|NfaN, Book 2: THE AUTUMN OF TWILIGHT
Author: KairiVenomus PM
Sequel to SHADOW DANCER:Since Kai has joined the Shadow Dancers in the race to possess the all powerful Shadow Key, the remaining ninja must overcome the horrific obstacles Kai has placed in order to slow them down: their worst fears. The clock ticks down as the Great Battle nears, & Lloyd is faced with an inquest: Will he be able to slay his own brother in order to save the world?Rated: Fiction T - English - Supernatural/Suspense - Lloyd G. & Kai - Chapters: 26 - Words: 121,025 - Reviews: 148 - Favs: 12 - Follows: 15 - Updated: 02-09-13 - Published: 01-06-13 - Status: Complete - id: 8883578
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I AM SORRY. D: YES, I KNOW, PLEASE DON'T HATE ME, but this chapter's from Caroline's POV. But I like writing from Caroline's POV and I hold back on it a lot. DX You guys probably hate reading about Caroline. But I apologize a million times! What was I supposed to do, make Jay randomly appear and tell the story? NO. That wont fly. :D
Now, aside from that!
Sorry this took so long to upload, but I've been sickly. D: I'm just glad its not Arachnaeus. SO ENJOY! XD
THE AUTUMN OF TWILIGHT
10. THE SAVIOR & WEAPON
Caroline bolted past the closet in which they hid the burning sage in the second she turned the corner, stealing away from the staircase as she clutched the key in her hand, an oddly shaped piece of metal manipulated by a genius like herself to keep even the most peculiar of keys from embracing its lock. Lest Father had crammed the door shut behind her when she'd abandoned him and his thirteen caskets to aid the ninja, she wouldn't need to use it. She slipped down the narrow hall disbanding curious lirkers from accessing it. Located just beyond the bedrooms crammed between where a wall lay, emitting the effect that there was nothing beyond that point, and the last bunk room, Caroline shuffled the tight squeeze, sliding her back against the chilly wall. It was a devious accent she'd added to her Bounty to hide what secrets she could manage to hide from some like, say, the ninja, for instance. Who would suspect to check between a room and a wall to find a path to lead to the goods? Trespassers wouldn't think twice when shunning the last rooms; checking in them for valuable things would be pointless. If there were any wondrous items anywhere, they wouldn't be hidden beyond the front rooms, correct?
Caroline reached tranquility when she weaseled out of the last of the hallway after maneuvering the corner at the end of the first tunnel, leading the opposite direction in which she'd come in a fashionable manner. There, in the hidden cave, she was relieved to see a Cover-Count of all thirteen caskets, each embroidered with golden trim atop their black woods. The room was a tight squeeze with them all, even as some had stacked over each other, with Father's extra fix-it table shoved against the far wall where the once-impenetrable Zane lay, his eyes an unholy glare to the roof over his head. Father bent over him, his gray hair an unruly tangle haloing his yellowing skin. His lab coat stretched over the arch of his back, the only thing Caroline could see entering the secret room. Peering around him from the distance, she saw Zane's form nearly nude, his lower half covered by a single white towel. His rose-colored lips parted halfway in his final, eternal gasp, Zane wore the painful expression of fear and shock, two emotions Caroline was aware he wasn't programmed with. His arm dangled limply over the side, where a lightning-shaped scar of ash ran down his skin, protruding at the fingertips. A chunk of his cheek had peeled, leaving a raw minimum of silver metal gleaming beneath the false skin.
Caroline held back the pain, scaring it away with a torch. She remembered more than Father thought she did about Zane. She remembered helping Father save his life as a human all those odd years ago when he gave out from beneath that wretched illness, the illness he'd unintentionally passed to her when she kissed him the night before his human form gave out. Oh, yes, she sorrowfully yet unregrettfully had found herself guilty of falling in love with him throughout her career as a healing maid at his service. She knew Zane hadn't even been trying; the only thing he had been trying to do was process what peculiar things were happening in the old, rickety house beyond the Ice Forest. The things he couldn't see happening in the basement were what made him peer curiously over her shoulder, trying his best to understand what she was doing up so late every night, why her father excused himself to days on end to the lab room beneath the first floor. Caroline remembered well the way that he'd reacted when she finally opened the doors to him on the Last Day, his shock when what she had revealed to his dainty knowledge was finally opened. With blood drizzling down his chin in a miniscule stream as he poked at the form of his replacement body, created purely from clockwork, mechanisms so deep that not even Caroline, who'd helped her father all sixteen years of her life unleash the true secrets of the extremities of science, couldn't understand. He had stared at what would become him with a horror so profound, it almost broke her heart to see him hate what she'd worked so hard to create for him so he could finally live in peace. She'd gone to the trouble to test her Memory Machine on him, the piece of time in which would be used to transport his current and past memories onto a small, white chip she could install into his robot to give him, at least, something that belonged to him.
