The Kingdom is a mysterious realm formed within the dimensional space between Earth and Echo. Here monsters and magic as common as technology and science. As a world caught between two others, the Kingdom experiences much turmoil at the hand of its tyrannical ruler referred to as the King. Under his reign, the amount of violence, disappearances and sightings of grotesque and mysterious monsters has increased, leading some to believe that he is responsible for more than the Knights, men and woman who serve the King without fail and have been granted terrifying power as a result, and Super Beasts, living weapons of mass destruction based on beasts of old and legendary monsters.
Besides the Kingdom itself, there are eight known offshoots: The Darkened Fortress, The Enlightened Monastery, The Abyssal Keep, The Alchemist's Village, The Demon Lord's Abode, The Dark Lady's Domain, The Forgotten Clock Tower and the Void Master's Labyrinth.
The Herald of Demise, Dullahan
The End-Bringer clad in mist. Silent and ephemeral doth the reaper toil, harvesting a plump bounty from threads severed in the dark.
The Undying Serpent, Ouroboros
The Immortal stalking the dark. Its Hunger bringeth ruination to the land as it coils around the world's fulcrum.
The Eldritch Fiend, Valmanhwei
The Blade of the Sky, turned to face the earth. With a single stroke is blood spilled and the dark spread, chipping away at that which is sanctuary to many.
The Accursed Dragon, Restrixis
The Wanderer of the Heavens whose wings were crippled. Dust rains as it attempts to regain that which it lost, burning away the land and scorching the skies black.
The Destroyer, Altar Behemoth
The Tyrant of the Earth whose savagery knows no bounds. Ruthless and cruel is the earth deadly wroth, leaving no chance at life where it is directed.
The Knights of the Mad King
Those sworn to the king within the kingdom. Twelve arms to dominate the world and twelve able bodied warriors to wield them.
The Count of Eternity
Lord of the mist and observer by ancient right. One who traverses the dark.
The Queen of Murder
The Dark Lady and master of the dark. One who light has shirked.
The Prince of Fatality
The Keeper of the Abyss and lord of those long fallen. One who defies the order.
The Wanderer, Orphis
The Machina Lord, X
The Warrior, Taela
The Overseer, Veriel
The Kingdom and the areas branching from it are timeless. The people do not age past adulthood and the population remains roughly the same, even as people mysteriously vanish or are slain. This is due to the Count of Eternity, specifically his choice to halt the passage of time to prevent the awakening of a greater calamity. Thought at first to be a mistake, the leaders of the Kingdom's offshoots realized that this was indeed a wise choice as it prevented the growth of the Kingdom in itself, something that would in turn distort the reality of the two planes if left unchecked. The reason why however is story for another time, one of a great conflict from the past.
The Legend's Successor
"Damn, we're running out of time," hissed a woman garbed in black as she and a younger man approached the edge of the King's territory. They were being followed, more aptly described as chased, by a pack of mechanical hounds sent by one of the tyrannical ruler's Knights. The beasts were quickly gaining, but if they could reach the border before the machine beasts caught up to them, they would be safe. The entrance to the Labyrinth grew larger upon the horizon, if they could keep up the pace, they would surely make it.
"Almost there," willed the young man, but as the words left his mouth, several blades pierced his back. The life drained from his eyes as he fell, releasing the woman's hand with the last of his will to not slow her down. She did not slow down or turn around, she had to continue forward or else his life would have ended in vain. Still, tears fell as she ran, barely making it into the safety of the Labyrinth.
"Iam," she whispered, wiping her face of tears slowly as she slumped to the ground. After taking some time to grieve over her lost comrade and old friend, she made her way towards the central portion of the place she referred to as home.
Several hours later, the woman was speaking with the one who had sent her and Iam on the mission that had cost him his life, the eponymous Void Master.
"Are you certain," they ask, looking over her report, "If what you say is to be believed, we do not have much time before the Death Knight is deployed... Thank you for your hard work and my condolences for your loss, Iam was..."
"He was a good man," she says, balling her small hands into fists as she bit back more tears, "W-what are we to do about the Death Knight, Void Master? Surely you do not think that we can handle a being with even a tenth of Dullahan's power, even with our defenses!"
"Calm yourself, Lyria," says the Void Master, holding up a hand, "I have already foreseen this outcome and prepared for it. Soon a hero from another land will be called here." Lyria scoffs.
"An ordinary man from our neighboring countries will fair no better against such a creation," she says.
"Who said another country," remarks the Void Master, smile forming on their concealed face, "The hero shall neither hail from this world, nor shall they be human, Lyria. In fact, they will hold power that belies their appearance and will arrive within the hour..."
A large ring begins to glow with magic as lightning crackles across its surface. Strands of violet energy form within it and flow upwards before a beam of brilliant light cascades downwards, revealing...
Zane appears in the light back facing the two. Zane Looks at them over his shoulder at them. "What's going on here?"
"You have been called, Hero, to prevent a titanic threat from wreaking havoc on this world at the behest of a tyrant," answers the Void Master, bowing slightly. "May I ask who you are?" Lyria remains silent and watches Zane with a scrutinizing expression.
Zane smiles. "I am Zane Shade. Dragon Prince." Zane Looks serious, "Why have you called me here?"
"You, a prince," questions Lyria, "...Appearances can be deceiving. The Void Master has answered your question already, we request your aid in stopping the use of a living super weapon called the Death Knight."
