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The Legend of the Crystal Passage

Discussion in 'Creative Archive' started by Chadwyck, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. I know this is short, but it's something I wrote as just a warm up type thing that I really liked, so I intend to turn it into a fic.

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    Julia was falling. She didn't know where she was going, or even if she would survive the fall getting there, but she knew that she was falling. The wind rushed through her pale, blonde hair, yet all around her was black.

    Everything had happened so suddenly, she stumbled across a cave in the side of the mountain, the snow was coming down hard and she was afraid of freezing in the blizzard. She made her way into the cave and was greeted by a brilliant, blue light. She had the sensation that she was helplessly floating in a large ocean, completely alone in the world. Then, she could swear she remembered hearing a voice inside her head, but what it had said she couldn't recall. All she remembered was the phrase, "… And both worlds will become one." But what it meant was lost from her mind.

    She awoke frightened in the cave she had taken refuge in, "It was all a dream?" She stood up and looked around at her surroundings, there was just enough light in the cave to make out the shapes of stalagmites and stalactites sprouting out of the ground and ceiling all about her. The air was moist inside the cave, water dripped from the ceiling to the ground making echoing dripping noises bounce off the walls.

    "I don't know what kind of dreams you're used to having, but when I dream, I most definitely do not appear in a pillar of light in the middle of a damp cave." The voice belonged to a man, but that was all she could tell. It seemed to come from everywhere and nowhere at the same time, "Nearly gave me a heart attack." The voice was calm and deep, it was almost soothing to listen to.

    "Who are you?" Julia asked startled, taking another look around the cave, "…Where are you?"

    "Me? I'm everywhere at once, and I'm nowhere at all. I am where you perceive me to be, and I am where you least expect me to be." Julia shook her head; confused. "I see that the nature of my existence doesn't make sense to you. It's a shame really, few people can think with enough imagination to understand the simplest string of logic."

    "But that doesn't make any sense," Julia was beginning to feel helplessly lost in a spider's web of confusion, "You're speaking nonsense, everything you are saying is just a riddle that has no answer."

    "Of course it has an answer, every riddle has an answer. You just have to make sense of the nonsense, and use your imagination logically." The voice paused before continuing, "Take a hard look around you."

    "But how can I use my imagination logically? Imagination doesn't have to make sense, that's what makes it imagination." She looked around the cave one more time. "I don't see anything." She sat down defeated on the ground.

    "Nothing but shadow's in this place. It's a hopeless feeling isn't it, to be faced by someone you cannot see." The voice seemed to be coming from directly behind her, but when she turned, she saw nothing but another shadow.

    "This is nonsense, how can you be everywhere and nowhere at the same time?"

    "You continue to say this is nonsense, and yet, I am succeeding in what you claim is impossible." The voice seemed to dance around her with every syllable.

    "This isn't fair! It's as if you are speaking from the shadows themselves!" Julia screamed at the nearest shadow, and as she did, out stepped a tall man. He was around six feet two inches, and was clothed in a black tunic, and he had four daggers hanging at his sides and an obsidian claymore strapped across his back. On his face he wore a mask that was separated into four squares, the top left and bottom right squares were black and the top right and bottom left were white. There were two slits for his eyes, and a solemn mouth had been painted onto the mask in golden paint. His eyes were the only part of his person that were visible, they were a beautifully dark green.

    "You solved the riddle." He spoke from behind the mask. He stepped forward and bowed to her, "I am known as Shadow-Walker, but you, your highness, may call me Angel."

    "'Your highness'? What are you talking about?" Julia hid her surprise at the man's appearance very well, she held his gaze without fear.

    "I shall explain all to you in good time, but for now we must move lest the emperor's forces discover us." He took her hand and led her through the darkness, "Don't let go of my hand, or you will be forever lost in the realm of shadows." She nodded and tightened her grip on his hand as they stepped through the shadow on the wall and disappeared.
     
    #1 Chadwyck, Aug 5, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  2. Woah.

    I totally don't get it, but they didn't lie in chat when they said you were a great writer!

    Totally confusing. Totally awesome. Total win.
     
  3. I cannot help but feel a slight 'Alice's Adventures in Wonderland' inspiration here whenr eading the exchange twixt Julia and Shadow-walker; making sense of the non and all that jazz.

    Very interesting and, as Cody eluded to, well written (though seemingly with a cliche plot-line; I dearly hope not, your writing is too good to be used just to rehash the same old tale). Not confusing to me, but then I have a strange way of thinking about things... sometimes.

    Do write more!
     
  4. Psycho Monkey

    Psycho Monkey Member of the Literary Elite Four

    I must have a very abstract mind because I picked out shadow almost immediately. This is a very ineresting piece you have here and I look forward to reading more.
     
  5. This story made me sign up for an account. XP This is great.
     
  6. Julia shielded her emerald eyes from the glare of the sun that was creeping up toward the top of the sky, it's light reflecting off of the freshly fallen snow. It was really a breathtaking sight; she hardly remembered where she was for a moment. She smoothed out the wrinkles in her dark blue dress, and bunched her matching cloak closer to her for warmth. They were above the cloud line, high up on mountain, there was a cliff in front of them, and a wall of trees behind them. They stood in a clearing that would have overlooked a valley if the clouds had cleared. It was possibly the same mountain that held the cave she had appeared in, but with Angel's strange power, they could have been anywhere. She turned to look at her new companion. Even though Angel was sitting in the sunlight, it seemed as though the light was being absorbed into him; as if the light avoided him altogether. It was fascinating, and slightly eerie.

    He turned to face her, as if he had heard her thoughts, and began to speak, "Have you had enough time with your thoughts, your highness?" He had brought her somewhere that she could think, that was what he had said when they stepped out of darkness, and then he had said that he'd explain everything when she was ready. And Julia felt about as ready as she could be, given the situation.

    She took another look at the awe-inspiring view, she felt the chill of the wind against her face, and she recognized the scent of the evergreen trees that it carried. She wasn't dreaming, she was sure of it now. "Angel, I think I'm ready for some answers." She finally said turning back to him, again becoming lost in the kind, almost sorrowful eyes peering from behind the mask.

    "And you deserve to have them, your highness." He stated simply, waiting for her questions. His voice was soothing and deep, just as she had first heard it within the cave. Julia felt that, even though she couldn't see his face, she could recognize every expression he was making just from the sound of his voice.

    "Well, for starters, why do you keep on calling me that?" She asked simply, it was the question she least needed answered, but she didn't want to leap right into the more difficult ones that continuously tugged at her mind.

    "Because that is who you are, you are the crowned princess of this realm." He finished, obviously not going to elaborate further.

    "You can't just stop there. What exactly is this ‘realm‘, as you call it? And how did I get here?" Her voice became slightly higher and faster as she asked each question, "How did you know where to find me before even I knew where I was? And who in the world are you really?"

    "To begin: this is the realm of Terra, the realm of your people. It was once a realm of beauty and serenity. Vast expanses of forests and wilderness that would stretch as far as the eye could see; a paradise for the people to lead simple lives of contentment. Then he appeared." Angel seemed to stare right through Julia, the sorrow in his eyes was unmistakable.

    "Who?" Asked Julia in a whisper, she could hardly breathe. Angel was quite the story teller, she thought before refocusing on his story.

    "He calls himself Ares: he came wielding smoke and fire, and he burned Terra from the northern continent to the southern islands. To the farthest reaches of the realm, smoke filled the skies, and all who stood to opposed him were either murdered or turned to his will. The forests are no longer thriving, and Terra is dead. The people live in constant terror of Ares and his spies, no one is safe from his wrath." Julia felt herself shudder from the impact of the words alone, "Terra is now nothing but an expanse of factories and slums, and everyday Ares only grows stronger."

    A long silence fell over Angel and Julia, finally Julia spoke, "You said he appeared?" Angel only nodded, "But where did he come from?"

    Angel looked into her eyes, and she felt chills run along her spine, "We are not sure, but some have theorized that he traveled through the Crystal Passage."

    "What's the Crystal Passage?"

