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Prologue

In a forest on the outskirts of a small town, a man, John Sandin, is running away from a malicious murderer. The perpetrator carries a machete, whose blade gleams in the moon light. With the dark of night John has difficulty dodging the oncoming foliage. The menace leaps over a fallen trunk, closing in on his target.

"You can't... keep this up... Sandin," The pursuer yells, "I'll... catch up... sooner... or later!" Sandin continues running, trying not to let his hunter's words faze him. His attacker leaps and tackles him, pushing him into a tree. The executioner raises his arm to strike Sandin, when a man in a black cloak and a hood covering his face, roundhouses him in the face. The hooded man points his finger at the menace, who's fallen to the ground.

"Step away from the Innocent." He commands to the murderer, who struggles up and slowly backs away from Sandin. The hooded man, Dyten, helps John to his feet, and steps into the light of the moon. The purple highlights and silver trim on his cloak shine from the light and his face becomes more visible. He is handsome in a subtly inhuman; however, not in an overwhelming way.

"Are you alright?" He asks.

"Uh... Yeah..," Sandin replies, "Thank you..."

"There is no need to thank me." The fiend rushes in and attempts to slice Dyten across the spine. He quickly ducks and sweeps the perpetrator's legs out from under him.

"You fool!" Dyten says as he steps over and crouches next to the man's head. "I am Dyten, the most skilled warrior you will ever meet. You cannot hope to best me in combat!" Dyten punches the man in the face, knocking him out. "You are safe now. The authorities have already been notified and are on their way." Dyten leaps into the trees, out of John's view.

Later, Dyten stands alone on the rooftop of a large building in the center of a city. Dyten rests his left foot on the ledge of the rooftop, his right on the cement floor. He's watching over Petralto City- a developing city with hopes to become a tourist area- like a brother who's taken his siblings to the park. The sound of a fabric flapping in the wind is heard just for a moment before Dyten twirls around, a sword already unsheathed from his back. He is met by a woman in a shining silver suit of armor, donned with a black skirt-cape- similar to Dyten's only more fitted to her body. He returns his sword to its sheath.

"Mariota, what are you doing here?" Dyten asks. Mariota lifts her hood, revealing her beautiful face.

"Dyten, I'm glad I found you."

"How ironic is it that I am not?" Dyten retorts, spite dripping from his lips.

"Don't be like that! We've done nothing against you!"

"No, but it's not like you've been a very good sister"

"You went missing. What were we supposed to do? Wait two thousand years for you to return?"

"YOU DECLARED ME DEAD!" Dyten's voice rings in the night.

"I was grief-stricken," Mariota's voice become much more solemn, "We all were..."

"I know. And I'm sorry."

"Look, I didn't come here to argue with you, we need your help."

"Of course you need it now," Dyten says while turning his gaze back to the city, "Sister, I'm sorry, but I can't help you."

"You don't realize how much you could help us." A male voice speaks authoritatively. Dyten whips back around to see Mariota surrounded by other warriors. The one speaking wears a suit of steel-colored armor, adorned with a red cape and a helmet with pointed horns that face forward.. He has a battle axe strapped to his back, the sheath’s sash drapes over his chest.

"Rhonwyn, this must be important" Dyten says, his voice reeks of sarcasm.

"Now is not the time, brother. We need you to come with us."

"And what could possibly be so dire that the great Rhonwyn needs my help!?" Dyten's sarcasm becomes more hateful as he speaks these words.. Another woman steps forward, a quiver of arrows rests nicely on the back of her black leather jacket. She knows she only needs one word to persuade Dyten.

"War."

The Feathers of Heaven”

A young Dyten, about the age of ten, wields two, wooden swords, proportionate size of katana to an adult. He grunts and swings them at his opponent, Mariota- about the same age, but a little younger. She swings a child-sized, wooden Halberd from left to right, parrying Dyten's attack. He quickly recovers from her return, and leaps at her, thrusting one blade forward, whilst keeping the other near his body. She slides under the sword and sweeps Dyten's legs with the long staff of her weapon. He falls flat on his face, dropping both swords and getting a mouth full of dirt. Dyten flips around to his back, finding a brutish blade near his neck. A slow clapping starts, and both the children turn to their applauder. He is a grown man, late forties or early fifties. He wears a sleek, steel suit of armor with a short sword strapped to his belt. He ends his ovation, and slowly moves towards the two trainees.

"Well done, young ones," He congratulates, "Your skills are improving greatly."

"Thank you, sir!" Mariota exclaims, handing over her weapon. Dyten stands and turns his weapon over to the knight.

