Disclaimer: This is a story of pure fiction. If you are not allowed to read this in whatever part of the world you are living, then try not to get caught, and legally you shouldn't be reading this. If you are not 18 or older then again, do not read. Lastly, this will contain gay sex between consenting people and if this offends you then click back and ask why you're on here in the first place. This story is property of myself, the author, and may not be copied or used on other sites without my express permission. All characters are fictional.

All comments to ME, greatly appreciated

Chapter Twenty

Falcon lay on his solitary bed, feeling sorry for himself. He had created silk sheets, pillow cases, reshaped the room, and made furniture in an attempt to impress Kiri. Candles and flower petals were strewn across the floor, and a chandelier with dancing candlelight hung from the ceiling. He pulled off his cravat, and began yanking off the formal clothes he had made and threw them on the floor.

He gritted his teeth, but the image of Kiri and Sonny, laughing and kissing, kept appearing inside his mind. The focus was sharp and unnaturally clear. He covered his face with a pillow and screamed out his humiliation. He had walked into the shack/healing room, with a bunch of wild flowers in his hand, only to be confronted with Sonny's arms firmly around Kiri. Sonny had looked at him with narrowed eyes, while locking his hands tighter around Kiri.

Falcon had looked at the two of them and flushed a deep scarlet. He had never gotten flowers for anyone and, now that he had, he felt foolish. He just knew that Sonny would laugh at him, and he wouldn't be able to bear it if Kiri joined in. So, without looking at the two, he dropped his flowers and fled into the mounds, back to his room.

Swinging his feet over the side of the bed, he rested his hands on his knees. He took a deep breath and his shoulders slumped on the exhale. His heart felt heavy and there was an unusual ache in his throat. Clearing his throat in hopes it would clear the pain, he listened to how shaky his breathing was. He stared at his hands. They were strong, with veins rimming the knuckles and backs of his hands. But, right now, they felt empty and useless. Closing those hands into fists, he took another deep breath.

He knuckled his eyes. He knew it would take time; he knew Sonny had a stronger hold on Kiri. That was a given. He just had to push a little harder. But why was it so hard when your heart was involved? Why was it easier to stand and fight a thousand men, than face possible rejection from Kiri?

He felt, more than saw, someone enter his room. His instincts went into alert mode as he stared into the golden eyes of Prince Sonny. His humiliation and resentment came to the fore. "If you've come to gloat, get ready for a fight."

Sonny stared at Falcon. "I came here before Kiri decided to. I know how my cousin thinks, and he would already be here if I hadn't stopped him."

Falcon stood up abruptly. "Get out. Telling me how much influence you have over Kiri is gloating. One more word and I promise you..." Battle tension hummed through his body as he watched Sonny's movements.

"Shut up for a second, and I'll tell you why I'm here." There was impatience and annoyance riding in his voice. Sonny's tone was too exasperated not to be genuine.

Falcon looked at him warily. "What do you want?"

Sonny sighed and rubbed the side of his head in frustration. He looked down at the petals on the floor and his shoulders tightened. Then, like a balloon deflating, his shoulders sank. "I've been having strange visions, ones I have kept secret from Kiri. In them, I stand inside a cave. You have been chained and strapped to the side of a rock. For some reason, I know that you being tied there is my doing. Kiri walks into my arms, and I look over to see you slumped in defeat. When I look at Kiri, he looks pale and wan. He stares at me with his large silver eyes and closes them, going limp. I shake him, and he looks up at me tiredly. Closing his eyes for the last time, his hair turns pure white, his skin dries out, and he turns to dust in a matter of seconds."

Falcon stared at Sonny. The Predator Prince seemed lost in thought. "What happened next?"

Sonny didn't seem to hear, so Falcon repeated his question. The Predator Prince turned and looked his way. There was anger and resentment in his eyes. "In my vision, you told me that because you were a part of Kiri's soul, just as I was, I had shattered his soul. Trapping you, and preventing you from using your powers, was the beginning of his death."

Falcon nodded as he recalled his conversation with Kiri earlier. "That kind of makes sense. Kiri told me that we are his anchors, because of the massive amounts of power he holds. He must use it constantly, or use a sufficient amount. Otherwise his power comes out in uncontrollable ways. As his anchors, we are the first vessels in which he is able to deposit that power safely. By somehow stopping me, you also stopped the safe way he deposited his power. I suspect it is one of the reasons Kiri chose two anchors instead of one."

