disclaimer: I own only the plot
A/N: This is basically only a set of prologues, but it will help to fill in some of the backstory, and hint at the future.

It was called the house of wolves, the house of the blood red moon, the House of Ishida. And for hundreds of years the mere mention of its name brought terror to the hearts of people throughout the land of Digidania. Its sons were gods of the battlefield, born with swords in their hands and death in their hearts. Its daughters were fatal visions of beauty, gifted with seductive eyes and poisoned lips. And over the course of three centuries the Ishidian line used these talents to build an empire of darkness that threatened to engulf the known world. The only thing standing in its way was the steadfast House of Kamiya, the house of lions and the golden sun. But in time, even their proud defense began to crack under the crimson flood that flowed in front of the warriors of Ishida, and a dominion of darkness seemed imminent.

But one day, the entire course of history was changed. It was a damp summer morning, and King Justin of Ishida mounted his horse for his customary morning ride. He was a tyrant among tyrants, cruel and bloodthirsty, killing things brought him great joy. And the happy image of his enemies' heads mounted on pikes filled his mind as he rode off into the morning mists. At sundown the horse returned, wild eyed and frantic. There was no sign of the king.

For two days the countryside was torn apart, but not even the slightest trace of King Justin could be found. It was as if he had just disappeared from the face of the earth. But on the morning of the third day, just as the sun was peeking over the horizon, the king appeared at the gates of his castle. He was naked, and covered in all manner of filth. Twigs and thorns protruded from his tangled hair and beard. His wild, darting eyes were sunken and bloodshot. He talked in the nonsensical babble of a madman, going on and on about another world filled with "monsters and angels".

It took five strong men to drag him to his chambers. He spent the next day locked inside being probed and examined by the royal healers, agonizing screams could be heard from sunrise to sunset. The next day the screams stopped and the healers left the chamber; pale, shaking, and desperate for a strong drink. Late in the afternoon a priest was sent for, and by early evening word came from the king's chamber that the castle should be striped of all finery, the silks and gold would be given to the poor, and the castle was to be left with only the gray, somber stone as decoration.

The following morning the king finally emerged. His head and beard were shaved, and he was dressed in the coarse clothes of a penitent. His eyes were still hollow and sunken, but they glowed with the sad wisdom of one who had seen the road to Hell. With noble regret he took his seat on his bare throne, and in a strong voice declared that the House of Ishida would no longer be a force of darkness, but instead a protector of light. The lands and people it had conquered would be set free, and they would always be able to seek protection under the shield of their former captor. And then he announced that from that day on; he, and each of his successors would sit on a throne of stone, and wear a cloak of coarse hair and a crown of iron. These signs would forever remind those who wore them of the murdering darkness that lurked in their hearts, and the blood of untold innocents that would always stain their hands.

In Kamiya they viewed the Ishidian king's change of heart with caution. King Araya in particular had the strong belief that it was all a ploy. He had fought against Justin and his family too many times, and seen all to closely how much they delighted in bloodshed and death. "They are the Devil's Children," he told his lords and advisors. When Justin heard of these words, he gave a sad smile, for he knew just how close to the truth Araya was.

Years passed, and Justin went about helping the lands and peoples he had freed from his family's conquests. Among these lands were what would become the mighty kingdom of Tachikawa, and the tiny island nation of Motomiya. He taught his children to fight only in defense of the good and just, and never for the joy of conquest and bloodshed. Many people began to believe that the House of Ishida had finally moved out of the darkness. But not Araya, in his heart of hearts he could never believe that the sons of Ishida could be anything besides tyrants and murderers.

Then there came a day when the armies of the far North began to harass Kamiya's border. Araya massed his army and moved against them at once. For it was whispered that those who dwelt in the Northern snow and ice were not entirely human, and there would be dire consequences if they should ever gain a foothold in the lands of the South. It is not said if Araya encountered man or demon when he finally met the Northern hosts, but he and his men did find themselves against overwhelming numbers, and defeat and death seemed certain. In desperation Araya sent word to Justin. "If you have truly embraced the light, then come now to my aid." he wrote.

