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Chapter #18 The Beast from Underneath

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As the ground quakes and the soil underneath breaks, the massive creature which laid dormant and feeding off the misery and death of those foolish enough the enter the forest of darkness awakens! Can our heroes survive this threat? Or death inevitable?

Age Rating:

Chapter 1

King Dorian sat on his throne hundreds of miles away from the forest of darkness and tried formulating a strategy to promote relations with the anthropomorphs.

“Perhaps another meeting?” he wondered.

If Raziel and Christian return from their quest successfully then maybe he could invite Xion back to celebrate their good fortune and help to start turning things back around in his favor once again.

The king held his chalice and took a sip of the royal family’s rare and select wine. Dorian placed the glass down and noticed the wine vibrating while in the chalice. It struck the king as odd, he tilted his head and listened to try and hear anything peculiar. Dorian felt a slight vibration from his feet as they rest on the floor.

“What is this?” he asked quietly.

One of the soldiers left in charge during the grand duke and general’s absence ran into king Dorian’s chamber without warning.

“Your majesty!” the soldier spouted barging in.

“What is the meaning of this!? Announce yourself at the door first before entering my chambers, do you hear me?” Dorian scolded.

“You have my apologizes sir, but there isn’t time for that now.” the soldier warned.

“What are you talking about?” the king wondered.

“Please, come quickly.” the soldier pleaded.

The king slowly stood from his throne, held onto his scepter, and followed the soldier outside to the roof of the castle. The royal king was stunned at the sightings. Off in the far distance, located at the forest of darkness, large building sized tentacles flung trees and ground asunder. The massive tentacles were very dark and bore huge spikes, an enormous monster of sorts was to soon appear for certain.

“That’s…in the forest of darkness?” Dorian asked worrying about his son.

“Yes, your majesty.” the soldier answered.

Many terrible ideas poured into the king’s mind, but above all else he worried about the safety of his son.

Inside the forest of darkness the group of heroes and seven chosen struggled to maintain their balance. All were startled and held in amazement as a mountainous dark tentacle burst through the cracks in the ground and shot upward into the sky.

“Quick! Take it down before it has a chance!” the general shouted and pointed his gun at the towering limb.

Grechov and his nervous soldiers took aim and began firing at the easy target.

“Wait, save your ammunition.” Raziel warned.

“I think tha general’s got the right idea!” Kaz yelled running towards the massive object.

He leapt in the air and flew several feet before landing his blade into the flesh of the giant mysterious beast. Lightning struck down and blast a gaping hole in the mammoth monster below.

Kaz jumped back and looked at his work pleased, “Now that’s what I’m talk’n about.” he said with a smirk.

Rufus stood near Seth and unwrapped his sword, catching the reflection of his black blade in his huge sword, which made Rufus’ sword transform into a black sword also. The large teen was scared of the looming threat, but witnessed the damaged dealt by Kaz’s sword and was compelled to do the same. He charged forward with his sword angled for a strike against the dark limb.

Seth noticed that Rufus’ sword was black just as his own and recalled the fact that he was incapable of delivering a killing blow with his sword. Earlier among the bolts of lightning Seth remembered seeing Rufus call forth the electricity such as Kaz did, was his sword actual ability to copy another’s? In that case, him running against the towering tentacle would serve no purpose, but rather place him directly in harm’s way.

“Rufus, wait! Your sword has changed!” Seth tried warning.

The gutsy teen ran by and slashed the dark appendage with his sword without any effect. Rufus noticed the ineffective attack and stopped to look at his sword.

“Wha? It’s all black! Wha happen?” he asked looking at the group.

“Hey guy, look out!” Wade warned loudly motioning to grab Rufus away.

The big teen looked behind himself and widened his vision, the top of the tentacle swooped down and swept the big guy off his feet and carried him through the air. Rufus dropped his huge black sword which stabbed perfectly into the ground. Cain watched from a wavering tree to take note of the monster’s methods of attack.

“Get’em down!” Grechov ordered as the soldiers opened fire at the base of the limb. Once again, the creature’s limbs were riddled with bullets as Rufus was hurled thirty feet away while fifty feet in the air. Rufus was terrified knowing this was sure to kill him. He remembered his grandfather while flying through the air and regret him hearing of his grandson’s death.

The orange haired teen slammed into a tree and fell to the ground. Christian witnessed the horrible sight and teared up knowing one of his new friends had just been killed.

The mammoth tentacle spasmed in pain the instant Rufus hit the tree. To everyone’s surprise, including Rufus, the big teen stood up unscathed. For a moment he pondered if he was dead, then an enormous smile popped on Rufus’ face once he realized he was still alive.

“WHOA! Yeah!” Rufus laughed hopping up and down excitedly.

“How?” Seth asked then looked at both his and Rufus’ black swords, “Is that my sword’s ability? Immunity to injury, death?”

