Chapter 6: A New Home

"Halo? Are you okay? Halo?" says a familiar voice from what seems like miles away. "Halo, wake up, now, your going to be fine." But the voice keeps becoming more and more distant as though the person saying it were walking away.

Halo looks around the room to try and find where the voice is coming from but he is in a circular room, the walls are all white and to his surprise the room seems vaguely familiar, and he loses his focus on the disembodied voice. "Where am I?" he asks quietly, not really asking anyone in particular. He turns to look at the wall behind him and sees his sword hanging there one two hooks on the white wall. But something about the sword is slightly different from the last time he saw it. There are three small circles just below the blade on the handle. The topmost is white, the next is brown and the one below that is blue. The sword seems to be in a little better shape than it was when he used it to kill the griffon.

"Do you know where you are?" says a different voice, but this voice seemed to be much closer and more prominent than the other one.

"I recognize this place from my dreams . . . But I don't exactly know where I am." He says still feeling confused. "Who exactly are you?"

A door he didn't realize was there began to open and I blinding light pours into the room. "Don't you recognize my voice, Zach?" There is a shadow in the doorway but the light behind him makes him difficult to see. "Zach it's me." The man steps forward a step and the door closes sharply behind him. The light from the doorway is closed out and for a moment Halo couldn't believe his eyes, but after what seemed like an eternity the man spoke one last time. "Zach, it's me, it's dad."

There was a bang from somewhere distant but Halo took no notice to it. He was in awe as to how he could be talking to his father again after it had been almost 8 years since the last time he saw him. There was another loud bang but this time it was a lot louder than the last one, as though it were getting closer to them. "Dad . . ." But there was one last booming sound and the floor began to crumble away beneath them. "Dad what's happening?!" He looks around, the floor had all disappeared and his father had started to fall into the blackness that was now beneath them. "Dad? DAD!" He was now floating in a sea of darkness, nobody around to help him. All his friends were somewhere unknown to him and he didn't know what to do.

Suddenly the familiar voice began to speak again. It was not alone though; there were several other voices too. He looked around to try and see where they were all coming from but he was looking into nothing. "We have to hurry, if he doesn't start moving soon, he's gonna be flattened into dust!" Says a man's voice.

"Where are you?" Halo cries out, and to his surprise someone answered.

"Halo? Did you say something?" Says Lara's voice in a very rushed tone. "Well, get up! You have to move!"

"What are you talking about? I am up!" Halo looks up to try and find what he is supposed to get to, but at that moment there is a sharp pain in his side and he begins to fall through the darkness. The darkness overcomes him and he closes his eyes. Now he can feel a gentle wind blowing on his face and the grass growing up in the ground around him. He opens his eyes to see the bright evening sky looking back at him. A sudden thundering boom makes him sit up and look around.

He sees Lara, watching him from behind a nearby rock and behind her are two men, one of them looks vaguely familiar. But the other guy is completely new to him. "Zach! Get over here! In the woods!" Lara yells as she glances over Halo's shoulder and begins to run in to the tree line.

Halo follows her in and asks, "Why are we hiding? And what on earth is that noise?" He says, looking around, as another gigantic boom rattles the forest around them.

His eyes seemed to deceive him as he stared into the horizon and tried to see what they were looking at. The dead griffons body is still lying on the ground in the middle of the road and over top of it a vast shadow is covering the setting sun. "Looks like we're in for quite a fight." Says a sly voice from behind Halo. He turns to see which man had spoken but both of them had serious looks on their faces, well, almost, the one man still hasn't revealed his face from behind his hood, but Halo can tell through his eyes that he wasn't wanting to explain there sudden arrival. So he held his question and turned back to the horizon.

"Zach, you should let these two handle this one, you still seem a little tired. And a Golem can be quite a challenge unless you're at full strength." Lara says over his shoulder. He turns around to look her in the eye but she is avoiding his eye completely and looking upward into the canopy above them. He shrugs and tells the other two men that he'll stay back and watch as they fight the giant beast. But asks a sudden question as they start to walk toward the lumbering giant, "Why are you fighting it? What will you earn from knowing that Golem is dead?" His eyes are dead serious and he will not take his gaze off of them.

One man, the man who is clothed in what seems something a servant would wear, turns to him and says with a slight grin, "It's not knowing the beast is dead, but teaching you a lesson about your own legacy." He says as he holds up Halo's old sword and puts it on his shoulder. Halo just gapes and looks down to his waste and wonders how he got that off of him without him noticing.

At last after many more thundering earth shakes, each stronger than the last, the massive Golem arrives and looks down at the dead griffon. Casually the two men walk out of the forest and stare up at the massive elemental. The man in the hooded mask takes one giant leap about 50 feet into the air and lands on the massive shoulder, A shoulder that seemed to be able to crush anything it wanted. Then while the dumbfounded Golem takes a swat at his own shoulder the man at the feet, the one with Halo's sword, begins to climb the beast's rocky legs.

