The Darkness

I awaken. I open my eyes, and there is nothing but darkness....there is a moment of panic but it passes as I remember. I'm blind. I can hear the voices of my new friends. Peter and Bowie speaking of things to come, the sounds of Bowie sharpening his sword and Peter preening himself. Rhode in the background, tinkering with the caravan and muttering to himself. We have been travelling companions for only a few weeks, but these are my closest friends in the world. Well, they are my only friends, I remember only the last few weeks of my life. I slowly rise and try to shake off the nightmares of last night. They come every night, unclear dreams, just flashes of indistinct pain and darkness, darkness not like night but darkness indescribable. I do not tell my friends of these, I am burden enough to them without my childish fears.

Footsteps approach, and Sarah hands me a bowl of breakfast - traveller’s rations, little more than gruel but I am hungry and grateful for it.

"Thankyou" I whisper in this voice of a child.

It does not sound right to me, this weakness feels wrong on me and I don't know why. "No problem. Good work finding Elrond yesterday....he owes you his life." She tells me in that beautiful voice of hers.

Yesterday was a good day for me, the first day I have felt useful. I heard the cries of an elfin boy as he was trapped by a harpy, and directed the team there. We - No, they saved him while I hid away. I was not scared though. We have seen so much battle and it never frightens me. When I hear the clash of swords, and the screams of pain my heartbeat quickens with excitement and I want nothing more than to be out there, killing. The darkness that comes in my sleep is also there during the battles and even though it frightens me... I like it. I don't know why.

We are almost at Creed's mansion. It was well protected but we got here - it's our last resort, there was no other option. We have come for answers to Bowie's quest, but I am also looking for answers. I don't know who this Creed is, other than an ex-greater devil, but everyone else is putting their last hope in him. I am sick of not knowing who I am, not knowing why I lust for battle. I am sick of being a burden to my friends. If he cannot help me, I don't know what I will do.

What adventures we have seen in the last few days. Although I have only a few weeks of memory, these few weeks have given me more experiences than most could ask for in a lifetime. We have just been shrunk to the size of mice, and battled our way out of a kingdom of tiny devils, then returned to our normal size. I have been on a ship that not only survived an attack from, but destroyed the fabled kraken. I have been led about by these friends of mine, and heard and smelled things I cannot describe, ancient relics, great battles, magical creatures and forgotten tombs. We are leaving Creed's - with all the excitement I have not had a chance to ask him if he can help me. I am enough of a burden to my friends without wasting the time of this powerful being with my petty questions. I think next time we reach a town, I will stay there. My hearing has developed to the point where I am almost as capable as a man with sight. I can spend my time trying to remember, and helping others as I have been helped. Yes. I wish I could believe this, but I feel the battle lust and the darkness more and more these past few days. I cannot lead a quiet life, I must be -

"I understand you".

Creed's unmistakeable voice snaps me out of me reverie, and I stop dead on our way out of his mansion. I hear the others come to a halt at the doorway. "Oddler will stay with me"

Again that powerful voice rings out in the entrance hall, and I find myself nodding in consent with his statement. "Is this true?" asks Peter, disbelief and surprise in his voice.

"Yes, I think it will be best if I stay here." I hear my own words, but the childish edge has left them. I sound confident. This is good. Our farewells are over quickly - they are on a mission of great importance, although they say they will miss me I know I was a friend but more so a burden to them. And suddenly they are gone. What awaits me now? I am excited as Creed leads me through the mansion, familiarising me with the layout.

I awake. It has been several weeks since Bowie left me with Creed. My dreams have been more frequent, more intense. I open my eyes and gasp. For the first time I can remember, I can see. Not perfectly, but there are colours, and faint images. I rise quickly, and move in a different way. My body responds quickly, my movements fast and sure. I do not take the time to view the mansion - bookshelves and grey stone everywhere, as I had imagined. I navigate the mansion and find Creed in his study.

"I can see" My voice is deep, sure and commanding.

"Indeed. This was to be expected" He says in a somewhat interested voice.

