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Hello, children! Draco-chan has a lovely surprise for you all - another sporked chapter of Adrift in Despair! When we last left our heroes, Isaac had just gotten majorly self-owned by stabbing his girlfriend and then giving in like a little pansy to some "shadow creature" that lives in his brain. Now we get Mia's perspective on matters. Are you ready for this?

Me: Ah! At last I’m free from that God-awful midterm and can go back to doing something I enjoy! Killing the brain cells of innocent readers? Ivan and Sheba also got tired of watching me fry my brain cells studying, so now I can really concentrate…

Ivan: (from outside) Is that so?

Sheba: Didn’t you miss us, Midnight?

Me: -.-;;; These two are like a bad roach infestation—they keep coming back! *rimsho- Ohwaitnotfunny. I thought you guys were going to go pester some other GS authors for me and get them to update their stories? Glares at fellow writers You people know who you are! See, that’s the thing about the voices in your head – you’re the only one who can hear them, dear.

Ivan: Well, we just love you so much you know…

Me: Sigh Whatever. Um, the next parts of this fic might be a little hard to follow the previous parts weren’t? (I'm doing my best to make it make sense). I only say this because we finally gain a better understanding of the shadow creature it’s doing this for the lulz – it’s all a social experiment!, and it primarily inhabits the depths of Isaac's mind (and a mind can be terribly jumbled! Or in this case, shockingly vacant).

Oh, I almost forgot: to Cowgirl Ed2002--in answer to your question, this is an I/M fic (idk my bff Midnight?) through and through. But that's all I'm saying at this point!

Disclaimer: Again with the declaration that I don’t own Golden Sun.

Lost Soul If it would just stop and ask for directions…

Mia found herself standing at the edge of an immensely cold darkness. It kept pulling her closer and closer, the cold numbing her all over. She couldn’t fight its draw the moonlight even though she desperately wanted to. She didn’t know what to do or how to resist it. All she was sure of was that she didn't want to enter it no matter what. No means no!

Just as her toes began to cross into the blackness, something warm surrounded her. It was a golden, heavenly warmth like the pure rays of the sun. Mia woke up and found that she’d fallen asleep in the tanning bed. Also, that she had skin cancer. She basked in it happily, and then realized that it was also bringing her back from the darkness. What was this warmth? It felt familiar, comforting. Slowly, very slowly, it guided her further and further away from the darkness and to safety…

Mia’s vision slowly came into focus and she took in her unfamiliar yet hospitable surroundings. A sanctum? she thought. What am I doing here? No sooner had she made a noise, however, than a bunch of voices started in.

"You’re awake!" Sheba cried.

"She’s awake?" Garet questioned superfluously, since we already had punctuation indicating that in surprise.

"Thank Jupiter!" Ivan sighed.

"You had us so worried!" Jenna exclaimed. Inwardly, she was cursing the fact that the h0r had lived. Jenna knew that she should have just suffocated Mia while no one was looking.

Picard’s face appeared above her. "How do you feel?" ”Like I just got run through by my boyfriend.”

It was then that Mia felt a sharp pain below her ribs and the memory of what happened came rushing back. She made an effort to sit up, but quickly discovered that the pain was too great. The owners of the voices she’d heard came into her view, but someone was missing. " Where’s Isaac?" she asked. She owed him a good kick in the nuts, the jerk.

"He’s here," said Ivan. "He’s just sleeping right now—probably for the best."

"The poor guy’s really been beating himself up," Garet added. "”He was going all Dimmesdale, what with all the self-flagellation. Kind of a relief to see him out like a light."

Mia swallowed hard, able to imagine exactly how tortured Isaac must’ve been. She wasn’t unfamiliar with the effects of a whip on the human body. He was already so vulnerable from the nightmares that had attacked him while he slept; it was a wonder this last incident hadn’t driven him to suicide. If only. "How long was I out?"

"You gave us quite a scare," said Sheba. "You lost a lot of blood and you’ve been unconscious for the past several hours."

"Do you remember what happened in that clearing, Mia?" Jenna asked as calmly as she could.

"Isaac was far too upset to tell us anything so we’ve just been speculating. My money is on bad plot device, but Garet insists that leprechauns were involved."

