OoC: This battle is for Stryder Aedernis
I basically provided two locations (ship, city) where the action will be happening. But you can start off from anywhere you like, really. x3 I suppose an angel or two would receive a certain message, if they're in heaven. Well, you'll see. x3 I'm using Raisha Seraph, Matthew Cronqvist, Lady Destiny (who'll appear in my next post) and Rain (who'll appear sometime later on). Let's go have some fun in chaos.
“Kill not the Moth nor Butterfly,
For the Last Judgement draweth nigh.”
-- William Blake, "Auguries of Innocence" (ca. 1803)
Inside, there was wealth, fame and fortune, laughter, food and wine. And there were music and dancing throughout the large ballroom. The warmth of the lights flooded throughout; there was hardly any place without a suitable amount of warm, yellow lights. Well, at least, from what he could see from where he was. You see, high above the ballroom, there were vents. These vents consisted of metal… metal bars… the occasional rat, (“Squeeee! Furry-cute-thing!”). Then the occasional scurrying rat (“Aww… guhbye furry-cute-thing…”) along with the rush of cold air that kept the insides of this massive mechanical beast cool and running.
Clown did not mind this environment at all.
“I get to lie down all day in the cool, and listen to music! But it’s going back… and forth… back.. and forth.”
When the ship tilted too much, the man (or… thing) composed totally of Innocence, slid up or down inside the vents. Occasionally, when the music quieted down, the people down below could hear his body scraping as it slid if they listened carefully enough; they dismissed it as nothing much, though. Probably some rats scurrying about—although, on a ship like this, should something like that really be dismissed? People didn’t care. They just enjoyed themselves.
And soon the boat had rocked enough for Clown to slide down to one of the exiting vents; where the hot air rushes outside. But he found that cold air was being blown back in, as well. And after struggling to spin himself around inside the vent, putting his ear near the metal grate that blocked him from the outside, he heard the thunderous roar of pounding rain, coupled with the thrashing of the waves against the hull. His eyes were filled with numerous flashes of light and in the distance, numerous blades of white striking from the blackened skies. Below them, the waves twisted and rolled to great heights, seemingly overcoming the height of the ship itself and then all of a sudden, the ship’s bow would rise up sharply and stay for a few moments before floating back down.
“Wooooooww…” his eyes were wide and mouth agape at the magnificent yet quite terrifying sight of the violent storm. Not that this was the only one he’d seen; something felt different about this one, too. Like it was… brought here, by force; but not force of nature. He wanted to go outside, in the black rain, but he didn’t want to climb all the way back up, and for some reason, Clown found himself unable to spin himself around again.
“Oof! Ooofie! … Raaaawwrr! Oof!” And with a few well placed head butts, the grate fell to the deck; the sound of its clattering obscured at first by the rain and then completely overcome by a massive, resounding roll of thunder. The rain wasn’t obscured now; it began to beat inside of the vent even more, wetting Clown’s face, he let out a childish giggle, shouting, “Stop..! Stop…!”
And then suddenly he stopped. Clockwork gears appeared over his cursed eye, hands and gears spinning rapidly, floating a few centimeters away from his eye, like a magical monocle. The thinnest second hand stopped spinning first, pointing straight downward; that was the direction. The minute hand stopped right after—on one. One threatening enemy… and then… and then the hour hand… It did not stop. It kept going around and around. One thing... below… and surprisingly powerful. Swiftly, another personality overcame him as he slid out of the vent onto the deck. His cowl lengthened and surrounded him, the glittering mask moving to create a clasp at the front, the whole getup shielding him from the rain.
Immediately, the boat tilted oddly, leaning to the side along with the bowing and rocking back. There was a loud crash of waves as the hull slammed into the rough waters of the black sea. A resounding shriek came from below the surface of the water, the boat tilting again, slowly.
* * *
“—And we now go to Ian Wallace for our weather report. Ian?”
“Thank you, Eric, and good evening to our viewers. Today we had some sweltering temperatures in the city and you’re not going to be happy to hear this, but tonight, it’s not going to get any better. And no, there doesn’t seem to be any rain on the horizon, either. Met. Offices do say, however to stay away from the harbor and beaches from tonight until tomorrow evening; a violent storm is brewing over the Atlantic this very moment. Met. Offices can’t say when or if this storm will hit the mainland, but I’d advise getting ready, just in case. That’s all from me tonight. Eric, back to you.”
