The Four Points

Chapter Seventeen: Kunzite's Despair! The Guardians Final Stand

© 2006 by Shari


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Mamoru raced onwards, dragging the resisting king along with him, as Beryl's screams grew fainter. Finally they ceased and only then did the young Prince stop. He slumped back against the wall; the feeling of cold stone upon his back gave him some comfort. Slowly he inhaled some deep breaths, all the while keeping his gaze focused on the shape huddled beside him.

"Zoi-chan?" he whispered as he knelt down beside the guardian, wincing when he saw the thick red blood welling from his palm, a splinter of wood roughly the size of Mamoru's index finger was imbedded in the flesh. Shakily, the Prince reached over to pull it out, but Zoisite withdrew his hand before Mamoru could reach it.

"Zoi-chan? Let me have a look... it must hurt."

"At least this pain is real."

Disturbed by this odd statement, Mamoru sat back, tentatively resting a hand on Zoisite's shoulder.

"Real?" he asked.

"I can feel it, I can see it... I would gladly have a million such wounds than the burden I carry inside of me. A part of me wants to give in because then it would be over and a part of me wants to make that bitch pay for what she did to Kunzite-sama and what she did to me. I am unable to do either. All I can do is go on pretending that this is all a dream and that I will wake up. This..." he gestured to his palm, "Reminds me that it is all real... I will never awake from this nightmare."

"I'm not going to make you fight. My only concern is getting you safely out of here." Mamoru chose his words carefully and was dismayed when they seemed to have little effect on the young king.

"Kunzite-sama said the same. He wouldn't make me fight... but a part of me wanted him too. I wanted him to be strong and tell me what to do even though I knew he wouldn't. Kunzite-sama would never force me to do anything I didn't want to do... I'm not strong enough to make this decision... I can't."

Mamoru nodded. Zoisite reminded himself of the time when he discovered that he was Tuxedo Kamen. Mamoru had not wanted it. He had not wanted the responsibility of his destiny. He had fought with himself so many times and ultimately he had accepted his transformation. He had chosen the path that he had followed alone and Zoisite needed to do the same.

"I think," he said, "That you are exhausted, you're hurt and you need to rest. To go against Beryl in this state would be a foolish move. I will open a portal to the Earth and we can warn the others of the approaching army."

Zoisite said nothing to this and continued to stare down at his palm. Trembling, he pulled free the splinter and the blood welled up faster than before. Ignoring this pain, Zoisite clenched his fist, focusing what little magics he had left on the pain. Then, slowly, he unclenched his palm and pulled off his glove. No wound remained. Only the blood was left as a reminder of the damage Beryl had done.

"I wish all wounds would heal this easily" he whispered, a hint of a tear rolled down his cheek at these words. Mamoru resisted the urge to comfort his friend and instead focused his own energies on opening a portal. Of course it would lead Beryl straight to them, but Mamoru knew they had no choice. If Zoi-chan was going to live they needed to get out of the Dark Kingdom.

A gasp caught in the young Prince's throat when his magics failed. It was as though they had hit an invisible wall and the force of this impact sent him sprawling across the floor. Dizzy with fear and disbelief, Mamoru tried again, and met with similar results. Something was blocking his powers!

"Mamoru-sama?" Zoisite asked softly, demanding to know what was happening. The Prince ignored him and instead weaved his thoughts into that of this new energy pattern.

Blackness... dark power choking off his air. Evil swirling all around him, He could almost see the energies patterns weaving in and out of the kingdom. The blackness stained his palms and started to creep across his skin. This was a being much fouler than Beryl... this was the purity of the evil that lurked beneath the kingdom's depths.

Mamoru gasped as a hand formed from the swirling mass of energies and reached out...

Then he fell. Mamoru gasped in pain as he was thrown onto his back. He thrashed, lashing out at his attacker, but his arms were pinned helplessly up above his head. His eyes snapped open as he breathed in the scent of his attacker... Sakura blossoms.

"Traitor" he hissed despite himself.

Zoisite released him, his eyes widening in shock as the truth of the situation dawned upon them both.

"Go!" Mamoru cried, fighting against the surging darkness. The ginzuishou had not healed him! It had only weakened Metallia's hold on his mind and allowed his true nature to reassert itself. Now, with the movement of the demon, Mamoru found that his hold was fading. He could feel his other self, the evil Prince Endymion of the Dark Kingdom, taking control once more.

Still Zoisite hesitated.

"Go!" Mamoru repeated, "I can't keep him away much longer..."

"Where?" the young king allowed a whimper to escape him, "I-I hate being alone."

