Child Of Darkness
At its last appearance, Chaz and his friends discovered that it was
merely a living extension of a form of Dark Force. It grew downward into
Dezoris' core, feeding off of it like a parasite, growing like a tumor.
Like a parasite, it fed off of its host, devouring its insides in an
attempt to leave it a lifeless husk. But Garuberk was more than simply a
parasite or tumor, more deadly. Its dark magic made sure of that.
Kyra made sure to pass by Meese without being noticed for they would
easily recognize the Icedigger. Being that it was the only one in
existence, the Meesians knew exactly who it belonged to and knew them as
their saviors. They did not want presence known yet, for it would only
hinder their process. Their names were almost legendary throughout
Dezoris and a mob would surely follow. Many people never got to thank
them for their deeds and would jump at the opportunity to do so.
Subsequently, Kyra believed she made the right choice.
The Esper Leader dropped her friends off close enough to Garuberk to
minimize the amount of time they would have to walk through the storm, but
also minimize their amount of travel time. Chaz and Rika bade a long,
emotional farewell to each other, one that brought tears to their friends'
eyes. "Be careful, my beloved Rika," Chaz said tearfully. "You are my
world, my strength, and my compassion. For three years, you have been all
that matters in my life, and without you it would lose all meaning now.
If anything should happen to you, I don't think I could ever forgive
myself because I will know that I chose to separate from you so that we
could go off in different directions. Please, be careful. I love you,
"Chaz, you make my world turn and without you," Rika returned,
"everything would come to a standstill. You are my Algo and all of my
life revolved around you. I will not be there to protect you, my love. I
entrust your safety to our friends, just as I entrust their's to you. I
know that you will do your best to make sure that all of you returned
unharmed, and I will try to do the same. Remember, this is merely a
farewell, and not a goodbye. We will see each other again. I love you,
Husband and Wife held each other for an inestimable amount of time,
not wanting to let go. If they were any other people, several of their
friends would have protested, but not this time. They knew exactly how
much Chaz and Rika loved each other, and that they had spent almost every
waking hour together in the past three years. Having to leave one another
under such dire circumstances must have surely been hell for them. There
were so many uncertainties in what they were doing, so many possibilities
for what could and what could not happen. Although they appeared to be
composed, it was merely an act for the other's sake, for deep inside both
were trembling with fear.
Finally, they let go and Rika joined her companions inside the
Icedigger, leaving her husband and his group in a cold snow storm. Chaz
watched as the distance between them increased, imagined Rika looking back
at him from the rear window if the Icedigger had one. When it was nothing
more than a speck in the horizon, Chaz turned and followed his companions
toward the unknown.
Less than half an hour later, Chaz began to discern a dark image
through the snow storm looming above them. It did not take them much to
figure out that it was Garuberk Tower, and Raja was there to verify that.
The Dezorian Archbishop shivered, but not from being cold. He shivered
out of pure fear. He never got to go to Garuberk the last time, falling
victim to an evil plague created by the tower's dark magic. When Dark
Force was banished and Garuberk fell, Dezoris' storm dissipated, and
everyone who suffered from its plague recovered.
And then, there they were, standing right before Garuberk, evil
incarnate. The structure itself was a living, breathing being, and when
Hahn touched its walls, he could feel its flesh shift and move away,
making his stomach crawl. "Eh," he commented dourly. "I'm beginning to
be thankful I didn't accompany you here."
They approached Garuberk's entrance slowly, with much caution, even
though wind and cold bit at their skin. Every step brought them closer to
danger, closer to facing something unfathomable to everyone except those
who had faced it before. It was no secret that only one entity in the
known universe could have created such a thing as Garuberk. The Profound
Darkness and its minions were nearly invulnerable -- except to the Great
Light and those who wielded the power of Light. The question on their
mind now was whether or not the Great Light would still be their to guide
* * * * *
As if it sensed their approach, Garuberk
opened it's flesh-laden door wide so Chaz and his companions could gain
entry. Raja and Hahn, having not seen Garuberk before, trembled ever so
slightly in fear. Even Demi, who was firm and solid in bad situations,
felt a bit of trepidation. There was no turning back, however. Once they
made the decision to proceed, they would have to follow through.
Chaz entered and beckoned Demi, Raja, and Hahn to follow him. Weapon
drawn, he knew exactly what to expect, advising his companions to ready
their weapons as well. Raja drew forth his Nares Staff and walked
protectively by his friends. Demi held her Sonic Buster, a finger over
its trigger ready to fire at a moment's notice. Hahn unsheathed his
Mahlay dagger, a weapon he forged himself using a knowledge and technique
passed on through two thousand years and many, many generations of his
family. In his other hand, he carried his Mahlay shield.