"I won't have it!" Zane had yelled, gesturing wildly towards the metal replica of his soul lying flat on the wooden table. "I can't become a—a—a robot. Where is the cure in that? I've wasted my last days here in hopes that you could solve my spider problem and yet you continue to fail me, old man. How can I trust anymore now that you've ruined what I acquired? It had disintegrated from your selfish—your stupid solution. Did you really believe I would agree to such madness?"
With the memories lingering over her as she reached forward to touch Zane's cheek, Caroline realized she'd absentmindedly floated forward, guiding herself past the maze of coffins to him, rubbing his skin in an affectionate manner in hopes that she could somehow comfort his past memory. At her side, her father continued to attach new parts to his ruined insides. "Care, my lovely," he said chipperly, "why don't you be a dear and start opening boxes?"
"No more, no less." Father smiled at her, a contortion wrinkling his face. His eyes crinkled at the corners. Old age fearfully ruined his face. Unlike Caroline's forced transformation, Father refused to build himself a body, the wickers of time and destiny fulfilled his only arguments. She frowned at him but turned away, deciding which of the thirteen emblems she should unlock first, holding the key in her palms. She clutched at its promising metals as she reached for the nearest one. The casket's raising side was locked by a single, large, heart-shaped lock as big as her whole hand. Caroline held it against her skin as she raised the key to slide it to the lock, but paused. Did she really wish to do this? Although it had sounded convincingly like a perfect plan beforehand, she felt a stress now at the tension of her argument. Was releasing the army really a good idea?
Dubiously, Caroline turned, knowing she didn't have much time before the ninja got suspicious of her whereabouts. "Father…" she began. She was going to say, I don't know if I can do this. How can I? What was I thinking? But instead, words slipped unthought of from her lips, a first in the many piles of first things Caroline had experienced. "Where's Rikku?"
Father turned, startled. His hands froze against Zane's chest. "He's over there," he said at last, nodding to the corner opposite she. Caroline turned to find the one open casket sitting like a dying breath hovering in the air above her. She couldn't see him, but she could sense him, hiding in the plush reforms of the padded casket's silk.
"Why hasn't he come out?" She wondered aloud. Caroline had unlatched the casket after debating long and hard with her father, revealing the handsome, time-rid older brother of Zane's, who also had perished unfairly at the hands of illness.
"After you left, I told him not to," Father admitted. "I didn't know what you wanted me to do with him."
"Oh, Father!" Caroline gasped, rushing towards the casket. It was her fault she'd left his switch unturned to the sleeping setting all these years; Rikku was the last of the army they'd packed away into the hundred caskets purchased for the specific requirements for each droid. Caroline must have been too exhausted to pay mind to the small details such as this that had broken away Rikku. Although he didn't seem to be ruined, she felt awful for letting him sit there as long as he had, an artifact put to silence.
Her hands clasped the edge of the casket. She took in a sharp breath. It had been so long.
"Rikku," she breathed, and his golden eyes met hers.
"Carolyne, mon cherie!" He gasped, his accent roiling off his tongue deliciously. As he pronounced her old name, Care-oh-linn-ee, she felt a small flash of sadness at the end of a life. But then she smiled at the experience of meeting an old friend, and as he rose his pale body to a sitting position, she wrapped her arms around him, fending off distant memories with the swatting of her hand. His white hair, an obvious generic trait between brothers, was still twisted into the knot at the back of his head, flattened with the pressure of a still head for an eternity. Rikku had been the tremendously attractive of the two feuding brothers when they had both relinquished a life of heartbeat. He'd been the one who enjoyed the world as most figured they did, swimming in the rights they had rather than the beauty of the traits of life. Zane, however, had been opposite until he'd become Infected, a time long before the Reckoning. His strong, leanly muscled arms wrapped around her, pulling her against his wrinkled, black button down. He smelled of cobweb and sage, an essence burned in the secret room a lot, a silent vigil for those who were Reckoned. She buried her face in his hair as she fought the urge to cry.