Sonny nodded his head, reluctantly seeing the logic behind Falcon's words. Falcon frowned and rubbed his chest. Looking up at Sonny, he took a deep breath and stared at the Predator Prince. "I too have been having...odd sensations. I don't get the visions, but whenever I think about Kiri, and the upcoming battle with the World Eater, my chest burns. At first, I convinced myself that it was nerves and excitement for the battle. But it is more than that. It is like I felt something awful is going to happen. The sensation still rides me as we speak, but I have it under control. There is something we are missing, and it involves Kiri. My instincts keep telling me that if we don't find out what it is soon, it could be too late."

Sonny leaned against the doorway. "Too late for what?"

Falcon gave Sonny an exasperated sigh. "If I knew that, we wouldn't be too late now, would we?"

Sonny was silent for a moment. "You know, I have a suspicion that Kiri is hiding something from us."

"Was this in your visions too?"

"No, but I know my cousin, and when he hides something, he goes quiet and withdraws from people. He's been covering it by healing Hail, and playing nursemaid. But it's there."

"Perhaps we should confront him about it?"

Sonny laughed softly. "That won't work. He'll just clam up more, and turn stubborn. No, we'll have to take him by surprise, and just keep an eye on him."

Falcon nodded his head in agreement. They stared at each other. "So where is the Avatar now?" he asked.

Falcon could almost swear Sonny was pouting, but he blinked and the frown Sonny normally had upon his face returned. "He said he wanted to read up on something. So he went into the hall of records." Trying to hide his annoyance at Kiri he continued, "But don't get any ideas. Kiri will be in my bed, for tonight at least."

Falcon was ready to retaliate when a blinding burst of insight hit him. Sonny had come here, knowing Kiri would come eventually. The Prince wasn't sure about his hold over the Avatar, and that gave Falcon hope. His heart lifted and he smiled at Sonny. If it were dignified, he would have jumped up and down and hollered like a fool. But he refrained...barely. At the same time, Sonny had come in offering the proverbial truce flag. He had admitted that Falcon was a part of Kiri to which he would have to adjust. Maybe this was his gruff way of saying that he could share? There was only one way to find out.

"For tonight, he's all yours. But tomorrow, all bets are off." Sonny nodded, and Falcon smiled. They had come to an understanding.

Kale sat at a long, ornate table upon a dais. Beside him was Elder Wind. In comparison to Kale, the Elder looked like a pubescent teenager. Yet, his eyes held wisdom beyond his youthful appearance. The new Elder Earth sat on his other side. He was three hundred years old, and looked in his early twenties. Despite his true age, he stared around with unabashed curiosity, and an eagerness to learn about Kale's travels amongst mortals. Elder Flame was also at the table. His face was all sharp angles, which gave him a predatory appearance. His dark blue eyes scanned the room, constantly roaming over the faces of those below. Sometimes he smiled while looking in the direction of a certain seated person; other times his expression turned pensive.

Scattered around the many tables below the Elders, were the four Fey nations. A gathering such as this had not been seen in over five hundred years. It was a momentous occasion, and the Fey smiled and greeted each other with a festive air. Kale looked upon his people and felt proud of their accomplishments. With only a days warning, the amount of work and preparation had been impressive to behold. The entire Rain nation had been involved; making sure everything would be perfect.

Kale hadn't recognised the great hall after the preparations were complete. In fact, he had never used the hall, preferring to have intimate dinners of ten people or so in the much smaller dining room. His father had frequently used this hall, however. Kale hated the formality and, in many ways, his people had come to enjoy the informal way their new Elder worked.

He had helped earlier in the day as he and four of his people had walked around the Heartwood Oak Tree that anchored the dimensional door to the great hall. They had dug their hands into the soil, and Kale had watched as energy rushed through the body of the ancient tree. He had to blink his eyes when the energy began emanating from the tree as a bright golden glow; a guiding beacon for the visiting Fey to the hall.

The hall was triple the size of what it was usually. Nuala, and five others, had been in charge of the water displays, making sure the eco-system was in sync with the natural world outside. There was a cool breeze that wafted through from open double doors that were evenly spaced along the walls. In the middle of the floor stood a pond with two horses, created out of water, frolicking and dancing.