Raziel was confused to see the teen alive let alone standing and jumping about happily. The grand duke continued standing before Christian and Carmon for protection while watching Vincent evade giant tentacle strikes and Kaz blasting opposing limbs.

Wraith, felt more confident in his sword now, reared back his arm and struck at an appendage from a far. The bladeless sword sliced the tentacle splitting it in two. The exposed severed limb had two tentacles sprout out from the open wound replacing that which was lost.

“Oh great, it’s one of THOSE creatures.” Raziel said in a sarcastic tone.

The grand duke has faced many monsters in the past, but one of his most hated monsters to kill where the kinds of creatures that could replace limbs with multiple appendages in exchange.

From underneath the grand duke and two young teens a tentacle burst from out the ground and launched Carmon and the grand duke off their feet and to the side while grabbing hold of the prince.

“Carmon!” Raziel called out worrying for his daughter’s safety.

“Dad!” she yelled pointing up at Christian who was suspended in the air.

The grand duke directed his attention to Christian and his current danger.

“Christian! Don’t panic.” he instructed and hurried to his feet.

“I’m panicking!” the young prince screamed.

The grand duke ran over and grabbed hold of the massive tentacle which held the prince and without resistance easily ripped the appendage from the main body underneath the ground. The six thousand pound body part was held effortlessly in the arms of the grand duke with the prince holding on for dear life. Two more tentacles burst through the gaping wound while Raziel carefully laid down the removed limb as to not crush the prince. Christian ran over to the grand duke and hugged him tightly with tears in his eyes. The prince was terrified and only felt safest when around the grand duke.

After having the limb completely removed from its body the creature under the ground became more upset and violent. The ground began to quake more with more limbs bursting through the ground around them.

“We’re like sitting ducks here!” general Grechov claimed.

The grand duke realized this creature would be a tough kill and everyone was in danger and at the mercy of the creature below, especially Christian and his daughter. The fog began to clear up with more damage being done to the forest and the illusionary magic of the darkness started to clear up.

Raziel looked around, “There! Everyone load up into the terrain dosser!” he ordered.

All started running to the nearest terrain dosser. Rufus ran as fast as he could, but made certain to retrieve his lost sword first. General Grechov was closest and reached the vehicle first, he opened the door and motioned for everyone to enter. Lieutenant Brookes climbed up the entrance ladder after a few soldiers.

“Lieutenant, start the engines and be prepared to haul ass!” the general ordered.

Brookes nodded her head and hurried behind the driver’s seat. More dark limbs exploded from the ground with deadly force while they ran to their getaway. Seth arrived at the ladder, but instead of climbing up he waited at the bottom for others to go ahead of him. Vincent hurried over, managing to leap over fissures in the ground and dodging swinging spiked limbs.

Wraith climbed the entrance ladder under Rufus, “You better not fall.” Wraith warned.

“Is that a fat joke?!” Rufus inquired while looking down at Wraith.

“No, I seriously don’t want your big butt falling on me.” he answered rudely.

“MOVE, let’s move, let’s move!” Grechov ordered from the top of the ladder.

Vincent grabbed hold of the ladder and quickly started climbing. Raziel, Carmon, and Christian finally reached the bottom of the ladder. Carmon started climbing behind Vincent and noticed Raziel standing on the ground and looking back.

“Dad, come on!” Carmon said.

The grand duke looked at his young daughter and she knew what he was planning by the look in his eyes.

“No, dad! No.” Carmon warned, “Don’t even think about it.”

“Somebody needs to stay and hold this thing back.” Raziel explained in a calm voice.

Seth and Wade both looked at each other curiously, but then saw the sincerity in his eyes and realized the selfless act he was prepared to make.

Wade stood beside the grand duke, “Are you sure that’s a good idea?”

“No, but so far I haven’t felt any opposition while in this armor and was able to overpower it so I figured I’d try and give the rest of you a running start.” Raziel explained.

Christian tried pulling the grand duke’s arm, but he was immovable, “Come on, it’s too big Raziel. Let’s go, we can think of somethin’ else.” Christian pleaded.

“I need to keep my promise and keep you safe and the only way for me to do that is to stay and fight.” Raziel stated.

“No, come with me! It’s an order, let’s go! Come on!” Christian ordered still trying to pull the grand duke to climb the ladder.

Raziel kneeled in front of the young prince and looked him in the eyes, Christian stopped trying to tug the hero along and stopped to look at him.

“Christian, don’t you think of me as a hero?” Raziel asked.

“Yeah.” The prince answered.

“And what does a hero do?” the grand duke asked.

“He saves people.” Christian replied.

“And that’s the difference in being a great adventurer and being a hero. At some point in time, every great adventurer is thrown into a situation and given a chance to perform a true act of altruism, it’s the choices you make at that point which will determine if you’re truly a hero.” he stated staring the young prince in the eyes.

