Chapter One:

The Mysterious Orbs

This world has no name. Itfs a world thatfs dominated by the powers known as pirates and ninjas. The two sides are constantly at war, no one knows why. There are some who are allied with the opposite side. And there are thirteen who have become so strong and well known that they take respect from both sides. Theyfre known as the Sea Lords, they Rale the ocean. All pirates and ninjas, including them, are enemies of the law. They donft follow the government of the world; they make their own paths, something the overlord of the world canft tolerate. The world is big though, making it hard for the law to operate. Itfs mostly ocean, with one big country, and millions of other islands dotting the blue canvas.

Among one of the smallest islands existed a well known stronghold. It contained five rectangular towers which overlooked a steel wall that encircled them. The towers were connected by sturdy bridges that allowed passage between them. The middle tower was the highest, and located at the top was the large office where the three in charge took command of their faction. These three wore the same clothes, dark green buttoned shirt and cuffed pants, along with a navy blue vest that recognized them as the leaders. They also wore dark green caps with a low visor, necessary to hide their face from their followers.

gItfs come to my attention that therefs a possibility of an intruder,h one of them said, this one had locks of blonde hair protruding from under his cap. He sat in a chair behind his desk, placed by the wall directly opposite the large door. gSend word to the men to keep an eye out for anyone suspicious.h

gWill do,h the second one said. He pressed a button implanted in his desk that sat to the right of the door. He had no visible features, his hair was cut short, and like the other two, he hid his face under the visor of his cap.

gThey may be after the Space Orb,h the final one said from behind his desk to the left of the door, he had some visible brown hair, but he did well to hide most of his features. gWhere is it now? Someone needs to make sure itfs safe.h

gAt the moment, itfs being moved from the middle safe of this tower,h the first said without a change in his tone, gif thatfs what theyfre after, it must be protected at all costs. So its new location will be the basement safe.h

gAnd thatfs the best protected of them all. Hefd have a hard time retrieving it from that safe,h the third one smirked under his visor, gso hefd have to get it before it arrives at the safe.h

gCorrect. You sure are interested in the Orb today. I wonder why. . . .h The suspicion in the first onefs voice was obvious. His green eyes were revealed.

gDonft worry about it,h the third one reassured, he stood up from his chair and circled around to the front of his desk, gneither of you will have any worries in a little bit.h

gWho are you?h the second one spoke up, his blue eyes were now showing as well, glaring at the standing one.

gIsnft it obvious?h the dark green clothes flew off of the person, revealing a black outfit, that of a ninja. The man gripped the visor of his cap and revealed his face, green eyes and shaggy brown hair. gIfm the intruder, Seyenfs the name. I canft believe you were so easily fooled.h The smirk on his face didnft disappear as he threw the cap away and instantly launched two shuriken in two different directions. The blades of which pierced into the chests of the other two men.

gHow . . .?h The first one breathed.

gI wouldnft try to move if I were you,h Seyen warned, gI didnft throw those to kill you. But the poison on the blades affects your system immediately. If you move too much, youfll definitely die.h He moved towards the oversized door, gI trust you can figure out how to save yourselves. As for now, I have a certain Orb to fetch.h

The door opened in a rush, and a soldier wearing the same dark green clothes without the blue vest stood in the way, holding a cutlass sword. gHalt, intruder!h

gDamn, I didnft even see him press the button,h Seyen mused to himself as he withdrew a small dagger. He addressed the man in front of him, gWhy do you people use cutlasses? Youfre not even pirates.h In the moment that the soldier was distracted by Seyenfs words, the daggerfs blade made a gash in the flesh of his arm, and Seyen disappeared. The guard looked at the seemingly insignificant wound on his arm, but he didnft have time to comprehend anything. He had already passed out.

Seyen quickly found the stairs, leaping down to each landing rather than actually using the stairs. A guard appeared at one point, but he didnft see Seyen until he already had poison running through his veins, and the intruder was already on his way again. In a short time, he arrived in the basement, though he could go no further. Behind him were the stairs; in front of him was the reinforced door that required a security code, a certain hand print, and a retinal scan from a certain eye. Seyen possessed none of those. And he had no ways to infiltrate the safe. It didnft matter; it was obvious that the object he was seeking hadnft arrived yet.

This was his plan, and it was going exactly like he wanted. The gOrbh was still being transported, and instead of searching for it, it would land right in Seyenfs hands. He positioned himself in one of the dark corners of the small room, and waited.

gI wonder how long it takes them to move something from point A to point B.h Seyenfs bright green eyes were wide; they werenft going to miss a thing. If something moved, hefd see it. He had the stone room all studied, even though there was little light -- which radiated from a small light bulb in the ceiling.

Finally, a little while later, Seyen heard movement from above. Two soldiers, both of them wearing the same dark green getup, were walking down the stairs right now, talking in low voices. Although their voices grew louder as they got closer to Seyenfs location, the ninja wasnft listening. He was intent on completing his mission. Waiting for the one moment, his one single chance to strike, that foot to cross the threshold and come into view. A smoke ball was held in Seyenfs hand, ready to pounce.

gYeah, and then she said--h There it was! The guard was cut off by the shroud of purple smoke, unable to see anything, including Seyen as he made his move. It was swift, he was inside of the smoke, holding his breath, then he was gone.

The smoke cleared, and the guards were floored and unconscious. The poison had worked fast. And held in one of their motionless hands was a small, silver case, itfs latch was open, and nothing was inside.

Outside of the middle tower, Seyen was swiftly making his way toward the gate. The guards of which were already poisoned and unconscious. He had no trouble pulling the lever to open the massive iron doors and slipping out. Now he was on a stretch of land surrounded by water, if he followed the path, hefd end up on a platform for ships to dock. But that wasnft his intention.

gThat was easy,h Seyen smiled as he held up the glowing green orb, before he pocketed it and withdrew a flare stick.

gWhat do you think youfre doing with that?h a voice came from behind. Seyen whipped around to see an old man, gray hair, sickly colored skin, and numerous scars. And he wore a conventional black ninja outfit along with dark blue robes. His hands hung down by his sides, continuously twitching.

gFong Shu?h Seyen realized instantly.

gAh, you recognize me, excellent,h Fong smiled, gyoufre quite an interesting man, infiltrating a stronghold and stealing the valuable Space Orb.h

gWhy are you here?h Seyen ignored the praise; he was shaken by the fact that he didnft sense a presence behind him. Although, Fong Shu was a ninja with plenty of experience, so it should be expected.

gYou know, Ifm always searching for young men to experiment on, I think you would get splendid resul--h

gAnswer my question!h

Fong distorted his face, like he tasted something sour. gFine, I joined this place because they told me theyfd help me with my experiments. And they promised that theyfd catch one of the Sea Lords for me.h

Seyen chuckled, gI can say with certainty that they wonft be able to catch one for you.h

gWhy do say that?h

Before Seyen replied, he set the flare stick on the ground. The top exploded, and the flare flew into the sky. gDemial, one of the Sea Lords, Ifm his first mate,h Seyen smirked at the last glimpse of Fongfs expression as he leapt to the side towards the ocean. A rip in space opened up and Seyen went through, leaving Fong Shu alone in amazement.

The other side of the portal led to a large pirate ship. Seyen landed smoothly on the deck, in front of his captain.

gDid you get it?h Demial asked as he peered through locks of his brown hair.

gYeah,h Seyen stood up straight and withdrew the orb, offering it to his captain.

Demial beamed, gperfect. Like always, Seyen, you did an excellent job.h

gI guess having a ninja on our crew has its advantages,h a pirate of Demialfs crew stated.

gJust be lucky that I decided to be your ally,h Seyen retorted, gotherwise you might not be alive.h

The pirate was about to reach for his cutlass, enraged by Seyenfs words, but Demial cut in. gEnough.h He stuck the orb in a pocket on his large blue and white coat. gWefve got the Space Orb, letfs start moving now. Lift the anchor, Ordin,h he added to the angry pirate.

gYes, sir,h Ordin obeyed and scampered off.

Demial and Seyen moved up to the bow of the ship, Seyen started, gcaptain, can you tell me now: what is the Space Orb?h

gSorry, Seyen,h Demial sighed, gIfll have to keep that information from you a little longer.h

gWhyfs that?h the disappointment in Seyenfs voice was covered up well, but it was still detectable.

gItfs something us Sea Lords have to deal with, but Ifm not even sure about the details of these orbs either.h Demial sighed again and took the green glowing orb out of his pocket and examined it, gbut I canft wait to see Halofs expression when I tell him that I already got mine.h

Miles away, on another pirate ship. gAH-CHOO!h Halo was lying down on his favorite place, the prow of his ship, which was custom shaped and shorter than normal to allow comfort while resting atop it. gSomeone must be talking about me.h

gOr maybe itfs just because youfre staring into the sky,h Mars Mantra, the second captain of Halofs crew, showing up out of nowhere like always to address his captain. His long red hair rippled in the oncoming wind.

