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The Story of Palis A continuing story of worlds trapped in war, where their only hope are Heroes from other worlds.

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Old 02-27-2005, 05:02 AM   #1
 
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Palis, Chapter one. Allience!

It was a dark, just turning to sunrise. Gracia gleamed in the sunlight as it came over the mountains. A faint wind from the east rang chimes and rustled the leaves. The soldiers in front of the palace changed watch. The sound of footsteps quickly raised as people left their homes to attend the Royal Court of Ishia for Morning Prayer. The center coliseum of Gracia held every one of its one hundred and seventy thousand citizens.

Ishia had ruled Gracia for almost seven hundred years now, yet she still looked as though she was only in her twenties. As she came to the center of court all began to cheer wildly. Today was the anniversary of her 699th year as the queen. She raised her hand in silence.

“Thank you all for coming today, as you all know today I pass another year on as being your chosen leader. I thank you for your support and am happy to say I will be here for many years to come.” She said with a soft voice that all could hear. “Today I would like to introduce you to our newest member of council, Brius Osidius.”

A quite cheer followed.

“Thank you all for your warm welcome. I will do my best as the newly appointed general of the west legions. May honor guide us to more victories then the following year.” Brius said loudly.

Morning Prayer went on for server more hours; many new things were to be discussed this morning.

Meanwhile in a city seven miles south of Gracia Nichi sat on the north most tower of Vesta. He held a telescope to his right eye and watched the Morning Prayer in disgust.

“When will these simple people learn to have their meeting under a roof, anyone could attack them.” Nichi shook his head

“Well getting over the coliseums walls are anything but easy my friend. The fact that you can even see from here is only due to the elevation. Being a good thirteen thousand feet above the walls is one thing. You know Gracia is very well protected.” The tower guard said while smoking his last cigarette. The guard was a wolven, half human half wolf, how he held the cigarette still confused Nichi.

“That all well and all but the Kain and his friends do have dragons, I have seen and slayed countless ones, they are not easy in numbers and if Kain should ever be so wise to mount his men on them it would spell disaster to the free world.” Nichi said as he got to his feet.

“Off to get your next bounty?”

“No off to get breakfast.” They haven’t had any good jobs for me recently, Nichi thought to himself. As Nichi lowered himself onto the ladder a medium red dragon was spotted of the southern tower. “Time for the morning workout I guess instead.”

Nichi jumped off the tower and landed on all fours he picked his sword off the wall by the base of the tower and ran towards the south tower. The dragon was circling the south tower as Nichi arrived and threw all the weight into his sword to throw him to the top of the tower. Nichi landed off foot and twisted with his sword almost hitting the tower guard with the end of his sword.
“Out of the way old man!” Nichi yelled at the man who darted down the ladder. Nichi’s eyes turned a burning yellow as he started chanting a flight spell. This wind around him brought him face to face with the dragon and within a couple of moments Nichi returned to the ground with his sword in one hand and the dragons head in the other.

‘Yet another boring day’ Nichi thought as he walked to his house and prepared something to eat and fell asleep.

Fire, all around him fire. The city was falling. The fire clan had sprung a surprise attack on the ice village. Nichi watched as his father and brother were torn apart by the fierce blade of the Rigutsu Warriors. Nichi’s eyes turned that burning yellow for the first time. Watching the others fight he gained several new abilities and with the new found power snapped. Unleashing all sorts of massive attacks he managed to overwhelm the Rigutsu Warriors that had killed his brother and father. After killing them he picked up the sword that had killed his kin. It was seven feet long and over two feet wide, bout it only seemed to weigh a couple of ounces. The yellow of his eyes turned almost red. He began to slay man after man and with the rising of the sun he came to notice he was the only person alive in the village. He then also noticed a strange wind that was lightly pulling him, it slowly got stronger and stronger. He held tight to the sword as he was pulled into the darkness of the origin of the winds. Nichi woke in a strange new land. Before him stood a man of metal over sixty feet in height, before him stood the doors to the Gracian City.

Nichi woke in a cold sweat. Twenty one years and he still had the same dream at the beginning of each New Year. Palis had become his new home, but he was still unable to come to love it will all his heart. Somehow the weapon that killed his kin felt closer to him then even his home.
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Old 02-27-2005, 12:43 PM   #2
 
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Earth, The Year Infinity, The End Of Time

"You know something, old man, tell me what it is now!" shouted Magus. He picked up the old man and threw him across the floating block. "Schala isn't anywhere in time, I've checked. I've been everywhen, and I can't find her. Something happened to her with Lavos. I want you to tell me NOW!"

The old man got up and brushed himself off. "Magus... Janus. I don't know where or when Schala is. I don't..." The old man got a face full of fire.

"Don't piss me off, Gaspar. You're the Guru Of Time. You of all people would know what happened to Schala," said Magus. "She vanished after Lavos appeared in the Ocean Palace. Tell me how to find her. Now."

Gaspar shook his head. "Very well, Janus. She went through a different portal - one that led to another world. The portal was only open for a split second, but it opened again years later, for a few more seconds."

Magus grabbed Gaspar by the neck. "My name is Magus. Do not forget that, old man. Now, where and when will this portal appear?"

Gaspar shook his head. "After the incident in 12,000 BC. It was in the hall of the Mammon Machine. That's when Schala went through. It only reappeared at 1:24 PM on The Day Of Lavos. Right where Lavos broke the surface."

Magus did some quick temporal calculations in his head. "You do realize that gives me about half a second to get to the portal before Lavos blocks it, right?" Gaspar nodded. Magus thought for a bit more. "And then in this other world, I'll appear almost fourteen thousand years after Schala showed up. How am I going to find her then? I doubt that this other world has such permeable time as ours does."

Gaspar shook his head. "Ja... Magus, don't worry. I've been keeping tabs on that portal. The way time bends around it, going through it in 1999 AD won't send you very far ahead compared to going through in 12,000 BC. I'd say a maximum of a week's difference in the other world. It may be fourteen thousand years here, but it's only a week's difference there."

Magus nodded thoughtfully. "Seven days. She can't be in too much trouble in seven days." He walked over to a bucket, turned toward Gaspar, and gave a gracious bow. "Farewell, O Wise Guru, I shan't see you again until I return with Schala."

The Guru gave a small chuckle. "Just so you know, you should arrive at the beginning of the 699th year of Ishia. Keep that in mind if anyone mentions the date or Queen Ishia or something.

Magus turned back to the bucket and stared at the depths. He felt himself get whisked away through time...

*********************************
Earth, The Year 1999 AD, The Day Of Lavos

Magus flew out of the Time Gate and started heading to the break point - where Lavos would pierce the surface. He also had to make sure that Crono's team didn't see him trying to get through the portal when they battled Lavos. Hidden in a nearby tree, Magus heard Robo's robotic voice, "1999 AD! At 1:24!"