"Please," He replies, "Call me by my name."

"Yes sir, James" Dyten responds, cheerfully.

"Ha ha ha, How about we head inside and have lunch?" James offers.

The children nod and excitedly run toward a small castle at the top of a hill. James follows slowly and shuts the doors once inside. The Hall of this castle is adorned Seven shields, each bearing a different insignia, and each with a different kind of weapon strapped in the armband. James admires each of the shields, as he walks passed. Entering the Dining Room, the bustle from the kitchen stirs, as James seats himself at the head seat at a long table. Dyten and Mariota are already located in their respective places on either side of him.

"Reginald," James calls, "please fetch a hearty meal for my young warriors!" An elderly servant- properly aged to have been with James his whole life- enters through the kitchen doors, politely nodding to his employer. His crude, animal hide clothes give off an odd scent, but nothing unbearable. He is clean-shaven, and well fit for his old age. Reginald disappears behind the doors and emerges not a minute later with plates of cooked chicken, bread, and a green vegetable. The children have glasses of water handed to them by female servants, who had followed Reginald out of the kitchen. The servants return to the kitchen to clean up. "Well, dig in!" The children do so with pure enthusiasm. As the children eat their meals, James thinks back to when he found his "young warriors".

James, at about the age of thirty-nine, sat perched on the strong limb of an Elm tree. He was waiting patiently, the string of his bow strained by his muscular arms. He held his position while keeping an eye on the deer he'd been hunting. This deer was the stag of the herd and it had taken James months to track it down. James had a bit of an obsession with the stag. It had once led its herd through James's vegetable garden, trampling everything in it.

"Come on, you mischievous dope, show me your face." James whispered. The stag waltzed into view, allowing James to take his shot. He didn't hesitate. His fingers let fly the iron-tipped arrow directly towards the center of the buck's face. James remained solid until he heard the sickening cry of the dying animal, at which point he hopped down from his nest to examine the deer. He rushed over and ripped the arrow from the stag's face, taking a bit of skin with it. "Well, that wasn't too bad." James said as he began tying up his game. James heard a rustle in the trees and looked up. He saw nothing, so he left it alone and began walking away with his captured prey.

"Wait!" A woman, in a blue, flowing dress called out to James. He turned to face her, and dropped the deer at the sight. Her beauty was unmatched, but not unbearable. "Please," she asked, "My children... they are not safe with me." She beckoned James to follow her, as she stepped behind a large tree. He came over, and was once again stunned. Two babies- one male and one female- wrapped in tattered clothes lay at his feet. Their mother knelt beside them. "You are pure in your heart... I can trust you to protect my children."

"Wait, I cannot take these children from you! I am a hunter, not a father."

"It is either you or a Devil, and I will not allow that alternative." The woman takes two silver rings out of a rucksack and places them in James' hand. "These will keep them hidden from those who would harm them."

"And what am I supposed to do? Raise them?!"

"I do not have anyone else to turn to. You are the only one who can."

"Why's that-"

"-I'm being hunted. Hunted for no crime, but in the eyes of few. There is not another option. Please!" After thinking for a moment, James sighs.

"I swear to protect these children with my life."

"Thank you!" She cried. "I'll miss you, my darlings." She whispered to her children, as she believed it would be the last time she saw them. James placed a ring on the index finger of both of them, then promptly picked them up and began walking back towards his home. He turned to ask the woman a question, but she had vanished. And so he moved on.

"Father," James is a bit startled by Dyten's rude awakening.

"Dyten, did you- um- did you finish eating?"

"Yes, father, I ate it all." James chuckles.

"Good. Now go play with Mariota. You two need some time to rest before we begin afternoon training." Dyten scurries off without looking back.

Some time later, there is a man, dressed in peasantry clothes, on his knees before an unseen creature. The beast is tall, around the height of four men.

"So... you wish me to grant you the resurrection of your family." The man looks up into the beasts eyes. He is terrified of it. The monster looks back, seemingly staring directly at his soul.

"Yes- uh- I never got your name um..."

"You don't need to know that. What's important is what you're willing to give in order to attain."

"I will do anything." The monster smiles, rather cunningly, and lets out a relieved sigh.

"I was hoping for you to say that." The man's gaze shoots down in fear. "All I need is one little, disposable object that you don't have use for and we can proceed."

"What is it? I'll give anything!"

"Music to my ears. But first I have a very specific condition."

"And that is...?"

"You have to kill an enemy of mine. He's nothing important- I could handle it myself, but I need to know that your loyalty is true."

