Tuesday, April 15

casting away the mask

In an age yet to come, the Prince of a fallen kingdom finds a bottle of ancient spirits on a shelf in the palace. He secrets it under his wing and walks with his friend Darkling up winding stairs to the highest tower of the obsidian castle that is his new home.

As the hooks tug and pull at the cat's soul and body, draining his essense into the crystals suspended in impossible angles. he instinctively cries out one last time for the first source of comfort he ever had. The voice within responds.

I am sorry, Little One. It is time I cast brightest light on the Truth...she is gone from this plane.

Trapped in a chamber of fluid, the mask affixed to Darien's face pumps oxygen faster as tears well and overflow. The interrogator looks up and sees the anguish behinds two layers of glass, and frowns.

He unstoppers the cork. A red wisp of enchanting aroma rises from the neck and dissipates into the wind.

"How? When?", he barely utters from a face no longer recognizable.

Qli-3 screams Koen's name as she rips away the steel door from its hinges, swinging it again and again to crush the Replicant guard to rubble.

It matters not. Your search is over. There will be no vengence.

"I tried so hard..."

Let no one doubt your bravery. You will inspire others in your sacrifice.

"Let no one doubt his sacrifice..."


K'rra daughter of Bast has always been your ally through the ages. Life after life you inspire each other. Be certain you shall see her again, when you both wear new masks. As you remember who you truly are, she will see a glimpse of what she truly is. That glimpse alone will give her new Gifts to use in this life.

The clockwork rat shifts to a feline form, then turns on the catlike construct that chases her, fangs and claws bared as she roars.

"Even by the Styx I felt him slipping away. How I cried out...I burned my tongue pleading to the Creator Himself. Take my wings, I said! Take my horns! Take my face! Rip this wretched soul to shreds but save my Firstborn!"

Koen feels the rattle is his throat. His chest heaves. His body trembles.

"Charon laid his skeletal hand on my shoulder and whispered to me. 'He shall not come here. The kin of Osiris never do. He will return to whence he came and journey to the living world again with a new face and a new name.'"

New Erebus quakes. The glow of the crystals blink out, clouds of darkess billow within them as they jostle to remain where they float.

"My son..."

Darkling weeps, clutching his arm as she looks on. Black tears trail down his marked face as he slowly inverts the bottle. The draught floats like a crimson snake down the endless void that serves as a moat.

"For Koen..."

The broken body of ebony fur vanishes like a dream, replaced by a crimson coat that refuses to bleed, even with the hooks tugging stronger in all directions.

In Caledon, a hulking figure clinging to the side of a rocketship by a series of pulleys drops his wrench. He shudders a moment, then slides down the rope so fast it catches fire. He drops the last six feet to a crouch on the pavement.

"Frau Lowey! Something is wrong! We need to get them NOW!!"

Through a receiver, the scientist's channels his mournful wails into an ancient song of comfort.

"Veyiska'dal, Veyiska'dash..."

Quietly, the city's master reads the dials on his instruments.

"Somewhere out there, Darkling, in the toxic fog that shrouds the cities, a neko has been born with a black coat and red tips. That is my son returned. Help me find him."

"Congratulations, Darien. You've overloaded my hypnotic inducer. Go ahead and mourn your pets while I recalibrate."

He fails to notice the lights on the communications console are all binking furiously...

Bloodwing drops the bottle to descend forever into the Abyss.

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