Untitled SD3 fic
(Some prologue notes:
Hawk had been wandering around the world ever since he was chased away form Navarre. They thought he had killed Eagle, and even though that wasn’t true, he still couldn’t return.
He had been hiding in Deen for a while, and there he studied flowers to try to forget about Navarre. Unfortunately the desert still reminded him, so he left.
After a lot of traveling he had reached the lampflower forest.)
It wasn’t made out of gold. It was made of some completely unknown material, but Hawks' mind soon wandered off towards the lampflowers. It was getting dark so they were shining with their strange inner light.
“What are you looking at? The voice was feminine and came from behind him.” Hawk got an image, of the wind gently moving trough the leaves of a tree, in his mind as she talked but he didn’t bother turning around. A monster wouldn’t have come this close to the goddess statue, and it wouldn’t have asked either.
“The flowers.” He answered. “They’re really beautiful during the night.”
“Oh, you like flowers?” She sounded happy and hawk got that image in his mind again, so he turned around.
The “woman” who was standing behind him had brown, rough skin, which almost looked like bark, and emerald green hair spreading out around her, making her look like a tree.
At first glance Hawk thought she was a very brave, or perhaps stupid, monster and his hand unconsciously moved towards his dagger, but then an old memory appeared in his head.
A book called “Spirits of the Forest”; he had only flipped through the book very briefly, because it wasn’t finished. But he remembered a picture of a treelike creature on the cover, and below the picture, a name.
He relaxed again.
“You’re Dryad, aren’t you?”
The elemental nodded.
“And who are you?”
“I’m Hawk, I used to be a Navarre thief, but I guess I’m more of a Navarre ranger now.”
“You still have rangers in Navarre? Dryad sounded confused.”
“No.” Hawk paused. “We used to have rangers in Navarre a few hundred years ago, before the climate changed and the forests turned into desert. Back then, Navarre was a city of rangers, foresters and people who just loved the forests.” He sighed. “But when the climate changed, the lakes dried up, the flowers withered and the forests disappeared. Even though I’ve never even seen them, I really miss the forests. That’s one of the reasons I left the desert.
“It’s really sad that the forests of Navarre disappeared. I remember some of the plants that used to live there.” Dryad looked really sad. “I was only able to save one of all the different kinds of flowers that used to live there. It was called “The Star of Navarre” because of its star shaped flowers.”
“It’s still called ‘The Star of Navarre’ by those who still remember that name, but most people just call it a ‘Desert Star’ now.”
Hawk took a folded piece of paper from his pocket and very carefully unfolded it. In it were two dried and carefully preserved flowers.
One was a “Star of Navarre” and the other was a blue flower shaped like a drop of water. Hawk showed them to the spirit.
“I kept these as a memory of the desert I lived in, and the forests I never got a chance to see.”
“I can see that the first one is a Star, but I do not know which kind of flower the other one is.” Dryad smiled a bit. “It’s funny, I’m the guardian of all plants, but I’ve never seen that flower before.”
“It was created by the people of the old Navarre when the forests were fading away. These two flowers are the only ones that can live in the scorching heat of the desert. To the old Navarre the Star represented the future. It could survive in the desert, and so would they. The other flower represented the past. A reminder of the forests that were lost forever. Can you guess what they called it?”
Dryad shook her head. It sounded like a tree caught in a strong wind.
“They called it ‘Dryad’s Teardrop’ since no one would be sadder to see the forests fade away than the spirit of the forest itself.”
Dryad smiled and wiped away a small tear.
“That’s so sweet.”
When the teardrop fell, a flower sprung from the ground where it had landed.
It was a “Dryad’s Teardrop”.
She suddenly remembered something.
“Wait here. I have something for you.” Dryad faded into the plants behind her and disappeared.
She returned after a few moments and she was holding a small die. It was a soft yellow color, and the spot meaning one was red.
“This was a good luck charm that used to belong to the last ranger of Navarre. He was traveling around the world, looking for someone who cared about the lost forests as much as he did. Someone who could keep the forests alive by remembering them.
He was old and gray haired when he came to the lampflower forest. He asked me to keep the die until I met someone who missed the lost forests, and loved them, as much as he did.
And now I want you to have it, because you’re just like him: A ranger without a forest, unable to find peace for his troubled mind.
“I can’t accept that. He must have loved the forests a lot more than I do, if he traveled around the world like that…” Hawk looked sad. “Besides, he had at least seen them.”
Dryad shook her head again.
“No, I told you: He was just like you. He was also born in the desert, but he still loved the forests more than anyone else.”
Hawk still hesitated.
“I insist. You brought me My Teardrop, so I want to give you something in return.”
