Hawk slowly stood up. The world was still spinning but it eventually slowed down.
Suddenly he remembered what had happened.
His hands went to his daggers, but he soon realised that Rakadra was gone. The only ones around were Kevin and Lise.
And then he saw that they weren’t even in the Mana Holy Land anymore! There were mountains all around him, but he didn’t recognise any of them.
“Maybe Lise or Kevin knows.” He thought.
They were just as confused as he was, until Lise noticed that:
“We’re at the Path to the Heavens.”
“Ah, how do you know that?” Kevin asked so she pointed at a mountain nearby.
“That’s ‘Harpy’s Talon’,” Lise pointed at another one, “and that’s Storm Peak, where the corridor of wind is. That means Rolante is this way.” She led them down a small winding trail.
“Are you sure?” Hawk asked.
“I was born and raised here. I could find Rolante in my sleep.”
They walked along the path and with Lise leading the way; they soon got to Rolante.
There were only a few incidents when the path was different from what Lise remembered.
“Well, you’re obviously not sleeping.” Hawk said the third time they took a wrong turn. “Otherwise we’d be there by now.”
That comment gave him a short laugh from Kevin and an elbow in the ribs from Lise.
When they got closer to the castle, Lise stopped.
“This can’t be Rolante. It’s different.”
“What do you mean ‘it’s different’?” Hawk asked, rubbing his still sore ribs. “As far as I know there is only one castle up in these mountains, and that’s Rolante.”
“That’s what I thought too. But this castle can’t be Rolante, or at least not the same Rolante that I left when Jinn came and asked me to come with him.” She pointed at the wall. “There’s supposed to be a big crack in the wall, next to that large rock over there.”
“So someone fixed the wall?” Kevin asked.
“They couldn’t have done that in just a few hours!” Lise almost shouted.
“Either way, it won’t do any good just standing here.
Why don’t we at least go inside?” Hawk said shivering slightly. “The wind here is really cold. I’m used to the climate in Navarre.”
Lise was still examining the not very damaged part of the wall, so Hawk just grabbed her arm and pulled her along.
“Look, I want to go inside.” He said. “And if we go inside we can ask someone about the wall.”
As they got closer to the gate a young boy, maybe five or six years old came out. He had very wild red-blond hair. It almost looked like Kevin’s beastman mane. The boy was wearing very fine, deep blue clothes, which must have been pretty expensive for his parents to buy.
“Hi dad!” He shouted and ran forward. They ignored him, thinking he meant someone else, so they were really shocked when he ran up to Kevin and hugged him.
Or at least hugged his knee, because he couldn’t reach higher.
Kevin was just about to say something when a young blond woman stepped out.
“Welcome home, Kevin.” She said with a very affectionate voice, and they all just stared at her.
The woman in front of them was Lise!
She seemed a few years older and there were some other minor differences. She smiled more and she didn’t wear a wolf’s fur around her shoulder, but they were otherwise identical.
The woman noticed Hawk standing next to Kevin.
“Oh, hello Hawk. I thought you were still in Navarre. What a pleasant surprise.” She turned her attention back at Kevin. “We didn’t expect you back until later this evening, and we definitely didn’t expect you to bring compan…” Her voice trailed off as she saw the third visitor.
They all stood there staring at each other for a few seconds until the Fenrir Knight said.
“I told you. This is not the same Rolante I left a few hours ago.”
The only one who wasn’t confused was the young boy. He just happily walked over to the Fenrir Knight and asked.
“Who are you? You look just like mommy.”
She looked at him and the other Lise before answering.
“Well, until just now, I would have said ‘Lise, Queen of Rolante’. But now I’m not sure anymore.”
“Lise? Then you have the same name as mom too.” The young boy said and looked at Kevin.
“Dad, who’s your new friend?”
“Uh… I’m not your dad.”
“But who else would you be?” The other Lise said. “You’re Kevin, son of Beast King, right?”
Kevin nodded and the older Lise continued. “And also a God Hand, Jason’s father and my husband.”
“Death Hand,” he corrected, “and no family.”
“Death what?” The blond woman was confused.
Kevin held up his hand and transformed it to show her what a Death hand was.
She recoiled in fear, but Jason was just happily tugging at Kevin’s other hand telling him to come inside and look at something he wanted to show him.
“Ignorance truly is bliss.” Hawk mumbled and then he said out loud. “Do you mind if we go inside? I’m used to a lot warmer weather.”
The other Lise didn’t say anything at first, but she relaxed a little bit when Kevin let his hand return to normal.
“I guess we should talk inside, because it would probably take a while for you to explain everything.”
“Yes, if we even know where to start.” Kevin said. “Um… Maybe we should wait until the other… Uh, me gets back? Don’t feel like explaining everything twice.” He looked at the sun. It was disappearing behind the mountains. “Probably not too long until then.”
They all agreed that it would be unnecessary to explain everything twice, so they went inside to wait.
The older Lise showed them to a guestroom where they could wait until Kevin got home, because they had also agreed that it would be better if they stayed out of sight. Otherwise all of Rolante would probably explode because of unanswered questions.
It would be a lot easier if they could tell a few people first, and then they could decide how much everyone else would be allowed to know. Maybe not very honourable, but it would be a lot easier for everyone.
“By the way,” the guest Lise said, “do you have a spare headband I could borrow? Mine was…”She hesitated.
How would she explain that a small fluffy creature throwing coloured pieces of paper stole it, when she was in a city full of lunatics where she met a living legend…
She decided that she wouldn’t. “Well, I lost it, but you wouldn’t believe how. In fact, I don’t even believe it myself.”
“Sure.” The other Lise left and soon returned with another headband, just like the one she was wearing.
After an hour or so, Kevin came home and a chronically happy child and a very confused wife met him at the gates.
His wife quickly explained about the strange visitors and told him to wait for them in the meeting room. A few minutes later the others joined him.
Needless to say, he too was very confused.
They sat down around the large table and the three visitors started explaining.
Hawk started. He told them about how he fled from Navarre and apparently the same thing had happened to the Hawk their hosts knew. After that he got to the part about how he travelled around the world, until he ended up in the Lampflower Forest where he met Dryad and Kevin.
That’s where Kevin continued by explaining about himself. He told them about Karl, and about how he met Kil’jaeden. The other Kevin was very sorry to hear about Karl’s death, because he also knew a wolf called Karl, but he was still alive. The Death Hand continued to the part where they were in the Mana Holy Land where Lise took over, because that’s where she appeared.
She skipped the part about threatening to skin Kevin alive, for obvious reasons and also the part where she borrowed the holy spear Gungnir.
She just said that a divine being interfered, and got to the part where she killed Kil’jaden.
After that it was Kevin’s turn to talk again. He started to tell them about the battle with the half demon, but when the other two Kevin and Lise heard his name, both of them shot to their feet with anger written all over their faces.
“Did you say Rakadra?!” The older Kevin growled.
The others almost fell of their chairs at that sudden outburst, but Hawk answered hesitantly.
“Yes… That’s apparently what his name was, since the other demon called him that.”
“And he looked almost like a man, but with yellowish skin, which was scaly at some places?” Lise angrily asked.
“Yes.” Hawk answered. “But why is he so important?”
