Between Warriors and Murderers, Part II
SPARTA, GREECE, 8:03 AM
Kratos sat once again on his throne, once again bitter, once again brooding over revenge, a practice that would obtain him nothing, but was his by nature. His concentration on his anger was only slightly broken by the entrance of Tai Lung, whom he had began to come to see as no less than his equal, in war and in will.
"Most Spartans ask permission to enter before making their presence known," said Kratos, barely paying him mind and only saying this rather jokingly.
"I'm no Spartan," responded the leopard.
"I need to ask two things from you."
"What is it?"
"How do we intend to defeat the Olympians? This was only a wave of their finger we faced three days ago."
"I know others who the Olympians have wronged. If we find them, we will turn Zeus' greatest mistake against him."
Tai Lung raised an eyebrow.
"His own children. Other demigods."
Tai Lung grinned. The plan that Kratos was devising, as little as he knew about it, seemed perfect.
"Your second question," said Kratos, still not even looking up.
"Will our new arrival make a good start?"
It was then that Kratos raised his head.
"Who are they?"
Tai Lung stepped to the side, Kratos and his throne now at the left of him.
"Ask him yourself."
In through the doors walked a short and diminutive creature. He had a round shape, an inhuman structure. He was pretty much a large walking sphere, only his arms and his legs defying his appearance. He wore a gray mask which more or less looked like a bat's wings, with yellow eyes glowing beneath it.
Kratos stood, clenching his fists. He knew not whether this figure could be trusted, and though he himself was a more than formidable warrior, he was always sure to never underestimate opponents whom he did not know the nature of.
"Who are you?" demanded the Ghost of Sparta.
The yellow eyes beneath the mask tightened.
"Call me Meta Knight."
MOUNT OLYMPUS, 12:29 PM
The Olympians sat in the throne room of their unbeaten mountain, gathering in their hall in preparation for what would be their greatest test for the throne. Zeus' presence, above all, was most foreboding.
"Brothers. Sisters," he spoke to his fellow deities.
"We have come face to face with the mightiest enemy our reign has faced in eons. Some of us have already made efforts to purge ourselves of this powerful new grievance, though said attempts to strike at the heart of the enemy have only made him stronger, more emboldened."
There was then a silence throughout the throne room. Hades was sitting on his own throne made from bone and obsidian, which he only scarcely got to sit on given his position of power being in the Underworld, his head leaned on his right hand. He was thinking of a way to make Kratos more of a hindrance to Zeus just as he felt the presence of the room shift. He looked up to see all eyes upon him. Clearly they felt that he was the one to blame for Kratos' increased daring. He wasn't surprised that they had thrown the responsibility onto him, but he still held back great anger toward his brethren.
"But, his victories have only proven how little he knows of the true depth of our might. Our forces which he fought today were merely enough to swat a fly. When we strike him with the brunt of the Olympian potency, he will fall."
The deep, awe-inspiring and intimidating voice of Zeus was then cut off from its next sentence when Hades interrupted, with callous regard toward the conversation he was interrupting.
"You mean swallow a grenade whole with the pin gone. Good idea."
"Your forces already failed us today. Your competence in this matter wavers my trust in you, brother."
"Hey babe, I thought the Albino Abomo was doing just fine. I'm pretty sure he laid it down a bit when you wanted him out of the picture."
The throne room then stirred.
"Elaborate, brother," said Zeus, trying to keep control of the conversation.
Hades slouched in his throne, conjuring a ball of fire. He bounced it on the ground of the throne room floor like it was a Rooster Booster ball, his cocky smile keeping on his face the whole time.
"You wanted Abomination gone. I'm not really the type to gamble around the Bolt Boy's tables, but there's some pretty intense heat telling me that you saved your little kin killer's life."
The room stirred again, this time a bit louder. Poseidon himself looked at Zeus with widened eyes. His younger brother had not told him what had happened to his son, Nessus, and as he began to suspect that Kratos had slain him, wanted nothing more than to see the Ghost of Sparta dead. And he would not forgive Zeus if he was trying to save the killer of yet another lost child of his while he defended his own, who more than deserved to pay for his crimes.
Zeus straightened up, inhaling steadily.
"I did no such thing. I ordered you to call him off, but I did not save his life. Your beast failed because you were too rash to summon him as Kratos fought your armada."
Zeus had truthfully not done anything to help Kratos, other than the order to call Abomination off. But he was realizing that his hesitance to deal with the trouble from his son properly could cost him his throne, and his life as well.
"I dare not question the Bolt Boy Butcher. But I'd like to ask the silent majority; seriously, you're acting stiffer than the stiffs back home; what happens when Zeussy here freezes up again and gets jabbed like a pin cushion?"
There was more stirring in the throne room, this time partially from Zeus himself as well. Hades covered his mouth briefly and faked a cough, but bearing a grin underneath. He couldn't believe how easy the Olympians were to manipulate.
