Wednesday, March 6

Chapter Nine



Blazerine thought the building kept morbidly changing like a drawing being executed in a sketchbook. And everything being drawn was actually coming to life. How could they possibly be able to stop something like that?

Dark clouds shaped like crows were inching through the sky right above. The air seemed heavy and the winds weren't whispering, they were howling, howling each and every single one their names. Now it's beginning to shift into a darken castle. Blood laced banisters and black marble held up the stronger foundations. Black crystal glass makes up the spiraling towers and its spires. While it was a stunning piece of architecture, it was a nightmare in the cold clarity that it symbolized. Who knows what could be waiting for them inside.


Leon shook his head and said, "Did I fail to mention she sung a lot of fairy tales to the children?"


"You know what I don't get? Why wouldn't she just repossessed her own body again or anyone else’s?” Blazerine asked.


"Once a body dies it can't be re-used and a living body can't be taken. She would have to find a fresh body, one that was perhaps still being born. I doubt she is willing to go through the aging process again." Lyrist replied.


"That would be one hell of a long wait to carry out revenge." Fenix commented.


"I thought she could only manipulate the picture... Hmm... Well regardless Blazerine and I will handle it from here." Lyrist announces.


"Wait rewind that! Why am I involved in this equation?" Blazerine questionably stares him dead in the eyes.


Lyrist looked back to ask her, "You haven't been singing, have you?"


"No, but let's not jinx it just yet. I'm not exactly cut out for it anyway." Blazerine sighed.


"It could be possible that Lyrist is immune. The curse he's got already is probably a lot stronger. And there's no doubt in my mind that the sacred orb is protecting Blazerine." Leon slipped his input in.


"Yes, that's what I assumed." Lyrist nodded.


( Blazerine: Speaking of the orb.. Yeldir did say it cannot be removed unless I die. Even if he suspects the barrier is just a precaution made due to the betrayal of the first guardian, Damus Johan. Does that mean all of them may possibly have the same magical barrier? Or maybe it's just his. If that's the case then I am wearing the sacred orb of loyalty.  If anything this thing is evil. I haven't been able to sleep really much at all because of the nightmares. Well on top of the ones I just made from the bandit camp... Although I still think all of this is coincidence.  Without a doubt my presence has set this time off course somehow. If I do get my hands on some chocolate. It would provide further evidence to prove my theory.)

Lyrist thought it was odd for Blazerine to be thinking about all of that at a time like this. "So its settled then?" He asked.

"Yes we are all going." Leon replied.

"Oh, c'mon!" Fenix yelled out in dismay.


When they approached the massive outer walls of the castle, the drawbridge collapses right in front of their feet. The air shift as if welcoming them with a cold breeze. Briefly they stood there, wondering why Belinda was so eager for them to enter. Inside the castle reveals a spacious gloomy interior. Tables are scattered across the room from the bar to the sage, where awaits a set of instruments... minus the band members themselves.  A black figure emerges from the shadows of a dark hallway, but it's actually crawling along the walls.

Cracks started to burst throughout the marble in many different directions. A hand is desperately trying to pry itself from the confinements of the wall. And another...then another.... They just kept coming...  Out of nowhere a black mist explodes in the middle of the room, only to disappear, leaving behind a grand piano. As quick as the mist was to leave, it returns, but someone came with it.  The mist formulates itself into an actual dress around Belinda succulent body. Her hair was hanging low, in front of her eyes, those violent red eyes. Shortly she sweeps it back to reveal a flawless face that's pale as moon itself. Paying no mind to her guests, she took a seat and prepared to play.

In this very moment, Lyrist flexes his fingers, encouraging his nails to surface. He hisses while sprinting off towards her with his nails ready to swipe. When he was about an inch or two away from clawing her eyes out, he was thrown back. His body sled across the floor from the impact of the unidentifiable source. Nobody was sure what the cause behind it was.  But then... the first eerie note made a drastic change in the atmosphere. Leon, Fenix, Lyrist and Blazerine... were all beginning to fly? No wait... it was more like floating in the aspects of zero gravity.

Unfortunately Lyrist was the closest to the wall because of the incident. One hand grabbed him by the foot and before he knew it, his entire body was covered in them. The only thing that could be seen was actually his head. The expression he made was entirely absurd. He was smiling! And his eyes were completely drained of color!

"Lyrist!" Blazerine called out to him.

Lyrist was back where he belongs... in Norwood Forest, the place he dearly missed the most. But how did he get here? It doesn't matter... he just wanted to run freely. Leaping from tree to tree and branch after branch. Sweat beaded on his forehead and soaked through his shirt, causing the fabric to stick so uncomfortably to his skin. Although his vest was light, it felt itchy and damp, almost like its squeezing him tight to the point it'll hindered his movement. Only a few more minutes, he told himself, then I'll be done for the day.

