170 Pages

Class: Story
Status: Incomplete
Author: AnonymousPseudonym
Availability: The Path of Fate can also be found here.
Author's Notes: This is my first story, so tell me how well you like it.

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Chapter 1: The City of AmaraaEdit

Zardi walked home on a cold, wintery night.  She stepped lightly through the wet snow that settled on the streets.  Passing by the empty market stalls, she watched the small, intricate snowflakes travel through the air as if there was nothing to worry about.  

"Zardi!" a voice called.  "Zardi!"

"I'm here, mother!" She replied.  Her mother stepped out of a nearby doorway that lined the road.

"Zardi, where have you been? Nonna was worried sick!"

"Sorry, mother, I ran into trouble with the Baron's guards."

"Again? Swezardia, you must be more careful."  Zardi's mother, Joanne, was the only one who regularly called her by her real name.  All of Zardi's friends, though they were few, called her either Zardi or Zarzar.

As Zardi stepped into the dimly lit dwelling that she called home, her mother told her, "We have been waiting for you. There is important news that you must know."  They sat down on a couch as Nonna walked over to shut the door.  A fire burned in a corner of the two-room home.  A delicate rug lay in the center of the room, and an old wooden rocking chair swayed near the east wall, frail and worn though it was.  Zardi's grandmother, who she called Nonna, was in surprisingly good health for her age.  Nonna sat in the old chair as Zardi asked Joanne, "News, mother?"

"Yes, Swezardia, news of great importance."

Chapter 2: The Book of KamnaalEdit

"Zardi," her mother asked,"do you remember when your father and grandfather were taken by the Maelstrom?"

"Yes mother," She replied. "But what do you want to tell me?"

"We...have recived word from your father."  Tears welled up in Zardi's eyes.  The Baron took all of the men as prisoners after he dominated the city's defences.  Joanne handed her a letter.  It read:

Dear family,

I am being held at the great fortress of Kamnaal. I wish to tell you that I am still alive. The Baron allowed me to send you this letter, so I will make the best of it. Kamnaal is a towering black castle that sits on an island which moves and shifts to the Baron's will. It is impossibe to find without a special book, The Book of Kamnaal. The Book of Kamnaal is guarded by a huge serpent, Asmodeus, on the Black Isle. I will not give you directions because I do not wish you killed. I would like Joanne to tell Zardi who I really am.

Love you all,

~ Your father.

"Who he really is?  Mother, what does he mean?" Zardi asked.

Nonna replied for Joanne, "Swezardia, before you were born, your father was the leader of the Nexus force.  His name was Duke Exter."

Chapter 3: EscapeEdit

Zardi crawled up the ladder into the loft.  The loft was her sleeping quarters and contained a straw mattress in the far corner accompanied by a dresser with a mirror on top of it.  She looked in the mirror and sighed.  She knew what she had to do.

Zardi listened until her mother and Nonna left to sleep in the second room.  Then she opened the dresser and took out a pair of scissors.  A few minutes later, she stared at her waist-length hair on the floor.  Zardi Rashid, the one who prided being a girl, now could pass for a boy.  She wrote a note telling Joanne and Nonna that she must leave to try and save Father. 

Zardi climbed down the ladder with her life savings, twenty-four shalli (equal to about one-hundred American dollars).  As she reached the last rung, she heard a voice behind her, "Swezardia, you will need this."  Zardi turned in surprise, and in doing so she nearly fell off the ladder, but steadied herself.

She climbed down to see Nonna holding a bow and quiver.  "Aren't you angry?" She inquired.

"No." Nonna replied, "I figured you would leave, so I came to give you this."  She held out the bow and quiver.  "Your father was going to give it to you the night he was taken."

Zardi accepted the present.  She slung the quiver over her shoulder.  It fit perfectly.  Zardi held the bow in her hand.  She felt comfortable, like she was meant for this.  Zardi did not know where the Black Isle was, or how to get there, but she would find out... somehow.  "But I have no training," she told Nonna.

"You will know how when the time comes," Nonna replied.

"Then so be it," Zardi stated. "I am ready."

Zardi Rashid stepped out the door.

