A THANK YOU!

Thank you all for your rave reviews, this story arc has been really fun to write. Tryntee13 I love how much of a cheering squad you were, It really gave the incentive to keep writing. XsaphireRosesFanx MAMORU&USAGI FOREVER! Need I say more. =) Maeko11 You always had such nice things to say, it kept me writing. GinnyPotter0183 You have been supporting me since my debut fic, Chaos, Cosmos, Eternity, Destiny. I have learned so much, thank you for your continued support.

My Partner's in Crime:xxTwilightPrincessxx & Max333, thanks for all the great talks.

LoveInTheBattlefield...I shall keep it coming =) Wonderwomanbatmanfan thank you for you steady reviews they encourage me greatly. Reereeree I love how much you like this story, much more to write so stay with me.

Narsenic stay with me the rides not over =) SeraphinaDragon, IchikoKitsuneKoumori, SweetMaj010, Lady Vee, Thanks for the support and great reviews you have all been reading fics for a while so getting a good review from you guys mean's I am doing a Half Ass Good job.

Shantie1984 I hope you liked the scene in Elysian's garden, when Mamo and Usa finally made love. =)

Isana55, hopelessromantic2314, mangamania, Jungko, Lunarstar99, SailorRallison, SMFan91, Brighteyes109, Littlebug21,gggosiaaa, Ty, Chichiforever, SerenityMoonGoddess,AimlesslyGera, angeljme,devilsangels11287, and all the guest reviews that were posted. You all rock!

Thank you very, very, very, much for all your encouragement! I really appreciate you all!

Shaydoe

Author's note:The chant was adapted from Terry Goodkind's Wizards First Rule. The spells adapted from Slayer's Book of spells.


Finale

Shadows in the moonlight swept back and forth across the dark stone that stood guard at the very peak of the Lord of Shadows Keep. Rei had been strung up on the wall for days, her hope fading away then disappeared completely when Mina had been shackled beside her only a couple of nights ago. She hadn't even the energy to banter back to the older, light blonde girls smart comments. Mina was still unbowed, she had yet to endure the long nights and hot days of captivity. They had both been striped of their clothes, hanging nude to the elements as the pre-dawn winds were howling off the mountain pass to ravage their soft skin. The Shadow Lord never spoke to either of them, merely entered the open chamber three times a day to survey that they were still alive. Then retreated back down his hatch, having more pressing things to attend to. Mina found the Demon's pressence slightly exotic and arousing in a dark deadly sort of way. An attraction that sent shivers of disgust over her body, and made her mind reel at the prospects of intimacy. Some times her over active libido was a real pain in the ass.

Rei on the other hand, could sense his demonic soul and it terrorfied her to no end. His heart was black and full of malice and discontent.

The sombre priests had been feeding Rei from a bowl of mush every few days as dawn broke over the mountains. A ritual not lost on the Soul Hunter, she understood they were merely keeping her alive. Those guarding walls of rock that were the mountains, could just barely be seen through the thick fog that swirled around this barren stone spire.

A the dull glare of the muted light that pasted as the sun in this forsaken realm, broke over the crest of the rocky horizon. Rei began to chuckle bitterly, the dark haired girl hadn't spoken a single word. This alarmed Mina, who past her an odd look from her position beside her against the black obsidian wall.

Then two priests in full black robes, shuffled up from the open hatch. Crossing through the dark pillars, and past the alter each with a wooden bowl barely filled with a rancid smelling grey paste. Rei knew what was coming and braced for it.

"Urgh..." Mina cast her face away, fighting against the large calloused hand forcing her head back and tipping the bowl's contents down her throat. Rei meekly swallowed her noxious brew, having been resigned to it for weeks. Her deep violet eyes shining with mirth for the first time in days, as Mina's face turned green. Her leader promptly beginning to hack and wheeze in disgust as the liquid burned down her throat.

The raven haired woman laughed lightly, her voice cracking from lack of use.

"Nice..." Mina groaned, shaking her head swiftly to clear the putrid vapour rising from her throat to burn the inside of her nose. "Glad to amuse you." She finished bitterly.

"Well, gotta get my laughs somewhere. Been hanging around waiting to die for days. But those damn priests won't let me." Rei groused, letting her head fall to her breast tiredly.

"Well, we would be sucky bait if we were dead." Mina stated with a smirk.

Her mood darkening instantly, as the reality of the severe pinch they were in.

"I thought you were supposed to be all sneaky and stealthy?" Rei muttered bitterly.

