Doppleganger

by Blake

The cave near Mauri's temple was known far and wide... and avoided. The cave has an innate magic in it. The cave could create copies of anyone who entered the cave, with all the knowledge and abilites, copies with one differance, they would try their best to stop anyone from getting through the cave. No one knew why. Some said it was to guard a treasure left by the goddess herself. Fortunately the cave could only make copies of people who are in the cave, and the copies could not leave the cave. Until one day, Hiro and his party had gone through the cave and fought various copies of themselves. But the copies were not up to the original. However the battles caught Zophar's attention. Before Hiro's party left the cave Zophar used his own power on the cave. The cave made a copy of the whole party. But these copies didn't fade away when Hiro's party left. These copies were different. These copies were evil.

Hiro was piloting the Destiny. He was worried about Lucia. They had known each other for such a short time, yet in that time he had come to have strong feelings for her, feelings of...

"Hey, is that smoke?" Ruby's voice cut into Hiro's thoughts.

"Where?"

"Over there"

Ronfar came onto the deck from below and looked where Ruby was indicating. He suddenly looked worried.

"Hiro, it looks like Raculi, we have to check it out"

Hiro was about to protest, but he saw the look in Ronfar's eyes. He was worried about Mauri. Others are in love besides him, and it wouldn't be that much of a detour on the way to Pentagulia.

"Ok Ronfar, we'll take a look."

Raculi had been decimated, that was the only word for it. Not a house was left standing. Smoke drifted up from the remains of what had once been peoples homes. The townspeople were milling about, or shifting through remains, or just standing in shock. The party of adventures took all this in from the deck of the Destiny.

"Ronfar!"

Mauri came up to the Destiny, looking ragged.

"Ronfar it was terrible..."

Ronfar hopped down and took her in his arms.

"Mauri what happened here?"

"It was you... all of you. But it was not you." She shook her head. "They looked like you, and sounded like you... but I could tell it wasn't."

"Mauri, I don't understand."

"Dopplegangers."

Leo hopped down and looked over his sister. "But that's not possible, they cannot leave their cave."

"These can... I tried to hold them off..." Mauri looked near tears. Ronfar held her.

"I understand... where did they go?"

The Destiny was headed towards Pentagulia again. According to Mauri that is where the dopplegangers had headed. Hiro and his party were somber, remembering the destruction that they had left behind them. The Destiny was returning to the spot where they could get back into the ocean, when it came upon a roadblock. Trees had fallen into the road, an obvious trap.

Hiro looked around at his comrades, his friends. Ruby chattering about something, though no one was listening to her. Ronfar was still thinking about Mauri, whom they left behind. Jean had a serious look on her face, she wouldn't let anyone get away with what had been done. Leo stared ahead, no one could tell what he was thinking. While Lemina was wondering if the dopplegangers were carrying the same amount of gold as Hiros party.

"Is everyone ready?"

Hiro's companions were ready, together they climbed off the Destiny and approached the roadblock. Suddenly large ice spears formed and feel towards the party. They reacted and lept aside. Then each of them came face-to-face... with themselves.

Hiro looked at what could be his mirror image.

"You know," Pseudo-Hiro said, "I'm going to kill you."

Hiro drew the sword that Ghaleon had given him. He looked at the copy.

"We'll see about that"

They lept towards each other, their swords meeting with a resounding clang.

Pseudo-Leo stood with a slight smirk, his hand on his sword.

"You attacked innocent townspeople unable to defend themselves, have you no honor?" Leo called.

"Who needs honor... when you have power?" Pseudo-Leo gestured. Spears of rock formed above his head and flew towards Leo. Leo leapt aside, one of the spears slicing though his cape.

Jean bowed to her opponant. Pseudo-Jean lept forward and aimed a kick directly at Jeans head. Jean jumped backwards, the blow missing her by a foot.

"You are a fool to leave yourself open like that!" Pseudo-Jean spun around, needles flew towards Jean.

Ronfar glared at the man before him.

"How could you? You destroyed your own hometown"

"It isn't my hometown" Pseudo-Ronfar said, tossing up a pair of dice and catching them again. "Looks like we are going to see which one of us is the luckier."

Ronfar looked down at his dice... for Mauri. They both threw their dice at the same time.

"...and then" Pseudo-Lemina was saying "I'm going to take all your money"

"Over my dead body!" Lemina exclaimed hotly.

"That's the idea!" Pseudo-Lemina pointed her scepter at Lemina, numerous fireballs shot towards her. Lemina raised a magic shield just before they stuck. The magic shield took the brunt of the attack and shattered.

