Warning: This work has been rated 16+.
The harbour at Kundo was even as busy as the one they left behind in Libson. In the brawling chaos, Mike quickly took notice of a vessel heading to Luthor, the continent where Silver Village was waiting. He grabbed Zen roughly. “Take care!” he shouted to her so she could hear above the noise. The place had the raw scent of chaos. There were fights and shouts over who would get in which ship. There seemed to be no order in the harbour. “Take this!” Mike said, and shoved on Zen his bag of money, leaving for himself only his fare to reach Luthor. “I won’t need so much,” he said, “Now find this Cyrus guy as quick as you can, I’m heading out!”
“Good bye, Mike!” Zen bade him, crying a little. Mike laughed.
“We’ll meet again!”
And with that, Mike disappeared into the chaotic horde, quickly pushing himself onto his next ship, which left the port even before Zen could figure out which direction to walk.
Lex lay on the top bunk of the pitch-black room, having a good meal with Lash, who amused Lex as she tried vainly to eat normally in the thick darkness. As Lex spent more and more time with the Zagans, being shrouded by darkness felt increasingly natural, and any form of light would bother him to the point of frustration. He could now see perfectly in the darkness, and the slightest light would now make his vision at least a little hazy. For a good while, the two chatted and ate and laughed, and for the moment, Lex didn’t feel the heavy imminence of the war that was to come. He didn’t stress so much about missing Clover or Zen or Kyle. “We should reach Dreed in a few weeks,” Lash said. “The last announcement said that we were fifty miles from the Black Sea Archipelago. Ships to Iceland, I hear, are very scarce, so we might have to stay at Dreed a while.”
“Well, a little break from travelling won’t kill us, will it?”
Lash giggled, surprised that Lex sounded so carefree.
“Hmm. This girl annoys me,” Kizer said, looking down at Lex and Lash through one of the crystal balls. “She is swaying the boy’s mind from his training, but she will be of good use now. Oga.”
“I assume you want me to go and kill her?” he asked, still paying full mind to the scrolls he was reading through.
“Not personally of course. Do not harm the boy – not too much at least, but have the girl slaughtered badly before his eyes. This will harden him and hasten his becoming of a powerful opponent.”
“Also, I want you to have him shifted directly to Iceland. Enough time has been spent idly.”
“Since killing the boy is not the mission, the same woman I used before should suffice,” Oga said.
“Whatever, just get it done quickly.” Oga hissed and disappeared.
“Where are we going?” Kyle asked impatiently. Lyoko had carried him quite a few miles from the cabin.
“Nowhere but here,” the man said as they finished a little hill. Kyle looked down at an out-of-place scene. He had followed Lyoko through high bush and scratching thorns only to now look down the steep hill at a beautiful green cave. A steady river ran out through the mouth of the grotto. Kyle rushed down to the river quickly and quickly began gulping down as much as the crystal-cool water as he could. He washed his face and sighed with relief. The sun’s fierceness suddenly didn’t bother him anymore. Lyoko slowly made his way down at sat at the riverside, putting his feet in the shallow water.
“There is a strange feeling about this place,” Kyle said, looking around. The place looked well-kept, so that he assumed that Lyoko tended to this place even more than his cabin. The grass on the other side of the river looked well groomed and stretched for acres before woodlands bordered again. Inside the cave though was quite dim, like sunlight was afraid of it.
“Who do you think is the strongest swordsman who ever lived?” Lyoko asked.
“Heh. Either Blade or Zakashi!” Kyle answered quickly. Lyoko laughed.
“Blade is getting even much stronger as we sit here, as he is now training in the Cave of Zakashi.”
“Yeah, he did mention something like that,” Kyle recalled, but Lyoko saw clearly how sceptical Kyle was of the possibility of a cave making a man stronger.
“There are men of old who cannot truly die,” Lyoko said. Kyle rolled his eyes, already scoffing at whatever nonsense Lyoko was coming with. “There were those whose bond with nature was so strong that death could not truly entrap them,” the elder continued. “Zakashi’s spirit, to this day, lurks in the place where he used to meditate daily. Do understand, there is no true distinction between man and nature. Those men who truly understood this blended their existence with nature itself, and have essentially attained immortality.”