Outside the hall, via the double doors, were cool lit gardens, leading down to a lagoon and the water maze. The water maze was made from large interconnected glass tunnels that went beneath the lagoon. There were two entrances one could go through. The first was for those interested in seeing the fauna and flora beneath the lake; a pleasant stroll. The other was for the more adventurous. This one was designed to confuse. The glass was rippled, preventing a clear view outside into the loch, and distorting the image of any creature that swam past into shadows larger than life. It also stopped the clever from seeing the twists and turns of the maze through the water. There were puzzles and hints when a person got to an intersection, and if a person chose the wrong path, they were teleported back to the main entrance. There were also minor weak spells to overcome the closer one came to the final destination. At the end of the maze was a coral tower. Once one climbed to the top ,! the glass, domed platform gave an unrestricted view of the entire underwater lake, while a water maiden handed out congratulatory gifts.

Watching as the Fey walked in and out of the side doors, into the night, Kale sighed with satisfaction. So far, he had managed to keep a cordial tongue in his head while talking to Elder Flame, and vice versa. There was a small buzz of talking. Mind to mind speech was considered ill mannered when visiting Fey were around. Nuala was splendid in silver, and she smiled demurely as their eyes locked. Beside her was Toby, laughing and happily stuffing his face.

Trays and platters of food floated in the air toward tables, and pitchers of ale, juice and water refilled themselves. The Kitchens were manned by three Fey. Eyes closed and locked in concentration, food and deserts were whipped up, peeled, boiled, baked and sent out on more platters. Knives and utensils were industrially busy as the Fey sat in the middle of the kitchen. It was the only place of calm in a room that was frenetic and busy.

Kale sent a mental communication congratulating them on a job well done. Elder Earth turned towards him. He said, "My people find your maze an impressive work of art."

Kale turned and looked at the Elder. The power of the Earth shone within him like a beacon. He assessed the Fey. He found it strange, but in comparison to Elder Wind, who looked like a child but acted like an adult, this Fey him seemed innocent, and naive. Kale had to constantly remind himself that this Elder was much older in years than he. Yet, he wanted to call him boy. Elder Earth looked around with the eyes of a child. Kiri had never seemed this young, and yet he could be considered an innocent also.

"Thank you, Elder," Kale said.

"I hear that you raised the new Avatar. What is he like?"

Kale smiled. "He's unique, and someone you will have to figure out for yourself."

Kale nearly laughed out loud at the look of chagrin that crossed the Elder's face. He was very expressive. If Kale didn't know better, he would have sworn that it was an act. But there was such sincerity emanating from the boy. It was then that Kale's heart rate sped up. Elder Earth smiled once more and Kale's concern floated away. This was not a boy; he was an Elder, even though Kale couldn't help but feel the earnestness, and apparent youth. His mind began whispering to him about how wrong this should be.

"Stop it."

Elder Earth looked at him, puzzled. "I'm not sure what you mean, Elder?"

"You can cut the crap. Using mind games against another Elder, in such an open display of power, is not only an insult to my hospitality, but to the purpose of our gathering."

A very real and adult smile curved Elder Earths lips. "Elder Flame informed me about how you aren't truly a Fey. The rules of hospitality do not apply to you."

Kale felt his legs lock into place beneath the table, as Elder Earth's power wrapped around him. He looked out at his people, and fear rushed through him as he saw them jerk in their seats and then sit still. His eyes turned towards Nuala, and saw her sitting rigid in her chair, face pale. Her eyes looked towards him, and he saw the anger and fear in those depths. She was as trapped in this power struggle as much as he was. Kale looked around at his guards and saw them locked into place. Their faces were glazed. Anger burst full blown within him, and his subtle attempts to work his way out of the bind, became an outright struggle.

Kale turned his head toward Elder Wind, and noted the detached way he was observing the power struggle between himself and Elder Earth. There was no help coming from that direction. "Why?" Kale asked Elder Wind. His lips were numb and he felt paralysis spreading up his arms. The room had turned deathly quiet. The gathered fey from the visiting nations looked towards the sitting Elders with avid interest. Kale looked around at the frozen faces of his people, and anger and impotent rage seethed beneath his skin.

"I can not allow your connection with the Avatar to influence our proceedings. You have to be eliminated in order for our people to survive the coming battle," Elder Wind replied.