Magus shot out of the tree at the portal that had just appeared in the air. At the same instant, the ground split open as the giant spiked shell of Lavos began to rise out from the core. Molten rocks fired into the air. Magus veered out of their way, still focused on the portal. He increased his flying speed to the absolute maximum. He reached the portal just as the topmost spike of Lavos's shell managed to reach there as well.

********************************************
Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, Just Outside The Walls Of Gracia

Magus was thrown violently through the portal and slammed into the ground. He had a huge gash on his chest from where Lavos's spike tore at him as he flew through the portal. A dragon slowly circled overhead, descending towards Magus's prone form. With his last ounce of strength, Magus pointed at the dragon and whispered the words, "Black Hole." The dragon was suddenly enveloped in an orb of darkness, which slowly closed in until the dragon had vanished. Magus understood how lucky he was - that spell rarely worked, especially against things more powerful than generic soldiers or goblins or the like. Magus finally noticed the huge gash on his torso. He swore loudly and promptly passed out.
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Old 02-28-2005, 06:03 PM   #3
 
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The town was dead. It looked like a ghost town out of an old western movie. Malice looked around, scanning for any sign of life, but there we not a sound to be made. He looked to the left, to the marketplace. Carts of fresh days produce lined the stands. He looked again to his right to find only the sign of the inn swaying in the wind.

This is wrong he thought. Where are all the people? Has the threat the elders told me about already got to them?

Suddenly, he heard a boisterous cheer from the circular building behind him. From the amplitude of the cheers, Malice estimated the building was carrying over 100,000 people. He walkedd along the sandy streets toward the coliseum, wondering what all the cheering was about. His walk was totally in silence. Not a soul presented itself.

They must really like their leader if they all go to worship him , he thought once more.

As Malice reached the coliseum, he realized just how big the building really was. The decorative arches that marked the entranceway stood at least 150 feet over his head. He stared up at the art finely chisseled into the building's stone, and squinted as the light of the midday sun bounced off it and into his eyes. This truly was a marvellous sight, He woud've liked to meet whoever had built this impressive building.

Another cheer erupted from the building, this one much louder. Malice judged this because the echo a place of this size would creature would be enormous.
They must be celebrating something.

Malice strode through the arches and into a lobby of sorts. A giant stone staircase met his gaze, and he quickly mounted it. The giant stairs seemed to take him forever to climb, but when he reached the top, he was in awe of what he saw.

Thousands of people were packed into the stands before him, all still cheering loudly. Their joyful respite was all addressed to the stage in the centre, to a young woman.

She's their leader? Why, shes no older than I am? he said out loud with a chuckle.

The woman raised her hand, and the cheering stopped. She spoke.

"That will be all for today my fellow countrymen. Remember, at any indication of the other factions in our town, you will run and tell General Rufin, and he and his retainers will handle the issue. If you'd like to become a retainer, then sign up in town hall, but don't try to be a hero. The outside factions are dangerous enough, and we still don't know what stirred them to invade Gracia. Remember, you are all children of Ishia. May the gods be with you."

There was applause this time, and the sound of citizens rising from their seats. Footsteps drew closer to Malice, and he quickly remembered his elders words of warning:

"Malice, you are gone to scout out for anyone who would be able to pick up on magic quickly. Do not cause a stir, and avoid all problems if you can. Stay under the radar."

The town was looking for members of a renegade faction, and the sight of someone who didn't resemble themselves could make them uneasy. He was to avoid all problems, and he'd do just that. He heard the voices of the townsfolk nearing, and riding the current of the air, he became one with the air, invisible to the untrained eye.

He slipped into the wall, unseen.

He stayed in his cloaked form until the majority of the people has left. When silence surrounded him, he slowly slipped out of his guise. He walked into the stands and looked around. The previously filled seats were now empty.

He heard voices from the centre of the stage. Riding the currents silently, he slipped to the base of the stage - staying out of sight - to ensure he'd hear it. The young woman was still standing there, with the man she'd refered to as Rufin. He listened intently as they spoke.

"Rufin, you've known me for a long time, but I don't think I can go on with this charade. The townsfolk suspect a renegade faction. They don't know the real cause of our distress. I fear that if they knew, panic would ensue, and we'd lose all hope of defending the town." Ishia said.

"Then why tell them of any danger?" Rufin. "Let them lead their lives, clueless."

"I'm afraid it's not that easy. The owner of the inn said he found a strange coloured crystal in one of his rooms. It was a daemon stone, a corrupted stone. This problem is over our heads."

Malice was so engaged in the conversation, that he didn't realize that he'd been slipping the whole time. He adjusted his stepping, and gravel scattered along the ground.

"What was that Rufin?" Ishia asked.

Rufin leaned over the side and spotted Malice.

"My leige, it appears we have a trespasser. No doubt from a renegade faction."

Malice spoke, trying to defend himself. "Faction, no. I can assure you I mean no harm."

But Rufin didn't buy it. "Nice try stranger... RETAINERS, COME TO MY AID."

Eight retainers armed with swords and bows appeared from various entrances in the stands. They all drew their bows, and knocked arrows.

"Please sir Rufin," Malice said cooly. "I really don't want to do this. I do not want to test my strength against yours, for I fear we will need to unite soon."

"Nonsense boy, you will taste the arrows of my retainers. FIRE"

The arrows were released from their bows, and they flew through the air toward Malice, who was now standing on the stage.

"I warn you General," Malice said. He took stance, his feet shoulder width apart, his arms out to his side. He spun around, creating a small whirlwind. The arrows struck the wind, and fell harmlessly to the floor.

"Attack him, Draw your Swords!" Rufin commanded, and the retainers ran.

Malice looked past Rufin to Ishia. He bowed. "I'm sorry to have met you under these conditions, but for now I will retreat. May the gods be with you Lady Ishia."

He bent down, and took off from the stage, riding the currents of the wind. He saluted Ishia, and nodded to the general and his men, and sped off through the sky. In order to avoid fuss, he cloaked himself, and left the outer walls. The grand walls of Gracia fell behind him as he flew toward the nearby forest, where he'd make camp. He silently cursed himself for his display, but hoped that he could make things right before it was too late, and the threat was upon them.

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Old 02-28-2005, 10:17 PM   #4
 
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Nichi stood up and walked to the door which someone had been knocking at.

“Who is it?” Nichi Yawned

“Bounty from the capital!” the boy said.

Nichi opened the door and took the scroll. He read it and left quickly. ‘Another elemental’ he thought with a happy grin to himself.

He disappeared into the woods and using a walk of wind spell ran silently through the woods. He smelled the burning of wood. He was close. Nichi used ice to cover his sent and approached undetected. He sat and watched as a boy sat looking over a scroll as his food cooked. He noticed the mark of wind; it was different from his own worlds mark but undoubtedly similar. The only clan he could remember to be evil was the ghost clans.

