By Saint Erythros 


For a very brief moment, Jadeite felt himself die. 
Then Reality reasserted itself, and he was free to savor existence again. 
"Get up," said a voice. 
Jadeite grumbled.  He didn't want to get up, and he wasn't going to if he didn't 
damn well feel like it. 
"Get up," repeated the voice. 
"Go away," Jadeite said.  He turned over, and promptly muffled a shriek of pain. 
 His entire midriff and chest felt like it had been charred then rubbed over 
with sandpaper. 
"Jadeite," said the voice, absolutely dripping with detached serpentine 
truthfulness, "if you do not get up this instant I shall leave you to the lesser 
demons.  Do you understand?" 
Jadeite got up as quickly as he was able to do so.  He recognized the deep 
sibilant baritone now: the voice of the Dai Shahre. 
He couldn't see anything worth a damn: the surrounding landscape (if that's what 
you wanted to call it) was a cold mist of nothingness.  There wasn't even a 
color: not black, not gray, not white, not purple.  It was simply -- 
nothingness.  Jadeite couldn't even see his body, which was beginning to scare 
him.  No sooner had this thought crossed his mind, however, when he was able to 
ascertain various colors swirling around where he assumed his body to be; when 
the colors coalesced into firm substance, Jadeite saw, to his relief, that his 
body was again visible, standing on/in/surrounded by nothing. 
The Dai Shahre materialized to his left.  The Shondarin warlord was still 
wearing that damned heavy cloak that enveloped him from throat to floor (?); 
even though Jadeite was practically broiling from the acrid heat, the Dai Shahre 
was shivering, as if in severe cold.  The staff upon which the crippled warlord 
habitually leaned was gone; Jadeite was too preoccupied with his pain and his 
shock to think about this. 
"Where are we?" Jadeite managed. 
The Dai Shahre smiled.  It was a real smile, one that looked actually happy.  
This scared the crap out of Jadeite.  The Dai Shahre wasn't the sort of man who 
smiled about anything. 
"We are in the Void," said the Dai Shahre. 

Sailoruranus opened her eyes, reached up a hand to find out what the sticky 
stuff on her face might be. 
She brought away her hand gooey purple.  It wasn't her blood then; as far she 
could recall, human blood was red. 
She raised herself up, looking around for Sailormoon.  The Princess had to be 
kept safe; Uranus hated herself for it, but she would willingly sacrifice even 
her beloved Michiru if by that means the Moon Princess could be kept free of 
Uranus shakily stood, noted that she was literally covered in purple blood.  
Most of it had dried to a thick clotty gooey mess of deep rich imperial purple; 
some of it was still fresh, slimily coursing its way down her body.  Her Space 
Sword was also rimed with gore; however, some of it was red.  Oh, terrific.  
Which one of my girls did I accidentally hit during that quake? 
Leaning against the stone wall, Uranus looked around, focussing her blurry 
vision on a point that glowed crimson, towards the center of the chamber.  As 
more details swam into her vision, Uranus smiled weakly.  She'd found both of 
the people for whom she was searching: Sailormoon and Sailorneptune. 
Painfully, Uranus limped towards the dimly-scarlet plinth.  She noted in passing 
that there were a helluva lot of black-clad bodies on the floor.  She only 
cared, or indeed noticed, because they presented an obstacle course between her 
and her destination. 
Finally, she reached the plinth and the Senshi.  Everyone was there:  Venus and 
Mars sitting weakly on the ground, talking to a copper-maned, androgynously 
beautiful young man; Jupiter and a white-haired white-cloaked man with a grim 
expression stood watch over the small group on the floor; Mercury, the winged 
Eternal Sailormoon, and Neptune clustered around the body of a young woman whose 
throat had been torn open by a sharp blade.  Kneeling by the girl, eyeing the 
three Senshi with annoyance, was a golden-skinned, black-clad  man with eyes of 
sapphire ice. 
Veteran of wounds and war though she was, Uranus couldn't help but gag at the 
sight of the gash in the girl's throat. 
Neptune looked up at her, wearily brushing away aqua-colored hair from her brow. 
 "Hello, love," Neptune sighed.  "None of that blood is yours, correct?" 
Uranus spared a glance down at herself.  She grinned.  "Nope.  All purple, 
therefore it all belongs to the flippin' Silver Flames." 
The golden-skinned man looked up at that.  "How clever of you," he said 
tonelessly.  The words carried a bite that stung, even though Uranus could have 
sworn that the man didn't change expression.  "You wear the lifeblood of four of 
my comrades.  Would you like me to claim blood-price on it?" 
Uranus glared.  "If you think you can take it," she challenged him. 
Neptune winced.  "Please, love," she said softly.  She laid a placating hand on 
her impetuous lover's arm.  "We can't heal the Princess if kel'Dhearec is not 
here to act as anchor." 
Automatically, Uranus looked at Sailormoon, who, aside from a small gash on her 
cheek, seemed to be unharmed.  "But the Princess is fine," Uranus said, puzzled. 

"That Princess," Neptune said, pointing at the prone golden body of the girl. 
"She's dead," Uranus said bluntly.  "She can't not be." 
"She's not dead," said Dhearec.  "A very interesting case.  Her body ought to be 
dead, but her soul won't go away.  Dai'Merolan shall not be happy." 
"Oh, who gives a damn," Uranus muttered. She knelt by the golden woman, caught 
in her breath as she looked at the still face for the first time.  "I'll...  
be.... damned," she said at last.  "Amaterasu." 
Dhearec said, "Who?" 
"It's not Amaterasu," said two voices at once, both extremely irritated.  Tuxedo 
Kamen gestured for Kunzite to speak first; the silver-haired general nodded his 
"The girl is not the Imperial Goddess," Kunzite said coldly.  "She's one of 
them."  He nodded towards Dhearec, the gesture somehow managing to encompass 
every black-clad Silver Flame in the Dark Kingdom.  "And I'd like to know what 
she's done that the Warlord struck her down." 
Dhearec didn't answer; ostensibly he was running through a Healing matrix, 
trying to coax the spell into infusing the lifeless body with new energy. 
Sailormoon piped up, "Yes.  Why'd that guy kill her, anyway?  I mean, just cuz 
he was gorgeous didn't mean that he's allowed to kill poor defenseless girls --" 

