Child Of Darkness
Alone and in pairs, the Espers began arriving at Meese. The native
Meesians welcomed Chaz, Raja, Demi, and Gryz with open arms, but the
arrival of hundreds of Espers was a little overwhelming. The Telementals
immediately spread out over town, securing every entrance, weaving their
powers in a blanketing shield. Midday was almost upon them and yet the sky
merely glowed in a disturbing twilight. Algo was fading away quickly and
with it, the cold settled in.
Fires burned all around town. Without the light from Algo, it was
necessary to keep them burning both for light and for heat. The Espers
used Flaeli and Foi to keep fires lit, volunteered to go out and retrieve
more firewood. These strangers to Meese were suddenly becoming welcome
friends. The citizens did not know how to welcome them at first, but now
they did not feel they could live without them. Many Meesians saw their
Mansion from afar, never daring to approach them. Once, the Espers came to
help them when the sickness came, never coming back. An opinion of them
was formed after that -- that they were recluses with no real connections
to the outside world. That opinion changed, however. The Espers were now
looked upon as saviors.
Chaz and Gryz patrolled the perimeter as well, taking time to get and
know a few of their Esper companions. The Motavian felt distanced from
them even though they were now his people. They were kind enough to him,
but because he was both an Esper and Motavian, they did not know how to
react to him, what was acceptable by his standards. Most of them had only
seen Motavians in texts. Truth was that they were just as uncomfortable in
his presence as he was in theirs.
Alexander was among the last to arrive. With his makeshift council in
tow, they made sure that every last Esper fit to make the journey left
Esper Mansion. When he finally made it there, almost two hundred and fifty
of his people walked Meese's streets. Alexander immediately began to
converse with his colleagues, occasionally shooting a cautious, almost
distrusting, glance in Chaz's direction every so often. The Hunter knew
that it would take a lot of convincing before he trusted him completely.
Hopefully, should Kyra and the others succeed in their endeavors, he would
have all the proof they needed.
Dezoris' climate became frigid and almost unlivable in the days
following the first signs of Algo's demise. Although the snow stopped and
there was virtually no wind, the biting cold of darkness was like that of
death itself. No matter how long they waited, Algo would not rise. Many of
the Meesians recalled cursing the bitterly cold days where Algo did not
shine. Technically, it was, but the warmth and light could not fully
penetrate the planet's clouds. Now that it was disappearing altogether,
they were sorry they ever complained and longed for those days again.
After losing him from sight for nearly an hour, Alexander spotted Chaz
near the inn still in Gryz's company. The Esper needed to speak with him,
but he was uncomfortable around the Motavian. He realized that such
feelings toward another Esper was unwarranted and would be considered
offensive by normal Esper standards. Gryz, however, was by no means a
"normal" Esper. By far, he was the most intriguing of the four strangers.
Some of his people remembered Chaz from the last time he visited Esper
Mansion and even recognized Raja as the Dezorian Archbishop. Demi was
easily identified as an android and they knew that she would be a great
asset to their cause.
Then there was Gryz who looked like a Motavian, who he was, but was
sensed like an Esper. If he was to walk into a crowded room with a hundred
other Espers' backs turned toward him, they would not be able to tell the
difference. As far as Alexander was concerned, he was an aberration, a
being who was, but really should not be. Gryz was about as strange-looking
to him as a two-legged Musk Cat would be. For some reason, he could not
get over the Motavian's outward guise. He had no real reason to distrust
him, only that he did not really know him. That was something he needed to
"Chaz," Alexander called his attention. The Hunter and Gryz stopped,
proceeded to meet him half-way. They stopped at a comfortable distance,
but close enough to see each other's facial expressions in Algo's dying
light. Chaz could not help but notice the troubled look in Alexander's
"What troubles you, my friend?" he asked.
The Esper was taken by surprise. Here was a person who barely knew him
calling him "friend." For all Chaz knew, he could turn out to be more of a
nuisance than a help. The Hunter and his friends failed to produce any
evidence to back his words and Alexander had sufficient reason to doubt
him. He would have if the Light did not shine from him and his friends
like a bright star.
"What exactly are we waiting for, Chaz?" asked the Esper.