Hawk took the die, and they were silent for a while.
“So what happened to that wanderer?” He asked.
“Well, he seemed to have found peace after he had handed me the die, probably because he felt that someday, someone would remember the lost forests again. He then stayed in the lampflower forest until he died a few years later.
“Flowers can talk?” Hawk was really surprised.
Dryad laughed. It was like a soft spring rain, tinkling on the petals of flowers and the leaves of trees.
“Of course they can talk, silly. But you humans just never listen.”
Hawk just couldn’t resist smiling at that.
“Could you teach me to talk to them?”
“Sure. You know, you really remind me of that wanderer. She touched his hair. You even have the same hair color as him… Do you recognize the name ‘Wren’?”
Hawk thought for a moment.
“Yes, I think he was my ancestor. He has written a lot of the books in Navarre about plants and flowers. Unfortunately, most are still unfinished, there was a shelf of unfinished books, and a note saying that he had been writing them when he died, and that they had been brought to Navarre by travelers.
There was one called ‘Spirits of the Forest’. I think it’s about you. In fact, the book is the only reason I recognized you.”
Dryad smiled again.
“That was very sweet of him, writing a book about me. Too bad he was never able to finish his books.”
Hawk opened his backpack and showed her the books.
“I brought them with me; I was hoping I could finish them.”
“Good luck. I hope that, one day, they will be finished, so that others can enjoy the lost forests too.
And you could write a book about how to talk with flowers; it’s an art that’s been forgotten for very long, even though it’s not very hard. You just have to relax and open your senses because flowers don’t communicate with sounds.
Well, some do.
But most use colors and smell, and some people who are very close to nature, like you, can feel them, and actually answer them too.”
Hawk lay down in the soft grass and closed his eyes.
“Just relax. The voice in his head belonged to Dryad. The flowers will talk to you when you stop trying to talk to them and just exist here. Just be here and don’t worry. Like they do.”
He cleared his mind of everything and just relaxed.
He was both amazed and filled with happiness when he heard, or maybe “felt” is a better word, a small shy voice in his head, asking who he was.
He answered the flower, without really knowing how; he just did it, that he was Hawk, a wanderer from Navarre.
He was so happy he almost laughed when more of the flowers around him joined the “conversation” and asked him questions about the flowers in Navarre.
He stayed in the forest for a while. Talking to the flowers and Dryad whenever she had time to talk.
And one day she had just disappeared.
Hawk knew that something had happened to Dryad even before he saw that… Thing. The flowers had gotten really upset and kept saying that Dryad was in trouble.
The thing in front of him was a very large, plantlike creature that looked like a huge melon with large purple spots and a color shifting flower on top.
Hawk carefully extended his mind towards it.
There wasn’t any reason there, just blind rage. And a thin voice.
“Hawk… Help… Me… I’m in… This… Gilder…vine…”
He drew his daggers even though he knew that they were probably too small to do any real damage to the bark like skin of the Gildervine, but he had to try.
He was just about to attack it when one of the flying insects called “Assassin Bugs” appeared. It had probably been lured there by the strong, sweet scent of the flower on the Gildervine. It was a bug, after all.
It flew towards Hawk, buzzing loudly, but it fell to the ground as Hawk threw three throwing daggers at it. One of the daggers had hit it in the head and it twitched slightly before it was completely dead.
He also threw a dagger at the large plant thing, because he was holding another dagger, and the bug was already dead. Unfortunately, it wasn’t as effective against the Gildervine as the other daggers had been against the Bug. This one just bounced harmlessly of the hard body of the large creature.
Hawk was next to it before any other creatures appeared and he stabbed his knife in it with all his might.
It was like stabbing a tree. The knife went about an inch into the large creature, and Hawks arm hurt, it had probably hurt him more that the Gildervine.
He silently scolded himself.
“You’re from Navarre.” He told himself. “You should know that brute force rarely works as well as you want it to. Now think!”
He noticed the tangled mass of vines that grew out of the Gildervine.
“Of course! It hasn’t got any roots, so it takes its nourishment from other trees through those vines.”
He stopped for a second.
“How did I know that? Well, the only explanation is that Dryad must have told me somehow.”
Even thought he wasn’t a Navarre ninja, he still knew that the sneakiest tactics were among the best.
“If I cut those vines, it won’t get any nourishment. And a plant that doesn’t get any nourishment will die, especially one that is that large.”
He pulled his knife out of the creature and tried cutting one of the vines. It was very soft and his sharp knife cut straight through it.
“I’ve got you know.” He thought and started cutting vines.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of vines and more insects had been drawn to the flower on top of the creature. There were lots of Assassin Bugs and even a few of the large caterpillar like Crawlers.