Carmon started climbing down but time was running out fast, Raziel motioned for Seth with the nod of his head. Seth understood and nodded back at the grand duke, he then climbed up the ladder and stopped Carmon from climbing down. Vincent watched her try to move around the detective and watched Seth separate yet another child from their parent. The orphan looked away and for a split second and imagined the moment the detective took him away from his parents. The silver haired teen climbed inside with Seth and Carmon behind him, the two swordsmen locked eyes for but a mere second and continued on with Carmon struggling to break free of the detective’s grip, cursing at Seth and calling out for her father the entire time.

Christian started climbing and stopped half way to look back down at Raziel with Wade still beside him and Kaz behind him.

“Be brave.” Raziel said.

The prince was emotional, but turned away and climbed up the ladder as everyone else and entered the terrain dosser.

“You’re really jus gonna stay here and try ta fight this thing all on your own?” Wade asked.

Raziel nodded his head to answer the spikey haired entertainer, but Kaz decided to vocalize his answer to Wade’s question.

“Nope.” Kaz replied.

The grand duke and Wade both turned to look at Kaz. The strong man threw his sword over his shoulder and stood confidently.

“Cause I’m not run’n either.” he informed.

Wade was a bit surprised that Kaz wasn’t struck by lightning at that instant, perhaps they were capable of controlling the effects of their swords then?

“Are you sure about this?” Raziel asked.

“Hell yeah, we’re not gonna let a little thing like this run us scared.” Kaz replied throwing his arm around Wade’s neck, “Am I right?”

“We’re, not? We?” Wade asked to clarify that he was not included in Kaz’s statement.

“Raziel!?” general Grechov yelled for permission to proceed.

“It looks like you’re ready to go, now hurry!” the grand duke instructed.

“Good luck.” Grechov wished.

The general gave the grand duke and two remaining swordsmen a thumbs-up and closed the entrance door fast. Grechov quickly motioned for Brookes to start driving and without hesitation the massive vehicle made tracks. The terrain dosser could be seen off in the distance since the darkness of the forest had faded away due to the arrival of the unknown beast from below.

Wade was speechless and reached outward for the terrain dosser like he was trying to grab it despite the distance already between them. A small tear formulated in his eye, he knew he was screwed. He figured he was certain to die and be crushed or eaten alive in the most gruesome manner possible.

“Hey, ya think if we called’em they would swing back around and pick me up?” Wade asked hopefully.

Raziel laughed and patted Wade on the back slightly since he was uncertain of his own strength, “Always a kidder, huh?” he smiled. “Raziel looked at both Wade and Kaz, “You two really surprised me though, you guys must really have what it takes.” He complimented and walked away to enter battle.

Kaz looked at Wade, “We got this.” he said without a shadow of doubt in his voice.

Wade was left standing alone and watched the two walking towards the uprooting tentacles, “I’m boned. I’m gonna die cause these two, they’ve killed me.” he said in a state of obliviousness.

Meanwhile the terrain dosser was barreling through the forest at high speed. Everyone inside sat in a seat, stood against the side, or in the back near storage and held on tightly to anything close for the bumpy ride. General Grechov stood behind lieutenant Brookes while she steered the machine and held on tightly to the back of her head rest.

“Turn, turn, turn!” Grechov warned noticing a massive falling tree ahead.

Brookes averted the falling obstacle and maneuvered around more trees. Cracks in the ground began chasing after them and large veiny parts of the mysterious creature began to emerge ahead of them.

“Look out for those fissures! Watch out! Don’t hit that thing!” Grechov yelled out to Brookes building unneeded stress on the already life threatening situation.

Brookes was fed up with Grechov’s startling outbursts and glared back at him from the corner of her eyes. The skilled lieutenant zig-zagged through large trees which caused the general to loosen his grip and stumble to the floor, after doing so Brookes smirked and brought her attention back to the rescue at hand.

“Hey where’s Wade?” Rufus asked while shaking about.

“He stayed behind.” Seth answered against the side of the vehicle.

Carmon glared at Seth out of hatred for keeping her from her father.

“He’s braver than I thought.” Rufus replied.

“Or stupid.” Vincent added while swaying in his seat.

Raziel charged in and ripped apart limbs from the creature’s body that were a hundred times his own size. After being ripped apart the exposed wound burst into five different tentacles and wrapped around the grand duke’s limbs, which proved useless against restraining him. The multi ton tentacles with the capability to crush entire buildings and cripple mountains were as powerful against the grand duke as five single hair follicles. Without effort he grabbed the extra appendages and removed them from the base at which they were all connected.

Kaz sliced and electrocuted appearing limbs from the ground and tried to prevent the creature from gaining more chances for attack. The broad sword left gaping wounds, but the electricity that shocked the creature left massive exposed tissue. Kaz stepped back as the tentacle began bulging and pulsating until eventually seven new tentacles burst through and flung around wildly.

