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"This is the heart of evil. Darkness seeps from every pore in the earth. Evil wandering renegades and demons wander the void, killing anything that crosses their path. Worst of all, evil soul-destroying Soul Eaters of Corpse rule the void, devouring the souls in their path. They try to draw everything into their void...and make brutally sure that once you enter, you never, ever leave.

"

Xhrex to Shardak, Twilight Void

Twilight Void is the sixth story in the Xaterex Multiverse Continuity. It details the aftermath of the Veythari Civil War, and tells of the next conflicts in the Xaterex Civil War. It is unknown if this story will be continued, as Varkanax39 has stated that several parts of the story, including the mention of Teridax, are non-canon.

StoryEdit

PrologueEdit

Darkness covered the land around the Core Processor, a half-moon barely illuminating the hacked and twisted bodies that lay below. They were bodies of Toa-heroes who had been cut down by Dagger-Scythes and bodies of sombre, dark-robed Corpsians, but most of all, there were bodies of dead Hand of Mata Nui agents, heroes who had died trying to keep the Shadowy Ones from summoning the Makuta from his dark prison.

Suddenly, clouds, dark as the corpses that lay in the Core Processor below, floated over the moon and stars, obscuring everything in pitch-blackness. All was dark, save the glowing, feral eyes of spectral Corpsians as they glided like phantoms to the edge of the Core Void, where, at the very edge, stood two dark beings. One was a hulking, dark, green armored figure with a gargoyle-like mask, and the other was cloaked all in black and emanated an aura of pure dread. Behind a black and white mask she had two bloodred, slitted eyes. The darkgreen being, Windeus, was issuing orders to a squadron of Limiters of Corpse near the edge of the Core Void. He, too, seemed terrified of the dark entity that stood beside him.

"Find them!" snarled Windeus, his voice cutting at the Corpsians as a Doom Viper tears with poisoned fangs at its prey. "They could not have fallen into the Core."

His dark red eyes fell on the emotionless Corpsians, who continued to search for bodies of fallen Toa.

These dark soldiers were investigating an incedent that had taken place an hour ago, during the Battle in the Core Processor, a battle that had cost the Corpsians the lives of Skorpix, a Shadowy One, and that of a young Corpse girl called Nightshade, who had fallen into the Core Void during the battle.

After Teridax had been summoned from his prison by the combined might of the Shadowy Ones, a group of Hand of Mata Nui agents had attacked the Corpsians in the Core Processor, and an entity had possessed the body of Axonn, defeating the Shadowy Ones. Though the being had abandoned Axonn's body, a Hand agent had hauled Skorpix over the edge of the Core Void with him. Later, the Corpsians had pinned the survivors of the attack under shell fire, and blasted the bodies of the toa into the Core. However, Axonn, mortally wounded, had sacrificed himself to destroy Nightshade, hauling her into the Core Void.

And Nightshade held the ultimate weapon, the Soul-Eating Blade, and if she was dead, the weapon was lost forever in the Core, and the Corpsians needed that blade. It carried Lariska's Elimination Plague within it, a scourge that had nearly depopulated the Matoran Universe before it had been ended by a small group of Toa.

Windeus turned to the Limiters of Corpse. "They're obviously dead. Concentrate all your efforts on finding the Dagger."

Windeus watched for a while as the Corpsians turned over rocks and scouted along the edge of the Core Void, and eventually came to the conclusion that the dagger had died with Nightshade. He breathed a curse.

"It's gone, destroyed with her own life. Return, soldiers." Windeus' voice was tightly calm, betraying none of the raging anger he felt. Without the dagger, there was no way to destroy forever the Toa rebels. All of their plans had hinged on the dagger, and, if they had no way to get it back, their plan would be set back by years. The being who stood beside him, however, betrayed no emotion whatsoever at the news. She simply raised one corpse hand and beckoned an Aspect of Corspe over to report. Unlike the Limiters of Corpse, who were armored in green and black, the aspects were robed in dark garments, and floated like dark spectres rather than walked. In a nasal voice, the Corpsian reported the news emotionlessly.