Kale pushed his power against Elder Earth's paralysis. Healing was a talent that was in the field of water. He channelled his power into his body, fighting off the attack. Elder Flame's gloating face came into Kale's peripheral vision, and he felt the power of flame combine with Elder Earth's power, to push against him. One on one, Kale felt he could have taken Elder Earth. Two against one, and Kale began to sweat.

It was a loosing battle, and Kale knew it, but he had to try. It was humiliating to realise he had let himself be taken over so easily, but he was going to make these Fey work for their victory. Closing his eyes, he delved deep. He called on the water of the lagoon and collapsed the glass tunnels. Waves could be heard crashing outside the double doors and those fey, who had been controlling his people outside, screamed as the lagoon rose and rushed towards his call. Kale smiled. His people had a talent for breathing under water; it was unique to those from the water nation. He wasn't sure he could say the same for the visiting nations; especially going by the cut off screams.

Water rushed towards the double doors. But the Fey were ready. They wove spells over the doors and windows preventing the water from entering. The hall shuddered under the impact of water. Kale mentally called to the beasts of the water, and some of the Fey gasped in fear as large tentacles or enormous fins could be seen trailing past the windows. Loud thumping noises could be heard through the walls as the sea animals attempted to break through.

Elder Flame snarled and punched him. He could taste blood inside his mouth, and Kale's smile widened. Blood was a form of water too. He looked at Elder Flame and called for blood. He demanded that it burst forth. And the blood seethed and writhed beneath Elder Flame's skin. The Elder dropped to the floor screaming, as his blood pulsed inside his veins. Tears of blood seeped from his eyes, and ears, moving towards Kale.

Elder Wind joined the fray, and Kale very near blacked out against the immense, combined power being used against him. This wasn't over. With his last ounce of magical strength, he began closing the portal from the great hall to the outside world. He heard Elder Wind scream to block him. But it was far too late. The white haze at the Hall Entrance disappeared, leaving a blank wall in its place.

Kale's paralysis was finally complete and he sat at the table as still as the rest of his people; his power also as frozen as his body. But Kale had his satisfaction. The gathered Fey were trapped here. It was Kale's power that anchored the great hall. No one was going anywhere. If they killed him, they would be trapped permanently.

"Bring the boy here!" Elder Flame shouted. He got up off his feet and wiped the blood from his face. A Fire Nation Fey dragged an unresisting and paralysed Toby toward the dais. Elder Flame pulled Toby's head up by the hair and shook him like a rag doll in front of Kale. "This boy is going to be the first to die. For every minute that you fail to reopen the doors, I will drag one of your people in front of you and cut off his head. But, this boy goes first, regardless." Turning towards Elder Earth, he barked. "Loosen up Kalemendari's face so he can speak."

Kale felt the paralysis leave his face, and his eyes bore holes into Elder Flame. "Why are you doing this? Killing me, or threatening that boy in front of you, will not endear the Avatar to you. In fact, it will enrage him."

"That's the whole point." Cassen said. "We want him to come rushing here. You're not going to budge, and we came prepared for that possibility. After all, Elder Wind foresaw this as a possible future outcome." Turning, he nodded towards Elder Earth. "Paralyse his face again." With that, Kale was frozen in place, and he felt the pressure of the three Elder's minds bearing down upon him. "If we can't convince you to open the Hall, we'll just have to wrest your mind away and open it ourselves," Cassen crooned.

Kale screamed internally as his mental walls were shredded. The pain was fierce, and it lanced into his psyche. The Elders converged upon the entry point to his mind and, with one quick slash, Kale's identity was shredded. His memories of Kiri were dissected and disseminated. Some he held as sentimental moments were being discarded like old garbage. Piece by piece, the real Kale began to die. The essence that made him who and what he was crumbled and he was no more.

He became as blank as a smooth sheet of paper. With a satisfied sigh, the Elders began to remould him for their own purposes. Changing the memories he held within him, Kale was reborn. And he looked upon the world with unnaturally cold eyes.

Cassen smiled. "Welcome back Kalemendari." He observed Kale, tilting his head one way and then the next; examining him from all angles. "I have a surprise for you. I want my first command to you, to be memorable." Dragging Toby by the hair, he effortlessly pulled the boy onto the table just by his hair. "Kill him slowly!" he hissed.

