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Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 21
Respite
Ginger had once more fallen asleep against the wall of Bopo’s tiny hut. The place really wasn’t built for a family of Mudpots, a fully grown Warmblood, a deity, and a sleeping teenage Warmblood all at the same time. Lady Tethys was keeping a vigilant eye on Dust and Fidget, who was still snoring softly on the boy’s chest as it rose and fell. She’d kicked around a few times, as had Dust on a couple of occasions — evidently, things hadn’t been going incredibly smoothly within Dust’s Soulscape. Lady Tethys could only hope that the two would wake up.
Ginger stirred and sat up slowly, massaging a stiff back and neck as she did so.
“Any sign of them waking up, my Lady?” she yawned. Lady Tethys shook her head, her aura a worried orange.
“Not yet…although they have calmed down in comparison to earlier,” she replied.
“I have sensed both the presence of Jin and Cassius’ souls returning,
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Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 20
The Souls of the Mithrarin
A comforting silence fell between the duo, broken only by the occasional hiccough. Eventually, Dust regained enough strength to stand, picking up his hat as he did so (Fidget made no complaint — in all honesty, she’d actually missed the hat) while Fidget began stretching her wings again. Still exhausted, the nimbat camped out on Dust’s shoulder.
“I’m sorry, Fidget…I really am,” Dust sighed, wiping the last of his tears away. “I had no idea… I didn’t realise how worried everyone was.”
“Why in Elysium do you think we wouldn’t be?” Fidget asked. “You’re more than just a hero, you know? You’re our friend.” Dust smiled in thanks — Fidget had been right. He really had gotten himself stuck in a rut. He was glad that he could count on her to snap him out of it. “Oh, and one more thing?”
“What?”
“You kn
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Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 19
The Soulscape
Fidget’s vision was fuzzy when she first opened her eyes, but she was confused to see that everything around her seemed to stay out of focus even when she was certain she’d shaken her head clear of any additional fog obtained from Lady Tethys putting her into a magical sleep. Her surroundings looked blurred, as if she was looking through a very thick heat-haze. It reminded her a little of the haze from the Everdawn Volcanoes, and that alone was enough to make her shudder.
“Okay, Fidget…you’re here now,” she muttered to herself. “No backing out. Let’s just find Dust and get out of here.” Fabulous. Less than ten seconds into this and she was already talking to herself. Looking around and examining her surroundings further, Fidget began to see that it felt eerily familiar. She then recognised it as the Glade.
“No wonder…” she murmured. “It’s where he first ever woke up…
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Junia Age Progression :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 10 8
Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 18
Under Lock and Key
Ginger stirred wearily as the sound of hurried voices sounded outside the walls of Bopo’s home. Damp hair fell over her eyes as she sleepily lifted her head and rubbed sleep from her eyelids. Moments later, the door to the house opened and thing started getting a lot more cramped as the rest of the party (Ginger noticed that Taka, Kim, Jarin and Fidget looked particularly beat up) piled into the tiny house, accompanied by an ethereal, pale green being that Ginger knew without prompt to be Lady Tethys.
“Oh!” she exclaimed. “L…Lady Tethys?”
“That is me, child,” Lady Tethys greeted gently. Ginger tried pushing herself to her feet, despite how cramped her limbs had become. “Please, do not rise, my dear.”
“I’m sorry that I’m not better presented,” Ginger apologised, stifling a yawn as much as she could.
“Don’t worry, Ma’am,” Taka huffed sarcasticall
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Xenoblade Lance :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 6 2
Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 17
The Cirromon Caverns
It was Fidget who had led the way through the Caverns, having vaguely remembered the route she and Dust had taken fifteen years ago. She was also the one who had suggested entering the underground village of Mudpot one at a time — the locals, after all, weren’t the most social of types when it came to complete outsiders. Fidget, at the least, was known to the villagers (providing the ones she’d known before were still alive), and so she had the best chance out of the whole group of asking for a place to stay for the night. Entering Mudpot one at a time also reduced the chance of the group accidentally frightening the locals into distrusting them — as long as it didn’t seem like a full frontal attack, they stood a chance of a more hospitable stay.
“Come on…please tell me some people are still around…” Fidget muttered to herself as she flew over the low wall that surrounded the backyard of the fir
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Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 16
Return to Aurora
The group trekked through the Blackmoor Mountains for the rest of the day, led mostly by Ginger as they bypassed New Zeplich in case they were being followed. Dust still hadn’t regained consciousness, and so Sanjin, Taka and Kim took it in turns carrying him, Ginger still recovering from her stint in captivity.
“We were so close…” Ash mumbled, clutching her magic tome as close to her as she could as well as wrapping a shivering Fidget into her shawl. “We almost had it…”
“We can’t dwell on it, Ashelin,” Sanjin sighed mournfully. “We must press onwards.” Fidget poked her head out into the evening blizzard, looking worriedly at the lifeless form on her friend slung over Sanjin’s shoulders.
“Any sign of life?” she squeaked quietly.
“Not a peep,” Jarin shook his head, trailing slightly behind the Moonblood engineer. Not for the first time since they’d
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Dust: An Elysian Tail OC, Jarin :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 11 6
Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 15
Sacrifice
Dust’s cry of anguish tore through the Everdawn Basin, halting the battle on both sides as the Souldiers vanished. It gave the Moonbloods little reprieve, as the knowledge that their hero was in pain gave them no comfort. Horrified and worried beyond their wits, Ginger, Sanjin, Ash, Kim and Taka began racing back towards the dais within the Royal Army side of the battlefield, meeting little to no resistance along the way.
Back by King Julius, Fidget was desperately shaking the body of her friend, still lying unmoving on the ground, his face down and hair covering what might have otherwise been visible.
“Dust? Dust!” Fidget yelled. “Wake up! Come on! Get up!”
Almost as soon as he’d blacked out, Dust began to stir and, after a few moments, pushed himself upright. Fidget’s relief was short lived, as she quickly noticed that the Blade of Ahrah hadn’t blinked back into life.
“Dust?” the nimbat squeaked ne
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Xenoblade Matt Holt :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 8 1 Request: Claudie and Coco :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 8 16 Request: Ladybug, Chat Noir and Kid Arachnid :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 14 13
Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 14
Awakened
On the other side of the battlefield, a lion Warmblood with golden fur and a blazing red mane overlooked the Everdawn Basin. Garbed in royal blue robes and silver armour that shone like fire in the angry light of the volcanoes, King Julius looked every part of the sovereign of a kingdom. His army’s camp was a far cry from the Moonbloods’, well defended and equipped well beyond what their enemies had. In his hand he held a golden sceptre, inlaid with precious gems and topped with a diamond the size of one’s fist.
“This…is the day this all ends,” he spoke softly. His soldiers stood below, awaiting the order to move forward into the next wave of attack. King Julius set his gaze upon them and raised his voice, addressing them all. “No matter what happens, we fight for peace in Falana!” he roared, earning rapturous cries from his men. “Today…is the beginning of a new era for our kingdom!”
“Liar
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Literature
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 13
Arrival at Everdawn
Dust woke with a stiff neck and a ringing head. Visions of his dreams from the previous night were still flashing through his brain, and it was making his head hurt.
“Wow, Dust…you okay?” Fidget winced when she noticed that her friend had regained consciousness. “You look like a zombie that got beat up by a Trolk then stomped on by a Giant.”
“I feel it…” Dust admitted grumpily, shaking his head in an attempt to clear some of the foggy pain. “Everyone else already up?”
“Ready to go when you are,” Ash confirmed nearby. “Do you want something before we leave, Dust? Fidget’s right. You look like death incarnate.”
“Thanks,” Dust grumbled. “And please…I think I need it.”
“Can’t have the hero jumping into battle when he’s not on the top of his game,” Kim commented, cleaning out his pistols. Dust suddenly felt sick
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Spirit of Spring, Fleur Rampion :iconcessierose25:CessieRose25 16 21

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Basic Lighting Tutorial :iconalenas:Alenas 4,248 427 Back up :iconpencilhead7:pencilHead7 307 35
Journal
Using HTML on deviantART

Hello!

Hello and welcome to my little html tutorial. I've been working with html codes for a couple of years and I'm going to teach you what I know about using some basic html on deviantART. This won't make you a html expert or something and I'm not an expert myself but it will give just enough knowledge to make your journals, comments, news articles and other neat and lovely looking. :)
deviantART actually has FAQs about html but I still wanted to do this because they look a bit unorganized, in my opinion. Also, why would you want to look for those FAQs when you can just open this news article where you have everything in one place? :dummy:
You may already know some of these, but I hope you'll find at least something helpful in this news article.

Some basic html

:bulletorange:Bold text: <b>insert text here</b>
:pointr: Result: Example text
:pointr:This html code will work in: journal entries, group blogs, comments, artist's commen
:iconScarletteDeath:ScarletteDeath
:iconscarlettedeath:ScarletteDeath 15,082 3,153
When all things fail, do the hula :iconusagiko-jovi:Usagiko-JOvi 329 31 Petrified Paladins :iconusagiko-jovi:Usagiko-JOvi 241 2 Let Pidge curse 2k16 :iconusagiko-jovi:Usagiko-JOvi 293 18 Ariel's Hands :iconmegsmakesart:megsmakesart 493 21 Ginger [speedpaint] :iconkuropapu:kuropapu 30 4 Dust [speedpaint] :iconkuropapu:kuropapu 43 3 Newt Scamander :iconchorchori:chorchori 146 18 Ginger :iconkuropapu:kuropapu 34 1 Hot cocoa :iconkuropapu:kuropapu 19 2 Give Shiro a badass Altean arm! :iconzillabean:zillabean 402 100 Body Types - masterpost :icondamatris:Damatris 243 2 HOW TO DRAW FEET: A YouTube Tutorial :iconjavicandraw:javicandraw 197 6 HOW TO DRAW EXPRESSIONS - A YouTube Tutorial :iconjavicandraw:javicandraw 182 5

I'm thinking of drawing some scenes from Reborn from Ashes, but which moment from the story so far would you like to see the most? 

36%
5 deviants said Dust, Ash and Kim around the campfire (Chapter 8)
21%
3 deviants said Meeting Taka (Chapter 10)
21%
3 deviants said Dust and Taka's Falun Disguise (Chapter 11-12)
14%
2 deviants said Dust confronts King Julius (Chapter 14)
7%
1 deviant said Other (please specify moment in the comments below)
0%
No deviants said Dust's talk with Jarin (Chapter 13)
0%
No deviants said Ginger and King Julius (Chapter 14)
0%
No deviants said King Julius summons the Life Thread (Chapter 14)

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Activity


Respite



Ginger had once more fallen asleep against the wall of Bopo’s tiny hut. The place really wasn’t built for a family of Mudpots, a fully grown Warmblood, a deity, and a sleeping teenage Warmblood all at the same time. Lady Tethys was keeping a vigilant eye on Dust and Fidget, who was still snoring softly on the boy’s chest as it rose and fell. She’d kicked around a few times, as had Dust on a couple of occasions — evidently, things hadn’t been going incredibly smoothly within Dust’s Soulscape. Lady Tethys could only hope that the two would wake up.

Ginger stirred and sat up slowly, massaging a stiff back and neck as she did so.

“Any sign of them waking up, my Lady?” she yawned. Lady Tethys shook her head, her aura a worried orange.

“Not yet…although they have calmed down in comparison to earlier,” she replied.