"I'm sorry?" said Tuxedo Kamen, looking down at his love.  "What was that 
"Nothing," said Moon, trying to look innocent.  "Nothing at all." 
"Well, I'm free to say that he was beautiful," declared Venus, eyes sparkling. 
"He looked just like my sempai," sighed Jupiter, momentarily relaxing her 
imposing scowl at anyone who ventured too close to Sailormoon. 
Zoisite snorted indelicately.  "If he looked like your sempai, or to be more 
accurate if your sempai looked like him," said the copper-maned general, "I'll 
eat my hat." 
He ducked as Jupiter's face clouded over and she aimed a not-entirely-playful 
punch at his shoulder.  "Smartass," she growled under her breath.  "He did look 
like my sempai." 
"Yes, well," said Uranus, covering a sigh.  "I'd just like to ask a few 
"Go right straight on ahead," said Zoisite.  "Me being the most intelligent, 
wonderful, gorgeous, flawless person here, I shall answer them.  That is, if 
Kunzaito-sama won't."  He gazed up at his lover from under impossibly long 
golden lashes; Kunzite smiled in spite of himself and lovingly stroked Zoisite's 
coppery tresses. 
"First question: what in hell just happened?" 
Dhearec spoke up immediately.  "As soon as the Dai Shahre touched the sigil of 
Amberlin Jalia, which Jadeite wore on his coat, Reality twisted, taking with it 
the Dai Shahre, Jadeite, and the ArchDemon." 
"Why?" asked Zoisite. 
"Why not?" 
Zoisite glared at Dhearec; the azure-eyed Shondarin returned the gaze blandly, 
and said, "The Dai Shahre is a holy man. Did you not see how he greeted the 
Senshi as if he knew them intimately, how he named them as members of the Host 
of Heaven? He is the very antithesis of a demon; all of Shondar knows this. For 
him to actually come into contact with an ArchDemon would necessarily throw both 
of them into the Void, where presumably the Dai Shahre fights the ArchDemon 
where they can both unleash their full power." He frowned down at Amberlin 
Jalia. But if the Dai Shahre is holy, a voice in his mind argued coldly, then 
how could he strike down a girl whom most believe to be a Saint reborn? He 
stuffed the irrelevancy behind his eyebrows and concentrated on his task. 
Zoisite said, "Um, yes." 
Moon said, "I don't care what just happened, all I want to know is: Is that 
nasty piece-of-work Metallia gone for good?" 
"Probably," said Dhearec. 
"PROBABLY?" screamed Sailormars.  "What the hell is 'PROBABLY?'  Why don't you 
Uranus cut in: "Will all of you shut up!  I want to know if we can leave!" 
Everyone stared at her.  She said thinly, "Look.  This is not Senshi business.  
The evil is gone.  Can't you feel that the air in here is already cleansed?  
Can't you see that the evil taint is gone from this chamber?" 
"Well, yeah," said Moon. 
"Yes," said Mars.  "I noticed that straightaway.  Why is it important?  We've 
already established that Metallia's gone.  Good riddance." 
"If the evil is gone, then I want to get out of here before I start killing 
Silver Flames," Uranus said.  "They seriously pissed me off, and I just want to 
say that if I have to look at many more of them, I'm gonna start killing anyone 
wearing a black coat." 
Dhearec glanced down at his uniform, and without batting an eyelash changed his 
coat to gray. 
"Oh, that's hilarious," snapped Uranus.  "Clever as hell, you are.  Sailormoon.  
Can we or can we not go home and get the hell outta here?" 
Sailormoon bit her lip.  "I don't want her to die," she said finally, indicating 
the fallen Princess Amberlin Jalia.  "She was an innocent, and it's not right 
that she should die." 
Dhearec said tonelessly, "The Dai Shahre declared her sacer and nefas, and 
therefore by Shondarin law she was dead in any case.  He merely carried out the 
sentence." He seemed to be trying to convince himself of this; certainly, his 
hands never stopped moving over Amberlin Jalia's body, trying out Healing spell 
after spell. 
"To hell with your law," Sailormoon said crossly.  "I'm not gonna let her die, 
you jerk." 
Uranus thought she saw Dhearec hide a smile.  "Be that as it may," the Madros 
lord said, "there really isn't anything you can do about it, Sailormoon.  I 
suggest that you take Sailoruranus' suggestion and get out of the Dark Kingdom 
immediately.  Children do not belong on the battlefield." 
"Battlefield?" Zoisite said.  "The battle, if you want to call it that, is OVER, 
Shondarin.  Didja notice?" 
"The battle has not started yet," Dhearec said.  "If you haven't noticed, Lord 
Zoisite, the last act that Metallia made was to reestablish Its links to the 
youma.  I should imagine that every single elemental spirit in the Dark Kingdom 
should be on its way to attack the Silver Flame outposts.  However strong your 
powers are, you will certainly not be exempt, and we cannot spare any soldiers 
to protect you.  Or, more accurately, we will spare soldiers to protect you, as 
the safety of children is paramount, but we can ill afford to take those 
fighters away from the front." 
"Great," said Uranus.  "We're gone, as soon as Sailormoon gives the OK." 
"Lords Kunzite and Zoisite," Dhearec said, momentarily giving up with his 
attempts to revive Amberlin Jalia.  "You will wish to go with the Senshi, of 
Zoisite and Kunzite glanced at each other.  Zoisite spoke for both of them:  "No 
way in hell." 
"I beg your pardon?" 
"I said, NO, you pompous young snot," Zoisite explained kindly.  "Once you 
Silver Flames get out, we're going to have to help Jadeite with the Dark 
Kingdom, now won't we, and we really don't feel like leaving the kingdom in your 
less-than-capable hands.  Knowing you aliens, you'll probably find some way to 
sabotage the midplane so that as soon as the last of you gets out, it'll 
collapse around our ears." 
Dhearec was silent a moment, looking thoughtful.  "How interesting.  Is that how 
you think of us?" 
Zoisite grinned nastily.  "It certainly is, Dhearec-san.  So go ahead and get 
the Senshi out of here.  Kunzaito-sama and I will stay and fight.  It's been 
quite some time since I got to kill demons." 
The Senshi all looked surprised at this, even though Zoisite and Kunzite had 
already told them about their rebirths as Endymion's Lord Generals.  The Senshi 
had been inclined to take this with a grain of salt; Tuxedo Kamen had had to dip 
into his memories of the Silver Millennium to persuade the Senshi that Kunzite 
and Zoisite were telling the truth.  Mars had grudgingly pronounced both of them 
free of any evil taint, and that had been the end of the matter, even though 
Moon and Venus still darted suspicious glances at the two Lord Generals from 
time to time. 
Venus said wistfully, "I want to stay, too.  I wanna kick some youma butt." 
Moon hushed her. 
"Well, I do," Venus persisted.  Jupiter was beginning to look interested.  
Sailor Venus went on, "Shee, think about how long it's been since we've fought 
against anyone really cool.  There was that business with Galaxia, and before 
that with Nehelenia, and before that with the Deathbusters, and before that with 
Dimando and the Black Moon --" 
"Dimando looked just like my sempai," sighed Jupiter.  "Only he had a purple 
cape, and I can't remember my sempai ever wearing --" 
Uranus roared, "Will the pair of you shut up?  Honestly, the amount of nonsense 
you two spout is likely to drive me maaaaaaaad." 
Kunzite took advantage of the thunderstruck silence to say, "Sailoruranus is 
correct.  The Senshi and Prince Endymion -- "  Kunzite could not quite bring 
himself to say 'Tuxedo Kamen' -- "must leave; we will stay behind and fight with 
the Silver Flames." 
A few seconds of silence greeted this rather high-handed decree; then every 
single Senshi opened her mouth and the uproar began. 