"Just give me a name, and it will be done." The beast roars an evil laugh, a thunderclap sounding in the distance.

A short time later, Dyten and Mariota are grown. The year 1498, a time of knights and all imaginable fairy tales. A thunderstorm rolls over James' castle. He is sitting at a desk in his Study, reading an old scroll. The scroll has depictions of a battle between two large creatures. Both have the shape of a human, but wings of an eagle. James' eye dart up at the sound of footsteps in the hallway just outside his Study. He picks a short sword off the desk and moves slowly towards the door. He opens it quietly and rushes out to meet the trespasser, only to find Dyten carrying a small glass of water.

"Dyten, you scared me!" James exclaims.

"I'm sorry father, I didn't know you were in there. I thought you had gone to bed."

"I will be heading that way soon. Just finishing up some light reading."

"As you always are." Dyten smirks a little when he makes this comment. The two of them part ways and James returns to his studies.

The next morning, bright and early, Dyten and Mariota are standing side-by-side in the field where they had battled before. All the members of the staff at Bellatorium Manor are seated on crude, wooden bleachers. James stands in front of his students with two large masses wrapped in fine, purple silk.

"I've waited many years to be able to present these to you. My children... finally of age to receive these precious gifts." He squats down and lifts the larger of the two items, then strolls over to Mariota. "To my daughter," he says as he begins unraveling the silk, "a weapon of many great warriors, now to you." A halberd, made of a perfectly glimmering metal and staff covered in black leather, is revealed and swiftly accepted by Mariota.

"Thank you, James! It's beautiful."

"Not unlike yourself." James mutters to himself as he returns to the other gift. "And for my son." He takes two, one-handed, long swords in their sheathes to Dyten, who quickly attaches them to the back of his cloak. "Blades of the knights before you. They are to be wielded in one hand or use both hands for one blade." Dyten removes one of the blades from his back and ogles the silver blade. The hilt is covered in a black leather, and the crossguard bends upward with a point.

"Father, this is much more than I anticipated."

"I know, but it is my duty as a master to present you with weaponry, and my joy as a father to spoil you." Dyten returns the sword to its place and helps Mariota fasten her own sheathe to the back of her cloak. They then return to their places. James touches each of their shoulders with his own sword, as they kneel, and speaks in a proud tone. "My warriors... my children, you are now officially Knights of the Almighty. Rise and take your emblems to be sewn onto your clothes."

"Thank you, James." Mariota says.

"Yes, thank you."

"Now you two get going. I have some matters to attend to." Later in the evening, Dyten and Mariota are seated in the same spots that they would have as children. Dyten glances up from his meal toward James' empty seat.

"It's not like him to miss a meal," Dyten ponders, "I wonder if he's alright.."

"I'm sure he's fine. He's just old."

"Yes, I guess so..." Dyten and Mariota finish their meal in silence, apart from the clinking of silverware. James is in his study, reading over an old text. The text has an illustration in it that feels familiar to James. He pushes the book away and draws a scroll in to read. He unrolls it and inside he finds what he was looking for. The very same illustration, perfectly identical in every detail to the one in the book. James' eyes scan the text of the book, searching for a meaning. The book offers nothing that the scroll didn't, other than one small line that seems to have been cut off on the scroll. "The feathers of heaven are not as seems. Hard like stone. And dark as night." This stirs James' thoughts.

"Is this true? And if so, does it mean what I thought? And is this even an exact translation? Am I missing the true meaning?" All these thoughts race through his mind. He tries to make sense of all the evidence he's uncovered. But this changes things. He had suspicions and theories you couldn't count, but this sparked a few more. He has always been haunted by the image of an inhumanly beautiful woman, whose sole purpose in greeting him was for him to father her children. This made some things clear. He had heard of things like this in the past, but they were mere folk tales. Fantastical stories of legendary battles between man and beast. But were they true? Clunk. The noise interrupts James' brain.

"What was that?" James thinks to himself. "Could that be Dyten, or Mariota? Yes. Oh, why, of course! I'm being paranoid." Bang! The door flies off its hinges inward toward James. He ducks under the desk and eyes the intruder from the bottom. It is a man wearing a black leather suit, varnished with metallic, human-like skulls on the shoulders, with a hood and a cape draping off the lower back to match. He carries two silver blades in sheathes on his back. The blades resemble daggers. They are fairly longer, but not quite the length of a sword.

