Requiem of Souls Chapter 15

Shadowed Souls

By Artificer Urza

It is said that dragons are the harbingers of death and destruction, this may or may not be true; however, the fact remains that, regardless of whether they look for it or not, trouble tends to follow a dragon wherever it goes. Trouble has come and though it was not looking for a dragon it found one. In the mountains overlooking the Urkan City, the cloaked figure stood, beside him a dishevelled, decaying, hybrid monstrosity shuffled beside him.

"The wretched lizard is here, I can smell his foul blood on the wind... And this time he shall be mine." Shax cackled. "Now go, destroy him, break him, tear him apart. Do not rest until he is worm food."

The shambling creature bowed and burrowed into the earth leaving its master. Shax spread his hand before him, before his vision of the city. He made a fist, as though he would crush the city from his lofty position.

"Kill them all if you have too, as long as he hurts, as long as he suffers, as long he BURNS. Fuhuhuhuhehehaha HA HA!" Shax laughed maniacally, visions of a burning city dancing in his broken mind.

*******

Ryu, Gaist and Garr entered the city of the Urkans, hot tired and sticky from their week in the desert patrolling for monsters. The sight that greeted them was not comforting at all: people ran this way and that, searching and were in a general state of panic. In what seemed a mass search of some sort, Jasmine spotted the trio and rushed towards them, hugging Ryu when she reached them.

"Ah... I missed you so much. I'm glad you're okay!" She exclaimed, though there was no way to be sure if she spoke to the whole group or if her concern was for Ryu alone.

"Nice to see you to Jas." Gaist said, his face full of concern for the city and its people.

"What's going on here, did something happen while we were gone?" Garr asked voicing all their concerns.

"The day after you left, the well dried up. That wasn't a great concern; we still have a great supply of water, but just today, all the children have vanished. Everybody is looking for them." There was no doubt that she was desperately worried as she recounted the events.

Ryu pondered over her words, he'd heard them before he was sure of it.

"Something wrong Ryu?" Gaist asked.

"Nothing, just a little deja..." Ryu began.

A memory hit him; he was standing in another city before a young woman who was in tears.

"First the well dried up, then the children disappeared in the well and on top of all that there's a demon in the well." The memory woman said.

"...Vu." Ryu finished, coming out of his memory dream state.

Ryu pushed Jasmine off of him, not in an aggressive manor, but in a hurried one, and ran off towards the well.

"You guys get Gaw, I'm heading for the well... Bring weapons!" Ryu shouted back as he ran.

He got to the well quite quickly, his frantic look had evoked some concerned stares from people, but he wasn't paying much attention to them, he had to hurry, lives hung in the balance.

The well was dark, but Ryu could see the bottom, barely. He was focused, searching for something; he knew not what, but he would know it when he saw it. He saw movement in the darkness of the well and he unsheathed his sword. Another small movement from within the darkness and Ryu leapt, jumping into the well.

"BANZAI!" He cried as he turned his sword point towards the ground.

An ant-like creature cried out in pain as Ryu's blade pierced its skull. Ryu's eyes adjusted to the darkness fast and it was a good thing they did; the ant-like Creon surrounded him. There were twenty of them, perhaps more; it was hard for Ryu to see much in the darkness.

"You're ugly!" He said as he threw a dagger he had behind him, striking an advancing Creon.

The monster reared back and shrieked, but a small setback like that was not going to dissuade its brothers from killing and devouring this intruder. Ryu pulled his sword out of the first monster and took a swing at the next that charged him. The Creon was knocked back but not seriously hurt as it and its brothers began to charge Ryu. Ryu in response swung his sword knocking as many back as he could, but he could never last, he was going to be overwhelmed. A Creon jumped at him from behind, there was no way for him to stop it.

"KANUHESU!" (Geronimo) Gaist yelled as he dove down the well, the blade of his halberd severing the attacking Creon's thorax.

Gaist used his Shippu Ken attack to push the Creon back even further.

"You're an idiot... You do realize that don't you?" Gaist said to Ryu.

"I admit that this isn't the smartest thing I've done, but in my defence, I knew you were coming." Ryu smirked.

Ryu knocks more of the insect monsters away with his sword, but even with Gaist's help there wasn't much they could do against the hoard of bugs. At the wells mouth a crowd had gathered, many looking within the well, trying to see what was going on. Gaw and Garr arrived, pushing through the crowd.

"Garr, disperse the crowd and I'll help them down there." Gaw said.

"Right, I'll join you after that's done." Garr replied.