Chapter 4: Captain DwainEdit

The first thing Zardi felt was the extereme cold of a blizzard.  The flurry that floated gently to the groud earlier had become a howling white-out.  After a few hours since curfew, only the Baron's guard populated the streets.  Zardi avoided them cautiously because the punishment for anyone seen after curfew was death.  That was only the first way for Zardi to stop before she started.

She meandered through the alleys without a plan or help, but Zardi knew every lane and alley like the back of her hand.  Six blocks away from her house, she nearly stumbled into a guard who was wandering the trash-littered side street.  Zardi darted behind a garbage can as the soldier's pike brushed her arm.  She stifled a cry of pain, and the man turned.

All the curfew guards had sensitive hearing, even in the noise of a snowstorm.  Zardi held her breath, and he passed by mumbling to himself about stupid mice.  Ever since the Baron captured the city of Amaraa, modern technology had been outlawed and also was punishable by death.  Zardii sighed; almost every crime was punishable by death.

Zardi weaved through the streets now, but she made use of the shadows.  The blizzard was much fiercer than it was in the alley.  She bumped into an older boy, and he turned.  "What are you doing out after curfew?" she hissed.

The boy replied, "I was about to ask you the same."  Zardi recognized him; his name was Kadeem.

"Zardi?" he whispered, "You look like a boy."

"I'll ask you once more: What are you doing out after curfew?"

"I'm running away."

Zardi replied confusedly, "Why?"

"I had a good life before, but now that my father is gone, my mother thrashes me for no good reason."

"Oh.  Well, I'm leaving to rescue my father.  I have no ship to sail away on.  Do you?"

"Yes.  A man named Captain Dwain is shipping me away to the Black Isle."

"The Black Isle? That's where I need to go!"

"I'm sure he will accept an extra worker."

"Then let's go."

They stepped out of the shadows to find an entire squad of curfew guards with Maelstrom glowing in their eyes.

Chapter 5: The Curfew GuardsEdit

"Run!" Zardi yelled.

"You think I don't know that?" Kadeem replied as they dashed for the docks. 

They turned into a shadow-filled alley.  The curfew guards followed.  Zardi and Kadeem backed into a stone wall.  Zardi unslung her bow and slipped an arrow out of the quiver.  She noticed a ladder that clung to the home on her right. "Up the ladder!" She ordered.

Kadeem needed no further bidding.  He bolted up the frail ladder as if it were a tree.  Zardi followed him, but the guards weren't stupid.  They too, scaled the ladder in seconds.  Zardi jumped to the next roof and the next, but the curfew soldiers were closing the gap.  Zardi stopped and notched an arrow onto her bow.  She would need to take careful aim... Hissss, thud!  A guard fell off of the roof.  The others stared at her in shock.  One of them moaned,

"Barry, poor Barry.  What did 'e ever do to harm anyone?" 

Kadeem yelled behind her, "Zarzar, come on!" 

She dashed after him as the angry cries of the curfew guards rung out behind her.

Chapter 6: The ShadowEdit

Zardi bolted for the nearest ladder and climbed down.  Kadeem followed her.  They had lost the guards...for now.  "When did the captain say he would leave?" she wondered.

Kadeem replied, "Two in the morning."

"After curfew? That's illegal!"

"Exactly. You see, Captain Dwain is a professonal smuggler."

"He'll get us all killed!"

"The Shadow isn't called The Shadow for nothing."

"The Shadow?"

"His ship."

The cathedral bell in the town square tolled out two o' clock as they arrived at the docks.  The bell sounded eerie as the white and black of blizzard and night crept around them in a dark manner.  They came upon a pich-black ship that loomed over them like a lion ready to pounce.

"There she is.  The Shadow." Kadeem told her.  Zardi whistled.  The small hull gave The Shadow a sleek design, and three dark masts towered over them against the black of the clouds.  Kadeem climbed up a mooring rope and stood up on deck.  Zardi followed him.  She saw a tall figure standing ihn front of a meanacing but kind looking crew.

"Who are you?" the tall figure asked.

