The last monster has been slashed by Azief powerful strike and they look at the entrance of the next floor.
The entrance resembles the entrance of a temple. Looking in the distance there is only darkness.
You have to enter to see what lies on the next floor.
The four person group take a deep breath and then they began to enter slowly and cautiously, step by step and they enter the fifth floor of the dungeon.
What greeted the group was a large area…..it was still the blue mossy walls but the area was wide like an open plains, like they were in a different dimension.
‘What is this place?’ Sofia ask as she look left and right. All she could see was the wide area and they moved forward.
There is no grass, only blue soil, hard ground; the ceiling was like always the blue stones.
They all move silently but they realized something after half an hour, moving inside the fifth floor.
There is no monster here.
And every once in a while they take a break. The longer they walk, they could see from a distance, a huge gigantic temple, and this temple emits that terrifying pressure.
They all recognize this pressure. They have been feeling it the deeper they go. The closer they are to the temple, the more pressure they felt in their souls.
And Azief realizes something. The moment he enter the fifth floor he could no longer hear the dripping of the water.
No longer could he hear the rhythmic sound of water hitting the ground….that rhythmic beating that keeps calling
The beckoning stops. The siren song….stopped.
‘Should we enter that freaky looking temple?’ Loki asked from behind. It was clear from his tone he had no intention of entering but still he asked Azief.
Azief also hesitated to answer. This….what he is about to ask…is the ultimate favour. And he doesn’t like owing anything to anyone. He summons his pet Badge.
He orders his pet to guard the perimeter
‘Why summon him?’ Loki ask as he look at Badge began guarding the perimeter
‘I like to be ready’ he said. Sina who was nearby, looking at Azief and Loki conversing also approached Azief and ask him the same question
‘We move forward?’ Sina ask this time as she stand beside him. Azief look again at the temple, hesitated, then clenching his fist he decided.
‘We move forward. The orb must be inside that temple. Any objection?’ He looks at his group and no one complains.
They only look at him and nodded.
Loki nodded unwillingly but he did not say anything. For that one moment, Azief was touched…and also for the first time really understand the weight of responsibility he has on his shoulders.
Azief was about walk away but his hand was being grabbed by Loki.
‘Then we should prepare ourselves. We can’t just charge on’ Loki said as he stare at his eyes.
‘Fine’ he said. He had to admit he is being rash which is unlike him. It was this place. This place gives him an uncomfortable feeling.
It keeps beckoning…keeps calling.
‘Then stop for a while and make sure everything is ready. Check your potions. Ask for pills from Sina.‘ Sina nodded as she was about to prepare concocting pills.
‘Buy anything you need from the shop.’ They all nodded and Azief walk away to calm himself down for the battle.
It is clear to him that there is something dangerous in that temple. And he will need all of his concentration if he wanted to overcome this obstacle.
Loki on the other hand looking at Azief standing alone, looking at the temple, approached him. Sina and Sofia on the other hand are talking to each other.
‘You know there is something else in the temple right?’ Loki said as he look at Azief expression
‘Did they know?’ Loki said as he look at Sofia and Sina.
‘And they didn’t leave you’ Loki said smiling.
‘I’m a lucky man.’ Azief replies.
‘You ok with them gambling their life because of your decision?’ Azief look towards the direction of Sina and Sofia and he said.
‘We’re gambling either way on the surface. What difference does it make whether we gambling it here in the dungeon or gambling it outside the dungeon? Danger is everywhere. I’m not their protector. I’m not arrogant enough to think I alone could protect them. They need to learn to defend themselves. Loki, in a group, we got each other back. Not relying to each other every time we got into trouble.’
‘You believe they could survive this?’
‘I have faith.’
‘You must really want this orb don’t you?’
‘An insurance’ Azief suddenly said.
‘An insurance? What is? The Orb?’
‘If it is as powerful as you hype it up to be……then we will be safe for a long time. Strength is needed to survive in this world and to get strength you have to be willing to take the risk…to risk your life, betting it.’
‘And what if we can’t survive what’s in there?’ Loki said as he pointed towards the gigantic temple in the distance.
Azief look towards the temple and he felt a little dread and the pressure on his orb increased. But he shakes the feeling off and he said
‘Then I will make it my last objective to make sure you all survive.’
Listening to this Loki smirk.
