Rough Draft: "Satanic Empire" (Partial)

This is an act of literary terrorism
Welcome to the annual Paradise Sunset Gala! Here are our lovely guests: Over here, we have the Sinful Sirens, these seven young ladies may be gorgeous, but they’re not to be messed with, as they claim to be the embodiments of the 7 Deadly Sins. On this side of the room, we have the honorable Fraternal Order of Burschenshaft Herrlischkeit from Germany; see them as
they draw their swords.” The MC announced at the Gala in southern Japan. Before the MC could go any further, a large shadow swooped overhead; as the crowd looked up, they saw an incredible spectacle. Landing behind the stage, a huge, three headed, armored dragon, dark blue with silver armor plates all over its body and red hair on its heads, braided into streamers, sharp fangs, glowing silver eyes and massive white wings, and mounted atop the dragon’s back stood a soldier of some sort, he was dressed in a suit of battle armor that resembled the armor that his dragon wore, with a red cape and a wizard scepter. “Stay calm! I mean you no harm! I am Seraphim King Jeckolyte, one of the Three Kings of the Seraphim Realm and one of the Three Kings of Christmas fame, Malthus, Abraham and me; I bear warning to the people of Earth. Soon, the Dark Ones will sound the trumpets of war, and a group of them stand before you!” King Jeckolyte pointed his scepter at the 7 gorgeous women. “Let the Knights of Justice crush the foul serpents with their heels, and may our shields shine the stone gaze of Medusa back at the horrors of this world, for we must fight or die! May the just shine forth like stars!” King Jeckolyte fired an incredible, white-hot beam of energy at the Sinful Sirens, vaporizing them instantaneously. The 7 Sins, named Josephine, Elizabeth, Samara, Kathryn, Tammy, Selena and Celeste were no more. “Now, return to your business.” King Jeckolyte flew away in a huge cloud of dust…leaving a bewildered crowd in shock. They had no idea what was about to happen.
Sins of the Satanic Empire-Book 1-Rise
Cover Design: Black cover with eerie, bloodshot eyes in the center of the cover, with a swastika between them
What has been seen cannot be unseen…what has been seen cannot be unseen…What has been seen cannot be unseen…What has been seen cannot be unseen. Real suffering is not known…Real suffering is not known…REAL SUFFERING IS NOT KNOWN!!!!
Introduction: The Reports and the Attack
In the summer of 2020, reports from the NORTH AMERICA about a strange series of events in southeastern New York State involving the sightings of a strange, human-like figure that generated local civil interest, but was eventually dropped unexpectedly. The footage showed a large, dark, ghost-like figure marching around in a field outside of an old farmhouse. Whatever had visited in the night had left no footprints, even in the mud from the rain the night before. There were also no telltale clues, nothing, only the eyewitness accounts. The Governor of New York and the police, surprisingly, never continued to investigate the case. Then, things started happening. The Russian Federation was overthrown by coup, placing a new Czar on the seat of government, forming a new, vastly expansionist Russian Empire; which began a campaign of conquest in Central and southeast Asia, the Middle East came under the leadership of a “Second Prophet” named Mehmet III, who expanded the newly-revitalized Turkish Empire over a period of 15 years into a state called “Aleyadin Caliphate,” which became the largest Muslim state ever built, even bigger than the Umayyad Caliphate of the ninth century. The Christians, believing that the Antichrist Empire had been engineered by the new Muslim super-state, became very concerned about the state of the world. Mehmet III claimed to be the “glorious conqueror” for the Muslims, Mohammed’s flight from Medina and all of Islam’s struggles had culminated in Mehmet III’s ascension to the position of Sultan. He looked even more menacing, with a black robe, cape and turban. The European countries and the United States, by March of 2040, were deeply concerned, as they had no idea how, in just 20 years; the world could become so incredibly hostile. However, 20 years after the initial sighting of the creature on the farm, the people who saw the creature were looking for answers. They encountered a box full of nearly 3 dozen documents dating back to the 10th century, they came from a medieval Europestery in England, and the descriptions of the strange events were nearly identical to what had been seen in New York 20 years before.
Astonishingly, it looked like a depiction of the Brothers Grimm tale of “The Dark One in the Wood,” with a strange, unidentified creature in the woods near what is now Baronia-Felix, with a sorcerer of sorts destroying a small town, accompanied by demonic-looking creatures and other wizards, creeping from the depths of the forest. The researchers stared intently at the picture, mesmerized by the haunting similarities to the events of the past two decades, but, this was just a story, right? Well, that night was a chilly, early spring night, and suddenly, as one of the researchers looked over his shoulder, he saw a figure standing in front of the windowpane. It was a man, but a hideous-looking one with a spiked, drooping hat crown with an inverted Christian cross on top of it. Its hair was long, white and matted, its eyes horrid, its smile bloodthirsty, with a snake’s tongue hanging out of its fanged mouth. The man walked through the windowpane and the wall as if it wasn’t even there, holding a gigantic axe-blade staff in his hand, he attacked and killed the two other men, and slashed the man that tried to run from the vicious assailant, but not after the man tried to throw a chair at the evil entity; the entity blocked the chair with a wave of his hand. The wounded man collapsed from blood loss two minutes later…he did not survive…the Illuminati had arrived.
That was the only warning we’d ever get.
“Admiral Naron, the assault force is ready. Our destroyers are in position, with the battlecruisers further behind. We’re waiting for your signal.” Admiral Naron stood there for a minute, looking out the massive battleship’s main bridge tower at his fleet’s position; more than 15 ships, all churning the roaring waters from their oil-fired boilers. He looked at his pocketwatch, and gave the signal. “Commence operation HAMMER FIST. Crush them.” The huge, 15-ton iron bell on the top of the ship rang three times, shaking the bridge as it did so. Massive salvos roared away from the ships all at once. It looked like the entire world had just ignited. The impact on the tropical shores of Arion Island off the nation of Japan was just as terrifying. The great cloud forests immediately burst into flames; the towering inferno consumed all, reducing mansions and expensive homes that characterized this island to choking piles of soot and ash. The blaze continued to spread so fast that it spread faster than even the fastest athlete could run. No one escaped. The main town on the island, Hibiscus City, was reduced to cinders within two minutes. 30,000 people were burned alive. The Russian Grand Fleet had brought a holocaust upon Arion rarely seen in Meteorologia’s history; all of this was in the name of proving absolute supremacy over the other nations, to force them into submission. This type of bombardment was more of a psychological terror than anything else, seeing your home burn to the ground, your friend screaming for your help, but not having anything to douse his burning, slowly roasting body with, and your life vanish in front of you would do far more damage than simply bombing for tactical reasons. This bombardment was only the beginning. The fighter jets from even more terrifying aircraft carriers positioned behind the main flotilla roared overhead in a spectacular display of Russian military might. The planes ripped into the already infernal maelstrom with machine-gun fire and yet more incendiary bombs, igniting what little forest remained unburned. The attacks came again and again, continuous strafing runs, carpet bombing assaults and rocket barrages from the arsenal ships literally burned the island itself to cinders, sand on the beaches was fusing to glass from the heat. The firestorm was creating its own weather system, with lightning in clouds of smoke and whirling fire tornadoes dancing across the crying land. Showers of scalding ash sealed the incinerated inhabitants of Arion in their final agony. Admiral Naron looked at this holocaust with psychotically happy eyes. His duty to the Russian Empire of Fire and the Flame Lord was fulfilled here, in battle on these massive warships, it always was, and it always would be. The Admiral let out a low, demonic-sounding chuckle as his mission was complete. “This operation is a success. Glory to the Inferno Cross!!” Naron screamed. His soldiers roared in applause. The mission of Russia was simple; it wasn’t conquest, but the unmitigated annihilation of all non-Russian peoples, those viewed as “inferior” by His Majesty Lord of Infernos and the House of Kulakov. The goal was genocide of the entire “weak” world, along with other, ulterior motives that definitely existed. Such horrendous scenes as the one that befell Arion Island were all too common in the world these days, the Russians were burning villages, scorching fields and enslaving entire countries, forcing them to become vassal states to Russia and taxing them with ridiculous fees and overages; often, if a vassal couldn’t pay the tax, they were usually sentenced to slave labor; often working in horrendous, inhumane conditions, laboring ceaselessly in the iron foundries, shipyards or engine-rooms of the awe-inspiringly gargantuan warships, some of the battlecruisers were approaching the size of the former German Empire’s and the British of WWI. People were often brutally injured by these machines, and then left to die in pain and suffering, even when pleading for medical care. Women and men were not given separate jobs; a woman could easily be sent to a dark, hazardous mine or foundry just as easily as a man could. Even as far as dictatorships went, Russia was hideously cruel. At least dictators in years past had the sanity to put women in different roles as men. Some of the things that happened between slaves in the mines and foundries were so gruesome that people who died were envied by those who lived. The policy with slaves in Russia and Russia-controlled territory was that all slaves were to be punished in equal measure for daring to challenge Wallacha’s supreme authority. And, like all colonies, when the usefulness of the colony reached its end, the colony and all of its unfortunate inhabitants met the same ghastly fate as Arion just had. This burned, barren land, however, wasn’t simply left to rot. Colonies of Russian people, “Valids,” as they were called by the Royal House, moved in and used the fertile, burned soil to grow such crops as wheat, grain and apple. In this way, the vast Empire of Russia killed two birds with one stone; they conquered new territory while totally destroying the enemy simultaneously. This system of pillaging and conquest had been so successful that now only the great nations and nations outside of Russia influence remained sovereign. There were so few small nations left to burn…it was only a matter of time before Russia set its sights on bigger targets; even though other nations had nothing but prayer to rely on for protection, Russia crushed them…but never went after the huge targets, such as those in Rodinia or Laurentia, two of the other major continents. For 20 long years, that was the reality, and it had caused some major political shakeups, such as the return of a massive Solar Caliphate, which stretched from the border with Hindustan and Li to the Pillars of Stone, with its capital in New Assyria; and was an enormous threat to Rodinia. Rodinia had created a united military just for stopping the Caliphate, informally called “Aleyadin Empire,” which had made two moves to invade Iberia and Lusitania, but was repelled both times. To be invaded by the Russians meant certain death, however, even if it didn’t happen right away; to die right away was to be spared an agonizing death; knowing this, when burgundy-uniformed Russian troops marched into a town, city or capital, the citizens begged for death, however, those that begged were often killed in the worst possible ways imaginable. As Admiral Naron’s fleet began steaming back into the high seas of the Great Misty Ocean, he was certain that there would be more conquests yet ahead, more lands to conquer, more people to kill, and more prestige to be had in the eyes of Inferno Lord Kulakov. Admiral Naron had enjoyed a reputation as one of the finest commanders in history. His brutal military tactics of eliminating all inhabitants of a conquered territory through nothing short of a genocidal massacre and inspirational voice among his men were legendary amongst Russian sailors and soldiers alike. He was never wrong, because the Seer always told him exactly what to expect at every engagement. As he stood on the bridge tower of the enormous arsenal ship, the fleet began playing through heavy seas; the bell on the top of the bridge was ringing audibly from the ships heaving in the moaning, howling wind and the crashing 30-foot seas. It was only due to the Admiral’s exquisite hearing that he heard the moaning cry of an Albatross-Eagle, huge bird-like creatures used as messengers across the vast, tumultuous seas of the Great Misty Ocean, these had only recently been discovered by science. Admiral Naron walked swiftly and purposefully out onto the decks of his ship, into the roaring wind, stinging, cold rain and crashing waves to receive the message from the enormous bird hovering over the deck, withstanding the massive white squall. He took a large, very old wooden chest from the eagle’s talons, and struggled against the heaving, rocking ship to get it back onto the bridge, out of the raging storm. As he brought it to his desk, flanked by two huge, flaming torches for light and warmth in the cold rain outside, he opened the box, a cloud of dust making him sneeze as the lock clicked open. Inside the ancient chest, he found a small scroll of yellowed, worn paper, peppered with holes along the edges. Admiral Naron looked at the map with wanting, lustful eyes. The object he had crossed half the globe to find, pillaging innumerable villages and towns to acquire, had just been dropped into his lap by a routine cargo delivery. As he gazed longingly at the scroll, it was his prerogative to share the news of the discovery to his crew, so that they could share in the celebration as well. Admiral Naron stood up from his desk and walked towards the mess hall, his huge steel-toed boots making huge clanking sounds as he walked along the steel floors. The interior of a Russian warship looked just as frightening as the exterior, cold, dreary and iron. The Admiral opened the door to the mess hall; and the entire crew stood up and snapped to attention from the steel, uncomfortable benches, attempting to keep their food on the table because of the ship’s rocking. There were huge torches lining the edges of the mess hall, each one shaped like a different gargoyle-shaped figure, and a huge, flaming candelabra hanging over the mess hall, this caused no small amount of concern during a storm, as it could easily crash to the floor, crushing the sailors eating their gruel-slop, containing every nutrient the body needed. There were huge red tablecloths with the eerie-looking Inferno Cross embroidered onto them, the symbol of terror the world over. “Prince Ferdinand, come forward!” the Admiral yelled in his loud, Slavic accent. Obeying the order, a very tall, lanky, 19-year old wearing an unusually elaborate Russian officer uniform stepped towards the podium at the far end of the mess hall. The Admiral saluted the Prince as he walked up the podium, placed his spindly hands on the sides of the lectern and began to speak. “Gentlemen of Russia, Admiral Naron has made a phenomenal discovery! The non-Russians are nothing but vermin, they cower from our forces and die like animals when we arrive, but the purpose of this war is not just conquest, it is to locate the 5 Sacred Icons. These Icons, if possessed by one entity, will give that entity the power of God himself. What I hold in my hand now, this scroll, is the map to the first Icon. We will find it!! We will be gods!!!” Ferdinand yelled, flailing his arms in the air in a very triumphant manner. The sailors stood up and cheered, and the guards, in full armor, kneeled in respect for Prince Ferdinand. Ferdinand Kulakov was the favorite of Lord Kulakov’s two sons, he was tenacious, brutal and didn’t take no for an answer. Imran, his older brother, was a soldier through and through AND just as good a tactical planner, very important, but not well enough for his father, as, according to him, fighting and planning were only part of the battle, despite the fact that war was just that. It was just one of his father’s weird, tyrannical quirks. Ferdinand was hailed as one of the greatest tactical planners in history, along with his brother, he had been instrumental in the war effort and he was also competent with any weapon as well. Ferdinand stepped off the podium as the General took his place. Ferdinand was always at odds with his brother; their sibling rivalry would only be exasperated by Ferdinand’s triumph in finding the Icon Map. However, if there was one thing Ferdinand envied about his brother, only a year older than he, it was his ability to find dates; unlike Ferdinand, who looked just like any woman wanted him to, Imran truly looked and acted like a prince. He had brown hair, always combed in a very neat manner with bangs partially covering his left eye, brown eyes, and a very handsome face and was as tall and lanky as Ferdinand was, just a year older. As such, girls liked him far more, for his brains and his appearance. Ferdinand had never been in love or a relationship, ever, and he was going to be 20 the following month. Ferdinand didn’t want to marry this girl that his father suggested for him, as he wanted to find a girl that would honestly love him, not just marry him under pain of death from his tyrant father. He knew who the girl was, a very pretty, pale-skinned, green-eyed girl with long red hair named Samantha Jinrich Lucembursky; she would definitely keep him happy, but still…Sam was a bit pushy and very high-maintenance, something Ferdinand didn’t want to put up with. She was from a Baronia-Felix family heavily involved in Baronian politics, they always had been, and she had been living in Russia for the past 3 years as a protector for the Royal Family, however, Ferdinand didn’t want to be her husband, despite the fact that Sam was always attempting to change his mind. His brother would be more of her type. However, finding his own girl didn’t seem likely at this point. However, he had no other alternative…unless… yes, he had made the fateful decision already. He’d rather be dead than married to a woman he didn’t love. He looked around his sumptuous, warm, richly decorated cabin aboard the ship, thinking about the life he was about to embrace He had grown up in utter and complete splendor, now, if he fulfilled his destiny, he would be the god of the New World. However, in his eyes, death was a better alternative to misery for the rest of one’s life. Ferdinand opened the map and saw ancient runes written all over it, and Ferdinand was mesmerized by the locations and the intricate details of the map; as the storm raged outside, he suddenly felt a strange presence in the room, as if he was being watched by someone. Just then, he heard a bump, like something being dropped on the floor, only to turn around and be face to face with a black, spooky entity with red eyes, huge fangs and a huge head of wild hair; the specter was swaying back and forth eerily. “Who are you?!” Ferdinand yelled, bravely, but with a tone of disturbance in his voice; he held his gun up and pointed it at the bizarre ghost’s head. “Return the Icon…Return the Icon…” is all it moaned. “Icon?” Ferdinand said, defiantly. Just then, the ghost changed shape with a gurgling grunt, into a man; he had a huge spiked crown-hat with an inverted Christian cross on it, and a huge axe-blade staff. His eyes were horrid, and his smile bloodthirsty. He had long, matted white hair. “What are you?!” Ferdinand yelled, terrified. “…Angry…” is all the monstrous man hissed. He then took his staff, raised it high into the air, and slammed it onto the floor of the deck, creating a huge pentagram-like design, made out of glowing coals, smelling of sulfur and brimstone. The design was surrounded by ancient runic tongues; much like ancient dark magic spells. Just then, a demon, looking bizarrely like a naked man crossed with a hairless dog with enormous sickle claws and glowing, white voids for eyes, stood in front of Ferdinand after crawling out of the center of the pentagram. “Leave, now!!!” the demon hissed, after screaming like a bloodthirsty banshee. Ferdinand grabbed the map and chest and fled the room as fast as he could. He heard the footsteps of the demon charging after him. The fleet was in the Northern Quadrant of the Great Misty Ocean, near the coast of Japan. Ferdinand held onto the map, walked over to a control box, and set the ship’s engine core to max power and jamming the box shut; the ship couldn’t run at such critical levels for more than 10 minutes before the ship exploded. He was faking his own death, liberating him from the oppressive reign of his father AND leaving his father with a sub-par son as his successor, not to mention evading what appeared to be a shape-shifting wizard and a demonic creature. He walked over to the box, disabled the alarm, pulled the huge, red lever that controlled the power, and jammed the console. It was done. Ferdinand now had 10 minutes to get the heck out of there, but he knew just how he was going to accomplish this, as he was always prepared for any obstacle in the way of his goal. The huge Albatross-Eagle, a newly-discovered organism, hadn’t yet left the ship, despite the howling storm. Ferdinand staggered onto the deck, fighting against the brutal onslaught of wind, rain and waves. He saw the huge bird waiting for him; Albatross-Eagles could read minds, so they understood human thoughts. Ferdinand jumped onto the back of the majestic creature, it bucked like a horse and flew off into the raging storm; never to return again to the huge fleet on its way back to Russian Fleet Base Alpha, a huge navy yard on one of the huge colonies of conquered territory in the Pacific Rim. As Ferdinand put his rain hood on, he heard a huge, fiery blast from behind him; the ship had detonated into thousands of burning bits of metal; the crew and the wizard were dead. His destination was the European Union. They promised to offer amnesty of ANY Russian citizen that defected, and they knew of Ferdinand’s tactical brilliance very well. They’d be happy to have him on their side, most definitely. The huge eagle continued punching through the storm, towards safety from both the storm and Russian wrath, for 12 agonizing hours.
The storm had cleared, with the bright sun shining brilliantly upon the crystal-clear seas that characterized Sweden’s EUROPE EMPIRE coastline. Europe was a land of riches, both material and natural.As of the events of the Russian Genocide War, Europe was the most prosperous bloc in Earth’s history and the most powerful unified militarily as well. It covered a vast territory; from the “forest in the East to the Misty Oceans cold,” though it wasn’t as vast as the other superpower, Russia, the Euro, or bulk European currency, was the one of the reserve currencies for the world, along with the NORTH AMERICA dollar, Japanese Yen and British Pound, and a symbol of wealth, power and pride.EconomicFair Trade was the name of the game here, with taxation of the rich to give the money to those who actually needed it, not to those who didn’t. This had created a bloc that had the highest living standards in the world and the happiest people; the only ones that weren’t happy were the superrich, because they were taxed so heavily. Under theEUROPE EMPIRE’s intergovernmental policies, the conservatives complained about being oppressed and facing a double-standard; they were griping about treated like second-class citizens, even though they were some richest people in the world, however, whiners will be whiners. Its natural riches definitely contributed to its material ones, the massive EUROPE EMPIRE contained habitats from polar to subtropical, and people occupied all of these areas with extraordinary ways of making a living. Coastal towns used huge wind farms for power. The northern parts of the Union used geothermal power; numerous hot spring resorts and spas operated near these springs, allowing visitors to relax in comfort in a winter wonderland of moonlit, snow-covered fields shrouded in an ethereal cloak of diamond dust, tiny suspended snowflakes. The European people themselves weren’t the nicest people, especially to North Americans in France’s case; however, they had a distinct fatalism about them that came from the people living in cold climates, however, this was absent in the southern parts of the EUROPE EMPIRE where grain and food production was truly staggering in size and wealth, some of the wealthiest farms in the world operated there. The European united military, created as a response to Russian aggression over the past 20 years and the return of the goliath Turkish Caliphate, led by Sultan Mehmet III, was a supremely disciplined, organized force, with a 5,950,000-man standing Armyand 300,000 personnel Air Force, but the Navy was where the legends were. The European Navy was the pride of Europe and the most advanced Navy in the world; not the most powerful, but far from the menacing, demonic-looking, smoke-belching industrial warships used by Russia, the European Navy consisted of beautiful, but extraordinarily powerful warships; like the nations that they served, they had a serene, but lethal grace; the true titans of the Monese Navy were the aircraft carriers and the two ships Batillus and Tyrannous; massive, ultra powerful super-arsenal ships; they clocked in at 111,000 tons and were powered by gargantuan air-boat fans the size of wind turbines and 4 massive triple-screw propellers; the carriers were a ground-shaking 130,000 tons.Were it not for the Seer, Russia would have been crushed years ago. All weapons used in European Navies were based around the awesome power of cold and ice; common Navy weapons were Ice-Shard AA cannons, Ice Rays for ship-to-ship combat, and Liquid Nitrogen Anti-Ship Missiles. All vehicles, whether aircraft, tanks, ships or whatever, were powered by liquid nitrogen and iron slurry; spinning in a centrifuge created a massive electric field, generating power for these huge vehicles. Aircraft such as the Saab-700, an enormous, supersonic bomber and the Eurocopter-5000, a huge, “gyro lifter” transport aircraft were some of the most fantastic aircraft ever built, all emblazoned with the massive blue Circle of Stars roundel , as well as their respective nation’s insignia on their fuselages. The Europeans as well as the North Americans had been in an arms race with Russia just before Russia declared war nearly 20 years before, but, thanks to the Seer, the ridiculously powerful European and NORTH AMERICA Armed Forces, the most advanced in the world, was essentially trapped, just waiting to spring into the fray at the first sign of the Seer’s death. Due to the European Union’s leftist ideology, Europe was considered arrogant and wicked by the crazy evangelical church followers, only allowed to exist because the Devil supported the President of European Union by pretty much every other country except for the NORTH AMERICA government, back to the Democratic Party majority seen in WWII, and Japan, all flaming liberals. However, the Presidents of both Europe or North America didn’t give a damn about the other, “enemy” nations, Europe was invincible, and as such, was, along with North America, the self-proclaimed global policeman, intervening in every conflict anywhere a trouble spot emerged, even in peacetime. Just then, Ferdinand saw the mighty Red Fjord of the Military Academy District; these cliffs towered over the southern, sub-tropical, arable land’s coast that made up the Vastervik Province of the EUROPE EMPIRE Huge, churning wind turbines dotted the coastline here and there, jutting up like beacons in the warm ocean breeze out of the gently swaying and bowing reeds in the fields overlooking the cliffs. They made a gentle churning noise as they spun, generating power for millions of residents in the southern provinces. However, Ferdinand needed to find the President or one of his consorts and express his desire to defect; the EUROPE EMPIRE Military Academy Swedish Campus of Europe would be the best place to start. Ferdinand soared down through the clouds and laid eyes on a huge building complex; there were huge tanks, trucks, and helicopters parked on a massive aircraft lot; there had to be at least 500 bombers lined up on one huge base alone. Also, massive Eurocopter-5000s were parked along the far side of the lot, which stretched for more than 6 miles across. “Wow…” Ferdinand said. Even back in Russia, he had never seen this many aircraft in one place. This was clearly the Academy; no other place in this area had as much heavy armor and aircraft in one spot. Just then, a marching square of infantry was walking across the lot, with cadets at the Academy reciting answers to various commands given by their drill instructors. However, Ferdinand quickly got himself into trouble when an attack helicopter on routine maneuvers spotted him riding the giant Albatross-Eagle. “This is a no-fly zone! Please reroute immediately or we will fire on you!” Looking at the incredibly lethal weapons platform that this helicopter possessed, Ferdinand had no choice but to comply. He heeded the warning and turned off towards the west, hugging the cliffs of the Baltic Coast. The Albatross-Eagle would need to land and rest soon, so he was looking for one of the serene reed fields that he saw on the way in to rest. He soon located one on of the great grasslands, on a huge, breezy Cliffside with a majestic view of the crashing seas, still churning from the huge storm at sea. The fjord cliffs were more than 2000 feet tall, it was a dizzying height; a sheer drop right into the churning waves meant certain death to anyone unfortunate enough to fall. Ferdinand was careful to enjoy the view from a safe distance. As the huge bird alighted, its wing beats kicked up dust and made the grass bend underneath it, disturbing the serenity of the scenery for a brief moment; then it was back to nature and the beauty of the outdoors; Ferdinand was the only person around for miles; this was both good and bad. He liked the peace and isolation, the gulls and terns calling, the swallows flying over the grasslands snapping up wayward insects, but he needed to find civilization, as birds couldn’t grant him amnesty, and until he did formally defect, he was an illegal refugee and vulnerable to imprisonment, as he would be subject to espionage trials. It was time to move, he needed to fly to the Swedish EuropeanAdministration Building, called Vastervik Fatherland District, and the city of Rurik.Rurik was only 25 miles away, and built in a beautiful, verdantgreen valley on the Northwest Rainforests, a strip of thick, soaked, misty forests where it rained more than 300 days out of the year, fed by the North Sea fogs coming in over the coast. Therefore, the city was regularly cloaked in fog every morning. The EUROPE EMPIREAdministration Center, a huge building complex in a bustling metropolis, was where he needed to go to meet the European Amnesty Board. He realized that the sudden appearance of a Russian Crown Prince in aEuropean Government Complex would cause no small amount of awkwardness, but it was better than being charged with espionage. Ferdinand jumped onto the huge Albatross-Eagle’s white, feathery back and urged the bird to take off, its gargantuan wings kicking up a huge cloud of dust and scaring some of the swallows off; they were headed directly to Rurik. He could already see the trees starting to get thicker, from an isolated, stunted pine here and there amongst the wind turbines to clumps of trees that continued to get bigger and taller.The clouds were becoming noticeably denser as Ferdinand continued to fly into the forested region; he was careful to avoid the huge emergent trees, massive, ancient,white pine, ash, birch, giant oak trees and spruces, which jutted far above the normal canopy; these were obvious navigational hazards; as these trees could grow between 250-411 feet high; the mountain ash trees could grow to nearly 500 feet! The fog, combined with the trees, made for dicey flying. These forests were eerie, dark and downright spooky at times, especially at night, with the top predators, the European Brown Bear and wolves;however, they were an integral part of the culture of this part of the EUROPE EMPIRE Many hauntingly beautiful folk songs were written about the great trees of Europe; it was this immense diversity of cultures and races that made the EUROPE EMPIRE the most diverse and prosperous nation in the world. The EUROPE EMPIRE motto was “Unity in Diversity,” in recognition of this diversity. Ferdinand remembered one of these forest songs, in which two young people, a prince and a princess, meet under an ancient ash tree at age 2, and they grow apart, but meet each other again under the same ash tree and marry happily, saving their kingdom from a terrible enemy. He didn’t know where he had heardthe song or if was even a real song; it may have been only the dream of a younger Ferdinand, not troubled by laws or duties. He was taking a trip down memory lane as he flew over the serene, misty forests and deep, humbling fjords that characterized this part of the Swedish coastline. He thought about his arranged fiancée, Samantha Lucembursky, he didn’t love her, but he felt sorry for her, she was probably a wreck over his presumed death. Ferdinand had a long history with her; it was almost a fairy-tale type romance in itself, they met at a huge masquerade ball in the Russian capital, Burgundy, when they were both 15. They were masked and dancing with one another, Ferdinand didn’t even know who he was dancing with, and her mask was so elaborate. Her dress still stuck out in his mind like a sharp crag at sea, it was a scarlet-crimson, heavily decorated dress with all manner of feathers and plumes on it. After the last waltz, she removed her mask and stared into Ferdinand’s eyes, her exotic, green eyes casting an enchanting spell over him. They immediately hit it off, became very close over the next few years, and then gradually grew apart; he had only figured out that she would be his wife if he didn’t find someone the previous month. He had his reasons for not marrying her; she was extraordinarily overprotective and trained in the ancient kab-ba fighting style; she could almost defy the laws of nature with this ability in combat; not a good combination for any other girl, but an excellent bodyguard for him.However, in the middle of his daydream, however, he saw the outskirts of the city of Rurik, with its odd, slanted roofs that characterized this area of theEuropean Union; since it was so rainy, the roofs were slanted to create a beautiful, misty waterfall effect; during a rain shower, all of the roofs would have cascading waterfalls coming off of them, pouring into floating gardens that surrounded each house, these often contained exotic plants and fish. There was a reason that Rurik was considered the Jewel in the Crown of the EUROPE EMPIRE, as it was #1 on the list of the “Most Amazing Cities in the World” for three years in a row. The city was surrounded by ancient cloud forest and built like the city of Tenochtitlan, with floating gardens and a huge, glass pyramid-like building in the center of the city with roads leading to it; it looked like a pyramid of wine glasses. A helipad was in the back lot behind it. As Ferdinand descended below the low clouds, he saw the lights of the city, with flashing billboards and labels on the buildings, the huge, sprawling, rather than towering structures, and cars and aircraft flying about; it was the hustle and bustle of the big city, with an exotic twist that only Rurik could provide. As he took the Albatross Eagle in for a landing at the glass pyramid building, glowing in ethereal blue lights, hebraced himself for the amnesty board.
“Honorable Amnesty Councilman Erik Sigurdsson, I formally defect from the Russian Empire and place myself in your nation’s service.” Ferdinand announced to the Council of Foreign Affairs Amnesty Department chairman Erik Sigurdsson; he had already given his name, background, and bloodline. However, his military tactics were what really impressed the Council, his legendary military mind would be a great help in any branch of the Monese Armed Forces, united under the EUROPE EMPIRE wartime provision. Just then, a judge came into the huge, blue-lit, blue carpeted, blue-walled Council room. “Mr. Kulakov, we hereby grant you citizenship and all privileges associated with said citizenship. Welcome to Europe.” the judge said, officially. “However, as a result of your outstanding military performance, we request that you take the position of Chief Military Advisor on the President’s Cabinet; you will be provided with a place of residence within Rurik, Sweden itself and all amenities needed; you will live in the Admiral House, the place of residence for all appointed CMAs. “ “Thank you, Honorable Councilman.” “Council dismissed.” Sigurdsson barked, but only after another Councilor scolded Sigurdsson, possibly for the rashness of his decision. After all, he was the next in line for the ruler of the sworn enemy nation. However, Ferdinand had no desire to link himself with his birthright anymore; he hereby discarded his name, taking the alias of LucianMoonraiser, he was no longer Prince of Russia; that was his brother’s title now. That was what he was, not what he had become. “I am a sovereign soldier of Europe. I am a new man.”Ferdinand Kulakov was dead. Lucian continued walking with the escort to the diplomatic limousine which would take him to the Admiral House. “Come, sir, you’ll want to go inside for the night, it hasn’t rained more than 3 times today.” Lucian stepped into the limousine and drove off into the rainy, misty night.
The limousine dropped Lucian off at the door to the Admiral House; it was a huge waterfront manor on the shores of Gossamer Lagoon, a tranquil, serene bay that opened to the Atlantic Ocean’s foggy reaches. There was only one other manor on the bayside, and it was just as huge and beautiful, albeit abandoned; The manor that stood in front of him, however, was exquisitely splendid from the outside; it was a white, marble mansion that had all the appearance of a Roman palace, with the pillars in front of the door and a road meandering underneath the overhang, the huge, Gothic wooden doors, and the myriad windows on all 3 floors. The house looked unoccupied, until he opened the door and turned on the lights. The interior was just as amazing as the exterior, if not more so; there was a huge chandelier over the main center room, with two spiral staircases sweeping up the three floors with a huge, glass sailing ship between the staircases on a huge podium. There were lights circling the room, each one illuminating the picture of a former Chief Military Advisor of the EUROPE EMPIRE and other famous European military personnel. The floors were of solid camphor and redwood, from the great forests just outside the city of Rurik. Lucianlooked out across the bay; it was foggy, misty and mysterious;with only a few boats here and there, audible only by their foghorns, along with the only other mansion on this bay, he felt alone at the edge of the world…and vulnerable to whatever tried to kill him aboard the ship. That “sorcerer” was quite disturbing, to say the least. Lucian walked up the stairs to the third floor, where there was a huge balcony on the rooftop, facing the other mansion, there was obviously nobody home, as every window in the building was dark, but Lucian couldn’t see that far, the house was a mile down the beach. He sat down in the chair that was on the balcony, still slightly damp from the rain earlier that day, and looked out over the bay. The sun was setting in a brilliant, burning orange ball; it was a blood-red orb slowly sinking over the horizon, illuminating the skies with a spectacular array of reds, yellows and purples. It had been a very, very eventful 2 days, his plan to defect had been a stunning success; he now had a new life, a new identity, and a new purpose; he would rather serve a just nation than rule a barbaric one. However, Lucian realized that he was lucky; he was able to escape Russia’s wrath. Millions of others hadn’t been so lucky. Lucian, from that point forward, had made it his life’s work to dismantle his father’s Russia, and that would start by presenting the Icon Map to the EUROPE EMPIRE Ministry that week. For now, however, he looked at the most recent world map; so far, in the past 20 years since the start of the war, Russia had conquered and destroyed 15 nations; not a lot, when compared to the size of the Earth and the mysterious reasons why Russia wouldn’t attack another major power. What was so horrific about it was the totality of the obliteration and enslavement of those conquered. Still, many great, beautiful and noble countries existed, including the People’s Republic of China, a huge, communist nation of more than 2 billion people; the nation’s creed was “peace through prosperity, prosperity through peace.” As such, the main emphasis was defense, not assault when it came to military policies; despite the fact that China, the People’s Republic, possessed a supremely well-trained and equipped 2,650,000-man ground army and a 500-ship Naval force, it was the most effective military in the world and one of the most advanced, on par with the EUROPE EMPIRE and North America; even though both the U.S’s and Russia’s armies were a lot more powerful. It had never lost a battle; even the NORTH AMERICA suffered some defeats. What was remarkable about China was its traditions and culture, the traditional outfits worn by both the men and women were among the most beautiful in the world, the shining, iridescent patterns of dragons, crescent moons and solar helixes on the robes sparkling in the sunlight, Chinese girls were prized as some of the most beautiful, gentle women on the planet, their soft accents and beautiful bodies desired by men the world over, which led to human trafficking problems. Also, the great hotels for travelers and tourists were amazing in elaborate architecture, with huge frescoes on the walls and doors. Also there were the famous falcon races, where falconry experts raced their birds in competition with one another in grand style and flourish.China’s resorts and Japan’s resorts were frequented by elite and commoners the world over; some of the smaller places received few customers, but the glorious old bathhouses of the Hong Kong and Japanese Seaside Districts, some of these dating back more than 600 years, were the pinnacle of art and splendor, with huge, cavernous restaurants, massive, multilevel hot-tub rooms bathed in sultry heat lamps, dining halls fit for royalty with beautiful crystalline chandeliers and solid camphor wood tables with the finest silk tablecloths. The epitome of splendor and notoriety was OsbornHouse, a bathhouse with all of the above-listed amenities, but the real draw was the beautiful girls employed as workers there, they all lived there in luxury. One of them, a blonde beauty by the name of CassandraMorina, was enough advertising as it was; she had an almost perfect body and was also very smart, if a little bitchy at times. She was often seen sitting in the hot tubs with a bunch of young men, all trying to sit as close to her as possible. However, there was this one guy who always seemed to have a special place with her; he was a 20-year old falconer by the name of Lawrence Thüringen, and his bird, a huge Rainbow Phoenix namedAmun-Ra. These birds were a glorious red, orange and white color with a huge, fan-like crest, they were as big as Albatross-Eagles, and their plumage shined like a rainbow after a warm summer rain in the sun. He would often give Cassandra and her two older sisters, the heiresses to the Osborn House business rides on this huge bird, much to the chagrin of the other 5 men pursuing her as a romantic interest. After all, very few had ever trained a Rainbow Phoenix.Lawrence himself was a very handsome young man with brown hair that covered his left eye and a brilliant black and white robe and uniform. He was captain of the China Helios Racing Team, the best in the world with 30 championships; albeit they were the most hated team in the world, especially by their arch-rivals, the Moonbeam Racing Team. This rivalry was so intense that fans would often riot in the stands of the racing coliseum, requiring police intervention.Lawrence and Cassandra’s relationship with each other wasn’t without awkward moments, but they always turned out happy in the end; such as the time when someone filmed them sitting on a couch in front of a fire, with Cassandra wearing nothing but a tight, black corset and panties sitting on Lawrence’s lap, her brilliant diamond earrings clearly visible in the video as well. This went viral on the Internet, causing no small amount of embarrassment, eventually; however, Cassandra gained a lot from the incident, as she was now a professional model with a huge fan base. Still, the “Cassie Sex Tape” was topping the file-sharing websites’ playlists.The NORTH AMERICAA. was different; it was the most successful democracy the world had ever seen; the NORTH AMERICA technology was awe-inspiring; the NORTH AMERICAA. contained the world’s tallest buildings, and the most advanced cars, and the most advanced weapons and vehicles. Amphibious aircraft, robots, super-ships, lasers, rail guns, proton beams, anti-gravity tanks and plasma weaponry were all developing weaponry in the NORTH AMERICA Army. Last, but certainly not least, was the Caliphateof Aleyadin, a massive, industrial, Muslim giant ruled from the city of Istanbul Metropolis, and the Great Palace, a massive, Muslim-mosque architectural building; with its typical beautiful Taj Mahal-likeconstruction and roof. The Caliphate had a lot to be proud of, as it had fended off a full-blown assault from the Russian military juggernaut, just before its unification, in which the lordly Al-Jabir House in Istanbul, the capital of the new Turkish empire, ruled over a vast territory, a massive, prosperous Empire of the Crescent, it was actually founded by a group of radical Islamic terrorists, called Shah Mustafa, placing Sultan Mehmet III in power from the Republic of Turkey and now the massive Muslim Empire fiercely opposed the Russian Christianregime, but was officially neutral. The Caliphate had a massive ground army, more than 5 million troops and the latest technology, all indigenously made. The Air Force and Navy were also very powerful. Christians the world over believed the Anti-Christ Empire was manifesting itself in the Caliphate Sultan. The Caliphate was the only civilization ever to succeed in staving off its obliteration, and the message was sent to Russia-and the world, that Russia’s Grand Army wasn’t invincible, even with the Seer.Japanwas already a re-armed great power; a new P.M. had taken power at only 32 years of age in Japan; she was already sending dignitaries to meet with NORTH AMERICA leaders to establish military routes across the Pacific AND talking about the possibility of a superpower Japan, so it appeared that expansion of territory wasn’t out of the question.With these nations, the world was a very mighty, yet dangerous place. Lucian was anxious to visit all these places. However, Lucian had only one goal: Dismantle his tyrant father’s empire and make it safe for the world to sleep at night, free from the fear of annihilation. That would start by presenting the Icon Map to the Ministry the next day, as Lucian fell asleep.
Only a few hours later, however, Lucian awoke after a terrible nightmare, at least, what he thought was a nightmare. Lucian had awoken in a dark, reddish-tinted room with only a single windowpane, looking out over a red moon in the middle a cornfield…Just then, he heard grumbling, snarling and wheezing behind him. Not armed with any weapon, he turned to fight the bizarre, grinning demonic entity behind him. The demon spoke just two words: “Tempelritters…Here!”Bizarrely, Lucian was somewhat intrigued by the “demon,” it looked like a gigantic, grinning dog with a very familiar symbol on its forehead: a swastika, like the Nazi Party symbol. “The Master would like to see you now…” Just then, an eerie figure emerged from the shadows behind the dog, it was a man with a huge, wide-brimmed hat and a huge sword, a black robe, red uniform and stoic, sullen eyes. “My name is Mathematician…and your days are numbered…The Dark Lord of Blindness will eventually kill you.”After that, Lucian returned to his bed, as if he was never “abducted” in the first place…”It was only a dream…” Lucian panted in fright.
The next day dawned bright and early, and Lucian was awake before dawn, as always. He was standing in front of the huge mirror in his master bathroom and making sure his new uniform was on straight. It was a deep, navy blue and silver robe-like uniform that was very elegantly woven and embroidered with silver text, written in English and French. He looked almost ghostly walking in his uniform, such was the desired effect of EUROPE EMPIRE officials; they wished to look almost superhuman in their abilities…and egos. His first meeting with the rest of the Regional Cabinet was that morning in the glass-pyramid building, called the European Administration Center-Rurik Branch, and the helicopter that would fly him in would be landing in five minutes, and he hadn’t yet had his morning tea. After determining that his uniform was sufficiently positioned, Lucian swept down the stairs to the huge, wood-floor, porcelain cabinet kitchen and made a very,very quick cup of tea, the tea wasn’t even close to being done when he grabbed the Icon Map briefcase and swished down the cup of bitter, bland, hastily prepared cup of tea; he stepped outside onto the thankfully-paved and not muddy helipad,where he waited anxiously for the helicopter to land; after two minutes, the rhythmic thumping of helicopter rotors put his mind at ease.The chopper landed directly in front of him; Lucian quickly stepped inside, off the wet, cold ground and shut the door behind him. “You’re two minutes late…” Lucian said, annoyed. “Hey, I got here as fast as I could! Are all you government clowns so pushy?” the pilot said in his bizarre drawling accent. The helicopter took off and flew off in the direction of the main city; the European Administration Center was already visible, still glowing blue as the sun began to creep inexorably above the horizon. Lucian looked out over the horizon as the sun began to rise. The helicopter zoomed through the misty morning fog, with the sun struggling to burn through the steely-gray clouds that perpetually cloaked Rurik, Sweden, in haze. The chopper landed in the back lot of theEuropeanAdministration Center; once the helicopter landed, Lucian quickly stepped out; even before the whine of the helicopter engines stopped idling. Lucian carried his briefcase into the cavernous, blue doorway and walked down the long hallway towards the EUROPE EMPIRE Conference Room in the very center of the building, the most logical place to have an important room, as it symbolized the central government as the support system for the entire EUROPE EMPIRE government centers in Sweden, but it also protected it from attacks, in a more practical purpose. As Lucian walked down the hallway, however, he was met with nervous, uncertain glances. To the majority of the administrators in the building, Lucian was still Kulakov, the Crown Prince of Kulakov House. They didn’t know what Lucian was capable of; what if that briefcase was a bomb? No one knew. Lucian ignored these nervous glances and walked toward the brilliant white light of the conference room. As he stepped in, he was greeted by the rest of the Council of Ministers. “Oh, hello Lucian! The High Council of Lords told me to call you by that name now.” an older man chuckled. “I’m Wilbur Lightsheen, Minister of Economic Affairs.” the man said, still rather cheerfully. “So, how do you like your accommodations in the Admiral House?” “It’s great. Hardly any rats.” Lucian said, rather arrogantly. Lightsheen glared a little bit at Lucian’s snarky attitude. However, there was little Lightsheen could do, as the Chief Military Advisor was in command of the military of allEUROPE EMPIRE member states in times of war. “Well, let’s get to business.” Lightsheen said, trying to hide his resentment. The Minister of Foreign Affairs has the floor.” Minister of Foreign Affairs Haraldur Robinson took the floor podium and started presenting his newest progress in pushing a peace deal with Russia, which was as likely as the chair that Lucian was sitting in growing wings and flying him away on a magic chair ride. However, Robinson asked Lucian to speak: “Lucian Moonraiser, you were once a member of the Russian Government House, were you not?” “Yes, I was.” Lucian said, trying to ignore the condescending tone that Robinson was using. “Do you have any material or evidence that would help forge an agreement between our nation and Russia?” This was just the opportunity that Lucian needed to present the Icon Map…and snub both Robinson and Lightsheen in the face. “Yes, I do.” Lucian said as he unrolled the old, tattered map. Both Lightsheen and Robinson’s eyes widened. “Where did you get this?” Lightsheen asked. “I took it from a Russian arsenal ship. It was delivered for one Admiral Naron, with the intention of locating all 5 icons; that’s the real reason behind their war in the first place. For the past 20 years…they’re trying to become gods.” Robinson and Lightsheen’s faces turned white. “Holy Mary Mother of God…” Robinson whispered. “You do understand that if they find all 5 of these treasures, they will be able to upset the balance of power with theuniverse and control the very fabric of this world, right?” “Yes, we do, and we have every intention to find these things before the Russians do.” Robinson announced. “True. This is an international emergency, and I bet Russia’s thinking the exact same thing.” “Then we’d better beat them to it.” “Agreed. Meeting adjourned under grounds of emergency. This is completely classified.”
ZA Kulakov!!!” The crowd massed in Burgundy, the capital city of Russia, screamed. The crowd was staggering. More than 2 million Russians had come out to worship their leader in Red Square, directly in front of the Gothic/Baroque-architecturally designed Grand Palace of the Kulakovs, with the huge, marble steps, lined with massive, flaming torches held by creepy-looking gargoyle statues sweeping up to the balcony where all of the Kulakov High Ministers stood, wearing their red uniforms. The city of Burgundy itself was now built like a Roman-Russian mixed city, with huge columns; elaborate frescoes on the sides of every building that told the story of those who had lived there in the past, statues everywhere and all the aura of Russian glory and power with traditional Russian architecture as well. The Power and Glory of Russia couldn’t be denied. The Armory behind the Kremlin contained huge brigades of T-90 and T-95 MBTs and the rest of the revitalized Russian Army’s “Big 7,” the FF-22 Armored Anti-Aircraft vehicle, the B-55 amphibious assault tank, the Ka-57 helicopter gunship, the N-11 APC, the G-80 artillery tank and the FF-11 Surface to Air Missile truck. Though these were far from the only ground vehicles used by the Russian Army, more than 300 varieties were currently in use, these 7 formed the core of the Army’s capabilities, with its 11 million-man Army and rapidly growing population from the conquered land.Russia had long been the chief enemy of North America, even before the war. Both nations had the largest Armed Forces in the world, the most powerful economies, and the most innovative designs for vehicles. The NORTH AMERICA Army’s “Big 7” consisted of the M9A8 heavy main battle tank, the M102 Armored Anti-Aircraft Vehicle, the MA-200 amphibious assault tank, the CH-88 “Raven” gunship, the V-18 APC, the C-88 artillery tank and the U-90 SAM truck. Like Russia, there were far more ground vehicles than the “Big 7,” about 250. The same went for the two superpowers’ Air Forces and Navies, although the NORTH AMERICA Navy was vastly superior in technology, if not power. This war was viewed as a culmination of the tensions between Russia and the West, the inevitable end result of a huge arms race for the past 90 years, counting the Cold War.Just then, the crowd roared in approval as CzarFyodorKulakov, the Glorious, and Supreme Lord of Russia, walked out onto the podium and up to a microphone stand on the balcony. “My children! Today we mourn the loss of one of our Crown Princes. My son, Ferdinand, was claimed by a storm returning from the Engagement of ArionIsland; he died a valiant death in the name of the Great Crusade. It is with great pride that his brother, my eldest son, Imran, now leads our military in its quest to bring Russian pride to all peoples!” “KYEERRRRRRRR!!!” A huge, bird-like scream shattered Fyodor’s speech in mid-sentence. The entire crowd watched as a monstrous, shining bird, with talons silver and eyes of yellow swooped in at nearly 90 miles per hour, directly at Fyodor‘shead. “It’s a Rainbow Phoenix! Kill it!!” Fyodor screamed. His soldiers aimed their rifles at the huge bird and fired on full auto, the clattering of machine guns ripping through the evening air, but they couldn’t hit the bird, it was just too fast. Just then, Fyodor noticed a small litter on top of the huge bird’s shimmering back. That’s when he knew that this was no random attack. This was an assassination attempt. “AIM FOR THE BLOODY LITTER, FOOLS!!”Fyodor screamed as the huge bird and the mysterious assassin came for another pass, the bird’s wings outstretched in a full on assault. Just then, a bolt from the blue, a crimson streak jumped off the balcony and lunged directly at the oncoming bird. It jumped on the bird’s back, but immediately knocked off by a quick jolt of the bird’s head, causing the Russian assassin to fall to the ground, only to get back up instantly as the assassin riding the Phoenix jumped off, did a double front-flip and lunged his sword at Fyodor, slicing his leg deeply. Blood poured everywhere as Fyodor collapsed and his aides quickly rushed him inside. No sooner had the Phoenix-Rider slashed Fyodor’s leg open that the Russian assassin came at the Phoenix-Rider with a vengeance. The clashing of sword blades echoed through the evening air as bedlam prevailed in Red Square, with hundreds of people running away in panic; some of the crowd decided to watch this fight like an audience at the gladiator games, Just then, the Rainbow Phoenix swooped in, and the mysterious assassin jumped on its back as it flew away, with guard soldiers opening fire on it, to no effect. Soon, the bird and its rider were too far away to hit, even with a sniper rifle. In those tense 10 minutes, the ruler of Russia was severely, perhaps even mortally wounded and the entire ceremony on the Palace trashed. The Russian assassin, Samantha Lucembursky, possessing the same abilities as the assassin, stood there on the balcony, kneeling with her sword, thinking to herself. “I know you’re not dead. A storm would be too weak to kill you. You’re my prince; I’ll find you and marry you, just as it was always meant to be, ever since the Masquerade Ball, all those years ago.” she said in a very peaceful tone, belying her true ferocity as a swordmaster. Just then, a Russian officerapproached her. “Miss Lucembursky! Are you alright?” “Yes, just a little lovesick, I suppose. I know he’s not dead. A storm wouldn’t kill him, he’s too resourceful. I don’t know why he’d run away, I would have definitely given him all he needed in the way of companionship.” “Miss Lucembursky, I think you’re simply holding onto lost love. He’s dead. Accept it.” Samantha Lucembursky walked away without saying a word. She knew in her heart that she was right. She definitely knew him better than some officer. “I’m going to change into my night dress now; I’ll be out in about 5 minutes.” Samantha announced. “Right-o.” the officer said, watching as the beautiful young Kab-ba trained swordmasterwalked away, wearing her cute red dress and beret. Most of the young enlistees in the Russian military’s hearts were set on a bed of roses whenever she walked past; however, her heart belonged to Ferdinand Kulakov, the supposedly dead Crown Prince, or Tsarevitch. No other man could satisfy her needs and carnal desires. She had a burning passion for this one man; she always had, ever since they danced altogether at 15 years of age. She walked into her room, a very snug, warm, inviting atmosphere, minus the swords, rifles and other weapons hanging on the wall, her bed was made with the finest wool and silk sheets and blankets, and she was treated as if she was already a princess. She quickly changed into her gorgeous, long blue night dress and walked back out towards the balcony, where things had returned to somewhat normal activities, minus the Premier’s leg wound, which was expected to heal. Until his father could recover enough to rule again, his son, Imran, would take up the reigns of his father’s empire.The sun had almost set completely now, and a warm summer breeze was blowing across the land, as always at this time of year, from the central steppes. The breeze blew Samantha’s long hair around in front of her face as she longed and waited for Ferdinand to return to her. As the sun set below the horizon, she mumbled something to herself: “Come back here to me, you lazy bum.” She was making reference to the fact that Ferdinand, despite his tactical brilliance in the war room and in politics, he was quite sluggish to do anything unless it was war or politics-related. It would always annoy her, being born in the Czech Republic but living in Russia and North America on and off. “However, wherever you are, keep in mind that my heart is never far.” Samantha mused. She walked back into the Kremlin Palace, as the stars winked in the sky. She went to sleep, still wondering whether her life was meaningful or not, at least without Ferdinand. As she fell asleep, she felt Ferdinand’s warmth embracing her, if only in a dream. She fell asleep very quickly, sleeping the sleep of the broken, tired and wounded, and keeping the precious memories of him to herself.
The next morning, Samantha awoke to a discussion about the Icon Map by three generals, standing outside her bedroom door. “The Icon Map disappeared along with the ship, but it’s highly unlikely that the sailors would simply abandon ship without securing it.” “So, you’re saying?” “Ferdinand isn’t dead. He’s turned traitor and defected, as close as I can reason, that’d be the only reason for the current set of circumstances.” Samantha practically fainted…with happiness. He was alive, just hiding somewhere. She stood up, still in her navy-blue night dress and walked out of her room, sword in hand. Much to the generals’ surprise, the door opened, and a very determined Samantha Lucembursky, armed with her longsword, stepped out and stood in front of the three generals, her rather unusually tall figure standing almost eye-to-eye with the 6’ 4” general. Usually, this type of approach indicated that someone was about to drown in a pool of their own blood,“Good morning, Miss Lucembursky.” the general said politely. “Don’t bother me with pleasantries. Tell me what you’ve figured out about Ferdinand.” “Well, the Seer sent Emperor Imran a message describing that a man very closely resembling Ferdinand was running around in a European Union Marshal’s uniform, the Chief Military Advisor in the EUROPE EMPIREterminology. We believe he ran away and is now serving as the effective in command of the European Union military council under an alias. He’s a defector and a traitor, and we’re sending 55thAirborne Troop garrisons along with the carrier Irkaya to Japan from the Kamchatka Peninsula, where we’ll continue our search for the Icon and hopefully dispose of this bastard son, as he is no longer considered a Russian citizen and an enemy as well. Hopefully we’ll catch him sooner or later. “You’re going to kill him, aren’t you?! You can’t-““Say one more word, and I’ll formally charge you with sedition and you’ll hang publicly, you lazy bitch! For that remark, I’ll let you live, but you must be the one to kill him if you find him! The invasion force leaves in an hour!” Samantha began to cry. She had no choice but to follow these orders. She walked back into her room and changed into her red and gold Russiandress with her sword at her side. She walked out onto the balcony, and saw a huge procession of soldiers marching with huge T-90 and T-95 MBTs, among other members of the “Big 7” lined up in orderly marching columns through Red Square, all marching towards Tushino Air Force Base, where they would load onto a fleet of huge cargo jets, the AN-150s, the massive, 4-engine jets were capable of landing on pretty much any surface, they could even be configured to land on water in certain variants. There were more than 15 different variants of the AN-150, from firefighting variants, nuclear-missile launchers, and even gunships. The most common form, however, was the AN-150A, the basic military transport, a versatile, robust aircraft capable of taking a few good hits before going down. The rising sun illuminated the marching soldiers so that they appeared gilded in the morning rays. Samantha could now see Ferdinand’s reasons for defecting, as the military of Russia had become a vast, mechanized juggernaut, far from the beautiful Old Russia, a land of art, culture, and architecture. Before the rise of the Kulakov regime to power, Russia was a superpower, it always had been, from the Russian Empire, to the USSR to the Russian Federation to Kulakov Russia, but it was just as noble as and far less aggressive as the European Union, with great, northern taiga forests, windswept fields of grain, but far more emphasis on military power projection, as even in pre-Kulakov times, Russia had the largest tank army in the world. Other than that, Russia was once a vast reservoir of knowledge, the Great Presidium Library held more books than any other library in the world. Now, all of that rich culture had been swept away in favor of a defense and military budget that comprised a full quarter of the vast nation’s GDP; the Great Presidium in Burgundy, the Library, was heavily censored, most forms of art and music were blacklisted, and military service became mandatory. The Kulakov regime had made sure of that. It was like being in the days of Stalin. What was even more tragic was the way that the Kulakovregimes were leading their civilization down a suicidal path, with a military of more than 11 million men and more combat vehicles than any other nation, ever, the RussianEmpire would inevitably go bankrupt. What was needed was a change of leadership-and fast. Someone to bring back the old Russian Empire, to days of glory, pride, and prestige, not a blank, cultural desert. However, as Samantha watched the tanks loading onto the massive cargo jets, she could only dream of such a return to harmony and peace for Russia. Those dreams would have to be pushed aside in favor of reality for now, as she had a plane to catch. The Engagement of Japanwas about to begin.
“This is Callsign Black Raven to all units! We’re 15 minutes out from target!” the pilot of the Mi-26 heavy assault helicopter “Black Raven” yelled over the thumping of the helicopter’s rotors. The soldiers, in their red armor, loaded their assault rifles and strapped on their helmets. Samantha Lucembursky was riding in that particular chopper, secretly hoping to be shot down. That was becoming increasingly likely, as Japan had formalized its re-armament and fiscal reforms more than 20 years ago, into the most powerful nation in Asia by military and economic power, instantly creating an economy that was 60% ofNorth America’s and 40% of the European Union’s. Ten years of solid fiscal growth would easily push this new nation into “supreme power” status. Japan’s military, united as one from all of the former Prefecture Defense Fleets, was now 9 million men strong, almost as big as Russia’s, and their Navy was now challenging the North American one in size and power. The Japanese Air Force was also the second largest in the world, and most powerful The biggest factor was the amount of submarines used by Japan’s Navy. Combat subs were invented 100 years ago by Germany in WWI, they had evolved over that century-long period and now Japan had the second biggest submarine fleet in the world, with more than 250boats of various types, from swift, hunter-killer subs to massive “boomers,” or atomic-bomb launching subs. However, the undisputed leader in submarine design and power was the NORTH AMERICAA., a Japanese ally. The North Americans already had massive Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines patrolling 300 km by 200km zones, each one positioning one of the 25,000-tonOhio-class submarines within range of an enemy target, which could feel the 3-megaton wrath of the NORTH AMERICA’ “Big Stick” if a nuclear attack was ever ordered. One of the biggest targets was Hong Kong, where, a huge shipyard was built in China; the town was in one of the Hong Kong Seaside Districts, adjacent to Osborn City, a huge resort town. Up against this amount of power,to Samantha, this seemed like suicide. The Japanese troops would cut the Russian troops to pieces. Still, the stubborn doggedness of the Kulakovdictators was at the forefront. Hopefully, this inevitably doomed invasion would knock Imran andFyodor off their high horses. This invasion was a train wreck, and she was the only one who knew it. However, in the greatRussian tradition, the soldier’s creed was “In the name of the Lord God I fight, in the name of honor I die. No retreat, only glory.” The Russian troops would never stand down from a fight, even in a battle that they couldn’t win. “5 minutes out! Let’s get tactical!” the pilot yelled in his thick Russian accent. The soldiers in the passenger compartment of the helicopter loaded their weapons, donned their helmets, and prepared for the kill. Samantha pulled her sword from its scabbard and had it at the ready-that is, if the pilot could avoid the Anti-Aircraft fire that would inevitably come roaring up to meet them. Sure enough, the proximity alarm blared in the cockpit of the helicopter. “Incoming missiles! Deploying flares!! Begin evasive maneuvers!” the pilot yelled as the hissing of the decoy flares reverberated through the helicopter cabin and the chopper made a tight turn to avoid an RPG rocket. Man-portable, fire and forget rocket launchers were the bane of every helicopter pilot’s existence, and quite often the end of it. The Russian soldiers, seeing a veritable tornado of rockets, Javelin missiles and ZPU gun fire blasting towards them realized that they had just stumbled into the biggest snipe-storm ever seen. “What the hell!? It’s like we’re taking on the entire Japanese Army!!” the helicopter pilot yelled as the chopper jolted this way and that, trying desperately to avoid the enemy missiles and rockets, furthermore, a destroyer from the Japanese Navy was positioned far below them; without bomber support, there was no way even 30 helicopters could sink a destroyer, with its heavy armor and huge weapons suite. It began firing flak at the helicopters and even the high-flying cargo planes. “THIS IS BLACK RAVEN TO CARRIER CVN-90 IRKAYA!WE NEED IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE!!” “Negative, Black Raven. We’re pinned down by land-based aircraft and can’t reach you! It’s too risky!” It was very important that the carrier stay out of range from land-based fighters, as lost aircraft could be replaced in a day; for every aircraft lost, ten more would take its place. However, a 150,000-ton carrier with 8 nuclear reactors, enough to power a small city took on average 10 years to build, as such, the Russian Navy only operated 6 of these supercarriers, yet they were indispensable. The Maxim-class carriers, such as the Irkaya, carried more than 100 aircraft and UAVs, and were armed with the latest propulsion and weapons technology, unlike the crude, cudgel-like warships, whose belching smoke-stacks exuded the very essence of oppression. The carrier stayed back about 100 km from the coastline itself, well out of range of enemy fire, but well within the range of its fighter complement; along with two Russian heavy cruisers,25 frigates, 3 battleships and 18 destroyers, 49 ships in all.The Irkaya was the epitome of enemy terror and a powerful weapon of psychological warfare. Despite the obvious numbers advantage enjoyed by the Japanese troops, the Russian forces had a distinct advantage: the Japanese Navy had no large aircraft carriers. Their first two supercarriers, built to surpass even Russia’s vast carriers in displacement, (200,000 tons) power and technology, had only just been laid down; called the Empress Geishaand the OtoJapan; they would take, at current pace, 11 years to construct, due to size, weaponry and powerplant assembly. However, their 600-ship Navy of surface warships, light, 35,000-ton carriers, and submarines was still capable of going toe-to-toe with the Russian Navy, because even though the Japanese Navy operated no supercarriers, it operated more than 50 conventionally-powered “light” carriers, each capable of holding 90 aircraft. The carriers were so robust and well-built that they could take hits that would shatter another ship to pieces, and in numbers, only 3 carriers could deploy more than 1000 fighters an hour, more than a single Russian supercarrier, given the fact these ships were easily constructed and replaced, thanks to their cheap but supremely effective design and Japan’s gargantuan military potential, greater even then China’s, North America too could easily out-produce Russia, whose economy was starting to take a turn for the worse, because of the ridiculous military budget set in place by Fyodor Kulakov and his cronies. Samantha already knew this, but it was, at this point, imperceptibly small; the decline would certainly pick up steam until the eventual collapse of Russia as an imperial power and the destruction of the Kulakovregime.Japan, however, looked as if it would begin to dominate the Asian economy very quickly…that is, if it survived its greatest crisis, fending off the Russian assault.P.M. Naomi Furuka, only 32 years old, had her work cut out for her. However, her generals were among the most tenacious, stubborn-minded individuals in the world, and they would never give up on anything, no matter how dire the situation became. Samantha hoped that Russia would realize that this invasion was doomed to fail, no matter how far Russia penetrated into the Japanese Home Islands. The Russian plan was to secure a beachhead on Midnight Sun Beach and Imperial Pinnacle, a huge wall of cliffs on the far side of the beach. The current operation was only to soften up and penetrate the Japanese defenses.With an entire squadron of Russian Navy ships and a huge 55th Airborne Troop contingent, it appeared as if Russia had a decent chance of success of at least establishing a beachhead; but holding it was a totally different story. The helicopter continued to jerk from side to side as the merciless storm of rockets and missiles streaked by, the flak from the destroyer was still firing at full ferocity. Inevitably, helicopters began to drop like flies. The neighboring chopper was hit by an RPG; the rocket ripped the helicopter’scabin out; the men fell out of the spiraling wreck of a helicopter, the ones that weren’t killed immediately fell 1,000 feet to their deaths. Another Mi-26 was shot down within seconds of the first one; the flak from the destroyer ripping the helicopter to pieces. The mission was already turning into a disaster, with the fleet unable to assist the invasion force because of the massive Lordly Mountain Air Base within 30 miles of the invasion site; the Russians didn’t stand a chance. Samantha was just waiting for the RPG or Javelin missile to slam into the side of the Mi-26 helicopter, and put Samantha mercifully out of her misery, she’d rather die than kill Ferdinand. “We’re landing!! Get ready…Touchdown! Hit it, boys!!!” The remaining helicopters touched down in Asama City, a town consisting of entirely traditional Japanese architecture, and jumped out…into a bloodbath. Even with the helicopters circling above, raining .30 cal death down upon the Japanese Army’s soldiers, in their black and white digital-camo urban warfare gear, the Russian soldiers were slaughtered outright. The tanks began to land in the city with a sickening thud as each 66-ton T-95 tank slammed into the ground. As the tanks crashed and rumbled through the city, firing their main cannons at sniper outposts or RPG positions, the tide appeared to be turning. The Russian tanks had the Japanese defenders pinned down in the northwest quadrant of the city, they were trapped like rats. Like black cats stalking a mouse, the Russian heavy armor brigades, along with the Ka-57 attack helicopters, moved with unmatched ferocity towards their objective. Somehow, the blitzkrieg invasion had worked, apparently, both sides had made errors in tactical planning, it just so happened that Russia made fewer mistakes. Just as the tanks moved into the northwest quadrant, however, a distinct rumbling sound was heard coming in from overhead. The rumble gradually became a roar as the ground began to shake under the Russian soldiers’ feet. “Look!!” one of the soldiers screamed, pointing into the sky. Everyone looked up in absolute disbelief. Apparently, West Wind Mountain Air Base had realized that Russia might attack right from the off, as they had reason to believe that Russia thought that the Sacred Icon was hidden in Japan; thanks to the Japanese National Police Agencywho alerted the Defense Ministry of the impending invasion, the Russians walked right into a trap. This error on Russia’s part likely resulted from a mistranslation of the Icon’s location on the map, just before it was delivered to General Naron after the Engagement of Arion Island. Naron’s fleet was en route to Colony F-22, a huge military base where the mission to retrieve the Icon was to be massed. Expecting a Russian invasion regardless, the West Wind Mountain Air Base was put on high alert. Huge J-700 turboprop cargo planes, cheaper to manufacture and just as mighty as the AN-150s used by Russia were flying overhead, hundreds of them were dropping thousandsof paratroopers into Asama City. There was no way the Russia troops could repel this sheer weight of numbers; calls from the Navy out off the coast were reporting that a huge fleet of Japanese Navy vessels had engaged the Russian battlegroup, including 5 35,000-ton carriers, too much even for the Irkaya.“This was a trap!! It’s completely FUBAR!!” “This is Black Raven to all units, Black Raven to all units; get the hell out of there!” Black Raven didn’t need to tell them that. With Japanese paratroopers landing all over the city and hot on their heels, the majority of the Russian soldiers were simply driven into the sea, as no aircraft could land to rescue them. The waves ran red with Russian soldiers’ blood. The Russian Naval contingent, battered and bruised, was forced to retreat in shame. Few battles in history had this much significance. Russia had never lost so many planes, ships and troops from one engagement since WWII.Japan’s decisive spying, mobilization and force deployment proved to the world that the Russian military was far from invincible, and that the Seer could be wrong.Still, the questions remained: Who first translated the map, and, most importantly, where was the Icon? Samantha was also MIA, but that didn’t mean squat to Russia, however.
