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THE NIENTE PART 2

by Pete Sylvinski
Koyoko

As the Niente raced towards Nenziel and his followers dispatching without judgment those who stood in their way, Mwo was correct, the gate was almost open. Nenziel still stood away from the gate with his head bowed. His eyes were closed and a look of serenity and power filled his face. He was continuing to absorb the strength from the gate. He had not felt this strong in awhile and thoughts did not fill his head as the wind lightly blew at his robe. With his powers increasing Nenziel's figure began to glow a color not unlike that cast by the gate. The entire clearing was now covered in the crimson color. The light seemed to penetrate, appearing as if it was trying to devour everything that it touched.

Nenziel's followers were still circled around the gate and were all on their knees praying towards it, certain that heaven was on the other side. These men truly did believe that Nenziel was an emissary of their God and were certain that he, with their help, would bring peace to Earth as Nenziel had preached. Although all of the followers were mostly young men, they were a conglomerate of the inhabitants of the country. Coming from many different backgrounds Nenziel had plucked them from their villages and towns over the years. They were not ignorant or zealous religious followers initially. Now, however, they were devoted to Nenziel body and soul and would go to almost any length to serve him. There was one however, who did not believe and hadn't for some time. Koyoko sat back in the forest hidden by its dense trees. He had thrown his hood back and his long black straight hair rested upon his shoulders. His dark slanted eyes surveyed the meadow with a look of contempt. He recognized a familiar scene, one he had experienced years ago. At one time he had believed every word Nenziel uttered. It was definitely the biggest mistake of his life. He yearned for his family and the peaceful village he grew up in. Why had he been so quick to join Nenziel and the other men in their religious rising? He couldn't exactly remember the reasons now, but the one thing he could remember and all too vividly was his first experience with building a gate.

_________

It had been in a setting not unlike the one now, but very far to the east of. In a break from the dense growth of the thick jungle and surrounded by steep misty mountains, a much younger Koyoko and the dozens of other men he had joined to follow Nenziel, had just finished placing the last cube high upon the unstable scaffolding. The sun had set hours ago revealing a star filled sky on a moonless night.

Koyoko and the men whom he had worked along side all day were exhausted. They weren't a large group, not nearly as large as Nenziel's new following, maybe eighty or ninety. Seeing that the men were done Nenziel walked into gate his whole body passing through the crisscrossing supports as if they weren't there. To his followers it was another sign that Nenziel was a true prophet. He had never done any harm.

Koyoko and the men watched as Nenziel made his way to the center of the gate. Wondering what he was doing, Koyoko turned a questioning glance at the others, but their faces held clueless expressions also. From the center of the gate Nenziel raised his head in a regal posture and called out to his followers.

"Our work here is almost complete. With this gate you have helped me built we will end suffering and bring justice to the unholy." With his declaration over with Nenziel reached inside his robe and pulled out a cube. Nenziel's audience gasped as it had seemed that the cube appeared out of nowhere. There had been no bulge in his robes.

"Behold," yelled Nenziel, "In my hands is the key to the gate. It is not only the key to the gate, but it is the key to our salvation!"

Triumphantly Nenziel raised the cube above his head and then set it on the ground in the middle of the gate. A smile of satisfaction stretched out across his lips and the surrounding forest seemed to draw in its breath. He then proceeded to walk out from under the structure with the air of a man who has just seen all his efforts accomplished. Swiftly he turned around and raised his arms. Strange words and noises came out of his mouth and then the key started to turn.

Koyoko stared in amazement as the cube that had been placed on the ground began to rise. When the cube arrived at the center of the gate it started to slowly spin on its diagonal axes. In an instant the cube was spinning rapidly producing a blurred image that resembled a sphere and the scaffolding that was supporting the elevated cubes splintered into a thousand pieces with a loud crack and a flash of white light. Although the scaffolding was no more, the cubes remained suspended in the air seemingly defying gravity. Suddenly Koyoko felt dizzy. He became weak and dropped to his knees. It was almost as if his energy had been suddenly drained. He looked around and all the other men were also on their knees. They could not believe what they were witnessing.

Koyoko slowly rose to his feet and continued to stare at the gate. He knew he was part of a great change. The opening of the gate would bring peace to Earth as Nenziel had said. Nenziel, God's true prophet, had led the way and here they were witnessing another miracle.