“Thank you, Ian. Looks like we’ll have to turn up the air conditioning and carry around our bottles of water tomorrow, as well.
And next up, after the break! This is interesting—probes find ruins on Mars. That’s right, no water this time. Actual ruins! Is it some remains of some great civilization? Don’t change that channel—find out after the break!”
And then there was that little jingle that played when the news started or left for a commercial break. Raisha had heard it numerous times; she had lost contact with Rain for the longest while and was slightly curious about his whereabouts. She was hoping that there’d be some odd news article that centered on the demonic, or a very eerie happening and even better, a glimpse of him in some video or picture. That would let her know he wasn’t in trouble. She wasn’t exactly worried—if Rain had died, she’d know, she’d feel it, but she may not know if he was held prisoner somewhere. Not that she thought low of him, she was just thinking out the possibilities.
Other people would say she’s jumping to conclusions. And people other than them would say she’s legitimately worried. Perhaps she was, but she didn’t show it in her face so much, instead she did with her actions.
Standing on this fire escape of this old building and peeking into the apartment at the television was over now. She quickly scaled the old, rusted contraption toward the roof. When she stood at the top, she looked out to the commercial district of the city with all its skyscrapers accompanied by a beautiful skyline with a purely orange background with purple clouds scattered all over, stretching over the sky and seemingly into the night that had taken over half the shimmering bowl. The purple clouds were arms that pulled the starry blanket of night over this part of the world.
It was a beautiful sight. The addition of the silvery ribbons of light that streaked across it even added to the beauty.
Raisha’s eyes followed the silver ribbons that lead down to earth itself. The end was nearby—very near actually! The reaper ran to the edge of her rooftop and looked down at where the ribbons ended. They lead to a man in the middle of the street. He was facing away, and seemed to be normal looking; blonde hair, very decorated yellow and black long sleeved shirt which wasn’t tucked into his dark, black jeans. Hanging from his shoulder was what seemed to be a yellow Runner’s bag, the kind that modern-day on-foot messengers used in order to get secrets from one place to another.
And then she saw… his shoes were obscured by… wings. That’s right.. there were two large, white wings stretching out from his sneakers. They looked too real to be fake; those were real feathers, and the wings moved as if they were an angel’s. And from the moment Raisha realized that, she found herself looking into the enchanting silver eyes.
“You… are… “ Raisha began to speak to him, but when she moved her lips, her voice seemed to be quieted simply because of his presence. But the man had acknowledged her presence and he signaled that he had heard by nodding. The wind seemed to pick up then, and the same silvery streaks seemed to blow off of him like soft ribbons. One of the silvery slivers slithered past her, a soft, elegant whisper rising from it and kissing her ear.
“My name… is Sandalphon.”
The angel messenger?! Allowing himself to be seen! Raisha’s mouth, for the first time in a while, was agape slightly in surprise. This was entirely not expected. Sandalphon winked at her in an almost flirty manner, gently tapping the tip off one of his shoe on the ground. As he did so, a few burning feathers loosened and floated to the ground, disintegrating into red ash.
And another silver ribbon floated by; “Hellfire… They’re coming. See you soon.”
Just as swift as he had appeared, Sandalphon had vanished in a burst of ribbons, leaving streaks of them behind as he ran.
Raisha speedily jumped down from her rooftop and chased after him with as much speed as she could muster. She could see him clearly, because they were both moving so fast that their bodies did not blur, but disappear entirely. They never had to change directions at all; they ran up and over and even across buildings. But she was at a disadvantage; she had to flit to the opposite building if there was a gasp, she couldn’t fly straight across like he could at a moment’s notice.
The climax of the run came when Sandalphon shot up a skyscraper with Rai close behind. No matter what, she couldn’t catch up to him. He seemed to be teasing her; he looked back and grinned, winking once more. This was proven by the time he reached the top. He slowed down for a brief moment and then shot straight up into the sky, leaving behind a long, silver line that seemed to reach out for a star.
