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"A hurricane triggered by butterflies' wings"
-Machines of loving grace
The waves rippled endlessly through the emerald ocean,underneath
the ever-stretching sky,ablaze with stagnant stormclouds and smog.
At times,Rowen actually found it easy to believe that the
neverending field of wind-swept grass was actually an ocean;the crests
of the waves gleaming silver against the radient emerald.The only
proof of the actuality of this pseudo-reality were the occasional
trees,stripped bare of all foliage,and the rolling hills that appeared to be
Along the rather redundant stretch of scenery he would also
occasionally come across pale stone structures erected in the swaying
grass,such as obelisks and other simple objects.
The effect was strangely ominous.
He walked steady,rapid and nervous.He was starting to feel rather fatigued from running. He had been running from what pursued him.
He had also been running so fervently in hopes of reaching his
destination.He could see it.Always there on the horizon,but much to
his discouragement,it would never get any closer as he approached.It was the
Dynasty which he pursued.He could see the tops of the towering pagodas;tiny
in the distance.
Behind him on the opposite horizon spread a massive industrial
complex,its towering smoke stacks spewing endless billows of gray and
rust colored pollution into the stagnant clouds above.Every so often he
would glance back over his shoulder to peer at the lurid scene on the
horizon,hoping that he had shed the ominous sight.But just as how the
Dynasty in front of him never got any closer,it never seemed to get any
Rowen found the eerie calm and silence of the landscape even
more disturbing than the chaos that had been caused by
his demonic pursuer not long ago.Could he really have lost it that quickly and
He remembered the eerie tone of her mellifluous yet menacing voice,flowing forth
from her large stature,as thick and intoxicating as poisoned molassas.It
was one of Azrael's warriors............the one called Indra.
Their battle,which he had a feeling was not yet concluded,had been
a fierce one.He had spent a majority of the time evading the blows from
her plethora of bizarre metal weapons,all which she wielded with frightening
ease.Also to contend with was the demon's apparent ability to become
invisible.He recalled the way she seemed to melt into the empty air;the
only clues to her whereabouts were the spontaneously exploding(and at times
imploding) trees and other such obstacles,bursting in a show of
magnificent decimation.Her form would only become partially visible for
no more than a fraction of a second to lash out with her brutal weaponry.
He glanced at his armor where scars had been cleaved in the
metal,remembering the metallic crack of the razor whip.
He had been permitted to see her expression of placid
confidence,for her silver helmet only concealed the
top part of her cream colored countenance,also allowing the two long ends of
her purple hair to flow free in the breeze in front of her like writhing
the creature was truly unlike anything he had ever encountered in the Dynasty.She
had a certain unreal quality about her............all of the demons did.You were compelled to
fear their existance without really knowing why.They were creatures that came from
a form of existance far different than anything within the Dynasty-Human world link. To
Rowen,just having the knowledge that worlds such as theirs existed was reason enough to
Just when he thought he would collapse in despair,he spotted an
intriguing cluster of trees atop the furthest hill..........more
abundant than he had been encountering.Their spindly,white branches
were rattling and shaking in the gusts of wind like monsterous skeletal hands
clawing at the sky.
Near the spot of trees there was also what appeared to be a group
of small stone structures,ominously reminiscent of a graveyard.
He broke into a run across the rippling green,towards the
intriguing spot.He prayed that he wasn't only falsely getting his hopes up.
As he approached the curious scene,he detected a subtle yet foreboding shift
in the bitter air,causing his heart to freeze in his chest before starting again
with a renewed intensity.
Gulping in the frigid gusts of air,he scaled the last curving
hill with an even more rampant desperation.
After what seemed like an eternity,he found himself out of breath
and standing between two pale,dead trees atop the sprawling hill.He
realized he was gasping for breath because his armor was no longer
protecting him.Something in this wicked place was dampening his power bit
by bit.He knew what it was.He was beginning to feel the subtle,almost
subliminal forces mingling chaotically in the dense atmosphere with
almost malignant play,overpowering one another and at times canceling
each other out.These forces were so strange and otherworldly...........like
the essences of a million other dimensions waging war with one another.