"Why indeed would this man you love try to kill you?" Picard questioned. ”That would make as much sense as Jenna being a jealous, OOC h0r who tries to come between the pure and true love that you and Isaac share.”

"He wasn’t trying to kill me," Mia began. "He thought he was protecting me." Sure, Isaac sometimes got protecting confused with berserk rampaging, but Mia knew it was the thought that counted.

The others all looked confused. "Please explain then," said Picard.

She tried to recall everything leading up to the incident. "It was the night of May 9. I was just sitting in the living room, watching American Idol, when Isaac burst in wearing a tinfoil hat and wielding a chainsaw, saying that the dark gods of the north required my death. Before it happened, Isaac told me that he’s been having these unnaturally realistic nightmares. From what he inferred, some of them must’ve been really devastating and they’ve all been gradually wearing him down." A man can only find himself naked in front of his entire ninth grade class so many times before he snaps.

"That must be why he’s seemed so distant lately," Ivan said. No, that’s the opium.

"Yes," Mia continued. "Apparently, one part of these nightmares is some sort of black shadow (Fig. 1) that must be gaining a stronger hold over his mind. When he lashed out at you yesterday, Garet, he actually thought he was attacking this shadow creature."


Fig. 1 – Dark purple is close to black, right?

Garet scratched his head. "So that was why. And here I was worried that he was sick of my charming personality."

Jenna rolled her eyes. "Don’t flatter yourself."

"And you think that’s what happened here too?" Sheba implored. "That he saw this shadow creature instead of you?"

Flashback--what Mia saw

"You’re probably right," Isaac sighed. "Let’s go." He turned back to her and his expression suddenly changed to panic. "Mia! Behind you!"

She spun around, but couldn't see anything at all. She’d gone blind! Puzzled, she looked back at Isaac and took a few steps towards him.

"Made you look! What have you done with her?" he demanded. "Where’s Mia?"

"I'm right here," she said in confusion. "What's the matter, Isaac? What did you see?"
His rage was visibly escalating and he drew his sword. "Your fight is with me! Leave Mia out of this!"

Mia gasped when she saw him holding his weapon. This is what had happened yesterday with Garet! He thought she was the shadow beast from his dreams! His eyes shone with a desperate determination to protect his true love, but he couldn't see the truth. "Isaac, snap out of it!" she begged. "It's a trap trick!" Or, you know, you could
run.

"We’ll just see about that!" he declared, brandishing his trusted Gaia Blade. "Let Mia go this instant or I’ll cut you down to size!"

"No, Isaac it's me!" Mia pleaded. "It's really me!"

Isaac lunged at her, swiping at her with his most powerful sword swings. She dodged them all as quickly as she could, terror running through her as she jumped around. "Please, Isaac!" she said. "You have to snap out of it!" Or you could just
avoid your homicidal boyfriend.

"Mock me all you want," he said. Why, thank you! It’s so nice to see you being a good sport about this. "I’m not giving up until you let Mia go." The Gaia Blade shone with golden light and unleashed Titan Blade. The blast narrowly missed Mia. With few options at her disposal, she sent out a small blast of Psynergy towards his feet, which tripped him up. Good job! You just further convinced your homicidal boyfriend that he should fight the shadow creature you appear as! He skidded to a halt and jumped back at her, stabbing at her again. One swipe finally connected and she staggered back a few steps, blood slowly oozing out of her side. And she
still doesn’t run away! Chicks like this are just more evidence for the values of natural selection.

"Isaac!" she cried. "Please stop and wake up!" She cast another small wave of ice in hopes of knocking him back to his senses. Isaac dodged it and tackled her to the ground. She managed to flip him a short distance but the wound in her side was slowing her down and making it hard to defend herself. Isaac rose and cast Ragnarok for a finishing blow. Mia managed to stand up after the blast but only barely. She started to cast Ply to heal her injuries, but he swiftly got in close and ran her through, twisting the blade as it penetrated her body. She slumped to the ground and saw no more. And that was the end of Mia and the fic! Yaaay!

End Flashback


”Why’s she just staring into space like that?” asked Garet.

“Internal monologue or flashback, I think,” Ivan said.

Jenna checked her watch. “Of course she couldn’t do it on her own time. Some of us have better things to do than to watch to Angel here mentally recap a plot event that was boring and cliché the first time around.”


