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Breath of Fire and all associated characters are property of Capcom. All original characters are mine, but you're welcome to use them in other stories as you wish. My take on the Rangers is property of J. Michael Straczynski. At least, partly. I'm taking a bit of a new look on the planet BoF takes place on. I'll explain later.
A year after the events of BoF3, our heroes are forced to deal with a threat from another era, one that is awakening very soon. This(hopefully) will lead into a crossover I'm planning with another one of Capcom's franchises.
The statue stood there, silent and unmoving.
A noble gargoyle. Cast in stone, its form unmoving in the silent ruins of Eden.
A spear rests in its right hand, its eyes peered towards the heavens.
All life has been torn from its breast.
The spear flickers to life.
Wakey, wakey, Garr.
He stirrs. He can sense the other spirit with him. One that he thought was dead.
It's me, Garr. I've been trying to get your attention.
"How....are you here? Have I passed to the other world? Am I to be reborn so soon?"
That's one way of putting it. Actually, I'm leaving. You are staying. You want the long version or the short version?
His vision is cloudy. His mind is racing.
"As clear as possible, please."
It takes a full year for a Guardian to leave his body when he enters the Stone Sleep. I'm ready to depart your body, so you can reinhabit it.
"How? You died before me."
"Yes. I used it in my battles against Myria."
Remember that you kept feeling weaker and weaker when you used it?
"Yes. Yes I do. Why?"
I've been transferring your life to the spear, and mine to your body. By the time you faced Myria, I had taken three quarters of your body. I made the push for the rest when you started the Sleep. When I leave, you'll take your body back.
"But Myria is dead. The Guardians must die with her."
Geez, you're thicker than ever. Myria isn't dead, but she's left this world. And she didn't take her toys with her. There's some loose ends from her past schemes here, which need to be taken care of. Before I go, I'm going to tell you everything I know. Everything that drove me from the Guardians in the first place. I leave this in your hands, Garr. Make me proud.
Knowledge washes over him, realization of everything, answers to all his questions. Everything that Gaist knew, he knows....and the ramifications therein.
The eyes light up in a glow of blue.
His fists clasp, shattering the stone covering underneath, his wings folding out, cracking their covering.
Renewed breath flows from his nostrils, the stone shell cracking as the spear crumbles to dust.
His body folds around itself, his wings folding around him, as he takes a deep, ragged breath.
Throwing back his arms and extending his wings, his stone shell shattering fully, he lets out a mighty roar.
He falls to a single knee, weak from his efforts.
"Alive," he whispers, his voice scratchy and pained, "I'm alive......."
He hears a single voice.
And to help you, I'm giving you a little boost.
The remains of Myria station burst into flame.
From the wreckage, trailing the nourishing fire behind him, Garr, last of the Guardians, rises into the dawn sky.
Two nights earlier.
Ryu Asmadi opens his eyes, slowly focusing his vision in the inky darkness.
He feels the familiar weight across his chest, hears the light snoring on his left shoulder.
He slowly reaches over, and pinches her arm.
She mutters something, slowly opening her eyes.
"Just making sure you're still here.", he whispers.
Nina Wyndia says nothing, cuddling up even closer to him.
"Keep this up and we'll never get any sleep.", she mutters, "I have to get back to the castle early tomorrow. Please, just let me sleep."
She closes her eyes, again, her light wings wrapping around them both.
"It's your fault.", he says.
She opens her eyes again.
"What is?", she asks, lying on her side and facing him.
"That I'm keeping you up.", he responds.
She twists her lips into a slight smirk.
"And how, praytell, is that?"
"If you didn't start coming here every night you could, you wouldn't have to go to sleep to get back to Windia, as you would already be in Windia.", he responds, "So, as these trysts were, to start, your idea, you have only yourself to blame for any problems that arise therein."
She says absolutely nothing, for a moment.
"That actually made perfect sense.", she says, "You have been taking your Ranger training very seriously, haven't you?"
"Very seriously. It's my first honest job.", he responds, "Aside from world savior and dragon prince, of course."
She rolls onto her back, sighing.
"Your parents can not be happy with this idea.", he says.
"Why not? I've told them what my feelings towards you are.", she responds, smiling slightly.
"I'm number one with a bullet, and my only saving grace is that I'm the only feasible suitor for you."
"My mother will always hate you unless you can use that fantastic power of yours to change into a full-blooded windian prince."
"Give me time."
"I'll consider it. For right now, stay just as you are. And please, do so quietly. I really need to get some sleep.", she responds, closing her eyes, and rolling onto her left side, leaving him to his thoughts as she drifts off into sleep.
It all started two months ago.
He had opted for training in the Rangers, a group of soldier/bounty hunters who were founded by the Valerians, the sect of people who inhabit the Eastern lands.
The Rangers were soldiers trained in saving lives, and took bounties that would only lead to a criminal being brought to justice, or bettering the life of an innocent. Sounded good to him.
In any case, he was progressing nicely in his training, receiving occasional visits by Rei, Momo(who was travelling around the lands lecturing on the origins of technology), and even got a letter from Nina, telling him about the latest situation in Windia. Seems that she's opted him to be considered as her fiance. Unfortunately, he couldn't make the time to go all the way to Windia, Warp Portals or no.
So, one night, when he was reviewing what he was taught that day, he heard a knock on his door.
Nina was there, having gone from Windia to see him.
She told him she planned on making their engagement as official as possible, without her parents' consent.
When she took off her overcoat, she wasn't wearing anything underneath it.
He had always had feelings for her. They were in love for a long time, up to and including the time she nearly strangled him for disappearing for twelve years.
That night, they made love for the first time.
It was the most incredible, and most terrifying experience of his life.
He never heard Nina scream like that, before. He was sure she could've woken up the entire dorm.
He was sure she could've woken the dead.
They've done things like that since.
He knows this is a usual part of Windian courtship, but he's still a bit unnerved. His two-week leave is coming up, and he's using at least part of it to go to Windia, to see what he can do.
Unnerved? To say the least. How do you confront two of the most powerful people in the known world, who have the full knowledge that you've deflowered their daughter?
When in doubt, change into a dragon.
He has to find a new set of strategies.
Windia, three days later.
Ryu can feel the gaze of the Queen Cyra of Windia boring into him.
He can feel a gaze of ambiguous admiration from King Nolan of Windia.
He can see Nina standing nervously by her seated father.
He's standing on one knee before the rulers, with the full knowledge that the Queen is ready to right up a new law to have him taken out and castrated for what he's done.
His Brood powers give him massive regenerative abilities....but he's not so sure about this one.
"I understand," the King states, "That you were once a thief."
Ryu can feel the heat from everyone's gaze on him.
"I was, I make no lie of that.", he responds, "But that was thirteen years ago. I have grown out of that. I'm currently training to be a Ranger, and plan on making an honest living off of that. I make no plans to live off the royal family of Windia if you accept my engagement to your daughter."
Thankfully, Dragnier had someone who used to teach political philosophy.
Thank Ladon for small favors.
"Oh, I already have accepted my daughter's decision.", the King states, "But I wished to clear up that detail. Have your people accepted your decision, Prince Asmadi?"
"They have, your Highness.", Ryu responds, standing up, "In fact, with our previous problem gone, more Brood have appeared, some who hid themselves underground after the war. They are all backing me on thi-"
Suddenly, the ceiling caves in behind him.
An amber-hued object crashes through, taking with it most of the east wall, the ceiling, and smashing into the floor, the stench of smoke and brimstone coming off it.
Ryu turns, grabbing the fighting pike from his belt and extending it to it's full length.
A person rises from the flames and debris.
He is nine feet tall, his body rippling with muscles and power, two massive wings stretching from above his head to the floor.
His eyes glow deep blue.
Ryu and Nina instantly recognize him....as they should of from his spectacular entrance.
He folds his pike, clipping it onto his belt, slowly walking to the gargoyle.
"Garr!", he exclaims, both mystified and ecstatic, the massive gargoyle smiling slightly, "Garr, how are you-"
"It is a long story, Ryu.", the gargoyle responds, turning to the king, "I apologize for my entrance, but I must speak with the Prince and your daughter alone, Your Majesty."
The King sighs, shaking his head.
"Be my guest.", he moans, standing, and motioning his guards as he and the incensed Queen walk out.
The small town of Gate, in the southern part of the inhabitted lands.
In the northern part of the town, a massive mountain sits, in which is embedded a ghost town.
A large rock falls from the lower part of the mountain.
A single man, dressed in black, his eyes red and green, walks out.
He looks around at his surroundings.
"So," he says, his voice shifting about like the wind, "This is what has changed in 500 years, hm?"
He then begins his trek to civilization.
"I wish there was an easy way to explain this to you.", Garr begins pacing around the smoldering throne room, "But I cannot find one. Our quest has not yet ended. We still have much to do. Myria has departed this world, but her servants and her mistakes are still here, as is her heir."
"Her heir?", Nina asks, "Myria had a child?"
"Not any child. The Seed of Evil.", Garr responds, "When the first Destined Child, the one you saw on the mural in Dragnier, when he first drove Myria from this world, she left behind a monster. A monster more terrifying and more powerful than any that was ever seen. The monster saw itself as God, and set up a church to worship it. It took the life and full power of a Brood to keep it at bay until the second Destined Child could seek out the evil, and do battle with it. The evil was defeated, but not destroyed. It would sleep, until it came time to awaken again. With Myria's departure, she unintentionally awoke it."
Ryu paces, running his hand through his hair.
"This is crazy.", he mutters, and turns to his massive companion, "Garr, I've read something about this at Dragnier. Isn't it still imprisoned?"
"It is buried under a mountain, yes.", the Guardian responds, "But when it awakens, it will tear itself from the ground. It thinks of itself as God, and it has a good reason. Even Myria fears its power. And as the Destined Child, it is your duty to face him."
Nightfall at Windia castle.
Garr perches atop the highest tower, wrapped in thought, contemplating what he knows.
He hears the flapping of wings, and turns, just in time to see Ryu revert from dragon to human.
Garr says nothing, looking out to the stars.
"There's something else, Garr.", Ryu says, "Isn't there?"
"It was nothing I could have said in front of others.", Garr responds, "But before Gaist left for the next world....he told me everything he knows. What he knows is why he abandoned the Guardians. Why he left for someplace far away from the Urkan Plateau. It's about this world."
"What about it?"
"Everything.", Garr responds, "Why we're here. What Myria is. What all of this means. It all makes sense, when you look at it."
"Garr, you're not making sense.", Ryu says, sitting down next to him, "What did he tell you?"
Garr stands, and gestures outwards, towards the world around them.
"This," he says, "All of this....is a massive colony! All of it! The Windians, the Worens, the Dog-Men, the Cat-People, all of it! None of us are native to this world! None of us...."
"Garr....this makes no sense."
Garr chuckles, for a moment, his wings folding about him like a cape.
"It makes perfect sense!", he announces, "Have you ever wondered how races so different could evolve on a world that was, until three hundred years ago, perfectly pristine? How a race such as the Brood could develop on a world with such little natural hardship? The answer is simple: They didn't!"
He stands atop the very apex of the tower, wings outfolding fully.
"All of this was colonized, thousands of years ago, and then lost by their parent races. Civilization fell, and was rebuilt by all the races working together. They forgot about their origins, and built what we see today.", he continues, "All in all, it turned out quite different from what they planned. When he went to Caer Xan, Gaist found records of the original colonies. Found out the truth about them. The realization was a shock, I can tell you. He abandonded the Guardians, abandoned his faith in his false God, and left to come to terms with it all."
He looks down to Ryu.
"Do you understand, all of this?"
Ryu scratches his head, still trying to take this all in.
Silently, he changes to a dragon, and flies away.
And Garr sits there, alone, with his thoughts.
Deep beneath the ground, the lost city of Dogandy.
An old man sits in the temple, silently. Waiting.
He opens his eyes, his gaze focusing on the mirror appearing before him.
The mirror showing the very confused, very disturbed Ryu.
"Yes, my son.", he whispers, his voice throaty and with a thick accent, "Your journey begins now. To Gate you must go. There, everything will be answered...."
And he nods off into sleep.
Far, far underneath him, something stirrs.
The next morning.
The weaponsmith in Windia comes alive as a massive amber fist slams into the metal rod, unaffected by the metal's exposure to the fire, bending it and packing the metal in.
The workers in the smith's stand back, as Garr single-handedly bends and sculpts the metal into the shape of a massive, single-edged spear.
He takes several jewels from his pouch, placing them on the shaft, the grip, and the blade itself, in places almost predetermined in his mind.
He places the spear on the anvil, falling down to his knees, his hands clasped in prayer.
The spear is consumed in fire, the heat and light causing the other workers to shield their eyes.
The fire dies down, the spear sitting on the anvil, intact....and cooled.
Garr picks up the spear, and walks out, tossing a bag of gold onto the counter as he leaves.
Ryu watches from one of the towers as Garr marches back into the castle, his wings folded about him like a cloak.
Ryu simply taps his fingers, going over in his head everything Garr told him.
Wrapped up in thought, he doesn't hear the slight footsteps behind him, or the delicate hand on his.
"Ryu, what is it?", Nina simply asks.
He doesn't know how to explain it to her. Either it was true, and everything he knew was a lie....or his friend, his protector, his comrade....has gone completely insane.
"I....I just don't know."
Several hours later.
The sentry at the Eastern Checkpoint silently stands guard at the gate, his eyes slowly becoming heavier and heavier.
As a shadow blots out the sun above him, he begins to wonder why night has fallen so early....
Someone clears his throat. Someone big.
He looks up, to see the nine-foot tall gargoyle standing over him.
He squeaks out a shocked yell, when he notices the woman next to the monster.
"Y-your highness!", he stutters, falling to one knee, "Princess Nina, how can I serve you?"
Nina gives a slightly annoyed look to Garr, and turns back to the guard.
"We need you to open the gates, by order of my father.", she responds.
The guard sees Ryu right next to her, Garr relaxing his wings about his shoulders.
The guard quickly nods, pulling open the gates, and the trio walking through.
"What now?", Ryu asks, the three of them walking across the wooden bridge, Garr in the lead.
"First, we find whoever we can to aid us. The second Destined Child did not face the Seed alone.", Garr responds, "He had allies. And the Seed is more powerful than ever, now. More powerful than we could possibly imagine...."
"You're not exactly inspiring confidence.", Nina replies, her hair blowing in the faint wind around them, as they reach the end of the bridge and the cliffs of Rhapala, "Who can we find to help us? Peco is somewhere in the Desert of Death, so we can't call on him. Not yet, at least."
"He will have his role to play.", Garr responds, stopping for a moment, his brow furrowed in thought as he turns to them, "What about Rei?"
"Walkabout.", Ryu responds, curtly, "He's gone on a Walkabout to understand his powers. Maybe find some more of the Worens."
"I...see.", Garr responds, nodding solemnly, "You must forgive me. I have been.... out of touch for the past year. What about Momo? Is she in Caer Xhan?"
"No. She's travelling throughout the universities.", Nina responds, "She lectures on technologies from Caer Xhan."
Garr nods, beginning to pace about.
He notices the compressed weapon hanging from Ryu's belt.
"Of course....", he mutters, "The Rangers."
He turns to Ryu.
"The second Destined Child was a Ranger, as well. He recorded everything. If we are to find the help we need to defeat our enemy, it will most likely rest with the Rangers. And the Valerians."
"Very well.", Nina responds, "Valeria it is. I think I should know the way."
Garr notices Ryu blushing, slightly, as Nina walks away.
He's about to ask something, when Ryu starts after her.
Garr sighs, deeply, folding his wings in back of him.....when something strikes into the back of his mind.
A power he is all too familiar with.
"The Kari...", he mutters, "But...who?"
He sees the images.
The Guardian who mentored him, finding a child with a dead woman and a slain dragon..........
.......The last Guardian.
Garr's eyes flash gold.
A single word escapes his lips.
Ways of the Rangers
A small hutt occupies the patch of land outside the city of Torungaad, in the island of Valeria.
A burst of light comes from the basement, followed by Ryu climbing out of the hole in the floor.
He pulls himself up off the ladder, turning to help Nina up, both of them followed by Garr.
"It's a house outside the training city.", Ryu explains to the Guardian, "No one lives here anymore, but there is a Portal housed here. Nina and I use it...frequently."
It's Nina's turn to blush.
Garr is about to ask something, when the two walk out from the hutt, leading Garr to the city.
A bulky, large craft hovers over the ground as it moves along the dirt roads of the Rhapala countryside.
Momo sits at the countrols, guiding her new amalgam along, her android companion, Honey, guiding the navigationa array towards Windia.
The droid begins beeping.
"What is it, Honey?", she asks, pushing a lock of red hair from her eyes, "What do you see?"
A readout appears on the screen in front of her.
A man is standing there.
Dressed completely in black, his eyes glowing alternately red and green.
She stops the craft, climbing out of her seat, and walks out of the craft.
The man notices the red-haired woman walking from the ship in his path.
He can see the aura about her.
The aura of one associated with the damned one.
"Can I help you?", she asks, masking her fear with curiosity.
"You.", the man states, "You are an ally of the Destined Child."
"I'm....I'm sorry?", she asks, "What do you mean?"
The eyes glow even brighter.
An invisible force grabs Momo's throat, lifting her high into the air, her hands gripping her collar as she begins to choke.
"You are one of the damned. Those who would go against our God. Our God returns shortly. He will punish those who move against Him. His power is greater than even those of the Kaiser."
He releases the grip, Momo falling to the ground.
"Who....who are you?", she demands, her damaged voice barely a whisper.
The man smiles.
A smile filled with sadism, power, and pure, undiluted evil.
"I am the ghost that haunts your dream house. The bane of the Brood who walk this earth. I am the right hand of our God's vengeance.", he states, "I have many names. You may use my favorite."
The ground begins to shake.
"I am Barubary.", he states, his eyes beginning to glow like twin suns.
With a bright light, he reveals his true form.
All Momo can do is scream.
Dragnier, the ruined home of the Brood.
A shadow begins to creep over the once-great city, the flapping of wings splitting the air.
One by one, the inhabitants begin to look up.
Something has eclipsed the sun.
Something they have expected.
With a whisper, a pair of taloned feet set down in the middle of the city.
All the inhabitants who are outside gaze up at the arrival. One who they have prayed to return, for centuries. Ever since the Purge.
Standing forty feet tall, covered in royal purple and deep blue scales, his wings stretching from above his head to right above his feet.
His tail coils on the ground, serrated and ending in three distinct spikes.
The horns on his head seem to form a crown, his snout pronounced and regal. Every inch displays power, might...and royalty. Royalty most of the Brood in the city have only witnessed in the Dragon Prince.
One of the Brood begins running to the hut where their leader lives, yelling all the way:
"He's returned! He's returned! Bahamut has returned!!!"
Garr follows his two companions into the central building of the training compound.
He is still disturbed by his vision.
He has heard rumors of a human Guardian....but those could only be rumors. The Goddess would never allow a Guardian to serve without Her protection...
But the events of the past years have proven that his Goddess is not infallible...
He snaps to attention as they enter the main hall of the building.
Several Rangers, garbed in deep black-brown cloaks, their faces hidden in hoods, line the walls.
A middle aged human is standing there, slowly walking to Ryu.
"Ranger Asmadi.", he says, "I was told you would be arriving. How can I help you?"
Ryu makes a half-bow, his hands folded into a triangle.
"My companions and I have recently begun a journey which we will need aid to complete.", he says, sounding as if he has rehearsed this speech, "We need access to the Library. We need to know everything there is to know about the Rangers and Gate, from five hundred years ago."
The leader's face pales.
"I...I see.", he says, slowly, "That was a dark time, Ranger Asmadi. What you ask is not easy."
"I'm very much aware.", Ryu responds, "I'm not very comfortable with this, either. But it is something that we have to do."
The elder makes a gesture.
From the Rangers lining the wall, one steps forward.
"One of the Rangers stationed here knows everything you need. He will accompany you.", he says, "He will be able to help you. He is one of my finest students, and he will continue your training while you are away."
The ranger pulls back the hood, revealing a face bereft of any hair, his skin paler than normal....and bearing a boneplate covering the back of his head, jutting to three points.
"I am Kaylenn, formerly of the WindSongs, now of the Anla'shok.", he states, his voice filled with wide-eyed curiosity and the horror of what Ryu intends, "I am at your service to aid your quest. I know what you must do, and I will take these matters with the utmost priority. I live for the One. I die for the One. Entil'zah Veni."
Garr folds his wings about him like a cape, gazing at the young Valerian with respect and admiration.
So young, and yet so ready to throw himself at a mad god.....
"Very well.", the elder says, "We will provide you with a flyer to reach your destination. It will be ready by morning. Until then, you are welcome to stay here for the night.
He turns to Ryu, his hands forming into the same triangle.
"I know what you must do.", he solemnly states, "May the Gods of Feintel watch over you and your companions."
Ryu makes a half-bow, his hands taking the same position.
"Entil'zah Veni.", he states.
Barubary, once again in his human form, walks through the battered debris of the hovercraft.
Before him is the battered, bruised, bloodied, and utterly terrified Momo.
