Thanks: To SirStak's Spoiler Warnings where I found the particular
scene between the Black and White Knights. To the Writer's Guide for the
Power Rangers Universe, for being the best damn PR site out there. I don't
think it's said enough. And finally to El Fu¤aroverse, because without
them, I'd be even more clueless about the current events of the PR Fandom.
Warning: Mild violence.
Notes: This series, 'Dark Rising' takes place after 'The Gathering'. The theory is that the stories in this series can be read in any order. However, Old Earth: Part 1 should definitely be read before Old Earth: Part 2. (10.28.'02)
It was called the 'Black Forest' because the giant trees grew so close together as to make direct sunlight within its borders an impossibility. In a peculiar clearing of said forest, much power was gathering and a decisive battle was about to take place. Two knights, each astride a magnificent steed, faced each other across this clearing. Thick fog roiled about within the trees, but none entered the clearing least it fade away to nothing. Eerie pipe music floated from somewhere far away.
Gilliam gripped his lance in his white gauntleted fist and steeled himself for the coming confrontation. His opponent, the Black Knight, Sir Crannach, adjusted his golden lion adorned shield, his brown and white horse snorted.
"Give me the Box!" demanded the Black Knight.
Gilliam's own white horse whinnied and he took a deep breath before proclaiming, "I will never hand it over to the likes of you!"
Lightning began to flash sporadically, thunder rumbling. Looking up, Gilliam saw that heavy dark clouds were rolling in. Turning back to Crannach, he found a crimson fog to be gathering at the other's back. It was said that the Black Knight held strange powers. Power over the dark magics and of time and space.
"Then you leave me no choice!" the Black Knight put heels to his horse who leapt forward. Gilliam did so as well and the two knights lowered their lances, setting themselves for the coming blow. The Black Knight's lance slammed sharply into the shielded chest of the White Knight, whose own lance had faltered.
Gilliam felt the air forced from his lungs, cursing his unsteady hand. For several moments he felt as though he was suspended in nothing, there was no sensation. Then the ground met him with a very hard slap to the back and he lay dazed looking at the dark clouds overhead.
"Your pathetic crusade is over. I told you, I will possess the Box!"
The Black Knight reached down and pulled aside the White Knight's tunic, before removing a small scarlet pouch from the leather belt.
Desperately, Gilliam grabbed for Crannach's arm. "You cannot access the Battle Fire!" Crannach lifted his foot and pinned Gilliam's arm underneath his boot heel. Still struggling, Gilliam glared at his enemy, "Only one pure of heart can release its powers, and your heart... is pure evil." He could feel the life draining from his body, his vision clouded, his limbs felt heavy.
Crannach turned from his defeated foe "So true." He concurred with the Knight of Purity's final statement. Reaching into the pouch, Crannach removed a small, golden, well-weathered, fist-sized box, and began to laugh in maniacal glee.
Rohan sat up in bed quickly; a cold sweat covered his body. Closing his eyes he concentrated on the dream he'd just woken from. Two knights, one good, one evil, had been fighting over a box that contained incredible power˛ and the White Knight had lost. Ever since he had begun training with Cathbad, Rohan's senses had become more sensitive to the ways of magic, and that included prophetic dreams.
Slipping out of bed, the Mystic Knight hurriedly threw on some clothes and made his way quietly to Cathbad's chambers. Coming to the wooden door, he rapped on it softly. The door opened after only a moment and the old druid motioned for Rohan to enter.
"You are up early," said the old man as he fetched a pot of boiling water from the fire.
"I had a dream," the young man said without preamble, and he told his mentor of the battle between good and evil that had occurred in an eerie and mystical place and of the great prize that had been won. As soon as Rohan was finished, Cathbad handed his student a cup of dark tea and took some for himself.
Sitting in one of the more comfortable chairs, the druid looked at Rohan. "And what do you think of this dream?"
"I'm not sure," Rohan looked into his hot drink as though it might hold the answers. "My ability with magic is small, but˛ it seemed so very real. Does it mean something, Cathbad?"
Cathbad nodded. "Everything means something, even perfectly regular dreams. The trick lies in finding out what."
Rohan pursed his lips and thought. The two sat there in silence for several minutes. "Well," said Rohan after a bit, "I suppose I ought to go to breakfast. Are you coming, Cathbad?"
