In the Shadow of the Mask

Heroes vs. Sephire

She stared into her ice blue eyes. They stared back. She saw her confused, fear-filled face. They, though deep and beautiful, show no signs of a soul. She could feel them burning through her. What hers were doing, she couldn’t tell.

“Grr…,” the demon growled at her.

Sparrow wasn’t sure what she should do. She had seen an aging woman turn into a fiery demon. She had seen an ageless masked man thrust his blade deep through the woman’s chest and clear through. She had seen the same masked man gently push his finger into the woman’s chest. She had seen a black fire consume them both and transform the woman into a demon. She had seen much, but none of it made sense. It never had.

“Finish her and kill the others,” Jack nonchalantly commanded, “Then we can go and collect the old seer. Her blood is what will bring us back to where we once were and the world shall belong to me once again.”

She looked back at him and growled lowly.

“Yes… he will cause me some trouble, he’ll just have to be destroyed,” he shrugged it off.

Her expression changed from rage to fear. A single tear rolled down her gray cheek. Her lips started to quiver. Slamming her hands against her head, she stumbled back. She whipped her head and shrieked. Something was causing her great pain. A mention someone caused her to lose control. Still holding her head, she shrunk down into a small ball; just rocking back and forth.

“I’m sorry… I didn’t mean… destroy,” Jack pulled his hands through her hair, “I meant we’ll have to…,” he thought for a moment, “incapacitate him… we won’t kill him,” he brought her face out from her ball, “I promise… Now,” he looked to Sparrow, “Kill her and the others.”

Her body stopped shaking and she stood up straight. Her eyes, those ice blue eyes that pierced through the soul, opened slowly and glared down at her.

Sparrow knew she had to move, but it felt like she was plastered to the place. With every step, she could feel the demon’s intentions bearing down on her harder and harder. She scratched her fingers into the stone floor hoping that it would pull her away, but it only filled her ears with a horrible shriek.

“Just accept your fate child,” Jack laughed, “You cannot defeat my most faithful of servant. She belongs to me and no one else. Sephire,” his mask smiled, “Kill her now. End her misery filled life.”

The demon growled. Crouching down, she pounced on top of Sparrow. She dug her claws into the stone and brought her other set back for a strike.

“Aja,” Sparrow whispered, “I know that you’re in there somewhere. I don’t know and don’t care about your past or what you are to him,” she pleaded, “But I know that you don’t want to do this. Please Aja… come back to yourself.”

“It’s futile child,” Jack mocked, “She is what she is. She is not the woman you thought she was. And now,” he scoffed, “You die.”

With an unearthly growl, the demon’s claws shot forward at Sparrow’s heart. There was no time to react. It was too late to move. She braced herself for the fearsome impact.

“NO YOU DON’T!” a large silver object whizzed past Sparrow’s ear.

The demon flew back and slammed into stone wall.

“Hannah!” Sparrow was glad to see her.

“Couldn’t let you have all the fun,” she smiled down at her.

“I suppose Jack was tricking us once again,” Garth extended his hand to her, “Aja… was never here…”

“I’m somewhat thankful,” Reaver snorted, “Don’t think I could stand anymore of her cryptic ways. Rather annoying.”

“Stop there or you’re going to end up next to that monster,” Hannah warned him.

“That’s not a monster,” Sparrow stood up, “That’s Aja. Jack’s done something to her. Changed her into what you see.”

“What!?” Hannah looked from the demon to Sparrow then back again.

“It’s hard to believe,” she prayed that they would listen, ”But that is Aja. Jack has twisted her into that demon.”

“I have merely returned her to her… well,” Jack looked back at the staggering creature, “Her nearly perfect form. She still is holding back,” he turned back to the Heroes, “I really can’t understand why…”

“It can’t be her,” Hannah shook her head, “Please tell me that it’s not her.”

The creature stood up slowly and shook off the dust and pieces of stone that had collect. It looked to Hannah and growled lowly. Hannah gripped her hammer tighter, but her stance was unsure. Garth, for a moment, had a look of shock. Reaver only raised his eyebrow in mild interest.

