The Light Wand and the Ice Blade Chapter 14
Razan and Valta sighed in relief, glad to be free of the previous room of twisting pipes, as they entered a new room. Across the bridge that spanned across the room, the two demons could see a flight of stairs leading to the next level down of Malduke.
Both demons walked towards the bridge but as soon as they stepped onto it, they felt it shudder beneath their feet. Bewildered, they looked down and jumped when that section of the bridge collapsed and fell to the void below. But they didnt see it fall as they ran across the bridge, realizing it was a trap.
Valta ran ahead of Razan on all fours as the bridge continued to collapse. Jump! he shouted a warning when he saw a small gap between the bridge and the landing at the opposite side of the room. He jumped and skidded to a halt as he landed near the stairs.
Razan heard Valtas warning. He summoned his staff to his hand and when he neared the gap, he struck it on the bridge and vaulted across the break. When he was safely across, both demons watched as the bridge collapsed entirely.
How many more traps are there in this place? Valta growled angrily as he remembered the first trap they encountered. There were glowing red Xs marked on the floor of a room they had passed. He had stepped on one of them and it exploded. The demon still bore the burnt marks of the explosion on his white fur.
I dont know but at least this trap wasnt as harmful as the first, Razan replied then turned around. Lets go on. Theres no turning back now.
With that said, the wizard marched towards the stairs and climbed down. Valta took one look back at the yawning chasm before following Razan on all fours down the stairs.
None of us had managed to scratch you back at home but weaklings like Zed and Jack did. It seems you have gotten weaker since our coming to this planet. We may even consider a new second-in-command if this keeps up.
If this keeps up . . .
"How does it feel like to be defeated by a lesser demon, by a traitor?"
Humiliating!!! Me! Seth! The second most powerful demon next to Bram, beaten by weaklings!!! That is unacceptable! Next well meet, Ill kill them both!
These thoughts raged through Seths mind as he swiftly dodged Bows arrows, trying to get close to the other demon to end their little sparring match. But the archer was quick with his weapon, keeping his sparring partner at bay.
Bow also had some rampant thoughts going through his head. Like Seth, the archer reflected on the battle two weeks ago and how they had lost against humans. He couldnt fathom how the royals offspring could be so powerful. How could they be when their parents were weak? It just doesnt make sense! If it werent for them, both he and Razan could have accomplished their mission.
And all of them would have been making slaves of the humans by now. If only they hadnt interfered. If only they had accomplished their mission to kill those that had the power to oppose them.
If only they werent stronger than they!
Bow didnt realize that as his anger rose at the thought, his metal bolts morphed into a combination of his black fiery bolts and his multiple arrow technique, which made Seths task of dodging rise into a whole new level of difficulty. But the lavender-haired demon didnt mind the challenge at all as he continued to dodge.
Both demons continued to fight aggressively in a large training room they had stumbled upon in the Photosphere. There was enough space for Seth to fly around and there were some raised platforms where he could duck behind. Bow, however, used those same raised platforms to gain a height advantage for Seth sometimes flew out of range.
After watching the sun set completely on the monitor in the control room, Seth and Bow decided to explore more of the Photosphere. Thats when they had stumbled upon the training room. And had trained since then, passing the time away as they neared their destination.
Seth wheeled around the room, trying to find an opening within the barrage of magic arrows. He noticed that Bow had become more aggressive when his regular metal arrows transformed. He had to become more aggressive as well if he was to end this little match. The scarred demon then decided to try out the technique he saw the traitor execute while protecting the plane.
He stopped his flight, letting the arrows hit him at full force, as he held his axe in front of him with one hand. He closed his eyes, grunting softly as each bolt struck him, concentrating on collecting his mental energy so he could project a shield around himself.
Bow wondered, as he continued to shoot his bolts, why Seth had suddenly stopped evading. Did he give up so easily? The archer then smirked. If that was the case, he could finish this match with one shot. He stopped firing his bolts. It was time to invent another technique.
