I twisted in my bonds. I could hear fighting going on and could only hope that it would end soon. I was tired. Two years of being in this hell had left me half dead. Dreil had caught me after I had been bitten by some stupid snake. So now here I am. Chained down in the middle on the floor by these heavy chains.
He said I was going to die today as soon as he got back. He had left over three hours ago. For once there were three hours where he wasn't hitting on me and torturing me. Three peaceful hours. At least I had been granted that much.
I shifted as the sounds of fighting drew nearer. The heavy chains were bruising me even worse than I already was and causing my broken bones to shift unpleasantly. Most of my wounds were infected and I hadn't eaten in days. If he didn't kill me than the state I was in would.
There was the sound of a lot of people just down the hall. It sounded like a whole army was out there fighting Dreil and his gang. I could only hope that they were better then he was. I could hear screaming and then more footsteps. There was the jingling of keys in the door and then it was opened and bright light flooded the room.
I hissed in pain at the light and felt a hand on my shoulder. Someone said something and I heard the keys jingle again. A lock clicked and the chains were lifted off me. Without the heavy weight I fell over with a thump.
Someone shook me and was asking me something but I couldn't understand them due to the fact they were talking in a different language then the ones that I knew. I felt them pick me up and cradle me close and I was taken from the room. I hadn't been outside in so long that everything was painful; the air, the light, the sounds, and the smells.
There was lots of shouting and I felt my bearer going up and then I was laid down on something soft and a warm blanket covered me. There was more talking and someone began treating my wounds. I heard hardly any of it. I fell asleep and drifted for the first time in a long time and was well.
I don't know how much time had passed since I was saved. I was warm and safe. I saw many people come and go and some faces began to be familiar but I heard no names. I was too deep into my healing sleep to care. I didn't even realize that almost six months had passed.
When I finally fully awoke the first thing I did was went outside, or at least I tried. I found a library and went in and found a book on their language. It took me a few days before I learned enough of the language to be able to ask for simple things. I found out that I had been saved by a neighboring kingdom that he had been messing with. I was one of twenty that they had saved. I was also the only one that lived.
I didn't care. I had other things to do. I asked about what I could do and they told me that in a few days the king would come to visit me. I had till then to fully learn the language and be able to ask him what I wanted.
It was easy enough to do. I finished the book and was fluent the day before he arrived. It was a good thing to. He didn't know any of the same languages that I did. He came in a large purple cloak and a velvet suit. He wasn't wearing anything to prove he was the king but it was I could still tell.
"How is her progress?" He asked the doctor.
"Well she is fully healed from what I can tell. She's able to eat and hold down solid foods now so that is a plus. I think she can leave at any time." The doctor said looking at his papers of what I assume was about me.
"Has she said anything about the time she spent as Dreil's prisoner?" The king asked softly as if afraid I would break at the mention of his name.
"No. She has said nothing pertaining to that. She has however learned to speak our language. If you want you may talk to her for as long as you like just don't let her wander. She might get lost." He said turning back to more of his paper work.
The king nodded and came over to my bed and pulled up a chair. "Hello. How are you feeling? My name is King Halen. My warriors are the ones that found you. Care to talk to me?" He asked.
"My name is Akumano Torino Enzeru of the Enzeru Clan. The pleasure is all mine. I am grateful to both to both you and your men for saving me. That man was a monster. He was only looking for fun in killing and hurting others. You saved me. I owe you." I said bowing my head.
"There is no need for you to be so formal. Tell me what it is that you need." He said.
"I…" I stopped not knowing how he would take this.
"Yes go on." He said a bit excitedly. "I am all ears."
"I am looking for my brother. His name is Draydarius Doragon Enzeru. We were separated the night our older brother was killed by some strange dark man." I showed him the picture that Dreil had thankfully not harmed during my time with him.
Halen took the picture and stared at it for a long time. "Which brother are you looking for?" He asked.
"My younger brother. My older brother Drake was killed that same night."
"Hmmm." He said. "I haven't seen the young man but for some odd reason the older man in the picture seems familiar. It's almost like I have seen him somewhere before but I can't quite put my finger on it. I am sorry I can't be more of a help to you." He said handing the picture back.
"It's okay." I said tucking away back into my pocket.
"Tell me is there anything else I can do?" He asked.
"I need to get back into shape. May I stay here with you until that time?"
King Halen blinked. "Are you asking to stay at my palace?"
"I have no where else to go. I have no home to call my own. But if it is not possible then I will find some where else." I said standing.
"No. You can stay. I just thought that the Black Angel would have something other than a humble request." He said with a smile.
"Sorry. I didn't know my mercenary record made it to Delra." I replied with a smile.