The only evidence of this chase would be the silver ribbons left floating behind by the messenger, each giving off the same supernatural message for those who could hear, all over the city:
He sat on a rock in a clearing deep in the woods. His sword, unbuckled, lay in it's sheath to his side on this floor. A calm wind gently blew through the trees. He took a deep breath, inhaling the sweet scent of nature. In his hands, he held a small bowl and grinding stick. He ground the contents of the bowl in steady, calm, repetitive motion, enjoying the serenity of the clearing.
The scent of the bowl's contents washed over him, relaxing and soothing. The bag of mayell seeds and liya petals sat by his small pack. He stopped grinding the bowl, and placed it on the ground. Standing up, he removed his sleeveless tunic and tossed it on the floor with the rest of his belongings. He flexed momentarily and stretched his arms, his skin smooth and muscular. Then, he willed his wings to appear. They seemed to fade into existence, with a whispered hint of noise, sounding almost like the rustle of silk.
As they faded into the physical plane, he flexed his shoulders again, and spread his wings. Solid, now, they unfolded at the joint and straightened. More, and more, until at their peak they spanned over 18 feet wide. Balthazar tensed his shoulders, and curled his wings high above him. Then he relaxed and rolled his neck, clicking the joints. He looked at his wings, then beat them once or twice. The huge wings pumped through the air, sending small gusts of wind across the clearing. He smiled, then dropped his wings a little. Sitting down on the rock again, he picked up the bowl of oil and curled his wings around him.
He took great care to keep wings clean, the feathers healthy, and it was a relaxing process for him. Dipping his fingers into the oil, he rubbed it lovingly into the feathers and the joints. For a good half hour he sat there poring over his wings.
When he was done, he packed his belongings away and stood. Willing his wings to disappear, they faded away, and he slipped his tunic on. Buckling his sword to his back and his pack over his waist, he threw his dark cloak over himself and fastened it at the neck. It was time to leave this world.
He stood in the center of the clearing, and concentrated. Raising his consciousness through the higher levels of existence, he saw in his mind's eye the gateways and doors. They lay everywhere, and it was the gift of the Angels to see them. He stepped forward and cast his senses out to find a new world to visit. As he stood sifting through the various gates, he faltered suddenly, clutching at his head. A pain stabbed into his consciousness, a pain wrought of great evil. For several moments Balthazar fought with the pain, still clutching his forehead, until he was able to push it down, out of his mind, and keep it at bay. He returned his senses to the gates, to find the cause of the pain, and began to search again. He almost fainted when the pain struck again. Fighting for his consciousness, he dimly realized that he had found the source of the evil; a world, modern and new, with buildings and metal and stone everywhere.
He knew what he had to do. He desperately sent his power into the gate and brought it to him, weakening the breach. When it was thin enough he threw himself through. He landed on the floor of the other side, a hard floor, stone, but not natural. He curled into a ball and clutched at his head, and the gateway faded away.
He shivered as the pain gradually lessened. He lay in an alleyway, the sounds of a busy city coming from all around him. His last thought as his consciousness fled was of the evil. Such evil he had never felt before, and more was still to come.
Here... why was he here? As far as Monroe could remember, he had come to deal with something that had been mentioned to him in passing. Still, the looming concerns about returning home and making sure things there were all right loomed deeply within his mind. After all, soon, things as he knew them would probably change. At least for a little while.
The Quincy emerged from the underbelly of the ship and stepped onto the deck. Each time one of the waves caused the boat to rock, the dark clad man smiled. Something was finally starting here, and that meant a good chance to test some new skills and strengths would be interesting.
As his robes floated in the powerful winds and waves, the Monk of Destruction closed his eyes and cherished the few quiet moments before a real fight began. These moments, to any other person, would be terror filled and increasingly dangerous as the knowledge that their life would end drew near. For Monroe, none of these fears were realized. They had no place on the battlefield.
The Quincy's fingers slowly opened up as energy began to rush through his body. Photon energy began to dance around his fingers and around his body as he looked up at the sky and opened his eyes. "This will be exciting," he commented as he looked back out at the open water. What was coming? That could be the fun part... or a major let down.
With a strained grunt, he slid the last of the crates against the tall double doors of the hold. Almost imperceptible for the size of the craft he stood in, the amateur joiner could feel the floor rocking slowly beneath his feet, all of the way to one side, then to the other. He leaned up against the box and heaved a sigh, giving himself a few moments to rest. There was no telling what the people of this plane would think if they saw him performing the ritual.
