Five Stars of Heaven: Chapter Twenty-Eight

End of an Empire

 

Energy shimmered around Kaku’s body as his own energy consumed him. His body turned to ash and blew away towards the distance, sunlight reflecting off of the ashes as they whisked away.

 

Tommy glared up at the Gorma palace. “He’s up there,” Tommy said. “Shadam’s up there.”

 

The teens stood besides Tommy. They stared at the palace above, grim looks of determination in their eyes.

 

“Let’s go kick some ass,” Rocky said.

 

“For sensei,” Adam said.

 

“It’s morphing time!” Tommy shouted. They armed their morphers.

 

“Chakra ignite, Aura Power!” They connected their braces. Energy shimmered around them as they morphed into their Ranger forms.

 

The Rangers extended their Thunder Swords towards the air while grasping their Thunder Gems. “Thunderzords, arise!”

 

The main five Thunderzords appeared, charging over the landscape. Red Dragon and Phoenix flew through the air as the Kirin, Tenma, and Lion charged forward from the ground.

 

The Rangers used their Thunder Blasters like grappling guns and reeled themselves on top of their zords. The Rangers leaned forward as the zords streaked upward towards the palace.

 

Dragon Ranger rolled his hands into fists. “I won’t let them win, sensei…I won’t.”

 

***

 

Shadam stood on the central platform within the Gorma palace. He was dressed in his normal black leather uniform. Various priests and warriors spread across the central floor. They cheered for him.

 

Shadam raised his hand to quiet them. “General Kaku…has been defeated!” Shadam shouted. “The Gorma will now be mine to command…which means the truce is over!”

 

Gara suddenly ran from the shadows, shoving her way past the priests and warriors. She stopped at the platform and looked up at Shadam. Her eyes looked panicked. “It’s Zydos,” she said. “He’s dead.”

 

“What?” Shadam said.

 

“And…it wasn’t natural…his entire body…it was as if his whole body was made of clay.”

 

Shadam laughed. “I just inherited an empire…do you think I care.”

 

An explosion sounded from the shadows of the palace’s outer chambers.

 

“Knock knock, Shadam!” Tenma Ranger shouted from down a corridor.

 

“Shadam!” Dragon Ranger growled.

 

Shadam, Gara, and some of the warrior ran to the edge of the palace’s central chamber.

 

They saw the five Rangers battling their way through an archway of tall, wide-spread pillars. Royal Guard soldiers, red-bodied Kyonshi, were being bashed away from the Rangers one by one. They saw the five Rangers move as one, smashing the grunts aside with a fluid combination of punches and kicks.

 

The priests and several dozen Gorma ran in panic, ducking into the dark hallways of the palace.

 

“Shadam!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he slammed a hook kick across a red Kyonshi’s head. “We’re here to make you pay!”

 

“You will die just as your sensei!” Shadam shouted.

 

image002Shadam snapped his fingers and summoned more Royal Guard from within the shadows. More than a dozen red Kyonshi surrounded two Gorma warriors. The Gorma monsters were covered in bulky suits of intricate gray armor. Only their third eyes were visible through their faceplates. Both monsters were armed with broad, double-edged swords.

 

The Rangers and Gorma Royal Guard slammed against each other with a flurry of blows.

 

Phoenix Ranger slammed the edge of her hand against a grunt’s neck. She slammed an outer crescent kick that smashed the soldier aside while bashing in its head.

 

Two of the red Kyonshi swung their staffs towards the Pink Ranger. Phoenix Ranger grabbed a soldier’s staff and ripped it upward from the grunt’s hand, smashing the grunt upside the head while turning back towards the other soldier with a spin kick across the head.

 

A soldier charged towards Kirin Ranger from the side. The Yellow Ranger leaned forward and slammed the heel of his palm against the soldier’s body, crushing its chest. Kirin Ranger armed his ring-shaped Star Blade and spun to his right, ripping a red Kyonshi across the chest with a burst of spark.

 

Two more soldiers swung their staffs towards the Yellow Ranger. Kirin Ranger used his Star Blade to slash across the grunts’ wrists, disarming them before kicking them aside.

 

Dragon Ranger outer blocked a soldier’s blow and slammed a sidekick against a grunt’s chest. A second soldier swung its staff towards the Red Ranger’s legs. Dragon Ranger hopped over the staff and kicked the grunt in the face while smashing his fist against a second grunt’s head.