He shuddered.It was fantastic,yet at the same time made him and
all that he stood for seem incredibly insignificant.
He surveyed the scene in front of him.To his shock,he found that
the collection of stone structures he had seen indeed was a
graveyard.Most of the headstones were identical pale arcs,some tilting
at angles and others standing spotless and erect.Some of the older
looking ones were overgrown with velvety moss.Other graves were marked
by small obelisks and amazing statues of otherworldly demon creatures,carved
from silky gray marble.
Pale and leafless trees encompassed the eerie resting place of
whatever abominations might be laying deep within the soil.
Cautiously,he skirted the edge of the mysterious graveyard with
ambivalent feelings.This newness was a sign of hope;although,a strange
one.But of course,was anything too lovely and innocent to be expected
in such a place?
The wind had subsided to a breeze that could now do no more
than lightly tousle his hair.He thought he heard a sound as vague as
the wind itself,like words being whispered in the distance and
traveling to him by way of the passing breeze.He shook his head with the
odd idea that subliminal messages of sinister origin where seeping
into his mind,uninvited.
Taking tentative steps,he weaved his way through the eerie
headstones,trying to bury the fear of unhuman claws suddenly bursting
forth from the ground to tear apart his body and drag him under to
forever rest in his own cold and hellish grave.
Most of the stones had inscriptions etched meticulously into
them and he paused occasionally to study these.However,his
perusing came to no avail for each inscription seemed to be in
some unique language,each one completely alien to him.
The unusual but intriguing symbols only left him wondering
what sort of creatures lay below him.
And then;there,amongst the sea of graves,he saw it,demanding
His heart stopped.
Emotions overwhelmed him.Hope and resentment.Relief and
despair.For there,chisled upon a nearby stone was an inscription
so crystal clear to him that it came as a bit of a shock.Indeed,it was
the most real and comprehensible thing he had encountered thus far.
Etched into the stone were the jagged slashes representing the
kanji of strength and below it,the name Kento.
No.You cant be dead.I know you cant be dead.
This isn't fair.
Rowen silently held back a choking onslaught of grief and rage as
he knelt beside the headstone.He contemplated what he could possibly
do next.All was silent............things were present,but left
They teased him with Kento's grave.The demons teased him as if he was
a plaything.At least that was what Rowen supposed.He knew so little
about this place.This 'game'.These opponents.The reappearance of Talpa.It
made no sense to him.
This was their game.They called the shots.They ran this machine
of manipulation.But,Rowen realized,when skilled minds clash,there are
no winners in the game of manipulation.There is always a way to
further twist the situation in your favor...........if you know how.
This was a world,or state of reality,that was governed by the
fantasia of magical manipulation.There existed no laws and no logic.None
that Rowen knew of anyway.
One thing that he was sure of was that there was no truer proverb
than mind over matter.The mind contained your entire perception of
reality.And it held the power to believe that there didn't even exist
an objective reality;that what you believed to be real was all that was real.
He stood over the lonely,gray headstone,staring at the patch of
earth that was overgrown with lush,emerald blades.His state of intense
desperation gave way to a deep consentration.He didn't know exactly
what it was that he consentrated on.In general,it was his grief for
Kento and Ryo..........and all the others,whose fates he did not know.He
consentrated on the absolute hopelessness of the situation,and the
desperate need to conquer this force. This pure darkness. This pure evil.
His consentration was desperate and intent.His body frozen in
time,his mind searched for sweet escape;a solution;any small key to
Now,more than ever,he was aware of all that surrounded him:the
stillness of the landscape,the dewey chill of the air on his skin,the
weight of his bow in his right hand..........
No.It wasnt his bow.
He looked down.It was a shovel.
He blinked several times in dull surprise,wondering for a moment if
his mind decieved him.
The blade of the shovel gleamed over the patch of dirt that was
the grave of Kento.Rowen didn't question it's existance.All that he was
aware of was its purpose.
It was all that he had,and at the moment,his only hope.He plunged
the blade of the shovel into the earth in front of the gravestone and
listened to the wet shplock of the dense ground being sliced.
