Chapter 11: Hurricane

Dark Man Fallen

 

PART ONE: Green Dragon Knight

 

Before time and space

 

Young Akuma gripped his sword hilt and snapped open the blade. “Dragon, roar!”

 

Jade energy flashed around him as he morphed into the Green Dragon Knight. His eyes glowed green from the shadow of his helm.

 

The Green Dragon Knight spun and slashed through a frost giant’s head. The head collapsed and tumbled across the frozen tundra of Jotunheim.

 

Dozens of armored menn scattered across the landscape as they battled the giants. Long’s Genki Fists joined them, and they smashed through the giants without mercy.

 

The Green Dragon Knight landed alongside the Red Dragon Knight. They stood back-to-back as giants surrounded them. The Red Knight gripped tightly onto Ryuuseikin, and the Green Knight gripped Kuroryuukin.

 

They slashed wide; their swords fired blades of energy that tore through the frost giants, ripping their frozen flesh and shattering their bones.

 

The two Knights split up and charged. The Green Dragon Knight channeled arcane power that fueled his every slash and strike. His sword glowed with jade energy that scorched the frozen flesh of the giant beasts.

 

A giant closed in behind the Knight. He snapped around towards the creature’s leg, slashing its knee. The creature collapsed to all fours, and the Green Dragon Knight plunged his blade through the creature’s head.

 

The last of the frost giants fell, and the Green Dragon Knight used his tabard to wipe the blood from his blade.

 

From above, Mikhail and a group of Heavenly Saints swooped down and landed on the tundra.

 

“This realm is clear,” Mikhail said.   

 

The Red Dragon Knight cursed beneath his breath at the sight of the fallen giants. “Yet another world tainted by the Dark One. It won’t be long before his reach extends to the Earth and Moon.”

 

The Green Dragon Knight shook his head. “I won’t let that happen.”

 

“It already has,” Mikhail said. “The Dark One’s forces attacked the realms of mann, but the armies of the Earth King and Queen Serenity repelled the attack.”

 

The Green Dragon Knight tightened his grip on his blade. “How many died…?”

 

Mikhail lowered his head. “Too many…”

 

***

 

INTERLUDE: Mesaana

 

Mesaana found her fellow Priests waiting for her when she walked into the main chamber of the Crystal Palace. Telemon glared at her while gripping his broadsword.

 

Mesaana…where have you been?” he asked.

 

She arced an eyebrow. “Healing the wounded on Jotunheim.”

 

Theryn scoffed. “Healing…I think not.”

 

“What are you trying to say?” Mesaana asked.

 

“We know, Mesaana,” Telemon said. “We’ve learned the truth: That after you heal, you inflict great pain for your own amusement.”

 

“That pain is an after-effect of my abilities,” Mesaana explained. “I can’t-”

 

“Lies,” Siuan said with a wave of her hand. “More lies…”

 

“Your methods are too close to the ways of the dark,” Telemon said. “They are…perverse.”

 

“We cannot allow another member of our order to turn to the Dark One,” Siuan said. “We are prepared to offer you mercy, Mesaana. We will allow you to remain within our realm…but we will strip you of your titles and position.”

 

Mesaana narrowed her eyes. “You’re valuing mannkind over me? An immortal? Your sister?!”

 

“We are valuing light over dark,” Siuan said. “It is that simple.”

 

Mesaana narrowed her eyes. Without a word, she turned and left the chamber.

 

***

 

Graendal, Long, Lanfear and Rahvin gathered in a secret chamber following their meeting.

 

Long smirked. “It looks like our brothers and sisters are getting suspicious. Poor Mesaana…”

 

“This may work out for the best,” Graendal said. “She’ll turn now. I’ll see to that. That leaves us with only Telemon, Theryn, Elaida and Siuan to worry about.”

 

“What about Ishar?” Rahvin asked.

 

“He won’t take sides,” Graendal said. “He knows about our plotting…and yet he’s said nothing to the others.”

 

“Still…” Rahvin said. “Best to strike now. Before the others learn of us.”

 

“Good,” Graendal said with a smile. “Lanfear, take care of the Green Dragon Boy. I’ll speak with Beryl…and Moridyn.”