"No you wont, it'll be crowded enough down there without you getting in the way." Gaw snarled.

"I can fight, you'll need all the help you can get." Garr protested.

"You'd just get in the way. Now go, disperse the crowd." Gaw said; the discussion obviously finished from his standpoint as he leapt into the well.

"Yes sir." Garr growled as he went about his task.

As he descended down the well, Gaw cast a light spell, which illuminated the interior. The Creon let out a collective shriek, many retreating into a large hole on a level above them. Ryu blinked seeing that the hole was, in fact, a doorway.

"That's where they're coming from!" Ryu shouted, pointing to the doorway.

Gaw took a swipe with his giant sword, slicing many of the Creon before him and Ryu; he had cleared a path to a ladder to the second level where the door was.

"Go now, we'll take care of the insects." Gaw said.

Gaw swung his sword again, clearing the path again and Ryu charged towards the ladder. Using one hand to hold his sword, he climbed his way up to the next level. As he neared the top another Creon tried to cut him off, literally, at the top. Thrusting upwards with his sword, Ryu was able to kill the insect, piercing the soft shell of its underside. Batting more Creon out of his way Ryu ran through the doorway.

After a short while the corridor widened and actually became brighter. Luminescent moss, on either side of the corridor lit the way. However, that was not what caught Ryu's attention. The moss on the right wall was covering what looked like a mural of some sort and even stranger in his mind was the fact that this corridor was covered in bricks, completely un-decayed or damaged, despite the moisture and water that still remained in the well. He quickly tore down the moss from the wall, to see what was covered. His first opinion had been right: it was indeed a mural. There were nine people in the mural; an ox-man, fish man, a human thief, A woman with a snake tail for legs, a woman with white wings, a forest clansman, a mole clansman, a man with blue hair and a demon girl with many white snake tendrils, whom everybody else in the mural appeared to be attacking. The mural appeared familiar, somehow, to Ryu like he had seen it in a book or something. He could not help but feel that he resembled the blue haired man in the mural, just a bit.

Dismissing these thoughts Ryu continued on and came to an immense cavern with a horrific sight: a huge Terrapin lay sleeping; it was a decomposing, putrid, foul, disgusting, smelly, undead creature. Ryu glanced about the cavern and saw the children, tied up in a web-like substance, but they appeared all right. Ryu crept over to the children and made motions for silence. He cut them loose, one after another making sure they got out. After the last child was set free something above them let loose a fearsome shrieking. A figure plummeted from above landing upon Ryu. The creature seemed a decomposing hybrid between a human and a Creon; it had extra arms, a hard carapace and part of its head was like that of a Creon but it was mostly still human. It reeked of death and disease, Ryu tried to push it off of him, but to no avail.

"Draaaaaagooooon Booooooooy." The thing hissed.

It opened its mouth and acidic drool dropped out form its mouth next to Ryu's head. Then, the great Terrapin opened its large red eye and Ryu despaired: there was no way he could defeat both the monster atop of him and the undead Terrapin. He didn't want to die like this; he couldn't, he still had things to do. This anger, despair and desire to live burned within him and this burning feeling began to increase. His body began to glow and the creature atop him was suddenly thrown off. Ryu could feel his mind slipping beneath a greater power, one he could not control.

In the other room, Gaw had defended the children that had come through the doorway and Gaist still held the monsters away from the rope ladder that Garr had set up, the path was clear for the children to escape. Suddenly the ground shook and all battle with the Creon ceased. The insects seemed afraid and cautious, many of them desperately trying to get past Gaw to what the insects must have thought was safety. Until an inhuman roar sounded from the doorway. Gaw jumped out of the way as the last child ran through and made his way up the ladder. Just as Gaw moved, a powerful stream of water poured forth from the doorway and carried an unconscious Ryu with it. The water decimated, if not flat out killed many the remaining Creon. The water level of the well was still very low, being only a few feet in height and it did not look like any more water was forthcoming.

"What the hell was that?" Gaist said as he looked down on Ryu.

***********

"What the hell is this?" Ryu said as he looked around at his current location.

He was dreaming again, the world about him was a sea of stars and he stood on nothing but air.

"We meet again Ryu." A disembodied voice said. It was male, commanding and sounded as though it came from all places at once. "Do you remember me?"

"You're Ladon, the Dragon God." Ryu said.

"Oh I see: you're the Ryu that remembers everything." Ladon said.

"Hey, could you cut it out with the omniscient narrator bit? I prefer to look at people in the face when I talk to them." Ryu said looking around.

"Are you sure?"

