United We Stand
By Gilean Majere
- 1 Chapter 1
- 2 Chapter 2
- 3 Chapter 3
- 4 Chapter 4
- 5 Chapter 5
- 6 Chapter 6
- 7 Chapter 7
- 8 Chapter 8
- 9 Chapter 9
- 10 Chapter 10
- 11 Chapter 11
- 12 Chapter 12
- 13 Chapter 13
- 14 Chapter 14
- 15 Chapter 15
- 16 Chapter 16
- 17 Chapter 17
- 18 Chapter 18
- 19 Chapter 19
- 20 Chapter 20
- 21 Chapter 21
- 22 Chapter 22
- 23 Chapter 23
- 24 Chapter 24
- 25 Chapter 25
- 26 Chapter 26
- 27 Chapter 27
- 28 Chapter 28
- 29 Chapter 29
- 30 Chapter 30
- 31 Chapter 31
- 32 References
Everyone gathered at the bottom of the stairs in Trinity Rise. The tension filled the air, as the dreamers watched the two duelists step out from the crowd.
This match was between the DoL initiate Tristyk, and the newly initiated PoR member, Bane. The duel was to be the end of the new year's celebration in the DreamCity. The prize for this match was a newly found Abyss shield. No better protection could be found, or bought for any price, and all the dreamers present were envious of the two left who would have a chance to win the beauteous prize.
The crowds crept all the way along the walls, with many dreamers actually scaling the walls, to get a view of the battle. Almost everyone in Underlight was gathered at the foot of the steps to watch this monumental battle...all except for one lone dreamer. A dreamer named Vice, whom at this very second, was standing a few rooms up on Trinity..waiting for his signal.
Trystik and Bane stepped forward, and drew their blades. The referee Kancur stepped forward, and held up a small alt.
"The battle will begin when this alteror hits the ground.", he called out. "I will now join party with both fighters, one at a time, to be sure that they are not joined with anyone." Saying this, he silently joined to Trystik's party, and, satisfied that no one was there, he began evoking it again. However, he did not choose a target this time...he knew better.
Suppressing a devious grin, he called out, "These noble dreamers are not joined with any others, so the battle will be fair. Rules are as follows. No evocation, no chaks. Charms, alterors, elemens, and blades are all that will be allowed. Let the fight be fair, and may the Dreamwrights watch over you both"
He stepped a few steps back, and, with everyone's eyes on him, he released his firm grip on the alteror. It clattered to the ground, with a clank that could be heard, seemingly, throughout all of Underlight. The two duelists slowly advanced on each other.
Deep within the cave of tears, long before the portal therein was opened, a pair of cautious dreamers placed dark force. These dreamers had discovered it within the Dorsal rift, soon after it was created, and, knowing all too well that it would mature quickly in the midst of all the chaos, they decided that it would be best to bury in beneath the Lake of Tears, far from chaos, and hate, near the Dreamcity...near the love and respect of all the dreamers.
They had never counted on war.
They had never counted on hate.
They had never believed that in this perfect place, the dreamers could possibly learn to want to destroy each other. As Dreamerwars grew, so did the presence. As houses formed, and made alliances and wars, the presence grew. As the dreamers gathered in Trinity, and cheered the two duelists, both representing houses at war, the presence grew.
Trystik dodged to the side, and swung his Fateslayer at Bane's exposed side. He smiled as he felt it sink in, but the wound healed almost immediately. What type of Elemens was this guy using? No time to think, Tryst rolled to avoid Bane's retaliatory strike, and waited patiently for the next opening. He had scored over 30 hits on Bane, but he was still up and going as strong as ever. He had to be almost out of Dreamsoul Elemens...that was the only possibility. The rulers were watching the spectators in the room to be sure no one was evoking arts, and Bane hadn't had time to evoke anything...
His thoughts fled as Bane rushed haphazardly at him.
Waiting till the last minute, then lunging to the right, he managed to completely trip Bane, and sent him sprawling, his blade flying off to the side. Trystik leapt up, and jumped on Bane, pinning him to the floor, and put his blade to Bane's neck.
"Forfeit.", he said simply.
Bane took stock of his position, and slammed both elbows into Tryst's exposed stomach. Tryst reeled from the blow, but not before he had time to slash at Bane's neck.
The blood flowed from Bane's wound..."definitely the killing blow", thought Trystik.
However, to his amazement, the wound healed almost instantly. Before he could recover from shock, Bane had seized his sword, and held it to Trystik's neck.
"Forfeit", he said.
Trystik raged with suppressed anger, but knew his limitations.
Deep underneath the lake, the dark presence seemed to pulse with an ever quickening beat. It's rhythmic fluctuations fused with an ever endless pulse of chaos.
It's throbbing grew faster and faster, until it was beating faster then a heart...it was beating like...like an egg.....
His words echoed off of the walls in Trinity, seeming to float in time and space, as concrete objects. Such comments were never said in Underlight, during a duel. The referee was there to make sure that no cheating was possible...it was generally taken to be a coward's excuse for losing.
Bane smiled, and stood, releasing Trystik. "No need to make up excuses, old chap.." he said.
"I've defeated Dark Mares stronger than you, Bane. The only way you could've defeated me is if you cheated. No one has room for all of the elemens you would've needed to keep up with my pace..."
An accusation of cheating, though seldom heard in Underlight, was a very serious situation. Individual dreamers in Trinity turned to their neighbors, whom just recently had been friends, and regarded them with cold indifference.
A PoR ruler, Jantoc, leapt from the crowd, and confronted Trystik. "A claim of cheating against one initiate is taken as an insult to us all, Trystik of Dreamer's of Light.." He said the last part with a sneering disreguard.
"You want war, old man?" asked Trystik, stepping forward, "Well, it's war you're gonna get, old timer. You with me, DoL?" Trystik shouted, and choruses of applause and cheering rang our in Trinity.
An older, battle worn, and wizened member of House Calenture watched from the sides. "This has gone far enough," he thought, "Time to put an end to it." Named Ganthus, he was a guardian, and House Calenture's first and foremost Gatekeeper teacher. None in the dream compared to his GK skills. He stepped out of the throng of dreamers, and entered the dueling circle where Trysitk stood fuming, and Bane stood with cool disregard. "Son, he didn't cheat." Ganthus began, "When you lose fairly, you also need to lose graciously."
"Yeah, old man?" sneered Trystik, "Or are you just taking their side because you're allied? Afraid you might have to fight? Scared of us Dreamers of Light?"
Ganthus fumed at the insults, but calmly kept his head.
"Boy, I suggest you take your attitude back to your house, and sit and think about this for a while. A declaration of war isn't something to be made simply because you lost."
Trystik drew his blade. "Yeah, well maybe you'd like to give me a go, then."
The rhythmic vibrations grew more rapid with each passing second. Soon, instead of being pulsations, it ended up being just a steady tone, slowly growing in pitch.
It beat so rapidly that you could hardly notice that it was beating at all. Then, without warning, it exploded in a force so strong that it could be felt clear into the rifts.
Death had arrived, under the name of Rumkala.
The explosion ceased any declarations of war in Trinity. All dreamers immediately looked in the direction of the Lake of Tears. Then, the dreamers began separating into their respective houses, and gathering together.
Ganthus turned to Trystik in disgust. "You Fatesenders are all the same. You come before your house, before anyone or anything. I seriously hope that you don't declare war, but if you do, I shall take great pleasure in collapsing you. Good day, boy.", he declared, and walked over to the members of House Calenture.
Trystik turned, and walked off to his house, the Dreamers of Light.
In the midst of this, no one noticed a lone dreamer enter from the portal leading up to Sable Moon. Vice walked over to Bane.
"Damn, you need to work on your fighting skill, bud. That guy wiped the floor with you!" he said, " A guy can only cast restore so many times, then he has to meditate."
Meanwhile, the referee, Kancur, stepped near Bane, and quietly whispered, "Well, you got it!"
"No my friend," Bane replied, "WE got it."
He picked up the Abyss shield, held it over his head in a sign of victory, and left his friends to gather with PoR. After all, he had to keep up appearances of actually wanting to be in the house, as only house members could participate in the celebrations, and he'd heard that soon, Sable Moon would be holding a celebration with the top prize a maren dictionary...not bad.
He smiled. How fun it was to be corrupt!
Many ages ago, just after The Great Loss, two of the strongest dreamers present decided to go, and survey the damage wrought by the rampant waves of chaos. They wandered onward, until they came to the rifts. Awestruck by the destruction and desolation left by the rifts, they began to explore the ruins, searching for some sign, anything, to find out what had happened. Their travels took them clear to the rifts, where they began to feel burning pain, and loss of concentration caused by the rampant forces at work. Then, as they explored, they found something that was beyond anything that they could dream of.