Within a fortnight Justin and his armies arrived, and the creatures of the North were turned away. They would not bother the South for many years to come. After the battle Justin came to Araya and kneeled before him, asking forgiveness for his families crimes against Kamiya. Without the slightest pause Araya pulled Justin to his feet and embraced him, and from that day on the two men were as close as brothers. When Araya's daughter was born, there was even much talk that she would be betrothed to Justin's young son, and so unite the two kingdoms. Throughout the land people celebrated the idea of lasting peace and prosperity, but there were others who did not feel joyous at such a prospect.

There were those who worshiped the dark, and who believed an ancient prophecy that said they should meet their downfall at the hands of a child born between the houses of Ishida and Kamiya, born between darkness and light. Working through treachery and deceit, the followers of darkness orchestrated the brutal murder of Justin, his wife, and children. But they did not stop there, for they were so afraid of the possibility of the prophecy ever coming true that they killed every member of the Ishida family they could find, even those that were counted in their own ranks. In a single night of murder the bloodline of Ishida was wiped out.

Araya grieved deeply for many weeks. And in the books of record the downfall of Ishida was counted a tragedy instead of a triumph. The kingdom that Justin had ruled fell into chaos. His lords carved out their own tiny kingdoms and selfishly warred against each other. All over Digidania people hung their heads in sorrow, thinking of what might have been, and of what would never be.

But every now and then, if you happened to be walking along some gloomy forest trail, or passing through some dark alley, you might hear of a wild tale about Justin's youngest son escaping the slaughter of his family by being smuggled out into the countryside. And for many years after that horrible night, if you listened to the gossiping of the old village women, you could hear rumors of a child born deep in the woods with the signs of the dead House of Ishida; hair as golden as the sun, eyes the color of the deepest ocean, and a peculiar mark on the back of the neck; the place were it was said the Devil touched them in the womb.
many years later

The sun was high in the summer sky when the rider finally bid his horse to stop. It was the first stop in hours, the beast's black skin glistened with sweat, and its tongue rolled out of its mouth as it panted deeply. The rider was covered from head to toe in heavy black armor, but if the oppressive heat bothered him, then he did not show it. The place where he had chosen to stop was nothing much to look at. It was a clearing in the middle of the forest; there were some stray pieces of rotten wood, a couple of places where the ruins of an old stone wall could be seen. A field that might once have supported crops was now overgrown with weeds and wildflowers. No, it was not much at all.

The rider got off his horse and let the animal wander over to a nearby pond. Then he slowly walked over to one of the ruined walls, taking off his gauntlets and running his scarred fingers over the stone. He gently caressed the rock as if it was something precious and delicate. The rider had known this place when it was something else besides ruin. He had known it when it was a farm, a home, a place where a family lived. His hand began to tremble and shake, and he suddenly could not seem to breathe.

The rider tore off his helmet and threw it off into the brush so fast that one would have thought it burned him to touch it. With his with face uncovered one could see that he was young, too young to have had gone through what he had. His head had been shaved not long ago, but a thin sheen of blonde hair was already coming in. His eyes were a deep blue, and as he stared at the wall they began to pool up with tears. He quickly reached up to wipe them away. His masters had forbidden tears, he had cried in the beginning and they had beaten him until he learned. But his masters were not here, nothing was here. The tears began to collect again, but this time he did nothing to fight them. He just dropped down to the ground and let the racking sobs come.

Why had he come back here, even when he had seen the smoke rising to the sky as they dragged him away? Why had he thought that there might have been some way? Why had he dared to hope? "Takeru" he whispered through the pulsing tears. "I'm sorry."
Four years later, six years before Prince Tai took the throne of Kamiya

The people of Tachikawa sure knew how to celebrate, Matt had to give them that. He was looking out of his window at the jubilant crowds thronging the streets. The air and ground were littered with pink streamers and confetti. Everywhere there were banners and flags proudly displaying the pink rose, the royal seal of Tachikawa. Matt took a long drink from the tall bottle in his hand and thought about how he also had to give it to them that they made very good wine.