Looking at the scroll still the boy said “The winds never lie to me, I could feel you coming.”

As Nichi had thought wind clan for sure. The boy threw a stone the opposite direction that Nichi was hiding in hitting an ice copy of Nichi.

“What the hell? A copy?” the boy seemed a little flustered by the thought he had read things wrong.

“Over here, your skills are very good however, I know how they work, setting up a copy wasn’t too hard to do and make you not focus on me.” Nichi stood from the bush he was hiding in and stepped forwards. You caused a bit of a scene in town today. Rufin is a moron though and never lets the queen talk. Ishia wishes to meet you, and you will weather or not you wish it.”

The boy turned and looked at the guy standing in front of him. His eyes looked as thought they were on fire and the sword he carried dwarfed him. “Who might I have the pleasure of meeting?”

“I am Nichi, bounty hunter and servant of the castle, well sort of.” With that Nichi sat down and pulled out an apple and started to eat it. “How about you boy, who are you and what did you have to say Ishia?”

“I am Malice, I am from Theira and I was sent to deliver a scroll to the queen about recent problems with the dark crystals.” The boy looked into Nichi’s eyes as they turned back to looking normal. “What’s with your eyes?”

“They were reading you. I can sense change in blood pressure and increases in stress. I am a lie detector of sorts. Just making sure your not here to kill the queen that would be bad you know. I mean she has kept this part of the world safe for almost seven hundred years now you know.

Malice’s jaw dropped, seven hundred years. “I had no idea she was that old, she looks younger then you.”

“That’s the beauty of being the leader of this land, as long as she is loved and this land remains good she will never die, and as long as she doesn’t die this land stays without disaster, famine or drought, and how she is loved.” Nichi said as he finished his apple.

“How come you have not attacked me and restrained me?” Malice said uncomfortably.

“I’m not as much of a bonehead as Rufin; I know you want to talk to her so you’ll come peacefully. And besides that you have no chance of running from me.” Nichi said calmly

Malice looked up at Nichi again. Malice blinked and Nichi was gone. Malice looked close at were Nichi had been sitting, it was slightly wet. Nichi hadn’t been there for a while he realized, he had been talking to a copy this whole time. ‘He’s watching me from someplace I’d better not do anything rash.’ Malice said as he picked up his cooked food and began to eat.

In the trees about fifty feet above Malice, Nichi watched him. ‘He’s much smarted then most I will have to see what comes of this.’ Nichi pulled out a comic book and began to read. Tonight would be a slow one again.

Malice finished his food and went to sleep. As the sun rose he looked around for Nichi and gathered his stuff and headed back to Gracia.

Malice saw the form of Nichi standing near the gate into Gracia. He was holding a young boy in his arms. “I found him here when I came into town this morning, looks like he just came from the other side.”

Malice followed Nichi into town as Nichi carried the young boy. They came to the coliseum and walked in the main door and went to the center were Ishia stood. She was wearing blue genes, a white shirt and sandals Malice was confused by the way she dressed.

“Can you heal this young man he seems to have taken quit a bit of damage? It seems he just came from the other side.” Nichi said to Ishia

“Of course!” Ishia said as she touched the boy and instantly healed him. “So this is the boy I had the pleasure of having scared away from me by Rufin. So why is it you have come to see me?” Ishia’s long blond hair and beautiful blue eyes dazed Malice.

“Don’t stare at her too much boy she can hurt you a lot worse then you think.” Nichi said chuckling

“I came from Theira with a message from my leaders.” He handed her the scroll and bowed.

The boy on the ground that had just been healed started to come around. “Where am I?”

“Gracia palace in Palis.” Ishia said to the boy
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Old 02-28-2005, 10:41 PM   #5
 
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Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, Just Outside The Walls Of Gracia

Magus came to several hours later. He struggled to stand up and finally found his balance. With a loud swear he decided to fly over the wall to see what was there.

"What the... DAMN IT ALL!" he shouted. Apparently the wound on his chest was worse than he'd thought - all except his most basic magic was fried, including his limited flying ability. With a couple of quick spell words, he pointed at the ground.

********************************
Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, Gracia Colloseum

A loud explosion sounded from just outside the walls. Malice, Nichi, and Queen Ishia all whipped their heads in its direction.

"The hell was that?" asked Nichi.

******************************************
Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, High Over The Walls Of Gracia

A long string a swear words erupted from Magus's mouth. All he'd done was cast a simple Dark Bomb spell to launch himself over the wall, but he made a slight miscalculation with the amount of power he allowed into it. In effect, he was flying much further over the walls than he had anticipated.

********************************
Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, Gracia Colloseum

The purple spot over the walls was getting ever closer. Nichi and Malice drew their weapons, expecting a fight. what they got was a man in a purple cloak landing right in front of them.

Magus stood up and dusted himself off. He looked up at their weapons, then immediately put his hands up. "Calm yourselves. I'm not going to hurt any of you..." He grinned, showing his teeth and two fangs. "At least, I won't hurt any of you yet. Depends on how much you hurt me."

Malice stepped forward. "And you would be...?"

Magus answered, "My name is Magus, and I am here to-" He collapsed from exhaustion.

Queen Ishia looked over at Magus's crumpled form. "He looks pretty bad. Let's help him inside - we can continue our conversation there."
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Old 02-28-2005, 11:38 PM   #6
 
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While Magus slept, Malice took the opportunity to explain his position to Ishia. They sat around a circular wooden table. Under Ishia's order, Nichi was serving them all hot tea to drink, but as he did so he shot begrudging looks. Having stated that he was a bounty hunter, Malice figured he didn't like doing the little jobs, or playing host.

The room around them was very plain. The same stone coliseum walls surrounded them, and there was a small kitchen and a table; the table where they sat. There were no decorations or intricate stone workings on the walls like Malice had seen on the outside of the temple. There was also a small bed in the corner. The room didn't seem to be organized for any specific purpose.

"Before we get started Ishia, I must ask, what room is this?" Malice asked.

"This is my secondary living quarters. I portray the image of a stern ruler, but on the inside, I'm fairly plain, and don't need alot to survive. I give back to the city as best I can." she replied.

"Well from what I can see, you run a fairly good city," Malice said with a grin on his face.

"And I see I don't intimidate you either, Malice. You say you're from Theira, and I believe you, but I don't understand. Theira usually stays veiled. They don't like visitors, and not many people know they exist. I've met with Elder Frobhai many a time, but besides him and his two guards, I've never seen another Theirian. I do not even know the whereabouts of your island. So I wonder, why has he sent you and not come himself?" Her face bore a concerned look.