"It's been too long," he murmured into her hair, pulling back so he could see her properly. She smiled foolishly and wiped her hands over his back.
"And for that I am eternally sorry. It wasn't my intention to leave you awake all these years."
"Pay no mind. I am just happy to see you. And, by the way, nice jammies." He pressed his hand to her arm, gesturing to her pink sweats. Caroline stepped aside so he could catapult himself graciously over the side of his casket, landing with perfect grace beside her. She smiled again at him. Standing a foot and a half over her, he brushed his hands over his trousers, dusting them from their fold against his chest. "I see we've been transported to a new area. Rather…cramped, isn't it?" Rikku shook his head. Silky white strands escaped his hair knot. "Regardless…where's Zane? I heard you mention him before."
Caroline didn't want to, but she explained to him what had happened, trying her hardest not to focus on the heartbreak in Rikku's golden eyes or the way it seemed as though his knees shakily began to give. It broke her heart to have to see such a thing, especially so quickly after being released from an awful captivity beneath a heady wooden cap, a casket of doom. It tore her in half. As a distraction Caroline figured working away at her task would be useful. She jammed the heavy key into locks as she tried to explain to Rikku the premise of her journey: Kai's betrayal, the darkness, Spinjitzu, Lloyd, and the ninja. There were so many things he frowned at, for he didn't understand. How could he? How would he know what Spinjitzu even was? The way he looked at her as she told him that Zane had been one of the ninja was astounding. Amusing, too, at his shock.
Each casket she opened revealed an old friend, a relic handed down by generations of illnesses gone bad. One particular illness, but this wasn't the least of concerns on Caroline's mind as she looked to her sleeping brothers and sisters, quiet and unearthly. She left each casket wide open for her father to activate, a skill he'd begin to use after she'd opened them all. Rejuvenating these lost souls would be tricky. This was only thirteen of the one-hundred-forty out there, the remainder of the caskets buried in the chambers of Julien's real home, a large mansion located at the outskirts of Maolo town. Each had a switch to power them on, but to ensure no droid could accidentally be activated, they'd had to re-slice wires and dissimulate certain robotic parts to temporarily "kill" them. Listening intently, Rikku grasped the dangling hand of his brother tightly as he sat on the nearest casket, trying to hold back broken tears. Caroline didn't blame him. She was barely holding onto sanity herself. It had been decades since she'd seen Zane; then the day she finally got to meet again the man she'd fallen in love with, he'd also died. It was a foolish, stupid tragedy. She hated it.
As Caroline unlocked, she counted. It was an internal score chart she listened to. Once she'd hit her thirteenth casket, she sighed, until she realized there was one more than there should've been. She frowned. It was the all-gold one beneath Rikku's resting body, tired easy from lack of using his mechanical joints. In fact, now that Caroline observed it better, she realized one of two things, the first being the fact that there was the single, multipurpose sign for "Savior & Weapon" etched into the breast of the casket's cap, and the second being that she'd never seen that casket before in her life. It sparked beneath the dim lights, shiny, brand-new to the world. She discovered that she had not miscounted. There were exactly fourteen caskets in this small room.
"Did you…pack an extra?" She asked, nodding to the large form beneath Rikku. He ran his elegant, long fingers over the ancient rune etched into the wood, a symbol as big as his palm. Zane, unresponsive beneath Julien's touch, didn't flicker as she rested her hand against his leg so she could peer at her father through the thick lenses of his glasses. Father pretended to be hard at work to the gears inside of the broken panel.
"You could say that," he admitted defeatedly.
Crossing her arms over her chest, Caroline leaned against the table, the key pressed to her heart. "What exactly do you mean? What's the 'Savior & Weapon'?"
Father's hands finally reached a rest, setting his tools aside. "Just a moment, Zaney boy," he murmured. Then, waving his hand for Rikku to leap aside, he instead declined the key from Caroline's offering, pulling a dissimilar one from his breast pocket. The silver metal slid into the ultimately golden lock. With a good twist, Caroline heard the quick jarring of the inner springs working themselves to life inside. "This is something I think the ninja will like," her father said. At her side, Caroline saw Rikku frown, scratching his head. His gaze flickered to the dead ice ninja briefly. "I think it will help Lloyd, too."
