Categories > Comics > X-Men > Eternal Flame

Finding Balance

by slickboy444 0 Reviews

Takes place after Ultimate X-men 60. A new force with power similar to the Phoenix begins to manifest in Scott, leading to a confrontation with forces the likes of which the X-men have never faced ...

Category: X-Men - Rating: PG-13 - Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama, Fantasy, Romance - Characters: Cyclops, Iceman, Jean Grey, Nightcrawler, Professor Xavier, Storm, Wolverine - Published: 2006/05/23 - Updated: 2006/05/23 - 6323 words

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Eternal Flame
Chapter 9: Finding Balance


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With Horus and the Phoenix now soaring freely through the sky, the fate of so many remained uncertain. Slayer, the X-men, and Warlord Xin remained in the temple, locked in bitter conflict as the universe rested in the hand of two mutant teenagers. And for Warlord Xin, this was reason enough to believe that they were all done for. But before the end came, he had some personal business to take care of.

At the moment, Xin's seemingly endless shadow army was fighting the X-men. Wolverine, Iceman, Dazzler, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus were all doing whatever they could to subdue this madman's minions. But for Slayer, he had only one focus and one focus alone...Warlord Xin.

"Well I hope you're happy, warrior!" bellowed the evil entity as he held his oversized sword, ready to strike down his enemy once and for all, "Thanks to your pestilence, those two will destroy us all!"

"You're a hell of pessimist, Xin. No wonder you turned out to be such a prick!" said Slayer, his magic sword drawn as both fighters stood in the desolate center where the darkened clouds above still echoed with thunder through the hole that Horus had made.

"Mock me all you want warrior! But I know immortal forces! And as long as Phoenix and Horus are in a state of chaos, they'll keep destroying and recreating every corner of the universe until their mortal vessels fades or they choose to throw themselves in the nearest black hole!"

"Or...All that could be avoided if those two simply found the balance that they seek."

"Balance? Ha!" scoffed Warlord Xin, his red eyes flashing menacingly, "That eye of yours is starting to play tricks with your mind, warrior! It's made you delusional! But no matter...Because I'm going to put you out of your misery before we're all shattered into cosmic dust! I may not have cosmic power, but I still have enough to defeat you!"

"Bring it on, Ugly!" yell the determined mutant warrior, firmly gripping his sword in preparation for battle, "It's time we finally finish this!"

With such words in mind, Warlord Xin began the charge, letting out a loud war cry that seemed to rally his minions around the X-men.

"Hrrrrrrrrrrrrrahhhhhhhh!"

The sound of his sword clashing with Slayer's unleashed a booming echo of metal on metal that radiated throughout the mangled temple. It was so forceful that it knocked a few minions who were close by off their feet. Such force was a remarkable feat, showing just how much power these two were putting into this fight to the bitter end.

"Time to die warrior!" yelled Xin, their swords now sparking as they tried to overcome one another with brute strength.

"Don't you ever get tired of saying that?" grunted Slayer as he broke the grapple and began his attack.

Slayer didn't hold back this time as he moved with superhuman speed, unleashing a barrage of horizontal and vertical slashes that forced Warlord Xin on the defensive. They were in a place that was thick with metaphysical energy, so Jack knew he had the means to supply himself with the power he needed to fight.

But Warlord Xin was no pushover. Every lightning quick maneuver was blocked and diverted with his sword, allowing him to work the young warrior to a stalemate as they found themselves in another grapple. Only this time, Xin was on the offensive.

"You're getting sloppy, warrior!" he taunted as he pulled off a spin move that landed a heavy blow on the mutant warrior, causing him to let out a pained yell.

"Erraaahhhhhh!"

"Yes! That's it, Slayer! Feel the anguish of the shadows!"

"Fuck...You!"

Even with a serious wound forming, Slayer was quick to respond and hit Warlord Xin with an upper diagonal slash. Naturally, the shadowy warlord motioned to block this attack, but the momentum of Jack's movement allowed him to divert the direction of his blade and pulled off a spin move that impaled the jungle madman right through the gut.

