Alex’s body became a heavy weight for Ice to carry and he let him down on the road when they were staring at the dark castle. Alex’s weight kept sliding off Ice and he would try to pick himself up from the ground. Alex’s mind was not where it was supposed to be, it was far out of reach and it was wandering. It was moving towards the castle. His thoughts were on the images of the castle and flashes of images within the castle.
They turned back to Alex and Celia, Ice helped him up again and threw his arms over their shoulders. They turned back to the castle and their mouths dropped. The castle was gone, no where in sight. As if it were never there in the first place.
“Where has the castle gone. I did see it with my own eyes,” Ice said to Celia.
“I saw it too but it goes after a while Ice. Where shall we go from here?” asked an exhausted Alex.
The bitter coldness of the area was coming from the ocean and Ice gave a weary look and nodded his head to the right towards the woods. The images of the trees that were once a blessing to touch and create had changed in this place. They were dark and burnt and a red blood oozed from the wood.
“These haunted woods are the only place we go for now. Let us journey to the east and see what they have in store for us,” Ice answered bravely and he and Celia helped to carry Alex down from the road to the woods where shadows lived.
From there Alex continued to see the images of the castle in his mind. He was there in his imagination right next to the castle of horrors. Then he saw the figure inside the castle. It reached his hand out of the window and fell to the ground in front of what seemed to be two heavy black doors. The figure had his eyes closed towards the young knight outside.
“You have wandered too far to understand, Alexander. Far too far too for one so young,” he cried and opened his eyes to reveal the insides of the figure’s soul.
Alex screamed out in his dream and fell down the side of the road head first in reality. He rolled down the hill and Ice and Celia raced down to catch him. Alex bashed into a side tree and leaves and branches covered his body. Celia rushed down and started to brush the branches and leaves from Alex. Ice watched the knight and pulled him up from the ground.
“What is wrong with you dear child? Tell me what is wrong so at least I can help you,” Ice cried.
Alex wept a tear and his eyes were white and ghostly. His mouth shook when he tried to speak, “Even I don’t know what is wrong with me. I am fighting the shadows of the land, the dark forces of the Nile. When you look into someone’s eyes, it is the window to their soul and yes I saw one! A true terror that breaks my bones and breaks my heart in two. It was he, the man in the dark castle. It is he who creates the darkness of this world. The source of all evil is here.”
“There can’t be such a thing, Alexander. It is mind games that these woods are playing. They are playing you as the fool,” Ice said.
The two helped Alex up again and Celia looked at him and he gave a glared at her. She believed him and he knew it. Ice couldn’t believe there was such as thing.
No leaves were seen from the back of the wood where it touched near the castle but a shadow was in the wood. It was watching the branches creak and howl throughout the land. The trees moved inwards and outwards along the pathways and gave dark whispers of the night in the dark and dangerous pathways. A set of dark shoes stood within the trees and was followed by the back of a head. The image was watching Alex moving himself now into the wood and Ice and Celia watched him closely so he wouldn’t fall again from terror itself.
“And there were three. Three small figures in the haunted woods of the land and yet their hope is almost dead, but these trees will spell the end of this quest they journey. The dream too hard to achieve. Their might will fall and their touch of hope will fall to ashes then to dust. Let me come through the dark and lifeless trees and see what becomes of the travelers. A hope to live or a hope to die,” said the figure as it wandered past the trees and they howled to him as an army would call to its leader.
The three figures kept on going straight into the woods and Ice’s fear grew within him. Celia stopped the worrying element.
“Do you fear that we will not make it? That the price is too high and that we cannot do it?” she asked him concerned.
Ice half opened his mouth and sucked in the fear of the woods, “These woods we did not make. It is something that I have never seen in all the lifetimes and eras of existence. That does make the heart stir and it does make the word hope for a dream,” Ice answered.