Mamoru hung his head in despair. He was not strong enough to force the Dark Prince from his mind once before and now because of his weakness, Zoisite would die. Gathering the last of his strength, Mamoru chose his words wisely.

"I know. You say you are not strong enough, but that just isn't true. Do you think my father would have entrusted me to your care if he had thought you weak? You are stronger than you think and I know Kunzite will come for you. He loves you."

Zoisite was stunned at hearing this from his Prince and dropped to his knees as Mamoru's last words rung in his ears "You have my blessing."

"Mamoru-sama?" he whispered as the Prince collapsed. As he struck the floor, it was as though as spell was broken between them. Zoisite turned and fled down the corridor, even as he heard the roars of fury coming from his Prince.

The young king covered his ears. The creature screaming and cursing after him was not Mamoru... it was the spawn of the devil that resided in these very walls. Zoisite could feel Metallia everywhere. She was searching for him. He could feel her essence rippling through the fabrics of the kingdom. Never before had the Dark Queen been known to move in such a manner. She was growing desperate. Perhaps word of Beryl's betrayal had reached her ears? Zoisite shuddered, drawing in a ragged breath. If she found him... Zoisite couldn't even begin to imagine what the demon would do to him. Kunzite had told him of Metallia. He had been to an audience with her once and it had shaken the man to the core. Nothing had terrified Kunzite-sama... not Beryl, not the Senshi and not even death. For something to strike fear into the heart of his lover, Zoisite knew them to be a terrible being. A being he had no desire to face.

Unable to control his terror, Zoisite forced himself to slow down. His tearing around the kingdom was bound to attract some renegade Youma or even worse Beryl. Already Dark Prince Endymion was on his trail. Zoisite could hear the man crashing about not far away. Whilst fear had given wings to his feet, now that he had stopped, Zoisite's fatigue was beginning to creep up on him again. Already the ground beneath him began to sway. His fingers clawed at the wall as he struggled to maintain his balance. Kami-sama, he couldn't faint here! Not with Endymion so close. Drawing a harsh breath, Zoisite recalled Kunzite's words to him long ago when he first became his mentor.

Not all battles are won with a sword or magics. Some victories come from wits and the quick minded.

A smirk twisted Zoisite's mouth and he felt a surge of hope rising inside of him. Kunzite-sama was right. He was always right. Endymion, especially in Tuxedo Kamen form, had never been that bright. From the memories Sailor Pluto had shown them, Zoisite had long since suspected that Endymion had ruled the kingdom with his heart and not his head. Now, as a minion of Beryl's once more, Zoisite decided that the man would be furious that the 'traitorous Sakura rat' had escaped him and his beloved Queen. Zoisite also knew these old tunnels like the back of his hand from his thousand years of being imprisoned inside the Dark Kingdom. He had often explored them whilst Kunzite was on other missions for the kingdom. Endymion had probably never taken the time to learn his way around, relying on his teleport powers to get to the throne room and then to Beryl's bed. Zoisite shuddered, whilst this thought would have usually brought forth some sort of disgust, he now felt sorry for the man whom he used to call Prince. Mamoru had saved him... he had even given Zoisite his blessing though Kami-sama knew it was a thousand years too late.

The youngest king shook his head. If he dwelt upon this now then he would lose his valuable head start. He started to creep along the passage once more, forcing himself to be as quiet as possible and then, when he judged he had a good start on the Prince, Zoisite deliberately kicked at some loose stones. He winced at the clattering they made and the furious roar of Endymion as he blindly stumbled after the king. Zoisite grinned to himself and slipped into a small alcove as Endymion blundered past. Then he doubled back up the tunnels and made a similar noise. Endymion again charged blindly after him. Zoisite giggled to himself, feeling some merriment in his predicament for the first time. This was going to be fun.

* * *

Nephrite glanced around the small gathering in the hall of his manse feeling a pang of guilt at the array of different faces that had come to see them off and wish them good luck.

We'll definitely need it, the auburn haired man thought gloomily as he caught Jadeite's eye. The blond had his gaze fixed firmly upon the staircase as if willing the leader of the Shitennou to join them in their fight. Nephrite knew better. Kunzite was too proud. This was something they would have to face alone.

"I do not like it" Sailor Uranus muttered darkly, "We should accompany you."

Nephrite shook his head, recalling her foolish and blind reaction concerning Professor Tomoe and later Yakaki. "I will not allow you to hinder our mission or endanger the people of Earth. This is our fight. Beryl was our Queen. Endymion is our Prince."

Chastened, the Sailor Senshi stepped back, lowering her gaze to the ground. Nephrite, satisfied, turned his attentions back to the gathering crowd. Naru wasn't here. He did not expect her to be. She could not say goodbye again.