 

***

 

PART TWO: Time

 

Akuma returned to the Moon’s Crystal Palace, base of the Priests and Dragon Knights.

 

He looked out the window and stared at the sparkling stars and nebulae of the cosmos. The sight looked still and peaceful, and always brought him calm.  

 

A Priestess of the One Power, Lanfear, approached him from behind. She wore a dark cloak, with a hood that covered her face with shadow.

 

“Akuma…” she said, her voice soft. “You look troubled.”

 

“How could I not, after the destruction I have seen. The chaos…” Akuma said.

 

“Come with me,” Lanfear said as she placed a hand on his shoulder.

 

They turned, and in a single step, they found themselves standing on a dark rock floating in a black void.

 

Akuma narrowed his eyes. “Where…?”

 

“I must show you something,” Lanfear said. Subtly, she channeled strands of magick that reached into Akuma’s mind and influenced his thoughts.   

 

“We live in a world too complex for the flesh-and-blood races to understand,” Lanfear said. “The Pantheon possess infinite senses. The cosmic races, no less than 77. You mortals? Six. Look out before you, and you see nothing but darkness beyond this floating, desolate rock. What would the Pantheon see? Dozens of planes of existence, intertwined in ways you cannot perceive or comprehend. The Creator sought to forge something wonderful, and he did…but his creation spawned creatures of limited capacity to enjoy his masterpiece.

 

“Do you know that we each exist in a moment that lasts an eternity? That our each step stretches infinity? But your perception does not allow you to embrace this truth. Instead, you’ve created an illusion of structure, restriction, that moves you from moment to moment. Your mother is not dead. Each mann was the first and last of his or her kind, always and never. We live in a state that Moridyn called the ‘now,’ but mortals perceive this as a passing of moment to moment: ‘Time.’ It is an illusion, constructed by a mind that cannot even be on the same plane of existence as the body. Not fully.

 

“The other Priests, they revel in these limitations. I…do not. I wish to see as the cosmic races see. I wish to live as the Pantheon. The Creator. To see the wonder of existence, the now. The always and never. These bodies meant to give us life…they imprison us.”

 

Akuma narrowed his eyes. “My mother…you say she still lives?”

 

“She exists, as all things exist, outside of this illusion called time,” Lanfear said.

 

“I wish to see her…” Akuma said. “Even if one last time.”

 

“My fellow Priests would never allow it. The Pantheon would never allow it. The Creator would never allow it. But the Dark One…”

 

Akuma snapped towards her. “You can’t be serious.”

 

“I am,” Lanfear said. “The Dark One’s work unravels the order than confines and limits our senses. You hate him for causing destruction and death, but there is no destruction or death. Everything that ever was, will ever be.”

 

“I don’t understand…” Akuma said.

 

“That’s because you can’t…” she whispered as she touched his face. “But let Moridyn show you…as he showed me….”

 

***

 

INTERLUDE: Beryl

 

Beryl kneeled in front of a wall of black flame. The fire twirled and churned with the essence of the Dark One. That essence spoke to her without a word, using telepathic messages that felt like sandpaper against her brain.

 

“The Green Dragon Knight will be the catalyst…” she said. “When the truth of his birthright comes out, two of the most powerful Priests will turn on each other. Even then…they still won’t understand Akuma’s true origin. His true power.”

 

The Priests would never guess that Akuma was so much more than a mann, more than the offspring of a mortal and an immortal Priest. Not even Akuma knew the truth of his own existence. Not yet, at least. But that would change…after the bloodshed.    

 

***

 

PART THREE: Betrayal

 

The Dragon Knights returned to the Crystal Palace following another mission — an attack against a race of fire creatures from the pits of Hades.

 

They walked into the main chamber in the midst of an argument between the Priests, with the exception of Beryl and Ishar, each absent.

 

Long smiled at the sight of the Green Dragon Knight. “Akuma…we were just speaking of you…”

 

“Speaking lies…” Theryn said.

 

“I’m afraid not,” Long said. “I thought you already knew, Theryn. That Akuma was Telemon’s son…not yours.”

 

The Green Dragon Knight stopped in his tracks. Telemon? His mother laid with not one, but two of the Priests?

 

“Lies!” Theryn shouted.