"I’m sure of it," said Mia. "I don’t think he could even hear my voice when I tried to tell him it was me. When he came after me with his sword, I tried using my Psynergy to trip him up and bring him back to his senses, but it didn’t work. It wouldn’t surprise me if he thought that beast was attacking him in return. Hey, Sugar Queen here actually has some common sense. Color me surprised. He truly didn’t know it was me." Or he was hoping to be able to plead insanity and get off with a lighter sentence.

"We saw the light from his Ragnarok attack," said Jenna. "But we got there too late." No, too late would be when Mia was fatally dead. You just had to hurry. Her eyes watered at the memory. She had been so close to being rid of Mia forever. "Once we got there, he definitely knew it was you. You’re lucky you didn’t have to see his reaction, Mia. It would’ve broken your heart."

"It breaks my heart just to think about it," Mia whispered. "My poor Isaac. What is this monster doing to him?"

Picard seemed doubtful. "Forgive me for sounding skeptical, but can we really write off all of his strange behavior to a monster invading his mind? What if there’s… another reason for it?"



"You mean that Isaac’s really gone off the deep end?" Garet asked, half-joking. The deep end’s the place to be. The little kids pee in the shallow end.

"He’s not crazy!" Mia declared adamantly, shocked that anyone would even consider the idea.

"He nearly killed you!" Picard said. "I wouldn’t want to think it either, but I have a hard time believing that a mere shadow could cause anyone to do such a thing. An action like that must’ve been triggered by sheer insanity." And of course, Piers is the bad guy for considering what is really the only logical explanation.

Mia suddenly sat up, even though it hurt. "He’s not crazy! Even when he was attacking me, I never once saw a glimpse of insanity in his eyes. Denial! It ain’t just a river in Egypt anymore, folks! And how does Mia know what a glimmer of insanity would look like? She put in volunteer hours in the Imil Insane Asylum? I saw someone desperate to protect and defend what he loves. I know it might sound unlikely, but you have to believe me. He’s perfectly sane--it's just that something very powerful is tricking him into acting this way."

Silence held for a few moments as the two Mercury Adepts stared at each other with highly focused glares. They’re chargin’ their laz0rs! Eventually, Picard relented, sighing and crossing his arms. "If you say so, Lady Mia." He coughed, a noise that sounded suspiciously like “Crazy!”

"I think the real question is what is this thing?" said Ivan. "And more importantly, how can we help Isaac beat it?" Summon rushing! Don’t forget to grab Eclipse from the Lucky Fountain!

"We should wake him up," Jenna said. "He’ll be so relieved to see that Mia’s all right."
Garet went to the spot where Isaac lay sleeping on the floor and kicked him shook him lightly. With some effort, Mia managed to swing her legs over the side of the altar and get to her feet, though she still wobbled a bit. Mia reflected on the irony of being the one on the altar for once, instead of the one doing the sacrificing.Her white slip was tarnished with huge blood stains on both the front and back. Yeah, it’s the new fall look in Paris. The size of these surprised even her, as did the stains on her robe when she pulled it back on. I should be dead, she thought. What was that warmth that saved me? It felt so familiar... Actually the warmth was merely Mia coincidentally losing control of her bladder.

"Hey, Isaac, come on," Garet said with a vague sense of urgency.

"Something wrong?" Sheba asked.

"He’s not waking up," Garet replied, shaking his friend again. "I understand he’s tired but this isn’t natural. Come on, Isaac--wake up!" Try true love’s kiss, Garet!

The others gathered around. Mia sat on the floor and pulled Isaac’s head into her lap, running her fingers through his hair, looking for lice. "I’m all right now, Isaac. See?" I’m sure the bloodstained robes aren’t exactly helping your case, but whatever. She kissed him but still he didn’t stir, as if he were trapped in his slumber. A realization hit her. "Oh no! That creature must’ve done something to him!" Or maybe he’s really tired from the mental trauma of possibly killing his girlfriend, not to mention all the other stress from his hallucinations.

"But what?" Sheba questioned.

"We have to do something," said Jenna, her voice rising in panic. "What if that…thing is hurting him?"

Ivan looked thoughtful. "The only option I can think of is to look into Isaac’s mind and find out what’s going on in there."

