Volume I: Into the Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page) | Volume II: The Shadows Coil (Review / CBW Page) | Volume III: The Darkest Light (Review / CBW Page) | Volume IV: Shattering (Review / CBW Page) Volume V: The Final Prophecy (Review / CBW Page) | Volume VI: Eternal Darkness (PDF / Review / CBW Page)
Volume I: Into the Darkness
Waves of flame, red and white, flashed above the dark-armored Elemental’s head as he raced down the ledge of the tall mountain. The flames’ heavy shroud of darkness obscured almost everything around him. Even with the full moon shining above his head, he couldn't make out anything but the path before him and the deathly red of the horrid flames as they danced across the summit of Obsidian Peak like a destructive, raging demon.
Must... escape now. His thoughts sounded weaker than usual, as though the roar of the hungry flames pervaded his mind as well as the world around him. If the Spirit Toa is lost, all of our work has been for nothing.
He knew that at least one of his Order was dead already, speared through the eye by the traitor. Many others had been badly wounded in the escape, but he knew at least two members of their Order were still alive.
It’s too late for the Shadow Orb. Thought the Elemental grimly as, pausing at the foot of the peak, he watched the flames engulf the entire mountain in a horrible conflagration of red and yellow.
He knew that their prize, the greatest treasure ever obtained by their Order, had been lost forever in the brief and deadly skirmish. The Elemental cursed the name of the traitor quietly, imagining his claws slashing open the treacherous Elemental’s throat...
For a few moments, the Elemental stared at the blaze, his red eyes gleaming with unspoken vengeance as he watched the destruction of his Order. Then he tore his gaze away from the mountain, remembering there was still one chance for their survival.
The Shadow Orb was only the beginning. With the Spirit Toa at our command, nothing will stand in our way ever again.
The dark being’s lips twisted into a dark smile as he again imagined gouging his claws into the traitor's throat, watching his lifeblood drain away. With the raw power that this Toa carried within him, nothing would ever defeat their order.
Turning away forever from the scene of their defeat, the Elemental strode through the forests, toward the small group of Copies of Corpse left guarding the Spirit Toa while he'd been at Obsidian Peak. Leaving such beings as weak as the Copies guarding such a strategic pawn in their game had been risky, but with all of his elite soldiers and mercenaries guarding the perimeter
of the Mountain, there had been no choice.
The thought that the traitor might reach the Copies before he did enraged the Elemental, spurring him on. He knew that while it was unlikely any of the soldiers he'd hired to guard the mountain had survived -- the traitor was far too skilled to allow any of them to escape -- but it was likely that several of the order were also still alive.
Their lives are irrelevant. The Spirit Toa is the only thing that matters now. he thought as one of the Copy guards came into view. The cavern system where he'd hidden the Spirit Toa and stationed the sentries was one of the most secure fortresses in the known universe. He'd used the Shadow Orb's power to render the cave system unnavigable by anyone except himself or the bearer of the Orb.
Striding up to one of the Copies, the Elemental rasped, "We were betrayed. We're leaving now with the Spirit Toa."
The Copy did not argue, but simply stepped aside into the cave. The Elemental followed, his eyes shining with fury against a sinister black backdrop. Before he vanished into the darkness, he took one last, lingering look at the burning mountain in the distance, then with a contemptuous flick of his curved, scythe-like tail, vanished into the cavern.
The caves were dimly lit by several flickering torches, as well as glowing patches of silvery moss that hung from the walls and ceiling. Pausing before a massive gate made of black, twisted metal, the Elemental raised a single claw and the gate swung open.
"What's happening?" asked a new voice. The Elemental turned his gaze on the Toa standing before him. His armor, golden and black, gleamed in the shadows. The Toa's pale green eyes stared at him, wide-eyed with fear as he stared at the Elemental in awe. "Where are we?"
The Elemental was about to reply, when another being, taller and armored in red and black, seemed to materialize out of the darkness behind the Toa.
"I suggest you give me the Spirit Toa," he ordered calmly, "or things will become unpleasant."
"Arcturas" screeched the Elemental in rage. He pointed a single curved talon at the other Elemental. "Back off! This Toa is mine!"
An insane rage burning in the red Elemental's eyes, Arcturas snarled back, "I'll never let you resurrect your Order, Skorpix."