After a couple of moments spent looking around in hopes of any ground markers so 
he could soothe his roiling stomach, Jadeite gave up.  It gave him a distinctly 
creepy feeling to be standing in the middle of nowhere.  It was like the 
ultimate in sensory deprivation.  It was, in fact, a helluva lot like his 
experience in the crystal.  He was feeling very very edgy. 
So of course the Dai Shahre's observations about the Void were not at all 
"This is the primary plane of the demons," dai'Merolan said.  It didn't help 
Jadeite's already-queasy stomach to see that dai'Merolan was standing on a 
different plane altogether, and thus appeared at right angles to Jadeite.  The 
general thought crossly that the Dai Shahre was trying to freak him out on 
purpose, even though he knew that dai'Merolan was doing nothing of the sort.  
The Shondarin warlord was far too self-centered to play nasty psychological 
tricks on people; Merolan was simply far too absorbed in what he was doing to 
think of people as being important enough to be nasty to. 
"We were brought here when I touched you, and my touch freed Metallia Who was 
channeling through you." 
"Why did your touch free an ArchDemon?" Jadeite said. "Something about how 
Aneiron was going on, that you're some sort of living Saint, or whatever he was 
saying? Must be interesting," he murmured sarcastically, "being a living god." 
He closed his eyes in the futile hope that the loss of vision might stem his 
nausea.  Amazingly, it worked. 
He could practically hear the bitter smile in the Dai Shahre's voice.  "Because 
I am Awake now, Jadeite, and, being Awake, my will is stronger than that of an 
Jadeite puzzled over this for a moment.  Well, whatever. Aneiron had never 
mentioned that, but it probably wasn't the sort of thing that just popped up in 
conversation... "So how do we get out of the Void?"  He thought of another 
interesting question.  "So Metallia is stuck here forever?  She -- I mean, It 
can't get out again?" 
dai'Merolan said calmly, "Metallia is here, yes; I still must change Its Name so 
It will feel less inclined to get out again.  As for ourselves getting out, we 
will not leave until I am finished." 
This was too much.  "I don't recall asking to be brought along on your 
vendetta," Jadeite said coldly, his eyes still closed.  "I wish to return to the 
Dark Kingdom at once." 
"Do you dictate to me, now?"  the Dai Shahre asked softly.  "I don't believe it 
would be wise, under the circumstances." 
Jadeite's eyes flared open, in a flash of sapphire fury.  "Well, explain to me 
these circumstances, explicitly, and stop giving me Gaia-be-damned hints.  You 
swore an oath to me, Dai Shahre, and I -- will -- not -- tolerate being treated 
as an infant.  D'you hear me?  I'll not tolerate you lording over me the way you 
manipulate Aneiron and Dhearec!" 
The Dai Shahre looked unimpressed.  "This is the Void," he said patiently.  "I 
believe I already explained that.  We are here in the flesh, which means that 
our bodies are physically present in this continuum, instead of our souls.  We 
have phased over into a different concept of Reality.  To wit, the Mer'Eliy 
reality.  Everything in this realm must obey the will of the ArchDemons and the 
ShadowPrince.  At this moment, there are literally countless lesser demons 
surrounding us in their native forms, swirls of chaotic thought and memes.  
Allaphors, if you will.  You will know the greater demons, those who are 
intelligent enough to have a self-identity, a name, and a gender, by their very 
substance: a greater demon can form its self into whatever shape it chooses, 
instead of being forced to subsist as a strand of Shadowy chaos.  The ArchDemons 
usually choose a recognizable mortal form; the ShadowPrince always incarnates 
Himself as a Shondarin, usually with columnar black eyes.  This realm is 
governed by chaos and by Shadow; your mind tries to make sense of it, and 
eventually goes mad." 
Jadeite digested this.  Finally he said, "Charming place." 
"It takes some getting used to," the Dai Shahre said cheerfully.  "Don't worry.  
You will not go insane for quite some time, since you have, as you say, sworn an 
oath to me.  Therefore, the Insanity imps will leave you alone unless I abandon 
Jadeite eyed him.  Perhaps he was mad already.  Certainly he seemed to have 
jumped from his usual somber, irritable self to ....  well, Jadeite wasn't sure 
how to characterize it.  In any other man, it would have translated as good 
humor.  In dai'Merolan, it seemed like almost manic insanity. 
"I am not mad," dai'Merolan said, apparently hearing his thoughts.  "And yes, I 
am reading your mind.  I told you, I am Awake now.  And as such, I have some 
influence on the Void."  He laughed.  "Come.  We are going to change Metallia's 
Name.  Or, rather, we shall change the Name of ArchDemon Wedxarxis.  Before we 
found ourselves here, the ArchDemon confessed to being the ArchDemon of Hatred." 

Jadeite stared at him.  "You are completely nuts," he said. 
dai'Merolan began shimmering in the throes of a teleport.  "You had better hope 
not, Lord Jadeite," he said mockingly.  "If I am, you had best give up to the 
lesser imps now, as they are a great deal less intelligent as I am.  And a great 
deal less ...  creative.  Why do you think I keep around Xer'Dun?" 
Jadeite shuddered.  He was beginning to wish that Aneiron had never cracked open 
his crystal.  As bad as sensory deprivation had been, surely this was worse.  He 
walked over to the Dai Shahre, permitted himself to be drawn close to the taller 
man's body, shut his eyes as the teleport took place. 

