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(Also known as "Record of Elven War")

Written by Ian Kim, Keon Christensen, Ryan Matheuszik and Myself over the span of a month and a half, it took forever for me to get the five hours to sit on my duff and edit it. I suppose I could have posted it in chunks, or just sent it to the library like a good little CAPOWer, but really, where's the fun in that?

This is the story that shows how Tenris becomes a Were-Tiger, shows Kiyo indepth, has Eric romancing a woman *AND* more fight scenes that in sanely necessary.

Ryan, during writing, was often found singing "This is the story that never end, it just goes on and on my friends.." Well, Ryan, BEEEEEEDA! It's over! It's done!

And that done. Read the story. ^_^

* * *

Katt looked around in minor confusion, she could have sworn Tenris had said he was just going out back to find the refrigerator motor she wanted and that he would be right back. That was over two hours ago. She doffed her cap and scratched her head. She gazed over the jungle that passed as a backyard and parking area for her collection of hand-crafted and designed vehicles. She was particularly fond of the one-person (two person if they were good friends..) submarine. Unfortunately she had no idea if it was watertight or not. She scanned the area, the grass swayed back and forth idly in the breeze, the trees rustled and a few birds chirped. No sign of the blonde warrior.

Katt sighed. She lost more assistants this way.

Wading out into the grass Katt looked for signs of Tenris, she found his footprints fairly quickly and followed them. He got as far as the refrigerator and then his tracks were muddied up with -- Katt kneeled down -- CAT prints?! Cat prints large enough to about six or seven feet tall that walked on hind legs. Were-creatures really *DID* exist? Katt sighed. She just bet that the female were-cats had the huge anti-gravity breasts. How much rescuing could Tenris really need? She didn't spot the blood till she stood up.

Katt bent over the blood, taking a small sample and running it through her analyzer -- Weeeeeird didn't even begin to cover the word. She then asked the computer to translate what it was saying into English -- like *she* knew what all those silly medical terms meant! ..Feline DNA.. Human DNA.. Hyper-white blood cells, hyper-this, hyper-that. Neat. She wondered how much money she could get for the blood sample if she sold it to one of the local Quacks.

Well, one thing was for sure, there'd been a fight and her apprentice had gone missing. *No one* kidnapped her apprentice and got away with it! .. Of course, there was this tiny, minor detail of how she always had company helping her before.. Nevermind! She could handle this herself. (And besides, where was she going to find any decent help on short notice? She still had no way to get a hold of Dachend, Kimiko and Ahlen were out of town on a case, Emiko as far as she knew was back in Genesis and Ryan was, well, Ryan.) Katt walked over to the 'fridge. She might as well get the part she needed. The opened door of the cooling device didn't reveal shelves and rust, instead it revealed an idyllic forest. Tenris was running straight for her with six were-tiger women on his tail. Katt stood aside, Tenris came bustling out, doing a flip to clear the lip of the 'fridge and landing casually on the balls of his feet. He turned, already in a fighting stance. Katt slammed the refrigerator door closed. There was several "thumps." and "Ows." from the other side.

Tenris flopped back into the grass. "I have been chewed, clawed, bitten, scratched, tossed about, abused, licked and beaten up. Next time you want a refrigerator motor, Lady Kattarina, you may get it yourself."

"Er.." Katt scratched her ear. "Just another day in the wacky world of CAPOW. Go have a shower -- I'll go find another 'fridge -- preferably one *without* a dimension door in it." Tenris just sighed and headed back to the house rubbing various aches and pains.

Katt shook her head, she should have remembered to given him her magical energy scanner, the area hadn't been the same since the suicidal sparrow attack -- Who would have thought those bird brains could possibly be high-mages?

Katt whistled as she looked about for a second refrigerator -- hopefully one without any curses, dimension doors or mutant badgers. She found the perfect candidate - a 1984 Fridgedair Blaster, one of her favorites. She opened the door cautiously.. Everything seemed to be in order, except the sun suddenly blotted out from behind. She closed the door. Nope, the sun was still blocked. She turned around to investigate the minor problem.

Behind her, standing close to seven and a half feet tall was the ugliest elf she'd ever seen in her life. His skin was a mixture of motley browns, grays and greens, his ears were wide, flat and floppy, his eyes were black and beady. His forehead was slopped forward and the teeth of the awful being were yellow. Over all, he looked like a rat dressed in chain mail. A rat dressed in chain mail with a really big ass sword.

"Uh, hi!" Katt tried to back up a bit, but hit the 'fridge. How annoying.

"It is time you lived up to your heritage." The ugly elf replied, gesturing for a large group of even (she didn't think it was possible..) uglier elves came out from the tall grass.

"Uh, thanks but y'know, I'm quite happy not living up to anything --" Katt held up her hands and wondered if she could talk her way out of *this* one.

"SILENCE!" The lead elf bellowed. "You will learn respect."

"Not bloody likely" Katt muttered.

"SILENCE HER!" The winner of the ugly contest continued to bellow. The other elves advanced, summoning their own swords and armour.

"Great." Thought Katt. There was no way she could take on this many, she didn't even have her defense shield on her, let alone her stun gun.. Why did these things *always* happen at the worst possible time?! (And at this rate it looked likely she'd miss the new Voyager episode.) She summoned her sword and armour, and did her best to look grim and determined. She was going to follow the example of her new (and much improved from the last one!) teacher of swordplay .. If you can't win, kick, scream, gouge and take as many of the foe down with you as you can. They'd regret ever picking on this elf. (But their wives/mistresses would probably be grateful.)

* * *

Ryan sat in the coffee shop, feeling the caffeine pumping through his veins. It had been a fairly slow day, only three armed robberies, a couple of muggings and a sniper who kept trying to kill stuffed rabbits in a toy store. The last one was pretty strange and had been convinced to shoot elastic bands at Mack trucks instead.

Eric sat across from his associate deliberating life, the universe and whether he really wanted the piece of cheese cake or not. He'd had a rough day riding shotgun (literally at points) with Ryan, surely he deserved it, but did he really *want* it? Decisions.. Decisions..

Looking over, his narrow eyes spied on Ryan for a moment. *What am I doing here anyway?* he wondered. His common sense told him that he should really be at DCD headquarters.

At that point a beautiful lady entered the cafe', what was unusual about the lady was she was wearing a kimono and had her hair in traditional maiden style. Her shoes were even traditional, though she couldn't possibly be over 20. Her eyes were a deep and almost endless black, eyes one could easily lose themselves in. She walked slowly in and looked around. With a look of hope entering her eyes she approached Ryan and Eric. Ryan looked up from the evening paper.

"Excuse me kind and wise sirs, might I know if you sir are Ryan-san?" She bowed her head deeply, and made sure not to make eye contact until spoken to.

"That would be me, don't know about that kind thing though." Ryan took another swig of his coffee, why did he get the feeling that he was about to run into *another* dame in trouble?

"Greetings Oh Honoured Ryan-san, I am known as Kiyo, daughter of the revered Dances with Credit Cards, lord of the Kitsune." Ryan raised an eyebrow, what did a fox spirit want with him? And for that matter, this spirit was lookin' pretty solid. "I have come to ask of you a boon. I have naught to offer you but my cooking ability and my abilities at gaining information.. Please will you help me?"

Eric refocused on the conversation, and looked up at the woman. She was clutching her hands, her knuckles were white, and her eyes looked like they had seen tears recently. Whatever was up, this lady seemed to be in trouble.

Part of him was glad that there was a beautiful woman here who *wasn't* groping him for once.. but his heart was fixed on the distress on the lady's face.. and when something like that was captured in his eyes, there was no turning back. From first impressions, she looked to hiding no deception, and that was all he needed to know. In a gracious swoop, his legs were off the table, next to the potential client, and pushing a chair in from behind. "Please, sit." he said with a polite smile. To distraught to reply, she merely sat down with a nod.

"Information is always good," Ryan offered, "What's the help you need?"

"My sister has been taken by her father's family." Kiyo looked to both Eric and Ryan with pleading eyes.

"Your sister -- uh, not to be rude, but wouldn't -- oh hell, never mind, I probably don't want to know. Why'd ya come to us, and what's the scoop?"

"I know you are familiar with my sister, Katt, she was taken by Dark Elves this afternoon and I have been unable to find her protector. I am hoping that you will find it in your heart warrior Ryan-san to find her. I have no power in the realm of the Dark Elves."

*Dark Elves?* Not betraying any thoughts on the exterior, Eric wondered if dark elves were the same kinda as in Genesis. From what he could dig up on Katt after that Convention ordeal, she was lived in quite a different universe from his own. Only now, after that fiasco, did he realize what she must have been thinking through all that time. It made him almost ashamed to be associated with the elven blood. "You mentioned a protector?" Eric queried, "Who would that be?"

"The Lord Dachend, of course." Kiyo looked slightly puzzled, "I am afraid sir, we have not been introduced.."

Eric's smile grew slightly, a lopsided grin really. "Gen, Eric Gen." (In that oh so Bond way.) It was obvious what had to be done. "Don't worry, we'll get your sister back."

"Volunteer me already." Ryan grumbled, Kiyo's eyes widened. "Ah hell, I don't have anything else to do. Lets go find Mister Attitude and get the show on the road. Don't suppose you have a few details for us?"

"No.. I am afraid I can not stay any longer either -- I've used up the last of my energies remaining here this long.. I must go.. The Lord Dachend will know where to go." The elegant lady started to fade from view. "I hope." She was then gone.

Eric looked at Ryan. Ryan looked at Eric. "Protector?! How the hell did *that* happen?" Ryan asked most sarcastically.

* * *

Eric muttered to himself "Damn that old bastard, why is he always holding out on me?"

Ryan looked shortly at him "What's the prob Eric, we got here didn't we?"

Eric nodded "Yeah, but the problem is that the chief has held out on me, again. The first time I meet Dachend, I thought he was just a another big shot, but then he showed up in Genesis and he didn't register at the inter-dimensional guest log. I notified the chief and he just said *don't think about it, it has been taken care of* when I found out he was a member of the head-hunters and the magnitude of their personal and potential for dimensional and space travel, I again confronted the chief and he just brushed me off *they are under surveillance* Geez"

The two of them were standing in some sort of arrival hall for small drop crafts, were the combat teams loaded and unloaded. Through a couple of open shield doors Ryan and Eric could see people in different forms of armour and weapons gear up and get ready. A ten man team of, what Eric found suspiciously looking like, gaugers landmates (a small mech, only about twice the height of a normal human) where in the process of loading some heavy duty field weapons onto a drop ship.

Ryan looked at the DCD officer and then studied a female assassin that came strolling down the hall way the two were standing, with an android dragon the size of a car, chatting in some foreign language. Eric stopped shortly and looked at the dragon, then noticed the ninja's seductive smile as she looked into his eyes "Hello there mister officer, I haven't been a bad girl lately, but if you are available tonight you can take me in"

Eric sweatdropped and glared at Ryan and the android dragon which just made both grin, or more correctly, Ryan grinned and the dragon made a motion with it's mouth that he interpreted as a grin. "Uhmm sorry, it's a tempting offer. But I have to decline, I am here on duty"

The girl assassin sighed "Pity... but in case you change your mind..." she ran her hand down Eric chest. Eric could fell his cool water starting to boil. Out of nowhere the girl produced a card and shoved it down behind Eric's belt, she leaned forward and whispered in his ear "Call me" Eric just smiled nervously.

Ryan grinned as the couple continued down the hallway, Eric sighed "Damn, my luck."

Ryan threw a lopsided smile "Well I still find it a funny that your boss, just shipped us of like that"

Eric groaned "Please *don't* remind me. The old man hasn't said anything to me, other than the head-hunters are under surveillance, we come in to ask if there is any chance the DCD know there whereabouts of Dachend" Eric mimicked the DCD chief's tone of voice "is it important... oh is that so, well in that case I can arrange for transportation for both of you to the Head hunter Inc. HQ....what didn't you know Eric, the head-hunters and DCD has know of each other for a long time" Eric scowled "one of these days..."

Ryan smiled to himself "Well it sorta makes sense that you should, two so big groups of specialized people with inter-dimensional travel possibilities, either you work together or you work against each other" Eric nodded, after a moment he said sorta offhand. "So, when would Dachend come around?"

Ryan looked at his wristwatch "Hmm, should have been here five minutes ago, the girl did say, between her passes at you, that his ship's ETA was due to half a hour, that was five minutes-"

Before Ryan could finish, the big shield door facing them opened and a they could hear the cheering and talking of people, Eric got up "Well, this should be the *protector's* flight" as the door opened more and more, the two could hear what the people were cheering about. "All right" "we rule" "awesome" "did you see the way the head split on the thing" "ha like that was something" "I whacked at least twenty, what was your count?" "Geez is this what we have been training for, it was a walk in the park!?"


Ryan mused silently "Yep, he's here." They could hear the steadily rising augment as the door opened more and more


"Knock that shit off, you didn't prove jack shit out there today"

"What are you talking about, Captain, we did well. We got them all and we suffered no casualties"

"Yeah, you're right, but it would only have something to talk about if you had been sleepwalking, this is a thing you should be able to do in you sleep and half of you snot nosed rookies nearly crapped your pants"

As the door opened completely they could see the group of young men and women that were standing around. Two standing out, a young man with long black hair and green eyes and a tall, blond haired man with pupilless black eyes. The whole group of people looked pretty worn out.

Ryan noted that their black and dark grey battle suits, were very dirty. But not much of the mess on them were real dirt. But gore and dried blood. Almost all had several hand prints on them in blood.

The dark haired youth pointed at Dachend "Hey get off our backs man, you think you can act like that just because you are a veteran. Ha! I whacked at least as many stinkers as you did today and we cleared the zone no fault, not casualties, neither us or civilian"

Dachend nodded slowly "Yeah that's all very impressive kid, just one problem though-" he punched the youth hard in the stomach and backhanded him off his feet.

Some of the other head-hunters jumped to their comrades side, a girl stepped forward "Sir, why did you do that, sir?"

Dachend looked at her coldly "Because he was asking for it."

The girl sank something "But, but Shirow was right, we did well today.."

Dachend smiled a second, then roared at the top of his lungs "NOOOOO! YOU DID THE FUCK *NOT*!!!" The girl took a step back, afraid to get hit like the other. Dachend looked around at the other rookies "You didn't do jack shit today, today was a little fun game that was called hit the moving target. Zombies of that kind are only dangerous if they get in close and overpower you. So keep you back free and aim for the head and your home safe. There was hardly 300 subjects in that town today. It was fucking target practice." He looked maniacally at the rookies, empathizing his words "To do impressive you have to do something that's a challenge" he held a break swearing to himself "Today was the first call for all of you and if just one of you think this was tough call or in anyway special, then believe me you will not last three stinking months. This kind of drops are like moving a lawn, it's boring, it's smelly, it filthy. There's nothing more to it"

There was a moment of silence were the students allowed this sink in,

Dachend looked around, nobody dared to meet his gaze. The immortal crossed his arms "Listen up, there's a golden rule here in the head hunters. If your good, you can join. If you better, you live long enough to become a full fledged head-hunter. If your the best, you live long enough to retire"

There was another moment of embarrassing silence, Dachend then said in a nasty sweet voice "So is there anybody that wants add anything to the debriefing of today's drop?" not a word. Dachend groaned and growled "get the fuck out of my sight" the rookies shuffled and hurried to run away. Dachend suddenly turned and yelled "hey wait a sec-" every one froze "*you*" he pointed at the girl that had spoken up for her team-mate. The girl gasped and her friends literally threw themselves to the side as Dachend strode forward "go easy on her Dach" whispered Dracho'xian.

"You spoke up without my permission." hissed Dachend.

The girl bowed her head deep "Sorry sir, I apologize, it won't happen again, please forgive me sir" Dachend growled.

Eric felt sorry for the girl, he could literally see how terrified she was as she stared at the floor with wide eyes "Liz!!" boomed Dachend

"Yes sir" whimpered the girl, not raising her eyes.

"LOOK AT ME WHEN I SPEAK TO YOU, YOU SHITTY ROOKIE!!!" roared Dachend, the girl literally snapped like a spring board to a strait stand, staring at Dachend in fright. Then Dachend roared even higher "WHAT ARE YOU LOOKING AT ROOKIE!!!!"

The girl immediately bowed again gasping "Forgive me sir" Dachend stood a moment, then he laughed.

He whacked the girl on the head "Loosen up Liz.." the girl dared to lift her eyes, Dachend didn't look so angry anymore, after a moment he flashed his trademark sly smile "...and fer'christ sake stop that groveling and scrapping shit. You show respect to your superior and equals, but a true head-hunter bows to nobody. Remember it, live by it. Or I'll make sure you die by it" with that he turned and walked away from the dumb struck rookies.

After a few steps the splattered head hunter stopped dead in his tracks and as he saw the two familiar figures, then he moved on "Oh, god what have I done to deserve this?" he groaned

"Want a list?" asked the eye on his hand

"Close your shithole or I'll dump you in a heap of trollshit for the remainder of the day."

A shudder went through the eye "I'll behave."

As Dachend reached the two, Dracho'xian spoke up "HiErichiRyan how's Eva?"

Eric grinned "She's find, she told me to say hello." The eye got a dreamy look and sighed. Eric just kept to himself that it was Emiko that had advised Eva to do so.

