Chapter Two: Through The Portal

The battlefield was still once Pit arrived in Crimea. The fallen soldiers had been taken away and the injured had gone off to treat their wounds. Besides the wreckage of the castle gates, the only other sign left by the destructive invasion was a multitude of empty piles of black armor strewn about the floor. The angel found it strange that not long ago, those piles of armor had once stood with some sort of substance within them.

The captain approached the spot on the field where Ike had disappeared. Even though the air was still, Pit thought he could sense something foreign before him. It made the feathers on his wings bristle, and he tried to calm himself and link his mind with Palutena instead.

Goddess, he thought. I am ready.

Very good, Pit, came the reply. I shall open the portal now.

The earth beneath the angel's feet trembled as the dark void opened once again. Every one of the Pit's instincts cried out against going any closer to the ominous portal, but he ignored them and pressed onward. He would show this evil he was not afraid.

With just one step into the darkness, Crimea was behind him. The angel turned to look back, but the broken castle grounds were no longer visible. The opening that had parted just for him had shut as soon as he had come to the other side. Now there was nowhere to look except forward. The captain would not think of going back until he had accomplished his task.

All around him was nothing but darkness. As a being used to being bathed in light up above the clouds, the angel felt very out of place. I haven't seen anywhere like this since the Underworld, he thought nervously. Isn't there any light at all?

As if on command, a dim flicker spread across the space he was standing in. He could see now that the floor was covered in black tile. There were no walls or doors in sight; the light seemed to be coming from the stars themselves. Pit kept a tight clutch on his Sacred Bow as he looked around for any clue as to where Ike could have been taken. It was then that a great shadow spread over him, and looking up, the angel's mouth opened in surprise. The giant hand was hovering right above him!

"HAHAHA," its voice boomed. "What's this now? I don't remember inviting any more visitors."

Pit readied his bow and aimed a bright blue arrow at the monstrous appendage.

"I've come to take back the general of Crimea!" the angel shouted. "Where is he? If you don't return him to his kingdom, you'll have to face me!"

"Oh, ho. You've come a long way to make threats, Pit of Angel Land."

The captain flinched.

"Y-you know who I am?"

"Of course. You saved the Overworld and Skyworld itself from Medusa's tyranny. I've done my research on you. In my attempt to collect the strongest warriors, I have tried to enter Angel Land before to capture you, but unfortunately, your goddess's power was too strong. It seems she built up defenses against beings such as myself to prevent another calamity…but no matter. You've graciously brought yourself here as a gift for me and saved me such trouble. You're more than welcome to join your general friend—but don't think that the two of you will be leaving just yet."

The hand reached out for the angel, but Pit wasted no time releasing his arrow. Despite its speed, the enemy was ready for it. The hand swiftly moved aside and continued its advance. Pit shot another arrow, managing to graze a finger. The great being huffed, but was undaunted. It poised itself for the laser beam attack, but Pit hadn't been asleep at the Gazing Pool. He dodged back as far as he could to avoid the bright beams and pulled out his shield. The monster changed tactics and sped through the air, straight at the angel. Pit barely managed to evade it, hitting the ground hard. He quickly got to his feet as the hand came at him again. This time it parried him with one finger. The angel managed to avoid the first few thrusts, but finally, the finger struck him and sent him flying back with a scream as the Mirror Shield disappeared back into his rings. Never had the angel felt such a powerful poke.

The hand didn't give him any time to recover, either. Instead, it slammed down on him with full force. The angel was in too much shock to cry out. He felt as if every bone in his body would break. The white mass was completely smothering him; his wings ached as they were pushed against the hard tile. Pit couldn't even lift an arm to wield his sword and fight back. He lay there, helpless, wondering if the crushing power of the hand would kill him before he ran out of air.

Slaying the angel was not the hand's objective, however. Once it felt the captain had had enough, it slowly lifted itself off Pit's crumbled form and hovered triumphantly over him.

"You're mine now. A trophy rightfully won, don't you agree?"

Pit gritted his teeth. He couldn't believe he had lost. What would the monster do with him now? The hand drifted down and picked him up, holding him tightly within its fist.

"Let me go!" Pit protested.

"Unlikely," the hand responded. "You're to take part in a tournament I have arranged. It is not a choice. There will be others competing with you and against you. If you succeed, pass all the trials, and please me, maybe then, and only then, will I allow you to leave. Don't think of crying out to your goddess for help. She has no power here except what I permit. You're on your own now. If you ever want to see your home again, obey my commands and fight with all your strength."

"You can't do this…" the angel grunted softy. "I won't-"

But it was no use. The battle against the hand had robbed him of all his strength. Lifting his head weakly, he managed to catch sight of another portal opening up before the hand and its captive, no doubt another passage to a strange world. Another world further from his own. His eyes slowly began to close as he let his body slump in the hand's grasp.

I'm sorry, Goddess Palutena. I couldn't defeat this monster—but I promise I won't give up. If there really is a way out of this…I won't stop until I've found it.