The first mound of earth he shoveled aside revealed rich,moist,dark
brown soil underneath the carpet of emerald.After closer inspection he
also noticed that there were worms and other small,insect-like
organisms in the earth as well.They were squirming frantically through
the upturned earth of their invaded home.He also realized that these were
not at all regular insects and earthworms.Some of the worms were of a
more pink and fleshy hue and others possessed red,vein-like stripes
running through them.
He took a deep breath and continued to shovel through the
To his dismay,with the next stab of the shovel he managed to
slice one of the worms clean in half.It was a pale one,with those red,veiny
streaks.The half-worm curled and writhed frantically,thrashing in the
dark soil.Rowen watched it helplessly twist as it attempted to cling to life.he felt a horrified
nausea rising within him.He swallowed hard,gritted his teeth and closed his
eyes to the vile sight.
This dosn't have to be real.
He found it in himself to plung the shovel into the earth once
more,keeping his eyes shut this time.
As he continued his dig he made a point to pay little attention
to what he so frantically shoveled aside.And,in an almost trance-like
state,as if driven by some primal will,he continued to unearth the
soil in blind,desperate hope of exhuming the grave of his dear friend.
And then,finally,the blade struck something startlingly hard.
Thoroughly excited,he began to frantically clear the soil away
from the object he had come in contact with.
As he suspected,it was a coffin.It appeared to be made of some
type of stone that was smooth and black and gleamed in the paultry
light of his surroundings.
The lid of the coffin was quite heavy,but after preparing
himself for what he might see,Rowen was able to pry it open and toss it
He lay there in the rumpled,red,velvet lining,so peaceful and so
still.And so dead.His eyes were shut and his arms were crossed over
his chest,his spear laying by his side.There was not a mark upon his pallid
flesh.No indication that he had ever been harmed.
"Kento!!" Rowen yelled in a rush of hapiness and sorrow.
He knelt beside him and lifted his inert form from the coffin,holding
him in his arms."Kento?!" He cried again,yet he knew it was utterly
fruitless to call his name.He could feel that the figure that lay
before him possessed no soul whatsoever.There wasn't even the slightest
flicker of buried consciousness.He held mearly a shell of his comrade
"Kento........" He whispered,this time to no one and nothing
Rowen knelt there for many seconds which seemed like
eternities,gazing down upon his fallen friend in despair.
And then,in one spontaneous moment,it happened.
He felt something odd begin to happen.It was an immense rush
of energy that enveloped them both.He immediately knew what it was.It
was the returning soul of Kento,seeping back into existance from a
place beyond the reaches of any world.It was the very essence of his
friend,and the sudden onslaught of emotion brought a single tear of
joy to Rowen's eye.A small part of Rowen that had been missing for who
knows how long had suddenly been born again.He could feel the vital
flame rekindle within the motionless shell.
Kento had returned to them.
Kento's eyelids fluttered and opened completely,and he gazed
directly up into the anxious,blue eyes of Rowen.
"Kento?!" Rowen exclaimed,this time both puzzled and ecstatic
Kento's expression was somewhere between bewilderment and
relief."Oh.........Rowen.........I just had the worst...." His words
abruptly cut off as he took in the local milieu.His sparkling,brown
eyes grew larger and his expression turned to one of horrified
enlightenment."........nightmare." He finished in a whisper.
Rowen shook his head sadly,suddenly feeling very sorry for his
friend."I'm afraid it was no dream,but your alive,and that's
all that matters!" he said,his voice brimming with joy."Tell me where
you've been.What happened to you?!"
Kento sat up,surveying the landscape with hungry eyes so large
they threatened to pop right out of his head."I.........i'm not exactly
sure.It all started when I went to the kitchen to grab a midnight
snack..........There was this monster.It looked like Talpa,but more
whacked,y'know?" He began,all the while his eyes darting about
in puzzled fascination."I remember being attacked.I was sure I was
a goner..............I dont exactly remember much.A lot of it is pretty
hazy.I remember torture...........pain that wasn't quite
physical...........It's hard to explain.I was in this possitively
freakish place." At this point Kento positioned his eyes
directly at Rowen."Rowen,this place couldn't have been
real!There were all these godawful creatures..........one in
particular.It was huge.............I mean huge,and it was so
dark.........that's the only way I can describe it......dark.......kinda
like if there was a way to solidify and condense darkness..........i'm
pretty sure it was the one causing the pain........."
