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Welcome, all, to the review topic of my most recent (and last) epic, In the End. Read the epic itself here. This epic serves not only as the finale to the Dawn Duology (consisting of this epic and the last, Dawn of the New Century), but also as the finale to my Bionicle fanfic universe (aka the Shikaverse) in general. It's been a fun ride, but with me putting more time into establishing my professional writing career, I feel like the Shikaverse's time has come. There's not much to say here, except that I suggest reading Dawn of the New Century first, if you haven't already. Some familiarity with the Shikaverse* in general would help, but it's really only Dawn that you need to read first, which can be found here. Comments, criticism, reviews, etc. are all welcome . *You can find links to other Shikaverse stories in the red link to my library in my sig. -TNTOS-
Hi and welcome all to my newest epic, In the End, the final book in the Dawn Duology and the final epic set in my Bionicle fanfic universe (aka the Shikaverse). This epic is a sequel to Dawn of the New Century, which you can read here. I highly recommend that you read Dawn first, otherwise this epic won't make a lot of sense. Table of Contents: Prologue Chapter I Chapter II Chapter III Chapter IV Chapter V Chapter VI Chapter VII Chapter VIII Chapter IX Chapter X Chapter XI Chapter XII Chapter XIII Chapter XIV Chapter XV Chapter XVI Chapter XVII Chapter XVIII Chapter XIX Chapter XX Epilogue With that out of the way, enjoy: Prologue 150,000+ years ago. . . . The tiny Sawori named Jinka ran through the castle hallways as fast as her short legs could carry her. She ran by guards, who recognized her as the King's messenger, servants scrubbing the floors (almost tripping over a bucket of water in her haste to reach the throne room), and a Heratonian noble who under normal circumstances she would have stopped to greet. Instead, she shoved him aside and muttered a half-apology, even with the knowledge that she would probably get in trouble for that later. Right now, she needed to find the King and tell him about the visitors who were waiting for him outside the castle. She had no idea who they were; however, she sensed that to stand against them would be every bit as foolish as standing against the storm, and probably more lethal. She eventually reached the large double doors coated in gold that protected the King's throne room like a pair of sentinels. It took her a few more minutes to argue with the actual guards to let her in. They insisted that the King wanted complete privacy, whereas she insisted that the King could not afford to ignore her message. They eventually relented, although she caught them muttering foul curses at her under their breath as they opened the doors. When Jinka entered the throne room, she couldn't help but glanced around in awe even as her feet carried her forward. Unlike the rest of the castle, the throne room was bathed in life. Instead of a carpet, a fine layer of grass covered the floor, while vines of various colors covered the walls and ceiling, twisted together to resemble paintings or wallpaper. A tiny stream with a bridge built over it flowed through the center of the room, emerging from the right wall and going down the drain at the other end. It was like stepping outdoors. At the other end of the room, the throne was bare. Worried, Jinka almost turned around to leave before a soft, though authoritative, voice said, “Jinka, what brings you here?” Startled, Jinka looked around until she spotted a large, well-armored being kneeling in the center of a small garden of flowers and vegetables in the lower left corner of the room. She wondered how she had missed him, because he was so much larger than anything else in the room, although she reminded herself that the King's armor was capable blending in with nature in ways none of the Sawori understood. With the King's eyes on her, Jinka bowed deeply and she said, “King Atuje, you have six visitors who wish to speak with you.” The King of Life lifted a small watering can and poured some water on his flowers as he said, “Who are these six, Jinka? Emissaries from the south?” “No, my lord,” said Jinka, shaking her head. “They're, well, they're hard to describe. I have no idea who they are or where they even came from. They simply demanded an audience with you.” Atuje looked up at her. His eyes were searing, searching, as if he knew every secret she had ever held in her entire life. Few Sawori were capable of standing underneath that gaze and Jinka was no exception, shrinking back under his burning eyes as she would from a large fire. “Six strangers show up on my doorstep demanding an audience with me and you don't bother finding out their names, at the very least?” said Atuje. “I am disappointed with you, Jinka. I thought you knew better.” The disappointment in his voice was perhaps worse than his gaze, prompting Jinka to say hastily, “Well, my lord, I can describe them to you. They're tall, but not as tall as you, and wear black cloaks. And they, well, they radiate this power that reminded me of yours, so I thought-” “I have no equals,” said Atuje. “I would know about them if I did. You must be mistaken.” Jinka wanted to agree with Atuje under the weight of his gaze and words, but something inside her – that stubborn spirit that had earned her a beating more than once as a child – kept her mouth going. “No, my lord, they really do radiate the kind of power you wield. It's different, obviously, but I can tell it equals yours.” Atuje stopped watering his flowers. For a moment, Jinka feared punishment for her insolence, but then the King said, “Yes . . . you are right. I sense their power now. It is not insignificant, to be sure.” Jinka breathed a sigh of relief. “Do you wish for me to go down and retrieve them, sir?” “No need for that,” said an unfamiliar voice