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The cold night air was evident from the shards of ice coming from the mouths of all within the halls of the Golden Order's castle. They had just finished a particuarly excruciating training session with Verinon, and they were all tired.

"Well, what do we do now?" came the voice of Recardio, as he kicked a pebble on the stone floor of the courtyard. " I don't know." Came the melodious voice of Cuppy as she snapped her fingers to make a small orb of lighting above them. Arelind watched it for a moment, captivated by it's light.

"Showoff." Deadon smirked, and looked into the sky as the starts winked into existence. Next to him, Kiyalandriel smiled and Lorodysh nervously fingered his blade. "Something does not feel right."

Suddenly, Blakjak appeared behind the members, and shouted out, "BOO!" Everyone jumped, and Cuppy dropped the orb, causing it to scorch the ground as it hit. "What's the big idea, dumbass?!" Lorodysh yelled. Blakjak laughed, and ran inside the castle saying, "It's a joke. see ya later. Verinon needs me."

"Jerk." Cuppy muttered under her breath. Suddenly, something darted through the shadows of the gates, just barely out of sight.

"What the hell was that?!" Kiya exclaimed, drawing her weapon, a light rod enchanted with elvin magic.

"I don't know. Loro, go and check it out." Cuppy said, gripping her staff firmly. "Yes, sir!" Loro said, saluting and walking over to the gate. Suddenly, the shadow moved again, and dropped behind Loro. With a few quick swipes, he easily killed him, the blood staining the white stone of the courtyard.

"Take him down!" Cuppy said, and began a spell. Before she could finish the invocation, however, the man turned.

"Chaos Technique #6: Mass Paralysis" He barked, and a blast of light filled the air. Suddenly, everyone froze. "What the hell?" Cuppy said. Each time she attempted to move, she found her own body could not react to her commands!

"Weaklings." The man said, and continued into the Keep. Suddenly, Cuppy screamed, and collapsed on the ground. "Damnit... how did she escape my paralysis?!" The man said. Suddenly, a breeze blew through, revealing the man's face; which was covered by a white mask. "The Agency did not warn me of this... I need to get out of here."

The masked man leapt up onto the wall as Cuppy removed the bindings from her companions, and they gave chase.

"Damnit..." The man said, and ran. However, he soon was surrounded on all sides by the Order members. "Surrender, and you may live." Deadon said, stepping forward. The man scowled, and saw the Triadiar insignia on Deadon's chest plate. "A Triadiar... interesting. Very well, I surrender."

Deadon stepped forward, but the man punched him squarely in the jaw, knocking him back. "Chaos Technique #13: Bloodblade." Suddenly, a blade seemingly made of blood sproted from the man's hand. "You will never defeat a member of the 9th division of the Agency!"

"We will see." Deadon said, and nodded. "Now!"

Immediately, five spells and three arrows shot from behind Deadon, all converging upon the masked man. The blasts truck him, and knocked him to the ground. "D..d..damnit..." The man said, coughing up blood. "Who is this Agency?" Deadon asked, pulling the man up by the collar. "I will never tell you." The man replied, and spat in Deadon's face.

"Fine." With one swift movement, Deadon drove his blade into the man's chest, piercing his heart. The man's corpse fell to the ground, and Deadon turned to his companions. "Verinon should hear about this."

The rest of the Order nodded, and they continued back to the Golden Halls, where Blak was talking with Verinon.

"Sir! A member of some sort of Agency tried to get into the castle!" Deadon said, saluting to him sharply.

"Deadon, how many times must I tell you, it is not me in charge, it is the Council. However, the Agency coming here is troubleing... are you sure? Was it truly a member of the Agency?"

"Sir, that is who he claimed to be!" Deadon said.

Verinon sighed, and spoke. "Very well, man the towers, and make sure no more surprises are planned for us.I must go to the Sapphire Empire and see them. It seems they have had some trouble with... well, never mind. I will be gone. Blak will remain here in my stead.

