Watching the combined army of humans and elves storm passed me and into Clyde's house, I caught hold of Kenny's arm and held him back from following his friends. "What is it? Can't you see we have a war to win?" he snapped, making a twinge of regret shoot through me before I met his gaze. "Kenny, look: these people are capable of things even worse than what they have done to me. They created those Hunters with the virus that had turned me into a monster, if I don't put a stop to them now: they will probably try to experiment on you guys instead. But that isn't the only reason why I stopped you from going in there." I said with a hurt look on my face, causing Kenny's pissed off glare to disappear as he looked at me with concern instead.
"Saphira?" he asked as he reached out and took hold of my arm with a soft grip as I looked him in the eye again. "I abandoned Mysterion to make things right: though I can't help but feel that that was the stupidest thing I have ever done. I don't even know if he'll ever forgive me for sending those things on a murder-spree through town, but they will only go for the ones after me instead of everyone they see." I said as his cerulean eyes softened before he adjusted the bow on his back and pulled me into a hug.
"I'm sure he understands, Saphira. Sometimes, heroes have to make sacrifices for the good of others. Besides: I don't think he's mad at you, and I have a feeling he's already forgiven you." he said as he took in my slightly-tired expression before gently tugging on the wings on the back of my jacket. "Where would I be without you Kenny?" I asked with a snicker as he poked me in the ribs, only to have me snatch his wrists as he attempted to tickle me again. "Well, if you're not busy later…." he suggested with a half-teasing, half-serious look in his eyes as he tried to step closer to me.
"Don't even finish that sentence of you value your life." I teased as he laughed before I let him go. "So feisty…I like that." he flirted, making my face heat up as I reached over and smacked him upside his head, almost knocking his crown and wig off the top of his head as he cracked up laughing. "Close your eyes Kenny." I told him with a roll of my eyes as he giggled like a girl: probably thinking he was going to get a kiss or something from me. Doing as I said, he stood perfectly still with an obnoxious and perverted laugh escaping the hood of his parka as I reached into my pocket and removed the item I had hidden there.
Walking up to him, I wrapped my arms around his neck and placed the item where it was meant to be before I quickly stepped away, just as the orange-clad boy was about to snatch hold of me. 'Not today buddy.' I thought with a snicker as his shoulders drooped as he realized he had been denied what he was hoping for. "You can open your eyes now." I said as he blinked his eyes open and glanced down at what I had placed around his neck. Watching his reaction with a grin, he carefully picked up the off-white, ivory pendant that hung from a silver chain. The pendant itself was a couple inches long and about an inch wide that took the shape of a Chinese dragon. It coiled around a heart with a furious snarl on its tiny face with a pair of eyes that seemed to focus on whoever was looking at it.
As he examined it, he ran his gloved fingers over the extremely-detailed and smooth surface before glancing at me with an unsure look on his face. "Merry Christmas Kenny." I said, even though it was the day before the special holiday. "I-I don't even know what to say, nobody has ever given me a present like this before. Did you make this?" he asked as I nodded with a proud look on my face as he looked from the pendant, to me, then back at the pendant in disbelief.
"I carved it out of a Hunter's tooth, the very one I saved Mysterion from. I thought you should have it, considering you and Butters were the ones that made me feel welcome from pretty much the beginning. Besides, nobody should be alone and without a gift on Christmas." I said as his eyes welled up with grateful tears as he pulled me into a bear-hug and actually picked me up and spun me around.
"Thank you, you have no idea how much this means to me. I just wish there's something I could give you in return." he said as he let go and wiped his eyes with the hem of his white and purple dress. "You being my friend is the best gift I could ever ask for, I'm just repaying your kindness with my own. Now c'mon, we have a war to win." I said as he nodded before taking my hand in his as we ran up to the house and passed Clyde's dad, through the house, and out the sliding glass door.