Nenziel had preached that the conflicts that arose from human ignorance would end when everyone finally saw the true face of God. God's way had been bastardized. Nenziel taught that overtime man had perverted and warped the one true belief to his own ends. This alteration happened in many ways, but mostly through government. Government and religion have almost always been intertwined. When man puts the power and words of God behind his leadership that leadership is rarely questioned. A leader of a nation will say, 'but, I am enforcing God's will.' and because the population believes it is God's will, they obey. A corrupt leader knows this and uses it to his advantage. Keep the population uneducated and God's will, becomes the leader's agenda.

Nenziel said that in the past and what was still the case today rulers are incorrectly looked upon as God kings and they were said to inherit their rule by "divine right". Blind allegiance to this individual who says he rules the land with the laws of God had just compounded the problem. Nenziel taught that in a way we were responsible for the changes. We had never questioned how God had become so cruel and our leaders so rich. Nenziel taught us to question and then showed us the way. He showed us miracles that had never been seen before. People that were blind could see, when we prayed to his God the rains came and entire villages no longer starved. After every miracle he asked that we praise God and not him. It was easy to tell that Nenziel was exhausted, but he always gave and never ask us to do anything, but follow him and his peaceful ways. Then he asked us to build a gate.

Koyoko looked around at the men and for a moment was caught up in their bliss. Some were crying and others simply stared at the gate not saying a word. He saw Nenziel standing off to the side away from everybody and his body posture suggested that he was anxious and very tense. He thought of going over to check on him, but he was sure everything was okay. Besides he had something he needed to do.

Koyoko took one last glance at the gate and wondered what it would be look like when he returned. He tried to turn away from the gate and head towards the jungle, but he couldn't. His legs would not move. It was as if he didn't have the energy to tear himself away from the gate. He just wanted to stare at it. With all the willpower he could muster Koyoko moved one leg after the other and headed out of the crowd of men encircling the gate. The crowd did not part for him as he left. They were staring at the gate in ecstasy and had time for nothing else. No one, not even Nenziel noticed him leaving.

___________

As Koyoko finally exited the crowd he scanned the edge of the jungle for the path he had found earlier that day. Finally taking sight of a spot where the vines parted a little and the jungle was not as dense, Koyoko recognized the opening into the dense foliage. Pushing vines and branches out of his way Koyoko walked along and thought about the future. He felt as if nothing could go wrong. Soon Nenziel's gate would be open and the world would be saved from its miserable wretchedness. It was much more humid in the cover of the jungle and Koyoko slapped away mosquitoes that swarmed around him. He quickened his pace as he did not want to miss the gate being opened, but first he must participate in one ritual that he had held onto. It was an old ritual taught to him by the religion of his father. Koyoko had not performed a sacrifice in years and had had no use for the custom, but tonight it just seemed like the right thing to do. It was after all the coming of the God.

Koyoko stopped walking and looked around. The jungle was so dense it was almost impossible to see in the dark. Anxiety gripped him as he thought that he may have strayed from the path and was lost. It wasn't that far of a walk, how could he have gotten lost? Koyoko looked around for a familiar landmark. Directly ahead of him he spotted a peculiar silhouette. It was too peculiar to be natural. Suddenly the silhouette jumped up into the air, squealed loudly and ran towards Koyoko. The shape charged hard, but came to a quick halt as it seemed something held it back. Koyoko laughed nervously realizing that the darkness has tricked him, he was in the right spot. The wild boar that he ensnared earlier in the day continued to try to charge Koyoko, but to no avail as the tether he was tied to was too strong to break. Not far from the animal lay the pyre he had also built earlier that day.

Koyoko walked towards the boar keeping his distance from its tusks. It was a small boar, but still dangerous. The rope he had used to tie the beast to a large tree was not long and didn't allow the boar much movement. Koyoko walked around to the boar's backside. The boar was louder than ever and tried with all its might to break free. Koyoko looked down upon the animal with sympathy as it was now obviously trying to run for its life and had no intentions of attack. Koyoko reached for the knife that was held by the sash around his waist. He knelt down and applied the pressure of his body to the boar's back pinning the animal against the ground. The boar grunted and squealed in protest. Holding the knife in his right hand, Koyoko used his left to grab the boar's head and pull it back, making the neck more accessible. The boar tried to fight, but found it impossible to move. When the boar finally settled down Koyoko took the blade and ran it along the length of its neck. Blood squirted out in a pulsating fountain and the boar struggled some more before finally settling down as its time on earth was now over.