Halo sat up, and shook his head to get his messy black hair back in place, then turned and lazily fixed his dark blue eyes on Marsf scarlet ones. gThat could be true, but I didnft feel it until I had already sneezed.h

Mars hopped up and sat down on the railing next to the prow. gWell now that youfre up, our trusty navigator wanted me to tell you that he doesnft know where the hell wefre going.h

gWefre going to look for the Shadow Orb . . . I guess.h Halo looked around, trying to see if there was an island in sight, which there wasnft. gThere,h Halo pointed in the direction that they were already heading.

gWhat?h Mars gazed out at the horizon.

gHefs going in the right direction, wefll find it eventually.h He lay back down, still sleepy.

gDad, youfre such a procrastinator,h Mars sighed.

gStop calling me dad, captain is fine, or even just plain olf Halo.h He closed his eyes and started drifting off already.

gWhatever, dad,h Mars chuckled and leapt down from the railing, then down to the deck and started off toward the navigator at the helm of the ship.

gDammit, Mantra,h Halo breathed, he was asleep again within the next minute.

Farther away on a forest island, among the trees, two women were in conversation. One of them was a pirate captain with a cybernetic left eye, who was genetically spliced with animal genes to give her fur all over her body, and a tail. The other one was another of the Sea Lords, her appearance was normal. Short sandy blonde hair, blue eyes, pale white skin, but she was more built than an average woman, and she had a red triangle tattooed under her right eye.

Sarima Johnson, one of four women that held the rank of a Raler of the Sea. Tracy Mombaro, the furry woman, had always been jealous that she couldnft make the rank, and constantly caused trouble for this specific member of the Sea Lords.

gHand it over, Tracy,h Sarima demanded.

gDonft call me by that name! Itfs eCoonaf,h Tracy replied from behind a tree.

gThatfs a stupid name though,h said Sarima, gjust give me the damn Orb.h

gYeah right, if youfre going through so much trouble to get it back, then it must be really valuable,h Tracy smirked, glike I would actually give it back.h

gYou donft even know what it is,h Sarima pointed out, gI really need it, and if I have to use force, you know I will.h

gThen bring it on, Sarry.h

gFine,h Sarima drew a shuriken from her black pants, gif thatfs how you want it, donft blame me for any injuries you recieve.h The silver shuriken held between her fingers ignited in a burst of flames, and Sarima flung it fast at her opponent, starting the fight for the Orb.


Chapter Two:

Fire and Ice

The flame engulfed shuriken missed Tracyfs cheek by an inch. She could feel the scorching heat as it whizzed past her face and lodged itself into the bark of a nearby tree. The flames on it dispersed, saving the tree from disaster.

gThis isnft your ideal place to fight, is it?h Tracy mocked, gYou donft want to burn down the forest.h

gDonft worry about that, Coona, youfll lose this fight even if I canft use my Element to its full effect.h With another fast movement, Sarima had two more shuriken held between her fingers, and without igniting them this time, she flung them furiously at her furry opponent.

Tracy dashed to the side, fluidly evading the projectiles, and closed in on her opponent fast with a raised fist and a battle cry. Sarima ducked under the punch and placed a hand on Tracyfs stomach. gItfs about to get hot,h she taunted. Tracy jumped backwards, but not fast enough, the section of her black jump suit that was in contact with Sarimafs hand had burst into flames. Tracy frantically pounded her stomach with an open palm, extinguishing the small fire, which left a hole burnt through her outfit.

gGreat, you singed my fur,h Tracy gritted her teeth, gso you wanna be serious about this then?h

gGet over it,h Sarima crossed her arms and sneered, gIt actually makes that ugly fur look a little better.h

Tracy scowled as she lunged fiercely at her blonde opponent, tackling her to the ground. Sarima struggled to get out of Tracyfs grip, but it was no good, the riled up woman had her pinned to the ground. gNow whatfs little Sarry of the Sea Lords gonna do?h Tracy taunted as she grabbed the black bandana from Sarimafs head and threw it off, then grabbed a lock of the sandy blonde hair, gletfs see how you look without that pretty hair of yours.h

Acting fast, Sarima grabbed Tracyfs opposing wrist with both hands. gYou do realize who youfre sitting on, right?h the female Sea Lord asked, her eyes lit up as if on fire. gItfs like sitting on a furnace.h

Before anything else happened, a male voice came from the thick of the forest.

gHmm, am I interrupting something?h

Tracy and Sarima both whipped their eyes to the source of the opposing voice, and instantly recognized Tracyfs first mate, the young Dan Iscariot, casually leaning against a large tree with his arms crossed. His wildly trimmed brown hair hovered over his eyes, which were focused on the struggling women. And his jacket gave him the appearance of a man whofs seen and took part in a lot of fights; it was extremely battered and worn down with tears and holes all over.

gDan, I told you to stay on the ship,h Tracy stated from her sitting place on the heated Sarima, who was still focused on the intruding man.

gI know, but I couldnft help observing this fight, it was rather entertaining,h he grinned in a suggestive manner.

gWell go back,h Tracy demanded, gI have to finish this fight.h

gSorry to say, captain, but I think this fight is already over,h he pointed a finger at the wilted grass under Sarima.

gHefs got a point,h Sarima smirked; steam was rising from her body, originating from her skin. She was heating herself up, and the grass under her had withered from the intensity. Tracy had now realized that she felt a burning between her legs and sprung up to her feet, backing away from the blonde woman. Sarima rose to her feet as well; visible holes were burned into her black tank top and pants.

Dan was beside her within the next second, holding a baseball-sized glowing blue orb in his hand, offering it to the Sea Lord. gI believe this is what you wanted, Miss Sarima?h

gDan!h Tracy exclaimed, outraged by her first matefs movement.

gSorry, captain, but the fight is over, and we have no use for whatever it is,h Dan explained calmly, knowing full well that his captain wouldnft hold it against him.

gYeah, thanks,h Sarima breathed as she kindly seized the orb from Danfs presenting hand, but as she gazed at the glowing orb, she was met with a disappointed feeling.

Tracy stepped over to Dan and spoke, gWefre going back to the ship now, therefs nothing here for us anymore.h

gBe thankful, Tracy,h Sarima started, gif your boy here hadnft come to your aid, you might not have gotten off as easily.h

gWhatever, Sarry,h Tracy replied simply as she began to lead Dan away. gWefll meet again some other time.h

gIfm sure we will.h Sarima smiled as if this whole event had just been a friendly encounter. She retrieved her black bandana from the ground and returned it to her head.

As Tracy and Dan disappeared into the forest, Sarima turned and headed in the opposite direction toward where she knew her ship would be. While walking, she held the glowing blue orb in her hand, gazing at it with a sour expression.

gSo the meeting went well, I presume.h Sarima looked up from the orb and noticed one of her crew standing in front of her; her first mate to be exact. He was a large man that wore basic clothing, as well as a black leathery mask that went over his head, covering all but his sullen brown eyes.

gNot as well as I hoped, Brutus,h Sarima replied holding up the orb, gitfs not the Fire Orb.h

gHmm, yeah,h Brutus studied the object in his captainfs hand, git should be red, right?h

gRight. This one is of a different element.h

gDo you know which one?h he questioned, though his tone indicated that he had an idea.

gYou think itfs the Water Orb?h Sarima raised an eyebrow.

Brutus straightened up, gWell, water would certainly be blue, correct?h

Sarima sighed with dissatisfaction. gThatfs true, but the color of this Orb is a lighter blue. Which means itfs probably the Ice Orb. Water would be a darker blue.h

gReally? Are you sure?h It was hard to tell if Brutus was being sarcastic or not, since his expression wasnft visible under his mask.

gBelieve me,h Sarima replied, gIfd be much happier if this was the Water Orb. Ifd much rather deal with Sei Kimori.h

gAnd shefs the Sea Lord that possesses the Water Element?h Brutus thought aloud, gI think I remember her.h

gYeah, youfve never met the one who uses Ice though,h she solemnly stuck the Ice Orb snugly under the red sash around her waist.

gWho?h Brutus wondered.

gHis name is Adrian Sevitor, and even though hefs one of the thirteen Sea Lords, he hates every last one of us.h

gSo why is he one of you then?h From his captainfs description, Brutus was under the impression that the Sea Lord of Ice was somewhat of a hypocrite.