The flower on the Gildervine wagged a bit and squirted out a liquid, which smelled very strongly, on Hawk. The insects turned towards him instead of the Gildervine.
“Oh great.” He thought. “Now they think I’m some kind of large flower.”
Hawk put his knives away and grabbed the rest of his throwing daggers. He was able to kill some of the Bugs and he injured a Crawled bad enough for it to give up and run away, but there was still more bugs and Crawlers that were still alive, so he grabbed his knives again.
The Assassin bugs reached him first, because the Crawlers weren’t very fast.
Hawk dodged a swipe from a razor sharp claw, and cut the wing of the Bug. He kicked it away and hoped that it would have lost its will to fight, because there were more of them.
The next few minutes were a frenzied activity of stabbing and slashing, dodging and kicking, he even bit one of the Bugs because his daggers were cutting other insects.
He very carefully avoided getting cut my the Assassin Bugs, because even if the rumors about assassins using their venom, that’s how they got their names, were untrue, they were still venomous and even a small cut could cause some serious trouble out here, in the middle of nowhere.
Hawk also cut the vines that provided the creature with nourishment as soon as he got a chance.
New Bugs and Crawlers kept appearing, but Hawk was able to kill them, or at least chase them away, faster than they appeared. After a while they seemed to have understood that Hawk wasn’t worth the trouble.
He cut a few more vines before the top of the Gildervine burst open like a huge flower, and a large monstrous head came out of it. It was attached to the body by a large stalk like neck. Its mouth was filled with large teeth and its jaw was separated into four parts, instead of just two.
It shrieked, a shrill unnerving noise, and Hawk started to cut the vines faster.
Even though he knew that it wouldn’t die immediately when he cut the last vine, but for every vine he cut it would die that much faster.
A large lump moved upwards inside the neck of the large monster, and when it reached its head it spit out a seed that was almost as large as Hawk.
Hawk was able to dodge it. Barely.
Before it spit another of the rock like seeds, it sprayed a burst of pollen in Hawks' face, momentarily blinding him.
He was able to get the pollen out of his eyes just in time to see the seed fly towards him.
Hawk saw a large dark furred werewolf, with a mane of lighter hair on its head, standing next to him, its left hand extended into the air where the seed had been. He was shocked when he saw that the fingers on its left hand was wicked, knife like claws.
Hawk looked at the werewolf and said.
“I don’t know who you are, but thanks anyway.”
The werewolf just looked at him and nodded. It then turned towards the Gildervine, growling. Before it had a chance to spit another of the huge seeds, the werewolf let out a howl that chilled Hawk to the bone, and attacked.
It tore a large hole in the Gildervine’s body with its left hand and the creature shrieked in pain. Hawk saw that this was a good opportunity to attack; he called out to the flowers.
“I know that you aren’t as peaceful as you seem. Forget your peaceful nature and help me save Dryad!”
Hawk rushed forward, aiming at the hole in the living carapace of the Gildervine, and attacked with impossible speed and very graceful movements. If anyone would have been able to follow him at that lightning pace, it would have looked like a dance. A very deadly one, but still a dance.
As he “danced” rose petals started to swirl around him. For every petal he struck the Gildervine once.
It was a beautiful, but deadly, dance of roses.
The Gildervine shrieked one last time. More shrill and piercing than before.
And then it died.
There was a bright flash of light and when Hawk looked around, the werewolf had turned into a man.
Well, a beastman at least.
He had a wild mane of hair spreading out on his head and short thin fur all over his body. He was wearing a pair of loose pants and a vest. Even in human form his had was still a wicked claw.
Hawk put his knives away and turned to the beastman.
“Thanks for your help. I’m Hawk, a wanderer from Navarre.”
The beastman nodded.
“I’m Kevin, from Beast Kingdom.” His voice didn’t sound like any normal beastman's. Hawk knew that they growled a lot when they talked, but Kevin didn’t.
“Are you really from Beast Kingdom? No offence, but you don’t sound like a beastman. And you don’t look like one either.”
“Half beastman. Mother was human.”
During their whole conversation, Hawk couldn’t help but wonder about Kevin’s hand. He doubted that it was normal, even for beastmen, to have a hand that looked like that.
“Ummm, your hand. Is it normal for beastmen to have hands like that?”
“It’s called ‘Death Hand’, not normal.”
“Oh. So, could you tell me how your hand became like that?” Kevin went silent and looked away. I see. You don’t want to talk about it, right?”
“But he should!” The voice belonged to Dryad.
“Dryad!” Hawk was really relieved. “You’re all right!”
“Yes, I’m fine. But your new ‘friend’ here might not be what he seems to be.”
Hawk looked at Kevin who was just standing there, staring at his feet.