Garuberk's walls moved, life flowing through its structure. Hahn got
the impression that he was a meal gradually moving to some creature's gut
to be digested. Everywhere he walked, floors were soft and pliable, slick
sometimes like saliva secreted at the surface of a tongue. Long bluish
extrusions ran from ceiling to floor both along walls and in corridors
which pulsated with life, almost as if blood flowed through them. And
everything was a sickly pinkish color, like skin rubbed raw, with black
and blue blemishes scattered about. A dull throbbing sound echoed
throughout Garuberk's corridors, adding to the image that it was a living
Strange noises emanated from every nook and cranny. Listening
carefully and being aware of their surroundings was absolutely vital to
their survival. Should a demon-spawned creature of Garuberk's magic
attack them, they would have to do battle without hesitation. If any of
their number did, then it could mean the end for all of them.
Chaz was no stranger to this type of activity, nor were his friends.
The last time they travelled together, it became a way of life. They
lived constantly on the edge, each prepared to sacrifice himself for
another, sacrificing himself for a greater good. As Protectors of Light,
it was a responsibility taken on freely. LaRoof chose his Protectors
well, and in the end, they did not fail it.
Raja stopped in mid-stride just as he discovered they had traversed
nearly all of Garuberk's first floor. For a moment, it was like he sensed
something approaching, but then thought about it and must have dismissed
it. The Archbishop's senses were more finely tuned to changes in the
spiritual and could sense things out-of-the-ordinary, more so than his
companions. Chaz, Rika, and everyone else came to respect his ability to
do so, and did not think lightly of it when something disturbed him, no
matter how small a deal it was. If he shrugged it off like he did just
then, it usually meant that danger was near, somewhere. However, if he
made a big fuss, it usually meant that it was a matter of life and death.
Raja shook his head and indicated that they could proceed, but with
Three years had passed since Chaz was last here. Garuberk was
completely destroyed and nothing remained. Despite that, he found that
this reincarnation was an exact duplicate, identical down to its ambience.
A chill always ran down his spine when he thought of this place and now
that he was within it again, the chill became a full-blown icy blast.
Hahn might as well have just used Nawat on him because he would not have
noticed a difference.
Then it happened -- a rush of adrenalin alerted them all to a pending
situation. Chaz gripped his sword so hard his hands began to hurt from
the strain. Then, like out of some nightmarish dream, they watched as a
wall opened out and a gigantic creature, half-creature, half-evil, stepped
out. Equine in its motion, it trotted forth with no hesitation in its
gait, the four legs with hoofed feet moving in perfect rhythm. Standing
over nine feet tall, it towered over even Raja, who was a full head taller
than his friends. Thick, cartilaginous armor covered its entire body, the
color resembling that of dried raw hide. In one hand it carried a massive
lance with a tip which could penetrate even Laconia. It its other hand,
the creature wielded a Moon Slasher identical to Kyra's, and it was just
as skilled in its use as she was. "Wh -- what is it?!" Hahn stuttered,
short of breath. Chaz knew what it was, knew it as a creature which
nearly ended his life before.
The Hunter remembered it like it happened just the day before, when
he, Rika, Wren, Kyra, and Rune were here. King Saber had just lost its
first weapon of choice to Rune's powerful Tandle Spell. They recognized
its Slasher, though they did not know its potential. The creature hurled
it and it whirled toward them at lightning speed, toward Chaz who was
mesmerized by the weapon's brilliance. His guard down, Chaz realized too
late that his head and shoulders were about to part. Had it not been for
Rika's quick reflexes, her future husband would have been a full eight
Muscles bulging, King Saber roared hideously and charged, its lance
aimed to skewer anyone in its way. Chaz, Hahn, and Demi were able to
deftly jump out of its path, but Raja was not as swift. Luckily, the
Archbishop did sidestep and used his Nares Staff to parry the blow. His
foe anticipated his move and swung backward, but Raja, having learned
fighting techniques from his Hunter friend and others, knew exactly how to
defend against such an attack. He veered around and struck at the lance
with a force equal to that of King Saber's, blocking what should have been
a fatal blow. "Ha!" he cried in triumph, then struck at its side, sending
electrical arcs surging through its body.
King Saber howled in pain and reflexively kicked with its hind legs,
striking Raja as he retreated. He flew almost twenty feet, landing on top
of his companions, bowling them over. Chaz was on his feet instantly, his
titanium sword raised high. Striking with all his strength, the Hunter
successfully forced his enemy backward, made it take a few steps away from
his still-recovering allies. With the skill of someone who held a sword
from birth, he swung over and over, cursing the limited capability of his
weapon. Titanium was fine material, but had he possessed Elsydeon or even
the Guard Sword, he would have ended this battle easily. As it was,
however, he could only match its strength, if he was lucky.