    "It is an old legend, a grand passage that only those chosen by destiny can pass through," Angel looked out at the glistening, snowcapped mountains, "And to answer your other questions: You have arrived here by traveling through that very passage. It is said that unto us a princess would be given, and she would be the deliverance from Ares and his reign of fire." Julia didn't look convinced, "You are that princess, the only person, other than Ares, who can pass through the Crystal Passage."

    "That can't be true, I'm not this princess you think I am, I'm here by accident." Julia protested.

    "There are no accidents, you are here because destiny has decided that you need to be here." Angel said in a voice so reassuring that even Julia began to believe she was who he thought, "That's how I knew where to find you. I knew you would be coming to save us, so I waited."

    "But if no one can find the Crystal Passage, how did you know where I'd be?" Julia asked, trying to make sense of everything going through her head.

    "I could feel it, I knew exactly where to find you." He answered simply.

    "But how?"

    "Because just as it is your fate to liberate our realm, it is mine to protect you. Our destinies are now intertwined, your highness, I am your guardian." Angel sat in the snow with his legs crossed, "I will give you time to sort out your thoughts, feel free to ask any more questions, I will answer to the best of my ability." Angel closed his eyes and began to meditate, he sat with his arms crossed, and his head bowed. Julia began to sort through all the impossible things that were screaming in her brain, and the scenery didn't seem as beautiful anymore, suddenly she thought nothing would be more beautiful than just returning home. She seemed to know, maybe not consciously, but in the back of her mind, that she wouldn't be able to return home.

    "I have a simple life back home," She said quietly, "I live in a small village, in a small cottage that belongs to my parents, and nothing exciting ever happens there. I used to sit outside and pretend to have wonderful adventures." She got a little bit louder now, Angel looked up at her thoughtfully, "But I never thought I'd ever be in the middle of one, I've never been anything special, I'm just a normal fourteen year old girl. I'm not cut out for any of this." She sounded so defeated.

    "You are far more qualified than you can see, trust me." Angel's voice was so kind she almost believed him.

    "Angel," She said softly, Angel waited for her question, "How do you expect me to be of any use at all? I'm no soldier, I'm nothing remarkable at all. The most I'll do is get myself killed." She fell to her knees, wondering just what she had fallen into, and wishing more than anything that she'd awaken in her bed any moment; even though she knew that was, in fact, impossible.

    "You most certainly will not, I will not allow any harm to come to you," He said standing up, and sounding gravely serious.

    "How can you be willing to fight so readily for me? You don't even know me."

    "My purpose is to insure that you are kept safe. Leave the fighting to me, that is why I am here, that is why I am to be your shadow." He said walking closer to her.

    "But you said that I had to stop Ares." She protested, looking up at him and taking his outstretched hand. His leather gloves felt rough against her hand.

    "Indeed I did, but never once did I say that you would have to do physical battle." He lifted her from the ground as he spoke, "It will all become clear in time, do not fret." He turned and led her toward the forest that loomed behind them.

    "You're so different than you were in the cave. Though you are still speaking in riddles." She noted.

    "I had to ensure it was really you, and you passed the test."

    "But how did that prove to you who I was? How am I supposed to stop Ares if I don't fight him?" They were in the forest now, brushing past branches. The snow and twigs crunched beneath their feet.

    "Ares power is based on physical strength, but you have a mental strength." He stated as he pushed a branch aside so that they could pass.

    "And how is that supposed to help?" She stumbled over a root, and nearly fell. Angel turned and caught her.

    "Because mental strength governs the ability of magic, and with proper training you will become a powerful mage. Then you will be capable of dismantling Ares' empire."

    Julia couldn't help but laugh, "Magic? There's no such thing as magic," She said nearly falling again.

    "You're very skeptical for someone who has passed through the realm of shadows." If Julia didn't know any better, she'd have thought Angel was being sarcastic. "You'll see your true power soon enough. For now, we have to meet up with one of the mobile towns. There you will find your teacher." Angel said as he picked out a shadow to pass through.

    "Mobile town?"

    "It's the only form of freedom the people have," Angel put a foot through a shadow that was outstretched at the base of a enormous tree, "The town is made up of tents that are moved daily across the realm, we're looking for the town of Rosary. I believe that it should be somewhere along the Machine Plains." He said looking back at her, he added, "And before you ask: they are named such because the plains have been littered with the remains of obsolete machines." He stated simply, Julia shut her mouth. She had been about to ask that very questions. "Now remember to hold on tight or--"

    "Or I'll be lost forever to the realm of shadows. I got it." She smiled, Angel shrugged and led her through the shadow.

    The realm of shadows had a strange beauty to it. It seemed like Angel was so at home here, in the shifting darkness. At certain places, there was white light piercing through what looked like portals, and on the other side was the realm of light. It was so peaceful in this place, especially because it felt like one was floating through a zone devoid of gravity, each step sent her and Angel floating in another direction. Julia wondered how they were able to take steps at all, she made a mental note to ask Angel for some insight about the realm of darkness sometime.

    They emerged into the realm of light through the shadow of a destroyed automaton of some sort. It's cogs and screws all lay in piles along the ground, it's hulking form decaying from the passing of time. Julia could feel precipitation in the air before she had even stepped out from the portal, there was a thunderstorm overhead, and a barrage of heavy rain fell amongst the various decomposing, mechanical artifacts. The whole of the plains were covered in decaying mechanical parts, thrown into great piles stacked high up toward the sky. The place looked more like a junkyard in Julia's opinion, with paths carved out between the stacks, that made it look like a great canyon of machinery.

    "Welcome to the Machine Plains, princess. Stay close, there's no telling what lies in wait among the discarded remains." Angel told her as he kept a firm grasp on her hand. The air smelled of rust, the effect of the water combining with the various metals, and for a moment Julia almost felt sorry for the fallen giants. They had been assembled for a purpose, and then carelessly discarded when their purpose became obsolete. A great many of them had very human expressions, which made it that much harder to look at their defeated frames.

    "They look so…" Julia began, but before she could finish her sentence, she was distracted by the corpse of robot that was frozen forever reaching out for help.

    "So human." Angel finished for her, he stood beside Julia as she looked at the fallen automaton. "An obsolete member of Ares' armies, replaced by a newer, more deadly model." He cast his eyes away and began to walk again, dragging Julia behind him.

    "But how did Ares build all of this? You said that Terra was full of people who lived simple lives, where did this technology come from?" Julia asked as she was suddenly pulled away from the faces that peered down at her.

    Angel stopped to take a look around when they reached a fork in the makeshift path, trying to decide which way was best to find the town. "We lived simple lives by choice, our technology was concentrated only at the capitol city, where it was watched over by the High Council." He finally decided to take the left path, something didn't feel right about the other, "But Ares was cunning, he acted the part of lost traveler, he was brought before the council and he launched his plan. They offered to help him find his way home, they offered the full services that they could provide, including access to the technologies." Angel stopped again, trying to decide if they had gone the right way, "And once he had their trust, he betrayed them. Then came the bit about the fire and destruction I told you about before."

    Julia swallowed looking around at the great wreckage around them again, "Yeah, I remember something about that.." She said sarcastically, "So each of these machines has been used against the people of Terra at some point." She stated, more to clarify to herself than to ask a question. A gust blew through the plains, sending piercing cold water droplets at the pair like daggers through the air. "Where is that town you said should be here?" Asked Julia, suddenly feeling very uncomfortable among the great machines, knowing what they had been used for when they were still very much active.

    "It should be around here somewhere. This time of year, Rosary tends to stick close to the Machine Plains." Angel said taking another right turn. When they had made it halfway down the deserted aisle, he froze. There was something different about the wreckage that surrounded them, he could feel the eyes upon them. The only question was: where were they being watched from? "Stay close to me." He whispered.

    Julia looked into the tangled mass of the defeated giants once again, unable to keep herself from peering into the sorrowful faces. It was at that moment she noticed them, piercing yellow eyes hidden in a crevice between a mechanical arm and what appeared to be some sort of generator. "Angel, look!" She yelled pointing in the direction she saw the eyes. As she did a humanoid figure leapt from the shadow, four arms outstretched toward her, each with a pair of razor blade like claws protruding from the end.

