It had been two hundred years since the Battle of Twin Peaks was decided and the warriors of the Order of the White Rose had fought a long and grueling battle, losing over half their fighters against the Army of the Lord of Shadows.
The reason for the losses of these brave heroes was due to an evil dictator known as the Lord of Shadows. With his army, he descended upon the Scandinavian countryside to destroy all who stood in his way. Pillaging and selling the vanquished into slavery, he showed no mercy to his victims. He was defeated, however, not by the army, but by one man. That man was the leader of the Order of the White Rose, Master Eirik. He was a monk who had studied the ways of the warrior and had mastered Aikido and Stav fighting styles. He fought the Lord of Shadows near the evil one’s temple and was able to seal the Lord of Shadows into an object using the forbidden technique of the Soul Seal.
It proved to be Master Eirik’s last battle as he gave his life to seal in the evil one. The Lord of Shadows had now been safely imprisoned for two centuries. This left five keys with the five Masters of the White Rose, as when The Lord of Shadows became imprisoned inside a statue of a Norse god his power was dispersed among five keys. Only if those five keys were brought together within the temple would he regain his power. The Guardians were there to make sure that did not happen. To further protect the keys, the Guardians eventually spread out across the world. For generations, the keys had been passed down from master to student.
Chapter One: Bloody Beginnings
It is 1998 in Oslo, Norway. A young, blond-haired boy of about sixteen years runs to the bus stop. He is stopped dead as a slender woman in a white apron shouts from the doorway “Alexander, you’ve forgotten your lunch!”
The boy turned around, blushing, “Thanks, Mom.” Grabbing the bag he turned and boarded the bus for school.
In the house, the mother walked into the kitchen. “Theodor, honey, you up?” The woman called up the stairs, directing her voice toward the master bedroom.
A tall man in his thirties with dark-black hair walked downstairs wearing a black suit and red tie. “Hey, honey, did you get Alexander off to school?”
The woman smiled kindly. “Yep. Do you want breakfast?” she asked as he leant across the table and kissed her.
Taking a seat at the table he replied, “Sure. I’ve still got an hour before heading into work.”
“So when will you tell him about the test?” asked the mother.
“When he gets home, Rachael. I’ll sit down with him and tell him all about the test to be a teacher at the dojo.”
“Are you sure it’s not too soon?” A tone of worry in her voice.
“Rachael, he’s almost at my level already. In a few years with the self-training he does when he thinks we aren’t looking, he’ll surely surpass me. That’s if he hasn’t already.”
“I know, but I don’t want the position to go to his head. He is still young. Surely he needs some more time training the other students to ease him into it?”
“He’s got a good head on his shoulders. Plus, I made it clear he’s to get an education before I seriously consider giving him the rights to the dojo. After all, I had to make the same sacrifices with my training,” said the father.
“I’m guessing I can’t make you change your mind?” queried Rachael.
“I’ll think on it at work and make a decision later today.” Hearing the door in the foyer open, Theodor jerked his head around as a loud creek echoed from the foyer.
His eyebrows furrowed. “We aren’t expecting anyone, are we?”
“Not that I’m aware of,” Rachael said with confusion.
A strong odor came through the house. Getting up immediately, his chair falling to the floor from the sudden movement, Theodor turned, panic etched on his face. “I smell smoke. We have to leave the house. Now!”
Turning to run they found their exit blocked by assailants in black clothing. Their faces covered by white masks with a diagonal red slash. The two looked around unable to see an escape route.
“Run, call the police!” Theodor shouted as he punched the first assassin, the blow knocking his attacker unconscious to the ground. “They’ve picked the wrong house to rob!”
Rachael scrambled for the phone, grasping it as tightly as she could in her shaking hands. Theodor’s eyes widened as his wife suddenly slumped forward, the phone falling from her fingers. The metallic glint of throwing stars shone from Rachael’s back as blood ran from the wounds, staining the white apron a dark red. With a ferocious yell, he sprang towards the unknown enemy.
