Blind Fate, part two - Trial


"I've been walking this path since I was born...
And now that I reach what I thought the end,
I come to find,
it's only the beginning..."

`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.

Kain screamed plunging his swords deep into Abadon's chest. Countless demons, undead, winged ones, watched on one side, angels, arch angels, seraphs, and holy knights on the other, and Kain and Abadon fighting fiercely in the middle. Blades flew through the air faster then even eyes could perceive; yet somehow the two did. Both wore cuts and gashes from head to toe, yet Kain was clearly worse off. Kain had dug both his blades deep into Abadon, but he would pay for opening his guard. A ball of spikes formed and slammed into Kain, flying backwards and landing hard on the ground on his back.

Kain looked around, feeling like he'd suddenly awoken from a dream... He suddenly looked behind him, as a voice addressed him...

"Something wrong Kain? Your friends aren't here, they wont be able to help you." Abadon's face grew a large grin. "This is your last chance to stop me, after you're gone, your friends will be as well. All of heaven and hell watch us now! FIGHT me!"

Kain looked around him, countless demons of hell were on one side watching him, and countless angels from heaven were on the other. Kain was completely dazed... His eyes suddenly fixed back on Diablo, another force with-in him taking control...

Kain turned his head to the side, coughing up blood. Dead... all dead, all his fault... Xeiss, Severen, Mercy, Fearless, all of them, all his fault... He had to fight, if he didn't they'd all be dead... He had to kill Abadon. It was his only hope to stop them... he wouldn't let another die... Celes... Atlas... Shin Hikaru...

Kain looked at the form near him. Though so many looked on, none of them would intervene, his only hope, was the form...

"Help me..."

The form's voice echoed through Kain's head, though as only a whisper.

"I can not."

Kain pleaded. "Help me!"

The form's voice was more prominent this time, though still as calm.

"I can only help you if you help yourself. And there is only one way..."

Kain knew at the moment. He had to accept it, it was the only way...

"I am not Kain... and I never was..."

Though he didn't know how. Kain knew the form was smiling, despite the helmet that obscured its face.

Kain rose to his feet, to the amazement of Diablo. "My life doesn't matter. If I go, I'm going to take you with me."

Kain walked to Celes, who watched at the front. Atlas walked forward bearing his axes, but was quelled by Celes' hand. "I'm sorry I couldn't save you Celes... I'm so... so sorry... I will allow you to escape... go. Now."

Abadon laughed loudly. "YOU'RE DEAD KAIN! Pay your last respects to what you formerly knew as Celes and Atlas... and die at my feet... or..." Abadon grinned widely. "Bow under me... and I shall spare you."

Celes' expression turned to almost sadness... to the surprise of Abadon who watched. "I... I serve Abadon now... he is my master." She felt an extreme Deji vu, as if this had happened once before... a long time ago.

Kain smiled. "Not anymore... Tempest! It's time!" Kain yelled upward.

****

Kain instantly felt it all. A rush of power, of thought, of energy, of love, of understanding... A tempest of everything at once, all coming into him... His eyes blasted with energy, as did his blood and everything else about Kain. Suddenly all was understood. In this moment Kain now knew and understood EVERYTHING. War, peace, heaven, hell, his past... and his future... The only problem, was that Kain couldn't contain it all...

Kain screamed, yet he did not open his mouth. Hell and Heavens minions alike all jumped back, an extreme wave of energy hitting them, more powerful then any had seen in their immortal lives, save a select few. Kain began to levitate off the ground, still sending a telepathic scream. His eyes crackled with more electricity then ever before, and more then they ever would again. Lightning began to encircle his body, and a green aura began to encircle his soul. Kain rose high above all others, they could all feel he was more powerful then any of them, more powerful then any of them would ever be... And yet his power kept rising, he kept getting stronger. It was so strong Kain couldn't handle it... An unearthly blue blood flowed in a small stream down his face, though his green aura was so bright you could barely see it.

Kain's telepathic scream momentarily stopped, and all onlookers felt his voice inside their heads, it was almost too loud to take...

"YOU TREAT US LIKE ANIMALS, SEEING WHICH OF YOU CAN BRING US TO YOUR SIDE WITH A PROMISE OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS, JUST SO WE CAN DIE FOR YOUR WAR! ALL OF YOU, YOUR STUPID WAR! YOU FIGHT, BUT WE DIE!"

The onlookers began to back up, all of them beginning to fear this 'mortal'.

"WELL NO MORE! NEVER AGAIN WILL AN INNOCENT BEAR YOUR PAIN!"

His voice suddenly grew an unnerving calm.

"Never... again..."

Kain pulled his arms and feet together, almost into ball, then paused speaking one last line...

"This is what you wanted when you created me, wasn't it? One powerful enough to fight your war for you? ...Well enjoy your creation. Because now you shall reap the results."

Kain clenched his fists, and threw his arms and feet back outwards in a cross. Bright green expanded outward engulfing everything... and then... nothing remained

****
One week ago...
****

Weightlessness, extreme pressure, euphoria, reverse senses... It knew them all well... and it traveled with ease. Anyone inexperienced would have long passed out as their body; and even worse their soul; was pulled every way possible, and even some ways most would say not possible, but it knew them all well... and it traveled with ease. One could pass through light-years in reverse time, a concept even the most intelligent scholars even had a hard time grasping, but it knew it well... and traveled with ease...

****

Lightning flashed, air contracted, and molecules screamed on the lower plain of Khandurus, deep inside the mist marsh. Lightning struck the air in an instant and exploded outward, yet somehow did not dissipate. Instead it gathered forming a sphere of energy which intertwined over and over again within itself, lighting up the swamp. Black interlaced with the energy, forming a strong backdrop for the bubble of energy forming. And in an instant, it was all gone, and the swamp was as it was, an area of silent darkness... That is, all of it, except for a form left in the energy's wake. The form stood in relative darkness, the only visible feature its eyes, which burned a bright green color that seemed to radiate out of a barely seen helmet, dispersing outward like a fine mist...

****

Kain arrived in Westmarch early, taking in his surroundings. The city could be called both miraculous and rundown, at the same time, which was quite a feat. The once proud towering city was in partial ruins, and now only served as a beaten down mercenary town. People from all around Khandurus gathered to bring up arms against the dragon onslaught. Ads of dragon propaganda lined the city end to end, encouraging the growing hate for dragons. Kain however cared little for any of it. He had a purpose here...

Kain looked over the church curiously. Out of all buildings this one didn't have a single scratch, yet was completely covered in ice. It stood out immensely, as even the constant beating of the hot sun couldn't melt the ice covering the building. It was clearly abandoned, yet somehow Kain was drawn to it. He pulled Murasame, and let it fly, cleanly fragmenting the ice from the door, as well as its hinges. He sheathed his sword, pulled back, and let a kick fly, busting the doors open. He walked inside somehow admiring the building...

****

Her small shadow slowly began to increase in size, as Scarlet quickly descended onto the rock face. After a quick scan of the skies, she folded her wings and crawled deep into her cave. Her eyes quickly trailed around the room, confirming Manaknight sleeping in the corner, sleeping soundly. Scarlet suddenly cocked her head, again surveying the lair... Something was different... What was i... Her eyes suddenly grew wide as they met with the change.

"MANAKNIGHT, WAKE UP!"

Her servant sprung from his sleep, bowing in front of her. "What is thy bidding, my master?"

"WH..." Scarlet quickly stopped, realizing her error. It could have been anyone. And most of the messengers were always silent, it was not Manaknight's fault for not hearing them. Even those most trained in awareness had a hard time sensing their presence.

Scarlet sighed. "We have a visitor coming, be on your best for its arrival" Scarlet looked back at the floating mark in the corner of her lair, the mark of the Dragon was a strong illusion only dragons could see, unless of course the messenger required otherwise. It floated in mid air, a hazed sign bobbing up and down slowly. She only hoped it wasn't bad news, as Scarlet feared it was about her servant... or worse, her "Marriage", to Abadon...