"I know you're in here, James. I have heightened senses, like others you know." He walks forward scanning the room for his target. "I am Drake. I felt that if you knew my name you would feel more comfortable with me in here. Seeing as I know yours." He turns on his heels, now facing the desk that James is using as a barrier. "And how is that? We've never met... Or have we?" He says mocking James, by revealing that he knows just what James is thinking. James thinks back to any time he may have had a stranger in the castle. "You wouldn't recognize me, of course. I wouldn't have been wearing this at the time. Oh! And how are the children?" This sparks both dread and fury in James' heart. "I haven't seen little Dyten in a long while. Does he still look up to you? Or would he prefer I take him from you?"

James can't handle anymore of this. He leaps out from under the desk swinging a sword down on his enemy. Drake unsheathes a sword and parries James' attack with a slight flick of the wrist.

"Ha ha ha, now we're getting to the good part." James swings high and is blocked by the second blade, which sets up a thrust from the other. James rolls to under the blade, narrowly dodging the attack. The stands up only to be kicked in the face by a foot, flying from behind his opponent. Drake spins around and takes a fighting position. "This is not going to end well if you keep playing like this.."

"I'm only just getting started." James dashes forward quickly and swings his sword toward the middle of Drake's body, which is thwarted by his blades, clashing with and forcing away James' sword. James uses the momentum to spin around and catch Drake of guard on the opposite side. The blade hits his skin but doesn't cut it. James' jaw drops sparsely but he snaps out of it when Drake laughs.

"Ha ha ha ha ha! I thought you might like that," Drake sneers as he stands to face his opponent, "I am not human. And I am stronger than anyone you will ever meet!" Drake lunges forward, embedding a blade into James' stomach.

"And I'm going to ensure that." Drake rips the blade from his flesh as his body drops to the ground. Drake waltzes to the window and looks back in time to see Dyten enter the room.

"Father..." Dyten looks up to meet with Drake's blood red eyes. Drake gives an evil smile before leaping out the window, disappearing into the night. Dyten rushes to his mentor's side and lifts him up to hold him.

"Dyten..." James mutters, "You have a heavenly gift. Do not abuse it on this world, but use it to defeat the evil that wishes to destroy it." The final words James will say slip from his breathless lips and leave a scar on Dyten's mind. The thunder rolls in the dark. Dyten pierces the night with an infuriated scream. The shadow of two black wings take form from Dyten's back as his scream turns into an ungodly roar.

The Merchant of Souls”

Mariota runs into the study, finding Dyten weeping on his father's body. She slides down next to him and wraps him in a hug.

"Mariota... he- he's dead..."

"Oh, God..." Mariota's sorrow is painfully obvious. The two of them sit for a moment before Dyten stands up, a new, determined look on his face. "Where are you going?" Mariota asks. No answer. He leaves the room and makes toward his own, his sister not far behind. She wonders what he's doing. "This is not like him." She follows his shadow passed the bed and out onto the balcony. She is surprised to see him in a black cloak. The cloak has silver trim and violet highlights, and a hood that shades his face from the moonlight.

"What are you doing? And where did you get that?" She notices the sheathes on his back, strapped tightly down. "You're not... "

"Yes, actually I am." He moves toward the edge of the balcony, but is abruptly halted by Mariota. "Get off of me!" He tries and fails to shrug her off.

"No! I know what you're thinking and I don't blame you for that, but this is not the right thing to do."

"And how is that relevant?!" Dyten screams as he whips around to face her. "He took my father from me. I will make him suffer!"

"Really?! Is that how James raised us? Is that how he would want us to deal with this?"

"You don't get to talk about him like that. He was a father to me. To you he was just a mentor." Mariota unsheathes her halberd, alight with anger.

"Don't you ever say I didn't love him as you did! I loved him just as you!" Dyten takes one of his swords out of its sheath.

"Is that right? Then explain how every single time we addressed him I said 'father' and you said 'Master?'”

Mariota screams and lunges forward, her halberd being hit out of the way by Dyten's sword. He rushes in to jab her, but she hops backward to dodge. She spins the weapon over her head and swings it down, Dyten has to leap out of the way to avoid being cut. He sweeps her legs out from under her, and jumps on top, pinning her to the ground. She thrusts her legs upward into his chest, pushing him off and back. She stands and retrieves her weapon.

"You are not the only one who lost something today, Dyten! We all suffered!" She blocks an incoming jump kick from Dyten with the staff of the halberd. He pushes off of it, doing a backflip in air to land on his feet. Mariota vaults forward and thrusts the blade of her weapon at Dyten. He skips backward dodging the attack, so she sticks the blade into the ground and uses it to catapult herself at him. She knocks him down with a foot to the face and quickly draws her halberd in. She hurries forward and puts the blade at her brother's neck. She hesitates for a moment, which is just enough time for Dyten to sweep her legs out from under her and jump back into a fighting stance.