Demi returned to her feet, distressed to see Chaz battling King Saber
alone. She swung her Sonic Buster around and ordered her friend to get
out of the way. The creature was puzzled by Chaz's retreat at first, but
understood his reasoning when it saw Demi take aim, and fire. She fired
her weapon continuously, bombarding it with a constant stream of intense
sound waves. It reared up on its hind legs, feeling its insides begin to
quiver and shake, almost to the point of explosion. With as much accuracy
as it could manage, King Saber took its lance and began firing sizzling
bolts of energy at her. One of the bolts found its mark and Demi shrieked
as she felt her internal mechanisms begin to malfunction and shut down.
She crumpled over in a miserable hovel.
"Demi!" Hahn cried out. "Demi!" The Scholar and Raja rushed over to
her side, but she was unresponsive. Chaz, having seen his friend's
defeat, became enraged and threw himself between her and danger. Raising
his sword high, he struck at King Saber, struggling to keep it at bay
while Hahn and Raja worked to revive Demi.
Frantic, Hahn used Nares, a shimmering umbrella of light enveloping
Demi's defunct body. He waited for her to reactivate, but nothing
happened. "No! No! No!" he chanted. "I forgot that the Res Techniques
don't work on AI's! In our rush, I forgot to grab a repair kit!" Hahn
began looking over her body, looking for some sign, some indication that
she could be repaired by just pressing a few buttons in an access panel.
"Raja, can't you do anything?" Raja shook his head in disbelief.
"I don't know!" he replied, dismay apparent. "I've done plenty of
healing in my life, but I've never healed an AI before. This could be
tricky, and I might do more harm than good." A loud crash brought their
attention to the battle raging on behind them. Chaz was thrown up against
a wall, but he found strength born in anger and fear for his friends,
rushing back into the fray. Using incredible dexterity, he executed his
Crosscut Skill, leaving a visible impression of a cross on King Saber's
left flank. His foe fell back from his attack, but it was not out for the
"You have to try, Raja!" pleaded Hahn. "We need Demi if we're to
"I'll try, damn it!" the Archbishop returned. "And you can bet I'll
try my hardest!" Raja stood up and raised the Nares Staff toward the
heavens. "Now, if I can only think of what will work." He paused for a
moment while sounds of battle neared. "I got it!" Waving his arms like a
retarded butterfly, Raja used his Regeneration Technique. An odd event
took place as orbs of light fizzled and popped while entering Demi's body.
Even Raja, who had seen his Technique work numerous times, seemed
surprised. The Regeneration Technique was useful in that it was able to
adapt to differences in anatomy between species. He hoped that it would
somehow adapt to repair Demi's damaged circuitry, which it was apparently
doing. The android stirred, while his Technique worked to restore her
completely. When the light show was over, she returned to her feet under
her own volition.
Chaz rejoined his friends, sweat pouring off his brow, breath shallow
and rapid. "I -- I," he panted, "I can't d -- do this for much longer!"
Raja did not say a word, but instead used his Nares Staff to return some
lost strength to his friend. Hahn stood protectively before his friends
and used Nawat, rapidly freezing the air around King Saber. The creature
fell backward from the attack, stunned.
Light on their feet, Chaz and company took off running, using Hahn's
attack to place a buffer zone in between them and their enemy. They were
running blindly and did not notice where they were taking themselves.
Before anyone was aware of it, they had cornered themselves in a corner
which seemed to have appeared from nowhere. Chaz had seen this certain
peculiarity before and knew that Garuberk was working to destroy them. He
knew that King Saber was closing in on them and theat they would have to
stand their ground and fight. Nothing he could do could prevent that.
Even without Garuberk's assistance, King Saber would have pursued them
until every one of them was dead.
Chaz, Raja, Demi, and Hahn turned and faced the corridor they had just
walked down. Light was scarce and they could barely see beyond a few dozen
feet. Luckily for them, they could still hear their surroundings and were
aware of King Saber's trotting movements. Then, it stopped and nothing
more was heard. Besides Garuberk's haunting heartbeat, only their rapid
breaths were audible. "Maybe --" Hahn began, "maybe it gave up." He said
it with hope in his voice, but deep down he knew he was deluding himself.
