Join Date: Jul 2008
Paladin stood alone atop the roof of a high building. He closed his eyes as he felt the calming wind brush against his face. He felt at peace, knowing that the coming battle would reaffirm his title as the greatest warrior on the face of the planet. He had defeated Brennon once, and now he was going to do it again.
There had been doubts before that Paladin had proved he was the superior man, as it was said that Brennon may have been injured beforehand. But this time they would be fighting on equal terms, and only one could walk away. Since his membership with the Champions of Justice was terminted, he no longer needed to play the hero and let Brennon live.
Hours ago he had felt anger knowing that Huntress had betrayed him for Brennon, his former master. For centuries he had tried to escape his shadow but yet the swordsman was always there. When it appeared that Brennon was finally gone, he emerged from his icy grave, leaving Paladin once again with the notion that in this world existed another that could be better than he.
In his rage Paladin had lashed out at Huntress. He gave her a brutal beating, but refrained from killing her. Wanting to face Brennon again, he left her alive so that she could lead the swordsman to him.
He was confident in his ability to defeat the man he once admired as a father figure. He possessed inhuman strength, and the Darkforce within him allowed him to repair his wounds as quickly as they came. He could also wield his Darkforce energy as a weapon. But he was more than just a man with uncanny powers. He had been trained in countless fighting styles and had the experience of several centuries to back him up.
"Kael!" called out a voice. Paladin opened his eyes and turned around. The swordsman was standing on the edge of the roof with his swords drawn.
"I suppose we always knew it would come down to this," Paladin said.
"No," Brennon replied. "I didn't train you so that you could become my enemy."
"You created someone even more powerful than you, and the thought of it is killing you."
"You're wrong, Kael. I never cared about that. What's killing me is the small boy I found crying underneath his mother's bed, has become as corrupt as the Darkness that I spent ten years protecting him from," Brennon told him, but that was only half of the truth. He never did tell Kael that he had been watching over his family long before the Darkness came. His mother, Viranna, was a descendant of his sister's family, extending over a few hundred years. And her death made Kael the last of his bloodline. When Brennon's father died, and his sister was left all alone, Brennon had sworn an oath to himself that he would protect her family forever, and that promise carried on from generation to generation.
"Tell yourself whatever you want, Brennon, but don't spew your self-righteous trash at me. I have no use for the values that you tried to impress upon me. Today I will prove that great power triumphs over everything," Paladin said as he removed his battle ax from the loop on his belt. "What do you have to prove?"
"Nothing," replied the swordsman, as he unfastened his cloak and let it drop to the ground. "I only came for you."
There was a ring of steel as their weapons collided in a silver flash. Paladin's extraordinary skill as a warrior backed up by his immense strength provided an offense that even Brennon found difficult to defend against. He relied on his agility as he ducked, side-stepped and dodged the incoming attacks.
Paladin was more than brutal in his assault. Much like Brennon, he had undergone centuries of vigorous training, and possessed greater fighting skills than any of the swordsman's previous opponents. As they fought, Brennon remained calm and focused as he searched for an opening. When Paladin made a horizontal slash, Brennon dropped low and sliced him across the knee.
Almost immediately the wound closed and Brennon was knocked to the floor as a boot connected with his jaw. Paladin lunged forward and attempted the coup de grace. The swordsman did a sweeping kick to the leg that floored Paladin. Brennon was the first to rise, and before Paladin could rush back into the fight, Brennon's blade tore into his hand, causing him to release his ax.
Brennon rushed forward, raged to kill, but was knocked back on his heels by a black shield of Darkforce energy that materialized in Paladin's hand. The touch melted through his clothes and singed his skin. The shield disappeared as quickly as it appeared, and was replaced with a Darkforce sword that ripped a burning gash across the swordsman's shoulder.
Brennon fought through the pain with eyes blazing with a need for victory. Paladin struck again, but this time his weapon was caught between twin blades. Another black sword appeared in his free hand, which came on in a lightning-fast horizontal arc. The swordsman took a sliding step backwards, but was nicked across the arm.
"You trained me well, old friend," Paladin said smugly. "Perhaps too well." Brennon threw himself at his enemy and became a dancing whirlwind of steel. Paladin scowled when Brennon hacked his sword into his chest. The blood remained but the wound did not.
Paladin felt his anger rising as he began to realize that his defenses were sorely lacking against Brennon's unequaled offense. Blood splattered as the swordsman's blades struck flesh again and again, but each time the Darkforce repaired his body before his injuries could have an affect on his ability to fight.
