“So you’re betraying your Master?” Nephthys sounded puzzled.

“I fear he and Annika are conspiring against me.” Roran’s face darkened. “Ever since Rethwood’s disappearance after Remy’s transition.”

“Remy’s transition?”

“She entered the surreal world physically,” Roran clarified. “To protect the legendary Gravity Stone from consuming Rethwood. It consumed her instead, and she entered the Void.”

“She must be with Tessa and Nara,” Nephthys reasoned. “After all, the Gravity Stone did collapse in on itself.”

“Wait, wait, wait, hang on,” Jason interrupted. “Please tell the rest of us what’s going on.”

“Roran’s an old friend from before the last war,” Nephthys explained. “You all know how the legendary Gravity Stone-”

“Created by you,” Amarantha interjected.

“-ended the war,” Nephthys continued, ignoring her interruption. “Remy and Rethwood were both good cross-fighters, aiding Tessa and Nara, the Sun Child and Void Child, in the battle. While I fought the one who improperly used the Stone-”

“Diantha,” Dee said, interrupting Nephthys yet again.

She continued anyway. “-they attempted to destroy the Stone. It nearly consumed Rethwood, but Remy pushed him aside and made the sacrifice instead. The Stone physically absorbed her into the surreal world. Some call it the Nightmare World, others the Void, and still others name it semi-death. Whatever it may be, she is there now. They say her older brother Rethwood was driven mad at the loss of his sister and committed suicide, but those closer to him knew him better, that he would’ve kept going for the less-known middle child Annika, who is now Roran’s partner. They think he just ran off and has been hiding ever since.

“Annika blamed her little sister’s transition and older brother’s disappearance on Madelene and the angels, saying that they let it happen. She sided with the demons, and is still with them to this day, although she continues to be incredibly secretive, according to Roran.”

“Wait.” Arion frowned. “Is she an angel or a demon?”

Roran shrugged. “No one ever actually could tell what she and her siblings were, but evidence suggests they may be angel-demon hybrids. They do have incredible power.”

“I remember them,” Artemis mused. “Rethwood was the strong, silent type. Remy was excitable and friendly, a little like Winter. Annika, though, she was really hard to predict. She was always in the shadows, being secretive. I could never tell what was going on in her mind.”

“Hmm.” Roran thought for a moment. “That sounds about right.”

“But now you think she and The Master are working against you?” Nephthys prompted.

Roran nodded. “Annika is being even more secretive than usual. She questions my orders, defies my commands, and gets away with it, too, without much punishment from The Master. She is even permitted into the Room of Silence now.”

“Whew.” Nephthys looked up at the dark sky. “That does sound pretty ominous.”

“I still don’t trust this guy,” Jason said gruffly. “He could be lying.”

Nephthys sighed. “It is certainly a possibility, but I don’t like questioning the honesty of my friends.” She frowned.

“I swear, I’m telling the truth,” Roran gasped desperately. “Please don’t kill me. The Master will torture me after death, and my journey will have been for no reason.”

“We won’t kill you,” Nephthys told him firmly, and he relaxed.

“I still don’t like it,” Jason muttered, but he let Nephthys and Arion lead Roran to a bed.

While Artemis settled down for first watch and everyone climbed into bed, Nephthys and Roran talked softly about the last war and the aftermath. Arion laid awake, pretending to sleep, but listening in on the conversation. It was of no interest to him, and he quickly fell asleep.

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