The only response Blazerine got back from Lyrist was, "Don't be sappy, look I am happy. So why don't we all just take a nappy?"


"What the hell is going on!?" Fenix demands to know.


Franticly he waved his arms in a swimming kind of fashion, trying to redirect himself.


"I thought he was immune!?" Blazerine cried.


Leon didn't even say anything because he's too busy taking notice of something... way down below. Sections of the floor were beginning to open squared bottomless pits.  Another eerie note returns gravity back to normal, causing the three of them to plummet straight down. First Fenix was the first to fall through an opening. He extended his arms and legs to prevent him from slipping any further. Then Leon did the same thing, however when Blazerine tried, her legs and arms weren't long enough.


There wasn't even enough time for her to panic. It happened so fast... she's helplessly falling aimlessly. Everything kept spinning as her body spun out of control. Then she impacts water.. This situation seemed awfully familiar. But what was it? Wait... it's just like when she was running in the woods. She was drowning in the same kind of way after encountering the scared orb. How can this be? Does this mean she actually has foreseen her own death? A shrill of bubbles escapes from her nose and ears... She was struggling to hold her breath... Then something out of the norm took place.


Blazerine was back in the year 2125.  A holograph overhead of a crosswalk relays a broadcast that's being played over and over again. "An Earth Fleet has been taken down. The Economic Union suspects it might be a retaliation of the Imperium Confederation. However there is a lot of speculation that the Zhe'Kolhavan might be behind it. Districts forty six,  forty seven, forty eight, and forty nine are now off limits."


The Economic Union and the Imperium Confederation had been living peacefully for many years. But as of lately...there has been a lot of tensions between the two. Earth has moved out into space to harvest resources from other plants. This way they wouldn't use all the resources that were left on earth and further pollute it. The Imperium Confederation are those who have lived in space since they were born; The inhabitants of space colonies. They believe the people of earth will eventually pollute their homes. When negotiations began to fail, a war broke out. The colonies have banned together to create an rebellion against earth. But the war has quickly turn for the worse... when a third party made their arrival; The Zhe'Holhavan. Blazerine was still standing there, staring at the announcement.


"How disrespectful..." A woman comments while looking her way. She was wearing a dress that resembles a jellyfish. The shape of the dress was a bell; (head of a jellyfish.) The bottom has delicate stringy latex; which is intended to look like tentacles. The colors are a mixture between red to deep purple and lighter blues. The whole outfit was practically see through.


Around the year 2100,  the less skin you show is actually more appealing than oppose to exploiting. And that little comment she made... well... today is a memorial for when the jellyfish had gone extinct. A lot of species have already died in fact, but instead of doing anything about the ones still left, all they seem to be doing is living in the past. And what I mean by "they" is the Animal Rights Committee. Members dress accordingly to the occasion, almost like it was some sort of holiday or even a fashion statement. On the other hand... the extreme members take their devoted beyond that. They mutilate their bodies, from changing pigments colors, eye shapes and animalistic implants... If anything that can be learned by this. In her opinion plastic surgery has advance too greatly for mankind.  


The little girl standing next to the woman wore the same exact thing, but she was accompanied by an I.C. Head. It's a toy inserted with an Intelligence Chip. (I.C.) They're similar to A.I's, in the aspects of being capable of thinking, learning and developing. But they're allowed to have personalities. This function has been outlawed from androids as a precaution from an alleged doomsday. The androids are program to preset phrases and commands. They're mostly just drones for labor or navigation tools.


"Ha. Ha. Ha!" The I.C Head laughed in a cartoon-ish voice. It was sort of cute... in annoying way. The toy itself was shaped similar to a cat's head and was colored pink. In the middle of its face, a monitor could be seen, displaying generated digital expressions with faces.


Since the war began... some of these I.C Heads have become lingering ear deceives for the Zhe'Holhavan, when it comes to manipulation, children are lot easier to influence than adults.

Blazerine eventually shook off the whole confrontation by coming to the realization of where exactly she was. District twenty seven; It’s one of the many shopping areas of Transcendence. Transcendence is a disc- shaped city which dwells high in the skies. In case of emergencies the discs can be detached from its main colon structures for immediate departure. It also has enormous rotating shades that regulate solar rays for energy. Almost every residential home is transparent with see through glass floors, ceilings, interior and exterior walls on every sides. Both in and out, but there are only a few blind spots for facilities and the bedroom.  Let's just say security around here is pretty high. A bit off to the right there are people inside of a clothing store. A couple of them were trying on clothes by standing in front of an android assistant. They're able to reimage clothes onto the customer’s bodies, simply by moderating their body temperatures to make the exact measurements. The imagery itself is a life like holograph that overlaps their current clothes with the desire outfit.

