In the Shadow of the Mask

Sparrow vs. Sephire

The burning filled her body with such intensity. It whelmed up from a place that seemed so deep. It was a place that she had retreated to before. It had been a long time since she had gone to that place. She felt like she had lived in that place for so long. It was always there, but she tried to avoid. So often as a child, she could remember going to that place… whenever they would haunt her dreams. They would tease her as their images played over and over again of that fateful night. She was angry. She was scared. She was sad. She was dead… inside.

Hot tears ran down her cheeks. They burned and singed as they followed the contours of her face. Their salty sweetness caught the corner on her lips and ran along them. They tasted as she felt… sad… angry… hot… they understood her…

Let it go… the voice came again, let all that you have bottled up for years… you deserve it…

Sparrow turned her head towards Jack’s… she knew that voice was his… but… he was right.

Thanks to the demon before you, your dearest friends… the only people that could truly understand who and what you are… are dead… Take her life and reclaim what you want…

Sparrow turned back to the demon that was once a woman that she admired.

Listen to him if you must, another voice came, kill the demon that stands before you and decide for yourself what you truly want… but don’t let him tell you what you desire… look into your heart and push away the darkness that slowly consumes your soul… do not fall into the same path I have… less you become… the voice faded.

For just a moment there was a hint of sadness in the creature’s eyes, but it soon gave way to a harsh glare.

Shaking her head, Sparrow ignored the voices. They were not her’s, so why should she listen to them? Drawing out her sword, she took in a deep breath and released it slowly. The demon understood her posture and hunched down. It was ready to pounce. She was ready to swing. It was a battle of old that had not been seen for thousands of years. Right then and there, a Hero would face and ancient enemy and the victor would be the last one standing.

The demon’s lips curled and suddenly it leaped forward from its crouched position. Before she remained unseen; her moments were so fast that the human eye could not detect her. Now… Sparrow could see everything she did. Step by step, she grew closer. She raised her claws and drew them back. She was going to strike with all her force, but Sparrow was ready. Gripping her sword tightly, she smoothly swung it as the demon swung her claws.

Drip… drip… drip… warm red blood dripped to the cold stone floor.

A deep scratch lined Sparrow’s right cheek and one on the demon’s left cheek. They each had landed a hit, but just so.

“Oh… has the death of your friends sparked your fighting spirit?” Jack mocked.

Sephire quickly rolled her eyes towards Jack with a growl.

“Hush my pet,” he hissed, “We’re almost finished here.”

With a low growl, she stretched out her claws. Sparrow’s fresh red blood still lingered on one claw.

“Ah, I see,” Jack understood, “but do you think that she will let you walk away now that you’ve killed her friends and know that you will soon be retrieving the old woman? Are you going to let her get away from that?” he looked to Sparrow.

Sparrow’s traced her eyes along the room. They first fell to Hannah. Her hammer lay next to her. Her head rested against the wall. A dribble of blood ran down her forehead and dripped down to her chest. Her wandering eyes came to Garth’s body on the floor. There still was no movement. His clothing was still releasing smoke, though there was no fire. Last and certainly not least, especially in his mind, was Reaver. His dream was eternal youth or so he claimed. Sparrow always thought he lied about himself… his true desires, but she would never know now. He hand… the one that held his favorite pistol, was bloodied. Spots of blood blotted his shirt.

They all looked liked… they were merely asleep…

But they’re not… the voice mocked inside her head.

She turned back to the demon known as Sephire.

Nothing needed to be said.

They leap towards one another. Flashes of metal and claws whipped through the air. They clanged and dinged as they met. For each rake of Sephire’s claws, Sparrow returned with a swing of her sword. Neither could land a definitive blow. Her claws were as hard as Sparrow’s steel blade. Sparrow’s sword could match the swiftness of her claws. They were so evenly match. Sparrow could tell where the demon was about to attach and block her. The demon could do the same. With one jump back they separated from one another. They both took in a deep breath and released it. Trails of smoke trickled out of the demon’s nose. A snort only came from Sparrow’s.

“Bravo!” Jack clapped his armored covered hands, “What a glorious show. But,” he sighed, “I do grow bored and I don’t have all day. You two seem quite evenly matched,” he faded from sight, “So let’s make this more interesting,” he suddenly appeared behind Sephire, “Though I am impressed that that you have been able to reach so deep inside yourself and find your true power,” he placed his chin on Sephire’s shoulder, “but still…,” he backed away, “she draws from a deeper place…”

It was one swift movement, he plunged something into the demon’s back. She stumbled forward onto all fours. He had stabbed her deep in the back with one of his daggers. Sparrow watched as the creature twisted and contorted into a new form.