****

The book flew to the ground landing in a corner, Abadon sitting down in frustration. Another fool's book, filled with myth and trivial aspects. No matter, with the powers he would soon obtain, Abadon didn't need the unicorns horn anymore.

"Abadon, lord of Dorado, former servant of Diablo." The form said it more of a fact, then a question. The voice seemed to come from above, resonating like an Archon.

Abadon spun in anger, "I told you I wasn't to be DISTURBED!".

Abadon looked his guest over in surprise. It wasn't one of his servants, but a warrior dressed in dark armor, forged like a dragon. Large spikes protruded from the shoulders to behind the form's back, and sharp claws curved out from its hand, past its fingers. Its helmet was equally themed, shaped like a dragon's head. The most apparent part of the form was its eyes, which glowed a bright green color.

"Who are you? How did you get in here?!"

The form's eyes sparked. "What if we were to tell you we had no name? What would you call us then?"

Abadon paused in deep thought. "I would say that is not possible."

"Amusing... Strange that all the people on this plane feel the need to label things... Very well, If you so desire, some would call us 'Tempest'"

"A relative of Frost I take it?"

"Merely an old acquaintance. Frost is of no consequence to us."

"Then why are you here?"

"Or purpose is as it once was, we wish to know your stance on the dragons"

Abadon's attention focused on this form, his interest peaking. "My stance?"

"Long ago, Diablo advanced on this plane, we made an agreement. He shall not involve the dragons in this war, and we shall not involve myself in this war. We wish to know your stance"

Abadon rose from his throne, looking the being over. "Do you speak for the dragons?"

"I speak for us. The dragons speak for themselves."

Had Abadon not learned to underestimate recently, he would have struck this insolent being down where it stood. "So what is your affiliation with the dragons?"

"Long ago I took it on myself to protect them from beings like you... and beings like those of heaven."

Abadon turned and walked towards the window, hiding his interest. "If you call yourself a protector, then why have you let Westmarch slaughter the dragons as they have of late"

Abadon watched from the corner of his eye, seeing if his attempt at angering the form worked...

If it did, it did not show through it's armor, or though its voice. "We have been, gone... 'as of late', as you put it. We are back now, and we resume our role..." The form turned towards the door... "...We have no more to say. You will have time to consider your decision... then we shall return..."

Abadon turned away from the window as the form left his sight... It had vanished completely, though through no exit... This was definitely something to consider... Suddenly, there was a loud flash, that of fire igniting, Abadon turned towards the source, to find a bright red burning mark in the wall...

Never again.

****

Kain kneeled in front of the alter, somehow impervious to the freezing ice covered floor. He somehow felt he had to say it all out loud, though he couldn't tell any of the group... He hated this, the rush of 'feelings'. All because of a few events... he had to accept it all.

There was one event in particular, more then all the rest, that was on his mind... and that was the grail... He was surprised the others didn't experience any of it... any of what he saw...

`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.
`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.
`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.


Standing in the room, hovering over the grail was Xeiss and Severen, as keeping watch over the other two entrances were Kain and D.

"What the hell are you doing here!"

The four adventurers turned quickly with the sound of Intruder's voice. Kain was more than a tad angry it seemed, he ran at Intruder but what held back by D.

"This isn't the time, Kain. It's a small room, we can't risk something happening to the grail or it falling into their hands."

Kain spoke with obvious discontent for Intruder.

"Don't worry, after I'm done with him, he wont have hands for the grail to fall into."

Despite the commotion, Xeiss was still reaching out, her fingertips just inches away.

"Don't be a fool Xeiss," scowled Intruder. "You have no idea what power you'd be releasing if you were to touch it. You're in way over your head here."

She turned to look at him for a moment.

"I wouldn't worry about me, if I were you Intruder. Once Kain has his way, whatever this grail has in store for us, will be the least of your problems."

They were a mere few seconds too late. Had he and Atlas gotten there a minute sooner, this messy showdown could have been averted.

"Fine you foolish girl, touch the grail... But from me and Abadon, take this advice... The Holy Grail is ancient, even Abadon doesn't know how old exactly, only that it is far older than he is. It controls immense power, even as we speak the morning sky is dark and showers of blood rain from the sky because of it... Don't expect it to give you gold, world peace, immortality or whatever else you're hoping it does. Don't even expect it to bring forth an armageddon or signal the coming of the son of God... What the grail shows you could be something far more terrifying... The Holy Grail can reveal mystery, but the answer to that mystery may not be what you had hoped, and I am almost positive that you will not like what it is that you find..."

Xeiss looked him right in the eye.

"Nice try, Intruder."

Reaching out... She grabbed the Holy Grail with both hands. It tingled slightly in her palms. Very slowly, the surface of the grail almost melted as it turned very soft, her hands left an impression. That was when she realized this may have been a mistake, and Intruder may not have been lying.

"For the love of..."

It's surface solidified, as though it had taken a mold of her hands. Gradually it grew brighter, and brighter still. So bright that D ran as fast as he could to escape the light, deeper into the catacombs. Soon the light was so bright that they couldn't even look at it, they had to all turn away. But even then the thick white light filled the room and even with their eyes closed they still couldn't bare it any longer. They couldn't even see their noses on their own faces, let alone eachother or anything else.

"Make it stop!" Someone shouted, but inside it's something that they all hoped it would do.

The five of them which remained screamed as the brightness of the light felt as though it was burning their eyes from their sockets.

In an instant, the light was gone, as also were Xeiss, Severen and Kain. Intruder and Atlas were left alone in the empty room, lit only by the dim torch which Severen had dropped.

For the first time for all that Kain remembered, he felt at peace. It was as if the light curled around him in a warm blanket, allowing him to soak up the warmth. Kain seemed to float, no gravity, no air, no friction... The light was extreme, yet it didn't bother him anymore. His eyes were completely open. Kain felt as if the worries of the world no longer mattered, and his fight was over.

Then he saw it... it was as if he was looking into a three way mirror, and on the other sides were Kain, yet somehow weren't Kain... A form which itself mirrored a dragon, a form which itself mirrored an angel, and a form, which in itself, mirrored them all...

And somehow, Kain swore he heard a voice calling to him...

_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_-_

With a blinding burst of light, they appeared. Thrown to the grass, the three warriors were left extremely disoriented. The light had been so bright, they'd all see spots for days to come. It had even produced a ringing in their ears. With shakey legs and squinting eyes, Kain, Xeiss and Severen managed to stumble to their feet.

It didn't take long for them to realize, they weren't in the catacombs beneath Tristram anymore. The sun burnt brightly in the sky. It had been the first time they'd seen the sunlight in many hours, so naturally, thrust into the mid morning sun required their eyes time to adjust. They saw trees around them, they were in a forest clearing. They could all also hear a waterfall somewhere not far away, the forest was thick as was the neatly trimmed grass on which they had landed. The entire area was very scenic, and very picturesque, almost as though someone kept care of it. Finally gathering himself, Severen posed a question.

"Where's D?"

Blinking their eyes back into focus, Kain and Xeiss looked around.

"He must have ran back into the catacombs when the light became too bright," rationalized Xeiss.

Looking around them, they all took stock of the situation. None of them had any idea where they were exactly, Kain made an interesting observation.

"The mountains."

Kain pointed toward the western mountains, the others looked at them as well. From Tristram, the western mountains stood very prominently on the horizon, they almost swallowed half the sky entirely. But from here, wherever this was, the western mountains were little more than bumpy line in the extreme distance, no bigger than the tip of a thumb it seemed.

"Where are we?" Xeiss wondered out loud.

"It looks like we're in the forest," Severen answered while smiling.

"Judging by the sun and the mountains," Kain reasoned, "I'd say we're somewhere southeast of Spaniel."