They found a small, pulsing orb laying directly beyond the rift. Upon investigation, they came to a horrible discovery. It was an egg. The force of chaos within the slowly pulsing life form, was beyond any that the ancient dreamers had ever encountered. Taken aback by the discovery, they decided that this being must never be allowed to hatch, as if it did, the dreamers would not be able to defeat it. But, try as they did, the apparently quivering shell turned out to be shielded in forces of chaos, much stronger than the two dreamers could break.
The egg appeared to be growing as they waited, feeding on the chaos. Upon noticing this, they made the only decision that they could. They couldn't destroy it, and if they left it here, it would hatch, and then Underlight would be destroyed. They returned bearing the pulsating orb, and buried it as far from chaos as they could. They deposited the egg beneath the waters of the Lake of Tears, where it sat for many years, slowly weakening from the lack of chaos.
However, then, the dreamers grew unsettled, and began fighting among st themselves. Creating chaos. The egg began to grow stronger, as the animosity between the houses grew more and more.
Then, the final moment came. The hatred grew enough. The egg quivered a final, frantic pulse, and then, the chaos surrounding it exploded, with such force as was only topped by that of the rifts during the Great Loss.
The egg shattered, and a small, trembling shadow lay within it's wake. The shadow pulsed, and two dull, burning red eyes appeared in the midst of the darkness. As the creature unfurled, it's body size nearly quadrupled as it gathered and drank in all the chaos surrounding it. As the body unfolded, two strong, insect like arms appeared, each adorned with two 4' claws, made of the creature's bone. A row of razor like teeth appeared, gleaming ominously. It's legs stretched out, like the giant roots of a tree, providing support for the ominous being that had finally appeared.
By the time the nightmare was completely formed out of chaos, it was well over eight feet tall. It began digging it's way out of it's stone prison, creating what is now named the Cave of Tears. It's claws scratched away endlessly at the granite, which was greatly weakened from the explosion of its egg.
As it emerged into sunlight for the first time, it's bi-clawed arms flew into the air shielding it's small eyes from the glare of the moonlight. It sensed a smell, a smell it hadn't smelled since it was first laid...the smell of dreamers. The creature started out following the odor, and then, it noticed the smell was stronger then he had immediately thought it was...there were many, many dreamers.
The great mare turned, and walked away, towards chaos. To feed.
Trystik walked back to the house with his friends, Kitfox, Starshadow, and Cirrius. Masks of annoyance, hatred, anger, and jealousy flowed across his face, not going unnoticed by the trio following him. They wisely opted not to say anything.
Trystik himself finally stopped, and broke the silence.
"I'M NOT GONNA TAKE IT!" He shouted, whirling to face his brethren.
Cirrius and Kitfox backed up a step, but Starshadow held his ground.
"And what do you propose that we do about it, brother?", Starshadow replied, "According to the rules, he won. Do you dare to question the rules of the dreamers?"
"No one could take that much damage, and still be coherent, Star, and you know it!" Trystik cried, "The bastard cheated!"
Cirrius stepped forward, "Can you prove it, though, my friend?"
Trystik looked down at the floor, then, his gaze slowly roze again. His eyes were filled with intense, and complete hatred.
"I'm not GOING to prove them wrong, I'm gonna kill him."
Ktifox gasped in horror. "What's come over you, Tryst?"
Trystik's glare landed on Kit. "The shield is mine. I won it fair and square."
"For god's sake, Tryst, it's just a shield!", Cirrius replied, "Let it go, man!"
"It's NOT just a shield...it's my honor."
Trystik stalked away, leaving the trio standing on the mountain.
"So, do we go after him, Star?" asked Kitfox, as she drew her Fateslayer.
Starshadow watched Trystik's figure slowly shrink into the distance. "No, my dear, not if you value your coherence. We must inform the house of this."
Cirrius nodded, and replied, "I agree Star. With the mood he's in, there's no telling WHAT he could do. Put your blade away, Kit."
Kitfox nodded, and sheathed her blade. "Well, whatever we're gonna do, we'd better hurry up and do it before he gets himself into trouble."
Ganthus was one of the first to arrive at the birthplace of the mare. Amazed at the size of the hole, he tried to assess what had happened. Sender, one of Ganthus' long time friends walked up.
"What do you think, my friend?"
"I don't know," Ganthus replied. "God help me, I don't know."
"Look at this...there's no turning outwards of the rock shards."
"You're right, and there's no darkening of the edges, either."
"This hole wasn't made from the explosion, Ganth."
"I can tell. But what COULD have made it? My lord, it's well over seven feet tall, and five feet wide!"
"I have a feeling that we'll find out all too soon. Look here, my friend." Sender said, pointing at the ground. Strewn out all around, were gigantic footprints, two feet long. "Each foot has four clawed toes, and judging from the impressions, whatever made these things must have weighed well over a ton."
Gantus looked off into the distance. He'd survived the Dreamer Wars. He'd survived the Nightmare Wars. He'd survived the Great Loss. Hell, he'd even survived the Great Awakening. But never, in all of his days, had he ever seen anything like this. And, for the first time, the thought that maybe he wouldn't survive this one crossed his mind.
Rasten walked slowly through the Cenotaph of Dread. His dark purple cape billowed behind him, catching the wind as he strolled, thinking to himself.
"That blast was nothing of the dream...", he muttered. "I must find out what is going on." He attempted again at his locate dreamer, and sighed, waiting. Where was she? Just as he was beginning to give up hope, and go in search of her, the Dark Mare appeared.
"About time, Kristukka.", Rasten said. The Darkmare whirled, and peered at Rasten.
"Klopta whotsi Kritsukka? Mu kranda Sable Moon?"
"Yes, Kristukka, I am of Sable Moon. I shall not collapse you, I merely want to talk to you."
Kristukka looked behind her, and turned to face Rasten. "Tzi. Ulpda vang."
"Afraid of what?"
Kristukka shuddered, and continued, "Ulpda vang qqpritzy Rumkala"
"Rumkala? Another Darkmare?"
"Tzi. Rumkala zdak kotokei. Eovac kotokei. Frrgth."
"Is this Rumkala another dreamer?"
"Rumkala tzi eovek."
"No, but what is he?"
Kristukka glanced fearfully behind her, and continued. "Rumkala kotke. Pantz kotoke. Kristukka vang!"
Rasten started to respond, but Kristukka dashed from the room. He sighed. Whatever is going on, he would need to find out more. He headed towards the house to see if anyone else had heard anything.
Just as he headed from the room, however, he felt a deep set feeling of fear. Without thinking, he dashed over behind a rock. As he sat there, a huge form lumbered into the room. It filled the room up to the ceiling, and had four viscous claws, one of which could almost effortlessly destroy any dreamer. It's small head was offset by it's huge jaws, filled overflowing with needle-like teeth. Two horns jutted out of it's head, which sat on his neck. The neck curled over, forming a U shape, which led to the huge body. A long tail stretched out five feet, tipped with a set of razor sharp blades. It's feet thumped as it walked, creating pits in the rock. Large sets of carapace covered it's body, creating a biological armor. Spikes hung off of its hunched neck like a perverted substitution for hair.
"So this is Rumkala", thought Rasten, "I can see why Kristukka was scared."
Rumkala smashed slowly through the room, crashing against the ceiling at times, and making dents in several of the walls. As Rumkala left the room, Rasten stood, and gathered his cape around him. "That...thing...is heading for the Dorsal rift...", he muttered, "I must hurry and tell the others, before it returns..."
Rumkala blundered his way through Underlight, with small disregard for walls and barriers. He sensed chaos...he needed chaos...onward. Chaos was freedom. Chaos was strength. Chaos was power. His spine tingled for the taste of dreamer blood, but he must gather more energy first. Chaos. He imagined the sweet taste of pure chaos, a memory from his times as an egg. Chaos. Onward. Chaos.
Rumkala approached the ever thickening waves of chaos as he wandered throughout the Dorsal Rift. With each passing moment, he grew even more stronger, and powerful. His teeth clattered in anticipation of the dreamer flesh that they would soon be rending. His claws yearned for the feel of their soft avatars coursing down the sides of the blades. Chaos. Chaos.
As the overwhelming power built within him, his mind then turned to other matters. He had fed on chaos, now he must feed on meat. He tilted his head, and sniffed the air. All around him, he smelled the sweet taste of chaos incarnate, the Dark Mares.
Lowering his gaze towards the nearest portal, the beast raised his giant feet, and started off in hunt of the elusive sweet meat.
Many dreams passed without word of Rumkala, and without any other incident.
The only pressing problem was the constant tension between the houses, since Dreamers of Light had declared war on the Protectors of Radiance. Dreamers began cutting off their friendships, and only travelling and talking with those of the same house as they. They avoided the Valley of Totality, and Mt. Illapse in the interest of keeping coherence.