"RRRAHHHHHHHH!" he yelled, sounding like the cries of a thousand tortures souls.

"Pure chi still stings like a bitch, doesn't it?" taunted the mutant warrior as he pulled his sword out in quick, fluid motion, causing Warlord Xin even more pain.

"ERR! NOW YOU'RE DEAD SLAYER!"

Kicking it into high gear, Warlord Xin unleashed the power of shadow magic and his body was soon glowing with the evil energy of the blackest magic. Slayer responded by tapping the surrounding energy and forming a field of purified chi around his body. It was an act that gave them both a new burst of energy and as they both let out deafening war cries, the sound of colliding swords echoed through the chamber.

"Yeah! Come on, Slayer!" yelled Iceman as he froze a squad of minions that were trying to sneak up on him, "Kick his evil ass!"

"Dude, NOW you're rooting for him?!" exclaimed Dazzler, using the surrounding sounds to unleash more energy sparks.

"Hey, I figure if he wins, we all win! So let's show a little support!"

"What are you, Bobby? A cheerleader?!" yelled Ororo, who was staying high in the air, away from these creatures that had once haunted her nightmares, "Let's just get rid of these things!"

"Easy Ro! Now ain't the time to be losing your mind!" yelled Logan as he tore through minion after minion, "Just stay focused! We beat Xin, we all win!"

"I'll take that, comrade!" said Piotr as nearly two dozen dark soldiers tried to pile on top of him, only to be met with the raw, unabated strength of the Russian Colossus.

Warlord Xin's minions wouldn't let up. With every being they destroyed, three more took their place. They showed no fear, no will, and no limits to their endurance. They just kept coming, fueled by the endless rage of a madman. Whenever Xin suffered a blow from Slayer, they all felt it and they all faltered. But whenever he was invigorated, they all became stronger and more difficult to overcome.

Either way, it was all on Slayer to take down Xin. And with their epic fight turning into a lightshow of magic, speed, and strength, it was hard to tell who was winning.

"You ugly...Son of a...Bitch!" yelled Slayer as he went on the attack, using all the mystical power her could muster to overcome his tenacious enemy.

"Err! You can't win, Slayer! You'll NEVER win!" taunted Warlord Xin as he blocked and diverted each slash.

Emotions ran high as the forces of darkness and light collided in a show of great force. Whatever one did, the other countered. When Slayer delivered a devastating blow, Warlord Xin responded with a shot of his own. It was beginning to take a toll on both of them as Slayer's armor began to rupture and Warlord Xin's once majestic attire grew increasingly disheveled.

Yet neither fighter showed any signs of letting up. They were too evenly matched. Such a struggle was truly epic as good and evil tried to overcome one another and two bitter enemies struggled to end this once and for all.

"You know we're all going to die, Slayer..." grunted Warlord Xin as he and Slayer were caught in another grapple, "Once Horus and Phoenix are corrupted enough, we'll all be cosmic dust!"

"Then I guess we better make this last fight count!" shot the mutant warrior.

"Err! You fool! This is all your fault! You killed this world! If you had let me take that power, it would still exist and prosper under my rule!"

"Don't bullshit me, Xin! I know full well that everybody on this planet would rather die than live under your rule!"

"That's your biased opinion! History may see me as a malevolent entity of the shadows, but how does that fare compared to one who claims to fight for justice and ends up destroying the planet in the process?"

Upon hearing those words, Jack let out a cynical laugh as he broke the grapple and gripped his sword in preparation for another attack.

"You really don't get it, do you?" he taunted, "History is only a collection of facts that everybody chooses to agree upon, not a script of judgment. And even if it was, I couldn't care less how I'm remembered. I don't give a damn about justice, peace, or the world in general! I do what I do for one reason and one reason alone...Honor!"