"Shhhh!" Chaz ordered. The Hunter's finely honed instincts were
ever-aware, reaching out into his surroundings, listening, feeling,
smelling everything. In concentration, he could detect air movements from
a distance of sometimes thirty feet or more. Garuberk, however, was
seemingly aware of this and increased the volume and frequency of its
pulsating heartbeat. Chaz struggled to listen, but could hear nothing
more than his frustration. Suddenly, he finally heard something
out-of-the-ordinary, a sound that was apart from the rest of his
surroundings. A whirring noise, a rushing of air, and he knew that King
Saber had launched its Moon Slasher. "Get down!" he yelled, then dove to
the ground. Trusting him implicitly, Raja, Demi, and Hahn did as they
were ordered, right before the Moon Slasher whizzed just inches above
their heads. It spun and ricocheted off of a wall, then returned to its
Chaz heard the trotting of hoofed feet and leapt into action. He
raised his sword and prepared to take the full blunt of his enemy's
attack. The Moon Slasher again sped toward him, but his was ready.
Holding his titanium sword firmly and bracing himself, the Hunter swung
his weapon and successfully fended off King Saber's attack. Then, like
out of thin air, it was there, right in front of him. Chaz circled around
it, drawing its attention from his friends, leaving it vulnerable for an
attack from behind. Hahn took his friend's hint and prepared himself for
what could turn out to be a foolish action, but he was prepared to
sacrifice himself for his companions' safety. The Scholar brought forth
his Mahlay dagger, its blade shining brightly in Garuberk's dim
atmosphere. Taking a deep breath, he launched himself on top of King
Saber, driving his dagger deep into its back. The magic-imbued material
cut deeply, leaving a ragged trail in its victim's cartilaginous armor.
Hahn hung on for his life as one might hang onto a cliff's edge. Raja
rushed in to help him, but was only caught in King Saber's painful fury
and was forced back.
Then, like a guardian angel who swept down from the heavens to protect
her charges, Demi was there. The little android rushed in to her friend's
aid, lowering her shoulder and hitting it with every last ounce of
strength. King Saber was momentarily distracted, allowing Hahn to
retrieve his dagger and dismount. Fearing for his safety, Demi, using her
android strength, positioned herself beneath King Saber's massive body and
lifted it completely off the ground. King Saber kicked and grunted,
taking aim with its lance, but she was too quick for it. With a loud
scream of strain, she hurled it away, sending it crashing into a wall.
Chaz ran over to Demi, who had fallen onto one knee. Looking her over
carefully, he asked, "Are you okay?" Demi nodded.
"Just a little strained," she replied. She looked over at King Saber;
its body lay unmoving. But, she would find out, it was only feinting
death, and began to stir. Within no time, it was on its feet, staggering,
but poised to strike.
"I'm ready, Chaz," she replied gravely. Chaz nodded, then turned to
face their enemy for what he hoped to be the last time. King Saber knew
something was abrupt and was prepared to put a stop to it. Chaz
concentrated, his full attention placed on executing his Airslash Skill.
Demi positioned herself directly behind him. The moment Chaz swept his
sword from left to right, creating a intense vacuum pocket, Demi fired her
Phonomezer. Sound, naturally passing more quickly through denser areas,
found the vacuum pocket, its strength increased nearly tenfold. King Saber
screamed in agony against the force of Silent Wave, then its body exploded
into thousands of bloody fragments.
"Wahoo!" Raja hollered triumphantly in the midst of all the carnage.
"I've been living in such a boring world for the past three years and all
this excitement is just what I need!"
"Come on, Raja!" Hahn sighed. "Get serious! We almost died just
now!" Chaz patted him on the back.
"Don't worry, Hahn," he said. "Just let him revel for awhile. He'll
come to his senses eventually." The Hunter took a quick look around the
area. "Come on, let's get moving before some more unpleasant surprises
jump out of nowhere." Raja smiled and smacked him roughly across his
"Good idea!" he said. "I'll tell you what -- I'll lead!"
"Raja, maybe --" but before Chaz could finish, the Archbishop hurried
"Chaz," Hahn said, patting his friend on the back, "just let him revel
for awhile." Demi followed after Raja to make sure he did not get into
trouble and Hahn followed close behind. Chaz shook his head in mock
despair, running after them.
* * * * *
The party of four walked through Garuberk
for what seemed like hours on end. They made numerous wrong turns in the
tower's labyrinthine corridors, a few right turns, and ended up at a few
dead ends. "I wish you wouldn't use the term, 'dead end,' Chaz," Hahn
said. Garuberk was, after all, a living entity, and by all appearances
was protecting something at its top. When Chaz and the others came here
before, he did not remember it changing around, trapping them, making them
turn back, but it was this time. Something important was at its apex.
Last time, it was a manifestation of Dark Force. This time, Chaz could
not be sure. Malevolent as it was, Garuberk could just be leading them on
a wild goose chase, keeping them from something of greater importance.
They would have to make sure that it was not, first.