Lise sat down again, but Kevin was still too upset to sit so he was pacing around the room, growling all the time. The younger Kevin heard some of the things he growled, and it was among the worst things in the beastman language. Which meant a lot.
“We know who he is.” Lise said. “We had some trouble with him before, and he almost caused our death. Several times. I thought that we had seen the last of him.”
“What do you mean?” The younger Lise asked.
“Well, the last thing I saw of him was a bloody heap on the floor.” The older one explained. “Kevin didn’t like that he was trying to… Hurt me and, well, he brutally killed him.”
Kevin sat down again, and apparently he had calmed down a bit, so they continued the explanation. Or at least what was left of it. It was mostly the short walk to Rolante.
“That’s a very strange and interesting story.” The older Lise said. “But unfortunately it’s very late.”
The story had taken several hours, due to questions that had to be answered, and some that couldn’t even be answered. Which meant that it was very late.
“Yes, I agree.” Hawk said with a big yawn. “So let’s just go to sleep now, and worry about what we can do about this tomorrow, OK?”
No one had any objections.
As they walked back to their room, the two Lises were talking.
“I guess you’ll want your own room.” The older Lise said.
“Yes, that would be nice.” The other Lise answered.
The older one was silent for a while, thinking about something.
“I was just wondering… Why did you become a Fenrir Knight?
I mean, if the Fenrir Knights are the same where you come from as here, then no one as young as you should ever have become one.”
“It’s probably the same, but tell me what they are like here, and I’ll tell you if it’s the same where I come from.”
The older one nodded.
“Well, here the Fenrir Knights are a group of valkyries who have dedicated their lives to battle.
Whenever there is a battle going on, they are the first to charge and last to reatreat.
The reason why they choose to become Fenrir Knights usually varies, but mostly it’s something they never talk about and would rather just forget forever.”
The younger one continued the description.
“And to symbolise that decision, a woman wanting to become a Fenrir Knight has to kill a wolf by herself and its fur will show others the path she has chosen.
It’s the same as where I come from.”
“But if it is, why would you become a Fenrir Knight?
I’m a lot younger than the youngest Fenrir around here, and you’re probably even younger than me.”
“Well, it’s just as you said. Most of us have something very painful in our pasts, and in the heat of battle there is no time for memories.”
“But what could be so bad that you dedicated the rest of you life to battle. You haven’t even lived a quarter of you life yet. I mean, you don’t even seem twenty yet.”
“Yes, I am eighteen. And as for what could be so bad, how about my brother dying because I arrived a few minutes too late?”
“Elliott? Killed? I’m very sorry to hear that.”
The Fenrir Knight clutched her fists in sorrow and anger as she continued. It was a god thing that she had left her spear in the guestroom, otherwise she would probably have crushed it. “Since the same things has apparently happened here, I can just summarise a lot of the background.
Elliott was kidnapped because of Bigeu, Jagan and the Dark Prince. But the Dark Price was killed, so Bigeu killed Jagan and then she took her own life. Before I could go help Elliott we had to save the world from the Dragon Emperor.”
They had reached the room where they had waited earlier so the younger Lise got her spear, said good night to Hawk and the younger Kevin. The two women walked towards the room where Lise would sleep.
“After that I went as fast as I could to the castle where Elliott was being held prisoner, but when I got there it was already too late.
A part of me is saying that I did the right thing, because it wouldn’t have been any good to save Elliott if the world would have been destroyed. But the rest of me is usually saying ‘if I had just been a little faster’.”
The older one nodded and smiled.
“I understand, I also have a small part of my mind that’s constantly arguing with the rest of me, but I still don’t think that the path of a Fenrir was the right choice for someone as young as you.”
The other Lise shrugged.
“Maybe, maybe not. But it’s the path I chose and now it’s the way it is.”
They stopped at a door and the older one said.
“This is your room and you should really get some sleep.
Who knows how many people saw you come here. Tomorrow will probably be filled with questions.”
“I guess you’re right. Well, good night then.”
The next day people were talking all the way down to Palo about the strange visitors that looked just like their current King and Queen.
At first no one believed it, but the fact that several different people had seen the travellers, made it seemed more and more realistic.
Everyone was asking around, but no one got to know anything.
Meanwhile Kevin, Lise and the three visitors were back in the meeting room continuing their earlier conversation.
“Well, it’s obvious that people saw us.” Hawk said.
“Yeah, so the sooner we get home, the better.” Lise added.
“But then the only question is; where, or maybe ‘what’, is your home?” The other Lise said.
The Death Hand had been silent for a while, thinking about something, but now he said.
“Maybe… Another world.”
“Uh… What?” Was the reaction from the others.
“When I was training under Kil’jaeden I saw that there aren’t one world. There’s many.
Some look almost the same, others can’t even be compared to other worlds.
Maybe our world is one that looks almost the same as this one.”
Now the others started to understand.
“And you said that in the “Nether”, or the “Underworld”, you could see other worlds.” Hawk said. “That means you must have been between them.”
“And since the Underworld is where the demons live,” Lise continued, “it’s not totally unlikely that Rakadra escaped home and we just happened to get sucked with him.”
“But how did you end up here?” The older Kevin asked and the younger one shrugged.
“Were probably trying to get home, and this is almost the same as home. Just chose the wrong world.”
“Well, I’m not sure if I understand. But it’s the best, and only, explanation we’ve got so far.” The Queen said. “So now there’s only one more question.
How are you going to get back home?”
Suddenly Eliza, the general of the Rolante army, appeared in the doorway.
She opened her mouth to say something, but shut it again when she saw the people in the room.
She saw five faces that she recognised, but two pairs were almost identical.
“What is it Eliza?” The King asked.
“Well… Uh…” She started.
“I’ll explain this later. Just tell me what you wanted.” He continued.
“Um… There’s a strange man here, asking for ‘three strange travellers’.” She looked a little suspiciously at the three younger ones.
“Who is this strange man you’re talking about?” The older Lise asked.
“I don’t know.” Eliza answered. “All I know is that I don’t like him.”
“And why is that?”
“Because first of all, his horse is an undead creature. And so is he!”
There was a shocked silence and then the older two stood up.
“I guess we will have to meet him then. He appears to be a necromancer, and they can be very dangerous when angry.” The God Hand said. “You wait here.”
He and the older Lise left together with their general.
“I’ll show you where he is.” Eliza said and led them to the main gate of the castle.
The man was still there, and he was just as Eliza had described him.
He was dead. And his horse was nothing more than a hollow eyed corpse.
The man was sitting on his horse holding a staff, with a large green jewel on it, in a skeletal hand.
His other hand had a fine leather glove on if and he held the reins of his horse in a very loose grip. Obviously just so he would look like he used.
He had a piece of cloth covering his mouth and a dirty yellow cloak around his shoulders, but it wasn’t to protect against the wind, because he let the wind throw it around as it wanted.
It was to hide his face because for some reason, probably involving magic, the wind didn’t manage to tear the hood from his head.
Underneath the cloak he wore a simple, grey tunic, a pair of pants of the same colour and on his feet were some very old boots.
The combination if the cloak and the torn scarf made it impossible to see more of his face than his glowing white eyes.