Warlord Xin's shadowy form was showing signs of fatigue as black blood seeped through his armor. His eyes were glowing with complete and utter hatred. It was bad enough that this pestilent warrior had stopped him in his hour of triumph, but to remain so stubborn was more than he could handle. In his malevolent eyes, he just had to die.

"Err! I swear I'll send you to rot in the eternal pits of torment even if I have to go with you!"

"Suit yourself, Xin..." grunted Slayer, ignoring the blood trailing down his face as he stared down his enemy, "Now come on! Let's dance!"

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While the fight between the forces of Warlord Xin, Slayer, and the X-men raged on, something far grander was brewing in the vast cosmos of space. Two powerful entities were soaring through the outer heavens at speeds that traversed great distances in mere seconds. Such acts were impossible for mortal beings to comprehend, but for Horus and Phoenix it was as easy as breathing.

"So confused...So lost. Every emotion, every feeling, every memory...It's all so...Strange."

The holy entity known as Horus, the son of Re, was flying aimlessly through space with no direction or destination in mind. He was an immortal force bound within the body of a mortal being. It was so deeply confusing, but after going through that ritual with Warlord Xin, he was more fragmented then ever.

He felt pain, anger, rage, and unparalleled hatred under the evil spirit's power. These were not things an immortal felt. These were moral sensations. And the more he thought about them, the more confused he became. So he just kept flying.

Not far behind Horus was the equally majestic cosmic force known as Phoenix. Like him, she was bound in a vessel known as Jean Grey, yet unlike him she had resided in this vessel longer. And during that time, she had learned about these mortal sensations. From the time the Hellfire Club tried to corrupt her to the time when she saved all those lives by destroying that nuclear power plant, she had experienced so much.

But after feeling Horus manifest, she felt something she had yet to truly experience. While bound to Jean Grey, she became acquainted with this feeling known as love. It was quite a sensation, but her mortal vessel had it in abundance. She had a deep love for Scott Summers...A love that made the immortal entity feel things that it was still trying to understand. But when Horus manifested, this feeling grew stronger and after eons of searching, she felt as though this was the key to making herself whole again.

"Horus! Please, let me help you!"

The two confused entities soared through space, flying by amazing sights that no mortal eyes had ever seen before. They passed stars, planets, novas, and nebulas that were so majestic and beautiful, but this failed to slow them as they kept on soaring like the divine birds they were.

Eventually, they flew so far that they were outside the Milky Way and ascending to the point in the cosmos where they could make out entire clusters of galaxies. And it was at this point that the confused entity known as Horus finally stopped.

"The cosmos...So vast and expansive. The power to create and destroy...All within the palm of my hand. But...Why? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Of what use could such power be to a universe of such great chaos?"

Even for an immortal entity, the answers seemed all but impossible. Hovering in a halo of fire, the body of Scott Summers turned around and gazed back at where came from, watching with awe at the sight that no such being had ever witnessed before.

It was so peaceful on the surface, yet so chaotic at the same time. He was so confused. All these feelings and sensations wouldn't leave him even out here in the vastness of infinity. So how was he to manage them? How was he to find his purpose?

Then suddenly, a beautiful voice interrupted Horus from his conflicted musings.

"Horus!"

"Phoenix...Is that you?"

From the vast distance before him, the beautiful image of the Phoenix emerged, taking its rightful place at the side of her love. The closer she got, the more she could feel him in her mind through the link that connected Scott Summers and Jean Grey. It caused the emotions within her mortal vessel to intensify, their holy fires now mixing in a plethora of feelings, sensations, and emotions.

"Horus...Please. Let me help you. I need you."

"Yes...Phoenix...I need you too, but it...It's all so strange. I don't understand any of this! Why are we here? What's going on? Why have we been bound to these mortal vessels? Why?!"

"I...I don't know. But I'm here now. We can figure this out together."

Drawing herself in closer, Phoenix took her fellow immortal in her arms. It was a gesture that Horus graciously accepted, wanting so desperately for something...Anything to hold onto. And when he felt his love's warmth, a wave of new sensations washed over him.

