Pathway to Sydara: Guardian of the Gate

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XXXII

General Draton was wandering through the corridors of the Rillen Castle when Wyan ran into him. “First of all, let me tell you how much of a moron you are,” said the soldier as he approached Draton in the manner of a mother storming to scold a child. “You should be dead; I should be dead. Our whole army should be dead, but you thought it was the best time to fight that Vidian brute….”

Wyan face became softer. “But I suppose miracles happen everyday. So second of all, let me tell you how glad I am that you’re alive.”

Draton grinned as the two clasped hands and embraced. “I think Sarben loves us.”

Wyan made a wry face. “Aye, as much as he loves a Vidian,” he added dryly.

The general continued his walk with his oldest companion by his side. He had been exploring to learn all about the status of their situation. There were hundreds of injured men being cared for as best as could be managed while hundreds of other men were taking part in the melancholy job of burning the corpses that littered the city. The whole castle was a bustle of unenthusiastic energy as people darted back and forth through the corridors on their tasks. Draton had yet to find a single corridor that was completely empty.

He found his mind wandering as much as his body was. Memories of his life up to this point surfaced inside. He had been a young boy training to be a merchant under his father until his father died of a heart attack. It was that moment that he had hesitantly decided on the career of a soldier. What else could he do? He had become orphaned with no other family that he knew of.

As he grew, he saw that there was nothing else he would rather do. Wyan had been the first friend he made among the other recruits. They had both developed their idealism of becoming the best soldiers they could be to explore the world and protect the weak.

Recently, when he had first learned of Virok’s betrayal, he was shocked. Virok had once been the model of what a great Sargenian soldier should be like, but now the world knew it had always been a ruse. It infuriated Draton just thinking about it, but he knew it was partially thanks to the traitor that he was raised to the rank of general. He had become what he had aimed to be most of his life.

But his first battle was an extremely narrow victory.

“So what do you think about the Treemen, Draton?” Wyan’s voice broke him from his thoughts.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, sure I’m grateful for their help in this battle, but this is my first time actually seeing them. Up until this point they had just been some old story my mother used to tell me. It’s hard to believe what I’m seeing when I see them inside our walls. All tattooed and covered in tree bark. It’s strange….”

Draton had never seen a Treeman before either, but he tried to ignore their abnormal appearances. Now that the enemy army had been expelled from the city, the Treemen were offered refuge inside the city walls—or what remained of the city walls. The damage to the city had been great, biuldings burned down, bloodstained streets, debris and various items everywhere, but as long as there were soldiers in the city, Draton refused to abandon it. “As long as they are fighting on our side, I could care less if they were fighting naked.”

That gave Wyan a grin. “Thanks for the image.”

“You’re welcome.”

Eventually, a messanger found him, a skinny young man with a growing beard wearing a blue doublet bearing the Sargenian sun. “Hail, Sir General Draton,” he said as he bowed his head. “I have a message for you from His Majesty, King Farli Isonil and Professor Alavar.”

Draton knew that it wouldn’t be too long before he would be called to report to somewhere. Through an open window in the corridor, he could see the quickly setting sun. It had truly been a long day. “Thank you,” he replied. “What is the message?”

“King Farli, King Nari, and their advisors are calling for a meeting in half an hour in the throne room. They ask for your presence and assistance in deciding on the next course of action for our army and for the next step in the journey of the Nizain.”

You mean watch them argue and wait for Alavar to make the final decisions, thought Draton. Ever since they had left Salras, the Professor had kept a tight grip on everything that was happening. The old man had suggested both the ideas of leading the army to Zaria and forming the Nizain Guardians. He seemed to be more than he appeared, and Draton was sure he had plenty of secrets that would never be revealed. But just like his view on the Treemen, as long as Alavar was on their side, he wouldn’t complain. “Thank you for the message,” he told the messenger. “I will be there soon.”

The messenger gave another bow of his head and left as quickly as he arrived, most likely delivering more messages.