The hold was a vast one, meant to hold the largest of the passengers' cargo. Pianos, sculptures, paintings... mostly works of art, but also a few machines or even blocks of stone. The ceiling was more than twenty feet high, and the floor was nearly a square, a hundred feet on a side. Along one side of the room, water had condensed - or perhaps leaked very slowly - into the corner of the wall and floor. It was in no way threatening. The floor was made from a sheet of metal, and though the joiner knew there were at least two decks below this one, he could hear no hollow sound when he walked across the floor.
Ah, hollow. Time to get back to work. Pushing off from the crate with his shoulders, the man stood up from his lean. He crossed the room to a large but thin object, which had been draped over with a sheet of thick canvas. He reached up to the fabric, took hold, and pulled it down.
As the dust settled, it revealed the polished glass of the joiner's treasure, so thoroughly secreted away from the rest of the ship's passengers. Its frame was nine feet tall, made from thick, square rods of brass and slats of richly polished mahogany. Inside the frame was a round mirror of incredible quality and clarity, measuring just more than seven feet across. It was no less than beautiful.
Letting the red leather hood of his cloak down for the first time since he'd boarded the ship, Omentus surveyed himself in the mirror. His teal eyes looked back at him, glittering golden in the dim light of the storage room. He glanced back at the crates piled against the doors, and then drew Helir from its sheath. With a careful and practiced hand, he slid the syringe's bevel through the skin on the inside his of his elbow and into the antecubital vein that lay beneath the skin. The draw was smooth and easy. The man withdrew the syringe from his vein, ignoring the trickle of blood that ran down his arm. He put Helir back in its sheath, took a flask out of his cloak and put it to his mouth, drinking only a drop or two of the liquid inside. The incision on his arm vanished.
Putting away the flask, Omentus drew Helir again. Its barrel was nearly half full. He held the bevel up to the mirror, and pressing the plunger slowly, he drew a strange symbol onto the mirror's surface. In some places it flowed, in others it was jagged. Overall, it resembled a spiral, but looped back on itself a number of times.
Satisfied, Omentus took a step back. He lifted Helir's plunger, drawing all of his blood into the barrel, then removed the barrel and replaced it with another, this one filled with a clear substance. He depressed the plunger completely, flushing out the syringe. He pulled the plunger again, replaced the barrel another time, and then sheathed the device. He looked up at the mirror, where the symbol was only beginning to run. "Chaos, Hora Inconcerta," he announced, addressing the mirror. "I summon thee to this place. Treat with me, Never Ending Chaos. Bargain with me, Serpent of this Eden, or hunger for being."
For moments, nothing happened. In the room was just a man, talking to his reflection. He waited patiently.
Suddenly, the bloody seal hissed and boiled, disappearing into the mirror's glass. There was a pause. Though the man's expression had not changed, his reflection was smiling at him, and though the face was his, the malice was not. His reflection staggered, and a bloodless cut ran up its body, joined quickly by a dozen others. The reflection buckled. Scraps of his body fell away like the linen skin of a doll, and a swarm of black butterflies gushed out from it.
In the mirror, these butterflies, each a paper thin swallowtail, fluttered around the space of the hold. Seven blind eyes emerged from the confusion between them, floating about rather than being supported by any solid thing. Above the strip-like remains of Omentus' reflection, a blood red eye faded into view. The eye flexed, and the linenesque strips of the reflection's body rose from the reflected ground, coming together until they settled into the rough shape of the man's body, but they would not suture together again. As the alien creature in the mirror spoke, its lips moved but revealed no mouth within them, only a soft red light that illuminated the empty space inside its body. "What is the nature of the contract?" Omentus' own voice asked him.
Drawing a scroll of vellum and and a quill from the pack on his hip, Omentus smiled.
