Child Of Darkness
Nine hours into their trip, Chaz and the others rose from their
slumber. Wren and Demi, who did not require sleep, were up the entire
time. While Wren drove, his counterpart made ready a few supplies like
Trimate, Antidotes, and some food rations should they need them. Chances
were that they were not going to be separated long enough to have the need
of a meal. How quickly they accomplished their tasks were of utmost
importance. The more time they let slip through their fingers, the closer
the Child and its Master got closer to their goal. Algo's dim light barely
penetrated Dezoris' thick clouds and the entire planet was plunged into
darkness. According to Wren's earlier estimate, there was less than
fifteen hours until Algo burned out completely, fifteen hours until their
worlds were plunged into eternal darkness.
The Icedigger was approaching Meese, the Palman town where Raja fell
ill and where they ultimately made Kyra's acquaintance. Wren sped by it
without so much as a look back. Esper Mansion was a little more than an
hour away and he understood the importance of getting there quickly. If
Algo was extinguished before they even made an attempt to save it, then
not only would all life in the system die within seventy-two hours, but
the Profound Darkness would also be one gigantic step closer to freeing
itself from its prison -- permanently. They were bound and determined to
make sure that did not happened, no matter the personal cost.
Rune, Raja, Kyra, and Gryz sensed a change in the air and reacted
accordingly. A disturbance in both the magic and mystic planes caused
excruciating mental agony in all four of them. Hands pressed against their
temples, they grimaced against the pain. Concerned, Wren stopped the
Icedigger so his friends could tend to them. Rune, however, waved for him
to continue, so he sped off as quickly as he could. Chaz unstrapped his
restraint and went to see if he could do anything for his friends. Hahn
replaced him in the seat next to Wren and peered curiously outside.
"What in the name of --" the Scholar began.
"Would you look at that!" Demi cried fearfully while pointing
A rift, a tear in the fabric of space and time, towered over the land
in the exact spot where Garuberk once stood. Even though Dezoris was dark,
the blackness of the rift stood out, pulsating like an evil heart. The
Profound Darkness' essence spewed forth from it and even Chaz could tell
that it was not having a favorable effect on the planet. The effects of it
could ultimately spell the doom for the entire system.
Elsydeon began to hum and glow in its sheath, drawing the attention of
its wielder. The Hunter brought it out, held it above his head by its hilt
and blade. An aura of light enveloped the Icedigger, dispelling the
effects that the rift was having on four of its passengers. Raja, Kyra,
Gryz, and Rune eventually came out of their agony and rejoined their
friends in the land of the living. They were confused as to what just
occurred, but recognized the presence of Darkness, nonetheless. Chaz
briefly filled them in.
"So, it has begun," said Wren solemnly. "The Child is already preparing
for its Master's return. It is no wonder that we have not seen hide nor
hair of her since we arrived here. She has been working on freeing the
Darkness and all of her time must have be currently dedicated to that
"At least we know where to bring the Dezorians and Espers once we've
convinced them to help us," Chaz said. Hahn vacated his seat and the
Hunter seated himself in it, taking a moment to study the odd
"Strap yourselves in," the big android ordered. "We will be entering
the ice field leading to Esper Mansion. I must engage the nose cones."
Chaz quickly put his restraint back on as Wren ordered and prepared for
Minutes later, the Icedigger dove into a vast ice field and began
tunneling its way to the other side. The entire vehicle rocked and
shuddered under the weight of tons of ice above, below, and all sides of
them. What they accomplished on the other side would make or break their
plans. Chaz felt that they discussed it through well enough to fully
expect success. That was all based on whether or not the Dezorians and
Espers decided to cooperate. It would take them about half an hour to
clear the ice and their hearts beat in nervous anticipation.
* * * * *
Wren dropped off Raja, Chaz, Demi, and Gryz at the door of Esper
Mansion and everyone said their farewells. The door closed and they sped
away, leaving four individuals standing alone in the dark. Chaz and his
companions watched until it was out of sight which was not too long
because it was still dark outside. Raja took a deep breath and turned to
face the Mansion. He looked at its massiveness, felt Telemental energies
pouring outward from it. It reminded him of Gumbian in an odd sort of way.