Zane turns around "Okay then and yes, I'm a Prince. So, tell me about this Death Knight?"
"Unfortunately, we know little about the Death Knight and its full capabilities, but we know that the being it was based on is possibly the strongest monster within all of the lands," says the Void Master, "Judging by that standard, we can assume that it could at least level a country to ash. The only other things that we know are that it requires an object referred to as the Star of Alvercise to function properly and that it will be activated in five days time. The only way to get more information would be to enter the King's domain."
"It would be easier to fight him if I knew more about him. So, I guess we might just have to find out then," Zane says with a smile.
"Indeed. I can arrange for transportation into the King's territory, but beyond that we will not be able to aid you once you arrive," says the Void Master. "Is there anything you may need before you go? If so, I will arrange for you to have them by the time of your departure."
Zane makes sure he has his swords and he does. "Anything you would suggest?"
"A disguise of sorts and possibly a satchel of useful items," intones Lyria, "You stand out too much as you are now, even with the King's people's outlandish style of attire."
"Lyria makes a good point... I shall arrange for both of those to be gotten to you." The Void Master touches their concealed chin. "Until then, Lyria shall guide you around the area we refer to as home." The woman looks at the darkly robed figure with disbelief before sighing.
"Follow me," she grumbles.
"Lead the way." Zane moves to stand next to her.
Lyria leads zane through several corridors, labeling each area as a laboratory, library, arcane research room, scrying room or another of the various other types of facilities. She stops at a portcullis.
"This is the Labyrinth's exit. Beyond this lies the King's domain."
"Have you been in there before?" Zane asked.
"Yes, I lost a good friend because of that excursion..." Lyria balls her hand into a fist, "You'd better be as good as the Void Master thinks."
Zane smiles and looks into the labyrinth. "I'm sure I'll surprise you."
Lyria only huffs in response. Several minutes later, a few robed men appear and have Zane a somewhat large satchel and a bundle of clothes that look modern yet somewhat dated.
"So is this all I will need?" Zane looks at the clothes and look at the satchel. "What is in here?"
"The essentials, probably tools, some medical supplies and a potion or two."
Zane smiles. "This should get fun." Zane puts the clothes on his shoulders and takes the satchel, "Wish me Luck."
"Good luck, don't die," remarks Lyria before directing Zane back to the place from which he was summoned.
Zane begins to walk off, but looks over his shoulder back at her. "Trust me, I didn't plan on it." Zane half grins.
Once he arrives at the Void Master's chambers, he finds a seal on the ground.
"It is almost time for you to go, hero. Don the gifted garbs and I shall transport you into the Kingdom as best I can," says the Void Master, standing on the far end of the seal.
Zane gets changed and stands by the seal looking at it. "Time for the fun to begin!"
The Void Master nods and activates the seal with a wave of their hand, purple and gold energy spiralling from the circle. A series of intersecting lines forms in the seal's center.
Zane steps onto the seal. "Lets do this."
A bright light over takes Zane and he finds himself in what looks to be the combination of an old rural village and a city's slums, small buildings interwoven with tiny, metallic huts. Pipes, vents, sluices and grates compose the ground, very little of the natural earth visible in the area. The air is moist and the ground damp from recent rain, the clouds above overcast and rumbling, threatening to rain once more. Dozens of people bustle in and out of buildings at a rapid pace, ignoring Zane as they complete various tasks in the less than friendly weather. On closer inspection, it can be seen that many of the huts are tarnished or are in some varying form of disrepair, several of the larger pipes have burst, and many of the grates are clogged with filthy water and various forms of garbage, ranging from discarded paper to soggy food scraps and worse. Most of the people moving around are in the process repairing the huts as best they can while few seem to be handling other tasks, a particularly small group simply talking. It can be guessed that the inhabitants of this village are used to these conditions and tasks, barely making a fuss, if any.
As Zane arrives he looks around. "I have no idea where I'm at," he sighs to himself. Zane continues to look around.
The bustling continues and the first signs of continued rain appear as a misting drizzle. The sounds of gears and wheels turning can be heard and, upon observation, mills dot the landscape in the distance, obscured thinly by a curtain of mist. Water can be heard running not far east from his location though no definite source can be seen. The most prevalent structure, however, is the looming dome not far away from the mechanical village.
Zane Looks over to the Dome walking at a medium pace. "I'll start my search there."
As Zane gets closer to the dome, he notices the sounds of a large fight going on within it, muffled by loud cheers. Titanic roars and howls echo from within and by the time he arrives, he gets the feeling he understands the true nature of the dome.
Zane slowly begins to jog into the dome. "What exactly is going on here?"
Zane finds himself in the entrance of a massive arena in which two colossal beasts are fighting over the cheer of a crowd. Thousands of people are engrossed in the battle.
Zane walks in and watches the battle glancing around, seeing if he can find someone important and smiles, "This seems fun."
It is hard to distinguish anyone in the crowd as special, everyone watching the battle appears as either of nobility or common descent, segregated by the rings in which they sit. Among the nobility, it is hard to discern who is most important.
A Time, Revisited
The Lost Clock Tower, the oldest known structure within the land referred to as the Kingdom. Shrouded in a dense sea of fog that dulled even the mind's eye, it was a very difficult place to find, let alone reach due to the guardians of the area, the dreaded knight of death, Dullahan, and the grand immortal dragon, Ouroboros. It was here that a story would unfold.
