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Somewhere Lost...

Post by Nighthand » Wed May 12, 2004 8:19 pm

Where… Am I?


Who… Am I?


Light… I need light…



The stranger to the world opened his eyes, but he wouldn’t have known it. All around him was darkness. Darkness, blackness, stretching on as far as the eye could see. Or COULDN’T see, in this case.

The stranger lifted his arm. He could see it, though there was no light to illuminate him. He seemed to float in a void, no up or down, just black. He raised his head, and looked down at his body.

“Silver…” he said, noting the color of his armor to himself. “Silver and white.”

A stray strand of hair caught his attention. He grabbed it, pulling, thinking to examine it closer. A pain in his head told him it was his own.

“Silver…”

Suddenly, he spotted something on the edge of his vision. Turning, he saw a single speck of white in the distance. This light, more a spot of white than a light source, gradually grew larger. Others appeared around him, growing, dividing, merging... the effect was something akin to painting the world white.

Now standing in a white room, the stranger looked around. Black lines drew themselves around, adding definition to the whiteness, showing that it was a cube. More lines appeared, drew themselves around, forming walls, pillars, ruins all around him. Color spread, the ruins a flat gray, the sky a solid blue, the ground brown. Lines appeared, turned green, grass covered the ground. More lines, dots appeared, shading, shadows, clouds, all the little effects appeared making the room more realistic.

The room completed, the stranger looked around. Trees swayed in the wind, his hair ruffling to the side. The sounds of water trickling in the distance drew him, the first sound to reach his ears.

Following the sound on the wind, the stranger came upon a pond, with a small stream feeding into it. Looking into the clear waters, he could see his own face reflected in it.

“White… White eyes…” the stranger muttered to himself.

”You are the Silver Blade, are you not?”

The stranger turned, at the sound of an even stranger voice. Before he saw her, he could already tell what she looked like. Long flowing red hair, a red silken gown trailing along the ground. Even her voice was red.

Turning, he saw he was right. Her eyes, set lightly in her perfect face, seemed to slow a soft crimson. He looked deep into those eyes, and could tell, could feel the power behind them. She was akin to the succubus of legend, her beauty so radiant to hide the evil behind it.

And she was evil. He could sense it in her. Despite the kind and offering expression on her face and posture, she had nothing in those eyes.

“I might be… Who are you?”

“I…” she curtsied, something… odd, coming from her. “I am Fiona. One of your servants, if you are indeed him.”

“Fiona…” the name meant nothing to him. “Well, I’m not sure WHO I am, at the moment. Bring me to… wherever it is I’d live, perhaps some memories will return.”

“As you wish, my lord.” She turned, and walked off through the ruins, disappearing into the nearby forest. The stranger followed, keeping her in sight.

After a moment of traveling through the forest, he came upon a large clearing, a meadow, with a small pond, fed by a trickle of a stream, and a house.

A large house.

More a mansion, actually.

The stranger’s eyes lit up. The building seemed familiar, somehow. It struck a chord inside him. He felt… home.

Inside the building, the furnishings were astounding in their elegance. The colors were many and varied, such that when Fiona came to rest in a plush red couch, she seemed almost to fade into it. This prompted him to look closer at the other furniture.


“Fiona… how many of you are there?”

“Six, my lord.”

“Rise, then, and come to me.”

Fiona rose from her sofa, and walked to his side.

“All of you, I say.”

Five more women, all alike save for dress, rose and walked up, surrounding him. One by one, they curtsied and introduced themselves.

“Winia.” A woman dressed all in blue, eyes of deep sapphire, and hair an unnatural shade of cerulean.

“Inara.” Blonde, dressed in a saffron gown, with odd golden eyes.

“Kiora.” Straight black hair, and eyes of an Asian set. Black , or a very deep brown, dressed in a jet gown.

“Seria.” Chestnut hair, and matching gown, eyes of an odd brown, practically glowing.

“Verona.” Odd colored hair, reds and browns and greens, the colors of the trees. An emerald gown, and eyes to match. She, perhaps, was the most unique of them all.

“And I, it seems… Am your master, the Silver Blade.” The stranger spoke to them, looking to each of their eyes. In a silent gesture, they guided him through his home, showing him the memories he had lost.

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Post by Nighthand » Thu May 13, 2004 9:27 pm

The Stranger awoke in his bed, after a long night of remembering. Things were coming back in full, memories, of who he was. How he had found the six girls as toddlers, had taken them in. How he had raised them, schooled them, and trained them to be warriors in their own rights. How he grew to love them as his own daughters.

Days passed swiftly, his life returning to full swing where he had left off. Day after day after blissful day he spent, hunting the woods, training the girls, and wandering. The more he explored the grounds, the more he liked his keep.

He owned quite extensive lands, miles of untamed forests and wilderness, plains that seemed to stretch out endlessly, farms that produced more than they could eat. Animals prowled the forests, monsters that threatened them, but he was well prepared. One thing he had NOT forgotten, it seemed, was his innate ability with a very large sword.

He wandered the forests for days on end, roaming farther and farther from his manor, until he started packing supplies for the trip, enough to last several days, a week, more. He found places he had once loved, the joy of discovery alight in his eyes, as everything in his world was new.

Always on his trips, one or more of the girls would accompany him. It didn’t worry him, they were excellent fighters, and he could easily understand not wanting to lose him again. He was, after all, a father to them. A beloved father, they wouldn’t bear to lose again.

Overall, he enjoyed himself. His time in the wilderness was like time spent in Eden, and returning to the manor was heaven itself. Nothing could compare to the feeling of love he had when he returned from one of his jaunts, to find the four or five girls that had remained anxious for his presence.

It seemed like his blissful days would never end, that nothing, NOTHING could take this away from him again.