"Well, I guess I wasn't as sneaky or stealthy as I needed to be. " Mina sighed with little humour, cursing the group of Shadow Droids who had caught her a couple nights back, just as she reached the open chamber. She hadn't even sensed them hiding along side the flanking pillars. The were strange compared to the weak droids she had dispatched here and there in her journey through the keep. They had been powerful enough to mask their aura's from her. It had been a one sided battle, she had fought valiantly with her glowing heart chain but as soon as they were triggered the Shadow Lord had been summoned and the battle was pretty mute at that point. He had her bonded in thrall in seconds, his demon aura was so powerful she was left staring into his ice blue eyes completely lost. Before she was able to come to her senses the priests had her chained to the wall.

"Were's Artemis?" Rei sighed, shifting her shoulders which were tight and aching.

"I sent him down the other side of the Mountains into the Fire Plaines. Queen Serenity's military campaign is moving swiftly towards the Devil's Spine. He was to guide them up to the Keep. " Mina inclined her head towards Rei, with an encouraging smile.

"We still have hope." She finished.

Rei chuckled tiredly, shaking her head.

"Always the optimist...huh, Rei." Mina groaned, rolling her eyes in frustration at the pessimist.

"Who do you think we are the bait for?" Rei asked, quietly.

Mina fell into contemplation. Really no one would be coming to save them. The other Guardian's had a duty to protect Serenity, the White Moon army was on their way regardless. The Queen had a score to settle with the Lord of Shadow's for kidnapping her daughter. For all the queen knew her daughter was already dead and all that was left was vengeance.


Mamoru felt the trickle of cool water, drizzling down his thick hair, dripping off the tip of his nose back into the beaten up bucket before him. It wasn't much of a bath, but it did wonders to clean off the dirt and sweat from his days of hard travel. Dipping the worn wooden bucket back into the frigid water of the lake, he sought to cleanse the last of his fears away. They were headed up into the mountains after he and Usagi had cleaned themselves up. The uncertainty of what kind of threat this Lord of Shadows posed was driving him crazy. The Demon could no longer sacrifice Serenity, yet his fury towards them would be great.

Dumping another bucket of water over his head, allowing his soaked hair to fall over his forehead to drip a steady stream. Back into the shallow lapping water against the stoney beach. His knees were getting sore from kneeling on the slick stones, the cold wind from the lake was making his bare skin shiver and stiffen with goose flesh. He was only in his boxers out here in the faint dawn light. Flipping his wet hair, he glanced further down the rocky beach finding a fully naked Usagi crouched by the lake opting to use her hands to wash herself. Splashing the barest hint of water onto her already frozen, gooseflesh riddled body. Her golden hair trailing down to the dirt, as she scrubbed the water from her palms over her face cleaning away the remaining hint of blood from her temple, and dirt that had been masking her true beauty. Cleansing her heart and soul, with the ice cold water preparing her courage for the hard road ahead.

The Lord of Shadows was waiting...her Guardian's were suffering. It was time to face her Destiny.

As Mamoru rose to his feet, he transformed back into his Guardian form with a flash of deep crimson energy. Standing proudly in his dark navy armour, with the gleaming silver shoulder guards and girdle. His dark cloak flapping in the wind, his sword braced firmly on his hip. His dark leather boots, crunching against the stones as he moved to her side. His dark leather gauntlets on his hands, a slight weight that made him feel secure that he was ready for combat.

He watched her quiet reflective bath, as she lightly drew wet fingers through her hair. Which was cast over her shoulder, falling down her breasts in waves of gold. Letting out a long lingering sigh, as she cupped more water from beside her, rubbing it lightly down her arms. He understood she had found her own powers, he needed to trust in her, and in her power. Yet he was going to protect her this time, prove that he was worthy of her love. She had refused to leave the Dark Realms with out Rei and Mina. He understood that she had to face the Demon, reclaim her inner strength, and confidence that he had taken from her upon her captivity. He supported her, and would protect her till his dieing breath.

"Mamoru?" She tossed her damp hair over her shoulder sensing his eyes upon her.

"Ready?" He smiled encouragingly, offering her a hand.

She nodded, a determination glowing in her eyes. Rising to her feet, she thrust her arm over her head calling down the powers of the Moon. In a flash of white light, she stood in her Guardian form and it took his breath away. Her wild travel worn hair was now back in it's perfect odango's and tails. She looked both powerful and elegant, in her white leather tunic and flowing white skirts. Her silver metal belt gleaming in the half light, with her crescent sword on one hip and her silver disc on its hook on the other side. Her arms and legs looking so exotic and deadly with the swirling silver runes painted upon their toned flesh. Her long white leather boots and gloves protecting her a mirror to his own dark leather armour.

Luna cast her an approving nod, as she smiled brightly back to her Feline Guardian. Who was waiting for them further up the bank at the cabin. Tuxy chuckled, raising his dark eyebrows in appreciating surprise as Moon passed him along the well worn path further up from the cabin. Usagi had rekindled her close friendship with the Tau this morning, spending a few hours in friendly banter. Playing and fooling around as they used to back on earth. Her heart healed, and warmed once more. Knowing that she was finally bonded with her true love. That the old gods were looking out for them, protecting them as they could. From the curse she knew was upon them.