 

Red Ranger unsheathed his Star Cutter and jammed the dagger through a soldier’s chest. Dragon Ranger spun forward with a reverse hook kick that smashed in a soldier’s head.

 

One of the Gorma monsters charged at Tenma Ranger while swinging its blade through a horizontal arc. The Blue Ranger ducked under the blow and rose back to full height while smashing a tornado kick against the villain’s head. Tenma Ranger continued the spin and slammed a reverse sidekick against the villain’s chest.

 

The monster stood its ground and swung its sword towards the Blue Ranger. Tenma Ranger blocked the blow and slammed a roundkick against the villain’s side. The monster stumbled backward as Tenma Ranger pressed forward with a flurry of tornado kicks.

 

The second Gorma speared its blade towards Lion Ranger’s faceplate. The Green Ranger sidestepped and slammed the back of his fist across the villain’s head.

 

The Rangers fought with all their strength and will.

 

Shadam unsheathed his sword and charged back into the thick of the battle. “Bastards!”

 

Gara armed her fencing-type saber and charged in to back up Shadam. But Lion Ranger extended his Thunder Sword to block her path. “Gara,” Lion Ranger said as he raised his sword into a fighting stance. “You’re mine.”

 

Gara lifted her sword. “You are as foolish as your late love, Kujaku.”

 

Lion Ranger charged forward to attack.

 

“Adam,” Phoenix Ranger called as she ran to help the Green Ranger.

 

Gara leapt to the shadows, wanting more room to maneuver. She leapt from the Gorma palace and arced her descent towards the ground below. Gara landed on the barren surface.

 

Lion Ranger and Phoenix Ranger landed on the ground near her and snapped into fighting stances.

 

“Gara,” Lion Ranger said. “Kujaku showed you mercy, and this is how you honor her for it?”

 

Gara readied her sword. “Fool. I am Gorma…nothing else will ever change that.” She charged forward to attack.

 

***

 

Back in the Gorma palace, Shadam was fleeing through dark passages lined with white columns, lit only by faint torches. Dragon Ranger was in hot pursuit, using his Thunder Sword to tear through every red Kyonshi that stood in his way. “Coward!” Dragon Ranger shouted. “Come out and fight!”

 

Shadam spotted a double door and ducked inside. The door slammed behind him.

 

Dragon Ranger ran out into the open to where he last saw Shadam. He looked behind him and saw the door. The Red Ranger tried to open the door, but was blasted back by a bolt of energy from the door handles.

 

***

 

Elevated pillars extended far from the ground below. Shadam stood on one of the pillars while speaking to the emperor, who was hovering on his platform.

 

“It is not time yet, Shadam,” the emperor said. “You may have beaten Kaku…but you cannot be emperor while I still live.”

 

“The Rangers are here,” Shadam said. “Only the power you hold can defeat them.”

 

The emperor nodded. “But of course.”

 

“But your mind is too warped to handle the power,” Shadam extended his hand. “So hand it over, and let me use it to crush my enemies.”

 

“Fool,” the emperor said as he pulled a red ruby out from his robes. “It belongs to me.”

 

The emperor extended the ruby towards Shadam. Tendrils of crimson energy blasted from the ruby and slammed against Shadam, electrocuting him while knocking him off the pedestal. Shadam fell through the darkness before crashing on the ground several stories below. The emperor looked down towards Shadam. “Thank you for reminding me that I still have power over you…I had forgotten.”

 

The emperor extended the ruby again. Tendrils of red energy shot forth and exploded against Shadam below.

 

***

 

Gara swung upward with a diagonal strike that slashed across Phoenix Ranger’s armor.

 

Lion Ranger moved in towards Gara’s side and swung his Thunder Sword towards her neck. Gara parried the blow and chopped her sword across Lion Ranger’s armor, the blade sparking on impact.

 

Gara extended her hand and emitted a crimson tendril of energy. The energy strand wrapped around Lion Ranger and tightened, pinning his arms to his side and nearly crushing his chest.

 

The Gorma snapped Lion Ranger off his feet and slammed him against a rock face. She swung him back around and slammed him against the ground while sending a burst of energy through the strand. The pulse exploded against the Green Ranger’s armor with a burst of spark.

 

Gara snapped the Ranger backward and crashed him against the rock face again before releasing the tendril’s grasp.

