"It is time..." I said. She knows me so well, my Nahum. She gently touched my hand. Within seconds we were wrapped in each other's arms. "You are a brave man Zechariah Tyuri. You love selflessly. For me, for your children, you are more of a man than Aleph can ever be." I looked into her eyes and found the same comfort that I had for the last twenty years of my life. It would never be our final goodbye, for whatever hope I had in eternity, I knew it would be with her. I kissed her gently. The emotions that I had locked inside were surfacing. I could not let them see me suffer for their sake. I tried to move away from Nahum, she understood and loosened her grip. My wife, my love. Amos then held her hand up. I took it and kissed the marble white fingers. At sixteen, she was a beauty to behold. She embraced me and ran away as not to make the moment more unbearable. Joshua who was patiently standing at my side was now making his parting. "Father..." he began. "Everything I want you to know, I have given Zain that knowledge. You must follow his lead. Make me proud as you have always done, Joshua Tyuri." I said as he smiled and hugged me. I heard a muffled sob. "I love you my son." I said. He looked up and finally let go. Lastly, I walked up to Zain. The most amazing gift my wife had given me. A father has no favorites, and I loved Joshua and Amos equally, but whenever I was with my eldest, I could not quite explain the feeling. We understood each other. Words were worthless. Many moments I have spent with him in the deserts of Arulos. On the celebration of his sixteenth birth year, he approached me looking distressed. He was well over six feet, even taller than me. I drilled him continuously until he finally answered. "Father, I have been selected for the archery unit" I embraced him then as I embrace him now. Tears of joy I had wept, and encouraged him with all my might. "You are my son.” I said that day, almost two years ago. "It is every father's dream to see their children do well in life, and you have made me proud. Today, I must be the happiest man on earth." But as I looked at him I realized how crestfallen he was. "But what makes you so sad son?" "I have to leave home. I have to leave you all." He replied, his eyes downcast. I could not help smiling. "Many young boys would jump at such an opportunity, my son. Fear not... Time will make you appreciate independence as I did once. I even met your mother when I joined my unit." I said. This finally made him smile. Those two years had done him wonders. He had grown into a courageous young man since then, and was made the youngest captain in the archery unit south west of lake Jifari. There he was stationed to protect Arulos from the ekai, the wild beasts of the desert. The ekai were the result of military experiments of the old world. They had the body of a tiger with a hideously flat face and protruding jaws that gave way to menacing teeth and eyes on either side of the scull. Since the new world had dawned without its share of technology, we had to rely on our young protectors to guard our lands. The more the old earth had gained out of artificial intelligence, the more the new earth found it necessary to get rid of it. Robots and weapons, machines and computers had almost but wiped man off the face of the earth. It was desert land for as long as the eye could see. Power was not used for the fear of bringing dead machines back to life. Man had gone back to the stone age. What myths our grandparents told us, and their grandparents told them, we believed were true, and never wanted to be cast into such a world again. Many animals had disappeared from the face of the earth forever. What was left, were tamed. Horses were our main way of transport now. Units of archers, swordsmen, and fighters guarded Arulos from other freak creations and the armies of Oret. "Son…" I whispered now as I approached the door. He stood behind me, and his hand fell on my shoulder. The grip he had was the death of me. It was almost as if he was wrenching my heart out of my body. The hand was taken away, but I was left with a calm. "I..." and he stopped mid sentence. Me too my son, I thought as I turned around and looked into his eyes. I love you too. Words between us as I said, were worthless. Aleph was wrapped in his golden shawl and turban. It reflected the hot sun like fire. Oret, his kingdom spread over miles of Arulos desert. Since the end of the old earth, and the beginning of the new earth, the new life, Aleph has been sole dictator of many regions of Arulos. His mind set on conquering what was left of man and earth alike. Ruthless, he was of the undying kind, the Zunak. With what miracles man had toyed in the old earth, Aleph was one of those who had survived. Legend stated he was older than Arulos itself, and man these days believed legend than mere logic, for the fear of the Lord of Oret was far more consuming. Even now, as always, only his dark eyes and long fingers could be seen. Every other part of him was covered. Making a slow exit from the stables his steed, Kufargo neighed. A hiss came from behind the turban. Aleph gently petted the creature, and his slaves watched in awe the great black horse being tamed by this monstrosity they served. The acts that Aleph performed on humans were not of this world, but in his heart, if there was such, he beheld this creature with such love and care that it was abominable. It was as a father would love a son, and yet understanding of such an actual relationship was proved to be impossible for him. With such fate was now entwined the life of Zechariah Tyuri, true husband, loving father, a vigilante. As Kufargo made its way out of the gates of Oret, Aleph’s anger had not diminished. How dare this scoundrel make such a challenge? He was the Lord of Oret. If he ordered, humans heeded. There was no other way, and there will be no other way. If one worm wriggles out of his steel grip, they