As the Champions fled from the Malakor, Halldor forced his men to stand their ground. The Centurions unleashed their guns on the fiery demon, but their bullets barely penetrated its armored skin. The beast swung its massive blade at its assailants, blowing them into the air with relentless brutality. The Imperials all screamed in spiraling agony as they were slaughtered by this primordial devil.
They rushed down the hall leading to the right side of the palace. Behind them, the Malakor opened its burning mouth, and a wave of fire came pouring out. A handful of Centurions were immediately incinerated, and the flames chased them into the adjacent hallway. The six of them jumped to the side as the fire shot through the gigantic doorway.
“We need to get out of here!” Revan shouted.
“Hold on!” Jaden said. “That thing must’ve been guarding the temple. Now that it’s out in the open, we have a chance to grab it! Let’s go!”
His pleas were ignored as everyone followed Jaden’s lead down the corridor. Though he stayed behind at first, Revan quickly relented as they got further away.
All the Champions sprinted through the labyrinth of this ancient palace. Each one of them felt the ground shake and the air quiver as the Malakor furiously searched for them. This made it hard for them to focus on navigating the ruined maze in front of them. Fortunately, they found their way to the far back of the palace. But the steel gate leading outside was blocking the way. Revan tried lifting it up with his suit’s strength, but it wouldn’t budge.
“Oh no, it’s jammed!” Revan declared.
They then saw a couple of bullets fly past them. The Imperials were at the other end of the hall, shooting at them.
“GET THEM!” Halldor ordered.
And so, Revan and Jaden quickly took out their shields to protect the others from the oncoming bullets.
“Don’t worry, I got it!” Darek then began pulling at the door with his own enhanced strength.
Steel bullets burst through the stone frame of the gate as they missed their targets. Jesse fired back with his own guns, but his shots barely broke through their armor. Revan, on the other hand, effectively blasted them each away with his gauntlets. Jaden also blasted the assailants while protecting both Astra and Kaylah with his shield. Darek only managed to lift the steel door only a couple of inches before being shot in the shoulder by enemy fire. He grunted in pain as he fell onto his knee.
“Darek!” Revan shouted. He ceased firing and tried to help his wounded comrade back up.
“Kaylah, help him!” Jaden instructed.
She rushed to Darek’s side and used one of her potions on his bloody wound. Meanwhile, Jaden focused his energy into both hands and released a wave of energy that blew all the Centurions back.
With the Imperials incapacitated, Jaden blasted the door out of its frame, and the Champions continued their escape from the palace. Revan held Darek up over his shoulder, both struggling to keep up as the latter still struggled with his injury. They hurried across the hall until they reached the tower at the back of the palace. They all had a wide-open view of the deepest part of the mines. In the distance, a large cave sat at the end of a long road extending from the palace.
“That must be it!” Astra exclaimed.
“Let’s hurry!” Jaden said.
Suddenly, a Gorlok jumped out from the edge of the tower and let out a piercing shriek. Its scaly face and sharp teeth were a terrifying sight to behold. Jaden and Astra both recoiled in terror before the Ark Knight slashed the demon back over the edge. As they watched the Gorlok fall into the darkness below, they saw more of them crawling up the side of the tower.
Jaden fired blasts of energy down at the demons, sending them back into the ravine. Jesse shot down at the monsters, but after about a dozen more bullets, he had completely ran out of barrels. He drew out his katana, which cut through the air with a sharp whistle. He then unleashed it on a Gorlok that lunged at him from below, instantly cutting through the demon’s neck with striking force. At the same time, Astra was impaling the oncoming monsters with her rapier as Kaylah did with her spear. Darek bashed them with his sword, sending them flying into the abyss.
“Get them!” Halldor ordered from afar.
Centurions continued shooting at them from behind, but Revan kept blocking their fire with his shield while countering with a blast of energy.
The entire tower was ablaze with combat, and the Champions were at the center of it. The sound of rapid gunfire and bursts of energy echoed throughout the caves like fireworks. The demons scaling the tower were crashing down into the infernal crevasse after getting shot back down.
Eventually, the monsters stopped climbing up from the shadows, and the road ahead was clear.
“Let’s go now!” Jaden shouted.
The Champions rushed down the stairs with the Imperials still pursuing them.
“Get to the temple! Quickly!”
Everyone else sprinted towards the temple ahead while Jaden stood his ground against the remaining Imperials. Halldor and his men pointed their guns at Jaden while he drew both his swords. Astra stopped running and looked back at him, facing their enemies.
“Enough of this!” yelled Halldor. “You’re not getting away from me again!”
It was at that moment that the Malakor burst from the rubble that filled the palace’s back entrance. The beast released a crackling roar that sent a wave of terror through all of them.