Wade stayed back nervously with his icy sword withdrawn. Large spiked appendages lunged after the young entertainer. His eyes widened as he stepped back and braced himself for battle. Once the tentacles were close enough to inflict injury Wade swung his sword and created massive puddles of water.

“Maybe this won’t be so bad, huh?” he said feeling more confident in himself.

A sinister laugh was heard from off in the distance. Raziel, Wade, and Kaz looked forward and saw the mysterious demon standing amongst the chaos.

“Hmm, hmm, hmm.” he laughed, “Believe in me, everything gets worse from here.” he said with a grin.

“Agh, you’re back again?! Who are you?” Raziel asked loudly.

“Who I am is irrelevant at this point, wouldn’t you agree?” the demon questioned.

“Well, I’m Raziel, the Grand Duke of Valestone.” Raziel called out.

The carefree demon was not concerned, “It makes no difference who you are.”

“No, maybe not, but I at least wanted you to know who’s about to beat your ass!” Raziel promised and started making his way after the distant enemy.

The ground began to quake more violently and surrounding trees fell over nearly crushing the trio. The tree Cain was perched in tumbled to the ground forcing him to dart out and onto the ground. His cape fluttered behind him as he withdrew his white blade and readied to attack. Wade needed to jump to the side to prevent from being crushed by a close tree while Raziel stood in place and allowed a tree to fall against his forearm. The two thousand pound tree instantly stopped against the grand duke’s forearm and didn’t budge him in the slightest. He brushed it off to his side and watched the up-churning earth bulge and crumble. The creature began to reveal itself.

“Hey it’s…,” Kaz yelled out drawing attention to Cain, but stopped upon the sight of the appearing monster.

In the distance a mountainous sized venus fly trap mouth with horrible jagged teeth obliterated the earth from underneath the mysterious demon and emerged from below. The foe was eaten and swallowed whole in a single bite. Underneath the massive jaw came forth disgusting, lumpy, pulsating, lobes of fatty flesh with spikes and eyes placed about. The creature continued growing higher and higher reaching the clouds above. The gelatinous creature occupied acres upon acres of land in what used to be a thick forest.

“Looks like he wasn’t kidding when he said it got worse from here, at least for him anyways.” Wade remarked.

The creature had captured its prey in its eyes and reached outward with its tentacles to ensnare its remaining enemy’s.

“Oh crap, dude!” Rufus said quickly.

He drew everyone’s attention to the creature that was visible through the side windows.

“Oh my God, Raziel.” Christian worried.

“Dad.” Carmon whined under her breath.

Grechov and Brookes looked at the monster in their rear view mirrors, however, the general reverted his eyes back onto the path ahead and noticed the danger coming forth.

“Brookes!” he yelled out getting her attention to the fallen trees blocking their path.

Everyone was startled by the general’s outburst and looked ahead noticing the threat as well. Wraith in the blink of an eye swung his sword directed at the trees before them and cut them into multiple bits which the terrain dosser easily drove through. The massive chunks left physical damage to the vehicle no doubt, but it was the least of anyone’s worries. General Grechov looked back at Wraith and realized he was the one responsible for the slicing of the fallen trees.

“Not bad kid.” Grechov complimented.

Wraith smiled and held tightly to the seats he stood between to maintain his balance all while keeping his sword close and ready for any more surprises.

Wade, Kaz, and Cain stood prepared for danger with their swords drawn and ready to strike, Raziel on the other hand had no weapon so he lifted the two thousand pound tree beside him as if it were weightless and readied it as a club.

“RRAAHHHH!!!!!!” Raziel yelled and charged towards the mountainous creature.

The grand duke slammed the massive tree against the limb of the monster and smashed it apart leaving only that which was in his grip. The skyscraper sized tentacle he had attacked had lifted and swooped around at full force to fling the armored hero yet he remained in place, causing it to inflict pain upon itself as it slammed against an unmovable object. Raziel grabbed the flesh of the appendage and punched a hole right through it, then pulled and amputated the limb.

Raziel then tightened his grip and easily threw the severed limb miles into the air and slammed it against the body of the creature.

“That’s the only way, we’re just wasting time otherwise.” Raziel stated.

Wade was confused and his face made that obvious, “Huh? What’s tha way?” he asked.

“The main body, I’m sure if we can somehow take out the main body, we can kill it. We’re just wasting time against these arms, they’ll just keep coming.” the grand duke explained.

“You sure bout that?” Wade asked preferring to keep his distance from the great beast.

The three looked at Cain, who twitched his hand and darted directly towards the monster. They watched as a massive tentacle swopped in to crush him. The skilled assassin in turn leapt high into the air and actually landed on the pulsating appendage. He ran swiftly while slicing against the thick flesh of the monster. Cain noticed the exterior of the creature was more durable than what the grand duke made it appear.