“Ah.” The man said in a dead, emotionless voice. “The King and Queen of this little castle.” He bowed slightly in the saddle. “It’s not very nice to let a guest wait outside the gates this long.”
“That depends on the guest, and his business here.” Kevin answered.
“Very true. But I can assure you that I do not mean you, or this little castle, any harm. Unlike most of my brethren I’ve risen far above the need for mindless destruction.” He was silent for a second. “Oh, how rude of me. I haven’t even introduced myself yet.
My name is Teron Gorefiend.”
“Very well, Gorefiend.” Lise said. “I believe that you already know our names, since you apparently knew who we are.”
“Yes, I know who you are; Lise, Vanadis and Queen of Rolante, and Kevin, son of Beast King. God Hand and King of Rolante.”
He performed another mocking bow.
“I also know that you are hiding three strange visitors. Two of them probably surprised, or even shocked you with their appearance.
I’m only interested in them right now, and if you cooperate, things will go a lot easier. For all of us.”
“I have no idea what you mean.” Lise lied. “And it is not good manners to threaten people.”
“You are a poor liar.” Gorefiend replied. “But I will ignore that lie for now. I shall return later and you can have until then to decide what you will do.
But as a warning of what will happen if you don’t cooperate.”
He pointed his gloved hand at one of the valkyries, who was standing next to the large rock outside the walls.
She dropped her spear as she started screaming in pain and looked down at her arms in horror.
The flesh on her arms were slowly melting away, just like the rest of her.
It was a sight that cost most of the people, including Lise, their breakfast.
Soon even the rock had crumbled and all that remained of the poor valkyrie was a skeleton, that was still standing!
It picked up the slightly corroded spear and followed Gorefiend as he rode away.
There was a shocked silence, before everyone started talking at once.
Some said that they should just give him the three travellers while others said that Rolante shouldn’t have to be oppressed by a single, dead, wizard.
And everyone wanted to know who these three travellers were.
Only Eliza, Kevin and Lise were quiet.
“Fine!” Lise had to shout to be heard. “I’ll tell you who they are.”
Everyone went silent and listened.
“Well show you who they are.” Lise continued. “And then you’ll understand why we won’t let that Gorefiend have them.”
She turned to Eliza. “Can you please bring them here?”
Eliza nodded and left.
After a few minutes she returned with the three guests.
Lise and Kevin stood next to their younger selves to show everyone the similarities.
“They are us.” Kevin raised a hand to show the crowd that he had more to say. “I’m not sure how, but somehow they are.
I will explain as much as possible but, since not even they are completely sure, I can’t give you a real answer. Only guesses.” He thought for a moment.
“You all know how the demons come from the Underworld, which is a completely different world. But apparently there are even more worlds than that. Some are similar, and others are completely different.
Do you understand so far?”
Some people in the crowd there answered yes, while others nodded or just kept listening, so he continued.
“Good. As you’ve probably guessed by now, they are from another of these worlds and they happened to end up here after fighting Rakadra.
Yes, he’s is still alive. Or perhaps I should say ‘alive again’, probably because he is half demon.
Anyway, they defeated him, but he fled back to the underworld, and they happened to get dragged with him through the portal he created.
Because they were trying to get out of there as fast as possible, they ended up in the wrong world. This one.”
There was a lot of talking and mumbling in the crowd so the Vanadis added, in a loud voice to be heard.
“I know that it sounds strange. In fact, I don’t even understand it either. But right now it’s the best, and only explanation we’ve got.
If anyone has got any other explanations, please tell us.
We’ve been talking about this for hours and we still don’t know anything for sure.”
“We do know one thing for sure!” Someone in the crowd shouted. “We’re not going to let that dead guy get away with murdering Angelica!”
Everyone in the crowd loudly agreed. Those who had weapons raised them into the air as people shouted things like:
And “That guy’s so dead!”
“But how are we going to beat him?” Hawk nearly had to shout to be heard over the crowd. “Apparently he’s some kind of wizard, and a mighty one too.”
“That’s right.” The younger Lise said. “We don’t know where he is, so we can’t attack him. And it’s not an option to wait until he attacks, because I doubt anyone would want to die like that.” She pointed at the place where the valkyrie had been.
“I agree, but what can we do?” The God Hand said.
“Well… First of all, you shouldn’t discuss it out here.” They turned around. It was Eliza. “I suggest that you at least go inside before starting to discuss military tactics.”
“You’re right Eliza.” The Queen said.
They went inside the castle, closely watched by a pair of yellow eyes.
Nobody had noticed that Rakadra had been watching them from the edge of the cliffs above Rolante.
The half demon turned around and walked along the edge of the cliffs to a small cave where he had prepared a magical circle similar to the rune that focussed the crude teleportation spell that started this whole mess.
He stepped inside it and disappeared.
The Death Knight didn’t bother turning around. He knew that his half demon assistant had arrived.
“Well?” He said.
“They’re upset about your little warning, and are currently discussing how they are going to defeat you.” Rakadra reported.
Gorefiend turned around and laughed. It was a laugh that made even the half demon nervous.
“It’s just as I thought then.” Gorefiend said. “They’re so predictable.
By the way, what kind of reward do you want for the slight assistance you have provided?”
“Well, I don’t” Rakadra began, but Gorefiend interrupted him.
“Of course you want something. You’re the son of Scheree and Haldor, so I know that you weren’t raised to believe in charity. And I know that you’re not stupid.
Weak perhaps, but not stupid.”
Rakadra twitched slightly at that last comment, but he knew that Gorefiend was right. And he also knew that he didn’t feel like dying again, which could easily be arranged. That was the first thing he found out when he met the Death Knight.
“You know a lot, Death Knight.” He said.
“I know enough to believe that the reward you want is the King and Queen of Rolante. Alive but not quite kicking.”
Rakadra smiled. ”That sounds like what I had in mind, yes.”
“I’d say that if I get them for you, I have done more for you than you have for me.” Teron said. “So I might return in the future to ask for you assistance again.”
The half demon hesitated for a moment before nodding.
“Agreed. But only if Kevin is not able to break loose from whatever you choose to trap him in.
‘Kill me once, shame on you. Kill me twice, shame on me.’”
"I believe the saying is 'fool me', but in this case you are actually correct… For once." Gorefiend replied. “But I see your point. I too have suffered death once, and I am not very eager to repeat that experience either.”
The demon was about to leave when Teron grabbed his arm. “Just so you won’t forget our deal.” The Death Knight said.
Rakadra grimaced in pain as wisps of smoke started to rise between the fingers of the skeletal hand gripping him.
When Gorefiend finally released him, the skin on his arm had sort of a tattoo burnt in. It was a skull with a very large fanged jaw.
“Now go. Find out what their decision is. It doesn’t matter if you return or not. Once you know, I will be able to find out.” The Death Knight said and Rakadra faded out of the Underworld and back into the mountains above Rolante.
“’Pain is a crude way of forcing obedience.’” Gorefiend didn’t even bother turning around, he recognised that voice. Besides, no one else would know enough quotes to have one for every occasion.
True. ‘But it is cheap and plentiful.’” He ended the phrase. “So what brings you here?” He turned around to look at the blue haired visitor.
“Nothing special. Just checking.” The young man answered.
“I will fulfil my end of our bargain; you will not have to constantly look over my shoulder.”
