Last Hero Preview
Chapter 1 Awakening
Blue, green and pink melted together and nothing seemed to make sense. He blinked his eyes hard several times trying to focus on the haze of colors. His eyes felt sore and focusing them proved difficult. Soon enough however, the colors began to separate in blotches, then distinct patterns. He blinked hard again, finally making out the sky with a plain of thick grass beneath being dotted with a myriad of daisies. The place was new to him having no recollection of it. He tried to move, only to find himself struck with infant like strength in a body too large for his muscles. He fought for composure and attempted to remember how he made it here . . . nothing.
A deep fear crawled through him as he wondered aloud, "Who am I?"
The words came out naturally, without any need to contemplate how to say them. He realized that despite his lapse in memory he must retain some basic knowledge. He decided against meditating on his basic knowledge as he felt the urge to move again. It was an insatiable, an almost painful motive to stop being still; yet he had no idea what drove him to feel as though he could move.
Attempting to move this time caused a sudden burst of strength to fill his body, terrifying him momentarily. Although painful at first, he felt joy as he watched his arm rise into the air. He could move. Strength still flowing, the man slowly sat up and took in his surroundings - an endless field of pink flowers; a stain among the otherwise barren grassland stretching beyond imagination.
With great care he brought himself to his knees and wobbled to his feet. Having lost his balance, he again took in the scenery, perched on his stomach. Unwilling to give up he tried once more, creating a wide base with his knees. The man wobbled to his feet, leaning forward with arms stretched out over head, as if to pull himself up. Slowly he rose, fighting the gravity that seemed to laugh at his attempt to defy it. However, gravity lost this fight, for he stood proudly, being fully erect.
Looking about he noticed only one thing, "The flowers. . .where did they go?" He asked the gentle breeze, which carried no response.
The plain was now empty, just grass dominating every inch of its territory: it was so thick that the dirt it was sewn in saw no light. Moving his foot forward in a way that could hardly be considered a baby step the man moved through the field. There had to be other people about, I could not possibly be the only one around. He thought to himself as he took bigger and faster steps. In the back reaches of his consciousness he wondered what would stir such a thought. Likewise the thought also stirred within an emotion of loneliness.
Moving through the grass seemed futile; there was nothing over the horizon and no tracks laid behind. He looked up for the sun, trying to think where he had last seen its position. Alas, he had not taken note of such a thing, and now he noted that the sky was as void as the field he stood in. There was in fact no sun, no source of light.
The man glanced down at his feet finding he had no shadow, as the whole place appeared to be evenly lit. Not even the underside of his foot cast any darkness upon the grass. He tried to shrug it off as he continued walking.
Contemplating, he tried to remember who he was and how he managed to make it to this place. The attempt was met with a sharp spike of subduing pain. He gripped the sides of his head and screamed at the sky as faint images danced in his mind. Though the images were indistinguishable, he felt as though they were not his memories.
The pain subsided, bringing nothing but a panting man face down in the grass. He slowly made it to his feet again, warily continuing onward; being purposefully sure to keep his mind clear.
Padding through the sea of green the man now thought about how easy it was to walk. He nearly laughed out loud at how he had struggled so hard before. Had enough time passed that such an early memory would seem so distant to him? He fought, trying to think about how long he had been traversing the strange land. Hours perhaps? Maybe a day or two… could not have been more than a week. These thoughts and more made him wonder if time was just in his head.
"SLAE!" A voice boomed from all directions.
The man spun around, trying to find the source, but all he could see was grass; the endlessness of it was sickening. He tired of being alone, having no memory of anyone, including himself; he was feeling lonelier now than ever.
"Hello?! Who are you?!" He managed at the top of his lungs, but no one responded.
He thought hard on the word ‘slae’. It seemed odd and yet for reasons he could not explain, the word was familiar to him. Not only familiar, but as if it was a part of him. It was as if the word ‘slae’ belonged to him. He fought for answers on how could he know that? But he did not want to cause himself pain again and breathed it away.
"SLAE!" Again it rang, this time shaking the very sky.
With that, he made up his mind. Until he learned otherwise, he would carry the word as his name.
Slae, spinning about, screamed, "I'm here! I'm here!"
No one was to be found, but before Slae could take another step a voice whispered in his ear, "Come to me." The voice was that of a female, and the warmth of her breath was felt on his ear.
Her voice was soothing and an aroma overwhelmed his senses for he had never smelled anything in his short memory as sweet. He turned to meet the voice of the lady, curious to know who she was. Yet his eyes did not find what he was seeking as he stumbled backwards at what his eyes took in.
Before him was a vast ocean; as endless as the plains themselves. Slae curled his toes anxiously and felt a new sensation against his feet; a beach of shimmering snow-white sand. It was unreal in appearance and poured down a slope from the ocean of grass into an ocean of water.
The ocean's sky was as different from the sky over the plains as black is to white. Clouds churned and fought for control blotting out the peaceful back drop of an otherwise blue sky. Along with the turmoil of the sky came lightning that pierced the water's surface with thunder so great it caused the ground to tremble.
Large waves rolled from afar yet the shore remained calm. Slae, stepping toward the waters, caught a glimpse of his reflection; a tall figure of grayish tanned skin was before him. His eyes were large and nearly solid black; the only thing darker was his hair that streamed down his bare back. He was naked, however unbothered, for he had no recollection of ever being clothed before. It almost felt natural to him. His muscles were wound tight about his frame and his body was not only bare of clothing but of hair as well.
Slae moved in toward his image, his mouth gaping. Something seemed out of place, but he could not quite put his finger on it. This was what he looked like, and though he had no memory of it, there something else that was odd.
"Who am I? Please you know who I am…" He sounded desperate, “T-Tell me . . . wh-who I am." Slae stammered, at first, then shouted at his reflection, "Tell me who I am!"
He brought his fist against the water and wrenched back his aching hand in surprise. Despite the loose retention of the surface it felt solid when he struck it. So solid in fact that not even a ripple was formed.
Peering into the water again he gaped in awe, how can it be solid? Then a thought of realization hit him - his teeth were missing. Just a solid black void filled his mouth for a moment and then a light formed therein. The light was great among the darkness, growing in size.
Slae leaned forward, his heart pounding, quickly recognizing the light as a ball of dazzling pure-white flame. He tried to pull away only to find his own reflection gripping him with a great strength. Twisting hard Slae struggled to escape without success. His image arose, breaking from the water; its mouth wide open, displaying the great ball of fire. Slae tried to yell in panic but his voice was struck silent. The reflection closed the distance as Slae squirmed violently. He kicked and flailed his arms, frantic to break free.
In a flash Slae was face first in the waters, seeing no ocean floor; just visions of unimaginable death and destruction. Flopping to his back, drenched, he crawled backwards to the grass, however the grass prodded his back and were sharp against his hands. Turning about he peered at silver spikes taking place of the once lush green plants. Then a sharpening paid drove up his spine in frenzy while images danced in his head. Like before, all the colors melted into one as he succumbed to darkness and then nothing.
Light; bright and glorious flooded over everything; even through the tightly closed lids of Slae’s eyes.
"Look upon me," were the words of a heavenly and familiar voice.
Slae opened his eyes and did just that, finding the light to be even brighter than he imagined, and yet it was not blinding. Instead the light was pleasant to look upon, and as his eyes adjusted to see past the light, there was found an angel of great splendor. Her long golden hair hung about her, moving gently with the ocean breeze. Her eyes were piercing and blazing-blue, forcing all darkness to fall before her.