With unseeing eyes, Kale looked down at Toby, and pointed his finger. A shard of ice shot directly at his throat. It pierced the skin and Toby began choking. Kale pointed his finger towards Toby's chest, and another ice shard lunged directly into his heart. Broken from his paralysis, the boy blinked eyes that filled with awareness. He looked at Kale and there was pleading and fear in those depths as he grabbed his neck trying to will it to breathe. Kale pointed two fingers at those blue orbs and watched dispassionately as the boy screamed his pain, still choking from lack of air, before he slumped unconscious. Blood pooled around the boy, and Kale smiled his pleasure. After all, the child was a nuisance to begin with...

Kiri thrashed around in the bed screaming and crying. Sonny jumped out of bed, searching the room for the intrusion. Kiri sobbed and covered his face. "He's gone," Kiri whispered. "They killed Toby. I wasn't there to protect him."

Sonny came around to the side of the bed. He crawled over, and pulled Kiri into his arms. "Tell me what you saw."

Kiri huddled in on himself. He wept bitterly as he felt Toby's soul return to the earth. Upon the tears, came rage. It wasn't the hot burning kind; this was icy. He mentally envisaged how the Elders would pay, and he promised himself it would be slow and painful. Just like Toby's. Little by little, Kiri told Sonny what he saw in his vision. At the end he felt more sure of what he wanted to do, and vengeance settled in the pit of his stomach.

Sonny felt the temperature drop, and watched as Kiri's hair straightened and clumped together, making thick ropy strands. The silky texture hardened until he could see red, white and gold scales form. Soon the tips turned into hissing snakes. Sonny lowered his head as Kiri's silver eyes filled with depthless black. He felt those piercing black eyes search his soul.

"Tell me what you're going to do?" Sonny asked.

Kiri climbed out of the bed, his white skin glowing in the dark room. The light green tracery of scales could be seen clearly as they shimmered over his pale flesh. "Repay the Elders. They want the Avatar. They will get him."

"I'm coming too." Sonny said.

Kiri turned around. His eyes were black and hard as stone, and Sonny forced himself to keep eye contact. "The predators from Trobal forest will be here soon. I expect you to stay and greet them. Illiana, the Tigress, will need your help. She carries your child." Sonny recoiled and his stomach churned at the news. A gamut of emotions rushed through him. Kiri nodded his head in grim satisfaction. "Stay here. The Elders are my problem to sort out."

Sonny wanted to argue, but he was still trying to absorb the information. He watched as ice crawled up the walls before Kiri disappeared. The temperature began to rise once more and Sonny took a deep, shaky breath. He knew Kiri had his reasons, but that didn't mean he would let Kiri go in there by himself. Gritting his teeth, he went in search of Falcon. It was moments like this when Sonny grudgingly admitted that Kiri may have done them a favour when he created two anchors. After all, with Falcon in tow, Kiri would still have back up.

Kiri floated above the ground of Trevailier forest. Fey guards from the Wind nation stood outside the Oak Heartwood Tree that led into the Hall. He appeared among them suddenly and they looked at him with surprise, and then fear, as the Avatar painted the surrounding trees with their blood. The Hall was already re-opened, and Kiri sensed the energy of the four elders beyond the portal. He was about to enter when some instinct warned him not to take another step. Pausing, he looked around and scanned the portal. It was as he was surveying the left lower corner of the doorway that he saw it.

It was a device that the Ciaran used. It was a bio-organic device that could freeze a person as soon as they passed it. It looked like an ordinary fly, but no insect sat at the corner of a portal. The vibrational energy of the doorways acted as an insect repellent. That meant...Kiri scanned through the portal, confirming his suspicions.

There were over two-dozen "holes"; empty spots that he wouldn't usually have noticed. Each person or molecule had an architectural imprint, but Ciaran did not register; they were not born of this world and therefore Kiri's power generally did not recognise them.
Therefore, these empty spots were beacons for Kiri, now that he knew what to look for. It was for this very reason that Kiri may be susceptible to many of the Ciaran technologies. He had to keep an eye open at all times. It was how Avatar Killara had been destroyed. Kiri also suspected it was one of the reasons she made a Ciaran her anchor. Incorporating them into the Architect insured they were easily assimilated. Of course, when she died and didn't return to the earth, that information was locked within her body and lost. Now that she had returned to the source, it would take earth a little while to assimilate the design of the Ciaran. Until then, Kiri would be running blind.

