The Gemstone Chronicles – Book 3 – Chapter 1

Theldon Continent, The Under Cave

Dale awoke to darkness.

He tried to move, and collapsed backwards, falling unconscious again. His body was in terrible shape, badly damaged from the battles he had experienced. He was near death. He slipped back into blissful unawareness.

While Dale slept, the world around him came to life. Darkly colored bats flew by, their chittering sweeping through where Dale lay. Drops of clear water trickled down, pooling into a small cave pond where blindfish swarmed. Eerie lights flashed by, as creatures, both big and small, moved around in the gargantuan cave system that Dale slept in.

Dale was currently lying down in a large stalactite, hanging from the ceiling. A perfect globe had been cut out of the stalactite, causing it to have a rather odd shape. Various monsters passed under the unaware Dale, making their way around, to various places.

Soon, silence returned to this portion of the great Under Cave. Time went by, and Dales body slowly regenerated. Hours turned to days, and days turned to weeks.

Dale opened his eyes once more. He was staring at a rocky ceiling, with a sloped surface. He looked around in confusion, wondering where he was. He noticed he was on a sort of sloping ledge, and walked to the side, looking down. There was about a 70ft (24M) drop to the ground, from the level he stood on. He noted that he was in a huge stalactite, albeit one that had a large hole missing from it.

Suddenly, memories flooded back in to Dale, and he fell to the ground, clutching his head in pain.

Instructor Lem, standing resolutely in front of Dale, holding off the hellish red robed figure, telling Dale to flee.
 
Instructor Lem, his body falling to the floor as he died, headless.
 
Myra, his classmate, defending him only to die.
 
Feng, struck down by the red robed monster, smashing to the ground.
 
Feng, dissolving into motes of light, leaving Dale.
 
His friends dying, hundreds of innocents, the walls falling.
 
He remembered.

Dale screamed, waves of Aura crashing into the air around him, sending all the nearby creatures into a fleeing frenzy, shockwaves smashing through the cave. Several other creatures rumbled around, turning towards him.

AAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHGGGGGGGGGGGG
 
I WAS THERE
 
I DID NOTHING
 
I WATCHED THEM DIE
 
AND DID NOTHING
 
THEIR DEATHS
 
MY FAULT
 
PAIN
 
SO MUCH PAIN
 
TAKE IT AWAY
 
PLEASE

Dales mind started to collapse, descending to the brink of insanity. Dale, a 10-year-old child, was not developed enough, and could not accept that his friend’s deaths had not been his fault. The guilt overwhelmed him, causing him to go into a mad rage.

Abruptly, from below, an attributed beast roared out at Dale, threatening to attack. A large, rock covered tiger stood below, giving off a silverish aura. Its hide appeared to be made of blackish grey rocks, and its eyes gave off a deadly gleam. It was glaring at Dale, and suddenly attacked.
It leaped mightily, destroying the rock outcropping. Dale automatically entered the Perfect Balance mode, and landed on the ground smoothly, still clutching his head. He watched passively as the rocky beast launched in the air towards him, aiming to kill.

Dales thoughts greatly accelerated, as he saw his death approaching. Dales mind was trembling, both unwilling and unable to accept reality. Time slowed, reducing greatly, as he watched every detail of the nearly 15-foot long creature fly towards him.

Dales experienced a huge wave of pain, as he suffered through his mental break down. Pain, fear, anger, rage, loss, loneliness, sadness, hopelessness, despair, and rage again flashed through his mind.

As the Rock Tiger neared him, preparing to rip him to shreds, Dale’s conscious self fell away. His mind, under all the recent stresses and pains he had endured, he could not function, and as a result, he did the only thing his childlike mind could, and slept.

A normal human, after ones conscious self fell away to sleep, would normally fall to the ground, unconscious. However, Dale is not a normal human. As his human mind collapsed, and went into a safe rest, his Titan mind awakened.

Survival.

Instinctive survival.

It must live. It cannot let itself die. A threat had appeared in front of it, and must be destroyed.

