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Project 132

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Project 132 (beta) is an unfinished, cancelled story by Tabuu, and is yet another reboot of the (in)famous 132 Series. It, like Project Aviate, has its basis in many of Tabuu's older stories and plot elements, but does not take place in a world related to Users or Wikis, despite the fact that it includes many of the former as characters. It is a reboot of The Resolutions of 132 and Typical Tragedy.

The story takes place in the world of Trine, which has two moons- Sol and Lum- and is divided into colonies, numbered 1 through 132. A vast majority of the planet is ocean, minus a massive supercontinent called Meiro, which takes the shape of a circular snake symbol about to bite its own tail. While Users and Wikis aren't an aspect in this story, people are born with one of nine elemental affinities and the story takes place in a world independent of Userpedia.


- Part 1: Rise of the Howling Fang

Let's get started, shall we?



...but before we begin, a question...



The human body contains reserves of vast amounts of inaccessible potential energy.

The average male, in fact, contains the equivalent of two atomic bombs. This energy, if spread properly, could destroy about one one hundredth of the planet’s surface. Seventy percent of your Earth’s surface is water- the remaining thirty contains around seven billion people. This begs the question:

If that kind of energy were to be released on land, how many people would die?

More importantly...

What would happen if every human had access to it?

You're about to find out.
Jim Guthrie - Lone Star

“Kat...Kat, Jesus Christ, this hurts...”

“Calm down...calm down, it’ll just be another moment...”

A blood-curdling scream pierced my ears. It took a moment for me to realize that it was my own. Slowly, but surely, it died down.

I rest my head against the cement and gave a shuddering exhale of breath I didn’t know I was holding.

On the pavement to my left was a long, curved black horn that, moments before, had been buried within my body. It was eleven inches long.

My shirt was split open and my body, similarly so- however, Kat was about to fix that.

I met her eyes and she gave a reassuring nod.

Heal.” she muttered.

I bit my lip and inhaled, feeling my body start to be fixed by her spell. The lost blood was regenerated, the flesh stitched itself back together, the bones reformed, and, just moments after she had said the word, it was back to normal. A dull ache reminded me of what had been reality moments before. Well, that, and the fact that my blood was, well, everywhere.

I pushed myself into a sitting position on the sidewalk and sighed.

Katryna shook her head. “You know,” she said, “You have got to stop doing that.”

I gave a smirk. “Me? Restraint? How long have we known each other, again?”

“Too long for me to still have to tell you not to go out and try to fight trolls before your abilities have been unlocked.”

“I think I’m pretty good with a sword.”

“You stabbed it in the eye, Chris.”

“Yet again, I think that takes skill.”

“After it gored you with its horn.”

Skill.

She gave a little laugh at that, and I laughed with her. “It’s a good thing you always have my back, Doc,” I said, looking at her with a smile, “I’d probably be dead twenty times over if it wasn’t for you.”

Her smile faded at that.

I realized what I had said.

“I’m, uh-”

“It’s okay.” She cut me off. Her black hair blocked her face for a moment. I found that annoying.

“You sure?”

“Yes.” She stood to her full height, and brushed off her knees. “Need me to help you up?” she offered.

“I can walk.” I stated proudly, pulling myself up, stumbling a few steps and then face-planting into the sidewalk.

She sighed.



After being walked home- with much reluctance from me, of course- I limped into my apartment and eased myself into my chair at my desk.

Triple monitor setup. My pride and joy.

I booted into Windows and opened Google Chrome.

My home page- Meironet- opened.

I hit a quick key combination and opened another window- in an IRC room.

You are now talking in #meironetchannel132 on irc.darkmyst.org
<Tabuu> Anybody here?
<YE> i am.
<Tabuu> Shit, YE, you won’t believe what happened earlier.
<Tabuu> Actually, you probably will.
<Tabuu> It, uh, keeps happening.
<YE> i told you about trolls, man.
<Tabuu> Indeed. You did warn me.
<Tabuu> As always, Kat was nearby to save my ass.
<Tabuu> She’s a bit too good at that, unfortunately.
<Tabuu> Well, I mean, it’s good that she keeps saving me
<Tabuu> because I think living is a pretty nice thing to do
<Tabuu> But I wish she didn’t have to do it all the time. I’m seventeen, goddammit- when’re my powers going to awaken?
<YE> hopefully soon. you really shouldn’t be going out there without a means to protect yourself, bro. well, besides kat. but she can only do so much.
<Tabuu> Hey, I stabbed that fucker right in the eye.
<Tabuu> Do you know how fucking metal that is?
<YE> i have the strangest boner.
<Tabuu> I would too, but the throbbing pain all over my body is kind of an anti-arousal mechanism.
<Tabuu> Hehe. Throbbing.
<YE> ha.
<Katryna> ahem
<Tabuu> Oh.
<Tabuu> Hi Kat!
<YE> heya kat.
<Katryna> hellos
<Katryna> howre you doing today, YE? :O
<YE> swimmingly, thank you.
<YE> oh, and i wanna thank you for saving him again, too.
<Tabuu> I hate you guys.
<Katryna> :(
<Tabuu> Didn’t mean it!
<YE> you heartless bastard.
<Tabuu> You know I love you guys.
<Katryna> really? ;o
You have left #meironetchannel132 (Exit: fdjkhfdasfdsa)

I sighed.

Nerves. Calm.

I’m not going to lie to you, I’m kind of a shy person.

Well, I’m also aggressively flirtatious?

It’s...it’s complicated.

Anyways, yeah.

My name is Christopher Lockheart.

Back then, I was just a teenager living by himself in the big, bad world.

Unlike most other people my age, I didn’t have my powers yet.

I was mind-numbingly ordinary in a world full of extraordinary people.

I live on planet Trine, in Colony 132.

Yeah, it’s a little different around here compared to what you guys deal with. There’s a lot of similarities, though- my browser should be a giveaway for that. Like yours, a great portion of our planet is covered by the ocean, and the sole continent- supercontinent- is named Meiro.

From space, Meiro looks like a massive snake almost biting its own tail. The water in the center is considered "safe"- outside of the range of Meiro's outer shores, though, monsters abound.

And in Meiro, our story begins.


Chapter One

Lone Star



For Katryna Michelle, life was pretty ordinary.

Uh, not my kind of ordinary. Her kind.

Like me, she was seventeen years old, and she spent her time pursuing a medical career at Colony 132’s University. That has different connotations here than it does in your world- while, yes, she is studying to be a doctor, we have magic here that can literally put people back together. You saw her use it on me.

Therefore, it’s a lot harder to kill people- assuming they know the techniques to heal themselves or someone around knows how to heal them, that is.

Unfortunately, medical science is ridiculously complicated no matter what shard of the multiverse you reside in, and healers still have to be extremely precise. While healing magic is just...healing magic, different people have different energy signatures, kind of like how everyone has different fingerprints and DNA.

A healer must first detect that signature, and they have to manipulate the magic until it perfectly matches the recipient’s signature for the healing process to take place.

We still have some diseases running around, too- and, as you may be able to predict, ours are pretty hardcore. Fortunately, medical research isn’t a thing we neglect.

That’s another thing Kat works on. I would tell you some more about it, but I’m not as smart as she is. It’s really complicated stuff.

So, anyways, Katryna and I are pretty good friends. She’s one of two people I call my best friends, actually, and whenever I’m not getting my ass kicked by trolls, we like to hang out and listen to music and play games and stuff. She’s one of those people that seem to literally brighten up rooms when they enter- cheerful to the point of being contagious and really, really compassionate.

And speaking of brightening up rooms...

Well, her powers. They manifest in this staff with a ruby embedded at the end- and, well, she can conjure and control fire.

She awakened her powers when she was eleven years old. The range for people’s powers to awaken is from ages ten to seventeen- so in other words, you have an eight year period for them to emerge, and if they haven’t come around by your eighteenth birthday, then you’re going to be powerless for the rest of your life. Most people awaken theirs early. Others take a while longer.

And some people...well, they never awaken them at all.

It is said that in a time before we wandered the continent, our common ancestor, a man named Maximilian Cynd, made a deal with a great white snake, Meiro. Meiro had apparently created the planet of Trine, and he had assistance from other great beasts who wandered the globe.

Meiro was the strongest of them all, though- he could control the very fabric of space and time, and he was a proficient user of all of the elements of creation.

Maximilian Cynd was one of these creations, the perfect human being.

He was immortal, the legends say, and from the moment he was born, he carried a power so immense that it was said that if it were released, he could destroy the entirety of Trine in one fell swoop. Maximilian was lonely, though.

He asked Meiro to create a partner for him, and the great snake obliged- under a certain condition.

Maximilian was to give his partner half of his power- half of his soul- and while he did have reservations against weakening himself, he thought it better that he be weaker and loved than powerful and alone. The woman- Melinda Cynd- was created.

After a few years, Maximilian and Melinda sought to reproduce- Maximilian, however, did not wish to weaken himself or his wife further. So he asked Meiro to make it so that his children, his children’s children, and all their descendants would have dormant powers of their own that they would have to awaken.

Meiro agreed, but he said that there was a catch:

Residual energy left by the dead would create trolls- mindless monsters that would have to be defeated for the cycle of power to continue properly. Failure to eliminate the trolls would result in both the deaths of many innocent victims in the present and the weakening of the next generation- for if that troll’s power does not return to the planet, it will not be able to power the spell that allows for people to awaken their powers.

Because of that, they say, there are still some unlucky people whose powers remain dormant through no fault of their own.

There are very strong and very elusive trolls that wander the land, taking in more residual energy as they go and, therefore, making the amount of people that’re born without the spell powerless increase.

Trolls are not the only creatures beside humans that wander Trine, of course. We have our fair share of sea creatures, reptiles, mammals...also, we have gargantuan sea serpents and krakens and...

I’m not going to lie, if one of your fantasy authors came here, they’d die of pleasure.

One of the quickest differences you’ll notice, however, is in our skies. We have two moons- smaller than yours, but they do their jobs- and I reckon we’re about the same distance from our sun that you are from yours.

However, when you look into our skies at night, you won’t see any stars.

We’ve used telescopes and satellites and we still can’t find any.

Trine is just a planet in a galaxy in a distant universe, rotating around a lone star.

Back to chapter select.

Practice proper hygiene after a night of depravity.
Neutrino - Tooth Paste

After exiting the chatroom- which had been on my left monitor- I turned my attention to the browser window open on the center. A blank Google Docs page beckoned my attention, black cursor flashing against the white. I hit F11, fullscreening the application and taking a glance at the upper-left corner of the screen.

Journal, the title read.

I sighed. How come I let Kat talk me into everything? Granted, I have been procrastinating for some time...

I typed the date in bold at the top of the page- March 1st, the day before my eighteenth birthday- hit enter twice, and began to type.


Chapter Two

Tooth Paste



My alarm clock’s screeching, however familiar, still only served to irritate me on that horrible Saturday morning. I was half-naked, dirty and covered in a sheen of sweat.

What’s new? I thought, pushing my blanket off and setting my feet on the floor. I took a look at the bed behind me. Nobody here. Good. I always hate the morning after.

I stepped over a spilled can of beer and made my way into the kitchen. Since I turned twelve, I’ve always thrown parties on the last day of February- the 28th, usually. However, if it was a leap year, I’d let the party continue for the duration of the 29th, because what better way to celebrate? I loved parties, drowning in a haze of hedonism and depravity. I love February for that reason, I decided, sipping from an open can of soda beside my sink and promptly spraying soda-soaked cigarette ash into the sink.

I don’t really love the people I party with, though.

After dragging myself through my morning routine, I stepped outside and descended the stairway in a black jacket with a white scythe insignia on the back, yellow-tinted aviator shades, a black T-shirt with a green SBURB logo and one of four pairs of identical blue jeans I owned. Granted, “blue” was a kind way to refer to their color.

I took a short walk to a nearby bus stop and sat at the bench, pulling out my phone and sending a text to Kat in a few swipes of my thumb.

Can I come over?

A vibration later and I got my response.

In school today, sorry
later, okays?

I shrugged and sent a second message- to my other best friend, Tucker Lane.

Bro. Is it ready?

Vibration.

you know it B|

I smirked.



Tucker opened his front door, giving a familiar grin upon seeing me. Tucker was a tall, skinny guy with long blonde hair, a lean frame, and a kind smile. Like me, he was fond of shades, except his pair were a traditional, rectangular black set of lenses. More important than his appearance, however, was that he was my friend.

We shook hands and I entered his house.

“Parents?” I asked, stepping across the carpet of his living room and rubbing my hand on the surface of the head of his couch.

“Visiting Colony 22.”

“Ah,” I said, “Figures. Your hot mom buy me any milk before she left?” I opened his fridge and looked inside.

He sighed. “Yes, she did. Please stop calling her that. Happy birthday.”

“Not yet.” I grabbed a gallon container and casually started to drink it.

“Sword?”

He grinned. “Yeah, I finished it. Made it just for you.”

He beckoned for me to follow him into his backyard and I did so, chugging at my milk as I walked.

“Is this almond milk? Tastes better than usual.” We stepped outside and he opened his shed.

He shook his head, turned, and tossed something at me. I caught it.

Katana with a black handle and black scabbard. I unsheathed it a few inches. White blade.

“Literally unbreakable,” Tucker said, “Tectonic plates will shatter before that blade even wobbles.”

“How sharp?”

“Swing it fast enough and you’ll break the sound barrier.”

I smirked. “I’ve been working out lately. I’ll take it.”

He smiled. “Once again. Happy birthday, bro.”

“Tomorrow,” I corrected, “Not today.”

“Think your powers will complement your cool, new sword?”

We walked back inside and crashed onto his couch grasping game controllers before I responded.

“Yeah,” I said, “It’ll be cool as shit.”



“Kat, where are you? I swear, one of these dudes looks like he wants to pick me apart on an operating table.” I held my phone to the left side of my face at Colony 132’s University, stepping through the departing crowd in the courtyard, searching for my friend.

“Over here.” Katryna crashed into my left side and I barely stopped myself from falling, making a weird quick-step motion to stay on my feet. I hung up my phone and grinned.

“Hey.” I said, giving her a look-over, “What happened to that pimping white coat you had yesterday?”

“I’m not supposed to wear it in public.”

“Nonsense,” I declared, “You’re a doctor everywhere!”

“Not yet,” she wagged a finger, “Happy birthday, by the way.”

“Not yet,” I echoed, “See what I did there?”

She rolled her eyes and I grinned.

We started to walk. “Can you tell your dad to pick me something up?” I asked, taking a final swig from my milk container and tossing it in a nearby trashcan, “I’ll pay him back.”

“Maybe.” she said in that special way girls do when they mean “no”.

“Wanna come hang out and play games or somethin’?” I offered, “Tuck sucks at Tekken.”

She shook her head lightly. “Tired. Just want to get home.”

I gave a frown at that.

“I’ll be on Steam later.” she assured.

I shrugged. “Alright.”

Our walk continued into the lonely suburbs.

We didn’t feel the need to talk all the time. Sometimes it was just good to keep somebody company. About a block away from her house, I was about to tell her about my insecurities concerning my powers’ failure to emerge, but I was interrupted by a deafening roar. Kat froze when she saw the murderous grin on my face.

“Oh fuck yes...” I muttered, grabbing the handle of my sword and looking over my shoulder. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kat give a twitch at my language.

From a puddle of darkness spawned a hulking beast with a body composed of dark energy and bright red eyes. It had the head of a bull, but with massive tusks and the bodily structure of an ape. I held my hand out before Kat could conjure her staff.

“This one’s mine.” I declared, slowly unsheathing my sword and stepping into the street.

“Chris-”

Mine.” I repeated firmly.

The troll’s head turned towards me. His initial expression was one of blank confusion, but when I pointed my sword at him, he got the idea. The monster’s face twisted into fury as he charged at me. I waited until it was close and jumped to the right, slashing open his side and doing a dodge roll to evade the retaliatory swing of his arm he made as he changed direction. When on my feet once more, I held my sword horizontally over my head to block a downward swing from the beast, which, due to my timing, deflected his fist and made him stumble backwards.

I dealt a vicious blow to his chest and leaped backward to dodge a kick he made for me.

He remained still as I increased the distance between us, carefully stepping backward until there was about a full yard between me and him.

He slammed his fists to the cement and got onto all fours, beginning to huff and snort with rage.

I beckoned him to attack me. Bring it, I mouthed.

In the next five seconds, I found the beast’s tusk stabbed through my chest and the troll found my sword through his eye socket and his skull.

In the next ten, the tusk broke off inside me and the troll dissolved into residual energy.

In the next fifteen, I began to scream for Kat’s help.

In the next sixteen, she came, and you know what happened next.



I finished typing the events of the day and gave a sigh.

Ten o’clock at night.

Two hours or I die with no powers.

...wow, shitty rhyme.

At 10:30, I was powerless.

At 10:45, I remained so.

At 11, I got hungry and called a Chinese takeout place. I got into a heated argument with the chick who picked up the phone, since they apparently don’t deliver after 10.

At 11:30, I ate a bag of popcorn. It was good.

At 11:40, I looked at Internet porn and made myself sad.

At 11:50, I gave a sad sigh.

At 11:59, I realized that I would be powerless for the rest of my life.

On my eighteenth birthday, nothing changed.

Back to chapter select.

Star-soaked waterfall.
Hilary Troiano - Ace of Trump

Not immediately, anyways.

Powerless for the rest of my fucking life, huh?

At the bus stop the next morning, I laughed. It was loud, dry and bitter, devoid of mirth.

It’s the kind of thing you think would never happen to you. Like death. Except it’s nearly statistically impossible for it to happen. Less than point zero zero zero zero zero zero zero zero one percent. But of fucking course, if it was going to happen to anybody, it was going to happen to me. How did I see this coming? What was it that gave it away? The spots of missing time I’ve had all my life? The fact I have two close friends? Crippling emotional disorders? That I live alone? That I barely finished High School?

Why me!?” I shouted.

“Who knows?” asked a familiar voice.

I fell silent.

Standing beside the bench was a tall, lean man with short-cut blonde hair, light skin, blue eyes and a black guitar case on his back. Wordlessly, Patrick Lockheart sat on the bench beside me. My adoptive brother. He was renowned as a prodigy all over the world- one of the most powerful people in recent history, a magnificent musician, a philanthropist, a healer, and a nomad. He paid for my apartment and everything I owned. If not for him, I’d be dead or in an orphanage.

“Hey bro, what brings you here?” I asked, turning towards him.

“You may currently be thinking of this as the worst day of your life, but I’m here to witness the day my lil’ bro became a man.” He pat my back, “It’s your eighteenth, man. Beginning of the rest of your life.”

I sighed, putting my head in my hands. “I know, it’s just...I always wanted to be strong. Like you.”

“You are strong, dude. Maybe not in the ways you’d want, exactly, but where it counts. You have a good heart.”

I gave a laugh at that. “Really? The ‘good heart’ bullshit? Dude, I’m an asshole. Like. Hardcore asshole. My dickery knows no bounds.”

He sighed. “You’re not as bad as you try to say you are.”

“What do you think I did the night before last?”

“...Do I want to know?”

Do you?

“...Point taken. Still, beneath all that, you’re a good guy. I know that.”

I sighed. “If you say so. I just...don’t know what to do now, I guess. I can’t protect people like this. Everyone’s stronger than me.”

He shrugged. “You’re resourceful. I know you’ll figure something out.”

“No ideas?”

“I’m afraid not.” He stood from the bench and turned his back. “You’ll have to figure out the answers on your own.”

And just as soon as he came, he walked right back out of my life.


Chapter Three

The Ace



“Bro. You gonna be alright?”

I blinked twice. Tucker and I were in a restaurant, sitting at a table with a grill between us.

Hibachi grill. Japanese steakhouse. Only one in town.

Fuck,” I groaned, “It happened again. What did I do this time?”

“Another memory blank? Shit, dude.”

“What did I do?” I repeated.

“You, uh...kind of hit on everyone. Me, Kat, her dad...”

I covered my face. “Jesus Christ. How was this not a giveaway?”

“Other than chronically hitting on people, you act exactly the same as always during your blank spots, man. You made a pretty rad dick joke, too.”

“I’ll tell you what else is pretty ra-”

There was a loud ahem from the cook who had came to the grill to cook for us.

I gave the cook a sweet smile and turned back to Tucker, mouthing “It’s my penis” across the grill.

Tucker gave me a thumbs up as the grill started.



After we left the steakhouse, we took a walk beside the river that cut through town.

“Wanna check out the waterfall?” Tucker offered, “It looks really cool at night.”

I shrugged. “Sure.” I said.

We kept walking. “Hey bro,” I asked, “Do you think you could use your powers to make me some more cool shit?”

He shrugged. “For one, those aren’t my powers. Mine manifest as an extending, electric cutlass, remember?”

“Cue all the dick jokes in the world.”

He smirked.

“You’re, like, the best craftsman I’ve ever met, though.” I stared directly into his eyes, “I mean that. Seriously.”

“You’re flattering me.” he muttered sarcastically, “Unbreakable swords are so easy to come by.”

We made it outside of town, through a thicket of trees, and to the end of the river. The night sky was splayed in front of us, two bright, white moons illuminating the starless sky. The river ended beside us, falling to the surface of Meiro thousands of feet beneath our feet.

The waterfall descended from the floating island carrying Colony 132 and went directly to the portion of the ocean that was almost completely wrapped around by Meiro’s main continent. In the daytime, the view was incredible.

At night, it was serene. The moons reflected from the water like the starlight we had only seen in your memories, or in movies or video games. No matter how many times you saw the view, it never stopped being amazing.

I exhaled a breath I didn’t realize I had been holding.

“Whoa.” I said.

“It is a nice view, isn’t it?” said a cold, unfamiliar voice.

I sharply turned to the source. It was a man who looked about my age, slightly taller than me, with bleached white hair, bright red irises with black eye whites, and skin as dark as the night around us. He wore long, black robes and had his hands in his pockets, with a celestial blue scythe on his back. He gave a smirk, flashing a set of sharpened teeth, like those of a shark.

Tucker was the first to speak up. “Who the hell are you!?” he demanded, conjuring his cutlass. I unsheathed my sword and prepared it, holding it out at the stranger.

“My name is Nalia Hector Cynd,” the stranger said, grabbing his scythe, “Great grandson of Maximilian Cynd and heir to the throne of Colony 1’s Cynd Royal Family.” He held his scythe at his side and stared directly into my eyes.

“I’m here for you.” he said.

Back to chapter select.

Rise like the golden fang.
Billy Idol - Rebel Yell

“...Me?” I blinked, “Why?”

“Simple,” Nalia said, grasping his scythe with both hands, “I’m here to take you into custody. You are now a prisoner of the Cynd Royal Family.”


Chapter Four

In The Midnight Hour



“Under what charges!?” Tucker demanded, “He has a right to a trial!”

Nalia gave a frightening smile. “Basic human rights are for humans, you know,” he said, stepping forward, “If you stand in my way, I’ll cut you down.”

For humans?

“What the hell is that supposed to mean!?” I demanded, “I have rights!”

“Not anymore.” Nalia said, coldly.

I gave a roar and charged at Nalia, swinging my sword at his midsection and...

I missed?

“Nice try,” Nalia said from behind me, “But I’m afraid killing me isn’t that easy.” He grabbed the back of my jacket and with a single throw, sent me flying off the edge of Colony 132.

Colony 132 is a small town with a surrounding forest resting upon an island floating several thousand feet above Meiro’s Grand Diamond Lake. While from space, the supercontinent looks like a thick snake in a circle about to bite its own tail, the fact is that the body of water in the center is a lake independent of the salty ocean where the sea serpents reside.

At some point the continent did not look like a snake at all. Beneath the lake is a valley, and in that valley is a sunken city- Blusk, or, as it would later be called, Colony 0. The Colonies are given their number based on when they’re founded, with Colony 132 being the most recent. Colony 0 was abandoned when the water from our waterfall began to flood the valley. The water in the river contains special properties- it’s pure, and it purifies everything it touches. Polluting it is, in fact, impossible.

When the water flooded the city at the bottom of the valley, it crystallized. Nobody knows why or how, but the city remains frozen to this day and mostly forgotten. Rumors exist of powerful artifacts left in the frozen city, but they hold no merit- and even if they did, the ice, like a grand diamond, cannot be broken. Hence the name.

All of these thoughts ran through my head in the instant I plummeted over the waterfall.

I am going to die, I realized, On my eighteenth birthday, while my best friend watches, while I plummet from the sky and join Colony 0 in its resting place. My brother will mourn, Kat will wonder why, and Tuck will blame himself for not being able to protect me.

Still falling, I thought, I don’t want to die.

After a moment of lightheadedness, I felt a surge of power. I’m not going to die. Not tonight.

A warm energy covered my person, gold with streaks of red, empowering me. I knew in my heart that I could only use this energy once, and I straightened myself in midair, my feet facing the Lake coming into view below. I grasped my sword tightly and directed the energy to my feet, releasing it in its entirety and blasting skyward, rising over the ledge I had fallen from and landing in front of Nalia, slashing my sword downward as I fell and clashing with him once more.

“Sorry,” I growled, trying to push through his guard, “But I’m afraid killing me isn’t that easy, though I can’t fault you for lack of effort!” The surge of energy was gone, but I felt stronger than ever, on a crazy adrenaline high as I pulled back and slashed again, parrying with the scythe user.

Nalia grinned. “That’s what I’m talking about!” he laughed, “That’s the kind of power I’ve been waiting to see! Unlock it, mutt!”

Mutt?

“What-” I slashed at his left side, missed, “The hell-” I swung for his right side and he blocked, “Are you-” I hissed, “Talking about!?” I stabbed him through the chest and his red eyes widened in shock.

“Chris!” Tucker shouted, “What are you doing!?”

“Shut up, Lane!” I shouted back, kicking Nalia’s shin and forcing him to his knees, “Answer me!

Nalia laughed. “I have nothing to say to a peasan-”

I stabbed him through the neck. “Fine,” I growled, “Don’t say anything at all.” I grasped his hair tightly and let him suffocate on his blood before I pulled my sword out, letting his corpse drop to the ground. I gave a glance at a frightened Tucker Lane before washing Nalia’s blood off my sword in the river.

“D-dude...” Tuck stammered, “You just killed him!”

I shrugged, sheathing my blade and turning to my friend. “What does it matter? Motherfucker tried to kill me first. Self defense.” I stepped towards Tuck, “What’s your problem?”

“I...I’ve never seen you like this, man. You’re scaring me.”

I almost laughed, but the look of genuine terror on my friend’s face stopped me. “Alright, alright,” I said, “I’m sorry, I just...”

“Happen to be stupid enough to turn your back to a corpse?”

A celestial blue blade emerged from my chest and Nalia, completely unscathed, leaned over my shoulder. “I’m not that easy to kill,” he echoed, “Though I have to applaud your effort.”

“No!” Tucker screamed.

Nalia chuckled as I lost the strength to stand. He held me up with an arm around my neck, pressing up against me from behind. “Now,” he said, “Time for you to come with me. Ciao!

We were bathed in darkness and I lost consciousness.



<YE> stooben, I know you’re there
<YE> come on. man.
<YE> it’s about your brother.
<St00b> Huh?
<YE> he’s been captured by some guy
<YE> and he’s been hurt really bad
<YE> i don’t know who the guy is or where he went
<YE> but he said something about the Cynd Royal Family
<St00b> I see.
<YE> ...
<YE> aren’t you going to do something?
<St00b> I knew this day would be coming eventually.
<St00b> Don’t worry.
<St00b> He’ll be back.


Back to chapter select.

Break the chains of the locked heart.

Rise.

Green Day - Holiday

The day following my eighteenth birthday began with me waking up in an unfamiliar bedroom, shirtless, with my weapons and other personal possessions nowhere in sight and no idea how I had gotten there.

Or, in shorter terms, every other Sunday morning.

I clutched my head and sighed. Who knew there was an even less desirable circumstances to be waking up in an unfamiliar bedroom that didn’t involve drunken shenanigans the night before? No hangover, though, I noted, And it looks like I’ve been healed, too. That’s nice. I climbed out of the bed and looked around the large bedroom- the crystal chandelier hanging from the high ceiling, polished wood floor, ornate carpet, warm colors on the walls and on the expensive-looking cabinets, couches and other assorted pieces of furniture. To the right of the bed- and in front of me- was a large window with an entrance out to a balcony looking over a forest and Meiro’s Grand Diamond Lake.

A prisoner? I feel like he’s going to wine, dine and fuck me or something.

I paused at that thought.

That’d be fine, I guess.

Just as I finished that thought, a wooden door across from the foot of the bed opened. It was Nalia, still wearing his black robes and not naked. Am I moving too fast for him?

“Yo,” he said, “I just came by to check on you. You ready to talk to the King?”

“I’m not looking at your dick, man.” He’s going too fast for me.

He blinked his red eyes. “What? Get your ass up. Come on.”

He tossed me a white T-shirt and I put it on, standing from the bed and following him into the hallway. “So,” I asked, being careful to drag the red carpet with my feet as much as I could, “Where am I?”

“You’re in the Palace of Colony 1,” he stated, turning back to look at me, “Home of the Cynds and the King of the Colonies, Hector Maximilian Cynd. My father.”

“Wait, you’re a prince?

“I introduced myself as heir to the throne, didn’t I?” he sighed, turning his back, “How is this coming off as a surprise to you?”

“Oh, I wasn’t paying much attention until you said you wanted me.”

“...You and your friend took out your weapons and prepared to fight me.”

“I was looking at your body, not your mouth.”

“That’s...I’m not even going to comment. Just walk.”

The hallway was large, peppered with tons of paintings and other such expensive-looking things, including a vase I nearly knocked over with my elbow. “Hey,” I said, “How did you heal me? I feel great, but I’m not feeling any magical residue.”

“My blood.” he stated simply, turning a corner.

What?

“My blood,” he repeated, “Has healing properties. All Cynds have it. It can self-duplicate, regenerate lost flesh, repair broken bones, fix nervous system problems...a pint’s enough to make you a new man. You’re welcome.”

“So...I had a part of you inside me?”

“Just...please, shut up.”

I shrugged.

We entered a door at the end of the hallway and stepped into a throne room. It was wide and spacious, a red carpet leading to the King’s elevated throne, behind which was a large window directly overlooking the Great Lake, which was giving a brilliant blue shine from the rays of the sun. To our left and right were paintings- of Maximilian Cynd and of the following creatures: a great white snake, a black hawk, a flaming phoenix, a golden wolf, a skeletal octopus, and various other creatures I didn’t have the time to observe.

About fifteen feet from the throne, Nalia fell to his knee and bowed his head. I followed quickly.

Hector Maximilian Cynd, the third King of Meiro, sat in his throne, eyeing us with the same red eyes his son possessed. He wore an ornate white robe with golden overtones, with long, ebony hair draped over ivory skin, power seemingly radiating from his person. “Nalia,” he said, his voice surprisingly soft, “Who is this boy?”

I twitched at the comment. Come on, man, I just turned eighteen.

“I’m not sure yet, Father,” Nalia responded, “But he has come of age and he has not awakened his powers.” Nalia looked up at him, “However, I believe he may be a chimera.”

“I see,” Hector said, making eye contact with me, “What is your name?”

“Christopher Lockheart, sir.” I stammered, “My brother is Patrick Lockheart.”

“By blood?”

“Adopted.” I said.

“...I see. What do you know of your heritage?”

“I...nothing. My brother said he found me drifting in the Diamond Stream.”

Hector raised an eyebrow. “I see. Do you remember nothing about your parents?”

I shook my head. “Not a thing. My earliest memory is my brother teaching me to walk.”

The King stood. “Stay right there. I will return shortly.”

He walked out of my field of view. Chimera? What does that even mean?

King Hector returned, holding my sheathed sword and what looked like a snake’s fang, made of gold. A golden fang? I thought, watching as Hector sat back in his throne. He pulled the handle of my sword, exposing about an inch of the white blade beneath. He set the blade across his lap and the fang on the side of his throne, biting his thumb to draw blood and smearing it on the exposed blade. “A blade crafted from moonshard,” Hector said, “Wonderful craftsmanship.”

My sword took on the same hue of red as the King’s blood as he unsheathed it. The red moved to the very tip, however, dripping off the edge until there wasn’t a trace left. “Forged in the Diamond River, as well. Who made this blade for you?” the King asked.

“My best friend,” I said, “Tucker Lane.”

“He is a formidable swordsmith,” Hector Cynd said, “This blade is perfect. Be sure to thank him for it when you return home. Come here.”

I stood and approached his throne. Even though he was sitting down and I was standing at my full height, the top of my head barely reached his neck. “This blade,” Hector said, “Is only capable of taking in things that strengthen it. Moonshard and water from the Diamond River means that it also contains some other properties- it will recognize its owner if he wields it. Grab that sword.”

I obeyed.

At the base of the blade, where Hector had placed his blood, an emblem appeared. A blood-red heart with a padlock. Lockheart. My family crest.

How the hell?

Hector gave a smirk at my shocked expression, handing me the golden fang. “That blade is unbreakable,” he said, “But if you possess the power of a chimera, that should mean nothing to you. Take this canine and press it against that blood crest. If it merges with your blade, we will know your parentage.”

Uncertainly, I grabbed the fang- no, wait, it’s a canine- and pressed it against my sword.

Nothing happened.

“Well,” I said, “That was underwhelm-” WHAT THE FUCK

There was a searing pain all over my body and an explosion of energy from the deepest recesses of my heart, mind and soul. It was the same gold color as the golden fang in my hand- no, the fang was gone. Where did it go? The crest on my blade pulsed and my blade assumed the color of the energy pouring from my person and the fang- canine, whatever- that it had merged with. From the crest, a pattern looking like bloody chains wrapped itself around the blade, stopping at the golden tip. I stared at the blade in shock and Hector, with a grin.

“Look to your left,” he said, “At the painting of my grandfather and the great beasts on the wall.”

I sheathed my sword and stepped toward it, eyes transfixed on the golden wolf with bright red eyes, its teeth bared-

“The great beasts,” Hector explained, “With the great snake, Meiro, created the world you live in. Trolls don’t exist because of residual energy, nor do they stop humans from awakening their inner power. They are something different.”

“...What am I, then?” I muttered, placing my hand on the head of the wolf in the painting.

“Simple,” King Hector said, “You are a chimera. A child of one of the great beasts. You are the son of Cyria of the Golden Fang. The wolf.”

Back to chapter select.

There's no comfort in the truth.
Franz Ferdinand - Love And Destroy

“So this wolf...” I muttered, tracing my fingers across the painted wolf’s spine, “Is my father?”

“Yes,” Hector Cynd said, “All the great beasts have half-human children. Their power is dormant, but it reawakens in the hearts of their children. They themselves are hidden- they’ve been that way for centuries, and I’ve made no attempts to find them because...” he paused, a bitter look on his face, “They don’t want to be found.”

I paused. I glanced at Nalia, still on his knee, staring at the floor. There was a familiar pain in his visible eye- one that I was very familiar with- and I realized why it had been Nalia who had come to retrieve me. “Your son’s a chimera too, isn’t he?” I said, turning to Hector.

The King nodded. “Yes,” he said, “But he still has access to the abilities of the Cynd bloodline. He is the son of Taka, of the Red Claw. The great black hawk. I, however, knew Taka as a woman. A woman named Tamara Cynd.” The King’s youthful face sagged for a moment, and I could see depths of sadness in those eyes that went far, far beyond my years. “She would have been my Queen, but she left me after Nalia was born, leaving me a note explaining everything. She...she didn’t want to be found.”

With that, I felt a cold fury. “At least she gave you a fucking explanation,” I snarled, “She didn’t leave you to die in a fucking stream, did she!?” I advanced towards the King, who was sitting on his throne and looking up at me with shock, “What the fuck do you know about that!?”

“Plenty,” he said, unfazed, “My father tried to kill me.”

I stopped.

“It was over two hundred years ago,” he said, “He didn’t want to pass the throne to me because I was too weak. Too focused on a girl, not material for a soldier or a king. See, my father was the son of Maximilian Cynd, the first human being and our species’ common ancestor. Maximilian Cynd II, the only one worthy of my grandfather’s name. His mother was a woman named Melinda Cynd- and shortly after his birth, she disappeared. Care to guess why?”

“...He was a chimera, too!?”

He nodded. “Yes. The Cynds and the great beasts are of the same bloodline- its preservation is a priority to both parties. And you see, Melinda Cynd was the first woman. Not a human woman, not truly. Her true form was that of a great, white snake- her true name was Meiro, of the white mountains. Creator of the world of Trine.”

“...How many chimeras are there?”

“There have been plenty throughout the centuries,” Hector said, “You, however, are the first documented son of Cyria that I’ve seen. I used to think that he was too vain to settle for a human form...or perhaps that he despised humans and chimeras alike after what happened with my father and his followers.”

“What happened?” I asked, not sure if I wanted to know the answer.

“Maximilian Cynd II hated the great beasts and sought to hunt them down after my grandfather’s death. After Melinda left, my grandfather was overcome with such sorrow that he took his own life. My father loved his father dearly, and his death wasn’t something he found it easy to come to terms with. So he found a group to blame and he went rogue, trying to hunt them down.” The King paused, “He was sealed inside the city at the bottom of the valley, in Blusk, along with his followers. Water from the Diamond River falling from Colony 132 flooded the city, drowned them, then crystallized. The beasts used their combined power to do this- sealing him away after he made an attempt on my life. Their own power went dormant afterwards. His power, the combined powers of the first man and the creator of our world, still seeps through its seal. That is why there are trolls. They are created from the energy pressing through the seal, and they feed on residual energy. They are mindless, and they seem to be there just to spite us. I, however, suspect a more sinister reason.”

The King leaned back against his throne and sighed. “That is why I reward the citizens of Meiro for hunting them. I fear that my father may one day break his seal, and I think those trolls may be the key to making that happen. This is the truth of the world you have lived in for so long.”

“...Why are you telling me all this? Why haven’t you told the world the truth?” I asked.

“Simple. You’re a closer relative to us. Moreso than most humans. You are a chimera- that means you have depths of power that you have yet to access, depths that can be used to protect many people. You deserve the truth.”

“And the rest of the world!? They deserve being lied to!?”

“There are factions who still support my father. There are factions that want to hunt the great beasts, and if they knew of the chimeras, they would want them dead, too. This lie is better than the truth for the world at large.”

“So that’s it, then? What happens now? I go back home, sworn to secrecy? Claim that these powers are my own?”

“Well, for one, you don’t have to go back home. You may stay here if you wish, become a member of the Cynds. While I can’t let you go around telling everyone these secrets, I can allow you to confide in the people closest to you. And those powers...they are your own. They are inherited, yes, but you are the son of a wolf. You are Christopher, of the Golden Fang. Be proud.”

I shook my head. “Thanks, but no thanks. I’m just fine with my name and my friends back home. I’m not much of a protector if I’m not there, am I? Anyways, it doesn’t really matter. I may be a...chimera, but I’m still really just a guy. I don’t want a fancy title, or privileges...I’m just a dude with something to protect. That’s all.” I turned my back to the King and began to walk out of the throne room.

“Wait,” Hector said, “Are you sure you don’t want a plane? An escort?”

“I’m fine,” I responded, “I’ll find my way home on my own. Thanks for your hospitality, and thanks for telling me all this.”

“Farewell on your travels, Lockheart.”

“Thank you,” I said, opening the door, “Your majesty.”


Chapter Six

I'm Gonna Meet You At Midnight



The Cynd Palace was within Colony 1, a bustling metropolis on the eastern shore of the Grand Diamond Lake. It was actually my first time outside of Colony 132, and I was quickly overwhelmed by how...busy everything was. The sidewalks were crowded with pedestrians rushing to their day jobs and patrolled by the occasional member of the Royal Guard, people situated all over the continent as a guarding force against trolls and to maintain social order. Most people could take on a troll on their own- however, there were some notorious trolls out there that had fed off of a lot of residual energy, making them formidable opponents for even the strongest of combatants.

The Royal Guard members I passed gave me a suspicious eye, seemingly knowing that I was out of place. Perhaps they were worried I was aggressive?

I realized that about an inch of my blade was showing and a faint golden aura was coming from my person. I sheathed the sword completely and the aura disappeared into the scabbard. The suspicious glares stopped.

They were worried that I was going to start something. Gotta be careful about that. I smirked. I never thought I’d have to worry about having so much power I can’t hold it in! Man, this shit feels great.

I walked around the city until I found an ATM, withdrawing some money, getting some change, and finding the nearest payphone I could.



Tucker Lane’s Point of View.

My name is Tucker Lane. I’m seventeen years old, I awakened my powers when I was fifteen, and me and Christopher have been best friends for as long as I can remember.

Granted, that’s not the exact truth, that’s just the story me and him tell people who ask. What actually happened is that we met in first grade and I laughed at one of his bad jokes. He and I were kind of the token loners of the class, and after that, we started to hang out and stuff.

So when my phone rang the following afternoon, the first person that jumped to mind was Chris and I answered it not two seconds after it started to ring. “Hello?” I said into the receiver, pulling myself out of bed and onto my feet.

“Hello, sir, if I could have a second of your time to talk about-”

I cut the call and sighed, setting my phone down. Didn’t I put my number in the no-call zone? I paid like fifty bucks to not get pestered by telemarketers. Bullshit, man.