‘You said you weren’t a protector?’
Azief hold both Loki shoulders and looks straight into his eyes and he said while smiling.
‘Because, you are my friends. And Loki…..you would be surprised what I would do for my friends. People like me who doesn’t have that many friends…we are special. Special in that we appreciate more the preciousness of that thing called friendship. We…No…I…am not the kind of guys that have a lot of friends. Some people have many friends. Hundreds of them…but how many of them have friend that would lay their lives for you? Sofia risks everything for me, trying to save me in that river. She is a great friend and a great woman. Sina. I see how she appreciates her friends. I see how she mourns them…and how she would do anything even labour under me to avenge her friends. That is a dedication of love. A woman like that I would be honoured if she could be friend with me. She is a good person. And you Loki. You. You are a bundle of luck. You might not be trustworthy’ and hearing this Loki smirk a bit.
‘But for some reason, you never did betray me. You did not betray my trust neither did you try to do anything untoward to me. And that is what I don’t understand. I have given you so many chance to do me in but you never did. I have come to see you as a friend. So, in this fucked up world, to have you all in my group, to go through these life and death experience….I consider you all my friends. In my entire life, I could count my true friends on one hand. And I don’t feel sad about it. Because those friends that I count in one hand, is the friends that I cherish and I wouldn’t trade one of them for a hundred of the other kind. I rather be completely alone than with a bunch of people who are just passing time.’
And then he added as Azief release his grasp of Loki shoulder and face towards the direction of the Temple
‘I would die for each one of you because I know you would do the same for me.’
‘You believe that we would do the same for you?’ Loki ask. His heart is burning. For a long time Loki didn’t feel things like this.
It is hard to feel things like that when you are alone in your journey. Loki and the Prince has always been wanderers, travelers in a world where people don’t understand them or their motivations.
Maybe that is why in his timeline, they could be friends. But still….they were alone in their cause, in their crusade.
Maybe that is why in the last timeline, they lost.
‘I like to believe that I’m a good judge of characters.’ Azief said as he smiles a radiant smile
‘And if you are wrong?’ Still smiling, Azief reply.
‘I don’t do kindness so that other people would repay me. Anyone wanting to be repaid, now that is a business transaction. When I do things out of the kindness of my heart….I didn’t do it for what they might have given me as repayment. Good is not always repaid with good. I know this. But just because people can’t be kind, why should I follow their way? A frog doesn’t have the nature of a scorpion. For those that I save with a repayment in mind…then that’s just a relationship of mutual benefits. Like our relationship in the beginning. But now, I’m asking you to believe me with your life. And that is a lot to ask. And I know that it is a lot to ask. But none of you…..argued. None of you complained. You follow me straight to the jaw of death, and you followed me, trusting me, all the way, even after knowing all the risk. What else could I call all of you….other than calling you friend?’
Finished saying this he pats Loki in the back and moved away. Loki looks behind him as he saw that lonely back and he smiles.
We were friend before. And friends now. Thinking of this Loki smiles bitterly. If you only told me this before in the future, would we have fight for so long?
Would we have become even brothers instead of rivals? All those years…wasted, fighting each other.
You are too stubborn and I’m too hot headed. Now, I know you before you were the prince.
And Loki must admit while the Prince was powerful….Loki like this Lord Shadow more….the man who would be the Prince.
He looks at the temple in the distance and his face turned hard. Loki felt it. This aura is very powerful.
‘Following you to the jaws of death seems fun, prince.’ He said as he moves to his next plan. Approaching Sofia and Sina he proposes his plan.
A plan that Lord Shadow no knowledge of.
Sofia after finished talking with Sina , feel relieved. Her misunderstanding resolved and her heart feels lighter than before.
She also made plans with Loki….if they survive this. She could not always be looking at his back….looking at Azief lonely back.
She wanted to walk beside him…not chasing him from behind…and always looking at that back.
Then she heard footsteps. She look behind her and she could see Azief coming approaching her and without reason she blush in her cheeks.
Azief was tall, handsome and mysterious. Not to mention handsome, which even Azief yet to recognize that about himself.
There is also the fact that Sofia really felt grateful for all that he had done for her.
Then he stopped beside Sofia.
He did not say anything, not a word….he kept looking at the temple. He looks like he had something on his mind.