behind her. “We're already here.” Startled, Jinka looked over her shoulder and saw the six visitors from before standing in front of the closed double doors. She didn't know how they had gotten there. She hadn't heard the doors open and they certainly hadn't climbed in through one of the windows, as those were closed shut. “I should be a more considerate host,” said Atuje as he placed his watering can down and stood up. “My name is King Atuje, the King of Life and ruler of Heratone. What are your names?” The lead visitor took a step forward, causing Jinka to scramble out of his way so as to not be in the middle of things, like a good servant. “You can call us the Great Beings. My name is Angonce.” “You did not introduce the rest of your friends,” Atuje said. “Are they simply your servants or are you forgetful?” The one named Angonce shook his head. “Their names aren't important right now. At least, they won't be until we're done talking.” “And what makes you assume I wish to speak with any of you?” Atuje asked. “You rudely barged into my throne room and refuse to tell me your names. To me, this seems like the genesis of an invasion.” “Rest assured, King of Life, that we have no intention of taking your realm from you,” said Angonce, gesturing to one of the windows. “We are already the rulers of our own world, anyway. And honestly, one world is more than enough to occupy our time, so why would we ever want another world?” “There are some beings who do not use reason,” Atuje said as he picked a flower from his garden and sniffed it. “In my time, I've met more than a few power-hungry fools who let their desire to be the king of the hill blind them from logic and reason. How can I be certain you are not the same?” “Because you don't even know us yet,” Angonce said. “But we have heard of your power and knowledge, Atuje, and that is why we are here.” “Explain yourself.” “There's one thing you need to know about us Great Beings,” said Angonce, gesturing at his group. “The one thing we value above all else – above money, above power, above even our own people – is creation. We are creators by nature, scientists who want to figure out how the universe works. It is our duty as creators to learn as much as we can about everything. Ignorance rarely created anything worthwhile, after all; at least, that is our belief.” “So you have come to me for training or knowledge?” Atuje asked. “You sound like experienced creators already.” “Both,” said Angonce. “We wish to be your apprentices for a short while, at least long enough to learn the one secret we know you hold.” “And what might that secret be?” Atuje asked, dropping the tiny flower into the flowers at his feet. “The secret to creating life,” Angonce answered. “True life, not just a robotic imitation. We have heard that you create beings and creatures that are every bit as living those birthed by nature, identical down to the last particle. We believe that the next step in our growth as creators is to create life.” Curious, Jinka glanced at Atuje. All the Sawori knew about Atuje's secret, but none of them knew what it was. It was a secret Jinka was well-acquainted with, having had direct experience with it in the past. She only wished she could remember how Atuje had done it, although she supposed ignorance was for the best, as knowing how it was done would probably be useless information to her anyway. Atuje stepped out of his tiny garden, carrying a carrot that Jinka had not seem him pick, and sat down on his throne, which was made entirely of tightly woven branches grown to resemble a chair. When he sat down, he took a bite out of his carrot and crunched on it thoughtfully for a moment before addressing the Great Beings again. “That is perhaps the largest request anyone has made of me in the last ten years,” Atuje said. “And it is also the largest request I will have to deny in ten years.” A shift in the room's atmosphere made Jinka look at the Great Beings. Though they didn't appear to have moved from their current position, she sensed they were ready to act at any moment. Considering the sheer amount of raw power their forms radiated, Jinka figured a conflict between them and Atuje would level the entire land or at least the castle and the surrounding countryside. She just hoped it wouldn't come to that. “You deny our request?” Angonce said, the disbelief in his voice obvious, even though it was equally obvious he was trying to hide it. “Of course,” said Atuje. “The knowledge needed to create true life is powerful. In the wrong hands, it could lead to untold destruction and chaos. Only a fool would hand out this knowledge to whoever asked for it. And I am no fool.” Angonce took a deep breath and said, “Rest assured, Your Majesty, that we Great Beings have no intention of using this secret for malice. Our only desire is to create. Nothing more.” “Have you heard the story of the logger?” Atuje said. Angonce shook his head, as did the other Great Beings. “Let me tell you it,” said Atuje. “Once, a long time ago, there was a Sawori logger who discovered a large forest previously unknown to his people. It was a beautiful forest, so beautiful that he didn't want to cut down any of the trees, despite the high quality wood that was abundantly available. He chose to keep this knowledge a secret until one of his friends convinced him to tell the rest of the world about it. 