He ran. Fast. Advancing quickly through the eternal expanse of darkness before him. The boy felt his leg muscles contract and expand, felt the distance being covered at a steady, yet insanely swift pace. The longer he ran the more things he had begun to notice. The sound of his footsteps coming at a very impressive rate, the beads of sweat that trickled down his face and, most importantly, the fact that he was screaming wildly; a shrill battle cry. His right elbow was bent and his hand pulled back and balled into a fist. His demeanor was euphoric, but somewhere in his mind, tiny seeds of hatred and anger had taken root. It was a strange mixture of feelings and he found it odd.

His face held the expression of the utter anarchy that clouded his mind. His eyes were wide and bloodshot. The sides of his open, salivating mouth were twisted upwards as though being drawn to the base of his eyes and two lined patterns adorned each of his cheeks in the color of crimson.

As he covered more distance, three figures came into view. The first was that of a woman. She was both young and beautiful, her long indigo hair draping over her shoulders and merging into the likewise colored cape that blocked the rest of her body from view. There were strange markings on her cheeks that curved inward as if to meet each other beneath her eyes. Her steel colored eyes were piercing, intrusive even, and held the potential for both a sense of focus and a capacity for immense cruelty within.

 Beside her stood a young man with carefree blue eyes that barely peeked out from under his mass of spiky blond hair. He was smiling, causing the double lined patterns on his cheeks to curve downward slightly. This young man seemed restless, but not at all worried about the teenager headed his way. He merely stuck one of his hands into his dark blue yukata, directly under the platinum cuirass that rested over it, and waited.

    The third figure had stood behind the first two. His steel gray eyes held the same penetrating power as the girl’s; however his were somehow more menacing. Much more. He stared out calmly, yet malevolently, through his one-sided headpiece. There was a scar on the right side of his face, from his forehead right down to the top of his lips, but it did nothing to diminish his good looks. His golden hair was at waist length, with a long shock of it falling over and covering the entire left side of his ageless face.

    The boy drew closer, his maniacal eyes and sinister grin widening to inhuman proportions. His battle cry broke off into a series of insane sounding, high pitched shrieks as he bounded closer and closer. When he was within a few meters of the trio he leapt into the air lunging directly at the man in the back, his maniacal laughter coming to a crescendo. The two young ones vanished in that instant, blurring into view a few meters away in opposite directions, their smirking faces calm and collected. The remaining man’s eyes glazed over for just one second, before he darted forward to meet the being that headed his way.

    The strange melting pot of emotions welling up inside the boy, the anger, the hatred and the extreme feeling of happiness exploded suddenly, culminating in one single feeling. He brought his arm back further aiming for the man’s head. This was anger. He stiffened his fist. This was hatred. He then let his fist fly, his maniacal laughter echoing in the darkness. This was FEAR!!!

    The sobriety of the first punch had been immense. He hadn’t even seen when it came. The man’s fist was embedded into the middle of his face, bringing with it the force of a speeding truck. Before he could be thrown backward, the second punch connected. His abdomen tightened as a shockwave of sheer power jolted through his body from that point. Blood shot out unmercifully from behind his clenched teeth. The chaos that held his mind in shrouds shattered immediately, bringing the world around him back into focus.

    There was no darkness. In fact, the room around them all was brightly lit. At the far end rested an ornate throne; a red carpet leading up to it from the entrance. There were tiny stands with black orbs as finials, lined up equidistantly on either side of the carpet. Red, gold-trimmed banners hung from three of the four metal walls, all bearing an odd emblem. Other than these things, the room was bare.

    The third blow came in quick succession to the first two, directly into his right cheek. The newly awakened young man was sent skating backwards on his feet from the combined force of all three attacks, and soon found himself crashing into the bare wall, his body deeply embedded into it and cracking it several meters in every conceivable direction. A strange light shot out from every orifice of his face and soon a thin layer of skin began to peel off his face, revealing the startled features of a dark-skinned youth underneath. Completely peeled off, the skin hardened in midair and clattered to the ground, showing itself to have been nothing but a fiendish-looking mask.

    The ageless man took a few steps towards him, his dark red cloak brushing the ground after each step. The teenager struggled, but found that his impact had warped the metal of the wall around his limbs and had him trapped.

    “W-what!?” exclaimed the young man, still desperately trying to free himself. There was a tense silence as the man stopped directly in front of the youth.

    “The where and the why are inconsequential. All that matters is that you are here,” said the man in a deep, commanding and oddly philosophical tone. The young man shuddered, but resisted the intimidation as best he could.

    “W-who are you?” he queried, his eyes narrowing, “Where is she!?” Another flow of blood escaped his lips. “Answer me!”

    “I can’t believe it,” the man went on, not in the least bit perturbed by the youth’s outburst, “You actually thought you could get away with what you did?” He stared at the boy once more. “However...it is understandable...”

The young woman he’d seen earlier had moved a bit closer to observe the scene. She took one look at the boy and chuckled slightly.     “Make him squeal...” her words were said with a strangely perverted amusement.

The teen grunted a bit, making an effort once again to try to escape his little prison. When he found that he couldn’t, he glanced at them and resigned himself to the consolation prize of saying, “Go screw yourselves.”

    “Don’t feel too bad,” the man said quickly, his piercing grey eyes fixed on his captive, “To err is human, which means your lack of common sense is shared with your entire species.” The boy smirked, determined not to show his captors any form of weakness.

    “I suppose that’s an insult of some sort...” he trailed off as he noticed the younger man walk up to him. With lightning quick movements, the teen was extracted from the wall and hurled backward to the floor, landing hard. Before he could reorient himself, his young assailant pinned him down, holding his left arm firmly behind his back. He yelled in pain, beginning a new struggle. “Hey...let go of me!”

    “Oi, don’t make this harder than it has to be!” came the reply. The older man chuckled at the futility of their captive’s struggling and reached out his left arm, revealing a triple-layered silver gauntlet with clawed fingers.

    “This gauntlet is your punishment,” he started, while removing the piece of armor, “if it chooses you, you shall be granted power the likes of which no human has ever seen. If it doesn’t...” The ageless man took a few steps towards the still-struggling young man. Though it was faint, there was suddenly a bit of sadism in his voice as he continued, “You lose your left arm. Either way...the pain will be immense.” The teen’s ears perked up immediately, but the sharp pain he felt flowing up his arm when the man forced the gauntlet onto it interrupted his vocal protest.

    The pain was excruciating. The boy’s eyes widened as the burning sensation increased tenfold with each passing second. He gritted his teeth, firmly determined not to show any signs of weakness to his captors. Soon, the pain grew to agonizing levels and he was unable to hold it in any longer.