"I have a proposition for you. I am in need of someone to train my troops a little better. You seem to be just the person I need. In exchange for you staying here I would like you to train my troops. In the mean time you may have anything you need to help you on your quest." He said.
I thought about it. Something didn't sound right but if it would help me find Dray then I would sell my soul to the devil. I looked around for a moment before deciding to answer.
"I guess I can do that. It doesn't seem like an unfair trade to me. At least I will have a roof over my head. And I do owe you after all." I said looking back at him.
"Good. Then I will talk about it more with you first thing in the morning. Traven will show you too your room." He said as he stood and left.
A young man came over and my heart just about stopped. He was so handsome. I was sure that there was an angel standing before me. He looked up at me and gave me a smile.
"Hi. I'm Traven. I'll be your personal aid while you stay here." He said in such a sinful voice.
"I think I'm going to enjoy my stay here." I said which earned me a funny look from him.
I crept my way quietly into the palace at Delra. I was surprised at the lack of security here. Normally the place would be crawling with guards not to mention the new general that I had been hearing stories about. Still I continued my walk across that rafters and checked once more at my map to assure myself I was going the right way.
I was surprised that I had been asked for by name instead of my call sign. Most of us as part of the assassin's cult are known only by our call signs. Mine had always been Doragon. Even when I was first found that was what I was called. I refused to be called by my real name. No one even knew it.
When that man from the palace, Advisor Delyn had asked for an assassin at the meeting and then asked for Draydarius Enzeru I knew what that meant. This mission to kill King Halen was either a trap, a distraction for a theft, or a suicide mission that had a backup plan attached for when I fail.
I was hesitant but the man refused to have anyone else but me take the mission. He said my reward would be more than I can ever imagine. So that explains why I am here, sitting on a rafter in this tacky palace looking for the right hallway. Really who needs seventeen wings, nine floors, and over two thousand rooms? Not me.
I duck into some shadows when I hear some voices increasing in volume.
"If you do your job right then we have nothing to worry about correct?" Came a voice that I recognize as the advisor's voice.
Maybe this could be of use to me. It always helps to know what is going on.
"I still don't think it's safe. The King has had too many threats over the past month. Having a ceremony for something that no one has even celebrated in years seems kinda risky to me."
I almost fell off my rafter. That was a woman's voice. And for some reason it sounded familiar. Maybe she was another advisor or council member or something.
"I see that you have been doing your homework. You aren't even from this country and yet you seem to know the customs better than any of us." Advisor Delyn seemed rather amused for some odd reason. His footsteps stopped meaning he had stopped.
"You and your king as well as this county have been kind to me. Without your help I would have died. Being respectful and knowing laws, customs, histories and protocol seems to be the least I can do." Well not a council member or advisor then.
"My dear you simply have a thirst for knowledge that cannot be quenched. King Halen was thrilled when he found out you read almost every book in the library here in the royal palace within the first three months of your stay. I am still amazed at how fast you learned our language."
So she was well learned and had a need for knowledge? Must be a scholar then.
"I only did what I had to do in order to survive. Now back to the subject at hand that you are avoiding, Advisor Delyn. I don't see why you both are so insistent on having this ceremony when it hasn't been done in over a thousand years. Not to mention all the death threats. Advisor I find this advent to be suicide. I can't always be around to protect His Royal Majesty. He shouldn't have so little guards on duty today. I mean having on a third of them here today? And then he blatantly throws himself on a silver platter like this I can't help but think that there is another meaning behind this entire thing. It seems almost like this whole thing is nothing more than a cover up for something much bigger."
Well is seems someone is noticing the lack of guards besides me. I knew things were kinda lax but having only a third of them on duty? Well I guess the advisor must have really planned this whole thing out. Well it makes my job easier so I won't complain.
"The king is not 'throwing himself on a silver platter' as you so crudely put it. The King merely wishes to be closer to his subjects. Beside what does it matter if only a third of the guards are here? We have you." His footsteps began again.
"I can't always be there to protect him!" She yelled after him.
"I know that. But as long as you are here, nothing can harm us, my dear General." Came the amused voice that turned into laughter and faded away.
There was angry growl and the woman turned and stalked off. I couldn't believe what I had just heard. The advisor was talking to the General and to top it off the General was a female! Well at least I knew who the body guard for the king would be today. I followed the General to the courtyard and sat up almost right above her.
This had to be timed just right or else I could end up being dead. I waited until the ceremony was half over and then the king stood. Knowing it was now or never, I leapt from my hiding place with my sword drawn.
There was a harsh ring of metal on metal as the General's twin swords blocked my blow. I flipped backwards with a growl and checked my location. Center courtyard near third exit. It was then I noticed that the guards were sealing them off.