“Looks like duty calls,” said Draton, turning to Wyan.

“It’s the life of a Sargenian general,” replied Wyan with one of his wry faces.

They continued together as Wyan chose to stay with Draton until they reached the throne room. Outside of the throne room, Draton saw a familiar group. Nizain Ziaxe stood in corridor beside the throne room’s large double doors with his Guardians and the other people that Draton had seen him with but didn’t know. They were all talking amongst each other, recounting all that had happened to them during the battle. There was Professor Alavar, Duchess Sara Salrasa, and the two other Guardians called Javen and Gurgan. Also, there was the young blonde-haired boy and the large bearded man that had joined the army in Salras.

He watched Nizain Ziaxe talking with the others. The boy was young and had a visible anxiousness about him. Whenever Draton looked at him, he instantly doubted that the boy was actually the Nizain. It seemed impossible. The boy didn’t have the right presence that Draton always assumed a Nizain would have. There was the certain feeling one felt in the presence of a king or someone of high status that told them that this person was extremely important.

But that was not the case with this Nizain. Draton knew his story. He was some Beranian peasant before he got the Power of the Nizain. That was a relatable story. Draton had often thought about the similarities between himself and the boy. They had both risen to an important position in this army, though the Nizain had risen a lot quicker.

He remembered watching the Nizain summon his legendary weapons in Salras. That was what made Draton truly believe. He couldn’t begin to imagine what it was like to wield that much power especially at such a young age. A feeling of sympathy rose inside him.

Once more, Draton told himself that this boy was something special, and he swore that he would do whatever he can to protect him in the times yet to come.

“Hail, Nizain Ziaxe,” he greeted as he approached the group and bowed before the boy. Wyan went off on his own from there.

“Hail, General Draton,” replied the Nizain, clearly uncomfortable.

Draton was sure there was plenty going through the boy’s mind, so he didn’t want to worry him any more. “I must apologize for not being by your side during this battle, your Holiness. But I am glad to see that you are still with us. Next time I swear I will be a better Guardian.”

“It’s fine, General.” Ziaxe showed it in his face that he didn’t like being worshipped and having people take care of him, but that was the way of the world when you were the Nizain.

“General Draton, it has been a good fight.” Alavar entered the conversation, clasping Draton’s hand with a joyfull smile.

“It has indeed.” If you believe being this close to death is a “good fight.”

“In this meeting, we will be discussing our next steps in this war. I’ve already taken the liberty of adding two new Guardians who have a close connection with Ziaxe. I trust them as much as the others, and they have shown their valor in battle.”

Alavar turned to the blonde-haired boy and the bearded man. “Allow me to introduce you to Sastan and Orlen. They will be our sixth and seventh members of the Nizain Guardians.”

I see that the decision of members falls on you and you alone then, thought Draton. A part of him was irritated by that, but he understood that Alavar had truly become a man of a status equal to the kings. “It is an honor to meet you. Sastan. Orlen.” He shook both of their hands.

“The honor is ours, General,” replied Sastan with an unbelievably great smile. Orlen also gave the same reply, but he was more humble than his companion.

“I hope you have no complaints on these additions, Draton,” said Alavar. “Our Nizain needs companionship during these hard times.”

Draton understood the reasons. Being with some of his friends would keep the Nizain from suffering under the stress that had been put upon him. No normal person would ever feel the same pressure that the Nizain would feel in his lifetime. “I trust your judgement, Professor. Now, let us continue with this meeting.”

The throne room was crowded and stuffy as people were led inside. A long table was set at the center of the room, stretching from the base of the dais to the halfway point of the room. A variety of Sargenian and Zarian warriors and officials stood on the left side in one big herd while the Treemen soldiers stood in a smaller herd on the right. The seats at the table were for the Nizain, his Guardians, and other important leaders. Everyone was still garbed in the armor and weapons they had just fought with, covered in blood stains and sweat.