“I have sensed both the presence of Jin and Cassius’ souls returning,” the Blade of Ahrah informed. “I would imagine that Dust and Fidget will awake very soon.” Ginger perked up and rushed over to the bedside. As promised, she had indeed made Dust’s favourite curry (Taka and Ash had fetched the ingredients from Aurora during their rounds), and it was currently being kept warm over the fire in Bopo’s kitchen. Hopefully, she would be serving her son’s favourite meal soon.

Fidget was the first to make any sort of movement. Her nose began twitching violently and she began making sniffing noises loud enough for Bopo to hear from the next room over. Before long, her eyelids began fluttering and she groggily raised her head.

“Morning…” she yawned, stretching herself out. Ginger giggled when she saw that, stretched to the furthest she could reach, Fidget’s feet nearly reached Dust’s kneecaps while her paws were almost touching his nose. It was rather cute, to be honest. “Wazzat amazing smell?”

“Dust’s favourite,” Ginger smiled. “You got here just in time.”

“Yay!” Fidget yawned widely. “M’ I up first?”

“Yes, it looks like you beat Dust,” Lady Tethys noticed. “But, as I said, you would not have been able to return without him. I’d imagine he’ll be joining us any…”

A small groan sounded from the sleeping teenager. Ginger gasped quietly and knelt as close to the bedside as possible, while Fidget scrambled up Dust’s chest so that she was directly over his face. Ginger nearly broke into tears of joy when Dust began to stir, and she could no longer hold back her now-restored tears when her son’s eyes finally fluttered open.

“F…pfft!” he mumbled. “Fidget…gerroff…” he grunted, swatting Fidget back with his hand.

“Slowpoke! I beat you out of your own Soulscape!” Fidget grinned sleepily. Clearly, a trip to a different dimension really took its toll on you.

“Nnnngh…” Dust groaned, pushing himself upright — thankfully he was short enough to avoid hitting his head on the ceiling. Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, he finally noticed his mother sitting beside him. “M…Mom?”

“Dust!” Ginger exclaimed, bringing Dust into a hug as she wept tears of joy into his shoulder. “Thank goodness you’re awake… I was so worried about you!”

“I’m sorry, Mom,” Dust hiccoughed as he choked back a sob of his own. Fidget sat back and smiled. Having just spent time with the old adult Dust she had once known, there was something so sweet and heartwarming about this child Dust being reunited with the woman he called his mother. She couldn’t be happier to know that she’d played a part in this happening.

“I’m so glad you’re okay,” Ginger whispered gently, kissing her son on the forehead. Dust grinned back into her shoulder.

“Jin says ‘hi’, by the way,” he said.

“It is good to see you again, Dust,” Lady Tethys smiled, her aura blinked between a happy golden-yellow and a gentle blue. Dust broke the hug with Ginger to face the deity — after bobbing the best bow he could give while bedridden, he gave his thanks to her for helping him wake up from his self-induced coma. “I am only glad that I was able to help you, Dust. You really should be thanking your friends once you see them again.”

“Welcome back, Master,” Ahrah spoke. “I am glad to see you well.”

“You and me both, Ahrah,” Dust smiled as the talking sword began floating at his bedside. “How long was I out?”

“Almost three days,” Ginger replied. “I don’t want any complaints about you not getting enough sleep after this.”

“Oh, come on! I beat the cockerel to sunrise six out of seven days of the week!” Dust protested, sounding ever inch of the thirteen-year-old boy that he was. Fidget, Lady Tethys and Ginger all laughed softly at Dust’s remark — the noise brought Bopo into the room out of curiosity.

“Well, I’ll be darned!” he exclaimed. “Fidget really did it!”

“Bopo?” Dust blinked in surprise. “Is that you?”

“Surely I ain’t changed that much, Dust,” Bopo laughed. “Least, not as much as you have.”

“Well…long story,” Dust grimaced. Bopo chuckled and explained that Fidget had already told him what had happened. “It’s good to see you again, Bopo. Have you been doing well?”

“Been doing just swell, Dust, thanks to you and what you did for Mudpot all those years ago,” Bopo smiled. “My eldest is named after you, plus we gotta honorary memorial in the village for ya.” Dust flushed pink under his pale fur again.

“You didn’t have to, Bopo…” he mumbled modestly.

“Suck it up, Dust,” Fidget shrugged. “You really should be used to this by now.” Dust’s stomach suddenly growled angrily, and the boy remembered that, due to his prolonged sleep, he hadn’t eaten in nearly three days — if anything, the noise made him blush even further in embarrassment as laughter echoed through the hut. Ginger immediately headed through to the kitchen to serve up her curry, aided by Bopo who fetched some bowls and rice.

“Dust,” Lady Tethys spoke while Ginger was preoccupied. “As I understand it, you are in fact made up of multiple souls?” Dust’s smile vanished as he glanced worriedly around himself. “Do not fear, little one. The power of the Eye will not reach you while I am by your side.”

“Phew…” Fidget sighed with relief. Dust echoed the sentiment before answering the question.

“Yes…and I’ve apparently gained a third one since being reborn,” he replied. “The other two…”

“…are no longer part of the mortal world, I understand,” Lady Tethys nodded. She held up a necklace, made of a simple silver chain with a pendant that looked similar to her coral-like collar. “I made this charm so that your souls will be protected. As long as you wear this, the Eye of the Life Thread cannot be used against you.”

Dust let out a heavy sigh of relief and gratefully accepted the pendant (Fidget muttered a few “I told you she was going to sort something out”s under her breath which Dust either ignored or silenced by shoving the nimbat off the bed. Twice), placing it around his neck where it settled against his tunic. As Ginger came through with the curry, Lady Tethys explained that the pendant’s power would weaken with proximity to the Eye of the Life Thread, but will nonetheless keep it from controlling Jin and Cassius’ souls.

“How can we ever repay you, Lady Tethys?” Ginger asked as Dust and Fidget both began tucking into the curry.

“Put an end to this so that Dust no longer has to live in such fear,” Lady Tethys replied. As Dust and Fidget finished their meals, Lady Tethys began glowing bright gold as she beckoned them to follow her outside. “Come. Your friends will be waiting for you.”

As soon as Dust felt that he had enough strength to stand and walk, the group headed out of Bopo’s hut and into Mudpot itself. There, a few Mudpots who Dust had known from a lifetime ago came up to greet him, many in awe of his child-like appearance (Fidget refused to keep explaining things and so left it to Bopo). The chatter of the Mudpots was soon broken by a cry of delight and a raven-haired Moonblood crashing into Dust with such force that he was nearly knocked off his feet.

“DUST!”

“Ack!” Dust croaked. “Ash…! Can’t…can’t breathe…!” Seriously, what was it with girls in his life nearly strangling him when they saw him? Ash quickly calmed herself down to a level where she was no longer choking Dust and released his neck, apologising profusely.

“I knew Fidget could do it!” she beamed, overjoyed at seeing her friend awake once more. “We all did! We knew you would pull through!”

“Oh, you don’t know the half of it…” Fidget grumbled. Ginger frowned and asked what had actually happened within the Soulscape, but Ash suggested that they reunited with the rest of the party before explanations began, to save both Dust and Fidget the trouble of telling the same story over and over again. She went on to say that the others were stationed above ground in Aurora, having just deterred a small legion of Souldiers in Abadis Forest (the very mention of them made Dust shudder, and ever more determined to get moving once more), and so suggested that they head back up top to rejoin the others.

“Sounds like a plan,” Fidget agreed. “If the Souldiers have already reached Abadis, we need to get moving soon and stop them before they reach Aurora.”

“Agreed,” Dust frowned. “I’m really sorry I kept everyone waiting for so long…this shouldn’t have happened.”

“Dust,” Ash said. “We’re not adding this to the list of Things that Aren’t Your Fault Even Though You Insist on Blaming Yourself for Them.”

“Don’t you have a better name for that list?” Dust joked lightly.

“If you can come up with something better, we’ll go with it,” Ash shrugged. “For now, it is what it is.”

“Let’s take the short cut to the surface,” Ginger suggested. “I don’t fancy facing any more Trolks.”

Saying farewell to the Mudpots, the group travelled to the village exit to the surface, where sunlight was streaming through into the caverns. Ginger was the first to exit, followed by Ash and Fidget, but Dust lagged behind as Lady Tethys called him back. Alone, the two began a private conversation.

“Thank you, Lady Tethys…for helping Fidget wake me up,” Dust smiled sincerely. “I don’t think I would have ever woken up if she hadn’t come along.”

“Think nothing of it, Dust,” Lady Tethys replied. “I am glad that we were able to meet again…although I cannot say much for the circumstances.”

“I wish they had been better too,” Dust agreed. “Maybe that’s just how Fate works.”

“Perhaps,” Lady Tethys nodded slowly. “Dust, you will need to know how to rid this world of these…Souldiers…that King Julius has called from the Life Thread.”

“You know how to do that?”

“To return the souls of the departed to the Life Thread, one will need to place the Eye back upon its alter in its shrine within the Blackmoor Mountains,” Lady Tethys explained. “Provided that you can separate the gem from the King and keep him occupied while it is returned, then his army of souls will be recalled to the Life Thread without further harm to innocent life.”

“I think we can manage something,” Dust figured. “We’ll just need to find the shrine so that we know where to put the Eye when we get it.”

“Indeed…” Lady Tethys said. Dust noticed that her aura had turned melancholy indigo, and he asked her why she sounded so sad…so concerned. After the boy pressed her a few times, the deity finally answered.

“Dust…there is something that you must understand about returning the Eye of the Life Thread to its shrine.”




“What was with the hold up?” Fidget asked once Dust finally emerged above ground, shielding his eyes against the sun as they adjusted to the light again.

“Lady Tethys was just telling me about what we need to do with the Eye of the Life Thread,” Dust replied. “If we return it to its shrine in the mountains, then the King’s army will disappear.”

“Well, provided we can get close enough to take it from him in the first place, that shouldn’t be a problem,” Ash noted. “I say we get Taka to pinch it.”

“Somehow I think we’ll need more of a plan than that,” Dust smirked. “But it’s not a bad start.” Ginger studied the boy’s face closely — despite the sly smirk she knew all to well from his pranks, there was a sadness in those eyes. She decided to ask him about it when they had a moment alone — if he wasn’t saying anything now, it might not be something he wanted a lot of people to know.

“Let’s head for Aurora,” Ginger suggested. “We’ll let the others know and then decide our next move from there.” The fact that she had included ‘we’ and ‘our’ in the sentence caught everyone’s attention.

“You’re coming too, Ginger?” Fidget spluttered. Dust also looked less than happy with the idea.

“Someone other than Sanjin needs to be the responsible adult in the group,” Ginger smirked. “And no, Taka and Kim don’t count.”

“But technically…”

“I’m not losing you again, Dust,” Ginger said firmly, cutting across her son’s protest. His eyes narrowed as he glared at her.

“And I’m not risking losing you again!” he argued. “You’ve been through way too much already — I’m not putting you in danger again.”

“Dust, as much as I agree that it would be best for Ginger to stay as far away from danger as possible…” the Blade of Ahrah sighed. “I doubt there is anything we can do to change her mind at this point.” Ginger made a statement of agreement and began marching towards Aurora while Ash, Dust and Fidget all shared an exasperated look and a frustrated sigh:

“Grownups.”




