrian, Maraiah, Percy and Zane headed east while Evelyn, Sebastian and Maxwell headed west.

Evelyn's group found the church of Sumol, the only place that had any living people left. However, this wasn't because the zombies couldn't get through, and they knew they had to get the others out. Sebastian and Maxwell offered to hold the line, while Evelyn picks off any that get past so that the civilians could get away, since all the zombies after them didn't cover the back. One by one, the civilians managed to get away, and then the heroes made a break for it. They ran to the top of the church, and managed to jump to another building. Being on rooftops gave them some leeway, but not a lot. Sebastian and Maxwell did what they could to keep the zombies at bay while Evelyn shot at them with dark magic. They managed to take out a few of them, but the zombies broke through the line, and they were forced to run.

Meanwhile, Adrian's group found a really big house to hide in. But they knew that the house alone wouldn't protect them, and got ready to fight. Adrian and Percy went forward to keep the zombies at bay, Maraiah shot at the zombies with her magic, and Zane was to get rid of any that got through the line. All of them managed to defeat some of the zombies, but the line was broken, and they had to flee. The house had three floors, but separate staircases separated the floors. The heroes made it to the second floor, preparing for more battle in order to whittle the numbers. But the zombies arrived in overwhelming force, and the heroes had to flee before even fighting. Adrian and co. managed to make it to the third floor, and get into the roof, but they noticed the house was surrounded by zombies.

"I'll clear a path," Maraiah said, as she conjured a tornado to do just that, then helped the group get down to the ground.

Evelyn and co. had to run to the plaza to escape the horde of zombies after them. But they soon saw that they were surrounded. They braced themselves for what could very well be their last battle. But then, Maxwell noticed that there was a manhole, and the group escaped into the sewers. However, the zombies followed them into the sewers, even though the heroes closed the entrance. The group decided to scatter to divide the horde's attention. But they knew they couldn't keep running forever.

Adrian's group fled to another large house, which seemed big enough to house an army. They were about to enter, but they fell into a trapdoor. They regained their composure in time to run before the zombies could fall down on them. They realized they were in the basement of the house. Everything was decrepit, and the walls looked like they could cave in at any minute. The heroes were about to evacuate, but more zombies came in. Adrian and co. tried to push them back, but the zombies were easily overwhelming them. In a last ditch effort, Maraiah created another tornado, which yet again left her exhausted, but it did give the group a chance to flee. Percy grabbed her, Adrian sniped any zombies in front, and Zane protected Percy. The heroes were gaining great progress, but suddenly one zombie jumped Percy. Zane managed to get the zombie off of him, but not before getting bit in the hand. Necromancer's doing or not, a zombie is a zombie, and Zane knew it was only a matter of time before he'd become one himself. The group finally managed to make it to the foyer, which had two sets of stairs that led to the second floor. Maraiah then suddenly awoke.

"Whoever's controlling these zombies is in the room upstairs!" she yelled.

Suddenly, Evelyn runs in.

"What are you doing here?" Percy asked.

"We had to split up, and I sensed that the people behind this are in this house," Evelyn explained.

"You guys go on ahead, I'll make sure you're uninterrupted," Zane said.

"What?" the others yelled.

"You can't possibly handle all of them on your own," Percy said. "Why would you even suggest-"

Zane then reveals the bite mark, incapable of looking at the looks of horror on their faces.

"J-j-just go," Zane said.

"But-"

"Just go!" Zane yelled, with tears in his eyes.

Knowing there wasn't anything they could do, the four heroes ran up the stairs.

"Today is the day I die," Zane said to himself. "Weird. Since I know that, I'm not afraid. Huh," he then said as the horde of zombies approached.

Meanwhile...

Sebastian and Maxwell were running as fast as they could. They were gaining some distance, but suddenly wound up in the same room, with no other exits. They realized that they were trapped, and would have to fend off the zombies to even have a chance to live. They brandished their weapons.

"Odd," Sebastian said.

"What is?" Maxwell asked.

"Knowing that the only chance we have to live is to stall long enough for the others to resolve this conflict," Sebastian said.

"You're right," Maxwell said. "That does feel odd."