“Did you carry me all the way out here to babble this nonsense?!” Kyle hissed, already quite annoyed.
“It will do you well to heed all my words, young one, for I am wise,” Lyoko said proudly. Kyle sighed. “As Blade now trains and meditates in the place where Zakashi’s spirit dwells, he will slowly absorb Zakashi’s strength, Zakashi’s knowledge, and if he continued long enough, Zakashi’s will.” Kyle hissed at hearing this. “Young Kyle, let me share with you a strength and truth unknown even to Blade.” Kyle looked up at him interestedly now. “Have you ever considered who Zakashi’s master was?” Lyoko saw on his face how intrigued he was by this thought. “Now first, let me tell you a little about Zakashi, the one hailed as the Sword Sage. As you well know, he was a son of Kizer. Unlike his bothers, nature did not obey his commands, and his father threatened to kill him, considering him a failure.”
Kyle listened keenly, having never heard of this dimension to the old tale. “Zakashi, as a young boy, pled for his life, and promised his father that he would journey out and find his strength and return as an equal to his brothers. Kizer let him leave, probably certain that he was a worthless boy. Still, Kizer must have hoped for the boy to return a strong fighter, as he was gathering power to topple Oga’s empire.
“Zakashi journeyed out to a foreign land that appeared uninhabited. There were no buildings, only a small paradise, a meadow with a small cave and a river that streamed through it. The boy didn’t see this place on his map, and considered himself lost. Tired from his journeying in search of some inspiration or divine intervention, he slept in the cave for a few days. When he awoke, he thought he was in a dream. He crawled to the exit of the cave and watched something he thought only one of his elder brothers or one of the Ogal Empire could dream of doing. He was utterly intrigued.” Kyle looked as intrigued as Zakashi was.
“There was an elderly man outside, ‘fighting the air’. This man was practicing techniques he had created. Zakashi described the old man as running on air and water, breaking boulders with the touch of his fingers, and waving about a strange metal object with sharp edges.”
“You mean a sword?” Kyle asked with knitted brows.
“That word was not yet even created. This old man, whose name was Loki, was the inventor of the sword, the first swordsman to live, the single master of Zakashi--”
“The progenitor…” Kyle said on remembering Lyoko’s earlier words.
“Yes. This man, Loki the Beginning, is the strongest swordsman ever to live, and the true Sword Sage.”
“Then why has Zakashi been getting all the glory?!”
“You see, truth and history hardly coincide,” Lyoko said, then continued the story. “Loki took Zakashi under his wing, not even knowing that he was a son of a man who would later be called a god. There, he shared with Zakashi all the arts, techniques and truths that he had spent nine hundred years unlocking. As Zakashi was of Kizer’s bloodline, his body was strong enough to accomplish much more than Loki had anticipated. After years of training with Loki, Zakashi felt he had learn all there is, and his talents and bloodline would have him become far stronger on his own. Zakashi killed Loki in his sleep and journeyed back to his father.After he sparred evenly with his brothers who could control natural elements using the techniques he had learnt and Loki’s sword, he was welcomed by Kizer and accepted by his brothers. It wasn’t very long after that Zakashi’s prowess was displayed in the War of Gods. Zakashi has served as an idol and inspiration to swordsmen since that time, as he stood amongst the children of gods.”
“How the hell could you know all this? Zakashi sure as hell wouldn’t write this down, and Loki died in his sleep.”
“I have been meditating and training in the Cave of Beginning for many years. Loki’s knowledge and strength have to a small degree been infused into me.” Kyle looked at the old man with frightened eyes, trying now to gage this man’s level of strength based on the fact that technically he and Zakashi could be considered classmates. He gasped and stood and fell back. Lyoko laughed, realizing that the boy saw that where he was is the same place that Loki’s spirit dwelled.
Hilda shivered out of her sleep as a stifling presence filled her room and woke the air. “My lord…” she said stutteringly.
“You have served me poorly, weak witch,” she heard a voice in the night breeze. “I was wrong to believe that you could stand against the man named Viknor.”
“N—no, please, my god, another chance.”
“Indeed I am a merciful god,” Oga said, and appeared before her as a body of white mana vaguely forming his figure. “So I have provided you another chance to please me and prove your worth.”
“Anything, my lord.”