“He’s got the right idea.” Raziel exclaimed.

Raziel for a second had forgotten about the regenerative powers of the monster and remained standing at its gaping bloody wound. Seven new tentacles exploded through the flesh of the amputated body part and rather than trying to push the grand duke away the monster finally figured out to use its massive girth to its advantage and instead lifted the grand duke from off the ground then tossed him through the forest. Kaz and Wade watched as Raziel was hurled through the air and snapped apart sturdy trees. Raziel stood back on his feet and was completely immune, feeling no pain and taking no injury. Raziel charged back to the battle field as fast as he could, even still the grand duke had not succumbed to any form of fatigue.

“Alright, let’s do this thing!” Kaz stated pumping himself up.

The burly man hoisted his broad sword and ran after the creature. He quickly stopped and jumped to the side to dodge an attack after a limb smashed the ground beside him. He stabbed the flesh and struck the limb with his lightning. Kaz continued striking the limb to create as much severe damage as possible.

“Oh, man.” Wade sighed wishing he was anywhere else rather than standing before a mountain determined to kill him.

He took a deep breath and held his blade firmly. He began running at the monster until he tripped over a crumbling fissure. He slammed his chest against the side and braced his arms against the side as not to fall in. He was scared and slowly turned his head to look below, seeing nothing but darkness underneath him. He started to sweat and wondered about stabbing the sword into the ground for support, but wouldn’t it rather transform the portion of ground into water and send him to his death?

He recalled earlier when Kaz threw his sword over his shoulder without being struck by lightning, whether he understood what he was doing or not he did in fact not use the ability of his sword at that point. He was nervous and wondered if he too could cancel out the ability of his sword if he chose. Wade’s grip and the ground itself on the side of the fissure were giving way, time was running out to think things through.

“Oh baby, please. Please baby, baby please.” Wade grind his teeth and muttered.

The entertainer reached forward and stabbed the ground with his frozen sword, to his answered prayers the ground was not transformed to water. Wade chose to quickly scramble out of the crack and back on the ground. He kneeled beside his sword to catch his breath, but noticed everything around him growing darker. He looked up to see a tentacle of the monster rushing down to squish him.

Before Wade could pull his blade from the ground and stab the limb the grand duke jumped in from behind and braced the blow, preventing it completely.

“Thought you could use some help.” he chimed in.

“Thanks.” Wade replied thankfully.

The water swordsman pulled the blade from the ground at which point it immediately coated itself in a thick layer of ice once again.

“I’ll take it from here.” he stated and thrust his cold steel into the appendage forcing the entire limb to burst into water.

Water rushed over them from overhead and soaked Wade’s entire body. Raziel was amazed, he was unaware that Wade’s sword had such potential.

“You did that? With your sword?” the grand duke questioned.

“Yeah, it turns whatever I cut into water, unless I don’t want it to, I guess.” Wade explained.

Raziel looked at the creature’s main body and saw that the entire tentacle was transformed into water all the way up to the part of the body it was connected.

“I have an idea.” Raziel offered.

“Hey, look at that.” Wade replied dumbfounded and taking notice that all of the water that poured onto the grand duke had washed completely away.

The grand duke’s hair, skin, armor, and clothing were all unaffected by the water and were left completely dry. Not a single drop of water clung to the grand duke or his armor. Wade on the other hand was drenching wet from head to toe.

The ground started to shatter and collapse. Apparently, the giant creature was the entire support structure of the forest of darkness and with it leaving its domain the forest has begun to collapse.

Cain was moving at such blinding speed, he had struck the beast with his sword so many times that at his current rate of speed he was virtually untouchable. Due to the effect of his sword the cut tentacles were moving at reduced speeds, depending on how many times Cain had attacked those particular tentacles. He had already reached the main body to cut and stab. He jumped from squishy lump of gelatinous fat to the next, cutting veins, removing smaller appendages, and stabbing all eyes he came across.

Cain noticed new tentacles emerging from the fatty flesh to strike at him. The effort was wasted however, the assassin was too quick. By the time the creature had time to recognize he was standing on its body and attack, he had already moved. As the masked murderer ran and jumped about, he saw a protruding pulsating extension of skin unlike before. He stopped to witness the new danger.

Tan colored spikes stabbed through the thick dark skin of the massive creature and ripped a large hole in the side of its body. The unknown green eyed demon emerged and began levitating away from the fresh wound. Cain glared intensely at the demon from behind his mask and witnessed his fanged chest swallowing yet another foreign object. The assassin was awakened to the fact that the demon had wanted to have been eaten so he could enter the body of the large monster and remove something from inside, but what?