"No questions it was Axonn, free from possession. He took Nightshade to her death with him.".

Windeus' reply was equally calm. "Do we have any way to recover the dagger?"

"There is a slim, but possible chance that the girl fell through one of the portals into the Twilight Void. If so, the dagger is there. Otherwise, the dagger is gone forever."

Windeus' face was still indecipherable. Send a small patrol of Corpsians into the Core Void. I belive that the entity that posessed Axonn opened the portals to the void in an effort to save the Toa from death. He never was able to close the portal."

His eyes moved off the Corpsian's, dissmissing the Aspect, then turned to Eostra Nihiltian, the nighmare being that chilled his soul with a terrifying, all-consuming dread.

Eostra's voice was nasal and grating. "It is amazing that Axonn was able to overcome Nightshade when he was that wounded."

Windeus' voice cracked with pure terror. "Do we have any chance of recovering the dagger?"

"The being that controlled Axonn opened a portal to the Twilight Void in an effort to save the three toa we killed. It is possible that Nightshade fell through the portal."

"You know, she might have survived down there."

Eostra Nihiltian pressed her mask closer to Windeus', and a fresh wave of dread washed over him. "Do you belive that Axonn would let her live? Because if she survived, he would have, as well. We have a good chance of recovering the Soul Eating Dagger."

Windeus was utterly terrified now. This being before him was the very evilest of all evils, and dread threatened to crush his mind apart.

"The Toa have declared war on us, and will follow us wherever we go." Continued Eostra, but Windeus could barely hear her. He was trapped in a realm of indescrtibable horror that was about to obliterate him from existence.

Eostra Nihiltian raised a single robed arm, and raised a dark black scepter with a glowing, pulsing orb set in the weapon, casting bloodred light over the darkened Core.

"Come, Windeus. It is time for the Twilight Wars to begin."

Chapter 1Edit

At the edge of the Core Void, just out of sight of the dark Corpsians, Atarus watched as the Limiters of Corpse began to disperse, then bowed his head.

He'd watched, helpless, cowering behind a rock beside Axonn, as the Corpse girl Shardak called Nightshade had taunted Gharn, Listra, Blast, and Shardak with the dark Soul-Eating dagger she wore around her neck, claiming it could wipe beings completely out of existence. Gharn had been ruthlessly torn apart by Corpsian soldiers, then he'd watched as Shardak and the others were shelled by Aspects of Corpse and flung over the edge into the bottomless Core Void. Axonn, enraged by the deaths of the innocent Toa, had flung himself into the Core Void, taking Nightshade with him. Although the Toa had won the skirmish and prevented the Shadowy Ones from summoning Teridax, it was an empty victory. So many Hand of Mata Nui agents had been killed in the visious battle, and still more Toa had fallen. Atarus knew they were lucky to have eliminated Nightshade from the war, but Shardak, Blast, and Listra were dead as well. He'd retained a faint hope that Listra had been able to stop themselves from falling into the Core completely, possibly landing in one of the pillars or a Floating Outpost. But as the Corpsians searched the entire area, Atarus knew that there was no chance that they had been able to keep themselves from falling into the Core Void.

Sighing, Atarus turned away from the Core Void and began the walk up the trail that he and Axonn had followed. The Core Processor was completely abandoned now, and all that remained were the corpses of Toa and Corpsians. the dawn was breaking now, giving the bodies an eerie glow. Atarus could barely glance at the battlefield.

So much carnage...and for what? To satisfy the Shadowy Ones' hunger for power? All this because of four lords of evil?

The Elemental Prince was so absorbed in his thoughts that he never saw the being attack. There was a silver blur as Atarus was hit by a staff in the chest, flinging him backward. A gray and silver Rahkshi leaned over him, holding a large spear in both hands. Atarus turned on it, and smashed his blade through the Rahkshi's defense in a single slash. The Rahkshi spun around angrily, swinging its mangled staff, then lashed out.