Dust was met with the same joyous welcome the moment he stepped into Aurora as he'd done in Mudpot. The entire village was there to greet him, cheering and shouting congratulations of saving Ginger and making it back, some even lifting him up onto their shoulders before he scrambled down. Ginger was able to disperse the crowd before it got to overwhelming, but she didn’t even attempt to stop the group of two Moonbloods, a grey cat Warmblood and a rabbit Warmblood running over.

“And Sleeping Beauty awakens,” Taka remarked jokingly. Dust pouted.

“I preferred ‘Shrimp’ as a nickname…” he muttered. “And that wasn’t an invitation to start calling me that again, either!” Taka laughed as she pulled the kid into a hug, ruffling his hair as she did so.

“It’s good to have you back,” she smiled.

“You really had us worried back there, Kid,” Kim chimed in, slapping Dust on the back once he’d escaped Taka’s arms. “You get first watch next time we set up camp.”

“Just because I was asleep, doesn’t mean I’m rested!” Dust protested.

“Yeah, I can vouch for that,” Fidget nodded. “Not exactly the most peaceful of places in that Soulscape of his.”

“You going to tell us what happened in there?” Jarin said. It was then that Dust actually acknowledged the noble-boy’s presence.

“Wha…?! Jarin?!” he spluttered. “What in the name of the Overseers are you doing here?”

“Only helped get that deity underground help you out in the first place,” Jarin shrugged nonchalantly. Of course — the last time Dust had seen him when his mind was his own, he’d been telling Jarin to leave Everdawn and go home before the battle had even started. “So, yeah. You’re welcome.”

“I told you to stay out of this!” Dust snapped. Ginger placed a hand on the boy’s shoulder to stop him from going ballistic — no doubt Dust would. Still recovering from a stint in a twisted internal dimension was not doing good things to his temper.

“Dust, Jarin has been a great help to the team since you fell unconscious,” she said calmly. “Like it or not, he’s as much a part of the team as I am now.” Dust buried his face in his hands in frustration, letting out a loud groan as he did so.

“DUST!”

The shriek pierced through the village like a wolf howl in the night. Dust barely had time to register the voice before he was tackled to the ground by something purple.

“AH!” he yelped, grunting as his back slammed into the ground.

“You’re awake! You’re awake! You’re awake!”

The voice was coming out in relieved sobs, and once Dust’s head was no longer swimming he smiled when he realised that it was Kalyn.

“It’s okay, Kalyn…” he murmured. “I’m alright…”

“You sure?” Fidget snickered. “Because you might want to get your back checked after that tackle.”

“Nice one, by the way, Kalyn,” Ash giggled. Kalyn pushed herself off the ground and helped Dust back to his feet before throwing her arms around him again.

“I was so worried about you,” she whispered. “When everyone came into Aurora, we saw Ginger and…we all thought that you’d done it…that you were home safe but then Sanjin was carrying you and you weren’t moving and we were so scared that you…”

“Breathe, Kalyn!” Dust cut across, patting his friend gently on the back in reassurance. “You’ll be next to pass out, otherwise.” Kalyn took a few deep breaths before stepping away, turning to face the others.

“Thank you, everyone,” she smiled. “I was scared I wasn’t going to see my best friend again.”

“Most of it was Fidget, really,” Sanjin shrugged. “Without her, Dust would still be comatose.” Kalyn asked what exactly had happened — after receiving a reassuring nod from his mother and a warm pulse from the Blade of Ahrah, Dust told her everything.

He told her that he was a creature made up of multiple souls, two of which died to create him in the first place fifteen years ago. He told her what happened in Everdawn, and how he’d locked his souls away to stop the King from controlling them…using them to hurt his friends and family. He told her…and told everyone present…that Fidget had found him within his Soulscape (explaining what that was to Kalyn as well) and tried persuading him to release the chains trapping his souls within it. He told them how he’d initially refused to do so, and the resulting argument between the two friends spiralled into a brawl which Fidget ultimately won. He told them how they tracked down his twin souls: Jin and Cassius, and told Kalyn who they were and how they made him who he was. He told the team how he’d unlocked those souls, allowing him and Fidget to return to the waking world, and how Lady Tethys has given him a charm to protect him against the power of the Eye of the Life Thread.

“She told me that the Eye needs to be returned to its shrine in the Blackmoor Mountains,” Dust explained as his tale came to a close. “If we do that…then all the souls that have been torn from the Life Thread will return. The King’s army will disappear.”

“We’ll stand a far greater chance if the Souldiers are taken out of the equation,” Sanjin noted. “The King’s own men feared them so greatly that many left the battlefield after they emerged. I don’t think they were expecting their leader to commit such a crime against nature.”

“So, provided we get the Eye back to its shrine…we’ve won,” Kim surmised.

“More or less,” Dust nodded.

“So what’s our plan, then?” Ash asked. “I still say we get Taka to pinch the Eye.”

“If you guys can give me a decent enough distraction, then I’m game with that,” Taka shrugged. Dust thought for a moment.

“I might have one,” he said. “In the Soulscape, I was able to talk with my twin souls. Cassius said that he wanted a chance to talk to the King…they were friends once.”

“No,” Ginger said firmly. “You are not letting that monster take control of you again.”

“Cassius was just as horrified as anyone else was at what the King was doing, Ginger!” Dust snapped back. At the use of her first name, Ginger recoiled in shock — in this life, Dust had only ever called her that once before…at Everdawn after she’d woken her brother’s soul within him. His eyes met hers…

They were the same colour as hers.

“Jin?” she whispered. Dust nodded, and when he spoke it was with Jin’s voice: gentle and kind.

“He was fighting the Eye’s power when Dust put us on lockdown,” he said. “He won’t make a move against anyone Dust calls a friend.”

“He made a vow on that, not that I trust him as far as I can throw him,” Fidget confirmed. Dust’s eyes returned to their normal pale blue, signifying that Jin’s presence had receded.

“I doubt any of us do, but it’s the best chance we have,” he pointed out. “Lady Tethys’ charm will protect me from the Eye’s power…though it will get trickier the closer I get to it. But if I can distract the King, whether that’s by talking to him or if it gets to a fight, that should give Taka an opportunity to steal the gem.”

“I don’t like the idea of the inner assassin taking over, Shrimp,” Taka frowned. “But it it’s our only chance, then I guess we have to take it. Anyone have any better ideas?”

There was silence.

“Fine,” Dust nodded firmly. “It’s settled.”

“We’ll need to track down the shrine before confronting the King,” Kim pointed out. “It’s not going to do us any good if Taka manages to pinch the Eye but then not know where to put it.”

“Elder Grey-Eyes…may he rest peacefully in Elysium…” Ash began, murmuring the ancient blessing before continuing. “…said that the shrine was located not far from New Zeplich. We start there and fan out, we should find it.”

“There aren’t many who know the exact location anymore,” Sanjin noted. “Except the King himself, clearly, but he’s off the books.” Jarin’s eyes lit up.

“But his research isn’t!” he exclaimed. “Apparently he’s spent the last fifteen years looking for this thing — his notes are bound to have something on where the shrine is. And I think we know exactly who to ask to go snooping around in his office.”

“Okay, you successfully nabbed the Starsheen Knives that one time, Coat-Tails,” Taka deadpanned. “That doesn’t make you a sleuth.”

“I was talking about Ellie!” Jarin protested. “She’s pretty much got free reign of the castle while her father’s out.”

“Elissa?” Dust remembered. “Of course! How fast can you get a message to her, Jarin?” Jarin was already scribbling something down on a piece of spotted and crumple parchment from his pocket.

“How fast can your pet fly?” he asked.

“Fidget is not a pet,” Dust growled in response. Fidget looked as if she took personal offence from the remark as well.

“Whatever. How fast can she fly?”

“Weather depending, nimbats can fly between twelve to sixty miles an hour,” Fidget said smugly. Dust didn’t know whether to be impressed or suspicious — that range seemed rather large. “I can get the message to the princess and bring back a reply before tomorrow.”

“Can you manage flying that long?” Dust asked.

“Pfft! Ye of little faith, Dust,” Fidget chuckled. Dust shrugged and pointed out under his breath that Fidget was A) Scared of heights (which still made no sense to him) and B) Didn’t fare well when her stomach was empty. Fidget elected to ignore him and proceeded to take the note that Jarin had written. Kalyn, in the meantime, stood awkwardly to the side.

“So, you’re really leaving again?” she asked Dust. The boy turned to face his childhood friend and nodded sadly.

“Things still need to be done, Kalyn,” he replied. “I can’t leave business unfinished again.” Kalyn nodded in understanding.

“Just…come back conscious this time, please?” she asked. “And stop worrying your mother and teammates so much?” Dust didn’t answer immediately — from the side, Ginger could tell that he looked almost heartbroken, as if he was going to make a promise that he knew he couldn’t keep. Kalyn let out a small squeak of surprise when Dust pulled her into a hug.

“I’ll try…” he whispered. “I’ll try.”

“‘Try’ isn’t good enough,” Kalyn muttered.

“I can’t promise, Kalyn,” Dust sighed regretfully. “But I’ll do my best.” Kalyn squeezed him tightly before breaking the hug. Fidget was just about to head off with the note for Elissa when Kalyn’s face suddenly lit up.

“Hold on…Fidget, did you say that you fought Dust when you were in his Soulscape to wake him up?” she asked. Dust frowned, as did Fidget, Ginger and everyone else present. What did this have to do with anything?

“Yes?” Fidget nodded slowly, trying to catch on with what Kalyn was thinking.

“And you won?” Kalyn recalled. Dust’s frown deepened — he thought he’d explained that loud and clear not ten minutes ago?

“Evidently, why?” he quizzed. Kalyn’s face slowly shifted into a knowing smirk and she winked at Fidget whose face lit up with realisation before she giggled loudly. Not for the first time that week, a memory flashed through Dust’s mind but this one wasn’t one of his previous life, or either of Jin or Cassius’ memories. This was his own.

From this life.

From less than a week ago.

Oh, Hounds' Teeth and Trolk fingers.

“Oh…oh! Wha…you’re seriously going to…?” Dust stammered as he twigged onto what his friends were talking about. His eyes went wide with embarrassment and his fur was being tinged with pink again. “That does not count!”

“Oh, it does so, you sore loser!” Fidget cackled, clutching her sides with laughter.

“Dust, is there something you need to tell me?” Ginger frowned, raising a brow.

“NO!” Dust yelled, his voice cracking as he desperately tried to save his skin from further humiliation.

“Dust lost a bet with Kalyn,” Fidget explained without skipping a beat.

“FIDGET!” Another voice crack.

“Again?” Ginger sighed, unable to stop a smile spreading across her face. Honestly, when it came to bets, Dust had the worst luck in the world, she swore by Elysium.

“Yep!” Kalyn laughed, her eyes watering.

“What was it this time?” Ginger asked, crossing her arms as Dust tried burying his face in her apron. The other members of the team were also beside themselves with laughter.

“If Fidget beat Dust in a fight then he has to wear a satgat,” Kalyn explained. Dust let out a loud groan of frustration — not the stupid hat…not the stupid hat! The Blade of Ahrah was floating at his side and the runes on its blade seemed to twinkle playfully.

“Now, now, Dust,” it said in what could only be described as a joking tone. “Be gracious in defeat.”

“You’re not helping!” Dust cried. “And you’re supposed to be on my side!”

“A fight is a fight, Dust,” Ahrah said simply. “Regardless of which dimension it took place in. Fidget defeated you fair and square.” Dust groaned again — he really thought that, for once, he’d actually made a bet that he could win. He hadn’t taken into account exactly how determined a ticked-off nimbat could actually be.

