Simply clothed in a worm leather combination of a jerkin and pants, a simple wooden
staff in his hand, Zio walked along the harsh, destroyed remnants of the countryside
surrounding Kadary. He himself had utterly destroyed the once beautiful land with his own
hand, manipulating Nurvus to let the land recede into its desert state, impoverishing and
starving the surrounding villages. Such beauty, he had destroyed, and the guilt he suffered
was almost unbearable. In his memories, he saw the sweeping fields of wheat, corn, cows out
to pasture. Small farms with smiling families, toiling under a rich soil to feed themselves,
yet happy. He himself, by his own hand, had reduced this beautiful land to an arid valley of
death. However, that was in the past.
Zio came to the gates of Kadary. He was here to begin his journey. Le Roof De
Rykros had told him that to begin his journey; he must correct a past sin. As he ventured
forth through the scattered towns, cowering from a legacy he left behind, he knew what it
was that he must do. There was someone he must meet. Crossing under the huge gates, into a
town of terror, people looking at him oddly. They had never seen a healthy human before, not
in these parts. Maybe in Aideo, under the direct protection of the Hunter's Guild, you might
see people like Zio, but not in the fallen towns of Kadary, Molcrum, or Piata. Even Piata
fell under the evil spreading forth like a plague. This evil Zio knew well, for it was
devoted to him.
The Cult of Zio.
People walked by in a trance chanting his name. They were under the spell of a
fanatic, but it was not for them he had come. He had come for two reasons, and two reasons
only, to Kadary. One, to finally level that scar on the face of the planet, the temple of
Zio, and two, to confront the man who rules in his name. Walking along the cobblestone
streets, amid small shacks of homes, fanatics eyeing him suspiciously, Zio used his magical
abilities to search for remnants of a terrible power. He felt it, like a knife covered in
cold fire, in his gut, his esper powers reacting strongly to a concentration of the Black
Energy Wave. Even after the Profound Darkness' permanent resealing, its treacherous
tentacles still reached into this world, maybe not to destroy it, but to cause unrest,
death, decay, to destroy. The Profound Darkness had an infinite amount of patience. However,
this particular concentration of Black Energy was very much known to him. He had wielded it
on many occasions.
Finally coming to the temple, it's mockery of beauty in it's palace-like
appearance, with soaring spires and balconies, adorned with the face of Dark Force, the pain
of such a concentration of Black Energy was seriously weakening him. His defences were being
worn down, as he felt it caress him, for the Black Energy recognized its former master.
People were everywhere, kneeling down before a figure enveloped in darkness, chanting his
name, as if he would save them. The darkness, especially after travelling under the
beautiful Algo sun for the past few days, was suffocating to Zio, reminding him of his
prison of non-existence. Hearing these people chanting for him, asking him to return and to
reduce the world to ashes and create his utopia of death sickened Zio, the darkness in which
they dwelled an insult of the live-giving light of the sun awakened in Zio his anger at
their futile stupidity, to ask for destruction from a being who would not destroy them, but
keep them in eternal torment. Zio raised his hand, and from that hand flared a blinding
light, the power of magic given to the espers by the Light herself surging through every
fibre of his being, illuminating the temple, casting aside the darkness, even the insidious
Black Energy cowering from Zio's righteous anger.
"You who lead these people, come forward and face me!" Zio bellowed at the
priest leading the ritual. It was he that Zio wanted.
"You do not belong here esper. Your taint shall be washed away by the cleansing
fires of destruction, so decreed by Zio, messiah of the dark one. Your arrogance in coming
here shall end in your death at my hand." The priest replied, removing his cloak.
Zio was dumbstruck. Wearing the armor that had once been his, the Blood Gem,
created by the powers of the Dark Force from the blood of ten children, hissed as it
amplified the powers of the one wearing it. His face was scarred almost beyond recognition,
for Chaz Ashley had struck him down with the strength of a protector, but his white hair and
eerie white eyes, his baritone voice, betrayed his identity to Zio. It was Juza, one of his
former lieutenants, and by far the most fanatical one. He was wearing Zio's Black Armor,
given to him by the darkness to protect him and amplify his power. In his hand he held an
organic staff, and it literally pulsated with Black Energy, as it's sinewy form, black as
night, seemed almost an extension of his wizened arm. 600 years, Juza had survived, using
the Black Armor, Blood Gem, and remnants of Black Energy to keep Zio's Legacy alive. Zio
felt pity for the man, who led such an empty existence.
"Juza, are you so drunk with power and hatred that you do not remember me? Juza,
for six centuries you have continued my mistake, yet you do not remember me?" Zio asked,
sadness in his voice, for this warped soul was his doing, his responsibility.
"What? My eyes see him, as my ears hear him, yet my mind does not recognize him.
Zio?" Juza replied, almost fearfully.
