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- C for Crownless-

Kimi and Anael were furious at Thalas, who arrived wounded with a semi-dead Melchior near him. Kaiser and Altagracia took Elemental Alchemist and put him in a bed to treat his injuries; Thalas, however, was going to be lectured while treated.

"We told you not to stay there longer than needed!" Kimi raised the tone of voice while Anael cleansed Thalas' wounds "Why didn't you do that?!"

"I couldn't avoid that...Ouch!"  He answered "Anael, this hurts!"

The Welsh Guatemalan looked coldly at the French Guatemalan,  whose countenance changed to sad almost immediately.

"You could have died down there." Anael replied with same gaze "What was so interesting there?!"

"Maya..." He babbled while Anael put some bandages around his torso "She is up to something, and it is not merely about 'sacrificing us for Mictlantecuhtli'..."

That statement caught Kimi's attention, who had started reading the Sankari prior to Thalas' last sentences.

"Excuse me?" The Finn said "What's she planning?"

"I am not sure yet" Electro Archer replied "All that I know is that there were a lot of obsidian weapons, like macanas and lances, wicked ingredients of some sort, a cauldron and some papers, which appeared to be potion recipes..."

"Is she trying to beat us with the same tricks played by Eclipse?" Anael asked "Like, those haven't worked once, why would they work now?"

"Because Maya has Melchior's soul to use."

The one who said it was Kaiser, making all Knights stare at him completely surprised and slightly frightened. Altagracia looked at DarkStalker  with tears in her eyes.

"Are you sure, Kai?"  She said with sadness.

"Unfortunately, I am" He replied "Check it out, folks..."

DarkStalker projected a purple aura around Melchior, showing the damages in his soul; the image seemed to be the same as Melchior's body. However, it had the looks of a zombie, with pieces missing and rotten parts, as if we had suffered a curse of some sort. The scene was terrifying.

"Well, this is the result of a enormous life-drain" Explained Kaiser "Once Melchior couldn't defend himself against it, Maya rips his soul off step by step. How, you would ask? Well, our souls are similar to the bodies we have; therefore, if we suffer a life drain injury, it is like our body been cut or smashed against a place. Since life drain is based on the concept of corrupting and taking vitality out of one being to give to a dreadful one, turns out that our souls kind of zombify... And them vanish."

"Unless someone uses this force to wicked purposes" Completed Kimi.

Ice Guardian's eyes widened; he knew what Maya was up to! He then looked at Thalas.

"The zombification..." Whispered Anael, with his eyes widened "We've got to enter in Maya's lair! Otherwise, she..."

"We will have to lock Melchior somewhere first." Commented Thalas "If he remains free, he will be turned against us. As much as I hate doing that to him, We have no choice."

All of the present Knights nodded affirmatively; Kaiser and Thalas then put Melchior's left arm around Thalas' shoulders and his tight arm around Kaiser's. Then, they went to Anael's guest room and locked the windows. On the following, they put the unconscious Melchior in chains, locking the door as they left.

"I hope we save him before Maya's zombification ritual takes place..." Thalas whispered.

"So do I..." Replied Kaiser with a sad countenance "I don't want to lose another friend..."

***

On the meantime, in Maya's lair...

She was compulsively mixing a wicked mixture in her cauldron, laughing madly as she added every ingredient of her list.

"I am almost done!" She said in a singing tone "Soon the Knights will know how it feels like to have a close friend becoming a foe... Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

She added a dead salamander and bone powder on the cauldron, generating a green fog.

"And now..." She whispered as she came closer to the shelf "...The secret ingredient." She then grabbed Melchior's soul orb with both hands, preparing to throw it at the cauldron. "Melchior's life force!"

She threw the orb on the cauldron, causing it to release a light yellow fog, which spread all over the floor. A potion flask with golden liquid came out of the container. The flask emanated a golden light, which made Maya's eyes look brighter and even more sinister. She laughed as she grabbed the floating potion.

"Time to have some fun..." She said with a sinister smile.
She put her left hand on the fog, manipulating it to create a vortex, which displayed Melchior.

"Hm...Clever folks..." She commented "So, Thalas warned you, didn't he? Well, perhaps you are not aware of it, but... Considering the undead I am about to manipulate..."

She opened the flask and spilled the liquid on the vortex , causing the image to disappear and be replaced by the golden liquid.

"...Cannot be hold by mere chains."

She laughed as the vortex absorbed the liquid.

"Melchior!" She screamed to the image on the vortex "Obey your mistress! Shatter my allies! From now on you are my special warrior. May Central America tremble before you!"

She conjured black rays over the vortex, causing the skies to rain once more. The Voodoo mistress looked at it with disdain.

"Feel my wrath and hate, Knights..." She said with a serious and sinister countenance "You all shall die... I hate you... All of you..."

***

Back to Anael's place...

"So, are you all in?" Anael asked with a decided countenance.

"Of course" Answered Thalas "None of us will go there by our own. I can tell you that by my own experience."