Sarima sighed again. gBecause he fits the requirements to be one of us. Even though he holds contempt for the rest of us, I donft actually think hefd ever betray us in any way. Hefs still loyal to his position.h

Brutus stayed silent, waiting for Sarima to continue.

gBut Ifd still rather stay away from him as much as possible.h

gSo just get someone else to give him the Orb,h Brutus suggested.

gNo, itfs fine. I found it and I should be the one to deliver it. Now letfs get back to the ship.h Sarima wasted no time and strutted ahead of her first mate, who waited a couple seconds before deciding to follow.

The giant ship was awaiting their arrival at the edge of the forest, where the ground seemed to just form a cliff into the water, making it easy for any ship to dock right at the edge of it. Sarima and Brutus climbed up the ramp onto the ship, where the a couple of the small crew greeted her.

gHowfd it go?h Adan, the navigator, asked.

gDonft ask,h Sarima replied with obvious distaste, gjust find Rose and tell her to meet me up on the deck.h

The tall man replied simply, gwill do,h and walked off toward the cabin of the ship. Sarima and Brutus headed over to the railing opposite them, letting the cool ocean breeze wash over them as a way to relax. They didnft say anything as they waited for the arrival of Rose, a short woman with wild frizzy blonde hair. Her appearance was slightly stressful, as it was obvious that she wasnft a girl who cared much for what was on the outside. Although she wasnft much of a people person either, as she normally kept to herself and normally only socialized with animals unless forced to do otherwise. But Sarima was fond of her for some reason, so the latter wasnft shocked to see the twitchy Rose show up right next to her.

gAh, there you are,h Sarima smiled, gcan you call Airazor for me? I have a job for him.h

gC-certainly,h Rose said, seemingly shaken by the company of two superiors, which Brutus caught on to and immediately left. Neither Sarima nor Rose paid any attention to the sudden departing; Rose had a short metal shaft in her hand, which she proceeded to blow into, making a sharp whistling noise. There was a caw, and then a small brown Sparrow landed on the wooden railing between the two women.

Sarima quickly produced a rolled up piece of paper, that of which she handed to Rose to put in a small tube. After the paper was firmly placed inside, Rose capped it with a matching lid, then gently strapped it to the back of the patiently waiting bird.

gThat goes to the Sea Lord named Adrian,h Sarima stated to the bird, but Rose repeated the line in a low voice, her face inches away from the birdfs beak. Afterwards, the shifty woman patted Airazorfs head and the bird took off with a happy caw.

gThere you go, miss Sarima,h Rose practically whispered, then turned away and headed back into the cabin. Sarima watched her go, and didnft flinch at all when she heard a voice from behind.

gShefs a little weird, isnft she?h Brutus hid a smile under his mask.

gI thought you left,h Sarima replied dryly. gActually I donft care, just go tell Adan to head for Malhorul Island.h

gFine fine, Ifm going. Try not to get too nervous.h

gEasy for you to say,h Sarima stared off into the ocean as her first mate headed off toward the stern of the ship. She could tell itfd be a long day.


Not too far away, Adrianfs ship was sailing the open sea. The navigator at the helm ensured that the ship was heading in the right direction.

Back behind the main deck in the captainfs cabin, Adrian Sevitor of the Sea Lords was sitting intently at his wooden desk, studying a map of the world with the help of a small gas powered lamp, making his untidy brown hair seem lighter than it was. Several of the islands were crossed off with thick black marks, g23 islands, and still no sign of that damn Ice Orb,h he sighed heavily. gHalofs an idiot, telling us about the thirteen Orbs and demanding that we find our own. The only information he gave us was that each one has a specific color, and mine would be light blue. Why did he fail to give us directions on where to look?h

Adrian looked over the large map once more, gazing at the islands around the middle, under the large round country of the world. gMaybe he doesnft know any of the details either though; I guess that might be possible. Itfs odd that he was the only one to have heard about these Orbs.h He withdrew a black marker from one of the drawers on his fine oak desk, gout of the 40 or so strongholds on this map, the odds of any one of them having my Orb is slim, and then therefs a possibility that itfs not in any of them.h

With a swift movement, another island was marked off on the map, gI guess I have no choice but to search more islands. . . .h Adrian placed a hand on his forehead. He was exhausted of searching. He would give up, but his loyalty to his fellow Sea Lords wouldnft allow him, he had to help them out, even if he did hate them.

Just then, the door of Adrianfs room opened in a rush, and one of his surly looking crewmen stepped in and started to shiver. Adrian never noticed it, but his room was undeniably cold. Adrianfs tone was as icy as his room, gWhat is it, Jem?h

gSir, a brown bird has arrived carrying a message,h Jem replied without a faltering voice.

gFrom who?h

gFellow Sea Lord, Sarima Johnson.h

gIfll be out in a minute.h Jem understood the order to leave and did so. Adrian followed soon after, heading to the main deck where the small brown sparrow had perched. Without hesitation, he located the letter on Airazorfs back and gently seized it. He opened it up and read it over quietly as his black cloak waved in the ocean breeze. A small grin formed on his face as he finished up the note. gExcellent. Be right back,h he added to the bird.

He hurried back into his cabin and retrieved a pen and paper, quickly writing up a return letter. He made it short, telling Sarima how close he was the island she had set up for, and then signed his name in fine print. No mention of gratitude at all. Then Adrian sealed the letter and rushed back to the deck, locating the brown bird once again and tying his letter onto its talon for it to return to its master.

Without any sound at all, or any words from Adrian, the bird got the hint and took off out over the ocean. Adrian turned around and found Jem standing behind him. gAh, good, hurry up to Mel and tell him to head to the island of Malhorul.h

gYes, sir.h Without another word, Jem headed off up the stairs toward the helm to give the navigator Adrianfs orders. It was just a matter of time before the Ice Orb was in his hands.


Chapter Three:

Struggle on a Deserted Island

A deserted island sat in the middle of the ocean, made up of a large grassy plain, a small beach, several different kinds of trees, and large hills on a far side of the coast. Itfd take less than an hour to walk straight across from one end to another.


Among the long grass flowing in the wind, the gray eyes of Cale Lasen were watching, scaling the landscape for any strange movement. His scraggily brown hair was in the form of a ponytail, and his average pirate clothing, along with a long sword resting in its sheathe on his back, were the image of an enemy to a ninja.


gYou see anything?h Cale asked the muggy black haired man trailing behind him. He was a member of the same crew as Cale, ordered to lend two eyes and a hand to the young pirate.


gNot yet,h he spoke in a low voice. His rusted sword was waiting for action on his hip. His left hand was missing, replaced with a small blade which was also rather rusted, yet still sharp.


gKeep your eyes open, Ral.h


Something stirred. Cale heard it, and his blade was drawn in a flash. The hilt was long, allowing him to hold it with two hands, and the blade was straight and double-edged. He held it in front of him, ready to strike if an enemy dared to show his or her face. And Ral stood silent with his bladed hand replacement positioned to attack as well.


gIt was just an animal,h Ral stated, as if to reassure himself.


gDonft kid yourself.h Calefs gray eyes shot this way and that. He knew there was at least one. One that hid among the long grass, one with a knife prepared to kill.


Thatfs what ninjas were like, after all.


gDammit,h Cale cursed, gitfs too hard to fight in this environment. We have to move before anything happens.h He moved his leg, trying not to falter, remaining ever aware.


One step was all it took. Cale shifted his blade, and a shuriken clashed with a pang, then fell dully to the ground.


gRun,h Cale ordered, and the two pirates bolted. They managed to barely avoid getting pelted with sharp metal stars. At one point, a short man wearing a black ninja outfit jumped from his hiding place and struck with a katana, but Cale acted fast and ducked under it, then quickly swung his blade at the enemy.