This is so wonderful… Fiona and the others love me, I have a perfect house, a great estate… all is as it should be. Nothing can take this from me, I won’t let anything that close.

But a nagging suspicion, a fear, crept up on his thoughts.

But… Something managed it before. Something took me from this once… Erased all my memories, of before and then. What if that Something comes again?

He resolved to ask Fiona and the others about it. Fiona was the first to come to mind. She went out of her way to make him happy. She was almost like the lead girl. She would, likely, tell him everything. Not that the others wouldn’t… she was just his first choice.

He approached her, later that day.

“Fiona?”

“Hmm?” She asked.

“What was it… That took me from you, the first time?”

“The first time? What is something after you again?” Fear filled her voice.

“No, no. I mean that time. What was it that pulled me from this?” He gestured at the room, in its casual opulence.

“I… I don’t know, my lord. Just… One day, we woke up, and you were gone. At first we weren’t worried, maybe you had slipped out for a midnight jaunt… but when you didn’t return, we grew worried. We searched, the whole of the estate, looking for you… But we never could find you. Then we felt hurt, that you had left us. I knew it wasn’t true, but others, they thought…” she sniffled, and the Silver Blade felt a pang inside them to have caused something like the hurt they must have felt. “They thought you had abandoned us. It took me some time, but I convinced them otherwise, that you would never leave us. Then we realized you wouldn’t have left under your own power, so something must have gone wrong. Something must have… Taken you, pulled you from us. We wanted to help, somehow, but without knowing where you were, there was nothing we could do. So we waited, and searched the grounds daily. It was two years… but we finally found you again.”

Joy flooded her voice as she finished, and a tear ran down her cheek. Speechless, he held open his arms, and she fell into them. He embraced her, comforting her, soothing her fears. It still must hurt her, he thought, to have had me disappear like that.

Then suddenly a thought struck him. Completely unprovoked, and with nothing to back it. Almost like a faint whispering, a voice in his head calling warning to him. He felt uneasy, like something was wrong, but he couldn’t put his finger on it. The whispering voice grew, and he made out one single word. A name. Arra.

The voice was so full of fear, of pain, that he couldn’t bear to have it intruding on his sanctuary. He squelched it, but not before its damage was done. Fiona had stopped crying, and he released her. She turned to go, to help her sisters prepare dinner, when he stopped her.

“Fiona… Who is Arra?”

For an instant, she looked as if death itself had taken her. Her entire body froze; she stared off in the distance. But then she was back to normal, so fast what he had seen could almost have been a dream.

Almost.

“Arra? I… I’ve not heard that name before.”

She smiled sweetly and turned, off to prepare the meal. Mentally sighing, and pondering hard, The Silver Blade followed, his thoughts taking him over until the meal was served. Then, once again, he lost himself inside his paradise.

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Post by Nighthand » Mon May 17, 2004 2:51 pm


“Nighthand…”

“Nighthand…”

“Nighthand…”

The persistent whispering echoed through his head.

“What do you want?” he screamed at the voice.

“Nighthand…”

“Who is Nighthand?”

“You…”

“Me? I’m the Silver Blade, not Nighthand!”

“Nighthand…”

Darkness swirled around him, rising from the ground, descending from the air. Tendrils wrapped themselves around his limbs as he tried to fight. Kicking and punching, wishing he had his sword, he fought with all his might. But every defense he had, the darkness broke. Every attack, it avoided. It was like a living being, like the demons spoken of in legends, come to drag him to the underworld. Finally, he could fight no longer. The darkness closed in on him, touching his skin, digging into it. His flesh burned, his nose and ears bled, his eyes burned. Senseless, he ran for the closest sanctuary, the cool waters of the pond. He was about to dive in, but the darkness got there first. It touched the water, transformed it into a pool of dark power, then hardened. Smooth, hard as rock, the pool was now filled with polished ebony. The Silver Blade gasped, seeing himself in the mirrored surface. His stunning Silver eyes were no longer the noble color they had been. Now, empty black orbs gazed back at him, showing no emotion, betraying nothing. He fell to his knees, unable to fight any longer. He tilted his head back and screamed…


The Silver Blade woke, gasping for breath. Winia knelt at his side, holding his hand, gently shaking him. It was her that had broken his dream.

“Winia…”

“My lord, you were thrashing and screaming something awful… what happened?”

“Its nothing, my daughter… Nothing to be worried about…”

“Are you sure, my lord? I mean…”

“I’m sure.” He interrupted her. “Now, since it looks to be close to morning, shouldn’t you be off with your sisters to make breakfast?” he smiled at her reassuringly.

She smiled back, a twinkle returning to her eyes. Rising, she hurried to the door, and, stopping to smile at him again, she disappeared around the edge. Once she was out of sight, the Silver Blade sank back into his bed.

“Such a dream… Where could it have come from? Nighthand… Arra… I feel I should know these people… but what are they?”

Shrugging to himself, the Silver Blade rubbed the sleep from his eyes and rose, to dress himself for breakfast.

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Post by Nighthand » Thu May 27, 2004 3:19 am

For the third night in a row, the Silver Blade tried not to sleep. His dreams were growing worse, not just a whispered voice and the darkness. He was seeing faces, figures, whole people, he knew he should know, but their names escaped him. Haunting eyes, grasping hands, and dark powers reached for him in his sleep, and he could do nothing to avoid it.

Nothing except stay awake.

But the lack of sleep was wearing on him. His mind was sluggish, his movements and reactions slowed. He wouldn’t be able to deal with it if it continued much longer.

---Two days later---

Walking down the hall from lunch, the Silver Blade carried a tray of snacks to Verona. She had gotten sick, the previous day, and was nearly bedridden. He could have given the snacks to one of her sisters and had them delivered, but he wanted to do it in person. He liked Verona; she was different. Shy, sometimes hesitant, and in general very different from her sisters. He wasn’t sure what he had done in raising her that had made her turn out differently, but he certainly was glad for the variety.