Ryan nodded a hi to the Wu and Eric made move to take Dachend's hand "Hey, it's been a long ti-" he stopped in mid-sentence, Dachend looked at his hand as he removed it from Eric's.

There was a thick, red jelly like substance smattered over it. Dachend grinned in fake surprise "Whoops, my bad. I had completely forgot about that"

Eric wiped his hand clean and said diplomatic "Oh that's all right, we all make mistakes"

Dracho'xian added with a blink "Especially Dachend"

Eric nodded "That's precisely what I'm talking about"

Dachend made a sour expression "ha-ha you should be on stage Eric. what ever you guys are here for it has to wait until I have been in showers..." he looked at the two's confused expression "I disemboweled a zombie halfway on top of me and most of his gut sorta slipped down my body armour. It's bit of a unpleasant feeling" with that he turned and said "You can park it in the bar"

Eric called after him "Hey man, it's important.."

Dachend looked over his shoulder with a eyebrow cocked. "No, it's not."

"Listen it's-" Eric shook his head.

"I don't care right now" Dachend stated.

* * *

Little over half an hour later Dachend sat down infront Eric and Ryan, in his casual garb, dark pants, boots, black singlet, short dark, open standing jacket and gauntlets.

Eric was sorta thankful that Dachend's entrance made the horde of girls that had been swarming around the table him and Ryan sat at disappear.

Dachend ordered a hard on the rocks and looked at the two. Ryan finished his beer and nodded to Dachend "Well took you time mister *protector" A wush with through the people near and immediately every one near the table withdrew to safe distance.

Dachend cocked a eyebrow "I'm sure that there is a logic explanation for you to call me that and keep me from being evil to you, right Ryan?"

Ryan completely unfazed by the obvious fear of the local patrons in the bar, said completely cool "Listen, don't make me kick the crap outta you in front of all these people."

Dachend's eyebrow twitched. People started moving to a safe distance.

"Besides, it's about Katt."

"Katt?" said both Dachend and Dracho'xian in union, Eric noted to his surprise that there was an actual audible interest in Dachend's voice, not like Dracho'xian that sounded like a little boy that was asking if his best friend could come out and play. But there was a obvious interest.

"So how's the little redhead?" said Dachend a little too casually.

Ryan mused "Yeah well, you see that the whole problem you see, we don't know."

Dachend cocked a eyebrow and said with a sly smile "Say Ryan, do you have some sort of intense desire of me beating the shit out of you?"

Ryan straightened his sunglasses "Nope."

"Then kill the Riddler-wannabe and cut to the chase"

Eric took over "The reason is that Kiyo.."

Dachend lifted a hand, closing his eyes for a moment, then snapped his fingers "Katt's fox sister thing right?"

Eric nodded "Right, well she walked up at me and Ryan and told us that Katt had been kidnapped... and it was also her that brought up the...*ahem* protector thing." Eric said and hid a smile behind his hand.

Dachend rubbed his jaw, there was low mumbled from the surrounding tables "Who?" he then said.

Eric ran a hand through his hair "Kiyo said that it was some of Katt's father's people, what ever that means"

Dachend's face didn't show a thing, in fact he could have been made of stone. Dracho'xian mumbled "Oh boy, this is bad man"

Slowly and calmly Dachend reached over the table without looking at either Eric or Ryan, he grabbed Eric by the collar and yanked him a little forward, saying out into the air "Eric why didn't you say so from the start?" his voice very controlled

"You said that it wasn't important" defended Eric

"Hey don't do what I say, do what I mean jackass" grumbled Dachend .

Eric cocked a eyebrow "I thought you didn't care?"

Dachend's soulless eyes snapped to Eric like the strike of a viper "I *do* care about Katt."

"What was that Demon Hunter? Did you finally get a girl" the three at the table turned a big man with a rough black beard and a big tattoo of the head-hunter logo on his forehead, looked over at Dachend, over the edge of a *huge* glass of beer. He grinned "So what's up, she dumped'ya, bah can't trust those whores" Eric was about to speak but a hand was placed on his shoulder, he looked up and saw Dachend calmly walk past him, hands claps behind his back and a completely innocent expression on his sharp featured face.

"What was that Dachend, *protector* I didn't think you did protective jobs anymore, but I guess if it's a nice piece of pussy you have gotten hold, you can do an exception.."

Dachend stopped infront of the huge man, Dracho'xian whispered "Dachend, don't do anything rash, the jerks drunk.."

"I know" stated Dachend.

Eric and Ryan were sitting contemplating whether to or not to take a deal in the very surely coming fight.

The man pointed a finger at Dachend "Yo Dachend, if you don't want her I'd be happy to take her, she's young right. You know, the best about young girls in when you hear their hips-"


The mans face froze, then he bend over grasping his hand. His index finger completely bent over the back of his hand "Arrrgghh! My hand, you crazy son of a bitch!" screamed the man staring at his finger.

Dachend looked around, making sure he had everybody's attention, then looked back at the man "You do know what the private, in private life stands for..." with an almost casual motion he took hold of the man's hand and lifted his other hand and said viciously "don't you?"


"AAARRRGGGGH!" Screamed the man, bolting back over the chair. His arm had been broken clean at the elbow, his lower arm bend almost all the way up under his armpit. "JEEZUS, GOD MY ARM. YOU FUCKING--! AAAARHH!!" cried the man.

Dachend groaned, then his face curled up in anger "Oh shut up fer'christ sake" he grabbed hold of the mans back head with both hands and slammed his head forward into the table plate, cracking the table in half.

Then he turned towards Eric and Ryan and walked back to them. "Okay, I'm done. Let's find Katt and see if she is okay"

Dracho'xian added with a amused glint in his cat eye. "Hey you almost sounded almost concerned for her"

"You know it's not to late to find a heap of trollshit."

The sword shut up.

* * *

Eric looked up from the data terminal so that he was looking over Dachend's shoulder "Hey those are files with information on various anime universe from the DCD"

Dachend grinned "So they are, wonder where they came from. Relax man, we only have them to make sure that we don't trespass on DCD territory. If prey does flee into DCD jurisdiction, you take over" Eric looked at Dachend's sly smile suspiciously.



Ryan sighed and holstered his .45s after placing an action load in them (full mag, one in the chamber) why did Dachend always have to bicker with every body male, also female for that reason. He had freaked out completely at Susano during the MGC convention. Ryan winced at the thought, when he got hold of the chief, oh when he got hold of the chief.

"Argh, suck me sideways." cursed Dachend

"What?" said Eric who had been busy tightening the bands on his treasured Masamune.

"Well the only dimensional destination codes we got for any were in Underhill is Watermark and from there I have no clue of how to get to where ever the fucked up, shitheads that took Katt are. But I know that the different places in Underhill are connected by dimensional gates and there should possibly be a passage from Watermark or we can try Furrhold" Dachend mumbled something under his breath. "Furrhold?" added Ryan

"The Kitsune's land. It's weird"

"What'da'ya mean weird?"


"Then let's hope that we can find a passage in Watermark."

"It shouldn't be that hard, we'll just look for a very solidly sealed portal, with a solid guard" mused Dachend

Ryan finished affixing several small objects to the inside of his jacket, holstered his guns, and placed a very large bowie knife in a boot holster. "See? Easy as breakfast."

* * *

Eric looked a little dubious, the three of them were standing in a very heavily armoured room. In the middle of the room was a white circle. In the middle of the circle hung, in perfect hover one meter over the floor, hung a sphere. It was completely colourless. Not gray, not black, not white, but colourless. Eric had this strange idea that he could see the sphere surface shimmer with hundreds of spectrums of colours, every time he just looked at it out of the corner of his eye.

The three stepped into the circle "Dachend, mind explaining what this is again?"

"CDI: Combat Dimensional Insertion"

Dracho'xian added "It takes less than a second for us to lock on to the dimension and then we'll be sorta slingshot into it, so better be ready for a rough landing.."

Eric shared a glare with Ryan "Slingshot.." he mumbled, sweatdropping.

Dracho'xian added "Yep, it's called like that, because you get kinda flung into another dimension. It's pretty hard to predict where you land."

Dachend looked over his shoulder "So if you wanna confess that you had your balls removed as a little elf and butt out like a wuss, it's now pointy ears."

Eric smiled calmly, pushing a strand of hair in place and placed his hands in his pockets. A girl in the window above them in the control room fainted.

Dachend smiled his sly smile "Just checking" then made the thumb up signal to the controller.

The room began to shimmer with colours, the air around the sphere began to wave and twist as if extremely hot. Then the colours began to draw out and move through the spectrum starting at a burning sharp ultra violet, moving through the scale ending at a heavy, dull infrared. That slowly faded to black and beyond black.

Eric looked around, he was standing in darkness, a little from him were Dachend and Ryan. Seeming to stand in darkness as well. and five feet from him, the sphere hung. Eric had a strange felling of the sphere sucking in something, not that he could see, hear or sense any change. Sense anything for that matter at all. But his gut told him otherwise.

The sphere's surface rippled like water broken by the rings from a stone thrown into it. Dracho'xian cheered "Here we go!"

"Hold on to your ears, Eric" added Dachend.

A flash that was so sharp that it was beyond light, exploded from the sphere. Yet none of the four friends were blinded. Instead they felt themselves being flung away.

* * *

Another flash and Dachend, Dracho'xian, Eric and Ryan found themselves in mid-air. Falling through comfortably warm air. Suddenly this air was interrupted by, not so comfortably hard surface that scatter with a sharp clatter. More air. Eric noted that this air was more moist, than the one they had been falling through about a split second before.

Then the air turned very moist, in fact it turned down right wet.

Eric surfaced and quickly wiped the water from his eyes, he looked into a incredibly beautiful, but also very stunned female, Elven face. Eric sank something *Please god in heaven, not again* he looked around, yep. Just as he suspected. More female Elven maids. Some wearing towels, some wearing, well some not wearing towels. Bathing room.

Ryan and Dachend surfaced almost simultaneously, Dachend looked around. Ryan looked over the edge of his sunglasses "Hmm, interesting place" he mused, enjoying the view.

Dachend nodded "Yep, I've found worse places to land"

* * *

"The heroes have arrived," A male voice announced from admist the smoke. "In a rather unusual manner." A large mirror on one wall showed the 'heroes' in question bathing with a large group of Elven women who were busying summoning their swords and armour.

"Will they succeed, do you think, Father?" The young woman knelt facing the mirror, her back to her father.

"They must. This uprising has been foreseen for the aeons. If the Dark Elven kin gets a hold of the technology and weaponry from Kattarina, then all of Underhill will fall."

"And we can not assist?" The lady asked anxiously.

"We have helped as much as we are allowed without being summoned, Kiyo, you know that." Dances with Credit Cards stood from sitting cross-legged in front of the brazier. "We are not allowed to interfere directly without request -- We have done as much as we can, right now. I know the healer in your cries to help, but you must learn patience."

"Hai." Kiyo hung her head ashamed. She knew better, she knew the laws and rules that guided her people. She knew the reasons for them. But never before had one she cared for so much for someone who had their life in the pendulum of fate .. to sit back and watch the pendulum swing back and forth, not knowing which way it would stop was almost too much for the soft-hearted Kistune.

"I will leave you to watch, daughter." The Duke walked out of the room, concerned for both of his daughters, one by birth, one by adoption.

Kiyo, head still bowed, continued to kneel in front of the mirror for a while -- The trio moving almost imperceptibly due to the time differences between the magical workshop and the rest of the universe. "Please, One with the soul of light, please remember my name and call upon my services." A tiny part of her wondered if she wished he would remember her name for other reasons -- But she was just being silly. What interest would an *Elf* have in a *Kitsune*?

She wanted to wade into Elfheim Shadowbringer and rescue her sister, but two things stopped her. One, she was not allowed to interfere, and second, she would be intangible. While she could still heal under those circumstances, she couldn't exactly bash heads together..

She sighed and felt even more helpless. One lone crystal tear hit the wooden floor.

* * *

"I'm your only friend, I'm not your only friend.." babbled the rat-like Elven mage. "..But I'm a little glowing friend! But really, I'm not actually your friend but I am... Blue canary on the outlet by the light switch, who watches over you..."

The Lieutenant looked on with disgust and ended up decapitating the offending mage. The head rolled to join three others that had met similar fates. Katt winced. "What exactly *are* you doing to these mages?"

"They Might Be Giants lyrics .. gets 'em every time." Katt looked slightly smug. Kiyo had suggest *that* particular defense to telepaths.

"Fine. If you will not play by the rules and let us gain the information we want from your mind then we will have to resort to more .. archaic and barbaric methods.." The large smelly Elf of darkness gestured to the guards.

"Halt!" A new voice spoke from the shadows. Katt *knew* that voice .. but from where?! A tall, lithe blonde Elf, handsome beyond a human's dreams stepped into the torch light. Katt skittered back towards the wall in horror and fear. "Hello, little Katt. I told you my training all had purpose did I not? Did I not teach you respect?" The swordmaster took a step forward, "To fear me? To obey me? You see little Katt, you will build us the machines necessary for us to take over Underhill and you will do it willingly."

Katt's eyes were huge with fear, "N-n-no. I w-won't!" she managed to stutter out. What in the name of the old ones was Yeralanor doing here? He was her step-father's *cousin* for Dana's sake! He had 'taught' her swordplay for as long as she had lived in Watermark.. How long had he been working for the Dark-Elves?!!?

"You won't, hmm? Well, I know the Kitsune probably taught you the tricks of dealing with torturers and how to make the information you give unreliable, so we will have to go with a bit of more magical plan." Yeralanor turned to the Lieutenant, "See that the spell is cast." He then turned back to Katt with a predator's grin, "Don't worry, we will meet again. Unfortunately, by then I don't think you will be yourself." He then sunk back into the shadows.

Hours passed in silence, the only noise the burning torches and the dripping of water at the end of the dark hallway. The dungeon itself was barren, even the guards had moved off. A mage had been down here, drawing circles and chanting a lot but Katt had felt no effect and got bored with the entire process quite quickly. It hadn't been until after the mage had been talking with one of his superiors that she learnt that the spell that would change her mind to that of a puppet's would take a week to take effect.. She shuddered. How was she going to get out of *this* one?!

..There was no point in sitting around and waiting for miracles to happen, she might as well get herself out of this mess. She pulled out a hairpin -- every mechanic's friend and worked the latch on the cell door. Piece of cake. She snuck out and looked up and down the hallway. She chose right as good a direction as any and stuck to the cold walls. She really wished that the Dark Elves could have at least waited till she was wearing shoes to kidnap her.

She soon came across two Troll guards. This would be tricky. Hopefully she could slice 'em enough with that neat trick Dracho'xian had taught her so it couldn't regenerate in time.. Of course, she wasn't quite sure if she could pull it off with her own sword .. No time to worry about such details. She had the sword summoned and just a millimeter from the Troll's shoulder when it disappeared from her hand. She whirled to find a rather annoyed looking Ogre-Mage looking down at her.

"Bad Elfie." It growled, grabbing her by the hair and hauling her off the ground. "Elfie stay put."


"Laundry?" The Ogre looked mildly confused, tossed her up in the air with his one hand and caught her by the wrist with the other. She landed with a *thump* and another string of curses. Maybe she was hanging around Dachend too much. "Elfie come. Master tell Me'grud what to do if Elfie escape."

Katt found herself dragged along the cobblestone of the dungeon, down three flights of stairs and out into a strange area. It seemed to be some sort of stone pit with a stone island in the middle about twenty feet lower than the height of the pit. The edges of the island were at least forty feet away from the wall of the pit. "By blessed Dana.."

"Bye-bye Elfie." The Ogre casually tossed her like a rag doll. Katt felt herself falling.. falling.. then landing in a crumpled up heap of pain and suffering. She barely managed to catch herself before she went off the side. Would probably have served the Ogre right if he *had* caused her death.

She lay there panting and sobbing for what seemed like an eternity. She finally managed to roll over and look up at the situation. "Oh fraggin' great. How the hell am I supposed to get out of here?" She sighed. "I wonder if I could braid a rope with my hair.. No, Repunzal I'm not.. Hmm, maybe the thread's of my clothing..?" She spent long lonely hours trying to figure a way out of her predicament.

* * *

All three watched as the battle armour wrapped up the elven ladies into a more combat ready form. It was a small pool, the lowest point of a large stone cliff that extended high upwards behind them, a beautiful waterfall descending from and through the holes in the rocky surfaces. Dachend was the first to be ready. "God damn we don't have time for this" he stated as fact as Dracho'xian shifted into his hand. "I'll handle this--"

"No." Eric extended his arm to the side, palm outstretched defiantly, blocking Dachend's attack path. His jump back from the stunned elven girl brought his position to within a few meters. *I'll be damned if we shed blood of the innocent* "It was our mistake." Quickly he unsheathed the Masamune, a few girls readying themselves by that hostile act. It sliced through the water without causing a break, and rested with the flat on his other hand, parallel to his chest.

It was a gesture of apology. Before the immediate girl, Eric bowed gently, sword outstretched before her. "Our intrusion was unwarranted, and you have every right to be angry. Maiden, if it is your will to strike us down, then do so by my sword. I will do no more to temper your justified anger."

"Christ! " groaned Dachend, slapping himself on the forehead.

Inside, Eric's heart was beating a little faster. In partially because of the amount of beautiful girls in his proximity, but also because he was going on the assumption that the elves of this land were like the elves of Gaea. Elves had an ego, and desired respect above all else.

