"Hope is found in the face of great trouble
Though doom appears to be at hand
Though the skies split and the earth shakes
Hope can never be lost
Until it is let go..."
Abadon paced in the throne room of Dorado Castle in his Black Knight figure. He felt uneasy, these new thoughts coming into his mind. Slowly, of their own will, they began to form, like a jigsaw puzzle. He couldn't see the whole picture... yet. But his mind was working on it.
Suddenly, a loud crash was heard outside the castle walls. He sprang up. "GUARDS! Find out what that was! NOW!" The skeletal guards went scurrying. Abadon, impatient, ran to the door of the castle. He flung it open, to find a very large pair of eyes staring back at him.
Scarlet grinned. "Boo."
Abadon was infuriated. "What are you doing HERE? I specifically sent Exile to tell you to finish the job! You'd better tell me that the little rag-tag team of wandering heroes was killed off."
Scarlet smiled mischievously. "Temper, temper, Abadon. I've done much better than simply killing them."
Abadon grumbled. "Stop wasting my time and tell me what you've come here to tell."
At this, Scarlet backed up so that Abadon could see her full figure, and dropped the four people she was holding in her talons. They landed in front of Abadon. Atlas immediately lunged forward, but as he was still bound, he fell over onto his stomach, vehemently cursing. His shoulder was still bleeding a little from the blow Celes had scored.
"ABADON! YOU ARE THE CAUSE OF ALL THIS! YOU WILL PAY FOR THIS I SWEAR!" He rolled to his knees and lunged again, mad with rage.
Abadon merely grinned and put his foot on Atlas' head. "I don't think you're in any position to make threats, Atlas." Abadon looked up, but Scarlet was gone. Somehow she had managed to fly off without making a single sound. Abadon looked up into the sky at the retreating figure then ordered the prisoners down to Dorado's infamous dungeons.
"We're almost there." Triesque was running, Intruder astride his back. Triesque stumbled now and then, still tired from his ordeal in the ice. Finally, he slowed down to a walk.
"I'm not running any more. This is insane. We're never going to make it in time anyway." He bent down to take a bite of grass from alongside the road, his walk slowing.
"Triesque, the longer we take, the harder it will be to find Diab- I mean, your friends." Intruder sat, trying to goad the unicorn into going faster.
"You shouldn't be the one talking. How would YOU like to be carrying ME? You think it's EASY carrying over a hundred fifty pounds on your back and RUNNING? Why don't YOU try it for a change?"
"Remember Mercy." Intruder spoke softly.
"Mercy's dead. So is everyone else. I think we should take a break." Triesque stopped altogether.
"Mercy WILL be dead if you don't hurry up!" Intruder sounded impatient.
"Fine, fine. You owe me big time though." Triesque forced himself to speed up.
"Hurry, hurry, hurry!" whispered Intruder. He grasped Triesque's mane, holding on as tight as he could. Finally, they found themselves in the clearing. Scarlet was back, holding D, the unconscious Fuji, and Ethon in her clutches. Glitterspike and Xeiss were quietly waiting next to her, and Celes' body lay nearby in a puddle of her own blood. From the look on Xeiss' face, she was enraged, but she could not disobey Scarlet. Triesque reared in rage, and it was all Intruder could do to cling to his back.
Scarlet, upon seeing Triesque and Intruder, roared loudly and took to the air, carrying her three prisoners. She aimed downward and sent a jet of stream downward, toward Triesque. Intruder lifted his staff, which he had managed to hang onto, and a crescent-moon shaped shield of dark energy crackled above him, blocking the flames. Scarlet cawed, her cry filling the valley. She then turned, making a half-loop and flew away, disappearing rapidly over the horizon. Triesque whinnied, and tried to follow, but soon gave up the chase, returning to the clearing.
When they got back, Xeiss was near Celes' body, hugging her knees, her face buried in her arms. She was sobbing. Glitterspike stood quietly, a look of pain and sorrow on his face. Intruder slid off Triesque's back. Strangely enough, neither Xeiss nor Glitterspike moved in reaction to their presence. Finally, Xeiss moved. She slowly picked up Celes' body and moved it out of the puddle of blood, resting it in the grass. She moved her hand over the glazed eyes, shutting them. The look on her face was indescribable.
