StrifeMan, after dispatching or managing the last of his problems, received orders from a new master, a new guide to tell him as he should do, where he would go, and what he should show.
Still feeling indebted to the king, no matter who should hold the throne, StrifeMan delves as he is told, to repay a kindness that could not match his own. Moving through the dusk, StrifeMan wandered, a tiny vortex of energy floating through, moving this way and that, making no sound, none, not even a single pit-pat.
Go, he was told, to search for the Graveyard. In his time below, he knew it well, a great place to rest, after an enemy to be quelled. Able to hide his presence, able to not be known, the Graveyard was a place not many would roam; but alas, today, it was not a place of refuge or of solidarity, but a place of necessity.
Going through the familiar pathways, his body still aching despite already being fully recovered, he wandered about, careful for danger, to find that which his master wished uncovered.
As StrifeMan makes his way along the winding corridors of the Undernet and towards the Graveyard, a green mist slowly begins to rise. Before long, the mist overtakes StrifeMan entirely, leaving him blind on a single pathway that seems to go far too far no matter which way he travels. Soon, even his ability to teleport or log out gives way entirely, leaving him stranded in the fog.
However, he wouldn't be lost for long.
Despite the isolation, a sudden feeling rises within StrifeMan. The feeling of a presence, one unlike any he'd ever felt before. Cold, lifeless, and probing, something is watching him.
And at the rise of this feeling, StrifeMan at last finds himself free of the green fog that had only moments before held him in place. He stands at his destination, but not the destination that he had hoped to reach; StrifeMan now wanders the twisted depths of Black Earth, the original network of truly profound darkness.
Everywhere he looks, StrifeMan now feels evils far greater than his own deepest and most twisted desires and thoughts. It's here, amid the darkness, that he now stands lost and completely devoid of anyone to make contact with, yet not alone. Never alone.
The green mists confused and confounded StrifeMan, but he did not let them waver him. The capricious fool continued onward, until it seemed that he was unable to move at all, and still, he muttered strange rantings and talked to himself, and itself, and themself, and that particular self, to keep himself and all the other selves involved company.
It was as the fog faded away, however, that something truly vile, something truly dark and evil, set into the space around him. The Network warped and faded, into a dark reflection of the Net, no, the very reality he knew; the Black Earth. Such a devoid space, of seemingly endless desolation and carnal instinct, perpetuated the darkness within StrifeMan's own hearts and then surpassed them, each of them, multitudes over.
The imprisoned benefactor within his code seemed especially shunned by this space, StrifeMan's light dimming from without and within, as he was subject to the darkness all around. Imprisoned for five years inside the Undernet before, StrifeMan did not enjoy the thought of once again being forced into isolation; not a single soul within their code found this amusing.
". . . StrifeMan cometh, to any who may occupy this strange space. Out of place, StrifeMan will not fear to face, that which comes, which knows not the meaning of grace."
The fractured soul makes his way forward, ever watchful, ever careful.
Watchful eyes see no danger, vigilant ears head no warnings. Yet within StrifeMan's soul, everything within him screams out for the danger that he's in. Something is here, something watching, something is coming, and the uncaring pathways of Black Earth stretch on, mocking the broken Navi with no end in sight.
Each of their souls, every one of them, cried out that something was amiss; that something did not sit quite right. StrifeMan's soul code was so perturbed, that the individual navis that made them up sought refuge from within the prison to their outer form, the vortex of energy that made up his shape constantly causing a change in their appearance, as amalgamations of the navis that comprised them made their way out from within. The constantly shifting forms slowed them down a bit, and showed with certainty the fear that gripped onto the otherwise stoic, albeit crazed, Navi.
As they turned this way and that, different visages, a veritable menagerie of monstrous forms, took over his body, until StrifeMan called out again, feigning certainty. The stoic protector of the Undernet felt quite alone, trapped with just their numerous thoughts and the prying eyes, and it was getting to them, their multi-faceted soul code particularly in danger amidst the evil.
"Reveal thyself, StrifeMan declares! There will be no fear, from here, for StrifeMan can withstand your stares!" they screeched into the void, a bird's beak overcome by a lupine snout, as it continued to bark: "We can handle all that you may send, StrifeMan is not wont to bend, lest it be to break a back of the snake that stand against he! So come forward, StrifeMan dares! Lest leave him, from these vacant stares!"
...and then, at last, it breaks. Reacting to StrifeMan's screams into the void, the lingering feeling of danger breaks and leaves StrifeMan alone amid the absolute silence of the darkness. Alone... save one.