"Juza, my heart pains me to see you suffer so. And to think this is my doing!
No, this mistake shall be corrected right now. This legacy I have left behind shall crumble
to dust, as it should have with my death." Zio replied, grim determination in his eyes, as
he channelled power through himself, preparing a spell.
However, he felt a wave of evil heading toward him. Juza somehow had mastered
the Black Energy magics, sending a wave of it towards him. Zio's Legeon spell suddenly
became a shield of pure magic, a barrier. The Black Energy assailed his shield, crackling
with evil intent, and it was almost all he could do to keep it a bay. Somehow, he was able
to channel more force, creating a fist of air, that struck Juza, breaking his concentration
and launching him into a huge pillar. Zio was breathing hard, but kept his power at the
ready. Suddenly, Juza rose into the air, laughing. Zio then saw it, the face of evil
hovering over Juza, the face of Dark Force. With a chill, Zio realized that Juza had the
power to create a constant magical barrier, impervious to magic or physical strikes, a power
that can only be given to an esper who had fallen to the Dark Force. Zio only knew of one
way to break that barrier, the Psycho Wand, but he knew not where it was. However, Zio still
would fight Juza, to his last breath. He channelled more magical force, weaving a web of
magic. Juza looked at him oddly, wondering what he was up to. Juza knew that his barrier was
impervious to any attack Zio could do.
"You left the masters side, and are now a weak shell of your former self. Your
pathetic magic cannot harm me, for I am invincible to you. I will continue the will of the
lord, for you are nothing now compared to me. I shall create the utopia you had not the will
to create!!" Juza said, laughing maniacally.
"Juza, it is you who are the shell! You think that the Darkness will reward you
with eternal life, but what it grants you is soulless servitude to its dark appetite. It
will be I who will show you the way, but you will find me a harsh guide!!" Zio replied
Zio's robe billowed outwards as he channelled enough magical force to level a
mountain into his spell, a Flaeli spell. His hands glowed orange with the magical fire of
Flaeli, eager to be released. His flapped as if by wind, driven by the force he was
creating. Juza, feeling the power of the magic Zio would unleash once again brought up the
Magic barrier, smug in its abilities. However, Zio had one last card in his hand. Staring
into Juza's white eyes, Zio used his formidable telepathic powers to blast Juza's mind,
attacking his very psyche. Juza was completely unprepared, for telepathy is not a form of
magic that can be protected against by his barrier, and thus, to ward off the telepathic
blast, he had to break his concentration on the barrier to protect his vulnerable mind.
It was all the time Zio needed.
Zio released the Flaeli spell, with all the force he could muster, and a blaze
of magical fire, fuelled by enough magic to level a mountain, flew towards a distracted
Juza. The spear of fire slammed into the armor, right into the Blood Gem, and suddenly a
light so blinding that Zio had to shut his eyes tightly to keep from being sightless filled
the temple. When Zio opened his eyes, the temple was gone, reduced to ash by Zio's
overwhelming magic. The Black Energy had dissipated, leaving Juza, without the armor,
huddled and naked on the floor, shivering, dying, as the power that kept him alive for so
long left him to the icy jaws of death. Zio walked to the huddled body, hearing Juza moans
as his body was racked by the pain of death, spasming.
Zio knelt down, sympathy in his heart, which did not know what it was for so
long, and cradled a dying Juza in his arms. Tears streamed down his face, for even when he
was a pawn of the darkness, Juza was always loyal to him, and was at many times a valued
"Zio, my lord…you have...c...c...leansed me of the taint. For so long I only
knew hate." Juza replied, his body racked by pain, the fear of death in his eyes.
"I know, old friend, how well I know."
" My lord…no, Zio, when you struck me with your power and the light flared
forth…for a second, my eyes saw not a man wearing simple clothes, but a great seer and
wizard, clothed in robes of light, holding aloft a majestic staff of power. In your eyes, I
saw not only a kindness, but justice and a sense of destiny unlike any I have seen before.
Zio, my friend, although I die now, you have given me back my soul. For that …. I shall
always… be… indebted to you. Goodbye….o...o...ld…fri...end..."
Feeling Juza's last breath leave his body, Zio closed his eyes, and channelled
magic through his arms. Juza's wizened, scarred body glowed white, then reduced to ash, as
Zio said a small prayer to the light over his fallen friend. Le Roof De Rykros appeared
suddenly beside a weeping Zio, who mourned what he had to do, and placed his gigantic hand
on Zio's shoulder in comfort. The giant knew Zio's sadness was profound, but he also knew
that Zio had many hard choices to come, and what he did here proved his spirit and devotion,
but more importantly, it proved that Zio had the will to do good, no matter the cost.
The giant then knew that Juza's vision, a final seeing into a future that his
eyes gave him when he was finally free of evil, would come true.