Chapter 4

The Black Prince was a man who prided himself on his knowledge. His analytical mind was able to find unlikely and ingenious solutions to the various problems that would often find him.

Like any normal thief or con man, he could calculate and predict what any mark would do. He today he saw that he made an error in his calculations. A grave error.

He returned from his research experiments to find the Royal Arsenal in ashes. While his members were either evacuated or dropped off into the forest by the enemy, the damage was done. The research and works that his members had spent sometimes entire lifetimes making had become smoke and rubble.

This coupled with the abduction of Sir Iceman and disappearance of Cecilia Cheung, completely infuriated him.

And the Campione had the gall to send him a letter. Looking down at the words, he began to snarl.

Dear Alexander Gasciogne,

I must commend you for attempting to dissuade me from destroying your organization that day we spoke, you did have good logical reasons. Yet the problem laid in you not respecting me or rather not respecting the unknown and what it could hold. It was the first time we formally spoke and already you had an air of superiority though we are equals. You did not know me but chose to disrespect me. How many before you have dug their graves with such blunders. Now you see the consequences of your actions. Yet now I offer you a proposition.

You will reply to this letter and send it magically to our headquarters with a time and place for our duel. Fail to do so or attempting to destroy the Sixth Sun will result in the loss of your comrades, Sir Iceman and Cecilia. In the time and place of your choosing, we will fight and you can exact revenge as you see fit. This time I hope you don't disappoint me.

Sincerely,

The Sun King

Crushing the letter in his hands, he gnashed his teeth together and began to formulate his plan.

Across the world sat Cecilia Cheung. She sat in a dark room with one light to illuminate her. She wore her usual wide-rimmed glasses as her abductor/interrogator circled her.

"Well Ms. Cheung, are you ready to cooperate?"

The man was dressed in the same clothing as when she was captured.

"Not really, no. But trust me, if push comes to shove I'll relent and tell you how to color up your wardrobe."

The man sighed as there was a knock on the door.

Cecilia would've used this chance to flee but the choker on her neck that held a blue gem in the center kept her from using magic.

"Don't worry" said the voice. "I'll take over negotiations for Ms. Cheung.

The man at the door was none other than the perpetrator of this whole mess, the Sun King.

"My apologies for keeping you in such an uncomfortable position but so long as you agree to cooperate, you will be moved to a more relaxed setting." He explained in a soothing voice.

"You know that this doesn't end well for you right?" Cecilia knowingly answered.

"Well you're half right. If I don't get you to work with us, it will end badly for a certain person."

"Look, I know you are a Campione. I know you have immeasurable power that I could never hope to gain. But you've just made an enemy out of someone you should never have crossed and.."

"Ah!" The Sun King interjected. "I have to correct that statement. I did not make an enemy of the Black Prince. He made an enemy out of me when he not only stole something valuable of mine but also treated me with the upmost disrespect. Now can you look me in the eyes and tell me that I am truly in the wrong for all this?"

Cecilia looked away. Despite whatever she wished, he was right. This could have all been avoided if the Black Prince took a more diplomatic approach to this new Campione. If he hadn't jumped to conclusions, not once but twice, thing would have turned out much differently.

"Now the reason I need your help is because you are one of the few people who has close relations with the Black Prince. You know much more about the man than I do. What he likes, dislikes, his habits, his moods, his flaws and strengths."

He began to pace around the room. "Now after the destruction of his organization and my letter of challenge, we will no doubt face off against each other."

"So you want me to help you kill him? No thanks!" Cecilia retorted.

"Actually, I want you to help me convince him to join our alliance." The Sun King calmly explained.

His words echoed in Cecilia's head but she couldn't make sense of it.

Seeing her shake her head as she thought, the Sun King continued. "While such a trespass against me would absolutely warrant retribution, the destruction of the Royal Arsenal was simply a ploy. A tactic to get him to meet me in person. Despite our misgivings, we have a more pressing matter at hand."

He turned to face her. "I am sure you've heard of the King of the End correct?"