Koyoko cut the rope used to tie the boar to the tree and then wiped the blood off his blade before tucking it back into his sash. When the outpour of blood had finally turned to a trickle Koyoko picked the animal up and walked over to the sacrificial alter making sure not to slip in the large pool of blood that now lay on the ground. Gently he set the animal on top of the branches and twigs that he had piled waist high. Grabbing a small sack that was also tucked into his sash Koyoko knelt down opening the sack and pulled out two small stones. He held one stone in each hand and struck them together over the dry leaves that would serve as the kindling for the pyre. With each strike of the stones sparks flew out touching the leaves until eventually they started to smolder and catch on fire.

Koyoko took a few steps back and watched as the leaves set fire to the twigs and the twigs set fire to the larger branches until his face was lit up with orange light and the smoke raced upwards through the trees and into the night sky. As the fire consumed the boar Koyoko got down on his knees and closed his eyes. He didn't pray for anyone thing, but thanked his Lord for giving him the opportunity to be a part of the cleansing of the earth.

Koyoko opened his eyes and stared blankly at the fire. He thought about a number of things. Although his journey with Nenziel had been long and exhausting, it was the most satisfied feeling he had ever had in his life. The time he had spent with Nenziel traveling and gathering new followers had seemed to take a lifetime. He couldn't wait to return to his village and be with his family again. As Koyoko envisioned a world without disease, poverty, famine and violence his deep contemplation was broken by horrid screams coming from the direction of the gate. He snapped to attention and quickly rose to his feet turning towards the screams. What was going on? Without hesitation he ran through the jungle to find out. Voices and shouting filled the air. Sweat poured down Koyoko's brow and the branches from the trees and shrubs tore at him and his clothing. It seemed as if he was running in slow motion and would never reach the edge of the jungle. Time was standing still, yet it seemed like everything was happening too fast as his legs carried him along.

As Koyoko ran out of the jungle and into the clearing where they had finished building the gate just awhile ago, he tripped over a stone that jutted out from the ground. Koyoko slid across the dewy grass and the air was knocked out of his lungs. Regaining his composure and attempting to get up Koyoko was knocked back down to the ground as something struck him in the back. Dazed Koyoko looked around to find out what the object was. When he found it he stared in disbelief. Several feet from him lay a severed human arm. It appeared that it had been ripped of its owner's shoulder. The skin surrounding the now detached joint looked like a ragged torn cloth and muscle hung around the bone like a piece of chewed up meat. Blood dripped slowly onto the ground. Koyoko let out a barely audible scream and scurried back into the cover of the jungle. Unable to stand from shock Koyoko sat motionless on the ground surrounded by thick brush. His eyes were focused on the surreal as before him. Koyoko's stomach tightened and he leaned over vomiting. When he had left to walk into the jungle everything was peaceful and they were fixated on the gate. Now laid to waste and scattered all over the field were the men that Nenziel had been gathering. Corpses with their heads cut off, bodies split in two or missing limbs lay everywhere. What on earth had happened? He couldn't see anybody with a breath of life left. Where the gate had been now lay a pile of rubble.

Suddenly Koyoko's attention was grabbed by a body slamming into the ground from above. The body bounced once and rolled over revealing the face of a woman. How did she get here? There had been no woman in the camp. Green light flashed in the sky above Koyoko. Thinking it was the end of the world Koyoko looked up. There, as high as the tree tops, he saw Nenziel and three other figures seemingly walking on air.

Nenziel dodged right and then left as one of the figures, a man, flung arcs of green light from his arms. Nenziel darted further up in the air and came down behind the man. The man was too slow and Nenziel drove his staff through the man's back. Just as quickly, he withdrew the staff and the man's body fell to the ground landing with a thump.

Koyoko ran out of the jungle and yelled to Nenziel. Hearing him, Nenziel looked down at Koyoko in puzzlement.