 

Lion Ranger gained a footing along the rock face and pushed off. He sprang through the air towards Gara and slashed his saber down towards her head. Gara parried the blow and cut the Green Ranger from the air with a swipe from her sword.

 

***

 

Shadam slowly rose to his feet and looked up at the emperor. Shadam laughed mockingly. “You have power over me? I created you…”

 

The emperor laughed, his high-pitched voice echoing through the darkness. “Now who’s losing their mind?”

 

“This charade has gone on long enough,” Shadam extended his hand.

 

The emperor’s breath caught in his throat. He couldn’t breathe. The emperor tried to fire the ruby at Shadam again but could not move his hand. His arm had turned to solid clay. A wave of emptiness washed over him as his entire body turned to clay and started to crumble.

 

The emperor opened his eyes wide with horror while looking down at Shadam. The last thing the emperor saw was his own hand crumbling and falling through the darkness below.

 

Shadam caught the ruby in the palm of his hand. “It’s finally mine…all the powers of the Gorma…mine to command.”

 

***

 

Kirin Ranger slashed his Star Blade across the armored Gorma’s chest. He followed with a front kick that slammed upside the villain’s head. The Gorma swung his broad sword towards the Ranger’s helmet. Kirin Ranger swung his Star Blade as hard as he could and shattered through the villain’s weapon with a burst of spark.

 

Kirin Ranger stepped back into a fighting stance and aimed his Star Blade at the Gorma monster. “Star Blade Assault!” He used his Kiryoku to energize the blade and shoot it forward like a bullet.

 

The blade shot through the villain’s body, tearing the monster’s insides apart. The villain crashed to his knees as his body overloaded and exploded with a burst of flame and spark.

 

Meanwhile, Tenma Ranger battled the second Gorma monster. The villain swung his sword towards the Blue Ranger’s body. Tenma Ranger kicked the blade away and spun forward with a roundhouse kick that slammed across the Gorma’s head.

 

Tenma Ranger pushed forward with a final strike.

 

“Tenma Flash Kick!” He launched a series of tornado kicks, each blow slamming across the monster’s head with a streak of blue energy. The final kick pulverized the villain’s head with a violent burst of spark. The Gorma crashed backward and exploded.

 

Tenma Ranger and Kirin Ranger ran into the dark corridors to regroup with Dragon Ranger.

 

The Red Ranger was standing in front of the doors. A wave of the red-clothed Kyonshi were swarming around him. Dragon Ranger snapped a roundhouse kick across a grunt’s head. He spun forward with a reverse sidekick that smashed a second grunt.

 

“Fire Stream!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he thrust his hands forward and produced a stream of fire that exploded against the remaining villains and knocked them off their feet.

 

Tenma Ranger and Kirin Ranger regrouped at the their leader’s side.

 

“Shadam?” Kirin Ranger asked.

 

“This way,” Dragon Ranger said as they turned towards the door.

 

The three Rangers thrust their hands forward towards the door. “Kiryoku!” A combined wave of invisible energy shattered through the door while ripping it off its hinges. They ran into the massive chamber of darkness, surrounded by rising pillars.

 

“Rangers!” a high-pitched voice called to them from above. They looked up.

 

The emperor’s crumbling mass was still falling apart. The emperor’s eyeless, separated head was calling down to them. “Rangers!” the emperor screamed, his voice thick with madness. “Beware of Shadam, he’s not what he seems…beware the creator…”

 

The emperor’s head crumbled and crushed along with the rest of his body.

 

“Okay,” Tenma Ranger said. “Now I’ve really seen everything.”

 

“He died just like Zydos,” Kirin Ranger said.

 

Another voice’s laughter echoed throughout the chambers. The laughter seemed just as insane, but different. The voice seemed maddening, thrilled to the depths of its dark soul with newfound power. It was Shadam.

 

The Gorma stood on a pillar above with the red ruby in his hand. The ruby was sending tendrils of energy coursing through Shadam’s veins. He continued to laugh as the white robes of the Gorma emperor appeared around him, and his face became pale.

 

Shadam looked down at the Rangers as the ruby continued to flash with red-tinted energy within his hand. “Rangers…” he said. “The emperor, Zydos, and Gara were resurrected by me…all for this moment.”