Taking in the sights around me, I was shocked to find Clyde's backyard already in utter chaos: warriors of both the human and elf armies seemed to be fighting for their very lives as they punched, kicked, and just plain beat the shit out of Clyde's army. Unfortunately, the kids fighting for him were also doing their fair share of damage as the first thing I saw was poor Butters being surrounded by four intimidating Goth kids. 'I'll be DAMNED if I'm going to let anybody hurt Butters.' I thought as I shared a determined look with Kenny, who nodded and drew his bow before picking off the ones he could reach in a sniper-like fashion.
Charging forward, I jumped over a pair of clashing kids and landed protectively in front of the Paladin. "Sa-Saphira! Oh boy, am I glad to see ya!" he cheered as I leered at the opposing enemy as they snickered and nudged one another. "Look! The Freak is protecting her little boyfriend! How cute!" the biggest one jeered as the rest laughed and mocked as I felt Butters shrink back at the insults. "No, I just don't like how it takes four of you to beat up a single Paladin. If you were smart: you'd back down and surrender." I said, just as one of the smaller kids lunged forward and landed a solid punch to my jaw with the heavy brass-knuckles he wore. "Oh shit!" I heard someone gasp as the blow knocked me on my ass with a yelp.
Spitting the mouthful of blood on the snow, I stood back up and touched my split lip with my thumb. "You know…that was a good shot: not many people can land a hit like that. I give you credit kid: you can hit, thing is…I hit HARDER." I said with a sadistic smile before quite literally vanishing from sight, only to reappear as I knocked all four of them to the ground with a solid leg-sweep. Ignoring the curses and surprised yells, I dashed forward and picked two of them up and bashed their heads together before tossing them away and into the snow.
Growling to myself as one jumped on my back, I reached behind me and grabbed him by the shoulder-plates of his armor and pulled him over my head and slammed him into his friend. Once they were stunned, I jumped up and nailed both of them with a roundhouse kick that sent them scrambling away in retreat. "You okay Butters?" I asked as I took his hand in my own and helped him stand up. "I'm alright, but gee whiz Saphira: did ya HAVE to be so scary with it?" he stuttered as he brushed himself off. "Sorry, got caught up in the moment." I said sheepishly as we shared a laugh before making our way down the path towards Clyde's fortress, only to be blocked by the moat and a pair of guards standing on the opposite side.
Glaring at the two smirking guards as they raised the drawbridge, I picked up a rock and threw it at the hinges that connected the chain to the cardboard. Making contact, the chain broke, allowing gravity to pull the bridge down and let us across. "That did it! Gee Saphira, you're so smart!" Butters cheered, making me smirk at the compliment before I narrowed my eyes at the guards as they took fighting stances. "The Dark Lord will prevail!" one of them cried as he raised his purple water gun into the air, while the more intimidating one growled and flipped a switch: bringing a puddle of water to life with electricity.
'Holy shit, it looks like these kids really ARE trying to kill us.' I thought in shock before I held a hand out, halting Butters mid-step. 'This seems to be a good time to intimidate these guys.' I thought as I slipped into the Mantis stance and lowered my head, making the fabric wings on my back appear to stretch and spread out to the sides as I bent my knees and glared at the enemy. Using my pent-up anger, I watched the world around me change colors and that's how I knew my eyes were glowing orange as I completed the act by pulling my lips back over my teeth and emitted a demonic snarl: causing wet stains to immediately appear on the kids' pants as they backed up against the wall of Clyde's fortress.
"Wh-What the hell ARE you?!" the one with markings under his eyes whimpered as he tried to hide behind his weapon as his friend couldn't even talk as he shook in his boots. "Your worst nightmare." I hissed as I smiled sadistically at them before dashing forward and stopped directly in their faces, making sure they could see my unnatural eyes. "BOO!" I shouted, causing the two boys to let out the smallest of squeaks before they stumbled over each other and fell into their own trap: rendering them both defeated. Standing up straight, I pulled the switch on the small generator that had been controlling the electricity, making the way to the gate completely safe to walk over.