“Let us not worry about those things and get on with the task at hand,” Alex cried from the lead. Alex’s eyes were red with soreness and he was tired lead from past adventures. He wanted to move on and try to find Gladus as soon as possible.
The pair continued on their way through countless unholy trees and suspicious roots that looked like they moved when they were stood on. The power was affecting Alex badly and he fell to the ground again. Ice rushed up to him and looked into his eyes.
“Is it the castle you see through the woods?” he asked him.
“No. I cannot go on. It is over for me at last. This is where my fight ends and where I will be buried. Within the haunted woods,” Alex answered Ice.
“You will not be buried and your time is not up. Not while I am still here. Celia and I will push you along these woods until we fall with you. Let’s move,” Ice said and Celia helped Alex up and the three carried on.
The darkness was growing at a high speed and soon the pure darkness came down like a blanket on the woods and the three stopped in their tracks. There were no trees to be seen. The path was too dark and they spoke to each other in fear.
“Stay where you are. We must stay together,” cried Ice.
He turned around and although straining his eyes he could see no-one. He cursed the trees. He spun around and around the woods and the trees made the element of Ice dizzy and sick in the stomach. He fell to the ground and rested his feet. The woods suddenly fell quiet and the trees were listening in to Ice’s heavy breathing. The trees whispered and exchanged messages to each other and Ice could listen to them.
“What are you saying, trees? Won’t you let me in to the secrets of the wood?” Ice said to himself in wonder.
Alex wandered around the wood lost and confused. He had regained some idea of where he was and some strength returned to him. He waved his sword around in confusion. The whispers of the trees were getting louder and louder and Alex turned around on the spot darting his eyes to every tree he could see. Flash! Images of the castle lord checkered throughout his mind and he fell to the ground.
“Leave me alone, you dark spirits!” he yelled.
The trees started to speak to Alex, words of the castle lord, “Leave this land at once. You do not understand the matters of life Alexander,” the trees spoke.
“Where is he? The soul breaker. Gladus of the Shadows. The one who runs from his own death?” cried Alex.
The trees voices returned to whispers and Alex lowered his sword down to touch the ground. He saw Celia walking around the woods lost and he called her over.
“I’m over here. Don’t listen to the trees!” he warned her.
Celia soon found him saw the tiredness creep back into the young man. “I didn’t hear the trees speak to me, Alex. Did you?” asked Celia. “Yes, they must have only spoken to me,” Alex responded in a daze.
Alex then leaned down on his knees and dropped his sword on the ground. Celia leaned down next to him and looked at him, “What is wrong, Alex?” she asked him.
“Do you ever feel you have made a mistake? I feel I had when I took the challenge. To bear the burdens of the world and try to right the wrongs of Morcar and Draken. Now I wander in the most unholyness of places. I feel Gladus will almost push me over the edge of life and hope. There’s nothing left in me to go on,” he said and he reached out for Celia’s hands and took them and held them in his hands.
“I am spent and all I can do is done. Let the shadows and the whispers of the trees end this life of mine,”
Celia kissed him softly and put her hand to his face, “Won’t you go on for Alfred and me? It is your determination that has kept everyone’s hope alive. You are the one who gives life to hope,” she whispered.
The wood had gone quiet and Alex’s face showed the despairing hope to stop fighting and return home. Celia brought his sword up to his hands and gave it to him.
“Please finish what you started. Do it for me and the others. Let the dark foes be a secret to those who think this world is a heaven and keep it a myth forever,” she asked him.
He started to tighten his hands on his sword and gave a weak look towards Celia, “If that is what you wish for, princess then that is what I will do,” he sighed and stood up and held his sword high ready again for the next terror.
They started to walk when the shadows suddenly fell upon them. The darkness grew and they lost touch with each other again.
“Where are you?’ cried Alex in the darkness.
Not so near Alex, Ice was fighting the same troubles when the darkness grew against him.