The people of Tachikawa had much to celebrate besides their superb fermenting abilities. The war was over, and the invading Kamyian forces had been turned away. But perhaps even more astounding was how the spoiled Princess Mimi had suddenly transformed herself into a capable leader. Her father had fallen in the early days of the war, killed in combat by the Kamiyian prince, and most had thought that Tachikawa's freedom had died with him. But Mimi had managed to change herself from a vain, flighty brat, into a knowledgeable, confident ruler, and she had steered the kingdom through its darkest hour. Many people said that it was her father's sudden death that had changed her, but only a few knew the role that a wandering mercenary had played in the process.

Matt knew, but he was trying not to care. He took a last look out the window, followed by a long last drink, then he set the empty bottle down amid many of its like. He picked up his pack from the foot of the bed and then headed for the door. He was hoping he could be on his way before….

But before Matt could finish the thought, his door was thrown open so violently that it crashed against the wall with a loud bang. And in the now open doorway stood a young lady who was almost jumping up and down with excitement. There were slight bags under her eyes from lack of sleep, her hair was a mess of tangles, and she had not had a decent bath in days, but even in such a state she was still insanely beautiful. Matt's heart cringed at the sight of her.

"We did it, Matt! We did it!" she yelled out in a decidedly musical voice and then threw her arms around him. His body tensed at her touch, but in her excitement she failed to notice at first. Then she brought her lips up to his for a passionate kiss, and with worried surprise noted that he did not kiss her back

"Matt? W-what's wrong?" she pulled away and studied him with confusion. She framed his blue eyes with her hands and tried to read them, but with a great effort he managed to keep them emotionless. She pulled a little farther away, and this time her gaze wandered to the bundle clutched tightly in his hand. "Oh, you-you're leaving?" her surprise was genuine. Matt could hear the hurt flowing in her voice and see the wounded look in her eyes. He had perhaps never hated himself as much as he did at that moment.

"The war's over, Princess. Time for Izzy and me to move on." he spoke in tone of contempt, the way he had spoken to her when they first met. And he looked at her like she was a fool for thinking that things had ever changed since then.

"B-but Izzy's staying here." Mimi stammered out. She had a notion of what was happening, but she tried not to believe it. "I thought you were too."

Matt had known about his friend's plans since the previous day, but he narrowed his eyes in mock anger. "What, did you bribe him with lands and title?" he asked accusingly.

Mimi took a step back in surprise at his words. "No, he told me he wanted to stay. And I-I thought you did too." She looked down at her feet, and a slight blush crept into her cheeks. "I mean after the other night, I thought-"

"You thought what?" Matt cut her off smugly. He forced himself to put on a cruel, cocky grin. "You thought that just because we had a little fun it meant I loved you or something, that it meant I actually wanted to stay here with you." He loved her more than anything in the world, and would rather have died than leave her.

Mimi's face became visibly red with shame and sorrow. Matt could see her shoulders move gently up and down as tears appeared in her eyes. The sight of her broke his heart, but it also hardened him, made him more determined to hurt her and drive her away. "You did, didn't you?" he opened his mouth in mock surprise and gave a short sneering laugh. "You actually thought that I cared about you." he gave another hollow laugh. "Jesus Christ, just how stupid are-"

She brought up her hand and slapped him so fast that for a second Matt could not believe it happened. His eyes went wide with shock and his mouth fell open. Mimi forced herself to stand up straight and stare him dead in the eyes. If her father had taught her anything, then it was to always stand tall and proud, even if your heart was breaking. She kept her eyes clear and slightly hard, her lips and shoulders held steady, and even the tears trailing down her cheeks seemed dignified.