    In that instant things appeared to slow down, she could see it's mouth-less face and wiry frame slicing through the air toward her. It was thin, like it's whole body was assembled from thin metal poles with an incredible amount of technology impossibly crammed into each one, and it was no more than four feet tall. She jumped back from fear, or was she pushed aside? She couldn't tell, and as she was falling she saw the dagger fly through the air at incredible speed and lodge itself between the machine's eyes. The force of the dagger's impact sent it off course, and it twisted and turned through the air before crashing into the pile of components behind them.

    Angel stood with his right arm still extended after throwing the dagger, he had thrown it at the exact moment he moved Julia aside with his left arm. Julia landed back on the ground and looked shocked, her gaze fell on the automaton that was on the ground in a fit of twitches as it's wires shorted and sent shocks through it's body to broken receptors. "It's a Hunter," Angel said helping Julia up and drawing his dagger from the fallen foe, "And there's bound to be more of them. They travel in groups."

    As he finished his sentence three more creatures launched themselves from their hiding places. Two of the wiry, short things cut off their retreat, while the third stood in front of them. This one was almost a foot taller than the rest, it's frame slightly more bulky to appear as though it was wearing armor. Instead of claws, it's arms were simply two long blades, which were, at the moment, hanging at it's side. It began to make a series of beeps that formed together to make comprehensible, metallic words, "Greetings shadow being," It managed to form the words between a series of clicks and beeps from it's mechanisms.

    Angel drew two of his daggers and glanced anxiously behind himself and Julia before looking at the one in front of them again, "So you must be the head Hunter from this sorry little pack." Angel said glaring into the things cold, unfeeling eyes.

    The machine tilted his head, "Yes, I am. And you are correct in your statement that we have been sent to recover your heads." It raised one of it's blades menacingly.

    "How did you know where we'd be?" Angel asked, trying to buy time. He took a quick look at the surrounding area by pretending to glance at the two, lower leveled Hunters.

    "It was simple, pathetic human. We knew that you would come for the book." It looked to the other two ready to give the order to attack, "You Terrans place so much faith in your magic." He lowered his blade and the other two began their attack, Angel grabbed Julia and swept her up into his arms as he leapt at a nearby crevice. The two attacking Hunters' claws impaled the ground where seconds ago Angel and Julia had been, they turned their heads in a jerky, mechanical motion and leapt after the two. The crevice was empty, Angel had managed to open their escape route through the shadows.

    He placed Julia down in the small nook they had exited, "Wait here, I must go and dispatch them." Angel began sinking into the shadows.

    "But why do you have to do it?" Julia asked grabbing onto his tunic as he slowly disappeared.

    "Because if I don't, they could find Rosary." He removed her hand and continued sinking, "Don't worry, your highness, I'll return. I cannot leave you alone, I will protect you until the end." He disappeared into the shadows. As he did, Julia realized for the first time how alone she truly was in Terra, and how much she missed her dull life in her parents cottage.
     
    #6 Chadwyck, Aug 9, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  7. The Hunter pack leader beeped at the other two, they turned and nodded in agreement. The three of them began to search through the rubble that surrounded them, they searched for about five minutes before a shape rose up from seemingly no where in front of them. "So, you have come out of hiding, then?" The leader said, if he had had facial features, Angel thought he'd have been smiling.

    "Thought I'd just save you the trouble of trying to find me." Angel said matter-of-factly, "Also I can dispatch you much more quickly this way." He drew his claymore from his back and took a ready stance. Normally he wouldn't face opponents this way, he'd have a strategy, but he wasn't too worried about the Hunters, they weren't really too big of a threat. As far as Ares' forces went, Hunters existed solely to hunt the weaker opposition and locate the more powerful ones. They were the forces most expendable. The grunts, as it were.

    They weren't exactly harmless. Far from it. Many lives have been lost because they underestimated the power Hunters possess. They were, in Angel's opinion, fools. Angel was no fool, he'd been fighting Ares since the beginning, he knew what to expect from Hunters. He made it one of his life's goals to be a more painful thorn in Ares' side than anyone ever had. He had done a good job at it so far, and now that the princess had appeared, this war would be ending soon. Had there been a formal resistance, Angel would have been the one at it's head, but no one who resisted Ares' control ever lasted long, so Angel had no followers, there was no army waiting to be led to war. Ares' spies made sure of that.

    "You have caused master Ares much grief, rebel, it will be my pleasure to be the one to bring him your head." It glared at Angel with it's piercing eyes, it readied itself for a strike, and the other two Hunters did the same.

    Angel took a ready position, in a low guard stance, as they did so. "Your move, then." Looking into his eyes, it would have been a safe guess that he had a devilish smile across his lips beneath his mask, then again, there was never a way to be sure. The very tip of his blade rested against the ground. There was a stillness that seemed to last forever, Angel's eyes flitted from Hunter to Hunter waiting for any motion at all. The rain was now only a light drizzle, and he could still smell the beginnings of rust in the air. Suddenly the machines leapt at him in unison, two going high to avoid letting his low guard be effective, the leader staying low to cut off his options. Angel dug his feet in, there was a gap between the three of them as they flew through the air. The lowest of them was about three feet off the ground, the other two were about even at seven feet. They were coming at him in a triangle formation. He shook his head as he readied himself to jump, poor, predictable machines. Angel jumped forward straight for the gap between his three attackers. His sword cut down the leader's back as it flew by beneath him, by the time it hit the ground it had already shut down.

    The other two machines landed a few feet in front of their fallen commander, exchanging looks between the two of them and glancing back at the remains of the head Hunter. Had they been able to speak as the leader could, they would have been saying something along the lines of, "He killed the captain, what should we do?" Angel sheathed his claymore and drew two of his daggers, with their leader destroyed the remaining Hunters resorted to their default command which was to rush the target and kill it by any means. The two machines dashed forward with their claws targeted at Angel's chest. Angel threw one of his daggers between the eyes of the Hunter to his left. As that one fell, he sidestepped and avoided the other's attack, slicing the cables connecting it's head to it's body as he did so. It's head fell harmlessly to the ground followed by the rest of it's body. "Hmm. Poor predictable machines." He said, this time out-loud.

    Julia waited patiently for Angel's return. It seemed like an eternity to her, alone in the dark. She had felt safe with Angel around, so she never really thought about what a strange new place this was to her, a place where she knew no one and nothing; except that there were people who wanted her dead. It couldn't have been that long since Angel left, before she started to think whether or not he would be coming back at all. Luckily for her, she didn't get to think it all the way through because Angel reappeared out of the shadows. She jumped when she first saw him, not from fear, but from shock that she was seeing him again. She hugged him tightly, "I am so relieved that you are safe." She sighed.

    "I'm sorry, your highness, I won't leave you alone again." He said placing a comforting hand on her shoulder, "I couldn't risk you getting hurt." Julia released him, she was slightly embarrassed by her reaction to seeing him again.

    "You weren't gone for too long." She said, glad that the darkness was hiding the redness in her cheeks, "I was just concerned for your safety." She said as he helped her into the shadows.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    They emerged again a few meters down the path from where the fight with the Hunters had taken place, they still hadn't had much luck with finding Rosary, but at least it had finally stopped raining completely. Julia was beginning to wonder if they hadn't missed it already and it had moved on to a new location. It wouldn't have been completely unbelievable if the town had moved, but Angel wouldn't hear it, he was convinced that the town was still in the Machine Plains, just how he had known was a mystery to her. She was about to bring up the fact that they still hadn't found it, she would have told him to ask for directions if there was anyone to ask, but before she had the chance to bring it up she spotted what looked like a small town in a clearing a few hundred yards in the distance.

    "You were right," Julia said at last as the tiny town in the distance began to grew larger as they got closer, "It's still here." Angel just looked at her as if there was never any question as to whether or not it was still there. "Well it took a while to find." She explained when he gave her that look. Angel shrugged at the comment, seemingly in agreement.

    Julia was amazed at the condition of the town. The buildings all looked to be made of brick and stone, she reached out and touched the nearest wall. It felt like canvas, but retained it's shape, she'd never seen anything like it. "I thought you said the town was made up of tents." She said as she looked down a side alleyway, every building was similar, they looked as if they were constructed from bricks, and felt like tent canvas. Some of the buildings were as high as five stories up.