Dales body lashed out, covered in an iron aura, as his powerful Aura rushed into him. A massive blow crashed into the Rock Tiger, shattering its tough hide, and smashing it into the nearby cave wall, in the small cavern they were in. The Rock Tiger whined piteously as its lifeblood fled its body, and was no more.

Dale pounced on the dead Tiger, ripping meat off its body, and devouring it. His body hadn’t had food in weeks, and desperately needed sustenance. The Silver Metal Core of the Rock Tiger he devoured was eaten as well, swallowed with the meat. Dales instincts took over, as he sat down to gather his strength, the energy in his veins running through constantly, renewing over and over. He was cultivating at all times, become stronger and stronger, his aura growing more and more powerful. He absorbed some of the energy from the Silver Core he had picked up, his Aura starting to acquire a steel like hue.

Dale stalked the massive underground world, called The Under Cave he would later learn, leaving the cavern he was presently in, to find more prey.

Dale was no longer conscious, however. His Titanic instincts taken over, while his inner mind rested, protected from the insanity and pain he had experienced, slowly recovering.

Dale was no longer Dale. He became a creature with a need for power, a creature that lived to grow stronger, to kill powerful enemies and absorb their power. Living by his instinctual urges, he buried his humanity deep in the recesses of his mind, to one day be reawakened.

He became Slayer.

Bristia Continent, Shade enclave

Myra awoke to darkness.

She shifted slightly, moving her hand to her chest, confused. She clearly remembered the red robed monsters arm piercing through her, and being thrown to the side. She remembered death, slowly forcing her unconscious, as she fought desperately against it. However, she had no hole in her chest anymore, and only felt smooth skin, underneath the robe she wore.

She slowly remembered a shadowy figure, reaching his palm, offering a sweet relief from the pain and agony she felt. She remembered taking his hand, and transforming, feeling a cool icy power run in her veins, restoring her body, as she slipped unconscious.

She sat up, looking around. She was lying on a soft linen blanket, in an ancient wooden bed. She glanced around the small room she had awoken in. It wasn’t very large, and had very little furniture. A small desk could be seen in the corner, to the right of her, with several small books on it. The only other piece was a large black dresser, off to the left of her bed. A door was set next to the dresser.

Myra looked down, and realized in shock that the clothes she was wearing weren’t her own! She wore a dark blue dress, set with a beautiful lace pattern, accenting her small figure. She blushed, embarrassed, and quickly stood up. She noted that her skin had taken on a shadowy hue. It didn’t appear too dark, it was more like a sort of layer, or blanket of shadow covering her. However, she could see quite easily through it.

As she was gathering her bearings, she heard a loud knocking at her door, and jumped back slightly. She noted that the roof and a rather low ceiling. Even with her small petite height, barely 5 foot 3, she almost hit her head.

“Co-come in.” She said, looking around nervously. She didn’t know where she was, and was eager to get back to Morn, to assist in the fight.

The Shade Commander walked in the door, his aura spreading a small pool of darkness. However, this pool of darkness seemed quite comfortable to Myra, a welcoming and safe light that provided succor.

She gasped, looking at the man and said,

“You saved me.”

The Shade Commander nodded, his eyes flashing a dark grey.

“I am Commander Yoran Oryx,” He began, with a courtly bow. Myra noticed that she could clearly see past the darkness surrounding him, and made out his physique. He had a cold, handsome face, with a strong chin and dangerous looking eyes. His mouth was covered in a small, warm smile and he continued speaking, “leader of the 9th shade battalion, at your service.”

“Why did you save me?” Myra asked. She had, to her knowledge, never met this man, and was nervous as to what he wanted. She knew very well that she should be dead.

“Can a man not save someone simply to save them?” The commander said, the small smile still on his face.

Myra stared at him, disbelieving. Not only had the shades been slaughtering the defenders, she had absolutely no faith that he had good intentions. Her imagination ran wild, fear filling her heart, picturing her life as a slave, forced to do foul deeds.