"Are you sure that’s a good idea?" Garet asked. "What if that thing starts attacking you?"

"Does anyone have a better idea?" Ivan implored. The others shrugged. "Anyway, we’ll save before going in. Remember, if it looks like trouble, A+B+Start+Select! All right then. Mia, if you’re up for it, I’d like you to look with me."

"Why Ivan?" she asked.

"For several reasons, not the least of which is that Isaac needs to know you’re all right. And you were also the last one to really talk with him, so you have a better idea of what’s circulating through his mind than any of us." Who knows what evil lurks in the minds of men?

Mia bit her lower lip, unsure if she was recovered enough for this task. At the least, she needed to change her clothes and scrub her own spilled blood off herself in a nice bubble bath. But she couldn’t sit by and do nothing. Hence the bubble bath. This was her one and only and he needed help. Besides, she was tired of being a damsel in distress.

"OK. What do I have to do, Ivan?"

Ivan seated himself on the floor next to her and Isaac. He took her hand. "Just close your eyes and I’ll do the rest. Aaaand right back to depending on men. Sheba, I’m counting on you to bail us out if it looks like something’s going wrong." Even Sheba gets to be more competent than Mia. Maybe she should look into being Garet’s girlfriend instead.
Sheba nodded. "Please be careful, you two. You can never be sure of what you’ll find inside of someone’s memory." Sheba recalled the time she had read Garet’s mind and come across certain fantasies involving Jenna, Felix, and livestock.

"Of course," Ivan said. With that, he and Mia shut their eyes and were enveloped in a purple light as he cast Mind Read.

"So this is the inside of Isaac’s mind?" Mia asked.

"Yes," Ivan replied. The two of them were standing in totally empty space. How telling. Everything around them was an endless midnight blue, cloaked in a fine mist. "If we press forward, we’ll see flashes from his memory."

"What are we looking for exactly?"

"Who killed Jimmy Hoffa. Well, we need to gather clues about what’s been affecting his mind. We also need to find Isaac’s mental self so we can find out why he’s not waking up."

"Come again?" Mia was confused.

"Every person has a physical self and a mental self," Ivan explained. "The physical self is the part we see in the outside world with our eyes. The mental self is the core of someone’s mind--the inner person Yeerk who controls all of the physical self’s actions. It’s also a curator of memories, thoughts and feelings. The two of us that are here in the Spirit World right now are our mental selves because our bodies are still in the real world where they belong. Mind Read allows the mental selves—the true selves—to communicate directly without any interference from the physical world. Does that make any sense?"

"A little," Mia replied. "This ‘mental self’ is the guardian of everything in this space, right? And he’ll look just like Isaac just like we look the same too?"

"Right. The Isaac we find in here is the very essence of his soul. It is the part of him that makes him who he is. Pixels and lines of code? I know it’s confusing to your tiny, helpless female brain, but just trust me on this, OK?"

Mia nodded. "Lead the way, Ivan."

As they proceeded deeper into the recesses of Isaac’s psyche, thousands of palm-sized dots of light appeared, looking like an endless field of sparkles. Isaac’s soul is a vampire?!

"Here are his memories," Ivan said.

"These are his memories?" Mia questioned. "But they just look like drops of light."

Ivan picked up one of the lights. "You have to open them first. It’s sort of like looking at lots of small picture books." Ivan sounds pretty knowledgeable. Does he go delving into the minds of his party members a lot? He took the light he had and pulled it apart like Silly Putty, forming a scroll. He turned a deep red when he looked at it, promptly tearing his eyes away. "Oh my! Mia, I had no idea you two were meeting by moonlight! This is better than any of the stuff at adultfanfiction.net!"

Mia snatched the scroll away and looked at it. Sure enough, on the scroll was a moving image of one of her late night visits to Isaac! Mia stared at it for a while. Dang, that was hot. She turned scarlet red all over. "Ivan, you cannot tell another living soul about this! Promise me!"

"I won’t, I won’t!" He broke into laughter. "I love reading minds! I never know what kind of secrets I’ll learn!" Little horndog.

She smacked him with the rolled up scroll and then tossed it away. It turned back into a dot of light. "Stop laughing! We have more important things to do here, remember?"

