“W-why are you here?” asked Zack, startled.
Sawyer stood far from him, leaning against a wall. "It seems like you were led here as well. I don't know why either. But I can guess.”
“Huh? You're not the one who brought me here? I'm not kidnapped?”
Sawyer glared at him. “You're wearing Galadhar's uniform. If we aren't astral beings in Gladiators, then we're both in the virtual world of Gladiators. I'm not the one who brought you here. And yet, if this is the virtual world – either there's a bug that prevents our weapons from appearing, or they've been taken away from us.” Sawyer raised his hand and brushed against the air over his shoulder, where an empty sheath was strapped to his back.
Zack went for Galadhar, and found the sword missing, save the sheath.
“Eh? Where . . . ? So – we're just . . . what did you say we are?”
No answer. It seemed that after he'd spoken, he'd lost interest in Zack, even though Zack called to him.
Then Zack frowned.
“Say, if I'm wearing Galadhar's ensemble – that's Dragos' ensemble that you're wearing, right?” said Zack, frowning at Sawyer.
That seemed to surprise Sawyer; if anything, it seemed more like Sawyer brought the clothes he'd been wearing outside of the virtual world in. Except that the left sleeve of the red coat's sleeves was torn off, and there was a gold band on that arm's wrist.
Well, he didn't reply anyway.
“So what are we here for?” Zack asked.
Silence again, and Zack finally got it to his head that Sawyer would just ignore him, and sat down on the steps, staring around the hall
Everywhere was marble: the pillars, the walls, all as if carved carefully. Like the throne seat placed on a dias right behind him on the steps. Zack thought about sitting down on that throne seat, until he ran into a transparent barrier that showed up in a three-feet radius around it that blocked him front touching it.
When Zack was about to sit down again on the steps after giving up on the throne, a door creaked open from one of the marble walls, into a dark passage.
Sawyer straightened and walked straight towards the dark doorway without answering again.
Zack sprang up and followed. “Wait! Where's that door going?”
“The final Core Gladiator,” said Sawyer. “It seems like he's decided to reveal himself.”
“The – Whisperer?” said Zack, as they passed into the dark passage. “That person's gonna communicate with us?”
Sawyer didn't reply.
“Don't just pick which questions you want to answer, dimwit!” Zack cussed.
Sawyer didn't reply again.
“And all previous Whisperers were girls, too!”
So much for trying to annoy the Dragon Knight, Zack thought.
There was a light at the end of the tunnel, and Zack froze, seeing it.
The light, though seemed to have made Sawyer speed up.
“Ah – wait!” Zack hurried after him.
Sawyer froze the second he came out into the light, and when Zack caught up, he froze, too.
They were in a second hall.
What they saw before their eyes made them catch their breath in shock.
They were standing at a large stone doorway, with steps leading downwards from there , and with more carefully carved stone archways and a high ceiling where three beasts were carved in, hanging from that ceiling: a phoenix, a gryphon, and a dragon, all apearing to carry the ceiling above them, although they really weren't. The steps led down to a path with no railing suspended over nothing, and ended at a large pedestal on where an orb of blue light pulsed and throbbed like a heart.
They slowly approached the blue light, mesmerized by the warmths of the Core, and stopped, watching it throb like a heart.
“Nice to know that neither of you put up a fight,” said a voice, and a shadow appeared in the orb.