She would be as naked as Slae if not for white cloths floating about her, never touching her glowing skin. Great transparent wings that shimmered many colors, stretched as far as Slae could see; hugging the ocean that surrounded the tiny island.
The island was made of white sand and centered with blood red bricks that encompassed the Angel. She sat in grandeur upon a throne of air that yielded several inches between her and the ground. Slae stared at the bricks, for he could not look into her eyes. They burned something deep within and created shame.
"Hello Slae," The Angel began, "My name is Quweaign, and I am the Angel of Light. I have brought you here to me, which was not easy."
Slae struggled for his words, "Whe-where is. . .here?"
The Angel smiled and gently hushed Slae, "Come and kneel before me, for now is the time in which I awaken your mind."
Slae felt heavy as he moved; the light feeling heavier the more he moved into it. Struggling against his own will to fall and bury his face in his hands, he slowly worked his feet onto the cool brick. Tortured and humbled he now stood inches from the heavenly host, awaiting her move.
He looked up for a moment and gazed into her eyes. They were large and beautiful, but this was far from his mind. Time had stopped, his skin tingled, and he drowned in her brilliance. Nothing mattered for a moment. Then her hand touched his shoulder. It was strong, despite her feminine physique, and pressed him to kneel. He held her gaze as she placed the same hand on his head.
Slae could hardly keep his composure as a strange sensation overwhelmed him and the air seemed to thicken with each flash of lightning. He could feel knowledge he did not have before, yet none of it appeared to be of personal memory. Unexpectedly a powerful burst of energy ruptured from the great Angel's hand, sending Slae into the water rimming the island. The Angel remained unharmed; however, the shock of it caused Quweaign to tremble slightly only to regain her complete serenity a moment later.
Slae, dripping with water, dropped to his hands and knees before her and spoke humbly, "Angel of Light, I know things now that I did not before, but I still do not know who I am."
Sighing, the Angel looked sorry, "Slae, I seem unable to fully restore your mind. It does bring me pain to say that I cannot tell you who you are, for I do not fully know." She looked down in thought then back at Slae, who was in great despair.
He was a bit shocked by her response and queried, "How can you not know?"
She responded, "I found a stray child on a planet whose name is Slae. I know, because that is what you told me."
"Do you not know anything else about me?"
The Angel frowned, "I shall unveil to you the things I know but first I shall show you something of great importance."
Slae stood and stepped forward, his mind struggling to comprehend why she would torment him further with this delay. He wanted to command her to tell him now, but knew it would be futile. Being lost in thought and in self pity, Slae had not realized how close he was until the Angel’s hand rested upon his shoulder. Having felt her hand it caused him to look up at her.
"I wish for you to see a couple of items at my disposal." She pointed to something Slae had not noticed before.
It was a twisted and gnarled rod of black wood that grew into a hand. The hand was blacker than the wood and its nails jagged like broken shards of glass. Within the palm of this hand was a large crystal ball with three distinct gray smoke-like swirls.
"These are the ethereal spirits of great darkness and evil contained within this crystal." She paused, and pursed her lips becoming lost in thought.
Behind all the light Slae could have sworn he saw a single tear spring from her eye and carve its path down her cheek. And as the tear fled her eye the glory dimmed ever so slightly.
She spoke again, "These evils are from before your time and before this Universe's time.” The Angel was slow to explain and paused to explain another thing, “I must apologize, Slae. For you see it has been a very long time since I have spoken to anyone. For this reason I have become quite anxious and apprehensive.”
Slae nodded in understanding and the Angel continued with her story, “As it were, these evils were great sorcerers of their time. They brought happiness and hope to many of their people. However, by and by they began to grow prideful of their abilities and a seed of evil took root within their hearts. Do not be mistaken though, they chose this for themselves; this was their path, a single being's choice only they can make on their own accord. As a result of this choice, horrible tragedy struck all who lived." The Angel then pointed to another orb, this one was different.
This orb shone with purity but looked dim in comparison with the light of the glorious being, who once again looked sad.
"This orb is not that of any spirit or being," She began, "but it is all the good the universe has; a path of light that fewer follow today than yesterday. I have watched with a weary heart as it grows dimmer with each passing moment." Her glow seeming a little less scintillating and for a moment he could feel all her sadness.
The mightily raging storm too had lost its luster and a light rain fell upon them.
The Angel stared deep into Slae's eyes, as if searching his soul before continuing, "These orbs represent choices of everyday individuals. It is by their own doings that they become who they are, whether for worse or of betterment. Likewise, Slae, your memories do not dictate the person you are now or what you can become. No, it is the choices you make that will determine such a thing. You must choose who you are and act upon that choice; know that the choices you make will impact the lives of many." She looked toward the sky which cleared in an instant.
Slae played at the ground with his feet, still feeling lost.
She sighed, "You must understand that what I know will not aid you in finding who you are. Yet I shall relinquish my knowledge to you, nonetheless. You ought to know that you are not alone within yourself, for there resides another and he shall make himself known to you soon enough. Be warned however, his nature is not pure and his intent is to control."
Slae furrowed his brow, his confusion furthering, but before he could say anything she went on, "He carries no memory of you, or of himself. He is as lost as you are. It is true; you were not always like this. Yes, it was I who did this to you. I did it because it was necessary that it be done."
"What exactly did you do…?" Slae's words trailed off.
"I did what I was tasked to do. We are all destined for a position in life. Whether we fill that position is entirely the choice of the being for which it has been made."
She pursed her lips as she thought for a moment, "I shall tell you the thoughts of my concern with you. You did not come out the way I had envisioned you would; that does not change the path already set before you. I know this, because I was to look for specific qualities in a single individual. You are that individual.”
Slae’s confusion only endured as he questioned the Angel, "How is my path set for me?"
She smiled as she explained further, "Yes, some destinies lay in wait for the one whom seeks to grab it, others are required to find theirs. Even so, few are predestined even before the beginning of time."
Suddenly the ground moved violently, as if dodging some unseen force. A rupture zagged across the sky and everything began to grow out of focus.
The Angel of Light smiled at Slae, as if oblivious to the changes around them, "Now it is time for you to go to the planet Earth, where I took you from. There you shall learn of the path awaiting you."
"Earth?" Slae began, but was once again hushed.
"Earth, yes. It is in great turmoil and upon its fate hinges the future of the Universe. This particular planet is special with many a battle for the Universe having been waged within it." She smiled at Slae expectantly.
"Battles-" Was all he could manage before being cut off again.
"Earth has no one to fight for it anymore, so that is what you must do. I know it may seem unfair, but it is your purpose; something you will soon comprehend. Do not fret, child. Though your path will be the hardest, it will be on that same path that you shall discover yourself."
The rupture grew, and the ground whipped again, more violently this time.
"I cannot keep you here any longer. Understand that it was hard to bring you here – even more so to keep you here, which is why you must go. When you return you will find that you are clothed. The clothing is the same I found you in with some touches of my own. It is made of diamond threading and woven tightly."
Slae wanted to say something, anything, but the pressure was intense. Everything seemed blurry and wavy as The Angel faded away. He began falling, desperately working to regain his balance. There was nothing under his feet, nothing to grab and yet he could see the island. Or is it farther away now, He wondered. Slae tried to reach for it, it was at his fingertips and if only he could grab the edge of the island he would be ok.
