[Chapter Size: 3100 Words.]
Third Person POV

Another World.

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For millennia, when the universe was still young and magic flowed freely and wildly, the Order of the Guardians was founded. Established by the rulers to protect a power that could not fall into anyone's hands before the rulers vanished, they were, until then, beings of immeasurable power. But seeing their existence disappearing from the universe and facing their end, they created the Order, with a sacred mission: to protect nine rings of power, each reflecting the power of a Monarch, other beings even more powerful with whom the rulers had waged wars, destroying hundreds of worlds and countless lives, centuries of millennia ago.

The Guardians, who were the force of the order, were chosen since childhood for their strength and exceptional abilities, they were more than mere mortals. They were the protectors of the cosmic balance between many worlds.

The Order's hideout was an ancestral castle, hidden in the heart of a dense forest forgotten by time in a world forgotten by time where hardly any other beings could find it. Its walls, imbued with ancient power, were a testament to the Order's greatness. It was here that the Guardians trained and planned, always vigilant against the forces seeking to destabilize the universe while it was the most guarded area of the universe.

But, on a fateful night, the peace of the hideout was shattered. An army of armed men, equipped with machine guns and technology from a distant world, burst through the magical defenses of the castle. Caught off guard, the Guardians fought bravely, but the invaders were many and ruthless, ending the less experienced among them.

At the center of the battle was Morou Kaind, one of the most skilled Guardians, ranked among the 9 heirs who symbolized the high echelons of the order to protect the rings with an affinity for a specific one. His combat was fast and agile, his daggers, extensions of his own arms, shone in the moonlight filtering through the shattered windows of the technological base. Morou was a storm of fury and precision, deflecting bullets with his blades and striking the invaders with movements that defied reality. He was a force of nature, a warrior born from decades of intense conflict.

Despite his skill and dexterity, the number of enemies was overwhelming. For each adversary that fell, another took his place. And when the castle walls began to yield under the weight of the attack, Morou realized that the era of the Guardians was coming to an end, but this should not happen, which means they were betrayed and he had to find the other heirs, as the most powerful, only together could they escape and take the rings, since only the heirs could touch them, his hope was to leave the planet with the rings and hide in another world.

In the whirlwind of steel and fire, while fighting, his focus was on finding the other Guardians. He passed like a line of death among the crowd of enemies, shooting, throwing bombs, but they appeared through the smoke reaping their lives with quick cuts, their technological armors seeming made of paper in front of Erza and Mirajane, his daggers that he shared all the major fights with since he acquired them more than 10 solar rotations ago.

Upon reaching a narrow corridor, and closing a door so as not to be followed there, Morou came across an even fiercer battle scene ahead. Three of his younger Guardian companions were surrounded, fighting with the same ferocity and desperation as him. Without hesitating, Morou dived into combat, his daggers finding enemies at every turn.

Together, the Guardians formed a storm of blades and power against the enemy force. Each one complemented the other, their combined skills creating an impregnable wall of defense and attack, Morou joining the fight that shifted to the advantage of the 3.

But the tide of enemies was relentless. Despite them clearing the first wave leaving the corridor full of enemy bodies, the door opens with a tanker robot using technological machine guns.

With a roar, Morou plunged into the fight, his blades a lethal blur. "Hold firm!", he shouted, as his daggers found flesh and bone.

Despite their skills and strengths, the Guardians were just mortals with a more powerful force than other living beings, and were gradually being overwhelmed at that moment.

One of the Guardians, a warrior with flaming hair, shouted, "Morou! To your right!" She warned him before attempting to defend him and taking a shot to the chest. She fell to the ground dead, Morou clenched his teeth and began to attack more frantically, reaching the robot, and when he approached, the tin had no chance with Morou using his agility and moving like a shadow cutting the robot from all sides, a few seconds later it was shattered.

As he slashed another attacker, Morou saw another of his own fall, a young Guardian who had barely seen his second decade of life. "No!", he shouted, but it was too late. The young one fell lifeless, his eyes still reflecting the surprise of the fatal blow.

Now only Morou and another Guardian, a veteran of many battles but of a lower rank than him, remained. "We need to retreat!", Morou shouted trying to reach the side of the guardian, leaving the two last companions dead in the sea of corpses, blocking an attack directed at his comrade. "We can't beat them here!"

The veteran nodded, "You're right. Let's find a way out." Together, they fought side by side, an relentless duo of strength and skill as they tried to move to the next corridor.

In a moment of distraction from the enemies, Morou grabbed the veteran's arm and pulled him into an adjacent corridor, away from the carnage of the main hall. They ran, their footsteps echoing through the empty corridors of the castle, until they managed to close a heavy door preventing the enemies from approaching.

"We made it... What was that?! So sudden! Laren and Juy are dead!" He growled.