Blazerine really doesn't have the slightest clue how she got back here. Although she finally got back to where she belongs... but why did it feel so wrong? Just the mere thought of it seemed so impulsive. Was it because she truly did not even fit in here? The more she thought about it, the more she realized that... Leon, Fenix, Fauna and Lyrist would be greatly missed. But Haven, HAVEN! Could it be? Could he still be alive?

Blazerine rushed to the transport station to catch a ride on pneumatic vacuum tube that travels from district to district; by launching people in ball like capsules. The capsules are pushed through the tunnel by air until it reaches the passenger's desire location. Then it detaches itself from the current by sliding through an opening on the outside. This prevents traffic or causing any unnecessary accidents. The capsules are stored in individual sections that have control pads. Here is where she types in the coordinates.

When it's accepted, a female generated voice says, "Preparing for departure...." The capsule's plastic steel mixture liquefies an oval opening in the front and a newly form seat in the back. "Please proceed with caution..."

For whatever reason the word caution kept repeating in her ears. She didn't really think much about it, considering the amount of stress she has been under lately.  Hell who wouldn't have gone crazy already at this point? Blazerine shook her head before stepping inside. When she turned around and sat, the opening conceals itself shut by reversing the liquefying process.  During this moment she's too occupied with seat's arms now forming around the front of her chest to securely lock her inside. The sections of the walls disappeared beneath the slits of the platform, which allows the air to impact the capsule, causing it to shoot immediately forward. Everything seemed fine until... she coughed once then another and another! Frightfully she lowers her eyes down to see the arms.... the arms of the seat were choking her!

A voice softly whispers into her ear,


"Part of your soul is missing,


Part of you remains,


Part of you does not."



----



The walls were beginning to enclose as Leon struggles to climb back to the top. If he didn’t get out of here quickly, he’ll end up being crushed to death. Not because of the pit itself, but by his own armor. He groaned a bit when he felt it squeezed even tighter than before. It didn’t feel as bad as the pain shooting straight up his leg, every single time he uses it to maneuver himself up along the wall. Shortly he notices a hand extending down towards him and it wasn’t Fenix, Lyrist, or Blazerine. It was Sinner, but what was he doing here? Don’t tell me he actually… The thought of him killing Sir Emanuel crosses his mind. And accepting his so called father help is the very last thing he would ever want to do. The only fond memories they shared together is when he taught him how to ride his horse. This is the very same man who had left him and his mother for dead. Why was he so concern about his well being now?


“What are you waiting for?” Sinner cried.


 Whatever the reason is… it doesn't matter. Leon knew the others needed his help, so he grabbed a hold of his hand. Once Leon is pulled back to the surface, he looks surpass sinner and sees Sir Emanuel struggling to break Lyrist free. Off to the right, Fenix was seen, wrecking the hell out of the piano. The only person he couldn't find was Blazerine.


"It jumped down that hole over there!" Sinner pointed to the furthest one.


Without thinking, Leon ran straight for the hole, but just inches away from his leap of fate, Sinner tackles him down. The two of them clashed into one another as they fumble across the floor.


"Stay out of this!" Leon desperately cried.


"You're going to throw your life away, just like that!?" Sinner yelled at him.


"I would..." Leon faintly spoken behind his helmet.


"What? What, did you say?" Sinner quite aggressively asked.


Leon tries to focus his wandering thoughts that are now clouding his mind. Did he truly care about Blazerine life or is it all for his sworn duty to become the next headmaster of Norman Church? If he did ever developed these feelings, let alone display them, it'll be a betrayal of the brotherhood. Losing his statues doesn't concern him much, expect when it comes down to putting the lives of his comrades in jeopardy. He would not only be exile, ....he would be a wanted man. And whoever kills him first will be happily rewarded. Hopefully that day will never come, but right now there's hell to be paid.


"Don't tell me...it's already happening, isn't it? I can tell by the look on your face." Sinner said.


Leon arose to his feet to make his demand, "Fenix quit messing around and give Sir Emanuel a hand!" His tone of voice, that stance....just everything about him gave off the sense of someone who is used to being in charge. For whatever reason, giving orders has always come naturally for him.


"If you continue down this road, you know what will become of you." Sinner warns him.


"For once, why don't you make yourself useful? Go find that painting and burn it!" Leon impatiently snapped back.


"What are you going to do?" Sinner asked.


Leon had made up his mind. Whatever happens, happens, he told himself. In this very moment he took a couple steps towards the hole and said, "I'm finishing what I started." Not once did he look back before taking a dive into the abyss. He began to feel lighter while falling deeper into its depths. Slowly he could make out what was happening, shiny bits and pieces began to detach from him. Fragments of steel and iron, brass and copper slowly began to drift apart from him as he fell. Further down, he felt more lighter and exposed. It made him feel a bit scared, the thought of vulnerability without his armor began to circle his mind.  Looking up, he could see more than just fragments now, there were bigger pieces as well. Instinctively he tried grabbing a hold of at least one, but they were already out of reach. The more he kept slipping away, the less he could see them. It wasn't long till they looked like nothing expect tiny sparkling lights throughout the darkness.