"I don't like disrespecting the one-man bureaucracy of our hostile little world, but I did find a delivery boy who can get the job done. A kid who's worth four of Abomination. Oh, and Hermes here might know him."
Hermes raised a brow, having a look of his own incredibly uninterested compared to the other gods.
"Of course I would. If he's been on a road-"
"If you haven't been to high on the heels to remember good ol' May."
Hermes' apathetic look then turned to sudden surprise. He wasn't talking about May's child, was he? The child that he had failed, much to his great shame? His thought was cut short when a cloaked, hooded man walked into the room. It was the same figure who had conversed with Hades in the Underworld. And just by the young man's build, Hermes could recognize him. He looked away, too ashamed of himself to face the man; his favorite child, and his most haunting failure as a father.
The young man then removed the hood, revealing a bitter and almost sinister looking face, filled with resentment and pent up anger. His hair was blonde, cropped, and sandy. He had a scar that went from the left side of his jaw to the right side of his forehead. And he spoke in a cold, monotonous voice,
"I am Luke Castellan. Wielder of Backbiter, second bearer of the Curse of Achilles, and son of Hermes. I am at the service of the Mountain."
ALAMUT, PERSIA, 4:12 PM
The city of Alamut raged with the victorious war cries of the armies of Gerudo as yet another conquest of Ganondorf was celebrated. Persian soldiers were given a proper burial begrudgingly by Gerudians and moblins, who were threatened to be executed personally by the warlord. What was once considered to be among the mightiest empires of all was conquered in less than a month by Ganondorf Dragmire. But now, a far mightier opponent, Daein, lied ahead. But Demona's business did not lie with the celebration. She ignored it entirely as she flew through the city to the royal palace, for Ganondorf herself had summoned her.
She glided on wind currents with grace that caught the eye of many soldiers in the city as cheers followed the trail of the victors' greatest general. Onox however, resisted firing an orb of energy toward her as he heard the cheers and saw the Gargoyle fly through the city. She then made a prodigious landing in the highest tower of the palace, standing before the doors of the defeated citadel. She pushed the heavy doors open with her mighty wings, walking through the halls of the throne room with the pride of a war champion, looking upon Zant kneeling before a broken throne, which her father sat in.
"Our search for a Nexus Gate continues apace, my lord," said the King of Twilight, his voice ever monotonous and eerily apathetic.
"And once we arrive upon the fields of the Last Continent, Daein will be all but ready to fall."
Ganondorf simply nodded, absorbing his follower's information as best as he could.
"Well done, Zant. You may go."
Zant stood coldly, took a slight bow to his superior and left. But as he walked past Demona, the two exchanged glances, Zant taking the time to stroke her neck as he continued on. Ganondorf closed his eyes briefly at what he had just seen. He trusted both Zant and Demona, but preferred not to imagine what lusts for each other lied within them. The mistress of Castle Wyvern continued her walk toward the King of the Gerudians, sitting mightily in the conquered throne of Alamut, his arm rested on his knee, his fist held up as if gripping something victoriously. Demona knelt down, her taloned fist perched on the marble floor of the citadel.
"Father," she said coldly and calmly.
Ganondorf stood, slowly walking down the small stairs of his throne toward Demona.
"Word has reached me of your exploits of the fabled Demon of France. I hear whispers of feared power. Awestruck gasps of your might. The Gerudian deities must shower you with praise in your skills."
"From you father, there can be no higher honor in hearing those words."
And in truth, there could be no higher honor from hearing such honorable words for such a legendary and mighty warlord. But her attitude was soon to change when he stopped his walk, standing before her with an ever-commanding presence.
"But despite your prodigious gifts in the field of war, you still fall short."
Demona's smile turned to a frown.
Ganondorf gently put his gloved hand beneath Demona's chin, lifting it up to see the slight confusion on her face meet the cold temprance of his. For what he was about to tell her, he wished to look her in the eye to make his message clear.
"Your tasks in France were performed well. The ravaged nation now cowers before the approaching shadow of Gerudo. However, while you destroyed the soldiers of the Great Judge as per commanded, I don't recall ordering the deaths of a great many innocents."
Demona closed her eyes, rolling them underneath her lids. This was not the first time Ganondorf had lectured her on this notion.
"I've told you once before, the soldiers of any nation have dedicated their lives to their country, to their loved ones. Those who wish for no part must be left to do so. These murderous tactics of yours must cease, Demona."
Ganondorf then turned, his cape blowing a wind that stung Demona's face as he walked back to his throne. The high general of the Gerudians continued to kneel, holding back the frustration at what she saw as the Gerudian king's terrible weakness.
"It was to drive fear into the hearts of those cowards."
Ganondorf turned again.
"There are no excuses. I ordered you to spare the lives of civilians, and you will do so."