Soon they were back in the looming walls of trees, moving silently into the more rigid paths into the mountains. By dusk they were high in the mountain passes, the mountain trail was sparce with stands of spruce and fir trees. The rocky ground falling steeply away from them, the barest hint of soft moss attached to the barren ground, muffling their boots steps as the mists of the higher peaks began to enshroud them. Soon the trees and air had thinned away to barren rock, following Tuxy who guided them ever onward towards the looming shadow that shot up into the darkening sky in the high reaches of the Spine. They would move through the darkness of night, by dawn they will have reached the Keep...

As they reached the long stone bridge that connected the massive stone tower to the mountain side. A sea of cloud floated over the bridge, obscuring the bottomless divide on either side. The dawn light filtered down patheticly from the high reaches, slanting down upon the barren stone of the walkway in dull greys and oranges. The barren peaks of the mountains rose up around them, broken only by the carved stone tower that seemed to float within the clouds. The tower stood proud amid the murky fog, the open chamber at the summit touched by the faint sunlight, waiting for them.

A cold feeling ran through him as he stared up at the foreboding visage of the silent tower, glancing down he found Usagi staring across the fog clogged expanse of the bridge with a worried look of her own.

"Well shall we get this over with?" Luna growled bitterly, she had fought the most to get Serenity to go back to earth. In the end she too had given in, her daughter was just as rash and stubborn as she was. Serenity had promised herself she would never cower and let others fight her battles for her ever again.

They moved into the cloud bank tentatively, wading onto the bridge for several yards before Tuxy halted ahead of them. Pulling both butcher knives from his black leather belt around his pink shorts. His soft brown eyes narrowing, announcing a coming threat. Luna crouched low, a growl rumbling from her throat. As a wave of shadows poured out of the tower, a small army of dark puppets coming at them at a dead run. Luna leaped forward, teeth gnashing in anticipation for the battle. Mamoru drew his sword, as Serenity did the same. A determination in her blue eyes, making her soft features look hard and strong. Mamoru was taken a back by the sudden change in her as she assumed her Guardian persona. She was incredibly powerful, both in body and spirit.

As they closed in Mamoru moved into their ranks, releasing himself to the anger that drove his fighting, allowing the white haze of battle instincts to consume him. He was a force of steel, tearing through their lines like a wind of death.

In an instant they were surrounded by faceless dark figures, who moved and writhed as if made of liquid. Tuxy was a blur of shining blades, ducking and weaving through the throng taking down one shadow after another. As Luna moved with feral grace, tooth and claws flashing in the dawn light as she delivered one killing blow after another. Mamoru and Moon stood back to back their twin swords one with a silver hilt, one of gold shining with deadly speed against the surrounding puppets who sought to take them down. It was like a sea of darkness slowly overwhelming them. Tuxy had to retreat up against Mamoru's knees, as they took down one wave after another. A silent onslaught of black, faceless, humanoid puppets who seemed endless.

Tuxy let out a scream of terror from Mamoru's knees, the taller man was frozen for only an instant. Staring down at his feet, noticing a shadow droid had flattened himself into a black puddle of goo, sucking poor little Tuxy within its depths. Tuxy's lower half was sunk into the shadow's magic, his childish brown eyes staring up at him wide with horror, little arms flailing, hands patheticly attempting to clutch onto the smooth stones of the bridge floor.

Mamoru had several droids coming at him from his left flank, Moon was flanked by several shadows herself, her sword thrusting and parrying, as she kept them at bay.

If Mamoru stopped fighting to offer Tuxy aid, then they would break through him and overtake Moon at his side.

Tuxy squealed in fright, as he was taken under the dark mass of shadow on the floor of the bridge. Mamoru cringed with remorse, unable to look at the small warrior as he was consumed...He had to make a choice he hoped Tuxy would understand.

Then a air shattering scream echoed out over the battle from high above. Mamoru thrust several droids back with a strong perry, as the scream rang out yet again. Piercing the air like a thousand shards of glass, striking the earth.

Luna didn't even blink, biting into the neck of a shadow taking it down to the stones and tearing out its throat. Before leaping at another nearby, taking that one down seconds later.

Serenity cast her face upwards, her eyes filled with both terror and pain. For a heart beat she stood staring at him, fighting an inner battle to remain at his side and help him fight or abandon him to save her cousin. Who was now fighting for her life against a most horrid fate, soon to lose it.