“I’m just checking so you’re still alive, or at least still animate.”
“Why wouldn’t I be?” Teron sounded a bit suspicious.
“Like I said. No real reason, just checking.”
“By the way, if you bothered coming here, why didn’t you take care of this problem yourself?” The Death Knight prepared for creating a magic wall after asking something like that, but the young man just smiled.
“’Aw, come on. Where’s the fun in that?’”
Meanwhile Rakadra was angry.
“Who does he think he is?” He said to himself very carefully avoiding moving his left arm around too much. “Even if he is powerful, he has no right to treat me like this. There are rules even among demons, and my mother was an Arch Demon. He has absolutely no right to treat me like this.”
A few minutes later in Rolante, the discussion about Gorefiend was interrupted.
“Queen Lise.” A young, quite tall, valkyrie with brown hair reaching her shoulders said. “I’m sorry for interrupting your meeting, but there is a new prisoner in the dungeons that you might want to talk to.”
The Vanadis dismissingly waved her hand at the valkyrie. “Whoever it is it can wait. It would have to be someone as important as Rakadra or Gorefiend if you want me to go there now.”
“Uh… It is the half demon Rakadra.” The young woman said. That got everyone’s attention.
“Are you sure?” The King growled.
“Well, I’ve never seen him before. But he’s a half demon with scaly yellow skin and weird eyes.” She shrugged. “Besides, he said that his name was Rakadra.”
“What?!” The older Lise almost shouted. “He just came here, introduced himself and peacefully followed you to the dungeons where you put him in a cell?”
“Actually, yes.” The valkyrie answered.
“Show us where he is.” Kevin said. “That doesn’t sound like Rakadra, so I want to see him myself.”
The valkyrie led the way to the dungeons and everyone followed her. No one believed that the half demon would just follow anyone peacefully, so everyone wanted to see if it really was him.
“The only thing he said when the guards at the gate stopped him was that he wanted to talk to you. When he realised that they were taking him to the dungeons he just said that he’d prefer not being chained to the wall because of a wound on his arm.”
They walked very fast so they soon reached the cell where the half demon was. Another valkyrie was standing guard outside it.
She was a bit older than the valkyrie who had led them there, she had hair that was a soft purple colour and reached almost halfway down her back.
But having any guards there seemed unnecessary because Rakadra was just leaning against the wall in his cell, singing a strange song.
“’And I want to conquer the world. Give all the idiots a brand new religion.’”
“What do you want Rakadra?” Kevin asked with a lot of suppressed anger in his voice.
“Well, well, well. If it isn’t the King of Rolante.” He walked closer to the barred window in the door. “And I can see that you’ve also brought your wife, the general of the Rolante army and the three travellers. Makes me feel special.”
“Can you stop being in such a good mood? It makes me nervous.” The Queen said.
Rakadra shrugged. “I just thought I’d try to be polite, because fighting you didn’t turn out too well.”
“What are you up to?” The God Hand growled and stepped closer.
“Take it easy.” Rakadra said. “You have no reason to be angry at me anymore.
I kidnapped your girlfriend so you killed me, I’d say we’re pretty even.”
“Just one question then.” The older Kevin said. “Why did you come here peacefully? You’re not the kind of person to give up without a fight.”
Rakadra smiled with an evil glint in his eye. “Well… Because, unlike you, I have very powerful allies, so sooner or later I’ll get what I want anyway.”
Nobody said anything.
“By the way. How long are you planning to keep me here?” The half demon continued. “If you’re going to keep me here for long I’d prefer if anyone brought me some food.”
“Why should we?” The King growled. Apparently he wasn’t prepared to let bygones be bygones.
“Yeah why should you? I could just bite the heads of some rats.” Rakadra almost looked hurt. “Just because I’m half demon doesn’t mean I’m uncivilised. That would be like me throwing a stick, expecting you to fetch it because you’re half beastman.”
Kevin obviously wasn’t prepared to let an old grudge die because he lashed out towards Rakadra, prepared to rip the door out of the wall if he had to.
It took both his wife and his younger self to hold him back. Rakadra backed away from the door.
“Kevin, he is right you know.” His wife said. “Even if we don’t like him he is right.” She paused and then continued. ”Rakadra, even if I don’t hate you as much as Kevin, it doesn’t mean that I like you. Until you give me a reason to think otherwise, which I doubt you will, I won’t change my opinion.”
“I’m not exactly the same Rakadra you met a few years ago. I’ve been reborn.” He glared at Kevin. “Literally. Besides I’m older and wiser now.”
“I’m not sure if that’s entirely positive.” Lise mumbled and then she said aloud to one of the guards. “Could you get him something to eat?
As I said, at least we won’t sink to his level.”
The older guard went towards the kitchen and the rest of the people there, except for the younger valkyrie who was standing guard, went back to the meeting room.
There was a short silence.
“So…” She decided to start a conversation to keep the boredom away. “What did you mean by ‘powerful allies’?”
Rakadra came closer to the door again. “People like Gorefiend.”
“What!?” The valkyrie gripped her sword so tight her knuckles turned white. “You mean that dead freak who killed my sister?!”
“Yes, even though I don’t like him, he’s a powerful ally.” He paused. “And I’m sorry to hear about your sister.”
The valkyrie raised an eyebrow and the half demon continued. “Hey, what’s with that sceptical look? I’m not entirely heartless.
Besides, I also know a lot about losing someone you care about.”
“Ha! You’re just a demon. What would you know about that?”
“Now you’re just like Kevin.” This time he actually seemed hurt for real. “So filled with prejudice that you forget that being a half demon means that the other half of me is actually human.
And as for what I know of losing loved ones. How about both my parents, my whole family, getting brutally killed?”
“Oh, I guess it’s my turn to say I’m sorry.
Who killed your family?” She asked, forgetting that one of his parents actually was a demon.
“Beast King.” Rakadra explained. “I still haven’t forgiven him for that. And I won’t until he’s lost everyone he ever cared about too.”
“So that’s why you tried to kill Kevin?”
“Heh, you’re smarter than you seemed at first. But then again, it didn’t take much intelligence to figure that out.”
“You should do something about that attitude of yours.”
“Why should I? You’re just my jailor, it’s not like your opinion matters.”
“You see? That’s exactly what I’m talking about. You would have been a pretty nice guy if you just fixed that atti…”
Both of them looked away, and there was an embarrassed silence.
The other guard returned with a tray with some soup and a piece of bread. She opened a hatch at the bottom of the door and slid it in to the half demon.
“Thank you.” He mumbled without looking up.
The guard who just returned looked confused. “Did I just miss something?” She noticed that the younger guard was blushing slightly.
“Oh, now I see. You’ve got a really weird taste in boys, Sarah.”
Sarah was protesting, but only half hearted because she realised that her friend was actually right.
Rakadra wasn’t listening though. He was feeling hungry, so he sat down to eat.
“I guess this isn’t too bad.” He thought. “I’m sitting here, eating food that was brought to me, and I’ll get Kevin sooner or later anyway.
I would have wanted a nicer room though, but at least the company isn’t too…” He mentally slapped himself. “What am I thinking?
I shouldn’t even be here. I should be trying to get Kevin myself.
