"Remember who you are."

The words are believed to have been used when a Roman general was parading through the streets during a victory triumph. Standing behind the victorious general was his slave, who was tasked to remind the general that, though his highness was at his peak today, tomorrow he could fall. The servant conveyed this by telling the general, "Do not forget that you are only human."

It is tender and sore, the spot that is almost human.

A proverbial heart, hidden deep within a cold dark place.

He smiles so that it thinks he doesn't care. He smiles so as to approximate a lie.

He's smiling now, even as it screams at him to stop; to break down, even a little, for a tear to roll down his cheek. He says no.

He smiles even now, knowing what he's going to do to Chael.

He's still smiling.

You shouldn't be.

Chael clawed at the floor, howling in agony as the foreign emotions traveled across eons of empty space and time to assault him. For once, he couldn't think straight, and could hardly even see. He bit back words of forgiveness that dared to spill from his mouth.

All at once, it was gone again, as suddenly as it had come. Chael wiped his face and shakily rose back to his knees. HIs father had found out. His father had finally found out.

He blinked and turned his eyes toward the sky. The sun whirled over his head, over and over, cycling through the sky in a cosmic dance. The stars stared at him and the moon spun like a top as it hung far, far over his head. Here, at the top of the tower, he saw all of the day and night painted above him like a tapestry. Time and space meant nothing here.

He now lowered his eyes, to the black blade that rested on the stone before him. When he had come here, it had been broken in two, but the ritual he had enacted had almost flawlessly restored it into one piece. He hadn't expected it to be so easy to repair a broken Object, but it was what the Black King's Sword had wanted: to be whole again.

It was far more beautiful than he predicted. This Object was once Object number 45, but it had been banished for its dark power, replaced completely. It had become one of the Lost Ones, stolen by Legion in his intense lust for the Objects. Now, somehow, he had come to grasp it. Oh, the Seekers that would kill to own an Object of Legion!

Here, a battle for the ages had come to pass. He could feel every blow in his bones. He followed the steps of the battle between Balance and Edo Edi Essum until it led him to the edge of the tower. He leaned over and stared down into the abyss below. His eyes could see nothing down there. Nothing except total loss.

"It's not much, and it won't by any means stop the Reunion, but at least it's something."

Whose voice was that? He grasped the Black King's Sword tightly and looked over it. Only the White King's Sword had the power to break such a mighty weapon, and it wasn't here. It had returned to its original owner. That was what the black sword was telling him. Its voice whispered to him, begged him to follow the trail.

The Seeker that held it hadn't become the new Holder. And, the creatures of black hadn't retrieved it. No, the White King's Sword had simply been handed willingly back to the Holder of Peace. How revolting.

There was one last point of interest before he left. In the center of the floor, a deep black cloak lay crumpled. Nothing but ash remained of its former wearer. Around it, Chael detected the stitched-together remains of a special tear, doing its best to heal. Somehow, the incarnation of death, the Devourer himself, had been dispatched. It was nonsense.

He moved to poke the cloak with his toe, but alarm bells went off in his head. "Don't touch it," eye eyes warned him, but he was unclear about what secrets this cloak held. With the point of the Black King's Sword, he snagged the hood of the cloak and raised it into the air, shaking away anything that still clung to it. The darkness shimmered and rippled across the cloak, like waves over a vast ocean of emptiness.

Souls Corrupt. He decided against touching it, and whipped it around the sword. He would have to find a suitable container later.

"This will do," he said, grinning and turning to exit the tower. It was a long trip, but the rewards were plentiful.

The soldier charged Chael and the Abbot with the White King's Sword in hand, done with his slaughter of the rest of the monks. The Abbot rose quickly from the table, where his and Chael's chess game had just ended, and took the black king in hand, preparing to stop the soldier's mad rush.

