She was back in Castle Bal. Castle Bal had no walls or ceilings today, but that was quite normal. "Is everything okay?" she asked one of the moogle soldiers. He saluted smartly with a kupo! in the affirmative. Krile nodded approval and headed up to the parapet. Lix the otter basked in the sun, but stood and turned smoothly into his rumple-shirted, brown-haired self.
"Are we ready to go?" he asked with that easy smile of his. He didn't see what was behind him: nothing. Krile opened her mouth to shout a warning, but he looked back before she was able. "Oh. Guess I'm not coming with you this time. You're on your own." With that same smile and words he'd never say, he was gone.
There was a low chuckle behind her. Krile whirled around. Masonry crashed and crumbled all around her, and Exdeath stepped out of the Tree. "Did you even think he was there in the first place, little girl?"
"Exdeath!" ...Okay, that wasn't the most intelligent remark. She pulled out a pack of matches. "Give up. I'm going to destroy your Void."
"Mwa-hahaha... and just how do you intend to do that? There isn't anything to destroy! Besides, aren't you worried about hurting your so-called friends?" He advanced, the colors of his armor shifting like an oil sheen on a puddle. "I have them all in here with me. Give up your pathetic fight if you ever want to see them again."
"No! You can't keep them in there forever. Even without my help, they can escape! Just like Nova!"
The sky had turned dark grey, without a hint of color. Somehow, despite the complete lack of facial features on his bullet-shaped helmet, Krile saw Exdeath smile. "I will take her again. Just like I took Lockon back. No matter how many times they may escape, I will take them all! You will be the only one left."
Krile lit one of the matches. The flame roared up towards the sky--to her relief, Exdeath seemed to waver and took a step back.
"And then you will step into the Void willingly." He laughed as he sank into the blackness, disappearing from sight entirely.
Krile felt coldness behind her. The ground had vanished, plunging away into nothing. Suddenly, she was standing on the only patch of grass still existing. There was no flickering purple edge around it, no faint sheen. It was a complete absence of anything.
"I won't," she said, and raised her voice. "I won't! I'll defeat you, Exdeath!"
And then suddenly the ground under her boots stopped existing, too. She yelped and grabbed onto a tree, the only thing still poking up out of the blackness. But she was already waist-deep in it and stuck fast. Not because it was sticky or rigid around her; she just knew with a strange certainty that if she tried to pull herself up, it wouldn't work. But as long as this tree was still here, she'd be okay. After all, there had to be something for it to grow out of.
"Hey." Krile turned her head to see a boy with scruffy blue hair and ponytail, sitting cross-legged with his chin propped on his hand. "Where did the castle go?"
"Tatsu!" She took one arm away from the tree to reach out to him, but latched on again when she fell deeper. "It's gone. I couldn't save it."
"It's probably somewhere in here." He sat up straight and looked down into the nothing underneath him. "We should go look for it."
"But..." She tried to tug herself a little higher. As she'd known, she couldn't. "How are you doing that? I can't get out!"
"Neither did I."
Then he wasn't there anymore. Krile swallowed. "This won't work. You're not going to win. I'm not going to give up." The tree grew a little higher, pulling her along with it. "You should run away, Exdeath! I'll make you run!"
His laughter rang out again. Then a figure walked towards her, armored in black from head to toe with spikes standing out from every joint. Krile fumbled for the pack of matches again. "I know what you are. You're Paladin's evil twin. You won't get me this time!" She struck one against the tree and held it out towards him, trying to ignore the scream as the fire raced through every fissure in his armor. It was just a fake thing that Exdeath had made, not Paladin at all.
The armor fell into pieces as the match went out. Now only her feet were still trapped in the blackness. "I told you, Exdeath. You weren't going to get me with that."
"Mwa-hahaha... but I will get you with this!" He was right on her other side now, swinging that ugly blade through her and the tree. It fell in two pieces, but she somehow didn't. He laughed again as Krile clutched her middle. If she could just hold herself together, it'd be okay. But she could feel ice cold spreading through her. Carefully, hoping she wouldn't fall apart, she lit the last match and held it steady as everything blurred into grey.