"Poor, poor blasphemer.", he says, "Not as noble when the Kaiser is nowhere to be seen.....I can wait. He will come. The noble spirit will be his undoing, yet."
The Devil you Know
Greetings, Destined Child. We have waited for you...for five hundred years....for the pleasure of rending your flesh from your bones. To feed on your marrow. To savor your screams. Songs shall be written of the beauty of the pain we shall inflict upon you, body and soul........
Before him is a man, his hair and beard unkempt, his eyes afire with pure hell-borne power.
The source of the demonic voice.
He knows him....he knows him from somewhere....somewhere in his nightmares.
A face appears before him.
That of a beautiful woman, her eyes alight with pure energy......
Her face is one of desperation.
You must stop him, Ryu Asmadi. You are the only one who can.
He wakes up with a startled scream, covered in perspiration, his nightclothes sticking to his body.
He jumps when he feels a hand on his forearm, but relaxes when he realizes it's just Nina.
"Ryu...", she says, more startled than he was, "Ryu...what happened?"
"A....a dream.", he says, shaking his head, "Just a dream."
"It was a nightmare.", she corrects, "And you usually don't have those."
He slowly nods.
He buries his face in his hands, going over the dream, again and again.
"Myria.", Nina says.
He quickly turns to her.
"I've been talking in my sleep, again.", he mutters, "Yeah. I saw her in it."
"What did she say?", she asks, folding her butterly-esque wings about him.
"She was desperate. She's afraid of that....thing we're after.", he responds, "I think...she was contacting me. I think it was Myria."
"How? She's dead."
"We didn't see her die.", he responds, "This is a bonafide deity we're talking about. Maybe she is immortal, maybe she isn't. All I know is, she's gone. But I think it was her, speaking directly into my mind."
Nina seems visibly shaken by this.
If Myria could so easily reach into his mind, then......she shudders at the thought.
"She wasn't evil.", Nina says, more to reassure herself than him.
"She committed genocide.", he responds, "She had to leave this world. Had to face up to her crime."
"She wasn't evil, though.", Nina says, "She was misguided. She wanted to do the right thing, but she found herself becoming more and more desperate, more willing to do anything to save her world....even if it meant murdering an entire race."
His mind begins to wander.
If what Garr said was true....what if the Brood here weren't the only Brood? What if other Brood existed, on other worlds? Did Myria kill them, too......or is an entire race waiting for him, out amongst the stars?
"It's some consolation.", he responds, his eyelids heavy, "Not much. For my people. For my family."
She lays him down onto his back. He feels the warmth of her lips brushing against his own, feels her arm wrapping around him, her familiar weight easing him to sleep.
He sees one more image.
An older man, his hair already grey and bearded, his eyes sparkling green-blue. The aura of the Brood is about him. Of royalty.
"Father....", Ryu whispers, and sleep overtakes him.
The next day.
A blue/white hued valerian flyer, four engine nacelles glowing brightly, lifts off from a launch pad, it's almost organic skin shimmering in the dawn's light.
Kaylenn effortlessly manipulates the controls, touching levers and sliding his hands over the crystals as the engines ignite, propelling the craft forward.
"What shall I set our destination as?", he says, not turning from the viewport.
"Set it...", Ryu responds, "ah.....Southern Windia. The Yggdrasil might know something about this."
Kaylenn gives an affirmative, pushing a button.
The craft blurrs as it speeds to it's destination, a small shockwave emitted as it accelerates past Mach 1.
Nina walks around the cabin of the craft, the smooth, light-hued walls reflecting the light around them, illuminating the interior of the ship.
"Momo would love to get her hands on this.", she says.
"Who?", Kaylenn responds, not turning from the controls.
"Momo. A friend of ours.", Ryu responds, "She studies ancient and advanced technologies. Right now, she's touring the universities in a contraption she built using materials from Caer Xhan."
Nina slowly nods, walking over to Kaylenn's station.
Part of the wall melts away, a map flowing down and solidifying.
"I'm reading the signature of a hovercraft roughly 3.5 kilometers from our position.", Kaylenn responds, "Shall I investigate?"
Ryu, Nina, and Garr exchange a look.
"Yeah. Why not? We could use her help.", Ryu responds, "Take us there, Kaylenn."
The ship tilts, slightly, the landscape from the viewport blurring as it accelerates towards it's new destination......
When they see the smoke coming from the forest.
Kaylenn waves his hand over a set of crystals on his right.
The viewport blurrs, reappearing with a magnified view of the hovercraft.
What's left of it, anyway.
Metal and parts are strewn throughout the landscape.
Fires still burn where the generator was.
Shards of metal are still glowing from the energy that was used to destroy the behemoth vehicle.
"Holy....", Ryu whispers, the first to break the silence, "Kaylenn....are there any life readings?"
Kaylenn slowly shakes his head.
"No life signs. No organic components anywhere in the wreckage. If she survived, she's not here."
"Then take us down.", Ryu says, turning to walk to the hatch.
"She carries a small robot on her at all times. If Honey's still there....maybe she can tell us what happened."
Garr is the first one there, using his massive strength to displace entire sections of the wreckage, the heat and flames only amplifying his power.
Before long, the wreckage is spread out, dispersed to the point where nothing is left to the imagination.
To their regret.
Nina walks to the section that was, at one point, the 'bridge' of the craft.
Falling to one knee, she picks up the bruised and battered, and barely functioning android, reaching behind it's head to flip the activation switch.
It's eyes light up, before emitting a moan.
"It's alright, Honey.", Nina reassures the android, "It's me. Nina. What happened?"
In it's own binary gibberish, Honey begins her story.
The flyer rises into the air an hour later, engines ignitting as it shoots off in a new direction.
Kaylenn sits at the controls, entering in the course Honey related to them.
It seems too convenient. Why would.....whoever did this, leave such a clear destination?
A small town on the northern continent. A small fishing village called Hometown.
What signifigance could it possibly have?
As they approach the town at Mach 5, Garr has an epiphany.
"Of course.", he whispers, to himself, "It must be him....."
He can sense the power.
A power that Myria created the Guardians to oppose.....
He summons his spear in a burst of flame, opening the hatch behind him, and leaps out.
Ryu turns, seeing Garr leaping out of the craft, folding out his wings and flying towards the town.
"What the....", he starts, turning to the others, "Kaylenn, slow down. Garr's up to something."
The entire town seems abandoned, Garr notices, as he sets down in the center of the village, his wings folding around him like a cape.
"They've gone on an expedition.", the voice says, behind him.
The black-garbed man is standing there.
"It's a big event. A massive concentration of sealife, their's for the taking. They take everyone from the village, lock it up, and go fishing.", he continues, "I have been expecting you, Garr, last of the Guardians."
Garr studies his opponent. He doesn't seem like much, but he is not one to underestimate.
"I know who you are.", he states.
The dark man raises an eyebrow.
"Oh? And what am I?"
"The darkness the Guardians were created to protect the world against."
"A pity. I thought Myria would show a more favorable light to her successor."
"He is not her successor. Merely her bastard.", Garr spats.
The man's eyes glow brightly. He hit a nerve.
"Do not talk in blasphemy, Guardian.", he growls, his voice becoming lower, demonic, "You will not insult our God."
"You are nothing to us. Myria herself could not stand against the Kaiser. What makes you think you or your false god can?", Garr responds, goading him.
"You insult us.", the man growls, his voice a low rumble, "I am the Right Hand of Vengeance for our God. You will not leave unpunished."
His eyes glow in a blinding light.
"I am Barubary.", he roars, "Behold my true form, and DESPAIR!!!!"
The light seems to consume the entire village, temporarily blinding Kaylenn and the others as they approach Hometown in the flyer.
As the light clears, one thing is clearly different. One thing most apparent.
Kaylenn is the first to speak.
"In Valen's name.", he whispers.
Standing before Garr, in all his horrifying glory, is the Demon.
Thirty feet tall.
Covered in scales so dark, they absorb the light.
A thrashing tall hangs behind him, covered in jagged, poisonous spikes.
Each three fingered hand ends in massive, sirrated talons.
The head is covered in curved, sharp spikes, three curved, slanted eyes defined on the face, as well as a mouth filled with four rows of razor-sharp teeth.
"Where are your words, now, Guardian?", Barubary demands, every inch shaking with rage.
Garr smiles, bringing his spear back.
"I will let this speak for me.", he simply states, and strikes, plunging his spear into the demon's heart.
The spear barely breaks the surface shell, cracking the armor, but not penetrating.
Barubary growls, swinging the back of his fist into Garr, sending him flying into and through the nearby Inn.
"He doesn't stand a chance, alone.", Ryu states, "He needs my help."
He shrugs off his overcoat, unbuckling his sword and compressed pike, as he walks to the hatch.
Nina runs up to him.
They say nothing, both understanding what has to be done.
"I've done this before.", he states.
"I know. Doesn't mean I like it.", she responds, "Be careful."
He gives off a crooked smile.
"You know me."
"Yes, I do. So be careful."
He pulls her over into a short, intense kiss.
"See you soon.", he says, and jumps out the hatch.
Kaylenn isn't sure which is more unbelievable, the fact that Ryu has just leaped out of the flyer, or the fact that Nina didn't think it was out of the ordinary.
"Is he insane?", Kaylenn asks.
"No.", she responds, "He's Brood. Although, I'm starting to wonder if there's a difference."
Something beeps on the sensor array.
"Sensors are picking up a life sign. Not very strong, though."
Nina looks over to the map. The woods right to the east of the town.
"It could be her. Take us there.", she orders.
Ryu dives right towards the town, towards the demon, concentrating as he summons his powers.
He has heard rumors of this being.
The bane of the Destined Child.....but why has Barubary never appeared in his dreams?
He can hear his heartbeat.
His eyes have become cat's-eyes.
He feels his power as Brood coursing through his veins.
The demon is horribly powerful.
Myria has good reason to fear beings like that. Only one power is appropriate.
With a flash of light, it begins.
A pair of massive, feathered wings tear out from his shoulders, his teeth gritting with the familiar pain.
His entire body stretches to four times it's normal height and width, covering itself in gold and silver scales.
His fingers extend into talons.
His toes extend into claws.
His face stretches out into a defined snout, his mouth opening as he lets out a cry of pain.....which translates into an earth-shaking roar of Ascension.
Barubary looks up, just as the massive dragon slams right into him, sending him back, yellow blood streaming from his mouth.
"The Destined Child.", he growls, his eyes glowing brightly, "Our God will reward me greatly........."
He leaps at Ryu, teeth bared.
".......When I bring him your head on a pike!"
The flier lands on the outskirts of the forest, Nina running out on the ramp, Honey on her shoulder, Kaylenn quickly following.
"Princess, wait for me!", the young valerians insists, "We don't know what else is here-"
He stops, as does Nina, when they see her.
Crucified, hanging from the first tree.
Shards of iron stabbed through her wrists, her head hanging limply.
Kaylenn takes a device from his belt, pressing a button, two bolts of yellow light firing out, evaporating the wood behind Momo and letting her fall to the forest floor.
Nina is there immediately after, rolling her onto her back, taking a flask to Momo's lips as Honey goes into a panicked, binary chatter.
She turns to Kaylenn, a question in her mind.
He walks over, examining her now-scabbed wrists.
"Iron.", he says, "So we couldn't free her through magical means. But valerian weapons are hardly magic."
Nina gives off a brief chuckle.
"She's going to love you.", she states, as Momo begins to stir.
Ryu rears his head back, sucking in air, the stench of brimstone and sulfur coming from his mouth, and roars.
Barubary, caught in mid-leap, can only scream as the jet of pure, undiluted, unmerciful flame lances out.
It hits like the blast-wave of a thermonuclear bomb.
The ground in front and behind of Barubary is smoothed down to glass.
Entires swaths of his shell catch fire, the weaponsmith behind him blowing away like dirt in a gale storm.
The flame begins to recede, with a glow of green light.
The flame is repelled from Barubary, his eyes glowing green and red, a beam of green force coming from his mouth, battling with the Kaiser's flame, every inch of his body tense with rage and power.
Ryu's face turns to one of shock, shock of the level of power this being possesses.
Realization of why Barubary is so feared.
The two gales of power fade away, Barubary swiftly charging and slashing Ryu across the face, sending the Kaiser dragon to the ground, the demon's tale impaling one of his wings.
Ryu roars in pain, slamming his fist into Barubary's torso as he stands, pulling the tail from his wing, his nostrils alight with flame.
Anothing blast of green energy slams into Ryu, sending him once more to the ground, and through one of the apartment buildings.
Barubary snorts, the fires on his body reduced to unnoticable dark spots.
An amber fist strikes him in the head.
He turns, seeing Garr, aloft on his wings, spear in hand.
"You did not think you would be rid of me so easily, did you, Barubary?", Garr demands.
Before Barubary can react, the spear plunges right through his shoulder, making him bellow in pain, lashing out with a blast that sends Garr to the ground.
Blood pours from his wound, Barubary's eyes glowing brightly.
A golden fist slams into his face, cracking his armor and sending a tooth flying out.
He turns, just in time to see Ryu's fist bash right in between all three eyes, shattering the armor.
Blood pours out of his nostrils, as he collapses to the ground with such force that the earth rumbles.
He scrambles to his feet, as Kaylenn and Nina enter the town.
Barubary looks towards the sky.
"Aid me, my God!", he bellows, "Aid your servant in his hour of need!"
A pillar of light consumes Barubary, a light so bright that they all have to shield their eyes.....and he is gone.
With the lowest rumbles, and a slight sparkling light, the Kaiser dragon changes back into Ryu.
Garr plants his spear into the ground, pulling himself up with a groan, and sees the two newcomers.
"Well?", he asks.
"We found Momo.", Nina states, "She was....badly injured, but she's resting on the flyer. What happened here?"
"We haven't seen the last of Barubary.", Garr states, limping over to Ryu, "Not nearly. And I think he was going easy on you."
"Great.", Ryu groans, "Now what? I've read....some things about this, but not nearly enough. I don't know what to do."
Garr smiles, ever so slightly.
"But the Brood do."
Straightening himself up, billowing out his wings, he starts towards the flyer.
"Everyone to the ship!", he announces, "We're going to Dragnier!"
The Dragon King
Deep beneath the earth, it stirrs.
The darkness of a soul that has lost its way.
The death of hope.
The death of dreams.
As Barubary appears before it, it begins to take shape.
"Great Lord," Barubary says, "I have failed you, and ask only for your forgiv-"
An invisible hand latches onto the demon's throat.
"The death of the Kaiser is too delicate for your hands alone, servant.", the voice, both demonic and godlike, omnipresent and conveying infinite wisdom and madness, scolds, "There will be other opportunities. Not now."
The force releases the demon, who scurries away.
And Evarai begins to take shape.
The flyer speeds to Dragnier at Mach 2, leaving a barely visible trail of blue dust in it's wake.
With a barely audiable groan, Momo slowly opens her eyes.
She sees the shimmering blue-green ceiling.
The first thing she notices is the slow, rhythmic humming coming from all around her.
"A....gravity engine?", she asks, quickly climbing out of the cot she was put in....and instantly regretting it.
She nearly collapses to the floor, grabbing onto the bed for support, as she looks around her.
"A gravity engine. Mach 10 maximum speed, full gravity and inertial controls.", she says to herself, "I'd have to say...-"
"Valerian.", Nina says, from the doorway.
Momo turns to her, having barely heard her, wrapped up in her analysis of the flyer.
"It's a valerian ship?", she asks, "You mean, the valerian you were with-"
"Is the pilot, yes.", Nina responds, "Momo, you shouldn't be up."
"I'm fine, Nina. Really. Whatever happened, I'm fully recove-"
"Momo, you were crucified!", Nina interrupts, exhasperated. It's a wonder she didn't take the liberty and tie her down. Or at least convince Kaylenn to travel in a more low-tech way.
"Healing magic or not, you are not in the condition to be walking around.", she continues, "Now, I want you to-"
Suddenly, the intercom crackles.
"NINA! GET UP TO THE BRIDGE, NOW!", Ryu's voice, alarmed, yells.
A few minutes earlier.
Garr sits, stonefaced, watching the landscape blurr by as the ship speeds to Dragnier.
"Should I send a message to the residents to tell them we are coming?", Kaylenn asks, breaking the silence.
Ryu and Garr exchange a look.
"No. Not exactly. Well, if you have to, don't tell them Garr's with us. He won't exactly get a warm reception.", Ryu responds, walking over to the young valerian, "How much longer?"
"City walls will be coming into view in three point one five minutes."
"Good.", Garr rumbles, "They will appreciate anything we can tell them. The return of Barubary to the mortal world is no doubt an omen."
Ryu turns to the Guardian.
Garr stands, stretching out his wings.
"Barubary has a firm place in Brood mythos.", he says, "Long ago, before the Brood war, there was a peace between Myria and the Dragon-clan. I studied their culture. My knowledge of the Brood was one of the reasons my father, brother, and I were chosen as Guardians."
Something begins peaking over the landscape.
"Establishing preliminary contact.", Kaylenn announces.....when a spire peaks over the horizon.
Ryu's eyes go wide.
Garr's face turns to one of shock.
"Great Goddess....", he whispers.
A massive palace appears, towering over Dragnier. Stainless marble towers, magnificient jeweled spires. A castle more magnificient than any they have ever seen.
"What...what is that?", Ryu whispers.
"The Palace of the Dragon King....", Garr responds, "I saw one, before it was destroyed....only a Brood who fully commands his power could build such a thing....."
Ryu, not taking his eyes off the majestic sight before him, hits the intercom.
"Nina!", he yells, "Get up to the bridge, NOW!"
The flyer lands on the outskirts of Dragnier, the five of them cautiously walking out.
The moment Ryu walks through the restored gates, a resounding cry of, "ALL HAIL PRINCE RYU!!" bellows from the assembled residents.
Garr keeps a pace behind them, averting his gaze from all but the palace that towers over them all.
The elder dragon walks up to Ryu, bowing deeply.
"My Prince, welcome back to Dragnier.", he says, "As you can see, we have made progress since the Goddess's departure."
"What happened, here?", Ryu demands.
"I happened.", a deep voice answers.
They turn to the source. An aged man, balding but with a full white beard, walking towards them, the residents of the town parting like a sea.
"Your majesty!", the elder says, bowing to him, "He is here."
"I know.", the aged man says, turning to Ryu, "I have been expecting you for some time, Ryu. There is much of your mother in you."
Ryu knows this person....from somewhere. Distant memories...
"Who are you?", he asks.
"I," the man responds, "Am Bahamut Asmadi. Ruler of the Brood."
Garr recognizes the name.
Nina turns to Ryu.
"Asmadi...?", she asks, recognizing Ryu's own last name.
"That means...", Ryu starts.
"Yes, Ryu," Bahamut responds, nodding, "I am your Father."
The stars hanging high above the planet.
A bright yellow light fades in, shining down on the world.
She knows this place well. Cared for it as its God. And as God, she still has her responsibilities.
The light begins its descent, towards the only being she knows who can aid her.
Gods and Monsters
Kaylenn silently walks along the halls of the Palace of the Dragon King. He was the first one to leave the dining hall. Not that he didn't appreciate the gesture Lord Bahamut had made.
If anything, the Dragon King was a gracious host. Kaylenn was just never used to these massive, formal dinners.
Rangers were trained to disavow materials as their primary desire.
'I live for the One, I die for the One.'
That is your only goal.
He mulls over these thoughs as he enters the garage of the palace, where his flyer is being kept during their stay.......
And he hears a noise.
One of the engines has its outer skin peeled off, parts strewn about the floor.
With a swift motion, he fully extends his pike, rushing in towards the first person he sees with a sharp battlecry........
The temple at the base of Mount Zublo.
The inigo sorceress Deis automatically looks up as she senses the power approaching.
"I...thought you would be coming back.", she says, as the bright yellow light appears, "You're many things, sister, but irresponsible is not one of them."
She senses the urgency in the energy.
"You're not going to assume a physical form?"
She senses the negative reply.
"I...I see. I thought it would be awakening soon.", Deis responds, "Ryu and his companions are after it. They're at Dragnier, now. But, before you go, I think you should know something."
The energy stops, a question in its thoughts.
"Bahamut's returned.", Deis responds, looking down, "So, I wouldn't suggest barging into the dragon city just yet. Gate. Gate's where the damned thing is buried. So, I'd suggest-"
She looks up.
The energy, her sister, is gone.
She sighs, to herself.
"I'm too old for this, Myria.", she says, to herself, "I can't help you....I hope you know just what you're doing."
With a sigh, she turns back to the shadows.
Most everyone has left, leaving only Bahamut, Ryu, and Nina in the extravigant, crystal adorned dining hall.
Ryu paces, obviously and justifyingly troubled, his mind bursting with questions.
"I know there are questions.", Bahamut says, "There is much you want to know."
"Yes. There is.", Ryu responds, "I...I thought meeting Myria would answer them."
"Some. Not many of them, but some.", Ryu responds, "There's just so much I still don't know."
"I have been around a long time, son. You could ask me."
"How long?", Nina interjects.