Malice pulled out an unopened scroll and handed it to Ishia. "He told me to give this to you. I have yet to lay eyes on it. He said he must remain in Theira and monitor the situation from there, but he sends his regards."

Ishia took the scroll and smiled. The smile was warm and delicate, and only then did Malice understand how she had reigned for so long. She looked down and unrolled it and began to read. As she read, Nichi spoke up.

"So those strange markings, did you do those yourself?" he commented.

"Bah, we're born with them, us Theirians. Pretty cool huh?" Malice said playfully.

Nichi didn't even smirk. "Yea I guess."

Malice noticed the stone faced bounty hunter. "Ahh cmon rusty lighten up. Don't talk much do yea?"

"I let my sword do the talking. MNaybe you should try the same."

"Sorry fella, don't carry a sword." He pulled out his daggers, and twirled them around, putting on a show for Nichi. "But these babies do just fine I find."

From the other side of the table, Ishia gasped. Both Nich and Malive looked up at her. Her gentle face had changed to a look of shock. After a moment she looked up and addressed the two.

"Malice, what do you know about this?" she asked.

Malice shrugged. "I know nothing. I was supposed to deliver this to you and look out for any able fighters while keeping myself out of trouble. Why what's wrong?"

"You know of the crystal forge, yes?"

Malice's eyes widened. There was a problem with the crystal shrine? That would potenitally lead to the corruption of all the crystals that figureheaded the great cities. "Yes I know of it. It lies in the heart of Theira. It regulates the aura of the crystals, keeping corruption out of them. What has happened to the crystal forge?"

"Something has set it off, and the crystals are becoming unstable. They're preparing to launch the 4 great daemons. That would lead the world to dismay. Elder Frobhai has asked that you journey to the nearby villages and contact the neutral factions. If we can recruit them, then we might be able to stop whoever is behind the corruption of the crystal forge." She paused and looked at them, letting them absorb the shock. "Your elder has also asked that I send an able bodied man to assist you. Nichi, I would like you to go with Malice."

A voice came from the bed behind them. "I would like to go too. There is someone that I'm searching for, and exposure to the world will give me a better chance of finding her."

All three spun around to find Magus resting himself on his scythe. He was up and moving, but still straining.

Nichi was the first to speak. "If you can keep up, you can come little man."


Magus smirked, "Not only will I keep up, i'll beat you there."

"You must go, the crystals are becoming unstable. The minor crystals will release minor daemons, but there are 4 big crystals, located at the top of the castles of the four main kingdoms of Palis. The crystal of divine faith tops Gracia castle."

In the distance there was a small explosion. Dust shook off the roof, and footsteps quickly neared the room. Rufin swung open the door gasping.

"Ishia, the crystal we found in the inn, it released its power," he said panting.

"How bad's the damage?" Ishia asked.

"Not bad yet, but theres a ruby dragon roaming around town square."

Ishia looked to the three hero's, and they nodded.

"We're on it," Malice said.

"Who made you boss," Nich muttered under his breath.

The three ran out of the room and towards town square.
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Old 03-01-2005, 05:11 PM   #7
 
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Earth, The Year 590 AD, Truce Canyon

A blue portal opened up and a small boy fell out. A number of imps quickly swarmed around him, until a fat green monster appeared and saved him.

"W-who are you?" asked the boy.

"I'm Ozzie, leader of the Mystics. Who are you?"

"My name is Janus. A m-monster popped up in the Ocean Palace and I-I ended up here," said the litte boy through his tears.

Ozzie put his arm around the boy. "Don't worry, Janus. You can come and join the Mystics! But we're gonna need a better name for you. How does Magus sound?"

The little boy Janus looked up at Ozzie and smiled. "Magus..."

******************************
Earth, The Year 600 AD, Magus's Tower

"Neuga, ziena, zieber, zom... Now the chosen time has come... Exchange this world for...!"

"Magus!"

Magus turned around, his eyes flaring. Who dared to interrupt him while he was summoning Lavos? Who would bother the great Magus during a spell? He whirled around and came face to face with that which was once known as Glenn... at least, before Magus had cursed him to turn into a frog. It looked like the spell only half worked, anyway; although the skin and facial features were those of a frog, he was still humanoid. "I... it's that stupid frog! Kissed any princesses lately?" Magus stuttered.

Glenn, now called Frog, drew the legendary sword Masamune and pointed it right at Magus. "I rather enjoy this form. And I oweth it all to you! I have something for you!"

Magus closed his eyes, knowing that a confrontation was inevitable. "Ah... The Masamune! I bet you're just dying to use it! The black wind begins to blow... Okay... give me your best shot... If you're prepared for the void!"

Frog's strength, combined with the Masamune and his new friends, proved too much for Magus to handle. Unfortunately, Lavos awoke and hurled everyone in the room through time.

***********************************
Earth, The Year 12,000 BC, The Ocean Palace

"I’ve been waiting for you, Lavos. I swore long ago... that I'd destroy you! No matter what the price! It is time to fulfill that vow. Feel my wrath, Lavos!" With those words, Magus discarded the cloak he had worn while acting as "The Prophet." Unfortunately, although Magus was strong, Lavos was stronger. With a powerful blast it knocked everyone in the room to the ground. Magus noticed one person stand up. It was Crono, a young man who had battled Magus back in 600 AD while he was summoning the awful creature before them. Crono walked up, raised his sword to deliver a blow, and...

Magus watched the sword clatter to the ground. He couldn't believe what had just happened. He continued to watch as the three Gurus and Janus... himself... entered the room. With horror, the events of so long ago replayed themselves before his eyes. He saw Schala's pendant flash and he was teleported to safety.

*********************************
Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, Gracia

"Hey, Magus, snap out of it!" shouted Nichi.

Malice laughed. "You'll never beat us moving at that speed!"

Magus chuckled. "Oh, you want me to go FAST, is that it?" he asked. A slight whooshing sound was heard as he blew past them. They turned the corner and found the dragon lumbering over them.

Malice started whipping up some wind, and Nichi started blasting the dragon with ice.

Magus hurled a couple of ice spells at the dragon, then stopped altogether. To anyone else, it seemed as if he had just completely left his own head.

All I need is a good memory. Just one. I just need to think of a memory that fills me with enough hatred. Just need one. Ah... of course! When I saw myself and the gurus get sucked up... perfect!

Suddenly Magus flew up into the air, giving a salute. The words "Dark Matter!" thundered from his lips and suddenly the dragon was bombarded by the strongest magic Magus had to offer. It screamed in agony, blasting fire to take him out of the sky.

Magus plummetted towards the ground. Malice quickly formed a cushion of air to catch him.

Nichi, however, had other plans. With a scream, he launched himself onto the dragon's back. He coated his knives with ice and plunged them into the dragon's skin. As the dragon tried to throw him off, the blades ripped up most of its back.