"Jadeite" Nephrite snapped, deciding not to dwell upon the past, "We must go."

"Wait!" Tomoe Hotaru in her Senshi form stepped between them, her arms spread out wide.

"Hotaru" Jadeite started, but faltered off when he saw the man who appeared behind her in a flash of pinkish light.

Kunzite stood wearing his new uniform. His colour had returned, his hair and attire looking nothing less than immaculate. His sword from the old kingdom was sheathed at his side.

"I changed my mind" he said coolly, "If you wish to live through this day, then you will need my help."

Nephrite frowned and touched the hilt of his own sword, "Allow me to assure you that I am perfectly capable of watching my own back."

Kunzite chuckled at this response and said nothing to this retort. Despite his appearance, Nephrite could sense that his powers were weakened, if only slightly.

"I'm glad, Kunzite-sama" Jadeite whispered so only the kings and Hotaru could hear, "I know Zoi-chan will be too."

"If he lives," Kunzite replied icily.

"If he lives" Jadeite repeated and held up a hand to open the portal, "Now if we're all ready..."

"Wait" it was Hotaru who stalled them. Reaching out she tried to take Jadeite's hand, but the blond pulled back. Nephrite could see the confusion and conflict in the man's eyes. He had experienced the same confusion when he had first met Naru. In the old kingdom it had been acceptable, but not here, not in this time.

Hurt, the black haired Senshi lowered her gaze and continued, "There is something else you should know... All my life I have had these dreams... I always knew I was destined for a great purpose. I knew the world would end and that the only one who could save it was... there's always a price to pay! I'm sorry, but how can you save millions of lives and not give anything? You can't."

"What is the price?" Nephrite asked, feeling Naru's trembling increase. Hotaru paused, her eyes welling up with tears and this time when she sought comfort from the blond king he did not push her away. Then, after a few minutes she pulled free of his embrace and stepped back, tears still shining in her violet pools.

"The price is blood. The world will be saved, but only if Eternal's blood soaks the ground. Zoi-chan is going to face Beryl and die."

* * *

Jadeite's stomach lurched as he stepped through the blackened portal that led to the Dark Kingdom. He shivered as his bare skin touched the sides of the ugly bleed between worlds. Jadeite gazed around and saw that the portal had similar effects upon the other kings. He shivered again at the stone tunnels that surrounded them. It was so dark... so cold. Nothing lived here.

"The throne room is this way," Kunzite said, forever the leader of the four... three, Jadeite corrected himself and felt a pang at this.

The price is blood. The world will be saved, but only if Eternal's blood soaks the ground. Zoi-chan is going to face Beryl and die

Kunzite had not reacted to this revelation from the younger Senshi. Muttering only that destinies could change, he had requested that they leave immediately. Jadeite had resolved that no one was to die. That Zoisite did not have to do anything against the Dark Kingdom. This was blindness on the king's part that he knew.

Yet Jadeite could see Kunzite's pain, mirroring the pain he had felt in his soul for so long when he left Hotaru behind.

Staring at the leader of the Shitennou, Jadeite felt a spark of sympathy for him. Kunzite had as much to lose as they all did... perhaps more. Kunzite had watched Zoisite die once. Though the man may think that his icy demeanour clocked his feelings, Jadeite could see what resided in his heart. He recognised the despair that ate away at his soul.

Shaking, Jadeite quickened her pace to match that of the older man's. Stepping up beside the white haired king, he gently touched his arm.

"We'll find him," Jadeite whispered softly so that no other could hear his words, "We'll all protect him. It doesn't matter what Saturn said. There is always hope."

Kunzite appeared stunned at his words, and murmured softly, "There is no hope for any of us besides a quick death."

Jadeite frowned. He had hoped that Kunzite had rid himself of that fatalistic attitude. He was about to retort when Kunzite doubled over. For a second Jadeite thought that perhaps he was sick again, when Nephrite also fell. Then it hit him. Gasping softly, Jadeite reached out for the wall to steady himself as 'it' rippled through him, a great darkness... Jadeite shuddered at its touch. It was able to tear into his very soul if it desired. Jadeite fought against the urge to cry out. What was this?

"Don't move" he felt Kunzite's hand clamp around his wrist, "It is not you that it's searching for..."

Jadeite obeyed, closing his eyes and simply waiting. Instead concentrating on the warmth radiating from Kunzite's palm. It reached the floor once more and was gone. Jadeite uttered a small cry of relief and fell forward onto the ground, his cheek striking the rough stone even as he asked:

"What was that?"

"A demon... the Great Ruler, Queen Metallia of the Dark Kingdom" Nephrite answered, his usually steady voice wavered slightly at his own words, "She has left her chambers."