I snagged some clothes from my dresser and stumbled into the bathroom, making quick work of tossing the clothes I had slept in last night off my body and stepping into the shower. It started out slightly cold and then got just warm enough. As I started to wash what my best friend had once (affectionately) called my ‘hippie mane’, I heard my phone ring again.

Thinking nothing of it, I continued getting myself cleaned off before stepping out with a pair of shorts and looking at the cellphone on the bed. I picked it up and tapped the touchscreen display a few times, displaying the call history.

One Missed Call
Unknown Number
Listen to message?

An unknown caller leaving a message? Well, shit, I have a good feeling I know what I’m about to hear. I hit play and sat on my bed, allowing my phone to play the message from beside me.

“Hey, Tuck,” I heard Chris on the other line, “I’m just leaving you a message and stuff. I’m completely fine- I learned some important shit and they actually treated me pretty nice. I’m in Colony 1 right about now, and I’m not exactly sure how to get home from here? If you could get in touch with Kat or someone who happens to know teleportation, it’d be much appreciated. Otherwise, it’ll probably be a few days before I make it back up there. I’ll call you back in like five minutes or something.”

Ring.

I picked up the phone again. “Chris?”

“That’s me.” he said, “Sorry to keep you waiting. Heard the message?”

“Yeah, I had just enough time to listen to it before you called. Uncanny timing on your part, really.”

“Sometimes I watch you sleep at night,” he admitted, “It helps me get off.”

“I bet it does,” I said, “I bet it does. You know, I’m, like, half-naked right now.”

“Mmm.” he took a moment to let the joke live on before turning serious, “But yeah, you know anyone who can come get me? I really, really don’t feel like paying for a plane ride today. I’m supposed to make this money last for a month, and I already paid for so much internet porn that I’m going to be eating ramen for at least a fourth of it.”

“Why do you pay for it?”

“It’s a dying industry, Tuck. I need to keep the innovators of this world alive. Think about it- anti-piracy measures, copy protection, and at least four viral internet videos are what we have to thank porn for. If I don’t pay people to fuck each other on camera, who will?

“I...guess you have a valid point?”

“All my points are valid. All of them.” We both paused. “Especially my dick.” he added, being sure to meet the mandatory once-a-conversation-dick-joke quota.

“Of course.” I said. “Anyways, where are you? I think I can come by and pick you up.”

“Wait...you learned how to teleport? Dude I was totally joking, there. I only know, like, two people that can teleport.”

“Who?”

“Stooben and you now, I guess. If you’re serious. Are you?”

“Well, yeah. I’ve been taking classes. I’m not good enough at it to make it an instantaneous thing, but I got the basics down. It works fast enough.” I shrugged, “I need a location, though. Can you snap a picture?”

I heard him sigh. “I’m on a payphone, Tuck,” he deadpanned, “I don’t have a camera.”

“Well, shit.” I took a moment to think, “Here- check into a motel or something, give me the address when you’re there, I’ll look at it on Google Maps, and then I’ll be there in like an hour or something.”

“It takes you that long to teleport?” I heard him groan, “Man, that’s stupid.”

“Look, man, it’s doesn’t drain much power and it’s free. Well,” I paused, “The class was hella expensive. And it’s actually kind of really hard to learn how to do. But yeah, would you rather me do this or take a plane?”

His argument shut down at that. “Teleportation it is,” he agreed, “I’ll be seeing you soon, I guess. I’ll check in at the first place I find and get back to you. Later, man.”

“Later.”

He hung up and I sighed, walking over to my computer and opening IRC, entering #meironetchannel132.

<YE> anyone there?
<Katryna> hey
<Katryna> what happened to tabs? O:
<YE> oh. uh. nothing.
<YE> he’ll come by later tonight, i swear.
<Katryna> oh
<Katryna> well I’m going to be visiting my brother in Colony 51 soon
<Katryna> getting ready now
<YE> want me to let him know when he gets here?
<Katryna> I’d appreciate it
<Katryna> how’re you?

I paused, sighed.

<YE> fine
<YE> just glad tabbro’s alright, that’s all
<Katryna> okay
<Katryna> I have to go now
<Katryna> see you later?
<YE> yeah
<YE> peace, Kat
<Katryna> has left #meironetchannel132.

Back to chapter select.

System of a Down - Dam

How long have I been down here?

I lost count at a year.

How many times have I died?

I lost count after the first five.

First. the water came and I couldn’t leave my prison as it was flooded. I fought desperately, with all my power, to the very last breath, but the seal would not break. The water poured into my mouth and pushed its way into my nose and filled my stomach and lungs and I suffocated and drowned.

For a normal person, this would be the end of their suffering.

But for me, it was only the beginning. Not ten seconds after I gave my dying struggle, the blood in my veins revived me, only for me to drown again. Once every five minutes, I drowned and died and drowned and died over and over and over again, for days on end. When I began to grow accustomed to my suffering, the water froze over.

I couldn’t move. The water inside me, even, froze. My blood kept me alive, because I am a Cynd, but my pain was unimaginable. Time and time again, I suffocated. I began to break through some of the ice, but the seal itself with insurmountable. The ice would return whenever I broke it, and for my troubles it would stab inside me.

I do not know how long I have been in this seal. I do not know how many times I have died, because I’ve lost count. I can’t remember my last meal, or my last drink.

All I can think about is what my son did to me.

What that woman and those monsters put me in.

Hear my plea.

Set me free.

Set me free.

Set me free.

Back to chapter select.

It was good while it lasted.
Red Hot Chili Peppers - Californication

Chris Lockheart’s Point of View.

Around midnight, Tucker arrived inside of my hotel room. With no further pretense, he grabbed me and we teleported back to Colony 132, appearing in his living room. It felt like we had taken just a second, but when we appeared in his living room and checked his clock, it was four in the morning. I sighed. “What is it with you and keeping me up late?” I groaned, crashing onto his couch.

“Not my fault you got your ass kidnapped.” He paused, looked at me, “What even happened to you?”

I sighed and shut my eyes. “Long story,” I said, “But I’m the son of a wolf god or some shit and everything we know about our life is a lie.”

“Whatever,” he said, “I’m gonna go play Zelda. You game?”

I shook my head and buried my face into the couch’s pillow, listening to him walking away and falling asleep soon after.


Chapter Eight

Silver Screen Quotations



I woke the following afternoon feeling seasick.

That was the first oddity of the day.

After I took a few minutes to explain what had happened to Tucker, I left his place, caught a bus and went home, entering my apartment to find an envelope on the kitchen table. I removed my katana from my back and tossed it on the couch in my living room before taking a seat at the table, opening the envelope and reading the letter inside.

It was written in Patrick’s handwriting.

Chris,

I want to start this letter off with an apology. I already know where you are and who took you- and now, it’s time for you to learn the truth.

They already told me the truth.

Not the one they told you, I mean. The one I should’ve told you when you asked. About your father. About Cyria.

What?

Yeah, I know. I know about the beasts and the chimeras and all that- because Cyria himself told me. I met him twenty years ago. I wasn’t much more than a kid myself back then, but when I saw a golden wolf transform into a man, I thought it was something worth pursuing.

I lived in Colony 100 with our family back then. Colony 100 is in the White Mountains, and as you know, one of the mountains extend over the range of the Grand Diamond and, from the peak, you can just barely see the island you live on now in the clouds. Colony 132 hadn’t been founded back then, and the bridge to it hadn’t been constructed- simply because of the fact that nobody knew it existed. Well, the people of the mountains were well aware of its existence, but it had yet to get official recognition. So, I saw a golden wolf in the snow and followed it to the peak.

And, you see, that day, I saw something incredible.

The wolf ran, leaped, and cleared the gap from the peak to the island, turning into a man in midair and climbing up the rocky side of the island.

I watched him do this the entire time, and when he disappeared from my view, I jumped the gap myself and followed him through the forest.

I found him outside a small hut beside the river.

It took awhile for me to get him to speak, but once he did, he decided to reward my efforts with a tale of his existence thus far- his birth with the other great beasts on Lum, Trine’s second moon, his experiences with Max II and the rest of the Cynds as they created the world, and, finally, giving all of his power into the seal. He explained the seal and how it worked to me, and while there’s some details I can’t give you yet, I want you to know that your father did care for you.'

He’s still alive. He left Colony 132 a long time ago, but he’s out there somewhere. You should meet him in the coming months.

He didn’t leave you to die in a stream. He told me to tell you that- he didn’t want you worried about your parentage while you were being raised. His hopes, in fact, were that you would be raised normally and given a happy life- and I tried my best to accomplish that. I hid you from the Cynds for as long as I could.

But the time for that is over. Now is the time for action.

Even as you read this letter, the island has started falling.

Don’t worry, it’s a very gradual sink. It’ll be a few hours before it even starts to gain a steady speed, and when it does, it’ll just be about a mile per hour. I need you to start the alert for evacuation as soon as you can, though- the island will eventually start falling at terminal velocity, and I’m afraid there’s not much you can do to stop that.

I have the contact information for King Hector enclosed in this envelope. Tell him that the island is falling before you do anything else- after that, you need to start getting these people out of here. Get Tuck and Kat to help you if you can.

I understand if you don’t trust me right now. There’s a lot that I don’t have the time to explain, and I’ll try my best to make it up to you the next time we meet in person.

Good luck, bro.

Stay safe.

I put the letter down and put my head in my hands.

You have got to be fucking kidding me. What is it with my life and things getting progressively worse? This is some bullshit. Why is it always me?

I sighed. This isn’t some divine intervention to fuck me over. My brother needs something done. I gotta do it. I poured out the remaining contents of the envelope and made a call.



“Yes, you moron,” I said, “I need to speak to the King. It’s urgent. How much more times do I have to say this? He knows my name. Let me speak to him.”

“Look,” the receptionist said, “You can’t just call royalty and expec-”

“My name is Christopher fucking Lockheart, and I swear to God, if you keep-”

“Lockheart? Like Patrick Lockheart?”

“...Yes. He’s my brother.”

“I’ll put you through right now!”

I gave an irritated sigh as I was put on hold, simultaneously angry and grateful that my name was enough to give me clearance to do whatever the hell I wanted. It was likely thanks to my name, in fact, that chicks in bars were so much nicer when they saw my identification, as if being nice to me or giving me a few kisses or fucking me would let them meet my brother or access our family’s vast trove of funds. I would have access to these funds if I wanted them, but I try to function on a limited monthly allowance that he gives me based on some stupid kind of pride that prevents me from making my life easier.

The other line picked up. “Hello?”

"Hey," I said, "I have some important info to pass along."

“...Chris?”

“Holy shit, they patched me right through to you? Hey, Hector.”

“What happened?”

“I’m not entirely sure myself, but, ah...the island’s falling. Sinking, actually. I wasn’t told why. It’s going very gradually right now, but eventually it’s supposed to gain speed.”

“Who told you this?”

“My brother, in a letter. He didn’t explain much else.”

“Well, I can. Can you give me a moment to send the evacuation order to the Royal Guard?”

“Sure thing, King-o. Hit me up when you’re done.”

The line went dead for a few minutes and a loud evacuation siren sounded from outside. I sighed, shut my window, and returned to the phone.

“Still there?” Hector asked.

“Yeah,” I said, “Now, gimme some o’ dat exposition.”

“...What?”

“Nothing, nothing. Just tell me what’s going on, I guess.”

“Alright. The day my father made his assassination attempt, I was saved narrowly by Tamara. To save me, she took on her proper form as a hawk, grabbed me, and flew us away before the room I was in, ah, exploded.”

“He used a bomb?”

“No, he conjured an all-consuming column of flame from the ground. Dad, see, wasn’t much for subtlety.”

“Noted.”

“Anyways, the beasts used that as all the reason they needed to attack him. After Taka got me to safety, she and the other eight-”

“Wait, there’s nine great beasts?”

“Yeah, they were all in that painting. Didn’t you look?”

“...Continue with your story.”

“Anyways, the resulting battle was long, drawn-out, and came to kind of a standstill. It also caused some severe damages to Colony 0, so I sent out the evacuation order while the fight raged on. When the people were out, Meiro joined the fray, countering her son’s inherited powers and allowing the other great beasts to subdue him. One of the beasts, the Octo, tore a massive piece of land out of the ground, and within that piece of land, the beasts combined their powers to create a great gemstone. The power of this gemstone caused the island to rise skyward, and the gem itself continuously generated water-”

“Wait...the gemstone is what keeps this island floating? And the source of the Diamond River?”

“Yeah. They used their powers to create the gemstone and flood the city. My father’s followers were sealed away before this process was complete, then the Grand Diamond was created to keep them imprisoned there. The gemstone and the seal was created with their powers, and so their powers destroy the gemstone and the seal. The awakening of the chimeras over the centuries is what’s broken the seal, and since you’re the first son of Cyria...”

“...Wait, this is my fault?”

“Yup.”

“God damn it. Is there anything I can do?”

“Well, if you can find the gemstone, you can give it your powe-”

“Alright, I’ll do tha-”

“Wait. If you give it your powers, then you’ll be powerless again. Are you sure you want to do that?”

“Look, people’s lives are on the line. It’s better my life suck than everyone’s life sucking, alright?”

“...The island is floating as a failsafe. It is situated directly above Colony 0, intended to kill my father while he’s weak, should the seal be broken.”

“What if it doesn’t work? I’m not just going to sit by and let another one of my fuckups jeopardize the people I love, alright?”

“If that’s the choice you want to make. I will let you decide what’s best.”

“...Dude, you’re a King. Shouldn’t you be, like, telling me to stop? Or obey your orders?”

“You wouldn’t listen to me.”

“...Well, you have that right. Thanks, then. See you later.”

I hung up the phone and sighed, standing from my chair and stretching.

Well, whatever. I had a taste of power, but now life has got to suck again. Somehow I’m not surprised by this development at all.

I put on my outfit- jeans, yellow-tinted aviators, black SBURB shirt, black jacket with white scythe insignia on the back- and stepped outside, giving a mutter that may have sounded like “Why me” and beginning to search for the Diamond River.

Back to chapter select.

Rise and fall, rage and grace.

I had spent at least a few hours walking on the water towards the origin of the river, lost in thought. The evacuation sirens had long ceased and a silence had fallen upon the island- meaning, the people were probably out by now. Colony 132 wasn't heavily populated, and when it was founded, a contingency plan was set in case the island, well, fell.

Now that I think about it, that probably wasn't someone's intuition. The King knew the island was going to fall and so did Stooben- how much other people knew?

This train of thought was interrupted by a splash before me and I quickly jumped to a state of alertness, getting into a fighting stance with my blade held above my head, tilted a right angle and slightly counter-balanced.

A figure in black, hooded robes knelt on the surface of the water as if it were solid ground, his face hidden in darkness behind his hood. The sunset cast a bloody glow on the Diamond River which, unfortunately, failed to illuminate his face to me. A black right hand extended outwards from his body, palm open wide before a brilliant, celestial blue scythe was conjured and grasped.

Nalia?

"Nalia?"

The figure said nothing, standing to its full height and setting the scythe over its shoulder, using its left hand to point at me and then to its left.

Despite the reaper's silence, I got the message. He wants me to leave the gemstone alone.

I stepped forward, grasping my blade in my right hand tightly, with a scowl on my face. "Get out of my way, Nalia," I snarled, "I'm not scared of you."

"Is that so?" his voice was cold and the bottom half of his face was illuminated, his fangs glinting, "You should learn to fear the reaper, you know."

"Seasons don't fear the reaper," I said, charging my golden blade with blood-red energy and returning to my stance, "And neither do I."


Part 1 Finale, Chapter Nine

Ultimatum



Nalia was fast, covering the distance between us in the blink of an eye, scythe at the ready-

I countered, pressing down on my left foot and swinging my blade with the added momentum, slashing his scythe away. He recovered quickly and swung again, but this time I had the time to leap backward and evade the swing.

The range of his weapon is better than mine, I realized, He's at an advantage at close range. More reach and an attack I can't block without careful precision. Parrying's my only option here.

The adrenaline pumped through my system and a faint, golden glow began to emanate from me, a surge of power I had very little control of coursing throughout my body.

"Golden blade," he said, "Black coat. Why would you use a weapon with such a darkness fixation?"

"I'll admit, I used to want to be like you." The power in my blade was still buzzing, building up and waiting to be released, "I was told that darkness affinity users awakened their powers the latest. The order of the elemental affinities, as you know, goes from light to darkness- my friends are closer to the former. They awakened before me."

"What does that have to do with anything?"

"My brother was a good brother, but for the most part, I raised myself with what he gave me. While my friends went out with ambition, and power, I was normally left alone. No parents. No family. Hell, for some time, no friends. What I'm saying is, I was born in the dark..." I stepped forward, "But now, I walk the light. I don't know what the hell your deal is, but you best step out of my way."

He smirked. "Now, 'lightwalker', why would I do that? If you began in the darkness, that's where you should end, right? Advance any further and I'll snuff out that light of yours without a second thought."

I gave a wide swing of my blade and the energy exited from the tip and formed a bloody crescent floating in the air before me. "Light subdues the dark." I said, blasting the crescent at Nalia.

He swung his scythe, bisecting and disintegrating the 'moon', "Dark consumes the light." he said, dashing at me.

There was a flash of red before my eyes and my right arm seemingly moved on its own, clashing against his scythe near the end of his swing, the blue blade trembling about four inches from my chest. His red eyes widened. "How did you block tha-"

I pulled my blade back, tugging his scythe out of his hand and grabbing it with my left, swinging the weapon at him. He leaped backward and the scythe disappeared from my hand and reappeared in his, blocking the downward strike I made in an attempt to split his skull. In blade-lock on the surface of the river, we circled each other before pushing against one another and leaping backwards.

Another flash of red. A memory that wasn't mine.

I stabbed my blade skyward and it began to crackle with golden lightning, the moonshard sword itself turning blood-red.

"No way..." Nalia muttered.

"Golden..." I said, setting my feet as far from each other as I could and twirling the blade by the handle, clockwise, "Fang."

I lunged forward with the signature technique my father was named for, blasting across the surface of the water at breakneck speed and clashing against Nalia's scythe and a swarm of darkness he had made as a counter. However, his shield was for naught- and in seconds, we had crossed the island and went over the edge of the waterfall.

His shield of darkness broke and he blasted into the clouds below.

My back was to the waterfall and I was held aloft by the golden aura emanating from my body, scanning the sky for any sign of my enemy.

I was not disappointed.

From the clouds rose a figure with black robes and large, black, feathery wings, like those of a hawk. Nalia's hood was off his face and he glared up at me.

He rose to my level and remained suspended in the air about a yard away from me, our gazes not leaving one another.

There was a bloody hole in Nalia's chest. I could see out of the other side.

He laughed.

"What the hell's your deal?" I demanded.

"It's just...so funny," he said, voice inlaid with sarcasm, "How you think you can beat me. More importantly, how easily distracted you are. You can't stop the island anymore, you know. You're too late."

Just as he said that, there was a rumbling noise and, behind me, the island plummeted out of sight.

"What the hell!?" I demanded, "The seal's broken because of you!"

"No," he said, "The seal's broken because of you." He pointed a finger- talon, now- at me as his chest regenerated, "You awakening your powers is what broke the seal. The seal itself would've disintegrated over time, anyways. I wasn't about to let you throw away your powers and take away the island- the failsafe for killing my grandfather that we needed."

I glared at him defiantly. "The island can still be stopped." I said.

"Is that so?" A tear of blood fell from his right eye, which glinted malevolently, "Night's falling, wolf-boy. You're in my element now."

"Night's not the only thing that's falling."

I leaned backward and willingly dispelled the aura holding me aloft. "I am, too."

I began to free-fall, forcing my body into a dive and stabbing my sword before me. "Golden Fang!" I shouted, increasing the speed of my descent.

The island was getting closer, but the Grand Diamond lake- which was beginning to split, making way for the island to break the Diamond at the bottom- was also in sight, meaning that if I couldn't pinpoint where the gemstone was exactly, I'd be too late-

From the night sky, there was a sinister blue glint as my shoulder was split open and I was knocked off course.

"Cyria may have been the fastest of the great beasts under most circumstances!" Nalia said, from all around me, "But my mother, the hawk, controlled the darkness! I am the night!"

"Shut up." I slashed at my side just as Nalia appeared beside me.

At the same time, our weapons stabbed into each other.

We plummeted to the island below, crashing into a field near the edge. I couldn't move, but Nalia could, forcing himself to his feet.

Around the island was a wall of rising water, making way for the island to descend, uninterrupted, directly into the seal at the bottom of the valley.

"It's too late." Nalia said, dispelling his scythe and walking towards my near-broken form on the ground, "There's nothing you can do. I win. The seal is broken and my grandfather dies tonight."

My sword, yards away from me, disappeared. I didn't have the strength to conjure it as Nalia grabbed me by the collar, lifting me from the ground and staring into my eyes coldly. "You fought well," he said, "But I'm not going to let you throw your powers away, or stop my grandfather's death. I know you had good intentions in mind, but I'm not going to let you fuck up things more than you already have. It ends here."

"You...you're gonna kill me?" I wheezed.

He bit into his left arm and flapped his wings, taking us from the surface of the falling island. "Not yet." he said.

He pressed his wound against my mouth and I drank obediently, his blood tasting surprisingly tangy as it began to heal me. When I recovered my strength, he let me go and I floated beside him, watching the island- my home- pierce through the Grand Diamond.

"I'm going to miss that place." I said.

"We will find a place for the residents of Colony 132 to live," Nalia said, "Worry not. This is the beginning of a new era for the world."

"What makes you say that?"

"No more trolls," Nalia said, turning to me and smiling, "Peace. Maximilian will be dead at last."

The island crushed Colony 0, the city of Blusk, and stopped completely.

"So that's it, then?" I asked.

"Looks like it."

Suddenly, there were ten powerful surges of malevolent energy- the sources of which blasted past me and Nalia. "Shit!" Nalia hissed, "His followers got out!"

"His wha-"

An explosion of power- pure, frightening power that I could not possibly hope to understand- burst from the bottom of the valley, felt throughout the world. In seconds, the island beneath and before us was blasted skyward and crashed into Lum, Trine's second moon.

"It's him!" Nalia screamed, "Get ready!"

"'Get ready'? That implies I'm not already here." A cold voice, booming with power and malevolence, from the figure before us. A man in pure white robes with golden overtones, hair the color of the moons and skin the color of ivory, the same as his son. Eyes leaking blood, like his grandson. A youthful face with a muscular, toned body- but there were scars, scars everywhere from what looked like stab wounds. Multiple spikes of ice extended from his body, and I realized:

That's what happened to him in the seal. Those things kept stabbing him and he couldn't heal completely.

He stared at me with cold eyes. "A Cynd and a Chimera," he said, "An unlikely duo. How long has it been?"

"It's-" Nalia started.

"Don't tell me, boy. It's been too long." He looked at Nalia and then to me. "I notice that you too are a Chimera, Cynd child. Your blood is tainted, but you still have our eyes. Kill him."

What?

"What?" Nalia sputtered.

"I see, then. You're friends. No matter."

Nalia was impaled by thousands of needles of darkness and fell out of sight.

The water begin to refill the valley and Max II stared directly into my eyes. "I'll do it, then." he said.

Without thinking, I shouted "Golden Fang!", conjured my blade and stabbed Max through the heart.

Or, at least, that was the idea.

Before my blade even touched him, the moonshard exploded and the sword shattered in my hands.

Before I could observe my broken unbreakable sword, Max literally punched out my heart and I began to fall to the Lake below.

I was dead before I hit the water.

End of Part One.

Back to chapter select.

- Intermission 1: Shattered Ruins

Let's take a break from all that ruckus. You know what to do.

First, the prince...

When Nalia came to, the first thing he did was scream in pain.

Unfortunately, this only caused him to lose what oxygen he had remaining and let the water flood his lungs, and within a few, desperate minutes, Nalia Cynd was dead again.

When he awoke once more, he found himself washed up on a shard of the Grand Diamond, his grandfather’s needles of darkness still impaled in his body. He had lost his wings and felt his energy at an all-time low, meaning it would take a longer time than usual for it to regenerate. The needles themselves didn’t help matters- minus the constrictive and painful properties, they were actively absorbing what energy he had left, and the prince realized that if he didn’t act quickly, he wouldn’t be waking up for a long time.

He forced his full body onto the ice, using his chin to drag himself across its surface before pulling himself to his knees, and starting the long, arduous process of pulling the needles out of his body. Nalia held in his screams, one handful at a time, tossing the bloody needles into the water before finally falling prone on the ice, giving a few shuddering breaths against the ice as his Cynd blood finally started to do its work uninterrupted. His wounds quickly sealed and the regeneration process began, taking about two minutes before he could stand, carefully balancing himself on the ice.

After another few moments, he stepped off the ice and started walking across the water. “Christopher?” he called, “Where are you?” Nalia received no response and, after a moment, crouched on the surface of the water and put a hand inside, using his powers over the darkness to scan the entire Grand Diamond Lake in seconds. There were no bodies in the water, but frozen pieces of the city of Blusk and the Grand Diamond itself were spread across the lake, likely to wash ashore on beaches facing the lake all over the continent.

Nalia couldn’t find him on the surface, either. A full scan of Meiro would drain Nalia completely, so he cut it off and opened his eyes, looking at his reflection in the surface of the water. I don’t know if he’s alive or dead. The body’s gone and I can’t pick up even a trace of his energy signature. He doesn’t have much control of his power- I doubt he knows how to hide it. Where is he?

“Looking for somebody?”

Nalia looked upward.

There was a man in long, white robes not unlike the Royal Family’s standing before him, arms crossed, face hidden behind a hood. My scan didn’t pick him up, Nalia realized, I didn’t even hear him coming.

“Who are you!?” Nalia demanded, standing to his full height.

“My name?” the stranger asked, “Why would you seek that?”

“Answer me.” Nalia growled, conjuring hia scythe and holding it out towards him.

The stranger flexed his arms outward, his body momentarily forming the shape of a cross before conjuring long blades from his sleeves, each around seven feet in length. They were silver and lacked a handle or hilt, but he grasped them without issue. “My name’s not important,” he said, getting into a low stance with one raised behind him and one counterbalanced before him, “But you can call me Ruin.”

“Why should I call you that?” Nalia demanded.

“Because ruin follows me everywhere I go.”

There was a flash of white and Nalia spun his scythe clockwise, counterclockwise and then to his left, right and front in the space of a second, blocking dozens of blows from Ruin’s blades before the man in white reappeared behind him. Nalia didn’t turn around, knowing that his darkness-enhanced senses would serve him better than his eyes in this fight.

“What do you want?” Nalia shouted.

“Wouldn’t you like to know?” Ruin turned and swung his left arm, the sword exiting his hand and flying towards Nalia’s back. Nalia warped behind him and his sword stabbed through a dark haze clone while Nalia charged his scythe with dark energy and swung it for Ruin’s side.

The blow connected and Ruin’s body burst into white feathers, which fused into doves and reformed into him suspended in the air above Nalia, silhouetted by the moon. His blades were nowhere in sight and his arms were crossed.

“Running away so soon?” Nalia jeered.

“I was merely testing the waters.” Ruin said, “I have no quarrel with you yet. I hope you’ll be stronger the next time we meet.”

“When’s that?”

“No need to spoil the surprise.” he said, bursting into doves as his voice echoed in the air, “I’ll be watching over you.”

A single white feather landed on the surface of the water and the doves disappeared from the night, back into the dark from where he had come.

Nalia set his scythe over his shoulder and sighed, looking at the two moons in the sky.

Sol, Trine’s first moon, floated peacefully and gave a radiant glow upon the lake and a white reflection off Nalia’s scythe. Lum, Trine’s second moon, had been noticeably damaged from when Max II had blasted Colony 132 into it- it didn’t shine as bright any more, Nalia noted.

Nalia stared into the moons and they looked back at him like a pair of eyes in the night sky, just as he recognized a familiar surge of energy to the East, around Colony 7.

Breaking his gaze with Sol and Lum, Nalia turned and disappeared into the night.

Back to part select.

Cats, Kat, spears and tears.

Jeane Jacobs was a woman with a life she called normal. While it was true that she had a...peculiar appearance, an unusual set of powers, and was raised with only her father due to her mother dying in childbirth, she was proudly normal.

True, she had a second set of ears- that couldn’t hear and weren’t human- sticking out of her hair. And a tail she had to hide in her clothing when she went out. Also, an unnatural affinity with wind and eyes that looked different when she used said powers.

Regardless, Jeane, living a peaceful life in the town on the seaside hill in Colony 9, considered her life quite normal and didn’t ask much questions until men calling themselves Fraser and Brightside came to her, claiming to have information about her mother.



Katryna woke up in the middle of the night, a strange, foreboding feeling through her heart. she was staying at a hotel with her family in Colony 51, which was on a lonely shore facing the Grand Diamond Lake from the North. Before she shrugged it off and returned to slepe, she felt the planet of Trine tremble from a display of frightening power.

Quickly, she was dressed and on the balcony, watching a rising wall of water block her view. It didn’t affect the tides on shore- it was being pulled skyward by some unknown force.

A column of darkness blasted into the moon.

For the first time in her life, Katryna felt true fear. What’s going on?

She would not receive her answer until the following morning, where she realized her home had fallen from the sky, been blasted into the moon, and that one of her best friends had been the only resident of the town unaccounted for.



“Doctor Javelin.” a woman said.

“Doctor Noir to you,” he responded, and turning his chair from the window to face his colleague, “What do you want, Williams?”

“Walkazo,” she said, “Unlike you, I like to refer to my friends with a first-name basis.”

Doctor Javelin Noir, a psychologist, psychiatrist, pediatrician, physician, surgeon and Royal Guard member, sighed. He leaned back into his office chair and turned back towards the window, away from Walkazo Williams, a lifelong friend of his and one of the few he had. “What is it?” he asked, sharply.

“The seal-”

“Yes,” the Doctor said, “I know the seal’s broken. I felt it. I know you did. That means Evoltsul- oh, Max, not supposed to use that name- and his followers are free. I understand the implications here.”

She gave an exasperated sigh. Javelin was either or an asshole on most days, and today he was leaning towards the latter. Not that she blamed him- as a member of the Royal Guard in such a high position, he was forced to constantly deal with his least-favorite activity.

Paperwork. By God, he hated paperwork. He used to be mellow, but serious; nowadays, he was near constantly bitter about the amount of tedious work he had to deal with, and the only person who knew how to calm him down was, well, Walkazo.

“What should we do?” Walkazo asked.

“Isn’t it obvious?” Javelin turned his head, revealing half of his face from behind the chair and staring at Walkazo with a single, radiant blue eye, “We move.”



“What’s your plan, majesty?” said a voice in the darkness.

“Relax,” Maximilian said, “I do not yet know what course of action I should take.”

“What of the Cynd child?” asked another.

“He is dead. The needles I used will prevent his regeneration.”

“The beasts? The chimeras?” the first voice said.

“As we find them.” Max sighed, “Challenging them directly before was...foolish, of us. We will not repeat our old mistakes.”

“But, Sir Evoltsul,” a third voice cut in, “You can fight-”

“I know I can fight my son.” Max said, “The boy’s heart is weak. He lacks the power of our divine ancestry.”

“The Cynd child was moderately powerful.” the second voice noted.

“He could’ve been stronger than my father and I wouldn’t care. He’s the son of those...things. My bloodline will not be polluted by half-bloods and dumb animals.” Max snarled.

There was a murmur of assent from the gathered men in the darkened room, the solitary source of light being an open doorway.

“What of the Order of Maximilian?” asked Max II.

“They still run strong throughout Meiro,” said a fourth voice, “Some are even members of the Royal Guard.”

“That is interesting. How much have my people expanded under my son’s rule?”

A fifth replied, “Significantly. They divide into colonies all across Meiro. They typically have warm relations with one another, but there’s word of a rebellion in Colony 51.”

“Interesting. Lockheart, Lane!” Max said, “You two should look into that.

Two men: Edo Lockheart, founder of the Lockheart family; and Xzelion Lane, founder of the Lane family, emerged from the darkness and into the light.

“Looks like the Lockheart Lane combo’s back in action.” Edo noted, giving a grin at his best friend.

Xzelion rolled his eyes. “Lane Lockheart,” he said, “I’m the one who pulls the weight around here.”

“Enough bickering, you two.” Max said, “Get moving!”

The two men, standing side-by-side, turned to look each other in the eyes before giving a synchronized nod.

“Yes sir.” they said, shortly before leaving the room.



End of Intermission One.

Back to part select.

- Part 2: Lane Lockheart

Looks like it's time to get back into action.

Open up my eager eyes.
The Killers - Mr. Brightside

Christopher Lockheart’s Point of View.

Upon my awakening, I did not open my eyes.

The reason behind this is that there’s a lot you can learn about where you are before revealing that you’re awake, and if you don’t know how you got there to begin with, there’s an extremely good chance you’re being watched.

First, I inhaled with my nose. Seawater. One of the colonies facing the sea instead of the lake? Probably a harbor.

A light breeze came from above me, and judging by the noises I could hear outside- seagulls, mostly- I was resting beneath a window. There was a warm blanket on me and I was in a fairly comfortable bed, and, if I ignored the searing pain throughout my body, but especially in my chest, I could pretend that I was in a completely normal situation.

I was not bound.

I opened my eyes.

Sitting beside my bed was a man with hair the color of gold, with tanned skin and red eyes. He was in an outfit of black robes, and he was staring directly at me. “Chris,” he said, exposing golden teeth with especially long, sharp canines, one of which were missing, “You’re awake!”

What’s with his appearance? Why is he wearing an outfit like Nalia? Why am I alive? Why did he bring me here? Why is he missing a tooth? Why does he know my name?

You.” I snarled.

I leaped out of bed, grabbing my father by the collar, throwing him through the window and vaulting over the windowsill in pursuit. A golden aura surged from my body and I charged at him, still on the ground-

He was gone and I felt a great force crash into my throat, knocking my feet from beneath me and causing me to hit the ground, hard.

I gave a pained gasp as my wounds opened.

Cyria, in his human form, stared down at me with a cold expression, setting his foot on my chest. “That’s no way to thank me for saving your life.” the wolf-turned man said, one of his eyes flashing with scarlet energy like mine had when receiving memories of his techniques, “You’re an ungrateful little brat, aren’t you?

I tried to force him off of me, kick him off or roll away, but I was in too much pain and I felt like if I did anything more, he’d stomp through my chest and it’d all be over. Regardless, I stared into his eyes with as much hatred as I could muster, silently hoping that murdering my father through a death glare would be possible.

“I replaced your heart,” he went on to explain, “You’ll find that it’s much more efficient at handling your energy now. In fact, I replaced a good majority of the organs in your body so that you would be better suited for handling your newfound powers, especially since you can’t transform into a wolf. Fortunately for you, the seal breaking meant that I regained my powers. I can only assume that means the other great beasts have as well.”

“Why did you save me?” I snarled.

“Because you’re my son,” he said, simply, “Why else?”

Since when has that meant anything to you!?

I struggled to push his foot off of me but to no avail, hoping to knock him off balance and resume beating the shit out of him. He watched my efforts with a look of growing amusement until I gave up, at which point his facial expression changed. “Your safety has always been my highest priority,” he said, frowning, “Especially since I couldn’t save your mother.”


Chapter Ten

Mr. Brightside



“What happened to her?" I hissed, "You tie her up somewhere and she died of neglect?”

“No,” he said, “Mating with me was too much for her. I don’t mean that in the way you’re thinking- us great beasts, we expend our power constantly. I didn’t have the full capacity of my power back then because of the seal, but the reason we don’t stay with our human partners is because after we make ties, our powers can fluctuate out of our control and kill them. Your mother fell ill from this before I left- she wouldn’t let me leave- and nothing I was able to do could save her.”

“Why the fuck didn’t you stay with me, then? I could handle it!”

“No,” he said, “You couldn’t. Not until either the seal was broken and we regained control of our powers or until you awakened your own. I was a danger to you, especially to your development as a child. I lost your mother,” he said, giving a sad sigh, “I didn’t want to lose you, too.”

I finally stopped struggling and rest my head on the grass, staring at the sky at dawn. “Well, you already did, didn’t you?” I said, making a final, bitter remark.

He gave a laugh at that. A sad one. “I guess I have. Could you at least give me a chance?”

His face was like mine, I realized. He did that same smile I did when I was apologizing for one of my many fuckups, and I decided that maybe he deserved a chance. “Sure,” I said, “If you get your foot off me.”

Just as he did, a certain man in black robes stepped into view.

I pulled myself to a sitting position on the ground, watching Nalia’s eyes dart from me to my father. “Cyria,” he said, “Was that him, you, or both?”

“Both.” Cyria said simply.

“I thought so.” Nalia walked over to me and pulled me to my feet. “That means the other beasts should be awakening their powers right about now, yeah?”

Cyria nodded. “I think so. What course of action do you want to take?”

“We need to assemble the Reaper Council again,” Nalia said, “So that means my mother, you, Stooben, Hector and Vanity all need to be summoned.”

“...Vanity?” I cut in.

“The tiger,” Nalia said, “She stays somewhere in Colony 9, but I lost contact with her a long time ago. Her daughter stays there, too. She might know something.”

“Her father hasn’t said anything to her,” Cyria said, “And I’m pretty sure she doesn’t know she’s a chimera.”

“Oh,” I said, “That sounds familiar!”

Cyria fell silent. Seeing the guilty look on his face almost made me feel better about the years of parental abandonment. Almost.

Nalia made eye contact with me. “Would you like to go and give her the news, then?”

“Sure.” I said.

“I’ll come with you in case trouble comes up.” Nalia turned back to Cyria, “You, can you find the other beasts? You’re linked to them on a spiritual level, I’m not. And Lockheart, find him, too.”

Cyria sighed. “I’m the fastest thing alive, but I’m not your errand boy, Cynd.” Regardless, the man crouched on all fours and, in the blink of an eye, morphed into the wolf with golden energy coming off him and bright red eyes.

He vanished in a yellow flash.

“What about us?” I asked Nalia.

“We find the girl.” he said, “And we’ll be using aliases. I’m not letting her know I’m royalty until we know she’s on our side, and I’m sure you don’t want to make any unnecessary risks with your name either.”

“Fine,” I huffed, “What’s your name going to be?”

“Fraser,” Nalia said, “Jeremy Fraser. You?”

I sighed. “Brightside. Tabuu Brightside.”

“Mr. Brightside? That’s such a lame reference, even for you.”

“Shut up, Fraser.”

Back to chapter select.

Do you wanna know how we stop the time?
Franz Ferdinand - Jeremy Fraser

Tabuu’s Point of View.

“Wait,” I said, “Before we go, I need a weapon.”

Nalia nodded towards the house my father had been staying in. “Check in there,” he said, “He told me he had something ready for you a few years back. He may have kept it in store.”

“Wait...you knew I was his son? And you pretended you didn’t in front of your father?”

“My father may be a Reaper,” Nalia said, “But there are things I hide from even him. For one, it’d make it look like the way I approached you was excessive force.”

“...You tried to kill me.”

“No, I wanted you to awaken your powers. Which you did.”

“No I didn’t. I didn’t until Hector-”

“Think for a second.” Nalia interrupted, “What happened when you were ‘falling to your death’?”

“I...I decided I didn’t want to die. And then I go back up to where you were, and...”

“Stabbed me through the neck.”

“I’ve been in near death situations before, though. How come it was just this one that made me awaken?”

“Because you accepted it. You accepted that you were going to die there. That’s the difference between what happened then and taking a horn through the chest and screaming for help. You knew Kat would always be there, because she always has been. You knew somebody would save you, because there’s always been someone to save you and you never, never give up.” Nalia stared directly at me, “So, I had to do something different. I had to make you understand death and accept it before you could spit in its face.”

I shook my head slightly.

“That’s why I formed the Reaper Council,” he said, “We are the Reapers. We understand death, therefore we can defy it. That’s what makes us different from all the rest.”

I nodded at my father’s front door. “So what am I going to find in there? A scythe?”

Nalia smirked. “If that’s what you want.”


Chapter Eleven

There's No Reason To Know



What does that even mean?

I turned my back to him and stepped inside, wondering for a moment why I had spent so much of my life wearing outfits with scythe insignias even though I’ve not once thought of using them as a weapon.

I had a flashback to when I was a little kid, at the Lockheart Residence in Colony 10, Patrick grinning at me and showing me a shirt he’d had custom-made for me. It was pure black, with a white crescent moon on the chest and a white scythe insignia on the back.

“What’s that?” I asked, pointing at the scythe.

“It’s a scythe,” Stooben explained, leaning forward, “A favorite tool of the Grim Reaper and farmers everywhere!” He gave a little chuckle at that.

“The Grim Reaper? Wait...like that one song you listen to sometimes? Don't fear the reaper?”

Patrick nodded and grinned as I gave an excited cheer at my understanding of this. “Thanks, bro!” I said, giving him a hug, “It’s great!”

He gave a sheepish grin. “Glad ya like it, bro.” he said, ruffling my hair, “Remember. As long as I’m around, you got nothing to be scared of, alright?”

I blinked twice and gave a smirk. “Always a reason behind everything you do, eh, big bro?” I said to nobody in particular, opening a door at the end of a long hallway and stepping into the room. It was mostly empty, minus a desk illuminated by a single candle and a strange, metallic object in the center, somewhat resembling a steel porcupine.

“I’m supposed to use that as a weapon?” I muttered, stepping towards it, “Where do I even grip it?”