Malice, having revived Magus, spun around to deliver a blow to the dragon. Magus cast another minor ice spell, this time on the sword, to augment its damage.

The dragon screamed in agony, spewing fire all around. Nichi formed an ice barrier over himself, and Magus cast a defensive spell on himself and Malice. Another blow from Malice's sword finished the dragon.

"Wow, you can actually PROTECT people?" asked Malice.

Magus shrugged. "Weak spell. Only non-damaging one I've got, and it doesn't work against physical attacks. Only things magical in nature, such as spells or a dragon's breath, are deflected by it, and even then not too well."

Nichi laughed. "We'll have to keep that in mind. Now let's see this crystal."
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Old 03-02-2005, 11:27 PM   #8
 
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Nichi watched Magus and Malice on the ground after the attack. Nichi sighed as he decided it was time to ju7st use a better skill. A white ball of energy formed on his right hand and grew to about the size of a baseball. He ran at the dragon avoiding his first direct attack and landed the fist right into the side of the dragons head. With a loud cry and lots of snapping sounds the whole neck of the dragon twisted sever dozen times all the way down to the body. If fell dead and the wind blew away the ashes, leaving behind the clear and empty crystal that was once its soul, Nichi stomped it with his boot.

“Are you two all…..” Nichi said as he collapsed from exhaustion. Spiral took way to much energy from him, Nichi hadn’t rested recently and was low on energy to perform such a powerful move was smart only in there was only one monster.

Malice stood up and looked over at Nichi in awe. “Are you all right?” he said as he picked up Nichi’s head and tried to get him to focus his eyes.

“I’m ok, just needing some rest. I used a lot of energy last night stalking you and then didn’t sleep last night. It was unwise to you one of my best moves.” Nichi said as he slowly got to his feet. Ishia entered the court were they had been fighting and ran over to Nichi and started using a healing spell to recover his strength.

Magus stood up and turned his back to them and started walking towards the coliseum. “Were we staying, I think we all need rest.” Yawning as he walked away.

“I’ll get you all a room, don’t worry.” Ishia said frowning at the kid as he walked off.

Later that day Malice and Magus were shown to the guest room of Ishia’s palace, it was quite and comfortable, and plenty of room for the three to stay the night, however Nichi never came.

“I wonder were Nichi is?” Malice said looking around the room interested in the craftsmanship of the moldings.

“Don’t know don’t care, let me sleep and I’ll care later, but now is now and I’m tired now so leave me be.” Magus said dozing off.

Malice looked at Magus and stuck out his tong in defiance. He decided to leave the room and try to find Nichi.

Nichi sat in his favorite room; the walls were covered with books and scrolls of great warriors’ stories and the skills of them all. He had spent the first sixteen years of his life just reading and practicing the powers of all his Heros. His new mom had taken very good care of him and saw to it that he had become so powerful.

“So Mom, do you think they can help stop this evil? Nichi said looking at the girl in the corner.

“You know your older then me in appearance now, you don’t need to call me mom anymore, I’m just someone who cares for you. Yes I do think they could help stop this. But you should wait for more. To come, I know that two more are to come, that is what the wise man said to me.” Ishia said looking at her only loved one that had stayed alive in the time she had with them. So many people she cared about had died in the past, and Nichi was the only one that managed not to leave her.

Malice came to the door and listened, he was surprised by this new information and intrigued as well.

“You can come in you know. We don’t have any secrets to keep from you.” Ishia said and the door opened.

Malice walked into the room and bow and sat down. “How bad is it?”

Ishia sighed. “The four generals are already awake. They are not on the move yet only because they are not at full power, but with them awake many more attack will follow I am afraid.”

Nichi sat to the side reading a scroll, His eyes a bright red.

“I’ve been meaning to ask you Nichi, why is it your eyes change like that?” Malice said calmly.

“I crossed over to this world after a great fight in my town broke out. During that fight I became so enraged and felt so helpless that I opened myself to a new power. My eyes when they look at different powers see how they are done and teach me how to copy them, because of this I can learn almost anything, but it drains me a lot more to use someone else’s powers over my own, so I read these books, by both reading and copying they become my powers and therefore a lot more useful to me. Why my eyes change, just to read a little closer.” Nichi said without lifting his head from the scroll.

Interesting, a copy ninja, not too unlike a doppelganger Malice thought. “So you could copy any move?”

Looking up now Nichi said. “No, I can’t physically copy fire, for it would tear me apart. I can also only copy a magic spell to be around 1/10th of its original strength. Also anything that is blood based, such as your wind powers are completely out of my range. I am best with Ninja art, fighting styles, and stances.”

They talked for several more minutes, but sleep was calling both of them and they left shortly after to sleep.

Nichi dreamed of the usual. Malice dreamed Nichi’s dream, Magus snored.
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Old 03-03-2005, 07:07 PM   #9
 
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In the dead of the night, a quiet clicking could be heard reverberating down the halls. Perfectly measured, like a metronome, only this tune was anything but a joyous classic. The Guards slept peacefully as the noise passed, drawing closer and closer to the room our travelers were resting in. Soon, an eeiry soft whistling accompanied it.

Whispers permeated the still night air. "What creature slouches towards bethlehem..."

If the guards had been awake, they would have questioned him. But instead, he calmly walked along, silver cane tapping against the floor, ringing an almost minute tone. "Where shadows lie..."

Flitting behind him, a small pixie. She was buzzing around, wall to wall and door to door.

"For the rag man will get you if you do..."

He paused, and tapped his cane to his hat brim. It rang softly again. He stepped infront of a door.

"And my soul shall be lifted from that floor..."

He turned the handle.

"Nevermore..." he whispered. He gazed upon the sleeping party, slowly moving a chair to the corner. He leaned back, tapping his cane on the ground twice.

If you were a god, or omnicient being, you would have questioned the tone, and how the air seemed more... normal now.

He watched as the spell came free. Nichi blinked his eyes open. "And now, the fun starts." Belial grinned.
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Old 03-03-2005, 11:29 PM   #10
 
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Nichi had been dreaming his same old dream. It statred the same and it climaxed the same every night. Though this time, as he neared its torturing finish, he was snapped out of slumber by a strange tapping. He stared at the ominous figure that cast its shadow upon him, and he gasped. Nichi hadn't been scared of anything for a long time, but something about this figure chilled him to the bone.

"What is your business here?" Nichi asked sternly, hand on sword.

A chuckle escaped the mans throat, but he did not answer. His cane still tapped rhythmicly on the stone floor.

"I said what is your business here!" Nichi commanded again in a short burst of anger which even surprised himself. The elevated command woke the others from their slumber.