"No, no," replied the old man, "I have much work to do. You go on."
"I'll be seeing you later then," Rohan stood up and let himself out quietly.
He walked through the hallways that were still relatively empty of people as the sun was only just rising. Entering the dining hall that most of the other soldiers used and the Mystic Knights had taken to using as well, Rohan poked his head into the kitchen.
"Mornin, Cook," he greeted the fat man who was overseeing various tasks while the undercooks scurried about.
"Ah," the man turned to face Rohan, "Good morning, Sir Rohan," he greeted in return.
"I'm not too early to get somethin to eat, am I?"
"The day a hungry man can't get something hot to eat from this kitchen, is the day I retire," retuned the rotund man. "Go sit down and I'll have someone bring you breakfast."
Rohan smiled and nodded and sat down at he and his friends' favorite table. Adjusting his sword a bit, he began thinking on the dream he'd had. Perhaps it was only nothing.
A few moments later, a blonde man in a green tunic entered the hall and sat next to Rohan. The Knight of Fire suppressed an inward groan. He may be arrogant, but he's a good man and a loyal friend, Rohan told himself. And besides that he's not so arrogant as he used to be. "Good morning, Garrett."
"Good morning to you, Rohan," Garrett, Knight of Forest, smiled a bit, but it wasn't his usual self-assured smile.
"Sleep alright?" asked Rohan.
Garrett shrugged, "Alright. Strange dreams though."
"Strange dreams?" Garrett and Rohan looked up as Angus, Knight of Earth, joined them.
"Well, you're up early," Rohan noted.
"Aye," responded Angus, "I was havin' strange dreams, too. About two knights fighting."
"A Black Knight, and a White Knight?" asked Garrett, his brows furrowing.
"Yes," said Angus, "And the Black Knight won."
Rohan nodded as the two looked to him and the three of them sat there in silence. The silence was broken when several trays were brought out and set on the table where the three Mystic Knights sat. They each took a plate and began helping themselves to the eggs, bacon, sausage, biscuits and more that had been set before them. Cook had noticed how the hunger of the Mystic Knights had grown after having received their mystical armaments and always made sure to feed the kingdom's heroes plenty.
"It's awfully odd," remarked Angus through a warm buttered roll, "Us all having the same dream. Do ya think it means somthin?"
"Odd?" asked Garrett swallowing a bit of peppered eggs, "This coming from a man who summons magical armor with only a phrase and fights off evil monsters at least once a week? It's more than just odd, I'd be willing to bet that Ivar and Deirdre had the same dream."
"Well great, what does it mean?" asked Angus.
"I don't know what it means," replied Rohan, "But that White Knight might need our help, and I wouldn't be surprised if Maeve is behind all this somehow. When Ivar and Dierdre get here, we'll ask them what they think."
The three ate in silence for a while, enjoying Cook's food. They didn't have to wait long before the final two Knights entered the room.
"Did you have the dream too?" asked Dierdre, Knight of Air, without preamble. The others simply nodded.
Ivar, Knight of Water, sighed as he sat down and began to help himself to breakfast. "Well then, what do we do about it?" asked the blue clad, dark skinned man
"I think we should check it out," replied Rohan. "We're too late for the battle, but there may be something we can do." The others simply nodded and they finished their breakfast in silence.
When breakfast was done the five of them explained the situation to King Connchobar, saddled five horses from the royal stables and were off. The countryside of Kells was beautiful with its plethora of greenery and life. The five Mystic Knights, granted the power of mystic elements were the protectors of this life. Not just of the humans who inhabited the land, but of the land itself, and so, as they traveled south at a steady pace, they began to sense that something was wrong.
On the surface, everything seemed fine, the village around the castle was a bustling as always, the people taking time to stop what they were doing to hail the Knights or wish them luck, and the animals of the countryside acted as one would expect. However there was an undercurrent to the powers of life and of nature˛ magic. And it was a disturbance in this magic that began the Knights uneasy.
The five traveled at a brisk pace, stopping only at midday for lunch. When the sun finally began to set on their right, the companions found a place where a copse of trees made a fairly good shelter and began to make camp.