Chakrams blazed with total abandon, flaring through the sky towards the opposition.
Massive firestorms, and earthquakes rocked the entire valley. The mountain was littered with essences from both sides, laying with haphazard abandon on the field.
Many of the other houses were lulled into a false sense of security, with nothing to fear from the two warring houses, unless they wandered onto the battlefield.
Therefore, many dreamers took to wandering their own planes, and engaging in their favorite pastimes.
One such instance happened in Lambent Flats. Many initiates of the Alliance were gathered in Lambent, playing their favorite game, Random Dare. All at once, all of the dreamers cast random.
A deep, booming choir of voices called out, "Jannut 48, SunFlame 83, Kerrit 67, Mayus 12, Mango 37." Mayus sighed.
"Damn.", he growled, then turned to Tarris, who was the acting referee. "So, what do I gotta do?"
Tarris' brow deepened in thought, and finally, he smiled. He reached into his pack, and pulled out a set of female's avatar clothing. He extended his arm towards Mayus, who took it grumblingly. "You must wear this for the next four rounds, Mayus.", Tarris said, smiling. Mayus begrudgingly stepped into the next room, changed into the clothes, and returned. Mango snickered as he entered the door.
"Gosh, Mayus, looks just like what I was wearing when I awakened!", she giggled. Mayus glared at her, but nonetheless took his spot in the circle. The dreamers were ready to begin the next round, when they heard someone come through the portal.
Everyone turned around, and gasped in surprise.
A female dreamer had entered. She had long blue hair, pulled up into a ponytail. Her skirts were gold and red, blending nicely with her whitened skin. She watched with an air of interest, and questioning. The midday sun glinted off of her emblem....her Protectors of Radiance emblem, boldly emblazoned on her chest.
Noticing the sudden silence drop over the room, she made the first move. "Greetings, fair dreamers!", she began, smiling, "My name is Kylie!"
Tarris walked over to her, and extended his arm. "Greetings, Kylie, I am Tarris, of the Alliance of the Eclipse. Welcome to Lambent." he said. His gaze dropped to her chest, and he continued, "I must question your reason for being here, however, given your houses current state."
Kylie smiled. "Fair enough, Tarris, and the answer is equally as easy." She gazed over the assembled dreamers, noting all of them wearing AoE emblems. "As with yourselves, I disavow violence. I will fight in defense of my house, but I refuse to fight for such petty reasons as the current one. I am not comfortable at the house, nowadays, so I wander."
Tarris smiled warmly. "Then, m'dear, you are more then welcome to join us here. We are engaging in a game of Random Dare."
Kylie giggled. "I kind of assumed it was something to that effect, as I noticed Mayus' boots are the same color as mine, though our dresses vary greatlly."
Mayus glared at her. "I don't think I like her already."
Everyone laughed, and Kylie was immediately accepted into the circle.
"Okay, everyone, Random again!", Tarris called out. Everone began evoking, and chaos' multi-voiced voice called out again, "Jannut 26, SunFlame 73, Kerrit 8, Mayus 53, Mango 74, Kylie 100."
There was a collective gasp. "Gosh, Kylie, one hundred!", exclaimed Tarris, as he smiled. "Now, as for you, Kerrit.."
Tarris appeared deep in thought, and finally smiled. "Run up to the house, and ask Ruler Zelik for a codex, saying "Zelik is a bog-hugging emp-kisser."
Kerrit paled. "Uhh..umm, okay..." she said, as she slowly walked to, and out of the portal.
"We will go on, and contine until she returns.", he declared, "Everyone Random!"
Again, the deep voices called out, "Jannut 78, SunFlame 7, Mayus 95, Mango 72, Kylie 100".
Everyone turned and stared in wonderment at Kylie, and she grinned. "TWO hundreds in a row? My god, Kylie, you are the luckiest person I've ever beheld!" Tarris said, in wonderment. "However, YOU SunFlame, I cannot say the same for!" He chuckled heartily. "I have a special task for you, Sun. You are to go after Kerrit, and convince Zelik that Kerrit is going to show the codex to everyone in Underlight, and that it is NOT for a game of Random Dare."
SunFlame smiled, and dashed off after Kerrit.
"Alright, everyone, once agiain!", Tarris said, holding up his arm.
The deep, chaotic voices called out, "Jannut 48, Mayus 12, Mango 37, Kylie 100."
Everyone glared at Kylie. "What are you doing, Kylie? One hundred, I would believe. Two, I would find astonishing. Three, I find downright dis believable.", Tarris said, scowling.
Kylie looked about in confusion. "I do not know...I have never used this art before today!"
Tarris glanced at her in disbelief. He was just about to retort, as the portal behind him opened, and a dreamer dashed in. A dreamer dressed in gold and black rushed in, and raised a chak at Kylie. "Die, you PoR scum...", he said, as he fired the chakram. Kylie dodged deftly aside, and gazed at the dreamer.
"Who are you?", she asked exasperatly.
"My name is Trystik.", he said simply, as he loosed another chakram blast at her.
Kylie fell to the ground, and the chak flew over her. Kylie stood, and tried to dash toward the portal to escape. Just as she was about to escape through the portal, there was a deep, bass rumble. The entire earth shook, in violent, rhythmic trembles. Trystik fumbled, and dropped his chakram as the dreamscape shifted, and tossed. Kylie fell off her feet, and rolled from the portal.
The portal darkened, and darkened, until it was blacker than night. Everyone drew away in fear of it. Something big was nearing the portal. The tremors continued their incessant beat.
THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP THUMP
Mayus, Mango, Jannut, and Terris dashed to the other side of the room, and hid behind a boulder. Kylie looked at them pleadingly, trying helplessly to regain her footing, to stand. Trystik's gaze dashed from looking fearfully at the portal, to a hate filled glare at Kylie, and back to the portal.
Kylie finally managed to regain her feet, and began to run to the boulder, while Trystik stood his ground near the portal. He glared back at Kylie.
"First, I shall deal with this, but you, my dear, are next.", he said, then yelled, "DEATH TO THE PROTECTORS!"
The portal exploded outward, and the force knocked Trystik clear across the room. The opening was filled with a darkness complete. Then, bone white claws crept their way through, followed by dark, red eyes, burning with hunger. Rumkala entered the room, and stood, extending to his full glory. His eyes landed on Kylie, and fixed, burning with an intense hunger for chaos. Trystik followed his gaze, and jumped, furiously.
"I WILL KILL HER! NOT YOU!" he screamed, as he drew his chak, and dashed toward Rumkala.
He fired a blast at it. The level 60 chakram flamed toward the mare, and exploded right below it's face. The mare turned, unhurt, and his gaze landed on Trystik. Trystik, too overcome with hate, didn't notice the mare's unphased condition, and began repeatedly firing chakram blasts at it. The mare was blanketed by blasts, hitting it's arms, tail, legs, chest, head, neck, but none of them appeared to injure it in the least. The mare's gaze, however, changed from a glare of annoyance, and hate. The mare began to step towards Trystik.
"Trystik, MOVE!", shouted Tarris, but he was unheard by Trystik, who was too involved in the hopeless battle to notice.
The mare rose over Trystik, completely oblivious to the pummeling by the chakram. He extenended his claws, and prepared to finish this annoyance. Just as his claws descended, a figure dashed by, knocking Trystik out of the way.
Ganthor rolled across the floor, his well muscled, and battle-trained body reacting instantly to the circumstances. He pushed Trystik aside, and stood to face the mare.
Rumkala glared at his escaped prey, and then, lowered his gaze to the thief, this new dreamer. Ganthor reached to his belt, and grabbed his Gatesmasher. The mare neared, and Ganthor began circling him warily. The mare's tail waved behind it, and the claws wavered in anticipation. Ganthor stepped slowly side to side, circling the mare.
Rumkala made the first move, slashing sideways with his claw. Ganthor rolled under the swing, and dashed in to strike at the underside. But, his attack was cut off, as the other claw stabbed towards him from underneath the first. Ganthor jumped the piercing stab, and attempted to swing his blade, as the first claw was being withdrawn, but was too slow, and ended up having to dodge another attack. The two began circling again. Ganthor feinted towards the left, and the mare swung. Ganthor moved to the right, and made to stab at the mare's neck, but was caught slow again, and missed his window. He dashed aside from the claw, and started to move back.
As Ganthor's attention was totally on Rumkala's claws, he didn't notice the tail dashing towards him, until it was almost too late. He dashed aside, but was caught along the arm by the razor sharp tail. Blood flowed down his arm, mingling in with the red from the scars of battles past. The mare withdrew its tail, and, thinking Ganthor to be mortally wounded, uttered a chortling laugh of defiance. It gave Ganthor just enough time to dash between the claws, and sink his chakram into the creature's soft underside.