"Give or take a decade, four hundred and thirty years.", Bahamut responds, standing, "The Brood are among the longest lived of all the species in existence. Certain ranks of Brood live longer than others."
"'Ranks'?", Nina asks.
"A Brood, during it's lifetime, will develop new abilities as it trains itself. Some are born at certain ranks, but all of them have the capacity to learn and grow.", the aged monarch responds, "Bronze, Copper, Iron, Green, Blue, Yellow, Silver, Gold, Black, White, and Platinum. I have ascended to the rank of Platinum, which is why I have stayed alive for so long. I was also able to hide from Myria and the Guardians. Only the strongest Brood could settle the waters of their powers in such a way."
"Then.....what am I?", Ryu asks.
"You, my son," Bahamut responds, "Are Kaiser."
"What does that mean?", Ryu asks, pacing around a bit more, "I've been told that for a long time, but I just don't know what that means!"
"It means," the elder brood responds, "That you are quite close to Omnipotent. The Kaiser rank is not a rank you can achieve through any way but birth. And only three Kaiser dragons are born every five hundred years. And they are all related, and all are mixed."
"Mixed?", Nina asks, obviously confused.
"Yes. Ryu's mother was not Brood."
Ryu turns to his father, his expression one of clear shock.
Swallowing his dry throat, he sits down in a nearby chair.
"Then....then what was she?"
"Your mother........was of the same clan as Myria."
A complete and utter silence blankets the room.
Bahamut sits down, waiting for his son or his future daughter in law to speak.
"The common misperception," he continues, "Was that Myria was unique. She is not. She, like us, belongs to a clan. That clan was on an equal footing with the Brood in the level of power they weild, but were far fewer in number. What happened to most of them is beyond me, but Myria was obviously a sort of leader to them. You've met others. Deis was her sister. And you've also met your mother, Ryu."
"Where?", Ryu demands, "I would have recognized her....."
"She called you a true dragon before departing this world.", Bahamut states, "She watched over you in the place where you were born."
Ryu sits back in the chair, remembering.....when he awoke after twelve years.....
"The Dauna mines.", he says, "That was her...is she dead?"
"I don't know. I doubt it, though. Myria's people are hard to kill. You unleashed the full power of the Kaiser on Myria, and she's still alive and ticking. I can only guess that she left this world."
"For where?", Nina asks.
Ryu looks over to his father.
The elder dragon king nods, slowly.
"You should tell her.", he says, softly.
"Tell me what?", Nina demands.
Ryu clasps his hands together. He remembers what Garr told him....
"It....It's what Garr knows. What Gaist knew, why he left the Guardians to begin with.", he says, "This entire world is a colony. Set up thousands of years ago, by alien races, and then lost. We're the descendants of that colony....."
Garr sits alone in the palace's immense library, perched upon a stool, wings folded like a cape, reading through the one of the various tomes present, dozens of which are already read and lying at his feet.
The Brood who inhabit this place have generally kept their distance.
He doesn't blame them.
Despite what others reassure him of, there is a good deal of bad blood between the Brood and the Guardians.
But still, he does feel at home in this library.
In the years since the Brood war, he has found himself straying more and more back to his roots, to that of a scholar. He has become a fighter of a second-to-none level, but he has always made time to learn what he could.
In this sense, he is glad he did not destroy the last of the Brood. Otherwise, this library would not be standing.
He closes the book, sliding it back into it's place on the shelf, pulling out yet another volume...out of which drops a small crystal.
Curiously, he picks it up, examining it.
Momo once told him about this device.
A....'holocrystal.' A device from the late Techno Age, designed to record visual and audio data and to project it.
The crystal lights up, projecting a beam, which forms into the image of a middle-aged woman with wings, similar to his own, jutting out of her back.
The woman he saw in the Dauna mines..
"To all who activate this crystal," she says, "I leave this message for my sons, Ryu...and Teepo.....so that they may know why all that has happened to them was meant to happen. And why the destiny they must face has been set in stone for over fifteen hundred years......."
Ten minutes earlier:
Kaylenn launches himself with a scream, pike ready to bash in the head of the intruder who has defiled his flyer.
The intruder turns, her red hair waving about, her expression one of shock.
She ducks out of the way, Kaylenn flying over her, his pike slamming into the floor and crushing the stone into powder.
He turns, recognizing the intruder.
"Momo!", he yells, "What do you think you are doing?!"
"What do you think you're doing?", she demands, "You could have hurt me!"
"And you've just taken apart one of my engines! You have no right!"
"I don't see your name written on it.", she responds, ducking back down below the flyer, "This is what I do."
"This is my property and that of the Rangers.", he firmly states, "I want you to repair the engine and leave the ship alone.
She slides out from under the ship long enough to give him a piercing stare.
"It will be repaired by morning. Now, if you don't mind, I need to study this. Honey?"
The small android walks out from the flyer, walking over to Kaylenn.
"If you don't mine, Kaylenn, leave."
"I will do no such-EE-YOW!"
He leaps forward, an electric shock going through his right leg.
He turns around, seeing Honey, her chest converted into a taser, slowly walking towards him.
He quickly backs out, muttering valerian curses under his breath.
Ryu walks into the library, the next morning, his eyes sagged with a lack of sleep.
Garr is sitting, silently, on the stool, as stonefaced as his cousins who hang from castle spires.
"Come here.", he says.
Ryu knows better than to ignore his old ally.
"What is it?", he asks, walking over to Garr.
"Get Bahamut, Nina, anyone else who needs to know. I have the answers we seek."
Garr waits until Ryu, Bahamut, Nina, Kaylenn, and Momo are assembled in the library.
He can sense the aninimity between the valerian and the scholar, but he has more important things to think of.....
Silently, he takes the holocrystal, and holds it outwards.
The same image appears.
Bahamut lowers his head, shaking it.
"To all who activate this crystal," the woman says says, "I leave this message for my sons, Ryu...and Teepo.....so that they may know why all that has happened to them was meant to happen. And why the destiny they must face has been set in stone for over fifteen hundred years......"
Ryu quickly turns to Garr, about to speak, when the gargoyle holds up his hand.
"Listen.", he orders.
"Long ago," the woman continues, "During the days of the First Fall, Ladon himself appeared in a vision, to the first leaders of the Clans. He said:
The shall come a time, when one who is the child of a Dragon and a God, shall cast out a Goddess, and free the great darkness that is the Death Evans. So shall the gates of Infinity be thrown open, and the Seed of Evil be released upon the world.
Death Itself shall pour forth, obscuring all life in a veil of darkness.
Theirs is the claw that tears flesh from bone.
Theirs is the beast's poisoned fang.
With a hell-borne fire, this world shall be rendered barren.
Their numbers shall darken skies in their passing, and crush the breath from the Clans.
We shall be bathed in our own blood, and rotted flesh shall be our fate.
With a deafening thunder, the Dark Age begins.
I leave this message, so that my children will know of this prophecy. So that they will know why the Brood had to die. Why they must seek out the Third, and prevent these dark words from ringing true. I will see you again, in the place where death would have no meeting. I will wait for you there. Farewell."
The image fades away.
Garr slowly turns to them.
"What....was that?", Nina asks.
"The reason for the Brood War.", Garr responds, clutching the crystal with a closed fist, eyes glowing pale violet.
"Long ago," Bahamut says, "Myria was told of this prophecy. A child of the Brood and the God-clan would inadvertantly release Evarai. Myria has always taken that....thing.....as her responsibility. She would not see it destroy the world."
"So, in order to prevent a child from being conceived between those two clans," Momo says, "One had to die....."
"Myria painted the Brood as evil.", he continues, "In a way, she was right. The Brood did have the power to destroy the world. They could have with just one child."
"And her clan was as well evil.", Bahamut continues, "Because they were the other half of the prophecy."
Ryu, his legs shaky, sits down.
"Teepo.....Teepo was my brother?", he asks, his voice barely a whisper.
Bahamut slowly nods.
"Your half-brother.", he responds, "The child of your mother and a second brood. You were both hidden underground right after you were born, so Myria would not find you. He hatched first."
"His powers awoke before mine.", Ryu says, "Is that why Myria took him?"
Bahamut nods, slowly.
"He was the child of a God and a Brood. Myria thought he was the destined child, and convinced him to forsake his power.", Bahamut responds.
"Then why didn't she kill him?", Kaylenn asks.
Bahamut turns to the young valerian.
"Myria is many things. She is not a murderer. She does not kill if she doesn't have to.", he responds, "Whatever the case, what is done is done. Evarai will awaken with Myria gone. We must now find a way to stop it."
"How can we?", Garr demands, "The power of the second Destined Child could not destroy the Evans. And we could barely banish Myria."
"The second destined child never fully harnessed his abilities.", Kaylenn responds, "At least, not at the time he faced the Seed."
The others turn to the valerian.
"I have made it a point to read what was written down of the second Destined Child.", he responds, "Ryu is the Destined Child. And a Kaiser dragon. There is a pattern, however. Whenever the Destined Child appeared, he was one of three Kaiser dragons."
"Yes, I know that.", Ryu responds, slightly impatient, "What does that mean, though? I'm Kaiser, Teepo was a Kaiser, so now what do we do?"
"It means," Bahamut responds, "You have to find the third Kaiser Dragon of this generation."
Bahamut turns to Garr.
"You know where she is, don't you?"
The others turn to the Guardian.
He slowly nods.
"There is a rumor, that I have heard," he says, "That twenty years ago, a pack of demons attacked a convoy. One that was believed to have had a Brood as one of its members. When the Guardian Grau'tix....my mentor....arrived, everyone was slaughtered. Human, Brood, all of them.....except a child. A young girl. Grau'tix took the girl under his wing. Trained her as a Guardian. She guards the Urkan Tapa to this day.....but that is only a rumor."
"A rumor with a ring of truth, I think.", Bahamut states, "What better way to ensure that a Brood does not threaten Myria than to train her as one of the Goddess's soldiers?"
Garr nods, his brow furrowed in thought.
"It has merit. It may be worth investigating."
He turns to the others.
"I think it is time we should return to the Tapa. The Patriarch may have the answers we seek."
He turns, walking out.
The others follow, leaving Ryu and Bahamut alone in the library.
The dragon king sighs, sitting down next to his son.
"This must be a shock.", he says, "Finding all this out."
"I don't think 'a shock' begins to cover it.", Ryu responds, running his hands through his hair.
"It was what you wanted to know. Why the Brood war happened. What happened to the rest of the dragon-clan. What Myria was. I have been to Caer Xhan. I know about the origin of the Clans.", Bahamut says, "It was good leverage to use when the War finally ended."
Ryu turns to him.
"What do you mean?"
"I told Myria what I knew.", Bahamut responds, smiling slightly, "In return for not announcing to everyone just what I did know, she agreed to end the war. On my terms."
He waits, for a second, looking down.
"Deep below the earth is the ancient city of Dologandy. There, your grandfather, the elder of all the Dragons, is waiting. Many, many Brood wait there, guarding and keeping watch on Evarai. I will return there, soon. That is where I have been, for two centuries."
"How long was I in the Dauna mines?", Ryu asks.
"About half a century. Your mother wouldn't give up either your or Teepo to the Goddess. She hid you amongst the chrysm, so you wouldn't be found until you had hatched and matured. When you were awoken early, I took you from the Angel Tower, and nurtured you until you are as you are now."
"It was you!", Ryu responds, realizing something, "You were the one who snatched me!"
"It was. You still couldn't control your powers. Not entirely. You were a danger to yourself and your loved ones. I took you in, Myria took Teepo in."
Ryu shakes his head.
"Why couldn't it have been me...."
"You would have suffered the same fate."
"Was he brainwashed?"
Bahamut shakes his head.
"I know Myria. I know her well. She would do no such thing.", he responds, standing up, "He led a good life, a misguided one, but a good one nonetheless. But that is the past. I am sorry, but this must take precedence. We will have time in the future, but if Evarai emerges from the Infinity, we will have no time at all."
"I understand.", Ryu says, standing up, shaking his head, slightly, "I'll see you in Dologandy."
"That you will, my son.", Bahamut says, putting a hand on Ryu's shoulder, "Now go. They're waiting for you."
Ryu walks out, quickly.
Bahamut looks around the library, and then looks towards the sky.
"He's a good boy, Sarah.", he says, to no one in particular, "He'll do it. He'll be the One, just yet."
With that, he slowly walks out.
Nina simply watches Ryu, sitting at the tactical console, stonefaced, as the flyer speeds towards the Urkan region.
He hasn't said anything for the entire trip. She knows he has a good reason. Is she had learned she had killed her own sibling, in self defense......
She walks over to him, placing a hand on his shoulder.
He reaches over with his hand, squeezing it, barely cracking a smile.
With heavy footsteps, Garr walks over.
"We're almost there.", he states, "I don't know what condition the Tapa will be in. Maybe they will be affected by Myria's departure, maybe they won't. We will simply have to be prepared."
The Patriarch of the Urkan Tapa looks up from his meditation, as a faint glow enters his sanctuary.
A young, beautiful, blonde haired woman, her eyes alight with power, he form glowing with faint gold energy, is floating in the air in front of him.
He instantly realizes who she is.
"Great Goddess," he whispers, "You have come-"
"My time on this world grows short, Patriarch.", Myria says, her voice echoing through the room, "I must leave soon. You have served me with the utmost distinction through the years, and so, I have chosen to tell you of my departure. But before I leave, you must give the Guardian Garr this gift......And tell him to meet with me again, at Gate."
A small gemstone appears in the hand of the Goddess, which she places on the Patriach's palm.
With barely a whisper, the Goddess Myria fades into a ball of energy, and flies away, towards the south.
Garr, and Ryu climb the steps to the Patriarch's sanctuary.
"They apparently do not know. Not yet.", Garr says, "I wonder what they would think when they learn we have driven away God."
"Remind me not to come back here too often.", Ryu dryly responds.
Garr walks to the boulder sealing the Patriarch off from the rest of the world. With an effortless push, he slides it out of the way.
The Patriarch sits, holding a gemstone in his hand.
"Guardian Garr," he says, "I have been expecting you."
He looks over to the gargoyle's companion.
"Prince Asmadi, as well. Come in.", he says, slowly walking to the Guardian.
He places the gem in Garr's hand, and then looks up to the surprised warrior.
"She has appeared. She says her time on this world is short, and that you must meet with Her at Gate.", he says, walking back to his perch, "Garr, something troubles you. Tell me what it is."
"I must know," Garr says, shaking off the tremor of nervousness he feels, "Are the rumors true? Of the Last Guardian?"
A long silence ensues.
Garr looks up to the Patriarch.
"I must meet with her. Only she can help me avert a catastrophe of the greatest magnitude."
"Then she is Brood. Like the Prince."
Ryu looks up.
"I knew the day you first came here with Garr.", the old man says, "Myria herself would not have you harmed. You are the One she spoke of. As are you, Garr, and as is the Platinum Dragon. Now, go. I will tell her where you are."
The Guardian and his companion walk out, the light dimming as the boulder slides back into place.
Fifteen minutes pass.
He can sense the secret entrance in the side of the room opening, small footsteps entering, followed by the familiar sound of a Guardian's spear laying against the ground.
"It is time, child.", he says, "I will tell you what to do....."
Kaylenn swings his pike at the air, effortlessly moving through one of his weapon katas, Momo watching from the entrance ramp of the flyer.
From the nearly-serene expression on the valerian's face, the intricate moves seem effortless, if not for the straining muscles showing through his tunic and overcoat.
With a single motion, seemingly part of the kata, he closes the pike, attaching it to his belt.
He turns, hand straying to the belt, spotting Momo.
"I do not appreciate being spied on.", he states, obviously not pleased.
"Sorry. Didn't want to disturb your exercises.", she responds.
"Of course. What do you need?"
"I wanted to apologize, for Dragnier.", she says.
He turns to her.
"For stripping apart apart one of my engines, and then ordering your pet robot to attack me?"
"To put it bluntly, yes.", she responds, folding her arms, "I was wrong, and I shouldn't have done that."
A moment of silence passes.
"Yes.", Kaylenn finally says, "You were."
He extends his pike, again, and starts a different kata.
She tries to retort, but he is, quite evidently, not listening.
She mutters, something under her breath, storming back into the flyer.
She passes right by Nina, who's sitting at the navigational console and trying to decipher the controls.
"What happened?", Nina asks.
Momo turns to her, fuming.
"That.....that.......", she growls, "That little....ah! I don't know where he gets off, acting like that!"
"What did he say? You did apologize, didn't you?"
"'Yes. You were.'", Momo recites, "That's what he said!"
Nina waits, for a moment, watching Momo pace.
"He's right, you know.", Nina finally observes.
"Don't take his side!"
"I'm not!", Nina defends, "But he was. You were wrong. At least he doesn't hold a grudge against you."
Momo sighs, slumping down into a chair across from Nina.
"He is the single most infuriating man I've ever met.", she says.
"More than Rei?"
"Far more than Rei.", Momo responds.
Nina taps the panel, for a few seconds, thinking.
"You like him.", she observes.
Momo gives her a withering look.
"He's so much different from you, treats these wonderful machines like they were a part of his everyday life, and he's so alien, he's a complete mystery. He's the perfect man for you.", Nina responds, "Want to see him dumbfounded? March out there, tell him what you think. I guarantee he will not have a comeback."
Momo gets up, pacing, coming to the exact same conclusion as Nina.
She's about to ask a question, when Nina puts a finger up.
"I'm a princess. I've been trained to know."
Momo turns, and marches out.
A figure watches from the shadows, as the young valerian completes his third kata.
A red haired woman storms out of the flyer, over to the valerian.
With a low, gutteral growl, the figure moves away.
Kaylenn groans under his breath, turning to Momo.
"What do you want, now?", he asks, trying his best to keep serene.
Momo taps her foot, trying to find the words.
"I know why we're not getting along.", she states.
"I'm attracted to you.", she responds.
He wonders why he hasn't taken his pike, and.......
"Is that it?", he asks.
"What do you mean?"
"I expected something a little more technical.", he states.
He turns his back to her, reaching for his pike to begin another kata.
She grabs his shoulder, turning him around.
With a quick motion of his arm, he bats her hand away, grabbing it.
He holds a finger up towards her face, his face one of quiet anger.
"Do not touch me.", he says, barely a whisper, "We may look like you. We may sometimes sound like you. But we are not you. Never forget that."
"You are a creep.", she says.
"I am a Ranger, and an'la'shok.", he says, "I gave up my family, my clan, and my caste, so I could serve the greater good. I gave up my entire identity, my entire life so I could do something that could change the world. If I had even known this was a part of it, I would have lived my life out as a priest!"
"Don't talk to me like that.", she responds, her anger barely contained, "Have you every hijacked the Black Ship? Have you ever faced down a dragon twice as tall as your flyer? Have you ever stood up against God? Don't ever talk to me about changing the world. I have. It's not easy, and it's not as glorious as you'd think, so until you do that, don't talk to me like that."
She pulls back her hand, turning back to the ship.
"I'm sorry.", he says.
She turns to him.
"I didn't mean to insult you.", he says, "I understand what you must have gone through. I apologize for my rashness."
She actually cracks a smile.
Suddenly, she grabs him by the shoulders, pulling him in and kissing him.
The shadowy figure watches.
He growls, lowly, and speeds away.
Kaylenn pushes away, his face aghast.
"What's wrong?", she demands.
"This....this is not right.", he says, backing away.
"What's not right?"
He stumbles in his step, backing away from her.
"Please.....I need to be alone.", he says, waving her away as he walks away.
Sighing to herself, she walks back to the flyer....and, not minding her step, bumps right into a gaping, bewildered Ryu.
"Ryu, what did you......", she says, her face sagging when she realizes he saw everything.
"Um....hello, Momo.", he responds, "Say, did you see something pass by?"
"Funny. I thought I saw a tiger, or something.", he says, and clears his throat, "If you don't mind, could you get Nina? I'll get Kaylenn. Garr's waiting for us, and....every- thing's ready."
"Yup.", he says, turning to the direction his Ranger comrade went, "Yeah. See you in a bit."
She nods, shakily, and walks back into the flyer.
Ryu lets off a relieved breath.
"Stranger every day...", he mutters, and begins walking.
The Last Guardian
The fire sparks back to life as Garr tosses some more kindling onto it.
He sits in front of the fire, in an open field, the corners of the area marked with stone statues.
Ryu walks out from the tent, sitting down across from the Guardian.
"Are you sure this is the place?", he asks.
"It is the training ground of the Guardians. All guardians learn all they will need to know to combat the darkness from this place. If she is trained as I am, she will know to meet me here."
He tosses another handful of branches onto the fire, when his eyes glow blue.
He looks around, quickly rising to his feet as the sun breaks the horizon to the East.
A blurr catches Ryu's feet, sending him sprawling onto his back with a surprised cry.
Garr turns to Ryu, as the others quickly exit the tent.
He silently twirls his spear, carefully assessing his surroundings.
Another blurr slashes him across the arm, drawing no blood, but cutting deeply.
He recognizes the technique, one passed down the ages.
One his father and mentor taught him.
He clears his mind, both hands gripping the spear.