"I love you..." Serenity cried, her face twisting with remorse. "I have to go...she's dieing." She cast her face back up, the nightmare's horror becoming real as Mina's screams echoed into the dawn light yet again. "Promise me you will get through this..." Her voice broke, as tears's threatened to fall.

She then cast Mamoru a regretful look. Mamoru didn't understand at first, his face lost to confusion. Soon evolving into stunned silence, as her twin dove wings exploded from her back in a flurry of white feathers. He then understood she was leaving his side.

"Wait! Serenity stop!" Mamoru lunged for her, as her wings beat the air carrying her swiftly upward out of his reach. Her soft grey cloak folding into a lone ribbon along her back to accommodate her powerful wings.

"No, Usako! We need to fight him together!" Mamoru screamed at her, thrusting his sword deep into the gut of a shadow who sought to take advantage of his distraction.

Luna yowled up at Serenity's retreating form, flying out of sight into the thick fog that clung along side of the stone tower. Headed upward towards the soul shattering screams and her own fate.

"DAMMIT!" Mamoru cursed to the heavens, now having no time to take care of the shadows. He moved to the defensive. Luna at his heels, pushing through the sea of shadows towards the other side of the bridge. The dark wave of evil overwhelmed them in seconds, Luna and Mamoru fell to the onslaught. Disappearing beneath the darkness surging over them, like a tidal wave of inky blackness.

Serenity didn't look back, could feel his fear and frustration as the Shadow's over took him. Trusting in his powers, in his fierce will to remain at her side. He would follow her up to the chamber of Sacrifice. But she needed to stop the Demon from hurting her cousin even more. The memory of how brutal he had killed her haunting her. Chilling her to the very core of her being. Keeping her watery eyes focused on the apex of the spire, the dark pillars and flanking walls of black stone. Upward towards the open chamber of sacrifice glowing in the orange light of dawn.

He couldn't fail Serenity, not now!

(I call upon the powers of the Earth, great mother who protects, let thy power gather and bring forth life to the stones. STONE GOLUM!) Mamoru's voice muffled with power, vibrated through the mass of dark shadows. The words calling to him, as if his own inner power or a long forgotten memory resurfaced once more within his mind. The bridge began to shutter and quake, the stones breaking free from the structure from back the way they had come, gathering into three large piles. With a beastly roar, a deep crimson light began to glow around the loose stones. They moved with a grinding force, gathering and shifting to form large soldiers of stone. They barely resembled the body of a human, the stones forming a small head with no features, a large quarried torso made with larger stones. With arms and legs formed from boulder sized rocks taken from the bridge itself. With lurching powerful strides they moved to combat the dark mass of shadows. The stones moving against each other creating an odd scraping sounds, dust floating away from grinding joints.

The three soldiers brought to life by Mamoru's powers charged the mass of dark shadows, casting them aside with great strikes from their rock like fists. Within seconds, the shadows had been driven back to the edge of the bridge. Gathering uncertainly in small clusters, unsure how to battle three giants made of stone. Mamoru gathered his feet thankful he had remembered an earth spell, from his time in Elysian. He wondered how much magic he truly knew? Luna leaped at his heels as they ran for the Keeps's open archway. Leaving the shadows to deal with the Golums of Stone.

Ducking through a massive gateway, into the deep cool shade of the inner chambers of the Keep. He dashed down the main hall, with Luna at his side. The hall was flanked with plain archways, that lead to small rooms and alcoves. Then as if by his mere force of will, and need to be by her side. The silver ribbon that lead him to her side appeared, floating before him an eternal guide to always be able to protect her.

Inching around an archway, he warily gazed up a narrow curving stairwell. It was poorly lit and gloomy, a perfect avenue for Shadow Droids to attack him on all sides. Casting Luna a rueful look, the cat huffed loudly understanding it was the only way up.

"Lets go then..." Mamoru growled, dashing up the stairs with Luna at his side. Her brown eyes glowing in the half light, daring the shadows to attack them. The spiral stairwell soon swallowed them as they ascended upward.


Serenity landed silently, at the far side of the circular platform. Alighting just between the flanking dark pillars before the trap door. Her wings folded to the side of her back, her dull silver grey cloak trapped like a heavy ribbon down her back. Finding the hulking form of the Lord of Shadows hunched over the black stone alter. That sat dead center on the circular platform before the looming dark stone walls. A rune etched pentagram carved onto the surface of the platform. His long silver hair fluttering in the cool breeze coming off the mountains. His twisted goat horns gleaming like steel in the sharp light. His chest bare, waist lightly covered in black flowing pants. Rippling muscles taunt and covered with a sheen of sweat, as he fought against the writhing form of her cousin. He was bolting the last shackle on her ankle, chuckling and grinning with smug satisfaction as she cursed him at the top of her lungs. Light blonde hair a wild frenzy as she fought her chains. Rei hung on the dark stone wall behind, her face impassive and defeated.

