Hello, and welcome (finally) to my first story up on ! I'm DarkCatXX, or just DCXX if you want, new author to fictionpress. Hope you guys are here for the long run, 'cause this story's gonna get long (As long as I actually stay and finish it that is….). Anyway, without further ado, here's my story!

The steel grey water crashed against the wall of rock, the sound it made seeming to compete with the clashing thunder up above. Rain poured from the heavens, blown off-course by harsh unforgiving winds. But even so, the scent of blood hovered thickly in the air.

Up above, on the ground, the earth was stain with blood. Bodies littered the ground as far as the eye could see, mangled and torn by a heartless enemy. Even after the battle was over, dark, mutant creatures could be seen ripping apart the dead and feasting on the flesh.

The rhythmic clink of armor could suddenly be heard through the storm's quieting howl, as if nature itself feared dominance in any way over this being. The knight stopped before the scene, observing his dark minions work. Silent sobbing at his feet caused him to look down, revealing the only survivor of his attack.

With a black, clawed hand the knight grabbed the man by the neck and raised him off the ground. The man could do little to resist; he had lost an arm and leg from the battle. Staring at the sobbing man as he held him at face length, the black knight gave a harsh laugh.

"Disgusting..." He said in a deep, chilling voice, observing the man through his bloodstained horned helmet. The man whimpered as the knight's grip tightened around his neck. "But I must thank you," The dark knight's cold voice rang, "By bringing so many magic users to be sacrificed, you have increased my power. Your little rebellions will be pointless now. You will never succeed."

The man raised his head slightly to stare at his soon-to-be executioner. "We…we'll never give up." He stuttered, blood trickling out of the side of his mouth as he spoke, "Not until Araylia is a free land again."

The knight threw back his armored head and laughed once again. Looking back at his victim, he spoke, "You really believe you can defeat me now? You rebels are more foolish then I thought! But, no matter. It is only a matter of time until you are extinct." The knight raised him higher, tightening his hold around the man's neck as he spluttered and gasped for breath. "As for you, well, death will suit you much better."

As the man tried to struggle from the black knight's fatal grip, a gunshot rang out. A chilling clinking sound rang through the air, and the black knight turn to see a young man pointing a handgun at him.

"Kage?" the knight questioned silently, looking curiously at the young man. Lowering the now gasping man, but still holding on to him, the knight inquired, "Why?"

"Because," the man named Kage panted out, breathing and sweating as if he had just run for miles, "Because you've ruined my life. You destroyed my home. You murdered my family. You…you made me your weapon! I won't have it anymore!"

He raised his gun higher, aiming at the knight's helmet, or, more specifically, a large crimson gem incrusted in the center of the knight's helmet. "I know your weakness." Kage whispered, through clenched teeth, still breathing heavily. Unusually large and sharp canine teeth could be easily seen as Kage looked nervously around at the dead bodies.

If the knight had worn no helmet, his sickening smile could have been seen. "Yes…" he hissed, looking at the panic faced Kage. "Yes…the smell is intoxicating, isn't it?" He breathed in slowly, smelling the blood-soaked air. He raised his bloody, half-dead victim infront of him as Kage started trembling. "Come now," The knight said in a soothing, almost loving way, "Come and do what you are meant to do. Show me your loyalty, and I shall forget this waver of obedience."

Kage just stared, ruby red eyes wide and fixed on the man held in front of him. Slowly, he backed away, lowering his gun and shaking his messy ebony haired head. "No…No…I won't…" he said, terrified, more to convince himself then to his master. Suddenly, his pupils became slits, like a cat, or worse, a snake. He moaned and faltered, grabbing his head and shaking.

The black knight laughed and barked, "You will follow orders! Now come my pet, I am your master! Do as you're told and you will be rewarded! Come and drink!" He shook the man he held, for extra persuasion.

"NOOO!" Kage screamed, still holding his head. "NO! I am not your toy or plaything, to be used to do whatever you please! I am not you servant! I am my own person! I will not be controlled!" He backed away, approaching the edge of the cliff that overlooked the sea. Another step back and he almost slipped. Startled, he looked back to see the mass of water smash once again into the earth.

