This story started out as a daydream I had about Two Kinds. In my version of events, group A and B meet up and join forces. Eventually they stumble on some ex-Templar who have been planning to end the Templar's rein of chaos. The problem is that these Templar have driven themselves mad with black magic and, therefore, can't be reasoned with, well mostly. I have been running this idea through my head for days, but I'm not quite sure how I want it to go. In my opinion, this is where I think Two Kinds is generally going to head towards. Somewhere along the line, Trace is going to want to end the Templar rein and maybe take over as Grand Templar again, this time, as a benevolent ruler. Or at least find someone worthy to fill the seat. In my scenario, it takes meeting this good-hearted, but horribly misguided Templar to finally push him in that direction. This part I have written is half way in the story not long after one of the Templar regains his sanity. I finished this part all in one night. Sorry that it isn't proofread, but it's very late now and I have to get up early. Tell me honestly what you think. How I can improve, how do you like this interpretation, and what is good about.
Chapter: In Media Res
The shield around the two combatants is very strong. No one can get through. Jenna can only helplessly pound on it as Isaac attacks Trace.
"Please," yells Trace, "you're my friend, I don't want to fight you."
Isaac ignores the plea and presses the attack. Using magic he sprints unnaturally fast and swings his sword at Trace's neck. Trace barely gets his sword up in time to parry it. He kicks out and slams Isaac back.
"We don't have to do this! I don't want to fight you."
This time Isaac responds, "shut up, you're weak. You're no use to me like this. I need you to be in control to defeat the Templar."
Trace seizes on this lull in the fight to try to talk Isaac out of this. "I will defeat the Templar. I took control of my powers. Please, I can help, you." Isaac has just been restored his sanity. He is more lucid than Trace has ever seen him. Yet the look in his eyes is one of a corned beast. Despite evidence to the contrary, Trace wonders if the man had fallen under the control of evil forces once again.
"You were stronger than THIS. I saw your power back when you took control of the Templar." Trace is keeping his guard up. In an attempt to find a weakness in his defenses, Isaac is circling around him. Trace keeps his eyes on him. "I wasn't even a Lieutenant and yet here I am giving a run for your money. How do you hope to beat the Templar when you can't beat me?! I will FORCE you to use your full power and break your mental blocks!"
Isaac again presses the attack. Trace raises his shield back up, stopping the incoming fireball and resists being blown back by a pressure wave thatIsaac launches. Isaac again uses his magical speed to close the distance but he circles behind Trace and swings towards his knees. Trace tries to block it, but he isn't completely successful. Only his shin guard prevents him from getting a nasty gash on his calf. If Isaac isn't strong to be a Lieutenant before, he certainly is now. Years of dark magic abuse and experimentation has taught him some valuable lessons. Lessons he applies well with his now clear mind.
Jenna is getting desperate. She starts to launch more and more powerful magical attacks against the shield. Red is bashing the shield. Keith and his retinue are attacking it with everything they got. Natalie and his brother launch bolt after bolt into the shield as well as the few offenses spells they know. Isaac spares them a glance. He knows the shield will hold for quite a while so he doesn't worry. He made his shield strong using some of the best runes and seals in the world.
"STOP, why are you doing this," screams Jenna.
This actually gets a response out of Isaac. "He has to be stronger than this! He has to stop the madness he started. I can't do it! I failed! I got everyone killed!"
Jenna understands what he means. Since Trace took over as Grand Templar, the two of them went through hell together. John and Brittany had tried to join Trace out of fear and admiration respectively. Isaac was forced to kill both of them. The rest of them fled into the wilderness where they constructed a hideout. They trained hard to become strong enough to beat the Templar and restore the Order's honor. However, within a month, Jodie killed himself in despair. Isaac, Williams, and Michael redoubled their efforts and became increasingly obsessed with gaining power.
About half a year in, Isaac led the two of them down a darker path: experimenting with black magic. They didn't care. Everyone was getting desperate. Jenna tried to talk them out of it. They had been making real progress in traditional magic and fighting styles, but they wouldn't hear it. Isaac was strong-willed enough to hold on to a piece of himself, but Jenna's liberal use of mind and empathic spells kept him from completely losing it. Williams and Michael weren't so lucky.
When Trace and his group wandered near their hideout, Isaac led them into a trap. Trace and Jenna, who had a lengthy conversation with the ex-Grand Templar, convinced the half-insane Isaac that he had turned over a new leaf.
Williams and Michael, however, were too far gone. Michael was beat into submission by a reluctant Trace. Williams, in desperation, summoned too much black magic and started to be consumed by it. He had to excise an arm and leg to prevent being taken over by the darkness. He subsequently bled to death during the fight. Michael, completely insane now, cackled at his friend's demise. He tried to blow himself and everything within 100 meters up with a suicide attack. Isaac had been forced to put him down to save their lives.