Hawk turned back to Dryad.
“What do you mean?”
“He said himself that that hand is not normal, and I can feel that there is something wrong about it. Unfortunately, I don’t know very much about beastmen. But Luna does. Wait here while I get her.”
She disappeared and Hawk turned back towards Kevin. He was still just standing there, looking at his feet.
Hawk looked closer at his claw like hand and started to understand what Dryad meant when she said that there was something very wrong about it.
There were two things:
It had sort of a dark glow, as if the light wouldn’t touch it.
And Kevin very carefully avoided touching anything with it.
“Kevin!” The voice was feminine, but it didn’t belong to Dryad. “I’m very disappointed! You are the son of Beast King. You should know better than that!”
The forest had suddenly become a lot brighter, as if there was a lot more light now, and Hawk turned around to see what caused it.
Dryad was back, and with her was another elemental that looked like some sort of small fairy like creature, but it was very hard to tell since she shone very brightly. She continued to yell at Kevin.
“You leave the moon light forest to become stronger, and that was your decision, so I didn’t say anything, but I can’t accept that you consort with creatures of darkness!”
“Shade would be very upset if he heard that.” Dryad said, trying to lighten up the mood.
“I did hear it, but I am not upset. Only worried. The demons should not be able to enter this world without help from the inside.” The forest had turned darker again as the third elemental appeared. Shade was very hard to see since he seemed to melt into the shadows around him, but Hawk was able to see that he was a creature with wings, a long tail and a single large eye.
“You’re right!” Dryad said. “And the Mana Tree is still just a sapling after that Dragon Emperor cut it down, so the goddess can’t do anything about it.”
“Then we must warn the others, and fast.” Shade turned around to leave.
“Wait.” Luna pointed at Kevin and Hawk. “What about them? If the demons have gained access to this world, and one of them has marked Kevin, then I’m not leaving him here.”
“Yes, you are right. We can’t leave them here.” Shade thought for a few seconds. “We will have to bring them with us to the Mana Holy Land. The gate still isn’t fully closed, so it shouldn’t be a problem.”
“Wait a minute.” Hawk exclaimed. “‘Shouldn’t be a problem’? What if there is a problem?”
“We don’t have time to worry about that.” And then Shade disappeared.
“This might feel a bit weird.” Dryad said.
“But you’ll be all right.” Luna added.
The world faded away and when it returned, they were in another place.
There were large trees and strange, but beautiful, flowers everywhere.
Hawk was feeling very dizzy and sat down.
“When you said that it would feel weird, you sure weren’t kidding.”
Kevin was still standing, but his face was pale, and he didn’t say anything.
“Well, at least you’re all right.”
“So this is the Mana Holy Land?” Hawk asked.
“Yes. It is.” Shade answered.
The other elementals started appearing.
“That mermaid there is Undine. Elemental of water.” Dryad explained. “The flame of light is Wisp, representing light. That fire over there…”
“Is Salamando. Fire.” Hawk interrupted. “I know that. He lives in the desert of Scorching Heat.”
“Sorry, silly me.” Dryad smiled.
“Who’s that flying puffy thing?” Kevin pointed at something flying around a lot.
“I’m not a ‘puffy thing’.” It slowed down and stopped in the air in front of them. “I’m Jinn. Elemental of air… And ‘puffiness’.” He smiled and flew away.
“The only one missing now is Gnome.” Luna added. There was a booming laughter and what looked like a small bearded man in a green hat jumped by.
“I’m not missing! I’m right here! Ahahahaha!” And then he jumped away.
“And I thought he would be calm if he were the elemental of earth.” Hawk looked at the little man jumping around.
“Can everyone just calm down?” It was Wisp who talked. “Thank you. I hope you’ve all heard from Dryad and Luna what has happened.” Everybody nodded with grim expressions on their faces. Not even Gnome was laughing anymore.
“Good. Then you know that this is a very serious problem.” The shining flame continued.
“The Mana Tree is still just a sapling, so the Goddess can’t help us.”
“Let’s just ask the one who knows that demon best.” Undine turned to Kevin. “Kevin. Could you tell us how you met that demon?”
Kevin was silent for a few seconds, but he told them about how he met him.
“I have been watching you, young Beastman.” Said the large demon. “You are already among the strongest of your race, and yet you still fight to get even stronger. Why is strength so important to you?”
Kevin didn’t answer. He just threw a punch towards the demon’s face.
It laughed and swept him aside with a hand that was as big as his head. Kevin crashed into the wall and fell.
“Even if you are stronger than most of your own kind, and even though I am only a lesser demon lord, you are no match for me. Nor will you ever be if you keep training like you do now. You need a teacher to show you how to fight, otherwise you can be here for twice as long as any Beastman has ever lived, and still be weak.”