Abadon was yelling to his guards. "SEPARATE cells... no, separate dungeon BLOCKS for each of the prisoners! Triple the guards on each! None has the keys to the cells except me! I do NOT want these prisoners escaping!" The guards hustled the prisoners away, replacing the ropes tying them with chains, except for Sereven. He had been chained without the ropes removed. Abadon was continuing to yell at his guards when another crash was heard. Abadon rushed outside. Scarlet had returned, carrying her next load of prisoners. She dumped them unceremoniously in front of Abadon and grinned.
Abadon looked up at her, keeping his eyes on her this time. "Well done, Scarlet. Where are the others? You are missing a few."
"Give me a break, Abadon. I can only carry four people at a time, you know. Any more and I might drop one. Glitterspike and Xeiss are now my servants, and they're probably battling Intruder and that damned unicorn right now." She grinned. "But now, there is a more serious matter to take care of." She cocked her head expectantly.
Abadon nodded. "Ah yes, your payment." He grinned. "I'm thinking... ten million per head. That totals to seventy million for the ones you've already brought in. And another fifty million if you bring in the rest."
Scarlet shook her head, grinning from ear to ear at the talk of gold. "Celes is dead. Xeiss I'm keeping. She has uncanny abilities that I want to exploit. The rest you can have." She folded her wings and sat down in the castle courtyard. "In the meantime, I'd like payment for the ones I've already brought in."
"Of course, of course." Abadon waved to his guards, and they scurried off. Very shortly after, they returned, laden with sacks of gold. "I shall pay you for Celes and Xeiss as well, since you did neutralize them."
Scarlet smiled cruelly, gathering up the sacks of gold. "There is something I would like even more than payment for Celes and Xeiss. I want to interrogate Mercy."
Abadon raised his eyebrows. "Whatever for?"
Scarlet's eyes narrowed, and a small puff of smoke came from her nostrils as she snorted. "Silveryn exists. I would not have believed it if it weren't for my seeing it. Don't say it doesn't. I am dead serious about this. Let me get the information about Silveryn from her."
Abadon laughed. "Very well. That shall be your payment for Celes and Xeiss. And if you happen to get any information out of Mercy, don't hesitate to share." He grinned. "I would be more than happy to help you destroy Silveryn."
Scarlet smiled. "I'll do it tomorrow. Right now, I have a couple more humans to catch, and after that I am going to get the best night's sleep I've had in a long time."
****Some time later*****
Abadon stood at the triple-locked cell. He looked up in irritation at the cross that hung over the door, as well as the garlic woven in between the bars, but he waited patiently. In the cell lay the unconscious Fuji, bound with silver chains. Abadon shifted from one foot to the other in anticipation. Finally, Fuji moaned and blinked a few times, sitting up.
"So good to see you're awake, Fuji. Did you sleep well?" Abadon smiled cruelly. Fuji closed his eyes tightly and shook his head twice, trying to clear the fog and the pain. Then, recognizing where he was and who was standing in front of him, he lunged toward Abadon, his eyes filled hate. His chains were strained, but they held. Fuji let out a groan of pain as the silver shackles bit into his arms, and he finally stepped back.
"Tsk tsk, Fuji. I was hoping we could have a civilized conversation with you." Abadon smiled and paced in front of the cell.
Fuji simply glared. "You are anything but civilized."
"I could say the same thing about you, Fuji. It matters little, anyhow. Soon, the vampiric influence will set in completely, and you will be mine, whether you like it or not." Abadon snapped his fingers, and a whimpering sound could be heard coming from down the hall. Two large skeletons appeared, dragging a teenage girl along with them. She screamed and collapsed, sobbing in terror between the two skeletons when she saw Fuji.
Abadon took a few keys from a chain around his neck and opened the cell door. "How long has it been since you last fed? Two weeks? Three? I know you're thirsty, Fuji. You cannot hide from the influence forever. Sooner or later, you will feed, and every feeding brings you closer to succumbing." Abadon roughly shoved the girl into the cell. She scrambled to the corner of the cell furthest from Fuji, and curled into a ball there, trying to shrink even further away from him. Abadon turned and walked away from the cell with a determined air, and the door shut behind him with a loud clang.
Xeiss finally stopped crying and looked up. Her eyes had a haunted look to them. She stood up, unsteadily, and walked to the pile of tossed-aside weapons. She picked through it and finally found Mercy's sword. She lifted it up, letting it glint in the setting sun for an instant. She slowly walked to Intruder, and gave the sword to him, then kneeled before him, lowering her head. He looked at it, then back to her, a bit puzzled.