With a gutteral growl, letting his instincts guide him, he swings......the spear locking with the spear of the attacker, a young, blonde-haired girl in the garb of a Guardian.
The two lock eyes for a moment, before she rears back and swings again, Garr effortlessly blocking but impressed at her skill.
With a twirl of the spear, he bats her's away, stepping back and holding his at ready, as does she.
"Greetings.", Garr says.
"You've been expecting me, Guardian Garr.", she responds, "I wanted to make sure you were who you say you are."
"I am Grau'tix's son and student, yes. Only the ones he would train would know of the Jie'do'quan. I never knew a human could master it so easily."
"It takes practice, Garr.", she says, and bows, "I am Mari Hershing, Grau'tix's last student and Guardian of the Urkan Tapa."
"And I am Garr, Last of the Dragon Slayers, and one who is need of your aid."
".......So, you say the Death Evans is to awaken soon.", Mari says, the group gathered around the ashes of the fire, "What can I do to help you?"
"We have been sent by one of the only survivors of the Great War to find you.", Garr responds, "Your powers are essential to stopping this threat."
"But since you are more experienced as a Guardian, wouldn't you be the better choice?", she asks, obviously perplexed.
Garr says nothing, confused.
Ryu taps him on the shoulder, pulling him away, out of her hearing range.
"This makes no sense.", Garr whispers, "Why doesn't she know she's Kaiser?"
"Maybe she hasn't been awakened, yet.", Ryu responds.
"How were you awakened?"
"Either Balio or Sunder stabbed me in the back. I'm guessing my powers kicked in as a self-defense mechanism.", Ryu responds, pacing, "And, since she's pretty well trained...."
"She hasn't yet suffered a mortal wound.", Garr responds, "What do you suggest we do?"
"Leave it to me.", Ryu responds, drawing his sword and holding it by his side as he walks over to Mari.
"Hello," he says, "I'm Ryu Asmadi, Prince of the Brood, and I banished the Goddess Myria."
Ryu swears, loudly, just dodging the spear aimed right at his head.
Mari's officially shifted into 'Bloodlust' mode, one Ryu is familiar with from the time he's spent with Garr.
She gives off a cry as she brings her spear down onto his sword, forcing him down onto the ground and about to impale him.
He's guessing the ascension/resurrection trick only works once.
He jams his foot into her gut, flipping her over him and onto her back as he scurries to his feet, Mari effortlessly flipping back up and landing her heel in his face.
The butt of her spear sweeps him off of his feet, still holding onto his sword, as she flips her spear in her hand, bringing it down to impale him.
Seeing the split second he needs, he thrusts upwards, the sword effortlessly passing through cloth, flesh, and bone, right through her heart and out her back.
He pulls it out, the wide-eyed and astonished Mari collapsing to the ground, the sand staining red.
Garr helps him back to his feet, as a deathly silence fills the area.
"Did we do it correctly?", the Guardian asks.
"I hope so.", Ryu responds, limping back to the others, noting that she hit his leg harder than he thought, "We'll have to explain this."
"If it works."
"Yeah, yeah, I know-"
Ryu and Garr turn to the prone Mari, who's starting to twitch.
"It worked.", Garr says.
Ryu nods, grinning slightly.
"It's louder than it should be.", Ryu says.
"I agree.", Garr states, "Ryu, how old we you when you ascended?"
"Five. Maybe six, physically."
"She's at least eighteen years old, physically.", Garr says, the two coming to a sudden realization.
"She's ascending directly as a Kaiser!", Ryu announces.
"EVERYONE, GET BEHIND ME!!", Garr bellows.
It could be seen from orbit.
A bright, brilliant flash of light at the center of the Urkan plains, home of the Guardians.
A shockwave that panned out, shattering the walls of the cliffs surrounding the training grounds of the Guardians.
Throughout of the world, everyone heard it.
A cry of pain, of sheer, indescribable agony.......that would turn into an earth-shaking roar of Ascension.
Garr turns back to where Mari was, his wings blackened from flame and soot thrown up by the shockwave, the others unharmed.
He shakes out his wings with a shrug of his shoulder, his mouth opened in awe, Ryu the first one stepping out from behind him.
Before them is a twenty foot tall, blue and silver scaled dragon, her massive feathered wings folded behind her, hunched over her clawed feet, looking down from her green and violet eyes down onto her taloned hands.
She rears her head back, and roars.
A heart-wrenching roar, the same he gave off when he first discovered what he was.
His arms open, his sword on the ground, he walks to her, slowly.
"I'm the same as you.", he says, "I'm Brood, as well. A dragon. This is my natural form, the form you're usually in is your natural form, as well. What you are now is simply a manifestation of your abilities. The abilities Garr mentioned."
Her mouth is contorted in anger.
"Let me show you.", he says, closing his eyes.
With a blinding flash of light and a roar of pure power, he changes into a red-and-gold scaled Kaiser dragon.
A moment of silence passes, the Dragon-Ryu extending his hand to the Dragon-Mari.
With a weak cry, her wings fold back into her shoulders, her talons and claws reverting to nails, her entire form shrinking until she's once again her human self...and she promptly collapses to the ground.
With the same motions, Ryu returns to his human form, kneeling down beside her and checking her pulse.
"The first transformation into a Brood is not an easy one.", he explains, "In time, you get used to it."
He picks up her unconscious form in his arms, heading back towards the Tapa.
"Let's bring her to the flyer.", he says, "We're going to need some time to sort this all out."
Kaylenn sits alone, in the still-charred plains of the Training Field, cross legged, meditating.
He hasn't spoken with Momo all day, hasn't told her why.
Valerians look down upon mating with one from another Clan. Such a taboo would prevent any relationship between them from working....no matter how much they would want it to.
And, Valen help him, he thinks he might just want it to.
He shakes his head, trying to clear his mind.
Such thoughts are not of consequence to a Ranger. Only serving the greater good.
'I live for the One, I die for the One-'
He hears a slow, gutteral growl.
He feels the hot breath of the animal near him.
He slowly opens his eyes, locking with those of the cat.
Standing before him is a seven foot tall Weretiger.
Leaping up, thrusting his foot into the beast's jaw, he extends his fighting pike, falling back into ready stance.
The tiger spits out blood, swearing.
"You can talk?", Kaylenn demands.
"I can do more than that, Bonehead.", the tiger growls, "Hope you got yer medical insurance handy. I'm about to tear you a new piehole."
Nina looks up from the navigation panel as the door to the cockpit opens, Ryu walking through.
"How is she?", she asks.
"Still confused. Wishing it was all a fever dream.", Ryu responds, sitting down, "Garr's still with her, and he's a lot better at this than me."
He sits down in the chair next to her, sighing.
"Where's Momo?", he asks.
"She went for a walk. She wanted some fresh air."
"That isn't the Momo I know."
Nina sighs, tapping her fingers.
"She's in love with Kaylenn.", she finally confesses.
Ryu sits there, for a moment.
"I know. I watched them."
Nina turns to him, slowly.
"They kissed, then he went off by himself.", Ryu responds, "I went to get him, when Momo came to get you to wait with me and Garr for Mari. You see, valerians have a slight problem about interclan relationships."
"What is it?"
"There aren't any."
A moment of silence passes between them.
"Oooohhhh dear.", she says, pressing the palm of her hand against her forehead, "I don't believe I let that happen."
"Nothing we can do now, anyways.", he says, leaning against the bulkhead.
She turns to him.
"So, what's wrong?"
He looks up.
"What do you mean?"
"Something's wrong. I can tell."
He grins, slightly.
"When'd you become telepathic?", he asks.
"When we became engaged. Talk."
He sighs, deeply, trying to phrase his thoughts.
"It's Mari.", he says, "It's her eyes. She's Asmadi, just like me."
"How?", Nina asks, "Is she your sister?"
"I don't know. She could be my sister, my cousin, my aunt....Who knows? Those are the same eyes I saw on myself, and on my father. All I know is, she's from the same gene pool as me."
He leans back, rubbing his eyes from the fatigue.
"That tops my day.", she says, with a small chuckle.
Kaylenn dodges the beast as it lunges at him, the tiger's speed belaying his massive form.
He swings his pike into his gut, cracking bone and bruising the monster, sweeping out his legs from behind and sending him sprawling to the floor.
"So, ya like playing with toys?", the monster growls, "I've got a few of my own!"
With a haze of light, the beast transforms.
When he again stands, he's Kaylenn's height, a tiger-man dressed in leather slacks and vest, with a knife in each hand.
"Who are you?", Kaylenn demands, pike at ready.
"Name's Rei of the Woren Clan.", he responds, holding his knives near his face, "You want to make this easy, or should I make sure my knives are extra dull when I cut yer balls off?"
"What is your complaint with me?", Kaylenn demands.
"No one," Rei growls, twirling the dagger in his right hand, "And I mean, no one, treats her like that, and doesn't pay for it, and pay big time. Hope you're not too attached to your hand. Which one was it you grabbed her wrist with? The right or left?"
"I have no idea what you are talking about," Kaylenn says, "But if you insist upon this, I will have no choice but to defend myself."
"Good. That makes this interesting!"
He leaps at the valerian, daggers positioned to impale.
Kaylenn thrusts out his pike as the Woren is in mid-leap, the pike jamming against his abdomen, Kaylenn swinging it back as he tosses Rei across the field.
Rei rolls as he hits the ground, leaping back up and turning to Kaylenn.
"You're good.", he snarls.
"I am a Ranger.", Kaylenn, exasperated, responds, "I stand between the darkness and the light. Between the candle and the star. I walk in the dark places no others may enter! I stand on the bridge that no one may pass! I live for the One! I die for the One!"
And with that, the two warriors charge each other.
The spectre watches as Deis hefts up her staff, the gem on top of it glowing brightly.
She tightens the belt on her armor/dress, surprisingly in her human form, and not that of a naga.
"Are you positive this is what must be done?", the spectre asks.
"I faced down Evarai with Kale Sabbaeth. I'll do the same with Ryu Asmadi.", she responds, "They'll need my experience."
"Should you not be as a naga? You have said you do not have your powers as a human. Should you not assume your true form?"
"Three things:", she responds, with a slight smirk, "First, I'll blend in like this. Second, I lied. Third, this is my true form. That of a God-Clan."
She begins to glow, brightly.
"I'll see you, again, sometime. Until then.......fare well....."
Two guildsman soldiers stand outside the entrance to the Mt. Zublo temple.
A spark of light flashes from inside.
They turn to the entrance, peaking in.............
......When a burst of energy flails out, forming into a ball, which then flies away.
The two soldiers look at each other, then back to the sky, and then to each other again.
One of them takes out a flask, tossing it away.
"I quit!", he declares, and gets back to guard duty.
Momo paces on a cliff near the flyer.
She said she needed some fresh air, but the air here is anything but, considering the area's just gone through the equivalent of a sandblasting.
She, for one of the first time in her life, has absolutely no idea what to do.
She can't deny the fact that she is attracted to a man who is completely alien, mysterious, an exact opposite to her in every way that there is no possible reason they should ever have a working relationship.
Then again, they said the same thing about a former thief and dragon warrior with the princess of one of the largest nations known.
She sighs, sitting down, adjusting a small scope she found at Caer Xhan.
She looks through it, panning around the area......and sees Rei slashing at Kaylenn.
The knife slices right across his cheek, drawing blood from the valerian.
He says nothing, as Rei backs away.
"First blood.", Kaylenn states.
"Got that right.", Rei growls, slicing upwards.
Kaylenn brings down his staff, knocking the knife out of the woren's hand and cracking bone, making him scream in pain as he thrusts the staff up to his stomach, knocking the wind out of him and making him double over.
He brings the staff around to the woren's head, resting it an inch above his face.
"Stand down.", Kaylenn demands.
Rei brings his remaining dagger across Kaylenn's hand, making him drop the staff, Rei scrambling up and slicing upwards.
Kaylenn blocks the blow with his hand, swiftly and effortlessly locking his hands around Rei's and flipping him onto his back, Rei holding onto the arms and tossing Kaylenn to the ground.
They both climb to their feet, staring across from each other.
"You are insane.", Kaylenn states.
"Old man Bunyan said I had a lot of repressed anger.", Rei responds, grinning.
"I'm not repressed anymore."
With a yell, he leaps at Kaylenn, sending them both to the ground.
Momo runs into the flyer, her footfalls catching the attention of Ryu and Nina.
They quickly hurry over to the scholar, who's more anxious than they've ever seen her.
"Quickly!", she pants, catching her breath, "We've got a problem!"
"What is it?", Nina asks, helping her to a chair.
"Rei....", Momo responds, slowing her breathing, "Rei's here."
Ryu looks from Momo to Nina, and back to Momo.
"Rei? Where? When? Why's he here?"
Momo takes a deep breath, steadying herself.
"He...", she starts, "He's attacking Kaylenn."
Ryu stands there, for a moment, dumbfounded.
"Right by where we met Mari. They've been fighting for a while now. I don't know why, but Rei's angry at Kaylenn. Very angry.", Momo responds.
Ryu turns to Nina. She gives him a knowing look.
"It's true.", Nina responds.
Momo looks between the two.
Ryu sighs, shrugging off his overcoat as he walks down the ramp.
"Let me.", he says.
Nina sighs, sitting down next to Momo.
"What is he-", Momo starts, when the ground shakes.
"Oh.", she responds.
Rei and Kaylenn leap at each other, rage and bloodlust in their eyes, ready to kill the other with his bare hands........
..When a pair of scaled hands grab them, pinning them to the ground and away from each other.
A fifteen foot dragon is the owner of the hands, his eyes burning with a mix of anger and exasperation.
"That's ENOUGH, you two!", he bellows.
The dragon changes back to Ryu, holding out his sword between them, a sign that the fighting is over.
The two combatants slowly climb to their feet, Kaylenn covered in lacerations and bruises, Rei's hand broken and some dents around his ribs apparent.
"What the hell is going on?", Ryu demands, planting the sword into the ground.
Neither one looks like he's about to talk, Ryu sighing to himself as he sheathes the sword.
He turns back to the flyer.
"Follow me. We'll get you two patched up, and work things out from there.", he says, as the two limp behind him.
The door to the cockpit opens, Garr walking out, his wings folded around him like a cloak, his face heavy and tired.
He ignores the astonished look from Rei, walking over to Ryu.
"She will be ready to travel tomorrow.", he says, "Until then, we will need to rest. I will be outside if you need me."
He silently walks out of the flyer, billowing out his wings and taking off.
Rei turns to Ryu, still holding his broken hand.
"Isn't....isn't he supposed to be dead?", he asks.
"Yeah. We get that alot.", Ryu responds, pressing an indentation on the wall and opening up the first-aid cabinet.
Kaylenn looks between the two, using his pike as a cane.
"I will tend to myself, and retire to my quarters to meditate.", he says, matter of factly, taking a small box from the cabinet, "I would appreciate it if we could have some answers from your erstwhile friend before we leave. Good day."
He limps out, the sounds of his pike scraping against the floor echoing as the door closes.
Ryu turns back to Rei, running a device over his hand.
"What's the problem with the bonehead?", Rei asks, as Ryu takes a roll of gauze wrap and a small, humming device.
"I don't know, Rei.", Ryu responds, "Maybe someone trying to kill him pissed him off."
He runs the device over Rei's hand, wrapping it in the gauze, Rei taking his hand back and flexing it, impressed.
"What were you doing, Rei?", Ryu demands, sitting down in the pilot's seat.
"When'd you start giving out orders, buddy?", Rei responds, harshly, "It was personal. I don't need to explain it to you."
"Considering you never met Kaylenn....hell, I never met Kaylenn until a few days ago, you know I can't accept 'It's personal.' Now, talk."
"And if I don't?"
"If you don't," Ryu responds, "I'm turning you over to Kaylenn for pike practice. Now, he's normally a peaceful guy, but I wouldn't take any chances, if I were you."
A moment of silence passes between them.
"I just finished my walkabout.", Rei says, "It was weird, I can tell you that much."
"What did you learn?"
"I don't go beserk when I become the Weretiger, anymore. I can control myself as that just as easily as I am now.", he says, and smiles, toothily, "It's.....exhilirating. I think I know what it must be like to be a dragon."
"It's more than that, Rei. I have this power, and I also have the responsibility.", Ryu responds, the words from his mother still fresh in his mind, "....You're still in love with Momo, aren't you?"
Rei snaps back to attention.
"I'm not that dense, Rei. I know what you thought about her, during the end. You knew it would never work out, didn't you?"
Rei sighs, sitting back.
"Yeah. Yeah, I did.", he responds, "It wasn't easy, I'll tell ya that."
"And...well, I've been travelin', and arrived at the Urka right around when you did.", Rei responds, "When I saw Momo and Kaylenn, well......"
Ryu nods, slowly.
"I always figured you as overprotective.", he says, "Now what do we do?"
"Where're you going from here?"
"Ask Garr. I don't have a clue.", Ryu responds.
Rei taps his fingers on the chair's arm.
"What are you doing around here, anyway? What's happened?"
Ryu sighs, clasping his hands together.
"Where to begin...", he starts, "Well, I've met my father, saw Dragnier rebuilt, learned Teepo was my brother, learned my mother was from the same clan as Myria, found out there's a demon with a god-complex and the power to back it, and learned my life's been cast in stone for thousands of years."
He looks up, at the stone-faced Rei.
"Want the long version?"
A small island on the other side of the world.
Two dark-dragon clansmen, massive, ornate spears in hands, stand guard in front of an elaborate temple.
A dark figure approaches them.
Ebon hair, dressed in black cloaks and clothing, one eye green, the other red.
The two clansmen point their spears at the arrival.
"Halt!", one of them yells, "Who are you?"
The man smiles, sadistically.
"You should know.", he says, "I'm the one you guard against."
"What gibberish are you speaking?", the other guard growls.
"Me?", the man asks, "I'm that little eventuality. The one who always tries, and sometimes succeeds, in killing your Destined Child. Call me what you will....Jade's hand, the Prophet of the Evarai, the God Mikba prayed to, the creator of the Horsemen....."
The very air around him crackles with energy, a pillar of blinding light surrounding the man.
When the light clears, the Demon stands in his place.
"I prefer Barubary.", it growls.
The two dragon-clansmen throw out their arms, their bodies twisting and stretching as they change into twenty foot tall , horned and hook-beaked Black Dragons.
"Black Dragons? So, this place is important to them. Go ahead. Take your best shots."
The dragons roar, projecting bursts of blue flame at Barubary.
The demon simply laughs off their onslaught, effortlessly striving forward against the efforts of the two stalewarts.
With a swipe of his claws, the ebon being impales one of the dragons, the warrior reduced to ash as he dies.
Barubary laughs, his eyes glowing as he roars, letting loose a jet of green flame, burning the second dark dragon to a crisp.
He chuckles, breaking into an all out laugh, most obviously pleased with himself.
"This is what they send to guard this place? I expected better from the Brood!"
With a motion of his claws, he tears open the gate to the temple, walking in.
The dying screams of dragons fill the air, followed by the laughter of the Demon.
With a flash of light, Deis appears in a forest outside of Gate.
"Myria?", she asks, "Myria, it's me. Your sister. Deis. You said you wanted to meet Garr, here, and I want to know why."
"Myria has not yet arrived, Goddes Deis.", a voice whispers, all around her.
She turns around, extending her senses, homing in on the source....and finds that the source is all around her.
The source is the forest itself.
"Who is it?", she demands, "Who are you? What are you?"
Vines begin moving from the trees, grass growing and meshing together with various plants. The vines wrap around the new form, giving it stability in its humanoid shape.
The shape becomes a plant-man, a pair of diamond eyes and a mouth forming on its face. One that Deis has seen, if only briefly, before.
Kaylenn sits, cross legged, in the middle of the small room he has set aside as his quarters.
The smell of incense fills the room, as he clears his mind, to meditate.
Which is why he swears, loudly, when someone knocks on the door.
He sighs, opening his eyes.
"You may enter.", he says.
The door opens, Momo walking in.
He glances towards her, and then back towards the corner he was staring at.
"We need to talk.", Momo states.
"No, we do not.", he responds, "Have they explained why this has no chance of working?"
"Nina did. If you ask me, the entire taboo is the most idiotic thing I've ever heard of.", she responds.
He stands, shrugging off his cloak as he puts out the incense candles.
"It is the only way.", he responds, turning to her, "For the past millenia, the population of valerians has been slowly declining. When we began our practice of not mating out other clans, our numbers stabilized, and have begun to rise. It is the only way our clan can survive."
"By cutting yourselves off from the world?", she asks, "Doesn't sound like much of a life to me."
"It is the one we know. Our culture has thrived for thousands of years, and will continue to do so.", he says, and folds his arms, "Have you not noticed that my people are far more advanced than those that interact freely with the other clans?"
"It could be other factors. Social sciences aren't my specialty, though. Technology is.", she responds.
"Then I could hypothesis you are simply using me to gain access to my ship?", he asks, raising an eyebrow specutively.
She laughs, something she hasn't done in a while.
"You could have a point.", she responds, sitting down, "You could."
He sits down across from her.
"But seriously," he starts, "What do you propose......."