Even though I am weaker than Gorefiend, I am not that weak, so I shouldn’t have to ask for help from anyone.”
He realised that he had stopped eating, and since he was still hungry he started eating again.
After a few minutes he had eaten most of the soup and all of the bread. He was just about to ask the guards to take care of the tray when he heard that someone was coming down the corridor outside.
“You shouldn’t be here.” One of the guards said, so Rakadra got curious. He stood up and walked over to the window in the door.
The one who shouldn’t be there was a little kid, about 5 or 6 years old.
He had a wild mane of hair that was a sort of reddish blond and he was wearing fine, deep blue, clothes.
“That’s right Jason. Your parents wouldn’t want you to be here.” Sarah said.
“Don’t worry.” Jason said. “If they don’t find out, they won’t get angry.”
“But we would have to tell them that you were here.” The older of the two valkyries said.
“But I just wanted to see who the special person was. Everyone was very excited when they heard he was here, but mom and dad wouldn’t let me go here because they said that ‘he’s dangerous’.”
“Your parents are right.” Sarah said. “Rakadra is dangerous. He’s half demon.”
“He is? Wow!” Jason noticed Rakadra looking out through the barred window with a small smile on his face. “Is that true uncle Rakadra? Are you really half demon, and why are you so dangerous?”
Rakadra’s smiled faded as he heard what the kid called him, and the guards smiled at that name. “Yes, I’m half demon. And if you ever call me uncle again, I’ll show you why people think I’m dangerous.”
“Wow, could you really show me that, uncle Rakadra?” Jason said, happily unaware of that it was actually a treat.
“I told you. Stop calling me that!” The demon answered.
“Jason. I don’t think you should make him angry.” The older valkyrie said, after looking at Rakadra’s face. “He is very dangerous, and you might get hurt if you make him angry.”
“But he doesn’t look dangerous. I think he looks nice.” Jason said.
“Oh really?” The older of the guards was slightly amused. “I think that someone else here thinks that too. Don’t you think so too, Sarah?”
“She’s right. You should go back now.” Sarah said. “Besides, I doubt you’d want to see what I’m about to do to Melissa for that comment.”
“Okay.” Jason happily said. “Bye Sarah and Melissa. Bye uncle Rakadra.” He waved as he walked away.
“I told you! Stop calling me that!” Rakadra shouted at Jason.
“I think that it sounds good.” Melissa said. “Uncle Rakadra.”
“Okay! That’s it!” Rakadra said. “I have been nice so far, but I’m not going to be called ‘uncle’ by anyone who actually understands anything!”
He grabbed the bars blocking the window in the door and ripped them out if it. Then he ripped what was left of the door to pieces and stepped out.
The guards were shocked. Sure, they had heard Kevin and Lise talk about him, but since he had been calm so far, they weren’t expecting him to do anything like that.
Rakadra had developed a much more leveled personality since his rebirth, since not even demons could respawn perfectly and he had learnt well from his past mistakes. There were however limits to what he could stand and swallow on the subject of humiliation. Serving another creature was one thing as long as he still choose his master, and the rewards was sure and worth the trouble. A little brat daring to taunt him like that was however beyond the deal. That the kid didn’t even understand what he was doing only irritated the demon even more.
His guards’ silly laughter was the last drop.
“My apologies,” he said in a mocking, cold tone as he grabbed the shocked Melissa’s armor as had it been made of cloth, “kids just don’t bring out the best in me.”
In the conference room the discussion was abruptly cut as Kevin the God Hand’s chair hit the floor.
“Kevin?” the Queen said in alarm as he growled, turning his head with fire in his golden eyes.
“Jason!!” the King roared, nearly breaking the door in his blind dash.
“What now?” Hawk almost tiredly grunted, but before he was even finished, the older Lise was halfway through the door as well.
Her eyes were wide open in horror.
Sarah stumbled up the stair, desperately pressing the small body of the confused prince Jason against her chest. She could vaguely hear him question the reasons for the run and the strange sounds from the dungeon, but the thunder of her own pulse and gasps made it impossible for the valkyrie to hear what her invaluable burden said.
She nearly panicked when she looked up and saw two other female warriors at the top of the stair, blocking her way. In her frenzy to get away from the now demasked monster below her brain wasn’t even able to recognize which of her friends those were.
“Sarah!?” somebody called as if through a wall.
“The demon!” she gasped, exploding past the two valkyries, “run!”
And then a scream. They must have looked down the stair, which then meant that…
Like a gigantic bat Rakadra gracefully swept past above her head, turned and landed in the narrow corridor before the woman who skidded to a panic halt, pressing the prince tightly against her chest. His eyes were literally glowing now, and for the first time he let her see what his teeth really looked like.
“I kind of enjoyed our chat,” he cruelly smirked, tiny black lightning bolts dancing between his claws as he raised his right hand, “so if you act politely I might kill you quickly.”
Sarah more felt than saw the other two valkyries coming up beside her, but she could also feel them tremble in fear. This was something completely different from fighting Chibi Devils or even Navarre ninjas.
“You will have to kill us to get him,” Sarah somehow managed to press through her chattering teeth, protectively moving her hand against Jason’s fiery mane.
The prince made a confused sound, but was ignored.
“Gladly,” Rakadra nodded.
Sarah took a step backwards, unable to let go of the bitter thought about how ironic it was that she had almost been flirting with this psychotic monster just a few minutes ago. Her friends desperately raised their spears, well aware that they were useless.
A roar tore through the inner castle alleyway.
One could almost say that Rakadra’s expression was comical in its duality. His first reaction was a brief sag of the shoulders and a roll of his eyes, as if he was thinking something along the lines of “same old, same old…”. However, almost at the same time a hungry, expectant smirk came alive in his eyes and on his lips.
“I see you still haven’t lost your timing, Kevin,” he said, flapping his leathery wings slightly to hover a couple of inches above the floor.
Sarah’s brain clicked and she dove forwards in a desperate attempt to save the prince, pinching her eyes shut as she passed the demon’s claws by merely a couple of feet. Her plan would have been fatal, had Rakadra not set his complete focus on the enraged beast man who dashed forwards through the shadows between the scarce windows. The fact that the demon still lacked a plain fact was also a preserving angel.
Kevin managed to halt himself as Sarah passed him, seeing Jason safe in her grip drenched at least a fraction of his blind rage.
“Back!” he snarled with a brief glare at the two hesitant valkyries that were still on the other side of the opponent.
They gladly obeyed.
Sarah spun on her heels when she had created a brief distance between herself and Kevin; unwilling to stay but unwilling to leave her king alone with a demon. Despite the fact that she would be mincemeat if Rakadra got within reach again.
“Go!” Kevin snarled, hearing her movements though his eyes were set on the demon.
And he knew exactly where the wandering, thinning gaze of the evil half-breed went.
Sarah had placed herself so that Jason’s red hair seemed to melt into and be a part of Kevin’s mane.
“Don’t even think about it!” the King snarled, his bent fingers twitching.
Rakadra smirked, intrigued.
“I thought the little bastard looked familiar…” he almost purred.
“Crush entrails again?” Kevin murderously growled, his rage killing off all the control he had gained over his tongue in the past years, “I stronger now!”
