There comes a time in every man’s life, when he must face his demons.
I fainted in front of mine.
After walking for several hours through the icy Highlands, we had barely covered ten miles. Though, the fact that our journey had been reduced from ten thousand miles to one hundred was also to be taken in consideration.
I didn’t have the faintest idea as to how that happened. Gia was as clueless as I was. Therefore we had to follow the assumption that the tornado had thrown us thousands of miles away, almost in vicinity of our destination.
Then, after thinking about it for a while, a vivid image flashed in front of my eyes, and I remembered what actually had happened. The cold-fusion generator of my sword was active on the Predator, and I realized that the sword had been the cause of the tornado.
I had to reluctantly tell Gia about it, since I felt guilty.
“So you’re saying,” She said slowly, as though talking to a five year old, “You’re sword generated that tornado.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“I hope not”
“But Zade-” She began, but I cut her off.
“I know how weird it sounds. Tyson said only Thanatos could activate the cold-fusion generator. And I know he said that the vortex of air it would generate would be a lot smaller than what we faced. But Gia, I clearly remember Shadow Blade glowing. It couldn’t have been a co-incidence.”
She looked down, worried, though why, I didn’t know. Then I realized, I had mentioned Tyson.
“Hey,” I spoke as soothingly to her as I could, “Tyson’s going to be alright.”
“It’s not that,” She spoke very quietly, “I was just thinking, from what I know, that blade,” she stopped, and took the sword from me, “only activates in the hands of a person with cryokinetic abilities.”
She paused abruptly, and looked at me.
Then it hit me.
“I don’t think-”
I didn’t get a chance to finish, because all of a sudden, the ice behind us shattered, and from inside it, several Siauhu emerged, all with riders on their backs.
The one standing in front of them, obviously their leader, seemed hungrier, almost bloodthirsty. It took me a moment to realize, but it was exactly the same as the one I had encountered the first time I woke up in the Highlands. Except, of course, that one was dead and half blind. This wasn’t.
On its back, dressed in a green jacket and black camouflage pants, was Ray, the leader of the Valdorians.
“Hello, Zade,” He greeted coldly, “What a coincidence. And young Gia, too. Your father will be so pleased to have you back, wont he now?”
Gia narrowed her eyes, and brandished her staff. I followed her example, and brought out my sword, and held it towards the Valdorians.
The Siauhu growled aggressively.
“What the heck are you doing so far away from your stinking little hole?” I spat.
“Put away the sword, young man,” One of them at the back said, “Before the Siauhu eat you up.”
“In your dreams,” I replied, “Unless they want to follow the example of their friend.”
“You think you scare us,” Ray questioned. “All of us can easily bring you down before you could move a muscle, so I suggest you put down the blade, Zade.”
Behind him, more and more Valdorians were appearing, and as many Siauhu as well.
“We’re outnumbered,” Gia spoke softly in our ear, and I could sense the anger in her voice, but I figured she was being logical. Truth be told, I didn’t think I could take all of them down either, even with Gia to support me. Still, I couldn’t just give up.
That’s when I made the huge mistake of looking into the eyes of the Siauhu in front of me. Those brilliant purple orbs seemed to tear into mine, and for a moment, they remained like that. Then suddenly, they turned yellow, and I lost all feeling in my body.
I slumped to the ground, with the sword slipping from my fingers. I heard Gia scream, and the last thing I saw was Ray, looking at me, with a smug look on his face.
“So much for a hero,” He chuckled, and everything went black.
“….Wake up….WAKE UP!”
I opened my eyes, and once again, I saw Gia’s face inches above mine.
“This has got to stop happening,” I muttered, “Before it becomes a habit.”
Gia punched me in the stomach, and it hurt a lot.
“Why did I faint?” I asked a bit fazed.
“Everybody knows that the Siauhu can induce sleep by looking into someone’s eyes,” She said, “You could’ve slipped into coma and slept off forever.”
“But that didn’t happen so-” I stopped. I had tried getting up, but I couldn’t. I felt ropes around my chest, tying me down.
I looked around. I was inside a room, with Gia sitting on the floor, right beside me. Her cuffs were shackled, and chained to the wall at the other corner of the room.
“Where are we?”
“We’re still at the same place. The Valdorians set up camp here, and they even sent search parties for our friends.” She spoke quietly, and I noticed a deep mark on her face, as though someone had…
“Who hit you?” I tried not to get angry, but my blood was pretty much boiling.
“Don’t worry,” she said, “I’ve had worse.”
What kind of childhood had Gia had? I didn’t have the faintest idea. All that time, I was focused on myself, I didn’t actually consider about Gia, or anybody else, for that matter.
I remembered that Gia and the others had run away from Valdore because they were treated brutally. But how brutally, I didn’t know.
“For now,” she said, “We have to get out of here.”
“How?” I asked, “We’re chained.”
“I have a plan.” She said, “After every two hours, a woman comes in to check on us. Now that you’re awake, you’ll have to trip her, since my legs are tied.”
“Okay,” I said.
We waited for that woman to come in. After several minutes, she finally came, and I pretended to be unconscious.
“When Ray gets his way with you,” she was saying, “you’ll regret leaving Valdore, you little-”
She said words so filthy, I chose that moment to open my eyes, and trip her up on her face. She fell hard, and when she tried getting up, and banged on the side of her head with my foot.