"Hey, Saphira!" I heard over the sounds of battle and discovered Stan waving frantically at me to get my attention. "You take The Tower from the inside! Me and the pirates are gonna scale it from the outside!" he yelled as I tossed him a thumbs-up. "Got it!" I yelled back as Butters and I stormed through the gates of the massive treehouse. The inside was even more badass-looking than the outside: if that was even possible. Only problem was…there were three of Clyde's warriors waiting for us behind a barricade while a pair of older kids dressed as Cyclops manned cannons that shot fireworks!
'Well, shit. How do we get passed these guys?' I wondered as Butters and I quickly took cover underneath the platform the Cyclops were standing on in order to avoid being hit by the exploding fireworks. 'I've been blown-up before, I just never expected them to try to use fireworks of all things. Well, at least they're being creative.' I thought humorlessly as I shared a look with the nervous paladin as I tried to come up with a plan. "I don't suppose you have any ideas?" I asked him, who stuck his tongue out as he put his chin between his thumb and pointer finger.
'That look is adorable.' I thought with a laugh, which made Butters all the more embarrassed, which was even funnier. After a few minutes of hearing an ungodly amount of fireworks explode and taunts from Clyde's warriors, Butters shrugged his shoulders with a sad look on his face. "Ah well, we'll figure something out." I said, making him brighten up instantly as I searched the room for anything we could use that would help us. Just as I was about to voice my plan to Butters, I heard a strangled gasp before both Cyclops fell from the platform and landed defeated at our feet.
"The hell?" I said in confusion as I tilted my head in order to see what caused the two kids to fall. I didn't see the cause at first, only when I saw the dark-purple and black figure dart across the platform did I realize that Alex had snuck in from a higher-positioned window and knocked out the Cyclops with 'sleep darts' that turned out to be suction-cup bullets from a Nerf gun. Spotting me looking at him, Alex smirked devilishly at me before putting his blade away. "Good job, Little Thief. Do you think you could take out the barricade for me?" I asked as he tore his gaze from me, to the barricade and the Dark Warriors behind it, and then back to me before he nodded.
It wasn't until I glanced back at Butters did I hear loud explosions and screaming kids. Fearing that Blackwatch found us, I took a defensive stance and prepared to tear apart whoever had the nerve to threaten my friends. When nothing happened, I looked up and found Alex manning one of the firework cannons and used it to break apart the barricade and defeat the three kids standing behind it. I almost couldn't take my eyes off my baby brother: his upper face was hidden by the black shadows of his hood, there was no fear in his normally-shy stance, and his costume and his eyes took on a hellish gleam each time the fireworks shot out of the makeshift cannon.
'My God, he almost looks like…' I couldn't even finish the thought as his face suddenly broke out into a bloodthirsty grin as the large rockets made the kids dance and dodge like they were doing the River dance. "Alex! Alex stop!" I yelled as I jumped up onto the platform and tried to get him away from the cannon, only to get an elbow to the throat as soon as my hands made contact with his shoulders. For a split second, I thought I was going to suffocate before the virus repaired my crushed windpipe, allowing me to breathe and leap up off my back and grab hold of Alex again.
Alex, that's enough! You can stop now: they're done fighting." I tried to reason as I saw his grin get bigger: showing off his teeth as the flames from the cannon made both of us look like demons of the worst kind. "No." he snarled, making a shocked look appear on my face before it turned horrified as I realized I wasn't dealing with my sweet baby brother at that moment: I was dealing with the result of Gentek's torment. 'That's why that look is SO familiar…he looks like me!' I thought as his right hand slipped from the cannon and gripped his metal blade before whirling around and swinging it at me.
"Shit." I hissed as he nicked me in the side, drawing a thin trail of blood through a small slit in my body suit. "Saphira, look out!" Butters yelled as Alex charged me again with the intent to drive that blade in my neck, only to miss as I dropped to the floor and roll out of the way. "I don't want to hurt you Alex: we aren't THERE anymore so there's no reason for this." I tried to reason as I continued to dodge and duck under his terrifyingly good aim: it was like I was fighting a professional blade wielder instead of my six year old brother.