Triesque spoke quietly. "I've seen that look before. She wants you to kill her."
At this, Glitterspike jumped in between Xeiss and Intruder, brandishing his axes. He did not attack Intruder, but held the axes threateningly. Intruder backed off, not wanting a fight if he could help it.
The stalemate was interrupted by a shriek in the distance. Scarlet was fast returning. Xeiss stood up; dreading Scarlet's return but unable to run. Intruder, upon seeing Scarlet, quick mounted Triesque, who took off running into the woods.
Scarlet landed. "I smell unicorn. Triesque was here recently. Which way did he go, Xeiss?" Xeiss lowered her eyes and pointed toward the woods, in the direction Triesque had just run.
Scarlet narrowed her eyes. "Was Intruder with him? It seems unlikely, but possible." Xeiss nodded her head.
"Come with me." Scarlet snatched her up, along with Glitterspike. She flew very low to the ground, almost brushing the treetops. Under the trees, Triesque ran, Intruder urging him on. Intruder was holding his staff in one hand, and Mercy's sword in the other, but he managed to stay on Triesque's back somehow. Triesque finally skidded to a halt and hid in a dark corner of the brush. Scarlet circled above, her shadow occasionally passing above their hiding place. Finally, she gave up the search and left in frustration. Triesque breathed a sigh of relief.
Intruder quickly stuck Mercy's sword into his belt and tucked his staff under his arm, then whispered to Triesque. "Come, Triesque, we must not delay. We must go to Dorado, as fast as we can. Run."
Triesque moaned. "Not AGAIN. We already ran all this way, now you want me to run more? What do you think I am, a locomotive?"
"Locomotive?" Intruder's eyebrows raised quizzically.
Triesque muttered. "Never mind. Anyway, I'm not running anymore. Not until I have some lunch and a nap."
"Tell you what, Triesque. You run to Dorado now, and later I'll give you a field filled with hay and lots of trees."
"You know, necromancer, you're getting to be extremely annoying." Triesque sighed. "Okay, okay. Just don't make a habit out of this."
Triesque shot off like a bolt of lightning...
Ethon sat quietly as the skeleton guard paced back and forth in front of his cell. He had no idea how to get out of this mess. His arms were chained to the far wall, and the door had a single lock on it. Then, he remembered his power armor. He was glad it hadn't been taken away from him. Sensing an opportunity, he waited until the guard wasn't looking into the cell, and took the first chain. He took a short section of it, concentrating his strength on a single link, and pulled, but the link didn't break. He repeated this on the other chain, then began pulling as hard as he could with both arms, his feet sliding a bit on the rough stone floor.
He strained harder, and the weakened link in each of the chains snapped, sending him flying from the momentum. He picked himself up and looked around. The skeleton guard was at the door, watching him, obviously suspicious from all the noise. Ethon took a deep breath, backed up, and charged the door, which ripped off its hinges and into the hallway. The skeleton was crushed between the metal door and the hallway wall. Other skeletons guards had come running, drawing their swords. Ethon snatched up the unhinged door and lifted it over his head. Fortunately, the hallway's ceiling was fairly high, if narrow. He tossed the door, and it crushed the skeletons. Ethon quickly walked over and picked up a sword that one of the skeletons had dropped, and examined it. It was in very poor condition, but it would have to do for now. He started down the hallway, occasionally ducking into side corridors whenever he heard voices.
He soon got himself hopelessly lost, and could've sworn he had passed the same cell three times. Then, he heard a whisper. "Ethon!" It was Sereven's voice. Ethon looked round, puzzled a bit. "Up here!" Ethon looked straight up. Sereven was suspended above him, a foot and a hand pressing against each wall of the narrow corridor. He looked rather like a giant spider.
"How'd you get out?" whispered Ethon. He was craning his neck, trying to see Sereven in the dim light. Sereven spider-walked a little ways down the hall, then dropped in front of him. "Nothing to it. I picked the locks, killed the guard, and hid up here." Sereven had a sword similar to Ethon's stuck in his belt. "How'd YOU get out?"
"Fortunately, they don't know much about Power Armor." Ethon grinned. "It's quite handy, really. Do you know where the others are?"