He was almost sorry that he could not return home. That seemed almost
inconceivable at the time, but he did not abandon all hope that it would
No one knew what to expect once they approached Esper Mansion's door.
The Espers within undoubtedly knew of their presence, so standing around
in the cold was doing them little good. Their only hope was that they
would not attack them at the doorstep and not listen to explanations.
Sometimes, especially in times like these, it was better to act first then
ask questions later. Raja hoped that they did not don that type of
philosophy yet. If they did, then their journey would be the shortest one
Chaz rapped loudly on the front door and stood back to wait with his
friends for someone to answer. Gryz was too busy trying to decipher all of
the signals he was receiving from everything around him. He was used to
having Rune and Kyra around and was familiar with their presence as fellow
Espers. He learned to recognize their auras and could identify them from
afar or even if he was blindfolded. Now, hundreds of Espers were in his
vicinity and he did not have the Esper Leader or the Reverent Fifth there
to guide him. Gryz suddenly wondered how he would be received being that
he was a Motavian and also an Esper.
It seemed like forever before Chaz and company heard a latch turn from
inside and the door opened slightly. An eye peeked out and regarded them
with suspicion. "Who are you?" the person asked. "State your business
Chaz stepped up. "We are friends of Run -- er, Lutz, and of Kyra's. We
have come to speak to the Espers."
"Friends of Kyra and Lutz, eh?" The person pulled away from the door
for a moment as if he was speaking to his comrades, then returned. "Why
have you brought that with you?" Raja heard the emphasis and knew
it was directed toward him.
"I am here on behalf of my people because the dangers threatening
Dezoris concerns us as well," he stated. As Archbishop, I, too, seek your
audience." The four Protectors could hear whispers come from behind the
door. Every Esper knew of the important role the Archbishop played in
Dezorian religion and recognized that it was the highest rank a Dezorian
could achieve in society. Raja's mentioning of the word was enough to
cause a stir among the ranks of the Espers.
"You," the person continued, saw it fit to change subjects, "strange
one. You are a Motavian, are you not?" Gryz timidly stepped forward.
"I am," he stated simply.
"We don't quite know what to make of you. You are obviously Motavian
and yet we sense the aura of an Esper from you."
"That is because I am an Esper just like you."
"Nonsense!" the voice argued. "Zarah was the last Motavian Esper and
she's been deceased for two thousand years! What kind of trickery is
this?" Gryz held up a hand and sent a bolt of Flaeli into a snow bank.
"I'm afraid that there is no trickery involved here. I am an Esper."
Gryz and the others heard more discussion from behind the person and he
disappeared for a second, then returned.
"If what you said is true, then touch this Purity Staff," a long,
wicked-looking staff jutted out of the cracked doorway. "It measures the
purity of your soul and whether or not you are telling the truth. If you
are not, the magic contained within it will vaporize you where you
Gryz walked up to the staff gingerly and held out a hesitant hand. He
eyed it, seemed almost loath to touch it. The Motavian kept telling
himself that what Rune and Kyra told him was the truth -- he was an Esper.
He accepted it without question, but wondered if he could truly could ever
be one in his heart. "We believe in you," he heard Demi say, "but this
isn't about us. You must do this for yourself and there is no way that we
can help you through it."
"You're wrong," he told her. "It's because of your belief in me that I
am able to find the courage to believe in myself." Gryz reached up and
seized the staff in his hands, nearly ripping it from the hand of the
Esper who held it. Gasps sounded from inside Esper Mansion and his beak
parted in a grin. "I am an Esper."
"So you are." The massive door to Esper Mansion creaked open wider and
a handsome Esper man stepped outside. He was wearing white robes and had
the characteristic blue hair that all Espers had. About a dozen other
Espers gathered at the doorway. "I am Alexander, but you may call me Alex.
Please, brother, enter at your own free will."
"What about my friends?"
"I'm afraid we must deny them entry. The moment that non-Espers enters
our mansion, our magic becomes tainted."
"Then it was tainted by our presence three years ago," said Chaz, "when
we came to retrieve this." The Hunter drew forth Elsydeon and held it to
the sky. Light burst forth from it and illuminate the immediate area.
Alexander and the rest of the Espers present dropped to one knee.