Kevin growled and stood up again. He rushed towards the demon and threw a flurry of punches that was so fast his hands were all but invisible, but the demon easily blocked them and grabbed Kevin by the throat.
He held his arm straight out, but he was so much taller than the Beastman so Kevin’s feet were hanging in the air at the demon lord’s knees. Kevin weakly clawed at the hand holding him, but the demon didn’t even notice.
“As I said before, you are no match for me. He squeezed harder and Kevin’s eyes were turning up inside his head and his face was becoming blue under the fur. But I like your fighting spirit, you probably knew that I was a lot stronger, but you attacked me anyway: getting stronger by fighting a stronger opponent… If you tell me why strength is so important to you, I might actually help you.”
Kevin had stopped clawing at the demon’s hand and was just hanging there, barely conscious. The demon let go of him, and he fell down gasping for air.
The darkness turned into a large, black throne and the demon lord sat down on it.
Kevin was breathing normally now and stood up again, refusing to admit defeat.
The demon just leaned back and said
“First, why don’t you tell me who you are?”
Kevin stood there prepared to attack the demon lord, but he relaxed a little and answered the demon.
“I’m Kevin, son of Beast King.”
“Oh, ‘royal’ blood?” The demon said with a mocking tone. “Then I should treat you with a little more respect.” He raised his hand, and another dark throne appeared. This one was a bit smaller so Kevin would be able to sit in it. “Have a seat.”
Kevin still looked angry, but he sat down.
The demon looked at him and said
“I guess you’d want to know my name, since I doubt you’ll ever call me ‘Master’, even if you would accept my help. I am Kil’jaeden, disciple of the greater arch demon lord Sargeras. Now, tell me why you want strength so badly.”
Kevin was silent so Kil’jaeden kept talking.
“Is it to get power, so you people will accept you as their ruler after you father? Is it because of hate, to defeat a hated opponent?”
Kevin finally answered him.
“Revenge… Revenge for Karl…”
“Revenge? Then I will help you, but I need to know: who is, or perhaps I should say ‘was’, Karl?”
“Karl was best friend, little wolf pup Karl. Both me and Karl, no mother so always together, and I promise protect Karl like mother. But…”
Kevin went silent. It was very hard for him to think about it.
“But?” Kil’jaeden asked.
“But… But one day, me and Karl in forest like always, and then Karl attack me. I didn’t want fight, but lose control, turn into werewolf for first time and kill Karl. Later find out that Beast King and Death Jester was responsible, so I attack Beast King, but no good. Not strong enough.”
“Hmmm… All right. I will help you, but before I do that I must ask you: Are you prepared to give anything to get revenge?”
“Me and Karl was like brothers. If defeat Beast King, Karl’s soul can rest.”
The demon lord stood up.
“Very well. Follow me.”
He turned towards the shadows and said something that Kevin didn’t understand, but the shadows seemed to come alive and stretched out towards the demon. Kil’jaeden calmly walked towards the shadows, they enveloped him and he was gone.
Kevin hesitated but moved towards the shadows too. They wrapped themselves around him and it made his skin crawl. A part of his mind screamed that what he was doing was wrong, that he should get out of there! But a picture of Karl appeared in his mind. The wolf pup was limping, whimpering, bleeding. He fell and never got up again. The image spread through his mind and silenced the voice.
As Kevin disappeared into the darkness he though.
“Karl. My friend. Soon your soul can rest.”
The world was dark for an eternity, but eventually the darkness faded and Kevin saw that he and his new tutor were floating in an empty area between countless flickering images. Some were so transparent they were almost invisible, while others seemed more solid than reality.
Most were pictures of places, barren wastes, lush green forest, dark swamps, and cities filled with people, but some showed people, old, young, men and women. And some showed abominations so horrible they could not be described.
The demon lord, who had been floating with his back turned towards Kevin, turned around and said.
“I hope you like it here in the Nether, because it will be your home while I train you.”
After that, a few years passed, or maybe it was less than a heartbeat. Time didn’t seem to exist in the Nether. No matter how much, or how little, time had passed, Kevin had spent all of it training.
He had become stronger. During his training he had defeated countless foul abominations, in more worlds than there are stars up in the skies. He knew that most of them had been Kil’jaeden’s rivals and enemies, such as the one called The Dark Prince, and by defeating them, he had helped his tutor become one of the most powerful Lords of the Nether, or the Underworld as some call it. But that didn’t matter. He had become stronger, perhaps not yet strong enough to defeat Beast King and avenge Karl, but a lot stronger than he would have become on his own.