Two bumps appeared at her shoulder blades and erupted into long bony wings. Instead of light feathers, the wings were made of flat, sharp bones with a razor’s edge running along each side. Her entire body seemed to extend and grow. The base of her spine pushed through her clothing. New vertebras formed and continued grow as flesh, muscle and sinew covered them. It ended and the newly created tail whipped wildly in the air. Looking up for just a moment, Sparrow could see the demon’s eyes changing from ice blue to a piercing green. Her round pupils elongated to thin slits. The dagger sand deeper into her back until it completely disappeared. Standing up slowly, with each of her vertebra popping, the creature released an ear splitting shriek.

The stone floor cracked and split. The walls bowed out and the roof seemed to lift up. The remaining columns started to break apart and crumble to the ground. The place seemed like it would cave in at any moment.

The demon’s shriek ended, but still seemed to resonate in the hollow place. Without wasting a moment, she summoned a large fireball. Sparrow was not going just stand around. She too dug deep inside herself to a fire that burned intensely. This internal flame took shape in her hands. They both held their flames; waiting to see who would release it first. Sparrow narrowed her eyes, looking for any sign of the creature’s impending attack. There! A flex of the creature’s claws, she released the burning fireball. Sparrow pushed her’s out and towards the other. They met with such force and almost seemed to freeze in the space between the two combatants. Sparrow thought that maybe they were still evenly matched, but she was wrong.

Everything seemed to move in slow motion. The two fireballs squeezed together and formed an almost flat disc. They started billow out as they slammed into one another. Something pierced through the fused fireballs to Sparrow’s side. The demon’s claws were outstretched and heading straight for her. She tried to raise her sword to defend, but she couldn’t move fast enough. The creature took hold of her face and she could feel herself being pushed back.


Sparrow felt the wall slam into her back as she went through it. The demon let go of her face just long enough for her to see that they were outside and seemed to be floating above the air. Time just didn’t seem to move. They floated there for what seemed like an eternity. Twisting in midair, Sephire whipped her long tail around and slammed Sparrow into the ground.

It felt like her chest was about to collapse. She could feel her ribs breaking as she hit the ground. Every section on her spine felt like it would spring out of her back as she bounced and skidded across the dirt path. She finally stopped when several tombstones ended up in her path. Rolling onto her stomach, she felt pieces of stone fall onto her.

“Umph!” a tombstone pinned her to the ground.

She tried to push herself up but the tombstone was so heavy and every moment caused a sharp pain in her chest. She could only take short, painful breaths. Her chest felt like it was on fire with every breath. Once again she tried to push herself up, but the stone would not budge. Her arms collapsed from beneath her.

“Just can’t stand up to her?” a voice came from in front of her.

“Jack,” Sparrow hissed through her teeth as she looked up at him.

“Here I thought you had potential,” he was sitting on a large statue of an angel, “You have pulled from such a powerful source… something that you should have done a long time ago,” he clicked his unseen tongue, “You are still holding back though…,” he seemed disappointed, “You could win this if you dig a little deeper,” he pulled out his other dagger and played with it in the air, “You’ve only merely started to scratch at the surface of what truly lies beneath. Sephire,” he looked to the patiently waiting demon, “has been fully awakened and you cannot avenge your friends as you are,” he jumped down to her and held up his dagger to her, “Allow me to help you find true power. Power to take on my most loyal and powerful servant,” he held out his hand.

“Why,” she coughed, “would you want to help me kill your servant?”

“I only want to see,” he caressed her cheek, “you full potential.”

Swatting away his hand, she would not listen to him. She could do this on her own. She had faced many trails before and come out stronger. She didn’t need help from a man that had done so many terrible things. She would come out of this… she had too.

Slowly placing her hands underneath her body, Sparrow pushed off the ground. The heavy stone fell to the side as she stood up. She went to grab her sides, but composed herself. They did burn and ached with pain. Her back cracked and popped and felt like it would snap. She wanted to collapse and hold her body tight, but still she composed herself. Looking down, she saw that her sword was a foot away from her. She started to reach for it, but the couching demon started to growl. She was going to have to move fast.

Sephire snarled and readied herself to pounce the moment Sparrow would go for her weapon. Sparrow kept her eyes on the demon as she steadied herself for a grab and roll. They each waited to see who would be the first to move.

Twitch… the demon was on her in a flash.