The demon’s eyes thinned further and the smirk turned much colder.
“I don’t think I’d like that, my friend…” he hissed, “you might be stronger, but so am I.”
His wings flapped dangerously.
"I learned a few things though. If the odds aren't to your favor, change them. And I know just how to do that."
He raised his hand and a black collar appeared in it.
Kevin instantly recoiled.
"Hah, you remember this, eh?" Rakadra laughed.
He flew a little closer, the open collar extended towards Kevins neck.
This time, instead of backing away, Kevin charged at the half demon who was just a few inches above the ground.
Rakadra just smiled and half a second before Kevin would have reached him, he flapped his wings and flipped over the beastman, landing behind him and clicking the collar into place before backing off again.
"Like I said, I've learned things, but apparently you haven't. You can't beat up something you can't hit."
While Rakadra made this observation Kevin fell to his knees, fumbling for the black ring as he once had done on a ship’s deck, long ago.
But more and more people were appearing: Lise, the three guests, and more valkyries.
Rakadra let go of the leash with an angry growl.
“And once again you get help. You never beat me without help.” He smirked cruelly, knowing fully which effect this would have on Kevin’s beastman pride. “You get help from these people, from your father, from Wisp. You would never defeat me in a duel. Man to… Well, half-man to half-man, because you always get help.” With those last words he threw a large orb of black flames at the wall, creating a hole for him to escape through.
Kevin threw himself forward to grab the demon before he escaped, but Rakadra focussed one last blast of energy into the collar, sending Kevin of balance, before letting it dissolve.
Kevin roared with renewed fury, as the demon didn’t just insult him.
He got away with it to.
He smashed his fist into wall to let out some of his anger. The blow caused a large crack in the wall and a loud crack from his hand.
Without even thinking about it, he summoned Wisp for a quick healing spell and rushed out through the hole to get the demon.
Luckily for him, Rakadra came from the dungeons, so they were on the first floor. It didn’t matter to the demon who had wings, but for Kevin it could have been nasty if they had been higher up.
“Rakadra!” He roared. “Get back here!”
“So you want to keep fighting?” Came a laughing voice from above him. Rakadra was sitting on the roof like a gargoyle. “How about we fight somewhere where we won’t be disturbed? To see who of us is really stronger.”
“I’ll beat you anywhere!”
“We shall see.” The demon jumped off the roof and flapped his wing so he hovered in the air a few feet to high for Kevin to reach him. “I know just the place for an uninterrupted duel. Follow me.” He flew towards the trail that the guests had come from with Kevin close behind on the ground.
If Kevin had been a bit better at handling his rage, he would have noticed the smirk on Rakadra’s face and gotten very suspicious. He would also have noticed that the pebbles spread out on the trails weren’t just spread out randomly.
They were placed with utmost care and precision. And when he stepped inside of the circle of small rocks, bolts of dark energy leaped between them, forming a magic circle. The world went black.
When he opened his eyes again he had trouble breathing. It felt as if something was stuck around his neck.
In front of him was a smiling half demon.
He immediately tried to lash out at Rakadra, but then he noticed that his arms were chained to a wall.
Or at least chained to a flat block of stone, floating in nothingness.
The demon bowed slightly. “Welcome to my humble abode.” He said with a mocking tone. “I hope you find the accommodations not to your liking. Kevin just kept pulling at his chains as if he could reach the demon by pure rage.
“You won’t be able to get loose. I didn’t create those chains. Gorefiend did.” He smiled at Kevin futile struggle, causing the beastman to fight even harder to get loose.
“Oh, and I suggest you stop struggling before…” Black bolts of pure magic erupted from the darkness around Kevin’s neck spreading through every part of his body. Kevin nearly passed out again because of the unexpected pain.
“Before that happens.” Rakadra finished with an evil smile. “And now you’re probably wondering which death I had in mind for you.” He continued in an almost causal tone. “Well, I thought about it for a long time.
A very long time. I had lots of time to think while being reborn.“ Traces of anger and bitterness sneaked into his voice. “But I still couldn’t think of a death that seemed long and painful enough to repay you for the pain you caused me.
Dying isn’t very nice, you know?” He sat down in mid air causing a black, throne like chair to materialize underneath him. “Of course you don’t… Yet.
But as I said, I had no good ideas.” He started counting them on his fingers.
“One: Eaten by some horrible beast. Too quick, and not very nice to the beast.
Two: Letting lesser demons tear you apart. Too messy, and you would have to be dead if they would tear you apart, and not the other way around.
Three: Starvation. Slow and painful. Now I was getting somewhere, but still not good enough, and that’s when it hit me.
If I kill you, it’ll be over sooner of later, but if I kill someone else, you would live with the pain for the rest of your life.”
“You wouldn’t dare touch them!” Kevin roared and got another shock from the dark collar.
“Temper, temper.” Rakadra said with fake kindness. “And that’s when I decided that I’m going to turn your life into a living nightmare and make sure you have to live to see it everyday.
But my problem was that your wife and child aren’t that easy to kill, I know that the fool Deathjester tried, and failed.
So I thought about it some more.
‘I can’t actually kill them’, I thought, ‘but I could always make you think that they are dead.’ And that’s when I remembered an old friend of mine.” His grin could have made his own reflection nervous.
“Old?” Came a female voice from behind the wall. Kevin couldn’t see who it was, but there was something about the voice that bothered him. “I would almost take that as an insult. Don’t you know that you should never talk about a woman’s age?” The female demon said as she floated forward around the wall.
She was a stunningly beautiful creature, even though she had blueish skin and the fangs of a vampire. Her flowing robes, tighter in just the right places, were a soft purple color and she had gold blonde hair that reached just below her shoulders, perfectly framing in her very feminine face.
Most mortal men would have thrown themselves at her feet, doing whatever she wished, for a kind word or just a smile. But not Kevin, for two reasons.
One. He was still chained to the wall.
Two. Any beastman would have known what she really was.
“A Carmilla.” He growled dangerously.
A wicked, vampiric demon that used her beauty to lure men to a horrible fate. Most were never found. And those who were, were never spoken of again, but every time a new man died at the hands of a Carmilla, the ghosts of the Moonlight Forest welcomed a new voice in their undead choir.
“I almost forgot.” Rakadra smiled. “You have Carmillas in the Moonlight Forest, right?”
“Yes. Way too many.” Kevin growled through clenched teeth, causing the Carmilla to smile.
“He’s half beastman, all right.” She said, licking her crimson lips. “Only their blood can run that hot with rage.”
“He’s not your snack, Sciel.” The half demon told the pureblooded one. “I asked you to come here because I need a good Mindmage. And you’re the best I know.”
“I’m the best there is.” She answered. “But be generous Rakky. I’m not going to take that much of his blood. He’ll live.” As she spoke she constantly stared at Kevin neck.
“If you can help me with this, I’ll consider it.” “Rakky” answered.
“Sure, hon. What did you have in mind?”
“Well, if you look in his mind you’ll find a few encounters with Jagan. And our palefaced friend almost turned his wife once.” The Carmilla floated over to Kevin and closed her eyes.
“Yes, but Wisp interfered.” She said. “What about it?”
“Kevin has a deeply rooted fear that anything would happen to his precious wife.” Rakadra answered. “And we’re going to turn his wife into a vampire.”