“You wouldn’t get yourself into these situations if you weren’t so terrible with bets, Scamp,” Ginger snickered. Dust grumbled incoherently, crossing his arms sulkily as he avoided eye contact with everyone in the area. “Come now — you lost a wager. Now deal with the consequences.”

Kalyn squeaked with delight and grabbed Dust by the arm, half dragging him towards the shop where the satgat was waiting. Dust shot a pout over his shoulder.

“I hate you all, capische?” he grumbled. Ginger chuckled and wiped a tear of laughter from her eye.

“I love you too, Scamp,” she called back.

After everything that happened, laughter was the best respite that anyone could have hoped for.
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 21
In which Dust finally wakes up, Ginger joins the party permanently (much to Dust's chagrin) the group formulate a plan to take down King Julius, and the bet that Dust made with Kalyn all the way back in Chapter 5 comes back to bite him in the backside:

“Tell you what, Kalyn,” Dust huffed as they stepped back outside into the village. “I’ll wear that hat the day Fidget beats me in a fight.”

“HEY!”

“Okay, deal,” Kalyn smirked. “Fidget, start training up.”
 

Look, I couldn't have him not wear the hat for the entire story! It is such a part of Dust that I had to bring it back. So, yes. Dust has horrible luck when it comes to betting – don't let him anywhere near a casino.

As I mentioned in my last journal update, these chapters will be the only thing uploading for a few weeks while I get my assignments done. These have all been scheduled for weeks, so everything will be uploading as normal, and I'll still drop by to answer any comments and questions (I love reading them, guys! They honest to goodness keep me going through this darn essay writing).

Chapter Navigation:
First: Prologue
Previous: Chapter 20
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This is just a quick heads up to you guys that over the next three weeks or so, I'm not going to be as active on here because I need to crack down and focus on my university assignments. The upcoming chapters for Dust II: Reborn from Ashes will still be uploading as usual on Sundays and Wednesdays at 8PM BST (British Summer Time) because those have all been scheduled for weeks in advance, and I'll still be replying to comments as and when I can, but in terms of uploads besides Reborn from Ashes updates, expect nothing until 10th May at the earliest. My final deadline is May 9th, and after that I should have a lot more time on my hands for artwork (I have a few things planned, mostly Reborn from Ashes related so I can't wait to get some time on my hands). That is, if I don't get too caught up in my other projects – there's something in particular that I am itching to get started.

In the meantime, to those who are currently reading and following Reborn from Ashes, thank you for your continued support of the story. I love reading your comments on each chapter as it comes out and, as an aspiring writer, it means so much to read your feedback and reactions to the latest update. Knowing that you guys are out there, reading and enjoying my writing...it means so much to me. I honestly cannot thank you enough. You guys are amazing.

I shall be seeing you guys soon. Until then, I've got some writing to get cracking on with. See you guys around!
  • Reading: Morte d'Arthur, Thomas Malory

The Souls of the Mithrarin



A comforting silence fell between the duo, broken only by the occasional hiccough. Eventually, Dust regained enough strength to stand, picking up his hat as he did so (Fidget made no complaint — in all honesty, she’d actually missed the hat) while Fidget began stretching her wings again. Still exhausted, the nimbat camped out on Dust’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Fidget…I really am,” Dust sighed, wiping the last of his tears away. “I had no idea… I didn’t realise how worried everyone was.”

“Why in Elysium do you think we wouldn’t be?” Fidget asked. “You’re more than just a hero, you know? You’re our friend.” Dust smiled in thanks — Fidget had been right. He really had gotten himself stuck in a rut. He was glad that he could count on her to snap him out of it. “Oh, and one more thing?”

“What?”

“You know how you started yelling at me to leave?” Fidget grimaced. “Well…kind of impossible until you wake up.” Well, that would have made all the difference!

“Why the heck didn’t you mention that sooner?” Dust spluttered.

“Because you stuck a sword in my face,” Fidget pointed out dryly. Dust winced and apologised once again. Fair point. “Now, come on,” Fidget smiled. “Let’s not keep them waiting — what’s our next step?”

“I was hoping that you could tell me,” Dust frowned. “What makes you think I’d know?”

“It’s your Soulscape!” Fidget pouted. “I thought it would be a given!”

Dust decided to at least get out of the Cirelian Trials area — the place creeped him out nearly as much as it did Fidget. He also wanted to find a proper weapon — the one he’d used against Fidget had felt foreign in his hands and not because he was used to using Ahrah.

Exiting the caverns, Dust was able to get his first proper look at his own Soulscape (Fidget flopped on his shoulder in exasperation when he explained that he’d pretty much been stuck in that room since locking his souls away).  The haze really was disorientating to begin with, as was the colours of the surroundings (a kind of lilac, blue and teal mix). Still, he couldn’t deny that it was nice to be out of the room he’d imprisoned himself in.

“This is really something else,” he remarked in awe.

“You can say that again…” Fidget grumbled. She sounded less than impressed. Before Dust could say anything more in reply, another voice sounded, this one echoey and far-off. It was nonetheless familiar.

“Master?” it said. “Master! Can you hear me?”

“Ahrah?” Dust exclaimed. “Is that you?” The was no sign of the floating sword, so it was deduced that it was making contact with the duo from the outside world.

“And where were you when I was getting my wings clipped by this maniac?” Fidget huffed. Dust pulled a face at her.

“Uh…you started that one,” he pointed out.

“Okay, maybe I did,” Fidget shrugged. “But you weren’t exactly holding back yourself.”

“Do I even want to know what happened?” Ahrah sighed dejectedly.

“I’ll tell you once we get back,” Fidget said quickly. “How come we can hear you?”

“Dust has unlocked a part of his soul, Fidget,” Ahrah explained. “This has allowed me to once again speak with him.” Fidget asked Dust quickly if he’d actually had telepathic conversations with the sword in the past without telling her but he declined to answer.

“Sorry about that, Ahrah,” he winced instead. “I…I didn’t know what else to do.”

“I do not blame you for the course of action you chose to take, Master,” Ahrah reassured. “I am grateful, however, that Fidget has succeeded in starting you on the path to awakening.”

“Starting?” Dust frowned.

“Still got Jin and Cassius to track down, Tough Guy,” Fidget said.

“Precisely. They form as much a part of you as your own mind and self do, Dust,” Ahrah agreed. “To free yourself from the Soulscape, you must unlock your twin souls as well.”

Dust let out a small reluctant sigh which Fidget, still on his shoulder, caught immediately.

“Don’t you dare go there again, Dust, or I will be forced to scratch your eyes out,” she warned. Dust shook his head.

“No…I understand,” he said. “Ahrah, you’re still with the others, right?” Ahrah confirmed that it had not left Dust’s side ever since the group fled Everdawn Basin. “Then…tell them that I’m okay, and that Fidget’s bringing me back.” Ahrah agreed to do so, but when Fidget asked the sword to pass on thanks to Lady Tethys, Dust instead asked if he could thank the deity in person once they awoke.

“As you wish,” Ahrah said. “In the meantime, I will project my power into the Soulscape for you, Dust. You will need a weapon.”

“Did I not mention five minutes ago that he nearly sliced my wings off?!” Fidget shrieked.

“I don’t know what that sword was, Fidget, but it felt wrong using it,” Dust winced. Fidget shrugged — fair enough. As long as it wasn’t that spectral sword from before she was okay with it.

There was a shimmer in the air around Dust’s hand — as it cleared, a glowing silhouette that matched Ahrah in appearance appeared in his hand. Dust visibly relaxed and gave the blade a few practise swings, and it moved so naturally he might as well have been moving his own arm. With a final farewell and wish for Dust and Fidget’s safe return, Ahrah’s presence vanished from the Soulscape. Armed and ready, the duo set off, ready as they ever would be to face the challenges of the Soulscape.




“That is the last time I ever want to face a demon from another dimension!” Fidget snapped as they took down a somehow-even-ghostlier-and-spookier-than-before version of Demon Kane. Dust wiped his brow and grunted in agreement. “Your mind is messed up, Dust.”

“So you’ve said ten times already,” Dust grumbled. “Given everything I’ve ever been through, can you blame me?”

“Eh. Guess not,” Fidget shrugged. It would be unfair to do so. “Let’s keep moving — wherever we end up has to be better than the Sorrowing Meadows.”

“I won’t disagree with you there,” Dust said. “Except Everdawn.” Again, Fidget couldn’t argue with that. The duo stepped forward, past the last mansion of the Sorrowing Meadow and, just as expected, the scenery changed. This time, it brought them to a village covered in snow. Surprisingly, although it wasn’t in ruins, it was recognisable immediately as Zeplich Village.

“Nice to have some place in here that isn’t in tatters or downright creepy,” Fidget mumbled. Dust nodded in agreement but didn’t make a noise — he seemed drawn to the centre of town. Following without question, Fidget hovered behind him as they moved onward. In the centre of town, just outside Ginger’s house, was a fox Warmblood with the same red hair and deep blue eyes that Ginger had. Like Dust had been in the Cirelian Trials cavern, this man had chains shackled to his wrists, but they seemed less foreboding than the ones that had bound Dust. Upon seeing Dust and Fidget, he smiled in greeting.

“Well, look who finally pulled himself together,” he remarked jokingly. Fidget blinked a few times, remembering that face…that smile…from the photograph in Ginger’s ruined home.

“Hang on a second…” she exclaimed softly. “Isn’t that…?”

“You’re…Jin,” Dust realised. For the first time, he was having a face to face conversation with one of the souls that had created his very being.

“That’s me,” Jin smiled. “It’s nice to have a chance to actually meet you, Dust. You too, Fidget.”

“Pleasure’s all ours,” Fidget grinned back. Ginger hadn’t been wrong when she’d told them how nice Jin was — Fidget couldn’t help but like the guy. “Ginger’s told us a fair bit about you.”

“I dread to think,” Jin gulped with a modest laugh. Dust pulled his hat up to reveal his face, eyes of pale blue meeting deep azure. Despite the difference in colour, the two pairs of eyes were almost identical.

“No, no. It was all…good things,” he contradicted. A smile crept across his own face. “It was pretty much the same from the Moonbloods who knew you.” To Dust’s surprise, Jin’s face fell and the smile left his eyes to be replaced with regret.

“That’s what I thought,” he sighed.

“Huh?” Dust blinked. “What do you mean? And how come you sound sad about that?” Jin sighed again before answering.

“Being a part of you and all that, I heard the Elder’s explanation about who you are,” he explained. “About how I’m the Soul of Innocence and Goodness counteracting Cassius’ Strength and Power. It’s…” He trailed off, as if trying to catch his own train of thought for a moment. “Let’s just say that it’s not as clean cut as that.”

“How do you mean?” Fidget asked. Jin made direct eye contact with Dust again.

“Dust…You share my memories,” he pointed out. “You know why I left home that night.” Dust nodded.

“You were seeking out Cassius,” he recalled. “The man who killed your parents and led the destruction of your home.”

“There you have it,” Jin said sadly. “I was out for vengeance. Does that sound like an innocent act to you?”

“Now you mention it…” Fidget mumbled. She guessed that Jin wasn’t exactly the squeaky clean angel they’d heard about.

“There was a darkness inside me that led me to abandon the only family I had left,” Jin explained painfully, the regret of what he’d done etched into his face. “It’s a side of myself that Ginger never knew about…and one I didn’t want her to know about.”