"ENOUGH," said Kunzite firmly.  "Enough, I said!" 
The tumult of noise that had gone on stopped as if cut off by a sound-proof 
curtain descending from the ceiling. 
The silver-haired general breathed a sigh of relief.  Blessed silence.  As 
welcome as seeing the Senshi again was, hearing them again was another matter 
entirely.  He'd either forgotten or chosen to block out how noisy teenage girls 
could be.  But then, as a Lord General of Imperial Terra, he had very rarely 
come in contact with teenage girls anyway, even the Senshi. 
"What makes you think you have the right to tell us what to do?" Sailormoon said 
at last, folding her arms over her chest.  "I am the Princess of the Moon, and 
you are merely a Lord General of Earth.  A former Lord General, anyway.  You 
don't have any right to command me."  She paused, and added, "Or any of my 
Uranus said nothing, but stood behind Sailormoon and glared, her chin up 
Dhearec shook his head, stood up.  He left the Senshi and the two Earth generals 
to their quarrel and picked his way through the bodies of dead Silver Flames to 
the entrance of the chamber. 
The massive rip in Reality that had followed Metallia's departure had shaken the 
Senshi, Dhearec, and those close to the plinth itself: Metallia's prison had 
been the eye of the storm, so to speak.  But all around the plinth had raged 
uncontrollable Chaos.  Almost every single Silver Flame in the chamber of 
Metalla, besides Dhearec, Feriom, Kwedja, Xer'Dun, and Aneiron, had died.  
Dhearec had sent Aneiron and the rest out of the chamber after it was discovered 
that Metallia was gone, and with It, the Dai Shahre and Jadeite.  He had had the 
presence of mind to shield the lifeless body of the Princess from the sight of 
his fellow soldiers; Dhearec felt that, at that particular moment, it would have 
been too much for them to handle that the Rose of the Sun was apparently dead. 
Dhearec stepped out of the chamber and Sent out into the gloom, [FERIOM.  
The brown young man stepped neatly out of his teleport vortex, saluted.  
"de'Dhearec, the youma are all closing on this point.  We've withdrawn to a 
Legional-surround formation, with the Tenth, Fifth, Eighth, and Seventh on the 
outside, and the Second, Third, Fourth, and Ninth on the inside."  Not mentioned 
were the First and the Sixth Legions; the First, because the First Legion of the 
Silver Flames was back in Shondar, patrolling the city of Erian.  A good half of 
the Sixth Legion had been inside the chamber of Metallia.  And, to a man, they 
had died: all 2,514 of them.  Even Feriom's primus pilum centurion G'Nessarit 
had died. 
Dhearec thought over Feriom's arrangement of the troops, nodded.  "Commendable.  
I assume that they are staggered-formation, in blocks of Ledo's Sqaure inside 
their cohorts.  Yes?  Good.  The mages are distributed evenly, and the heralds 
and Patterners are in star-matrix positions?  Very good.  There seems to be 
nothing that you have forgotten."  He paused, looked almost human in the worry 
that flitted across his sapphire-ice eyes.  "Where is Aneiron?" 
Feriom sneered; even under the black veil, Dhearec could still make out the 
expression of disdain.  "Oh, him.  Shall I send him to you, de'Dhearec?  He's 
off on one of his tangents again." 
Dhearec stared coldly at the brown man.  "de'Aneiron," he said, voice rimed in 
ice, "is worth sixty of you.  Send him to me, by all means." 
He turned on his heel and went back into Metallia's chamber. 
The Senshi and the Lord Generals were blessedly quieter now, talking in low, 
serious tones.  As he approached, stepping over the piled-up bodies of three 
Silver Flames, Sailormoon and Lord Kunzite turned to him. 
Kunzite spoke first, a bit dryly:  "We have reached an agreement.  All of us 
will stay to help you fight against the youma." 
"Fine," said Dhearec.  "Then you will all stay in here until I tell you that you 
may leave." 
Sailoruranus gritted her teeth.  "But then we can't fight!  The youma are out 
"Very good," Dhearec told her.  "You can think.  I had been beginning to wonder. 
 And yes, you are correct.  You will not fight.  You are children.  Children do 
not belong on a battlefield." 
Uranus said tightly, "We are soldiers.  We are the Sailor Senshi, we're 
soldiers, it's part of the name." 
"Ridiculous," Dhearec retorted.  "The very word 'soldier' presupposes an army of 
which the soldier is a member.  You have no army, Sailoruranus.  You are not 
soldiers.  At best, you children are merely guerrilla warriors.  At worst, you 
are free-lance fighters.  But you are not soldiers.  No, you are not.  Without 
an army to back up your claim, Sailoruranus, you are unable to claim the proud 
title of soldier.  You are merely a child with a short skirt, a short sword, and 
a short temper.  Do not try my patience with you; by allowing you to stay here 
at all, I run the risk of angering the Dai Shahre when he returns." 
Zoisite snickered, very audibly.  Uranus turned to him with murder in her eyes.  
If Neptune and Kunzite hadn't stepped between them, some serious stuff might 
have happened. 
Dhearec was distracted by a redheaded blur that hurtled into the chamber, 
crossed over the piles of bodies strewn about the floor by the simple expedient 
of skimming through the air over them, and literally flung himself into 
Dhearec's arms. 
Aneiron buried his face in Dhearec's shirt and wept.  Dhearec gently stroked his 
hair, speaking to him soothingly in Shondarin, and glared over Aneiron's head at 
the open-mouthed Senshi.  Zoisite was smirking from ear to ear. 
"It's all right, k'jiss, it's all right," Dhearec murmured.  "Only one 
half-legion, k'jiss, k'jiss, my soul.  It is all right.  We have lost worse.  
Don't weep, my soul, k'jiss.  It's all right." 
Sailormoon stared at them both as if they were crazy.  Dhearec glared hard at 
her, and she blushed and turned away.  The rest of the Senshi followed suit, as 
did Tuxedo Kamen; Zoisite quite openly leered at them, grinning smugly.  Not 
even Kunzite's whisper of "Don't be rude, love," could turn away the 
copper-haired man. 
Gradually, Aneiron's tears lessened and then stopped altogether; he pulled his 
face away from Dhearec's now-wet shirtfront, and looked up at his partner.  "The 
entire half of the Sixth is dead," he said, in a surprisingly normal tone of 
voice.  Flat and cold.  His poison-green eyes gleamed.  "Poor Amberlin Jalia is 
dead, isn't she."  It was not a question; Dhearec merely nodded.  "And I suppose 
that the Dai Shahre and Lord Jadeite are gone with the ArchDemon, aren't they."  
Dhearec nodded again. 
Aneiron's momentary calm broke again.  "AND YOU WONDER WHY I'M CRYING?"  He 
burst into tears again, pressing his face into Dhearec's comforting bulk. 
Dhearec shook him by the shoulders, but gently; he said, "Aneiron, k'jiss, stop 
it.  Amberlin Jalia is not dead, she is merely gone." 
"But you said," Aneiron started through a haze of red-tinged tears. 
"I said no such thing.  You did.  Hush and listen.  The Rose of the Sun is not 
dead; she is merely gone for awhile.  I imagine that she will not be permitted 
to die until the Soul of Shondar is finished with her.  And as for the Sixth 
Legion -- well, we will need to stagger in the remaining half of it with the 
other Legions.  Instead of having nine full-strength legions, we will have eight 
slightly over-full ones.  It will not make much of a difference, in any case: 
against a large, disorganized army like the youma mobs, we will need slightly 
smaller troop divisions." 
Aneiron blew his nose on Dhearec's handkercheif, then released him, and began to 
think out loud.  "Then we're gonna need, not maniples -- that's too small -- 
we're going to need the troops divided by cohort.  That's the only division 
small enough to be easily wielded, and big enough to make a dent against a mob.  
"Yes," said Dhearec.  He brushed ineffectually at his sopping wet shirt and gave 
up.  It was better that Aneiron got rid of his grief and shock at once; now that 
he had gotten all of that out of his system, the tiny redhead could focus on the 
job at hand.  Which was quite all right with Dhearec: Dhearec could handle 
tactics and other quaestor-like jobs, like the accounting and organization of 
troops, but Aneiron was the strategist.  In fact, in the Dai Shahre's absence, 
Aneiron was the Old Man himself, the commanding officer.  In that at least, 
Dhearec was willing to acknowledge that Aneiron was the dominant half of their 
Zoisite cleared his throat exaggeratedly; Moon peeked around, and poked Venus 
hard in the ribs. 
"Well," drawled Zoisite, grinning broadly, "if that rather disgusting display of 
emotion is quite finished --" 
Aneiron's eyes began to glitter; Zoisite either didn't notice or didn't care. 
"--then we have some unfinished business to attend to, don't we, Dhearec-sama," 
Zoisite ended.  He couldn't resist ending it, "k'jiss." 
That did it.  Aneiron's boyish, cherubically-sweet face went stone-hard; his 
poison-green eyes locked wide-open and mad.  The familiar madman's grin spread 
across his visage.  "Oh!  Oh!  Oh!" he hollered, like a bad actor in a worse 
play.  "And just who do you think you are, Madam Zoisite?" 
Zoisite stiffened, the breath knocked out of him by the sheer malice he heard in 
Aneiron's tone. 
"What, you don't know what you are?" Aneiron went on, never losing that madman's 
grin, that light sweet tone.  "Then please allow me to tell you!  You're a 
shameless sakura, a demon and a heartless fiend, a King who queens it, a 
tormentor of innocents, a dilettante who couldn't even get to the top without 
sleeping his way there, a dabbler who has no strength except sheer paltry 
viciousness, a weakling who has to depend on Kunzaito-sama to get anything done, 
-- and a traitor to your Prince, WITNESS YYOUR DEFECTION TO BERYL!" 
Zoisite literally could not help it - he had ice crystals in hand and was 
lunging for Aneiron's face before the last venomous words were out of the 
redhead's mouth. 