Once again Kevin was enveloped in black bolts as he struggled enough to activate the collar.
“A Black Choker?” Sciel said, examining the collar. “That powerful, and he’s still alive and kicking.” She actually sounded impressed. “His blood must burn really hot when he is angry.” She licked her lips again, without really thinking about it.
“But how are we going to turn his wife into a vampire.” She turned to Rakadra. “She isn’t exactly weak either.”
“We’re not really going to turn her into a vampire.” Rakadra’s smiled evilly and Sciel quickly got the idea.
“But if we make him think that she is one, we’ll cause double pain, because they’ll both suffer.” She giggled. “You’ve really planned this well, Rakky dear.”
“I’ve had time to.” Rakky’s voice was full of bitterness again. “Now would you mind?” he gestured towards Kevin.
“I’ll help you, on one condition.” She answered.
The half demon wasn’t surprised. “What?”
“That I get some of his blood, and whatever of it that’s left in him after you’ve had your fun.”
I guess you want him unconscious when you mess with his head, right?” Rakadra raised his hand, ready to snap his fingers.
“Yes, that would help.” Sciel answered and the halfblood snapped his fingers. The choker around Kevin’s neck sent a thick bolt of darkness straight into his head and he fainted.
While the demons had been preparing Kevin’s fate, things hadn’t exactly been calm at Rolante either.
The castle was in turmoil. Not only had a demon smashed a hole in the castle wall, their king was also missing, after chasing the demon.
And Lise was sitting in the meeting room, and she was worried sick. Especially since the few wizards they had at Rolante had felt an incredible surge of evil energies, just after Kevin had left the castle.
And if that wasn’t bad enough, she was constantly assaulted by questions.
Most of them were from her son.
And the worst one was: “Where did dad and uncle Rakadra go?”
She was trying to think of a good answer to that. Jason was still too young to know the truth about the half demon.
And then Hawk returned, after he and Kevin had followed the older Kevin. Suddenly Lise was as full of questions as Jason had been a moment ago.
“Did you find him?” She was nearly hysterical. “Where is he? Where is Rakadra? What happened? Is Kevin safe?”
“Calm down.” Hawk had barely gotten through the door before Lise assaulted him with questions. “Now sit down, and calm down. Or I won’t be able to tell you anything.”
“’Sit down’?” Lise looked shocked. “That means ‘bad news’. It always means ‘bad news’!” Now she really was hysterical.
“I never said that.” Hawk sighed. “Now sit down, or I won’t tell you anything.”
Lise took a deep breath and sat down. “That’s really evil, you know that?”
Hawk shrugged. “Whatever.”
“So what did you come to tell me?” Lise leaned forward a bit.
“Well, I’ve got both good and bad news.” Hawk said. ”The good news is that we know what happened, and probably where he is.”
“And the bad news?” Lise was at the edge of her chair.
“Well, the bad news is… Um… That we know what happened and probably where he is.”
“So what happened and where is he!” Lise was getting tired of listening to Hawk avoiding telling her what they had found out.
“Uh… Well…” Hawk began. “We believe that he was teleported somewhere. Probably to whichever place that demon is using as his lair.”
Lise’s shoulders sagged. She picked up Jason and hugged him tightly. At least he was safe, and she would keep it that way. But Kevin wasn’t, and just thinking about it almost made her cry.
“So what are we going to do?” She sobbed.
“Well, I think Kevin knows more about how we can get there.” Hawk said, uncertain how to talk to her.
“Don’t worry mom.” Jason said, trying to comfort her. “Uncle Rakadra is probably there too.”
“Um… Yeah.” Hawk said. “But how about we go ask Kevin what he knows about this?”
Lise stood up with a very dangerous glint in her tear filled eyes.
Right now she was the kind of person you did not want to get in the way of, so Hawk didn’t say anything else. He just led the way to where the younger Kevin was waiting.
And even he got nervous after seeing Lise.
“Um, disappeared here.” The Death Hand pointed at a blackened part of the trail. “Probably teleported to other dimension.”
“And?” Lise asked. “What can we do about it?”
“If I knew how to… Gah…” Kevin really didn’t like the demon related subject.
“If he know how to travel between dimensions, we wouldn’t be here.” Hawk said.
“Well… Know, just not sure if it will work.” Kevin said. Lise put Jason down and walked over to him as he spoke. “Besides, gah, don’t know if it’s sa-urk!” That last exclamation came as Lise grabbed the collar of his vest and pulled his face close to hers.
“Listen to me you half breed shithead! I don’t care if you think it is safe or not! My husband is trapped somewhere with a demon that hates his guts, and I won’t just stand here and do nothing.
So I suggest that you do what you can. Now!”
“Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned.” Hawk mumbled.
“Did you say something?” Lise turned her gaze at Hawk.
“Eeep.” He hid behind the other Lise who had just appeared. Strangely, she was the only one who wasn’t affected by her older self’s rage.
In the meantime, the older Kevin didn’t exactly have things good either.
Sciel's right hand floated before the red bush that was Kevin's hair, as his head was hanging in a position that probably would leave his neck horribly stiff once he woke up, if left asleep for too long.
Rakadra sat on his throne, one leg leisury hung over the other and his chin resting on two bent fingers.
Only halfway audible whispers left the Carmilla's soft lips, and her fingers disappeared into Kevin's hair. A moment later she gently lifted his head, keeping both hands pressed against his jawbones. Her claws disappeared into his mane.
"Oh, but he's a cute one when he sleeps..." Sciel whispered in a vampiress' enticing voice, glancing over her shoulder teasingly, "I can see what Queen Lise sees in him."
Her right hand left the hold, but the left one still kept Kevin's head up with a slightly changed grip. A pale, crooked pointing finger almost lovingly carressed the reddish cheek.
"You wouldn't dare," The other demon calmly said, straightening up slightly.
"Aw, Rakky..." the Carmilla complained, though she still maintained that seductive voice.
"I said no."
"He won't die..."
Rakadra rolled his lizard eyes.
"Now Sciel, don't get me wrong," he said with a faint smirk, "we have an agreement, but it will be long before I'm done with him. Very long."
The female vampire hissed angrily and twisted her neck almost completely around to glare at the half-breed.
"Are you trying to trick me?" she demanded.
"Of course not, I said not to get me wrong," Rakadra said with a calming move of his hand, "you will get your payment soon enough, but drinking his blood would leave him sluggish for days even if it didn't kill him. I want him fully... ah... 'awake' and feeling for at least a couple of weeks. Charity comes later."
Instead of fuming at the idea of waiting that long, Sciel's temper switched like the turning of a hand.
"Your mother would be so proud of you, Rakky dear," she said with a wink.
He just growled at the remark however, his narrowing eyes being drawn to Kevin's face.
"Speaking of which, could you do something about that peaceful look of his?" he hissed.
"I was only waiting for you to say it," Sciel smirked.
She lowered Kevin's head and stepped back, raising her right hand. The fingersnap was a rather soft sound.
Rakadra leaned forwards again, a hungry smirk growing on his lips as the trapped half blood's fingers began to twitch. Kevin's head suddenly snapped up of own force, his eyes wide in terror but staring at nothing. Skull smashed into the stone behind it as a heart-tearing roar shook the surreal surroundings.
