Chapter 9

Chloe

Shino Aphiry City

"You know who they remind me of?" Owen said nodding towards an old Aphiry couple arguing about who knows what. "They remind me of Johnithyn and Joanna. Always together, always arguing, maybe even holding hands..." Owen continued as I watched Joanna's face get red. "They're kissing..." Owen turned to Johnithyn with a huge grin on his face. "Have you two kissed already?"

There was no warning before Joanna began attacking Owen quite recklessly. Owen made sure no attack destroyed or hurt anything as he fled from her.

"She's cursing," I said surprised.

"I know," Johnithyn was watching her. "She's like that."


"I hope you two have settled down because I am sending the four of you out to see a village not too far away. I have been led to believe it was attacked. No word yet as to if it was destroyed or not." Elder Ed stated.

"Why us?" Joanna asked, obviously not settled down for she was still quite touchy.

"You four are now among the most experienced, and willing fighters having been trained by Elders. That and Owen has experience outside the city where most of the aphiry population won't even step outside of the city's boundary."

"This is the longest period of peace this race has seen since 'the time of dragons', which is a myth," the Elder said. "Since we are superior to most and are very different we don't want to provoke anything that will cause harm to anyone."

"Where is it, we'll be back by nightfall." Joanna took the challenge and the praise then conjured her fire wings.

Elder Ed pointed toward the forest. "Follow the smoke."

She took off in the direction he pointed with Johnithyn following close behind in her fiery wake.

Owen started walking, a small grin on his lips.

"Owen?" I queried, intrigued by his grin.

"Go, I will... catch up."

Joanna

Shino Forest

"Now how in the world did you beat me?" I landed beside Owen in a small clearing near the smoke. "Ed brought you here didn't he?"

"Nope," Owen's voice came from behind me, the Owen in front of me disappeared. It was one of his 'tame' clones.

"You're still faster than me," he admitted, "but I figured that trick out yesterday. It just takes a while."

"So how did your clone beat me?"

"He had a head start. I noticed the smoke about an hour ago." He shrugged, a devilish grin on his face.

Johnithyn landed beside me just before Chloe gently landed beside Owen. She was out of breath and judging by the way she quickly went and faced Owen I'd say she was mad about something.

"Don't do that!" She half yelled at him.

"Do what?" he asked confused.

"You shut your powers from me!" she clarified in a loud voice.

"No, not exactly," he shook his head.

"Yesterday you disappeared nine times!" She insisted.

"Yesterday I taught myself how to teleport myself using a clone," he replied with a mad grin.

Disappeared nine times? Shut your powers from- "Wait a minute," I interrupted, looking from Chloe to Owen. They stopped arguing. "You can feel Owen's power?" I asked Chloe.

Chloe nodded.

Why can't I? Is Chloe that powerful? Mother of Darkness.

Now that Chloe had settled down, Owen moved aside some branches that were blocking the view of whatever was smoking.

"Alright, let us see what happened here," he said curiously as he opened the way so that everyone could see.

"What? Where is everything?" There was just a really large open area, no houses, no village, the smoke?I looked up and smoke was coming out of the sky just below the tree line.

"It's a sight shield," Chloe reached forward and her hand disappeared. "A sight shield created by many."

"Or by someone powerful," Owen proclaimed, and walked into the large area. Disappearing before our very eyes.

We quickly followed.

Most of the buildings were intact and made of logs which was not too common in Aphiry City. The building the smoke was coming from was burned to the ground. Humanoid creatures were scattered around all over the place and covered in blood. All unmoving with makeshift weapons lying beside almost each one of them. Be it young or adult, one thing I was sure of. They were all dead.

"I'm glad she wasn't here," Owen whispered to himself before stepping forward.

I stopped Chloe who was about to trail behind him. "Was this-?"

She nodded, she knew my question. This was Owen's home.

"They're elves!" Johnithyn called out from one of the corpses. "Their ears are pointed like mine and Owen's."