A man in a tattered brown trench coat that flows open in the front walks out of the building. His faded military gear underneath show some experience, while a sniper over his shoulder shows his good aim. The Mk 16 FN SCAR mod 0 in his hands shows expertise. His grey and white hair shows through a bullet-ridden fedora.
A sea of fog lies before him, rolling and churning like the sea. No sounds come from outside of the somewhat decrepit structure or from within the dense, almost palpable fog.
The man walks as though this is comfortable, but his face is focused and his finger tight on the trigger. Finally, he gets out of the dense fog. "Damn good-for-nothin' shit, 'dit is." he states as he relaxes his finger and walks into a severely hidden bunker of sorts, putting up his weapons and hat, but keeping the trench coat. "Home sweet lonely home! Life is a fuckin' miracle..." He grumbles something intelligent before putting the tower on a map that covers a large wall, making sure to make a map of the building on a smaller sheet.
A familar slithering sound echoes from outside the bunker, the ground rumbling as earth and stone are ground from the slow yet powerful movements. A blaring hiss sounds followed by a manner of screams of terror and agony before silence returns to the outside of the bunker. The signs of the bloody mess would be gone within the hour, lost in the fog for eternity.
"Well that happened," the man says as he sits on his bed and maps some of the routes he found.
The silence is deafening for hours, the ground slowly rewinding back to its undamaged state as the night continues. Various clicking and scraping sounds can be heard above the bunker, particularly several metallic clangs directly above him.
"Fuck off Brandy!" He continues his work.
The clicking ceases after a few minutes, until a rather loud ding sounds and a dent forms on his door.
Military training kicking in, he pulls his Judge revolver from it's holster while he gets his maps in a bullet-proof satchel, putting it across his upper body. He then goes and gets his rifle and Mk 16 as wells as many other clips of ammo.
By the time he's done, the door has been pierced by sets of sharp claws the size of cleavers. Abruptly the door is ripped away, revealing a wall of fog. Clicking akin to morse code is heard from outside.
"That is just fuckin' swell..." the large man says as he puts his Mk 16 on burst. He slowly approaches the door, careful not to make a sound as fog enveloped the room.
The lanterns flicker out as chilling moisture soaks into them. Metallic clicking enters the room.
"Show your damn self!"
The room goes dead silent. For some reason, his weapons seem to be emitting a high pitched whine and are vibrating extremely violently.
"Who the hell are you?!" The towering man says as he turns around and around. "Show yourself, fuckin' coward!"
A cleaver like limb stabs at him in response as his weapons begin to vibrate at a higher rate. Several sets of red orbs train themselves upon him and the stench of decaying flesh mixed with rust and sour blood permeates the area.
"Looks like the guns won't work." he says as he puts the Mk 16 away and shoots green beams of energy at the space the arm reaches to, then aims at the red orbs.
There is a slight dinging sound as the beam bounces off of a surface and several other limbs swing towards him.
A few blue hex shields show in front of him, blocking the limbs as he jumps over the being and runs past the doorway. After he is out, he checks his satchel and keeps running until the fog disapates. He doesn't look back as he sees what he thinks are humanoids. "Hey! Hey! Help! There's a motherfucking monster!"
Metallic scraping can be heard behind him as the fog thickens around him. To his far left trails a faint blue light. The humanoid he sees turns out to be a tall, pale figure wearing white, bloodstained executioner's garbs. Its neck is bent into an impossible angle and black liquid seeps from the sack like mask covering its face. A chain dangles from its broken neck and a massive cleaver hangs in one if its hands.
Behind it stands a man maybe in his twenties with silver hair, icy blue eyes and a pale complexion. He wears a white and silver suit with gold filigree and a matching set of gloves, pair of shoes, top hat, monocle and cane. From the side of his coat hang several pocket watches.
"At least it's better than Kim Jong Un... Or Il..." he mumbles as he runs past the figures. He fires a few beams at the creature, dissolving some of it's armour.
The sound of energy being bounced off of armor is heard as the scraping continues after him. The figure in the suit points in the direction the man came from, sending the lumbering being away.
The man stops, looking at the suited man. "Thank you. That shit-for-brains was after mine damnit! That was my only safe house left!" He looks angry as he fishes out a ballistic helmet and exchanges it for his fedora and puts some military gear on in the stead of the coat. "But, thanks man."
"..." The suited man says nothing.
"Cat got yer tongue? Fine," the military man says as he turns and continues his journey.
"Only a fool ventures into the unknown without an idea of what's to come..." The humanoid wielding the cleaver returns with several black gashes across its chest. It gurgles something then abruptly goes silent.
"Only a fool yells at the Grim Reaper and Pimp King for help!" the military clothed man replies over his shoulders.
"The 'Grim Reaper' is to your far left, this fellow is an Executioner," shrugs the man in the suit. "As a soldier venturing through my Fog Barrier, you must be a fool indeed."
The soldier stops and turns around. "My name is Joe Phillips," he starts, "and I've lived in this Fog Barrier since the Korean War. So, I know how to kill these beasts, I just wanted to save my maps. I have now mapped every part of this barrier."