Pointing his finger, he destroyed the Ciaran fly trap and entered the portal. He dodged and blurred as he felt something shoot by, close to his face. More shots rang out, and Kiri dodged them also. It was with the last volley that he saw an electrical barrier-shaped net, spread out in an attempt to trap him. He pushed the dual power of Feminine and Masculine into a sharp white beam of light, and watched as it sliced through the net like butter. Getting tired of these little games, he locked on to all the `empty' spaces he could sense and commanded the floor beneath him to suck them into the ground. The Marble floors turned soft like quicksand.

With shouts of dismay, the invisible shields the Ciaran were using broke as the ground swallowed their bodies. Their cries were music to Kiri's ears, and he smiled as he drank in their fear. He watched with glee as the liquid tiles covered their heads, cutting off their cries. The ground solidified once more. With a satisfied nod, he walked toward the dais where the four Elders still sat.

Kiri took note of how many fey were still frozen as he walked past, and his heart clenched when he got to the table where Nuala sat near the empty place Toby had been. Tears glittered like diamonds upon her frozen cheeks. Rooted to the spot as she was, Kiri noted the anger and pain in those unblinking blue eyes. He found it interesting to note that there were no Fey from the three nations left at the tables. Kiri had an inkling the Elders knew this was about to start. He ripped the paralysis away from the frozen fey and sensed, more than saw, them slump in their chairs. His eyes never left the dais as he stormed towards the table. Sitting beside the four Elders were two new additions. One was male, the other female. They both had blue ridges over their noses, which tapered off under their cheekbones in a flowing tribal design. On their left temples, another blue design traced around the eye socket before flowing towards their ears. Long blue hair trailed down the woman's b a! ck, while the man had shaved the sides of his head, with one blue strip in the middle. It ran all the way from the top of his head down his back. Both had green eyes with flecks of blue and gold. They were beautiful eyes, but Kiri was more interested in watching the life leech out of them. Lying on the table, like the sacrifice he was, were Toby's remains.

The icy calm that had surrounded Kiri's heart began to thaw at seeing the destruction they had caused. Toby's chest had been sliced open and his heart, lungs and liver were missing. His eyes were gone, and his head lay a few inches away from his severed neck. Kiri opened himself fully to both Power Sources and strength crashed into him. Both Powers agreed this was an abomination that had to be stopped. To believe that the Fey, the First Born, could stoop to such measures was unpardonable.

Roiling black clouds gathered at the ceiling. Tempest rains and thunder lashed the Hall. Gale winds howled around the room and tables were upturned. The awakening fey huddled against each other, crawling under tables that had managed to remain upright. Sleet lashed out with ferocious force. Through it all, a bubble surrounded the Fey and their allies, keeping them protected against Kiri's rage.

The Avatar looked at the protective bubble and snarled. The sound pushed up against the Elder's shield and the bubble began to implode. With a quick jerk of his head, Kiri ripped the protective barrier away. The Elders grunted under the pressure.

"Now!" shouted Elder Wind.

Kiri watched as the two Ciaran pointed something at him. Two projectiles shot towards him. They looked like crystals and Kiri was well aware of what these projectiles were. Killara had been very thorough in explaining many of the mechanical gadgets belonging to the Ciaran. Kiri was lucky; these weapons were made with local products. It meant he could sense the ammunition before it reached him. Killara had spoken about the devices that had been made from alien products and how vulnerable she had been. It stood to reason that the old devices had an expiration date, or the materials needed to make the weapons deteriorated quickly. That was why local materials had to be used.

Kiri dodged the bullets and twisted his hand. The weapons in the Ciaran hands melted. He heard them scream as the liquid metal sizzled into their skin. He opened the ground and heard the Ciaran leaders scream in fright as their bodies sank, leaving only their heads above ground. He smiled and looked at the fear that crawled across Elder Earth's face. Kiri hissed once more and attacked the Elder's mind. Walls of solid metal rose up around Elder Earth's mind, but Kiri smashed into them. There were screams that ricocheted as the other Elders attempted to buffer against Kiri's attack on Elder Earth.

Kiri smiled in triumph, and pulled the other three minds in with Elder Earth. They struggled against his hold, but Kiri was a God. The two Powers wove their binding, and held the minds of the Elders like a fly on a spider web. The Avatar looked at the essence and mind of Kale and mourned for his old mentor. It was no longer recognisable. It would take long sessions to find Kale's old spark and Kiri lashed out at the unfairness of it all. The Elders, Kale included, felt the slash of pain across their minds.