As my hand came close to it, some of the spines retracted to make room for my hand and I grasped the ball thing, whatever it was.

I gave a hiss when I felt a pinprick at the center of my palm, but before I was able to throw the little bastard across the room, the spines remaining curved and wrapped themselves around my hand, stopping me from throwing it away. More pinpricks and I hissed in pain, feeling as if dozens of miniature needles were stabbing into my hand before realizing that was kind of exactly what was happening.

The pricks ceased and the thing exploded with a golden aura- my aura- and flashed red for a moment before reforming into a long, brilliant golden scythe that I was gripping at the center. The Lockheart family crest was on the side of the blade in blood-red, but there was also a golden fang- canine, shit- in the center of the chained heart now.

“No fucking way...” I muttered, shifting the thing around, “What is this even made of?”

“It’s an alloy,” Nalia said, standing behind me, “Moonshard, enhanced by soulsteel and bewitched to bond with you instead of the one who crafted it.”

“Soulsteel? Bond?”

“Soulsteel is a kind of metal that has a mind of its own, basically. It takes the form of whatever its owner desires, but before then it has its defense mechanism- the porcupine form, I guess. Normally, the person crafting it is the first to touch it- and it bonds with them by taking a sample of their blood and magical energy. From there, it can reform into any size, shape, weight and density it wants- and with the reinforcement of moonshard, which makes it incredibly difficult to break and allows it to absorb materials that enhance it, it basically creates the perfect weapon.”

“Don’t get me wrong,” I said, watching the scythe morph into a sword in my hand, “This is cool as shit and all, but what’s going to stop Max from breaking my sword again?”

“Max didn’t break your sword,” Nalia said, “You did. You tried to stab a man with a katana."

"An unbreakable katana!"

"Katanas aren't for stabbing, Christopher." Nalia sighed, "If you keep using curved blades for lunges, they'll keep breaking."

“Whatever. Hey, uh, can I call Tuck and explain what happened?”

Nalia laughed at that. “I don’t have a phone on me, bro. And I’m afraid Colony 7 doesn’t have much in terms of telecommunications- not any that’s not hella expensive. This place is basically just a big ‘ol harbor, anyways. It’s for fishermen.”

“What about Colony 8?”

“Colony 8 specializes in farming, as you would know if you ever touched a history textbook in your life.”

“I only remember things as long as they’re relevant to me. 132 colonies is a lot to keep track of, you know. Meiro’s a big fuckin’ place.”

“It’s a supercontinent,” Nalia said, “It’s the biggest fucking place on the planet.”

“Your mom’s the biggest place on the planet!”

“No, my great grandmother is. Meiro. Snake-shaped continent. Is this not getting through to you?”

“Wait, we live on her?”

“No, but she created Trine and then created the continent herself. You’re welcome, you ungrateful piece of shit.”

I reformed my sword into a scythe and dispelled it. “Fuck you, Nalia.” I muttered, stepping past him, “Let’s just get going. What awaits us in Colony 9?”

“It’s a smaller city,” Nalia said, “They don’t have much in the way of specialties. Except inexplicably cold weather. Why heavy snow falls on Southeast Meiro baffles me.”

“I hate cold weather.” I muttered.

“Well, cold weather hates you, too.”



Nalia and I leaped through a wheat field in Colony 8.

It was late noon and each of our jumps cleared about half a mile. I could’ve gone much faster, but I was staying behind for Nalia’s benefit.

We landed on a dirt road before a thicket of trees. In the horizon, I could see a snowy peak.

I gave a shiver, finding to my displeasure that the cold was already getting over into this area.

“Less jumping from his point,” Nalia said, “From here, we go on foot and split up. When we find the girl, I’ll leave you to tend to her. Alright?”

“Sure thing,” I said, “I can’t complain about that. Is she hot?”

He rolled his eyes. “Is that really all you think about?”

“No, dude, I was just asking. Is she hot?”

“Uh, I guess?”

“Eew, man. I haven’t even met this girl and you’re talking about her body? Christ, how shallow are you?”

“Oh, what the fuc-”

Ahem.

My fucking-with-Nalia was interrupted by a man standing before the trees, wearing white robes and holding a clenched fist before his mouth. His skin was pure white and the exposed part of his face was pulled back into a sneer.

“Uh, who’re you?” I asked.

“Ruin.” Nalia answered, conjuring his scythe, “I met the guy when I was looking for you.”

“Now, now...” Ruin said, “What’s with all the aggression? I was just coming by to say hi. Hello, Nalia. And Christopher, too. We’ve met, but I doubt you remember.”

I raised an eyebrow. “You and I. We met?”

“Why, yes. Who else would’ve stopped your mother’s screaming?”

“...What the fuck are you saying?”

He laughed. “Is the implication not clear? I killed her. Dimwit.”

“She died of energy fluctuation,” Nalia interrupted, “Not murder.”

Ruin stepped forward. “My energy,” he said, “Not Cyria’s. Same thing for Maximilian Cynd, actually. And a few others.”

“Wait...you killed Max? The first human? The dude killed himself. He was the only person strong enough to!” I shouted.

Ruin’s shoulders shook with the force of his laughter. “Not the only person,” he chuckled, “He’s not as unique as you think he is, you know.”

There was something about this guy’s mysterious act that really, really pissed me off. It wasn’t even the implications that he murdered my mother- no, I didn’t know the chick and it’s only recently that I learned she didn’t leave me to die- it was just the way he acted, like I was a little kid and he was here to tease me with information unrevealed.

It was then that I decided, fuck that, and attacked. “Golden Fang!” I shouted, leaping forward and slashing my scythe-

Ruin stopped me by summoning two long, silvery blades and stopping me with an X-shaped guard that I...couldn’t break? Unstoppable force, my ass.

Ruin smirked and his hood tilted upwards. “Who are you?” I demanded.

“There’s no reason to know.” he replied.

He disappeared in a flurry of white feathers and I gave a frustrated scream at the sky.

“Who the Hell is that guy!?” I shouted, turning to Nalia, “What the fuck is his deal!?”

“I. Don’t. Know.” Nalia said, stepping backward slightly as I approached him, “If I did, I would tell you. I wouldn’t listen to that guy, though. I think he’s just fucking with us. Getting riled up is just what he wants us to do. That’s his deal. He shows up, says some cryptic bullshit, shows how outmatched we are by him, and disappears. That’s what Ruin does.”

I fumed, dispelling my scythe and turning my back to Nalia.

“It pisses me off,” I hissed, “Next time I see that motherfucker, he’s as good as dead.”

Nalia sighed. “I hope you’re right.”

I caught a feather from the air and stomped into the woods, not caring to turn my back to see if Nalia was following me.

Back to chapter select.

Let's ride together.
Franz Ferdinand - Bite Hard

“My name is Tabuu Brightside,” I said, telling my first lie of the day and staring at the cat-eared, slack-jawed “I think these guy may be serial killers”-looking chick in the doorway, “And this is my associate, Jeremy Fraser. We’re here to tell you about your mother.”

She looked directly into my eyes, and then into Nalia’s. We were shivering in the snow late at night, having taken much longer than we thought we would have to find the girl.

“My mother,” she repeated, “Dead. Who you two claim to know about, despite entering my life twenty years after her death. Can you see why I’m skeptical?”

“I can,” I said, “Really, I can. If I tell you my story, will you tell me yours?”

She raised an eyebrow. “What do you mean?” she asked.

“You and me. Just us, not Nal- Jeremy anywhere in sight. I saw a diner a little ways back. We could talk there.”

“Am I being asked on a date by a creepy dude I just met?”

“Yup. Are you going on a date with the creepy dude who comes to your house in the middle of the night, rambling on about your dead mother?”

“Well, if you put it like that...”


Chapter Twelve

Date Night With Brightside and Fraser



We sat in a booth facing one another on the far side of the diner, a window opening into the snowy night on my right and her left, a piping-hot cup of hot chocolate in front of me and a coffee in front of her, which she was busy stirring sugar and creamer into while simultaneously looking at me like I was an idiot.

“You ask me on a date to tell me about my dead mother and then you make me pay,” she said, “Smooth. Real smooth, Brightside. What’s next?”

“Well,” I said, “My name’s not Tabuu Brightside.”

“I sort of picked that up when both you and your friend are named after songs I’ve listened to in here.”

“You come here often?”

“I work here,” she said, “Or, used to. People mess with the jukebox a lot. Some songs stick with me.”

“So, let me get this straight...” I put up a finger, “You accepted an invitation from a fake-named dude who comes to your house in the dead of the night, accompanied by another person you don't know. These people claim to know about your mother. And you go on a date with one.”

She shrugged. “That about sums it up, yeah.”

“...Why?”

“Your eyes.” she said, leaning forward and giving me a good stare, “They kind of telegraph your emotions. When you’re bullshitting it’s the most obvious thing in the world, but when you’re honest, it shines through. You know something about my mom that I don’t. Hit me with it.”

“Did you just compliment my eyes?” I smirked, “I thought I was going to be the one passing out the compliments first.”

“I don’t care how much compliments you got to give, boy, you’re not having any of this.”

A little grin appeared on her face. Holy shit. She’s flirting back.

I shook the thought out of my head. Things. I’m here to accomplish them. You know, dude, this is the only chick besides Kat that you’ve met while mutually sober that doesn’t think you’re an asshole. This is progress.

“Anyways,” I said, visibly flustered when she glanced down at me and her smirk widened, “Your mother. I wasn’t lying about that part. Do you know of the great beasts?”

“Yeah,” she said, smirk replaced with a look of boredom, “Maximilian Cynd, Meiro, creation of world, blah blah, blah blah. Heard it a thousand times. Why?”

“Well,” I said, “Among them was a white tiger named Vanity, of the Roaring Winds. Vanity was female, and, like other great beasts, she was able to take on a human form and-”

“My dad fucked a tiger?”

“...I was getting there, yes, but-”

“My dad. Fucked. A tiger.”

“Yes.”

“...You expect me to believe this, why?”

I shrugged. “Your powers? The cat ears? The tail you try to hide? I don’t know, I thought it was pretty obvious.”

“My mother is dead,” she growled, “She died in childbirth. My dad was there to watch it happen. The great beasts were immortal, like the Cynds. You expect me to believe that a man she clearly loved enough to be a mere human with is someone she would fake her death towards? That she'd leave him to raise a child on his own deliberately? How fucking heartless do you think my mother is?”

I gave a bitter laugh. “That’s rich,” I said, “Really, it is. You’re talking to the wrong person about dead parents, you know. I used to think my dad was dead, too. But he’s not.”

“What’re you talking about?” she snarled, the pupils in her eyes turning to slits, “You’d better start making sense real soon, or I’ll-”

“I am a chimera.” I said, clearly, “I am the son of a human and one of the great beasts. My father was Cyria, of the Golden Fang. The wolf.”

It was her turn to laugh. “You expect me to believe that? What’s your little Fraser friend- a raven?”

“Hawk, actually.” I said, “Taka. Red Claw. Is this coming through to you?”

She looked like she was just about ready to jump me, and I do not mean in the good way.

Well, it was good while it lasted.

“What’s your name?” she asked, “The real one.”

“Christopher Lockheart,” I said, “I’m the adopted brother of Patrick Lockheart.”

“Patrick Lockheart. The Patrick Lockheart. Royal Guard Captain. Philanthropist. Musician. Celebrity. Prodigy. Adopted you. Son of a wolf god.”

“...Well, yes.”

She groaned. “You are so full of shit.” she sighed.

“What do I need to do to convince you, then?” I asked.

“Howl.”

“What? I’m...look, I’m not a wolf. Like...I don’t know how to howl or anything.”

“No,” she said, “If you’re his son, you should have his powers, right? From what I’m following here? Then you should be able to use his signature technique. Howl. Right here.”

“His signature technique wasn’t Golden Fang?”

“It was. Golden Fang and Howl are his two signatures, but only Howl displays the kind of energy that only he can generate. It’s...scarlet. Like blood, sorta. Golden Fang can be duplicated by any sufficiently powerful light user. Howl is exclusive to him. Can you use it?”

I remembered the red flashes in my eye and the energy crescent I fired at Nalia during our fight. “Sure,” I said, “But I think we should step outside.”

She nodded.

We finished our drinks and stepped out into the snowy parking lot. I extended my right arm and conjured my scythe before grasping it firmly and staring at Trine’s two moons. “You ready?” I asked.

“Show me.” she said, crossing her arms expectantly.

I stared into Sol and Lum, and both of my eyes flashed with scarlet energy as I received another inherited memory.

I dispelled my scythe, crouched, leaped to my feet and howled at the moons, releasing a blast of scarlet lightning that illuminated the night around us.

The look of surprise on her face was so fucking worth it.

I turned to look at her, gave a wolfish grin. “Well?” I asked, “That what you were looking for?”

She gave a light nod. “You still have a lot to explain, you know.” she said.

I shrugged. “We have all night.”

She started to walk back in the direction of her house and then stopped, turning back and looking at me expectantly. “Well?” she asked, “You going to stand there like an idiot, or are you going to walk me home?”

I tripped on my feet when she turned her back and followed hurriedly, trying to look like I wasn’t a dumbass in front of a woman who had just invited me into her house.

I failed miserably, but that’s beside the point.



Tucker Lane’s Point of View.

Is Chris dead?

I pushed the thought out of my head for the seventeenth time in the past few days, trying to stop myself from being worried sick about my best friend and failing miserably.

He had failed to stop the island from falling. I had felt his power clash with someone else’s, and then both of theirs fade completely after the release of one greater than any other I had felt.

Sometimes I thought I felt little traces of it, but it could have just as easily been my imagination.

Wherever my friend was, he wasn’t conscious. He was probably severely injured and drained of energy, and I...

I should’ve come with him. I could’ve protected him and stopped this.

“Tucker.”

I turned around.

Standing at the doorway to my hotel room in Colony 51 was Patrick Lockheart. He was relaxed, leaning against the doorframe and staring directly at me. “He’s alive.” he said, simply.

“How do you know?” I asked.

Patrick smirked. “I have a good word. And a lot that needs telling, but I’d rather do that on the way.”

“...On the way?” I asked, rolling off my bed and jumping to my feet, “Where are we going?”

He grinned. “To Colony 9, though we may end up meeting them halfway if something comes up.”

“They?”

Stooben smirked. “Christopher, his father, and the other great beasts. You ready?”

I stared directly into Stooben's eyes, realized he was completely serious. "Yeah," I said, "I'll be outside in just a minute."

Back to chapter select.

There will be blood.

Patrick Lockheart’s Point of View.

Between Colony 20 and 21, Tucker and I stopped dashing and took a rest on the beach facing the Lake, leaning on opposite sides of a palm tree while the sun began to set. I took a few deep breaths, closing my eyes and breathing in the fresh air.

“We’ve been running and jumping all day,” Tucker panted, “Powers or not, I can’t think of anybody that wouldn’t be fu-fucking exhausted right now!”

I gave a laugh at that. “Well,” I said, “Cyria’s way ahead of us right now. Last time I got a telepathic message from him he was in...Colony 14? And he’s not even going half speed, either...”

“That’s not a fair comparison,” Tucker panted, turning to look at me, “He’s a wolf god that can probably move at light speed. I’m a human. I have limitations.”

I shrugged. “You did say you couldn’t think of anybody that wouldn’t be tired by now. I bet Cyria’s bored out of his mind waiting for us.”

Tucker’s following groan made a few seagulls squawk loudly and fly away. Just as I was about to relax for a quick nap, I felt something.

“Tucker,” I said, urgently, “There’s someone close by.”

I leaped to my feet and Tuck did the same, conjuring his cutlass while I set my right hand on the handle of the katana within the scabbard on my waist.

A man in white robes- like those worn by the Cynd Royal Family and the higher members of the Royal Guard- landed from the sky, looking up at us with a faint look of surprise. His blue eyes were behind a pair of bright yellow shades. He had long, blue spiky hair and on his chest was an insignia- white with blue outlines- depicting a stylized lightning bolt.

Xzelion Lane, founder of the Lane family, Tucker’s direct ancestor and the first-ever Lightning Element user, blinked a few times, glancing from me to Tuck. As one of the nine Elemental Ancestors, he was distantly related to many people in Meiro- if one had a Lightning affinity, they had to have at least a drop of his blood in their veins.

Maximilian Cynd was born with all of the elemental affinities- the ultimate Sage, one with equal affinities with all elements- but he stripped himself of them to create the Nine Ancestors, who went on to found their respective families and become his son’s followers and be sealed within the Grand Diamond. While Max and the Cynd Bloodline retained their Sage abilities, Max himself was greatly weakened by the creation of the Ancestors, which may have contributed to his decision to ultimately end his life.

“Who are you?” Tucker asked.

“Xzelion Lane,” Xzelion said, standing to his full height and conjuring a solidified blue lightning bolt, which he grasped like a sword and held at his side, “And you are?”

“Patrick Lockheart,” I said, giving a bow, “Son of Michael Lockheart, descendant of Edo Lockheart. The boy is Tucker Lane- one of your descendants.”

“Another Lane Lockheart combo?” Xzelion gave a grin, seemingly impressed, “Our families have remained tied together after all this time? Incredible.” But then, he frowned, “I’m afraid you’ll have to get out of my way, though. It’s nothing personal, but I got some chimeras and beasts to hunt down. And a rebellion to ignite. So, I’ll give you a choice. You two scurry on your way and I’ll be sure to tell Edo the good news...or I’ll cut you two down and apologize to him later.”

Tucker was visibly frightened, but I just gave a grin. “I’ve never experienced the honor of fighting someone of your caliber,” I said, pulling on the handle of my blade, “Would you care to oblige?”

I unsheathed my katana with a slash, a swarm of darkness escaping from the scabbard and emanating from the black blade, at the base of which a blood-red version of the Lockheart family crest resided.

“What of the boy?” Xze asked, “Is he going to stand there, or am I going to get a fight? He looks awfully frightened.”

Tucker was trembling head-to-toe, but he grasped his cutlass firmly and steeled his gaze at his ancestor.

Before either of us could react, a bolt of lightning crashed into Tucker and he slammed to the ground some distance away, knocked unconscious.

“He’ll be alright,” Xzelion said, “I’m not exactly comfortable with killing my descendants in cold blood, you know? I mean...he won’t be alright for very long, but if you can beat me, he’ll be saved. Nobody in the way.”

“You’ve got that wrong,” Tucker pulled himself to his feet, clothes singed and smoking while his blade crackled, “I’m a Lightning elemental too, remember?”

A surge of electricity surrounded his body and he looked up, revitalized, “I’ll admit I had a bit of trouble for a moment there, but all you did was give me a boost. You may end up regretting that.”

Xzelion chuckled. “Atta boy,” he said proudly, “Just what I’d expect from my bloodline. You two ready?”

I held my blade towards the world’s first Lightning user. “Yeah,” I said, “Let’s go.”



Tabuu’s Point of View.

Jeane led the way out of her house the following morning. I had spent my night on her living room couch, letting her run my clothes through her washer and dryer because of how much they had been soaked by the snow. The sun was out and the snow wasn’t falling today- something that I found great and something Jeane didn’t really care about.

“Where to?” I asked, catching up with her.

“Your friend told me to take us into town,” she said, “We’ll probably be meeting up there.”

I shrugged. “Alright. Why didn’t he tell me?”

“You were comatose on my couch at the time. We decided not to wake you up.”

“Thanks for that,” I muttered, “How much farther do we go, exac-”

I leaped to my left and Jeane to her right, both of us narrowly dodging a wave of dark energy that ripped through the snow and detonated upon meeting a tree in the distance.

Simultaneously, we turned to look at our assailant. A man with dark green hair matching the color of his eyes stood before us, donning a pair of the white robes of the Cynd Royal Family and Royal Guard that matched the color of the snow around us, golden outlines on the uniform. On his chest was a black insignia depicting a heart with a padlock around it. His right arm was extended, holding a long, white scepter with a black, smoking orb at the end.

Edo Lockheart- the first Darkness user, Stooben’s direct ancestor- blinked. “Well,” he said, “Not too many people have dodged that one before.”

I conjured my scythe and leaped backward, landing beside Jeane, who had entered a fighting stance. “Any plans?” I asked her.

“I thought you were the one who knew what the hell was going on?” she hissed.

Edo began to step forward, resting the scepter on his shoulder and giving a smile. “Congratulations on dodging that first attack, but...I’m afraid you two are going to have to come with me!” His smile faded and he held the scepter before him, “If you cooperate, I’ll try to talk Max into letting you two live. I’m not a fan of all the bloodshed.”

“What do you call that attack you just tried to pull off, then?” Jeane shouted.

Edo shrugged. “It was meant to maim or severely injure, not kill. No need to get angry with me.”

My scythe morphed into a sword in my hands and I snarled, getting into my stance and glaring into my adoptive ancestor’s eyes.

“The Golden Fang is the one who defeated me when we were sealed,” Edo said, “Though the Roaring Winds was busy fighting Jonathan. Last time, I made the mistake of underestimating the power of the wolf...” He smirked, “I’m not a fan of repeating myself.”


Chapter Thirteen

Lane Lockheart



Jamie Christopherson - The Only Thing I Know For Real

Patrick Lockheart’s Point of View.

Xzelion stabbed his lightning blade forward, sending a large, blue lightning bolt in my direction.

I dodged swiftly, holding up my sword to block as Xzelion jumped out of the bolt and slashed at me. His eyes widened in surprise as he tried to push against my guard. “How did you know about that?” he asked.

Raiden,” I said, “Lightning-based transportation. It’s said that in the Battle of Evoltsul, you rode a lightning bolt in your battle against Alex of the Piercing Ice.”

Xzelion rolled his eyes and leaped backward, dodging a darkness-charged swing from my blade. “Screw that hedgehog,” he said, “If I had actually managed to hit him, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation!”

Tucker leaped into the edge of my view and extended his cutlass, slashing the lightning-charged blade upward. The blade stabbed through and burst from the sand, with Xzelion narrowly dodged. “Good technique,” he said, eyes not leaving Tucker’s ascending blade, “But bad execution.”

The lightning in the blade exploded, slamming into Xzelion and causing him to crash through a stone wall around the beach. Tucker retracted his cutlass and stood beside me as we stared at the rubble, waiting for Xzelion to emerge from the smoke.

With a deafening thunderclap, it began to rain and Xzelion began to laugh. “Looks like Canet’s helping me out,” he said, walking into the light, “He knows I love a little rain.”

“Where is he?” I demanded, “I’m not sensing him.”

“He’s pretty far away from here,” Xzelion said, tapping his temple, “I just did a little telepath thing asking for some assistance. I didn’t want him here, though...”

“Why is that?” Tucker asked.

“Simple,” Xzelion said, conjuring a second solidified lightning bolt and grasping it in his left hand, getting into a low stance with one weapon held behind him and one before him, “I wouldn’t want this to be too easy.”

He smirked and lunged.

I leaped forward to meet him, stopping both of his blades with one strike, forming a black line of symmetry in the middle of the blue X his weapons formed.

He released a surge of lightning that I couldn’t block, sending me through the air. I recovered before my feet touched down, landing on the surface of the Lake.

It was then that I realized my error. Xzelion aimed his right lightning blade at the sky above me. “Farewell.” he said.

A lightning bolt tore through the clouds and struck the Lake beside me, electrocuting the waters and ripping through my body before I could so much as dodge. Every aspect of my being screamed in agony and my vision darkened, darkness swallowing my body...

Literally.

I lunged forward with incredible speed, sword extended before me. “Black Fang!” I shouted, stabbing my blade through Xzelion’s chest.

Xzelion countered with a close-range lightning bolt that tore through my side, but I didn’t remove my blade from his chest, opting to let the dark aura emanating from my body heal my wounds.

He laughed. “A darkness-based version of Golden Fang? Edo’s gonna get a kick outta this...”

I pulled my blade out of his chest and Xzelion stumbled backward a few steps, the hole in his body regenerating before he gained his composure.

“You’re good...” Xzelion said, looking down at me through cracked shades, “Edo will be proud.”

“H-how did you-” Tucker stammered.

“Regenerate like that?” Xzelion smirked, “Max gave us his blood before the Battle. It’s what kept us alive in the seal.”

I walked to Tucker’s side and we began to walk in a circle, Xzelion walking on the opposite side with a grin on his face, waiting to see what we would do next. I sent Tucker a quick telepathic message and he gave a nod of affirmation. I switched my sword to my left hand and extended my arm, aiming my blade at Xzelion while Tucker mimicked the motion, our blades meeting each other. “Special Technique,” Tucker and I said, “Lockheart Lane!

Tucker’s cutlass and my katana crackled with black lightning and we separated, watching the grin on Xzelion’s face dissipate.

Before either side could attack, a man and a woman in Royal Guard uniforms landed from the sky.

Javelin Noir and I met eyes while Walkazo faced Xzelion, a curtain of blue hair indicating she was turned away from me.

Xzelion sighed.

“Are you kidding me?” he said, “Four to one? How is this fair?”

“Quiet,” Noir said coldly, turning to face Xze, “You’re coming with us.”

Xzelion looked at the stormy skies.

“Yeah,” he said, “Not too sure about that one.”

He was gone with a roar of thunder, a smoking hole in the sand indicating where he was only moments previously.



Tabuu’s Point of View.

I hit the snow hard.

Edo looked down at me and Jeane with a frown on his face, scepter held loosely at his side as he advanced towards us. “I expected more than that from two chimeras,” he said, “I’m almost disappointed I didn’t get a better fight.”

Jeane was somewhere behind me.

Over the course of the fight, she had attempted to use her powers over the wind to counter Edo’s darkness spells. Unfortunately, he managed to nail her with one and she hadn’t moved since.

I had tried to use Golden Fang and Howl against Edo, but for a magic user, he was surprisingly adept at close combat, countering Howl and deflecting Golden Fang whenever I attempted to use them on him. We had been hopelessly outmatched.

Edo used his foot to push me onto my back and looked down at me, scepter raised high into the air. “I’ll let you make a choice,” he said, “I kill you two or I capture you two. Which?”

Fuck you.” I spat.

He gave a sad sigh. “You know,” he said, “I was just beginning to like you.”

He swung.

Back to chapter select.

Your time will come if you wait for it.
Imagine Dragons - Amsterdam


Chapter Fourteen

Sorry I Let You Down



Tabuu’s Point of View.

There was a flash of gold.

Edo was blasted off his feet and my father, in his human form, landed in the snow before me, facing his opponent and conjuring a blood-red katana similar in shape to my own.

“The Golden Fang...” Edo stood and made a bow, “It’s been a long time since our last battle, Cyria.”

My father held his blade towards Edo and an immense amount of light energy burst from his body, scarlet lightning crackling around his sword.

Edo held out his scepter and smirked. “Shall we dance?”

Beside my father, two figures clothed in black robes appeared. One of which held a celestial blue scythe- Nalia- and the other one was a woman I couldn’t recognize, having long, white hair with blue streaks and a set of familiar cat ears twitching atop her head.

Edo sighed. “You know,” he said, “I’d really appreciate a fair fight once in awhile. Man-to-man, you know?” The orb at the end of his scepter pulsated and he snarled, aiming it for our group. “But I suppose it can’t be helped...”

Boom.

A lightning bolt struck the ground beside Edo, a man grabbed him, and another bolt struck and carried them away.

“Cowards!” I shouted, knowing very well the irony in shouting that after they were far away.

I immediately paid the price for my hypocrisy, however.

I felt something pierce my lungs and I blacked out.



Jeane’s Point of View.

I woke up in a manner that Tabuu- Christopher, whatever I’m supposed to call him- said was irritatingly familiar to him in recent times.

In an unfamiliar place after having been severely injured. I would’ve found the irony in this more if I hadn’t noticed a woman watching me sleep, though when I recounted Tabuu’s tale and saw her ears, I put two and two together and decided against attacking my mother, since she had been so kind to patch me up and all.

But that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to ask questions.

“Mother.” I said, surprisingly coldly, sitting up in the bed. After a few moment’s observation, I realized that I wasn’t in an unfamiliar place at all- I was back in my bedroom in my house.

“Hey.” Vanity said, softly, gray eyes cast toward the floor “I’m sorry I was so late.”

“Late for what? Stopping me from getting killed or letting me know you weren’t dead?”

She opened her mouth to answer, but I interrupted.

“That was a rhetorical question. I don’t want to hear your excuses.”

My mother closed her eyes and frowned, giving a slow nod. “I understand.” Vanity muttered, “And I’m sorry.”

I could tell her apology was genuine, but I wasn’t about to show any compassion yet. “So why did you leave? You know, faking your own death and all that.”

She gulped. “I’m not at liberty to say,” she muttered, “And if you knew, we would both pay very dearly.”

My anger reactivated. “So that’s it, then? You leave me to be raised with a single father and you can’t even tell me why you up and ruined his life?”

“I...I didn’t-”

“Shut the fuck up. You don’t know what it was like for him- for me- to go without you. Dad never found somebody else to give his heart to, because he felt that would betray you. He was miserable all the time, and we scraped by on pure luck during my childhood. You forced him to raise me by himself, forced him into a life of mourning and parenthood, and you come here expecting me to smile and hug you like nothing’s wrong!?”

Vanity sighed. “No.” she said, “I didn’t and I don’t. But...I never wanted to leave you two. I always wanted to raise you with him, but things...”

She fell silent.

I gave an irritated sigh and leaned against the head of my bed, shutting my eyes and turning away from my mother. “What’re you here for, then?” I asked. “Dad moved away a long time ago.”

“I’m here for you,” she said, “I need to teach you how to use the power you’ve been given.”

“What about the other ones? That Fraser guy and Chris? Have they been trained?”

“No,” Vanity said, “And that’s why we’ve come. We have to gather our children and the other great beasts, so we can stand against Evoltsul and the Ancestors.”

“...Evoltsul?” I opened my eyes, turning to her and giving a quizzical look, “Ancestors?”

“Evoltsul is a name adopted by Maximilian Cynd the Second,” Vanity explained, “After he determined that we, the great beasts, were at fault for his father’s death. Publically, he didn’t do much towards his vendetta against us- he simply served as the second King of Meiro, though rumors about mistreatment of his son and conspiracy were abound...we didn’t act on them until he made an assassination attempt on Hector, though. Taka saved Hector there, and then there was a battle and...”

She shook her head. “It’s ancient history.”

“Was he wrong?” I asked.

“What do you mean?” Vanity asked, frowning.

“Evoltsul- Max. Was he wrong to blame you?”

“I didn’t do anything!” she exclaimed, “I hadn’t even met the guy until that fight!”

“Max Senior killed himself because Meiro left him, correct? Remind me what shared tendency each and every one of you ‘great beasts’ tend to have?”

She paled. “I...”

I turned away from her. “I don’t have anything else to say to you,” I muttered, “Leave.”

Back to chapter select.

Hello again!
Metric - Black Sheep

Tabuu’s Point of View.

“Do you know how to teleport?”

I sighed, stopping my path through the snow and looking back at my father’s human form. “No,” I said, “Tuck does, though. It’s not-”

“Instantaneous, right?” Cyria cut in.

“...Yeah, he hasn’t nailed it.”

“Do you want to know why?”

I raised an eyebrow. “Why?”

“Because teleportation is a technique that originates from the Darkness,” Cyria explained, “And the people with darker affinities have less trouble learning how to use it. It’s not a Dark technique in itself, but it was invented and taught by Dark users- the Lockhearts. Every element requires an entirely different set of skills and mindset to manipulate properly, but...”

“But...?”

“Light and Darkness are fundamental opposites, but the disciplines behind them are similar enough. It’s all about balance- finding your inner darkness to stop your light from becoming excessive, or using the light to hold the darkness at bay. To become a truly efficient Light user, you have to learn the discipline of a Darkness user. The power you have now is set in stone. You exhaust yourself from a few Howls and Golden Fangs, but that’s not how it’s supposed to work. You have to learn to control it.”

I scowled. “How do I do that? Wouldn’t that just make my attacks weaker, anyways?”

“No,” Cyria said, “Not for you. Light users start with their powers at a point where they can’t heighten them- but they can’t use anything near its full potential without becoming energy efficient. Darkness users can use their full potential from the start, but if they don’t learn how to control it, they could begin to drain from their own life energy and die. How much Golden Fangs can you string together consecutively?”

“Consecutively? I’ve never done that...I mean, I did three in a really short timespan, plus Howl once or twice...and that really tired me out...” I put a hand on my chin in thought, “How much can you use consecutively?”

“Sixty-six.” Cyria said, “And that’s just at a time. I could theoretically do a lot more than that, but I’d need some time to recharge.”

I blinked. “That’s bullshit.” I muttered.

“You have just about the exact same amount of power that I have,” Cyria said, “No chimera is cut down in comparison to their parents. It’s just...technique that you have to learn. Control. Discipline.”

“Wait...” I paled, “Does that mean Evoltsul- Max II- whatever the fuck- does that mean he’s just as strong as Meiro is? How am I supposed to fight that?”

“Number one,” Cyria said raising a finger and pointing it at me, “You won’t be fighting him alone. That’s why we’re gathering the Beasts and the Chimeras. Number two,” he said, raising another finger, “He’s actually a lot stronger than that. He’s the son of Maximilian Cynd, remember? His father was the ultimate Sage before he removed his affinities and created the Ancestors with them. Even after this, Max was powerful- and his son even more so, because he never weakened himself.

“S-so...Evoltsul’s...”

“Stronger than the creator of the planet and stronger than the founder of the human race, yes. He’s the strongest being in existence, bar none.”

I thought about Ruin for a moment, but decided not to say anything. Ruin can’t be that strong, can he?

No, I realized, Because Ruin didn’t kill Max Senior until after he’d weakened himself by creating the Ancestors. The history books don’t say much on the subject of Max’s weakening...

“Anyways,” Cyria said, interrupting my train of thought, “I’m going to teach you to teleport.”

I blinked. “How?”

He gave a little smirk at that. “I have a feeling you’ll be a natural. Patrick probably already taught you the essentials without you knowing it.”

“What hasn’t he planned in advance? My head’s still spinning over the scythe insignia thing...”

Cyria gave a shrug at that. “Me and him have held some light communication over the years,” Cyria said, “But even I don’t know what he’s planning or what’s going on in his head. He’s a bit of an enigma, your u-”

Cyria cut himself off like he had said something particularly vulgar.

“My what?” I blinked.

“Your brother,” Cyria said, “An enigma. Ever since the day I met him.”

“When did you two meet?”

“A few years before you were born. He, uh, followed me to the island after one of my visits to Colony 131.”

“Why were you visiting?”

“Your mother lived in Colony 131.”

“...Oh.”

There was an awkward silence, with me and Cyria looking into the snowy distance in opposite directions.

“Anyways,” I said, “Teleportation. How does it work?”

Cyria conjured his blade. “It’s best for you to learn through combat,” he said, “From what I’ve seen, you pick up on things better in the heat of battle.” He winked.

I conjured my scythe and held it towards my father. “Is that so? Looks like we’ll have to put that theory to the test!”

We gave identical smirks and prepared our weapons.


Chapter Fifteen

Reunion



Stooben’s Point of View.

“What’re you two doing here?” I asked, nodding at Javelin and Walkazo, “This area isn’t your jurisdiction.”

Javelin chuckled. “No need to be a hypocrite, captain. We’re looking for the chimeras.”

“For what reason?” I asked.

Javelin shook his head. “Shouldn’t it be obvious, considering who you just fought? We need to find them before they do. Gather the chimeras, make ‘em strong, see if they can help us fight. I’m pretty sure the chimeras are the most important weapon we could have right now.”

“...What did you just say?”

Javelin blinked. “Did I offend you somehow?”

“The chimeras are people too,” I said, “They are not weapons. They are not tools to be used by the Royal Guard. If they want to fight with us, that’s their choice- but don’t go calling them weapons, you understand me?”

Javelin sighed. “You mean your little brother, don’t you? I’ve seen the boy in action. Before he awoke his powers, I mean. Even though he was powerless, he fought trolls with a sword in hand and an indomitable will. He’s the kind of boy that wants to protect people, isn’t he?”

“Yeah,” I said, “But that’s his choice. It’s not your place to decide what he does and doesn’t do with his powers.”

Javelin shrugged his shoulders. “Alright,” he said, “I’ll just drop the subject. I apologize for agitating you. Out of curiosity, where are you and the boy going?”

I shook my head. “That’s none of your business, I’m afraid.”

Javelin silently fumed. “We aren’t your enemy, Lockheart,” he said, “We just want to-”

“I understand that,” I said, firmly. “And I may let you two work with me in the future. For now, though, I don’t want your involvement. Understand me?”

“Yes, sir.” Javelin muttered, turning his back to me, “Let’s go, Walkazo.” he said.

The two Royal Guard members teleported away.

“That’s it, then?” Tucker asked.

“No,” I said, “Those two are supposed to be stationed in Colony 51. I want them to stay there because of the rebellion.”

“What rebellion?” Tucker asked, tilting his head in confusion.

“There’s a revolutionary group in Colony 51,” I said, “People displeased with royalty and...a few members of The Order.”

“What’s the Order?” Tucker asked, dispelling his cutlass and starting to walk with me.

“The Order of Maximilian,” I said, “People who believe in Evoltsul’s vendetta against the Great Beasts and, by proxy, the chimeras. You don’t hear much about them lately, but they’ve been around as much as ever.”

“How do you know?” Tucker asked.

We broke into a run and started jumping, clearing hundreds of feet in a single bound.

“I’ve met their leader,” I said, “Had a fight with him once. A man who called himself Ruin.”



Tabuu’s Point of View.

“Get ready!” Cyria shouted.

Cyria lunged with Golden Fang and I sidestepped and blocked, my father deflecting past me and vanishing into the air.

He blasted toward me from my left and I countered again, barely.

Golden Fang!” he shouted, “Times three!

My father slammed into my back and I was sent crashing into the snow, rolling in the frost and giving a pained groan.

“Get up.” Cyria said, “Where’s the spirit I saw when we fought earlier? You’re in training mode. You need to treat this like a battle.”

I got onto my knees and stared up at my father, pulling myself off the ground.

Cyria made a face like he’d just inhaled the scent of a week-old corpse. “This is my successor?” he snarled, “A cowardly little boy?”

My entire body froze and surged with adrenaline, an irrational fury in my heart. “What did you just call me?” I asked, calmly.

“Coward.” my father spat.

I lunged.

My father blocked and parried the furious barrage of strikes that followed, easily standing up to me in close combat. He looked positively bored.

I charged my scythe with Howl and swung my scythe with all my might.

My father teleported away and scarlet energy obscured my eyesight.

I knew where he would reappear.

Without dispelling Howl, I turned at a seventy-five degree angle, reformed my scythe into a sword and gave a Golden Fang-backed lunge just as my father reappeared in the midst of his own Golden Fang, eyes widened in shock and shining the same color as mine. I could feel his surprise. In that moment, I knew everything he knew.

Special Technique!” I shouted, moments before our technique met, “Howling Fang!

I teleported behind my father and finished my lunge, stabbing into his back as the Howl energy exploded, sending him flying through the air.

My father stood from the snow and brushed himself off, his wound healing with a surge of light energy as he cast Heal on himself. He had a huge grin on his face and I knew why, because the red in my vision hadn’t gone away and his hadn’t, either.

This is called a sensory link, Chris. Sorry for the insult, but it's easier to establish when you're emotional. his voice echoed through my head, I’ve always had access to your side of things, though I tried to stay out of it when I could. There were side effects occasionally- you would sometimes lose yourself to, uh, insincts, and hit on everyone.

That explains a lot, actually.

I know. But those times when you learned Howl, learned Golden Fang? While you were fighting Nalia? I gave you those memories through the link.

What about that time I almost died?

That was all you.

“And so was that little move you just pulled!” my father said aloud, “‘Howling Fang’? I can’t believe I never thought of it!”

We gave stupid grins that had uncanny resemblances to each other..

I’m proud of you.

The link cut off.

“I know.” I said.



Tucker’s Point of View.

I arrived in Colony 9 with Stooben late in the afternoon, where we wandered like a few morons until Nalia showed up and led us to where everyone had been staying- at the house of a chick named Jeane, who was apparently the daughter of a tiger or something.

Cat and dog?

Nah, tiger and wolf.

Do they get along?

Oh God, did Chris hit on her?

He needs a wingman now.

I ran as fast as I could, climbing Jeane’s porch and opening her door without a second thought.

CHRIS IS A REALLY GREAT DANCER AND HE HAS A HUGE PENIS!” I shouted.

Tabuu and Jeane were sitting on opposite sides of her couch, controllers in their hand and staring at me with a slack-jawed, wide-eyed look.

Who the fuck are you?” Jeane asked.

TUCK!” Tabuu screamed.

Tabuu tossed his controller to the side and ran at me, crushing me with an embrace that was not unlike that of a boa constrictor. I returned his hug with equal force and after we were done enthusiastically squeezing and rubbing against each other, we gave a unified, contented sigh as we leaned over each other’s shoulders.

He sniffed me. “You smell like sweat and worry.” he said.

“You smell like wine and defeat.” I responded.

Jeane just blinked.

“Why were you hitting on me when you had a boyfriend?”

Back to chapter select.

The head of the snake is the worst part.
Akira Yamaoka - Happy War More


Chapter Sixteen

War More



Tabuu’s Point of View.

“Do you want to die?”