And his eyes. Sofia found herself….lost in that pair of eyes.
Sofia also did not say anything. Just looking at him. Staring at him. Smiling. Not saying anything. Then he suddenly holds her hand and she was surprised.
She almost yelped.
Slowly her cheeks become redder. And for some unknown reason she could not help but smile like an idiot.
Sofia look at Azief, who always has that impassive looks in his face, cold and calculating…and she smiles as she remembered how Azief was holding her hand.
Sneakily holding her hand, like trying to catch a thief.
And what makes her smile even wider was the fact that even though Azief tries to hide it, he was nervous to.
He may look cold, but Sofia knows there is warmth in his heart.
A man who would sacrifice his life for her. Actions spoke louder than words. Sofia never had anyone do something like that for her.
She grows in a hard environment. Her father was abusive. Her only comfort was her mother. And now she is alone in this world.
No. she mused again as she could feel the warmth of Azief hand on her hand. You and me she mused.
Even though Azief hold her hand, he still did not say anything. He just hold her hand, his eyes are still looking at the temple.
Sofia did not ask what are you doing? Or why do you hold my hand? Instead she asked.
‘What’s on your mind?’
‘You….You’ll follow me?’ He asked.
She nodded bashfully.
‘And the floor before isn’t?’ she asked back.
‘I was confident I could protect you before.’
‘Now…..I don’t think I can do that for you. It will be hard keeping myself alive.’
‘You want me to leave you…now?’ Sofia said puzzled.
‘If that is your decision.’
Sofia was about to get angry. What did he think of her? Did he think of her as someone that always need to be protected by him?
She tried her hardest to try to catch up to him.
She gritted her teeth, steel her heart, endures the pain, experience ambushes, come face to face with terrifying monster in the hopes, she could catch up to him….in the hope, that she could help him the way he help her.
In the hopes of walking beside him.
And to think, he still sees her as his responsibility, for some reason that make her angrier.
Angry at the thought he still thinks of her as the girl that hides inside the mall, needing his helping hand.
There is no shame in admitting that you need help. But Sofia…this time she wanted to be the one offering her hand.
She wanted to be useful to him. To at least pay a fraction of what he had done for her.
And now at the eve of probably his most dangerous battle, he wanted her to leave because he was worried about her.
She was touched and angry at the same time.
She did not say anything, still holding his hand and she looks at the same direction Azief is looking. Looking at that gigantic temple.
Is she not afraid? She is afraid. If she was given the choice, she would not enter this dungeon on the first place
But she is trying to be brave. For him. For herself.
Does she want to leave right now? Yes, she wants to leave. But then……she looks at him again.
And once again, like the time when he ask her to follow him, and the time when he ask her to trust him, remembering the oath they take under a certain peach tree…her courage burns again.
Like a dying ember was breathed to life.
He….makes her brave. Braver than she ever was. Braver than she could ever be. Braver….than what she thought possible.
‘I will not leave’ she announced. Azief then look away from the temple and stares at Sofia and chuckles a bit.
His face looks charming when he smiles. Maybe it’s because Sofia rarely sees him smile…or maybe because he always looks like he is brooding that any other expression on his face looks like a new expression and refreshing.
‘Is that so?’ he said smiling at her.
She will not leave. She could not leave. She didn’t think she could forgive herself if she leaves him like this.
She and him makes an oath under a peach tree. She remembers the day. Remember the tree.
Remember the emotion she felt and remember the heart that trusted him, remember the heart that hope again that day.
You and me against the world! She still remembers.
Azief then slowly moved away and he stop holding her hand as he moved away. Not able to stop her curiosity she ask
‘Why did you hold my hand?’ For a second he stopped his track. Azief turned his face back and smiling he answers.
‘I need courage. And you make me brave.’
Saying this, he move away and Sofia just look at his back again. And wishing….to be walking beside him.
UNITED INTERGALACTIC ALLIANCE HEADQUARTERS
The alarms on the Headquarters Ward keep on ringing. One of the Warden that escapes the ruptures a few weeks ago began sending transmissions to the Council Of The Universe asking for help.
And at the same time reporting what probably would be the greatest news in the Intergalactic Alliance history.
In a week, a starship enters the UIA Headquarters with the representatives from Olympus. Lord Zeus sent Hermes as his emissary.