"Zethen." she answered.  Zethen would be her name from them on.  The man turned to Kadeem.

"I thought I told you to come by yourself."

"He's a hard worker sir."

"Very well." he said, "I am Captain Dwain, Captain of The Shadow.  Welcome to my crew."

Chapter 7: Return of the Curfew GuardsEdit

"Zethen, meet my crew: Darci, Kajjsen, Iigho, Feston, Hakdeth..." Captain Dwain rattled off their names with a fluent, foreign accent. "Maico, Maiiso, the twins, and Raecen.  Men, prepare to sail for the Black Isle!"  A quiet cheer arose from the crew as Captain Dwain began to order them to their places.  "Maico and Maiiso, ready the tiller.  Darci and Hakdeth, Unfurl the mizzen!"  A cry arose from the docks.

"There them rascals be!  They're on that there boat!" 

Captain Dwain looked confused for a moment, but he soon recovered and immediately took the tiller so that the twins could lend an extra hand.  The guards on the docks started to climb the mooring ropes when Captain Dwain barked an order.

"Cut the mooring ropes!  She'll catch a wind soon enough in this weather!" 

Maico and Maiiso ran to cut the ropes.  When they were done, six guards were floating in the freezing winter water.  The others were occupied with the task of hauling them out.  By the time they were done, The Shadow was about a mile out to sea with  a cold wind at its back.

Chapter 8: The Night PredatorEdit

Zardi took a deep breath.  They had escaped the guards, but one of them was sure to tell the baron.  No ship had ever outsailed him.  A yell arose from the towering crow's nest.

"We're being followed Captain!" 

Zardi scrambled to see who was chasing them.  When she looked over the stern, she let out a gasp.  About a mile away, a massive galleon towered into the sky.  It's five masts marked it as a supreme command vessel.  As it gained, Zardi could discern the outline of a sixth and seventh mast.  Kadeem stood next to her. 

"It's the baron's personal ship, isn't it?" he asked. 

Zardi nodded, "The Night Predator."

The enormous galleon was closing the distance.  Zardi stared at it.  A light neared the front of the ship.  Zardi squinted.  She could see a figure...two figures.  Zardi stared harder.  One of those figures wore a cloak.  It was the baron himself.

"Incoming!" Darci yelled. 

Zardi ducked.  She heard a whistle materialize out of the air.  Thud!  The deck in front of Zardi burst into flames.  Maico and Maiiso hurriedly put the blaze out, but more came.

"Fire arrows!" Kadeem yelled, "We're doomed!"

Chapter 9: Fire ArrowsEdit

Raecen ran up behind them.

"Can you use that thing, boy?" he asked.  Zardi had almost forgotten the bow and arrows.

She replied, "Don't call me boy! You're the same age as I am! Of course I can use it!"

"Then you'd better."  Zardi unslung the bow, notched an arrow, and took aim...

"Wait! use this!" a voice called out from behind her.  She turned to see the ship's cook, Feston, holding a pan filled with cooking grease.

"Dip your arrow in it." he said, "Then light it on fire." 

Zardi doused the arrow in the grease and lit it on fire with the matches he handed her.  Zardi notched the arrow and, for the second time, took aim.  Hisss... The arrow splashed harmlessly into the water.  Zardi repeated the procedure with another arrow.  The aft sail was in flames that glowed against the night sky.  The snow had stopped falling, but a cold, biting wind blew fircely against the ship.  Zardi adjusted to the wind and pointed the arrow at The Night Predator's hull...

Chapter 10: HailfireEdit

Hissss Thud!  Zardi's arrow hit the direct center of the mizzen sail as an updraft caught the fire arrow.  Both ships were about six miles out to sea.  As the baron turned around to see what was happening, the mizzen sail burst into flames.  Sailors tried to climb the rigging with pail of water, but they were driven back by the blaze.  The Shadow and The Night Predator were both in flames.  As The Night Predator sunk, a cold rain burst out of the clouds and extinguished the flames on The Shadow. A cheer arose from the crew.  Baron Typhonous plunged into the sea, vowing revenge.

~...Ten days after the battle...~

Zardi strolled casually on the gun deck.  As she thought, Kadeem yelled down from the top deck.