I was shirtless, grasping an old katana and nearly hyperventilating, sitting on a tree stump while snow tore through the world around me.

I was at one of many Lockheart Residences, in a training range in the White Mountains of Colony 100. The person who had posed the question was my- Stooben’s- grandfather, who stood over me with his arms crossed, wearing a pair of black pants and wooden sandals and nothing else.

He was really buff for an old dude. His name was Stane Lockheart, and he had been a Royal Guard Captain in his prime.

I was fifteen years old back then. I barely knew how to fight. "N-no." I rasped.

Stane ignored my response. "Again," he said, snapping his fingers and conjuring a swarm of lesser trolls, “Don’t let the cold distract you. Focus only on your targets.”

I pushed myself to my feet reluctantly and grasped my blade firmly with both hands, entering a faux kendo stance that I learned by watching Stane and Patrick spar.

The lesser trolls were barely humanoid- just tiny, dwarvish little creatures composed of darkness with bright red eyes and razor-sharp claws. One of them- slightly larger than the rest- gave a low growl and the swarm ran at me.

He’s the leader. The head of the snake.

Like a man possessed, I made the motions.

I counted nine dwarf trolls and made two swings, killing four of them.

Two circled me and I did a 180, slashing them out of the air and rotating again to counter the lunge of another.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t quick enough.

Its claws sank into my stomach and I crashed into the snow, the three remaining dwarf trolls rushing me in my defenseless position.

“Do you want to die!?” Stane shouted.

To my left was the leader, growling and moaning orders to its subordinates. Without a second thought, I grabbed its neck with my left hand and squeezed as hard as I could, crushing through the fragile flesh and killing the leader.

With the head of the snake gone, the rest of the dwarf trolls were dazed.

Covered in my own blood, I swung my sword wildly and got to my feet, giving deep, measured breaths that fogged the air before me.

“Good job,” Stane said, snapping his fingers, “Now do it again.”

A large, ape-like troll spawned.

“How do I fight this one!?” I shouted.

Stane shrugged. "Do you want to die?"



“Chris?”

I jumped to attention, nearly falling off my seated position in a chair at the table in Jeane’s kitchen. Stooben, Cyria, Vanity, Nalia, Tucker and Jeane were around the wooden, rectangular table as well, with me and Nalia sitting at opposite ends.

It was Tucker who had said my name, nudging me from my slumber from my right. “Dude?”

“Sorry,” I said, “Dozed off. What were we talking about again?”

Nalia fumed. “We were discussing the matter of finding the other Beasts and Chimeras. Cyria managed to find Vanity, but that was it. Me and you finding Jeane was really just luck.”

“Wait,” I said, “Aren’t you a sensor? Can’t you use your shadow powers to scan Meiro?”

“I could,” Nalia said, “But the rest of the beasts are very well hidden. I could see through that concealment at close range, but once they’re outside of that incredibly small radius, they’re undetectable if they’ve used magic to hide themselves from me. Which they have. Trust me, I’ve tried.”

“What about your mother?” Cyria asked, “And Hector?”

“My parents are in Colony 1,” Nalia said, “I had a chat with the two of them a little earlier. Minus the obvious awkwardness, they’re doing just fine. They obviously want to help with the search.”

“Why’re we searching for people, again?”

“We need to find everybody involved in this,” Nalia said, “So that we can discuss it. The Reaper Council- a group of Great Beasts and Chimeras.”

I raised a hand.

Nalia sighed. “What is it, Chris?”

“I didn’t ask to join your club.” I said.

“You’re in it anyways,” he said, “So is Jeane. Deal with it.”

“This guy’s a dick.” Jeane muttered, under her breath.

Stooben snorted.

“Am I in the club?” Tucker asked.

“Do you want to be?”

“Yes.”

“Beasts, chimeras and their associates!” Nalia rectified.

“But I was already a part of the Reaper Council. And so was Hector.” Stooben pointed out.

“Just...shut up. Everyone’s a Reaper, alright!?” Nalia shouted.

“Whoo.” Vanity said, sarcastically.

“I hate you fucking people.” Nalia groaned, putting his head in his hands, “How does Dad deal with this shit all day? Is this what being a King’s going to be like?”

He buried his head in arms and went silent for a solid five minutes.

“That’s just cute.” Vanity said, elbowing him.

“Fuck off.” Nalia groaned.

“Anyways,” I said, taking charge, “Finding them. How’re we going to do that?”

“Internet.” Tucker said.

“Yeah,” Jeane said, “You could probably search for local legends and stuff. Ask around in the Meironet IRC channels. That kind of thing.”

“Wait,” Stooben said, “There’s one thing we’re missing here.”

“What is that?” Cyria asked.

“I encountered another one of the Ancestors on my way here,” Stooben said, “Xzelion Lane. Tucker here is his descendant.”

“So that means the other ones got out?” Vanity asked.

“Yeah,” Stooben said, “Everybody’s active in this game again, except they’re staying hidden until the time is right.”

“So we need to find the chimeras and the other beasts before they do,” I said, “Strength in numbers.”

“You have the right idea.” Stooben said, “But Xzelion mentioned a rebellion to ignite. There’s word of revolution over in Colony 51...and Kat happens to have gone there on vacation with her family. Before this all started.”

“I’ll go.” Tucker and I said, simultaneously.

We fived each other.

“Sounds good to me,” Nalia muttered, sitting up straight, “I think the rest of us should go to Colony 1 to meet up with the King. Get some money, get some transportation. See what we can do. Who’s going to get Kat out of there?”

“I’ll go.” I said.

“So will I.” Tucker said, “She’s my friend, too.”

“I’ll watch them.” Stooben cut in.

“I’ll come along.” Jeane volunteered.

“I’ll stay with you and Vanity,” Cyria said, “Chris knows how to get ahold of me.”

I grinned at my dad and we fistbumped each other.

“So is that it?” Nalia asked.

“Sounds good to me.” I said.

“Let’s do it.”

Back to chapter select.

It's alright.
Franz Ferdinand - Swallow, Smile

Stooben’s Point of View.

“How did he do?” I asked.

Chris was on his hands and knees in the snow, panting, shivering and covered in blood, mostly his. Stane, my grandfather, stood above him and looked at me.

“Not as well as you or she did,” Stane said, absentmindedly scratching his chin, “But still fairly well. He has a lot to learn about technique, but the kid doesn’t give up.”

“S-she?” My brother panted.

“My daughter,” Stane lied, “She went through the same training you and Patrick did.”

“What about you?” Chris asked, “Did you go through this too?”

“Well,” Stane said, “Yes. My own grandfather taught me the ways of the Lockheart Style when I was a boy, before these mountains were colonized all over. His father invented it.”

“Who invented the Lockheart Style?” Tabuu asked.

“Edo Lockheart,” Stane said, “Our ancestor. If you’re lucky, you may well reach his level of strength one day. The Lockheart Style requires quick-thinking, rapid reflexes, and near-instant tactical formulation. In addition to pure physical strength and sword technique, you also have to learn a full range of magical techniques- including those used by light-spectrum users, like Heal. To find true power in the darkness, you have to have a light to make it there.”

Chris gave a little laugh and stopped holding himself, smashing his face into the snow but seemingly not caring. “Alright,” he said, voice muffled, “I may not have my powers yet, but I’ll still master the Lockheart Style!”

He gets that spunk from his mother, I thought, It’s just a shame she wanted those skills for a different reason.

I watched the youngest member of the Lockheart Family rise from the snow, brandishing the katana of Amadeus Lockheart, Stane’s son and my father.

“Do you want to die?” Stane asked, conjuring his own blade.

Tabuu held out his blade towards Stane, preparing for his first-ever sparring round with my grandfather.

“Depends,” Tabuu retorted, “Do you?


Chapter Seventeen

Everything's Easy Now



Tabuu’s Point of View.

“Pat,” I said, opening the door to our hotel room, “You hear anything yet?”

My brother looked up from his laptop and shook his head. “Nothing,” he said, “I’ve told the Royal Guard to keep an eye out for people manifesting powers without a weapon or with unusual physical features, but they haven’t found anyone. Colony 51’s still a few days away at the rate we’re going, but so far I haven’t heard that anything’s happened there.”

“Good,” I said, crashing into the second bed in the room, “Is Kat alright?”

“She’s not online,” Stooben said, “But she’s probably worried sick about you right about now. Want me to...?”

“Nah,” I said, waving my hand, “I’d rather talk to her in person. She deserves a face-to-face apology.”

Patrick laughed. “Since when did you start going face-to-face?”

“Since I started fucking random chicks I meet in clubs.” I said, simply, “Social skills are useful when you want to do something stupid.”

He turned serious. “What did I tell you about that kind of shit?”

I sighed. “Use protection, save for the one you love, blah blah, blah blah...”

My brother exhaled loudly. “Protection’s obvious, I know you’re not stupid. Save for the one you love is long gone. No, what I’ve been telling you about this is stay safe. How long have you been doing this kind of thing? Going out to clubs, with random people? Look, you just awakened your powers, so there’s no way you could’ve-”

“Defended myself?” I interrupted, “Yeah, maybe I got into a few fights. Maybe I had to run from one or two of ‘em. Where were you when all that was happening?” I looked over at him, “Oh, right. Leading the Royal Guard. Going on tour. Visiting shelters.”

“That doesn’t mean-”

“Doesn’t mean what?” I asked.

“That doesn’t mean it’s okay for you to endanger yourself.” Patrick said, “I know we don’t talk much, but...I worry about you. A lot.”

“I know.” I said, looking up at the ceiling and fixating on a rotating fan, “Trust me, I know.”

There was silence for an uncomfortable period of time, the sound of the fan, my heart beating and keys tapping being the only noise to fill the room.

“I’m sorry.” We said, at the same time.

“No, I am.” We said, again.

We laughed.

“Jinx,” Stooben said, “Soda.”

“Bastard.” I muttered, turning to the window and looking at the nighttime skyline of Colony 26, “Soda’s hella expensive here.”



Tucker’s Point of View.

I watched the city from the rooftop of the hotel, looking down at the blinking streetlights, headlight streams and checkerboard windows.

I wasn’t granted his kind of scenery very often. Living on a floating island situated in the middle of a great lake which, itself, was in the center of a supercontinent really limited your scenery options. Yes, the waterfall always provided a good view at night- but the most you could see from the edge of the island were mountaintops, patches of color and little specks of light at night that might have been cities.

It was different, being this close. I was still above it all, but I wasn’t as distant.

It was the difference between using a telescope and using your eyes.

Just trying to take it all in took my breath away.

“Someone looks a shell-shocked. You coming to terms with the modern world, soldier?”

I turned around.

Jeane had joined me on the roof, wrapped in a jacket she’d probably bought while me and Tabuu were devouring a buffet and Stooben was signing a ton of autographs.

I grinned. “Look, missy, just because I lived on them there island all mah life doesn’t mean I ain’t seen no city ‘fore.”

She gave me a blank look and I laughed.

“I’m joking,” I said, “What’s up?”

I was sitting on the edge of the roof and she came over to join me, sitting to my right and being very careful not to lose her balance.

“It’s about Tabuu,” she said, turning to me, “What’s he like?”

She stared directly into my eyes, and I realized that her opinion of me and of my best friend would be single-handedly determined by whatever I said to her next. This was the critical moment, the time for us to reach God Tier.

“Huge penis,” I said, holding up my arms and spacing them about a foot apart, “It’s crazy. I think he killed a dude with it once.”

She blinked.

Nailed it.

...What?

Shit. Abort, abort!

“Great personality,” I said, “Great sense of humor. Really dependable. Extremely trustworthy.”

He hates himself, he and I have the exact same set of jokes, he owes me a ton of money, and I’m pretty sure he’s never kept a secret in his life.

Okay, maybe I lied. A little.

She gave an exasperated sigh. “Look, be serious. I don’t want to hear you wingman and stuff. Just...talk. How do you know each other?”

“We met in elementary school,” I said, “He made a joke in a class and I laughed. Also, my mother knew his brother when they went to school or something. Our families have always been really close.”

“The Lane Lockheart duo lives on?” Jeane asked, giving a little grin.

“I guess so,” I said, “But I didn’t even know his name when I started to talk to him. He didn’t know mine, either. We just...became friends, just like that. We didn’t learn the name stuff until later. It’s freaky, really. Mom said it was the same for her when she met Patrick.”

“So every Lockheart gets their Lane? Is that it?” Jeane asked.

I shrugged. “One way or another, I guess.”

“What about his parents, though?” she asked.

I shook my head. “When he learned he was a chimera, he was happy to have power but he didn’t really care since it didn’t change too much on the personal basis. He thought it was a little weird that he ended up being a Light user, but he still wanted to finish learning the Lockheart Style. He got stuck on that after his grandpa died.”

“His grandpa died? That’s terrible.”

“A long time ago,” I said, “Three years, I think? He used to train with him a lot. He and Stooben kind of cut themselves off from everyone else for a few months after it happened. I think they left Colony 132 altogether during that time, went to the Lockheart Residences around Meiro. They deal with grief the same way, from what I’ve seen.”

“And that is?”

“Like this city,” I said, “They keep moving. They keep moving and they don’t stop until they’ve gotten where they want to go or they don’t have energy to keep going.”

She nodded. “And you?”

I laughed. “I run,” I said, “And I don’t stop running ‘til I forget what I was running away from.”

“Are you running away from something now?”

“You could say that,” I said, “I’m not running ‘cause I’m sad, though. I’m running ‘cause I don’t have a home to return to anymore.”

“Wait...why not?”

“The island where me and Tabuu lived,” I said, “It fell right outta the sky. He nearly died trying to stop it from happening. We’re homeless now.”

She shook her head. “I’m sure someone will come through for you guys.” Jeane said, optimistically.

I chuckled. “I doubt that,” I said, “Me and Chris have always done things on our own.”

Back to chapter select.

The sun's zoomin' in.
The Clash - London Calling

Maximilian Cynd II’s Point of View.

I raised my head as Edo and Xzelion entered the room, the pair looking slightly disheveled.

Our meeting room was properly lit by inverted torches on the walls, casting a warm glow across the polished wood meeting table, which, along with the ten seats that occupied it, were the only aspects of the room that weren’t seemingly defying gravity.

Everything else- the portraits on the wall, the decorations, and even the doorway- was inverted.

From an outsider’s perspective, in fact, the room would seem upside down. The floor and the ceiling had switched places, and to exit the room, one would have to climb the wall to the doorway.

At the end of the rectangular table, I sat. To my right and left were two of my strongest accomplices- Jonathan Gild, the Gravity Ancestor and Allen Canet, the Water Ancestor, respectively. Past them were Sadaharu Cen, the Ice Ancestor and Cobold Vaten, the Wind Ancestor. Further downward was Damien Lux, the Light Ancestor and Barchetta Vulc, the Fire Ancestor. Edo and Xzelion took their seats opposite each other at the end of the table, and opposite from me sat Shinn Terra, the strongest of the bunch and the Earth Ancestor.

“Report.” I said.

Edo nodded at Xzelion. “The bond with the Lockhearts and Lanes has been maintained even after all this time,” the Lightning Ancestor said, removing his cracked shades and pocketing them, “And I encountered a pair of them- one named Stooben, a Lockheart, apparent leader of the Royal Guard and a teenager named Tucker, descended from myself. My battle with them was cut short by the arrival of two more- I deemed that a battle of that scale would likely draw more attention, so I decided to leave. I did not find a chimera, but Edo did. He found two. Edo?”

“Well,” Edo said, “I had a brief encounter with the son of Cyria- apparently your attack failed to finish him, Maximilian- and the daughter of Vanity. I didn’t catch their names, but they didn’t make much of a fight. However, before I could capture them, their parents arrived on the scene.”

“Wait,” I interrupted sharply, “You mean their power has been restored?”

“Yes,” Edo said, “It would seem that way. Their powers seem to have reawakened with ours.”

I set my elbows on the table and put my hands together, resting my chin on my extended thumbs. I shut my eyes and took a few minutes to think.

The room was silent.

“So be it,” I said, making eye contact with each one of my followers, “Our old friends have returned to power, and their children are no doubt in training as we speak. If we wait, we will doubtlessly be overwhelmed by the combined force of the Chimeras and their parents.”

I stood from my seat. “There are your orders, Lockheart, Lane. Instigate the rebellion in Colony 51. Offer your assistance.”

Xzelion put on a new set of shades and smirked. “You got it, boss.” he said. Edo just chuckled to himself.

“Allen,” I said, “Move on Colony 1 with the greatest monsoon you can create. Have assistance from Cobold if you need it.”

Allen looked up at me with his piercing blue eyes, taking a moment to observe my expression before responding. “Sure thing,” the blonde responded, “I’ll get on it.”

“Jonathan,” I continued, “You can work alone. Find the Wind Chimera and her mother. Capture the Chimera, if possible, but kill Vanity.”

From beneath his black locks, I saw Jonathan sneer. “I would love to.” he said, “I owe Vanity a little visit anyways.”

“Damien,” I said, “The same goes for you. Find the Cynd child- if Cyria’s son survived, I’m sure Taka’s did, as well. Kill him and his mother. No mercy.”

Damien shrugged. “Alright then, boss. But what about you?”

“I’m going to find my mother,” I said, “And kill her. Terra, you come with me. Vulc, Sadaharu- you two go and wreak as much havoc as you please.”

I swiped my hand through the air, creating a dimensional rift above the surface of the table.

“Capture the chimeras- minus the Cynd- and kill the beasts. Are we clear?” I asked.

There was a murmur of assent.

“Good,” I said, “We move.”


Chapter Eighteen

Reunion II



Tabuu’s Point of View.

There are two kinds of pain: physical and emotional.

There are also two different ways to experience them: taking pleasure in them, masochistically, or simply not enjoying them at all.

So when Kat turned up out of nowhere, (well, everyone else sensed her but I’m the shittiest sensor there is) my initial reaction was a grin at seeing my best friend again but then a feeling of utter, unmatched terror at the look on her face.

She hugged me, which I thought was nice at first, except Kat’s a hell of a lot stronger than you’d think she is and I felt something crack. “K-Kat-” I gasped.

“If you do that again,” she whispered, “Disappear and make me think you’re dead, I’ll finish the job next time.”

I gave a feeble nod and she let go, returning immediately to her sunny disposition, which was such an unnerving change that I decided to never make Kat angry at me ever again, ever.

Stooben and Tucker laughed and Jeane gave this weird half-smile I didn’t know how to interpret.

Regardless, I just shrugged and grinned.

I was reunited with my two best friends and my brother and had made a new friend. Colony 51 is the world’s hottest spot for rest and relaxation, and after what I had been through in the past few days, I felt like nothing could be better.

We could probably only be staying for another day, though. Hector messaged Stooben a bit after we got there, saying that the search for the Great Beasts was proving to be quicker than expected. Cyria and Taka, the two fastest of the Great Beasts, had already located most of the Great Beasts, but the location of Skell, the Octo and Meiro, the Snake, remained unknown.

In addition, there was a rally for the anti-monarchy movement going on tonight.

I didn’t plan on telling anyone, but I was going to attend it.

Stooben would call it dangerous, Kat would worry, and Tuck would tagalong and risk breaking my cover. Jeane, well...I didn’t know about Jeane, yet, really, but I wasn’t going to take chances with some chick I barely knew.



Later that night, I made my move.

I stood in one of the hotel’s many elevators as it descended to the ground floor, taking deep breaths and mentally steeling myself for what I had to do.

I had changed myself into more of a “punk” outfit. Skinny jeans, black-and-red The Clash T-shirt, hair brushed down instead of shooting off in every direction...since I had ditched my traditional coat and shades, I was near unrecognizable. If someone saw my face, the jig would be up, but besides that, I was so far out of my usual outfit that someone looking for me probably wouldn’t even make a second glance.

Man, I thought, stepping into the lobby, These jeans are way too tight in the crotch department.

I walked through the lobby without making eye contact with the receptionists and stepped outside, making a sharp turn to the right and setting out to my destination, taking my phone from my pocket and opening Google Maps, viewing a map of Colony 51.

I remembered, briefly, an image of a poster I had seen for the rally.

2257 Lockheart Lane
Knock once for revolution, knock twice for rejection, knock thrice for entertainment

I resolved to knock twice on my way down the long, winding road to my destination.

After about thirty minutes of walking, I arrived at my destination with my phone in my pocket and my hands at my sides, staring at the warehouse door with a smirk. Could you choose a more obvious place for a rally?

I walked around the warehouse and knocked twice on the door without a doorknob.

A big guy that looked to be in his late thirties and reeked of beer opened the door for me. “Thanks, kid,” he said, looking down at me, “Some idiots thought you were supposed to knock on the warehouse door. Now, tell me- are you just a really ugly chick or a dude?”

I chuckled darkly. “Depends,” I said, “Wanna see my dick?”

I moved a hand to my zipper and the guy backed up, putting his hands up. “Okay, okay,” he rambled, “Point taken.”

I just hmphed and walked by him, punching him in the dick on my way by and entering the show.



The crowd was a haze of angry teenagers and stoic adults, stamping and cheering whenever the masked man onstage said something. He was wearing a white Guy Fawkes mask.

“For too long,” the masked man said, “We have been victim to the abuses of the Royal Guard and the overreach of the Cynds. Information about our former King and, indeed, our Ancestors, has been in scarce supply- and what of the ‘Great Beasts’? Rumor has it that they do exist, and they conspired with our current King to seal away Maximilian Cynd II centuries ago! My sources told me that he wanted democracy after his father died, but they stole it away!

The cheering was deafening.

Are people really this fucking stupid?

“Fortunately...” the masked man said, leaning against the podium and taking a few shuddering breaths into the mic, “Fortunately, the rightful King of Meiro has returned to us. So have our Ancestors. I introduce to you the two men for which this street was named...Edo Lockheart and Xzelion Lane!

The masked man exited the stage to the right and the night’s guests of honor stepped in from the left.

Cacophony broke out.

The crowd was going insane at the sight of these living legends, these men that they had to thank for their powers.

“I’m a Dark!” a woman screamed up front.

“Lightning!” came a cheer from behind me.

People were screaming their elemental affinities- those who weren’t related to the two Ancestors onstage remained wordless but cheered anyways until Edo put up a hand.

They lowered themselves to reverie and silence, watching Stooben’s direct Ancestor step up to the mic.

“Good evening,” Edo said, “And welcome to tonight’s rally. Me and Xzelion were sealed away for a long time, so we have a lot of...catching up to do, you could say. Do we have any...volunteers?”

I put my hands over my ears.

That does it, these people are fucking nuts, I’m out of here.

I turned around and started walking back the way I came, nudging aside people scrambling for the Ancestor’s attention, making my way back to exit.

But the door was closed.

And the man I had punched in the dick previously was back on his feet, giving a leer and cracking his knuckles. “Leavin’ so soon?” he threatened, “I’m a Dark-type. You ain’t gonna disrespect a Lockheart in front ‘o me.”

I laughed inwardly at the irony.

“Well,” I said, “That’s funny, ‘cause I happen to be a Light-type myself.” I conjured my sword and held it over my shoulder, “And I’ve fought punks much, much stronger than you.”

“Now,” I continued, mocking his accent, “I don’t want an’one gettin’ hurt, ruinin’ the festivities around ‘ese parts. Fuck off.”

“So Cyria’s child reveals himself.” said a voice from behind me.

I froze.

Edo Lockheart looked over my right shoulder. “You know,” he said, “It’s not a good idea to conjure your weapon at a rally with a sensor that happens to want to capture you. What on Earth were you thinking, boy?” He rested an arm on my left shoulder and walked with me, nodding at the doorman to open the door.

“Let’s go on a walk.” he said.

Back to chapter select.

A lonely night on Lockheart Lane.
Akira Senju - Lurking


Chapter Nineteen

Deicide



Tabuu’s Point of View.

What do I do!?

Edo nodded at the doorman as we walked out, his arm around my shoulders pulling me along. I didn’t fight. He had the advantage, for the moment. He steered me onto the sidewalk and we began to set off down Lockheart Lane.

“What’re you going to do with me?” I asked calmly, not betraying how I actually felt.

We walked for a little while before Edo looked over his shoulder and responded. “Nothing, yet. What’s your name?”

“Christopher Lockheart.” I said.

“Is that so?” We stopped and Edo let go of me, circling me and staring directly into my eyes. “You’re my descendant?”

“Well-”

“Wait.” Edo said, “I know how to check.”

He grabbed the wrist of my right hand and raised my blade before me, looking at the Lockheart crest at the base of the blade.

“So you are.” my-not Ancestor said, giving a grin, “Cyria made a child with a Lockheart woman? That’s an interesting thing. Dispel your weapon.

I thought about correcting him or defying him, but I decided against it. I dispelled my weapon, for now. If I was lucky, I could get out of this. He wouldn’t want to kill his descendant, would he?

“Where’s Xzelion?” I asked, changing the subject.

“I left Xzelion to deal with the rebels,” Edo said, “He can handle them. My main interest at the moment is you.”

“Why is that?” I asked.

“Well,” Edo said, “You’re my flesh and blood, yet you possess the powers of my greatest rival. A son of Light and Darkness quite unlike any other I have seen.”

“You’ve seen children of people with those affinities?”

“Of course,” Edo said, “Some back in my day and some now that I’ve come back. You’re different, though...you’re a pureblood Lockheart, unlike the rest.”

“If every Darkness user is your descendant,” I said, “Then what about the woman you married?”

Edo shook his head. “I’m a being composed of pure Darkness,” Edo said, putting his hand over his chest, “I was not taken from Maximilian to marry. I was taken to breed, just like the rest of the Ancestors were. We all had many, many different partners over the decades before settling down with our preferred child and starting our families...of all my children, I chose Vincent as my successor, because his Darkness could have rivalled my own if he honed it. You mistake me for a human.”

“You look human,” I said, “You have a mind of your own, don’t you? Free will?”

“You look like a human too,” Edo said, “But, like me, you are something more. You are a Chimera, and I am an Affinity. A living Affinity. I exist within all those that share my genetics...” He paused and extended his right arm and finger, pressing it directly against my chest, “I even exist inside you, Christopher. I am the Darkness that you never awakened, the power you desired to protect that was forced into submission by your father’s Light. I am a part of you, a part of Max, a part of anybody that has a Darkness affinity.”

“What of the Cynds? Sages? Taka?”

Edo shook his head. “The Cynds are Sages by default. They have no true affinity. Taka’s son gains his Darkness from his mother, not from me. The Cynds typically breed by creating a partner from their least-used affinities...Maximilian was the only exception, with Meiro. As a result, Maximilian’s son had a Gravity affinity but remained a Sage, and I imagine the same applies to Hector’s son as well. Meiro was strongest with Gravity but was a Sage as well, so Max inherited that, too...but that’s not important.”

I had taken a few steps back after he had poked my chest, making a distance of about five feet between us.

“Maximilian is not your enemy,” Edo said, “I am not, either. We simply wish to rid the world of the Great Beasts. It is not your fault that you’re the son of one. We do not seek to harm the chimeras for the fact they exist.”

“What are the Great Beasts, then? Why kill them?” I demanded.

“Because the Great Beasts sealed us away for opposing them,” Edo said, turning his back to me and pulling up his robe, “They’re responsible for the death of our Father and the Hell we’ve existed in for centuries.” Beneath his robe, all Edo wore was a set of white Hakama and wooden sandals. His entire body beneath his neck was torn with scars from the piercing ice he had been imprisoned with, the Cynd blood unable to remove them.

They were proof of the torment he had been in for all those decades.

“These are the scars from my time in Hell,” Edo snarled, turning to face me, “The horrors I experienced taught me a new meaning of agony. They drove me out of my mind, past the brink of sanity, until the pain brought me back again. I lost and found myself so many times that I’m not even certain I am the same person I used to be anymore...but the Great Beasts will pay for what they have done.”

On his chest, over his heart, in sharp contrast to his pale skin was a black tattoo. The Lockheart crest. Unconsciously, I moved my right hand over my heart.

“Do you understand?” Edo said, “My vendetta is justified, more justified than you know. You honestly want to side with your father after he abandoned you? The beasts that abandoned all of their children?”

“Hypocrite,” I snarled, “You’re no better. How many children did you make that you didn’t take in?”

“The women who I went with chose me. They wanted to share my power and ensure their children had power as well- I gave them much more than my seed. I gave them everything they wanted. I didn’t fuck them and leave them to die.” Edo growled.

“But that can’t be all,” I said, “There has to be another reason for your vendetta against the beasts. There’s something you’re leaving out. You opposed the beasts before you were sealed- what started it? It can’t have just been Meiro and Max. There has to be more.”

Edo smirked. “Perceptive. Just what I’d expect from you. The Darkness within you tells me much about you, you know. Yes, of course, you are right. The Great Beasts are the incarnations of the elements that make this universe...they were born with it. Your father, for instance, is a creature creating from the Light of the universe. They are Gods. We wish to live in a world without them.”

“I see. So that’s what drives you,” I said, conjuring my scythe, “Vengeance and power. That’s all I needed to know.”

Edo shook his head sadly and conjured his scepter. “But since you are a Lockheart,” he said, extending his weapon in my direction while I did the same, “Surely you know the truth of the blade, passed down from grandfather to grandson?”

“You know of the Lockheart Succession Line?” I asked.

We pulled our weapons back and started walking into the middle of the street, which was oddly empty. Lights in the windows demonstrated that the world was, indeed, awake, but I could hear nothing, not even crickets.

The world was silent on Lockheart Lane.

“Of course I do,” Edo said, stepping into the middle of the road and turning toward me completely, “I was the one who devised it. Your Darkness tells me you’ve already succeeded your grandfather.”

“My Darkness is correct.”

I shut my eyes tightly.

In a blur of anger, I slashed at Stane’s legs.

He fell to his knees in the snow and dropped his blade.

He held himself up by his hands and knees and I panted, still on my feet, holding my bloody blade at my side.

“Finish it.” Stane said, “You know that this is what it’s been coming to. I taught you everything I knew in the way of the blade, and you have surpassed my technique. I’m proud of you, Christopher.” He sat up straight and set his hands on his knees, closing his eyes and smiling, “I have done my duty as a grandfather. I can see my wife and son at last.”

“How do you know that?” I said, “How do you know there’s anything after death? Huh?”

“Even if there’s nothing there,” Stane said calmly, eyes closed, “I can join them in that nothingness. Strike the finishing blow. Succeed me.” His face was like that of a man discussing an event he was anticipating, like a wedding. He was happy.

Regardless, I couldn’t stop the tears as I raised my blade. I was stuck in the beginning position for the final strike for over five minutes, unable to make the swing.

“You can do it.” Stane said, sensing my hesitation, “Remember what I taught you.”

I bit my lip, readied myself, and swung.

The snow turned red.

There is honor in a blade.” I said, echoing the phrase my family had lived by for so long.

“Exactly.” Edo said, holding his right hand out before him and conjuring a white claymore quite like his scepter, with the black orb shrunk down at the bottom of the handle and the Lockheart crest at the base of the blade.

Darkness emanated from him person and I let the Light run through me, reforming my scythe into a katana and holding it out at him.

A cold breeze drifted through Lockheart Lane, and I lunged.

Back to chapter select.

Xzelion's Point of View.

As Edo walked the boy outside, I let the attendants of the rally know that, already, we had encountered opposition- that an assassin had been intercepted at the door and that my partner would be dealing with him.

The shift in the crowd was immediate.

Frenzied. Angry.

Just how I liked them.

They crowded outside before I could pretend to attempt to stop them, and I followed with a grin on my face, actually quite excited at the prospect of watching Edo fight his descendant. Edo wasn't exactly the strongest- not in close quarters combat, anyways.

He was most efficient as a mid-to-long range combatant, though he was also quite effective at giving the rest of us a boost in combat.

That isn't to say he's weak, of course. The Lockheart Style was invented by him, based on inherited memories of swordsmen from another universe- yours.

The difference between offensive light magic and offensive dark magic is that light magic loses its strength as it travels, but dark magic gains power the farther it goes.

Darkness is a chaotic element to house within a human body, but if controlled and released regularly, it is formidable.

I stepped outside, closing my eyes and inhaling the fresh air as a breeze rolled through Lockheart Lane.

And then I felt him.

"I may not be a sensor," I said, turning to my right, "But I keep tabs on familiar energy signatures, and I'm hardly deaf and blind. You're of my blood and power, so you feel familiar. Step out of the shade. It doesn't befit a Lane."

My descendant- the boy who I fought before- stepped out of his concealment, looking angry and rebellious and scared as ever. Fear did not do him any favors.

"How did you know I was there?" Tucker Lane asked.

I tapped my shades. "Edo made these for me," I said, "It protects my eyes and gives me better, ah, insight, you could say. What're you doing here?"

Tucker nodded towards the street, where the crowd was crowded around, held back by a dark barrier of Edo's creation.

"My best friend's in there," Tucker said, fear washing away at the mention of his partner, "I meant to get him out of here before he caused trouble."

I chuckled. "That's ironic," I said, taking a few steps forward, putting myself between the back of the crowd and my descendant, "That's the kind of thing Edo would do for me. Looks like the roles got reversed over the centuries. Who knew?"

Tucker conjured his cutlass and extended it towards me, giving a scowl.

The blade crackled with electricity.

I chuckled.

There was a deafening clap of thunder as it began to rain, and I held out my arms as two lightning bolts stabbed through the clouds and landed in my hands.

Twin lightning blades buzzed from both of my sides as my descendant grasped his cutlass with both hands.

"You are outmatched." I stated, simply, "What do you hope to accomplish?"

"He's not alone."

Edo's other descendant- Patrick Lockheart- stepped out of the shade, joining Tucker at his right side. His katana was unsheathed and emanating a dark energy so strong and sinister that my shades couldn't see through them- which was insane, because these were created to penetrate even Edo's level of concealment.

He was there the whole time?

"You're still outmatched," I said, letting my lightning blades rest at my side, "I was holding back last time. I didn't mean to draw attention to myself."

The crowd behind me became louder and I gave an irritated sigh, slashing my right arm through the air and creating a wall of lightning to prevent their interference.

"They're mine!" I shouted.

"Why the chivalry?" Patrick asked, holding his katana toward me.

I smirked. "Apparently you weren't listening last time."

A gargantuan lightning bolt thundered through the sky and crashed into the top of my head, coursing through my body and being released at every seam, the cement beneath my feet exploding from the pressure.

I entered my stance- crouched low, with my feet spaced apart and either of my blades above my head. "I don't want this to be too easy."

Like lightning, I struck.


Chapter Twenty, Part 1

The Battle Beside Lockheart Lane




System of a Down - Kill Rock 'N Roll


Patrick's Point of View.

I held my sword hand up, creating a barrier of darkness that deflected the lightning back into the stormy sky.

I leaped to my left, grabbing Tucker as I went and pulling him out of the way of Xzelion's next volley of lightning.

Xzelion had a smirk on his face, the charge exploding from his person as he stabbed his left-arm lightning blade toward us again, sending another bolt in our direction.

I couldn't counter this one.

Tucker lunged his cutlass forward and took the current before it hit me, but his arm was pushed back from the force of it and the back of his right hand slammed into my chest.

The momentary delay was all I needed. The darkness circling my person gathered to soften the blow and snaked from my body onto Tucker's hand, wrapping his hand firmly around his blade and then joining the lightning on it.

Tucker's cutlass was bursting with black lightning, and he was losing his footing, unable to cope with the dark energy and the Lightning over-charge at the same time.

"Extend it!" I shouted, "Extend the blade!"

Tucker's cutlass extended rapidly, a curved blade of black lightning expending the charge from Xzelion's final lightning bolt and slamming into the chest of Xzelion Lane, releasing the full power of the Lockheart Lane technique into the body of one of its namesakes.

Xzelion was blasted off his feet and crashed into the wall of lighting he created, which quickly entered his body.

He landed on the cement face-first, the crowd behind him roaring their disapproval and charging forward-

"I SAID THEY'RE MINE!" Xzelion roared, pushing himself to his knees, "THIS IS MY FIGHT!"

Lightning exploded from his person, lashing into and dissolving the unlucky few who had come to help him to his feet. The crowd, now fearful, backed away, attentions trapped between the two battles occuring on Lockheart Lane.

Xzelion gained footing and roared at the sky.

The sky responded with a bolt of lightning so massive it blasted me and Tucker into the wall behind us as it carried Xzelion into the clouds.

"Is he running away!?" Tucker shouted.

My blood ran cold. "No." I realized, "He's not."

"I AM LIGHTNING," Xzelion screamed, his voice echoed in the repeated claps of thunder, "THE RAIN TRANSFORMED! I WILL NOT BE DEFEATED BY MY OWN SPAWN!"

"Tucker-!" I shouted.

"YOU WILL PAY FOR YOUR INSOLENCE."

"TUCKER, RUN-"

"ULTIMATE LIGHTING STYLE! MJOLNIR!"

A dragon descended from the sky.

A gigantic, snake-like monstrosity composed of pure white lightning, illuminating the storm and the night, an unstoppable force of pure energy.

And it was heading right for us.

"EVERYBODY RUN!" I screamed, at Tucker, at the crowd, "IT'S TOO STRONG!"

The rebels didn't seem to agree with me.

They were awestruck, staring up at the lightning dragon descending from the sky.

I was panicking.

There was no rational, possible way to stop an attack that powerful. The dragon itself dwarfed the size of a skyscraper, in both height and width- I couldn't even see the end of the thing, if there was an end to it.

The energy signature I felt coming from it was so immense I thought I would puke, a force beyond mortal comprehension, something that no man on Trine could even hope to contain, that God Himself would be unable to stop-

A woman landed in front of me. Her back was to me and she was crouched low and reaching skyward.

A sound- a sound that could only be described as the city itself opening its mouth and screaming- came from around and above us. A wind so strong I could feel it cutting me, that I could barely keep my feet on the ground-

"Jeane!" I screamed, "I TOLD YOU AND KAT TO MEET ME AT THE AIRPORT-"

The Wind Chimera stood, palms held skyward, forcing the full power of twenty tornadoes into the maw of the lightning monster, pushing it back into the air.

Tucker stabbed his cutlass toward the dragon and it began to extend as we were lifted off our feet by the power of Jeane's wind current, sent flying into the maw of Xzelion's strongest attack.

Suddenly, I knew what Tucker was trying to do.

It was insane.

But it was probably our only hope.

Tucker held his cutlass with both of his hands and pulled it back over his head as it kept extending, and as he swung it at the lightning dragon, I slammed my katana into his cutlass and a blade of black lightning stabbed through the creature's open mouth.

The dragon itself turned black.

Then exploded.

I can't even begin to describe the deafening noise that followed, because the sound, well, nearly actually destroyed my eardrums.

The force that was expelled sent me and Tucker plummeting to our deaths, but for a moment, we were sandwiched between the force and wind before crashing into the ground at a still-very-painful-but-not-quite-lethal pace.

Tucker was knocked completely unconscious, but I was still able to pull myself onto my ass and look at the scene before me.

There was a smoking crater in the cement where Xzelion landed, and a girl who was probably not that much younger than me looking over me and Tucker with an expression that reminded me quite much of my late younger sister, apologizing for the force of the wind that had saved our lives, that any more would've killed us even worse than the fall would've-

Xzelion's arm grabbed the edge of the crater and he pulled himself out of it, shirt gone and pants scorched half-off.

His shades were nowhere to be seen, and his entire upper body was covered with scars from stab wounds- the ones he had endured from the ice in his seal.

He was covered in sweat, blood and dirt, absolutely exhausted.

His unprotected eyes met mine.

His eyes were strange. Where a normal person would have irises, he had what looked like a stylized lightning bolt in each eye- a bolt, I realized, that was identical to the Lane Family Crest.

He was on his stomach, the only thing stopping his face from hitting the ground being his arms holding him up. His eyes bored into mine, saying the words that neither of us had the energy to say.

How can you be this strong?

At the same time- or maybe a little bit before his- my eyes shut and the back of my head hit the cement.

We laid outside, unconscious, in the pouring rain beside Lockheart Lane.

Back to chapter select.

Yoko Shimomura - L'Eminenza Oscura 1


Chapter Twenty, Part 2

The Battle on Lockheart Lane



Tabuu’s Point of View.

Golden Fang!” I shouted, lunging forward.

Edo dodged and I teleported to his right, lunging again. He leaped high into the air and I teleported facing his back, blasting toward him once more.

Times three!” I shouted, stabbing through him.

Wait...what?

As the technique ended and as I began to fall towards the ground, I turned back. Edo was standing there, suspended in midair by his darkness and...untouched?

I landed in a crouching position, turning back to face Edo, who was simply floating there in the air, his claymore levitating in front of him. He looked down at me and his eyes gave a sinister yellow glint. The darkness emanating from him grew in its density and expanded, forming the visage of wings.

Why didn’t my hit connect? What the fuck is going on!?

Our battle had already drawn attention.

People were crowding out of the warehouse and surrounding buildings and lining up on opposite sides of the street, wondering whether or not to interrupt the duel. I saw Xzelion watching with a smirk on his face in the corner of my eye, and I gave a shudder.

Stay out of this,” Edo commanded with a booming voice that didn’t sound like his own, “This boy is mine.

What have I gotten myself into? I’m fighting the Lockheart. This is the guy Stane said I’m supposed to look up to, someone he looked up to.

A dark barrier rose around the street, transparent but with black honeycomb-esque frames, stopping anyone from the sidewalk from interfering.