Nizain Ziaxe took the seat in between Alavar and Draton while his other Guardians sat alongside them, taking up a portion of the left side of the table. There was Javen, Sastan, Sara, Orlen, all but Gurgan who stood hooded amongst the Sargenian soldiers. At the head of the table sat King Nari of Zaria with Princess Melna and King Farli on the ends of the table. King Farli looked exhausted with visible bandages around his torso. The elderly Duke of Draslo sat beside King Farli with his general, a large, muscular man named Mican, beside him.

While everyone was bustling to find their places, all eyes were on their last guests. They were the people that Ziaxe prominently remembered from the Treemen Forest. The only Treemen to sit at the table were the old, frail-looking Chief Jajarath and the Treeman who had captured Ziaxe before, Najaran. Ziaxe had met eyes with Najaran, but he couldn’t read what the other was thinking. Najaran seemed neither happy nor angry nor sad to be helping a foreign country.

Chief Jajarath stayed the same mystery as he had been in the Treemen Forest. His blindfolded eyes, incredibly long white beard, and haggard breathing made him look impossibly old. Ziaxe watched the old man stare at nothing as his blind eyes faced the table in front of him. Memories of the words Jajarath had given him before floated in his mind. The Great Darkness is approaching… and you must guide all of the Kingdoms of Light.

“Let us begin this meeting!” King Nari’s voice broke through the rabble of the crowds. Everyone became silent instantly. The King of Zaria turned to Alavar a few seats down. “Professor Alavar, if you will,” he said with a gesture.

“Of course, your Majesty,” replied Alavar as he stood, making all eyes turn to him. “My good people of Sargenia, Zaria, and the Treemen Forest, as you all know we have won an important victory here today! We have defeated the Darkness on its first attack, allowing us to delay its future actions if even by a day. I speak for all of us Sargenians and Zarians when I say, ‘Thank you, Treemen. We are in your debt for your assistance in this battle.’”

Chief Jajarath let a small smile on his face, and the Treemen behind him let out a cheer in their native language. The Sargenians and Zarians also joined in the cheer after a moment of hesitation. Ziaxe could tell that there were still suspicions about the Treemen, but at a time like this, no one could do anything but celebrate their survival.

“You are welcome… my neighbors and companions,” said Jajarath in his weak voice. The cheers died quickly as everyone strained to hear what was being said. “I believe we must act… as one in this…. The Darkness threatens… both of our lands…. The Treemen will therefore… continue to give you aid….”

Another cheer shook the room.

Alavar raised a hand for silence. “Aye, this is a proud moment in both of our histories…. But we are not yet done I am afraid.” He took a deep breath. “I believe that the Army of Darkness will strike again as soon as they can. We should be safe for the night at least. Not even Virok would be foolish enough to throw his men right back into battle after the struggle we had today. But there is no guarantee about tomorrow or the days to follow.

“Virok will continue to grow his army with reinforcements from the Dremuns and Yasson Harvorens. We may have won today, but at this rate his men will only continue to overwhelm ours. We are sitting ducks here as he has cut us off from our potential companions. We have no way of getting trustworthy messages to the Mintonite Harvorens for aid with Virok’s Army in our way.

“I offer a plan now to help our army grow. We must continue to unite all of the Ancient Kingdoms of Sarbenia by joining our might with Ravilla.”

King Nari scoffed. “You think they can actually help us? For years they have struggled to maintain any form of independence as the Dremuns continue to bombard them. It will probably only get worse as this war continues.”

“Then we must help them!” Alavar looked over the crowds around him. “I dream of the unification of Sarbenia! This can only be achieved when each of our three kingdoms are made safe and strong once more. The Sargenians have already come here to help the Zarians, and we have only grown stronger from this experience.”

The old Duke of Draslo spoke up then with a voice almost as soft as Jajarath’s. “What you suggest is an honorable idea, Alavar, but I must say it is also foolish. You want to send men to Ravilla to gain their assistance, leaving Rillen a few men weaker. What if the Ravillas deny us?”