"Love is your weakness, Mariota," He says as he draws his other blade, "and I'll exploit it to the fullest extent!" Dyten lunges forward, thrusting both blades at his sister. She twirls her weapon once to throw the attack, then spins around and replicates his attack. He ducks backward, bending at the knees, narrowly avoiding the blade. As Mariota draws hear halberd in, Dyten leaps into a flip. He brings his swords down on his sister. She blocks with the staff of her weapon, but is forced onto the ground. One of the silver blades rests at her neck. Dyten sheathes his swords and struts to the edge of the balcony. He steps up onto the ledge and turns to his sister for a final word.

"We're done here." He jumps down into the moat around the castle. Mariota rushes to the edge, looking for a last sign of him, but he has vanished.

Dyten trudges through marshy swamp, his boots soaked and the humidity killing him. In spite of his mission, he begins regretting his decision, but it's too late now. He is still determined to end the life of that who took a piece of his own, but it's not quite the same.

This is ridiculous. I should have known this was not the way.” Dyten complains to himself. The only conversation he can have. Dyten knows that his objective is an evil one. He doesn't care. Dyten feels that it’s necessary to avenge the father of him and Mariota. It doesn't take long for Dyten to reach his target- a campsite in the only dry area of the swamp. He smirks momentarily before reverting to his hardened expression. This was it. His vengeance would be made. He loses not even a second removing a sword from its resting place. He tiptoes up to the flap of a door and swings his blade to open it with a mighty whoosh. Empty. “I could wait for him to come back... But at that point, won't I have lost the element of surprise?”

You're damn right you lost it!” The strong, male voice startles Dyten almost as much as the large blade of a Battle Axe at his neck.. “What are you doing in my camp?”

I came to avenge the death of my father. Though it may be hard to tell by the happy-go-lucky way I sliced through the tent of yours.”

Smart one, huh?” Dyten shrugs in affirmation, continuing his cynical attitude. “I assume I'm not the man you're looking for.. Am I right?”

You would be correct. Yes.” The man releases Dyten, and he turns to face the other.

Rhonwyn.” the man says, gesturing for a hand-shake.

Dyten.”

Funny name, isn't it?”

Funnier than 'Rhonwyn'?”

Touche.”

Late into the evening, Dyten and Rhonwyn are sitting by an open flame, chatting about male nonsense.

So... You said you were out looking for the man that killed your father, if I'm not mistaken.”

Correct.” Dyten's reply deviating from his normal light, sarcastic demeanor.

Well, I know that there've been a number a' guys coming through here every day. Any chance I might have seen 'im?”

You'd know. His attire would stick out in your memory.”

How do you mean?”

He wore a black suit of some kind, covered in these metallic skulls.”

Yeah, that I'd remember.” Rhonwyn takes a swig of mead from his mug. “You seemed real' determined to catch this kid 'fore you met up with me... Why'd you stop?”

I'd lost track of him. I don't know what it was, but I had this... Sense that I knew where he was and how to find him. When it died out, I figured he stopped and that I'd check every camp I found. Now I'm starting to think I made up the entire scenario to fool myself into thinking I could get him.”

That sucks,” Rhonwyn said with legitimate empathy, “bad... I wish there was a lot I could do, but I ain't no warlock 'r nothin'.”

The only thing I can think to ask if any odd things are going on anywhere. As I remember, this man jumped from the fourth floor without making a splash in our moat. So I assume he landed on the ground, but that's a little ridiculous.”

Come to think of it, I have heard of some stuff like 'at. There's a rumor that up north- about thirty miles- there's a guy- Well,” He stops abruptly, “I say 'guy' but they call him a beast. Anyway, this thing grants people wishes of extraordinary scale. I heard he gave one guy a kingdom. They say there's a price that no one's been unwilling to pay, but it sounds like a hoax to me. Either way, recently the rumor's been spreadin' that he asks for two things: the usual and a favor. The favor tends to consist of killin' some poor bastard that the guy has a beef with.”

Like you said earlier, it sounds like a hoax.”

Right? But here's the thing. People are doing it. Like, dropping everything to go murder someone and then goin' back to the guy for their reward. No one talks about what happens after that, though. It gets real' 'hush hush'.” Dyten's interest peaks.