"We were betrayed by someone within the order, there's no other explanation," Morou spoke.

"Where to now?", panted the veteran.

"Away from here, to the vault, we have to get the rings and find the heirs," replied Morou, his voice laden with pain and fury. "Let's go there to regroup and plan our next move. We have to get the rings off this world."

In Morou's heart, doubt grew. He had saved one, but at what cost? The Order was crumbling, and with it, everything he had known and sworn to protect.

"Let's keep going..." Charle started walking.

"Wait!" Morou spoke asking for silence with a hand gesture.

"Do you hear that?" He asked Charle, the veteran.

"A... ship... it's outside," Charle murmured, his eyes wide.

"Yes, but I'm hearing sounds of its weapons preparing to attack! RUN!" Morou demanded, before behind them began to explode with a ship launching an attack through those walls at them.

They ran while the corridor was being destroyed behind them with the bullets trying to reach them, they finally left the corridor and went to the lower floor where the ship's bullets no longer reached them.

Morou Kaind and Charle, breathing heavily after the fierce run, stopped for a moment. "We need to check the Monarch Rings," said Morou, continuing ahead.

The veteran nodded, understanding the gravity of the situation. "To the main vault, then. I believe that area hasn't been invaded," he said, and Morou agreed.

They moved cautiously, but with a speed that only years of training could provide. The corridor leading to the main vault was clear, as the attack had started recently, but there was no sign of the other guardians of the order, possibly all dead.

As they approached the main door, they saw 2 robots like the one before with more than 6 bodies on the ground of other guardians.

"Let's finish them," Charles spoke angrily.

"Yes," Morou maintained a serious look and was the first to act, advancing through the bullets as soon as the enemies saw them running.

His companion followed closely, fighting bravely, but it was clear he depended on Morou's superior skill to make way. Morou, with lethal efficiency, cut down the enemies as if they were nothing while advancing, and the robots were also part of that now that he was at the peak of his anger, seeing companions he had spent years with die like animals was even difficult to control emotions as an heir of the order, his expression was a mask of determination and fury.

"How did they know?", questioned the veteran among blows, referring to the secret location of the Order and the vault.

"Treason, and someone from the high echelon for them to be in this location," Morou replied, his voice a cutting whisper.

After clearing them all, Morou used his identity as an heir to enter the vault room, and they entered, closing the door right behind.

"Are we safe here?" Charles asked.

"Yes, this is the safest place in the universe. Its walls were created by the power of the rulers before they vanished. We can take the rings and go to another world and try to recruit new intriguing members and rebuild the order," Morou spoke, thinking of his plan for the future once he joined with the other heirs.

Upon reaching the main room, the scene was desolate. The place, once a sacred sanctuary of the Power Rings, was in disturbing silence. The pedestals where the rings should have been were empty except for one dark ring.

"The Rings... are gone," murmured Charles, disbelieving that 8 rings had disappeared.

"How is this possible..." Morou was stunned and walked forward where the rings should be, but there were none except for the ring of darkness.

"Only the heirs can take the rings, unless..."

"AHHHHH!" Morou heard a scream behind him and saw Charles being impaled by an ice blade before falling frozen along with his blood. He had died, and behind him was a man, one Morou knew very well, despite his icy appearance and eyes totally different from what he remembered.

"Mirai?! You killed a fellow member!" Morou shouted, eyes wide. "This appearance... You took the ring of the ice monarch?!" He saw the ring on his finger and couldn't believe it. An heir should never under any circumstances touch the rings without being protected, otherwise, the power would enter the person.

"Hello, Morou, you always were the most righteous of us," the ice creature spoke with a smile and continued. "But it's not just me... we took the rings." Suddenly, 7 portals opened around the room.

Each portal emitted a shadow, and out of it emerged a person Morou knew very well, but their appearances were all altered.

"You... you all were corrupted, you betrayed the order?!" Morou demanded, seeing his former companions, those who were supposed to be the guardians of the rings, now corrupted by their power.

"That's why we never told you anything, you always were the most righteous with the rules of the order..." One of them mocked.

"Rules of the order?! Do you have any idea what you are doing?! You are putting all worlds in danger, this power was not meant for anyone to take, the rulers created the order for this, now you threw it all away for this power?!" Morou was so furious he wanted to kill them there.

"We will control it, Morou, this power is now ours. And you can join us," another heir offered, extending his hand in a conciliatory gesture. "You are one of the strongest among us and are the heir of the shadow monarch. Together, we can reign supreme over the entire universe."

"He join us?! He is a threat, everyone knows that the dark monarch is the darkest power, we should eliminate him and find another heir or hide the ring," debated another.

Morou looked at the extended hand and then at each face before him. He saw in them not the greatest guardian members of the past, but distorted shadows of ambition and power. "I refuse," he declared, raising his daggers. "I would rather die than betray the principles of the Order."