"You sure we can’t-?” Ivan sighed when Mia glared at him. “Right." Ivan collected himself and looked at all the memory lights.

"There are so many," Mia said. "How are we supposed to tell them apart without opening every one of them?"

"By the color and intensity of its light. Recent memories are always the brightest, and the color denotes the mood. That one we just looked at was bright white, indicating it was recent and very pleasurable!"

"Enough of that!" she scowled, blushing again. See, gang? All my jokes about Mia being a shameless hussy are all solidly based in fact!

"Sorry!" His eyes glowed for a moment and a few dozen very bright lights came towards him. Nearly all of them were deep shades of blue and purple, and a few were black. "Wow, look at all of this. So many sad memories…"

"You say that like it surprises you. We both know he hasn't been himself lately."

"True, but look at his older memories--many of those are darkly colored as well. I know everyone has inner worries, fears and sorrows, but I never pictured Isaac as the kind to have this many." Come on, he’s a silent protagonist. We know they’re all emos.

Mia pulled open one of the lights before her and watched the moving image for a few moments. "This looks just like the nightmare he described to me earlier."

"A nightmare?" Ivan looked on with her, seeing the scene where he and all of the others left Isaac behind in the wilderness. "That has to be a dream for sure—we’ve never done anything like that, nor would we ever. But what is this doing collected with his real memories?" Isaac is a future psychic!

"You mean it shouldn’t be here?"

"No. Dreams, wishes and fantasies are stored in a separate part of the mind." He narrowed his eyes. "Small wonder why Isaac’s been acting weird. If his dreams have been stored here, that means they’ve felt as real to him as if they actually happened!"

"Poor Isaac!" Mia whispered, closing the scroll. "Then he’s been carrying this sorrow and loneliness with him ever since he had this nightmare, just as if we really had abandoned him like that once!" Only because he was too stupid to share his feelings and talk it out.

"Precisely," said Ivan. "Something has deliberately placed these manifestations here to force him to feel such hurtful emotions." He fumed. "This is beyond cruel! Why would someone do this to him?" *whistles innocently*

"I don’t know, but we have to find out. Should we try to find him now?"

"Yes definitely." His eyes glowed again. "I’m vaguely sensing his mental energies down this way. Come on."

They quickly moved through the dark blue expanse. It gradually turned to black the further they went, until everything was so murky they couldn’t see much of anything. No memory lights shone here. "He’s close," Ivan said. "But I’ve never seen a place this dark in any mind I’ve read. It’s not natural." Lol, symbolism.

Mia shuddered. "It gives me the creeps." She went a few steps further, not liking the idea of finding her beloved in such a scary place. "Isaac? Are you there?" She suddenly bumped into some sort of wall and fell over with a grunt. "What was that?"

Ivan touched the barrier and inspected it more closely. It was tinted black but see-through, allowing him to make out a figure on the other side of it. "I don’t know what this thing is or where it came from, but Isaac’s there on the other side. Look."

"It can’t be!" Mia exclaimed. She looked through the barrier and sure enough, there was Isaac. He was sitting in the far emo corner, clutching his knees, and thick black vines were snaked all around him, binding him to the back wall and floor. Very bondage. He appeared slightly transparent too, as if he were slowly fading out of existence. She knocked on the barrier, calling to him, but he didn’t react in the least.

"So this is why we couldn’t get him to wake up," Ivan said. "This barrier has him completely blocked off from his body."

"Bingo," said another voice. ”B-9, I-21, N-34, G-50, O-64!” The two saw a pair of glowing red eyes staring at them through the darkness. The shadow’s outline could barely be seen amid all the black. "I wasn’t expecting to have company. I’ll put some tea on, but I’m afraid there are no crumpets."

"You’re the demon that’s been causing all of this!" Mia growled angrily. "What have you done to Isaac?"

The shadow glowered at her. "I thought I took care of you for sure. No matter--not even Isaac’s angel love can save him now. Oh, gag me. Shadow creature, I want so much to root for you, but if you keep using this kind of cliché phraseology, you’re gonna make it difficult for me. This vessel belongs to me!"

"‘Vessel?’" Mia questioned. ”You mean our Lemurian ship?”