The ninja shifted in midair, receiving only a small cut on his arm from the opposing blade, and then he disappeared among the grass. Cale and Ral didnft stop running, and it was only a little more time before they reached the end of the tall grass. Here, the grass was shorter, with few trees. The ninjas wouldnft be able to hide so easily here, and the pirates could see everything clearly.


gYou pirate scum are good at running,h a female voice called from the brush.


gThatfs for sure,h a male voice agreed.


gHow about you show yourselves?h Cale demanded.


gAll right, letfs go,h the female added to her companion. The two of them appeared in front of Cale and Ral. Both wore the conventional black of a ninja, only one of them, the male, wore a yellow scarf around his neck. And the female ninja was a catgirl. Blue pointy ears and a long blue tail were visibly protruding from her outfit.


gHappy now?h the male asked. gIf youfre interested, Ifm Hide, thatfs Sporky.h


gNot that it matters,h Sporky smiled under her mask, gyoufll be dead soon anyway.h


gThatfs what you think,h Ral spoke up in his low voice.


Cale ignored him and addressed the ninjas. gDonft you think thatfs a little unfair?h


gWhat?h Hide wondered.


gItfs three against two. Donft think Ifm so stupid as to see that one of you is still hiding. The one that attacked me earlier was much shorter and didnft look like either of you.h


gDamn it, Luster!h Sporky shouted at the long grass.


gSorry, I thought I could have taken him dow—h


gNow because of you, this whole plan is ruined.h Sporky turned away from her hidden companion and faced Cale with cold eyes.


gItfs not like it matters,h Hide stated as Luster showed himself, gwe still have the edge. Wefll just have to put forth a bit more effort.h


gGet ready, Ral.h Cale prepared himself as Ral pulled out the sword hanging from his waist, ready to fight with his two blades.


The fight was put off again though, for another face had shown up. This one had a thick goatee and messy dark hair. He wore regular clothes, had a bag over his shoulder, and a sword that looked like a cutlass at his side.


gWhatfs going on here?h the man asked from next to a nearby tree, not too far away.


gWho are you?h Sporky asked, eyeing the sheathed cutlass.


gIfm just a wanderer. The namefs Jaymes. I just felt like exploring this island.h He smiled, as if nothing important was going on.


gJaymes?h Cale whispered to himself.


gYou better get lost,h Hide suggested in an ordering way. gIfm sure you donft want to get killed.h


gNo, not really.h Jay was getting closer without them noticing. The conversation between the six of them was preoccupying them. gBut I would like to see where this goes,h he smiled with amusement.


gStop playing around,h Cale said seriously. gJaymes Beech, right?h


Jaymes narrowed his eyes. The smile faded; a spark of awareness hit the ninjas. Now they realized who this man was.


gGood job, Cale, you blew my cover.h Jaymes threw the bag down to the ground and opened it, pulling out a pirate hat and placing it on his head.


gThey would have figured it out either way. I donft feel like being here all day, letfs just kill them and leave.h Cale still kept his stance, not removing his eyes from the ninjas as he talked.


Jaymes withdrew his cutlass and held it downward. gFine, my captain just wanted me to scout the area, but now I have to help you two fight off a few ninjas. Should be fun.h


gI wonder what your interpretation of efunf is?h Sporky taunted. gIf it involves us cutting you up, then yeah, it should be fun.h She withdrew a dagger in one swift motion and held it in her right hand as three shuriken appeared in her left.


gIfm tired of these ninjas,h Cale said, looking around at his fellow pirates. gLetfs take care of them fast, I want to leave. This island bores me.h


gSame here,h Jaymes agreed. gIfll take the one on the left,h he pointed to Hide.


gIfll take the cat girl,h Cale smirked confidently. That meant Luster would be Ralfs opponent. Luster jumped back into the tall grass, hiding himself from Ralfs eyes. Hide withdrew the small sword from his back, the blade much shorter than a katana; he rushed forward toward Jaymes and swung fiercely, but to no avail. Jaymes easily dodged out of the way, and countered with a slash of his cutlass. The two blades clashed with a ringing sound, over and over again as the two opponents went back and forth, exchanging blades.


Cale had charged after Sporky after she had unleashed a barrage of projectiles at him, each one he dodged or blocked with his long blade. He reared his sword back behind him with two hands, then when in range of the catgirl ninja, he brung it down fast. But he only sliced the air. Sporky had jumped high, then while airborne over Calefs head, she threw a knife at the latterfs back.


At this moment, while the knifefs blade was inches away from Calefs flesh, Luster was about to pierce through Ral with a small dagger blade, without Ral knowing. And Hide gained the advantage on Jaymes, about to rip through the piratefs skin. But all of this stopped in one instant, it all froze, time had halted. The three pirates and the three ninjas, none of them had any sense, they were locked in mid attack. Even Sporky was frozen in the air, not even falling.


gI donft think therefs any reason to fight right now,h a tall handsome man was in mid-walk toward the fighters. Black hair held up by a blue headband, a red shirt with puffy sleeves and a black vest, baggy shorts the same shade as the vest, and belts from shoulders to hips that carried all varying sizes of blades. Etched on the manfs pretty face was a cocky smirk, as he gazed at the frozen figures with engaging blue eyes. gThe two sides should be getting along while in the presence of a Sea Lord.h


Shawn Edgar Perry, known as the most cocky of the Sea Lords, he often likes to refer to himself as the Astounding Captain SEP, although no one else does. gSilly me, I forgot that you guys were frozen in time,h Shawn chuckled to himself. gYou canft even hear me, and I still continue to talk to you, or maybe Ifm talking to myself. Either way, I have some cleaning up to do first.h


He trotted over to Jaymes and looked at his situation. The small blade held by Hide was an inch away from Jaymesf left shoulder. gThis wonft do, I canft have a first mate that only has one arm, or a head for that matter.h Shawn repositioned his erratic companion so that Hidefs small blade would miss its target. Jaymes was now a few feet away from the ninja.


gNow for the other two.h Shawn took his time and strolled over to Cale, noticing the knife hovering in the air, Shawn stretched out a hand and grabbed the handle of the projectile and placed it to the side of Cale. The same was done to Ral as was done to Jaymes, just moved a few feet away to avoid getting skewered.


Shawn looked at what he did and took it all in, making sure he didnft leave any mistakes. He didnft move the ninjas at all, he didnft have to. gI guess I should let time effect them again,h Shawn raised a hand and snapped his fingers. Time was restored again for the frozen ones. Hide and Luster sliced through nothing but air, while Sporky landed on the ground as her knife pelted the ground near Cale. All of them wondered what just happened. Why did it appear that both Ral and Jaymes moved back two feet without making any sort of motion, and the knife had shifted through the air abruptly and collided into the ground? It didnft make sense.


gIt makes perfect sense,h Shawn boasted, grabbing everyonefs eyes. gI knew what you were thinking, so I answered before you could ask. I froze time for the six of you and repositioned certain people and a projectile so that therefd be no harm.h


gCaptain!h Jaymes said with surprise, gI was handling the situation, you didnft have to show up.h


gDonft get confused, loyal companion of mine. You were about to lose an arm and a head, and your other pirate friends here would have suffered equal damage -- as in fatal -- had I not shown up. It seems the ninjas were actually on top of this conflict.h


Cale, Ral, and Jaymes all switched expressions to disappointment. gWe were just getting started,h Cale spoke up.


gYeah, Ifm sure you would have dodged my knife at the last second, right?h Sporky smirked under her mask. Cale made a disgusted noise, but ended it at that.


gIt matters not,h Shawn continued, gIfm here now, and like I already said, pirates and ninjas shall not fight in the presence of a Sea Lord.h


gWhen did you say that?h Hide asked with a raised eyebrow.


gWhile you six were frozen in time. Of course, none of you could hear me, so itfs obvious you wouldnft have known what I said during the time.h


gWhatever, Ifve had enough,h Sporky said, gif I canft kill some pirates now, then wefre leaving, letfs go, guys.h And with that, the three ninja disappeared.


gThat was abrupt,h Cale stated, gthey didnft even have anything to ask.h


gTherefs nothing to ask about,h Jaymes replied, gmy incredibly awesome Captain showed up and stopped the fight, so therefs no reason for them to be around anymore.h


gNo reason for me, either,h Cale said. gThis whole skirmish we just had seems kinda pointless now. I think Ifll go back to my ship, because Ifm tired of this island. Letfs go, Ral.h


gYou will do no such thing!h Another appearance from another man. This time it was Calefs captain, Jonathan Ordonez. Shoulder length light brown hair, mismatching dark brown eyes, normal pirate clothes, and several tattoos on his arms. gThis is one of the Sea Lords, you should be honored to meet with one.h


gI am, but Ifm tired, I wanna go.h


gYoufll have time to sleep later. Is there anything we can help you with?h he asked with a friendly smile.


gNot really, no,h Shawn replied. gIfm visiting this island for my own purposes, no one can know about it.h


gI know about it,h Jaymes pointed out.