Avoiding the first punch, Theodor retaliated with a kick, the power sending the attacker off the floor, and into the wall. The sickening crunch enough to suggest a broken spine. Managing to raise his leg up and throwing his hands out, he blocked another attack. Grasping his clothing he tossed his enemy to the floor. One of the assassins had yet to attack, standing back from the fight, analyzing the fighting style Theodor used against his men. He’s using counters against our numbers.
Making his way into the kitchen, Theodor grabbed a knife, hurling it at his closest attacker.
Grabbing a second knife, Theodor stabbed at the second assassin, puncturing his heart. He pulled the knife from the body causing it to fall to the ground. Turning around and kicking high the closest assassin was sent crashing into a glass display case as Theodor fought to survive. The remaining four attackers closed in.
The attacker that had until this point remained back finally saw an opening and rushed forward. With seemingly no alternative, Theodor threw the knife at one of the closest men, striking him through the right eye as the other three converged on him, their weapons drawn.
At Oslo High, Alexander Theodorson sat in class as he listened to the teacher drone on about some famous person. The red-haired boy next to him leant across and nudged him.
“Hey, Alexander, you want to go to the arcade?”
Alexander sighed. “No, Samuel, I have to head home. I’ve got practice.”
The boy shrugged his shoulders. “Still practicing? Man, I know you can beat any of the students in the dojo. Only your father is stronger than you. You know you aren’t too far off from his level.”
“I need to keep practicing so I can improve my skill set. I hope I can take the Master’s test soon. I know I’m ready. Besides, there’s no such thing as being good enough. You can always learn more, even a Master.”
Samuel stared at him and rolled his eyes. “You’re kidding me, right? You have been practicing martial arts since you were six years old, studying at least one style and working on a sword style. You’re more than ready.”
Alexander shrugged his shoulders. “I haven’t mastered real swords, only wooden ones. Father will tell me when I am ready.”
Alexander tried to listen to the teacher, but still struggled to concentrate.
After his second class had concluded, Alexander found Samuel being thrown into a locker by a brown-haired jock in jeans. Samuel hit the locker and fell to the ground after the impact.
“Tom, didn’t you learn your lesson last time?” asked Alexander, clearly annoyed.
“You got a lucky shot,” said Tom with a scowl. “It won’t happen again.”
Alexander smirked, before replying, “I remember that, and I got a lucky kick and throw in last time we fought as well.”
“Let’s settle this after school. Same place,” said Tom walking away as Alexander bent down and helped his friend up.
“You need to stand up for yourself, Samuel. I won’t be there to bail you out every time.”
The bell rang, signaling school was finished for another day. Alexander headed out of class and went straight to the spot behind the makeshift baseball field. A crowd had already started to form as Tom walked up with two of his buddies.
“Let us see how you do this time,” said Tom.
“This is purely one-on-one, Tom. This is total crush - for you,” Alexander stated, getting set into his stance. Despite his warning, the three boys attacked him as one, angry looks on their faces as they tried to overpower him.
Alexander blocked the first blow, then dropped, and swept the boy’s feet from under him. A shout from behind him alerted him as he turned and grabbed a punch heading for his head.
“You’re an idiot. When launching a surprise attack, keep your mouth shut!” Mocked Alexander as he span and tossed the boy away.
“Tom, there’s no shame in backing out,” Alexander said. “It’s just me and you now.”
Tom responded by charging and trying to hit the blond-haired teen, each sloppy punch he sent dodged calmly by Alexander.
“I’m done,” Alexander stated with boredom before punching Tom in the stomach and knocking him down. Turning away he scoffed at the one-sided match. “Get better, Tom, before we do this again. That wasn’t even a warm-up and you’ve made me miss the bus,” said Alexander as walked away, the three downed bullies left writhing on the field.
Samuel and Alexander headed to their respective houses, chatting about the fight, until it was time to split up. “I’m heading to the arcade before home, Alexander, I’ll see you later.”