"That's where you are wrong. It is because I allow the barrier to show lenience upon you that the maps you made work," tuts the suited man, "The fog is unforgiving without my intervention, more so than the few beasts you've encountered." The man checks a watch. "I've spent enough time here. If you've the courage, ascend the clock tower and ring the bell thrice... Just know, the fog will no longer hold any quarter for you, Soldier." The fog envelopes the Executioner and the man in the suit, growing far more dense and ominous. The sound of rocks shifting to the tick of a clock becomes audible as the fog swirls around him.
"Thank you, kind sir..." Joe says as he looks at his map and follows it to the clock tower before it shifts. he begins to ascend. "I hope all goes well. And God bless that man."
Joe finds himself at a pile of rocks instead if the Clock Tower.
"Ah, Damn it all to HELL!" Joe yells as he looks at the rocks. He turns east and starts to walk, being careful to keep an eye out. "Shoulda followed Pimpster the Hypster over there..."
Joe finds himself at a broken rampart.
Phillips walks around it, going into the space it's protecting. "Brandy," he starts, "you there buddy?"
Joe hears the something very large slithering in the area, the ground tremoring as it draws closer.
Phillips looks in the creature's direction and runs at it. "This is for Brandy you monster!"
Before he can complete his charge a cavernous maw opens and devours him whole, his body torn into a bloody slushy by rows upon rows of serrated teeth and thousands of tons of pressure exerted by the beast's throat.
A knife blade pops out of the beasts stomach and trails up it's throat to the head, and continues until he is out of the beast. Joe says, "Damned beast... Killed Brandy..." as his armour and skin begin to repair themselves.
The blade fails to pierce the serpent's flesh, leaving Joe to be completely crushed and dissolved by the acid in the beast's stomach, becoming something akin to a single calorie from fat in its diet.
Joe takes a breath in as he reincarnates. He wakes up outside a palace. His weapons and armour are gone, leaving him naked. Phillips stands. "Lovely. Died again..."
Nothing stirs outside of the palace, yet Joe gets the feeling that he's being watched.
"HELLO?! Hey?! Hiya?!" He tries to gain attention. "Got a bath?"
A regiment of knights clad in draconic black armor, armed primarily with shields, spears and swords funnels from the castle. A knight with red streaks in their armor addresses him.
"Foreigner, state your business. If you are here on peaceful terms, we will allow you entrance, but your abilities will be bound unil your true intentions are revealed," they state. "If you understand, nod once. If not, be a man and make it known."
"If I had bad intentions, you may not have had the chance to open your mouth," Joe starts as he nods. "I'm here because I was killed and, good for me, I have reincarnation. Isn't that damn swell?" Joe then turns to the Castle. "Where am I?"
"I do not like your tone, but seeing as how no one has come under fire, I'll humor you." The knight has the others stow their weapons before continuing. "You are in our lady's territory, a land opposing the tyrannical rule of the one referred to as King. Now state your business, lest I have you expelled from this area as you are."
"I am General Joe Phillips. United States of America Marine Corps. I've fought in three wars son. And I have no business. I just need some clothes and a gun and I'll be out of your way. I'm an experienced recon and infantry fighter. If I wanted I could prove my worth by disarming every last one of your sad little resistance. You have swords? So what? Going to war with those toothpicks? You need some weapon to trump that damned King. I could be that weapon." And at the finish of his last sentence, Joe's hands turn green and all but the supposed leader of the group is disarmed, their weapons turned to dust. "I mean you no harm. I just. Want. Clothing."
The weapons remain unaffected.
"You have no idea of that which you speak, Phillips. I will not pretend to understand your place of origin nor your designation, but you should know, this place makes whatever you've gone through look like child's play if you believe three wars is worth any notice." The commander makes a gesture and Joe feels all of his power fade away, more so as if something is sealing them. "Try anything like that again and you'll reincarnate inside of a volcano next time." A black sack is tossed at his head along with a small asymmetrical key.
Joe puts on the clothing after taking the tie off of the sack and opening it. "Thanks..." he says. Phillips then walks up to the leader and looks down into his eyes, towering over him. "Tell me, whats this key for? And whats with all the black around here?"
"It seems you do not recognize what you asked for," says the commander. "Black is a color of camoflage here. I'd not question it if I were you."
"Then humor me, boy, what did I goddamn ask for?" He moves closer. "What is this key for?"
The other knights begin to mutter.
"Oh boy, this won't end well..."
"Go commader, fight, fight fight!"
"Have my children bo- OW!"
The commander twitches.
"Please repeat that, Phillips," they say, a rather volatile feeling about them suddenly.
"Please, call me Joe, Jester," responds Phillips. "I said humor me. Boy." He gets close enough to smell each other's breath. Joe is about a head taller with more lean muscle showing, making him overshadow the captain, separating him from his men. "Humor. Me. Jester."
Joe finds himself in a Sharpshooter, with well over a dozen spiritual blades embedded into his body, before he realizes what's happened. At somepoint all of his limbs were dislocated and the force of gravity upon him multiplies by well over twentyfold. A pronged pike is embedded around his neck and a very poisonous energy begins to seep into him, making him feel very sick very quickly. His arms are shattered and pinned by swords comprised of some sort of crippling aura.
"He really pissed her off..."
"Lady Iylessa is easy to anger..."
"She's the epitome of beauty in hu- OW!!"
"Shut up Rian!"
"Want to run that across me again, Phillips," growls the commander. In front of Joe a blurry, demonic red figure appears, wagging his finger at the soldier.
