Tyran had nearly reached the top of the jagged mountain when the ground beneath him crumbled away. Of course, so near the summit of the Mountain of Death, after facing monsters and hoards of the Shadow Lord’s minions, the last few feet had to yield one last challenge.
Even so, Tyran did what he did best. He didn’t think. He acted. He whipped his limbs out and wedged himself in a narrow alcove of rock. With fresh, determination Tyran clambered over ashen rocks and brittle brush. At last, the young man pulled himself onto the summit and collapsed, his chest heaving. He allowed himself only half a moment’s rest before he forced himself to his feet.
A deep voice boomed through the air like thunder. “You should not have come!” Zagrith the Wretched, the Shadow Lord himself, stepped into the light. His black robes billowed like angry clouds. His smooth face was bone-white, and his teeth were sharp like a shark’s.
Tyran felt a weight press on his shoulders. His whole life had been building relentlessly to this confrontation. He drew his trusty sword Maranth, aimed it at his foe. “Today your tyranny shall end!” The blade ignited in white fire.
Zagrith’s smile stretched into a toothy grin. He began to speak, but his words were drowned out as the mountain began to rumble.
The hairs on Tyran’s neck stood on end. He could feel it in the vibrations of the rock and the icy wind in the air. Something was terribly wrong.
“What trickery is this?” Tyran shouted.
The old wizard looked to the skies warily. “This is not my doing.” Somehow, Tyran had known that would be the answer.
There was a flash of violet lightning. Both Tyran and the Shadow Lord covered their faces as the deafening BOOM crashed over them.
When Tyran looked up, he saw a man hovering seven feet in the air. He wore a strange green suit made of metal. He tapped his helmet and an amber visor vanished. The man took one look at the scene below him and his face scrunched as if he had a lemon glued to his tongue.
The Shadow Lord immediately glowered at the newcomer. “Who dares to trespass in my domain? I am Zagrith the Wretched, Shadow Lord—”
The strange man waved off the wizard. “Shadow Lord, Emperor of Darkness, blah-blah-blah.”
Zagrith flinched as if he’d been slapped, his bloodshot eyes blinking. Tyran had not known that the Shadow Lord was capable of such a disarmed expression.
The man pointed to Tyran. “Let me guess. Orphan?”
Dumbstruck, Tyran nodded.
The man folded his arms. “Street urchin or farm boy?”
“I…was raised on a farm.”
The man rolled his eyes. “And I bet someone also sang a prophecy about how you’re going to beat up Warlock Joe over there.” Keeping his eyes on Tyran, he pointed to Zagrith with his thumb.
Zagith’s sharkish jaw dropped. “How dare you?!”
Tyran felt his head spinning as if he were tumbling underwater. He felt deep down in his core that this moment should not be happening, was not meant to happen.
Still hovering in the air, the man turned to Zagrith, contempt plastered over his face. “And you. You’re easier to read than Farm Boy. Seduced by darkness, obsessed with bending everyone to your will.” He scoffed. “You’re just a two-dimensional demon worshipper with no underlying motivation.”
Zagrith jaw clacked in a stammer. “I’ll give you motivation!” He summoned a ball of lighting in his hands.
“Who are you?” Tyran pleaded. “What do you want?”
The man glared at Tyran. “The multiverse is riddled with recurring patterns. Sometimes the color is different, or the stitching, but it’s always the same damn tapestry over and over and—” He tensed his whole body as if something was squeezing him. “I refuse to allow one more repetition!”
The man tapped something on his arm. The air began to thicken and writhe like bubbling dough. A horrible roaring sound rained down upon them, and then the matter that made up the sky began to crack like stressed ice.
“What are you doing?” Tyran cried.
“Ending a story that should not be told!” the man screamed.
For a moment, Tyran was at a loss. He was supposed to defeat Zagrith and then the kingdom would know peace. The prophecy had said nothing of this breaker of worlds. It was unthinkable that someone would annihilate everyone and everything. Even Zagrith wasn’t that extreme in his wickedness.
But Tyran didn’t dwell on it. Despite the fear that iced over his limbs, this was no different than any other problem he’d faced. The young man didn’t think. He acted.
He raised his sword Maranth, and with a mighty yell hurled it into the air. The sword spun like a wheel of white fire. The man barely had time to gawk before he fell to the ground in a ball of white flames.
The figure stirred, shuddered to a kneeling position. His strange armor smoldering and sparked like flint, and his face was red with outrage. “You mother f—”
There was another flash of light. Zagrith had struck the man in the back with his sphere of lightning. The man spasmed in pain, and then his body flickered to nothingness like a snuffed candle. The ominous cracks in the sky widened and then closed as if they had never been.
The mountain wind moaned over the summit.
Tyran willed Maranth to fly into his hand and held it defensively. They stared at each other uncomfortably.
Slowly, Zagrith pointed his bony finger to the sky. “There may be more of them. May I suggest a truce?”
Revulsion squirmed within Tyran…and yet, he could sense that their prophesized feud was becoming irrelevant. How could they fight each other when madmen could split the sky with the touch of a button?
Reluctantly, the Chosen One nodded.