"Zethen! The captian wishes to see you!"  Zardi climbed up the ladder and walked to where Captain Dwain was standing.

"Yes captain?"

"Zethen, I have not had the proper time to thank you for saving my ship."

"It was only my duty."  

Captain Dwain sighed, "True, quite true."  Zardi turned to see Raecen standing behind her.  Over time, he had grown to hate Zardi.

"Captain, could we speak in private?"

"Yes.  Follow me."  He led her to his cabin and closed the door.

"What is it you wish to tell me?"

"I...I am a girl."  Dwain stared at her in confusion.

"Tell me everything."  Zardi told him her tale up to the point where she boarded the ship.

"We should keep the secret of your gender between us.  Some of the crew are very superstitious."


"Yes.  It is supposed to be bad luck to have a girl on a voyage. Raecen is the most superstitious.  He wouldn't even let me take less than fourteen crew members, but a girl is the worst luck of all."  Outside the conversation, Raecen took his ear off the door and bolted up the ladder.

Chapter 11: HurricaneEdit

Zardi was learning to steer a ship with Captain Dwain.  The cool breeze brushed against her face, and The Shadow was only a few days journey from the Black Isle.  Raecen had resented her more and more since her meeting with Captain Dwain.

"Captain?" she wondered.


"Why does Raecen hate me? He couldn't possiby have heard us talking in your cabin."

"I have no idea." Over time, Dwain had almost become like a father to Zardi. Almost.

"But he's always so...big, and he makes me feel little."

"No one ever feels big in a hurricane."

"Hurricane, captain?"

"Yes." Captain Dwain pointed out the dark-blue clouds that were gathering on the horizon.

Chapter 12: AsmodeusEdit

After seven days of battling the hurricane, the crew of The Shadow had nearly given up. Raecen had held secret meetings with a few rebellious sailors, telling them about Zardi. Raecen and his gang were planning to throw her overboard. On the eighth night, they did exactly that. Zardi was pacing the top deck; she was on night watch. Raecen crept up behind her and gave her the slightest shove, whispering in a barely audible tone,

"I'm sorry."

Zardi plunged overboard. She turned around to catch a glimpse of The Shadow breaking apart as the wrath of nature beset upon the helpless ship. Zardi was washed underwater.

Zardi awoke on a black, lava-formed beach. She looked up and observed her surroundings. Islands dotted the ocean behind her. A dense wooded land streched for miles until it reached the foot of a mountain at the center of what she presumed to be an island. Zardi heard a rustling sound in the woods. A hiss emitted from the dense woodland.


She knew that name. It was the name that sent a shiver down her spine as she read the letter from her father.


The rustling sound was closer now. Then a mounserous serpent rose above the treetops. Green, reptillian scales glistened in the sun, and hypnotizing, yellow eyes seemed to glow as fangs that dripped deadly vemom protruded from his open mouth. The snake was obviously obsessed with his own name.

"Asmodeus. Asmodeusssssss."

Zardi could not bear it any longer. She passed out.

Chapter 13: WarwingEdit

Zardi found herself in a large nest. The nest was high in the mountains, and the clouds floated below her. She found it harder to breath in the thin air.

"Hiya! You wake up!"

Zardi screamed. Standing behind her was a huge, white bird.

"A…talking bird?"

"You not from here, yes? I Warwing, daughter of King Flight-claw."

"You language is close to mine."

"Yes! I finda you near Poison-tooth foot-track! You my work-slave!"


"Poison-tooth say alla time: Asmodeussss. Killie! Killie all!"

By now, Zardi understood a few things: First, the bird's language was extremely close to Zardi's native language. Second, she was supposed to be Warwing's slave. Third, the bird knew something of Asmodeus.

"I take it you hate Asmodeus."

"Yes! Poison-tooth killie mama when Warwing just egg-chick."

"I'm sorry."

"Not your fault."

"True, but I have come to take something in his lair. I'll kill him if I have to!"

"You killa Poison-tooth! Warwing helpa you!"