The knight chuckled, walking up to Kage. "You have nowhere left to go." He said, "Come and feast!"

Slowly, Kage stood up straight. The black knight looked at him expectantly. Kage smirked, eyes closed. He leant backwards and fell off the ledge.

With a frustrated growl the knight clenched his fists in anger, and with a gagging noise and a squelch, the man's head fell after Kage.

Sarah's POV

My eye's snapped open, and I sat up, gasping for breath, convinced the dark knight would turn and see me standing there. Frantically looking around I sighed in relief; I was safe in my room. It had just been a nightmare...but it had been so vivid…

I noticed I was shivering. Looking, I saw I was drenched in a cold sweat. I took my sheet and wiped my face, starting to calm down and breathe normally again. I closed my eyes and fell back on my pillow. I felt like I had run for miles.

I sighed and warily opened my eyes again. A dream, I thought, I can't believe I'm so worked up about a dream. Granted, it had been quite…disturbing to say the least, but it was only a dream.

I thought back. It wasn't only what happened in the dream that was bugging me, but details about the people. The man who shot the knight and the man the knight killed had both had red eyes. I had never met, let alone heard of a person having red eyes. Everyone I had everseen on the whole Island of Nadalia had blue eyes, whether they be ice blue, silver blue or ocean blue. I myself had deep sapphire eyes. Red eyes were unheard of.

There was something else that bothered me, but also, I hated to admit, comforted me as well. As with their eye colour, everyone in Nadalia had the same hair colour of snow white...with the exception of myself. I had long, straight jet-black hair, the same colour as the Kage man's. The battle dead in my dream had also had all sorts of hair colours, too many for me to name.

Also the one man had mentioned a place called Araylia, if I remembered correctly. I had never heard of it, but thinking of it stirred something in my mind…

Sitting up again I smiled and shook my head. Why was I worrying, it had only been a dream, a nightmare! I chuckled to myself. Stupid, really, getting so worked up about a dream. I pushed it out of my mind.

I looked out the window. It was still dark, but I could see the sun on the horizon in the distance, reflecting off the ocean. I got up, stretching with a yawn. I may as well get in an hour or two of training before the day began. Throwing on a sleeveless red shirt, some black pants and double-checking my tsuki stone was around my neck, I grabbed my bo (1) and left my room.

I tiptoed through the hall so not to wake my grandpa, who I lived with. Down the stairs and through the kitchen, I stopped to write a note to my grandpa.

'Gone to train. Be back soon,


Leaving the parchment on the table where he would find it, I headed to the front door. Suddenly remembering, I backtracked to the living room, eyes glowing at the shelves of books that aligned the walls. I loved to sit down with a good book after a long hard training session, so, randomly grabbing one I ran to the door connecting our house to my grandpa's store. Hopping the counter, without a second glance at the many weapons adorning the walls, I walked out into the cool morning, door jingling shut behind me.

I stood and breathed in the ocean air, exhilarated. Smiling I turned right, running down the deserted road. I had always loved the late night and early morning; the world was so quiet and peaceful compared to the usual busy commotion of the day.

I continued to run straight until I reached the fountain in the Village Square. I slowed and stared at the beautiful fountain for a moment. Fresh water continually flowed from the statue of the moon goddess, Taylina, who sat in the center holding her water jar from which it was believed she poured the moon into the night sky. The water had no visible source, but I knew better. The fountain's endless supply of water came from the many tsuki gems incrusted in it. The gems gave the water a brilliant blue shine, and from what I had heard, gave the water incredible healing powers. Nadalia's many tsuki gems were the reason you could never meet a sick Nadalian, and the reasoning behind our long lives.

Turning right again, I ran towards the coast. Instead of jumping the small ledge onto the beach, I ran along it, towards the forest edge and my favourite place to train. Reaching it I took one more deep breath of fresh air, put my book beside a tree, and kneeled on the dew filled grass. Placing my bo before me I closed my eyes, trying to clear my mind of all thought.