That conclusion made sense, and surprised all of them. In only a few seconds, they'd been sent farther than they could have traveled by horseback in a week. On the ground, not far from where she had landed, Xeiss saw the grail. It had returned to it's original shape and the prints her hands had left were gone. Reaching down, she picked it up. For the first time she looked at it closely, 'how unremarkable,' she thought. Still, none of them had any idea why it had sent them here.

"But why have we been sent here?" Xeiss asked.

But there was no answer. Kain gave the only explanation he could think of.

"The grail decides what it will do, based on the spirit of the person who first touches it, in this case, you Xeiss. If it judged your spirit to be neither tremendously good, or tremendously bad, sending us halfway across Khanduras may be all it has done."

While Kain spoke, Severen had been closely observing the surrounding area. At first, it may have looked like there was nothing relevant here, but upon closer inspection, there clearly was.

"Both of you, get over here," Severen called out.

Kain and Xeiss rushed over. Parting the tree branches, the three travelers could see that not far away stood a monsterous building. It was in another clearing and stood all alone in the dense forest. Without another word, the warriors walked toward it. Trees obscured most of it's exterior, and vines crept up all it's sides and over the few huge windows it had. It looked very old, gothic almost, and featured on the facade, large pillars of stone guarding the massive doors which led inside. It was so well covered that had they not been looking directly at it, despite it's size, they'd most certainly never have seen it.

"It looks like a library," Severen noted, and he had seen many libraries.

They walked even closer, Xeiss with the grail in hand, and stood before the enormous stone steps, looking up to the ends of the columns where they met a magnificent arch. Carved into the marble facing were words, Severen read them aloud.

"Felix Qui Potuit Rerum Cognoscere Causas."

After hearing it, and reading it themselves, they still had not the remotest idea of what it meant.

"What language is that?" Severen asked.

"I've never seen anything like it," Kain muttered.

(And yet, Kain lied... he didn't know why he lied, but he did. He didn't know what it meant, but it was somehow familiar, something which greatly confused him. Not quite the words themselves, but the language)

They then knew what they had to do. Led by Xeiss still holding the Holy Grail tightly, they approached the two huge doors. They weren't locked, but with time had been rusted shut. It took the collective strength of all three of them, just to pry one open. They looked at eachother and then the door. Each took a deep breath, as they knew, whatever it was that the ancient Holy Grail had wanted to show them, waited for them on the other side. They went through...

In single file, they squeezed through the small opening they had managed to create by all pulling on the door. Once inside, they paused completely trying to take in what they saw. The air was thick and musty, perhaps because no living person had been here in many years. They stood in gigantic room, so large that they couldn't even see how far it extended. On either side, the walls dotted by the occasional narrow stain glass window, streached up for at least four floors, and farther down they could see that it clearly opened up into many similar chambers. Every wall, on every floor, and even on countless shelves, there were more books than any single person could possibly imagine. Had any of them guessed a few hours before, they'd surely have assumed that there weren't this many books in all the world. Severen had been right, it was a library, and it seemed as though there were more books here than a million people could read in a lifetime.

"It did lead us to the library, afterall," Kain said in awe.

His words confused the others. He thought he'd better explain.

"General Tanus had said, that he thought the grail would somehow lead us to a great library. The library which housed the countless books which had been stolen from his empire's capital over four hundred years ago... He said that some were older than they could even determine, and that they contained answers to every question ever asked. They were the accumulation of all the western world's knowledge since as far back as history records... These are those books, and this is that library."

Down the center of the long hall, oak tables, each at least fifty feet long, streached. Nothing was on them, and they were covered in a thin layer of dust. Severen walked up to one of the nearest of the almost infinite bookshelves, he withdrew a book and looked at it's spine. The hardest thing he had to decide, was just where to begin.

Before he could open it, Xeiss noticed something out of place. On the inside, the entire building was in immaculate order, yet something stood out. On one of the tables, a very out of place book rested, almost as though someone had left it there on purpose for them to see. It was easily three inches thick, and was top to bottom over a foot high. Following the young rogue, Severen and Kain walked over. She looked closely at the strange book and sat down at the wooden chair directly in front of it. Carefully, she rested the grail on the table and pulled the book closer. It was a deep black, and it's cover had on it an age's
worth of dirt and dust.

Right then is when she recalled vividly Intruder's advice about the grail. He said that it had the power to answer many questions, but the answers to those questions, most certainly wouldn't be the ones she had hoped or expected to find. Somehow she knew, that this was the book about which he spoke, and that inside it's cover would be those terrifying answers.

With Kain sitting next to her, and Severen hovering above, she peeled back the cover to a random page. The writing was of the same language as they'd seen on the facade at the entrance to the library, but it wasn't the writing that alarmed them. On the page there was a picture, it was of a man, and one they had to look twice at to believe.

"I think that's a picture of..."

Severen couldn't even finish his sentence, so Xeiss did.

"Tal Rasha... My father."

They watched the picture in silence, not sure what this meant. Kain finally said aloud what bothered him very deeply.

"But that's impossible... This book is at least over four hundred years old."

None of them had an explanation. Her hand shaking, Xeiss turned the page. What they all saw then frightened them even more.

"It couldn't be..."

Surrounded by even more of the strange language, there was another picture. It was faded but still clear. It was of two men, one much larger than the other.

"That looks like Shin..." gasped Xeiss.

The picture looked like it was of the ending of a long battle, the easterner which bared a striking resemblance to Shin Hikaru, was plunging his sword into some type of beast, the surroundings looked as though it took place in the depths of hell itself. Xeiss, with hands quaking, turned the page again.

This picture perhaps alarmed and stunned them most of all. It was when they realized what they were looking at, they became most so...

"That's me..." whispered Severen, paralyzed with a cold nauseous feeling brewing in his stomach.

It wasn't so much how this book had known so well their past, as it was the fact that they knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, that this book had been written generations before any of them were even born.

(The other thing that bothered Kain, was that though there were many pictures of the others' past, his was nowhere to be found)

Slowly she flipped through the pages, each one having on it a picture they recognized. They were of every place the travelers had been, Arkanok, Westmarch, Checksum, Arcadia, Dorado, Tristram, Montross, Spaniel, everywhere... And of every person they had ever met, Abadon, Intruder, Kiera, Baal, Ikana, Scarlet, Kerran, the list went on and on... They saw pictures of everything that had over the past months and years, at their heart, shaped Khanduras. Almost hypnotized by it, Xeiss again turned the page... As much as what they had seen so far had eerily bothered them, nothing prepared them for what they saw
next. It was the the true tip of the terror which Intruder had tried to warn them about.

The picture took up both sides of the page, and for a few moments they weren't even sure what they were looking at. Once they realized, fear surely overwhelmed all of them. The picture was of three people, two men and one girl. They were in a library, and the girl was sitting down at a very long table flipping through a rather large book as the other two, a wanderer and a dark cloaked man looked on.

"My God..." Xeiss whispered.

The picture was of them, right there and then as they read... Xeiss, with her hand marking the page, closed the book. She looked at the filthy cover, with her sleave pulled over her hand, she began to wipe the dirt and thick dust away. Beneath the layer of dirt, was the book's name. The cover had simply three words on it, and once uncovered, they shone a bright red. Xeiss read the three words aloud.

"Souls of Sin."

They each looked at eachother, not understanding what it meant.

"What does it mean?" Kain asked.

Looking for logical reasons behind the things they saw, was futile by this point. Xeiss re-opened the book to the page she had marked with her finger. A revelation came over Severen, the pictures they had seen had progressed chronologically, and now they saw this picture, apparently of the present, and the book was only near it's beginning. Nervous, and with his voice shaking slightly, he spoke to Xeiss.

"Xeiss, what is on the next page?"

As she turned the page he wondered, this book had predicated their past so well, perhaps it could predict the future as well...

Before the page could be turned, the library turned very dark, as though someone had closed all the windows. The huge steel door which guarded the entrance, was slowly swinging closed. It had been closed for almost half a millenia, somehow they doubted it would mind closing for another, trapping them inside.

