Outside the border of the Savage Woods stood a small gathering of men in black. The shadow of a dragon swept over them, and landed. Dismounting Momo, Gwendolen and Gehenna met once again with Reno.
Reno explained everything, as was his custom. The Jerks had not kidnapped Gwen’s sister – they had taken her to keep her out of Siegg’s hands, being aware that the Acampemy would raid Ruhenheim for servants, and find her. Now, however, something had gone wrong. The Secret Turks were not responding, and it seemed some misfortune had befallen them. Two Turk agents named Ralph and Sophie were preparing to investigate, so the heroes joined them, venturing into the woods to find the lair of the Secret Turks.
It had been abandoned. Seemingly it had been very suddenly attacked, and not a soul was left alive – but neither were there any bodies. Gwen suspected monkeys were behind it, but when they discovered tunnels leading into the camp, she concluded it must be mole-monkeys, or molonkeys. She told everyone dread tales about the dangerous molonkeys that lurk underground, but only Sophie believed her. She was scared witless.
They descended through the tunnels, into the darkness. Soon, they picked up undeniable clues that this had been the work of Wraiths. The tunnels split into two directions, and the team stopped to argue which route was best to pursue – but Gwen picked up the scent of her mother, and left without a word in one direction. Gehenna, however, sensed that the real threat lay further down, and so he led the group through those tunnels, into the lair of the Wraith.
Gwen found a cage holding the Wraiths’ victims. Most of them were Turks, but she recognized an older woman held in their midst, and attacked the guards with relentless fury. Within moments, the Wraith were dead, defeated by Gwen and Ryana, who had followed her. They freed the Turks and her mother, who were all very weak from having been drained of life by the Wraith.
Gwen spoke to her mother, and learned about her sister’s name – Bathilda – and that she had been taken to a room downstairs for some kind of ceremony. She introduced her mother to Ryana, and they had a short but heartfelt conversation, before the heroes departed to rescue Bathilda. The Turks promised to look after Gwen’s mother, in the meanwhile.
Down below, the Wraith were conducting a ceremony to drain Bathilda not only of her life, but also of her power. It was presided over by the first female Wraith they had ever seen, a Queen in a long gown, seated on a throne. Within moments, the ceremony was interrupted, mainly because five of the celebrants were suddenly set on fire.
Jessica, Leesa, and Sophie stormed in, while Gehenna hovered above the mayhem, directly challenging the Queen. She possessed great psychic powers, and tried to use them to invade his mind – but Gehenna’s defenses were much too strong. Tempered in fire, hardened by magma, perfected in his own inner inferno, his mind was an inviolable palace, and he slowly pushed back against the Queen, reaching out with his powers to set her aflame. The Queen, in response, howled to summon more of the wraith, and also unleashed a caged giant gorilla. Upon seeing it, Sophie was filled with dread – was it the fearsome Molonkey?
Just then, Ryana, Gwen, and Ralph arrived. They flew into the melee, just as the giant ape unleashed its terrible powers. Spinning like a top and striking everything in range, it accidentally knocked out several Wraith leaders, but also struck Jessica and Sophie so hard, that they were thrown off their feet and rendered unconscious. Gwen avoided the attack, however barely, and delivered an uppercut to the ape that left it reeling.
As Gehenna overpowered the Queen, Gwen threw Jessica’s sword through the ape’s chest, killing it gruesomely. The Wraith Queen, with her dying words, said that many more of her kind would come crawling from the depths of the Earth, for they were an old race, much older than anyone had thought. For now, however, the Wraith fell dormant, powerless without a Queen or leader to command them.
The heroes freed Bathilda, only to instantly learn the nature of her powers. As soon as she touched Jessica, she absorbed her Esper powers, snuffing them out like a candle. Gehenna intervened in time, stopping her from breaking Jessica’s power. Studying her Magi, he learned that this girl was beyond what anyone could have expected – a human with the innate power to steal an Esper’s power, perhaps for good. She had been born with exactly the power that Siegg had sought to obtain for years. Perhaps he had misread the portents, and taken Gwen instead of her sister – if so, that was very lucky for the world. Nonetheless, this seventeen-year old girl posed a very real danger.
It was resolved to return her to Pandemonium at once. With such power, she could save the world… or doom it. Before they left, Gwen said farewell to her mother, who was dying… and with her last breath, made Gwen promise to protect her sister.
Odine hurried to meet them in Pandemonium. He and his father took Bathilda aside, to study her under the heroes’ supervision. Consent among the Espers was to kill her. Odine explained, that unless she could learn to control her powers, she would be a huge danger – and even if she did, such power was still greater than any might a human had ever possessed. Gwen tried to hold her hand, but in doing so, they nearly destroyed Pandemonium, for neither Gwen nor Bathilda could control the immense power they wielded.
Learning this, Gwen stole Odin’s spear, and turned it upon her sister, ready to kill her. Bathilda swore, then, that she would fight to protect the world – that she would never let the power control her.
Reluctantly, Gwendolen spared her life – recalling Siren’s vision of the young Alexius, but also the promise she’d made to her mother. Perhaps it had been the wrong choice, but for now, she declared, the girl must live. That was that. It was decided she’d be kept in Pandemonium, so that Siegg could never lay his hands upon her. When he was dead, perhaps she could become one of the Kardus.