 

Shadam held his ruby high above his head. The ruby pulsed with energy and shot downward with jagged bolts of energy. The energy blasts exploded around the Rangers with bursts of spark that thrashed across their armor.

 

***

 

Gara extended her palm and fired an energy pulse that exploded around the two Rangers as they rolled for cover. Lion Ranger and Phoenix Ranger rose to their feet and sprang forward through the air, leaping towards Gara to attack.

 

Gara opened her jaw and spat spheres of fiery energy that exploded against the two Rangers’ armor and knocked them from the air. The Rangers crashed against the ground, smoke still rising from their chest armor because of the blast.

 

“You two disgust me,” Gara said as she charged towards the two Rangers.

 

“Same goes for you,” Lion Ranger said as he rose. He placed his fist against his palm. The lion eyes on his helmet flashed with pale blue light. “Heaven Illusion Star, Mist Concealment Destruction!”

 

Lion Ranger thrust his arms forward. He fired a stream of fog that surrounded Gara. The Green Ranger created an illusion of a subway train. The train crashed through Gara and exploded across her body.

 

Phoenix Ranger stepped forward and placed her palm against her fist. “Heaven Wind Star! Whirl-wind Destruction!”

 

Phoenix Ranger blasted a whirling stream of pink energy that blew across Gara, knocking her off her feet as explosions sparked across her body.

 

Gara crashed to the ground. Lion Ranger and Phoenix Ranger walked over towards Gara’s fallen form. The Green Ranger extended his Thunder Sword down towards the Gorma’s neck.

 

Gara narrowed her eyes at the Green Ranger. “Do it.”

 

“Goodbye, Gara,” Lion Ranger said.

 

A feather of Kujaku suddenly drifted from the air and landed at Lion Ranger’s feet. The feather started to glow and pulsed with energy. The energy flashed towards a nearby cliff above. An image of Kujaku’s spirit appeared. Her translucent body was covered in white, sparkling robes.

 

Adam powered down his armor and ran to the base of the cliff. He looked up at Kujaku, his eyes wide open in amazement. “Kujaku!”

 

“Adam…” Kujaku said as she looked down towards him. “The enemy you fight is not the true Gara.”

 

Gara rose to her feet and narrowed her brow while looking up at Kujaku. “What?”

 

Kujaku extended her hand. A flash of light appeared besides Kujaku and took shape. The shape formed another woman in white robes. The woman was Gara.

 

Below, Gara opened her eyes wide in shock. “What?”

 

“You are dead, Gara,” Kujaku explained. “Your soul has been winged to heaven by the power of my prayers. The body you have now…is nothing more than a puppet grown from Shadam’s memory of you.”

 

“Impossible!” Gara shouted as she collapsed to her knees.

 

Coldness washed over Gara’s body. She was turning to clay. She keeled over in pain as she screamed. She landed on all fours. Her arms started to turn to clay and crumbled. Gara collapsed onto her chest. Her head turned to clay and rolled off her body before crumbling.

 

“Gara,” Adam said as he and Kimberly watched.

 

“She is with me, Adam,” Kujaku said. “Her soul will finally be at peace. As will mine…it was nice to see you.”

 

Adam nodded. He was speechless. His breath caught in his throat.

 

“Goodbye, Adam,” Kujaku said. She and Gara disappeared.

 

“Kujaku…” Adam whispered.

 

***

 

“Behold the power I now have and tremble!” Shadam shouted. He fired another volley of bolts that exploded against the three Rangers below.

 

Shadam laughed with madness as he teleported to the lower level of the chamber. He tilted his head back and cackled with insanity as he walked towards the three Rangers.

 

“Shut up!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he unsheathed his Thunder Sword.

 

Dragon Ranger, Tenma Ranger, and Kirin Ranger surrounded Shadam. They pounced forward at once to attack, but Shadam blasted them back with another pulse from his ruby. The pulse exploded against the Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark and knocked them back.

 

“How does it feel, Rangers, to know you are moments away from seeing your precious master in hell?”

 

“Bastard!” Dragon Ranger shouted as he charged towards Shadam.

 

Shadam used the ruby to emit an energy leash that wrapped around Dragon Ranger. Shadam snapped the Red Ranger from his feet and swung him through the air. Dragon Ranger crashed through several pillars as the leash tightened, causing explosions to thrash across the Ranger’s armor.

