The Darkening of the Night
by Nightshade

The room was in an uproar. New guardians and First Century alike were confused. Where were the leaders of the Council? Wasn't this the most important of all the meetings since the First Ones left? Confusion and chaos reigned for many a minute, until the door opened. The Council waited for word of something.

The only person to walk in was Shadow Guardian, dressed all in black. The somber face and lack of formal attire made the suddenly quiet Council murmur in confusion. Dressed for a funeral?!! Who could have been killed that would affect a Council meeting? This was the Council of the Guardians; nothing stopped it, not even the First One's mysterious disappearance. Fezral spoke up, "Why the dress, Shadow? Who is gone that causes you such grief so you do not speak your mind?"

Shadow, who had been staring at the floor blankly, looked directly up at Lakuta. "The report that you gave me was true." he silently said. Lakuta lowered his head and cried. Several Council members tried to comfort him, but Shadow silenced them.

"Leave him alone!" he ordered. The other men backed away in fear. Lakuta got up and walked out through the door behind his long-time friend. They exchanged glances, both nodding in understanding. "I'm sorry it came to this. We'll talk later." Shadow nodded.

Shadow collected his words and began to address the Council.

"People, comrades, friends. The words I come to speak to you today about are none of the joyful speeches that would be warranted. Many of you know how Saleach has threatened anyone who defies him, regardless of status. When we first heard of this statement, we knew not the punishment that he spoke of. Indeed, many of us didn't believe it at all.

"There are many missions that go on, that this council doesn't know about. The original Council implemented a law that required only the consent of the Empress if one of these missions were to commence. Indeed, Leonardo didn't realize when he consented to this the consequences that would result."

"I have never heard of such a law!" said Fezral, standing up and speaking loudly, "Why should I believe you? Why did Lakuta walk out? Are you giving the meaning to the absence of Lakuta, Kane and Suicide?"

"I beseech you, silence."

"I would have an answer!"

"SILENCE!" Shadow's reply echoed through the halls of the meeting room.

Fezral was stunned for a moment, then bowed and sat down. He then raised his hand to speak. Shadow nodded to him. "I will allow one more ill-bred comment from you before I continue."

"Then I only say this - I follow Suicide's orders, and not yours."

Shadow nodded, and took a moment before speaking. "Many of you would rather follow Suicide. She was bold and fearless, didn't care about danger. In answer to your questions - Lakuta, Kane and Suicide did go on a mission from Leonardo, to which I objected. It was to find out if Saleach's threats were to be taken seriously or lightly.

"They reached Balanced City, met up with Balance Keeper. He warned them to turn back, that Saleach was not himself, and he was said to be plotting against the Guardians. Suicide got angry, and teleported directly to Saleach to find out for herself. Lakuta and Kane tried to stop her, but only got there in time to witness the two fighting.

"Saleach said that the Guardians would die, as was stated in the Doom Prophesy. Now, those of us from the First Century do remember being taught that Prophesy, and that is not the meaning of that line at all. Suicide rolled her eyes, and Saleach just..... let forth a Nine Soul Attack. The three retreated, with Suicide injured."

The Council murmured. Suicide -- injured? "Where is Suicide?" came up the crowd's chant.

Nodding slightly, Shadow raised his voice. "Suicide, come forth!"

Puzzled, the crowd looked everywhere, since she was known to teleport in and laugh at people's reaction. Instead, the doors to the hall opened, and Shadow bowed his head. Emperor Leonardo walked in, plain black clothes and bowed head. He looked up to the crowd, nodded, and walked up to the throne. Shadow followed close behind, taking his place beside Leonardo. Neither sat down.

The crowd continued to look at the door. Lakuta, Kane, Insanta and Edrow walked in, carrying a rectangular box on their shoulders, with a simple black cloak draping it. When they had cleared the doors closed on their own. In the middle of the room they stopped and carefully placed their burden down. Leonardo nodded, and they took off the cloak.

The room gasped. There, under the cloak, lay Suicide, in a state of peaceful sleep, doomed to wake up only at the End of Time. The Council cried aloud, vowing for revenge on the death of the most beloved and respected of the Tribe that had ever lived. Leonardo raised a hand to order calm. When he had enough quiet he spoke softly, with determination, "Now, we prepare for war."

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