In the Shadow of the Mask

The Fall

She took one deep breath before stepping into the Cullis Gate. There was so much riding on this one battle. It would end it all. If she could win. Battles before did not go so well.

A tingling covered her lips. It was warm and gentle. It pressed every so lightly. It was a kiss… a kiss of love.

She knew that she must hold onto that.

“One pure thought,” she whispered as the light consumed her body.

The light faded and gave way to the moldy darkness of the Guild. Everything was as it was before. The candles still remained lit and hadn’t melted an inch. Stacks of books lay about, but no one had touched them in a long while. The painted portraits of the past stared back at her with lifeless eyes. There was one… one that caught her eye.

It was of a man in a white mask with red marking. He held his hands over a burning town and a crying child. There was an evil grimace on the mask, though it had no mouth. It was an image of pain. It was an image of evil. It was an image of demon that desired only one thing…

“I’m ready Jack,” Sparrow pointed her sword at the staring image.

“Ha, ha, ha, ha,” the image laughed, “You have grown since we have last met. Sephire has taught you much,” the image peeled away from the way.

It floated down as a leaf falls down from its lofty perch. It landed softly with a little fluttered and ripple of its body. Though it was wrinkled, the image still exuded evil.

“Tell me,” the flat image started to pace back and forth, “Is my darling Sephire still alive? Or did you have to run her through a few times? I would imagine that she would take a few times to actually kill her,” he laughed.

“Aja,” Sparrow growled, “Is no longer under your control. You never will have her again and you will never, ever harm her again,” she swore.

“Ha, ha, ha…,” his dark laughter filled the musty air, “Such big words from someone who hasn’t even truly face an evil being…” his paper like body started to expanded, “Hobbes, Hollow Men, Bandits, Balverines… Trolls…,” he snorted, “They are nothing to what I am. And that pathetic old man… what was his name?” he rubbed his ballooning chin, “Lucien was it? The one that killed your sister… Pansy… Marigold… Petunia…?” he waited for her reaction.

She just took in a deep breath and exhaled it slowly, “Her name was Rose. Are you done playing games?”

Jack could see that she wasn’t affected by his words, “Mmm,” he was somewhat impressed, “What little thought are you holding onto? What could possibly be so centering?”

She closed her eyes and felt John’s warmth fill her lips, “It doesn’t matter. We are both here now. We are both here for something. We are both here… You started this and I am here to finish it.”

He seemed amused, “I started nothing… If Sephire had remained loyal,” he hissed, “I wouldn’t have had to punish her… If she had stayed by my side,” his eyes started to flare red, “and had not abandoned me for that blacksmith...,” he growled lowly, “lie by him… keep his house… cook for him…,” his armored hand formed a fist, “BARE HIS CHILD!”

His angry scream bounced off the walls and rang in Sparrow’s ears.

It was the first time that she had heard him angry. He had been calm and cool since she had first encountered him. He showed some annoyance, but never raised his voice as he just did.

“She’s a sore subject for you,” Sparrow remained calm.

The flare in his eyes faded, though they were still red. He released his fist and the sound of a deep breath being taken in and released could be heard.

“It’s frustrating,” he was back to his calm self, “but it shall soon end…,” he drew his blades, “… with you…”

There were no more words to be exchanged. They had said their peace. Sparrow had managed to keep composed. Jack had tried to play his games and failed. This would be the final battle for one of them. Who… it would be decided.

They met in the dim light of the candles. The clash of their weapons made sparks that illuminated each other’s faces. Both were calm. Both were focused. Both were determined.

They met several times; each refusing to give an inch. The blades sparked and squealed with every hit. They wouldn’t allow their masters to fail. They would not brake. They would not bend. They would not give.

Jack began to laugh, “Your steel is as strong as your will I see, but,” his body rippled, “My desire is stronger than your will,” a sudden force pushed her back.

She managed to brace herself enough to deflect Jack’s oncoming attacks. Pushing back each attack, she gained a few steps forward.

“You certainly have improved since our last meeting,” Jack stopped for a moment, “It is refreshing to feel a sweat on one’s brow,” he wiped away pretend sweat.