Are you suggesting that I go to this... man... beast... thing and ask him to find the man to killed my father?”

I'm suggesting that he told this guy to kill your father. Go up North and beat some info outta this guy. I'm sure it's a rouse that'll come crumbling down once he gets a mouthful of those!” Rhonwyn gestures toward Dyten's swords. Dyten gives Rhonwyn a sort of proud smirk, but it fades and he becomes far too serious for Rhonwyn's liking.

This man.. beast.. merchant- whatever he is- I’ve got a feeling it’s not human. Something supernatural. I mean, what‘s he offering that makes people drop everything a murder someone?”

What did it for you?” Rhonwyn’s joke not making it very far. He notices that Dyten doesn’t acknowledge with his own remark, a strange behavior for someone of Dyten’s attitude. “How’s about we go together?”

What?!”

Look, I know what it’s like to lose someone, and I can tell you need help. Now, I’m not sayin’ I support what you’re doin’, I just get it.”

It’ll be dangerous..”

Ain’t stopped me before.”

Fine,” Dyten replies, “we’ll begin heading North tomorrow, bright and early. I want that man’s head on a stake by the end of the week.” Dyten storms off to his tent, leaving Rhonwyn shocked by his violent manner.

The next morning, Dyten and Rhonwyn are packing the last remaining things into bags on either side of a large, brown horse. Dyten leaps forward and pulls himself up onto the stead’s back, tossing his right leg over to the coordinating side of the horse. Rhonwyn climbs onto his own horse, a little more calmly than his friend.

Say, where’d you get these horses anyway?” Rhonwyn asked.

I procured them from a pair of thugs not far West of here.”

And by ‘procured’ you mean ‘stole’.”

The ends justify the means, alright?”

Not totally sure I agree with that. Not like there’s much I can do, though. Seein’ as you already took ‘em and all.” Dyten ignores Rhonwyn, trying to focus on the task at hand. He taps the horse’s side with his foot, getting it going at a slow pace. Rhonwyn doesn’t lose any time catching up with Dyten. The horses manage to trek through the marsh with little trouble- something that the two boys would have lost precious hours for. Hours pass, and, late into the evening, Dyten’s eyes start to falter- they flash open for a moment and return to normal. Focused. Rhonwyn notices and taps him on the shoulder. “Hey… You okay?”

I’m fine. Let’s keep going. I want this over by the end of the week.” Rhonwyn sighs. “Yeah,” he says, “you said that..”

I meant it, so let’s- let’s keep- uh- keep.. going….” Dyten passes out on his horse’s

back, startling the poor creature. Rhonwyn laughs a little, trying to lighten the mood for himself. He sets up both tents on a dry patch of grass, and takes Dyten from his horse down into a tent before turning to go sleep in his own. Dyten jolts awake, sitting up and looking around confused. He exits the tent abruptly, finding Rhonwyn already cooking eggs of some kind over a fire.

Mornin’, Sleepin’ Beauty. Eggs?” Dyten stares Rhonwyn down, alight with frustration.

Why did we stop?”

You passed out on your horse. Poor fella nearly had a heart attack. Eggs?”

You’ve got to be joking!”

What?”

This is valuable time we’re losing here! We need to pack up and go, NOW!”

Slow your roll, Swordsy.” Rhonwyn stands up and turns his body to face Dyten. “I get that you wanna gut this guy, but what’s the hurry?”

The faster I kill him, the faster I can go home.”

Home? Son, once you murder a guy you’re done. That’s all she wrote. The End.”

What do you mean?” Rhonwyn’s face becomes more solemn. He sighs before gripping Dyten’s shoulder.

Once you’ve taken a life, you can’t get yours back. You go down that path, the gate closes. You’re stuck. A real good friend of mine lost his life by taking someone else’s, and he didn’t come back whole.”

Well they aren’t me. I’ll be fine.”

That’s what he said,” Rhonwyn whispers to himself. The pair resumes their quest North, in unusual silence for the most part. It doesn’t take long for them reach the end of the swamp, where Dyten kicks his horse’s side, sending it into a powerful gallop. Rhonwyn does the same, as to not lose track of Dyten. As they ride, Rhonwyn yells over to his friend. “This is about where all the reports came from! We are definitely gettin’ close!”

Perfect.” Dyten’s horse suddenly dives, headfirst, into the ground. Dyten is thrown off, but manages to land on his feet and look around for the attacker. He hears a twisted laugh. He turns to see a man in a silver suit of armor, resembling that of a Spartan. He carries a shield and spear of the same material. He has a cape that drapes from the belt down to the ground, and metallic skulls attached to his chest piece by a small chain. Dyten looks his attacker up and down, trying to see if he recognizes this man. “Perfect..” This time, he’s a tad more sardonic about the matter.