    "They are tents," Angel said taking a left down the next street, "It wouldn't be much of a mobile town if they couldn't move it." It was amazing. There were pubs, hotels, there were even signs in buildings announcing a room for rent. They had windows, and doors, there was even had doorbells. Some people glared at them as they passed, others cast away their eyes; staring at the ground to avoid eye contact. The town seemed much bigger once you were among it's streets, there were people everywhere. Julia guessed that there had to be at least a population of five hundred, probably more.

    "This is impossible," She whispered to herself in amazement, she saw people up on rooftops and opening windows, "How can those be tents?" Angel made a right at the end of the current street they were on.

    "Bloody town changes every time I come here, you'd think they be consistent with where they put the buildings." They made another left and Angel seemed to spot the building he was looking for. They walked straight in without even knocking on the door.

    It was a small house, dimly lit by candle light, with a wooden counter opposite the door. There were cluttered papers and books spread out on tables and littering the floor, and lining the walls were bookshelves, filled completely with all manner of books. Some appeared to be very old; leather bound with pages falling out. While others appeared to be relatively new, in very good condition with hard covers and crisp new pages. Behind the counter sat a small, old, owl-like man. He wore thick glasses, and a green argyle vest over a faded white, collared shirt. He had grey hair that shot out in several different directions, and it was very thin. His eyes grew wide when he saw Angel and Julia, they looked almost comical magnified through his glasses. "Shadow-Walker," He whispered, "Is this…" Angel raised his hand to silence the old man.

    "She is exactly who you think she is, Lyle. I have brought her here to meet her teacher." Angel stepped aside and allowed Julia to walk up to the counter.

    Lyle bowed his head, "Lyle Townsend, at your service, your highness." He said in a low, unfaltering voice, though she could tell he was very excited to see her.

    "Julia Dodgeson," She said politely, "You are to be my teacher?"

    Lyle chuckled to himself, "Oh no, princess, I'm not the man I used to be, though at one point I could have taught you a thing or two about magic." He said as if remembering the days when it were possible.

    "That would be desirable compared to who she has to learn from now." Angel said in a low voice, almost to himself.

    Lyle couldn't help but chuckle again, "Oh, quiet you. You know he is far more qualified to teach her than anyone else, even if I was still as powerful as I once was." He turned around and began to shuffle through papers and books.

    "Who are you two talking about?" Julia asked, she couldn't help but wonder what Lyle was doing back there. Neither of them answered, Lyle simply placed a book on the counter, and gestured to her to open it. "You mean…" She reached out and opened the front cover of the book. It was a heavy book, a foot tall, eight inches wide, and easily six inches thick. It was bound in red leather over hard covers, and it's pages were old, it was possibly printed on parchment. "I don't understand, this is just a book."

    She closed the cover again, and she saw in a small portrait on the cover a man in a purple mages cloak, and a tall hat. He looked a little too young to be on the cover of such a book. "I beg your pardon," A voice said. It was slightly high pitched, spoke in a British accent, and it sounded slightly offended, Julia looked around the room for the source of the new voice. Then she noticed the man on the cover crossed his arms, "I am not just a book. I am the Arcane Dictionary of All things Magic." Said the voice sounding very pleased with it's recital of it's title.

    "Princess Julia, I'd like you to meet Adam, your new teacher." Lyle's voice sounded very formal when he introduced them.

    "You mean a book is going to teach me how to use magic?" She asked turning to look at Angel, who simply shrugged his shoulders again.

    "Did you just call me ‘a book' again? Don't make me go through it again." Said the book, "I am The Arcane Dictionary of--"

    "Oh, hush up, you." Lyle finally said, "Your highness, believe me, there is no one better suited to teach you magic than a book that is all about magic. Which is, after all, what Adam is." The man on the cover of the book smiled smugly at Lyle's words.

    "Yeah, so I believe someone owes me an apology?" Adam added sarcastically, "After all, I don't have to help you, what's it matter to me if you learn spells or not. I already know them all, and I don't have to teach them to you." He crossed his arms again and turned his back, so all they could see of him was the back of his head.

    Julia sighed when she saw the look on Lyle's face, and again when Angel nudged her forward, "Look, Adam, I'm sorry." She said in a low, defeated voice, "Even though I'm not quite sure I did anything wrong." She added under her breath. "I'm very glad that I am to have you as a teacher."

    Adam turned his head on the cover and looked at her, pouting, "Really?"

    "Of course, I can't think of anyone more qualified to teach me than you." She said with a smile.

    Adam turned around instantly smiling, "All right, but just remember that you said it, and not me" He had a smug look on his face again, and Julia rolled her eyes. At least the first step of her journey had been taken, according to Angel, she'd have to learn magic to defeat Ares. She still didn't know how, but in the back of her mind she knew that the only way she'd ever get home again was to do this, and there wasn't really another option at this point anyway. "So when do we get started?" Asked Adam rubbing his hands together.

    "When we are outside of the town, away from people and buildings that could suffer because of a wayward spell." Angel said picking up the book.

    "Hey, be careful with me, Shadow-Walker, I'm older than Lyle over there." Said Adam after being rather forcefully picked up, "Is this the thanks I get for teaching you that every shadow is a doorway?" Angel rolled his eyes, every time he had an encounter with Adam, the book loved to remind him that he had also learned from it's pages.

    "My apologies, Adam, but we must be moving on." Said Angel patiently. Julia was surprised to hear the Angel had learned to pass into the Realm of Shadows from the same book she would be learning from, maybe she could learn how to do so on her own too. The thought made her smile.

    "It's much too late for you to leave the village tonight," Lyle said placing his hand on Angel's shoulder and pointing out the window at the darkening world, "Stay here for the night."

    "Are you sure, Lyle? Ares' spies are undoubtedly looking for us at this very moment." Angel said turning to the old man, "I can't put you at risk for sheltering us, you've already done enough."

    "It's no trouble, boy, let Ares' spies look, they will not find you tonight." Lyle said leading the Angel and Julia upstairs. There was a connection between Lyle and Angel, but Julia couldn't place it. She thought that it was possible they were related. He led them to two spare rooms he had upstairs. "Here you are, you'll need your strength for the journey ahead. I'll bring you something to eat." Julia just realized how hungry she was, she hadn't eaten in almost twenty-four hours, but with everything that had been happening, she didn't even think about it. Angel had a look of guilty in his eyes.

    "Are you all right?" Julia asked, she'd never seen Angel look like that, never once had his sorrowful eyes showed guilt.

    "I'm fine." Was all he said before he went into his room and closed the door behind him.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Julia couldn't sleep, it wasn't that she wasn't tired, she was actually exhausted, but she couldn't stop thinking about the look in Angel's eyes. When Lyle had brought them both food, Angel had taken his into his room after politely thanking their guest, but later Julia discovered that he had barely eaten any of it. Something was bothering him, and it troubled her to no end that she didn't know what it was.

    She got herself out of bed, she was wearing a white night gown that Lyle said had belonged to his wife before she passed away. Julia knocked on Angel's door, there was no answer. She knocked again, and waited, finally she decided to go in. The room was empty except for Adam laying on the end table. "Could you be any more disruptive, I might actually fall back asleep if you don't make some more noise," He said sarcastically.

    "Where is Angel?" Julia asked the book.

    Adam yawned, "Shadow-Walker? The boy went up on the roof, I believe." He closed his eyes and began to snore, Julia stopped for a second and was about to question why a book needed to sleep, but she just shook her head and went up toward the roof.

    When she emerged through the small trap-door onto the roof, Angel was sitting with his legs dangling from the edge of the roof, gazing up at the moon. He turned his head when he heard the creak of the trap-door's hinges. "Hello, princess," He went back to gazing at the moon.

    "Angel, what's bothering you?" Julia sat down beside him, "I haven't known you long, but I can tell that there is something wrong." She laid a hand on his shoulder, and he turned to look at her, there was more sorrow in his eyes than she'd ever seen before.