"Some friends of ours."
"When are these 'friends' supposed to arrive?"
"Very well," Alexander conceded. "I will be around with my people. Ask
any of them and they will know where to find me."
His statement was a simple one, meant to inform and nothing more. Chaz
could not help feeling that he was being brushed off, that his words did
not carry as much weight as it once did. He knew that Alexander did not
mean any disrespect, but it was still unnerving. For the first time since
he and his friends went their separate ways, the Hunter felt nervous. He
was worried that his friends would not be able to accomplish their
No, Chaz thought, now is not the time for doubt. It was imperative that
he placed the fullest confidence in his friends. After all, he, Gryz,
Raja, and Demi accomplished their goal so why should Kyra, Rune, Hahn, and
Wren not? They were just as much accomplished diplomats as he was, even
more so. He assumed that his concern was getting him worked up.
Alexander walked off and left the Hunter and his friend standing alone.
Chaz was dumbfounded by the suddenness of his actions and words. The Esper
obviously was not diplomatic when he was not required to be.
Gryz shrugged his shoulders. He was used to being shrugged off so it
did not phase him at all. Most people did not consider Motavians worth the
attention and frankly he was surprised that the Esper even considered him
at all. There was something that seemed phoney about his sincerity. Gryz
would be the first to admit that he was no judge of character, though. His
best friend was better at that so as long as he trusted Alexander, he
Hunter and Motavian continued their patrol of Meese's perimeter. With
the powerful spells the Espers brought with them it was doubtful that
anything could get in or out of town without anyone being aware of it.
Still, that possibility existed, so it did not hurt to be cautious. Chaz
was worried that it might appear that he was simply being paranoid, but
that mattered little to him. It was better to be viewed as paranoid than
Gryz placed a restraining hand across Chaz's chest without provocation
which caused more than just a mild irritation to his companion. "Did you
feel that?" he asked?
"All I feel is the bruise you left on me," the Hunter returned while
nursing his chest. Quelling his anger, he remembered that Gryz's senses
were heightened after he gained his Telemental abilities. "What is
"I -- I'm not sure," he returned. "It's just this feeling I have. It's
a feeling I recognize and yet it feels so foreign to me. I think
something's going to happen soon."
"I don't know."
Chaz grunted. Now was one of those times when he wished that his friend
had more control over his blossoming abilities. Normally, if Rune or Kyra
was around, they could interpret the same feelings in a heartbeat. Gryz
felt pretty bad because he could not elaborate on exactly what was going
on. He was reasonably sure that the signals he was receiving were not bad
ones or else he would probably panic. No, the signals were definitely not
of a bad nature.
"Someone's coming," the Motavian stated.
"Who? From where?" Chaz questioned anxiously.
"I don't know, but they'll be here any second!"
Gryz grabbed his friend's arm and pulled him to the side in between two
buildings. Seconds later, a Dezorian appeared out of thin air. Soon
afterward, another appeared, then another, then another. Before long,
Meese's courtyard was brimming with virtually hundreds of Dezorians. Chaz
was taken aback by their numbers and wondered how it was that they came to
"Dezorians!" a voice cried out.
"Espers!" another cried in the Dezorian language.
A strange glowing appeared from just beyond Chaz and Gryz's sight while
a similar one radiated from the Dezorians. The Hunter was not sure, but he
believed that they were readying themselves for battle. He never saw
Espers and Dezorians engage each other. From what he observed from
observing Rune, Kyra, and Raja's powers, it would probably be a monumental
"Wait!" Chaz heard Rune order.
"Don't do anything!" Raja barked.
"Raja!" Jaerli shrieked in glee and ran to his arms.
If Rune is here, the Hunter thought, then that must mean . . . .
"Kyra!" he shouted in excitement, "Hahn! Wren! Rune!"
"Chaz?" the Esper Leader inquired out loud. Chaz saw someone pushing
her way through the tangled mass of Dezorians which appeared out of
nowhere. Kyra finally made her way through the crowd and emerged on the
other side. "Chaz!"
The two friends ran and embraced each other. The Hunter was so ecstatic
he could barely hold back the tears. Chaz heard footsteps run in their
direction and suddenly he was surrounded by all six of his other friends.