"I have to know that I did something worth while. That I didn't let it all go to waste!" cries Isaac. He lunges at Trace again. They exchange a flurry of blows. Isaac gashes up Trace's arm. Trace raises his shield again. Isaac starts preparing a spell to break it, but suddenly Trace expands the shield. The invisible bubble rams into Isaac, sending him flying. Isaac is knocked prone. Trace, realizing that he has to fight back, swings his sword down on Isaac hoping to pin him down. Isaac deflects the weapon and kicks out, but Trace dodges it and swings again. This time Isaac rolls and way and starts scrambling back.
"It's not your fault," Jenna screams, "You couldn't have known what would happen. You're intentions were noble!" Isaac retreats to safety, this time Trace lets him, hoping that Jenna can't talk him out of this madness.
"It was my fault! I was in charge. I couldn't control John or Brittany. I couldn't save Jodie. I led Williams and Michael to their deaths. I couldn't protect any of them! I don't deserve to lead the Templar! I'm a disgrace!"
"You can't think like that," yells Keith. Isaac is taken aback by this sudden interjection. "I know how you feel. I understand you. You blame yourself for everything. That you are somehow responsible. I've been there. Several people died because I couldn't protect them, but you can't despair. You have to push on. This fight is pointless. Trace will regain his powers in time and he will need you in the fight. Put down your weapon."
Isaac looks like he is about to do so, but then he rallies. "No! He needs that strength NOW! I will make him remember it even if I die trying. If he won't, then I'll kill him! He's responsible for how this world has gone to hell."
"But he can't even remember doing anything!" yells Raine. "You can't blame him for things he can't doesn't remember doing. Besides, he's a changed man."
"It doesn't matter! Amnesia or not, Trace's base personality led him to evil. His desire to protect and revive his wife drove him mad, just like my obsession did for me. I can't forgive myself for what I did just because I went crazy. It was my fault I was insane to begin with. It's the same thing with Trace. Just because his memories are gone doesn't mean he is innocent. Eventually his memories may be restored and he will remember all the evil he has done. He has a duty to fix this!"
"I agree," says Trace. Isaac glares at him, expecting treachery. "It was my fault. My experimentation with black magic led me down a dark path, same with you. I destroyed the world and made it into hell. I understand that and I'm willing to fix it, but this fight won't help us. I won't kill you. You're my friend. I just want to work together." Isaac looks shocked for a moment, surprised to be called a friend. Even with Jenna, he has felt so alone for so long. His renewed sanity just revealed how awful his life had been the last few years. Ironically, the guilt seems to be driving him mad all over again.
Isaac starts shaking. "No... I can't. Everyone near me is hurt or destroyed. I'm a walking disaster... But I can do this. I can reawaken your powers. I will!"
"What about me?" yells Jenna, tears in her eyes. "Everyone else has left me. I couldn't protect them either. I did my best to help you, but near the end you were so broken... I couldn't put you back together. But now, you're better. We can move on and live our lives. You can't leave me like all the others!"
Isaac can't bear to look at her. "I'm sorry, Jenna," he mutters. "But I have to do this."
He lifts his sword back up and prepares for another round. He ignores Jenna's screams and charges Trace again. He again attempts to use his speed to get behind Trace, but this time Trace is ready. He swings his sword horizontally at stomach level. Isaac barely dodges the attack, the sword scraping off his armor. Isaac swings his weapon down hard towards Tracy's head. Trace places his left hand on the flat side of his blade and lifts it up, blocking the attack. He strains under the pressure. Isaac redoubled his efforts and puts all his weight into driving Trace down. Without a grunt of effort, Trace pushes Isaac off. He lifts his hand and shoots a bolt of lightning at Isaac. Isaac barely gets a shield up in time but still gets singed by the attack.
"Screw this!" yells Red, "We aren't getting anywhere by just hitting this shield." Even Red is frustrated by the lack of progress taking a page from Landen who stopped hitting the shield about 3 minutes ago. Unbridled aggression just isn't getting them anywhere.
"But what can we do about it?" asks Keith. "None of else really knows that much about magic unless you know something, Sealeen."
Sealeen shakes her head. "No," she says. "A shield like this can only be taken down by destroying the runes or destroying the power source. Both are INSIDE the shield. That giant mana stone is the obvious source. Trace could try to destroy it, but it looks like Isaac put a shield around THAT and the runes as well."
"Well, we have to do something," says Sythe, "at this rate that idiot is going to get one of them killed."
Natani and Zen stop firing their crossbow bolts, most of which are broken by now from repeated use and stop to ask what everyone is talking about.
"Isn't there a spell that can just break through it?" persists Keith.
"No conventional ones that I know about. If I or anyone else here knew any, I assume we would have cast them by now," says Sealeen.