They materialized again in an area that was, ostensibly, no different from the 
patch of swirling chaos that they had just left. 
"OK, I give up," Jadeite said.  "How do you teleport to a place that has no 
distinguishing characteristics?" 
The Dai Shahre sat down, a deep armchair coming into reality around him.  He 
looked up at Jadeite, black eyes glowing.  "Oh, I didn't," he said 
automatically, no nastiness in it.  "I merely told the Heart of the Shadow where 
I would like to be, and the Heart of the Shadow made it happen." 
"Oh, of course," said Jadeite sarcastically.  "I should have known." 
The Dai Shahre looked a bit startled.  "I don't see how you would have," he 
said.  "I was fairly certain that I was the only mortal who knew of the 
existence of the Heart of the Shadow." 
Jadeite decided to change the subject.  "In that case, why don't you hurry up 
and change the Name of ArchDemon Wed-" 
"Don't say it," the Dai Shahre said sharply.  "I may be able to get away with 
it, but you certainly can't.  And I will change Its/His Name when --" 
"Its/His?"  Jadeite interrupted. 
"The ArchDemon Wedxarxis is one of those Who have a male/neutral gender.  
Technically androgynous, but tending towards masculinity.  Usually, the only 
demons who assume full male gender are Lust-demons," the Dai Shan said.  "And of 
coure the ShadowPrince.  I really can't imagine what this whole Metallia 
business was. Perhaps it was only relating to Beryl's rather strong femininity, 
or perhaps It/He felt that only a female seeming could destroy the female power 
of the Queen of the Moon." 
"Oh, yes," said Jadeite, who had no idea what the hell was going on.  He hated 
this whole situation; Jadeite hated not being in control of himself, and he had 
no say in this entire set-up.  Unlike Nephrite, who had been interested in all 
sorts of magic besides his beloved astrology, and Kunzite, who had seemingly 
been born with the knowledge of an archmage, Jadeite had never been either 
interested or skilled in necromancy or demonology.  He might have found the Dai 
Shahre's apparent expertise in demons more interesting had they not been in the 
Void itself; just then, however, Jadeite was less interested in learning about 
demons, or Mer'Eliy as the Shondarins called them, than he was absolutely 
fascinated by the topic of getting out of the Void alive. 
The Dai Shahre stood, pacing around as he spoke.  His black cloak swirled around 
him, looking simply too romantic for words; Jadeite would have probably 
appreciated the effect much better had he been female.  As it was, the divine 
beauty of the warlord escaped him.  "Wedxarxis will be drawn here, to me, as 
will all the higher Demons.  Possibly even the ShadowPrince will show up.  
Wedxarxis will put up an enormous fuss over having Its/His Name changed, but 
there is really nothing that It/He can do about it if I wish it so." 
"Why are you so important to the demons that they'll do what you say?" Jadeite 
growled.  "And you'd better have a good explanation for it, because it strikes 
me that if you don't have a good explanation then we're going to die." 
The Dai Shahre grinned.  "The demons worship me," he said matter-of-factly.  "I 
am the son of the Heart of the Shadow; I am Merolan, Lord of Chaos, Prince of 
Darkness.  I was born here in the Void, I was conceived here, I Awoke from the 
ephemeral dream here.  This is my home and my domain, and if any demon dares 
defy me, the Heart of the Shadow, Merala the Lady of Chaos, will destroy it." 
Jadeite stared at him.  "Amaterasu," he murmured, understanding at last.  "Gaia! 
 So that was why you couldn't go near the ArchDemon, why you have your troops 
persuaded that you're too 'holy' to be present in the demon's chamber.  That's 
why you hate Amberlin Jalia so much." 
The Dai Shahre looked rather pleased with himself.  "When I am in the mortal 
plane, I live as a mortal -- Asleep and dormant. There, my divinity represents 
itself merely as phenomenal luck and somewhat erratic sorcerous powers, which 
for some reason my children chose to interpret as my holiness, being touched by 
the Saints and chosen by the Host of Heaven. But here I am Awake and strong.... 
And as for the Rose of the Sun... She will trouble me no longer," he said.  "The 
Rose of the Sun is dead, and her soul is undoubtedly recalled to the Hall of 
Judgement for some very sharp explanation of why she can't seem to keep an 
ephemeral body for more than twenty-four years at a time.  Later, of course, I 
shall have some use for her soul, but for right now I shall savor the sensation 
of having absolutely no one to call me Meran.  You have no idea how much I 
despise that nickname, truly you don't." 
"You're a monster," said Jadeite flatly.  "You told me that Beryl was unworthy 
to be a queen because she killed merely because she felt like it.  You killed a 
child and a Princess and the sister of your blood-brother and Emperor, just 
because you were annoyed by her.  You're as bad as Beryl ever was; you're worse, 
because obviously you know better and choose to disregard it.  You're a monster, 
and I take back my oath to you; I'd rather die than be allied with a demon ever 
"Not a wise thing to say, in this place," dai'Merolan observed.  He paced again; 
this time Jadeite noticed what was wrong with the action.  It was too smooth, 
too fluid, too graceful to be the gait of a cripple. 
"And I suppose you lied about having a unHealable thigh wound, then, too," 
Jadeite said sarcastically.  "You're obviously in no pain from it now, your limp 
is gone, you don't even have to lean on that damned staff." 
"How observant you are, little one," the Dai Shahre said.  He kept looking up 
and glancing around, as if he expected someone.  "Ordinarily, yes I am crippled. 
 It is a wound that will not leave me, since it was dealt me by the Champion of 
Light, the Rose of the Sun; it would be the same if I had -- oh, slit Amberlin 
Jalia's throat.  UnHealable."  He smiled; the expression sent chills up 
Jadeite's spine.  The Dai Shahre's perfect beauty made him a god, yes; but a god 
of darkness, a god of death, a god of cruelty.  Probably the nasty type of god 
who insists on sacrifices of entire villages and tiny children being thrown live 
into the furnaces. 
The kind of god that Metallia had been to the Dark Kingdom for so long. 
And if the Dai Shan was telling the truth, then he was Metallia's -- no, an 
ArchDemon's -- master.  "Gaia and Amaterasu," Jadeite murmured, trying very hard 
not to be sick. 
"But here in the Void, here in my own domain, I am my true self: Awake, alive, 
uncrippled, vital," said the Dai Shahre complacently.  "Here I am master of 
"You're a monster," Jadeite repeated quietly.  He turned his back on the Dai 
He truly wished that he had not, because facing him were the Nine ArchDemons, 
seated on thrones; in the center, on the high throne apparently carved from one 
single emerald, sat the ShadowPrince.  Jadeite couldn't decide whether to be 
surprised or not that the ShadowPrince wore a body identical to that of Merolan 
"HELLO, JADEITE," said the ShadowPrince gently.  "WOULD YOU LIKE TO CALL MY SON 
Jadeite, for perhaps the first time in his life, found himself absolutely 
speechless.  No smart remarks, no meaningless and rather melodramatic blather 
about revenge, no pithy retorts that would linger down through history as the 
proper rejoinder to a ShadowPrince. 
He swallowed.  What he actually said was pretty good, considering that it was on 
spur of the moment and he was quite sure that he faced imminent and painful 
"Oh, fuckin' A," he said. 
"Vulgar but strangely appropriate," the Dai Shahre remarked, walking up beside 
Jadeite.  "He is, after all, a Lust-demon."  The Dai Shahre nodded quite civilly 
to the ShadowPrince.  "Salve, Morshaejaris, Lord Darkfire.  Give me Wedxarxis. 
And leave this mortal alone." 
The Dai Shahre looked straight at him.  "Do You want the soul of Amberlin Jalia, 
or not?" he said coldly.  "It should be flitting around me soon enough, seeking 
vengeance.  If I give You the soul of the Demonsbane Reborn, will You give me 
this mortal and Wedxarxis?  You surely can't have any use for an ArchDemon Who 
gets Itself/Himself caught as easily as Wedxarxis did.  I will give Wedxarxis 
back to You, after I change Its/His Name; It/He will be stronger and therefore 
more useful to You." 
There was a lot more of it.  Jadeite stopped listening, after he had ascertained 
that everyone was ignoring him.  He would have briefly considered hightailing it 
out of the circle of Demons, but the Dai Shahre's gauntletted hand descended on 
his shoulder and gripped him so hard that Jadeite was certain there would be a 
nasty bruise. 
He wasn't going to die.  That was the only thing that his brain had any capacity 
left to digest.  He was not going to die.  The Dai Shahre was going to take him 
home, after the Dai Shahre finished whatever business he might have with the 
ShadowPrince.  Jadeite was not going to die. 
And then his thoughts began to catch up with him.  Specifically, certain 
statements of the Dai Shahre's and of his own.  "I'd rather die than be allied 
with a demon ever again."  "If I give You the soul of the Demonsbane Reborn -"  
"Do You want the soul of Amberlin Jalia or not?"  "She will trouble me no 
"Amaterasu," Jadeite whispered.  "I'm throwing your soul to the demons, so I can 
get out alive."  Gaia!  He was going back on himself.  Just when he'd thought 
that he might turn out to be a decent person after all, he could do something 
like this -- stand by and watch as the Dai Shahre, a monster with the face of a 
saint and the body of a god, gave away the soul of a lovely child who hadn't 
done anything wrong save annoy Merolan al'Ledo.  Gaia.  But he would be safe.  
He would get home back to the Dark Kingdom.  No one would ever know; everyone 
would think that Amberlin Jalia was dead anyway.  No one would ever know... 
But... Jadeite would.  The Dai Shahre would.  And the Demons would.  The Demons 
would know that Jadeite was the kind of person who would throw away the soul of 
a good, kind, sweet young woman, just to save his own miserable skin. 
"Yes," said the Dai Shahre, watching him carefully.  "We will know.  I will 
know.  I will never tell; why should I care that you choose your own survival 
over the soul of a girl who, after all, scarcely even knew you?  Why should I 
care that you value your own life over that of a brat who has no value to 
anyone?  My colleagues, my fellow Lords of the Shadow, will never tell; indeed, 
when do They ever converse with ephemerals?  It would be your own secret, 
Jadeite.  No one in the Dark Kingdom would ever know that after your supposed 
conversion to the Light, back to the teachings of Imperial Amaterasu, that you 
chose your own life over the soul of an alien girl." 
Jadeite gritted his teeth.  This wasn't fair.  This was so not fair.  How did 
they expect him to choose?  It should be an easy decision.  If he chose his own 
life, the Dai Shahre would point at ArchDemon Wedxarxis, say "Your Name is no 
longer Wedxarxis, it is something else," or whatever the Dai Shahre was going to 
do -- Jadeite wasn't up to all of this Demon crap -- and then Jadeite would go 
home.  He would be home, in his kingdom, with true friends Kunzite and Zoisite, 
running the midplane more efficiently than Beryl had ever dreamed.  And no one 
would ever dream that the Dark Kingdom had been bought and paid for by the soul 
of Amberlin Jalia Lalandra, the Rose of the Sun. 
And if he chose to fight for the soul of Amberlin Jalia, then he was instantly 
"Gaia," he said under his breath.  "I want Nephrite and his stars, to tell me 
what to do.  I want Zoisite to carve out a clear decision.  I want Kunzite and 
his wisdom.  I want Aneiron and his jokes.  I want Dhearec and his logic.  I 
even miss that bastard Xer'Dun.  Amberlin Jalia Healed me, when I was going 
insane.  She gifted me with weapons, my own mind, a link to the Soul of Shondar, 
which meant that I'd never be alone again. 
"And now it's either my life or her soul." 
"Precisely," said the Dai Shahre, who was still gripping him painfully by the 
shoulder.  "Absolutely.  Your life or her soul.  I really didn't think that it 
was a hard decision, Jadeite.  You had best make up your mind before the 
ShadowPrince decides what He is going to do." 
Jadeite said quite nicely, "And what will He do with Amberlin's soul?" 
"Probably incarnate her in her former beauty and keep her around as a toy," said 
the Dai Shahre.  "He is, after all, a Lust-demon."  The Dai Shahre sounded 
reflective.  "Or He could put her into a temporary body, and kill her over and 
over again, in as many creatively sadistic ways as He can think of.  Or He could 
"Never mind," Jadeite said with a sigh.  He'd made his decision already; he just 
hated it.  "I'll take my life, thanks."  After all, what did one girl mean to 
him?  He didn't love her.  He didn't owe her anything.  Just one single memory 
of a divine smile, the look of the Imperial Goddess.  He didn't owe her a thing. 