    "This town used to be my home," He said after a long silence, "Before Ares and his armies, before the town had to be on the move. It was even before the Machine Plains. Rosary used to be right in this very spot, back when there was no need to be mobile, when the plains were filled with life." He looked out beyond the town at the extending wasteland of machine parts, "Ares came with his army, and he burned it down. I was out fishing with my brother, John, when we saw the smoke. We ran as fast as we could, my mother and father were trapped inside our burning house, and without thinking I ran in through the flames to try and save them. John was left shouting outside, and then I didn't hear him shouting anymore. I couldn't see anything through the smoke, except for the bodies of my parents, they had died holding each other. I struggled to find a way out, flames licked at my flesh, I finally fell unconscious." He looked away from her, he just stared off into space; his eyes focused on everything and nothing, "When I woke up, I was bandaged, I'd been burned badly. Lyle was sitting beside me, and we were beside the river where John and I had been fishing. Lyle told me that he'd saved me, if he hadn't been such a powerful healer, I probably wouldn't have made it. When I asked him about John, he said he hadn't seen him. He'd most likely been taken prisoner. He told me that his wife had also been taken."

    He looked back at her, " I had no where else to go, Lyle took me in and raised me. I was only nine years old back then. I've spent all these years fighting, I will never forgive Ares for what he did." Julia didn't know what to say, she finally understood the sorrow in his eyes, "When the mobile towns began to form, Lyle was responsible for the creation of Rosary. He's done so much for me, and continues to help me. I don't know how else to repay the favor than to end Ares' oppression over the people." He stood up, taking another glance at the moon, "Whenever I come here, I'm reminded of the kindness that Lyle showed me. And also of the pain that Ares caused the both of us, and for that he will pay."

    Julia didn't know how to respond, or what to do, she just threw her arms around him. Angel was shaken from his thoughts, and looked at Julia with kindness, "I'm sorry, your highness, please forgive me." It was all he said, he was silent again. He took her down to her room before going back onto the roof.

    He sat there all night. Alone. with nothing except his thoughts of revenge and guilt, and Julia still couldn't sleep.
     
    #7 Chadwyck, Aug 19, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  8. OoC: If this doesn't make any sense it's because it has been neither edited nor revised and it was mostly all written in the late night/early morning >>;

    It was still early in the morning, before the sun had begun to tint the sky. The chill of the night air was still present, and the ground was wet with fresh morning dew. Julia sat awake in her room, at one point she had gone and retrieved Adam from Angel's room, she currently had the book set on her knees, "How long have you known Angel?" She asked looking up at the ceiling. Angel had never come back down last night.

    "That's what you woke me up for? I'm going back to bed." He closed his eyes and began a rhythmic, fake snoring. Julia squinted her eyes and shook him awake, "Alright! Alright! Don't do that, do I need to remind you I'm an antique?" He began to rub his temples; annoyed. "I've known that boy since, well, since he was even more of a boy." He said yawning.

    "Has he always been…like he is?" She fumbled with the words, she didn't know how to form the question that was in her mind.

    Adam raised an eyebrow at Julia, "You're going to have to be a bit more specific." Julia half suspected that Adam knew she was having difficulty coming up with the proper way to phrase her question.

    Julia sighed and then she went to work thinking; which wasn't easy on a sleepless, uneasy mind. "I mean, has he always been like that? Blaming himself for everything that happened?"

    "Oh, that. Yeah, pretty much." Adam said flatly, "Can I go back to sleep now?"

    "No, you can't. Tell me what you know. Please?" She sounded like she was on the verge of tears, the only person she knew in all of Terra was in pain, and she at least had to know why.

    Adam looked at her, and he could tell that she was sincerely concerned about Angel's well being. "Alright, I'll tell you the little bit I know." He cleared his throat, "When Lyle downstairs took him in, he was still a young boy, younger than you are now. I was Lyle's teacher at the time, and Lyle told me to watch over the boy. He wanted me to teach Eli." Julia raised one of her eyebrows at him, "That used to be his name."

    "You mean that is his name?"

    "No, I mean that used to be his name. Can I finish telling you my story?"

    "Sorry, please go on." She crossed her legs and sat looking expectantly at Adam.

    "As I was saying. Lyle asked me to teach Eli, and our lessons began. He was a brilliant child, one of the few people I've ever had a stimulating conversation with, really, he had a very mature outlook for someone so young. Though, that may have been because his entire family was killed." Adam stopped as if to think it over.

    "What a terrible thing to say, he's clearly in pain because of it." Julia couldn't believe that Adam had just talked about people's deaths like it was nothing.

    "This is what I was getting at with the whole stimulating conversation statement." Adam said sighing, "Besides, it's not like Shadow-Walker can hear me." Julia glared at him and he just rolled his eyes, "Anyway, I could talk to the kid. It was a nice change of pace. He asked me all kinds of questions, he took my knowledge of magic very seriously. He was convinced he could learn how to bring his loved ones back, it was very saddening indeed to tell him otherwise. But he still persisted, he had such determination, really an amazing kid that Eli was." He nodded his head as he lost himself in thought, with a snap from Julia he was back to telling the story. "Anyway, as smart as he was, he was always so depressed. He decided that if he couldn't bring his loved ones back, he would simply have to become strong enough to end Ares' life."

    "What about Lyle? What did he have to say about his desire for vengeance?" Julia asked the book, who seemed very displeased to be interrupted again.

    "The old man tried to help him through his pain, but that kid was so determined, and when he told Lyle that it wasn't just vengeance he was after, but the liberation of all of Terra, Lyle couldn't help but smile. He knew Eli had a good heart, so he asked me to teach him the art of Shadow Walking. It's a shame there are so few Shadow Walkers left in this world, but it's a heavy price to pay, I suppose." He shrugged as if it wasn't really that big of a deal.

    "What price?" Julia asked, completely ensnared by the story.

    "To become a Shadow Walker, a being that can pass in and out of the Realm of Shadows of their own accord, you must surrender yourself completely. It's a spell that grants you great power, but the darkness consumes you, taking everything from you and transforming you into a living shadow." He whispered conspiratorially. "But Eli wasn't ready to lose himself completely, and I completely understand, it'd be a shame to lose all the wisdom and intelligence that kid has. He decided to keep his mind at the cost of some abilities. That's why he can only pass into the Realm of Shadows through the doorways, or the shadows cast by objects in this world." Adam nodded again, and crossed his arms, "As for his body, that was lost forever to the darkness. Which is why he dresses the way he does, otherwise you would see him for what he really is; a moving, living shadow. He also opted to keep his eyes, so that as he kills him he could look Ares in the eyes and show him the pain that he has caused our poor shadow dwelling friend. He lost the ability to control darkness because of that. He lost everything that made him who he was except for his memories and his eyes, he knew he could no longer be Eli, so he became the being known throughout Terra as Shadow-Walker. Unfortunately he can‘t stay in the Realm of Shadows for too long at a time, which is why you and he couldn‘t travel directly here. He gave up many powers to prevent himself from becoming a mindless shadow."

    "Wow." Julia breathed, she would have never guessed that Angel got all of his powers from a spell. "But how did he manage to keep the spell from taking over completely?" Julia asked, she noticed she was still whispering.

    "It was all a matter of will power, and you and I both know that he has quite a strong will, otherwise he wouldn't be alive today." Adam said flatly, which obviously meant that he was done with his story, "So to answer your question, it's because he blames himself for everything that he became what he is."

    "Thank you, Adam. I would have never known were it not for you." She smiled at the book, the sun was beginning to color the sky to the east as it crept up from beyond the horizon.

    "Yeah, yeah. Can I please go to sleep now?" Julia just nodded, and laughed to herself as the book sighed and he closed his eyes. Julia had learned so much about Angel; his tortured past, his transformation into the Angel she knew. She was exhausted, and she finally drifted to sleep as the sun rose above the horizon.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "Princess?" Julia opened her eyes, Angel was standing beside her bed, she looked out the window; the sun was a little below the noon position, it was still morning. "I'm sorry to wake you, but we should be moving on. Lyle has prepared you some breakfast." Angel bowed his head and walked out into the hallway.

    Julia was still exhausted, for the longest time she could hardly hold onto a conscious thought, let alone move. She heard a familiar chuckle coming from nearby; Adam. "Looks like you're having a hard time getting up over there, your highness." He was smile an annoyed smile, "Maybe if someone would have let us sleep last night, it wouldn't be so difficult?" He mocked.