He and Kyra broke their embrace and immediately went to greet the rest of
their companions. Handshakes and hugs were given freely and gladly
accepted. It was two days since they saw one another and the worrying
"I was afraid of what the Dezorians might do to you," Chaz said,
addressing his four friends who journeyed to Gumbian, "or rather, what
they are capable of doing."
"We are," said Rune, "all of us capable of great evils as well as great
feats of goodness. I assure you, Chaz, that we were just as concerned for
My friends, the Hunter thought. Now that we're all back together we are
whole again. There were times when I thought that my team wouldn't be
successful, but we pulled through. I'm relieved that Kyra and the others
were able to as well. Our next goal should be to convince these two
peoples that cooperating is in both their best interests. How we're going
to do that is beyond me. I think I'll leave that task up to Rune, Kyra,
* * * * *
"You expect us to work with them?!" Nyr roared, defying Raja's wishes
and speaking in his native tongue and not in Palman.
"Kyra, Reverent Fifth," Alexander acknowledged both with a nod, "I can
tell you right now that our people will not be happy if they are forced to
work with these . . . creatures."
Chaz and his other friends stood back while Raja, Rune, and Kyra dealt
with their current dilemma. He was unsure of what he or any of them could
do to aid. Wren and Demi were busy performing routine maintenance on their
bodies. Because of Dezoris' cold climate, they needed to be especially
vigilant about keeping their systems in working order. If snow and ice
somehow penetrated their metallic bodies and melted within, there could be
dire results. It was not too likely that something like that could happen,
but better to be safe.
Hahn and Gryz stood to either side of the Hunter. Gryz was starting to
understand bits and pieces of what the Dezorians were saying, but Chaz and
Hahn were not fully versed in their language. On several occurrences, Raja
encouraged Nyr and his people to speak Palman, but they refused to comply.
They either had no respect for him or were incredibly defiant. There were
three exceptions, however, and they appeared to be close friends of the
Archbishop. Two Bishops, Ovis and Chele, stood behind him and a female
Dezorian named Jaerli stood by his side. Still, four individuals seemed
hardly enough to sway the opinions of a couple hundred miffed
"You leave us without word for several months and now you expect us to
follow your lead?" Nyr questioned.
Rune and Kyra were even worse off. At least Raja had some of his people
step forward in support of him. No Espers came forward to support their
leaders. Many of them stood with their arms crossed, staring at their
mortal enemies, waiting for the moment Alexander told them to strike. To
them, Rune and Kyra had been poisoned by being in Raja's company for so
long and their judgement was impaired. The two Esper leaders could have
told them otherwise until they were blue in the face, but it would have
not made a difference. Right then, their faith was placed in Alexander and
as long as he did not cooperate with them, they would not either.
Arguments continued and before long, both the Espers and the Dezorians
were fighting among themselves. The town's entire courtyard erupted in
verbal confrontations. Surprisingly enough, none of them were directed at
the enemy. Many of Raja's people opinions were starting to sway in his
favor. Most of those was because of the love and respect they shared for
him. Nyr was rapidly losing influence over his people despite the
collective hatred they had for the Espers. They were willing to rush to
the Archbishop's rescue, but what Rune and Kyra failed to mention was that
they would have to work with hundreds of their generations-old enemy. The
Esper Leader and the reverent Lutz of legends themselves came to their
holiest temple to ask for their assistance. There had to be a pretty good
reason for their visit or else they would not have risked their lives
seeking them out. And besides, they were not too bad -- for Espers.
Rune and Kyra were not having an easy time swaying the opinions of
their people. Many of them did not agree with Kyra's appointment as Esper
Leader although she performed the duties of her position well. The once
loved Reverent Fifth did not fare any better. The Espers felt betrayed by
him. He awakened over three years ago and then left them for three years.
It was one thing to retire to the Hibernation Chamber where they knew his
location, but a totally different situation when he was nowhere to be
found. Chaz watched patiently as Rune explained his absence to his people
and the reasons behind it. The Reverent Fifth spoke eloquently, making
sure not to leave any details out. Kyra backed his words up, taking the
story over after they met up with him the last time they were in Esper
Mansion. From there, she explained her absence, some of which they
understood for they were under Lian's spell.