All Knights nodded affirmatively.

"Well..." Kaiser said, standing up "Let's go. Maya may be finishing her potion by now..."

Then, they heard some knocking downstairs. Kaiser conjured the vortex, but did not enter. Anael opened the door to hear the sound. By the time he opened it, he heard an inhuman growl, followed by the complete destruction of the guest room's door.

"Too late." Anael said "She already made it. Melchior became a zombie."

"What do we do now?" Altagracia asked, sad.

"Kaiser, Thalas and Gracia, you guys will be going to Maya's lair." Anael commanded "I will stay here with Kimi."

He then looked at the Finn.

"Kimi, if you need to go with them, you are free to do so. I think I can take care of it by my own."

"No way!" Kimi replied "We do not know how much power Melchior has in this zombie form. If I go, we may not be able to help you if you call..."

"Fine them" Anael said with a smile. "Gentleman, it is time for the Corazon to act. Corazon de Guatemala!"

Anael lifted the liquid Shaman-Stone, which started glowing and involving all Knights in its light turquoise fog. In a matter of seconds, all of them were wearing their heroic outfits. Kaiser looked at Anael and nodded at him, entering on the vortex. Thalas and Altagracia followed DarkStalker all the way through the vortex, which closed after she entered there.

Kimi and Anael stood on the open door, hearing Melchior's growls.

"Ready?" Anael asked.

"Always, Leader." Kimi replied.

They conjured their weapons, got out of the door and jumped through the half wall in front of them, landing on the first floor on the living room. They turned around to stare at the zombie Melchior.

His hair was stained and slightly whitened; his skin became slightly grayish, which was missing at some parts of his body, revealing his rotten flesh or decaying bones. His nails were black, bigger and sharpened. His teeth became sharper and whiter than before. His eyes lost the life, becoming grayish and lacking the sparkle in it.

"Mourn me..." He said in a suffering tone as he walked towards them "Forgive me..."
Anael held his sword stronger. Kimi did the same with his halberd.

The zombie's eyes widened as he looked at the Corazon de Guatemala. He lifted his arms, showing his claws. Then, he showed his teeth and ran towards Anael. The Guatemalan got scared and used his sword as a shield as Melchior tried to scratch him with his claws.

"He is not a regular zombie!" Anael screamed.

Kimi threw a blue energy shard at Melchior, who fell in the ground. Then, he carved his claws on the floor and conjured skeletons to attack the two Knights.

"Mourn me..." Melchior said with the same tone "Forgive me..."

Anael transformed his Quetzal Sword in a macana, using the sharp parts to shatter the bones. The first skeleton he crushed its left shoulder and skull, transforming it into dust. The next skeletons he destroyed their waists first and the skulls in second.

Kimi fought Melchior, which was faster than he thought. He transformed his halberd into a dagger to make things easier to fight. Melchior used his claws to scratch him, but Kimi defended himself with his blade. Then, the zombie scratched Kimi's leg with his feet, causing him to scream in pain and dazzle.

The zombie then kicked Ice Guardian's chin, causing the Knight to fall on the ground. Anael saw Kimi falling and decided to act by throwing a bone at Melchior's head.

"Hey! Come and get me if you can!" Anael screamed at him, causing the zombie to show his teeth in a threatening pose.

"Forgive me..." He said in a raging tone, running towards Anael.
Anael jumped on him, grabbing his arms and punching his face. Each punch he gave, tears fell off his face.

"I am so sorry, Melchior!" Elite Dragon said "However, I need to do this..."

He was about to give the second punch when he noticed Melchior was trying to bite him. The Welsh Guatemalan's eyes widened and he stepped back from the zombie, which stood up and whipped the blood out of his mouth. He started to gaze at Anael with a wicked stare.

"Mourn me..." He hissed walking towards Elite Dragon, who was stepping back.

Ice Guardian was recovering from the last hit and witnessed Melchior attacking Anael, trying to either 
scratch or bite him by any means necessary. The Finn knew he had to act, and so he did.

"Icicle!" He shouted when he hit the floor with his right hand wide opened, freezing the floor. The ice wave went seeking for Melchior, who had put Anael against the wall, ready to finish him.

Then, the zombie's feet froze, and so did the rest of his body. It was so fast that his left claw couldn't reach Anael's face. His medium finger nail almost reached Anael's nose. The Welsh Guatemalan was feeling breathless and frightened.

"Thanks, I guess..." He said to Kimi "Have you...?"

"Ei" Kimi replied negatively "I just chilled him for a bit. I think he needs to rest up. Well, I must say I am really impressed about Maya's powers. I didn't know how strong she was..."

"Neither did I" Anael replied "Actually, I think none of us ever knew that. We all underestimated her. It is not only Thalas to blame regarding this issue: all of us have our share of guilt..."

The two Knights looked at the undead ice statue in front of them. If everything that was happening was because of Maya's actions, then they were all the ones to blame. And that was their time to solve the problem once for all...

To Be Continued...


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