At least he has a sense of chivalry. But even one-on-one... I gulped, There’s no way I can win. I’m fucked.

There was a blinding flash of red.

Christopher. Don’t you dare give up.

Dad?

I stared up at Edo with a scowl and his grin widened. “Cyria,” he boomed, pointing towards me, “You can watch this battle with a front row seat! You’re next.

He can go intangible at will, my father’s voice explained in my head, The only catch is that he can’t move while intangible. The darkness that emanates from him can, though, so be careful!

I charged my blade with Howl and hurled it at Edo, who merely hmph-ed as it went through him.

That’s not going to work!” he shouted.

I charged my body with Golden Fang and blasted for Edo, who grabbed his claymore and raised it over his head.

“Wasn’t supposed to!” I shouted, “Howling Raid!

In midair, I stopped myself and made I pulling motion with my right hand. My Howl-charged blade tore through Edo’s midsection and returned to me.

Edo slumped in his platform of darkness and I joined him on it, dealing a vicious combo and kicking him off of it.

The dark platform dissolved when his feet left it and I hit the ground before Edo did.

He phased through the cement in his fall.

There was silence.

“I was wrong to underestimate you, son of the Golden Fang,” Edo said, from all around me, “Like your father, you prove to be an...interesting opponent.”

Spikes of darkness emerged from the pavement all around the area, and I became aware that it was becoming darker...much, much darker.

With a flick of my wrist, the blade in my hand shined a bright light that helped illuminate a small radius around me.

Watch the shadows, Cyria warned, He could be anywhere, anything. You know how, in a dark room, things seem to morph out of the corner of your eye? How you see something in a bathroom mirror before you turn the light on?

It’s like that. Don’t be scared, I’m with you. You can do this.

I took a few cautious steps forward, wondering if the people outside could see this, could sense Edo’s location, even.

“Fear the unseen much?”

I felt something brush against my right arm and I gave a Howl-backed slash, releasing a wave of scarlet energy that cut through the darkness and clashed against Edo’s barrier.

There was nothing there.

“Stop fucking with me!” I shouted, “Golden Fang!

I stabbed my blade skywards and the entire street returned to light.

In the corner of my eye, a gigantic black troll-like thing leaped towards me and I barely managed to dodge it.

I lunged for it when it passed me, but it just stopped and I went right through, stumbling at the unexpected momentum. The beast slashed open my back with a swing of its...arm?

I gave a pained howl that sounded like a wolf’s, falling to my knees.

I heard something behind me and turned.

Edo had returned to his normal form, and he was holding his claymore at his side.

I was in so much pain. Move, I told myself, MOVE.

But fear- fear of him, fear of pain- rooted me to the spot.

Edo laughed. Not the gracious kind he did whenever he complimented me during our two battles, but a jeering kind, the way you laugh at someone who just fucked up in all the right ways.

“Is that all it took?” Edo asked, his voice returned to normal, “A single blow to render you immobile? I didn’t hit your spine. I know you have the strength to move right now. Are you scared?”

Chris, come on, get up get up get up, I love you

“That’s just pathetic,” Edo continued, shadowing me and raising his claymore, “Tell you what, I’ll hit you with the flat end of the blade. You’ll be out like a light. No more pain, no more fighting...I can tell you’ve had enough of it. You already killed one man, why keep fighting?”

Get up. GET UP. Come on, just hold him off a little longer and I’ll be there, you can fight, I can fight, we can fight

But I couldn’t move.

Edo swung his claymore and, without even thinking, I teleported behind him and leaped to my feet.

Pain. I don’t want to feel any pain.

I blocked it out. I don’t know how I did it, but one moment I was hurting all over and the next I didn’t feel a thing.

I’m not scared. I’m not scared of you.

I’m not scared of you!” I shouted, leaping forward.

Edo just smirked as me and my blade fell through him. I turned my back and our swords clashed, gold against white.

I pulled back my blade and leaped forward, swinging again.

This time, Edo stopped my sword with his own and took a step back as I landed and continued my assault, barraging him with an array of slashes and stabs I learned in the snow.

Stane’s technique. Edo’s technique.

Patrick’s technique. My technique.

Lockheart Style!” I shouted, “Flower!” I swung for his legs and he slashed my blade away, “Sun!” I swung for the top of his skull and he countered once more, “RAIN!” I leaped as high as I could as Edo stumbled backward, charging my blade with Howl and releasing it as I came down, blasting Edo with a scarlet crescent and slashing through his entire upper body.

I landed on the ground in a crouch, grasping my blade with both hands, holding it in the direction of Edo’s feet.

I heard the dark barrier shatter, heard the voices of Patrick, Tucker, and Jeane.

I heard a roar of thunder, felt a torrent of rain land on me.

Finally, I opened my mind to the Darkness, where my non-Chimera powers resided. I could not use the Darkness, but I could finally sense them, I could feel the energy of everybody around me- the massive spikes of Edo and Xzelion, the haze of the crowd, and-

They’re fighting Xzelion. That’s why it’s storming.

I turned to my right. There they were, my three friends, locked in combat with Tucker’s ancestor. A gargantuan dragon of lightning was bearing down upon them.

Wait...Edo’s energy signature is still...

Forgetting somebody?

I felt his foot against my face.

He kicked me, hard, breaking my nose and sending me into the air.

I crashed to the cement.

All the Golden Fangs and Howls and Howling Fangs and shit had finally caught up to me. I was exhausted.

I could barely draw up the energy to move, and Edo had long regenerated from the damage I had dealt to him, stepping toward me with a grin on his face.

You’re not powerless, Cyria said, You still have some Light energy left. Power efficiency, remember? You can do it. You can do it. Channel my knowledge.

I used what little energy I had- which suddenly seemed like a lot more than I thought- and I pulled myself to my feet.

“Just give up.” Edo said, holding his claymore towards me, “I don’t want to hurt you too badly. I have nothing against you.”

I smirked. “Yeah?” I said, raising my katana, which pulsed with a golden glow, “I have everything against you and a shit-ton of anger to work out!”

Edo sighed. “So be it,” he said, “I hope Max will forgive me, but...your will simply won’t give in. I’m going to have to kill you.”

He grabbed the black orb at the bottom of his claymore and tore it off.

His blade disappeared and the orb grew in size, to the size it had when it was at the end of his scepter.

Darkness burst from it.

It swallowed his arm and he pointed forward.

A wave of darkness shaped like his hand grabbed for me and I leapt backward, activating Golden Fang for the speed to dodge. Teleporting would take up too much energy in my current state.

Another arm of darkness grabbed for me and I leapt in the air, realizing Edo’s entire body had been swallowed by it now.

The hands slammed into the ground beneath me and columns of dark energy rose around me, connecting to each other and creating a cage which quickly shrunk and trapped me inside of it.

I struggled through the darkness.

It was suffocating me. I felt something like a tongue against my cheek and I felt something stab into my side.

It was eating me.

My struggle continued as the darkness lowered itself closer to ground level.

I forced my head out, sucking in a deep breath of sweet, sweet oxygen and some rainwater. Edo looked up at me, the darkness covering merely his right hand now as he grasped the orb tightly, manipulating the dark energy to do his work.

“Such a shame,” Edo said, “That my bloodline dies with the man fighting Xzelion and the boy in front of me. I expected better from my descendants.”

The crowd of rebels cheered this.

Me, being devoured by Edo’s energy. Edo, lecturing his adoptive descendant.

In that moment, all I felt was rage.

The darkness swallowed me again.

I could feel more teeth stabbing into me. More tongues, even.

Pat’s out there, and Tuck is, too. And Jeane.

I can’t die like this. Not now, in front of them.

I gave a frustrated roar and pulled myself out of the darkness again.

Edo chuckled. “You aren’t as strong as your father,” he said, “Just give it up.”

“Sure,” I shouted, breaking my arms free and charging with Golden Fang again, breaking free of Edo’s darkness, “Sure, I’m not experienced!” I landed on the ground before him and a wall of darkness quickly came up between us, spikes protruding from it and extending in my direction, “Sure,” I screamed, “I don’t know how to control my power or myself!”

I swung my blade, releasing a wave of Howl that destroyed the dark spears and running forward. “SURE,” I screamed, at the top of my lungs, “I’M NOT A GOD!” I Golden Fanged through the wall of Darkness, stopping before Edo, holding the orb of darkness in his hand and looking stunned.

SURE, I’M NOT MY FATHER!” I howled and slashed, removing the hand Edo was holding the orb in. “I’M A WHOLE NEW GAME! HOWLING FANG!” I charged my blade with the energy and held it backward, preparing to deal the finishing blow.

“But you are my descendant.” Edo said, calmly, accepting his fate.

I’m adopted.” I snarled, stabbing Edo through the heart.

Howl detonated, destroying the left half of Edo’s chest entirely.

His eyes were blank as he hit the pavement.

I realized I had expended the last of my energy.

The roar of the crowd confirmed to me that I was, in fact, fucked.

Damn, I thought, losing my balance, Talk about a Pyrrhic victory.

I hit the ground, hard.

I was screwed either way.

Back to chapter select.

The sea swallows the world into darkness.
Clark Powell - Even In Death (T'Morra's Belly Mix)


Chapter Twenty-One

Drifting



Tabuu's Point of View.

I opened my eyes to find that I was drowning.

I was drifting into the deepest depths of the ocean, so far down that not even the strongest ray of light could pierce through. I realized my mouth was open and decided to close it, because if I didn't I would lose...oxygen?

I exhaled.

Bubbles full of carbon dioxide floated away from me, and I inhaled a mouthful of water to find that, indeed, I could breathe, and that I wasn't being crushed by water pressure.

Where am I?

"That's a very good question," said a familiar voice, "But I'm afraid I can't answer you."

My feet touched something solid and I stood upright, blinking and looking around.

As if on command, the area around me became faintly illuminated, revealing that I was standing on a ruined stone tower atop a submerged mountain, the endless ocean stretching further downward, into the darkness.

I did not recognize the place at all, and I turned to face the source of the voice to let him know that no, smartass, I have no idea where we are-

Edo stood at the other end of the roof, arms crossed. He was looking at me expectantly, apparently just as confused as I was.

"Dammit," I muttered, "Why can't you stay dead like a normal person?" I held out my right hand and conjured my blade-

Or, at least, I meant to.

My blade didn't come.

I realized that me and Edo were wearing the same clothes- long, billowing black robes with the hood off.

"Why aren't you dead?" I demanded.

Edo looked affronted. "That's not a nice thing to say to somebody. I've been waiting a long time for you, you know. Eighteen years."

I blinked.

Edo, apparently understanding my confusion, unzipped his robes, displaying his chest.

No scars. Just the Lockheart tattoo.

"Who are you?" I asked.

"Edo Lockheart." he said, "But not the same Edo Lockheart you fought."

"...What?"

"I stopped being that Edo the moment he conceived the child that you know as Vincent Lockheart. I lived within Vincent, because Vincent had a Darkness Affinity- splintered versions of me- of Edo- exist within anybody that has a Darkness Affinity. Me, in particular? I stopped being Vincent's Edo when he had his child, which I took residence inside."

"You left him?"

"No, no. The original Edo within Vincent existed there until Vincent's death- I was that Edo for some time, but a duplicate of me at the time of his son's conception was created. I am Edo as he lived within the souls of Vincent Lockheart, then Alexander Lockheart, then Stane Lockheart, then Amadeus Lockheart, then Michelle Lockheart...then you."

What?

"What?" I repeated aloud.

Edo blinked. "I know it's a bit confusing, but I said it as simply as I could. I'm Edo inherited from your mother. Michelle Lockheart."

"No, no," I shook my head, "I've never heard of any 'Michelle'. I'm adopted, I'm not Lockheart by blood- you've made some kind of mistake, man, I recognize the other names, but Amadeus only had one child, and that was Patrick, and Patrick didn't have any siblings-"

"You repeat what you were told," Edo said, "But not the truth."

"...Patrick lied to me? S-Stane lied to me!? Why would they fake-adopt me!? HUH!?" I was quickly becoming hysterical, advancing on the man at the edge of the roof, the adoptive Ancestor, the real Ancestor, the man I killed but the man who lived, the-

"Yes." Edo said, simply, stopping me in tracks, "They lied to you to protect you."

"Fro-from what!? Having a mother!?"

Edo shook his head. "No," he said, "From being stained with your mother's reputation."

"R-reputation!? I've looked at the family tree, I've looked it up in libraries and on the Internet- MICHELLE LOCKHEART DOESN'T EXIST!"

"Not in recorded history, no." Edo said, "She was wiped away, the people involved brainwashed into forgetting her, the people she killed unremembered-"

"K-killed!?"

"Your mother was a sociopath," Edo said, staring me directly in the eyes, "And I know this from living within her for as long as I did. She tried to control it, of course, tried to hold the murderous urges at bay- Patrick tried to help, so did their parents, so did Stane- but her thirst for blood became too much for even them to handle. For a single week, your mother completely lost control of her instincts and went on a rampage across Trine."

I couldn't move, couldn't think, couldn't look away from him-

"To escape, your mother killed Amadeus and his wife. Patrick wasn't strong enough to hold her back, but he, at least, managed to survive. From the Lockheart Residence in Colony 100, she tore down from the mountains, creating an avalanche that flattened Colony 85 and severely damaged the other colonies ascending the mountain. She slaughtered the survivors in Colony 85 and moved onward, carving a path of destruction with little effort, killing people who got in her way or were just in the wrong place."

"Why?" I croaked.

"Because she wanted to." Edo said, simply, "The Darkness in her heart had been held back for too long. For twenty long years, she forced herself into pacifism, hoping to curb the urges, hoping to deny who she really was- but it didn't work. She lost control and killed, and wrecked, and rampaged...do you want to know how many people were killed, directly or indirectly, by your mother during that week?"

I didn't respond.

"She killed a little under seven hundred people."

"And they covered it up!?" I shouted, "Bullshit!"

"They did," Edo said, "Because the Lockheart Family is one of the oldest in Trine, and they would not allow their reputation to be tarnished. The relatives of the survivors had their memories wiped of the deaths- or modified, where possible, displaying an accident where there was a murder-"

"That's impossible!" I screamed, "That's- that's-"

"What happened." Edo said, "That's what they did. Did you know that with a slight tweak of your brain chemistry, you could become a murderer yourself? Did you know that memories are just like files in a computer, except harder and easier to modify? If a file has been forged, a techie can find out. But if a memory is created...no, a brain cannot accept that a memory is false. To deny your memory is to deny yourself, and that's not something the human mind is capable of. All it takes is little tweaks...and people will believe anything."

I couldn't move.

"This was mostly Stane's doing," Edo said, "And the Royal Guard was forced to carry it out. Then, after digitally and physically wiping away the records of Michelle Lockheart, each and every Royal Guard member involved was summoned to have their minds wiped of the incident...or, if they refused, to be killed."

"...What!?"

Edo laughed. "The Royal Guard is completely controlled by the whims of the Nine Ancient Families and the Cynds. The Lockhearts hold the highest authority in the Royal Guard- that's why the Lockheart Style is taught to every member, and that's why a Lockheart male is always the supreme commander of the force."

"...But...why!?"

"You're still just a kid," Edo said, "The aspects involved in honor- and preservation of that honor- are far, far above your head."

I stared at the ground.

The water cast an eerie glow on the stone tower's roof, of shadows that looked like tentacles out of the corner of your eye.

"Who stopped her?" I asked.

"Hm?"

"My mother. Who stopped her 'rampage'?"

"Oh, that would be your father, Cyria."

"But...I thought his powers were dormant during that time?"

"No, no," Edo said, shaking his head, "Not dormant, they just couldn't be...controlled. At all. Opposites attract, you see, and he was drawn to the immense darkness she emitted at the peak of her slaughter. She, likewise, was drawn to his Light- sometimes strong, sometimes weak, sometimes not there at all. They met in battle in Colony 9, and he defeated her. That defeat returned her to her bearings...and upon realizing what she had done, she took her own life."

"What!?" I shouted.

"Well, she tried to. Should really learn to not pause at times like that...gives people the wrong idea. Your father used his power to heal her, and took her back home...after that, Stane did what needed doing, your mother spent the rest of her life at the Lockheart Residence in Colony 100, and your father fell in love with her."

I sighed and put my head in my hands. "This is so fucked up." I groaned, "So she killed my grandpa? And I killed her grandpa? Way to fuck with the Lockheart Succession Line. And then, Patrick...he's my uncle now?"

"You're remarkably under reacting to the other aspects of this."

"No, no," I said, shaking my head, "My dad getting a boner when my mom was standing knee-deep in bodies is disturbing in and of itself, and no, I don't want to learn the shitty love story of bloody mary and her wolf in shining armor- just- no. So done with this."

Edo raised an eyebrow.

"This is my soul, huh?" I said, taking a few looks around, "Pretty, uh...dark and depressing."

"Hey," Edo said, "I think it's pretty comfortable."

"I think somebody needs to turn the lights on."

I snapped my fingers in the water and the area brightened- a ray of sunshine found its way to the tower, but the rest of the ocean remained swallowed in darkness.

"My eyes!" Edo shouted, covering his face.

I shrugged. "Buy some shades."

I looked up, into the light. "Well," I said, "Seeya around. I'm blowin' this dump."

And I gained consciousness in the outside world, in a familiar hotel room, in a bed beside another bed, where Tucker, Kat, Patrick, Jeane, and two people I didn't recognize- a man and a woman- were sitting, facing me.

"Were you, uh...watching me sleep?"

Back to chapter select.

They don't understand.

Tabuu's Point of View.

Kat shook her head. "No, you started to make a lot of, um, noises, so we came to check on you."

"What...noises?"

"Nothing we could distinguish," said the man in the room I didn't recognize, "It was really slurred. I, personally, couldn't put it together. You, Walkazo?"

The man turned to his left, where the woman in the room I didn't recognize was sitting at the edge of Tucker's bed and looking vaguely in my direction. She had long, blue hair and bright red eyes that were a lighter color than Nalia's- she shook her head.

Guess she doesn't talk much.

"Okay," I said, straightening and putting my feet on the floor, sitting on the edge of my bed, facing them, "I have three questions, and I want them to be answered in order. One," I raised my right pointer finger, "What happened?"

Patrick sighed, but Tucker was the one to respond. "Me and Stoob got in an awesome fight with Xzelion." my best friend said, excitedly, "And we won, too!"

Jeane "ahem"ed.

"Jeane helped." Tucker added, hastily.

"And I came in and rescued you." Kat said.

"Huh?"

"When you lost consciousness after, um, killing Edo, the crowd rushed you. I got there just in time to ward them off and take you back here. Me and Jeane took you, Pat, and Tuck back here...and, these people helped!"

Kat smiled brightly, apparently glad to have met two new people.

I turned my gaze toward Walkazo and the other guy, who was looking at me with an expression I could only describe as...morbid interest. "Two," I said, pointing at them with two fingers, "Who the fuck are these people?"

"Doctor Javelin Noir," the man said, "Royal Guard 3rd Class. Walkazo here is my assistant."

"Hot secretary?"

"No, she blows things up."

Walkazo beamed.

I realized that two out of three women in the room were psychotic. Great. Looks like my crazy people problems have multiplied!

"What's your third question?" Patrick asked.

I stared him directly in the eye. "Michelle Lockheart." I snarled.

His eyes widened and he paled. His lips opened as if he was going to say something, but he couldn't seem to form words.

It was all the confirmation I needed.

"Who?" Walkazo asked, finally speaking.

I didn't bother.

I forced myself to my feet and found that, apparently, my body wasn't quite ready for that.

But I ignored the pain.

"Chris!" Kat shouted.

"Fuck off." I growled.

I stormed across the room, not caring that I was hurting all over. I found the bag I had bought and opened it, putting on a new shirt and stepping outside-

"Chris, wait!" Patrick shouted, running after me.

I stopped in the hallway as my brother- my uncle- caught up to me. "Wait," he said, "Please, I can explain-"

"I don't want to hear it." I said, not turning back to face him, "If you follow me, I won't come back. Leave me alone."

I walked to the elevators at the end of the hallway and entered the one on the right without turning back.

It was empty, and nobody followed me.


Chapter Twenty-Two

Not Your Kind Of People



I found myself in a club, where a woman onstage crooned karaoke and a group of horny, drunken men watched her. There was a bar in the middle of the place and a dance floor on the other side, which was surprisingly populated by people who liked to dance to shitty singers.

Perfect.

I sat at the bar and the bartender came to me nigh-instantly.

"ID?" he asked.

I grabbed my wallet and flipped it open.

The bartender gave a nervous chuckle. "I'm, uh, sorry, Mister Lockheart, but I can't sell alcohol to people younger than-"

"If you don't give me a drink," I threatened, slamming my fist on the counter, "I'll buy this fucking place and fire you."

The bartender gave a terrified blink. "Wh-what would you like, Mister Lockheart?"

"Vodka." I said, simply, "The whole fucking bottle."

"Um, isn't that a little-"

"Are you calling me lightweight? GET MY FUCKING DRINK!"

The club- even the woman onstage- went silent at my outburst. The bartender waved his assurance around the room and nodded at me, turning his back to find the bottle.

The shitty singing continued. The people returned to normal. My bottle was set in front of me. The song reached its climax, and the random woman walked offstage.

I took a drink as some other chick took her place.

Lotta chicks doing karaoke tonight. You aren't gonna get recognized in this shithole, sweetheart.

The song started and the woman opened her mouth.

We are, not your kind of people, you seem kind of phony, everything's a lie...

My attention snapped to her.

Her lips were maybe an inch from the mic, but she wasn't causing any static exhales. She grasped it with both of her hands and shut her eyes, gently swaying her hips as she continued.

We are, not your kind of people, something in your makeup, don't see eye-to-eye...

She had long, ebony hair that went to her midriff, impossibly white, polished skin and lips, subtle but full, a frame like- okay, I've only taken a few sips, there is no way I'm drunk enough to see shit like this-

We are not your kind of people, don't want to be like you, ever in our lives...we are, not your kind of people, right when you start talkin', there's nothin' but white noise...

She wore a black, form-fitting jacket- and damn, what a form- and tight black jeans. She moved to the song like a snake, licking and blowing every fucking syllable- she wasn't singing a song, she was the song.

Okay, maybe I've had a little too much to drink...

I stopped ogling her and took another gulp, hoping that I'd get drunk enough to not remember whatever stupid thing I decided to do within the next ten minutes.

I couldn't tell you why that's where I went when I was feeling like that.

Between murdering two of my family members, my mother being a crazy bitch, my dad apparently liking that, my brother being my uncle and lying to me for my entire life, and my shitty luck in general over the past week or so- finding out everything in my life was a lie, getting stabbed and kidnapped, learning the truth, going home, trying to stop the island from falling, getting stabbed again, failing to stop the island from falling, getting murdered, getting revived by my father, fighting my father, meeting some chick with similar parental issues, and being beaten and exhausted beyond belief by all of the shitty twists I had endured since my eighteenth birthday...

Well, look.

If that isn't cause for getting drunk off your ass, I don't know what is.

Seriously. Fuck all this.

Do you know what I would give for everything to go back to normal? To being that one powerless dude living by himself, in an apartment, with no job and no future and anything money could buy in his reach?

To just sleeping and eating and partying and fucking and playing games and reading books and masturbating and sleeping some more?

There is nothing I wouldn't give for a return to the peaceful, shitty normality my life used to be. Awkwardly being best friends with a member of the opposite sex, cracking dick jokes with my best bro, learning cool stuff from my brother-

I took another drink, longer this time, gulping and gulping and gulping-

Running around, trying to feel good, longing to be loved...it doesn't take much for someone to shut you down. When you build a shell, build a mummy in your mind, you can't sit still and you don't like hangin' round the ground...they don't understand!

But I can't go back, can I?

That's all fucking gone.

All I have left is myself, and this stupid power, and my fucking father and my fake brother and my best friends and my not-girlfriend and-

Another drink, fuck, it burns-

You drove by a sign, you were sleeping, you came to see, the whole connection...and then I would, I'd start in my head, the joke's only, for open ears...

I guzzled the alcohol like it was the fucking elixir of life, desperate for some kind of pain beside what I was feeling, something that'd burn so hard and fuck my brain so good I could just forget all of this, that I'd wake up in the morning and it'd all be okay-

I finished the bottle and slumped over the counter for a minute, trying to find a reason to look up, stand up and get out of here.

I drunkenly decided to check out the chick again, get a good mental image I could work with later-

She was staring directly at me as she reached the climax of her song, pitch-black eyes that gravitated mine to hers.

We are...extraordinary people...we are, extraordinary people...

The song ended and the people gathered roared with applause.

I would've cheered or clapped, but she was staring dead at me, the eye contact paralyzing me with...fear? Arousal?

I don't even fucking know.

She sauntered offstage, toward me.

I spent the night with her, but I don't remember much else beside the sweat and the clawing.

Now, you may be wondering why some goddess would up and take me home that night.

I'll tell you, it's not because I'm particularly sexy or anything.

I mean, you could find out. If you want.

But no, there was a reason for it.

But if she told me that night, I lost it somewhere between the sheets.

Back to chapter select.

The morning after it all.
Franz Ferdinand - Send Him Away


Chapter Twenty-Three

Snakes 'n Shades



Tabuu's Point of View.

"My brain is...fuck..."

I rolled out of an unfamiliar bed, hitting the polished wood floor incredibly hard and giving a pained groan. I was naked and noticed that I had a number of claw marks and bruised bites all over my body.

So, Kat, I fell into and accidentally had sex with a bundle of snakes...

Seriously, holy shit, the bites hurt.

The woman- fuck bro you don't even know her name, nice- entered the room, dressed in a robe and having apparently just finished taking a shower. She smelled nice, which is something I picked up on because ever since my powers have awakened, I've had a pretty awesome sensory boost- and didn't even go colorblind!

"Hey." I said, drunkenly trying my best to not look like an idiot, being naked on a wooden floor and all.

She chuckled. "You're silly." she said in a soft, airy voice completely unlike the one she'd used when singing last night.

Hey, fuck you, only Kat's allowed to call me "silly", I'm fucking AWESOME-

"I am." I admitted, "Um, where's my clothes? I'm sorry, but uh...I really don't remember, ah, anything."

"Dryer." she said, "I figured you'd take a while to wake up after downing a bottle of vodka, so I decided to get that out of the way for ya when I woke up."

Coolest one-night ever.

"So," I said, getting into a sitting position and looking up at her, "Did I do, uh, alright?"

"Eh, you're a five."

"Out of five?" I asked, hopefully.

"Out of ten." she responded.

My ego shattered and I stared at the floor, realizing that this was a blow that I would never, ever recover from.

She laughed. "I'm kidding, I'm kidding! You actually did really well, considering how much you had to drink...very, um, forceful."

I looked at the huge bite mark on my shoulder and then looked at her with a raised eyebrow.

"You were rougher." she said, "I just made it even."

Somewhere deep in my soul, there was cheering.

Suddenly, I yearned for my shades.

"Where are my shades?" I asked, "And do you have anything non-alcoholic to drink? Sorry if I seem a little, uh, spastic, I'm surprised I can even string words together...my head feels like it's going to explode, fuck..."

I held my head in my hands for a moment and sighed. "I've had worse hangovers though," I admitted, "In fact, this one's pretty tame in comparison. By the way, uh, what was your name?"

"You don't remember my name."

"I was drunk."

"I had sex with you."

"I was drunk."

She apparently saw my point, though looked a little offended. Sorry, sweetheart, I am the worst with names...took me like a week to learn Tuck's...

"My name's Melinda." she said, finally.

"My name's Chris." I said, giving a sheepish grin.

"You told me already."

"Oh. I was drunk."

"To scream it."

"...I'm not responsible for anything I do under the influence."

The wonderful thing about having a one-night with somebody is that, besides the obvious awkwardness, you don't really have to worry about being shy around them. I mean, there's a line there to cross- and once you've, uh, fucked, that line is long crossed.

So the reason I can sit, naked, and have a casual back-and-forth with a woman I just slept with but I can't have a normal conversation with a cute chick at the bus stop is because in one case, I've nakedly tangled with the person and in the other case, I don't know a thing about them except they're cute and they don't know a thing about me except I'm awkward and stutter and-

You get the point.

Outside of trying to woo people, I'm pretty good socially. Get me drunk or high, and I can talk to anyone...though I'll probably make sexual advances on them, because for whatever reason, I'm eighteen years old and still want to tackle people like they're walking bags of sex.

Okay, that's a horrible metaphor. I'm sorry. What I'm saying is I have a stupidly high libido. Like most teenage males do.

But I'm an adult. Eighteen years old as of a few days ago.

...Fuck, what day is it?

"What day it is it?" I asked.

Melinda shrugged, apparently not knowing this vital piece of information.

And the number of functioning adults in this room is now...zero. Well, not really...unlike you, she has to pay for this place, and it's pretty nice...

I stood from the floor and walked toward her. "Until my clothes finish drying, do you have anything I can wear?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Want a towel? What's the deal with modesty, anyways?"

I shrugged. "If you must know, I get paranoid whenever I'm naked that everything in the world is out to hit me, hard, right in the nuts."

She gave a sympathetic nod and tossed me a towel, which I quickly tied around my waist. This, of course, would not make me any more guarded against a random nut-shot, but safety blankets don't stop robbers from murdering you and they still feel nice.

If life was a porno, the male protagonist would say "UP FOR ROUND TWO?" at this point and the chick would say "OH, YES, TAKE ME NOW".

Fortunately, life is absolutely nothing like that.

Nobody wants round two when they're hungover. Don't listen to the stories your buddies and bros tell you. It's bullshit. Nobody can fuck when their brain's went and melted.

Don't believe me? (Note: if you are one of my very uncomfortable female readers, please skip the next paragraph.)

Fuck you. You try to get drunk, get laid, and then get it up the next morning. Get fucking wasted and tell me how horny your brain exploding makes you feel. Fuck you. (Note: if you are one of my male readers, please skip the next paragraph.)

I apologize sincerely for this blunt description of the infamous "morning after" scenario. You'll find that such lewd behavior and crude humor is not typical of me, and that I'm actually a kind, sympathetic narrator you should be rooting for. (Note: you should probably skip the next line)

Still don't believe me? Fuck you. I hope your balls get caught in your zipper and your house catches on fire.

Now that I'm done yelling at my readers, I'm going to continue with my tale.

Well, what happened next wasn't really remarkable. I drank some water and watched TV until my clothes dried, then got dressed and left.

You may be wondering why I wouldn't, like, try to get the chick's number or something.

If you're wondering that, you apparently don't understand the point of one-night-stands, which I actually applaud you for, because recreational sex is fun but gets old and sometimes you actually do wish you could tell your partner that your genitals haven't furiously battled with a legion of other people's.

But if you find a dude or a chick with toleration for that level of bullshit, they're definitely a keeper.

Back to chapter select.

Special snowflake.

Tabuu's Point of View.

I was walking down a street called "Vulc Drive" in Colony 51, sobered up and dressed in what I realized was, ironically, a shirt that said "I'm So Drunk I Don't Mind If You Kill Me". I had woken up late in the afternoon- which is understandable, since it had been nighttime when I went to the bar to begin with- and the sun was setting, casting a bloody glow over the relatively little coastal city of Colony 51.

I decided that I would have to congratulate past me on his foresight. I took my phone out of my pocket- which, fortunately, Melinda didn't fry in the washing machine or dryer- and found that I had a huge pile of notifications, from Tuck and Kat and Patrick.

Fuck.

I obviously had a lot to work out with Patrick, but Tucker and Kat did not deserve this treatment by any stretch of the imagination, and Patrick himself, while having deceived me, still clearly cared about me.

To protect me. That's Edo said. I shook my head, I'll think about that later. Right now, I need to find them and see what needs doing next.

I stopped on the sidewalk and leaned against an apartment building, opening a messaging app and forwarding a quick message to Tuck, Kat and Patrick.

Sorry about last night. Where are you guys?

A few moments, then:

hotel. Tuck responded.

I locked and pocketed my phone, beginning to set off to my destination-

"Well, well, fancy meeting you here!"

I stopped cold and looked up.

Leaning beside the entrance to an alleyway was Ruin, dressed in his white robes, but with the hood off. Black bandages were wrapped around his head and face, concealing everything but his nose, mouth, and a few clumps of white hair that peeked out from the bandages.

He was facing me and smirking, holding a familiar black orb in his hand.

"What do you want?" I asked, conjuring my blade.

Ruin threw the black orb skyward and shrugged off his robes, catching it before it hit the ground and turning to face me completely.

He wore a pair of loose-fitting blue jeans with a black flame design and was shirtless, extending his right arm- the arm holding the orb- toward me, as if in offering.

"Apparently you didn't hear me," I said, raising my sword and entering a stance with it held above my head, tilted at an angle, "What do you want?"

Ruin sighed. "You don't want it? Oh, well. I wanted to see what would happen."

He crushed the orb in his hands, releasing an enormous surge of dark energy that threatened to escape from the shards.

Before they could, Ruin leaned his head back and put the shards in his mouth like he was popping a pill, devouring the orb of dark energy and giving a contented sigh when he was done.

The Lockheart Insignia appeared over his heart.

He turned towards me and wiped blood from out his mouth, giving psychotic little chuckles at the expression on my face.

"...What are you?"

"I could ask you the same question."

He was beside me. I didn't even see him move- one moment he was ten feet away from me, the next he was there. It wasn't teleportation, there would've been a blur-

"What do you mean?"

"Isn't the question obvious?" Ruin said, resting his arm on my left shoulder, "What are you? A human? A beast? A Lockheart? A chimera?"

"I'm all of that and more." I snarled, glaring at the portion of bandages where I suspected his eyes were.

"Really?" Ruin said, "Fair enough. Here I was worried you've have trouble accepting your identity- self-obsessed son of a murderer and her pet dog!"

"How did you know about that!?"

"Oh, but you don't even deny it! You are making progress!" Ruin smiled and moved behind me before I could protest, wrapping his arms over my shoulders and onto my chest. "I'm proud of you," he whispered into my ear, "At the development you've shown up to this point. You've come so far in such a short time! What's it feel like to be a star?"

I snarled and slashed, somehow missing the blow.

"But stars are meant to set an example, Christopher. That temper won't get you anywhere in life!"

I turned around and looked up.

Ruin was floating in the air above me, walking on it like it was solid ground and chattering on like he was speaking about the weather.

"Christopher Lockheart," Ruin said, "Son of the Golden Fang and Bloody Lockheart. The holy dog and psychotic tramp made a fine combination- a boy with a Darkness affinity capable of wielding the Light!"

I glared up at him.

"Christopher of the Howling Fang," Ruin chuckled, "It has a nice ring to it, doesn't it? Maybe it's what the history books'll remember you by. Murderer of Stane and Edo Lockheart! Bastard child of a Great Beast! The culmination of Light and Darkness!"

He outstretched his arms, palms held skyward, "Don't you realize what that means, Howling Fang? That means you're special. Isn't that what everyone wants to be, deep down?" His grin turned into a frown and his arms fell to his sides, "Isn't that what the kids are taught these days? That they're all special snowflakes? That they're unique?"

"What are you even saying!?" I shouted.

"What I'm saying," Ruin said, his voice low and menacing, "Is that you aren't as special as you think you are. You exist because of the actions of others, because of plans I made. You are the culmination of Light and Darkness...and since you didn't take my offer for an easy demonstration, I'll have to force it out of you."

He flexed his body into the shape of a cross and summoned two long, sharp white swords that lacked a handle or a hilt and extended from his sleeves.

He gripped them without a handle.


Chapter Twenty-Four, Part II Finale

SUBATA.1



I leaped backward before his first strike, which effortlessly cut through a large portion of the apartment building beside us.

I Golden Fanged my body, blasting skyward and pausing about a hundred feet in the air, looking down at Ruin.

I blinked.

Gone.

I teleported to my right, evading another one of Ruin's attacks and charging my blade with Golden Fang, throwing it at him.

The blade stabbed into his side and he burst into doves, which multiplied and flew in a wide circle around me. I quickly dispelled and conjured my blade back into my hand.

The red sun didn't help matters, the shadows it casted making the flock of doves look bigger than it actually was-

The birds blasted past me and toward the setting sun, crowning it and reforming into Ruin, who I threw a Howl-charged sword at-

My blade stabbed into an empty pair of white robes and a long, white blade extended outward from my chest.

I looked at it in stunned disbelief, watching the blood spread on my shirt and gleam off the sword.

He had stabbed through my spine.

"There's nobody around to save you this time." Ruin snarled.

He cut me in half.

Just like that, my body split nearly completely into two and I fell to the rooftop of the apartment building, crashing into the cement and feeling a sensation that the word "pain" couldn't even begin to describe, of my body being held together by my left side and my right forearm being gone and of blood, blood everywhere, unable to move-

I'm going to die here. I realized, This is it. He's right. There's nobody around to save me. He destroyed my spine. He took my arm.

But somehow, that didn't even bother me.

I could handle it. Dying here, miserable, broken and laying in a puddle of my own blood? I could handle that, that was a death I thought befitted me.

But the last thing I said to Kat was "fuck off".

The last thing I told my uncle- my brother- was that I didn't want to listen to what he had to say, for him to leave me alone.

And the last thing I said to Tuck? Some stupid joke about my dick that I don't even remember.

The tears came.

I'm sorry. I'm so, so sorry.

You're all apologies, aren't you, boy?

My vision was fading, a figure behind my eyelids standing in the distance, underwater, shaking his head in disapproval.

Is this all the mettle my descendant has? Dying so...undignified?

I'm sorry.

Christopher Lockheart, the Howling Fang, son of Michelle Lockheart and Cyria. You're the son of my greatest rival, and you're my descendant. Did I give you permission to die?

I felt something on my right hand.

The right hand I didn't have.

You can die when you've made a baby with someone and done something worthwhile. But here? At the hands of this...guy?

The pain reached a whole new level- my body was regenerating, but it was all wrong, everything about it was invasive, was draining away at me-

I screamed as loud as I could, feeling something slither over my spine and then feeling the entire thing break.

I fell limp as it dark energy reformed it, reformed me.

And then, the pain stopped.

My arm was back. My body was back.

I pushed myself to my feet, making a few stumbling steps forward.

Ruin was looking me over with a sneer on his face. "That's right, Howling Fang...come on, you're almost there."

I fell to my knees and screamed.

I want you to imagine, for a moment, what having someone dipping your hand in liquid nitrogen would feel like. What kind of pain you would feel when they crushed your frozen hand with a hammer.

I want to tell you that what I felt was absolutely nothing like that.

I said when I was dying that what I felt was beyond description.

I was wrong.

I could feel the darkness spreading throughout my body, infecting every microscopic part of me, leaving a cold, dead sensation wherever it went.

I lunged at Ruin, unarmed, and swung my arm at him.

He teleported out of the way and a blade of black blood emerged from the center of my palm, causing me to scream again as I swung it at him, as I felt my forearm begin to rip-

Spikes. Black spikes stabbed through the muscles in my forearm and emerged from the skin, stained with my blood and I roared and leaped forward, using my left hand to rip the palm-blade out and slam my right fist into Ruin's face, following by swinging the sword of dark energy at his neck-

He conjured a blade giving off Edo's familiar energy and stood completely still.

My attack passed right through him, then he split open my chest.

Blood didn't come out.

More spikes. More blades.

I screamed at the top of my lungs and fell to my knees, clutching my head and howling as I felt my fingers stab into my cranium, ripping me open, I wanted to die, I wanted to die so badly but it wasn't happening, all I could feel was pain, pain, pain-

Ruin laughed positively maniacally, clutching his stomach and reeling over at the sight of me.

"This is great!" he cheered, "This is perfect! Keep going, keep going!"

"KILL ME, PLEASE!" I screamed.

"No, no!" Ruin declared, crouching down to my level while I attempted to rip open my skull, "Don't you understand? This is progress! I've never seen anything like this! This more incredible than anything I could've expected!"

I split my skull and more spikes emerged, impaling me through my hands and fingers-

"Your body is transforming to account for this dark energy!" Ruin exclaimed, "This is...beyond human evolution, don't you see?"

Another blade emerged from my left palm and I started furiously stabbing myself with it, hoping and praying that I'd finally fucking die-

"No, no! Don't resist this! This is good!" Ruin casually slashed my arm off and pulled me to my feet, holding my shoulders and giving a bright smile, "Relax! You're ascending!"

"JUST KILL ME ALREADY YOU CRAZY SON OF A BITCH-"

Before he could respond, Ruin was blasted off his feet and I felt something stab into me from behind, emerging from my chest.

A hand. An arm.

Ruin landed at the edge of the roof.

"It's okay," said a familiar, airy voice, "It'll hurt a little, but you're going to be okay."

The arm pulled back, out of me, ripping out my skeleton.

That's what it felt like, but that's not what happened.

"Meiro!" Ruin hissed.

He vanished.

Meiro...?

I fell on my face and realized I couldn't feel any pain. I was feeling incredibly drowsy, but I didn't feel my body literally tearing itself apart.

Am I...dying?

I was rolled over onto my back and Melinda looked down at me with a sheepish grin, hand behind her head. "Sorry I'm late," she said, "I couldn't do anything until your body completely transformed."

I looked down at myself.

My shirt was gone due to the, uh, changes my body had undergone, but...

I wasn't hurt.

There wasn't a scratch on me. My body was back to normal.

Meiro...

"Meiro?" I asked, looking in horror up at the woman I'd slept with.