Serenity gave her Guardian's no notice, sheathing her sword and unhooking her silver disc. Charging it in her hand she cast it under an arm, letting fly with all her fury towards the Demon's face. The disc glowed a hot white, as it barrelled down upon him. A bright shooting star rocketing with accuracy towards his arrogant face. The Demon's cold gaze was locked with Mina's, attempting to enthrall her once more. As the disc sliced through one of his curving horns, sheering it away and burning the remaining bone black. The Lord of Shadow's roared in agony, the force of his voice's pain cracking the obsidian wall. Rei cowered in terror as she hung from the wall, the stone vibrating against her bare back like an after shock. Squeezing her eyes shut tight, seeking to calm her thundering heart.

Serenity caught her weapon as it returned to her hand once more, with a satisfied smile. Hooking it back on her belt, and releasing her crescent sword once more. Rei glanced up, noticing her with stunned admiration, a glimmer of hope in her dark eyes. Her pale gaunt countenance having life once more.

"Serenity!" She screamed her voice cracking with emotion and ill use.

Mina thrashed upon the alter with more fury, not realizing that her little cousin was now a Guardian.

"Stupid Brat! Get out of here!" She ranted in fury, as another stream of curses that would make a hardened soldier blush issued out of her elegant mouth.

The Lord of Shadows, thundered around the alter glaring at her with both distaste and dark humour.

"I see, the little Moonbeam has some power now?" He chuckled.

Serenity never paid him any retaliatory banter, her eyes were cold fire. Her face set with a stern resolve as she crossed over to him to engage in this final battle.


Mamoru had been down countless corridors and halls, through empty rooms and small stone gardens.

Now running down another endless hall, the stairs long since leading up to this useless mid level of the tower. Crossing into an adjoining outer corridor, the was open on one side towards the mountain side. Stone support pillars and arches ran the length of the corridor's onside facing the stone visage of the mountain side, the other just carved stonework of the inner tower. He could see the rock of the mountain side speeding past the stone railings that ran the length of one side of the hall. A cold wind blowing his hair and playing with his cloak. His heart was in his throat as an ice formed in his stomach, burning him with anxiety from the inside out. A panic of frustration was rising like bile in his mouth, as he could hear the ringing of steel coming from high above. Serenity was already in combat with the Demon Lord and he was lost in the belly of the tower.

The silver thread still wove ahead of him, but it wasn't an efficient path. If he didn't find a stairwell soon, he was going to try and scale the outside of the tower. His desperation to get to her side quickly, throbbing in his head as a cold sweat clung to him under his armour. Cheeks flushed, face pale with fear. He just could not urge his feet to move fast enough.

Luna ran ahead of him, again leaving him behind as she could move faster. As he skidded into a very large room, with a strange oval pool in the centre. Long narrow slats on the north wall , allowed the suns faint light to shard down onto the stones. Moving silently, he stopped before the pool. Watching the shimmering of what looked like black fish swimming under the water's surface, sending ripple's to cascade against the rim. It reminded him oddly of a portal, similar to what Mercury had used to get to the Celestial Moon?

A low iron bell tolled through the vast room, as Mamoru raced to the opposite side. Hiding in the shadows of an archway, observing the coming lines of people in full dark robes. Their hands braced before them, hiding in the low flowing arms. They kept their head bowed as they moved to surround the simple pool. They moved to knelling positions, hand splayed before them bowing low and chanting in an endless monotone. Touching their foreheads repeatedly against the cold stone floor.

"The Keeper shall guide us, The Keeper shall protect us, We shall thrive under your rule. In your devotion we are gathered. We pledge our souls upon your wisdom, shelter us within your great powers, we live to serve...Our lives are yours."

They chanted over and over, their voices droning on in a continuous monotone. It was becoming hypnotic, Mamoru felt the sound drawing away his worry and dulling his mind till he was calmed and at peace. No longer thinking about Serenity or what dire situation she was in.

A sharp pain exploded through his body, setting his mind on fire then suddenly images of Serenity...of Usagi flooded through him. Her face smiling so brightly, blue eyes full of mirth and love just for him.

Her sweet lithe form dancing in complete abandon at the the festival. The sound of her beautiful music filling his soul as she played her flute out on the veranda of their home. The soft sound of her voice, echoing to him, as they made love in the gardens of Elysian. "I love you...Mamo-chan."

Then he felt a set of teeth sinking into the soft flesh of his neck.

"Ouch!" he cried in sharp pain, mindlessly slapping the small creature attacking him.

He heard a sharp squeak, then small claws raking down his cheek, before it retreated down his shoulder armour.

"Snap out of it!" A small voice chirped in his ear, then dashed away again on skittish legs.