Asgard could not send its representatives as Odin begun to slumber.
The Jade Palace sent Erlang as its representatives. Sitting on the room reserved for council members the wardens began telling the story
And after he finished telling the story it is clear from both Hermes and Erlang that the news was not a good one.
‘The Deharian Race annihilator? Did it escape?’ Hermes asked, hoping the Warden would say no.
The Warden nodded with a grim face.
‘The casualties?’ Erlang asked.
‘Ten thousand including five thousand prisoners.’ Hermes expression was hard. Ten thousand may not seem much. But this was ten thousand super beings.
‘What is the Deharian race annihilator target?’ Hermes asked again
‘Your Excellency, I don’t know.’ The warden honestly answers.
He just takes his post a hundred years ago and he did not know much about the prisoner inside the Negative Zone only that each one of them is dangerous criminals.
Hermes is thinking how to spin this story to the council. What happened here must not be spread to the common populace of Olympus and the other members of UIA.
‘Haaa’ he sighed. Erlang beside him also sighed.
The Deharian race was an intelligent race that lives in the planet Deharia and worship A’n Al’ Uluk.
Uluk is a gigantic brain that contains the Almanac of Universe. And the only one who has the entirety of Uluk is A’n Al.
They were an intelligent race but also paranoids of the end of the universe and as they grew more technologically advanced they began calculating future threats.
It was then a bout millions of years ago, they found the threat they have been looking for.
Well, when you keep searching for threats, you will most of the time find it. They then began creating a monstrosity to neutralize their supposed threats.
It takes them thousands of years to create the Annihilator.
The Annihilator was supposed to follow the directives of the Deharian Supreme Council but messing with genes and magic even beyond their understanding, the Deharian race has created the greatest nightmare the Universe has ever seen.
The Deharian Race Annihilator is the few entity in the universe that still brings dread towards the UIA.
The moment it awakened and released from its life pod it began to destroy. First, it began by killing its creator.
Then he began to destroy cities and then it consumers the whole planet of Deharia.
It then set of to destroy its primary target. Its primary target was the race that possesses the Etherna gene.
The Deharian race discovered that humanity has a set of genes that if activated could make them as powerful as the Etherna race of ancient past.
They believe that humanity…if allowed to mature would become the cancer that will infect the universe.
But earth is protected by forces even stronger than UIA and the Elder of the Universe also protects earth from advanced super beings.
So, the UIA was formed to hunt and destroy the being which would then be called the Annihilator.
The war between the Annihilator and the UIA destroys three star systems, seven moons and three stars. Trillion of lives lost to capture one super being.
But try as they may, the UIA could not destroy the fleshly body of the Annihilator. Its endurance surpasses anything that the UIA could break.
The Elder of the Universe then find it imperative to construct a prison where beings like the Annihilator could not break free.
He created the Negative Zone to seal and trap and imprisons beings like the Annihilator.
And for millions of years, the Negative Zone was unbreakable and impenetrable. Once you’re in there, there is no way out.
That is until the awakening of the Destroyers. The news has already shakes all the advanced planets.
It is also news that the Elder of the Universe faced off against the Destroyer and was inflicted with great injury.
The Destroyer awakening messed with the Universal Laws and the Negative Zone ruptured the moment he create his corporeal body.
Erlang then whispers to Hermes.
‘What should we do?’
‘We block this news’ Hermes decided.
‘And then what? Hope for the best?’
‘We hope for the best.’ He said.
‘Do you know its target? Erlang asked. Hermes shakes his head, feigning ignorance.
‘I will ask the other Olympian about the Annihilator. Lord Hades will know.’
Erlang also nodded.
‘I will inform the Jade Emperor.’ They both nodded.
That day the news of the negative Zone prison ruptured was only known to a few council members as they began formulating plans to recapture the Annihilator.
In a barren planet, a dark being, 15 feet tall, with large spikes protruding in every part of its skins slowly get up.
Slowly its body was being nourished by the barren planet and its body began retaining some form of a homo erectus.
Slowly it turned into a form of homo sapiens. With webbed feet and hands like claws, the being was slowly evolving.
Its eyes were black but slowly an iris of red was formed. And then he jumped from the planet. With that one jump it destroys half of that barren planet.
In its mind, the beast has one target.