Bow formed a normal arrow on his weapon before pulling it back. He then aimed it at Seth, pulling in energy from the air and into the tip of his arrow until it glowed a bright green. The arrowhead seemed to grow larger in size as energy continued to gather around it. Sensing he had gathered enough energy, Bow shouted, Sonic Arrow!, and released it.
It sped toward its target, leaving a trail of energy behind. Bow smirked as he watched his arrow, anticipating his victory. That smirk soon became a scowl as he witnessed a barrier forming around his opponent.
It began with a small flash in front of Seths axe. That flash soon turned into a bright light and that bright light soon surrounded the hovering demon. When the Sonic Arrow hit that barrier, it dispersed around the shield.
Now it was Seths turn to smirk. The technique worked, but now he had to improve the speed of creating it. He was a bit sore from the many arrows that hit him while he concentrated. With the barrier now in place, he now had the opportunity to end this match. The lavender-haired demon made his move, diving towards the archer, his axe held to the side in both hands.
Bow fired his multiple black arrow technique at the descending demon, hoping to slow him down, but they all bounced off his shield. He cursed seeing his attack was ineffective. There seems to be no way around the barrier.
Or is there?
Bow could only think of one technique that could effectively slow Seths approach. He quickly willed another arrow to his weapon and fired, shouting, Flash Arrow! As the arrow flew, the archer leapt off the platform he was on to find an advantageous location to make an effective counterattack. He then smirked when he heard Seths cry of surprise, knowing that his arrow had done its job. Now to take full advantage of his temporary blindness.
The archer jumped onto another platform and looked up to see Seth growling as he rubbed his eyes. Bow assumed that his barrier was down, but he didnt want to find out by firing his arrows. Instead, he jumped up and activated his levitation spell. He then flew towards Seth, slamming into him a few moments afterwards.
Seth grunted as he flew back a few feet from the blow.
Satisfied to know that the shield was down, Bow quickly landed on another platform before his spell expired. He then readied to fire another Sonic Arrow before Seth had time to recover from the blinding light.
But he hadnt realized Seth was a quick healer.
I cant believe I fell for such a cheap trick! Seth growled as he recognized some dark shapes through the white spots that kept on flashing before his eyes. Cheap, but effective! He then noticed a very bright light among the white spots. Sonic Arrow! he heard Bow shout and that bright light became larger as it approached him.
Knowing that he couldnt erect his shield on time, Seth did the only possible thing he could do. He vanished from the arrows path as he had done when he had fought those Hornbeasts a few weeks ago, and reappeared at a safe distance.
Bow couldnt believe his eyes. Seths disappearing technique was more useful than his barrier skill. Why hadnt he used it sooner? The archer pushed the thought away as he readied to fire at Seth, seeing that he was still struggling with his vision.
Seth closed his eyes, tired of trying to regain his sight back. He had to concentrate on other things, as he held his axe in front of him, focusing his energy into the weapon. His axe began to glow a blackish color as more energy poured into it.
Sonic Arrow! he heard Bow cry out again as he unleashed his wind-driven bolt.
At that cry, Seths eyes snapped open and was shocked momentarily when he noticed that his vision was clear. But that lasted for only a moment, seeing clearly that another arrow was heading towards him. With a piercing yell, he flew towards it, his glowing axe held in front of him.
Soon arrow met glowing axe head, the clashing of opposing powers undeniable as the arrow tried to force its way through the axe. Seth clenched his teeth as he pushed his axe forward to cleave the bolt in two. Arrow fought against axe, their energies flickering around each other. At one point, it seemed that they were evenly matched.
After a few more moments of battling, one suddenly gave way.
With another shout, Seth broke through the arrow and continued to fly towards Bow. He roared as he swung his glowing axe, not at Bow, but at the foot of the platform he was on, slicing through the metal at an angle as a knife through butter.
The archer felt the podium quake beneath his feet as it fell due to Seths action. He jumped down, narrowly avoiding Seths follow-up swing. Bow fired a few black bolts at Seth as he fell to the floor below.
The lavender-haired demon deflected those bolts with his still glowing axe as he followed Bow below. The archer landed on the floor, looking up as he did so, and saw that Seth was almost upon him, his axe pulled back for the finishing blow.