With his head staring at the warm water that rose up and down at the waist, he could only hear the slight movement of armour, and the sound of Dachend gagging. Then, to his dismay, he felt the gentle hands of one of the girls, as she picked up the Masamune. *oh shit.* It was a matter of honour that he do nothing. There was little to do but put his arms to his side and wait for the impending strike. Relieved, the handle of the blade was presented before his face, causing a sigh of relief. They seemed to use the same protocol here as well.

A mature voice spoke. "Well done, sir." Eric looked up, to find himself slowly gazing up the figure of a very attractive elf, strapped in the standard tight-fitting female elven gear. It was one of the older ones (which still looked under 30). "With the amount of vulgarity and terrors that beseeches this land," she raised an eyebrow in Dachend's direction, who growled back, "it is always pleasing to know that decency still exists."

"Come down here and repeat that, you stuck up hussy and I'll show some Decent sword play" snarled Dachend, then tilted his head slightly "no? Then I'll come get you" he began to move, but Eric took a firm hold of his shoulder.

"Thank you my lady" He looked for the words to say next. They could end up in an impending fight again, and slicing up pretty ladies didn't sit well in his stomach. Quickly, he sheathed his blade, and stood straight to his full stature. Elves didn't like handsome wimps either.

"We are looking for a portal nearby, but we don't know where is could be. We will be searching for a long time without help." He stroked a hand gently through his blue hair and gave a brief smile. The mist around him was starting to react funny to his energy aura, little sparks of light shining as he spoke. "Well, we will be on our way.."

"That's it?" Dachend glared at Eric. The elf glared back at him as he walked away.

"Wait!" A young girl's voice stopped him in mid-stride out of the pool. "There's a seal down the cliff near the ancient tree! I'm sure that's it!"

"Jeena!" The eldest snapped at the younger one.

Eric looked back an nodded briefly. "Thank you for your service, Jeena."

* * *

Kiyo watched intently at the mirror, the elf's smile and dashing face shining in full view. It was not the physical look that was so appealing.. all elves were attractive in one way or another. But he.. he had this aura around him, this field of light surrounding his presence. Gingerly, her fingers danced over the edges of his skin as he left the wading pool. "What a kind man." She didn't know what it was about it all that caused a tear to fall from her eye, as a sadness fell over her heart.

Then again, maybe she did.

* * *

The cliff was taller than expected, and it was a long way down. The rocky steep incline called for some interesting footwork down into the darkness. On their way, Dachend cursed. "Damn, I don't know what's going to kill me on this trip, a sword, or all that pansy-ass stuff Eric's gonna do."

"You can't die, you're immortal" grinned Ryan, who was acting pretty silent during this mission. "Didn't know you had it in you to seduce girls, dude."

The blue haired elf pikued. "Hey, I don't seduce anybody. It's just elven protocol."

"Usually you freak out."

"There's a lot you don't know about me I guess. Anyways, that's the way protocol works. Sometimes it's not necessary to go around kicking everyone's ass to get a job done." he looked at Dachend wryly. "Of course, not everyone knows this." he laughed.

"It would've been quicker and more effective though" Dachend justified.

"More fun too" Ryan smiled wanly.

"My exact sentiment" added Dachend

"I have this urge to shoot something." Ryan mused, he took a moment to scope out the horizon. "Hmm..."

"What is it?"

"Well.." Maintaining a firm hold the vertical surface, Ryan adjusted his glasses to zoom in. "Is that the tree we're looking for?"

Dachend and Eric both looked away from the cliff in disbelief. Floating in mid air, shrouded in darkness, was a large oak tree, roots exposed and grappling to nothing.

"Aw shit, that's just fuckin' perfect. Now who here can fly?"

Dachend contemplated using Dracho'xian as a rope. "Don't even think about it." the sword answered curtly.

"There's no way my legs can cover that distance." Eric added.

Dachend spat away, to find that the spit just fell forever. He cursed some more "well I can get over there on my Shou-rin, but it can't carry us all"

"Maybe those birds can give us a lift?" Ryan queried.


"Yeah, the one's with scaly backs, large teeth and sharp beaks headed straight for us."

Tiny specks came from the tree, quickly multiplying in number and growing in size as they got closer. The shrill noise they created through their black beaks was a big a threat in itself. The teeth and foot long claws just added to the problem.

"Fuck, this portal comes complete with guardians."

"Anyone fight birds while handing onto a cliff?"

"What do you think?"

They looked at Ryan, who arming a large gun. "This is going to be interesting, heh, heh!"

"Just remember, we *need* some of those rides."

"No problem. Leave it to me."

* * *

Eric and Dachend prepared themselves for the coming onslaught as Ryan stared grimly at the approaching specks. Suddenly a shot rang out and one of the specks began a long spiral downwards.

"That's one down." noted Eric.

"Yeah, and it leaves a whole lot more." Dachend added.

Then, suddenly, they were upon them.

The lead bird's diving attack came to an untimely end on the point of Draco'xian as the swarm at last reached the three adventurers. "Bloodhawks. That's just fucking great." muttered Dachend taking a swing at another as it tried to snatch him from the cliff, "I HATE bloodhawks."

With a stattaco BLAM-BLAM-BLAM Ryan dropped avian assailants like flies, but still they came onwards, talons and beaks flashing with razor-sharp menace in the afternoon sun. The sound of explosions driving small lumps of metal forwards at well over the speed of sound stopped as Ryan changed clips. One of the bloodhawks took the opportunity to try and make a meal of his right hand. Instead Ryan made a solid right to the bird's temple and sent it plummeting to it's unfortunate comrades below.

With a mighty "SOLAR FLARE" Eric joined the battle. A number of hawks who had been massing for a concentrated attack on the small group were caught in the blast. Small magic missiles and larger blasts of mystic energy soon joined Ryan's bullets in dispatching attackers.

And then, as suddenly as it had begun, it ended.

Still clinging to the side of the cliff, the three heroes rested.

"You were SUPPOSED to leave a few alive!" groused Dachend at Ryan, who was looking pensive.

"Listen, I didn't see you taking it easy on any of them, so bugger off." He replied, staring upwards at the top of the cliff.

"Still," conceded Eric, "we're back where we started. We have no way of getting to the tree."

"If you'd like more birds," Ryan said looking out at the tree again, "you've got your wish. That blasted tree is spawning more of them."

Forty minutes later the three heroes were still clinging to the side of the cliff.

"That's three times now that tree has sent it's 'guardians' after us," Eric commented. "It seems to release another bunch every 15 minutes or so."

"It's collecting magic to summon them with." Dachend stated, breaking his gaze from the tree. "I can see it pulling magic in from the surrounding area. It was so faint that I didn't spot it at first."

"That also explains why it's hovering in mid-air," continued Eric, nodding. "Anything that charged with magic has got to extend into the astral plane."

"Huh?" Ryan looked perplexed.

"What's the matter tough guy?" taunted Dachend, "Don't know magic from a hole in the wall?"

Ryan turned towards his abrasive companion. "I know what a fireball does, I can recognize a Magic Missile or the Dragon Slave, I can even identify demons, but when it comes to the finer points of thaumaturgy..."

Dachend and Eric blinked.

"Such a big word..." Eric began as Ryan's arm snaked out towards him. Seconds later he found himself airborne and sailing towards the tree at high velocity.

"SEE WHAT YOU CAN DO ABOUT STOPPING THOSE BIRDS!" Ryan called after him, arm outstretched from having launched his companion into the air. "OH! AND BY THE WAY, I FIGURED OUT HOW TO GET YOU AND DACHEND OVER TO THE PORTAL!"

Ryan tuned towards Dachend.

"Go bite yourself," snarled Dachend, "you are NOT tossing me across that much open space. Besides, how are you going to get across yourself? Jump?"

"My cybernetics make me too heavy to jump that far," Ryan said, grinning, but I've already worked that out too. See that outcropping of rock up there?"

"Yeah, what about it?"

"Watch it for a moment."

Dachend stared at the large peninsula of rock. Then he saw it, the roc blinked.

* * *

Kiyo still sat back on her heels, watching the three heroes. She'd sped up the time ratio so that it was as fast as they who were living it. Watching the three men in incredibly slow motion had been excruciating. The mysts of time swirled behind the large window, dancing their intoxicating dance. The light level in the magical room seemed to shift and change without ever becoming too dark or too light.

She watched with fascination as the men fought the blood-thirsty birds, Ryan firing without fail to hit, Dachend slicing more than his fair share with his sword and the mage preparing burnt bird. She had never seen so unlikely a group fighting so well together with their styles not interfering with each other. Mayhaps they *could* pull it off.. If only she could have warned them about the all the troubles they faced.

She thought it particularly cruel that the elven maid had sent the men to the tree-portal instead of the set portal of the realm, but she supposed they were getting off easy for interrupting the bath. She crossed her fingers that Eric would be a good enough mage to set the destination of the portal to the Dark - Elf realm..

The fighting ended abruptly and Ryan found the solution to the problem of reaching the tree.. Kiyo could only wince when the handsome blue haired elf did his Koala impression when he reached the tree.

* * *

Eric carefully made his way down the tree, careful not to tangle his coat in the rough bark. *I've really got to talk to Ryan about his 'techniques'*. Gradually the surface became smoother, the tree's enormous radius making the trip seem more like climbing a mountain. *Like the Laputa tree* Eric thought, remembering a recent DUB attack in that dimension. Casually he descended to a man-sized hole, a carved away knot that lead inside. Cautiously, he made his entrance, cloak fluttering gently behind him. Before him sat a few rune stones. "Great.." His eyes danced around the inner surface, looking for other means of opening the gate.

It was times like this that he wished that he'd paid a little more attention to his elven heritage. *You whip nature around like an angry young dragon...undisciplined!* he recalled Yumi saying once or twice. "Well, birds first, portal second" he planned.

With a brisk stroke, Eric removed his right glove, and planted his palm gently on the floor, closing his eyes in meditation. **Ancient tree, why do you harm us?**

His ears started to tingle as his slightly neglected nature skills woke up. He sensed a touch of fear, and a little anger. Fear from the intruder, and anger from the lack of formal tone in Eric's voice. He cringed, cursing himself for forgetting the protocols. It was all understandable.

**Sorry for the intrusion on your peaceful domain, ancient one.....but if you can feel my thoughts, there is nothing to fear. You and I are the same, linked by the elements** Pressing harder, Eric slowly discharged a little energy into the tree. As the energy came from the environment, it was almost like recycling power. The feeling changed from disorder to calm. **Thank you**

He wasn't sure if he calmed the tree in time to prevent the next wave of birds, but Dachend and Ryan could probably handle that. Eric got up from kneeling position and put his glove back in place. "Okay, on to the next."

* * *

Kiyo clapped her hands excitedly. *Thank goodness for the elven nature abilities, now he just has to leave the head rune stone untouched and unlock the portal door..* She smiled softly at the image of the young man.

But then, the smile turned to absolute horror, as she watched the elven mage pick up the rune stone. *W-w...what's he doing?!*

* * *

Eric felt the stone with his hands and sighed. *What the hell do you do with one of these things?* He started to consider breaking it open, when the knowledge in the back of his mind came forth, in the voice of his sister. *Some rune stones contain keys, that must be unlocked by the energy of the mind. Like a labyrinth, there are many, many paths, but only one can unlock what you seek. Ho ho ho, it's easy to do if you....*

Eric facefaulted. "That's it?!" He wracked his brain, only to find out that his mind had wandered off to something else at that point in the discussion. "Must have been boring..." The rune stone sat in his hands, with what he swore was a smile on it's surface. *Hmph, many paths, eh?*

* * *

Kiyo sipped on a cool drink, trying to dilute the quick beating of her heart. *It's okay, it's okay he picked it just increased the number of paths, that's all. Or maybe all I've heard is a lie...I mean, he's the mage, not I* That thought brought her temperature down, as she waited, as she chewed on her finger claws.

* * *

The palpitation of Eric's heart was increasing. *Okay....if there are many paths, all I'd have to do is subdivide my mental energies until one path hits the opening, right?* He breathed in and out, calming his mind. *Piece of cake* Slowly, his eyes came into sharp focus with the inscription on the rune stone.

Closer. Closer. The stone's surface, it's markings, it's colour, it's texture...began to encompass more of his thought. Although physically the stone stayed at arms length, in his mind it was quickly approaching him, like a comet at a doomed planet. *Almost in...* It was as frustrating as looking at a 2-D 3-D picture The smooth surface revealed it's rough microscopic grain.. the grain revealed the atoms.. the atoms revealed...the next.

He was in.

*Quickly...* His mind ebbed into the stone, energies streaming like noodles into the essence of the magical rock. The energy, Eric's energy, quickly divided into two, then into 4, then 8, and so on, searching the essence for that which he desired. He didn't even notice that his teeth were clenched, and sweat was beginning to fall down his brow. The rune was all.

*Faster...* The energy divided. No entry. It divided again, the exponential expansion slowly feigning control from his mind.


It grew and grew, power scattering like wild fire into a web of different directions.

*Damn, where is it?!* The veins of Eric's temples were starting expand, the neck and hand muscles constricted in a state of shock.


Divide again.

He was sure he has long past the kind of energy control he was capable of. *This is more than I can take! I've got to stop!* But something didn't let him. *What the hell!?* The vice grip of his hands dug harder onto the rune's surface.

Divide again.

His brain beat harder, mind throbbing with aches beyond what he thought was possible. *Is this....was this...was this a trap?!*

* * *

"Eric?" Kiyo studied the mages posture, which had not moved for the past five minutes. *What's going on? It never takes this long. What if....* She winced. *No...* She put her hand on the glass, hoping her name would be called.

* * *

"Errrrgh..!" His mouth refused to open; his mind, lost in an expanding plane of energy and darkness. More divisions. *It's too hard..!* Everything was becoming a blur, the blue flames of a million lights cascading over images of people he knew.



He felt the warmth of blood as it began to stream from his eye sockets, the pressure of his facial muscles clamping down tight. Drops of blood stained the tree.

* * *

Dachend looked a moment at the huge bird, then looked at Ryan "well if you wanna play cowboy and tame the oversized turkey down there be my guest" Ryan smiled "Well as you said, you shou-what-ever can't carry us both" the two began to crawl towards the giant bird. Ryan looked around a rock, to see if they could get to the bird that way, then back at Dachend. Who was sitting on top of a boulder, waiting for the other's signal "It's sitting with it's back to us from here, let's go" he turned back to the Roc, then added "Oh yeah, watch your 6."

Dachend turned slightly and stretched out his arm, half looking "Saw it" he answered, the Bloodhawk, that had had it's beak wide open to biet at Dachend's neck, suddenly found it's intended prey's right arm inside it's beak. The bird blinked. Then there was low *slick* and a pair of long, slick blades protruded out of the back of the birds head. Dachend withdrew his arm with almost bored expression and the blades on his gantlet retracted themselves. Then he followed Ryan, not even noticing the body that moved in spasms behind him.

Rocs are gigantic birds of prey, the largest feeding on mammals the size of elephants. But the general Roc mostly only eat a piece of cattle or so a day. The Rocs, through not very aggressive, they don't tolerate rivals on there territory or to be attacked. With their great size and obvious strength and endurance, Rocs have few potential enemies and it is unwise to provoke them.

If Ryan or Dachend knew any of this, the didn't give a flying damn. Because suddenly the Roc felt two weights settle on it's back. It tried to shake itself, that didn't work. The Roc took of.

The bounty hunter and demon hunter hung on the best they could to the great birds back "Okay" called Dachend "now we got the damn thing to fly, That's step one. What about controlling this crazy chicken?"

Ryan looked back at Dachend with a smirk "I have no idea."

Dachend grinned. "Thought so" with great effort Ryan crawled closer to the head of the Roc. Dachend doing his best to follow.

Ryan with his superior strength and weight had it more easy with hanging on to the bird as it tried to shake of it's unwanted passengers "For your information, I can tell that we are moving away from the fucking tree" bellowed Dachend hanging in on hand several meters behind Ryan.

Ryan looked around and located the tree at the Roc's 8 "No, you stupid bird, not that way!" he yelled and crawled the final 3 meters to the Roc's head. Swinging a leg on each side of it's head. Ryan caught hold of the feathers behind the Roc's eyes and pulled back hard. He remember that was how you did with horses and that it might work here too.

The effect was immanent, the gigantic bird drew back it's head with a high shriek of pain and beat it's wings forward. Causing it to make a hard break in the air. The sudden stop of the violent flight sent Ryan, even through he had a solid grip on the bird, hard into the neck of the Roc.

Dachend, who on the other hand still barely had a hold with one hand, was flung through the air, at the violent yank that went through the Roc. Passing Ryan and the Roc's headwith a couple of inches, along with a loud *sonofabiiiiitch*

Ryan saw how small lightning crackled around the quickly fading figure, then heard Dachend's voice call "Come out Shou-rin!" there was a small shimmer and then the dot got bigger again and moment's later Dachend was on beside Ryan (and the Roc's head) standing on the flat, green creature.

"Holy shit man, you fly as bad as I drive!" he called through the howling wind.

Ryan pulled at the right part of the Roc's head feathers and the giant bird turned around. "But I'm in steering it now, that's more than you do" Ryan called back.