Time dragged on and still they did not find anything. They had no
further incursions with Garuberk's guardians, no more, thus far. They
were ever vigilant and were ready for anything. Raja still walked in the
lead, excited like a child walking ahead of his parents to a park. While
Hahn walked a few steps behind him to keep him from getting too
overzealous, Demi fell even farther behind to walk with Chaz. "Just like
old times," she said to him, "eh?" Chaz smiled fondly at her and nodded.
"We never got to travel on Dezoris with each other before, but I guess
there's a first time for everything. To tell you the truth, I never
thought that I was ever going to see any of you ever again. When we went
our separate ways and I went to Zelan with Wren, I thought that was going
to be all that I needed. To be with my master, help him keep a constant
vigil on Motavia and Dezoris, was what I wanted for almost two centuries.
Now, I don't know."
"What do you mean?" Chaz asked, his interest piqued.
"I don't know. I guess I'm being a little bit selfish, but now that I
have friends, all of you, I'm beginning to think that I can't live without
them." Chaz smiled, but it was a sad smile. "I remember when I was first
beginning to learn about Palmans I was particularly interested in this
thing called friendship. When I started reading about it, I thought it
was kind of useless. After all, who needed other people to talk to, to
ease loneliness and lend a shoulder to cry on? Such things were
superfluous in an android's life and since I tried to model myself to
Wren's standards, I thought they would be superfluous in my life as well.
But there was something inside me that told me that I wasn't just an
ordinary android, told me that these values, these emotions involved with
having friendships were a part of me. The first years I spent with Wren,
I began to think of him as a friend and wanted to develop a relationship
with him as such, but he was not like that. I guess that's when I started
calling him 'Master.' He never could stand it, but it wasn't long after
that when he sent me to Nurvus to oversee its operations."
"So, what do you want now?"
"I want to stay with you, on Motavia. I want to be with you and Rika
and Hahn and Gryz for the rest of your lives. I need all of you. I need
my friends. Whatever Wren does or wherever he goes, I will stay with all
"Demi, I don't know how hard that's going to be for you. With Motavia
in its current state, it could be very hard to watch us suffer through.
You say that you're different from other AI's, and I have first-hand
experience that your are, so you have the same emotions that Rika and I
have. You think it's going to be emotionally easy to watch us, or all
Palmans, even, suffer as Motavia returns to its natural climate? No, it's
not going to be easy. I don't think you know what it truly means to feel
helpless until you see your friends suffer and know you can't do anything
"Chaz, if you had a terminal disease, I wouldn't just simply abandon
you because you're dying. It's basically the same thing you're talking
about. Isn't that what friendship is? I mean, sticking by your side til
the end? I know you think you're trying to spare me all this pain, but it
is my choice. You could turn away from me and say some really cruel
things to me, but I know you're not like that, Chaz Ashley. What I feel
for Rika, and Hahn, and Gryz, and Kyra, and Raja, and Wren, and you, and
even Rune -- I know what that feeling is now. It's love."
"You're right on two counts, Demi," Chaz said. "For one, I guess I
have been trying to spare your feelings. For two -- Demi, you truly have
a grasp on the true meaning of friendship, more so than I do apparently.
I guess I'm going to have to have you around so you can teach me that
meaning again. Of course you'll be welcome to stay on Motavia, stay in
Aiedo, stay with me and Rika if you like. You can start a life of your
own there, if you want, and Rika and I will be there to help you do it."
"I'd like that," Demi said quietly.
"Demi, is something else on your mind?"
"Actually, yes. Chaz, I need to tell you something about Rika,
something I don't think eve she is aware of?" Chaz stared at her
quizzically, concern evident in his face. "Well, um, Chaz, Rika's --"
"Chaz! Demi!" Hahn hollered back at them. "Come quickly!"
"Tell me later," Chaz said, laying a hand on his friend's shoulder.
"Come on!" The Hunter took off running toward the rest of his group, Demi
doing the same. They were surprised to find out how far ahead Raja and
Hahn had gotten. They ran for nearly an entire minute before their
friends even entered their sight. Expecting to see trouble, they saw
exactly the opposite.
Archbishop and Scholar stood dumbfounded, staring at something they
had yet to see. They were not afraid, appearing more curious than anything
else. Hahn scratched his head in thought while Raja's mouth hung open
wide, prepared to catch anything which may have been unfortunate enough to
gain entry into it. Chaz and Demi rounded the corner and came
face-to-face with a large spheroid object. Grey in color, it simply just
levitated about five feet above the ground. It did not seem threatening,
not yet, at least. In fact, it was more docile than anything, almost
playful. "Watch this," Hahn told them. He walked closer to the spheroid,
attempting to get by and walk on past it. As he did, however, it hovered
closer to him, preventing any passage. He ducked down to try to rush under
it, but it sank lower and stopped him again. It rushed toward him and
stopped just inches before his face, then backed off, bouncing playfully
through the air. "See! We've been trying to get past it for a few
minutes now while you two were dragging behind." Hahn scratched his head
again. "We can't get past it."