"The Blessed Sword!" he proclaimed. "You are the Protectors!" He stood
up, keeping his head bowed. "Please, forgive my insolence! There was no
way I could have known! In troubled times like these, we cannot be too
"Please don't bow down to me like that," Chaz joked, "it's
embarrassing." Demi and the others laughed.
"Please -- all of you -- come inside," he motioned them to enter and
they did so. Once inside, a couple Espers closed the doors with nothing
more than the power of their minds. Gryz marveled at them and could not
wait for the day when he could do the same.
Alexander led Chaz and company through Esper Mansion's halls to a
meeting place he deemed appropriate. The Hunter recognized his
surroundings from the three times he previously visited this place.
Because of the circumstances of his last visit, however, this was the last
place he wanted to see. It was the only place that he feared returning to.
There was no escaping what he was required to do, what fate dictated that
he should do. Overcoming his fear was not only beneficial to their cause,
but it sped him on the way to recovery as well.
The closer the Esper got to his destination, the more nervous Chaz
became. The path he took was all to familiar. He recognized it as the one
leading to the Council Chambers, the very place where Rika had died. A
certain amount of aversion and sadness came over him. His friends must
have noticed the change in mood in him for he felt Demi's hand slip into
his and Raja and Gryz's comforting touch on each of his shoulders. It
would be hard for anyone to return to the very place where his wife died,
where his child was stolen from her womb. With his friends there with him,
Chaz felt like he could take on the world.
But a disturbing thought entered his mind, a thought that tore at his
insides. Rika's body still lay within these walls, within the chamber that
housed the hibernation chamber used by Lutz and his scions. Chaz suddenly
felt pangs of guilt at having loved Nei. He should not have played around
with love so carelessly. While his wife lay dead, her soul held in thrall
by Darkness, Nei was alive, given a second chance at life. Why could Rika
not be given the same chance?
The Hunter cursed himself for attempting to be so logical. Where love
was involved, there was hardly any logic. He would have fallen in love
with Nei even if he had never met Rika. He loved her because she was an
individual with a personality of her own, not because she looked almost
exactly like his wife. It just so happened that both Rika and Nei shared
similar qualities that he enjoyed. Chaz would always love his wife, but it
was time to finally accept that he also loved Nei -- without guilt.
Alexander stopped and turned left into the Council Chambers where he
stood behind a makeshift podium. Seated to his left and right were three
Esper men and women who must have been filling the seats which were
vacated by the previous Council members. Scars of battle still marked the
walls of the chamber and it appeared that the seats were thrown together
in haste. "Please forgive the appearance of our chambers," Alexander
apologized. "We have yet to find the resources to properly restore it
after the battle here. I have been elected to serve as Leader in Kyra's
absence and these fine Espers were elected to the Council. By the way, how
is our Leader?"
"She is well," Demi returned. "Along with us, both Kyra and Rune are
fighting for the preservation of Algo."
"The Reverent Fifth is with you? It has been a long time since any of
us have felt his presence. Is he well?"
"Alive and kicking," Gryz told them. The Council members regarded him
with curiosity, being careful not to offend.
"Your name is Gryz, is it not?" Gryz nodded. "Oh, and just to let you
know, you would not have been vaporized by touching that staff." The
Motavian Esper looked at Alexander quizzically and the Esper chuckled. "We
had no other way of proving your words, so we figured that if you
possessed courage enough to touch it, then you must be telling the truth."
Gryz did not appear amused. Alexander quickly changed the subject. "How is
it that you came upon your Telemental powers?"
The Motavian launched into an explanation of how he was with Balor when
the Esper died. It was difficult for him to adequately express his
feelings on the matter, how the changes occurred within him. Alexander and
his peers were compassionate toward him, though, and did not once cast a
disapproving look in his direction. Gryz was comforted by that and felt no
fear in their presence.