The Dai Shahre clapped him on the shoulder.  "Good man.  Clever decision.  Lord 
Darkfire!  I will take my guest and I will change the Name of Wedxarxis; after 
that, I leave the Rose of the Sun to you." 
He gestured, and Amberlin Jalia, goldenly translucent and shimmering as if she 
were made of frozen sunlight, sat huddled before the throne of the ShadowPrince. 

She looked around, her expression lost.  "Meran?" she said in a small voice.  
"Meran, Jadeite, where am I?" 
"In the Void," said the Dai Shahre briefly.  "You're here for good, infant.  Put 
here by my will and the decision of Lord Jadeite.  Feel free to curse me and/or 
my soul." 
The golden eyes looked into Jadeite's in pure anguish.  "Don't leave me here," 
she begged.  "Please, you know Who I am.  They'll take it out on me that I'm 
Lalandra Reborn." 
Jadeite forced himself to look away.  He said, more intensely than he meant to, 
"If you're Lalandra Reborn, if you're really the reincarnation of the greatest 
Saint and magician that Shondar has ever seen, then you don't need me to get you 
out of this."  He turned his back on her. 
And promptly froze in a wash of horror, loathing, and acute panic. 
The Soul of Shondar roared into his brain, #What are you DOING, my son?# 

Purely to keep himself from dying of boredom, Zoisite began to manufacture ice 
crystals.  Just to give himself something to concentrate on, he focussed on 
making them extra-strong and extra-light, so he could throw twice as many in one 
blow, with a net effect of twice as much damage inflicted. 
Sometimes it was useful to have a destructive hobby. 
As he worked, he stole glances at Aneiron Jander and at his lover Kunzite.  He 
still couldn't quite decide whether to forgive Kunzaito-sama for interfering 
when Zoisite had been about to kill the redheaded Shondarin.  Aneiron had been 
purely hateful to him, and Zoisite never let people insult him.  Especially not 
in public.  Especially not when he hadn't done a thing to deserve it. 
"I hate you," Zoisite said suddenly, directing a glare at Aneiron. 
The redhead paused in the middle of shouting out orders, glanced down at 
Zoisite.  "You just go right on thinkin' that, muffin," said Aneiron cheerfully. 
 "So long as Dhearec and the Dai Shahre love me, I don't give a damn if you 
would like to rip out my hearts and feed them to something vile.  But keep it 
quiet right now, sugar, since I'm kinda in the middle of a battle, and I'd sorta 
like to keep track of my troops in the middle of it, OK?" 
Zoisite didn't reply to this, but gathered up his tidy pile of icy projectiles 
and moved ostentatiously somewhere else.  Kunzite moved with him. 
"You should not antagonize him right now, love," said Kunzite.  The white-haired 
general perched on a rock, and peered over the heads of black-clad soldiers in 
front  of them.  "The Shondarins are the ones fighting to keep the Dark Kingdom 
relatively untouched." 
"The Shondarins are the people who woke up Metallia in the first place," Zoisite 
said.  He tested the point of one ice crystal with his finger, and winced when 
the razor-sharp tip sliced open his finger to the bone.  "Heal this, 
Kunzaito-sama, please." 
Kunzite obliged, giving the injured digit a kiss for good measure, and said, 
still holding Zoisite's slender hand, "I mean it.  The youma are pouring in on 
this place.  The very last command that Metallia gave before It quit this plane 
was for the youma to kill every non-youma in the Kingdom." 
Zoisite nodded, a trifle approvingly.  It was what he would have done, if he'd 
been forced to leave the field in the hands of his enemies.  He could see the 
sense in it.  Of course, the fact that he was on the side opposite all of those 
kamikaze youma meant that he appreciated its cleverness rather less than he 
might have otherwise. 
Kunzite went on, "I know what they're doing, and I have to say that they are our 
only hope of keeping the Dark Kingdom safe for Jadeite." 
"Why do we care about Jadeite?" Zoisite objected.  "We can leave, escort Prince 
Endymion to safety.  Wouldn't that be a lot more useful than hanging around here 
killing youma?"  He paused, then added reluctantly, "Although it might be fun to 
wipe out a few demons.  Just to keep our hands in." 
"No," said Kunzite firmly.  "We are not leaving.  Jadeite is our friend, 
Zoi-chan, beloved.  Plus, the Silver Flames have fought youma before, but they 
don't know the youma the way we do.  Before we -- betrayed Endymion and 
succumbed to Beryl, we fought the youma for years.  We know them.  We know the 
most powerful ones, and we know the ways to counter them.  I doubt that the 
Silver Flames, as good as they are, can possibly do without our special 
Zoisite threw back his head and screamed.  The echoes bounced off the high 
ceiling, the vaulting walls.  By no means everyone turned to stare at Zoisite -- 
military men are very practical creatures -- but the copper-haired man did 
garner his fair share of speculation. 
"I feel slightly better now," Zoisite announced to his lover.  "Very well, 
Kunzaito-sama.  I'll be nice to them as long as you say to." 
Kunzite knew that this was the best he was going to get.  He left his lover 
fashioning more icy crystals for the defense, and walked over to Aneiron and 
Dhearec and Xer'Dun, who were drafting out the specifics of the battle plan. 
He studied the plan with care, and had to admit that it had a certain flair to 
it.  Even if Aneiron Jander was an annoying little prat with delusions of 
adequacy, the redhead was a fairly brilliant tactician. 
The entire plane of the Dark Kingdom centered around the stone chamber that had 
so long been the home of slumbering Metallia.  If the throne room of Beryl had 
been the heart and brain of the Dark Kingdom, then the chamber of Metallia had 
been its soul.  That was both metaphor and reality: the essence of the dormant 
ArchDemon had permeated the midplane, had been the ultimate influence upon 
anyone and everything in the Dark Kingdom. 
Physically, the center of the Dark Kingdom was the great mountain in which 
Metallia's prison was contained: surrounding the mountain (called Metallia's 
Needle) was a great flat plane dotted here and there with minor hillocks.  The 
hills were not really more than mounds of dirt and rock heaped in particularly 
inconvenient places where they obstructed a clear view of the mountain from most 
parts of the plain. 
The Silver Flames, all eight available legions, were assembled rank-and-file 
around the largest and the most inconvenient of these hills.  Aneiron's plan 
seemed to be centered around the fact that, while the million youma that marched 
on the mountain were an unled mob, the Silver Flames were quick, disciplined, 
and had an enormous amount of faith in the luck of the Dai Shahre, not to 
mention the luck of Aneiron Jander. 
Aneiron apparently planned to wait until most of the youma mob was irrevocably 
committed to a charge against his forces.  At that point, he would deploy the 
Seventh and the Ninth Legions to act as "wings" to come around and form a 
semi-circle bewteen the youma and the mountain.  After that, the youma would 
keep ouring into the gap of the Silver Flame army, and the Shondarin martial 
skill would take over from there. 
There was only one problem with this, as far as Kunzite could see. 
"Aneiron Jander," he said, demanding the redhead's attention. 
All three Shondarins looked up at him.  Xer'Dun faintly smiled, in a derisive 
manner; he said nothing. 
"Didja want something, Kunzite-sama?" Aneiron said cheerfully.  "We're going 
over a battle plan here.  See anything that needs fixing?" 
He obviously expected no reply; and for that he could not be blamed.  To anyone 
who did not know youma as Lord General Kunzite knew them, Aneiron's plan was 
Kunzite said, "You are forgetting one very important thing, Aneiron-sama." 
The redhead turned to smirk at Dhearec.  "Hear that, junior, I'm an 
'Aneiron-SAMA' now.  That would mean they like me better than you." 
"More than likely," Dhearec said tranquilly.  "You are extraordinarily likable." 