Curious, Chaz decided to try out this new obstacle for himself. He
walked directly toward it, then tried to quickly get past it. It proved
too fast to him and he merely ended up knocking his head on its hard metal
casing. "It's Laconia," Raja told him.
"Thanks for the waning," Chaz told him sarcastically.
"Maybe," Demi thought aloud, "if we all rush it at once, maybe a
couple of us can get past."
"And what of us who don't get by?" Raja asked.
"Well, I guess we'll just have to get everyone by somehow." Chaz
shrugged, not having any ideas of his own.
"It's worth a try."
Chaz, Raja, Demi, and Hahn positioned themselves, ready to put Demi's
plan into effect. They held a visual conference, then, nodding in
agreement, they moved forward as quickly as they could. The spheroid
object moved like lightning, preventing any of them from getting past it.
It knocked each of them on their head with skill and precision, the
bounced gleefully away.
The Hunter was fuming, and he had a second bruise on his head to add
insult to injury. Furious, he pulled out his sword and held it
threateningly. "Um, Chaz," Hahn began, "I don't know if that's such a
good idea. It may seem playful now, but there's no telling how it will
"Hahn has a good point there," Raja agreed. "The thing is made of
Laconia, so we'd do little damage."
"Demi," Chaz snapped, his eyes filled with determination.
"Chaz, listen to Hahn and Raja!" she pleaded. "Venting your
frustration without thinking about your actions first can have dire
consequences. You simply don't know what Silent Wave will do to this
thing! It could cause more harm than do us good!"
"Demi! Get ready!"
Demi shook her head in despair, but not wanting to upset Chaz any
further, she did as she was told. Just like before, Chaz concentrated on
executing his Airslash Skill, and Demi prepared to fire her Phonomezer.
In one swift move, both combined their Skills to create Silent Wave once
again. Intensified sound waves spread outward along a fine line of
evacuated air, the target found. The spheroid was made of Laconia,
however, and what should have been a fatal attack was only turned against
Hunter and android were the first to fall, overwhelmed by Silent
Wave's raw force. In an instant, they both felt sorry for any of their
enemies who met their downfall by it. Pressure built up so fast inside
Chaz's head, he thought it would explode at any moment. He felt his eyes
begin to bulge and his ear drums threatened to burst. Demi's internal
mechanisms seemed to want to shut down altogether, her inner mechanisms
shaking and rattling. "I've got to help them!" Hahn cried. Raja, though
seeing his friends suffer, was calm, laying a restraining arm on his
"That is not the answer, Hahn," he said. "We can help them another
Raja stepped forward, his hands glowing with a strong green light.
Using his Blessing Technique, the Archbishop created a mystical shield
before Chaz and Demi which instantly began to absorb most of Silent Wave's
force. The impact lessened, both dropped to the ground, their vitals
slowly returning to normal. In another few seconds, Silent Wave
dissipated completely, leaving its sources struggling to survive. Hahn
hastened to Chaz's side and Raja to Demi's. Using healing techniques, both
revived their friends before any permanent damage could be wrought.
The spheroid was not through with them yet, however. Though
inorganic, it was a living organism, an organism created by Garuberk's
dark magic. If they could hear its thoughts, then they would know it as a
Jarrol, a creature nearly impervious to conventional attack, but it had
hidden secret, a deadly secret. Hahn and Raja watched in horror as Jarrol
began to transform, its perfectly spherical body contorted, protrusions
poking out here and there, mechanisms turning and squealing, creating a
metal mockery of limbs, body parts. As it turned out, Garuberk had
created a perfect warrior, an AI made of pure Laconia, the most impervious
metal known to Palman science. When all the clanking and twisting and
turning was done, Jarrol was transformed into a complete war machine,
sword and all.
Seven feet tall and shining in Garuberk's dim light like a newborn
star, Jarrol moved slowly, each step shaking the ground beneath them.
Primitive compared to Demi and Wren, its arms and legs were skinny, like
tree branches that sway easily in the wind. Its body, though once
spheroid in appearance, was now more blocky, possessing a box-like
appearance. A cylinder-shaped head sat upon flat shoulders, its eyes
hidden inside a single, narrow slit. What Jarrol lacked in speed in
skill, the thing made up for it in strength and power.
Chaz was aghast, his fear holding him firm like a prison. Demi was
already on her feet, Sonic Buster drawn and ready to fire. Behind her
stood Hahn, Mahlay dagger in hand and next to him was Raja, his Nares
Staff gripped tightly in both hands. Each of them felt fear, fear of
approaching the unknown. They already saw what happened when Demi and
Chaz attacked it with Silent Wave and were uncertain of how to proceed
with this battle. Every step Jarrol took, it brought them closer to their
downfall, but all they could do is stand there and watch it approach.
