"That still just doesn't make any sense!" Rei said, as they stumbled out of the wood line.
"I've explained it at least three to four times already. I don't know how to make it any more understandable." Bard told her.
"How in the world can you just assume this? Hell's Keep is supposed to be a desolate land. Why would you suddenly think they are there of all places? I don't want to go down there and you're wrong."
"Think, Rei! It's on the south axis of this planet. No one would think anything of that place, so it's perfect for evil lairs. And if you heard that knight, he specifically mentioned he was back where he slept for two hundred years. Years before you were born, that figure, who is generally referred to as the 'Demon Commander', was sealed there for two hundred years."
"Back up. How do you know that?"
"I've been many places, Rei."
"Ok, well let me change the question. Why does this Demon Commander being sealed in Hell's Keep make you believe my parents are there because he said that he was there again? Or did I just confuse myself?"
"The Commander insisted that he was your father, correct?"
"Yes, but we both know that isn't true."
"In a manner of speaking, yes. But from another perspective, he is. You said your father wouldn't tell you anything about your heritage?"
"Yes…where are you going with this?"
"I see now that he had very good reason to do so. You may not understand, but it was better that you never knew. Your father once wore that suit of black armor, Rei."
Rei blinked. She tried to speak, but couldn't produce a single word. She appeared as if she was trying to protest. Bard continued.
"However, despite what his wishes are, I will tell you everything."
Rei blinked again. Keena raised an eyebrow, as if she was also curious.
"It's been told that over two hundred years ago, a mysterious black armor-clad knight arose from seemingly nowhere and began to cause disturbances along with some other alien-related trouble. Somewhere along the line he had gotten a hold of precious pieces of powerful mithril, that enhanced his own power and allowed him to freely control alienkind, or as you know as 'Aparus'. The knight, your father, waged war against humanity, tearing disaster across the planet. This period became known as the 'Epoch Nightmare'. Before your father destroyed everything, three immortal champions appeared from another rift and took arms against him. For reasons unknown, they sealed his body away in Hell's Keep, rather than killing him. His power came from five extremely powerful specimens of mithril that I mentioned earlier. They are known as the sacred Gems. Claw, Horn, Wing, Tail, and Blade, the last being created by your father himself from what it originally was. These pieces were also put away in various places, guarded by aliens that were genetically enhanced by the very pieces they guarded. The Sky Guardians as they became known stayed in this world to keep the aliens guarding the Gems in check, to ensure they did not rampage or attempt to rebel against the rebuilding human race. While things such as speedlings couldn't be helped, the larger aliens never left their posts. Meanwhile, for two hundred years your father slumbered inside his crystal prison. Hell's Keep possessed no energy resources for miles, making it ideal to keep him from gaining power ever again. However, after those two hundred years, he was somehow freed. He was already weakened, and ran out of energy, thus reverting back to his original human form. Being severed from his power he couldn't remember anything of his past life, and adopted a different personality. Somewhere along the line he served under the planet's military system. Everything went wrong when a madman masked as a military authority had him and his fellow operatives seek out these Gems. To make a long story short, after he came into contact with all of them, his memory returned, traumatized to the point of almost committing suicide. However, the company of his close friends, one in particular, allowed him to suppress his dark side. If not for them, or her more importantly, he would more than likely have rose again and sought out destruction. Because his genetic make up is in possession of alien DNA strands, he was capable of performing unique abilities with certain equipment. He needed something to use as a weapon to essentially use it, and with his imagination, learned to use his own body as one. It was power no one else had. This is why you may have such a deadly ability. Most human beings are only capable of small things, such as throwing a fist-sized fireball a short distance or lowering the temperature of something they touch. You have the capability to steal the life from others. It may sound strange to you, but your father's blood runs in your veins. It's highly likely you possess some alien DNA."
Rei choked on words. Keena spoke up.
"Bard, stop trying to scare her. Do you think this is a joke?"
Bard wasn't smiling or laughing. His expression remained emotionless.
"As frightful as it may seem, it's the hard truth. If you father told you, you would hear similar words."
Rei finally spit it out. "I don't want to believe it…but it makes too much sense. But Dad's not that old!"
Bard folded his arms. "He was sealed. He never aged."
"How do you know all of this? You talk like you were his best friend. Bard? You know Dad, don't you? How?"
"All in due time. I'll tell you soon enough. First, we need to find him."
Rei sighed. She wanted more answers but knew he was right. Her main objective came first.
"So if he's in Hell's Keep, which is REALLY far from here by foot, how are we supposed to get there more efficiently?"
Keena held her hand over her eyes and looked toward the sky. "I don't think traveling will be a problem."
A large shadow descended across the plane. Rei and Bard turned to see what she meant. A familiar airship loomed overhead. An insignia was embossed on the side of the hull. A giant "V". A smaller vessel was flying toward their direction. As it landed in front of them, two people stepped from the craft. Rei knew both of them.
"It's…you two…the S.H.I.E.L.D. guy and the Captain that saved my life."
The captain laughed. Along with the duster, he now wore a buccaneer-style hat with white feathers sticking out from both sides. Two blades were sheathed at his hips. He removed his hat and spoke.
"I'm sorry we couldn't make a proper introduction last time we met. My name is Glenn Venture. It's good to see you're still alright. Takes me back to all of the times I had to cover for your father."
The other man held out his hand. Rei shook it as he made his own introduction.
"Call me Jace. Mr. Canon or sir I look around to see if you're talking to someone else."
Rei scratched her head. "I'm glad to have made a proper acquaintance, but how did you even find us here?"
Jace held up a small device. It looked to be a form of radar.
"Glenn immediately came to me after he had spoken to you. Before you left his ship he told me he had a tracking beacon placed in your bow, when he upgraded it. He could show me your exact location, and we had since monitored your movement. But at one point you disappeared completely, and we came looking for you. You only came back online moments ago."
Glenn returned his hat to his head and crossed his arms. "The Howling Woodlands are rather thick. Could have been interference."
Jace carried on. "So here we are. Have you found any new leads or information?"
She nodded. "I believe so. We're under suspicion they are being held in a place called Hell's Keep."
Glenn and Jace exchanged looks. Jace rubbed his chin.
"So it is…with the schematics of the armor Magnum Chaos was notorious for wearing, why not Hell's Keep? It's perfect for staying undercover. Absolutely no one goes there."
Glenn nodded. "Then let's waste no more time. Rei, we will carry you there. I'll contact the rest of my fleet and we will storm their base of operations. Our friends' lives are defendant on it, or more importantly your parents. You have our support, Rei."
Rei motioned to Bard and Keena and nodded back to Glenn. "Next stop is Hell's Keep. Let's go!"