Cain jumped away from the body of the beast and lunged at the cloaked demon. He managed to gain enough height to nearly slice the cloaked demon’s entire left arm off, causing a great deal of blood to spray from his wound. Since Cain was moving so quickly the reaction time of the demon was not quick enough to dodge nor notice the incoming attack, but he did realize he had been injured after Cain’s sword successfully sliced through the side of the demon’s arm. The cloaked evil witnessed the assassin fall gracefully and land perfectly to avoid injury.

“Interesting…” the demon replied in response while looking at his bleeding arm and taking note of the effect of the masked man’s sword, “. . . my movement seems to have been impaired.”

Cain remained looking upward at the mysterious demon which didn’t seem to mind the serious injury and witnessed it escape.

Raziel charged through the sporadic tentacles that flailed about wildly. The grand duke helped support Wade, who was sitting against the grand duke’s back with his arm extended and changing all limbs close by to water. The gushing streams of water didn’t faze the grand duke at all and as it just so happen, most of the water poured into the gapping fissures.

“Hey look, I thought he was dead!” Wade shouted behind the grand duke.

Raziel looked up and saw the open chest of the demon seal up and swallow something large, just like when he absorbed the quirm eyes. Raziel angrily watched the demon hover away from the fight and disappear into the dark gray clouds that loomed overhead.

“Forget’em, we’ll get him later.” Raziel stated, “We’ve got bigger things to worry about than him.” he said looking directly at the forest monster.

Kaz watched the grand duke and Wade charging at the main body, “What’re they do’n?” he wondered.

Cain saw the grand duke approach the main body and jump several feet into the air and landed hard on the surface of the monster’s body. The grand duke made attempts to land as gently as he could to prevent from jumping inside the fatty body of the monster. The assassin saw tentacles reach around to strike against the two from behind. To their surprise Cain jumped in and struck the tentacles causing them to stop instantly, unknowingly to them however, Cain actually struck the large limbs over two hundred and seventy five times in that second.

Cain assisted in their plot only for the sheer fact that it appeared to be the only means of escape. Raziel jumped through one of the limbs that provided itself as an obstacle. He emerged perfectly fine, Wade on the other hand was covered by the creatures bloody and a sticky goop.

“Sorry, I thought you had that one.” Raziel explained.

“Yeeeaaaahhh.” Wade replied, disgusted by the experience.

The spikey haired man lowered his swimming goggles incase the situation repeated itself.

Kaz watched as the grand duke and Cain reached the vicious maw of the mountainous beast.

“I’m starting to seriously have major doubts about your great idea here!” Wade warned.

“It’s now or never!” the grand duke claimed.

Cain struck about the massive jaw while the grand duke jumped high and latched onto the sharp tips of two humongous teeth from each side of the monster’s mouth.

“NOW WADE, HURRY!” the grand duke yelled.

An unbelievable nervousness formulated in the pit of the entertainer’s gut. He looked down inside the mouth of the beast and saw multiple rows of sharp jagged teeth and an enormous tongue that lashed about wildly.

“Maybe if we just apologized?!” Wade pleaded for another route.

At that time the monster pried its mouth open from the grand duke’s grip, forcing one of its teeth to be yanked out of its own mouth and still in the hand of Raziel. Wade lost his balance and plummeted into the mouth of the monster head first.

“Whhooooa, SSSHHHHHIIIIIIIIIII……….,” Wade yelled falling into its mouth.

Raziel watched the man falling inside, “NOW WADE!” he called out.

The aquatic swordsman extended his sword and dove towards the monster’s tongue, once the creature’s tongue was close enough Wade stabbed the side of it and transformed it instantly into water. The monster was stunned by the sudden occurrence and gagged on the water inside its throat. Once Wade was deep enough, he began cutting the surrounding insides of the mountainous monster and suddenly turning it into a huge body of water.

Kaz’s eyes widened, he was stunned to witness the huge beast disappear and be replaced by water instantaneously, but things had become worse since the support structure of the ‘had been’ forest of darkness was removed. Kaz, including all of the earth that rest below their feet before, now sank to the bottom of a newly created lake.

Wade had dove into the plummeting stream of water to aid in softening his landing while Cain free fell and grabbed the sides of his cape to glide away. Raziel, however, fell from the highest heights while still holding the removed tooth from the massive beast.

The terrain dosser had stopped outside the outskirts of the ‘had been’ forest. Everyone had emptied outside the vehicle and saw the creature instantly transform into water. All of the surrounding earth, remaining trees, abandoned terrain dossers, and family and friends were left to sink to the bottom. They all watched in amazement while others watched in horror.

Wade splashed inside the falling water and was tossed about, luckily he had gained a large enough breath to reach the top of the surface. A large mass of ground threatened to crush the swordsman, but was created into more water by the aid of his sword. Once his head was out of the water it seemed like rain, but he knew that was not the case.