Ha ha ha, hello Dyten.” The man says, throwing Dyten off excessively.

How do you know me?” Dyten asks.

I have been looking for you. You see, I figured that once I had James killed,” Dyten suddenly realizes what’s going on, “you’d be right behind Drake to find either him or myself. And I have been waiting for this. So,” The man jumps down from his perch in a tree, “Let’s get started, shall we?”

Fine by me!” Dyten unsheathes his swords, and drops into a fighting stance.

The man leaps forward, thrusting his spear toward Dyten, who parries and counters. This is blocked by the man’s shield. The man twirls his spear to the butt end, and hits Dyten smack in the nose. Dyten becomes frustrated quickly, and spins himself around, slicing at the enemy multiple times, each swipe clashing with the man’s armor. Dyten leaps backward to give himself some room before lunging forward and stabbing at the man with one sword, using the other one to thrust the man’s shield away, allowing the attack to follow through. Dyten dropkicks the man to push him back, and leaps forward with both blades forward.The man uses his shield to block the attack and force Dyten off of him. He tosses his spear at Dyten, who uses his swords to throw it off course and into a tree. The man drops his shield and rushes forward and incredible speed. He punches Dyten across the face, throwing him back, then follows with a combination of a sidekick and a spinning back kick. These send Dyten flying into a tree, and forcing him to drop his swords.

This has been far more entertaining than I thought. Maybe I should have offed the old man myself..” Dyten’s frustration turn to rage, as he bolts forward. He swiftly picks up his swords as he rushes toward his prey, eyes aglow with violet light. Dyten unleashes a flurry of attacks at blinding speed, the man hardly able to keep up. The final blow of the storm is a twirling kick to the face that bounces the man off the ground because of its force, then followed by a roundhouse that pushes the man backward, tumbling over himself several times before finally skidding to a halt. He gets up and drops his helmet. His face inhumanly beautiful. He wipes blood from his mouth then looks up at Dyten.

Ha ha ha, very good. Unleash that anger. That rage. it only proves that we’re more alike than you think.”

I am nothing like you!”

Exactly my point. More than you think.” The man straightens up before gaining a rather smug look on his face. “I do believe it’s time I introduce myself.” He takes a step forward and his eyes burst with fire, and his voice becomes deep and disfigured. “I am Lucifer.” A geyser of fire erupts from under him, engulfing his body completely. The fire is abruptly dispersed by the flapping of two huge, black wings. A massive, black dragon has replaced Lucifer, his long tail whipping around behind him, and eyes pure orange like the fire that spawned his evil. He releases a low growl, his eyes seemingly staring directly into Dyten’s soul.

Lu-Lucifer… as in the Lucifer? God give me strength.Lucifer spreads his wings, showing that the webbing extends to the end of his tail. Twisted horns adorn his head with an evil look. He growls again, this time taunting the young warrior. Dyten rushes forward, attempting to attack his huge opponent. The beast hurls a stream of fire from his mouth that takes Dyten down. The attack burns his skin, but he seems unfazed. He takes an incredible leap and slashes Lucifer’s throat, but it’s not enough. The beast’s tail swings around and strikes Dyten down. Lucifer then slams his tail into Dyten several more times, finishing the fight with a brutal attack.

Ha ha ha ha ha! You thought you would defeat me!? I am the King of Hell! The Merchant of Souls! I am the Fallen Angel, the only pure-blooded Heavenkin left on Earth, and you seem to think that I am merely an animal for you to slaughter! You underestimate you God!” Lucifer taunts Dyten before flying away into the sky, disappearing behind the dark clouds of rain. Rhonwyn runs to Dyten’s side, trying to help him up. He sees Dyten’s wounds healing abnormally fast, though significant damage still remains. Dyten quickly gets up and grabs Rhonwyn’s shoulder.

You alright, mate?”

I-I don’t.. I don’t know.. I feel like I’ve been crushed in an avalanche, but I have to keep going.”

What?!”

Drake, or whatever his name is, still lives. That is my final destiny. That is the final goal. Neither of us may live while the other survives.” He gets up, mounts his horse, and continues on his way to find his father’s killer.

Chapter Three

Drake is sitting on the ground in a large cave, sharpening his blades with a smooth stone. He looks up at the sound of clanking, metal boots hitting the hard stone floor to find Lucifer in returning victorious. Drake stands to meet his employer.