Rumkala looked at Ganthor, and screamed. Not a scream of pain, however, a scream of joviality. As if he was part of some big joke. Ganthor pulled his blade out, and stabbed it in again. The mare's laughter increased, and grew ominous. Ganthor backed away, his face paling. Behind him, Trystik screamed, and began to fire chakram blasts at Rumkala, again. Ganthor stood, entranced, as the mare absorbed the blasts painlessly.
How could he kill something that he could not hurt? As Rumkala's laughter ceased, his gaze returned to Ganthor, with a look of death on his face.
Ganthor realized that he was going to die if he stayed here. He backed away slowly, as Rumkala lumbered toward him, claws and tail waving mesmerically.
Trystik screamed in frustration, and tossed the empty chakram at Rumkala. Then, from out of nowhere, a charm blast blazed across the room.
"Run, everyone!", yelled Tarris, as he held up his paralyzing charm.
Ganthor came to his senses, and looked behind him. He had noticed when he came in from tracking the creature, that he had seemed interested in Kylie. He spotted her behind the boulder, and ran over and grabbed her. Her body was paralyzed in fear, so she didn't resist, nor even notice. He dashed out of the portal. Trystik glared after him, following, screaming threat's to all members of PoR. The alliance members dashed from behind their rock, and headed out toward the house at full speed.
Ten minutes later, Rumkala regained his ability of movement. He screamed a howl of anger and frustration, a howl so loud, long, and piercing, that it could be heard through all of Underlight. His eyes gleamed with a look of pure, unadulterated hatred.
He sniffed the ground, and faced the portal. They went this way. His razor grin widened, and he began walking, following the path.
Ganthor dashed through the Dreamscape, carrying the unconscious Kylie in his arms. He ran for his life, and hers. This new mare was more than he, of anyone he knew of could handle. He arrived in Trinity, and spied a sanctuary. He dashed inside, and sat Kylie down on the floor. He patted her face, and she slowly regained consciousness.
"Wh..whe..where am I?" she muttered. Suddenly, her eyes flew open, and she looked at this mysterious man, and jumped. "Who are you?!" She backed away, and cringed near the wall.
"Don't be afraid, I saved you." Ganthor replied.
Satisfied that he wasn't going to collapse her, Kylie slowly began to warm.
"What WAS that thing? Trystik used several different chakrams on it, and it wasn't hurt!."
"Aye, and I used my blade, but to no avail."
"Your weapons will ne'er affect it, my friends.", a dark figure said, stepping out from the shadowed walls. "No one's will."
Kylie peered at the new figure. His long dark hair swept down from a Widow's peak. It slid gracefully down his back, intermingling with a long, dark purple cape. His face was the face of a thinker, light, and contemplative. His eyes were filled with more knowledge than one man should know. They reflected endless hours of studying, exploring, and researching. The mouth was unaccustomed to smiling, for it was engaged for hours on end in contemplative thought.
"Who are you?" she asked.
The figure laughed. "It's not surprising that you know naught of me. I am the traveler Rasten, of the noble Order of the Sable Moon."
"And how do you know so much about that....thing?" asked Ganthor gruffly.
"My friend, I have been following, and studying that nightmare since the day it entered the dream. I have spent endless hours trailing it, and studying it." Rasten said,
"No one has been able to find a weakness, but that may change."
Rasten extended his hand, displaying a large chunk of pulsating, heaving mass.
"I followed it when it attacked a large group of dark mares. I talked to them before hand, and we arr.."
"You TALKED to Dark Mares?" Kylie asked incredulously.
Rasten smiled, looking at her, with the look of a mother to a hatchling. "Yes, m'dear. If you don't attack them without thought, they are rather interesting conversationalists. As I was saying, I arranged for them to set up a defensive, and try to at least injure him. As I sat watching, the Dark Mares attacked him."
Rasten frowned. "Alas, the battle was nearly over before it had begun. Rumkala, as it is named, is a powerful fighter. My friend, a Dark Mare named Kristukka, however, remembered my hope, and spent her life to chop off a bit of the creature. It didn't injure it, as it immediately restored, yet, it gave me an invaluable piece to study."
Rasten looked longingly at the mass of darkness.
"This object may well be the only way that we can defeat him."
Rumkala stopped chasing the dreamers. They would stop, eventually. Then he would chase them. He sniffed the air, and turned in a different direction. He smelled charred elements, blood. He smelled violence, and hate. He smelled chaos. He smashed through portal after portal, and burst into the Valley of Tranquility.
Dreamers stood everywhere, engaged in combat. Rumkala stepped into the fray, regardless of personal damage. Several stopped their combat to stare at him, but most were so emerged in their hatred, that they didn't.
Rumkala began to slay dreamer after dreamer, wading through the bodies like a thresher walking through wheat fields. He'd swing his scythe like claws, and slash through the bodies of 2 or 3 dreamers a stroke. His claws sent blood, and essence flying through the air, like a perverse type of rain. His needle like teeth peeled in a humongous grin, adding to the dreamer's fear. His claws went smashing through one skull, and then another. The crushing of bones, and the splattering of blood intermingled with screams blended in with the shouts of commands, the blare of chakram fire, and the yells of the war. Dreamer's essences lay behind him, outlining the path of ravage and destruction he wrought. Dreamer essence, and blood lay splattered all over his carapace, face, and body, like tattered clothing. With each whack, he seemed to grow stronger, more powerful.
His red eyes, normally dull with hate, glared blazing red with the lust of battle. His bone-white claws became stained red with the endless stream of blood flying through the air around him.
Both armies gradually became aware of the trail of littered death and carnage being wrought across the battlefield. They spied a nightmare, and began attacking it.
Protector of Radiance, and Dreamer of Light attacked it as one. But, they were also fighting amongst themselves, as to who would fight it. A Protector would fire 3 shots at the mare, and then fire 2 shots at a Dreamer trying to slay it. And, the same went for the Dreamers of Light.
Rumkala continued merrily thwacking his way across the battlefield, with reckless abandon. Protector or Dreamer, made no difference to him. Heads continued to roll, and bodies continued to be hacked. Blood flew in founts, and flesh was flayed.
Dreamers continued to attack, but many realized the futile ness of the action, and ran back to defend their house. However, regrettably, many stayed under the delusion that they could defeat it. And, they were slain for their pride.
Ganthor, Kylie, and Rasten paced slowly up the pathway towards the Order of the Sable Moon. Upon reaching the entrance, Rasten turned toward them.
"Please wait here, my friends, I will go, and show this to the rulers. Hopefully, they can figure out some path of action.", he said, as he entered the portal.
Ganthor sat down, and began calmly cleaning his Gatesmasher, while Kylie stared absentmindedly at the moon. She turned toward Ganthor, observing him as if for the first time.
Several scars crossed his heavily muscled arms. His bearded jaw was set with firm resolve. His mustache drooped below his chin, giving him the appearance of always being unhappy, and depressed, like something heavy weighed at his conscience. His eyes were steeled, with a look of detachment. But, they still gave off a look of warmth.
She gazed off at the moon again. Suddenly, a deep pain seared across her skull, and light flashed in her eyes. A deep chorus of voices screamed through her brain, millions screaming out in pain, and despair. The voices smashed through her head, shouting, screaming, screeching, yelling, whining, hurting.....dying.
Kylie screamed from the searing pain, and collapsed in a heap on the ground, clutching at her skull.
Ganthor was over to her almost before she hit the floor. He looked at her flushed face, screaming in obvious pain and agony. Her body twisted, and thrashed, fighting an unseen enemy. He tried to calm her, but his attempts only further enraged the scrambling, screaming female.
Three of Sable's Guardians dashed out the portal, and beheld the strong, heavily muscled, and greatly scarred man, fighting to hold down the struggling, screaming female. The head guardian dashed at Ganthor, knocking him off of Kylie. Another grabbed his blade, while the third picked up Kylie, and took her to the safety of the house.
Ganthor recovered from the shock of being attacked, just in time to dodge a blow from the head guardian. The other guardian dashed into the frey with his Fatesender flashing. The two guardians parried with Ganthor as he drew his Gatesmasher, and began dueling. The blades flashed, with each blow deftly warded off by Ganthor. The guardians began circling him, but Ganthor kept moving so that they couldn't get on each side of him.
"You guys are making a big mistake..", Ganthor said.
"I think it best you leave, Sir," said the head guardian, "before we force you to."
"Not without the girl."
The head guardian dashed forward, his Soulreaper glowing in the noonday sun.
"You'll naught harm her again!", he bellowed.
Ganthor parried the blow, and fought the guardian back against the wall.