    "Oh, shut up." She threw her pillow at the blasted book, "You talk to much." She said rolling over in bed.

    "Not a morning person, I see." The voice was slightly muffled from the pillow that landed on top of the book. Julia rolled her eyes and dragged herself out of bed. Her hair was a mess of tangles and random strands sticking out in every direction. She rubbed her eyes, cracked her neck, and then started getting dressed, she was grateful that the pillow had landed so well placed over Adam so he couldn't see. "I'm still under here, you know?" He called from under the pillow, as if he could tell she was thinking about him.

    "I know, I'm getting dressed, give me a second." She remembered that Lyle had given her some new clothes that had belonged to his wife. The new wardrobe consisted of a white blouse under a blue bodice and a blue skirt that went down to her ankles, he had even given her some work boots that wouldn't hinder her while they traveled. After looking at herself in the mirror and fixing her hair the best she could, she picked up Adam off the ground and went downstairs to meet up with Angel.

    Lyle smiled as he saw her come down the stairs, "I'm glad to see those clothes fit you, your highness." He said kindly, "You must have slept very well, I can't believe you were still in bed at this hour." Julia blushed and smiled politely. She was embarrassed that she had still been asleep this late in the morning; especially since it was because she couldn't fall asleep last night that she had been in bed. Adam started to say something, but Julia grasped the book firmly against herself; effectively muffling whatever remark he was about to make.

    "Princess, I hate to hurry you," Angel interrupted, pointing to a plate at the table, "But we must be moving on, quickly, so please eat your breakfast. Then we will be moving on." Julia looked at him and remembered the story from last night; the boy who was so tortured by his past that he became darkness itself. "And no matter what Adam told you last night, I am still the same person you met in the cave." He said kindly. Julia blushed, it was as if he had read her thoughts again, and Julia felt much more at ease hearing the same kindness in his voice she had heard before. She nodded as she sat at the table and began to eat the food that Lyle had prepared for her.

    "So, Shadow-Walker," Lyle started as he was setting some books back onto their shelves, "Where will you go next?"

    Angel looked at the old man thoughtfully, thinking over the possibilities, "We must find a place for the princess to practice. I was thinking of traveling through the shadows as far as I can southward, then we can stop in the Kilon Pass for her to get some practice in."

    "Where would you go after you exited the pass?" Lyle asked raising an eyebrow.

    "I've got a few contacts in a town at the base of the mountains called Runewing, we can stay there for a few days while we decide where to go next." Angel sighed, "It's as good a plan as any. After the princess feels ready, we'll begin making our way toward Ares." Julia closed her eyes, she had nearly forgotten that Angel expected her to be able to overthrow Ares, and suddenly she felt quite overwhelmed, luckily Angel saw her distress, "But we won't go until the princess is completely confident in her abilities, not a moment sooner." He nodded at her, and she saw a smile in his eyes again, Angel trusted her almost as much as she trusted him, and she wouldn't let him down.

    "Well, boy, I'd say that sounds like a pretty solid plan for now, but be careful. You know better than most that Ares' spies are everywhere." Lyle went back to putting books back on the shelf.

    "I will, Lyle, thank you for your kindness, as always." Angel said, he noticed that Julia had finished her plate. Angel picked up the bag he had ready with their few supplies in it, "We should be on our way then." Lyle turned and saw that Julia had finished as well, he nodded and came over to say goodbye. He gave Angel a hug, it was odd to see Angel in such a display of affection. Lyle then walked toward Julia.

    "Take care, your highness, I know that you will free us all." He smiled as he gave her a hug as well. "And you, Adam," He said taking the book from Julia's hands.

    "I don't do goodbyes, Lyle. I've been around for too long to get attached to people, short lived creatures, the lot of you." He said as he rubbed his eyes trying to look bored.

    "Take care of them, old friend." Lyle said as he passed the book back to Julia.

    Lyle stood at the door waving goodbye to them until they disappeared into the piles of debris toward the south. Julia was going to miss the old man, he had been so kind even though he had suffered so much in his life.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    They were back among the rolling hills of debris that made up the Machine Plains, heading south just as Angel had said they would. They were yet to travel through the shadows, but Julia simply assumed that Angel was waiting until they were out of the Machine Plains since they wouldn't be able to travel by shadow for too long. And as long as they were in the Machine Plains, there were plenty of places to remain hidden. Julia walked at a brisk pace to keep up with Angel's long strides, her short legs taking three steps to match just one of his. Angel looked preoccupied by something, and Julia didn't know how to ask what he was thinking. She didn't like seeing Angel concerned about anything, especially not when she looked to him for her strength. She knew that without Angel she would have been lost in this world, alone and afraid with no hope of finding her way, and she wanted nothing more than to repay him somehow.

    "Angel, I… I'm sorry that--" As Julia looked for the right words, she was cut off by the sound of thudding in the distance. Angel stopped dead and his gaze snapped toward the origin of the sound.

    "Wait here." He said quickly and quietly as he disappeared and reappeared at the top of a component hill. In the distance he saw what he feared, "a Destroyer." He whispered as he closed his eyes. It was heading straight for Rosary.

    It was a mechanical beast that walked on four legs, each of them ending in a flurry of claws as sharp as knives, and they could cut a man apart with a single swipe. It was a huge beast, it's head rose above the smaller machine hills, it was easily twenty feet tall, and about thirty feet wide. It's mouth was filled with metallic fangs that could tear flesh and crack bone. It only had one purpose: to find Ares' enemies, and eliminate them. Ares must have sent it after the Hunters failed to report. He was taking no chances at letting Angel and Julia escape. Angel came back down, and for the first time since she had arrived in Terra, Julia could see that Angel didn't know what to do. He looked back at Rosary, and then in the direction of the southern wood.

    "Princess, you need to get far away from hear. It's not safe." He said and he placed his hands on her shoulders to ensure she was listening, "Go into the woods and hide, wait for me. I'll come for you." He took off running in the direction they had come from. Julia didn't know what he was going to fight, but by his reaction she could tell it wasn't good. She looked at the wood entrance that was about a hundred yards in front of her. She shook her head and started running after Angel.

    "Umm… You're going the wrong way, the woods are over there!" Adam yelled as she began to run. "Angel told you to go be safe!"

    "As if I could just let him run off alone. I'm sorry, but I'm not about to worry about him all over again." She said through uneven breaths from the effort of running as fast as she could, passing debris and broken components as fast as possible.

    "Then could you just take me somewhere safe?" He asked. "You could even just leave me here, I wouldn't mind." He said shrugging his shoulders.

    "You would leave Angel to fight alone? Stop being so selfish!" She yelled as they turned down another narrow passage.

    "I can't help it, I was bound that way." Adam said with an innocent expression on his face. Julia rolled her eyes and kept running.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Angel drew his claymore and stood directly in the Destroyers path. It was approaching rapidly, he could tell by the increasing severity of the vibrations that traveled through the ground. He stood with his eyes closed, breathing deeply. He stood ready in a battle position.

    Unlike the Hunters, Destroyers were always dangerous. They were unpredictable, and ferocious, they would have a different style of attacking every time they engaged an enemy. Angel had only fought one before, and he attacked it with a group of five men. All of them died, and Angel himself was severely wounded. He took refuge in a nearby town until his wounds had healed, and he wouldn't allow himself to forget it. As much as he wouldn't allow himself to forget that it was suicide, he knew that he could not let it reach Rosary, he could never forgive himself. The beast grew closer, and it was now in full view.

    "What a surprise," Said a voice from the beast, obviously the machine was being controlled by a human, it was understandable that a larger pawn would have a direct link to one of Ares' men. "Ares had a feeling that you were behind the attack on the local Hunters, Shadow-Walker. It's been far too long since you've caused him trouble."

    "I've just been busy thinking up a way to raise the stakes." Angel said with a look of pure hatred, his eyes shone with the anger that would have driven a normal person insane.

    "Don't look at me like that, just give up and die already."

    "I've no sympathy for anyone who betrays his kinsmen, and that means everyone who serves Ares. I‘ll never give up while he still lives."