When he was going to return to his own world, Kil’jaeden came to speak to him.
“I should thank you for defeating my enemies, but you owe me a lot for training you, so we’re almost even. And before you leave, I have one last thing to give you.”
He extended his hand; he was holding a small ornament made out of two parts.
A small crimson ball surrounded by a green band in the shape of a heart. The demon held it out towards Kevin.
“This is called a ‘Death Wolf Soul’, and it will be a reminder of who trained you if I should need any favors in the future.”
Kevin took it with his left hand, and the heart shaped ornament faded away into his hand.
The fingers on his left hand turned into wicked, knifelike claws. Kevin looked down on his hand in surprise.
“You are now a ‘Death Hand’.” Kil’jaeden explained. Your left hand will channel the powers of the very Nether itself, your claws will shred souls as easily as it will rend flesh and crush bones.” Kevin nodded and the demon lord opened a portal to the room where they first met.
“Go now. Go, and get your revenge.”
“But then, why’s my hand like this?” Kevin waved his left hand a bit.
“Because there are actually Death Hands among the beastmen.” Luna said. “It’s just that you hand can be transformed, just like when you turn into a werewolf, so that it will look normal. Try it.”
Kevin looked down at his hand, and it did turn into a normal hand.
He kept practicing changing it back and fort while the elementals continued their discussion.
“Now that we know where he is, we should just go get him!” Salamando’s flames burned hotter as he spoke.
“But what if he’s to strong for us? We don’t know how strong he really is.” Undine warned the others.
“We could ask the Heroes for help.” Jinn suggested. “Lise is still very depressed about her brother’s death, and she’s making everyone else depressed too. She needs something to do before all of Rolante has less humor than Shade!” All of the elementals smiled a bit, except for Shade of course.
“I failed to see the fun in that…” Now they laughed instead.
“Ahahahaha! Jinn is right. The Heroes can help us!” Gnome let out another booming laughter. “Jinn, you go get Lise, I’ll get Duran and Undine can get Angela.” Gnome disappeared but his laughter stayed behind for a while, echoing all around the Holy Land.
Jinn and Undine also disappeared as Luna floated over to Kevin again.
“I see that you can change your hand as human, but you should practice changing it as a werewolf too.” Kevin shrugged and turned into a werewolf in a bright flash of light.
He was just going to turn his hand back into the claw when the elementals reappeared with the Heroes.
Hawk guessed that the armored woman with a wolf’s fur around her shoulders, a swan feather behind each ear, attached to her headband and a spear on her back was Lise.
“The knight must be Duran and…” Hawk’s mind trailed off as he saw the third Hero.
It was her clothes, or the lack of them to be more precise, that had attracted his attention. She wore less than the Navarre women did in the summers!
Duran put his arm around her shoulders and glared at Hawk with a look that clearly stated that she was already taken.
Hawk looked away to avoid a fight, but a lot of things rushed through his brain, even though he tried to stop them. No man would blame him for the things that raced through his mind, but he didn’t want them there anyway.
He started thinking about Jessica instead. She had been his girlfriend back in Navarre. She was the Kahn’s daughter, and he felt really sad, because he knew that he would not be able to see her again.
He snapped out of it when Lise pointed at Kevin.
“You.” She grabbed her spear tightly in both hands. “You’re Kevin aren’t you?”
Kevin nodded and took a defensive stance as she walked closer. “You’re the reason my brother died! I’m going to skin you alive and drape your still bloody fur around my shoulders!!”
She pounced forward and thrust her spear towards Kevin’s throat with incredible speed. He reacted equally quick and blocked it with his hand, which had instantly turned into a claw again. He threw a punch towards her stomach, and even though she twisted her spear downwards and parried the blow with the shaft, she was still thrown backwards. And stopped in mid-air, unable to move.
“Jinn! Let me down!” She screamed. “Let, me, down!”
“Do you know what she means by that?” Jinn asked Kevin who just shook his head.
“I’ll tell you what I mean!” Lise said. “When the Dark Prince died, there was no reason for the monsters to leave Elliott alone anymore. I went there as fast as I could, but it was too late…” She sobbed and tears started running don her face.
Jinn slowly put her down again.
“But shouldn’t you be angry at the one who killed you brother?” Hawk suggested.
“That would be Jagan, but he is already dead. Bigeu killed him before taking her own life.”
“Bigeu and Jagan are dead?” Hawk thought. “That means I might have a chance of explaining what really happened if I go home.” He felt bad feeling happy now, but he couldn’t help it.
“If Jagan killed your brother, why attack me?” Kevin asked.
Lise had stopped crying; now she was just angry again.