The Hunter felt the crowd's anger and disappointment quell. For the
first time since the Dezorians arrived, there was beginning to be a sense
of peace, and the abundant animosity between them began to diminish. Raja,
Kyra, and Rune told their peoples about their stories of hope . . . their
stories of despair. This time, though, they told them to their own people.
The town's entire courtyard became like that of a cemetery and only three
voices carried throughout.
Native Meesians came out from their homes and peered around corners and
the spectacle before them. As Palmans, they understood all too well the
differences that Dezorians and Espers had with each other in the past.
They, themselves, were weary of having so many of their green-skinned
neighbors within their town's walls. It was not out of the ordinary to
occasionally play host to one or two travelling Dezorians on a pilgrimage
to Gumbious and even to Gumbian after it was built. The Palman scientists
who help with the construction of Gumbian stayed in Meese for awhile, so
natives knew that they would not be shunned away. Meesians were proud of
their reputation of being so liberal, but having so many "guests,"
including the Espers, was unnerving.
"So," said Nyr, "how can you guarantee our peoples' safety while
travelling in the company of these Espers?"
"You have my word --" Raja started.
"And mine as well," the Reverent Fifth added.
"Rune," said Alexander, "how can we be sure that this danger you speak
of is real?"
"Can't you feel it?" Kyra questioned. "The danger surrounds us, is
swallowing our entire solar system. We need to stop it now or all is
lost." The Esper Leader's words carried far into the furthest of their
numbers from them and held them in thrall. It seemed like minutes before
"I admit that my Telemental abilities are not as finely honed as yours,
but I have felt something. In fact, all of us have detected a disturbance
in the natural order of things. It seems that the balance of power is
currently shifting in the Darkness' direction." Alexander stopped for a
moment to consider where his words were leading. "If it is the desire of
our people, then I will do what past Espers have done for generations in
the past -- I will follow the lead of the Reverent Fifth and join you,
Kyra, and the Dezorians."
"It is our wish, Alexander," a voice called out from the crowd.
"For the greater good," another one added.
"What about you, Nyr?" Raja asked. "Will you come along willingly?"
"I don't know," the acting Archbishop replied.
"Technically, my friend, you're just temporarily taking my place. I am
the one true Archbishop of Gumbian. I am asking you this out of respect
because I know our people think highly of you."
Raja paused, letting his words sink in. Nyr was very much aware that
Raja could take back his title without question. Even though he left his
people, it was apparent now that he did so for good reason. The Archbishop
was at least partially correct when he said that his people thought highly
of him. There were also many that thought poorly of him as well. Nyr
applauded him for his ingenuity and for his choice of words.
"I will go," he said, "if only to see if you are deceiving us."
"Forever the cynic . . . ."
"Shall we go, then?" Chaz spoke up, relieved that they were finally
getting somewhere. "I don't mean to seem impatient, but every minute we
waste arguing is one less minute in Algo's existence."
"Then let us leave immediately," said Wren and he, Demi, Hahn, and Gryz
turned and headed for the nearest exit out of town.
* * * * *
Walking in knee-deep and at some points, waist-deep, snow, the
Protectors, the Dezorians, and the Espers slowly made their way to where
Chaz and company saw the rift. The journey would have been much more
difficult had Dezoris' raging storms continued, but that was not so. What
hindered their progress the most was the lack of light. Otherwise, the
temperature was not frigidly cold. In fact, if Chaz's feet were not numb
from walking in the snow, he might have considered the walk a pleasant
According to Wren's calculations, it existed in the exact same spot
where Garuberk once stood. Due to their extraordinary senses, the entire
group already felt the rift's dark pulsations. Chaz hoped that if the need
arose, Elsydeon's power would be able to protect all of them. Sure, it was
capable of doing so for him and his travelling companions, but to protect
several hundred individuals would be a task of great magnitude. It was not
that he doubted the sword's power, it was just that it seemed overwhelming
to him. If the power of Elsydeon was capable of bringing Nei back from the
dead surely it possessed the power to protect them.