"Yeah, your a real cowboy"

"Yee-HAW!" Said Ryan solemnly. Then added "Let's see what Eric's been up to"

Dachend shrugged "Probably got himself into trouble"

Ryan looked back with a doubtful glance "you think so?"

"hey Emiko had to have learned it from _some_body" grinned Dachend as they closed in on the tree.

* * *

"Call me!!!" Kiyo yelled into the mirror. She pounded onto the mirror with her fists. "Call me, PLEASE!!!!" It all fell on empty ears.

After all, what was she doing other than shouting into a flat mirror? The other two heroes were too busy with the roc to be of any help.

There was nothing she could do but cry in frustration.

* * *

Torture has a tendency to surpass muscle restrictions. Eric opened his mouth and yelled in pain. "Yaaaaaaaagh!!" He was getting dizzy, losing all ideas of concentration. But despite the loss of focus, the energy kept on dividing, forcing him to use even more concentration than he could control. *Stop! Stop it!!*

White light, blinded his sight.

*Eric, someone is calling you....won't you call back?* came a familiar angelic voice.

Billions of divisions. He could feel death at his feet. In a mind incapable of thinking straight, the word came from his mouth like they had life of their own.


* * *

The last syllable of her name hadn't even be spoken when she landed on the tree in a crouch beside Eric, her clothes fluttering around her. She was rather surprised to see her hands human as she reached to heal the handsome Elf.. When had she done that? As soon as she brushed a hand over his temple she felt his spiritual energies being pulled into the rock of magic.

She hadn't remembered him falling to his knees in the mirror, but the pain he must be in -- She kneeled in front of the mage, placing both hands over his temples. "Shadows of the heart, songs of the mind, bring the strength of the spirit to him from mine," Kiyo began, singing softly under her breath, "Give him the strength to carry on, Give him the strength to save us all, For without him, all Underhill shall fall," She twitched, bad rhyming scheme, but she *was* under stress here!

Kiyo sang all her strength to the mage, trying to avoid melding her own spirit with his own, a few close calls as her own brushed up against his.

She tried her best to ease his pain as he worked his way through the labyrinth of the rune stone, setting up healing spells on the fly that would aid him when he escaped and she would be to weak to help further.

* * *

*Nani?!* Eric suddenly felt a surge of power course through his mind. *Ikuzo!!* The light shot forth from his vision, shattering through the maze and towards the goal.

There it was. Eric grabbed it, the unknown renewed vigor driving his mind forward at frightening speed. It was over.

The stone dropped from his hands, and Eric collapsed to the floor. He could feel the waves of a space disturbance mingling just out outside the tree. But he could not see. Panting hard, he lay for a moment, thinking about what just happened. *I keep telling Emiko not to be so spontaneous, and here I go and do it myself. Idiot* Feeling around, he was surprised to find that besides his eyes, everything seemed to be perfectly fine. His head had a slight throbbing to it, but otherwise it was in perfect health.

Suddenly something entered his aura field. It was then that he noticed the other presence. *Huh?*

"Your eyes will take an hour to heal" replied a weak distant voice.

"Who are you?"

"You mean..." Kiyo sighed, dismayed. *So he doesn't remember....* She thought about her words carefully. "What do you sense?" she asked.

"I sense..." Eric paused. With a lack of vision, the command over the environment had increased. "I sense..... sense......" Was this the tree talking? A vision? A spirit? No.. it was a person. She had probably saved his butt...the least he could do was be honest, though he was a little embarrassed to do so. "I sense....a spirit of beauty...a kind soul of nature's will. Weak now, but strong before.." He smiled and stood wearily onto his feet. "If you are too weak, I will carry you."

Kiyo blushed furiously. "G...." No, it was too much. With her remaining strength, she transformed into a fox and lay down to sleep.

Eric sensed something change in the presence, but couldn't define it. Reaching down, he was somewhat surprise to touch base with a pile of fur. *A forest creature?* Gathering up the animal into his arms, he shrugged. *I guess it's better that a girl didn't hear something like that from me anyway.* Stroking the fox's gentle fur with his fingers, Eric walked out to see Dachend and Ryan arrive.

* * *

Ryan and Dachend climbed up to find Eric casually leaning against a tree stroking a silver fox. The Elf looked rather tired, but for the most part calm and collected. "That better not be who I think it is.." Ryan started, his hand wandering down to the grip of a pistol.

Eric sighed, "No, it is not. She is one who assisted me." He could blearily make out the shapes of Ryan and Dachend. Dracho'xian was a sharp shape to both his mundane sight and third eye's view.

"Well, the gang's here, why don't we continue with the party?" Ryan started looking around at the tree.

Dachend closed his eyes and focused inward. "Two branches up and on the other side of the tree." He said, opening his eyes. Without further ado he grabbed a branch and started to climb. Ryan shrugged and followed suit.

Eric hesitated, he wasn't sure his eyesight was good enough yet for playing monkey. *I will guide you, I will be your eyes.* The soft female voice told him in his mind. Eric started, he thought she was still asleep, her voice still sounded so weak. *You think loudly for an Elf, sir.* The fox continued *It 'twould wake the dead. When you are healed, may I borrow some of your magics to heal myself?* Eric agreed without a second thought and proceeded to follow the directions of the vixen.

The three men, the sword, and Kiyo soon found themselves standing in front of a blue glowing portal. Dachend scratched his head. "We have to set it to the right place." He turned to Eric. "Think ya can handle that, pointy? I know it might require some effort and all, hate for ya to break out in to a sweat or something."

"What is *WITH* your attitude?" Ryan finally said.

"He's worried about Katt," Dracho'xian supplied.

"Fuck you," Dachend countered.

Ryan sighed. Sometimes he felt like he was back in kindergarten.

*You can do it, Sir Eric. You just have to concentrate on the aura of that which you seek and the portal will set itself to that heim.* Kiyo hoped she wasn't giving too much information out unasked for. Well, damnit, if she was, the Kitsune council could take her up on charges if Underhill survived!

Eric opened his awareness once more to meld himself with the portal. A wild and chaotic force entered his mind, demanding instructions and destination. He did he best to focus on Katt's aura and hope that was good enough. The power bucked and jerked about for agonizing heartbeats then settled upon a choice. Eric opened his eyes to see the portal pulsating a happy purple.

"That it?" Ryan asked suspiciously.

"I hope so," Eric answered honestly.

"Let's just fucking go already." Dachend brushed his companions aside and entered. The muffled protest of Dracho'xian could be heard before the Wu completely disappeared.

Ryan looked at Eric, Eric looked through Ryan, Ryan shrugged. "Here goes nothing. Why I trust you guys --" He walked through the portal.

"Are we doing the right thing?" Eric asked aloud.

*I believe you are.* The small fox answered hesitantly.

Eric swallowed a deep breath and also entered the portal.

* * *

The companions found themselves standing on a large cliff that overlooked a city. The sky was darkening towards night, yet no stars appeared. The inky blue seemed to shift uniformly to darkness with no sign of sun or heavenly body. The trees that were on the cliff were sickly beings that huddled over as if trying to disappear from notice. The smell of rot and sewage wafted up from the city.

The city seemed to be laid out as if someone had dumped a bowl of spaghetti on a piece of a paper and said "build that." It was obvious it possessed no sewers or bylaws about garbage in the streets. The few animals the group could see were sickly looking beasts that seemed well past their prime ; having been much abused over the years. The people of the city seemed to be a mix of all the dark races, humans were the most common choice of slave.

The buildings of the city seemed to be made from a mix of jet black stone in the richer areas or a dark dull metal in the poorer.

Guards patrolled the city's walls that stretched around the city in a U shape. The back of the city ending on a cliff that had stone islands peeking up from the ravine. Strange creatures wandered the other side of the chasm.

"Now what?" Eric wondered.

"Well," Ryan answered, putting his sunglasses back on after a quick cleaning, "I say we shoot this outguards into tiny little pieces, sneak down to the back entrance, kick some serious butt, find Katt and get out of here. Or is that plan much too complex?"

Eric and Dachend turned around to see the outguards Ryan was referring to climbing up the hill leading to the cliff. A large group of nasty looking Orcs and Trolls lead by a one eyes Skaven. The rat leader was wielding a vicious looking scimitar and grinning.

Eric realized that he was no longer holding the fox, she had perched herself on his shoulder, but he couldn't feel her weight. *Do not worry about me, Sir, these that approach can not harm me. Do what you must.* Kiyo wasn't about to mention a mage could certainly mess up her day.

Ryan pulled out his pistols. "Let's rock'n'roll!"

Dachend produced Dracho'xian, "Yeah, something like that. Or, Let's teach these ladies how to dance."

Eric frowned "You're both starting to sound like Emiko"

Ryan looked at Dachend, Dachend looked at Ryan, "He's a real party pooper, isn't he?" Dachend observed, before Ryan could respond the battle was on.

* * *

" annoying" Eric sighed, unsheathing the Masamune to it's full extension. As if a natural instinct, he put his right shoulder forward to keep the fox furthest from harms way. *Gomen, this is going to get messy*

*That's okay, I can handle it.* Kiyo replied, though she was clearly gripping firmly onto Eric's coat. She'd seen it enough from a distance, how much worse can it be close up?

One of the trolls, probably the ambitious one of the group, began to charge. "This one has a death wish" Dachend grinned, Dracho'xian slipping smoothly into his hand.

"No magic, dude?" Ryan smiled.

"Unnecessary. HYEAAA!!!" The troll grunted as the club fell crashing to where Dachend was, before a stream of red crimson sprayed forth, sending half it's body tossing onto the dry rock. The Wu kicked the lower torso over to emphasize his point. "Let's see you heal from that one, fucker." *Good one* *I know*

*How barbaric!* Kiyo thought.

*Gomen, but they are trolls,* Eric thought back. *This is the only way to do it.*

*Maybe I should--*

*Don't worry, I will protect you*

The trolls were undaunted by their diced comrade, and charged with greater rage. It was all a blur to his eyes, so he closed them. The waves of energy moved. The fear intensity of the fox bolted up. A wave was crashing down.

Quickly, Eric struck. Twice.

A wet moisture sprayed his face.

The fox aura moved behind him for cover.

Energy bolted into his left hand.

Lashing out, his hand landed on the intersection of both strikes and discharged.

Quickly, Eric bolted back as the compressed ball of solar energy burst into the troll and quartered it. Grabbing the fox, he shielded her under his coat from the explosion of flesh that ensued.

"This is taking too long!" Dachend cursed, ramming Dracho into the mouth of another troll and carving downwards.

"What are you talking about, we just started!" Eric commented. As the Masamune made easy work of two Orcs, he quickly changed his stance to meet the next oncoming wave. But then an distinct familiar noise changed the stance into a roll under the Orc and upwards to attack the next one with a swift stroke.

When the sound stopped, an Orc exploded. "Damn, and I was saving these" Ryan sighed as he loaded another explosive bullet into his gun.

"Hey, watch where you aim that thing, that could have been me!" Eric cursed. _Definately_ had to talk to Ryan about his techniques.

"Hey, you were in the way" Ryan grinned, peeling another shot at a charging Orc. The detonation spread to Dachend, who quickly morphed Dracho into a the double bladed samurai sword, then spinning it so fast that it created an airshield to hit the guts towards some of it's own species. "You'll all be like that soon. NEXT!" he grinned. He seems to be enjoying this free-for-all a little too much, mused Eric.

The Kitsune stole away into the inside of Eric's inner coat pocket. *Just wait it out Kiyo, wait it out* she laughed nervously. Suddenly everything changed.

Eric's mind grew numb. *Kiyo?! You mean...!*

*EEK!!* Kiyo felt her temperature soar to new height as she realized she just gave herself away.

*Aw damn--*

The Skaven, who had been observing from the distance all this time, saw the imbalance of the fast one, and struck out. It's rodent speed was upon Eric like a tornado.


"Shit!" Ryan was about to peel of a shot, but his mind stopped him. *The leader usually has the information. Hopefully Eric can get out of this.*

Dachend was too preoccupied with his crusade to notice, leaving a large pile of troll and Orc body parts in his wake. "Who's next!?!" he bellowed to the oncoming fray.

Said fray, most consistent of Orcs took up the challenge and stormed the immortal, Dachend grinned viciously and sliced the head of the first, the grabbed a second's sword arm by the wrist and chopped it off, knocking down a third with the armstump. Then the wave of green was over him and the fighting got close, personal and very ugly, and Dachend was in his element. Extending his wrist blades slashing left and right, Dachend moved through the mob of Orcs like a lawnmower, a halo of green blood around in, mixed with a few cut of limbs and lost weapons. Ss the last of the Orcs fell to the tumbled to the ground gurgling in his own blood. Dachend quickly looked around, with a almost joyful expression on his normally stern face. Then he raised his blood covered arms into the air and cheered "Yaaa! Gimme another one" he was promptly knocked over by a full body blow from a troll.

Something collided with the elf and sent him reeling to the ground. The aura moved again at lighting speed, and soon it's legs were standing over his body, a grin spread across it's face, scimitar posed for the kill. Lightning shot down from the heavens for added effect. *Damn, lost my concentration* This was not a very good positions to be in. Just then another aura bolted, but this one was more familiar.

Kiyo shot out from his coat and latched onto the Skaven's hairy nose, biting down with all the strength her fangs would allow. It let out a ghastly squeal like the sound of nails on chalkboard, distracted enough to give Eric the opportunity.

"You deserve only the best!" Eric grinned. Rotating the sword to it's flat, he struck upwards with full momentum, producing an empty blunt noise when it landed between the Skaven's legs.

A dead silence descended over the land.

Dachend and the last troll both stopped in mid strike. Ryan shifted his glasses and looked away. Eric, even though he knew what he did, grimaced at the sight. "Ooooooooooooooooohh!" The scimitar dropped harmlessly from it's hands and clamored on the ground, as the Skaven keeled over, grabbing it's crotch. "That's gotta hurt." Ryan said. All shocked eyes turned and look at him. "Well, _somebody_ had to say it!" he interjected. The Skaven was making silent cooing noises.

"I don't see what all the fuss is about.." Kiyo piped.

The last troll ran away, in fear of that moment. The battle was over, all three heroes covered with blood. Acid rain began to fall.

* * *

Dachend walked up the ratman that was still lying in a curled up of agony and misery, Ryan following him. grabbing the Skaven by the throat and lifting him to eye level, Dachend smiled evil "Hello there"

Eric looked slightly unsure at the demon hunter. "Dachend what do you intend to do?"

Dachend glared sideways with a sly smile "Oh just going to ask him a few easy questions.."

Ryan seeing the evil glint in Dachend's eyes added "painfully easy" with irony.

"well first we have to make sure he doesn't try to slip up on us.." Before Eric could protest, Dachend had placed a foot on the Skaven's kneecap and broken it with a dry crunch, the ratman squealed.

Eric looked with a slight nausea as Dachend began to work on the Skaven with a calm expression and almost gruesome cynicism "Okay it is very simple asshole, I ask a question, you answer. if I for some reason don't like the answer I will break off the bones in you body, got that?"

The Skaven blinked his red eyes and hissed "May you rot in the mist!"

"Wrong answer" *crack* Dachend let go of he Skaven's mangled wrist, popping his knuckles "this might take a while..." then said to Eric and Kiyo " might wanna get comfy"

Eric looked a moment at the writhing Skaven and then at Kiyo, the little fox spirit looked rather queasy. Eric never being the person to take pleasure in other creatures suffering, no matter what the race, shook his head lightly and said "I'll take the look out so another group won't sneak up on us" Ryan nodded grimly, Dachend just waved a bloody hand over his shoulder.

Eric looked out over the city below them again, then looked at the little fox spirit "are you all right?" he asked, genuine concern in his voice.

The little fox shivered slightly then said "How can he be so cruel?" she murmured.

Eric sighed. He had sometimes asked himself the same question. Some of Dachend savage brutality he suspected was from his worry about Katt, but he had seen Dachend fight before and knew that immortal kenshi loved the heat of battle. He moistened his lips and looked at Kiyo again "I guess--" Eric halted his words as he sensed an energy field approach, he looked over his shoulder and saw Ryan come up over the small hill.

"Well?" the Elf inquired.

Ryan took his glasses of and polished them "Well, he didn't know that much, but what he knew, he told us"

"That was?"

"Only that Katt is in the big tower there, in the richest part town, which almost was obvious from the beginning, plus the only ones that really get left alone in the city and can go around undisturbed are the servants of Shadowbringer. Which means that we have to find some of those black cloaks they wear" Eric nodded in agreement.

Just then Dachend came over the edge of the hill, wiping his right gantlet's wrist blades clean, he was arguing with Dracho'xian "That wasn't necessary" the sword scowled.

"yeah right, I should have left him to die here right"

"He couldn't have told anyone about us"

"That's not for sure, oh well fuck that. he's dead and no longer a problem" Dachend retracted his wrist blade and walked past Eric, brushing his hands against each other, seeming as calm and collected as ever.

Kiyo looked up at Eric "I know that my sisters protector is brave, but how can he take all this so calmly? Doesn't he realize the danger we are facing, every second we are out in the open?"

Eric shrugged "Dachend is one of the kind of people that takes things in the order they come"

Dachend turned "Hey, are you coming or what?"

Ryan reholstered a .45 and walked after the immortal together with Eric, Kiyo still resting in one of his pockets, the elf added "If it wasn't because Katt was in danger, I could suspect that he would enjoy it".