In shock, Mamoru snatched the small fuzzy rodent perched on his shoulder drawing it in a tight fist towards his face.

Finding Tuxy back in his mouse form, glaring up at him with small black beady eyes, arms folded over his chest in irritation.

"Thanks my friend..." Mamoru breathed, placing Tuxy back on his shoulder respectfully and dashing away. Thankful for the mouse and his link to Usako helping him keep his sanity. The magic those priests were tapping into was powerful, very, very powerful.

"I should bite you again...for letting me get sucked into that shadow...that was gross. The only way I could escape him was to return to my mouse form and crawl out along the side of the bridge...but no one notices little ol' Tuxy while you set three walking rock piles to charge blindly around the place. I had to run for my life down the upper railing or get squished. " Tuxy kept on ranting bitterly as Mamoru rounded a bend finding a set of the stairs that wound around the outer wall of the tower. The Silver wisp of light floating ahead of them like a ghostly trail.


The Shadow Lord grunted, catching the blade of Serenity's sword with his bare hands which he had transformed into stone. "This is growing tired my dear." He sighed. He had sought to enter her into thrall several times, finding that she was just to powerful to submit to his magic. They were evenly matched in magical power, yet he was still much stronger physically. Though her raw rage and fury was placing him on the defensive and keeping him there.

Serenity screamed in frustration, she hadn't be able to get any kind of advantage against him. She had danced through one weapons kata after another, moving with grace and strength. When that all failed to give her a deadly strike, she was resorted to blind hatred. She hacked at him, thrusting her sword over her head over and over.

"Just Die!" She raged, sweat beading on her forehead, panting, starting to feel overwhelmed by the Demon's strength.

"You can't sacrifice me any longer, I am no longer innocent!" She growled, as she thrust her face near his arrogant sneering lips. Her sword the barrier between them, as he gripped the blade tightly.

"That is a pity, yes. But the Blood of a Lunarian Royal is still worth a great deal for powering a dark spell. " His smile widened knowingly.

Then it struck her like a cold slap, she hadn't heard anything from Mina in a long time. Rei had been watching the fight and forgot about poor Mina chained to the alter as well. Her face suddenly paled, as she took in the older woman lying stiffly on the stone. Her light blue eyes were glazing over, becoming dull, her breath shallow, chest barely moving. Her skin turning grey, moist with sweat. As the shackles the Lord had attached to her wrists had razor sharp blades underneath that had sliced the arteries. Her blood had been flowing down the canals of the alter to collect in the silver bowl at the far end, since the beginning of the battle.

"Mina!" Rei screamed, tears flooding down her face. As she began to tear at her chains, writhing futilely against her rusty metal bonds.

"No..." Serenity breathed in dread, her wings unfurling once more as she leaped over the Shadow Lords head to fly over to the alter.

The Lord began to laugh with sadistic pleasure, his voice echoing over the open chamber bouncing off the rocks of the mountains surrounding them.

It was then that Luna leaped from the open hatch, bounding for the Demon who was standing near the dark pillars. She made it several feet onto the platform before two Shadow Droids pulled themselves from hiding along the pillar's long shadows. They moved silently into her path, bobbing and weaving as if seeking to dance around her. Luna skidded to a halt amid the Shadows, growling low in her throat frustrated to be caught battling the minions when the true enemy was only a few yards away.

Serenity pulled on the chains, around her cousins wrists, tears bluring her vison. This was just like before when the poor girl had died before her. Only this time it was far, far worse. This was her cousin, her true family. About to be bled to death and there was nothing she could do to save her.

"Mina...stay with me...please...Mina..." Serenity bawled, her hands fluttering over her cousin's naked stiffening body. Her face heating up in both fear and frustration, sweat trickling down her temples sending her into a shuttering shiver of grief.

(Mamo-Chan!) Serenity screamed through their link. Her voice thundering and desperate.

(I'm coming almost there.) Mamoru answered, his voice panting as he strained to mount the last of the steps at great speed.

(Mina...she's dieing.!) Serenity responded, her voice breaking into powerful sobs.

Then his dark head popped up from the hatch, scrambling up onto the open chamber stones. He cast Luna who was in battle with two Shadows a quick look, feeling confident she could handle them he dashed onward. Towards Serenity, who was standing before a stone alter, her golden tails fluttering around her hunched shivering shoulder's. Her wings spread out in a concealing manner over a prone body of another girl chained on the alter. With light blonde hair and a very nude, very full voluptuous body. He knew instantly it was Mina. He made it only a couple strides before the Shadow Lord moved in front of him, blocking his path to his love. His powerful naked chest heaving for breath as he seethed, ice blue eyes glaring down at him in threat. A glimmer of recognition on in his arrogant smile. As a burst of wind cast his long silver hair wildly around his broad shoulders. His stone hands held before him, preparing himself for another battle.