The Hunter saw his life flash before his eyes, all that it had been,
all the glory, all the pain. He saw Alys again, her stern hand and warm
smile a welcome addition to his life. He felt the sting of her hand
across his back when he did not hold his sword correctly. He saw Zio, saw
Alys die at his hands, saw himself grieving over her death. Then he saw
Rika, her smiling face warming his soul. As his wife, she brought
unimaginable joy to a life that he thought could only be filled with pain.
When Rika's smiles and laughter filled his mind, they became the triggers
from which he drew in new strength. Determination, strong and vigorous,
created a tingling sensation within him, made him come to his senses.
Chaz was determined that Rika would not live her life without him, would
not mourn his death like he mourned Alys'.
The Hunter sprung to his feet just before Jarrol's massive Laconian
sword crashed down on him. Hahn attacked, his Nawat Technique doing
little damage. Raja rushed forward and struck with his staff, sparks
flying. Slow as it was, the Archbishop barely missed being decapitated by
Jarrol's sword. Over and over again he struck, his ardor increasing with
each strike. "Woo-ha!" was his battle cry. Chaz could see his
determination and how strikingly ineffective he was against the metal
giant. The Hunter almost laughed out loud. But it was Raja's
determination which filled him with hope. They would not die easily.
Chaz struck, but the titanium was not a match for Jarrol's armor.
Sparks flew, a result of clashing metals. The Hunter veered around, his
concentration increasing. With two swift moves, he performed Crosscut,
but even that mighty attack had little effect. Jarrol swung at the
annoyance, just barely missing Chaz. It was moving faster now, like its
metal joints were becoming accustomed to all the movement. This was cause
for some worry because if it was able to move quickly in addition to
having such strong protection, they would meet their fates sooner than
Knowing it to be an AI, Demi reached out to touch Jarrol, panels
opening up on the back of her arm. With a powerful electrical surge, she
attempted to disable its primary systems with Spark, bu it had no effect.
In fact, it seemed to anger her foe even more and it struck out at her,
this time finding its mark. The little android flew head-over-heals down
a corridor and landed with a thud. She was not damaged too much, however,
and her automatic repair systems kicked in almost instantly.
Angered, Hahn charged in, his dagger seeming small and infinitesimal
compared to Jarrol's bulk. The strange Mahlay metal forged by a magic
known to only to his family glimmered lightly, as if it was calling forth
magic. The Scholar struck, and metal crashed against metal. To
everyone's surprise, including Hahn's, the Mahlay dagger penetrated the
metal giant's armor! Hahn looked to his shield, forged of the same magic.
It, too, seemed to glimmer, like starlight on a clear pond. Jarrol swung
at him with its massive Laconian sword, bearing it down with full force
onto Hahn's shield. The Mahlay metal withstood not only Jarrol's
strength, but the strength of Laconian metal as well.
Hahn felt a rush of adrenalin, a feeling of relief when one has just
saved himself from oblivion. He let it carry him and his actions,
launching himself up against Jarrol, damaging it again with another swipe
of his weapon. It was not phased by his attack, not possessing any pain
receptors. Unfortunately for Hahn, he did, and its next attack landed him
face-down, his foe looming above him. "Hahn!" Raja shrieked. "Hahn! Get
up!" But Hahn was slow to recover, slow to even pick himself up, and he
was about to lose much more than his pride.
Air began to swirl around Jarrol and an instant cyclone formed. Chaz
stood from afar, his hand engulfed in a swirling white light. His Nazan
Technique literally lifted Jarrol aloft and sent it reeling, smashing it
into walls, but doing little damage. Hahn realized what was going on
around him and quickly rolled out from underneath it. Joining Chaz at his
side, he strengthened the Hunter's attack by using Nawat. Within moments,
a Blizzard raged in the corridor, a lack of space intensifying its power.
It was that lack of space which proved to be a burden to them, however,
and they began to feel the effects of it. Body parts, mostly extremities,
began to numb, and they were forced to discontinue. Jarrol fell
ungracefully and landed with a bang, but it got back up with almost no
Demi fired, visible sound waves travelling down an entire corridor.
Impacting Jarrol's Laconian body, it created a vociferous ringing which
reverberated all around them. The metal giant stepped backward, caught
off guard by her attack. Seeing that it was vulnerable, she continued to
fire, the very air parting at her weapon's command. Hahn used Nawat
again, hoping that a continuous attack would eventually wear it down.
Raja stood back, his purpose in providing his companions with a first line
of defense, using Blessing and Nares whenever it was necessary. All their
efforts had little effect, though, for Jarrol was a juggernaut compared to
even their might
Jarrol swung its sword, this time with more speed, more accuracy.