 

***

 

The battle caused a ripple of disturbance. Ripples of chaos. Ripples of battle. Noise. Daijinnryu hated noise.

 

The gigantic black dragon snapped downward from the clouds like a serpent. The demon dragon roared, its voice producing a shockwave that crumbled mountains. The dragon cast a shadow on everything below as it landed and stared down at the floating Gorma palace and spheres.

 

The black dragon opened its maw and fired jagged bursts of yellow energy that exploded through several spheres. The spheres ripped apart, and debris started pounding against the palace, tilting the inverted pyramid’s axis.

 

Below, Adam and Kimberly collapsed as the ground trembled from the black dragon’s landing.

 

“Not him again,” Adam said.

 

“Tommy…” Kimberly said. “He’s still up there with the others.”

 

***

 

The inside of the palace nearly ripped itself apart as debris crashed against the pyramid. Shadam struggled to keep his balance as the palace started to rock. “This can’t be happening now!” Shadam shouted.

 

Rubble started to fall as the ceiling above collapsed, and pillars crumbled down. The Rangers struggled to keep their balance while avoiding the debris.

 

***

 

The dragon continued to pour energy from its massive mouth. Gorma spheres exploded into billions of pieces that crashed against the pyramid.

 

Below, Kou and Kameo ran to Adam and Kimberly. “Phoenix Ranger!” Kou shouted.

 

“It’s Daijinnryu!” Kameo shouted.

 

“We noticed,” Adam said.

 

***

 

The palace was falling apart. Blue lightning discharged from the pillars and walls, thrashing across the Rangers’ armor with bursts of spark. Fires erupted as energy overloads continued to storm throughout the shaking palace.

 

“Tommy, we have to jump ship,” Tenma Ranger said.

 

“Don’t even think about it, Dairanger!” Shadam shouted in a maddening voice.

 

Shadam pounced forward and glided past the Rangers while slashing across their armor, his claws sparking on impact. Shadam landed and turned to face the Rangers. He extended his ruby and blasted them with another lashing of jagged energy strands.

 

***

 

Adam, Kimberly, and Kou ran towards the palace. They looked up as the Gorma fortress continued to rock and tilt from the black dragon’s attack.

 

“No!” Kameo shouted as he ran towards the three rangers. “You’ll be killed!”

 

“We have to help the others,” Adam said as he and the others armed their morphers.

 

“Chakra ignite!” they shouted as they leapt through the air and transformed into their armor.

 

***

 

Dragon Ranger pounced forward and swung his blade towards Shadam’s head. Shadam knocked the Red Ranger’s arm away and pushed him backward, sending him crushing through a pillar.

 

Kirin Ranger and Tenma Ranger swung their swords towards the Gorma’s body. The villain hovered above their swords and blasted them with strands of crimson energy that exploded across their armor with bursts of spark.

 

Shadam flipped through the air and landed on top of a tilted pillar.

 

Lion Ranger, Kiba Ranger, and Phoenix Ranger entered the chamber and regrouped around their teammates. “Shadam!” Lion Ranger shouted.

 

Shadam laughed at them. “All six of you? You’re making this too easy for me!”

 

The villain extended his hand and fired crimson energy blasts that exploded against their armor with bursts of spark that knocked them backward.

 

“Guys,” Dragon Ranger said as he rose to his feet. “We have to take him out now.”

 

“How?” Kirin Ranger said.

 

“We’ll focus all our power through our gems,” Dragon Ranger said. “Just like he’s doing with his.”

 

The Rangers held their Thunder Gems between their hands. They thrust their arms forward and focused their Ki through the gems. Streaks of multi-colored light shot forth and exploded against Shadam, sending him flying off his feet and toppling across the shaking palace floors.

 

Shadam rolled back into a crouched fighting stance and fired a jagged beam of energy that whipped across the Rangers’ armor, sparking on impact.

 

Kiba Ranger rose to his feet and tightened his grip on his saber. “Byakko,” Kiba Ranger said. “We have to make him pay…for my mother…”

 

“Let’s do it Kou!” Byakko shouted.

 

“Kou?” Shadam said, the madness consuming his mind. “My son…”

 

“You’re nobody’s father!” Kiba Ranger shouted. “You’re a twisted shell of a human being!”