“Because a Beastman killed the Dark Prince, causing Elliott’s death. I asked the Beast King about it and he told me that there are only three beastmen strong enough to do that.
Himself, and he hadn’t. Lugar, who was turned back into a pup. And you, his son, Kevin. One way or another I will get my revenge.”
“Then you should go after the one who was the real reason the Dark Prince was killed.” Luna said. “Even if Kevin was the one who killed him, he was just used as a tool by Kil’jaeden.”
“Who’s Kil’jaeden?” Lise snapped. “He spear floated away before she could grab it.”
“The way you’re acting now, I’d better take care of this.” Jinn levitated the spear to the other elementals.
“Hey! Isn’t this the holy spear Gungnir?” Wisp exclaimed. “Not even a Death hand should have been able to block it that easily.”
“No, it isn’t the real Gungnir.” Lise explained. “It is just a copy of the real spear. According to the legends, the real Holy Spear still belongs to the valkyrie Robyn.” She looked back at Kevin. “Now tell me, who is Kil’jaeden.”
“I am.” Kevin instantly recognized that voice. “I am Kil’jaeden.” The demon lord said.
He had somehow created a portal directly to the Holy Land and was standing there, with lots of minions.
There were a lot of greater demon and even more lesser demons.
“How did you get here?” Salamando demanded to know.
“It wasn’t that hard. Not with the help of these two.”
Two half humans stepped forward next to him.
One was a half-demon. He had yellowish skin, which was scaly in some places, and a pair of leathery wings on his back.
The other was a cute little half-elf girl. She wore the robes of a high priestess, but the black flair she carried definitely didn’t belong to a priestess.
“Carlie?” Wisp was shocked. “But… How?”
“Humans are so easy to corrupt.” The large demon answered. “And even though she’s half-elf she’s a lot less stubborn that that beastman over there.”
“No, I meant that she’s the granddaughter of the priest of light!” Kil’jaeden raised an eyebrow.
“Really? I didn’t know that. I guess I should get bonus points for that then. Now, if you would be so kind as to step aside and let me kill that sapling over there, I will spare your lives.” He paused. “Or at least kill you swiftly.”
“You’re not just ugly,” Duran said, “you’re stupid too! Did you think that we would just let you kill the Mana Tree and destroy the world?”
“The Mana Tree?” The large demon laughed. “That is not just a tree. That is the physical manifestation of the one you call ‘The Goddess’.
She is stronger than me, but even the strongest can be defeated in a moment of weakness, and if I destroy the last trace of her physical form I can kill your ‘Goddess’.
And if your world is destroyed along with her? Well, that’s not my problem.”
“Jinn!” Lise screamed. “Give me my spear!” It floated over to her and she grabbed it tightly in both hands. “You caused my brother’s death.” She pointed the spear at the demon. “And for that you will die! You will learn why we Fenrir knights doesn’t have the fearsome reputation we deserve. We never leave any survivors to talk about us!”
The demon shrugged.
“Fine, if that’s how you want it.” He pointed at Kevin. “Rakadra, is that the one you want?”
The half demon nodded. “He’s all yours then.”
He snapped his fingers and the demons rushed forward to attack the humans and Lise, Hawk, Kevin and the other Heroes charged forward to meet them.
Duran and Angela fought off the lesser and greater demons, Hawk tried to avoid hurting Carlie too much and Kevin met the half-demon. That meant that Lise went straight for Kil’jaeden.
Hawk tried not to hurt Carlie, she was innocent after all, and she wasn’t able to hurt him because he was too fast.
Angela and Duran weren’t as fast as Hawk, but they were doing just fine anyway.
Duran was hacking through the demons as if they were nothing but air, but for every demon he killed, another stepped forward.
Angela had just finished casting a spell and long ribbons of light snaked out from her fingertips and cut through any demons that got in the way.
Lise weren’t doing to well though.
She was furiously trying to hit the demon without getting crushed by his huge fists.
She ducked under a punch that would have turned her into a sticky spot on the ground and stabbed her spear upwards, driving it almost all the way through Kil’jaeden’s arm.
He just smiled and twisted his arm around, ripping the spear out of Lise’s hands and punched her with the other hand, sending her crashing into a tree.
The world went dark for a few seconds.
When she could see again, she was somewhere else.
It was a city near a large tower, and whoever designed and built the tower must have been insane.
It was twisted, and not in a normal way. It even looped a few times.
It was a miracle that it actually stood there.
Both the city and the tower were filled with all manners of strange creatures.
There were some dragons, some other creatures and several humans. Or at least they appeared to be humans.
They all seemed very happy, and didn’t think that there was anything strange with dragons idly chatting with catpeople.
A man in a strange blue armor with a small cannon on his arm walked by, holding hands with a green haired catgirl.