"We have to get out of here!" Kain shouted.

He ran for the door as he was the closest. He could have made it out, yet stayed trying to hold it open for his two friends.

"Hurry up!" He yelled.

Severen ran for the door as well, it was closing tighter and now would take both their strength to hold it open for much longer.

"Come on, Xeiss, we don't have time!"

Xeiss reached for the grail and picked it up. Holding it under her arm, she wasn't planning on leaving without at least a glance at the next page. In a motion she flipped it, and it's sight instantly took her breath away. Barely able to keep her balance, she ran toward the door. Running as fast as she could, she squeeked through seconds before Severen and Kain couldn't hold it any longer, and the mighty door slammed closed, leaving the three warriors on the outside.

Kain and Severen had fallen to the ground, Xeiss leaned over with her hands on her knees, struggling to catch her breath. As soon as she was able, with the grail in hand, she ran into the forest as fast as she could. This took both her male companions by surprise, getting up, they ran after her.

She ran through the forest toward the sound of the waterfall that earlier they had all heard. She saw a clearing ahead as the sound of the rushing water became louder. Emerging from the trees, she saw below a huge canyon, a thin waterfall fell from not far away, to the raging river, a hundred feet below. Standing at the edge, she steadied her feet and arched her back.

"Don't do it, Xeiss!" Severen yelled.

His words fell on deaf ears. She let go and flung the grail with all her strength, over the ledge. Falling... Falling...

****

(Kain trailed the grail as it fell, it seemed to spin in slow motion, as Kain could follow its every move. The grail glinted, the sun bouncing light off of it. It blinked once, twice, and the third directly hit Kain's eyes...

Kain looked around, feeling like he'd suddenly awoken from a dream... He suddenly looked behind him, as a voice addressed him...

"Something wrong Kain? Your friends aren't here, they wont be able to help you." Abadon's face grew a large grin. "This is your last chance to stop me, after you're gone, your friends will be as well. All of heaven and hell watch us now! FIGHT me!"

Kain looked around him, countless demons of hell were on one side watching him, and countless angels from heaven were on the other. Kain was completely dazed... His eyes suddenly fixed back on Diablo, another force with-in him taking control...

****

Kain shook his head of the daze that fell over him, watching the grail finally splash into the river below. Kain continued forward with Severen finally reaching her, they couldn't believe what she'd done. Severen spoke quietly.

"That was the Holy Grail you just threw into that river... Do you have any idea what you've just done?"

"I know only too well, Sev."

Severen still couldn't believe it, a treasure any artifact hunter would kill for... Thrown away in a single rush of fear. To himself, he could only watch in silence as the rapids carried it who knows where. Xeiss was calming down. She sat up against a tree and ran her hand through her hair. Kain, after a brief glance over the side, looked down at the upset young woman.

"What did you see that scared you so much?"

In as long as she could recall, she'd never been asked a harder question to answer.

"I can't put it into words, Kain... I don't think I'll ever be able to put it into words..."

(That was the point that bothered Kain the most, he'd seen a vision of something, possibly the end to all of this... he only wondered if it was the same thing Xeiss saw... or if it was something far worse...)

`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.
`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.
`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.`._.

Kain looked up at the alter in front of him. He crossed himself, then rose to his feet. Kain wondered if Severen was really right about where the library was, though he still somehow knew, as before, that what had happened was meant to happen, and was for the best. The grail contained infinite power, and the library infinite knowledge. With both of them in hand, one could conquer the world...

"What foolishness you have, Kain. Crossing yourself to those false beings above!"

Kain turned, meeting the one addressing him. From his voice it was clearly a man, yet the man was draped in dark robes, covering his body, and all his features.

"I'm surprised one of the cloth would speak of such"

The man's voice came at Kain piercing darkly though him. "I am as much of the cloth, as you are a hero, Kain!

"Why do you speak to me so, sir?"

The man walked closer to Kain, though still keeping his distance. "Because I know you better then you know yourself. In fact right now, you're going hunting for a certain dragon. Well trust me Kain, it WILL be your downfall."

Kain drew his swords in defense, expecting a fight. "Remove your hood, show me your face!"

The man laughed a dark laugh. You really want to see my face, Kain? Are you SURE? Fine, I will show you my face...

The man's hand rose to his hood, a small laugh coming from it. He slowly drew it back, and what was underneath was something Kain never expected... The man bore Kain's face, every feature about it matched Kain's face exactly, except one minor thing. His long hair was blue, instead of black. It matched the color of the lightning in Kain's eyes, and even had an occasional white strand contrasting the blue.

Kain backed up. "What the hell are you?"

A large smile grew over the man's face. "I'm you."

****

Kain jumped to his feet looking around. He was in front of the alter, and no one else was in the room. A dream, must have been a dream....

Kain shook the eerie feeling he had, and turned walking out of the room. No time to sit and consider such things... He had a group to find, and a dragon to slay...

****

"Hello old friend."

Scarlet spun around, startled by the new voice, which had come from nowhere. Her serpentine eyes met with a form in front of her, bearing armor, which rivaled a dragon's scales. A wide grin that could easily cause someone to faint grew across her elongated face.

"You."

The form's head nodded. "US."

"I thought you were dead!"

The form walked forward, taking note of Manaknight in the corner. "Something not far from that. However we are back"

"We?"

The form nodded. "Long story. We have heard of your recent events... they would dishonor us"

Scarlet turned her head, it was a disgrace to address her so... there were very few beings in existence that she would take it from... but this seemed to be one of them. "Maybe... but the gold I have earned far outweighs any 'chance', of dishonor."

"You haven't changed I see..." The form looked back at Manaknight... "A failed attempt?"

Scarlet snorted. "Unfortunately, yes. I still haven't figured out what went wrong. I had another in mind, but she was... unavailable."

"Unless they were meant for it, it never works right.... I should know... We've also heard of your recent... exploits..."

Scarlet looked the form in the eyes. "Will you say anything to them?'

The form looked down, and shook its head slowly. "It is not my place to tell, even if I don't agree. However I will warn, you to not associate with that, he will turn on you. And even worse... THEY will turn on you."

"You're still as much a fool as you always were. I never understood why they called you one of us, valuing petty things, over gold, and worrying about those demons"

The form walked to the edge of the cave, looking out. "Maybe... Maybe... But I'm older then you are... remember? You're treading on a dangerous path, Lady Dragoneyes..." The form instantly took to top speed, jumping off the edge of the cave and vaulting extremely high in the air. The form threw its arms out, dragon's wings simultaneously bursting out of its armor magically, and the form took flight soaring into the air...

****

The man exited the edge of the trees, smiling. Tabula Rasa laid ahead. It was time to meet his friends...

"Who goes there?"

The man thought for a moment, then answered the guard. "Kain."

"I'm sorry sir, I can't let you pass. The rules are strict, ever since Abadon attacked. I'll need authorization from Prince Fearless..."

:::You will let me pass:::

"I... w...what did you say your name was again?"

"Kain."

"Oh, I'm sorry I must have misheard."

All was silent for a few moments, then the drawbridge slowly began to open. The man slumped over letting his robes shade himself, and entered the city...

****

"Kain?" Mercy looked him over. "What's with the drastic change of clothes?"

The man looked back at her with a cold stare, his robes still covering him completely. "They were dirty... these happened to fit." The man turned towards a dark corner. "AND STOP SHADOWING ME!"

Severen stepped out from the dark corner, eyeing Kain strangely. "You are not supposed to be here, yet you are..."

"I'm sorry, I had a rather bad time in Westmarch, it's made me rather annoyed and I'd like to not talk about it."

Mercy smiled, trying to lighten Kain up. "Sit down, take a load off. We've got somewhere to stay now, no more sleeping on the ground in the middle of nowhere!"

"I LIKE sleeping outside." The man said, while walking away harshly.