A ray of psionic power tore through Atarus' mind. The agony sent him reeling backwards, away from his opponent. The Rahkshi of Psionics leered at him, and began to close in. Two other Rahkshi, one a poisonous green color and the other slender and dark closed in on Atarus from either side. Atarus cursed. A Rahkshi of Poison and a Rahkshi of Telekinesis. As the silver Rahkshi leered above him, Atarus fired a pure jet of power at the Rahkshi. The Rahkshi countered with a psionic power, and the attacks met midair, distorting each other. A small part of the blast struck the Rahkshi, but still it came foreward. As Atarus fired another bolt from his staff, he was flung off his feet. The Rahkshi of Telekinesis had flung him against the corpse of a dead toa before he could aim his blast, and it detonated harmlessly off the silver Rahkshi's psionic shield. As Atarus stood and rightened himself, the Rahkshi of Poison broke through his defenses, his staff peircing Atarus' armor. The Elemental Prince began to grow numb as the Rahkshi's poison took effect. Distorted, Atarus flung his sword out, only to have it flung from his grasp by the Rahkshi of Telekinesis. Atarus saw the Rahkshi of Poison readying to strike him again. These are not normal Rahkshi. Atarus thought. They're too coordinated. Too intellegent. As the Rahkshi of Poison struck, Atarus released a blast of concussive energy at the Rahkshi, crushing its face apart. The Kraata tried desprately to free itself from the damaged robot, but could not escape in time and was crushed by the blast. As the half-destroyed machine lept at him, swinging a burning halfspear, Atarus raised his hand and consumed the Rahkshi in fire. However, he was too late to stop the spear, and the point puntured his shoulder armor, the poison entering his body. As the remnents of the Rahkshi fell to the ground, The Rahkshi of Telekinesis turned around and speared him through the leg.

Then it spoke in a dark voice.

"Surrender, Elemental. You cannot hope to stop us."

Atarus was stunned. What is this Rahkshi?

The Rahkshi of Psionics released another mind blast, and Atarus, distracted, did not brace for the pain. As he was distracted, the other Rahkshi flung the Elemental backward. Atarus whipped around as the Rahkshi of Psionics struck him again with its staff, and released another jet of flame. The Rahkshi let out a screech of rage as its staff was burned to shreds. Atarus struck again, this time with the Blade of Atarus, cutting the Rahkshi in the shoulder. As the Rahkshi staggered backward, Atarus released another bolt of light, which crushed the Rahkshi. Wounded badly, the Rahkshi staggered away from Atarus, who was flung away by the Rahkshi of Telekinesis. As the Rahkshi bore down on him, spear raised to crush, Atarus flung the Blade of Atarus away, then aimed his Light Gun and fired four rounds into the Rahkshi's chest. As the Telekenic Rahkshi staggered backward, the Rahkshi of Psionics struck him with another Mind Blast. Atarus raised the Light Gun and fired again, flinging the Rahkshi of Psionics to the ground. The Telekenic Rahkshi grabbed the wounded Psion and flung its spear at Atarus. Atarus dodged, and shot a bolt of lightning at the Telekenic Rahkshi. The Rahkshi turned and flung Atarus against another corpse. He fired back, and their bolts met, flinging both Rahkshi and Elemental backward. There was an explosion of energy, and Atarus sheilded his eyes from the glare.

When he looked again, both Rahkshi were gone.


Blast lay in pitch-blackness. He opened, then closed his eyes. No change. Everything was silent, and his body ached. The toa waited for his eyes to adjust to the gloom, and barely made out another body lying beside him.

"Shardak?" he gasped out, his voice cracking. "Shardak, is that you?"

Seeing his unconsious form brought back the terrible memories that Blast had hoped were a nightmare. Oh, Mata Nui.

It had all been going so well. The Hybrid Hakann was dead, Varkanax defeated, Pridak lost in the abyssal pit...