She closed her eyes and grinned, showing teeth that I realized were especially sharp. "Yup!" Melinda Cynd said.

Why me?

I lost consciousness before I could ask her, but I'll let you know in advance I didn't like the answer.

End of Part Two.

Back to chapter select.

- Intermission 2: The Reaper Council

Looks like we're taking a break again. That's good, have a drink, rest your soul, and enjoy this intermission before we get back in the game.

Ends of the Earth.

In Colony 79, there exists a waterfall.

This waterfall is artificial, created by Allen Canet at the request of those who inhabited the deserts that used to be Colonies 78 and 79. Allen, the Water Ancestor, summoned water from beneath the desert sands and gathered it from the skies to create a constant, gushing oasis atop a sandy mountain. The water carved its descent into a massive pool where weary travelers used to rest and feed their animals and themselves.

Allen was happy with this and left the region, but eventually the people of the desert decided they wanted more. So, they asked Shinn Terra, the Earth Ancestor, for his help.

Shinn, unlike Canet, wasn't as eager to help these people, partially due to the fact that they weren't in any apparent need, and partially due to the fact that he hated extreme temperatures- hot or cold, due to being an Earth user, who stood between the extremes of Light and Darkness.

The peoples of the sand begged him to relent, promising that they would find a way to repay him for his work.

After nearly twenty years of this, Shinn obliged, deciding to see what they requested. It was likely a gesture to shut them up, not anything resembling sympathy.

The band of travellers- who had bonded and even settled around Allen's endless oasis- were quite happy about this, asking for Shinn to use his powers over Trine to split the mountain and open ways for more water to spread, above and underground, to foster plant growth and allow plants and wildlife to expand from the range of Canet's gift.

Shinn did so in under a day, but he was quite exhausted at the end of it, due to constant exposure to the heat.

He asked the village leader, a man named Ozymandias Bunch, what gift he would be given in return for his actions, and Ozymandias declared that this was his gift, spreading life throughout the desert!

Shinn did not take kindly to this.

In another day, Trine opened and devoured the entire village settlement.

The then-current King of Meiro, a man named Maximilian Cynd II, lived far in the city of Blusk at the time of the incident, and when it was reported to him, he determined that Trine had simply experienced one of its first recorded earthquakes.

When people accused Shinn Terra of it, Terra simply laughed them off and said that while he had helped spread their water supply, he had, in fact, left the same day and recovered in a city closer the valley that led down to the city that would one day be called Colony 1.

Sources proved that he was there, so the negative rumors died.

What neither the villagers or the sources knew was that, regardless of what gift Shinn had been given, the earthquake would've occurred anyways- not because of Shinn's interference, but because of a skeletal creature known as the Octo, who would transform sometimes into the skeleton of a man but preferred to take the form of a giant spider, octopus, or other creatures with eight limbs, hence its name.

This Octo was known as Skell due to the fact that it was, well, a skeleton, and Skell was also one of the Great Beasts, of the Earth element.

Skell, unlike the other Great Beasts, did not have universal elements to feed off of. He needed residual energy to eat, and he found a large amount in the villagers he devoured that day.

The only person who witnessed this slaughter was a man known to many as Ruin, who watched the whole thing unfold from a cave behind the waterfall, finding much amusement in the whole ordeal.

After failing to successfully transform the Light chimera into a creature of the Darkness, Ruin returned to these caves for the first time in hundreds of years to find that a figure in black robes was sitting on the floor, poring through a book Ruin himself had written over the course of thirty years, detailing the evolution of the desert region of Trine.

A skeletal finger turned an ancient page.

"Interesting perspective," said a robotic, artificial voice, "But one must wonder why a man such as yourself would take interest in such trivial matters."

Ruin, his bandages and robes long removed, only laughed.

"It's not as trivial as you think," he said, back to the waterfall, "Is it, Trine Devourer?"

A robotic laugh. The robed figure turned to face Ruin.

A skeletal man.

"But oh, doesn't one grow bored after a time? As you can tell, once this location reached the peak of its evolution, I left. I've kept steady documentation of other areas across Trine, if you'd be interested in reading some more."

Skell stood. "I'm afraid I've had my fill of reading." he said, eight skeletal spider legs emerging from the back of his robes and pointing towards Ruin in a matter not unlike blades, "Though I must admit, Cecil, your perspective on these matters have been an interesting read."

Ruin took a seat at the entrance to the cave, watching Skell approach him with a wide smile on his face, clearly unintimidated by the Great Beast's approach.

"When did you get here?" "Cecil" asked, "I don't recall inviting you for dinner."

"I knew you would be here after that scuffle in Colony 132 and 51," Skell responded, "You do have extensive logs, but you've very few, ah, homes to return to."

"A man of my means needs no home."

"A man of mine needs no children, but I chose to have some over the years anyways."

"Is that so?" Cecil looked up at the skeletal man in interest, "Which are you going to tell me of? The boy who died in Colony 21? Or the man who lived in Colony 54 a hundred and fifty years ago? Or the daughter you have that lives here now?"

Skell gave a growl that sounded quite like television interference. "You stay away from my daughter." he growled, "If I hear you touched a hair on her-"

Ruin's laughter reached its peak. "Do not worry, do not worry! I don't mean to threaten. The children of the Great Beasts have always...interested me, so. If you must know, I was here to retrieve my records. I keep them on a computer and a cloud server nowadays. Marvelous, those devices."

Skell joined Ruin in his laughter. He closed the book in his skeletal hand and tossed it across the cave to Cecil, who caught it.

"Thank you, Skell," Ruin said, standing up and raising the book above his head, whisking it away, "But I'm going to have to ask you to leave now."

"You know that, now that I've found you, I can't do that."

Ruin conjured his blades. "Surely you don't want to make a mess?"

"I don't think I care how many people in this town die if it kills you."

"But what of your, ah, daughter? Lee, her name was?"

"Pops knows not to worry about me too much." A teenage girl leaned against the left side of the cave entrance, looking very bored and checking something on her smartphone. "But I'll admit, the faint energy signature you've been giving off tells me there's much more in there somewhere...and personally, I think it'll be very filling."

Father and daughter struck at the same time, but Ruin vanished in a flurry of white feathers.

Skell sighed. "Next time," he said, the spider legs retreating back into his body, "Don't warn him. Ruin knows when to retreat from a battle."

Lee pocketed her phone. "Sorry, pops," she said, turning to face the waterfall, "You hungry? I could bring somebody from the prison back for you. It's an easy trip."

Skell shook his head. "It's fine. How's your mother?"

"Dead. You probably should've went for someone, uh, younger. I was a lucky, late birth, you know. Late to the news, though. A month late, dad." Lee didn't seem to care particularly about her father's lack of punctuality in this matter- in fact, she had returned her attention to her phone.

"But your mother was the last of the Terras," Skell said, "And now, you are. I sought her to ensure he did not target you. Two Earths do not create a chimera that can use an opposite element, since Earth has no opposite. I told Cyria he was a fool for choosing a Lockheart woman."

"Tell the others I said hi." Lee Terra said.

"You aren't coming to the Council?"

Lee sighed. "It's all the way in Colony 1, Dad. I'm not going all that way for some dumb save-the-world meeting."

Skell laughed. "Atta girl. You will cooperate with them eventually, I hope?"

"Depends, when're they gonna kill super-Pops?"

"Terra? I don't know, I'll ask."

"Good." she sighed, "I've never had the pleasure of snacking on someone that powerful. I bet he'll be a treat."

Back to part select.

A song of ice and fire.

Alizarin Percidae wasn't having a very good day.

This isn't to say, of course, that anything particularly bad was happening to him. It was more along the lines of "I have too many plans and too little time", which was causing him much stress the more and more he thought about it, a rate that was becoming frighteningly high.

Percidae- or Perch, his friends called him- was a reporter.

He travelled across Meiro, snagging interviews from celebrities and reporting on the various events across the colonies, a feat made possible by a devoted, well-paid workforce beneath him and a work rate some called "psychotic".

If anybody else were to interview him- and they hadn't, not yet- they would likely ask him "what do you do for fun? when do you take a break?" to which he would respond that this was his hobby.

In addition to constant news reports of the happenings across Meiro, he frequently released movie, TV and game reviews- he was well-versed culturally and socially, and considered unmatched, as both a reporter and critic.

He was a personality, simply put. The people loved him.

It was rare when the twenty three year old found his busy schedule a problem- he was a man that loved his job- but today, something unexpected had come up, and he wasn't quite sure how to go about dealing with it.

It was his father. Belial, the Phoenix.

He had learned the truth of his heritage in his teens- that fact hadn't bothered him much at all- but now, his father was saying that The Ancestors had been released from their seal and were hunting him, in addition to the other Great Beasts and Chimeras.

The Ancestors' return wasn't news that surprised- he had already heard whispers of the rallies in Colony 51, and was even in the process of writing a piece about the death of Edo Lockheart- but it was interfering with his ability to produce content, because now he was very biased and knew things that the general public was not supposed to know.

For one, he already knew who had killed the Darkness Ancestor. This wasn't widely-known information, but the person he had in Colony 51 was very familiar with the killer.

Christopher Lockheart.

Christopher Lockheart was something of an enigma in comparison to the teenagers and young adults of the other Ancient Families.

He didn't travel very often. He stayed in one place, Colony 132, for what Perch was sure had been his entire life. People began to openly speculate who Christopher Lockheart was.

In Colony 132, he was known for throwing frequent parties and chasing tail, but he also had a quiet, reserved side and would sometimes spend days without coming out of his apartment. For someone as popular as he was, he didn't have many friends- just two people his age- a girl named Katryna Michelle, who sought to be a doctor and a boy named Tucker Lane, who behaved in a manner rather similar to his Lockheart counterpart, though was much more...conservative in terms of times caught in states of undress.

The Lane and Lockheart Family had been tied together for a long time, and that was reflected in the friendship between Christopher and Tucker. They spent most of their time with each other, and neither of them seemed concerned about becoming celebrities- unlike Tucker's mother and Christopher's brother, who had legendarily hunted down a lethal criminal network across Trine.

Patrick Lockheart and Raikov Lane were interesting people to follow, and Perch had interviewed the both of them many times. Patrick preferred his role as a travelling rock star and philanthropist to Raikov's repertoire.

See, Raikov (despite the deafening rumors that she and Patrick were romantically involved) had married a man named Crash, an actor. She became an actor soon after. Got extremely popular. But she was also a member of the Royal Guard, feared and respected from Colony 1 to 132.

This was for good reason, considering that she (and she alone) had rediscovered Xzelion Lane's legendary "Raiden" technique and used it to most brutal capacity when hunting criminals and trolls alike.

The Lockheart and Lane families were probably the most popular of the Ancient Families in Trine.

This was why Perch was struggling to write his piece.

Because Christopher Lockheart had murdered his Ancestor, a living legend, and both Patrick Lockheart and Tucker Lane had been at the scene, attempting (but failing) to kill Xzelion. Christopher Lockheart was also, apparently, a Chimera. A Lockheart that wielded the Light.

And now Perch was going to meet him, and the other chimeras, and the Great Beasts, all to discuss how to kill The Ancestors and ultimately defeat Maximilian Cynd II, known alternately as Evoltsul, the former King of Meiro.



"Before you punch me again, I think you should listen to what I have to say."

The man punching Wyatt Cen ceased to be the man punching Wyatt Cen. More accurately, he stopped punching Wyatt Cen, so the man punching Wyatt Cen became the man not punching Wyatt Cen, which, depending on your perspective, was a great upgrade, both in words used to describe this distraught grocery store owner and in general accuracy.

Wyatt Cen, the thief, opened his mouth as if about to say something, but seemed to forget. "Nevermind, you can keep punching me."

The man not punching Wyatt Cen became the man punching Wyatt Cen yet again, until the descendant of Sadaharu Cen, the Ice Ancestor and son Alexander the Hedgehog (the Great Beast of Ice who did not stand upright or wear tennis shoes), decided he had quite enough of being punched for the day and punched back, sending the store owner into the other wall of the alleyway beside his grocery store and knocking him unconscious.

Wyatt, exhausted, put his hands on his knees and leaned over, catching his breath.

Wyatt Cen, until his eighteenth birthday, had been an official member of the Ancient Cen Family. That meant, among other things, that he had been rich.

Unfortunately, his family had never been very fond of him, and they become much, much more un-fond of him when a man named "Alexander" came to their estate at the bottom of the White Mountains to reveal that, one, he was the son of a Great Beast, and that, two, that Great Beast happened to be Alexander himself.

His family ferociously sided with Sadaharu's Cen pre-sealing views- that the Great Beasts were monsters to be blamed for Maximilian Cynd's death, and they (rather accurately, in fact) blamed Alex and the other Great Beasts for the disappearances of their Ancestor and Maximilian Cynd II.

They were the only of the Nine Ancient Families in Trine to have this view, the other Eight either not believing or simply not caring about centuries-old blood feuds.

So Wyatt was kicked out of his house for being a Chimera, his married mother blaming a drunken night at a bar for his conception and his actual father revealing that he had nowhere for them to stay and nothing for him to eat.

Wyatt was pretty sure that this was the shittiest eighteenth birthday imaginable, unaware that a boy in Colony 132 experienced his own shittiest birthday imaginable about a week after he did, an occasion marked by being stabbed, kidnapped, and murdered the day after.

After spending over half a month on the streets- and shortly after punching a grocery store owner through a wall- Wyatt Cen was encountered, once more, by his father.

"Hey." Alex said, dressed in clothes Wyatt wondered how he could afford, "Me and the other Great Beasts and our children are having a meeting!"

"...Yay?" Wyatt dug into the bag of things he had stolen, taking out a can of Faygo! Moon Mist and beginning to drink it.

"Actually, yeah! We might be able to get you a place a stay. Also, you're being hunted by Xzelion Lane and the other Ancestors for, uh, being my son."

"Sadaharu's hunting me, too?"

"Yup."

Wyatt looked at his Faygo and sighed.

"Guess I'll be coming with you, then." he said.

Back to part select.

The Reaper Council meets at last.

In the Cynd Palace within Colony 1, there is a room whose only known entrance is found on the back of the throne itself, the throne being an entrance. The Cynd Palace itself was built through the collaboration of Hector Cynd upon being named Third King of Trine, with the help of the Nine Great Beasts, shortly after the Battle of Evoltsul and shortly before the creation of the final part of the seal that would hold Maximilian Cynd II and his disciples, The Ancestors, in their prison for two hundred and sixty four years before the awakening of the last chimera on March 3rd, the day after his birthday, nearly three centuries after the original sealing took place.

From the entrance on the back of the throne, a set of stone stairs descends seemingly endlessly. Some say it leads to the formerly-frozen city of Blusk. Others say it leads to Hades, or to Hell, or to an endless pit.

Others propose that the stairwell itself is an endless pit, where prisoners are forced to descend until their deaths.

These rumors are completely false.

The stairwell only goes down about a hundred feet, and it's really not that long a walk. Seriously.

The stairwell ends and opens into an ancient room taken from Lum, the second moon of Trine.

On Lum, there was once an ancient temple built by an unknown God that gathered the elemental energy used by the universe itself to create nine beings of those energies- the Great Beasts.

The first to come to life was Meiro, a great white Snake that, as Gravity, held the universe together- and so, had the powers of the other elements as well.

The second to come to life was Skell, a skeletal "Octo" that, as Earth, served as Gravity's second and was similarly imbued with powers of all the elements.

Third came Vanity, a Tiger with white fur and blue stripes, that, as Wind, finished the trio of the firstborns and carried with her the powers of Life itself.

Next came the twins. Cyria, a Wolf created of the universe's own Light, was born alongside Taka, a Hawk created of the universe's Darkness.

Next came the Phoenix, Belial, of fire. After him came the Crocodile, Kai, of Water.

After them came Rye, the Mantis of Lightning, and Alex, the Hedgehog of Ice.

Together, those Nine Great Beasts created Trine and moved their birthplace- the temple of their birth- from Lum and onto the planet they created, into the location that would one day become home to the Cynd Royal Palace of Colony 1.

The original Palace of the Cynds resided in the city of Blusk at the bottom of the valley, but it was destroyed in the Battle of Evoltsul, where the Nine Great Beasts, the Nine Ancestors, and Maximilian Cynd II, Evoltsul, the son of the first human being, clashed.

After the defeat of Max and the Ancestors, Kai the Crocodile flooded Blusk and Alex the Hedgehog froze it in ice that, while breakable, would regenerate too quickly for anything to be accomplished. The other Great Beasts retrieved their Temple, but at the request of Hector Cynd, they left a single room that the new Palace would hide and be built upon.

The Temple was used to collect the power of the Great Beasts, to create a gemstone that would constantly generate Kai's pure water and provide constant reinforcement to Alex's ice. The Temple was taken into the sky and Meiro gathered materials to create a floating island around it- that would also be powered by the gemstone- so that, should their seal fail, the island would hit Max and the Ancestors at terminal velocity, destroying or weakening them.

This was, of course, not to be.

In the one room that remained of the Temple of Lum, there was a large, round wooden table with nine thrones. In the back of the room were the firstborn elements- Earth to the left, Gravity in the center, and Wind to the right. Beside Earth was Water, beside Wind was Fire, beside Water was Ice, beside Fire was Lightning, and at the complete opposite end of the table were two thrones directly beside each other- Light to the right, beside Lightning and Darkness to the left, beside Ice.

Farther behind these thrones were individual fireplaces with flames colored for each element- pure white for Light, pure black for Darkness, electric blue for Lightning, dark blue for Ice, bright red for Fire, pure blue for Water, transparent for Wind, purple for Gravity and brown for Earth.

These fireplaces served entrances for the Nine Great Beasts, though they did not come aflame until the seal upon Maximilian II and the Ancestors was broken.

A day after their summons, the Chimeras and Nine Great Beasts gathered in this chamber, the chimeras descending from the staircase and the Beasts entering from their assorted fireplaces.

Every beast was in their proper form- except Skell, of Earth, who donned his skeletal human form and black robes. He sat at the throne corresponding to his element.

Seven chimeras entered the room and sat in their thrones, with their corresponding Beasts at their sides, behind them, or, in the case of the birds, perched atop the heads of their chairs. Each of the seven were dressed in the same black robes that Skell wore, with Light and Darkness being the first to their seats, seemingly racing one another to them.

The Light Chimera, Christopher Lockheart, beat Nalia Cynd to his own seat narrowly and gave a cackle as the crown prince of Trine gave him a glare from his left. Taka perched atop Nalia's throne and Cyria came in from Chris' right and rested his wolfish head on his son's lap. Reluctantly, Chris stroked the top of the great wolf's head as Hector Cynd entered the room and stood to Nalia's left, Taka switching perches from the throne to Hector's shoulders.

The King gave a smile.

The chair for Gravity was empty. Earth was filled by Skell, who was surprisingly quite capable of making expressions with a skull for a face.

He was, for the record, bored out of his mind, his head kept aloft by literally bony fingers as he gave a robotic sigh.

The other seats were filled.

Alizarin Percidae, Chimera of Fire, leaned back into his seat and sighed, looking up at his father.

Anton James, Chimera of Water, was busy playing on a dual-screened game system, seemingly not paying attention to the gathering around him.

Pyral Wells, Chimera of Lightning (not Fire, it's a common misconception), was tapping his fingers on the wooden table in a rhythm he was inventing as he went, wondering when the meeting would start, wondering if it was too late to ask for something to drink. His father, a gigantic Praying Mantis composed of electricity, just kind of bowed at people in greeting. He didn't talk very much outside of his human form.

Wyatt Cen, Chimera of Ice, was giving a rather hate-filled glare at just about everyone present, clearly not wanting to be there at all. His father, a giant hedgehog that, once more, did not stand upright or wear tennis shoes, flexed the icicle-esque spines on his back.

Jeane Jacobs, Chimera of Wind, looked extremely nervous and had her mother's head in her lap in a similar manner to Chris, giving nervous glances across the room at him on occasion while he gave reassuring nods and grins in return.

Meiro, known also as Melinda Cynd, took her human form and rested in the throne at the very back of the room that, in a perfect world, her son would've rested in.

"Before we begin," she said, meeting eyes with every occupant of the room before focusing on Skell, "Where is your daughter?"

The skeletal man shrugged. "She said she didn't want to come."

"These meetings aren't-" Nalia started.

"Whatever." Meiro said, "Be sure to relay all the important information to her when you get the chance, Skell. She is going to cooperate with us, I hope?"

"She will." Skell said, then paused, "Eventually."

"What do you mean, eventual-"

Nalia was interrupted again by Meiro. "Whatever," the eldest said, waving her hand, "Let's get down to business. Hector, I believe you had something to say?"

The King of Meiro nodded at his grandmother and namesake of his country. "Yes," Hector said, "While I know that most of us here are already up to speed, I still feel that a recap is necessary."

Wyatt groaned and Pyral- who some called Pyro and some others called Pi- still wondered if it was too late to ask for something to drink.

Nalia watched his father attentively and Christopher tried desperately to not take glances across the table, where the woman-who-he-did-not-know-at-the-time-of-his-sleeping-with-her-was-his-rival's-great-grandmother-and-his-sworn-enemy's-mother sat beside his somewhat-kinda-but-not-really-crush, giving occasional whispers into the nervous girl's ear and making the occasional frightening eye contact in his direction.

I hate my life. he thought, I hate my life so much.

"Anyways," Hector said, "A long time ago, my grandfather, Maximilian Cynd, came to Trine with the Nine Great Beasts in this room. He created simple humans to serve beneath them and populate this planet, but eventually decided to give humanity some of his own power- in a manner similar to the Great Beasts' creation on Lum, he used this very room to take the nine Elemental Affinities from himself and split them into people of their own. The Ancestors."

"After this," Meiro said, "The Ancestors copulated with the women of the normal humans, and people began to be born with elemental affinities. This process began on Blusk, with the 'normal' humans eventually dying out entirely in favor of those with affinities. Some of those normal humans remained, and they became...what's the word...ah, the servants and concubines of the Cynd Family. Those lucky enough to produce children- or be otherwise imprinted on through ceremonies I won't elaborate on- created or became Sages, those without affinities who could use them all."

Hector nodded and Meiro continued, "People eventually expanded from Blusk, out of the valley. We kept them away from our temple, and the Ancestors helped create homes and ecosystems for the people and the other animals around Meiro, the country named after, um, me."

Did she just fucking smirk? Christopher Lockheart sighed, Well, at least I know I'm not the only narcissist in the room...

"But things changed with the birth of my father." Hector said, "A hundred years after his birth, his mother- Meiro- left him and his father. A month later, his father died, seemingly of suicide. The time has come for the truth to come to light. Grandmother?"

Melinda nodded. "There is a man named Cecil," she said, standing from the Gravity Throne and hopping onto the table, "But he goes also by the name of Ruin. This is what he looks like." She extended her right hand and snapped her fingers.

A hazy projection of a man in white, hooded robes with the hood off appeared on the table. His head was covered in black bandages, but clumps of white hair peeked from between a few of them and his skin was very pale.

Christopher Lockheart, of course, recognized him. So did Nalia, Skell and Vanity.

"Who is he?" asked Wyatt Cen.

"The man who killed my husband, Maximilian Cynd," Melinda Cynd said calmly, "And the man who ordered me to leave him at the threat of the life of my son."

Christopher remembered suddenly that, despite his experiences with her, this woman was still a mother, the mother of the man who had already killed him once and would likely kill him again if given the chance. Despite all this, Christopher recognized the familiar pain that appeared in the eyes of Melinda Cynd when she said this- a pain that he had seen in his own reflection when spending those long years wondering where his parents were and a pain that he had seen in the eyes of Patrick whenever he tried to explain those things to him.

I feel sympathy for a goddess. Lockheart realized, The last person you would expect to pity.

"He made the same threat to me." Vanity the Tiger said, speaking up suddenly.

Melinda sighed.

"He said he killed my mother." Christopher Lockheart said, startling the wolf who had been resting his head in his lap, "Gave off an energy signature that was too much for her when giving birth. Dad thought it was him. But with all this coming to light, well...I guess Ruin really did do it. I would imagine he's behind a lot of things that've hurt us all."

Skell gave a robotic laugh and Hector ahem-ed until Skell stopped. Hector began to speak, "Patrick Lockheart tells me that a man named 'Ruin' leads a group called 'The Order of Maximilian', a ring of criminals that Patrick Lockheart and Raikov Lane used to hunt down. They're still alive and well, and they've been providing much assistance to the anti-monarchy sentiment that's been going around Trine lately, and they undoubtedly have ties to the Ancient Cen family and The Ancestors themselves."

Wyatt scowled.

"After the death of his father," Meiro said, "My son sought vengeance upon me and the rest of the Great Beasts. The Ancestors took his side and, a year after the death of my husband and the crowning of my son, the Battle of Evoltsul began. 'Evoltsul' was a name my son took, meaning 'lust love' or 'lost love' but sounding like, well, 'evil soul'. The name was in memory of his father, and at the end of the Battle, we gathered them into one place and I hit them with my strongest attack. While they regenerated, Kai flooded Blusk, Alex froze it, and in the next hour, we created the seal."

"Then what's the problem?" Wyatt shouted, standing from his seat, "You killed 'em once! What's the big fucking deal? Shouldn't it be a cakewalk now that you have your kids to fight, too?"

Melinda, still standing on the table, looked down an incredibly cold expression. "It's actually not that simple," she said, in a menacing voice that sounded quite unlike that of a woman who had crooned karaoke not three nights before, "The Great Beasts are created of the elements themselves, and our children gain power from the same sources. The stronger our children become, the weaker we become...which is why we're here." She nodded at Hector.

"This is the last meeting of the Great Beasts." Hector Cynd said, "Each of you have been presented with a weapon composed of soulsteel. Skell's daughter already has hers, my father is excluded, but the rest of you...set your weapons on the table."

Light and Darkness set down scythes. Wind set down a staff, Fire set down a broadsword, Water rested a claymore on the table, and Ice put down twin rapiers. Lightning had twin blades.

"Soulsteel is easily reformable, of course," Hector said, "And with the addition they're about to receive, you'll find they're capable of much more than before. This is the last meeting of the Great Beasts, but the first meeting of the Reaper Council- their chimeras and those who associate with them."

"Because of the process I mentioned," Melinda said, sitting on the table with her legs crossed, "The Great Beasts are doomed to die if they do not take action. We planned for this long in advance, however- in order to prevent our deaths, we will replace the souls within your soulsteel weapons and our power will become one with your own. I am currently incapable of doing this due to my son's status- though as he grows in strength, I become weaker. This meeting is to put forth our shared wisdom one last time."

Anton looked up at her. "And that is?"

Meiro smiled. "We will tell you which of you are best suited to take which Ancestor, and in what order to take them."

"Me and Edo were rivals," Cyria said, "But my boy here already took care of him." Christopher couldn't hold back a smirk.

"Damien Lux will be coming after me and my son," Taka said, still perched upon Hector Cynd's shoulders, "And that battle will have to be one-on-one, when it does occur. The other elements, however, cannot be taken on in these circumstances- Meiro?"

"The weakest of the Ancestors- still strong, mind you- are Edo Lockheart, Sadaharu Cen and Cobold Vaten. Sadaharu should be approached by the chimeras of Fire and Lightning, and since Gravity is unavailable to us, Cobold is best handled by the Earth Chimera and either the Water or Ice Chimera. Next are Damien Lux- who Taka's son will handle- Barchetta Vulc, and Jonathan Gild. Vulc, Fire, is best fought with Water and Ice, and Gild, Gravity, will take Light and Wind to defeat." Meiro paused and shut her eyes.

"After them?" Wyatt asked.

"Xzelion Lane, Shinn Terra, and Allen Canet are the strongest of them all," Meiro said, "Lightning, Earth, and Water, respectively. I recommend at least three for each of them. Xzelion will require Darkness, Ice and Water. Shinn will require Light, Darkness and Earth. Allen will require Light, Lightning, and Fire."

"What if we can't gather those teams properly?" Anton asked.

She shrugged. "Well," she said, "If you can't do that, you'll likely all die. Any questions?"

Christopher Lockheart raised his hand.

"Yes?"

"When you guys merge with us, do we inherit the immortality?"

She shook her head. "Afraid not."

"Dammit." he muttered.

"Now that that has been established," Meiro said, "Are you all ready?"

There was silence. Christopher Lockheart and Nalia Cynd vaguely heard the latter's father mutter "goodbye" to someone, and a black hawk descended on the scythe before her son. The wolf leaped to the table and, suddenly, the other Beasts followed suit to their own weapons.

Before even five seconds had passed, the Great Beasts were gone, residing in the weapons laying on the table. Only Meiro and Skell remained, the latter of which was apparently asleep and the former of which was looking expectantly at the chimeras sitting around her.

"What're you waiting for?" she said, nodding at Lockheart and Cynd, "Grab your weapons. You're real Reapers now."

End of Intermission Two.

Back to part select.

- Part 3: Planetary Devastation

I have a story to tell.


Malcom Brown - Eternity's Shylock

My name isn’t important now, and it wasn’t then.

I couldn’t tell you if I wanted to.

My name is CYCLICDEN.

See?

Everytime I try, it just comes out as nonsense. My name is CYLICCEND.

I’m sorry I can’t tell you. It comes off as very rude, and my manners are one of the few things I pride myself on.

Back then, I had a name and a home and a family.

I can’t give you our names, but I can tell you where we lived.

We lived in California, a “state” of the United States of America. We lived in a city called Sacramento, which is a Spanish word derived from English meaning “an act of divine grace”. The places should be familiar to you.

It is, after all, your universe. Ours.

But times change.

In your future and my past, America and the rest of the world is plunged into war with each other and, later on, other forces.

You may not be a religious type. I understand that. I was a Christian before this, though, and when the nukes started flying, we called it the apocalypse. It seemed like the end of the world.

And then they came.

I couldn’t tell you much more about they if I tried, but they have another name: them. Everybody knows them- they screw over the little guy, they cause those accidents, they start the wars.

But they are not one of us, not in the traditional sense. They are our pride, our lust, our envy, and our wrath.

The screams of the innocent and our very hearts gave birth to them, the seven figures that emerged during the end of the world.

You’re no doubt familiar with the names. They’re said to be a part of us all: Pride, Wrath, Envy, Lust, Gluttony, Sloth and, of course, Greed.

America won the war, of course. The world’s only superpower would be the last one standing in these circumstances, as the patriots would demand.

But that’s the thing about there being only one surviving country.

The entire rest of the world- and even Hawaii and some parts of the American homeland- had been ravaged by nuclear weapons.

Not even the oceans were saved.

The world would’ve ended gradually due to nuclear winter, but they came to finish the job like they are supposed to.

I was the last living man on planet Earth when they came for me. The rest of my family died in the process of my escape, but I couldn’t run forever.

They cornered me.

Pride, of Darkness; Sloth, of Ice; Envy, of Water, Gluttony, of Earth; Lust, of Fire, Wrath, of Lightning; and, of course, Greed, of Light.

They killed me, but they are me.

They killed us all, but they are us.

You are me, and we are all together.

When our life ended, the universe itself followed.

It collapsed. It reset.

We were reborn on Trine, a planet born from the ruin of another.

The death of an entire universe gave another birth to me, to us.

My name is CECIL CYND.


Back to chapter select.

Frostbite.
Light Club - Blizzard

Wyatt Cen’s Point of View.

Dressed in the black robes that had been given to me and the other members of the newly-formed Reaper Council, I made my way ascending the White Mountains. Meiro had decided to have all seven of the available chimeras- excepting Skell’s daughter, who refused to make an appearance for whatever reason- train beneath Patrick Lockheart, current head of the Lockheart Ancient Family, a group of “ancestral traitors” as my family referred to them when they were raising me, citing the Lockheart’s wholehearted support of Hector Cynd’s ascension to the throne after the Battle of Evoltsul.

The Battle of Evoltsul, as it’s been called, was a legendary battle that took place in Colony 0, Blusk, before the city became consumed by the Grand Diamond. The Ancestors and Maximilian were assumed dead in their battle with the Great Beasts.

Hector’s ascension to the throne after his father’s apparent demise was marked with much controversy, but as the strongest being in the land at the time- with the support of the Great Beasts and quite a few of the Ancient Families, such as the Lockhearts, Lanes and Terras- he didn’t meet a great amount of opposition, and could not be pinned the blame for overthrowing Max due to how little evidence supported it.

What really happened, as Hector and Meiro had told us, is that after Max made an attempt on Hector’s life and Taka saved him, the Great Beasts decided that this was reason enough to finally intervene, feeling that a man with such instability and such power was not deemed fit for ruling.

I was skeptical, of course. Not because I think the Cen Family is the paragon of morality and factual information, but more about the fact that the only two parties I’ve heard the story from are both intensely biased, emotionally and otherwise. Maximilian II and the Ancestors, including my own, however, were my enemy.

No matter what I believe, it’s kill or be killed. Perhaps it’s best I not think about this too much.

I reached a cliff wall and removed my hood, peering through the blizzard and judging whether or not the wall was safe to scale. As our first assignment, Patrick Lockheart had decided that we all climb the mountain without using our powers or tools. I had heard rumors about the Lockheart Style training regime, but I definitely hadn’t expected something like this.

The idea that by adulthood, Lockheart Family members are expected to be gain a full mastery of of such a harsh technique surprised me. Even Christopher Lockheart was being exposed to forms of training for the Lockheart Style he hadn’t encountered before, only having learned some level of swordplay from Stane Lockheart.

Grasping the freezing stone with my bare hands and making a foothold, I began to climb.


Chapter Twenty-Five

Ascend



Pyral Wells’ Point of View.

Being the Lightning Chimera, I expected to have a lot more trouble making it through the mountains. Elemental affinities determined how people handled temperatures, after all- Light-spectrum users benefited from sun exposure and hot environments, while Dark-spectrum users benefited from dark, cold areas. Earth users didn’t have advantages or disadvantages, though they tended not to appreciate extreme temperatures on either end of the spectrum.

Regardless, I should’ve been being constantly drained of energy and absolutely freezing from what I had been taught in my classes. My father, Rye, who was, to some degree, sharing my body, explained that the reason I wasn’t being weakened was twofold: because my mother was a Dark type and I benefited from her affinity, and because, as a Lightning user, I generated electricity and heat on my own, though I would wear down much quicker than usual in these conditions.

That meant I would have to make my way up the mountain within at least eight hours. Being in decent physical shape, this wouldn’t be a problem for me-

If not for the fact that I was carrying someone else on my back.

Alizarin Percidae- or “Red”, as Nalia and the others had taken to calling him- simply hadn’t been able to make it much farther than a fourth up the mountain before completely running out of energy. Patrick Lockheart had given Light-spectrum users a head start, but I opted to stay behind and prepare for a few hours instead. We apparently had to reach the Lockheart Residence in Colony 100, near the peak, before nightfall.

The Light-spectrum users started early in the morning, before the snow would intensify and their connection to the sun would be dwindled. Christopher Lockheart and Jeane Jacobs were apparently travelling together. After the Dark-spectrum users left an hour or so later, I decided to follow them.

I found Red laying face-down in the snow not two hours into my climb. Having been unable to rouse him, I opted to simply put him over my back and carry him.

I didn’t want him to go and die of frostbite when we were supposed to be saving the world, after all.



Anton James’ Point of View.

About an hour after I passed Chris and Jeane on my way up the mountain, the Lockheart Residence was visible in the distance. After about half a mile’s walk, I knocked on the door and an unfamiliar woman answered, looking at me with electric blue eyes and a hard gaze.

“Who is it?” I heard Patrick shout from somewhere in the mansion.

“It’s the Water kid!” the woman shouted back, “He’s the first one up!”

Patrick teleported into sight to verify what she had said, giving me a look-over. “Strange,” he said, “But not entirely unexpected. Good job, Anton. Come with me.”

I stepped into the warmth of the house and the blonde woman shut the door behind me, crossing her arms and giving Patrick a look. “Special treatment?” she questioned.

The head of the Lockheart Family shook his head. “Nothing like that, Raikov,” he said, nodding at her, “I’m just wondering how he got here quicker than anyone else. I didn’t expect the Light-spectrum users to get here first, but where’s Nalia and Wyatt? They’d benefit more from this area than he would.”

The woman I now recognized as Raikov Lane shrugged, a stray bolt of electricity dancing across her shoulder. Man, I can’t imagine the kind of static shocks you’d get from touching a Lane.

“Do you think there’s something wrong out there?” Raikov asked.

“Possibly,” Patrick said, “Possibly. Anton, would you like me to show you your room? It’s where you’ll be staying for the next week or so.”

I nodded.

“Do you want me to go check on them?” Raikov asked, “I know this mountain well. It wouldn’t take me long.”

Stooben shook his head. “It’s fine,” he said, starting to ascend the stairway and indicating for me to follow him, “If I could make it, so can they.”



Wyatt Cen’s Point of View.

I had almost made it to the peak when he showed up.

A man in a white, hooded robe that blended with the snow near-perfectly stood before me, his arms crossed across his chest as he leaned against the rock. “Hello, Wyatt,” he said, “I believe this is the first time we’ve met in person.”

Ruin?” I asked.

The hooded man raised his head. “Excuse me?”

“You look just like- never mind. Who are you?”

The stranger removed his hood and his eyes met mine, a cold gray that matched my own near perfectly. After taking in his facial features, I recognized him from the portraits that had been in the Cen Residence- Sadaharu Cen, my direct Ancestor.

“Are you here to fight me?” I asked, taking a deep breath and glancing at my surroundings.

“Of course not.” Sadaharu said, “I just thought I’d pay you a visit. I notice that you’ve cut your father off from the rest of your mind- smart. It means good things for the both of us.”

“And those are?” I asked, not taking my eyes off him.

“One,” Sadaharu said, “We don’t need to worry about being overheard. Two, we won’t have to kill you.”

“What do you mean?”

“The other chimeras have merged their powers with their parents, no? Now to achieve our goals, we have to kill the chimeras, too. We’d have preferred to spare most of you.”

“What makes me any different?” I asked, considering opening my mind to my father and conjuring the scythe he was sealed in.

“One,” he said, “You’re my descendant. Two, you haven’t merged with your father, so, again, we don’t have to kill you. In fact, we could work together, you and I. I can keep you and whoever else you want- minus the other chimeras- safe, so long as you pass on information and do what I ask you.”

I laughed. “What makes you think I’d do that? The Cen Family disowned me because of my father. I don’t give a shit if you’re family, my family doesn’t.”

He shrugged. “The way I see it,” he said, “You have my eyes and they didn’t want to have to acknowledge your rightful place in the family. I said myself that people born with my eyes are meant to be family heads- who’s your current?”

I thought of my stepdad, a large, unpleasant man who didn’t possess a single ounce of Cen blood.

“Some loser.” I responded without thinking.

“You shouldn’t think so lowly of yourself,” Sadaharu said, “The Head of the Cen Family should carry himself with high esteem.”

“I’m not the family head!”

“You should be.”

I went silent. “What are you proposing?”

“All I have to offer you for now is your birthright,” Sadaharu said, “But if you work with us, there’s much greater awards Max has to offer. We don’t hate you for being born. And I assure you, nothing Hector could offer can match what we have in store.”

“I see.”

I bit my lip, contemplating my options. My Ancestor extended his hand toward me, offering more than anybody else in my family had in my entire life.

I flexed my fingers.

Back to chapter select.

The silence is deafening to my ears.
Serj Tankian - Deafening Silence

Tabuu’s Point of View.

Having been taught my sword lessons in the snow of these very mountains, I was quite accustomed to the cold, but not so much the effects it had on me now that my powers as a Light Chimera and my affinity as a Dark type had been activated.

What resulted was strange. The cold became far less noticeable to me than it had ever been and the light became that much warmer, yet I could feel my energy actively draining at an extreme pace as I climbed.

Because I didn’t want to be bored or lonely, I asked Jeane to accompany me in my climb. She, at least, was less affected by the elements. The cool breezes didn’t seem to bother her, so while I varied between feeling particularly warm or absolutely freezing, she took it all in stride.

Most of our trip was taken in silence.

There wasn’t really much I felt I had to say to her. She seemed eager to be my friend for whatever reason, and my indifference seemed to only encourage her.

It wasn’t that I held anything against her. Far from it, she’s a nice girl.

I just don’t like making friends that much.

She reached the next summit before I did and leaned over the edge, offering a hand down to me. I checked my foothold and eyed the rock to make sure it wasn’t slippery, then grabbed her hand and nodded.

She helped pull me onto the summit and I gave a deep exhale, my ancestral home in view at last. I remembered the last time she and I had walked through the snow together- more specifically, how it ended with a battle with Edo that we quickly lost.

Just as this thought crossed my mind, a shadowy figure appeared in the distance and I conjured my scythe, grasping it with both hands and entering a stance with it held before me. “Show yourself!” I shouted.

“Jumpy, aren’t you?” a woman chuckled, “Relax, Chris, it’s just me.”

“Mrs. Lane?” I dispelled my scythe and squinted through the snow.

Sure enough, Tucker’s totally hot mom was walking through the blizzard towards me and Jeane.

“What’re you doing out here?” I asked.

“Looking for you, her and a few others. Patrick’s been worried- we haven’t seen Pyral or Red since this morning, and Wyatt only just arrived.”

“You want me to go and look for them?” I asked.

She shook her head. “You’ve done your job for today. You two can go inside and rest up- Patrick’s got some more training planned tomorrow, you’ll need all the rest you can get.”