****

Kain looked up at the sign above the large building entrance. A roughly made sign, but it matched the poster in the inn. It was a temporary home for the paladins, while the new church was being built. After having a few more dark encounters in the old church, no one, even the paladins, dared to hold their meetings in there. It seemed this was the place he was looking for. Kain pulled his hood further over his face and entered through the large arch doorway.

"Can I help you?"

Kain looked at the brute paladin, then looked around the courtyard, where many peasants, knights, mercenaries, as well as other various people trained.

"Sir?"

Kain looked back at the man. "I'm looking for a dragon."

The paladin laughed. "So are we! Hey, you look like you're a good fighter, signups are to your left, your training begins immediately."

Kain gave the paladin a cold stare. "You misunderstand. I'm looking for A dragon, one in particular. A female red dragon, rather old... She's been terrorizing the countryside for awhile, and she caused the death of a couple of my friends."

The paladin gave Kain a strange look. "I'm not sure if we can help you there, but if you're looking for revenge, we'd be happy to have someone like you in battle with us."

Kain looked back at the training center. "You can't help me. I have nothing against dragons, just the one who killed my... friends..."

The paladin almost looked angry at Kain's comment. "The only good dragons a DEAD dragon. And you'd better see it that way before they eat you alive!"

Kain's eyes jumped back to the paladin, giving him a look as if he were about to cut off his head. "Some dragons are better then people like you."

Kain turned, walking off leaving the paladin angered. A young man in robes approached Kain, blocking his exit.

"Sir, I believe I know of the dragon you speak of. It attacked Westmarch a bit back, along with its pack. They came from all sides, two from the east, one from the north, and one from the south."

Kain shook his head. "That doesn't help me, but thank you. I was hoping I could locate the general direction of her lair..."

"Sir, there's one thing I don't understand. I've never met a man before who didn't hold contempt for dragons, why don't you?'

Kain slightly shrugged. "I have a strong sense of good and evil, dragons have their share of each, just as humans. All contempt creates... is more contempt."

Kain walked off into a dark alleyway, disappearing...

****

"He has returned."

"THEY have returned."

"Then it is time?"

"Yes."

"Then god help us..."

Blue eyes flashed forth from the darkness...

****

The man who called himself Kain stared up at the sun. It seemed his counterpart had found some interesting people to travel with, ones he himself might have chose... If he were to accomplish what he had came to do, these would definitely be the ones to walk with. They knew he was here... it was only a matter of time...

****

Abadon paced, as he dug through a large old book. He had a clearly distraught look on his face, something that rarely ever graced him. He read the passage, over and over again. He had heard of it long ago, but only now began to understand what it meant. Long before Abadon, long before Diablo, long before all of it, one man had prophesized the downfall of the world, by a single man, with the words "Never again"

Celes walked in slowly, bowing deeply to Abadon.

"You called lord Abadon?"

"Yes." Abadon said coldly. "Begin to gather my forces, there is a man we must kill".

"How many sir?" Celes questioned.

Abadon pondered silently for a moment. "All of them"

Celes was taken aback. "Lord...?"

"You heard me. Begin now."

"...Your will is my command, it will be done"

Celes bowed deeply again, and exited the room. Abadon looked out the window, which barely viewed over the large wall, and out into the forest. "Ever since the grail was found, I knew this would soon come. I had just hoped 'soon' would be longer..."

****

A group of peasants caught Kain's eye, they seemed to be huddled around something, and they seemed to be very angry. Kain rushed forward to see what it was about.

"KILL IT! Kill it now!" a peasant yelled.

"Call the Paladin guards to dispose of the whelp!"

"This is a bad omen, it can only mean bad fortune for us all!"

Kain pushed the people aside, seeing what they were uprising about. Kain couldn't believe what he saw as they finally parted, a small dragon, screeching and breathing small fire, keeping the peasants at bay. It seemed more frightened then mean. Kain stepped forward in-between the dragon and the villagers.

"Get out of the way, warrior. That dragon must be slain immediately!" A large paladin stepped forward, bearing the mark of a Westmarch guard.

"None of you will lay a hand on this creature."

The guard looked at Kain awestruck. "You... you're going to defend that... that thing?! Those things burned half of this town to the ground! They killed women and children!"

"THEY killed women and children. This is just a whelp, it did nothing to you, your town, or anyone"

"STEP aside, warrior. I only wish to kill that dragon. But I will not hesitate to bring you down to get to it."

"I warn you now. You will not touch this dragon. I do not wish to hurt you, leave now, please." Kain pulled his swords in an instant.

The Paladin readied his weapon, the peasants quickly dispersing, as a fight was becoming evident. The Paladin faked an attack twice, still considering whether he should attack or not. Kain remained at guard, still positioned to defend the dragon. Kain made two quick swipes, cutting the edge of the Paladin's weapon clear off, faster then the Paladin could react. The Paladin just backed up, fearing for his life.

"Leave here now, and take that despicable creature with you! You are not welcome in Westmarch again!" The Paladin turned and ran, probably going for reinforcements.

Kain turned back towards the creature, which only paid him thanks by hissing wildly. Kain frowned. "Your welcome." He then hesitated a moment, and continued. "Now, you can either stay and get slain, or let me take you out of here. Which will it be?"

The dragon stopped hissing, and looked around, as if weighing its options...it finally reluctantly walked towards Kain, realizing he was its only way out. "Decided did you? Well then, let's go, because of you I'm not welcome here any more... Kain reached down and picked up the dragon, lifting it under his cloak. He quickly exited the ally, walking towards the edge of the town...

****

"Something's going on with Abadon... Not even Diablo ever called for his complete army. I don't like this."

"Nevertheless, he is Abadon, and we must obey. It will take time to gather all his forces, so we must get going immediately Atlas." Celes turned towards the outer doors, opening them widely. "Atlas, I need you... I need you to seek out Varian... in hell. It isn't easy, but you'll be the most suited..."

Atlas bowed. "For you, I would fight the entire regiment of angels, Celes" He smiled, and exited.

****

Kain dropped the dragon, shaking his hand wildly. "I take you outside to safety, and you repay me by going for my hand eh?"

The dragon only hissed.

"What were you doing in Westmarch anyway? Not a good place for a hatchling like you y'know."

The dragon tried stretching its wings, but screeched in pain. Kain then noticed its left wing, bearing a few gashes. "You're going to sit still while I bandage that."

The creature looked over at its wing, and then at Kain. After moments of consider, it reluctantly walked up to Kain in understanding. Kain reached down to his cloak, pulling out some bandages. "This is a bad time for all of us, my friend. It also doesn't help that your brethren got all the people in an uproar." Kain continued to wrap up the dragon's wing. "I lost a... friend... to one of your kind." Kain finished, tying off the wrap, stepping back to look it over.

"Now then... You've got three options my small friend. You take your chances on your own, at a disadvantage from lack of flight, you can hide somewhere and hope no one finds you..."

Kain gave a sly look. "Or... you can come with me... on one condition of course...."

The dragon cocked its head sideways.

Kain shook his hand a little. "...No more biting me" Kain smiled, something he hadn't done in awhile.

The creature looked around, then back at Kain, who still wore the smile. "I know you understand me, and it is your choice of course, but I'd recommend coming with me."

After a few more minutes of looking around, the dragon finally crawled up to Kain, looking up at him. Kain's smile grew a little more, as he reached down to pick it up and placed it on his shoulder. "Good choice..." Kain's smile returned to his usual straight face. "I suppose now I have a pet of sorts"

The dragon screeched, showing its teeth at Kain in disagreement. "Ok, ok... not a pet... A companion."

****

Atlas walked carefully, keeping a close eye on all around him. The layers of hell were dangerous even for one of his power, but as much as he didn't like it, he told himself it was for Celes, and not Abadon himself, and that kept him going. He continued walking past the groups of demons, past red glowing eyes, staring at him from the depths of the darkness, and past succubus that taunted him, vying for his soul, as well as his power.