Footsteps break the hush of this evil-soaked land, quietly resonating with an echo from a position before StrifeMan, yet nothing can be seen. Slowly, the sound grows louder and louder as the unseen one grows ever closer. Soon, it's so close that StrifeMan knows that he's well within striking distance for virtually any Navi. Whatever this presence is, it could literally kill him at any moment. And the feeling... with each step growing closer and closer the dread soon returns, but it's somehow more focused, as if something in StrifeMan's heart recognized this source of absolute darkness without ever laying eyes on it.
Could this be Nebula Grey? No, the corruptor of Soul Net was no longer free. The Lord of Chaos? While the feeling is remarkably close, it simply can't quite compare to this. Maybe.... Forte? No, this lacked the rising hatred and the grandeur of the original Navi's entrances, yet it in no way lacked the authority. This was something new... or, perhaps, something old...
Finally, they appear. Shining out from the darkness, a pair of blood red eyes peer out from nothing. In them is a total lack of agency and will, as if entirely lifeless and without desire. Below them, a single foot breaks from the unseen as well, and soon the whole Navi begins to take place as if stepping out from a wall of black smoke.
A simple Navi in design, remarkably so in fact. Most would mistake him for a customized normal Navi at a glance. His body is sleek and covered in a dark, gray-tinted body suit that terminates into black and silver bits of armor on his hands, feet, shoulders, and the center of his chest. His lifeless, red eyes look on to StrifeMan above a black mask that covers his lower face and has a rectangular patch that rises from his neck to just below where his nose should be beneath the covering. Finally, the last detail makes light as his Navi symbol comes into focus. Normally bright red to represent his strength and fortitude, a symbol of kin to a highly stylized "H" stares out at StrifeMan in a sickly blue color, representing the sheer corruption that it took to reach this point.
Before StrifeMan stands the lost Legend of times far gone. The single most defining Navi of his time, who casts a shadow that even the legends of this day fight to escape from. And with a swipe of his arm to the side in order to generate a Dark Sword that sparks with an intense black glow, he now makes his intent clear.
Finally, the overwhelming presence faded, and StrifeMan felt at peace - save all from but one point, where the darkness parted, and an adversary both familiar and yet not quite right breached the scene. The metal of his boots keened against the dark land, and StrifeMan was forced to recognize the altogether and yet absolutely unique darkness that flowed from him. As the adversary arrived, StrifeMan finally found himself at ease - conflict, and malignance, were things he understood.
The eyes of a predator narrowed down as StrifeMan finally was able to select a form to stick to, the demon within budding out from his body, as callous, dust-colored skin radiated outward from his chest. The black engravings along his chest seared a deep red, smoke coiling off of his flesh, as bone spires protruded from his shoulders, and menacing, monstrous claws replaced his hands entirely. The muscular visage of the terror that resided within his soul code, however, did not intrude upon StrifeMan's form, alone.
StrifeMan's face warped into the shape of the demon within, the haunting fiend's forehead elongating into mighty horns, but from his eyes flooded undaunted light, attempting to beat out the darkness that tried to overwhelm StrifeMan's mood. A halo of energy burst into radiance above his head, cut in twain by a shroud of darkness, as a pair of contravening wings, one angelic and peaceful, the other unruly and dark, sprouted from his back, the shattered soul's truth revealed.
His body fully adopting this dichotomy, StrifeMan eventually warped into a half-angelic, half-demonic form, as beautiful and regal as it was brutal and terrifying. Staring down the legend that approached them, StrifeMan considered the form he was finally able to settle on; a shape he had not donned in so long, it felt almost strange to recognize the seriousness with which he held this confrontation.
They knew of the being that was from legend, they did, but the legend that was told is so often of the wonders that he bid. Here, there was not a being spreading wonder, but a tyrant looking upon StrifeMan like he were but another treasure to plunder. The motion of the sword was impossible to be ignored - to fight, was the message that was implored.
". . . You wear a face StrifeMan remembers, and yet it was not one we dismembered. Old, and yet unknown; stoic, and yet a reflected truth . . . darkness lies beneath every heart. StrifeMan knows this fact, well, in part," he capered on, looking him over, raising a clawed hand that radiated with dark energy, intermingled with overwhelming light. "You wish to fight with StrifeMan?"
MegaMan reflects no reaction to StrifeMan's show of force, instead looking on with unblinking eyes locked as slowly he begins to walk forward again. He shows no apprehension, no care for the show that the broken Navi puts on. Nor does he show any recognition of StrifeMan's words, or even his very being. As MegaMan walks forward, it's not as if he's approaching another Navi, but rather a lifeless obstacle. An obstacle that he would soon put an end to.