Five Weddings and a Tragedy
“Mr. Eisner, our plants won’t grow, and my mommy’s hungry. Can you help us?” a young Chinese farmer’s child asked Nicholas Eisner, a wandering illusionist. The crops had failed that year because of blight, and thousands of farmers were without money of food. “I will do what I can.” Eisner, barely 25 years old, calmly said. Eisner walked into the center of the seething, blight-infested mass of brown, dead leaves and stinking, rotten vegetables and placed his hand over the field. His hand began to vibrate violently; he stood in the center of the field, his eyes closed until, miraculously, shoots started to poke up from the ground…all over the 15-acre field. The plants grew taller and taller until Eisner wasn’t visible to the family, watching in disbelief. After just five minutes, the plants had grown, flowered and bore fruit. Eisner walked out of the field and up to the family.“You can pick the fruit now. I assure you, it’s real.” The little child walked over to the fruit and picked a loquat fruit from its stalk. “It’s real fruit! He did it!!” “You can sell this fruit on the market now, with the demand for food, you’ll sell every fruit in this crop this year.”The family was speechless with thanks. They all came over and hugged him, save the father, who shook Eisner’s hand. “You’re very welcome. Now, I have business to attend to.” Eisner said as he walked away, back towards the Osborn House mansion.He was appointed by the owners of the place, the Morina family, as the Mansion Lord; and he was moving in to accept his new job;and he was also the constable of the Chinese Hong Kong district, the direct representative of President Zhu and the People’s Armored Police of Chinain that area; apparently, his ability with controlling disorder was needed here, as he had just investigated a murder, allegedly committed by Japanese men at a host club. As he walked up to the front door of the colossal mansion, he marveled at its wooden, typical Chinese construction, with the pagodas, ridged roofs and dragon-shaped gargoyles, and then knocked on the door. The door creaked open, and a young, blonde-haired woman named Cassandra greeted him. Staring at Eisner’s tall, imposing figure and somewhat eerie, blank stare, she was a little apprehensive, but then realized who this man was. “Oh, you must be Lord Eisner…welcome to Osborn House, your office is upstairs to the left, I can show-“ “No thanks…I’ll find it myself, and please don’t disturb me until nightfall.” Eisner hissed in a rather echoing, snake-like voice. Right away, Cassandra realized that there was something weird about this man…something evil. She had no logical reason to believe such things, but there was just this gut feeling that Eisner was bad news. “Everything will be fine, just relax.” Cassandra told herself. Maybe he was just a loner, a man who looked creepy but was just misunderstood. Still, Cassandra couldn’t shake the worry. It was enough to give her nightmares. She walked away at a rapid pace, towards one of her friend’s rooms. As she knocked on the door, she heard the loud music playing inside shut off, and the door opened to reveal a very pretty Russian girl with a bottle of vodka in her hand, her nails were painted red and her eyes were sky blue. “What is it?” Sasha groaned. “I was sleeping.” “With that music blasting?” Cassandra said, sarcastically.“Have you seen our new Mansion Lord?” “No, is he here?” “Yeah, he’s creepy as hell, and he says he doesn’t want to be disturbed until nightfall.” “What is he, some kind of werewolf or vampire? You’re overthinking things, he’s probably just tired, or likes the nightlife, if that’s the case, then he can hang out with me, for sure.” Sasha said very matter of factly. “Well…I guess.” Cassandra whispered, with the tone of concern wavering in her voice. “We’ll see by nightfall what he does.”
As the sun dipped below the horizon over the South China Sea, the moon rose and shone brilliantly into the huge bay windows and skylights in the main concourse of the mansion. However, this was to be no ordinary night in the Osborn House…not with Lord Eisner involved. Sasha, curious about Eisner’s activities, walked over the Mansion Lord’s office door. She opened the door, as it was unlocked. “Come in…” Eisner hummed, as Sasha walked in and closed the door behind her.
About an hour later, Cassandra heard a scratching, gnawing sound at her bedroom door, only growing in ferocity every time the noise was repeated. “Coming…” Cassandra said, rather annoyed that she had been awoken from her sleep by this obnoxious noise. When she opened the door, she froze with terror. It was Sasha, but…her eyes were gone, leaving just bleeding, black pits in her skull, with ruptured blood vessels pouring blood everywhere and with matted, mutilated hair, and her teeth were crooked or ripped out, as were all her fingernails.“They…Took…my…Eyes…AWAY!!” Sasha moaned, taking a swipe at Cassandra with a meat cleaver, Cassandra screamed so loud that it herniated her larynx. She tried to fight her friend’s eviscerated form, but the meat cleaver was too sharp and brutal. As the mutilated Sasha continued to swing the blade at Cassandra, she was only able to dodge it for so long. It eventually decapitated her, blood from the severed jugular veins sprayed everywhere, then, the mutilated corpse of Sasha collapsed to the ground; the moon shined through the open windows on up-staring eyes all night, just as a massive, screaming black crow with a bizarre witch-like hat flew out the top window…
“Where are the bodies?” police investigators asked the following morning as scores of police and Chinese military vehicles descended on the Osborn House, led by Chief Inspector Nicholas Eisner; as an inspector, no one would ever suspect him as the murderer. Some cops were literally puking at the sight of Sasha and Cassandra’s corpses, unable to comprehend what could have done such hideous things to a human body, Sasha’s in particular. However, Eisner was able to explain what happened, according to him. “Sasha’s eyes were gouged out by a spoon and a fork, her face slashed by a steak knife, her hair burned off by a considerable heat source, and her fingernails and teeth pulled out by metal pliers…whoever did this is clearly a psychotic, disturbed and violent individual; I can’t say for sure who the suspect might be, but they will not go unpunished.” The press immediately began snapping photos, in China that day; the war took a back seat to the hideous crimes at the Osborn House. However, a certain detective, named Sebastian, was not convinced. He had his suspicions about Eisner, namely how quickly he was able to guess the weapons used by the killer.
However, there was a problem. Eisner was a police officer in the PAP, giving him more leverage than a simple civil detective, plus, there were no witnesses to the crime. However, Eisner was not from China, and therefore was viewed in lesser esteem than a national, but he did have citizenship. However, the funeral for the two young women, with the main guests being Lawrence Thüringen, the champion bird-rider, riding a huge Rainbow Phoenix, another recently discovered species of huge bird, John Sanders, a young man that owned a 5-star restaurant after his parents were killed by the Russians, Samuel Piddingworth, a brewer’s son, Caledon “Calculator” Vandervoort, so dubbed because he was a mathematics aficionado, and Sven Vanderwall, a shipbuilder’s son. The funeral would take place in the cemetery behind the Osborn House, rumored to contain the remains of witches; during the Second World War, Japanese troops massacred Hibiscus Knights, female followers of an ancient Chinese martial art called Te. These corpses were buried in a mass grave somewhere near the Osborn House driveway, next to a pumpkin patch, planted by previous occupants of the Osborn House; and the cemetery was rumored to be cursed. Strange stories were told about this place, some mysterious, some frightening, but this was to be expected in a 600-year old mansion that had been occupied by pirates, Chinese aristocracy, Japanese troops, British troops, more pirates and now a dormitory for wealthy young people. The funeral was, like all funerals for young people, going to be a tragic one, but this one was particularly hard, as Cassandra was a stunning young woman, with long blonde hair, big, pretty blue eyes, a sizzling-hot body and a very gentle personality, she had various young men competing for her affection, including all 5 young men that would be present at the funeral, and Sasha was a gorgeous Russian girl of the same age. Whoever committed these crimes was a truly psychotic individual that seemed to have no motive except for simply hearing people scream. The bodies were being prepared for burial in the embalming chamber, and the sheets placed over the bloody, mutilated corpses for the closed-casket funeral, no one wanted to see these girls in their eviscerated state. However, Eisner had other plans.
Once again, as the sun set, all those spooky things that were thought to be non-existent began to stir…as Eisner walked through the old cemetery gate; he walked over to the center hill, on a tomb-free plot of dirt in the 450-year old cemetery.
A dark army shall be their doom, we will reap them like a field of wheat, from the Haze Realm, I repeat, and Comrades assemble at my feet!” With a horrid, bone chilling screech, something began to crawl out of the depths of the earth. Creeping like a strange, serpentine draconic ghost out of a mausoleum in the most ancient part of the cemetery. It scuttled across the plots of dirt, knocking other tombstones over as it did so, and reared up like a cobra in front of Eisner, opened its glowing, red eyes and stepped into the moonlight. It was a 20-foot long ghostly dragon, with huge, golden, insect-like mandibles, 8 caterpillar-like legs a huge, silvery-black armored body, as well as 8 arms, held against the upper, vertical body with tattered, broken wings.
Who woke me up…” the hobgoblin grumbled, somewhat annoyed. “I did, my lady, Nicholas Eisner of the Tempelritters. I’m in need of your assistance…Lily, the Fallen Angel of Nocturne. Just then, the dragon mutated into a freakish, nightmarish woman with red hair, yellow, staring eyes and a very elegant black, if not buxom night dress. Without her freakish eyes and huge black wings, she would probably be a contender for a beauty pageant. “Really, Eisner, you woke me up for this? I don’t normally wake up until 3:00 A.M.” Lily groaned. “What do you need…” “Well, I could use some help in crashing tomorrow’s funeral for the two pathetic souls I destroyed last night. “That’s new, I’ve heard of crashing a wedding, but a funeral?” Lily asked, sarcastically. “Well, in order to enact the plan, we need a base of operations, and the Osborn House is perfect. The only issue is its inhabitants…” “Well, the residents are definitely going to leave the house tonight; I know the police will be ordering them out. No more violence is necessary. Let them run. The Osborn House is ours.” Eisner said, just before pointing his wand at his head and killing himself. Lily smiled as Eisner mouthed the words: “I will return.” This was only the beginning.
“I need someone to tell me what the heck is going on! SITREP now!!” Lucian yelled, struggling to contain the flood of reports coming into Brussels, the capital of the EUROPE EMPIRE The Russian invasion of Japanwas a colossal failure, and now Japan and North America had the advantage over Russia, which had lost a lot of its momentum for war production in the foolish invasion of Japan, the same mistake made in 1905 had again repeated itself. That was the good news. The even better news was that Japan, bolstered by its success in repelling the invaders decisively and quickly, had formally allied itself with North America, if North America agreed to allow Japan to take half of the territory conquered in the inevitable war looming on the horizon; Japan had just laid the keels for 3 Fuso-class heavy guided missile ships, 4 Toba-class missile cruisers and 3 more ballistic missile submarines, Hanau-class. In addition, Japan’s supercarrier and conventional carrier projects were accelerated; Japan’s goal was to build a global fleet, much like North America’s, only more powerful in order to counter the Chinese navy. The new technology used on these 10 ships was the most advanced in the world; Japan was rapidly building a Navy on par with that of the NORTH AMERICA Navy; however, this navy was to be even more powerful, as it had completely mastered energy shielding for its ships; as well as experimental plasma technology and rail guns, as well as the full suite of electronics, radars and sonar systems; though the but the older ships used by the Japanese Navy would take a while to phase out by the new ones. Nevertheless, however, the older ships were all being updated with the latestcruise missiles, armor and electronics tech, so even the older models of missile cruisers, such as the enormous Unzen-class, the equivalent of the USA’s Long Beach ships,built in the hiatus period, before re-armament was fully formalized, packed a serious punch.Japanwas well on its way to becoming the dominant naval power in numbers; however, the European Union’s fleetshad still mastered something no other Navy could- the elements.The EUROPE EMPIREs ships often used ice-based weaponry, but there were also huge “wind battlecruisers” huge warships that generated enormous blasts of wind; at nearly 600 m.p.h, these ships could capsize even a supercarrier. Also, there were “fire cruisers” nearly the size of aNimitz-class supercarrier, these ships could ignite suspended oxygen in the atmosphere with a miniature atomic explosion, creating a hellish firestorm that would be directed at a target via massive fans on the front deck of the ship, and the incinerating blast was even deadlier when combined with a wind battlecruiser. All ships in the European Union Joint Fleet Force used missiles as back-up weapons, however. The good news was that Japan considered North America to be the “most powerful protectornation in the world;” it had every right to declare itself “global policeman,”thus the Leftist Coalition, consisting of the European Union, the NORTH AMERICAA. and Japan stood as the peace shield of the world.Russiaand China were the biggest threats, though the Caliphate was still fiercely neutral, they were currently forming alliances as well. Russia, despite the general consensus that the search for the Icon that started the war in the first place was bad; the other, more conservative nations allied themselves with the juggernaut Russian military machine. The world was now fighting on two fronts, for the Icon, and for dominance of the globe. The only thing that kept the actual fighting spread globally was the Seer. Japan was now the real rising military power; economists predicted that Japan’s military would surpass China’s yet again in only 5 years, down from their original prediction of 10 years. With that military, Japan could practically with the war by itself. Its capitalist military complex was staggeringly massive, more than 25% larger than even China’s already. All aspects of the re-armed Japan economy were growing at double-digit percentages; with the return of the first Japanese militaryjuggernaut since the collapse of the crumbling Japanese Empire nearly 80 years prior, the conservative right would soon face the wrath of the JapaneseSakura. No other nation had ever grown so quickly, there was mounting evidence that this new Japanese Empire was going to be even stronger than the original Japanese Empire, which never did much trading as it was, economically within 10 years as is, it would surpass China again in 5. Some conservative political theorists were already claiming that the Leftist Coalition was the biggest threat to tradition, religion and small government the modern world had ever seen, and had even contacted Japan’s P.M Naomi directly, one pundit having the arrogant gall to call the P.M a “Socialist Whore” to her face, especially a particular conservative pundit from the NORTH AMERICA, Lucas Rosh, who wrote a huge book ripping the liberal government of North America, Japan and especially the extraordinarily liberal EUROPE EMPIRE apart, calling the Leftist Bloc “a bunch of bloodthirsty, terrorizing thieves who butcher values, religion and terrorize those who worked hard to earn their money.” On a visit to his beach house just recently, a few weeks before the re-armament of Japan, Lucas suddenly died in a very mysterious, sudden manner. The European and NORTH AMERICA governments officially stated that Lucas had gone down with his yacht in a storm. However, every single listener on Lucas’ talk show knew that theLeftists had given an assassination order for him and lied about it. After that, Japan rearmed, formed an alliance with the Europeans and North America and created the Leftist Coalition. In response to this, the conservatives and anti-Western countries of the world ALL screamed for war against the Leftists; the assassination of their “heroic” pundit was the final insult. “Sir, we just received a message directly from Japan’s government house.” “Let me see that…” Lucian said, puzzled. He practically dropped the paper when he read the message. “Japan’s planning a full-scale Coalition force, and they’re requesting us to send naval units to assist in the Coalition; they’re calling it “The Leftist Coalition,” and their main goal is to crush the conservative and anti-Western nations and seize the Icons. It’s a move to end this Russian slaughter, but not until the Seer’s disabled can we proceed.” “They’ve got more than 80 ships at their disposal for the operation, and they’re requesting we send 50, including large carriers, as they have none. “Wow…Japan’s already produced that many ships?” “Yes. Even before the formal removal of Article 9 of the Japanese constitution, the independent ship builders were building huge navies as a response to the Russian and Chinese threat. They’ve got an estimated 800 ships, and that number is still growing. If only we had a Navy that huge…” “What about the Icon?” “Well, if the Coalition can’t attack, that should be our main focus. Once we assemble all 5 of these Icons, we will be victorious, and nothing will stand in our way!!” Lucian cackled, rather insanely. “Ok…sir.” the attendant worried. Even though he was now a European citizen through and through, and second in command of the entire Union’s military, he still had that Russian mindset, the mindset that demanded a show of force to prove that his military was superior to the weak and small. That psychotic bit of laughter was proof of that suspicion if there ever was. Lucian walked away into the blue Central Intelligence Meeting Room, where he received a call from Minister Lightsheen, stating thatthe ancient Icon Map was indeed mistranslated, and that it was in China,not Japan. “Then China is where we must go. We must convene the European Councils to discuss this matter immediately. The President will definitely want to hear about this.” Lucian said, very determined to find this Icon before Russia did; however, Russia was in no place to make an assault after its defeat at Japan, so that bought him some precious time. Work was being done around the clock, with precious little sleep in between shifts; it was absolutely exhausting. Lucian prepared for another long night with a cup of tea. Such was the burden of power.
The Council Rotunda, a massive room with exactly 453 seats, one for each government Councilor, was full to capacity. The Councils of War, Economy, Foreign Affairs, Social Affairs, The High Court and Law Enforcement were all wearing their Councilor’s uniform, each sitting at a seat with their name written on a plaque in front of it. The uniform was a black robe with a furry, animal skin fur hat, also black. The room was a huge, cavernous cathedral of politics, there were frescoes on the wall, depicting momentous occasions in European history, including the signing of the Magna Carta, the British victory in WWII, and the founding charter of the EUROPE EMPIRE The carpet on the floor in front of the podium was colored with the EUROPE EMPIRE“Circle of Stars” roundel, as well as the symbol of progress and prosperity. As the President took his position at the podium, he called in his deep, British voice: “This Convention of the Councils has officially come to order. We convene tonight for a very critical emergency. Evidence has recently come to light that an item of deep, religious significance to the ancient Shinto Gaia-Kami beliefs has been located. What’s worse is that the ridiculously barbaric and RussianFederaton is hunting for it as well. They wish to control this item; as of now, the function of these items or “Icons” is not understood. Chief Military Advisor Lucian Moonraiser is credited with finding the original Icon Map, the directory towards the Icon’s location. Ladies and gentlemen of the Councils, Lucian Moonraiser.” the President announced, triumphantly. As Lucian took the floor, the entire government clapped. Lucian was now one of the most respected European politicians and advisors, he always got the job done and had fulfilled every promise he had made so far. His military reforms, such as phasing out some of the older vessels, vehicles and weapons in favor of brand new, super-advanced, “future-mobiles” and raising the military budget to counter further Russian expansion and keep up with his European allies were a stunning success, however, many of his critics, including Ministers Lightsheen and Robinson, called his reforms “frivolous spending” and that the EUROPE EMPIRE’s economy would suffer. So far, however, the European economy was predicted to grow by 5% that fiscal year. Other, less intelligent folks claimed that Lucian was a defector from the “evil” Russian and that he was trying to take over the government as a Russian spy.
“”The recently-discovered Icon Map by the European Ministry of Defense is clearly a direct link to the religious artifact; we believe that the Russian disaster at Japan was the result of a mistranslation of the map; Japan was not the location of the artifact…according to the corrected translation, the artifact is in China.” Whispers like small fireflies blinking in the night sky broke out all over the room as the Councils discussed the best course of action. “This calls for a diplomatic solution, not brute force” the Chief Foreign Ambassador of the Council of Foreign Affairs announced boldly. “And what if diplomacy fails? China is not an ally of Europe or any of our allies inLeftist Confederation.” a representative of the Council of War yelled, implying that military force was needed in conjunction with diplomatic negotiations. “As such,” Lucian continued, “we will send our chief diplomat Hansel Thingøre, along with a small flotilla of destroyers as an escort for his jet, and a heavy AGEIS cruiser.” “Have we made any arrangements to arrive there?” the Chief of Foreign Affairs inquired. “Yes. The EUROPE EMPIRE Ministry of Defense, as of 8 hours ago, contacted the Department of Foreign Affairs in China, we are clear to dock in Chengdu Seabase, in Pier 28, right on the border with the Hong Kong metro area.” “Then it looks as if the plan is finalized. Hansel will meet with President Zhu and work out a negotiation to retrieve the Icon, hopefully before Russia regroups. With the Seer, it’s a good bet they know where we’re headed.” Lucian warned, trying to mobilize as quickly as possible. “Session adjourned.” The President of the EUROPE EMPIRE barked.
“Minister Naomi, the fleet is in position; the Japanese Navy is ready to strike. We are the Iron of the Spear, and the Pacific Leftist Force.” “Good. Are the First and Second Squadrons ready?” “Yes ma’am. Your sister is also giving the invocation, as you wished to be left undisturbed for now.” “Yes, General, and I need some time alone right now to chat with one of the advisors. Thank you for the report. You are dismissed.” “Yes Minister Naomi.” The General walked out of the P.M.’s quarters, only to look backwards and see Naomi looking at her computer, rather than a person, and back into the war room. As he walked into the war room, three lower-ranked officers saluted, they were all wearing the white and silver Japanese officer’s uniform. There was an “orderly chaos” in the war room, with computers beeping, buzzing and holographic projectors displaying maps and readouts of battlefield scenarios. Officers were everywhere. “General, we’ve contacted Lucian Moonraiser of the E.U’s Defense Ministry, he says that his Grand Fleet is prepared, with 50 ships available for immediate deployment, North America likewise, all we need now is that damn Seer destroyed!” “Patience, the NPA operatives sent into Burgundy will succeed. We’ve located the Seer’s position, he’s in Russia, and he lives in the Kremlin itself, his name’s Oleg Molotov, that is, if Hitomi doesn’t screw it up.” the General groaned. He was referring to the Prime Minister Naomi’s sister; Hitomi was always considered far prettier than Naomi was, despite the fact that Naomi did her best to look gorgeous; she had done a very good job of it, but Hitomi just had that “aura” about her that drove young men crazy. Between drinking, wild parties and dating, Hitomi just liked to enjoy life, sin and pleasure, while her sister governed the now massive Japanese Navy, rebuilt as a response to Russia’s initial attack and China’s military buildup, where an enormous parade of military might was about to take place in Shibuya Crossing, the center square of the Tokyo Diet Building Capital District. Since P.M. Naomi was having some private time to think and write, her sister would give the invocation to begin the procession in 3 minutes. However, the General and his staff were more concerned with the imminent cataclysm with Russia and China than watching a parade. More importantly still was the message that had just been sent by the EUROPE EMPIRE Government Councils: Diplomacy had failed in China, and both the European, Japanese AND NORTH AMERICA diplomats were ordered to leave at once, or be forced via military action. As a result, the EUROPE EMPIRE was making an allegiance with a man named Nicholas Eisner, who reportedly possessed paranormal abilities. He knew where the Icon was. Just then, a message came in on the hologram monitor: The Japanese SWAT operation has been successful. The Seer is dead. DEUS ES MACHINA.The General quickly sent this message directly to Prime Minister Naomi via satellite. “Now…it’s war.”
In the wide, vast, and foreboding PacificSouth Sea region, so named because of the featureless, marine desert that stretched for thousands upon thousands of miles, the crew of the NORTH AMERICAS.Ohio-classmissile submarine Pennsylvania was cruising around like a shark on the hunt, the colorful NORTH AMERICA Navy flag flying over the conning tower, where a lookout was standing with powerful navy binoculars, scanning the featureless seascape for any sign of an enemy vessel. The 180-man crew inside the 26,000-ton “mega-sub” was well aware that the ship they were travelling on could theoretically destroy the planet several times over with its 24 ballistic missiles, with a total payload of 160 warheads. It was perhaps the most destructive weapon ever designed. There were 16 boats of this class in operation with the NORTH AMERICA Navy, and all were actively patrolling different defense grids in the Pacific and the Atlantic, keeping watch on Russia and China like vigilant sentinels of North American power. The Pennsylvania, operating under the designation SSBN-15, manual alphabet “Alpha-Alpha Whiskey-Zulu,” was surfacing after 16 days of subsurface cruising, the massive shadow of the submarine surfacing must have been an awesome sight for any birds flying overhead, but birds were rarely seen this far out at sea. The crew was just about to begin supper; as the Pennsylvania was large enough to have a proper galley, when an order from NORTH AMERICA Navy High Command in Arlington, Virginia, came blaring over the radio: “TACTICAL SITUATION-CODE BANDERSNATCH, MISSILE LAUNCH AT GRID 9, THIS IS NOT A DRILL.” is all it said. The crew dropped everything, and, with the fruits of hundreds of drills and exercises, the crew swept to their stations, computer terminals at the walls of the submarine. “Hatch 1 is open, clear of flotsam, I’m unlocking the missile from its clamps.” one of the operators said as he typed the command into the console. “The missile is successfully disengaged, I’m arming the 6 warheads, and each one is targeting a different city in Grid 9.” Grid 9 referred to the main military industrial complex foundries in China’s Seaside District, Hong Kong and Shanghai, downwind from the Osborn House but, would still destroy the other great resorts, as well, such as Sky-Castle Resort, China Star Hotel, and most sadly, the Midnight Sun Palace, the biggest, grandest hotel of them all. The hundreds of elegantly dressed young men and women at the Palace, which was only open to guests between ages 20-30, wouldn’t know what hit them. At least it would be quick. “Missile tubes are clear.” “Missile locks are disengaged, targets are locked, and warheads are armed.” “We are go for launch. It’s your call, Captain.” “…For North America. Fire.” The crewman pulled the big red lever and pushed the “holocaust button,” a huge switch that would launch the missile from its tube. The sub shook as the 50-ton missile rocketed out of its tube, high into the air. The gun pointed at the head of the world had just been fired.
The citizens of Hong Kong’s cities and resort towns were performing their everyday activities and duties completely unaware of what was about to hit them. However, the Chinese satellite grid knew straight away that their demise was imminent. The defense grid was still in its test stages, and Chinawas reluctant to use nuclear weapons of its own. All they could do was warn the people that a nuclear catastrophe was imminent. On the beaches of China’s Hong Kong Seaside District, patrons frolicked in the 100-degree heat on the beaches, especially the private, couples-only beaches of Midnight Sun Palace, they were terrified to hear the nuclear-attack sirens wailing all over Hong Kong, and the interceptor fighters used by the ChinesePLAAF streaking through the sky. The nation of China was on DEFCON 3, Code Red.
“Sir! The time to impact is 12 minutes, I’ve got 6 objects on depressed trajectory, but at the way they’re coming in, they might just be anti-satellite missiles.” the radar man said from his console in Fujing. “And they might be pixies. Until we know exactly what we’re looking at, we’re staying at DEFCON 3.” The commander in charge of the anti-missile operation was simply trying to keep up morale with this statement; he, as well as everybody in that control room knew that millions were about to be incinerated. “May our ancestors be with us all.” “9 minutes to impact…” “Casualty estimates are in; we’re talking about deaths in the ballpark of 45 million. This is indeed a worst-case scenario.” “And there’s nothing we can do?!” “Unfortunately no, Depressed trajectory missiles are extraordinarily difficult to intercept, even if the new grid is up.” The commander pushed the radar man aside and grabbed the intercom. “This is King Tiger to all units, evacuate in order! Evacuate in order, everyone get the hell out of there! “5 minutes to impact!” the radar man yelled. A sense of general panic began to permeate the war room; the orderly procession of duty was being replaced by panicking officers running back and forth, hastily typed data reports and generally crowded chaos. “THIS IS OVERLORD SQAUDRON!! THERE’S NO TIME! WE’RE GOING TO HAVE TO “bzzzt” LEAVE “bzzt” BEHIND!!” Static. The warheads had reentered the planet’s atmosphere. “30 seconds!!!” “Holy Mary Mother of Grace the Lord is with me…” one of the Christian Chinese officers began to pray fervently, despite the anti-religious laws. “15 seconds!!” “Brace yourselves men! When those bombs hit, we fight!” “IMPACT!!”
The detonation occurred just as planned, but the report that came in was totally and utterly unexpected…and miraculous. “Targets remain, the targets remain!” “The missiles didn’t get through?!” “No sir, the detonated, but they didn’t destroy anything!” The praying officer performed a Taoist prayer and shouted triumphantly: Glory!! Somehow, be it by divine intervention or whatever, the nukes didn’t kill anyone, and created nothing more than a huge fireworks display.
The global reaction was, unexpectedly, instantaneous. The “Miracle inChina” was hailed as “a physical proof of God’s existence,” by the religious nationsand that all other religions than Christianity and Islam, in other words, polytheistic religions, were wrong and heretical.” Of course, the Western Allies, such as Canada and Mexican leaders didn’t agree with this, and neither did the Leftist Coalition; however, millions of the democratic Leftist Coalition’s constituents cried foul of the religious ignorance in the governments, this enflamed the more conservative, religious nations even more; now the nations of the EUROPE EMPIRE, Japan and the NORTH AMERICAA. were considered “nations of heretics, witches and heathens” by the Muslims, “fat arrogant capitalist pigs” by the Chinese, and “imperialist atheists” by Russia along with the usual “arrogance and liberal socialist thievery” by the democratic populations of the Leftists and Western Allies. This served to unite the Muslim Empire of Aleyadin against the Leftist Coalition. One thing was certain. Even though the nuclear bombs didn’t destroy a thing, the war had officially begun. Refusing to believe in God after this assault, the three Leftist nations, aside from mobilizing their fleet and making a deal with the Tempelritter magicians, sent several spies to search for the cause of these missile deflectors.
Midnight Sunscreen
“Wish you were here!” the postcard read as Sebastian Fuller looked at a picture of top idol Lisa Wilshire inside the card. She was wearing a gorgeous dress, it was a picture of her standing in her beautiful apartment in Japan’s Imperial Heights, wearing a beautiful black dress. She was a true celebrity, she had acted in many popular movies and modeled in many agencies, she also sang beautifully. Her hair was blonde, silky and very inviting; she had every physical characteristic that any man could desire, and Sebastian was no exception. He laughed; this only served to make his mood even better. He had just thwarted a nuclear attack by creating an impenetrable barrier using his magic; he was currently managing the Midnight Sun Palace, on sabbatical from his studies at Madrid University in the EUROPE EMPIRE, as no one had to know that he was a magician. In that case, the conservatives wereright about witches and wizards living in the E.U, as that’s where most of them, both Tempelritter and Ascendancy wizards lived. Things were getting rather dicey for magicians these days, with the conservative, Anti-Western nations gripped by “witch hysteria,” arresting and executing people for “sorcery” simply for such mundane acts such as swearing in public or having a disobedient dog or cat, and the Leftist Coalition trying to get magicians from the Tempelritter side to help them find the Icon, not to mention the outbreak of war, the world was falling apart at the seams.One thing was certain: If the conservatives found out that there really were such things as wizards and witches, all hell would break loose, creating an irreparable political situation that would almost certainly cause the collapse of the right-wing, anti-Western bloc countries, such as Russia, China and the Aleyadin Caliphate, out of mass panic and hysteria. However, it was very important that the Leftists, North America, Europe, and Japan, not realize this fact; otherwise they’d go for the jugular in a heartbeat, revealing the magicians to the world. Sebastian was always good about keeping his mouth shut when he absolutely needed to, even though he tended to yammer on and on otherwise. Needless to say, living in one of the “witch hunting” nations, not for religious reasons as much as government security reasons for 13 weeks, his very life depended on him keeping his magic powers on the low. However, he only protected his area of beach from the NORTH AMERICA nukes because he was currently investigating a mysterious string of murders at various bathhouses, masions and inns, it was always a young, pretty, female employee, usually a cocktail waitress or steam bath maid, and the aspects of the crime were always hideously brutal and gory. In one instance, the girl’s sexual organs were eviscerated. In another, the word “WAR” was carved into her flesh. The police were so horrified with the crimes that even the most seasoned coroners were vomiting upon looking at the bodies. However, the first murder was against a man, and Sebastian believed that the Doki Host Club, a Japanese-run business in China by several college students and the site of several gory murders in the past 7 weeks was wrongly accused of the murder, even though the host club owners, from Japan, had already been convicted of the crime in China and were now serving 30 years apiece. Sheriff Eisner was wrong, but with his record as a Tempelritter, an evil sorcerer who had used magic to eviscerate and animate Sasha’s corpse and kill Cassandra, that was irrelevant now.He was, as a legal expert and secretly an Ascendancy Executioner, was granted permission to assist Chineseauthorities in investigation of this “Mathematician” so named because of his bizarre tendency to kill only on clear, romantic, starry nights and leave strange, math-related clues on the bodies of his victims. The case had been under investigation for 3 weeks, and so far there had been absolutely no evidence as to whom the killer might be; not even a thread of evidence, even under DNA scans, there was not a single nucleotide that suggested a murder.It was as if these young women simply mutilated themselves in this gruesome manner. There was no pattern to the killings and it appeared that the killer had been picking off random individuals with no motive. Perhaps there was more than one killer, or maybe it really was a lone evil, criminal mastermind.In which case, it was absolutely imperative to Sebastian that the Mathematiciannot attack his resort. It was a deeply personal reason; many beautiful, affluent and downright hot girls visited the Midnight Sun Palace, the Palace was modeled after an ancient Roman theme, and Sebastian managed it during the summer. Since some of the girls here were so wealthy and privileged, he refused to let this barbarian set foot on his bathhouse’s property…at any cost, especially when his girl Lisa showed up in a month. Sebastian was a ladies man; he loved female company and often had the young women in his office on dates, nothing trashy or perverted, but some of his colleagues questioned his morals as a professor. They all respected his intelligence and adored his “dreamy blue eyes,” as one girl put it. Personal matters aside, Sebastian believed that the official Chinese story that the crimes were all committed by separate individuals and that European spies were trying to subvert the Communist government, and that the Caliphate was about to declare war on those trying to figure out the “true” cause of the nuclear deflection; those “nonbelievers” were killing the Caliphate’s citizens to prove themselves right. The war, started over long-argued political rivalries between liberals and conservatives, atheists and theists, and the Icon, had now really begun in earnest, with multiple naval engagements in the Pacific Oceannear the Kamchatka region; multiple Japanese submarines, their crews doubtlessly wearing their Japanese sailor’s uniforms, bloodthirsty for revenge, were torpedoing Russian supply ships at a rate of 16 per day, and the NORTH AMERICA Ohio-class that fired the nuclear weapons at the Chinese in the first place was still prowling the waters somewhere out in the Pacific Ocean; even though the bombs didn’t destroy anything, the radioactive fallout would soon become a problem for areas downwind of Hong Kong. The first major battles of the war were being fought at sea, but it was only a matter of time before the war moved onto land. The first thing that Sebastian needed to do was grant the Doki Host Club owners a second trial, claiming that they were convicted on insufficient evidence and that there was a long list of inconsistencies involving their trial leading up to the conviction. Sebastian decided that this would be the best course of action to get the investigation into the Mathematician murders back on track, after all, there was a truly deranged killer on the loose and not nearly enough was being done to put him behind bars. The attorney that convicted the Host Club owners of the first murder was about to hear Sebastian’s reasons. Sebastian got up from his chair in his office, walked to the elevator and took it down to his waiting limousine. It was a clear, moonless starry night, the kind of night that attracted the Mathematician to his innocent prey. “Turn on the radio; I want to hear the police band signal.” Sebastian said, as the chauffer activated the police scanner. Sure enough, the police chatter was abuzz of “a hideous murder committed at Sky-Castle Resort, just an hour ago, and another at a resort more than 30 miles away just 12 minutes later.” “Damn…” Sebastian cursed. Another girl was dead. This didn’t add up; how in death’s name could one killer possibly cover 30 miles in less than 15 minutes? So much for the “one mastermind” theory. He wondered what could possess a criminal to attack innocent people with no warning at all, obviously, they were mentally unstable, but for a criminal to be this precise and diabolical, he cut into his victim’s bodies with the precision of a surgeon, and he had never once left ANY evidence behind; normally, murders were solved by equally precise sleuthing, but every now and then, a criminal arose that always stays one step ahead of justice. Realizing thatthis killer had a profound knowledge of human bodily systems, Sebastian reasoned that the killer had to be a doctor or surgeon, someone capable of cutting and cleaning up any trace of his DNA even, as to not leave ANY clues. However, even a surgeon would leave some evidence behind. Sebastian had precious little evidence to work with. As the limo pulled up to the Chinese Seaside DistrictPAP Hong Kong Station and Courthouse, Sebastian stepped out of the limousine and walked into the building, the gleaming white, spotless halls, lined with offices where detectives pored over clues, where people who had been arrested waited for an interview with their arresting officers, and the big doors at the end of the hallway that read “Courtroom: Meeting in Session.” Sebastian typed his password into the keypad lock, and opened the door. “Ah, Sebastian Fuller. I’ve been expecting you.” District Attorney Hyuga Odakai of Japan, also working on this case, announced as Sebastian sat down at the opposite end of his desk. Odakai had put more criminals behind bars than any other prosecution attorney in history; he was the best, hands down. However, he appeared at the moment to be more preoccupied with eating his soup thantalking about legal issues. “Mr. Odakai, I do believe we’re here to talk about the case of the Mathematician murders, am I correct?” “Oh, forgive me; I was just finishing my soup. It’s very late at night, you know, a good night for a murderer to strike. I need to eat for my mind to stay sharp when I burn the midnight oil. So, what have you brought to my attention?” “Of course you’re familiar with the case of the Mathematician and how the Chinese government insists that the owners of the Doki Host Clubfrom Japan are responsible for one of the murders, and for that reason the PAP is doing too little to find this killer. They think that the crime spree will end eventually because the Club’s employees are behind bars. Here are some records I found in the case file so far. The 15 owners of the Host Club, for one, don’t exactly fit the profile of serial killers; all 15 of them were cum laude students at Tokyo University, the best in Japan and #5 in the entire world. 10 were juniors, and 5 were seniors that were going to receive their diplomas the next day after summer commencement. They were all, at least according to the girls that stopped there, ‘truly heavenly.’ Secondly, the evidence wasn’t exactly what one would call convincing. The only evidence for the conviction was a slice on the victim’s leg and a brand-new kitchen knife, which the defense used during the trial, which lasted far shorter than usual, by the way, to prove the accused was simply “bringing it back to the club.” “So? The criminals must have simply wiped the blood off.” “The knife was scanned under an electron microscope. Even a fire hose wouldn’t wash all the blood off. No trace of blood was found.” “But-““But nothing, Mr. Odakai, face it. You’ve got the wrong guys. They were tried AND convicted on circumstantial evidence and a biased jury and courtroom. You threw 15 brilliant Japanese minds and lives away in a Chinese prison on a visit to Hong Kong. Is that something you want to live with?” “No…What are you proposing must be done?” “We need to grant a re-trial to the Host Club owners; they’ve only been in jail for 3 weeks, if they’re found innocent of any crime they will be exonerated and compensated with 5 million Euros each, as per the European prisoner exoneration laws. Secondly, I need each of the bathhouses and hotels hit by the Mathematician searched and seized for evidence.” “Wait, you want me to order search and seizure of 7 hotels in Hong Kong, without any idea as to what we’re looking for?” “We’re looking for a pattern to the killings. The first day of the spree, there were 3 killings, the next day, five, the following day, five yet again,7 the following day, and lastly, 11.” “The numbers keep growing, but there doesn’t seem to be a pattern at all, but all I care about is that 31 innocent girls are brutally murdered, and the only “pattern” I see is that the deaths are going to continue to increase!” Just then, the phone rang…on the secure phone network. It was addressed to Sebastian himself. Sebastian, realizing that this may be a trap, had a criminal awaiting arraignment answer the phone. “Listen to the call, don’t say anything, and we’ll bring the conversation over the loudspeakers. The criminal placed the phone anxiously to his ear, and Sebastian and Hyuga Odakai listened to the conversation:
“Well, hello there, ladies and gentlemen, I am your host tonight. Oh, it appears I’ve failed in my cordial skills. I am the one you call “Mathematician.” I must say, you PAP airheads have seriously disappointed me. Math predicted your insufficiency. But then again, I could never expect a band of small-minded cops to understand what I wish to accomplish. I am a simple man, obeying the laws…of the human mind. You see, I was in love, like most of you are or have been; her name’s Lisa, right?” Sebastian clenched his fists and was ready to scream.” “Calm down, I’m not in love with her,she’s too much of a whore for my tastes. But, I do know where she is, and I do know who you are, and I also know that this man on the phone isn’t you!!!” The criminal’s head shattered to bloody bits as the phone exploded. Still, incredibly, the message continued to play. “Well, Sebastian, for that little act of dishonesty, I’ll show you the price of lying. In 30 minutes, I will destroy a random hotel on this beach. Have a good night, gentlemen!!”
Within 5 minutes of the message’s termination, a huge police convoy, sirens wailing at the cars streaked through the rainy night at 70 mph were zooming down the main roads, without even the slightest clue as to what hotel that the Mathematician would hit. For now, his “games” were working. He had the police as simply another card in his hand, and he was playing them accordingly. “This is Squad Car 11 to all units! Squad Car 11 to all units! Proceed to Checkpoints Alpha and Bravo; our air support will cover all the remaining territory with their snipers.” “Copy that, Car 11. Moving Sea Knight helicopter squadrons into patrol altitude.” The helicopter’s thumping rotor blades echoed in the night sky, far above the sea of flashing lights from the police convoy. The choppers positioned themselves over the most likely target area, the Sky Castle Resort, as the enormous police convoy shrieked to a stop outside the bathhouse gate, legions of armed SWAT cops stormed into the bathhouse gate, forcefully interrupting a huge banquet to celebrate the induction of the genius People’s Armored Police detectiveLiWang into the Fraternal Order of Police Heroes; Liwas the youngest member of the Order ever, at 25, he had scored 100% in every single subject for his entrance exams at the most prestigious police academies, respectively, and entered the Law Academies as the top cadets easily. He had solved more crimes that any other detective in the world; he and Odakai were the two best law enforcement officials in the world, bar none. Needless to say, Li was a little surprised when more than 25 swat cops in full combat gear stormed into the building, facing more than 350 police officers of their own organization in full ceremonial dress in the huge resort’s main assembly hall, with a very similar layout to the Osborn House, now vacated by its residents just a day before the nuclear attack. “Ok…what the hell just happened here? Tell me what’s going on!” Li snapped in his usual abrasive tone. “DetectiveWang! There’s an attack about to happen in this bathhouse banquet hall! It’s the Mathematician! You need to leave now!!” The party immediately came to a halt as the entire group of officers, in an orderly but hurried fashion moved toward the transport helicopters…only to stop dead in their tracks. A dark figure stood in the doorway; he had a bluish, purple face, a dark, black robe and cape, as well as a very imposing uniform with meat hooks hanging off of his belt. Sebastian stepped forward, with a stoic look on his face. “I’ll handle this. Get moving now! Now!”Sebastian hollered to the police as the helicopter engines revved up with an ever-increasing sense of urgency, according to the Mathematician’s threat, the bomb was to detonate in 5 minutes.However, it seemed that the Mathematician was standing directly in front of Sebastian. “Stand down, Mathematician. You are hereby under arrest in the name of the Ascendancy. The Supreme Council will decide your fate.” “You will not stop me. The Tempelritters will become more powerful than anything you fools can throw at me.” The Mathematician responded by drawing his wand at lightning speed and firing a huge laser bolt at Sebastian, knocking a huge wall on top of him, but fortunately, Sebastian was quick enough to avoid it. Sebastian responded with a Stun spell, which the Mathematician easily blocked. Then, the duel really heated up. The two wizards fired enormous rays of burning plasma energy that collided in midair between the two of them, illuminating the room with the brilliance of 1,000 suns. Both sorcerers strained to keep their beam from giving way, until a huge explosion from the two beams knocked both wizards back. They quickly jumped back up and continued the fight. They fought on the tables, the rafters, and even the ceiling beams, as their magic allowed them to jump unnaturally high. Fortunately for the police, within three minutes, all 5 of the transport choppers were loaded up. “All aboard! Get the hell out of here!” the pilot of Chopper Eagle 1 said as the helicopters began to slowly lift off because of the weight. “What about Sebastian?!” one of the police officers yelled over the noise of the helicopter rotors. “He’ll find his way out, I guarantee it.” As the choppers reached safe altitude, the clock struck: Time up. “Brace!!” the pilot yelled, only to see the Midnight Sun Palace detonate in a huge fireball.The police died a little at that moment. However, the casualties were at minimum, no guests were currently staying within the huge mansion’s walls, the radiation threat was lessening, but it was still present enough to prevent guests and business. “Well, that damn bastard tricked us!” “This was a plot to kill Sebastian, who I’m assuming we can go extract now. The bomb isn’t here.” Sadly, there were 13 administrators still in the Midnight Sun Palace, however, and all were dead, not to mention Sebastian now had nowhere to live in China.
In the mansion, the duel was winding down, as both sorcerers were exhausted. However, the Mathematician started laughing uncontrollably, at the sound of an explosion. Distracted by the sound of the blast, the dark wizard put a huge laser blast directly into Sebastian’s chest, killing him instantly. The dark sorcerer walked over to Sebastian and uttered 4 words: “Long live the Darkness.” The Mathematician vanished in a sickly yellow cloud.
“He said a “random resort…” Li sighed. “I’ve got a good idea of this murderer’s personality. This is the type of criminal I like to call the fox killers. Like a fox, they play games with their prey, messing with their minds to confuse them until they can strike. That’s exactly what this killer did to Sebastian; the police landed and found him dead, lying on the ground motionless. He played off his haste and desire to protect what he loved, causing him to overlook a very obvious detail. He had no one to blame but himself.” “Are you always this much of a jerk?” one of the cops retorted. “Ever since I was 5 years old, I had a distinct hatred of crime; being a prodigy I read books about law and legal processes and figured out why criminals become criminals in the first place. They have no conscience; they tend to have their own set of morals, for example, a robber breaks into a bank to pay for his drug habit. The robber thinks what he’s doing is just, but it’s only just in hismind because he’s only looking to further his self-interest. From a criminal’s point of view, laws can be interpreted in many ways, much like a sacred text…or a romantic relationship.” “Wait, you just made a total off-topic reference, how does romance relate to…wait a minute…there’s something you’re not telling me. I need to know for case purposes.” one of the other police detectives said, firmly, which was a bold thing to do to Li. “What are you doing, interrogating me?! Mind your own business!!” Li snapped. “Never do. The way I see it, a detective always has to have his nose in another person’s privacy. If you don’t see that, then you’re not a good as you think you are…” “Well, then that makes two of us.” Li snapped at his colleague, who was in the same position of power in the police force as Li was, as the helicopters flew towards the wreckage of Midnight Sun Palace. The sun was starting to rise once again over the beaches, and the police were to begin a long investigation. It was going to be a long day.
Lucian couldn’t have been more pleased. Everything was playing out exactly the way he wanted it to, with the alliance with the mysteriousTempelrittermagicians, who claimed to know where the Icon was, despite their shady, spooky personalities, the deployment of the EUROPE EMPIRE Joint Navy Force, now currently landing troops in one of Russian’s former satellite territories; Ukraine, and the position of power that Lucian was in, the Icon had never seemed closer. However, he was about to get a rude awakening. As Lucian sat down in the rather dark but warm Admiral House den, he picked up a book and started reading it; when a message came in on his satellite phone. It read, in huge letters, “MEET ME AT THE OAK TREE BESIDE THE MANSION.” “Interesting…” Lucian thought, immediately expecting a trap. However, it was relatively unreasonable to think that a spy would simply reveal his location directly to a Chief Military Advisor, so Lucian realized that this person, whoever he was, was probably a government advisor, attempting to meet with Lucian about matters concerning the war. As he walked out of the house and into the rain, he walked towards the huge ancient oak tree next to the Admiral House, which had been growing there since before the Charlemagne. Sure enough, he saw the distinct figure of a robed individual standing under the tree, a risky business in the huge electrical storm that was rumbling in the sky. “Hey! Who are you?” Lucian yelled as he walked closer to the figure. It was clear that the robe was only a coat, but the hood covered the mysterious person’s face. When the individual removed the hood, Lucian almost had a heart attack. “Hey sweetie, surely you remember me?” “Samantha Lucembursky, what are you doing here?!” “Don’t worry, I’ve been granted amnesty as well. She held out her official documents, claiming her citizenship to Europe as per the Emergency Amnesty Act. “You don’t have to worry about me harming you, for I no longer serve Russia, they think me dead at the Battle of the Japanese Home Islands, and I serve you. I will protect you an assist your cause at all costs. Now, if you’ll let me come inside that nice, warm house, I’ll make it worth your while. Don’t you miss the tea I’d make for you? It would hit the spot on a night like this…” Samantha said, rather seductively. “I guess so. I don’t want you to catch a cold…” Lucian said, rather awkwardly. “Thanks. Let’s go inside so I can change out of these wet clothes…I have a nice dress to put on, I think you’ll like it.” Both Sam and Lucian walked into the Admiral House. “Wow, this place is gorgeous!” Sam said, astonished at the grandeur of the place. “I’ll be in the den, waiting for you to get changed.” Lucian said, walking down the stairs to where he was sitting before. “Ok.” Sam replied cheerfully as she walked to the bathroom. She placed her sword, a huge saber in its scabbard on a table near the dining room, which was big enough to seat 13 people. As Lucian sat down in the den, he couldn’t even begin to imagine the implications of this reunion. Sam was obviously up to something, as she always was; she had surprised entire nations in the past with her tenacity, such as the time she killed a Delroc, an enormous eagle-like bird with huge, headdress-like plumage on its head and huge, quetzal-like tail feathers, in a gladiatorial arena to earn enough money to bribe her way out of a bet which would have left her a permanent member of the Sultan of Aleyadin’s court. No one ever expected that someone as frail-looking and graceful as she was could kill a 15-foot tall eagle. She certainly surprised Lucian, for sure. Just then, Sam opened the door to the den room and walked into the light. Her dress was beautiful; it was a deep burgundy-red color; rather low-cut and spaghetti strapped. By any measure, she was gorgeous. Her hair was up in a bun. “That’s a beautiful dress…” Lucian said, staring at her. “I knew you’d like it. You always did when I dressed like this. She sat down right next to him and poured a glass of red wine. She put the glass to her lips. “So, what have you been up to, Sam?” “Nothing really, besides looking for you, I fought at the train wreck of an invasion in Japan, but I faked my own death after the battle, defected in the same way you did, and now I’ll serve your purpose.” “Thanks, but, to be honest with you, I really don’t need help. You’re a wonderful person, and I really care about you, but, it’s my job to run the military. You can stay with me if you want, but I can’t have you doing any of my administrative work.” “What makes you think I’m talking about administrative work, silly?” I can help you in other; more personal ways…I can keep you warm at night come winter, to say the least.” Sam winked. “By the way,” Sam whispered, sipping her wine glass, “it’s supposed to rain like this all night. What do you want to do? We can’t go anywhere…” she cooed, her left dress strap beginning to slip off her shoulder. “Hey, nothing too serious, ok?” Lucian said, in response to her left strap. “Fine, we could always watch T.V.” Sam said, rather disappointed at Lucian’s lack of lustful desire. Sam turned on the T.V. and flipped through the channels, there was nothing on that piqued either of their interests, until they came to one of the sports channels, the huge race between the mighty Moonbeam Squadron and the upstart challengers, the Eagle’s Talon’s Squadron. “Wow, I bet the sports bars in Belgium are loving this…they adore violence.” Lucian said. These races took place in the Aerodrome, near Brussels, the capital city of the EUROPE EMPIRE Like a gladiator battle, the Giant Birds, which had mysteriously appeared on Earth less than 5 years ago, had become an integral part of human life; these thrilling and highly hazardous races were watched by millions of people all over Europe and the world. Also, like a gladiator match, therewere few rules: No killing. Racers would not hesitate to attack each other in huge, highly coveted matches, the rivalry between Moonbeam and Helios was so intense that in one particular match more than half of Moonbeam was knocked out by a Helios rider who brought along a homemade Ping-Pong-ball“assault rifle” before he himself was knocked off his mount, killed accidentally by the Moonbeam Squad Captain minutes later. The racers rode the huge birds, and quite often these races played out like dogfights, with racing aces wheeling about in the Aerodrome like pilots fighting each other. The race was about to begin. As the announcer fired his gun to start the race, Sam looked Lucian in the eyes, her pale blue eyes connecting with his. “Listen, I know we had our differences in the past, and I know you’ve been hurt by my actions. I’m just trying to say that I apologized for what I did, and I understand your reasons for not marrying me. I had to live with that guilt for the past 4 years, and I must admit, I cried for many weeks after the incident. I just wished that your father would simply learn to be civil and not butcher thousands of people. Why couldn’t it be like that night when we first met, peaceful and romantic, when we were both 15; young and naïve? I’ll never know exactly, but things happen for a reason. I have yet to find out what that reason is; however, all I know is that…you need me more than you know.” Lucian, listening to Sam’s long explanation for the long struggle throughout their eventful and sometimes turbulent relationship, had something to say as well: “I forgive you for anything you may have done. We were kids back then. Now, we forge our own paths. You’re an amazing swordmaster and I’m a CMA for the European Union. We can’t dwell on the past…sweetie.” Sam, upon hearing that last word, hugged Lucian as tightly as she could. “I knew you’d eventually love me…” she said.Lucian looked at the date on the calendar- September 1. Exactly 7 years ago, Sam and Lucian first met in Burgundy, at the Grand Ballroom in the Kremlin building, used for ceremonies and built by Kulakov’s regime. Now, they were on their own. Suddenly, the broadcast ended unexpectedly. “We interrupt this broadcast to bring you shocking footage from China. What you are about to see may disturb you.” The images shown in the following clips were nothing short of paroxysmal. There were entire towns burning, it was centered around the destroyed Midnight Sun Resort, there were people being wheeled around on stretchers, ambulances unable to get though burning wreckage, firefighting aircraft flying over the ruined towns, dumping fire retardant on the burning buildings. “This is the result of a terrorist attack that occurred just a few hours ago, with a huge chain reaction of exploding power lines burning the town to ashes. This may be connected to the hideous murders taking place elsewhere in China, as a backdrop to the war between European and Chinese forces currently raging globally.” The Chinese Hong Kong district was indeed under siege from a terrorist; the radiation from the nuclear attacks was enough, but now the terrorists made it appear that the Hong Kong district was history. “With us is Chief Investigator LiWang of the Chinese People’s Armored Police.” As the newscaster began to interview him, Lucian heard a harsh knock at the door. Lucian stepped up from the couch and walked back up to the front door, where two European government officials stood. “Mr. Moonraiser, we hate to interrupt your scheduled leave, but we have someone that needs to discuss something with you. Do not be alarmed by his nationality, he has clearance to be here by the Eurocouncil himself.” “Very well, send him in.” Lucian said over the sound of the thunder. In walked the very same detective that he had seen on the news just 3 minutes before! He was wearing a brown suit, a brown trench coat, a Derby hat and a gray tie. “How did you get over here if you’re being interviewed in China?!” Lucian barked in disbelief. Li, with rain dripping off of the brim of his hat, calmly answered- “It wasn’t a live broadcast. Might I suggest you look at things a little more carefully next time?” Li sneered as he walked past Lucian, directly into the Admiral House. “Wait-wh?!” Li walked directly towards the den, when Sam, still in her gorgeous burgundy dress stepped out and saw Li standing there. “Why, hello, who’s this?” Li said, clearly attracted to her. “Don’t even think about it.” Samsnapped, holding up a sword. Li pulled a gun out of his pocket and pointed it at Sam’s head, but suddenly heard the distinct sound of a sword being unsheathed, only to blink and see Sam holding a sword in her hand, pointing it directly at his groin area. “I swear to God, if you take one more step forward, it’s coming off!” Li slowly placed the gun on the ground and took a few steps backwards. “What is it you needed to say?!” Lucian yelled at the apparently perverted cop. “I have evidence that will definitely help you in locating the Icon. “Wait, aren’t you from a nation that is considered our enemy?” “I don’t want to find the Icon to use it; I just want to stop the war before it destroys the world. The way the nations are fighting now, it is inevitable that the world order will begin to break down, if one of the global Great Powers involved was to collapse, things would be thrown out of balance…” “Yes, we know that. This war’s over ideology as well, those tyrants in Russia are threatening to obliterate all Europe holds dear, and millions of lives are at stake.” “Your statement is flawed. If this war continues, millions of lives will continue to be at stake until it ends; fighting for peace is like hunting to heal, it makes no sense. I’m not on any side; even though I work for China, I don’t have to completely support their ideals. You are a defector yourself; although, however, you did have a hatred for your father to begin with.” “Yes, I did.” “And, did you not say that you defected to escape her, not your father? So that you could find your own way?” That question hit Sam like a nuclear bomb. She dropped her sword and fell to the floor on her knees, too upset even to cry. Lucian closed his eyes…”Yes.” he said, fully aware of the fact that Sam had just walked out the door, crying. “Well, then, it looks like she’s gone…” “And so are you.” Lucian said as he picked up the gun and shot Li in the back of the head, blowing his brains out. Blood sprayed everywhere. “Well, Li, if you think I need your help in finding the damn Icon and that you can try and force my allies from me; you and your damned Chinese government are the ones who are mistaken!!! Sam’s gone, she’ll never come back now…but I don’t need allies like her…old ones, yes, and old ones! New allies will be found! Europe will be victorious!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAAHA HAAAAHHHAAAAAH!!!” Lucian cackled, still holding the loaded, smoking gun. “Never will I let a personal desire get in the way of my work again. The Prime Minister may be the governor ofthis European Union, but I’ll make my reach global. I’ll stop this war, and I’ll bring the world back to balance!”
The Russian Home Fleet, consisting of more than 38 ships, sat in the bay at St.Petersburg, waiting for deployment orders, when suddenly, the carrier Admiral Gorchakov in the bay spotted a huge object approaching from underwater. “Object’s speed is…5280 knots!!!” “Torpedoes!” the SONAR tech yelled “That’s no torpedo, it’s moving too fast…” Suddenly, the object came to a sudden stop in 1 second-from a speed of roughly a mile and a half per second.“Impossible! The G-forces would destroy that object instantly; he must have been pulling 600 g’s!” the captain yelled. It was about to get even more astonishing. The water about a mile in front of them began to roil, with fish jumping out of the water to escape from the massive, tumultuous, roaring colossus arising from the deep waters out in the bay. When it broke the surface of the water, the Home Fleet could only stop and stare. It was a massive, 700-foot long green and silver fuselage with split delta wings at the rear of it, a flat, horizontal tail fin and 6 downward facing scramjets, making massive ripples on the water as the vehicle hovered over the water, facing down the Home Fleet like a bull facing down a matador. It was almost too impossible to believe; an airplane had zoomed into the bay from underwater at a ridiculous speed, defied the laws of physics, and popped out of the water! Just then, a message arrived to the Home Fleet. “We are the true Russia. You are imposters. Death to the Kulakov Tyrants!” The huge aircraft zoomed towards the fleet; it dropped a blinking blue device; the object detonated in an enormous blue static charge wiping out half the Home Fleet in a massive electric charge; gigantic submarines, bigger even than the North American “mega subs” began emerging as well, astonishingly, a massive procession of them arrived on the surface, more than 50 of them were cruising towards the Home Fleet like sharks moving in on a wounded prey item. Fighter jets popped out of the water from massive submarine aircraft carriers and streaked towards the Home Fleet; behind the fleet, huge armies of bizarre, insect-like tanks and landing barges landed on the beaches of the Baltic Sea, just outside St. Petersburg, More of the huge bombers, like the one that came out of the water to launch the initial assault, destroyed more of the Home Fleet, as did the submarines and fighter jets; in just 15 minutes, most of the Russian Navy was destroyed, at least, the Kulakov Navy.