“They will not deny us!” Alavar’s eyes were wide with enthusiasm. It reminded Ziaxe of Alavar’s old stories back in Berania. Alavar was a naturally speech giver with charisma and smarts. “Just like our friends, the Treemen, they will know that this Army of Darkness threatens all of our lands. They are not foolish enough to sit and wait for the Darkness to come to them.”

“And who do you propose to do this recruitment?” chimed in King Farli, one hand at his side as his face betrayed the pain of his injuries. “I trust my soldiers with my life, but not just anybody will know the way to Ravilla safely and quickly.”

“I’m glad you asked, your Majesty.” Alavar gave a grin. “It will be our Holy Nizain Ziaxe! He has already come here and inspired the people to fight. In dire times such as this, Sarben’s legendary warrior will help give the world confidence in the face of the Darkness.”

Ziaxe felt all the eyes turn to him. He felt that the faces were judging just as many faces have done before. This time though he knew what they were thinking. None of the soldiers on the front lines had seen the Nizain in combat. While Ziaxe was busy on personal matters inside the city, people were dying to protect the city. Some of the faces were seeing him as some coward who hid throughout the battle while others must have begun thinking that he was a hoax.

But no one could easily fight Alavar’s persuasion. The crowds murmured in a mix of dubiousness and agreement.

“Wait one moment, Professor.” This time it was General Draton entering the conversation. He stood, making Ziaxe feel small in his seat between Draton and Alavar. “The Nizain should be where the situation is the most desperate! He should stay here where the fighting is to help our army! Sarben knows his Power will surely come in handy.”

Alavar sighed and looked down at the table. “I’m sorry to say this, but despite this victory….” he took a long pause, carefully considering his words. “We must consider the possibility that Rillen will not survive much longer.”

The Sargenian and Zarian crowds erupted in outrage, screaming about Alavar speaking blasphemy and being a traitor. The Treemen crowd stayed silent. Ziaxe knew then that the Treemen recognized the situation better than the soldiers who had been fighting before them. Of course they would. It didn’t take a genius to see that before the Treemen had arrived the battle was lost. The Treemen didn’t want to admit it, but that was obviously what was going on in their minds.

“Alavar!” yelled King Nari over the roar of his people. “Enough of that talk! I would never allow my capital to fall again to any army!”

The Zarian Knights cheered for their king, but it wasn’t enough to stop Alavar. Draton had returned to his seat, knowing that he didn’t want to be involved in this argument. “I apologize, your Majesty,” he continued, his voice barely audible over the crowds, “but I must suggest this. Our army must make a gradual retreat from this city. We cannot continue to battle a greater army and lose more soldiers that could be better use elsewhere.”

“I don’t care what the world says, Alavar! You’re a fool! A king would never abandon his castle as long as he can still stand!”

“Enough!” King Farli’s voice broke through the chaos. The voices all faded away as Farli slowly stood from his seat. One hand still held his side, but other than that he refused to look weak as he stood up straight and tall. “I agree with Alavar.”

“Farli, I will not allow this!” King Nari continued his shouts. “You wouldn’t understand! I have lived here my whole life! I have already seen it fall before! I—”

“You don’t think I understand?” Farli spoke softly with a strictness that demanded everyone’s attention. “I may have been king for only a little while, but I have already gone through more than most kings can say they have. I have lost my family, I have lost my home that was claimed to be one of the strongest cities in the world, I have been betrayed by a general who my father had always trusted in. You don’t think I understand lose? You don’t think I wanted to take all of my army and go straight to Berania instead of coming here?”

The room was silent with a palpable tension. No one dared to move. “A city is city, King Nari. Keep the memories of it strong in your mind, and it will survive long after it falls. It is no use risking more lives on a city that has already been infiltrated.”

Everything stayed silent as everyone took in the King of Sargenia’s words. Farli returned to his seat as soft murmurs began amongst all crowds. They sounded more like agreements now to Ziaxe.