Ausiris had never been a believer in the power of the Fates and their ability to weave the destinies of those unfortunate enough to fall into their clutches, but for all his scepticism he seemed unable to escape their vestitudes no matter how far he travelled or how well he tried to hide himself. Ever since the day he lost what was most precious to him the cogs which kept the world moving forward seemed to be purposefully turning against him. Of course nothing after that had caused him nearly as much grief but they hadn't really offered him ease of mind either. That infernal cave with all its horrors had never really left his mind even after all these years, and neither did that treacherous wench who dared to still possess the four wings of her former status as archangel. And then there was the matter of that blasphemous stone that wretched demon had attempted to sieze in order to advance his own goals, aided by the very same fallen archangel he thought he had killed in their previous encounter.
Indeed, it was as if he was being lead through all these trials in order to facilitate his quick demise, only to pull through triumphant each time and aggravate his unknown tormentors even further. Then again perhaps it was nothing more than a series of tests to prepare him for something greater than anything he had encountered before, his entire life having taken place in such a way as to forge him into a stronger warrior destined for much greater things than he could ever anticipate. Whichever of the two possibilities turned out to be truth however, one thing was definitely certain and undeniable. His angelic heritage meant he was sensitive to the subtle nuances angelic beings use to communicate with each other across large distances, and as such the gentle murmurs and whispers speaking of impending doom recently flowing through the airs had not gone unheeded by him.
And this is why he was now soaring beneath the golden-tinted clouds of a deceptively normal sunset, completely geared up in his battle armour and prepared for anything that could be the threat he had been led to believe was rapidly approaching. And by the time the city skyline appeared in the distance he could feel the buildup of something sinister himself. The last rays of sunlight were still lingering on the horizon when he reached the overpopulated metropolis, but he didn't care if his appearance would mean that he would stick out in public like a fly in milk. The time for subtleties and trying to blend in with the crowd was definitely not now. Landing on the rooftop of a medium-sized skyscraper he folded his wings behind him and stood there, waiting for the inevitable and increasingly ominous disaster that was slowly building up. Even so he had an inkling of what it was all about...
“Remind me again why we have to transport the Estonian Sarcophagus on this cruise ship!” Way down below, two voices seemed to argue—well, one was arguing and the other was putting up a mighty defense; “Because it was faster; and this one needs to be kept secret. This one has not been opened yet, unlike the Ankara Sarcophagus… and this one needs a key—and the faster we get there, the faster we could create the mould and forge a key!”
The first archaeologist furrowed his brow before rubbing it with a hand, his grayed hair beginning to dangle playfully over his wrinkled forehead. He put his hands at his back and pushed forward, bending back a slight bit, stretching his spine—long hours bending down in the past to brush dirt delicately off an artifact made him do this regularly, even though he was old and had his younger colleague here to help him, he could not help that habit in during slightly frustrating, or patience-trying times.
“And we should not worry, the Templars have been funding us and giving us protection—they gave us a bodyguard, too, remember?”
The older man circled around his temporary workdesk. It was clean for now. They were mostly cooped up in a few small rooms a ways below deck. There was this room, the makeshift office with one desk, the other room, where the sarcophagus lay, the final room where the two beds were with a door leading out to the engine room. The younger one looked out the door, peeking into the room where the sarcophagus was strapped down, he couldn’t see the guard anywhere nearby.
“Such an odd name,” the older archaeologist pointed out, looking at the small file on the table, “I do believe it’s a code name, or something of the sort, correct?” He opened the file. This wasn’t the first time he’d done this—he was still in disbelief at what was written within… or what wasn’t written within.
“Just that name… ‘Pandora’? That’s supposed to be a codename? What kind of codename is that?” He sighed again, “there’s a picture… no list of skills or background, no age, nothing! Just… food preferences! What, are we supposed to feed her, too?” He closed the file haphazardly and tossed it back onto the table, the few papers slipping right out of it. The other archaeologist swiftly scooped the papers up and glanced at the picture before moving to the doorway, looking out at the woman who was suddenly sitting near the artifact.
It was a young looking girl, but odd looking as well. Her skin was slightly tan, her eyes were bright blue and her hair was a brilliant silver. She always seemed to wear clothing suited for winter, even as they were near the heat of the engine rooms; her breath came out visibly, as if she were forever cold. Her clothes made her stand out, somewhat as well. They were white, with red armbands that had the white cross on them, she even wore a white-knit hat that covered most of her forehead. Her hair reached her shoulders, but did not shine in any light; but her eyes would outshine everything else, they seemed too bright to be real.