Xer'Dun looked disgusted. 
"OK, what'm I forgetting, Kunzite-sama?" Aneiron said politely. 
"Only that youma are just as likely as anyone to have very potent, very 
destructive sorcerous gifts," said Kunzite laconically.  "Therefore,you can't 
really trust standard infantry against them.  You've got a liability if your 
troops don't know that youma are very powerful indeed. You've only been dealing 
with them in pairs and in trios before, correct? But youma in mobs can be 
extremely.. inconvenient." 
No one moved. 
"Dammit," sighed Aneiron.  "OK, junior, change o' plans." 

Jadeite stood quietly and listened as the Soul of Shondar poured information 
into him, too quickly for him to really pick up on the details.  He managed to 
get the gist of it, though: the memories of Saint Lalandra as She defeated the 
First ShadowPrince, plus a quick tap on the memories of Merolan al'Ledo for all 
of his weaknesses. 
#The Dai Shahre does not have many weaknesses at all,# noted the Soul of Shondar 
clinically.  #His greatest physical weakness will always the point high on his 
inner left thigh, however much he may think that this plane Heals it.  His 
greatest mental weakness is that he is fully aware that he has never been 
beaten.  He thinks that this means that he can never be beaten.  You are going 
to prove him wrong, my son.# 
"Great," Jadeite muttered under his breath.  He really, really, REALLY, did not 
want to be here, standing by himself as the Dai Shahre changed the Name of 
ArchDemon Wedxarxis.  So far as he could see, this interesting little ritual 
consisted of the eight remaining ArchDemons standing around Their unlucky 
fellow; the Dai Shahre and the ShadowPrince stood in the center, along with the 
unfortunate ArchDemon Who had failed Its/His Prince.  The Dai Shahre chanted the 
Name of the ArchDemon nine times; then he paused, said the Name backwards, then 
waited for the ArchDemon's shudders to die away.  Already the form of the 
ArchDemon was beginning to lose shape and cohesiveness; the ego of the ArchDemon 
was starting to unravel as Its/His Name was altered.  The Dai Shahre said 
calmly, "Thou art no longer an ArchDemon of Hatred, bent upon ruling the lesser 
ones, the creatures of meat and bone and blood.  Now art Thou an ArchDemon of 
Insanity, devoted to an existence spent here in the Void, no longer breaking 
free into the Ephemeral Dream.  This is Thy doom; this is Thy punishment.  Fail 
me no longer -- ArchDemon Vristeras." 
Wonderful.  So Metallia/Wedxarxis now had an even stupider Name.  Jadeite bit 
his lip to keep from laughing.  Honestly.  Vristeras?  The Dai Shahre might be a 
military genius, but Jadeite hoped to Gaia that the Dai Shahre didn't get into 
the business of nomenclatoring. 
He edged over to the silent golden form of Amberlin Jalia.  She had stopped 
weeping a while ago, and was weaving spells with an intense expression on her 
face.  Good.  He couldn't stand seeing a woman cry; for one thing, it made him 
feel inexplicably guilty, and for another, it made him want to shake the woman 
silly.  That wouldn't be advisable under these circumstances, since the Soul of 
Shondar had informed him that he needed the soul of Amberlin Jalia in order to 
make it out of this alive. 
Jadeite thought that she was too busy with her sorcery to notice him; he was 
wrong.  As he cautiously sidled closer to her, she remarked coolly, "Clever of 
Meran, actually.  Hatred demons absolutely MUST venture outside the Void to 
practice their trade, while Insanity demons are perfectly content to stay in 
here and muck around with the lesser imps.  I hate it that he's clever; it means 
that sooner or later he'll get the better of everyone.  He certainly did get the 
better of me.  I'm sorry; I'm babbling.  Being dead does that to a person, I 
He stared down at her, then shook himself.  "Amater--  Amberlin Jalia, we need 
to get out of here.  We need the holy sword of Saint Lalandra, a golden rose, 
and a very very good wizard.  Any ideas?" 
Amberlin Jalia pushed some fire-golden hair back from her brow, thought about 
this.  "The Blade of Fire is connected to you," she said.  "I gave it to you, it 
ought to have bonded to your soul by now.  Hmm.  I guess it did come in handy.  
Concentrate on it being in your hand.  It's a very intelligent sort of weapon, 
it will come to you.  As for the golden rose, that would be me.  As for the very 
very good wizard, that would also be me.  I do hope that you don't object to me 
being dead.  I'm fairly certain that it won't affect my power." 
Jadeite nodded.  The Blade of Fire was in his hands.  It felt good there.  
Natural that it should be there.  Come to think of it, it fitted his hand better 
than the diilyao ever had, much though he had liked that weapon. 
The soul of Amberlin Jalia smiled.  "Clever of you, you know," she remarked, 
placing her hand over his, on the hilt of the sword.  She began to guide his 
hand, tracing the tip of the sword in all sorts of patterns in the air.  
"Waiting until Meran was distracted in changing the ArchDemon.  Now that 
Wedxarxis is Vristeras, Hatred changed to Insanity, Metallia shall never come 
back.  And -- no!" she said sharply as his wrist began to droop.  "Don't do 
that, you'll have to start over with the patterns.  I think." 
"What do you mean, you think?" Jadeite said sharply.  He darted an uneasy glance 
at the circle of Demons, none of which seemed to be paying any attention to the 
ordinary mortals trying to escape. 
"Well, I've never broken loose of the Void before," shrugged Amberlin Jalia.  
"And I've never been dead before, either.  I can't say that I enjoy either thing 
very much.  One's difficult, and the other's boring." 
Ridiculous girl; she was stuck in the Void and dead both, and she called it 
boring.  He had to admire her spirit, even if she was driving him mad guiding 
his hand in the meaningless scrawls in the air. 
Finally, she released him and stepped back.  "Feel tired?" she said cheerfully. 
Jadeite nodded.  He felt like he had been awake for at least three days, and 
probably four.  Plus, his chest still burned from the searing touch of the Dai 
Shahre, back in the chamber of Metallia.  He really ought to make a note to 
himself:  "If I am ever again chosen to channel an ArchDemon, make sure that no 
one of pure demonic royal blood touches me." 
A glimmering portal opened in space.  It looked out into the chamber of 
"We should go," Amberlin Jalia said.  She looked hopefully at her body, which 
lay wrapped in a Shondarin blanket by the scarlet ruins of Metallia's prison.  
"I hope that I can fit back in my body.  I'm not sure I remember what exactly to 
do about resurrection; I'm fairly certain that the prayers and ceremonies will 
take a few days, and Dhearec will almost definitely lecture at me for hours 
because really it's not legal to bring people back to life who've been killed by 
demons.  Something about disrupting the nature of Light and Darkness, you know." 