The words seemed to affect King Nari after all. The fat man gave a groan. “I don’t like it, but I will agree for now. Only time will tell in the end, however. Even if we must retreat, I will do whatever I can to take back my city when the time comes. Even if I have to kill Virok myself.”

The Zarian Knights liked that as their fresh cheer showed.

King Farli let a small smile show. “Now that that’s settled, can you tell us who you plan to go to Ravilla with the Nizain, Alavar? Just him and his Guardians?”

“Aye, your Majesty,” replied Alavar, letting his smile show that he was glad things were going his way. “We will head out in our small group more swiftly than we would be able to with the army. We will head east and take a ship south from Sandron. It will be safer overseas than over land with the Demons and Vidians crawling around. I will continue my position as a Guardian, and I hope that the others will as well.” Alavar turned to the other Guardians, and everyone saw the cue.

“I, Draton, will continue to guard the Nizain with my life.”

“I, Sara Salrasa, will continue to fulfill this duty for the honor of the Salrasa family.”

“I, Javen and my fellow warrior Gurgan, will continue to watch over the Nizain.”

“I, Sastan, will accept this duty and see it until the end.”

“I, Orlen, will accept this duty and protect the Nizain as if he was my kin.”

Ziaxe had to smile, seeing all of his companions swearing to stay by his side. He hoped he wouldn’t regret letting them fight with him.

“Excuse me… Professor Alavar.” Chief Jajarath spoke up. “I wish to add… another to this company… to represent the Treemen…. I offer the service… of my loyal warrior Najaran….”

Najaran was visibly shocked at the declaration. “My lord, I-I’m not worthy of such an honor.”

“Najaran… you have become like a son to me…. I trust you to represent the Treemen with great honor….”

The other Treeman looked on the verge of tears at the joy he must have been feeling. He turned to Ziaxe. “Will you accept me, your Holiness?”

Ziaxe looked to Alavar, but Alavar gave him no nod or gesture of any kind. It was a decision that he had to make on his own. The Nizain should have a say in his Guardians. “I will, Lord Najaran.”

“Thank you, your Holiness,” replied Najaran with a bow of his head. “I will serve you to the best of my abilities.”

“And so, the Guardians are eight!” announced Alavar.

The room cheered. They all felt the significance of this simple conversation. This was a moment that would be told in stories and legends in the far future. The world would one day know all about Nizain Ziaxe and his Guardians.

“Now that that’s settled, I believe you had one more piece of business to discuss, Alavar,” said Farli, returning the attention of the room to the table.

“Aye, one more thing.” Alavar returned his gaze to the crowds. “It has come to my attention that a dangerous Witch has been roaming our kingdoms. She was in Rillen during this battle, and our courageous Nizain Ziaxe did battle with her. It was all for naught, however, as the Witch ran away like the coward she is. You may all have heard of this accused woman. Her name is Bellavar. She was the Witch who saved Vician in that legendary Battle of Berania.”

Murmurs began anew as people spoke in wonder. Everyone knew of the Witch who stole away Vician before the Great King Broniton Isonil could finish his fatal strike.

“This Witch is planning an impossible plot to bring the monstrous Vician back into this world. We will not allow this to happen though. That is why, as of today, the Kingdoms of Sargenia and Zaria will offer a large gold reward for the capture or death of Bellavar. Her mission may be foolish, but her presence her threatens our safety. She must be dealt with by whoever wishes to deal with her while the rest of our army deals with Virok’s more immediate threats.”

This was the first time Ziaxe had heard about this reward. He wasn’t sure how he felt about it. Alavar was lying about Bellavar’s plot being impossible, but he did that to keep the army’s morale high. The Army of Light would see this war as futile if Vician was returning. Ziaxe was also grateful at the lies about his battle with Bellavar. He didn’t need the army knowing that he had almost died already.

“Well, now that we know our next steps,” said King Farli, drawing the room’s attention once more, “I have one more piece of news to divulge the room in before we all go off to a well-deserved rest.”