The Hunter felt pangs of sorrow and remorse every time he thought of
her. Once before she fought to protect the people and the planet that she
loved and for many, many years she was never recognized for it. Once
again, she came, she helped defend all of Algo, and she passed on, but
this time it would be different. Chaz was determined that her deeds would
not go unrecognized. He would do everything possible to make sure that
Nei's name would never fade away into obscurity. He owed her at least that
The Protectors and the amassed armies of Espers and Dezorians entered a
dense portion of the forest and emerged out the other side. From there,
they followed an unnaturally cleared portion which they knew led right up
to Garuberk's front door. Turning to the left, they saw first-hand just
what had taken the tower's place.
A narrow rift as tall as three Gumbians seemingly floated in mid-air.
It was as black as the cold heart of Darkness itself and radiated evil
thoughts and intentions. Chaz felt fear sprout from within him like
mushrooms. He knew now exactly what they were up against. As Algo's light
faded, the Profound Darkness' presence increased. When they first saw the
rift on the way to Esper Mansion, it was much smaller. Only a couple days
passed since then and the rift appeared to have grown exponentially.
As they approached, walking became increasingly difficult. The rift was
having an effect on Dezoris gravity somehow and even Wren and Demi, with
their great strength, was not immune to it. If any Esper or Dezorian still
doubted their sincerity, he surely would have rethought his opinion by
now. Younger, stronger individuals among the groups kept up with ease, but
the truly young and aging were falling behind. No one was going to be left
to fend for himself. They needed each and every one of them to succeed,
although they did not know why as of yet. All Chaz knew was that Nei told
him that they needed to bring two disputing peoples together. Instinct
told him that they needed to bring them to this place, to the rift. There
was one such place in Algo where a similar rift once existed and its
energy ended causing the deaths of the citizens of Mile.
The Edge was not a pleasant place, to say the least. It was the one
place in the known universe where there was no order in any way, shape or
form. Chaos reigned there and time, substance, and thought swirled around
in a maddening brilliance of color, confusing the senses. The creatures
which lived in that transition zone between their dimension and the
dimension the Profound Darkness was trapped in were many and powerful.
Beings such as Prophallus, Gi-Le-Farg, and Imagiomage, beings they battled
even recently, came from The Edge. Three years ago, they posed a difficult
challenge to reaching their destination. The Light only knew what other
obstacles the Darkness thought up since then.
Upon nearing the rift, Chaz and his party ran into a wall. It was not a
physical wall, but a magical one obviously erected by the Darkness. This
wall drew in power from negative energy, using their doubt, their anger,
their intolerance, and their fear to strengthen its rigidness. There was
no way that they could possibly breach it without some kind of divine
"This is why we're here," said Nyr.
"It would appear that way," Alexander replied.
"Chaz," Rune said, "let's see if we can break through this." The Hunter
nodded and positioned himself in front of the Reverent Fifth. Working in
unison, the two performed Grand Cross with perfection. A bright flash lit
the entire area, but quickly faded, Grand Cross having absolutely no
effect on the wall.
"I believe that now you can probably see why we need your help," Raja
"Indeed," Nyr told him. "But what can we, Dezorians and Espers,
possibly do to help you? You and your friends are the strongest among
"Yes," Kyra spoke, "but together our people may be able to punch a hole
into the rift large enough for my friends and I to enter it. So what about
it? Will you help us?"
"The Espers will help," said Alexander.
The acting Archbishop was silent for a few moments. What Kyra, Raja,
and the rest of their friends were proposing was an alliance between their
peoples, an account unprecedented in the history of their two races. Raja
could have easily retaken his title and the rest of the Dezorians would
have followed him. It was better to work as one than against each other
was what the Archbishop was implying. Nyr felt the Darkness' presence as
surely as if he was a mother carrying it in his womb. That could not be
denied. There was only one thing he could do.
"Raja," he said, speaking in Palman for the first time, "I appreciate
your objectiveness on this matter. You could have easily ordered me to
help and I could not have said a word to the contrary because you are the
one true Archbishop. Thank you for showing me what I must do." Everyone
was silent. "I agree to do this for the sake of our people, for the safety
of our planet and our galaxy, and because I, too, desire better relations
with our Esper neighbors."