Scott Summers and Jean Grey reacted as well. Even though they were mere vessels, they too were becoming a part of this in a way that extended beyond their mortal limits. It was unlike anything any human could comprehend, but the emotions were strong enough to make such details irrelevant.

"So warm...Phoenix, I can...I can feel you. Even within Scott Summers, I can feel you. How? Why?"

"That's a question I too have been pondering, my love. But I'm beginning to think that maybe this is the moment where we finally understand our true purpose."

"Yes, our purpose! But why must we seek it through these mortal vessels? For eons, I remained disembodied, empty, and lost. Yet when I felt the birth of the mortal known as Scott Summers, I felt a connection."

"Yes, I understand. It was the same for me when I felt the birth of Jean Grey."

"They reached out to us in their earliest moments. They reached out to each other as well. And of all the beings that would embody our power, it came about through these two souls. And when I first felt it, I thought my emptiness would be filled when we became one. But when I was forced into merging with his being I was bombarded with all these overwhelming sensations!"

"Indeed, I experienced that as well when I was forced into Jean Grey. At first I felt euphoria for finding my vessel after all this time, but when I began to experience mortal feelings, I just...I couldn't control myself. But at the same time, these new feelings began to change me. Things like passion, emotion, and feeling...It was all so new to me. And the only way to maintain control was to suppress it. But it just...It was so hard! I was becoming...Becoming..."

The divine entity was unable to finish as she lost herself in the confusion. She actually began to shed tears...Tears of fiery sorrow for the part of her that she couldn't balance.

It was a sight that struck Horus in a way that he had yet to experience. But unlike the other sensations that he had felt, this was different. Through the link between Scott Summers and Jean Grey, he could feel this great depth of emotion between them. It felt...Good. It felt really good. It was warm, comforting, and undeniably strong.

But what was it? What was this feeling between Scott Summers and Jean Grey that seemed to parallel the connection between him and Phoenix.

"Phoenix...Don't cry. Don't cry."

"I can't help it! All this time, it's been a battle! A struggle! The more I fight, the more confused I become! Am I Phoenix or am I Jean Grey?! Are we separate or are we one?! I don't know! I just don't know! All I know is I keep feeling these sensations with her. And every time I look at you...They grow stronger."

"Yes, I feel it to. It is what guided me during those first chaotic moments in my mortal vessel. But I know not what this is...I only know what Scott Summers would call it if he were with Jean Grey...Love."

"Yes...Love."

Upon speaking that word, the two immortal beings embraced one another even more, not wanting to let go. Their flames mixed with one another in strong show of passion and emotion. They could feel the connection between them growing stronger. From Scott Summers and Jean Grey to the level of their divine power, it burned so brightly.

And from this, something inside them began to stir...Something that defied even the realm of the immortal.

"Horus..."

"Phoenix..."

What happened next transcended all the boundaries of time and space. Slowly, their faces drifted closer, the fires of their divine power burning with intense passion. Their hands began to roam about one another's mortal bodies, the sensations so deeply amplified by the divine prowess of their state.

The stars and galaxies seemed to shine with greater intensity as if they were reacting to this powerful connection between Phoenix and Horus. Then, as their lips met, it all came together for them.

Their bodies were enraptured in the deepest of passion, the lines between mortal and immortal blurring like never before. Scott Summers and Jean Grey were just as present as Horus and Phoenix. This connection, this feeling, this sensation...It was filling the emptiness inside them. And it was all linked by one word...Love.

"Scott..."

"Jean...I...I understand now. It...It's beginning to finally make sense!"

"Yes...Yes, I feel it too! All this time...I wasn't trying to find control. I was trying to find balance."

"Balance...Through emotions, passion, and feeling. And the mortal vessels of Scott Summers and Jean Grey are the mediums for finding it! Their love for each other and their connection with us...It's all meant to bring balance!"