Chapter 14: KadeemEdit

Zardi was flying far above the treetops on Warwing's back. The lush, green landscape seemed to wash behind her as if it were an ocean.

"Hiya! I see another you down there!"

Zardi looked toward the beach. A small figure was stranded near the surf.

"Warwing, let's go for a closer look."

As they flew nearer, Zardi recognized the face.

"Kadeem!" she yelled.

Kadeem looked up and waved. After landing, they each exchanged a flurry of greetings and introductions. Zardi told Kadeem her tale, and Kadeem told her how he washed upon the shore after The Shadow was destroyed. Warwing carried them upon her back as she flew them to the serpent's lair. They landed near a boulder that jutted out of the ground.

"Entrance-ground! None of my clan ever opened it!"

Zardi strode up the rock. There was words carved on one of the rock's flat surfaces. She read them to Kadeem and Warwing:

Answer the riddle to gain entrance. Carve you answer into the rock. You only have one try.

                        My first is in danger but not in fear,

                        Next in far, and in near,

                        I have no mouth, cannot speak,

                        I have no ear, cannot be heard,

                        I cannot be touched, but can be seen,

                        I install fear in those who gaze upon me,

                                       Who am I?  

Chapter 15: UndergroundEdit

They pondered the riddle for hours. Zardi usually thought aloud.

"My first is in danger, but not in fear." she said.

"Guys I've got it!"

Zardi and Warwing turned to stare at Kadeem.

"Look here. There's three letters in danger that aren't in fear. D, N, and G. So the first letter must be one of those."

Zardi smiled.

"As for the next line, R and A are both in near and far."

Now it was Kadeem's turn to stare.

"So, we toy with letters, yes?"

"Yes, Warwing," Zardi said, "Good idea."

They made letters with sticks and set them on the ground.

|} |\| G

/-\ R

They began to suggest solutions rapidly.




"Dar...Dar...I've got it!" Zardi yelled.

"What?" Kadeem asked.

"Darkness! It conforms with the fist two lines, and it fits perfectly with the last lines. Especially the very last line."

"That must be it."

"Yes! Very good riddle-solver, no?"

Zardi carved Darkness into the rock with one of her arrows. The boulder began to grind and rumble. It rolled back to reveal a large tunnel that continued into complete darkness.

"Now I know why Asmodeus used that riddle to gain access to the tunnel." Zardi said, "It's full of it."   

Chapter 16: The CanoeEdit


They had been searching underground for hours, but no sign of the origin of that dreadful hiss showed itself.


Water dripped from the ceiling of the cavern, shattering the eerie silence with its splashing.

"Asmodeus. Asmodeusssss."

They reached a large lake with an island centered in the middle. The water around it glowed with a florescent yellow. A strange object floated near the island. It didn't move.

"No," Zardi thought, "It's moving slowly."

She was right. It was coming closer, closer. They stood there, watching.


The object reached the shore with a short scrape. Zardi noticed what it was. It was a canoe. A creature exited the boat and warbled towards them. Still, they all stood there, staring.

"The Keeper? Is that you?"

The figure was an old man.

Chapter 17: The KeeperEdit


"The Keeper?" Zardi wondered, "Who is that?"

"The Keeper," he said, "Ah, yes, The Keeper. For fifty-seven years I have lived in this forsaken place, dodging the serpent, living off of whatever fish I can catch, but The Keeper still hasn't come to me. You see, no one can hold the book except for The Keeper. The Book of Kamnaal contains much power. Enough power to transport one to anyplace in existance. Perhaps it contains more than that. The book will choose it's own Keeper; it will choose one who will not stop at anything achive a goal. No one else can use the book's magic."

Silence followed, with, of course, the exception of the serpent's hiss.


Zardi was annoyed by that name. If she failed now, it would haunt her until the end of time.

"Let's go find Asmodeus." she told her comorades.

Her voice echoed through the cavern, and a rumble filled the room. They would never find Asmodeus.

He had found them.

Chapter 18: BookEdit

It was Kadeem's first sight of Asmodeus. After walking in a dark tunnel for hours to see a giant serpent with hypnotic eyes, he didn't feel like he made a good first impression.