Owen had walked up to one of the younger corspses. He looked upon it without any expression. He must not have been friends with that particular elf. "Help me-"

We all turned his head to a sudden faint noise come from one of the houses.

A dark creature stepped out of a nearby building. He looked like an aphiry, just everything about him was dark instead of white. His skin was dark, his hair was dark, and he had very dark, almost black wings. The eerie black smoke surrounding him hid most of his figure but he looked terribly injured.

A yami aphiry, the first I've ever seen.

He laughed and lifted up a girl, she looked small and powerless his grasp. Her arms were at her sides, she wasn't moving.

"This one knew who I was looking for, stupid girl didn't tell me where she was." He threw her to the side like a lifeless little doll. I just watched as she crashed into the ground. It was clear she had lost her life like all of the others.

"I read about this kind of power," Johnithyn said. "It's called ghost. He can't be hit with normal magic." Johnithyn looked over at Owen. "Owen, how do you kill a ghost?"

"I don't know..." Owen said, his face grim. He was looking at the little girl without recognition as well but I could just imagine what he'd do if that was the friend he left behind.

Owen suddenly sight shielded, taking the image of an elf. She had long dark green hair in a ponytail. She was very small but I imagine very fierce. Her cloak was of this forest and the bow and arrows on her back were handmade. Owen knew her well, the detail was flawless.

"That's her!" The ghost advanced.

Owen brought down the sight shield and conjured two blades. "Where did you last see her?" he asked the ghost.

"She and her wolves ran into us on the outskirts of this damned forest. I'll kill her, I'll destroy them!" He rushed forward and attacked Owen.

Owen's blades flashed and an instant later the ghost vanished. He turned around, blades still in hand. "I tried," he said and dropped to his knees. Chloe caught him as he fell.

A presence appeared behind me and Johnithyn blocked a killing strike. I swung my conjured weapon right through him and the ghost vanished again.

"Chloe!" I called out just before the ghost attacked her.

Chloe lifted a hand and caught the ghost's conjured sword. I watched as ice traveled up the sword and then the ghost's arms, he can't get away. Her ice changed from the normal colorless to a darker colour, slowly turning black like the ghost's power.

"Joanna, I can't feel her anymore," Johnithyn murmured.

"I can't either," What is she doing?

The ghost looked at Chloe frightened. "You're her! You are the Mother of Darkness!"

Chloe conjured an ice sword, the sword itself was black and I could even see dark vapor coming off of it. She shook her head. "No, but I once knew who she wass," Her voice had changed again, she was hissing her words. She positioned the blade above her head. "If I musst have a title in the darkness, I will be called ssisster." She swung her sword and the ghost shattered into black shards.

"Go Chloe," Johnithyn cheered. "I'm leaving the ghost problems to you from now... on..." he stopped and stared as I was.

Chloe's eyes were different, they were black.

Jasmine

Yami Aphiry City

I laid my eyes on the giant. Tank had a huge belly as if he had been eating way too much, he doesn't look very healthy at all. He had wings but I doubted that he could fly, how do I even approach him?

I walked towards him. He lifted his hand and taunted me to make the first move.

"Alright buddy, but you will regret it."I thought about when I attacked the jailer. Totally unmoving, solid stone. If I go at him at a run maybe I can make him move.

I readied myself and took off towards him, running as fast as I could I only putting a little power into my fist. When I got close he stomped on the ground the same time I leaped at him.

He totally didn't expect me to jump, I bashed my fist into his head with a direct hit.

I jumped off of him landing a little ways away and watched him stumble backwards and fall right onto his butt.

This guy is almost too easy, but I'm still not giving him a chance. I smiled beforeI ran at him again, still with only a little power behind my attack. He smashed the ground in front of him and the entire arena rumbled before the ground started to crack open. I jumped at him again, over a large crack in the earth. He brought his large arms up to block his head. I hit his block and he threw me away with tremendous power. There was no way I was going to stop myself midair so I braced for a hard landing against a barrier I was sure the aphiries would have up, but I quickly found that there wasn't any. I sailed right through and landed amongst the crowd.