Leon head started to awfully ache as the images of his past flashed before his eyes. It felt like his memories are being pried painfully outta his skull, one by one. However it wasn't far from the truth, when drops of white paint surrounds him. The droplets were twisting and turning before mutating into a familiar object, a mirror. Displaying within the now forming glass are some of his most deepest, fondest memories. Most of them consist of the adventures that him and Fenix have had together. There was one in particular that drawn him in, but what does it matter? Surely he would just pass them due to the fact he's still aimlessly falling. Although that's not what ended up happening, all of them somehow kept aligned with him.


A voice whispers these following words,


"You've chosen a noble path..


But yet you still have to face humanity's wrath."


"Belinda we know you're not the one at fault! So stop all this madness!" Leon bellowed.


"Why try to saving someone,


 You do not hold any precious memories of?


 Just look right above. "


He didn't even have to look because he knew she was right. There's no way he could deny how he truly felt deep down. Although most of all, he's still confused about everything.


"Why don't you confess,


This is only for your own self righteousness.


Why don't you let her die and take the necklace?


Fulfill your duty,


And the brotherhood will find you worthy."


"I could never do such a thing!" He cried.


"Save your breath.


She will soon find death,


But not by my hands.


For I've foreseen it in the astral planes."


"Who? Tell me, who it is!" Leon demands to know.


"You already know...


It's someone who is very close."


The only person he could think of was none other than Fenix, but he couldn't bring himself to believe it. Not even for one second, it crosses his mind. There has to be something more to it, something that has been left unsaid. A grunt escapes from his lips once his body finally impacts the bottom of the hole. Quickly he sat up only to watch the tunnel above him dissipate into nothingness. Then the horrifying screams began to fill his ears. He didn't know who it was straight away because her voice was so raspy, almost like it was cracking from severe lack of dehydration or maybe even air. For sure it has to be Blazerine or is he just hoping it is?


When he rises to his feet, he is greeted by looming corridors of mirrors, dangling by long steel chains. The smell of brimstone and smoke was so thick here that it's  too hard to ignore. The slight hints of sulfur would burn a mortal nose if it could survive in such high temperatures.  Though, the heat and barren waste of this place did not bother him. Was it because none of this was actually real? Regardless he made his way... Soon he notices the images reflecting in the glass are truly real when he saw himself carrying Blazerine through the swamp. All of her memories are being shown individually in every single mirror he passes.


Halfway through, most of them started to become rather disturbing. One was so bad, it made him stop dead in his tracks. What exactly was he looking at? All he knew it was sickening, whatever it is.  The circular blade spun and spun, moving closer to the frame of the victim. Just the very sound caused the victim to squirm for freedom, but it was hopeless.  It was hard for him to continue to watch once it begins slicing through the flesh, causing blood to spray everywhere. Some of it even splatters on a couple of the many concoctions of vials.


"Get out of here while you still can!" Blazerine shouts from the end of the corridor. Her obsidian skin shined with sweat from the heat. Her clothes were shredded and torn, beyond recognition. Those red eyes of hers were gleaming back at him.


 The whole demeanor she was giving off, made Leon suddenly cease his approach. The voice matches, but the appearance did not. If anything, she actually resembles Fauna from head to toe. "Blazerine? What's happening to you?" He questionably gasps.


She turned her back to him and said, "Just.... just go!"


"I can't leave you here, you know that!" Leon refused to listen.


"Look what you've done! You never asked me how I would feel about this and you sure as hell never asked her!" Blazerine tearfully cried.  As soon as Leon took his next step,  she screams, "No, stay away... STAY AWAY FROM ME!" Her hands stretched outward toward the ground, in just mere seconds, it cracks and tears about up to three yards. Deep within the creases, the heat rapidly emits, creating a crimson orange liquid. It took only a minute and a half for it to boil over.


-------


"Hurry there's no - " Sinner, sentence was cut off by intense coughing. There's a blast of wind, sending the cutting grains of violet sand directly into his mouth. He jutted his right arm and flailed it around until it made contact with Fenix shoulder. "Where in the hell is this sand coming from?" He asked.

Fenix lost his sight in the unexpected sand storm, but he still had a firm grip of Lyrist's arm. Grunting wildly, while pulling as hard as he could, Elf-boy crumbles out from the depths of the wall. However he did not loosen his tight grip, in hopes of not losing him in the storm, he yanked his unconscious body over his shoulder. With no shelter in sight, there was not much they could do other than move forward, so they wouldn't get buried beneath the sand. "This is becoming a sand dome!" He shouted over the sands and winds, managing to catch some in his throat. It made him stop only briefly to recover from a dry cough.