This time, Demona rose, walking furiously toward Ganondorf as he proceeded to his throne.
"Are you really so weak as to push away the courage to act, father?! You speak of a new age, yet you allow these petty humans to live! As long as they exist, the utopia which we both covet will never come to light!"
This time, the Gerudian warlord seated himself in the throne slowly, his posture still as commanding and foreboding as ever.
"There is a fine line between warriors and murderers, Demona. That is what truly separates us from the enemy."
This time Demona stood angrily before the king, looking as if she was about to attack any minute.
"Our enemies will not yield to such ethics! They never have! The history of existence has always been written in blood! The history of Daein has! If we are to defeat them, you will need to strengthen yourself, old man!"
Ganondorf simply sat, unwavered and unphased.
"As I have already told you, these ethics draw the line between us. Be it Gargoyle or human."
Demona curled her fists.
"How dare you compare me to a human?! I'm greater than any of those fleshlings! And as I have more than proved, mercy does not win the wars."
"But it wins the history. I seek to restore the name and glory of the Gerudian tribes. And I will not have their high general's antics have us remembered and revered as savages. The slaughter of civilians is the mindset of a barbarian."
Demona chuckled with amusement.
"When will you realize that-"
"Enough," said Ganondorf all of a sudden, his the supremely dominant presence of his voice reducing Demona to silence, her petulant expression replaced with an attempt to hide fear.
"There will be no more of this brutality. No more. And if there is, you will be welcome to bid farewell to your rank. We are not butchers. And I expect every being who bears a rank within our tribe to bide by this truth. You will wage war like a warrior, with honour and dignity, or never again. Do you understand?"
Demona swallowed down hard, forcing fear and anger back into the pit of her stomach and avoiding eye contact with her king.
"Clearly," she said hoarsely, taking another slight, more rigid bow.
She then turned abruptly, her wings folding over her like a cape, storming toward the doors of the room. She could only pray that once these antics were over, she would no longer have to abide by this cowardice.
THE LONELY MOUNTAINS, MIDDLE EARTH, 3:59 AM
The Lonely Mountains now lied with fissures within its exterior, shimmering wealth still on the inside. But there was no longer a dragon, for the original keeper of the mountain was no more, slain by the new master of the mountain. The master walked through the mountains, examining his surroundings with brooding expression. The near endless wealth in the cave would aid him ever so greatly in the coming war in which he intended to return mankind to what he saw as its golden age, but what he was really after was something far mightier than gold or jewels. And after several minutes of searching, of following the sense of the great magic of the artifact which he used as a trail, he arrived before one of many mountains of glittering gold which lied in the cave. And within the tower of artifacts lied the one he was looking for, one far more arcane and mightier than anything else that could have lied in the cave, even Malachite himself. The sorcerer grinned as he looked upon one of the greatest weapons of magic there ever was: the Infinity Gauntlet.
THE KEYBLADE GRAVEYARD, 2:03 AM
Master Xehanort stood alone in the Keyblade Graveyard, looking out toward the thousands upon thousands of Keyblades that lay thrust into the ground. He had stood there for hours, thinking upon his plans for the war, honing his senses through the Nexus, and paying his respects to fallen wielders of the key. Behind him, a black flame emerged, and from it walked an enigmatic looking figure. He wore a black long coat, with a dark vest and pants underneath. On his hands were two black gloves. And he wore a hood over his head. And beneath the hood, covered in shadow, was a mask. The right half of the mask was gold, with a warlike design to it. The left half of the mask was made from obsidian, with a few cracks in it, giving the mask a more eerie and haunting presence to it. He walked through the Keyblade Graveyard, his long coat flapping behind him, with cold disposition in his steps, and stopped before Xehanort, who still looked away from him and faced the Keyblades in his moment of silence.
"It has begun," said the man in the mask, his voice creeping from his hidden mouth like a malign growl of thunder.
"Excellent. You play your part well thus far," responded Xehanort, still barely paying him mind.
"Siegfried has arrived in Castle Moray. My work in Castle Pendragon continues apace. I recently arrived from a battle against Frollo's forces with our quarry in tow, during which Xanatos' pack was involved."
"And the costs of this battle?"
"I remain unscathed. The others, however, I doubt that they have corpses left to bury."
"And they continue to trust you?"
"Of course. And just as you expected from me, I intend to bring our operations to a larger scale. The inception of the Pack was the beginning of this journey to the great balance."
Xehanort finally turned around toward his trusted follower.
"And I trust you know what else must be done."
The mysterious figure known as the Ahriman raised his head, red eyes of malice and hatred gleaming underneath the half metal, half stone mask. And though the mask hid his face, the malevolence of the man himself could be felt throughout the Graveyard as he grinned a dark grin, absent from good and euphoria, and benign to the pestilence of his rotten fury, eager to be wreaked upon a world wrought with the horror of war's hand.