A bleak and dimly lit world. The sky was almost pitch-black. Charred, rough and bumpy rock made up the ground, but there were many areas where the ground had split or indeed there was no ground, only molten magma that bubbled and hissed steam on occasions. Some small pieces of rock even levitated in midair of their own accord above the magma, leading to other locations. A ruined castle with a colossal spire awaited in the distance.
The group noticed their armour (not their weapons) had disappeared."Where'd our armour go?" Shiji asked.
"That must be where Mizu and Kazir are," Makoto sighed fearfully.
"What is he doing to him?" Gale whimpered.
"I'd rather not know," Altair grunted tonelessly. "What's more important is that we know why it is we came here," he said, glaring at Nina as he did so.
"You know why you are here. To rescue Mizu from Kazir," Nina said bluntly.
"I have the powers of Shinkaiyami within me. You cannot lie to me, child."
"If I am unable to conceal the truth from you, then surely you must know the answer to your own question."
"Speak plainly, witch!" Skylar chipped in. Nina flared into life, outstretching her palm toward the fourteen-year-old, her green irises glowing an alien white. Small sparks began to ripple around Skylar's body, electrocuting her. She cried out as the dainty former seeress approached her, her voice echoing through the air, a small breeze flowing through the area.
"I have been called many things in my lifetime - scum, filth, inbred, hybrid, heathen, bitch - but NEVER, EVER, CALL ME A WITCH!" she shrieked.
"If you're going to have a shit-fit, try not to take it out on little kids."
"Do not speak to me in such a way, Rakurai!" Nina glared at him, as did the others. As he passed by the others, he gave acknowledgeing nods to his old friends, still wearing his Espinas armour and Great Sword. He stepped toward the young Descendant, laying his hand on her shoulder. She stopped doing whatever it is she was doing. Skylar nearly fell to the floor with a sigh, but Makoto caught her, giving her some kind of healing item to help her feel better.
"You didn't need to do that," Makoto growled.
"If you really wish to follow me up on this, you may chastise me when the world is safe. And in answer to Shinji's question, only the dead can wear armour in this realm, for reasons of which I am unaware. Anyway, the reason I have called you here is because you must save Mizu. Kazir is torturing him in that tower yonder," she began, pointing a dainty and gentle finger toward the castle and the spire in the distance, "and so you must, obviously, rescue him. I am quite confident that Mizu shall tell that thespian scourge nothing at all, but nevertheless, he is after something that Jinsoku picked up after you all defeated the Yamiokami - a ruby red gem, forged in the stomach of the beast, also known as 'Shinkaiyami's Heart'," she added, staring at Jinsoku, along with the others.
"I think I know what you're talking about..." he muttered meekly, pulling out the round, crimson, hexagonal gem from his backpack. "...D'you mean this?" he asked, holding the gem out in his palm, followed by quiet gasps of awe.
"Quite so, Jinsoku," Nina said, almost properly smiling at the young man. "Kazir and Yaketsukuyona lust for this particular item...if they can unlock the supposed 'secrets' within, they can gain control of power of the dark Wyrm, Shinkaiyami, and cross from this region to the rest of the world... and mankind will face extinction. However, if one of you can 'unlock its secrets' before they can obtain it and do so before you, you can use Shinkaiyami's powers to wipe out the White Star, and all who serve him. However, you cannot do this with the gem as it is now. You must 'prime' it by taking it to the very top of the tower, where Kazir is located. That is all I know."
"So, in short, we kick Kazir's ass, rescue Gale's other half, climb the big ol' tower and 'prime' the gem? Sounds simple enough," Gigas snorted.
"Foolish man," Nina scoffed. "Do you really believe it to be so easy to defeat a... person... like Kazir? Cocksure buffoon..."
Gigas fell silent. Rakurai began to speak again.
"If might way in here, we're wasting a shitload of time. I think it'd be nice to get to that tower before Kazir goes batshit crazy and kills the guy," he said blunty, only half-joking.
"He's right. We have to move!" Gale added, already heading across the levitating bits of rock like stepping stones across a river. Gigas, Altair, Skylar, Makoto, Jinsoku, Shinji, Nina and Rakurai following suit shortly after.
Mizu could barely breathe without wincing. Kazir had pretty much beaten him to a pulp. He was sure that at least three of his ribs were broken, and he knew for sure that his left shoulder was dislocated. He had a few tiny cuts dotted around his face. He lay on his back, facing the ceiling, too winded to cry out in pain and too frightened to look at Kazir - at least until Kazir knelt down beside him, smiling almost insanely. He held a small knife in his hand.
"Well, I don't know about you, but I like to make sure that my handwriting..." he pulled back the sleeve of his shirt on his left arm. Mizu barely had time to brace himself before he screwed his eyes shut and let out a scream of fear and raw pain, the knife digging its sharp, pointy tip into his skin, etching around slowly, accurately, as if drawing a symbol. When the knife was pulled out and he could breathe without screaming, he glanced over at his arm, a long and complex symbol had been literally etched onto his skin, drops of crimson blood running from the corners of the glyph, written in the old language.
"..Is nice and neat. That was for not telling me what I want know. Now, we continue the game - I believe you humans call it Hangman. But we're going to alter the rules slightly. Basically, you tell me the answer to the question or questions I ask you. If you get the answer wrong..." he chuckled sickly, darting his eyes toward the bloody symbol drawn on his flesh.
"You get another letter. If it gets to the end... well, normally I'd hang you, as per the general rule, but in this case, I think I'll just cut you some more and watch you bleed to death." he chortled, like this twisted reigime was commonplace for him- and it was.
"Now, we can can continue."
Mizu had never been more firghtened in his life - more of Kazir himself than the pain he would inflict. But now, matter what Kazir did, he promised himself, and the others, that he wouldn't give the bastard a single bit of information.
"Question number one," Kazir began, stroking the flat of the cruel blade with his finger, still kneeling down gazing at the helpless nineteen-year-old below him, "Where are your friends?" he asked sweetly. His expression turned sour as Mizu spat on his face.
"Fuck you," the injured teenager gasped defiantly. He hurt all over, and he wanted to cry, but he knew that he would only end up worse if Kazir saw him break so early, if at all. He looked on, bracing himself as Kazir growled throatily, wiping the saliva from his face slowly. He clamped his spare hand down on Mizu's bleeding arm, raising the knife a little higher.
"Big mistake," he grunted, lowering the blade, cruel, sick happiness curling the side of his mouth as the helpless boy screamed incoherently, the knife slowly etching more bloody profanity onto his already bleeding flesh.
To Be Continued in: Legacy of the Descendants XIII: Shadows of Fear