"HA! A GIRL fighter? Are you serious?! HA!" his arrogance spoke. Small blue hexagons take out the swords as Joe stands, already healing. "Girl, let a man do his job. Get back in the home, got it? And tell whoever tried to take my powers to suck it... Ha! A girl fighter! That's a good one!" Phillips wipes his tear of laughter away as all turns back to normal.
Joe finds himself back on the ground, a burning blade through his family jewels and his legs from beneath the knees removed and cauterized. His arms are again bound as Iylessa repeatedly stomps on his manhood in her armored boots, at one point igniting her armor and all of Joe's blood from the inside and out.
The blue hexes return and free him and he slaps her across the face, landing her on the ground. "Know. Your. Place. Woman." He turns and starts to heal as he walks past the guards away from the castle.
The instant he touches Iylessa, he is engulfed by flames rivalling that of the sun, if not far surpassing them, and is burnt to ash. The Commander huffs.
"Women are just as capable as men, ass." She stalks off, the knights under her command giving her a wide berth, wanting to not incite her temper any further.
Joe's bones form from the remaining blood, then the muscle and skin. "HOLY FUCKIN' SHIT! That hurt!" he yells as he gets up and follows the commander. "Were you trying to kill me?! I mean, that really hurt, you bitch."
Joe feels the ground beneath him melt from heat as Iylessa sends a sharp look in his direction before disappearing into the palace.
He jumps before it fully melts and shoots his acid lasers at her armour, vaperizing her to the bedclothes. "There. You made a mockery of me. I made one of you." He turns and walks away. "I'll sleep out here." He takes the sack off the ground and uses it as a blanket as he lay asleep near the outer wall, snoring loudly.
The commander intercepts the laser with a wall of flame, halting it.
"You're the only one who's done any mocking." The rest of the knights follow her inside.
Joe wakes up to see a white-blonde female in camo pants, high-heeled boots up to her knee, a high-calaber sniper over her shoulder, a large machine gun in her hands, and bullet belts over a black sports bra and a silver dog-tag holding necklace that says 'Abigail Phillips' and 'Navy Seals' on it is crouched down over him, watching him like a hawk.
Joe speaks, "Hey Abbie, how are you?"
"Good," replies a bored tone. "We got some new toys back at base you need to try out."
"Good. I see you brought clothing?"
"In the bag."
Joe walks over and gets his clothing on, picking up a new mk 16 fn scar mod 0 as well as a few knives and handguns. He then returns to her side as the stare at the wall.
"Think she will come out?" the girl says.
"Nah. All I got was a soldier girl attempting at being a commander, having no control over her subordinates."
"Think they'll help us?"
"They may try. I was being myself and she was a dick."
"Yourself isn't a good person."
"I try. I dive a tank for God's sake!"
"Lets just go." Abigail says as she turns away. "How'd you die?"
"Talking about others behind their backs is rather unsavory, especially when you skew things to make yourself look innocent." The commander returns, wearing clothing akin to a black overcoat over dark combat fatigues and a black crystalline plate mail. Feathered greaves decorate her legs while a beaked visor covers her face. "If you aren't entering the palace, you are to leave."
Abigail turns around. She plainly states, "This dumbass was supposed to come to ask your mistress' assistance against the Kingdom. Sounds like he didn't do a good job." she slaps Joe upside the head and crosses to Iylessa. "Thank you for your hospitality and paitience towards him." She holds out her hand.
Iylessa glances upwards.
"The lady wishes to know what you would offer in return," she says.
"We would offer the best stratagists to advise decisions and weaponry and healthcare far more advanced than your own medical offices. One general is here. And, I promise they aren't all as dumb as him." she smiles a little before having her bored expression again. "And, we'd have an alliance to help build our own empire. Your mistress and our commander-in-cheif would be leading it, of course. You get half spoils from the Kingdom."
"You seem to take what you see as the truth. We choose not to use guns and the like, those being reserved for our Dragoons and Riders. What you may perceive as primative is probably more complex than what you're used to seeing, after all the people do not age, the technology does," she says flatly, not boasting or gloating. "You'd have to prove the worth of your group before milady will accept. If you can defeat or repel the Wanderer of these lands, the proposition will be considered."
Abigail touches a finger to her ear before speaking. "Joe will face them. Please do not mistake this for taking your proposition lightly, he just hasn't won a fight in days and needs the morale boost. And the only power I have is regeneration and metal bones. He is the best chance we have to get you guys on our side fast."
Iylessa grunts in reply before entering the palace.
Joe speaks after a few seconds. "Were we supposed to follow her?" which gets a soft grunt and shoulder shrug from Abigail.
No reply comes from the palace other than the gate shutting.
"Guess not..." Abigail says as she climbs the wall and pulls her sniper from her shoulder, positioning herself to see the entire battlefeild.
"Hey... Where are you going? We are supposed to fight this thing!" Hoe says once he notices her. He puts his weapons and important armour by the wall, leaving him in a grey t-shirt, black fire boots and camo leggings with a black belt.
The battlefield is empty, practically vacant. Some brush moves because of the wind blowng it, but little else moves. This remains the same for hours until a figure garbed in a sandy, tattered cloak appears at the very edge of the field, moving erratically and with no purpose.