Adrian and co. arrived in the room in the second floor. They then noticed two adults, a man and a woman. They both had cold expressions on their faces, as if life itself was void to were dressed entirely in black with black hair: the man's was short and the woman's was long. Their hands were covered in a black aura, which meant that they were the ones controlling the zombies, but they were also sitting as if nothing was happening. When Evelyn tried walking up to them, they suddenly looked up.

"Evelyn," the man said in a cold tone.

"Mother, Father," Evelyn said.

"Those are your parents?" the others asked.

"Why did you return?" her mother asked. "We made it clear that if you came back, we would kill you for trying to help that disgusting Kuraiyo."

"What kind of parents are you?" Percy yelled.

"The kind who thought they raised a daughter who had taste in humans," her father said.

"Enough," Evelyn said through clenched teeth.

"What was that?" her mother asked.

"I've had enough of your fascist upbringing," Evelyn said. "I can't stop you from hating people, but you can't force me to hate someone!"

"If you're a corpse that we control, we can make you the daughter you refused to be," her parents both said. "We'll love you then."

Evelyn couldn't help letting that last remark get to her.

"You disgust me!" Adrian yelled as he shot at Evelyn's father, who blocked it with dark magic.

"Die!" her parents yelled, as they both shot several magic bullets at them, which Maraiah and Evelyn blocked.

Adrian and Maraiah ran at Evelyn's father, while Percy helped her take on her mother. Adrian tried to kick him, but he blocked it and tried to slice him with a dark blade, but Adrian jumped out of the way. Maraiah tried to shoot at him, but he blocked it, then blasted her with dark magic. It hit her, but she got right back up, and managed to slice him with wind magic. Adrian managed to shoot him in the arm, but then got struck with dark arrows. Percy threw knives at Evelyn's mother, but she blocked them all. She would have impaled him with a dark arrow, but Evelyn blocked it. She then tried to slice her, but her mother easily sidestepped the attack. She would have attacked Evelyn, but Percy threw more knives at her, making her block them, and giving Eveyln a chance to get a bit of distance. Percy then suddenly went right at Evelyn's mother, and managed to graze her arm. This gave Evelyn enough of an opening to shoot her with dark magic. Suddenly, Evelyn's parents joined hands, then cast a spell that kept the four heroes frozen at the spot.

"Who shall we kill first?" her father said.

"Should it be the Kuraiyo, who started all this?" her mother asked, looking right at him. He then spits at her.

"Or maybe this mouthy brat?" her father said, looking at Percy.

"Should it be our daughter?" her mother asked.

"Or maybe this girl," her father said.

As he was approaching Maraiah, Adrian couldn't help showing his anger at the threat to kill her. Evelyn's father noticed this, and grabbed her chin. Adrian stuggled to get out, but to no avail. Evelyn's father then grabbed a knife. Everyone except Maraiah was wriggling as hard as they could, trying to escape. However, Maraiah had a plan.

"Can I ask for one thing before I die?" she asked.

"What might that be?" Evelyn's father asked as he approached her face.

"We chat face to face!" she yelled as she headbutted him, breaking his concentration, and freeing everyone.

At this time, Zane was having a hard time keeping the zombies at bay. It didn't help that he could feel himself close to turning. He managed to take out a lot of them, but the zombies managed to bite him a few more times. Zane cut a few more zombies, then finally turned into one himself. All the zombies headed for the door, but Zane did manage to keep them downstairs, so they had a bit of a hike.

Maraiah then slashes at Evelyn's father with wind magic, scratching his face. Evelyn's mother was about to attack her, but Adrian shot at her, then kicked her in the face. Percy then threw knives at their arms, pinning them to the wall. Evelyn then used dark magic to strangle them. But when the deed was done, she immediately looked away. No matter what, they were still her parents. At that time, Sebastian and Maxwell were about to be devoured by the zombies, but they suddenly turned to dust.

"Looks like we got a lucky break," Maxwell said.

"It appears so," Sebastian said.

Adrian and co. grabbed the artifact in the closet, then headed out of the room, and noticed that there was dust everywhere. They knew they wouldn't see Zane again, and the finality of it hit them hard. They managed to find Maxwell and Sebastian in the plaza, and the group headed back to the Caridiaran kingdom. After three days travel, they arrived at a deserted town. They knew what that meant, so they split up. However, Maraiah and Adrian managed to bump into each other.