She went under easily.
“Thanks,” Gia smiled.
“My pleasure.” I took the sword onto my feet, then passed it up to my hands, which were kind of free, and used it to first free myself, and then Gia.
Both of us stood up, and she gave me a peck on the cheek, and I blushed.
Well, not bad, eh?
We took our equipment, which was in the other end of the room.
These Valdorians were starting to seem like real morons.
“So, Zade,” Gia began, “What do we do now?”
“Easy. Find Ray. Stab him. If possible, get hold of a Predator or a Scavenger, and be on our way.”
“Yeah,” she said in a sarcastic tone, “real simple.”
“Well, what do you think we should do?” I asked.
At that exact moment, several armed Valdorians rushed in. Leading them was a man I had never seen before. He was not very tall, about as tall as Gia. He had beefy arms, a large beard, and green eyes. He held a pure black staff in one hand, and a whip in the other.
“Our leader demands your presence!” He barked.
“What does he want now?” I retorted. In response, he took his whip, and lashed it onto my arm. Instantly, it was bleeding, with the blood spilling on the floor.
“Zade!” Gia rushed towards to check on me, but the man grabbed her wrist, and pinned her to the wall. Some of the other Valdorians got hold of her.
“Move it,” He shouted, “NOW!”
He took the sword from my hands, then Gia’s staff, and then, unexpectedly, banged my head against the wall.
I started seeing spots, but I kept walking. We exited the room, where we emerged into the icy fields, now under the storm black clouds and glowing ground.
We kept walking, passing various other building. For a camp, it was pretty solid.
Finally, we reached a building, composed of nothing but icy stones. There was a platform near it, about six feet by six in area. We climbed into it, and it hummed. We were instantly heading up. It reminded me so much of the HQ building back at Valhalla, it made me kind of homesick.
Homesick is pretty strong word, but home was the only word I could use to describe Valhalla.
We found ourselves on the top floor, being rushed forward by the still anonymous man. The floor was almost as big as the conference room of the HQ building, and I realized it had been purposely created to resemble the building.
The top floor was about a hundred meters above the ground. Ray was there, standing at the edge of the floor. A couple of guards stood beside him, watching me as I headed towards them.
Ray turned, and his face lit up.
“Why, I thought you were never going to wake up, Zade.”
“Shut up and tell me what you want,” I replied, and instantly, I felt someone whack my legs. They started bleeding, and I crumpled to the ground.
“Now, now, Joseph,” He chided, and the man from earlier came forward, his whip stained with blood.
“Now, I allowed you to punish your daughter over there,” and my mouth fell open in shock.
No wonder Gia ran away. With a parent so abusive, who wouldn’t? I realized at that moment that it was her father who must’ve given her that bruise on her cheek. My blood boiled with rage, but at that moment, there was nothing much I could do.
“..But you don’t harm Zade over her.” Ray continued.
Joseph grinned, and walked towards Gia. He stood behind her, keeping her bound.
“Now, Zade,” Ray addressed me, “How about showing your powers to us?”
“Give me my sword, and I’ll give you a personal demonstration.”
“Oh yes,” he said, “It’s good to have it back, after some incompetent nitwit lost it in Valhalla. Now, show us your powers.”
“I don’t know about them.” I wasn’t lying, but I wasn’t telling the truth either. By now, I had a fair idea what they were, but if Ray got to know, or for that matter, anyone did, I’d be killed.
“So maybe you need a motive,” He stated, “Maybe a physical stimulation.”
He motioned several of his guards to move in. All of them punched me, kicked me, threw me to the floor, but still, I didn’t feel any sort of powers emerge.
“Wow,” He said, “What a waste of our time!” He spat on the ground. Near him, I noticed that the blade was glowing, but apparently, nobody else did. If I could just…
“Okay, then. I have an idea.” He spoke with an edge of craziness.
He motioned for Gia to brought in front of me. She was brought, and thrown to the ground. I could see the tears in her eyes, and I wanted to rip Ray’s head of, then Joseph’s.
Joseph came forward, with the whip in his hands tingling, and I realized it was electrically charged. I realized what was about to happen. Joseph’s eyes gleamed, longing for punishing his daughter for running away from Valdore.
I still didn’t think he would hit is daughter, but then, he did it. He brought the whip down on Gia’s back, with a sick ‘WHAP’ sound. I could see her crying, her tears dripping on the floor,the look of hopelessness on her face.
Everything broke loose
I don’t know why, but I thrust my hand out, like Elizabeth and Cameron did in our training sessions. I felt something stir inside, something monstrous, but I decided that Joseph wasn’t to be left to live. He was way too evil for that.
I aimed my hand at Joseph, and yelled, and then my whole body shuddered, as an icy beam emerged from my hand, enveloped in tendrils of darkness, and shot straight towards Joseph.
He gave out a cry when he was struck. His entire body turned to ice, and suddenly, shattered.
Ray's face was pale with shock, and so was Gia's.
Overhead, huge clouds gathered, swirling downwards. I didn’t know how, but somehow, the Shadow Blade flew straight into my hands, glowing with brilliance.
The building crumpled, and I caught Gia, while the rest of them jumped off. I levitated in mid-air, and let Gia go, as she landed safely on the ground.
The last thing I remembered was raising the sword, and then a massive tornado made of shadows descended from the clouds, covering the entire camp, and unleashed its destruction.