My breath became slower and calm. I heard and felt the gentle breeze playing softly against my skin. I tried to let go of everything, like I had done countless times before. But there was still something nagging in my mind…

The black knight was coming; I could hear his ragged breath from behind, his armour clinking as he walked. He stopped and I shivered, the air had suddenly become cold. I heard the sound of a sword slowly being unsheathed; a rush through the air as it was raised, and, as if in slow motion, the sound as it came rushing toward me…

"NOO!" I yelled, eyes snapping open, and in one fluid motion I grabbed and raised my bo to block an oncoming lance.

"I'm sorry I disturbed you, but I didn't realize you would be so surprised." my attacker said in a slightly bewildered voice. I looked up.

"Oh," I panted, rolling into a sitting position, "Kane…It's only you…You scared me…"

"I can see that." He said offering a hand to help me up. I grabbed it, still a bit shaky, and pulled myself to my feet.

"Sorry Kane, I…I didn't expect you…sorry for freaking out…" I muttered, still breathing heavily, trying to calm my racing heart. Kane just shook his head.

"I'm the one that should apologize. I did not realize you were so deep with your meditation. I only just saw you arrive." Kane replied in his emotionless voice, bowing his head.

"Yeah…well…" I trailed off, not bothering to correct the reasoning behind my panicked attack. I gave Kane a sheepish look.

Kane was a fellow Nadalian. He was 18, only two years older then myself. Like myself, and all other Nadalians, Kane had mastered a weapon, the lance. He usually wore a serious look; silver blue eyes making him look like a hardened warrior. Behind his exterior though, Kane was a polite and compassionate person, though somewhat of an enigma. As usual, he wore his long, straight colourless hair down, and tied a blue designed headband around his head. He wore his usual white kimono with a pale blue dragon design on it, colour contrasting well with the sapphire tsuki gem around his neck. His perfectly designed lance was held loosely at his side.

"Well," he said, turning, "I hope to see you later."

"Hey, wait, Kane!" I called after him, just having a good idea, "While you're here, want to spar? I mean I suppose I wasn't the only one who woke up this early to train, am I?"

Kane's usually emotionless face broke into a determined smile. "Certainly." He said walking back, getting in a fighting stance. I did the same, thrill of the upcoming battle making me smirk. When we were both ready, we started to circle each other.

Suddenly Kane ran up, lance posed to attack from the left. I blocked, our metal weapons clanging loudlyin the soundless morning. Weapons still together, I flicked my bo as to hit Kane's leg. He sidestepped just in time, coming at me from the right, hoping to use his height to attack from above. I raised my bo and blocked, feeling myself being pushed backwards slightly as Kane pushed trying to break through my block. Using my smaller size and speed to my advantage, I quickly ducked and rolled to the side as Kane's lance cut the earth. Still crouching, I tried to use my bo to trip him again. As quickly as I had, he angled his lance downward and blocked. I jumped back, and charged, feinting an attack to the right.

We had to be fighting for at least and hour, neither of us coming out on top. We were both tiring, panting for breath, the morning sun's rays causing us both to sweat. Blocking yet another one of Kane's attacks, I heard someone's heavy footfalls. The person running up called, "Hey, Sarah!"

I looked in spite of myself. I was right at the end of the ledge over the beach. Kane, who looked up the moment after I had, still pushing me back, suddenly stopped. Not a moment later I lost my balance, and fell into the soft sand below.

I heard a laugh. "You'll want to try not falling while fighting, Sarah. Puts you at a real disadvantage." Scoffed a familiar voice from up above.

"I find that hard to do while you're around, Steph," I said, standing up and looking up at my friend.

Grinning, Steph put her hands on her hips. "Aww, you're falling for me, Sarah? Sorry to disappoint, but I don't swing that way." She playfully mocked, triumphantly smirking. I felt heat rush to my face.

Unable to think of a counter mock, I just said, "Ah, shut up Steph." Her grin grew.