Then, things went terribly wrong. He, Listra, Shardak, and Gharn had escaped the carnage in the Core Processor, but were confronted by a group of Corpse soldiers. He remembered how the evil Corpsian Nightshade, who had masqueraded as Shardak's sister for eight years, had shown them the deadly Soul Eating Dagger, claiming it could destroy any being with a single cut. Gharn had been murdered on Nightshade's command, then Shardak had tried to flee. The Corpsians charged, and Shardak was forced over the edge of the cliff. He and the Veythari warrrior Listra had tried to save themselves, but stood no chance against the Corpsian legions. During the confusion, he'd managed to haul Skorpix into the Void with him. He'd landed on a strange dark cliff, but the weight of Skorpix's body had pulled him over the edge. He'd fallen into the void, and he'd blacked out.

He should be dead. The Hand of Mata Nui agent Blaze had told them that the Core Void was bottomless. He'd seen the evil Hybrid Balta fall, burning, trapped in a Visorak cocoon, fall there, and never struck the ground. There was none.

Could we have fallen so far that we've ended up below the Core Void? Blast knew it was impossible. Then where were they?

Striding over to Shardak, he bent over him. He was breathing, but his armor was badly dented and his Dual Blades were smashed beyond repair. One foot was badly injured, probably from his fall. Blast winced.

I feel sorry for him. Blast thought. His toa friend is dead, his sister betrayed him, and one of his best freinds had been shot down because he wouldn't surrender to Nightshade. He has experienced horrors just as great as the ones I have lived through. Blast had been imprisoned for years in a pathetic body by Skorpix, the lord of the Corpsians, with no memory of who he was. But none of that could compare to the horror which Shardak felt now. Blast drew his Scythe of Creation, which was thankfully undamaged, and pointed the tip at the Toa.

"Heal" he whispered as a shining arc of light burst from the tip of the blade, coating the unconsious toa in a sheen of golden light. It slowly spread across his body, healing his wounds. Intially, he had not been able to do this, but he had visited the past in a vision given to him by a mysterious being during the Veythari Civil War, and learned his past, as well as many new techniques with the Scythe of Creation.

There was a groan, then Shardak awoke.

"Blast...." He groaned, his voice cracking. Then the memories struck him like a thunderbolt. At the Core Void, Gharn's death, Listra and Blast falling into the Void after him...

Blast drew his Scythe. "Shardak! We're alive! Snap out of it."

"Big deal. Why should we care?"

"Of course we should care. We somehow got away from hundreds of Skorpix's meanies, we stopped Teridax, and Hakann is dead."

"But Nightshade's still out there, with the Soul-Eating Dagger! She'll destroy the Toa race for good and tear apart the Hand! What can we do from here?"

"Listen, Shardak." Said Blast. "Wherever we go, the Corpsians go. They'll eventually figure out we didn't die and come after us."

"And that's supposed to make me feel better?" He asked, his voice horribly raspy.

"It would force the Corpsians to decide their priorities. Either come after us here, or attack the Toa."

"We don't know what they'll do." Shardak pointed out. "They may decide the Toa are the bigger threat."

"I'm not sure." Blast admitted. "We have to find Listra. She might know where we are and be able to get us out of this place and back to the Hand."

Blast knew that Listra was more experianced then either of the two other Toa, but he doubted that she knew where they were. However, he knew that he had to keep Shardak from losing strength and focus. He couldn't allow Listra to die while Shardak lay, his soul scarred by the trauma he'd suffered at the hands of Nightshade. Blast extended his hand to Shardak, and the Toa took it. Together, the two beings readied to enter the chasm.

As the two toa drew near the edge of the chasm, they saw a dim, eerie light casting erratic shadows on the dark tunnels. No, they weren't tunnels, Blast realized. They were standing in a huge circle of stones, identical to the ones at the edge of the Core Void, though these were far taller.

