[FFML] [SM] The Last Ride

Aaron Nowack anowack at mimiru.net
Tue Dec 29 17:13:33 PST 2009


So, just barely, I'll manage to avoid going through 2009 without
releasing a fanfic.

I'm not sure this has any purpose for existing other than exorcising
some scenes that wouldn't get out of my head, but maybe someone else
will get some entertainment out of it...


The Last Ride
A Sailor Moon Fanfic
By: Aaron Nowack

***********************************************************************
Disclaimer: Sailor Moon is created by Naoko Takeuchi, who is not me.
I'm only responsible only for the text of this story.
***********************************************************************

        No song would ever record the death of Endymion, Lord of the
Crystal City and High King of the Earth.  There would be no bard who
immortalized his deeds in verse; no cantatrix would weave a spellsong to
make all feel as he felt.  His fall preceded by only mere months the end
of all the worlds, and there would be countless years of darkness before
any human voice was raised in song again.

***********************************************************************

        The messenger shifted his stance nervously, his eyes darting
about the small encampment, nestled in the mountains above the Crystal
City.  It should have been some hours after dawn, but the sky was
darkened, no sun, nor moon, nor any stars having pierced it for weeks.
The weeks since the Gates of Darkness had opened in uttermost Thule knew
no dawn; the weeks since the Earth had been plunged into sudden and
terrible war knew no light.
        "Speak, then," Endymion said, his patience worn thin through
those weeks.
        "The High Lords of Terra have convened, save only yourself and
the Queen of Thule, who has been declared anathema," the messenger said,
"and all objections have been withdrawn."  Those last were words
Endymion had wanted to hear for years, but now were too little, too
late.  "By unanimous consent," the messenger continued unnecessarily,
"you are the High King of the Earth."
        Endymion grunted.  "Then we can expect reinforcements?"
        The messenger laughed suddenly, a pained and bitter sound.
"Reinforcements?"  He shook with dark mirth.  "My lord... your
majesty... there are no reinforcements to send!  Atlantis is overthrown.
The Legions of Ur are broken; the guardians of Avalon slain.  Mu and
Lemuria stand still, but are sore-pressed.  I bear not word of
reinforcements, but pleas for them."
        "They think that I have forces to send?" Endymion asked.  "After
all that has occurred?"
        The messenger swallowed.  "This, your majesty, is the largest
free army I have seen in my journey."
        "I see," was all the King said, and then he dismissed the man.
        That night, the King left his soldiers, writing orders that were
discovered in the morning for them to find a secure hiding place to wait
out the storm.

***********************************************************************

        The music of the youma was not known to any human, save Nephrite
the Arch-Traitor, who made a brief study of it during the long years of
his imprisonment.  None of his peers, nor his queen, cared to learn of
the fearsome chant-howls, and the knowledge died with him.  He learned
that the youma music involved the emotions that ruled their lives -
hatred and fear - and not more complicated concepts like specific
events.  He never made the connection between one particular fear-chant
and the last ride of the High King.

***********************************************************************

        One youma thought to challenge the rider who came from the
mountains.  "How convenient," the best uttered, its inhuman mouth
twisting the words in strange ways.  "The prey coming to us."
        Endymion halted, but did not show any worry.  "Stand aside,
demon," he said simply, "or be undone."
        "Fool," the youma spat, talons of darkness stretching from
backwards-jointed hands.  "The hour of your kind is ended, I and mine
rule here now."
        The king did not seem to move, but there was the sharp sound of
rapidly moving metal and the slightest, bright glint of moonsilver
reflecting the distant glow of burning villages.  Then the youma was but
dust on the wind.
        It was some hours later that more youma came to oppose the lone
rider, a mighty host drawn from the surrounding provinces.  At their
front was none other than Jadeite of the Black Flame, who Endymion had
once trusted enough to guard his only son.  That man still looked fair,
even as he rode a beast of nightmare and commanded an army of demons.
He carried no weapon, but Endymion knew that Jadeite needed no sword to
kill.
        "My lord," the traitor said calmly as he drew near, as though it
were years log past, and they stood in the Gardens of Solace in the
Crystal City.  "Or should it be your majesty?"
        Endymion stood silently, but his face was dark, and Jadeite
seemed to shrink back.
        "For what purpose to you come this way, alone?" he asked, but
now his voice was shaken.  "If you seek at last to treat with my
mistress, I will escort you to the City."
        "My business is with the Queen of Thule," Endymion said at last,
"but no treaty is on my mind."
        Jadeite had now recovered, and he spoke with calm once more,
"You will surrender your weapon, and accept my escort none the less."
The youma moved to surround the pair, mighty demons handpicked by
Jadeite to be his personal legion, little like the weak beast that had
challenged Endymion earlier.
        "Become your prisoner, you mean?" Endymion asked, and then he
laughed, a dark sound that even the youma disliked.  "I think not.
Though I ride to the Crystal City, I do so under my own power."
        Jadeite raised a hand, then stopped, for even though Endymion
did not move, there was a terrible pressure, and a sense that he was
mere moments from unleashing destruction.
        "Do not think that I cannot pause to chastise you as well,
Jadeite," the king said, "before I deal with your Queen.  Stand aside,
or face my justice."
        Jadeite snarled, and his riding beast roared, but he turned
away.  "Go then," he said, waving for his youma to let the man through.
"If you desire your doom so greatly, I shall not stop you."
        Endymion faced no more challenges, until he at last arrived at
the gates of what had once been his own city.