In St Petersburg, a major city in Russia, the situation was critical; the Russians had nothing that could defend against this sudden assault; as the fighter jets, submarines and bombers began shelling the city, with bullets, missiles and bombs ripping the sky apart, destroying the out-of-place Greek architecture; it wasn’t long before the new Russian banner, which, ironically, was the Russian tricolor ofthe traditional Russian people, was flying over St. Petersburg, a city conquered…
15 Days Later.
Within just 15 days, the entire Russian military, including the Navy, Air Force and Army, was completely modernized: by replacing the old, but modernized Cold-War era ships, outdated planes and poor equipment with the ones used by the attackers from the sea. The harbors now contained the enormous Hercules-class atomic submarines used in the overthrow of the Kulakovdictators, the submarine aircraft carriers, submarine battlecruisers, submarine destroyers, and submarine landing barges, submarine frigates and many other smaller, auxiliary submarines. 80% of the new, ultra-modern Russian Navy consisted of submarines, the surface fleet of aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates and cruisers were there solely to counter ASW measures by the enemy; the airfields at Engels, Tushino and Engels-2 now contained the enormous, hypersonic submersible bombers, massive, 8-engined submersible air transports, amphibious helicopters, and various other aircraft. Every aspect of these new Armed Forces was submersible or amphibious, the giant submersible bombers could not only fly and swim at Mach 8; it could come onto land and transform into a massive tank with the press of a button; giving Russia tremendous power and mobility. With 11 million troops now outfitted with the latest gear, Russia was back at the forefront of military-and economic might. With the immediate reforms in the economy, and embrace of the massive natural resources and infrastructure projects,Russia’s economic issues ever since the fall of the USSR had been reversed, and the fiscal year predicted 30% growth, a staggering figure, when all aspects of the economy were figured in. Within just 15 days, it was as if Kulakov had never existed. All of the old traditions were restored, such as the Harvest Festival, the Four Seasons’ Festivals, the ChristmasBall in the Winter Palace on December 24, the May Day parade, New Years’ Eve as the foremost national holiday, and a complete dissolution of the Orthodox Church and State blend; of course, the military parades were still kept as a show of national pride. The Russian culture was, and always had been, very funereal and fatalistic. Not in a scary, creepy way, but in a very poetic manner. New Years’ celebrations in Russia were massive, rowdy and sometimes very risqué, with men getting drunk off vodkaand cheap booze and engaging in debauchery with their female compatriots.Even more spectacular was the annual military parade, always on May 9, in which massive, ground shaking columns of Russian, British, North American, French and Polish soldiers marched through Burgundy: all wearing their imposing uniforms while holding their guns and their vehicles displayed majestically in Red Squarefor the Allied Powers’ celebration of the WWII Victory over the Nazis. On New Year’s, Russia became a massive festival, more than 282 million strong. The enormous farms of apples, fields of grain and other crops were back up and running and Russian people were becoming happy and proud again. Furthermore, all those involved in the massacres were arrested and the slaves freed from their awful conditions, however, Russia still controlled all the conquered territory from Kulakov expansion. The war, however, was the most pressing issue. Europe and Japan were terrified of Russia’s stunning modernization; and the new technology; especially the conduction of spy missions over Japan, Europe, and various smaller African nations had put the world on high alert for an intensification of the war, which promised to lessen if the EUROPE EMPIRE could negotiate a ceasefire. This was likely, however the question was whether this would be a permanent affair or not. With an 11 million man army, a 3,500-aircraft strong Air Force; which, because of the universal amphibious capabilities in the Russian Armed Forces, doubled as Navy, and an 800-ship Navy, this didn’t seem likely. Already, nations, such as the EUROPE EMPIRE, North Americaand Japan, were intercepting huge M-8 Wisent bombers, even larger than the hypersonic, submersible bombers, flying over their airspace. Also, the Su-777 heavy bombers were getting increasingly close to Japan, which worried Prime Minister of Japan Naomi as she christened the new supercarrier, OtoJapan.The world would have to wait to see what Russia would do now.
“Mr. Moonraiser, the reports on the new Russian government are in. We’ve got some good news and some bad news.” “Tell me the good news first.” “Well, Chief Diplomat Hansel from Belgium has been negotiating with the new Russian leaders, Nikolai Spitenyev and his wife, Sabrina, they’ve agreed to a cease-fire, but will continue global air patrols.” “Well, that certainly makes things easier. What’s the bad news?” “China had beefed up its military production. Just because Russia doesn’t want to kill us for now doesn’t mean we’re not at war.” “Do we have any idea of where this new Russian government came from?” “Yes, apparently, Spitenyev was exiled after losing the election at the start of the Kulakov familyFyodor’s reign, more than 20 years ago. He was presumed dead, but apparently built a massive, super-advanced military at an underwater military complex, under the Arctic ice cap, which, according to depth scans, is still being used as the biggest shipyard in Russian territory, along with the land-based construction. Spitenyev is now 38 years old; he’s married to his high-school sweetheart and runs anationon the level of the European Union and North Americain GDP purchasing power parity. Their technology makes the EUROPE EMPIRE and NORTH AMERICA’ look insufficient in many respects.” “What is their stance on the Icon?” Lucian asked, growing impatient. “It appears that Spitenyev has called off the search for it, claiming that war needed to be put behind them, and the U.N. has recognized this claim.” “Bull. I don’t believe that for a second.” Lucian snapped. “The ceasefire may be until further notice, but I know that someday we will come to blows with Russia again. As long as the Icon exists, people will search for it.” Lucian continued on his long diatribe against the Russians, who, in a stunning twist of fortune, were now the ones being civilized. “Continue the surveillance of Russia for now; we’ll deal with the Ayatollahin Aleyadin for now.” Lucian said, dismissing the aide from his office. As much as Lucian hated to admit it, the revitalized Russian Federation now had a massive advantage over every other nation. It had a massive, intimidating army and thousands of nuclear weapons, not to mention the most oil reserves of ANY country, including the Aleyadin Caliphate. It wasn’t that simple anymore. Spitenyev was simply biding his time, waiting for an easy time to strike. Exactly what he was going to hit wasn’t clear, but Lucian sure as hell hoped it wasn’t the EUROPE EMPIRE, although that seemed unlikely at this point. One thing was certain: Lucian could still never return to Russia, otherwise he’d be shot, as he was technically still a member of the Kulakovfamily. The date was September 16, exactly 15 days after Li was killed and the almost simultaneous vow by China that the European Union AND North America would pay for its crimes by killing its ace detective, and China had done nothing so far; Sam was gone, her heart utterly broken and had likely died already, and the terrorist attacks along the Hong Kong and Shanghai districts had mysteriously stopped with Li’s death. However, recent evidence had come to light from the investigations of the late Sebastian Fuller, a Spanish detective who was also looking to stop the killer, who had revealed himself in a very eerie message posted on the Internet only as Mathematician. The message read:
“Hi, sweetiye! I wasn’t extpecting you! You look so beautifullin that read dress. Oh, how I’d like to take you to an exotick city in a luvely apartment, where you’d be sitting with me, we’d sleep together and I’d maeke luvto you until dawn. If you don’t, however, I’ll find you. Wherever you are, I’ll find you.”
This was bad. Not only was this clearly encrypted somehow, but police simply didn’t have a clue what this meant, other than a possible motive for the killings and bombings. The case of “the Mathematician” had gone cold. However, the mysterious halt in the terror that besieged the Hong Kong and now Shanghai, at least in two cases was very interesting to police around the world, but it only opened more questions. Police were utterly baffled. However, Lucian knew, as well as others, that it was obvious as to whom the killer was: Li himself. That message probably meant nothing other than a weird personality quirk. Just then, however Lucian noticed something very odd in the message. Each letter appeared to represent another, like a crypto quip in a newspaper puzzle section. When translated after 3 hours of trial and error, the message read this way:
“To the Gallant and Noble Enemy: I only wish to bring chaos to this rotten, corrupt sewer of a world, and I am, contrary to popular belief in the now irrelevant police departments, very close to achieving that goal. Soon, all will bask in the glorious power of the Almighty, and we shall have chaos. Chaos is the driving force behind all motion in the universe; one single act can have drastic consequences on the world. I prefer the journey, rather than a destination. All of the beautiful girls I killed were merely…cogs in the chaos machine, the initiation of the Grand Plan. All who understand will be saved. All who don’t will be left behind.The Tempelritter emergence in nigh!”
Just then, a European Union police detective walked into the office. “I’ve translated this letter.” The detective read it, his eyes widening as he did so. “Well, we know his…URRRG…THUD!” The detective’s eyes rolled back in his head as he fell to the floor, dead as a doornail. “Someone get a medic!!!” Lucian yelled. This was getting frightening very quickly. Between the phone suddenly blowing up in China, as reported by Fuller and the sudden, freak death of the detective, not to mention the terrorist bombings and hideous murders, this criminal was becoming more than a simple killer. Li clearly wasn’t the murderer, and he was dead wrong about the killer being “just another psycho.” More than 18,000 people were dead at his hands already, in just 25 days, and he said he was “very close” to his goal, whatever that was. Lucian didn’t want to find out, but clearly the detectives from all over the world did. Just then, Lucian received a call from Odakai in China. “We’ve got another message; this time in plain English.”
“Nowhere is safe. Police die.”
“I’m pretty sure who the Mathematician is, and, admittedly, I hope I’m wrong.” Odakai told the ChinesePeople’s Armored Police chief. “I believe him to be a member of a magician cult known as “Orden der Tempelritter.” “Can they perform real magic?” “Yes.” Odakai said, with some apprehension in his voice. “Well, if this is magic, then how do we stop it?” “We have no idea. After finding Sebastian’s corpse, I examined data from his pockets. It is clear that the “Mathematician” is one of these sorcerers. Other than that, we have no clue as to what to look for. Based on the data recovered from the body, I’ve narrowed down the possibilities of potential killers to five individuals. Sebastian brought up five images on the projector; one was of a man that looked similar to Louis XIV, except his eyes were always closed in every picture, the others were a man wearing a very elaborate robe and messy black hair, a very snooty-looking, elegantly dressed woman with a huge fur scarf, yellow eyes and wings, a black-robed man with a purplish-blue face and a belt with meat hooks on it and cape, and a man wearing a black suit, a red cape, a walking cane and a huge mess of medals on his uniform. “These five individuals are as follows: Johann Guggenberger, Santiago Española, Lily Marlin, Jack Woodman, and Daisuke Morimoto. They are the highest-ranked individuals in the Tempelritter Global Army, and are all extraordinarily powerful and extremely dangerous. What their goal is at this point I can’t say, because I don’t know. Perhaps they just want to see the world burn.” Whatever happens, we must not let them get the Icon.” “That will no longer be of issue. The investigations into the Osborn House events show that the Icon was thrown into the ocean by Sasha the day before she was killed. Eisner then killed himself for unexplained reasons, but we now know that he had the Icon, and we think Sasha stole it and threw it into the ocean to prevent its use; and we’re currently looking into that. Eisner was indeed a Tempelritter, so he is likely to have killed Sasha and Cassandra for revenge. I assure you, the Icon is gone, however.” On the news, however, a breaking news message appeared on the screen:
“Russian Federation breaks neutrality pact; declares alliance with Caliphate and China.” The words uttered by Premier Spitenyev chilled the NORTH AMERICA and EUROPE EMPIRE to the bone: “We will bury you alive.”
That was it. Premier Spitenyev had abolished the neutrality pact and took its more traditional stance against the West. The lines were drawn for the final showdown. Just then, however, Odakai heard the door open behind him.
As soon as Odakai turned around, he was hit in the face with a laser bolt from the Mathematician’s wand, dying instantly. An entire troupe of Tempelritter magicians, including Eisner, marched in and pointed their wands at the NPA and PAP chiefs and a group of guards. “You’ve lost, boys.” Mathematician remarked, snootily. He held out the Icon in his hand, a huge, blue stone. “But…I thought Sasha threw it into the ocean!!” one of the investigators yelled. “The police just told us!!” “Oh, really now?!” That fool Odakai knew that too, as Sasha thought that what she had stolen Eisner was the real Icon!” “You mean that?!-Eisner knew that it was a fake?!““Really? Do you really think that Eisner would give Sasha the real Icon? The only reason he killed himself was to become more powerful on purpose! He needed that extra power to prepare for war; as when a wizard kills himself, he returns on the next full moon as a more powerful wizard, if he utters the right spell.The Osborn House girls knew where the real icon was, it was in Britain, right near the Admiral House, in that old, abandoned mansion; the property was owned by Cassandra’s great grandfather, but a dumb blonde like her didn’t even know what was in that building! However, after a bit of searching through family records, dispatching a few worthless individuals, for the simple pleasure of causing chaos, I found the Icon. Oh, and about the war? It was all OUR DOING! OUR PLANNING! Kulakov of the mighty Russian Empire only declared war because we told him that this Icon existed, triggering a mad search for it; after taking it from the abandoned house, which, by playing off Kulakov’s overconfidence and greed, we found the map, brought it to Naron after the destruction of Arion Island and, just as according to plan, the Russian man who now calls himself “Lucian” found it! Because of this find, he led us right to it! The fake Icon was only to sow complacency and make the Osborn House residents think that they had won. The “Seer” was only our Lord Johann Guggenberger giving orders to Kulakov with his mind-reading capabilities, carefully controlling the progression of war, and the Gaia-Kami protection myth was all an engineered lie! Everything that’s happened in the past 20 years has been according the Tempelritters’ design! It’s amazing how lies can trick so many people…By the way, I am the Mathematician!” the sorcereryelled. The investigators, paralyzed with fear of the evil wizards standing in front of them, asked a simple question. “Why?” “Why not?” was the only response given by Mathematician, just before he executed every single person in the room with more wand-laser shots.Just then, a group of Ascendancy wizards suddenly teleported into the room!” “Don’t think you’re going anywhere with that Icon. I hereby place you all under arrest for crimes against humanity!” Not even a second after the Ascendancy wizard read the arrest warrant, he was hit by blast from the Mathematician’s wand. He was killed instantly. The other, less experienced magicians and the Tempelritter wizards broke into a huge wizards’ duel, with magic blasts flying everywhere, destroying overhead lights and setting fire and sprinkler alarms off, water poured like a river out of the sprinklers, drenching the combatants’ elegant robes as they fought. As spectacular as the duel was, it was a decisively one-sided affair. It was over within 2 minutes. Jack Woodman, the Mathematician; and his followers had won. “Next time, avoid pleasantries.” Jack sneered, kicking the body of the older wizard that had read him the arrest warrant. “This world’s days are numbered.”
End Part 1
Part 2-Rapture
In an old, abandoned warehouse along the Chinese Seaside district near Hong Kong, the five of them gathered. As Daisuke walked into the building, the other four sorcerers saluted, except the woman amongst them did not salute in the traditional way of pressing one’s fist to ones chest, lest she suffer a “wardrobe malfunction.” “What’s the matter, Lily? Scared that those huge breasts will fall out if you salute like the men?” “Say one more thing like that and I’ll hex you. I swear.” Lily snapped, pulling her wand from its holster. “Alright, forget I said anything! Geez!” Daisuke groaned, as Lily sneered and adjusted her enormous, coyote-fur scarf. She was wearing a very elegant, “push-up”, diamond-encrusted black dress and had her enormous, bicorn-hat shaped red hair in its usual positionHerwings were folded behind her like a bird’s. Lily was a Fallen Angel of the Haze Realm and a snobbish perfectionist with a huge obsession with fashion, she wouldn’t be caught dead in anything less than a $600 outfit every day, yet she always seemed to feel inadequate, and therefore whined and complained a lot. Daisuke had always pursued Lily as a love interest, but she was having none of it. “You just aren’t my type, Daisuke.” Lily would usually tease. Ignoring Lily’s threat of hexing, Daisuke moved to his other minions “Johann, have you been keeping the young women’s souls that I’ve taken?” “Yes sir.” the heavily built German wizard grumbled in his thick accent. “I keep them in these playing cards; I collect them like a child collects baseball cards. Johann opened a binder and had page after page of cards, each with a smiling young woman’s face, most of them were gorgeous. Johann was perhaps the most feared wizard in the entire TempelritterOrder, he was physically imposing and had the same mentality as Adolph Hitler. “Excellent. We’ll need those souls later down the road.” “However, we are still tied to Europe; therefore that alliance must be severed, as Lucian would never allow us to keep the Icon for ourselves. He must be eliminated. “Well, the best time would be to attack tomorrow, as the Council is convening to address the issue of the Icon’s seizure by us, the Tempelritters.” “If that’s the case, let’s show them the true power of our magic. Never again shall we hide from non-wizards, we must make ourselves known.”Santiago hissed, in his eerie Spanish accent. Santiago was a very bitter, spiteful person towards the Ascendancy, and for good reason: His ancestors were killed by the Ascendancy the last time the Tempelritters went to war with them, more than 700 years ago, during the First Emergence; those Tempelritterswere of the Origin Dynasty, led by the most powerful dark wizard ever known, Wenslaus Nazkreki. A Baltic sorcerer from the Grand Duchy of Lithuania in the 14th century, Wenslaus built the most powerful dynasty of wizards in Haze Realm or Standard Realm history. The emerged from a town called Siedenburg in Germany, and spread death, pestilence, blood and horrendous suffering throughout medieval Europe and Russia. Riding on the backs of black, evil stallions, they attacked with the ferocity of the Mongols; to surrender was to die. After destroying Lithuania, Poland, the Holy Roman Empire, France and parts of England, Scotland and Ireland; when the hour of doom appeared at hand and all hope had died, the people of Europe, Russia and Kiev, even the Mongol yoke in Asia was terrified, could do nothing but appeal to God for salvation. However, the sorcerers were stopped by the Ascendancy, and forcefully disbanded and scattered. The Origin Dynasty put the modern-day Tempelritters to shame, as a copy was never as good as the original. The efforts to build a new Dynasty on Earth AND in the Haze Realm would be very difficult, to say the least, without assistance. Nevertheless, Santiago was one of the senior members of the Grand Wizard Council of Tempelritters;he was part of the whole plan to start the war in the first place, carefully controlling the combatants with Johann’s help, using a decoy to pose as a “Seer,” when in fact it was really Johanncontrolling the war’s progress through the Russian government all along. Santiago was coarse, swore constantly in Spanish, and looked very neat and clean. He had a brutal past of slaughtering thousands of helpless individuals in the Haze Realm, where the sorcerers emerged from, much like the conquistadors of Spain did in the human world, and expanding sorcerer controlled Haze lands into a vast Empire.I’ll prepare a force of 450 of Shock Troopers. They will see our might.” The five sorcerers simply abandoned the rusting, creaking tin-roofed warehouse, vanishing into thin air.
“ORDER!! ORDER!!!” the arbiter of the European Council chamber yelled; the usual order of the Government Councils now had an underlying tone of panic. The Icon had been found by a group of dark sorcerers, and they planned to use it for who knows what. This emergency convention of the Councils was to discuss just that; the Councilors were all chatting and conversing loudly amongst themselves, all 435 of them, and the panic and concern was evident in their tone of voice. As Lucian came to the podium to speak, he was greeted by massive applause, as usual. The old Prime Minister had fallen ill, and Lucian was the likely candidate to succeed him, he was about to give his speech:
“To my fellow Europeans, today we face our greatest crisis. As you all know, the Icon was seized by the Dark Lord Count Daisuke Morimoto, Nicholas Eisner and his Orden der Tempelritter sorcerers. It is not known what these sorcerers’ intentions are at this time, but-URRRRGHH…”
Lucian simply collapsed to the floor, dead. The entire council fell silent; they couldn’t believe what had just happened. Nor could they believe who took Lucian’s place at the podium. Emerging from the shadows, a very eerie-looking man took the podium and spoke: “Hello, my good people. I am Johann Guggenberger, one of the Grand Wizards of the Orden der Tempelritter.” the creepy, black-eyed sorcerer hissed; his eyes were closed, as usual, as he was completely blind; he used magic to navigate the world unseen. Just then, about 450 other wizards, each on clad in black and red robes, marched into the main council chamber, one of the Councilors closest to the door could see bodies lying on the ground, executed members of the European Parliament Guard.
“You have been lied to, people of Europe. Your ‘Great Leader’ was nothing more than a dastardly traitor! He was a defector from Kulakov Russia, and planned to restore that kind of government here, in the EUROPE EMPIRE, the Sovereign Dominion of Europe! I just saved your Union from a gruesome fate! That makes your lives mine. Bow to me as your Chancellor, I will erase this oppression. The oppression of the House of Kulakov will never return. You are saved!”
The Councilors, incredulously, began to bow, row by row, to Johann and his troops. “Excellent.” Johann hissed. Just then, Johann noticed a small, barnacle-encrusted bottle on Lucian’s corpse, he discreetly placed the bottle in his voluminous robes, before addressing his Shock Troops. Facing the crowd of bowing Councilors, he uttered just 3 words: “Execute them all.” There was a huge mass panic in the Council Chamber as the Shock Troops began firing huge laser blasts out of their wands, killing the Councilors like a lawn mower cutting grass. The screams of the Councilors being killed quickly began to die off as more and more fell, until every Councilor of the Old European Order, the noble order of the European People, was dead. The Emperor had already been executed, leaving Johann and the Tempelritter wizards the sole rulers of the E.U; in a scenario no one ever thought possible, Fascism had returned.The Shock Troops sat down at the dead Councilor’s seats; the Head Councilors of each of the departments had already been hand-picked before the coup, and the remaining Shock Troops were their disciples. The remaining Shock Troops that didn’t have a seat in the Council became the Council Guard. The speech given to the former Council was broadcast all overthe EUROPE EMPIRE, to every T.V. and radio. “This New Order requires a change of decoration…See to it that the Tempelritter banner flies over every ship, town, and village.” “Yes sir.” the new Minister of Domestic Affairs said, blankly. Johann walked away, through the wall, and opened the bottle. It read, simply, “Free, Private date withme, contact “MisoLuscious” if found.” Johann tried hard not to laugh. “If this isn’t the most unique way I’ve ever seen someone place a personal ad, I don’t know what is!” Johann said to himself. There was a contact number, so Johann, always curious, decided to pay a call to the address on the paper, however, he would find out where it was by a simple spell. He tapped the paper 5 times with his wand, and a picture of a huge, Hollywood-style mansion appeared on the blank side of the paper. “Well, well, well…” Johann sneered. Just then, one of Johann’s Shock Troops approached him as Johann was walking to his new Emperor’s Office. “Sir, the other nations have heard of your takeover.” “Perfect.” Johann walked into his office and shut the door. “The New Order is born…” Johann thought. “The world will see its might.”
“This is insane! The EUROPE EMPIRE’s under the control of the wizards now?!” Samuel Harrington yelled as the Scotland Yard of Londonmet withhimto tell him the situation. “Yes, apparently you don’t watch news much.” the police officer said, in a very thick English accent. Samuel, after fleeing the Osborn House, had enrolled in law school at the Imperial College of London. He had no idea that the coup in Belgium had led to EUROPE EMPIRE centralization, and the unification of Europe under Brussels’ control. Even more amazingly, a growing number of the people of Europe seemed to welcomewizard rule, it was like North Korea or Nazi Germany. There were people chanting praise for this “Johann Guggenberger,” calling him a “hero” and a “beloved leader” for unifying Europe into a massive super-state, with Brussels and Baronia-Felix as the two capitals. The United States was watching this development with alarm, the united Europe was home to 550 million people and had more resources and a standard of living much higher than that of the NORTH AMERICAA. Plus, the European Army was now larger than that of the NORTH AMERICA military, giving the NORTH AMERICA a powerful new ally, as Guggenberger had promised to maintain Europe’s positive relationship with the United States. The suspicion, however was that the United Europe and North America could not keep ties forever, as their governments had totally different ways of governing. For now, however, relations appeared to be stable. Samuel, however,was deeply concerned about the takeover of Europe by someone in league with theone the man who killed Sasha and Cassandra. The Tempelritters were a foul lot, and North America was just playing into their hands. However, there was very little that Samuel could do to stop Guggenberger. He, as well as Eisner and the entire Orden der Tempelritters had a hand in the murder of Sasha Primakova and Cassandra Morina. “Mrs. Primakova was killed by a certain type of torture and re-animation curse, which was clear by her zombie-form, so these really are genuine sorcerers. I wonder if they have anything to do with this story.” The British police officer showed Samuel a 400-year old storybook written on hide paper. “This is a Brothers’ Grimm story that was never published with their collection, as the Brothers considered it too frightening to show to the German people. Apparently, this was a real story, and not just an urban legend.” The police pointed to hideous drawings of wizards eviscerating, torturing and brutalizing people in pools of their own blood. “This is called ‘The Story of the Tempelritters,’ and if this is what they did last time…well, may God be with us all.” “Christ…” Samuel sighed, looking at the drawings on the page… Well,have a good night.” Samuel got up from the chair in the interview room and walked out into the police station lobby, where various posters were on the bulletin boards about how to deal with suspected Tempelritteractivity, such activity included “finding dead individuals with no apparent murder wound,” “people acting strangely or unusually; such individuals may be under the control of Tempelritter magicians,” and “anyone apparently brandishing a wand or wand-like instrument. If any one of these situations is noticed, contact your local police station immediately.” However, this was all irrelevant now. The wizards were the government. Samuel was currently reading these signs and wondering to himself; he mouthed the words: “Will this ever end?” Just then, however, a man came running into the police station, gasping for breath. “THEY’RE DEAD!! THEY’RE ALL DEAD!!!” “What do you mean?!” Samuel yelled at the hysterical man. “There’s been an attack very close to this location, a particularly brutal one in which an entire family was killed, including three youths. The bodies were found eviscerated, all the adults, a man a woman and a 21-year old young woman skinned and hung by their entrails, and the twoyounger siblings were crucified alive. They were all dead by the time police arrived! AHHHAHHHAHHHHHHH!!”The man became completely catatonic…and then died.“They’re probably after me and Thüringen.” Samuel thought.“Lawrence and I have been spying on the Tempelritters, and we’ve noticed a pattern to their attacks. They seem to be invading homes of people who have criminal records which explains the order of exclusion given by Supreme Chancellor Johann; limiting rights of criminals in jail and even criminals who had already served their timein jail;the New Europe apparently is trying to eliminate crime completely; the family that was just killed; the father had committed only one petty crime in his life: he was prosecuted for trespass in 9th grade. Keep in mind that the man who pressed those charges was murdered by wizards as well just a few days ago, as he had threatened the father with a gun-more than 30 years ago. I’ve read about criminals like this in my law classes; they’re called ‘law-abiding citizens.’ Rather paradoxically, they believe that if they murder other ne’r do wells, they can ‘fix’ the world. Apparently, there’s this entire army of wizards attempting to do just that.” Just then, the T.V. on the wall in the police station switched to a global broadcast by the new EUROPE EMPIRE government. The Council Chamber, once decorated with frescoes of the Founding of the EUROPE EMPIRE and other bits ofEuropean history, was now decorated by posters of all of the former Tempelritter Chiefs and propagandistic images painted over the frescoes. A new flag, with the words “WELT, REICH, VATERLAND” sewn onto it with a huge, black, twin-headed eagle dominating the deep red background, was tied to the wall behind Chancellor of the new enormousNew United Europe, Johann Guggenberger, standing on the podium.The E.U’s capitalswere Baronia-Felix as the political capital and Brussels as the financial capital; even though the London Stock Exchange was in England, and now the European borders within the Union itself had been moved to center power around Germany.“To all those watching this, the world has changed for you. Europe is no longer the entity that you knew it was, but, you have no reason to fear it, as long as you comply with societal laws. The way I see it, there are only two kinds of men in this world: Those that dominate, and those that serve. Those that break this balance are criminals, worthy of no mercy. These rotten individuals don’t understand that a good society needs order, and crooks disrupt that order. They,all of them, engaged in debauchery unacceptable for an orderly society. Murder, rape, robbery and crime, and must be stopped, as our Empire does not allow that. That is why we, as Tempelrittermembers and European citizens, cannot allow such debauchery to occur. We, the Empire of Europe, will NOT TOLERATE your dissidence! This world is rotten, worm-filled pit, and we are the cure for it. All who serve evil will be punished for their heresy against society and the law-abiding citizens…we are the new Gods.”
The T.V. switched off shortly after. Gasps spread throughout the police station as police officers quickly ordered everybody out of the police station, the place was being evacuated as the police realized that something major was about to happen; they didn’t know where the heck it was going to happen, but it was imminent…
“Stand down, Tempelritters.” a group of 25 Ascendancy sorcerers said as a standoff occurred in the huge living room of the old Phoenix Estate in the United States; the place was still owned and occupied by members of the Wallacefamily, the current resident was George Wallace, a 42-year old Ascendancy Enforcer that had seen more than his fair share of combat againstevil, Georgewas the former Head of the Enforcer Department in Geldern Abbey, the secret, hidden headquarters of the Ascendancy on Earth.The 42-year old wizard was not about to let a bunch of Shock Troopers destroy his home, that’s for sure. He and his 25-man personal guard, some of the best trained sorcerers in the world, faced down a group of 10 Shock Troopers, who had neither the experience nor power to defeat George Wallace and his troops. The “message in a bottle” was a trap, as being placed in a certain current, it was certain that it would end up on European shores. Sure enough, everything went according to plan. “In the name of the Ascendancy, you are all placed under arrest for murder. Praetor Bartholomew Bering will decide your fate; and I believe the Council will seek the death penalty for all of you worms. The Tempelritter soldiers dropped their wands and were promptly arrested on the spot, they teleported away, back to Geldern Abbey, where all criminal trials were held.
“ORDER IN THE COURT!!” Praetor Bering barked as the circular courtroom, with the ten accused men in the center of the circle and hundreds of Ascendancy wizards sitting in the seats surrounding them. The judge’s bench was directly in front of the accused. The conversations between the Councilors quickly ended when Bering slammed his gavel on the bench. “The Case of the Ascendancy vs. the Ten Tempelrittersorcerers has now been called to order. Any opening statements from the accused?” Bering asked. “Yes…you, in this room, are all in great danger right now…in 5 minutes…you will see what we mean…URRGHH!” All 10 of the Tempelritter soldiers suddenly dropped dead; they had taken a pill that would kill them if they were ever caught. “REVIVE THEM NOW!!!” Bering screamed as 20 Councilors ran over to the already clearly dead assassins; chaos and panic reigned in the “orderly” courtroom at Geldern Abbey. Immediately after the councilors got up, however, a tremendous explosion was heard in the Grand Hall of the Abbey, the mausoleums and sarcophagi were completely shattered, and the Tomb Keeper was annihilated by the blast as well, he was crushed by a falling stone pillar. The Councilors, already in disarray, stumbled over one another to run out into the Main Hall, where they saw that their worst fears were confirmed. A huge marching column offatigued armoredEuropean soldiers, clad in Monese uniforms, armed with assault rifles and being led by Johann Guggenberger himself, was marching menacingly towards the Councilors, all standing with wands at the ready. “Johann Guggenberger…why have you returned to our stately halls, after years in exile?” “To do what I should have done, 30 years ago! The Council expelled me for attributes I couldn’t control, and now, I’ve returned to see you dead!” Johann bellowed. He stepped backwards, and slowly opened his always-closed eyes. When they were fully opened, they were nothing but huge, blood-red slits, angled downward, making his face look anguished and genuinely frightening. Immediately, the Councilors of the Ascendancy began to fall in droves; whoever looked into his eyes died instantly.His soldiers and Shock Troops had their eyes closed for the duration of the massacre. After the last body hit the floor, Johann closed his eyes, and one of the Shock Troops walked forward, He pulled his hood off from his red and black robe and looked at the dead Praetor Bartholomew Bering. “Well, Father, it looks as if you’ve just lost.” “The Ascendancy is no more…” “NOT IF I HAVE ANYTHING TO SAY ABOUT IT!!” Just then, a group of Ascendancy wizards; the real Council appeared out of nowhere, they suddenly walked through the walls, wearing their blue and white robes and black fez caps. “Weren’t expecting this now, weren’t you? We knew you were coming right from the start, therefore we had 150 captured Tempelritter troops pose as the Council, so you just killed off 150 of your own troops, I’m sure that’s comforting, isn’t that right, exile?” Praetor Bering taunted. Praetor Bering was just as imposing as Guggenberger; he had a stalwart, angular face, black, beady eyes, bizarre, silver-gray hair and a huge medal on his lapel with the words “JUSTICE PREVAILS” emblazoned upon it. “I don’t care if you rule the nation of Europe, here, the Tempelritters have no power. Geldern Abbey is a place of peace, not war, and I’ll give you just this one chance, because I’m in a particularly fine mood today…Leave, or else you will be killed, here, with no trial. We already have enough evidence to prove you guilty and executed. And you, Radu, you are no son of mine.” Guggenberger, realizing he had no choice, simply vanished into thin air, teleporting out of the Abbey along with his followers, leaving the European soldiers alone in front of a mob of 150 extraordinarily powerful wizards. “Do what you wish with these men…” Praetor Bering barked as all 50 European troops were killed within seconds. As Bering walked away, he muttered:
“I hope that racer Thüringen knows how to evade Mortis Aeternum curses… those “death lasers” are almost impossible to dodge…”
COME NOW, CHILDREN OF THE FATHERLAND!!! IT IS MY DESIRE, WHICH IS THAT THIS NATION WILL LAST FOR 1,000 YEARS!!! WE CAN BE FAITHFUL IN KNOWINGTHAT THE FUTURE IS ENTIRELY OURS!!!!!!” Chancellor Johann Guggenberger bellowed into the massive clump of microphones to a watching crowd of 7 million people assembled under the huge new Monument to the 1,000-Year Immortal Reich building in Baronia-Felix. Guggenberger had wasted no time in transforming Baronia-Felix into a Tempelritter showplace. Every flagpole across the vast expanses of European territory was now flying the new Iron Cross flag as well as their own flag and the Circle of Stars, the same Cross used by WWI-era Germany, all households were required to have a picture of the Chancellor in their households, and a huge statue was now in place outside the Capital Hall, the enormous German government complex; it was a picture of a wizard holding up a huge German flag with the words “EXPECT THE UNEXPECTED” inscribed on the base. At this point, ChancellorGuggenberger was directing the crowd’s attention to the top of the new building, and the lighting of the Eternal Flame. Atop the Monument, standing on the flame chalice, however, was a girl, about 18 years old. She was more than 300 feet in the air, lashed to the top of the Monument. “This is our final sacrifice; this traitor will never challenge us again!!” Guggenberger yelled. “To us, and all who will worship us!” The chalice ignited, burning the poor girl to ashes as the crowd roared in applause so loud that it shook the ground; they all waved the new flags in their hands “Hurrah!!” they yelled. “At last, my collection is complete… 300 Virgin Souls…” Guggenberger hissed to himself as a picture of the burned girl appeared in the last portrait of the “photo album.” However, on the cover of the book, a huge picture of Lucian was there…he had trapped the soul of the “traitor” for eternity within its pages. “There are no others capable of finding any of you. You are Tempelritter trophies for eternity…” Guggenberger said as he placed the book back into its cover and faced the cheering crowd. He wasn’t quite absolute ruler yet, but he was pretty damn close. The European Council, still the legitimate government, technically had control over what Guggenberger did, but they all supported him, because of his dispatching of the “traitor” Lucian. The government now had a new Minsterpresident, appointed by Guggenberger himself, and was gradually gaining following in all aspects of European life, from the massive Blue Army of Europe and the Monese,more than 5 million strong, and the enormous industrial cities of Baronia-Felix, London, and Hamburg’s factories. The economy also grew to 18.1 trillion nominal GDP for that fiscal year.This gradual shift towards a dictatorship was slight, but it was rapidly growing in strength as the Tempelritters in the Council continued to win seats. The most obvious indication of trouble in Europe was the execution of “traitors” and Guggenberger’s fiery speeches. The entire world watched in anxiety as these factors fell into place. No one wished for a repeat of 1933.
Samantha Lucembursky, ever since that night exactly one month ago when Li, the cop from China, was shot, had been haunted, hounded and horrified at her own actions. She had him, she could have kissed him right there, but like a total idiot she missed her opportunity; and now, he was dead. Lucian was dead and gone, leaving only an eerie, rising dictatorship in charge of a great power, the EU, the latter which once brought peace and hope to those that looked for it, including Lucian. Including her, was gone.Now, she was alone. Sam sat on a bench in Burgundy’s Red Square; it was close to Harvest, and festivities were starting to kick into high gear. There were large, Orthodox cross-shaped candle boats sailing across the Moskva River, and the massive Harvest Moon was shining in the sky, and couples were walking along the shore amongst the autumn leaves. If only it were that way for her. Sam had cried more tears that she knew she had; just then, she felt someone place their hand on her shoulder. Sam looked up and saw a young man, dressed in scarlet crimson robes with an odd pontiff hat on his head. He looked like a Pope, or something. “Hey! Who are you?!” Sam screeched. “I am a sorcerer, but not of either Tempelritter or Ascendancy. Come. I have knowledge that might be useful to you.” Before she knew it, Sam was suddenly teleported to the side of a huge mountain, where an enormous, stone temple was carved into the bare rock face. Snow covered the huge façade, with a bone-chilling wind cracking Sam’s cheeks. “Welcome to K2, the most perilous peak in the world!” the sorcerer yelled over the howling winds. “We’d best get inside, blizzards out here can get pretty nasty.” Sam agreed wholeheartedly. They both walked into the building, through the huge columns that guarded the door, and into a warm, torch-lit hallway, lined with huge stone Ionic columns. In between each column stood a guard, also clad in the same outfit that the wizard escorting Sam was, only they had a bizarre, glowing spear-like weapon in their hands; they were all standing perfectly still at attention, with stoic expressions on their faces. The door shut behind them with an echoing “clang,” shattering the silence of the place, if only momentarily.Eerie chanting was echoing throughout the temple, like a medieval Europestery. As Sam took in these majestic sights and sounds, the sorcerer leading her brought her to a huge altar, where an enormous book, the Codex Magnus,sat. “This is the encyclopedia of all wizard knowledge…all history, war, peace, prosperity and poverty are contained within this book…it’s charmed so that whenever something new is discovered, the book automatically records it by itself, therefore, like the function it represents, it never ends.” The sorcerer pulled out his wand and tapped the book 4 times. The book flew open to the chapter on Gaia-Kami, the supposed “guardians of Earth.” Immediately, when the pictures of Gaia-Kami specimens appeared on the codex’s yellowing, old pages, they were quite different than what Sam read about as a little kid, in the old myths and legendsbooks that she would always read at night. One of them, called Saccopharopteryx,looked like a hideous cross between a giant swallower-eel and a dragon with yellow, sunken eyes and enormous fangs. Another, Cephalophora, looked like a giant, evil squid with massive hooks on its tentacles, each topped with a bird-like head. Still another, the Nightdragoon, looked like a gigantic nocturnal pterosaur with six silver eyes. “These things arerealGaia-Kami?” Sam gasped, horrified by the reality of the truth about the “divine protectors;” they looked more like hellish nightmare beasts. “Yes. Gaia-Kami are very powerful, wise and mysterious, only revealing themselves to the world when all 5 Icons are brought together. That is the goal of the Tempelritters,mentioned in the Brothers’ Grimm, to use these creatures’ power with the aim of controlling the world. What they don’t know is that their society is travelling down a suicidal path…”“What?” Sam responded, confused. “The Gaia-Kami can’t be controlled by anyone; they will annihilate anyone and anything that attempts to control them. They are the gods of the Haze Realm and they know it, too. So, to business. Samantha Lucembursky, what troubles you?” the sorcerer asked. “Well, to make a long story short, my lover died, and it’s my fault. I didn’t murder him, he would still be alive today were not for me being an idiot and running away when he needed me most, to find the Icon that the Tempelritters now possess.” “There is still a way to bring him back.” the sorcerer said. “I am a Necromancer, but sadly I cannot re-animate something without a body to place the soul in. There is one way to create a body for this young man. However, the task is perilous, suicidal even. You must venture into the Haze Realm, the world of the spirits and the dwellings of the Gaia-Kami themselves to accomplish the task. Most humans that have ended up in the Haze Realm, which is a carbon-copy of our world, just with different country names and inhabitants, have perished. My question is this: Do you love this “Lucian” character enough to die for him?” Sam paused for a second, and then uttered her answer…”Yes…I believe so” “Very well. You must be quick about it, there isn’t much time, and the Tempelritters won’t wait. When all 5 icons are assembled…the world will end, and a New Order will take the place of the human world. Now, I’ll show you the way to the Spirit World.” Sam walked up to an altar behind the Codex Magnusand stood on a pentagram in the center of the floor. “This pentagram represents the spirits, and the circular inscriptions surrounding it are an ancient incantation.” Sam kneeled on the pentagram, and the sorcerer began chanting the sacred spell. One by one, the points on the pentagrambegan to glow brightly, until Sam was completely enveloped in a huge, blazing pillar of light; the light flickered, and just like that, Sam was gone. “I hope she’s ok, she may be our last hope…”
As the light faded, it faded a bit too much.Sam awoke in a dark forest, lying on a mist-cloaked path through the impenetrable leafy undergrowth. It wasn’t clear as to whether it was night or day; the trees obscured the light so much. Sam looked at an old tree stump with an equally rotten, wood-cut sign that said: “BEWARE HAZARDOUS CREATURES IN NOCTURNE FOREST.” “Great…” Sam said to herself, careful not to make much noise. As she walked down the path, which seemed to be getting darker, colder and foggier with every step, she heard a rustling noise, then a grunting sound; she turned around, and saw huge, glowing, yellow eyes. The fog parted, and a huge, evil-looking tree demonstanding in front of her; the vines swinging and gyrating around like octopus tentacles from its boughs, the leaves rustling with anger. The drool from its mouth was actually sap, and the roots were its scuttling, crab-walking feet. “Why are you here, human?! You have no place here!!!” The tree slobbered sap all over Sam’s outfit. “Excuse me; that was my new outfit! Now you die!!” Sam screeched as she plunged her sword deeply into the tree demon’s left eye, causing it to fall over, dead. “Timber…” Sam snapped as the demon collapsed to the misty floor of the forest. “Weird…” Sam thought as she walked further down the misty path. As she passed another huge oak tree, there was a sign posted on the ancient tree’s trunk. “Cathedral of Lost Love: 3 miles ahead.” Sam quickly took interest in the sign, perhaps it held the spell needed to create a new body for Lucian? Just then, however, as Sam continued the walk through the spooky forest, she heard what sounded like the clip-clop of horse footsteps. Out of the mist came a horse mounted soldier; he looked like a nightmare. He had a gray face with a thin, wiry moustache, an enormously muscular build, and bizarre, demonic looking yellow eyes. He carried some kind of gun, as well as a vicious-looking sword that glow an eerie blue. Even more frightening was the armor he wore, it looked like ancient Chinese war armor crossed with the barbarian animal-skin clothing. To make matters worse, he had two other horsemen following him, each equally creepy-looking and wearing the same armor, however, not all were human. One looked like a skeletal raven with armor that fit over his head and a purple battleplate body armor; he also carried and assault-rifle-like weapon and had a pronounced hunchback, and the last one looked like a stereotypical vampire, with fangs as long as Sam’s fingers, he carried a bizarre staff-like object, presumably used as a melee weapon. He was giving orders to his men in an unfamiliar language. Realizing that she couldn’t fight an entire company of horse-mounted soldiers, even with Kab-ba training, Sam took cover in some bushes, hoping that the bushes in question weren’t more tree demons. The five words that the leader said in English were “Glory to the Kokki Empire.” The other soldiers cheered at these words as they urged their horses on and galloped away. Sam, making sure that no more soldiers were coming, walked out and continued down the path, but spotted a small scrap of paper, accidentally dropped by the passing Kokki patrol. Sam picked it up and looked at the map of the KokkiEmpire. It was the most massive empire that Sam had ever seen. It took up the ENTIRE continent Russia occupied in the Human Realm, a massive block of territory that encompassed more than 25% of the planet’s surface area. There was also an equally massive Empire called “Lyceum,” it was the domain of the wizards, and controlled by the Tempelritters and the “Dragon Mages,” whoever they were. Even though the Knowledge Sorcerers were technically under the dark wizards’ control, they were neutral, but still Lycean citizens. Sam, still trying to take the sap off of her robes from the slobbering tree demon, realized that she was smack-dab in the middle of the massive taiga forest at the center of this vast Empire, home to countless supernatural inhabitants, undoubtedly. Sam continued down the mist-cloaked road, past ancient oaks and cedar trees, each one looking like they could hide another odd spirit or a tree demon. Sam kept her sword drawn, just in case of an ambush or sniper in the treetops; she didn’t like the look of those rifles that the Kokki troops were carrying, especially the creepy skeletal raven, for some reason, that one freaked Sam out the most, but, one couldn’t blame her for being afraid of him. Nevertheless, Sam continued onward for another hour, through nothing but the same, creepy road, until she arrived at what appeared to be a huge cathedral, it was overgrown with vines and epiphytes; climbing plants such as pear plants, of which there were plenty of clinging to the huge walls. It was a cathedral in the extreme; it covered more than 15 acres, with 12 different buildings in the complex. The main building was 300 feet tall with 38 stone spires all over it, along with stained-glass windows encrusted with ivy vines. On the old, rusty gates read the barely legible words: “All those with broken hearts, you find sanctuary here.” “This must have been an amazing place when it was occupied; it looks like no one’s been here in hundreds of years.” Sam said to herself. It wouldn’t hurt to go inside, though, as if the Kokki soldiers showed up again, there would be problems, to say the least. Sam opened the gate against the rusty hinges and walked down the cracked, overgrown pavement that once made up the sidewalk, with weeds growing in all the gardens; there was no evidence of any flowers ever planted there; it was so old. As she walked up to the door, Sam though to herself about what might be inside.Realizing this possibility, she bravely opened the door and walked into the abandoned cathedral.
As she stepped into the dark, dusty cathedral, Sam felt an overwhelming sense of disturbance; it was as if she had just walked into a tomb. Dust choked the air as Sam stepped on the floor, the dust was causing her to cough violently; she looked into the foreboding blackness ahead of her; this “Cathedral of Lost Love” felt more like a decrepit cemetery of love-scorned, angered spirits, just waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting traveler. Sam had her sword drawn, waiting for something to happen, just then, the sun reached a position in which the light shined blazingly through the stained glass windows, and illuminated the grand, but tarnished interior of the Cathedral. There were huge glass hearts pictured on the stained-glass windows, glowing like radiant symbols of love and loss; there were no church pews, only a faded, red rug leading up to an altar where a priest would give condolences to those who had lost love in any way, be it by break-up, death or bereavement. There were also pictures of all those who died at their own hands over love and loss, the cathedral was a tragic monument to the most powerful of human emotions, and it was truly beautiful, albeit abandoned. Out of the corner of her eye, however, she spotted the advancing sunlight about to illuminate the altar; as it did so, Sam blinked. When she opened her eyes, it was as if she was in a different world. She stood in the cathedral, staring at the enormous candle and torch stands, there had to be hundreds and candles and torches along the path leading up to the altar, creating an eerie, warm but somewhat menacing glow, the low light in the rest of the cathedral adding a background of darkness to the eerie light. It was haunting, to say the least. “This can’t be real…this has to be an illusion.” Sam thought; this was confirmed when she placed her hand over one of the candles, and it didn’t burn her. Just then, an ancient Latin chant began; and a young woman, being brought in irons to the priest on the huge altar, was slowly being marched toward this enormous table on the altar. This was bad. Not only was the poor thing bound and gagged, she was being brought towards a hierophant priest; a priest that interpreted the Bible in his own way, not according to the Church as a whole. As the woman was brought toward the altar, the priest pulled a bizarre book out of his black robes, along with a knife. The book read “DARK” on it, and it had a list of spells written on its pages. The priest, whose hat had a face; two, little squinty eyes and a mouth, pinned the woman face down on the altar and began to speak in tongues, saying all manner of nonsense words and random syllables until he raised the huge dagger over the woman’s back and proceeded to plunge it directly into her spine.” “STOP IT!!!!!” Sam screeched, hoping that the illusions manifesting before her eyes would halt this hideous sacrifice. Sure enough, the visions disappeared, leaving Sam sitting in the empty, centuries-old building once again. She had tears in her eyes after seeing what happened here so many years ago. This wasn’t a church; it was a hall of sacrifice to some ancient goddess of love, and for good reason it was abandoned. She walked toward the door to the horrid church, which suddenly slammed shut. Just then, an eerie groaning, moaning voice, followed by sinister whispers and laughing noises came from the rafters. Sam drew her sword quickly and turned around, looking for the source of the disembodied voices. She then heard what sounded like a clock cJapan…it was 7:00, the infamous “witching hour.” Suddenly, the doors and windows slammed shut simultaneously, leaving Sam in complete and utter darkness. That’s when things began to get really scary, as the sound of footsteps was heard on the other side of the pitch black room. The steps were soft at first, but then louder, and louder and louder until Sam could make out a figure in the darkness. Sam, frightened but not panicked, yelled “Who are you?” She received an immediate response. “I’ve been waiting for you, for such a long time, Samantha.” the voice said. Amazingly, the voice sounded very familiar to her, as if it was a warm, welcoming sound. Suddenly, the ghost materialized into the shape of a young man, wearing a gold and red Russian aristocratic outfit, with a big fuzzy hat standing in the darkness. He had a sniper rifle slung over his back He looked like his name could have been Prince Charming. “Constantine?” Sam could barely contain herself. Constantine was her private, North American-exchange student high school heartthrob, but just before she met Lucian at age 15; as Sam’s parents, who also vanished, were U.N. representatives to the Kulakov regime, Constantine disappeared, although there was no evidence to suggest he was murdered or committed suicide, he had simply disappeared, and Sam was on the verge of suicide. She had essentially been raised by the Kulakov regime without parents; even though she was in love with Lucian, Constantine was still the man she had a crush on for more than 9 years before his disappearance. “What happened to you?” Sam sobbed with joy. “I was murdered by State Security Force assassins. Apparently, I did something that angered Russia, so they had me killed and swept the whole thing under the rug. The Russian Premier’s son liked you, and he had me executed because I was a threat to his love interest. That man was Ferdinand Kulakov, now known as Lucian. He said that he didn’t like you only to make it seem like he was completely innocent of any crime. He’s been playing you for a sap for nearly 8 years. Changing his name won’t erase his crimes.” Sam couldn’t believe it. If what Constantine said was true, Lucian was nothing more than a backstabbing, brutalizing bully that didn’t love her at all. After standing in one place, staring at the figure of her lover, she closed her eyes, and said: “Then Lucian does not deserve my respect.” Constantine smiled warmly. “Is there a way to get you back to the human world, as in, bring you back to life? “Yes, but I’ll only allow you to do so under one condition…Bring Lucian back as well, so I can settle the score with him myself. He’s mine to kill, not anyone else’s.” “Well, I guess, where do we go from here?” Sam asked, anticipant for an answer. “I really don’t know; this cathedral was where I came to find help to locate you,because I knew you were looking for the resurrection spell; quite frankly, I thought this cathedral was a real cathedral of “lost love” as well. It’s a shame that the Haze Realm is so frightening to humans and the spirits of the “dearly departed,” whatever the heck that means. Being “departed” too young is torture. There’s nothing “dear” about it. I was robbed of my future with you. Now, I want revenge, and I’ll help you in any way I can. Even though I don’t have a body in the human realm, I’m right here.” Sam, trying to contain herself from crying, ran towards Lind and hugged him; he really was there, Sam felt the warmth of his aristocratic outfit, and this was truly where she belonged. Not with Lucian or some now-defunct Russian regime, but with Constantine, her high school sweetheart, in his arms. “I still remember the song we sang together, just before you disappeared:
It all started with a kiss in Paradise, on our first date on the beach, he looked just like I’d dreamed of him. In the beginning, we had our differences, but now I can’t remember one. We laughed, loved, did things we shouldn’t have done, but it was all in the name of good fun…
We lived, laughed and learned, as the wheels of the seasons turned, our summers turned to autumns, our autumns to winters, where we shivered in the bitter cold. But as the seasons turned, spring yearned for our return, together forever, until we’re old.
As our love grew stronger, so did he, our kisses grew longer, him to me. We planned our marriage; I dreamed of being whisked away in beautiful carriage with him alone. However, his dreams were bigger than mine. The Order of the Hibiscus Knights called his name, he treated it just fine, he told me everything would be alright. We were to wed that month until he said, “Sweetie, our time is at an end. I have been called to war, against the merciless Imperial hoard, and I, as a Hibiscus Knight, must take the risk I cannot afford. I will return someday, sweetie, don’t cry, for if I die, I will become a star in the sky. Goodbye.” I stood there and cried as he left, I felt bereft as vanished, my soul bleak, my heart famished. However, as a sat there, my hope hadn’t vanished as I thought…
We lived, laughed and learned, as the wheels of the seasons turned, our summers turned to autumns, our autumns to winters, where we shivered in the bitter cold. But as the seasons turned, spring yearned for our return, together forever, until we’re old.
One time round the years past, I felt as if he’d be home at last, when I saw the giant Albatross-Eagle. However, when I saw the man’s solemn face, my legs became feeble. The messenger jumped off the back of the bird and gave me news that countless others had heard; your loved one is dead. I collapsed to the ground, mourning in my head, how my life would be empty and miserable, unless I took the job at the Abbey, I’m pretty sure I would kill myself from the pain, as I felt endless rain. Now, as I guard the sacred house of Spirit, I think of your voice as I plant a cross in your name. I hear it say…
We lived, laughed and learned, as the wheels of the seasons turned, our summers turned to autumns, our autumns to winters, where we shivered in the bitter cold. But as the seasons turned, spring yearned for our return, together forever, until we’re old.
The song was reference to the Order of Hibiscus Knights, a long-extinct Chinese culture of warriors that was known as the “Peace Keeping Order;” their blue and silver robes and black hair grown out long were, since the time of the Ming Dynasty, the protectors of Imperial China and the inventors of kab-ba fighting techniques and Teienergy channeling, allowing them to perform almost supernatural combat skills. They were wiped out by the British Empire in 1923 in one of the biggest tragedies in Asian history, during the Chinese Civil War; the Parliament placed “the Order of Pacification, or “Order Code 44” In a recently declassified document from EUROPE EMPIRE archives, all 11,000 fully trained Hibiscus Knights were purged by the British and Kai-Shek’s forces. The enormous British battlecruiser HMS Hood, the pride of the Royal Navy and flagship of the Home Fleet, as well as two Lion-class dreadnaughts, bombed the Hibiscus Knights’ Enclaves, as did the British Army’s garrisons from India and Hong Kong. Even most of the ancient scrolls were consigned to the flames of the crematoriums where the Hibiscus Knights were burned, sometimes alive. China had only recently begun to recover from that “century of humiliation” with its economic boom, and the records of the event were destroyed, all except for one, recently discovered document, serving to enflame China’s hostilities towards Europe and North America. Sam and Lawrence Thüringen were some of the few left in the world that still practiced the ancient fighting art and energy channeling.
As Sam sang the song, Constantine did as well. “I loved that song, it was so sweet…” Sam whispered, still hugging Constantine. A single, solemn tear fell from her blue eyes; Sam was never a very happy person, she always seemed depressed or melancholy, despite her intellect, tall, 6-foot elegant figure and sword skills, she was a very haunted person; however, she felt warm and happy with her face in Constantine’s arms. “I’ll never leave you, Samantha. As I waited for you, I only thought about finding you again. After all, I’ll live forever here, now that you’re here, I now have something to live for.” Sam began to cry again, still hugging Constantine. “Sam, I am well aware of the Tempelritterthreat to the human realm, and I caution you; Chancellor Guggenberger, of the United Europe, has connections to the Kokki Empire’s government and the remnants of the Origin Dynasty. The Kokki Empire is ruled by an almost superhuman spirit race called the Scion; they look like giant skeletal ravens with extremely elaborate outfits, faster, stronger and tougher than humans, they are extraordinarily brutal.” “I think I saw one of those things outside, coming into this Cathedral; I think it had the direct intention of harming me…” “I’m not surprised. The Kokki military encompasses more than 200 races, including human spirits, so the soldiers are everywhere. What this means is that if we get caught being up to no good, we’ll be tortured to the point where we beg for death, and then they’d kill us slowly, especially you, because you aren’t even a Haze Realm resident. Sam’s already pale face turned even whiter with this thought. “Then we’d better get moving, staying in one place is only going to make the Kokki Empire find us faster.” Constantine warned. The two of them ran back towards the door to the bloody old cathedral and stepped out into the sunlight, it took a few minutes for Constantine and Sam’s eyes to adjust to the light. They looked around at the dense forest growth that surrounded the old cathedral, the heat and humidity were stifling, and the air was as still as a grave. The cicadas sang in the trees; occasionally one would buzz in alarm as an enormous, hand-sized Bluebottle Hunting Wasp paralyzed the cicada with its extremely potent neurotoxin venom. As Sam and Constantine stood in the heat of the clearing, they quickly made way to the nearest civilization; wherever that was. However, in the human realm, unbeknownst to Sam or Constantine, things were taking a turn for the worse.
Russia was now at a crossroads. Its GDP was as high as theUnited Europe, the United States’ and China’s, and its military was practically invincible. However, beneath that polished exterior, a dark, evil menace lurked, one of which Russia had never known; which was really saying something, as Stalin, Peter the Great, Lenin and now Kulakov, who built up the Russian Federation’s military to Cold War levels again; Spitenyev had just inherited the enormous Russian Empire from another Russian “monster hero.” Spitenyev’s State Security Force was currently investigating several freak deaths, possibly Tempelritter-related; but the method in which these people were killed was completely new. Again, the victim’s background fell into what the Tempelritter mages, currently terrorizing the globe after emerging from China, considered “heresy;” they were criminals. How it was performed, however, was completely foreign. The bodies did have markings on them, unlike the Tempelrittersusual method of killing, a huge laser beam coming out of their wands, which, although not fully understood, killed instantly and left no visible injury. These bodies were all marked by strange pentagram-like symbols, indicating that either the Tempelritterswere mixing it up a bit, or a whole new group of wizards was helping them. The world was now faced with the ugly possibility of a 4-way World War III, between nations, Tempelritter wizards, Ascendancy wizards and these “mystery killers.” It was known, however, that the Tempelrittersorcerers worshipped themselves, and the spies Thüringen and Harrington had reported that Chancellor Guggenberger of the Tempelritter-controlled United Europe was talking about an alliance with the “Ultimate Order of the Dragon Mage.” Whatever that meant, no one could know for sure, but Spitenyev didn’t like it one bit, and he was determined to find out about it. In a book discovered on the body of an Ascendancy-executed Tempelritter sorcerer by the Leftist Coalition ambassadors to the Wizard Ascendancy told all about the various groups of wizards who practiced dark magic; some groups were bigger than others, but they were found anywhere where people lived, just in secret. As Spitenyev leafed through the pages of the book, which read “DARK” on its dusty black cover, taken directly from a place called “Haze Realm” by the Tempelritters, he saw hideous, disgusting images of spells, potions and torture techniques, many of them similar or identical to what had been seen by police and military forces all over the world for the past 6 months. Just a few pages later, however, showed the Dragon Mage chapter, and it was far, farmore terrifying. The Dragon Mages were a much older order; founded at the end of the Last Ice Age, about 9000 B.P. by a group of “illusionists” who trained dragons. At first, the Order was simply built on a need to survive, but they quickly began to gain strength, until eventually their powers were so strong, that they declared themselves “world guardians.”as opposed to the Tempelritters, only formed in 1254 A.D., as an effort to resurrect the Templar Knights, according to the book. The Dragon Mages rode, not surprisingly, huge dragons as mounts, and were responsible for many atrocities throughout history, such as the Black Plague, with a wizard named Bacillus;he spread the bacteria in the first place, just as a joke. The destruction of the first Mayan Civilization, before the Maya that were known to historians, the ones that built the pyramids in Central North America, was the work of the Dragon Mages as well. The Fall of Rome was perpetrated by several Dragon Mages, andthe Anglo-Scottish War torturer at Chillingham Castle, John Sage, was a Dragon Mage. Also, Napoleon’s failed conquest of Egypt was caused, in part, by Dragon Mages. To bring stability to Europe, there was a Dragon Mage plot to aid Charlemagne and Byzantium into combining their efforts to rebuild a massive Roman Empire, but the plan was abandoned when it appeared that the Byzantine Emperor and Charlemagne would quarrel over who truly ruled this Roman super-state, which would have been larger than even the original Empire. These ultimate sorcerers also reinforced Korea against Hideyoshi’s Japan. It seemed that the Dragon Mages were involved in every major conflict since the end of the Pleistocene epoch. The Dragon Mages called themselves “Soldiers of Justice, Foes of Corruption,” in accordance to what they did: Protect peace and end war…by killing thousands upon thousands of people throughout history. The creepy image of a three-headed, screaming black dragon with a terrifying, armored wizard kinght riding on it, killing 30 people in a medieval town at once chilled Spitenyev to the core. If Guggenberger was making an alliance with the ancient Dragon Mage Order, the world as Spitenyev knew it would cease to exist. At this point it was clear what the Tempelritters’ aim was: End the war…at any cost. “That’s how they took the E.U…” Spitenyev realized; it was like being hit with a ton of bricks. Guggenberger had presented himself as a sort of Messiah to the war-weary E.U, after 20 years of war; Johann’s promises to end the war seemed like a very good idea to Europe in general. Therefore, it was imperative that the Dragon Mages not gain control of the Russian populace’s imagination. These wizards were extraordinarily perceptive when it came to politics, a repeat of a dark wizard takeover in Russia, under either the Tempelritters or the much more frightening Dragon Mages. Spitenyev had worked incredibly hard to build Russia to its most powerful form ever; no Dark Wizard army was going to take it from him. Unfortunately, however, in the name of national security, the 282 million Russian Empire’s citizens would have to be closely monitored; this meant reverting back to a Stalinist state. It was an unpleasant decision, but the threat of wizard subversion was so great that a dictatorialRussian Empire was the only way to keep an eye on so many people. However, this could also backfire, as by limiting personal freedoms, the citizens could revolt or challenge the Kremlin, possibly putting another “Messiah” in place. It was a lose-lose situation. Society was already starting to unravel; Christians and Muslims across the world were freaking out; as wizards and witches, the long-held enemies of Christ, were taking over entire continents. Most Christians, including ones in Spitenyev’s own country, were convinced that the time of Anti-Christ was at hand, and that the Apocalypse would soon come. However, Jesus had yet to return, and the reality was that the dark sorcerers were rapidly causing riots, threats of civilian Crusades and witch hunts all over the world. The modern, 21st-century world was reverting back to the Dark Ages. In North America especially, the appearance of true wizards, which were now the obvious performer s of the “Miracle in Hong Kong” was causing another Salem Witch Trial environment, with entire towns, especially in the “Bible Belt,” declaring a new Crusade against anyone suspected of sorcery. People were being shot on sight and reported to police and imprisoned without trial by jury; even children reported their parents, and vice-versa. A new department of NORTH AMERICA government, the first one created since 9/11/01, had been instituted by President John Ross, a staunch Republican. Called the NORTH AMERICA Department of Paranormal Investigation, it was tailored to catch Dark Wizards, now a permanent fixture in global power, especially after the takeover of Europe. It was a very primal fear, the horror of being killed while sleeping in your own bed by an evil being that could appear from nowhere and kill you just as quickly. The sorcerers would appear from nowhere and kill entire families. No one felt safe anymore. There were numerous, small opposition groups popping up in the EUROPE EMPIRE nations; but it became clear that Europe was becoming the center of power of the world…again. The European Navyand the Russian Navy began a vicious arms race almost immediately, building new ships, planes, tanks and weapons, with Europe building a military just as advanced as the Russian one, with the same types of vehicles. There were occasional skirmishes too. A few days prior, a huge European Navy missile cruiser, EUS Vengeance, destroyed a Russian frigate. There was also the matter of Erin Lucembursky, a very pretty 25-year old woman who had fled Europe, and had probably returned to one of her family’s estates on the banks of the Hudson River in the Catskill region of New York. However, two men, Samuel Harrington, now free from the duties of school because of the rapidly centralizing European wizard government takeover, and ace racer and kab-ba swordmaster Lawrence Thüringen were espionage agents for the Ascendancy, who spied on the Tempelritters; they had uncovered vast amounts of knowledge about the dark wizards’ culture, and they, as well as the Ascendancy were now hot on the trail of the Praetor of the Ascendancy Bartholomew Bering’s son, Radu, who betrayed his rather bellicose and spiteful father for his “incompetence,” he felt as if the Ascendancy was holding his immense potential as a wizard back; the Ascendancy and Geldern Abbey worshipped peace, only fighting if someone else started it, but the Tempelritters worshipped the altar of power, strength and emotional desires; through the forces of Chaos itself and the Haze Realm, they drew immense power from anger, fear, sadness and envy, those emotions inspired the 700-year old Order to ultimate supremacy. The Ascendancy and the Tempelrittershad been fighting wars for hundreds of years in the Haze Realm; however, this current war was the only one that had actually revealed the wizards to the general public since the 1300s Radu preferred the stronger, darker feelings over the pathetic lies of love, compassion and justice. According to the latest reports, the two spies were on their way to the Lucembursky estate, to track Radu down, as he was last seen in that region.