Cecilia nodded. "The one who manifests at the end of the era and is thought will bring about the end of the world. I read the report made about his manifestation near Japan and the subsequent battle with King Kusanagi and Great Priestess Hao."

"Excellent. Well then as you may already know, he not only destroys the world but comes as a Campione slayer of sorts. Now, it came to every Campione's mind that we should kill each other to lower the power of such a god who augments his own based on the number of Campione in the world. I have convinced three others to give up on this ridiculous idea and to create a united front to combat the threat."

"Wait who? The only people I can guess are King Kusanagi and possibly Madam Aisha." Cecilia questioned.

"Ah well King Kusanagi is one ally. The other two are John Pluto Smith and Lord Salvatore."

She looked dumbfounded. "No way! Lord Salvatore?! The King of Swords?! You convinced HIM?!"

Eyes wide with shock, she kept muttering. "I can't believe it. I can't believe it. I can't believe it."

"You're lying! You must be!" She accused. "A man like that couldn't possible join an alliance!"

She stared at the Sun King in disbelief as he sighed and commented "Has my dear brother earned such a bad reputation? He's not even…"

He quickly held his tongue. He hadn't really inquired about Doni's misdeeds. He was only reminiscing on the fun they had after the battle and being able to be himself around Doni since he was a Campione as well.

"Ahem…Anyways, it is the truth. Now your king is one who has tended to be a lone wolf, the Duke Voban notwithstanding."

Turning his back on Cecilia, he added. "Still, his profound intellect and arrogance, if used against us, are the biggest threats."

Turning to face her, he asked "Now can you tell me how I can convince him to join us?"

Cecilia sat in silence for a minute pondering and finally asked, "And if I say no?"

"Well if you refuse like Sir Iceman has then I will try to convince him myself and should I fail…"

He paused and took a deep breath. "If I fail, I'll have no choice but to put an end to his life."

His words reverberated throughout Cecilia's body, sending chills down her spine.

{End his life?} She looked at the man who just a moment ago had asked for her help with pleading eyes now spoke with authority on not possibilities but truth.

As he said those words, he showed no hesitation, no doubt, no uncertainty. It was as if for a moment, she could see the final result of his threat. As if, by looking into his eyes, she saw her king's death would come to pass.

Hours passed and the Sun King emerged with a smile. "You convinced her Your Majesty?" Asked the Penumbra.

"Yes. I just let her know what was at stake." He answered.

"So you learned how to deal with the Black Prince?"

"Indeed. Yet I found out something much more indispensable than that."

The Penumbra tilted his head. "And what would that be Your Majesty?"

He took a couple steps and elaborated with a smile. "The possible locations of Luo Hao and Duke Voban."

A young woman woke up with a start. She was lying on soft grass and wore a beautifully woven dress with exquisite patterns. It depicted many things: a snake with many heads that appeared slain on the ocean, a beautiful woman lay collapsed on a beach, a huge beast that was turned over and limp seemingly slain on the land, a burnt corpse along a pile of great ash that lay blowing away in the wind.

As she gazed on the designs, she smiled not knowing why, only feeling great joy at seeing the pictures.

Yet, as she looked at the images, there was one that irritated her for some reason.

The design seemed freshly woven. It portrayed an emerald serpent that coiled around a falling star. It seemed familiar yet she was unable to remember why.

She recognized that she was something beyond human. Though she didn't know how she came to be here, she felt an innate sense of where to go. She needed to retrieve something.

She began to walk as the tropical heat made her hair As she walked out of the jungle, she came across a young man working near a field, tending to plants that she felt would make a pleasantly strong drink.

"Tell me where the nearest sea is." She ordered calmly.

The man instantly fell in a daze and softly answered "Si cuñada…el Golfo esta alla, pasando la laguna." He said as he pointed towards the south.

She felt faint energies that emanated from distant places but the sea held the closest one.

As she began to walk, the young lady wondered. "Will this bring me the answers I seek?"