In a moment of revelation, the two immortal entities were enraptured with a feeling of completion that went beyond the levels of mortality and divinity. They knew why they were here. They knew why they manifested in these beings. And at long last, they knew the path they had to walk in order to find their peace.

"Phoenix...Jean...Whether your one or the other, mortal or immortal, there is one thing that links us...Love. My love for you...Your love for me...On every level of every state, it is love that binds us. And through love, all these feelings...Joy, sorrow, hatred, happiness, and anger...They are all put into harmony. Neither flawed nor perfect, it is these feelings that fill our emptiness."

"And it is together, through our mortal beings that we can finally be at peace. We can finally bring harmony from chaos."

"Yes...Scott Summers and Jean Grey...Forever our mortal manifestations...Forever our vital consciousness. And through the link they share...And the link we share as well...We find our balance."

It had literally been an eternity waiting for this moment. And in the end, it was because of two mortals who just happened to be deeply in love that these two entities had found the way.

Now, as they held hands, the mortal and immortal parts of their being were all brought to surface in order to share this moment together. The final step in their journey to peace was about to be taken. And together, they would create clarity from confusion...Peace from chaos. And all they needed was love.

"Jean...I love you...Of all the power that lies within us, no words can ever describe that which I feel for you."

"I love you too, Scott. And with me...It's the thought that counts. And yours...Like you...Are beautiful."

Then, in a show of newfound harmony, the two cosmic lovers met in a passionate kiss. The fires of their immortal flames mixed in a brilliant display of beauty and splendor. And with their mortal bodies so heightened with the majesty of mortal passion, the holy entities were consumed with the wondrous sensations of life, bliss, and harmony.

And through their mortal vessels, the two beings finally experienced the greatest sensation of them all whether it be through earthly or divine...Peace.

*************************************************

Back in the temple, the fight was still raging as both Slayer and Warlord Xin wore each other down. They each showed signs of fatigue, their armor cracked and their bodies seeping with blood. As powerful as Warlord Xin was, he couldn't escape the effects of Jack's sword. The blade of pure chi was reeking havoc on his darkened form and it was showing in his minions.

"Come on Herr Slayer! Zhey are beginning to weaken!" urged Kurt as he and Colossus manhandled an entire platoon of minions.

"Yeah, keep it up pal! Help us through this and I'll get you more booze than you know what to do with!" yelled Dazzler, sticking close to Bobby as they kept up with their distance attacks after having suffered a few scrapes and bruises.

"Booze?! How can you think of booze at a time like this?!" exclaimed Bobby.

"Just shut up and keep shooting!" yelled the former punk rocker.

As strange as it was rooting for a guy they had once deemed an enemy, it was becoming apparent that Slayer had been telling the truth when he said that there were much darker forces at work here. And Warlord Xin was beyond dark. A being like this couldn't be allowed to inflict any more pain and it had to end here.

Bolstered by support from the X-men, Slayer firmly gripped his sword despite his bodily pain and prepared another attack.

"You can't keep this up forever, mortal!" boasted Warlord Xin, his black blood staining his dark armor, "Eventually, you will succumb to the fate of all those who oppose me."

"Blah, fucking, blah," scoffed Slayer, "You think that's going to stop me? Either I kill you now! Or die trying!"

"Ha! If it's death you want, its death you shall receive!"

Letting out a round of war cries, Slayer and Warlord Xin lunged forward, their swords clashing in a show of sparks and mystical energy. Their bodies continued to glow as they tried to use magic to overcome one another, but it was still a bitter stalemate.

Slayer tried to pull of a double lunge stabbing move that was usually the most effective killing maneuver in his style of swordsmanship, but Warlord Xin's heavy, oversized sword had the advantage of giving him more momentum, allowing him to dodge and avoid the attack by the margin of a human hair.

Then, he tried to go on the offensive, unleashing a wave of horizontal slashes and spin attacks that forced Slayer to go on the defensive. His sword may have been big and heavy, but with Xin's strength, that was irrelevant and he kept it moving at great speeds even as Slayer tried to disrupt his motions.