“That’s why I…I mean, you left without saying goodbye that night,” Dust realised, quickly correcting himself. Having so many sets of memories really did get confusing.

“Yeah, and I’ve regretted it ever since,” Jin nodded. “But how could I let my sister know that I was out for blood? I was no better than the assassin that killed our parents.” Dust begged to differ — Cassius had killed indifferently and without mercy or remorse.

“That might be the case, but everyone’s got a bad side to them,” Fidget pointed out. “And from what we’ve heard…from both sides, mind you…Cassius sounded way worse.” Case in point. “Don’t compare yourself to him.”

“She’s right,” Dust smiled softly. “I mean, Taka’s a great person, but she’s not exactly what I’d call a saint.” His smile broadened at the thought of his friends in the outside world. Taka hadn’t exactly gotten off on the right foot with the group, but Dust couldn’t deny that she was a valuable ally and friend, despite her thievish tendencies. “I have to keep my eye on the Blade of Ahrah constantly because she keeps trying to pinch it.” The example got a laugh out of Jin, who looked thoughtful before he spoke again.

“It’s not just me,” he said. “Cassius has a few…let’s say…unexpected traits of his own, I guess.” Of course. Spending an extended period of time in the same body as your enemy had to mean you’d learn a thing or two about them whether you wanted to or not.

“You’re saying he has a sense of humour?” Fidget asked. “Because that’s the last thing I’d expect from a cold-hearted assassin.”

“Nah, the guy’s about as funny as a dull whetstone,” Jin shook his head. “But…as much as I hate the guy…”

“Which is a lot,” Dust deadpanned. Jin looked surprised.

“Wait, you can tell?” he exclaimed.

“Trust me,” Dust sighed dryly. “Of all the memories that have been coming back to me over these last few days, the ones of you two getting down each other’s throats every time I made a decision are not ones that I’ve missed.” Jin grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck sheepishly in apology.

“Ah…umm…sorry about that,” he winced. “I didn’t realise you could hear all that.”

“You’re kind of hard to ignore,” Dust smirked until Fidget cleared her throat loudly to get the conversation back on track. Jin got back to the topic at hand.

“As much as I hate Cassius for what he did, he’s a loyal guy,” he explained. “Pretty much to a fault, now that I think about it. Also, I found out that when it comes to people he’s close to, he actually does care. I guess he didn’t want others to know that he could, though. Apparently even Gaius thought he didn’t have a heart.”

“How’d you work that out?” Fidget asked. It was Dust who answered.

“It was when I tried to save Gaius in Everdawn fifteen years ago,” he realised. “I felt Cassius talking through me then.”

“I was surprised you let him considering you spent the entire fight telling Gaius not to call you ‘Cassius’,” Jin remarked.

“Even when we were facing the King, when I was trying to get control of myself back…” Dust continued. “I could feel what Cassius felt. He…he felt betrayed, like he was horrified someone he considered a friend would do something like that.”

“So Cassius was friends with the King?” Fidget exclaimed in amazement. “Dang, guy had connections.”

“That was more or less the impression I got when Ginger woke me up,” Jin agreed, ignoring Fidget’s comment. “But that’ll be something to ask him when you see him, though,” he grimaced, lifting both hands pointedly. The chains clinked together. “We’re both a little…tied down at the moment?” he said. Dust winced and nodded quickly

“Oh, right…uh…give me a moment.”

There was the slightest of pauses before the chains around Jin’s wrists dissolved in a ribbon of cyan light, disappearing into the fog of the Soulscape. Jin rubbed his wrists and smiled warmly at the duo.

“Thanks, Dust,” he said kindly. “Say hi to my sister for me when you see her next.” Dust nodded and promised that he would do so, with Fidget vowing to hold him to that promise before they set off to find and unlock the final soul residing within Dust’s Soulscape.




“Dust…from now on, you are not allowed to speak,” Fidget grumbled as they left Zeplich Village to be greeted by a scene of glowing orange only made worse by the haze of the Soulscape. Dust tugged his satgat back down over his eyes…of all the places they could have ended up, this was the last on his list of where he’d wanted to end up.

“Shut up, Fidget…” he groaned back. “Let’s just hope that Cassius is around here somewhere, this is last place I can remember us ever going except the Plains and Falun.”

Cutting through the spectral hordes of Remnants, as the duo had found out the monsters within the Soulscape were called, Dust and Fidget fought their way back through the volcanoes of Everdawn for the third time. The path they carved through the basin was almost identical to the one they’d trod fifteen years ago, down to the very spot where Gaius’ throne stood in his camp on the summit of one of the volcanoes.

“I swear…if Gaius shows up again…” Fidget mumbled.

“Wait, again?” Dust frowned. Fidget was about to explain what had happened when she’d first entered the Soulscape when the air shimmered again, and a ghostly apparition of General Gaius appeared.

“EEK! WHY?!?” Fidget shrieked. Dust glared at his nimbat companion.

“Fidget?” he glowered.

“YES?!”

“From now on, you are not allowed to speak.”

The resulting battle with Gaius luckily was over before Dust found himself falling into a lava lake again — the scenery changed before he had a chance to do so. No longer were the duo within the fires of Everdawn Basin, but instead a courtyard, one that Fidget sure didn’t recognise but there was a faint glimmer of recognition in Dust’s face.

“Where do you think we are?” Fidget wondered aloud.

“This is where I…I mean, where Cassius trained,” Dust replied. “This is the courtyard of the Royal Palace.” He walked forward without waiting for Fidget to respond, as if exploring a place from his distant past. Fidget knew that it was like the time they’d entered Zeplich for the first time, and quietly followed him. If there was any place in the Soulscape where they would find Cassius, it would be in a place from his memories, just like they’d done with Jin.

Sure enough, there was a grey wolf warmblood standing in the centre of the courtyard, dressed in dark grey, wearing a satgat, and with chains hanging from his wrists. There was no smile on his face, merely a cold gaze coming from two crimson eyes.

“So, you came after all,” Cassius spoke in acknowledgement of the company he was now receiving. Dust stopped in his tracks and stood firm.

“I know I wasn’t exactly striking confidence in people with my behaviour,” he said bluntly. “You have Fidget to thank for snapping me out of that.”

“Uh…hi?” Fidget squeaked from behind Dust’s shoulder. Cassius grunted before responding.

“Dust is lucky to have friends like you,” he remarked. “While I agree that putting us all on lockdown was a good idea for an immediate solution, in the long term it will do nothing to stop Julius.”

“Uh…did you not try telling that to Dust?” Fidget asked with as much courage she could muster. The very air felt cold around the assassin, and it was giving her goosebumps. “It took me smashing his face in to get him to listen.”

“Tell me about it…” Dust grumbled, rubbing his nose as if to check that it wasn’t broken. Cassius folded his arms, his expression hidden by the shadow cast by his satgat.

“The child and I both tried talking to Dust, but no doubt you took notice of where you found him?” he said. Fidget shivered.

“Yeah…and I thought the Sorrowing Meadows were creepy,” she gulped.

“Okay, I get it,” Dust huffed. “My mind’s messed up. Can you blame me?”

“No, but I am definitely taking you to see a psychiatrist once this is over,” Fidget said firmly. “This is…it’s not normal!”

I’m not normal!” Dust pointed out. “We’ve established this.”

“Anyway…” Cassius cut across impatiently. “Such areas are impenetrable by those already chained within the Soulscape,” he explained. “I assume that because you do not originate from here you were able to find and communicate with Dust.”

“You see how difficult you made it for everyone, Cone Hat?” Fidget pouted.

“Okay! Alright! I get it! I said I was sorry!” Dust protested.

“Say…umm…Mr Cassius, sir…” Fidget said, ignoring Dust’s mini tantrum. “You tried fighting against the King’s control out there, right?” Cassius made no reply, but made a small noise that rang of betrayal.

“He was someone you saw as a friend, wasn’t he?” Dust said. “And what he did violated that friendship.”

“I trained as a Royal Assassin from a young age…younger than you are in the outside world, Dust,” Cassius explained. “Gaius was a few years my senior, and the King…who was the Crown Prince at the time…even more so. He nonetheless trained in combat with us, and was somewhat a mentor of mine.”

“Must have been a good fighter,” Dust figured.

“He is,” Cassius confirmed, the first trace of what Dust could only describe as nostalgia echoing in his otherwise cold voice. “He was close to General Gaius, who in turn was my friend. In time, they were the only two people I ever gave that title to.”

“Just a question, how good a fighter are we talking here?” Fidget cut in. “Because Gaius said that you could never beat him in a fight, so what about the King?”

“He was the only one that Gaius could never win a fight against,” Cassius remembered, almost too fondly for Dust and Fidget’s liking. That…wasn’t exactly good news for them. “When Julius was crowned King, I swore allegiance to him. I trusted his judgement. For as long as I knew him, he was a good ruler, and treated his subjects justly…”

“What of the Moonbloods?” Dust interrupted, perhaps a little sharper and colder than he might have meant to have sounded, but his disdain for the actions taken against innocent lives was nonetheless made clear. Cassius seemed unfazed by Dust’s tone.

“I know you share my memories, Dust,” he said calmly.

“That does not mean that I understand,” Dust retorted cooly.

“Can’t say I do, either,” Fidget agreed.

“And I doubt that you ever will,” Cassius said simply. “You side with the Moonbloods. I doubt there is anything I can say that will make you understand the viewpoint of those who oppose them.” It was clear that Cassius was going to make no attempt to either explain or defend himself, Gaius or any other Warmblood who actively sought to wipe the Moonbloods from the face of the earth, so Dust decided it not best to dwell on the subject. It was true that he knew Cassius’ reasons for fighting against the Moonbloods…and along with them, Gaius and the King’s reasons too…but he could never bring himself to understand them.

“You’re right. There probably isn’t,” he agreed. “But why would the King steal the Eye of the Life Thread and use its power in such a way?”

“Yeah, last time I checked, snatching souls from the Life Thread and raising the dead was a major taboo in terms of magic,” Fidget frowned.

“It is,” Cassius confirmed. “Although, by that logic that would also make Dust’s very existence an abomination.” Fidget instantly bore her fangs and claws, her paws glowing brightly.

“HEY!” she snapped angrily. “Say that again and I’ll…!” Luckily, Dust grabbed the nimbat by the scruff of her neck before she could cause any damage.

“Fidget! Calm down!” he exclaimed. “He’s got a point. Both he and Jin should technically be a part of the Life Thread. They…don’t belong in the mortal world anymore, yet they live on through me.” Fidget was still fuming.

“That doesn’t make you an abomination!” she argued.

“Cassius, I’ll repeat my question,” Dust said firmly. “Why is Julius doing what he’s doing?”

“I can only guess that he sought out a way of efficiently and permanently wiping out the Moonbloods,” Cassius speculated. “By raising an army that would never run out of soldiers…with the Eye of the Life Thread, he could bring them back as he pleased and they in turn could not be destroyed by normal means. With the Eye of the Life Thread, he would also have complete control over his army, and any soul who dared to defy him…if they even had the power to do so…would be subjected to the same trance that he placed me under.”

“That’s…barbaric…” Dust hissed, clenching his fists and his jaw.