* * *

Very carefully Eric looked over the edge of the big rock they five of them were hiding behind, there were four dark elves, all in dark cloaks. they were standing around a rune stone of some sort, discussing whether to use human or light elven sacrifices for their next ritual. Eric ducked down behind the rock and mused. "They are too close to the guard tower over there, it's a miracle that we haven't been spotted yet. But if we don't take them down quiet, we will be spotted for sure."

Dachend smiled his sly smile "What would we do, if we didn't have you to tell us these things?"

Ryan grinned, then added to the other's whispers "Well I can pick off two of them, maybe three, but the fourth will have time to call an alarm"

Eric mused "We need a diversion."

Dracho'xian nodded "Yeah, but how do we distract them without waking their suspicion?"

There was a moments silence, then Dachend grinned "I got it" before anybody could do anything, he had grabbed Kiyo by the neck and hauled her along as he walked out into the open.

Eric's eyes bolted open "what are you doing?!!" he hissed through clenched teeth.

Dachend just ignored him and called for the dark elves "Hey guys!!" The elves look over at him and started up to sound the alarm, Dachend just smiled and waved his arm "Sirs! couldn't help to over hear you and I might be able to help you" he stepped a couple of steps closer. Waving Kiyo in the air "You see I found this fox here and I want to skin her, but I'm horrible at skinning things and hoped you kind sirs would help me. I have a young elven virgin over here you could use for your sacrifice, I would gladly exchange her for your trouble" Dachend smiled innocently. while Eric was contemplating whether to storm over the rock and attack Dachend or the dark elves.

The Dark Elves themselves were talking to each other quietly and casting evil glares at Dachend, then the first of them said with a evil grin "Very well slave, let us see the slave and we will consider it." as he walked towards Dachend with the three others.

Dachend smiled like dolt and waited until they were about a meter away and then turned and walked back to the rock "Right this way, masters." Then he disappeared behind the rock and the Dark elves followed shortly. There was a muffled "hey--" followed by a couple of loud smacks and thuds.

Dachend lifted up one of the cloaks "Damn this things stinks!"

"Oh, getting touchy are we" taunted Dracho'xian.

"Shut the hell up you dull bread knife!"

Eric grinned slightly as he pulled on his cloak, then said to Dachend "I got to admit that was good plan.. heh elven virgin. Couldn't have made that up!"

Dachend made his sly grin "Well I didn't make it up, I just didn't tell that the virgin was male."

Eric blinked "HEY!"

* * *

Katt bounced another pebble off the boulder she sat on and watched it fall into the gorge. It had been interesting two days ago, but the rest was just boring. She looked up at the sharp, steep cliff walls that rose twenty feet above her head. She looked at the other rocks that stuck up off the floor of the gorge, the nearest being about a fifteen foot jump away. She peered down to the floor of the gorge .. she couldn't even see it, she had yet to hear one of her pebbles hit bottom.

The red headed elf sighed and picked at the frayed ends of her cut-offs, she was thoroughly bored. It wasn't so bad that they were turning her slowly into an evil bitch who would help the bad guys take over Underhill (not that she felt any different yet), it wasn't so bad that none of her friends knew where she was, it wasn't so bad that she'd probably never see Dachend or Dracho again, it was that there was absolutely *NOTHING* to do. Maybe they wanted to make her evil through boredom.

It was about time for the guard to walk past. She summoned her sword, he dismissed it from her hands without more than a glance over the side of the cliff. She sighed. It wasn't much of a routine but it was one. Something caught her eye.

A flash of blue? Up in the hills? What the hell could that be? She could have sworn that -- no, there was no point, even if for some suicidal reason a certain blue haired elf (and she was pretty sure the boredom and dispair was causing her to jump to ridiculous conclusions) *was* up in the hills, she wouldn't be able to communicate with him through a nature link until he was in the city .. There was just too many wards and protections between here and there.

Katt sighed. At least a rescue attempt would make thinks interesting. She lay back on the stone and stared up at the ugly sky. Maybe Dachend would come .. now she was just being silly again, of course he wouldn't, he was terribly busy at this time of year beating the crap out of recruits.. Or at least, that's what Emiko had said.

Katt wondered what Emiko was up to. She also wondered why the supposedly not-High Elf Lord would come *here*. Katt sighed again. She still wasn't quite convinced that Eric *wasn't* mentally unbalanced, a pervert and a noble. Perhaps she should have just said "noble" .. the rest was rather redundant.

She really wished she had a game boy.

* * *

Eric looked out on the street, the sight sickened him, the pitiful state of these poor quarters of the town, the garbage in the street, the slaves being driven around like cattle, it had taken combined effort of Dachend and Ryan to keep Eric from interfering when they had overheard, some master beat apparently the very life out of one his slaves, the sound had carried through a closed window. the screams had turned to moans and then they had stopped too, it had arched in his heart like a knife of real steel.

Eric cleared his mind of the memory, he couldn't help those poor souls, not yet.

He gazed sideways on Kiyo, who had retaken her physical human shape after she had borrowed some of Eric's energy. Eric had silently wanted her to stay a fox so she would be relatively safe in his coat. But Dachend's sly remark about that fact that he was walking around with a real foxy lady on the inside of his cloth had made the Kitsune and the elf silently agree for Kiyo to transform to a human.

Eric sighed soundless as he saw the mask of grief on Kiyo's face. Another reason he had wanted her to stay hidden, he had anticipated that she would act like this. Being a healer and seeing all this suffering and hurt and not being able to anything about any of it, it had too be like torture, tearing into her soul.

Eric reached out from under his cloak and placed his hand onto hers, he could fell how she shivered slightly. not only at his touch, but also at the horror around her. "Be patient Kiyo, we can't help these people. But you have my word that after we have saved your sister, I will make sure that this inhumanity is stopped"

Dachend made some low comment, the only part that caught Eric's sharp ears was "...bullshit...."

Kiyo gave a weak smile, then lowered her head under the black hood.

Eric cast a gaze over at Ryan who was scanning around the corner of a small house. Though the big cyborg had tried to keep a straight face, this cruelty to children and adult alike was grinding into him too.

Eric could hear Dracho'xian silently argue with Dachend, about after this was over with, they should make a rescue mission for all the people here, then eradicate the whole place.

Even Dachend had a little trouble with completely ignoring the frequent screams of slaves being punished or sacrificed, through Eric suspected that more from irritation than compassion.

Ryan then waved his hand "Okay the guards have moved by, let's go" quickly the little group walked down the street, approaching the great tower like building, that was standing on the edge of the chasm.

* * *

Dachend moved up beside Ryan, looking around, he then said in a low voice "Hey Ryan, I say that we got trouble"

Ryan quickly looked around "What'da'ya mean trouble?"

Dachend lifted the dark cloak he had acquired from the Dark Elves, so Ryan could see he had five wards in his hand "I think our covers blown."

Ryan hand moved into his cloak, to the onlooker it could look like the cloak by coincidence moved over his hand, but Dachend recognised the sound of a handgun being cocked. Acting casually Ryan continued as if nothing had happened "How come?"

Dachend turned his head slightly, Ryan could just see the outline of his face in the dark. his black eyes two pits of black in the shadow. "Hunch."

Ryan mused "Define 'hunch' for me, will ya?"

Dachend stepped over a bleeding body, looking back shortly to see Eric place a hand on Kiyo's shoulder as she made move to bend down and help the mangled elf.

He then continued "It's too easy, we have seen a good couple of guards, but none has asked us shit and diddily. Coincidence, not fucking likely"

Ryan looked around carefully "I think you're right" he said grimly.

A group of about 10 Dark Elves in armour grew out of the shadows and walked forward, almost all of them having bolt throwers, that were armed and trained at the small group. Dachend heard Eric hiss "Behind us.."

Dachend groaned and Ryan said "we know" quit a crowd of a Skaven had gathered in the road behind them. Roughly about 20, wielding grim, jagged curved swords and short pikes.

Ryan cursed "And it's sucks beyond words too" added Dachend in a mutter.

One of the Dark Elves stepped forward, this one wielding a sword. "Identify yourself" he commanded, the elves with bolt throwers took aim.

Ryan mused "Hmmm"

Dachend looked back and forth, then said with a his sly smile "Okay, I'm open to suggestions"

* * *

Kiyo stood beside the handsome Elf, wondering if the emotions that tugged at her heart ran through his. She snuck another peak at him to find that his face was a mask that was unreadable. She felt so sorry for the people here, but she knew the only way they could rescue them would be to rescue her sister. Once they had Katt, they could clean this foul den.

She peaked around at the warriors of darkness that now surrounded them. She heard the men converse about how they didn't have time for this. "Eric-san?" Kiyo spoke softly, her voice barely reaching the elf's ear's, "I may have an idea -- but, I -" she stopped, how could she ask for this again? It was necessary, the men couldn't stop and fight, they had to find Katt. "I, would have to borrow more magics.."

Eric smiled softly even though the situation was grim, he couldn't say he had minded the experience of the young Kitsune borrowing his energies. "They are yours to use, Lady Kiyo."

Kiyo took Eric's hand while Dachend and Ryan rolled eyes at each other, closing her own. "Hurry up, already." Dachend groused as the Skaven started to approach the group. Eric could feel Kiyo's gentle and shy spiritual touch as she once again accessed his magics. They both tried not to blush furiously. The fact that Dachend was refraining from repeating all his earlier comments at least making it much easier.

Kiyo let go of Eric's hand with a slight twinge of disappointment -- It was just too bad it was only for business! The Kitsune chided herself for thinking of such things during such a dire situation! Here her sister lay in the darkest of troubles and she was trying to romance a handsome, charming Elf. She walked up to Dachend. "Please make sure you all take the window of opportunity."

"No, I figured we'd just stand here and waste time." Ryan muttered before Dachend could. Ryan was becoming quite the cynic, next he would be complaining about grocery stores and their politics.

Kiyo strolled up the lead Skaven, removed her black, borrowed cloak and smiled softly. "Hello, Sir Skaven. I was just wished to inform you that he who catches me may," she gulped slightly, "have me."

Eric gulped, eyes widening, what was she *doing*?!?!

Ryan cocked his head to one side.. *interesting..* ..

Dachend sighed and wished she'd just hurry up with whatever she was trying.

The Skaven chuckled gleefully, the one infront of Kiyo started to reach for her, but the Kitsune was faster, she changed into her fox form and dashed between the Skaven's legs and off down a street, the opposite direction of where Dachend had been heading. The Skaven decided that chasing a nubile young maiden took precedent over intruders any day.. After all, the intruders had to come *back* out didn't they? The Skaven made note to sound the alarm after they caught the fox-woman.

Eric put his hand on his sword and took a step after where Kiyo had gone but before either Dachend or Ryan needed to stop him, he turned and started running the other direction. Dachend grinned, for once the wuss had done the smart thing. The Wu did hope that the Kitsune would be all right. Ryan wondered why he kept on meeting annoying foxes who could shape-change.

The three men ran down the dark alley, losing the Dark Elves had been fairly easy, they apparently had the tracking ability of a half blind, mostly dead, poodle. It had all been a matter of dashing down a couple streets, up and over a lopsided building which seemed to be built for climbing and then down another couple of streets.

Dachend looked up at the towering buildings, not far to the dungeons, not far to find Katt, not far to find her and wreck some havoc on the bastards who took her. Not much time, either, something inside him was whispering to hurry, hurry, there wasn't much time left.

A foul smelling breeze wandered down the alley, curling around the men and scattering dirt, it seemed to curl around Eric for a few moments.

A voice filled Eric's mind, one he was most glad to hear, *ERIC-SAN!!* Katt's voice called, even though it was faint to the ear in volume, her voice still seemed strong.

*Katt?* Eric thought back. "Wait." He said outloud as the wind danced around him.

Ryan muttered dark comments about pointy sticks and choice bits of the anatomy while Dachend champed on the bit, bitching that they just couldn't stop in every alleyway for Eric to find his balls.

*Is -- Is Dachend with you?* Katt asked, stumbling over the words.

Eric smiled, how had this unlikely pair ever found each other? *Of course. He is your protector isn't he?* The 'elven-lord' couldn't help but to tease, despite the desperate situation.

*Let's just not go there! Tell him to quit being so foul tempered and to lighten up or I'll kick his butt.*

Eric coughed mentally, *I do believe I'll refrain from passing on that message. Hold on Lady Katt, we're almost to the tower, we will have you free in no time.*

Eric could feel the mechanic's confusion. "C'mon, lets get going here, pointy!" Dachend bitched, looking around at the end of the alley. Ryan sighed. Why couldn't *anyone* just get along?

*Eric, I'm not in the tower -- I was at first, but I'm not any more, I'm in the chasm behind the main palace. There's about fifty ways to get in, most of them to do with gravity, but the main way is through the palace..*

Katt's voice was beginning to weaken. *Tell Dach, damn, this important, tell him it was Yeralanor that did this.* Her voice was almost gone *and tell him that these Dark Elves don't believe in veils and that I'm terribly sorry belshansta.* The wind, like Katt's voice faded out and disappeared.

Belshansta? Beloved? Why did *he* get stuck delivering such a message to the prickly warrior?

* * *

Eric looked at Dachend as he held a break after telling the part about Yeralanor's involvement.

The immortal smiled viciously "Why am I not surprised, oh well who gives a fuck, our prime concern is Katt, if I manage to kill the bastard it'll just be a bonus..." muttering to himself he added "Although, I would mind finding out why the fuck he's sided with the dark elves"

Eric cleared his throat, slightly uncomfortable with the next part "Well Dachend, she also said that 'These dark elves doesn't believe in veils and I should tell you that..." Dachend motioned, impatient for Eric to go on "...that she was sorry belshasta'"

Dachend cocked a eyebrow, trying to ignore the sudden surge of unease he felt creep over him "Sorry? Belshasta...? Belshasta... now what the hell is that means...." Dachend stood a moment, trying to ignore his six sense that screamed for him to go for the chasm as fast as he could. Instead trying to remember what the heck the elven word meant and forget that horribly feeling of dejavu.

Eric stood a moment "I have this feeling that she's in trouble"

Dachend slapped himself on the forehead, snarling "Gee, you think smart guy?" nodding towards the palace. Then mumbled "Trouble yeah right, the thought struck me too's....belsha......" Dachend's eyes opened wide a second, Eric had the impression that they got even blacker if that was possible. Then they drew together to small slits of darkness.

Eric could almost sense how the man infront of him sought through his feelings, fighting them down, then lifted his eyes towards the palace and beyond to the chasm. Dachend lifted his hands and balled them into fists, small crackles of white-blue energy ran over his hands and lower arms. For a second Ryan and Eric thought they saw the impression of a spectral dragon's head glow for a heartbeat overlapping with Dachend.

But Dachend himself was far away, only Eric with his sharp ears heard him hiss "never again" then he said more forcefully "I'll be a damned fuck, if I let her down"

Dachend strode forward and pulled his cloak off and began to head down the street. Eric looked at the demon hunter that with an ice cold air of confidence walked down the road, standing clearly out amoung the inhabitants.

"Erh your cloak Dachend?"

"Doesn't matter, Katt said that they'd see through our disguise, they probably knew we were here from the word go."

Ryan nodded and stepped up beside Dachend "Okay, what's the plan?" taking his cloak off.

"I'm going to get Katt and it can only go too slow, I don't know about you two"

Ryan looked casually at the palace "I see no reason to get off the rollarcoster"

Eric added "I wouldn't want to miss all the fun" After a few minutes walk Eric mused "This means we have to find a way through to the chasm.."

"Yup." answered Dachend.

Ryan added "Which means that we probably have to go through the entire palace guard"


Ryan checked his ammunition "Us three against the ENTIRE army of Dark Elves" he said

"Yup." was Dachend's ice cool reply.

Eric placed a hand on his Masamune "Poor Dark Elves."

A shadow of smile flasher over Dachend's face "Fucking hey."

* * *

Katt sat alone on the island of rock, hugging her knees and rocking gently back and forth. She could now feel the dark pervasion entering her mind, its coils wrapping around her inner thoughts, changing her, adjusting her to how it wanted her to be. She tried to fight it, tried to stop it, but it was like trying to stop water with chopsticks.

When she had spoken with Eric she had felt hope, when he had told her Dachend was there, that hope had beaten like a butterfly against her chest. But the hours had passed and nothing seemed to change except for she was losing more and more of herself as time went on.

She had given serious thought to falling to her own sword, but there was a mage watching her 24 - 7 now. She couldn't keep it summoned for long enough. She had tried to fall off the stone island, but some sort of shielding prevented her from moving outside of its boundaries. All she could do was sit here, sit here and feel the darkness take over. She hadn't felt so helpless in a very long time.

The young Elf looked up at the sky, the ugly greyness of the sky of the Dark Elf realm. She wondered if she would ever see Dachend again -- or if she did would she be able to speak her own emotions to him? Or would the emotions coming from her mouth be those of Yeralanor? Those planted in her mind by the foul magics? Would Yeralanor send her against those she cared for? Would he make them kill her when all her usefulness for him ended? Most likely.