“I wonder if it’s the same Lucembursky family that Samantha comes from…” Lawrence questioned, puzzled. “Who?” Samuel responded, not sure who Lawrence was talking about. “Samantha Lucembursky was a colleague of mine when we were both learning the Kab-ba martial arts style, I actually fought her in Russia when I tried to assassinate Kulakov, and her skills were tremendously marvelous.” “Interesting.” Samuel said, in his English accent, not paying attention to Lawrence’s history lesson. Their car, a cheap rental, made them look innocuous as possibleto avoid attracting attention from Tempelritter pursuers. As the car raced over the Tappan Zee Bridge, they saw huge, century-old mansions nestled on the side of the majestic Hudson River, with the forested banks and beautiful town of Cold Spring nearby, it was a hot spot for the superrich. The two spies, however, weren’t there to sightsee. They were now operating in the employ of Praetor Bering, to go after his own son. It was painful for Bering, as a father, to send his own son to his execution, but he had no choice. The evidence for Radu’s involvement with the Tempelritters was overwhelming. The car carrying the two spies arrived at the parking lot of the enormous estate on a cliff overlooking the Hudson; it was a red brick building with a fountain and koi pond, filled with enormous, 70-lb, amazingly well-bred koi carp in center of the circular driveway, where limousines would park. There were topiaries cut into shapes of famous figures throughout history, as well as the presumed owners of the mansion. On the plaque in front of the huge, wooden door, it read:
Lucembursky House- 1415 Anno Domini, in the name of God, Glory and Fatherland, we give our hand to the Kaiser, Elector-General and the Order of the Reichsadler
“Wow…” Samuel gasped. The Lucemburskys weren’t your ordinary rich people; they were a proud family of Germany, despite several of them, including Sam, having Czech blood as well, and had enjoyed a power base in Germany for more than 650 years! The family coat of arms still had the Hohenzollern Eagle emblazoned on it. The Lucembursky family had assisted in the establishment of the state of Brandenburg, they had been part of the Holy Roman Empire’s political center, arbitrated for the English during their wars with the United Provinces of the Netherlands, helped the colonists in North America beat the British for personal interests, not patriotism, several of them fought on the side of PRussia in the 7-Years War under Kaiser Fredrick the Great, they fought heroically against the French Empire in the Napoleonic Wars, were present at the Congress of Vienna, were in attendance at Wilhelm I’s coronation in 1871, fought in WWI on the German side, rather than North American amidst much controversy, and was even contacted by Adolph Hitler in 1941, for assistance in undermining North American government by rallying Germans living in North America to Hitler’s cause, giving Germany the power to incite a Nazi revolution in the NORTH AMERICA Wisely, the family refused. Had they taken the Fuhrer up on his offer, Britain would have fallen very quickly without North America to back it up, as would the USSR. They were still more German than they were North American, and they had a proud history. However, this war was making WWII look like a firecracker. The two spies, posing as detectives for the New York State Police, complete with pilfered badges, walked up to the gigantic door and rang the bell. The bell made a surprisingly eerie “ding-dong” noise, like something you’d hear in a Frankenstein movie. The door creaked open…
As Lawrence and Samuel stepped through the door, they saw nothing short of a Holocaust. Dead bodies were everywhere, some killed with no bodily wounds, some horribly eviscerated, butchered like pigs, or crucified on upside down crosses made of wood from the rafters of the old mansion’s ceiling. The wood floor was stained with blood; blood was also dripping from the kitchen counter with an eerie “ping…ping…ping…” on the linoleum floor. There was broken glass everywhere, shattered limbs, human bones on the blood-soaked carpet and couches. One corpse was even propped up in front of the television with the remote in its hand, as if it was watching T.V; the program on the screen, in a horrendously sick sense of humor, was about slaughtering pigs on a farm. Fire damage was on the curtains. The two spies, too frightened to move at first, quickly drew their guns, despite the fact that Lawrence was a master of the sword. This was dark wizard activity; the woundless victims were, quite literally, dead giveaways. As the spies tripped over corpses and splashed their shoes into pools of blood on the floor, they quickly searched the huge house for clues on how this may have happened and why. Then, a picture was found on the floor, with a picture of the two young women who lived in the house as children: Samantha and Erin Lucembursky. Erin was one of the victims, lying broken on the floor about three feet away. However, a picture of Samantha was found too, and there were lines pointing directly at her face. “She’s the next target…” Lawrence realized. He also saw another picture of both sisters as young adults; Sam was wearing her usual crimson dress, holding a katana, along with Erin, smiling while standing next to her sister; she had taken instructions with the swords as well and was wearing a long, elegant but bizarre dress that looked like something you would see in a Japanese comic book. “It is her…” Lawrence mumbled. Just then, Samuel heard Lawrence from up the stairs; he was looking at a huge, ancient tapestry hanging in the room. On the tapestry was the image of a battle between two armies, one led by a huge, dragon-riding soldier, and the other led by a woman in a red dress with a brilliant sword. The tapestry was written in a very strange dialect, it looked more like ancient runes than a real alphabet. Studying the tapestry, the two spies felt as if someone was watching them. “Why if it isn’t the two spies of the Ascendancy, come to ruin my fun?” a strange, snake-like voice hissed. Both Lawrence and Samuel turned around, guns at the ready, and saw Radu standing in front of them, smirking with an evil grin. “Stand down, Radu. We’ve caught you red-handed. The Ascendancy Enforcers will be here any second.” “Oh really? That may be the case, but for now, I have the advantage…I’ll need you to simply give me one thing…that tapestry there holds the map to the remaining four Sacred Icons, created by the Xaati Empire, more than 9000 years ago. The Icons are the keys to the Haze Realm, when all are found, the two worlds will join, and there will be peace. Peace is all the Tempelritters desire, that’s why Guggenberger has declared neutrality, to end this WWIII. The tapestry depicts the final battle that temporarily saved the great Empire, until the dragon-riders, the Dragon Mages, returned and destroyed the civilization 3 years later. The Scandinavian Lapp, the descendants of the Xaati, still speak of the “Red Woman” a reference to the woman in the tapestry with the sword. Since the Lapp believe that things come in cycles, the Red Woman once again walks this earth, just in a different name. Can you guess, spies, who that may be?” Radu hissed. Lawrence held up the picture of Sam Lucembursky. “Yes…That’s her.” We came here to find her and kill her, but we only found her whore of a sister and her company in this house, so we had our fun with them, and then you showed up. Now that you know this information, the secrets you’ve uncovered will die with you.” 5 other Tempelritter sorcerers materialized out of black dust clouds, raised their wands and fired the Kill Ray, as the non-wizards were calling it. However, the shots were immediately deflected by a shield barrier of energy. 6 Ascendancy wizards had arrived, led by none other than Bartholomew himself, come to personally arrest and try his son for his crimes. “Radu, you have stained the Order of the Ascendancy and dishonored me in the lowest way possible; for that reason, I have no regrets in placing you and your company under arrest for your horrendous acts of brutality.” Bartholomew snapped. “Do your worst.” Radu taunted. A vicious exchange of magic attacks broke out immediately, with huge blasts of Kill Ray shots slicing through the mansion from Radu and his troops, blocked by Diffusion Static Shield techniques from the Ascendancy wizards. “Protect the tapestry!!” Bartholomew yelled as he blocked multiple Kill Ray shots with his Static Shield spells. The two spies, armed only with pistols, stood behind the Ascendancy wizards as they fired their own attack spells; these were not meant to be lethal, they would only incapacitate. The Ascendancy did not kill criminals outright unless they absolutely had to, they, like any other accused of a crime, would be given a fair and speedy trial, although Bartholomew was stricter in his methods of justice; he actually preferred to kill, as imprisonment and trials, especially after the fiasco with Guggenberger in Geldern Abbey, often gave criminals a chance to escape. Three of the six Tempelritterswere completely incapacitated by Stasis spells; they were as good as arrested-if Bartholomew could stop his son’s rampage. Just then, when one of the Ascendancy wizards wasn’t looking, Radu jumped high into the air; while in the air, he hit the two spies, Lawrence and Samuel. They were killed instantly. Momentarily distracted by the extraordinarily dirty, underhanded tactic, Radu jumped, and swiped the tapestry off the wall, rolled it up and teleported away in a fog of black haze, as did the remaining Tempelritter sorcerers that weren’t incapacitated. Once again, Bartholomew’s own son had eluded justice; worse, the tapestry was now in enemy hands, and the two spies were dead. The intervention at Lucembursky House was a colossal failure. It was a cold, early November night, a night of tragedy and terror in one of the wealthiest neighborhoods in the world. As Bartholomew stood in the ruins of the mansion, he muttered the words: “May the fates shine upon us…” before him too teleported away, leaving the Lucembursky massacre for the New York State Police to find. However, in China, the situation was about to pass the point of no return. A deal was about to be made that would seal the fate of human society forever.
“So, you wish for me to take my Dragon Riders garrison to China and violently overthrow the CCP government?” the frightening Wizard Lord asked. “Yes, Knight Mar.” Guggenberger said in awe of the mighty Paladin that stood before him. He wore a black uniform with medals all over it, a cape, and a strange bicorn hat and carried a staff with an ankh hanging from the handle. He had sallow, sunken eyes that were eerie, yellow and demonic looking. This man, a Dragon Mage, clearly had the blood of many poor souls on his hands, as given by the blood-stained blade on the top of his menacing staff. “So, where were you?” Guggenberger asked. “I was actually scouting out a position in China itself, Hong Kong has been mostly cleared of radiation and China is now considering a nuclear strike against the NORTH AMERICA, which fired the missile in the first place, starting the full-blown conflict. If this war goes nuclear, the world will not survive. As a Dragon Mage Knight, the second rank down from the highest honor a Dragon Mage can achieve, Dragon Lord Master, it is my sworn duty to protect peace. We, as both Tempelritters and Dragon Mage Knights, value peace and prosperity, stability and order; therefore, we must stop China before it can launch a missile. I feel that the only way to do this is to put a Dragon Mage in power in Fujing, this will return China to a military supremacy in Asia, and help build up China’s already massive military; which has been very successful in its power projection so far throughout the war, which has been going on for 20 years and 7 months now. The Chinese Navy has been able to support its allies in the Middle East and the Indian Ocean from its Maldives base and bases in Dubai and some of the other Caliphate member states, and China enjoys a monopoly on the oil in the Middle Eastern region; I’m sure you realize, as leader of the European Union, that oil is difficult to come across for the EUROPE EMPIRE as of now. China’s government being replaced by one on our Order would not only solve the oil issues, but it would give our alliance even more resources and power. The only request I require is this: Once China falls under Dragon Mage control; we must break our neutrality and allegiance with the non-wizard governments. Peace can be found through other methods.” Guggenberger thought for a second, and then agreed with Mar, the Chinese Dragon Mage. “However, simply destroying the capital will not give us control. We must play politics. Just as you played off Europe’s desires for peace, I shall play off my people’s thirst for bloodshed against North America. Europe doesn’t matter to China, its North America that needs to be taught a lesson. Now that I see it, the Order of Dragon Mages and China needs to wipe out North America completely, because the insane Christian right-wing zealots have set the NORTH AMERICA back to the Dark Ages, with the threats of civilian “crusades,” it isn’t practical to let them live. Christianity, conservatives and Republicans, as well as criminals will feel the wrath of the Chinese Dragon, as well as my own sorcerers’ dragon mounts. Only those who question religion, atheists, agnostics and non-Christian religions will survive. North America is only on your side because of its ties to Europe. I will not rest until Christianity breathes its last.” “What about the Red Woman, she’s back.” Guggenberger warned. “She will not be much of a threat. With the control of the militaries and armies, we will be invincible.” The two dark sorcerers shook hands, officially creating the Draco-Wizard Alliance. “Now to begin the transition of power, I will perform my typical method of incapacitation. Zhu is too clever and to perceptive to fall for any sorcery trick; therefore he must be removed from office; as his secretary, who succeeds the President if said President is unable to govern, is young and naïve, controlling him won’t be much of a problem, as he is very weak minded and is easily swayed by other’s opinions.” Mar hissed in a very moaning, echoing voice. Now, I must leave, before the Chinese People’s Armored Police discovers us. You will hear from me when I’ve taken control of China. And, by the way, it appears you’ve found the map to the other four Icons in New York. Until then, we part.” Mar hissed as he vanished into a black haze. However, an unannounced assault was about to take place, one that would truly bring the world to the realization that the victims of the Origin Dynasty felt centuries before.
“THIS IS JAPANESE NPA SQUAD CONVOY 15!! WE CAN’T HOLD THEM MUCH LONGER!!! WHERE ARE THE DAMN CARRIERS?!!” the police SWAT team yelled into the radio as explosions and falling buildings were everywhere. Suddenly, just in front of the SWAT convoy, a huge, horned dragon landed right in front of them, with a robed, very ornately-armored wizard riding on its back. The police APC swerved to avoid the huge beast’s mouth, but the sorcerer riding it fired an immense blast of radiant red energy, it struck the APC , causing it to explode instantly; the other smaller police cars crashed, flipped and exploded as a massive pile-up appeared in the ruined Shibuya Crossing, the electric lights that characterized this Japanese Times Square were flickering and sparking as burning wreckage struck them; some displayed a message of “EVACUATION ALERT!!” in Japanese and English. The newly remilitarized Japan was a force to reckon with, but the Navy was out in the Pacific Ocean engaging the Chinese and the Russians; there was very little that Japan could do to prevent such a sudden assault. Japanese Fleet Command had ordered at least one supercarrier to return and assist, but the ship was 2 days away. The Japanese National Police Agency SWAT teams knew that they might not survive another two hours, let alone days. As the fired burned and the city razed, the P.M. waited in the bomb shelter of the ruined Diet building. It was only a matter of time, however until the Dragon Mages found them and killed them, just as they had all others who opposed them. As more and more tanks were destroyed, the Dragon Mages advanced further into the city; soon, the dragons were flying over the Diet building, until two of them landed, blasted the bomb shelter doors open. The dragon breathed a massive blast of flame into the bomb shelter, putting all those inside out of their misery. In just an hour, Tokyo had fallen and half of the city was in ruins. Sure enough, a broadcast was sent all over Japan from an emergency broadcast system in Tokyo.
This night marks the first year of the Dragon Mage Era in Japan. I am but a symbol of the Mage Order itself. What you people fail to see is that governments, regardless as to how “free” they claim to be, are all just propagandistic ways of keeping people from deviating away from a government’s ideals. In that case, let me explain to you an example: the troops in Vietnam or Iraq. These soldiers claimed to be fighting for freedom, but in reality are mindless drones of a democratic ideal that in these days is so convoluted and biased towards the right-wing that people aren’t really “free” at all anymore. The soldiers are slaves of a dying ideal. No country currently practices the type of democracy that North America prided itself on for all these years. Instead, North America has been overrun by religious zealots, screaming and blabbering idiot organizations such as the Tea Party, and conservative politicians that are slowly but surely reducing North America to a garrison state. A conservative majority will eventually result in a Fascist North America. Democracy has run its course. The Republican Party, or as I refer it to as the “North American Nazi Party,” has ruined the North American system. It’s time we, the Dragon Mages, set the record straight. All I need you to do is listen to this message. North America is a tyranny, one that has destroyed your country in the past. Remember those lost in Hiroshima, Nagasaki and all the gallant sailors of the Imperial Navy who died at the hands of the NORTH AMERICA abuses. You are all sovereign Japanese people. Regain your fighting spirit! Your leaders have sold you out like slaves to the West. Your honor will return, all I ask is that all of you pledge your silent allegiance to me, and I will give you peace, justice and a happy, meaningful existence.”
The broadcast ended, with another entire nation under wizard control. One thing was certain: This was going to get ugly.
A week later, on November 18, the Japanese government was secured by the Dragon Mage Knight Lucifer Felreen; to give the title “Lucifer” to a Dragon Mage was to greatly honor their power. The perpetrator of the attacks on the Japanese capital, Felreen immediately sent the Japanese Navy on a campaign of terror that destroyed Korea, Taiwan and parts of the Philippines, killing thousands. The new Japanese Empire, as it was being called, was now a military superpower on par with China, with one of the largest navies in the world; no other navy operated more carriers than the Japanese. Now the Japan and Europe, ruled by wizards, were on the warpath, the rest of the world was looking more and more desperate for a way to halt the advance of the Draco-Wizard Alliance, without the use of nuclear weapons; this was looking more and more like the unpublished Brothers’ Grimm fairy tale with every passing second. The writing was on the wall; there was no way that anyone could know that the “Story of the Tempelritters” was a real account and not fiction, despite the fact that this children’s fable was very real. By this point, Japan had initiated a “Great Terror” of sorts, with the Japanese NPA, now transformed into a Gestapo-like secret police force called “Night Hunters,” rounding up “undesirables,” such as wealthy celebrities, people of ALL religions, any political party that opposed Felreen’s “Iron Triangle Party,” so named because of its symbol, three triangles stacked into one big triangle, cripples, mentally impaired people and criminals. All of these people we considered to be “holding society back.” It was a dark day in world history. The situation faced by the characters in the Brothers Grimm story was rapidly manifesting itself once again, and it appeared that there would be no miraculous hero appearing to save the planet this time. All the people could do was pray that whatever hellhole these sorcerers came from would close, and the world would return to its normal, pre-war state. So far, that wasn’t happening. The Federated Republic of Europe, now referred to as the “German European Conglomerate” under Chancellor Guggenberger, had an enormous, 7.5-million man Army, and had adopted a new flag-the Wolf Cross, symbolizing wizards in ancient Germanic mythology, with technology now on par with that of Russia’s entirely amphibious vehicle inventory, more than 80% of the European military was now amphibious, and that number was still growing. The European economy now out-produced all other nations, including the NORTH AMERICA, which was on the brink of civil war, and the NORTH AMERICA in a state of unrest from the wizard hysteria; President John Ross, who had withdrawn the NORTH AMERICA from the Leftist Coalition upon his entrance to office, placed “emergency laws” in place such as government curfews. Europe now out-financed Wall Street by 15%. Europe was once again the powerhouse of the world, after about 100 years of eclipse by North America. The German United Europe was now constructing fleets that could destroy any other, in addition to the exotic “elemental” warships, of which there were 50 in the 594-ship European Navy, many other huge and exotic vessels, such as the nuclear-powered supercarriers being built at the shipyards of Belfast for Europe, Hamburg was building carriers as well as nuclear-powered missile cruisers and huge submarines for the Naval Headquarters of Europe in Amsterdam; Though the NORTH AMERICAA. was no longer the foremost world stock market, it still maintained a huge economic presence and a 600-ship Navy, but not as advanced as Europe’s and Russia’s; they now were Great Powers in every sense of the word, in technology and finance, with the Russian navy third to the North American one and European one, with 550 ships. The war had never looked more ferocious. Something had to give. North America, the German United Europe and Russia were the top powers by far, with the German United Europe leading the pack; it was essentially a revived Roman Empire, under a tyrant wizard Emperor’s rule.
In Baronia-Felix, now the sole capital of the German United Europe, the government was abuzz at the discovery of the second Icon’s location. It was in North America, in a little town at the base of the Catskills called Pine Bush. Famous for its UFO reports, the town was home to traditional North American ways; however, the war and the international crisis involving the sorcerers had put a damper on things in the town and now the schools were under major scrutiny, anything even related to wizardry was banned and confiscated, and any reports of Tempelritter or Dragon Mage activity would be taken very seriously. Still, life in the town was pretty much the same, and the holidays were fast approaching. However, the Icon itself was in the collection of one particular young woman’s jewelry box, she had just received her M.D. and was home, as she had recently experienced a death in the family. This offered the Tempelritters a golden opportunity to seize the Icon easily, a group of wizards would be sent to the town to procure the Icon and destroy anyone who stood before them. The Draco-Wizard Alliance would move in under cover of darkness, enter the home and kill all inside, seize the objective and get out quickly before Ascendancy wizards showed up. All seemed to be in order for the assault. But why make things so easy? The Tempelritters decided to purposely delay the attack just to make this girl quake in terror before her and her family was murdered. However, that was only the Tempelritters’ plan.
The young woman, Angelina, referred to as “Sweet Voice” by her friends was walking around town that night, careful to watch out for any suspicious activity. However, she was very sad and glum, not only had her family suffered the loss of a grandparent to Alzheimer’s disease, but because several of her very close friends that she had known since 3rd grade were dead at the hands of the dark wizards, they were purged as heretics. As such, she was singing a soft, sad song as she walked along Main Street through the center of town:
Along the path of life, we see death. Along the path of life, we see pain. Along the path of life we see joy. Verily, you are worthy.
Worthy because you make me smile.Worthy because you hold my hand.Worthy because you make me laugh when I’m about to cry.Worthy because you’ll be waiting for me when I die. Verily, you are worthy.
Even when the highest, snowcapped peaks fall, the rain fails and my heart ails, I know you’ll always be with me in my hour of need. Don’t kill me, for I am already dead. Don’t talk to me, as I am deaf to all words. All I need is your kiss. Verily, you are worthy.
Angelina’s title “Sweet Voice” was well deserved; she was a doctor and had performed at Carnegie Hall with the National Orchestra and Choir, and she had been a part of the school choir almost 11 years ago.
Angelina had already seen too many people die as a result of this war, which, at age 27, had been going on in spotty phases for most of her life. As she rounded the corner down her street, she saw stickers such as “Support our Troops” and “Sorcerers to Hell” on cars and houses. She suddenly heard as slight flapping sound approaching her from the streetlights; Angelina turned around suddenly and saw a huge moth flying directly at her head; it was green with two long tails extending from its hind wings. “EEEEEEEEEEK!!!” Angelina squealed; despite the fact that the Luna Moth fluttering in front of her was completely and utterly harmless…or so she thought. Little did she know that she was going to become a huge part of this global insanity very soon. As Angelina walked past the Church on New Street, she noticed that the moth was following her. Fearing the worst, her walk became faster until she broke into a run. The wind suddenly picked up and howled through the bare, creaking November trees; the terror was building up in her chest, realizing the cold reality of what was about to happen to her. The horror only increased when the “moth” landed on the ground just in front of her. Slowly growing larger and larger, the now enormous insect took the shape of a chrysalis, the pupa stage of a Lepidoptera insect’s life cycle. Just as Angelina was about to turn and run, the huge cocoon took the shape of a mummy, and inside, like a menacing Messiah of evil, was a dark sorcerer, clad in green and silver, a drooping cone-shaped hat, a staff with a huge cleaver-like blade on top of it, and an eerie, chalk white face with grey, dilated eyes. He cut his way out of the cocoon with one swing of the blade. “So, did you like my disguise? I must say, your disrespect for the insect world is not appreciated. I’ll have you know that without insects and arachnids, neither you nor I would exist. Squishing ants and roaches in anger and fear is no way to show your gratitude. Therefore you must be punished. Come with me…If you do not, the world will die, and your life will be forfeit. You are a killer, one who listens to the advice of others regardless of who they are, your friends tell you to kill insects as vermin, so you too will be treated as vermin…I am Veek, the Dungeon Master of the Orden der Tempelritter. I need you to be a volunteer for an experiment, all the young men adore your smile and figure; you will make a fine addition to my exhibit.” Angelina tried to flee the dark wizard but was suddenly grabbed by puppet strings that appeared from nowhere. They attached to her arms; the moment they did so, she drooped over and stood up again, this time, her eyes were glazed over and dilated and she walked with a drooping figure. “Your name is Crescent now. That’s who you are.” Veek hissed. “Don’t worry, the incapacitation strings won’t last long.” However, the disappearance of Angelina would not go unnoticed for long. She was one of the most popular girls in town, most people knew who she was from her days in high school, and she was always sitting peacefully on a bench in the park by the pine trees, reading a book, usually a romance novel. Those days were over, the days of peace, justice, and liberty. The harsh reality of the world now was that it was a horrendously dangerous place. Veek’s sudden appearance confirmed this. However, there was one equally influential young man who graduated from the same high school, who still kept her memory in his mind. However, this young man was influential on a global scale. His name was Wallace Trapp; a man of Austrian descent and a member of Angelina’s graduation year. He was an oil baron in Qatar and the UAE; he had graduated from the high school, went on to Harvard Business School, worked in the oil trade and cornered the Dubai and Doha oil markets; he was now worth an estimated $30 billion. He was a corporate genius, and had risen to absolute power in the oil business. However, his plans were far, fargrander than any other businessman in human history. Using his resources and his innate intelligence, he was attempting to control every last drop of oil on the planet. If he succeeded in controlling the $45 trillion industry, he would be richer than the U.S, China and all of Europe COMBINED. He would effectively control the world; the dark sorcerers could conquer, pillage, plunder and pile-drive all they wanted, but without fuel, their vast armies were useless. The goal of this was to prevent the wizards from dominating the globe by cutting off their fuel supply, therefore creating peace and ending the war. However, Wallace was Christian, and feared for his life from the Draco-Wizard Alliance, which had embarked on a campaign to not only dominate all of the world’s major powers, but to extinguish monotheism, claiming that it was “heretical and contradictory” to the wizard belief that they were gods. This form of theocratic, polytheistic oligarchy was utterly destroying Christian values all over Europe. Churches built in the 8th century were demolished, paving the way for modern buildings. Hundreds of practicing Christians had been sent to prison for something as simple as reading Biblical passages. Plus, the first Icon was in wizard hands, and Wallace knew exactly where the second one was; he had given it to Angelina on her 18th birthday. He only realized that the Icon was the beautiful necklace that he had given to her as a graduation gift from high school about 9 years ago. Now that the Angelina was gone, the necklace was up for grabs. Wallace, upon hearing this news, ordered an immediate private jet flight back to New York, where it would land at Stewart Airport. “Hold on, Angelina, I’ll be home shortly.” Wallace said as he boarded the plane from Abu Dhabi to New York. Wallace was going to need lots of luck, to say the least. The Dungeon Master was notoriously cruel to his victims, Angelina, a very beautiful young lady with brains and a very impressive education record would have been a huge prize to a harvester like Veek, he collected human beings like a girl collects dolls, often sedating them and keeping them in cryogenic stasis, to prevent aging and displaying them in exhibits like stuffed decoys in museums. It was at that moment that Wallace would create a world, through the oil industry, where the sorcerers would be unable to use the conquered nations’ armies by starving them of fuel, and rule the Earth himself, with Angelina as his wife. “Enough of this ‘new gods’ crap. I will be the boss, and I will control the nations of this world and drive these wizard murderers to where they came from-Hell.” Wallace said, as his plan took shape. He would fly to North America, retrieve the Icon before the wizards could find it, and then use its power, whatever that was. In about 15 hours, he’d be home to the place he grew up, and went to school. “Angie” was always his favorite during high school, and they planned to find each other again one day and simply go out to eat, regardless of the fact that Angelina was quite coarse to Wallace throughout high school, she’d call him a total “idiot,” “screw-up” and “weirdo” on a regular basis, but just three days before graduation, Angelina confessed that she “cared about his well-being, but to not get any funny ideas.” He then presented her with the necklace, the Icon. Wallace would always remember the confused, but satisfied look on her face as she placed it around her neck and walked away. He last saw her at the all-night graduation party that the school held every year for its seniors. For all Wallace knew, she could be, and most likely was, unfortunately, dead.However, the sorcerers in Pine Bush weren’t done yet. They were about to hit another place about 8 miles up the road, and none other than Veek would lead the assault.
On a road coming off the main thoroughfare, a large, log-cabin with a green roof lay nestled at the end of a long driveway. The owner clearly valued privacy in the extreme, most other residents in the area suspectedthat he was doing something illegal, as there was no other reason to take this much caution against trespassers. Believing these rumors, the Dragon Mages sent Veek there to “straighten out” this family. There was also a secondary purpose to the attack, and that was to collect blood, which was needed for the potion that Veek was trying to create. This potion would create a drink that could extend a person’s life for 700 years, if taken every day. This would ensure that the elite of the Tempelritter and Dragon Mage Orders would live long enough to see their Empire flower like a spring blossom, and to see the complete destruction of monotheism. However, the Icon was not in the house in Pine Bush, even though the address was right. There was a note, however, written on the desk where the Icon should have been:
Dear Wallace: Thank you for the necklace, I really appreciate your kindness, but, I can’t keep this. It creates too much conflict in my mind, whether I should embrace the reality of “now” and forget what I did in school, or whether this necklace will keep these regrets close to me forever. I’m very sorry that I have to do this, but I’m making sure that this is the last time you ever hear from me. You’re a good person, and I’m certain someone will like you eventually; you’re a multi-billionaire, who wouldn’t want something to do with that? Anyway, best regards, and no matter what happens, take solace in the fact that I can’t speak with you anymore, but I’ll never forget you. How can I?
“She might mean Wallace Trapp, the oil baron…” Veek thought, upon reading this note. However, this wasn’t important now. A tip from Veek’s ally, Radu, had located the Icon, which Angelina, the newest addition to Veek’s “trophy collection” sold off to another buyer. What a pity.
As the sun set, Veek arrived via teleportation in the driveway with murderous intentions, He walked past a pond; ice was beginning to form on the ponds, and a chilly wind began to blow through the bare trees. Veek could hear the family inside the house, it was the day before Thanksgiving, and they were preparing for guests and company.Veek silently stepped towards the house, using his magic to make him as silent as a moth. However, there was one thing that was rather unexpected. There was a dog tied outside, and even though he couldn’t hear Veek coming, he knew by scent that something wasn’t right. “WOOF WOOF WOOF!!!” The dog began barking frantically, far louder and furiously than normal. Just then, the owner of the house, his young daughter and his wife came out of the house with a gun, realizing that the wizards may attack at any time. The father raised the double-barreled shotgun and fired at the faint outline of Veek standing there. It was a direct hit, but it had no effect. Veek took his bladed staff and launched a “Dark Holocaust” spell, this enormous blast of vile energy struck the father in the chest, killing him instantly, as well as the dog. “DADDY!!!!” the little girl yelled, terrified, as her father was broken into pieces by the force of the blast from Veek’s hands. “Get inside, sweetie, get inside!” the mother and the little girl ran into the house in an attempt to call the police, but Veek was right behind them. Kicking the body of the father aside like a soccer ball, Veek stormed into the house and swung the staff with the ferocity of a major-league baseball player swinging a bat. The blade sliced the mother clean in half, blood, guts and internal organs splattered everywhere, all over the walls, carpet and lily plants; they were stained red with guts and blood. However, the main target for Veek was the little girl, only 7 years old. Her mother’s blood was splashed all over her clothes and face, mixed with the tears coming from her terrified eyes and her voice fading from screaming hysterically. Even if the girl survived this, she would have major psychological problems for the rest of her life. However, she would meet her end, just like her brutally murdered family that lay in bloody bits all around her. Veek grabbed the little girl and knocked her unconscious, dragging her out of her own house by her leg. He was taking her to the “toy box,” Veek’s special “magic chamber,” today, that was in the basement of her own home.
Dies Irae
When the little girl awoke, she found herself strapped to an operating table, similar to one found in an execution chamber for lethal injection. She had several needles stuck into her arms with an intravenous sedative of tetradotoxin, keeping her from moving with its paralyzing effects. “Time to do experiments…” Veek hissed. First, he would test this little girl’s resistance to certain potions. She was being used as a test subject for new potions, like a lab rat, a simple test subject for a madman. The first potion, a stinking red slop that would be given orally, was shoved forcefully down her throat, because of the TTX poison, she was completely unable to resist. Immediately, the child began to convulse, her head slamming forcefully into the table, making her head bleed profusely. Blood ran down the sloped table, which was collected in containers for use in Veek’s “Immortality Potion.” “Failed potion. I’ve got the blood I need, so this little whelp is no longer of any use to me. In the meantime, I’ll simply torture her until she dies or I get bored. Whichever comes first, of course! HA!” Veek cackled. He brought a hot iron poker, like the kind one would use to brand cattle with, and jammed it into her vaginal area. Unable to scream because of the tetradotoxin, she couldn’t express the excruciating pain this must have caused. He continued his torture session by pulling the 7-year old’s fingernails out, one by one, placing her little fingers in thumb-screws and crushing them with the terrifying torture device. Only then did Veek really get serious. He placed an upside-down cross, a symbol of Satan, underneath the bloodied, barely-alive girl, and nailed her to the cross, still hooked into the tetradotoxin pump. More and more blood rained down from the girl’s severed arteries and veins, pooling at the base of the cross. Veek, now crazed with sick entertainment, grabbed a spear, similar to the one used by Pontius Pilate to stab Jesus, and plunged it into the little girl’s head, so she could never spread her “heresy” against the Gods; the Draco-Wizard Alliance. Shortly after that, she died on the satanic cross, as Veek kneeled before the bleeding, mangled body, and uttered an ancient poem in Latin.
Dies irae! Dies illa! Solvet saeclum in favilla: Teste David cum Sibillya! Quantus tremor est futurus, Quando iudex est venturus, Cuncta stricte discussurus! Tuba mirum spargens sonum Per sepulchral regionum, Coget omnes ante thronum. Mors stupebit, et natura, Cum resurget creatura, ludicanti responsura. Liber scriptus proferetur In quo totum continetur, Unde mundus iudicetur. Iudex ergo cum sedebit, Quidquid latet, apparebit, Nil intultum remanebit. Quid sum miser tunc dicturus Quem patronum rogaturus Cum vix iustus sit securus? Rex tremendae maiestatis, Qui salvandos salvas gratis Salve me, fons pietatis. Recordare lesu pie, Quod sum causa tuae viae: Ne me perdas illa die. Quaerens me, sedisti lassus: Redimisti Crucem passus: Tantus labor non sit cassus. Luste iudex ultionis Donum fac remissionis Ante diem rationis. Ingemisco, tamquam reus: Culpa rubet vultus meus, Supplicanti parce, Dues. Qui Mariam absolvisti , Et latronem exaudisti, Mihi quoque spem dedisti. Preces meae non sunt dignae: Sed tu bonus fac benigne, ne perenni cremer igne. Inter oves locum praesta, Et ab haedis me sequestra Statuens in parte dextra.Confutatis maledictis, Flammis acribus addictis: Voca me cum benedictis. Oro supplex et acclinis, Cor contritum quasi cinis, gere curam mei finis. Lacrimosa dies illa, qua resurget ex favilla iundicandus homo reus, Huic ergo parce, Deus: Pie lesu Domine, dona eis requiem. Amen.
As soon as Veek uttered the last words of the Poem of Dies Irae, the little girl’s body began to move and shudder. Just then, a ghost appeared in front of Veek: it was the ghost of the little girl, screaming and crying. “It is with divine penance that I judge thee…to flames and ash never-ending!” Veek chanted, asthe crying image of the girl vaporized into a sickly black cloud, and vanished. “So…the power of the Icon really works…when we get all 5…the Day of Reckoning really will come…
He left the girl’s body to rot on the cross, a foreshadowing of what was to come. As Veek searched the ruined, blood-stained house, he found the Icon in a lock box, claiming it was “purchased” at a yard sale. That was two Icons in hand, 3 to go. Veek finished his work by setting the house ablaze, burning the green roof shingles and incinerating the wood construction. Sure enough, the smell of marijuana permeated the area. “Oh, what a pity, he’ll never be able to pay for this loss…” Veek hissed as he ripped the “Private Property” signs down and wrote on them, in the little girl’s blood:
“No family is safe. This is a formal threat from the Draco-Wizard Alliance. We’re watching you.”
Within a few minutes, police were at the burning wreckage of the home, ash flying in the air and the hideously mutilated corpse of the little girl. The police had never seen anything like it. It was probably a result of a wizard attack, but this was even hideous as far as the Draco-Wizard Alliance went, now found to be two separate orders of wizards united, as discovered by Russian President Spitenyev. The little girl looked like a wad of bloody meat than had been put through a grinder. “Who in the name of God are we dealing with here? What is this ‘Wizard Alliance’ bull crap? If you ask me, it’s just a bunch of hooligans that never went to church on Sunday and didn’t learn the basic moral values that every decent person needs. There’s no ‘magic’ involved here! This is just another murder spree, albeit the most elaborate one in history. All I know is that thousands of people are dead worldwide, and it looks like they’re targeting random individuals, from criminals to Christians, and we have yet to catch even one of them! Look at this sign!! It’s written in one of the victims’ blood!! This is more than murder! This is terrorism!!Enough of this whole NORTH AMERICA ‘Paranormal Investigation’ garbage! What we need is the Department of Homeland Security in here to wax the floor with these terrorists and stop this insanity!!” a police officer ranted. “Well, now that attacks have occurred on NORTH AMERICA soil, they’re going to get involved now, for sure.” “You think?! Chairman of Homeland Security Kevin Wilson won’t take this lightly, he’s going to get the National Guard in here and-““And he’s going to make things right. Once the Guard comes in, they won’t come back here.Unless they bring an army, we are safe here.” the cop said. “Now, if what he said is true, and these murderers are targeting and threatening families in the area, then there’s really nothing we can do except put the town of Pine Bush under quarantine, close all the schools, and keep the people inside at night.” “We’ll need authority from the government itself, but this won’t work. People will never agree to such restrictions.” Just then, another convoy of cop cars arrived on the scene of the burnt house, this one slightly smaller. However, it was dealing with a separate case, but the detectives, realizing that this case was related by a piece of evidence that the cops at the break-in and missing person case in Pine Bush at the Trent residence, had arrived to speak with the Chief of Police. “It’s pretty creepy. Tell me what you think of it.” The detective opened the diary of one Angelina Trent, and showed her private thoughts and desires; but the pages of interest to the police were marked via a highlighter. The section was called “Dreams; “it was written four years ago, during Angelina’s college days at Johns Hopkins Medical School, indicating that this diary had been in Trent’s possession for some time. Writing in her diary, Angelina described horrifying nightmares of bloodthirsty beasts and odd strangers coming into her room night after night, she had been to sleep specialists and was diagnosed with a nightmare disorder, but no matter how many medicines she was put on, the nightmares continued to get worse and more frequent until she was paralyzed with fear at even going to sleep. She had drawn pictures of the tormentors, the images of skeletal demons, bleeding corpses and hellish beasts with drooling mouths, but the most interesting one was of a wizard. For many nights, the diary said, this particular nightmare had troubled her, and had even seemed to haunt her during the day, with an image of a “green and silver-robed wizard with an ax-blade staff, a drooping, cone-shaped hat, chalk white skin and dilated eyes constantly stalking my everyday thoughts. An image of him would appear in my consciousness as if a bright picture had been implanted into my mind and random parts of every day. It keeps telling me to “give the Icon away, or I will take it from you.” These visions have become more and more frequent to the point where I am now contemplating suicide. As I sat and analyzed these nightmares, I realized that I may have become schizophrenic. However, the necklace that Wallace gave me at my high school graduation appeared to be the epicenter of the visions, so I sold it to a family that lived a short distance away from here…then, the visions stopped.” The police didn’t need to read any further. The Icon was clearly in this house, and the motive was now clear as a whistle. “May God be with us all…” the cop said.“What do you mean?” the other officer questioned, frantically. “The wizards are looking for the Icons…that’s the whole reason they emerged from China in the first place. Before the wizard attacks, the governments were looking to secure these things…but now the sorcerers appear to have two of them.” “Wait a minute, has that journal been searched completely?” “No sir, but it doesn’t appear to have anything of use to us in it. Besides, it’s impolite to read another person’s private thoughts.” “Wow…rookie cops…” the chief of police sighed. Sheepishly, the “rookie” cop handed the diary to the Chief. The Chief looked through it, until he found a small charm key. “This is interesting; it looks like something that goes to a locket necklace…” “Wait, didn’t the diary say that the Icon was a necklace? This means that…” “Get your guns ready…this guy’s still here.” the police chief said, anticipating the wizard to return to get the key to the necklace, which he must have forgotten to grab. His men took the advice and drew their weapons, peering into the cold, moonless darkness of the late November sky. The brisk wind stung their hands, making it difficult for the cops, both local and State Police Troopers to hold onto their weapons. It was like something out of a horror movie; the anxiety and anticipation was mind-numbing. Suddenly, one of the troopers noticed his police cruiser beginning to shake and wobble in an inexplicable manner. “GUNS READY-AHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!” The trooper screamed as the car flipped over and landed on him, crushing him like an ant. The troopers ducked. “TROOPER DOWN!!!” one of the other cops yelled just as Veek appeared in front of the police blockade. “FIRE!!!” The troopers fired their guns with pinpoint accuracy, but the bullets were harmlessly deflected by a calm raise of Veek’s hand. “My turn…” Veek hissed. He raised the axe-staff high into the air, and swung it around like a baseball bat; one of the police cars went flying backwards into the pond on the property; another flew into a rock wall, exploding into a massive fireball. “FALL BACK!!!” The officers knew that they were hopelessly outgunned by this demonic evil, but they did notice something: The wizard looked exactly like the one drawn in Angelina’s diary. However, the police were more focused on escaping the dark sorcerer’s wrath then identifying its identity. “THIS IS PATROL TO STATE POLICE TROOP F HEADQUARTERS!! WE NEED IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE!!! WE’VE GOT A WIZARD ASSAULT, AND HE’S KILLED A FEW OF MY MEN, AND-AAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!” the trooper screamed as his car was crushed…with him inside it.
Immediately, police helicopters were flying in a huge convoy towards the scene, a message was sent directly to Washington asking the President to activate the New York National Guard, the ANG base at Stewart was on high alert; their C-5 and C-130 transport aircraft were literally waiting for the call to deploy in Pine Bush and the surrounding towns, Circleville and Middletown, to contain the assault. “This is Chopper Alpha Whisky Yankee Charlie to all units. We are en route to Scotchtown, ETA 4 minutes. We have SWAT and sniper support!!” However, on the ground, police reinforcements weren’t doing much good. Veek was simply too powerful. Shotguns, snipers, even rockets from the assembling National Guard units were unable to even dent this one guy. Veek continued to destroy the police cars, houses, cars, buildings and people; he was on an utter rampage. He left a broad swath of destruction in his wake, as he spread darkness across central and northern Orange County, New York. This was clearly out of the police’s league already, but then, panicked calls on the police radios relayed more disparaging news: There were other wizards destroying other areas of Orange County and areas further upstate as well…by unfathomable methods. There were plagues of locusts that arrived out of nowhere, conjured by dark magic, fire raining from the sky, lightning striking buildings, an a burning rain. Schenectady was being sacked by a wizard identified as “Radu,” the site of the Winter Festival for a local university was now a battlefield between National Guard units and Radu’s “phantom soldiers;” these were simply ghosts of Haze Realm soldiers killed in battle over the years of all races, there were hundreds of the greenish-grey shades coming following Radu across the road, killing everyone they could find; the spirits had been summoned from the Haze Realm; the formal complex and various other areas were also battlefields; and the ghost soldiers were just as accurate and powerful as the living ones were, only these had the advantage of not being able to die. The ballroom buildings was ablaze, an inferno littered with hundreds of dead students, staff and National Guard soldiers scattered all over the grounds, with splintered trees and blast craters everywhere. Around one particular area, a young man, a senior there, sobbed over his girlfriend, a girl with long blond hair, cute “squinty” blue eyes, very pale skin and a very pretty red dress, she had been hit by a Mortis Aeternum spell. Radu himself walked over to the young man; the young man was dressed in a suit. The young man looked up at Radu’s eerie, creepy smile and asked…”Why did you do this?” Radu replied: “In the name of the Gods, we are the deliverance of this pathetic world.” He killed him right there.“ This night will live forevermore in the annals of history…it is the path that we choose that sends this generation into oblivion.” Radu hissed before moving on to neighboring cities and towns to continue his pillaging. Further south, Pine Bush itself was ablaze from the sorcerers purposely detonating gas stations. Radu Bering marched into Circleville Elementary School with his wand at the ready and killed 20 children and 6 teachers before leading his ghost army onto the the other schools in the area. Elsewhere, the towns of Chester, Goshen and Middletown were also under siege, by a mysterious sorcerer known as “Mathematician;” responsible for attacks on China’s resorts, he now made his presence known by calling a plague upon Pine Bush as well, standing atop the high school roof. This was more than an isolated murder spree. This was a full-scale terror attack on North American soil, and the first one since 9-11-01. Up and down the East Coast, all commercial airline flights were grounded, the National Guard battalions in 17 states were put on high alert and in New York, garrisons from as far away as Buffalo were rolling down highways, closed and causing the biggest traffic jams in New York’s history.
In Pine Bush and its surrounding towns, it was Hell on earth. The heat and black, belching smoke from the gas stations burning was melting the asphalt on the roads, causing cars to explode as the gas in their tanks exploded, the town was being hit by what could only be described as the Ten Plagues. This was only the beginning, however. When the National Guard tanks showed up, the action really started. As the tanks rolled down Route 302 into the town, all they saw was the orange glow of intense fire; even there they felt the heat coming from the towering inferno. When they actually got a look at the town, they practically had a heart attack. For nearly three miles in all directions it was just a sea of flame, punctuated by explosions from gas tanks and ruptured fuel lines, transformer boxes and gas stations. The flames were so incredible that it was impossible for the 66-ton tanks to get through without catching fire themselves. The other towns were so badly damaged as well that the National Guard had trouble entering them as well, but at least they could actually get into town. “This is it…North America’s never going to be the same…” one of the Guard soldiers said, wiping the sweat from his brow.
No, this can’t be happening…It just can’t be… Wallace shuddered upon seeing the state of Orange County, N.Y, flying into Stewart Airport. He saw hundreds of helicopters, tanks and C-5 planes idling on the tarmac, unloading yet more tanks and trucks. The news reports on every news channel all over the NORTH AMERICA, all over the world,were discussing the “Holocaust on the Hudson,” with fire trucks and vehicles coming from as far away as Vermont to extinguish the flames, which, even now, were only 30% contained. Furthermore, every National Guard battalion on the East Coast was now active, and military curfews were in effect, the first time in history that the President had ever declared martial law. As soon as the private jet came into Stewart airspace, a barrage of radio calls told the plane to “divert to Kennedy,” indicating that all incoming flights landing in the Hudson Valley area were being diverted to Kennedy International Airport. The jet had no choice but comply. As Wallace looked out the window, he saw the eerie orange glow from the fire and the lights from emergency vehicles even from 27,000 feet in the air. Wallace said a quick little prayer for Angelina. There was no way she could have survived such a horror. He pulled the only picture he had of her, her senior class picture from the school yearbook, her cute smiling face and her pearly-white teeth, looked at it, and tried not to look out the window at the fire.
Lord, may you take Angie and keep her safe from harm, and make sure she doesn’t cry, hurt, or shed one more tear, in your holy name I pray, Amen.”
During the Wizard Blitzkrieg, as this attack became known, more than 15,000 perished and 4 towns were completely destroyed. Never before had North America experienced this much bloodshed on its home territory from a foreign source. As Wallace diverted, he had to leave Pine Bush behind…it was no more. Suddenly, the T.V. news screen cut to static; then, a message from an unknown source began broadcasting over the screen in the plane. At first, the pictures showed images of Nazi Germany, with the SS troops marching everywhere and Adolph Hitler screaming into the microphone at a rally in the 1930s. Then, the message began.
Do these images look familiar to you, people of the NORTH AMERICA? They should, as this has been taking place in your country for 40 years. The Republican Party, known to my allies as the North American Nazi Party, has hijacked the NORTH AMERICA economy, government and military to such a degree that North America has truly lost sight of what it was founded on: the principles of Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. During the Great Depression, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt proposed a second Bill of Rights, where all North American citizens would be guaranteed a good education, employment, universal health care, affordable housing and a right to property and peace. Roosevelt died before this plan could be put into effect, sadly, and that was the flaw that sealed the NORTH AMERICA’s decline. Now, look at this awful mess that the North American Nazi Party has placed the North American citizen in. He has no employment guarantee. He has no right to a good education. He has no right to happiness. And now the Republicans are trying to “take North America back.” Little do they know that they’re bringing the “greatest country on Earth” to ruins. And the ones who put these slime-encrusted dung eaters in power? You only need to look in the mirror. Fortunately, there is something you, me, all of us can do. We can speak. We can think. We can empower ourselves to bring down the oppression and have the President bow to the will of his people. Protest tax cuts for the rich. Barricade the doors to the big banks and break into private, seized property and graffiti it. March on Washington, like the great North American leader Martin Luther King Jr. once did. Break windows, start riots, write papers, do ANYTHING YOU CAN THINK OF to rebel against your oppressors; it will all pay off at the ballot box. Take my word seriously, you CAN make a difference. The people of the 13 Colonies did it, so can YOU!!”The broadcast ended then. “What the hell was that about?” the pilot said, bewildered. “It’s a broadcast attempting to subvert the NORTH AMERICA government by encouraging open rebellion!” “I’ll say…” the pilot said. “As a Republican myself, I find this deeply disturbing. This government is run by people who worked hard to make their money and get to where they are today, and whoever this “revolutionary” is, he’s not going to succeed. Not on my watch. That’s treason. This has to be stopped, and quickly. If one man stands up to us, then they all might stand up! This is no longer about politics. It’s about maintaining order at all costs. Otherwise, North America is doomed to fall to wizards or communists or…well, not democracy, which is certain.” “You do realize, however, that at this point, a vote of impeachment is inevitable. With that message, which is clearly directed at Democrats and the younger generation, the people will start to see the perceived flaws of this government and begin to speak out more and more, until a tidal wave of resistance occurs, beyond what the government can control democratically. Either way, this revolutionary wins. Either he succeeds through violence, or an election. There is no way to stop him at this point. If you truly believe in democracy, then you must accept that.” “No. I don’t, and I refuse to allow some liberal, revolutionary jackass steal North America from me and all the other conservatives. We deserve a voice. They don’t. That is the new law.” “But sir, that’s Fascism, not democracy. By saying that, you sound just like the revolutionary.” “Sometimes, in the name of national security and stability, we must make sacrifices. Right now, we’re at war and have just been attacked on our home soil! I’d say we need security and stability more than anything else at this moment. The world is literally going to Hell!!” Just then, the news bulletin came on again. “VOTE OF IMPEACHMENT FOR PRESIDENT ROSS IMMINENT, BROADCAST TRIGGERS BEDLAM ACROSS NORTH AMERICA.” “It’s already happening…” Wallace gasped as he looked at people rebelling, breaking windows to government buildings, killing police officers, shooting and trashing private property, and in other words being completely unruly. The Second North American Revolution had begun.According to the broadcast, there were three candidates to replace Ross:
Senator James Schooner of Massachusetts-Democrat
Senator Robert Potts of California-Democrat
Senator Calvin Garvey of Michigan-Democrat
It now appeared that the GOP was an endangered group; the biggest political shift in North American history was about to take place. The way the Republicans had handled the wizard assault was pathetic and ineffectual, and North Americans were dying in droves. However, even as the impeachment trial was conducted, the people, the average, North American workers, had other ideas.
“Workers, arm yourselves, take your guns! Take your blades, take whatever weapons you have! All of you are people! Not slaves! We’ll fight unto our graves!!!” the young woman yelled. She wasn’t exactly your everyday revolutionary. She never had the slightest inkling of revolutionary blood in her, until now. She was of BeloRussian descent, her black hair, blue coat over a black dress and fur scarf, along with a fuzzy Russian winter cap, as well as her pretty green eyes made her look harmless enough, but anyone who would make these judgments was very wrong indeed. She was not a sorcerer but had ties to the Draco-Wizard Alliance through diplomatic relations with Lord High Wizard Santiago Española. Her name was Genevieve Mulsky; she was particularly headstrong, but had no respect for those she considered inferior and often used her charms for her own personal gain or entertainment. She was an absolute terror in high school and college. However, she believed that this new Revolution would bring about a new era in North American history, and she’d be the one to lead the charge. This was only possible because of a chance encounter with Santiago, the Master of Surprise, on the corner of Main and Peachtree Streets one day in the suburbs of Atlanta, Georgia. She was walking home from her school drama department meeting, when she ran into Santiago as he suddenly stepped out from behind a massive cottonwood tree. He convinced Genevieve, an ambitious young woman, “everything she could ever want, need or desire.” Ever shortsighted, she took Santiago up on the offer and shook his hand on the deal that she and he would work together to bring peace to the world. When she won the Leader of Tomorrow Award from her high school and got admitted to Yale for global political studies, no one expected that it would come to this. Now, 5 years later, the final phase of the Revolution was about to begin. A huge crowd of protestors was about to march on Washington D.C., just as the speaker told to do; the crowd assembled in the same spot as Martin Luther King’s crowd had done many years ago. As more than a million dissidents looked on, waving huge flags, as well as Genevieve’s personal flag, a red heart design with angel wings on the sides of it on an emerald-green background, she took the podium, under heavy scrutiny from the NORTH AMERICA government, which now had tanks out in force, helicopters and National Guard to make sure the protestors didn’t attack. It was Christmas Day, and the Washington D.C. Christmas Tree was lit in the frosty air. As millions of children opened their presents, the news cameras were fixated on the massive rally, more reminiscent of a Nazi or Soviet rally than an North American political demonstration, especially when Genevieve began speaking. As she spoke, her voice rose at critical points in her speech, the speech was also punctuated by her flailing her arms violently in the air. She was speaking about “how the NORTH AMERICA government has failed us, and how the Republicans had trashed the country for too long.” However, the shock came at the end of her speech: “WORKERS OF THE WORLD UNITE!!!”
That was the signal. Concealed Javelin missile troops opened fire on the tanks and launched missiles at the air support, the rockets streaking away into the winter sky, bringing the helicopters down in spiraling fireballs. The massive, million-strong crowd stormed up to the Capitol Building, the Marines couldn’t keep these people, blind with rage, from marching up Capitol Hill, despite their best efforts; there were just too many people. The Guard tanks were smashed by the Javelin missile troops, as the protestors stormed in during the impeachment trials! They went absolutely ballistic, killing every member of Congress and the Senate, including President Ross and the entire Cabinet of Republican goons and the NORTH AMERICA Supreme Court. The NORTH AMERICA was now effectively dead. However, the assault didn’t stop there. The protestors, grabbing any weapons they could find, hijacked tanks, raided armories and burned every monument to democracy in Washington. The Monument was toppled by a tank shell in a massive, crumbling explosion. The WWII Memorial, Vietnam Memorial, and the Arlington National Cemetery were sacked and burned. The uprising soon went into action in Virginia and Maryland as well, with the Pentagon, Annapolis and many other government institutions destroyed. After just 6 hours, it was all over. Washington was destroyed and burning, the cherry trees splintered, the National Museum obliterated. On the ruins of the White House, the Stars and Stripes were lowered, and the Hammer and Sickle was raised, its crimson banner fluttering in the backdrop of the burning city. The crowd of Reds roared in approval, and then began to sing: “The Internationale unites the human race!!” In an event that no one ever thought possible, not in an infinite amount of years, North America, the Land of the Free and Home of the Brave, had become a communist state. By no means, however, was it over. Even though the NORTH AMERICA capital territory and a small part of New York State were under Communist control, the rest of the country was still the NORTH AMERICA. However, without a central governing force and hundreds of thousands of people joining the newly-created North American Red Army to fight, as well as reinforcements from Europe, it was only a matter of time until all of North America fell to the Red Star. Using the weapons they had, the new Red Empire began marching. Newspapers all over the world reported the stunning “Christmas Revolution.”
2 weeks later
January 8 marked a new beginning for North America. Now called the SMSN, it was a vast Communist empire that stretched from sea to shining sea. The economy was now rapidly growing, after centralizing the economy and nationalizing the big banks, the SMSN was growing at a rate comparable to China. The new North American People’s Army, otherwise known as the Red Force, had brand-new uniforms, red and black with standard dress caps for men and berets for women, along with black capes to be worn at formal events, and a new, standard-issue assault rifle, the AM-36, which combined all the durability and power of the AK-47 and the advanced technology of the SCAR-H, being produced before the communist takeover. The colors were so gaudy because the SMSN soldiers were trained to fear nothing and wanted to inspire fear in their enemies. The other branches of the military, the Navy and Air Force, were the largest in the world. The last of the die-hard NORTH AMERICA patriots had been suppressed, and now the SMSN governed the former 50 States as Provinces, with an individual council of ministers running the province, similar to the concept of the “soviet” in Russia, which had the exact same concept. With a Chinese-style “socialist market” and booming economic power pulling more than 30 million people out of poverty, support for the communist government was at an all-time high, no President under the former NORTH AMERICA government had such high approval ratings, ever. People in the SMSN now looked at the former NORTH AMERICA as a sad joke compared to the new government. There were more restrictions, however, such as the complete ban on social networking sites, banning of public prayer; dissolution of frivolous sporting enterprises, such as baseball, car racing and football, instead, huge “scholar temples” were built at every university and high school in North America. Most churches in North America were being torn down or converted to other, more practical things, such as schools, stores and restaurants, and the censorship of publications deemed unsuitable for the Communist government. Still, economic prosperity trumped all that. North America’s standard of living increased dramatically, with more people entering the workforce on a daily basis, the standard of living was approaching $100,000 per capita, surpassing all other countries except United Korea; it appears that Marx’s vision of a great, industrialized utopia was rapidly becoming a reality. Most people were happy, the government was strong, and the government made sure that all citizens, every last man, woman and child, had the right to a good education, money, peace, health care, proper compensation when citizens were out of a job, and prosperity. Most people were content with this; who wouldn’t want these things? The North American People’s Party, the only legal party in North America now, had its “winged heart” flag along with the hammer and sickle flying over Genevieve City, formerly called Washington D.C. On the ruins of the White House, a Red Palace of Glory, as a residence for Genevieve and her Council of Ministers, was under construction. The SMSN was rapidly “Russifying,” so to speak, as Mulsky was indeed from the former Soviet republic of Belarus, a huge statue of Alexander Nevsky, the fabled Hero of Russia, in Genevieve City; many of the new buildings were vaguely similar to Russian architecture; “Genevievean” architecture quickly became the norm. The North American People’s Army marched to a song called “Genevieve City March,” as well as the new anthem, “Eternal Red Stars. ”However, even amongst this power and prosperity, the new government made the rules very clear. People who were caught practicing religion were shot on sight, by the ever present soldier guards. Various broadcasts depicted over national circuitry depicted soldiers from the former United States servicemen as “incompetent slaves to a failed democracy who couldn’t get a job anywhere else, and that even a crippled rat could do more than they could to prevent Communism’s triumph.” The official doctrine of the SMSN regarding the former NORTH AMERICA Armed Forces was that the soldiers were “prostituting” themselves to an ideal that not only didn’t suit everyone, but not everyone wanted it. “There comes a time when all men are tired of liberty and need direction.” read a line in the Red Bible, a purposeful assault on Christian values by the Communist government. The Red Bible was a copy of the actual Bible, just every lesson in it had been altered to appeal to the Marxist regime. Every single chapter, from Genesis to Revelations, now had strong Marxist overtones. In total, it was a powerful, prosperous, but very brutal regime. Massive corporations were nationalized and the most talented individuals from the most critical industries essentially enslaved by the government, their personal property now belonged to the state and they were forced to work as CEOs of huge, government-run corporate trusts, like the North American Aerospace Guild, a state-run merger of the largest aircraft companies in North America, and the Med-Tech Healthcare Union, made up of every private healthcare, pharmacy and health insurance agency in the country. However, even though the rich were miserable and the poor rejoiced, the government was rather indifferent. As long as the collective was maintained, things were OK.