Mamoru skidded to a halt, his sword shining in the morning light. Tuxy gave a little squeak from Mamoru's silver metal shoulder guard, scampering out of sight down his back, beneath his dark cloak. Heading towards the alter, unseen, to see if he could help.

Serenity blinked back more tears, taking a surprised breath as Tuxy the Mouse crawled up onto the alter. Dashing along Mina's cold body, up her belly, across the crevice between her breasts heading towards the metal cuffs that bound her to the stone.

"Tuxy?" Serenity breathed in astonishment, as a sharp clang rang out. She darted her gaze up once more, finding Mamoru in mortal combat with the Shadow Lord. His sword flashed in the morning light, as he ducked and weaved through the taller demon's striking arms. Suddenly the demon had Mamoru around the neck, lifting him bodily off the ground. His large hand squeezing his neck, hearing the popping and rending sounds of cartilage breaking as he sought to break his neck. Mamoru gurgled, dropping his sword to the stones with a dull clatter. His fingers clinging to the Demon's wide wrist attempting to twist from his deadly hold. The Shadow Lord roared with satisfaction, loud and strong, sending more waves of rage to crack the stones around the chamber.

Serenity leaped back into the air, her wings fluttering wide as she cast her glowing white disc once more towards the Demon's back. The Shadow Lord's, silver hair flew to the side over a broad shoulder as he wiped around to catch the disc. His large taloned hand caught the white hot disc, crushing it in his powerful grasp. Allowing the shards to shatter to the stone floor at his feet. Then with a smug smile, he mocked her by waggling a finger in a chastising manner.

Serenity screamed in rage, her mind going numb. With her wings beating the air furiously, she shot like a bullet towards the Demon her sword outstretched before her to spear him.

The Shadow Lord chuckled darkly, as two black leather bat like wings exploded from his back. He released Mamoru to the stones. The Guardian crumpled to the stones, sucking in deep breaths, rubbing his sore neck.

With a smug laugh the demon leaped into the air, leading the enraged Serenity up high into the concealing clouds. As Mamoru gathered himself to his feet, he could hear the ringing sounds of her sword connecting against the demon stone hands.

"Serenity!" Luna called up into the clouds, standing in victory over the two Shadow droids who were melting into puddles at her feet.

Mamoru caught a glimpse of Tuxy working on the shackles that were holding Mina down. Using his small claws as make shift lock picks.

Trusting that Serenity could handle the Shadow Lord for a few minutes he raced to the alter. He was needed...

He pressed his hands against the cold flesh of Mina's belly. Urging his healing golden aura into her body, it flowed down his arms but refused to sink into the girl's stiffening body. He didn't understand it?

Why wasn't his powers healing her...

Tuxy finished picking the locks on Mina's wrists, they fell with a clang against the stone. He dashed back down the naked girls torso to tend to the chains on her ankles, casting the stunned Mamoru an odd worried look wondering why he wasn't healing Serenity's cousin.

"It's to late...Mamoru." Rei voice was soft and full of pain,echoing from just over his shoulder with a finality.

Mamoru cast her a sorrowful look over his shoulder, finding the raven haired girl hanging naked, chained to a black stone wall. Tears flooding down her cheeks, as she absorbed the horror of her friends death. Taking in the blind unseeing blue eyes, staring out at her. Her chest still, forever at peace.

The Shadow Lord, felt the Lunarian Royals final heart beat. He grasped the blade of Serenity's sword, drawing her in close. Serenity yelped in surprise as he bowed his head to meet her face, glaring down at her from ice cold eyes.

"I may not be able to resurrect the Demon Beast Kahlas's...but I now have the power to stand at my Master's side as an equal. I will no longer be a pawn in his plans of conquest. " The Shadow Lord threw his head back laughing heartlessly, his body shivering with anticipation for the great powers about to be bestowed upon him.

Serenity yanked on her sword with two hands, trying in vain to free it from the Demon's grasp.

The Shadow Lord began to chant. "Ancient Gods of the Sphere's of Light and Darkness. I have bled the child of moonlight, gathered the powers of the her soul. I call upon thee, I pay homage to thee, grant me all the powers she possesses." Thrusting his head back, basking in the growing aura of white light that was now flowing in a steady stream from the alter far below. Crashing through the grey murky cloud bank below them, to bathe his massive powerful form. His ice blue eyes began to glow with a build up of power.

Serenity gasped in shock and horror, as she felt Mina's very soul, her powers entering his demonic body.

Mamoru watched in awe as Mina's essence began to float up from the overflowing silver bowl at the end of the alter. That was filled to the very brim with her blood. Her white aura the barest of threads, ascending into the cloud mass high above. Then the echoing roar of the Demon's triumph as he absorbed her powers.