all will. If he wanted Amos Tyuri, he shall get Amos Tyuri. Not even a father's call for justice will stop him. As I mounted Barak, Zain brought me my sword. The Ankaj. Now, more than ever, as I held it in my hands I knew he had to know. Nahum agreed that I should tell him, since it was custom. The secrets my Ankaj held were more than he could dare to imagine. The blade had an ancient Latin scrawling on either side. "Angelus Mortis" I whispered. "Son, Ride with me to the cross roads." I knew I did not want him at the field during the battle, but I must tell him. "Zain, the reason that I am fighting Aleph today…” I started after taking a deep breath and was stopped immediately. "I know the reason father. Amos. Uncle Lamed told me." He replied. My best friend was also like a father to my children. The man who last night had wept like an infant in my arms for my unavoidable end, and had refused to say farewell today. "The land was never in Aleph's mind, that much I knew, so I asked uncle, and he made me promise not to confront you." Zain told me. "Your sister's life is far more important to me than mine." I said gravely. "So your mother and I made this decision. She will now be taking whatever is necessary and will be moving out with Amos and Joshua with you to lake Jifari." I held up my hand to stop the protest. "Dangerous, yes I know, but not as much as from this filth that I am going to face in a moment. Promise me that you will care for them." "You know I will father." he replied. "Son, there is one more thing you must do for me. Take this and give me your sword." I said as I handed him my Ankaj. He stared at me while he did so. "This sword I have given to you is more than a symbol of your lineage. This is the sword of the house of Angelus." Zain looked at me in disbelief. "Yes. It is a burden that you will carry with you to your grave" "But... that means that I am... that I will... but" Zain stuttered. "Yes" I nodded. "You now know. All the stories I have told you when you were a little boy are true Zain, they are not myths. I had prepared you for the day that I can reveal all this to you. How unfortunate that today should be the day..." I broke off, tears welling up in my eyes. "Father, I have never experienced anything... different. How did I not know? How can I not... feel?" "Zain, I now wish that I had told you earlier, but it is customary to wait till ones twenty first birth year to reveal all. I am telling you now since I cannot wait that long anymore. You will not experience any change till then, but you can prepare yourself. I will not hesitate to tell you that it will be painful, for it is. And yet, think of the greater good and the pain will disappear. It will all be worth it someday. And yet..." "Father… Please. We have little time left." Zain insisted. "On the day of the transformation, the heir of the house of Angelus has to be in full armour. Do you remember?" "Yes, the four entwined rings on the two hand bracelets, with the serum..." Zain trailed off as he looked at my hands. "I do not wear them, yes, but I keep them with me" I took the small pouch containing the armour and handed it to him. He took it and held it gently. "But there is one thing missing. For centuries, men have tried to end the rule of Aleph, yet found it impossible. The reason is him being a Zunak. One of the undying kind. As the stories go, the only way to kill a Zunak, is to become a Zunak. To kill Aleph, you have to face immortality." I stopped my horse and Zain did the same. "Remember the syrh steel blade? The Ankaj is made of syrh. Pure syrh. It is handed down from captain to captain within the house of Angelus for just this purpose. To destroy the Zunak. We have dwindled their population to less than a hundred now, but during my time, I could not kill these creatures. I was... unable to do so. One of the hand bracelets was stolen from my possession. The Vita, the right bracelet. My transformation was not complete. I was never made immortal." I sighed. "That is why the killings of the Zunak stopped. That is why during my time Aleph increased his power over the lands. Yet I did what I could. I destroyed whatever of his armies I came upon. Even so, it was not much. We need the Vita son." I said. The story was unwrapped. "I was in the unit during the time of my transformation, and had already fallen in love with your mother. At that time, Lamed's sister, Zarya was also in my unit. Little had I known of her feelings for me, and even if I did, there was nothing I could have done. Zain, Lamed's family is the keeper of the house of Angelus. Didn't you ever wonder why he knew all the arts of fighting? They are our protectors. Zarya too, but unfortunately, young love is blind, and unaccepted love is full of vengeance. She stole the Vita, for revenge. It was then that I knew. It was then that everyone knew. No one knows where Zarya went. Lamed and I, we have searched for the past twenty years for her, to no avail. It is like she fell off the face of the earth. If the bracelet is not found, Aleph will live on forever." "Father, if our lineage is immortal, then... It cannot be. When grandfather died, I was with him. I saw him die." Zain replied. "That is the power of the bracelet son. As long as the serum of the Vita runs through your veins, you have immortality, but once you return to your human form, the bracelet pulls back the serum." I showed him my wrists. "See these wounds? That is where the serum is injected." Zain nodded silently. "I cannot win this battle my son. Therefore I dare not make the transformation. Then Aleph will realize you are my heir and he will come for you. Since I cannot destroy him, I will go as Zechariah Tyuri, and fight my last battle. Every time the sword is passed to the next heir, we hope that it would be the age that men finally regain their rightful claim of this land. But Aleph's power has been too great, especially during my time. The people do not