Ryu climbs up the cliff, taking a moment to catch his breath.
It would have been easier to simply fly here....but he doesn't want to become too reliant on his powers. Everything has a price, and he doesn't want to think about what the price for his near-omnipotence is.
"Garr?", he yells.
It's been two hours since Garr left. He never leaves the group. Not for this long.
He sees a light nearby, running towards it....and stops.
It's a campfire. Garr is standing in it.
The gargoyle spots him, stepping out of the fire, still glowing red.
"What...what was that?", Ryu asks, dumbfounded.
"Myria empowered the Guardians to fight the Brood on their own terms.", Garr responds, "As such, she gave us the ability to use your power against you."
"So you absorb heat, and use it as strength.", Ryu finishes.
Garr nods, picking up the spear he left by the fire.
"Something's wrong, Garr.", Ryu says, "You never leave. Not for this long."
"No, I do not. I needed time to think.", Garr replies, absently rolling the small gemstone in his fingers.
He spreads out his wings, slightly, sliding the gem into his belt pouch.
"About what?", Ryu asks.
"Our destinies. I know where we must go."
Garr slowly points towards the south.
"A small, uninhabited town.", he responds, "A relic of the second destined cycle. Gate."
"What's there?", Ryu asks.
Garr spreads out his wings fully.
"Evarai.", he responds, flies away.
In Infinity, the residents are celebrating.
The Dark Mass has emerged from its shapeless prison.
The demons are praying towards the creature, as it begins to contract, taking form, the event they have prayed for for five hundred years happening right before their eyes.
The creature becomes solid, becoming a dome that takes up the entirety of the lowest level of Infinity.
With a pulse of dark light, the dome shatters.
A being rises from its remains.
He is a Man.
But a Man unlike any that has ever walked the planet.
His eyes burn with Hell-Fire.
His hair is disheveled, His beard wild and ragged.
His every word echoes through the very fibre of the cosmos itself.
The Goddess-Child itself.
He opens His arms, as the demons cheer.
He hears his name shouted by His servants.
And He smiles.
The blood of the Dark Dragons has made the floor of the temple slick, as Barubary, his human form covered in the vital fluids of the warriors, slowly walks up the last stairs.
Three people barr his way.
Two soldiers, already half-changed into a humanoid dragon, spears at ready, and a woman in the robes of a Ladonian Priestess.
"Damned One," she says, "This is a holy site. Your kind are not welcome here."
"I never asked for your permission, your Emminence.", Barubary responds, smiling sadistically.
With a collective roar, the two warriors transform into White Dragons.
The priestess closes her eyes, not even given out the slightest cry as a pair of metallic wings tear themselves from her back, her body stretching, her bones breaking into new joints.
Silently, serenely, her skin covers itself with platinum and silver scales, her face stratching to a snout, and horns piercing the back of her head.
She stares down at Barubary, who is less than a fifth her size.
"Leave Now.", she orders.
"A Platinum Dragon? This must be the place.", Barubary intones, "Nice trick, lady. How about mine?"
He throws out his arms, laughing, and with a flash of light, is the Demon.
"Our God gives me a bonus if I kill one of your rank.", he growls.
The white dragons charge him, Barubary laughing as he lashes out with green fire, the blast slicing their heads clean off.
"You're trying to soften me up with these amateurs? I expected better from a dragon priestess.", he mocks, his third eye still fuming.
The dragon growls, lunging at Barubary and knocking him back with a thundering blow.
"Murderer!", she cries, "This place shall not be desecrated by the likes of you!"
Barubary grins, backfisting the dragon, sending her reeling back, his claws extending, revealing sirrated edges with dried blood coating them.
With a motion of his wrist, he impales the dragon, making it roar, weakly.
With a faint light, they both revert to human, Barubary's hand where the claws had impaled her.
"Nice trick.", he says, that his prey is not even wounded, "Normally, I'd want the gained respect I'd get for killing a Brood of your power, but for now...."
He then tosses her down the stairs, hearing her hit the bottom with a sickening thud.
He ascends the steps, seeing the raised dais at the center of the platform.
"This is the place.", he says, "The omen of the return of the Gods....of our God."
He walks to the dais, seeing the arranged crystals and switches, the monitors and hologram projectors.
The control panel of a starship.
"Yes...", he whispers, waving his hand over the crystals, feeling the ground rumble as the engines roar, "Yes....this is.....The Obelisk!"
The ocean around the island recedes, out of anticipation and fear, as the shockwave from the engines ripples out.
The soil that has collected over the ages begins to shatter, as the island rises into the sky, finally falling off and descending into the sea.
Barubary smiles, widely, arms open to embrace the power at his command.
His goal is complete, he muses, as the Obelisk ends its ascent into the blue sky, He has become the Harbringer, the teller of his God's return.
He waves his hands over crystals, sliding his hands over the lighted displays, as his new chariot moves.
Towards his God.
And at the base of the stairs, bruised, battered, and broken, the priestess begins to stirr.
Movements of Light and Dark
Ryu slowly opens his eyes, accustoming them to the darkness.
He looks over, seeing Nina lying next to him, asleep, her arm loosely draped across his chest.
It may sound corny, but he's always told her he could, 'See his unborn children in her eyes.'
She's always claimed she could see everything she's ever wanted in his.
He sighs, lying back.
Slowly, gently, he pries off her hand from his arm, silently sliding her arm off of him, slowly sitting up and putting a robe on, and tip-toes out of the quarters Kaylenn had set aside for them.
He walks into the bridge, about to step off the ramp for some air.
He sees someone sitting in the pilot's chair.
Mari, eyes bloodshot, hair disheveled, still shaking.
Partly out of terror, partly out of rage.
She slowly turns to him, her eyes locking with his.
"You should be resting.", he says.
She says nothing, turning away from him.
"Look, I don't like this any more than you do.", he says, "But there's nothing we can do about it. Nothing I can do about it...I know what you're going through."
Before he can even blink, he's up against the wall, the blade of her spear at his throat, her eyes red with rage.
"No, you don't!", she yells, "Don't even dare say that!"
He can feel the honed edge of the spear pressing against his skin.
Feels the rage that she's weilding.
"I do.", he says, calmly, "I've had to live with this since I was six years old. I gained this power when a horseman stabbed me in the back. I couldn't control my power until I was taken in by the other Brood."
"Impossible. The other Brood are dead....", she responds, looking away, confused.
He uses the moment to snatch away the spear, tossing it away.
"They've been hiding.", he responds, grabbing her arms and forcing her to face him, "Now that Myria's left, they've started to come out, again. I've met depowered Brood in Dragnier, saw Brood who were taken in by Myria so they couldn't threaten the world, and Ladon knows how many are in Dologandy. But I know they can teach you how to control your power, just like they did with me."
"I don't want this power.", she responds, "I am a Guardian. I am not Brood."
"Then act it!", he growls, "Garr mentored me in your ways. I know you're supposed to defend this world against any threats. You have the power, now use it like a Guardian would. This entire world is threatened, so if you have the power of the Brood on your side, you use it! Do you understand me?"
"I...I do.", she responds, looking down.
He smiles, ever so slightly.
"There's someone I'll introduce you to.", he says, "Someone who can teach you about the Brood."
"His name is Bahamut. Bahamut Asmadi.", Ryu responds, "He's the leader of the Brood. My father.....and maybe yours, to."
The next morning.
Garr waits in the cockpit, as Kaylenn walks through the door.
"Guardian.", he says, "Are we ready to leave?"
"At your convience, Ranger.", Garr responds, "You know where we must go?"
"Ryu has told me."
Ryu and Nina walk into the cockpit, as Kaylenn takes the pilot's seat.
"We will be departing shortly.", Garr says, "Are you ready?"
"As we'll ever be.", Nina states, firmly gripping Ryu's hand.
The room is filled with a distant humm as the generator comes to full power, the floor shaking slightly as the engines begin to ignite.
Mari walks through the door, spear in hand, and walks to Garr.
The lock eyes for a moment, Garr smiling ever so slightly.
"Are you ready, Guardian Mari?"
"I am, Guardian Garr.", she responds, grinning, "This is the moment we were born for."
Garr turns to Kaylenn, as the flyer begins to lift off.
"Ranger Kaylenn," he says, "Set a course for Gate."
With a roar of its engines, the flyer comes about, pointing towards the south.
The engines flash, brightly, leaving behind a shockwave as it accelerates past Mach 1.
Arcadies Valerith, a young, red haired Brood, walks out of his quarters, and freezes.
He looks to his side, seeing the other Brood in the city, with similar expressions of shock.
The only one who is not is Lord Bahamut.
Demons are flying past the city, streaking up from Infinity, towards the surface world.
Arcadies and the other Brood gather around Bahamut, who has already picked up a sword laying by one of the statues of Ladon.
"Lord Bahamut," Arcadies says, "Can....can the demons escape?"
The dragon king hesitates for only a second, and nods.
"Yes. Yes, they can."
"But the seal-"
"The seal is only to stop Evarai. The other demons, it was believed, would never stray from their master. We were wrong.", Bahamut responds.
"What does this mean?", a young Brood asks.
"It means that Barubary has accomplished what we feared. He has revived the Obelisk. He will tear open doorways for the demons, and set them loose upon the world.", Bahamut responds, "Unless the One can stop them."
He walks to the exit to the surface world.
"Watch over Evarai.", he commands, "Inform me when he makes his move. And protect the Elder, at all costs."
"Where are you going, Lord Bahamut?", Arcadies asks.
Bahamut smiles, slightly, armor appearing on him out of thin air.
"I am going to help my son.", he responds, and walks through the door.
Ragnarok. Armaggedon. End of everything....
The words echo in the mind of the priestess as she slowly stirrs. Her body aches with the wounds Barubary inflicted upon her, her mind spinning as she comes back to consciousness.
She sees Barubary standing at the controls of the Obelisk, high above at the top of the stairs.
She can feel the ground beneath her shaking as the massive ship moves towards its destination.
She begins to slowly, silently, crawl up the stairs, concentrating on her task, and summoning her power.......
The flyer speeds over the ocean towards Gate, the peninsula coming into view.
Momo watches from the viewscreen, Honey giving off a awed chirp.
"ETA is seven minutes.", Kaylenn states, snapping Momo back to attention.
He effortlessly glides his hands over the throbbing crystals, a close up view of the mountain behind the town appearing.
Garr focuses his eyes on a small crack at the base, down past the ruins of a ship embedded into the mountain.
"There.", he says, pointing to the crack, "That is what we want. That is where we have to go."
"What is it?", Nina asks.
"The entrance to Infinity that we must use.", he responds, folding his wings about him, "The Seal that keeps Evarai from leaving His prison. It is a bit a two-edged sword."
"How so?", Ryu asks, standing up and walking over.
"To enter Infinity, we must break the seal.", Garr responds, "When we go down there, if we destroy Evarai, then it is all done with. If we die, Evarai would have been set free. It is all on our shoulders, now."
"Thy will be done.", Rei chimes in, "Thy kingdom come."
Everyone turns to the sitting woren.
"A phrase I picked up on walkabout.", he responds, shrugging, "So, it's all ours, now? Keep this up and I'll really be an egotist."
"That wouldn't be something new.", Momo mutters.
Kaylenn gives off the slightest grin, as he brings the flyer in for a landing.
Garr is the first off of the flyer, his snout towards the mountain as he senses a presence.
He remembers the patriarch's words.
Ryu steps out of the flyer, and is immediately surrounded by gold energy, which lances out into a single ray of light.
Garr turns to him, and then the path of the beam.
"The Eye of God.", Garr whispers, "She's here."
He then runs into the woods.
Ryu turns to his companions, and then to the direction Garr went, eyes wide with questions.
"Wait here!", he shouts, and sprints after the Guardian.
Garr effortlessly hurries through the forests, as if the plants are moving aside for him.
He turns, seeing Ryu running after him.
A set of conifers thrust up from the ground, cutting off Ryu.
Garr stops in his tracks, reaching out and tracing his hand along the trunk.
He can sense the life flowing through them. The power that he has encountered, on only one occasion before.
He turns, as a golden light descends into the middle of the clearing.
The light forms into a golden-haired woman.
Out of the shadows, Deis walks into the clearing, her eyes meeting Garr's, the questions evident.
Garr walks to the woman, and then falls to one knee, head low, averting his gaze from the light.
"Guardian Garr," Myria says, "Sister Deis.....I have been waiting, for you."
Ryu stops in his tracks as the trees rise up, blocking his way to Garr.
He quickly draws his sword, ready to cut down the obstacle in front of him.
A vine lashes out, grabbing the sword and pulling it from his hand.
The forest moves.
The grass grows, vines wrapping about it as it forms into a plant-man.
One who's face Ryu recognizes.
Peco smiles, ever so slightly.
"Hello, Ryu. I have been waiting."
The vine lets lets go of the sword, the grass rising and guiding it back into Ryu's hand.
Ryu, who's faced down gods and demons, who's been chosen as one of the key players in destiny, is impressed.
Downright awed, in fact.
The grass beneath Peco forms into a stool, as the plant man sits down, the trees above them stretching into a dome and providing shade from the noontime sun.
"You have questions.", Peco states.
"What are you doing here?", Ryu asks, "I....I thought you were still in the Desert."
"My body is. My consciousness is here."
"What are you?"
"I am the Yggdrasil. I have spent the year becoming the Yggdrasil, and all that it is."
"What does that mean?", Ryu asks, still in awe of his once diminutive companion.
Peco smiles, slightly, his diamond eyes glowing.
"I am one of the races of this world."
"How? You mean, you brought the plants and trees here?", Ryu stammers.
"No.", Peco says, standing, "I am the original inhabitants of this world. We welcomed your people. Allowed you your ways, for we knew that you could not harm us. Myria knows of what we are, and claimed a great part of our world as her own, to revive it. She failed, for she does not understand us. We have succeeded where she failed. This world is whole again. Ask Kaylenn. He knows. Those of technology and power know. All is as it should be, and will be, when you stop the demon god."
Ryu swallows his dry throat, as a vine stretches down, its leaves forming into a cup and evaporate filling it.
"I am every part of this world. I am everything that encompasses it.", Peco continues, "Now, more than Myria could ever claim to be, I am God."
Other Path of Valor
Garr kneels before his Goddess, not seeing the whithering look Deis is giving him.
Garr slowly comes to his feet, averting his gaze from the being he has worshipped.
"Great Goddess," he says, his voice a low whisper, "What is it you seek of me?"
"I wish to see you, one last time, before our tasks would come full circle.", she responds, "I knew from the day I made you what you are, Galen, that you were more than a Guardian. You are the One. You are the One who will avert the death of my world. Only you can stop the darkness that I created you to fight. It will arrive, soon. I will wait for you. You will know when our destinies will cross for the final time."
"What will happen?", Deis demands, "What are you saying, sister?"
Myria turns to Deis, smiling softly.
"You will also play a role in this. A role you have played so often.", she says, and turns back to Garr, "Face me, Guardian."
Garr slowly raises his head towards the Goddess, as the ground begins rumbling.
"My time on this world is short. I must leave, for the good of all.", she explains, "But I will aid you one final time. When it is time, and you know the place, call my Name. I will be there."
With that, she turns into a ball of light, and shoots off into the sky.
The light fades out.
Something has blocked out the sun.
The dome of trees part, as Peco looks out into the sky.
A ship has overshadowed all of Gate and the forest surrounding it.
"What is that?", Ryu asks.
Peco stops smiling.
Barubary waves his hands over the crystals.
The Obelisk shakes with power as gunports encompassing its sides open.
"Weapons targetted and charged. Fire when ready."
He waves his hand.
The Obelisk glows brightly as beams of violet light stream out and into the mountain.
Rock evaporates under the sheer force as the energy drills into the sides, the screams of the damned filling the air.
As the light dies down, a silence fills the world.
And then, the demons begin pouring through.
"Oh my God.", Ryu whispers, "Peco, everyone's still at the flyer!"
Peco's face screws in concentration.
The forest begins to move.
Momo is the first to spot them.
The hordes that are pouring from the mountain, darkening the very sky in their path.
The sounds of screams can be heard, coming right for them.
Kaylenn stands there, for a moment, before speaking.
"Everyone, back to the flyer!", he screams.
The demons begin flying towards the group, instantly identifying them as the companions of the Destined Child.
A tree thrusts up from the ground, impaling one of them, causing it to shatter with a scream as a group of vines rise up and begin strangling the hordes.
Kaylenn sprints to the pilot's chair, not waiting for the others to seat themselves before gliding his hands over the controls, and pressing a button on his right.
"Manual control.", he orders, as a pair of ball-and-socket handgrips fold out of the console.
"Everyone, strap yourselves in, we're taking off!", he announces, and pushes down on the controls.
The ship jolts, Rei yelping as he's thrown off his feet.
Ryu spots the flyer lifting off, speeding away into the distance.
Seven flying demons are after them, having slipped through Peco's trap.
"Peco!", he yells.
"They are out of my range.", the plant-man whispers.
The flyer banks, as a ball of fire sails past it, hitting the ocean and throwing up steam in its wake.
"They're chasing us!", Rei yells, climbing into a chair.
"Oh, really!", Momo shouts, from the navigation console, "You THINK?!"
She hangs onto the armrests as the flyer banks, sharply, bolts flying right past them, sweat forming on Kaylenn's brow as he sends the flyer into a dive.
The flyer skirts along the water, the demons chasing it, one of them splashing into the salt water and evaporating.
The flyer begins a climb, accelerating to greater speeds, the creatures still following them.
"Lose them!", Mari yells, steadily climbing to the tactical console.
"What do you think I'm doing?", Kaylenn responds, his voice neutral.
Mari looks over the console, as the flyer rumbles, another bolt just passing them.
"Where's the weapon control?", she demands, frantically looking over the crystals.
"There are none! This ship doesn't have weapons!", Momo responds.
Rei gives her a questioning look.
"How do you know-", he starts.
"This thing isn't ARMED?!", Nina demands, "Kaylenn, where are we going?"
"I have a plan!", the valerian responds, his voice edging along impatience.
The flyer speeds over a desert, cliff-faced island, the six demons in pursuit.
One of the demons is caught on a low-hanging cliff-face, shattering as it screams.
A bolt sails near them, smashing into a canyon and sending rocks tumbling down.
"That was a hit.", Rei yells, "We took a hit, we took a hit-"
"We're not hit!", Kaylenn roars, "We're not hit! Stop back-seat flying!"
The flyer speeds towards a narrow canyon, engines igniting as it picks up speed.
The passengers watch, wide-eyed, as Kaylenn urges the flyer to go faster.
"Left!", Rei yells.
"Right!", Mari screams.
"Stop!", Momo yells.
"Down!", Nina demands.
"Let me drive........", Kaylenn mutters, urging the right control down.
The flyer rolls to its right, effortlessly slipping through the canyon, three of the demons smashing into the sides and shattering, the remaining two speeding up their pursuit.
The flyer shoots out from the valley, towards the ocean, dodging and weaving to avoid the blasts.
"Go faster!", Momo yells, seeing the two red dots advancing closer to the flyer, "Go faster go faster go faster-"
"Hold on tight.....", Kaylenn yells, pushing the right control out.
Something begins peaking over the horizon.
Nina is the first to see it.
A dorsal fin.
The flyer's engines ignite in blue flame, accelerating to its maximum speed.
The demons gain on the ship, mouths lighting up to fire.
A beam of yellow light lances out, smashing into one of the demons and shattering it, a tri-winged fighter swooping down and destroying the other with a burst of green lightning.
The flyer climbs, flying by the side of a 300-meter long, 500-meter high, blue-skinned, triple finned floating warship.
It passes by the pair of aft, flowing spade-shaped engines as it decelerates, fighters flying past..
Momo stands up from her station, gazing in awe at the dozens of alike warships, each one appearing more organic than machine.
"Oh, wow.", she whispers.
"What are those?", Rei asks, trying to hide his wonder.
"Those," Kaylenn says, smiling, "Are Valerian Warships."
The right half of the viewport distorts, becoming the image of an older valerian.
"Alyt Hedronn.", Kaylenn says.
"Ranger Kaylenn.", the valerian responds, "Is your ship damaged?"
"No. We are in good condition. Is the fleet ready?"
"As you requested, Ranger. We depart at your order. Our destination?"
"Gate.", Kaylenn responds, and turns to his companions, "Rangers have a good deal of leeway with the valerian warfleet."
"The fleet is prepared to leave, Ranger.", Hedronn states, "We live for the One."
"We die for the One.", Kaylenn finishes, "Entil'zah Veni. In Valen's name. Proceed."
The flyer banks to its left, effortlessly turning about and around the fleet, pointing towards Gate as the massive force begins to move.
The demons continue to pour from their cells, unabated by the forest's ambush.
The Obelisk hangs like a black disk in the sky, training its weapons upon the forest itself, beams of violet light continuing to burn holes in the mountain.
A beam of yellow light shatters a demon, the stench of ozone filling the gloomy sky.
To the west, above the ocean, the Valerian Warfleet arrives.
The flyer leads the forces, speeding towards the Obelisk, the landscape below them a mere blurr.