***********************************************************************

        Endymion's son, the prince who bore the same name, had been
safely across the astral sea, at the court of the Moon Queen, when
darkness fell upon the Earth.  No word passed between the worlds after
that, but still he knew the exact day and hour when his father died and
he inherited the meaningless title of Lord of the Crystal City.  He had
no way of learning how his father died, however, and the thought
occasionally troubled him in the weeks before his own death.

***********************************************************************

        The walls of of the Crystal City, once bright and shining, were
blackened and stained with blood.  The old gates, forged of gold and
moonsilver and rarely closed, had been cast aside, and lay discarded by
the broken road.  A year ago, they had been priceless, but to the youma
they were worthless.
        The new gates were made of black iron and steel, and stood
closed as Endymion drew near.  There was no sign of any sentries, no
heralds of the dark queen to challenge his approach, but he knew all the
same that he was watched.  Jadeite would have sent word, and excuses to
soften the blow of his failure to stop Endymion's ride.
        He stopped on a now-barren hill overlooking the gates, and
dismounted.  With a word he sent his steed on his way, weaving a silent
charm to grant it speed and stealth to escape the youma.  He paused now,
looking out over the city that was his to rule.  Only one tower still
stood unbroken, wreathed in black lightning with foul runes painted in
blood along the sides.
        Now he drew his sword, and as if in answer to the dark tower,
the moonsilver blade - a gift from the Moon Kingdom in better days -
glowed with pure, bright light.  Endymion did not yell, but his voice
carried far and wide.  "I stand alone," he said, his sword gesturing to
each side.  "I have no followers, no soldiers behind me.  You see the
only weapon I have brought.
        "I challenge you!"
        The last words were roared, and seemed to hang in the air.
Silence was the only reply.  After a long moment, Endymion spoke once
more.  "Come forth, you coward!  Come forth and face me, or admit defeat
and let you and yours depart this world forevermore!  Come forth, Queen
of dogs and slaves!"
        Again there was silence, and Endymion waited only a handful of
breaths before before bringing down his sword.  There was a mighty roar,
and the dark gates before him were ripped asunder.  "Come forth!" he
called one final time.
        The time the shadows stirred, and slowly a woman emerged from
them.  She was not dressed for war, clad in a simple dark dress, and she
carried no weapon, but there was none on Earth who would consider her
harmless.  She moved rapidly without seeming to hurry, and soon she
stood atop the hill with Endymion.
        "By consent of the High Lords of Terra," Endymion said, "I am
the High King of the Earth."  He pointed his sword at the woman.  "I
offer you this chance, Beryl, Queen of Thule.  Kneel, submit to the
judgment of the High Lords, and answer for your crimes."
        The woman only smiled.  "Greetings," she said, "Endymion, Lord
of Nothing."  She spread out her arms, as though inviting Endymion to
take in the desolation and ruin that remained of what had once been his
land.  "Greetings, and welcome to my Dark Kingdom.
        "I offer you this chance.  Kneel, and accept my new order, and
know peace.  Refuse, and know death."
        Endymion only raised his blade, its glow brightening until it
seemed he held a bar of solid moonlight.  For but an instant, there was
fear in Beryl's eyes, and Endymion smiled joylessly.
        Beryl's face twisted in rage at his smile, and a dark staff -
the ancient symbol of Thulian royalty - appeared in her hand.  "Perish
then, and let Metallia consume your soul."
        Blade met staff three times, then Endymion struck true, landing
a mighty blow across Beryl's chest.  For a moment, all was still, and
then his light shattered, his blade sundered in two.  Even as the halves
fell to the ground, Beryl's staff flicked out, knocking the king from
his feet.  "Fool," she said.  "This is my hour, and no force in this
world can oppose me.  Do you now know fear?"
        Endymion was silent, and his face was still.  Beryl laid one
heel across his throat, and placed the end of her staff over his heart.
"You are without hope," she said.  "Beg for your life."
        There was no reply.  "If you will not know fear," Beryl snarled,
"then you will at least know pain."  Her staff pressed down, and
darkness flickered around the fallen king, stripping the flesh from his
bones.

***********************************************************************

        The death of Endymion, Lord of the Crystal City and High King of
the Earth, took the better part of an hour, and he died in tremendous
agony, but he did not cry out once.  Weeks later, Beryl - proclaimed the
High Queen of the Earth by the survivors of the High Lords of Terra -
led her armies across the astral sea and plunged all the worlds into
darkness, and when that darkness lifted the age that gave it birth was
long forgotten.  Yet, on the farthest world, a lone soldier still stood
a long vigil over the Gates of Time.  From her post she had witnessed
Endymion's final battle, and in the fullness of time, when a Crystal
City rose once more, she would go to that city, and tell a son of how
his father died.



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