Steph had been my best friend, since, well, always. We were the same age, but she had always been short, making her look younger. She had short, straight, obviously colorless hair, and big bright blue eyes. She wore simple white pants and a powder blue shirt under her white jacket. Unlike most Nadalians, Steph wore her tsuki stone around her wrist. Her weapon of expertise was the bow and arrow, which at the moment she didn't have with her.

"So," I said with asmile, after having climbed up the small ledge back to Steph and Kane, "Didn't bring your huge bow with you this morning Steph? Wanted to look a little taller?"

"Hey," she whined, looking childishly grumpy, "I'm supposed to be the one throwing the mocks here!"

I chuckled. Still smiling, I asked, "What did you want Steph, or did you just come and see me fall on my ass?"

Steph sighed. "I wish I had," she replied moodily, "But, unfortunately, your grandpa told me to come and get you. Don't know what he wanted."

"'Kay, I'm coming," I said, grabbing my book. Turning to Kane I said, "Thanks for the fight."

"It was my pleasure," he replied, bowing in thanks, "You are becoming a great warrior, Sarah."

I blushed again. "Thanks," I said curtly, turning to walk with Steph. "See you, then." I waved. Kane just nodded.

I turned and ran up to Steph, who was a few paces ahead of me. Looking to the ground, thinking, I noticed the book in my right hand. I hadn't had a chance to read it yet. Curiosity taking hold, I looked to its worn cover to see it's title.

Journeys through the land Araylia

I stopped, eyes wide. "Araylia…" I whispered. That was the same place from my dream!

"Sarah…?" I heard Steph say up ahead.

I looked up. She was looking at me curiously. Feeling stupid, I muttered, "Coming," and ran up to her again.

Steph peered at the book in my hand and smiled. "Another book?" she said, giving me a look, "Really, I can't see how you can stand to sit and read those things! There just sooo boring."

"I can't see how you can't," I replied, catching Steph's contagious smile. "Well, actually," I replied in mock thought, "I guess I can, since you can't sit still for three minutes."

Steph laughed, and I looked back at the aging book in my hand, frowning. What was happening to me? The dream, the book, the scare with Kane. Something was wrong with me, and I had no idea what…

"Sarah? Are you even listening?"

Shocked out of my stupor, I looked up. Steph was staring at me with a slightly worried look. "Are you okay?" she asked seriously.

I sighed. "Yeah," I answered, "It's…just been a long day already." I gave Steph what I hoped was a convincing smile. "Now, what were you on about?" I asked.

"I was talking about not being able to wait for tonight." Steph said, grinning again.

I became confused. "Umm…tonight?" I asked, puzzled.

Steph's face fell slightly. "You joking, right?" she said, and when I continued to give her a blank look, she sighed. "Tonight." she replied in an aggravated voice, "As in the Presentation Ceremony? Man, Sarah, you're really losing it."

"Oh my goddess, I totally forgot!" I exclaimed, stopping in my tracks. How could I forget something so important!

"Now she remembers!" Steph scoffed.

The Presentation Ceremony is when all children who had come of age, namely, all ten-year-olds of Nadalia, were presented with there weapon of mastery. The village Elders would proclaim each child to become master of a specific weapon. It wasn't just spontaneously either, each weapon presented to the child was well thought out. The Elders visited the training dojo often, to observe each child using different weapons. Based on which weapon the child was best at, and which they seem most comfortable with, the Elders made their choice. After the ceremony, the child was given a personal teacher, with whom they trained with for five years. Their teacher was dependent on the two of them having the same weapon, and the teacher being at least six years older then the student. That meant I was in my first capable year of becoming a teacher.

"I hope I get a student." Steph said as if she had read my mind. "Just think," she stated dreamy look on her face, "What an honour…"

It would be a great honour, I thought, because although we were now capable of becoming teachers, most of the time the Elders didn't give the responsibility to sixteen-year-olds. Those a hundred and fifty to two hundred-years-old were much more capable. I was determined, if I received a student, to be a good teacher. I had received no master when I was presented with my bo, the last Nadalian having received a bo before me died about twenty years ago.