“Ah, relax my dear, relax,” The shade said, making a soothing motion with his hands, “No one here is going to harm you. I brought you back for a reason.” He indicated for her to sit down at her desk. Myra kept standing, glaring at him, angry for some reason. His manner was a bit condescending.

“When I found you, you were near death, desperately grasping for any type of energy to live. I shared some of my own strength, granting you a second chance at life. I ask nothing of you, simply live peacefully. You are no longer a human, you are a shade. A small miracle, that is, as well. Most people that try to become a shade in the same manner you did die horribly.” He nodded at her body, gesturing.

Myra realized in shock that he was right. She had been feeling rather odd, and couldn’t place why. She could see through darkness like it was light, aware that it was dark but still able to pierce it. Her body felt stronger, more powerful, and her senses felt more alive. She could faintly sense other shades moving around, hundreds of thousands of them, moving about. She assumed she was in some type of city or army camp. She looked back at the commander, trying to gather her bearings.

“The other reason I saved you is because of your soul. Your soul holds the potential to wield one of the Shade Worlds most powerful Arts, the Frozen Kingdom, Living Hell Art. For centuries, this Art has gone unused, causing untold tension in our realm.” He said, his eyes glossing over passionately, “The Frozen Kingdom, Living Hell Art is the signature Art the ruler of our Enclave must wield. Without a user of it, the 5 shade factions have deliberated and warred against each other for years.” The pain and loss he felt could be palpably seen, emotion rolling off into the shadows.

“It is time for our Enclave to return to its normal state, for the thousands of young shades to stop dying needless, worthless deaths.” The Shade Commander suddenly bowed, taking a knee, “If you agree to aid me in this endeavor, to end centuries of slaughter, I swear by the Darkness that is within me, to serve as your faithful vassal for the rest of my existence.” The air rumbled, as his promise struck home, his dark aura pouring out.

Myra looked at him in shock, unsure what to do. She hesitated, deciding to ask,

“What do you mean? Why do you need me? I don’t understand.”

The shade commander, with a resolute look, began to explain in detail.

In the land of Bristia, there existed 5 Shade Enclaves. They were currently in the 4th Enclave, and Commander Oryx’s home. The 4th Enclave, also known as Moradonya, had been ripped apart over the past centuries, torn by strife and intrigue. The reason being, there was no central ruler to lead the Enclave. Instead, a small council led. Known as the Council of Five, they represented the 5 major factions in Moradonya. Over the years, each faction had offended another, and, because of the lack of a powerful ruler, several extended battles had broken out, causing thousands of deaths.

Shades do not spread like humans do. A shade child may be born once to a family, perhaps every hundred years. So, every shade lost was seen as irreplaceable, in Commander Oryx’s eyes.

Oryx explained how the ruling matron of a Shade Enclave must be a wielder of the powerful Frozen Kingdom, Living Hell Art. Only a user of this Art can sit on the Moradonya throne. A throne that had sat vacant for over 200 years.

However, the requirements for this art were rather extreme, and one needed a very powerful soul, as well as had to be female. Even a powerful soul isn’t enough, however, as you had to have practiced a powerful ice art from childhood, and had to have physically bonded ones soul with the art, replacing characteristics in the soul with the frozen aura of ones energy.

When Commander Oryx found her, he found that Myra, in her desperate reach for energy to heal herself, had used her own Ice Art energy, absorbing its essence into her very soul.

Because of that, her soul had undergone a physical transformation, and was on a completely different level than before.

Myra took all of this knowledge in, a determined look appearing in her eyes. She rapidly understood that she was no longer human, and accepted what had happened to her. Her powerful soul was to account for her rapid acceptance of her fate. She had mentally matured beyond her 13 years, in her desperate grasp for life.

“Very well,” She said, an icy look appearing on her face, “I will accept your request.” Her icy aura leaked out, coloring the dark shadows in her room with frost.

Commander Oryx smiled and bowed, a look of immense determination filling his face, as he led her forward, out of her room, and into the rest of the 4th Shade Enclave.

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