 

“Why did you think he was so powerful?” Long asked. “I did not mean to cause such a stir…I just meant to comment on the Green Dragon Knight’s level of strength. So much like his father. His true father-”

 

Theryn grabbed Long by the collar and tossed him across the room. “Enough of your lies!”

 

The Green Dragon Knight stopped listening. His mind buzzed with questions, confusion and clouded emotions. Theryn turned Tenshianna into a weapon, causing her death.  But even before that…he used her for pleasure? As did Telemon? To the point that neither knew which fathered their own son?

 

The Knight didn’t notice Lanfear whisper softly beneath her breath. She worked her magick to twist the strands of influence she planted in Akuma’s mind.

 

The Green Dragon Knight felt his heart pound with anger, and his pulse race through his neck. He tightened his grip on his blade and glared at the Priests, the manipulators…those who reveled in the confinement of their flesh-and-blood forms.

 

“Brother…” Telemon said softly. “I…It is true that I laid with Tenshianna, but only once. It was before you and she-”

 

Theryn trembled with rage. He tightened his grip on his lances. “You took her into your bed…?”

 

Theryn…” Telemon said as he took a step back.

 

“You took her into your bed?!” Theryn shouted as he lifted his lances and charged.

 

Theryn, stop!” Telemon shouted as he parried a volley of lance thrusts.

 

“Telemon! Theryn!” Siuan shouted as she rushed towards them. “End this madness!”

 

Graendal held her back. “Now, now, sister. Let the boys have their fun.”

 

“Graendal-”

 

Graendal narrowed her eyes and fired an invisible energy wave that hurled Siuan off her feet.

 

Siuan!” Elaida shouted.

 

Long grabbed her arms from behind. “This will only hurt a moment…”

 

Rahvin armed his dagger and stabbed Elaida’s chest. Elaida opened her eyes with a silent scream, as Rahvin twisted his dagger deeper.

 

“No!” the Red Dragon Knight unsheathed his sword and charged towards Rahvin.

 

The Black Dragon Knight, Blue Dragon Knight and Yellow Dragon Knight ran alongside him. But a wave of jade energy blocked their path.

 

The Knights looked to see the Green Dragon Knight with his sword in hand. The blade glowed with green power.

 

The Red Dragon Knight stepped into a defensive stance. “You…?”

 

“Stay back,” the Green Dragon Knight said.

 

Nearby, Theryn swung his lances through blurs of lightning, ice and fire that bashed Telemon backward step-by-step.

 

Theryn combined his weapons into a two-handed axe with a flash of light. He chopped, sparking a shockwave that blasted Telemon through the wall.

 

The lead Priest crashed onto the crystal street outside. Theryn leapt through the opening and angled his decent towards his fallen comrade.

 

“You were my friend…and you betrayed me!” Theryn shouted.

 

Theryn landed with a powerful chop that sparked a massive shockwave, shattering the streets, shaking the Crystal Palace, and causing the moon itself to tremble.

 

The Priest dropped to his knees and lowered his axe. Steam and smoke rose from the shattered ground around him.

 

Telemon lay still, his chest torn and bloody from the axe’s impact.

 

Theryn trembled at the sight. He stood, dropped his weapon, and staggered backward.

 

“What…what have I done?” he whispered.

 

A silver blade stabbed through his body from behind. The Green Dragon Knight slid the blade in deep enough for the hilt to touch the Priest’s back.

 

The Knight twisted his weapon. “You were never my father…”

 

The Green Dragon Knight channeled all of his energy into the blade. He channeled deeper, and deeper, until he somehow reached past The Power and touched something…darker. Primal. Pure.

 

His weapon flared with jade energy that tore Theryn’s insides to shreds. He pulled his blade free and sliced off the Priest’s head.

 

Slowly, Telemon climbed to his feet. He groaned with agony and staggered as he clutched his broken chest.

 

“Akuma…I knew not the truth…that you were my flesh and blood. If I had-”

 

“You would have done nothing,” the Green Dragon Knight said as he stalked towards his opponent. He remembered Lanfear’s words, as if forced through his psyche. “You are content with our limited existence, when we were meant for so much more. Such greater things.”