The Imperials frightfully shot at the beast with what little they had left. The Malakor countered by swinging its gigantic sword through their bodies, which catapulted them through the air. As they did, Jaden’s pendant flew off the general’s neck and bounced across the dirt.
Halldor was lying on the ground before Jaden with the other dead soldiers. Blood began to seep from the large gash in his mangled stomach. Jaden looked down on the general’s multilated corpse in horror as he gaped back at him, completely petrified.
“I…can’t believe it!” Those were Halldor’s last words before the shadow of death consumed him forever.
Jaden felt the same way. The man that killed his uncle was now dead. He didn’t know how what to think at that moment. He couldn’t tell whether he was just horrified, relieved, or happy. But he didn’t have time to figure that out now, as was still the matter of the flaming shadow howling in front of him.
“Jaden!” Astra screamed, freeing him from his trance.
He picked up his necklace lying on the ground, put it in his pocket, and began running for the temple with the Malakor on his tail. The road became lined with a sea of red flames as the demon got closer.
“Come on! We have to hurry!” Astra said.
Jaden was about to make a break for the temple with Astra. However, as he looked back at the demon marching towards them, he saw that there were still three more Imperial soldiers running away from it. With their leader gone, they were no longer trying to kill the Champions. They were only trying to save their own lives. They were afraid to die.
“No…” The words seemed to have slipped out of Jaden’s mouth, along with his sense of reason. He knew going against that beast may be suicide, but he couldn’t help himself. He just couldn’t let them die.
“Jaden!” Astra screamed as she followed his stead.
“Jaden, what the hell are you doing?!” Revan shouted.
“If he goes, I go!” Jesse declared before charging into battle with his katana.
“Me too!” Kaylah followed.
“Damn it!” Revan was the last person to join the battle.
With the Astral Sword, Jaden rushed towards the Malakor and slashed it across its left side. The monster turned around and swung its blade, but before Jaden could block its sword, Astra appeared in front of him and stopped it with her own. However, the force of the demon’s pushed her across the floor. As the towering beast was about to crush her with its sword, Revan blasted the demon’s face, causing it to draw back in pain. He and Astra then rushed at the behemoth with their swords. But their attacks were barely causing any real damage to the demon at all.
This was what it had come to. Jaden knew this plan was risky. In fact, he could end up blowing his own body to pieces. But this was the only way to win.
“Guys, I need you to hold it off for a few seconds!”
Jaden had both of his swords crossed out in front of him. He then closed his eyes and focused all of his energy into his chest. All his strength, all his magic power, began to build up until it burst out all at once. He then became surrounded by a vibrant blue aura surging with electricity. His body was swelling with divine strength that rose exponentially. His eyes shined with a cosmic blue light, and his blonde hair was set a golden flare. Now fully powered up, the Ark Knight charged off the ground and raced towards the blazing inferno like a shooting star.
The Malakor brought its monolithic blade down on Astra and Darek with the strength of a comet. Jaden managed to block the devil’s sword with both of his own just in time, forcing the demon back with overwhelming power. All of his friends looked on with astonishment as his aura sent shockwaves across the bridge.
The behemoth exploded with rage as it made another downward strike. Fortunately, Jaden deflected the demon’s blade. He bolted around the Malakor with lightning-fast speed, only appearing to the naked eye in a flash of light to slash the beast with his blades. He was so swept up in the heat of combat, he could barely even see. All he saw were flashes of light and fire clashing with each other in front of him. But he still noticed the demon was catching up with his speed and defending against his attacks.
Come on! Jaden was mustering up every ounce of strength he had, desperately trying to outmatch his opponent. Even with the cuts the beast had dealt him, he still continued to fight.
He then focused his energy into his blades, transforming them into swords of burning energy. With them, Jaden unleashed a devastating assault on the Malakor. Streaks of light flew behind his swords with each attack. He could feel his power growing as it surged through his veins. His blood boiled with newfound strength; it felt like his whole body was on fire. He was actually trying to push past the limits of his own body. He could even feel himself slipping away from it.
Come on! Don’t fail me now! Though his body was quickly breaking down under the weight of his power, Jaden refused to give in to the pain. But when the Malakor parried his Dark Night Sword, he was left open for a fatal blow. As he saw its massive blade coming back around for the kill, Jaden prepared himself for one final strike.
Screaming into the face of Hell, Jaden pierced the demon’s chest with the Astral Sword, forcing it deep into its body.
The Malakor howled at the ceiling above, with flames pouring out of its body until they all extinguished. It then collapsed onto the bridge before bursting into a cloud of darkness. The beast was dead.
His shining aura vanished into particles of light that flew past his face like ashes. Jaden felt his immense energy fade away, as if his soul was leaving his body. With all his strength gone, he fell backwards with a thud, and darkness filled his eyes.