In the previous episode, Omega was killed by a crew of karayans upset with he and his brother. Based solely on title, readers voted for the story to continue with the title, Contract of the Dark: Mother of Shadows.
A setting sun casts a warm glow on L Strider, throwing a long shadow on the empty streets. Dressed in a fine suit along with his trademark trench coat, he walks at a merry pace. Humming a happy tune to himself, he enjoys the serenity of the day. Six months have passed since the battle in New York against his demonic brother, Omega. Yet following the death of the child, Gamma, a great change fell over Strider. Never wanting to see those close to him harmed, he took the young karayans Aaron Fellmind and Rune away. The three of them fled to the suburbs to enjoy a life of peace as a family. This day is no exception to his life of prosperity. A handful of groceries are slung over his shoulder in a bag, with every intention of preparing a special dinner to celebrate Rune’s birthday.
While he is lost in the thoughts of his culinary surprise, Strider is not aware of a second shadow stretching alongside him. Another walks next to him, yet remains quiet. Only when the person steps into view does L stop. Blocking his path is a young man, or more accurately a teenager, with wild locks of blonde hair erupting from his scalp. His attire is very regal, a blood red dress shirt and black vest. Linked to his belt are large spools of silver thread.
“Aaron?” Strider remarks, recognizing the young man immediately, but is thrown by the odd apparel that he is wearing.
“It’s Drekken,” the boy answers with a smirk, “But I understand the mistake. We are identical twins, though I think I’m a bit taller.”
Crossing his arms, Strider gives the Fellmind twin a look over, “I suppose that you are. Have you come here to see him?”
“No,” he answers, stepping closer, “I’m here to see you.”
“And what do you want with me?” L asks, becoming rather suspicious.
Drekken does not answer with words, only actions. He attacks with such swiftness that L Strider cannot react fast enough, as blood is spilled. Lying on the ground at his feet are the groceries sliced into thousands of small pieces. Droplets of blood leak from the slash across his cheek. The young man stands at his back, holding a bloody length of razor-thin wire.
“Far too slow, old man” Drekken mocks, grabbing the second spool of garrote wire from his belt.
Strider does not give the kid another chance to attack. Darkness sprouts from L’s body, moving through the air like dozens of tendrils. Even during the peacetime he has enjoyed, the elder karayan never stopped training, ensuring control over the wicked power, Nightmare Fuel. The shroud of black lashes out like dozens of whips, wrapping around Drekken’s wrists and throat. Strider’s eyes blaze violet as he slowly puts the squeeze, appearing to enjoy watching his enemy suffer.
Before Fellmind passes out, he works his threads like an expert puppet master, as they spiral around the darkness that binds him. A sharp tug at the strings shreds the black, freeing him of the trap. But it is only a diversion. Unable to regain himself, he is left helpless to Strider’s savage attack. Drekken’s body is cleaved in two by a sword forged from the maddening eyes of nightmares. His left arm hits the ground first, blood raining from the gaping maw across his chest. Strider watches with a look of satisfaction and a hint of bloodlust as he the corpse falls. Yet when his eyes look upon Drekken’s face, all he can see is Aaron, breaking the horrid trance. Immediately he regrets his brutality.
“I guess I’m still not in control of this madness,” he admits, wincing from the throbbing pain in his skull.
Calling the black and spiraling eyes back to the depths of oblivion, he turns away. All that he desires more is to leave this bloody scene, allowing it to be plunged in the deepest reaches of his memories. When he gets home, he will embrace Aaron and Rune like his own children. As he takes a step away, his arm is suddenly roped in the thin wire. He is unable to move fast enough, as his flesh is shredded into pieces. Blood splatters everywhere, as his ravaged flesh lies in a pile at his feet.
“Did you think that wound would be enough?” Drekken hisses, the wire held tightly in his bloody palms.
Strider draws the nightmarish blade from thin air, ready to attack again. When he turns, though, he stops, too shocked to move. The young man’s body appears to be healing at a rapid rate. Cells build up from the wound like millions of microscopic blocks. Atom by atom his arm is restored. The skeleton forms first, tendons wrapping around them as muscle builds over the bone. Layers of flesh cover each other until the limb is returned to him. Every part of his body is regenerated, as if the fight had never taken place.
“You seem shocked,” Drekken smiles, his canines are elongated like a beast’s. Looking at the pile of flesh and muscle that was Strider’s arm, he asks, “You cannot do this, can you?”
Staying silent for a moment, L Strider says, “I suppose not. I was not aware that our kind had such healing capabilities.”
“You have not even scratched the surface,” Drekken shakes his head. “Mother’s words hold true, you are a disgrace.”
“Mother?” Strider is taken aback. “Who is that?”
“It’s useless to tell you,” Drekken begins to grab more wire from the spools, “After all, you are about to die.”
The young man attacks him again, moving even faster than he did at the start of the fight. His wires dance around him in a spiraling vortex of bladed threads. Strider summons his nightmarish black to counter the attacks, using it to swarm Drekken on all sides. Steel meets madness, yet neither yields. Again, he shreds the maddening eyes with a furious attack. The blade of nightmares swings down on him, yet Drekken manages to spin the wires into a quick shield, intercepting the strike. He slides away to get some ground, but is attacked from the ground by the black, as it erupts from below in a flurry of spikes.
Even as he is impaled, Drekken does not fall so easily. He pulls himself off the spikes, and his body immediately begins to regenerate. Knowing that lethal attacks will not necessarily kill him, Strider gives into the madness. At once his attacks become even more brutal. Strider beats down on the young man from all sides, being the superior fighter. Yet with every mortal blow, Drekken is able to get back up, healing nearly as quickly as Strider is dealing damage. Meanwhile L is still sustaining injuries with no regenerative capabilities of his own.
Falling down on one knee Strider gasps for air, blood spilling from the dozens of cuts across his body. “Why are you doing this? What have I done to you?”
“You have displeased Mother,” Drekken says baring his fangs, “You and your brothers. I am here to exterminate you, just like Omega.”
Hearing that his other brother is dead causes something in Strider’s mind to break. The madness that he has been fighting so long to control overtakes him, just like it had Gamma. He roars loudly like a monster let loose from its cage. With blade in hand, he charges to slaughter Drekken. But then the darkness mysteriously leaves him. Every muscle in his body defies him the will to move. He is brought to his knees by some strange force, as he is played with like a doll. His head is held low, offering it to an executioner.
“You are a bit dangerous,” Drekken smiles, “But nothing I cannot handle. I am the Marionette Meister, controlling your body like a faithful puppet. It has been fun playing with you, Alpha, but it is time to honor Mother’s wishes.
As much as Strider rages against the mysterious strings that control his body, he fails to break free. Drekken slowly walks over, wire wound tightly between his fingers. He steps behind Strider, and places the wire up to the man’s throat. Strider stares blankly at the ground, his violet eyes glowing in a dead trance. And as the sun sets, so does his life, as blood is spilled from his throat.
As the moon hangs high over the sky, Drekken sits alone in the suburban park, though it appears to be conversing with someone.
“That’s right, Mother,” he speaks to the shadows. “That deserter, Alpha, has been dealt with. What do you want us to do now? Shall I deal with my brother and the girl?” he pauses listening, “Oh, you are thinking of having Necros do it? I understand, and I await your word, Mother.” Vote below on what will happen next or if reading in email click Take our Poll.