"Metallia?" It was as Jadeite had suspected.

Beryl was the physical form of Metallia since their merging in to one. Metallia had used Beryl to front her Dark Kingdom and now that she had left her chambers, Jadeite knew there was not much time.

"Metallia is the essence of the kingdom. She has spread herself among the foundations that make up this dimension. That is why she did not see you directly. Her consciousness resides elsewhere. She is not looking for us so will not see us... for now. She is searching for Eternal." Nephrite explained, seeing Jadeite's confusion that the demon had not sensed them so easily.

Hope surged through the little group, "Then he escaped?" Kunzite questioned.

Jadeite nodded, voicing his thoughts out loud, "Zoi-chan knows these tunnels well, but he cannot hide from Metallia. The Dark Kingdom was formed from her being. It is only a matter of time."

Kunzite made a small noise of indifference and tossed his cape over one shoulder, "In that case, I suggest that we find Zoisite first."

Jadeite shivered slightly as they started in the direction of the throne room once more. Even if they did find Zoisite first, how could they hope to stand against Metallia and Beryl?

* * *

Zoisite ducked into a small opening just as Endymion charged passed. It had been an hour... or it could have been longer. The younger king leaned back against the wall, his breathing coming out in short laboured gasps. He couldn't keep this up for much longer and Endymion grew nearer and nearer to discovering him. Zoisite's body shook at the thought of capture. Clenching a fist he knew he would rather die than allow Beryl the satisfaction of killing him again. He had to escape the kingdom. Zoisite shuddered. How could he? If Mamoru had failed to open a portal then what chance did he have? Zoisite knew his only chance would be to wait until the Senshi took the war to the Dark Kingdom. With all the fighting, he could hope to slip through a portal undetected.

For now he would have to keep eluding his assailant. Endymion had paused in the next set of tunnels. Zoisite could hear him cursing his name under his ragged breath. Smirking, the little king stepped out from his hiding place and set off at a fast pace, making as little noise as possible as he ran the length of the next tunnel. There he froze. It must have been his subconscious will driving him to this point. The sight before him filled him with an agonising sense of loss and at the same time a burst of hope. Listening, Zoisite could no longer hear Endymion's footsteps. The caped idiot must have got lost further back down the tunnels. Satisfied, Zoisite took a tentative step forward, around him a thunderstorm raged and yet this brought him more comfort. He gazed up at the castle like dwelling as a smile formed across his lips. Kunzite's home... his home.

* * *

For Beryl an age seemed to have passed by. She stared at the space Endymion had occupied long after her voice had grown hoarse from screaming her rage to the kingdom. That traitorous filth had turned Endymion against her! Beryl's hands shook as she ripped the offending bloom from her stomach, watching the red blood welling up around the wound. It was not deep, nor serious. Endymion's aim had been true, but his strength was ebbing. There was still darkness inside of him. This thought calmed her. This meant that Endymion could still be shaped into an obedient working tool. This gave rise to another set of desires. Metallia was on the move. The Dark Queen had sensed Beryl's betrayal. Time was running out. Though a part of the Queen still resided in Beryl from their merging of spirits, Metallia had once again retreated to her chambers once Serenity was dead. Now she stirred, Beryl knew what caused her to do so. She was going to reach Beryl's prize first and steal the magics residing in the young king. This could not be. A smirk twisted Beryl's mouth. Metallia may be stronger, but she knew nothing of the secrets of the Shitennou. She only knew of their powers. Beryl knew of the humanity inside of them. Zoisite would flee to the only place that neither Youma nor Endymion would dare approach, even now. Zoisite would go to his home...

* * *

Kunzite had always warded his castle home and indeed even now the wards closed it to anyone other than its intended inhabitants. Satisfied that Endymion would not search here and that his magical capabilities were not as advanced that he could succeed in breaking in, Zoisite shut the door and cast the spell once more, feeling more of his energy drain away at this simple effort. Staggering, he reached out and clutched the inner door of the castle, to regain his balance. After a few moments the room stopped its slow rotation and he was able gain his bearings. The manse was dark; the only light coming in was through the windows when the lightening flashed. Still it was no matter. Zoisite knew his way around well enough. He closed his eyes, partly in fatigue and partly in remembrance. He recalled the night that Kunzite had summoned him to the scary castle and as daunted as he was, Zoisite had found the courage to heed his teacher's request. He had been expecting a reprimand or perhaps even punishment for he had 'accidentally' killed a dozen Youma on the training fields and Kunzite had not been best pleased. Youma were dispensable, but Kunzite had hated meaningless waste. Youma couldn't have been further from Kunzite's mind when he had summoned Zoisite inside and then, in the hallway, the Ice King had pressed a kiss to his lips.

