Ivan, Sheba, and Kraden accidentally put the whole world in peril while investigating the buried ruins of the Venus Tribe.
"Who are you? What are you doing here?" he demanded.
"Oh, put that away," the stranger said dismissively. "I've no intention to harm you. I am Prince Donn of the Venus Clan."
"A surviving member? Fascinating!" Kraden exclaimed, stumbling between his two younger companions to get a better look. "How is it that you are still alive?"
"A great calamity came upon my people." The prince said sadly. "My father, the king, knew that it would destroy our civilization utterly, leaving behind only our Lighthouse as proof we ever existed. For this reason, he used all of our people's power to seal me away, so that at least some of our history would live on. Now, please put away your blade. You can see that I am unarmed." Seeing that the boy wore no sword, Ivan slid his own back into its sheath.
"An honor to meet you, sir!" Kraden exclaimed breathlessly. "I am Kraden, a lowly scholar, and these are my friends, Ivan and Sheba."
"The honor is mine, honorable sage. I hope I will be able to aid you in your research."
"Do you know what was written on these tablets?" Kraden asked hopefully. "When we arrived they were already smashed, and I would really like to read them."
"Unfortunately, I don't." the prince answered, looking around the room. "But I do know where you might be able to find more."
It was rapidly growing dark as they walked to the second tomb. Donn had lead them over the sand dunes, with no indication that he knew any better where they were going.
"Do you buy his story?" Ivan asked Sheba quietly as the walked behind Donn and Kraden, who were cahtting merrily.
"I'm not sure." Sheba replied. " I can't see anything wrong with it, but it seems a little..."
"Off." Ivan agreed. "I'm not sure I trust our new friend yet."
Any further discussion was cut off by Donn's announcement that they had arrived.
"Here's where we dig." He declared, pointing to the sand in front of them.
"No need for that," Sheba declared, stepping past him. "I'll clear out the sand." No sooner had she spoken than the wind abruptly picked up. She reached out with her psynergy and molded the air currents, bent them to her will, to produce what she wanted: a tornado. The cyclone formed and began pulling sand from the ground and hurling it to the side. She ran the tornado over the area a few times, until she could see the tomb beneath, and then dispelled it with a gesture. The path now clear, they began their descent to the door of the tomb itself.
Surprisingly enough, there was no protective enchantment holding this one shut. Donn simply walked forward and pushed the doors open. The design of the tomb was different, too. Instead of a long staircase leading into the depths of the earth, there was a short corridor that opened up into a chamber similar to the one they had found Donn in. The intact tablets which circled the room captivated Kraden's interest, but it was what sat within the circle that interested Ivan. In the middle of the floor, on a slightly raised pedestal, a sword was stuck into the ground.
As Kraden began eagerly inspecting the tablets, Ivan walked over the the sword and inspected it. The edge was still sharp, as Ivan discovered when he cut his finger on it, and the blade was ebony black. The stone floor seemed to have molded to it perfectly; there didn't wasn't any hole around it. He gave it a tug, but it refused to come out of the ground.
"Ivan, come over here and have a look at this!" Kraden exclaimed from where he was crouching. Ivan left the sword and joined Kraden and Sheba by one of the stone tablets. Kraden moved his hands along the writing as he translated the ancient script.
"'At the end of the final age," Kraden read carefully, "as alchemy's power grew stronger over us, like the other nations of the world we built a Great Lighthouse to contain its power. We knew that sealing the power of Venus away would leave us bereft of our command over the sand and soil, but it had to be done, for the power wielded by the world's alchemists were too great. But even as the final brick was laid, danger stirred within the land.
"'One man, determined to hold on to the power he felt was his by birthright, forged a great, undefeatable blade. Contained within it was all the power he could muster, and it is said he amplified and trapped the power with the blood of a newborn. When it was complete, it was as black as night, and granted whoever wielded it unimaginable power. He named it Bloodbane, and with it in hand, he struck terror throughout the kingdom. Wherever he went, he left behind nothing but corpses. At last, the King was forced to take action.
"'No number of soldiers or alchemists could stop him, so the King was forced to make a sacrifice. He drew together the combined power of the whole kingdom to seal away the man and his enchanted blade. He sent each to a seperate tomb and buried them. Together they could have escaped easily, but seperate and with the power of Alchemy sealed away, they would remain apart forever.
"'But all Alchemy comes with a price. In exchange for this use of power, the earth reached up beneath their feet and swallowed the entire nation, leaving nothing behind but their great Lighthouse. And as the earth rose up around him, consuming his great castle, the King wept, for he had been forced to kill all those in his charge in order to stop his only son.'"