Nothing seems to surprise this ex-devil - he knows far more about me than I do, and I am certain that he is hiding my identity from me. This makes me angry quite often, but I also know how powerful Creed is. It emanates from him, and I can sense it constantly. I know he can sense my growing power too.

"We need to talk" I state again in this powerful voice - I feel much more at home with it than that weak gasp I used to speak in.

"Indeed." His patience is infuriating. He lays down his pen and looks at me.

"We talk often. I tell you of the world today, and of history. Of how the Devils threaten this way of life that I have come to enjoy. What would you have me tell you about this time?"

"You know what old man. I have been patient but we both know you deceive me. Tell me the only thing I wish to know of - Myself." I say this with spite and anger and as I do I feel the Darkness rush in, and with it my senses come back stronger. I can clearly see his face now, feel his power (for there is much of it), and more importantly I feel my own power. I can see on his face that he feels this too.

"You cannot rush this Oddler. It will come when you are ready for it. You can only wait until that time - we both know it is not far away. If you wish to talk then, we can."

"I have no desire to wait old man. You have been kind to me, but if I must, I will take the information from you." The words are hardly out of my mouth and I am flying through the air, not at Creed but away. I hit the wall heavily, painfully and am pinned there. His face is a mask of rage. "I had thought your time with Bowie may reform you, loosen his grip upon you. But no. You are a not creature of evil but you have chosen the path of darkness, and I must destroy you to save the world."

The ex-devil advances on me, ready to end me. I feel a surge of power rush to me, and I can see he is too intent on my destruction to notice. I still cannot break the bond that holds me. I need time. "At least answer my question before you destroy me Creed" He does not hesitate. "You know the answer...Odd Eye" With the mention of that name, in a moment all comes back to me. My service to Zeon, becoming by far the most powerful of his Devils and his favourite. Being sent to battle Volcanon, the most powerful of the good Gods, an honour. The searing pain he inflicted on me in my defeat. With this knowledge comes the knowledge of my power - Creed used to work with me, I looked up to him as a greater devil before I took his place. I know now that I am the more powerful in this battle, I need no more time and I smile with this knowledge. He sees my smile, and knows it is his doom.

I send a wave of pure dark power at him, enough to kill him. Blood bursts from his temples as he is thrown into a bookshelf on the other side of the room. His grip upon me fails and I drop lightly to my feet. I walk slowly towards him to see what I can strip his body of - I know Creed has many items of power upon him. His body is not there. My confusion abates as I feel molten fire lash my back, and I am thrown into the wreckage where Creed was moments ago. "You overestimate your power Odd Eye. Remember I was also a devil once. Your Dark power will not hurt me like it would a human." I rise and turn, easily sidestepping his second attack. Suddenly, I find what I need - the connection to my Lord, the King of the Devils. It is good you have returned to me Odd Eye. You are still weak. Take this gift from me, destroy Creed and return to Arc Valley with me. I feel energised, my wounds healed. Suddenly I am clad head to foot in my armour, and the hilt of my Counter Sword sits comfortably in my palm. I take a split second to look down at myself. I stand far taller than I had thought, every muscle in my body perfectly honed. My blue armour gleams like new and my sword has such an edge that I feel it could cut through these stone walls. Once again I flash the smile that promises death to Creed. His face sets as a huge staff appears in his hand, and an aura of defence shimmers in the air around him. He charges immediately, fearful of my power that is growing by the second. His staff twirls once around his head as he brings it down straight at me. I raise my sword to block and the collision jars my hand. For a moment we catch each others eyes, and then the staff is coming at me from above again. I parry it off to the left this time, and spin to my right, bringing the sword sweeping down towards his waist. One end of the staff is waiting for it, and the other end catches me across the jaw in counterattack. Not a great blow but I lose my balance and stagger backwards. He is still pressing upon me, thrusting viciously straight at my chest. Again I parry the blow to my right and reverse my momentum, stepping within range and slicing at his chest. He steps back but I catch his shoulder with the edge of my blade and I am satisfied to see that he is wounded. I press my advantage with a savage downward blow, but he moves with speed I could not have foreseen, and suddenly he is beside me, his staff nestled behind my knee. Me legs are swept out from beneath me, and before I know it I am on the ground, my head ringing but I can see that staff coming right at my face. I cannot fail my Lord. I focus my power and everything turns blue. My eyes burn for a moment and then vision returns. Creed looks shocked and is clutching the shoulder I cut only moments before, but this time it is horribly burned. It seems there are some things about me Creed did not know about. He regains his composure, and begins a spell. I can see tremendous power welling behind him - enough to destroy even me. I feel my Lord reaching to me, and I focus all my powers once more. I charge at Creed...and once again, all is darkness.