The serpent slithered out of a second entrance. They each caught only a glimpse before Asmodeus disappeared into the lake. Asmodeus rose nearby, snapping the canoe in two. They all did the first thing that came to mind: run.

"You cannot run from Asmodeusssss."

The serpent followed them down an unexplored tunnel. Zardi noticed a gleam of blue light at the end. If only they could reach the outdoors, they might stand a chance.

"They cannot sssssteal the book of the ssssserpent. Asmodeusssss."

Zardi emerged into another room. It was a dead-end. The shaft of blue light originated at a hole in the ceiling. Too high to reach. Too hard to climb. As the old man came hobbling down the tunnel with a brisk pace, Zardi noticed something floating in the light. It was the Book of Kamnaal.

Warwing was there first. She snatched the Book out of midair, just as the serpent entered.

"Return the Book of Asmodeusssss, and you will all have quick deathsssss."

"Warwing killie snake! Killie evil one!"

The Book glowed brighter and brighter. It shone with an intense light as Asmodeus recoiled for a strike.

Warwing was the Keeper.

Chapter 19: Sssserpent's deathEdit

Zardi could only watch as The Book grew into a double-edged sword. Asmodeus hissed in anger.

"I will sssssmash you as I did your mother. Asmodeusssss."

Warwing glared at Asmodeus as fury shone in her actions. She rushed Asmodeus with the light of battle gleamed in her eyes. Warwing yelled a warcry as she struck.


The sword flashed as it pierced green scales. She withdrew and turned for a second strike. Long forgotten, the old man cowered behind a boulder.


The serpent lunged past Zardi. He crashed to the ground and lay still. Asmodeus would never rise again. The old man crept out of his hding place. He and Zardi began to cheer. Then, he stopped. Zardi turned. She gave a cry of dismay.

Two bite marks stood upon Kadeem's arm. He was already begining to fade away.

Chapter 20Edit

Zardi and Warwing rushed to Kadeem's side. He already moved slowly as if he was in a trance. Zardi moaned. After all they had been through...

The book began to glow a deep red. Slowly, it floated out of Warwing's claw and hovered over Kadeem for a few seconds. Then, with a flash of white light, it dissapeared. Kadeem rose unsteadily, magically cured by the book's action. Zardi was overjoyed, but when she noticed what lay before them, Zardi began to get nervous. Somehow, the book had transported them to the Fortress of Kamnaal. It stood before them, pure black. Most of it was not visible because mist surrounded it.

The book was not there. Neither was Warwing.

Chapter 21: Lost and FoundEdit

Zardi was devastated. She and Kadeem had searched for Warwing from dawn until dusk, but their search turned out fruitless. Zardi resided on the dry sand near the fire as Kadeem took first watch.

It was about midnight. The fire was almost all coals, and it glowed a strong red color.

That was when it happened.

At least fifty Stromling Guards charged from the fortress. The camp was surrounded in seconds. By this time, Zardi was wide awake and ready for her final battle. She was about to brain the nearest Stromling when she halted suddenly.


It was The Shadow's crew.

As if they had planned it, Dwain and his men formed a protectve ring around the two comarades. The attacking Stromlings hesitated in suprise. The Shadow's crew used this to their advantage.

It was all over in seconds.

After many happy reunions, they all rested in peace. Those who took watch never found the need to raise the alarm.

Zardi enjoyed the peace, knowing that tomorrow would bring a turn of events when the fortress' occupants discovered that their raid had failed.

Chapter 21: Inside KamnaalEdit

A panoramic dawn arose over the misty ocean, enveloping the Island of Kamnaal in a quilt of light. Zardi opened her eyes, and breathed the fresh ocean air. A lone seagull screeched it's cry. No other birds sang their tunes on the Island of Kamnaal. It was silent beauty. The scent of roasting fish was suspended in the air, and Zardi was drawn to it.

While Zardi was eating, Dwain spoke up.

"You have the night watch to thank for this. As they caught the fish, it helped them to keep awake."

A cheer was raised to the night watch for the fine fish. Dwain voiced himself again.