When I got up, all the aphiries surrounding me were out of their seats with their own powers at the ready. I must be a threat even to them. My killing two aphiries might have them on total alert.

"I'm not going to escape, this guy is going down!" I took a second to look around and spotted one young aphiry. He had power similar to my own, only I could see that his power was covering his entire body, most of it was in his hands as to attack or possibly block.

You gave me an idea, thank you.I nodded to him, he looked surprised and a little frightened by my acknowledgement. I jumped back into the arena flipping, turning and landing on all fours.

Here we go again.

Tank looked rather disappointed as if I was supposed to try to escape and leave him with a default win. He was standing now and he decided to smash the ground, again. Now his plan was starting to make sense because the ground really opened up this time, I had to leap to an area, he left only about an eighth of the arena to fight in, and it was all in his area except for this one little spot I made it to. I looked down into the nothingness, I figured I wouldn't be able to see the bottom. I looked over at Tank again and he taunted me for the second time.

You know, I think I just got lazy.I sat down and waved at him to make the next move.

He looked confused.

I shrugged, unconcerned.

We ended up just taunting each other until the announcer started talking. "The only ties we get are when both players die. Either one of you makes a move or you both die."

Tank looked at me and I shrugged, I'm not going to move.

"You get two minutes before I come down there," he let off some power, it emanated strongly, just to intimidate us.I wonder what kind of power he has, and what are you going to do about it? I looked at Tank who was walking right to the edge of his creation. He lifted his arms and smashed the inside. The little piece I was sitting on made a sudden move.

Shit. I jumped straight into the wall and leaped off the wall landing right behind Tank who smashed the ground again in my former direction. Last chance, I ran towards him and leaped low, power covering my entire being. Take this!I must have been too fast for him for he took a hard hit to the stomach.

I felt all that power get absorbed and it rebounded right back to me, sending me straight for the crowd… again. This time I went straight through the crowd, through the seating and outside of the arena into the city. A hard landing alerted the surrounding aphiries and they immediately circled me, ready to kill. I didn't give them a chance. I quickly fortified the power around my stomach and jumped on the wall. Climbed straight up the side of the arena. A couple aphiries just moved out of my way before I jumped back into the crowd and jumped again straight for Tank. He had his arms lifted into the air as if he had won.

This is the last of my power!I pushed the rest of my power into one fist with me falling towards him. Gravity took me right to him, I hit his head at full force. I felt it as my fist went right into the side of his head. Blood spattered onto my face and arm, a bit got into my mouth and I tasted the foulness of Tank's blood.

I jumped off of him as he fell into his own giant hole in the ground. I spit to try and get rid of the taste of blood, that was the only sound that rang through the arena. Everyone was silent.

Of course, I always get the silen-

All of a sudden everyone began cheering and howling and then they all started to chant 'Hell Cat' over and over.

I realized I was stuck on this little piece of earth,\ don't even want to try jumping out of here. I sat down and waited, recovered as much as possible before a couple of earth movers moved all the earth back. I walked out of the arena as everyone still chanted my name. I smiled. Hell Cat is back!

Chloe

Shino Forest, Hidden Village

"Ok, so the ones 'touched by darkness' all have weird powers and there is no telling who has been touched until they show 'their darkness'," Johnithyn repeated what I had just told them. "That is some very confusing stuff, I'm just glad your eyes are back to normal."

"Where did you learn about all that anyway?" Joanna asked.

"The Mother of Darkness found me, she taught me how to control the darkness and that if I was ever to lose control, the darkness would consume me," I looked up. "The darkness is cursed. The more the power is used the less control I will have and the more I use it the more powerful I become. That was the first time I used the power without her help."