We end this now! he heard Seth shout as he begun to swing his axe.
Bow pulled back the bowstring, willing another arrow into place, making a last attempt to counter. He was about to release his arrow as Seths axe neared his neck when . . .
Maneuvering complete, a mechanical voice announced.
Seth stopped in mid-swing when he heard the announcement, frowning as he pulled back his weapon. It seems we have reached our destination, he said more to himself than to Bow before disappearing.
The archer let out a sigh as he knelt to the ground. He never trained so hard in his life, but found it quite rewarding. Sparring with a skilled demon warrior such as Seth has its advantages.
And disadvantages when he remembered that wild look Seth wore as he charged him. He had to be more careful next time they spar together or he might end up dead. Bow let out another sigh as he stood up. He then left the training room and joined Seth at the control room.
Time had no meaning in Malduke. For all Valta knew, they could have been exploring the place for days, maybe even weeks.
After surviving the collapsing bridge trap and climbing down the stairs, Razan and Valta had discovered a room with two switches and three lights on the floor. Razan found out that manipulating the switches would light up any of the lights. But what did they stand for?
Both demons found out that those lights set the location to the transport at the room to the north. The three lights represented the three main areas of Malduke. They had already explored two of the three areas---the Statue Area and the Mining Area---and found wreckages of metal giants.
Valta had watched as Razan studied each wreckage, picking up and examining each scrap of metal. The cat demon didnt know then that the scraps of metal were the wreckages of the so-called golems that Razan had read about in the castle. How would he? From the way Razan had described the metal giants, he got the impression that they were invincible beings. But Valta knew better.
Now he wondered what they would find in the third and last area: the Residential Area. Manipulating the switches once again, he changed the light on the floor to green before both demons stepped on the transport in the northern room. The room flashed green, as they teleported, then faded when they reached their destination.
As with the previous areas, Razan went to the plaque behind the transport and read it. This town is an illusion, he read out loud. Everything is a lie! He then bowed his head in thought. Like the other plaques before, he couldnt immediately decipher its meaning. Only when they had explored the area could he grasp its meaning. There was one thing he could understand from the inscription though. Since they were in the Residential Area, it makes sense that there is a town where the residents of Malduke had lived.
So how could it be an illusion?
Theres only one way to find the answer. Lets go, Razan told Valta as he turned around from the plaque and walked towards the door to the south, careful to avoid the transport on the way.
Soon they emerged to find a dark and desolate town. At first glance, they knew that the town has been abandoned for quite some time. Houses were in disrepair, some to the point of collapse. The streets were full of ruts, most of the barrels had rotted away . . .
. . . and the smell of death and decay hung in the air.
I doubt theres anything here, Valta spoke, his voice disturbing the stillness of the hollow town. He then sniffed the air and added, Except maybe for some rotting bones.
Maybe, Razan allowed. Though I wonder why the inscription said this town is an illusion, he added thoughtfully as he marched to the nearest building. I would have sensed it immediately if it were.
The wizard had to watch his footing if he didnt want to accidentally trip on a rut. Valta followed, slinking on all fours, like a loyal animal following its master. For some reason, he found the town quite unnerving. His ears twitched and his eyes darted back and forth, as if he expected something to appear from the shadows.
Razan felt no such trepidation, boldly walking up to the door of the nearby house, and attempting to open it. Stuck, he muttered when it wouldnt budge. How could it be stuck when its practically falling apart?! He tried one more time to pry it open but it remained lodged. Seeing no other way around the obstacle, he summoned forth fire in his hand, planning to burst his way through.
Wait! Valta exclaimed when Razan was about to unleash his bolt of flame at the door. He jumped in front of his companion, blocking him from his goal. Theres no need to open the door, he reasoned with him. Listen.
Razan stared incredulously at his companion, but decided to heed his advice since Valtas senses were sharper than his. He put out his tongue of flame and bowed his head to listen carefully. At first, he didnt hear anything. After a brief period of time, however, he began to hear sounds coming from the house. He moved closer to the door to hear better.