"Don't worry, I'll protect you," they both said, which made both of them blush.

"I hoped to find the Kuraiyo alone," a man's voice said. "I'll have to kill you both."

A man wielding a long chain with with a sharp blade at the end appears.

"There's no way that's happening," Maraiah said.

"We'll see," the AKF member said as he twirled his weapon, then thrust the end at them.

They both jumped out of the way, and Adrian shot at him. He used his chain to parry the arrow, then thrust it at Adrian. He jumped out of the way, then Maraiah hit him with wind magic. He tried to cut her with the blade, but she ducked under the attack, and sweeped him off his feet with magic. The man then swung his chain around low, forcing Adrian to jump. But that was what the man wanted, as he immediately swung his chain at Adrian just as he was about to land. Adrian didn't have enough time to get out of the way so Maraiah used wind magic to get him out of the way, which left him dazed. She then tried to cast wind magic on the soldier, but he dodged it, and ran around Maraiah. She tried to slice him, but he swerved and thrust his chain. He managed to impale her heart. Adrian was horrified to see Maraiah harmed like this.

"Maraiah!" Adrian yelled.

"Stupid girl. You brought this on yourself," the AKF soldier arrogantly said.

Adrian was beyond bloodlust after hearing those words. He immediately shot at the soldier, but the arrow didn't hit him.

"What was that supposed to do?" the soldier said as he looked at the arrow.

When he looked back, Adrian was right at him. Adrian went to a handstand, and had kicked the soldier in the face by spinning around. He then jumped up, grabbed the soldier by the neck with his legs, and knocked him to the ground. He then started to strangle the man by squeezing his neck, and then broke it. Adrian then ran to Maraiah, who was barely alive. The others arrived at this moment, but knew it was already too late, and decided not to get involved.

"Maraiah, speak to me," Adrian said.

"A-Adrian," Maraiah managed to say.

"You're-You're gonna be all right. You just have to be all right."

"Sorry, that blade got my heart. I don't think-"

"No, please. You have to survive, Maraiah." Tears were running down Adrian's face at this point.

"I'm sorry. I won't be able to be with you the entire way after all."

"No, this can't be happening."

"Adrian, you have to press on for the both of us."

"Maraiah, please. Ever since I was on the run, good things have rarely happened to me. Not only was meeting you one of those moments, it was the best one. You have to hold on."

"Adrian, I'm glad I was able to make your life better," Maraiah said, then closed her eyes.

"No. Please, this can't be happening! Please don't die! Maraiah!" Adrian yelled, then burst into tears.

The burial was painful for everyone. Maraiah was more than a valuable fighter, she was a dear friend. Adrian was worse for wear. He was more distant than he'd been before he met Percy. He wouldn't even look anyone in the eye. After the funeral, Adrian immediately ran to the nearby forest. Evelyn chased after him. When she managed to catch up with him, she saw that he was about to stab himself in the neck with an arrow.

"Adrian, no!" Evelyn yelled as she knocked the arrow away with magic. "What were you thinking? We're almost about to break the curse, so why would you..."

That's when Adrian turned to look at her, revealing tears streaming down his face.

"Adrian, what's wrong?"

"Why me?"

"What?"

"I've lost everything I cared about. I've lost any chance of having a normal life. I've lost my parents. And now... I've lost Maraiah."

"Adrian."

"Am I not allowed to just have one thing my way. Why can't people just let me live my life. Why... why is the world so cruel?" Adrian yelled as he burst into tears, then fell to Evelyn's arms.

Adrian, you've been keeping all this sadness bottled up, haven't you? Evelyn thought.

"I just can't take it anymore!" Adrian yelled. "It's just too much."

"Adrian, I understand you're hurting. I just want you to know that I'm here for you."

"Really?" Adrian said, though he didn't stop crying.

"Yes, and I know the others are here for you too."

"Thank you," Adrian managed to say, though he still kept crying.

I may never be able to take Maraiah's place in your heart, but I mean it. I'm here for you. Evelyn thought.