Joe walks up to him. "Hello. I am General Joe Phillips, of the U N E C. I'd like to ask who you are and if you are or have seen the Wanderer."
"...Are you a Challenger?" The being rasps, their voice muffled as if they are wearing a mask beneath the cloak.
"I guess I am." Joe readies himself as Abigail puts her finger off the trigger. "Ready?"
A wind storm kicks up around Joe and the being, obscuring them from sight.
"Come..." The being floats backwards and summons a pair of energy blades, one crackling gold, the other silver.
Joe puts his finger to his ear. "ABIGAIL. Where are you?!" he says as he forms a few small blue hexagons. "... Now.... Now I'm mad..." Joe's hands glow green. "Lets do this, bitch."
The being remains stationary. "Come..."
"I play defensive end, sorry." Joe zaps at the swords with millions of tiny laser blasts. He jumps high in the air as he does this, giving him full veiw of the battle.
The lasers have no effect on the energy weapons and the jump leaves Joe vulnerable to several swift, almost invisible slashes and stabs from the being, followed by a slowly dscending sphere of black light.
The hexagons block most stabs, except a few, and he spins toward the mysterious figure. Joe then pulls his hand gun, firing at the figure with his best shots.
The figure weaves through the shots using movements that create after images. It begins to decrease the distance between itself and Joe.
Joe lands and closes the distance between them. "Sup, bitch?" he says as he dissolves the cloak and mask. He then punches the figure in the face.
The punch is intercepted by an energy blade as a ward protects the mask. The cloak wears down somewhat, but remains intact, the figure using this window of opportunity to throw Joe over its shoulder and fire several spheres of ricocheting energy at him as the wind storm solidifies into a towering air barrier around them.
The figure notices the hexagons form and intercept the sheres and sword. "Who are fucking shit-faced you calling a fool?!" Joe yells. The figure can tell that Joe is getting angrier, and to the figure's surprise Joe's attacks from now on get stronger and more accurate. "You're th' fuckin' foo' dumbass!" Joe gets ups and lookst at the figure, ready for the next move. "Your turn, dumbass."
Joe feels several gaping cuts form on his body before seals appear around him as the figure's movement's become more erratic and close to phantasmal.
The hexagons block the attacks and Joe punches the creature out of it's trance.
Joe ends up striking an afterimage before the sky darkens and the area is caught in a storm of malefic energy that tears through the ground like the solid earth is confetti as it rages, sweeping Joe and the being into the air where "lightning" pierces through them multiple times, phasing through their defenses before hurling them both to the ravaged ground like ragdolls flung from a strong impact. Healing effects and wards seem to have been weakened considerably.
Joe gets up and walks to the being. "Good fight," he says, "you pack one hell of a punch. But, you won't die, I can't die... Lets just call it a day, no?"
"You can stand... The first in ages..." The being rises to its feet and explodes with power, it's cloak unfolding into wings the color of gold, while silver colored plates and scales cover it's body, giving it an armored appearance and revealing its second set of smaller wings with claws tipping them. The mask remains in place, but a symbol it inscribed upon the mask and neon blue lines run through it. An aura similar to bright blue particles manifests around the being as its blades dissipate only to reform as a spear silver energy. A lyre, a harp, a piano keyboard and a viola comprised of energy float around it as well. "I am Orphis, the master troubadour."
Joe stumbles over to Orphis, saying a thanks and bowing. "I am Joe Phillips... You're pretty damn good at fighting..."
The being makes no audible response before a silver light flows around Joe and a symmetrical, crystalline key falls into his hand along with a gold and silver key with a different set of symmetrical teeth, a dusty golden cloak with a small brooch within it, four keys that are not symmetrical and a simple crystalline ring with strange blue symbols carved into it. The wind wall dissipates and the being begins to fade away.
"Until we meet again..."
"Uuugh," Joe says as he walks back to the wall with the supplies. "I. Hate. Prophetic. Messages!!!" he yells to the sky as he puts on all if his gear, then the trench coat and the ring. "Abigail?"
"What?" she replies while coming down the wall. "You win?"
"More of a standstill." Joe helps Abigail to the ground. "Got a shit-ton of keys, though I don't know what to..."
"Hm... I didn't think that Orphis would leave a human such inheritance," says another person whose presence had been undetectable up until he revealed himself. He appears to be in his early twenties, with platinum blonde hair, pure blue eyes and casual attire consisting of baggy black pants, a short sleeved white shirt and slipper like shoes.
"Hey, slippers, what's your problem with humans?!" Joe turns to him and walks until he is in the being's face. "Got something, Slippers?"
"Calm down, Joe." Abigail had moved to his side, facing him and had put her hand on his shoulder.
"I'm a human! You got a bone to pick with me, Slippers?!"
"If you continue with your beligerent actions, I will," responds the person, unflinching. "I was merely surprised at Orphis' actions."
Joe turns and walks away, flipping the guy off. Abigail looks at the man. "I'm sorry for the brute's actions. I'm Abigail, he is Joe." She extends her right hand. "He is the leader of UNEC Squad Fifteen. I'm the team's sniper. I'd have to say Joe had to have earned the win. He cam back with barely underwear on, and the creature disolved with many wounds."
"Hm... I see..." The person appears to be pondering something. "Maybe he'd be interested in the Land's Gauntlet. If he can earn the inheritance of the other three, he'll receive the blessing of this realm..." The person fades away.