Up ahead they barely can make out a roughly drawn cluster of ruins; which has hundreds of narrow rocky ledges, outlined in dark purple. Most of them don't look stable enough to trend upon, let alone - no clear direction of where the ledges could possibly lead.


Fenix  knew the only person whose nimble enough to attempt passage, would be Lyrist. He signals Sir Emanuel to come closer. Emanuel immediately scurries over to huddle right up next to him, and he uses his tower shield to brace both of them from the storm.


When Fenix lies Lyrist body right beneath his, it forces their eyes to meet, well at least his did anyway. Lyrist's discolored eyes might be wide open, but he sure as hell wasn't conscious anywhere in there. He's just quietly rambling under his breath about who knows what. As soon as Fenix does lean in to listen.... Sinner blindly bumped into him from behind, making them accidentally kiss.


Fenix is so shocked that he doesn't pull away right then, it took him about five seconds for the gears in his head to start turning.


A spark of life returns to Lyrist's eyes, once the green pigments swirls back into their original place.  He suddenly moaned, "You're terrible at this, aren't you?" A smile crosses his lips before he delightfully laughs.


Fenix jumped back to his feet and screamed at the top of his lungs, "WHAT THE HELL!?" It wasn't long till he started spitting all over the place. He kept at it for awhile. The way he's panicking would make most think he's been forced to drink a lethal poison.


"Wait...did they just - and it woke him up?" Sinner asked.


"Shut up!" Fenix cried.


Slowly Lyrist sat up and got a whiff of the situation. The odor tackling his nose was none other than salt. He knows sand only smells this way if it's somewhere near a body of water. Then he said, "Leon did say that the witch told the children fairytales. Which can only mean Belinda did not come back alone."


"Let me get this straight mate... her imagination is pretty much running wild?" Fenix mentioned after he was done wiping his uncleansed forsaken mouth.


Sir Emanuel gracefully sung despite the thunderous winds.


"I know of this tale,


The tale of a man,


Who steals naughty children from their beds,


By offering sweet breads,


Kneaded with tiny grains of sleepy sand,


Enticing them to take his hand,


The children would always ask,


In a hypnotizing trance,


Where to Mr. Sandman?


He'll simply reply,


Off to dreamland,


To be seen never again."



As soon as the last note trails off, Lyrist's ears perked up to attention and his eyes went to the direction of wherever the newer sound came from. The rumble wasn't too far from behind. Quickly he scrambles to his feet once a large pair of hourglasses arises out of the sand. It didn't actually startle him, but what he saw inside of them did.

From a distance Blazerine could hear a scream. It wasn't a normal scream, this scream sounded feral, wild, and tormented. She opened her eyes and the ringing began to fade. The screaming stopped and then there was silence. Her throat was raw, her wrists were bruised and bloody, and so were her feet. Also she's no longer attached to the chair. In fact she is somewhere else completely  but where exactly? Every so often her eyes squints from the hot sand pouring down onto her head. She began to pull at her restraints, tugging harder each time, it causes her muscles to burn. It felt like every movement she made, causes her pain. It didn't take long for her to notice the leather beginning to fray, giving off the appearance that something might be embedded inside of it. Pulling again, and again, and again, eventually she realizes metal was the true cuffs and the leather was merely the padding. Why couldn't she just have stayed home? Even if it wasn't real...it's still better than here. Maybe she could go back if she slept again. The thought crosses her mind as the sand kept blanketing her body, making her feel warm and secure enough to fall back into a deep slumber.


Lyrist couldn't believe the thoughts he was receiving from Blazerine. "How could you give up now?" He yelled. The sudden outburst made Sinner look oddly at him because it's so random and out of context.


Fenix turned around and asked him, "Is it them?"


"Yes, let's make haste" Lyrist replied.


"No!" Fenix blurted out after planting his hand onto Lyrist shoulder. When he had his full attention, he continued, "You see those ledges over there?" He pointed and said, "If the painting is over there, you're the only one who can reach it!"

Lyrist nodded and took off towards the ledges without saying a single word. While running, a pair of leering ruby eyes appeared in the sky. He tried his best to ignore it. So he could just focus on the task at hand, but then blood soaked lips smiled down upon him and giggled,


"His hair is red as flames,


And he feels no shame.


For all of the lives he has claimed.


And yet,


No one knows his name."