I cursed myself for being stupid and went for the nearest door that was still open. I would have made unnoticed too if some woman hadn't screamed at the sight of my blade. I made a run for the door only to see the guards closing it.
I cursed myself again for being so stupid as to come here without having my climbing gear. I knew it was reckless but I was going for a fast kill. There was no way that I would be getting out of this one alive. There were guards at every exit not to mention civilians who were cowering in fear at my black clad form with various weapons.
Speaking of the guards, they were all blocking the exits but making no move to attack me. That could mean one of three things. They were waiting for me to make a move, were too afraid to hurt the people, or waiting for backup to come and finish me off. Well at least I was still alive. For now.
I looked around and noticed that people were moving away from me and I had a clear shot at the king. With a spilt second I made my decision and dove for the king. If I was going to die I might as well take the king with me and complete my job.
I readied my weapon again and charged. I was blocked once more by a pair of twin double edged swords. I flipped backwards to avoid a blow and leapt for the king again and once more I was blocked.
I was beginning to wonder if I was going to be killed or if I was being toyed with. I let out a roar and prepared to attack the general directly figuring that the only way to get to the king was through the General. I pulled out my short sword and got ready.
"I knew that something was up." Said the General, in a scolding tone.
I froze. I knew that tone of voice. It floated up from my memories like a ghost come back to haunt me. For the first time since I started my mission, I looked the General in the face instead of out of the corner of my eye and dropped both of my weapons in shock. It was just not possible. I had seen her die.
"Well are you going to fight or are you going to stare at me?" She asked.
"Akumano Torino Enzeru?" I asked still not wanting to believe it was her.
Her blue eyes flashed. "Who are you that you know my full name?" Her swords were raised into the fighting style of our family.
I pulled off my mask and took a step towards her. "'Kuma. It's me. Draydarius Doragon Enzeru."
Now it was her turn to drop her blades. "Dray?" She asked in shock. "Is that really you?"
"Yeah." I whispered.
The king stood and let out a laugh. "If you two are done fighting and the pleasantries are over then let's have a feast to honor the reunion of the two long lost siblings!"
Akuma let out a roar as she charged Faelden. He laughed at her pathetic attempt to try to defeat him, and then I noticed what she held in her hand. The Crystal Gem of Purity. She was channeling what energy she had left into the gem and was using it as a weapon. Dray must have noticed to for I saw him move out of the corner of my eye and as by the words of my Master I had to stop it. He struggled as I snatched him and held him close to my chest as I watched our sister rush to what I knew was going to be her death.
She landed a weak blow with her sword that hit his arm and distracted him long enough to slam the gem to his chest. Faelden released a scream of rage and backhanded Akuma. I didn't see where she landed due to the bright light that filled the top of the Dref Sacrificial Alter. Without even having to fight the spell I shielded my little brother with my body from the explosion that suddenly rocked the whole temple. I saw some of the soldiers dive off to the side and those that weren't lucky enough to do that get thrown from the mile high temple. I could hear their screams of shock and disbelief as they went over the side and then everything went dark.
I awoke to a find that a little time had passed. Without really thinking I sat up and looked down into the green eyes of my younger brother, who was still alive and whole. It was then I noticed what was in his hand. My collar. That same collar that Faelden had placed around my neck the night he tired to kill us all and failed. I reached up and felt my neck and let out a sigh of relief before I felt a tap on my shoulder. Ren was standing there looking grim. He pointed behind me to a group of soldiers.
It was then that I realized why I was laying here free. Akuma. I jumped up and ran over to the group. They parted like water to reveal a young man helping her drink from a canteen. I was beginning to feel relief until I realized why he wasn't trying to heal her. Faelden's dark blade Sin Harvester was embedded into her chest coming in at an angle from her left side. The side he had struck her on before he had been destroyed. I took a few slow steps towards her and it was the she noticed me.
"Drake…I did it…" She said and blood came bubbling out of the corner of her mouth. The young man wiped it away and offered her another drink which she refused. "Come here."
I moved towards her and nothing seemed to be real. I was expecting to wake up at any moment and find that this day had been a dream. That she wasn't laying here dying because of me. Dying because I was supposed to be a sacrifice for the Demon Lord Drepanon and she didn't want to lose me twice. I could feel a movement behind me and knew it could only be Dray. I knelt next to her and took the place of the young man who went to stand at her feet.
She struggled to reach a hand up to my neck. "Your collar…" Came the harsh wheeze.
"Yeah. He's dead so the spell's gone." I called my healing magic and started to will it into her body.
"Stop it." She whispered. "It won't help. Traven has been trying since he woke."