"Then die," hissed the Elemental in a low voice as he lunged at Arcturas. The red Elemental drew a long, black weapon of half-molten Obsidian, and as Skorpix raised his twin weapons, summoned his powers over fire and caused the weapon to explode into flames.
Dark energy crackled from the Elemental's hands as his power exploded from his claws toward Arcturas. The fire Elemental raised the flaming sword and blocked both of Skorpix's attacks.
Seeing that his attacks were ineffective, Skorpix, dark fire spiraling wildly from his talons, slammed into Arcturas. Arcturas was faster then he'd expected, and stepped to one side. The Elemental's claws scored thin air, and as he slashed wildly toward Arcturas, the other Elemental brought his weapon down, attempting to slash Skorpix's head from his shoulders.
Quick as lightning, Skorpix slipped away from the weapon and parried Arcturas' next few blows. As Arcturas began to force him onto the defensive once more, Skorpix suddenly brought both his wingblades down on Arcturas' shoulder, drawing blood. As Arcturas, realizing the attack had left Skorpix open to a fatal blow, stabbed outward beneath Skorpix's guard. Skorpix slipped away from the weapon and brought both of his weapons arcing down, toward Arcturas' chest.
Arcturas began to take a step back, then hesitated as he realized Skorpix was backing him up against the wall. While he was debating his next action, Skorpix struck again, ripping open Arcturas' shoulders savagely and clawing at his mask. The ancient Kanohi that the red Elemental was wearing spurred Skorpix on, allowing him to wrestle Arcturas to the ground.
Skorpix could hear the Spirit Toa yelling at them to stop and trying to break free from the grasp of his Copy guardians, but he was unable to comprehend anything but Arcturas as the two Elementals rolled over and over in a horrible, bloody melee. Skorpix scored two solid blows on Arcturas' chestplate and legs, and felt the spray of blood spatter against his mask. Arcturas managed to dodge Skorpix’s next two blows, and as Skorpix was about to tear open his leg with a swipe of his claws, brought his fiery weapon down on Skorpix’s back.
Skorpix snarled in pain and rage as blood welled from the wound, a startling crimson against his ebony armor. As he staggered away from Arcturas, the enemy Elemental raised the weapon again, thrusting downward at Skorpix’s neck. The Elemental dodged the blow at the last second, and as his weapon met empty air. Skorpix, now standing upright once more, retaliated with a barrage of chain lightning. Three of the bolts connected, voids of jagged shadow devouring the crimson armor and flinging Arcturas against the wall. The fire Elemental seemed to hang suspended for a moment, and then he collapsed on the ground.
Skorpix knew Arcturas still lived. His presence, while weak, was still detectable in the aura field. As Arcturas raised his head weakly to stare at Skorpix, the Elemental fired several bolts of shadow from his outstretched hand.
The bolts struck Arcturas head-on, and as Skorpix began to relax, expecting to hear the satisfying crunch as Arcturas’ spine disintegrated. But Arcturas was faster then he’d thought, and the bolts struck his shoulder, obliterating the armor and tearing into the muscle. Arcturas screamed in pain and rose to his feet, flinging several weak bolts of energy at Skorpix. Skorpix deflected them easily, but Arcturas, taking advantage of the distraction, charged him, sword drawn.
Skorpix fired several bolts of darkness at the charging Elemental, but Arcturas easily deflected them both with his sword. As Arcturas bore down on him, eyes wild, Skorpix raised his wingblades and tore the blade from Arcturas’ hand.
Arcturas didn’t immediately realize what had happened, and as his eyes alighted on his fallen weapon, Skorpix raised both of his weapons and stabbed out at Arcturas’ chest. Arcturas whirled around and, staggering backward and throwing his hand into the air, gathered a massive sphere of flame in one hand.
As Skorpix brought the blades down, scoring wounds across Arcturas’ already damaged chestplate, Arcturas released the fireball. A roaring torrent of flame washed over Skorpix like a raging tsunami of fire, and the Elemental screamed in rage. Arcturas watched as Skorpix’s elemental energies slowly overcame the flames. As Skorpix, disoriented, staggered towards him, Arcturas brought down his fist on one of Skorpix’s wingblades, sending it flying across the cavern.