Unfortunately, her differences made her somewhat of an outcast from the group, scoffed at by the others. The Silver Blade didn’t like what her sisters did, but he couldn’t do anything about it. They were too engrained in their reactions. Instead, he was careful to show her a little extra kindness, to let her know she wasn’t hated.

“Nighthand.”

The Silver Blade stopped. He recognized that voice, but it wasn’t one of his daughters. It was someone from his dreams.

“I’m not Nighthand.”

“You ARE Nighthand. None of this is real.”

“It IS real. I don’t know you, I don’t WANT you here, and least of all do I want to leave here.”

“Nighthand, it’s time you came back to ‘The World’ with us.”

Tensing for a sudden attack, he turned, to see who was talking to him.

“Arr…a… his voice stuttered. The tray of goodies fell from his hands, clattering on the floor. His vision wavered; he was suddenly looking at a pastry, no idea how he got to the floor. He blinked, and his eyes wouldn’t open again. His mind shut down, and he blacked out.

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Post by Nighthand » Thu May 27, 2004 1:24 pm

Darkness, surrounding him. Not the painful darkness that enveloped him in his dreams, but rather, a softer kind. Its tendrils caressed his flesh like the softest silk, but seemed to weigh upon him. A power unrivaled, but bearing a heavy price.

He felt almost at home in that power… At least until he realized who he was.

He opened his eyes to the darkness, and he saw himself reflected in it. No, not a reflection, a separate person, a twin. But there was a difference… The twin had black eyes, the eyes he had in his dreams.

“Who ARE you? He asked, fear making his voice weak.

“I am you, Silver Blade. I am Nighthand.”

“I’m NOT Nighthand! How can you say I am? This life, these girls, they prove it!”

“They can just as easily be created, altered, changed, as anything else in this world.”

“No! They’re real, I know they are!”

“Indeed, you know they are. Just as I know you are Nighthand. I know, because I am trapped inside you. These girls aren’t real.”

“How can you say such a thing? I raised them, they are real!”

“Think for a second, will you? What did you know when you came here? Nothing! You SAW this world created before your eyes! How can you NOT realize it’s false?”

The Silver Blade said nothing.

“Think on this, remember it well. I will come back to you, and you WILL remember.”

Nighthand disappeared, wrapping the darkness around him like a cloak. The Silver Blade shook, curling up, the confrontation too much. He prayed to return to consciousness, to end this horrible dream.

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Post by Nighthand » Fri May 28, 2004 1:57 am

Deep inside the Silver Blade’s Mindscape:

“Nighthand, what are we to do?” asked Arra, her form that of a woman matching his age.

“Arra… I don’t know. He doesn’t want to listen to us, Gravis has too much control over him.”

“It’s the sisters, I know it is…”

“Yes, it’s them… He’s playing on a weakness I didn’t know he had. Is there any way we can affect the sisters from here?”

“The twelve can… but they’re weak here. They’re concentrating on Verona, she seemed the weakest programmed of them all… But they’re not making much headway. As for you and I… There’s really nothing more we can do, besides keep up our whisperings.”

“I was afraid of that… This could take a long time.”

“Thankfully, here in Gravis’ domain, time has no meaning. What we’re seeing as hours, days, the rest of the world sees as seconds. When we DO finally act… We’ll have to take that into account, and act quickly.”

Nighthand sighed. He wanted nothing more than to return to his friends, but here he was, trapped in a hacker’s domain… No clue how he got here, other than it being a random attack. Something he SHOULD have been able to fend off, had he been aware. But caught as he was, he had nothing he could do but go.

While there, Gravis had let slip a few bits of information; Enough that Arra could piece together his plan, his identity, and a few other tidbits of information.

Nighthand, it seemed, had a vast amount of power left unused. Gravis, one of the lower-ranking members of the hacker coalition he had been fighting all along, wanted to tap this power for himself. Nighthand, under normal circumstances, would have EASILY defeated the fledgling hacker, but unfortunately he had been weakened by the duel with Scythe, and was distracted enough that this caught him. Gravis, his trap sprung, sent in his AI girls, in an attempt to flood Nighthand’s mind with romance, love, lust, and passion, and keep him trapped in the realm while the hacker could use his power.

His first miscalculation was Nighthand’s already fragile mind. Without the support of the darkness all around him, and deprived of his familiar weapon, Nighthand’s mind was in unfamiliar territory. When the hacker placed a mask on him, changing the color of his eyes, and threw a group of seductive and beautiful women at him… His mind knew it wasn’t right. But a large enough part of him thought that he would be better off staying in the domain, that his mind split. Nighthand, trapped inside, wanting escape, and the Silver Blade, taking command of the body.

The second miscalculation the hacker made was Nighthand’s inherent nobility, his chivalry towards people. When confronted by six beautiful women that loved him, he couldn’t see how it could be. So instead of making them a harem, or whores, he made them into his daughters. The hacker had to hastily reprogram them to handle this, but unfortunately they hadn’t made any large slips.

One more thing the hacker hadn’t counted on was Nighthand’s presence. That, and the fact that when he was in trouble, he called to a select group of AIs, friends he had met throughout his travels. Arra, the woman next to him, was the first he had met. She was keeper of the soul shrine, a testing ground. She usually never appeared outside of the soul shrine’s field, and when inside, she took the form of a small girl.

Nighthand glanced over at her slim figure again. She seemed not to notice his gazing, but he didn’t care either way. She was beautiful, not in a lustful and provocative way like the sisters outside, but in a nobler, subtle way. He realized, once again, that he had grown to love her like a sister through his time knowing her. Sometimes, he wanted to love her more than that, but he knew it would be a mistake.