Zoisite recalled that sensation, the warmth of Kunzite's arms around him and a tear slid down his cheek. Kunzite had taken him that night and as far as Zoisite had known it was their first time together. No, it had not been so. Their night of passion back in the Earth Kingdom had destroyed more than simply their engagements. Their first time together had ended the world.

"Kunzite-sama" Zoisite whispered, his voice sounding empty and forlorn to his own ears. Slowly, he started to climb the stone staircase, having to pause for breath at every turn. Before, he had used to teleport to the top of the castle and having the stairs was simply a human formality that Kunzite had overlooked when designing the place. Again, a smile broke across his face. Kunzite had warned Zoisite about using his powers for trivial things. He had tried to discourage teleporting to their bedroom, but when aroused they had been eager to get there as quickly as possible and most nights this instruction was often forsaken. Now Zoisite wished that Kunzite had pressed the issue for then his body might be used to the taxing climb.

Finally it ended. Zoisite paused briefly to catch his breath before continuing along the endless corridor. He stopped just before he got to the bedroom. The door he paused by was still open, hanging off at the hinges. Zoisite recalled that day. It had been before his battle with Tuxedo Kamen. Kunzite had insisted that they take an hour or so to relax and Zoisite had assumed it meant have sex. Kunzite had other ideas. The chess set was still set up, as it was the last time Zoisite had played. He had lost and Kunzite had scolded him and as punishment he was to be the one to dress up as Sailor Moon in order to lure Tuxedo Kamen out into the open.

It had been very unfair, Zoisite had raged. After all, Kunzite-sama knew how bad he was at chess and that even if Zoisite had won, there was no way that the first king could pass himself off as Sailor Moon, no matter how many glamour spells he used. And of course the act would be demeaning and Kunzite would never do anything clearly below his status as first king.

Still, the chess match had taken the best part of an hour. Zoisite couldn't think of anything more humiliating as dressing up as Sailor Moon and applied more than his usual level of concentration. Kunzite-sama won in the end, he always did and Zoisite had reacted in anger. He had stormed out of the room, slamming it so hard that the hinges buckled. Kunzite-sama had followed him, told him that he was beautiful and made love to him before casting the glamour over his form. It had been Kunzite's way of making it up to him, knowing that Zoisite would not cast an effective spell such as that and would have had to really wear the fuku.

Now Zoisite found himself regretting every little outburst, every little argument and every harsh word spoken between them. Tears stung his eyes once more as moved away and towards the bedroom. The huge four-poster bed was unmade. Its black satin sheets crumpled on the floor and covered in a thin layer of dust. Nothing had disturbed this room in an age...

Zoisite shut the door behind him and glanced sadly around. His gaze rested on the grey jacket tossed carelessly to the ground. At a first glance he assumed it to be Kunzite's, but the green piping told him otherwise. In his grief, Kunzite had not even picked up the belongings of his lover as if doing so would make his death seem real. The dresser still had an array of green hair ties and hairbrushes littering the surface... Zoisite's heart clenched when he spied the handprints in the dust. Their photograph was gone... the only item Zoisite had really wanted to rescue from this damn kingdom and it was gone. Did Kunzite have it? No, Zoisite decided. Kunzite would have told him if he knew anything about its disappearance.

Shaking, he made his way over to the bed and sat down upon it, clutching the dusty counterpane between his fingers. Even now, he could still smell his lover's scent. A sob escaped his throat and Zoisite threw himself down upon the bed as his tears spilled down his cheeks and soaked the pillows. His heart ached for Kunzite-sama and for this all to be a dream... Without consciously realising it, his eyes started to close. Zoisite drew another harsh breath before succumbing to sleep.

* * *

Endymion was exhausted. He had been racing up and down these blasted tunnels for an hour. His body shook with fatigue and rage. He cursed his other self for allowing the traitor to walk free and leaned against the wall. How could the little vermin keep avoiding him? He was Prince Endymion of the Dark Kingdom, Beryl's most loyal council! Kicking at a stone, he finally realised the truth. Zoisite was leading him a dance through the kingdom and had successfully exhausted him. Even this realisation brought a smile to his lips. Using his sword to gain support, Endymion looked around. He could not see his quarry and he could not hear him so the chances were that Zoisite had moved further into the kingdom. The little rat was clever, but Endymion could recall the hopelessness and fear in his heart, he could sense the weariness in his soul. Zoisite would not last much longer. He would slip up and when he did, Endymion would cut him down. No one would stand between himself and his Queen again.