“Julius is ruthless in war, and forever determined to achieve his goals,” Cassius said, no longer with nostalgic remembrance but a sad one. “That much, I have always known. But I never dreamed that he would stoop to such a level, nor commit such a crime against nature. Tampering with the Life Thread in such away…soon enough it will tear existence itself apart.” The pain of betrayal and disappointment cut through the assassin’s cold voice like a knife, Cassius being unable to hide emotions from someone who was practically himself in a new life. He paused for a moment as if in thought before he raised his head enough that his crimson eyes could be seen under his satgat.

“Although there is a part of me that will always be loyal to the crown, even I can’t and won’t ignore the fact that what the King is doing is destroying this kingdom,” he said. “The one we all worked so hard to save…” He couldn’t exactly deny his participation in the events of fifteen years ago.

“You’re willing to just let us stop him?” Fidget asked.

“We must,” Cassius said firmly. “There is no other choice. I may bear no sympathy to the Moonbloods or their allies, no more or less than I did twenty years ago, but as Gaius said: the world we loved is gone. He told you, Dust…told me…to cherish this new world, and I fully intend to honour my friend’s wishes.” He took a deep breath before continuing, every word burdened by the gravity of the situation at hand. “Even if it means defying the wishes of my King. What the man has done means that I can no longer consider him the friend that I once knew.”

“You understand what we all have to do, then?” Dust asked.

“If it comes to that, I will make no move to stop you,” Cassius promised. “I will lend you my strength, just as I have since the moment you first breathed life. But, Dust…” he trailed off, as if afraid that what he would say next would be unacceptable. “It it is not beyond my place…I would like to ask a favour of you.”

“Depends on the favour,” Dust frowned. “What is it, Cassius?”

“I would like the chance to speak to the King,” Cassius requested. “The man I trained alongside and served my entire life was not a man without reason. If possible, I would like the chance to try talking him out of this madness.”

“First off, we tried that and look how well that turned out!” Fidget pointed out, gesturing to the Soulscape around them. “Second, you want to become the dominant soul just to have a conversation? How do we know that you won’t make Dust turn on the others? That’s exactly what we want to avoid!” Again, Cassius was unfazed by the accusations.

“Were I still alive, I would swear upon my life that I would not do such a thing,” he replied. “However, I cannot give you anymore than my word, and a vow to do whatever I can to make sure that Dust does not fall under the Eye’s power again, so that is what I shall give.” Fidget didn’t look entirely satisfied, but Dust could only try to defuse the tension.

“I can see what this means to you, Cassius,” he said simply. “Jin probably won’t like this…nor will anyone else…but I will give you the chance to talk to the King.”

“But if you make one move that looks like you might even make the tiniest scratch on one of the others, I will not hesitate to knock you out myself,” Fidget threatened, teeth bared in an angry snarl. The smallest hint of a smile appeared on Cassius’ face — it made Dust wonder if such an expression had ever crossed the assassin’s face in the years before he died, and if anyone had seen it.

“Thank you,” Cassius said softly. His voice was still cold and sharp, but the faintest hints of gratitude were still there. “And Dust, please…do what you can to save Julius from this madness.”

“I will do my best,” Dust promised. There was a moment of silence as the chains around Cassius’ wrists dissolved into the Soulscape in the same way that Jin’s had done. The Soulscape itself seemed to become clearer, with much of the haze lifting.

“I believe it is time that you woke up?” Cassius pointed out. Dust nodded, and Fidget made a statement of agreement — the sooner they got out of the Soulscape, the better, in her not-so-humble opinion. “Good luck out there, Sen-Mithrarin.”

Dust held Fidget closer as the courtyard faded to be replaced by the Glade. The haze had all but gone, although the lilac and blue colours remained. It made the place seem more like a haven, rather than the twisted dimension that Fidget had found when she’d first arrived. There, in the very centre of the Glade…in the very spot that Fidget had found Dust on the day they’d first met, was a gleaming portal, shining with a gentle white light. Through it, Fidget was ninety percent certain that she could smell the scent of a freshly cooked curry.

“Ready to get back into the field?” Fidget quizzed, glancing at her friend. Dust stood in place for a moment. “Dust?”

“Yeah…” he replied. “I think so.” Fidget comforted him with a paw on his shoulder, which he gratefully took. With a small smile, pale blue eyes met ones of brilliant green. “Thanks again, Fidget…for snapping me out of this.”

“I know you’d do the same for me,” Fidget smiled. “Now let’s go before I get too used to seeing you as an adult.”
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 20
The journey through the Soulscape comes to a close, with Dust having a conversation with the twin souls that make up his very being: Jin and Cassius. I honestly wish we could have seen more of these two characters, even if hearing about them from other characters was interesting, and I've kind of formed my own headcanons about these two. Starting with Jin, I think that he's not the complete goody-two-shoes he's made out to be. The thing that always got me about Jin was the way that other characters described him – I can accept that he was exceptionally kind, but I personally believe that, as Sirius Black put it, "we all have light and dark inside of us", and that one side may just be more prominent than the other, and the fact that Jin was willing to leave the only family he had left to find and kill another man for the sake of revenge just struck me as incredibly dark for the guy who is supposed to be Dust's good side.

Now moving onto Cassius: I'll agree that he is definitely a dark character. We know he's an efficient killer, and even Gaius, who is supposedly his friend, thinks he doesn't have a heart – the ability to block out emotions certainly makes for an effective assassin. However, I do see Cassius as someone who is incredibly loyal to those he follows, evidenced by Gaius' firm belief that Cassius will return to his side in the original game, and that he genuinely cares for the rare few that he calls his friends. I could go into a great amount of detail about this, but long story short is that I think there is a lot more to these two characters than is just shown in the game, and that is what I tried to get across in this chapter.

Chapter Navigation:
First: Prologue
Previous: Chapter 19
Next: Chapter 21
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The Soulscape



Fidget’s vision was fuzzy when she first opened her eyes, but she was confused to see that everything around her seemed to stay out of focus even when she was certain she’d shaken her head clear of any additional fog obtained from Lady Tethys putting her into a magical sleep. Her surroundings looked blurred, as if she was looking through a very thick heat-haze. It reminded her a little of the haze from the Everdawn Volcanoes, and that alone was enough to make her shudder.

“Okay, Fidget…you’re here now,” she muttered to herself. “No backing out. Let’s just find Dust and get out of here.” Fabulous. Less than ten seconds into this and she was already talking to herself. Looking around and examining her surroundings further, Fidget began to see that it felt eerily familiar. She then recognised it as the Glade.

“No wonder…” she murmured. “It’s where he first ever woke up…it was his first memory as Dust.”

Something flickered in the peripherals of the nimbat’s vision, something which made her pause mid-flight and turn slightly. Fidget squeaked in terror as she spotted ghostly figures shimmering through the haze, and set of a flurry of projectiles as an automatic reaction, but stopped when they seemed to ignore her.

“Maybe they can’t see me?” she wondered aloud. She was an outsider in this realm, after all. Squinting, she noticed that the ghostly forms looked an awful lot like Dust — one even wore a satgat. But there was something about these two that didn’t fit right. They faced each other for a moment before charging, vanishing into swirling mist before they clashed. Fidget knew from years ago who those two had to be.

“They faced off here…” she realised. “Jin and Cassius both died in the Glade.” It made sense, then, that Dust had woken up there. It was the spot where his twin souls had fallen. Fidget wondered what else she might see in this dimension, if Dust’s memories were merging and clashing in such a way.

As Fidget continued her journey through the Soulscape, she was increasingly unnerved by its very appearance. As well as the haze, sometimes her surroundings seemed to splinter as if she was looking into a shattered mirror. Now, Fidget was no expert on these things, but she was fairly sure than an internal dimension was not supposed to be this fractured.

“Come on, Dust…” she mumbled as she passed through the Glade and into what looked like the fields outside of Aurora. Even the transition between areas was jarred. “Where are you…?”




“GYAH!” Fidget groaned in exasperation as she narrowly avoided having her wings singed by a spectral version of Lady Tethys of all people. It hadn’t helped that she’d also come across ghostly versions of Fuse and General Gaius as well earlier, but having faced Lady Tethys not hours ago meant that Fidget was hardly in the mood for more boss fights. “Dammit, Dust! Where are you?!” she cried. Fidget didn’t know how much of her friend’s Soulscape she’d even explored, and the constantly shifting surroundings didn’t help in keeping track, but she was fairly certain that she was being driven insane with every moment she spent in here.

As Fidget flew, she came across a structure, still underground, that was unlike the rest of the caverns. This one was built upon, with lion statues guarding the entrance atop marble columns. Fidget’s wings drooped — she recognised this place too.

“And of all places, you’ve got Cirelian Trials in here as well,” she grumbled. “Fabulous…” Still, it looked like the first place with any sort of stability in the Soulscape: unlike the haze that covered most of Fidget’s surroundings, this place was clear. If she was going to find anyone anywhere, she hoped it would be here. Praying beyond hope, Fidget cupped her paws around her mouth to use as a megaphone.

“Hey! HEY!” she yelled. “Anyone in there?!”

Her voice echoed through the caverns for a few moments. Fidget was about to turn away and give up when something echoed back. Something that was not her squeaky voice.

“Who…who’s there?”

Now there was a voice she recognised!

“Dust?” Fidget gasped quietly. There was no one else it could be. “Hang in there, Dust! I’m coming!” she cried, flying forward at full speed without any hesitation whatsoever. As she remembered, the Cirelian Trial cavern was filled to the brim with death traps and enemies, although these ones (like Gaius, Fuse and Lady Tethys) were ghostly in appearance. Her vigour restored from hearing her friend’s voice, however, Fidget was hardly fazed by them. Running on adrenaline alone, she charged headfirst through the hoards, not even stopping to tend to a stray ember from a flame thrower catching her on the wing.

The cavern went deeper than any Fidget had ever traversed before with Dust, so much so that the light given off by the cyan flames was getting dimmer and dimmer with each corridor she passed through. Eventually, though, she found the last room, almost pitch black if it weren’t for the fires outside giving off the faintest of lights. Through the shadows, Fidget could just make out a figure, but it wasn’t what she was expecting to see.

There were chains draping the room like ribbons, and Fidget had been expecting something along those lines after what Lady Tethys had told her. But in the centre of those chains wasn’t the figure of a teenaged Warmblood fox. This figure was a fully grown adult Warmblood, garbed in a long cape that caught the light of the fires and seemed to glow soft cyan. Upon his head was a cone shaped hat, with fabric the same colour as the cape draped over it, hiding his face.

Fidget’s didn’t need to see it. She knew perfectly well who it was without him even raising his head.

“Dust?” she called gently. “Dust!” The figure shifted — his hat still covered his eyes, but as Fidget let off a few projectiles to light up the room, her heart soared with relief. That was him. It was the one she remembered asking for the Blade of Ahrah back when they’d first met in the Glade. It was the one she’d fought alongside to save so many people. It was the one she’d seen being consumed by the fires of Everdawn.

It was Dust as she’d first met him.

“What the…?” he murmured in confusion as the room was lit up. “Who’s…?” Fidget didn’t wait for him to finish and shot over in a flash.

“Dust! What happened?” she asked worriedly. The chains looked awful, and on further inspection she could see that Dust’s ankles and wrists were all shackled. “What’s going on here?!”

“F…Fidget?” Dust realised, his eyes finally adjusting to the light, it seemed. “Is that…? What are you doing here?”

Of all the stupid questions…

“I came to find a way to wake you up!” Fidget explained, her eyes searching the room frantically for anyway to release her friend from the chains. “We need you back out there ASAP!”

“Fidget…I…” Dust began, but Fidget was already off on a rambling tangent, barely letting him speak.