"Not yet," said Sereven, frowning. "Abadon's smart, so he separated them all. I don't know why we're all still alive, but if we stay here, it's not going to stay that way. Let's find the others and get out of here."
Abadon looked over Dorado's walls, waiting for Scarlet to return. Exile, who was back in demon form, was standing beside him. Exile looked a little shaken, but finally worked up the courage to speak. "Master, what do you plan to do with the prisoners?"
Abadon chuckled. "That's easy enough. The vampire I'm going to leave until I can bend him to my will. Mercy I will let Scarlet deal with. As for the others... well, I have no use for them, so I will simply kill them."
"That's it? Just kill them?" Exile frowned. "Will you torture them?"
"Maybe. They're too dangerous to keep alive long. Executing them all together is out of the question. So is executing them one by one. Groups of two or three would be best." Abadon paced, pondering. "It will take place early tomorrow morning, when they're sleepy. Of course, if that demon who called himself Fury shows up before they're dead, he's welcome to them, but I'm not going to wait for him." He looked up. Scarlet was approaching in the distance. He kept his eyes on her, not wanting another surprise. Scarlet circled round, and finally landed. This time she did not drop Glitterspike and Xeiss in front of Abadon, instead holding onto them.
Abadon narrowed his eyes. "You're missing two." Scarlet glared at him and spoke in a crabby tone. "They got away. Damned unicorn. I'll catch them later. I am tired. I am going to go get some sleep. Pay me for Glitterspike. I'll collect my pay for the rest when I catch them." Abadon ordered the gold, and Scarlet dropped Glitterspike in front of Abadon. "Follow Abadon's orders when I am not in your presence, Glitterspike. Do not try to kill him or harm him." She turned to leave after picking up the money. "Glitterspike is under my control. He will follow your orders because I told him to. I trust you'll keep him busy." With that, she flew away, carrying off Xeiss.
As soon as Scarlet left, a thought raced through Glitterspike's mind. Scarlet had ordered him to not attack Abadon, and he could not disobey that. However, there was someone that he hadn't been told NOT to attack. He leaped at Exile, shouting wordlessly with rage and brandishing his halberd. His first blow would have been a killing one if Exile had been any slower. Instead, it bit deep into his leg. There was a slight hissing noise as the magic collided with Exile's flesh. Exile snarled in pain and rage, and quickly grasped the halberd, wresting it away from him. Abadon shouted at Glitterspike to stop, and he did, dejected.
Exile clutched his wounded leg and stared at Glitterspike. "What shall we do with this one?" he asked. Abadon pondered a moment. "Throw him down in the dungeons. We can't trust him. I do not trust Scarlet's Mind Control. She may be able to control him, but..." Abadon waved his hand, and Exile dragged Glitterspike off to the dungeons, hampered by his injured leg.
Fuji leaned back against the wall of his cell and examined his bonds. They were pure silver. His expression darkened even more. They were thin, but there was no way he was going to be able to break them or the locks on them. When he touched them, they burned his fingers, and the only thing keeping them from burning into his wrists was his long sleeves. He let out a long sigh and looked for other ways of escape.
Finally, his gaze fell on the girl. She was still huddled in the shadowed part of the cell, trying not to be noticed. Her sobs had died down, and she was no longer staring at him in terror. She was instead staring at the cracks in the stone floor, in a mild state of shock. Her long, blonde hair was in a ponytail, but a few wisps of her hair hung down in her face. Fuji watched her for a minute, sympathetic.
"There is still hope. You are not doomed." Fuji spoke quietly, as soothingly as he could, almost in a whisper. The girl did not respond. "Listen to me, child. You can get out of here. We both can get out of here." Finally, the girl turned her head to stare blankly at him. Fuji lowered his voice a little. "If you do not help me, we will both be doomed. Will you help me?" The girl turned around, her back pressed to the corner, and looked at him.
"You are a vampire. You're one of Abadon's servants. If I come close to you, you... you will kill me." The girl spoke in a broken voice, like she was about to cry again.
"I am not. You heard what he said. I promise I won't hurt you." Fuji sat down on the flat stone bench lining the back of the cell.
"You're lying." The girl shrunk a little further into her corner like a frightened rabbit, a mixed look of hate, fear, and defiance on her face.
"I swear on all that is holy that I will not hurt you if you help me." Fuji lowered his voice even more, and the sound echoed a bit off the stone walls.