In the heat of the Haze Realm tropics, Sam and Constantine continued their search for any signs of civilization, all the while trying to avoid the creepy Kokki soldiers. It was beginning to get dark, as the cicadas were starting to quiet down and the enormous flightless owls that prowled these woodlands, called Spook Owls, were starting to call, their eerie screeching and hooting echoed through the dense woodlands. Large birds were quite common in these woods, the most dangerous animal that Sam and Constantine might meet would be the Black Mammoth-Bird, a 1,500-lb cassowary-like bird with enormous sickle-like talons, and these travelled in flocks like turkeys but were as dangerous as hippos or rhinos in the human realm. There were also insects and spiders that could give a nasty sting or bite. It was a tropical rain forest, and as such, it was teeming with life; the forest floor was full of invertebrates and small mammals, frogs and reptiles. The rivers were filled with turtles, enormous, 1,000-pound catfish, 500-lb lungfish that grew to over 13 feet long and countless other species, and hundreds upon hundreds of plant species. As Sam and Konstantin strolled through the forest game trails, they heard the rustling of small creatures, the songs of cicadas, and smelled the dulcet aroma of wild orchids. It was like something out of Eden, where there wasn’t a soul for miles around and nothing to disturb the peace. However, the nightmarish Kokki soldiers and the Scion spirits were proof that this was no Eden. There was no such thing as Paradise, Heaven and Hell, as the Haze Realm showed. There was only this alternate world where all spirits, both angelic and demonic dwelled, along with the souls of the dead. Somewhere, however, was the secret to bringing something back to life, and Sam needed to find this, if she was to live happily with Constantine. Suddenly, the sound of voices and footsteps were approaching. Sam drew her sword and held it at the ready, expecting a Kokki patrol, but instead, they laid eyes on a very interesting company of soldiers, they were clearly not Kokki. There were 12 of them, each holding a large tower shield, similar to a Roman one, and they all had swords and scimitars in their scabbards. They were dressed in white uniforms, similar to those of a Russian Orthodox priest robes. They had blonde, almost white hair and blue eyes. Just then, they spotted Sam and Constantine. “You there! Why are you here?! This is trespass on holy ground, punishable by execution!!” Sam stepped out from behind Konstantin; upon seeing her red dress and sword, their reaction was immediate. The white-robed soldiers dropped their shields and swords and kneeled before Sam and Constantine. “The Red Woman, the Heroine of Spirits, has returned to lead us!!” “Wait, what??” Sam snapped, confused. “You don’t know who you are, do you?” the soldier said, incredulously. “Wait, what the hell is going on here? You stay away from-“WHOOOSH!! OOF!!” The white-robed soldier launched a massive blast of wind from his hands, knocking Constantine backwards into a tree. “Try to interfere with the Red Woman’s job again, and I’ll cleave you limb from limb!” Constantine, as much as it angered him, had no choice but to comply. “Wait, who exactly are you?” “We are the Xaati, our culture is extinct in the human realm, and we currently fight the Kokki in a war for supremacy over the vast nation we live in. That is why you are so important to us. After all, your previous form destroyed the Dragon Mages, if only temporarily. Does this tapestry look familiar to you?” The Xaati soldier showed Sam the very same tapestry that was hanging on her wall in New York. “Wow…that tapestry is in my house…” “Yes, and the Red Woman you see there is you, just in a previous lifetime. “Ok, this is freaking me out.” “This is the truth. Around the end of the last Ice Age, we built an Empire that covered the territory that the former Russian Empire covered; our capital city was where St. Petersburg now stands. We had vast, peaceful cities, magnificent architecture, and a powerful Army. Our main bases were in what is now Scandinavia, and we stood as the first civilization to ever exist. However, the nomadic Dragon Mages, in competition with us for supremacy of magic, attacked our Empire with a massive army, despite our power over nature and the ability to use it as a weapon, the Dragon Mages were too tough…until the Red Woman came, led our troops to what is now Kiev, Ukraine, and fought the bloodiest battle in human history, it’s a shame it’s been totally forgotten. We defeated the Dragon Mages, but 3 years later, the Dragon Mages returned and overwhelmed us. Now, we only exist in the Haze Realm. However, there is one way to bring us back, the true rulers of the “Russian Federation and its former satellite territories.” Our Xaati Empire will rise again, and bring peace to the world!” “Well, you’re in luck, as I was looking for that bit of info too, so I can help you, if you help me.” “What would you have us do?” “First of all, tell me where I can find the scroll that allows me to resurrect deceased spirits, and I’ll resurrect your entire civilization. You will one day rule your Empire again, especially with your sorcery powers. I can assure you of that. Now, what do you say we get moving?” Sam asked. “As long as I can bring Constantine with me, I’ll be fine.” “Oh, you mean that moron?” the Xaati soldier sneered, lifting his shield in annoyance. “Yes, that “moron” is my future husband, he has a name, and I’d like you to be a little more respectful of him.” Sam admonished. Constantine stood up and shouldered his sniper rifle. “Ok, whatever you say…” the Xaati soldier groaned in bitter compliance. “We will take you to the nearest town, there, we will give you a special treasure, one that the belonged to the previous Heroine of Spirits.” “Good. Let’s get moving before it gets any darker and the Spook Owls find us.” The Xaati soldiers slashed a path through the dense forest as easily as a lawn mower could cut; they were slashing through the woods so fast that they appeared to be spinning like a tornado. Just then, they reached the main path again, with a sign that said: SOLEMN TOWN-1 MILE. “Why does everything here sound so sad?” Sam complained. “News flash-Everyone here is dead or a spirit. Does that answer your question?” Constantine interjected. “Oh, yeah…right.” Sam announced with her high-pitched “cute” voice, Lucian was always loathe to that, but Constantine liked it. “Solemn Town is the home of the Great Tower of Lost Souls, where those spirits who were destroyed in the Haze Realm are honored and remembered. Spirits live forever, but we are not immortal. We can still be removed from the Haze Realm by the same methods that can kill a living being.” “So it’s death for the dead…” “Yes, in a manner of speaking.” The soldier announced, gruffly. Suddenly, Sam heard something. It sounded like wailing human voices. “I know what that is…we must move quickly, we don’t want to anger the Lovelorn Bird. The Lovelorn Bird is a high-level Gaia-Kami that lives in this area; most of the time it takes the form of a giant, extremely elaborately-plumed ostrich with the tail of a peacock, a huge crest on its head reminiscent of a Royal Flycatcher and bird-of-paradise plumage, along with a long, sickle-bill. It can also take the form of an old woman or a gorgeous young maiden, depending on its mood or intentions. Right now, I’d gauge that it’s in its “Beautiful Maiden” form, given that it always claims to be waiting for a lost love, crying eerily, and when a young man walks toward it, the “maiden” draws the man to it, and its embrace steals and swallows him, absorbing the energy into its own body. It is a predator.” “So it eats men?” “In a manner of speaking.” The soldier repeated himself endlessly. “Will you stop saying that?!” Sam whined. “What’s wrong with that? It’s my catchphrase, if you will.” “Whatever…” Sam shrugged. The eerie sobbing was getting louder. “I think we should go, the Lovelorn Bird appears to be following us!” “What?! It never does that!!” one of the other soldiers yelled as the bird suddenly appeared, in its 15-foot tall elegant form with its fan-tail open like a turkey, and its feathers were rustling angrily. The crest on its head was displaying a threat posture and the Gaia-Kami began its headlong charge, directly at the group. “Stand back!!” Sam yelled as she jumped directly in front of the charging bird, holding her sword out in front of her. The bird appeared to be about to run her down, when suddenly, it stopped directly in front of her. “Why do you stand in my way?!” a disembodied, angry female voice yelled; the Gaia-Kami was speaking telepathically. “We don’t want to hurt you! We need direction to Solemn Town!!” “SOLEMN TOWN IS OFF LIMITS TO HUMANS!!!”“We need to get there regardless! If the Icons are all found, your world, as well as ours, will be destroyed.” “You know of the Sacred Icons?” the bird squawked, its tone lessening. “Yes. One, if not more, has been found by men of great evil, and they will continue to pillage and plunder our world until there’s nothing left.” “If that is the case, you are granted permission to pass. The Haze Realm cannot survive without the human realm, or vice versa. Apparently, “evils” you speak of are the Tempelritters and the Dragon Mages…yes, I was quite surprised as well, given the fact that they hadn’t attacked the human world in more than 300 years, in the year 1663. The wizards attacking the human realm now had infiltrated your world more than 20 years ago, and started a war that continues on and off to this day, when the sorcerers look to finalize their plan, but I assume you already know this. The Mages haven’t concocted anything even remotely as grand a scheme as this, however, not in their entire history. Taking the Icons from the Temples in the Haze Realm is a cardinal sin; apparently, the sorcerers have lost all sense of morality.” Sam listened to this information, and asked only one question: “Who stopped them last time they attacked, anyway?” “A Red Woman, like yourself. Ekaterina Yuschenkova, a Russian aristocrat and a member of the Czar’s court, sensed a great evil about to creep from the blackness; she didn’t know what it was, but she had this overwhelming feeling of a haunting presence. The four greatest military powers at the time, PRussia, Britain, the Swedish Empire and Poland-Lithuania, were powerless to do anything should the evil rise; and somehow, Ekaterina knew that. That’s when the “Despair from the Damned” appeared. It appeared out of an ancient cemetery in Yekaterinburg, Russia, as a massive, moaning, animated black fog, sometimes taking the actual, tangible shape of a demon, other times it simply appeared as a mass of damned, moaning souls from the blackness itself. It enveloped town after town, raising the souls of the dead into an invincible army of angry spirits, which would be commanded by the sorcerers from the Haze Realm itself. However, Ekaterina took the Silver Sword, and slew the angry fog before it could actually attack; therefore ending a horror that would have been far worse than what is occurring now before it even got started. The lesson in this is that a person realizes that they have to do something long before they actually do it. Proactively, you must understand the interconnections that the Haze and Human worlds have, and use that for your advantage. Now, you must go, before I eat one of those men in your group…” Sam, Constantine and the rest of the Xaati troops were sent on their way, until they saw, towering over the trees, a beautiful, but somber memorial tower. Just then, however, an old witch, with a very wrinkled, squinty face, a huge nose and a pole-like, 7-foot tall frame zoomed out in front of them with blistering speed, she was riding a broomstick that suddenly came to a stop; it was amazing that she wasn’t thrown forward into the trees by the principles of Newton’s First Law. “Why are you here, human?! This place is off limits to your kind!” the witch cackled. Suddenly, a huge blast of water struck the old witch in the face. “What was that?!” “Melt, witch, melt!!!” Constantine said, hoping a bucket of water taken from the stream near his feet would somehow liquidate the old crone standing in front of them. “Some witches are hydrophobic. They can’t get wet, or else they’ll melt. Some of the Tempelritters are, but…this one isn’t.” The witch ignored Constantine, seriously considering hitting him with a hex. “Are you allied with the Draco-Wizard Alliance or the Ascendancy?” Sam asked. “Neither. I am only the keeper of the tower. My name is Agatha Wolzehogen, although I do use magic, it’s never for combat. Magic isn’t about fighting; it’s about peace and caring; though I am surprised you made it past the Lovelorn Bird.” “Just barely.” the Xaati soldier announced. “Well, let me tell you a little about this town before you go in. There are a few rules. One, you must take your shoes off before entering the Tower, as it is sacred ground. Two, be sure to obey all posted signs, and lastly, do not anger the spirits by playing stupid practical jokes. We’ve had a gang of hooligans running around, desecrating tombs, temples and headstones, and it’s quite heartbreaking. Maybe it’s the tropical heat, or the bright, tropical beaches nearby, but for some reason, youth tend to go ballistic in this town. In case you need a place to stay, there’s a hotel on the hill. And keep an eye on that one, he’s bad news…” Agatha said, pointing her scraggly finger at Constantine. Constantine seriously considered shooting at Agatha with his sniper rifle, but wisely controlled himself. She then touched the map that Sam was carrying, and activated it. Just then the entire Haze Realm was illuminated, and there were multiple kingdoms. The Kokki Empire, the Empire of Dignity, was the largest, the size of the human-realm Mongol Empire was, and it was a land blessed by grassy fields, forests, rivers, lakes and peace. The Kokki Legions were vastly powerful, even though they looked horrifying, they were very honorable. However, there was also the Dark Kingdom of Lyceum, which occupied the Necro Wastes; this was the domain of the dark wizards, the one that was currently ravaging the human realm. Also, there was the Kingdom of Silpheed, the sacred dominion of Love, the Kingdom of Otus, Land of Wise, the Empire of Regret, the Land of the Sad Ones and the second largest kingdom after the Kokki, and lastly, the Kingdom of Aquila, home to the Envious. These were the main kingdoms, but there was plenty of outlying territory as well, this was home to wanderers and many smaller principalities and vassal states. However, the Haze Realm too was fighting against the Dark Kingdom as well; the sorcerers had launched a war on two fronts, in both the Haze Realm and the human realm. It was apparent that the Haze Realm war was a lot tougher for the wizards to win than the human realm, however, if the Icons were assembled, it wouldn’t matter. The worlds would blend together and the balance would be toppled. As of now, one of the smaller, but very influential kingdoms, the Kingdom of Interra, was fighting the Dark Kingdom forces in one of the Outlands. What was interesting was that this map updated itself with every event that took place here. “Thank you, Agatha.” Sam and her group said. “You’re very welcome.” Agatha said; as the group passed by, Agatha glared at Constantine. As they walked into town, all was quiet. It was a medieval-style town, with wooden buildings, people marketing and selling their wares, and homes, but the one thing that, more than all else, was the utter silence of the place. Except for an occasional bird call or horse whinny, there was little to suggest that there were even people living here at all. The reason for the silence was clear upon closer inspection of the homes, they were all praying to some deity. In each house, there was a picture of a huge, two-headed, brown-feathered stork-like bird, with its beaks open to screech in a manner similar to the Russian Eagle flag. “Must be another Gaia-Kami…” Sam thought as she walked past the houses and towards the looming tower about 300 meters in front of them. It had a strange, carved demon head on the roof and was made of stone; there were audible chants and prayers coming from inside the tower. Also, the hotel, called the Last Stand Inn, was on the hill above the city, behind the tower. Solemn Town was indeed, quite solemn. Most of the inhabitants were in their houses, doing who knows what, when a huge bell rang ominously, in the tower’s belfry. “Prayer time is over. All may return to their daily duties.” Soon, the doors to the houses opened and the rather elaborately-dressed people stepped out of their houses; for a place called Solemn Town, the inhabitants were quite gaudy. They all wore different variants of the same outfit, just different colors and patterns; it was a uniform and cloak, and a group of people were walking up to the Solemn Town tower in a hurry to see something. It was rather bizarre, as there were many people chanting in an ancient language to something, apparently an inhabitant of the Kingdom of Silpheed. “I heard she’s gorgeous!” one of the men said, running over to the base of the tower. Curious as to who was “gorgeous” enough to make such a stir in an otherwise sleepy town, Sam and the Xaati soldiers ran over to the crowd and saw a young man walk over and elegantly kiss this woman’s beautiful hands. She was wearing a brilliant black dress with a huge red heart on the front of it. It had a kanji symbol for “Love” in the center of the heart. She was also wearing black gloves and matching stockings, but no shoes and was smiling and giggling cutely. She had a beautiful figure and light brown hair, with pretty blue eyes and pale skin. She had a cute black headband. “Yup, she’s definitely from Silpheed…the Love Kingdom’s inhabitants are truly beautiful, especially the girls.” one of the townspeople said. “Well, I’m going to go back into the tower now, thanks for making me feel better.” the girl cooed, quietly as she stepped back into the tower entrance, there was a sign that said “PLEASE REMOVE SHOES BEFORE ENTERING SANCTUARY.” The crowd began to scatter and return to their everyday activities of selling wares and engaging in all manner of commerce and trade, however, Sam and the Xaati soldiers were standing in the town square like deer in the headlights. Just then, people began to notice them, and Sam’s red outfit. “It’s the Red Woman!!” most of the townspeople shouted, running over to Sam and her troops as if it was the Silpheed resident all over again. “Have you come here to save us from the Kingdom of Lyceum and the Sorcerers?!” “Yes, something like that…” Sam groaned, rather annoyed at all the attention she was getting from total strangers. “Who was that woman in that tower?” “Oh, that’s Jessica Posen, ambassador of the Kingdom of Silpheed.” “I’d like to speak with her about something.” “Well, you can go in there, but I don’t think you should bother her right now, she’s just suffered a terrible loss.” “Wow…I didn’t know love spirits could get sad.” “She’s paying respect to her lost companion. The companion was an ancient creature known as a hobgoblin, or a spirit of nature. There are more than 500 different known varieties, all subservient to the Gaia-Kami, or the gods of the Haze Realm. The hobgoblins are basically the enforcers of the Gaia-Kami will. However, the only things that can control the Gaia-Kami are the 5 Sacred Icons, if these are assembled, whoever controls them will be able to lead the Haze Realm into the human realm, therefore destroying the balance and creating chaos.” “Oh…that’s not what I heard…the Guardians of Knowledge said it would kill the Dark Kingdom’s wizards…” “Well, they don’t know everything. There’s a difference between knowledge and wisdom.” “Oh…ok.” Sam groaned, getting a little sick of the mysticism of the Haze Realm culture. She and her troops walked into the temple, removing their shoes. They saw Jessica kneeling in front of a golden shrine; the shrine was shaped like large, snake-like ferret. “Excuse me?” Jessica asked, looking behind her. “Yes. May I ask you something about this realm?” “Y-You-““Yes, I know who I am. Where is the Kingdom of Silpheed?” Sam asked, curiously. “Well, I can take you there if you want. However, the transport that’ll take me back there won’t come until tonight. Therefore, you can come to the festival!!! YAYYYYYY!!!” “Wow…for someone that suffered such a huge loss, you sure seem happy.” “Well, the hobgoblin that kept me company for many years simply transformed into the very fabric of the Haze Realm. We need to be happy for it, as it fulfilled its purpose to me. Now, I need to get ready for the parade. Bye!” Jessica squealed, happily. “Wow…pathetic.” one of Sam’s Xaati troops said, resting his tower shield on the ground, groaning. “I thought she was kind of inspiring. Seeing someone so happy in the face of loss, I wished that I was that resilient. Are there any other hobgoblin tamers?” Sam asked. “Yes, there are many that devote their lives to taming them in an effort to bring them closer to the natural world, all 500 known types are as diverse as the people who tame them. However, not all tamers are good. There’s a very brutal duo of wizards, Tempelritters, which train some of the most brutal types, such as the Mind class. Their names are Ludwig Eisenheim and Irkaya Mortusov, and they are close allies with the Tempelritter High Wizards, Daisuke, Lily, Oliver and Guggenberger. Sam sighed as Constantine walked up behind her. The two of the kissed and walked back towards the center of town. “So, what’s this festival about, anyway?” “It’s to celebrate the arrival of the Star Stork, that bird you see embroidered onto the tapestries hanging in the homes and shops of this town. The Star Stork only arrives at the start of Harvest, which is in a few hours; its arrival marks the start of the dry season; we harvest our crops at the start of the dry season and plant them at the end of it. The great bird is a Gaia-Kami, as well. Well, we’d better get ready for the festival. I assure you, it’s going to be amazing!” Jessica exclaimed joyfully. Sam decided to sit and wait for the parade to start; however, as she did so, she spotted a creepy, cloaked figure walking around near the Solemn Town Memorial Tower. He wasn’t wielding a wand or staff, but he looked suspicious enough. However, she tried to convince herself that it was nothing. She couldn’t help but accept the inevitable, however. That man, she had a gut feeling that he was a Draco-Wizard soldier. She hoped that she was wrong.
Just as the sun began to set, a massive, orange ball in the sky, and the looming Harvest Moon began to rise in the sky, the parade began. It was truly amazing, the floats were astoundingly astounding, one looked like a huge bird, to celebrate the coming of the Gaia-Kami, with people on top of it, swirling stone bolas around with ease as tricks. Another float looked like a giant centipede, held up by people inside it, dancing around like a Chinese dragon. There were hundreds of costumed dancers, each one wearing an extremely elaborate costume; some were so intricate that they were hardly recognizable as people; especially the guy with the golden bird-face mask, quetzal feathered headdress, and Aztec-robe and the girl with an orange and black robe, a mask, a huge headdress, cape and ridiculously tall shoes. However, the best was yet to come. A massive float, carrying more than 50 people, all in costumes so elaborate that their entire bodies were covered, stopped in front of the main crowd. The dancers on the top of the float formed a circle and bowed to one another, before beginning a dance in a circle; slow at first, but then faster and faster until it had broken into a frenetic flail. Just then, however, they bowed as the stage lights focused in the center of the circle, and a shadow appeared on a lift in the center of the circle of costumed performers. The shadow stood up, and the lights focused on it. It was a woman, with chalk-white face paint and a black dress with a white hat; she had a real sword, as well. The woman walked around on top of the float, seeming to oppress the kneeling dancers, until a man, dressed in the orange robes of the Sun of Spring, as opposed to the cold colors of Winter, approached with a group of his soldiers as well, they were all carrying swords, as were the winter’s guards, the other costumed performers. Upon spotting each other, they began clashing swords in a gladiatorial match on the roof of the float, along with all the other performers fighting and dancing in flashing lights; they were using real swords, like a gladiator battle. Eventually, the spring, the man in the orange robe, knocked the winter, the woman in the black and white outfit, onto the ground. Her troops surrendered, and the spotlight went to the Summer. The character representing the Summer was dressed in a green uniform and cape, in the green of the sweet, summer fields. Summer charged at Spring, and once again, a vicious sword battle took place, in which Spring collapsed, and seemed to vanish in a clout of green glitter. Then, the King of Autumn Leaves, carrying a staff appeared on the top of the float, with trumpets sounding his arrival. This was the finale. “He’s a real wizard and a supremely powerful one too. Don’t worry, he’s not evil.” A spectator whispered in Sam’s ear as she watched the act. The King of Autumn Leaves, waving his hand in the air, summoned a cool, autumn wind and sent a storm of leaves at the Summer. He fell to the ground, and the King of Autumn Leaves fired a huge volley of fireworks into the sky, but these were no ordinary fireworks. They seemed to be alive; once they exploded, they animated themselves and took the forms of screaming dragons, glorious birds and even a flurry of butterflies. These fireworks danced across the sky as the crowd cheered. “She will return!!” the King yelled, as the orchestra, which had been playing dramatic battle music throughout the entire performance, stopped, and the performance ended. The crowd roared in applause; Sam and Constantine both clapped. Next came a group of monks wearing white robes…hundreds of them, with a very handsome young man, dressed in an elaborate, regal costume, However, Sam, upon seeing the young man, sensed something “wrong,” she, for some reason, believed that there was something bad about to happen. It was one of those gut instincts, as one may call it. These suspicions were confirmed when the regal young man pulled out a wand from his pocket. “HE’S A WIZARD!!!” Sam shrieked. That was it. The “monks” and the young man were Draco-Wizard Alliance troops, and they began to massacre Solemn Town. People began to scream and stampede through the streets, knocking the floats and starting fires as the wizards kept hitting them with Kill Rays, Hundreds were being cut down, and the city was burning; as shops caught fire, the town became an inferno. Destroyed individuals lay everywhere, as dead people couldn’t die again in the Haze Realm; the bodies were just reduced to dust, lay even children weren’t spared. Eventually, a White Wizard, the Guardian of Solemn Town Tower, herded people into the tower’s sanctuary. As the dark wizards approached him, he stood calmly in the huge gate entrance to the Tower and merely said: “This tower is a sanctuary. You have no power in here. Go away.” He was a truly regal man, with a pontiff hat, with the Orthodox double-cross on it, a white robe and a huge, golden staff, again with the Orthodox Cross on it. He was also an extremely powerful White Wizard, and a member of the Ascendancy. However, the Tempelritters and Dragon Mages of the Draco-Wizard Alliance wouldn’t take no for an answer. They attempted to fight their way into the tower anyway. That’s when things became, in one word, incredible. The White Wizard twirled his scepter, slammed it into the ground, unleashing a massive wave pulse that cracked the ground as it plowed directly towards the dark wizards, knocking them over like bowling pins. After that, he did something even more amazing. He began to convulse, and then became enveloped in a blinding white light, blinding the surviving dark wizards, after the white light dissipated, what stood in front of the dark wizards was a gigantic “Flying Festoon,” better known as the Star Stork. It was a gigantic, 40 foot tall, twin-headed stork-like bird, except without long legs. The bird was brilliant white, gleaming in the moonlight of the night. The bird had six silver glowing eyes on each head, and upon seeing the Draco-Wizard troops cowering and running away, the Star Stork let out a whistling, singing battle cry. It opened its 50-foot wingspan, and, with a massive flap, it knocked over some of the burned-out buildings from the wind generated by the flap of the bird’s mighty wings. The Star Stork screamed and zoomed towards the fleeing wizards with the speed of a missile, the slipstream from its sky attack knocking already damaged buildings flat. When it caught up to the wizards, its two heads opened their enormous bills and launched massive blasts of energy at the wizards, their dark energy powerless to prevent their demise. They were immediately obliterated by the incinerating breath of the Star Stork, and the ground was so scorched that it had been reduced to glass where it hit. The giant bird, like a massive god, flew high into the night sky over the burning town after performing an aerial back flip and shooting vertically into the sky like a rocket. As it hovered of the city, a group of sparkling stars surrounded it. The bird let out a massive squawk, and the stars scattered in all directions, exploding in fireworks, just as they normally would. As terrified survivors watched the majestic spectacle, it was bittersweet. Most of the city and the residential district were spared, but the festival was ruined, and hundreds were destroyed, reduced to ashes. In response to this horror, all Constantine said was: “That was invigorating, to say the least!” “You said it…” Sam responded. “I think it’s time we leave this town and continue looking for a way to revive you and the Xaati, all we need is transport to the Kingdom of Silpheed…”
Barbarossa II
“Here it is…Fujing…prepare to engage the enemy stronghold!” Dragon Master Mar of Lucifer, given the honorific for unifying the Draco-Wizard Alliance, communicated with the rest of his 18-man squad telepathically. The final assault on the non-wizard powers, China, Russia and the Middle East was beginning. Mar was launching a wizard invasion of the capital, as they were so powerful, they could lay waste to the entire city, all of Mar’s top generals were behind him and his massive three-headed hydra dragon, being followed by an army of evil “Shadow Animas,” demonic shadows that moaned and roared like the Devil himself They were sentient, but were at the beck and call of Master Mar of Lucifer, the Conjurer of Darkness; he was a master of the Voodoo Magic arts, very few sorcerers were powerful enough to harness the bizarre energies needed to harness the disturbing, bizarre and frightening spells of Voodoo and Santeria. The shadows, in their eerie, black, moaning voices, swooped into the city as it slept, and, even though they were invisible to an observer, they could be seen as shadows on the wall and on the ground. These would possess common, everyday objects in the people’s houses, to kill in the most frightening ways imaginable. The shadows dispersed across the city, possessing things like lamps, potted plants, and other nondescript objects. Then, the carnage began. One little boy was strangled to death by his possessed beloved “Blankie” blanket, and then crushed his parents flat with their bed and a bone-shattering crack. Another girl was electrocuted by her possessed curling iron, her eyes burned clean out of her head. A woman was swallowed by and cooked by her own oven, her screams of burning agony falling on deaf ears, as the cruel Shadow Demon only turned the temperature even higher with every scream, until she died of her internal organs exploding, splashing boiling blood and entrails everywhere. A man’s computer suddenly blew up, killing him with hundreds of glass shards in the face and mouth. The destruction wasn’t limited to China, either. In Europe, Guggenberger was preparing his Black Knights, his soldiers now clad in traditional Nazi colors; the SS, SA, and Wehrmacht were back in full bloom…ready to resume their bloody designs. He was doing a fine job at resurrecting the Third Reich, claiming that the Reich had only been “suspended” by “undesirables.” All of the old Nazi symbols were re-used, such as the swastika, Totenkopf, Wolfsangeland Sig runes; however, there was one big, big difference. This pan-European Reich pretended that Hitler never existed. All of his hateful policies against wizards and Gypsies were dismissed as “evil,” and condemned in the same way as Hitler condemned Jews and other minorities. As a matter of fact, the exact races that Hitler condemned, wizards, witches, Gypsies and wiccans, were now on top, and monotheists, Jews, Christians and Muslims, were the targets of persecution; therefore the vast majority of this new Reich believed in the Draco-Wizard Alliance philosophy that the wizards themselves were gods. Guggenberger, the new NSDAP and his armies had complete control over Europe now; there was now no question about it. In a horrific turn of events that neither Russia, China or the Middle East could have ever foreseen, a Fascist government had taken control of not just Germany, but all of Europe. The bizarre SS rituals were now made a central part of the everyday life in Guggenberger’s Europe, with the old German fortresses from the 10th and the 11th centuries now serving as eerie, horror-houses where very sick, twisted rituals, like the one that Guggenberger gave Veek a medal for his attacks on Pine Bush, were held, always in the presence of a wizard dungeon master. The Army, or Heer, was being shipped in massive convoys via the autobahns and highways across Germany to Poland; where he would start from by invading Russia. He wouldn’t make ANY mistakes this time. In the past 5 months, because of the total collapse of any sort of NATO or U.N. regulations, Guggenberger, now in an unassailable position of power, declared a new European Empire of PRussia. From the Baltic States in the East to Spain and Portugal in the West the resurrected Empire of PRussia, or the Fourth Reich Europe, was now ready for war, with a 7,950,000-man Army at the get-go. The Army would seize all of Western Russia by doing so; he’d keep China and Russia on the defensive. Russia would likely be rather averse to attacking Europe, even though Russia and Europe now had the same level of technology. The New European Overseas Commonwealth, which included Canada, Indonesia, Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand, was on the warpath as well; with Europe vs. Russia and China, this was going to be very similar to WWII. The Russian leaders hoped for the same outcome…
The opening shots at Russia were fired by the gigantic amphibious Me-400 bombers, streaking along underwater at speeds of 5000 knots, stopping short with their inertia-cancellers through the Skagerrak Straits; these European bombers were bigger and more powerful than their Russian counterparts, and could turn into tanks as well, just like the Russian “Sea Air Land” bomber. The Battle of the Atlantic was now joined, with the massive “squid-subs,” or aircraft-carrier sized U-boats that looked like giant squids and huge European aircraft carriers prowling the North Atlantic and the GIUK Gap, as well as Me-400s, with the equally powerful Russian Navy on the opposite side, it looked like WWII all over again. Upon emerging from the depths of the Baltic and the North Seas like sea monsters, the Me-400s launched hypersonic missiles at Russian defense uplinks, preventing reinforcements from being called.
As the terrified students watched the news unfold with at least 20 other faculty, the true gravity of the situation began to hit home. The Wizard Alliance was on the verge of total control. This was the final stage of the 20-year chain of events, all according to the sorcerers’ plans. With North America as an allied government of the sorcerers In Europe, the current Draco-Wizard assault on China, wizards in control of Japan and the Fourth German Reich, things looked very bleak. Several students had gone missing, and Samuel, who was killed by Tempelritters while investigating a murder in New York, was the last of the Osborn House survivors… save her, Hazel Morina. Add that to the fact that they themselves were living under Tempelritter rule, and things were only going to get worse. However, the one thing standing between the world and the Draco-Wizard Alliance was the Wizard Ascendancy, led by the staunch Praetor Bering; failing to stop his traitorous son Radu in New York, was preparing to launch a last-ditch counter-offensive; making an alliance with the massive Russian Federation Armed Forces and Head of State Spitenyev, the Ascendancy would have an army as well. This was it. There could be no failure. “What’s going to happen?” one student asked, nervously. “Hopefully, the Wizard Alliance is defeated. That’s all we can hope for.” It was true. Japan had fallen to the massive Tempelritter order; the Japanese were now under the control of Lucifer Felreen, the Dragon Mage Lord. Propaganda posters of him and his troops were everywhere, as were the soldiers themselves. It seemed as if the gray-armored, Nazi-like soldiers were legitimately looking to shoot anyone they pleased. They carried Type-175 Assault Rifles; these new Japanese rifles were an update from the North American, now SMSN M-4s. They had a huge variety of attachments, such as rifle-mounted M203 grenade launchers, laser sights and bayonets, even shotgun attachments. Ever since Felreen, in his black and purple uniform of the Ancient Ones, had usurped power in Japan from the original Japanese Diet building, Fascist marches through Shibuya Crossing were very common, with the troops marching in choreographed squares, doing tricks with their rifles, and Felreen was always present. It was inevitable that Japan was eventually going to get involved in the war, with the new European Overseas Commonwealth and rapidly rebuilding Empire, with more and more of Europe’s former territories, including India, bankrupt from defense spending to stop the wizards. By this point, Europe had rebuilt its great 19th-century Empire, with colonies in Africa and Asia under a unified Europe, only Antarctica was undeclared. The New European Reich, a massive superpower nation, aided by the North America, would almost certainly send ships from the East Indies to assist Japan, as Europe was always that arrogant. The SMSN would also be a huge concern for the anti-wizard coalitions. Once China fell, however, the Chinese and Russians were doomed, so they had to make sure that didn’t happen. Already, according to the news reports, the Russians were already massing troops along the India-China border on high alert, as Dragon Master Mar of Lucifer’s raid was slaughtering Fujing’s population and murdering thousands of innocent victims with his Shadow Animas, they were indestructible to firearms, and could possess the soldiers’ rifles and grenades to explode involuntarily. However, if the attack came, however, the British Army would fight valiantly, just as they had always done, even against insurmountable odds. As one student watched this, he began to tremble, his nerves were kicking in again, and a girl, his caring but very protective girlfriend came and comforted him, claiming that everything would be alright. However, even she was beginning to doubt that statement. It was only a matter of time until the war reached Japan, especially with the awful news reports coming from the heavily censored news reports; the Japanese Television Network, as it was now known, was broadcasting messages of “power, glory and prestige” in support of the Draco-Wizard Alliance and its allies. However, everyone knew that this was a false, fabricated news story, but was simply not allowed to say anything. Anyone with a brain could see that these wizards were mass-murdering thousands upon thousands of religious people, criminals, cripples and minorities from all faiths, creeds and genders, as the wizards believed themselves to be gods, and any other belief was heresy. “Tempelritters never forget…” if only the residents of the Osborn House had taken that warning seriously.Suddenly, a group of armed Japanese Fascists walked into the room. “We have information that two foreigners are in this room, and that they are wanted criminals by Master Felreen and the Grand Draco-Wizard Alliance. Does anyone know where they are? Speak now!” the soldier barked. “Oh…I see you over there. You are hereby placed under arrest for sedition and threats against Felreen’s government!” The Japanese troops smashed the nervous student’s glasses, slammed him to the floor and clobbered his girlfriend over the head with the butts of their rifles, knocking her unconscious. The young man tried to struggle, only to meet the same fate. They were grabbed by their arms and forcefully dragged across the asphalt, and literally thrown into the back of the APC like sacks of potatoes and driven away, to the interrogation rooms in the Guard station, where a certain “someone” was waiting for them.Japan’s military was now by far the deadliest one in Asia, and the most advanced. Satellites, huge warships and hypersonic weaponry created an economy that peaked at $10 trillion nominal, and as far as total wealth went, second only to the European empire under Guggenberger. Felreen’s government was preparing to strike at Korea with his hypersonic aircraft and hypersonic missile bases scattered all over Japan. Once China fell to the Draco-Wizard Alliance, Japan would go on the attack. Total victory was inevitable.
Both students awoke in what appeared to be a strange office; there was wood flooring, a ceiling fan slowly turning, warm lamps, and a desk at which a young man was sitting. Then, they realized that they were tied to poles, bound with ropes to wooden posts, just awaiting their fate. However, just then, the man noticed that they were awake. “Oh, look who’s up.” the young man said. “Oh God, I know that voice!!” the girl, Hazel panicked. He turned his chair around…and there he was. Nicholas Eisner, former Mansion Lord of the Osborn House and Tempelritter sorcerer. “Pleasant meeting you here; I guess we can call that whole diatribe calling me a “monster” over killing the child I mentioned justified now, can’t we? He wouldn’t want to see his world demolished, hm?” “You’re sick! You’re BEYOND sick!! You claim that killing millions is justified in the name of your twisted religion?! I don’t know how I didn’t see this before, when we were all living together! I don’t know how you got hired in the first place by the previous manager, but whoever they were; they were blind as a bat! You killed Sasha and Cassandra…MY SISTER!!” Eisner walked over to both Hazel and her boyfriend, Andrew, fire of anger burning in his eyes…quite literally. His eyes changed color depending on his mood; then he pulled out his wand and pointed it directly at Hazel’s head. “For one, bats aren’t blind, read a little more about chiropteran mammals, and two, you’re time is up…” BOOM! A blast of magic knocked Eisner away from Hazel and Andrew; they both turned and saw Praetor Bering with the Ascendancy Generals, four other elite wizards of light, and the heads of the entire Ascendancy Peacekeeping Force. “We’ve finally tracked you down, Eisner.” Bering said in his staunch English accent. “Please don’t make this too difficult for us. The Council will decide your fate, and after your murder spree at that children’s hospital where you heartlessly masqueraded as a doctor to kill the sick children, I can assure you that they, as well as I, will show no mercy.” “Oh really?” Eisner cackled as he stood up. Just then, Radu and Veek appeared, “Hello, Father.” Radu sneered. “I have no son!” Bering roared. “Well, there’s nothing you can do about it now…” Veek hissed, holding up the second Sacred Icon. Bering and the others gasped. “I pulled this off an insect-hater in Pine Bush, in New York, and now she’s trapped in a display cocoon in my dungeon! HAHAHAHAHAHA!” I need two more souls to prepare the Haze Gates, Guggenberger’s already collected his share of the souls, so with our combined energies, we can open portals into the Haze Realm. All we’ll need is the three other icons, and then, the hope of 9000 years will be fulfilled, and the shame of the Red Woman will be lifted from our shoulders. This war was all according to our design from the Haze Realm, and now it’s time to close the deal.” “Do your worst.” Bering grumbled, drawing his wand. The battle quickly commenced, with magic blasts blowing chairs, walls and window out with the shattering of glass and wood. Electrical lines were severed, leaving live wires sparking on the floor beside the Ascendancy sorcerers; no joke, Bering and his Generals were supremely talented wizards, they were singlehandedly blocking Kill Ray shots from all three sorcerers, however, they were being pushed out the door by the relentless barrage of blasts, and were unable to make any attacks…until Bering noticed an opportunity. “Illuminatus!!” he yelled, generating a blinding flash of white light. Blinded by the flash, Bering and his generals quickly struck Veek, Eisner and the traitorous son Radu down with their own Kill Rays, just as all three of them muttered something. As the three dark wizards lay on the ground, Bering walked over to the dead bodies of Veek, Eisner and Radu. The thousands lost in New York, China, and Japan at the hands of these three wizards had been avenged. Bering picked up the Icon stone on the floor. “Keep it in the safe box; I really don’t want this Icon to fall in the hands of the Draco-Wizard Alliance again…” “Yes sir!” the general replied. It was a huge victory for the Ascendancy; had Bering not killed the three dark wizards, the Draco-Wizard Alliance would have won right there and then; but there would be plenty more sorcerers to arrest or eliminate before the battle was won for the Ascendancy. “Report back to Geldern Abbey; tell my adjunct that we have the Icon.” Praetor Bering barked in his heavy, stoic English accent. As long as they could hold onto it, the Draco-Wizard Alliance couldn’t win. However, there was one drawback. Every dark wizard in the world and the Haze Realm would be trying to attack Geldern Abbey, hidden by a magic charm in Gelderland Province, Netherlands. To anyone without magic blood, it appeared to be an old, decrepit shipyard. “We’ve got a long slog ahead of us…” Bering grumbled. As he walked out of the room, he used a spell to release Hazel and Andrew. “Well, I have to admit, wizard fights really areas terrifying as the Warriors and Wyverns manual says they are!” Andrew said, like a total dork. “Come, we need to leave.” Hazel said, still serious. As they walked away, they looked at the former Mansion Lord’s lifeless body. “Finally, there is some justice in this world.” Hazel sighed.
Russia had been invaded; just like WWII, Guggenberger was performing the exact same tactics as Hitler employed in WWII, with armed forces coming in from Europe, Finland and the Balkans. Guggenberger’s invincible army, the most relentless since the Mongol conquests of the 13thcentury, along with his wondrous technology, now even more advanced than the Russian tech, the Black Knights of the Fourth Reich crushed all who stood before him. The Russians were just as tenacious, however, and a brutal standoff had occurred along the Baltic in the north and Ukraine in the south. Guggenberger’s army was rapidly approaching Volgograd, and from there it would go into the heart of central Asia; his conquests were so swift that Russia was having trouble mobilizing its troops in time. This bloc of nations had fallen within 3 weeks. However, the most brutal part of the conflict was yet to come. Most of the areas that Guggenberger’s army had conquered so far were small, very weakly-armed, underequipped parts of Russia that didn’t stand a chance. The next stop from the Baltics would be St. Petersburg, and the next stop from Ukraine would be Volgograd, formerly called Stalingrad, which was the site of a bloody battle in WWII. The force going east, however, would be pushing deep into Ukraine, where Russia had more than a million troops waiting for it. This time, however, Russia was prepared for this, and had the technology and the full backing of the Ascendancy wizards behind it. Similarly, the force going in from the Baltics to St. Petersburg would face resistance from Russian troops in Belarus, the Baltics and the city of St. Petersburg itself. Furthermore, China and the rest of Russia would be preparing for war as well, but Guggenberger knew how to deal with that. Using his superior technology, he would use hypersonic missiles to destroy Russian shipyards and launch bombing raids with Me-400s and huge, hypersonic unmanned bombers as well. The Third Battle of the Atlantic was going very well for Europe; in just 4 months the huge U-boats sunk more than 1.8 million tons of Russian shipping. Russia couldn’t take much more abuse. The lack of supplies, bombardments and the destruction of its allies, as well as the North American wizard-allied government, had placed the nation in a hopeless position. Still, it would not surrender. Now that Japan, under the control of Lucifer Felreen, had entered the war using its massive Navy, Russia’s Asian territory was in mortal jeopardy. Korea was likely to be the Felreen’s first target, for it was a very strategic position for Japan to secure, it was a small country with an enormous economy, even larger than that of Japan, especially now that the once massive North Korean force was collapsed from the sudden death of its leader, Kim Jung-Il, at the hands of a Tempelritter attack. Cheap, skilled labor from the North combined with technological progress from the South had created an economy with a $13 trillion GDP, second only to the SMSN and the German United Europe, and a $157,000 per capita income, the highest in the world, thanks to the position of Korea in relation to China and Japan. Even more amazing was that it was still growing. The restored United Korea was also militarily supreme, as powerful as Japan, with its own carrier fleets and submarines, and it looked as if a repeat of the Korea-Japan war of the 1550s was imminent. That conflict, along with WWII, was the most catastrophic war ever fought in Asia, and one of the bloodiest. Japan, under Hideyoshi, invaded Korea twice, with more than 550,000 troops in total for the first invasion, and an even larger force 7 years later from the unified Japan and the Shogunate. One could only imagine the might and majesty of 550,000 samurai and infantry marching forward under the command of the unified Empire’s Imperial Marshal, Toyotomi Hideyoshi, and the sheer terror of the Korean citizens upon hearing the huge Japanese kettle-drum and gong beats as the army approached. Japan’s goal was to conquer all of Asia, as the great Kahn did 300 years prior, it would build an empire just as large as the Mongol one, by conquering China, Korea, and India, and then move even further west. Korea, however, under the equally determined Joseon Dynasty, thwarted his efforts twice; this ended Japan’s dream of a new World Empire, but victory was pyrrhic, at best. More than 5 million troops were killed, along with millions of civilians. The war saw hundreds of Korean, Chinese and Japanese heroes rise, the Korean side including Admiral Yi Sun-sin, one of the only admirals besides de Ruyter, Nelson and Togo to win every battle he commanded, he defeated the Japanese in naval combat 23 times. There was also the Grand General of the Water Spirits, Kim Si-min, who, against all odds, defended Jinju Castle fortress while outnumbered 50:1; 3000 Koreans defeated 150,000 Japanese. It was nothing short of a Spartan feat; his counterpart, Shin-Rip, was also a very distinguished general who fought at the Battle of Chungju, but died at the end of the battle. The Japanese side had the Council of Five Elders in Japan, including Hideyoshi himself and the five most powerful daimyo in his unified Japan, Ukita Hideie, Maeda Toshiie, Uesugi Kagekatsu, Mōri Terumoto, and the famous Tokugawa Ieyasu .In China, Li Rusong would lead the huge Ming Chinese Empire to victory over Hideyoshi and his Elder Council. Li even invented his own sword style, called jedok geom, which was the predecessor to kab-ba, an evolution of the sword arts that few still practiced outside of Korea and China. The war was so brutal that one Japanese scribe wrote that “What has the poor Nation been reduced to; unless by some reconciliation that the Spirits deliver us from pain and horror, we are doomed to live the barest of existences, our wives raped and tortured, the children scream and howl, our men die in the rivers of their blood. Lo, how be it that we suffer now, only to find peace in the hereafter?” Although this war remained almost forgotten by the wider world, it was as brutal as WWI; however, the greatest battle in Japanese history would come on the 21st of October, 1600, at Sokigehara; As Hideyoshi’s empire crumbled, Tokugawa fought and brutalized all of his rivals, creating a military dictatorship that lasted until the end of WWII. Now it was clear that Japan was going through another expansion campaign under new leadership, and sure enough, Japanese carriers and amphibious warfare vessels invaded the Northern half of the United Korea, formerly the domain of the communist regime, but now a bustling metropolis centered in Pyongyang. The Japanese massacred the Koreans at the Yalu River, surged into Pyongyang and smashed many parts of the city. Women, children and even dogs and cats were shot, brutally tortured and slaughtered, as well as thousands taken as POWs for sacrifice in the grisly Horror Houses. The city was overrun with Japanese in just 36 hours; the immensely advanced technology made conquest of the city easy. Hypersonic systems had rendered most other types of “total war” tactics useless. Nations like the Chinese were sitting ducks to unmanned hypersonic aircraft, land-based hypersonic missiles as well as ones fired from massive missile cruisers, and the submersible hypersonic combat vehicles (SHCVs) However, the massive Korean Armed Forces quickly re-captured Pyongyang and beat the Japanese back to the coast; technology, however advanced it may be, is still not infallible and does not guarantee victory. This put an end to any hope of a quick Japanese victory, and ensured that things were about to get ugly. Not to mention, United Korea had nuclear weapons, and Japan did not, even with the Fascist government. China was fragmenting, so therefore it was out of the game for now, but if China fell to the Draco-Wizard Alliance, Korea wouldn’t stand a chance, despite its wealth, it was simply too small geographically to defend against China and Japan at once; it could handle one at a time, so the critical issue was not letting China fall to the dark wizards. However, the massive Russian Navy would be in position to block any attempt that China made to attack Korea, placing a fleet in position around Port Arthur, ready to go at a moment’s notice. However, Russia’s power was severely compromised by the European troops, as much of their Atlantic tonnage had been sunk by the European U-boats, so there weren’t many ships to spare. Not to mention, a Japanese hypersonic attack could come at any time from any direction. This was a typical line of thought for the Japanese; surprise attacks weren’t just a pattern of invasions, they were an important part of Japanese military thought. Tsushima, Pearl Harbor, and the Battle of Jinju Castle in the Hideyoshi-Korean War all began with surprise Japanese attacks, and, as the botched Russian invasion of Japan proved early on in the war proved, Japan could also defend its interests well, too. Sure enough,the initial Japanese attack on Pyongyang came during the Miss Korea pageant, where “the glorious Korean maidens brought great honor to Korean people everywhere.” No one expected the attack to hit a crowded city on such a festive night. The same went for parts of northern Mexico and Quebec, as well as Montreal. The SMSN, now having rebuilt the cities and towns damaged during the seizure of the Second Icon, which was now in the hands of the Ascendancy, had sent some of its more than 60,000 tanks, each emblazoned with the Red Eagle, into the French territory of Canada, destroying Quebec at the height of the Winter Festival, though Mexico put up more of a fight. Montreal was currently under siege by SMSN forces, with their tanks, hypersonic aircraft and thousands of infantry. As with all sorcerer-controlled and allied nations; and Russia, they were receiving huge amounts of advanced technology from “tech transfer,” and now the SMSN had the technology that the European, Russians and Japanese had. Besides the tanks, there were hundreds of robotic support vehicles, gunships and APCs. It was estimated that the SMSN, thanks to its Herculean industrial production complex, had more than 800,000 ground vehicles in its arsenal, more than 700 ships in its battle fleet, and the largest Air Force ever. The socialist market system in place had profited in the same way China did. With the maturing of the communist state in North America, a remarkable transformation occurred. The Russian and North American culture began to mix so profoundly that the SMSN was described as “Russia and North America molded into one super-state.” Russian architecture style was now just as common as the traditional Western style; some buildings even combined both styles into one unique style, being dubbed “Genevievean” architecture, after the leader of the country, Genevieve Mulsky. The Pacific Fleet Command, still based in Hawaii, was going to assist the Japanese in subduing Korea. The SMSN Carrier Force 13, consisting of a nuclear powered supercarrier, one of 14 in service with the Fleet, 15 amphibious warfare vessels, and many smaller ships: the Glorious Fleet, as it was being referred to by SMSN naval brass, was the grandest fleet assembled since WWI: more than 300 ships were mobilizing. Such a fleet was placed in the Pacific not to be deployed all at once, but as a reserve. The SMSN was so powerful that it could easily fight a two-front war if need be. Once China fell to the Draco-Wizard Alliance, the SMSN would make its move; with China, Japan and the SMSN closing in on it, Korea would fall like a matchstick…that is, if Korea or Russia didn’t mobilize their fleets as well. However, this was going to be a likely course of action for Russia and Korea, even though the Russian Empire itself was currently dealing with Guggenberger’s forces in Europe, it too was powerful enough to fight on two fronts. Just as the Battle of Atlantic was being repeated, the Pacific Theater was about to return to its former ferocity. The powers involved would be plus two, but the methods of war-making would be the same, only the allegiances had changed. Russia, and superpower Korea were against Japan, but North America was now on Japan’s side, as would be China if it fell to the dark wizards. All 5 powers now had blue-water Navies, capable of hunting far from their home ports. This was WWIII, and this conflict, which had been slowly increasing in ferocity for the past 20 years, had reached its climax with the wizard invasion. The conflict was so intense that countries like India, formerly booming economic powers in the pre-war period, had gone bankrupt in their desperate attempts to stop the Draco-Wizard Alliance by spending entirely unsustainable amounts of money on new weapons technology to match that of the new Empire of PRussia and the Russian Empire and the wizards themselves; the latter was bracing itself for yet another invasion, the fourth in less than two centuries. The Europeans appeared to be using the same strategy as they did in WWII; they were securing all of Eastern Europe before moving into Russia to keep France and Britain on the defensive. However, since they controlled those territories from the off, Russia had its old strategy working for it: depth. Russia’s only defense against invasion on the northern European plain was to put more territory between Burgundy and the enemy. If Europe took the Baltic States, it would be only 70 miles away from St. Petersburg. However, that was going to be a difficult task for Europe to perform, for as long as Russia controlled the Baltic States, Belarus and Ukraine, Russia would be able to project huge amounts of force in any direction in Europe. With a firm anchorage in the Caucasus and domination of Central Asia, the borders were relatively secure from an easy land grab. However, with the Europeans rolling into the Ukraine and the now super-advanced technology fielded by both powers, it promised to be an even bloodier affair. Russian troops would become thoroughly entrenched near the Don and Danube Rivers, as the Europeans would attempt to come up through Sevastopol, much like during the previous war. Since Guggenberger appeared to be using Adolph Hitler’s exact strategy, the Russians would be able to block Europe by using the Russian naval infantry. However, according to the latest European codes cracked by Russian FSB agents, they were planning to do something a bit different. Already, it appeared that the Europeans were focusing on Africa more than anything else. North Africa was a rather militarized area, far more than most of Africa except South Africa, but it was going to be a fruitless defense, however, as nothing anywhere had yet to prove a challenge to the Fourth Reich’s seemingly invincible army. Once that was accomplished, the European Wehrmacht would make an allegiance with the Aleyadin Caliphate, and its new wizard ruler, the black-robed, turban headed Sultan, Mehmet III, taking the moniker of the great 15th-century Conqueror of Constantinople. From behind, he appeared to be an evil black shadow, with no face, just a black turban, and his real face was very eerie, looking more like a ghoul than a man, and he practiced some of the darkest spells imaginable, but his real strength was potion-making. Such potions would invert a person’s organs to the outside, where he would cook the unfortunate victims and eat their internal organs, claiming that each organ, heart, lungs, brain and liver had a special restorative power: heart equaled strength, lungs equaled condition, brain equaled intelligence, and liver represented purity. He, although claiming to be a pious Sultan, was only pious towards the traditional Draco-Wizard belief that they were gods, not Allah, God or Yahweh. However, his rule had been in place for the whole of the 20 years leading up to this climax. Turkey had undergone a massive economic boost after reforms by Mehmet restored the Turkish Europerchy, and moved the capital back to Istanbul. It was relatively untouched by the war, and now Mehmet was about to make his final move. Turkey had already taken most of North Africa, Iraq, the Arabian Peninsula and parts of Sudan, and restored the old borders of the Umayyad Caliphate, but at this point no one knew, even twenty years later, that Mehmet was a Tempelritter.He and the now deceased Eisner were the first two sorcerers to emerge as scouts for the impending invasion. Both had done their jobs well; Eisner hadn’t died in vain. Even more important was that the massive Turkish army, almost as capable as the European one with the same level of technology that Russia and Europe had, had Turkish commandos locating the second Icon from the Ascendancy. The Icon was in the Netherlands, but it was in Geldern Abbey, which was so well defended that no army could smash through it, even the citizens of Europe had no idea where it was, and the Draco-Wizard Alliance controlled the territory. Therefore, all enemies of Europe must fall before that could be attempted. However, there were three others to find, and there would always be the fun “shock factor” involved with the Turkish people realizing that their leader was a sorcerer all along. Many people had suspected that there was something not quite right about Mehmet, as he was known as Gulyabani yǘz, or “Ghoul Face.” Also given the fact that he would lure young people from all over the world, both men and women to huge parties in Istanbul, and then claim that a few of the prettiest young women and most handsome young men had “gone missing” the next day indicated that there was definitely something sinister going on, especially because such incidents usually involved Jews or Christians. However, no one challenged Mehmet’s rule. He was charismatic, a brilliant orator, well-liked by his ENTIRE nation, and was the engineer of a new Ottoman Empire, another Sword of Allah…or so his people believed. Turkey, already a fully-modern, trillion-dollar economy when Mehmet took over, boomed to become the fourth largest in the world, behind the NORTH AMERICA (now SMSN,), Europe and United Korea. He seemed to be solving everyone’s problems in the Middle East, which was phenomenal. His negotiations and brutal military interventions in foreign disputes were just what the Middle East needed. However, not everyone was happy with the astounding return of a Muslim empire. Many evangelical Christians, ones that hadn’t been killed by the war or the Draco-Wizard Alliance, claimed that the new Turkish Empire was ruled by the Anti-Christ, based upon Revelation’s depictions of “The Empire with Seven Hills.” Istanbul was surrounded by seven hills, and Mehmet seemed to fit the definition of the False Messiah perfectly. His military was growing rapidly into a fully-formed Navy, using the super-advanced technology pioneered by the Russians and Europeans, a huge Air Force and a fully modern Army. Because of the absolute loyalty that every political party in Turkey and its Empire was supporting him and his peoples’ loyalty was absolute, with no regards to the 70 years of democracy’s loss; many more secular people argued that this new regime was simply a result of the blurring of the lines between fear and reverence. People feared and revered the Sultan in equal measure, much in the same way Kim Jung-Il was before the reunification of Korea. However, the more religious groups stated that the similarities to the Book of Revelations were too coincidental. Nevertheless, a European emissary from the Anschluss region of the European Empire of PRussia was arriving by VTOL dropship to meet with the Sultan directly.
The dropship landed right in front of the Sultan’s palace, on the landing pad with several Janissary guards, now dressed in futuristic armor rather than the bizarre, ceremonial garb of old, looking at the ship landing on the pad with anxious, uneasy eyes. The Wolf’s Cross and Iron Cross were emblazoned boldly on the VTOL dropship’s hull, as well as the word “HEER,” meaning “Army” in German. In the light of the setting sun over Istanbul, the brilliant orange glow casting shadows from every elegant Middle Eastern architect’s masterpieces, shined all over the city, bathing it in a truly ethereal light. In one of the building’s shadows, under the vast mosque of Hagia Sophia, stood Mehmet III, dressed in his jet-black outfit and turban, surrounded by his heavily armed Janissary guards. Wind whipped around the landing pad as the dropship lowered its landing gear and settled gently on the ground. Mehmet glared ominously as the back ramp from the dropship opened up, and several SS guards disembarked, along with Chief Diplomat Rudolph von Bayern, the direct link to Guggenberger and a continuation of his will. He walked towards the Sultan and saluted by slapping his chest and raising his hand. “Yes, Bayern. We have much to discuss.” As the two of them walked back into the palace walls, they walked past a grotto filled with exotic plants, a menagerie with flamingos and various Middle Eastern bird species, and a huge reading and writing room. “So, you wish for me to mobilize my armies to assist your “Great Conquest” in Russia? I do say, that is a very bold plan. Turkey still cries for war with Russia, the underlying cause of the animosities between our peoples is still rooted in the seizure of Azov by Peter the Great. I agree, but it will be difficult for my navy to gain a foothold in Ukraine, it just isn’t large enough yet, but my Air Force and Army are plenty powerful enough.” “Then the Reich will provide your forces with naval support from our U-boats and surface combatants.” Bayern responded. “Well, I have one request.” the Sultan spoke. “I want the entire Middle East as my territory. Your army and mine would crush any resistance like a hand squashing an insect. That doesn’t seem like too difficult of a request.” “Indeed it doesn’t. Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan shouldn’t be much of a challenge for us, and we would put the Chinese in an even more precarious position with their borders under siege, allowing the sorcerers to take control more easily. Plus, we’d control the Middle Eastern oil fields, cutting Russia’s supply lines off. Russian military power would diminish greatly, and Spitenyev’s government would quickly crumble. That is how we win. That is how we shall live forever more. “I like your mentality. I will deploy my troops into the Levant, and the Holy Land. The Turkish war machine will crush the Israeli Defense Forces, and every last Jewish Canavar will beg for mercy at our feet. All the rabbis, Hasidic vermin and “Jewish princesses” will burn until their city is but ash. The Grand Turks and the Draco-Wizard Alliance shall triumph over the “Jewish Question; ”as will the Greater Reich. When our forces take the rest of the Balkans, we will ship our army across the Mediterranean and into Jerusalem itself. With our combined strength, victory shall be ours.” “Excellent, I will prepare my troops for invasion. But in the meantime, stay here at the palace for the night. No use getting…” “BEHIND YOU!!” One of the Janissaries yelled in Turkish. Mehmet was already there. He drew his scimitar and clashed blades with the assassin, who was almost 6 feet tall, and wearing a bizarre, full Lolita-style dress, it extended almost down to her feet; it was blue, white and green with bells and beads hanging off of it, along with black and white striped stockings, long, pretty blond hair. She had two blue flowers in her hair and was very proficient with a sword, to say the least. “Die, you filthy snake!!” the woman yelled, clashing his blade with Mehmet’s. Sultan Mehmet III was better; however, and he didn’t play fair. “A snake, am I? Perhaps you’d like to see just how powerful a snake I am!!!” He pulled out his wand and uttered a spell in an ancient language, not Turkish: “Maroof klee na tse moono KASHKA!!” He transformed himself into a giant black cobra with glowing red eyes, and hissed loudly. The cat was out of the bag on his secret, however. Now everyone knew he was a sorcerer, like one out of the 1001 Arabian Nights tales. The Janissaries were terrified and amazed at the same time. Still, their loyalty to the Sultan was unwavering. However, the assassin was quick enough to avoid Mehmet III’s snake-form’s massive strikes, until Mehmet swung his hooded head around, knocking the assassin off the roof to splatter on the ground. “Never mind her; the fall killed her, for sure.” Mehmet III said, transforming back into a human form. “Agreed. Now, as for arrangements, we will arrange for you to stay in the Emissary Room, where foreign diplomats to Turkey stay.” “Sounds decent.” Bayern said, rather content. “Tomorrow my troops in Egypt will cross the Sinai Peninsula into Israel and begin the operation. However, that requires that your army reaches the Mediterranean quickly. The Israelis have a profoundly proficient national Defense Force, and even with our technology, they will fight to the last man. Therefore, it will not be easy for us alone, and I’m not willing to squander my resources on a fruitless campaign.” “Well then, my Liege, we have a deal.” Bayern hissed, shaking the Sultan’s hand. “Besides, that assassin probably came from Israel. We shall return the favor…” The two men walked into the Palace, with several Janissaries on guard to make sure that another assassin didn’t attempt to kill anyone. The invasion of the Holy Land was nigh.
Divine Penance
That night, Sultan Mehmet III’s Minister of War gave the order to the Egyptian Division of the Turkish Armed Forces, stationed on high alert in Cairo, to cross the Sinai Peninsula and the Suez Canal into southern Israel under the cover of darkness. Israel was surrounded by the Turkish Empire; it was the only patch of non-Turkish territory in the region. Turkey controlled the Suez Canal and the Middle Eastern Sea Lanes, allowing it to project force into the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea. Turkey’s navy was now adding huge, nuclear-powered submarines, aircraft carriers and advanced hypersonic systems, including submersible hypersonic attack craft, like the Russian and German examples. These naval assets would be instrumental in defeating Israel, as the Israeli Navy was powerful, but nothing compared to Turkey’s fleet. The Turkish Aleyadin Caliphate would finally have its revenge against those that suppressed it for so long. Sultan Mehmet III was a brutal commander of the Tempelritter forces in the Haze Realm, so was a natural selection for a scout, hired by the Grand High Wizards, Guggenberger, Daisuke, Santiago and Lily. He was involved with placing Kulakov in power, with Guggenberger acting as a “seer” for the Russians. The North American missile strike on the Caliphate that was blocked by magic from an Ascendancy wizard was just the sort of thing that Mehmet III needed to place him into an unchallenged position of such loyalty that his people now blurred the lines between fear and reverence. The Sultan’s power was absolute. It was absolute over most of the Islamic world, and it would soon be over Israel. The huge APCs, armed with rockets, machine guns and various defensive systems got rolling in a convoy across the desert under the cover of darkness, as did the Main Battle Tanks, unmanned hypersonic aircraft, and infantry, using extremely complicated weapons systems and powered battle armor. The clattering of tank treads ripped the silence of the desert apart that night, under the same sky that desert bandits once stalked to attack caravans moving into Jerusalem, or the Crusaders and Saladin’s forces battling it out here for control of the Holy Land. In a sense, this operation was akin to a new Crusade, the Turks launching jihad against the Jews, in the name of Allah in the case of the soldiers themselves, but in the name of a more sinister cause for the Sultan and his German allies, who were in the process of destroying the Balkan countries. Guggenberger had responded to the Sultan’s message from Baronia-Felix, and was sending a European aircraft carrier into the Mediterranean, the Iron Will, as well as an aircraft-carrier sized “squid sub” U-boat along with it. The gigantic U-boats, of which there were 10, along with the 12 aircraft carriers, were Europe’s most critical naval assets; there were more than 500 ships in the European Navy, ranging from the carriers to fast littoral-combat ships and missile frigates. The “squid subs” were enormous, squid-shaped U-boats that topped out at 1100 feet in length and 96,000 tons. Armed with SLBMs, torpedoes and cruise missiles, they were the most powerful weapons ever built by human hands. The Navy Presidium was the massive building that once housed the Dutch East India Company, only it had been expanded on and was one of the most glorious buildings in the Federated States. The Dutch Province of the Federated States of Europe was the headquarters of the Navy and the Shipbuilders’ Guild, giving the province immense importance, even more so than the Harland and Wolfe Shipyards in Belfast or the Copenhagen Yards. Therefore, the Dutch were among the proudest people in the entire Federated States; they knew that they were indispensable. The Chief of the Shipbuilder’s Guild was a young man named Sven Vander Wall, a very charismatic but somewhat withdrawn individual who was never happy with how his life was proceeding at all. He was a completely faithless pessimist and did nothing but sit at his desk in the Guild offices doing his job; he was essentially married to it. He wasn’t always this way, before the war, he lived in a paradise at the Osborn House, before the wizards attacked. However, Sven definitely led the Guild to prosperity, as it had built more ships in the past year than it had in the past 10, even before the formation of the Federated States. Sven had essentially given up on trying to get married again or have a family, and simply devoted himself to his work; he lived alone, with not even a cat or dog to keep him company. However, the splendid Orange Parades through Amsterdam on the shores of the bay were carefully stage-managed events, celebrating the Dutch Republic’s glorious past and their supreme future as part of the German United Europe. These parades were his work, as well as all other CEO duties. The “squid subs” that the Guild constructed in their vast shipyards in the Zuider Zee were the most destructive weapons ever built, fitting with the Reich’s violent, evil past. They carried 50 ballistic missiles, each one with 6 warheads, meaning they carried 300 nuclear bombs. They also had huge torpedo tubes and more than 70 torpedoes on board. On the sub’s conning tower, arranged at the bow of the sub, as the sub moved backwards like a squid, flew the German Fourth Reich Naval Jack, the Wolf’s Cross surrounded by 4 Iron Crosses, one representing the Four German Empires; the Iron Kingdom’s four incarnations. The subs had a crew of 2,500. They would arrive shortly after the Turkish troops made contact with Israeli forces, finishing the job. However, a shocking development was about to occur in the SMSN.