The two Hiros faced each other, both breathing heavily, both cut in various places. It was apparent that their skill with the sword was equal. They each waited for the other to make a move when there was an explosion. Hiro glanced to the side to check on his friends.

"Ha!" Pseudo-Hiro swung his sword at Hiro, who barely blocked it. "You care about your friends don't you? Ha, that will be your doom. Compassion is a weakness."

"You are wrong" Hiro said, looking over the edge of his sword. "My friendship and compassion is a strength. If I didn't care I wouldn't be any better than you are."

"And one more thing..." with a quick motion Pseudo-Hiro stuck the tip of his blade in the ground, he pulled it up, flinging dirt into Hiros face. "...I don't fight fair."

"Ahhh!" Hiro rubbed at his eyes with his free hand while swinging his sword, trying to keep Pseudo-Hiro back.

"This is just too easy" Pseudo-Hiro prepared to attack. "and now you... ahhhhhhh!"

"Leave him alone!" Ruby said after giving Pseudo-Hiro a face full of fire.

"Get away from me you little freak!" Pseudo-Hiro smacked Ruby, knocking her to the ground.

"Ruby!" Hiro glared at his advasary, his eyes watering. "You've hurt her!" Hiro leapt into the air, and came down on Pseudo-Hiro, bringing his sword in a downward swing. Pseudo-Hiro barely had time to raise his sword. But Hiros attack sliced directly through the upheld sword, and through Pseudo-Hiro. Pseudo-Hiro looked surpirsed. The blade of his sword hit the ground with a clatter. Then he vanished.

"Are you alright Ruby?" Hiro asked, kneeling next to his longtime companion.

"Yeah..." Rudy stood, one of her wings hanging at an un-natural angle "but it looks like I'm gonna need some help from Ronfar, and he's never going to let me forget it!"

The rock spears thudded into the ground, following Leo's dive. The last one struck through his cape, trapping him. Pseudo-Leo drew his sword, leapt towards Leo, and dissapeared. Leo dove aside, his cape ripping, just as Pseudo-Leo re-appeared, swinging his sword.

"Not bad" Pseudo-Leo said. He turned to face Leo. The rock spear sticking out of the ground next to him fell over, a clean slice though it.

"I will avenge the people of Raculi. You destroyed their homes, their lives..."

"Oh?" Pseudo-Leo asked. "I enjoyed it."

Leo attacked. Psuedo-Leo parried the blow.

"Is that your best? I'm ashamed to have been created from you"

As they battled the time ticked by, both of them too skilled to let an attack get through. Swords clanged, sweat trickled, and neither had an advantage.

"Not bad," Leo said, "for an abomination."

"I've more than a fighter you will ever be."

"There's more to fighting than skill, there's honor, and cunning."

"So what are you going to do, talk me to death?"

Leo's sword seemed to glow and he jumped forward with a Flash Sword. Pseudo-Leo sidestepped, laughing as Leo re-appeared swinging his sword and hitting only a tree.

"I know all your techniques, did you think you could surprise me with that?"

"No," Leo said as there was a snapping sound "with this."

The tree fell towards Pseudo-Leo. He jumped to the side but was struck by a protruding branch. Pseudo-Leo fell to the ground, apparently unconscious. Leo stepped up and rested the tip of his sword against his back.

"No" Leo said, shaking his head "I won't strike a man who's down."

He turned and headed back to where he last saw his friends. He was startled by a yell behind him. Pseudo-Leo ran towards him, his sword held over his head. Leo lept backwards, over a rock spear sticking out of the ground. Blinded by rage Pseudo-Leo ran into it. He gasped as the point of the spear went through his chest.

"I... hate... you" he said, then dissolved into the nothingness from which he was created.

"Thats why you lost" Leo said, shaking his head.

Jean jumped up, over the needles thrown by Pseudo-Jean. She came down with a kick at Pseudo-Jean, her foot seeming to glow. Pseudo-Jean dodges aside. Jean left a hole as she hit the ground, but was ready to block the attack that came immediatly.

"I can't believe you don't enjoy this," Pseudo-Jean said mockingly .

"Enjoy what?"

"The ability to defeat any opponent."

"The ability to hurt and kill" Jean said dispassionately.

"Yes!" Pseudo-Jean exclaimed. "You are a fool not to embrace it!"

"I hate it, and I only use it because it is the only way to help my friends, to help the world."

"Someone who does not emprace her power, cannot use it to her full potential, haaaaaadooooooooken!" Pseudo-Jean yelled, unleshing another fireball.

"But there is something I embrace." Jean lept back... then danced. Butterflies flew towards Pseudo-Jean.