gShh, Jaymes, go back to the ship.h




Jaymes turned and walked off with a sour look on his face as he slid the blade of his cutlass back into its sheathe. He didnft get very far until he saw someone else, another person, a woman this time. gWhen will the intrusions end!?h


gWhat is it now?h Cale wondered loudly.


gItfs Sarima!h Shawn howled cheerfully.


gUh, hi . . .h Sarima Johnson joined the group, looking confused. gWhatfs going on?h


gAnother of the Sea Lords?h Jonathan asked disbelievingly, as well as happily. gWhat a pleasure!h He took the hand of Sarima and kissed the back of it lightly, ganything I can do for you?h


gBack off, Ordonez,h Shawn bumped Jonathan out of the way and took the same position with Sarimafs hand in his. He also kissed the back of it, ghow are you today, Sarima?h


gIfm fine . . .h she said uneasily, gbut Ifm gonna go over there now.h


gWait, are you looking for your orb here too?h Shawn wondered.


gNo, Ifm meeting someone else.h


gANOTHER person?h Cale asked aloud.


gWho?h Shawn asked Sarima directly.




gANOTHER Sea Lord?h Jonathan asked aloud.


gYeah, and I donft think you guys should be around when he gets here,h Sarima stated.


gI can handle Adrian,h Shawn replied with confidence.


gNot you, them,h she pointed to Jonathan and his companions, Cale and the quiet Ral. gYou three shouldnft be here once Adrian arrives, hefs not a nice person.h


gYes, Ifve heard,h Jonathan responded. gIfd rather not meet with him, actually.h


gRight, so leave,h Sarima demanded.


gAll right, all right, wefre out of here.h


gFinally,h Cale said to himself.


gGoodbye Shawn Edgar Perry and Sarima Johnson, it was nice seeing you,h Jonathan gave a fleeting wave as he, Cale, and Ral turned tail and headed through the tall grass back toward their ship.


gAbout time,h Jaymes said from behind Sarima, gI was getting tired of them.h


gArenft you supposed to be on the ship?h Shawn hid his demand within a question.


gOh right, sorry.h Jaymes turned and left, leaving Sarima and Shawn alone.


gAh, wefre alone now,h Shawn pointed out. gPerfect weather for a picnic, wouldnft you say?h


gYou can leave too,h Sarima ignored the odd offer for a picnic. gI should handle Adrian myself; he already doesnft like it enough when dealing with one of us. I doubt your presence will make this meeting any better.h


gWhy are you meeting with him, anyway?h it had just occurred to Shawn that he didnft know why Sarima would want to meet with a stiff like Adrian.


gBecause of this,h the light blue orb was held in Sarimafs palm, held up so Shawn could see.


gThatfs the Ice Orb, I presume?h


gYeah, I had the displeasure of stumbling upon it instead of my own Orb.h Sarima pocketed the Ice Orb, gso now I just have to give it to Adrian, and then I can leave him be.h


gI think I should stay to give you some support, no telling whatfll happen with Adrian.h


gNo, I already told you, just leave. I can handle it myself, itfs not like wefll get into a fight.h That at least, was certain, but Sarima was still unsure.


gI think Ifll stay, besides, hefs already here,h Shawn nodded his head toward the direction where another figure was approaching.


gWhat?h Sarima was surprised as she turned around and saw Adrian, walking toward them alone, and with a face that showed he wasnft happy to see Shawn.


gJaymes and Cale were right, there have been a lot of appearances today,h Shawn stated.


gJust stay put, Shawn, Ifll talk to Adrian alone.h Sarima strode over to where Adrian had stopped and held out the Ice Orb. gHere.h


Adrian received the Orb and examined it while it rested in his open palm; he quickly glanced from the Orb to Sarima, to Shawn, then back to the Orb before placing it in his pocket and turning to walk away. gThanks.h


gUh . . . No problem.h Sarima imagined the meeting taking a longer time than that, but Shawn hadnft said anything, which was probably for the best, and Adrian wasnft the type for conversation. So it shouldnft have been a surprise that he wouldnft have wanted to stay a bit longer. But he did say ethanksf, which was more than Sarima had expected.


Chapter Four:

Always a Competition

Not too far away from Malhorul Island, the ship carrying Halo and his crew was sailing along the open sea, still looking for a place to land. Halo was snoozing on his favorite place, the customized prow. Between his eyes was a type of bridge piercing, two thin metal strips that bent over the curve of his nose, which glinted in the sun that floated straight overhead in the clear blue sky.

Mantra rushed up to the deck where his captain was with an urgent message. gHey dad! DAD, wake up!h

gWha . . .h he drowsily opened his eyes, the bright blue of his irises barely visible as he sat up and sneezed. gSomeone must be talking about me again.h

gNo, it was the sun again. Itfs right in front of you.h Mantra rolled his eyes; he lost any sense of urgency, though he didnft have much to begin with since he remained pretty calm all the time.

Halo yawned. gYeah I guess . . . Stupid sun. What did you want?h

gOh yeah, therefs two naval ships heading toward us now, I thought you should know.h

gReally?h he turned his gaze from Mantra and focused his eyes on the two large ships that lay on the horizon. They werenft as big as his ship, but there was no doubt the crews on each were bigger. Not that it would matter. gOh, what do you want me to do about it?h

gWell Jacen is wondering what to do, evade them . . . charge them . . . what?h

gJust tell him to keep sailing straight.h Halo was fully awake now, and his tone was serious. Mantra didnft hesitate to leap away from the prow and dash up to the helm where the navigator, Jacen, would be.

gHe said to sail straight through,h Mantra passed the order on.

gStraight through? Doesnft he know that they have cannons?h Jacen wondered, but he still complied. Even though he seemed skeptical, he believed that his captain always made the right decisions.

gIfm sure he has a plan,h Mantra replied. gYeah, see, hefs getting ready to fight,h he pointed down from the helm at Halo, who had hopped down from the prow and stood on the deck below it.

gSuch a troublesome sun,h Halo complained to himself. gI hate noon, it always hides my shadow, makes it a little more difficult for me. Stupid sun.h He raised his right arm, one with a colorless tattoo on the forearm which was constantly revealed by the sleeveless black shirt and closed gray vest. It was of a black circle resembling a halo, inside of which were the crossbones of a pirate, and outside of the halo was an outline of a four pronged shuriken around it. Obviously a reflection of who he was.

While Halofs arm hovered in front of him, it cast a small shadow directly below on the wooden deck, dark enough for Halo to accomplish what he wanted. He made a quick motion solely with his hand, and two katana appeared on top of the dark spot, each of them resting in their separate scabbards. He picked both of them up and attached them to his large golden belt, which held the swords in place. The hilts of the katana had intricate designs: one had a smooth black handle with a dragon imbedded on the bottom, and the other had the same, only with the design of a fox.

Now with his dual katana secured on his waist, he was ready for an assault. He called for Mantra and it was only a second before the first mate had appeared by his captainfs side. gYes?h

gGet ready to fight,h Halo said as if it was obvious.

gSorry, I thought you would have wanted to take both on by yourself,h he replied. gItfs not like one would be much of a challenge.h

gRight, I know youfd join in the action whether I said to or not, just get ready,h Halo demanded while glaring at the two opposing ships. gWefre coming within range of them.h

The navy crews were geared up and ready to fight. Cannons on either side of their ships were loaded up of course, but there was always a chance of close combat. Especially while facing a Sea Lord, they always relied on their skills to win battles rather than their ships.

gCaptain!h one of the naval crewmen called up from the main deck, gwefre coming within range of the enemy!h

The commander of the first ship peered over the railing of the upper deck, where the helm was. He was rather fit, and wore a big white trench coat, which most navy captains wore. gOur opponent is number 1 of the Sea Lords, and Ifm positive hefll wanna take the fight to our decks. Be ready with pistols and blades, because he wonft go easy on you.h

gYes, sir!h

gThese guys better be strong to face me head on,h Halo observed as he stood calmly on the tip of his prow, arms crossed. gDid I just rhyme?h

gI think so,h Mantra lazily confirmed from his place on the railing, next to the prow. gWith ships those size, you wouldnft think theyfd be strong. But I guess looks can be deceiving.h

gI doubt it, Ifm sure theyfre just idiots among the navy who think they can earn some easy cash.h Halo scowled. gSeriously, Ifll take it as an insult if they canft even give me a scratch.h

gWell, if they do end up being another weak navy crew, then at least we get a little warm up.h

gMeh, how ebout this, Mantra.h Halo glanced to the side at his first mate. gWe can make this a game. First one to take care of their ship and return is the winner.h

gSounds good to me,h Mantra smirked.