Lost in these thoughts, Endymion almost did not hear the footsteps approaching until it was too late. Gasping, he ducked into a small alcove and raised his sword above his head. The traitor would die! Yet it was not the traitor who stepped forth from the gloom, but Endymion's own Queen. He pulled his downward assault up short, missing the Queen's head by an inch. Beryl paused, looking wildly around, and then seeing nothing, she continued on her way.

Endymion shook at the realisation that he had nearly beheaded his Queen. A growl escaped him and as he was about to make his presence know, another thought stopped him.

Beryl thought him to be in league with the traitor. Anything he had to say to the contrary would not sway her. He would have to prove in deed and not word that he was loyal to her once more. Sheathing his blade, Endymion started down the tunnels in her wake, wondering where she could be going. His silent question was answered soon enough.

The tunnels opened out and Endymion found himself staring at a very familiar manse. His lip curled back in disgust as he recalled his last visit to the cursed place when he had stolen away a certain photograph of the two kings. The traitor was inside, Endymion decided and allowed Beryl to take down the wards, not wanting to exhaust himself further by bothering with them as it had taken him months to crack them before only to have them seal themselves up once he left.

Beryl, however, did not have this problem. She left the wards down as she entered the manse and with another soft command, the room lit up in an artificial glow.

Endymion ducked around a corner, just out of sight, as Beryl conducted her search of the ground floor. After ten minutes or so, she came back into his line of sight and was empty handed. Endymion felt her invoke her powers and a flash of red light absorbed her. He knew where she was going and followed suit, being careful not to let her see him. He appeared at the end of a hall on the second floor. Beryl was already stalking down the corridor and Endymion had to break into a jog to keep up with her stride.

The Queen paused at the end of the hallway and used her staff to blast a door off of its hinges. Endymion heard a surprised cry from in the room as Beryl entered and raced the last few steps, pausing in the doorway to witness the events unfolding before his eyes.

Beryl had the younger king locked in her grip, her clawed left hand wrapped tightly around his throat. She dragged Zoisite from the bed and shook him before flinging him to the ground at her feet.

"Did you really think I could not get passed those pathetic wards?" she sneered down at him. Zoisite refused to answer, his eyes glazed over with a mixture of terror and fatigue.

"You keep forgetting that this is my Dark Kingdom. Nothing can escape me here" with those words black magics poured out from her staff, enveloping the young man. Zoisite shrieked at its touch and Endymion gasped in dismay when he realised Beryl's game.

"I was going to drain you dry" she hissed, "But now Metallia suspects my betrayal I have to act quickly. I cannot risk dying at her hands and whilst she is at full strength that would be inevitable. I need you to stand against her. You are the only one powerful enough to weaken her..."

With those words, Zoisite screamed. The magics entwined themselves around him, sinking into his flesh.

"No..." he moaned, clutching at his head, "No... Kunzaito-sama..."

Endymion felt a rush of panic at his words. If Zoisite succeeded in defeating Metallia then it would be he that obtained the honour of becoming Beryl's loyal council. Though it went against every bone in his body, Endymion knew he had to rescue the traitor from Beryl's claws.

He stepped forward, letting fly a single black rose. It ripped across Beryl's knuckles and her staff fell from her grip. As it hit the ground, the magics around Zoisite dissipated. The youngest king slumped to the floor, moaning softly in pain as he did so.

"Endymion!" Beryl screamed, "What treachery is this?"

"I cannot allow you to brainwash him" he whispered through bloodless lips, "Even if it means going against you, my Queen. I will never allow that rat to take my place at your side!"

At this Beryl screamed in fury and snatched up her staff. Magics fired from its tip and struck Endymion in the chest. He was thrown into the hallway beyond and lost consciousness upon impact with stone.

* * *

Dazed, Zoisite watched through half lidded eyes as Beryl aimed her staff at Endymion. The man was thrown back out of the way and Beryl now turned her attentions to him again. His mind still ached from the intrusion. All Zoisite could think about was sleep... but if he lost consciousness now then he would become a servant of Beryl's once more. As Beryl's darkness once again poured forth towards him, Zoisite tapped into the powers granted to him by the Princess of the Moon and created a pinkish hue around his body. The dark magics struck the shield and were absorbed. Zoisite felt a small sense of triumph when Beryl screamed in fury. Yet it was short lived. His shield flickered and then died as an overwhelming sense of dizziness overtook him. Zoisite gasped when Beryl stalked towards him and knelt down at his side. She reached out with a clawed hand and cupped his chin in her palm.

"Look at me" she hissed, "Look at me or I swear I will make your death as agonising and as long as possible."

"Go to hell" Zoisite managed to reply, almost choking on his own words.