Fire trucks and police cars greeted Alexander as he turned the corner. Dropping his bag he sprinted towards his home, smoke billowing from the windows further evidence that something catastrophic had occurred. Police tape surrounded the house as crime officers wheeled two gurneys out of the front doorway toward the road.
“Mom, Dad!” he shouted as he ran up to a temporary barricade. The police Captain present reached out to prevent him running past.
“Who are you, son?” asked the Captain as Alexander struggled to get free.
“I live here. What happened?” asked the worried teen as his eyes darted from the Captain to the burning house.
The Captain sighed. “What’s your name?”
“Alexander,” he said and then asked again. “What’s happened?”
“What is your relation to the deceased?”
“Deceased?” asked Alexander with a stutter. A feeling of dread crawled up his skin. “Who?”
“The couple who lived in this house.”
“I am the son of the couple,” said Alexander.
The Captain sighed again and pulled the young teen aside. “I hate my job sometimes. I’m sorry, son, but your parents are both dead. We found their bodies riddled with cuts and partially burned with most of the house. We got here only a few minutes after a neighbor called about a fire in the house.”
Alexander turned in shock. How could this have happened? Father should have been able to fight off any intruders, he thought as he clenched his fist, nails digging into his palm. “Can you tell me how were they killed?”
The Captain noticed the tears welling up in the eyes of the teen. Glancing around and seeing no chance of anyone overhearing, the Captain replied, “We think it was murder due to the damage on the bodies.”
Alexander dropped to his knees, his head in his hands as the Chief of Police approached.
“Have you find any clues?” the Chief asked.
“Yes, sir. We have found a used match by the gas line. We have also found a variety of weapons by the bodies,” replied the Captain.
“Who is this?” asked the Chief.
“I am the son the deceased,” said Alexander.
“Good. No harm in telling you what we found so far, then,” said the Chief, turning his attention back to the Captain.
“What else did you discover?” asked the Chief.
“The lady was hit with what appears to be a multitude of some kind of throwing star from our initial investigation. The man appears to have been cut by a sharp object, some kind of blade, perhaps? We don’t know what type,” said the Captain.
Looking down at Alexander, the Captain did his best to console him, “Your parents put up quite a fight, son. We found five dead assailants littering the floor, one in the foyer and four more in the kitchen. We’re doing our best to identify them, but they’re pretty badly burned.”
Alexander’s eyes narrowed as he listened. His sadness began turning to rage and anger. “Did you recover anything of use?” He asked through his tear-stained face.
The two looked at each other. “Not yet,” said the Captain. “After we complete our investigation you can enter your house and salvage anything you can find.”
Alexander nodded his head. “I’ll be by later then.”
“You are a minor so you need to stay with a family,” remarked the Captain.
“My friend’s family will be fine,” Alexander replied as he struggled to hold in his emotions.
“We’ll wait for you to call your friend and have them pick you up.”
Thirty minutes later, a blond-haired woman in a black dress used for office work arrived with Samuel. Rushing to Alexander, she hugged him. “I am sorry for your loss. When I heard what happened, I rushed over,” she said with sorrow.
“Are you a friend?” asked the Captain.
“Yes. Well my son is.” She opened her bag and pulled out her identification to show the Captain.
“Very well,” the Captain replied before turning to Alexander and putting his hand on his shoulder. “We will find out who did this and you will get the justice you need, son.”
Alexander nodded his head and turned from the scene of devastation, leaving with his school friend and his mother.
Alexander was called later that evening. He was accompanied down to the station so the officer could escort him to the remains of his family home. “I am sorry for your loss but we will find the ones responsible. You have my promise,” the officer at the station told him as he left.
Getting to the house, the officer told Alexander he would be outside.
Walking in, Alexander looked around and saw a glimmering object in the cracked floorboard beneath him. Crouching down and pulling up the board, a box was revealed underneath. He quickly put it into his backpack and looked for anything else that might be intact. An hour went by, Alexander found nothing more that was salvageable.