“Now, you just sit tight whilst I figure out how to get you out of these chains,” the nimbat instructed. “Right…am I going to need a key, or can I blast these things open?” she mumbled to herself.

“Fidget…” Dust said again, this time with a slight growl in his voice that the nimbat, in her eagerness and relief, completely missed.

“And while we’re at it, how come you look like you used to?” she asked. After travelling with Dust in the outside world when he was a young teenager for close to a week, it was incredibly jarring to once again see him in his adult form. “I’d just about gotten used to seeing you without the stupid hat…”



“FIDGET!” Dust suddenly yelled.

“EEK!” Fidget squeaked, tumbling backwards away from Dust. He’d never raised voice at her like that before…he sounded so angry.  True, he’d been angry before…but never at her. “I’m sorry! I won’t insult the hat anymore!” she apologised before adding in an undertone: “It’s still a stupid hat…”

“I’m sorry, Fidget,” Dust sighed, calming down after his sudden outburst. “It’s… This isn’t about the hat.” Fidget heaved a sigh of relief.

“Thank goodness,” she smiled warily. “You scared me for a second there.”

“I’m sorry…I didn’t mean to,” Dust said softly. Fidget began tugging at the chains again.

“So…back to the chains?” she quizzed. Dust winced and turned his gaze away from his nimbat companion.

“They…they’re here because I created them,” he explained. “They’ll only release if I want them to.” Fidget’s face lit up with glee — for once, an easy solution!

“Oh! Well, that makes things a whole lot easier!” she exclaimed. Dust still looked sullen, but the nimbat was too happy at the prospect of getting out of the Soulscape quickly. “What are you waiting for, then?” Fidget asked when Dust didn’t move. She tugged on his cape, but no response came. “You know, everyone’s really worried about you,” she said, her brow furrowing ever so slightly with concern. “Let’s get going!”

“I…I can’t, Fidget,” Dust almost whispered, still avoiding eye contact with his companion. Fidget froze, almost falling out of the air as her wings momentarily stopped working. What?

“Huh?” she blinked in confusion. “But…you just said that you can make the chains go away!”

“It’s not that I’m not able to, Fidget,” Dust said. “I just…can’t.”

“What?” Fidget squeaked. “But that doesn’t even make any…” Something suddenly clicked in her brain as she figured out exactly what her friend was saying. The meaning behind the words he’d tried using to mask his real thoughts infuriated her.“Wait…you mean that you won’t take them off?!” she snapped.

“Wha…No!” Dust exclaimed, jumping to his feet in protest. “It’s not like… That’s not what I…!”

“Oh, shut up, Dust!” Fidget growled. “To me, it looks like that’s exactly what you mean!” Dust never had been a good liar. How dare he put himself in this kind of situation! “If this is about what happened in Everdawn, you’re safe now!” she continued, trying to appeal to whatever reason her friend had. “We got away! You don’t need to lock yourself away anymore. King Julius is not going to be able to do…whatever it was that he did to you. Lady…”

Now it looked like it was Dust’s turn to get frustrated.

“Fidget, don’t you get it?” he snapped, cutting Fidget off before she could continue. “He already knew that he could awaken Cassius’ soul… He knows that he has the power to make me do what he wants. I could…he could…”

“From where I was standing, once Ginger woke Jin up you were fighting that magic with everything you’ve got!” Fidget argued. “It took you…took everyone by surprise! We’re prepared for it this time. We’re not going to let it happen again! It’s not going to happen again, because…”

“He made me go after Ash and Kim!” Dust half-shouted, his voice shaking at the memory of nearly killing his own friends. “I’m made up of two dead souls, Fidget — the power of the Eye is not something I can fight against. This is the only thing I can do to stop it….to stop him from making me do that again!” Fidget let out a frustrated groan, bringing both paws up to her face.

“Urgh! Now you’re just being close-minded,” she huffed in exasperation. “You’ve not even stopped to think about any other way we can go about this without you turning Sleeping Beauty on us!”

“Fidget, if the King takes control of Cassius again, I don’t know if there will be a way to stop it now that Jin’s awake,” Dust said, almost pleadingly as he tried to justify his actions. “I could kill Ash and Kim…all the Moonbloods, even…” He paused, his entire being shaking. Fidget didn’t need to see the face under the satgat to known how much emotional pain her friend was in. “I could kill Ginger! Did you even stop to think about that?!”

“Right now, all I’m thinking about is how to snap you out of this stupid, selfish mindset you’ve gotten yourself stuck in!” Fidget snapped back, her tiny fangs bared. Her statement threw Dust completely off guard.

“S…selfish?!” he spluttered, taken aback. The angry snarl didn’t leave Fidget’s face.

“Yes, selfish!” she nodded. “Do you have any idea what you’re putting everybody through out there?” she cried. “We’re all sick to our minds with worry about you. Ash and Sanjin have been putting everything into making sure you stay safe while we try to wake you up… Taka, Kim, Jarin and I just had to fight Lady Tethys in order for us to find out what’s going on with you in the first place…!” She took a breath to continue reeling off what had been happening since Dust went comatose. “GINGER is scared to death that she’s not going to see her son wake up again… We are NOT losing you like this!” she screamed.

“I’m not doing this because I want to!” Dust protested. “I’m doing this to keep you safe from me!”

“Well, that’s not doing anyone any favours, especially you!” Fidget retorted. “And don’t you dare think that I’m going anywhere until you let me get you out of…”

Shlink

“EEK!” Fidget suddenly screeched as she found the pointy end of a blade millimetres from her nose. She jolted backwards, her green eyes wide with horror as she took in what stood before her:

Dust was holding a broadsword, one not unlike the Blade of Ahrah but at the same time so different. It was black, rather than deep blue and silver, and an eerie mist seemed to swirl around it.

“Fidget, if you do to leave this place quietly, then I swear I will make you,” Dust warned softly. Fidget was horrified. How could he do this? How could he raise a weapon to her?

“Dust…?” she whimpered fearfully.

“I can’t unchain the souls that make up who I am and not put everyone I care about in danger,” Dust continued, keeping the spectral blade raised which in turn forced Fidget to keep her distance. “I thought you of all people would understand. Now go,” he ordered, lowering the weapon and turning his back on the nimbat. “And tell them I’m sorry.”

He turned away, heading back into the shadows of the room Fidget had found him in. He no doubt expected the nimbat to turn and leave, but Fidget instead found herself frozen in place, making no move at all save for her wings keeping her airborne and her entire being shaking. All manner of emotions were racing through her head.

She was desperate to help her friend; she was horrified that the one she trusted more than anything else had just threatened her with a weapon; she was upset that how much pain her friend seemed to be in…

But, above all, she was furious.

“Why must you be so self-sacrificiously righteous about EVERYTHING?!” she bellowed, her anger exploding outwards in the form of every projectile she had ever mastered. The energy orbs  and fireballs ricocheted around the cavern before pelting Dust from every direction, and her lightning bolts electrified the entire room, singeing Dust’s cape and hat.

“ARGH!” the blue-white fox cried in pain and frustration, all mixed into one. “Why won’t you leave?!”


Fidget’s snarl deepened to a deadly intensity, her paws glowing brighter than they had ever done before. She saw no other choice ahead of her — the only way that she was going to get through to Dust, it seemed, was to literally knock some sense into him. She’d never fought Dust herself, but she knew how formidable a warrior he was. While she was relatively skilled in magic, as a fighter  she didn’t have a lot of experience in fighting solo. Not to mention, he was close to five times her size, was much stronger physically and he most likely still had Dust Storm still going for him.

The odds were not stacked in her favour, but it was a gamble that she had no choice but to take.

“If you’re not going to hear me out and listen to what I have to say…” Fidget growled. “…then I swear I’ll make you!” she finished, spitting Dust’s earlier words right back into his face. Dust, by reflex alone, had shifted into a defensive stance after Fidget’s attack, blade poised to strike if he was provoked any further.

“I don’t want to fight you, Fidget…” he begged, his voice raw with pain. Fidget wasn’t hearing it — she was going to get some sense back into the guy who pulled a sword on her if it was the last thing she ever did.

“You’re the one who just stuck a sword in my face!” she snapped. “I’m not going anywhere until I’ve knocked some sense back into you!”

Without further hesitation, Fidget let loose and a battle between an Elysian Warrior and his Guardian was instigated.

Dust was strong, that much was evident, and his adult form was far more powerful than his teenaged one but Fidget was small and fast, a combination of traits which made her difficult to land a hit on. She quickly discovered that Dust’s spectral weapon seemed to leave a trail behind it as it moved which also did damage, however, so keeping her distance was paramount.

Fidget also found out exactly what it felt like to be on the receiving end of Dust Storm.

“ARGH!” she grunted after Dust unleashed it for the first time, rattling the chains in the cavern.  The attack felt like a dozen tiny knives slicing through you all at the same time. Fidget could only imagine how much worse it could get when paired with her projectiles. “Low blow, Dust! Low blow!”

“I didn’t want to do this, Fidget!” he shouted. “Just go! I don’t want to hurt you!”

“Bit late for that, Stupid Hat Club Founder!”

Fidget was finding herself stuck — she couldn’t get close enough to deal any physical damage to Dust because of the reach his weapon had, and he had the advantage of getting her from range with Dust Storm…

Now, would using her projectiles backfire on her if she used them at the same time?

“Here goes nothing…” Fidget mumbled, waiting for Dust to unleash Dust Storm again. She provoked him with a dive-bomb fire attack, and unleashed her energy orbs as soon as Dust Storm hit. They swirled around the cavern, splitting and ricocheting off the walls like hailstones, but none of them hit Fidget. Instead, they peppered Dust and caused him to stagger.

Seeing her opening, Fidget rushed forwards while Dust’s guard was down and kicked him as hard as she dared. The move knocked him off balance and sent him tumbling to the floor (how he hadn’t gotten tangled up in those chains, Fidget doubted she would ever know). Fidget backed off, hoping it would be enough, but Dust got straight back to his feet and charged forward again.

The fight lasted for what felt like forever. Fidget’s projectiles lit up the cavern like lightning lit up a dark room during a thunderstorm, and Dust fought back as if the chains shackled around his wrists and ankles didn’t deter him in the slightest. Finally, Fidget set off her most powerful ability: a release of pure energy that she called Nimburst. At the same time, Dust swung at her with the eerie blade he held in his hand — the two attacks connected, but Fidget’s was far more powerful, fuelled with a determination to knock some sense into her friend and get him out of this twisted dimension.

The force of the impact knocked Dust off his feet again and sent his weapon flying from his hand,  vanishing into the rest of the Soulscape in a swirling black fog. Fidget dropped to the ground, her wings out of strength to keep her flying, while Dust tumbled to the ground in front of her. Fidget stared at him as she caught her breath, tears stinging her eyes and her lungs screaming for air as the adrenaline finally left her system.

“Wh…why won’t you listen to me?” she choked, a sob rising in her throat. That fight had been the last thing she’d ever wanted to do…it had almost destroyed her to fight her own best friend. Dust shakily tried getting to his feet, but all he could do was get himself onto his knees while still supporting his weight on his hands. He’d also lost the strength to stand.

“Fidget…” he panted, also distraught from the fight. “I…”

“No!” Fidget interrupted. She knew that if she let Dust speak, all she would hear would be a repeat of before the fight. She wouldn’t…couldn’t have that. “I don’t want to hear anymore of that nonsense from you,” she said firmly, with the upset still crystal clear in her tone. “I understand that it’s not easy for someone to be destined to save the world over and over again, but that’s no excuse to ever take the easy way out!”