“We… we can’t fight her… can we?” Hannah didn’t take her eyes off of the staring creature.

“I don’t think we have a choice,” Garth gritted his teeth.

“We would be taking her out of her misery,” Reaver pointed out, “I don’t know if I could live with myself if I had such hideous horn protruding from my forehead.”

“I think the horns are the lease of her troubles,” Hannah growled.

“She will be the worst of your problems,” Jack raised his hand and snapped his fingers.

She disappeared in a flash. The all looked around, forming a tight circle with their back to one another. They kept their eyes open and wide for any movements. There was none. Hannah held her hammer out in front of her in a defensive position. Garth summoned several swords and waited for anything that dared to appear. Reaver stay still and only traced his finger over the handle of his gun. Sparrow… she wasn’t sure what she should do.

Whoosh… she could feel her. She was right behind her. Her back was to her’s. She could feel the heat coming off of her. It was intense.

“Behind...!” is all Garth could get out.

Whoosh! The air moved so swiftly. It was so cold that it sent a chill down her spine.

Hannah and Garth went flying into stone walls. Reaver flew through the air and out of the mausoleum. Sparrow just stood there with the transformed Aja still at her back. What she would do next, she wasn’t sure. She had just sent the three strongest people that Sparrow knew flying across the room like they were dolls.

The arena… she had felt only a small amount of Aja’s true Will. She even hindered it with some sort of magical field, but Sparrow still felt her power. Now that she was unrestrained… she would show no mercy… or so he claimed. Could she still be in there? Or had the demon taken over?

She felt a claw run along her spine and up to her neck. It made its way around to her throat and lingered. Hot breath came at her neck as a chin rested on her shoulder. Sounds of mixed purrs and growls filled her ears.

“Kill her and be done with it,” Jack was growing impatient.

The demon hissed once more as the claw went to for her throat.

Sparrow only stood there… once again… waiting…

“AAGGG!” something slammed into the demon.

They tumbled for a few yards and separated from one another.

“Sorry Aja,” Hannah apologized she swung her hammer at the demon’s head.

DING! The hammer stopped midair with a loud sound that resonated through the air.

She raised her eyes and glared at the Hero of Strength. She gripped the head of the hammer in her. Hannah’s hands were shaking as she tried to pull the hammer away from the demon’s claws. With a low growl, the demon pushed the hammer towards Hannah. She dug her feet in ground as best as she could, but her shoes slipped across the stone floor. The demon let go of the hammer, but Hannah still flew into the wall with weapon slamming in next to her. Once again the demon disappeared, but only for a second. She was right in front Hannah; her claws ready to strike.

“NO!” Garth shot his energy swords at the demon’s back.

They hit the mark and she screamed out in pain as the swords penetrated deep into her deep. She fell to the floor, but twisted back onto all fours. With one good shake, the swords broke into shimmering pieces. The wounds on her back did not bleed, but smoked. The edges of the wounds started to smother and burn as they closed together. The only signs left of Garth’s heroic attack where the cuts in her shirt.

Her lips curled back into a snarl as she eyes Garth. Digging her claws deep into the stone, she started her charge. The blue lines on Garth’s body shined brightly as he summoned a great ball of fire. Moving his hands in one fluid motion, he pushed it towards the charging demon. The ball was nearly there and was about to hit its target, but she had other plans. She jerked herself back and stood up on two legs. Placing her hand out in front of her, she caught the fireball. She brought it up her lips and took in a deep breath. Releasing one big breath, the demon blew the fireball out like a dragon spewing out fire. The flame grew bigger as it drew closer to Garth. But he was not one to stand by and let the attack land. His blues lines brightened once again as he sent out another spell. The great flame suddenly divided into two and each half passed harmlessly by him.

“It will take more than that,” Garth prepared another attack.