“Where are my friends? It is you who keeps this wizard safe in these parts of the world. Where is the strange wizard?” he shouted out in the woods.
The trees started to howl at him and he blocked his ears and went around in circles by himself. The wind spun around the element and a figure popped its head up near Ice.
“Ice?” shouted Alex from the distance in the woods.
Alex turned to move towards the element when the roots of the trees started to trip the knight down. He grabbed his fire sword and started to slash into the roots and they fell apart but the power of the fire was strangely weak and no fire was unleashed with each of his blows. He stumbled forward towards the element when a shadow behind him appeared and bashed him to the ground. The wind that kept Ice imprisoned changed direction and flew towards the shadow. Ice stood up and heard a yell from behind.
“I’m here, Ice. Where is Alexander?” cried Celia running up to Ice from behind.
Celia then saw Alex tiring to get back up and the shadow was revealed to us.
“I must give you credit for finding me here but your rewards will not be so sweet when I am done with you,” said the figure.
Alex slowly rose behind him and the figure quickly turned and punched Alex to the ground. He grabbed him and held him up high. He snatched the sword and threw it straight out of the woods and saw it flying over the ocean. Alex saw the sword and looked down at the figure.
“Gladus, we have found you,” and with that the figure threw him down towards Ice and Celia.
Celia held on to her sword and Gladus moved his arm towards her. Her sword caught fire and she dropped it. Ice leant forward and Gladus gave a small grin at the element.
“Your staff is no match for these woods. The powers of the weather are not allowed here nor does it work,” Gladus said to Ice.
He also put the staff on fire and Ice threw the staff on the ground. Gladus stepped forward and Alex dragged himself back with Ice and Celia as they were trapped in the haunted woods with Gladus.
Their quest had come to an end and Gladus was silent among the fought adventurers. Alex sat on the floor exhausted and lost hope again. Celia was still strong and able to fight but the fear of loss was creeping back into her mind too.
“What can you do now Gladus? There is nowhere to go. Your power is not strong enough for the other elements and the ThunderDragon,” Ice said to Gladus.
“Ice, if you open your eyes and think and understand then you would see where this quest will end. The faithful element to the weather. He works day and night and without rest. Alexander and Celia will see if this does end, the real Ice will come. The cold and heartless man that he is. Is the legend true?” Gladus asked Ice.
Gladus turned to Alexander and Celia who are watching Ice. Ice looks plain in the face and made a wry look.
“Is the story true Ice, element of the weather creators. Are you the man with the frozen heart?” Gladus asked.
“No,” quickly answered the element.
“My, my Ice. You were very quick at answering that. Are you really sure that is your answer? I don’t think you are Ice. Before we chat again, I have a place to run, yet one more place to run,” he cried.
Gladus raised his arms and unleashed a electrical storm upon the young pair pushing them to the ground. He transforms into the shadow and run up the hill.
“You go after him Ice. We will stay here for now and watch for the screaming trees. We’ll come if we hear anything bad,” cried Alexander.
“Be careful young ones!” Ice cried back running up the hill.
Ice crossed the trees and came to the top of the hill where Gladus stood by himself. The Soul-Breaker points his finger towards the north.
“See what comes before you Ice, the dark castle,” he boomed.
In Ice’s mind, the dark castle appeared of a tall door and blood running down it. Gladus started to cross into the element’s mind.
“Yes indeed the long road must end somewhere. What you see beyond the tall doors of blackness, there you will understand who I am and why I am this way. Dear young Alexander couldn’t even pass the window of his fears. He saw his worst fears flash before his eyes. There is only one fear you have, the destruction of the world and this… nature around us. If you pass Alexander, you will understand the matter of all life,” he ringed inside Ice’s mind.
The Image of the dark castle disappeared and Gladus was still standing by himself unharmed.
“You see Ice I can understand you in a way. You are the man who haves the frozen heart. You don’t let anyone inside it. Even I a Soul Breaker can’t seem to get inside you and understand why you are so secret about yourself. You worry about someone breaking it?” Gladus asked.
