Tomb

The young boy slowly opened his eyes and they quickly adjusted to the dark room. Realizing that he was in an unfamiliar room his body froze but his eyes darted around taking everything in. The only light in the room came from two torches hanging by an opening in front of him and from what he saw it looked like he was in a cave. He felt the cold hard ground beneath him but seeing his height to the wall realized that he was lying on a stone table. He pushed himself up his clothes sticking to the surface of the rock. He looked around. There were two ways out of the room, both were dark and uninviting.

Where's dad? Is he here too? What about Dana? His mind began to panic so he took a deep breath like his dad had taught him to calm himself down and to focus. He shivered involuntarily. Not just because of the eerie feeling his surroundings gave him but because he couldn't shake the feelings his dream had left him with. He wanted to cry but voices from down one of the entryways made his breath catch in his throat.

Pretend to be asleep, his mind cried. Maybe they'll leave!

Run! cried another voice in his head.

He tried to breathe softly but he began to shake as he slowly crawled off the table and stopped at the entrance where the voices were coming from. They were just outside the room but didn't seem to be getting closer. He peeked around the corner. The large hallway was even darker than the room. He saw only one torch lit and the voices seemed to come from just beyond the light's reach.

"The Destiny Card led you to that weak human child?" a woman's voice asked. He almost shrank away. He had a feeling they were talking about him.

"You know the power of the Destiny Card, Vypra. It didn't lead me to just any human child. He is stronger than you have perceived."

"Human strength is nothing compared to our power!" a deep voice joined in.

"Never forget that humans sometimes have more than mere physical strength. If that were not true we would not be trapped within this cursed place!" Silence followed this statement, then the voice continued, "The power led me to one connected with our destiny. By finding him, more of our future was revealed. I now know when we shall be released from this tomb."

"What? How can -" the woman's voice cut off as they heard the gasp that had escaped the boy's mouth. As she had spoken the woman stepped into the light revealing her demonic appearance to him. Her body seemed to be human with long wavy black hair; he almost thought she was human but then he saw the large reptilian wings extending from her back. Her fingers extended to hard silver points that matched the silver scaled armor that covered her body. The eyes of her helmet seemed to follow him, mirroring the woman's own white snake eyes.

Two other creatures came into the light, one large and black with glowing yellow eyes. The other was golden, taller than the black one, with razor sharp teeth. Huge silver horns rose from its' head but also from another face on its' chestplate.

Monsters! He stood frozen in place for only a second then he turned and ran back through the room and out the other side.

"Ryan!" a deep unfamiliar voice called after him, "Come back!"

He almost stopped when he heard his name but, realizing it was one of the monsters, ran faster through the blackness. How do they know my name?!

He turned down random passageways hoping to lose the monsters in the dimly lit corridors but only managed to confuse and frighten himself further. He stopped when he couldn't run any more, a sob escaping as he tried to catch his breath. Everything looked the same; every turn, every tunnel. Hopelessness washed over him. Was he running in circles?

He jumped back when a voice called to him from the shadows in front of him. "Ryan," the golden monster stepped forward, his hands palm out, "don't be afraid."

Ryan moved into a defensive stance out of habit, but knowing he couldn't do anything against the monster's advance. He whirled around hearing a deep laugh behind him. "Ha, he doesn't look so tough!"

"Loki!" the gold monster warned.

Ryan could just make out the large black creature's face as he stopped smiling and took a few steps back into the darkness.

"He will not hurt you, Ryan." The voice called his attention back to the monster with the red glowing eyes.

"How do you know my name?" Ryan asked, trying to sound brave.

The monster's face now showed confusion, "Don't you remember me, Ryan? Don't you remember the car crash?"

Scenes from his dream flashed through his mind, "Crash? But… I only dreamed…" he shook his head, "where's my dad and my sister?"

There was a pause but the red eyes never stopped looking at him. "They are safe. Your father saved your sister. They are with other humans by now, I imagine. But…"

Ryan's heart was racing; he fought the tears as they began to fill his eyes, "Why am I here? When can I go home?"

"I know this must be hard for you, Ryan, but you must understand, your father didn't save you. He didn't want you. He let you fall."

"He wouldn't!" His dad was hero, he always saved people.

"He did, Ryan. He let go of you and you fell. I saw it myself." Diabolico declared moving his hand to his chest.

"I… I was holding his shoe," Ryan's voice quivered, his stance faltering.

The monster smiled, revealing long, razor sharp teeth. "You are a very strong and resourceful boy, Ryan; you did that yourself."

The images were clearer in his mind now; him asking for help, his dad not doing anything, then a ghostly light appearing. He looked at the demon. "You…"

"Yes. I, Diabolico, came to save you but your father sent me away. He refused my help and let you fall.

"But…" Tears began to fall down his cheeks.

"But I wouldn't leave you, Ryan. I saved you from the fall. You remember, don't you?"

Ryan was falling fast through the air, the fire on the ground growing closer and closer. Then, that same ghostly light was flying quickly toward him.

Ryan crumbled to the ground sobs wracking his body. "Why didn't he save me? Why didn't he let you help?" his small voice cried.

Diabolico kneeled next to Ryan, placing a hand on his shoulder. "I don't know, Ryan. He must have loved you sister more than you, to hold onto her and let you go. A father who truly loved you would have been there for you, he would have saved you." The sobs grew more intense and Ryan latched onto Diabolico's knee, burying his face in the armor. The pain in his chest grew. His dad didn't want him, didn't love him. He didn't know for how long he cried but Diabolico kept his hand on Ryan's back; never moving, saying nothing until the sobs finally grew quiet.