Suddenly, a voice called out, "Surrender."
Ganthor turned around to see the two other guardians, along with several others were assembled. All had chakrams, pointed at him. Knowing that there was to be no reasoning with them, Ganthor tried desperately to think of an avenue of escape. His only chance was a Teal Alteror he had been keeping for hunting. His hand darted into his pack, and he disappeared.
"Everyone, ward the Portals !", the head guardian screamed. However, by the time that the portals were warded, Ganthor was already on his way down Trinity.
Trystik lay battered on the lower parts of Lambent flats. That creature had plowed past him with incredible speed, hardly aware of his presence. Then, it stopped.
He had feared that it had noticed him, and prepared to do battle. However, the monster merely hung his head, shook it, and started in a different direction.
Suddenly, Trystik noticed which direction it was...it was headed towards DoL.
With a superhuman effort, Trystik stood. He lumbered a few steps in the direction of DoL, but collapsed. His strength was completely gone.
He lay back, and rested. So, he would die. He would die with his honor tarnished. He wouldn't die in battle, but from being bumped and trampled hopelessly to death by a mare. He wouldn't die in his house, near his brothers, but alone in Lambent, the backyard of the peace loving Alliance of the Eclipse.
He lay down, prepared to give up, and enter the darkness. Just as he was about to lose complete coherence, a figure ran in, and stopped short.
"My god, boy, what's happened to you?"
Trystik's eyes grew red at recognition of the voice. "Get AWAY, you bastard. I don't need help, much LESS the help of a friend of those POR SCUM!"
Ganthor leaned down, and picked the battered, beaten, and almost lifeless form up. "My god, boy, I'm gonna get it through your skull yet that I'm not your enemy.", he said, strongly. "I'm gonna take you to Calenture, and see if we can't get you taken care of."
"I don't need the help of any of you!", screamed Trystik
"Too bad, son, looks like you're gonna get it whether you like it or not."
Rasten stood in the library, running several studies over the mass he'd gotten. He tried several different things to it, but to no avail. Evoking chaos actually seemed to make it stronger, and larger. Flames were absorbed by it, and his blade just passed through it.
He'd called in others, and noted that their results appeared to be the same. He stared at the seemingly invulnerable mass laying on his hastilly constructed table, which lay there pulsating, seemingly gloating.
He walked back to the shelf, and pulled off another codex, and began poring over the inscriptions. He sighed. None of this was any help. The codi didn't hold any information. Then, off in the corner, his gaze happened to land upon an old, unused codex, lying abandoned in the corner. He walked over, took it off the shelf, and dusted it off. He looked down through the various inscriptions on it, and began to smile.
He'd never seen this one before. This was their only hope. He'd have to take time, and study the evocations in scripted here, but it could be done. His faint smile slowly grew.
An initiate rushed into the library.
"Master Rasten!", he cried, "we need your assistance!"
"What's wrong, Kels?"
"The guardians just discovered a man attacking a female dreamer outside. She's gone into hysterics!"
"By the Moon, what have those fools done now? That man was taking CARE of her!", Rasten said, sighing. "Oh, well, take me to see her."
The initiate paled, and replied, "Yes, m'lord."
Kels led Rasten to the teaching chamber, where Kylie had been laid on the floor.
Her eyes darted back and forth, in extreme fear, and trepidation. Her blue hair was tossed around her haphazardly, and her skirts were ripped from her nervous reflexes.
Rasten took in the scene, reached the pockets of his cloak, and withdrew a small vial of liquid, and a small pouch of dust. He knelt over her fevered face, and lightly sprinkled the dust on her forehead. Then, he took the small vial, and tipped a drop of the crystal liquid on her tongue.
Kylie's frantic motions calmed, and she finally dropped into a deep, and restful sleep. Her face relaxed, removing all the lines of tension, and in trepidation. The look of terror relaxed into a calm peaceful face.
"There, she will be fine.", Rasten said, looking towards the guardians. "Now, what happened here?"
"Sir, we heard a scream, and we went outside, and saw a very strong man holding this woman down on the ground, and we naturally..."
"Holding her down, you say? Much as were you, to keep her from injuring herself, correct?"
The guardian's face blanched. "Sir, we told him to leave, and he resisted. We were forced to do battle with.."
"Did you give him a chance to state his piece, or did you just attack him?"
"Sir, we did what we thought right under the circumstances."
Rasten nodded to the guardian. "I know, brother. Just next time please think before you act."
The guardian nodded, and, properly rebuked, left the room
"Now, initate Kels, I have a job for you."
"Go to House Calenture, and bring back Sir Ganthor. Tell him that the issue has been resolved, and he is welcome to return."
Ganthor walked into House Calenture with Trystik slung over his shoulder.
Jellen, and Branthus were standing guard when he entered. Exchanging glances at each other, they went to help him.
"Guard this soul until I can fetch Guardian Mikkel."
"Aye, sir." They responded simultaneously.
Ganthor saluted, and continued on into the house. He returned minutes later, followed by a dreamer dressed completely in chalk.
"By the dream, what HAPPENED to him, Ganthor?" Mikkel asked, gazing down at the battered, and bloody form of Trystik laying on the stones below.
"He was attacked by the new mare that I told you of."
"A mare did this?" Mikkel said, looking at him, quizically. Trystik's form was completely battered. Parts of his avatar were bleeding; and several had lost complete coherence, and were simply fuzzy patches of existence surrounding his body. Mikkel laid his palm atop the dreamer's head.
"He was so beat up, I knew that you would be the only one able to restore him, Mik." Ganthor replied. "Something's going to happen in the dream, and I feel we're going to need every dreamer we can save."
Mikkel nodded, and closed his eyes. The hand he laid atop Trystik's head began to glow softly. Jellen and Branthus watched in amazement as the glowing haze around Trystik's body slowly dissapated, and lost limbs seemed to magically regrow from his battered form. Long slashes in his avatar grew smaller, and smaller. Bruises and scabs dissipated, and his body was soon restored to it's former self. Trystik's eyes fluttered slowly, and at last he regained consciousness.
As his eyes opened, he looked around in amazement, which was swiftly replaced by fear, as his eyes darted to the two wearing guard uniforms, to guardian who had healed him, and finally landed on Ganthor.
He started to speak, but Mikkel beat him to it.
"Now, sir, I want you to just lay there, and say naught for a bit, while your body completely re-heals itself."
Trystik managed a faint nod.
"Your assistance is greatly appreciated, Mikkel." Ganthor said, "I am forever in your debt."
Mikkel laughed. "You, in my debt, Ganthor? You've saved my life more times than I care to remember!"
Ganthor chuckled. "Well, at any rate, if I may ever be of assistance to you, don't hesitate to ask, my friend."
Mikkel smiled. "Well, I must return to my studies. Tehthu is biting people again, and we must hurry, and devise a cure for it. Take care, my friend".
He turned to Trystik, "And you, Dreamer of Light, take heed to anything Ganthor tells you. He's been around a lot longer than you have." Mikkel smiled, and then left.
Trystik laid there for a while, as Ganthor conversed with the guards. He'd been saved. He'd been saved by the enemy...by one aligned with PoR. Why? Why should he have been saved? He sat up as another dreamer entered House Calenture, bearing the symbol of the Order of the Sable Moon.
Ganthor turned warily towards the newcomer, as he stepped cautiously inside.
"So, Initiate of the Order, shall I pointlessly attack you, as your house did me?"
The initiate paled, and replied, "Sir, I was sent by Rasten, a member of our house. I was to tell you that the matter had been resolved, and he begs of you to return to our house. If I may sir, I apologize of behalf of our house, but you must realize the situation we encountered, a much stronger male, wrestling with a smaller, frantic female."
Ganthor smiled, and nodded. "I understand. I just hope that next time, you give your "criminal" a chance to explain circumstances, if the victim cannot."
The initate nodded, and said. "Sir, if you will please follow me, I shall take you to Rasten. It is, I believe, urgent."
Ganthor nodded, and turned to the guards. "Keep watch over this dreamer, and try not to let him cause any trouble, okay?"
Trystik managed to stand up. "I'm going with you..."
Ganthor looked at him curiously. He was clearly in no shape to travel, but from the look in his eyes, he would follow anyway. Thinking, he looked around. A large staff lay against one of the walls, used by one of the rulers during meetings. A quick scan told him that the ruler wasn't dreaming now, so he took it, and tossed it to Trystik.
"Take this..it'll make it easier for ya."
Trystik was about to toss the staff aside, and state that he needed no aids, but the look in Ganthor's eyes stopped him. He managed a strangled, "Yes, sir.", and put his weight on the staff, and hobbled down the stairs.
Together, the three of them walked to Sable Moon.