Malice opened his eyes and looked around, not dreary from sleep, but instead fueled by the fright in Nichi's voice. Before he was sitting up, he had his dagger up in the air, and with a twirl he came to rest it on my palm, towards Nichi, the origin of the sound. He saw Nichi, almost frozen as he looked toward the door. Malice drew his attention to the door, and suddenly realized what had frightened Nichi.

He was covered by the shadows, but the candles flicker illuminated his face. He wore a sharp, piercing smile, and his eyes glowed the same look of contempt. Another thing that caught Malice's eye was the cane. The character tapped it along the ground at intervals, creating the same effect as a hypnotic chant. He was dressed in black clothes, only adding to his mystery.

The man looked sheerly evil, but Malice didn't squander. He put forth a determined look, and drew his other dagger. If it was a fight we wanted, it was a fight he was going to get, and Malice didn't intend on losing.

Nichi exploded in anger. The rapping from the cane seemed to be driving him to insanity. "WHAT BUSINESS DO YOU HAVE HERE? ANSWER ME OR TASTE STEEL." Veins popped on Nichi's head, and Malice noticed he was out of breath. A cold sweat ran down his forehead.

By this time, Magus was awake. He sat up in the natural post-sleep groggy daze, and held his head as he regained his bearings. He looked toward the man, but certainly didn't seem to take much notice of him.

"Are you scared yet?" he mocked, perfectly still besides the motion of his cane.

"What are you doing here?" Nichi asked again.

"I will not justify myself to you little man. You have not seen your share of battles to know what it is like to wander eternally. And yet you still act as though you would sacrifice everything you know to bar my path. You have not seen the flesh of burning bodies, heard them scream as they are incinerated. You have not seen the torture that is induced on people through the deceit of humans. I have seen these things, and I know you do not have what it takes to strike me down. But do not take me lightly, for if you intend on making me suffer, then you will experience a world of pain. Put away your swords, for it is not a fight I ask for." He remained cool.

Magus, now listening intently, added, "then what do you want?"

The tapping stopped.
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Old 03-04-2005, 11:28 PM   #11
 
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Belial looked at Nichi and smiled. “We all want something don’t we?”

Usual response for a demon, nothing out of the ordinary except the last time Nichi had seen this face he was about to be killed. Nichi felt the scar on his right arm. “Why are you here!?”

“I thought I’d pay an old friend a visit. I mean it’s been what 3 years since you almost killed me after I almost killed you. I thought it was time for a reunion.” Belial smiled slyly.

Malice looked at Nichi who was now about as white as a ghost. “Who are you?”

“Name Belial, card shark extraordinaire and a demon that believe in the balance.” Belial said laughing. “I am everyone best friend and worst nightmare in one happy package.”

“He’s a bastard demon and a very powerful one at that. We almost killed each other last time we met, and I prayed never to see him again and guess what, he’s here.” Nichi started to calm down. “So why are you here, it can’t be solely for the reason of seeing me, a mere mortal.”

Magus decided that this was not his conversation and went back to sleep.

Malice looked at Belial and now realized just what the dark figure in front of him was. The man did not seem out of the ordinary other then his choice of clothing.

“Nichi my old friend, I’m here to help you. You see those damn demons in the spire plan on killing the entire mortal realm and then kill all the demons as well. I can’t have them doing this. Who am I to play with if you all are gone and if they come to kill me as well, I doubt I will be able to fend them off alone.” Belial said sternly.

Nichi thought about what the demon just said, and it did make sense that he would want to save the world from complete destruction. “You promise not to kill anyone innocent while we are on this journey?”

Belial sneered, “You know I would never do such a thing, I am a demon of high morals, so long as they don’t try to cheat me in cards they shall not be killed.”

“Can we actually trust a demon?” Malice said calmly. “I mean your whole existence is for the pain of souls, why should we trust you?”

“Because I’ll kill you right here and right now instead of letting you help me if you rather it be that. I only offer my help once; refuse and I’ll make it very painful for you.” Belial laughed.

“Fine you can come, but one bad move by you and I’ll take you out of this world with me.” Nichi said. “I’m going back to sleep. Don’t mind Belial, he wont touch us.”

Nichi’s dream was not that of the fall to this world tonight, it was of the horrid fight he had had with Belial before.

Malice woke first. The demon known as Belial sat in his chair just as he was the night before. Malice looked over were Nichi was sleeping and woke him. Magus slept so heavy that Malice was unable to wake him.

Nichi and Malice got ready and left with Belial following them. Nichi then noticed that the pixie that followed Belial around. “Ensayne how nice to see you again Nichi said sarcastically.” Nichi had been robbed by this little thing last time they had met, she was the whole reason the fight had started.

“Nichi oh great, its you again why the hell are we here to see him again dear, oh right because you think he’s fun. I don’t want to be around him remember what he did to me last time? He put me in a glass jar!” Ensayne said with her usually speedy and pissed off voice.

“It was your fault, shut up about it.” Belial said softly.

Nichi and the others came to the center of the coliseum were Ishia was waiting, along with Magus. Ishia had a look of deep concern as Belial came into view.

“What is a demon doing here?” Ishia said calmly.

“Its ok, he’s going to help us believe it or not.” Nichi said with a sigh

“Isn’t he the same one that almost killed you?” Ishia said sternly

“Yes mother, he almost killed me, if he hadn’t tried to drown me I’d be dead, but I think he actually wants to help this time. He isn’t going to do anything stupid.” Nichi said looking at Belial who was now going around the garden and sniffing flowers. ‘How strange he can be.’

“I won’t try to kill your son, I promise. I have a person vendetta with these demons that are controlling the spire right now that is my only concern.”

Ensayne looked around and then looked right at Ishia. “He won’t do anything stupid because he thinks your son is able to kill him, don’t worry.” She giggled.

Nichi and the other went over the plans with Ishia. Mid day came; Ishia had gone to take care of council matters and such.

“We’ll we have a plan, now we just need to get out gears ready, we’ll be traveling by way of carnasor, so they can hold a lot but over pack them and they are likely to try to eat you. These are the supplies we have access to. There is a scroll research academy in the south gate, and alchemist next door, weapons merchants are near the north gate, holy relics are in the church here, just west of the coliseum. Food and drink can be found to the east, and most important the enchanter can be found to the east on the shore near the docks. We leave tomorrow.” Nichi said “We can each get our stuff on our own so don’t wait for others to get these things. Everyone needs different supplies.”

“I’m going to need some money.” Magus said

“Me as well, I did not bring any money with me.” Malice said

Belial looked at both of them and grinned. “I don’t need anything I’ll stay here and indulge myself in the innocence of the town.”

Sicko Nichi thought as he handed both Malice and Magus a couple of hundred gold pieces. “I’m going to the enchantments store if anyone needs me.”

Malice headed to the weapon shop, Magus to the scroll shop.