Joe comes back, and knocks on the gate. "That Orphis guy left!" he yells.
"Good, milady will be pleased to be informed of that and will look over your proposition. Return in a few days time and you will get your answer," says Iylessa from behind the door.
Joe and Abigail do as told, Joe alone returning in two days. He bangs on the gate. "Hey! Anyone up?!" He looked at his watch and sees eight-thirty A.M.
"Tomorrow," is the reply he gets.
"I ain't gonna be available, nor is anyone else. We are attacking a supplies convoy going to the Kingdom. Lots of money and weapons." Joe taps his foot and crosses his arms. "Is it deal or no deal?"
"That convey is probably a trap. The King doesn't deal in over land trade or a form of currency."
"It's coming from the Kingdom, going into our territory. It's our job to take them out. Letting me in for tea, telling my awnser, or am I leaving and not coming back?"
"Like I said, it's probably a trap, the King does not conduct overland trade," says Iylessa, "If anything they leaked info to lead you into a trap. If you don't want to wait, fine, I'll tell milady she doesn't need to worry about preparing for backing you, you'll have your hands full surviving an encounter with his servants, particularly his Knights."
"I beat that Wanderer guy, I can beat the King if I have the right tools. I can dissolve ANY and ALL elements, including air. I can heal any would so long as part of my body is remaining. I can become whole again after 'dying'. I'm fucking immortal and the only person I live for is my sister Abigail. I don't care who dies on this mission, I don't care about your assisstance, I only care about my sister. I'm only going into this mission to protect her. If you will help me protect her, I will help you take down the Kingdom. I've lost too many people I care about to lose her. So shut the hell up help me!!!" He bangs his fist into the gate, breaking a small hole where he can see the inside.
"Then don't go on the mission, it's as simple as that." He sees nothing but a faint flame in the distance. "Warn your sister and whoever you work for that it is a trap and to avoid it, else you'll find that immortality isn't going to protect you from the King's men."
"I'm going on the mission alone. Thats the thing. They are to be in chopper about a kilometer closer to base." Joe calms down. "I've pentioned for her to stay. But I can't keep her off the battlefeild forever. Please help me protect her by putting more than thirty men on that field." There were only thirty men on the UNEC still alive and willing to fight. "We can't win this war alone. I'm going on that mission, but Abigail will be here tomorrow. Have an answer by then."
"..." Joe gets no immediate answer. "Your fate is in your hands, don't screw up."
"I won't." He walks into the distance, out of sight. In the morning he is on a hill, waiting for the convoy in military slacks. He sees the convoy and stands in the road right in front of the first vehicle.
The Kingdom has many spacious areas that qualify as expanded territory. It is here that a strange convoy has been intercepted on its way from the Kingdom...
Joe Phillips, an ex-Marine, stands in their way with nothing but military slacks. He carries no visible weapons, and his face is covered by the shadow of a grey ball cap with the Marines logo on it. His hands have a greenish-yellow aura about them, and he extends his arms at the convoy as green laser-like beams destroy the weapons and vehicles. "Go back to where you came from!" Joe yells.
A series of explosions go off from all all around Joe, seconds before a cloaked figure clad in shadowy armor emblaisoned with runes floats from the wreckage of the convey.
"There are less of you than expected here... No matter, the others should be being dealt with as I speak," growls the warrior as he draws a massive greatsword from the remains of the convoy. "You should have simply remained benign and kept to yourself, this would have been avoided... At least according to my leader."
Joe stands, a few bruses from the abuse of using the Shield to counter the blasts. "Peter Pan? That your leader?" His hands vibrate and he goes through a new hole in the ground, into steel catacombs.
The knight doesn't respond, only smashes his sword into the ground and causes a mass of plants to tear through the ground beneath them, rusting the steel and collapsing some of the tunnels.
"Ah. A vegetarian... I hate those..." he hears somewhere below him.
"Terra: Rise." The earth begins to shift unnaturally, rising suddenly as layers upon layers of rock and sediment are forced upwards after the knight twists his sword in the ground.
Joe is thrown into the air, flying higher than ever. He falls to the ground, landing on his feet, his shield giving a scary crunch. "Shit!" he yells as he turns to the man. "You bastard!" Joe Phillips then does something very unexpected. He runs at the beast. "You!"
The knight dodges with a quick, acrobatic movement, contrary to his size. He pulls his weapon from the ground only to slam it back into the ground, turning the earth into a rotating set of rings similar to a massive blender of rock and plant matter.
Joe swipes his hand and the being's creations turn to a mass of dust.
The ground continues to rotate, whipping the dust into the air as the earth rages over a large area.
"Gaea: Sunder." The ground rips open into a grand fissure, forming a cavernous maw around the roiling earth and dust storm, which begins to draw Joe in.
"Too easy." Joe plainly states as he waves his glowing hand and the storm doesn't effect him. Joe waves his other hand and a chunk of the sword blade vanishes, making the sword snap in half. "You can do better, newbie."
The storm worsens and the blade regenerates before the knight opens a fissure beneath Joe with a gesture of his hand and increases the gravity around him eighty fold, sending him into the depths of the earth like a bowling ball dropped from a skyscraper.
Joe climbs out quickly, having caught himself on the ledge. He turns the being's sword to dust with a wave of his hand as he approaches.