The Avatar opened a portal and pulled them deep into the abyss that was the domain of Masculine. It was the Architect's version of hell. There were times that souls that returned to the earth needed a purification process; this was where the Elders were being taken.

Kiri felt guilty for pulling Kale along with the other three, but the Masculine within him, ruthlessly shoved sentimentality aside. Kiri couldn't afford distractions, and emotions of any kind were detrimental to his mission. As powerful as Kiri was, the damage to Kale's soul was irreversible. He would have to be given a clean slate, coming back as pure as the other three. Understanding this necessity, Kiri felt his emotions sink beneath blocks of ice.

Kiri landed on a dry, rocky land. Above, purple streaks of lightning lashed down upon the barren ground. The dark purple bolts kissed the land like streamers from the sky, illuminating the darkness with interspersed flashes of light. They were on the outskirts of a deep, murky pond. It looked like tar, but moved with the fluidity of water. If one stared too long, he could see the faint outline of sightless eyes staring back from pale blue faces.

The Elders were unceremoniously dumped in a heap at Kiri's feet. Elder flame leapt up and attempted to attack. He was horrified to realise his powers did not work. Kiri smacked him down, watching as pain racked his body. He froze all the Elders feet in place. Kale snarled and remained watchful; promising retribution. Elder Earth remained quiet, and Kiri could sense stark terror leaping off him in waves. The Masculine within inhaled deeply, savouring the texture and flavour of the emotion. Yet, it was Elder Wind that intrigued the Masculine. Elder Wind looked around at the landscape with bored eyes, as if he had been here before. The Masculine did not like this, and Kiri felt his eyes narrowing in suspicion and anger. He lashed out and dug deep into Elder Wind's mind.

Memories, so many memories bombarded Kiri. It was as he was plunging further into the Elder's mind that Kiri gasped in surprise. This was his grandfather?!?! The Masculine grabbed the emotion and buried it under ice. Kiri was able to get past the surprise, store the information, and continue his search. He dug deeper, trying to understand why Elder Wind had betrayed and tortured Toby. Like a flower opening, Elder Wind's mind unfurled, and answers came. There were so many secrets Elder Wind had kept to himself. Kiri sorted through them all, but he wanted to know the answer as to why he killed Toby. The rest could be analysed later. That's when the answer appeared in his mind.

Kiri almost snarled. "How could you be so selfish?!" he shouted at Elder Wind. "You killed and hurt someone dear to me, because of that?"

Elder Wind lay on the ground. The mind scan was not gentle and his face was haggard with pain. "I am tired, Grandson. Only you can release me from this shell."

Kiri dimly heard the gasps of shock and surprise from the three other Elders. He looked at them and turned their lower bodies to stone. He felt mild satisfaction in doing it. They had helped destroy a young boy, and they would be punished accordingly. They screamed their fear, and Kiri twisted his hand. Blessed silence ensued as Kiri stole their vocal cords. Turning to face Elder Wind once more, he continued. "You drew this entire scheme up because you're tired?!!? You pulled the Fey structure apart by turning them against each other, allowed the killing of an innocent child, and wanted me to kill you? All so you could leave your people leaderless before the World Eater comes? And you say it's because you're tired?" He shoved his face up close to Elder Wind. "That's not good enough!"

Kiri punched the Elder in the face, and watched as he lifted off the ground from the impact, and landed a few feet away. The Elder's hand splashed into the pond, and he screamed as it came away with flesh falling off. A pale blue hand shot out of the water, reaching for the Elder. He quickly back pedalled, still clutching his hand to his chest.

"What's the matter, Elder?" Kiri taunted. "I thought you wanted to die? I'm sure the feeders would enjoy the feast."

Elder Wind shook his head jerkily. "I do not want to become a feeder; I would be a soul eater for all eternity."

Kiri's smile got wider. "Exactly." With an outstretched hand, he lifted the Elder off the ground and floated him over the pond. "The feeders have their purpose in my domain. They help cleanse a soul by eating its sins. But when I bring living flesh down instead, well, that's a special treat." Elder Wind shivered. "It seems you are very familiar with the denizens of my realm. My aunt, the First Avatar, must have trusted you a great deal, to give you so much information." Kiri walked towards the pond and stepped onto the water. He glided across the surface like it was solid. Blue hands came out and caressed his ankles.