Chapter 2 Tangible Dream
Sweat dripped from Slae’s body as he awoke sitting upward, his hair flipped over head. Slae parted his black hair with his fingers taking in his surroundings; he was in a dense forest, green and lively. Birds chirped, sticks snapped as animals scampered about and chipmunk chatter dropped from above. Next to him was a circle of moss covered stones with a small pit in the midst of them filled with leaves.
Slae took note of several layers of leaves covering something just a foot away from the pit. Leaning forward he swiped away the soil and leaves that had collected on a small wooden box. The box looked like it would have been magnificent at one point, however the passage of time was not kind. It was now faded and rotted to the point of breaking. When Slae tried to open it up the leather strap pulled off the soggy wood of the lid. A second attempt caused the lid to break away from the rusted hinges revealing the space within.
Inside was a simple envelope, old and fragile, leaning against the decomposed felt of the wall. Slae carefully removed the envelope and flipped it open to see its contents. It held a single languished newspaper clipping which he carefully unfolded. It was a black and white picture of a large man that stood upon a lavish stage. Before him was a grand podium of metal and marble that shimmered from beams of light. His arms were outstretched as he gazed out. He had remarkably smooth skin and dressed in dark robes that adorned his majesty. Writing in an unfamiliar language was etched into the fabric of the robes, predominantly along the torso; although the words did appear upon parts of the sleeves.
Barely legible words were beneath the picture read:
Today we are graced by our beloved Omnipotent Pontiff as he addresses many of our concerns about our future. Since his takeover of our planet, just one week ago, all weapons have been disposed of and for the first time peace reigns throughout. We are then left to find our own happiness and place in life
Setting down the article Slae’s mind reeled; how could I not remember something like this! Slae knew this to be what the Angel spoke of; his reason for being here. Even so he wished there was something from his memory to aid him with what to do. While deliberating over what he knew or rather what he did not know, Slae realized he was no longer naked.
He was clothed in a fine red cloth that draped over both shoulders and he recalled the Angel of Light’s words. The cloth crossed over his back and chest then into more of the same material, wrapping tightly about his waist. Here it was clipped together by a metallic clasp of gold made in the form of a bolt of lightning. Slae traced the lightning with his index finger; sure that something about it was familiar. The draping cloth hung just past a black belt made up of several strips of fabric.
The belt struck Slae as odd, for it seemed like something was missing, but of course he could not figure out what that something was. Shrugging it off he looked past the belt to red pants strapped onto his waist. The pants were made up of the same fabric as the rest of his clothing and hung loosely from his thighs. The clothes were soft and incredibly comfortable; yet as he pulled on the fabric it showed no sign of frailty. The entirety of the outfit was also clean despite having woken on a forest floor.
As he fingered his new apparel, a gale of cold air hit him. The wind set his attention upon a pristine lake a short ways off; a passage between the trees created a perfect clearing to it, save a few shrubs and weeds. Slae stood up and began to heel toe it toward the water's edge, gaining a sense of uneasiness.
The closer he walked to it the colder he became and yet sweat seeped from his pores. Slae knelt near the water and slowly leaned over with his heart pounding; remembering what happened last time. Last time, he thought as he stepped back from the water, was it all a dream?
He could remember the Angel of Light so well and how his image attacked him prior. So real and yet he awoke in a forest, presumably where the Angel last found him. He figured it was just a dream; still the box was rotted and the paper decrepit, indicating he had not been there for some time.
Slae decided the only way to find out was to look into the waters and open his mouth. Heart pounding and his mind screaming he leaned over his reflection set in upon the surface of the water. Fighting against himself to spread open his jaw he squinted in anticipation and his arms shook. Nearly choking on his own relief seeing his teeth and tongue; he continued to stare, now somewhat convinced he dreamt it all.
Satisfied, he watched himself smile back, “but I’m not smiling,” he realized out loud.
He felt his face. His lips were not curled and his mouth was still parted open, unlike his grinning reflection. The image held his every move, smirking mockingly. Reaching out Slae felt the water; it was solid and icy cool. He looked out at the lake, seeing the water was as glass and the woods no longer moved with life.
Slae locked eyes with the image, tense with fear he grabbed his head yelling to the image, "Who are you!?"
With both shock and horror the image calmly replied, "I am you." Slae was frozen, he had no way of responding.
Nonetheless his reflection read his thoughts and said, "I do not know how, but I am you and you are I."
Finding his words again Slae responded, "Are you the one whom the Angel of Light spoke of?"
Grinning wickedly the reflection replied, "I am as empty as you; all that I know is that you are nothing without I." With that Slae tried to speak but found his words cut off.
The image opening his mouth, showed the blazing ball of fire made up of white flame. Slae countered by slamming his fist into the solid surface. To his surprise there was no pain. Instead the glass like surface shattered in a wave becoming mist in the wind.
"You think you did that?" The voice echoed in his head, "Hmm."
Sweat dripped from his brow as he looked across the small lake; everything appeared normal as animals brought the forest back to life. Shuddering uncontrollably Slae stood still looking over the lake, trying to wrap his mind around everything; it just seemed too much for him.
A whooshing sound broke through the customary noises of the forest and found its way to Slae's ears. He turned about and went back to the box where he scooped up the only belonging he had; the newspaper clipping. After carefully folding and placing the paper into a space between folds of fabric, he headed for the place the sound originated from.
It was not long before the forest split into a long clearing, and in the split laid black asphalt. It stretched in opposite directions into curves separating the woods. Being the first man-made structure Slae had come across he decided to follow the road. Hoping it would lead to civilization.
He did not know how he knew it was man-made or that the material was asphalt. However, such knowledge seemed so natural to him that it did not strike a single chord of surprise. Lost in thought he stepped on the pavement, unaware of the vehicle making its way around the bend.
When the driver caught sight of the man in the road it was too late. Having little time to react he blew the horn and tried to steer clear of Slae. Slae pivoted in time to meet the hot grill of the large truck face first.
The front of the truck collapsed as metal cringed and crackled, making a horrible sound. The entirety of the front wrapped about Slae's body, making the back of the truck hinge to the right and taking the front with it before breaking off from Slae. As it twisted sideways the momentum of the mass caused the truck to lift from the ground and flip into the air. Slamming hard into the pavement the vehicle broke open and slid to a halt on its side.
Slae simply stood motionless and untouched as he scanned over his own body. Not even his clothing was damaged. Slae was so impressed that he briefly forgot the vehicle and its driver until moans of agony gathered Slae’s attention.
Turning, he watched in shock as several poorly dressed people emerged from the wreckage. They were bleeding and badly battered. Some began to take note of Slae, for he was quite different looking, with his considerably taller stature and alien-like with his large black eyes.
Regaining his composure, Slae moved toward the group of injured people intent on helping. However, the closer he became the more frightened they were. He stopped several feet away and for the second time he could sense that something was not of himself.
Not knowing from whence it came, Slae searched deep within and discerned that he was sensing anguish. Plunging even deeper into his own psyche he discovered the pain and fear originated from the people nearby. Being lost in thought his gaze unknowingly settled on a middle-aged woman.
Slae then made eye contact with each one, saying, "Please do not be afraid. I will not harm you. I need -" His voice was cut off by the distant sound of sirens quickly approaching.
Those who could still move began to scatter into the woods and Slae followed suit. He caught up with one of the younger men and grabbed him by the arm.
The young man tried to squirm free and shouted frantically, "Let me go, let me go! We need to get free of them!”
"Please, I need your help, you do not understand," Slae pleaded with him.