As soon as his feet made contact with the ledge, a creature drops out of the sky and lands right in front of him. He nearly loses his footing from the impact, but still manages to skid to a halt. The hideous creature stood high on its thin legs that resemble a horse.  Two long horns stuck out from his wild red hair, which is a mixture of human hair and black feathers. From what he could tell, it’s still humanoid, but it has a lot of unnatural features, such as the mouth. The mouth was part way human on the left, but on the right, it was more of a protruding bird beak. The mid waist looked normal; expect with no fat, leaving only the naked rib cage and the sun burnt skin that covers the atrocious creature.


The creature chirps, “Tick!”  Then he tilts his head to the left and screeches, “Caaawwwwwwk!”


He furiously  flaps the only functional wing he has embedded in the forearm of his skin. The right arm is covered in feathers, but most of them had been plucked out, leaving the creature not mobile enough for flight.


However whether or not the creature could fly is the least of his worries. The only problem he'll have if it's able to challenge him in speed. Although he couldn't believe his eyes when the creature face splits apart. And some sort of gooey yellow substance leaks out with a mixture of blood. He didn't expect something so digesting could be this fascinating. When the face finally separates, a golden egg could be seen nestled inside. He doesn't really get much of a chance to look after the creature threw its head back. In awe, he then watches the creature fling it's head forward; in order to catapult the egg straight into the air.


Lyrist didn't wait to see what will happen when the egg comes back down. He ended up leaping right off the ledge to land on another that's just right below. Shockingly he looked back in time to see an explosion. Derbies of rocks started tumbling down upon him, but he quickly maneuvers himself to avoid being crushed. Dodging left, right, left then BAM! A much larger piece broke off the ledge further head, upon impact. He couldn't turn back now... There's no other option available. Desperately he reaches the gap and vigorously vaults to the other side. Barely he manages to make it by landing roughly with a somersault.

When Fenix and Sinner approach the hourglasses... Sinner notices Blazerine is the only one who is being restrained. This concerns him enough to mention it, but Fenix is too overly excited to see the others. So he doesn't even pay much attention to what's being said. Plus he's too busy trying to figure out the new getup Leon is wearing. Dark purple robes, which are outline in a golden trim. The hood is shaped like a crescent moon with yellow star - like jewels dangling from the tip, attached by sterling silver chains.

"Listen to me kid! There's something here that is-" Sinner statement cuts off after being startled by Leon's hand bursting through the glass to choke Fenix.


"Leo!" Fenix gasped as he tries to pry his hand away.


"He's very animated for someone who looks dead asleep." Sinner exclaimed.


"S-s-ome h-help here!" Fenix struggled to get the words out.


"Oh right!" Sinner wearily smiles. Then he charges right in and decks Leon across the face, but it doesn't phase him. He madly punches again, and again... however it's no use. "There's no reaction at all!" He cried.


Fenix further comments with, "You're going to have to k-kiss him."



"No, you do it!" Sinner refuses to do such a thing. He didn't want to make Leon more upset at him than he already was.


"I-I c-cant..." Fenix was slowly beginning to pass out from lack of oxygen to the brain.


"You're the one who needs all the practice you can get. Remember when you were younger? I helped you- I dressed up - we locked lips - and..." Sinner argued.


"This isn't the t-time-" Fenix tearfully interrupted with a whine.


Sinner suspects the only way he's going to break up this inhumanly grip of strength is by disrupting his breathing pattern. Perhaps it will be enough to wake him. Right after that thought, he dropped down onto his knees and sucker punched Leon right in the gut. Although his eyes never opened, there was an reaction of the wind being knocked out of him. The hopes of him coming to demises when he vanishes in a wisp of sand.


Fenix collapses to the ground as he tries to catch his breath once again.


 "And why are you just standing there!?" Sinner eyeballed Sir Emmanuel because he's never bothered to lifted a single finger.


Emmanuel placed a hand over his heart and sung,


"How can I interfere with..


Brotherly love,


From a father and a son,


Feeling the shape of each other's tongues."


Emmanuel got caught off guard by Sinner's delivery of a fist squared to his nose that unfortunately hits the right spot to break it with one swing.


The fight would of have gone on longer if it wasn't for Fenix intervending. "Look mates." He said, "Leon is in no condition to be fighting with that injured leg of his. We have to hinder his actions without hurting him.


"How do you expect us to fight without harming him?" Sinner asked.


"You're suppose to-" Emmanuel muffled the words behind his cradling hands, but Sinner is quick to cut him off.

"Do you want another broken nose?" Sinner glared back out of irritation.


Fenix felt confused by the question; however he didn't really ponder much on it because Leon reappeared in the mid air.


--------


Leon felt his insides twist and turn from Blazerine's terrifying screams of horror. It's the first time she has ever expressed herself in this manner in front of him. He wanted to reach out and help her, but the flames kept engulfing him until he sees nothing but just white. Slowly he begins to make out newer details... Then of a three sixty turn. he sees himself facing a figure as time passed he could make out.  It seems to be a Jester of some sort; wearing flamboyant palace outfit that is colorful, but silly as well  due to the scarfs and polka dots of mismatching clothes, along with their colors. Stringy strands of yellow hair poked out the bottom of his dis-portion looking feather hat.