They said “hi” as they walked past.
Lise walked around a bit, trying to figure out where she was. The city seemed normal, but not the people living there. At the local library she saw a winged woman discussing something with a man who could have hid a Mana Beast in his hair without anyone noticing and there was a small fairy dancing around in the air above them.
She was calming down a bit now, so she thought shed stop and ask someone where she was.
She saw a handsome green haired young man in a cape and thought that he might know something.
“Excuse me, but…”
“Sorry,” he interrupted, “can’t talk now.” He pointed upwards. “Pianos.”
He hurried away and she thought that he must have been a bit insane. Everyone knows that pianos can’t fl…
There was a loud “blang”.
She turned around to see a large piano lying on the road, but people barely noticed it. They just tipped it over, and the green haired man brushed himself off and continued walking. All the time glancing upwards.
And then two of the people living there actually came to talk to her.
Or at least one came to talk to her.
The other one was a small fluffy thing, and it only came to throw some small colored pieces of paper at her and steal her headband.
The other was a valkyrie.
“Well… Poke couldn’t think of anything better, but you’re supposed to borrow this,” she extended her spear towards Lise, “and then beat up some demon.”
Lise was confused, but she accepted the spear.
“I’ve got to go.” The valkyrie turned around to leave. “I said that they could beat me with sticks if I didn’t update my story.”
Lise was really confused as she continued walking and then a young blue haired man came to talk with her.
“Why are you still here? You’re supposed to beating up a demon and getting sent to another… Oops… You’re not even supposed to know that.”
“I would go back if I could, but I don’t even know where I am, and even less how I’m supposed to go back.” Lise was getting annoyed.
“You can try clicking your heels together and saying ‘there’s no place like home”. That usually works.”
“Are everyone here insane!?” Now she was annoyed.
“Insanity is not a requirement, but it helps.” He waved at a small black fuzzball, in an “I (heart) Linux” T-Shirt, who was walking by. “Hello, Wert.”
“Hi, Poke.” It kept walking and disappeared in the crowd.
“So how am I going to get back?” Lise asked.
“Don’t worry. I’ll fix that… Later…”
She pointed the borrowed spear at him.
“Fine, if you have to be like that…”
He snapped his fingers just in front of her face so she blinked.
And she was back in the Mana Holy Land.
She was still holding the spear, and now she realized that the valkyrie she had met must have been Robyn, because she was holding the real Gungnir.
She snapped out of the shock to see that the others weren’t doing to well.
Duran had fallen and there was blood in his hair, but he was still breathing so Angela was protecting him from the demons.
Hawk seemed to have been hit in the shoulder by Carlie’s flail because his arm was just hanging and he gritted his teeth in pain.
Kevin was fighting with the half demon at the other side of the battlefield and the Mana Spirits were almost back to back around the Mana Tree. Advancing steadily towards them, with his back turned towards Lise, was Kil’jaeden, her spear still stuck in his arm.
Lise didn’t waste any time; she just ran forward and stabbed him in the back.
Maybe not very dramatic, or heroic, but effective.
The spirits saw her spear burst out through his chest and he looked down with a surprised look on his face.
And then he died. His body faded into a wisp of smoke, which soon disappeared too.
The only thing left was her spear and Lise picked it up as she noticed that the spear she had borrowed was gone.
Most of the demons gave up and fled when they saw that their master was dead, but the half demon Rakadra kept fighting.
Carlie had apparently returned to normal when the demon lord died, so she was helping Duran and Hawk, casting a healing spell on them.
Duran was still dizzy so Angela helped him stand up while Hawk and Lise went over towards Kevin to help him.
Hawk sent one of his throwing daggers flying towards the flying demon but it only scratched his arm.
The small cut was enough though, because it made him lose his concentration. Kevin grabbed one of his legs, pulled him out of the air and slammed him into the ground.
He was about to get up when Hawk jumped up on his back, pinning him to the ground. Lise walked over there to help the other two hold the demon on the ground.
“So why is Kevin so important to you??” She asked.
Rakadra was pushing some dirt around with a clawed finger, refusing to answer.
“He said something about ‘another one’.” Kevin said. “But I don’t know what he meant by that.”
“So who is this ‘other one’?” Hawk asked, holding one of his daggers at the half demon’s throat.
“Well,” Rakadra began, “you see, it’s hard to explain but…” His finger stopped moving.
Three pairs of eyes turned towards it and they realized that he hadn’t just been pushing dirt around. He had drawn a strange rune in the ground.
He laughed as he ripped his arm free and let some of the blood from the cut drip onto the rune.
For a second the world around the four people was distorted as if someone had twisted reality like a rag.
And then they were gone.