 

Telemon collapsed to his knees. “I will not fight you. You are my son…my flesh and blood…”

 

The Green Dragon Knight aimed his sword at his birth father. “You know what this is. A blade forged by one of your fellow Priests. Only a weapon forged by a Priest can kill a Priest.”

 

“Or Forsaken,” Telemon said. “They’ve clouded your mind.”

 

“No…” the Green Dragon Knight said. “They’ve released it.”

 

He lunged and stabbed through Telemon’s broken chest. The Knight twisted his blade with a burst of jade energy; Telemon exploded into ash.

 

“Akuma!” Elaida shouted as she ran towards him from the palace. She clutched the gaping wound in her chest, which gushed with blood that soaked her hand and cloak. She staggered and nearly fell, but managed to stay on her feet. “You have to stop! You’re not in your right mind! It’s Lanfear…she’s done something to you.”

 

“She’s shown me the truth,” the Knight said as he raised his hand towards Elaida. He gripped her with invisible energy that lifted her off her feet. “A truth that you and your fellow Priests fear…”

 

“Akuma…Your mother was my friend. She would not-”

 

Akuma tightened his grip. “Don’t dare to speak of my mother. I will see her again. For she still lives. All still live.”

 

Elaida channeled enough power to bash the Green Dragon Knight backward. His feet skid across the street, but he stood his ground.

 

The Priest snapped weaves of energy like whips that thrashed towards the Green Dragon Knight. But he parried the strikes and thrust his hand with a wave of dark energy.

 

The blast splashed against Elaida like a torrential wave and whipped her off her feet. She crashed and skid across the street.

 

Slowly, she climbed to her feet. Out of all the Priests, Elaida possessed the least amount of power. She specialized in magick of detection and insightfulness, not attack.

 

Her senses felt…wrong…when she faced the Green Dragon Knight. She felt as if he changed from the mann she once knew, and not just because of Lanfear’s spell.

 

Elaida narrowed her eyes. “What are you…? You are no ordinary mann. You are no ordinary Knight…”

 

“Your labels mean nothing to me,” he said.

 

The Green Dragon Knight swung his sword. The blade fired an energy blast that tore through the air with a clap of thunder. The power ripped Elaida in half. She would have screamed, but the energy discharge incinerated her body into ash.

 

The discharge exhausted the Green Dragon Knight; he collapsed onto his knee while using his sword for balance. His armor powered down with a flash of light.

 

Suddenly, the four Dragon Knights leapt from the palace and surrounded Akuma.

 

The Red Dragon Knight tightened his grip on his weapon. “Traitor…”

 

They pounced towards their former teammate to attack.

 

Akuma kept his sword lowered. His eyes turned solid red and misted with crimson energy. He felt raw power flow through his body — and then his world turned black.

 

***

 

Akuma’s vision blurred into focus. He found himself standing near the corpses of the four Dragon Knights, now torn to shreds. Steam and mist hissed from their broken armor, and their blood poured across the crystal street.

 

Lanfear’s spell lifted as she, Rahvin, Long, and Graendal walked towards him.

 

“What…” Akuma glanced at his blood-soaked blade and stepped backward. “What have I done?”

 

He looked over his shoulder and glared at Lanfear. “You…You did this! You poisoned my mind!”

 

Lanfear shook her head. “Every emotion that you felt was real. Every thought, every reasoning, real.”

 

“I would never…I didn’t wish this! I didn’t wish them all dead!”

 

“A part of you did,” Lanfear said. “But it matters not. You served your purpose. Like all of mann…you are nothing but a pawn. And your role in this game has ended.”

 

Rahvin stabbed him from behind.  The Priest twisted his blade with a burst of white hot energy that incinerated Akuma into ash.

 

***

 

The present

 

The Dark Man laced his fingers as he watched his computer terminals. Most showed images of Zadie, Ryan, Eiji and Samuel attacking his compound. But the central image showed Simon follow Shirogane down a rural road at a different scene.

 

The Dark Man smiled a crooked grin at the sight of the ranger. “Even outside of my control…your every action is a part of my grand design. A design that began at the dawn of time….”

 

He leaned back.

 

“Do you see me now, father?” he whispered. “Do you see what is about to become of the world of your gods?”

 

To be continued…Chapter 12