 

The Rangers held tightly onto their gems and thrust their arms forward. Blinding beams of light burst forth and speared towards Shadam. Shadam extended his ruby and fired a crimson energy blast that slammed against the Rangers’ energy beams. The blasts intercepted and thrashed out of control, ripping apart the chamber and causing massive bursts of flame and spark.

 

The shockwave knocked the Rangers and Shadam backward. The rangers’ armor powered down from the feedback, and Shadam returned to his normal black-leather garb. His ruby was cracked, damaged beyond repair.

 

Outside, the black dragon fired a burst of energy that knocked the Gorma palace from the air. The palace crashed against a mountain and started sliding down the mountainside.

 

The inside of the palace shook violently, throwing the rangers and Shadam off their feet. Flames erupted around them.

 

Shadam climbed back to his feet and bolted off towards one of the palace’s smaller hallways. Tommy narrowed his eyes as he watched Shadam flee. The teen sprang forward and bolted after the Gorma.

 

“Tommy!” Kimberly called for him. But Tommy was already inside the passageway.

 

***

 

Shadam was knocked off balance as the palace continued to quake. He leaned against a wall for support and kept running.

 

Tommy sprang forth and slammed a jump sidekick against Shadam’s back. Shadam toppled forward but rolled back to his feet. The ranger moved in and attacked with a round kick across Shadam’s head and a reverse sidekick against the villain’s chest.

 

Shadam ducked and slammed his fist against the ranger’s gut. Tommy slammed his elbow down against the back of Shadam’s neck. The villain collapsed to the ground, and Tommy kicked Shadam upside the head.

 

Shadam sprang forward and grabbed Tommy in a chokehold, nearly snapping the ranger’s neck. “You are as foolish as your father…”

 

Tommy narrowed his eyes. He grabbed Shadam’s wrist and twisted to break free from the chokehold.

 

“Burn Knuckle!” Tommy shouted as he swung his left arm forward. His fist radiated with fiery energy and slammed against Shadam, crushing his chest and sending him slamming against the hallway wall.

 

Shadam collapsed to the ground as coldness washed over him. He was turning to clay. Shadam opened his eyes wide with shock. It was impossible. His hands turned to clay and crumbled before his own terrified eyes. He would have screamed, but his throat was only clay. He glared at Tommy before his head turned to clay and crumbled onto the ground.

 

***

 

The other rangers and Kameo ran from the palace and took cover as it skid to a halt and exploded. The shockwave sent the rangers and Kameo flying through the air and skidding across the ground.

 

“Tommy!” Kimberly shouted. She prayed he had made it out alive.

 

Then through the smoke, the rangers saw Tommy limping forward.

 

“Tommy!” they shouted as they ran to him.

 

Kimberly wrapped her arms around him in a tight hug. “That’s the second time you’ve done that to me.”

 

“Sorry dear,” Tommy said as he grinned.

 

“You idiot,” Rocky said. “You scared the crap out of me.”

 

Tommy nodded. “Let’s go home.”

 

***

 

The rangers compared stories about their final battle and managed to piece together a partial explanation.

 

The battle between the Gorma and Dai tribes ended 6,000 years ago. Kaku, Tommy’s father, Kou’s mother, and others, survived throughout the centuries because of The Power and their Kiryoku.

 

There were those within the Gorma remnant who had integrated themselves into society, but wanted the war to start again. They wanted the Gorma empire back. But the few remaining Gorma would not follow any leader. They would only follow their emperor.

 

Kaku was next in line to be emperor, but defected. So someone recreated the emperor from memory. Someone recreated Shadam and the Gorma Triumvirate. Someone planned to have Shadam defeat Kaku in battle and assume the title of emperor.

 

But who?

 

***

 

The five teens ran through the street and stopped in the park. Tommy sighed as he faced the others. “Well…I guess this is it,” Tommy said.

 

Rocky nodded. “This the part where we go our separate ways.”

 

“It’s what Kaku wanted,” Adam said. “Us to go on as normal.”

 

Tommy extended his hand. Kimberly placed her hand on top of his. The others did the same. Tommy looked to each of his friends. “Adam…Rocky…Billy…Kimberly…”

 

One-by-one, they walked off in silence.

 

No one noticed the Dark Man watching from behind a tree. “Don’t worry, Tommy,” he said quietly. “You’ll see your friends again soon enough.”

 

THE END

 

The saga continues in Book Four: Land of the Rising Sun