"His body," said Ivan, face-palming. "Don’t you see, Mia? Isaac’s spirit has been cut off from his body and now this thing means to take over! It’s sort of like possession, only this will be irreversible!" I’m down. Any malevolent force that wants to kill Mia Sue has my support.

"But what will happen to Isaac?" Mia asked fearfully. ”Will he go to Happy Puppy Island to eat candy and play with baby animals?”

"Stupid girl," the shadow hissed. "Your precious Isaac is disappearing." It grinned fiendishly. "Those vines are draining away all that’s left of him. It is only a matter of time before he vanishes completely and I will own this vessel forever." *dramatic musical cue*

"No!" Mia cried. She turned back to the wall, hitting it with both hands. "Isaac! Isaac, you have to break out of there! You have to fight back! You gotta fight for your right to party!"

"He can’t hear you," said the shadow gleefully. "He surrendered to me and I made him my prisoner and BSDM love slave. Nothing can reach him now that he's under my power, not even you."

"All of this makes perfect sense now!" Ivan fumed. "You gave Isaac those horrible nightmares and tricked him into hurting people to weaken his will so you could take control of his body! And now that he’s completely in your clutches, he lacks the inner strength to fight back!" Yes, Captain Obvious, I think we all realized this.

"Exactly," the shadow replied with a laugh. "Brilliant, isn’t it? I must say, it turned out to be much simpler than I thought it would be. For such a powerful Adept, he was quite easy to break. Quite the weepy uke. So much inner guilt, sorrow and fear to feed off of--a veritable feast of bad feelings!" OM NOM NOM!

"Monster!" Mia screamed. Um, yeah, I think that’s pretty obvious, Mia.

"What manner of beast are you, anyway?" Ivan asked. "I've dealt with demonic spirits before, but never one quite like you." Had some secret career as an exorcist, Ivan?

"My kind are often called ‘Psynergy Eaters’ because we destroy the souls of Adepts to gain their Psynergy." It smirked again. "But I would rather be called ‘Despair,’ since that is what I always bring to my victims." I changed my mind. I don’t like you anymore, cheesy shadow villain. Come on, “Despair”? That is so lame. The red eyes narrowed. "Now, I believe you two have worn out your welcome."

"We’d better get out of here," Ivan muttered.

"Not without freeing Isaac!" Mia declared, her eyes filled with tears. "We can’t abandon him like this! This is my one chance to be competent, Ivan! That thing means to kill him!" But before Mia could object further, Ivan had grabbed her and the two of them disappeared in a flash of purple light. Despair cackled and looked back at the barrier.

"Nothing can stop me from getting what I want," it said, licking its lips as it looked at Isaac’s sexy bod. "Nothing at all."

One of the vines tightened around Isaac’s neck. He glanced over and saw the black shadow of Despair vanish from sight. He sighed to himself. That wasn’t Mia’s voice he’d heard—just another illusion created to torment him, to remind him of what he’d done. She was gone forever and he had no one but himself to blame for it. The wound of losing her was still wide open and tearing at him. THESE WOUNDS, THEY WILL NOT HEEEEAAAAL! He’d give anything to turn back time and prevent it from happening. TO THE DE- Dang, I’ve overused that one, too, haven’t I? Even though he didn’t deserve to be with her, he wanted her to be alive and happy. If she were safe, nothing else would matter. But he’d destroyed any chance of that, and this lonely prison was what he deserved for all his mistakes, both past and present. A just punishment for his crimes, and no one would ever be touched by his cursed existence again. Amen to that, boy! He looked at his hands, which he could just barely see through. It wouldn’t be long. Soon he'd be gone and the world would be all the better for it. That was the one thing he could do right.

--

Me: I hope that wasn't too hard to follow. We're building to the climax, folks! Can't you just feel the excitement in the air?! … Nope.

Sheba: Open up this door! You need us to keep you from saying dumb stuff like that! Oh, Sheba, I knew there was a reason I loved you.

Ivan: You finally gave me more than two lines in a chapter! And they were quite worth it for all the times you made fun of Mia.

Sheba: Shut up, Ivan!

Ivan: You're just jealous.

Sheba: -.-+ Am not!

Me: And here I thought Mars was the hot-tempered element. Well, hope Chapter 7 was worth the wait. Eight is well under way.

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Lynn Dracos

November 2010

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