Fascinated,Rowen listened to Kento's frantic raving with a
growing dread.This place that he spoke of..........could it be where Ryo
was this very second?
"Oh man,it was pretty hellish............but now it just seems
kinda hazy and dreamlike.............just what the heck is happening
anyway?" Kento frantically demanded.
Rowen sighed deeply before beginning."Well,I cant say what's
been happening to you,but I can tell you that the first part was
a dream.But some how they were still able to get to you..........they
killed you Kento.Your soul was detached from your body."
"And you may not like hearing this,but Talpa has returned,and
this time he's brought some friends with him...........we're currently
in the Dynasty..........I guess." Rowen shook his head and sighed,the
immense horror of their situation suddenly closing in on him."I'm afraid
we're in a real mess Kento."
Kento stared back at him,obviously dismayed,his mouth hanging
open just a bit,his mind trying to comprehend too many things at
once."Oh man...........i'm not sure I understand completely,but this
does not sound good..............so where are the others.are they
"I don't know,but....."
"Is Cye okay?"
"I'm sure Cye is fine,but Ryo............they killed Ryo.But if
you can come back then so can he."
Kento leaned back and let out an exasperated sigh."Geez.......this
isn't good." He said distantly.
Rowen bowed his head and nodded slightly in agreement.
"You still haven't explained to me what's going on.How the hell
did Talpa manage to come back?!" Kento questioned.
Rowen opened his mouth to respond,but something abruptly halted
him.It was a sound..............no.not a sound,he realized.It was more
like a distant pulsing sensation.It was an energy presence that he
could feel throbbing in the atmosphere.It was incredibly deep and
foreboding,yet very subtle.
Apparently,Kento had sensed it as well.He immediately appeared
more vigilant."Um.........Rowen,what was that?" He asked with
"I dont know........." Rowen knew that his response was partially
a lie.He knew what the unearthly pulse meant.And even if he had no
idea what it was,the message it sent was perfectly clear:RUN!
"..........but I say we get out of here,now!" He demanded,half dragging
Kento out of the shallow grave.
Rowen's heart was sent drumming against his chest and he felt
himself break into a cold sweat.His only solace was the apparent
strengthening in his armors power.He now felt confident that it would
function properly;and God knows he would need it! He could feel the
pulsing sensation escalate in intensity untill it was something that
could almost be heard.It seemed to be getting closer.
"What!What!What's going on?!" Kento insisted,understandibly in
"Just come on." Rowen urged through clenched teeth.
He was a bit startled to find his bow,gleaming golden in the
mound of dirt where he had discarded the shovel.Although,at the moment
he didn't exactly have the proper motivation to ponder why it was there.
He hurridly snatched up his precious weapon and,with his hand
clasped tight around Kento's wrist,he began to run,streaming
down..........down,through the waves of endless emerald,with the
pulsing beat of the wicked heart of a world not his own cascading through
But before they had an opportunity to flee very far,the climactic
chaos of the rythmic energy pulse halted them both dead in their tracks.
It began with an immense shockwave of destructive energy,striking
them both.The intangible presence tore through them,sending suffocating
spasms through every inch of their bodies,jarring them to the spot.Rowen
knew that if the magical abilities of their armor had not been
protecting them,they wouldn't have stood a chance against the juggernaut
of energy.They would have been as vulnerable as dead leaves in a
hurricane,unable to withstand the raw power of destruction.
The shockwave was accompanied by a massive and fiery explosion
of light.It was intense and hot,and surrounded them in every
direction,providing no means of escape.
Through the explosion of noise,Rowen could hear Kento scream
He managed to turn his head back to the hilltop graveyard.The
scenery there was flooded with an amazing,orangish-red light,and for but
a moment Rowen fancied he saw a figure atop the hill,surrounded by
the claw-like trees.It was a twisted,dark silhouette against the
ethereal glow,and it remained utterly motionless amongst the chaos..........and
then it was gone.
Destruction is beauty.
That's what the demon had told him.
Destruction is beauty.