At the edge of the cliff, there was a huge bridge made from shining glass, which cast a half-light over the gleaming tower that stood in the distance, apparently made from the same material. Blast turned his head and saw there were three other towers in the distance, all spanned by the gossamer bridges which met at a shining middle spire. A whispery breeze blew through the entire citadel.

It was a beautiful yet eerily dreadful sight that chilled Blast to his core.

As the Toa drew near the edge of the bridge, a shriek split the air. A huge, crystilline beast burst from the edge of the bridge and flung himself at the three Toa. Blast had no time to block the blow before the beast struck him with a massive fist. Blast smashed against the glass wall with a crash. The Toa waited for the glass to give way beneath him, but nothing happened.

Has it somehow been reinforced? Blast thought. As he stood, ready to confront the being with his Scythe of Creation, the beast struck out at Shardak. The other Toa reacted more quickly, and stabbed at the beast with the Blade of Arcturas. Flame glowed along the sword as Shardak stabbed it through the beast's shoulder. The being howled in pain, and Shardak suddenly felt icey tentacles wrapping around his neck. His vision blurred as he saw weird glass tentacles wrapping around him, Holding him in place. Blast stabbed his Scythe into the being's back, but it caused only a small amount of damage. The being swiped a claw at Blast again, and Blast knew that this time the beast would haul him over the edge into the darkened waters below.

Suddenly the beast let out a roar of pain, and fragments of crystilline armor struck him. Blast was confused, and watched as the beast let out another roar of pain and fury, and this time he noticed the arrows that were striking it, over and over again. Surprised by the sudden attack, the beast whirled around, striking Shardak and destroying the bonds holding him. Shardak stabbed at him again with the Blade of Arcturas, and another arrow speared the beast through the neck. With a final roar of pain, the being collapsed on the ground, shattering into peices of glass on the cold glass bridge.

Shardak turned, trying to find the location of the archer that had slain the Crystilline being, and saw a tall, slender warrior armed with a Laser Bow and a dagger seem to appear from the ice, her silver armor blending well with the silvery glass.

"Listra." said Blast, smiling at the Veythari warrior. "You took your time."

"I awoke to the sounds of the battle." Listra said in Matoran, her voice slightly accented. "Near another of these bridges. I managed to reach this bridge in time to kill the being."

"What was that...thing?" Blast asked. "In my life I've been attacked by a lot of things, but never by a moving hulk of glass."

"A Crystilline Destroyer. They patrol the borders of the Twilight Void." said Listra.

"So we've entered another Void." said Shardak. "Below the Core Void...but that's impossible. You said it goes on forever."

"It does." said Listra. "I don't know how we ended up here."

"But what's here, exactly?" Blast asked. "What do you know of the Twilight Void?"

"It is the dominion of the Soul Eaters of Corpse." Listra replied. "Many Veythari refer to it as 'The Heart of Evil.' I know very little about it, for the Soul Eaters are very secretive."

"More Corpsians." Blast cursed. "The Empire streches from the center of the world to the farthest reaches of the universe. Do they know that we're being hunted on the surface."

"I doubt it." The Veythari girl replied. "Except for young Veiled Ones, who come here for training, they rarely hear anything from the outside world. And most of the Corspians they train know little of their superior's plans."

Not Nightshade. Blast thought, naming the Veiled One girl who had spied on and killed Shardak's toa friend, Arcturas. Blast hated her as well, she had captured and tortured him for information during the Assult on the Tower of Dreams. She was smart and capable of the most abject cruelty.

"So what's our next move?" Shardak asked Blast.

"We can't allow them to capture us." Blast replied. "They'll kill us and recapture Listra. Or maybe they'll kill her as well, as they don't know that the Empire wants her alive."

"But where should we go?" Shardak asked. "The bridges lead deeper into Corpsian territory. There's no way we can avoid them forever."

Suddenly, a dark shadow appeared from the gloom, small, with clawed feet and armored in dark green and black. Two other's like it suddenly appeared out of the gloom like shadows, their claws gleaming, ready to kill into the three warriors.