Ziaxe saw that along with the room, he was watching the king, curious of what else could be said. He hoped against all hope that they were done with any bad news for the night.

“I have been in discussion with King Nari, and I have reached an agreement between our two kingdoms. Once the enemy is expelled from our kingdoms and the war is over, I shall wed the beautiful Princess Melna.”

The crowds were filled with gasps and exclamations of shock and surprise, but Ziaxe knew better. Between the façade that Farli was wearing, the words were a struggle for the king to say. Farli must have been biting back other words he would have liked to say. It was a proposal to wed two kingdoms not two people. Farli had told Ziaxe himself about how he could care less about the people as long as he would one day be able to be with the mysterious Sargen woman, Salandra.

Princess Melna was the most shocked amongst them all. Her eyes were wide and she fidgeted with her hair and hands. Her face was pure confusion. Why would Farli say a proposal now of all times? It was all a show, Ziaxe realized. A show for the people. Something to get his followers to forget the sorrow of war for a few moments. The low classes were known to enjoy the social and political lives of the higher classes.

“My, oh my, King Farli,” said King Nari as he chuckled, his big belly heaving under his armor. “I knew you’d come around. It will be the biggest event either of our kingdoms have experienced in thousands of years! The wedding to unite two kingdoms! There will be a feast that will last all day, and neverending dancing!”

Everyone cheered at the excitement. Ziaxe had to smile despite it all. Even if Farli didn’t care for the princess, he was willing—at least begrudgingly—to do the best thing for his kingdom.

“Such a wonderful announcement, your Majesty!” announced Alavar above the crowd. “Now I believe that ends our meeting! Everyone rest and be ready for the hard days to come. But, remember, the Light of Sarben shines bright on all of us. With His almighty help we will defeat the Darkness!”

That was the best news Ziaxe had heard all day.

While the Zarian capital slept a hard-earned sleep, Kron strode further and further away, a shadow hidden in the Darkness of the night. A crescent moon shone down upon him alongside several blinking stars. The night was silent and still, the only noise coming from Kron’s tears as they fell to the grass.

His old life was over. It truly was. He looked back at the city now almost out of eyesight, seeing the faces of Ziaxe and Venna floating beside it. Then he looked at his bare hands, at the Darkness that was now as much a part of him as his arms and legs. A part of him told him how foolish he was. He should return and help his oldest friend.

But no… how could he help a friend when he couldn’t help himself. At any moment, he could succumb to the Darkness and turn into one of those monsters. And besides, Ziaxe had other friends now, people of the Light who would always be by his side. He thought of the young smiling boy Sastan in particular.

Ziaxe and Venna don’t need me, he thought. I’m a danger to everyone…. I almost helped Bellavar kill him….

He couldn’t deny the anger he had been feeling towards Ziaxe over the last several weeks. It began with Ziaxe escaping from Berania without telling anyone where he was going or that he was the new Nizain. Kron thought that they had shared enough secrets to be able to share details like that. He would never betray Ziaxe to another willingly.

His mind returned to the plains he walked. Where was he even going? There was no place for him. If he left Ziaxe behind where else was there? He had always dreamed of being a soldier alongside Ziaxe, even thinking that just fighting with Kycan and Srion by his side would be fine. But Virok had ruined all of that. The bastard had taken everything Kron had lived his life by and destroyed it as if it was a bug in his palm.

A sudden sound broke the silence, a crunch of the hard earth. “Oh, I’m sorry. Am I interrupting your brooding?”

The Witch. “Go away.”

Bellavar appeared, exiting the shadows. Her lean figure was outlined by the moonlight. “Go away?” she said, her face a snarl. “After all I have done for you? I trained you to control all of that energy of yours.”

“Well it’s not working.” Kron raised his hand, showing the grotesque blob of Darkness. It was growing slowly. Every day it seemed to expand by less than an inch, but it was still noticeable.