Hid . . . it . . . in . . . the . . . barrel . . .
The voice was raspy, like the voice of a dying man. Razan waited for it to continue, but the phrase remained the same, not providing any more information on which barrel the treasure was hidden.
That was very helpful, Razan snorted sarcastically afterwards. There are practically a hundred barrels here. The wizard decided to listen in on another house, marching towards the building to the south. He listened carefully to its message, hoping to hear a clue to the location of the third and final treasure.
There is treasure in the house to the northeast.
What?! Razan muttered in surprise as he stepped back from the door.
What did you hear? Valta asked from behind.
That theres treasure in the northeastern house, the wizard replied thoughtfully. This contradicts what I heard in the first house. Barrel or house? Which one is it? Which one holds the treasure?
Razan stood in silent musing, as he tried to figure out this mystery. Maybe we should investigate the house to the northeast, Valta suggested interrupting the wizards thoughts. Its the only choice we have unless you want to search every barrel in this accursed town.
Razan nodded slowly. All right, he agreed softly.
This time Valta led the way to the northeastern house while Razan followed slowly behind, immersed in his thoughts. There was something wrong with this place. It was a place of contradictions. Doors that should have easily opened were sealed shut, rotting houses should have collapsed.
And the voices. They contradicted each other.
Were here, Valta announced, snapping into Razans confusing thoughts.
The wizard stopped and looked at Valta before gazing at the door. So we are, he said softly as he approached the portal. Again, he listened for the houses message.
You dont need the treasure . . .
Razan chuckled softly. Another lie, he thought.
Then it hit him.
Everything is a lie!
The inscriptions saying!
So thats what it meant, he mused silently to himself.
Razan? Valta asked puzzled.
The inscription, Razan explained. It says that everything is a lie. Weve been following lies. The treasure is neither hidden in a barrel nor in a house.
Then where is it? the cat demon voiced the same question Razan had in mind.
Razan shrugged. Why dont we listen to another lie? he suggested, marching again towards the nearest building and listening in to the voice.
I didnt see any treasures at the cemetery . . .
The wizard smirked, finally finding the answer. The cemetery, he stated. The treasure is at the cemetery.
It was well pass midnight. The Photosphere floated above its destination: the crater south of Arushan.
Bow appeared in the control room as Seth typed in a few commands on the control board and watched the screen. It showed the crater directly below them. Excellent, he heard his companion state before typing in a few more commands.
As Seth prepared to land the sphere, Bow silently sat down on his chair. He groaned as he stretched aching muscles. We should finish our little match sometime, he heard Seth whisper casually to him.
Bow could only nod in return.
Seth smirked as he continued to punch in commands. He pressed the last button on the series of commands and the same mechanical voice came online: Commencing landing procedure.
Both demons felt the Photosphere descend slowly to the crater below. Seth watched the monitor as the crater became larger and larger until they were finally sitting on top of it. They felt the ship shudder as it landed and the same mechanical voice came online again: Landing procedure completed.
We finally made it, Seth sighed as he leaned back in his seat and stared at the monitor, which showed the surrounding mountains.
Now what? Bow asked as he too leaned back, propping his feet onto the instrument panel, unknowingly pressing an unmarked button.
The monitor Seth was watching suddenly blacked out. What did you do? he demanded as he glared at Bow.
Nothing! the archer replied hastily as he removed his feet from the control panel.
Seth ignored his reply as he tried to regain visual of the spheres surroundings, but before he could do anything a line of text appeared on the screen. Searching database for records, it stated.
Both demons stared curiously at the screen, pondering on that simple statement. After a few moments, more text appeared on the screen.
Search completed. Seven records have been found. Now playing first record . . .
The text disappeared only to be replaced by moving images. The screen showed the destroyed room they had discovered, but it was still intact. A figure in dark blue armor and a flowing purple cape stood in front of the dais where a cocoon of some sort was suspended. That damned Guardian! The audio was a little unclear but Seth and Bow understood it well enough. They continued to watch the scene with interest as they heard the figure continue to speak. He scanned this area with his mind!