The twelve she had mentioned were another group of AIs, replicas of the first twelve players of the game. They were more or less under Arra’s command; they too hailed from the soul shrine.

The other AIs, Shard the Cerberus of shadows, and the SDRP, had disappeared for the time being. Whether they simply couldn’t access this field, or were busy in troubles of their own, Nighthand couldn’t say.

“I hope we can do this…” he said to Arra.

“As do I. For if we don’t… We’ll be trapped here forever.”

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Post by Nighthand » Sat May 29, 2004 4:20 am

“News, Nighthand.”

Though neither of them had moved, each had sent out their consciousness around, looking for anything that could help.

“What is it?”

“The twelve have converted Verona’s programming to our wishes. That’s why she was sick and declining, to the Silver Blade. She’s at full strength, but will ‘act’ sick until we need her. Unfortunately, Gavis already knows, or will soon. And… We have no way of getting you in control of the body, not fully, until either you are united in thoughts, or he is incapacitated.”

“How can we take him out?”

“If you can knock the body unconscious, I can keep him there.”

“Verona.”

Arra nodded, and the plan was set.

* * *

“Where am I?”

“You’re here in your bed, Verona.”

“Silver Blade? Is that you?”

“Yes… It’s going to be okay, you’ll be fine.”

“I feel terrible…”

“You’ve been sick…”

The Silver Blade stood, and walked to the window. Throwing open the curtains, he gazed out on the courtyard. Verona waited, then slowly, carefully, slipped out of bed. In her hand was a vase; she had stashed it there the night before. Raising the heavy clay vase above her head, she brought it down with a crash on his head.

* * *

The Silver Blade felt a crack on the back of his head. It was the last thing he expected. It was also the last thing he felt. His body went numb, and he collapsed on the floor. Shards of pottery dug into his skin, but he couldn’t feel it. His vision wavered, he saw Verona standing above him, the remnants of the vase in her hands. He tried to call out to her, to get her to save him, but his voice wouldn’t work. She looked down on him, a satisfied and concerned look in her eyes. That was the last thing he saw before control of his body slipped away, and his vision left him.

* * *

Gavis heard the alarm bell through his headset long before anything happened. Interesting, that someone could penetrate his sanctuary. He watched, but he could find nothing outward, until suddenly Verona, one of his AI creations, knocked out the Silver Blade. A quick read showed the fallen player in a coma. Nothing he could do but wait… But Verona… She was a different story.

“Sisters.” He called through his headset. They instantly stopped what they were doing, save Verona. “The time has come to use your strength. Verona has gone rogue, and intends to kill your master. Kill her before she can.”

His order sent, Gavis signed himself off for the night. He would see how it played out in the morning. He was confident that the five sisters could take on their rogue member.

* * *

Inside the mansion, Verona ran for her life down the hallways. She feared she had hit her master too hard, but the voices in her head said otherwise. They told her she had done the right thing, that he was soon to be back. But they gave her little comfort.

“Verona!”

She stopped dead in her tracks, barely a foot inside the ballroom.

“Seria.” She said, and she knew she would have to fight.

Instantly Seria raised her hands above her head, chanting in an odd voice. Wind sprang up, kicking dust around that hadn’t been there before. It seemed like nothing, until Verona noticed all the dust was rising, but none settling. She glanced up, just in time to see a large rock form over her head and drop. Leaping to the side, she narrowly avoided it. Acting on her gut feelings alone, she raised her own hands above her head. The air above her wavered, and a spear suddenly dropped into her hands.

Surprised by the sudden appearance of the weapon, Seria’s next attack nearly caught her. Again she leapt out of the way in time, but the rock shattered when it hit the ground, spraying her with fragments. The razor-sharp rock sliced into her skin, stinging much more than a simple cut should. Her spear began to glow, a soft green color, and she dove forwards.

Skill she didn’t know she had came to her, and she rolled up to Seria, rising with her spear to slash at the woman’s chest. The blade scraped her clothing, tearing in half. She leapt back, a blade in each hand. Flipping in the air, Seria kicked off the far walls and ran, charging with blinding speed at Verona, the remnants of her overshirt fluttering behind her.

Verona sidestepped at the last second, sending her spear tip lashing out at her speeding foe. Again it caught cloth, slicing a gash in the woman’s dress drawing a thin line of blood on her thigh, just above the knee.

Seria gasped, and leapt backwards. When she landed, he foot caught on the cloth of her dress. Her eyes widening briefly, then narrowing as a plan caught her, she used her blades to slice the rest of the long dress off. Shrugging off her torn overshirt, she stood in a shift and a pair of panties, her blades held ready in front of her.

Verona normally would have been shocked at the blatant disregard for decency, but she knew why her sister had done what she did. She fought to win, to kill Verona. If she had to tear off all her clothing and fight naked in the snow, she would, if it meant a better chance at victory. The heavy and trailing cloth of the torn dress was little more than a distraction at best, and a fatal misstep at worst. It was discarded.

Verona too shed her clothing, slicing a line around her thighs and shoulders. Now clad in the makeshift mini-skirt and tank top, she held her spear before her, ready for what her sister would bring.

Ahead of her, Seria’s blades began to glow a deep brown color. Running ahead, she leapt over Verona and backed up, slamming into her sister’s back at full speed. Together they tumbled, Seria coming out on top, and rolling to her feet. Before Verona could move, her sister struck out with her blades to sever her neck.

Twisting to the side, Verona felt one of the blades nick her neck. It stung again, pulsing in time with the other cuts she had received. She knew she had to end this quickly, before she lost all her strength to her sister, and thus, her life.

Rolling to the side immediately, she didn’t give her sister any time to draw her blades from the ground. Lashing out with a kick, she caught Seria square in the jaw, sending her reeling backwards. Leaping in the air after her, she came down with her spear aimed for her sister’s chest. Seria gasped, the cold steel blade sliding between her breasts, lodging in her heart. The spear in Verona’s hands glowed green, and flared, forcing Verona to close her eyes.