But Paladin wanted to be more than just stronger and more powerful than Brennon, he wanted to be the better warrior. And this was a clear indication that when it came to fighting prowess, he was still outclassed, just like the way it was back in the days they used to spar together. Being less than superior enraged him then and it enraged him now.
He unleashed the full brunt of his wrath on Brennon, which was exactly what the swordsman wanted, as anger and hate always make one reckless. Paladin yelled out as he felt a blade slip through his chest. The Darkforce blades faded as he momentarily lost control. He brought his hands up in a quick motion and placed them against Brennon's head.
Brennon's face twisted in a grimace as he felt the power of Darkforce searing through his head. He released his grip on the sword and stumbled backwards, clutching his face. Paladin grinned as he grabbed the hilt of the blade and yanked it from his torso. He tossed it aside.
His vision was blurred, but he could make out the image of Paladin charging towards him with a humongous broadsword composed of Darkforce held in his hands. He tried to bring up his blade up for a parry but his balance was off. Their blades clashed, and Paladin rammed him against the wall. Brennon strained as he stood in a death lock with his adversary.
Brennon put both hands on the hilt as he pressed against Paladin's sword, but he felt his arms about to collapse under the pressure.
"Can't you see, because of the Darkforce that runs through my veins, I can't be killed!" Paladin proclaimed triumphantly.
As he stood there seconds away from death, an image of Huntress appeared in his mind. He recalled seeing her sprawled out on the pavement, dressed in bloodstained clothes. She had broken bones and bruises all over her body. Paladin had done those things to her to lure Brennon to him. The thought strengthened his resolve, and suddenly he kneed Paladin in the stomach.
He pulled away, but was not free for long. Paladin's broadsword sliced a deep cut in his side. Brennon staggered, but refused to fall.
"Still you stand," Paladin said, almost in wonder. "But not for long." He swung again, and this time Brennon deflected the blow, but he couldn't avoid a fist that caught him in the stomach. He felt the air escape from his lungs. Winded and bleeding badly, Brennon was unable to defend against Paladin's next attack. Brennon twisted at the last possible second, and if he hadn't the wound would have been lethal.
Pain flooded through him as he stumbled backwards, several feet away from Paladin. He sank to his knees, with no weapon at his side.
"It's over," Paladin said. "The mighty Brennon has fallen."
As he sat there, dwelling on his imminent failure, he remembered the promise he had made to Paladin during Fist's funeral. When I am free, I will kill you. The words burned in his mind.
He thought of Talia, who was slain in front of him by one of Paladin's students. She had been brainwashed just like all the others into believing that morality made people weak, but in the end she realized how wrong it all was. I didn't have Talia Rose killed, Paladin had told him. But I suppose its for the best that Tobias was the one to do it. There's only one punishment for treachery. She knew that when she joined you.
He looked up at Paladin, and his purple eyes were lit with a new fire. As if it came from nowhere but his own iron will, Brennon found the strength to stand. His gaze swept over the area and caught a glimpse of one of his swords laying on the ground only a few feet away.
For a brief moment, Paladin appeared startled, but his astonishment quickly became amusement, as he mustered a slight grin at the man who refused to die. He removed his helmet and said, "I want my face to be the last thing you see before you die." He let his sword lead the way as he made the final charge, the one he knew would end it all.
Brennon shot towards the floor, retrieved his weapon, twisted, and plunged it into Paladin's chest before slipping past him. The warrior lurched forward, and turned back towards Brennon as he placed his hand on the hilt.
"Why don't you just die?" he exclaimed angrily as he began to pull it out. Brennon leaped into the air, and his boot connected solidly with the sword hilt, driving the blade even deeper into his chest. He shoved him into the wall, and blood ran down his hands as he held them tight around the hilt. Slowly he lowered him to a sitting position.
Brennon had known all along this was the only way to beat Paladin. His injuries always healed instantly, but how could it heal if it was unable to close?
He could see the light in the man's eyes begin to dim. "You must feel very proud of yourself," Paladin said.
"How could I be proud," Brennon began, "I trained you. I raised you. And now I had to be the one who kills you. How could I be proud, to know that the last of my sister's bloodline had to die at my own hand?" He realized that last part had come out without thinking. The look on Paladin's face showed that he was as shocked as he was to hear it said. Never had he guessed that the two shared the same blood.
"I didn't know," Paladin managed to say, but Brennon could not determine if his tone was one of remorse or one of stark surprise.
"It doesn't matter now," Brennon replied quietly. Kael's eyes stopped moving, and his neck went limp. He let go of the hilt and sat in silence for a long moment. He tried to find some solace in the thought that maybe, at the very end, Kael regretted the things that he had done.