In the Shadow of the Mask

Bathed In Light

Sparrow refused to move. She would not give up the peace that she had found. Calm. Serenity. Peace. Love. They filled her. No jeering words could enter her mind or heart.

“You think that you are above reproach? You are a god because three dead Heroes give you a sword that was foolish attempt to match the power of the Sword of Aeons? It is an inferior blade of this world and nothing or no one of this pathetic place can defeat me,” he growled, “William Black the first of the so called Heroes only shattered my body. The Hero of Oakvale only scattered me across the wind. What do you… with such diluted blood of my servant… can do against me with a blade forged by the hands of man?” his laughter filled the cavern.

“That is what makes her strong,” a familiar voice whispered, “She is so far from the impurities that made me obey you. She is the means of your banishment. She is the light that will brandish away the shadow that you cast upon this world. She is the peace that will reign over this place when you are gone. She is…,” the voice peaked, “Sparrow the Lionhearted!”

Sparrow raised her golden blade and rushed towards Jack.

He started to move to deflect her attack, but he was so slow. She spread her feathery wings and she lifted off the ground. She shot at him like an arrow. She was an arrow of pure light. She would pierce the darkness that had hung over her… over her family… over Albion...

Jack brought down his black blade as the tip of hers touched his chest.

She did not smile. She did not laugh. This was not a time to gloat. It was not a time to claim victory.

“There is only peace… there is only love… let only light fill me,” she closed her eyes as the blade penetrated Jack’s armor.

They stood there, just staring into each other’s eyes. His eyes were still the same reddish hue, but they did not seem as bright as they were. He held his sword, the one that he had split so much blood over, in mid swing. It gently rested on Sparrow’s shoulder. Though there was no mouth on Jack’s mask, it still seemed to smirk.

Stepping back, Jack pulled himself from the golden sword. Not a hint of blood tarnished it. No bright red blood spurted or gushed from the open wound. He was like a void… there was nothing inside.

“You have hurt me,” he whispered.

His body began to crack and splinter. His armor rusted and dropped away as if it was aging all at once. His red hooded cloak unraveled and disappeared into an unseen wind. The remains of his broken body turned to dust and shifted to the floor. It too was taken away by the unseen wind. His prized sword hung for a moments in the air, but soon gave in to gravity and flew to the floor with a dull clank. It did not bounce, but stuck to the ground and refused to move.

Only his unblinking mask remained floating in the air. There were no red staring eyes. There was not unseen smirk. It was just a mask… a mask of white and red.

Sparrow… it called to her… take your prize… you have earned it… take the mask and become immortal… take it… take it… take it… it started to demand.

Sparrow could feel her hand starting to raise, but was gently pulled back down. She looked to her side. The smiling face of Aja met hers. She was surrounded in a beautiful golden light. Snowy white wings hung around her. Blue patterns lay on her body and even shone through her white draped clothing. She was Aja, but now she seemed so… celestial…

Sparrow looked to herself. She was back to normal. The blue lines had just started to fade and her feathery wings retreated into her back. She still held the Avo’s Tear. It blade glistened in the lite glow.

“It is yours to keep,” Aja smiled as she took hold of the still floating mask, “You have proven your worth and earned this wondrous blade. With it,” she gave a small bow, “there is no enemy that could stand against you.”

Sparrow brought up the sword that she earned through her death. It felt right in her hands. It was light and fitted her hand like it was made for her. It was a symbol of light and purity. It was a weapon that would take the darkness away. She could become the greatest Hero to have ever lived with it by her side.

She smiled, “No… this is meant to be for those that need it the most,” she threw the golden sword off into the abyss, “I don’t need it anymore.”

Aja smiled, “Oh child,” she went to hug her.

The ground started to shake and the ceiling started to fall.

“The place is collapsing!” Sparrow looked to the gate, “We have to leave now!”

She just stood there with a smile on her face. There was no hint of worry or dread as the ceiling started to fall in.

“Go my little Sparrow,” she raised her hand, “There is still much I must do here,” a light came forth from her.

Sparrow reached out to her, but the light engulfed her. It consumed her body and she felt so light. Like she was floating on a cloud. It was all she could see, but it did not burn and it did not hurt her eyes. It enveloped her and cradled her… much like her sister use to during the cold winter nights in the back alleys of Bowerstone.

“Sparrow,” a sweet little voice called out to her.

“Who?” she looked around, “… Rose…?” a little figure stood before her.

It was the little girl in the red hood that was with Scythe. Slowly she reached up and pulled down the hood that covered her face in a shadow.

“Rose…,” her heart skipped a beat as she fell to her knees.

“Oh my little Sparrow,” Rose came up to her, “It’s been too long,” she threw her arms around Sparrow’s neck.

“Rose,” she pulled her close, “I… I… I’m so sorry…,” tears started to stream down her face.

“For what?” she smiled as she wiped away Sparrow’s tears.

“For not being able to save you,” Sparrow hung her head.

