Chapter twelve of my Xenoblade novelisation. The party heads even deeper into Tephra Cave, and runs into some trouble.
Shulk watched the shadows flit across the roof of Tephra Cave as he sat by the fire that cast them. He thought they looked rather like people, dancing across the blue stone above him.
He unsheathed the Monado, examining it. Gripping the hilt with both hands, Shulk closed his eyes, picturing the blue blade protruding from the sword; a soft rumble caused him to reopen his eyes, and he saw that the Monado had activated.
It responds to my thoughts. How? Shulk thought of Dunban and his limp right arm. And why mine? Why are my thoughts so different, especially compared to Dunban’s? Dunban was a far better warrior than he; why he could use the Monado flawlessly where Dunban could not, Shulk couldn’t fathom.
Shulk tilted the Monado, and ever so gently lowered the blade into his palm. He applied a little force; nothing happened. The Monado can’t cut people. He remembered saying exactly that to Reyn only a month before. Can it cut other living things, though? Shulk had never tried, and nor did he want to; he wished Dickson or Dunban were here, as they had so much more experience with the Monado than he did.
Shulk leaned forwards to examine the symbol contained within one of the sword’s circles of glass. So many twisted lines… Shulk longed to learn what they meant. It was, he noted, the same symbol that the Monado displayed when casting Enchant. It’s almost like… The Monado always has Enchant activated. That would make sense, and explain why the sword was able to cut through Mechon armour. But where does it draw its anti-Mechon power from? And what about all the other layers of glass…?
Shulk sighed and continued to turn the Monado over in his hands.
Several hours later, Reyn stretched (which did nothing to ease the pain in his aching muscles), put on his gunlance and wandered over to the campfire. “Shulk.” His friend looked up. “My turn.”
“Awake already?” Shulk stood.
“Didn’t sleep a wink,” Reyn admitted. He groaned. “And I still feel like I just did one of Vangarre’s drills!”
“Heh.” Shulk turned his gaze to the pond he and Reyn had dropped three men into just a few hours before.
“Hey…” said Reyn, thinking. “Why do you think the Mechon attacked?” He turned to face Shulk. “Are we just food to them? Or, what, did we do something wrong? Sort of reminds me of the battle between the Bionis and the Mechonis. I wonder if it’s anything to do with that?”
“Well… It’s hard to believe that living things are just a source of energy for machines.” Shulk refused to believe that. “There has to be another reason.”
“The Mechon… killed Fiora.”
Shulk took a deep breath. “Yeah.”
“You know what?” Reyn looked Shulk in the eye. “I’ll never forgive ‘em. I don’t care what their reason is.”
“Hmm.” Shulk’s shoulders sagged, and he dropped his gaze. “When it happened,” Shulk began, “the Monado showed me that Fiora was in danger. But… I couldn’t save her.”
“It’s not your fault,” said Reyn instantly. “Just ‘cos the Monado showed you some future, that don’t mean you could do anything about it. You did great. You fought them off.” Reyn stared down at his hands. “I couldn’t have done that.”
Shulk was shocked. Reyn sat down and crossed his legs. “You know, I’ve been thinking about it,” he went on. “Why you can use the Monado, I mean. Dickson told me.” When Shulk said nothing, Reyn decided to keep talking. “You’re a survivor from the Monado expedition team that went out 14 years ago. There was a blizzard, or something, and your mum and dad died. And then Dickson found you and brought you back.”
“That sounds right.” Shulk tried to recall, but found that he couldn’t. “I was pretty young, so I don’t really remember anything.”
“Is that why you do it?” Reyn asked. “Why you’re always helping Dickson with his research and trying to figure out the Monado?”
“Maybe,” Shulk admitted. “Part of me does see it as something to remind me of my mum and dad.” He lifted his gaze, staring determinedly at the wall. “But mainly, if it really is the sword that the Bionis used to kill the Mechonis, like in the legend… I want to work out its secret. That’s the real reason.”
“I’ve got it!” Reyn walked around the fire to be opposite Shulk. “You were chosen. By the Monado.”
“What?” Shulk almost laughed. “Chosen?”
“Don’t you see?” Reyn was sure he was right. “Not even Dunban can handle it. It ain’t chance that you can and he can’t.”
Shulk had never considered this before. He stayed quiet. Could I have been… chosen?
Reyn broke the sudden silence. “I’ll take the next watch. You get some rest.”
“OK, I’ll try.” Shulk walked over to a nearby rock wall and curled up against it. “Night Reyn.”
He was standing on solid stone, unable to see anything for the thick smoke blocking his view. He could make out a faint, humanoid shape through the smoke.
“Do you wish to change it?”
“Huh…?” Shulk was confused. The shape ahead of him moved.
“The future.” When Shulk said nothing, the voice continued.
“It is every man’s desire to change the future. Is that not so?” The smoke around Shulk thinned slightly; a large spike could be seen above, piercing the sky.