"Alright now, today, you listen to Zardi. She's going to rescue her father, and we're helping her. Do you hear?"

A synchronized "Aye aye!" rent the air. Even Raecen was ready to lend a hand.

They had split into three groups. One would guards the camp, another would scout the island for food, and the third party would attempt to gain entrance to the fortress. Zardi commanded the third group, and Kadeem stayed at the camp while Dwain traveled with the second group.

Zardi marched along with her party. They were few, only ten in number, but they were the fastest of Dwain's crew. Despite the speed, they did not see the maelstrom bolts dash out of the sky until it was too late.

Zardi woke on a cold, wet, stone floor. She was in a massive dark hall. Twenty-foot cobwebs stretched across the corridor, and a mist floated high above her, shrouding the ceiling.

Two figures stood facing away from her. One had blonde hair, and the other wore a top hat and cape. They turned around. One was her father. The other was him.

Chapter 22Edit

Zardi studied the them more closely. Something wasn't right. The cloaked figure held some sort of staff in his hand.

They advanced in unison.

Zardi could just make out her father, but why was he standing next to that obviously evil man?

Then, it dawned on her.

A small, black streak disrupted her father's blonde hair. In place of his blue eyes, purple Maelstrom resided.

A trap. All her work and fighting had led her into a trap.

The cloaked figure raised his staff, and the room began to spin. When it stopped, they were in a tower. The sky overhead indicated that it was a watch tower. A dizzying drop led to the ground below.

"Fool. You thought you could save your father," began the man with the top hat. He was covered in Maelstrom.

"But now I have you," he continued, "Now, I give you a choice. Join us. Join you father."

"Zardi, just accept the Maelstrom," her father stated.

"No!" Zardi yelled. "I won't turn!"

She glared at the one covered in Maelstrom.

"You! I was the one who destroyed your ship! You shouldn't be alive!"

He merely chuckled.

"You are thinking of my most trusted servant, Typhonous. We are often confused, him and I, but we remain two different people on the same side. I am the Darkitect. He is Baron Typhonous. But that's not why you're here. Join us. Take the Maelstrom and join us."

A ball of Maelstrom rolled near her.

"Join us."

Her father echoed the Darkitect's voice.

"Join us."

It was so...appealing. Zardi was on a see-saw. The Darkitect poured all of his Maelstrom charm-speak into his final offer.

"Join us."

Chapter 23: The Path of FateEdit

Zardi's father's eyes concentrated on her.

"You must join us. It is the Path of Fate."

"No! You are lying!"

The Darkitect raised his staff. He spoke, defending the duke.

"A lie? Nay, it is not so. You see, hundreds of years ago, there lived a small, ambitious boy. At the time, he listened to folklore, unlike many wise people. It was rumored, in that time, that anyone who contained the greatest imagination could imagine anything and it would come to reality. Long story short, the boy imagined a staff that contained the future. In other words, it would control Fate. As you might expect, as is common in these fairy-tale type of stories, it came true. This here," he stated, stroking his staff lovingly, "is that same staff, and I am that same boy."

Zardi thought, The Darkitect using Imagination? I don't think I believe him.

"I used this staff," continued the Darkitect, "to change Fate. Now, you have no choice."

If it is true, Zardi thought, then this might work.

Leaping forward, Zardi snatched the staff out of the surprised Darkitect's hand, raised it to the sky, and changed Fate back to its original form. The staff pulled the last of her strength out of Zardi, and she fell backwards. The Darkitect screamed in rage, lashing out at Zardi, and the staff rolled off to the side. Duke Exeter stood away from fight that ensued, bits of Imagination seeming to return to him. Just as the Darkitect had his death grip on Zardi, a glint of blue returned the the duke's eyes. Duke Exeter grabbed the Darkitect and began to battle him. It was a scene of absolute chaos. The duke snatched the staff off the floor, but the Darkitect also made a grab for it, causing it to smash through the tower wall and launch it into flight. The Darkitect made one last grab for his precious staff, and the momentum projected him outward. He teetered on the edge for a second. Zardi held her breath.

Chapter 24: The Darkitect's First and Last FlightEdit