Chapter 2Edit

In a darkened cavern, deep within the Twilight Void's tallest turret, the Corpsian captian Telos groud his spear into the hardened glass and cursed.

During the Hybrid Wars, Skorpix had sent the Corpsian commander into the Twilight Void to observe the inhabitents, the Soul Eaters of Corpse, some of the most powerful, corrupt beings in the multiverse. For three years Telos had watched the Corpsians capture or kill anything that dared tresspass in the void. He had never had a part in their conquests, and while he was a powerful commander above ground, within the Twilight Citadel he was nothing. However, Telos had a plan to remedy that. He had watched, using his special armor given to him by a Soul Guardian, as two toa, a Toa of Iron and a Toa of light had entered the void, then discovered the Twilght Citadel, where various factions fought against Soul Eater rule. Soon I will be given rewards beyond belief. thought Telos, even his thoughts cold and emotionless, despite the fact he was thinking about power. And everyone will have to listen to me.

He would report to the Soul Renders, which were some of the most powerful Soul Eaters and the makers of the Stitched Ones, demonic anaglamations of Toa, Makuta, and other beings fused together to make mindless, grotesque servants.

Telos strode through the glass turret. It overlooked the entire Twilight Citadel, as well as the glowing Nexus far, far below. The glass bridges shone in the half-light, illuminating the sea far blow, where the waves churned up white foam in contrast to the darkness of the seas. He strode past the Soul Guardian guards who stared at him as though he was nothing, and strode to the door at the edge of the turret. He pushed the door forward, then sideways. The lock clicked open and Telos strode into the chamber. Three Stitched Ones stood at the edge of a raised dias, where a Soul Render stood. His armor was powerful and jet-black, and it glowed with power. The Render carried a Crescant Scythe in one hand, and a Staff of Office in the other. He radiated evil charisma, and his eyes glowed with maniacal red light.

"What do you wish to report, Telos?" The Soul Render asked in the nasal language of the Corpsians. It was a language that none but the Corpsians and their masters could speak, for the tongues of Toa and even Makuta were not designed to speak the complex Corpse speech. While the Soul Render was a powerful lord in the Corpse Empire hierchy, he could not speak Chyisith, or High Corpsian. Only the most powerful Corpsians could speak the language, though all Corpsians could understand it.

"Two beings have entered the Twilight Void. A Toa of Iron and a Toa of Light." Telos replied in the same language.

The Soul Render waved his hand dismissively. "They are of no importance. Send three Soul Guardians to exterminate them."

"Wait. One of the Toa, the Toa of light, wears the Ignika, the Mask of Life."

"The Ignika!" The Soul Render's eyes flared a brighter shade of red. "So this is the Toa who bears the mask, the rogue Shadowy One Arcturas!"

"It is not Arcturas." said Telos. "Arcturas is easily recognizable. He would not come here, as he knows how powerful we are. And Arcturas knows his way around. This Toa seemed lost and ill at ease. Arcturas knows the Twilight Citadels better than almost any of us. He would not be as foolish as to wander into a Crystilline Destroyer's lair."

"So they were attacked?" The Render asked. "Send three Soul Seekers to the bridge where they fight the Destroyer. If they manage to subdue it, The Seekers should be able to destroy them, or at least fling them into the Bottomless Seas."

"Then the Ignika would be lost." hissed Telos. "Skorpix wants the Ignika."

"Skorpix will have to endure losing it!" snarled the Soul Render. "The power of life cannot be tolerated in the Twilight Void."

Telos knew he was powerless here, so he did not continue the argument. The Soul Render turned to the Stitched Warriors. "Order the Soul Guardians to send three Soul Seekers to Spire D4. The Seekers will insure that the Toa do not live out the day."

Suddenly there was a click as three Soul Guardians entered the chamber. Behind them was another being whom Telos recognized. Her silver armor was torn and ragged, but he knew her. She was one of the elite Corpsians, who never spoke to him except to give him an order.