I awake. I open my eyes, and see darkness. My eyes focus, and it is not the darkness of blindness. It is the darkness I chose to embrace, the darkness of Zeon's lair. Today is a great day for me. Today I battle my old friend, Bowie, he who helped and protected me. Zeon took me in after my battle with Creed, nurturing me back to my full strength. Today I battle and destroy the man who saved me. I rise from my bed, and begin to prepare.

It is time. I stand with my healer on the precipice of a great valley, filled with molten rock at the bottom. There is no way across unless I make it so. I can see Bowie faintly across the chasm, the steam rising from the lava below still thick in the air, making everything stick and everyone sweat. He has grown much since he left me with Creed. I have watched his battles, watched him and his comrades grow in power, and defeat even the most powerful of my comrades. Geshp, Zalbard, Cameela and Red Baron have all fallen to his blade. But I do not fear him, I revel in the opportunity. The others were weak compared to me. He will die here; I am close to my Lord and at my most powerful.

I use my power to give us a battlefield and summon the army my Lord has bestowed upon me - an army capable of destroying a kingdom with me leading them. Cyclopes, Lesser Demons, Hydras, the most powerful of my lords Wizards just to name a few. We outnumber them 3 to 2. Small platforms rise from nowhere, created by my Lords raw power. We have a battlefield. I give the signal and my troops spread into formation, awaiting the advance of Bowie's force. There is not long to wait.

The "Shining Force" surprise me. That rat, the one to whom I owe everything, who released my Lord from his prison destroys a Cyclops with a single well placed blow. Peter's powerful wings tear through my troops, Rick the young Pegasus knight picks off soldier after soldier with his Javelin. Even his healers, with their exceptional conditioning are tearing through my troops. It matters not. The dead are but fodder, and they are doing the job I had intended of them. I see Kazin running low on magical power, and his healers are exhausting their supply quickly. They are not without their losses. Gerhalt, who helped me when he first joined the force, falls to the mighty fists of my Cyclopes. The Golem who travels with them is too slow moving to dodge the magic of my Wizards, and is but a smouldering lump of clay after the firestorm they send at him. Most are wounded -they look tired and there is defeat on their faces. Except Bowie. I can see in his eyes the determination that has brought him this far against the might of my Lord. The Holy sword he is armed with looks like it was made for him. He is lathered in sweat from both the acrid steam and the exertion of fighting and leads his troops selflessly like a true hero. I could almost respect the fool.

Finally, they reach my position. Slade, the rat, with his incredible speed dispatches a Hydra's many heads with the almost perfect slashes of his blade. Peter and the Pegasus quickly circle to my rear, and rush my healer. Before the Pegasus gets within range with that javelin of his, I begin my onslaught. I see blue for a moment, and then there is nothing but a blackened whimpering pile of wings and hooves. Peter is too fast though - he glides through and crashes into my healer with those powerful wings of his. The rest of the troops are still occupied by my last line of defence, and it is just me and the Phoenix. I rush him from behind as he is busy finishing off my healer - at least he was of some use. The bird lets out a deafening shriek as my blade bites through his feathers and into his back. He drops to the ground and turns to face me with great pain, but I give him no quarter. My blade comes down again. He raises a wing in feeble defence and I feel the satisfaction of my sword cleaving through it and then biting into his throat. He disintegrates into a pile of ash.