“I don’t need someone telling me this. I am one man and one man only. There can’t be anyone. I am not doomed to live forever by myself. I live a life of nature and heaven. It is all I need,” Ice answered him.
“Or is it all your frozen heart lets you have? We are one in a way. For I am the man who has no heart. I don’t have emotions like humans have. I need to remind myself sometimes to show emotion. To pretend,” Gladus explained.
“You have a heart. Feelings. You would not be real if you didn’t have any,” Ice said.
Gladus stepped up next to Ice and grabbed his hand. Ice’s face is lit of worry and his hand is placed on the Soul Breaker’s chest, “Listen,” he purred to himself. His eyes started to shine green. A green poison was seen cross into Ice’s hand and towards his own chest. The elements felt faint and his eyes glowed white, he saw the true insides of his empty soul.
“You see Ice, there is no beat of hope in me. There is no heart or soul. All there is a hollow body that runs on fear and evil. Nothing can get to me. There is nothing that won’t slow me down, nothing,” he said to the element.
“It doesn’t matter Gladus, you can not stop the magic and love of the weather creators. You know that, somewhere in that hollow body of yours,” Ice said.
“You are wrong. There are missing pieces in this puzzle. Remember element you are also human not all nature. Having a heart, having a soul is a mistake at first call. You’ll find out soon if your heart does break,” Gladus warned him.
Gladus placed his hand on Ice’s chest and it glowed a blue ice feeling. The Soul Breaker’s hand started to glow a fire red trying to break it.
“Your heart is strong and frozen,” He says trying hard to pinpoint a weak spot, “I must say that is good. But there are weaknesses. You care too much about people. It could be your downfall Ice. Maybe one day I will feel the water run down your heart, like tears down a human’s child’s face,” Gladus said.
Suddenly a old bag was thrown up the hill and landed next to Ice. He grabs out the crossbow from inside and aims it at Gladus. Alexander and Celia arrive and stand next to Ice.
“The young couple. Ah, your achievements will go unnoticed in history you know. Alexander, you fight for a world. That is really out to destroy nature and even themselves,” Gladus eyed the pair.
“There are good people in this world. Myself and Celia, Alfred too,” Alexander cried at Gladus.
“Alfred the Old? Minus the three of you and there would be none to take up arms for this world,”
“Ice, what are you waiting for? Finish the quest now!” Celia cried out.
The woods started to scream and Alexander, Celia and Ice cover their ears. Gladus blinked his green glowing eyes and watched the crossbow from the corner of his eye.
“Can’t you hear the trees screaming at this madness? The skies are pitch black and the hope of this world now hangs in the balance. Won’t you come into my world and see for yourself Alex? What the dark castle looks like within?” Gladus asked the knight.
Alex and Celia circled around Gladus and his eyes watchful as ever preyed on the young couple. He held out his arms towards them as they were skeletons and his eyes shone pure white. Alex and Celia held on to each other for dear life.
“Tell me when it’s over…”whispered Celia.
“Your time has ended Alexander, knight of Richardson and one of many to die!” he yelled.
A shot of hope shot into Gladus and he watched Alex and Celia slowly turn to Ice. Gladus’s confused eyes turned to despair when he saw the ice arrow land on the ground and he turned to face the element. He turned his back on the frozen couple and stood tall towards Ice.
“A despair shot made there Ice. Did I hear the melting of your frozen heart then?”
“It is you and I now Gladus. The end is here and you will put it down to justice, just like Morcar and Draken,” Ice shouted to Gladus. Gladus’s serious looked changed to a smile and he held his hands up, “Why not freeze me now. In the future it will be even more difficult for you to put me away. Will this happen every thousand years, where the wars of the weather are fought among innocent people and thousands are killed because of a leader who doesn’t believe in killing?” he asked.
