Chapter One: Tyrant's Rule

"You've chosen the Sacrifice," Her voice rang out hollowly from the white abyss. The red-haired girl threw her dreadlocks over her shoulder as she watched the Seeress. Teresa smiled "All of Albion will love you for your choice," She continued.

The world flashed and suddenly both were back in the Spire

"You were brilliant, you were," Hammer laughed as she studied the girl. She was remembering when they had both gone out to get matching hairstyles. That was when the girl had just gotten back from her hellish journey into the spire. She had come back bald, and Hammer just would not hear of leaving it like that.

"Yes, yes, well what do I get out of all this?" Reaver piped up from the opposite corner. All cast him a look of "are you serious?" The Pirate simply shifted his stance and his cocky demeanor grew even more. Sparrow found herself trying to keep from gagging at the mere sight of him. She hated to think that he would get any credit out of all of this.

"I can send you anywhere from the Spire," Teresa offered. She held her blind gaze with the Pirate and Mage first. Garth looked between the Seeress and Sparrow. His eyes seemed to say all that could not be said allowed. They screamed of how guilty he was for not stopping Lucian from killing her sister. They screamed of how sorry he was about her family and companion. He was silently offering her his cold-shouldered compassion.

"I suppose I should return home," Garth offered, casting a look to back Teresa.

"Hmm… I think I shall accompany you. There are some exotic beauties down there," Reaver chimed in. He pressed a hand to his hip and his eyebrows arched. Sparrow resisted the urge to reach for her gun.

"So long as you stay out of my way," Garth grumbled. In a flash of light, both Heroes were gone. That left only the three women.

"I suppose I should return to the Temple. But with the load of shit they spout, I couldn't stand it. Maybe I'll go north. I heard there were some monks up there who actually fight," Hammer was rambling. All in the room knew it, but Sparrow still said naught. She hadn't spoken a word, not even to her deceased husband or dog. Why should she start now?

"Well, I'm off then," Hammer stated, almost dejectedly. Sparrow felt sorrow welling in her throat. She eyed the great woman with sincerity in her eyes, then reaching out to the woman quickly. She took hold of her hand, clenching her fingers around it in a compassionate way.

"Thank you, Hannah," She whispered, then turning on her heel before Hammer could respond to the simple words. Sparrow did not want to get attached ever again. No, love was for the softhearted. She had already lost her sister, husband, daughter, and faithful four-legged companion. She would never love again.

She wandered the piers and pews of the spire, not entirely sure where she was going. The memories of her stay here were suddenly being shoved up her throat. She clenched her fists, coming to a stop. She glanced to her right and spotted herself in a broken and mangled mirror.

Her patched coat was dyed black and opened in the front to show off her dark red corset. Her hot pants were the same shade of red, allowing her black thigh boots to stay just an inch below. All across her skin were blue will lines, criss-crossing and glowing dully in the dank Spire.

She glared and lurched forward, a fireball exploding around the glass and encasing the small hallway. She fell to her knees and weakly kept slamming the fire spell to the ground. A pulse of fire was now scorching the floor.

She was imperfect. She was a monster. She was a killer. She'd harmed so many, lost so many, and now she couldn't defend the rest. She was weak and she was useless. She hadn't even been able to say goodbye to her husband, daughter, or friends.

Why didn't she speak? Because she was so traumatized by her sisters early death? She realized then that she had not spoken a word since her sister died.

"Where would you like to go, Sparrow?" Teresa came up behind the flaming Hero, gently putting a hand on her shoulder to calm her down. The blind woman fell beside the Hero, stopping her hands as she held them in her own. Sparrow looked to the woman for the first time in a long while as her mother. Teresa was the best mother figure she had ever had, and she hadn't even said anything to her. Not even thank you for saving her life, or for showing her what she was truly capable of.

"Oakfield," She whispered as images of the small countryside town flashed across her mind. It had been where she started all of this… by finding Hammer.

"Very well, young Sparrow," Teresa gave a wave of her hand and the Hero closed her eyes. She heard a faint snap, letting her eyes flutter open to see a field now surrounded her. She clenched two handfuls of over-long grass beside her. Her head fell limply down, causing her to look at her knees, gun, and oddly-angled Master Katana.

How many people had she killed with either weapon? How many people had suffered death at the expense of one of her bullets, or a deadly stab? How many families had she deprived of a husband, father, friend, or brother? How many lives had she ended?

Gathering her Master Katana at her hip and Master Pistol on her thigh, she took off down the path. For now, she would stay at the Sandgoose and hope no one recognized her.

She hoped she could silently drown her sorrows in the Ale.

The Ale burned going down. Sparrow winced slightly as she threw back her head in the motion of downing the liquid. She then pounded the mug to the counter, staring blankly ahead.