Magic from scrolls, a new concept, Magus thought. He got to the scroll shop and asked to look around; he read the scrolls and realized they were not spells he had ever seen before.

“Young man, do you need help? Are you and advanced level ninja? We have very few people come in that look at the harder scripts.” The store manager said.

Ninja scrolls, no wonder they made no sense. “No I’ll be going thank you.” Magus decided may be he should go get food instead.

Malice entered the weapon shop and looked around. Out of the corner of his eye he saw a flash of black go by the window. He came outside and there stood a tainted warrior, the black crystal in his forehead gave off a creepy light.

“Those who stand again the darkness shall fall before its power.” The warrior charged drawing two large double bladed axes.

Malice dodged. a fight... Lucky him...
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Old 03-05-2005, 12:00 AM   #12
 
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*************************
Palis, The Year 699 Ishia, Gracia

Magus started towards the weapon shop. He figured if he was going to get something to eat, he should see if anyone else wanted to tag along. He neared the shop and saw a big guy with two huge axes standing close by.

He felt something grab him and whisk him into the shadows. It was Malice.

"Look," whispered Malice. "He has a crystal in his forehead. Any idea what it means?"

Magus whispered back, "How would I know anyway? I'm the new guy in this world. I know almost nothing about the stuff that happens here."

Malice sighed. "That crystal feeds off all negative emotions. Heck, the more negativity there is around it, the more powerful it is. Just having an attitude could make this guy stronger."

"Have any clue how we're going to hurt him? I'm not going to go out there and play shiny-happy-hippy in front of a psycho. Any chance we can just slip past?"

Malice shrugged. "Doesn't matter. As long as he's still standing here with a crystal in his head, he's a threat to everyone. We have to take him down."

Magus slowly drew his scythe. "How do I always get stuck with the freaks who have morals?"

Malice spun out his weapons. "Let's do it."

Magus nodded. "I'd rather wait until we have demon-boy or Nichi for backup, but..." he stopped, thinking of Schala. Thinking of what she would do in this situation. "...but we can't worry about that now. We don't want anyone to get hurt."

The two of them stepped from the shadows, weapons drawn. "He said that any who stand against darkness are gonna get crushed by its power," said Malice.

Magus shrugged. "Dunno what he's talking about. It's been my experience that the darkness always loses. I guess he still has to learn that."

Malice smiled. "You'd better be careful. I'm actually starting to like you, Magus."

Magus chuckled. "You're one of the few, I guess. Let's get him."
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Old 03-05-2005, 01:05 AM   #13
 
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The crystals curse over the warrior was strong. He stood across from Magus and Malice, staring into their eyes, as if diving deep into their souls.

"Give in to the darkness. Let it become you. The darkness will become you..." it chanted.

Magus looked at Malice, and the two nodded at eachother. They split up and started circling the shadow warrior. Dust flew up from the sand from their movements, making it hard to see. A brisk wind blew across the road.

"Give in to the darkness. Give in to the darkness. GIVE IN TO THE DARKNESS." The warrior still chanted. Suddenly, a surge of shadow erupted from its body, surging outward. "GIVE IN TO THE DARKNESS," it screamed again, and it charged.

Both Magus and Malice had covered their eyes when the blast of shadow came at them, and both were unready for the attack. When the dust cleared, Malice noticed the corrupt warrior charging towards Magus, who still had his hands covering his eyes, his arms across his chest.

"Magus, look out!" Malice shouted, and Magus immediately snapped into action. He barely had time to block the shoulder of the warrior as it rammed into him. Magus parried the blow, but his scythe was flung from his hands. It spun to a stop in the gravel nearby. Magus himself wasn't too shaken. He blocked the blow, and with all his might he pushed back on the defences of the warrior. With brutal strength, the warrior lost balance and fell backwards.

Magus took the opportunity to run for his scythe. He was no good to the fight empty handed, and he knew it. He reached the scythe and bent down. As he clasped his one hand around its handle, a shadow shot up from the ground and enveloped Magus. The shadow quickly turned into a claw that squeezed Magus, and it raised up to the sky.

With his one hand free, Magus slashed wildly at the shadow. With each dent he made in it, it reformed good as new. Magus knew he could not fight shadow with shadow, and slowly sighed. He dropped his scythe, and flexed his palm towards the warrior, who was now up on his feet and controlling the shadow with one hand, sword in the other. A static charge formed around his fingers, and Magus grinned. "Bolt!" he shouted as a lightning bolt hurled down from the sky. With another shadow, this one resembling a shield, the warrior blocked the bolt. The warrior snickered and clenched his fist. The claw tightened around Magus' body, and it felt as if his ribs were about to give way.

A blast of wind cut through the arm of the shadow, severing the link. Before the shadow could reform, the hand opened and dropped Magus. He landed on an air current and floated safely to the ground at the foot of his scythe. The warrior looked peeved, and look towards Malice, who was giving Magus the thumbs up. He motioned his arm toward Malice, and the shadow quickly followed. Malice noticed the attack just in time, and windwalking, he shot straight up on a current. Rematerializing in the air, he looked down at the warrior. His legs spread to shoulder length, and his arms were raised straight, out in front of him. The warrior called a bluff, and laughed, once more repeating his chant, but he was wrong. A strong current of air, like a tornado, lifted the warrior out of the air. Malice took the opporuntiy, and flew towards the warrior, still visible. He caught him as he was still flying upwards, and with a swift kick, knocked him down again. Like a bullet, the warrior fell towards the earth.

Midway through its fall, the warrior came to and summoned a shadow. He fell towards the shadow cushion, still blindly chanting the insidious phrase. Magus looked up the 50 ft into the sky at the jet black cushion, and acting on instinct, he threw his scythe. With enormous power, the scythe made contact with the shadow, slicing it in half. Before it had time to reform, the warrior fell through it, and hit the ground with a large thud. The were a few cracks as ribs hit ground, but then only silence. It uttered the phrase one more time, and then it finally followed its own words, and succumbed to the darkness of the underworld. The crystal on its head went black.
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Old 03-06-2005, 11:21 PM   #14
 
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Nichi walked out of the enchantments shop and across the street into the comic book store. He picked up server new books and then headed to the weapon shop to look into getting some sharpening stones. Malice and Magus were outside of the shop both looked a little worse for the wear.

“What happened to you two? You haven’t been beating each other up have you?” Nichi said half joking.

“We had a little demon trouble.” Malice said pointing at the drained crystal on the ground.

“These things are not very much fun you know.” Magus said as he got himself composed.

Nichi looked at the crystal and then smashed it with his foot. “Well I’m glad you managed it by yourselves.”

The three of them entered the weapon shop. Nichi got his sharpening stones and some throwing daggers, Magus got his weapon repaired, because it had taken minor damage when he came into this realm. Malice picked up a new set of daggers.