"So, Leon I take it?" The Jester said with a smirk. He walked towards him in a ditty manner that a clown would do. Then he strikes a heroic knight pose while sailing his hand in front of him. It looked as if he was wielding a sword fiercely. "Hero and all that?" He asked.


"Who...." Leon exclaimed with a swift movement to unsheathe his own real sword and held it at the Jester's neck, merely inches away from his throat. "Are you?"


In a flash of a second the Jester was sitting on the sword that Leon had pointed at him. "Mmm. Curious, are we? Well for starters how about some manners, boy. I'm the Sand Man and you're in my realm." He replied.

"Sand Man?" He looked around only to realized he's now in some Arabian palace; decorated with portraits filled with visions... no  moving pictures of other people. Some good, some bad, and some even beyond horrible.

The Sand Man claps and delightfully squeals, "Yes and unfortunately for you. Once you're in my realm; here...." He stood up, still upon the sword Leon wields and leans in closer to finish his sentences, "Are under my control." Then he gestures another pose by putting a hand to his ear to portray he's listening to something.


That's when Leon heard it, screams and cries of his comrades. One was,  "Leon! Snap out of it!" And the other was the sound of flesh cutting with an "Ugh!" Him and this clown had front seats of the show; displaying Leon recklessly trying to kill them in the portraits.


Angrily Leon turned only to find the Sand Man gone, but overhears foot steps behind him, so he swung around and kept up his defensive stance. The Sand Man simply walked back and forth, all the while gazing at him like a lion would at its cornered prey.


"What.... What did you do!?-" Leon demands to know.


He cocks an eyebrow then says, "Hmmmm?"


"-To me!?" Leon screamed at him.


 He cackled and stepped a bit back while throwing his hands up in a spazzed way; sort of like what a person would do if they were shocked or surprised.


"You don't know!?"  He snorted.  "I'll tell you, boy. You've fallen under my control... and only if you defeat me you can "snap" out of it, but out there... I'm weak!"  He annoyingly complained with a disgusted face, which turns into one of pure pleasure.


 He extends both arms out with one hand spread. "But in here; well you could say... I'm a God." Once he happily utter those words, a beautiful flower began to sprout from his hand, almost out of thin air.


Leon was pissed, being controlled like a puppet... and by this clown no less. The Sand Man saw the hate so he mocked him further by crushing the flower into dust, but it was sand, it would be more appropriate since he's, well, the Sand Man after all.


To add even more salt to the wound. He giggled, "You mad, boy? Hm?" He threw his head back and clacked up a storm. "Then I suppose I should tell you another little detail. You've got a time limit. I wonder how much punishment your little friends can take until they decided there's no hope for you and just... kill.. you... off."


Upon that statement, he struck a boxing pose. Then he jab at some fake enemies before signaling to him. "Let's go, boy. You and me. One-on-one! Let's see what this cripple can do!" He finished with a smirk.


Leon made a dash to the clown and... in mere seconds, a jewel encysted dagger appeared in the hand of the Sand Man. The dagger blocked Leon's sword without any effort what so ever. And to further express how easy this truly was. He let's out a long exaggerated yawn in means to taunt him then said, "Too slow!"

Frustrated by the turn of events, Leon pushed forward again while screaming at the top of his lungs. The Sand Man laughed in returned and leaped back to create some distance between them.  When Leon saw a flash of light, his instincts took over with accurate timing. He blocked a dagger the Sand Man seemed to have thrown when he had leaped back. When did he get two of them? Throwing all his thoughts out the window, Leon charges in with his sword in an arc of quick motion. It was no use, once again it was blocked by his other dagger.


In return, he struck a blow at Leon and unexpectedly lands an upper cut, "Pow!" He sneered once his fist met his face.


Leon staggered a bit in result of the hit, but it wasn't going to waver his determination to kill him. Clenching his teeth, he swung the butt of his sword for the Sand Man's side, which sends that clown staggering back as well.


Momentary the Sand Man coughed, however it didn't last long... before time seemed to have stop. Then he broke out with a laugh, "Hahahahaha! It's been forever since someone made me this excited! Oh, ke, he, he, he! How fun, how fun, indeed!"


Leon watched  the dagger he held in his hand turned into a sword. With just a single swipe, sand appeared from nowhere... and like a boy swept by the waves of the ocean. Leon was swept  by the sand he created. After a moment, he planted his feet firmly, and held his sword in front of him, maintaining his feet, regardless of the pain sprouting up from his injury. He kept his feet tanked, along with the sword to provide a shield somewhat, but for how long? That's when he caught a shine from his right eye; it was a dagger! Leon reached for it, and took a blast of sand in his face. It was worth it because he throws the dagger back in the direction which it had came. Both of them were surprised when it hits the clown's rump. It stuck out like a nail not  completely pounded yet into a plank.