Ice held up his bow and arrow and aimed it at Gladus and the effect of the forest was pulling the element down.
“Do you still know what I was after? This ending is quite sweet because no one really wins or loses. We’re just freezing the war in time until time allows us to continue again. Could this approach be the death of the elements? That is something we’ll have to find out,” his grin changed and the arrow was shot at Gladus. He started to freeze.
The forest started to scream and howl at the element for his attack upon their leader it fell to the ground and. It saw the frozen couple and ran down the hill towards the middle of the forest. The roots of the forest shot up and tried to hit Ice down to the ground and he jumped over them and ducked under the moving trees. Leaves appeared from nowhere and shoot like bullets at the element and he made it to the start of the forest near the road. Ice turned back to the forest and he saw dozen of whirlwinds. Suddenly he saw a light in the sky and his face filled with happiness.
The ThunderDragon himself had come to find the elements, leaving Fire with others back at the castle. He waved up to the sky and the dragon looked down and saw him.
“Alex and Celia, they are frozen. Please take them away from here. Leave Gladus here. He is finished and is no more to us now,” Ice cried. The ThunderDragon nodded and flew ahead of Ice and the element appeared on the road. His head turned up to the road where his eyes started to go green and purple. He saw the castle again in the distance and his pocket started to burn like fire.
“What is wrong with me?” he cried and put his hand in his pocket and pulled out the music box he had with him.
The young dancer inside was filled of fear and hid himself away in the corner of the box. Ice leaned down to the dancer and whispered to him, “Do you feel the stress and pains that I do?” he asked him.
The dancer gave a half a nod but wasn’t so sure. He couldn’t speak or do anything.
“Have you been here before?” he asked him.
The dancer shook its head and returned to his state of fear. Ice moved his head up and saw the ThunderDragon passing over it with the frozen statue. The frozen picture of Alex and Celia haunted Ice’s mind. Filled with guilt over what he had to do. He knew he saved them but only for the time being.
“They were never supposed to be here in all of this. Even now the soul breaker has been broken for now. What will become of us over the next thousand years? Will the world be a better place? Only time and the stars will tell our future and we can only give hope to those who will continue the line of mankind,” he said to himself.
Ice pulled himself up from the road and carried himself to the beach where the dragonflies and Wind were left. The dragonflies were giving looks of confusion at each other and Wind was sitting on the beach. He had healed well in the meanwhile. The resting element saw the ThunderDragon and he quickly stood up. The dragon placed the frozen statue of Alex and Celia on the black beach.
“What happened here? Where is Gladus? Is everyone safe?” Wind asked.
“Yes we are,” said Ice from behind Wind, “Gladus has been taken care of. The peace has returned. The quest is over,” Ice smiled.
Wind ran up and hugged Ice and looked back at the dragonflies.
“We are safe at last. There will be no more trouble for us now,” Wind said excitedly
“We can go home now and rest in our homes,” Ice commanded.
The dragonflies stood up from the ground and looked at the elements.
“I think these dragonflies want to go home. We’d better go now. The ThunderDragon will want to know what happened here and so do I!” Wind said.
The dragonflies moved up slowly into the air. The four flies and elements disappeared from the dark woods and land.
The calm air blew in the faces of Water and the Thunder Dragon. The ThunderDragon with his eyes closed warmed to the feeling that peace had returned to the world and that things would now be fine. When came to himself again, he spoke to Water.
“Tell me again, is the war of the weather really over?” he asked him.
“Yes it is my, leader. ThunderDragon it is all over. We have taken care of the three evils,” Water answered him peacefully too.
“This is over now Water. You can return to doing what you do best. Creating and aiding the weather. Pretend that this war never happened and we will all be fine,” ThunderDragon said to Water.
Water paused and gave a smile and removed himself from the castle. The ThunderDragon was now alone and peaceful with himself. But how long would this last for him? Only time would tell.