"I imagine it could get addicting," Johnithyn said. "The Mother of Darkness. Artimys, I wonder what she's like. You really met her?"

I nodded.

"What was she like?" Owen spoke for the first time in hours. We had cleaned the up the village and buried the dead. Owen quietly worked alongside us the whole time. He could probably name most of found no one left alive.

"Artimys was different. The way she taught me was different. She'd say something that made no sense but somehow it did because it always worked. I tried what she said to do and it just worked. You don't forget a lesson like that.

"She was also very kind, in her own way. During breaks, she told stories. The way she told them was very weird at first but I got used to her storytelling. I only remember bits and pieces so I won't be able to tell them like she did."

"I'll be back." Owen got up and wandered off.

"I don't know about you two but we want our beds." Johnithyn and Joanna got up.

"Race you," Joanna's fire wings lit up the entire area before she took off.

"That's so not fair," Johnithyn took off after her.

I got up too and went to find Owen. I followed the direction he'd headed in but before long he called to me.

"I'm here, I didn't go far." He was in a tree, sitting calmly on a limb. "I remember... I remember something so white it glowed in the dark. I remember power from a weapon, a bow. That is the only thing I remember before being alone, before I was feared by an entire village, before I was hit with stones and called a monster... before I met her..."

"The girl you showed the ghost."

"She lived in this village with me, I can still feel her presence here. She must have become quite powerful herself."

"Who was she?"

"I didn't really know, I knew she was a friend. She stood beside me while everyone else hated me. She herself was hated for protecting me. I didn't realize that only half of the power I felt was mine. The power I have now is half of what I originally thought. Jasmine had just as much power I had, but I didn't realize until after I left. I should not have left her," he looked back at the burned down building. "I'm glad that wasn't her doing."

He thought it was her?

"After my battle with sensei, after my power was nearly drained, I found my mother's bow. I felt the bow's presence after so long, it was terribly faint but there was no mistake." Owen jumped down from the tree and landed in front of me. He looked into my eyes. I felt a little heat rush to my cheeks as I looked back at him. "Artimys left it with you, Sister of Darkness."

Owen

Leaving Shino Aphiry City

I breathed in and breathed out gently. Power formed around my hand. The combination of earth, fire and water created the image of a flower. The petals were different colours, it was obvious what powers I used.

Joanna and Johnithyn were itching to leave. To kill time waiting for me they were playing around, hollering and throwing powers all over the place. I wouldn't be surprised if they've exhausted themselves before we step foot out of the city.

I looked up, the clouds were ever so slowly moving across the bright blue sky. Much like a couple of days ago when we found the elf village in ruin.

Jasmine. The flower in my hand fell apart. I couldn't help but think of her. She was like a sister to me, she was my guardian, my friend. She was family. She is family.

"Owen," Chloe tapped my shoulder.

I turned and took in the sight of her.

Dressed in a cloak of the surrounding forest, the four beautiful wings on her back matched the crystal blue of her eyes and her icy powers. Every time I see her I can't look away. I feel as if she could easily hypnotize me and take away all of my worries with a single swipe of her pale hand.

I spotted something else then, she wore a water skin underneath her cloak.

"I'm going with you," she said. "Only I will be coming for an alternative reason. I must find the Mother of Darkness."

"No aphiry should leave the city," I repeated Elder Ed's words from yesterday.

She changed, a sight shield went up around her. The wings on her back disappeared, her eyes changed to a dark blue colour and ever her very pale skin changed to a tan. She was human no matter how you viewed her now.

"Elder Ed taught me what to change. I can go."

I looked up towards the castle. Elder Ed was not going to say goodbye, but his absence was like a goodbye.

"Then let us go, I don't want to make Jasmine wait any longer than she has to."

"Finally!" Joanna joined us, Johnithyn took to her side.

Chloe wants to find the Mother of Darkness, my mother. I wouldn't mind seeing her either.

I stepped out of Shino Aphiry City once again and into the forest. This time, we won't be coming back.