Before I knew it, I was standing in front of grandpa's shop. I noticed a small trickle of people in the streets; the day was beginning for everyone else too.

"Well, this is my stop." I said to Steph, "See you at the Ceremony, then, if not sooner."

She nodded. "Right," she replied, "See ya!" She waved and ran off.

I entered the store, door jingling again as I opened it. "Grandpa, I'm home!" I called as he came running up behind the counter, thinking I was a customer.

"Sarah!" the old, balding man chuckled, "You're here already! I wasn't expecting you for at least another hour."

"Steph got me. She said you wanted me?" I said jumping the counter again.

"Ahh, yes. I didn't think she'd find you so soon. And, well, it was Steph after all."grandpa said, causing me to laugh.

"I was in my usually spot." I chuckled. "Anyway, what did you need me for?"

"Yes. Come on, follow me." The short man said, and after dropping my book and bo on the counter, I followed him into the living room.

"I have something for you, something I've been keeping for you." He told me, fumbling around his neck for what I thought for a moment was his tsuki stone, but it was a key on a chain.

"What is it?" I asked, now curious.

"You'll see," he answered, smiling knowingly. He took the key and went to the desk in the living room corner, unlocking one of the drawers. Looking through the drawer, he muttered, "Now, where is it…Aha!" He suddenly stopped his shuffling and turned around offering a beautiful pendent to me.

I quickly grabbed it, maybe even somewhat rudely. But something about it seemed so…familiar. I examined it closely. On a simple but beautiful silver chain hung the uniquely designed silver pendent. Incrusted in the center was a round, colourless jewel that looked as if it was made of glass. Oddly enough, though it had just come out of the drawer, the gem felt nicely warm. I figured grandpa must have had it out before.

"Grandpa," I said in an unbelieving voice, "This, this is for me?"

Still smiling, he nodded. Then, looking to the floor, he said sadly, "It…it used to belong to your mother."

My heart froze. "It…was moms?" whispered disbelievingly.

Grandpa nodded serenely. "She always wanted to give it to you, when the time was right." Then he smiled, "I figured today was the best, when you could become a teacher! I hope it gives you good luck!"

"Yeah…" I muttered, staring transfixed at the gem. That must had been the reason it had seemed so familiar, I must had seen mom ware it when I was young. I sighed.

The reason I lived with my grandpa was because both of my parents had died when I was three. I couldn't remember them at all, and often spend nights crying when I was young because of it. Though, there was one thing that always nagged me. All my grandpa ever told me was that they had died when I was young, but I wondered how that was possible. Wouldn't their tsuki stones have saved them? The average Nadalian lived about 250 to 300 years because of their stone. It had always caused me to wonder. When I had asked my grandpa about it, he said there had been an accident, and left it at that. That also seemed off, because the only ways to kill a Nadalian was by burning there tsuki stone, or by taking it away from them long enough to kill them.

On the topic of thinking of the unusual, I remembered about my dream, and the book. "Grandpa," I asked lightly, "Have you ever heard of a place called Araylia?"

Grandpa's warm look suddenly became cold, making him look older then ever. "Who told you of that place?" he asked coolly.

"The, the book I took with me today, it spoke of a land of Araylia." I said apprehensively, the look my grandfather was giving me gave me the chills.

He sighed warily, turning his back to me and facing the window. "It is the name of the mainland." he stated simply.

I gasped. "The mainland?" I repeated, taken aback.

"Hmmm." Grandpa replied, looking at the ground.

The mainland. Nadailians did not converse, or in any way contact with anyone from the mainland, or, for that matter, from anywhere else. Nadalia used to be friendly with the mainland, but for reasons unknown to most Nadalians, contact was suddenly severed. The few that did know the reason weren't talking, but hinted that something really bad had happened. So, Nadalians didn't think much of mainlanders. Most thought them traitors.

I put on the almost forgotten pendant dangling in my hand, and with a weak attempt at changing the subject I said, "It fits good."