Rasten walked the now coherent Kylie to the entrance of the house, and there, they awaited Ganthor. As they waited, Kylie explained to Rasten about the voices she'd heard within her head, all the screaming, and crying out. Rasten nodded softly.
"M'dear, we've received word that during that time, the new mare was wreaking havoc on the battlefield. Many of the DoL, and PoR warriors died, along with many of the HC warriors whom were fighting alongside PoR.", he said, softly, "I believe that the shouts, and cries you heard were their death calls, as chaos consumed them."
Kylie paled, horrified by the news. She was about to reply, when Ganthor, Kels, and Trystik, still hobbling on the cane, all came through the portal.
Kels, and Ganthor bowed towards Rasten. Trystik managed a small leaning forward, before the staff came out from under him, and he fell down onto his posterior. Blushing furiously, he regained his feet, and nodded to the Order. Rasten bowed back, grinning.
"Fear not, noble dreamer," he said, smiling to Trystik, "You have lost no honor by showing that we all have weaknesses. Now, everyone, I must talk with all of you."
The guardians of the house stepped inside, and called the other house members out, where they all assembled in the courtyard, below the steps. Kylie sidled over to Trystik, helping him to stand. Trystik glared at her PoR symbol, yet silently thanked her kindness.
Rasten stood on the steps, facing the audience. "Brothers, and noble visitors.
The dream has been threatened by a new danger. A mighty mare, whom goes by the name of Rumkala. This is no normal mare, yet it is not a Dark Mare. In fact, the Dark Mares are as threatened by it as are we. Many Dark Mares have gone into hiding since it arrived, and, in fact, many have fled back into the chaos from which they were spawned."
Murmurs passed through the crowd, and Rasten raised his hands for silence..
"Many have tried to defeat this mare, but to no avail. Gatekeepers, Dreamseers, Soulmasters, and Fatesenders alike have all found their weapons to be useless against this mare. Blades pass right through him, and he seems to absorb flame arts. Even random was evoked, in a vain attempt to injure him. However, THAT actually made him stronger. We are dealing with a creature which is nearly PURE chaos, and, as of yet, have discovered no way to defeat him. Then, while searching through the library, I discovered the art that the ancients used to seal up chaos, and have been working towards converting it into a form that we can use against this creature."
Nods of approval, and mutters passed throughout the crowd.
"I believe that I have the solution, as it was rather simple to discern how to convert the art. Now, we must hunt down this creature, and DESTROY it!"
Cheers rose throughout the crowd, a wave of deafening roars, and screams.
Then, a dreamer stumbled through the portal, near collapse.
"It....it...it's in....Thresh..", he muttered, before he passed out on the cold, stone floor.
Rasten said, turning to Kels, "Kels, restore this poor dreamer. Ganthor, Kylie, Trystik, Brothers of the Moon, follow me! To Threshold!" Cheers arose throughout the crowd, and the sound to blades being drawn rang throughout Sable Moon, as all the dreamers headed out toward their destination....Threshold.
Trinity Plains filled with the warriors of Sable Moon, led by the traveler Rasten, the warriors Ganthor and Trystik, and helping Trystik was Kylie, a Soulmaster from the Protectors of Radiance. Rasten's leadership was appearant, as he led the throng of dreamers straight to their course, shouting out the plan of attack as he went. Rasten ordered a third of Sable Moon to guard each exit from the Pits, and the last third to stand guard in the Library of Souls. They were to ward the portal, and the four leaders were to go down, and hunt out the beast.
He came to this decision, because he would need time to evoke the art, and the beast had to be occupied. Ganthor and Trystik could battle it, as Trystik constantly needed the staff as time went on. By the time that they arrived in Threshold, he would hardly need it. He was taking Kylie, because there was something mysterious about her.
He didn't quite have it pegged down yet, but there was some link between her and chaos. The entered Threshold in the chambers of Sable Moon, and Rasten divided them up. Then, the four dreamers entered the library, and went down to the pits.
Rasten warded the Portal behind him, and turned to the other dreamers.
"Okay, we must hunt down this beast, and I will evoke the art on him. Ganthor, Trystik, I require you to engage the beast, to occupy him while I evoke the art."
Ganthor, and Trystik nodded, and Kylie looked confused.
"What am I needed for, Rasten?" she asked.
Rasten smiled. "For many reasons, Kylie, but none that will be apparent to you as of yet. Come, let us hunt.", he said, and headed off.
Trystik shrugged, and followed him, leaning lightly on the staff still. Ganthor turned to Kylie, and said, "I'm sure that he has a reason for endangering your life. He's the kind that you trust, without question."
Placated by Ganthor's affirmation, Kylie followed the other three out of the door.
After fifteen minutes of fruitless hunting, Ganthor turned to Rasten.
"Are you sure he's still here?"
"Yes, my friend. I can feel it. Speaking of feelings...", Rasten said, and turned to Kylie. "M'lady, do you perceive anything peculiar?"
Kylie closed her eyes, appearing deep in thought. Seconds later, she opened them, a shocked, fearful look in her eyes.
"I can hear it...", she whispered softly.
Rasten smiled. "So, you see m'lady, why you were brought.", he said, and then motioned to her. "Would you care to lead us?"
Kylie fearfully took the lead, and they continued onward through the pits.
After a short while of walking, Kylie stopped.
"He's in there.", she said, pointing at a portal, shivering.
Rasten smiled softly at her. "Good work, m'lady. Now, I want you to stay out here while we go in, and destroy him. I shall not have you endangering yourself."
Kylie nodded weakly.
"Alright, Trystik, Ganthor, follow me."
Without another word, they entered the portal.
Rumkala roared in defiance. Rasten dashed in, followed by Ganthor, and Trystik.
Ganthor dashed at the beast, swinging his Gatesmasher futility. Trystik ran to the other side of the chamber, and began loosing charm blasts, ineffectively. Rasten took cover behind a boulder, and pulled the codex from within his cloak. He began carefully re-reading the inscription he had put there, and got the art firmly in his mind.
Ganthor dashed underneath the claws, and aimed a swing at the creature's eyes. He had to keep it busy, so it would have no time to notice Rasten hiding behind the boulder. Rumkala's claw swung beneath, nearly impaling Ganthor. Ganthor stumbled back, and readied another blow at it's arm. He jumped upward as the beast swung, and stabbed downward. The beast had, however, readied it's tail, in anticipation of the move, and smacked Ganthor full in the chest. The dreamer flew through the air, landing next to the portal.
Trystik jumped in between Rumkala, and Ganthor. Pulling his blade, and tossing the staff aside, he advanced on the mare. Rumkala stepped forward, anxiously, and Trystik dashed under it's arm, and around behind it. He stabbed his blade in the base of its neck, and jumped off. The mare's tail swung wildly, but missed Trystik completely.
Ganthor stood back up, and dashed toward the mare, while it was occupied. He swung a blow at the claw, and the blades clashed. The two were locked in pure combat of strength, claw against blade. Rumkala pushed, and sparks flew. Ganthor was pushed back, and his blade knocked away. He quickly evoked another one, but before he could, Rumkala swung his claw forward, and pounded against Ganthor. He took the blow, and rolled across the floor. He slowly stood up, in obvious pain.
Trystik took the chance to aim another strike at Rumkala, and sunk his blade in the lower back of the mare. Irritated, Rumkala turned, and swung his claw at Trystik.
The dreamer was sent sprawling across the room, and tried vainly to stand up.
Rumkala looked at the two helpless dreamers, and roared, victorious.
"Ulpda Rumkala!! Eovak eoknu! Qntf Ganthor, qtnf Trystik, Rumkala pantz! Ulpda plag!!!", it roared.
At that instant, Rasten stood from behind the wall, and let loose the art on Rumkala. The room was filled with a blight, glowing blue luminescence, as runes burned through the air, and symbols flashed against the wall. Rumkala was immersed in a bath of sky blue radiance, and he roared in defiance. Rasten stood sweating, as waves of power poured from his body towards the mare. His palms burned with bright blue fire, streams of light flowed from his hands. A roaring blast filled the air, and then, all was still.
In the shadows, two red beacons of light still glowed. Rumkala looked at the dreamers, and then dashed from the room, roaring in defiance. He smashed through the portal, and beyond.
"Kylie!!!", yelled Trystik, dashing after the mare.
Rasten, and Ganthor stood, and ran from the room.
The room that they entered, however, was vacant. Kylie was gone.
Rasten dashed out of the portal, with Ganthor right at his cape. They emerged into the room to see a Trystik standing in the middle of it, hands clenched in fists of rage. His body shuddered, and staring at the ceiling, he let loose a quick, soul-wrenching cry,
His eyes were filled with a rage never before seen. Ganthor was stunned. Never in his life had he seen such intense hatred, and complete surrender to emotion as in this young punk before him.