Final Destiny
Santiago Española, one of the dark High Wizards of the Tempelritters, stood around his cauldron in the London Horror House, which was disguised as an abandoned train yard by a dark spell. He was currently brewing a potion in the darkest recesses of the cave-like domain, lit only by a circle of torches around the cauldron itself. His face appeared to glow eerily red in the flaming glow, as did the terrified eyes of the prisoners crammed into the holding cages built into the stone walls, often with 15 people thrown into a 10’ by 5’ cell. They were all weak from torture, whippings, beatings, more torture and having experiments done on them with various spells and potions; it was akin to a Nazi concentration camp. Bodies were incinerated in crematoriums, often prisoners were used to burn other prisoners’ corpses, knowing that eventually they would meet the same fate. This current potion was going to be fatal to the unfortunate soul that took it, but nobody in the Horror House cared. These people, all Christians, Muslims or Jews, were heretics. They didn’t accept the wizards as the new gods, so they received neither pity nor mercy. This particular potion was to be tested on an old acquaintance of Santiago’s. Just then, two guards brought none other than Genevieve Mulsky to him. She was clearly in shock. Why would an ally do this to her? “Why do you look so surprised?” Santiago taunted. “Didn’t your mother ever tell you to never talk to strangers? The point is, by shaking my hand; we made an agreement, a very cordial one, but still an agreement. By me assisting you in building a government, you gave me a piece of your soul. With that energy, I had partial control over you, and it was I who made those decisions, not you. Just be logical. Would I really allow someone as weak, worthless and pathetic as you to rule a nation?! I just needed someone to construct it for me. You have now outlived your usefulness. I summoned you here via remote telekinesis. That’s why you woke up here the moment you fell into REM sleep.” “You never told me about the soul part…” was all that the shocked young woman had to say. “Well, you didn’t ask!” Santiago barked. He proceeded to grab Genevieve by the neck and held her face up on a wooden plank, along with several black armored SS guards from the German United European military. Santiago then stuffed a potion brutally down her throat. Genevieve began to convulse, as her eyes bugged out of her head. Blood began to pour from her eyes, ears, nose, and throat. Spontaneous rips appeared in her skin; vast chunks of flesh began rotting off of her body, and her bones were becoming visible. “Lahodna, ki, zha URYMOOSKIA!”Santiago barked in Dark, the Spell-Casting Tongue used by the Draco-Wizard Alliance and the Ascendancy. At the utterance of these words, the potion’s dissolution of her body was complete. She was now just a charred skeleton with some lumps of flesh and sinew, smoldering on the table. After that, the remains were cast into the boiling cauldron. Immediately after that, a hazy image of a face, a very creepy one, appeared in the fog that resulted. “What have you summoned me for? Ludwig Eisenheim said, through the fog. “Mage Eisenheim, do you have any information on the Red Woman’s location?” “Yes, My Lord. She is in the Haze Realm, attempting to undermine our authority there. She must have used a Haze Gate to get in here, and I think I know who let her in. The Knowledge Temple Sorcerers, on the peak of K2, the possessor of the entire universe’s knowledge, have long been opponents of our policies. Their assistance to the Red Woman has gone too far. Their neutrality is violated by helping one of our enemies. It is then that they must be punished. They are still under Lyceum’s control. We can take their rights away for treason. However, securing the City of Knowledge in the highest peaks of the Himalayas will not be easy; it will be like the Turks conquering Constantinople in 1453. No enemy force has ever been able to take the city in its mountain stronghold, but they didn’t bring their full force. We can conjure much more. Their last sermon will soon be given. We will seize that knowledge for ourselves, and with that, will secure the last 4 Icons.” “Excellent…” Santiago hissed. The City of Knowledge was just as splendid as Constantinople once was, as a matter of fact, it was Constantinople. The Knowledge Sorcerers were in the direct employ of the first Roman Emperor, Augustus, all the way to the last Emperor, Michael Paleologos XI. Even though they were not Christian, they were given permission to live in the Byzantine Empire for their vast knowledge. When the Byzantine Empire, the final incarnation of the Roman Empire held its last Mass in 1453, the sorcerers took all knowledge from the city at the last minute and founded New Constantinople high in the Himalayas. The final Mass’ records were kept in the Inner Sanctum of the Library, with the names of the Emperor, the Men’s and Women’s Hagia Sophia Choirs, consisting of the most talented young voices and people in the Empire, and the bishops, priests and cardinals that blessed the kneeling 8000-man Roman Army defending Constantinople. Despite the apparent hope in the Church of Hagia Sophia, there was no hope of victory for the Romans. Mehmet II’s Ottoman Army was just too strong. The Knowledge Sorcerers, with their Empire that they served destroyed, took the entire collection of relics and knowledge with them at the 11th hour. With the Earthquake of 1450, the tsunami in the Mediterranean as a result of that earthquake, and huge storms, the Romans believed that the colossal Ottoman Army was the embodiment of the Anti-Christ. “Well, the SMSN is now under new management. I’ve already contacted Guggenberger, and our two nations will be merged into a military alliance, as well as a wizard one. The Draco-Wizard Alliance’s power now extends to the human and Haze Realms. It will not be long before our Empire of Lyceum dominates the Haze Realm and the Human Realm. The Great Kingdom of Darkness will soon envelop both realms. This darkness is generated not from one’s mind, but one’s heart. Long ago in the Haze Realm, the Temple of Lost Love worshipped heartbreak and love, and those sacrificed on the altar were read a passage from the DARK book, just before they died. We have no idea where that tome is, but it would be pleasant to find it again. The point is, all hearts are born in darkness. We, as living beings, have the power to do good and bad. My wars to expand our Dark Kingdom of Lyceum cost nearly 330 trillion casualties, counting Spirits, but the “bad” was justified by the “good.” Therefore, there is no such thing as a “bad” or “good” person. It is only through the joy of love and the anguish of heartbreak that one attains darkness in their heart, and thinks only of revenge against the one that broke their heart. Unlike most types of grudges, this one will continue until the heartbreaker is punished. He or she will regret whatever they did, if the heartbroken is determined enough and cunning enough. As I once did, the individual must rise to the challenge and obtain vengeance on those who did him wrong? I agree wholeheartedly with that statement…isn’t that right, Noelle Maarten? Ha-ha .I gave you a chance in the University of the Haze Realm, but…you chose to be difficult. Now, trapped in your Shadow Cage for eternity, I bet you now rue the day you were born! The trial brought justice to my mind; body and energy. You suffer while I conquer the Haze Realm and now Earth. All is just. All is right. If you disagree with me, you will be punished severely. I hereby proclaim the Coalition of Wizard Governments, or CWG. May Fate shine upon us.” Santiago thought to himself as he walked out of the eerily lit Horror House sacrifice chamber. He considered himself a conquistador, following in the footsteps of men like Cortez and Pizarro. As the new leader of the SMSN, he would re-name it “New Spain,” and restore all colonial Spanish influence from the brief but powerful Marxist government, that only served as a go-between in the transition from democracy to Empire. He already had a plan to subvert the Communist Party, which would doubtlessly be in chaos after the death of Genevieve reached the ears of the North American People’s Party. The number of Spanish-speaking individuals in North America was approaching 90 million, almost a third of the population. A leader like Santiago, a Spaniard himself, would be able to sway these Latinos to his cause, by attacking the Marxist policy of denying people’s rights to property, which was what many Hispanic immigrants came in search of. In the chaos, the SMSN was beginning to fragment, with regional leaders beginning to go their own way, where they could define rules as they pleased. It wouldn’t matter that North America in any form was out of the game for now. The mission was to attack the City of Knowledge, steal the locations of the four remaining Icons, re-build North America under sorcerer control, and then defeat the Red Woman. These three goals completed, the Draco-Wizard Alliance would rule over both planes. They would be invincible. However, Santiago had to return back to his home on Earth, as opposed to the Haze Realm to make sure his daughter, Aguila, was practicing her attack spells. All Tempelritter sorcerers were educated by their parents or guardians, though if they succeeded with their training exceptionally well they would go train with a Guild Master. However, Aguila wasn’t exactly “exceptional.” She had succeeding in destroying the kitchen in her home by accidentally conjuring fire when she tried to conjure water. As a result, Santiago viewed his daughter as a worthless young woman, and definitely thought about disowning her and banishing her forever. However, she was a very pretty young woman, about 20 years old, she had very long, elegant black hair, looked like a true Spanish maiden, with very pale skin and freckles. She had a gorgeous figure, stood taller than most men, and had a very interesting but strangely beautiful fashion sense. She was more interested in being herself and learning her magic at her own pace, rather than being drilled like a soldier in her father’s army. She also wanted a normal life, to have friends, relationships and something more than magic, boiling potions and bizarre critters to use in potion experiments. However, her dad was having none of that. He was known as “The Great Conqueror,” having killed more than 330 trillion Haze Realm inhabitants in his efforts to expand the Dark Kingdom right up to the border with the Kokki Empire and the Kingdom of Silpheed, where the Silpheed were absolutely terrified that an invasion could occur at any time; all the better for Santiago, who believed strongly in making victims quake in fear before they died. The Kingdom of Silpheed, the Kingdom of Love and Happiness, was a breathtaking place; the Moon was often as bright as the sun on the dark, sacred nights, in the summer, there were sports, swimming, gorgeous white-sand beaches in the south, aside from the occasional storm, it was always a gorgeous sunset. The cities were huge, often with an enormous cathedral to the Miracle of Love as the centerpiece, looking very similar to an Aztec pyramid. Around the pyramid stood bustling cities with amazing baroque and Neo-classical architecture, mixed in with mansions similar to the ones you might find in New Orleans or Alabama. In addition to the architecture, the styles for most people’s outfits were very reminiscent of either Antebellum Southern culture or Elizabethan-era English or Dutch style; they were very polite but somewhat egocentric. Most importantly, however, in regards to defense against the Dark Kingdom: they had a huge military just to counter the Dark Kingdom. They relied on huge airships, the largest ones being 1500 meters long, as well as infantry and huge, beetle-like tanks. The Chi-Rho insignia represented the Love Kingdom’s Army proudly, They also relied on the Kokki Empire to the north to protect them from harm, but as the Dark Kingdom continued to expand in the Haze Realm AND in the Human Realm, it was only a matter of time before the Dark Kingdom overran the Kingdom of Love, a beautiful place, until they showed up, especially with Dark Lord Santiago in command of the Dark Kingdom’s army. Aguila only wished she could be a part of that kingdom, where she could be free to find love, peace and happiness. However, she was bound by blood and family to the brutality that characterized the Dark Kingdom. However, she could never tell her father that. She would be mercilessly punished, tortured and then executed for treason. Just then the gigantic grandfather clock struck 2:00 P.M., quite ominously. It was about the time that her father would come home, and he would be very angry that she was daydreaming instead of practicing. Quickly, she began using her wand to practice explosive spells on watermelons, cantaloupes and pumpkins, the latter could be animated into an explosive bomb; the “Headless Horseman,” really a Hessian Tempelritter sorcerer named Baron von Frundsberg, that had the ability to cheat death by moving the control center of his consciousness from his brain to his heart, was famous for making pumpkin grenades. Just then, the door to the house opened up, and the dark visage of the Great Conqueror stepped into the huge, dome-like foyer. The house was built with the eerie Gothic building design, similar to Notre Dame Cathedral, but it was in a gorgeous residential neighborhood in Seville, Spain, along with many similarly large, traditional Spanish and Moorish buildings from the Muslim period. Santiago’s house was on the top of a hill, overlooking the gorgeous city on the Mediterranean, studded with palm trees and lovely homes, just as it always had. However, Spain was now under the direct control of Guggenberger in Baronia-Felix. Along with the Spanish flag, the Wolfsangel Cross and the Banner of the German United Europe flew over the city. There were armed SS guards directly from Baronia-Felix, as well as Spanish Guard Brigade Police in the streets; an auxiliary police force that was under the control of the Spanish Provisional Governor-General, but ultimately answerable to the Reichstag in Baronia-Felix. Clad in the colors of the Spanish flag, red and yellow, they policed the city silently and punished any crime or wrongdoing swiftly. They patrolled spotless, clean streets, any blemish to the city’s image resulted in a penalty that required the entire city to clean it in its entirety. In addition to the Guard, there were huge tanks in various armories around the city, along with a large Navy presence, including the Hercules-class artillery ships and several docks big enough to hold the aircraft carriers and the Squid Subs. Other than that, however, things were pretty much the same as they were before Guggenberger’s takeover. However, there were three young women that lived in enormous mansions near Santiago’s house, they had fled their Beverly Hills luxury after the Marxist takeover, but seemed to have jumped out of the frying pan and into the fire; this “World War Wizard” was everywhere. However, according to rumor, these three very wealthy young women, your typical “valley girls,” were somehow involved with NATO, an illegal and dissolved organization in Europe AND North America. The Spanish Guard and SS were starting to investigate it, but no searches had been conducted yet. Just then, the European Television Network, a propaganda network and the only legal news channel in Europe, began covering the invasion of Israel by the Turkish Aleyadin Caliphate.
Bury My Heart in the Holy Land
The chaos was mind numbing. The Turkish artillery began shelling the southwestern parts of Israel at 6:00 A.M. local time, catching the Israeli public completely off-guard, and with the Suez Canal under Turkish control, no other power could send troops in through the Middle Eastern Sea Lanes, blocking any Russian fleet bases in Ethiopia from attacking and defending the Holy Land, so deeply revered by its Orthodox Christian citizens. Israel was on its own. However, they were very quick to respond to the sudden emergency arising in the area near the Red Sea. The elite Israeli Armed Forces mobilized their tanks, planes, submarines and Ground Forces, and rolled double-time to the border, where a series of fierce firefights were taking place between the highly advanced Turkish weaponry and the dogged determination of the Israeli Army. Cities, some more than 2500 years old in this part of the Levant, became bloodbaths, filled with moaning, mangled corpses, blazing buildings and furious firefights so loud that you couldn’t even hear yourself think. The Turks had far superior technology than the Israelis, with their extremely complex weapons systems and powered battle suits, completely encasing the soldiers, making the Turkish soldier a walking tank-only more lethal. There were armor sets made for different types of soldiers, the most advanced armor was the Combat Shell Type 15, it had recharging energy shields, a huge built-in backpack that had melee weapons inside of it such as combat knives, and various steroids and implants made these troops the best soldiers ever. The Type 15 was used by European, Japanese, and Turkish forces as of now, only the elite commandos received this armor, they could withstand assaults that would leave the ordinary soldier pulped. The armor was surprisingly light for its bulk, as the soldiers were so powerful that they could lift it using the electrical movement enhancers and the fact that the pressure gel layer distributed the weight around the body evenly, even though the soldiers weighed 1200 pounds in their full armor. The Commandos often personalized their armor, such as painting on it, adding upgrades to make it more efficient, and making it unique-looking to call attention in battle. As such, only the new Coalition of Wizard Governments, united in military technology and politics had the best soldiers ever, and because of the Coalition, the Commando Teams were made up of many different nationalities. The armor was powered by long-lasting electric batteries; every wizard-controlled government had this supremely advanced tech through trade between allies, giving them a tremendous advantage. However, electricity was the most critical part of the whole gear package, without batteries, the armor was useless and inhibitory. Therefore, the critical factor for defending Israel was for the Israelis to stop and secure the drop zones that the Turks were using, so that they couldn’t ship in more batteries. Technology helped win battles, but it didn’t guarantee victory. The battle only intensified with the arrival of the Turkish tanks and gunships, each one capable of going up against two Israeli tanks, these tanks had BLOS (Beyond Line of Sight) firing capacity, meaning that they could hit a moving target from above the horizon. Also, there was a Tempelritter sorcerer assisting the Turks. He was a huge, imposing Welshman, and one of Santiago’s top allies. His name was Edward Morgan, and he wore a jet-black cape and robe, with a wrinkly, creased face, a huge white moustache, white hair and white, glowing, pupil-less eyes. He carried an ancient sword called the Reaper’s Gaff, and was a master at weather control. He was more than 500 years old, using a potion made from the blood of an owl and the skin of a foal, blessed with the Sacrament Writ, would give whoever took it eternal life, as long as he drank some of it every week. He was a pirate, at least he was in the late 1500s; he plundered so many Spanish and Dutch ships, at least 50 by 1600, that he became known as El Demonio Negro ,or “The Black Demon.” His pirate ship, the Iron Moon, flew a pirate flag that depicted an eagle holding a grinning skeleton in its talons. His crew was made up of a dreadful lot of sailors, some of them Spanish criminals on the run from the law; his First Mate was Scottish and he himself was from Wales. There was also a Dutch privateer that often sailed with him, and he was a very eerie character, it was rumored that he knew how to communicate with Hell itself. Isaac Janzen, the Dutch privateer, had a rather long, elongated face, huge, bulbous yellow eyes and a very odd, hissing voice. For the past 500 years, he had gradually given up piracy and devoted his time to the Tempelritter cause, and now was a commander of the wizard forces in the Middle East, and he had also negotiated with Iran’s military, which had just detonated its first atomic bomb in response to the global war. Iran had nuclear weapons pointed at Israel, and the European force was to arrive at any time along the Mediterranean Coastal region of Israel. The Turks and Edward just needed to hold out a little while longer. As the battle raged on, Morgan simply destroyed, utterly obliterated the Israeli Defense Forces, even the tanks fled from him; he was using magic to crush the tanks like a tin can, as well his sword to slaughter the Jewish defenders like hogs. His magic also allowed him to turn enemy soldiers to his side, his dark energies completely taking over their bodies and minds; however, the corrupting, caustic energy of dark magic gradually sapped their life energy, eventually killing them. This also worked on tanks and vehicles; one could only imagine the surprise of the Israelis when their own tanks turned on them. Morgan relished the thought of those people dying. It was in his blood. He blocked bullets with his powers and advanced mercilessly into the fray, with his Turkish soldiers behind him. Just then, a huge roaring noise echoed across the battlefield as fighter jets roared overhead, each one emblazoned with the Wolfsangel Cross, as well as the insignia of the Luftwaffe and the Iron Cross. The Europeans were here. The planes began dropping anti-infantry rounds on the advancing column of Israeli troops. Some of the troops looked out into the bay and saw the European aircraft carrier and the giant submarine surfaced next to it. The submarine, U-97, was preparing to launch its non-nuclear cruise missiles at fortifications near the combat zone, making it easier to launch the final push to Jerusalem. The large amphibious warfare carriers, accompanying the submarine and supercarrier, began disgorging landing barges and amphibious tanks, each one loaded down with Waffen SS and Wehrmacht, each one wearing the same type of armor that the Turks were wearing. As the landing craft, hovercraft and VTOL gunships came ashore, the Black Knights of Europe, as they were referred to, stormed up the beach, screaming TOD JUDENSCHWEIN!! (Death to the Jewish pigs) With the arrival of the European forces, the Israelis were outnumbered, outgunned and low on ammunition. However, they would fight to the death to defend their Holy Land, no matter what it took. However, a team of super-commandos from Turkey, or Deathstalker Team, was currently sabotaging the Israeli defense grid, which would put them out of commission. The battle continued to rage into the early morning, while a very interesting, but inconvenient event was taking place, at least for a certain Spanish wizard’s plans.
“LONG LIVE MARSHAL ROAN Martín!!” the crowd cheered in front of the North American Presidium, formerly the NORTH AMERICA Capitol Building, in Genevieve City, now called “New Aragon.” Roan was a very influential man with a deep, mighty voice, descended from the legendary Hernando Cortes of the Spanish Empire. His takeover was very swift, uniting the fragmented Communist state into a cohesive Empire of capitalism. Much like his ancestor did, he encouraged all North Americans that fled North America after the Marxist takeover to unite and return, and very quickly, North Americans began floodingback, under the government of First Marshal Martín, North America had been turned into an Imperial state, with former General Roan under the brief Marxist regime seizing power from his two other rivals, and then having each one executed. This left Marshal Roan as the dictator of North America, his brilliance during the Second North American Revolution and the civil war that followed having proven his worth. He had ascended to power in the same way Napoleon did, through military conquest and political cunning. Now, he wasn’t even referring to his country as “North America” anymore. He was calling it “New Spain,” as the fourth incarnation of the Roman Empire, the first three being Ancient Rome, Byzantine Rome and Orthodox Russia. “Rome may have died, but the ideals of Rome cannot fall.” Martín was known to say. He claimed that Rome had simply been suspended after the collapse of the Russian Empire 96 years before, and now North America filled that void. Most Spanish traditions had returned, all except slavery and Catholicism, and not everyone spoke Spanish. The Spanish Guards, just like the ones in Spain under Guggenberger, were back out in force with ultra-modern weaponry, New Spain also used the same super-commandos currently ravaging the Holy Land, which was being forced back to its heart: Jerusalem. The fully-encased super-commandos, shielded, walking, 1200-pound human tanks employed by New Spain were super, even as far as super-soldiers went. It had also voluntarily joined the Coalition of Wizard Governments, as Roan was indeed a Tempelritter. The emergence of New Spain and its capital, “New Aragon,” was the final confirmation that the End of Days was near. With the “False Messiah” Mehmet III, a sorcerer in control of one of the “Seven-Hill Cities,” Istanbul, and Guggenberger building a huge pan-European empire, and now Roan calling his Empire “New Spain,” fulfilled almost every prophecy in the book. Between the wars on an unprecedented scale, the sorcerers changing the world in very sinister ways, and now these omens of doom seemed to seal the fate of the current Order. All Christians would soon be delivered, and the world would be cleansed of all impurities, with no sorrow, anger, hatred, jealousy, heartbreak or war…if any Christians were left by that time. The number of Christians in the world had declined by 70%. They were all murdered, as were 62% of Jews and 40% of Muslims; more than half of all major religions were wiped out. The first order of business was to organize his Imperial Council, or Council of Lords, into a position of power where they were answerable only to him, and create a chain of command that would assure Roan total power. The Spanish Guard was being expanded, and now had stations being built in all 10 Provinces, the former states had unified into 10 Provincial Districts, primarily to simplify the government process and rest more power in the federal government, with Provincial Governor-Generals, or viceroys, ruling over them, with Hawaii and Alaska being their own sub-districts within one of the ten major Provinces. Each Province, Aragon, Valencia, Castile, Toledo, Andalusia, Asturias, Granada, León, Zaragoza and Lerida, had its own military district, with all military power ultimately being rested in the hands of the First Marshal Roan. As such, most of the military that was built under the Marxist government was up and running again and back into supremely high-quality production. Once these tasks were accomplished within a few weeks, the New Spanish Empire would begin investigating the rumors of the “NATO girls” in Spain itself with help from the United Federated States of Europe and Guggenberger, as well as prepare for the assault on the City of Knowledge; the battle plans for this were already being drawn up. The young women in question were “Regina,” “Celeste” and “Fern,” at least according to Spanish Guard Brigade in Europe and SS troops, as well as the Stormtroopers, or SA. These names were duly noted and delivered to Guggenberger in Baronia-Felix, now one of the most spectacular cities in the world, every bit as spectacular as Ancient Roman cities once were, with grand structures and spotless streets. Guggenberger wasn’t surprised. He knew that NATO wasn’t going to disappear too quickly, especially with democratic hardliners; the group of heretics which, apparently, these girls, 20, 21, and 20 years of age, respectively, were part of. If it was one thing that Guggenberger wouldn’t tolerate, it was dissidence, especially from some snobby rich girls that dared to challenge the Reich. They would be found, and swiftly punished; However, Guggenberger also knew that punishment didn’t always work…if it was too slight. Therefore, for crimes such as this, no punishment was too great. However, locating them was going to be a bit difficult, because they most likely had inside knowledge of the Reichstag, as well as ties to North America, which was now named “New Spain” by another Tempelritter sorcerer, which was a pleasant turn of events, as now the Coalition of Wizard Governments had reached a firm foothold on North North America. Also, there was now a North North American Branch to the CWG Super-Commando Corps, all wearing the powered, shielded exoskeleton armor and united under the Coalition government; they were the epitome of humanity’s ability to produce armor and soldiers to wear it. As such, it was New Spain that would investigate the NATO operatives’ location, as well as rumors of “hidden cities,” or underground NATO installations that the CWG had missed.
Beverly Hills, West Coast, New Spain
“Welcome to 90210, super-commandos. It’s just before sunup and we’re coming in for a landing at Angel Base.” the pilot of the VTOL dropship said as the aircraft circled over the landing zone. From within their helmets, they looked out over the rising sun in the Pacific Ocean as it came up, illuminating the city of Los Angeles and the superrich suburbs, home to many movie stars and other celebrities. However, there were many changes to Hollywood, L.A. and Beverly Hills since the creation of New Spain, the city now had a huge Navy yard, and large guard towers loomed over the famous HOLLYWOOD sign, as well as satellite uplinks for military and civilian comm. chat. Beverly Hills, however, was most affected. The famous Beverly Hills Mall was closed down to make room for an airport needed to accommodate the new B-5000 “Mammoth” gyroplanes, the largest aircraft ever built, and the high school was now adjacent to a large garrison of troops at Fort Angel, with live-fire exercises and aircraft demonstrations occurring almost daily. As the VTOL dropship landed on the base tarmac, the super-commandos, in full armor and weapons in hand, jumped out of the passenger compartment. One of them was much more imposing looking that the others, he had brown armor with extra armor protection around vital areas of his body, and his backpack compartment was loaded with explosive and demolitions gear, not to mention he carried a huge chain-gunas easily as if it were a pistol. He was clearly the demolitions specialist of the team, using the heavy weapons gear. His counterpart, right next to him, had lighter armor, but had a very specialized helmet and carried a sniper rifle; the long range sharpshooter. The third one had medium armor, but a dome-shaped helmet with an evil-looking demon face painted onto it; he carried a basic assault rifle and grenade setup; he was the “ground pounder.”The remaining two wore medium and light armor, respectively, one had an array of communications and hacking chips; the tech specialist, and the other had the same “ground pounding” setup as the one with the painted visor. Several teenage boys on their way to the high school noticed the super-commandos disembarking. “Wow, super commandos?! Here? Whoa!” The super-commandos ignored the spectators as they approached the base commander, who they towered over, and saluted. “Well, it looks like your counterparts; the Deathstalker Team just finished their mission in Israel. You guys are going to have to catch up. So, you’re Blizzard Team. Well, I must admit, when they sent me some reinforcements, I didn’t expect a Super-Commando team.” “We didn’t expect to be sent here either. Apparently High Command in New Aragon really takes this seriously.” the demolitions specialist grumbled. “Indeed, apparently those three girls really bother the CWG. Well, come inside. You will be briefed on your mission. The super-soldiers walked into the base barracks with the commander, leaving the high-school students behind. The new laws stated that every citizen of the New Spanish Empire in North America learn Spanish as well as English or whatever their native language was.
“Well, this seems like a simple enough mission. I mean, they’re 20-year old girls, how tough can the possibly be?” the demolitions specialist joked in his thick Brooklyn accent ““Well, that may seem to be the case, but keep in mind that these girls, however young they may be, have access to lethal technology, even though it’s outdated pre-war technology. “Don’t worry about us, sir, we’ll kick ass.” the super-commando with the demon face helmetboasted. All 5 soldiers had their helmets off, so one could see the true faces of the most feared soldiers on the face of the Earth. “Ever been inside a Beverly Hills mansion before?” the base commander asked the super-commandos. “Can’t say that we have.” the demolitions specialist said, twirling a combat knife with his fingers.“Well, you’re about to. We believe that some sensitive information critical to the CWG is inside the mansion of one Fern Leeuwenhoek, she invented one of the most popular Web sites out there right now, and therefore has profound understanding of computers. We’re not sure if she’ll be home at this point, but if she is, it looks like we’re giving house calls. She returned after New Spain was declared. No more shall Fern and her two friends, Regina and Celeste, dare question New Spain’s authority. Long live Marshal Roan!” “OO-RAH!” the super-soldiers exclaimed. “Your mission begins at sunset.”
Two Steps from Hell
As the sun went down, Blizzard Team stalked silently over to the huge mansion as silently as a 1200-pound human tank could possibly do. Careful not to step on any metal objects, they approached Fern’s house. “Geez, who the hell lives here?” the demolitions specialist gawked. “A dead target, very shortly. Cut the chatter, I see a light on in the upstairs master bedroom. Let’s get in there and start breaking things. We need to go in quietly. Tech, we need you to slice the security system and deactivate it. “Will do, Overlord.” The super-commandos, or “Type-15s,” in military jargon, identified themselves with nicknames. Tech stepped up to the security control and inserted a hacking chip in the lock. He entered the logarithm, and just like that, the lock opened, and the security system was deactivated. “Textbook hacking job, we’re in.” Tech said confidently. The Type-15s quietly entered the house, aside from the light coming from the upstairs bedroom, the house was completely dark. “Activate low-light visor settings; it’s getting a little dark.” The Type-15s activated their thermal and low-light visor modes, and crept up the stairs quietly to avoid alerting the target of their presence. Just then, they reached the door with the light on inside it. “On my mark…3…2…1…GO!” Overlord, the demolitions specialist, barked. The door was kicked open, only to find…that nothing was there. “What the…?” Overlord grumbled. “Looks like nobody’s home.” “Ahem, what did you say?” asked a rather high-pitched, “cute” voice from behind them. The Type-15s turned around at lightning speed, as their armor made them even quicker than most eyes could track, Standing in front of them was a very tall, very well-bred, pretty young woman, wearing a black turtleneck shirt and blue jeans with long brownish-blonde hair, piercing, but rather “squinty” blue eyes, luscious eyelashes and lips, very cute eyebrows, very pale, white skin with a few freckles here and there, and what would probably be a very cute smile…although she looked anything but happy at the sudden appearance of the Type-15 troopers in her house. “Well, you just made our job a lot easier! Come with us, and we won’t pulp you, you filthy traitor! Overlord roared.“Really? Last time I checked, it was illegal under New Spain law for a soldier to enter another citizen’s house without direct permission from the First Marshal. I could have you all thrown in the brig for this.” Fern responded, very arrogantly, like any other superrich inhabitant of Beverly Hills. “That’s fake!” Tech yelled. “WEAPONS FREE!!!”Overlord barked. The 5-man Type-15 Blizzard Team unleashed a merciless hail of bullets, especially from Overlord’s chain-gun. However, just when it looked as if this was going to be Fern’s final breath, an explosion rocked the downstairs foyer. There were Ascendancy wizards arriving to assist Fern, 3 of them, and they were Generals as well. Blizzard Team was forced to abandon Fern to deal with the wizards. Even though the wizards had the advantage with their magic, the Type-15s were just as proficient with their weapons as the sorcerers were with magic. Fern quickly ran to her safe room, assuming that the sorcerers would be able to kill Blizzard Team. “On my mark, toss flash-bang grenades at the point where the stairs meet the floor. That should blind them just long enough for us to fill their guts with lead.” Overlord said. “It doesn’t matter what powers you have: Bullet in the head=death.” Crackshot, the sniper of the team joked. “Ready…TOSS!!” Blizzard Team threw 3 flash-bang grenades right at the sorcerer’s feet. The ensuing flash of lightblinded the team of sorcerers just long enough to de exactly what Overlord said to do. Blizzard Team blew those Ascendancy wizards away just as if they were shooting someone like Fern, who was now probably in the safe room by now. “Tangos down. Move to engage primary objective.” “I’ve got movement on my sensors; it’s coming from the next room.” “She’s in there, get moving!!”Blizzard Team burst into the room, to see a huge blast door, disguised as a regular wall. “There’s probably a code here, but I see no place to put a hacking splice. We can’t get through here with computer technology.” Tech groaned. “Well, you seem to be forgetting something. Type-15s don’t use doors. I’m dying to blow something up.”Overlord relished. He stepped up to the door and grabbed a demo charge from his backpack compartment in his armor. “Crackshot, Tech, cover that doorway! We don’t want to get surprised again!” Overlord placed the bomb on the door’s center, to maximize the explosive damage. Just as the bomb was primed to explode by remote detonation, Overlord heard gunfire from behind him. Tech and Crackshot were shooting at something, and a large blob of contacts were approaching on his motion trackers. However, the contacts weren’t shooting back, rather bizarrely. “Tangos down!” Tech yelled over the sounds of shattering glass and destruction of very expensive things. Only then did Overlord know what was happening; those “phantom contacts” were radar-jammer decoys. “Keep your eyes on! They’re using radar-jammers!” Overlord yelled. Now that all hostiles had been eliminated, Overlord blew the bomb, shattering every window on the second floor and shaking the whole house. “In we go!” The five-man team jumped into the hole in the wall…
Forbidden City
Blizzard Team activated their low-light visor settings and turned on their helmet spot-lamps, as the room they stepped into was engulfed in total darkness.“Thank technology for these low-light modes.” Tech said. “Cut the chatter, no need to give away our position.” Crackshot whispered. Just then, static began buzzing in the Type-15s helmet communication systems. “Sorry, Blizzards, it took a while for New Spain Computer Engineers at Angel Base to break the communications jammers around the house, you know how those slowpokes are.” a rather serious-sounding man’s voice said. “Have you run into any hostiles?” “Lots of them; Fern’s been throwing armed guards, radar jammers and even Ascendancy wizards at us. This is turning into a wild goose chase of epic proportions.” “Wait; hold on, did you say Ascendancy?”“Yes, Advisor, did you hear me clearly?” “Yes, and I don’t appreciate the sarcasm. If the Ascendancy is helping the NATO holdouts, then this is an issue we can’t ignore. You appear to be in a highly secret tunnel, which we believe leads to one of those “underground installations” that were referred to in the data intercepted in a transmission by High Wizards Santiago Espiñola and Chancellor of the Federated States Johann Guggenberger, and then delivered to Marshal Roan. “Why didn’t you tell us that there’d be a base here?! If this is a fortified installation, not even a 5-man Type-15 team can win!” “Sorry Overlord, I had strict orders not to tell you. However, the intel that you’ve already given us is plenty. Here are your objectives. Your first is to find Fern and eliminate her. It is absolutely vital that Fern not escape. Your secondary objective is to destroy this installation and acquire the data core from the mainframe, as, according to the layout of these types of installations; the entire data core is in one computer. Sorry Blizzards, break’s over. You have your orders.” “Alright team, lock and load!” Overlord cheered. “Tech, pick that lock!” “Yes sir!” Tech walked over and sliced the security vault, opening the door slowly. The Type-15s stepped into what they thought was going to be a military installation, with cold metal floors, cameras and defense grids, but they found something quite different. It was a posh, well-lit, luxurious living room with paintings, a fireplace and a water fountain in the center, looking like a cherub pouring a watering can into a frog’s mouth. There was nice, white carpeting, as well as mellow lighting with lily plants in pots everywhere. “Huh? Are we at the right address?” Crackshot mused. “I think we’re in someone’s house.” Sprinter, one of the ground-pounders stated, rather matter-of-factly. The house above this one wasn’t the real house. It was only a decoy; this was a serious spy ring, working with the remnants of NATO and anti-wizard forcesall over the world. “Thisis rather excessive, to say the least. Be careful, this place could be booby-trapped.” Overlord grumbled. The 1200-pound human tanks made the floor creak and groan under their weight. “Careful, let’s try not to make too much noise.” No sooner had Overlord whispered those words that a security alarm blared. “What? I didn’t do it!” Sprinter yelled, rather immaturely. “Heads up!” Overlord barkedwhen 5 auto-turret guns began firing on full blast at Blizzard Team, hitting Sprinter, flaring his shields. However, true to his name, he was too fast. He dove out of the way and threw an EMP grenade at the turrets, deactivating all of them in one static blast. “Problem solved.” Sprinter announced. “Good, Sprinter, now let’s get moving. They know we’re here now, so it doesn’t matter if we make noise or not. Go loud if you must!” Overlord barked, as they stomped out of the living room and down a hallway that looked eerily haunted, like something out of a horror movie, it was just…creepy. Outwardly, there was nothing wrong here. It was just an elegantly carpeted hallway, with lights along the white, wooden walls. “It feels like that time when were took a tour of that Horror House back in London. Wizard Espiñola, right? He even gives me the creeps…” “You’re right, be careful, I’m surprised if we don’t run into trouble…or some kind of ambush.” At those words, Blizzard Team reached the end of the hall to a door and opened it.
“Where are we? A fun house?” Crackshot joked. “Why, are you having fun?” a female voice said. “It’s Fern…” Overlord said, sternly. “This is the main ballroom of the Underground Palace, my converted NATO-base house. The house you tried to shoot me in was only a decoy. “Nice place you’ve got here…” Sprinter japed. Before Overlord could reprimand Sprinter, Fern interrupted. “Well, at least one of your grunting tin men has the decency to be a little bit respectful. Now, I’d kindly advise you to leave, before real Ascendancy wizards show up. Those “wizards” you shot weren’t real ones, they were just decoys! Do you really think that Ascendancy generals would be that easy to kill? Despite your training, you played right into my hands. “Bigger” isn’t always “better,”apparently the entire Coalition of Wizard Governments and the Draco-Wizard Alliance can’t even see that. Well, I have to leave now. I don’t need to negotiate with boneheads like you. Hee-hee.”Fern giggled, arrogantly.“Damn it, I want to shoot her in the face SO bad…” Tech jibed. “We need to keep-““You’re not going anywhere.” a very stern, deep voice grumbled. The Type-15s turned their heads around and saw none other than Praetor Bartholomew Bering and his troops, including the same 4 Generals that killed Radu, Veek and Eisner. “Hmmm…Type-15s, the CWG really put a lot of effort into this one, I must commend them on their efforts to eliminate Fern and her friends. However, Fern is correct in her assumptions. Size doesn’t guarantee success. You troopers are trained to destroy anything and to THINK that all things are capable of destruction via brute force.” Overlord raised his chain-gun and fired directly at Bering during his monologue, but Bering blocked the .30 caliber rounds easily with a magic shield spell. “With that outburst, you just confirmed what I just said about you. You can’t win, you’re lives are forfeit. Fern and her friends, as well as NATO and the Ascendancy will restore peace and order to North America, not some proletarian abyss or some jackbooted Empire run by darkness.” “Well, in that case, ‘Praetor,’ you are under arrest in the name of Marshal Roan!” “I don’t think so.” As Blizzard Team raised their weapons, Bering and his four Generals drew their wands and fired an enormous static blast at the squad, it was a direct hit on all of them. Like a bowling ball hitting pins, the spell overloaded their shields and fried the circuitry in their “invincible” armor. They were thrown backwards into the far wall with an ear-splitting thud. The most invincible soldiering force on the planet, reduced to a pile of broken bodies and smoldering circuitry. “Well, that was easier than I thought…if that’s the best the CWG and the Draco-Wizard Alliance can do, then this should be relatively simple. If Fern wants to be in charge of North America, we need to make that happen, with the Ascendancy helping her, we need anyone with a plan to stop this madness.” “I still think this is a bad idea, do we really want to put such a young and naïve person in a position of power?” “That’s precisely why we must do this. Fern is young and naïve, controlling her shouldn’t be too difficult. Just as the Draco-Wizard Alliance used Genevieve as a puppet ruler, we shall use Fern to the same end. We’ve got an uphill battle ahead of us, and I think it’s going to get worse before it gets better.”
In Munich, a huge rally was taking place, with thousands upon thousands of European Federated States troops of all ranks, from black-armored SS to brown-unifomed SA, as well as standard soldiers in their winter uniforms, each one holding an MP-60 assault rifle. They came from all parts of Europe, all wearing the badge of the Winged Wolfsangel Cross, an Imperial Eagle holding the symbol in his talons. There were Wolfsangel flags everywhere. It was almost identical to the Nazi rallies in 1938, held in the same spot. Just then, Guggenberger stepped onto the huge podium, each with three Wolfsangel crosses flying behind him. He stood in front of the thousands of Federated States troops, lined up in neat infantry squares arranged in two rows, with a central walkway rimmed by huge torches the blazed in the cold winter sky. It had been nearly 6 months since the union of the Tempelritters and the Dragon Mages and now only Russia and China weren’t under the control of a wizard-run government. However, the Levant had fallen, and now Fascist and Turkish troops were goose-stepping through a ruined Jerusalem, with Turkish and Wolfsangel flags hanging over the Dome of the Rock, Bethlehem and the Wailing Wall. Now the next phase of the conquest of Russia could begin. Iran and Turkey were currently positioning themselves into a position where their enormous militaries could move across the Caspian and Black Seas, respectively, into Central Asia and Ukraine. Central Asia was a very large territory in Russia’s control, but it wasn’t heavily defended. Therefore, Iran could make a decisive strike across the Caspian Sea, most of the Russian Caspian Flotilla was engaged elsewhere, and would not anticipate an attack from that direction. Turkey would move into the Caucasus and Eastern Ukraine, boxing the Ukrainian troops in near Kiev and Nikolayev. Once Ukraine fell, the Turks and Iranians would travel up the Don and Volga Rivers, respectively, and meet the Federated States’ forces in Burgundy, after they took St. Petersburg. It was all coming into place now, and victory wasn’t far off. Guggenberger stepped up to the podium, along with the other Grand Wizards of the Tempelritters,Daisuke, Lily and Santiago, and raised his hand in salute. Just then, the SA Stormtroopers sounded their trumpets, carrying the rallying cry all over Munich. “HEIL!!! HEIL!!!” responded the great mass of soldiers raising their hands in response. The flag-bearers, carrying hundreds of flags, unfurled the banner of the Wolfsangel and the Iron Cross, and marched forward, a gigantic column of marching feet that shook the ground as they walked; they then stopped short at the foot of the enormous podium tower, atop which the four Grand Wizards stood. The flag-bearers performed a uniform about-face, and Guggenberger began speaking.
Today, we speak of nations being either civilized or uncivilized. However, that is only an uneducated response to an age-old question: What defines a “civilized” nation? It is scientific progress. Any type of inhibition to a society’s progress is its undoing. In the United States’ case, it was over-piety and religious fanaticism. In Rome’s case, it was inability to keep up with military tactics to defeat the Huns and Visigoths. In the Dutch Republic’s case, it was an inability to maintain financial parity with Britain. Spain fell because of imperial overstretch, as did Britain. The USSR broke because of industrial languishment and economic stagnation. All of these nations have one thing in common: they fell out of power because of their inability to modernize to meet new challenges. However, we stand at a crossroads on this day. Our civilization is now at the gates of a new era, one that will usher in a new reign of progress, peace, happiness and love for all! There will be no more broken hearts, no more religious wars, no more death, fear, hate or envy! We shall focus upon our progress and technology exclusively, we will lead the world into a golden age of splendor, grandeur and the drama of the human condition! For this, we must embrace the concept of progress, and leave all who impede it behind!! May we live forevermore!!!” Guggenberger concluded his speech by flailing his arms in the air and screaming. At the conclusion of his speech, everyone in the entire city cheered and saluted in a thundering chorus of “HEIL!!! HEIL!!! HEIL!!!!” Then, the military parade began. Even in a state of war, the European United European military and economy were so colossal that there were still more reserve troops than needed. Everyone had their role in society, the promise of Arbeit, Freiheit und Brot, or “Work, Freedom and Bread” had kept the unemployment rate at 1.9%. The people were happy, but they were constantly under the surveillance of the government agents, or Gestapo, another recycled term from the 1930’s and 40’s. The parade continued to grow in splendor, as the enormous Panzer Mk.VIII “Kollosus” MBTs and “Hummel” artillery tanks, 200 and 110 tons in weight, respectively, rolled through, their treads clattering on the stone pathways with crews of soldiers riding on the tanks, giving the salute to the Reich and the Federated States. Huge drop-ships, such as the enormous VTOL transport planes, VTOL gunships, and the terrifying Bhlom and Voss B-500 bombers, roared overhead as the titan “pounder” tanks rolled through, not to mention the Me-400s streaking overhead. There was patriotic music blasting in the background, and announcers broadcasting the parade’s events in German and various other European languages. As the Grand Wizards of the CWG stood on the podium, an assistant handed Guggenberger a message:
Guggenberger’s closed eyes, always closed to avoid killing anyone, had they opened, would have been blind with rage. Apparently, the Ascendancy was helping Fern and her two friends to undermine the authority of Santiago’s proxy ruler, Roan, in North America, now called New Spain. They were likely attempting to try to use Fern as a puppet ruler in the same way he used Genevieve to bring the NORTH AMERICA government down. This made the goals crystal-clear. Geldern Abbey needed to be destroyed, and the City of Knowledge also needed to be eliminated. With this emergent threat, it was imperative that all possible weaknesses in the CWG be addressed. However, Guggenberger was so confident that victory was at hand that he had designated the territories that the Grand Wizards would rule. Daisuke would rule Russia, with Felreen and Lily being proxy rulers of Japan and Russia, respectively, under Daisuke’s directive, Japan, China, Mongolia, Korea, Vietnam and all of Southeast Asia would be under his control. Guggenberger would rule Europe and the Overseas Territories, and Santiago would preside over the entire CWG military, even though he was quite bitter over the fact that Daisuke didn’t pick him to rule New Spain. However, his desire to be identified as a Conquistador was being fulfilled. It was decided that he was to be the commander of the assault on the City of Knowledge, once Geldern Abbey had been destroyed. Santiago would also lead that assault as well, which was in the process of being formulated by Federated States intelligence officers. Geldern Abbey’s location was known only to the wizards, the Federated States’ army was not aware of the Abbey’s existence. However, they would be instrumental to the assault. There weren’t many defenders for the City, and the Knowledge Sorcerers weren’t very powerful compared to the Tempelritters. Not to mention, the Dragon Mages were even more powerful; Before the force departed to destroy the City of Knowledge, none other than Supreme Wizard and Inheritor of the Mantle Daisuke Morimoto would lead a group of his most elite guards and soldiers to Geldern Abbey and obliterate it, hopefully eliminating Praetor Bering in the process, if it was anyone who could kill him, it would be Daisuke. 20 years prior, there was a conflict between then-Head Praetor Hadrian Menelaus and then-High Wizard Mikhail Tokarev, in a final duel to the death, Menelaus slew Tokarev and sent the Tempelritters into hiding. The Tempelritters were formed in the Haze Realm in the 13th century, and had made occasional forays into the human world, including an attempt to raise the Darkness in the 19thcentury and the many wars with the Ascendancy in the Haze Realm, beyond human knowledge…until now. Daisuke was the Lord of 10,000 Years, the prophesized Grand Leader, and the inheritor of more than 10,000 years of mighty Dark Magic tradition that would bring the Dragon Mages, a much older order, and the Tempelritters to rule over both realms, the Human and Haze Realms. After this war finally ended, Morimoto would control more than any other being, ever. His empire would cover two universes. 2043 would be the first year of the Morimoto era. However, he had some unfinished business to take care of, and it was rather personal. As the parade wound down, he prepared to depart for the small town of Klaipeda, in the dark forests of Eastern Europe.
Final Goodbye
As Daisuke teleported out of the Teleportation Medium, he stood on the banks of the Klaipeda River, one of the sites of several Eastern European conflicts in history, including the Battle of Poltava, Hitler’s conquests in the Baltic, and Poland’s defeat of the Teutonic Knights. However, as he crossed the bridge over the perpetually misty Klaipeda region of Lithuania, a territory of the Federated States and now played host to a huge Federated States troop presence, as the front was only 70 miles away, and the European forces were heavily engaged with Russian troops, with neither side giving any ground, in 6 weeks, the front had moved only 5 miles towards St. Petersburg, Because of Belarus and Ukraine’s position, they were able to block most of the European advance, despite constant hypersonic missile strikes from European Navy missile frigates and huge battlecruisers, not to mention the Me-400s popping out of the North Sea like flowers from the dirt after a spring rain. The North Atlantic Theater of War focused around the GIUK gap, with huge Russian and European ships battling it out in the Denmark Straits and the North Sea, the Shipbuilder’s Guild in the Netherlands was cranking out ship after ship, and the factories churned out plane after plane, tank after tank, weapon after weapon. The Herculean military industrial complex, even larger than the North American one, was in overdrive; this was total war at its grandest scale. Not since the days of the Roman Empire had Europe been so proficient in war-making. Even though Russia was able to build ships, planes and tanks, its industrial complex was only 40% that of Europe. It couldn’t keep this type of production up much longer, especially because of constant hypersonic missile bombardment onto known Russian ports, factories and energy plants. Russia could only launch 5 missiles every hour, but Europe could launch 200; not to mention the fact that the more Russian factories were destroyed, the fewer missiles they could build, only worsening the cycle. Russia was going to break eventually, especially with the Iranians and the Turks storming into eastern Ukraine and Central Asia. Russia’s vast size was burying itself alive. Daisuke thought about this as he walked into the woods and down the misty road, he was going to visit an old companion, and hoped that things would turn out well, as they hadn’t in the past, to say the least. As he walked down the path through the forest, animal life could sense his overwhelming evil. Small animals, such as chipmunks and mice fled as he approached, owls stopped hooting, and even a shy pack of gray wolves ran away with their tails between their legs, whimpering as if terrified of his evil energies. As he approached huge log cabin in the woods, he marveled at the size of the place. It was huge, just as splendid as any mansion, with a huge, ancient, 1,500 year old oak tree in the clearing that served as the yard, a wooden façade and a roof that was covered in moss. There was a car in the driveway, and a light on in the house as well. Daisuke walked up the steps and knocked on the huge door. “Coming.” a very sweet-sounding voice responded. She opened the door and set eyes upon the archfiend wizard that stood in front of her. Her eyes widened upon realization of who this man was…but then she calmed down. “Oh…it’s you. Come in, we have a lot to talk about.” the young woman said. She sat down with her two cats, and allowed Daisuke to sit in the huge seat in front of the couch, facing the couch with the fire burning in the background in the fireplace. “So, what brings you back to these woods?” the young woman asked. “Well…I needed to speak with you.” “Well, if that’s all you wanted, I don’t have much to say. You’ve proven yourself to be a truly horrendous monster, and you will eventually answer for your crimes. But what do you need?” “Hmmm…it appears that you despise my Empire and my personality, but you don’t make me leave. I sense a conflict within your mind. Your heart tells you to let me stay, but logic assumes the obvious: I’m a hostile wizard Emperor in your house, and you want me out, but in at the same time.” “There is no conflict here! If you think that I have any feelings left for you, then you are sorely mistaken.” “But then, what is “conflict?” It is too broad a term, so you aren’t being specific enough. Tell me, what is really going on here?” Daisuke pressured, with his eyes shifting towards an old wooden chest on the bookshelf adjacent to the fireplace. “I’m not telling you! It’s none of your business!” “I am Emperor of the Draco-Wizard Alliance, EVERYTHING is my business!” Daisuke snapped, with an evil hiss that scared the two cats away. “No, it’s not! That’s why I was always so afraid of you! You never respected boundaries, and I told you to give me a little space, but you…you…took it out on my helpless baby brother!!” The young woman began to cry at the thought. “Oh, poor James…such a cute little toddler…If only he could see how far along you’ve come in the past 6 years…he’d be 9 by now.” Daisuke taunted. He was only trying to pour salt into the open wound. Eventually, the young woman couldn’t take it. She screamed and attempted to throw a chair at Daisuke, but Daisuke grabbed the young woman by the throat and began to strangle her. After about 5 seconds, she fell unconscious, barely breathing. Holding her by the neck in front of his stoic, fiendish glare, he activated his wrist-gauntlet blades, huge, steel knives that were sheathed in his gauntlets themselves. He swung them, and slashed the woman’s face clean off. Blood flew everywhere, staining the carpets red with rotten glut and gore, including on Daisuke’s face. Throwing the body of the woman to the ground, Daisuke, his face covered with blood, began to cackle maniacally like a demon from Hell for a good minute, the house was plagued by his evil laughter; he walked over to the wooden chest and opened it, inside was the very thing he had been searching for all this time: the Third Icon! It looked like a gigantic sapphire, as blue as the sky itself. Between the one already in Draco-Wizard Alliance hands, the one in Ascendancy hands and now this one, three locations were now known. However, before he left, he looked around her house, careful not to kick the body around too much. He found a photo album titled “My Strange but Sweet Life.” There were photographs of her when she was a very little girl, riding her bike for the first time at age 5, and then every page corresponded with another year of her life, up until age 22, where she lay, dead at his feet. Her senior prom, her first day of university, her summers on the beach, her choir performances, her friends on the cruise she took across the Atlantic on one of the grandest ships in the world just before the wizard invasion, and the crowning picture of the album, a picture of her, beautiful as can be, standing on a stage, smiling and holding an award for winning an international vocals competition in front of more than 12,000 people clapping in Radio City Music Hall, and, the most recent entry was from just the previous week, her fiancée was standing next to her, and was getting married the following month…Daisuke threw the precious photo memories into the fire with a very hateful growl. He looked at the body, and then performed a spell, trapping her soul in a music box, forever. He took the music box as a souvenir. As he left the house for good, he said:
Parallel hearts never cross, but they’re always close-by.”
However, just as Daisuke, who had a lazy eye and therefore could move it in an independent fashion, turned to walk down the hallway towards the back door to exit the house, he heard someone walk in…and scream upon looking at the eviscerated corpse of the young woman. “Well then, looks like we need to turn this place into a fun house of sorts…” Daisuke teleported out of the house and onto the hill that overlooked the house. “May the beings of the light, see their might, may the beings of the dark come out tonight!!” Suddenly a huge cloud of black fog appeared from the tip of Daisuke’s wand, drawn from the holster on his belt, and it began to envelop the land around the house, and all through the Klaipeda region, where he could see the town of Klaipeda in the distance, its lights shining brightly in the night. Just then, the fog passed over the river, and ghosts, ghosts of the dead, began to rise from the earth, creeping forth from the depths of Hell itself. Out of the river came anguished-faced women with tattered clothes, skeletal Teutonic Knights riding demonic, skeletal horses, and decrepit, moaning WWII-era ghosts, both German and Russian. As the fog raced across the land, more and more ghosts began their inexorable flight to the sky over the hill. As the fog rolled into Klaipeda, a huge army of souls flew through the night sky, moaning, howling, yowling and scowling around in a huge tornado of evil energies, with Daisuke controlling their movements with his wand like a conductor conducts an orchestra. Daisuke’s eyes were blood-red with evil, and it wasn’t just the spirits being raised. The ominous, foul wind that raised the spirits also animated the trees and plants, giving them anguished, moaning faces and causing them to sway back and forth in a menacing fashion. Now that the Dark Spirit Army had been raised…it was time to attack. Daisuke pointed his wand at the town, and the spirits roared off in that direction…followed by hundreds of screams as the little town was slaughtered by the dead, and anyone trying to escape was eaten or killed by some hideously animated inanimate object, like a bush, tree or car. Other Draco-Wizard Alliance soldiers practiced voodoo and some elements of necromancy; Daisuke was the supreme master of life manipulation, followed by Dragon Master Mar of Lucifer. After about 15 minutes, the whole mission was complete. As if conducting an orchestra, Daisuke stopped moving his wand, and forcefully pointed to the ground. The foul wind stopped, the inanimate objects returned to their inanimate state, and the ghosts vanished, leaving 5,000 people dead.
Daisuke re-entered the Teleportation Medium, and vanished, his mission complete, and a personal vendetta settled. Now, he was ready to concentrate on massing his forces for an assault on Geldern Abbey, which, now fully mapped out by Guggenberger’s SS commandos, and a sufficient force of soldiers and wizards should be able to overrun Geldern Abbey with relative ease. Now that Daisuke had taken the Third Icon, he was ready to lead his troops, as the Lord of 10,000 Years, to vengeance over the Ascendancy.
Deus Es MaChina
As Daisuke arrived back in Munich, the parade was already over, but a great battle was ahead. It was one that would pit Daisuke against his biggest rival, the only man that could legitimately stand a chance against him: Bartholomew Bering, the Head Praetor. He had to make sure that the Ascendancy didn’t find out that the Draco-Wizard Alliance was planning a direct attack on the heart of the Light Wizard Order. However, that wasn’t going to be an issue. Bering’s overconfidence in his ability to fortify the Abbey from the Draco-Wizard Alliance would be his undoing. He believed that the dark wizards would stay away from the Abbey, lest they face too much resistance. In short, Bering thought of himself as invincible. Daisuke would show him otherwise. He entered the Reichstagbuilding and entered the broadcast room. The propaganda broadcast team inside immediately saluted and stepped aside without question. He would be the Pope Urban II to the people of Europe, for one last Crusade. Daisuke stepped up to the microphone as the “on air” light flashed three times. The T.V. broadcast cameras focused on him:
To all citizens of the Federated States, I am Daisuke Morimoto, a simple man like you. We, as human beings share a common destiny, we have ever since the first individual of our modern species crept forth from Africa. That destiny drove us to build civilization, it drove us to build nations, it drove us to create government, and it drove us to place capable leaders in power. As a member of the human race itself, I ask you one simple favor. Our destiny as human beings is to move forward; therefore we must eliminate all who impede our progress. An alliance of humanity is growing between our species, as of now, crime rate is down 80%, and heretical religions are within a hair’s breadth of being eliminated. It was not one man who did this; it was everyone, every loyal follower of the cause that I and my comrades have promoted. If you want to see who can change the world, you only need to look in a mirror. I changed the way people thought and brought stability to an embattled world. The war will soon end, and with that will come a new dawn, a new era of peace, security and love. I will be the guide of humanity; I am society’s Messiah! I ask only one thing of you. My armies are preparing for an assault on the last stronghold of resistance to our Glorious Revolution, but we can’t do it alone. Every man, woman and child is advised to take up arms and join my troops in a Fifth and final Crusade. Society and progress demand it. With the conclusion of this speech, we will all be in a new regime, a new regime of peace, justice and happiness. We need to defend our honor, dignity and intellect against those that have none, and we must be willing to fight for it. We will forge a pan-Asian Empire that cares for everyone, everything and everybody. For those who have no desire to fight, I cannot use you. However, for those optimists who value peace, love and happiness above all else, you will carry the fight this day! For we must do…or DIE!!”
The broadcast ended.
If it was one thing that Daisuke could do well, it was sway the masses to his cause. He could imagine the thousands of people, from poor, downtrodden beggars to wealthy young people that shopped at the designer clothes stores simply taking his words as law. After all, that speech was broadcast on every television in Europe. There was now no distinction between fear and reverence, everyone from all social classes, old and young, would rise up in arms as if Daisuke’s words were the words of God himself. He expected a huge turnout for his revolution. This was it. The Ascendancy’s days were numbered. Bering would be caught off guard; without his leadership, the Ascendancy would quickly crack by will of the people and the Draco-Wizard Alliance.
All over Europe, the events were playing out just as Daisuke envisioned. Everyone with a gun in Europe was volunteering to fight in Daisuke’s revolution. The conscription centers throughout Europe were overwhelmed, with German European Commissars having to turn people away from signing up. Once they signed up, they were given some military training, enough to make them proficient with necessary weapons such as grenades and guns, as well as receiving a standard Wehrmacht uniform, with a special patch that identified them as the “German Europe Paramilitary Force.” Women received a blood-red uniform and a matching beret, as well as a cape and robe for such events as parades; men received a green and orange dress robe for special events as well. The actual enlisted personnel would lead squads of paramilitary troops; with the creation of the Paramilitary Force, combined with the standard soldiers, the SA and the SS, the Federated States had more than 18 million troops ready to go. People from all walks of life, bankers, bakers, lawyers, students from high schools and colleges, doctors, accountants and even some professional athletes joined the Paramilitary Force in the name of the Messiah, which many people believed, regardless of the current purges of Christians, at least known Christians, to be the Second Coming of the Messiah. Just as many scholars, however, disagreed. After all, Daisuke was a member of the Draco-Wizard Alliance, and they generally hated monotheistic religions; however, believers and followers of Daisuke assumed that those he punished weren’t true followers of Christ. Within the next three weeks, the invasion force would be ready. However, the Draco-Wizard Alliance had a few loose ends to cover in that time.