Kaylenn sits, calmly, at the controls, banking and rolling the ship to avoid the blasts of purple light from the imposing target.
"It looks like we've got their attention!", Momo announces, from the navigation control, "Make your move!"
"Proceeding.", Kaylenn responds, seeing his passengers holding their breaths and hanging on for dear life, "Alyt Hedronn. I am....blindsiding the Obelisk. Train all weapons on it, and fire at it the moment I pass!"
He presses down on the controls, and begins a silent prayer.
Ryu looks up, spotting the flyer.
"What am I doing here?!", he demands, turning to Peco, "They need me, up there!"
"You are the One. You cannot be sacrificed. You are needed, here."
The flyer releases a shockwave as it accelerates to supersonic speeds, buzzing right past the Obelisk, the weapons training on the small transport.
Beams of yellow light flail from the warships, striking the energy shields of the Obelisk, and making them shimmer.
Barubary feels the ship shake as the valerians take advantage of his lapse.
He growls, waving his hand over the crystals, crosshairs appearing on each and every one of the warships.
"Nuisances.", he growls, and brings his hand back to the firing control.
He hears a low roar.
He turns, quickly, to stare into the face of a Platinum Dragon.
For the first time in many centuries, Barubary knows fear.
He also knows, he's screwed.
The dragon growls, backhanding Barubary with force enough to send him flying off the platform, screaming.
He hits the ground with a sickening thud, bouncing once and changing himself into the Demon.
The dragon extends her wings, lifting herself into the air.
"You stupid bitch!", Barubary growls, "If I can't get to the controls, they'll destroy this place!"
The dragon smiles.
"Good. Your dreams end here, Demon.", she responds, and slopes back her wings.
She slams into Barubary with all her might, sending them both smashing out the sides of the temple, towards the ground below.
The Valerian warfleet fires, beams of yellow force pounding the shields of the Obelisk.
The energy shields shatter, the beams slicing effortlessly into the metal underneath, flames spewing out of all sides as the Obelisk falters, slowly descending to the ground.
Hundreds of beams slice through the ancient ship, razing its hull, until, in a single bright, blinding burst of light and flame, the Obelisk is no more, its debris raining light hail into the ocean.
A crack in the mountain widens, Bahamut walking through, in his full battle armor and jewel sword in hand.
He walks forward, effortlessly slicing a demon in two, walking into the forest as the prey evaporates.
Garr walks through the forest, Deis straining her efforts to keep up with him, as he hurries towards a clearing.
"Where are we going?!", Deis demands, "The battle is up there!"
"There is one down here.", Garr responds, "I heard something fall."
"Don't you think they'd need our help?"
"You can aid them if you wish. I have business here to attend to.", Garr responds, and walks through a gate of trees.
Before them, bleeding green blood, parts of his shell cracked, trembling with rage, is Barubary.
The Demon spots the deity and the Guardian, his eyes lighting up with fire.
Garr summons his spear in a burst of flame.
Deis summons her staff, her body glowing with violet light.
"You two...", Barubary growls, "Why can't you just stay dead?!"
"You know our kind.", Deis responds, "Too stupid to lay down and quit. Surrender, Barubary, and we'll simply dump you back with your God."
Barubary laughs, the chilling sound making the very air retract.
With a chuckle, he roars, a burst of green fire lashing out and striking Deis, sending her to the ground, motionless.
Garr turns to the fallen goddess, but then hears the same chilling laugh.
"You're all alone, Garr. I beat you before. This time, I'll kill you."
Garr steels his gaze on his ancient enemy.
The darkness Myria created the Guardians to destroy.
He hefts up his spear in his right arm, advancing towards the Demon.
"Are you sure you're up for this, little Guardian?", Barubary demands, standing to his full height, five times that of Garr.
"Absolutely, demon-spawn.", Garr responds, gripping his beads and tearing them off, the death-tears of a dozen dragons falling to the ground, as the Guardian raises his spear, and attacks.
Ryu paces along the forest floor, occasionally looking up to see the displays of yellow light and red fire.
"It is done.", Peco says, "As long as their numbers do not increase, the demon threat has ended."
"How do we stop them from increasing?", Ryu asks, his voice agitated, "Peco, there's a hole in that mountain!"
Peco stands, his eyes begining to glow.
"We will drown out the death and destruction," he responds, "In the sea of endless Green."
He spreads his arms wide, his mouth moving in silent whispers.
The ground begins to rumble.
The trees begin to sing.
Ryu looks up, to see a massive....root.....fly right past him.
"Peco....", he whispers, "Peco, what's happening?!"
From the ocean surrounding the mountain, green begins to pour.
Massive roots fly towards the mountain, ignoring valerian and demon alike in their silent dance, knotting around each other, new branches forming on them as they wrap around the land.
The roots converge over the mountain, twisting and twirling about each other, shooting out branches and sprouting leaves at the commands of their master.
The collective growths form into a tree, a tree equal in size to the mountain itself, hovering over the demon-gate.
With almost a cry of victory, the tree slams down, its roots plugging the holes, its leaves darkening the fields around it.
The screams of the damn fall silent, the demons surrounding the tree watching in their own horror as victory is torn from their grasp, the mountain groaning against the new weight..
Bahamut, from the forest, looks up at the new sight.
He smiles, ever so slightly.
"Now that," he says, "Is what I call a Yggdrasil."
Kaylenn watches the entire event, wide-eyed.
"What," Nina asks, "Was that?"
Momo examines the tree, smiling slightly. After having spent twelve years examining the little onion, she knows some things about him the others wouldn't.
"Peco.", she responds.
The radar beeps.
She turns back to it, her eyes going wide.
"We've got one coming in, right on aft-port!", she announces.
The flyer flairs its starboard engines, trying to turn about.
A demon flies right towards them, a valerian fighter in pursuit.
The demon slams into the side, tearing off the main port engine, blue lightning shattering the demon as the flyer begins its descent.
"Main engines are down!", Momo yells, as the cabin rocks violently, "Auxillery power off-line! Foreward thrusters at minimum power! We're going down!"
"I can see that!", Kaylenn responds, pushing the manual controls up as far as they'll go.
He looks up, seeing the rapidly advancing ground.
He parts his lips, and mutters;
Flames spew out of the shredded nacelle as the flyer plummets to earth, the forward nacelles firing with very little effect.
A demon speeding towards the flyer burns to ash with a burst of orange fire, as a pair of cats eyes spots the troubled ship.
Momo throws herself out of her seat as the control panel lights up in sparks, the roar of the burning engines reaching deafening proportions.
Something clamps onto the outside, claws digging into the hull as pulling the ship upwards.
"The nose is pulling up!", Kaylenn announces, climbing out of his seat, "Everyone in crash positions!"
He extends his pike and braces the panel against the hull with it, diving out of his seat and into the passenger seats, grabbing Momo's hand and pulling her over, the five bracing against the chairs as the ground becomes closer........
Ryu walks out of the forest with Peco, and looks up, eyes wide.
The flyer, sans one nacelle, is diving right towards him, a platinum dragon straddling it and pulling its nose up.
The flyer's belly slams into the ground, kicking up soil and dirt as the metal screams in protest.
Ryu freezes in mid step, noting that the ship is heading straight for him, wondering if he has enough time to change into a dragon and have a hope of not being splattered over the forest floor.
A pair of trees thrust up, a birch-made net between them, catching the errant transport and stopping it in its tracks, the dragon roaring as it's thrown off and into the forest.
Ryu turns to Peco, and swallows.
"Thanks.", he says, his voice weak and scratchy.
Kaylenn slowly opens his eyes, seeing the sharp edge of one of the flight crystals inches from his face, his pike groaning under the pressure, but still restraining the errant control panel.
He chuckles, slightly, seeing Momo, next to him, still wrapped into a ball, waiting for a sign that the crash-landing is over.
Mari is the first to take a look.
The entire bridge is in shambles, control panels split open, the floor creaking and cracked, the ceiling showing peaks of sunlight where the dragon claws had penetrated.
"Are....are we alive?", Mari asks.
"Don't jinx it.", Rei mumbles.
The hatch pries open, Ryu climbing in.
"Is everyone okay?", he demands.
Kaylenn helps Momo up, the two silent, for a moment, as Kaylenn removes his pike and folds it.
"Well, any landing you can walk away from.", Nina says, climbing out of the battered chair, and walks over to Ryu.
The two embrace for a moment, as a set of vines pry the hatch all the way open.
"Was that you?", Nina asks.
"What do you mean?", Ryu responds.
"The one who pulled the flyer up."
"No.", Ryu responds, shaking his head, "No, it wasn't. It was a platinum dragon."
"Could it have been Bahamut?", Momo asks, walking past Kaylenn and over to the two.
"Baha-who?", Rei asks, scratching his head and climbing out of his seat.
"Ryu's father.", Kaylenn responds, walking past Rei and to the ramp.
"Yeah. I knew that.", the woren says, ignoring the valerian's glance, "Think that was him?"
Kaylenn walks ahead of them, down the ramp, and over to Peco, the others following the valerian with questioning looks.
A faint light shines from behind the trees.
He folds his hands into a triangle, smiling ever so slightly.
"Yes.", Kaylenn says, "We have always known you would come for us. We have always had faith....in the One."
And, from the forest, emerges a woman in the robes of a ladonian priestess.
Garr brings his spear up to block the Demon's claws, inches away from his throat, his eyes glowing deep blue as he stairs down the ancient adversary.
"You're outmatched, Garr. Surrender, and I'll simply let you watch the world die.", Barubary growls, eyes glowing brightly.
Garr grits his teeth, pushing off of his feet, the sudden momentum throwing Barubary back. The guardian swings with his weapon, slicing into the demon's side and drawing green blood.
"Death first!", Garr roars, spinning his weapon in his hand.
Barubary roars, sending a burst of green fire Garr's way, knocking the spear clearly from his hands.
A swipe of the Demon's claws send Garr flying through the air, into the mountain and metal of the destitute Township.
Barubary drops to his hands and feet, locking eyes with Garr.
"You're weaponless.", he states.
Garr growls, and swings, his fist hitting Barubary's face with enough force to shatter cement, but hardly even denting the shell.
He swings again, tearing his own skin around his knuckles, his golden-red blood beginning to slick the back of his hands.
"You're barely tickling me, Guardian. Your little fists can't harm me."
"Oh, yes," a female voice says, "They can."
Barubary turns, seeing Deis propping herself up on her staff.
"With my help.", she says, and waves her hand.
Barubary turns, seeing the amber fist enveloping itself in violet energy.
The swing impacts with the force of a bomb, sheering off entire layers of his armor, knocking teeth clean from his mouth and covering the grass with a fine layer of blood.
Garr smiles, his eyes consumed with battlelust, striking across Barubary's face with the back of his fist, sending the demon sprawling to the forest floor.
Enveloped in violet energy, eyes glowing pure white, he leaps at the demon, wings expanding as he slams his knuckles into Barubary's stomach, making the demon roar in pain. He swings his fists up, sending the demon again to the ground, green blood flowing freely, his shell visibly damaged, his eyes filled with both shock and rage.
He turns to Deis, waving a hand.
"Begone!", he roars.
She begins to fade away, as Barubary turns his attention back to Garr.
"Guardian!", she cries, "If you're going to kill him, do it! Now! You haven't much ti.........."
And with that, she's gone.
She rematerializes within the forest, surrounded by a pack of demons.
She hefts up her staff, recalling a spell.
With a cry, a bolt of light strikes out from her staff, incinerating one of the four demons with a flash, a second bolt frying a second beast where it stands.
She picks up the staff, the bottom shaping into a stake, as she drives it into the head of the third demon, the force demon screaming as a sword lops its head clean off.
She turns, as Bahamut steps over the corpse.
"Deis?", he asks.
"Bahamut?", she responds, "What are you doing here?"
"Coming to Ryu's aid. I thought you had retired.", he says, sheathing his sword, "I thought you said you had enough of this."
"There's alot of you in your son, Bahamut.", she responds, smiling slightly, "He reminded me of the old times."
"We can reminisce about the old days later, love.", he responds, looking up and seeing the battles between the demons and the valerians, "It looks like we're needed."
With a roar, his body stretches out into a platinum dragon, rising into the sky, the inigo-haired goddess following.
Garr swings, Barubary effortlessly grabbing the fist, slamming his own into Garr and sending him flying across the field, crossing the distance in a scant few steps and slashing across Garr's back with his sirrated claws, making the gargoyle scream in pain.
"Pathetic! Myria must have not put much thought into it when she made a sniveling, weak-boned, egotistical little pup like you!"
Garr feels his blood boil at the demon's words, seeing his spear resting nearby.
He can feel his skin heating up as Barubary breathes in for another fireblast, planting his hands into the ground.
He pushes up, wings carrying him up as the blast fries the grass where he lay, grabbing his spear and landing on his feet.
He can hear the sound of his own heart beating.
He can feel the rage of the Demon, equally as battered as his own body.
He begins to remember the techniques his father had told him.
Clear your mind. Still your thoughts, and in doing so, still your opponent.
Barubary growls, bringing his claws down to where Garr stands.
With a blurr, Garr is gone, the claws slicing into the ground.
Barubary looks about, searching for a trace of his enemy.
With a blurr, a spear slashes across his right arm, making him roar.
Another blurr slicing his legs, sending him to his knees.
He can see the faintest blurr of the gargoyle's hand as a blurr slashes across his stomach, the demon lashing out at the empty air.
"Where are you!?!", Barubary demands, crawling on his hands and knees, seeing the crack in the mountain in front of him.
Another blurr slashes Barubary's other arm, pouring blood onto the grass.
"I'm everywhere around you, Barubary.", Garr says, his voice coming from all sides.
Barubary knows what it means when a Guardian says the name of his enemy.
He tries to lunge for the crack in the mountain, to summon the aid of his God.
Garr appears over Barubary, spear in hand, and dives down.
The spear penetrates through the weakened shell of his back, impaling him all the way through and bursting out the chest, Garr reappearing in front of the demon with a blurr and pulling the spear through.
Barubary's breath becomes shallow, blood pouring freely from his chest and mouth.
With a slow growl, he collapses to the ground, slowly reaching his hand to the crack, straining his efforts to reach his master.
Garr, his spear coated with the demon's blood, limps to Barubary's head.
"In the name....of the Goddess.....and in the name of the God Ladon," he says, gripping his spear, and raising it above his head, "Barubary, most feared servant of the Evarai, ancient enemy of the light of this world....for your crimes, for your threats, schemes, and your goals to bring death and despair to the inhabitants the Goddess and God protect....You must Die."
With a sound of the blade slicing through air, Garr brings his spear down.
Barubary's hand jerks, twitches in the air in front of the crack, and then falls, limp, to the ground, green blood staining the forest floor.
Ryu watches as Deis and Bahamut descend from the sky in front of the ruined flyer, the valerian fleet annihilating the last of the demon hordes.
He looks from his father to the deity, and then back to the others.
"Well?", he asks.
"The flyer won't be taking off, not for a while.", Momo states, "But our new guest.."
"Radria.", the priestess says, "I am Radria Bateson, appointed protector, until a few hours ago, of the Obelisk."
"Seeing how that is no longer your task, we have a more pressing matter at hand. You wish to aid us?", Bahamut responds.
She nods, slightly bowing.
"My task is to prevent the return of the Evarai.", she responds, "I will continue to do so."
"Bateson?", Deis asks, cocking an eyebrow, "You're a descendant of the first Destined Child, aren't you?"
Radria nods, as she begins to explain to Deis.
Ryu turns from them, walking back to the wreck, seeing Kaylenn and Momo examining the damaged nacelle, Rei sitting in the shade of one of the just-grown trees, and Mari watching as the valerians eliminating the last demons.
He walks over to Nina, who's sitting on a tree stump, sharing the same thought.
"Where's Garr?", she asks.
"He bolted into the forest, and Peco seperated us. I haven't seen him since.", Ryu responds, "Radria said Barubary was here."
She looks up, past him.
Over the horizon of the grass fields, his wings folded around his back, his skin covered in scars and the blood of both the demon and his own, Garr slowly marches towards them.
In one hand, he's carrying his spear.
In the other, Barubary's severed head.
An array of ebon shell fragments adorn his neck where his beads once were.
He walks past Ryu, Nina, and the others, marching towards Bahamut.
He plants down Barubary's head in front of the dragon king, falling to one knee.
"It is done.", he says, "Barubary is dead."
Bahamut regards Garr, for a moment, and smiles, proudly.
"My people call you Dragon-Killer.", he says, "I'll make them eat those words. I'll make your new name Demon-Slayer."
Garr stands up, and turns to the others.
"We have an opening.", he says, "The path to the Infinity Dungeon is ready for us. All we need is to break the seal, and we can descend to Evarai and destroy Him."
"Wait, Garr.", Ryu says, "I've got a question, first."
Garr turns to his charge, planting his spear in the ground.
He turns to the others, Kaylenn in particular.
"The Urkan Patriarch called me the One.", he says, "He also called you the One. But when Kaylenn referred to the One, the one he pointed to..."
"Was me, yes.", Radria says, "I'm curious about that, myself."
Kaylenn nods, clearing his throat.
"It is an ancient belief the valerians have shared with other clans.", Kaylenn responds, "You see, all valerian beliefs, our entire society, revolves around the number three. Three castes: Worker, Warrior, Religious. Three languages: Light, Dark, and Grey. There are Nine valerians who govern us: Three times Three. You've seen our ships: Three wings, three hundred meters long. And then, there is the One, who is also three."
He gestures to Radria.
"You are the One Who Was."
He gestures to Garr.
"You are the One Who Is."
He gestures to Ryu.
"And you are the One Who Will Be. All is three, as you are three, as you are one. As you are, The One."
Radria slowly nods, turning to Garr and Ryu.
"It does make sense.", she says, "I protected the Obelisk, Garr protected the Destined Child, and Ryu is destined to destroy the Seed. The valerians knew of this cycle?"
"It is simply written in some of our texts.", Kaylenn responds, "And this is where the text ends. We must make our own destiny, now."
The Death Evans stirrs.
He knows His time of ascension is at hand.
He knows that Nikanoru is coming for him.
The Destined One will die.
And the Destined One's allies will die.
And then all will die, when Evarai takes place place as this world's God.
A pair of humanoid demons patrol the forests outside of Gate, growling out commands to one another, battle lances firmly in their hands.
With a blurr, a yellowish-red streak slices one of their throats, spurting blood as it dies.
The second demon turns, staring down a seven foot tall weretiger, barely screaming as the creature impales it with his claws.
With a fading light, the tiger reverts to Rei, looking about.
With a growl, he leaps into the woods.
Ryu sits on a rock near the gateway, the flickering lights of the township above him.
Bahamut examines a crack in the wall, as he hears the sound of another demon's deathcry.
"They are efficient.", he says, "How much longer?"
"About half an hour. Rei and Garr want to work out some pent-up hostility, and Nina, Kaylenn, and Momo want to make sure the flyer's towed back with the valerian fleet.", Ryu responds, "Mari's staying with them, to guard them."
"She is a Guardian, alright.", Bahamut says, "And Deis will join us as soon as she and Radria arrive with their tools. We won't have much opposition on the way down to Dologandy. I was very thorough on my way out."
"I could imagine.", Ryu says, and furrows his brow in thought, "....I need to ask you something."
"Of course.", Bahamut responds, leaning his back against the stone, "What is your question?"
"Is Mari my sister?", Ryu asks, "I know she's Asmadi, I can tell from her eyes. I know she's mixed, because she's Kaiser. But she looks completely different from me or Teepo, so I can't know for certain..."
"No. She is not.", Bahamut responds, "I knew that from when I saw her. You were the only child I had with Sarah or anyone else. I do not know who Mari's father is."
"You know who her mother is?", Ryu asks.
Bahamut nods, grimly.
"I knew from her resemblance to her mother.", he responds, "The Kaisers of this cycle are the more powerful than any throughout history, due to the fact that they are all descendant from God-clan. Even Radria has some kaiser blood in her, as do I, but you three put your predecessors to shame."
"You're avoiding the question, Father.", Ryu responds, "Who's Mari's mother?"
Bahamut closes his eyes, hanging his head.
"Myria.", he responds, sensing the shocked expression of Ryu's face, "Myria is."
"That's why Garr's father found her, wasn't it?"
"It was. Myria would not allow her child to die, a child she thought could have been the child of prophecy.", he responds, "She sent Grau'tix to ward off the demons, and he found the child. Raised her as a Guardian, not as a Brood. I still do not know who the father is. But Mari is of our bloodline."
A pack of demons scurry through the forest, hearing the sounds of the weretiger slaughtering their kin.
The five demons sniff the air, sensing something nearby.
Bursting through the rough, a Guardian appears.
They see the scales of Barubary hanging around his neck, and they know fear.
They see the blazing azure from his eyes, the bloodlust in his heart, and they know terror.
With a burst of flame, a spear appears in the gargoyle's hand, as a bold demon leaps at him.
The spear spins in the Guardian's hand, as he makes his motion.
Moving so fast, the spear is nothing but a blurr, he slices across the demon and through, the entity seperating in two in mid flight, not even shrieking as it evaporates into dust.