Angus stretched his aching muscles unused to riding. The rouge had never planned on being a knight, much less a hero and his training in horsemanship was minimal. "How much further to the forest?" he asked, grunting in pain.
"Who ever heard of a knight who couldn't ride?" scoffed Garrett
Angus just made a face and began unpacking his gear.
"We should be to the Black Forest before noon tomorrow." Deirdre said to Angus.
Rohan took his turn in cooking the group's meal, managing not to burn anything too badly.
"What do you think we'll find when we get there?" asked Ivar. He was staring in to the fire, his bowl now empty of food. For a long while, the only sounds came from the night life of the land surrounding them.
"Well," said Rohan, "It's already been a day since the battle, we may find nothing."
"Or worse, we'll find a body," replied Angus.
Garrett shook his head, "If we do find a body, we'll at least have some idea of what was going on."
"The Battle Fire," the others turned to look at Deirdre, "In the dream, the White Knight lost the Battle Fire to the Black Knight." She looked up to the star spangled sky. "Have any of you ever heard of such a thing before?"
No one answered in the affirmative, just shook their heads silently.
"Presumably the White Knight was guarding it from the Black Knight," hypothesized Ivar, "Now that the Black Knight has it, this Battle Fire will likely make him quite dangerous."
"So, even if we don't see him in the Black Forest, we'll probably be hearing from him soon," added Garrett.
"But is he a new threat, or does he work for Maeve?" asked Deirdre.
"That's just what we need," grumped Angus, "Another loony tryin to take over the island."
"But," said Ivar, "If he is a threat to Maeve as well as us, they will have to divide their attacking forces."
The conversation died away after that, each knight caught up in their own thoughts. Soon enough Rohan was the last one left awake as he had taken first watch; the others were curled up in their blankets. Angus snored softly.
Rohan sat in the middle of camp; the Sword of Kells lay across his knees reflecting the stars' light, almost seeming to glow with a pearly fire. He rubbed absently at his shoulder where the mark was, the mark that proclaimed him Maeve's son and Prince of Temra. All Rohan wanted was peace for Kells and its neighbors. Unfortunately their struggle against Maeve, his mother, seemed to be never ending. Taking a deep breath, Rohan wrenched his thoughts from that gloomy path and settled in for his watch.
The Mystic Knights had left their horses tethered just inside the forest. They were walking at a cautious pace between the trees, following no visible path but instead moving to where the wrongness in the flow of natural magic was centered. The minimal light made for confusing shadows, even once their vision had adjusted. Finally, after several minutes of walking the five spotted a more brightly lit area, indicating a thinning in the trees. The wrongness was coming directly from that area.
Rohan held up a hand and the knights stopped. "There may be trouble ahead, let's be prepared." The five drew their weapons and proceeded cautiously.
Once at the edge of the clearing, they saw only the armored body of the White Knight and the obvious signs of the struggle. Quickly they moved to the man's side only to find that the armor was empty.
"That's odd," commented Deirdre.
An evil chuckle floated over the clearing causing the knights to assume readied stances, weapons at the ready.
"Who's there?" challenged Garrett, brandishing his Twin Axes.
The Black Knight astride his horse leapt from a sudden red fog that had coalesced from nowhere. The evil knight rode at the five, wielding a large double edged sword.
Deirdre raised her bow, drew, and fired the magical arrow that had appeared on its own. Thrice more in rapid succession did the Knight of Air release a missile. The four projectiles sped for their target and then, in a slight warping of space, he was past them unharmed.
Before any of the rest of them could react, the evil knight was upon them, slashing with his wicked blade, causing the heroes to scatter. As he slowed his mounted and whirled about for another charge, the five Mystic Knights gathered again to face him.
"I don't know who you are or where you came from," shouted Rohan, "but your evil stops here."
"FIRE WITHIN ME!"
"AIR ABOVE ME!"
"WATER AROUND ME!"
"EARTH BENEATH ME!"
"FOREST BEFORE ME!"
Ivar could hear the mystical song as it vibrated throughout his being. A raging rush of power, a cool still well of energy. The joy and rush of the magic of the land filled him and changed him. The Knight of Water knew that in the moment he had raised his weapon of power and shouted the magical phrase that he would change from one for to another and that only for that moment would he be in this state of incredible sensory perception, but while he was there it felt like it could go no forever. But there was evil in this land he was sworn to protect, and he had the power to do something about it.