"You know of his prophecy?" Rikku asked. Caroline was proud he'd quickly caught on to the names of the ninja, and even the brief description she'd given him of Lloyd's destiny. She'd known of it even before the others had; she'd proposed this as an offering when beckoning Mr. and Mrs. Garmadon to her Bounty. Although she hadn't anticipated the beloved fire ninja as his sole target, Caroline had read every book there was to know about the history of the ancient scrolls foretelling the mystery of the second Spinjitzu Master's destinies. It came as a consequence for hours of boredom but as a reward for helping out the ninja. Or…what was left of them, anyway.
"Indeed," said Father. He removed the lock. "This will help. This is a savior for our friends, and a little edge against Kai. Now, stay back…" He slowly, surely lifted the casket's cap. From her position, Caroline was unable to see what the golden coffin kept hidden, but she could hear the familiar clicking of a switch being turned on. She waited in vain anticipation and impatience for the casket's surprise to be revealed, like ripping the band-aid off, although she hoped in high expectations that this would not be as painful.
"Keep in mind I have been saving, since I was young, the victims of the greatest illness that is not their fault," said Father, bent over the casket. Caroline stood on her toes to try and catch a glimpse of what lay beneath his shadow to no avail, just a prelude of agitation. "I've saved over a hundred innocent lives with my skill for inventing. That's over a hundred people who died from Arachnaeus that I resurrected. I was going to do the same with Lloyd until he miraculously healed, something I'm sure has to do with Kai and magic."
At the thought of Arachnaeus, Caroline touched Zane, remembering the blood he'd lost in life because of the Devourer's bloody sickness. Then, she remembered when it happened to herself, and Rikku, and every other poor resurrected soul sitting in the coffins surrounding her.
"So," Father continued, "I figured I'd extend my powers beyond just young people."
"I…beg your pardon?" Caroline frowned. "What does that mean?"
"It means…" Father stepped back as the Savior and Weapon raised themselves from the dead, a mechanical mechanism rising from the faulty line. Caroline gasped. The honest blue eyes staring back at her showed no sign of the death that had overcome them, an age-old face she didn't expect to see lying in the golden coffin. "…that you will respectfully and honorably welcome Sensei Wu to the Bounty Two."
XD Yaaaayyy Sensei Wu is back! Isn't it exciting?!
Now, this was a really short chapter, but the next one, in the morning when the ninja are actually awake to hear all of this cuz they all just totally passed out XD they'll be able to experience meeting Wu again AND get to learn more about the Clockwork Army, (respectfully titled THE CLOCKWORK ARMY) which we've learned a preface about in this chapter, as summarized below:
You learned that Julien (Father) had recreated people who died from Arachnaeus, which also is what Lloyd was infected with in the first book, SHADOW DANCER. So that basically tells you that Zane had it way before Lloyd did. You also learned that Zane didn't want to be a robot. The process of becoming a droid is that Julien recreated a replicated robot body for Zane. Caroline, who's been inventing sciencey projects with her father all her mortal life and even into her robotic one, had created a device that allowed her to take Zane's memories and put them onto a little chip that they could install into his body to make him ZANE rather than a random robot named Zane. Now, the Memory Switch, a mechanism that made Zane forget his past in the TV series of "Ninjago," has been tweaked enough in the story to where it also accidentally erased all memories before his Awakening after his Reckoning. (A TERM WHICH IM SURE YOU'RE DYING TO KNOW THE DEFINITION OF! :D) So therefore, Zane didn't remember Caroline at all when he stepped aboard the Bounty 2 in the final chapter of SHADOW DANCER. He also won't remember that segment of his mortal life, including who Rikku is. :( Sad he can't remember his own brother, but whatever, he's dead and it won't matter.
…or will it?
And keep in the back of your head that SHADOW DANCER did feature the fact that Jay made him his own personal memory chip … there could be a connection there! :D
Okay, well, I'll let you guys go now. :D Thanks for viewing, plz review, and PLEASE go have a great day/night/morning/evening!
P.S… Rikku will have more of a character in the next chapter, "THE CLOCKWORK ARMY."