"Nenziel! Look out!" Koyoko yelled.

Koyoko watched as Nenziel jerked forward barely dodging the sword that had been swung at him. While the figure holding the sword was extended Nenziel swung his arm at the man's head. Where Nenziel' fingernails had been, blades shot out of each finger cutting the man's head open from the middle of his forehead down to his right ear. With a quick blur Nenziel descended to the ground. He watched as the Wu-tang swordmaster's body landed among the rest of the corpses. In Nenziel' left hand he held his staff and in his right he held the severed face of the man he had just killed. Directly opposite, but at a distance from Nenziel another figure landed with a blur. Koyoko looked at the man and noticed six symmetrical markings on his forehead. It was a Shaolin monk. What was he doing here? They were known to be peaceful. Nenziel smiled and took in the monk.

"Your move monk. Of course all your friends are dead. Do you think that you can possibly defeat me by yourself?"

"Nenziel it's not a question of if, but when," answered Shin-Lau.

In the blink of an eye Shin-Lau had closed the distance between them and was upon Nenziel. Using all his abilities learned in the Shaolin temples since his birth, Shin-Lau unleashed technique after technique on Nenziel. Nenziel blocked every one and countered with a blow to Shin-Lau's sternum cracking it and sending him flying in the opposite direction.

"Is that all you have monk. My, my I would have to say that you are much weaker than your predecessors. Face it, soon your world will be mine again and there is nothing you can do about it."

Shin-Lau stood hunched over, blood dripping from his mouth. With a cold glare he looked up at Nenziel.

"Old man, do not be so arrogant."

"Old you call me? Time is a human concept. I will outlast you and your descendents."

Shin-Lau jumped into the air releasing a barrage of quick kicks known as the kick blade technique at Nenziel' head. Caught by surprise Nenziel felt each of the 36 kicks strike his head and was knocked backwards dropping his staff. Shin-Lau, exhausted, landed on the ground softly and looked at Nenziel. He looked up and drew his breath in a quick gasp surprised that Nenziel was still standing and that he was not even bleeding. Nenziel could not believe that he had been touched. None of the Niente had ever laid a finger on him. However, he did not betray his thoughts.

"Don't be surprised monk. I do not bleed. I'm done playing with you anyway."

Nenziel held out his arm and his staff jumped into his hand. Gripping it with both his hands he held the staff out in front of him and started to spin it. A red ball of light appeared at the center of the spinning staff and shot out at Shin-Lau scoring a direct hit. Shin-Lau was knocked all the way across the field and into the jungle. He slammed into a tree and fell to the ground unconscious, but not dead.

Satisfied that he had killed the latest installment of the Niente, but swearing to destroy their group once and for all Nenziel turned to look at Koyoko. Koyoko stood motionless with a vacant look in his eyes. The wind blew at Koyoko's hair, but he seemed not to notice.

"Well Koyoko do you see now what hell has sent to stop us," asked Nenziel resuming his role as God's prophet.

Koyoko said nothing and just continued to stare at Nenziel. He wanted to speak, but he couldn't. Words couldn't describe what he had just seen and if they could he wasn't too sure he could speak them anyway.

Nenziel looked at Koyoko deciding whether he would be useful or if he should kill him. Somehow this man had survived the Niente and that was never the case. He thought about it for a second and then decided that he could use this man to his advantage. After witnessing the slaughter of his friends and then watching his mentor fend off the attackers he would surely be a devoted follower. It was always easier to build a following after you had one. Koyoko would help him build another gate and this time the gate would definitely open.

And Koyoko had helped Nenziel. At first he dedicated his life to the man not wanting his friends to die in vain. When Nenziel told him that they would be heading far to the west he did not argue. He followed as he thought he should.

As days turned into weeks and weeks turned into months the pair traveled across foreign lands. Here and there they would find people to join them in their cause, but only a few. Nenziel wanted the majority of the new following to come from where they were headed. More and more Koyoko became unsettled by his decision to follow Nenziel. It was a feeling from deep within that told him that he may have made a terrible mistake. He knew he was wrong to have these feelings. How could he possibly abandon the memory of his friends? They had wished for the same world he had. They had also, unlike him, died for it. And then he had a dream.

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