Jadeite said, "Fine.  Let's go." 
A shadow fell over them.  The Dai Shahre said, "Oh, but I want you to stay, 
Amberlin Jalia.  Or, rather, the Lord Darkfire does." 

Vast youma armies were not entities that a Napoleon or a Merolan al'Ledo would 
have desired for one moment, even had those two superlative generals ever had 
such military largesse offered to them.  Forces must be small, flexible, 
maneuverable -- easily supplied, easily controlled, easily deployed.  Aneiron 
had eight legions of superb if somewhat disreputable troops who knew his tactics 
as well as he did, plus a very neat present from the Saints in the form of Lord 
Generals Zoisite and Kunzite, who knew the youma and who were not unskilled 
mages to boot. 
The one brief salutatory skirmish had not been without Shondarin losses, chiefly 
because of a youma weapon.  It was called dreadfire, and it came from a central 
group of youma who all but glowed to the naked eye with all the dark energy that 
filled them.  Small light lumps of the dreadfire lobbed through the air ablaze 
and splattered as they landed, flaring up so hot and so incandescent that 
nothing could extinguish them or the fires that spread from them.  They burned 
and they maimed -- but worse than that, they terrified.  No one had ever 
experienced anything like them before.  It didn't help Shondarin tempers to have 
Lord General Kunzite say a big "I told you so" to the lot of them.  (To 
Kunzite's credit, he had really been unable to help it -- Xer'Dun was getting on 
his nerves.) 
So when the emboldened youma moved their mighty force to attack the Silver 
Flames again, they failed to understand what a difference a mood could make.  
Every Shondarin in that tiny army was fed up -- fed up with a world that had no 
sun or stars or proper sky, with going so long as two years without fighting 
anyone except the occasional single band of renegade youma, with living in a 
place so far removed from their homes, with physical separation from the Soul of 
Shondar, with dreadfire, with humans, with their adored and beloved commander 
the Dai Shahre going missing, the Negaverse in general and youma in particular.  
From Aneiron to the centurions to the rest of the Silver Flames, all of them 
hungered for a good solid battle.  And they cheered deliriously when Aneiron 
harangued them cheerfully in the pre-battle exhortation. 
Promising Saint Ledo a special sacrifice, Aneiron girded his loins for the fray 
at about an hour after the initial youma attack.  The siege lines of the 
mountain abandoned, the commander Aneiron occupied his original hill, which 
intervened between the advancing youma mass and the mountain, and made his 
dispositions.  Though he couldn't have known, nor could Kunzite have warned him, 
that there was a large chunk of youma population missing from the main army that 
he might have to worry about, Aneiron did know exactly how to tempt the youma 
into an engagement: huddle his comparatively little force together and appear to 
be terrified by the size of the giant youma army.  Since the youma were 
convinced by years of serving under Beryl that an army's strength was in its 
numbers, the youma would attack. 
The youma did attack.  What developed was a debacle.  No one on the youma side, 
including Ninjana and Corbiba, seemed to comprehend the value of high ground.  
Nor, so much was clear to Aneiron and Kunzite as the seething host flowed up the 
Shondarin hill, had anyone in the youma chain of command thought to develop 
tactics or a strategy.  The monster army was unleashed; no more was necessary, 
to the youma mind. 
Taking his time, Aneiron dealt out frightful punishment from the top of his 
hill, worried only that the mountain of dead would end in hemming him in, foil a 
complete victory.  But when he put the Ninth Legion under Xer'Dun's command to 
clearing lines through the youma fallen, the Silver Flames spread outward and 
downward like scythes through a field of wheat.  The youma front disintegrated, 
pushing thousands of carapaced and otherwise hideously deformed foot soldiers 
into the ranks of the more fearsomely arrayed youma mages until the mages 
imploded from too much pressure, or the foot soliders themselves were crushed.  
More of the youma host died that way than the berserk Silver Flames had the 
numbers to kill. 
Said Aneiron in the later aftermath in the chamber of Metallia, "Gee, I'm damn 
good at this.  Over seventy hundred thousand youma dead, and fifteen Silver 
Flames dead or wounded." 

"Amberlin Jalia," continued the Dai Shahre, holding out a hand to her.  "Stop 
that at once.  I truly do not want you to suffer; it is enough for me that you 
are dead and unable to be a threat to me anymore.  If you like, I shall ask your 
new master to be kind to you, and let you sleep." 
"Yes, I suppose that's rather nice of you, Meran; certainly it's nicer than 
wanting to flay me," she said.  She turned and stepped through the portal out of 
the Void.  Her voice came floating through it, a giggle somewhere lurking behind 
the words.  "On the other hand, I can't help but wonder what's going to happen 
when the ShadowPrince realizes that I'm not here anymore.  You ought to like it, 
Meran, it will be quite chaotic." 
Jadeite looked at the Dai Shahre one more time before he went through the 
portal.  "I've fulfilled my promise," said Jadeite.  "I helped you and your 
soldiers right up until the ArchDemon was out of my kingdom." 
Then he went through the Portal, and had the enormous satisfaction of watching 
it close behind him.  The Dai Shahre was trapped in the Void.  With a very 
annoyed ShadowPrince and nine hopefully annoyed ArchDemons. 
Jadeite really didn't have time to think about any of it, because Aneiron Jander 
caught sight of him standing there and promptly screamed, "WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN?! 
Where's the Dai Shahre? C'mon, where's Himself? Why've you got Amberlin Jalia 
with you? What's goin' ON, hey?" 
He winced, tapped the side of his head.  "No shouting," he said faintly. 
Sailormercury called, "Dhearec?  She's alive...."  her voice trailing off into 
Jadeite told Aneiron, "In the Void, thank you, and I won't answer any more 
questions because it would only depress me desperately." 
Aneiron said, "Huh?" 
Dhearec said, "Impossible." 
And Zoisite fairly topped all of them, by proudly announcing, "The Silver Flames 
are leaving tomorrow morning, and I'm going to hold open the Gate until every 
single one of them is GONE." 

The Dai Shahre sighed, and shrugged.  "No hard feelings, Lord Darkfire." 
"True.  A pity that I won't be able to remember Amberlin Jalia dead.  I find 
that I like the idea enormously.  I will forget my Awakening, and begin to Dream 
again as I pass through the Portal, don't worry on that account." 
He opened a Portal to Shondar, stepped through it.  He was going to have a lot 
to say to Aneiron once the Silver Flames got back to Shondar. 

King Jadeite of the Dark Kingdom formally traded his crown for a Lord General's 
sword three days after the Silver Flames left the Dark Kingdom. 
King Kunzite and Prince-Consort Zoisite bade him farewell as he explained just 
exactly he would like most for a few years.  A sabbatical of sorts.  While he 
tried to figure some things out. 
He disappeared from the Dark Kingdom, which was already flourishing from its own 
energy supply, set up by Kunzite and Dhearec before the Silver Flames left for 
Jadeite reappeared in the blue and white robes of a shrine assistant, in a 
certain shrine at Cherry Hill. 
He knelt in front of the sacred fire for a while, didn't turn around as he heard 
an indrawn breath. 
"Rei," he said quietly, still staring straight into the fire, "I've noticed that 
Yuichiruu hasn't been working up to par lately.  I wonder if this shrine needs 
another assistant.  I have a few things about my soul that I'd like some 
spiritual guidance with.  And I would welcome the company of an old friend." 
He wondered briefly if she was going to scream, get those nasty crows of hers to 
attack, or transform into Sailormars and burn him to a crisp for having dared 
enter her shrine. 
Then he smiled as Rei, his old love and his new friend, laid a hand on his 
shoulder and said, "I think that would be all right.  Everyone needs to be able 
to come to terms with their own soul." 
That sounded just about perfect. 



Thank you for reading this far.  Thank you for all the wonderful comments.  
Thank you for putting up with me.  Thank you for taking my word for it that 
Jillian Byar's books are worth crossing over into "Sailor Moon."  And thank you, 
Claire Jinci Sarah Elanors Delilah Heather Aneiron Celestine AND Christa, not to 
mention Naoko Takeuchi. 
This is Saint Erythros over and out. 


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