She tried to duck down, but Sephire whipped her tail up and sent her flying into the air. Sparrow landed with a hard thud. She rolled over onto her side with much cracking coming from her already broken ribs. There was liquid in the back of her throat and she couldn’t help but cough it out. Spits and sputters of blood came out as she coughed. Lending over, she spit out whatever liquid remained.

“RRROOAAARRRR!” the demon did not relent.

She came down from the sky with her claws at the ready. Sparrow gritted her teeth as she just managed to roll out of the way. The demon’s claw split and shattered the earth as she landed. Such a gust of wind came off her that it caused Sparrow to jump up into the air and land in a nearby tombstone. She hit hard, but the slab of stone did not break or bend. She went into a spasm of coughs that brought up more fresh red blood. The pain in her chest started to burn like it was on fire. She couldn’t help but grab at her sides and hunch over in pain. She was sure that her lung was pierced. Her breaths were short, hard and painful. She couldn’t concentrate on anything. There was danger and she knew that she had to do something about it.

“Still not reaching deep enough,” Jack appeared before her, “The fire inside of you is starting to die. Here I thought,” he snorted, “the death of your friends would rally you to reach for something more. This entire time,” he stood up, “I was pushing you to become something more… what your line demands… but you are still resisting. You are so much like her,” he indicated back to the waiting demon, “but I have finally consumed her entirely,” he came back down to her, “Now…,” he pulled out his dagger, “Don’t resist,” he placed his hand on her cheek, “and allow the blood in your body to burn with a power that is rightfully yours…”

He pulled back his hand with the dagger and plunged it deep into Sparrow’s chest.

She barely felt it. She could only feel the pressure as he buried deep inside her. It settled in her heart… she could feel it. It was a familiar feeling that was with her everyday she was alive. It was a dull pain that wouldn’t leave. It was heaviness that made it hard to move. It was something that would never heal. Though familiar to her, it felt a thousand times worse. It was like an old wound ripped opened over and over again. Flashes of memories flew past her eyes. Reaver falling back from the explosion of his own gun; pieces of his gun ripping through his body. Garth lying on the ground still smothering from his spell being turned on him. Hannah propped up against the wall; for all her strength… it was nothing… Her walking the cold streets of Bowerstone looking for something to eat. So many nights she would she go to bed with an empty, growling belly. Being so cold, but no warm to be found, not even next to her sister… Rose… She tried her hardest for them. She always looked after them, but really never knew how. That night in the castle… Rose collapsing… Sparrow begging for her life… her falling… banging into roofs and finally onto the cobblestone street… that was the deepest of wounds… being so helpless as she laid there… the warm leaving her body… the light fading… there was nothing left for her… there was only pain.

That pain is your greatest strength, a voice whispered, use it to destroy the one that shattered what little good remained in your life…

She opened her eyes. She could breathe again. There was no pain in her body. It did not ach. It did not crack. It did not feel like it would break into thousand pieces at the slightest wind. Her body… just felt numb. Looking towards the creature that had brought so much pain to her body and mind, Sparrow stood up slowly. This creature… this demon that made her feel so many things… she had lied… she had played games… she had killed friends… this creature had to die.

Her eyes wandered to her sword. It lay between the two of them. She looked back up at the demon. She didn’t need her sword to take on this monster.

The idea must have come to them at the same time. They met in the air. Hand to claw, they landed on the ground and began to struggle for control. The demon dug her claws deep into Sparrow’s skin, but she didn’t feel it. They pushed and pulled, trying to knock each other off balance. Their strength was equal. Sparrow was surprised that she could hold up against the monster.

It was inside you all along… you had this kind of strength all this time, but other’s… like your friends… they have hindered you… held you back from experiencing a hero’s true power… drink in it my dear… taste it’s sweetness and allow it to take over…

She could feel it. It whelmed up inside her. It started deep in her chest and radiated out to arms. Where she met the demon with the same power, she was now pushing her back. She dug her claws deep into the dirt, but Sparrow only pushed harder. Her claws left deep trails as Sparrow pushed her towards the crumbling mausoleum. Seeing that she was starting to lose ground, Sephire whipped around her tail and wrapped it around Sparrow’s throat. She tried to take in a breath, but the demon’s tail tightened its grip. She could feel her knees started to buckle as her lungs cried out for air. With a curl of her lips, Sephire could see that she was starting to gain the upper hand.