"You're lying. I know you are." Her voice sounded calm and poised, even as it wavered with the threat of tears. "I don't know why you would say such things to me, and I don't really care. All I know is that I'm going to ask you something. And I am going to ask it once and never repeat it." Her eyes lost some of their hardness as they looked into his, and they quivered a little bit as they pleaded with him.

"Please," she began. "stay here with me. I love you." The final words floated out of her mouth on an imploring whisper.

The words broke through any wall of feigned contempt and uncaring that Matt could hope to create. His whole body slumped in defeat, and his eyes became swirling blue pools of anguish as he looked at her. She was proud, but pride could only hold her up so long. If he left her now then she would fall and probably never be able to stand again. Matt wanted to take her in his arms and never let her go. He wanted to steal the stars from the sky and give them to her to wear as jewels. He wanted to love and worship her forever.

But how do you tell someone you love with every fiber of your being that you are a killer? How do you tell them that you can feel something inside your heart that makes you want to kill, that makes you yearn for the feel of hot blood on your hands? How do you tell them that sorrow and hurt seem to settle like a plague on those that dare to love you? Matt bowed his head towards the ground and walked to the door.

"Fine!" Mimi screamed as he moved away. Her tears pulsed and throbbed with an angry hurt. "You want to wander around for the rest of your life? You want to live by the sword? Then go, and never come back! And I hope you die by the sword!" the words seem to sap the strength out of her. She collapsed on the bed and buried her face in the silk sheets.

Matt could hear the muffled sobs as he stood in the doorway; each one was a fist squeezing his heart. But he did not turn around, and with a shaking hand he softly closed the door behind him. He moved through the marble halls silently, never raising his head. The palace was deserted; every lord and servant was celebrating in the streets. When he came to the central staircase, he looked down at the landing and immediately his eyes narrowed with expected aggravation and exhaustion. He took a deep breath and bowed his head even more before starting down.

Izzy and Miyako had become close friends in the months since he and Matt had first come to Tachikawa. The two warrior geniuses had worked together on strategies and weaponry, including the Green Knight, which was some of both. And now they seemed prepared to attack Matt as a team. They flanked both sides of the staircase

"You bastard!" Miyako screeched. The female warrior's eyes were glowing with fury behind her thin, and rather ornate spectacles. "How could you do that to her? She loves you for God's sake!" Her fiery temper had been fully ignited by just thinking of the heartbreak her adopted sister had to endure.

"You're making a mistake." Izzy added in a calmer voice. The look on his face suggested he was more irritated than angry, but there was also a good deal of sadness and pity in his eyes. "A very, very, very, stupid mistake."

"You don't think I know that!" Matt suddenly roared at them both. "I love her more than anything!" he glared at them hotly.

"Then stay." Miyako spat through clenched teeth.

Matt ran his hands through his golden hair as he bowed his head again. "I can't. I-I just can't." he started to walk away.

Miyako started after him with more angry words on her lips, but Izzy motioned for her to stay back. "I thought this was what you wanted, Matt." he called in a concerned voice. "This is what we talked and dreamed about for three years while we wandered around. This is a home, and now you're just going to throw it away."

Matt stopped walking and turned back towards them. "I can't tell her what I am. I can't tell her about what's inside me. And I can't let anything happen to her because of it."

"Oh, for Christ's sake!" Izzy snapped back, finally letting some of his anger and exasperation show through. "When will you get it through your thick head that some 'feeling' you have did not kill your family? When will you admit that the world is just a horrible place, and stop blaming it on cryptic bullshit?"

"Shut up!" Matt screamed and wheeled around with a hard right that sent Izzy sprawling to the floor. A few feet away Miyako started to move forward, but then bit her lip and stayed put. She watched as the two young men glared at each other. Matt's fists were clenched and his face was twisted with rage, but there were also the beginnings of tears shimmering in his eyes. Izzy was still on the floor, and there was a rather foolish expression on his face as he rubbed his throbbing jaw.