    The Destroyer swung at Angel with it's sword-like claws, Angel managed to avoid it and get beneath the beast. He attacked it's underside, but the hull was too thick. The machine was like a tank that took on the form of a quadruped. He heard the machinery begin to wind, it sounded like the roar of a tiger echoing from within the hull. The Destroyer leapt back dragging it's claws along the ground, Angel managed to avoid it by fading into it's shadow.

    Julia heard the fighting and arrived just in time to see Angel struggling to avoid the beast. It was fast, and she knew he couldn't avoid it forever. "Adam, we have to help him!" She pleaded, "Do something!"

    "What am I supposed to do?! I'm just a book!" He yelled in response.

    "I thought that you were The Arcane Dictionary of All things Magic!" She yelled sarcastically at him.

    "Well, I can't exactly go over there and fight the beast, now can I? You'll have to use a spell." He said quickly.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Angel leapt up and landed on the beast's head, avoiding another of the machine's attacks. He stabbed the sword into the crest of the beast's head, the machine's hull cracked, the blade stuck down into the beasts mouth. The Destroyer shook and flung Angel off. He hit the ground with a thud and looked up at the machine as it loomed over him.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    "It's now or never! See the blade in the machine's mouth? Use that as your target! Focus all of your energy into your hand. It helps to hold your hand in front of your face in a half prayer and close your eyes." Julia did so, raising her right hand in front of her face in a flat edge parallel to her nose, she closed her eyes to concentrate. "You should feel your hand getting warm, do you feel it?" Julia didn‘t respond, "Not to hurry you or anything, but we're a little pressed for time!" He said nervously, the beast was readying itself to devour Angel. Julia nodded in response when he asked again.
    "I'm going to enjoy this, goodbye, Shadow-Walker." The man said over the speaker.

    "Quickly now, say ‘Ignis Pila' and release all of your energy at that single point you have pictured in your mind." Adam said trying not to sound frantic.

    "Ignis Pila!" Julia shouted, then she thrust her arm forward as she did so, and she felt all of the energy in her body flow through her and out of her palm, she didn't realize what exactly she had done until she saw the explosion. Her aim had been nearly perfect, the fireball exploded within the Destroyers mouth as it readied itself to devour Angel, it's head splintered apart and the hulking body fell into one of the piles, to become part of the Machine Plains forever.

    "Wow, this kid may be the real deal." Adam whispered to himself, "No one should have been that powerful the first time."

    "Princess," Angel said as he walked over, he held the hilt of his sword in his had, the blade had shattered when it was hit by the blast. "I told you to go somewhere safe," He said as he tossed the thing aside.

    "But I couldn't just let you-" Angel raised his hand to silence her.

    "I am happy that you listened to your heart, otherwise I would no longer be in this world." He smiled with his eyes again, it was good to see that kindness in him again, and Julia couldn't help but embrace Angel. She was so relieved that she had come to help him, she hadn't known him for long, but she already could no longer imagine being without Angel.

    "Yeah, yeah, we're all real happy. Well, I've never been so terrified in my life! I'm not supposed to see battle! I'm supposed to train other people to do that!" Adam yelled, Julia rolled her eyes and released Angel from the hug.

    "We should get moving," Angel said flatly, "We have to move so that Ares doesn't send any other forces to Rosary.

    "But what about your sword?" Julia asked looking at the hilt on the ground.

    "I'll get another one, but we can't risk going back to Lyle, or Rosary now. It's too dangerous, not only for us, but for them." He said as he turned south again, "We'll be much safer once we reach the Kilon Pass." And he started walking in his long strides again. Julia smiled as she fell in step beside him. She looked at her hand and thought about the power she displayed, she just realized what she had done. She decided that she would use that power to keep Angel safe if he ever needed help. She would no longer be a helpless girl, but a warrior fighting alongside him, the thought made her grin as they marched off toward the next part of their journey.
     
    #8 Chadwyck, Sep 25, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  9. OoC: It's been entirely too long since I sat down a wrote a chapter, my apologies, but here it is at last.

    BiC:

    It was dark, and it was cold. A bitter cold that could pierce through a person's skin, no matter what they did to try and warm themselves. It seemed that the only light in the world was far away, further than Julia could ever hope to run. And she wasn't alone. Somewhere out in the darkness, someone was watching her, waiting, stalking, any moment she would be attacked, and the worst of it was that she didn't know from where. She could feel eyes upon her, and the more she thought of them, the more she was sure she could see them. Burning red eyes in the darkness, moving closer and closer to her, she could feel warm breath on her neck. Then the breath carried a soft voice with it.

    "Poor little girl. Afraid. Lost little girl. Don't you want to go home? Don't you miss your family?" The voice taunted, tugging at her heart strings. Julia remembered her mother, she couldn't help but picture her crying. Julia's father would be standing beside her, shaking his head and hiding tears of his own. She had tried not to think of her family since she had come to Terra, it was too painful. She tried to only focus on the task at hand, and now she had been forced to think of them, and tears filled her eyes. "The little girl is crying, she doesn't know what to do. All alone. She's all alone." It whispered, the foul breath blew into her ear.

    "I'm not alone." She whispered.

    "The girl must speak up. Can't hear her when she whispers." The voice taunted once again.

    "I said I'm not alone." Her confidence grew, she thought of Angel and his oath to protect her. "Angel is with me, always." She smiled through the tears that the malicious voice brought to her, there in the darkness that consumed everything.

    "The girl must learn to stand on her own." The voice said darkly, the confidence it held shaken by her fearlessness.

    "No she doesn't." Angel's voice rang out through the darkness, Julia looked up, and a brilliant light fell from above as Angel descended. Only now he was clad in white and gold, a radiant golden cape fluttered behind him as he descended. "Not as long as I'm here."

    The red-eyed shadow looked up, with a look of pure hatred. Angel drew a blade of pure light and vanquished the shadow with a single flourish of his sword. His back was to Julia, she was smiling as he turned his head. He was no longer wearing his mask, but what she saw was not a shadow, but a beautiful, pale face. Golden hair reached down to his shoulder and he smiled back at her. "Sorry to make you wait, princess."

    "It's fine, Angel, you had perfect timing." Her eyes were filled with tears again, but now they were of joy.

    "I told you, I'll never leave you again, but now, it's time to wake up." He smiled softly at her, and as the darkness faded, so did he. Now she was engulfed in light, and she was filled with a warmth that not even the bitterest cold could penetrate.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Julia opened her eyes, and was greeted by the sun sneaking peeks through the tops of trees. Yes, they were still in the forest, but Angel assured her that they were very close to the Kilon Pass. Then she remembered. Angel. She looked over and saw him leaning against a large tree trunk. Angel had told her that the trees in Terra were the oldest living things in the entire realm, some of them were thousands of years old. He turned his head to look at her, he was in his normal black tunic, and his eyes looked at her from behind the same mask as always, but she would never forget the beautiful, golden face from her dream, nor the radiant white tunic that glowed brighter than the sun.

    "Is everything all right, princess?" He asked when he noticed her staring.

    "Everything is fine, Angel. Sorry, I guess I'm just stuck in a dream, I'll be fine once I wake up a bit." She said shaking her head, partially to wake herself, and partially to hide her embarrassment.

    "If you say so, we should get moving. I'm afraid we don't have much in the way of food, but I did found a few berries for you. You'll need to keep up your strength." He passed her a make-shift plate with an assortment of various berries, Julia took it with a smile and popped one into her mouth. "Sorry to rush you again, princess, but we really should get moving."

    "Alright, Angel, just let me fix my hair. Is there a mirror anywhere?" She asked, running her hands through her hair as though they were a brush.

    "Because your hair is really the most important thing right now, is it?" Adam chimed in from his place down at Julia's feet. "Need I remind you that you made me sleep in the dirt, no respect for good literature these days." Adam sighed, almost simultaneously with Julia. She rolled her eyes as she picked Adam up off of the ground, "Besides, your girly habits will have to wait. We need to keep moving, those things could find us at any moment. If they do, I won't be-- I mean, you won't be safe."

    "Oh, you're quite the brave one aren't you?" She said as she slung her bag over her shoulder and tucked him under her arm.

    "Did you see what that thing did to Shadow-Walker? It almost ate him. Ate him." Adam repeated.