"You're fast! But not fast enough!" yelled Warlord Xin as Slayer rolled under another one of his horizontal slashes.

"Thanks for the hint. Guess that means I'll just move faster!"

Then, using his mystical abilities, Slayer summoned the purple mist that carried him great distances and used it to accelerate his speed. This surprised Xin as Slayer managed to land several heavy blows with his blade, causing him to let out anguishing cries.

"Errrrrrahhhhhhh! You little..."

His speed was proving deadlier than the jungle warrior could have imagined, but it wouldn't win him the battle as Warlord Xin summoned some magic of his own. With Slayer still moving at speeds masked by his mist, the evil warlord drew on his mastery of the shadows to shower the area in a veil of darkness that momentarily blinded Slayer.

And with only a split second moment to attack, Warlord Xin made what he hoped would be the death blow.

"DIE SLAYER!" he yelled as he delivered a strong, diagonal slash that tripped the mutant warrior up and sent him tumbling to the ground.

"Damn!" he cursed, feeling his leg sting as if it was on fire, "You son of a..."

"No more games! Now you shall perish at my hands!"

Then, just as Warlord Xin was making his final run, Wolverine sprang into action, tearing through the minions that had been holding him up and leaping into the central area. His claws were fully drawn and his temper was raging. This psycho had caused them enough grief and if Slayer couldn't finish it on his own then he was going to have to lend a claw.

"Not today, bub! This guy still owes me a rematch!" yelled Logan as he rolled over towards where Slayer was still trying to get up and lunged forth with both hands.

And unfortunately for Warlord Xin, his focus on Slayer caused him to lapse just enough to run right into Logan's trap. He was moving too fast and had too much momentum going as he ran right into Logan's adamantium claws. And like a pin cushion, he was impaled through the gut, causing more blackened blood to flow over his sinister form.

"NO!" yelled the jungle general of shadows as he was hit with a searing burst of pain.

"What one can't do...Two can!" shot Slayer, his leg now out of his mind as he lunged forth and supplemented Logan's attack with a few quick sword slashes of his own.

"ARRRRRRRGH! YOU LITTLE..."

But neither Logan nor Slayer let up. Slayer kept slashing Logan kept stabbing as pure chi mixed with adamantium, giving Warlord Xin not one, but two targets to worry about. And while he managed to dodge a few, he was unable to dodge both.

Such blows quickly took their toll, causing him to saunter in his once confident poise. His whole body became stained with black blood and his minions grew increasingly weaker against the X-men.

"You're out of time, Xin!" shot Slayer as he and Logan stood over their adversary.

"Yeah, you picked the wrong people to mess with!" growled Logan, "Now I'm sendin' you back to where you came from in a box of confetti!"

Despite his bad situation, Warlord Xin stayed strong and scoffed at their feeble threats.

"Ha! You think you pitiful mortals can overcome the master of shadows? I am what nightmares are made of! I live on regardless of how much you hurt me! Face it...As long as my spirit remains fueled by the forces of darkness, you're just wasting your time! I am power! I am the blackest of night! I am invincible!"

"SHUT UP!!!" came a raging voice from above.

Looking up at the source of the voice, even Slayer and Logan were surprised at what they saw. It was none other than the one person who feared Warlord Xin most...Ororo Munroe. The weakened minions allowed her to break through and plow her way towards the source of so many nightmares. And with emotions running high, her powers ran at the force of a super typhoon...Focusing entirely on Xin.

"YOU CRUEL EXCUSE FOR JUNGLE SHIT!" she yelled as she hit the ancient being with an F5 tornado and a plethora of lightning strikes, "I'M SICK OF FEARING YOU! I'M SICK OF STILL HAVING NIGHTMARES ABOUT YOU!"

Warlord Xin kept trying to fight his way through the raw, unabated force of Ororo's weather powers, but he was having little success as his armor and sword conducted the lightning and further weakened him.