Abruptly,the noise and the light began to fade untill it was no
more.Yet Rowen and Kento did not move.Shock held them captive.
And then,no more than a second later,one by one the pale,spindly
trees that surrounded the graveyard exploded in rapid succession,bursting
to a flurry of bone shrapnel confetti.
They both gasped and jumped,startled by the unearthly display
They stood frozen in awe for several moments,watching the shards
of dead tree matter settle across the landscape before Rowen finally
came back to his senses.
He turned his head back to the distant image of the Dynasty.How
heavenly it was.How odd to fathom that he had once considered such a place
so blissfully ordinary to be a vision of hell itself.
He began to tug Kento in the direction of the Dynasty."Come on.We
have to get out of here," He said in a voice that tryed to be calm but
ended up incredibly shaky with definate tension.
At first,all Kento could manage was a small sound that seemed
to convey many things.He stumbled backwards after Rowen,unable to tear his
eyes from the ruined graveyard atop the emerald peak."Uh..........yeah.Lets
split," He agreed in a tone that almost managed to make Rowen smile.
What an act of foolishness,to attempt to reach the Dynasty when
it had previously been so unreachable.Rowen was aware of this.He knew
it was only high hopes.He only partially expected the distant peaks of
the Dynasty fortresses to come any closer.
And then,a noise.It was an erratic crackle;a brief,staticy buzz
in the air around them.
They both heard the sound but Kento was the first to notice the
intruder.He abruptly swung his arm in front of Rowen,halting him.He
tensed and stepped back."Look!" He said through a gasp.
Rowen didn't need to see it to know what it was.He could feel
its sinister air which it brought forth on wings of chaos.He had felt
that same forebodence not long ago.
But he found himself looking up anyway.He knew this was
inevitable.What a hopeless venture to consider even a minute chance of
From the shadowy heavens he saw the demon descend,melting out
of the nothingness above them into a partial,translucent form.The
partial invisibility made the curling whip it held mearly a shimmering
filament of metal that glinted like a floating strand of tinsel.
The demon's arms were outstretched,letting the colorful material
of its silver suit of armor splay out like the warning wings of some
Silently it decended;a fragmented,translucent figure,like a dying
hologram.As it landed it began to solidify and become opaque,letting
the colors of its armor gleam in all their vibrance.
As the demon struck the ground in front of the two samurai,the
ground underneath them seemed to tremble for a moment.The blades of
grass surrounding the spot where it landed quivered and bent away from the
ominously stunning figure as if desperate to escape the towering
Indra,'Warlord of Destruction'.She stood much taller than both of
them and glared down upon them with a small,angry sneer upon her
Rowen recalled the demons' introductions in the throne room
of the Dynasty citadel and noticed how she stayed quite true to her
facade as a mock warlord,including her correspondence to the animal she
claimed to be linked to.She had rather resembled a stylized,mutant
butterfly,delicately descending with a certain sense of menacing grace
"You run," she stated with mellifluous animosity.Her voice took
on a strange androgyny and harbored a subtle growl of incredible
depth,telltale of her true demonic essence.
As Rowen gazed upon the ethereal creature he realized she was quite
magnificent and surreal in her twisted elegance.Ostensibly the creature
was female.............but only ostensibly he reminded himself.
In a fraction of a second Rowen had a golden arrow poised
tense on his bow,prepared to strike.He felt a bead of cold sweat trickle
down his clamy flesh and a horrible,persistant throbbing pounded hard
against his skull.He prayed his nervousness wasn't as apparent as it
Beside him,he could hear Kento whispering small,tense words of
"Come on,we can do this......." over and over again.
Narrowing his eyes,Rowen gathered his courage and confidence and
answered to the demons words."No.We fight untill you die," he said,managing
to match her animosity.
Indra tilted her head and bestowed upon them a delicate smirk.
The razor whip curled,snakelike,around her body as if alive.
She said not a word,allowing a horrid silence to coagulate in the
atmosphere.And silence was all there was as she blinked out of
existance..............and back again.
In a suspended moment in time,one of those rare moments when seconds
turn to eternities,the two samurai saw the demon reappear above them in
a deadly flash of metal.