Getting outside, he turned and took one last look at the home he had left his parents in earlier that morning. Wiping a tear from his eye he went with the officer and was taken back to Samuel’s in the police car.
Alexander went straight upstairs and into the temporary bedroom Samuel’s mother had prepared for him. Sitting down on the bed, he took the box from his backpack and opened it. Inside was a cubical item ornate with the carving of a rose, accompanied by a note.
He took out the note to read it.
If you’re reading this, then you must be a descendent of Master Eirik or one of his Guardians. Inside this box is a key that when combined with four others will release the evil one known as the Lord of Shadows from his banishment.
Alexander folded the note and took a look at the key inside the box. It appeared have some kind of writing on it. Is this why my parents were killed? He asked himself as tears fell down his face. He balled up his fist, crumpling the paper in a rage. His parents were gone.
A few days later, a small funeral was held for the couple. The students of the dojo paid their respects as Alexander gave a speech, fighting to hold back his tears as he did so. He laid a flower on each coffin, turned and walked away.
School the day after the funeral went by in a daze as people gave their condolences to Alexander. The school counselor telling him to come to her if he ever just wanted to talk.
At the lawyer’s office four days later, the man in charge of the will sighed sadly. “I was a friend of your father’s, Alexander, and I am sorry for your loss.” He shuffled the papers he held in his hand, before clearing his throat. “Alexander, I have here what I hope you will see as some better news. Your father has left you over two hundred thousand dollars. Your mother also has left you another two hundred thousand dollars from her will. The deed to the dojo is yours as well.”
“I don’t care about the damn money. It can’t buy my parents’ lives back!”
The lawyer rose and walked across, putting a hand on the boy’s shoulder. As he spoke the sincerity was evident in his voice. “I know, Alexander. You’re strong, but even the strong have limits. My advice is to get some counseling to help you to start to heal from this tragedy. It’s how you move on from here that determines your state of mind.”
In a stone temple on the top of a mountain in northern Norway, three men walked up to a statue. Around the statue were pillars containing indents of an unknown shape. They knelt in reverence.
“Did you find one of the keys?” asked a deep-voiced presence that seemed to emanate from the statue itself.
One of the men bowed forward, his forehead against the ground. “No, my Lord. It was too well hidden, but I did find the sword of the one who banished you.” He rose and held out a jeweled sword towards the statue to prove his point.
The voice laughed, mirthlessly. “Yes, a good gift, but I don’t tolerate failure! You didn’t look hard enough. You have failed me!”
Lightning shot down hitting the man where he knelt. He screamed in agony as his body was wracked with spasms. His cries drifted away into silence as fire consumed him and he faded into ash.
The jeweled sword the man had been holding clanked to the ground. One of the other men stood, grabbed the sword, and put it on a pedestal in front of the statue where the voice was coming from. He then went back to his kneeling position.
“I might be only at one-fifth of my strength due to the seal, but I can still deal with any failures. Kira, you’re in charge of these fools,” said the deep voice. A young woman strode out of the shadows, her flaming hair accenting the forest green of her eyes. The sword strapped to her back sat perfectly over her short, striped coat. Her low sitting pants hugged her muscled legs, making them seem like they went on for miles.
The red-haired woman bowed down and asked, “What are your orders, my Lord?”
“According to the spies I have in the area, the son has retrieved a box from the shell of his house. I think that contains what I need. Take it from his lifeless corpse if you have to, but do not fail me,” said the voice.
The woman bowed and responded, “Understood, my Lord.”
Kira and the two men walked out of the temple. Joined as they left by another soldier who had appeared to take the place of the one who had most recently felt the Lord of Shadow’s wrath.
Having struggled on his return to school, Alexander was absent the following week to allow him time to grieve. In a clearing near to Samuel’s home, he was practicing with his wooden sword, fighting an invisible enemy. His reflection on the lake next to him as he went through various styles. Why did this happen? What were you part of, Mother, Father? Asked the teen to himself.