“You sure you don’t need any of my help?”

“It’s fine, honest. Tucker’s inside, too.”

“Oh, Tuck’s here?” I immediately felt incredibly motivated, “Seeya later, Raikov!”

I completely abandoned Jeane and bolted for the residence as fast as I could.


Chapter Twenty-Six

Passers in the Night



Alizarin Percidae’s Point of View.

I awoke to the sound of someone alternating between saying the words “Perch” and “Red”, and I realized that I was being shaken awake. I opened my eyes to find that I was in a cave, illuminated by a small fire in the corner while a snowstorm roared at the entrance, to my far left. I could hear what sounded like flowing water and realized a small stream was going past my feet and to the exit of the cave, and I had the further realization that I had lost consciousness during my climb and looked to my right, seeing a man slouched against the rocky wall, looking down at me with a tired gaze.

“P-Pyro?”

Pyral Wells nodded. “Yeah,” he gasped, “Got kinda hard to carry you, then the storm got really heavy...”

“Shit...what time is it?”

“Night hasn’t fallen yet,” Pi said, “But it’s pretty close and neither of us seem to have the energy to finish the climb.”

“So...we fail?”

“Yeah.”

I sighed. “Sorry,” I said, “You didn’t have to fail on my account.”

Wells laughed at that. “Are you kidding? We can’t save the world if you die on some random summit. I doubt that’s a worthy death for the son of Rye the Mantis.”

“Well, what do we do now?” I pulled myself to a sitting position and got closer to the fire, sticking a hand in it for a minute and pulling it back out, unharmed, feeling the warmth course through my body.

“Wait until the storm clears up or until nightfall,” Pi said, “In the former case, we can try to finish the climb. In the latter, we’ll finally be allowed to use our powers,”

“Why not just give up and use our powers to get there anyways?”

“Well, I’m actually too weak to at the moment. That fire took a lot out of me.”

I realized then that neither of us were in any kind of fit condition to finish this climb, powers or not. But then, my attention was drawn to the depths of the cave to my right. I couldn’t see very far, but...

“Why don’t we go through the cave?”

Wells blinked. “We could,” he said, “But I’m not sure it’ll get us out...”

“Do you have anything better to do?”

He shrugged. “I suppose not. Give me a few minutes and we can start on our way.”



Anton James’ Point of View.

I entered the bedroom Stooben had arranged for me after him, finding upon entry that he had taken the liberty to take everything from my apartment back in Colony 29- one of the five situated in a rainforest- to the room I would be staying in. He sat on my bed and looked down at me with a curious, intense glare that I did my best not to falter.

“How did you make it up first?” he asked.

I shrugged. “Well, I didn’t spend much time climbing. I found a part of the mountain that was more reasonably inclined, not the steep end everyone else started out at. It eventually turned to climbing, of course, and I passed your brother and the Wind girl on my way here. They didn’t seem to be in any particular hurry.”

I saw his lips pull into a smirk before he resumed his serious expression. “I see.” he said, “Good. You made your way up here before anybody else, displaying ingenuity and initiative...well, to be frank, I think we have a clear winner.”

“Winner? Was this a competition?”

“Of sorts. I gave people with type disadvantages the cue to go first, then the ones that were advantaged to go last. It was supposed to make the odds just about even for who would reach the top first- and you were that first person. You didn’t ask for it, but for that reason, I think you can be their leader.”

Leader?” I gulped, “Um, what about your brother? Or Nalia?”

“My brother’s smart, but frankly, he doesn’t handle leadership very well. I need someone who can keep a cool head in the face of adversity and make calm, rational decisions- you seem to be that person. Nalia’s too antagonistic. He still has much growing to do before he’s fit to become King.” Patrick shrugged, “That leaves it down to you. The fact that you beat them here says it all.”

I sighed. “No matter how much I beg, you aren’t going to let me get out of this, are you?”

“Nope.” he said, flatly.

“Fine, I’ll do it.”

“Good. See you in the dojo tomorrow.”



Tabuu’s Point of View.

Late that night and three of the Chimeras were still missing- Pi, Perch and Nalia were nowhere to be seen, and Stooben used a sensory technique he had picked up from Nalia to determine that none of the three were on or around the mountain.

Where, then, had they gone? The energy signature for all three of them ended in around the same area, but exploration of the surrounding areas didn’t reveal their presence. There was also a lingering energy signature closer to the peak of the mountain reminiscent of Wyatt’s, but it was separate from his so nobody was quite sure what it was. Wyatt himself shrugged it off.

Hope those dudes are okay. We do have to save the world, and me and the others can’t do it all by ourselves...

I shut my eyes and sighed, resting my head against my pillow. I was dressed in a white button-up shirt and simple blue jeans, my preferred sleeping attire for reasons unknown. My bedroom in the Lockheart Residence was unchanged since the last time I’d been inside it- which had actually been about three years.

When I trained with Stane. When I killed him.

“And not even three years later and you’ve killed another one of your family members. How many more Lockhearts have to die for your sake?”

I opened my eyes.

Ruin was standing in my room, leaned back against the wooden door, casually blocking the exit. For once, his hood was down and I could see his face clearly- he had wrinkles, but still came off as youthful, with bright pale skin like Hector’s, bleached white, spiky hair like Nalia, and blood-red eyes the same color of the Cynds. He was looking down at me with a wide grin on his face, and I immediately leaped toward him-

I was completely paralyzed.

I couldn’t move my body from its resting position, and Ruin walked across the room and took the care to sit on the side of my bed, looking down at me with an almost parental look of affection.

I struggled to move my mouth to speak. Is he reading my mind!? What the fuck is going on!?

“I am, actually,” Cecil said, “But worry not, it’s not an activity I engage in often. Your deepest, darkest secrets are things I already know, considering my hand in, well, making them that way. You should calm down, though. I’m actually not here to hurt you for once. Just ask you some questions.”

He raised his finger. “One, how many more of your family members have to die? I’m counting three so far...Edo, Stane, and your mother. Secondly, why did Meiro choose to take you into her home that night? And finally...” he looked genuinely sad, putting his hand against the side of my face, “Why do you fear your own Darkness? If you had embraced it like I told you to before, you would’ve become strong...stronger than your brother, even.”

YOUCRAZYSONOFABITCHGETTHEFUCKOFFMEDON’TTOUCHME

“I’m being serious! I mean, sure, you would’ve become a mindless monster...” his hand trailed down my neck and he bit his lip.

GOAWAYGOAWAYGOAWAYGOAWAY

“And sure, it would’ve hurt...” his hand stopped at the collar of my shirt, and he began unbuttoning it, revealing my chest, where a black Lockheart insignia had appeared over my heart, “But I’m not a fan of lost potential...so, just this once, I’m going to help you out. Don’t think so hard- it only hurts when I laugh.”

YOU CRAZY MOTHERFUCK-

He stabbed his hand through the Lockheart insignia.

And I didn’t feel a thing.

I looked down in horror at the point where his hand entered my body and he rolled his eyes, reeling back and pulling out a large, black snake, leaving my skin bare once more.

The snake gave a feral hiss at Ruin and he responded by frying it with dark energy and throwing it to the floor.

“I just did you a favor, boy.” Cecil said, patting my chest and rising from my bed, “Though I have two more things to tell you. One, this isn’t actually happening.” He began to walk away, making a waving motion as he went and grabbing the doorknob. “Two, someone’s at your door.”

I jolted awake at the sound of a loud knock and found that I was still in the same position I’d been in not five minutes ago, with my shirt safely buttoned and no dead snake on my carpet.

“Come in!” I called, shaking my head.

The door opened, and it was Stooben who entered.

“Chris," Patrick said, looking at the floor, "I have some bad news."

Back to chapter select.

They are here.
Gefradah - Human Parser

Nalia’s Point of View.

Where...am I?

I raised myself from a cold, wet stone floor and onto my knees. My black robes were soaked, so I simply opted to remove them, because nothing’s more annoying than feeling like you’re covered in wet towel all over your body. I blinked and glanced around the room, raising myself to my feet and taking a few stumbling steps before steadying myself against a wall.

Last thing I remember is...the test, and there was a voice calling me... the memory was blurry and my head hurt trying to remember it, but I persevered until it became clear, a voice called me into a cave, and then I woke up here...

I made a motion to conjure my scythe and it failed, meaning it was too far away to materialize in my hand. What? I’ve never been so far from weapons that I can’t conjure them...even when I left something in Colony 1, I could always materialize it if I were anywhere in Meiro...does that mean I’m...somewhere else?

Without my scythe, I still had powers inherited from my mother and the Cynds, so I shut my eyes and took a moment to scan the area I was in.

There’s two other humans here...I’m underwater, in a tower, but the top raises above the surface...it’ s a long climb, so I’ll find the other two first. Wherever I am, they might know the answer.


Chapter Twenty-Seven

SSS



The tower was relatively simple in its layout. Me and the other two humans were on the first floor, but the girth of the tower was impossibly wide and the light was provided by a skylight from the top of the tower, a glass ceiling that brought down blinding light from hundreds of feet above. There were small, unfurnished rooms all around the tower’s first floor, and I sensed the other two humans in one room about a mile from my position. The rooms lacked doors, simply providing open doorways to the tower’s floor, where, completely untouched by the sunlight but circling perfectly around it, was a jet-black, metallic spiral staircase that ascended to the skylight.

Upon closer inspection, I found that the railing on the staircase had a scale pattern, and I had the further realization that instead of normal stairs, every step on the spiral looked like another enormous black scale, layered one over the other, going higher and higher toward the heavens.

My father never told me anything about this...this doesn’t match the description or architecture of places like the Temple of Lum or the Cynd Palace...whatever this place is, it’s older than the Great Beasts and my family...but how is that possible?

I spent my walk to the other humans in deep thought, pondering what I had seen and trying to wrap my head around where we were and why I couldn’t detect a single familiar part of Trine. We definitely weren’t in the Grand Diamond Lake...but I couldn’t detect the mainland, and we’re underwater, so...

I had a flash of memory from over a hundred years ago, when I was a child and my father was showing me around the Cynd Palace.

I had asked him why Meiro was the only land in Trine and why we couldn’t go outside of its boundaries.

He gave me two answers: because Meiro was carved to be the only land mass in Trine, and that the creatures who did it demanded in return that the oceans be left to them.

But who were they?

I found that, much to my surprise, my human company were the Lightning and Fire Chimeras, Percy-something and Pie or whatever. I spent a few minutes waking them up, and they had a similar story as mine- they hadn’t heard any voices, but they had taken residence in a cave and decided to go deeper inside, and the next thing they knew I was waking them up here.

As I explained what I knew of our situation and what I planned on doing to get us out of here, we began to climb the tower’s stairway, and I kept my hand on the railing as I went, sliding my skin over the dark scales in deep thought. I looked down at the steps and then up at the ones above us, and then a realization hit me.

This stairway looks like...a snake.

'Sea serpents.'



We reached the top of the tower after what felt like hours of climbing and I fell on my ass, exhausted well beyond what I previously thought possible from mere physical exertion. The mountain had nothing on that staircase.

Just as I thought our ordeal was over, I felt an earth-shaking tremor and a deafening roar as something blasted through the sea towards us and coiled itself around the tower until the upper part of its body was level with us and it reared its gargantuan head as us and hissed.

“Humans,” said a sonorous voice as the massive, black sea serpent hissed at us, “You have been summoned here by the Seven Serpents of Sin, masters of the ocean of Trine. We have existed since before the beginning of Time, before this universe was reset, before the universe before that ended in Ruin, before the one before ended likewise and the preceding and so on. We are eternal, and all worlds we have lived in, do live in, and will live in know to heed our command. Bow.”

My two human friends didn’t even hesitate to bow to this gargantuan monster, but I stood my ground and glared up at it. “You’re the voice that led me here!” I shouted in a voice that sounded feeble and tiny in comparison to what I had just heard, “Who the hell are you to tell a Cynd to bow!?”

The snake shut its mouth and I heard and felt what seemed like an earthquake before realizing the serpent was simply laughing at me. “Human arrogance is a universal constant, is it not? It seems that no matter where we exist, it does as well. So be it, Nalia who Sinned. You may call me Pride. As you and your mother are the Darkness of this universe, I am the Darkness of reality itself; unending, eternal, omnipresent and omniscient. I am also like your female ancestor, the lesser serpent, for I am also the Gravity that holds the shards of the multiverse together. All worlds begin with us in them, and all so shall end.”

“Are you fucking threatening me!?” I roared, “I don’t care how big you talk or how ugly you are! YOU DO NOT THREATEN THE PEOPLE OF TRINE!

The world shook as Pride laughed, and I roared, releasing a torrent of dark energy from my person that threatened to block the sun and shroud Trine itself in darkness. Just as quickly as I exhaled this energy, I inhaled and it returned to a heavily compressed sphere floating before my chest, an orb of Dark energy with destructive power to rival that of a nuclear bomb.

And I released it.

It blasted half a mile before Pride simply opened his mouth and snapped it shut, swallowing my most powerful attack like it was a morning snack.

“Interesting,” he said, without opening his mouth, “This is the power of the son of space? Even combined with your mother’s power, this Darkness is...feeble. Such grand effort from you to attack me, yet this technique barely registers...you are not an ant to me, Nalia who Sinned. Ants are strong, intelligent and civilized, rather unlike you humans. You are not to me as an ant is to a human- you are to me what a microorganism is to you. There are billions of you all around me, but I do not care. Nothing you can say or do will change your fate, and all your actions only serve to greater causes. You live in ignorance to believe this is true power, that you and the sons and daughter can somehow stand to the might of the end of all things. Nothing you do will change matters. You three were summoned here simply so you could be told of what’s to come.”

He paused. “But you seek to do battle with an unimaginable enemy. So be it, Cynd.” The snake released himself from around the tower and pulled back from it, retreating miles away but still perfectly visible to our eyes, staring directly back at us with bright white slits. “I’ll let you attack me once more. Perhaps I underestimated you.”

I utilized my power over the shade to teleport into Pride’s shadow and created a massive claymore, longer and wider than I was tall or thick, comprised of compressed dark energy well beyond anything I had ever used before.

I dashed to the top of the snake’s head, roared, and leaped into the air, stabbing my blade completely into the serpent and penetrating one of its steely scales.

There was silence.

“That is all? Such a shame. Remind me never to overestimate human potential again.”

He released a pulse of gravitational energy that sent me falling skyward, Trine’s magnetism horrifically inverted. As I fell up, I looked down to see him with his mouth open frighteningly wide, creating a sphere of compressed dark energy that dwarfed the size of the Cynd Palace itself.

“Nalia who Sinned...your sin is Pride. Let me show you true darkness.”

Gravity returned to normal with a jolt and I began to fall at a speed far beyond terminal velocity, the snake manipulating Gravity once more to make it several times stronger than it was meant to be. making me fall so fast I was sure that my flesh would start tearing from my bones and that the wind itself was going to kill me before he did.

And then, Pride released the sphere.

One moment, it was in his mouth- then, the next, the universe itself lost all light. For a full second, the Sun’s light was obscured and not even the strongest electronic light could pierce the absolute oblivion Pride had brought upon the world.

In the next, it all returned, and my body was vaporized in the fraction of a millisecond.

Then Pride immediately reassembled my body down to an atomic level and killed me again.

And then I was assembled one last time and allowed to crash to the roof of the tower.

“We did not bring you humans here to fight us. As I have demonstrated, such fighting is meaningless. We are simply telling you what is to come to pass. The End is near. When it comes is dependent on you human’s actions, but to Us, time is of no importance. This is the last and only warning you will ever receive. If the actions of Maximilian the Second who Sinned are not brought to Ruin, this universe will be brought to Ruin, and We will return from our slumber to bring about the End of All Things. Nothing you do can prevent the End of All Things- but it can be delayed. Consider this a gesture of kindness- with most universes, we do not warn. We simply come. Your actions from here will determine when.”

I could barely move, breathe or think. My body and mind were still trying to comprehend what had happened.

“But make no mistake. The End will come, for it always does. You three may pass on this message, and when you next wake, you will be back whence you came.”

Just as he said it, I was hit with an unbearable desire to sleep, and I saw the other two barely prevent themselves from outright falling to the stone.

“That’s right, humans. Sleep. The Seven will sleep until it is time for Us to wake. Your waking time is closer than Ours, but Ours will come, and when it does, so will We.”

“Farewell.”

Back to chapter select.

Galaxia's End.
Gefradah - Unexpected Intro

Sadaharu Cen’s Point of View, the following day.

I entered the meeting room where Maximilian and the other seven waited. Max raised an eyebrow at me and nodded at me to speak while the others leaned forward, becoming attentive.

“They are beginning their training,” I said, “According to my descendant, they will be training to do battle with us for one week.”

“One week?” Xzelion laughed, “How do they think they can master the Lockheart Style and their own powers in a single week?”

I shrugged. “No clue. As long as they reside at the Lockheart Residence, however, we cannot attack them. Edo’s enchantments on the place are too strong to be broken.”

“I could enter.” Xzelion said, “The Lockheart Residences account for Lanes, as well, due to our relationship with one another. The house would not recognize me as an enemy.”

“That’s true,” Max boomed, “But you would not be able to fight them all by yourself. We would be unable to assist you, and I’ve no intention of sending you on a suicide mission. We have already lost Edo because he was out of practice and he went easy on his descendant. Are you sure yours is trustworthy, Cen?”

“Absolutely.” I said, unhesitantly, “The boy has my eyes. Cold resolve.”

“Perhaps. Perhaps he can be trusted. But if he betrays us, he will be killed. We cannot afford to lose any more. If too many of you die, I won’t be able to use Galaxia to its full extent.”

I nodded. “So, what do you propose? Do we wait while our enemies become stronger?”

“Of course not.” Max looked directly into my eyes. “We strike tomorrow. The Order has informed me where the chimeras live. While they are away, we destroy their homes. We murder their friends and remove their will to fight.”

“Are you sure about this, Maximilian?” Damien Lux turned to Max, “These people are citizens of Meiro. They are innocent.”

“They are,” Maximilian said, “But at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how much innocent blood is spilled. The Seven are still asleep. Before they wake, we must execute Galaxia. It’s our only hope.”

“A world without gods,” Jonathan Gild said, “One without sin. No matter how many people we have to kill to make it happen, remember that the price can be paid. We work for a higher cause, and the world will thank us for this when it’s done.”

Max gave a nod in agreement. “I’m going to sleep for now,” he said, “I trust you all can keep yourselves occupied while I rest?”

Xzelion chuckled. “Of course. Sleep, Max. We will guard you.”


Chapter Twenty-Eight

Weakly



Tabuu’s Point of View.

I sighed.

“I’m convinced you three are utterly full of shit, but Nalia has the comedic sensibilities of a rock, so this all has to be true. And stupid.”

We were gathered in the Lockheart Residence’s dojo, dressed in white hakama that Patrick had supplied us and sitting in a loose circle shape on the polished wooden floor. Nalia, Pyral and Percy-something were recounting their meeting with Pride and the rest of us- me, Jeane, Anton and Wyatt, plus Patrick and Raikov- were sitting with them. Like most dojos, one of the walls were a mirror and everything else was polished wood, in sharp contrast to the architecture of the rest of the mansion, which was very spacey and horizontally inclined, based on traditional Italian architecture.

Patrick and Raikov followed their story solemnly, Anton looked nervous, Jeane seemed confused, Wyatt (the dick) seemed not to care very much at all, and I was still pretty sure that this was all some kind of elaborate fuckery-ruse and that I’d realize that every horrible thing that had happened to me in the past few weeks was merely a grand prank.

Maybe I actually died when Max killed me and this is all some kind of elaborate final moments hallucination to grant me the closure I never received in life. Or maybe I died when Ruin killed me. Maybe I’m dead now and this is all just some kind of shitty Sixth Sense twist.

Actually, wait. I had sex with a snake goddess, so this must be real. I wouldn’t have sex with a literal goddess in my wildest self-insert fantasies.

...Right?

I stared at my reflection absentmindedly, wondering if my theory was correct, wondering if all this new information was wild death-improvisations, wondering if Patrick had any snacks on him.

“Chris. Chris, pay attention.”

I jumped to a state of alertness and automatically recounted the last bit of information in my short-term memory. “Sin-themed snake monsters. Nalia got his ass kicked.”

Patrick sighed. “We have more to talk about, but I’m glad you’re keeping track. Anton, stand up. I’m going to tell them the thing.”

“The thing?” the rest of us asked in uncanny synchronization.

“Yes,” Patrick said, “The thing.”

“What’s the thing?” Wyatt asked.

“The thing is...” Anton sighed, “According to Patrick, I’m going to be you guys’ leader.”

What.” Me and Nalia said, simultaneously, before snarling, glaring at each other and falling silent.

“It wasn’t his choice,” Stooben said, “I chose him because of the initiative and creativity he displayed in the process of making it up the mountain. He was the first one here, despite not having a time advantage or a significant type advantage. I understand that you may not think this is fair, but the thing about tests of leadership is that nobody knows they’re a leader until they become one. Any objections?”

My ego roared that I should challenge Anton to a fistfight, win, and then declare my alpha male supremacy over all beneath me, but then I realized that Wyatt was pretty muscular and would probably kick my ass so I decided against it.

Nalia and I made eye contact and nodded, making the mutual, silent agreement that even though we weren’t in positions of leadership, we were still obviously the best and strongest members of the group and that anyone else who thought otherwise was wrong and stupid.

“Good.” Patrick responded to a silent room, “This means that Anton will be the one that learns the Walkazo’s Sense Synchronization technique.”

“He’s going to learn Sense Synchronization from Walkazo? Isn’t she still mad at you?”

“I convinced her to help us out. She’s not willing to doom the fate of the world over a grudge, unlike some of us.”

Me and Nalia had actually made a second attempt at murdering each other a few days ago, but we had been caught and our fight was put at a standstill and we agreed to a truce. Technically, we weren’t fighting with intent to kill at the time, but then I stabbed Nalia and he got really angry and...yeah.

“So how is this training going to work?” Jeane asked.

“Good question,” Raikov responded, “And I’m the one that’s going to be training you most of the time, so listen up.”

She waited for us to fall silent and look at her, then she continued “As you were told before you climbed the mountain, we will be training for a single week. In a week, you can’t learn the Lockheart Style, you can’t become a prodigal magician or a master swordsman, and you really can’t learn much of anything. What we will be doing is getting a grasp on where you are now. Your skills will develop with your experience, but we’re going to use this time to determine what those skills are and where you should start and what your weaknesses are. You’re all in good condition, body-wise, but you obviously have different affinities, different body types, different skills...this training program will focus on three different strengths for three different days: body, mind, and form. Questions?”

“Three days?” Wyatt scratched his head, “I thought you said a week...”

Raikov twitched. “That’s for the first three days, I meant.” she corrected, “The next three days will repeat that cycle, and on the last day of your training, each of you will be taught something individually by Walkazo, Javelin, or Patrick. Any more questions?”

“When do we start?” I asked, not comfortable with letting other people talk in my place.

“Right now.” Patrick said, pushing himself to his feet and stepping back from the circle, indicating for those still sitting to stand, “I’m just going to watch how you perform. Raikov, they’re all yours.”

We all stood, uncertain, awkwardly glancing at each other, our reflections, Raikov’s chest, Patrick, the wall...until there was a sound of deafening thunder and I nearly pissed myself.

“Body training time,” Raikov Lane said, cracking her knuckles, “Who’s first?”

Back to chapter select.

Yin and yang don't mix.
Jim Guthrie - The Cloud

Raikov Lane’s Point of View.

I tapped my foot on the floor impatiently. “Well? None of you man enough to fight me?”

“I think the problem is that you’re a woman, Raikov,” Patrick called from behind me, “Clearly, they don’t believe you can give them a proper fight.”

“Is that so?”

The males of the group went into furious displays of denial while simultaneously declaring themselves above hitting a female, as if I were a lower class, while Jeane, the only other woman in the room, just looked at her feet and sighed, clearly not the fighting type.

I looked at Christopher and mentally apologized for what I was about to do. Don’t feel too humiliated. They’re hitting the floor next.

In seconds, I crossed the six-foot gap between myself and Christopher Lockheart and punched him in the stomach. He was quick to react, with a swing from his right, but I made easy work of blocking him and ducking beneath his arm, twisting it, kicking the back of his leg and sending him crashing to the floor in one smooth motion.

I advanced on Nalia next, but he had foreseen me and made to dodge most of my lunges, clearly not being very adept at fistfighting. Surprisingly, Anton took the initiative to attack me while I was distracted, but I made easy work of avoiding him, grabbing the chest of his hakama and pulling it roughly, taking him off balance and pushing him into Nalia.

Perch was next, coming in from my left and managing to land a very soft hit on my side.

I inwardly laughed. Now’s not the time for chivalry, boy.

I twirled and used the momentum to slam my left fist into his chest incredibly hard, pushing him off balance and using my right leg to send him to the floor as well.

I stepped over him and lunged at Wyatt, who blocked my first strike and countered with a swing for my face, which I leaned back to dodge and countered with a kick to his chest. Pyral was taking the initiative to attack while I was engaging with Wyatt, yet the lesson that he should’ve picked up from Anton was painfully lost on him and I opted to lean back, grab him at the waist and throw him in Wyatt’s direction, who was smart enough to move out of the way while the unfortunate Lightning user slammed to the ground.

Wyatt resisted me every step of the way, proving surprisingly sufficient at blocking my attacks, anticipating my strafes and feints, and managing to land a few good, strong hits in, showing that he wasn’t holding back and that the muscles weren’t for show.

However, he made a mistake and stepped back when I made another step into his personal space, and I ended the fight with a harsh clap on either side of his temple, sending him crashing to the floor.

Jeane still hadn’t moved from her earlier position, and I had a moment of sympathy, realizing the poor girl just wasn’t a fighter. She seemed out-of-place here, though from what Stooben and my son had told me, she was very support-oriented on the battlefield.

I approached her next. She didn’t attempt to run or counter, and before I knocked her to the floor, I whispered something into her ear.

It’s alright.

With a swift movement of my leg, Jeane hit the wooden floor ass-first, silent while her comrades were busy moaning and groaning in their respective piles around the room.


Chapter Twenty-Nine

Light bearer



Tabuu’s Point of View, seven days later.

After a week of body training (where Raikov beat the living shit out of each and every one of us with her bare hands and then made us fight each other, too), weapon training (where Stooben had us practice with our soulsteel weapons made blunt) and magic training, I was set to have a last session of personal training with Javelin Noir, that guy from the Royal Guard who was the magic training teacher.

During the magic training, Javelin taught most of us how to use magic granted to us by our human parents. In the case of people like Wyatt and Pi, who were only a single element, he merely taught them how to better harness their human sides.

There was Alizarin Percidae- who I’m just going to call Red, because his name is stupid and long- who was the Fire Chimera with a mother who was an Earth type, so he was able to use Earth techniques, which is a very rare, special talent, since Shinn Terra had very few women pass on his genetics before he decided to settle with only a certain one. Jeane’s father, on the other hand, was Ice, so she was capable of using Wind and Dark-spectrum magic techniques despite being quite weak when attacked by them.

Finally, Anton James was Water and Lightning, and that let him benefit quite well in terms of magical flexibility.

And then, of course, there’s me.

Here’s where we hit a hitch.

No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t use Darkness at all. Magically, I was restricted to Light-spectrum attacks.

The reason behind this was that since my father was literally living Light and my mother was a Darkness affinity, only one was able to exist within my body. Normally, if two opposite-Affinity parents have a child, that child will simply take the Affinity that’s the strongest. Simple as that. Normal people don’t have dual Affinities.

The chimeras are an exception due to their parentage. Javelin explained that my body is Light due to my father’s influence, but that my affinity is Darkness due to my mother’s. There is no battle between two affinities within a chimera, because they- by which I mean we- aren’t human.

The only reason there’s one-or-the-other in my case is because a body of Light will not allow Darkness to exist inside it at all. Normal human bodies are not composed of elemental energy, which gives both affinities a chance to fight for dominance. Chimeras have a single affinity from their human parents and then a body composed of the elemental energy of their Great Beast parents.

The Cynd are Sages, so they have all nine affinities in their bodies. Nalia’s Darkness, so he has a body of Darkness with all nine affinities, and Maximilian is Gravity, so he has a body of Gravity with, as you guessed, all nine.

So yeah, I’m the weakest link.

I know just a while back I was complaining about being the one guy without powers- and I guess that now I’m part of a save-the-world brigade, I’m still complaining because now instead of being the weakest link around ordinary people, I’m the most ordinary out of a group of extraordinary people.

So Javelin told me that he wanted to meet me on the roof of the Lockheart Residence after he finished teaching Wyatt and Pi whatever their personal lessons were.

Around ten at night, I got a text from Javelin telling me to meet him on the roof, so I decided to teleport up there and see what he wanted.

For once, the Lockheart Residence wasn’t in the midst of a blizzard. Snow gently fell onto the mountain top mansion, but the night sky was mostly devoid of clouds and the two moons of Trine were clearly visible.

Javelin was waiting for me on the edge of one of the long sides of the house, looking up at the moons and sitting with his legs dangling over the roof.

Before I announced my presence, Javelin beckoned for me to join him, and I did a little dash to run from the middle of the roof to where he sat. (Remember, mansion, the roof is pretty ridiculously large.)

Once I sat down beside him, he pointed at Lum, the second moon.

“Do you know the importance of Lum?” he asked.

I shook my head.

“Lum is the moon where the Great Beasts were born,” Javelin said, “And on Lum, there was a Temple built that gathered the universe’s energy to create the Great Beasts.”

“That’s cool, I guess. Is the Temple still there?”

“It wasn’t until recently.” Javelin said. “You see, the Temple of Lum was brought down to Trine upon the founding of Colony 1, shortly before the battle of Evoltsul. A single room from the Temple- where the Reaper Council met- was left in the foundations of what would later become the Cynd Palace, and the Temple itself was merged with a land mass where a gemstone was created by Kai and Alex to power the island’s floatation and create the seal that Max and the Ancestors were sealed in. The seal itself used the power of the other Great Beasts too, of course. but Kai and Alex held the biggest part in creating it.”

I nodded.

“When the seal was broken and Maximilian escaped, you may recall him blasting the island you lived on into Lum. The island where Colony 132 was founded and the island holding the Temple of Lum are one and the same- so this means that the Temple has returned to its original home.”

“That’s...cool and all, but what does that have to do with anything?”

Javelin put up a single finger. “Wait. I’m getting there.”

“Alright.”

“Anyways,” Javelin said, “We have never been able to detect any of the Ancestors unless they come for one of you. Maximilian, despite being an incredible mass of pure power, has remained undetected despite his unsealing being felt all around the country. Now, I want you to ask yourself: why would he blast an island into the moon?”

“Because he was pissed?”

“No, because he needed somewhere to stay. Max and the Ancestors have been operating from the Temple of Lum this entire time, and the longer we wait to defeat them, the stronger Max becomes. You know why?”

I shook my head.

“The Temple itself, remember? It was used to gather the energy of the universe itself. Max, being both a Sage and a Chimera, is steadily gaining more and more strength by simply being there.”

“Then what do you propose we do about it? We can’t go to the moon!”

“Exactly.” Javelin said, “You have to bring Max here. The only way you’re going to be able to do that is...”

“If we kill the Ancestors first.” I finished.

“That’s about it.”

“So, wait...what are you supposed to be teaching me, again? Don’t you have, like, a secret technique or something to tell me about?”

“Oh, yeah, that. Here, have this.”

Javelin handed me a miniature golden cross and I took it.

“Um...what is this? I’m an atheist, you kno-”

“It’s a Lucifer,” Javelin explained, “Damien Lux uses one himself. It’s a device created to minimize excess Light usage and enable you to do more with less. You’ll need it if you want to stand a chance against the Ancestors.”

I shrugged and put it around my neck.

Initially, I felt a heavy sensation, but after waiting a few seconds it disappeared.

“So this will help me be more energy-efficient?”

“Yeah,” Javelin said, “It’s very popular among Light users, though it’s incredibly difficult to create and very expensive as a result. What you’re wearing around your neck right now costs about a thousand dollars.”

I blinked. “Holy shit.”

“Yeah. Thank Walkazo.”

“Walka-who?

Javelin sighed. “Walkazo. Me and her were around after you killed Edo? Blue hair? She blows things up? Is this ringing any bells?”

“Oh, that chick!” I faintly remembered a feeling of utter terror upon meeting her, but I couldn’t quite remember why. She probably set off the crazy-radar. Yeah, that’s usually what scares me.

Javelin made his way off the edge of the roof, stood, and brushed himself off, starting to walk away. I quickly moved to follow him, but he said “Stop.” and I did so just in the middle of getting to my feet.

“Someone else wants to talk to you.” Javelin said, “I’ll let them take it from here.”

Javelin vanished and I stood to my full height, taking some confused looks around the roof to see who else wanted to talk to me.

“Yo.”

I nearly fell off the fucking roof at the sound of her voice, and when I turned to face her I considered jumping anyways.

It was Melinda Cynd, aka Meiro, aka Nalia’s-great-grandmother-who-I-had-sex-with.

“What’re you doing here?” I sputtered, “Are you trying to get us attacked? Am pretty sure Max will come out to get a piece of you!”

She shook her head. “Nah, Max was never that good at detecting people. Anyways, I’ve stayed under the radar for about three times as long as you’ve been alive, so you shouldn’t be worrying about me.”

I never thought I would regret fucking something in my life. That’s it. I’m clean. No more recreational sex. No more aggressive flirtation or anything. Last time I got laid I fucked my mortal enemy’s mother. Nope. Nooooooope.

Actually...

“Why are you here?” I asked.

She smirked. “I think you know why.”

“I don’t consent!” I shouted, pointing an accusatory finger at her, “I was drunk!”

“...What? No, I was going to tell you why I did that. You kept asking and I wanted to wait until we had some privacy to explain. Don’t think Nalia would like knowing you fucked his gram-gram, right?”

I had a vivid mental image of Nalia tearing out my beating heart and nodded. “Alright. So fill me in.”

“Well, as you may have picked up, I’ve been kind of hunting Ruin.”

I nodded. “And?”

“Well, Ruin started to fixate on you and Nalia.” she explained, “And since I want to kill the bastard, I had to keep track of you two as well.”

“Continue.”

“Once you two split up, he decided to start following you, so that’s where I came. I picked up something about Colony 51 being your destination, so a few days before you guys arrived I rented an apartment there.” She gave a nervous chuckle.

“You stalked me?”

“No, nothing like that! Okay, well, something like that. Look, Ruin killed my husband and kind of ruined my family, alright? I have reasons!”

Hehe, ruined.

I scowled and nodded. “Continue, then.”

“Well, after you killed Edo, you ended up going out to a bar, and since I figured Ruin would probably attack you on your way home, I decided to come in there and take you to mine, where you’d be safe.”

“And at what point did you decide fucking and biting me was a part of ensuring my safety? Pretty sure that’s not standard hero procedure.”

“Well...” she sighed and cast her gaze downward, “There’s another reason I did that.”

“And that was?”

“I planted some of my energy inside of you,” she confessed, “So I could better track you and detect when Ruin was near you. As soon as Ruin attacked you, I manipulated the energy so that it would save the state your body was in just before you got attacked, so that once the transformation was complete I could reverse it and save your life.”

I wasn’t sure whether I should feel disgusted, violated or grateful.

She used me. She literally fucking used me.

“So that’s all I am, is it?” I snarled, approaching her, “A piece in this elaborate fucking game between you and Ruin and whoever the fuck else? Is that it? You fucking people decide you’re going to train and use me up until I do my job and kill whoever you need me to, and then what? I’m not your errand boy, bitch!”

She had been getting on the defensive until the very last word I said, and then her demeanor completely changed. “What did you just say to me?”

“I called you a bitch, bitc-

She punched me in the stomach. Hard.

I collapsed to my knees and nearly vomited, barely able to breathe.

“Listen to me.” she said, calmly, setting her foot on the top of my head, “This isn’t a fucking game. There are real people all around you, with real lives at stake that you’re a crucial part of saving. Don’t you dare attack me for doing what I needed to do to protect you and the people of Trine. Understand?”

“Yes- yes ma’am.” I gasped.

She took her foot off my head and turned away from me. “Do you have anymore questions to ask? You’re hardly the most important thing I have on my plate, so if you have something to say, say it now.”

I thought about the nightmare with Ruin, where he took a black snake out of my chest and destroyed it, saying he was doing me a favor.

Yes, Christopher, I thought blandly, Tell the goddess about how Ruin bullies you in your nightmares. That’ll get you somewhere.

“No.” I said, getting to my feet and regaining my composure, “I have nothing to say to you.”

I blinked and she was gone.

Taking one last look at Sol and Lum, I decided it was about time for me to go, too.

Back to chapter select.

I wanna fly.
Serj Tankian - Wings of Summer

Wyatt Cen’s Point of View.

Not even two days after our training officially ended, the Royal Guard’s intelligence network reported that Barchetta Vulc had been sighted in Colony 29, one of the colonies located in what was called the Cielo Rainforest, a mass so large that it took up nearly an eighth of Southwest Meiro.

In accordance to my agreement with my Ancestor, I sat at the computer that Patrick had so kindly provided in my room and logged into Locknet, an IRC network in what some call the Deep Web that provides both maximum encryption and a proxy network so large that users are nigh untraceable, unless the machines they use to log on is bugged.

You are now talking in channel #locknet on irc.324312733144.org

<Rude> Who’s this scrub?
<Rude> hey, anon, I’m talkin’ to you
<anon3> oh sorry
<anon3> how do i change my nickname?
<Rude> /nick whatever you wanna be called
<Rude> Advice, newbie: don’t use your actual name.

anon3 has changed their username to why

<why> i think this one will do
<Rude> I see.
<Rude> I’ll have your man in here in a second.

Rude has invited Sen to #locknet

Sen has joined #locknet

<Sen> Pleased to see you again. You can run along, Rudy.
<Rude> Watch it, iceman.

Rude has left #locknet

<why> why did you do that?
<Sen> You’re a spy, aren’t you? Who’s to say he couldn’t be?
<Sen> The only weakness in a perfect system is the people themselves, you know.
<why> i guess thats a good point
<why> anyways
<why> i’m going to go ahead and update you
<Sen> Continue.
<why> anton and i are heading for vulc
<why> since were the only ones who can beat him
<Sen> I see. I’ll be sure to tell him not to fatally injure you.
<why> im glad you care so much
<Sen> You’re my blood, why wouldn’t I?
<Sen> What about movements of the others?
<why> if you want to provoke the actions of the lockhearts, then you’ll want to go after their friends
<why> search for katryna michelle
<why> shes with the colony 132 refugees
<Sen> Where?
<why> colony 3
<why> patrick literally purchased three city blocks for the refugees
<Sen> Interesting.
<Sen> I think I can handle the Lockhearts. I’ll be heading there myself.
<Sen> Any other updates?
<why> nothing
<Sen> Nice.

Sen has left #locknet

why has left #locknet

I sighed and rubbed my temples, putting my elbows on the desk and resting my head in my hands. I remained like that until I heard a knock at the door, jumped, and quickly closed Tor- a tool used to access the Deep Web.

“Are you alright?” Patrick called from outside, “We’re getting ready to go here soon, do you need anything?”

“It’s all fine!” I responded, getting out of my chair and opening the door, “I have everything in order.”

Stooben ran his eyes up and down my person and smirked. “Good. Let’s get going.”


Chapter Thirty

Ice and fire



Barchetta Vulc’s Point of View.

Maybe I should just burn this place down. It’s a big, beautiful forest, but I need to get them to hurry.

I was resting atop the highest, oldest, thickest tree in the Cielo Rainforest, looking down on the forest and toward the White Mountains, in the North, where my target would soon be approaching from. I stood to my full height and began a slow walk on the topmost branch, which was nearly three feet wide- the branches beneath, however, were much thicker, and in some parts of the massive tree there were even houses on them.

The sun above was casting a bloody light on the world, and I shut my eyes and extended my senses with the help of the heat.

Two powerful energy sources heading here from the North. They were using rapid bursts of power as transport, covering miles in seconds on their way here. They weren’t yet close enough for me to sense what exactly the affinities were, but I figured it was a safe assumption that I’d be seeing the brats of Alex and Kai, considering their place as being the safest to fight against me.

Alex’s kid, though. Cen’s boy. He told me not to hurt him.

I shook the thought out of my head.

Unlike Cen, I didn’t particularly care about his family and scheming. Trine and everything in it is fleeting in its beauty.

I eyed the forest beneath me and I sighed.

This place is paradise and there’s not even rain today. Like the forest knows what’s coming.

I took a deep breath, tasting the trees and the moisture and the people and the animals beneath me before I sighed and the taste left my mouth with a wisp of flame.

All good things must come to an end at one point or another.

I inhaled again, stronger this time, letting the heat build in my chest.

This forest and all that lives in it is so beautiful.

I roared, releasing a plume of flame that cut through the trees and loudly, deafeningly exploded half a mile beneath me.

I inhaled again, tasting the burning wood and the pained screams and the blood before breathing out once more, stronger, releasing a column of fire so scaling it burnt my tongue.

I began to smell smoke and realized that I had overdone it.

It won’t even be two hours before this forest is done at this rate.

I shrugged.

It was a beautiful fire.