“Sparrow,” she place her hands on her cheeks and lifted her head up, “You should have no regrets about that night. What happened, happened. I died with no grievances against you… or Lucien,” she smiled, “Where he found darkness, you found light. Where he found pain, you found strength. Where he found torture, you found peace. I couldn’t be prouder of my little sister. Though you and I were so young, we still managed to hold on to the goodness that our parents instilled in us. Though you saw…,” she placed her hand over her chest, “my death right before your eyes, you still fought not for revenge, but for justice. Rage never blinded you. Greed never took you. Hatred refused to stay in your heart. Little sister… I’m so proud of you,” she started to fade away.

“No,” Sparrow held out her hand, but touched nothing.

“Sparrow!?” John suddenly caught her.

“John?” she suddenly realized that she was outside.

“Are you okay?” he held her close, “All of a sudden, the Cullis Gate collapsed up there,” he indicated to the crumbling tall hill, “and so did the island out there,” the stone building in the center of the lake had fallen, “We started to rush towards the Gate, but then a light appeared before us and you materialized.”

“What about Jack? Did you defeat him? Is he crushed underneath the rubble of the Hero’s Guild?” Hannah started to ask a thousand question.

“What about my aunt? Did you see her? She disappeared into a luminous light and I don’t know where she’s gone off to,” John looked worried.

“Let the girl speak,” Garth interrupted them.

“Yes,” Reaver snorted, “Please tell us if we have more to do or if I can return to my beloved Bloodstone and regain my ill-gotten riches.”

They all looked to her, waiting for her response. She looked to each one.

Taking in a deep breath, she released it slowly, “Jack has been… he is where he should be,” she felt a peace in her heart as she spoke.

“Yes my dear Sparrow,” a voice filled the air around them.

The Heroes moved closer together, anticipating a fight. Sparrow one smiled. She was glad to hear her voice again.

“Be calm Heroes,” a light formed just off shore, “This is a time of peace. The shadow of Jack has been banished from this place,” it started to take form.

Two feathery wings spread out and a figure in a silver and gold robe stood before them, hovering just above the calm waters. Light blue lines twisted and turned and pulsed with the purest form of Will. A black sword the shone with a reddish gleamed hung from her left hip. A mask of white and red hung from her right hip. She smiled gently down at the group.

“Aja… it’s good to see you,” Sparrow couldn’t help but shed a tear.

“Auntie?” John was confused by her appearance.

“Yes my dear godchild,” she smiled to him, “Sparrow,” she looked to her, “I can’t thank you enough for all that you have done… because of you I have been freed from the darkness of my heart… I can’t remember everything from before Jack… but I can remember… Seraphim,” she suddenly remembered, “… my name… is Seraphim… You’ve given me back a piece of myself… given this world a glimmer of hope…”

“I didn’t…” she started to say as her cheeks turned red.

“You have exiled a dark being from this world,” she continued, “All of Albion has you to thank, though they do not know the true peril they were in. You and your friends… and Reaver,” she smirked, “have proven that Heroes are still needed. The world still needs Heroes… they were a beacon of light in the past… but they forgot that and soon forgot to fight for it… one must fight for the light to keep the dark shadows at bay… the light… It burns within all of you,” she raised her hands to the sky.

The glow that surrounded her intensified and burned brighter than the sun. It started to break and flutter off.

“Amazing,” John couldn’t help but whisper.

The light broke away and hundreds of fluttering wings surrounded them. Silver and gold butterflies dance about to an unheard song. They swayed and lightly kissed their faces with their wings. They started to float up into the sky and leave the world behind. One pulled from the group and landed on Sparrow’s nose.

My dear Sparrow, Aja whispered into her ears, be the beacon of light and hope that this world needs. Bare this not alone… share the light with in you and spread it to all that you meet. The world you build now, will change everything that is to come…

The single butterfly gently lifted away and joined the others. They fluttered off out of sight, until not a trace of them could be found. A single tear rolled down Sparrow’s cheek.

“Are you crying Reaver?” John pointed out.

“Yes,” he sniffed, “Even I can appreciate beautiful sights.”

They all nodded in agreement. Aja had left them with the most wondrous of visions. She had left them with words of wisdom. She had… left them.

Sparrow looked to John. Though there was a smile on his face, there was a sadness in his heart. She knew that she didn’t have to say anything. She just needed to take his hand in hers. He looked to her and smiled. It would take some time for him to grieve over his losses, but a soft shoulder to lean on and a loving ear would ease the pain over time. They drew close. Their warmth filled each other and it was all they wanted. Their lips lightly touched and their cheeks turned red. It was a bright sunny day. It was a good day for a new beginning.

“Woof,” Sparrow faithful companion barked up at them.

“What is it boy,” Sparrow bent down to him.

He placed his mouth over her hand and dropped something into it.

“What is it?” Hannah asked as everyone looked over her shoulders.

It was an old pipe that had been used many times. The tip had been bit down on and the well was dark with soot and ash. It was somewhat chipped and scratched from the years of use. On the side there was a name etched into it.

“Aja…,” Sparrow held the old pipe tightly to her chest as tears flowed from her eyes.


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