“Glad I could give you some exercise,” Sparrow smirked.

“You’re even starting to sound like her,” Jack was annoyed by the comment, “I shall have to remove that sharp tongue of yours.”

He was on her in a flash, but Sparrow was able to stop his blades. Concentrating on the metal in her sword, she felt the hairs on the back of her neck stand up. The blade started to glow blue. Jack could see what she was doing and tried to jump away. It was too late. Sparrow let loose her mystical attack. Tendrils of her pure Will energy sailed through the air and hit him square in the chest. He was sent flying into the portrait that he had descended from.

He stayed for a moment then started to fall, but he was able to push off the wall and land just a ways from Sparrow.

“I’m done playing now… child,” he raised his arms.

Sparks of light filled the air above him. They pulled and sharpened as they took form. Sparrow raised her blade, ready for the onslaught that was about to take place. Daggers… hundreds of them formed and took aim at her. With a gesture of his hands, the daggers started to fly through the air.

Sparrow blocked a few and dodged another. She jumped and swung and jumped, but the daggers of energy continued to fall. More and more were called forth and Jack watched as she barely missed being hit.

“Agg!” one grazed her left arm.

There was no time to stop and tend to it. More and more came by the moment. Jack was not letting up and neither was she.

She closed her eyes and concentrated on her heartbeat. It was quick and sharp and pounded out of control. It started to slowed and calm down. The world around her started to grey and slow. Daggers flew by, but she merely stepped out of the way. Jack stood motionless and didn’t seem to notice her composed walk up to him. Bringing up her sword, she started to swing.

“You’re not the only one that can enter this plane,” he suddenly grabbed the blade.

They twisted about. Sparrow trying to pull the sword away and Jack refusing to let go. The daggers still fell around them and barely missed them on several occasions.

“Give it up child,” Jack chided, “I’ve been playing with you and your ancestors for centuries. No matter what they’ve tried, I still come back. There is nothing in this world that can stop me,” he raked his talon like gauntlet across her face.

They ripped and torn her flesh. She staggered back and placed her hand on her cheek.

The world regained its color. It moved as it should. The rain of daggers stopped and Jack stood proudly with his claws dripping with her blood.

“That’s all I wanted,” his blank mask smiled, “Just a little blood. Was it that hard?” he admire the bright liquid that dripped off.

Sparrow wasn’t sure why he was so happy. Surely it would take more than a few drops to bring forth the weapon of his desire. He killed the Hero of Oakvale’s mother by slitting her throat to satisfy the needs of the sword.

“It’s true that this little bit would not call forth what I need,” he looked to the ground below Sparrow, “but you have provided enough,” he laughed.

Sparrow looked to the ground and saw that there were several small pools of blood were forming. Looking over herself, she noticed that the daggers had hit her more often than she thought. Gashes and nicks lined her body and were slowly oozing blood.

“Come to me oh ancient Sword of Blood,” Jack raised his arms once more, “Come to me my blade of ancient times! Come to your former and rightful master!”

The pools of Sparrow’s blood ran together and rose off the ground. It was like it was dripping from the floor and collected into a sphere just above her head. A red light bathed the place in an eerie glow. Black sparks popped and fizzled in the air around the sphere of blood. The blood twisted and pulled. It rippled and swelled and contracted and undulated. It moved until finally the sphere opened up. With it lay a sword with a black blade and red and gold hilt. It seemed like any other long sword, but this one sent chills down Sparrow’s spine. The blade fell quietly towards her. It called to her. It wanted her to take it by the hilt. It wanted… she wanted it… she reached out for it… it was nearly in her hand.

A sudden pressure pushed through her chest.

Sparrow looked down to see bright red blood flowing from her chest. Jack’s blade protruding from the wound. Jack standing in front of her with an unseen smile on his face.

“What a shame?” he stroked her cheek lightly, “I would have loved to have kept you. But,” he yanked the blade from her chest, “You are a reminder of Sephire’s betrayal. Therefore,” he lightly pushed her away, “you must go… everyone must go…,” he laughed as she fell into an abyss.

She fell and fell… the world… it wasn’t just darkening… it was disappearing… the life was draining from her… she fell…

She fell…

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