"Yes, sir!" Deadon said, and left the room.

* * *

Two days after Verinon's departure, a single man in black approached the gates of the Golden Halls.

"Halt!" Came the voice of Loro, who had been resurrected the day before.

"I am the representative of the Agency. Let me in." Came the reply.

The gates opened, and the man walked in, but found himself surrounded by soldiers. "What is the meaning of this?"

"One of your men attacked the castle last night... what do you expect? That we would open our arms wide enough for you to stab us in the chest?" Came Cuppy's voice. Behind the man, she leapt down, landing nimbly behind him.

"I am here to inform you that was not the Agency. A small splinter group, naming themselves the New Agency, have broken away. They are now following the orders of the Black Order." The man said. Upon close examination of his face, it could be seen that he was wearing a red mask, to hide his face.

"Hmmm, the Black Order.... we thank you for this information, dir." Deadon said, walking towards the man from the castle.

"Now, if you excuse me, I must go." The man said, and turned. The Order allowed him exit, and he was about to leave when Blakjak yelled out, "STOP!!!"

All eyes turned to Blakjak, who was carrying the corpse of a man, also dressed in black. "This man was dead outside the castle grounds. This man is in impostor!"

"Fools... you would have lived if you has just let me go..." The man laughed, and clapped his hands.

"Now, you will all be punished! Chaos Technique #18: Sleep of the Damned." A mist covered the courtyards, and before the Order could react, they collapsed on the ground, fast asleep.

"Now, you will save my masters the trouble of killing your pathetic leader. Arise, my slaves, and do my bidding! Chaos Technique #44: Corruption of the Devils." The man put out his palms, and a black light came from them, striking each member of the Order. Each of them got up, and bowed.

"Slay your foolish Supreme Master when he returns. That is my will." The man said, turning and leaving the Halls. As he left, the Order members shook their heads, dazed. "What happened?" Blakjak asked, holding his head.

* * *

The day after, Verinon returned to his home. The sun was high in the sky, but his heart was light. The object was safe, he has seen it himself.

As he entered through the North gates, he found the Order assembled and ready for him. "What is going on, my friends?" Verinon asked, looking at each of them. There was something about them that made him nervous... No... it must be something else. Nevertheless, a shiver rocked through his plate covered body.

"Supreme Master, would you train with us? We missed your training." Cuppy said. However, instead of her usual, melodious voice, she sounded hollow and grim.

"I am sorry, I cannot. I must get to the Council Chambers."  Verinon walked past them, heading into the castle, when he heard Cuppy reply.

"Fool. Kill him."

Whirling around, Verinon jsut barely managed to catch the arrow that was about to strike him from behind. Drawing his blade, he parried Blakjak as he charged, his axe drawn.

"Are you all mad?!" Verinon shouted, and sprinted into the castle.

"Kill him for the glory of the Master!" Was the reply.

Verinon sprinted into the Council Chambers, and turned. "Damnit, I haven't used this power since my old days... I hope this works.... Holy Technique #4: Impenetrable Barrier."

Suddenly, a barrier appeared around his pursuers, trapping them in it.

Verinon looked at his friends, and sighed. "Holy Technique #43: Total Purification."

Suddenly, the black light blasted from their bodies, causing the host to drop, unconscious to the floor. The black energy bounce on the walls of the barrier for a moment, and Verinon studied it. "Damn. It is the work of the Agency..."

Verinon placed his hand on the barrier wall, and said, "Holy Technique #76: Divine Annihilation."

The lack light exploded into thousands of tiny shards, and disappeared, leaving the space inside the barrier clean. Verinon dropped the barrier, and picked up his companions, taking them to the resting areas. "This is not good at all..."

As he picked up Cuppy and slung her over his back, he failed to notice the shimmer of something dark flash across her face...

* * *

The day began anew
2010 Chad Loomis.
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