Tormented moans rose from the pond, and Elder Wind tried to cover his ears at the sound. It permeated into his mind, coaxing old fears and terrors out into the open. Kiri inhaled, drawing the fear into him. It was like an aphrodisiac.

"Don't do this, grandson."

"Silence! If you believe that family ties will keep me from tormenting you in the best possible ways I know how, you are seriously mistaken. If I can kill my father, a man I grew up with, then what makes you think I won't hurt you in some way?"

"Please, I'm begging."

"Save it. You destroyed a man I considered my father in all things except blood. You killed off what made Kale, him. Now, he is only a puppet for your own selfish designs. You did the same to a child, Toby, by allowing one of your other puppets, Elder Flame to destroy him. I will show you no mercy grandfather. I grant you eternal life."

With that, the Elder screamed as he dropped into the dark pond. Froth bubbled as the feeders went into an eating frenzy. It would take decades before Elder Wind, now becoming a feeder, to acquire the blue skin and white eyes. After all, his skin and flesh would first be ripped off his bones. For two centuries he would be only a living skeleton. Kiri felt justified and sighed contentedly. He looked down into the desperate eyes of Elder Wind, just below the surface of the dark waters. One feeder had wrapped its octopus legs around his body, while it used its teeth to nibble on his neck. Others had begun the flesh stripping process from arms and legs. The touch of their blue scales was enough to slice through steel, so it was very easy work on flesh.

Turning away, Kiri moved back onto shore. Unfreezing the fey, he rubbed his hands together with glee. The terror on their faces was too much. Kiri laughed. He sensed their fears deepen and he doubled over, laughing harder. Once his laughter had died down enough for him to stand up, he walked more sedately towards them.

"Too many things have been altered within your psyche and your souls for things to return to what they once were. Elder Wind's power was far too invasive. However, you have been released from his command. That I have granted." His face turned menacing and his eyes hardened before he continued. "Know this; I will be keeping a close scrutiny on the three of you. Much is needed to rebuild trust."

"What about the Wind nation? They no longer have an Elder." Kale said.

Kiri looked at his old mentor and sorrow filled him. He couldn't afford to look at Kale in the same light as before. It was hard, but with the Masculine helping to buffer his emotions, it could be done. Straightening his shoulders, he eyed Kale. "I will be choosing the next Elder Wind. I know that there is still friction between the three of you, especially since Elders Flame and Earth came and attacked your people. But, within the next five days, you will have to trust each other enough to fight for our planet. The World Eater approaches."

"But," Elder Earth said tremulously, "Elder Wind said you would be able to stop it,"

"I am devising a way to destroy the World Eater, yes, but its minions are vast. I need five days to prepare, and I can't do that if I am constantly attacking the minions. You must help the Predator and Prey nations in protecting our natural resources. Should the enemy be able to replicate more machines on our planet, it will decimate the entire continent. We can't let that happen. I want the fey to target any machines they find and immobilise them. One last thing. How are the Ciaran involved with the Fey?" Silence met that question.

It was Elder Earth who answered. Kiri took note of this. He glanced quickly at Elder Flame, and saw a grimace appear on his as he glared at Elder Earth talking. Interesting...

"The Ciaran had a pact with Elder Wind," Elder Earth said. "They were going to take control of both the Predator and Prey nations. Because the two nations have a way of re-energizing the land, they wanted to use that talent to exploit the minerals and materials and still keep it regenerating in some way."

Kiri tapped his chin thoughtfully. "I think its time I paid the Ciaran a little visit. After all, it was their beacon signal, all those centuries ago, that called the World Eater to this planet. It's about time they decided to join this war. Should they refuse...well lets hope they don't."

Opening another portal, Kiri pulled the three Elders along with him. It closed behind them with a sound of displaced air. From the dark pond, a scream could be heard shivering across the surface as tiny ripples. A bubble of water popped up, and then, silence.

By the way guys, I have a yahoo group where you can see all my writings. I'm a new author and haven't sent all my stories on there yet, and I also have another talented author Lincard sharing his stories too. I will be sending my chapters there first. So become a Member and enjoy. Otherwise feel free to Contact me.

Thanks as always goes to Richard for his fine work in editing!