“Even if everything has been predestined,” the silky voice went on, “will you not oppose it?”
“I…” Shulk had no idea how to respond.
“The Monado is now in your hands,” the voice interrupted softly. “The Monado will grow with you. If you can find the True Monado,” the voice paused briefly, “the future is yours.” The shape ahead of him moved, and started to walk away.
“The… True Monado?”
The shape paused, seeming to turn back. “Shulk!” Shulk looked behind him. “Shulk!”
Shulk was wrenched from his dream by an unknown force, and then plunged into another. The world and all of his senses seemed slowed down. Ahead of him, Reyn was running, pursued by many small arachno.
“Reyn!” Shulk gave chase, of the mind to help his friend. But Reyn was surrounded.
Behind Reyn, a giant arachno scuttled from the ceiling and down the wall. The vision shifted slightly, and Reyn was under attack by it. It reared up, bringing its fangs down, on to Reyn.
“Shulk!” Reyn called out to his best friend as the arachno’s fang broke through his shield and pierced his chest.
“Reyn!” Shulk awoke with a start. He quickly got up and turned; he and Reyn were surrounded by arachno.
“What’re ya playing at?!” Reyn yelled. “Give us a hand!” Shulk quickly activated the Monado. There appeared to be less than ten of them. One of them lunged at Reyn; he caught it on his shield, and Shulk ran it through with the Monado. It… worked? It fell to the ground, unmoving.
“There’s not that many!” Reyn called. “Just be careful, and we should be able to do this no problem.” Another arachno lunged at Reyn; he again stopped it with his shield, thrusting it back into the horde. It tumbled into two of the others, sending them skidding across the ground.
Behind the main arachno horde, Shulk could see another, slightly larger arachno moving back and forth, tapping the ground with its legs. Shulk realised that this arachno must have some sort of authority over the others. Arachno are capable of this?
Shulk stabbed at one of his foes as it scurried forward to nip at his legs. It shuddered as the Monado pierced its thorax, and then collapsed. “Reyn!” he called, pulling the blade out of the four-legged creature, “That one at the back seems to be in charge!”
Reyn nodded, though he didn’t take his eyes off the creatures. “I’ll distract them! You run around and take out that one!”
Shulk swallowed and nodded. “Got it!” Shulk slowly backed away as Reyn performed a wide, sweeping attack that served to thoroughly irritate their foes. One of them didn’t get away in time; part of one of its forelegs was clipped off, and Reyn was able to catch its head with another blow.
Shulk counted five remaining arachno, four of which were attacking Reyn. The fifth, larger creature was hovering behind the rest, scuttling back and forth as the others pressed on.
Suddenly they all turned to face Shulk. Reyn gave a shout as Shulk suddenly found himself surrounded. Shulk gripped the Monado tightly and, seeing no other way out, drew the sword above his head.
“Monado… BUSTER!” The blade of the Monado shone brilliantly and stretched to more than twice its length. Shulk slammed it down on to three of the arachno, including their leader. One lost two legs; the other two were sliced cleanly in half.
The other two arachno fled. Reyn strolled up to the now two-legged arachno as it tried feebly to flee, and then stabbed it through its thorax. The creature jerked, and then lay still.
Shulk deactivated the Monado and slung it over his back. “I’m sorry, Reyn,” he began.
“Don’t worry about it,” Reyn replied. “It looked like you were having a nightmare!”
“Really?” In his head, Shulk could still hear that mysterious voice.
The Monado is now in your hands. The Monado will grow with you. If you can find the True Monado, the future is yours.
“The True Monado?” Shulk muttered. “Was I dreaming?”
“What’s with you?” Reyn asked, irritated. “We’d better get a move on.” He turned and started to leave.
As his friend walked off, once again, Shulk found himself thinking of the vision.
It was briefer this time; Reyn was surrounded, and then got stabbed by the giant arachno’s fang.
It wasn’t a dream, Shulk realised. Was it a vision? What should I do? I could tell Reyn. But… I don’t know… He followed Reyn up a small ramp and into the next room. Littering the ground were strange oval-shaped objects that looked to Shulk like egg sacs.
Reyn was floored. ”What on Bionis are those?” He wandered over to them.
“Monsters’ egg sacs… I think…” Shulk frowned. “But it looks like there are Mechon parts inside as well.”
Reyn strolled up to one of them, examining it. “Man… What kind of monsters are they?”
“Probably some type of arachno…” Shulk heard the crunch of a shield breaking and the sound of a fang ripping through homs flesh. He gasped and spun around. “Reyn! Get back!”
Even as he said it, a web dropped down from above and enveloped his friend. Reyn gave a shout as he was pulled up through a hole in the roof.
“Reyn!” Shulk watched him go. “No! If that vision comes true, then Reyn…!” Shulk pulled himself back to the present.. “I’ve gotta find him!”
Images taken using Scalz311‘s YouTube channel.