Beside her sat a very peculiar blue suitcase with unreadable markings etched all over it, however the whole thing appeared incomplete. He was quite sure what was inside it—she had just opened it and laid a shotgun inside; nothing special there. Nothing he could see, anyway.
They felt the whole boat tilt, and then it was a rough jerk as it straightened up once more, almost as if the whole ship had been lifted up and dropped back onto the thrashing waves. There was a bit of silence as every person grabbed on to something sturdy. Pandora quickly looked around, one hand clinging to her suitcase while the other clung to a crease in the metal walls. She didn’t want to let go of this thing; she carried it wherever she went, even to the bathroom. It was… important; even if it didn’t contain her shotgun.
The ship tilted again, seemingly almost entirely to its side. The heavy, stone sarcophagus in the room slid down slowly, letting out a gritty grating sonata and then suddenly ended on a high note as it slammed into the opposite metal wall. The sound was drowned out totally by the shouts and screams of the passengers as the boat tilted more. And then those screams were, in turn, drowned out by something even more horrific. To Pandora, it sounded so familiar, the massive, resounding shriek from beneath the waves. Quickly, she hefted her suitcase and stood up, her whole body tilting as she fought against the leaning boat and gravity. She pushed out of the doorway and pushed aside the workers on the ship, climbing up the railings and pulling open doors, determined to get to the upper deck.
When she finally did, it seemed as if she stepped out into darkness. The rain hindered vision, the skies were black and the dark waves roiled under and around the ship. But the thing that was there, the massive serpent that seemed to stretch from the horizon and encircle the ship, was as visible as if the sun were shining through the clouds--only because the large cruise ship itself seemed like a small dot against the massive body of the beast. Its massive head rose out of the water, sending large waves in each direction. It roared; louder than a plane’s engine next to her ear. When its mouth had opened, it seemed to swallow the sky. And even its breathing was so easy to hear over the rain and thunder. The massive head turned towards the ship, almost covered entirely with seaweed and coral.
This was Leviathan. Beast of the waters.
There were a few people on deck, now. There was one who had backed away from the railing when the beast emerged, clad in all black. He seemed too eager just to witness the occasion. There was one other clad in black and white a little ways off, but she couldn’t tell who it was; the person just stood bravely (or foolishly) at the center of the bow. There was something odd about his eye, or what was over it. The odd man with the clawed hand moved around, turning his head as if he had sensed another disturbance, but he quickly turned back to the problem at hand. Pandora put her attention back to the beast as well; she opened her odd suitcase and pulled out her shotgun, readying it and shouting into the rain in a clear voice. As she opened her mouth, her first words came out. They were accompanied by an elegant accent and calm tone, causing the sound of the rains itself became silent at them.
“I am Pandora, daughter of Hephaestus. The scales on your back; I need them. You will kindly give them to me or I will run the ocean red.”
* * *
“Call off your pet!” She cried as her feet glided swiftly over the sands of the Atacama. She looked straight ahead as she ran, but that did not absolve her from hearing the blackened rumbling coming from behind her. It was like a relentless, magical machine that was programmed to hunt. It moved through shadows and dimensions, and commanded black, almost two-dimensional tentacles to reach out of its shadow to snag its prey and draw it in. And when you were pulled in close, you saw its towering form. It looked like a massive half-beast, standing on a large man’s legs. Like a Minotaur from the myths, but with its horns twisted in such a way as to make the symbol of the Lemniscates; the symbol for infinity. And underneath those horns, bright white, narrowed eyes casted judgment upon those brought close and were about to be devoured by mouth that opened unto the abyss on its stomach.
The beast was the Dahaka. The Keeper of Time.
“I cannot.” A voice answered her, seemingly booming over the skies of the driest desert on Earth; but she knew she was the only one able to hear it. Time was only able to speak to her; to everyone else, it was a means of measurement. When. A means of counting down their lives. The Dahaka was Time’s pet, its soldier, its agent; doing its bidding without question and hesitation. Anyone who disrupted, or were going to disrupt the timeline.
Destiny was about to do just that.