The man just continued to shout, "No, you don’t understand! They won’t let us be free! Now let me go, they will kill me if you don't!"
The man began to pound on Slae, kicking and punching and flailing about in every way he could. Slae unknowingly tightened his grip on the man as he began to feel something creeping up from inside.
It was intense, dark, and yet fulfilling. He was not sure why, but he felt he needed to stop it, but as the man pounded on him, the greater it grew. Slae looked at the man in his grasp and felt angry, but could not fathom why he did. He did however understand why the man was trying to get away and still could not bring himself to let go.
Slae decided to stop the emotions from taking over when a chilling voice came from within, "No… do not stop I."
A numbing sensation was quickly followed by a frenzy of pain making its way up Slae's spine. He finally let go of the man who looked over his shoulder at Slae and took off running grabbing at his arm. Slae tried to move but only stumbled to his knees, his fingers digging at his forehead.
The man stopped and turned back toward Slae appearing to have second thoughts on abandoning him, but the sirens were closing in. The man took off running again as the flashing of lights lit up the edge of the forest and up ahead was the band of other fugitives disappearing over a ridge.
The man sighed in relief at the distance he put between him and road. He blinked and turning back he smashed hard into a large object. Looking up the young man turned pale as his eyes met the eyes of Slae whose appearance had changed just so: His long black hair danced about as static arcs erupted between strands and thin golden bands rimmed his otherwise solid black iris and pupil.
Slae's eyes were held wide and his eyebrows arched inward baring a large toothy grin. He reached down and grabbed the man who begun shaking in fear.
"Who do you think you are, running from I?" Slae said through his teeth, still smiling as he gave the man a look over.
The man stuttered out the words, "D-D-Don't hurt me, I'll do anything."
"You will do nothing, for there is nothing you can do." Slae said, no longer smiling but still keeping his lips parted, showing his teeth.
For a moment Slae was in awe of himself; the power he wielded was beyond anything he imagined possible. However, with the rush of power came darkness; wild and untamed. His mind filled with overwhelming thoughts that were not his own and even the words he spoke felt disconnected from his own thoughts.
He looked about, seeing everything differently than before; understanding everything differently than before. For now it all seemed so fragile and easy to manipulate. Slae then discovered a frightening sensation; that his willpower over his own body was diminishing rapidly. He stopped and made a more careful estimate of the evil that now filled his heart and mind - He needed to stop it now.
But it was too late. Against his own will, he uttered words that fell silent. Words of power that he somehow knew were of a forbidden magic. As the words were spoken, they were lost to an immediate wind and a devastating effect took hold of the man he held.
The young man suddenly stopped fighting, stopped shaking and began coughing in small spasms. With every coughing fit smoke and burnt skin exited from his mouth and littered Slae’s outfit. His eyes filled with evaporating tears and widened with fear as his life came to a tragic and meaningless end; his skin drying out as his eyes went grey.
Slae spoke again and likewise, they were not his words, "Behold, I's power."
As the man stopped moving his pale skin turned ashen and became hard. Then without warning, he was swept away in the wind as nothing more than darkened ash. The horrific depiction of this power brought Slae back with shock - He was in control again.
Slae turned and began to stumble through the woods, his eyes held wide by terror. His mind tried to keep up with his emotions, but it was of no use. His body began to feel the impact of his fear and the torrent of emotions unbridled his focus over his thoughts. Pushing deeper into the forest a sudden pain in his spine and head began working away at him.
After faltering between trees for several minutes, Slae twisted his ankle and smacked a trunk with his right shoulder. The impact with the tree threw him off balance and onto the ground, but Slae quickly attempted to stand, collapsing on his stomach. Pain, intense numbing-pain, filled his head along with images that made no sense to him; they were of only death, destruction and nothing more. Though Slae could tell the images were not his memories, he did his best to focus on them as they could be clues to whom or what he was.
Alas, with his focus completely gone and his eyes closed, the images faded with the pain as he succumbed to the calm of sleep.
Chapter 3 Evil Within
Slae awoke to a noise in the woods, taking in a quick gasp of air. Enough time passed for the sky to have darkened with silvery stars glimmering through the canopy above and dew settling upon everything. A little ways off, through hazy eyes, Slae watched lights dance about in frenzy, and then stopped to gather together. Most of the lights all aimed at the ground while others did a parameter sweep.
A deep husky voice said, "Most went over the hill in that direction and one went this way." A light flashed up in Slae’s general direction.
Another voice broke through, "By the looks of the trail heading that way, I'd say he was hurt. Might not be far ahead."
A small moment of silence, then the husky voice said, "Agreed, we'll follow this trail. Hopefully, whoever it is, will lead us to the rest."
The flashlights danced about again, as they headed straight for Slae, who was lost in a daze. He was still unsure if he was awake yet or if this was yet another dream. He sat upward, brushing the leaves and dirt from his face while awaiting the approach of the flashlight-wielding men.
It was not long before the lights were upon Slae, with the men all in a murmur. They were taken aback by Slae's alien appearance and stature. Despite their murmuring, they seemed completely unafraid, which seemed odd to Slae given his last encounter with people.
The husky voice spoke calmly, "Stand up young man, and tell me your name."
Slae slowly made it to his feet, causing all the men to step back in awe as he towered over them. Even the tallest among the men barely came up to Slae's chest.
"My name is Slae," he said as he squinted, trying to look past the light.
Slae was startled when suddenly the flashlights dimmed, being filtered out by his squinted eyes. Everything behind the lights turned a dull blue, allowing Slae to see clearly, regardless of the lights shining in his face.
The men were all dressed in uniform, with shaved heads and markings on the right side of their necks. Each one looked just like the other, with varying height and a facial expression of upmost seriousness. When he stopped squinting the lights flooded his vision once again.
"Where are you heading, rebel." The husky voiced man put emphasize on the last word.
"Rebel?" Slae queried.
"Yes rebel. Now where are the others? Tell me and I might let you live."
Slae stood in silence for a moment, before trying to reason with the man, "I am not sure what you mean. You see, I cannot remember anything, other than my given name."
Mockingly, the man replied, "Oh, how convenient for you. And how did you come about with such memory loss?"
Slae was not about to explain to the man his situation, choosing to not reply.
"Silence, then? Well, so that you are aware you were with a group of rebels. Traitors to us all! …There is a steep price for such a crime." With a wave of his flashlight the other men began to surround Slae.
"Answer my questions and we'll go easy on you, don't, and… well, I think you get the picture. Now, where has everyone gone?"
"I was not with the others, I am here alone. I do need you-" Slae was cut off by the husky voice.
"Refuse to cooperate? Alright then, get him!" He said, before stepping back.
As soon as the man stepped back from the circle, flashlights and small rods that produced electricity started battering Slae. Slae dropped to his knees covering his face and he tried to speak, but the electrical surges kept cutting off his voice. Each strike caused a hard twitch in his muscles, and yet with each strike the rods seemed to have less effect on him.
The husky man watched, eyes wide with wicked enjoyment, waiting for Slae to collapse. But alas, Slae endured. The husky-voiced man was shocked; never before witnessing someone remain conscious during such an assault. The electrodes on the rods were enough to send one to the floor in spasms and yet Slae seemed only slightly fazed by them.
"Alright! Enough!" He shouted, as he returned to the circle, looking at Slae, who was breathing heavily.
Keeping his composure he pressed Slae further with questions, "Are you going to be more cooperative now?"