When she opened them again, her wounds were healed. On the ground, pinned by her spear, was the tattered cloth that used to be worn by Seria. Behind her, two daggers made of stone seemed to be melted into the rock of the ballroom floor. There was no sign of her sister.

Verona collapsed, sliding down her spear and kneeling on the floor. Her wounds may have healed, but she was still exhausted. That battle had taken nearly all her strength. She only prayed that Nighthand would wake before another sister found her.

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Post by Nighthand » Sun May 30, 2004 4:07 am

Nighthand opened his eyes, and the first thing he noticed was pain.

The back of his head ached like none other, and his eyes hurt from the sudden exposure from to the light. His back hurt in several places from where the shards of pottery dug into his flesh. His arm was cramped from the odd position he had fallen in. But all that was to be expected.

Standing up slowly, he got the bearings of his surroundings. Gavis hadn’t been too smart; he still had his Magnifier, as well as his armor. Drawing his sword, he immediately sensed something amiss. There was a battle of opposing elements taking place somewhere in the manor.

He ran down the hall to the ballroom, following his senses until he arrived.

Inside, he spotted the remains of Seria. Past the scraps of cloth was Verona, his ally. She looked up as he entered, relief washing over her. He nodded to her, letting her know it was him and not the Silver Blade returned.

Just then, the door on the far end of the room burst open, and the other four remaining sisters entered. Dashing in, Nighthand put himself between Verona and the others. He glanced back, saw her struggling to her feet.

“Go back to the hall, I’ll keep them busy.”

She nodded, and did her best to exit the room. Nighthand kept his word, and she escaped the room unaffected.

“So. Gavis has sent you after her.”

“Correct, Silver Blade. But, seeing as you are protecting her, we’ll have to kill you too.”

Nighthand knew this didn’t make sense with the orders Gavis had given them. He likely had used the Silver Blade as the reason they were after Verona. But, Gavis’ orders were law to them, and they could not disobey. He would have to fight them to the death.

Not that it would be too hard, of course. With his body once again under his control, his powers would flourish.

The first of the girls to approach him was Fiona, the fire elemental. This one would be a bit of a challenge, since his current primary attacks were fire based. But, she was only human… and the fire turned back would consume her just as readily as him.

“Come at me, then.” He taunted her.

Now she revealed her weapon; a magnifier, twin to his own. She too was a heavy blade, it seemed. Smiling to himself, he wondered grimly if they could have been friends under different circumstances. Namely, that she was real, and not a copy of himself in a different gender.

She leapt, performing the typical Calamity attack. He stood his ground, easily parrying her attack, throwing her to the side. She went sprawling, tumbling to the corner.

From his left, Inara, the thunder elemental lunged. She rotated in a blademaster’s revolver attack, and he laughed to himself. Sticking out his blade, he caught hers dead still. Grinning, he twisted and flung her off to the side as well.

The pair retreated, ready for a more planned attack. As one they ran, swinging head on from opposite sides. Two attacks, twice the power, should have knocked him back. But it didn’t. Stopping both their attacks, he dove forward and rolled, coming up in time to catch Fiona in the beginnings of a fire spell. Exactly what he had planned.

He closed his eyes, letting her charge her spell, subtly changing the energies of that spell. She grinned and cast it, and he opened his eyes and smiled. The flame tornado washed over him, nothing more than a pretty light.

Her eyes widening at his seeming invulnerability, she upped the ante and threw more energy into the spell. Again he changed it, making it unable to harm him. Finally, she threw out all the stops, charging up the energy needed to cast a level three spell.

Inara saw something was wrong when Nighthand didn’t move to cover himself, and dove behind the doorway, shielding herself and her other sisters.

Nighthand again closed his eyes, watching the energy she pulled through her channels. As the spell neared completion, he threw her channels open wide.

This, in itself, would be incredibly painful. Like having your arm ripped off a thousand times, but inside your head, where you could do nothing about it. That was if she was at rest.

Now, as she drew fire through that channel, she could do nothing but watch what happened. The energy, already flowing through, saw its path suddenly wide open, and it began pouring itself through her, a raging torrent of flame. Her body couldn’t store that energy, especially dealing with the pain it was already in. the energy had nowhere to go but out, using her as the channel.

Nighthand once again twisted the energy, and it washed over him, doing nothing to anything else in the room except Fiona. Her body was incinerated within seconds.

Nighthand calmly walked to the door the remaining sisters had exited from. Unable to contain their girlish curiosity, even though they weren’t real, Winia had pushed the door open a crack to see what had befallen their sister. He kicked the door open, reached in, grabbed her by the throat, and threw her into the open. The other two, Inara and Kiora, were crouched just behind her sister. He grabbed them as well, and threw them to their sister.

The three re-grouped, crouching in guard positions. A bit smarter than their late sisters, they didn’t want to be killed as easily.

Nighthand sensed his time was drawing short. It would not be long until Gavis returned, and saw what had happened. Then, HE would step in, causing no end to the trouble.

Nighthand tensed, shifting his power into speed. Time around him seemed to slow, as his senses heightened to match his metabolism. Leaning slightly forward, he broke into a run. The sisters hardly seemed to flinch before he was standing in front of them. He grabbed Kiora, flipped her over his leg, and sent her tumbling. Shifting his momentum, he elbowed Inara in the side of the head, the speed of his blow sending her flying. Winia had made it to her feet, and was swinging her wavemaster wand at his head. He grabbed it, twisting, her arm snapping under the stress. She cried out, and he kicked, her ribs shattering under the speed of the blow. He swung his sword as he ran, following her trajectory. Once he overtook her, her stopped and swung, shifting nearly all his speed into force.

His blade sliced her cleanly in half.