"I will always be here for you, Ryan.Ican see your great potential; even if that man could not." Finally, releasing the knee, Ryan looked up. Diabolico brought his other hand to the boy's shoulder. "I will take care of you." He said slowly pulling the boy to his chest.

Ryan let himself be pulled in. His eyes were dry and swollen. He couldn't cry anymore. His head pounded and an emptiness grew in place where the pain had been.

"Come," Diabolico ordered, gently pushing the child away and rising, "there is much to be done." Then, almost as an afterthought, he leaned back down to Ryan and spoke to him slowly. "But first, you must tell me… when were you born?"

Skull Cavern

Ryan's eyes flashed open. He could feel beads of sweat falling from his bare chest onto the rock beneath him. He lay still, on the stone tablet where he slept, staring off into the darkness that his eyes were, now, forever adjusted to.

The beginning…or the end; It depended on the day how he felt about when he was brought to the tomb. Usually in his dreams he only saw the memories from a distance but since coming back into the mortal world his past feelings were soaked into each one. He cursed the memory as he sat up. He hated remembering the fear. It was so intense when he was a child. His weakness had only been tolerated for so long among the demons. Vypra and Loki would constantly point it out to Diabolico; the human weakness that would always be there. Ryan's jaw clenched. After everything Diabolico had done for him, he was repaid with disgrace. Remembering his constant tears and self pity, it was no wonder Diabolico finally lost patience with him. He didn't regret the encounter but saw it as the true beginning of his training.

The staff caught Ryan hard in the stomach sending him sprawling across the room. Diabolico had begun teaching him within the week of his arrival, simple at first, and then more intense as the first then second year came upon him. Those sessions usually ended with Ryan whimpering in the corner.

"Get up," Diabolico ordered.

Ryan struggled for breath, "I can't."

"You will not give up! Not again!" Diabolico thundered gripping his staff tightly with both hands, "You are stronger than that! Get up!" Ryan held his stomach not moving.

Diabolico snarled, raising his staff. "Now!" A bolt of electricity erupted from the staff, connected with Ryan, and threw him through the air, pinning him against the cavern wall. Ryan writhed and cried out in pain unable to free himself. He was held there for a second more then released. He crumpled to the ground moaning. "You're pathetic." Diabolioc sneered, pacing slightly in front of Ryan. "How did you survive that night long enough for me to find you? If I had known that you wouldn't even try, I would have let you die."

Ryan struggled to get up; rising only to his knees, "I am trying, Diabolico, please…"

His anger seemed unquenchable, "You call this trying?! You crumple at every blow!" The staff swung horizontally at Ryan, striking his face and knocking him once again to the ground. His head spun, he wanted to vomit, but his stomach was empty. He forced himself to recover faster this time, slowly rising to his feet.

"Maybe Loki and Vypra are right. Are you just another weak human?"

"No." Ryan said flatly, through clenched teeth.

"And if I think you are? You have done nothing to show me otherwise." Diabolico stated, hitting Ryan again with another but shorter electrical burst. He was knocked against the wall but refused to fall.

"I wasn't power or strength I sensed, just stubbornness. You are weak," he goaded, powering up the staff again, "just like you father."

Ryan's head snapped up. His mind raced in the few seconds it took the staff to charge. He saw the scene. A fight he and his father had had. He didn't want to go to bed and refused to give up his markers. They were never pried from his hand. His father, covered with marker lines and looking tired, had dragged him to his room. "That stubbornness will get you into trouble some day." His father said angrily, before slamming the door.

Anger flooded his mind. The energy gathered to the tip of the staff. His father was weak. He wasn't. He wasn't weak. He wasn't his father! "NO!" he yelled, throwing his hands up as the energy shot toward him. Instead of entering his body, the blast stopped in front of him, gathering in his palms.

Diabolico's eyes widened slightly. He had begun teaching the boy about using and sensing energy but not to this level.

Ryan could only hold the globe for a few seconds before the energy overtook him; entering his arms, he made a choking sound as it raced up to his throat and head. As the energy dissipated he slumped against the wall; hurt from the blast and drained from the power it had taken to control it.

The room grew silent. Diabolico studied Ryan, his glowing eyes not breaking their gaze for several moments. He brought his staff once again parallel to himself. "Or," he said thoughtfully walking over to Ryan, who had pushed off the wall but was still breathing heavily, "I just haven't been training you hard enough." He placed a hand on his shoulder, "Well done," he softly praised, then turned and exited the training room.

Ryan stood there, taken aback by the praise, a cut by his eye bleeding and his arms still pulsating.

That moment had felt greater than anything he'd done before. All because of Diabolico. His father would never have been able to help him gain such power. His father. The only reason the rangers would have stopped their attack was if he had ordered it. He knows who I am. Good. It will work out the way Diabolico has planned. But losing to the rangers was unacceptable and had only disgraced Diabolico further. He was only allowed to stop Diabolico's staff blasts while training, a fact he had only forgotten once and would never forget again. Sleep however had helped him recuperate from the battle and the punishment for his failure afterwards.

Perhaps thinking Ryan's lose was because his was becoming weak from being around the humans again; Diabolico had once again brought up the night of the accident. New rage had filled him with each word that was spoken. Instead of battle he was sent to rest. With the hatred still raw he could only sleep for so long. They will all pay.

He could no longer wait for the new day to dawn. He grabbed his shirt and left the room. He would make it begin.