A heavy silence fell over the room. "I told you, it's better to kill him," said the same person as before. "Understand, let's just kill him!" said another heir, and they all advanced at the same time with their own weapons.

Morou, despite his skill and strength, knew that facing 8 of the most powerful Guardians was an almost impossible battle to win, especially since they were all much more powerful with the power of the rings. However, he did not hesitate. His daggers spun in his hands, against the spears and swords coming his way.

One of the council members, a master swordsman, advanced with precise and deadly strikes; he was the heir of the monarch of destruction, and this was reflected in his flaming sword. The blade pierced his armor and flesh, a cold and penetrating blow that stopped Morou in his momentum, but he refused to release the daggers as he knelt with his chest engraved by the sword.

The shock of pain and betrayal reflected in his eyes as he looked down, seeing the sword embedded in his chest. Morou tried to hold onto Erza and Mirajane tightly, until they began to slip from his fingers as he started to lose strength. His last thought before darkness took over his vision was one of despair for the Order he had loved since he was brought here with a purpose, now tainted by corruption and unbridled power.

The heirs, each with the power of a monarch, stepped back, watching Morou fall. The room, once a place of great power and respect, was now witness to the tragic end of one of the last heirs.

"He was a bit tough to take down..." commented one with a smile.

"We should have some respect for him, he remained faithful to the principles of the order. Now he is dead, and we must wait for someone else with an affinity with the shadow monarch to be born in the universe so we can corrupt them too."

As Morou Kaind lay dead on the floor, some of the heirs watched with a mix of satisfaction and disdain. "You were a fool, Morou," said one of them, looking down with a cold smile. "Of all of us, you were the most suited to the enviable power of death. It's a pity you didn't see it. You could have been part of our order dominating the entire universe, we could have achieved something even the rulers couldn't."

As this heir spoke, a strange phenomenon began to unfold behind Morou's body. The ring, which supposedly aligned most with Morou, started emitting a dark glow. The dark energy, almost tangible, emanated from it, filling the room with a sinister light, making the other heirs jump back, surprised and confused. They did not expect the ring to react, especially so violently and unpredictably without anyone provoking this reaction.

"What's happening?" murmured one of them, their voice trembling, feeling the infinite energy of death like an abyss in front of them.

"Is the ring... responding to Morou's death?" questioned another, looking alternately at Morou's dead body and the ring.

The dark energy emanating from the ring seemed to intensify, creating an oppressive atmosphere in the room. It began to move towards Morou, as if drawn to him, even in his dead state.

The council members watched, unable to intervene or fully understand what was happening. Something inside the ring had awakened, an ancient and powerful force that seemed to be reacting to the act of betrayal committed against its own heir.

As the dark energy enveloped Morou, a tense silence fell over the room. Before the heirs could react or understand what was happening, the dark energy emanating from the ring reached a peak. With a sudden and deafening explosion, the room was enveloped in a wave of dark force. Everyone was thrown back, stunned by the intensity and unexpected power of the explosion.

When they finally recovered and the dust settled, the council members, still shaken, slowly rose. Their eyes turned to the spot where Morou had fallen, but to their surprise, neither he nor the ring were there anymore. The ring, once pulsing with a dark and powerful energy, was now just an ordinary jewel, devoid of any sign of the Dark Monarch that once resided in it.

A murmur of disbelief ran through the group. "He's gone... and took the power of the ring with him," said one of them, his voice a mix of shock and awe.

"But where? And how?" questioned another, examining the spot where Morou had been.

The heir of the monarch of destruction, who had been silently observing, spoke in a somber voice. "We don't know where he went or what this means. But one thing is certain: Morou Kaind has become more than just a Guardian now. The ring of the shadow monarch may have revived him or taken his soul to another place."

The heirs looked at each other, the reality of the situation slowly imposing itself. "We need to find him," said one of them, determination in their voice. "Wherever he has gone, whatever he has become, Morou Kaind and the power of the ring are now of utmost importance to us. The shadow monarch has always been known to have powers that could destroy worlds and he grows stronger with each war. If he is a threat to us, he will come after us. We need to find him before he becomes strong enough to do so!"

"We will begin the search immediately. Spread the word discreetly among the organization we hired to invade the temple. Morou Kaind must be found, no matter the cost and however many light-years he is from us."

With this decision made, the council dispersed, opening portals for each, every member carrying with them the task of discovering Morou's whereabouts and the power of the shadow monarch. Meanwhile, a soul traveled the universe far beyond the speed of light, this soul was enveloped in darkness and it traveled among the stars until it found a small one in a solar system, the soul then headed to a certain world largely covered with water and dotted with some continents, proceeding to enter the atmosphere.