Atlas finally reached the depths of the 3-rd level of lower hell, walking up to Varian, one of Abadon's newly acquired, and trusted generals.

"Abadon requests... his minions."

"Of course, how many?"

"ALL of them."

Varian eyed Atlas over. "This... this has never been done. You realize putting all my forces in one place could seriously compromise my position here..."

"Your position doesn't matter. ALL of Abadon's servants are gathering in the mortal realm, not just your army."

"But... but... ALL of them?" Varian's burning yellow eyes pulsed.

"Yes. Now work quickly Varian, Abadon wishes it." Atlas turned, and walked off, eyeing the beasts of hell around him

****

Kain unsheathed his swords, watching the incoming... thing, with complete concentration. Everything going on in Kain's mind revolved around it. Whatever it was, it didn't give off anything that Kain could sense as evil, but something about it... like an old smell, an old feeling... it landed right in front of Kain, it's glowing mist filled eyes, burned green and dissipated.

"Who are you... Why have you approached me?"

It's voice sounded like it came from everywhere, and nowhere. Yet it somehow had a familiar quality to it... and it sounded almost soothing to Kain. "You've taken on a dragon companion... then you are the same, only different..."

Whatever it was, it puzzled Kain greatly. "What...?"

It interrupted "You fight evil."

Kain only nodded, slowly.

"Then go South-West Kain. Keep going until you get to Tristram. Evil gathers there, in numbers far more then you could ever imagine."

"Why do you tell me this? Who are you?"

"In time, you will understand. Look inside yourself, and look to your dreams. There you will find what you seek, Kain." The area around the form begin to spark and crackle, lightning forming all around it. It begin circling the form, and it disappeared in a bright flash.

Kain sat a moment, thinking about what it was that told him... It could be a trap, it could be truth... or it could be a distraction from something else... Either way, he had to go, it was in his blood. Kain gave a quick look to the dragon whom now stood on his shoulder. "Maybe it would have been safer for you in Westmarch, my friend."

Kain took off, brushing through the trees with lightning quickness, and headed west...

****
****

"It is done."

Scarlet turned to the green armored warrior, her eyes glowing brightly. "For someone who talks about non-interference, you surprise me."

"I had to, it was meant to be this way, and you know that Dragoneyes."

"And if he falls, what then?"

"Then I am lost..." The warriors eyes dimmed a bit. "...as are we all."

"You're an old fool, you should have remained in the void." Scarlet snapped.

"If he passes the trial..." The form looked out over the horizon, where the sun was slowly sinking under the row of mountains.

"IF... he passes the trial... then how do you know he wont turn on all of us?" Scarlet looked towards Manaknight, considering something.

"I don't, but you misunderstand. Not turning on everyone IS his trial. We will have to see how he handles the first part of it, and see how it goes. Then..." The form held its hand up, which held a ball of crackling green lightning. "Then it truly begins..."

Scarlet approached from behind, and watched the sunset descend slowly as well. "You know I have found a subject I wished to perform the ritual on, correct?"

"Yes... the Rasha girl... what of it?" The ball crackled intensely, and suddenly became stable, forming a globe, which showed Kain running through the forest.

"Kain also might make a good subject..." Scarlet spoke, rather casually.

"I know... You may try if you wish, but in this state, he could turn on you, and rob your many years, in one instant."

Scarlet smiled. "It would be a pleasure, breaking him of his control, and taking it for myself."

"You're making enemies faster then you can prepare against them Dragoneyes."

Scarlet turned towards Manaknight. "Manaknight, AWAKE!"

Manaknight rose from his slumber instantly. "Yes, my queen?"

Scarlet pointed towards the globe of sight. "Find him, do not interfere with anything you see, but keep a watchful eye on him."

"Your will is my only purpose. It shall be done." Manaknight quickly exited the cave, and headed out of the cave

"Now what?" Scarlet questioned.

"Now... It begins."

****

"Abadon gathers his forces. He seeks to attack the counter."

"Then we must gather as well."

"I do not like this, my friend. I do not like this at all... No good will come of this, and I fear for the safety of us all."

"The counter must survive, or all is lost. He is our ace, and he will come through, you should not doubt him."

"You know I opposed this from the start, what if... what if he turns on us, and joins them?"

"His spirit is too strong for that, aside from that, the Lith with keep him on course. You should not worry about him, but keep your focus on... on... I can't even mention his name...."

The blue eyes dimmed. "...that.. that thing."

One of them sighs. "It is the wish of the rest of the council as well. We gather as soon as possible."

****

[Two days later]

Celes approached Abadon, smiling at the thought of her work. She had gathered more demons in one place, then ever before. She hoped for once, Abadon might grant her favor. In a way, being a grunt was almost better then being one of Abadon's most trusted servants... better to die in battle, then live forever under his rule, being punished for everything, even if it was not her fault... Nevertheless, she was stuck, bound to him in undeath. "We are ready, lord Abadon."

"Excellent... Look at them Celes... behold the glory of hell at its finest. No one has ever beheld our entire force, but today... today is our day. Nothing can stop me, nothing can stand in the way of us. It is time, today, we either destroy all that oppose us... or..."

Celes continued. "Or we fall, and Diablo's brethren take our places."

"No... Diablo's brethren do not care about the mortal plane. If we lose here, then that is the end of it all. The rest are too stuck up in themselves to realize what power this plane holds... Come, we leave for glory Celes, you ride at my side."

"And what of Atlas?" Celes's face turned to question.

"What of him? Do not think me a foolish mortal Celes. I only grant you what you seek, a position of power. Do not take it lightly. Atlas is too impulsive, he acts before thinking, and let's his... emotions drive him. You... you are different."

"Am I? ...you know I had feelings for Atlas once..."

"Those feelings are gone, you are my servant now."

"Are they...? Maybe they are... but what of him? Why do his remain?"

"I do not know the ways of the Vampire Celes... but enough of this, I dwell not on petty things any longer. Today is my day of glory." Abadon headed out of the room, and after a moment of hesitation in deep thought, Celes followed.

****

The warrior ran at top speed, yelling at the top of his lungs for the guard to open the gate to Tabula Rasa. "I MUST SEE KING FEARLESS, IMMEDIATELY. I HAVE NEWS THAT CAN NOT WAIT!"

The guard quickly lowered the drawbridge, letting him through. The warrior continued through the city, running with all he could, all the way until he made it into the castle chamber, where he bent his head over, breathing heavily. "King... Fear.. less..."

"A King is higher than his subjects, but a prince merely rules among them, call me Prince. And catch your breath, then tell me what you need to say."

The warrior sat down, and after a moment, regained his breath enough to speak. "Yes Prince Fearless, It's Abadon sir... his forces... millions of them. Demons, gargoyles... They're headed towards us..."

Fearless walked over to a small table, a map drawn over the fine wood finish. "Where are they now?"

"They stopped in Tristram sire, to gather more forces."

Fearless struck a dagger into the spot marked Tristram on the map, sighing. "Call the others... we need to talk..."

****

The group gathered next to Fearless, some looking confused, some looking tired, and some looking like nothing had gone on in years to make their demeanor change.

"Abadon is coming for us again." Fearless spoke, pointing to Tristram.

"So soon?" Xeiss questioned.

"It's bad this time. Very bad. Tell them." Fearless' spoke towards the messenger.

"I passed Tristram on my way back from information gathering at Montross. The sight..." He paused, his face going white. "I couldn't count them all sir... I couldn't count them all..."

Severen walked to the map, looking it over. "Was he there?"

"Yes... Abadon, Celes, Atlas... all of them. The main forces were gathering along with the undead from Dorado... I lost four men getting this to you..."

"We're sorry for you loss... what is your name?"

"Calis, 'mam."

Xeiss took a piece of paper from a table, scrawling ink across it. "Take this to the bank in town, and give it to the woman at the counter. This could save us all."