Over with the others, Xin's minions were beginning to fall apart. Several were starting to literally dissolve into dust. Their master's weakness was just too much for them to handle and there was no stopping the unseen onslaught.

"Hey! They're starting to retreat!" exclaimed Bobby, growing more confident as the vast army began dissolving right before his eyes.

"Looks like their master can't keep up the charade," said Piotr as he did a ramming style maneuver that knocked the last major clusters out like bowling pins.

"Yeah, these things aren't so tough!" yelled a cocky Dazzler as she watched more minions fall apart, "Cut off the head, the rest of the body bleeds!"

"Well you can write a song about it after it's over, Ali! But let's just finish the job!" said Bobby, already clamoring for a barrel of aspirin.

With Warlord Xin's minions falling apart and the overwhelming force of nature bearing down on him, the noose was tightening around the former Congo killer. He kept trying to overcome the forces of wind and lightning, but Ooro just wouldn't let up...Not as long as she sought to rid herself from nightmares of this beast once and for all.

"Uh...Ya think we ought to stop her?" said Logan, still standing on the sidelines as he watched Warlord Xin take more punishment.

"If you want to, be my guest," said Slayer with a slight laugh, "But I think your little windrider has been spending too much time around you. Guess, wildmen make her hot."

That earned the mutant warrior a scorn from Wolverine, but much to his surprise, he didn't retort. Now was not the time to get into arguments about his personal life. But he had to admit, Ororo sure did give his berserker rage a run for its money with the level of punishment she was inflicting on this madman

"GET OUT OF MY NIGHTMARES! GET OUT OF MY HOMELAND!" she screamed as she hit him with more lightning, "YOU'VE CAUSED ENOUGH SUFFERING! NOW YOUR REIGN OF TERROR ENDS HERE!"

However, despite Ororo's seemingly endless barrage, Warlord Xin just kept going. He wouldn't fall, even to the forces of nature. His shadowy form took all the punishment she dished out and eventually the young weather which began to wear herself out.

"You poor, pitiful child..." he grunted, his hand now glowing in a dark bluish haze, "You really think your nightmares will go away once I'm through with you?"

Then, in a show of his tenacity, Warlord Xin concentrated what energy he had left on a single blast of shadow magic. It came in the form of a glowing orb that shot through the air like a bullet and once it hit Ororo, she was overcome by a paralyzing force.

"Ahhhhhhhhhh!"

"Ororo!" yelled Logan as he ran over to catch her in his arms before she hit the ground.

Once she was down, the winds and lightning stopped. Warlord Xin was reeling, but he was far from defeated. He was barely standing now as he stared Slayer down, ready to continue the fight. But in his weakened state, the advantage lay with his enemies.

"You...I swear...I'll kill you!" he said in a deep rage, gripping his sword firmly.

"You're losing your edge, Xin," quipped Slayer, "You may have been able to overcome me, but do you think you'll be able to do that now in your current state?"

Warlord Xin let out another grunt, showing that he had little intention of stepping down. But soon, he was met with another crisis as the last of his minions fell.

"Finally! You're out of playmates dude!" said Bobby as he, Piotr, Kurt, and Alison joined up with Slayer, Logan, and Ororo, "So how's this going to go down?"

"You can either come quietly or we can do this the hard way, comrade," said the imposing Russian Colossus.

"Face it pal! You lose!" shot Dazzler, her body sparking with rainbow colored energy.

Warlord Xin knew he was in a bind. He was outnumbered, outgunned, and in a state of great weakness. He was couldn't summon another army and if he dared to fight on, he would surely not succeed.

Yet still, he carried a poise of confidence, his red eyes glowing brightly as he laughed at his pestilent foes.

"You pathetic mortals...You really think that destroying me is going to change anything? You may have overcome my armies, but we'll endure the same fate! Any minute now, Horus and Phoenix are going to turn this world into cosmic dust! Face it, you lose...We all lose!"