He had to stop this, it was already difficult to take this demon down he didn't want to comprehend how much more powerful he would be with Mina's guardian powers. But how...

Then a soft whisper, that had guided him over and over since becoming a Guardian began to echo within his soul. He voiced aloud the words coming to life within him.

"Blessed humbled gift of Life. Breath of Light, womb of the eternal. I pray to thee, come before me. Show your great compassion and deliver this soul from the brink of death...RECOVERY!" Mamoru bowed his head and began to chant his prayer, his golden aura around his hands pressed against the cold, frozen flesh of Mina's belly. Growing in both strength and intensity, the golden light soon overwhelmed her dead body. Glowing like a golden goddess, her long hair a wild flowing flare of light. Mina became light itself if for only a moment.

Mamoru groaned as he maintained his focus on the massive amount of magic energy he was channeling. His dark eyebrows furrowed, face twisting in pain as the burning power ebbed from his soul and into Mina.

The Shadow Lord's body jolted in sudden pain, his triumphant look falling into horror as the link was severed. The white light faded from his body, leaving him a dull shade of his once proud self. His body went stiff, frozen for a brief second as the power was recalled from his body. Leaving him shivering with loss.

Serenity took the opportunity, as his grip grew slack upon her blade. She pulled her weapon back, cocking her arm back then thrust her sword into his gut with a scream of rage. With a somber defiance to his plans, Serenity's blue eyes glared coldly into his stunned face.

"It is ended..." She breathed with relief, as she watched the light of life fade in his eyes.

"It has only just begun...Moon child. " The Shadow Lord, hung off her blade his inky dark blood oozing down the steel towards her crescent guards.

Serenity's eyes flew wide in surprise, her blood running cold as his voice began to whisper on the wind a restless soul refusing to seek solace behind the veil of life. A prophecy made flesh by the act of giving it voice.

" Within the dawn of dreams, the two shall come of Light and Dark.

The tapestry thread by love, shall burn and be forgotten.

What once was lost, shall be found.

As the realms fall into thrall within the Eternal Shadow.

The four of four of four shall circle the two.

Brought together by fear, held together by love.

To find that which hides within the veil of dreams. "

The Lord of Shadow's voice began to fade, carried away by the freezing winds of time.

"Beware, Child of the Moon...the boxes have been opened. The Keeper's bane has been awakened once more." Was his final words, as his body dissolved into a spectre of shadow. Fading and falling away from her sword into the clouds swirling below.

Serenity beat her wings, keeping herself steady as she watched the Demon fade below. The wind played with her hair, casting it around her shoulders. The short skirts of her Guardian armour fluttered, as a massive shiver ran up her back. Her mind reeling with his final words. They rang with the truth of destiny... This was only the beginning.

As she landed once more upon the open chamber. Her heart lifted once more with insurmountable joy, as both Rei and Mina, nude as the day they were born ran into Serenity's eager arms. Mamoru stood aloof near the alter with little Tuxy on his shoulder armour and Luna chuckling happily at his side. The girls sobbed and embraced each other while Mamoru and Luna watched appreciating the purity of the moment. The bonds of friendship, of sisterhood remade, forged anew and strengthened yet again. In time, Serenity separated from them dashing into his arms. Her eyes bright with a deep unbreakable love. He embraced her tight, as she sobbed into his chest. Leaning his face into the softness of her hair, taking in her sweet scent of morning sunshine and spring flowers. She was everything to him, she carried his heart and his soul. He would rather die then be with out her.

"I am free..." She breathed, as he guided her face up with his strong fingers.

"You belong to me...As I belong to you." Mamoru leaned down his breath mingling with hers for but a moment before their lips touched in a tender, most passionate kiss to date.

The blare of a trumpet broke their kiss. The two lovers turned together, taking in the lines of soldiers cresting the rocky trail before the bridge to the spire. They were regaled in the silver armour of the Moon Kingdom. The morning light shining sharply off their elegant metal plate mail. A silver banner shone in the morning light, a golden crescent shining in the centre of the heavy fabric. A powerful white cat led the charge of the White Moon's main infantry towards the partially destroyed bridge. Flanking him was Jupiter in her silver armour and Mercury in her blue leather tunic and silk breeches and flowing long sleeve undershirt.

"Mother..." Serenity whispered in awe. Filled with happiness at getting to see her dear mother again, yet an anxiety settled in her mind. So much had happened, since last they talked. So much lay before her now? She glanced up at Mamoru's amazed face, as he took in the vast army. As he turned back to her, his eyes were filled with a love that was deeper and more powerful then anything she had ever experienced. It gave her courage and hope for the future. Together, nothing could break their bond ever again.

Stay Tuned for part two:Ballad of Dreams...