She’d disrupt the timeline to regain her powers, something that she recently realized was stolen from her and given to… who knows what. Legend says that at the center of the driest desert, where almost no life could thrive, the Sands of Time was held in something so spectacular that Time itself stopped to admire it. The Sands was something her brother could not destroy, simply because he was too stubborn to destroy something so ‘beautiful’. It belonged to him, it was beautiful; he was that arrogant.
The Dahaka wasn’t so much as a threat as it was an annoyance; each time it managed to kill her, her Hourglass power would rewind time to just before, so she was able to dodge the next attack. It was meant to deter her from pursuing the Sands and her old powers. She was unable to see where things were going; the world only gave her hints and she had to work on instinct. Long ago, she was able to see the paths of each thing, not only on this world, but on all that existed within the universe. Now she was left in the dark, with only the bloodied horizon sending her messages of impending doom. It was more of a selfish thing; if this world were to be destroyed, she would be destroyed with it. However, she did promise herself to save this world after her status was restored; and she’d use the Sands to make it happen.
It was then she came upon a place in the midst of the desert. The Dahaka seemed to have been pushed back by some invisible field. The wind had stopped blowing, literally stopped, it had not died. The sands that were lifted into the wind were frozen in mid air. The clouds were not moving at all, and the sun’s rays were frozen solid. The air became thicker; it became harder to breathe in. Destiny began pushing through the curtains of sand and rays. They all seemed to bend to her will momentarily, parting or being pushed aside only to retain their original shape right after. And through the curtains of sand and rays, she came upon a magnificent sight.
It was a tree. Not just any tree; the thing was taller than a skyscraper, and its trunk much wider than the widest of buildings. A leaf that had fallen off and was frozen in mid air was at least two times taller than the woman standing beneath it. Further up on the trunk was a pair of large, green doors that stood out from the brown and sand. There was no way up to it, but she soon realized that the leaves offered a way up. She just had to climb onto them and hop from one to the other, and then hop to the door.
It was easy after that; she pushed the doors open like they were paperweights. Inside was almost totally hollow. Just a large room with glittering sand flowing like water through holes in the wooden walls and in a circle around the dead center. There was some sort of jewel there; a round, ruby-coloured stone that seemed to have some kind of spark inside. The walls seemed to groan and tremble as she moved towards the center. The river of sand was semi-stable; she was able to walk across it if she didn’t stand in one spot for too long. The glittering sands were moving, even when time had stood still. Destiny figured that these would be the Sands of Time and the jewel at the center was the source of their power.
So… get the source of the power, and you control the Sands, right? Destiny wrapped her fingers around the jewel, and immediately the spark seemed to die down. The sands around her stopped flowing and slowly began to fade, as if withering away. She seemed to be standing on a glass floor now. Below, there only seemed to be darkness. Her hair moved a bit; the wind was blowing through the door…
There wasn’t supposed to be any wind. The earth began to roil and quake, the glass began to crack. Through the cracks she felt the rush of warm air coupled with the infernal stench of rotting flesh. The stench was so bad it overwhelmed her and made her movement falter. The cracks increased as a loud groan filled the area. The sound rose in volume until it became an ear-wrecking roar. The glass floor beneath her feet broke, and she was swallowed into the living, breathing darkness.
The tree cracked and the black, massive beast began ripping it open from underneath. It had no arms or legs, it seemed, just an enormous amount of scales that helped pushed it along the ground, slithering. It was as thick as the tree itself, but much, much longer. Its head held numerous yellow eyes that had no iris or pupils. The head seemed to split apart, like a blooming flower. Its pink, fleshy petals were lined with jagged, blackened teeth right down to the center, where the teeth lined the perimeter of a massive, circular mouth. Immediately it dug down into the sand, its body twisting and writhing like a living drill. It dug deeper, pulling the rest of its body along. And when its tail emerged, it wasn’t a tail at all. At the end, there was another head, opened wide in the same way, hungry for chaos.
It was only a matter of minutes before the city began to rumble. The ground began to quake. The foundations of buildings began to give way. People ran screaming out of them; but the skyscrapers were hit hardest. They began to lean and sway violently until finally toppling over. One of the heads ripped the foundation out from under a building and pushed itself up to the surface, rearing its massive jaws.