Katt rocked back and forth endlessly. She had sat here for almost a week now, eating the food that was lowered down, shuddering over the primitive bathroom facilities, and wishing she could find a way to escape. She never managed to find the way to escape, this prison seemed to have been crafted with her in mind. It was too bad she wasn't a mage, that she had no gifts of the magi, or she would just have levitated out of the god-forsaken pit and gone home. It was too bad she didn't have her tool kit, or she could have done 2,000 things to get out of the situation. It was too bad that she would never once be able to curl up in the arms of the one she loved in front of a fire place. It was just too bad.

Where were they? Would they be too late? Would they find her an evil slave to her ex-swordsmaster? She hoped that she would be dead before Dachend had to see her in any such condition.

Katt rocked back and forth.

* * *

The three men had found themselves in a crowd of Skaven, Goblins, Orcs and Trolls. The sound of death, mayhem and destruction came from all around them in the form of guns blaring, screams of the fallen and swords cutting through bone. Every so often the sky lit up in displays of magic. Eric had found the Ogre-Mages to be a bit of a challenge until Ryan had decided the entire mage-battle was a silly concept and filled the bad guys' brains full of lead. For some reason the cyborg was singing "She's a Lady" by Tom Jones as he blasted brains out from all around him.

Dachend could only be seen by the trail of carnage he was leaving behind him, the gun toting freelance cop and the dimensional law officer had lost sight of the immortal mere moments before, but the shaking of the front gates gave away his position. "Hey Eric -" Ryan called as he pistol whipped a Goblin. The small green humanoid went down with a crunch and splat.

Eric very calmly ducked under a sword swing from a Skaven then returned the strike to cut off the rat-man's tail. The filthy rodent squealed in anger and pain to attempt a double-handed chop to half the elf. Eric calmly stepped aside so the enemy's blade came down through the skull of an Orc. The Elf then brought his own beloved blade full circle to decapitate the Skaven. "Yes?" Eric called back calmly to the blonde cop.

"I do think I'm starting to run out of ammo." A burst of gunfire. "At this rate, I'm going to be out in about.." Click, Click, went the empty chambers, "now." he amended, pistol whipping another goblin. An Orc jumped on his back doing its best to chock him. Ryan very calmly reached back, picking the Orc up by the back of the neck and bringing him around. Ryan tossed the Orc in the air a little to switch his grip. Holding the squealing, snorting humanoid that smelt of scared pig by the throat Ryan slowly squeezed. As the beastly humanoid's eyes bugged out, it wasn't long before the throat was crushed. Ryan tossed the unresisting barbarian through the hoard, knocking some of the smaller goblins flying.

Eric continued the dance of blades with the Skaven who were starting to debate whether numbers really could take out the two warriors. But the numbers were taking their toll on the two, both had small nicks and cuts all over them and they weren't gaining the kind of ground Dachend had in his bezerking run. The gates suddenly came crashing down. The Skaven and Goblins looked at each other and started to flee, the Orcs still very much under the control of the Ogres stayed put.

A figure seemed to materialise in the middle of the battle, a beautiful woman who was translucent. She wore thin white veils and robes that were often used as part of one's death shroud. "I curse all who are responsible for my unhonourable death! All who stand - " She got no further as the creatures, beasts and their masters fled. Two warriors who killed two hundred with little thought were one thing, one of those warriors endlessly spitting out fire lightning was another, but a ghost standing in the middle of their battle that they were already losing was too much for the cowardly races.

Ryan stuck his guns in their holsters. Eric cleaned off his sword. Kiyo winked. "Uh, where'd you get the digs?" Ryan asked, stepping over a trampled pig.

Suddenly Kiyo was back in her kimono, then in jeans and a t-shirt. "It's all part of the form, Ryan-San. We Kitsune do not participate in battle often straight forwardly, we are beings of tricks, of being sneaky. I hope that you do not disapprove."

Ryan shrugged, "Yeah, well, hopefully we can catch up with Dachend and see if he left us any."

Kiyo turned to watch the handsome Elf approach her, her heart in her throat she managed to walk beside him as the cyborg cop walked ahead to see if there was a way to get in without having to move the now mangled gate.

"Are you mad at my deception Eric-San? I meant nothing by it -- it was just --" she tried to look at him, but failed, "I was so tired, I could not hold my form - I am truly sorry --" She'd had no chance before to apologise to the mysterious mage she found so fascinating, while Ryan wrestled with the gates, she hoped that she could straighten out this mess.

Eric stared down at his sword, watching the evil blood slide off the blade like oil on water, not knowing what to say right now. He knew she was in the same predicament he was.. unable to look at his face, unknowing what words to say.

What did he feel about her? His heart beat faster as he looked at her nervous hand, and up her bare arm.

Kiyo began fidgeting with her hands, aware that his steel blue eyes looked upon them. He was probably too angry to say anything. The mage nodded his head, letting his conscious have it's way with him. Shrugging his shoulders, he let his blue coat fall to his hands, as he gingerly shed off the garment. Eyes still unwavering from the floor, in a giant swoop the coat's padded shoulders rested on Kiyo's bare skin. Kiyo would have stepped back, shocked, had it not been for the elf's strong arms that grabbed onto the lapels.

He looked at her with a thin gentle smile. Kiyo looked at the bridge of his nose, trying to simulate eye contact. "Here," he said gently, "You look cold." Shifting his right arm so that it rested on her shoulder blade, he prompted her forward. "Come on, we'd better get going. The coat has enough of my static energy to keep you running for longer, ne?" With that, Eric head towards Ryan's direction, now clad completely in black, Masamune sheathed on his side.

Kiyo stood a moment, wondering what to make of the elf-mages non-response to her apology...the blue glow of the coat must have been not only from the fabric, but from the man who wore it, as it seemed to pulse around her body. Confused, embarrassed, and worried all at once, Kiyo followed Eric to the gate.

Ryan studied the gates for a moment ; they were monstrous affairs of metal bars and oak doors that were close to two stories tall. When Dachend had broken through he had send them crashing down in front of entry way in a strange mess. Ryan just shrugged and picked up an edge. "Mind.. over.. matter.." he muttered to himself, "I don't mind .. giving Katt.. the bills for repairs .. so damage doesn't .. matter." he grunted as the gates slowly moved away from the hole. All sorts of beings were running around the courtyard at the direction of several Dark Elves. Ryan eventually got the gates far enough away for the arch for the companions to squeeze through. Three Dark Elves waited with fireballs on the other side. Dead bodies littered the nearby area. Some Kobolds and Gnolls jumped up and down in glee at the upcoming fight.

* * *

Dachend cut through the bodies without form or thought to what it was he was fighting. All he knew was these assholes were standing between him and Katt, preventing him for saving her. He knew now time was running out, it was no longer a matter a time of strolling in and saving her, it was a matter of getting in as fast as fucking possible and hauling her butt out of the fire. He had to snort when the stray thought of "This is three times, Katt" rolled through his mind. Money wouldn't pay for it, it never had - it had been friendship the first time, the possibility of something more the second, but what would pay for the third? The would-be-knight ran an Ogre-Mage through before it had a chance to get the first syllable of a spell out.

The gates proved to be a slight problem for all of a few seconds, nothing a little lightning couldn't take care off. The beings within hadn't even bothered to put together any sort of defence, they hadn't thought three humans (well, an Elf, a Cyborg and an immortal - but what did the bad guys ever know?) could possibly get this far. Only now were some Kobolds hauling the cauldrons of boiling oil up towards the stairs leading over the gates. Dachend grinned and relieved the creatures of their heads. Running through the courtyard a couple of Dark Elves got in his way and left to greet their demons in their afterlife.

It didn't take him long to break through the castle to look down at the chasm behind ; he felt almost guilty about the bees nest he'd riled up for Eric and Ryan to deal with.. almost. He looked down into the canyon, he couldn't even see the bottom and the other side was almost of the horizon. Stone islands rose up out of the depths, he could see that Katt wasn't the only prisoner out there, in fact she wasn't even the only one standing on her island.

A human soldier ran up to Dachend to deal with him, but Dachend just shoved him off the chasm. He never did hear the splat that said the unfortunate fool had hit bottom. He stalked slowly up the canyon so he was even with Katt's prison. There stood Yeralanor with the person that was once his student.

"Hello," Yeralanor called pleasantly.

"Let her go, asswhipe." Dachend replied calmly, his grip tightening on Dracho'xian.

"Ow." Dracho complained softly, "Not so hard."

Dachend ignored his sword companion.

"Send her over, you ask? Well, gladly." Yeralanor smiled sweetly and chanted a few words, Dachend recognised the teleportation spell. Katt dematerialised in a shift of red mist and reappeared in front of the Wu.

Katt was wearing her armour, although now it was black with spikes and blades off it, more covering and a lot more sinister. Her sword remained unchanged in her hand, but she held it in an offensive position. Her eyes held little welcome for her would-be lover. "Hello Dachend, did anyone bother to tell you that you are not immortal here?"

"What?" Dachend asked, backing up a step, trying to decide exactly what had been done to the woman he cared about.

"That the powers of your creator? Soul-stealer? I know not the word, has no effect Underhill, you are as mortal as the rest of us, here, you can die. Prepare for death, Dachend." Katt smiled a dark smile that did not reach her eyes that looked over the warrior with a sick calculation. She then launched against her former teacher with more purpose than he'd ever seen.

* * *

Dachend ducked to the left as Katt lunged at him *mortal?* It flashed in his mind, it could be a bluff, but his instincts told him that there was something wrong with his curse. The nicks and scratches he had received were minor, not worth worrying about. But he had a nasty cut on the thigh that a lucky Skaven got in as he was caught under the body of a dying troll.. It hadn't started healing yet, that was strange. He dodged under another sweep from Katt, Dachend forced his mind to focus on the matter at hand, how to deal with Katt.

"Katt snap out of it!!" he yelled

"This is my true being..." hissed Katt and jabbed at him "... now die you filthy human!!!"

Dachend parried the blow and backhanded Katt, throwing her off balance. Not nearly as hard as he could have hit her, but enough to startle her. Dachend knew that Katt was hardly a match for him, he could kill her anytime, he could see that Yeralanor knew that too and was looking on, interested to see if Dachend would indeed kill Katt.

Katt hissed like her namesake and dashed towards the man she once held so dear. Dachend grabbed her swords arm around the wrist and then her free arm around the other wrist. He held her fast "Goddamn it Katt, get a hold of yourself, you're under your old teachers spell!" Not being skilled enough to even begin unravel the spell Dachend tried to break it through other means.

"Let go of me!" squealed the infuriated Katt, trying to break Dachend's grip.

"Come one search into your soul girl, for fucks sake, can't you sense that you are not yourself" snarled Dachend

"I don't care!!!" shrieked Katt "I just know I want to kill you!" with that she sank her teeth into Dachend's arm. Dachend groaned, but didn't let go. Katt then kicked him in the groin, hard.

With a hoarse gasp Dachend let go and fought to remain standing, Katt jumped back and lifted the sword "Farewell Dachend" the blade whooshed down at Dachend's head, aiming at his exposed neck.

*SHINNG* Katt blinked at the sword that just seemed to have teleported into existence over Dachend's head. Dachend lifted his eyes and they meet Katt's "Okay..." he snarled "I'm through playing nice" with that he, with a combo of feints and jabs, drew Katt back, forced her sword to the side and the hit her squarely in the face, throwing her of her feet.

Dachend took a deep breath, swallowing to make the bad taste in his mouth disappear, damnit that girl could kick. Hadn't he been amazed by her dancer's legs at one point?

This was leading no where at this rate, he could have killed Katt in less than five minutes. He needed something to break through the dome that had been put on her true being, he knew the basics of this kind of enchantments. But having to talk sense into Katt and not getting himself or her killed at the same time was a little .... wait a sec, he remembered something that Kiyo had said about her Kitsune powers and how they were affected in the Dark Elves realm. Dachend flashed his sly smile, he had a plan.

* * *

Katt got up and looked at Dachend with murder in her eyes "You dare hit me, you disgusting human?!" she cried.

Dachend just whacked a finger at her in mock taunt "Katt you ungrateful girl, here Kiyo, Dances With Credit Cards and Dracho'xian were so worried about you, I was too. We came here to save your cute little butt and what's the thanks??" he made a hurt face.

Katt hesitated, less than a second, but she hesitated. "Ha, your just making it up, you don't care about me, nobody care's about me. I'm alone and the strong are strongest alone"

Dachend shook his head "That's not true Katt and you know it, deep inside of that ball of hurt, you real self has been force into, you know it"

Katt glared at him viciously "your lying, you soulless bastard" but there was a little uncertainty in her voice, Dachend held out his free hand, Dracho'xian held out to the side "for Christ sake Katt, I know what you going through. Having your mind torn down and rebuilt ain't fun. I've been there myself goddamn it!" he thumbed at his chest to empathise his words, then pointed at Katt "I know that the real Katt is standing, banging on the glass wall of her prison inside your head"

With satisfaction Dachend saw Katt's eyes flicker slightly "Come on fer'shit's sake. you can fight it. For Kiyo's, Dances' and my sake. We want our own little mech freak of a redheaded elf girl back"

"LIAR!!!!" screamed Katt and lashed violently out at Dachend.

Dachend skilfully caught the blade with his own and flung it out of Katt's grasp, then placed a foot on her chest and pushed her to the ground. "Are you finished?" he said sharply.

Katt looked at the ground, whispering "liar" then looked up "LIAR!!"

Dachend saw that in the bottom of her eyes, she didn't believe the words. *come on Katt, your almost there* he thought.

*keep talking man* encouraged Dracho'xian.

"Nobody care's about me" she hissed

"That's not true, what about Dances and your sister?"

"I _ HAVE _ NO _ SISTER _ !!" said Katt forcefully. her eyes telling another story. "None of you care about me, you just pitied me.. tried to make me believe you liked me. You all liked to see me suffer, it gave you something to feel good about. NO MORE!! I hate you all, hate you till I die!!"

Dachend smiled shortly and played his trump "Then what did you mean when you called me beloved?"

There went a little yank through Katt and Dachend could see the ice in her eyes crack just a little more. "You - you never really loved me, you just found me fun, hoping to use for a little one night entertainment, something to brag about to your filthy friends" Dachend was taken a little back by the redness of Katt's face and how her voice shook with anger, but her clear green eyes glittered with sad tears. "You just used me!! You don't care about ME!!!..." Katt flew to her feet, her sword appearing in her hand.

Dachend threw Dracho'xian to the ground. Oh well, if he was wrong it didn't matter anyway. "Is that so?" he said innocently, holding his arms to the side, smiling his sly smile.

Tears running from her eyes, Katt cried "YOU NEVER HAVE AND NEVER WILL LOVE ME!"

With a choking sob she thrust forward and there was dull thud as steel bit flesh and Katt felt the metal of her weapon move over bone and she felt how Dachend's warm blood spilled over her hands. He let out a strained groan, then lifted his face and just looked at her with those deep black eyes, that she loved so much... no she hated him, he was a soulless bastard. He had always been there for her... he would have used her, probably raped her, if she didn't kill him now. She hated him, no she loved, no she...

Dachend looked for a long moment into her eyes and then said, with a voice that was free of the burning pain in his stomach "If I didn't care about you, why would I allow you to do this..." he nodded towards the sword that was submerged into his gut up till the hand guard. " I could do this" with out further words he took Katt's face gently between his hands, at first she tried to move away, but something other than his hands held her back. he leaned forward and kissed her tenderly.

The touch of his lips, his hands, the feeling of his nearness, the taste of his blood on her lips. It all cut like a knife through the black velvet that had been woven around Kattarina's soul. As all strength left her body she collapsed.

With a shivering whimper, Katt laid her head against Dachend chest and sobbed loudly, Dachend laid a firm arm around her, waiting until she passed out from exhaustion, then gently put her down on the ground, taking time to brush a strand of red hair to the side from her face. With a smile he noted that the spiked, dark armour that covered her body, was beginning to crack and fall of like dried mud. her old, and more revealing armour visible underneath.

Then he turned and his black eyes locked together with Yeralanor's, not even flinching he pulled Katt's sword from his gut and threw it to the floor, then stepped forward, Dracho'xian coming to his outstretched hand "Now it gets really ugly shitface, because you have hurt a girl I like, quite a lot at that" Yeralanor gazed back with an and confident look.

* * *

"I must say that I have greatly underestimated you Dachend Yayin, I had not expected you be able to break the spell."

Dachend grinned "well it's basic magic 101 man, all magic, no matter how complex is a question of will power Yer"

Yeralanor nodded shortly. "I'm impressed, through I take delight in telling you that you are not going to be able take pleasure from your achievement for long"

"Make sense dickhead!" spat Dachend

Yeralanor sighed and answer like Dachend was stupid child "The wound in your stomach is quite fatale I can assure you, you should really have taken Katt's warning seriously"

Dachend grinned widely "Oh dear, I'm screwed, what ever will I do?" Dracho'xian chuckled.

Yeralanor looked slightly dumbfounded "What is so funny, does the knowledge of your own death humour you...?" Dachend made his sly smile, angering Yeralanor further "...very well, then this may humour you even more. when you are dead. I will, no matter how much it may disgust me, give Kattarina the same treatments a Dark Elf gave her mother before her"

"You'll have to go through me first shitface" snarled Dachend

"And me." added Dracho'xian, the sword's eye glowing red in anger.

Yeralanor moved up to Dachend on the ledge beside the chasm "How can it be that you are still alive, no mortal being could have survived a injury like that?"

Dachend smiled evilly. "No mortal being, no."

Yeralanor looked in astonishment "Impossible, the magic of this realm cancels out natural magics..."