His speed shifted to strength, he raised his blade and slammed it into the ground, shattering the flagstones around him. His control was perfect, and it was just enough to shift the ground under the two remaining sisters, making them stumble in their charge against him. Shifting once more into speed, and dashed in between them, clothes lining them with his arms.

Kiora began charging a spell, just what Nighthand had been waiting for. For she was the sister of darkness, and darkness was his

He smiled, and took hold of the dark energy pouring into her, and ripped it out of her. Her body split apart, the energy slicing her flesh to ribbons. The energy in his grasp made the room darken, and he spun, concentrating it into his palm. And open-handed slap on Inara’s shoulder poured it all into her, her natural thunder element enhancing the damage it dealt. Her body became a red haze, then a cloud of data.

Nighthand shifted his attributes back to normal, and righted himself. He closed his eyes in a silent prayer for the lives he had taken, be they real or false.

“My Beauties!” cried a voice from behind him.

Nighthand’s senses showed the owner of the voice to be male. Gavis, come to exact his vengeance. The voice had an aura similar to one he had fought before.

Seraphim.

He remembered the duel he had with the wavemaster so long ago. It had been hard, for the player had hacked his weapon and armors, to have control over the elements, combine spells into more powerful dual spells. Nighthand had almost died in that battle, but he was much stronger now.

“Gavis, you don’t give me enough credit. I defeated Seraphim, what makes you think that I won’t defeat you?”

“N… Nighthand? How did you regain control?”

“I have my ways, pathetic hacker. My powers are mine, you shall not have them.”

“But… But I’m more powerful than that weakling Seraphim. I’ll win, you’ll see.”

“Hah. You’re even less of a fighter than he was. On top of that, you’re copying his powers. Powers which I can easily counter.”

“You’ll see! I’ll win! You’ll see!”

Nighthand sighed and turned. Gavis started casting a spell. From what Nighthand could sense, Gavis’ channels were all merged into one. He drew all of the spell types at once, creating a spell of level seven power, made out of all six elements.

“Gavis, you annoy me.”

“Die, rodent.”

Nighthand felt Gavis release the spell. At that critical moment, he was defenseless. Nighthand instantly caught the spell, and forced the energy back to where it came. Encountering the energy of itself moving out, it reacted explosively as each energy found it’s opposite. Gavis stood no chance.

The hacker’s body started to glow, and he screamed in pain. But Nighthand missed a small side to the attack. Tendrils of the spell came at him from the sides, and he barely turned them back in time.

AAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Nighthand’s mind reeled at the force of the scream. How he had done it, Nighthand didn’t know… But Gavis, as he died, had caught Arra in his attack.

Images flashed, pictures depicting Arra’s fate. When the pain of the spell hit her, the spell meant for him, she retreated to the Soul Shrine. The circle of the Twelve SHOULD have protected her, but the spell had already struck. Her body turned to stone, her artificial mind locking up, freezing her in a moment. Her scream was the last thing she did. Now, she was a statue in the Soul Shrine, sitting at the feet of the Seraph statue.

Nighthand turned all his rage and pain at Gavis, but his body was gone. There was nothing left of him to kill.

Nighthand’s mind reeled, and he lost his balance. His body hit the floor, and all went black.

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Nighthand
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Post by Nighthand » Wed Jun 02, 2004 12:28 am

Where… Am I?

Nighthand opened his eyes, half expecting to find himself back inside the Siler Blade’s mindscape, back in imprisonment. The sight that met his eyes was a very different, and somewhat reassuring, image.

He lay on a pad on the floor. The floor itself was made of a light wood, sanded smooth. The walls were clearly of Japanese origin, cloth stretched over wooden frames. The roof was similar. The small room he was resting in was empty of furnishings, accessories, and other occupants.

He sat up, finding that his armor and weapons had been removed. Everything was unequipped in his inventory. Coming lightly to his feet, he cautiously moved to the door. Sliding it open a few inches, he peeked out.

He seemed to be in a very small pagoda, situated on a small island. Outside was a small rock garden, designs carefully traced in the gravel. There was a single figure sitting in the garden, on a large rock in the center. A path of stepping stones led to it, so that the patterns in the gravel need not be disturbed.

Nighthand closed his eyes. The player out there gave off no aura. He seemed not only to have no elemental affiliation, but not weapons or armor equipped. Moreover, something told Nighthand he wasn’t an enemy. Opening his eyes, he used the more conventional game status screens and revealed what seemed a mistake, or a very ironic statement. It called the player before him Rock.

Nighthand immediately felt concern and hope. Rock was the name of his father.

Straightening his clothing around himself, he slid the door silently open and padded his way out across the stepping stones to take a seat next to the character.

For some time neither said anything. Nighthand simply watched the waves of the ocean beyond, for once not caring about anything else. It was with sadness that the silence was broken.

“It’s been a while, Halvin.” The character whispered.

“So it is you. I’d had my doubts.” Nighthand replied.

“Yes… I’ve been watching you, for a while now. You know your body is in a coma?”

“Yes. But… What are you doing here? And where is here, anyways?”

“Here is a place I made. You remember I was a hacker in my youth, right?”

“Ah yes… I see now. So you’ve hacked a place to watch me from?”

“Not only that… I’ve hacked you as well. The powers you hold are my gifts.”

“Why don’t you join us in the fight? A hacker like yourself would be useful.”

“I can’t risk it. I need my screens to hack efficiently, and if I somehow got caught like you… I’d not only be near defenseless, I’d be much weaker and slower than the rest of you. I’m not exactly young any more.”

Nighthand nodded, seeing the sense in his father’s words.

“Since you’ve been watching me… You know about Arra, and Shard, and the others…”

“Yes.”

“What happened to Arra?”

“She’s frozen. The program locked up. I’ll work at her, but it’ll take some time, and I may need you to get some things for me.”

