In the Shadow of the Mask

Vision of the Past

Her cheek stung with Aja’s slap, but her heart felt it worse. She shouldn’t have said what she said. She shouldn’t have been so mean. But she knew that in order to save Aja from more pain, she had to hurt her feelings.

“She seemed to have her vigor back,” Reaver remarked, “or should I say vinegar.”

“Are you alright?” Hannah asked in concerned.

“Yes,” Sparrow rubbed her cheek.

“You… you didn’t mean that… what you said to her? Did you?” she questioned.

“No… of course not,” she assured Hannah, “I… just didn’t want her to come… she had suffered enough because of me. I couldn’t bear the thought if she were injured again… or worse,” she lowered her eyes.

“It wasn’t your fault. She knew the dangers and understood the possibilities of what would happen,” Garth reasoned, “Aja, from what I have heard and seen, is a capable woman. But, it was for the best that she not come with us,” Garth cleared his throat, “We are heading into a situation that we don’t know what is going to happen. It’s for the best that we are the only ones that go.”

“It is strictly Heroes’ business,” Reaver added.

“Unfortunately others have gotten involved,” Sparrow sighed.

“Don’t worry,” Hannah put her hand on Sparrow’s shoulder, “We’ll get there and everything will be alright.”

Sparrow wished she could believe that. There was a feeling in the pit of her stomach that told her otherwise. It twisted and turned her inside out. This feeling that two important people in her life were now in danger tore her insides up. This man… this masked man seemed to be targeting her and not the others. She didn’t know why he going after her and not the others. She started to think that it was unfair that the others didn’t have the same choices that she had to face. Why didn’t they have to choose between two lives that meant so much? Why didn’t take the lead on this journey? She was tired from all that had happen already.

That’s right, you deserve to rest… a voice hissed in her ear.

She looked around, but the others were talking amongst themselves. She didn’t even listen to what they were saying or what they were talking about.

Why should you be the only one suffering through this? They could suffer too… Hannah, Garth and Reaver… they could suffer like you… all you have to do is say, “I wish…” and it will be. They could have their nights filled with nightmares of their past… Hannah could relive the night her father died… Garth could see the terrors of the Spire… Reaver… he could see the faces of all those he sacrificed for his eternal youth. The screams, the faces, the terror, the pain, the grief… all could be in their dreams if you wish… just say the words… and it shall be done…

Whose voice was this that promised to share her pain with the others? Whose voice was this that whispered a terrible promise in her ears?

You know me… your blood knows me well… it has bled out for me… it has defended me… It…

The world went dark before her eyes. The figure of a man stood before her. The details of his form started to become clearer as she eyes adjusted. It was the same man that stood outside the temple and presented her with a terrible choice.

“You,” she recognized him.

It…, his voice came inside her head again … has killed me!

His body shattered into a thousand pieces. Fragments blew into dust and disappeared in an unseen wind.

“You have taken much me…” a tire voice came from the darkness.

A man appeared. He looked to be around Sparrow age, though his brown hair was nearly white. His blue eyes shone through the darkness, like a beacon. He held his sword before him, like he was getting ready to strike.

A low growling filled the air and made her spine tremble.

“You will pay for what you did to my family,” the man gritted his teeth, “You will pay for what you did to Oakvale and its residents. My sister is blind,” an image of a young woman appeared next to him.

Her brown hair hung around her face. A bloody bandage covered where her eyes would be. She held her hands in front of her and leaned on one leg. This woman… this man’s sister looked so familiar.

“My father died in front of my eyes,” the man continued, “You killed my mother… you slit her throat! It’s time… time for your evil to finally be vanquished from this world,” he raised his sword in anger.

The man froze and he and his sister faded into the darkness.

He thought he could defeat me… the other voice came again, it is true that my battle with him weaken me, but he was nothing in comparison to his forbearer… the one that truly shatter me… the one that take away my true abilities… my true form…

Another man appeared from the darkness. Like the man before, this man’s hair was turning white and his face was young. Unlike the other man, blue cracks lined the visible parts of his body. He seemed stoic and there were no signs of emotions on his face.

“You have done much to the people of this world,” he spoke in a calm voice, “Your legions of demons have ravaged the land and carried away families. You tried to imprison me in your Void. You tried to control my mind, body and soul. You failed,” the man lowered his eyes, “The crimes you have committed along with the rest of the Court are too great for any punishment, but,” he looked up at an unseen figure, “what You have done to my mother is far worst. For that,” he drew out a black sword with a red hilt, “I will make the light fade from your eyes and the fire in your fire flicker out. Your body will be broken by the sword that abandoned you…”

The man faded.

A lovely speech he made to me, the voice echoed, I laughed at him that day… heh… it is true that my body was broken by him and the light from my eyes faded, but the flame within me refused to die without a fight. After so many battles, he won. However, the voice added, his body and mind were beyond repair. His body shriveled away, his mind faded while I, he laughed, gathered my strength. I crawled out of the deepest part of the Void to reclaim what was mine. Then he… of the same bloodline face me… he broke a body that was not ready… then, the figure in a red hood and black armor appear once again.

“There’s you. You know who you descend from. You know your blood,” he began to laugh sinisterly, “but you are nothing in comparison to the Hero before you and you are not the one that started it at all!”

Everything went black. Though she could see, Sparrow knew the man was still there. She could fell him. His evil presence… his malevolence… his… hallow… eyes… burning…

“You can’t defeat me,” his voice whispered in her ears, “your forbearers couldn’t and the only one that even could have was just a half bred. What chance does someone like you, who does not even possess the strength of the second Hero to claim defeat over me, have?”

She could feel it. He was standing right in front of her. She could feel his hallow eyes staring into hers.

“Give up now and you will not suffer,” he offered.

She closed her eyes, took in a deep breath and released it slowly.

“I,” she started, “may be like those of the past. I may not have their strength. I may not have their powers or abilities, but,” she opened her eyes, “I will do everything in my power to stop you. You will not succeed in your plans. You will not triumph. I will stop you,” she vowed.

“You,” his presences seemed to fade, “will fail. Your friends will lie dead at your feet. Your lover’s heart will be torn from his chest. As for the seer… I have plans for her…”

“What do you want with her!?” Sparrow yelled out, “What do you want with her!?”

“Sparrow,” she felt herself being shaken.

“What?” Sparrow seemed to wake up, “What happened?”

“You were just standing there,” Hannah looked worried, “then all of a sudden you started to scream. Are you okay?”

Sparrow looked around. Everyone was staring at her.

“I… I went somewhere,” she tried her best to explain, “it was dark and the masked man was there… he showed me things… things from the past I think. I’m not sure.”

“You mean Jack of Blades,” Reaver raised his brow.

“Huh?” Sparrow looked at him in confusion.

“There’s something we should tell you,” Garth stepped forward.

“Do we have time?” Hannah looked to the Gate.

“This is important,” Garth assured her.

“What? What is it?” Sparrow asked.

Garth took in a deep breath and started to explain what Brother Anshu had overheard.

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