"Hah! Is that all you can do?" Retorts the man on the shoulder as the golem misses another swat and puts yet another dent in its own body. Meanwhile the other man is still scaling the monster, he has finally made it to its back and seems to be looking for something. He obviously can't jump as high as the other man or he could have gotten there a hell of a lot faster.

The golem spins around suddenly so the man on its back leaves view from Halo and Lara. The other guy is still dancing around on the Golem's shoulders but he isn't going to be able to dodge the golems blows much longer. The beast is becoming frantic and is starting to flail around like a fish on dry land. Its arms are smashing its shoulders a lot faster than it seems possible for a golem to move.

There is a loud yell that sounded like "Now!" from behind the golem and the man on top dives backward off of the beast and disappears over its shoulder. Suddenly, for no apparent reason the Golem stops moving and drops his arms. "What? Why'd it stop like that?" Halo asks in awe.

The Golem falls flat on its face with one last earsplitting, earth shattering crash and lies motionless on top of the griffon. A man stands up on the creatures back and begins to pull a sword out of it. He pulls very hard but the blade does not move until at last a brown smoke erupts from the spot where the sword is shoved into the stony beast and completely consumes the man. A moment later the smoke is dissipated and the man steps forward holding the blade over his shoulder.

"How did you know how to take that thing out like that?" Halo asks the man, an odd expression on his face.

The man simply looks at him and says, "No matter, take this sword and look at it, tell me exactly what you see there."

Halo takes his own sword back from the man, examines it and doesn't seem to see anything wrong, but suddenly he realizes what the man is talking about, "Where did those come from?" he asks looking at two small circles on the handle, the top one white and the next one brown.

"Well, the first one came from that bird over there," he nods his head toward the dead griffon, which is now being crushed buy the once great elemental on top of it, "and the other came from the poor soul laying on top of it."

"So, what you're saying, Zero, is that every time this sword kills anything it gets another circle added to its handle?" Lara asks the man in the servant clothes, the one who killed the Golem, the one who is still eyeing Halo with an odd expression on his face.

"No, what he said was, the first time this sword kills a beast of a certain element It gets a circle for that element's color added to it." Says the other man, just now walking back from the dead golem.

"But why? I don't want a trophy for being able to kill a creature of an element. It means nothing to me how many circles are on that sword." Halo says, still feeling a little confused.

"They aren't trophies, they power up the sword, and the swords master." Zero explains, "And the world hangs in the balance unless you get four elemental circles on here."

"What are you talking about? How can the world be hanging over my shoulders like this? I'm only 17! What am I supposed to do to save the world? Slay two more beasts?!" Halo asks, his temper rising a little.

"I don't think you understand the seriousness of what we are trying to tell you." Lara startles him from behind, "You have to understand, this is up to you, and we need you to do this for us."

"What? You knew about this? How come you didn't mention it?" Halo asks. His temper now cooling off a little and the confusion returning.

"Just come with us, we'll show you what we mean, Siren can explain things a whole lot better than we can." Says the man in the mask.

"I don't see why not . . . I mean what Ielse/I do I have to do?" He adds sarcastically

So they set off back to Leglimar and as they were getting on to the phoenix Zero cursed at the sign that had been posted and blew it up with what seemed like more power than he meant to use, leaving a 10 foot wide crater in the ground right in the middle of town. All he said was, "That'll teach 'em!" and he mumbled a few more indistinguishable words after that.

The four flew four what seemed like days, none of them saying much of anything and Lara had fallen asleep and seemed to be having a very nice dream because she kept on smiling. "What on earth do you suppose she's so happy about?" Halo asks in an airy bored voice.

"I dunno, why don't ya wake her up and ask?" Zero retorts not bothering to look back, he keeps giving the phoenix instructions on how to get to where ever it was they were going, and didn't seem to impressed with Lara or any of the others at the moment.

"Alrighty then!" he crawls over and pulls a small red feather out of the phoenix's back. "Sorry bud." He added as he felt the massive bird quiver a bit beneath him. He giggles a bit as he puts the feather in her ear and she laughs and rolls over. "Laaaarrraaaaa, are you awake?"

He is about to put the feather in her ear again when Zero yells, "Alright, we're here." Halo looks back at Lara. She was sitting up now scratching her ear and eyeing Halo up.

"What were you going to do with that?" She implies as he tries to hide the feather behind his back.

"heh, well, I . . . er . . . I dunno." He says scratching the back of his head and looking skyward. Something small and glittery catches his eye. "Uh, Zero, what's that thing?" He asks pointing at the small speck.

"That," he replies, "is home."