'Think of the money you could make,' his friend said, 'by selling this wonderful wood to the rest of the world.' “Having spent his whole life on the edge of poverty, the logger agreed. He spread this knowledge far and wide to every corner of Heratone. When everyone heard of it, loggers from all over the country made a mad dash for the wood and leveled the entire forest in the process. Not a single tree survived the onslaught of wood-hungry loggers. The beauty that the logger had once loved so much was gone, so the logger – having nothing to look forward to but a continued life of poverty – killed himself, as these stories usually end.” “I'm afraid we're not much for stories,” said Angonce. “Nothing you say will dissuade us from getting that knowledge.” “The moral of the story is that good intentions often have bad consequences,” Atuje said. “Besides, I haven't even perfected the technique yet. All of my creations have never been truly living. They have always required some mechanical parts on my end so they can function. Jinka, come here.” Trembling, Jinka nonetheless obediently approached her master. When she reached his throne, she stopped and stood with her back to the Great Beings. She tried not to look up at Atuje's face, as she had an idea of what he was about to do and looking at him would just make it worse. “Jinka is one of my creations,” said Atuje, patting her gently on the head with one of his heavy hands. “One of the best, in fact. She is the only one who has managed to successfully integrate with Sawori society. I can sense you are surprised. She does look very much like your average Sawori, doesn't she?” In spite of herself, Jinka began breathing hard. She reminded herself that Atuje was a fair and merciful ruler, that he hated killing, and that whatever he was planning to do to her wouldn't be cruel or unnecessary, probably wouldn't even hurt in fact. None of that calmed her in the slightest. “That is an illusion, however, crafted by my ingenious hand,” Atuje continued. “Watch.” Atuje wrapped his thick fingers around her right arm, causing Jinka to whimper. “What are you going to do to her?” Angonce said. “She whimpered.” “It is nothing, I assure you,” said Atuje. “She is going to be fine. The way I built her makes what I am going to do possible without leaving any permanent damage.” Without warning, Atuje ripped off Jinka's right arm. Behind her, the Great Beings let out various noises of disgust and surprise, but Jinka didn't join them. She just looked at the socket where her right arm had been. A hollow socket was all that was left, but Jinka didn't cry out, even though she wanted to. She just waited patiently as Atuje lifted her disconnected arm up for the Great Beings to see. “Behold,” said Atuje in the voice of a creator explaining the intricacies of his craft. “Her entire body is like that. About the only part that cannot be taken off in that way is her head; otherwise, she would die.” “So she's not really alive at all,” said Angonce. “Just a puppet.” Those words stabbed at Jinka's heart like a knife as Atuje said, “Hardly a puppet. While she may not be perfectly organic, she is nonetheless one of my subjects and I will not tolerate such an insult to her being.” Atuje reconnected her right arm. Jinka swiveled it several times back and forth, trying to make sure he had put it back on correctly. She realized she was holding her breath, which she let out rather more loudly than she intended. “Do you still want to know how to create life?” Atuje asked. “After what I just showed you?” Jinka glanced over her shoulder at the Great Beings. Though they still faced Atuje, she sensed they had all come to some sort of agreement without saying a word. “Of course,” said Angonce, without a hint of hesitation in his voice. “We want more than anything else to improve our craft. Besides, we can already see ways to improve your work, if Jinka is representative of your ability.” Atuje stroked his chin. “If I accept you as apprentices, what will I get in exchange? What do you have to offer me that I cannot get on my own?” “Another secret of our own,” said Angonce. “One we know you don't know. It is called soul-splitting.” Atuje's interest was apparently piqued at the mention of that technique, as he leaned forward in his throne, although Jinka didn't know what the term meant. “You mean you know how to split souls?” Atuje asked. Angonce nodded. “All of us do. And we've agreed to exchange that secret for yours. We believe the exchange is fair. Do you agree?” “It is more than fair,” said Atuje. “It is generous. You are going to tell me how to cheat death, how to survive long after my physical body has given out in exhaustion. Do you realize what that means?” “Of course we do,” said Angonce. “But cheating death is useless if we do not know how to bring about life, wouldn't you agree? We can complete one another's mental libraries with an exchange of knowledge.” “Oh, yes,” said Atuje. “Yes, yes, of course. I will teach you what I know and you will teach me what you know. Deal?” “Deal,” said Angonce. “Now where shall we begin?” “I will take you to my laboratory,” said Atuje. “I can only perform my experiments down there. Jinka, I want you to inform the rest of the castle that we have guests whose will require accommodations similar to my own.” “Yes, sir,” said Jinka, bowing. “I will make sure everyone in the castle knows.” With that, Jinka dashed away from Atuje's throne, perhaps a bit quicker than she should have. She passed the six Great Beings, who barely acknowledged her, and reached the large double doors. When she stopped to look back, she saw that Atuje and the Great Beings were already deep in talk about matters she couldn't possibly comprehend. What am I doing? Jinka thought. I've got a job to do, one that doesn't involve gawking at our guests. Still, as Jinka exited the throne room and dashed down the stairs, she couldn't help but sense of feeling of ominousness hang over her head like a dark cloud. She ignored it, however, as she came upon the first of her fellow servants and began explaining to him what Atuje had told her. Whatever happened would be under the King's power. She had no right to worry about it. Review Topic
I am pleased to announce that today I have posted the first chapter of my newest (and last) epic, In the End. Read it HERE. Epic will be 20 chapters long once it's finished. Schedule will be one chapter a week every Monday, unless otherwise noted. -TNTOS-