Beryl smirked, "You are dying inside. All this talk of Eternal is killing your spirit. It was your spirit that made me want to make you mine. Physically you are a disappointment, but mentally you can best even my beloved Endymion. Look at me. Embrace the powers of Metallia once more and I can dispel Eternal from your soul. Refuse and I shall use you for my own purpose and then keep your soul imprisoned her in the Dark Kingdom as I did hers."

To be free from the burden... it was all Zoisite had thought of when he had left with Mistress 9 that night. He had wanted to be free so that he and Kunzite might be able to spend the rest of their lives together. It was funny how unimportant that now seemed. It was as though it was a dream in the desert. As hard as Zoisite clung to this dream it all had melted away from his touch and run through his fingers like sand. Power... all he had ever wanted in the Dark Kingdom was to be as powerful as his lover and now that had been achieved through none of this own doing. Beryl feared his power. Zoisite felt a smile curve his lips as he managed to stand, drawing strength from the spirit of the dead Princess.

"You fear me," he whispered and his voice gained strength at his words, "You fear what I could do to you. You know I have the power to force this entire kingdom to its knees and that terrifies you."

"Fool! I fear nothing! I am the Queen of the Earth" Beryl raged, "I have no need for you. I am merely offering you a way out. You were the only one of my kings to even half complete a mission. For this I offer you the choice to join me once more."

"Offer? You didn't offer us a choice you simply took! You needed us. You still do. You want to be free of a demon just as I did. You want to be free of the creature that rules above you."

"Then you must see that we are the same. You will help me rid me of my demon and I yours."

Zoisite shook his head, "We may be the same, but you are forgetting one thing. I embraced Eternal out of my love for Kunzite-sama. You embraced Metallia out of jealousy and hatred."

"You lie! Just as you love your Kunzite-sama, I love Endymion."

"No you don't. Yes, perhaps in the beginning, but your love has grown twisted and tainted with Metallia's soul. When he refused to join you that day on the Moon, you killed him. Again, when you learned of his rebirth in the Earth realm, you had him snatched from Serenity's side and had to brainwash him before he could stand the sight of you, let alone bed you. What sort of love is that?"

Beryl did not answer. Her staff trembled in her hands. Zoisite held his breath what seemed like an age and when Beryl finally reacted it was to utter a barely audible sob.

"I did love him" she moaned, "I used to watch him from across the courtyard. I used to watch you all with him. I hated the way he fawned over the Princess. Though she was impossibly clumsy and stupid, he still loved her. He spurned my affections. I couldn't bear rejection. It felt like fire in my blood. I ran from the palace and stumbled upon the demon Metallia sealed deep within the Earth. She promised me the power to defeat the Moon Kingdom and then Endymion would be free of Serenity's spell. So I took all he loved from his side. I took his kingdom, I took his guardians and then I took his life and still he refused to love me. How can that be so? I had shown him how great my love was and he still rejected me!"

"If your love was that great then perhaps you should have let him go."

"Let him go?" Beryl whispered, clutching at her heart, "I can't... I can't lose him..."

"He turns against you even now. You say cannot lose him, but in truth you already have."

Zoisite held his breath as this last statement sunk in. Beryl's trembling increased a thousand fold and with a scream of fury and despair, she fired magics from her staff, striking him in the chest. Zoisite gasped and struck the wall. He crashed to the floor, feeling blood running down the back of his neck.

"You!" Beryl hissed as she stalked towards him, "You did this! You turned Endymion against me. For that you will pay in blood!"

"You're reacting with hatred again! Can't you see? If you kill me then Metallia has won! Again you will have allowed your hatred to cloud your judgement!"

Beryl let out another scream and kicked him with a pointed shoe. Zoisite held back a cry of pain as her foot connected with his jaw.

"My judgement is clear!" she raged, "I killed you once and I will so again, and, I promise you this, nothing will give me more pleasure."

Zoisite closed his eyes as once again the staff crackled into life. Again the magics would engulf him; their powers causing severe internal bleeding that would once again claim his life. Yet this did not happen. Beryl screamed again, this time a scream of terror escaped her lips. Zoisite opened his eyes as the foul demon took shape before his very eyes. The wisps of darkness swirled round and round, forming a pair of blood red eyes, clawed hands that plunged forth from the body of the beast and snatched Beryl's staff from her hands and snapping it like a twig.

"Metallia-sama!" Beryl shrieked, skittering backwards, away from Zoisite. The young king too searched for escape, but there was only one door leading out of the room and the Great Ruler stood between himself and that door. He pressed back against the wall as Metallia addressed her Queen, her voice echoed like thunder in Zoisite's mind.

"Beryl! What betrayal is this? Do you seek to harness the powers of Eternal for your own ends?"