Nyr held out his hand to Alexander in a gesture of friendship which was
traditional among the Palmans. Alexander took it and they shook hands.
Rune, Raja, and Kyra placed their hand atop theirs. Espers and Dezorians
alike cheered and rushed to greet each other in a newfound alliance. When
they were done, Alexander ordered his people back to one side and Nyr did
the same for the Dezorians.
"It is time," Wren announced solemnly. "We cannot delay a moment
Jaerli came running out from the crowd and held Raja in an embrace. She
was not weeping the tears of someone who was saying "farewell" to a loved
one. No, her tears were the worst of all -- the tears of someone who was
saying good-bye forever. She was able to compose herself long enough to
see Kyra standing next to them. Jaerli turned and embraced her as well.
"Take care of yourself, my friend," she said. "I will pray to
Tak'khan for your safety."
"Thank you, Jaerli," the Esper Leader replied. "We will do our
Kyra walked off and Jaerli returned her attention back to Raja. Holding
him, she once again started to weep. "Don't let any Snow Slugs get you,
Raja," she told him. The Archbishop said nothing, could not even find the
words to tell her good-bye. He was not even sure that they would ever
come back this time. Jaerli was determined never to let go of him.
Without her knowing, Raja motioned for a couple of his people to come
and retrieve Jaerli. They gently put hands around her arms and started
pulling her away. "No! Let go of me!" she ordered. The Archbishop broke
his embrace and watched as they pulled her back into the safety of the
crowd. He started to say good-bye, but his courage failed him and the
words were never spoken. Unfortunately, Jaerli read his lips all too
"Raja!" she screamed. "I love you, Raja!" Jaerli continued to struggle,
but could not break away from her restrainers. "You better come back to
me, Raja! Do you hear me?! You better come back to me!"
The Archbishop averted his gaze, could not bare to look upon her. He
started to walk away when Nyr grabbed his arm. Startled, he turned around
to see what he wanted. "Good luck," Nyr told him, then, clenching his
right fist, he placed it on his chest and bowed his head, signifying the
highest homage a Dezorian could ever pay another. Raja's gaze went beyond
Nyr and he saw that every single one of his people was paying the same
respect. Then, much to his surprise, he saw the Espers doing exactly the
same. Raja came to realize that their salute was not meant for him alone,
but for all of the Protectors. To know that he was instrumental in
bringing the bitterness to an end filled the Archbishop with pride and
made what he was about to do a little easier to swallow.
"Let's get this over with."
Nyr and Alexander shook hands with all the Protectors and then returned
to their people. Chaz heard both the Esper and Dezorian bark out commands
to their comrades and all of them stood ready. They turned, gazes fixed on
him. As the bearer of Elsydeon, he was destined to lead the Protectors
into battle. He was to give the word to his support.
The Hunter unsheathed Elsydeon and nodded his head. Looking up, he saw
no clouds above, only the stars of countless galaxies billions of miles
away. Their own star, Algo, looked as weak as the light of a dying
The Dezorians began to hum, eventually turning it into a deep, throaty
sound. The strong baritones and basses were heard above all others. Beside
them, hundreds of Espers crossed their arms on their chests and closed
their eyes. One by one, each of the Telementals opened their eyes and a
single beam of blue light shot forth from his or her forehead merging at a
single point above the Protectors, then blasting into the rift. In the
meanwhile, an emerald-green scintillation formed above the Dezorians and
grew brighter in intensity. The many harmonies and melodies came together
in a great euphonious song. The green scintillation flashed even brighter
than it was and suddenly it exploded onto the rift. Surprisingly enough,
the Esper and Dezorian powers seemed to compliment each other, growing
A tunnel formed of bluish-green light burrowed its way into and through
the magical wall, creating a safe passageway into the rift. Chaz held
Elsydeon before him and entered. His friends, their own weapons now drawn,
followed close behind. Once they were through, the Dezorians and Espers
ceased their efforts.
"So, what do we do now?" asked Nyr.
"We wait," Alexander said, "and pray," he added gravely.
Jaerli watched as the last remnants of the tunnel disappear, then felt
her heart drop as the rift closed up, sealing her friends within it.