They left the shop after paying and went over to the market for rations and such. They headed back to the coliseum, on the way back Nichi noticed Belial, telescope in hand, looking over the wall of the bath house.

‘Perverted soul he is.’ Nichi thought.

When they arrived in the center of the coliseum Belial was already there.

“Does everyone have what they need?” Nichi said as a man brought in four carnasors to them.

They all nodded.

“Then lets get out of here. Pack up and lets just get going, I fear waiting till tomorrow is not going to be a good idea, for the presence of multiple shards in the city at once is a bad sign.” Nichi got onto his carnasor and the others did the same.

“So we are to head to the three cities to the south first and re-secure the cities removing the tainted shards from there right?” Malice said looking at a map.

“That’s right, we have to make sure the area is safe before we leave it, Ishia is powerful and so is her army, but she can’t afford to loose very many troops. We won’t be able to enter the spires land without military support later.” Nichi explained.

Magus looked confused. “So are we supposed to kill everyone in the towns we are going to?”

“No by killing the shards that are in the city the cities inhabitance will turn back to being good. There should be three full shards in each town.” Belial explained as if he actually cared about killing the innocent.

The all nodded and mounted their carnasors and headed out of town. It would take them five hours to arrive in Versia, the first city on the southern coast that they had to free.

So the journey starts.
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Old 03-08-2005, 08:39 PM   #15
 
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Belial mused over his present situation. Here he was, traveling with one of his biggest mistakes. Worse than that, he was traveling and couldn't use his full force. "Damn you two..." he thought. They woke up a sleeper to chase him down. They couldn't take on a bastard demon by themselves, of course. But they could get Zera-shaal, a moving engine of destruction, to either destroy him or everything around him.

He looked down at the carnasur. A mount he wasn't really used to. He reigned it to a stop. The three looked back, stopping as well. "Why'd you stop?" Nichi raised an eyebrow.

Belial took his cane from his side. He drew a circle in the ground around the beast. "Anyone not fueled by anguish may wish to cover their eyes." he warned. Black symbols began to form outside the circle. He swung his cane out and downward from his side, and it extended into a whip.

"With the blood of this beast, I demand a minion." Belial shouted. He lashed across the carnasur's side. Blood poured down, and black flames consumed the area inside the circle. When they subsided, standing there was an obligitory winged nightmare. Flames gouted from it's mane, its feet glowing with hellfire. It reared, and turned towards the party.

Nichi didn't even break stride. The sword came out and forward almost as fast as his mount paniced. Faced with dicipline from the rider and the raw, primal fear the nightmare produced, he chose to rear. Nichi forced it back down and aimed to swing.

With a cry, Malice drew his daggers and lept. He landed on the creature's wing. He dug both knives in, but the creature seemed to barely notice. His wingbeat sent the warrior up about thirty feet, and the nightmare kicked him for distance on the way down. It began to grow as Malice's mount turned to run.

Magus rode in on the left, with Nichi on the right, attempting to cut straight across it. They looked back, and flames spewed from the wounds. They quickly sealed however, and with a snort gouting flames from its nose, it paced forward, murder in its eyes.

Belial stepped in the way, meeting its gaze. "Stop." he said firmly. The nightmare stepped up, face to face with the greater demon.

It growled, its eyes aflame. Belial grabbed its mane with both hands, headbutting it repeatedly till it stumbled to the ground.

The others moved in for the kill, with the exception of Malice, who walked up holding his chest. Belial laughed loudly, much to Nichi's fury.

"What the hell were you thinking?" Belial asked.

"WHAT? YOU SUMMONED-" Nichi began.

"I was talking to the horse." Belial snapped. "Now, get up."

The nightmare stumbled to its feet. It looked around hazily. Belial hopped on its back.

"Shall we?" he started forward again.

"I hate him so very, very much." Nichi muttered.

"I am starting to agree." Malice winced.

Belial looked back. "I'm insane, not deaf." he laughed.

Malice considered throwing a dagger to the back of Belial's head. The creature he rode seemed rather docile now, but severe concussions can do that.

Magus rode up beside him. "About how we don't invite new evil..." he said.

"What about it?" Belial looked over.

"We don't invite new evil to join us!" Magus shouted. "What if-"

Belial held a finger to his lips. "There is no what if. There is only a carefully considered outcome." he said quietly. "Either it is or it isn't, but you can stack the odds in your favor, and you know to always split a pair of eights."

Nichi hurried up to Belial as well. "Don't ever, ever do that again, or you're gonna pay dearly."

Belial slowed down a bit. "Nichi, its a practicality issue. My mount needs no food nor water, just a little fear. Attempt to slay it again and we will have WORDS." Belial smiled the grin of a man who has a hand full of aces.

Nichi smiled back. "And then I suppose that Zera-shaal shall notice your presence?"

Magus rolled his eyes. The image popped in his head of the thing searching for Belial. He shuddered. "You're being chased by that?"

Belial froze. "How do you know about him?"

Malice came riding up fast. "What the hell is a sleeper?" he asked.

Nichi answered before Belial could speak. "I was wondering who was watching our duel in my dream. He's wasn't there when we fought, but he was there last night."

Magus considered very carefully what he'd just seen. He cracked his knuckles. "This is the point where bringing you along starts to suck, right?"

"When my abilites are needed, they will be used." Belial said sharply. "A sleeper is a demon so horrific in its power that it needs constant sin around it to function. When stuck in the abyss long enough, it runs out of energy and falls into hibernation. This one is a destruction beast, meaning the more it smashes, the stronger and faster it can move. Only those who are careful can stand against it, and guess what?" Belial asked.

They all looked at him. "WHat?" Nichi finally said.

"Evil powers cannot hurt it." Belial said. "Only those with good intentions can hope to wound it. So, in short, it finds me, it tears everything apart until it gets me."

Malice was the first to pick up on it. Nichi and Magus realized it a split second later. "You need us." Magus said. Malice rolled his eyes.

"It kinda was gonna go unspoken." Malice glared at Magus. "But that doesn't make it any less true."

Belial cracked his neck. "Listen, and listen well, because I hate repeating myself. Yes, I can't stop Zera-shaal. Yes, you can. Yes, I need you to help me should it find me, and based on your performance and of course, choice of company-" he winked at Nichi, who stared stone faced. "I figured you would be a good group to do it."

Belial gripped his cane angrily. "And yes, that also means that you have me, so to speak, behind the eightball. Name your price for this one. Other than, of course, my near armageddon like powers in your corner against these damn intruders. With Zera-shaal out of the picture, those who woke him up will have to come for a reckoning, and once I dispatch them, I can bend the little... 'friendly to the locals' policy, if only to save you all."

He looked onto the horizon. "An odd twist, making the demon parley with the damn mortals."
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