"Do better.", Garr warns.
He leaps at them, impaling a demon and making him revert to ash, the other three leaping at him, digging their claws and teeth into him.
With a shrug, the three demons launch into the air, impaling themselves on the spiked tree branches, fading to dust.
Garr looks up, seeing the position of the sun.
"It is time.", he says, to himself, spreading his wings, and launching into the air.
Ryu looks up as Garr flies overhead, effortlessly landing on the ground.
Rei leaps in from the forest, reverting from his weretiger to humanoid form, sheething his daggers as he stands back up.
Ryu sees Nina, Kaylenn, Momo, and Mari walking towards them from the horizon, Radria and Deis appearing in a pillar of light, the four stragglers appearing, dazed, in a similar flash.
"Good.", Bahamut says, "Now that we're all here, the passage to Infinity is beyond this rock. We should get to prying it open."
"Allow me.", Garr states, and walks past the dragon king.
With one swing, the stone shatters into sand, an ornate slab of metal standing in their way.
"It takes the blood of a dragon-clan to unlock the seal.", Radria says, "Your Majesty, will you do the honors?"
Bahamut concentrates, one finger on his right hand turning into a talon.
He traces along his left palm, and presses it to the door.
The door shimmers, groaning in protest, and fades away.
Bahamut shakes his left hand, his palm healing instantly.
"There. The Seal is broken. It is in our hands, now.", he says, and walks through.
The others follow, a silence passing as the last one walks through the entrance.
A set of shrubs pop out of the ground, forming into branches and vines, wrapping around the entrance and forming a barrier against it.
Peco stands near the entrance, face expressionless, eyes focused on the entrance to Infinity.
And he waits.
His father was telling the truth, Ryu mused, as they made their way through the first layers of Infinity.
The dungeon was empty. Covered in ash, from slain demons.
Ryu's not sure to be relieved that there's no danger, or angry because his father's shown him up.
He feels Nina's hand on his as they climb down the last set of stairs, to the massive, double door entrance to Dologandy.
"Did you find out anything?", she asks, softly, so no one else will hear.
He nods, remembering the news Bahamut gave him.
"Yeah.", he responds, "I'll tell you and Garr later. He's going to want to hear this."
A silence passes over Dologandy as the doors open, both the Dragon King and a Guardian walking through.
Bahamut turns to the Guardian, and nods.
Garr lifts his hand high, holding in it the severed head of Barubary.
The inhabitants cheer.
A celebration breaks out in the dragon-city, one symbolizing the end of their millenia-long task.
In the chambers of the Dragon King, Ryu relates what he was told, Nina and Garr paying rapt attention.
Garr nods, pacing the room.
"Mari....is Myria's daughter.", Nina says, softly, "And she's also from your family."
Ryu nods, leaning against the wall.
"I don't know if we should tell her.", he says, "I don't know who the father is. Hell, my father doesn't know who the father is, and he's the patriarch of the family. If he doesn't know, that worries me."
"We should let her know. She wants to know what her powers are.", Nina states, "After you first met Bahamut, you had more control over your abilities. The same might work for Mari."
"He trained me. Simply telling Mari who her mother is won't help her.", Ryu responds, "Garr?"
Almost on cue, letting out a low, bestial growl, Garr swings at the wall, smashing off a good portion of the unfamiliar stone.
Ryu and Nina back away from him, his eyes red with rage.
"I....have been....misled....enough!", he growls, "Ryu, you are sure Bahamut told the truth?"
Garr clenches his fist, his body still tense.
"The Goddess lied to one of her own servants. To her own daughter.", he says, lowly, "Why?"
"She didn't want her to grow up as a Brood.", Ryu responds.
"That was her choice!", Garr roars, his voice making the room shake, "The Goddess took that choice from her. She never knew what she was until we forced that upon her. I have served the Goddess for four hundred years. I did that because I knew all the choices I had. I knew what the danger was, I knew what the consequences were. Mari never did!"
He turns to them, the rage draining from him.
"She must know.", he states.
"I already do."
Garr and the others turn to the doorway, where Mari is standing.
"I was listening in.", she says, her voice shaking, "Is it true?"
Garr nods, slowly.
"It is. The Goddess is your mother.", he responds, "And your father is Brood. We will try to find who."
They hear someone clearing his throat.
A dragon statue in the wall fades away, Bahamut walking through the opening.
"Never forget, these walls have ears.", he says, picking up the stone Garr broke loose and reattaching it to the wall, the rock melting into place, "You will have you answers tomorrow. We will visit the elder in the morning, and then, we will go to Infinity, and end this. Once, and for all."
The Destined Cycle
Late at night, in the ancient city of Dologandy.
Bahamut Asmadi strokes the fire in his personal sanctuary, hearing the sounds of the bats and the lower demons in the darkness around them.
The door to his chamber opens, an indigo-haired woman walking through.
He says nothing, but faintly smiles, stoking the fire with a poker at his feet.
"Tell me," Deis says, "Does Ryu know how close I was to being his mother?"
"Of course not, Deis.", he responds, "You've spent more time around him than I have. If anyone would have told him, it would have been you."
She sits down in the chair across from him, gently smiling in the firelight.
"You really did care about Sarah, didn't you?", she asks, "It wasn't just to fufill the prophecy and end the cycle?"
"Not truly.", he responds, "I did love her, in a way different from you. For one thing, she was closer to me in age."
"I look younger than you.", she states.
"You're five times my age. Of course, that gap was significantly larger when we first met.", he responds, "But, it would not have worked out..."
"If we had a child, imprisonment would have been the least of things Myria would have done to me.", she says, shuddering, "Sister sure had an imagination when it came to punishment."
"It's sibling rivalry. You were simply an opposing view."
"On a grander scale than most.", he responds, "Those were good times, Deis."
"They were, Bahamut.", she responds, as they talk well into the night.
Ryu could swear he saw his father and Deis holding hands as they descended into the first level of the Infinity.
He shakes off the thought, the stench of brimstone burning his nostrils, as well as the smell of freshly charred flesh.
"What the hell is that?", Rei demands, behind him.
"Evarai is a demon child.", Radria responds, helping along Mari, "He decided to make His prison into a replica of His home."
"Home?", Rei asks.
"Hell.", she responds, walking past them.
Rei scratches his head, walking alongside Ryu.
"Don't that just beat all....", he says, "What's with her?"
"A long story, Rei.", Ryu responds, "A very long story."
Bahamut presses his hand against the doorway, the metal lighting up and sliding out of the way.
He motions Ryu through the opening, the others following him.
The place is dimly lit, with a fountain at the center.
He can sense the aura of magic, here.
"What is this place?", Garr asks.
"The sanctuary of the Elder.", Bahamut responds, "Only a select few have ever walked here."
"It's protected against the demons by very strong magicks.", Deis adds, "Kaiser in origin. Come."
She leads them through the corridor and into a massive chamber, where an aged man is sitting.
He smiles, when he sees Deis and Bahamut.
"Ah....Lady Deis....my son....I have been expecting you.", he says, his accent similar to Bahamut's, his voice creaking and aged, "And you must be Ryu."
Ryu looks up, and walks forward.
"I am.", he responds.
The aged man smiles.
"I am Vaevictus Asmadi.", he says, "Patriarch of our family, and elder of the Brood. I have been expecting you, for five hundred years, last of the Destined Children."
"Last of the destined children?", Ryu asks, "What do you mean?"
Vaevictus smiles, a two foot-in-diameter circle of the floor in front of them fading into liquid.
"The Destined Cycle has been broken.", he responds, "Now, look. Let me tell you everything...."
Far below them, Evarai can sense His time coming.
He can sense His servants asking for their missions.
He gestures to one of them, a golden haired man in full battle armor.
He gives the servant his orders, and He tells him to go.
The servant bows, smiling maliciously, and sprints out.
Images form before them.
Of a warrior with golden hair, kneeling before Myria, a man with oddly colored eyes watching from the background.
"What you see," Vaevictus explains, "Is the day when Jade, general of the Dark Dragons when they were at war with the Light Dragons, freed Myria. Does someone here seem familiar?"
They see the figure with the odd eyes.
Radria is the first to place the face.
"Barubary.", she says.
The image shifts, to a place filled with sulfer and fire, showing Myria and an azure-haired warrior standing before a massive demon.
"In the days following the first conflict with Myria," Vaevictus says, "The Goddess became aware of a threat to this world. She went to confront it."
"What threat?", Radria asks.
"The Demon Realm.", Vaevictus responds, "It is the source of all our hardships, in a sense. Myria met with the Demon King Himself. She negotiated a truce between Her world and His realm."
"How?", Radria asks, already knowing the answer. Knowing that they all can guess what the price was.
"The Demon King's price was that the Goddess carry His seed.", the elder responds, stirring the waters with a stray finger, "He would leave Her realm to itself if she would carry His bastard."
Deis looks down, shaking her head.
"That seed became Evarai.", the elder continues, "Myria realized what She had done. She had begun the cycle of the ancient Prophecy. She banished the child into the dungeon of Infinity, locking it away with a seal. Several Brood, realizing what Myria had done, descended here to watch over the Demon-God. She knew of our purpose, and so, during the Purge, she left Dologandy as it be."
"The Goddess and the Brood working together....", Garr echoes.
"Evarai has grown here, becoming more and more powerful.", Vaevictus continues, "Somehow, becoming far greater than either of His parents. Even the power of the second Kaiser dragon, whose power itself was equal to the first Agni, could not destroy Him, only wound him to the point where Evarai had to sleep. And that is when Myria took up Her task."
"To make sure Evarai never woke, again.", Ryu says.
"With Her departure, Evarai has taken shape.", he continues, "But with Her departure, this series of Destined Cycles have ended. All has come full circle. The war between the Goddess and the Brood has ended, but not with true victory for either. The task of the Brood to watch Evarai shall end, as well. Whether it be with Evarai's death or ours....well, who's to say? And now....well, surely more cycles shall arise, more conflicts. Maybe on this world, maybe on others.....but, I can never tell."
The waters shift to a familiar image, of two horsemen.
"Balio and Sunder.", Rei spats.
The image zooms out, to show the two horsemen in front of Mikba, another person behind the crime lord.
A man with green and red eyes.
"Barubary!", Garr states.
The image fades again, back to the demon realm.
A demon by the Demon King's side, with three eyes and an ebon shell.
"Barubary.", Deis states.
An observer of Jade's attack on Drogen.
A man supervising the Memory-Demon when it came to Gate.
A demon staring down the second Destined Child.
A demon watching Evarai take form.
All the same being.
"Now, do you see?", Vaevictus asks, "He was always there."
The waters fade away.
"He began everything.", Vaevictus says, "It was among the most complicated plots I have ever seen. A plot to bring the demon realm to this world. When you're immortal, you have time to wait."
He stands, walking to a shallow pond at the center of the room.
"He began the Destined Cycles.", he continues, "He began them because he knew they would produce the Demon-God he needed. He manipulate Jade, turned the warrior against his Emperor, and made it so Myria would know Her world would be threatened. So then, she birthed the Evarai, and he knew She would banish the Seed to here, where Barubary could raise Him without the Goddess knowing. And he knew that, one day, the Destined Child would rid the world of the Goddess, letting Evarai take form again. He planned it all."
"He would have let another cycle take its course if this one failed, Garr.", Vaevictus responds, "However, he didn't plan on one thing: The Guardians were supposed to be dead."
"He never counted on Gaist cheating death.", he continues, "The Guardians were made when Myria became aware of Barubary. To destroy him, and they could. He waited until the Guardians were supposed to all be wiped out, and then he moved. He did not anticipate you killing him, Guardian. He did not expect that, at all."
An opening appears, in the wall, forming into stairs.
"Now, I have opened the path to Infinity. You may go, to confront the darkness.", he says, "Evarai has stirred, and he awaits you. Expect everything. It is in your hands."
Bahamut nods, walking through without a word.
Garr follows him, then Ryu, Nina, Kaylenn, Momo, Rei, and Mari.
"Priestess.", Vaevictus says.
Radria turns as she is about to enter the gateway.
"I have need of you here.", Vaevictus responds, "Lady Deis, you have a question?"
Deis walks to Vaevictus, and places her hand in the water.
It forms into the picture of her sister in the demon realm, with the azure-haired warrior.
"That is Ryu Bateson, isn't it?", she asks, "The First Kaiser."
"Yes, it is. Why?", he asks.
"What ever happened to him, Vaevictus?", she asks, "After the death of Nina, he disappeared. I could sense my sister's hand in it."
Vaevictus smiles, ever so slightly.
"Radria, you are descended from the children Ryu had with his first wife.", he says, "But that does not mean that he would become a hermit, later. He was the first Kaiser, and he was immortal, because of his power. Perhaps he was the most powerful of all, from the ease he bested the Goddess. But, things changed, later."
"How?", Deis demands.
"Why, after the death of Nina," Vaevictus responds, "He made peace with the Goddess. Peace that lasted until the Purge. During that time, he was her ally, her companion, her friend, her confidant....and maybe more. A God-child, no matter who the parents, takes twenty years to gestate. During that time, much, much can happen. The father could die, forsake the mother...or even transcend this plane of existence for another. Deis, you know Myria is the mother of Guardian Mari, do you not?"
Deis nods, slowly, when she realizes what Vaevictus is getting at.
The elder smiles.
"Ever wonder who the father was?"
A visibly shaken Deis appears next to Bahamut in a flash of light, as the tunnel ends.
"I was wondering where you were.", the dragon king states, seeing the expression on her face, "What's wrong?"
"I'll explain later. Much later.", she responds, as they enter the new labyrinth.
The walls are pulsing with life.
Covered in ooze and blood, tentacles littering the floor, the ground soft like human flesh.
Kaylenn reaches into his overcoat, taking out a long, advanced rifle, cocking it with a slight humm, Momo taking out a similar weapon.
Garr summons his spear, as does Mari.
Ryu draws his sword.
"Welcome to Infinity.", Deis states, her staff charging.
"What do you need my aid for, Elder?", Radria asks, circling around the pool.
"When Evarai is destroyed," Vaevictus states, "He will release an incredible amount of energy. Energy that will kill your allies. I have an alternative."
"Channel the energy?"
"Yes. I have contacted the Yggdrasil. He will aid us in diverting the energy through the mountain. We must do the rest."
"By accomplishing the goal Myria set out to do, when she made Evarai in the first place: Make this world safe from the Demon Realm."
The demons are quiet as they move along the dungeon.
Bahamut can guess why.
"Someone is here.", he states, drawing his sword with a swift motion.
The wall in front of them tears open, a figure walking through.
A man with golden hair, dressed in the armor of a Dark Dragon. A man with green eyes.
The man they saw in the pictures.
"Jade.", Bahamut spats.
Jade draws his sword, smiling.
"Another Light Dragon.", he says, "I've been expecting you. I thought you'd be younger."
"Mistook me for someone else, then.", Bahamut responds, "You are dead."
"Evarai took me in, and remade me.", the Brood general responds, "I like it here. Evarai is the type of master I've been waiting for. Omnipotent, ruthless, and with no regrets whatsoever. Well?"
Bahamut locks his eyes with Jade, glancing to the others. Deis is already leading them through another path.
Bahamut smiles, grimly. He knows that everything will continue, as they have prepared for. Only the Kaiser dragons need to confront Evarai. They'll be in good hands, with her.
With a yell, he charges, and locks swords with Jade.
Deis quickly leads them through the doorways, as a slow growl begins to fill their ears.
"Quickly!", she states, "We don't have much time!"
The growl becomes louder, as Rei looks up, multiple pairs of eyes dotting the ceiling.
"Um....Ma'am?", he asks, "What's that noise....?!"
And then, the demons attack.
Twin beams of crackling blue energy raze the walls of the chamber, and the attacking demons inside it.
Deis leads the charge, her eyes and hands glowing brightly as blast after blast of silver light lances from her staff, striking down the demons, spells of ancient origin erupting from the ground to protect her companions.
"Follow me!", she echoes, her voice taking the tone they have heard before in Myria, a sphere of energy surrounding them.
Ryu watches as the demons surround the sphere, claws cracking it, bursts of fire rippling it.
He nods to Deis, throwing out his arms.
The sound of his heartbeat fills the air.
"Alright," he whispers, "Let's clear the room."
His eyes begin to glow.
Bahamut allows himself some satisfaction as he sees Jade's blade cracking.
"Feeling the pressure, boy?", he demands, seeing the grim worry on his opponent's face, "These weapons have been in the Asmadi clan for generations! We've been fighting your legacy for one thousand years!"
"I've been informed.", Jade responds, his eyes glowing in an emerald light, "You're forgetting one thing, Platinum Dragon."
Jade lurches back, the veins in his neck bursting as he begins to convulge.
Bahamut watches in horror as Jade throws out his arms. Blades burst out from his arms, his fingers stretching out into claws, his legs breaking in two.
His body begins to stretch out, massive wings bursting from his back, his jaw lengthening and cracking into stwo separate parts as green-black scales cover his body.
Horns burst from his forehead, his eyes morphing into insectoid eyes, as he rears back and roars.
Everything from legend.
The Dark Kaiser.
Bahamut steps back, throwing out his arms, and changes into his form as a Platinum Dragon.
A small vial hangs from his neck.
"I'm more powerful than you can possibly imagine.", Jade growls, "I'm the Prime of our race. And you want to fight me?"
"Always have.", Bahamut responds, snarling.
With a roar, Jade lunges.
Bursts of flame charr the demon hordes, as the massive dragon flies into their midst.
Spells of lightning, fire, and wind follow the Kaiser as he tears through the forces, their bolts and claws reflecting off his nigh-invulnerable scales.
Twin beams of blue energy strike down demons, a weretiger leaping from demon to demon as he slaughters them.
The spears of two Guardians impale the low flying demons and decimate the ground-based ones, as beams of violet light lance from all directions.
The hordes flee, away from their master, into the shadows from whence they came.
Deis watches them go, turning to the others.
"Quickly.", she says, "He bought us some time, but not much."
"Who was that?", Ryu demands, "That person my father attacked?"
"Jade. One of the first three Kaiser dragons.", Deis responds, "He bought us some time. I don't want to have to face down both Jade and Evarai."
"He doesn't stand a chance.", Garr states.
"He doesn't, I know. But we won't if don't hurry......?", she responds, and then looks to her neck.
The vial she keeps on her is gone.
The vial containing a small song she found, so long ago......
She smiles, slightly.
"Maybe he does.", she responds, "Follow me!"
She leads them along, into the dungeon.
Radria clasps her hands with the elder, the two on opposite sides of the pool.
She can sense the power within him. The son of a Kaiser.....
"Kale Sabbaeth.", she says, "The second Destined One...."
"My father.", Vaevictus responds, nodding, "I am the child of a Kaiser. I possess much of his power. Power which enabled me to protect myself from the evils here. Power which we can use to end the threats to this world, once and for all. Now, prepare yourself. The spell we must cast is the most complex of any. We must tear open space itself."
With that, they begin chanting.
The first thing they hear is organ music.
Elaborate, beautiful organ music.
"It sounds like a church...", Rei observes.
"He would want it that way.", Deis responds, leading them into the massive chamber.
The chamber is massive, layered in stone, gold, and ebon metal, smooth like glass.
The music is coming from everywhere, from the walls, the floor, even the air.
Nina can sense the magic in its origin, involuntarily shivering.
Garr can sense the divine source.
Ryu begins to faintly glow, the beam of light less brilliant than when they encountered Myria.
The light touches a man, floating above the floor.
The man senses them, and turns.
He smiles, coldly, descending towards the ground.
"I welcome you, Nikanoru," he says, his voice barely a whisper, but reflecting off all the surfaces and walls around them, "And thank you for throwing open the gates of Infinity."
He spreads out his arms wide, the very air trembling at his voice.
"I shall go out, onto the world.....and I shall bless it....", he continues, his eyes glowing with pure flame, "With desperation. With despair. The people shall look up onto me, and they shall smile. And they shall pray....for Death. And for Deliverance. The world shall die, quickly. And my brethren shall rule. All will be as fate has mandated. For that I thank you, Nikanoru."
Ryu draws his sword, stepping out in front of the others.
"Like hell.", he spats, "I can't think of a person who'd be glad to see you."
He points the sword at the man.
"And who's Nikanoru?", he demands.
The man smiles.
"Why.....Nikanoru is the name for one who is dead.", the man responds, "As are you."
The ground beneath them rumbles.
Crystal begins to grow from beneath them, encasing them, quickly.
Deis is the first to realize who the man is.
"Evarai.", she whispers, trying to cast a spell to free them.
The crystal grows around her hand, around her mouth, encasing her first.
The crystals surround them, imprisoning them, as Evarai floats above them.
"You are all dead.", He says, "For no life can exist within that crystal. Last time, Nikanoru....I made the mistake. I made the error of delivering your allies, first. And making you watch."
He descends to the ground, in front of Ryu.
"But this time, Destined One," He says, "You will die, first."
Bahamut roars as Jade's claws slam into him, again, gold blood already flowing freely from several wounds, his horns scratched and cracked, his wings pierced in three places.