gDonft get cocky, now, Mantra,h he cautioned, although Halo couldnft hold back a smirk either. He turned his head back toward the helm. gOi! Jacen!h

gYeah?h the navigator called back.

gDonft answer me with a eyeah!f That should be eyes captain!fh

gAll right, what did you want?h Jacen replied knowing well that his captain wouldnft back up his threat.

gHey! How ebout I come up there and—h

gIs this really the time to be arguing?h Mantra cut in, gWefve got about two minutes left before theyfre in range.h

gOh, right . . .h Halo turned back toward Jacen. gJust make sure that the crew has all the cannons below deck loaded up and ready to fire, just in case!h

Jacen gave a fleeting nod. gGot it!h

gGood!h the Sea Lord turned back toward the enemy ships, his eyes shifting to a dark shade of blue.

gYoufre actually serious about this, arenft you, dad?h Mantra noticed by the change of his captainfs eyes.

gI guess so . . . Probably because Ifm determined to beat you.h

gI should be the determined one here! When have I ever beat you before?h

gWell there was that one time when we played chess . . .h

gOh yeah, you still refuse to play that with me.h

gYou cheated!h

gI did not!h

gWell chess is a stupid game anyway.h

gI think itfs great, it just takes a bit of strategy.h

gI can use strategy, I just donft like to.h

gYeah, yeah, I know.h

Both of them looked away from each other and realized that their two minutes were up.

gCatch you on the flip side,h Halo said as he was ready to jump.

gDonft ever say that again,h Mantra replied.

gIt sounded cool in my head, sorry.h Halo smiled. gOn the count of three.h

gOne,h Mantra said.

gTwo,h Halo continued.

gThree,h both said at the same time as they leapt off of the ship and soared over the ocean toward their selected target. Halo landed gracefully on his chosen ship two seconds before Mantra landed on his in the same fashion. Both had their weapons drawn at the exact same time.

With his dual katana, Halo slaughtered two navy officers that happened to be on the prowfs deck where Halo landed, even before they knew what was going on. He bounded down to the lower deck, where the rest of the crew awaited. The single Sea Lord stood there, blades drawn, facing at least 20 enemies.

gHefs here!h one of them shouted, gPrepare yourselves!h

Pistols were aimed and swords were drawn, and Halo couldnft help but smile.

Mantra was going through the same thing on his ship; both of his sabres were drawn, resting in his hands as he stared down the enemy crew. Even though they werenft paying attention to each other, both Halo and Mantra acted in perfect synchronization. They launched themselves at their enemies. Bullets fired from the barrels of several pistols, but each one to no effect, since the targets moved too fast.

Blood splattered every which way from the corpses that littered the decks. gItfs the Crimson Blaze, hefs too fast!h a navy crewman shouted before he was taken down by Mantra.

gThatfs what you get for challenging us,h Halo said, more to himself than his foes, as he cut down two more enemies. No matter what they did, Halo and Mantra didnft receive even a scratch. One blade came close to Mantrafs arm, but he was still too quick to even get a minor cut, and the holder of that opposing blade swiftly met his demise.

Three enemies attacked Halo in unison, two with single blades, the last with dual blades, hoping that the outnumbering in swords would help them. It didnft, as Halo fluidly stepped out of the way, and the enemy blades pierced nothing but air while the blades of Halofs katana slit two of their necks at once. That left the dual wielding underling, who took what he thought to be his chance to attack and slashed both of his swords at once. Yet, once again, his blades failed to make contact.

gI thought maybe a dual wielder would have been a bit more challenging at least,h Halo spoke from behind the man, who was too frightened to move. gTurns out youfre just like the rest, only with an extra weapon.h The blade of Halofs fox katana pierced through the back of the navy man and found his heart. He dropped to the deck the moment the blade retreated from his lifeless body, and Halo was on his way.

That was all of the crewmen on the main deck of the ship, for both Halo and Mantra. The only thing left was to meet the captains, which would be up at the helm.

gLetfs get this over with,h Halo said as he faced the enemy captain. gThis whole crew was a disappointment, Ifd like to just kill you and get back to my ship now so I can go to sleep.h

gDonft mock me!h the captain shouted, obviously insulted by being underestimated.

gI wasnft mocking you. . . at least, I donft think I was. Ifm just saying that I donft feel like wasting any more time here. Jeez, I didnft even have to use my element at all.h

gMy crew may not have been a challenge, but I sure will be!h The enemy captain withdrew a cutlass and a pistol. gLetfs see you face this combination!h

gOh yeah, great, as if Ifve never seen that before.h Halo yawned, his eyes had returned to their regular brightness, as an indication that he was no longer serious. gTell you what, Ifll use one katana against you,h Halo proposed, sliding his dragon katana back into its scabbard.

gYou shouldnft underestimate me,h the captain declared arrogantly.

gI know I shouldnft, but Ifm just so sure that Ifll win, therefs no reason for me to be serious. So stop talking, because Ifm attacking now.h Halo launched himself at the captain, katana reared back behind his head; the pistol fired its bullet right at the moment when Halo slashed. The bullet fell dully to the ground, split into separate pieces. The barrel of the pistol and the blade of the cutlass both clattered to the deck afterwards. Halo stood up straight, while the captain backed up; all of his efforts literally fell to pieces with only one slash of Halofs blade.

gWha-wha-what the hell?h the captain stammered.

gI told you I was too strong for you, I donft know what you were thinking when you decided to pursue one of the Sea Lords.h Halo sheathed his sword and detached both scabbards from his waist, dropping them into the shadow that the looming mast overhead had cast, and both of his weapons disappeared.

The captain dropped to the deck, trying to back up from his opponent, his executioner. gD-donft kill me, please, I know I was wrong to come after you, but I thought—h

gYou thought you would get some easy money for catching me? You thought that two ships smaller than mine with a horribly inferior crew led by an even more inferior captain would suffice? You obviously thought wrong, and now you can suffer for the insult.h Halofs shadow stretched out toward the captain, and started to consume him, feet first.

gWh-what are you doing?h the captain struggled frantically, but the consuming shadow was holding him in place.

gDarkness will devour your soul, and the only thing that awaits you after that is death.h The shadow continued to inch up the captainfs body. It was close now to completely covering him in its cloak, but something else caught Halofs attention, in the direction of the opposite ship.

The captain that Mantra faced also tried to use the same tactics of wielding both a cutlass and a pistol. But it didnft affect Mantra either, and even though it took Mantra more than a single slice to disarm his opponent, he was already finished with his ship. The captain was beheaded, his motionless corpse lay in a pool of blood on the deck, and Mantra was now returning his sabres to his back.

gOh crap, I wasted too much time talking.h The shadow released the captain and Halo disappeared without any indication of remembering that he was supposed to kill the captain.

gI . . . Ifm safe,h the captain sighed gratefully.

Halo kicked the mast of the ship hard, forcing it to crack and fall. He used the collapsed mast as a path back to his ship, which was only now several feet from the enemy ships. Halo rushed up his newly made path and soared back to his ship, and landed nicely on the main deck and looked around for Mantra. The first mate arrived five seconds after his captain.

gHa, I win,h Halo beamed.

gYeah, but I actually killed the captain I was against.h

gOh yeah . . . I forgot, Ifll take care of it though. All hands below deck! – not you Mantra – prepare to fire when we close in on the enemy ships!h Halofs smile didnft fade as he glanced at Mantra, who in turn had a sour look on his face.

The large ship passed between both of the naval ships, and cannons erupted from both sides simultaneously, reducing both of the small ships to nothing but debris.

gThere,h Halo pointed at the debris, where the body of the captain that he was supposed to kill bobbed in the water. gSee, hefs dead. So I win.h

gBut, you were supposed to kill the captain before getting back to our ship!h Mantra declared.

gI never said that was a rule!h

gWell it was implied!h

gI never implied it either!h

gYeah, but—h

gHey, you two,h Jacen shouted from the helm.

gWhat?!h They replied.

gJeez, you donft have to yell at me,h Jacen stated, gI just wanted to tell you that therefs an island up ahead.h

And sure enough, there was. It seemed small, made up of grassland and few trees. What was interesting about it though, was that there were already three large ships, similar to Halofs, docked near the beach.

gI recognize those ships . . .h Halo said. gIt appears that we get to visit some fellow Sea Lords.h Halo smiled happily now, gSarima, Shawn, Adrian . . . I wonder what theyfre doing here.h


Chapter Five:

Story of a Love Lost

Now that he had what he came for, Adrian had no reason to linger on this barren island. He didnft bother to glance back at the two fellow Sea Lords that he had just met up with. Being anywhere near them for longer than he had to was not an appealing idea. The black cloak that hung over his rather fancy clothing was flapping in the wind as he walked towards his ship, wanting nothing more than to re-board it and get as far away from any Sea Lord contact as he could.