"Or weakens them" snarled Dachend "Kitsune, lose most of their natural magic and become vulnerable. I, being cursed with one of the highest known forms of immortality, just get kicked a good way down the ladder"

Yeralanor growled "Which means that your still able to sustain wound no normal being can survive with and still go on"

Dachend nodded with a grin "Exactly."

Yeralanor summoned his sword and armour. "Very well then, if you have only lost some of your immortality, then losing your head should kill you."

Dachend beckoned him nearer "Come get some, ugly"

Yeralanor smiled "I have longed to test my prowess against you for a long time, human"

Dachend's face had gone cold "I've heard something about your prowess too, Yer"

Yeralanor smiled diplomatically "Is that so?"

Dachend went into a battle-stance "Doesn't mean shit any way, I'm gonna give you pay back for the way you treated Katt with interest for those years of hurt and loneliness. So I tell you this, I got something special in store for you, a taste of pain that sane people can't imagine"

Yeralanor's face remained cold for a moment, then dissolved into a twisted grin "And that's exactly what I'm looking for, DRAW!"

* * *

Katt moaned slightly and pushed herself to her knees, her head was swirling, she couldn't focus properly, where was she anyway? She looked around and saw the Dark Elf palace and the chasm, slowly it came back to her. The kidnapping, the spell, the last thing she could recall before the spell overtook her was Yeralanor appearing beside her. Then after that, there were just small stumps of memory, images, sounds. herself screaming in rage, fighting viciously. she had a mental picture of Dachend really close to her, she looked down and saw a sword penetrating his gut, her own hands grasping at the end of the sword. Katt gasped forcefully, oh god, what had she done. there were blood on her hands, her sword lay some two feet from her. She wasn't evil, at least she didn't think so. Would Dachend ever forgive her?

But what had happened? She looked around again, no sign of either Dachend, or Yeralanor. She could feel how her heart fluttered as she realised, Dachend had really come for her, all the way to this of all places to save her. With a mild strain she pushed herself to her feet, her strength was slowly returning and her queasiness was beginning to subdue.

She began to head for the palace, looking at the trail of blood on the ground. Not that she wanted to go in there, but she knew that Dachend had to be in there some where, and if Katt had to choose between waiting at the edge of the god forsaken chasm, with it bone chilling wind and moans from the prisoners against going into a Dark Elf palace to where Dachend were sure to knocking in heads she would surely choose the latter.

She placed her hands on a heavy wooden door, that appeared to have been cleaved in two. groaning slightly as she pushed it open she wonder how she would find Dachend in this huge place. When she got the door open and looked down the hallway, gasped slightly and looked away. She then took a deep breath and stepped into the twilight. She recalled something Dracho'xian once had told her "If your ever in a hostile place with Dachend and can't find him, just follow the corpses" and that indeed was an easy track to follow, it appeared as if a lawnmower or something had moved down through the hall. Over a dozen dead Skaven lay scattered across the floor, several Dark Elves amoung them, there were a lone Ogre amoung the dead ; his head had been nailed to the floor with his own broad sword.

Katt held her nose and hurried through the corridor and through another smashed up door.

After two rooms and four corridors, the heaps of dead got fewer and eventually stopped. Though there were still a few small bloods stains on the walls. Katt stopped shortly in a big hallway marvelling, two slashes of blood criss-crossing the wall, lines running down the wall. With a faint gasp Katt noticed the great crimson blood stain on the ceiling, more than 6 meters above her. She was beginning to get a horrible suspicion of exactly who Dachend was fighting.

After couple of more minutes walk she noticed a faint ringing sound, as she head down a corridor it got louder. After another couple of minutes she realised what it was. Even through the rhythm of it was impossibly fast, there was no doubt.. it was sword blades clashing. Raising her pace to a slow run Katt continued down the corridor, her heart beating even more forcefully. Quickly the ring of swords play got much louder.

As she turned a corner, Katt had to choke a shriek as she came face to gut with a Dark Elf. Then she realised that this Dark Elf was mostly dead. Hanging more than a foot above the floor, nailed to the wall with a broken spear shaft through his chest, his ugly face locked in pain, his had gasping around the shaft as if to attempting to pull it out.

Shrugging off the gruesome sight, Katt turned to a door, that was obviously knocked in as a body had been flung at it, making it carve in.

The ring of blades from the other side of the door increased their pace til an almost constant tone, then there was a "rraaaa!!" and a "hiyyaa!!" followed by a rapid succession of thuds. Then silence, a almost unnatural silence.

After a couple of nerve shaking heart beats Katt dared to approach the door. Holding her breath, not daring to hope or fear for what she would face, but not daring to keep away either she neared. Slowly she peeked around the edge of the smashed door, and inhaled in sharp, feeling her stomach recoiling. She turned away from the door, hands clamps across her mouth, feeling tears in her eyes. Horror shaking her. That was not the way of the warrior, it wasn't honourable, neither prideful nor skillful. it had nothing to do with swordsmanship, it wasn't even murder.

With a feat of will, Katt had never thought she could muster, she forced herself to look again, to see if her mind had driven some sort of insane trick at her senses. she sank something, it hadn't.

* * *

Dachend was standing back against a wall, having slid down almost to a squat. Yeralanor, looming over him. Both kenshi's had a expression of utter determination and battlelust in their faces, but also a flash of agony and disbelief.

It wasn't the sight of her old teacher that horrified Katt like that, it was what filled her view, beside her love interest and old teacher. It was blades. Puncturing, penetrating, piercing from all places from both fighters. As they had frozen a second in pain.

Dachend's body was a mess, covered with deep cuts, his gut literally one big open wound. Yeralanor's sword driven into his chest. a small axe was embedded in the in his left side, and two daggers where deep in his flesh, one submerged in the left side of his rib cage. the other sinking deep into his throat, a broken sword stump was jacked through his right thigh.

But what really made the scream on Katt's lips freeze and only came out as a soundless wheeze, was Yeralanor's condition. Both Dachend's wrist blades were out, both driven into Yeralanor's chest, Dracho'xian forced through his stomach, puncturing from his back like a dark crimson banner pole. A sword, probably picked up from a dead guard was sticking out from where his primary heart should be and a broken spear shaft had been driven into his left eye socket, matted with gore.

Then with a vibrating roar, Yeralanor jumped back while swinging his right arm and pulled his sword out with his left, a fountain of blood erupting from Dachend's chest. In a feat of strength Dachend pulled the stolen Dark Elf's sword out from Yeralanor and swung it in an arc, slicing Yeralanor's right arm off just above the elbow. Yeralanor scowled and kicked Dachend in the face Dachend's head flying back and against the wall, with a dull smack, staining the wall crimson. then he slid down with a groan, Yeralanor stepped a few paces back.

Coughing Dachend groaned "fucking hey," *cough* "you're pretty tough." lying on his knees, Dachend gripped around the axe and with a strangled yelp pulled it out and tossed it aside. "Well, well.. so you're not mortal either" he concluded and pulled out the daggers.

Yeralanor smiled wickedly and looked at his missing arm "Not quite..." the blood veins on his head bulged out and the broken spear shaft in his eye socket was shot out like the cork in a bottle. Then with a casual mime began to pull out Dracho'xian and flung the sword to the side. "...why do you think I joined forces with these Dark Elves, hmm?" he intoned. The blood on his multiple wounds drew into the gaps in his body and glowed for a second, then the wounds had healed. Even his eye had returned. " see my skilful opponent, evil has a lot to offer." from his arm stump lashed a tendril of blood, the reached through the room and connected with his cut off limb, then pulled it back to the armstump where it fit into place. The red raw line of the wound glowed red for a moment, then Yeralanor flexed his fingers trying the hand.

"As you can see, I am not affected by this unique dimension" Yeralanor smiled, Dachend grinned coldly, trying to force himself to his feet, failing horrible.

Personally he would be satisfied if he could be able to look straight or some body would make the damn room stop spinning.

"The charm of undying blood hmm?" Yeralanor smiled surprised "Ah, you surprise me again Dachend, I have underestimated you somewhat, not only you prowess with a sword. Almost a match for my own"

Dachend grinned cold "I'm better than you asshole, I was just holding back, because I'm sure that Katt wouldn't mind finding out why the hell you switched sides."

Yeralanor smiled viciously "Power! it's that simple, power. In time I will rule all of Underhill"

"What a benevolent quest" snarled Dracho'xian.

Yeralanor smiled dangerously sweet "Well I would love to stand here and chatter all day, but I have things to attend too. So prepare die" with that he spin kicked Dachend in the head, throwing the warrior to the floor. Quickly he bent down and grabbed the black eyed man's head by the hair and lifted it brutally snarling "before I behead you I want you to know that if it doesn't kill you, I will keep your living head in a jar for all time"

Dachend looked up at Yeralanor under a brow mattered with blood "If that'll shut you up, I don't give a flying fuck"

With a scowl Yeralanor lifted his sword "Insolent hound, I'll teach you to respect me" the sword came down.


"What!?" Yeralanor stared at the red headed short elf girl that stood before him, shivering with terror. Her sword blocking his inches above Dachend's neck

"Hi Katt, nice save there" Dachend said, with his usual dry voice and sly smile.

* * *

"You dare interfere with my actions?" Yeralanor said coldly, a hint of disbelief in his voice.

Katt sank something, tears shimmering in her eyes "I'm not afraid of you, you'll never control my life again" Didn't sound like she really believed it herself, but never the less it really put on the fire on Yeralanor.

Letting go of Dachend's head, which promptly dropped to the floor with a *konk* as there was not strength left in the body it sat on to hold it up. Then the twisted elf flung a hand at Katt and slapped her in the face, throwing her off her feet. "You little runt, you dare to speak against me. I taught you humility and to fear me..." he began to walk slowly towards the fear stricken elf girl, that desperately tried to get to her feet, not noticing the blood that tickled down from the edge of her mouth. Yeralanor smiled coldly "It appears that my lessons, have waned somewhat, so let me refresh you memory" with that he lunged out with his sword.

Katt lifted her sword just in the nick of time, catching the blade but it still cut into her shoulder but instead of severing her arm, it just gave her a flesh wound. Yeralanor cocked a eyebrow, then struck again.

Katt ducked and weaved the best she could, countered at every stroke that she could possibly afford. Attacking in near desperation, her fear and desperation drowning out all rational thought. if she had had time to reflect on this fight, she would no doubt have been very impressed by herself, she had never ever fought this good before, ever. But little did it help, Yeralanor was an swords man of calibre that ranked with Dachend. and apparently could out match him in duel. And where Dachend was super fast and agile for a human and had the added strength and endurance of his race compared to an elf. Yeralanor had the natural speed, dexterity and nimbleness of all elves. Katt didn't have a chance.

Every feint, every trick, every blow, sweep, strike and thrust was parried dodge or countered. It was like fighting smoke or banging on a great rock. either you didn't hit or your blow just bounced off.

With a casual motion of his sword Yeralanor caught Katt's blade at the hand guard and then sweeped it out of her hand, sending it skidding over the floor. Looking after her sword in grief, Katt returned her gaze to Yeralanor, who stared down at her with a mocking smile that frightened her more than the most savage grimace could. he then slapped her, open hand on the side of her face, sending her to the floor, where she crumbled to a sobbing heap. sobbing in frustration, fear, relinquishment.

Yeralanor looked at her prone former pupil "I am most surprised Kattarina, you have really improved from the last time I had the misfortune of tutoring you. Though you are still a clumsy and awkward swords fighter. Never the less you have improved some.." his face hardened into a cold smile "but you have dared to raise a blade against your own master and that will not do, prepare to die.." he kicked her over and stood legs apart over her, his swords tip hovering over her heart. Katt hardly dared to breath "how ironic Kattarina, you life was miserable and pathetic, so will be your death and nobody will miss you as the little filthy bastard elf you are"

Katt almost choked as she looked over at Dachend who had pushed himself to his side, trying to keep what was left of his intestines and inner organs inside. He had pushed himself up to one elbow. the look of disappointment in her or disgust at her was nowhere to be found on his face. There was only concern and a hint of acknowledgement and belief in her. His sly smile played over his lips and Katt found herself free for a second of the mind crushing fear, Dachend was near her and he believed in her, she would be damned if Yeralanor made her fail his trust.

Using all her strength, her frustration, her pent up loneliness, all her hurt, Katt pulled up her legs to her chest, just as Yeralanor raised his blade to thrust, and let it all go with a kick that connected with a solid *tham* between Yeralanor's parted legs. Dachend winced and not because of his own pains. Katt's habit of choosing the same target was starting to make him slightly nervous.

The elven swordsmaster's eyes bulged out of their sockets and the yell of pain only came out as a high pitch whine, as he staggered back and had to lean on a piller.

Katt rolled to her feet and looked up at Yeralanor, who after few moments manage to focus on her through his tears of pain "You little bitch!" Katt noted with a frightened smirk that his voice was couple of notes higher than before. he lifted his sword to strike her down and that was what Katt had expected.

Her sword appeared in her hand, like a mist flowing from her palm and materialising as the brilliant soulblade, Yeralanor's eyes widened. Then Katt thrusted forward and the metal bore through the elf's armour, into his chest, just below the chest bone, crushing bone and organ alike, then puncturing out the back like a bloody banner pole of victory.

Yeralanor bent forward, gagging. Katt let go of the blade and took a steep back in utter horror. He was not falling, he wasn't dying "Katt keep it up, he heals faster than me, but he can't take near the amount of damage, you got him on his heels. chop his head off!!" cried Dachend, who had gotten to his feet and was running towards them.

But it was to late, Yeralanor had raised his eyes to meet Katt's and Katt couldn't run, she couldn't move. she saw her death in those glittering, handsome cold eyes.

The sword moved through the air in a great arc and she gasped. It sliced through her armour without even slowing. Katt looked down, seeing red begin to cover the torn chain mail over her bellybutton. She couldn't cry out, the shock had frozen her, a strange cold gripped her. She could just see Yeralanor, lift the sword to strike again and just before the darkness consumed her, she saw Dachend come up behind him, crying out her name in mixture of rage and grief.

* * *

"KAAAAAAAAATT!!!!" Dachend roared in utter fury. his hand grabbing Yeralanor by the spinning, spinning him around, punching him squarely, full force in the face. Gabbing around his throat, his other hand taking hold of the Katt's soul sword, then hoisting the renegade elf off the ground, hurling him through room, the elf slamming into the wall with a sound smack.

Yeralanor forgotten he feel to his knees, beside the red headed elf. taking her into his arms cradling her against his chest, her blood mixing with his own "oh Christ Katt, why the hell did you have to something that stupid you little fool, you could just have split, gone found Eric and left me here to die." he rested her head against his shoulder "Oh man, why couldn't you just stay away and let me die, now I have to go on having lost you too" Dracho'xian was lying on the ground beside them, drops of crystal clear liquid dripping from the eye on the blade .

"oh god, no.... GODDAMN IT! NO!!!...... not Katt" the sword cried and sobbed silently.

Dachend hug his head in sorrow ".... this sucks"

In his sorrow, Dachend felt a horrible sense of dejavu. For his inner eye, the petite little elf in his arms with her red hair and cute feature's were changed to the visage of a human woman with long soft hair, the colour of a newly hatched ravens feathers. her gentle, delicate features mattered with her own blood.

"Not again," whispered the immortal, holding the body into his own. "It must not happen again.."

"It is over Dachend, she has died. but do not grieve for you are to follow her shortly" Yeralanor's musical voice cut through the room. Dachend's grieve stricken face slowly hardened, a mask of cold rage covering it.

He looked down at Katt's face, how she looked like she was asleep. He kissed her forehead softly and laid her gently on the floor "It's not over yet" he said calmly.

Yeralanor laughed shortly, as Dachend turned towards him "What do you mean human? she is dead. she is no more, it is _over_"

"NO!!!" Dachend boomed, then snarled, as a blue aura began to shimmer around him "It will never be over, not until I tear your still beating hearts from your chest Yeralanor!" in his cold fury Dachend completely forgot to curse and swear and even got Katt's old masters name right.

Yeralanor began to strode towards Dachend a confident smile on his face, but it quickly began to fade. Dachend hadn't taken a attack stance, he just stood there, his black eyes fixed on Yeralanor, his hands balled into fists so hard that the skin over the knuckles burst, small ripples of electricity began to run over his body. With each breath of his chest that with controlled, shuddering breaths, raised and sank, the crackle of energy became more apparent.

Pulling his right hand back, his left grasping around the right wrist, the right palm open. A tiny sphere of white light appeared in the middle of his open palm. It was as if all light in the room was sucked into the little dot of light, all the energy that had crackled over Dachend's body, his aura of blue, was sucked into the small sphere.

Yeralanor had come to a complete stop now, a nagging sense of dread had come over him. He could sense the presence of beasts from other planes tearing on the borders of reality, crying for revenge. Never did Dachend's eye's leave Yeralanor's, the small sphere in his palm glowing with a light that burned into Yeralanor's eyes, stronger than any sun.

Dachend's cold fury turned to a scowl of hatred that Yeralanor had never thought he would see on a person that was capable of compassion. Thought clenched teeth Dachend began to chant, with ice cold calm "In the name of Dachend Yayin, I call upon you to do my bidding...." his scowl got even meaner if that was possibly and the small sphere in his palm pulsed with a light that was alive. then roaring on the top of lungs Dachend threw his right had forward, palm still outstretched "COME FORTH KUAN-YAA!!!!!" The sphere in his palm exploded in a burst of light that fanned out, to a beam that was more than a meter thick.