"Butterflies? You're kidding me!" With some quick strikes, she knocked all of the insects out of the sky. "Now Jean, you die." She turned her attention back to Jean just in time to see Jean's fist, then nothing.

Jean sighed, she had won another battle. Yet she still took no pleasure in the fighting, or the winning. The day that she did, she would be no better than Zophar himself.

Two pairs of dice rolled, then stopped.

"No!"

"Yes!"

Ronfar fell to his knees as his body is racked with pain. Pseudo-Ronfar laughed, healing light surrounding him.

"You rolled your own pain Ronfar, not feeling lucky today?"

Ronfar stood straight. "We'll see... are you ready?"

They rolled again, this time Ronfar's roll was neutral, with no effect, however Pseudo-Ronfars roll...

"Ugh..." Ronfar fell to his knees again, a line of blood trickling out of his mouth.

"It's all over." Pseudo-Ronfar drew his dagger "Now you die."

Ronfar was too weak to resist physically, he couldn't do it...

"And then, after I kill you, I think I'll pay a little visit to Mauri... I'll give her your love."

"No!" It was a chance, but still a chance. Ronfar mutter a few words and let the spell go. The magic hovered over them, switched between the two.

"Oh... and what are you going to do to stop me.... huh?" Pseudo-Ronfar looked down, there was a shadow on him. He looked up to see a large boulder, right before it fell.

"Looks like you wren't as lucky as you thought," Ronfar said. Mauri was safe now.

Lemina fell backwards as her magic shield shattered. Pseudo-Lemina tapped her scepter on her shoulder.

"I would have hoped that you would have put up more of an effort."

"Hey, I'm not finished yet!" Lemina quickly spoke a spell and ice daggers flew towards Pseudo-Lemina. She gestured and a wall of fire appeared between them. The daggers melted before they got through.

"Don't they teach you anything in that precious guild of yours, let me show you how it's done!" With a few words and a gesture a large spear of ice formed and sped towards Lemina. She didn't have the time for a shield, so she dove aside. She wasn't quick enough and the spear slashed across her side, giving a light scratch and knocking off her belt pouch. The pouch hit the ground and some silver coins spilt out.

"For me?" Pseudo-Lemina asked. "How kind." She stepped over and began collecting the coins.

"No one takes my money," Lemina muttered and began a longer spell. Pseudo-Lemina was too blinded by greed, and didn't notice until it was too late. Her eyes widened as she reconized the spell Lemina was casting. She quickly began a magic shield spell, but it was too late. A pillar of fire erupted out of the ground around her. She didn't even have time to cry out. When the pillar faded, there was nothing left.

"Oh pooh!" Lemina exclaimed, stamping a foot on the ground. "I melted all my silver!"

Hiro looked over his friends. Once again they had won. They were one step closer to defeating Zophar once and for all.

"Ronfar, think you can help me with this?" Jean asked, referring to a few cuts she had.

"Anything for a lovely lady" he replied, and with a few gestures, healed Jean.

"Hey!" Ruby called. "She's not the only one that needs some medical attention!"

"Everyone gather around" Ronfar concentrated for a few seconds, then cast a healing spell on the party. Ruby flapped her wing a few times to make sure it worked, then turned to Ronfar.

"Hey, how come Jean gets personal attention but I don't? Aren't I lovely enough for you?"

Hiro grinned and missed Ronfar's responce. It seemed things were back to normal. He turned and looked at a dark cloud on the horison. Next they would be going to Pentagulia... or at least what used to be Pentagulia. He would rescue Lucia and defeat Zophar. And then, he would show Lucia the joys of humanity. No battles, no evil spirits. He would finally get to show her how he felt about her.

Elsewhere, in a dimention not quite the same. A party faced their master, and he wasn't pleased.

"You have failed me" Zophar's voice sounded, apparently from everywhere at once.

"Give us another chance master," Pseudo-Hiro pleaded. He hated calling anyone master, but it served his purposes for now.

"My power is all the allowed you to exist outside of the magic cave, and I do not waste my power on failures."

"We will win next time, I promise!"

"Very well, I will send you back, but not with my power."

"Then how...?"

"There are other places with the innate magic required to keep you solid. In one of these places is a jewel. They may try to get into the Star Tower, and that jewel is required. Guard the jewel"

"But we can never leave..."

"If you please me, perhaps."

"We will win next time. We tried to fight them individually. Next time we will fight them together, and we will be invincible."

Without another word Zophar dismissed his pawns.

Back to the Library of Vane.

Back to the Shrine to Ghaleon.