"No, my Queen." Beryl cried in terror, throwing herself to the floor, "I was merely weakening the traitor so that you may drain him at ease."

"Fool! I moulded you into the being you have become. It was I who taught you betrayals. Did you think that you could hide your actions from me? I can smell treachery on you. I can sense a part of his magics residing within you!"

"Metallia-sama..." Beryl moaned, "Forgive me... take Zoisite. Just give me a chance to redeem myself."

Metallia laughed, her amusement was poison and Zoisite doubled over at the sound. Beryl, too, groaned in pain at the sound, but her groans turned to a cry of horror when she saw the man imprisoned in Metallia's outstretched hand.

"Endymion!" Beryl dove forward, helpless against Metallia, but something inside of her clenched at the thought of Endymion in danger. Metallia laughed again and swatted Beryl aside as though she was a form of an annoying gnat. The Queen fell beside the youngest king, moaning and sobbing as she struck the stone flooring. Her cries reached the ears of the Prince and he slowly opened his eyes, but it was not Beryl that his gaze rested on.

"Zoi-chan?" he whispered, not even realising where he was.

Zoisite gasped as Metallia dropped the Prince to the floor.

"Such an unworthy recipient of my powers so I have removed them" Metallia hissed, "I am disappointed in you, Beryl."

"Mamoru-sama?" whilst the Queen's attentions were elsewhere, Zoisite crawled to the Prince's side. He was in shock, but Zoisite knew he would live. Uncontrollable rage shook the little man for the first time since his rebirth. So this demon was the source of all his suffering? She had ruined his life three times over and would not hesitate to do so again. She had destroyed countless lives on the Moon and in the Earth Kingdom. She had reduced this new world to ruins and had its people slain or turned into soldiers to suit her own purposes. Her armies stalked Nephrite's mansion now, readying themselves to kill all inside of it.

Zoisite stood, shaking as he called upon his powers. Though they did not come directly from his hands, as had his old magics, he willed them to flow forth to his palms so that he might weld them with a deadlier accuracy.

"Zoi-chan!" Mamoru cried, "Don't! You can't defeat her!"

Zoisite ignored him. Mamoru was wrong. He had shied away from his true purpose for so long, but would not do so anymore. No more would suffer in the name of the Dark Kingdom. She would be returned to the Earth, forever sealed away as she should be.

Outstretching his palms, Zoisite watched partly in awe as the pinkish light danced from his fingertips and struck the demon. Metallia screamed as they did so. The magics burning holes in her very essence. She fell back, drawing on her own dark powers and shooting them forth at the little king. Zoisite poured his magics outwards again, this time around his body, forming a shield that absorbed her powers. He felt the darkness briefly touch him before he cast it outwards, striking back at the demon with her own powers.

The smell of charred flesh invaded his nostrils and Zoisite gagged at this scent, fleetingly amazed at how a demon could burn like a human. She struck again, forcing him back a pace or two as again his shield absorbed her attack. Then again Zoisite fired it back upon her, the unreal heat coursing through his body brought a lump to his throat. Never before had he felt such powers. The magics sung in his veins, overwhelming his spirit. He struck again and the demon fell back, clouds of smoke billowed from her many wounds. She staggered; her shade was growing weaker, fainter... Zoisite brought his palms together, as the ball of pink energy doubled in size. Now was the moment... he cast the ball outwards, engulfing her shadow. Metallia screamed as she was pulled through the floorboards of the room, howled in agony as she was dragged down towards the depths of the kingdom. A smile formed across his lips as he allowed the powers to disperse. Zoisite sighed softly and his arms fell to his sides. He had done it...

"Zoi-chan" Mamoru breathed and even Beryl had become chastened at this turn of events.

A furious roar erupted from the kingdom. The ground beneath Zoisite's feet exploded in a shower of splinters and nails. He pulled back, raising his arms to defend himself against this new onslaught... too late. A hand made entirely of darkness lunged forwards towards him. Zoisite had barely time to scream as it reached out and embedded itself in his chest. He staggered back under this new weight, tears of agony blurring his vision.

"Zoi-chan!" Mamoru was screaming his name, but his cries were growing fainter. Dizzily, Zoisite heard Metallia's cries of triumph, but mixed in was a new sound. A cry... His hand clutching at the shade that held him, Zoisite's gaze wildly took in the bedroom and rested upon the figures standing in the doorway.

Nephrite... Jadeite...

"Kunzaito-sama..." Zoisite breathed his lover's name as he felt his consciousness fading, all the while Kunzite's cry of despair echoed around him.


The End of Chapter 17 - Goto Chapter 18


Disclaimer: Once again I own nothing - if I did I would not be here but making my ficcies into anime, something that will sadly never happen *cries*


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