believe in the house of Angelus anymore." I looked at my child, the weight of the whole world now heavy on his shoulders. “I wish for you what my father could not wish for me. I wish that during your age, you will see victory. That our people will see victory. That you will bring life to this earth, and death to your enemies." "Angelus Mortis. Angel of Death. Now it is your time." I put my hand on his shoulder. "I know you will have questions, and your mother and Lamed will answer you. Lamed will be moving to lake Jifari. It is his duty. He has never forgiven himself for what Zarya did, and he will help you look for the Vita. He will be your guardian. He will... look after you..." I said. We both got off our horses and embraced each other. Tears flowed from our eyes. I kissed his forehead and blessed him. "I must go now Zain. Do not wait for long, for we do not know when Aleph will come for Amos" I mounted Barak and took one last look at him. We both finally rode in opposite directions. Me towards my death, and Zain, towards a life that he never knew existed. Kufargo neighed as I closed up on Aleph. It was not a battlefield for men, but a sure and painful death. But now, I was ready. The field was enormous, and was strewn with old machinery, automobiles and computers belonging to a by gone era. The center was cleared away, and on one side stood the mighty Zunak. I stopped Barak right in front of him and waited for the signal to charge. Aleph raised his heavy sword and let out a loud hiss. Kufargo neighed and immediately charged towards me. I took out my sword and charged with all my might, and we hit each other with so much power that Barak almost lost its balance. I was so close to Aleph at one point that I looked into his eyes, and discovered not eyes, but two black pools of nothingness. It was as if they were the one source of darkness in this world. What was he? All we had known were that they were immortal and once killed, they wither away into dust. I had never seen Aleph this close before. Killing men who served Aleph was what I had done, and never came in contact with him or his kind. We charged at each other again and this time I fell off Barak. I grabbed my sword and stood up. Aleph charged at me again and the moment he closed up on me I went down on my knees and slashed Kufargo’s side with all my might. The creature crashed to the ground heavily, neighing and writhing in pain. Aleph too was thrown to the ground. I took the chance and found some higher ground on top of some old machinery. I watched as Aleph stood up and walked towards Kufargo. He gently patted the creature’s head and looked at the gaping wound that my sword made. A loud and long hiss followed as he looked up at me. I held my sword tightly and stood my ground. Aleph charged at me and swung his sword at my feet. I leaped up crashed heavily on a pile of steel. My sword was about a body length away from me, and as I struggled to my feet Aleph had already approached me. I grabbed a steel pole from the pile and hit his side with all my might. He moaned and it was an unbearable sound. It was as if he was screaming and yet his mouth was tightly shut. I took the time to grab my sword and without hesitating, charged at him, and pushed my sword through his gut. With the sword sticking out from him, Aleph fell on his knees. Suddenly, I felt a tremor under my feet. The second one was far stronger and lasted for more than a few seconds. Just as it does always, within moments the sky was a dark shade of gray. As I looked toward Aleph, I could see the sand storm behind him. Sudden storms were common in Arulos, but this time, I was not prepared. Tornadoes began to form gradually, and they shot up towards the sky. The power was unbearable. I grabbed hold of an old truck that was close by. A car was lifted and taken away. Metal sheets flew overhead and crashed. Suddenly, Aleph stood up. He had no hold on anything, but the Zunak started walking towards me, my sword still stuck to his gut. His golden turban was taken off by the wind. The sight that I beheld was repulsive. His whole body was blue, as if no blood ran through his veins. I realized, there was no blood running through his veins. There was an incision on his front, the cut made on the dead. It started at his shoulder blades and came together at his collarbone, and then went directly towards where my sword was stuck. His mouth was also sewn together just like the incision. This is why he made those sounds. He was dead. A dead man. This was Aleph. This was the Zunak. He was immortal, but he was the walking dead. Now all the myths that I had heard made sense… The despicable acts. The voices in my head screamed. “How can you kill someone who is already dead???” He was now so close I had to let go of my hold. I was swept off my feet and I crashed in to something. Nothing was visible to me now, but I heard clearly. I heard footsteps, and I heard a slow hiss… Within seconds, Aleph was on my right and as I turned around I felt a sharp pain run through my hand. I looked down as I staggered, and realized he had cut it off. Blood shot through to the ground as I lost my balance and fell. He was using my own sword to destroy me. He stood there looking at me, and suddenly, raised the sword. I remember Aleph walking away from me. I remembered his menacing eyes. I do not know for how long I lay there, drowning in my own blood, my sword sticking out from my chest. As I drew my last breath I saw two green eyes looking at me. I smiled. This must be a vision. Nothing else but a vision before death. Zain was by my side, smiling down at me. As I stood there, looking at my father, pride surpassed sadness. Duty surpassed melancholy. My father was gone, but his line lives on. I will make him proud of me. I will take my revenge. To Aleph I will be death. I will be destruction. I will be the end. I will be his Angelus Mortis. End Note- This is a work of pure fiction.