"So what do we do?" D asked, though not to anyone in particular.

"We stand..." Xeiss' commanding tone came in.

"...and we pray." Glitter finished.

****

Kain was exhausted, traveling for more then a day straight, at a speed, which seemed impossible to keep as long as he had, but he kept it. Something about the warrior... something made him keep going. Tristram wasn't far now, he'd be there soon... Kain looked to his shoulder at the dragon that perched on his shoulder, stopping.

"I'm sorry, but you can't come with me to where I'm going... if the dragon warrior was telling the truth... "

The dragon looked at Kain causing him to question himself. "Hmm... Well, I guess no where will be safe..." Kain took off again.

****

"Master Abadon... We're almost ready." Varian approached Abadon, bowing greatly.

"Where is he, Varian..."

"Master?" Varian looked over at the forces coming from the Tristram entrance.

"I have a bad feeling about this. The book said he'd be coming for us... I don't like this. I sense something I haven't felt... since the downfall of Diablo...."

"Master, all our forces are here. Nothing can stand in our way. NOTHING!" Varian's eyes flashed with glory.

"Yes... Y..." Abadon looked up. "What's that!"

Abadon watched in the distance as the sky turned bright, which wasn't known to happen this late at night. His face turned to anger, as he realized the sight. "Angels... SOUND THE BATTLE CALL! Armageddon calls."

Abadon postured, immense claws forming at his arms. "YOU WANT ME! COME ON! All of heaven wont stop me!"

****

"So, we meet again... old friend."

Intruder scowled at the bright cobalt blue eyes flashing at him. "I'll kill you for stopping me from killing Kain, Cobalt! No one betrays me and lives!"

Intruder let forth a black ball of death that flew toward Cobalt, Cobalt quickly turning and letting his wing absorb the blast. "You long betrayed your soul, Intruder. The time for betraying has turned on you."

"I'll have you as my undead servant soon Cobalt!" Intruder yelled, continuing a spell."

****

Lesya passed the window, stopping, and looking out over the balcony, staring blindly. Kain... or rather the man who had been deceiving them by calling himself that... stopped, walking up behind her, and peering out as well. "What are you looking at, Lesya?"

Lesya turned giving a blank look at Kain, then back to the sky. "Kain... have you ever known the sky to be that bright... this late?"

"What!?" Kain said harshly, turning form Lesya, to the window, staring up. "Oh my..." Kain ran out of the room without finishing his sentence, slamming through the door, and heading downstairs. Lesya gave a blank look and ran after him.

"Why didn't I see it! It's happening, and it's not me!" Kain spoke to himself, still running. And continued out of town.

****

Abadon's sword grew upward in an instant, tearing through an angel's chest, and throwing it onto the ground. His eyes burned with hellfire as his arm-blade expanded robbing the angel of his immortal life. He turned, surveying the battle. It was a sight to behold. Angels flocking in countless numbers in the sky, and countless demons battling them from the ground.

Abadon's voice commanded a booming tone, echoing across the battlefield. "WINGED ONES, FLANK THEM!"

Abadon looked behind him, noticing an uprising with-in his forces. A warrior was tearing through Abadon's forces like they were nothing more then pebbles in his path. "Deja vu." Abadon breathed. "Very well Kain, if you wish to have the same fate as your leader, Hikaru..."

"STOP!" Abadon's voice thundered throughout the entire region, his army stopping and the angels, landing and watching. The line of demons between Kain and Abadon slowly parted, leaving Kain and Abadon staring at each other, each of their eyes burning. The angels landed across from the demons, forming a wall of Angelic warriors on ones side, and demonic warriors on the other.

Kain stopped, looking around, stunned. It was the same as his vision when he saw the grail... could this one of those dark moments Xeiss saw? Kain pressed forward, clutching his swords tightly. This was the time, now or never. He would avenge Hikaru now... or join him.

Kain reached Abadon, looking around him. "It ends here, now demon."

Abadon grinned. "The nomad wishes to fight does he? You will end up kissing my feet, just as your leader Hikaru did."

"You cannot sway me demon! I will kill you, or you will kill me. I won't be your servant!"

"We shall see."

Abadon plunged his spiked hand into the ground, forming a small bulge in the ground between him and Kain. Kain quickly back flipped landing on one knee, and plunging his sword into the ground. Abadon howled, and pulled his arm from the ground, a piece of it now missing.

Kain eyes sparked wildly. "I won't fall for that again, demon!"

Abadon grinned. "Then have at me... warrior Kain!"

Kain rushed forward at Abadon, their blades colliding and showering sparks. The demons of Abadon watched, giving roars when Abadon struck Kain, and howls when it happened the other way around. Half of them chanted for their lord, while the others simply spat and called nasty names at Kain. The battle continued as Kain blocked Abadon's arm upward, and spun around, plunging his sword backward deep into Abadon's chest.

Abadon's deafening scream echoed across the group of demons, who howled wildly along with him. Abadon recoiled, a strew of whips extending from his persona, grabbing Kain. Abadon then turned flinging Kain into the air helplessly.

Kain rolled on the ground, slamming into a few demons that attempted to claw at him. He quickly dispatched them with his swords, and with a wave from Abadon they stopped, and backed off more. Abadon again advanced on Kain, their blades showering sparks. The demons came back into an uproar, while the angelic warriors just watched.

"You must be tired Kain, you're slow to block!" Abadon taunted as their blades continued to assault eachother. Every once and awhile the other would get a 1up, and the other would wear a new scratch.

****

The man posing as Kain ran at an ungodly speed through the forest, being carried by some unknown force of will. Branches of brushes flew past over and over again. He had outrun Lesya long ago, and was almost to Tristram. He dodged left in an instant, barely dodging a tree, and began to slow to a normal speed, as he emerged from the trees to a field that overlooked Tristram. He looked about at the countless warriors on the left and right side of two warriors battling... both familiar. In enraged fury Abadon fought Kain, both knowing this was the end of one of them. The man looked on, realizing what was going to happen... and he was very afraid...

****

Kain screamed plunging his swords deep into Abadon's chest. Countless demons, undead, winged ones, watched on one side, angels, arch angels, seraphs, and holy knights on the other, and Kain and Abadon fighting fiercely in the middle. Blades flew through the air faster then even eyes could perceive; yet somehow the two did. Both wore cuts and gashes from head to toe, yet Kain was clearly worse off. Kain had dug both his blades deep into Abadon, but he would pay for opening his guard. A ball of spikes formed and slammed into Kain, flying backwards and landing hard on the ground on his back.

Kain looked around, feeling like he'd suddenly awoken from a dream... He suddenly looked behind him, as a voice addressed him...

"Something wrong Kain? Your friends aren't here, they wont be able to help you." Abadon's face grew a large grin. "This is your last chance to stop me, after you're gone, your friends will be as well. All of heaven and hell watch us now! FIGHT me!"

Kain looked around him, countless demons of hell were on one side watching him, and countless angels from heaven were on the other. Kain was completely dazed... His eyes suddenly fixed back on Diablo, another force with-in him taking control...

Kain turned his head to the side, coughing up blood. Dead... all dead, all his fault... Xeiss, Severen, Mercy, Fearless, all of them, all his fault... He had to fight, if he didn't they'd all be dead... He had to kill Abadon. It was his only hope to stop them... he wouldn't let another die... Celes... Atlas... Shin Hikaru...

Kain looked at the form near him. Though so many looked on, none of them would intervene, his only hope, was the form...

"Help me..."

The form's voice echoed through Kain's head, though as only a whisper.

"I can not."

Kain pleaded. "Help me!"

The form's voice was more prominent this time, though still as calm.

"I can only help you if you help yourself. And there is only one way..."

Kain knew at the moment. He had to accept it, it was the only way...

"I am not Kain... and I never was..."

Though he didn't know how. Kain knew the form was smiling, despite the helmet that obscured its face.