"I'm sorry." Izzy said finally. He pushed himself up off the floor. "But running off isn't going to fix anything, it isn't going to make anyone feel good or safe. All it's going to do break the hearts of two people, and make everyone around them feel like complete shit." He stalked off down one of the halls, and Miyako and Matt both knew him well enough to know that the thought of Matt leaving was hurting him almost as much as it was Mimi.

Matt did not move, he just stood there listless and tired. Miyako looked at him and the last of her anger faded. She walked over and gently placed a hand on his shoulder. "She loves you." She whispered. "She would do anything for you. So would we." She gave him a very quick hug and then walked down the same hall Izzy had taken.

Matt listened to her retreating footsteps but did not move. He looked back at the central staircase as a tangle of thoughts flashed through his mind. He thought about his family; his father, his mother, and his brother. They were dead, but there was not a single night where they failed to come alive in his dreams. And he wondered if now he was finally getting a chance to have a family, a home that stayed with him when he opened his eyes in the morning. And he wondered if having that was worth the risk of somehow bringing harm to those he cared about. He did not know if it had been the sight of Mimi crying, or Izzy's outburst, or Miyako's gentle words, or even all three, but he began to feel hopeful for the first time in four years.

He smiled to himself and started back up the stairs. But then began to feel slightly nervous as he reached his door, and he took a moment to make sure that the look on his face was appropriately apologetic. But he need not have bothered; Mimi had cried herself to sleep on the bed. And rather than waking her Matt just laid down beside her and wrapped her up in his arms. She gave him a happy-sounding mumble in response. "I love you." He told her in a whisper. And then he closed his eyes to see if any new dreams would come his way.

The monks of the Ichijouji Monastery lived a very secluded life. Their home was tucked away deep in the woods of what had once been eastern Ishida, far from the outside world. They prided themselves on knowledge and privacy. And while they used every means at their disposal to help those unfortunates that periodically showed up at their door, they did nothing to encourage visitors. The monks were most content when studying moldy old texts, or minding their vegetable patch.

One day while the Abbot was taking a walk, he happened to glance up and see smoke rising in the sky to the South. He knew that there was a village off in that direction, and so he gathered two of the brothers and set out. The monks did not keep horses or donkeys, so it would take them many hours to get there on foot.

As the small group walked on, the two brothers became engaged in conversation over the teachings of Aristotle and their relation to those of Jesus, but the Abbot kept silent. He knew there was little point in their journey. If the smoke was coming from the village, then it was more than likely that all of its inhabitants were dead.

He had heard word that the Marauders had been sighted close by. They were a wandering band of raiders, easily identified by the black armor they wore. It was their practice to ride into a small village, take everything of value they could find, then kill every living thing and burn every building to the ground. Sometimes they would also take the young village boys, and through a regiment of torture and terror mold them into slave warriors. The village girls were also often taken and trained to serve particular needs and urges of the men. The Abbot knew the Marauder's ways all too well, he had been one of them a long time ago.

By the time the sun was beginning to grow red, the two brothers had run out of subjects to debate and discuss, and the Abbot was surer than ever that the Marauders had razed the village. It was a belief that was soon validated. They came upon a clearing where the village should have stood, but instead the monks found only stray pieces of bone and wood, everything else was ash.

The Abbot looked down at a patch of ground that was stained slightly red, in the center of the patch lay a small piece of black chain mail. The Abbot sighed and kicked it away. "Let us pray, brothers." He said softly as he bent to his knees. The other two monks had gone quite pale, and their hands shook as they clasped them together. The Abbot took a deep breath and opened his mouth, but before he could utter so much as a word, a baby's cry suddenly sounded from the clump of trees at the edge of the clearing.