“She was the guardian of the Soul Shrine. With her gone… what happens to it?”

“Verona.”

“Verona?”

“Yes. When you and Arra converted her, Arra foresaw some danger in the situation. She knew the shrine would be vulnerable, so she added a bit to Verona’s program, making her a backup guardian. Of course, there was always the chance that both of them would be killed, in which case the shrine would hide itself. But for now, Verona is an able keeper, and Arra is not dead.”

“I will do all I can to help free her… can I see her?”

“Yes…”

Rock stood, and Nighthand stood with him. Chaos rings, not the usual gold, but silver and black, covered the pair, and the scene around them changed to that of the familiar Soul Shrine.

Nighthand was immediately greeted with the smiling form of Verona, as she ran up and hugged him. He held her for a moment, then stepped back to see Arra.

There she was, a statue like the rest in the courtyard. Without speaking a word, he knelt at her feet.

“I will free you, one day.” He said simply, and stood, turning to the others.

“I’ll spend a few days here to recover, then leave… I hope you will stay with me?”

“I’ll be here always.” Verona answered.

“I’ll be in and out… a guy my age has to sleep now and then, you know.” Rock said.

“Yes… Thank you both.” Nighthand turned, and walked off into the forest to think.

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Grand Finale

Post by Nighthand » Thu Jun 03, 2004 2:08 pm

Nighthand sat in the forest, eyes half closed, seemingly staring into the trees, focusing on something no one else could see. He wasn’t, however, caring about what was outside.

It had been two weeks in the Soul Shrine. He had explored the forest far and wide, finding streams, ponds, everything that a real continent would have. He climbed mountains, walked beaches, but nothing seemed to put him at ease.

For all that he wandered, his mind was elsewhere. He concentrated on his inside, gently healing himself, thinking things through. His mind was more stable, the hazardous plane of his mindscape slightly less chaotic. But there was still one section that was walled from his view, a place he couldn’t enter. He spent his time gently probing that shell, finding its cracks and holes.

He hoped to either kill or lock away the occupant, the Silver Blade.

Now, he was alone, far from the more important parts of the Shrine, in case something happened. He intended to push the shell, do all he could to annihilate it.

He stood on a small rocky platform, one of many floating in the chaotic dark space around him. Above, behind, below, more identical platforms floated. Some still, some moving. Some collided to form bridges, some spun wildly, breaking things apart. In front of him was a wall of silver. Low luster, more like burnished steel. This was the shell the Silver Blade had put up.

Nighthand already had circled the wall, top and bottom, all around. He had identified all the weak points, and all the fracture lines.

For the last week, he had been forming his own barrier. A tight weave of power, threads thin as cobwebs but strong as steel. His own shell, enclosing them both. He intended to kill the Silver Blade, but if he couldn’t, he would seal him in. and if he lost, he would keep them both in. It was a high risk gamble, if he lost, they would both never be seen again.

He added another small strand to his shell, sealing it completely. Only he would be able to break it now. And even then, it would be hard.

Preparing himself, Nighthand made a wedge of power, balancing its tip in a weak point of the shell in front of him. Mentally, he could feel more form over the other weak points, all of them, ready to close in. He took a deep breath…

…and slammed the breakers home.

There was an instant of noise, as his power creaked against the physical image of the shell. Then silence… nothing seemed to happen. Then, abruptly, hell broke loose.

The inside of Nighthand shell exploded in a fury of energy, darkness and light clashing. Screams, shrieks, crashes, an unimaginable din filled his ears, a physical force striking him. Winds flew by him, rocks carried by on the force.

Nighthand mentally pushed, and the forces buffeting him stopped. The sound was gone, but the images were still there. It was like standing on a giant movie screen, with the sound turned off. Nighthand peered into the images flashing by, and saw, in a bubble of serenity, a clone of himself. He seemed at peace, laid out as if in death. Nighthand intended to make him stay that way.

Immediately he started forming another wedge of power, this one more akin to a ballista bolt than a wedge. Holding it above the still clone, he pumped all the energy into it he could. This would be the start and end.

Power. Such power, close. Reach out… Touch… DANGER!

The Silver Blade’s eyes shot open, his body sprang into motion before Nighthand could react. Arm up, wall of power, redirecting his power into the ground.

Earth sprayed up from the impact, and both fighters took cover on opposite sides of the fountain of dirt.

He must be killed, before I can leave!
He wants me dead. I’ll fight!

The twin fighters sprang at each other, the massive spray of earth slowly returning to the ground. Around it they circled, until they could almost see each other.

Use the earth. Grab and twist, shove it at him.

A spray of rocks and dirt changed course, heading for the silver fighter.

Earth. Dodge, parry, strike with wood.

Suddenly the fighter moved, dodging the earthen column. He rolled, coming up with a branch in his hand. He threw, and it expanded, split, grew. Hundreds of logs flew at the dark man.

Wood, counter earth. FIRE!

The logs burst into flame, many exploding into vapor, more into fragments, some merely turned aside. The dark fighter leapt, running with all his speed along the falling logs, seeming to hang in still air for him. Each log he left, he kicked, sending it flying back at it’s originator. Flaming orbs struck the ground around him.

Fire, fast. Dodging ineffective, shield water.

A wall of water formed around the player, immersing him, keeping him safe from the burning logs striking all around. A log hit the shield dead on, the fire on it instantly being snuffed. It slowed, the shielded player stepped out of the way almost casually.

EXPAND!

The globe of water rocketed outwards, knocking aside the oncoming logs, striking the dark player with all it’s force.

Water conduct. Thunder.

A beam of solid lightning shot from the sky, straight for the dark player. He caught, twisted, and sent it into the water. The water sizzled as the power poured into it, flashing to a boil. The light player expanded the water from his skin, collapsing the barrier and letting the water dissipate. Thunderbolts shot from the sky, striking all around him, then twisting, zipping by him like lasers.