The sounds of battle are dying behind me. The Ninja rat comes at me from behind, but I sense him. I can feel him flying through the air, blade aimed at my back. I let him feel hope for a moment, and then with speed that the poor creature can only dream of I spin and face him. My blade streaks right across his chest, throwing him several yards off to my right and spattering blood all over my armour. I look like Red Baron used to, wearing the blood of my enemies as testament to my power. Red Baron or Lemon is also advancing on me now. The traitor will pay for forsaking my Lord. I advance towards the pitiful creature that was once my Lord's soldier. My senses warn me just too late - May, the Centaur with the bow launches an attack at me from afar. I am too slow to dodge it properly, and the projectile burns through my left shoulder as I duck. I respond with a blue blast, and hear her scream in unison with one of Bowies healers, who is being torn to ribbons by the many mouths of a Hydra. I have been distracted too long though - Lemon, my old comrade is upon me with a huge axe. He swings with all his might, and I parry the blow towards the ground, but not hard enough. The edge of his axe bites into my leg below the knee, the runes upon its edge flashing with power as it cuts through my armour and deep into my flesh. The pain is immense, but I show no sign of it. I do not hesitate - my sword is back up again, Lemon is too slow with that great axe of his and in a flash my weapon is embedded in his heart. I strike him in the face with the palm of my hand and he slides from my sword to the ground. I look up to see Bowie dispatch the last of my Hydras, and advance upon me with death in his eyes. My last soldiers have paired off with the last of Bowie’s; it is only me and him. Too easy, but I cannot underestimate him. I send a blast from my eyes at him - as my vision returns, I can see he is closer. He clutches a burn on his left arm, but seems to have dodged most of the blast. Too close now to use my eye beam, I wait for him. I can stand but not walk after the wound Lemon gave me.

He comes in quickly, the holy sword of his held ready over his head. The blade glows hungrily, its light reflecting off my armour and shining in his eyes. The glow of the lava reflects off his armour, and he seems like some avenging angel in the way it illuminates his features. His face is flushed and pouring sweat, every inch of his clothing is wet with both blood and perspiration. His blade crashes down onto mine, with more power than I would have imagined. Pain is all I can feel in my wounded shoulder, but I keep his sword at bay. I thrust like a lightening bolt at his midriff, but he parries it to the side and his sword is arcing towards my head an instant later. I duck it easily and bring my sword upwards towards his midriff again. This time he is not fast enough - although he manages to sidestep the attack I again feel the satisfaction of wounding an enemy. There is more blood on my armour. Bowie shows no sign of pain, and begins to circle around me, just outside my attack range. I must pay respect to his ability as a warrior, he has learned much in his travels. He knows I cannot move and is using it to his advantage. Suddenly he leaps to the right and thrusts at me - it seems far too simple a move and I slap the attack away, holding my sword up for him to impale himself on - but he does not. He is back out of range, and too late I realise my folly. Snapping my head around I blast the wizard that is behind me with my eye beam, but too late. An apocalyptic blaze engulfs me. Though I have many protections against the magic of these mortals, I am still badly burned. The wizard is now near death, I hear him gasping for breath. He has done what was needed though. I turn to face Bowie again, and my doom. He is right next to me and poised to deliver the killing blow. His sense of honour would not let the Hero strike me from behind. As soon as I look into those compassionate eyes of his, his blade plunges into my shoulder and clean through the other side. I hear the clang of my blade hitting the floor as my sword arm goes limp. I start to fall and Bowie catches me, lowering me gently to the ground.

I am dying, defeated and I know it. I begin to whisper an apology to my Lord with my last breaths, but he is not listening. I can feel his hold, the darkness that has consumed me leaving me. I can see clearly again. I accepted his darkness and with it this cold and lonely fate. I feel my life seeping away from me. Every breath is a lifetime of pain. I don't have long.

"Bowie...I enjoyed our time together. You were good to me." It comes out as barely a whisper. Not childish this time, but the whisper of a dying man.

"I enjoyed it too Oddler." Bowie whispers back, true concern and compassion in his eyes.

It feels strange but comforting to be called that name again. "Maybe things could have been different. Perhaps in another life, we could have been friends."

"We are friends Oddler. I forgive you. Be at peace now"

I can feel my last breath leaving me. The last thing I see is Bowie's hand gently closing my eyelids. Once again, I fall into darkness.