The girl dug her fingers into the stone wall, unconsciously trying to claw her way out of the room. "I don't want to die."
"Then help me now! Tear the garlic and the cross down from the door, and help me find a way to get these chains off!" His voice, though urgent, kept the same soothing tone and quietness.
Finally, the girl left the sanctuary of the corner of the room. She went to the door and pulled down the leaves and blossoms of garlic, then by standing on her tiptoes, managed to pull down the cross. This she tucked into her pocket, occasionally glancing back at Fuji suspiciously. He did not move. After this, she slowly took a few steps forward toward him, testing him to see whether he would spring upon her or not. When he did not move, she took another step forward. He watched her approach. Finally, she got to the middle of the room and stopped.
"If you want me to help you, you have to come over here. I'm not coming any closer." She had lost a little fear of him, but not all of it. Fuji slowly stood up and approached her, being careful not to make any sudden moves. She looked ready to flee when he got within two feet of her, but she managed to keep still. Fuji held up his wrists to her.
"Do you know how to pick locks?" he asked. She shook her head. He looked her over. "You have a pin in your hair. Take it out and bend it between your teeth." She shuddered at the word 'teeth' but took the pin from her hair and bent it.
"These locks aren't very good. He must have assumed the silver would do the job. Here." He held out his right arm. "Put the pin in the lock and search for the tumblers. Move them over as if the pin were a key. Move them one at a time, and the lock will come undone." She took his wrist in her hand and began working at the lock, first timidly, then more and more tenaciously. After about half an hour, the lock finally came undone and it fell off his wrist. He held up the other wrist, and she unlocked that as well, using the same long procedure.
When the second chain fell to the floor, Fuji drew himself up to his full height. He seized the girl in his arms. She screamed and struggled violently, but he ignored her efforts. It HAD been a long time since he'd fed, and he was ravenous. His teeth were inches away from her bare neck when he forced himself to stop, suddenly letting go of her. She ran back to the corner in terror. Fuji stood in the center of the room for a minute with his eyes closed, silently fighting with his conscience and his hunger. Finally, he opened his eyes.
"I am going to keep my promise. I will get us both out of here." He walked to the door. Now that it no longer had the garlic or the cross on it, he simply rammed himself into it. The bolts held, though under protest. He rammed into the door a second time, and it opened with much protest. Several skeleton guards were standing in the hallway, but he quickly dispatched of them with a simple raising of his arm. He looked back at the girl. "You may come with me or not."
The girl thought for a moment, weighing her fear of Fuji against her fear of staying there. Finally, she came out of the corner. "I'm coming with you."
Fuji smiled a little, making sure not to show his teeth. "So be it. What is your name, child?"
"I'm Shanna. And you are?"
"I am Fuji. Now, let's get out of here." He grabbed her hand and began to walk quickly down the hall, stopping to pick up the sword of a fallen skeleton on his way.
****Somewhere else in Dorado's dungeons*****
Glitterspike was sitting in the middle of his cell, in a small shaft of moonlight pouring into the even smaller window. He was on his knees, his eyes closed, and his hands folded. Though he did not speak, his lips still moved. He had been in that position for an hour. Suddenly his eyes flew open. He smiled and knew that his fervent prayers had been answered.
In his mind, a storm raged. A red-tinged alien presence in his mind was locked in mortal conflict with... something else. Something bigger. A presence so powerful, even the seven sins would quake in fear to see it. The alien presence battled it fiercely, desperately, but was beaten back time and time again. Sometimes it would gain an edge, only to be beaten back again. Finally, the alien presence retreated completely, withdrawing from the battleground of Glitterspike's mind.
Miles away, Scarlet suddenly shrieked in rage and pain and pulled forcefully out of the Dreamworld and her restful slumber. She did not know what the force was that had driven her out of Glitterspike's mind and disturbed her rest, but she could still feel its painful effects, and it enraged her. She sent up a loud shriek... losing a controlled mind was almost as bad as losing gold. She got up slowly and stretched like a giant cat. Then she grabbed Xeiss, who by her command had been fitfully sleeping next to her, and flew off.