Thunder, Darkness. Darkness for him.

A dome of solid darkness appeared, enclosing the light player. The thunder wielded by the dark player glanced off it harmlessly, but he didn’t care. That much dark energy from nowhere wasn’t to be trifled with. But it was his.

Darkness, my strength. He can’t win.

He took hold of the dome, making it solid and compressing it, tightening it around his opponent.

Darkness… Hard, enclosing. OPEN!

Much to the dark clone’s surprise, his shell quivered then cracked. An explosion blasted outwards, shards striking him. He felt the cool power of darkness absorb into his skin, but it came with a sting.

Darkness and Thunder, allied?

He snatches a fragment, held it in front of him for a look. Sure enough, the powers of darkness and thunder were fused, working in concert. The silver man hadn’t broken his dark shell, he had fused it with his own and made it a bomb.

“WHAT ARE YOU?” Nighthand shouted.

“I’m you!” came the reply.

Nighthand looked, saw the Silver Blade below. He was in the center of a maelstrom of energy, all elements represented. Nighthand saw his opportunity. He could manipulate not only the spells, but the energies behind them, meaning this chaos of power was his to command.

Taking hold of each power, he slammed a cord into the SB. He shook, the power entering his body too much for him. He screamed, and NH was sure of his win.

”NO!” the SB’s scream blasted through both sound and thought.

The cords in him rotated, writhed like a power gripped them. They flew together, merged, became one golden beam. With immense pain, the Silver Blade gripped the cord, cutting it off from its source, leaving it just a pole of gold buried in his chest. He took hold of the end, pulling it from his body like a blade. In fact, a blade was just what it was. The golden pole formed a more weapon-like shape, a scimitar. it shifted, becoming longer, a katana. It continued to stretch, a long flowing cord coming out of the handle. The pure golden weapon formed, a heavy blade of epic proportions.

“The Goldstorm!” shouted the Silver Blade, surprised that he held it before him. It was a blade made of legends.

Nighthand had no idea what it was, but it seemed somehow familiar. He didn’t care, though. The blade would disappear with it’s user.

He reached out, taking hold of the energies around him. He formed himself a sword of his own, made of pure Fire. He ran, a quick slash at the Silver Blade.

Slash, parry.

The Goldstorm sliced cleanly through the fire blade as if it didn’t exist. If anything, the shine of the blade grew.

Nighthand leapt back, taking hold of water and wood energies, forming a pair of small blades. He rushed in.

Jab, Jab. Parry, cut.

The first jab, blocked but the Goldstorm, disintegrated the wood blade. The water took him in the side, slicing along his ribs. Nighthand again leapt back. But this time, the Silver Blade was ready.

The long golden whip on the end of the Goldstorm lashed out, taking him across the chest. Nighthand screamed, as pain form all the elements rushed through him, the small darkness only amplifying it as it drew in, the sting of the other elements linked to it. Instantly, Nighthand understood.

“You! You’re just like Seraphim, just like Gavis! You control the elements, to merge them!”

“And you, manipulate them all solely. A worthy power.”

“Worthy, but not as good. I’ve lost, but we’ll never leave here!”

“STOP!” commanded the Silver Blade. The pure force of the command halted Nighthand in his suicide lunge.

“Your power may be only able to ouch one element at a time, but it is as formidable as mine. I cannot control the flows as easily, it pains me to do so with but one element at a time. You can’t combine them, but using singles you can perform faster.”

“Why tell me this? Neither of us will leave alive.”

“I offer a truce.”

“Truce?”

“Truce. Our powers are not opposites, they are compliments. If we work together, we can wield them both. Together.”

“Truce…”

“We are, after all, the same person.”

That decided him. Nighthand sagged, his energy nearly gone. Feet from him, the silver blade smiled, and fell to his knees, the Goldstorm breaking into its component elements, vaporizing.

Nighthand chuckled. So easily he could kill the helpless player before him. He still had that much power left. But his energy would be drained; he would never leave this place. Besides… The Silver Blade had offered him more power. And Power was one thing he would not deny.

That power would be his, in time. He had but to assimilate the Silver Blade back into himself. That would take time, a more subtle plan. And Time was something he would have.

Nighthand closed his eyes, reaching out and pulling the string that unraveled his shell. His mind inside closed off, and he opened his eyes in the world again.

“And thus it is done.”

Outside, barely five minutes had passed, the speed of the two warriors was that great.

Nighthand stood, but felt a resistance. Half his body didn’t seem to work. Instantly, he knew the problem. He dove back in.

“Silver Blade, know that you are the second, the younger. This body is mine, more than yours, and I will command it. Besides, my power is better for the low-levels of use. I’ll call on you when needed… But for now, I am in command.”

The silver blade nodded, relaxing completely. “I’m not used to this draining… I’ll rest here until you need me.”

Nighthand once again returned to his body. Now it moved completely under his command. He was whole again, or as much as he could be.

One thing struck him, though, as he left. Shard and the SDRP had not made an appearance in some time… They were nowhere to be found.

Nighthand stood, walking slowly back to the Soul Shrine. He would rest. He sorely needed rest.

Back in font of the Seraph statue, he knelt at Arras feet. Her child body frozen in front of him made him wonder. Was it the Child he loved and wanted to protect? Was it the Woman he had met in his mind, he loved and wanted to be his? Was it the ages-old mind behind the form that he loved like a mother? What was it about her he loved?

Nighthand closed his eyes, his mind going blank.

Sleep…

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Post by Cypher » Fri Jun 04, 2004 12:06 am

Your rewards will be posted in the duel.
Wishlist: Ends of Earth (11 BM), Black Sharp Angel Wings, BM Swords (Rare/Common)

New sig coming soon!

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