Going to let the murderer of your friends kill you as well? Get your revenge and kill the demon…

Sparrow gritted her teeth as she pushed herself back up and close the demon’s face. She was not pleased as Sparrow made her way up to her. Tilting her head back just so, Sparrow jolted it forward into the demon’s face. Sephire let go of Sparrow’s hands, but not her tail. Taking advantage of the situation, Sparrow took hold of the tail around her throat and pulled it away. She gripped it as tightly and started to pull and whip it around. The demon had no choice but to follow the force moments. She lifted into the air as Sparrow pulled the tail over her head. Sparrow started to twirl on her heels around in a circle. The demon whipped around and seemed to hit every stone in her way. Releasing her grip, Sparrow let the tail go and sent the demon flying into row after row of headstones. There was a wide ditch littered with broken stones and a fog of dust left in her wake.

Sparrow took in a breath as she started to walk down the deep grove in the earth. She could take her time. There was no reason to hurry. Those that meant something to her were gone now. It didn’t matter if she destroyed every headstone in this place. Only the dead remained there and soon they would have another amongst them.

“Sparrow?” a voice called to her, “Sparrow? Is that you?” it sounded concern.

“Huh?” Sparrow shook her head, “John?” she looked to her right.

He was just standing there with a look of shock on his face. Why was he looking at her like that? Was it because she was covered in blood? She knew that she clothing was dotted in it, but it couldn’t be that much. Still he stood there and just stared. In was in shock with a hint of terror. Why would he be staring at her like that?

“You again boy,” Jack appeared behind John, “I should have just killed you when I had the chance,” he brought his armor clad hand back.

“JOHN!” Sparrow yelled as she felt her blood beginning to cool.

“Huh?” he started to turn around, but it was too late.

“ROAR!” something leapt onto Jack.

They rolled for a few yards before they separated, but the demon was on him again before he could steady himself. She pinned him to the ground; her hands hold down his and her tail wrapped around his legs.

“Sephire! What are you doing?” Jack hissed, “What could that child possibly mean to you?”

The demon lowered her head and whispered, “William…”

“So… he still lingers in your mind…,” Jack growled, “I see that…,” he clinched his fists, “I’ll have to rip out that heart of yours!”

An unseen force pushed Sephire into the air, but she quickly landed on all fours and ran towards Jack. She slashed with her claws. She snapped her jaws. She whipped her tail about. All Jack could do was to avoid the onslaught of attacks. She attacked him relentlessly, not allowing him follow up with his own attacks.

Sparrow started to go towards them, but John took hold her, “Hold on! Don’t get in between those two!”

“I have to,” Sparrow tried to pull away from him, “She killed them…”

“Who?” John asked.

“Hannah… Garth… Reaver…,” she felt a hot tear roll down her cheek, “She took them down and killed them one by one… they had no chance… she needs to pay for their deaths… she needs to pay for all the lies that she told us… she’s nothing but a monster… a monster that made me care about her… made me believe in her… a monster…”

“Sparrow…,” John shook her, “Snap out of it! The others are alright! I just checked on them! They were waking up… a little injured,” he admitted, “but alive.”

She wouldn’t listen, “No… I saw her… she killed them…,” she pushed past him.

“Sparrow!” John grabbed her shoulder.

“I must do this!” she slapped him away.

The young man fell back; his cheek was burning from the hard hit.

He looked up at her in fear, “What… what happened to you? Why have you changed so much? Who has changed you into… into a monster?”

“Monster?” Sparrow looked down at her hands.

To her horror, she saw not palms and fingers, but gray, cracked skin with fingernails that came to a sharp point. She pulled at her shirt to see that all of her skin as turned gray with glowing red cracks. Reaching for her face, her fingers were blocked by a pair of curved horns. She… she had… she had…

Ignore the boy… the voice whispered in her ears, he doesn’t know of your power… he’s afraid of it… embrace it… make it your own… kill the demon… kill her NOW!

Sparrow shook her head or so she tried. She could no lower feel her body. Her hands dropped to her side. Her feet started to move, though she did not command them. Where she was going, she didn’t know. She bent down and picked up her fallen weapon. She could feel the soft leather grip, but that was about it. She passed by John, whom was still on the ground. She wanted to scream out to him, but her mouth wouldn’t open. It remained closed; she was silent as she made her way to the one sided fight. Sephire must have notice the silent approach. She stopped her attach and turned to face her new, but old opponent.

“I can see that I am no longer welcomed here,” Jack straightened himself up, “I do have more important things to be looking after… I leave this child to you Sephire,” he bowed to her.

She looked over her shoulder and growled. Picking her tail up, she whipped it at him. He effortlessly jumped out of the way. He landed on headstone and folded his arms.