"Youch!" He cried before yanking the dagger out. He examined the flesh wound closely as it begins to miraculously heal. "That's gonna leave a mark!" He mockingly laughed at Leon, all the while smirking. Then he threw the dagger back at twice the speed and it grazed Leon shoulder, spilling blood.

 Leon coursed with a new found anger... Kinitic energy surges throughout his body, building rapidly to create the strength he needed to launch himself at the Sand Man. Once again he blocked with his dagger, Leon knew the routine. So he pushed his sword down, causing the Sand Man's hand to go down as well. When Leon pushed, he freed his own hand from the blade's handle... He took this opportunity to elbowed the Sand Man dead center in the face. But that stumbling foolish clown followed back up by throwing something invisible to the naked eye.



Whatever it was... Leon realized it was some sort compass, a guide if you will; to him. During this sequence of fighting that took place. He didn't notice all of the sand that had gathered around the Sand Man. How did he not? Maybe he was too focused on landing hits than paying attention to his surroundings. Suddenly the sand rushed him like a cobra striking a mouse, and sadly he's the mouse. Leon didn't waste a second and scurried about!


"What's wrong boy!? Don't like the sand!?" The Sand Man screamed as Leon is chased around the palace by his sand.

Leon cursed, knowing he wouldn't be able to keep running for long. Just shortly an idea crosses his mind. Redirecting himself, he barrels straight at the Clown, only instead of ramming head on. He managed to jump over him and as he did that. The Sand Man temporarily forgets about the sand while watching. Then he's surprised by a swoosh of sand, which slams him several feet back away from Leon.

Leon followed with an upward swing as he reached the recovering Clown; who does not have enough time to block. He receives the blow to his shoulder blade. It wounded him enough that he actually screamed out in pain, "Ahhh!" cried the wounded so called 'God' as he took a few steps back... blood drizzled down his arm.


"No, no, NO! I am God and you surely aren't one of his disciples!"  He bellowed while extending his hands in front of Leon.


And In moments Leon finds himself surrounded by orbs of sand. A single gesture of the mad Clown finger made the orbs formed deadly spikes. Leon eyes widen when they came flying right at him. He began striking the flying sand spikes, but it was weird he thought. It's heavy like striking iron itself. Then he felt it.. one grazed his leg and another punctured his right thigh. "Ah" He said as he knelt, but he still managed to destroy the rest to avoid being wounded any further.


That Clown started to laugh manically, and what Leon now sees, makes him more anxious than before. A giant serpent rises out from behind the Sand Man, made entirely out of sand. It's forked tongue peeked out a few times like any snake would. Next the mouth opened, showing it's fangs right before striking. It took only seconds for Leon to be swallowed completely whole. He gasped, but then sealed his mouth tight since it's nothing but sand. No air creep into him for the longest of time. For a moment he lost hope and just waited for death to crept to him slowly... letting it take him in...


The Sand Man let out a sigh of relief once he sensed Leon's spirit and life is diminishing inside the serpent


Out of nowhere, the faces of his comrades flashes before Leon's eyes.  It jolted him with enough energy to wake up! This isn't how he's going to let it end! To his surprised he actually never did let go of his weapon. So he made the biggest swing of his life, that even the Clown sensed.

"Impossible!" The Sand Man declared when Leon fell out of the shrieking wounded serpent.

Leon stood with his gaze fixed on the Clown. This is when he remembers shortly about a bed time story. It was read to him at a very young age. About the story of a Sand Man who kidnaps naughty children from their beds and bring them back to his palace. This is where he would dissembled their bodies and use them for juggling performances. Although it didn't make much sense to him. Why perform without an audience? He guesses fairy tales aren't really suppose to be logical anyway. Most stories are just scare tactics to keep children morally intact.


"No...no...NO! This isn't how the story goes!" The Sand Man shook his head. He rocked back and forth while rambling on to himself.

Leon immediately moved within range of the Sand Man then swung with all his might at his face. Steel met flesh as the Clown was knocked back... sand and his own teeth spilled from his mouth. However Leon didn't stop there, he swung again, each swing that landed was like thunder. His entire view lit up to seeing his friends. It seemed the time has come for the mad Sand Man to finally meet his end. With a swift motion, he grabbed the dazed Clown's own dagger and thrust it into his heart.


"Ahhhh!" The defeated Sand Man let's out a cry as an white light engulfed him, along with his body turning into nothing but bone and sand.


Leon blinked and before he knew it, he's back in the real world, exhausted, but alive.


© Tiffany Ann Adkins 2015 - 2019