Skorpix was dimly aware of the Spirit Toa being subdued by his Copy guards, but the pain of his burns made rational thought almost impossible. He could feel Arcturas probing his defenses, inviting him to begin battle using their Psionic powers. Skorpix knew that eventually the battle would come down to a test of wills, but for now he needed to weaken Arcturas further.
As Arcturas closed in, raising his weapon for the final blow, Skorpix stared at the ground beneath him. Arcturas was quickly halted as the ground turned into mud, and as he struggled to free himself, Skorpix created a column of earth beneath Arcturas, slamming him into the ceiling. Stunned, Arcturas fell to the ground.
Skorpix gestured to one of his Copy guards, who was standing over the struggling body of the Spirit Toa.
"Finish it." he ordered casually.
As the Copy drew near to Arcturas’ broken body, Skorpix saw Arcturas begin to rally. As he was about to warn the Copy, a massive bolt of pure fire struck him dead-on. Shattered pieces of Obsidian were scattered across the stone floor.
"Your arrogance will be your undoing, Skorpix. It always has been," snarled Arcturas as he rose to his feet, eyes burning as brightly as his weapon. Skorpix replied by blasting him with shadowy fire.
Arcturas deflected the blows easily, and then replied with a fire attack of his own. The lance of flame struck his enemy directly, but Skorpix let it sizzle through him with no apparent ill affects. Arcturas blasted him again, this time with a cone of fire, but Skorpix dodged and it struck a second Copy, scouring it from the earth.
Skorpix waved a hand lazily at Arcturas, and several jagged forks of blue lightning tore through the Elemental’s body, corroding his armor further. Skorpix could see his eyes were dimming, his
concentration slowly breaking.
"It is becoming apparent that this will not be decided by martial skill," continued Arcturas as Skorpix readied his weapon to retaliate. Skorpix could feel his mental probe drive deeper into his skull, and this time accepted his invitation to battle on the mental planes. As Arcturas staggered upright once more, Skorpix’s ray of immense mental power invaded Arcturas’ consciousness.
Arcturas retaliated quickly; using his probe to drive a burning ray of energy at Skorpix’s attacking shadows, driving them back. Skorpix regrouped his mental rays quickly, creating a shadowy circle on the physical world to hold Arcturas back.
Back and forth the battle of wills raged. Skorpix’s powers managed to overwhelm several portions of Arcturas’ consciousness, and he attempted to snap the Elemental’s spine. Arcturas broke the Elemental circle on the physical plane with a bolt of sizzling fire, forcing Skorpix to withdraw.
Sensing weakness, Arcturas poured more energy into the thought matrix between them, forcing his way into Skorpix’s mind even as Skorpix regained control over the physical battle. Both Elementals poured more power onto the physical world and strove against the mental barriers until both thought neither of them could continue.
Then Skorpix felt a disturbance on the physical plane as Arcturas abandoned his assault. Skorpix broke down the last of Arcturas’ mental barriers, and was about to immobilize the Elemental when Arcturas released the last of his energies onto the physical world.
Skorpix screamed in rage and pain as flames washed over him, breaking his concentration. Arcturas’ mental rays invaded his mind, seizing control over Skorpix Elemental powers of Earth and bringing the cavern ceiling down on top of him.
The ground shook as a torrent of darkness enveloped Skorpix, crushing him against the floor. The two remaining Copy guards charged Arcturas, but Arcturas dispatched them both, stabbing one through the chest and slicing the other in half.
Arcturas turned toward the Spirit Toa, who was lying unconscious where the Copies had stood only moments before.
Skorpix and the order erased all of his memories. Thought Arcturas. No one knows anything about this Toa... but the Last Prophecy predicted his arrival.
He traced one badly injured hand over the Spirit Toa’s mask, erasing the memories of the damage done today. Once he’d believed that the arrival of this Toa predicted the destruction of everything he’d believed in. Now... he was not sure.
Arcturas’ thoughts were suddenly interrupted as an explosion of shadow rocked the cavern. He could feel Skorpix, trying to break free from his earthen prison. He knew it would not hold him much longer.
For a moment, a single moment, Arcturas hesitated over the unconscious form of the Spirit Toa, the Toa that could one day change the fate of the universe.
Then he roused the Toa, and together they slipped into the shadows.
Edited by Varkanax39, Feb 12 2016 - 07:06 AM.