Dachend's kuan-yaa beast magic, the shinning fang. Normally a bolt of crackling energy, not thicker than a man's arm, with the faint impression of a dragon head at the front of the bolt. But this time it was far superior, if it was Dachend's intense fury or the strange nature of the Dark Elf dimension none could tell, a clear change was unmistakable.

Yeralanor, was staring into a beaming bolt of lightning, more than a meter thick, with a spectral, but very clear impression of the head, forelegs and torso of a dragon. that lashed forward, talons and fangs stretching for Yeralanor. Yeralanor, only had time to lift his arms in a desperate attempt to ward of the attack.

* * *

Every one in the palace, in the surrounding city, in the field surrounding the city, looked up and towards the palace as they heard a dragon shriek of a magnitude that suggested that the end of the world was at hand. Then there was a heartbeat of silence, nothing happened. It appeared as if the world itself held it's breath.

Then the Dark Elf stronghold, their palace, was yanked in it's foundation, the whole structure moved and every one understood where the scream had come from. The Dark Elf palace was as much a fortress as a palace, made to withstand the most savage and powerful of attacks that came from the outside. This one didn't.

Over a fourth of the palace's side that turned towards the chasm, was torn out, blown away, and soaring to the sky was a hail storm of white-blue energy, that seemed to reach for the heavens, tearing at the palace structure. Then halted a moment taking the impression of a dragon spreading out it's wings in triumph. It then halted it's climb and just dissolved, letting a shower of debris rain down on the city.

* * *

Eric grabbed hold of Kiyo and dived for cover, scarcely noting that Ryan did like wise as the roof began to rain down crushing anyone unfortunate enough to be in the open to pulp.

As the tremors and shower began to ease off, Eric decided to check on the Kitsune, which to his surprise looked out into the carnage in horror. Eric himself couldn't help felling afraid himself. The surge of energy that had just been there, a power of such savage fury and primal rage, destructive power had almost knocked Eric of his feet and he could see that it was a miracle that Kiyo hadn't passed out from the magical vacuum and following whiplash as the plane recollected itself.

"Are you all right?" he asked.

Kiyo looked up at him and blushed lightly "Yes, I was just startled..." she got a frightened expression "I don't know why, but... but I fear for my sisters life. I sense something terrible has happened..."

"No, really?" mocked Ryan, looking out from under his cover of a toppled over walkway, at the carnage the collapse of the hall way had caused.

* * *

Yeralanor pushed the block of rock to the side and climbed out from under the debris, amazing but true, he had survived. Of cause he had survived, he was Yeralanor, only his complete calm and control had allowed him to throw a spell of warding in the last split second. That had thrown him clear of the main explosion, undoubtedly saving his life.

He dusted off his cloth and looked around in the ruins, smoke and dust covering everything in almost complete blindness he began to crawl over the small mounts and spires of splintered rock and metal having to jump twice for his life, as the floor gave way under him and revealed a gapping abyss many floors down.

He then froze, in the dead silence of all the devastation he heard footsteps. Drawing his sword, he had had enough foresight to heal before he confronted Dachend. Yeralanor looked around, brushing his hair to the side, the foot steps had ceased.

Then the smoke parted for a moment and he saw a figure stand less than five meters from him.

There stood Dachend, Dracho'xian in hand, determination on his face. The two warriors glared at each other coldly, regarding the other, this was the final confrontation and they both knew it.

"No matter what happens, only one of us will walk away shit for brains" Dachend stated.

"We'll make you pay for Katt's life hundred fold" hissed the sword.

Yeralanor smiled "Then this will be your grave Dachend"

"It ain't over until that fat lady sings" smiled Dachend

"So tell you mother that she's going on stage in five." added Dracho'xian.

Yeralanor scowled "You dare insult me yet!!"

Dachend lifted Dracho'xian to attack "enough of this bullshit, let's finish it!!"

The two clashed, with determination, hate, anger and fury that would have shaken gods if any had dared to take up the challenge. Both were swordsmen, kenshis, warriors, they both were masters of the blade. Of their kind of fighters, amoung the hundreds of thousands, they were the elite.

Dancing the deadly dance of death, the two moved around on the ruins of the destroyed palace, their blades clashing in a tune of death and agony, each matching the others move, each looking for any opening, any weakness. Dodging, jumping, weaving, running. they swept in and out amoung the blocks of rocks. slowly moving for higher grounds.

Then as their swords locked together with a mighty clang, and they pressed on at each other, trying to break the others stand, the wind ripping in their hair and torn cloth, as they had climbed near to the top of the palace. The ground gave way under their feet and the walkway they had been standing on plunged down into the bleak darkness of the torn open palace, even as the piece of rock fell, they still exchanged blows, not caring for the danger that they both faced, not noting the fierce updraft that tore at them as their foothold dropped towards the ground with lethal speed.

Yeralanor, jumped back from a slashing swing from Dachend, left the falling battle arena and landed on a small platform on a ruined wall, Dachend quickly following, neither looking after, hearing or caring about the rock that seconds later hit the bottom far below, with a loud boom.

The two standing a floor apart, look up and down at each other, Dachend jumped upwards to face his quarry, Yeralanor jumping to greet him. Thus jumping from platform to platform on the walls and leftover's of rooms and corridors, they bounced around, exchanging blows as they crossed each other, some drawing showers of sparks, others drawing blood.

Dachend lost his footing and slid down a collapsed stairway, only barely managing to get to his feet and block Yeralanor's strike before it split his head. The two warriors hands locked together in a power struggle, the momentum being Yeralanor's, his sword began to dig into Dachend's shoulder. He smiled viciously "this is where it ends for you!!" Dachend answered by throwing his head forward, sinking his teeth into Yeralanor's neck, then yanking his head back, tearing a good lump of flesh out in a shower of blood. Yeralanor staggered back, holding a hand over his neck, the blood washing out between his fingers. through it had already begun to heal, his expression was of shock "you - you bite me.... you're.. you're _MAD_"

Dachend grinned maniacally, his face twisted into a mask of insanity "You haven't seen anything yet asshole" Yeralanor's blood running down his face.

* * *

Eric opened the door and gestured for Kiyo to follow, slowly the two entered the room, which Eric suspected was suppose to have been somewhere near the middle of the palace but was now less than half of the room remained, leaving a hole out into the empty space.Ccarefully nearing the edge of the more than hundred meter free fall down, in the great crack that had been made in the structure.

The two looked out over the devastation, then Eric's sharp eyes noticed something amoung the clouds of smoke. Two figures moving around on a small plateau some 20 meters under Eric and Kiyo and on the other side of the newly created ravine in the palace.

In seconds Eric realised what he was looking at "It's Dachend, he's fighting some one..... by gods he's good"

Kiyo followed his gaze and gasped "It's Yeralanor?!?" Kiyo thought it best to explain. "My sisters old teacher, an arrogant and evil elf, who should had been put down like a mad dog long ago." Kiyo missed Eric's look of surprise at her vehemence as she watched the two, "Apparently he has now he has turned traitor on his own people too."

Eric quickly looked around, but there was no way over to the other side in eyesight, they could only stand, breathless, as audience to this amazing duel.

Suddenly a handful of small furred shapes and a single large one entered the plateau. "Skaven" said Kiyo "Can't we help sir Dachend?"

Eric lifted his hand, green light glowing around it. But then lowered it, the crowd had already swarmed the two fighters "No, I dare not, I could hit him. it might give them the edge to take him down"

"But he will lose, they are out numbering him almost 20 - 1!" Eric unconsciously laid a comforting arm around Kiyo "Relax, it's Dachend, the more there are the better he gets."

As if to empathise Eric words, the Skaven began to fall around Dachend as straws to a scythe. Dachend charging towards Yeralanor, a nimbus of blood around him, none of ratpeople could stand before him, the few that actually had the luck to make a blow at him realised that it would be the same as if they had not, it didn't even slow him and they still died.

Then the great ogre stepped between, lifting his mighty club to squash the human. The blow never fell, Dachend went right through him, literally, cleaving through the ogre and jumping through the hole before the body fell into a heap.

Kiyo gasped, Eric answered her thought silently "Dachend is a predator, he's one of the best at what he does. He's a killer and loves it"

"That can not be all of him, or else my sister would not care for him so."

The Kitsune and the elf looked down at the plateau again, but Dachend and Yeralanor had disappeared, the only testament of their presence was the heap of dead.

* * *

Yeralanor walked around through the ruins, this was drawing out, he was beginning to tire. his healing was beginning to slow down, it was beginning overload. Though he suspected that Dachend's had already stopped completely. Smilling grimly he knew that their next pass would be their final. Yeralanor was on his heels, but Dachend was half dead. Confident the elf followed the trail of blood on the floor, his grip tightening around his sword, he moved down a stair way, sided by a crack wall on the left and empty darkness on the right.

After several minutes of walking he was beginning to suspect that Dachend had died by himself and had plunged into the abyss to the right. But the blood trail still remained, so he continued.

The stairs ended in a small platform, hanging suspended in free air, by the end of the stair, attached to the wall. Almost the entire level had given way here and crashed down.

Yeralanor looked around, where had the impostor gone, an human couldn't possibly escape him, of all elves. In anoyment Yeralanor looked around, where had he gone, he couldn't fly. Sweat tickled down his forehead, he wiped it off, more sweat? He wiped it off. then noticed his hand it was crimson, blood!

Looking up Yeralanor saw Dachend come down at him, like a bird of prey. he had sat on the wall, one of his wrist blades jarred into the rock, the *sweat* had been his dripping blood. Yeralanor's pupils widened.

Dracho'xian connected with Yeralanor's left shoulder, carving through his body, splitting him in two. "You bastard, I'm gonna take you APART!!!" screamed Dachend and spun around.

To the observer it would appear that Dachend's arms became blurs, as the demon sword shrieked around in the space that Yeralanor occupied, then Dachend moved back, dropping to his knees. holding Dracho'xian for support, gasping for air.

Yeralanor stood a moment and gapped like a fish, then red lines began to appear, criss-crossing his body. He just fell apart, in to a heap of bleeding lumps of meat, the biggest being his head, that was attached to a shoulder, some of his chest and the stump of his right upper arm.

For a long moment there was silence, then Dachend looked at Yeralanor's face and with a groaning snarl rose to his shaking feet, lifting his sword over his head to smash Yeralanor's head to pulp and end this once and for all.

With a crack, the platform disappeared under Dachend and together with Dracho he fell into the darkness. Yeralanor laying spread out over what was left of the platform.

* * *

Pain. It filled him, ran through his veins, throbbed in his wounds, his head. It hurt and Dachend knew he was alive. Slowly he opened his eyes, forcing his mind to wake up, the darkness to disappear.

He was laying on a floor, judging from the blood stain around him he had hit it pretty hard, must have been a long drop. Quickly, with routine from centuries of experience, Dachend checked his body, he was almost completely healed, but god he was exhausted, he would be able to sleep for a week or so when time permitted.

He only then made a run over of the events that had brought him here ; the kidnapping, the rescue attempt, the fight with Yeralanor. the death of Katt. A pain greater than any of the ones that tore through his muscles and nerves, burst in his chest and Dachend lowered his head, and slowly got to his feet. There was something all to familiar about what had happened here today.

To be honest with himself Dachend didn't care, he didn't give a flying fuck if the earth opened up and every abomination of chaos and hell came to get him. He was tired, so god forsaken tired of not being able to die, but being able to lose every one he had ever cared for. He would have to find Katt's body, she would have wanted to be brought back to the Kitsune. Furrhold had been her only real home Dachend guessed. Never mind, Kiyo would know, she would probably be devastated, he didn't care.

When all this was taken care off, he would split, go see places he had never been, where people didn't know him and he could be alone with his misery. CAPOW, Genesis, Underhill, the headhunters, they could all go to hell for all he cared. he just wanted to be left alone so he could get on with his life, he always did, went on, he didn't have much of a choice.

He threw a glare at the sword in his hand, Dracho'xian was humming a gentle tune. Dachend sighed, the sword had it's way of mourning lost friends and loves, he had his.

"Dachend!" what was that, he looked around, then shrugged and moved on through the rubble, where the hell had he left her body anyway. "Dachend, where are you?!"

Dachend stopped, that sounded suspiciously a lot like Katt "great..." he mumbled, "now I'm starting to hear things" he took another step.

"Dachend I'm up here!"

"Did you hear that?" asked Dracho'xian hopefully.

Dachend cocked a eyebrow "You heard it too?"

"Yep." The sword confirmed.

Dachend looked around trying to locate the source of the voice that sounded very much like Katt's. He then saw her, she was standing, leaning to a wall, on the floor above him, holding a hand on her stomach, that was covered with red.

"Wonderful," he groaned, now her ghost had come to haunt him or he was going crazy, he ignored her.

"Erh? Dachend.." began Dracho'xian.

The *ghost's* happy expression changed to a mixture of sorrow and guilt "Dachend I'm sorry!" the voice was quivering "pleas-" the sentence was cut off as the piece of floor that the *ghost* stood cracked and with a squeal she feel down, Dachend standing almost directly under, streached out his arms. He might as well, try and catch her, so Dracho'xian could see that it was a ghost or just a illusion of their minds. Strangely enough the *ghost* that landed in his arms had weight, normally this would hardly have made Dachend waver, but now the extra weight made his legs give way and he feel to his knees.

He noted with some surprise, that for a ghost, Katt felt quite solid and comfortably warm, if somewhat shaky.. with bubbling joy Dachend concluded that he had been a real dumbass, never did check for her vital signs back there, if he had had the option he would have banged his head against something really hard, but for now he was content to make sure that it was in fact Katt. He noted that Dracho'xian had come to the same conclusion.

"Katt you alive/not dead!!" the two friends babbled over each other. Dachend laid his strong arms around her "Geezuz you little moron, you scared the shit out of me!!" he snarled

"Man I'm glade your not dead!!" cheered Dracho'xian

* * *

Katt just lay on top of the Wu, bleeding, hurting, but strangely never having felt better in her life. She could smell him, feel him, and he'd said he cared about her.. The headiness of it all! She'd thought she'd never see him again, that she would never find happiness in his arms, yet..

"I'm not dead, no." She finally managed, "And I'm really glad you're not dead either! Although, I suppose I could have used the Bounty on your head to get a new door for the garage -"


"Or at least, repaint the sign, it's getting a little old.."

"Paint your sign?!"

"Draco, close your eye." Katt continued calmly, ignoring the fact it felt like her guts were on fire and she was probably bleeding all over both Dachend and his friend.

Dracho'xian obeyed and closed his eye. Katt reached up and placed one hand on either side of Dachend's face, she looked deeply into his eyes, as if trying to read his inner most self, then leaned in and gave him a kiss of extreme passion. Certainly a hell of a lot more than he'd expected from the man-shy, innocent Elf! Dachend felt his blood beginning to boil a fifteenth time, but for the first time for a completely different reason. Katt broke away, blushing slightly but looking .. triumphant?

A few minutes of silence passed before a deep voice broke the interlude. "This is real touching an all, but can we get the hell out of here?"

"You're all heart, Ryan." Dachend replied, helping Katt up and off him. Man, did he hurt like he hadn't hurt in.. centuries?

Kiyo wandered over to the two, picking her way daintily across blood, gore and headless corpses. The castle groaned warningly at all the abuse it had taken. "I think I can hold them together long enough," she said after looking over the two, still holding hands, still bleeding. Both looking like they couldn't be happier in the world. She sighed and looked over to Eric, maybe one day..?

Eric looked off into the distance, trying to remember the exact phrase Kiyo had told him to use, "Dances With Credit Cards, Lord of the Kitsune, in return for saving your daughters I request transportation for me and my friends out of here!" Eric asked the air, feeling kind of strange.. But anything not to have to deal with that tree a second time!

Suddenly the air seemed to waver, a soft tune seemed to be playing in each of their souls, the air straightened again to reveal a magical casting room with a viewing portal floating in front of one wall. The portal revealed the darkness of the realm the group had just come from.

A tall Kitsune in jeans and t-shirt seemed very happy to see the group, hugging both daughters before anyone could say anything. Kiyo immediately fell to her knees beside the wounded pair and started to sing healing to them. Ryan walked over to Eric, swinging the spiked mace he'd picked up somewhere over one shoulder and looked to the Elf with a completely straight face. "Mission Complete. Bill comes to a hell of a lot of coffee, re-outfitting of ammo and a new shirt." He pulled a few grenades out of his pocket and started juggling them casually in one hand, "Never did get to use these."

Eric stared at Ryan in shock. "We- you - all those fiends in the castle and you ..?"

"Hey, and spoil all your fun?"

Eric watched the warrior and the mechanic being patched back together and couldn't help but feel the emotions between the two. When had that happened? Dachend had always seemed so.. Dachendy. For him to be in love..? The DCD officer shook his head in mild amazement, how had the young Elven mechanic opened the man's closed heart? "I think we did a good job." Eric finally replied. His eyes fell on Kiyo as she kneeled beside them, what did the future hold for him and a certain Kitsune?

"I just got one question, though." Ryan continued.

"What's that?" Eric asked absently.

"What's with all the fucking foxes?!"

* * *

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