Another blow sends him to the floor, his vision hazy.
Jade slams his foot onto his head, pressing it into the soft, organic ground.
"I'm surprised, Dragon.", Jade growls, "You would give your life so easily? Even Bateson was worried about dying."
"I....never said anything....about dying.", Bahamut whispers, and grabs the vial on his neck.
Tearing it off with one swift motion, he smashes it on the ground.
Music fills the air. Soft, light flute music.
Smoke begins to pour from his eyes, mouth, and nostrils, thrashing about, covering his ears as his very life drains from him.
Bahamut slowly stands, casting a spell to heal himself, his nostrils lighting with flame.
"The Song of the Dragon. A relic from Tunlan.", Bahamut says, "Over time, many of the Brood have developed an immunity to it. I've memorized each note, word, and sound of the song. You, however, are still from that old age."
Jade begins to shrink, dark light streaming from him in all directions.
He looks up, as the platinum dragon's fist slams into his face, sending him sprawling back, a burst of fire making him scream.
"We're equals now, Jade.", Bahamut says, standing tall, "Get up."
Garr uses all of his strength to clench his fist, scraping through the crystal.
The small jewel in his hand begins to glow.
When it is time, and you know the place, call My Name, and I shall be there.
He remembers the words of the Goddess......but those are different words.
I am here, Guardian. Call My Name.
I cannot......you deceived me. You deceived us all.
You must trust me. You must break your oath, and say my true name.
How can I? How do I know what you say is true?
You must believe. All is at stake. All is in your hands. You must have your faith, for that is your greatest power. That is why I chose you, Galen. You, over all others, knew what right was, from wrong. It is in your hands. You must make your miracles, now. You must break your oath, say My Name, and call down upon me. I leave it to you.
The crystal cracks as he opens his jaw.
His spear is frozen in his hand.
The jewel is in his other.
Evarai is ready to destroy the Destined Child.
To speak the Name of the Goddess is blasphemy, for it is to see her on the level of mortals.
He makes his decision.
He puts his faith in himself.
Evarai levels His hand at Ryu, glowing with black light, gathering by His palm.
Ryu can almost see the exhiliration on the mad god's face.
Evarai lets go of the blast, letting it fly towards the Destined Child.
Garr's spear begins to glow.
The gems placed all over the weapon glow in sequence, as if placed there by purpose.
Lines of golden energy surround them, travelling through the crystal, through them, and through the air around them.
The blast of energy strikes a golden shield surrounding Ryu, reflecting off and slamming straight into Evarai, making Him cry out in pain.
The crystals melt, releasing them, as Evarai backs away, eyes towards the sky beyond them.
"Mother?!", he demands, his voice echoing through the room like a thunderbolt, "Mother, do you Forsake me? Do you turn upon me in my Victory?!"
He hears the sound of a Brood growl....and a Guardian warcry.
He turns, to see the eyes of His half-sister.
He cannot even speak as the spear of the guardian impales Him, staring into Mari's eyes.
"Sister....", He gasps, "Mother turns you upon me, as well....."
She pulls out the weapon, as He backs away, blood running freely from His wound, His mouth, and His nose.
"Damned....all of you....damned.", He gasps, stumbling to the edge of the platform, "Cannot.....die......"
With that, He falls over, into the endless void.
Radria watches as Evarai dies.
"Is it over?", she asks.
Vaevictus shakes his head.
"It is beginning."
Rei watches as Mari sheathes her spear, walking over to Garr.
He shakes his head, scratching behind one of his ears, and walks over to Kaylenn.
The valerian eyes him, the two standing there in silence.
"Ah...well...", Rei says, and extends his hand, "Nice work."
Kaylenn considers the woren, for a moment, and grips the hand.
"Not bad, yourself.", he says, as Momo walks over to the chasm, where Deis is standing.
Deis turns, walking back to the others.
"This isn't how it ends.", she says.
The others turn to her, with questioning looks.
"What do you mean?", Momo asks, "Evarai is gone. He's dead."
"Evarai is God-clan.", Garr responds, "God-clan do not die easily."
The ground begins to rumble.
The air begins to tremble.
A bone-chilling laugh fills the air.
"Die? DIE?!", the voice echoes, shaking the very foundations of the mountain itself, "GOD CANNOT DIE!!!"
A massive hand reaches up, grabbing the edge of the platform.
Deis's face turns white.
Another hand grips the platform, pulling up the most horrid monster any of them have ever seen.
More than a hundred feet tall and eighty feet wide, His face twisted with tentacles and blades adorning it. His body is covered in ebon and royal purple scales and shells. Massive, shredded wings adorn His back, His talons and claws longer than His adversaries are tall.
His burning red eyes center on them, smoke billowing from His nostrils.
"You are a shrewd man, Destined Child. You would strike against God?", He roars, "You would oppose Me in My Destiny?"
The ground trembles with the sound of His voice, as Ryu draws his sword.
"I will flay the flesh from your body. I will suck the marrow from your bones.", the monster roars, "Songs shall be written of the beauty of the pain I shall inflict upon you, body and soul! For centuries upon centuries, we.... I have waited for this moment, Ryu....Kale...Asmadi.....Kaiser.....Destined One...."
He throws his head back, and roars, a roar that is heard throughout the world.
His body pulses with the darkest of energies.
Deis begins to glow with violet light.
She realizes what they have done.
"We made Him angry.", she whispers.
Radria watches in horror.
"Great Ladon.....that is Evarai?"
"His truest form. The combination of Demon and God.", he responds, "Now, let us begin. We must form the rift. All is going according to plan."
Ryu begins to concentrate for his transformation, as Deis casts her spell.
Shards of rock loosen from the sides of the chamber, slicing into the skin of the demon-god.
Evarai growls, his eyes lighting up with pure darkness, as a pair of lightning spells smash into him.
Twin bolts of blue energy raze his skin, making him growl, lowly.
Ryu sees Garr launching himself at the god, his spear slicing part of his skin, flying away to avoid the return attack.
A tendril forms from Evarai's side, slicing through the air, towards them.
He breaks his concentration, seeing the path it takes.
He breaks into a run, leaping into the air, and pushes Nina to the ground.
His body erupts in pain as the tendril impales him, the organic metal slicing right through him, with such force that he's thrown straight into the air, through the chamber doorway.
Radria watches in horror.
"Is he dead?", she asks.
"He will be."
The only thing he sees is Mari standing over him.
He hears her yelling something at Nina, sending her back into the chamber.
Something about.....her skills being needed....while only a Brood could help a Brood.....
Makes sense.....Nina is the strongest magic user.....and Evarai couldn't kill Deis.........damn.....
He can feel the blood he just coughed up.
He can feel his own heart slowing, even as he feels Mari pumping his chest.
Wow......didn't feel like this.....when Sunder....ran me through........Garr, neither... but I didn't die with.....with him.......
His fingers have just turned numb.
His vision is starting to cloud.
Always have....to be a hero....in the blood.......Father.....did that......so do I.....
He can hear his heart beat for a final time.
His vision turns white.
And with that, Ryu Asmadi, last of the Destined Children, dies.
Deis feels the heavy air around them,
She knows that the Kaiser dragon is dead.
Evarai knows it to. He knows he can win, now.
She casts a slow spell, temporarily halting the demon's movements.
"Damn it!", she growls, "We can't win like this! He's too powerful! We need to keep Him at bay!"
She feels the gust of wind from above her.
A blast of dragon-flame burns Evarai's skin, making Him scream.
She looks up.
Flying towards them, welts and wounds apparent on his scaled body, his horns arranged on his head like a crown, is Bahamut.
"You disappoint me, Evarai!", he bellows, "I've been taking down your two-bit toadies since I was a whelp!"
She flies up towards him, casting a freezing spell on Evarai in the process.
"Bahamut!", she yells, "Ryu is dead!"
"I know. We had this planned.", he responds, extending his wings to stall his flight.
"Who?", she demands, "Who had this planned?"
His vision clears, into a barren field.
He can make out the figures there, barely, as he's pulled towards them.
But one of them....is in the background. Out of his sight.
The other two, though, he recognizes.
"Hello, brother.", Teepo says, grabbing him by the shoulders, and pulling him down from his haze.
The other is a middle-aged woman, with leathery wings.
He's seen her in two places.
First, in the Dauna mines.
Second, in a hologram.
She smiles, sadly.
"Hello, Ryu.", she says, "I have been waiting for you, for so long."
He has to take a minute to realize who she is. How to talk...
"Mom?", he asks.
"Where am I?", he asks, looking about.
"The place where death and life dare not meet. The resting place of the God-clan, when we depart the land of life.", she says, "You have died. You have come here."
"But....the battle. They need me."
"Time passes differently here.", Teepo says, "In hours, only minutes pass in the land of the living. We have been expecting you. You need us, if you are going to destroy Evarai."
"Only the three Kaiser combined can stop him.", Sarah responds, "And that is what we must aid you in. The cycle shall end, soon. And we must tell you how."
Garr sees Evarai burn, again, under Bahamut's flame.
He knows Mari is occupied, leaving him the sole Guardian at the battle of all battles.
He closes his eyes, gripping his spear, pushing away that final tinge of regret at Ryu's passing, and launches himself at Evarai, roaring.
Blast after blast of lightning strikes Evarai, making Him growl, more enraged than wounded.
He sees the wyndian casting the spells, sensing the rage from her feeding His power.
He feels the spear of the guardian penetrating His skin, making His blood boil.
He feels the weapons of the valerian razing His armor, making Him rage even more.
He throws out His arms, summoning his power.
The shockwave expands, striking all of them, sending them back....with the exception of the Brood.
"Try all you will, this ends here, Death Evans."
Evarai roars, His eyes glowing black.
"You speak blasphemy! I am God! God shall not fail!"
"You are a bastard with delusions of granduer. You shall be put in your place."
A bolt of energy strikes Bahamut, sending him back, a hastily thrown shield taking the brunt of the force.
Another spell strikes Him, this one from Deis.
"Clear your minds!", she orders, "He feeds on hate, fear, and grief! Keep him back! Something is about to happen!"
"What can I do? What do I do?", Ryu demands.
"You must combine the three powers of the Kaiser.", Sarah responds, "You will know how. The word that would join many as one."
"The three of us.....but...."
"Your body can still return to life.", Teepo responds, "We pulled you from it. It is a simple extension of your powers."
Teepo places his hands on Ryu's shoulders.
Ryu can feel the power coursing from his brother...to him....
"I don't want to be here.", he says, "I don't want to stay in this limbo. I can't leave, because I'm dead. And because I'm a dead Brood and God-clan, I can't go to the next world. I never asked to be Brood. You always embraced your destiny. Take my power. Use it to destroy that....thing. I will see you, someday. Somewhere, up above."
The plane begins to blurr.
He can hear the echoing sound of his mother's voice.
"Find your way back, Ryu. Everything is in your hands, now..."
And he feels himself being pulled away.
Deis can feel it.
Something is coming.
Radria can sense it.
Everything is beginning to fall into place.
Peco looks up.
Not towards the sky....but somewhere else.
"It's coming.", he whispers.
Ryu feels himself being pulled through the tunnel, towards the land of the living.
Towards where he left, those moments ago....
Where am I? What's happening?
He can feel the barriers made by the demon-god trying to keep him away.
Trying to stop him, to turn him back towards the dead.
A hand reaches out, grabbing his, and pulling him along.
Ryu sees who it is.
A man with azure hair, a face similar to his own.
The man he saw in the picture.....
"This way.", he echoes, pulling him along.
Ryu can see his own body, lying prone by the desperate Mari.
He sees the man floating away.
The man smiles.
"Ladon.", he simply says, and everything flashes white.
Ryu's eyes open with a start, the wound instantly closing.
He sits up, startling Mari.
"About damn time.", she says, "You were out for five minutes."
He stands up, quickly.
He can feel Teepo's gift........
"Mari. Give me your hand.", he says.
"What are you-"
She stands there, for a moment, and places her hand within his.
The air around them.....bends.
Light begins to stream about them, dancing around them.
The energy surrounds them, swirling about in a sphere.
He can feel Mari's hand on his.
He can feel Teepo's on the other.
The power of the three Kaiser.
The power to destroy Evarai.
All he must do is say one word.
The ultimate form of the Fusion gene.
The word that would join many as one.
The Three who are One.
He's seen that translated in Brood.
The Avatar of Ladon.
He opens his lips, and whispers a word.
The world shakes with the power of the silent roar.
Garr and Rei shield their ears, as Evarai begins to falter.
"It's gone into ultrasonics!", Garr announces, turning to Bahamut and Deis.
The door to the chamber shatters, as does much of the wall surrounding it.
Evarai growls, tossing bolts of dark energy at the new arrival.
A bolt of dragonfire deflects them, striking Evarai and singing His armor.
The dragon is Evarai's equal in height and width, with silver, shining wings jutting from its back, horns rising from the back of its head, its eyes gleaming diamonds.
With a blurr of motion, it strikes Evarai, the two behemoths grappling, their stuggle shaking the foundations of the mountain prison.
"What is that?!", Nina demands.
"The Agni.", Garr responds, "The Avatar of Ladon. The three Kaisers joined as one. Three who are One. It seems Ryu has a habit for returning from the dead."
"It's not over yet.", Bahamut says, landing near them, "We need to give Ryu and Mari the time they need to destroy Evans. On my mark, give the Bastard everything you've got."
Bahamut's eyes light up, his nostrils glowing with flame.
He growls, lowly, nodding to Deis.
"I forgot you were a tactician.", she says, her staff beginning to glow.
"We've forgotten too much, love.", he responds, grinning slightly, "Mark!"
The Agni roars as Evarai hammers it with bolts of dark energy, growling in return as the fists of the Avatar slam into Him, cracking His armor.
Another bolt of dragonfire singes Him, as bolts of lightning strike from above.
Torrents of flame well up from above, Garr chanting nearby.
Blue beams of energy raze His scales.
Violet beams strike Him back.
Deis flies in, right towards the Agni's eye.
"Ryu! Mari!", she yells, "If you can hear me, get ready! We'll hold Him back as long as we can!"
The massive dragon nods, wings stretching out as it flies back.
"Now!", Vaevictus yells.
Above the mountain, reality begins to distort.
A point of light pries open the sky, extending out into a swirling vortex.
The mountain begins to open.
The ceiling above Evarai begins to open, sunlight peaking through.
The Agni rears its head back, its scales beginning to faintly glow.
Its eyes glow brightly, as energy begins streaming all around it.
It opens its mouth, light gathering at the center, forming into a gathering sphere.
The wings extend out, lightning crackling over them.
Bahamut gives the signal, Deis teleporting them all behind the Agni.
The Avatar stands tall, a shockwave rippling out as the energy converges into it.
It lunges its head forward, and roars.
The sphere of power, accompanied by a torrent of dragonflame, lances out.
Evarai can only scream.
The sphere strikes Him dead center, the flame enveloping Him, burning Him, hurting Him.
Bright shafts of light begin to pierce out of His body, illuminating the chamber in a ghostly light.
Momo's eyes go wide as she looks over the scanner.
"My.......the readings are going off the charts!", she announces.
"Then turn the scanner off.", Garr says, "Look away. This is not a sight meant for mortal eyes."
The others look away, as Garr and Deis stare on.
Evarai screams in agony as the white light consumes Him, tearing off His own arm, another torrent of energy streaming out.
He bellows in pure terror as the shafts of light begin to stream from His eyes and His mouth, falling to His knees and implanting Himself on the chamber floor, growing roots and spires.
"N....No! No! This cannot happen!", He screams, as His horns begin to evaporate, "I Am GOD! GOD CANNOT DIE!!!"
His head bursts open, a single, streaming pillar of light shooting out, drilling through the mountain itself, consuming Him.
Radria and Vaevictus, hands intertwined across the pool, scream as the light streams through the sanctuary around them, consuming all but the small circle they inhabit as it passes through the rest of the mountain.
The beam strikes the vortex, flowing into it, the vortex rippling as it is takes the energy in, sending it to its destination.
With a clap of thunder, the vortex closes.
The Demon Realm.
A vortex opens in the center of the kingdom, near the Palace of the Demon King.
Many demons gather around the portal, curious, some flying to it to see what is on the other side.
The massive Demon King, His red scales glowing ominously, His horns twirled about His head, walks out from His palace.
He sees the vortex.
A beam of light bursts through, striking the center of the kingdom.
The demons at the immediate center are consumed in the cleansing fire.
The explosion mushrooms out, consuming the entire plane in a white light, leveling buildings, destroying entire armies, leveling the monuments the dark lord has erected.
As the light begins to advance towards Him, He speaks. Of the warrior who came here, the protector of the Goddess he violated as part of His plan. His plan that has gone so horribly awry.
"Game, set, match to you," He rumbles, "Ladon."
And with that, He is no more.
The light dies down, leaving only the burnt husk of Evarai.
With a low light, the Agni is gone, Ryu and Mari standing in its place.
There is a hole where the ceiling should be.
Rei begins chuckling, looking about, then breaking into a full-out laugh, joined by Kaylenn.
Ryu looks to the two, scratching his head.
He's about to say something, when he feels all the breath escape him as Nina gets him in a crushing embrace.
"Promise me one thing.", she says.
"Not to die on me again."
He smiles, slightly.
"I'll do my best."
Mari taps her foot for a moment, deciding that those two want to be alone.
She walks over to Garr, her spear in hand.
"Not bad.", she says.
"Not bad at all.", he responds, gripping her shoulder.
Radria slowly opens her eyes.
All, save the circle she and Vaevictus were in, has been charred.
The vortex has been closed....she can only guess what happened on the other side.
She feels something cold on her hands.
She turns, to Vaevictus.....and sees only crystal.
"It much have been too much of a strain.", she whispers, and touches his forehead, "Rest well, Vaevictus Asmadi. You have completed your task. It is over."
And with that, she silently walks out.
It was a beautiful wedding.
It was also most unusual.
Driving away Myria....that was generally unknown. It would have made them martyrs and pariahs in most places.
But the destruction of the Death Evans.....
That made them heroes.
And a heroes celebration they had.
All were in attendance, from a beaming King Nolan Windia, to his wife....who was not to beaming.
The newly crowned King Bahamut....and Queen Deis....were also there.
Garr gave away the bride.
Kaylenn and Rei were the best men, Mari and Momo maids of honor.
And as for the priest.....well, priestess...
"Do you, Prince Ryu Asmadi," Radria says, "Take Princess Nina Windia to be your lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, till death do you part?"
Ryu feels Nina jab him in the arms. Death was not something to bring up around them.
"I do.", he says.
"And do you, Princess Nina Windia, take Prince Ryu Asmadi to be your lawfully wedded husband, to have and to hold, till......"
Radria nods to Nina, having learned her lesson.
"I do.", she responds.
"Then, in the name of Ladon, the Goddess, and those who watch over us," Radria says, "I now pronounce you Man and Wife. You may now kiss the bride."
And what came after?
Ryu's suspicions were clarified when Deis and Bahamut were formally married, ruling the Dragon-Clan side by side.
Momo and Kaylenn....well, we don't know if they ever eloped. But he did soften, over time. Eventually, she went with him on one of the valerian warships, to the homeworld of the valerian race. I guess you could say she was....'Happy as a clam'.
Rei joined them, but during the trip, he stole a flyer, and left. He found the mother race of the Woren....but that's another story.
Peco was one with the planet, nurturing it and healing it from its past. He is there this very day, all around us. Some call him Gaea, Mother Earth, or, well...Father Planet is more appropriate. Never bothered to look.
Radria became the high priestess of the Brood, taking Vaevictus's place as the elder.
Mari became leader of a new breed of Guardians, dedicated to protecting the world from all threats, and using her powers as Kaiser to protect the world as a Guardian should.
Ryu and Nina lived happily ever after, Nina giving birth to a child a year after they were married. And even the Queen, who so adamantly objected to Ryu's eloping with Nina, could not deny that this child was a sign of things to come. That the child was, indeed, special.
The child had wings.
And as for Garr.....
Two weeks after the wedding of Ryu and Nina.
Garr stands at the cliff of the Urkan training ground, still charred and damaged from Mari's Ascension.
He hears her footsteps, turning to the young Guardian.
"I wanted to see you off.", Mari says, "Why are you leaving?"
"Myria has left this world.", he responds, "And has gone to another. If She has not changed Her ways, and would bring harm like She has, before, She will need someone to oppose Her."
"And if She has changed Her ways?", she asks.
"And if She has changed Her ways," Garr continues, "If She does mean well, and would aid a world, and better it.....then She would need a Guardian, by her side."
They smile, faintly, for a moment.
"You will do well in my absence.", he says, placing a hand on her shoulder, "I will most likely not return."
"I will do my best, Guardian Garr.", she says, "I will protect this world, as we were meant to do."
He smiles, slightly.
He extends his wings out, feeling the wind under them.
"Walk with the Goddess, Guardian Mari.", he says.
"Walk with the Goddess, Guardian Garr.", she responds.
With a flap of his wings, he rises into the air.
Mari watches, faintly smiling, as he disappears into the distance.
She turns, and walks back to the life she has just found....and the future that awaits her, the last of the Guardians.
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