"Yes, I'm sure. What's the problem? What's the big secret?" Ryu said, growing annoyed.

"Big? Yes I'd say that 'Big' is the operative word here." Ladon said, making his appearance to Ryu.

Ryu was in shock as he found himself in the palm of a giant hand. The hand was attached to a giant cloaked figure. Ryu found he couldn't say a word faced with this new situation.

"Well, imagine that... I've shocked the kid speechless, someone alert the bards. As interesting as this is, I can see you need a more manageable perspective." Ladon said as he deposited Ryu on a nearby asteroid in this sea of stars.

Ladon shrank down to a six-foot tall, cloaked figure and was standing before Ryu.

"Is this better?" The dragon god asked.

Ryu responded to this by punching the god solidly across the face. Ladon, in this human-looking form, went sprawling to the ground. The hood of his cloak went back, revealing a handsome young man with brown hair, brown eyes and a melancholy expression.

"Guess not." The god said, wiping blood from his mouth.

"You bastard... Because of you I lost everything; Mother, father, Yua, Katt... EVERYTHING! For you and your damned crusade." Ryu growled.

"Now think about what you've just said..." Ladon said as he stood up, dusting himself off. "Your father's still alive and you came to the Outer Continent to find Yua... As for your mother... she did what all good mothers do: she protected her children. She had the choice and she made the only one she could... As for you, I never asked anything of you as you never asked anything of me, save to watch over you, as a god should. She's manipulating you."

Ryu felt faint and he wondered how he could feel faint in a dream. He put a hand to his head and swooned as he closed his eyes. If he had been watching himself, he would have seen the humanoid mist creature that embraced him. And then, everything slipped away; his anger, his memories and it left only confusion. Opening his eyes he looked around and saw only darkness: no Ladon, no sea of stars or asteroids, only darkness.

"Who is there?" A voice demanded from behind Ryu.

Ryu turned to see an old man in shining white robes looking about. Though the man can see quite well, he was looking about as though he could not see Ryu, his gaze passing over where Ryu stood many times. To Ryu's eyes, there was something sinister about this old man, that he should neither speak out or attempt to approach him.

"Vermin... I know there is someone here and you shall regret following me." The old man said.

Suddenly the old man became liquid flame, melting into the darkness. The flames spread, burning, destroying everything in their path or at least it would have had there been anything in its path. But there was Ryu and the flames consumed him. He could feel himself burning up, burning away. And he screamed, crying out in pain.

***********

Ryu awoke with a scream. He found himself in bed in Urka and Jasmine was in the next room, sound asleep. The sheets had been pushed aside and he was soaked in sweat. He also felt like he was burning up. He got up and staggered to the bathroom. He turned the water on. If he had been thinking clearly he would have wondered where running water came from in the desert. If he had been thinking clearly he might have wondered where this water came from since the well had dried up. As it stood, he was too tried, too hot and his mind was too clouded to think of such questions. He placed his hands in the full sink, to douse water on his face, but he retracted his hands with a cry. The water felt like ice and mist came off of his hands. He looked back at the water and saw it was boiling where it wasn't a moment ago. He looked in the mirror above the sink and saw the transparent face of a red dragon fading in and out, overlapping his own features. He felt tired, as though some great power within him raged to get out and he was no longer strong enough to fight it. He felt his body burning and he cried out before passing out.

Jasmine was awoken, not by Ryu's cry, but rather by some sense that he was in trouble; as though someone whispered in her ear that he was in pain. She got up and looked in Ryu's room, seeing he was not there, she grew even more concerned. Frantically, desperately, she looked in the other rooms, finding Ryu, at last, in the bathroom.

"RYU!!" She cried seeing him unconscious.

She rushed to him trying to shake him out of his comatose state, but pulled away as she burned her hands on his skin. She looked shocked and increasingly worried. Sh ran to the door of her little home and began to cry out.

"HELP ME! SOMEBODY PLEASE!" She yelled.

Gaw jumped from the guard tower and flew down to her. Many lights of many homes turned on to see what the commotion was about.

"What is it? What's the matter?" Gaw demanded.

Jasmine said nothing, her eyes pleaded him to follow and follow he did. When he found Ryu on the ground he too tried to touch the fallen boy. Gaw could feel the heat but he was not harmed by it. He lifted Ryu into his arms and carried him toward the temple.

"Don't worry, I'll make sure he gets help." Gaw said to Jasmine to ease her fears.


Author Notes:
Keith, who is the property of Keith, played the part of Ladon in this chapter.


Chapter 16

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