Unknown to the husky man however, Slae was battling within himself. A great force was attempting to break free – a battle that Slae was rapidly losing. Suddenly the man lost his calm composure, backhanding Slae across his right cheek. His knuckles crackled as if he had hit a solid surface instead of flesh, causing him to yank his hand back. The fingers were mangled and hung tense, bent in different directions as he writhed in pain.
Slae suddenly looked up in a flash, a threatening smile stretched across his face. With the little willpower he had, Slae moved his hand to in front of him, feeling very disconnected with it. It happened before, when he had unwillingly murdered the man trying to escape… this strange sensation. The evil, the hatred, the desire for destruction; to lash out at all that exist. Yet the power was intense and satisfying in ways Slae could never find the words to describe. He also knew it originated from the other being residing within. But how?
Slae felt drunk with the power and anger, as his every thought and movement was tainted by the will of another. Slae very quickly developed a fear for what would happen; understanding he might not be able to stop all the actions of his own body.
Then all the flashlights and electrodes sparked and burst into an flashing flame. The men dropped the flash lights onto the ground where they disintegrated into smoldering debris. Like the arrival of death, the darkness of the night flooded over them.
All the men stepped back as Slae slowly stood; his silhouette loomed over them in the midst of their small circle. The men were not sure what frightened them more: the cause of the darkness or that Slae seemed larger than before.
Like a nightmare, Slae's fury unleashed at blinding speed toward one of the men. The man’s blue military-styled uniform shredded with his body; his shattered remains flung through the forest and the sound of wet ‘thumps’ continued for hundreds of feet. Some of the men turned and fled while the bravest of the group pulled out guns to open fire on Slae.
“No. . .what did I do?” Slae said to himself.
Almost completely ignoring the bullets, Slae watched the men fleeing away and frowned. He glanced about for a moment and in unison the men stopped firing as he reached for a mid-sized tree. The men gaped in awe as Slae uprooted the entire tree with an outstretched hand. Angling the tree like a spear it began to moan and crackle and in seconds the entire tree shed all its branches.
Slae watched through his own eyes, knowing what was to come. Though wishing to stop it, he did not know how. He felt mostly in control of his body and though the strange power did not feel normal to him. As the tree formed into a jagged spear, Slae came to realize that just as another’s will and thoughts influenced him, the strange powers were also being channeled through him.
Slae then aimed the tree at the furthest runner and with amazing grace he pitched his arm forward and the spear glided from his fingers and between many trunks. The men still circling Slae could not see the result of the onslaught, but the sickening sound of bones cracking and a man's death-cry was enough for them.
The men now knew better than to run and simply stood in consternation. The remaining guns hit the ground as men began begging for mercy.
"Alright! Enough! Men: let's move out!" The husky voice shouted orders, but then said just above a whisper, "We'll let ‘it’ take care of him."
Following orders the entire squad took off, but its well composed leader remained behind. He began to circle Slae, looking him up and down, all the while clutching his broken hand.
"You do not scare me. If you have seen the things I have, you would be cowering before me. Begging me to spare your life, giving me the information I want. But since words are not enough to describe, I must demonstrate it to you."
Slae responded in a dead voice, "I doubt it."
The man stood just long enough to chuckle mockingly, before Slae reacted in anger. Slae kicked the husky-voiced man in the chest sending him through the forest. He bounced off the ground like a stone across water before getting mangled around a crooked tree. Slae turned to get the rest of the men, but found something he did not expect.
It stood just shorter than a normal man, but did not resemble one. It was fully erect upon two legs. The mainframe of the mechanized creature was of a dark-grey metallic and cylindrical body. Upon the body were several vents and a screen occasionally acting as its face. The legs were joined at the torso that connected to the housing by way of a large circular joint. At the knees the legs were triple jointed, which united two shin-like structures and two large metal feet.
The arms protruded straight out from the body and composed of a big flat-headed club at the end. However, the arms had a far greater function than just pummeling; which became evident by way of small angular-cracks in the club. Both the shoulders and what could be considered its elbows were triple jointed as well, just like the knees.
What caught Slae's attention the most was the metal that encased the over-sized computer. The metal appeared solid, but was a smoky-grey and varying blacks that blurred with the machine’s every movement.
Moving toward Slae gears grinded so silently that a gentle breeze would blot out the noise. Slae watched it and began to mimic it with a dissatisfied frown upon his face.
"Is this the best they have to offer? Some blind robot?" Slae questioned it.
The machine halted at those words and the grinding became loud as its clubs broke apart in a graceful fashion. Within the blur of a second’s time, the clubs formed into a fully functional hand with double jointed digits. The hands lunged toward Slae, gripping him by his shoulders and slamming him against a tree.
The machine sounded off angrily, "I am no blind machine! I am alive by way of the Shadow and think for myself!"
"You sure have a funny way of showing it," Slae said with a leering grin.
The machine released its grip on Slae, but before Slae's feet touched the ground it reared its right arm back and thrust its fist into Slae’s face. The force of the blow caused the tree to split where Slae's head hit and the tree began to descend on top of the machine.
Its hands separated at the palm and black rope-like structures flung forth wrapping about the tree. In an instant the dark tentacles engulfed the tree, destroying it completely. The dark tentacles returned to their origins as the palms sealed back up.
"What are you…" Slae said, as more of a statement to himself.
"I would ask you the same if my desires to destroy you were not greater," responded the machine; so coldly that it sent shivers up Slae's spine.
"There is that blind-machine mentality again." Slae responded, mockingly.
The metal encasing of the machine swirled violently for a moment and then reached for Slae again, but only grabbed the air. However, the machine spun about, while its hands formed into a large cannon. The cannon came face to face with Slae who stood stunned.
"Oh…" Was all Slae managed before a black beam swallowed him whole, absorbing everything in its path.
The arm of the machine whipped about in a cowboy fashion before the barrel-end halted just below a vent in the casing. A blast of air cut over the opening of the barrel, making a hollow-tone. Then, through the darkness of the night and the evaporating beam, the machine found something that greatly troubled it.
Slae was untouched, still standing and grinning through his clenched teeth, his hatred now flowing stronger than ever before. The machine stumbled backward at the sight, unable to imagine how Slae survived. Then Slae brought his hands close together, fingers spread with palms stretched and powerful charges of electricity arced. The electricity erupted between his hands, breaking his tenuous grasp onto the power. The rupture caused both the machine and Slae to stumble backwards.
In unison, both regained composure and took a stance. The machine raised its canon and Slae brought his hands back together; palms spread open toward each other once more. The arcs formed between his hands as the machine's canon fired. The power churned in Slae's hand, before leaping forth with such tenacity that the black beam was broken apart. The force smashed hard into the machine, sending it flying in a violent twirl through the forest.
Its canon broke apart and morphed back into a hand as it continued through the air; bouncing off large trees and breaking through smaller trees. The hands of the machine launched from the arm. Being bounded by a shadowy chain the hand wrapped about a huge tree, stopping it immediately as the machine crashed hard into the ground.
The force of the stop caused the arm of the machine to split and break apart. Circuitry and a strong skeletal structure was all that kept it from breaking completely as small sparks sputtered from the damaged parts. Standing back onto its feet, half broken and unable to fight anymore the machine lowered its guard.
Slae was upon it quickly; ready to strike again, furious and powerful he stood over the machine. His hair had grown shorter, and begun to move about from tiny eruptions of electricity. His eyes fierce and charged, nearly glowing a soft yellow. Slae's skin turned more golden than gray and he gritted his teeth harder, caring only to destroy his opponent.