Kain rose to his feet, to the amazement of Diablo. "My life doesn't matter. If I go, I'm going to take you with me."

Kain walked to Celes, who watched at the front. Atlas walked forward bearing his axes, but was quelled by Celes' hand. "I'm sorry I couldn't save you Celes... I'm so... so sorry... I will allow you to escape... go. Now."

Abadon laughed loudly. "YOU'RE DEAD KAIN! Pay your last respects to what you formerly knew as Celes and Atlas... and die at my feet... or..." Abadon grinned widely. "Bow under me... and I shall spare you."

Celes' expression turned to almost sadness... to the surprise of Abadon who watched. "I... I serve Abadon now... he is my master." She felt an extreme Deji vu, as if this had happened once before... a long time ago.

Kain smiled. "Not anymore... Tempest! It's time!" Kain yelled upward.

****

Kain instantly felt it all. A rush of power, of thought, of energy, of love, of understanding... A tempest of everything at once, all coming into him... His eyes blasted with energy, as did his blood and everything else about Kain. Suddenly all was understood. In this moment Kain now knew and understood EVERYTHING. War, peace, heaven, hell, his past... and his future... The only problem, was that Kain couldn't contain it all...

Kain screamed, yet he did not open his mouth. Hell and Heavens minions alike all jumped back, an extreme wave of energy hitting them, more powerful then any had seen in their immortal lives, save a select few. Kain began to levitate off the ground, still sending a telepathic scream. His eyes crackled with more electricity then ever before, and more then they ever would again. Lightning began to encircle his body, and a green aura began to encircle his soul. Kain rose high above all others, they could all feel he was more powerful then any of them, more powerful then any of them would ever be... And yet his power kept rising, he kept getting stronger. It was so strong Kain couldn't handle it... An unearthly blue blood flowed in a small stream down his face, though his green aura was so bright you could barely see it.

Kain's telepathic scream momentarily stopped, and all onlookers felt his voice inside their heads, it was almost too loud to take...

"YOU TREAT US LIKE ANIMALS, SEEING WHICH OF YOU CAN BRING US TO YOUR SIDE WITH A PROMISE OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS, JUST SO WE CAN DIE FOR YOUR WAR! ALL OF YOU, YOUR STUPID WAR! YOU FIGHT, BUT WE DIE!"

The onlookers began to back up, all of them beginning to fear this 'mortal'.

"WELL NO MORE! NEVER AGAIN WILL AN INNOCENT BEAR YOUR PAIN!"

His voice suddenly grew an unnerving calm.

"Never... again..."

Kain pulled his arms and feet together, almost into ball, then paused speaking one last line...

"This is what you wanted when you created me, wasn't it? One powerful enough to fight your war for you? ...Well enjoy your creation. Because now you shall reap the results."

Kain clenched his fists, and threw his arms and feet back outwards in a cross. Bright green expanded outward engulfing everything... and then... nothing remained...

****

"Hello?" Kain's voice tried to pierce through the brightness, though not succeeding well.

"Hello... Kain."

"Who's there?!" Kain yelled.

"Be not afraid."

"Am I... dead?" Kain spun around, trying to find that which was talking to him.

"Very close... but you are not dead."

"Then... are you... god?" Kain's surroundings begin to dim, forming into a single bright light in his void.

"Hmm... Yes... and no. Some have called us that, Kain... Some would call us otherwise. It... it is very complicated... If you believe us god, then that is what we are. If you believe us the universe, then that is what we are... If you believe us merely an alien... then that is what we are. Do you understand?"

"I... I don't know... Where is this?" Kain shielded his eyes as the brightness of the form increased.

"Maybe Heaven... Maybe the void... Maybe something else... In time you will understand more, but we have brought you here for a reason."

"What?" Kain unshielded his eyes, and stared at the being. Beautiful... so beautiful... Kain felt like crying the sight was so intense.

"You were betrayed Kain... in a way... you were betrayed by me. Long ago, my servants did something wrong. And while it started in good faith, they let this battle take them too far. However, that is in, as you call, 'The past'. You have made a leap to what you once were, but what lies ahead is a long and difficult struggle."

"Are you saying... that I'm to be a warrior of light?"

"Not exactly..." the voice answered. " I do not control the world as some believe Kain. Long ago I learned that it is not mine to control. It is yours. This is your world, and it is your choice to defend it, help it flourish, or let it die. I am just a guide, towards the way most would like their world to be. You are here, because somewhere in your soul, you are unsure about doing this, and you wanted to hear it for yourself. This is where you decide for yourself, if you want it all to end, or if you want to keep going. I can not decide for you, only you can."

"I... I don't know..." Kain replied, his voice cracking with indecision. "What about my... friends? Will they fall without me?"

"I can not say. They are powerful... and they could very well survive... but they could also fail just as easily. Nothing is certain, you choose your own destiny. I will reveal one thing. If you do not do this, lives will be lost, and one will never be regained. One will lose her heart, and very nearly her soul, left alone for a long time. And one will turn to what you fear most. Again however, nothing is certain, but these have been in motion for a long time, and will most likely end up that way."

Kain looked down, looking at his hands. "What good am I? I couldn't save those who needed it most..."

"You saved Xeiss Kain. If you had not shown up, she would have been consumed by evil, and turned into one of those witches. You also saved the entire group, by stopping Abadon from coming."

"Abadon..." Kain blurted. "He's marching on Tabula Rasa now... he'll kill them all..."

"No Kain. You have already stopped him from coming. What you set to do has been done."

"Is... Abadon, dead?" Kain became serious.

"No, he is not dead. He will not be dead for awhile yet, Kain. But you have stopped the fight between him and the angels for now. They have returned back to where they came from."

"I thought the angels resided here... with you?"

The voice paused for a very long time. "They are not here... but they are close... I can not interfere with them either... even if they do it in one of my names."

"How long do I have to choose?" Kain looked distraught.

"You have all of eternity. Time passes very differently here."

Kain looked up, his face turning to normal. "I don't need eternity. I can't go back on what I am. I'll go back."

"You are sure of this? It will be very hard, for a long time. You will find yourself more alone then ever before. And you will barely be able to control yourself. In time it will get easier, but... it will take much control and restraint."

"I've been on this path... since I awoke with no memory. If someone must suffer, so that others may live... Why not me? Send me back... Send me back to my world!"

"Thank you Kain... you are a brave warrior, one that doesn't come very often. Go back among them Kain. I will wait for your return, far, far from now."

Before Kain could say anything, he was pulled again in a single instant. Dragged back into the plane of Khandurus, and dumped harshly onto the ground of a forest somewhere.

Kain opened his eyes, pulling himself to his feet, mustering the majority of his strength. He felt like he had been dragged through a line of dragons, all beating him up on his way...

Kain brushed his hand through his hair, looking around. He suddenly reactively brushed a finger under his eye looking at it. "Blood... my blood? Blue?"

Although it took a moment, the force had been waiting for Kain to return. He suddenly dropped to the ground, slamming his fists onto the ground, tears falling from his eyes. "Why! Why did you do it to me?! Why couldn't you just let me die!"

Kain's eyes turned to fury, circling with lightning, that rebounded off his eyes outward. "I wont let it happen again! No more..." Kain's eyes suddenly flashed red, and he stood upright. "...no longer! Revenge!"

Kain closed his eyes, clenching his hands, after a moment, he reopened them, appearing in front of a very, very surprised dragon. "I'VE COME FOR YOU DRAGONEYES! I WILL GET BACK WHAT WAS ROBBED FROM ME! AND I WON'T STOP UNTIL I GET IT BACK!"

Scarlet quickly backed up, breathing a thin stream of fire at Kain, which just wrapped around him, deflecting off an invisible barrier. Kain raised both hands, and Dragoneyes was suddenly pinned to the ground. "First you, then all of them! Celes..." Kain's hands flowed with burning energy, which crackled heavily with lightning... and then... Kain let his fury go...

Right for Scarlet....

****