Trystik's eyes dashed around madly, and he took off down the corridor.
"Hurry, come on, Ganthor," Rasten called out, heading down the hall after him.
"We must worry about him, now. In his state, he'll kill himself just to take that beast down."
Ganthor nodded, already running. They passed corridor after corridor, swiftly running back the way that they'd come. Trystik was just barely in sight, so far ahead was he. The walls passed by with a speed Ganthor had never thought himself capable of achieving.
As they came to the entrance to the library, they noticed that the portal had been smashed through. Portal, and all. Rasten looked at Ganthor fearfully. His look asked the silent question both were afraid to ask out loud. "Can it be killed?"
Following Trystik, they emerged into the Library of Souls, to meet a gruesome sight. Dreamer's essences littered the floor like a wierd perversion of a carpet. The small miniature statuettes laid haphazardly on the floor, scattered to the winds. Rasten picked up one, and looked at it, with a small tear in his eye.
A small essence of a female dreamer.
He gently placed it in a fold of his cloak, and turned to Ganthor.
"Did you see where Trystik went?"
Ganthor shook his head.
Rasten quickly evoked locate dreamer, but he couldn't find Trystik. Realization slowly dawned on him. "His mind is so clouded by fury, I can't find him. His mind is blending in with the chaos around him. We must stop him!"
Ganthor nodded, and, evoking a locate dreamer of his own, replied, "Kylie is in Dorsal Rift. He'll be headed there."
The two dashed off out of the portal, headed for Dorsal.
Rumkala flew through Underlight, with the unconscious Kylie slung between his claws. This one was rich in chaos...he would savor eating this one. He smashed through portal after portal, heedless of any obstacle in his way. He flew through the dreamscape, smashing, bashing, trashing, and collapsing any dreamer who dared to stand in his way.
Those following him had power.
Power. He must return to chaos, restore his strength.
With Kylie slung over his shoulder like a common rag, he smashed through the portal into the Dorsal Rift, and stopped.
His body shook with a shudder of delight. Chaos. Fire. Heat.
His glowing red eyes took in the surroundings, and searched for the break into chaos, which he knew had to exist. He would enter chaos, and there, he would be invincible. He sat the female dreamer down on the floor, and continued to search every crevice for a sign of the rift. He could feel it....chaos was strong here.
As he was searching, he heard a shout behind him, and turned around in time to parry Trystik's careless thrust. The mare grinned evilly at him, his needle like teeth shining like millions of small blades. Rumkala parried the thrust with one claw, and encircled the other claw around behing Trystik. Trapped, Trystik tried to squirm out of the hold. Before he could, however, Rumkala swung his tail from behind, and slammed it into Trystik's skull, which crushed with an audible crunch. Trystik screamed in pain and horror as his avatar collapsed around him. Trystik's avatar fell to the floor, and his soul floated in a small glowing orb above his body.
Seeing the dreamer rendered helpless, Rumkala turned to his work again. Trystik fumed with rage at his helplessness. He started to dash for the nearest sanctuary, when he caught a motion at the edge of his vision. He turned, just as Kylie restored him. Grasping his Fire Elemen firmly in his hand, he turned to Rumkala again, whom, intent on his work, had not noticed the restoration of Trystik.
"This is it.....", muttered Trystik to himself, as he dashed toward Rumkala again.
Rasten dashed up the Dreamscape, followed closely by Ganthor. Finding their way was easy, the destruction and total annihilation of the surroundings told the tale well enough. The continued their breakneck pace toward Dorsal. As they neared it, they heard Trystik's death scream.
"Come, we're almost there!", shouted Rasten.
Dashing through the last portal, they were greeted by complete chaos. Rumkala and Trystik were battling, and their arts, and blasts were threatening to tear the entire chamber down around them. Kylie was hunched up against the wall, holding her hands to her head, shivvering. Ganthor, without a second thought, dashed into combat, while Rasten ran over to Kylie. as Ganthor and Trystik battled Rumkala, he spoke to her quickly.
"Kylie, where is the rift? We must not let him open the rift!"
Kylie looked up at him sadly, with a tearful look that seemed to say, "it's too late."
It was. Rasten and Kylie were smashed into the wall as wave after wave of pure chaos enfolded them. Ganthor and Trystik screamed wails of pure and unadulterated pain. Colors whirled in front of their eyes, as they were sucked into the portal. Pure hate flowed through them, and around them. Rasten could feel his avater swiftly being dissolved from the chaotic forces rushing against them. With a herculean effort, he reached out with his arm against the myraid of colors, and groped. His hand met an object, and he pulled it near. It was Kylie.
"CONTROL IT, KYLIE!!!!", he shouted to her, over the roar of chaos, "YOU HAVE THE GIFT WITHIN YOU!!! CONTROL IT!!!"
He felt her thin, frail body shudder as he screamed, and it tensed. Her body quivered and shook as he held on to it. Then, slowly, the swirling slowed, and the roar quieted. The dull roar finally gave way to silence, and the colors slowly, slowly, stilled, to form a landscape in front of them. They were in a dark cave, with a hole in one side.
Kylie shuddered, and he pulled her close to him, to comfort her.
"You did good, Kylie. I knew that you would.", he whispered into her light blue hair, that seemed positively charged with electricity now. She sobbed, and buried her face in his chest even closer. She shivered, and Rasten swung his cloak around her small body to warm her. He glanced about the cave, eyes trying to pierce the darkness. As his eyes adjusted, he saw two battered bodies lying in a heap in one corner.
"Oh my god, Ganthor, Trystik!", he cried.
Kylie looked up, "What happened???" she asked, worriedly, her concentration waning. The world started to shift again, and a quiet roar began.
"Kylie, you must concentrate on containing the chaos!", Rasten said to her, softly.
Kylie gulped, and nodded.
"I will be right back, m'lady."
He disengaged her arms from around him, and walked over to Ganthor and Trystik. They appeared heavily damaged, but still alive. Trystik's body shuddered as he neared, and Rasten bent down.
"Did....did we....did we...get.....it?", Trystik gasped?
Rasten shook his head sadly. "No, it opened the portal, and took us into chaos."
"We're...we're in cha...", Trystik was interrupted by a swift series of coughs. The dreamscape shivered ominously, and Rasten flashed back around toward Kylie.
"Control it, girl, or we WILL lose them!", he said to her.
As the dreamscape calmed, he turned back to Trystik. "Kylie is ordering the chaos around us, so that we may comprehend it. She's the only reason any of us are alive."
He pressed a Fire Elemen into Trystik's palm.
"Hurry, my friend. He will be weak from opening the portal into chaos. We must hasten."
Trystik gripped the Elemen tightly, and began to look stronger, and healthier.
Rasten stepped toward Ganthor, and pressed another Elemen against his forehead.
Ganthor's eyes fluttered, and he slowly regained coherence. One look at Rasten told him all he needed to know. He gripped the Fire Elemen in his broad fist, and slowly anchored his coherence. Rasten turned back to Kylie.
"Now, m'dear, when we attack him, I want you to concentrate on holding the room secure. He's bound to have new tricks here in chaos, and we'll need you to help keep us anchored into the world."
Kylie nodded, near tears. Trystik put his arm around her akwardly, attempting to console her.
Nodding, Rasten turned to Ganthor. "Are we ready?"
Ganthor nodded solemnly. Trystik nodded. Kylie swallowed her tears, and nodded. Rasten nodded, grimly.
"Then, let us away."
Ganthor took the lead through the maze of narrow passageways, instructed by Kylie. The three warriors had unconsciously surrounded the brave girl, protecting her.
The passageways twisted and turned around, and in on themselves. Trystik would have sworn that they were going in circles, but Kylie still gave instructions with authority. The chambers that they passed through were plain, and non-descriptive.
After what seemed to be hours of pointless wandering, they came to a stop. Kylie closed her eyes, and pointed to the wall. "He's there." Ganthor looked at the area. "Kylie, there's nothing here but a rock wall!"
Kylie opened her eyes. "I only know what I know, Ganthor. I know that he's in there!"
Trystik looked at the wall, carefully. "Stand back, everyone.." he said. They stood aside, and he pulled out his strongest chakram, and fired at the wall. The chamber rattled, and pebbles fell down from above. Ganthor looked at the wall.
"No scorch marks, whatsoever.."
Rasten bent down to examine it. He reached out to touch it. Solid stone. As he caressed it with his fingers, the answer came to him. He stood up, and looked at Kylie.
"Open the door, Kylie. You control this realm. You shape it. You give order to it. Open the door, Kylie."
Kylie looked solemnly at Rasten, and nodded. She bowed her head, and the dreamscape shifted. A portal slowly appeared in the wall, faint at first, but then growing darker and more solid.