"Oh don't be so sure about that, Xin," said Slayer with a sneaky grin as the mark over his eye glowed a bright yellow color.

The X-men cast the mutant warrior a curious glance and were about to ask him what was going on, but before they get the first words out, the whole structure started to shake and two deafening cries echoed from high in the sky.

"Oh no..." said Kurt as he and the others looked up at the sky above in a daze, "Slayer, is zhat who I think it is?"

"You'll see," said Slayer, still grinning, his all seeing eye telling him everything he needed to know.

In the skies above, the darkened clouds that had swirled overhead from the ritual broke and a wave of fiery light came bursting through the gaping hole in the top of the temple.

"Ahhhhhhhh!" yelled Warlord Xin as he felt the burn from the intense light.

Through the loud cries echoing from the sky, two beings descended into the temple. They were surrounded by the flames of Phoenix and Horus, two entities with the power to create and destroy. And in the mortal vessels of Scott Summers and Jean Grey, they held one another's hand, having found what they had been searching for after so many years.

But before their quest ended, they had some personal business to take care of.

"Warlord Xin...Your time has come."

"No...No, this can't be!" yelled the jungle clad madman as he fell to his knees at the mercy of the two cosmic entities.

"You used me, Xin. You sought only to take this grand power and use it for your own greedy purposes. You inflicted harm upon me...Upon my mortal vessel, Scott Summers...And most of all, upon the people he loves and cares about."

"You...You're going to..."

However, before Warlord Xin could finish, Phoenix cut him off.

"You're presumptions are all but delusion at this point, Xin. You thought we wouldn't find our missing pieces. You thought we would be corrupted by experiencing the chaos of mortality. But you were wrong...Dead wrong."

"Impossible! You can't master mortal feelings! According to the ancient texts, you should have gone supernova by now!" yelled Warlord Xin in defiance.

It was a strange sight, seeing this once strong being beg. But for Slayer and the X-men, it was a welcome sight. Warlord Xin had inflicted enough pain upon the world and no one knew that better than Horus. And for that reason, his reign would end here.

"You're right. We should have. But before we could, I learned something that one can only learn after having experienced to joys and sorrows of a mortal mind. You don't control your feelings...Your feelings control you. It is only a matter of finding and accepting a little thing called balance."

With nothing else standing in their way, Phoenix and Horus worked together to carry out their final judgment on Warlord Xin. Working together as one, they raised their hands and summoned their cosmic powers to end this.

"No...No! Please!" begged the tyrannically warlord.

His pleas went unnoticed as he was levitated into the air by the power of Phoenix and Horus. And with a single thought over the divine forces they commanded, the two legendary birds finally ended Warlord Xin's reign once and for all.

"No...NO! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

Engulfed by the bright cosmic flames of creation and destruction, the immortal master of shadows, Warlord Xin, was burned into countless ashes and torn apart. His disembodied spirit was scattered in all directions via cosmic force, ensuring that he would never take his sinister form and command his insidious army ever again.

Now, it was over. Warlord Xin had been vanquished. He was gone and he was never coming back. However, that still left one major problem. And after what they had just seen, it was unclear what was going to transpire next.

"Well, we beat Warlord Xin," said Logan as everybody stood behind Slayer, the two fiery deities still hovering before them, "Now we've got these two to deal with."

"Guess it was nice while it lasted," muttered Bobby, "Any ideas Slayer? Because after what I just saw, I think we sure could use another miracle right about now."

*************************************************

AN: Well, Warlord Xin is defeated! But the power of Horus and Phoenix remains as strong as ever! It's almost over folks! Stay tuned to see the final conclusion of "Eternal Flame!" What's going to happen to the X-men? What's going to happen to Scott and Jean? You'll find out soon enough as this story concludes in the final chapter! But before that comes, I'd love to know what you all think! Please send me your reviews of this story via email or post them on the fanfiction website! Thank you all very much for reading and I wish you all the best!

THE END IS NEAR! REVIEW BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!!!
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