The machine looked away not wanting to see his own demise when his display started to scroll with information about Slae. It also began to reimage Slae showing several variations of him. Slae side-armed the machine, sending it tumbling backward several feet, but it did not care. All it could do was look upon its assailant with puzzlement and a new spark of curiosity.
The machine’s new view of Slae was unlike Slae's current form. Instead it could see multiple representations of him - one as Slae himself, the others became less visible as they stacked behind him.
Somewhat matching his current form, the second representation of Slae was taller with much shorter hair and a powerful aura erupted about the frame of his body. A third rested just beyond that as a tall, slender and golden figure filled with magical energies. Further yet was Slae again, his power exploded about him and hair hung about his head as if suspended in animation. Another had no image, but was only indicated by data scrolling past its hud, the properties of its makeup was simply labeled as ‘unknown’.
Around Slae the invisible forces of the universe, including the strings of time, did not touch him and yet bent about him and small strange wisps of energies funneled through him. Though its machinery was powered by the tremendous energy of shadow, the information nearly overwhelmed its core processors and a systematic shutdown began to take place.
The machine suddenly remembered the threat to its existence and looked about frantically. Finding just a sliver of a shadow being cast by the moon peaking through some clouds it reached out for it. Slae lunged for the robot, but it was swept into the shadow where it disappeared.
Slae became furious. He was tempted to obliterate the entire surrounding area, but thought better of it. He turned about, seeing no one else and realized he lost his bearings during the fight.
He decided to just continue in one direction that would unknowingly lead him deeper into the forest. Through the night Slae wrestled with his other half, fighting for control over every thought and sensation.
As he fought for his body an inner voice kept taunting him, "Come on, let I out. You are so frail, unlike I. But with I, yes I, you will be powerful. There will be no more pain or struggle."
Slae was tempted to allow him the pleasure of control, but sensed it would only lead to even greater evil. Yet the strain to maintain control was next to unbearable as sweat seeped from every pore.
The inner voice taunted more, "You make I sick! There is no strength in you - only I!"
"Enough!" Slae shouted as he fell on his weakened knees.
In that very instance he was brought back to himself and his eyes went wide as if seeing everything for the first time. It was like waking from a vivid nightmare of the worst kind and remembering every unspeakable moment.
The shock of it caused Slae to bring his trembling hands into view of his face and then drop them his sides in disgrace.
The voice spoke up once more, "Do not be so weak. You were defending yourself, of course with I’s power."
Slae responded fiercely, so not to show any lack of confidence in his words, "And what of the ones whom showed no danger to me? I may not be as strong as you, but I could have easily fled-" Slae was cut off.
"Yes, like a coward."
That ended the conversation and Slae knelt there with head hung. He was not sure what to think or where to go. He had not been returned to Earth a full day yet and already had caused more death than he could ever forgive. Then without warning or surprise, the pain started again. It moved up his spine and images moved into his head, blinding his vision.
Slae tried to fight it and clear his head, but it was no use; the pain had him subdued and the images turned dreamlike with his unconsciousness taking root.
Having strayed from consciousness, Slae found himself standing on a barren wasteland within a dream. With him were hundreds of thousands of men dressed in white-gray high-tech equipment. As he looked about he realized he was not on Earth anymore, but some other strange place. There was no air to speak of and the sky was opened up to billions of dazzling stars that brightened the ground. The ground was a solid and mostly smooth surface of deep reds and brown and glints of strange metals and nothing grew from its harsh soil.
Slae turned to see a man dressed in the same gear as all the others, but adorned with medals of honor. His head was covered in a clear material that fit tightly and a tiny tube - no thicker than a few hairs ran from his helmet into a small pouch on his back. Slae somehow knew this tube was used to feed oxygen to the helmet. Under a heavy brow his bronze eyes held a gaze of someone who had seen death too many times and yet a fire for war was alit. His hair was short and green with clumps of grey mixed in, and the sight of him was welcoming to Slae. Although in Slae’s feelings there was no recollection of him.
Slae leaned into the man and asked, "Where are we?"
The man turned and looking up at him with a skeptical look said, "Sir, commander! We are on the Dead Star! Your men are ready for battle!"
"Dead Star? Battle?!" Slae was astonished.
"Yes Commander! All the remaining forces of our enemies throughout the galaxy have gathered upon this surface, a place of their choosing. It is a place of great importance, a holy place! Since no other rock in the galaxy burns as this one did long ago! But do not fret my Commander; we are ready, and the galaxy shall bow before us once again!"
That is when Slae noticed his reflection on the man's helmet. He was not himself. His hair was much shorter, and spiked. Instead of black, the hair shone with a silvery-essence. His eyes were gray with a golden iris and red pupils. His clothing was also different, being a green and blue mix. The shirt was loose but of one solid piece tying into a belt with metal vertical strips. A similar strap ran from one shoulder to a plate upon his chest. Before Slae could digest it any further, he was no longer the Commander, but now watched from above.
Everyone stood in perfect stillness for some time, as the calm before the storm. Then in a flash, the military moved upon the forces of their enemy, consisting of several races. Outnumbered one to a thousand the army of the Commander ruthlessly slaughtered their enemies without loss.
The man standing next to the Commander abruptly winced in pain and his oxygen tub whipped in frenzy. The man shot the commander a single glance, the wince of pain frozen in his face as his body began to separate into large pieces of flesh. Anger grew upon the Commander's face as he turned to witness legions of the enemy creeping up from behind. Behind them they hauled by chains a large and curious weapon.
The weapon fired what looked like thin horizontal lines of light. As quickly as the weapon had fired all action upon the battlefield slowed to a crawl. The only exception was the Commander, who walked straight toward the ammunition being fired at him. Even the many lines of light moved slow in comparison to his every step. When the Commander made contact with the lines of light, the lines erupted into particles, evaporating away.
Once he was near the men, time returned to normal speed. The enemies he now stood in front of flinched in shock. They all turned, jolting in terror, but it was of no use. In sheer anger the Commander clenched his fist and crossed his arms. Whipping them out to his side while flexing his muscles, he sent a large blue wave of energy from his body. It raced toward the men. The shockwave instantly caused each victim to erode, destroying their suits and cauterizing their flesh.
Once the wave had engulfed all the enemies it simply vanished, leaving smoldering corpses about the stony ground. His body morphed, then blurred for an instant as his back transfigured into his front. Without hesitation the Commander began to move at a brisk pace back to his post.
A whisper began to rise in the crowd. The battle slowly came to a halt as all the warriors looked into space at an approaching star. It was white and brilliant, but very small. Before Slae could make out what it was, his dream changed perspective. Though he could not make out who was attacking the Commander’s troops, they were fear stricken. Being tossed about as if nothing more than rag-dolls; the invisible terror headed straight for the Commander.
Just seconds before it broke through the remaining crowd the dream went black and a voice cried out, "With the power of the lords within me, through the flames of vengeance! By the powers of hatred that blots my very soul! You shall be damned to this star to walk through the fires of justice for all eternity!"
In the darkness a sudden burst of white fire took upon a the rocky and once celestial body. At first was just a dot in the distance, just as a brightly shining star. However, the dot soon grew closer, revealing its sharp and white flames that licked at the surface of the freshly ignited star. As the gap closed an agonizing scream could be heard, increasing in volume. The star was now close enough to Slae that he became face to face with a ghastly form of the commander shrieking and whipping his head about in pain.