“I’m not…” Dust began to protest, but Fidget would not let him speak.

“I’m not finished!” she snapped. “You once said so yourself that Cassius was always trying to persuade you to take the easy route…to leave people to fend for themselves…but Jin always managed to get you to do what you could to help!” She had to get to her point…maybe now Dust would realise… “You’re making everyone out there fend for themselves and you’re certainly not doing anything to help anyone, yourself included! You keep saying that you don’t want Cassius to take control…or the King to take control of Cassius…but if you’re set on doing this…” Fidget paused to cough up a sob. “…Cassius may as well already be in control.”

“Fidget…” Dust whispered, falling backwards so that he was in a sitting position rather than on his knees. Fidget pushed herself into a standing position — her big feet made it awkward, but she had to make a point.

“So what if you’ve got the soul of an assassin making up who you are?” she continued. “We established years ago that you’re not Jin or Cassius! You’re Dust, no matter what anyone else calls you or what form you take,” she reminded him, taking in his appearance once more. He was a battle worn warrior, but a warrior nonetheless. This Dust looked the part a lot more than the one in the outside world, but Fidget knew why.

Elder Grey-Eyes had spoken of a third soul within Dust in this life: one created when he was born anew from the Life Thread. Fidget knew that she was looking at that soul now. It hadn’t changed from the person she’d known before.

“You may be a teenager on the outside, now,” she pointed out. “But looking at what’s in front of me…you’ve still got the same spirit…the same soul…as the Dust that I knew before.”

“But I…”

“No buts!” Fidget cut across sharply, the tears starting to leak from her eyes. Now, nimbats had bigger tear ducts than most, so when the tears came, they came. “Everyone out there’s counting on you to watch their backs as well, you know? And you’re doing nothing but making yourself miserable in here, so for the love of Elysium, let me help you!” she pleaded.

“F…Fidget…” Dust choked. There was no hiding the sob within his own cracking voice.

“I’ve been through way too much with you to just let you wallow in this self-made prison because you think it’s for the best. It’s not!” Fidget continued, her fur becoming matted from her tears. “Lady Tethys is going to make sure the King won’t be able to control Cassius again…and I was trying to tell you that earlier but you wouldn’t listen! So don’t you dare say that this is the only way!” The nimbat still didn’t have the strength to fly, and she’d all but collapsed onto her knees as if she was begging Dust to hear her out and come home.

“Nothing will get better if you stay here, and I for one am not going to lose my best friend again!” she cried, ignoring the tears splashing the floor of the cavern. “And Ginger’s also making your favourite curry out there so if you let everything she’s ever done for you these last thirteen years go to waste, so help me, I will kick you into the next era myself!”

With that final plea, Fidget’s tirade was over. For a moment or two, silence fell across the cavern, broken only by the sound of shifting chains before a choked sobbing began to echo through the room. The noise caused Fidget to look up — that sound wasn’t being made by her. As she looked up, she noticed that Dust’s position had changed so that his head was buried in his arms, curled up into his knees. His shoulders were shaking violently, and a muffled sobbing noise was coming from the folds of his cloak.

“D…Dust?” Fidget whispered through her own sobs as she summoned the strength to crawl over. Dust made no move as she reached him, so she climbed up onto his legs and lifted his hat off his head. The satgat fell away to reveal the head of silver hair that Fidget had seen on his adult form only twice, but had grown accustomed to seeing on his teenaged form over the past few days.

Upon feeling his hat leave his head, Dust looked up and finally came face to face with his nimbat companion. Fidget’s heart broke at seeing her friend’s face. Dust’s pale blue eyes were rimmed with pink from crying, and his nose was twitching from his body-wracking sobs. Without any hesitation whatsoever, Fidget threw her paws as far around Dust’s neck as she could as she buried her head into his shoulder. In response, Dust hugged her as tightly to his chest as he could without crushing her.

“I’m here, Dust…” Fidget murmured softly, not even caring if her tears were starting to soak through Dust’s cloak. She doubt he cared either. “I…I’m sorry… It’s okay…”

“F…F…Fidget…” Dust wept. Fidget never thought she’d ever hear such a sound coming from Sen-Mithrarin. She was almost relieved that she had…relieved that he was able to cry. He needed to. That much was clear. And she needed to be there for him like never before.

“C’mon…” she hiccoughed. “It’s okay….I…” She sniffed. “I’m here…”

“I’m so…” Dust cried quietly. “I”m so sorry, Fidget. I…I…”

“Just…” Fidget gulped back another sob. “Please tell me you’ll let me help you out of here… Please?” she begged. Dust was shaking so much she couldn’t tell if he nodded his head, but the answer she heard whispered into her ear was all that was needed.

“I…I… Yes.”

“Really?” Fidget blinked, breaking the hug ever so slightly so that she could study Dust’s face. He furiously blinked away another wave of tears before nodding his head more resolutely this time.

“Y…yes,” he sniffed. “I’ll come back.”

With those three words, there came a clicking sound as the shackles around Dust’s wrists and ankles opened. There was a rattle as the chains themselves fell away before they, too, faded into the mist of the Soulscape. Fidget smiled proudly and hugged her friend once more.

“That’s the Dust I know,” she said gently as Dust hugged her back, the embrace as warm as one would be after reuniting with an old friend.
Reborn from Ashes: Chapter 19
By Elysium, I swear I do not like putting characters through situations like this!

I will say however, that this chapter was by far my favourite one to write in this entire story. Dust has gone under a lot of stress throughout this story, and everything is just released here as Fidget refuses to give up on him. I originally split the chapter just before the fight, but I decided to keep it at the length it is (even if it is a longer chapter than usual) because I felt that it just broke up the moment too much otherwise. I just wanted to show the lengths that Dust and Fidget's friendship really goes to – Fidget was always there to back Dust up in the original game, even in moments where he started to doubt himself, and I wouldn't put it past her to be willing to do anything necessary to get him out of a rut, even if it means literally knocking some sense into him. Dust may have a ton of advantages in a fight, but Fidget has a ton of guts and cares too much for her friend to let that stop her.

Chapter Navigation:
First: Prologue
Previous: Chapter 18
Next: Chapter 20
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Junia Age Progression
I haven't done an age-progression style drawing since my role-reversal AU Astrid and Hiccup designs, and I also haven't drawn Junia for a while so I thought it was high time to draw how she looks at various stages of her life, and try to capture her personality at each stage. This should give a little bit more of her backstory as well, as it's been a while since I gave any more info about her.

Age 5: Before she was chosen as an Elysian Warrior, Junia lived her life as the heir to the throne of Falana, being the only child of King Julius and Queen Sevilia before the queen's death. A curious child, Junia spent a lot of time studying about the world beyond the castle walls, as well as across the seas. Her father loved her dearly.

Age 11: Junia first summoned the Blades of Varis and Sunos at this age, and her heritage as an Elysian Warrior was revealed. Her once indigo hair turned silver, and she became more adventurous in spirit. Junia was put into training with the squires and assassins-in-training to develop her skills with her newly acquired weapons. There was one assassin in particular with whom she forged a very close friendship. It was also at this age that Junia met Smidge for the first time, and he taught her most of what she knows about Elysium and the Life Thread.

Age 16: While still learning how to control her abilities as a Warrior of Varis and Sunos, Junia remained lively and kindhearted throughout her teenage years. At 16, she learned of her father's plans to use the soul-snatching abilities of the Blade of Varis against his enemies – to avoid the power being misused, Junia fled the castle with the help of the assassin she'd trained with, and began travelling the kingdom and overseas to help those she could and figure out her place in the world. However, something happened not long afterwards that caused Junia to stop smiling.

Age 21: Since leaving the castle, Junia never stayed in one place for very long, constantly on the move to avoid being found by her power-hungry father. Her uniform became much simpler, and she cut her hair for practicality's sake. She has by now long since dropped the title of 'princess' and does what she can to aid the Moonbloods across the seas from Falana. Junia' personality has hardened and turned almost cold over the years, but she still retains a desire to do what is right for the greater good.
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This is just a quick heads up to you guys that over the next three weeks or so, I'm not going to be as active on here because I need to crack down and focus on my university assignments. The upcoming chapters for Dust II: Reborn from Ashes will still be uploading as usual on Sundays and Wednesdays at 8PM BST (British Summer Time) because those have all been scheduled for weeks in advance, and I'll still be replying to comments as and when I can, but in terms of uploads besides Reborn from Ashes updates, expect nothing until 10th May at the earliest. My final deadline is May 9th, and after that I should have a lot more time on my hands for artwork (I have a few things planned, mostly Reborn from Ashes related so I can't wait to get some time on my hands). That is, if I don't get too caught up in my other projects – there's something in particular that I am itching to get started.

In the meantime, to those who are currently reading and following Reborn from Ashes, thank you for your continued support of the story. I love reading your comments on each chapter as it comes out and, as an aspiring writer, it means so much to read your feedback and reactions to the latest update. Knowing that you guys are out there, reading and enjoying my writing...it means so much to me. I honestly cannot thank you enough. You guys are amazing.

I shall be seeing you guys soon. Until then, I've got some writing to get cracking on with. See you guys around!
  • Reading: Morte d'Arthur, Thomas Malory

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CessieRose25
Francesca
Artist | Hobbyist | Varied
United Kingdom
I've loved drawing for ages and have so much stuff I figured I needed to get it somewhere! Most people ask why I didn't take art for higher education - in truth, the type of art done isn't my thing (a lot of sculpture work and collages) plus I would rather do art as something I enjoy. In addition to art, I love reading, writing, listening to and playing music - I'll listen to most stuff if I like it.

As well as doing artwork, I write for fanfiction.net but I may post a few things on here as well (most likely crossovers with more than two categories such as The Big Four/Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons). I also cosplay from time to time, with my current costumes coming from Legend of Zelda and How to Train Your Dragon

Let me know if you want to see more of a certain type of work - hand-drawn, digital or literature. I'm open for suggestions.
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:iconrasenganlucario:
RasenganLucario Featured By Owner Mar 27, 2017
Hey Cessie.

Don't know if you got around to it, but I got chapter 3 done.

rasenganlucario.deviantart.com…

Here you go! 
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:iconcessierose25:
CessieRose25 Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Yep! Just read and left a comment!
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:iconrasenganlucario:
RasenganLucario Featured By Owner Mar 28, 2017
I saw.
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:iconsoundbreaker1235:
soundbreaker1235 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
hello, do you take requests, i just want to ask before i put one in
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:iconcessierose25:
CessieRose25 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I am willing to take one request, but I am also hoping to properly set up commissions. I am okay with doing one request
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:iconsoundbreaker1235:
soundbreaker1235 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
ok, few things to ask you real quick, 
 are you cool with drawing fanmade characters with actual characters, if so, would it be ok if i can put in a request with my fan version of spider-man along with ladybug and chat noir
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:iconcessierose25:
CessieRose25 Featured By Owner Mar 2, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
I'm cool with drawing fanmade characters, so sure! I may not be able to start work on the request for a little while because of academic commitments, just so you know.
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(1 Reply)
:iconaussieevil:
AussieEvil Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2017
Your story series is tops!
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:iconcessierose25:
CessieRose25 Featured By Owner Feb 24, 2017  Hobbyist General Artist
Thank you so much! :D
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