Jenna adapts a dark look and stares at the fight going on inside the bubble. Trace has cut a sizable rent in Isaac's armor and he appears to be bleeding. Isaac on his part has set fire to Trace's cloak which has been hastily discarded to the side. Both parties seem to wearing down, but she knows from experience that Isaac can power through pain. Isaac is as stubborn as he is strong-willed.
Trace, on the other hand, looks to be in extreme amounts of pain. From, what she knows of Trace, she recognizes that's a really bad sign. If he goes berserk, there's going to be a slaughter on their hands. Isaac is the only one with a chance of beating a black magic wielding Trace, but that's only if he resorts to black magic himself. The strain would surely kill one of them, most likely Isaac. That would leave Trace to do what he pleases to the rest of them as soon as the shield was destroyed.
Jenna starts murmuring to herself, ignoring the argument breaking out with the others behind her. Red grabs Sealeen and says that there must be SOMETHING they can do. Raine tries to calm him down while Keith tries to think of something. Lynn just stands there looking concerned. Sythe calls Red a damned idiot and Natani and Zen won't stop asking what's going on. Landen and Maddie just start drinking coffee, watching as the scene devolves around them.
Then Jenna's eyes start glowing black. Unbeknownst to the Isaac, Michael, and Williams, she had been observing their experiments. While she never participated she learned a lot from them and from what she saw in their minds. It was a testament to her skill in mind manipulation that she hadn't also gone insane from looking into their thoughts. Out of all of them, Maddie and bored Landen are the first two to notice what Jenna is doing.
"Uh, is she supposed to be smoking?" asks Maddie. One by one, everyone starting with Keith look at Jenna. They very wisely start backing off. Sythe and Red are pulled backwards when they don't move by the others. Dark tendrils come out of Jenna's sleeves and collar and move towards the shield. They poke and prod it. Somehow, they push their way through the shield and inch closer to one of the runes on the floor. Back in the fight, Isaac is again knocked away and sees what Jenna is doing.
"What the hell are you doing?!" he screams horrified. "You can't control that power! No one can!" Well, he knows from experience anyways. He tries to rush to the aid of his rune, but Trace cuts him off. Trace is losing control. The fight has been the most brutal he has fought since he woke up in the grass that bright sunny day all those months ago. He swings down hard at Isaac. Surprised, Isaac barely deflects the blow and is pushed on the defense. Each blow from Trace sending him stumbling back.
The tendrils of smoke reached the rune and start digging at it, warpin the ground around it, and finally incinerates the mark and a good chunk of the floor. Jenna collapses to the floor, convulsing just as the shield fails. Isaac feels like he should be cursing himself for not putting in back-up runes in case one was compromised, but currently he can only think about Jenna's safety. She was the last good thing about his life before today. She helped him so much and she was the only real reason he had any hope left. To think that he may have just gotten her killed as well... it is too much for him to take.
Raine rushes to Jenna's side and tries to help her and everyone else rushes into the breach and start to surround the pair. Keith tries to grab Trace who shrugs him off. Isaac, numbly looks around, and really loses it. Black smoke starts oozing out of his mouth. Again, everyone takes a step back except for Trace who looks uncharacteristically angry and eager. Keith again, tries to grab Trace who throws him off.
"That's enough!" Keith yells, "look at what's happening. Both of you are losing yourselves. If you keep it up, we're all going to be in trouble!" Keith shoots Isaac a glare. "You should be more concerned with Jenna than continuing this fight." Then he looks to Trace. "And do you think Flora wants you to lose control again? End this feud right now!" Both opponents hesitate. Trace looks to be struggling hard and Isaac looks incredibly pained. Keith presses his advantage. He looks to Isaac again. "You are the one with the most knowledge of black magic here. Only you can help Jenna. She could die if you don't intercede right now." Isaac's eyes soften and the black smoke starts to dissipate. Keith turns back to Trace. "Trace, if you really want to prove you can beat the Templar, then prove you can control yourself." Trace, lowers his sword but continues glaring at Isaac with his face written in agony.
Keith again puts his hand on Trace's shoulder. This time, Trace doesn't resist and Keith begins to lead him away. Keith turns back to Isaac. "We will beat the Templar, but we will do it together. All of us. Join us, help us, but help yourself first." The black smoke from Isaac completely disappears and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. Keith turns away and lead Trace out of the runes. Lynn, Maddie, Landen, and Sealeen follow. After a second, Isaac sprints to Jenna and starts trying to stop her mind from killing her body. Sealeen looks back at the Jenna and comes back to offer help while Raine tries to keep Jenna from biting her own tongue off. Natani and Zen come over a moment later, but neither can offer much advice. Red and Scthe simply observe and get ready in case Isaac loses it again.
Isaac focuses for a moment and gently probes her mind. He is very familiar with how black magic affects the mind. He cuts off the flow of energy that Jenna had failed to shut and her convulsing stops. He explores her mind and finds, to his relief that she hasn't suffered much damage. She would be fine. Then he breaks down crying.
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