"We found her outside Gate G6, Render Kjxhllith." The Guardian said. Corpsian names were unpronouncable, and contained letters that could not be written in Matoran. The translation of the Soul Render's name was extremely rough. "Should we throw her into the Bottomless Seas?"

"Quiet you fool! Can't you see she's a Corpsian? That's our armor design!"

"Yes." The girl said, in the tone of one used to giving commands. "I am Aeriela Kharna, commander of the Corpse Empire."

"What do you want?" snarled the Soul Render. He recognized her now. She had come to the Twilight Void before with a group of other young Corpsians, most of which were now dead, killed in the civil war on the Veythari homeworld. Her armor was commander style, so she must have been promoted, though for what the Render couldn't imagine. She wasn't an excellent warrior, nor was she as experianced as some Corpsians. The Soul Render did not display his surprise, however, but continued speeking.

"Leave us and return to the surface." the Render ordered. "Little girls shouldn't hear what we're discussing right now."

"You cannot give me orders." Aeriela said disdainfully. "I outrank you."

The Render realized she was right. As a commander, she had more authority then he did. The Render was temped to kill her, but he knew that Skorpix would destroy him if he found out.

"Well, what do you want?" The Render asked. "Why have you come to the Twilight Void...commander?" He asked.

"The war has begun." Aeriela said in Chyisith. "The Veythari homeworld has been captured by the rebels. Armed uprisings have taken place on Bota Magna and Aqua Magna. The uprisings will soon be destroyed, but the leaders of the resistance escaped destruction on Veythari."

"Will you tell us how this happened?" The Render asked, hating Aeriela for speeking in a language he understood, but could not speak."

"There was a battle between our armies and those of the Hand of Mata Nui. We managed to destroy their armies, and had their leaders killed or wounded. We cornered three of the Toa and a Veythari warrior on the edge of the Void, and after killing one of the Toa, ordered them to surrender. They refused, and we threw them into the Void. I was ordering a group of Corpsians to see if they had managed to stop themselves from falling. Then, suddenly, Axonn appeared. With thousands of wounds covering his body, he attacked, dragging me over the edge with him. We fell into the Void, and landed on a ledge below. I shoved Axonn into the Bottomless Seas, then, realizing where I was, entered the Twilight Citadel."

The Soul Render's eyes fixed on Aeriela. "May I ask how you were promoted to commander?" he asked.

"Ask your soldier." Aeriela replied, looking at Telos. "He knows."

The Render turned to Telos, who said. "She organized a trap which eventually resulted in the death of the rogue Shadowy One Arcturas." Said Telos.

"So Arcturas is dead?" The Render asked.

"Yes." said Aeriela. "I killed him."

The Soul Render knew now why Skorpix had made Aeriela a commander. She was a truely dangerous Veiled One. In a few years, she'll be a good fighter. He thought. The turned to Telos.

"Deploy the Soul Seekers." He ordered. "The Seekers are dangerous enough to slay any who cross their path if the Destroyer does not finish them."

Aeriela's head whipped around, and the young Veiled One turned to face the Render again. "Toa? Where are they?" she asked.

"A Toa of Light and a Toa of Iron." Telos answered. "Badly wounded. The Soul Seekers will easily destroy them, even if one has the Ign-"

Aeriela cut him off. "Shardak." she whispered. "And Blast."

"You know these Toa?" The Render questioned.

"Yes." she said. "I thought I'd killed them. They were some of the Hand agents I had pushed into the Core. One of them is Arcturas' friend. I didn't expect my...brother to be here." She spat the word brother like it was a curse.

Then a smile lit her face.

But this means I can think of even crueler ways to kill them. She thought. When Shardak dies, he will die cut off, alone, with the knowledge that everyone he loves is dead.

Aeriela's expression faded, and her features became an impassive mask. She could not show emotion in front of the Soul Render.