The Abbot was more than a little surprised and confused, but he quickly got to his feet and ran towards the sound, the two brothers close at his heels. His old, gray eyes scanned the trees as he ran, and before he pulled up he had already spotted the source of the noise. A small bundle wrapped in dark, earthy-colored cloth sat in the crook of a tree, some twenty feet off the ground. It rocked a little as the baby squirmed and cried, and the Abbot immediately began to fear that it might fall from its perch. The youngest of the monks took it upon himself to fetch the bundle. He jumped to grab hold of the lowest branch, and then began carefully picking his way upwards. He soon reached the baby, and with a relieved smile cradled it securely against his chest. He started to whisper some soft words of reassurance, but then his gaze fell on the baby's face, and his mouth dropped open in shock.

"What in God's name are you waiting for?" the Abbot shouted from down on the ground. He watched with growing anxiety as the brother seemed to freeze, and for a moment he wondered if the young man had suddenly discovered a fear of heights. But then the monk began to make his way down, much slower than he made his way up. And his wide eyes never left the bundle he clutched against his body. The Abbot and the other monk rushed over as soon as the brother's feet were safely on the ground. And as they took a closer look at the baby, they realized why their comrade had been so stunned.

The older monk crossed himself and whispered a prayer, but did not move his gaze away from the baby. The younger monk swallowed deeply before opening his mouth. "The eyes….th-the sight…." He said in a reverent whisper.

The Abbot took the child in his arms and examined it closely. It appeared to be a healthy baby boy. Old tears stained his chubby face, and his red cheeks were scrunched up with the threat of new ones. He also had a tuft of dark hair on the top of his head, but none of that was worthy of much notice. The attention of all three men was drawn to the child's bright violet eyes, so bright that they seemed like churning purple fire. It was common knowledge throughout the area that a child born with violet eyes would possess the second sight, the ability to see things others could not.

The Abbot was by nature a practical, sometimes skeptical man, especially so for one who had devoted his life to something that had to be taken on faith alone. He did not put much stock in visions, prophecies, and the like. But something in those violet eyes, something that seemed much older than the baby boy, told him that there might be something different in this particular case. "We shall take him back to the monastery with us." He announced. The other two monks vigorously nodded their agreement.

They left the ruined village soon after they had erected a wooden cross and said a few prayers. They walked home in the night, the baby sleeping soundly in the Abbot's arms. The sky was gray with the coming of dawn by the time they reached the monastery, but they found the rest of the monks wide-awake and anxiously awaiting their return. And barely any time passed before the youngest monk began to tell them how he had saved the child with violet eyes from the top of giant oak tree. The other monks were not much interested in the story of bravery, but they were absolutely enthralled by the sleeping baby boy. And they seemed ready to wait for as long as it took him to wake up and open his famous eyes. But by this time the Abbot was growing irritable from fatigue, and he was just about ready to order them all to bed. In fact, he was in the process of doing just that when the baby awakened. The monks all sucked in their breath as the baby boy studied them with his eyes of purple fire. Then he scrunched up his face and started to cry with hunger pangs. This was met by a sudden disorganized scramble by the monks to procure some milk. The Abbot just rolled his eyes and sighed heavily. When things had calmed down, and after a series of very long complicated debates, the monks named the boy Ken. Only the Abbot could actually recall the tangled web of thoughts that led to the name, and when asked to repeat it he would only say that it was "so utterly moronic that it would be a sin to ever speak of it again". Moronic or not, the name stuck.

As soon as Ken could walk and talk, the Abbot began his education, which was a formidable one. Thankfully for them both, Ken was more than up to the task. By the time he was eight, he had a more than passable knowledge of Latin and Greek. On his eleventh birthday he spent hours discussing the literature of ancient Mesopotamia with the monks, his main point being that the roots of all other classical heroes stemmed from the legend of Gilgamesh. And by his twelfth, Ken knew more about philosophy than most people could ever hope or even want to know.