“I’ll come back for you later,” he looked down at the growling demon, “after you have settled down. Farewell my dear,” he bowed to Sephire, “… Young Hero,” he did the same to Sparrow.

With that he faded from sight, to where only he knew. His mask was the last thing to fade, but only after his eyes flashed with red. Sparrow felt something move within her chest as his eyes flashed. It twisted and felt like it was ripping her insides apart. She wanted to scream out in pain, but she was still not in control of herself. She wanted to reach deep inside her and pull out whatever it was causing her pain. She knew what it was. It had to be the dagger. Jack had given her power, but now he was turning it against her. He was going to rip her apart from the inside out. He was the one causing her this pain.

This is your pain… a pain that you have held in your heart all these years… I have merely let you tap into it… you have seen what you can do when you wallow in your pain… use it once again and kill the one that has caused you more pain… do this and belong to me…

She was screaming on the inside, but no one could hear her. Her body was still moving, but she was not telling it to. Sephire stood there, waiting for her. Sparrow’s body picked up speed and raised her sword for a swing. The demon quickly blocked the attack and tried to thrust her hand through Sparrow’s chest. She quickly moved out of the way and swung her sword around. The demon once again caught the blade and tried for her chest once more. Sparrow’s hand grabbed onto the demon’s hand and twisted it back.

“RRWWW,” Sephire howl as the bones in her arm twisted and snapped.

They pulled back from one another. The demon’s arm fell limp to her side. Her face twitched with pain, but she would not stand down. Sparrow could see that her arms were bringing her sword up for another attack. With both of her hands on the hilt, Sparrow’s legs started to run towards the wincing creature.

She did not move. She did not blink. She just stood there… waiting for Sparrow’s charge. Sparrow tried to stop, but still her body would not listen to her.

Drip… drip… drip… the blade started to trickle with blood.

Sparrow looked down at the hilt of her sword. It was nearly pushed through Sephire’s chest. Her hands were slowly turning red from the warm blood that flowed over them. She could fell that she was still trying to push deeper and deeper into the demon.

“Shh,” the demon purred as she rubbed Sparrow’s face, “It’s okay. I know the pain you feel is deep and seems bottomless. I know that you have seen much evil in your life, but I also know that you have experienced much good too. One pure thought will show you the way,” she placed her forehead on Sparrow’s, “you just need to feel one to find your own…”

The world brightened until it turned completely white. Sparrow could barely see and wanted to shield her eyes, but something compelled her to move forward. She could hear the giggles of a small child. They were so innocent and sounded like little bells. Out of the light, she could see three figures forming. It was sweet scene that formed.

A woman with long brown hair and ice blue eyes was holding a young child on her hip. A man that stood tall and proud wrapped his muscular the woman and child. He bent over and kissed the child in between the eyes. He then came up and kissed the woman on the lips. They lingered there for a moment then released. They all smiled as they snuggled in closer.

Sparrow could feel her lips growing warmer as she watched the scene. It traveled down and into her chest. The numbness… the burning… it was slowly disappearing. The warmth dripped down until it filled her completely. She felt so warm. It wrapped around her like the tall man’s arms. It felt like nothing could hurt her now. She never wanted the feeling to leave.

“I have held that in the deepest part of my heart,” Sephire whispered into Sparrow’s ears as she slowly opened her eyes, “it is the one thing that has kept me going all these years. It is what saved me from Jack’s control. I give it to you now, in hopes that you can find that one thing that will bring the warmth back into your heart,” she placed her hand on Sparrow’s chest, “Find it now…”

It came to her… that one moment when she truly felt a warmth the penetrated her entirely. It was the day that she received an odd little daisy from an odd little boy. He so lightly pecked her cheek, but even to that day, she could still feel it. It was so sweet… so kind… so pure… a love that had been sparked inside of her. It was something that she could never forget… something that the deepest pain could never overcome… it was a pure thought…

“That’s my little Sparrow,” Sephire began to pull something from Sparrow’s chest, “Jack has no power over you as long as you have that thought deep in your heart,” she held up the dagger that had buried itself so deeply.

Sparrow could feel the horns retreating and looked down to see that her skin was becoming tan. She looked back up at Sephire. She no longer stood over her, but looked her straight in the eye. Her eyes had changed back to that deep, ice blue and her horns were slowly retreating back. The cracks on her skin closed up as it brightened back to a light tan.

“Sparrow,” she pulled her closer, “You now know where your blood comes from…” she started to fall.

“Sephire… Aja...,” she wasn’t sure what to call her, “Don’t go… please…”

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