Grandpa turned around, and gave a small smile. "It does." he agreed. Sighing, he said, "I'll be in my workshop if you need me." He turned, and I watched him leave the room, somewhat disappointed I had brought up such a depressing subject.

Going to the kitchen I grabbed some fruit, went back and grabbed my bo, and left the house once again. I had a lot of things to think about.

The sun was setting, and I hadn't moved all day. I was back in my training area, sitting on the edge of the ledge I had fallen off of hours before, swinging my one leg gently as I thought. Though watching the ocean was calming, I still hadn't gotten very far with my thinking. I sighed, and looked at the pendent I had received earlier that day. If only it could give me the answers I seeked…

Lazily looking over the ocean again, I noticed it was getting dark. I stood up and grabbed my bo, I may as well start heading back home. Suddenly I remembered about the Presentation Ceremony. Though I wasn't really in the mood to go, I would be greatly chastised if I didn't. Watching the setting sun, I figured I should leave now if I wanted to be on time.

I glance once more at the unhelpful ocean, and started running to the village. Stopping suddenly, almost tripping, I took a double take.

There was something ominously floating in the water, being pushed toward the shore by the gentle tide. Squinting, I tried to make out what it was. I gasped.

It was a person! Without a second thought I jumped the ledge, letting go of my bo on the beach and ran into the ice cold water. When I was waist deep I started swimming, hoping I wasn't too late.

Reaching the person I grabbed them and started swimming slowly to shore, mind in a panic. How long had they been in here? It was freezing, and if they had lost there tsuki stone in the water…I might be too late…

Finally being able to stand, I dragged the person on shore and fell into the sand, panting. Looking over at the person I had hopefully saved, I almost choked.

Lying as if sleeping, a young, pale man with short ebony hair I had seen once before early that morning lay. But it couldn't be…that had just been a dream…

Slowly, and apprehensively, I approached the man I knew as Kage, to see if he was alive. Upon approach, I heard the faint rhythmic sound of breathing, and saw his chest slowly rising and falling. Relieved, I tried to force my racing mind to think of what to do next.

I had to get help. Since everyone was at the Presentation Ceremony, if I got him there and called for help, I was certain to get some. It didn't look like he'd wake up any time soon, so I got to my trembling feet, put his arm around my shoulder and pulled him up.

I knew at once that it wouldn't work, he had to be at least fifty pounds heavier then me. I swayed and unceremoniously dropped him. Thinking fast, I picked up my bo and put his arm over my shoulder again. It was a little better. At least I had something to lean on.

Unfortunately in this position I couldn't jump up the small ledge to get to the village faster, I had to go the long way. Dragging Kage, I tried to keep my mind blank, so not to panic. All this just had to be a strange coincidence…

When I finally reached the town, I tried to quicken my pace. "Uhhg…why do you have to be so tall..." I complained to my unconscious companion as his feet dragged on the ground.

I could hear the Ceremony in the distance. One of the Elders was talking. "Young Jason," I heard the Elder's voice echo, "We present you with the bo…"

My mind went blank. I had an apprentice. Giving my head a shake I tried to concentrate at the matter at hand. Dropping Kage again, I called out hoarsely, "Help! Please, someone's hurt! I need help…"

Still panting, I saw many people turn around curiously, some whispering. It was a small wonder why, how could a Nadalian get hurt? Not waiting to see who'd come, I turned quickly and kneeled beside Kage, turning him face up.

It sounded as if everyone in the village ran up behind me. I was shaking Kage. "Wake up," I whispered, feeling tears forming in my eyes, not knowing why, "Please wake up…"

Then, suddenly, with a cough, Kage sat up, spitting out water. I leaned back on my knees, waiting. Once he'd open his eyes I'd know his identity for sure …

Ruby red eyes snapped open as he panted for breath, looking up to see where he was……

How'd you like it? I hope very much. Please leave a review, and just so you know, constructive criticism is much more helpful then flames. Thanks!

1) In case you didn't know, a bo is a fighting stick.