Chaz was barely able to counterattack, using his weapon to parry its
strike. The Dezorian Archbishop rushed forward, Nares Staff poised to
attack. He would have gotten a successful attack in had he not
underestimated its swiftness. Jarrol barely missed slicing him in half,
but landed a stunning strike with its other hand, hitting Raja squarely
across the chest.
"NO!!" Chaz screamed, his hand bursting into a blaze of light as he
used Nathu. Like lightning, a bolt of light shot at Jarrol, heat
momentarily fusing its internal mechanisms together. Hahn took his Mahlay
dagger and hurled it at Jarrol, penetrating its armor.
"Now!" Hahn yelled, "attack it at that point! We might be able to
drive a wedge into its armor!" Demi and Chaz joined Hahn in his endeavor,
using their own powers to add to his. Demi took the forefront, Phonomezer
releasing its sound waves. Chaz, standing behind her, used Nathu again,
firing it directly into Demi's attack. Hahn raised his arms and,
gathering energy from the Astral realm, used his body as a focal point,
fired a lethal beam of Astral energy at Jarrol. At that point, something
strange occurred. The combination of Technique and Skills produced an
astonishing effect. A spark, and suddenly their surroundings exploded in
a Cosmic Boom.
Demi's Phonomezer gathered energy from Chaz's Nathu Technique and
Hahn's Astral Skill. Sound and light exploded all around Jarrol, causing
massive damage. Not only that, but it used Astral's power to literally
blast it to a place half way between their world and the Astral realm.
Normal matter, not able to survive in two dimensions at the same time,
expanded rapidly, half seeking shelter in the previous world, the other
half attempting to enter a new one. Even Jarrol's Laconian body could not
withstand the tension, and it split and fractured right before their eyes.
Hahn's dagger fell to the ground, unscathed.
Hahn picked up his weapon, they quickly hurried to were Raja fell in
battle. They found him near a wall, crumpled up in a miserable heap.
"Raja!" Chaz yelled. "Raja, are you all right?" The miserable heap
moved, but slowly.
"Uhh," he groaned. "Remind me never to do that again. I seem to have
broken a few bones."
"Not a problem," Hahn told him. The Scholar placed a hand on his
friend's body and spoke the words that would instantly mend his broken
bones, heal his broken spirit. Raja smiled at him kindly, then accepted
his offer to help him up. "If that's what you had to go up against last
time you were here, Chaz," Hahn said, "then I truly would have pitied
"King Saber, yes," Chaz replied, "but I've never seen that creature
before. I wonder where it came from."
"Garuberk's evil magic, no doubt," Raja said gravely. Demi nodded in
silent acquiescence for her thoughts were one and the same. "Twice now
we've almost lost our lives in this place. I'm beginning to think that
there really is something lurking at the top of this tower. I'm just not
sure I want to find out what it is."
"We have to, Raja. If we're going to keep ourselves and all of Algo
from being destroyed, we have to make it to Garuberk's apex."
"How did I know he was going to say that?"
"We're barely half way through the tower from what I remember. If
there's something at the top, we'll find it, but our success relies all of
us staying alive. We have to trust in each other and the bonds that we
have formed. Garuberk will try its hardest to divide us; it may even play
tricks on our minds. Remember -- countless millions of people are
depending on us."
"Sure," Hahn said, a touch of hysteria in his voice, "no pressure. No
pressure at all. Why don't we just waltz on up to ol' PD and politely ask
it not to destroy our universe?"
"Come on," Chaz said, politely ignoring Hahn, "let's get going."
With success on their minds and fear in their hearts, Chaz, Demi,
Raja, and Hahn continued on their trek to discover the truth behind
Garuberk's reappearance and what purpose, if any, it served this time
around. The two confrontations they had with its guardians slowed them
down significantly. They were weary from the battles and wearier still of
what might be lurking around each and every corner they took. There was
no telling what fate Garuberk had in mind for them, but it was a sure bet
that it would not be a kind fate.
Chaz took the head of the group, now. Raja had his fun leading and
decided that the job should be turned over to someone with a little more
fighting skill and agility. Chaz did not have a problem with that and
patted Raja on the shoulder just to let him know that he did well while he
was leading. The Archbishop stood tall, his pride beaming from him like
light through a crevice in a basement.
A sudden movement, and one of Garuberk's fleshy walls parted, allowing
passage to Chaz and his cautious companions. They hesitated at first, but
decided that they needed to get this over with as quickly as possible and
return to the rest of their friends. They stepped within, and the door
closed, seeming dark and mischievous in its intention.
All of Garuberk quivered with excitement, then went still.