Wade looked up and saw the grand duke create a massive splash against the surface of the water in the distance and instantly sink to the dark depths of the lake. The grand duke sank to the bottom reaching outward for aid of any kind. The armor provided no hesitation or friction with the water which forced him to sink into the darkness faster. The grand duke knew it would be only a matter of time until his single breath would expire, he was swallowed by the darkness below hoping only that everyone was safe and hoping his daughter understood how much he loved her.

“RAZIEL!” Wade yelled and tried to quickly swim to his aid.

Once he reached what he had perceived to be the grand duke’s location he tried swimming deep and looking around, but the depth of the lake was too great and impossible to see anything below. He kept coming back up for air and frantically looking about the water.

“RAZIEL! RAZ…,” he stopped yelling to gasp for more air, “RAZIEL!”

Kaz swam over to Wade with his sword sheathed and strapped around his torso, the strong man had noticed Raziel was not present and understood why Wade was calling out for him.

He approached Wade in the water, “HEY! HEY!” he yelled gaining his attention. “He’s gone. He’s been under too long now. He’s dead.”

Wade closed his eyes and endured this horrific pain. He looked ready to cry, but shed no tears.

“AAUGGGHHHH! AGH!” Wade yelled loudly out of the loss and frustration.

Thirty minutes after the battle and loss of the grand duke, Wade and Kaz were still swimming towards land. Vailstone military copters flew over the terrain dosser on land, at which point general Grechov ordered them to canvass the surface of the water for any and all survivors.

“Did ya turn the whole planet into water ’er what?” Kaz complained.

Wade wasn’t in any kind of joking mood and was growing more tired by the minute. Soon a helicopter began hovering overhead and lowered to retrieve them. They each grabbed hold of the dangling ladder and exhaustedly climbed into the helicopter.

“Tha general said tha grand duke was still out here?” a random soldier asked from inside the helicopter.

There was a silent moment of shame before answering the soldier’s question. “He didn’t make it.” Wade painfully admitted and lowered his head.

Kaz looked off to the side and away from everyone else, just staring at the surface of the water as they flew over it.

Once the Vailstone helicopter had landed Wade and Kaz were met up by paramedics to look after their well-being. Wade and Kaz were approached by the group from earlier with anticipation.

Christian led the pack with general Grechov not far behind him.

“Where is he? Where’s Raziel?” Christian asked with a hopeful spirit.

Wade looked at the prince with sincerity and slightly shook his head. The prince’s eyes watered up, he couldn’t fathom the very idea that Raziel could not have returned. Seth slowly stood behind Christian and placed his hand on his shoulder like the grand duke used to do. Seth was reminded of multiple cases where he was needed to comfort the feelings of those who have recently lost a loved one, and so did the same for Christian.

“What does that meaaannnn?!” the prince asked, turning around and balling his eyes out against Seth’s chest.

The detective placed his hand behind the boy’s head and hugged his back. Seth looked at Wade once again and remembered that Raziel was prepared to make that great sacrifice so they could live.

Vincent looked to Carmon who stood still and void of all emotion or recognition of anything around her. General Grechov walked over to Carmon and lowered his head with his hand on the side of her arm.

“Carmon? You okay? Carmon? Why don’t ya sit down for me, okay?” Grechov asked.

“You need to lay down?” one soldier asked.

“She alright?” another soldier rhetorically asked.

“Hey, what’s wrong with her?” another asked.

The silver haired teen watched the military personal swarm around the distraught teen. He knew how it was to be alone, and knew her entire world had changed in an instant. Her life will never be the same as before.

Rufus stood silent with tears in his eyes and clinching a fist as hard as he could. The death of his hero left an empty feeling deep inside him, similar to when he lost his own father.

News copters started landing around a constructed perimeter, taking pictures and video of the newly created lake with very few remaining forest trees. Pip Gordan and his camera man hurried out of their helicopter before anyone else.

“Hurry with this one Carl. This one’s big, big, big!” Pip ordered.

The newscaster rushed onto the ground with Carl the camera man right behind him with the video recording.

“Pip Gordan with channel twelve ‘VCN’ news here, reporting at what used to be the forest of darkness. Now a massive lake somehow, not completely sure exactly how this has happened yet. Perhaps in relation to the sudden earth quakes we’d experienced nearly an hour ago.” he reported while hurrying to the military personal.

“Hey, stop! You can’t pass through here.” A soldier scolded Pip while attempting to push him away.

“Hey, hey, get your hands off me! Freedom of tha press pal, tha public has a right to know.” he claimed, “You get’n this brutality of film Carl?” Pip asked his camera guy.

While Pip was arguing with the military a crowd of screams and cheers rang throughout the entire area. People and soldiers around began shouting happily.

“Look! Over there!”

“Oh my God!”

“Is that him?!”

The soldier let go of Pip Gordan and looked at the commotion.