Another figure then appeared in the room, jumping down from nowhere. Both demons could tell that this individual was a female with a slim figure and a crown full of flaming red hair that flowed down her back like wildfire. She wore red armor with a contrasting green cape. His scans have been shut off, she informed the figure in blue. The Dukes mansion is superb. But now we know the humans are in contact with the Guardians. We have a few problems . . .
When the fight is lost, the decay begins . . . the figure in blue whispered before turning to look at the female. Look at this place, he waved his huge spear, its a dying land of cowards! Humans, Elws, and the Guardians . . . Their defenses are no longer effective. They dont even have a world to defend. We have nothing to fear from the Guardians.
That is correct, my lord, a disembodied voice agreed.
A sphere of white light appeared in the room, which soon transformed into a demon covered in white.
Now that the Elws are no longer helping the humans, the robed demon continued after appearing, they dont stand a chance.
I know, another voice agreed.
What seemed to be a giant lizard walked into the room wearing a tattered green shirt and tattered tan short pants and carrying his weapon of choice: the ball-and-chain. When I watch them squirm in the flames, he continued when he joined the group, I can feel my power . . .
We could have gotten the Tear Drop with less destruction, the flame-haired one sneered derisively.
What? the lizard growled angrily, taking a step towards the other threateningly. What are you talking about, you newby! They glared at each other, one ready to pounce while the other took a defensive stance.
Both of you, stop it! the blue armored one chided. Both demons glared at each other for a moment longer before turning away to acknowledge the one holding the spear. We, the Quarter Knights, the blue armored one declared, gather for a single purpose. We must break the seal which binds our leader, Mother. The dreaded Guardian seal must be undone!
The lizard chuckled. Sorry . . . he said with a vicious grin that exposed several dagger-like teeth. This one is mine. He then left still chuckling to himself.
Why should he have all the fun? the robed one complained before disappearing the same way he had appeared.
The fiery one left the room the same way she had entered without saying a word.
The spear-wielding demon then turned back to the cocoon. Mother, he began, when you finally wake, will the rest of the Quarter Knights share our dreams?
The screen faded out with the sound of the cocoons heartbeat echoing throughout the room.
Seth and Bow looked at each other, their expressions a mixture of understanding and bewilderment. A million thoughts ran through their minds wondering on what they had witnessed.
Who were the Elws? What is the significance of the Tear Drop? What is the Tear Drop? How did the Guardians sealed Mother? But most importantly, were the Guardians a threat to their plans just as they were for their predecessors?
They had heard about the Guardians from the monsters residing in Arushan, had read many books in the castle about these magical beings.
According to legend, the Guardians are the source of the force that sustains the world. Many were revered in many parts of the world with some towns and villages adopting a specific Guardian as their patron deity. Saint Centour had Ione Paua, the Guardian of Holy; Baskar had Denogenos, the Guardian of Mountains; and Adlehydes patron Guardian was Zeldukes, the Guardian of Stability.
The new demons were doubtful that such beings were a threat to their plans. As Bram had stated before, they must not be weak against these Guardians. They must prove themselves the stronger, Guardians or no.
Seth turned to Bow to discuss what they have seen and saw that Bow was about to do the same, but both stopped when they noticed text appearing on the screen once again saying: End of first record. Now playing second record . . .
Both demons refrained from asking questions, deciding to continue watching the rest of the records instead.
The second record made both demons shudder even though it was short for it was the first time in many years that they heard Mothers voice. But they were slightly amused to hear her whimpering like a child, eager to burst out of her prison.
Suddenly, Bow growled when he saw the traitor appear on screen saying a few choice words.
Perhaps he made the right choice in siding with the humans, Seth whispered intriguingly. Our kind lost, after all. Cant you see? Siding with the humans had made him stronger making him a worthy opponent.
Bow glared at him then snorted. Thats all you care about, he muttered angrily as the record ended.