Adrian, however, did not get very far. He halted in step once he spotted two figures heading toward him at incredible speeds; they were practically blurs. But enough of their features were discernible for Adrian to realize that the black haired one was Halo. This meant that the one trailing close behind him, trying to keep up, must have been the first mate, who Adrian didnft know personally.

It was certain that Sarima and Shawn also noticed the new arrivals, but for some reason they didnft act and stayed put. Perhaps it was because they didnft want any more interaction with Adrian, which was perfectly fine with him.

gHold up,h Halo commanded as he came to an abrupt halt, and Mantra obliged. gAdrian, whatfs up?h

Ignoring the attempt at a friendly greeting, Adrian went with a colder welcome. gWhat are you doing here?h

gJust came to check out what was going on.h The cold remark didnft affect Halo at all; he was used to it coming from Adrian. gYou canft expect me to ignore an island that has three of our ships docked at it.h

gI suppose not.h The bitter Sea Lord crossed his arms, aware that he probably wasnft going to be leaving right away anymore.

Halo dismissed the former for a moment to address his first mate. gWhy donft you go over to Sarima and Shawn?h

gWhac Yeah, all right,h Mantra added after noticing his captainfs expression, realizing that he needed to be gone. After he headed over to the other two Sea Lords, probably not knowing what he was going to say to two superiors, Halo turned back to Adrian.

gSo did you find your orb?h Halo asked immediately.

Adrian raised an eye brow. gHow did you know?h

gI just figured you mightfve found it, wasnft sure though. Sfwhy I asked.h He reached out with his right hand in an asking fashion. gCan I see it?h

Without a word, Adrian withdrew the glowing blue orb from his pocket and lightly tossed it. Halo caught it easily, instantly clutching it. He then held it up closer to his face in order to inspect it more thoroughly.

gLooks cool,h Halo said simply, unable to resist appreciating the mystifying glow.

gSo are you going to tell me why I had to cross the sea to search for this?h There was a certain tone in Adrianfs voice, like he was accusing Halo of something.

gI told you before, along with the rest of us, I donft know why wefre searching for these.h Halo noticed the look on his allyfs face and quickly added, gBut I know theyfre important.h

gHow so?h

gCfmon,h Halo urged, gyou know I wouldnft put us through something like this if I didnft think it was worth it.h

Again, Adrian stayed silent with a somewhat mocking look on his face. Halo didnft like that; he stopped staring at the orb and quickly tried to think of something to say, hopefully something encouraging.

gWhy does it concern you so much? Since you already have your orb, you shouldnft be worried.h He lowered his orb-bearing hand half way then added, gItfs only been a week since we started this quest, so youfre probably the first to have found one.h

gI didnft actually find it, Sarima did.h Even as he said it, Adrian didnft seem too happy about this fact.

gThat explains why youfre here,h Halo said excitedly, as if it were a mystery that needed solving. gShouldnft it make you happy that you barely had to do anything?h

gIt might. But now I have to wait for everyone else to find their orbs, while I guard mine without knowing why.h Halo didnft reply right away, so Adrian continued, gAnd I donft know how long itfll take the rest of you.h

gProbably a few months at the most,h Halo answered to the best of his ability, gBut Ifve never been one to look to the future. I focus on the present; I suggest you do the same.h He tossed the light blue orb back to its true owner, and Adrian caught it and put it back in his pocket with one movement, right as Halo moved to pass by him. He talked as he walked by, gDonft worry so much about what the orbs will do. Youfve still got plenty of time to do whatever you want. Just forget about this quest for now, since your part is over at the moment.h

Adrian didnft watch as Halo passed, it wasnft until the fellow Sea Lord was a few feet behind him that he turned to ask something else, causing Halo to stop once more. gWho told you about these orbs?h

There wasnft an immediate response. Halo didnft look back at Adrian, but still smiled before saying, gAn old man.h

He wasnft sure if it was sarcasm or not, but Adrian asked all the same, gJust some random old man?h

gWell, hefs obviously not random,h Halo turned his head in order to rest his light blue eyes once again on Adrian before continuing. gI trust him to know what hefs talking about, just as you should trust me.h He shoved his hands into his pockets as he looked away from Adrian and up into the clear blue sky. gYou know, Adrian, we really arenft that much different.h

gI wholeheartedly disagree.h The contempt in Adrianfs voice was obvious.

gIfm sure you do.h Halo closed his eyes as he felt the calm breeze barely whipping his hair and clothes. gThat day when we came to recruit you, after busting you out of jail, I remember we found you in a cemetery. Ifm not sure how many of the others noticed it, but that grave you were kneeling byca girl, right?h Adrian didnft answer, but Halo continued anyway. gI took a special interest in you after that day, for some reason.

gI know what itfs like, in a sense. Itfs like youfd never be able to love again, or to even open your heart to anyone else, right?h Once again, Halo looked back at Adrian in order to gauge his reaction. It wasnft much, just a cold glare, but the man still replied.

gDoesnft seem like you ever went through the same thing I did,h Adrian said with a tone that was as cold as his stare. gYou always seem to be happy.h

gMaybe,h Halo turned away, gbut Ifm incapable of feeling love now. That kind of emotion has long been lost to me.h There was a moment where neither of them said anything, Adrianfs cold stare turned to one that seemed to resemble pity, while Halo battled with himself to say more. It was a painful subject; he couldnft conclude with anything that could appease an appetite for further information, gIfm sure youfll understand if I donft want to talk about my past.

gHowever, realize that I know how you feel, even if Ifve chosen to deal with it differently.h The somber look on Halofs face disappeared and was replaced with an unconvincing smile; this conversation made him experience unpleasant memories, ones hefd wish could be forgotten. gAnyway, like I said before, your job is done for now. Youfll be summoned when the rest of the orbs are found, so donft worry until then.h

No more was spoken between the two as Halo walked off toward his first mate and the remaining two Sea Lords, hands still in his pockets. Adrian watched for a few more seconds before finally turning to leave.

gWhat were you two talking about?h was Sarimafs welcome to Halo as he joined them.

Halofs eyebrows furrowed somewhat, gDoes it really matter?h

gWell you looked sad for a minute there,h Sarima defended herself with a sympathetic sounding tone. gItfs not like you have to tell me if you donft want to.h

gNo, it wasnft a big deal. Just about the orbs and how I still donft know anything more than the rest of us.h He glanced at Shawn to acknowledge his presence and added, gWhatfs up, Shawn?h

gNothing new, but nothing old either, so I canft complain.h His regular cocky smile was set upon his face, Halo wasnft sure if hefd ever seen the man with any other kind of expression. It was also hard not to notice the engaging blue eyes resting under the matching colored headband. They were a different shade than Halofs, but still intriguing all the same.

gOf course,h Halo accidentally looked at Mantra next, and knew right away that the first mate had noticed exactly what Sarima had pointed out; Halofs sad expression earlier had not gone unnoticed. He quickly thought of something new to say in order to get Mantrafs weary gaze off him. gDid you have fun talking to these two, Mantra?h

gI didnft have much to say,h Mantra replied, slightly letting up with his accusing look. gThe only thing they want to talk about is something that Ifm not allowed to hear.h

gYou mean the orbs?h Halo asked.

gYeah,h Sarima answered, gBut after he came over, we figured you sent him over here to keep us from joining you and Adrian.h

gNot really, I just didnft want him in on the conversation,h Halo said, leaving out the fact that it was true he hadnft wanted Sarima or Shawn to hear what he had to say to Adrian. gBut anyway, I know why you two are here, you mind staying a bit longer?h

gFor what?h Sarima was first to ask.

gI doubt you guys explored this island much, and Ifve heard about this place before,h Halo paused for a second to form his next sentence. gThe island of Malhorul, it used to be home to an underground palace or something, Ifm not sure of what it was specifically. But Ifm sure itfs still here somewhere.h

gSo you want to find it and explore it?h Sarima inquired.

gYeah,h Halo answered. gDonft you think itfd be a good place to search for one of the orbs?h

gIfll join you on that search,h Shawn spoke up. gMaybe Ifll find something else of interest as well.h

gIfll come along as well,h Sarima said. gI donft have much hope after that first disappointment though.h

gRight then, it should be somewhere in the field,h Halo stated. gThe entrance is supposedly in the ground, hidden by that long grass. It might be a little difficult to find, but Ifm sure we can do it. Of course, this is now Sea Lord business,h he spoke to Mantra, gwhich means youfll have to go back to the ship now.h

gYeah, yeah, Ifm going.h He made no attempt to argue; Mantra had already accepted that he wasnft going to know anything about these gorbsh any time soon. Without saying anything else, he took off at a full sprint, moving just as fast as before; it only took him about a minute or so to get back to the ship. During that time, he was thinking about what Halo could have said to Adrian, because he, Mantra, knew Halo better than anyone. And there was only one subject that could make his captain, his best friend, have such a sad look upon his face.