In the meantime, Chaz's eyes wandered off in the direction of the door
that led to the subterranean chamber where his wife lay. He fought the
urge to simply walk over and enter that chamber, but that would have been
disrespectful to his hosts. He wanted to check on her, make sure that her
body was still there. The Hunter heard Alexander say something about Gryz
being a descendant of Zarah and that Balor's prophetic words must have had
something to do with the activation of latent Telemental powers, but his
mind was otherwise occupied. He knew that he had to stop dwelling on the
subject or else he would lose sight of their goal. Easier said than done,
"So," Alexander continued, oblivious to Chaz's sidetracked thoughts,
"how may we assist you?" Raja stepped forward timidly, not knowing what to
expect while under the scrutiny of these Espers. He was taking a big
chance by just being there. A part of him said that they would laugh at
him or worse. Another part of him hoped that they would be open-minded
toward him, especially since they acknowledged that he was one of the
Protectors and Archbishop of his people.
"Well, aside from being here with my friends," he said, "I have also
come here to formally request your assistance on behalf of my people. A
great evil threatens our planet and all of Algo and we believe that with
your people's assistance we may be able to turn it away."
The Archbishop smiled awkwardly and tried not to look like he was
guilty of anything. He was lying, of course, at least in the part about
being sent there by his people. Out of experience from having been friends
with Rune and Kyra, he knew that Espers were capable of looking into one's
soul for the truth, even a Dezorian's. Frankly, he was surprised that
these Espers gave him a chance to speak. Most of his people believed that
they were a judgmental people who could not see past the end of pointed
little noses. Raja hoped that his soul was a good-enough bluffer.
Alexander and his Council conferred in a mental discussion only they
could take part in. Gryz, still not able to control his Telemental skills,
could only pick up bits and pieces of it. From what he could determine,
they were weighing the possibility that Raja was telling the truth with
what was occurring on their planet against their past relations with his
Raja did not blame them, not really. He found it hard to trust Kyra and
Rune when they first met and vice versa. Generations of bad blood and
distrust was virtually erased in the face of danger and necessity. For
those who were not willing to open their minds, hearts, and eyes to
outside influences and opinions, though, it would be harder to change
"We have considered what you have said and have decided to convene
until tomorrow," Alexander announced.
"No, you fools!" Demi roared. "Don't you understand? Can you not see
what is happening around you?"
"I do admit that we have felt a strong disturbance, but without knowing
exactly what is happening we should not act. To do so without more
knowledge could cause more harm then good."
"That is what we're doing here," the android rebuked. "We have come
here with knowledge enough to stir you into action."
"What would you propose we do?"
Demi withdrew, indicated that she needed a moment to confer with her
friends. They had a brief discussion on what to do about these stubborn
Espers and what could motivate them into action. They were trying so hard
to be polite about everything without causing panic, but based on how
their hosts were acting, they wondered if panic was even in their
vocabulary. Alexander and his Council were so nonchalant that it almost
sickened Chaz to be around them. They decided that now was the time to
play their trump card.
"We didn't want to tell you this so soon," Chaz began, "but Rune and
Kyra are not so well."
"What do you mean?" asked Alexander, his interest piqued.
"Their lives are in danger." The Council Leader pounded on his
"If what you say is true, then we must go to them." A wave of agreement
spread through the Council's ranks. "How many of us do you require."
"All of you," Gryz said.
"Hmm," Alexander considered thoughtfully. "It seems that we are faced
with a much more grave threat than we suspected." Now, Chaz thought,
we're finally getting somewhere. "Vera," he said to a woman seated to his
left, "send out word for all Espers to gather here in one hour's time."
Vera bowed in compliance and hurried out of the chamber to spread word to
the rest of her people. "Where would you have us meet?"
The Hunter thought for a moment, remembered seeing the giant rift on
their way to Esper Mansion. "Meet us near Meese," he said. "If your
people need transportation there, I can help with that."
"Thank you for the offer, but it is not necessary. There are enough
among us who command the Ryuka Technique just like yourself."
"When we first arrived on Dezoris, we could not use Ryuka to travel at
all. Let's hope that something has changed."
"Please excuse us. We must prepare for the journey."
Chaz and his friends were satisfied with what they accomplished. At one
point they did not think it would be possible. Playing on their loyalty
to their fellow Espers, they were able to sway opinions in their favor.
Now, if only Rune, Kyra, Hahn, and Wren had the same kind of luck with the
Chaz gathered his companions together and said a few parting words to
Alexander who was heading out of the Council chambers. The Council leader
acknowledged him and reassured that his people would be at the designated
meeting spot in less than an hour. Satisfied, the Hunter used Ryuka and he
and his friends disappeared.