    "Yes, I did see, that's why I cast a spell to help him, remember that bit?"

    "Psh. You got lucky. Plain and simple. There was no guarantee that would stop the monstrous thing." Adam had a point, it was a lucky break.

    "So, what? Are you saying that it wasn't even worth trying? Angel's still here, isn't he?" Julia said pointing, "And if I'm not mistaken, you're perfectly fine too." She said with a nod.

    "Maybe on the outside, but my pages are frayed. This is more stress than an old book like be should handle." He made himself sound weak, "I can feel my spine bending, looks like I'm coming to my epilogue, don't bother with me, there won't be a sequel." He sounded so pathetic Julia let out a laugh, "Hey! I thought those were some grade A lines, right there. I could literally feel my life ending, I was so in character."

    "Oh, hush. You're just being silly, you're all right."

    "That's enough, you two. Adam, stop arguing with the princess." Angel said as the came up to a clearing. "On the other side of this clearing is the base of the mountains, it's about another three days walk on foot." He said as he waited at the edge of the clearing.

    "Angel, why don't was just take the shadows? Wouldn't the trip be much faster if we did that?" Julia asked, not to be rude or to complain, just out of genuine curiosity.

    "It seems our little guardian stretched himself a bit too far in that fight the other day, his powers are still recharging themselves." Adam said bluntly, Angel cast him a disapproving glare.

    "Yes, I'm a bit tired from the fight, I expended too much strength. Though, I'm still fit to fight, we'll just have to stay out of the shadow-realm for a few days." He stepped out into the clearing and was immediately met by an incoming javelin. He leapt back just in time to avoid being hit. "Stay hidden." He whispered before he walked out into the clearing once more.

    "Still just as quick on your feet as ever, eh Shadow-Walker?" The voice was definitely human, though it sounded muffled by static. Julia immediately thought it was another Destroyer, being controlled from afar, only the figure that appeared from the tree line on the other side of the clearing was something much different. A dark grey metal made up the things body, it stood at roughly ten feet tall, and roughly six feet wide,. It's most disturbing feature, however, was the human head that sat at the top of the humanoid machine. It's body hissed and whirred as it moved, clanking as it stepped forward into the clearing. It's right arm was the equivalent of a cross-bow, only instead of arrows, it automatically loaded and fired javelins. It's left arm was a double-sided blade. It's powerful legs were capable of launching it high into the air. It was almost the perfect killing machine. "Ares has had just about enough of you." It said with a malicious smile, "So he decided to send one of his Second Lieutenants. Hopefully you don't disappoint me, it's been too long since I've had a good hunt."

    "Well, I'd hate to upset you. It does seem that you need to get out more. Though, I don't know what good exercise will do you without muscles." Angel said as he walked away from the area that Julia was hiding in, trying to prevent her from being spotted.

    "Oh, I don't do this for the exercise, I do it for the sport." He shot another javelin, this time purposefully missing his target, "And because killing people like you is just too much fun," He laughed a vicious laugh.

    "You're more of a monster than those machines, at least they kill because Ares programs them too. You've got the choice not to." Angel said, he was clearly angry. "People who turn against their own for the sake of power. People like you. I can't stand them." Angel drew two of his daggers.

    "I may have a choice, and I choose to end your life." He turned and halved a tree with a single swing of his giant sword, "I choose to serve Ares because this world will be reborn in flames, and all who oppose him will be destroyed."

    "Then there's nothing more to discuss, I will end you here." Angel jumped forward, attempting to end the fight quickly by jabbing a dagger into the things human face, unfortunately it was faster than he'd anticipated. He was nearly cleaved in half by the massive sword, he barely avoided with a mid-air twist.

    "Come on now, don't be boring," The monstrous machine growled, "I didn't let my body die to fight predictable attacks like that."

    "No, I suppose you just gave up your body to blindly serve your master. Killing anyone he deems a threat." The hostility in Angel's voice was unmistakable, but there was a touch of pain, the thought of knowing that people accepted Ares' rule so readily is what upset him the most.

    "You're one to talk, walking around with that body made up of shadows. For what? Revenge? You're nothing but a hypocrite." Another javelin was fired, Angel side-stepped.

    "I gave up my body, so that I could help defeat Ares and give people back their freedom!" He through a dagger at the man, the massive sword's flat side blocked it. Angel drew another from his belt.

    "I'm afraid I can't allow that."

    The machine-man took a stance that clearly meant the real fight was about to begin. No more words would be exchanged between the fighters. The monstrous, machine legs propelled the beast forward, a mighty swing of the sword made contact with the earth where Angel had been only a second before. He'd leapt up to avoid the Lieutenant's attack, and was coming down for the kill. He was met with another javelin that pierced through his shoulder. He fell to the ground, a loud thud resounded as he met with the hard earth.

    The man laughed deep and long before he spoke, "Over all ready? Where's your trickery? Come on, Shadow-Walker! Use the shadows!" He taunted, Angel stood slowly and removed the javelin. Dark blood spilled from the wound.

    He quickly threw two more daggers in quick succession, both of them were blocked. He breathed heavily, he wasn't prepared for something this advanced. "Ignus Pila!" Julia shouted as she ran out from the forest, a ball of fire escaped from her outstretched hand. It made contact with the Lieutenant's crossbow arm, effectively blowing it off. It was not enough to disable him though.

    "What's this then?" He smiled as he turned toward Julia, "There's the girl. I was going to come and find you after I dealt with your friend over here, but it seems you just couldn't wait." He began to walk toward her. Slowly. Menacingly.

    "Now would be a good time to run!" Adam shouted, Julia stood firm and extended her arm again. "No, no no! You aren't ready for another blast like that! You need to practice, and in order to do so you must live!"

    "I can't watch Angel die!" She shouted as the Lieutenant raised his blade high above his head, ready to attack.

    "Neither can I." All the heads turned in the direction of the new voice. At the edge of the clearing stood a man. The man had long red hair, and a red goatee, he wore a black scarf over a gray shirt and dark brown pants. All of his limbs were robotic, he raised his right arm and a sword extended from it. The sword then began to heat up, as was evident by the faint red glow that it began to take on.

    "Phineas. You… Traitor!" The Second Lieutenant changed targets almost immediately, he rushed forward, he lunged at the newcomer. The man side-stepped and fell to one knee, holding the blade out to the side. The Lieutenant's legs were cut clean off. A resounding crash echoed as the creature fell to the earth.

    The man walked over and held his left hand out, above the Lieutenant's face. From the forearm a new weapon appeared, it was similar to the Lieutenant's crossbow, only much smaller. The projectiles that it fired were not javelins, but small, black metallic spheres covered in spikes. They could be fired in quick succession, and now they were aimed directly at the machine-man's face. A quick snap of the weapon's firing mechanism, and the Lieutenant was silent, permanently.

    "Who are you?" Julia asked as he began to walk over.

    "I'm a friend, your highness." He stopped and smiled at Angel, "Long time, no see."

    "Phineas… How did you--" Angel started before fell to his knee. He was weak.

    "All in good time my friend, for now, we need to take you someplace where we can dress those wounds." The man called Phineas said, he took Angel and helped him walk out of the clearing, back into the forest in the direction of the mountains.

    Julia couldn't help but stare at the man's mechanical limbs, they were fascinating, and terrifying.

    "Don't worry, princess." He said as if he'd read her thoughts, maybe he was one of Angel's friends after all, "I'm not one of Ares' men. Although, it is his factories that did this to me. I'll explain later, for now, we need to look after our exhausted friend here." He smiled in a friendly way, Julia could sense no danger in the man, something told her that she could trust him.
     
    #9 Chadwyck, Oct 22, 2009
    Last edited by a moderator: Jul 27, 2014
  10. Time! In the nick thereof!

    This is going really quite well, if feeling as though it's following the standard pattern for fantasy genre tales (particularly with the introduction of high-standing member of the enemy's forces going rogue, or having been rogue for some time and just now coming out (let's have a celebration!)).

    Interesting to see that, despite having a body comprised of shadow, Angel can still bleed. This makes me wonder if Julia's dream was mere flights of fancy or some of you foreshadowing *hint hint wink wink*

    I like this, it is fun :D
     

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