"Excellent..." The half demon grinned as the King of Rolante writhed against the slab he was bound to.
Suddenly his feeling of triumph was interrupted by the thing he wanted to hear the least right now.
“Hi uncle Rakadra!” His eye twitched.
“’Uncle Rakadra’?” Sciel smiled, and his eye twitched again. “I think that sounds kind of cute, don’t you think, ‘uncle’ Rakky?” Twitch.
“Where… Is that… Kid!” Rakadra growled and scanned the surreal surroundings.
Jason was standing far to the “left”, but it’s hard to be sure when directions don’t really exist.
Rakadra would have killed him instantly if it hadn’t been for the fact that he was standing behind his mother. And she was not happy.
“Oh, so the Queen of Rolante has finally appeared.” Sciel bowed, completely unaffected by the rage that was making even Rakadra nervous now. “How nice to finally meet you. I expected you to look better, when you’re husband is this handsome.”
“What did you say!” Lise roared. She was enough pissed of as it is, she did not need another demon right now.
She lunged forward, attempting to stab the female demon in the guts.
Sciel just smiled as the spear went through her. Without even causing a scratch.
“Did you really think it would be that easy to kill a true demon?” She laughed. “Then you are definitely not what I expected from you.”
This only fueled Lise’s anger even more.
“Ummm… I think I’m leaving now.” Rakadra said after seeing Lise’s face. “Even if I lost some of my humanity, and turned more demonic when I was reborn, I still don’t think I’ll stick around right now.” With those words he faded into the darkness around him.
Lise didn’t care though, she had something else to focus her rage on, even if the demonette was just mocking her.
Lise stabbed her again but it still didn’t affect her, suddenly Sciel hissed in pain and grabbed her right arm.
Hawk had thrown a dagger, far to the right of all of them. The image in front of Lise flickered, and disappeared.
“You are good.” Sciel said as she pulled the knife out of her arm.
“I’m from Navarre.” Hawk said. “You can’t trick me with just a mirror image.”
“You’re right. I was careless.” Sciel pulled moved the knife to her right hand. Her arm was completely healed now, so she had no problem tossing the dagger back to Hawk. He didn’t catch it though. “But I see that you aren’t.” The demon said as the dagger turned into a small, and probably poisonous, snake that slithered away.
“And you can’t fool me with illusions either.” Hawk said.
“You certainly are interesting, young Wanderer.” Sciel smiled. “I would love to challenge you to a game sometime.” She made a backflip over the Fenrir Knight who had tried to stab her in the back. “It’s not very nice to stab someone in the back. Especially when they are talking.”
She floated backwards to avoid the Vanadis and rose higher up to get out of their reach.
She didn’t expect anyone to be able to follow her, but she was prepared for almost anything.
That’s why the Death Hand only managed to scratch her cheek instead of tearing her face off.
“I guess you’re the one who opened the portal here.” She said, ducking under a blow that would have crushed her head. “Don’t bother.” She twisted out of the way of the claw again. “You were trained by Kil’jaeden. I know every trick you could ever try to pull.”
She blinked out of existence as a dagger passed through the emptiness where she had been a split second ago.
“And that won’t help either.” Now she was next to the older beastman, her fingers playing with his hair. “But enough of this pointless game.” She placed a quick but firm kiss on Kevin’s lips. “See you around, handsome.” And then she was gone too.
Now that Lise didn’t have anything to be angry at, she went over to Kevin and started pulling at the manacles holding his wrists instead.
Rakadra, who was in another part of the endless Nether, watched the scene through an illusion.
“Pull all you want.” He grinned evilly. “It won’t do you no good at all.”
Sciel materialized from the emptiness behind him. “Are you sure about that, Rakky?”
“Yes, I am.” He grinned even wider. “I specifically asked Gorefiend for something that Kevin couldn’t break free from.”
“True, but that doesn’t mean the same as ‘unbreakable’.” The Death Knight had silently appeared too. He curtly nodded at Sciel. “Hello, young lady.”
Rakadra ignored him. It was just too fun to watch Lise’s futile struggle.
Teron turned to the Carmilla. “Shouldn’t you do anything about that wound. A scarred face is usually a big problem for a Succubi.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Sciel said. “I’m a quick healer.”
“That wound won’t heal perfectly like all your other wounds.” Teron stated in he dead voice. “It was caused by a Death Hand.”
Sciel summoned a small mirror with golden edges. The wound was still there.
The world around the three demons shivered.
"My face!" the carmilla shrieked in a voice that could shatter glass, "my beautiful face!"
Teron didn't care much, and Rakadra just absentmindedly pulled in his claws so that he could press his pointing fingertips against his ears, too delighted by the scene he was watching to bother with the world around him.
But Sciel fell to her knees, her fists hitting the dark ground with a dangerous cracking sound.
"He will pay for destroying my beautiful face!"
"Simply use an illusion to hide it, then," Gorefiend eventually said, a hint of irritation in the voice that cut through the succubus' shrill wailing.
Sciel's cries stopped dead and she blinked. Hopping to her feet she looked into the mirror once more, raising a claw to her cut cheek. With a small flash the wound disappeared, hidden under a layer of cosmetic magic.
"Why thank you, sweetheart," she said in a soft voice once more.
Gorefiend ignored her.
Rakadra was smiling even wider now. The other three had joined Lise.
“Oh, I wish these illusions could be controlled so you could see what you want, not just what the illusion wants.” Rakadra said to himself, he turned around. “So what did you say about those chains, Gorefiend?”
“I said that even if that beastman can’t break free, it doesn’t mean that they’re unbreakable.” He walked up to the illusion and looked that the four people struggling to break the chains. “They’re really easy to open if you know how.”
“True.” Rakadra’s grin almost reached from ear to ear. “But they don’t know how.”
“It’s true that they don’t know.” Gorefiend pointed at the four people at the “wall”. “But…”
Another person appeared at the end of the illusion.
“No.” Rakadra mumbled.
He wasn’t smiling, as always, though. His face was blank and emotionless and his eyes were two pools of complete darkness. He didn’t walk. He floated over to the slab of stone and raised a small fist towards his father.
“It’s always interesting to see the effects of the Nether on a young and open mind.” Gorefiend almost had a hint of amusement in his dead emotionless voice.
“No.” Rakadra said out loud as the darkness seemed to gather around Jason’s hand.
The four people, who could, stepped aside.
Jason opened his fist and the manacles mimicked his hand, releasing his unconscious father.
“No!” Rakadra roared as Kevin slumped forward into the arms of his wife, and the younger beastman prepared a portal back to Rolante.
Jason slowly closed his eyes and fell unconscious, so Lise quickly took him into her arms too.
Rakadra’s roar was a wordless scream of rage. Even Teron took a step back as the half demon screamed. “I, hate, that, KID!”
The valkyries at Rolante were really surprised when they saw a flash of pure darkness in the castle courtyard, but as soon as then saw Kevin and Jason, they rushed to help.
Sarah put her sword away and helped Lise carry Kevin, while Eliza hurried away to prepare two beds.
That's all for now, folks! But while you're at it, check this illustration of Kevin's imprisonment (by Weiila)!