However, Chael intercepted before he ever had a chance, stepping between the soldier and the Abbot. The Black King's Sword slid out of the sheath on Chael's belt and parried the soldier's wild stab as if he were deflecting a stray blade of grass. When the black sword connected with its white counterpart, the shower of sparks and screeching sound they emanated caused the soldier to stumble backward in shock. Chael took it as an invitation, and drove the black sword through his eye socket.

The Holder of Peace looked on in astonishment as Chael plucked the White King's Sword from the dead soldier. Before now, any Seeker who dared to so brazenly defy the Holder would face nothing but suffering and death. But, when Peace looked upon the Black King's Sword, he knew there was nothing he could do. This was no normal child.

While the Holder remained stunned, Chael took the liberty to reach under the chess table and pull out the scabbard. He sheathed the White King's Sword and strapped it firmly to his belt beside the black sword. The swords hummed discordantly now that they rested beside each other. He knew that they were feeling conflicted right now. They were swords that used to be mortal enemies in the most original sense. Even so, Chael was hoping they could work together well.

Chael skipped out of the halfway house, heading straight for the door, when a voice stopped him. It was a voice he had been expecting.

"I gave the White King's Sword back to Peace for a reason, young Chael."

Ugh. Balance sounded just as pretentious as he imagined. He knew this entitled bastard must have been watching him since the tower, but he would have loved to go weeks more without having to meet him. Balance stood just inside the entrance. By no means did he appear threatening; he was just a teenager with a simple pair of glasses and a hooded white cloak.

"You mean you gave it back to Peace for another Seeker to just go back and steal?"

"The Holders exist to protect the Objects," Balance answered stoically. "To keep them safe from the twisted minds of Seekers. That is their duty."

"And yet, the Seekers go to pry them out of their deformed hands. That's the way it works, isn't it?"

Balance narrowed his eyes slightly. He seemed like a spoiled child, but why shouldn't it surprise him? He was one of Yochanan's many children, after all. Yet, this boy was strange, even for a child. He was unreadable.

"You possess both the King's and Usurper's swords. You even maaged to repair the latter after it was broken. Now, my inquisition is; what exactly are you planning to do with them? Balance has finally been restored, so if you desire to upturn it -"

"Don't make me laugh!" a hint of savagery had suddenly leapt into Chael's voice. The sweet fa├žade of Halloween candy cracked slightly, showing the poison underneath. Balance blinked in surprise, but kept his face stoic.

"Balance?! You bring it on yourself to right the unbalanced elements of this world, like some kind of Angel of Justice. You are a human, even with the Toga of the Gods!"

Balance held his breath. He had never met this child before, so how was he able to so quickly discern which Object lay infused within his cloak?

"How many things have you had to fix after you 'balanced' them? Did you really think your power can keep the Devourer locked up forever?"

Chael advanced on him, smiling like a voracious beast, and Balance continued to look down at him sternly. Chael would hate Balance and that smug look on his face, if he weren't so secure in his superiority over him. Balance's zeal was jusst as great as his pure impotence.

"It's all just a game, and you don't even see it. You haven't change anything."

Balance's fists tightened, slightly. He had trepidation about striking a child, but this boy was something else. He didn't feel like a child; he felt like Yochanan.

Yet suddenly, Chael's face softened and he laughed as if he had just played a joke.

"You don't have anything to worry about, Mr. Balance! I'm not going to use these swords to destroy the world or anything like that. They are beautiful and precious items, and I just wanted them. That's all there is to it. Take care!"

As Chael skipped for the exit, Balance stared after him with a furrowed brow. The child was telling the truth; he could tell at least that much.

"It was but a ward, little Yochanan," he said, which made Chael pause for a moment and look back with a disturbing grin.

"A ward to you too, Dallas," Chael replied. "Remember what you are."

He resumed his skipping, giggling as he exited the building. Balance frowned, having expected Chael to be insulted. Either way, Balance wasn't prepared to break his treaty with the Hollow Man. Not yet.