They sat quietly watching the third and the fourth and the fifth records. The third record was more dialogue among their demon brethren. The fourth, they watched in disgust as Mother burst forth from her prison in all her hideous glory. They were more disgusted to learn that she had destroyed their home planet of Hiades. For once, they felt grateful to the humans to have defeated her. If there was one important thing they learned from the fourth record though, it was known that the Tear Drop was somehow the life force of Filgaia.
Soon the fourth ended and the fifth began to play.
The content of the fifth record was about the Quarter Knights replacing a dead member, killed by the humans. It appeared that Belselk was the weakest out of the four top demons. Seth and Bow snickered at the thought, but stopped suddenly when they saw the demon that had replaced him.
Boomerang was his name and he was quite different from the rest. Both demons felt something strange about him as he talked in his cold, calculating voice. This was a demon that had no fear of death or anything else. They find it strange though to see him have a wolf as a companion. The duo then left to do their mission. Then they listened as Mother gave instructions to her obedient son before the screen faded to black.
Seth and Bow were learning quite a lot from these records. Though they had been briefed on their brethrens time on Filgaia from the resident monsters, there still remained some gaps in their history. Now those gaps are being filled by watching these records.
Seth planned on showing these to Bram and Razan to see if they could get a better interpretation of them. They would surely be intrigued and amused as they were.
He was so wrapped up in his thoughts that he hadnt noticed that the sixth record was playing until he heard Bow say in a hushed voice: Look at that.
Seth looked up to see the humans battling the Mother . . .
The lavender-haired demon smirked. I guess they werent lying after all. But then again, Mother was always weak.
And now we know how the Photosphere ended up on the bottom of the Inner Sea, Bow added, watching Mother perish in the midst of the explosions wracking the room.
They then watched as the trio escaped the Photosphere through the aid of three more humans who just arrived. And the screen faded to black once more.
Just one more, Seth muttered as he crossed his arms and leaned back on his chair.
One more? Bow questioned. Wasnt this the last one?
Seth glared at him. Is your memory that short? he snorted angrily. There are seven records. The one we just watched was the sixth.
But how could it record a seventh record when the Photosphere fell? the archer argued. Wouldnt there be some damage to the recording device? And what else is there to see? Surely the Photosphere was evacuated during its fall so well probably just watch an empty room.
Seths features turned thoughtful. Perhaps, he allowed then smirked. Lets just watch, eh? You may never know if this record will show us more secrets or not.
Very well, Bow reluctantly agreed.
The last record wasnt as clear as the others with the picture being fuzzy and there being no audio. Supposedly, it was due to the fact that the recording device was damaged during the fall.
It showed the same room once again but this time it was dark with occasional flashes from the damaged lights. There was a prone figure in front of the dais. From what the two could tell from the poor lighting, the figure was the one called Zeik. How he had appeared back in the Photosphere was a mystery, but they couldnt care less.
After a few minutes, they watched as he crawled forward. Soon, something came down from the ceiling of the room. It was a blob of some sort that hovered above the prone Zeik and . . .
. . . the recording device failed at that moment, returning the screen to an empty black.
Seth and Bow stared at the blank screen, appalled at what they had just witnessed.
What exactly had they just witnessed?
The same question ran through both Razan and Valtas minds when they had finished viewing a record they found in the control center of Malduke.
Intriguing, Razan murmured after a moment of silence. The tower was the entrance to this weapon in the sky. He then turned to Valta. Go back to Bram and report what we have found. He would surely be pleased. I will stay and learn more about this place. We can use this in the assault against the humans.
Valta nodded. As you wish. He turned to leave then stopped. Do I have to go through all those traps again to reach the elevator? he asked apprehensively as he turned to look back at the wizard.
Razan called up the map of Malduke on the monitor. No, he replied after studying it. Theres an elevator just outside this control room to your left.
Without another word, Valta turned back and left the room leaving Razan to his own devices once more. If there was one demon that could piece together the puzzle of their brethrens history, it was Razan.
But even he had his limitations. Many questions still remained about the Guardians, the Tear Drop, and how they are linked.
Perhaps they need to retrieve the answers from a reliable source . . .
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