The Black Knight charged, and Ivar released an arc of blue energy, but the target again twisted space and easily avoided the blast. A stream of fire from Rohan, several arrows from Deirdre and a slash of energy from Garrett, yet the Black Knight still charged. Angus stood swinging his Terra Mace and as the other four knights quickly dodged the charging enemy, he instead leapt.
Impetuous and illogical, the move was more what a thief might attempt, not a knight. Therefore, it worked perfectly. The grey clad knight stuck his enemy in a flying tackle and the two tumbled to the ground.
Angus found himself very glad that his armor was magical. If he'd been tumbling around on the ground like this in mundane metal clothes, he'd likely have been crushed. When he finally came to his feet, Angus found the Black Knight already standing and swinging his massive bladed weapon his direction. Swinging the Terra Mace, the metal chain came up just in time to deflect the blow from the enemy. The Black Knight moved to swing again, and Angus knew he'd be unable to stop a second blow in time. A red and gold armored figure smashed into the Black Knight. Angus took a few steps back, and watched at Rohan and the evil knight did battle.
The Knight of Fire parried with the Sword of Kells then struck at the Black Knight causing his opponent to fall back. As Rohan prepared to press the advantage, he sensed Deirdre and paused. The Knight of Air fired two magical arrows at the evil knight. The Black Knight fell back further. Rohan struck again and the evil knight prepared to counter strike. Then Garret rushed in and attacked with his Twin Axes. Their opponent was caught completely off guard and tried to fall back, but the Mystic Knights surrounded the man.
"Surrender now," Deirdre offered, "And your life will be spared."
"Hah!" spat the Black Knight, "This is the honor of the Mystic Knight of Kells?"
"As you showed honor in attacking us while mounted?" Ivar returned.
"You've been given your chance to surrender Sir Knight," Garret repeated Deirdre's offer. "Do you yield?"
The man raised his sword. "Never."
The Black Knight leapt at Garret. Space warped and before the Knight of Forest even knew what happened, he was on the ground, a gash in the side of his armor. The other knights leapt to attack, but somehow the Black Knight was much faster. He easily dodged the Knight of Air's arrows, knocked the bow from her hands and dropped her with one strike. Angus whirled his Terra Mace above his head and let fly magical stones at his enemy. The Black Knight charged the Knight of Earth, and kicked Angus in the stomach then struck him across the back of the head with his sword.
Ivar and Rohan stood side by side, three of their companions on the ground, not moving. As one, the let loose a torrent of energy from their weapons. Once again however, the Black Knight bent space and manipulated time. Rohan was disarmed and slashed across the thighs. Ivar took a blow to the back. Both Knights fell and did not rise.
Sir Crannach, the Black Knight, caught his horse and mounted as several more mounted figures appeared through the trees. Crannach approached the lead riders.
"Your majesty," Crannach bowed in his saddle. "I present the Mystic Knights, more or less in one piece."
Maeve, Queen of Temra smiled. "Well done Sir Knight."
Torc, Maeve's General and bodyguard, nodded gruffly his approval.
"And now," said Crannach, "For your end of the deal."
Maeve smiled. "Of course." The sorceress closed her eyes. For several minutes she was still, then she opened them and smiled. "I have found him. It will require you peculiar brand of magic to get to him however."
Crannach reached out with his magic and combined it with Maeve's. In a few moments, reddish fog had appeared at the far end of the clearing. The Black Knight smiled. "Excellent. By your leave your Majesty."
Queen Maeve nodded her approval and Sir Crannach wheeled his horse about and rode into the mist.
Once the Black Knight was gone, Maeve ordered the soldiers she had brought with her to relieve the prone Mystic Knights of their weapons and armor, bind them, and imprison them.
Maeve smiled at Torc. "And you were worried about allying with Crannach."
"Aye," Torc replied, "I was. But it got us the Mystic Knights so it worked out in the end."
"Indeed it did. Soon Torc, I shall rule this isle."
Torc bowed, "Yes your Majesty."
The violet clad army of Temra, their prisoners secured, began the march back to home territory. For the first time in the history of the war between Temra and Kells, Temra held the upper hand.