Chapter 4 Chosen Path
Several weeks had passed since Slae had fought the machine and he often contemplated on the things it said. Particularly the part about the Shadow giving it life; it certainly appeared sentient and Slae could sense something about it. He did not know why, but it troubled him. The Shadow could be used to bring inanimate objects or machines to life; giving them thought and passion?
When he was not thinking on the Shadow, he would spend a chunk of his time residing deep in the forest learning how to meditate. Always trying to learn something new about himself, always trying to get a glimpse into his memories or find who he is. Often times though, he would only reveal emptiness; a void left unfilled.
However, it was not for nothing. He discovered a great strength within, an incredible strength even. At first he thought it was of his other half, having no recollection of it. Yet, it felt natural to him, much like his name did. His power was of physical proportions; shielding him and allowing him to do considerable feats.
Deciding to test his strength, Slae happened upon an abandoned quarry. There he lifted large boulders and inoperable machines with such ease it proved to be no test at all. While there, Slae learned he also possessed astonishing speed. There was no way to tell how fast he was; only that he could cover vast distances swiftly.
Yet, he felt he had only achieved a portion of his own abilities. He tried to meditate on it and bring forth more of his own power. And despite not having heard a word from the other half, he continued to torture Slae.
Often times Slae would manage some great feat of power, such as producing lightning or even fire from his hands. As quickly as one of these abilities would arise, it faded away. As a result, it did not take Slae much time to realize that the other half was toying with him.
Slae decided to stop meditating on different aspects of power and only focus on his own strength. Perhaps, he thought, it is all I am capable of doing?
As time pressed on, Slae’s thoughts drifted more and more to his actions in the forest and what he allowed to transpire. He had sat back and reveled in powers that did not belong to him and then wielded them to kill. The more he thought on it the more he despised himself for not being strong enough to stop his other half.
Additionally, Slae began to struggle with his quest and all the difficulties that lied ahead. He had never felt more lost, having no real direction of where to go or even where to begin. Yet, for reasons he could not figure out, he knew that he was far from ready for the tasks ahead.
One day, while deep in thought, Slae noticed the surrounding forest had begun to change. He could feel a thickening of moisture in the air and perceived a thinning of trees as he walked forward. But he could not make out what laid just past the trees.
He stopped and looked down just in time to see the grass and leaves being slowly swallowed by whiter than white sand. The ground where he stood started to build up carrying him up with it. And trees fell away until he stood atop of a large hill in a clearing above everything.
Water burst forth from the ground and the entire forest sank beneath it until even the tallest tree vanished beneath its depths. Yet the waters continued to rise until they reached Slae's feet in a splash. Lightning struck the middle of the sandy island causing the sand to alter and coalesce into blood-red bricks.
A wooden and twisted branch broke through the ground, holding a dark swirling orb. On the opposing side of the island formed a second orb of light; a light that represented all the good left in the universe. With a thunderous noise a blinding light exploded out of thin air in the middle of the island. Slae knelt in the water, averting his eyes. He did not know why he was here again, but he feared for the worse.
"Slae, be not afraid." The Light spoke.
"Angel!" Slae cried out, "Help me . . . please. Break me from this wretched curse I have been burdened with. Surely you know everything I have done."
Slae felt so much goodness flowing from her that he could not help but to cry for a release from his own misery. Knowing the evil in him, he was compelled to drop before her in shame.
She replied, "That I do, which is why you are here. I also know that you do not fully act on your own accord - you struggle with another. I assure you my child, this was not my intent."
She moved toward him gracefully, walking just inches above the ground. Every step she took caused the air to ripple like water and a gentle breeze to usher out from beneath her steps. The Angel stopped just short of Slae, and looked skyward with arms raised. Her skin began to brighten and crackle with energy.
"This will hurt." She said as her hands wrapped about his head and pressed into his temples.
Slae grabbed her arms as what felt like torrents of pain flooding his brain. He felt numb and limp, with his mouth agape, he wearily looked up at the Angel who was even more focused than before.
As if tossed from his own body, Slae found himself in third person, watching as he quickly altered into another form. He had short-spiked silvery-hair with white highlights. His pupils were like bottomless pits of deep-red, constricted by golden irises. His skin was so golden that it appeared as the metal itself, yet it was as soft as any other kind of flesh. Upon his chest formed a silver circle encompassing a single bolt of lightning, it was metallic in nature but looked as much a part of him as his own beating heart. Then Slae reached up and felt his own chest as if he thought something similar should be there as well.
A soft blue illuminated the air immediately about Slae’s transfigured body. As if at the flick of a switch he erupted into consciousness, breaking Quweaign's powerful grip and landing upon both feet. He turned to peer at Slae with evil intent and took a step toward him, but was stopped at the words of the Angel.
"Do not bother with him, wretched creature! You shall address me! Once we are done here, neither you nor Slae will remember anything."
He gave a sickening laugh for a moment and then said, "Why have you separated him from his body? Do you not know that I wish it as I’s own?"
She replied, "You have become a hindrance, and I must know how you managed to survive the binding?"
"How should I know, I am as blank as he." He said while lazily pointing to Slae.
In the split of a second the Angel of Light seemed taller as her wings begun to fall apart; raining into the ocean waters below. Her hair pulled back behind her head on its own and the soft bright glow about her dulled to a brilliant yellow. The snow-white cloths floating about her started to move and twist around her body. As they moved around her they neared her skin until wrapping tightly onto her, still keeping the modesty of her form. Her blue eyes burned with fire and Slae was unable to take his own eyes off her as she moved toward his other half.
Sneak Peek Further into Last Hero!
"Slae looked up at a shadowarrior bounding down from a tree. He turned his attention to the wreckage of metal and blood broiled by an inferno of fire. He did not know the people in the car yet he felt his anger growing and his will slipping further control to his other half. However, Slae did not care; justice had to be dealt to the shadowarrior.
Tentacles from the body of the shadowarrior began picking up large chunks of the asphalt and launching them at Slae. One after another the asphalt came with increasing ferocity. But unknown to Slae, the pieces were going through him as he stepped toward the creature; a result brought on by the powers of the other half bleeding through. The shadowarrior soon stopped, realizing its attack had no impact. The tentacles flew at Slae and Slae quickly grabbed each one and yanked the shadow toward him.
As he brought a fist back to hit the shadowarrior, it reached out for some nearby shade and vanished into it. Just as quickly as it had disappeared, the shadowarrior reappeared sending a grey wave of shadowy-energy at Slae. It knocked Slae off his feet and onto the hard asphalt. The warrior turned the wave of energy toward Slae and brought it against him again and again, like a hammer. Every strike smashed Slae's body further into the ground.
Slae tried to stand but it smashed him into the ground again. He rolled out from another attack, and jumped to his feet. The force swung sideways at Slae and careened through trees and across the surface of the lake. He finally came to a stop about half way across the lake and broke through the surface; causing an explosion of water. It rained down and sent a wave washing onto dry land.
Slae, in the depths of the lake, felt his control slipping even more. In his pain and anger he could do little to stop it. Then power, satisfying power, surged through him as he sunk to the bottom.
There he stood up, and his anger erupted in a pulse of power through the water. The surface stirred slightly at first, then began to rise. The waters of the lake swelled until bursting outward sending massive waves that flooded the entire surrounding area, and raining down in torrents, causing temporary rivers to form and land to be carved out.
The resulting dispersal of water left Slae in only a puddle. Electricity erupted about his body, and the struggle within was raging on more furiously than ever before.
The shadowarrior exited out of the flood waters in a smoky silhouette that quickly reformed into a solid figure as leapt through the air. It smashed into Slae, grappling him and sending them splashing into the puddle. The fists of the creature pummeled Slae's face repeatedly.
With opened hands Slae launched the warrior high into the air. He noticed the waters were starting to rush back inward; washing away parts of the road and further damaging the nearby abandoned city. With the retreating water brought with it dozens of uprooted trees and plants and was thickened with mud.
Using his strength Slae leapt from the lake bed, high into the air, passing the shadowarrior and landing onto a broken skyscraper; still visible above the retreating water.
The shadowarrior fell back into the lake bed. Immediately it burst from the water alongside the building Slae was on; latching onto the side, crawling upward until popping its head over an edge of the skyscraper. Slae, having already prepared an attack, let the electricity pour from his hand. It ravaged the warrior, and sent it backwards into the water again. Slae smiled. He knew it would just return again and remembered the powers of the Light.
Before he could even attempt to conjure the power the shadowarrior hurled itself over the building and broke its feet across Slae's chest, sending him flying backwards. He hit a street, bounced then rolled through the wall of a building, causing it to topple.
Slae stood and dusted himself off, being completely uninjured. Tentacles broke through the rubble, wrapped about him and jerked him out of the building, into an adjacent building, and through some vault-walls that appeared to be an old bank. He came to rest in a large lobby filled with fine furniture and décor.
Once again, the tentacles started to pull him. He grabbed a pole attached to the floor, tearing it out of its concrete fastening. It would be a convenient weapon against his attacker. As he was ripped from the building he noticed the metal pole had a large chunk of concrete attached to the bottom. Slae smiled. As soon as he had a clear shot at the shadowarrior Slae chucked the pole at it. It pelted the shadowarrior straight in the head.
The shadowarrior crumpled over backwards and Slae was dropped from the grasp of his enemy. Slae started to notice that he was no longer seeing things in the same way; almost as if he was watching from a different perspective. That is when he realized his control was slipping completely out of his hold. Slae attempted to breathe deeply, clenching his teeth to gain more control, not realizing the shadowarrior was preparing another attack. The ground then shook suddenly and violently beneath his feet.
As Slae looked at the ground it began to roll and break apart and black light poured through the crevices. The blackness devoured the light from the sun and turned the sky as dark as night. The ground swelled, and before Slae could move, it erupted into a purple-fiery explosion that left nothing but ashes and cinders. Even the metal and concrete were reduced to smoldering rubble.
Slae gave a dark smile through the light that suffused his body; protecting him from the powerful attack. The shadowarrior growled and launched several tentacles at Slae that shattered like glass upon contacting the barrier of light. In sudden fear the shadowarrior stepped back and froze for a time.
The light collected into Slae’s hand and a gentle, quiet voice filled his head. He listened to the words as he extended his hand. The light broke from his hand, and struck the shadowarrior. As he dropped to the ground hissing, it grabbed its shoulder in pain.
"The Light destroys you, vile shadowarrior!" Slae called out with great satisfaction.
As the Light poured out over the shadowarrior, it whipped about violently, hissing and growling in pain, but just as quickly stopped. The Light, gloriously spreading over the warrior, chased down and captured all of the fleeting blackness.
As the Light faded away, Slae’s eyes were opened.
Since his first encounter with the shadowarrior he knew it was wretched, cursed, and evil to the core. He knew there was no reasoning with it and that within it was only blackness that sought to destroy and kill. Now something most unexpected peered at Slae pass the fading light, and it further challenged his understanding of his enemy... "
"Without warning, Azur dropped his hands and multiple bolts of highly energetic electricity were released at Slae. Slae braced himself and crossed his arms in front of his face. In that moment Slae discovered strength within, power that was his to harness. It was pure, raw, untapped strength, overwhelming Slae. Slae took hold of the power within him and released it, yelling out at Azur.
Azur’s bolts of electricity hit an invisible wall and shot in all directions, disappearing into the white void. Slae yelled mightily, embracing the strength he discovered.
"I won't let you!" Slae screamed.
Slae’s strength continued to build. His skin began to glisten and rip with muscle, as he grew several inches taller. The space around him seemed to darken in comparison to Slae’s own glow. The black depths of his eyes turned a silvery color and blended with the whites at the ridges of the iris. His hair began to dance to an unfelt wind
Azur stepped back - perhaps this was no mere mortal, a vessel for his own power. Perhaps in some twisted sense of fate, he was the disease blocking Slae's true nature and purpose! These thoughts and more quickly humbled Azur and his pride soon vanished. He dropped to his knees... "
"Every billboard, computer screen, phone, television, projection equipment and radio, with the ability to play video, came alive with Thunder's presence. He stood dressed formally in complete black, and everyone who saw him stopped to watch. Cheering erupted among small crowds and some people began to prayfully speak to the screen in praise as if Thunder could hear them.
He stood on a familiar cliff's edge outside of the world's largest and most populated city, Havesin. The camera was at just the right angle to see the massive buildings blanketed in a low-laying fog and Thunder standing to one side; appearing to present the city to the world.
It had been many years since the world laid eyes upon their ruler; so long in fact that some even broke into tears at his mere presence upon their screen. Thunder, in the early days, would address the world regularly; ensuring peace was nearby and addressing concerns over rebel hold-outs. There was no knowing what momentous occasion brought the gracing of his presence. Even the faint noise of praise could be heard from the city in the distance.
"My citizens of the New Earth, I bring you good news!" Thunder started with a fake smile on his face, "The primary suspect – the murderous one that killed our brethren; a shadowarrior! The treacherous fool, whom threatened our Utopia, has been properly dealt with!"
Thunder paused and the cheering increased as everyone who heard the news became hysterical....
..."However,” Thunder continued, “like most good news, bad news follows." His smile faded and a synthetic look of sadness came over his face. "You see we are at war, and some of you are against me. I do not know who, but I shall seek you out. You will recall that some time ago I requested the whereabouts of a certain group of rebels. Those who wish to threaten our peaceful planet. Yet no one came forward and now my hand is being forced against you. It was these rebels, these terrorists that aided the one who opposed me, who murdered a beloved shadowarrior."
Thunder stepped aside so the camera could pan out to the whole city. He went on, "The planet must be punished, and this city shall serve as a demonstration for those traitors; even those who will not help us in apprehending them. You have forced my wrath, and it is with a heavy heart that I must do this to you: my children."
The city had become quiet at Thunder's announcement as the whole world stood still and watched. Swirling smoke, which appeared like rapidly forming clouds, spread out until the whole city was cascaded in darkness. The mass blackened and slowly descended upon the city. Sounds of car horns and sirens could be heard; shrieks and screams of people panicking broke through the speakers. Every building was blanketed by the mass; masking the city in with defined blacks and shadows. Then, as everyone watched in horror, every sound - the screams, the sirens, the vehicle horns - all came to a deafening silence. The blanket of shadow fell flat onto the ground then vaporized, leaving nothing but bare remnants of the great city... "
Written By - J. L. Tracey
Edited By - Whitney Duque
Edited By - Joyce Tugan
Contributors - Brittany T., Dennis P., Julie S., Angie M.
Last Hero 2 Early Preview
The second book in the Last Hero series is well on its way, be sure to check out the early preview here on the Hubpages!