A sudden chill came over all three. They slowly turned to face Donn, who was standing by the black sword.
"Honestly, what did you expect?" he asked as he pulled the blade out of its pedestal. As the blade pulled out, a blinding flash forced them to cover their eyes.
When they looked again, Donn had the blade in one hand, and was looking at them with utter contempt.
"I don't think I've ever met a more gullible group of fools." He said, all pretense of manners gone. "I'd have killed you when you first released me if my connection to the earth wasn't sealed away with Bloodbane. I would never have been able to dig it up. But this beauty...she called to me. Across the sands and under the earth, she called to me. Led me to her. And now I have no need for you idiots any more." With that, he raised his sword towards them, and the stone under Kraden opened beneath him. He didn't even have time to scream before he fell into the hole, which contracted around him. Both Ivan and Sheba jumped back in horror as the terrible sound of snapping bones began emerging from where he had stood, and finally the hole sealed itself completely, leaving no sign Kraden had ever been there.
"I finally shut the old man up." Donn said gloatingly. "He prattled on so much, I don't know how you stood him."
"You bastard!" Sheba cried, lunging at him. Lightning spit from her hands, but he caught the bolts on his sword, which absorbed them. He casually batted her out of the air with his free arm, sending her crashing into Ivan.
"Oh, please! You'll have to do a lot better than that! It took the power of an entire nation to lock me away before. You two are beneath my notice." He gestured once more with the sword, but this time at the ground between him and them. It shifted and moved, but instead of caving in, it began reaching out. An amorphous shape began pulling itself out of the ground. As it rose , it began taking on a vague shape; hints of arms, legs and a squat head began appearing, but it was huge and monstrous in appearance. "See to them." Donn commanded it. "I have things to attend to."
The creature of stone lurched forward, reaching for them. Ivan drew his sword and put himself between Sheba and the incoming monstrosity. It threw itself forward with sudden speed, but he sidestepped and brought his blade crashing down upon it. The creature was formed of stone, no ordinary blade could have cut it, but his sword was no ordinary blade. He wielded the Kikuichimonji, the last blade forged by the great smith Asura before he died. It could cut through a sheet of iron with ease. Mere stone positively melted befores its edge.
Unfortunately, it did him no good. The Kikuichimonji did cut through its stone limbs, but if it felt any pain it gave no sign. A new arm grew out from the stub his sword had left behind and reached for him. He stumbled backward, and brought the sword up to sever the new limb, but once again it started regrowing almost immediately. The creature was not solid rock, but somehow strangely fluid. Ivan stepped backwards, preparing for another attack.
"Ivan, get down!" Sheba yelled at him, and he complied, ducking low. A blinding burst of lightning shot over his head, impacting against the creature's 'chest'. The creature of stone slid back a few steps but started coming after them once more right away, its stone skin glowing red-hot from the heat.
Ivan felt a jolt of fear as the thing reached for him once more. This thing didn't feel pain, and everything they did to it only slowed it down. He whirled his sword around once more severing another limb, but it rapidly regrew and the other reached for him. He sliced through the other, too, but still the shambling monstrosity pressed forward. He fell backwards, keeping it at bay with his blade.
"Get back!" he shouted over his shoulder as he severed another limb. "Get under the open sky!" Sheba run, and Ivan blasted the creature with a great gust of wind. It was sent flying backwards, landing by Donn's feet. Ivan turned and ran as the creature pulled itself back up and began coming after him, faster than ever.
He joined Sheba where she stood outside the tomb and seized her hand. Understanding, she flowed power from her into him, and he put it to good use. Raising his hand to the sky, he summoned up stormclouds, and soon the sky over the tomb was blotted out by a dark mass of cloud, crackling with sheet lightening. And when the creature pulled itself out of the tomb, he brought it crashing down.
A blinding mass of plasma came searing down upon it. Ivan and Sheba were both forced to shield their eyes as it impacted with the creature of stone. The boom of thunder that followed was deafening and nearly knocked them off their feet.
When the light cleared, and the spots stopped dancing in front of their eyes, they took a look at where the thing had been standing. It was gone. No trace of it remained. The heat had fused all the surrounding sand into glass. But no sooner had Ivan begun breathing a sigh of relief than the glass began shifting. From underneath it, the creature was beginning to reform itself from the sand.
Fear gripped Ivan as it started pulling itself out of the sand. /We can't beat this thing, /he thought as he turned and began running, Sheba only a few steps behind him.