Master, you’ve returned. Was your quest successful?”

Yes. Little Dyten will no longer be an issue for us.”

So that’s it, then?”

Yes… Our business together is done. You may return to your family, and I will leave you in peace.”

Thank you, sir. This was a transaction neither of us will soon regret.”

Hmpf. Now leave me!” Drake does as he is told and exits the cave without another word.

Dyten, get back here!” Rhonwyn yells to his friend. “Just where the hell do you think you’re going?”

Lucifer may have sent Drake after my father, but he still had the choice to finish the job. Vengeance will be mine, and there is little standing in my way.”

I’m standing in your way.”

That’s what I said.” Dyten’s insult stirring anger in Rhonwyn. Rhonwyn draws the axe from his back and twirls it to set his right hand closer to the blade than his left.

Boy, you’d better watch your tone.”

And what’s the old man going to to?” Dyten says, drawing a weapon of his own. Rhonwyn swings his axe, meaning only to scare Dyten, but his attack is blocked and deflected by Dyten’s sword. The counter-attack forces Rhonwyn back, but he uses the momentum to spin around and swipe at Dyten. Dyten is caught off guard, only barely able to dodge the blade of Rhonwyn’s axe by bending backward at the knee. Dyten catches himself with his sword and flips backward to face Rhonwyn again. He rushes forward with his sword out-stretched. Dyten’s attempt to stab Rhonwyn is thwarted by the powerful swing of Rhonwyn’s axe. Dyten’s sword is flung from his hand, but he quickly draws the other one and swipes at Rhonwyn. Rhonwyn’s chest is cut by the fine edge of Dyten’s sword slicing the thin mail in between plates of armor on Rhonwyn. Rhonwyn’s eyes light up with green rage as he uses all his might to damage Dyten’s own chest with the blade of his axe, then proceeds to dropkick Dyten into a tree. Rhonwyn then leaps forward, coming down at Dyten with the strongest swing, attacking the tree instead of Dyten’s open face.

I told you,” Rhonwyn says through exasperated gasps, “killing this man will end your life, and I’m done protecting it.” Rhonwyn takes his axe from the tree and returns it to its sheathe, as he walks away from Dyten.

Get back here, old man! We aren’t finished!”

We’re beyond finished, Dyten.” Those would be Rhonwyn’s final words to his friend. Dyten stands up, holding his injured arm. He stares Rhonwyn down, as he mounts his horse and rides South-bound. Dyten turns and remounts his own horse, turning the poor creature North.

I don’t need him. I can handle myself.” Dyten’s mix of adrenaline and testosterone fuel his anger for Drake farther than before. He kicks the side of his horse, injuring him slightly, but getting the animal galloping toward Dyten’s next opponent. Dyten’s horse starts to slow just after dusk, exhausted from a full day’s worth of running. Dyten slides of his stead and sets up a camp.

I am going to need a lot of sleep to prepare for my duel with Drake. That is if I find him tomorrow…” Dyten thinks to himself. He falls asleep quickly, his wounds healing at a faster pace during Dyten’s hibernative state. The next morning, Dyten readies himself for the journey without even eating, but not forgetting to feed his horse. Dyten looks back toward the South where Rhonwyn left. Should I go back? Maybe Rhonwyn was right..” Dyten shakes this thought from his mind and continues the way he had been going. Later in the day, Dyten has stopped to allow his horse to drink from a creek. He stands next to the stead, his eyes focused on a small bee, buzzing around a yellow flower. Dyten’s head jerks toward the sound of a twig snapping, no longer fascinated by the simple creature. Dyten slowly draws a sword, trying not to create too much noise. He sneaks toward the source of the sound, barely making a sound of his own. He rolls passed a tree, startling a small rabbit, but nothing else. He sighs. It’s only a rabbit.. Wow, I’m getting paranoid.”

Not as much as you think.” Dyten whips around, holding his sword out at Mariota’s throat. Her hood has been flipped back, and she’s wearing white armor that has gold trim and is matched with a red skirt-cape. Her halberd is strapped across her back.

Mariota,” Dyten sheathes his weapon, “What are you doing here?”

What do you think, Dyten? I’m here to stop you from doing something you’ll regret.”

What makes you think I’m just going to listen to you?”

Nothing in particular, but I had to have faith.”

Well you’re wrong.” Dyten brushes passed his sister, standing next to his horse. “I have to do this. I know you don’t understand, and I don’t expect you too, but-”

- What’s that supposed to mean?!” Mariota commands, offended.


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