"There's plenty reason, dear sister. The main one being you! If YOU weren't here: this would be SO much more fun! I wonder how many shades of red I could find around here, but with you here to keep me from finding out: to keep everyone safe, I can't set myself free!" he snapped as he placed a well-aimed kick to my stomach, making me stumble back with a dry cough. 'Holy shit! He's gone off the deep end!' I thought as I was knocked on my back as he pounced on me and tried to drive that threatening blade of his in my chest. "Hang on, buddy!" Butters yelled as he tried to find a ladder or something to help him climb up to where we were.
"Goddamnit Alex! Snap the fuck out of it!" I yelled as I placed my feet on his belly and roughly pushed him off and away from me. "You know, big sis: Clyde was right. We totally should have joined his side: we belong on the Dark Side after all. But since you're too much of a goody-two-shoes to accept that, looks like it's bye-bye for the almighty 'Savior', what a fine sacrifice you will make to the Dark Lord." he said maniacally as he tried to swipe at me again, only to have me catch his wrist and spin him around so his back was against my stomach and his arms were restrained.
"You need to stop and you need to do it NOW. This isn't how my baby brother is and you know it, so get over this little tantrum of yours before someone seriously gets hurt." I warned as he gave a loud, mocking laugh as he turned his head enough to glare at me. "Tantrum?! HA! Why the hell are you denying the inevitable, Saphira? You know everyone deserves to die for what they did to us! So why not start with the easy pickings?!" he questioned, making my eyes grow to the size of saucers as I realized what he meant. "No, Alex. I know you don't really think that." I pleaded, only to freeze as I watched with numb horror as Alex's hazel eyes took on an eerie, emerald-green glow.
"Then you don't know me, at all." he growled as he dashed forward and tried to run me through with his blade that had some type of poison dripping from the blade. Stepping to the side, I was barely-able to dodge his attack and sweep him off his feet, only to have him jump back up and ram his shoulder into my stomach, knocking me in a backwards roll that sent us both out of one of the windows. Unfortunately, the momentum sent my lighter sibling further out and away from anything for him to grab hold of. Thinking quickly, I grabbed onto the windowsill with my left hand and his foot with my right.
What happened next would forever haunt my nightmares among the hundreds of screams already tormenting my mind: the force of my halting his fall made him swing backwards and slam into the side of Clyde's treehouse: where a dull 'crack' followed by an ear-shattering shriek took over the sounds of battle two stories below. With a gasp, I took in the pained face of Alex as he stared at me with pained eyes. "Saphira! My arm's broken: help me up!" he whined, making me hesitate as I noticed his eyes were still glowing, before he raised his head enough for me to look him in the eye. "Saphy, please…I'm your brother!" he pleaded, which was more than enough for me as I struggled to pull both of us back up and inside the safety of the treehouse.
However, as soon as Alex had his grip on one of the red spikes on the small tower, I heard him snicker as he sneered at me with a pure evil look on his shadowed face as he used that moment to swipe at me with the poisoned blade he had somehow gotten in his mouth. I was so shocked he was actually TRYING to take my life, that I couldn't say a word as the cardboard spike he was holding onto detached from the weak tape holding it in place from the rest of the tower.
At the dull sound of tape separating from cardboard, Alex's face changed into a look pf pure shock and horror as his weight caused him to fall backwards and tumble down the face of the fortress: his terrified screams echoing loudly before coming to a sudden halt as a loud splash was heard. "ALEX!" I screamed as I furiously searched the ground for him, only to spot him floating on one of the inflatable alligators at the bottom of the moat. As fearful tears streamed down my face, my plan to leap down to my brother was cut short as a loud, half-assed evil laugh echoed through the hallways around me.
'Clyde…YOU put him up to this, you son of a bitch.' I thought in rage as I glared through my tears toward the direction the laugh was coming from. Ripping Alex's poisoned dagger from its place in the purple cardboard, I climbed through the window and stormed past the destroyed foyer toward my new target: not sparing the worried paladin a single glance as vengeance drove me to end this Tyrant's reign…once and for all.