"Let's go." said Ganthor.
Nodding solemnly, they all dashed into the portal, for the final confrontation.
The dreamers dashed through the portal, and chaos enfolded them like a shroud.
Kylie swiftly went to work, organizing the chaos around them, and the area shifted swiftly into view. Darkness covered them completely. They were in complete blackness, complete emptiness. The blackness continued on forever in all directions, with nothing to stop its endless expanse. The four stood in silence, staring around at the complete emptiness. The gathered together, backs against each other. Each was the only link to sanity for the others, as the complete nothingness began to unnerve them. The only proof they had of their own existence was each other.
As they stood there, each began to question if the others really WERE there.
"Someone, say something..", Kylie said, just to break the maddening silence.
"Yes, Kylie, we're here.", Rasten answered. "Do you know where he is?"
As if in answer, two dull red dots appeared in the darkness. The eyes were surrounded by darkness more complete than the nothingness surrounding it; a shadow within a shadow. Before any of them could react, the creature was upon them, slashing and thrashing with furious speed.
Trystik dashed in front of Kylie, just as a claw descended toward her. He swung his Fateslayer, meeting the claw, and pushed it aside. He was immediately taken aside by a careless brush of the other claw, and knocked to the side. Rumkala headed straight toward Kylie, heedless of the others. Ganthor dashed forward, knocking Kylie behind him, and stood defending her with his Gatesmasher. As the beast neared, he dashed forward, underneath the flashing blades. The beast drew back, and swung it's massive tail around, smashing into Ganthor from the side.
Rasten hastily evoked invisibility on Kylie, and she vanished.
Rumkala roared in rage, and started toward the Dreamseer, hellbent on vengeance.
Drawing his Dreamblade with swiftness amazing for one who spends most of his time studying, he began to parry blows, and Rumkala reigned blow after blow towards him.
The two claws swung at once, and Rasten brought his blade up from below, and the three blades smashed together. The blades locked, and the two were caught in a fight of strength, a fight which Rasten had no hope of winning. He was pushed backwards with incredible force, and fell to the ground. The mare turned toward the forms of Trystik, and Ganthor, lying in the darkness. They began to rise as he headed toward them.
The mare dashed forward, and was upon them before they could stand. The mare hovered over them, his two gleaming blades slashing toward them with blazing speed.
The blades drove straight at their hearts, and the two braced for impact.
Suddenly, the blades stopped mere inches above their bodies.
"I've froze him! Move!!", shouted Kylie, who was still invisible.
"Everyone, here!", Rasten shouted. Everyone ran to him, and Kylie appeared next to him, as her Invisibility wore off. "Hands out!"
Looking at him questioningly, everyone extended their hands inward, and their hands rested upon each other. Rasten began chanting slowly.
"What in the name of..", Trystik started to ask, before Kylie cut him off with a finger to her lips.
Their hands slowly began to glow, as Rasten chanted mystically. Light gathered from the nothingness around them, and began to swirl around their bodies. Twirls, and streaks of light danced around them, and swirled slowly to their palms. The light gathered slowly, growing brighter until it was almost painful to look at.
A blazing burst of light forced all of them to look away. As they turned around, they all felt a small weight on their palms. A small, glowing blade was now sitting in their palms, pulsing with power; the power of will, insight, resilience, and lucidity. Pure unadulterated power coursed through the finely wrought blade. Rasten reached in, and took it. He handed it to Ganthor.
"The SoulStriker.", he answered to the unasked question. "A blade comprised of the power of all focuses. And, I suspect that you, Tristik, and Kylie, also notice some added power to yourselves."
Now that he mentioned it, Trystik did indeed notice something within himself. A power he'd never felt, something alien. Kylie nodded the affirmative.
"We've joined our power together, making us each more powerful. Before the different focuses separated, and became specialized, this was common practice." Rasten explained. "Now, let us finish this."
Turning toward the mare, he began to evoke. "Kylie, ", he said as his hands began to glow, "Keep him trapped. Trystik, as soon I blast him, cast Razorwind. That should weaken his defense enough for Ganthor to use the blade."
The mare began to stir, and Kylie froze him again. Rasten's blast exploded, and the frozen mare rocked in place. Trystik's Razorwind struck immediately afterward.
Ganthor dashed forward, and shoved the blade into the chest of the Nightmare. He felt the blade go in, and pushed it in as far as it would go. The blade's light grew brighter, and Ganthor hurried back toward the other dreamers. The light grew brighter, and then, a blast of light filled the nothingness. Everyone shielded their eyes, as light exploded around them. The mare's body exploded into pieces, and dissipated into nothingness.
As their eyes adjusted to the darkness, Rasten shouted, "It's still there!"
Surely enough, a dark shape floated above the shattered form of the Nightmare.
"Lend me your power, everyone!"
Kylie, Trystik, and Ganthor laid their hands on Rasten's shoulders, and unthinkingly began to funnel all their power into his avatar.
The dark form slowly began to take shape, as Rasten gathered power.
"Hurry Rasten," muttered Ganthor, as he continued to funnel his power.
Light gathered at Rasten's fingertips, and he pointed his hand toward to congealing Nightmare. Lights of all colors began to twirl around his fingers. The mare roared in defiance, and continued to take shape. The lights twirled through Rasten's fingers, until they blended together into a bright white light. They gathered themselves into a small sphere, and then blazed toward the mare with lightening speed. The mare screamed in pain, as the light exploded around it. A loud blast of energy exploded in the room, and was immediately followed by the sound of a filling vacuum. Rasten collapsed on the floor.
Kylie leaned down, and laid her hand on his forehead. "He's fine, but completely worn out. How on earth did he manage to cast Dream Strike?"
"He used our power, at risk to himself. All of that power flowing through him could well have scorched his very soul, and he could have died himself." Ganthor replied. "Let us leave here, there's nothing left."
Kylie nodded, and closed her eyes. Slowly, the portal out reappeared, and, with Ganthor carrying Rasten over his shoulder, they left.
The Library of Souls was filled with Dreamers of every house, and focus. The crowd filled the room, from door to door. People talked, and gathered in peace. Standing in the center, were three dreamers; Rasten, Kylie, and Trystik.
Kylie was dressed in a white gown, which was loaned to her from one of the rulers of the Protectors of Radiance. Trystik wore a black suit, garnered from the vault of the Defenders of Light. Rasten stood in the middle, in his customary dark purple cape, and his black hair trailing down through the folds.
He raised his arms for silence, and the dreamers all obeyed.
Love is, in itself, one of the most powerful forces of the dream, more powerful than Willpower, Insight, Resilience, Lucidity, or in fact all of them combined. It powers every action that these two engage in. It affects almost and decision that is ever made. Be it consciously, or unconsciously, love governs our lives. Do any here question their love, or their unification?"
Silence settled over the room, and Rasten waited. After a few seconds, he continued. "Trystik, Kylie, your wish to be unified is acceptable to all present. Do you, Trystik, pledge to love and honor Kylie, to stand by her regardless of house decisions, and to stand by her through any disputes? To cherish her above all others, and to swear to put her first and foremost in your dream?"
Trystik smiled at Kylie, and turned toward Rasten. "I do."
Rasten nodded, and turned to Kylie. Do you, Kylie, pledge to love and honor Trystik, to stand by him regardless of house decisions, and to stand by him through any disputes? To cherish him above all others, and to swear to put him first and foremost in your dream?"
Rasten nodded, and continued, "Please present the rings."
Out of the crowd stepped Ganthor, dressed in the uniform of a ruler of House Calenture, bearing in front of him a small pillow. Resting on the pillow were two intertwined pieces of silver, inlaid with gold. As he approached the trio, he smiled at Trystik, remembering when they first met. How unlikely it had seemed that they would even get along, much less have Ganthor as the best man at his wedding to a member of PoR. He stepped down, and presented the rings to Rasten.
Rasten presented the rings to the two dreamers.
"This is the final sign of your union. As you put these rings on each other's hands, you pledge yourselves to each other forever."
Kylie and Trystik took each ring gently, and placed it on the others fingers.
"Trystik," Rasten said with a grin, "You may now kiss the bride."
Trystik grinned, and took Kylie in his arms, and the two kissed.
"I now pronounce you man, and wife." Rasten said smiling.
And, as the two joined in matrimony, Threshold began to erupt in shouts of praise, and parties broke out in every house. Underlight began a day of pure celebration, and everyone was happy. Trystik and Kylie left on their honeymoon,
Rasten returned to his studies, and Ganthor returned to House Calenture to set up the celebration party there. And, forever afterwards, the four remained close friends. The dream entered a period of peace, and the houses ended their incessant warring and disputes. Love had entered the dream, and saved it.