In the meantime, Glitterspike let out a loud chuckle and said aloud to no one in particular, "At last... I am free of her influence." He stood up off the floor, blinking a little, and turned to the door. It was locked, of course, but he figured he could easily get around that. He examined the lock carefully, then tried the direct approach; he gave the door a sharp, hard kick. It held firmly, being designed to put up with punishment like this. He kicked the door a couple more times in frustration, not noticing the sounds of a scuffle outside.
Finally, thoroughly frustrated, he charged at the door, ramming into it with his shoulder. The door held firm. He backed up for another try, and there was a sharp crack as he hit the door. However, the door had not opened. Glitterspike grabbed his shoulder in pain, forcing himself to probe at it with his fingers. It was sprained, and probably dislocated. He looked up in surprise when he saw Sereven's head looking through the small window in the iron door.
"Glitterspike! Strange to see you in a cell, I thought you were under Scarlet's... well, never mind." He looked down the corridor, startled at a noise. "Can't stay, gotta go." Sereven threw something small and silver into the cell, then hurried off. Trying not to move his arm too much, Glitterspike quickly picked it up. It was a complicated-looking lockpick. Glitterspike quickly examined it, then inserted it into the lock. After several minutes of frustration, he finally heard a satisfying 'Click'. He opened the door, or, rather, tried to. It still wouldn't budge. He sighed and continued working on the lock, finally getting it to open. When he stepped out into the hall, he found it empty except for the scattered bones of several shattered skeletons. Sereven was nowhere in site. Glitterspike sighed. Then, he grinned. For some unfathomable reason, his halberd was laying next to the door of the cell. Favoring his hurt shoulder a bit, he picked up the weapon eagerly and examined it, then smiled. "Thank you, Lord."
Fuji walked quickly, Shanna trailing behind him. They ran through the narrow corridors, hiding in the shadows when they could. Finally, Fuji spotted a flight of winding stairs and quickly climbed it, up to the third floor of the dungeon.
"Where are we going?" asked Shanna timidly. Fuji looked back at her. "Shh. I'm looking for a way out."
Shanna dared speak no further. Finally, they came to a large room with an enormous table in the center. It obviously used to be the guards' dining room, but was empty now. A set of double-doors led to the barracks. There were large windows, which was what Fuji had been looking for. He slowly opened the window, swinging it outward with a creak. He looked down. Shanna came over and looked over the edge at the street as well.
Suddenly, Fuji grabbed her and jumped out the window, covering her mouth with his hand so she couldn't scream. He hit the ground, landing on his feet, bending his knees to absorb the impact. Then he let go of Shanna. She was unhurt but even more frightened than before.
"You could've TOLD me what you were doing!" she shrieked, trying to hide her fear with anger. Fuji looked at her. "Would you rather have stayed in the dungeon? It matters little now. Come." He quickly walked through the streets. There were few undead walking around, since it was late in the evening. The few that were moving around were running frantically toward the dungeon's main entrance. Fuji ran through Dorado's streets, not heading for the gate, but toward the castle.
At the edge of the castle moat, Shanna stopped him. "If... if you're thinking there's a secret way out of the city from the castle, there's not. The only 'secret' way out of the city is through one of the walls, where there's a crack in it. Otherwise you have to use the front or back gate." Shanna sounded as if she was regaining a little of her courage and focusing more on getting out of the city now.
"I am not leaving Dorado until I find out where Diablo is. If he is here, he will be in the castle." Fuji spoke with a solemn tone. "You can stay here if you want."
At that, she shook her head fiercely. "No."
"Then let's not waste any more time." Fuji walked down the bank. The drawbridge of the castle had been raised partially, but the water in the moat was unusually shallow. Fuji scrambled down the bank, followed by Shanna. They waded across the moat, and managed to scramble up into the gate without being noticed.
Inside the main hall, Fuji and Shanna quickly withdrew into the shadows, creeping as quietly as they could. The palace was immense; the main hall alone would hold four small houses. Shanna looked up, and was a little disoriented at the height of the ceiling. Like ants, they crept around, following the wall, and sneaked past the guards. By some miracle, they were not seen.
Fuji slowly opened one of the large double-doors of the throne room a crack, expecting every second to be spotted. However, the skeleton guards did not turn around. He opened it just enough that they could squeeze through, and they silently crept into the throne room. There was very little light. Fuji crept toward the throne slowly. Finally he sighed quietly.
"He is not here."
This story is copyright 1998 by Dragoneyes. Yadda yadda don't change it and put your name on it etc.