“Oh, that? Don’t be silly, boy. You just have to embrace the Darkness. Running from it will only make it worse.”

“I’m not listening to you anymore!” Kron reached for the sword at his waist. “You have lied to me ever since the beginning. You’re just a manipulator trying to beat Virok in your twisted, little game.”

Bellavar’s thin lips stretched into a smile. “How else would I be able to beat Virok? He has an army, he has killed your king, and he is only a few steps away from conquering all of Zaria. Wouldn’t you say I’m the lesser evil? I have yet to kill anyone, and I’m only trying to rebalance the world the only way possible.”

“You tried to kill Ziaxe!” Kron felt his Darkness burning inside him. No, I can’t keep feeding it.

“Only because he is all that remains in my way. The Nizain is the natural enemy of Vician. Your friend would stop this world’s only chance at finding true peace. You see, the Nizain operates on the idea that people can live in both the Light and the Darkness. It’s impossible, though. One side will always be more dominant.”

Kron didn’t know what to say. He stayed silent, trying to keep his Darkness under control.

“I have tried something similar to this. I have always tried to be both a Witch and a Vidian, but I realize now that no one can tear themselves in two like that. I have focused on my one and only goal: to bring Vician back. To do that I have put my Witch life behind me. And like me you must put your old life behind you.”

“No.” Kron didn’t want to hear this.

“You will never find peace if you still long for that life.”

“No… I’ll find a way to make things go back to normal.” Even Kron couldn’t find any determination in his voice.

“It will never happen, boy.” She took a step towards him. “The moment I saw you in those Beranian dungeons I could feel the power inside of you. In that second, I desired that power. You are different from the other forced Vidians. There was something there before Virok changed you, a natural Darkness that was awoken and only strengthened by Virok’s changes.”

The words meant nothing to Kron. His breathing became slow and heavy as the fire inside him burned. She was getting closer, but he didn’t want her to. Her existence infuriated him beyond reason. I should kill her right now. If I have the power she claims I do, I could!

She was only a few steps away now. “That is why I will forgive you for your actions against me. I understand that you acted out of instinct to protect your once friend, but if you dare attack me again, I swear—”

“You swear what?” Kron glared at her. “You’ll destroy me? You’ll kill the person with the power you desire? Without me you are nothing!”

Bellavar was taken aback. “You brat!” she raised her hand, the Darkness beginning to swirl around it.

And then, Kron lost it. With a scream of unimaginable fury, he let out his Darkness. It surrounded his whole body, a mist of shadows shielding him like armor. It expanded from him, stretching out in all directions around him, releasing several bolts of Dark lightning everywhere. The bolts flew for miles into the sky and scorched the ground. “Leave me alone!” he screamed as he became more a walking shadow than a human.

Bellavar had jumped back and escaped the bolts. She was already retreating into the shadows.

“NO! YOU WILL DIE!”

A bolt of lightning flashed down from the cloudless sky, surrounding Kron, but giving him no harm. It crashed into the earth with a bang that seemed to shake the world. But just as soon as it had come, it vanished, leaving only a crater and a ring of fire in its wake.

Bellavar was gone, and with her left Kron’s anger. He fell to his knees, letting his Darkness fade away. He was human again, but he couldn’t believe that a human could cause destruction like that. All he was was a monster. Tears streamed down his cheeks as he was alone once again in the calm of the night.

In the distance, a shadow watched the world being shaken. He is just as lost as me, thought the shadow. The Nizain has given me a real life, but what am I to do with it?

Viona looked out and felt sympathy for Kron. At least, that was what she thought she felt. She was ignorant of the details of this world, being only alive for a matter of weeks. And in that amount of time, she had found a purpose with Bellavar and lost it just as quickly.

She remembered how much Kron hated her. She was blamed for everything that had happened to Venna even though she had done none of it on purpose. We both need a purpose, though…. Maybe he would share one with me....

But she knew there was no true place for a Zauk-soul.


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