Pip adjusted his coat, “What’s go’n on? What’s everybody brambl’n about?” he asked.

The news casters and camera men all watched and reported while watching the grand duke emerged from the lake. Since the water was incapable of clinging to Raziel or the armor he walked out completely dry, not a single drop of water ran down his hair or body. He looked at his hands and forearms to observe the armor he was wearing.

“This armor, protected me from suffocation?” Raziel asked in admiration.

Christian lifted his head from Seth’s chest and struggled to see through his tears, “Wha? Raziel?!” he asked excitedly.

Wade and Kaz sat up and looked around the crowd of people that ran over to the grand duke.

“Well I’ll be damned.” Kaz said with a grin.

Wade smiled, thankful that he wasn’t responsible for the loss of a great hero.

The young prince ran away from the consoling detective and pushed through the mob of people stunned in the wonderment of the grand duke’s return. He squeezed between many others before reaching the front of the group and seeing the grand duke alive and well.

“I thought you were, they said you were…,” Christian struggled to finish his sentence.

“It’s okay Christian, I’m here.” he replied with open arms, “I’m here.”

Christian ran over and hugged the grand duke tighter than ever before. He couldn’t believe how close he was to losing his mentor, his hero, his friend, and who he considered to be part of his family. The grand duke hugged the prince back gently as not to crush him with the power of the armor.

With Raziel back Christian felt safe once again. Raziel looked up and noticed the crowd separate and allowing a young brunette to walk slowly through. Carmon stood before the grand duke in disbelief.

“Carmon?” Raziel called.

The prince wiped his tears of joy and released the grand duke to look back at Carmon.

“Carmon.” Raziel asked taking a step closer to her with arms open.

Carmon began sobbing and ran over to her father to hug him tightly. The young girl was in such a state of despair that her mind was free of all thought. She had felt so alone just a moment earlier, but he was back now. Her father was back and that’s all that mattered.

General Grechov smiled in astonishment that Raziel had somehow survived under the water for as long as he did, but the situation needed to be resolved. Grechov started motioning with his hands and yelling out to the crowd.

“Alright, let’s give the guy some room to breathe here! Everybody pile into the helicopters, let’s move it, let’s move it.” he ordered about.

“Let’s go home.” Raziel said happily with both kids on each side.

Seth, Wade, Rufus, Wraith, Kaz, and Vincent all piled into the helicopter exhausted and thankful the adventure was over. Each of the six sat with their swords sheathed and close by, and each with a sense of pride in their own right.

Chase and Lee stood away to keep the media at bay.

“Hey, let us by small fry.” Pip ordered, “There goes my story.”

Chase looked at Pip with intrigue, “You wanna story, huh?” he asked looking around.

Lee smiled and looked at the cameras, “Well gather round then.”

The camera crews all started fixating on Chase and Lee, they used their hands while explaining their story of epic adventure.

“Alright, this story is guaranteed to make the front pages. It involves a washed up ’ol detective, us, and an evil garden gnome that comes to life.”

Pip Gordan rolled his eyes and sighed, he was annoyed knowing that his actual big story was soon to fly away on that helicopter.

Raziel sat in the helicopter with Christian and Carmon sitting on both his sides. He rested his arms around their necks as they were all thankful to have each other once again.

General Grechov approached the grand duke while he sat, “Everything’s loaded, we’re all set.” he informed while patting the side of the copter.

“You’re not coming with us?” Raziel asked as they started up the engine to the helicopter.

The general shook his head, “Na, figured I’ll take the car back.” he smirked.

Lieutenant Brookes walked up beside Grechov, “General sir, we still need to retrieve our fallen comrades the grand duke informed us about from the day before.” She reminded.

General Grechov nodded while adjusting his hat, “Ah, you’re right.” he remembered the fallen soldiers and quickly lost his smile. He then looked up at Raziel, “Guess I’ll be taking that detour first.” he replied then hit the side of the helicopter indicating for the pilot to take off.

Raziel closed his eyes, not because he was tired or drained from the experience, but because he was thankful to be alive and with his loved ones. The Vailstone military helicopter was followed by others carrying the remaining soldiers who had survived the adventure.

The general hollered at the rest of his soldiers to file into the heavily damaged terrain dosser.

Once all were on board lieutenant Brookes started the engine again, “This one’s gonna need a new paint job.” she joked looking back at Grechov.

Grechov just smiled and looked outside the window and towards the new beautiful lake, “Agh! Screw it, we’ll just get a new one.” he joked.

All military personal had left the area and the media circus began formulating the possible stories of what had transpired at the forest of darkness that day.

Meanwhile, on the far side of the new lake a soaking wet assassin sheathed his newly obtained sword and watched the helicopters and terrain dosser fade into the distance. He turned and slowly walked away, tired and exhausted from the entire ordeal. He decided to tend to his wounds and felt the cut still fresh upon his chest.

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