Balthazar groaned and clutched at his head. The malignant presence still echoed through his mind, and Balthazar's mind shook dizzyingly. In fact, he shook all over. He climbed to his knee and tried to stand, but gasped suddenly as he realized; it wasn't he who was shaking. It was the ground. It shook and reared and trembled as though a giant was thrashing and battering the earth.
Balthazar quickly got to his feet and looked about him. Cracks crossed the ground, climbing onto the buildings next to him, huge gashes torn into the rock itself, and all the time the ground shook. Balthazar froze again as another of his senses threw the truth at him. It wasn't just the ground groaning and screeching; there was something else here; the prehistoric roar of something huge, enormous, permeated everything.
Balthazar ran to the end of the alleyway and looked about. He dimly recalled seeing glimpses of towering buildings, beckoning to the sky, metal machines everywhere, the bustle of life teeming over the city. Now, there was none of it. Buildings, once clawing at the clouds themselves, lay in ruin. Stone and rock, shattered glass, iron and steel, all strewn about.
Balthazar took it all in in shock, his eyes roaming disbelievingly over the horizons of destruction. He acted quickly, then, discarding his cloak and stuffing it into his bag, he summoned his wings. They faded into sight and he spread them wide, stretching and flexing. Beating them powerfully, dust and small bits of rock blew about his feet. Again and again he thrashed the air; bending his knees slightly, he jumped into the air and pumped his wings. Rising through the air with great flaps, he went straight up, high above the broken buildings. A cloud of dust and smog overlay it all, and he held his breath and darted through it.
Breaking the barrier, he choked slightly as the dust clung to his feathers and clothes, but soon fell away with his powerful strokes. The city was open to his eyes now, and he cast them about in dismay. There were few buildings still standing. He turned, seeking out the source of this destruction, and a roar bellowed out from somewhere far beneath. He headed for the sound, scanning the ground for a sign of something, anything.
He froze in the air as an almighty boom thundered ahead of him, and the shattered remains of a once towering building exploded. Something shot up from the ground, something twisted and evil. Clawing at the air, a mouth opened, all teeth and jagged fangs. From that mouth another ear-splitting screech sounded, and Balthazar could only stare in shock at the horrendous beast.
A name whispered from the forefront of his mind, and Balthazar knew he was in trouble. The Behemoth.
The sea rocked violently for a moment. If it had stopped there, Monroe would have probably shrugged it off as a bad tidal shift. When the waves got worse, the Quincy quickly couldn't merely shrug off what was wrong. There were times, he noted, that when a sickening feeling set into the stomach, it wasn't a good thing. After this day, the dark clad man would make a very interesting note: there are some feelings that a person experiences that warn them of oncoming events. The fear of death was one of these.
The dark clad man's eye twitched. In a second, his sense began to burn. Terror rushed into his eyes as the massive sea-serpent emerged from within the depths and stared down at the ship. Even to the Quincy, human emotions like fear set in at very awful times. This was one of those times. Absolutely one of those times.
Monroe's eye twitched as he nervously regained his composure. "Truly a good test for the leading man," the dark clad man said as he moved towards the edge of the boat. The former mercenary moved towards the edge of the boat and pointed at the creature as his finger continued to shake. "Foul monster-" he half said as a woman stepped up and looked at the creature.
“I am Pandora, daughter of Hephaestus. The scales on your back; I need them. You will kindly give them to me or I will run the ocean red.”
Monroe, who had been stopped mid-thought, stood there with his mouth hanging open. It might have been embarrassing and shameful, but it worked, he always said. What Pandora had said essentially summed up his challenge. Monroe, in an attempt to regain his appearance, rested his thumb and index finger on his chin and smiled. "Well, even the leading man loses out in his challenge of a monster sometime. Still, I can't avoid helping out."
Slowly, Monroe realized that something was getting more and more intense as time seemed to drag along. Suddenly, the Quincy began to assume that something very interesting was going on. Something much more interesting than just the traditional end of the world stuff that Zorlo talked about.
"Good," the Quincy whispered as his fingers stretched out to their full length and he tightened his hands into a firm grip as photon energy leaked from his glove. "Let's begin, then," he commented, missing multiple factors. Something was bothering Monroe, and affecting his concentration. He wasn't sure what yet, but he knew something was so off that the feeling would eventually show itself. After all, that type of feeling always revealed itself.