By all accounts, Ken had a happy childhood at the monastery. He liked life among the great, thick books, with the pages written lovingly by hand. The monks were always lighthearted and jovial, and he was great friends with every one of them. In fact, there were only two things that really troubled him as he grew up. The first was that the Abbot absolutely refused to teach him anything about fencing, archery, and other things of that like which looked like fun. And the second was the whole idea of the "sight" he was supposed to have. The problem was that no one, not even the Abbot, knew anything about it. Ken had no idea what to expect or how to prepare for it. It was always a dense fog floating somewhere in the back of his mind. And the mystery of it all plagued him throughout his teenage years. But then his eighteenth year came and went without any sort of "vision", and Ken gradually began to believe that the whole idea of the "second sight" was no more than a legend, just another myth like the ones he had read about in the books. When the Abbot heard of this, he frowned and wondered if some of his skepticism had rubbed off on his pupil. But after a few hours thought, he chalked it up to Ken's "awkward age".

It was not long after Ken expressed his thoughts on his supposed gift, that he also addressed another line of thinking that had long been on his mind. He wanted to see what the world was like outside the monastery walls. He wanted to see the things he had only read about. He wanted to leave the only home he had ever known.

The Abbot was not the slightest bit surprised; he had been expecting it for years. And though he was sad, for he did love the boy, he had no regrets. He had seen Ken grow strong, intelligent, and insightful. Of course, he was somewhat arrogant and spoiled, but the Abbot of all people knew that no one was perfect. He had taught the boy everything he knew, and now it was time for Ken to teach himself.

It was the midst of winter when Ken finally made up his mind to leave, and he was a bundle of nervous energy all through the long nights. By the time spring finally arrived Ken's supplies had been packed for months. On the first clear day he said goodbye to the monks and monastery, and started out. The Abbot had insisted on accompanying him, at least until the edge of the forest. And though Ken rolled his eyes at this, he was actually grateful, for it would give the two of them time for one last talk.

But they never really had the chance, for they had not traveled more than ten feet beyond the door, when the "gift" that Ken had doubted came to prove its existence.

Ken stopped in his tracks; his world had suddenly become dark. There was a chill in the air, and he thought he could smell something burning.

"Ken?" the Abbot called out in alarm. The boy's eyes were swirling about like a purple storm. His skin was as cold as ice where the Abbot griped him by the shoulder. "Ken, what do you see?" the old man's throat suddenly felt tight.

"I-I can't see anything." Ken answered in a frightened whisper. "Its all dark, and cold. You sound so far away."

"I'm right here, Ken." The Abbot tried to reassure him. "I'm holding onto you."

If Ken heard, he did not respond. "I can here wolves howling off in the distance. A-and the-there's something burning." He began to tremble, and that is when the darkness parted. "I see a castle." Ken stated in a fearful whisper. "Its old and rotten. There are people inside it, ghosts, staring at me through the gates. They're covered in blood, and there's some sort of shadow inside of them, something evil." He trailed off.

"It can't hurt you, Ken!" the Abbot yelled out. "None of it can hurt you!" at least he hoped none of it could.

Ken had to clear his throat before he could continue. "There's a man walking up to the gates, his heart is full of greed and it seeps out of him like a mist. He's leading a child by the hand… Some of the shadow that's in the ghosts, some of it is in the child too, but-but he can't feel it, he's an innocent.... And now I see two men facing each other. The shadow, the darkness is in them too, and it's stronger than in the ghosts. It seems to pulsate and throb with a life of its own. But these two haven't given themselves up to it like the others have. They fight it, but the darkness is pushing them against each other."

Ken paused, and his body stiffened. He opened his mouth to say more, but suddenly he fell to the ground screaming and convulsing. The Abbot immediately tried to help him, to calm him down. But it would take hours for that to happen. And in his useless efforts the Abbot did not hear the words that rode out of Ken's mouth on the screams, the words that Ken would not remember later, the words of warning that could have changed it.

" Hate. Mistrust. Deceit. War. Battle. Green. Iron. Tears. Mountains. North.

Angels with broken wings. A lion crying. A rose with drooping petals.

Hearts fading away. Lords kneeling before an empty throne. Circle with twelve points.

Darkness. Death."