She had found a corner in the small pub, curling into a chair to hopefully remain unseen. So far, she had succeeded. She had already rented a room and dumped her weapons (all save her gun) in that. Even if someone did come to steal them, she wasn't concerned. The weapons meant little to her. What she was more concerned about, she kept on her body at all times.

Staring ahead, the patrons of the small Sandgoose started up a dance as a lone bard started to sing and play. The music was happy, a strong opposite to her glum mood. She supposed she ought to be out there celebrating with them, now that the war was over and a tyrant had been removed from power. But, she just didn't have it in her. There was no small part of her that felt like dancing to the death of a man who once offered to take her in.

True, he ended up killing her sister and eventually ruining her life, but she still had some sort of respect for the dead. He had taken them in when no one else did (again, only at his benefit) and showed them some sort of compassion. For an orphan who didn't even know who her parents were, that was something. Of course, all crimes far outweighed his pretend-caring attitude. However, the dead deserved to be respected. Avos knew that most of them would be disturbed and become Hollow Men sometime soon again.

Across the way, young Walter Beck ran a hand through his unruly black hair as he eyed the moping woman. She was a sight, something regal, but she looked to be anything else. He couldn't quite place the face, but he knew he had seen her once before.

As she laid her head down on the table, he took that opportunity to move a bit closer. He laid a hand gently on her elbow, ready to ask her for a dance. Instead, he got a gun shoved in his face. The crowd around them gasped as one and all music stopped. Walter showed no emotion, simply blinking in shock once or twice.

"Can I help you?" He asked, patting the end of the gun lightly with two fingers. It was then that she looked down in shock and saw his gun pointed at her abdomen. "Obviously not used to being challenged?" He asked again, simply trying to get a response out of her. Even if he had only been a soldier for a few years, he knew the stories about the warrior with hell in her eyes. He was staring at them now, and it was then he recalled her name. "Sparrow."

"You shouldn't mess with me, kid," She grumbled in an almost-too-soft-to-hear voice. Walter put his gun away at the same instant she did hers. She then turned to the crowd and shot them an award-winning smile. They all relaxed as they realized who she was.


"Can I have your autograph?"

"You saved Albion!"

"Lucian is dead!"

"You're our Hero!"

Thousands of shouts were thrown at the Hero and Walter was left on the sidelines to watch in awe as she managed all of them. They all came at her at once, swarming her and pushing him away. Not once did anyone even ask her if it was okay, if they were getting in her way, if she had to be anywhere, or if she even wanted to sign autographs. Walter sighed, pushing through the crowd.

"All right, all right, all of you lot back off now," He grumbled in his most demanding voice. They all eyed him with scrutiny.

"Who made you boss, Walter? Sparrow doesn't mind," Someone shot back at his bold intrusion. Walter glanced to the Hero and noticed her shoulders were sagging and she was breathing heavily.

"I can pretty much assume that she would mind. Anyone would mind if a lot of buffoons was suddenly shoved in their face," Walter shot back. He casually wrapped an arm around the Hero's, pushing them both through the crowd. He bent down a few inches, whispering in her ear, "Show me where your room is."

She did, taking the lead and leaving the dejected crowd behind. They were all shouting curse words at Walter, some calling him rather inconsiderate things. As soon as they were in her room, the oak door couldn't shut fast enough.

"You didn't have to," She whispered, flopping down onto the bed. Walter shot her a curious look, wondering why she never more than whispered. He sat on a chair across from her, still eyeing her.

She looked like death itself had warmed over. Her pale skin clashed oddly with her dark clothes and glowing blue will lines. He wondered idly if she was sick, but then decided that Hero's didn't get sick.

"Oh, but I did. That lot will tear you apart if you're not careful. I don't know how you've dealt with it all these years, being a cause of that," Walter gestured to the outside world as he spoke, trying to get his point across. She sighed, her shoulder heaving with the action. She didn't say anymore, simply stared at her shoes. Walter decided to break the eerie silence. "So, tell me, why don't you ever talk?"

She blinked up at him in surprise. Either in shock at the boldness of his question, or shock that someone would ever actually care. Her deep blue eyes met his as she remained silent, trying to figure the best way to answer that question. She still had not gotten used to the whole "speak when spoken to" rule.

"My sister…" She trailed off, figuring that two words were better then none. Walter continued to hold her gaze, his eyes changing to apology.

"Ah, I see. How long ago?" He relaxed in the chair, folding his hands in his lap. His standard-military issue uniform caught the light oddly and made it look as though the red was glowing.

"20 years ago," She whispered, then shutting her eyes as her hands snapped up to her ears.

You are insignificant. You matter to no one. Even Rose was better off dead and without you. You are worthless, and I was the one who killed her. I was the one who started all of this, who built the Spire, and who will live on no matter what! Hero's die with age, but the memory of a tyrant lives on forever.

Albion will forever be mine!