The demon smirk as she waited to see what he would do. Garth, seeing that she was not going to attack, raised his hands. Tendrils of electricity built up along the lines of his body until they reached the tips of his fingers. The energy jumped between his fingers and seemed to demand to be released. He obliged the impatient energy.

It streaked through air towards the waiting demon. It struck with such force… but it did no damage. The electricity danced about the demon’s body, but soon concentrated in her hands. She snorted; a little trail of smoke swirled out of her nose. She only took a step out, but she ended up in front of Garth. He tried to step back, but she took hold of him by the shoulders. The electricity that had built up in her hands now ran through Garth’s body. He screamed out in pain as the electricity filled him. The energy slowly died as did the blue lines faded from Garth’s body. He stopped screaming. He stopped moving.

She growled as she released his lifeless body.

“Damn,” Reaver stumbled into the stone mausoleum, “I wanted to kill him… You took away my chance,” he raised his pistol, “I suppose I’ll have to kill you instead.”

His finger pulled the trigger so smoothly. The bullet glided out of the barrel with a slight spin. It moved so fast, but it seemed to move so slow. The demon just stood there… waiting. The bullet struck her in the temple. It broke through her skin. It cracked through both her skull and out the other side. The bullet buried itself in the stone wall.

Reaver smirked, “I guess it only takes one well placed shot.”

The demon still stood. Her body did not fall or stiffen. Rolling her head in Reaver’s direction, she flashed her fangs in a snarl and snort. The wound that went straight through her head started to smoke and smolder just like before. It closed up as if nothing happened. In a flash, she was in front of Reaver. She swung her claws around to strike in him in the face, but all she slashed was air. Reaver had managed to duck out of the way.

She looked to see where he had disappeared too, but he made his presence known.

“You are a slow one aren’t you?” Reaver held the barrel of his pistol to the back of her skull, “I am the ‘Hero’ of Skill. Agility, accuracy and speed are my forte. You’ll never be quicker than me.”

He pulled the trigger, but it only flew through the air.

“I told you,” Reaver quickly duck forward to escape from the wild swing from behind, “I’m faster than you will ever be,” he twisted around onto his knee and took aim once again.

The demon grabbed onto the barrel of the gun as Reaver pulled the trigger. The pistol jolted, but only black smoke escaped from behind her hand. The barrel was the first to blow out. It cracked and split and finally blew apart. The body of the pistol was the next to go. The solid metal twisted and flew into the air. Reaver, even himself, started to fall back from the explosion. She helped him go the distance. Taking her foot, she kicked him square in the chest. His body slammed into the stone wall and came to rest next to Hannah’s. He stirred a little, but only just.

“That didn’t take long,” Jack commented, “Though they are not as strong as the girl… oh well,” he shrugged his shoulders, “Finish them and kill the girl.”

The demon bowed her head in obedience. She raised her hands and three swords of energy formed in the air. They twisted and danced as they waited to be released.

“Kill them… let their blood fill this hollow place,” Jack hissed, “Let their veins drain into to the crevasses of the stone… let the fresh rot from their bones… let this stone mausoleum be their final resting place…”

Sparrow had not moved from her place. She was a living statue. She was a witness to all that had happened. She watched Hannah be overpowered, though she was the strongest in the land. She watched Garth have his own spells turned against him, though he was the wisest in the land. She watched Reaver miss his shot and be out matched in speed, though he was the best in shot in the land. They all had fallen to what their greatest strengths were. They all had been taken down by her… by a woman that Sparrow thought she knew.

Aja was really never Aja… she had spun a tale of lies… she had never told the truth… she could have told everything about me, but she didn’t… she could have prepared you… your friends didn’t have to die… but now they do… you can stop her yet… if you have the strength… it is inside of you… the strength that you deny yourself… the strength you are afraid to use… use it… and you shall know power like that of a god… like me… a voice whispered in her ear.

“Stop,” Sparrow shook her head.

The swords were released.

“STOP!” she screamed once more.

She felt it.

It was a strength from deep inside of her.

It felt dark.

It burned.

It felt… good.

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