The energy signatures weren’t even a mile away from me now. I could see them leaping across the trees in the distance, and with another inhale I could taste the rage from one of them.

Anton!” I shouted, “Son of Kai!

I raised my arms and the fire beneath me raised as well, spreading ever more through the forest, “To whom do I owe the pleasure of meeting you here?

Half a mile away, I could see Anton’s face and the rage that had struck him.

But the person who came with him did not have the eyes of the Cens.

He had the eyes of the Cynds. Blood-red.

Nalia Hector Cynd, son of Taka, smirked.



Tabuu’s Point of View, Colony 3.

“He’s coming.” Stooben said, opening his eyes, “From the East. Are you two ready to fight him?”

“Of course we are.” Wyatt said, slapping my back, “We’re the Ancestricide Men! We’re the best in town at killing our relatives!”

Wyatt and I shared a laugh and all Patrick could do was close his eyes and shake his head.

“I can’t exactly bail you guys out of this one,” Patrick admitted, “Be careful.”

“We’ll be fine.” I said.

Wyatt and I stepped outside of Kat’s house- where me, Patrick and Wyatt had chosen to teleport to from the Lockheart Residence- and I leaped into the air, landing on a rooftop slightly to the left of Kat’s house.

Colony 3, like Colony 1, was a bit of a crowded metropolitan area, so we wanted to intercept Sadaharu before he actually made it here. The closest colony Eastward was Colony 9, which, as I learned from my unfortunate journey with Nalia to find Jeane, was a bleak, snowy hellhole that I didn’t even remotely enjoy.

At least there’s sun in the mountains, Jesus.

Wyatt and I set off.



Lee Terra’s Point of View.

I was absorbed in my phone while my dad was talking, recounting his stories about how he used to fight Super-Pops back in the day and what the man’s biggest weaknesses were.

“Are you even listening?” Skell asked, in that robotic voice of his.

I looked up at him from across the table, glanced at the photograph of me and my mom on the wall to my right and his left, then looked into his freaky skeletal eye holes and calmly responded, “Destroy his limbs, right?”

“At the same time,” Skell said, “Or else he’ll regenerate. Cynd blood has its benefits.”

I nodded. “How do I go about doing that?”

“You would need to take him by surprise. Shinn Terra does not an easy target make.”

I shrugged. “I’ll munch on another death row dude before I fight him then, easy.”

“You’ll need much more than a full stomach to defeat him,” Skell said, “Recall that even I haven’t achieved the task. You’ll need help.”

“From who?”

“Nalia and Christopher.”

“Christa-who?

“Christo-pher. Light chimera. Cyria’s boy.”

I nodded. “Alright, then. How can they help?”

“Nalia’s a good fighter,” Skell said, “Not sure about Christopher Lockheart, but the boy did kill his Ancestor.”

“His Ancestor probably went easy on him.” I said.

Skell nodded. “Most likely. I’ve seen much larger displays of power from Edo Lockheart before, and he was always such a family man before he got sealed. He was admittedly not much of a good dad to his kid, but to the Lockhearts, family means everything.”

I snorted. “Good for them. That’s what gets them killed so often, isn’t it? What is it with the Lockhearts and patricide anyways?”

Skell gave a robotic laugh. “Ha-ha-ha. When I said everything, I do mean everything. A Lockheart lives from their family and die by their family.”



Sadaharu Cen’s Point of View.

On my way to Colony 3, I realized that I was being approached. I was long out of Colony 9- where Cen Mountain was located, a favorite of mine- and the land west of Colony 9 had yet to be populated, so the trees were mostly pine and inches of snow rested on the ground, carried by the wind from the mountain named after me.

Lacking sensory capabilities outside of colder areas, I met my company on a lone, winding dirt road headed towards my destination, the soles of my shoes sinking through the snow.

Wait...Wyatt?

Wyatt and his company had stopped on their way to me, walking side-by-side at a leisurely pace towards me. The boy beside him I did not recognize, but he was giving off the faintest signature of Light energy, so that could only mean...

What is this?” I shouted, “What have you gone and done, Wyatt!?

Wyatt shrugged his shoulders and gave me a shit-eating grin.

“Does he need to spell it out for you?” Cyria’s son called, “It’s pretty basic addition. He’s here and he said he would be somewhere else. Coincidentally, he’s with me!”

Who are you?” I called back, “I’m here for the Lockhearts!

“I am a Lockheart,” Cyria’s son said, giving a little laugh, “The name’s Christopher Lockheart.” He conjured a golden claymore with a scarlet chain pattern wrapped around the blade and held it toward me, one-handed, “But you can call me Tabuu. It’s a pen-name.”

Wh-what? Wyatt, you didn’t tell me about thi-

“Didn’t see a reason to, pops!” Wyatt shouted, “See, unlike my friend here, family doesn’t mean shit to me, especially not my mom’s side!”

Wyatt conjured twin rapiers with a flick of his wrists, a ray of sunlight reflecting off their deep blue.

You- you lied to me-

“Got anything else to say, Captain Obvious?” Tabuu jeered, “Because this is the part where we kill you!”

That cocky little statement broke my outrage and replaced it with mirth.

I laughed.

I laughed so hard I thought I would die.

“Let me get this straight,” I said upon regaining my composure, pointing my fingers at the two of them, who weren’t even twenty feet from me now, “You two- Alex’s brat and Cyria’s mistake- think you can kill me?”

“That’s the idea.” Wyatt said, simply.

“That’s a terrible one.” I chuckled, “You definitely don’t get your brains from my side of the family. Whatever! I’ll kill you both.”

The smile disappeared completely and the air around me grew colder, “I’ll freeze you to the bone and break the ice.

“You first.” Wyatt said.

A scythe composed of pure ice appeared above my head and I snatched it out of the air before it fell.

“With pleasure.” I responded, clutching the weapon and slashing it.

Back to chapter select.

Franz Ferdinand - New Kind of Thrill

Wyatt Cen’s Point of View.

A wide crescent of ice flew toward me and Christopher Lockheart, and I made the decision to use Crystallize, my father’s signature technique, to block the attack with a large shard of ice stabbing from the ground before me.

The portion of the crescent that would’ve hit me was negated, but the rest continued, unimpeded, toward my battle partner.

I turned to my left and shouted his name.

Lockheart!

Christopher Lockheart swung his claymore vertically just before the ice met him, but instead of negating the attack, he was immediately frozen solid.

In less than a second, Sadaharu Cen was in front of the mass of ice containing Christopher Lockheart, scythe held above his head, ready to deal the killing blow.

Rompehielo!” my Ancestor shouted.

Crystallize!

Sadaharu’s scythe failed to penetrate the ice containing Christopher Lockheart and he gave a confused blink, wondering why his attack failed. Crystallize was the technique that created the unbreakable ice around the seal, and I had used it as a layer over Sadaharu's own to prevent him from breaking through.

“Confused?” I asked, twirling the rapiers at either of my sides, “I thought you were smarter than that.”

I covered the distance between me and my Ancestor rapidly and stabbed both of my rapiers through his back, simple and clean.

I heard a deafening crack and realized Sadaharu had turned into...ice?

“I could say the same about you.” Sadaharu said, from behind me, “But you really didn’t get your brains from my side of the family, did you?”

I pulled my rapiers but they failed to come out of the ice and I had a sinking feeling, realizing that I was now without a weapon, with my back to an enemy.

Melt.

Sense Synchronization.


Chapter Thirty-One

Livin' in Cen



Multiple things happened at once.

The ice containing Christopher Lockheart melted with a crackle of scarlet lightning, a Sense link was opened between me and him and I could see, smell, hear and feel what he saw, smelled, heard and felt, and that was my Ancestor looking down at me, coldly, from behind, swinging his scythe at my neck.

Golden Fang!” A golden blade protruded from the ice statue my blades were stuck inside and the statue itself was vaporized near instantaneously as the blade approached my chest and I fell backward to avoid it.

Said blade proceeded, uninterrupted, and stabbed into the chest of my Ancestor, who was pushed off his feet by the force of it.

Howl!

The blade glowed a sinister red and crackled with scarlet lightning as it detonated in midair, sending Sadaharu Cen crashing into and through a tree on the side of the trail as the weapon’s wielder appeared before it, grabbing it before it went any further.

Without turning, he reached behind himself and I grabbed his hand as he pulled me up, our minds in perfect harmony, our next move already planned.

“That really hurt, kid...” Sadaharu emerged from the broken wood, brushing himself off and walking toward us with his chest slowly regenerating, “But this pain is quite feeble in comparison to what I went through in the seal.”

He stood on higher ground, looking down at us with a condescending sneer, “This pain is nothing. You send Light and Ice to kill Ice? Where’s the logic there? My rival is Rai and his child, not the wolf and hedgehog. You’re not going to come close to killing me at this rate.”

“Of course we aren’t,” we said, simultaneously, “But you aren’t going to be killing us at this rate, either.”

“Then WHAT’S THE POINT!?” Sadaharu shouted, the cool facade replaced with deranged fury, “WHY ARE YOU HERE?

“There’s not much documentation on your capabilities,” said a new voice, from behind Sadaharu, “And my dad kind of forgot what it was like to fight you.”

Sadaharu’s face went blank and he froze in place.

Above and behind him, standing on a tree branch, was Pyral Wells, son of Rai the Mantis, the Lightning Chimera.

He was wielding twin cutlasses, each of which shining a bright, electric blue and giving off crackling of static every second.

Pi leaped off the branch with the blades over his head and swung down as he fell toward my Ancestor.

Sadaharu Cen smirked and spread his arms upward, conjuring his scythe and blocking the blades from behind before they reached him.

Then he shattered.

Sense Synchronization was activated between me, Christopher and Pi, but the location of our enemy eluded us.

I then felt overwhelming pain as Christopher Lockheart and Pi screamed, clutching their chests and falling to their knees.

I looked down and noted, rather absentmindedly, that a blade of ice was protruding from my chest from behind, and while I felt their pain, my body felt nothing at all.

The ice was stained with blood. Mine.

“I’ve seen Sense Synchronization in action before, fuckwit,” Sadaharu snarled, “We use it too. And it shares everything.

He pulled the blade backward, out of my body, and more blood gushed from the wound, painting the snow at my feet with red as my vision blurred.

I hit the snow hard, the connection breaking and my consciousness fading just as quickly, realizing that no matter which way I fell, I was going to die here, of blood loss.

I closed my eyes and accepted it.



Pyral Wells’ Point of View.

With a surge of energy throughout my body, I was revitalized and I immediately leaped to my feet, my connection with my partners lost.

Wyatt was bleeding to death. Christopher had simply lost consciousness.

“It’s just you and me now, Saudy,” I said, quoting my father’s nickname for him, “It’s time to finish this.”

Sadaharu Cen laughed. “Your fathers sealed me in ice for two centuries and you talk to me about finishing this? The Great Beasts failed to defeat us in battle and opted instead to seal us away in an ice prison, and you speak to me about closure?

Sadaharu set his scythe over his shoulder and faced me with cold eyes, staring with a hatred so strong I felt it in my bones. “The temperature was hardly a concern, but the ice stabbed inside me from all directions, and it hurt. For every blade of ice I managed to break, another took its place, stabbing deeper. A real man finishes his battles. He does not flee from them. He does not pause his conflicts for fleeting safety.”

He stepped on the back of his dying descendent and walked over him, toward me, slowly. “Your father was no man. You are no man. How dare you lecture me about unfinished business!”

Sadaharu swung his scythe, releasing ice magic that I quickly parried with a bolt of lightning, instantly vaporizing it as he emerged from the snow to my left and slashed his scythe at me.

I dodged the swing and lunged forward with my cutlasses, crossing my arms and slashing the blades and bisecting him at the waist with a sound of crackling thunder and shattering ice.

The ice statue, as expected, vaporized, and I quickly stepped to my right, avoiding a gargantuan shard of ice that nearly impaled me.

I leapt into the trees as another stabbed from the ground beneath me, and my foot sunk into snow on the branch before becoming stuck inside of it.

He trapped me.

The ice at my foot expanded and quickly covered my entire body, freezing me completely solid as Sadaharu landed on the branch before he, scythe at the ready with murder in his eyes.

“They say Light is in the brain,” Sadaharu said, muffled through the ice, “That Lightning is in the eyes and that Fire is in the mouth. Darkness is in the heart and Ice is in the spine, and I- I am so cold.”

He made eye contact with me, and I felt it at the depths of my soul, frozen in both the literal and metaphorical sense as I realized that the defiant heartbeats I heard in my ears would be the last.

“I will destroy the soulsteel containing your father,” Sadaharu said, “After I’ve killed you. I will personally see to the death of Alex, Cyria and their sons when I’m finished with you two. In your last moments, I want you to know that this is ultimately your fault.”

Sadaharu raised the scythe above his head and he gave a wide grin, deranged, “I will fall in battle to a man, not a pathetic imitation of one. Rompehielo!

He stopped before his swing and blinked in confusion.

No man? Really?” A figure in white, hooded robes appeared behind Sadaharu Cen and his hand tore into the Ice Ancestor’s back. “You’re asking for a comeuppance with that kind of line, really.”

“Who-”

Behind the hood, I saw a glint of blood-red eyes as the stranger pulled back, ripping the spine out of Sadaharu’s body like it was child’s play.

“I’m beyond man.” Ruin said, vaporizing the spine with a surge of flame, “I’m above all of you. Hope that counts.”

Sadaharu’s look of terror was the last expression on his face. His body turned to ice and shattered, leaving a floating orb of Ice energy between me and Ruin.

Ruin lunged the hand he used to kill Sadaharu forward, his hand seemingly absorbing the ice energy as it slammed into my ice prison, shattering it instantaneously.

I fell to my knees, teeth chattering uncontrollably as I tried to summon the Lightning energy to heat myself up.

“It’s no use,” Ruin said, giving a contented sigh and looking down at me through his hood, face unconcealed, “His Ice magic is meant to freeze you and keep you that way. It’ll fade soon enough. Give it time.”

He disappeared in a burst of feathers and I sneezed after his departure, warmth steadily returning to my body.

Wait...Wyatt!

I forced myself to get out of the tree, landing in the snow beneath it and running back to the place where Wyatt Cen and Christopher Lockheart had fallen.

Wyatt had been turned on his back and his chest was heaving yet unpenetrated, a single white feather resting where his wound had been as Wyatt gave a shuddering exhale.

Back to chapter select.

Heart's locked for a reason.
Toby Fox - Liquid Negrocity

Christopher Lockheart’s Point of View.

“Ridiculous.” said a voice in the darkness, “Absolutely ridiculous. What were you thinking?

I opened my eyes and realized I was on my feet, yet I felt nearly weightless.

It was dark and wet, and with a little bit of effort, the surface I was standing on was illuminated, revealing the roof of a tower, submerged beneath the same water I was in...wait...

Edo?” I asked the darkness before me.

“Who else?” it responded, “There’s no one here but me.”


Chapter Thirty-Two

The Dark Tower



“What happened?”

“You don’t remember?”

I blinked. “I felt pain and blacked out?”

Edo sighed. “Yes, you felt the pain of your partner, Wyatt. He got stabbed.”

“Shit, is he okay!?”

The water around us grew brighter and Edo in his black robes became visible, though he moved an arm to cover his eyes from the increased light. “Yes, he’s been healed.”

“By who? How do you know that?”

Edo sighed. “By Ruin. How I know, I can’t tell you, but ever since that fight you had with him, I’ve been able to feel his presence, just like I feel Patrick whenever he’s around. It’s like he’s my blood now.”

I shuddered at the thought of being related to such an asshole.

“Will I be alright?” I asked.

“So long as you don’t die where you’re laying, yeah. You shouldn’t have to worry about frostbite or anything, thanks to me.” Edo paused, then added, “You’re welcome.”

I looked down at the tower at my feet and scowled. “What is this place, exactly? We met on it last time...where does this tower even come from? What is it?”

Edo shut his eyes and mouthed a few words out, as if trying to remember something.

On the surface of the tower, a circle of bricks vanished, revealing a skylight and an entrance to a long, winding stairway going beneath to the infinite darkness below.

Wait...this is...

“Do you remember what Nalia told you?” Edo asked, “About Pride?”

I nodded, the pieces coming together in my head.

“The place Nalia and the others met Pride was not a part of Trine,” Edo said, “They met Pride at the Dark Tower, a construct housing Pride and the elements of Darkness and Gravity. Those with Darkness in their souls have inner worlds that match this...while Pride’s emerges from the ocean in a balance of Darkness and Gravity, Darkness users have their Dark Tower submerged and forgotten, while Gravity users have their water in the sky, with their Dark Tower untouched by moisture.”

“So...this is...”

“Correct. Sleeping within this tower is your Pride and Darkness.”

Edo looked down through the skylight. “I would not recommend entering this place. It is dangerous down there. You are not meant to enter the Dark Tower under any circumstances.”

“Has anybody ever done it?”

“Yes,” Edo said, “And that was your mother. She came to this place as a child and would sit in the place you’re standing now, conversing with me freely as I told her the tales of my life and the descendants who I lived through. I warned her of the Dark Tower, and one day she entered it.”

He tapped his foot on the glass.

“She lost herself down there.” Edo sighed, “And it wasn’t until your father entered her life that she found her way back up. The Tower consumed her with the power and emotions of all who preceded her, myself included, and it drove her out of her mind.”

I stared at the glass.

“Is my mother still down there?” I asked, “And the others? Amadeus? Stane?”

Edo nodded. “In a sense. But you will gain nothing from entering the Dark Tower, and I will not allow you to under any circumstances.”

I nodded. “Alright.”

“Back on subject,” Edo said, tapping his foot and making the skylight become replaced with bricks, “You could’ve gotten yourself killed. If you wanted to know how Sadaharu fought, you could’ve asked me. He and I used to be a part of the same being, you know.”

I shrugged. “Sorry. We don’t really know anything about the Ancestors or how to defeat them, anyways.”

“...Are you serious?”

Edo gave me an expression that told me had never, ever been more ashamed of his flesh and blood in his life.

“Huh?”

“You didn’t figure out how to kill us? Oh my God, you’re not joking, are you?”

I shook my head slowly.

“You killed me! How did you even- on accident, you- I don’t even have words for this-” Edo stopped. “Okay. Where did you deal the killing blow on me? I assume you remember.”

“The chest?”

“Specifically.”

“The heart?”

“Yes. Now, what was over my heart?”

“The Lockheart sigil?”

“Yes. What part of the body does Darkness originate in?”

“The...heart?”

Suddenly, it snapped together.

“So the Ancestors’ weak spots are-”

“Yes.” Edo said.

“So to kill them, you have to destroy the-”

“Yes.” He repeated, irritated.

“I’m such an idiot!”

“Yes, you are.” He acknowledged.

“Wait, so...” I gulped, “Nalia and Anton are fighting Barchetta Vulc right now! How can I let them know where to attack?”

Edo nodded. “You wake up and you go tell them. Come on, Howling Fang, you’re the fastest human being alive. You can’t lay here forever.”

I grinned. “Thanks, great-something pops!”

“You’re...welcome?”

I looked up, where, in the distance, light was shining through the water.

I found myself floating toward it and shut my eyes, ready to re-enter the waking world.

Back to chapter select.

The Silent Comedy - All Saints Day


Chapter Thirty-Three

Planetary Devastation



Barchetta Vulc’s Point of View.

Anton James, the Water Chimera, son of Kai, conjured a large claymore with a dark blue blade that was gleaming with moisture.

He landed on the end of the branch I was standing on and, without any further pretense, lunged.

I inhaled, conjuring a column of flame from the forest floor below that ripped through the tree branches on the way ascending the great tree and consumed Anton James, blasting him skyward with the fire.

The fire disappeared when I exhaled and I breathed in once more, looking up at Anton’s charred, smoking body in its descent and preparing to finish him off with another gulf of flame, which I quickly exhaled, turning the unfortunate Chimera into nothing more than an ash on the breeze.

I tasted rainwater.

“Dad was right. You’re not very smart.”

I turned just in time to see Anton swinging his claymore, which I blocked with my right arm.

Anton’s eyes widened in surprise when his blade didn’t penetrate. “I’m afraid you aren’t, either.” I said, building up flames in my left fist, “Your dad never seemed to understand that.”

I punched my fist into Anton’s chest and his body immediately turned into water- Purified water.

Oh, fuck me.

Purify, Kai the Crocodile’s signature technique, created or altered water to “purify” anything it touches. Depending on the user’s preference, anything could be considered an impurity- germs, bacteria...steel...human flesh...

The water fell and immediately ate through my left forearm as it descended, splattering to the branch at my feet.

My blood followed.

I roared in agony, the flames consuming the forest becoming stronger, the fire consuming the Cielo Rainforest as a whole.

Even as the Cynd blood in my body began to regenerate my wound, my anger consumed everything around me, and within seconds, I was falling, the entire forest reduced to ashes.

I hit the charred ground and landed beside the ruins of a scorched brick house, the inside burnt out entirely.

I could taste it all. All the death and pain. All the destroyed beauty.

As my arm finished regenerating, I laughed.

“Where are you, Anton James?” I called, “You took my arm and it’s back! You angered me and your home is destroyed! Where are you?

“I’m here.” Anton said, stepping out of the ruins of the brick house, “I just had some things to take care of before we fought.”

“Such as?”

“Nalia had to evacuate as many people as he could.” Anton said, “Before you killed them all. He handled the Darkness clone- the first one- that attacked you, and I used the Water clone to distract you while Nalia got them out.”

That’s absurd.

That’s absurd!” I shouted, “What kind of plan is that? You had minutes to evacuate an entire forest? You’d have to be able to teleport to pull it off!”

“And Nalia did exactly that.” Anton said, “Your fires created quite a lot of shadow for him to work in. There were people he couldn’t save, but the casualties were minimal.”

“Are you-” I tilted my head, “Do you fancy yourself some kind of mastermind? Do you honestly believe that a plan like that could work? That I will believe your gloating?”

Anton shrugged. “It doesn’t matter if you believe it or not, it’s the truth. Your buddy Sadaharu Cen’s soon to die, too, I’m afraid. You see, I am the mastermind, I’m the leader of this group of Reapers.”

He conjured his claymore once more and held it toward me, facing me in the red sun over the planetary devastation.

“My name is Anton James,” he said, eyes cold, “And I’m the man who killed you.”



Anton James’ Point of View.

The rage I felt was overpowering my senses, removing my fear and turning me cold. I felt nothing but pure hatred for the man standing before me, his feet kicking up the dust of the place I once called home.

Despite the fact Nalia had managed to save most of them, people still died because of this asshole. The people- my friends, my neighbors- who survived had their lives destroyed...I had my life destroyed...my home and most of my worldly possessions were all gone.

I don’t know who exactly is still alive or dead. My friends could’ve died.

This forest, which took hundreds of years to become what it was, was gone in minutes because of Barchetta Vulc. The hundreds of thousands of animals who lived within its branches were dead, people were dead and their lives were destroyed because of Barchetta Vulc.

“You can’t honestly think you can kill me.” Vulc said, breaking the silence of our standoff, “Your father couldn’t kill me. What makes you so special?”

“Because I’m more than my father.” I said, calmly, not betraying the rage I felt, not wanting to give him the satisfaction, “I am a chimera. A human with the power of a Great Beast. A Great Beast with the power of a human.”

“Your humanity is a crutch,” Vulc said, beginning to make slow, measured steps towards me, “Perhaps it helps you shape your powers, but your powers were made for your father. Your powers are your father. You can’t run with a crutch.”

“Being different doesn’t mean I’m more or less than my father.”

Barchetta laughed, sticking out his tongue at me, displaying a tattoo of a salamander on his tongue- the crest, I realized, of the Vulc Family.

“But you told me you were more than your father.” Vulc said, “Your logic discounts your own argument.”

“Just because you don’t understand something,” I said, resting the claymore over my shoulder, eyes not leaving his, “Doesn’t mean it’s lesser than you. If you can’t see how I’m more than my father...I’ll just have to show you.

“Now you’re speaking my language!” Barchetta gave a delighted grin, fire bursting from his back, “Let’s do it, then! Let’s talk semantics!

The fire extended outward from his body, forming the shape of wings as he roared at me, releasing a gargantuan wave of flame.

Purify.

I released a tsunami of Purify-enhanced water in response, the fire and water meeting and becoming boiling steam, which eliminated my visibility.

I began to run into the cloud, ignoring the sheer temperature and pain I felt as the world became hot and humid.

“It’s like a sauna!” Vulc screamed, “There’s steam all around us and we’re dancing on coal! Isn’t it wonderful!?

I passed through the steam, claymore wielded in my right hand at my side, running as fast as I could at Barchetta Vulc, the Salamander, the man with wings of fire.

He licked his lips when I was twenty feet from him, and I realized his robes had simply charred off at this point- his chest was bare and black and smoldering, ash and coal with magma in the center, growing brighter and brighter.

Purify!” I shouted, throwing my claymore at him.

His eyes widened as the blade met his chest, solidifying the magma into rock and keeping the blade inside him as it began to Purify him.

He screamed in pain and I screamed in rage as my feet slammed harder into the coal, propelling me faster toward the man who had destroyed my home.

He set his hands behind him, the wings of fire condensing into spheres of white fire held in either hand as I heard a familiar shout.

HIS TONGUE!” Tabuu was shouting from probably a mile away, “DESTROY HIS FUCKING TONGUE!

Vulc stuck his tongue out at me and give a murderously playful smile with it. “Looks like playtime’s over, you two.”

He hurled his right arm forward, the orb of white flame expanding dramatically into blinding white fire not five feet in front of me.

I can’t stop. I’ll be vaporized before it touches me.

A surge of darkness appeared before me, countering the flame and creating an arch for me to run through, causing Vulc’s smug expression to disappear, pulling his tongue back into his mouth and turning grim before putting the other white orb of flame in his mouth and devouring it.

He was close enough for me to smell him.

I extended my right hand, fingertips inches from the handle of my claymore.

Vulc opened his mouth.

I grabbed my sword.

Purify coursed from the soulsteel claymore containing my father, over my arm, the water snaking around my body and concentrating in my left hand.

Barchetta released his roar at point-blank range and I pushed my hand through the fire, grabbing his tongue as I did so.

I ripped his tongue out his mouth and my left forearm simply ceased to exist, the fire scorching it off so cleanly that I could hardly believe it had ever been there.

Vulc tried to say something, but he had no tongue to speak his words with.

Instead, he screamed.

And his scream said so much more than mere words.

I pulled my claymore out of his charring body, staring him directly in the eyes as I did so.

“The gift of the silver tongue is better than having none,” I said, “And I don’t need to be a liar to kill you.”

The last life remaining in Barchetta Vulc’s eyes faded, and his last expression was one of shock and horror before he fell to his knees and collapsed into ashes on the breeze.

Back to chapter select.

Bound by wild desire.
Jamie Christopherson - Red Sun


Chapter Thirty-Four

Red sun over paradise



Nalia’s Point of View.

A pure white dove flew in a circle above the site of the inferno, circling the red sun overhead.

The site of the battle looked apocalyptic. What was once a lush, beautiful forest was a charred, barren wasteland stretching into the horizon in all directions. Smoke clouded the sky overhead, with beams of bloody light peeking through and illuminating the destruction around us.

Me and Anton were walking together to meet Tabuu, who we were expecting to tell us what had come of the plan for the Sadaharu battle that Anton had made.

Through my ties with the Darkness, I sensed the dove diving through the smoke, but I paid no mind.

Just a bird, after all.

There was an intense wind.

“You don’t truly think it’s over so soon, do you?”

Nalia!” Tabuu shouted.

Sense Synchronization!” three of us shouted at once, establishing a sensory link.

We gathered together and frantically looked around, covering each other’s blind spots with our shared senses.

Anton looked at the stump of his left arm and sighed, focusing instead on the wind blowing up the ashes around us.

“Who are you!?” I shouted.

“You don’t know my name? That’s a shame.”

The wind intensified, and the ashes around us began to glow.

Tabuu had a wide grin on his face, conjuring his weapon in the form of a rapier and stepping forward, looking up and around us.

The dove, covered in ash, shook itself off and began flying away.

My name is Cobold Vaten,” he said, simultaneously above, behind, below, beside and across from us, “And I am the Wind of Destruction.

A fire started from the ashes of the old.

Oh, shit.

You can run to the ends of the earth,” Cobold said, “But you won’t escape the sun or wind. Goodbye, Nalia Cynd and friends. This place can be your grave.

The smirk on Tabuu’s face vanished. “Get back here, asshole!” he shouted, “I haven’t killed anybody today, and I’m not going to have you bail on me!”

“Tabuu-”

“No, fuck this, I’m tired of them running away-”

TABUU-” Anton added.

“I want to fight-

LOCKHEART!” I screamed, “SHUT THE FUCK UP! WE’RE ABOUT TO GET BURNED TO DEATH!

Tabuu blinked. “Can’t Anton just put it out?”

Anton shook his head. “I’m out of energy.”

“Can’t Nalia just get us out?”

“I just evacuated enough people to fill a small country in two minutes,” I sighed angrily, “I don’t have time to replenish!”

Tabuu was panting and started to cough.

“Oh, shit,” he groaned, “I barely had enough to get here.”

We’re going to die.

The fire in the horizon began to spread, and there was no direction where we could run to escape it now.

“Looks like we fell into a ring of fire.” Christopher Lockheart said, turning to face me, “It was nice knowing you, Nalia.”

I blinked.

He set his hand on my shoulder and stared me directly in the eyes.

“Except not,” he added, grinning, “I hate you. If we didn’t have to save the world I’d have killed you myself.”

“Isn’t it great?” I smirked, “You get to spend the last moments of your life with me.”

Anton sighed.

Tabuu came closer, the wolfish grin not leaving his face. “But of course, that means one of us is going to die a virgin. It looks like we have a few minutes, and we are in a ring of fir-”

Anton coughed.

Tabuu paused.

“Please do not make me watch you two do your...thing.” Anton said, “I have the sensory link and this is already extremely awkward.”

God, it is. Why aren’t you freaking out yet?

A mannequin-esque figure was sitting on the ground to my right and Tabuu’s left, wearing a pair of white robes like the Cynd Royal Family’s and holding a bright green and blue bow in his left hand, which was resting in his lap.

Tabuu was running at him in an instant, rapier in hand.

Before I could warn him, Tabuu predictably shouted Golden Fang at the top of his lungs and charged Cobold Vaten at light speed, who simply remained perfectly still as the hapless Light chimera blasted right through him and crashed into a hill of ash just behind him.

“Why did you come back?” I asked, conjuring my scythe and holding it at the sitting man.

Cobold looked up at me. The face of his mannequin body had sky-blue ovals painted where a human’s eyes would be, but no equivalent to a mouth or nose.

There was a wind with this response. “I never left. Just wanted to watch you three die alone.

Tabuu gave a roar of fury and Golden Fanged, again, stabbing through Cobold’s side and impossibly missing for the second time, halting himself with a great skid across the ashes a quarter of a mile past his target.

Your friend’s not very smart, is he?

“Fuck you!” Tabuu screamed.

I sighed. He’s Wind, Tabuu. You’re looking at a mirage.

Fuck you!

“Yeah, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed.” I admitted.

Anyways,” Cobold said, standing and holding his bow towards me, pulling back the string on his bow, “I’m growing bored of waiting. I have to make sure you three die.

He let go of his string and a strong wind blasted through my chest from behind.

Wait...the arrow?

Where did it come from? Tabuu asked.

I...don’t...

I sank to my knees even as my blood began to regenerate the wound, and Cobold pulled back his bow again. “Oh, yes,” he said, “I forgot. You Cynds aren’t so easy to kill. I’ll handle your friends first.

He released it, and something invisible blasted through the flames in the horizon, behind...

CHRIS!” I screamed.

The son of Cyria swiftly dodged to his right, narrowly avoiding a long, sharp object that appeared to be...solidified wind?

Where is he coming from!?” Anton shouted.

Doesn’t matter,” Cobold said, releasing his string again, “Already dead.

Anton was blasted through the stomach, his Sensory Link cut off, and he collapsed to the ground.

Cobold began walking toward me, and I realized I could, in fact, hear footsteps...except not in the direction that I was seeing him.

I shut my eyes and extended my Darkness senses.

There you are.

Go for it, Lockheart.

Howling Raid!” Christopher Lockheart shouted, throwing his rapier at a spot where footprints stood in the ashes.

I heard a scream and the mirage of Cobold disappeared.

Cobold appeared with Christopher Lockheart’s rapier stabbed through his chest, stumbling backward. “How did you-

Tabuu was on him in an instant, grabbing his rapier and pulling it out of the Ancestor’s chest, painting the ashes at their feet red as his rapier transformed into a scythe.

“Not the sharpest,” he quipped, “But-”

Cobold stabbed his bow through Tabuu’s stomach.

You talk too much.

He pulled it out viciously and kicked Tabuu where he fell, beginning his undisguised walk toward me. A white...blade? protruded from the ground behind him before shortly returning back inside.

You’re defenseless, Nalia Cynd.” Cobold said, simply, “Your friends will be dead soon, and so will you. I have something special for you.

He aimed his bow at me and I saw the wind begin to form where he held the arrow.

Last words?

“Yeah,” I gasped, “Watch your step.”

The earth at Cobold’s feet opened wide and he fell out of sight.

The ground closed back up behind him, and I realized I had company.

“Hey,” said an unfamiliar girl, from behind me, “Let’s get you guys out of here.”

I turned and saw a teenager in black robes standing there, holding Anton over her shoulder and looking down at me expectantly.

“What about Cob-”

“I can’t kill him, he’ll get outta there soon. Hurry up and grab your boyfriend, it’s getting hot out here.”

I nodded and ran to the point where Tabuu had fallen, and the girl followed me by standing completely still and letting the patch of ground she was stand on be propelled forward by Earth manipulation.

“Who are you?” I asked, biting my wrist and rubbing the blood over Tabuu’s wound before picking him up.

“Lee Terra,” she responded, “But just call me Lee. Now, come on. Seriously. It’s hot as hell out here.”

I carried my greatest rival bridal style and nodded at her, standing on the same patch of ground as she was.

The patch became a pillar of stone that rushed forward at incredible speed, taking us away from the site of the battle.

Back to chapter select.

Oh, can it.
Elaine Wang - Meltwater


Chapter Thirty-Five

Waterworks



Alizarin Percidae’s Point of View.

“Red? Are you with me?”

I jumped to attention in my office, hurriedly pulling papers onto my desk to make it look like I was working when Raikov peeked into the room from the door across from me.

I was working on a story about the events that had occurred just a week ago- the wildfire that consumed Cielo Rainforest and, in it, Colonies 25 to 29.

It was the biggest environmental disaster in history, and it had happened in mere minutes. The Anti-Monarchy Movement was having a field day with it, noting that environmental preservation was among many of the issues neglected by the bureaucrats in the Cynd Palace.

The Royal Guard was working on surveying the land and seeing what could be done, in terms of both the air pollution and restoration of the environment. Water and Earth affinity users found themselves in high demand as part of this, and the citizens of the colonies found themselves without homes or jobs.

I was one of the biggest voices in the media. What I said about this disaster could literally change the world.

And I know things I can’t tell.

Barchetta Vulc did this. Barchetta Vulc has been murdered. The Ancestors have, indeed, returned- even though I refused to confirm the rumors of Xzelion Lane and Edo Lockheart during the Lockheart Lane incident.

And now, I’m a part of this. I’m not a spectator- I am directly linked to these events.

“Red,” Raikov said, sitting in a chair in front of my desk, “You’ve interviewed me too many times to ignore me like this. What’s up?”

I sighed. “It’s just...a lot to take in, I guess. I don’t know what to say. There’s a lot to cover and a lot I can’t, and I just...”

“Anton.” she said.

“Anton? What about him?”

“Interview him,” Raikov said, “He lost his arm and took part in the rescue. The Cielo Rainforest is- was- his home. What better person to talk to than the hero?”

“They know that Nalia played the biggest part in saving them,” I responded, “He hasn’t shown his face publically since, because now everyone’s rallying around him as some kind of savior. Even the Anti-Monarchy Movement likes him. And I can’t tell them about Barchetta Vulc.”

“Can’t you? People would believe it if Anton and Nalia said he’s the one who did it. The public has been very leery about the actions of the Lockhearts and Lanes lately, considering the rumors about what happened on Lockheart Lane...” she bit her lip, then closed her eyes and shrugged, “If you turn the public eye against the Ancestors, then we could get more information about their whereabouts and movements. Most of the loyalty is because of their place in history- but the Cielo Rainforest burning the ground is irrefutable proof of the destructive actions of the Ancestors, and anybody with common sense would side with us.”

I shut my eyes and bit my lip, considering her. “But I didn’t say anything about the Lockheart Lane incident. They’re going to notice that. And what about when I eventually have to battle Allen Canet, or whoever else? I’m biased, Raikov. What am I gonna do- write a cover story about how I murdered the father of all Water users?”

“Have you considered...telling the truth?” she offered, as if it was the most simple solution in the world.

That stopped me. “I can’t tell the truth if it gets people hurt!” I retorted.

Raikov cricked her neck and a tiny lightning bolt flashed across it. “More people will get hurt if you don’t.” she said, staring at me with electric blue eyes.

I sighed. “Fine. Thanks for coming- wait, what are you doing here? Is it time to train again?”

Raikov shook her head. “No, Patrick thinks it’s a better idea that you guys are spread out and guarded by the Royal Guard instead of concentrated in a single location. Actually, I came to tell you some news from him.”

“Oh?”

“He’s going to be sponsoring a fundraiser in Colony 24. We’re talking a concert- including yours truly- and huge donations and appearances from celebrities from all around Trine...my husband’s going to be there, I’m going to be there...and he was wondering if you wanted to come and cover it, too.”

She set her elbow on the armrest and rested her head on her chin, looking at me expectantly for my answer.

I shrugged. “Sure, I guess. Can’t say no to an offer like that. I’m gonna stay here in Colony 2 for a while, though...I prefer to work on my home turf.”

She rolled her eyes. “This place is boring, but okay. Later, Red.”

Raikov Lane was out of the door before I could say anything, and all I could do was sigh.

What is it about Lightning users and speed, anyways? Can’t they ever stay in one place for more than five minutes?



Tabuu’s Point of View.

I collapsed to my knees.

Lee Terra looked down at me apathetically. “Come on,” she said, “You and Nalia have got to be stronger than this is if you wanna kill my Ancestor.”

“Fuckin’ bitch.” I muttered, pushing myself off the dojo’s polished wood floor and conjuring my katana again.

Nalia, who was standing to my right, eyed me warily. “I think you should consider changing from a katana.” he suggested.

Lee yawned.

“Why do you say that?” I asked.

“Well,” Nalia said, “The rapier form is best for stabbing, the katana form is best for cutting...but in the case of Shinn Terra, we’d be dealing with more, well...bulk, right? You need something heavy...”

“Scythe?”

He shook his head. “Try claymore.” Nalia suggested.

The soulsteel weapon in my hand transformed into a claymore with a golden handle and a blood-red blade the color of energy released by Howl.

Well, that’s a new look.

It’s not just cosmetic, Cyria explained, The blade itself is more dense and should be better at channeling Howl now.

Huh. Interesting. Thanks, dad.

“Are you going to play with your sword,” Lee Terra asked, protrusions of bone shaped like spider legs bursting out of her back, “Or are you going to fight me?”

I shrugged and smirked. “Why not both?”

My claymore glowed with a familiar golden aura and I lunged.



Maximilian Cynd II’s Point of View.

“You...what?”

“They’re both dead.” Cobold repeated, sitting in his chair at our meeting table, “I saw Vulc get killed by the Water boy and apparently Sadaharu was ganged up on by the Lockheart, Wyatt Cen and Rye’s son.”

I scowled. “They played us. Did you at least get a hold of either of their residual energies?”

“No,” Cobold said, placing his hand over where his face would be, “I couldn’t find anything left of either of them. Do you think Skell’s been at work? His daughter had me trapped underground for a bit.”

I bit my lip as Cobold removed his mask. The rest of the mannequin shell receded when he did, showing his face.

He made minute adjustments to his blue-tinted glasses and sighed wearily. “I tried to take out the Lockheart, the Cynd and Kai’s brat, but Terra’s descendent stopped me.”

“What?”

“Skell’s daughter,” Shinn Terra said, “She’s a direct part of my bloodline. The last living member of it, in fact.”

“So that means-”

“Yes,” Shinn said, “That means she has both Skell’s abilities and my Earth manipulation. I doubt she has it to the level that I do, but...”

“That’s still a dangerous combination of abilities.” I finished, “Could she be the one devouring the residual energies? We couldn’t find Edo’s, either...”

“I don’t think so,” Cobold said, running a hand through his brown hair, “I would’ve sensed her a mile away if she was. I somewhat doubt it’s Skell...I mean, I’m sure he’d love to eat one of us, but he’d help them fight if he was the one eating the leftovers...”

“Anything else to report?” I asked.

“Yes, in fact.” Allen Canet said, eyes hidden behind a black curtain of locks, “The Order tells me that they’re planning some kind of charity event for the refugees of the colonies destroyed in the Cielo Rainforest.”

“Where?”

“Colony 24,” Allen said, “Right around the Gulf of Kai.”

I couldn’t help but smirk.

“I think you already know what I want you to do, Allen.” I said.

He nodded, and I saw his lips pull into a grin.

“Yup. Time to make it rain.”

Back to chapter select.