The moment Joe's foot touches the ground it collapses and disintigrates beneath him, cleanly cutting away at the earth for several meters around him as the abyssal depths of the earth open around him. The knight simply regenerates his weapon once more.
"GOD DAMN YOU MONSTER!" he yells as he makes a tunnel and attempts escape.
"Nature is mine to control, the earth bends to my will... You shall fail," intones the knight, tapping the weapon against the ground. The earth begins to rumble ominously and luminous cracks spread in every direction. "Terra..."
Joe is almost a half-mile away now, running and vaporizing a tunnel.
"Rupture." The knight finishes the phrase with a second tap of his sword, shattering the earth for miles and miles, lava from the mantle erupting as crystalline and molten structures rip from the ground, each one radiating with the raw fury and power of the primal element.
GODAMNIT!!!!!!!!!!!" Joe yells as he rides a part of earth on a mountain of lava coming down, he vaporizes a path back to the knight. "FIGHT LIKE A MAN, DAMN YOU!"
"Why should the hunter obey its prey? Eryths: Flourish." The Beast Knight thrusts his sword in Joe's direction, embuing him with an odd green aura.
Joe's shield pushes the aura until it was dispersed, than he jumps and vaporizes a sword out of a rock lying in the sky. He strikes at the being.
The aura persistently clings to Joe and the area around him. The knight deftly avoids the strike and counters with a heavy slash to Joe's back before Joe begins to feel off.
Joe's wound closes with a scab and heals, only leaving a sharp cramp. "ARGH! YOU BITCH!" He strikes faster at the beast this time.
"You challenge a king in his court and expect victory, how foolish." The knight sidesteps the slash, countering with his own before the entire area glows a floral green. "You are but a fool challenging nature, believing that you could destroy that from which you were wrought. See your stupidity and wallow in despair. Resound, Terre." The area gives off an ominous feeling.
"I've had enough of you." A bubble of sheild forms around the beast, quickly condensing to the size of a golf ball, and it flies upwards at an angle. The orb lands in the middle of the deadly fog. "Fuck. You. Terra. Bitch." A tunnel to the warehouse forms, and Joe starts to follow it.
The moment Joe atempts to move, he finds that his legs are rooted into the gorund and that his limbs have subtly been twisting into branches, oozing with chlorophyll. He has since lost his grasp on the temperature and his breathing has become restricted as his cells forcefully become plant tissue that feeds off of his power. The Beast Knight simply reappears, reconstructed from the earth, popping his neck.
"As I said, foolish," he states blandly, bored of Joe, "You should have simply ran rather than fought, but your decision has resulted in such. You are dust and from dust life spawned and to dust it shall return. Wither and be marred by the elements, Cretaseria." Greenery and plants bloom around the transforming Joe, a bright green light engulfing him as plants and wildlife burst from the ground around him, quickly encasing him in a spherical primeval forest that flickers and vanishes seconds later. The knight's sword shatters as a result, but a smaller crystalline sword forms in its wake. "The Artisan and Inquisitor shoud be done exterminating the other vermin, leaving me to have not completed my task of annihilating all stragglers, although sending him into the Primal Realm should serve to that purpose."
The knight shifts his gaze upwards before scattering into golden particles and returning to his original location.
Joe finds himself in a primeval forest... somewhere. His limbs have returned to normal for the most part, though he feels an unnatural stiffness in his body that doesn't fade and an extreme thirst, as if he were dehydrated or very close to becoming dehydrated. His guns and knives have completely rusted over, leaving only the keys and ring that he was giving as his only surviving piece of equipment other than his clothes, which are torn or worn for the most part.
"Goddamn worst hangover ever. Of all time." Joe says flatly as he gets up. "Stupid Mr. Greenery..."
The area is verdant and filled with lush plant life. Animal calls can be heard in the distance and all around, but nothing can be seen other than insects. The air is exceedingly humid and the temperature is swelteringly hot.
Joe's outer shield shows, visible cracks and holes in the glass-looking shield's outer layer, and it slowly fades away. "Great," Joe says, "I don't have a shield for another... Ten hours..." He gets up and surveys the area, looking at the plant life.
Most of the plants are far larger than that of their earthen counterparts, some plants that would appear as tiny budding flowers on Earth tower above Joe in this area. Little of the ground lacks green and the canopy above is filled with vibrant yellows, blues, oranges and reds.
Joe walks northbound into the forest.
Joe sees only plant life in the area, finding a tree with withered fruit on one side and ripe fruit on the other side. He smells an almost invisible tinge of copper in the air.
He walks farther up northwest, vaporizing anything in his way.
The smell of copper gets stronger and Joe begins to feel light headed as he walks, encountering naught but trees with plump, ripened fruit that weave the canopy above, not barring his path or getting in his way.
"Blood..." he observes from the smell.
The smell only gets stronger and Joe more light headed as time passes.
"Greaaaat. Probably a beast trying to kill me, right?" Joe keeps going.
Joe's nose begins to bleed and he gets a splitting headache.
He sits down and waits.
The nose bleed worsens along with the headache. Joe's facial muscles and arms begin to twitch involuntarily, whike his vision narrows and fills with spots of black.
"And I'm going to die one more horrible death. Yay for me..."
Before he realizes it, he falls asleep, never to wake again in the same life.
Joe awakens in a different area of the forest at night. The drained and severely dehydrated feeling from before has returned and his body feels stiffer than before.