The previous two days, he had spent at the library to see if he could find anything about this Lord of Shadows mentioned in the note found inside the box.
His search came up empty despite his best efforts.
I suppose it wouldn’t be public knowledge, thought the teen.
He was back in the present as a rustling came from the edge of the clearing. “Come out!” he demanded raising his wooden sword in a guard position.
Four people came out into the clearing. One of them was the red-haired woman, Kira. The other three were mere soldiers of the Lord of Shadows and decked in black tunics with cloths over their faces.
Stepping forward from the others, Kira said in a smooth voice, “Alexander, you’ve got something of my master’s. It is a key, and your father had no rights to it. He stole it from my master. Bring it to me, and you will be rewarded. It’s of no use to you.”
Alexander’s eyes narrowed. “Who is your master? Were you the one who murdered my parents?” He growled from his throat while slowly backing away.
“No, unfortunately I never got the pleasure of watching them burn,” Kira said grinning maniacally. “If you do not bring us the key you have discovered, then we will have to destroy you. Will you be sensible and take us to it?”
“I don’t know what you are talking about. I do not have any key,” he lied; he had the box safely hidden in his room at Samuel’s house.
The woman smirked. “Nice try. However, you will not be alive long enough to protect it” she replied.
“Then, we will find out where you have been living and kill all those in that house, too. Now will you take us to it or not?”
Alexander shook his head, still brandishing his wooden sword and gripping the handle in preparation of the coming fight. He couldn’t trust these people. He knew the key must be very important. ”How can I protect Samuel and his family from these thugs? He thought.
“Kill him,” ordered the red-haired woman as she stepped back.
The three charged Alexander with their weapons as the woman looked on, a cruel smirk etched on her face. The first man swung wildly with his duel short sword but missed his target and was kicked in the back by Alexander.
The other two charged forward as Alexander managed to block a wooden staff with his sword. He struggled to push back against the larger of the two men and fell to one knee. The man continue to force Alexander down and kicked the teen in the chest, knocking him flat.
The larger man raised his blunt weapon, ready to deliver the killing blow, when he was sent back by a strong kick from an unseen assailant. The woman’s attention was caught as she glanced up and saw an elderly man of Asian descent. Wearing a blue robe with the symbol of a white rose on his back, he had his long white hair pulled back in a ponytail.
“…Who the hell are you?” she demanded, somewhat weakly. The sheer power radiating from this man had made her hesitate slightly. Foreboding and dread shaking her to her core.
“My name is not important to the dishonorable. You strike a downed warrior. This I cannot allow. You are a disgrace to warriors everywhere.” He pulled out a dagger and beckoned the attackers forward. “Come.”
The large man sprang to his feet and snarled at the newcomer, he then charged forward bringing his weapon down towards the old man. Quicker than anyone present thought possible, the large man was spewing blood from his jugular vein as the old man slashed across his neck with the dagger.
Kira wasn’t used to feeling immense fear. Her body could not stop shaking in this newcomer’s presence. He was dangerous. That much was certain.
The old man glanced at the large man’s body. Seeing their comrade fall caused the other assailants to pause in shock. However, only for a moment, before they gathered up their courage and charged. With little movement both thugs were mortally wounded: one was stabbed quickly in the chest, the other cut across his throat, a wound matching the warrior’s former comrade.
Turning around, the elderly fighter spoke to Kira, “How about you, young lady?”
Kira backed away with fear in her eyes. She looked at Alexander and said, “You got lucky, boy, but I’ll be back.” Turning on her heels she fled to safety, abandoning her fallen companions as they lay lifeless on the ground.
The old man looked at the teen, who was breathing hard and frowned. He has already seen death, and yet he’s so young. What brought him to this? Turning the old man shuffled slowly away, the speed and agility he had shown a moment ago no longer present.
Alexander looked after him as he moved further and further away before he decided to follow him.