Hopefully, Mantra thought, the exploration of this island would take Halofs mind off of the past. Although Mantra wished he could be a part of it, he was given an order to return to the ship, and he wouldnft disobey. He climbed the wooden ramp and ended up on the deck of the ship, where he was met with a surprise. The rest of Halofs crew, which wasnft very big at all, was standing around, along with a man who Mantra never expected to see set foot on this specific ship: Adrian Sevitor.

Mantra didnft even have to ask, Jacen explained immediately after seeing the first mate. gHe showed up not too long ago. Said he had a question.h

gA question for Halo?h Mantra asked.

gNo, a question for you,h Adrian confirmed. His tone wasnft polite, though Mantra figured it never was. Adrian made to move forward toward Mantra, the others of Halofs crew followed suit, and they all huddled around, trying to hear what this new occurrence was all about.

gYou want to know about his past, right?h Mantrafs scarlet gaze didnft let go of the Sea Lord.

gCorrect. How did you know?h

gI saw Halofs face when he was talking to you. He looked sad,h Mantra explained. gHe only looks sad like that when he remembers his past, so I figured he told you something. And he probably didnft tell you everything, otherwise you wouldnft be here, Ifm sure.h

gYou have good insight.h Adrianfs look was sour as he spoke again, gIt may seemc odd, I guess, that Ifm interested in what happened to him. But he knows about what happened to me, and what he said earlier intrigued me. More than I thought it should.h

gI can understand, he has a way of saying just enough to make you want to know more,h Mantra grinned at this statement. The rest of the crew was still standing around, waiting to hear more of this conversation, hungry for the same information that Adrian was there for. Besides Jacen, none of them knew anything about their captainfs past, although even Jacenfs knowledge of it was limited.

gSo will you tell me?h Adrian asked simply.

gI donft mind telling you, because Ifm sure Halo doesnft care if you know. He probably would have told you himself about it if it didnft hurt him so much to remember it. However, Ifm more concerned about the rest of you,h he added, looking at the crew, gbecause Halo doesnft want people feeling sorry for him. So you have to promise not to act any different toward him after I tell you his story.h

gWe promise,h Jacen replied, and several of the others grunted and spoke their agreement. Adrian stood silent with his arms crossed, like normal, waiting for the story to commence.

gI donft want to make this a long drawn out story,h Mantra started, gso Ifll try to summarize it as much as possible.h He took a seat on the nearest railing, and some of the crew did the same, but most of them, as well as Adrian, remained standing. gHalo spent the first 18 years of his life doing pretty much nothing but training to be a great warrior. His father was the one that trained him, as well as me. Ifve been Halofs friend ever since we were young, and we trained together. Yet he always was stronger than me, no matter how much I tried to be better. Kinda made me madc

gAnyway,h Mantra said, noticing the impatient looks, gyou know that piercing on his nose? It was given to him after he became an adult, at the age of 18. Just as it was given to every member of his family when they came of age. It was just one of their traditions. And after that, Halo was free to do what he wanted. He left his home island to travel the world, but it was hard for him at first, considering the only thing he really knew how to do was fight. His father never taught him much else, other than basic education. The rest of his knowledge comes from experience from travelling.

gEventually, in his travels, he met a girl. Saved her from danger, though I donft know the exact details of their meeting. But they were together for a few years, and Halo was in love with her, just as she loved him, or so he thought she loved him.h The faces around Mantra didnft change too drastically, just a little shock on some of them, but they urged for the story to go on. gShe betrayed him eventually. It turned out she was just acting, I guess. Of course, I wasnft actually there, so I donft really know what happened; I never even met the girl. I just know she never loved him and pretty much broke his heart so bad that he was never able to feel love again. Even to this day, hefs convinced that the emotion doesnft even exist, that itfs just an illusion.h

gHow do you know all this?h Adrian asked finally.

gHe returned to his home island after she left him, and I found him in a bar, drinking himself practically to death. While he was drunk, he didnft refrain from sharing with me what had happened. Ifm sure he doesnft remember the night that he told me about it, but hefs aware that I know. If I hadnft been there for him, I think he really would have given up on life.h At this point, Mantra couldnft help but express a sorrowful look, but he quickly shook it off and continued, gJacen, you were there too at this point. I donft think he told you anything thoughch

gNo,h Jacen confirmed, gI didnft know what happened to him, I just knew he was depressed about something and I didnft ask about it.h

gRight. He was extremely depressed, and a few days after returning home, he found his affiliation for darkness. I wasnft around when he realized his power, and I also donft know how he found out, but he instantly left once again, this time to search for the rest of you guys. Ones like him that had special elemental powers. And he formed the Sea Lords.h

gEven to this day though, five years after it happened, hefs still depressed, even if he doesnft show it too much. Hefs just gotten used to it I guess, he can hide it well. But if you really watched him, he does show signs that he still feels that anguish.h Mantra looked thoughtful for a moment. gLike how he sleeps all the time.h

gI thought he slept all the time because he was bored?h one of the crew asked.

gThatfs probably a reason for it, but no, the main reason is because he can escape reality through his dreams. He doesnft like to be in reality for too long.h

gBut he canft sleep at night,h Jacen pointed out, as if this justified something.

gYeah, he can only sleep during the day. But he doesnft actually have to sleep to get energy; he instantly gets rejuvenated once night falls.h

gWas he always like that?h Adrian asked suddenly, something about that last statement sparked a point of interest.

gHmm,h Mantra mused. gNow that you mention it, no. Only since he formed the Sea Lords.h

gIndeedch Adrian looked to be pondering something, but he didnft continue talking. And no one egged him on.

gIs that all you want to know?h Mantra asked. gThatfs all I know about his past.h

gThat should be sufficient,h Adrian replied without gratitude, and then started to head away.

gHold on,h Mantra suggested. gI told you about his past, so you should understand him now, and I expect that youfll show him respect from now on.h

gIfve always respected him, just as Ifve respected all of the Sea Lords. That doesnft mean that I like any of them.h

gThat may be, but you have no reason not to like Halo at least.h Mantra glared, and Adrian did the same.

gItfs their fault that my life fell apart. After I failed to kill the Sea Lords, I crawled back to my country. They showed me no mercy, and they were going to end my life because of my failure. Then I realized that the woman I loved died, because of the time I was away. Had I been with her, she would still be alive today.h

gThatfs not Halofs fault, he obviously wouldnft have wanted to do that to you intentionally. And you could have done something other than try to kill the Sea Lords at the time. You could have run away with that girl that you left behind, you could have moved to an island and lived happily ever after—h

There was a sudden piercing cold. Adrianfs power had surged, and it caused the temperature around them to drop severely. Everyone shivered harshly, except for Mantra, who remained still with his eyes on Adrian, and, of course, Adrian, as he was the one that caused the drop in temperature. He couldnft have controlled it after that last statement, it angered him.

gYou think I never thought of that?h Adrian asked quietly. Mantra didnft reply, he knew it wouldnft be a smart move, and Adrian was nice enough to drop it. But before leaving, he had one more thing to ask, gThat girl from Halofs past, is she still alive?h

gI would assume, yes,h Mantra answered, gI dread the day that she may show up again.h

Everyone fell silent; it seemed Mantrafs words implanted an image in their heads that was highly unpleasant. Adrian knew everything he came for, so his business on Halofs ship was done, and he moved to leave. Mantra didnft try to stop him, and he didnft have any last words to say as Adrian started down the ramp. He just kept his sitting position on the railing and watched the Sea Lord leave. But before Adrian reached the soft ground, he turned to say one last thing.

gThanks for telling me what I wanted to know,h and he turned again and headed off without a glance back, leaving Mantra with a curt smile on the latterfs face.