"I will go with the Soul Seekers." said Aeriela.

"Really, commander?" Telos asked. "Their fates are sealed."

Aeriela drew a dagger from the sheath that she wore around her neck. It was black and silver, made from Shadow Crystal, and blazed in the half-light with a power that was so deadly, even the Soul Render took a step back.

Aeriela Kharna sheathed the Soul-Eating Blade.

"Yes." she whispered, her face hauntingly beautiful in the half-light. "Yes, I know."


With a high-pitched screech the small beings flung themselves at Shardak, one carrying Blast off his feet, the other tearing into Shardak's shoulder. Blood welled from his wound, and the Blade of Arcturas nearly fell from his hand. Listra reacted more quickly, managing to skewer one of them with her arrow as it lept at her, it plummeted over the edge into the shadowy seas. Blast tore into the other, managing to reverse the combat situation so he was on top of the strange being, stabbing it repeatedly with the Scythe of Creation until it fell badly wounded, to the ground, blood splattering the glass bridge. Listra shot another arrow at the beast attacking Shardak, spearing it through its leg. The being howled in pain and hauled Shardak backwards, toward the edge of the glass bridge. The dark seas below seemed to gleam with dark power as Shardak was about to be to be taken over the edge.

Atarus would be very disappointed. Shardak thought. He could barely make out Blast stabbing the other beast through the neck and flinging the corpse to the ground. He and Listra were running toward him, but not fast enough to prevent him from falling.

Suddenly a burst of fire enveloped the two beings. Shardak saw it coming first, and managed to throw the beast off him and dive out of the way. The full force of the flames struck it, and the beast was consumed in an inferno, which fell over the edge and vanished into the seas below.

Shardak managed to keep himself from falling to his death, and turned around to see thank his rescuer.

"That was a good save Blast-" He began, but another voice cut him off.

"Come on. We need to get you and your friends back to our base."

Shardak saw a dark-armored being standing in the darkness. His helmet and armor were Toa, but Shardak knew it was not one of them. This was a Glatorian. His armor was dark gray, so Shardak could not tell which tribe he belonged to. His spear gleamed with power, and flames gleamed at the spear point, never melting the metal. Farther away, Shardak could see Blast had raised his Scythe of Creation, ready for battle, and Listra had an arrow ready. The Glatorian seemed unconcerned that he was outnumbered. He turned to face Listra. "Atarus said you would come." He said.

"How do you know Atarus?" Blast asked.

"I'll tell you later." The Glatorian barked. "This place will soon be swarming with Soul Eaters, and we can't risk being captured."

"Who are you?" Shardak asked, wondering if the Glatorian was the being who had ordered the clawed beings to attack.

"Xhrex" He said, pronouncing it Zhrecks, "Commander of the Twilight Warriors. Follow me." He ordered, then melted into the darkness.

"What should we do?" Blast asked Listra. "Should we trust him?"

"He knows Atarus." Listra replied. "And there's only one of him, and three of us. If it comes to a battle, we'd have the odds, unless he's leading us into a trap."

"I'm following him." Said Shardak. He didn't know why he trusted Xhrex, but the Glatorian had saved them from the clawed warriors, and he saw no reason why Xhrex would have asked them to follow him if he planned to kill them. He could have killed all of them or captured them while they were fighting the Crystilline Destroyer, or while they were fighting the clawed beings. Turning away from Listra and Blast, he vanished into the shadows beyond the bridge, following Xhrex.

Blast rolled his eyes. "Here we go again." He said to Listra, remembering when they had been standing outside Roxtus, wondering where the Shadowy Ones had taken Echo. Shardak had entered the cave alone, leaving Blast and Listra alone outside Roxtus. They'd found their way in, but not after fighting against the massive Shadow God and a group of Veiled One Limiters.

"Let's go then." sighed Blast, Scythe of Creation readied. Listra drew a curved dagger, and the Veythari and the Toa followed them into the darkness

Chapter unfinished...