Broken Dragon
The final push to Fujing was in sight. Japanese troops had already secured Seoul, defeating the United Korean Republic in less than 7 months, but only with New Spain’s help. The enormous aircraft carriers used by New Spain launched more than 300 planes per hour, not to mention massive hypersonic missile strikes on critical areas in the Seoul and Pyongyang areas, securing the reality that most people knew from the start: China was doomed. Now, Japan and its massive military-industrial complex was bearing down on Fujing, already decimated by brutal hypersonic missile strikes from both New Spain and Japanese ships, as well as land-based launch facilities. Now New Spanish Army troops, giving orders in both Spanish and English, stormed ashore near Shanghai, past an old hotel mansion, long since abandoned by its owners and had fallen into disrepair, as the people who maintained it were likely dead by that point. The soldiers, charging up the beach from their amphibious warfare vessels, barely stopped to read the burning sign: OSBORN HOUSE, 1 KM. However, their attention was soon turned to the old mansion, when RPG fire began streaking out of the busted windows from Chinese defenders. Explosions began to pockmark the beach like Swiss cheese, killing a few of the New Spanish troops, but few men were lost in this landing, thanks to superior technology. However, the Osborn House defenders were a major threat to the landings further down the beach. Under orders from his CO, the75th Ranger Regiment’s snipers took position behind some rocks on the beach; ducking low to avoid artillery fire, they aimed their sniper rifles at the defenders’ heads, and popped a few shots at the rocket men. “Targets neutralized.” one of them said. However, his kills were nothing compared to the squads of Type-15s cracking skulls in Shanghai proper. Just then, a friendly Predator UAV drone buzzed overhead, and the soldiers’ HUD was updated with new objectives: the drone had spotted a large group of enemies in the Osborn House itself, but automated AA guns made it impossible to make an air strike, even by hypersonic aircraft. The squad would have to enter the house by itself, clean out every tango inside and blow it all to hell.The squad kept moving down the beach towards the Osborn House entrance, with covering rail-gun fire from the ships in the bay, huge rail projectiles, flying at hypersonic speed, slammed into the beach defenses as the soldiers advanced; they were careful to avoid falling rocks and explosions from the rail-gun shots, as the splash damage from the projectiles was immense. However, this meant that the enemies would be hit from very far away. For some reason, the rail-guns weren’t firing at the Osborn House itself. The soldiers advanced past the lagoon, surrounded by stone boulders; and the sea was stained red with blood. One of the soldiers could barely make out signatures carved on the rock, with three “Morina” signatures and one “Sven Vanderwall,” now the owner of one of the shipyards under the jurisdiction of the Shipbuilder’s Guild of the German United Europe. The rest of the names were totally illegible. It was just as well, but even the New Spanish troops could feel an overwhelming sense of loss and sadness here. It was as if the ghosts of the building’s glorious past cried out for recognition. Lamentations aside, the soldiers had a job to do. The dock leading up to the staircase to the building’s promenade was heavily defended, and Chinese troops were firing anti-infantry rounds at the squad of Rangers, this regiment went back even before WWII. They were too accurate, however, using the extremely complex weapons systems available to them; they were able to hit targets as effectively with a rifle as they were with a precision guided bomb dropped from an airplane or a hypersonic missile. Precision, not annihilation, was the name of the game now, though; as a result of this super-advanced technology used amongst the wizard-controlled nations, deriving this technology from as of yet-unidentified secret bases, wars had become even more lethal. Far from bringing an end to total war, as many predicted this technology would, it actually made it worse. The same thing was thought before WWI; the fact that advanced weaponry makes wars not only longer but bloodier was a well-known fact. Technology changed. Soldiers didn’t. Nevertheless, the technology used by New Spain was now the most advanced in the world, even as far as the wizard-nations went. The Rangers fired their weapons at the Chinese, still using outdated “spray and pray” firearms that were highly inaccurate, knocking them all out with just a few shots. “Tangos down, keep moving!” the Rangers yelled as they stormed up the patio stairs, the wooden structures pockmarked with bullet holes. The climbed low to avoid fire coming from the road leading up to the Osborn House, with the man on point carrying a shotgun for any CQB encounters that may occur, the M-900 Combat Shotgun was an automatic shotgun that could carry 25 rounds. The soldier that was carrying it also wore CQB, or Close Quarters Battle armor, heavier and more robust than the other troops’ armor. Once they reached the top of staircase, they spread out, watching their corners. Then then entered the building into the Grand Ballroom; with its windows completely blown out, the roar of battle penetrating the vast interior of the building, chunks of concrete and porcelain statues broken and crushed to dust. “COVER THOSE WINDOWS!!” one of the Rangers yelled, just as an explosion rocked the entire building, causing more concrete to fall. The group of soldiers walked into the Main Hall, which was in even worse shape than the Ballroom. The lights were flickering, there were live wires everywhere, sparking dangerously near pools of water on the floor from ruptured plumbing lines, the beautiful murals and frescos that adorned the walls and ceilings of the Osborn House were chipped, broken and riddled with holes, and were barely visible in the low light levels, with the constant noises from explosions outside shaking the building, the second-floor balconies were crumbling down to the first floor, raising the ugly possibility of the entire structure collapsing, the centuries-old building was becoming rather unstable. It was bizarre, as there were no enemies in the entire building so far…however that quickly changed upon the entry of a squad of Chinese troops. “No tangos! You had to open your big mouth!” one of the Rangers barked as they took shelter behind fallen pillars of stone and splintered wooden tables. “Cover here’s fucking awful!!” one of the soldiers yelled. Nevertheless, the Rangers fought like hell to secure the Main Hall, with Ranger snipers on the crumbling balconies sniping enemies that approached the Rangers’ position. “All tangos eliminated. Move up!” the platoon leader barked as the soldiers stormed into the next room, which was a hallway that was lined with ornate lamps on small tables outside the doors. The carpet was a deep burgundy color, but the wall was ridden with bullet holes as well; anti-armor rounds. The shotgun man took point again, and not a moment too soon, as an enemy popped out of a room in ambush, but the shotgun man fired a slug right into his gut. “Tango down.” the soldier said. The troops entered the room and found the lights sparking and flickering, as well as the object they were sent to find: the DARK book for Johann Guggenberger. It had ended up in the Osborn House, alongside the body of Russian Head of State Spitenyev. The book’s power was real; anyone except its original owner or one of dark-magic talent who touched it would be drawn to the place from whence it came: the Osborn House, the Emergence Site of the Tempelritters, Dragon Mages and their unified force, the Draco-Wizard Alliance. Nicholas Eisner, though slain, as Mansion Lord of the Osborn House and vanguard of the invasion under Daisuke’s grand plan, had paved the path to glory and had led the invasion full circle. The office they stood in was where Eisner, long considered “creepy” by the Osborn House’s residents, conducted his experiments with alchemy as Mansion Lord. One of the soldiers picked the book up and placed it carefully into a supply package. “This is Ranger Regiment 75, Brigade 12! We’ve got it!” “Good work! The Chinese are in full retreat. Dragon Master Mar of Lucifer is almost completely in control of the center city of Fujing. China is ours. Nice work, gentlemen.” That was it. Surrounded on all sides by wizard-controlled or wizard-allied nations, Russia prepared for one, final fight to the finish. Without Spitenyev, however, Russia’s leadership would be severely compromised. Iran had already surged into the Hindu Kush and blasted across the Caspian Sea into the Black Sea region near Sevastopol. The Russian forces were putting up a hell of a fight there, but with Turkey gradually overrunning Ukraine and the Federated States’ troops conquest of the Baltics, this was the Draco-Wizard Alliance’s endgame. However, in the Haze Realm, the dark wizards were on the hunt of an even greater threat to their plans.
46. Silpheed
Sam and Constantine looked up at the gigantic flying galley ship; the “oars” were wings, and the ship was made of beautifully painted wood with designs upon it. However as they boarded the ship, one of the sailors warned them of a peril ahead. “There’s a high-level Dragon Mage Arch-Fiend witch that lives in this area, her name is Malleus Malificarum; “Witch Hammer.” She is one of the most powerful of beings, maybe even more than Daisuke Morimoto. She leads the Dragon Mage Order, as Morimoto leads the Tempelritters. “Great…What does she look like?” Sam asked. “She stands 15 feet tall, has ghostly, white skin, huge, green snake-like eyes, carries and enormous scepter with the head of a demon on top of it, she can take many forms, from a giant screaming owl to a horrid black fog with glowing green eyes; she is a true master of all dark magic styles, and she has an enormous black robe and dress. She waits in the forest, taking any passers-by to oblivion.” “Sounds lovely…” Constantine groaned. “Also, we are aware that you’re wanted individuals; the Draco-Wizard Alliance has posted a death warrant for you. This means she’s going to be looking for you.” “Well, this keeps getting better and better…it’s just like the Brothers Grimm stories. I mean, we go into the woods, through a spooky forest, try to avoid a witch and destroy a dark kingdom. What’s next, a princess in a tower?!” “Quiet, Constantine, we aren’t actually walking into the woods, we’re flying over them.” “Oh, that’s a relief.” “The Xaati troops are going to stay behind in Solemn Town, so that the Tempelritters or Dragon Mages can’t destroy the town. The Xaati are experienced in fighting wizards, and they will be able to fend off most of the threats; that is if Malleus Malificarum doesn’t show up, as she probably knows where you are; not even an entire army of Xaati can stop her. After all, they tried before. 9000 years ago in the human realm, the Xaati had a vast Empire in the far North, where Russia is now, but the Dragon Mages, led by the immortal-to-ageing Malificarum obliterated the society, and for the past 9 millennia, the sorcerers have intervened in many conflicts, such as the wars of Rome, and infiltrated areas of Earth. Now they are on the verge of destroying your society in the same way they destroyed the Xaati. If all 5 Icons are assembled, the Second Coming of the Dragon Mage Order Archfiend will become reality, and she will rule all. Unless you succeed in reviving the Xaati and prevent the Draco-Wizard Alliance from taking the Icons, the sorcerers will kill us all. Upon Malleus’ return, all cities will be wiped clean; she shall walk amongst the people of the Earth as their eternal Master to the human slaves; and the Earth shall be turned into a Hell of smoke and ash, for this is the land of the Dark Kingdom of the Wizards, where the shadows, miasmas, and anguished souls, hostages to the Draco-Wizard Alliance lie…” “Hmmmm…sounds cheery…yeah.” Sam said, sarcastically. She didn’t even know if this huge flying ship was a safe thing to fly in with an Archfiend Witch lurking about. Nevertheless, the airship, called the Berea, was about to leave. “It’s about time you get aboard. It’s getting dark soon, and that heralds the “witching hour,” when the sorcerers are most likely to attack.” Sam and Constantine boarded the huge ship, and stepped up onto the deck underneath one of the enormous sails, and the mate gave the order to cast off. The ropes were untied, and the huge “feather oars” flapped once, generating a huge gust of wind on the ground, which knocked a few loose crates over, and then the Silpheed Kingdom’s flag was raised over the third mast, it looked like the Dutch navy flag, with three bands of orange, white and blue. The ship began to gain altitude, and they were off, with the enormous feather oars flapping in rhythm. It was quite windy on the top deck; Sam looked around and saw the crew busily working; along with several soldiers; Marines, they were the ship’s personal guard, they defended the ship from enemy attacks. The sun was setting, and Sam had never seen such a breathtaking spectacle; the sun, a giant orange ball of flame shot massive beams of noctilucence, setting the sky ablaze with purples, reds, yellows and oranges. Several of the Marines began playing tunes on fiddles to celebrate the end of the day. The Silpheed Kingdom was a trade empire, as well as an aggressive naval power, occasionally engaging in huge naval battles in the sky with the other rival trade empire, the Otus Empire. Both Empires had huge trading posts all over the Haze Realm, even limited trade presence in the Dark Kingdom. Sam and Constantine were riding on a huge Silpheed frigate, hence the huge cannons on the ship’s broadside and the large contingent of Marines and Bluecoat Honor Guard, both armed with rifles and grenades. The Kingdom of Silpheed was the richest nation in the Haze Realm, and the vastest colonial Empire, with its ships ruling the sky lanes. The Otus were very powerful as well, but the Silpheeds were so wealthy and powerful that it was disgusting to the Kokki and Otus Empires. Artists, scientists, lawyers, composers and authors all flocked to Silpheed, the kingdom famous for its romanticism. Its standing army was immense, second only to the Kokki, but the Kokki were barely even a nation in the Silpheed sense, they were more like a kingdom where one man held power in theory, but regional leaders made their own rules, so it was an internally divided state, not exactly a situation conducive to dominance. The Silpheed Kingdom was at a pinnacle of power, and it ruled the skies. As the sun set and the stars came out over the forests below, Sam and Constantine began to lament on their time together. “This reminds me of that time when we went to the park in Burgundy, looked up at the harvest moon, and…” Just as Konstantin was about to kiss her, the romantic moment was interrupted by a group of sailors playing a loud, annoying accordion and a fiddle. As the ship continued through the sky, the peaceful sound of the wind whipping through the sails and the huge feather oars was replaced by an evil moaning coming from the forest below. “I don’t like the sound of that…” Sam mumbled. The other sailors heard it too, and some grabbed their guns, ready to fight. Just then, the forest on the horizon began to swell and shiver, as a huge, black blob of something began to emerge from the depths of the dark woods, it became taller and taller until it stood like a monolith…of demonic evil. Two hideous, glaring, pupil-less yellow eyes appeared as the huge monster spread its bird-like wings, which had been covering its face. It looked like a hideous, drooling owl-demon, a being of pure darkness. “It’s Malleus!!!” one of the Marines yelled. “Load the guns!” one of the officers barked, the bell was rung three times, summoning all hands to the deck, they manned the cannons, preparing to fight, however futile it may be. Sam drew her sword and was prepared to fight against this “Archfiend Witch,” or whoever it was. The demon saw the ship flying, and its hideous eyes turned to focus on Sam: the witch had found her target. Just then, the demon vanished in a black fog…only to appear on the stern of the ship in her human form. She looked just like the loadmaster on the dock described her as, except she was surrounded by 7 smaller, moaning miasmas, each one representing one of the 7 Deadly Sins, and sickly, green radioactive fire was burning molten holes in the deck.” “So we meet again, soldier of justice…I must say, you’re a bit scrawny to be the new Red Woman!” Malleus taunted. Sam drew her sword and pointed it at Malleus’ head. “Stand aside, Red Woman, let me handle this.” An elderly voice appeared from behind Sam and Constantine. It was a very tall sorcerer, with an orange, black and red robe, a scepter of light and long, white hair. He exuded a peaceful aura, and he had the very feel of autumn to Konstantin. “NO! YOU CANNOT INTERFERE! THIS IS MY FIGHT, KING OF AUTUMN LEAVES!!!” Malleus screeched. “No matter how much you scream and howl, Malleus, I will not let you impede Samantha the Red Woman’s progress.” “Very well, if you wish to battle, then you will face me, and all the powers of HELL!!!!” Malleus screeched as she transformed into the huge, slobbering owl demon again, and letting out a blood-curdling battle-cry. Not to be outdone, the Holy Mage of Autumn transformed into a burning phoenix!! “He’s a Gaia-Kami!!!” the Silpheed sailors gasped. “Not just any, he’s the Pyrodactyl!!!” The two massive bird-form sorcerers squared off like WWI fighter pilots, each trying to get a height advantage over the other, and then they struck. The Holy Mage of Autumn, one of the 7 Immortal Seasons, twin heads opened its mouth and launched a huge burst of flaming energy, screaming as they did so, nailing Malleus clean in the stomach. “Her magic is no match for a Gaia-Kami!! He’s buying us time!” Constantine shouted as the Silpheed sailors flew faster than they thought possible. Sam watched as the Pyrodactyl form-Immortal Season Sorcerer continued to pummel Malleus every single time she tried to get up. “Stupid Dragon Mage…” Sam sneered. “Nothing can stop a Gaia-Kami.” The Silpheed ship quickly escaped while the Holy Mage of Autumn bought them time. “That was close…” one of the sailors said in his heavy Silpheed accent, which sounded like Dutch. The ship was almost there, as the outlying areas of the Silpheed Kingdom’s capital, “Aoria,” were becoming visible. The architecture was very similar to a cross between Slavic onion-top designs and German Gothic styles, creating a strangely imposing yet beautifully designed city. In the center of Aoria, of which the true vista was becoming apparent, with its Kremlin-like buildings and Gothic architecture, it looked like a medieval town, sat an enormous cathedral, it was so colossal that it was almost a city in itself. Sam stared at the vista in awe. She had never seen anything like it. “That’s the Cathedral of Joyous Exaltation and Compunction, where we honor those in love and those that have died and left loved ones behind. Silpheed is known as the Kingdom of Love and Happiness. However, I should warn you that not all has been well here as of late.” “Great…what now?” Sam groaned, already sick of the Haze Realm and its bizarre idiosyncrasies. “Well, we’ve played witness to a terrible feud between a group of young men, led by an individual named Night Pasha, and his gang of incredibly wealthy comrades in arms, and a gaggle of young, beautiful and elegantly dressed women, led by a girl named Anna Celeste. Apparently, Night and Anna were in love at one point in high school, but then something happened, and ever since then, they’ve been trying to kill each other and their respective followers have taken over several parts of the city of Aoria. The detail that complicates the issue is that they’re all Hobgoblin Tamers, and Night has now come into possession of the most powerful of all Hobgoblins: the Imperial King Dragoon, a massive, 6-headed hydra with each head representing an emotion: jealousy, anger, sadness, joy, hate, and love. Its wings are massive; it is nearly as powerful as a Gaia-Kami. With this power, Anna‘s gang has no chance…however, Anna is a suspected Tempelritter, albeit an incredibly beautiful one. No one could ever expect that her pretty brown hair, pale, delicate face and skin, pretty smile, blue eyes, and gorgeous figure and outfits belie a truly evil power…except Pasha. He has known her for more than 8 years by this point, and has never once had a pleasant encounter with her since their break-up. Instead of simply moving on, the two gangs have been fighting…it is indeed a glorious fight…for the city and for Comrade Night Pasha!” “Wait a second! Don’t tell me you-“I’m surprised you figured this out. This ship is crewed by members of Pasha’s “Hammer Army.” We can’t have you, the legendary heroine, running around here, Anna is ours to kill! Not yours!” the crewman said as he pulled out a pistol…and immediately keeled over from a sword in his gut, bleeding all over the deck. She kicked the gun over the railing on the ship. “Anyone else?” Sam taunted, in a challenge. The rest of the crew, armed with assault rifles began firing full-automatic at Sam, she calmly raised her sword and deflected every bullet; such were her skills with a sword that she was quick enough to deflect assault rifle fire, along with her titanium-alloy sword, immune to bullets. Then, the machine gunners dropped dead from their own shots: they had been deflected back at them by the sword. With his crew dead, the captain had no choice but to engage Sam directly in sword combat. The captain was a young man, about Sam’s age, his epaulets and uniform came from a stolen officer’s uniform, and he even had pilfered medals for extra authenticity. “Well then, ‘Red Woman,’ it looks like it’s just you and me. I really can’t see how you became such a success. How lies have fed your legend…Your techniques are nothing special, I can block bullets too, and your form is horrendous. I also graduated as valedictorian of the Silpheed Swordmaster’s academy, and invented many new techniques. That is, if we’re just throwing around credentials. You are a fraud, and anyone who follows you is an idiot in the nth degree. If you ask me, I should be the savior of the Haze and Human Realms…not you.” the captain gloated. “Well, Captain, and I use that term lightly, it appears that you’re rather insecure about your own abilities. If you were so tough, why didn’t you kill me right then and there, instead of monologuing me for a full minute? How can you call me a fake, when you aren’t even a real captain?! You may be a swordmaster valedictorian, but I’m still the savior. By the way, you look like a frog on drugs, and your sword has a cross on it. Religion is a total farce.” “What…did you say, you atheist fuck?!” Sam found his soft spot. “God doesn’t exist, and anyone who follows religion is ignorant at best, dangerous at worst. You sound like a lunatic, an utter and complete lunatic…” The captain said nothing. He drew his cross-blade and held it in the ready position. “Let me ask you this: do you have any way to disprove the Bible?” “Yes…here’s how…” Using the Kab-Ba sword style, Sam vaulted 40 feet into the air, atop the mast of the ship, and landed right on the Captain’s head. The Captain countered with a vertical parry, but Sam kicked off of it and landed in her same spot with her sword at the ready as well. “WITCH!! WITCH!! WITCHCRAFT!!” the Captain yelled in shock and horror. “YOU ARE A DISCIPLE OF SATAN!! I SMITE THEE IN HIS NAME!! AUAUAUAUAUAUAAAAAAAAGHHHHHHH!!!” he screamed, so loud in a blind fit of rage. Sam jumped onto the mast and landed behind the Captain, but the Captain was truly as skilled as he said he was. He was able to parry every swing of her blade, no matter how many times she jump-attacked. The two of them fought brutally on a flying tall ship, reminiscent of a sword duel on a pirate ship. The clashing of blades echoed through the rising sun of the new day. Realizing that she couldn’t defeat the Captain quickly, she decided to play dirty. She cut the rigging holding a huge wooden beam over the Captain’s head causing to fall on him, breaking both of his legs with a sickening crack. “UULKLLLGGHH!” the Captain gargled in extreme pain. Sam walked over to the stricken Captain and pointed her sword at his head. “Where’s you pathetic Messiah now, huh?” “YOU CAN’T EVEN WIN A FAIR FIGHT!!! FUUUUUUCKKKKKK YOUUUUUUUUU!!!!!” the Captain screamed in his agony. “Ok, now where was I? Oh, yes…disproving the Bible!” Sam stabbed the Captain clear through the head. “One less Christian to worry about.” However, the predicament became apparent when Constantine, holding a gun, pointed out that the ship had no captain…and that, with its damaged mast, was starting to lose altitude over the city. “Constantine! Secure yourself to the mast! We’re going to crash!” Sam ordered, her long red hair blowing in the wind. “Keep that gun handy, we might need it…if we don’t get killed. “You sound remarkably calm for a potentially life-threatening situation!” Constantine said, his red and black outfit and cape fluttering in the wind. “Trust me I’ve been in worse situations! Sam yelled, tying herself to the mast as well. “HOLD ON! BRACE!!” Constantine yelled, as the ship dropped to 3,000 feet…then 2500, then 2000. The ship began to come apart, the feather-oars snapping off from wind shear. However, as long as the mast stayed intact, Sam and Constantine couldn’t fly loose. Constantine was rather laid-back for a sniper; he even had a good sense of humor. However, when the cards were laid on the table, he was a ruthless, unforgiving tactician with as much skill with a gun as Sam was with her sword. People were scattering for cover as the ship was about to come down onto one of the poorer, and seedier areas of Aoria. CRUNCH!!! The ship struck the city asphalt with a ground-shaking thud, knocking over several abandoned, rickety buildings used almost exclusively by criminals to sell drugs or other black-market trade items, such as weapons and medical supplies without licenses or prescriptions. As the ship’s wreckage ground to a halt, Sam and Constantine stepped through the piles of rubble and clouds of smoke, and emerged from the wreck. The poor people living in this part of Aoria were awestruck at the sight of the Savior Red Woman and her gallant comrade, Constantine. Many of them kneeled in reverence. Just then, an elderly man approached both of them. “What brings you here, soldiers? I hope that you’ve come to save us from the terrible war that has beset our city; Anna and Night, as well as their soldiers and gangsters. They terrorize our neighborhoods, especially in this part of the city, away from the prosperous sections, where crime rate is low. The police are no help, as they’re usually in on this gang war too. You can stop them, and I have a reward for you if you can.” “Well, as long as it can give Constantine here out of the Haze Realm and get us and the Xaati out of here, I’m all for it.” “Very well then, however, time is short. The portal which you came through, in the Great City of Knowledge, may soon close for good. China has fallen, as has Korea in the Human Realm, and a particular Tempelritter Grand Wizard named Santiago is planning to lead a massive assault against the City of Knowledge to trap you in here and find the Icons’ location, as well as attack the Ascendancy headquarters in Geldern Abbey!” “Wow…Great, just great! We’re stuck in here while the world is ending, and we can’t do a thing about it…” Sam sighed. “Well, there’s a huge gala in the Wealthy Districts of the city, and it’s run by Night’s gang to draw the girls of Anna’s gang, all of her gang members were very pretty girls, she only allows girls of a certain popularity level and beauty to join her gang, to kill them off and take control of the city. The girls don’t know this, and they’re walking straight into a trap. However, you and your comrade can stop them. You only need to dress in an elegant ballroom dress and hide your sword. “So, I have to pretend to be a guest, and then strike when he’s not looking? I like that.” Sam smiled. “So do I.” Constantine grumbled. “Oh, trust me, you’ll like my dress, now come, We’re going dress shopping for me.” Sam said sweetly. “The gala is in 3 days. Good luck.” the old man said as he walked away.
3 days later, Sam had a dress picked out and purchased; it was black, like a velvet dream, with lacy frills and a place to hide her sword and gun. She also wore giant hoop earrings, had her hair up in a bun and wore more makeup than usual; she looked like a porcelain doll. “How do you like this?” Sam said as she approached Constantine. “You look stunning; you’re going to knock them dead!” “That’s the plan…” Constantine had his traditional Cossack uniform, as he was of Cossack descent, and they would go to the gala together. There was transportation provided; and it was characteristic of the romantic atmosphere of Aoria and Silpheed in general. It was a Cinderella-style carriage, pulled by two enormous white stallions; cheesy and tacky, maybe, but spectacular nonetheless. The carriage would arrive and take them to the All-Silpheed Convocation Center, the centerpiece of which was a grand ballroom with amazing amenities and luxurious accommodations for overnight guests, little wonder it was in the heart of the wealthiest nation in the Haze Realm, Aoria’s Legendary District. Here, property values were astronomical, and the trade barons’ coffers were so loaded with cash that there was even a name for this kind of money hoarding: “Silpheed Syndrome.” Aoria’s ports handled almost 4 trillion dinar, the Silpheed currency and the standard reserve currency throughout the Haze Realm annually, with huge flying ships carrying untold tons of gold and other valuable imports. The orange, white and blue tricolor of the United Silpheed Provinces, as the country was officially known, flew proudly over the Legendary District and the entire Haze-Realm wide Empire of Silpheed. As the carriage moved slowly towards the Center, Constantine and Sam took some time to reaffirm their relationship. Constantine hadn’t seen Sam for more than 9 years, and they knew that they could die any time in this crazy world. As the carriage train arrived at the Convocation Center, hundreds of elegantly dressed guests stepped up the huge marble staircase to the 2-ton wooden doors, wide open into a huge, opulent and downright gorgeous interior. Outwardly, Sam looked like any of the other female guests, beautiful, elegant and sweet, but in a special pocket in her dress, she carried a Colt .45 revolver; her sword was too big to hide. Her and Constantine’s mission was simple: Kill Night Pasha, and bring order to the Aoria South Side. There was, however, a rather unforeseen obstacle. The moment Sam and Constantine walked into the room; Sam immediately caught the attention of one regally dressed young man with a sword, black hair and a red and white outfit and cape, he looked German, more like a traditional Baron. “Hello, miss. Might I get you a drink?” the man said, very cordially to Sam. “Oh, thanks, but no thanks. I’m busy.” The young man looked at Sam rather angrily, and it didn’t help the Constantine gave him the finger. Constantine, still wearing his black and red outfit with his cape, had concealed his sniper rifle under the cape, and was worried that the other young man would have seen it. “Sam, I don’t like that guy…he seems like he’s up to no good.” “Tell me something I don’t know.” “I ate a live insect once to avoid being killed by the Lovelorn Bird. That’s something you don’t know.” “Ok, I don’t think I needed to know that…” Sam whispered. Sam and Constantine walked towards the center dance floor, and saw no dancing, but instead, something far more interesting. The dance floor had turned into a sword-dueling ring, one where the brash and arrogant young men of Silpheed could test their sword skills against one another; there were rules; no killing, no intentional injuries, disarming opponents only, which meant knocking the sword out of a combatant’s hand. Still, the 40 or so contestants were all dressed in chivalric, excessive outfits, most with their family’s heraldry sewn or embroidered on them somewhere. There was already an intense duel taking place in the center of the floor, with two men clashing their blades, with sparks flying everywhere. To win or lose a duel was to honor or dishonor one’s family lineage, which meant a lot to the Kingdom of Silpheed. It was often said that even though the official language that the Silpheed spoke, High Latin Gothic, sounded like Greek or Latin, the universal languages were money and family honor. A knot of other young women were watching the fireworks; Sam approached the duel ring and inadvertedly walked in front of the other women. “Hey, you, I can’t see. Move!” one of them yelled. “Hey, it’s not my fault that I’m 6 feet tall, beautiful and actually have a date for this place, unlike you cows.” “We do so have dates! If you want to take this outside, let’s go, bitch!!” Just then, Constantine approached, angrily. “Hey! You keep away from her, you little twits!” Things began to escalate when three of the sword-wielding men walked over and threatened to slash Constantine’ head off with their murderously sharp blades. “I don’t care who you are or how many swords you have, I have a gun!” Constantine pulled his Russian sniper rifle and jumped backwards, drawing it and pointing it directly at the swordsman’s head.” “Prepare yourself, you prick!” the lead swordsman yelled, raising his blade to lunge. Constantine fired one shot, breaking the swordsman’s blade clean in half. He stood there like a deer in the headlights. “CHEAT!!! YOU CAN’T EVEN WIN A FAIR FIGHT!!” Everyone gasped and jumped as the gun went off. The young man, deeply angered by having his blade broken by some upstart’s cheap shot, called the 40 other swordsmen over, each one angry as hell. Even with a gun, Constantine had no chance against 40 swordmasters; just then, the young man that had been harassing Sam upon entering stepped in front of the mass of swordsmen, drew his blade and handed the man with the broken blade another sword. “Do you know who we are? I’m Adolph Bayern, and these…just call them the 40 White Wolves. We are of the original Indo-Aryan bloodline, proud descendants of the Caucasian tribes and true rulers of Silpheed. Under the directions of Comrade Night Pasha, we can’t let you leave this place. No one can stop us, not you, not the Silpheed government, not the Gaia-Kami, not even the Legendary Heroine. We already slew more gorgeous young women than you can count with our swords, guns and daggers, both the Haze Realm and the normal one. In the name of Saint Theotokos, prepare to die.” Sam immediately realized that this psychotic mob of swordmasters meant business. If they could gloat about killing innocent women, they could certainly slaughter everyone in the Grand Hall. These “White Wolves” hunted girls like a hunter stalked deer, and they kept a picture of whomever they killed in a notebook, with their last words written under their pictures. Just when it appeared that all was lost for Constantine, a huge explosion rocked the Hall, causing parts of the walls to collapse, creating a hole in the ceiling…it was the Immortal Mage of Autumn again, and its flaming crest looked enraged. “YOU LITTLE BASTARD!! YOU MADE AN ALLIANCE WITH THE GAIA-KAMI?!” Bayern yelled. “Very well then, if the Gaia-Kami wishes to do battle, we will happily oblige. By the power of the Island of Sin, we will cut you to ribbons! The Autumn Mage took his human form again, raised his Scepter of Light, and pointed it directly at Adolph and his men’s heads. As the other guests panicked and ran out of the building, the 40 White Wolves charged forward, swords drawn, and the King of Autumn Leaves slammed his scepter on the ground, creating a huge wall of wind, knocking the entire mob back more than 13 feet. Some were knocked unconscious. The King of Autumn Leaves was instantly on top of his enemies; charging electrical power into his Scepter of Light, the orb atop the staff shone a radiant, electric blue. “ELECTRIC SOLAR STORM!!!” the King yelled, as he unleashed an incredible, white-hot beam of static plasma, 30,000o F, slamming directly into the dazed White Wolves, vaporizing them instantly with one blast. “The path is clear, Samantha and Constantine, I’ll handle the guards, you go kill Pasha!” Sam and Konstantin charged into the back hallways towards Pasha’s quarters; Sam grabbed one of the swords off of the one dead White Wolf that wasn’t atomized. Defense turrets activated, firing murderous rounds of bullets. This was no issue for Sam, as her sword blocked every bullet, and Constantine hacked the defense grid, taking the turrets offline. Continuing their mad rush to Pasha’s quarters, they passed row after row of odd statues, menacing ones; as well as paintings of the rulers of Silpheed. Approaching a huge wooden door, Sam hacked the lock off with her sword and kicked the door down; to see the interior of Pasha’s Inner Sanctum…it was truly incredible. Huge gardens, artificial waterfalls, water fountains, pools, hot tubs, bathhouses, everything, it looked as if the two of them had just entered a tropical paradise, rather than some kind of building. “Where are we? I hope this isn’t some kind of Tempelrittertrap…” “I don’t think it is, otherwise we’d have seen some sort of wizardry by now, other than the King of Autumn Leaves. “Welcome to the Island of Sin, the place where all your troubles, all your pain are washed away by our paradise.” “Is this some kind of a joke?!” Constantine yelled, raising his sniper rifle to shoot at wherever the voice was coming from. Suddenly, the origin of the voice became apparent. Standing on the central grotto was a tall man with brown hair, a handsome face, and a blue and white cape, a red uniform and a white beret. He also carried a scepter with a purple, glowing orb on top of it. “Bonjour, Mademoiselle Lucembursky, I am Night Pasha, and I must admit, I’m flattered that you would join me…though I’m not interested in you as a romantic interest, but…” “What are you, some kind of French queer?!” Constantine yelled. “Why if you mean homosexual, yes, if you must know. However, I have much bigger plans for now…You’re in my world now, not yours, and I’m a member of the Covenant of the Dark Ones, a league of voodoo sorcerers. I have nothing to do with the Germanic Orden der Tempelritter or the Dragon Mages, so you mustn’t worry.” “Ok, faggot, tell us why you’ve been attacking Silpheed’s capital! Now!” “Hee-hee-hee-hee-hee! You mustn’t use such foul slurs, it deeply upsets me, don’t get your panties in a knot!” Pasha told Sam in a very effeminate tone.
47. Mass
In the name of the Draco-Wizard Alliance and all of its members, our Gods have blessed this day! Long have we waited for an opportunity to strike into the heart of the supposedly neutral Knowledge Sorcerers, but they’re hiding the Icon maps, which violates the neutrality pact. As such, every ounce of available military power is being called into service. The Aleyadin Caliphate, Japan, China, Russia, New Spain in the place of the old USA, and Europe are all under our command, as well as their massive militaries. To all who face this glorious battle, may the Gods bless our Alliance and give us strength to carry the fight this day! It is do or die!!”
As High Wizard Santiago stood on a huge, hastily-erected podium in Tiananmen Square in China, thousands of Chinese soldiers, with commanders fully loyal to Daisuke, the sorcerer in charge of China, now repaired from the horrors of the war that conquered it, was at full strength. The PRC had been dissolved, and the resurgent Chinese Empire, under the new Draco-Wizard Dynasty, had expanded its borders to the positions they occupied during the height of the Qing Dynasty, and had expanded to cover parts of India and Bangladesh. Its army was second only the Russian one, with Russian control being passed to Lily, another High Wizard with a serious princess-attitude problem. The Chinese uniforms had changed to the new exoskeleton-style full-body armor and assault rifles, so accurate and precise that they could hit a target several miles away. Santiago was tasked with leading the assault on the City of Knowledge, with thousands upon thousands of soldiers massing in all wizard-controlled countries. It was as if the old Brother’s Grimm fairy tales about evil wizards had come true; there was even a story in the German folk tales about an army of wizards called Tempelritters. If only humanity knew that this 700-old folk tale was describing something real; if only the attempted release of the dark energies in the late 19thcentury was taken seriously; there would have been warning. Now, most of the surviving Christians, however few, were convinced that Judgment Day had come, with the overthrow of the current Order by a time of unprecedented warfare and natural disasters; huge storms were being generated by a Tempelritter in Texas named Sephiir Othengard, and the return of Jesus to save the world and deliver it from all evil. However, Christ had yet to show up, and the dark sorcerers of the Haze Realm were poised to dominate all lands, seas and nether regions. The first wave of the attack would come from thousands of unmanned hypersonic aircraft launched at the City of Knowledge, these aircraft had been used for precision destruction of churches, synagogues and mosques in the past, but the purges were coming to an end, as there were few Christians, Jews and Muslims left to destroy. The carnage of the slaughter was horrific, with huge groups of religious people being herded into the streets of burning cities and executed; men, women, and children were killed by gunshot to the head, while babies, some as young as 2 months, were injected with TTX toxin to prevent them from moving or crying, and various drugs to see if they cured diseases that had plagued humanity for years, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Churches were detonated by hypersonic missile strikes, often after the parishioners or congregations had been hung from trees and marked with extremely crude, offensive graffiti, such as attaching a fake penis onto a dead priest hanging from a tree branch. In the name of the Draco-Wizard Alliance, the filthy primitives were almost extinct. All that remained was the City of Knowledge and Geldern Abbey. Now that the primary objectives, destroying most of the religious believers, the hypersonic aircraft would be deployed to strike the defense systems by hitting them at Mach 30, too fast to be hit by anti-aircraft fire. Once the first wave was finished, the manned VTOL transports, not standard take-off and landing aircraft, as K2 had no runways and the soldiers disembarking would need to wear SCBA rigs in their powered battle armor, as hypoxia would quickly set in without this equipment. Thousands of troops would disembark under covering fire fromthe transports and drop-ships, followed by actual dark sorcerers themselves. The hypersonic aircraft would continue to strike, both the unmanned ones and the manned Amphibious Hypersonic Assault Aircraft. (AHAAs) When the battle was won, Santiago himself would land amongst the wreckage and take the Icon maps, while Guggenberger’s forces would strike Geldern Abbey with an equally powerful invasion force shortly after and re-claim the Second Icon. Total victory was at hand. Santiago could feel it; he was the next great conquistador, the one who built a pan-dimensional Empire of Wizardry.As Santiago concluded his speech, his soldiers, not just Chinese ones, but troops from all over the wizard-controlled world, hailed in reverence, with thousands upon thousands of them saluting and yelling “All Hail Empire!!” “All Hail Empire!!” The first hypersonic aircraft wave would leave in 2 hours, as the VTOL transports were loaded up with troops for the landings on K2 and the City of Knowledge itself. Santiago’s friend, Irkaya Mortusov, a hypnotist and artist for huge, grand paintings in the Haze Realm, was preparing to serve as one of Santiago’s top staff; he used his paintings to lure hundreds of unsuspecting patrons to his travelling “Gallery of the Dumb,” “dumb” referring to speechlessness, not stupidity. He would attract people to his paintings, then hypnotize them and steal their souls, or use them as puppets for a human “puppet show.” This was only after he promised them whatever they wanted for their pay, not just money, but anything. His lullaby, which activated the hypnotic spell, as well as his pendulum, changed every time he painted a picture. However, his most recent production; Gallery of Portraits had resulted in the hypnosis of one of the main patrons, with the lullaby:
Come poor soul, come with me, I’ll show you happiness, you see, for everything you could ever want, from a brand new car to a woman’s heart, follow me, for that’s a start, I shall give as well as take, giving you and her a house on the shore of a lake, With trees a-plenty and sunny days, it will be your happiest dreams realized, but just remember for every benefit and boom, we will all eventually meet our doom, now as you lie in this room, tied to a table with her beside you; side to side the pendulum calls, slowly but surely your eyelids fall, I said I’d help you, and I had, just like all the other fools before, so sad, Now you made a careless error, so your souls are mine FOREVER!!! Ha ha ha!!!”
Irkaya also raised hobgoblins, including some of the most powerful, such as Psiacheron, a horrific, genetically mutated, black-and-red bipedal alien-cat with huge, 2-foot long sickle claws, two tails, and staring, white, pupil-less, shining eyes, it was covered by black and red fur, as well as having black and red skin and fur, and used insanely powerful psychic attacks, as well as its claws, to defend itself. It lived in dark caves in the Haze Realm’s loneliest nether regions, and few had seen them and lived to tell the tale. However, Irkaya impressed this one enough for it to join him as a comrade in arms, along with the rest of his team, the “Psiacheron,” an equally powerful creature of the same capacity called “Era,” a gigantic dragon-like creature called “Wingwrath,” a weird, walking, telekinetic tree-like creature called “Koko,” a spooky ghost-like entity called “Luridia,” and three others, one was called “Aquatornis,” another was called “Pyropteryx,” and the third was called “Bladewing.” There were more than 650 known hobgoblin types, and Irkaya specialized in raising the most powerful of these races. These 8 hobgoblins would assist Irkaya and his division of soldiers from all over the wizard-controlled world. Even the most powerful of sorcerers couldn’t stand up to a hobgoblin on the scale of Psiacheron, and the only more powerful than a Psiacheron was a Gaia-Kami. Victory was almost assured, especially with the assistance of a young woman named “Mistress Ayu,” she was the head of a cult called the “League of the Black Ones,” she wore, not surprisingly, a very long, pretty black dress, had extraordinarily long, silky blonde hair, bizarre headbands that looked like a second pair of ears coming out of the side of her head, lacy black gloves and stockings, a black, fur scarf, plus a gorgeous, elegant figure that made her immediately attractive to most men who saw her, with her deep blue eyes casting a mesmerizing spell over anyone who even looked at her picture, let alone her in person. The League was a pseudo-Fascist cult that was a huge power in many Haze Realm towns, especially in the Dark Kingdom. Both men and women were allowed to join, the name of the cult had nothing to do with race, just the color of the uniforms, the woman’s uniform was identical to Ayu’s, and the men’s looked like an SS uniform, except it was a black robe with a cape, with creepy blue runes all over the cape for junior officers and red, glowing runes for senior officers. They were armed with unique and terrifying weaponry, and enforced their will through violence. Ayu was also a stage manager in plays, and had worked with Irkaya on many occasions; she was not a wizard but knew almost as much as anyone could know about the Tempelritters without actually being one. She also raised hobgoblins as a hobby, as well. Her job was to use her talents with computers and technology to maintain the hypersonic systems and give coordinates for the planes to hit. The first hypersonic aircraft were warming up, their engines humming audibly…5 minutes to program go. This was it. The invasion, and victory was nigh.
“Ignition! Launch program now!!” Santiago barked. Just then, hundreds of hypersonic aircraft streaked away from their launch tracks, hitting Mach 30. The first wave of “Zoomers,” as these hypersonic aircraft were referred to, would hit K2 from China in less than 2 minutes. The second, third and fourth waves would hit in the following 30 minutes. Then, the ground invasion would begin, as hundreds of VTOL transports were already leaving. Irkaya and Santiago boarded two separate transports, so that one lucky shot didn’t kill both of them. This was it. There could be no failure.
In the lordly City of Knowledge, atop the highest peaks of the Himalayas, the citizens and the Knowledge Sorcerers worshipped their altars of information, the entire universe’s facts, figures, any intellectualism at all, was stored in the Great Temple, looking like a snow-covered version of Hagia Sophia, from the Knowledge Sorcerers’ ancestral home of Constantinople. As the evening Mass for Mind commenced, and the sorcerers kneeled in reverence to human and Haze Realm knowledge, a guard came rushing into the chamber unannounced. “MINISTER!!! THEY’RE HERE!!! THEY’RE ABOUT TO KILL US ALL!!!”The Minister in charge of the Mass knew immediately what he was talking about. However, there had been no preparations to counter an attack from Draco-Wizard Alliance forces directed against the City of Knowledge itself. The Knowledge Sorcerers always expected and assumed invulnerability from their inaccessible position, vast importance to both the Haze Realm and human realm, and abolition of war and weaponry…apparently, not even that was sacred anymore. A few seconds later, the building behind the guard detonated in a huge cloud of flames and burning rubble, landing on top of the guard, crushing him flat, then another, then another; buildings all over the southern half of the city were exploding, destroying thousands of priceless artifacts and books with scant regard for sanctity, there was no stopping the relentless Tempelritter advance. The unmanned hypersonic aircraft were moving so fast that they couldn’t be seen, let alone shot down. The Hall of Biological Enlightenment was hit next, with an entire catalog of Earth’s species obliterated. The Knowledge Sorcerer Scribes that compiled this list were in the cathedral-like building standing guard at that time; they didn’t know what hit them. The enormous frescoes on the dome-like ceiling and the torches lining the pathway to the Hall’s Inner Sanctum were snuffed out forever. It was immediately apparent that the Great City and Nation of Knowledge was wrecked, doomed and obliterated. They had no weapons, other than a few Honor Guards, and simply could not defend against such a massive assault. Spring would come, but not for the city. This was the last day of the Nation of Knowledge and the last vestige of the Byzantine and Roman Empires…and the Draco-Wizard Alliance was just getting started. Just then, however, a huge, white swan appeared in the clouding skies, as did a green moth and a huge serpent on the ground. They morphed into Veek, Radu and Eisner!!! Since the knowledge of their deaths had been recorded automatically by the charmed books, they automatically updated everything that happened in the Haze and human realms, the Knowledge Sorcerers were shocked and appalled. “Well, then…where were we…?” Eisner hissed, his eyes turning red with anger. “HOW ARE YOU STILL ALIVE!!??” one of the knowledge sorcerers barked. “Oh, I’m shocked! I thought you knew everything. A truly powerful sorcerer like me is almost immortal, as long as I say the words “Vivat Aeternum” before I die, I will always return…even stronger. The same goes for my comrades here, Veek and Radu. Does that answer your question?” The knowledge sorcerer didn’t get the chance to answer; Eisner immediately killed him with a Kill Ray shot. More hypersonic aircraft streaked overhead, the second wave had arrived from Turkey. The chaos only increased with the arrival of Veek, Radu and Eisner, all three of them were so powerful that they were dominating the entire city by themselves. Veek was creating Dark Holocaust spells and blocking any other defensive spell with the greatest of ease. The spells were obliterating entire buildings with one shot, with Eisner going completely berserk, his face mad with rage. Eisner was the vanguard of the entire wizard invasion of the human world, he had crept forth from the Haze Realm into the Osborn House in China, became Mansion Lord there after the first Mansion Lord’s mysterious disappearance the day before, took a job as a police constable in the China People’s Armored Police, and fully integrated himself as a part of human society…for the sole purpose of destroying it. Eisner had made his living in the Haze Realm as “The Mysterious Man of the Woods” in Silpheed; he lived outside of the Dark Kingdom, and preyed upon children venturing into the woods; but he never showed himself to the world; he would travel into the local towns and taverns in Silpheed just to have some beer; the Silpheed breweries were some of the best in the Haze Realm. He often gave very inspiring speeches in these taverns; this propelled his legend to stellar heights, which is how he became so high-ranked in the Tempelritter order. His specialties were nature manipulation, as he could talk to animals and command them at will to fight for him, and could also make plants grow, as he did in China all those years ago, as well as transform into a huge trumpeter swan, and he had a very pretentious accent. Veek’s background was even more sinister; a lifelong resident of the Dark Kingdom, he became freakishly obsessed with the art of surprise and shape-shifting at age 5, communicating to the human world through video games, computers and telephones, often pretending to be a very kind entity to young people, using names such as “Jack,” “Ryan” or “Billy,” or transforming into an exact copy of one of a person’s friend for the older victims, to lure people from ages 5-18, usually, into his evil grasp; once he had them under his “Haunted Memories” spell, he would invade the mind of the unsuspecting victim, tormenting them with horrific images of blood dripping down dark, cold hotel room walls, medieval torture, with individuals being ripped apart, burned, and screaming, moaning demons from Hell and nightmares so scary that these people often went insane or killed themselves. Veek, however, thought this was fun. His nasally, scratching accent sounded like nails on a chalkboard. Radu, after betraying the Ascendancy by killing his sweetheart, Elizaveta Moor, by complete accident, he was tempted by the evil wizards of the Dark Kingdom to use his incredible talent as a sorcerer from the Ascendancy Praxeum, or training facility. He let his heart be consumed by darkness, and was now nothing more than a cold, cruel murder machine. His story was a very tragic one, but he felt no meaning or regret from the accident. That was a sign of weakness, there was no place for love in a Tempelritter. Only hate existed, and that energy is what gave the Draco-Wizard Alliance its terrible power, Radu’s haunting, echoing voice was demonically frightening. He had left Geldern Abbey, with its splendid, ornate and breathtaking cathedral, its administrative buildings decorated with flags and emblems, as well as the Eternal Flame to Peace, an enormous, burning monument to all those lost in the fight against evil. However, the most inspiring childhood story came from the Mathematician; he was growing up as a total “nerd” in a town in Silpheed, Haze Realm where he was viewed as a total creep and a frightening individual. He was extraordinarily intelligent and, as his title suggested, was very good at math. He had a history of being bullied, and there were four particular people that thought he was very dangerous. One day, in the cafeteria at the college where he attended, they confronted him for “staring,” when the Mathematician’s eyes dilated suddenly, causing the bully’s head to explode into thousands of bloody bits, splattering all over his girlfriend’s outfit and face. Mathematician always liked to gloat about how loudly the girl screeched after that happened. He went on a rampage throughout the school, killing more than 90 students with his crazy stare; his crowning achievement was the destruction of his crush that rejected him, a stunningly pretty girl named Kassie Lyn, she was tortured and killed in her own dorm room, and destroying the school play out of revenge. Even though the bully’s taunts of “psycho” and “weirdo” were proven correct, there wasn’t anything anyone could do about it. He was now known only as Mathematician, not by his birth name, Jack. He later returned to the school and killed everyone in it by a torturously slow process; he held the school in a “corruption bubble,” which slowly digested the people within its confines with dark magic, like being in a gigantic, acid-filled stomach. It took weeks for everyone to die. Mathematician joined the Tempelritters shortly after that, allowing him to send his scourges upon the world…he had released the plagues of Egypt on Pine Bush as revenge, standing atop the high school roof with the plagues moving in behind him, his eyes glowing red, destroying the town during the “Holocaust on the Hudson.” Since then, the Mathematician had exacted revenge against every high school and college-age enemy he had, in a very brutal fashion each time, until none remained, his entire graduating class of 2007 was dead at his hands. Most of these victims were killed in their sleep, after Mathematician silently entered their homes in the dark of the night…by walking through the walls of their homes, wherever they lived, much like the Hierophant Stalker, another evil, yet weaker entity. Even at his current age of 68 years old, having graduated high school 50 years before as of 2057, Mathematician was now a supreme magician, capable of leveling entire cities. The Eternal Flame, however, was kept guarded by two guards, stoically facing one another in front of the silent torch. The Museum of Haze Realm Objects, including any enchanted objects that somehow found their way into the human world, the most lethal one, the Mortal Eye, was used during the Raito Asoka Kanagashima Ascension, which very nearly destroyed human society and triggered a new Dark Age, was also near the Eternal Flame torch. The Praxeum was a giant pyramid-shaped building on the western end of the complex, as well. The Inner Sanctum, where the Generals and Councils met, was at the heart of the complex. Security had been maxed out after Guggenberger’s attempt to destroy the Abbey, and the fact that most of the major nations were under Tempelritter control, with guard wizards marching along the periphery. However, it wouldn’t matter; the fall of the Ascendancy was inevitable. Praetor Bering was secretly drawing battle-plans for the defense of the Abbey, which promised to be a bigger battle than the fall of Constantinople to the Turks. The Pagan German Apocalypse of Brothers’ Grimm fame, in which evil sorcerers emerge to plunge the world into darkness, was apparently coming true. Not on his watch. Bering would uphold 700 years of Ascendancy power, glory and justice, no matter how long the odds were. He would fight to his last breath. However, he couldn’t care less about the religious implications of letting the dark sorcerers commit mass genocide of Christians, Jews and Muslims; he thought that religion was a bankrupt idea that had no place in the modern world, but he didn’t condone genocide, even against criminals as well. Suddenly, Bering received a message from the City of Knowledge: it was under full-scale attack from global Tempelritter forces, and was now in ruins. Bering’s eyes widened as he dropped the message in shock. Bering was never one to panic, but at this point, even he began to crack. Never before had the Draco-Wizard Alliance attempted something so dastardly; this was clearly an indication that the Ascendancy was facing its final hour.
“For centuries…we have been a beacon of hope for the Haze and Human Realm, but now we face our final test. Now, few are left to face the enemies, but for those that remain, there is but one choice: Fight or die for the Ascendancy!”
Bering thought; the few people not loyal to the sorcerers in the wizard-occupied nations were forming rebellions, using the super-advanced technology used by the legitimate government, were forming small rebel coalitions, especially in New Spain, the former NORTH AMERICA, ruled by a Spanish wizard as a dictatorship. Then, it hit him. He needed to aid the resistance, but simply couldn’t intervene in the conflict because he had to be on guard for the Abbey. His only hope was that the Draco-Wizard Alliance would not be sufficient enough to send enough troops to destroy Geldern Abbey. Realizing that his options were limited, Bering called his top 5 Generals, the same ones who had killed Radu, Veek and Eisner in Japan, for an emergency meeting in the Inner Sanctum.
Praetor Bering, General Oliver Knowles, General Isaac Haas, General Rudolph Bayern, General Antoine Chirac, and General Hosni Mewari, the top 6 wizards in the Ascendancy’s 11,000-man military force, sat in the peace and tranquility of the Sanctum, its cool blue coloration and lighting created an air of nonaggression. “This is unthinkable. There hasn’t been an attack on the Abbey since the Lovelorn Syndrome Outbreak, how can the Draco-Wizard Alliance possibly destroy this Abbey? Its defenses are almost impregnable. Nothing has ever broken through it.” General Mewari grumbled. “Well, this isn’t the Lovelorn Syndrome, now, isn’t it?!” Knowles grumbled, sarcastically. The mood was necessarily grim, but the Ascendancy had faced adversity before. They were an organization of wizards as legendary as their exploits. They fought against some of the most hideous, spooky, creepy and horrifying entities imaginable with honor, distinction and bravery. From the cataclysmic battle with Aurora’s Dark Witch in 1607 in Ukraine; the dark witch was a member of the Tempelritters,but back then, they were still a relatively small Order; still, the Witch that had pricked Aurora’s finger on a spindle, named “Morgana,” was extraordinarily powerful, and her mountain fortress was where, after a battle with Aurora’s glass coffin in attendance, three Ascendancy Generals killed Morgana, who was also mentioned in Merlin’s tales, an Ascendancy wizard, he documented the tale of King Arthur. Upon Princess Aurora’s awakening, a massive Cossack festival was held as she was crowned Queen of the Don River, to the “Big Bad Wolf,” known as a Lupine Demon to the Ascendancy, in 1371 in the Holy Roman Empire, the Jabberwocky, in 1887 in Scotland, the Cannibal Witch of Hansel and Gretel, in 1616, in Brandenburg-PRussia, named “Miku,” the Bandersnatch Assault, in 1890 in England, the Red Queen of Hearts, in 1892 in France, Cinderella’s unjust stepparents, in 1666 in the Dutch Republic, the Army of the Night, the Raito Asoka Kanagashima III Ascendancy, in which the Ascendancy split into two organizations, one led by the Praetor, the other by the Anti-Praetor, a young man named Raito Asoka Kanagashima III from Japan, who had become disgusted with the “decadence” of the Ascendancy’s lack of action against his version of “evil”, and the Ascendancy Civil War that resulted lasted for 10 months, where Raito was crushed and the Ascendancy restructured in 1707. Artifacts from the false Ascendancy were still seen in some Haze Realm antique shops; the Sleeper Ghoul, and the Hierophant Stalker, the final investigation into this case was still ongoing, but it had obviously taken a back seat to the Tempelritters,the Stalker was a very eerie-looking humanoid creature, it had huge, bulging yellow eyes, a pale, long, horse-like face, and a bizarre outfit that looked like nothing seen in the human world, it was an organism of unknown origin, and killed young women by turning invisible and sneaking into their houses, slashing them to pieces at night. This Stalker remained at large, doubtlessly killing many others, as well as the Tempelritters. The Wizard Ascendancy had seen it all. Zombie invasions had nothing on them. They fought all the creatures of the Brothers Grimm and Mother Goose tales, as well as “Alice in Wonderland.” However, this invasion was quite possibly the most terrifying thing ever to happen in nearly 1100 years. The last time something on this scale happened was actually the exact same thing: in 900 A.D., a Polish Tempelritter named Wenslaus Nazkreki emerged from the Haze Realm with a vast army of sorcerers, and began spreading death, destruction and chaos around the world. The Frankish Kingdoms, the Holy Roman Empire, the magnificent Spanish Kingdoms, Imperial China, the Empire of Japan, Kievan Rus’ (Ukraine), England, and even the Seljuk Turks and Constantinople were ravaged to the ground. This was perhaps the worst attack the world had ever faced, even the Turks in Persia or the Byzantines couldn’t stop the kind of destruction wrought by these wizards, a scene that the modern world was all too familiar with these days, only then, however, there were no nuclear weapons or heavy tanks in 900. After this invasion was defeated by the fledgling Ascendancy, founded by the First Council, it was gradually forgotten, maybe because the people of Europe wanted to forget about it, until it became nothing more than a legend. The Brothers Grimm wrote about it in their collection of stories, the play “Into the Woods” made reference to it, and various myths, tales and legends from Japan and China tell of “magicians” coming to kill innocent people. An abortive assault in the 1800s was stopped just in time.“First of all, how many times do we have to kill Radu, Veek and Eisner?!” General Isaac barked. “They can always return if they utter the Preservation Spell. There is no way to permanently kill them if they can do that.” “Also, the destruction of religion is almost complete. More than 90% of Christians, 80% of Jews and 77% of Muslims have been exterminated, and the attack on the City of Knowledge is still occurring as we speak. We need to act now!” “I agree, I don’t know how the Draco-Wizard Alliance could have come up with such an enormous invasion force so quickly; most of the attacks on human cities have been by the wizards and their dark magic, not many troops were loyal to the wizards outside of the Alliance, and those living in Alliance territory have recalled their armies, simply waiting for what they believe is ‘total victory.’ All I can say is that won’t happen as long as the Ascendancy exists.” “Then that is a future we must accept.” Bering grumbled.
Just then, a huge explosion rocked the Abbey, it felt like a bone-jarring hammer blow, knocking Bering and his five Generals to the floor. Roofing fell on the floor, almost crushing Oliver. All 6 of them realized that this could only mean one thing, as much as they refused to admit it. The 6 wizards rushed out of the council chamber, drew their wands, and saw a huge hole in the ancient stone walls, with Guggenberger’s black-armored, crimson-eyed, brainwashed Neo-Nazi soldiers, as well as more than 100 Tempelritters, such as Irkaya Mortusov, the Sultan of the Aleyadin Caliphate Mehmet III, Edward Morgan, Eisenheim, and many others, These dark wizards served as Guggenberger’s generals, and they immediately started butchering the Ascendancy members in the Abbey. Mehmet III transformed into a huge cobra again, striking at and killing every enemy he saw. The lower-ranked wizards stood no chance; any attempt to disarm one of the Tempelritters, let alone kill them, was met with a lethal blast of deadly energy before the wizard students and apprentices could even draw their wands. Simultaneously, huge blasts rocked the other three corners of the triangular Abbey; it was an attack from all sides…and from the air. Praetor Bering looked up into the sky, and saw huge airships, with huge cannons trained on the Abbey’s fortifications. Bering’s heart sank. That instant, he knew his Abbey was doomed. After the initial shock, Bering’s face hardened, as did his generals’ faces. Bering issued just one order: “Protect that Icon. If we die, we die with honor.” The generals drew their wands, for what was likely going to be a cataclysmic battle with the dark forces. “Get all the defenders to the critical junctures; they don’t know where the Icon is; first priority is to destroy those airships, then deal with Guggenberger and his troops, unfortunately, those students are going to have to fend for themselves. It’s the awful truth.” The rest of the Generals knew this, but so did all the others. The Ascendancy was a commitment, and a commitment that one must be willing to die for. However, these Tempelritters were beyond anything that had been faced in nearly 700 years, and even the Origin Dynasty was unable to defeat the Abbey’s defenses…however, the Origin Dynasty didn’t have 21st-century weaponry as well as an even more ancient ally in the form of Dragon Mages. It looked as if the Ascendancy’s luck had run out. “Let’s move!” Bering barked, as 4 Supreme Generals teleported to the four critical areas, the Central Museum, where the Icon was, the Grand Ballroom, the Main Praxeum and the Great Library. However, all this was moot if those huge airships were firing their guns; the Abbey did have aerial defenses, but they were past a huge wall of soldiers and Tempelritters, wreaking havoc on the building’s infrastructure; they were probably well aware of Abbey defenses, and they were looking to destroy the defense grids ASAP. Bering and General Oliver were critical in stopping them; sure enough, they teleported into the melee, which was being fought between Ascendancy Knights and the assault-rifle wielding soldiers, as well as the occasional Tempelritter. The Praetor and the General began firing huge blasts from their wands, adding even more explosions and magic blasts flying through the vast halls of the ancient Abbey. Combatants were dropping dead on both sides, either shot or killed by lethal magic, and even Bering and Oliver were stressed to block all the bullets and death rays. After about 5 minutes, the skirmish in the South Hallway ended, and Bering continued down the hallway. “DO NOT SURRENDER!! FIGHT UNTIL YOUR LAST BREATH! REMEMBER YOUR OATH!!!” Bering and Oliver yelled to the other Ascendancy wizards that seemed nervous to join the battle. The ferocious fighting continued, with bullets and magic energy ripping apart the interior of the Abbey, the ancient stained-glass windows, which dated back to the end of the Anglo-Dutch Wars era, were shattered. By the 1660s, the Ascendancy was battling a strange plague in England that caused an individual to become obsessed with another member of the opposite sex, and when the rejection came, the victim would kill himself. Called the Lovelorn Plague, this was caused by magic goblin named “Rumpelstilskin,” of the Brothers Grimm fame. The mischievous goblin was promptly arrested and tried in the Court of Hundreds in Geldern Abbey. He received 9 years in prison, too short for then-Praetor Rex Leonardo’s liking, however. What people didn’t know was that the characters of the Brothers Grimm fairy tales were real, just suppressed by human memory and time. At least, until the Tempelritter invasion. At the same time as the “Court of Hundreds vs. Rumpelstilskin” case, the Dutch navy was dealing with the oddity of finding a young woman with extremely pale skin, black hair and a very elaborate dress, but she puzzled the Dutch admirals given the fact that even though she was in a casket she wasn’t dead, but not fully alive either. There was a message written on her casket; “SOME DAY MY PRINCE WILL COME.” However, that prince never came. The case of “Snow White” was never figured out by the Ascendancy, until Praetor Leonardo’s Generals cornered the perpetrator: an evil queen in a dark, German forest castle who fed the woman a poisoned apple. After a brutal wizard’s duel with the queen’s minions, the queen was arrested and tried for kidnapping, unlawful imprisonment, first-degree murder and crimes against humanity. She was condemned to death and executed in the same room of her castle where she had tortured and imprisoned hundreds of her enemies. That tradition of justice and peace in both the Haze and human realms was now under mortal threat. However, the Ascendancy would fight to the last man. Oliver and Bering dispatched several more possessed Nazi soldiers, corrupted by Guggenberger’s dark sorcery. What few new students in the Abbey’s Praxeum knew was that Guggenberger once attended the same school. He was blind from birth, so he used his immense magic powers, far greater than usual, to find his way around. He was accepted into the Praxeum at age 9, where he studied very well. He was considered to be one of the most brilliant students ever to attend the Praxeum, earning medals and awards for his efforts. However, there was one girl at the school who saw something in him that no one else did. She could just sensethat there was something not quite right about Guggenberger, and that he was a psychotic murderer. No one believed her, but it was moot when Guggenberger was blamed for her sudden disappearance. He was indeed guilty, as he would NOT tolerate any bratty girl telling himwhat to do. Unfortunately for the Ascendancy, the extraordinarily gifted “Blind Sorcerer” defected to the Tempelritters, and now he was answerable only to Daisuke Morimoto. His ability to kill simply by looking into another’s eyes was a testament to just how powerful he was. He looked like an evil version of Beethoven, with the same face structure, just with a far more eerie vibe. Oliver and Bering finally arrived at the power generator for the Abbey’s defenses…only to find none other than Guggenberger himself waiting for them on the opposite side of the blast door, his menacing visage standing in the doorway. Oliver rushed to engage, but Guggenberger simply opened his anguished red eyes and stared directly at Oliver as he drew his wand. “CLOSE YOUR EYES, OLIVER!!” Bering yelled, but it was too late. Oliver dropped dead on the spot. “This is not your fight, you worthless creature.” Guggenberger hissed, kicking the General’s body aside. “So, Johann, I did not expect to see you ever again, yet, regrettably, here we are. Only one of us can leave alive. To have fallen so far and learned nothing, you never deserved those medals, Guggenberger; after all, I was always the more studious one. “Bering taunted, bringing back recollections of Bering and Guggenberger’s time as classmates in the Praxeum. “The failure is yours. No longer do your preachy, goody-two shoes attitude crawl though my ears. No longer do the wizards of darkness suffer under the Ascendancy’s teachings. And now you run in search of the Red Woman. She will not stop the darkness that is to come.” Guggenberger drew his skull-handled wand, followed by Bering. “If one of us is to die, I say we finish this now. For the past 30 years, I have longed for this moment. With your death, the Ascendancy will cease to exist.” Guggenberger taunted, raising his wand. “Do your worst.” Bering responded.