And this would be when another change happens. Not far behind where MegaMan now walks, a portal opens up and a form cloaked in black appears. The Navi, barely visible at all, dashes to the side and motions to StrifeMan and the portal while keeping his attention on MegaMan, who either fails to notice him or outright ignores him for whatever reason...
Unheeding them entirely, the Dark Megaman approached StrifeMan and regarded them as though they were a nuisance; something in his way that he would remove. StrifeMan faltered a moment, and took a step backwards, just in time to see another figure cloaked in darkness appear from a portal behind Dark Megaman.
They narrowed their gaze at this strange occurence, trying to determine why the Dark Megaman was ignoring this new arrival, as well as StrifeMan, themselves, it seemed. The Black Earth was a good place for tricks, and for things that did not make sense, and things that were not as they seemed, or seemingly seeing things as other things, indeed! They had to be careful, lest they fall prey to something. StrifeMan decided to move slowly, stepping out of the way of the Dark Megaman's advance, creeping towards the new comer, without making a mad dash towards either option, just to see how the two entities responded.
MegaMan's unblinking eyes remain locked onto StrifeMan as he continues his slow, deliberate walk towards the corrupted Navi. He doesn't speed up or attempt to get in the way, instead just changes his trajectory to continue towards his goal, allowing StrifeMan just enough room to slip past.
The shadowed Navi, meanwhile, nods his head to StrifeMan and slowly backs away from MegaMan, still giving the legend the breadth needed to not confront him. In the portal, StrifeMan would clearly be able to see the Undersquare as the destination.
If it was simply upset that StrifeMan was in its home, and the other seemed intent on rescuing him from it, then StrifeMan saw no other recourse than to carefully and slowly slip past it, making his way towards the portal as the hooded figure beckoned him.
StrifeMan attempted using the portal to exit through to the Undernet Square.
As StrifeMan finally reaches the portal, MegaMan.EXE finally stops and holds his Dark Sword dead at his side, staring on lifelessly and wordlessly while allowing his would-be target to escape.
...the shaded Navi, meanwhile, slowly moves between StrifeMan and MegaMan.EXE before backing into the portal, never taking his eyes off of the legend for a second. After StrifeMan makes his way through and reaches the Undersquare, the silent Navi joins him and closes the portal as soon as he possibly can. At this, the shadow that covers him drops to reveal a set of golden, light-weight knight-like armor with a royal blue chestplate and details. Taking a deep breath, the Navi turns his eyes to StrifeMan and gives him a stern look before walking away wordlessly.
Settling back into the Undernet Square, StrifeMan turned and watched as the shadow fell, and a figure that StrifeMan did not recognize formed. Who was this man, that would come and stand against a Legend, and would come to StrifeMan's rescue, no less, even when he knew him not, he had to confess!
"StrifeMan understands what has happened not! Can you explain, with what you must have thought? Why was the Graveyard not where it were, the place we should go to our dead inter? And why was that legend so intent on just us leaving, when it could have used its sword for cleaving? Who are you, and why have you come, to save StrifeMan, from what was a death quite gruesome?"
With a glance over his shoulder, the Navi puts his hand to the side and forms a dual-sided pike, with each end glowing brightly against the darkness. He eyes StrifeMan for a few seconds before re-summoning his shadowy cloak, slashing his weapon downwards to open a new gateway to Black Earth, and stepping in wordlessly before closing the portal behind himself.
Last Edit: Sept 10, 2022 19:58:07 GMT -8 by Raven8
The individual shared a staring contest with StrifeMan before he left, one which StrifeMan was quite certain StrifeMan had won, but did not answer StrifeMan's question. How unhelpful! As well, they seemed intent on traveling back to Black Earth. Why were they welcome there, but not he?
He had many questions, and no answers for any of them, least of all the question that Xion had sent them here to query! He supposed that wasn't quite true, of course, as the lack of an answer to the correct question did not mean that he had no answers at all . . . no, no, he had an answer to a question he was never asked, that's all!
Returned to the Undernet, StrifeMan went on his way away from the place he was forced to go astray. He would return to his vigil, as was his thing, until it was time that he would be needed again by his king! Until then, StrifeMan would stand, even as he had nothing to reprimand . . .
. . . Already, he walked a little bit slower, not because of the agony he kept himself in, but because of the boredom, he was unprepared to endure.