The young man standing at her feet took in a breath and I realized that he was holding back his tears. Then I recognized the Enzeru crest on a bracelet around his wrist. He was her lover. No wonder he was upset. Gods and Goddesses I had missed so much while being Faelden's slave. I looked back to my sister.
"Maybe the Goddesses can heal you." Dray said. He started to call but a hand stopped him.
"Please. Let…it go…" More blood rose up in her throat and sent her into a coughing fit.
"I can't lose you." I confessed. "I just got you back. Both of you. Please. Don't do this to me 'Kuma."
"Drake…We tried that too…"
"No…Please just let us try again." I pleaded.
"I am so happy right now." She whispered. Her blue eyes were sparkling despite the pain she must have been in. "The only wish I even made….Was to be with—" She coughed and even more blood came up.
Dray and I each grabbed an arm and moved her so she was leaning against the both of us. It seemed to ease her breathing and her pain a little which was good. I didn't like to see her in pain.
"Sorry. My wish was to be with the both of you at least once more….Before I died." She gave us a bloody smile. "I am thankful I got…My wish."
"I never stopped believing that we would see each other again." Dray said softly. "And once we get you back to Delra then we can have that party—" His voice broke and tears filled his eyes. "That party you wanted when we all got back together."
"I'll have to…cancel this time Dray." She turned to look at me. "Take care of…"
"I will." I promised knowing what she was going to ask and also knowing that she was slipping farther away from us every second.
"And just so you know….I never stopped praying…..That I would….Find you both….Safe and sound….I….Love you…..Both…So….much…"
"We love you too." Dray and I whispered at the same time. We bowed our heads so she wouldn't see our tears but then froze when she let out a long breath. We looked up at each other in horror and then down to her.
Akuma's black hair was fluttering softly in the barely there breeze making the red and silver dance. There was a smile on her face. The first once I had seen since she was small since the woman I knew her as rarely smiled. There was a small trail of blood running down to her chin from the corner of her mouth but it was her eyes that told the truth. Her blue eyes that held so much emotion in them were now nothing more than blank orbs staring at nothing.
"'Kuma?" I whispered, hoping against hope that she was playing.
"'Kuma?" Dray whispered a bit louder when she didn't respond.
I felt a hand on my shoulder and recognized the signet ring on my lover Ren. I barely notice that the young man, Traven, had a hand on Dray's shoulder as well even though tears were pouring from his eyes. Ren shook me a little.
"Come. Let us bear her home on our shields."
I couldn't respond. Not when she was laying here her blank eyes open and that smile on her face. I bowed my head and let go of my magic. Ren stepped back as whirlwinds picked up around the three of us. I barely notice that fire joined my wind meaning that Dray was helping me.
We held her and cried hoping and praying that is was a dream but her pale skin and cooling body were chilling reminders that it was real. I wanted so bad to take her place. To hear her laugh, to see her smile, to hold her and have her hold me back but it wasn't going to happen. Even Enzeru magic had its limits and bring people back from the dead was one of them.
"Drake! Stop it! You're going to hurt someone!" Came Ren's voice.
I looked up to find that the wind had picked up to a strong gusting wind that had people ducking their heads. But I had stopped my magic a while ago. I leaned forward, as did Dray to protect Akuma's body. We had failed to protect her in life; we weren't going to fail her in death too. Then as suddenly as it picked up it had stopped.
"It seems that we failed when we were needed the most Sister."
"Yes. This time I fear the damage may be too great to correct."
I looked up to find the Twin Goddesses hovering over us. The Light Goddess with her black angel wing and white hair and gold eyes and The Dark Goddess with her white demon wing and black hair and silver eyes.
"Maybe we can find our redemption with the souls of the siblings of the royal line." Said the Dark Goddess her white dress stark against her dark tan skin.
"They are in mourning. This is our fault. We should never have left them. Their burden was ours to bear." Replied the Light Goddess, her black dress making her pale skin seem even paler.
"I blame you!" I screamed at them. "This is all your fault! Where were you when we needed you?!"
"Drake stop it!" Dray cried. "It won't bring Akuma back." He said dissolving into tears.
I nodded suddenly feeling numb. "I want her back."
"We are sorry that we abandoned you at a time when you needed us the most." Said the Dark Goddess. "You have every right to blame us."
"But please allow us to try and repair that damage done so that you may take your rightful place as the rulers of Escantia." Said the Light Goddess.
"It's not worth it." I said turning to look into Akuma's lifeless eyes. "Not without our sister by our side. None of this is worth it."
"We would rather return to the Unending Skies than remain here without her." Dray whispered as he raised his hand to her face and her closed her eyes.
"Then let us heal her." Came the two voices of the Goddesses. "Let us return to her the mortal coil that bound her here."