The city was ablaze with flaming buildings and pockmarked by blast craters, with dead Knowledge Sorcerers and civilians lying everywhere. The Draco-Wizard Alliance troops had arrived after the 3rd wave of unmanned hypersonic aircraft finished the bombardment; the last building to take was the Great Pyramid of Knowledge, looming high and snow covered in the thin mountain air. The remaining Knowledge Sorcerers had fallen back to defend the Pyramid, where the locations of the remaining 3 Icons were; after they were recovered, Guggenberger was leading his forces to Geldern Abbey to retrieve the last Icon. However, the Grand Masters of the Knowledge Order, the sorcerers that represented the 7 Universal Seasons, Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall, Deep Night, Holy Sun and Storms, would be waiting for Veek, Eisner, Radu and later General Santiago, who was arriving in a shuttle to oversee the final defeat and occupation of the City of Knowledge. The Season sorcerers, the King of Autumn Leaves, the Empress of the Ice, the Maiden of Spring, the Lord of Summer, the Baron of Deep Night, the Warrior of Holy Sun, and the Magician of Dusk were supremely powerful; they manipulated the weather at will. Even for Veek, Radu, Eisner and Santiago, this would be a colossal challenge. Just then, a mighty rumbling and ground quaking noise was heard, roaring through the wrecked City of Knowledge while Veek, Radu and Eisner were walking through the ruins. They looked to the south, into India, and saw a colossal fleet of massive “super dreadnaughts” and “airplane carriers,” looming over the peak of K2. Santiago’s fleet had arrived in an extremely glorious fashion; the Sky Fleets, made up of enormous, jet-powered airships, were now under Draco-Wizard Alliance control, these were commandeered after Russia’s fall to the wizards, and the City of Knowledge had no defense against the massive plasma cannons ready to burn the last bastion of the city to the ground. The fleet consisted of 12 Dreadnaughts and 3 carriers, which were now charging their cannons and releasing piloted fighters; these were human pilots flying on behalf of the Draco-Wizard Alliance; as millions of people, finally surrendering to the fact that the wizards now ruled the Earth in a global Empire, joined their armies to crush the last vestiges of the Old Order. With one savage strike, the City of Knowledge’s main Pyramid would be brought to its knees.
Aboard the carrier Shadow of the Past, both Santiago and Lily, once again wearing a ridiculous, black dress with her huge dark angel-wings on her back and her typical “bicorn” hat-shaped hair, stood primed for victory. “This is the Super Dreadnaught Iron Glory, our main cannons are charged, permission to fire, sir?” “Affirmative, you may fire when ready.” Santiago said, in a rather sinister tone. “All right, crones, prepare to be vaporized!” the captain of the Iron Glory said, haughtily. “Must our troops always use such cheesy, stereotypical battle cries?” Lily said, adjusting her hair. “Patience, sweetheart, we will win this war soon enough.” Lily rolled her eyes. “Keep in mind that I am also one of the five Lords, along with you, Mathematician Guggenberger and Daisuke, and I don’t like the idea of you calling me “sweetheart. I don’t like you, and I will never be attracted to you. So give me some space, or I will curse you forever.” Santiago wisely stepped back as Lily pointed her wand at him. “Alright, forget I said anything!” She wasn’t bluffing; as a fallen angel, Lily was immortal, and had served under Nazkreki during the original war, she was the only remaining veteran of the Origin Dynasty, and she had been one of Elizabeth Bathory’s accomplices, had appeared before Vlad Dracula to advise him, and was the witch responsible for keeping Rapunzel locked in the tower; the Brothers Grimm stories were all true, only forgotten, erased from memory by the horrific memories of those days. Lily was still bitter about that prince rescuing Rapunzel, even though after just 3 weeks, Lily had killed the Prince and tortured Rapunzel for 3 days straight, before she died. Before Lily could respond, the huge cannons on the Iron Glory fired their burning plasma rays in a colossal sunbeam of radiant heat directly at the remainder of the stranding city, reducing to glassy dust. After three hits from two other Super Dreadnaughts, all that remained was molten slag…and the Pyramid.
At the time of the bombardment, Radu, Veek and Eisner were already in the Pyramid’s glorious stained-glass walls and windows. Now, there was only darkness and dust. The sun would never rise again for the City of Knowledge; its dying hour was nigh…Amazingly; the 7 Seasons Wizards surrendered without a fight. They were too broken to continue their war, however, the King of Autumn Leaves, just before he was killed, broke a small glass trinket, called the “Seraphim Cross,” and uttered his last words…”We 7 shall return, and all those lost will be avenged by the Seraphim World…” The Draco-Wizard Alliance didn’t care, victory was now assured. Just then, the wizards received word that Geldern Abbey was in ruins. Guggenberger arrived in a fleet of airships as well and simply bombed the Abbey to dust. In just 15 minutes, the war was over, and the Draco-Wizard Alliance declared victory. Now, the Dark Kingdom of the Haze Realm and all that was in it would replace the Old Order. The Red Woman would be sealed away in the Haze Realm forever, and the dark sorcerers would rule forevermore, as soon as Guggenberger brought all five Icons together. The location of the other three was in plain sight, literally on the altar in front of Veek. Guggenberger, with his army of followers, appeared out of a black, sickly haze with the last 2 Icons. Veek had the greatest honor of all; he would place the gems, pulsating with radiant light, upon the altar. He did just that, and, as expected, things began to happen all over the world, heralding the end that befell the Xaati 9000 years prior…
In New York City, there were screaming, 300 mph, hurricane-force winds that created monstrous 100-foot storm waves, smashing the towering skyscrapers with impunity. Thousands were drowning and cowering in fear from the sudden manifestation of the storm, but the storm was too vast, too powerful, and Manhattan began to sink into the rising storm surge. In Siberia, a series of massive F-5 tornadoes destroyed Omsk, Burgundy, and most of Eastern Europe; in California, an unprecedented earthquake destroyed the entire North American West Coast. However, in the midst of this global chaos and tribulation, no other place was so affected by the sudden apocalypse, resulting from the opening of the Haze Gates, the main function of the Icons, than the sky over Jerusalem. It appeared that the epicenter of the terror was directly over the Dome of the Rock in the Holy City, as a massive, swirling black portal, laced with lightning and spouting ancient runes, moving across the blood-red skies like an electronic billboard had opened, creating extreme heat; the few people left there had the clothes burned or blown from their bodies and were kneeling in pain and agony; this was the Rapture, where Jesus would return and deliver the saved, and cast the unsaved into a lake of fire. At least, so it seemed. As the global storms continued to intensify, the sorcerers and their allies were not harmed, which was a dead giveaway that this was NOT the Final Judgment. However, few people remained that opposed the sorcerers; they were all being cleansed by the Tribulation. Eventually, over the ruins of Jerusalem, the black void over the Dome of the Rock began to swell and shiver, until a massive pair of glaring, dilated, psychotic eyes appeared in the sky, glaring down upon all who cowered in fear of them. Then, the portal expanded to such a point that it swallowed up the entire eastern sky, with a loud, booming, drumming sound, and the ancient runes spewing from the void, which led directly to the Haze Realm’s Dark Kingdom. Then, it happened. Hundreds of evil spirits began emerging from the void, and grabbing the cowering mortals, killing them instantly. Behind the invasion of the ghosts, demons, hobgoblins and miasmas came the feet, then the legs, then the torso of the Great Destroyer, the Queen of the Dragon Mages, Malleus Malificarum! As the towering figure of the Dark Queen stood nearly a mile tall, surrounded by thousands of screaming evil souls, she raised her scepter and struck a mighty blow to the earth. Instantly, the shock wave flattened Jerusalem. It then flattened all of Europe, the North Americas, Asia, Africa, Australia and even settlements on Antarctica, no one would be spared. As Malleus stood, looking onward at the scorched, barren Earth with the lightning-wracked skies, she mumbled…”All sorcerers gather before the New Order!” The sorcerers responded all over the world by sending up red flares from their wands. The process of rebuilding the world under wizard and ONLY wizard control would begin now. “I am Overlord…” Malleus hissed. She truly was master of Darkness. Nothing would go unpunished.
“Now, this is how we torture accused fairies, students, watch and learn. The dark professor of Torture 101 at Harvard, now a sick, twisted Draco-Wizard Alliance equivalent of the now wiped Ascendancy Praxeum, approached what appeared to be a very beautiful young woman locked in a spiked, iron cage. She was dressed in a very pretty, puffy red dress with a huge pink bow in her hair, which was long and silky black, complementing her pale, pretty skin and deep, unnaturally blue eyes, and they provided a peaceful splash of color to the dark, torture-instrument laden lecture hall;that eye color was a dead giveaway, if the girl’s eyes were of unnatural colors, they were fairies. The assembly of the Icons had an unexpected effect. The ENTIRE Haze Realm, not just the Dark Kingdom, had been pulled through the portal over Israel, and now the Red Woman was once again a threat, but there had been no sightings of the Gaia-Kami or the Red Woman yet, leaving this poor fairy, trapped in a torture cage and paralyzed from using her magic by an Imprison spell, completely helpless. However, she remained stalwart and steadfast, refusing to give any information as to where her compatriots were; the information given in the Compendium of Haze Realm Life stated that fairies tended to travel in groups, making them appear to be just average girls, but with the ability to fly and perform magic. That was it. The professor had enough of this “game,” and drew his wand, pointed it at Lena the fairy’s head. “Misery Fog!”he said, hissing triumphantly. A black, sickly fog enveloped Lena completely, as she began to scream in pain and torment; the spell was causing her to live out her worst fears over and over again, after about 5 minutes of this, she died of fright. “Now, students, take note of this…there will be a test.” The Tempelritter students quickly scribbled down the style in which the professor tortured and the wand position, which was very important for proper spell casting. There were several ranks at which a Draco-Wizard Alliance sorcerer could aspire to, the most prestigious one being Lord High Chancellor. The only ones that reached this height, however, were the true tyrants of the Haze Realm; a recent graduate from this academy was a man who ascended to this rank simply identified himself as “Fisherman.” An individual who attained high status in the New Order may have had to slaughter thousands of individuals in practice and receive extremely high marks on exams. However, the Great Monument in Ilex City, the capital of the wizard world empire, spoke volumes about the exploits of the dark sorcerers of the Haze Realm. The capital was a vast city, with the famous hanging gardens of Babylon restored; however, there was always a dark, sinister detail about everything. The flowers lining the vast hanging gardens often fired poisonous barbs, coated with TTX poison at anyone who tried to sniff them, and they could grow astonishingly fast, wrapping their eerie tendrils around anything that offered them a holdfast. There was always a cold, chilly wind in the air, not too dissimilar to the kind of wind that made you shiver with fright. Chess games were played with tiny demonic chess pieces that howled and cursed at their opposing sides, The Imperial Haze Realm Orchestra played various pieces, but, no matter how cheery the music was supposed to be, it always sounded scary; the Imperial Choir’s voices all sounded psychotic when they spoke, but eerily haunting when they sung. Sometimes, inanimate objects were simply demons in disguise, such as a giant, chomping piano that played itself; it was very partial to Mussorgsky’s Night on Bald Mountain or Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D-Minor, or a bed that killed whoever lay in it. Also, the Great Tower of Spooks, which looked like a crooked mushroom, was where the constantly marching Wizard Monks worshipped the altar of darkness. It was a creepy, but spectacular city; with the Governor’s High Council atop the giant Tower of Spooks watching over everything, the 4 Grand High Wizards ruling over a council of 45 other Tempelritters and Dragon Mages. Keeping with the ominous theme, various storybooks read to children of the New Order included “Gina the Gene Splicer” and “A Young Person’s Guide to Torture Methods.” “An early education is critical.” Dragon Master Mar of Lucifer, now the Minister of Educational and Informational Policies for the New Order, pointed out. “Teaching our children to practice dark arts is critical for preserving our society.” Even something as mundane as the lottery jackpots were tainted with darkness, as the lottery number caller was a ghost; the winner of the lottery, there was only one, would occasionally win the ability to become “Dictator for a Day” for their particular town, but they could be removed from power by the government in Ilex City at any time. The prize was always different, every day, although some of these prizes were rather ridiculous. However, there was a 330-page disclaimer that was given to the winner of these contests, and it was all written in “legalese.” This detailed 330 prohibited activities for use with the lottery’s prizes, some of which were pointless, and the lottery staff that awarded the prizes were enormous, creepy skeletal crows called Korvax, they had no organs, flesh or sinew, they were just bare, animated skeletons dressed in Aztec or Mayan-type robes, woven from feathers and animal hides. They looked like Aztec ghouls seen on their st one carvings. They were also, bizarrely, unrelentingly vicious warriors; they were employed by the Lottery agency to “straighten out” any disputes. News was broadcast over “Omnivision” by “Death God Cossacks,” spirits of demise with Russian accents, huge, black, wide-brimmed hats and red and black robes. No one ever saw their face, as their huge hats protected them from light. They were unrelentingly vicious warriors, riding with the moon in the dead of night, their glowing red eyes betraying their presence. The only way to keep them away from a lonely campsite or cabin in the wilderness, where their enclaves usually stood, was to keep lanterns hanging outside on the porch; however, their arrows were more than capable of shooting lanterns from long range, giving the occupants a few minutes warning before the Death Gods descended on the trespassers like vultures to a carcass. The Death God Cossacks were fishermen, farmers, mechanics, blacksmiths or any other job imaginable, but they were all trained in lethal combat; they always worked the graveyard shift, however, sometimes literally, as a few of them worked as cemetery guards. Some of these Cossacks had a penchant for eating a fruit called a Paradise Lemon, which gave them a state of euphoria similar to a marijuana addict getting “high.” However, this high actually focused their minds on combat, and it was often customary to drink a glass of the fruit’s juice before a battle. “News,” however, often consisted of obituaries, police blotters discussing “criminals” being arrested for “unspecified reasons,” the Daily Cooking tips from “Fisherman,” the aforementioned top graduate from the Academy, he often used the meat of other sentient life, such as “fingers of fairies” and “wings of pixies” in his cooking. Another popular Omnivision show was a series of documentaries that covered the “Biology of Hobgoblins;” there were 500 known types, and they always took the form of something inanimate or harmless. They used various attacks, and wizard scientists and alchemists had developed an entire branch of biology to study their lives and habits. Some were viewed as vermin; however, some were revered and honored. Some were weak, yet some rivaled the Gaia-Kami in power. One particular species that caused a lot of problems was called “Chandelash,” it was a Spectral-Class goblin that pretended to be a glorious chandelier; it drew in its victims with its mesmerizing blue glow. Like a bug zapper drawing in a fly, it electrocutes the unfortunate victim and eats its soul. It uses the same type of magic as the Tempelritters and the Dragon Mages use, making it extraordinarily powerful. With beady red eyes and a tiny mouth, it seems harmless, but underestimating it is a mistake. The greatest place in the New Order was a “Dark Camelot,” or a creepy, spooky equivalent of Versailles, on the same spot that the original one occupied in France; only this new palace was even bigger. Facing the foreboding castle, a vast garden of verdant, thorny bushes and pretty but toxic flowers lined a cobbled, brick pathway past hauntingly beautiful topiaries, as if to lull one into complacency about the true nature of the place. Upon walking up to the main courtyard, huge fountains spouted misty, foggy drizzles that cast a permanent fog over the entrance, marked by a giant statue of Wenslaus Nazkreki, the last leader of the original Origin Dynasty. If one were to enter, they would see purple chandeliers that looked like paper lanterns, with eerie blue flames, and some of them were Chandelash goblins, to serve as bodyguards for any wizards coming in and out, and a security system to stop any unauthorized guests from coming in. These chandeliers were hanging in a gloomy, funereal hallway that was lit only by the eerie blue glow of the chandeliers’ flames, and lined with mirrors that distorted the images of anyone who looked in them. Huge paintings of famous Tempelritter and Dragon Mage wizards hung on the walls above those mirrors, and wrought-iron gargoyles looking down over the hallway, with a weird-looking carpet covering the floor. Occasionally, a line of chanting sages would march down the creepy hallways. The other rooms throughout the palace were just as eerie, giving the Dark Camelot the designation of “Jewel in the Crown” of the New Order. The occupant of this enormous palace was King of the Wizard Dominion of France Jean-Claude II; looking like King Louis XIV, he was put in place by Lord High Wizard Johann Guggenberger as leader of Europe’s second-most powerful territory, France, aside from Germany. Jean-Claude was as brutal as Guggenberger and as elitist as Louis XIV once was, under him, Wizard France, and therefore Wizard Europe, controlled Canada, Madagascar, India, Indonesia, IndoChina and parts of the Caribbean and West Africa, under the watchful authority of Roan Martin’s New Spain in the former NORTH AMERICA In Russia, Lily, the fallen angel witch, had the whole of the former USSR under her control, as the Union of Sorcerer and Sage Republics. The nation was now completely converted to sorcery; even the Cossacks were wizards, riding huge galloping Atlas and Hercules beetles as battle mounts. There was a also a wizard named Rip Van Winkle; the same Rip Van Winkle from Washington Irving’s folk tale, except he wore a black robe and cape, with a huge, wide-brimmed hat and had very frightening fang-like teeth and tri-focal glasses, with three lenses for each eye. He considered himself to be a “good man” for helping “anyone who needs anything” with his magic, but if they couldn’t pay the price, he reaped their souls and turned them into sluggish, anguished energies that grew like a garden outside his cave, where he operated his “business.” Religion, other than the Tempelritter philosophies, was brutally persecuted, as any non-wizard subject who even so much spoke about biblical texts was sent to a Horror House and tortured to death. More than 90% of Christians were wiped out, which is the way it should be. The wizards hunted them for sport, like a hunter killing an animal, they were thrown into mazes and forced to escape booby traps, but they were always killed and crucified on satanic crosses or pentagrams, and hung out in public to make examples of “traitors to the New Order.” The Haze Earth militaries used the same vehicles as they did during the wars that created this new world, now in full glory. It was a magnificent, but frightening world. However, the King of the Haze Realm, Daisuke Morimoto, ruled over everything with the power of the Icons, with the Queen of the Dragon Mages, Malleus Malificarum, ruled over the Dragon Mage citizens. Daisuke’s castle was in Ilex City, on the ancient site of Babylon, where the shadows lay and the wind chilled the soul. Aside from the great gardens, the castle had a huge pumpkin patch on the front lawn. Babylon was now the capital of the world empire, with peace, prosperity and stability standing in for the Old Order of war and destruction. After nearly 1,000 years, the Origin Dynasty was finally avenged with the coming of the new tribulation and now the Wizard World Empire. The Empire would live forevermore. However, that night, the city of Ilex was attending the travelling Circus of the Dumb, so-called because of its Ringmaster’s preference for luring and kidnapping dopey, airheaded women and stuck-up, over-muscled men to work in the circus, as brainwashed slaves. They were under the control of Lord Bozo, possibly one of the most psychotic inhabitants of the Haze Realm Earth; he had a creepy, horse-like face, an eerie, psychotic grin, glowing, pupil-less eyes that blinked horizontally, a clownish ruff around his collar, and a huge top hat, not to mention he took the form of a dark fog that only occasionally took the form of a human-like entity. He also carried a whip as well. His shows were just as macabre as his appearance. He would often brainwash his performers into attempting death-defying tricks without any safety measures, or engage in self- mutilation. The Emperor, Daisuke Morimoto was very fond of his shows, when he was not managing his enormous clock collection in Ilex City, in addition to the music box that he had trapped his former mistress in for eternity in the forests of Eastern Europe. He thought about her every now and then, just how pretty she was, and how talented she was at singing and acting; she was nothing but a memory now, however. As the huge line of patrons, all wizards, went to go see the circus, one particular wizard, a man named Andrew Kinsley looked overhead as a huge airship flew over, like the ones that destroyed Geldern Abbey and the City of Knowledge. He wasn’t thinking about the show, however, but a certain someone, someone who he couldn’t get out of his head…Ariel Malenkova. She was one of the 282 million citizens of the USSR, completely controlled by Premiere Lily, living in the eastern part of the Belarusian S.S.R. She was a pianist, who sat around all day playing the piano and watching dumb, pointless Omnivision shows, such as “My Last Autumn,” a show about a wizard who falls in love on Halloween, and triggers a huge drama-ridden plot line, and “Bury Me in the Pumpkin Patch;” another dumb drama. Andrew didn’t get it, but he thought she was one of the prettiest girls he’d ever met. Her pink outfit was adorable. However, she was the head of the “Pink Army,” a female detachment of the Union of Sorcerer and Sage Republic Red Army, and was very firm, but very fair and would never ask her troops to do what she would not. The USSR had kept its communist ideology, and kept the Marxist ideas that there should be no social class separation between wizards of different types, or any class-advantages, such as a very pretty girl or rich man getting ahead in life simply because they were pretty or rich, as a matter of fact, no one was even allowed to be rich. She wasn’t someone to mess around with. As the airship passed over, the lights of the circus tent and the creepy tune of “Entrance of the Gladiators” played loudly. In the box seats under the big top, a government guest would be sitting, none other than the Mathematician and his wizard guards; he looked rather grizzled from his advancing age, born in 1989, but his mind and magic powers were so powerful that he was still widely feared; he had the blood of thousands on his hands, including hundreds of young women that he had been staring at…not to creep, but to kill with his telekinetic powers. He didn’t call it stalking, he called it hunting. “People go hunting for turkeys, deer and bears, so why is hunting for people such a big deal?” the Mathematician had said. Indeed, he did literally hunt people; he’d throw people into a “game” where whoever wasn’t shot by his hunters would be allowed to go free. As the circus patrons entered the tent, they took their seats, including Kinsley, and the refreshment plates kept refilling themselves after every serving. There were owls sitting in the corner, huge Spook Owls from the Haze Realm, and the big top was decorated with a huge night sky design and a smirking, evil moon face; the lights of the circus were huge, hovering jack o’ lanterns, However, one of the darkest sorcerers in the Haze Realm was also watching the circus, but unseen. His name was Hexus Septimus, and he was as cruel as he was mysterious. He was implicated in the genocide of all species of talking animals in the Haze Realm; all “sentients” as he called them, were completely extinct. He rode specially designed “Speed Flyer” machines; one was called the Blitz Flyer, which could fly at nearly 500 miles per hour with Septimus piloting the craft on the glowing wings of technology. It was flown like a hang glider, with no cockpit protection, however, Septimus knew how to avoid getting swept away at high speed; he was strapped in, and he used magic to guide the vehicle. The other one, the Lordly Iron Hand, was a ground-effect anti-gravity vehicle that zoomed across the land at speeds of 300 miles per hour, at that speed; it could shatter any other vehicle simply by ramming it, save a main battle tank. His spells included many ancient techniques, but he was primarily a necromancer. He had been sealed away in a deep, underground prison after his attack on the Habsburg Austrian Empire’s capital in 1820; trying to create a kingdom of his own, Placed in a state of stasis, when the Tempelritters returned, he once again crept forth from the depths of the Earth, eager to resume his dark designs in both the Haze Realm and the Human Realm. He was an immortal Dragon Mage, and had a considerable hand in the destruction of the ancient Xaati kingdom more than 9,000 years before, which was a huge, prosperous nation that occupied all of Eurasia and most of Scandinavia and Eastern Europe, ruled by the Ayyara, or King of the Snow. The Xaati and the Red Woman managed to hold Septimus off, until he returned with a far greater force. Despite the Xaati’s power and influence, the proto-civilization that died in the early Holocene was completely destroyed by the Dragon Mages; various empires existed, such as the Huatl Empire in Mexico and most of western North North America, the Pharonic Forerunner Empire in North Africa and Egypt, long before the first pyramid was even built; the Pharonic Forerunners had built vast, staggering pyramids that even the Great Pyramid of Giza couldn’t compare with. The later Egyptians simply imitated these long lost structures. The legendary Empire of Atlantis, which existed in the Mediterranean, and had huge ships sailing everywhere on Earth, was the most advanced Empire of the proto-world. The final Empire was the Yonaguni Empire, which consisted of Japan and parts of China. All were lost to the Dragon Mages, and only mysterious, scattered records survived; the Minoans were the last vestiges of the Antlanteans, practicing the culture of Atlantis until the colossal Minoan eruption of Thera in the second millennium BCE, which scored a high-end VEI 7, possibly even a super eruption (VEI 8). Atlantis and the other societies had electricity, indoor plumbing, advanced medical practices, even the power of flight, long before any other society had evolved or developed, and Atlantis’ global reach, from the same borders as the Byzantine Empire during Justinian’s reign to areas as distant as Australia, was the source of the mysterious “Unknown Tablets” which were mysterious clay cuneiform tablets written in a bizarre, lost language totally unknown to the modern world…or the ancient one. The Dragon Mages had obliterated this proto-society, giving rise to the legends of apocalyptic monsters found in almost every modern culture. Truly evil and maniacal, Septimus was feared even by other Dragon Mages and Tempelritters. Also, sitting in one of the box seats was a truly gorgeous young woman, a girl by the name of Helena Meerjungfrau, her last name German for “mermaid.” She wasn’t a true mermaid, they could only survive outside of water for 3 hours before they died of water loss and asphyxiation; mermaids couldn’t breathe air, and they flopped around like fish when out of water on a boat deck. Helena was far worse. Mermaids would sing, and draw sailors to their doom on sharp rocks, but Helena was an ocean spirit, the commander of the Weather Witch Legion, part of the USSR’s Red Army special forces. True to her nationality, she was from Lithuania, more specifically the port of Memel in the Klaipeda region of Lithuania, on the border with Estonia. During the war, Guggenberger’s troops defeated the Russians there, and the Union of Sorcerer and Sage Republics took the non-wizard Russian government’s place. Helena, however, was extremely pushy, high-mantinence, spoiled and nasty, but she was still insanely pretty, with a long, black dress, a huge black pearl necklace, a headband and a lily in her long brown hair, which made her striking blue eyes and pale skin stand out even more. She could be sweet one minute, then hopping mad and sqealing the next. However, you wouldn’t want to make her angry, as she controlled any storm pattern, be it a tornado, hurricane, blizzard, ice storm, supercell thunderstorm, extratropical storm, mesoscale convective complex, derecho, or whatever. Make her mad, and she would knock your house flat. Unfortunately, that was a very easy thing to do, so if she told you to do something, you’d best do it and do it right. She could also meld herself with the surface of the ocean, looking like a neon animation scrolling across the water’s surface. Then, of course, every Haze Realm wizard or citizen knew about the 7 Season Sorcerers, the King of Autumn Leaves, the Empress of the Ice, the Maiden of Spring, the Lord of Summer, the Baron of Deep Night, the Warrior of Holy Sun, and the Magician of Dusk, and the mysterious netherworld called “Seraphim,” supposedly where the Haze Realm’s bane existed, however, they were defeated at the Battle of the Pyramid of Knowledge, as was the accursed Red Woman, however, she was probably still on Earth somewhere, as the Haze Realm and everything in it was brought to Earth after the Rapture. However, there was no hope of ever seeing the Red Woman again. If she did appear, Mathematician and his killing stare would kill her, just like he did with those paranoid idiots in high school and college. He was largely considered to be the scariest individual anyone ever met, and he certainly lived up to these expectations. He would legitimately stalk young women in the same way that a hunter stalks a turkey or deer; he’d hack their social networking page, find out their information, and wait until no one was around before simply walking through the wall of the house, invisible, and walking into the girl’s bedroom with the lights off. When she walked into the room, he’d be right there, and soundly dispatch her with one stare. His general appearance was eerie enough; he had grayish-white hair with a part down the middle, a pointed beard, sideburns and a beaky, weird nose, with creepy, sallow, sunken eyes. He spoke German, English and various other, arcane wizard tongues, with a sickening, wrinkly face. Mathematician was also Grand Master of the Teutonic Sorcerer Legion, giving him immense power over the citizens of the Haze Earth; he was answerable only to Emperor Daisuke, and essentially the second in command of the entire planet. Much like pre-TempelritterEarth’s Heinrich Himmler, Mathematician was perhaps the most feared figure in the world. The Teutonic Legion wore black uniforms with white surcoats, decorated with Iron Cross patterns, carried swords and shields, and rode huge black wolves the size of hippos. They rode around on their huge wolfen mounts, burning houses to the ground and terrorizing enclaves of “deviants” from the New Order. Riding under cover of night, they were completely undetectable, until the howling war cry of their huge wolves alerted the terrified, sleeping individuals, only by that point, it was too late. Like all Tempelritters and Tempelritter-allied organizations, they were followers of Illuminati ideals…however, another legion of darkness was about to be unleashed, one that was related to the Tempelritters in some ways, but more closely allied with the Dragon Mages…The Covenant of the Dark Ones.
At the circus, the sorcerers in the audience took their seats, Septimus and Helena Meerjungfrau sat in their box seats, as did several Covenant members, with their flag, the Roundel of Blasphemy, as Lord Bozo was a Covenant wizard. The Covenant sorcerers were masters of voodoo, with the ability to summon shadows, raise the dead, shrink heads, create zombies, kill with dolls, transfigure and splice organisms into homunculi and cJapanras, as well as, much in the same way as the Dragon Mages, train the huge dragons of various species, such as the Freeze-Storm Dragon, an 60-foot long, icy, vicious species living in the northern tundra in the USSR, feeding on polar bears and humans if they weren’t careful. There were the Levia-Dragoons, huge sea serpent dragons that preyed on ships, then the three Legendary Chaos Dragons, the Cursed Dragon, Cave Dragons, Spirit Ryujo Dragons, Red Demon Dragons and the dreaded Neutron-Storm Hydra, with three gigantic heads and unfathomable power. The greatest dragon; however, was the Imperial God Dragon, which lived in small numbers in remote areas. There were more than 900 species altogether. Before the Ascendancy’s demise at the hands of Johann Guggenberger, dragons were banned, but now, only darkness reigned. Lord Bozo emerged into the center ring of the demented circus, with his glowing white eyes, and held out his whip. “Ladies and gentlemen, witches and wizards, please direct your attention to the center ring, for our opening act!!” The audience looked into the center of the circus, and two individuals stood tied to wooden stakes. “Now, these poor sods have been possessed by a curse, one that makes them hungry to the point where they feel like they are starving…let’s see what happens when we release them?” Bozo cracked his whip, untying the ropes that held the anguished-faced victims. Sure enough, the victims began fighting to the death…they were trying to eat each other, because of the effects of the dark curse. Just then, the woman suddenly died… “MATHEMATICIAN!!” Bozo yelled, looking at Mathematician’s eerie, dilated pupils, fixated squarely on the half-eaten woman. “Why do you always ruin my show?!” “Can it, clown! Don’t make me send the Teutonic Order after you, because their wolves are hungry. Your show is pathetic.” Mathematician hissed in his German accent. “This is my show, not yours, now you can leave if you don’t like this!” Mathematician snapped his fingers as three huge wolves, with mounted, fully-armored knights riding atop them entered the big top, swords drawn. “I’m warning you for the last time, improve your act or you will be flayed alive.” Bozo had no choice. “I present my finale, “The Spider Feed!” “What…?” Mathematician said, not amused…the Teutonic Knights charged forward, ripping Lord Bozo to pieces, with everyone else looking on in fear. Mathematician walked down towards the center ring, waved the Knights aside, stood atop the ringmaster’s stand, and proceeded to lecture the crowd.
“Let me give you a little lesson in ‘proper etiquette’ When someone in a greater position of power than you are tells you to do something, you’d best do it and do it right! Ideas are very dangerous things, and it seems that you citizens and this mangled corpse are forgetting your place. Therefore, anyone who even so much as utters a peep for the next hour will be sent directly to a Horror House. That is an order. Even for you, Helena and Septimus.” Even Helena and Septimus knew that they were outmatched here. Mathematician held as much power as any of the Lord High Wizards, including Johann Guggenberger, in charge of Europe, Santiago Espiñola, in charge of North America, Lily the Fallen Angel, in charge of the Union of Sorcerer and Sage Republics, and even Grand Master Daisuke Morimoto, Lord of All. Mathematician wasn’t in charge of everything, but he was perhaps the most feared wizard in the Haze Realm. The crowd wisely shut their mouths as Mathematician marched around the room, looking at the corpses of the two victims of Bozo’s tricks, and Bozo’s own corpse, being eaten by the wolves. Just then, a young woman, so terrified of the scene, stood up and tried to flee. She never had a chance. The wolves growled and cut her off from the exit, and Mathematician approached the young woman, wand drawn. She cowered in fear as he fired a horrific red laser beam, burning her eyes out, but leaving her perfectly healthy otherwise. Screaming in terror and pain, Mathematician smirked. “You don’t want to watch my show? Now your wish is granted.” The woman collapsed to the ground, and the Teutonic wolves ripped her to shreds…just then, a loud roaring noise was heard outside, with a bizarre metallic clang…Mathematician recognized the sound right away… “She’s back…” Mathematician had not experienced such inkling since his curse on Pine Bush High School, which killed everyone from the 2007 class, except for one girl, which his dark “Shadow Ghouls,” evil, shadowy, demonic entities later found and soundly dispatched many years ago. He still remembered summoning those demons and chanting the ancient spells: “Yat tuai, Yat unfilete! Yat tuai Yat unfilete! Efte shaakte Efte shaakte, Mot tuee, piscina! KOKI NA, KOKI NA, PARADUCE, PARADUCE!!!” He never had the opportunity to summon his Army of Shadows again, but with the return of the Red Woman, he would soon have to. “Times of war are still upon us…” Mathematician said, contemplating his next move. There could be no fall-ups.
“Wow…this is the New Order…looks like Rapture if there ever was one…” Sam and her erstwhile companion Constantine said as they stood in a forested region outside of an old temple of sorts, along with many Xaati soldiers. Just then, however, a shimmering figure, glowing with the radiance of a huge, orange sun, appeared in front of her. “Who…?” Sam said, startled. “I am the King…the King of Autumn Leaves; one of the 7 Immortal Seasons…you have nothing to fear from me…if you follow my statutes. I am from the Seraphim Realm, the light realm, as the Haze Realm is the dark realm. You, Red Woman, are Samantha the Radiant One, one of our minions. Your energy has been manifested as the originally prophesized return of the Red Woman. You must fulfill this prophecy. This is not the Rapture as you are told by your holy texts and eschatology, but a variant of what was prophesized…the Bible was written by the Xaati, as a warning against the return of the Dark Sorcerers and the statutes of living virtuously. Revelations, the last book of the New Testament, was a metaphoric description of the Darkness’ return, and how you would deliver the message to the 7 Monuments to the Seraphim Realm, each one home to the last remnants of the Ascendancy and virtuous entities on Earth; the message of our return to Earth, for the final battle, the colossal Struggle of Our Time…These Monuments are located on each of the seven Continents, you will know them when you see them. I must go, but follow my order, and we shall cleanse the planet of dark influence. The one the evil calls Mathematician is already aware of your presence. See you shortly, Radiant One.” Sam gasped as the King of Autumn Leaves vanished into nothing. “Looks like we’ve got a job to do.” Constantine said. “Well, where are we now?” “Where you aren’t supposed to be…” an echoing, moaning voice exclaimed from behind Sam and Konstantin. Sam drew her sword and saw a psychotic white face with eerie, demented eyes, and horrid, insane grin and no visible body, just a huge black shadow, standing in front of her. Not even flinching, Sam swung her blade, landing it clear in the entity’s forehead. The entity vanished, after moaning for 5 seconds. “Lousy ghost…” Sam snapped, angrily. “That thing was…disturbing.” “Maybe we should leave here. I do believe we’re somewhere in Europe, given the flags.” Sam said, pointing at the German Europe flag flying from a mast. They were near a port, with the ocean being right along a dock. Just then, however, a rumbling noise shook the ground beneath their feet. “Panzers! Hide!” Sam yelled as she and Constantine ran behind a huge garbage can, as 3 huge Tiger tanks, using the most advanced technology available, hovered past, with black-uniformed European soldiers, under the command of Johann Guggenberger, Supreme Lord of Europe, and sitting atop the coaxial turret gunner positions. Sam and Constantine didn’t even breathe as the tanks whirred past, not to draw any attention to themselves; they had no chance against a 77-ton tank, and after that, came a black limousine with the windows rolled down, and inside sat two young people a man and woman, each one of them extremely powerful. One had long reddish-brown hair and glasses, as well as a very snooty-looking face, a pale, almost perfect complexion, blue eyes and a pentagram necklace, and the man she was with had black hair and a black suit with a blue cape and sword. The limo was also hovering and robotic, with no driver; it followed the tanks down the street, but suddenly, Constantine thought he heard someone talking in the car about “a secret cloning project, funded by Herr Guggenberger himself,” was in its final stages, to create the most powerful hobgoblin ever seen, a genetically enhanced version of the already super-powerful Titanus species. Sam looked livid upon seeing the limousine’s occupants. “How is he still alive?!” “Who?” “That man was Ferdinand Kulakov…also known as Lucian Moonraiser” “What?! I though he was killed!” “Perhaps Guggenberger killed a decoy, and then enlisted the help of Lucian…” Sam whispered. “It makes sense, he’d take power without losing an ally…and that woman was Noelle Klimt, the other woman that was jealous of me when I was dating Lucian…this is a personal matter. We’re following that car.” “What about the mission?” “The King of Autumn Leaves didn’t say the order in which we were to visit the Monuments. Get your gun and let’s go.” Constantine grabbed his assault rifle instead of his sniper rifle and followed Sam…and the convoy. They tried to avoid being spotted by the Tigers, whose magnetic superconductor antigravity generators made an eerie moaning sound as they slowly moved through the streets of a rather destitute neighborhood of haphazardly constructed tenement houses and abandoned homes, with no one around. As the tanks and limousine rounded a corner, they proceeded to cross a huge inlet, with the tide roaring past underneath it. “That’s the Klaipeda Inlet Bridge…we must be in Eastern Europe somewhere, probably Lithuania.” Just then, the man on the main cannon atop the huge tank paused, looked around, as if trying to find something. Sam and Konstantin didn’t move a muscle. He was suspicious; however, that someone was following the convoy as the vehicles crossed the bridge into a gated area, guarded by two soldiers. The gates were opened with a salute from the guards, and the convoy quickly crossed into the base camp of “Project MYST,” which Sam assumed to be the cloning facility for the “super-hobgoblin.” “How are we gonna get in there? There’re guards everywhere!” Constantine whispered. “There’s got to be some alternate entrance, with fewer guards and no tanks,” of which there were more than 10 parked in a lot near the main entrance, which loomed large over the complex. “If only I had a sniper rifle…” Constantine lamented. The sign on the gate read “LONE PINE PEAK RESEARCH FACILITY,” and there were also prison trucks; the scientists probably did experiments on people too. “I wish we had some kind of electronic device, perhaps we could scan the base with it?” “No…that’s a bad idea. There are ghosts that haunt cyberspace here, and if you open a file that has one in it, you’re dead. I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Constantine wisely put his computer tablet away, but just then, a loud whoosh echoed through the still, fetid air. “Get down…” Sam said as they ducked behind a low wall on a roof. Looking up, Konstantin saw a massive, silvery-blue, three-headed dragon with an ornately-armored wizard riding on top of it, brandishing a glowing sword. “That’s Master Mar of Lucifer!” “Chancellor of the Education and Technology Ministry? What’s he got going on here?” Sam wondered, as the dark wizard dismounted the huge dragon and shook hands with the chief project manager for the MYST experiment. Lucian and Noelle stepped out of the limousine, and shook hands with Mar. “Baron Lucian, we have much to discuss…”
As Lucian walked into the compound, he saw scientists and Dark Acolytes, or wizard soldiers, and some of the scientists were walking around the grounds decks of cards, each one had the picture of a monster on the front of them, and there were hundreds of different types. It was one of the Tempelritters and the Dragon Mages’ hallmarks, the Dark Beings card game, where these creatures would actually come to life on a table and fight. Two soldiers were even playing this game on the top of a huge Tiger tank parked outside the entrance to the lab. “The military hardware here is quite impressive…” Lucian said, looking at the lines of mighty tanks and the wedge-shaped, tracked Landser-class APCs, armed with main cannons mounted atop the vehicle, with anti-infantry machine guns mounted on both sides of the tank. “Indeed, these tanks are made in Herr Guggenberger’s foundries in German Europe, and designed by master engineers, and nearly invincible, they’re a great complement to the amphibious planes and submarines, not nearly as powerful as black magic, to say the least. I’m very good at using my powers to conjure hideous creatures, and although they are just magic animated into hideous forms, they can kill easily. One night, before the Haze Realm Revolution, I sent a plague of magic that transformed into real closet monsters, but I made the little boy who saw them believe it was only a dream, as the “naked monster men” ripped apart and thoroughly devoured every drop of blood, bone and meat from his older sister…the little boy tried to run away, but my demonic soldiers made a deal with him; they would spare him, but devour his father and mother in his place, with the promise that he would achieve a reward for doing so. The moment his parents walked into the house, they saw their son crying atop the stairs, only to see an army of my demonic conjures leaping towards them…once they were eaten, I appeared directly in front of the boy, giving him his reward…his eternal reward. I killed him, so that he wouldn’t suffer the pain of being an orphan…” As the two of them turned the corner, they saw a woman with long, silky red hair, a huge, blue dress and a necklace made of seashells, her eyes were green, her face pale and her skin delicate, and she seemed to be glowing radiantly. “Oh, hello there, Master Mar.” the woman said, rather endearingly, but ominously at the same time. “Oh…hi. Any reason why you’re on government property?” “I was invited.” “By who?” “Herr Guggenberger himself.” “Why would he invite you?” “Well, why wouldn’t he? I’ve only been voted Miss Haze Realm 3 years in a row, and since I don’t age, I expect to win that title again in the future. Besides, being Queen of the Mermaids and Storm Goddess is a plus as well, oh, and who is this?” Lucian said nothing. “Does he even talk?” “Yes, Joanna, he does. And if you’re a mermaid, you might want to get back into the water before you shrivel up like a prune.” “Don’t be stupid! You know I can survive out of water indefinitely.” “You’re an idiot.” Mar snapped. “No, you’re dumb!” “No you!” This immature argument was getting absolutely nowhere, and it was really wearing thin on Lucian. “And to think I loved you back when we were in school! You thought I was the most gorgeous girl in the school, but…you repay me like this?!” Joanna said, causing meaningless drama. Lucian snickered quietly. Suddenly, 12 more young women appeared around Joanna, dressed in flowing gowns made of shimmering material called “Mythrill” “Who are these bitches?!” Mar yelled. “These are my handmaidens, also known as the Seraphim Choir. If you need any further confirmation, they’d be happy to show you that I’m completely invincible. Their eyes shone an eerie blue, with pulses of electricity coursing through their fingertips. “Now I suggest you listen to what I have to say, for I know how to defeat the Red Woman, and allow your Empire to last forever and unto ages.” Mar stopped in his tracks. “Ok, you have my attention…” “Meet with my fiancée, he lives in the Undersea Regions, in a grand city called Althea. Just tell the guards there that Joanna sent you. The Red Woman seeks the last remnants of the Ascendancy in the Seven Monuments of the Seraphim Realm, presumably to cast forth the Army of Justice and crush the Haze Realm, but I can assure you that he’ll know how to stop her. Also, there are plenty of young women there who’d love to talk to you.” “Great…” Mar groaned, referring to the fact that Althea was full of obnoxious, young, rich women, some of which were witches, but others were plain, ordinary human beings from the Haze Realm. Ruled by Joanna’s cousin, another high-maintenance brat named “Lady Serena” Althea was supposedly the most beautiful kingdom you’ve never seen. Serena herself was gorgeous too, and she and Joanna often competed with each other over who was prettier or more desirable to men. Serena was only a de-facto ruler of the city; though there was an official mayor, he had little power over his city; that belonged to the Apollo Consortium, a criminal organization that had its hand in everything, from illegal “duel clubs” to black-market animal smuggling. She could literally give anyone anything they wanted…or take everything in one fell swoop. Serena was the leader of this Consortium, in charge of a group of Lords that had strong ties to the Covenant of the Dark Ones, the voodoo sect of the Tempelritter Order. “And what of the Gaia-Kami project?” “It’s going well, the experiment has been developing well, and …” “Master Mar! There’s been a rebellion in New Spain!!” “Contact Lord Roan Martin, have him activate the military. What is the nature of the rebellion?” “The Elven Archers from one of the Monuments; indicating that the Seraphim Realm is already beginning a counterattack; we need to stop them fast!” “Agreed. Looks like we’re going to suspend this meeting until further notice.”
“Did you hear that?” Sam asked Constantine. “It looks like the Seraphim Armies are already beginning their attack. Looks like the Draco-Wizard Alliance is looking for the Seven Monuments as well.” “Then we’d better beat them to it.”
“ARCHERS!! RAISE YOUR LIGHT ARROWS! DO NOT FIRE UNTIL THE SIGNAL IS GIVEN!!” Elf General Eylon Ru of the Seraphim Elven Nation screamed, raising his eerie-blue sword high into the air. His army of nearly 5,000 archers stood atop the Bridge of Heroes, built where the pre-Haze Realm era George Washington Bridge once stood. The city of Manhattan was now called “Celedonia Metropolis,” now a combined industrial-rural city famous across the Haze Realm for its gardens and solar, wind and tidal power plants. In what was once Central Park, a huge mansion sat, called Celadon Bathhouse and Conservatory, where Haze Realm inhabitants from all regions, Silpheed to the Dark Kingdom, came to relax. In the dark of the night, the radiant Light Arrows burned like morning stars, aimed at the approaching tanks, airships and swift-boats on the river far below. “Steady! Steady! RELEASE!!!” A torrent of shining arrows rained down upon the tanks, one hit from the energy obliterated them. The New Spanish soldiers, armed with plasma blasters, as well as Dark Acolytes, low-ranked wizard foot soldiers were decimated. “KAH-ME-NAH!!!” General Ru yelled, the Elfish War Cry. The storm of arrows lit the sky ablaze with colossal energy, the Seraphim Realm was preparing to launch its own assault on the Haze Realm, but it couldn’t defeat the dark wizards without the almighty Army of Justice, led by the 7 Immortal Seasons Wizards, which could only be summoned by the Red Woman’s power. Still the Elven Nation was a legendary and mighty force. “Hit them again! And again! And again!!!” General Ru yelled as his archers loaded another round of arrows. General Ru, however, spotted an ominous shape approaching in the sky near the horizon. “Amphibious bombers!!! Fire your arrows at the engines!” The bombers were zooming ahead at nearly 3,000 MPH, but the Elves were such master archers that they could hit something moving that fast easily. One archer lined up his shot, and launched an energy arrow directly at the bomber’s exposed engine pod. It was a direct hit, and the bomber sputtered and careened out of control, slamming into the water after zooming over the Archers’ heads. “DROP!!!” General Ru yelled, as the three other bombers met the same fate. “ENEMIES ON THE SPAN!!” General Ru yelled. Archers began firing at the advancing enemies, but there were just too many of them. Still, the Elves wouldn’t give up. “IS THIS ALL YOU CAN CONJURE, ROAN?!” General Ru yelled, as he drew his sword, preparing to fight in close combat if necessary. The Elven Archers were hunting the leader of the Voodoo Covenant of the Dark Ones, Toni Vercetti, but needed the Red Woman’s help to bring her down. According to intelligence, however, the Red Woman was already in search of the First Great Monument of the Seraphim Realm; the Elven Nation, which covered an area the size of Imperial Germany in the pre-wizard era Human Realm, would need to wait for this goal. Even as the Elves continued to fire their arrows upon the approaching soldiers, General Ru spotted a disturbing development atop the Memorial Tower, a building in place of the old Empire State Building. Inside the tower were tombstones of those who had committed suicide; and a caped figure stood raising his hands into the air, began chanting a spell:
Come my minions, rise for your Master, cast aside your sorrows and fly ever faster, like an ancient oak tree, you exist eternally, now fly, and ever nocturnally as you seek your prey, destroy them come what may!”
“It’s Sephiir Othengard!! General Ru yelled. “He’s summoning the Suicide Spirits!” The archers aimed at Sephiir, the sorcerer that caused enormous weather disasters in Texas just before the Haze Realm takeover, but couldn’t hit him in time. He vanished into a cloud of sickly haze, leaving the moaning ghosts zooming towards the archers. “SHIELDS UP!!” The Archers raised ectoplasm shields, forming a Tortuga formation to protect themselves against the enraged army of tormented souls’ ripping hands and gnashing mouths. Every now and then, the ectoplasm shields would emit a blaze of light, vaporizing the souls. General Ru broke out of the Tortugaformation, and swung a mighty blow from his sword, destroying more than 20 souls at once. “FLAMME, IMMER!!!” General Ru shouted in the Elfish tongue as the remaining suicide souls were vanquished. By that point, however, the archers were becoming grossly outmatched. The Haze troops were on the bridge and the Elven Archers couldn’t hold them back for much longer; but General Ru was convinced that reinforcements would soon arrive. In just 3 minutes, they did. The approach of a Silpheed Army Airship, from the part of the Haze Realm that opposed the Dark Ones, was a welcome sign. More than 1500 meters in length, the SI-DDG model was the largest airship in the Haze Realm; airships were the preferred method of long-distance travel in the Haze Realm, and now on Haze Earth. Not all Haze Realm was bad; some of it had sided with the Seraphim Realm, creating what was to be the greatest conflict in history, a battle between Earth, Seraphim and Haze, with the entire universe on the line, what began more than 20 years before as a simple series of unexplained break-ins and murders was about to resolve itself in a truly cataclysmic fashion. The Silpheed Kingdom had wrestled control of the former British Empire from the dark wizard government, and controlled 25% of Haze Earth. General Ru cheered at the arrival of reinforcements, but then, three of his archers pointed and started yelling frantically. “LORD ROTHBART!! HE’S BACK!!” “SHOOT HIM!!” General Ru yelled as the dark entity materialized out of nowhere, moving across the span of the bridge like a slug, except one that looked like a black and red rug with a horrid, malicious smile on his chalk-white face. His eyes were sallow, sickly and sunken, and he had no nose or ears, just a mat of messy, black hair on his head. Rothbart reared up like a cobra, changing his form from a slug to a walking rug with no feet with two spectral, disembodied hands. “HE’S A GENIE!! HE CAN’T BE DESTROYED!!” Everyone knew who this being was; from the Dark Kingdom, born of darkness itself, rose Rothbart, originally a genie in a lamp, but found by a young man from Silpheed who had crashed his airship in the heart of the Dark Kingdom. After releasing the dark genie, he was granted 3 wishes; his first one was to know absolutely everything that could be known, and he was granted that wish. After he left the Dark Kingdom with Rothbart’s help, using his vast knowledge of the Haze, Seraphim and Earth Realms, attempted to gain total control of Silpheed. He succeeded, and for nearly 5 years, the young man ruled Silpheed, turning into a Fascist hellhole. Eventually, after reading about the legend of the Tempelritter Origin Dynasty, the young man made his second wish: He wished to become the most powerful sorcerer in the universe. When he was granted that wish, he allowed Rothbart to go free for his third wish, as the young man no longer needed the genie’s assistance. That young man was the current Emperor of the Haze Realm: Daisuke Morimoto. The dark genie advanced towards the group of archers. Just then, however, General Ru received a message from the Silpheed airship. “We’re in position! Preparing for strafing run, get ready for some fireworks!” As the airship thundered overhead, the wash from its huge thrusters and propellers knocking Lord Rothbart off balance, allowing the archers to pepper him with energy arrows; this didn’t destroy Rothbart, but it did force him to back off. “And stay gone!!” General Ru yelled. “Missiles locked…Missiles away!” the Silpheed captain yelled as his airship’s missile batteries launched a huge salvo of rockets at Azalea Boulevard, wiping out an entire brigade of tanks and infantry. Then, the target appeared. Flying in a fighter aircraft was Sephiir Othengard, attempting to launch torpedoes at the airship. “PREPARE THE HOMING MISSILES!!” the airship captain yelled. “Man the machine guns!” The airship crew mounted the point-defense machine guns and let fly, the thunder from the sky roared as the crew released more than 3,000 rounds per minute on each machine gun, but Othengard was too fast. The homing missiles, however, were locked and loaded. “Preparing! On my mark…3…2…1…Missiles away!!” The homing missiles zoomed away from the airship; Othengard tried to avoid them, but it was no use. The missiles struck Othengard’s ship directly, destroying it a fiery explosion; as the fighter fell from the sky, the airship’s crew and the Elven Archers cheered. They had struck their first major blow against the Draco-Wizard Alliance, and a very painful one as well. Othengard was extraordinarily powerful, but not enough to prevent his own death. The airship, which looked like a huge, flying version of the WWII-era battlecruiser Hood,had 4 huge pairs of bird-wing feathers, flapping in unison to keep the colossal warship in the air, while belching smoke from its boilers through four huge smokestacks, and an angelic figurehead mounted on the bow. Its 4 sets of huge, 16-inch guns were equally imposing; the ship, called the Lordly Iron Hand, was surrounded by three smaller air cruisers, and together, they literally blotted out the sun in “titanium overcast.” As the sun set, it was a truly surreal scene, the Hand’s silhouette illuminated radiantly by the setting sun, partially concealed by the hazy post-battle smoke, casting a shadow over the ruins of the East Side. The Silpheed Empire wasn’t the only nation to use airships, however; German United Europe used huge, imposing Airship Dreadnaughts; these had a similar design, but were altogether more frightening, industrial-looking and better armed. Johann Guggenberger’s flagship had a massive pipe organ on board, which he played with the skill of a virtuoso. That ship, the Unholy Flame,was perhaps the strongest unit in use by anyone in the Haze Realm. It too had huge “wings” that allowed it to “row” through the air like a rowboat on a lake. “We know how to take em’ out, don’t we, boys?!” “Hoorah!” the Silpheed Empire airmen yelled over the communication suite aboard the Hand. Though Sephiir Othengard was dead, they weren’t out of the woods yet. Not by a long shot. Just a few seconds later, three huge New Spanish airships emerged from Haze Gates, the fastest way to travel around the Haze Realm. They were not as large as the Lordly Iron Hand, but were faster and more maneuverable. Fortunately, the Hand’s battlegroup of smaller, swift cruisers would more than cover its back. “Engaging targets!” the smaller cruisers’ captains radioed to the Hand. “Affirmative. We’ll give you covering fire. Gunners, prepare to go loud!” On the decks outside the bridge, buffeted by the wind, the crew entered the 16-inch batteries’ firing rooms. “All gunners ready! Going loud in 5 seconds…Fire away!” The Hand shuddered as its guns launched a full broadside salvo, cracking one of the enemy airships in half with one blast. The Hand’s battlegroup was heavily engaged with the remaining two airships; “Hit them again, and again! And again!!” The Hand launched another salvo of missiles at one of the enemy airships, damaging it, but not destroying it. The missiles did, however, clip the steering rudder; unable to maneuver, the Handmoved in and fired the kill shot from its guns, obliterating the ship. Now, only one airship remained, and the Hand was moving in for the kill. “New contact hazing in!” the Hand’s radioman yelled, just as another Haze Gate opened. Expecting to see another airship come out of the gate, the crew readied their guns, but what they saw was even worse than 50 more airships coming at them…a small, green moth. “IT’S INQUISITOR VEEK!! GET EVERYONE ON DECK! WE’RE ABOUT TO BE BOARDED!!!” The entire complement of Silpheed Marines donned their wind gear, grabbed rifles and waited for the “moth” to land on deck; the moth performed a complete metamorphosis on the deck, and Veek’s terrifying visage greeted them. His slanted, anguished red eyes, crooked, fang-like teeth and flicking snake tongue petrified the soldiers, and, without a word, he raised his axe-blade staff and slammed in to the deck, sending out a shock wave that ruptured the deck’s floorboards and sent 30 soldiers flying over the railings to their deaths. The remaining soldiers tried to open fire on Veek, but Veek calmly raised his hand and fired puppet strings from his fingers, trapping about 30 of the soldiers, bringing them under his control. Ordering his mind-slaves forward, they turned and fired upon their former allies, with Veek swinging his blade around like a baseball bat, and using magic to push his enemies off the side of the ship. It wasn’t long until every soldier aboard the Hand was dead or under Veek’s puppet hex. The longer the hex took hold, the more the victim was corrupted; the victims of the hex had begun to cry bloody tears, as their faces were turning ashen white. The soldiers continued to march forward with Veek standing ominously behind them; following their bloody footsteps. The anguished mind slaves opened the door to the bridge and opened fire on the crew, killing the captain. After that, the hex had run its course, and the zombie soldiers dropped dead, having served their purpose. Veek then took control of the airship, pressed a few buttons, and then transformed back into a Luna Moth, flew out one of the broken windows and vanished back through the Haze Gates once again, just as the Lordly Iron Hand exploded from Veek overloading its engine core. For the Elven Archers, who had already retreated, it was a pyrrhic victory, at best. Still, the death of Othengard was a step in the right direction. One thing was certain, however: the Draco-Wizard Alliance was certain to strike back. The universe was now engaged in total war.
“Well, I’m certainly glad we got out of there. We need to find the first Monument, and that’s somewhere in Romania, part of the Wizard European Federation, near the town of Vaalzberg.” Sam explained, rather matter-of-factly. “I don’t like the sound of that…” “Well, we have to go there, but the rumors go that the place is the home of the Voodoo Covenant of the Dark Ones, led by Miss Toni Vercetti. She’s very beautiful, but very mysterious and very dangerous. “What does she look like?” “Trust me, you’ll know when you see her; but the chances are that she’ll see you before you see her.” According the Haze Realm legends, Miss Toni is tall, with long, silky black hair that extends down to her midsection, pale, alabaster skin, green eyes, a very seductive, devious look on her face a huge, red dress with a black bow on it and lace frill gloves, and the bust of her dress pushed up and rimmed with black frills.” “She sounds gorgeous…” Constantine said. “Don’t underestimate her, though. She comes across as this classy, upper-crust woman, but she knows some of the darkest, hideous spells imaginable. She also wields a dagger that she’s not above using for her own purposes, either.” “Ok, Sam, I get it…she’s dangerous.” Constantine and Sam walked down the path, weapons drawn, preparing for any supernatural creatures that might attack. What they saw around the bend, however, was not at all what they expected. They saw a gigantic Japanese-style bathhouse, 13 stories tall, and was the size of a city block, and blossoming with excess, there were hanging lanterns, hot springs, columns, spas, pools and a very bizarre camaraderie of characters walking across the bridge to the entrance, over a huge wooden footbridge. Sam saw a guy that looked half-owl, half man, a flying carpet with a face, a few ghosts with huge stone masks and a tall, menacing man wearing a red robe, black cape, tall hat with a feather in it, and a staff with the head of a dragon on it, not to mention a twisted, weird beard. Behind him, Sam saw three giant duck-like things, a giant, fuzzy red monster, and a few more unclassified species, but all appeared sentient. Bizarrely, Sam and Constantine saw that the bridge guard was…an iron, like the ones you use to iron clothes, without a plug, it had two grumpy-looking eyes, and spoke in weird, comical growls and mumbles. When the weird guy with the dragon staff stepped up to the bridge, the iron refused him permission to cross the bridge, only for the guy’s arms to transform into screaming dragon heads and launch huge flamethrower blasts at the guard post! The iron then said something in plain English: ‘No magic allowed!’ One of the other beings behind the wizard with the dragon-arms, the flying carpet, yelled as well: ‘Move it! You’re holding up the line!!” The iron eventually allowed the wizard to pass, and after that, I heard the purpose of this whole gathering. “Come, all ye souls, to the Imperial Grand Bathhouse and Spa, where the impossible is nothing, but nothing is impossible!” “Wow, I could use a little R&R…” Constantine said. “Don’t be an idiot, they’d kill us both.” “He’s an iron. Seriously?” In one of the huge bay windows, however, stood a familiar face. “That’s her…Toni Vercetti…and I think she saw us. We can only hope she doesn’t call Mathematician or Johann Guggenberger, they’re some of the most powerful sorcerers in the Haze Realm, and if they catch us…” “You don’t need to tell me.” Constantine said. “Hello, darling, how are you? Are you admiring this mansion? You’re welcome inside, Constantine, dear.” Turning around, Constantine saw a stunning young woman standing behind him; she had teleported out of the building. She had long, silky black hair, pale, alabaster skin, a strapless, long black dress and deep, unnaturally blue eyes. She had a perfect figure and had a huge sapphire necklace around her neck. “Oh, you like my necklace? Come into the mansion…we’d love to have you.” Constantine seemed to change…change ominously from a wise-cracking jackass to a completely subservient drone, as he walked away with Toni. “Not good…” Sam said. As much as she wanted to help her companion, Sam couldn’t simply attack; she would be killed by all the Haze Realm inhabitants. She had to sneak in and then stop Toni…before she killed him. She was very pretty, yes, but her “shtick” was to seduce young men and eventually curse them with a voodoo spell, and the spell she used was not pleasant. It was a curse called “The Borer,” which afflicted the target with a slow, wasting disease. Warm and comfy to be with, Toni would love her men dead…quite literally. Sam remembered the legends she had been taught as a little girl, those about the Haze Realm and the power of justice. There were Three Kings, each one the most powerful sorcerer of light, named Seraphim King Abraham, Seraphim King Malthus and Seraphim King Jeckolyte, riding mighty, magnificent dragons and wielding unfathomable powers of light-side magic. Their attacks bathed their targets in the golden aura of the Gods just before completely annihilating them and not even the Draco-Wizard Alliance could deny that they were afraid of them. Sam knew what she needed to do…she had to save her companion, regardless of the risks. Just then, a loud trumpeting was heard from the far end of the valley, alerting everyone to the presence of the Elven Empire, still searching for Toni. Perhaps Sam could make an alliance with the Elves? Sneaking past the guards seemed like the best option for now, but just then, Sam felt an ominous presence behind her. She drew her sword only to be face to face with a black-robed figure, wearing a white mask with an eerie smile painted on it, as well as a black, wide-brimmed hat. “Place your sword in its scabbard. I mean you no harm, Red Woman.” Another female voice came from behind the mask. “I am Rika, Rika Morgensonne, an envoy of the Seraphim Realm and a disciple of Kings Abraham, Malthus and Jeckloyte, and I have seen the plight of your dear friend. The Three Kings are on their way, leading the Army of Elves to this place now, they don’t know it yet, but this mansion’s days are numbered.

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