Ivan, Sheba, and Kraden accidentally put the whole world in peril while investigating the buried ruins of the Venus Tribe.
When they had entered for the first time, there was still a little sun in the sky, and the orange light had cast long shadows, making the tomb's interior seem hostile and uninviting. The darkness of night had not improved it at all, especially now that they knew what had been waiting inside.
Ivan went first, the Kikuichimonji held at the ready. He knew full well that it would do him little good if Donn was still inside, but it still gave him a bit of confidence. Sheba walked behind him, her sharp eyes sweeping the darkness, keeping an eye on the corridor ahead.
Fortunately, when they entered the Sword Chamber, Donn was nowhere to be found. It seemed that Donn was off doing something. Perhaps he was busy raising up an army of those things. Ivan shuddered at the thought.
Sheba knelt over the spot where the sword had been, and pressed one hand against the floor. After a few moments she stood up and faced him.
"It's just like I thought," she said, "the binding enchantments are still there. We can use them to seal his sword up again. But there's some bad news, too: we'd need to actually get the sword in here in order to do it."
"Well, that shouldn't be too much of a problem," a voice called out from behind Ivan. He whirled and saw that Donn was standing in the doorway, Bloodbane in hand. Ivan froze as the black blade shimmered quietly in the moonlight.
"I'm impressed that you managed to survive my Elemental, but I'm extremely disappointed in you for coming back here. Really, I'm not sure how you could have been any more predictable," Donn said, taking a few steps forward so that he was standing in the room proper. "And now I've got you cornered."
"Sheba, get ready," Ivan said, settling low and bringing his sword up to a guard position. He had to hope that she understood his meaning; if he'd spoken it aloud, Donn would have heard, and then there'd be no hope at all of this working.
"Oh, are you going to fight me? Come on, boy, it'll be amusing."
"Now, Sheba!" Ivan shouted, leaping forward and bringing the Kikuichimonji up in a great slash. For a moment he hung in midair, and it seemed Sheba had not understood. But them he felt a great gust of wind across his back, and he was rocketing towards Donn.
Propelled by the force of Sheba's wind, Ivan flew into Donn, completing his slash. Donn parried easily, and Ivan could feel the shock of the colliding swords run up his arm. Donn seemed completely unaffected. Ivan landed on his feet and pressed the attack, slashing at his opponent three times more. Donn casually intercepted each blow, sending shock after shock into Ivan's body.
Donn lashed out cruelly with his foot, sending Ivan crumpled to the floor in pain. Donn brought his black sword down in a stabbing motion, and would have put it right through his head if Ivan had not managed to roll out of the way.
Donn was blown backwards by a sudden powerful gust of wind. He fell backwards a few steps before finally steadying himself. He then began advancing slowly on Sheba, marching slowly but steadily headlong into the gale. Sheba doubled and redoubled the power, until Ivan was literally holding on to the stonework to keep from being sent flying, but Donn took no notice of it. He was a rock, unmovable, and the winds broke on him with no effect, save perhaps slowing him a little.
He backhanded Sheba across the face, sending her sprawling onto the stone with a cry. Ivan pulled himself to his feet and launched himself at Donn's back. Donn elbowed him in the gut without even turning around, and Ivan fell once more. Donn's strength was inhuman.
Gasping for breath, Sheba fired a barrage of small lightning bolts, but they were absorbed into Bloodbane's black surface.
"You have to be the absolute slowest group of people I've ever seen," Donn said in disgust. "Didn't you figure out that that wasn't going to work after the first time you tried it?"
He strode forward and kicked Sheba in the ribs. Ivan could hear the snap of breaking bones as her left side collapsed. She skidded several feet across the floor. "Time to end this," Donn said, advancing slowly on her. Ivan pulled himself off the ground and lunged at him again. Donn whirled and met Ivan's blade with his own.
Ivan fought like a madman, trying desperately to break through the prince's defenses, but it was to no avail. Donn deflected a blow intended for his face, guarded against a blow against his legs, and when the next blow came, instead of simply deflecting the cut he set his teeth and sheared clean through the Kikuichimonji's blade. The metal blade fell to the ground in several pieces, leaving Ivan holding a useless handle.
"Idiot," Donn said, giving Ivan a bone-crushing kick to the ribs, "you can't beat this blade! Now you stay down. I'll get to you in a moment." He turned back to Sheba, who was busily crawling away at a painfully slow pace. She was pulling herself along the ground, inch by inch, trying futily to escape. When she felt Donn's shadow fall over her, she stopped crawling and lay there, weeping and holding her ruined side.
"Pathetic," Donn said, and then he took Bloodbane in two hands and drove it through her body into the floor.
There was a brilliant flash of light, and something just at the edge of perception /shifted/.
When the light faded, Donn looked around, confused. Then he tried to pull his sword out of Sheba's body. It didn't move. Alarmed, he stared at it and pulled again and again. Still it didn't budge, and it suddenly released a small burst of psynergetic energy, forcing him to pull his hand away.
Realization, and then rage, dawned over his face. "Bitch!" he shrieked, kicking her body again and again, "Bloody stupid godsdamn bitch! Now I've got to undo those enchantments all over again!"
The sword, Ivan realized. Donn drove it through her body, into the ground beneath, right into where the sword had been held. When the sword was inserted in that ground, the enchantments took hold again, and the sword was sealed. That was why Sheba had been trying to hard to make it those last few inches before he finished her off.
As Donn continued to abuse her body, Ivan slowly rose to his feet. Sheba had died giving him a chance at victory, and he was not going to waste it. If he didn't defeat Donn right now, he'd unlock the seal again and then there was no hope for the world. Nothing could stand against that sword. Maybe during the Golden Age of Alchemy, when there were whole armies of adepts to stand against him. Maybe not even then. But certainly not now, with alchemy only newly unleashed upon the world, and with only a handful of adepts to oppose him.
Ivan felt his ribcage with his hands. They were bruised, and they hurt, but they didn't seem broken. He spit out a mouthful of blood and wiped his chin with the back of his hand.
"Get away from her!" he shouted, pointing at Donn, who turned to face him. "I'm not through with you yet. Let's see how well you fight without that sword, you son of a bitch."