Annette was now listening intently, waiting for her demands to be given to her. She was beginning to get a little impatient.
With a strange, swaying grace, Regina approached the doors next to them, and pressed her hand against one of them.
“Seriously, though, what do I got to do-” But she was then cut off.
“Behind these doors lie a series of twelve. Each one has experienced the torments of Malum in life. Now, they wait for one to awaken them once more.”
Regina then turned back to look at Annette. “Each one is bound to their vessel in life, which is how they are able to remain in this realm.
“Some were unable to return to their original vessel, for reasons known only to Meliora. In response, she brought forth ‘replacements’ for them to be bound to.”
“Replacements? So like temporary bodies?” To Annette’s question, Regina nodded. “So then what do I have to do to wake them up? Air horn? Blown up paper bag?”
These questions looked to amuse Regina. Her expression then became serious again.
“What you must do is enter each room in order. Once in a room, you will witness the pain of the one within.”
“The pain caused by Malum,” Annette said to be sure.
Regina nodded again. “When you return to this realm, then they will appear. You then must say this phrase to them…”
She stepped back and put her hand on Annette’s face again. “Listen carefully. I am only allowed to say it once.”
Annette gave a nod to give Regina the go ahead to say it.
“The phrase is: ‘You know her sins. Now give your verdict.‘ When the verdict is cast…” Then she paused to gesture to the pedestals surrounding them. “A figure to represent them will appear here.”
“So that’s all I have to do, huh. I do all that, and I get to go home?”
Now Annette saw a grim expression on her face. “If you hurry, then yes. If all twelve jurors cast their verdict, Meliora will emerge the victor.”
“And what happens if I don’t get all the jurors? Can I still go home if that happens?” This time, Regina shook her head.
“I am afraid not. If the twelve jurors are not awakened in time, Malum will be the victor. And all the known cosmos will be plunged into darkness and chaos. All known life will be obliterated.
“Or, if you wish to have a modern interpretation…You’re fucked.”
Annette could now feel the responsibility bearing down on her shoulders. Biting her lip, she tried to find the right words to say next.
“All right. Wake the jurors up, or die trying. Got it. But where’re your kids during all this? You keep mentioning victory or something like that.”
Regina didn’t hesitate to tell her. “As all of this is happening, elsewhere, my daughters will be locked in a destined clash for control. The one that emerges will become the new Queen.
“Do you understand now, your role in determining the future?”
“I guess,” was all that Annette could say now.
Now Regina smiled, and nodded. “Go then. Begin the process of awakening the jurors. Give Meliora the upper hand in her imminent battle.”
With this prompt, Annette stepped to the doors, which opened for her as if by magic. After a few wary and cautious small steps, she then ran in. The moment she did, the doors then closed behind her.
Looking back to them, Annette then closed her eyes.
“Bye, Regina,” she whispered sadly. Then she looked at the ceiling and said, “Try not to die before I’m done, okay, Mel?”
After what seemed like an eternity, both sisters had ascended their respective staircases, and reached the platform. When the two stood opposite each other, it was quiet.
Then, Malum gave a laugh, as though she thought all of this was funny. She then yanked off the bandages covering her eye sockets. In the sockets now were a new set of red eyes. When she did this, she flashed Meliora a sinister grin.
“Long time no see, sis,” she said to her.
Meliora just rolled her own eyes, before making the hand signs for “Likewise.”
The two then began to circle about the platform, not once taking their eyes off each other, like two ferocious tigers ready to strike.
Without looking down, Malum pulled out her hunting knife from its sheath, and took a stance.
“You really think Omniscience can trump Omnipotence? Just ’cause you know everything, you think you can do anything?”
Not being deterred by her sister’s taunts for an instant, Meliora then closed her eyes, and willed her own weapon into existence. Once it materialized, she held it up and gazed upon it after she opened her eyes.
“Oh, real nice, sis! Going to rely on a backwards alien race to lend you weaponry? In spite of that Omniscience of yours, you’re really fucking stupid. Think you can take me with that flimsy piece of metal?”
Once more, Meliora didn’t let the insults get to her. She just took her own stance, brandishing her sword in an attack pose. She then let out her free hand, and made a hand gesture that clearly indicated what she wanted to say now: