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Mirror Shrine: Silverblade's Run

Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:00 am

(Quest reposted for accessability, this post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:23 PM) ... c=1450&hl=
That is the Original Soul Shrine for those of you who are interested.
Note: No rewards, this is simply backstory run on subs for tradition's sake.

He felt, more than he saw, when Nighthand’s spell went off. But unlike Nighthand, Silverblade recognized it for what it was. It was, after all, made from things he knew.

It was a spell, that much was certain. It wasn’t Nighthand’s, as much as it seemed to be. The element was all wrong. Nighthand didn’t have the skill to control Light. Neither, it seemed, could the hacker who used it on them. Whoever it was, he had to use Twilight to force it where it would not be forced.

The Twilight had another effect, one that was both blessing and curse.

Silverblade was no longer trapped within Nighthand’s head. Now, HE was in control. Strangely, he could sense nothing of his former host in his mind. The oddity was lost on him, however, as a sense of elation took over.

He was FREE!

As his joy began to fade, Silverblade began to look around, to actually SEE his surroundings. No longer was he in Theta’s field, the one they had been ambushed in. No longer was he even in Theta at all. Rather, he stood in front of the great bridge of Mac Anu. Oddly enough, the usually busy town was nearly empty.

Silverblade felt a sense of purpose come over him. He knew, somehow, that he had to leave, had to go to a field. He turned, strode to the Chaos Gate, and interfaced with it.

For a moment he stood in place, watching the chaos gate in its serene spin. The runes inscribed on its surface shimmered and spun, circling the gate in their own little orbits. Finally, he took a deep breath, and interfaced with the gate.

Input Keywords
Input Keywords

Soul’s Eternal Cry
Soul’s Eternal Cry

The gate chimed its cheery acknowledgement, and a trio of rings lowered around him, sweeping him away.

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:01 am

(This post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:24 PM)

He arrived in good time, to a field he knew from memories not his own. The new yet familiar path of cut grass, broken branches, and patches of dirt was little different from when “he” was here last.

Silverblade wondered what would happen here this time. Obviously, the same puzzles given to Nighthand would be tedium with his remembrance of the answers.

He knew there would be no monsters, no other players, nothing but the AI residents. The field was hidden to all but Nighthand and those he invited. By dint of being in Nighthand’s head, Silverblade had access.

After some time spent walking, Nighthand grew concerned. I know this is a level one field, but shouldn’t there be at least one portal?

Curious, and even a little afraid, Nighthand walked on. He was afraid that this was a hacked field. He would not stand a chance against a hacker; not alone.

Silverblade didn’t fear the hackers. He had sufficient power to defend himself, if not achieve victory. His power came from Nighthand’s; it was a twisted version, a complement, of Nighthand’s.

Just as he himself was. He was Nighthand, had all his memories. His attitude was different, but that was to be expected once they became two instead of one.

He realized that even though he had entered The World expecting to be a loner, he had come to rely on his friends. Armina, the cheerful girl. Nall, the fearless leader. Gingitsune, the Powerful Wavemistress. Ramza, his first contact here. Hijinx, the joker. Kayin, the newly hacked person. Asgard, the wanted man. Even the newcomers, Rayo, Ruri, Tokki, Vera, and Kodel. All of them were his friends.

Silverblade hadn’t entered The World by his own choice. He hadn’t chosen to play this game, hadn’t gone through the tragedy that left Nighthand and his comrades in comas, minds stuck playing forever. He was created by a hacker to subvert and steal Nighthand’s powers. In a way, he was fortunate that Nighthand and Verona had defeated him. Once he had taken Nighthand’s powers, the hacker who gave him life would take both back. Nighthand had let him keep his powers, and his life. They worked together, though mutual distrust and will to be separate often tore at their fragile alliance.

Birds chirped around him, taking wing when he was near.

Silverblade paused, savoring the sounds and the stillness they left. He enjoyed this field when Nighthand brought him here. It was a perfect place to sit and rest, think, meditate.

Soon he came upon the familiar old plaza.

Covering the ground in from of him was a structure. It was unlike anything he had seem before in the game.

Made out of marble and granite, it was a large plaza. It was roughly fifty yards in diameter, in a circular shape. The floor was checkered red and blue marble. Around the edges, twelve statues stood. He walked to each in turn.

The first showed a man in a medium weight suit of armor. At his hip was a katana. There was no inscription, but Nighthand could tell he was a powerful Heavy Blade.

Next in the circle was a female. She too wore medium armor, but her sword was drawn. It was a heavy claymore, by the looks of it. She was a Blademaster.

Continuing around the circle was another man. He held a long shaft in his hand, pointing inwards at an angle. On the tip was a mean looking blade, curved backwards. He was a Long Arm.

The fourth statue was of a young woman. She wore light armor, but held a weapon as long as the one on the previous statue. Hers was tipped by a large battle axe blade. She was a Heavy Axe.

Fifth around the plaza was another man. He too wore light armor. There were hooks one either side of his belt, both empty. Held in each hand was a three-pronged dagger, the blade forged to look like a thunderbolt. He was a Twin Blade.

Next in line was female. She wore a long flowing robe, and carried a staff. The staff was topped with the symbol for infinity, the sideways eight. She was a Wavemistress.

The seventh statue was another female. Her armor set was almost identical to that of the first statue. Strapped to her back was a sheath with a huge sword in it. She was a Heavy Blade.

The next statue was male. As Nighthand expected, he held a broadsword up at the ready. He was the perfect figure of a male Blademaster.

The ninth statue was female. Wearing very heavy armor, and carrying a large scythe, she was the female counterpart to the third statue. She was the female Long Arm.

Number ten was another male. He too was wearing heavy armor. In his hands was a long-shafted axe. He was obviously the male Heavy Axeman.

The eleventh statue was female. She held nothing in her hands, but there were two long knives hooked to her belt. The female Twin Blade, of course.

Upon gazing at the final statue, Nighthand gasped.

He was dressed in long robes, much like those that Ramza habitually wore. In his hand was a long wand made out of crystal.

It was a perfect likeness of the man who had followed Nighthand, appearing to him twice before.

It was Kiltran.

There were thirteen statues now.

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:02 am

(This post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:25 PM)

When Nighthand had worked to fight off the hacker who had made Silverblade, he had been successful to only an extent. He had to pay a price for the power he unwittingly gained from Silverblade. That price was Arra.

Arra was the girl of the shrine, the keeper, the one who kept the field safe for the chosen few. She was a constant companion, helper, and source of wisdom for Nighthand. She even became his friend. As much as an old AI could befriend someone. Silverblade sometimes thought Nighthand might have loved her, in a convoluted, platonic way.

The backlash of defeating the hacker had used Nighthand as a channel, and struck Arra. The blast shook her to the core, and she was turned to stone where she stood. In terms of people, she was petrified, as solid as those who met the Gorgon’s Gaze. In computer terms, she was a program that had locked up.

She stood still in that plaza, a statue forever bearing the marks of Nighthand’s mistake.

Silverblade walked to the fountain in the center of the plaza, underneath the watchful gaze of the statue of the Seraph. The familiar inscription on its base glistening from splashed moisture.

It was larger than the other statues, though it bore a certain resemblance to them all. Nighthand could not tell if it was male or female, but it had long hair hanging down over it’s shoulders. Its arms were out to the sides, palms out, fingers splayed. But perhaps the most remarkable thing of all was it’s wings. It had six wings, all protruding from it’s back. They looked like the wings Balmung had when Nighthand first saw him in Mac Anu. Underneath the statue, on the pedestal, was an inscription.

He dipped his hand in the cool water, enjoying the sensation. He seldom was let in control of the body, most of what he felt was remembered sensations. Nothing this real.

Was it real? He was made of data, born of data. He had no body to return to. He would live on in the servers of The World until he was deleted or the servers wiped. He had both less and more reason to combat the hackers. The others were, after all, fighting to be released. Silverblade fought for his home.

To him, it WAS real. It was the most real.

He walked on, continuing to follow the path Nighthand had taken so long ago.

He walked to the other side of the fountain. The path continued on from the plaza, so he continued to follow it. As he went on, the path gradually grew wider, and went from simple packed earth to actual cobblestones. In a bit of magnificent programming, it actually felt like it had been smoothed down by decades of use.

Eventually, he began seeing signs that the road was not the only bit of civilization left here. At first there were only small mounds on either side of the street. As he progressed, however, they grew larger and taller. They eventually took form, showing that they were once the foundations for buildings. These grew steadily newer in construction, and soon Nighthand was walking down a street of a town.

It grew so realistic that Nighthand could believe that there were once people living here. Though there was nothing on any website, manual or anything that mentioned such a place. He closed his eyes. It was almost as if he could hear the people, still going about their business…

His eyes snapped open. Around him, people moved. In and out of buildings, on down the road. Just like a city in the real world. He tried to talk to one of them, but he didn’t even look at Nighthand. He walked on. Nighthand stepped in front of one, figuring that he would have to at least acknowledge his presence, but the person walked on. Right through Nighthand.

Then he realized. None of this was real. The people were somehow memories that were left here, in a program seldom run.

The people did not appear for Silverblade. He’d seen them as Nighthand he knew their story. No reminder was needed.

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:03 am

(This post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:26 PM)

“Do you truly know the story?”
“Oh, it wasn’t real in any case. I guess it doesn’t matter.” He said to himself.

“You believe that?” came a voice from behind him.

He spun, his blade halfway from his sheath on instinct before he remembered there would be no threat here. Behind him stood Verona, in her green dress, with her hair the colors of spring and autumn, her spear held loosely in her hand.
He spun, his sword drawn and ready. But then he put his sword away. The source of the voice was a little girl, dressed in green, with sapphire blue hair and eyes.

“I do, yes. I was here when Arra spoke it to Nighthand.”
“Well, are you real?” he said.

“But do you understand it?”
“No. We were.”

“Of course. I know all Nighthand does.”
“What happened?”

“So you can pass the Seraph’s Test?”
“The Game.”

“What do you mean?”
“What do you mean?”

“I mean your test. The reason you are here, were compelled to be here. You didn’t think that it was your own choice to come, did you? No, you are freed from your bonds with Nighthand so that you might be tested in the way he was. “
“This. The World was not meant to be a game. It was made to be a simulated reality. But for some reason the program was altered, and it became what you now call the World. But what you see around you here is all that’s left of what it was meant to be.

“For you see, a group of people decided to use the game for it’s original intent. They formed a small reality here. A few of them had enough hacking skills to create this special field. The people tracked down the original sixteen, and brought them here. To make sure they were never disturbed.

“But it came to an end. The sixteen lost to something, and players began to come. One by one, the inhabitants fled the city, until none remained. The society collapsed.”

Silverblade listened to the explanation. It seemed odd, that he would be brought here to pass a test he had already passed.
Nighthand stood passively during this, listening. It all seemed a little stranger than it should be, coming from a little girl. He said nothing.

“Can you pass?”
“Do you believe in your soul?” the girl asked.

“I did once, didn’t I?”
“What? Yes, I believe the soul exists.”

“Can you pass?”
“Do you believe in your soul?”

He paused.


“Then come this way.”
“Then come this way.”

Verona walked off, following the street Nighthand had taken so long ago to enter the Soul Shrine.

“The penalty should you fail is death, to you and Nighthand.”
“This is the Soul Shrine. Enter, if you truly believe.”

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:04 am

(This post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:27 PM)

Nighthand walked to the doorway. The walls on either side were heavily carved, etchings of random images. Nothing of any import, so he proceeded into the darkness.

The walls, the deeper he went, began to glow softly. Not enough to live by, but enough to make out most of the corridor. And corridor it was, stretching down and down, into the earth.

The corridor was different than before. It was smooth, utterly and completely smooth. The walls as he went deeper began to shine with reflected radiance. They were polished to a mirror-bright surface.

Finally, the corridor ended in a small chamber. In the center of the room was a pedestal. On the pedestal was a circular slab of rock. Inset in the rock were six jewels. Each glowed its own unearthly color. Opposite the entrance was the archway leading on, but it was blocked by another stone slab. This one was too large to move. There was nothing but a blank face. The rest of the room was bare.

The room he stepped out in was a mass of twisted reflections of himself. Mirrors of all shapes and sizes, all patterns, many fractured or faceted, surrounded him. He saw no exit, no solution. This was certainly different from before.

Suddenly, an image appeared. It was a likeness of one of the statues outside in the plaza. It was Gott, the heavy blade.

A likeness of one of the Twelve appeared, Maken, the Male Long Arm.

“Only one of the reflections is truly you. Pick this reflection, with haste and certainty. The penalty of indecision, or of failure, is death.”

Silverblade could only stare in wonder at the myriad of reflections around him. How can I possibly do this? This isn’t my body, how can I tell if there is something wrong with the reflections?

Suddenly he was struck with an idea. He would break all the mirrors. All the mirrors with obviously flawed reflections would be destroyed, and he could narrow down his search.

He drew the blade he forgot he had, the Life Sword.

Nearest to him was a reflection of him, almost comical in its fatness. He swung a casual blow, sufficient to shatter the fragile mirror.

Rather than shattering, the reflection was cut. A bloody gash opened up in its side, while it didn’t react.

Silverblade, however, DID react. He felt the pain of the reflection as if it were his own. Body he’d cut. He doubled over, clutching his hand to his side, while the reflection stood over him, its blank eyes gloating.

Silverblade, enraged, lashed out at the horrid image. His foot slammed into the apparition’s gut, once again with no effect. Silverblade felt it once again and doubled over, his breath knocked out of him.

Calm down! You’re not Nighthand, you can think rationally about this. You could kill yourself hitting the mirrors. His inner thoughts taunted him.

Blindly, he forced himself to calm down. He forced himself to think about it.

He stood, shakily, and wandered around the reflections. They always faced him, making it hard to remember where he was. All around him were twisted version of himself, ever-changing. Almost-exact replicas of him, stood side to side with warped and twisted visages. Too many images. Too much to take in. Silverblade’s mind reeled. He lost his balance and fell over. The apparitions towered over him, gloating, laughing at his doom. He reached out with his last ounce of anger and grabbed the leg of the nearest one, one of the ‘close-replicants’, and threw himself into it with all his might.

Abruptly, all the other reflections disappeared. The one in his grasp morphed into an image of Zeit, and nodded to him.

“The way is now clear”

As he slid the final jewel into place, the click was louder. The six gemstones pulsed, and flared. The words he had written merged, and stretched into on long line to the center. Then each gem drew a line in one direction, connecting it to the gem clockwise from it. Now all connected, they began to rotate around the central axis.

They spun, faster and faster, until they were just a disk of light. There was a sharp crack, and the stone slab exploded into a cloud of dust. Nighthand covered his face, waiting for the dust to settle. When the air had cleared, the gemstones were back where he had found them, and the way ahead was clear. He moved on.

Dazed, from flashbacks and pain, Silverblade somehow managed to stand, to walk on to the next room.

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:05 am

(This post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:28 PM)

In the next room, there was a rack of weapons. There were six weapons, all lined up against the wall. In the center was a wheel, the spokes were carved hands.

The people that appeared in this room were all six of the female characters. They all stood on a spoke of the wheel. None had their weapons.

“Give us our weapons.” They said as one.

Nighthand first inspected the hands. They were identical. The only thing that was different between them was a pair of letters on each wrist. He looked up, but the people images had disappeared. He went to the rack of weapons.

The next room was, in contrast, orderly. Along the wall, a myriad of globes of pulsing colors sat in orderly precision.

To his side, an image of Sero and Core, the male twin blade and heavy axeman, appeared.

“Make the two into one, and the path shall open. Fail, and die.”

Silverblade stood dumbly at the lights for a few moments. There didn’t seem to be a time limit, but something told him he should hurry.

Of course, the first thing he noticed was the number of different colored lights. Six colors. They corresponded to the elements. He would have to be careful to merge compatible lights, and make sure to get them all.

He grabbed the nearest, a green orb the size of his fist. Wood. He looked over and spotted a bright red orb, and brought it to him with his power. The orbs were nothing more than condensed energy, perfect for his talents to manipulate.

He merged the fire and wood orbs into one.

A picture of a forest burning invaded his mind, strongly, as of he was there. Flames hurt his eyes, licked at his skin. Heat invaded his body, forced sweat from his pores. Smoke filled his nose, and he coughed harshly.

The image lasted only an instant.

When he opened his eyes again, the image was gone. So, too, were the orbs he had used.

Intuition told him fire and water would not be a good idea to combine. Like matter and anti-matter, their forced collision could cause the annihilation of them both. NOT something he wanted to experience firsthand.

He called the rest of the remaining red orbed to him, held them a moment. They were beautiful, like fist-sized rubies, more brilliant that the flames that made them. He set the orbiting around him, and called a few others selectively over.

First a brown, for earth. Then a golden-yellow, for thunder, and finally an orb of the blackest night. He held the six orbs suspended around his body, braced himself for the images to come, and merged the earth and fire.

Volcano, erupting. He was coated in lava, choked by the smog, enveloped by the heat. Then it was gone, leaving him gasping and on his knees.

Pressing on, he merged fire and thunder. Pain shot through him, like his blood flashed to vapor. He doubled over, weeping.

“One… more…” He called to himself, his voice cracked and parched. Gritting his teeth, he slammed the fire and darkness orbs into one.

He was wrapped in black flame, held like the coils of a great snake around him. It burned worse than the Taimudan’s blasts. It clinged, and he could not brush it away.

He opened his eyes, and managed to focus on the far wall. There, a fire glyph burned on the doorway. One down, five to go.

He pulled power from his Life Sword, casting an Ol Repth on himself. The refreshing feeling of healing washed over him, but nothing could wash away the memory of that black fire.

Pulling two orbs at random from the walls, he hurriedly crammed them together. Green and Black merged, and he was in a forest once again. This one was beautiful, lush, open. An excellent night sky hung overhead.

Then one by one, the stars winked out. The trees withered and died, and the moon went black. All the animals were terrified, fleeing, dying and putrefying before his eyes.

Then he was back, the stench of death hanging in his nostrils. He shook, silently, at the horror in that flash.

He claimed a wood and water orb, the last remaining wood orb, and once again orbited himself with the power.

Wood and water merged, and he witnessed firsthand a flood tearing away everything, leaving nothing but a field of mud.

On the door glowed a wooden glyph.

He slammed an earth and thunder globe together, and was rewarded with a flashbang to rival the explosion of a planet.

Earth and water combined to leave him breathless, rescued inexplicably from a crushing mudslide.

The Earth Glyph lit.

Thunder and water found him in quivering as electricity passed through him, discharged in the water like a blast of force unrivaled by modern bombs.

Thunder lit the doorway.

Water and Darkness were all that remained. On the edge of sanity, on the edge of life, Silverblade slammed the pair together, forcing himself into the bottom of the deepest ocean, where the crushing force of water and the utter blackness left him still on the floor.

Darkness and Water lit, and the door rumbled aside.

Once all of the hands had their weapons, the arms lifted, revealing a passage further into the earth. He descended.

Silverblade dragged himself to his feet, stumbled through the now-open door and into what he knew would be the Seraph’s chamber.

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Post by Nighthand » Wed Apr 20, 2005 4:05 am

(This post originally posted Jan 14 2005, 08:28 PM)

The room he came upon next was very large. More of a cavern than a room. In the very center was a huge statue of the Seraph. Made of solid rock, it looked ancient.

This time it was Kiltran who appeared. He simple said one word.


Then the images of all sixteen appeared. One by one they fly into the statue. One in the left arm, one in the right. One in each wing, of the six on it’s back. One in each leg, left and right. One in the head, and three into the torso. That left only two, the male and female Long Arms. They turned into living energy, and merged. They formed a long spear, the size that the Seraph would use.

As the energy infused the statue, it took on a more fleshy tone. It became flesh. It came to life.

And if Kiltran was true, he had to defeat it.

In front of Silverblade stood the Seraph, fused with its parts, held its spear out towards him. Beside him, Kiltran faded out, the echo of his single word lingering in memory and presence.

The Seraph advanced. Nighthand had underestimated the size of the room. It was even larger, and so was the statue. It towered over him.

His life sword in his hand, Silverblade tried a cursory attack on the statue. He knew it wouldn’t work, but he had to try.

His sword stopped, and rebounded sending a shock through his arms. It was as if the thing was still made of stone. He jumped, already charging his sword with fire. At the apex of his jump, she shouted.

“Vak Drive!”

He came down in a powerful chop on the foot. Upon impact, his sword again stopped. His blow was powerful enough to crack a guardian in half, but it didn’t even chip the Seraph. His arms cracked, sending wave after wave of searing pain into him. Than, as if that wasn’t enough, the fire energy was repulsed by the Seraph, going back into him.

That is not what you want extra energy to do. Especially if it’s fire.

It was a blinding pain. His entire body felt burned, like his blood was on fire. He collapsed on the ground, unable to move.

Silverblade’s Gan Drive did the same thing Nighthand’s Vak Drive had so long ago. The energy rebounded, slamming him across the room. He Repthed himself, and stood. His mind and body worn, panting, he tried to think, to focus.

The Seraph looked down on him. There was no expression on its face, but it was as if it pitied him. He looked away. It brought its spear down at Nighthand. He raised his sword to block, and it was knocked out of his hands. The spear struck him, sending him crashing into the wall. His sword lay at his feet.

Silverblade tried to dive from the path of the Seraph’s spear, but he wasn’t fast enough. It crashed into him, sending him flying.

After another attack, again failing, Nighthand just couldn’t get up. He just lay on the ground, praying for a swift death. He had no more sp for repth, nothing to recover him. He was prepared. Prepared to face the end.

He struggled to stand. If he was going to die, he didn’t want to do it on his face. He wanted to see the final blow. With leaden arms, he lifted his sword, to block the final strike.

The strike came. There was no hesitation. Nighthand blocked it with his blade. The sword shattered, and the spear crashed into his body. He could feel ribs breaking, puncturing organs.

Silverblade had no time. The spear slammed into him again, its heavy tip driving through his shoulder. The tip broke off, pinning him to the wall. The Seraph, its power undiminished, restored a tip to his spear.

The Seraph was too powerful. There was no way to win. He had come here to die.
The Seraph was too powerful. There was no way to win. He had come here to die.

He bowed his head. His blade dropped from his grasp, to clang hollowly on the floor. This was it. His end.

He resigned himself to death. After all he had been through, this was it. No one would know. None of his friends would know where he had gone, what had happened. He would die, and the rest would live. Soon he would fade from memory, and be left forever lost.

His friends. He wouldn’t even have the chance to say goodbye to his friends. He would never see them again. His friends in the real world were also lost. His father. He would never be able to see his father again.

As Nighthand’s thoughts spiraled downward, the Seraph stood, silently watching him. It was almost is if it was reading his thoughts.

His friends.

HIS Friends


Nighthand felt an energy grow inside him. He felt it mending his bones, healing his limbs. He stood, healed and ready again. Except for one thing.

His sword lay shattered on the ground.

Hope began to enter Silverblade’s mind. Weaponless, perhaps the Seraph’s power would miss him as it had Nighthand. His mind flashed back to that time, faster and faster, seeing the scenes played out before him.

Thus resigned, he walked to the Seraph. It still stood, calmly watching him. He looked up at it, and spread out his arms to the side.

“Kill me, Seraph. I cannot win against you. I am resigned to my fate. Kill me.”

There was a long moment, then the Seraph raised its spear. It swung down in a sideways slash. Arms still spread, Nighthand prepared for the impact that would take his life.

He felt the spear touch his side. But he felt no pain. He opened his eyes.

The spear had gone by. It had passed through his body, causing no damage, no pain.

He was still alive.

Silverblade saw that same spear hurtling for him. He closed his eyes, praying that it would pass through.

Pain erupted over his body. The spear shattered inside him.

He cried out in agony, slumping but unable to fall, pinned to the wall as he was. The Seraph’s spear reformed.

It was then he saw the flashback, again. And again. Somehow, it was more real. Each time it ran, it seemed to grow more tangible. Until finally it was.

Nighthand turned and stepped out of himself, walking over to where Silverblade stood pinned, while the scene played over and over in the background. He smiled up at Silverblade, his eyes unreadable.

“You’re losing your hope.”
“I have no hope.”
”You can do this as I did.
“You had friends, will, to call upon. I am merely an apparition, a figment.”
”You are more. You are part of me.”
“I am not! I am a separate being!”

Pain erupted again, as the Seraph took another swing. He coughed, and saw blood trickle to the floor.

”You can do this.”
“I can’t! I’m not you! I’m different!”
”Submit to your nature, and you will be spared.”
“It is not my nature! I was created-“
”Created in my likeness.”
”Lose yourself, Lose your life.”

Silverblade was about to speak, but then he noticed. Blood, seeping from Nighthand’s mouth. His eyes opened to the scene for the first time. He realized, every time he had denied being part of Nighthand, he had been struck by the Seraph. Not only himself, pinned to the wall, but the copy of Nighthand in the flashback. For each denial, Nighthand had died.

”Six times I have died for you.”
“You… Give your life for me? An apparition? A digital copy designed to leech your power and kill you?”
”Because you are me.”

The vision disappeared, and Silverblade looked up. His gaze met the cold eyes of the Seraph as it, for a final time, brought its spear slamming into him.

It passed through.

He looked up at the Seraph. It shook its head, and took a step backwards, so it was in the center of the room. The spirits of the sixteen left it, and it returned to stone once again. The sixteen gathered in a circle around him. One by one they spoke, all saying parts of the same passage, making it seem as if there was only one person talking. While they spoke, his wounds were healed, and he was unpinned from the wall.

“You have searched your soul, and come up with the reason you still live. The Seraph cannot claim the life of one who knows this. The Seraph congratulates you. You have won.”

The sixteen disappeared, and Silverblade looked around. There was a doorway on the pedestal the Seraph stood on. He walked to it, and the gate opened as he approached. Silverblade stepped through and found himself on the outside. He was back where he had started, outside the Soul Shrine.

Verona appeared again, her spear nowhere to be seen.

“You have found your meaning. Now, come with me.”

Together they walked, to the Altar of the Seraph. Its mirror-bright surface showed an image of Nighthand and the group, still in the field where he had left.

“Watch. You will not be able to affect the battles, but you will be able to return once it is over.”

“Thank you, Verona.”

Silverblade watched, with rapt attention, at what he was.