The Dark City

She chuckled with a hideous mirth. Dark clouds covered the land, created, of course, by her satanic witchcraft which had brought such victory to her hand. As she looked down upon the ruined buildings and humbled inhabitants below, she laughed at their fear and lack of hope.

The war had been won. There was no denying it. The once great, advanced city of Odinsong was now under her command, and with it, the whole world would soon follow.

Their technology, so complex and mysterious it was regarded as magical or holy, she could control with a wave of her hands. Their treasures of gold and silver were hers, their precious stones now adorning her crown and dress. She had finished the construction of her new palace, out of a decimated quarter of the city that was once home to those who perceived nobility. Nothing could stop her. Odinsong was hers, at least, what was left. All that remained was her palace, black against the already dark sky, and the bloodstained streets her armies had left in their wake.

The queen caressed the Balusters of her top floor's balcony, sighing at their cold, clean touch. Nothing could stop her. Her only weaknesses, the magic crystals that held her power, had been scattered across the globe, impossible to gather and heavily guarded. Her alchemists and scientists had learned how to create life, and she now had three new monsters to do her bidding. She could even summon demons from the shadows of hell to her side. Her new torture chamber was about finished as well. The thought made her smile with glee as moans of pain echoed up to her ears from the city below.

But something was wrong. The screams she heard were not belonging to civilians. They were the screams of her own army.

Rushing back towards the edge of the baluster, leaning over for a better view, the Lady was furious to see her worst nightmare coming true. Her army, thought unstoppable by way of her magics, was being defeated at the hands of insects! The last pestilent worms who dared to defy her!

There were four warriors. Rot, The Master of Service, Schwarz, The Master of Brilliance, Weib, The Master of Defense, and Blass, The Master of Veiling. Once important political figures, and members of Odinsong's government, they had somehow evaded the Lady's Judgement. While she was distracted with conquest, the four had retrieved her magical crystals, that they might be used against her.

The Lady, veins within temples bulging with a pure, hellish hate, walked back through her room, grabbing one of her vast collection of blades, all stained with the blood of their previous owners. She had began her conquest with nothing but a knife, a simple tool from a mother's kitchen set, and if that was all she required, a knife would end this dilemma as well.

Frederick, one of The Lady's most trusted servants, scuttled out of the shadows like a roach as she descended the stairs into the lobby.

"My lady!" he exclaimed, in his pitiful, whimpering tone, "The four warriors, they are now at the palace gate! We must quickly-quickly get you to safety!"

The Lady was disgusted by these words. Frederick was a disgusting man. One fluid motion, and his disgusting tongue was silenced for good. The old man, his eyes displaying an inability to understand, slowly crumpled to the floor as the knife wound in his chest slowly bled, soaking his suit into a crimson hue. The Lady bent over, wrapping her hands around the servants neck, clutching hard as if to choke him. With a few coughs and failed gasps for air, the poor man was silenced for good. The Lady's fingers had penetrated the skin, and her sorcery soon drew all strength from the body before her. She left behind a withered husk, a slight trail of blood dripping from her fingers as she pulled away. This would surely be enough. Surely enough to overcome four warriors such as these.

A loud bang from the floor below caught the Lady's attention. The palace shook, gravel and dust falling from the ceiling at the impact. The grand door to her palace, a piece of architecture worthy of much pride, had been forced open.

Running down the stairs, the Lady was encouraged to quicken her pace as the palace guards wailed in agony below. The entry hall had been invaded, and her men killed brutally by the warriors. For a moment, all she could do was stand in silence, staring into the faces of her foes. But a faint smile played upon her lips, a mask concealing the boiling rage within her. The four who dared to defy her? She would not kill them. She would bring them pain worse than death, in every sick and twisted way she knew how.

The first warrior, Rot, came at her with a battleax. The fool. He was no match for the Lady's power. Using the energy of Frederick's soul, the Lady summoned a tendril of darkness, which erupted from below the earth, stopping the warrior's weapon in midswing. Soon constricted by more shadowy constructs, the lady calmly used her free hand to drain the soul from his body.

"LET HIM GO!" the second warrior, Schwarz, demanded loudly. He and the others rushed to surround her, but to no avail. Her eyes turned black by the spells she was casting, the ground opened up before the warriors, swallowing the bodies of her fallen guards for use in her wicked sorcery. Words, ancient and evil, escaped her lips as ghostly hands grabbed at the warriors who sought to destroy her, all to no avail, all for naught at her power.

But something was amiss. The warriors struggled, indeed, but were overcoming her onslaught of witchcraft! Having taken her magic crystals, powers were bestowed upon them that could counter her own. Darting around the chasm she had created, the warrior Weib struck her with three arrows. She screamed in pain, her grip on consciousness fading as her wicked magic began to run wild. Making use of the opportunity, Blass managed to close in on her, striking her in the head with a powerful blow.

"You would hit a woman?" she coughed, smiling with blackened teeth.

Blass lifted his fist to strike again, but found he could not move. The dark hands had constricted him, allowing the Lady to make her escape. As she ran down the stairs, Schwarz and Weib rushed to Blaas's side. The poor warrior, however, was dragged below, and was swallowed by the earth, never again to be seen.

The Lady was dying. The arrows had pierced her heart, and only her magics could keep her alive. For what seemed like hours she ran, leaving behind a trail of blood as she navigated the corridors and catacombs that had been constructed below her palace. The two warriors were close behind her, she knew, and she had only one option available. If she was to die, she would take all that she could with her, and she had the means. Laughing hysterically between pitiful gasps through her gashed throat, the Lady jumped down the steps as she reached the lowest levels of the palace's basement. There, she would have her last laugh. There, her vengeance would be found.

Walls began to crumble. The earth shook. The ground opened up, consuming the city as if being eaten by some unfathomable beast. The waters rose and a torrent of rain fell, as a crimsom maelstrum stirred the heavens into a frenzy of madness. The Lady's final curse had been cast. Odinsong would sink that day, into the darkness to which the Lady was sentenced.

With their last bit of strength, the remaining two warriors escaped the palace, sealing it with the magic of the Lady's crystals, that her evils might never rise again. Only Schwarz managed to escape the city alive, before it was completely swallowed up by the Lady's last wave of destruction. His life was spent in attempts to destroy the magic crystals, for they were believed to be able to reopen the sealed palace of the Lady, and perhaps revive the evil stored deep below. His numerous failures eventually lead him to hide the magic crystals about the world, separate, so that their retrieval would be most difficult. As the magic crystals could be needed to both awaken, or seal again the darkness of the Lady, Schwarz created a map, secretly holding their locations, should the crystals be needed to stop the forces of evil again. Time moved on. Schwarz soon fell to the waning of years, and the map was lost within the pages of an old world's history.

One thousand years later, the map was given to Princess Peach during her visit to Rogueport, and she mysteriously disappeared! Looks like it's up to Mario to save the day again!

By Qara Silah, the writer invisible.
Qara Silah