Chapter 1, part 1
For the past three hours, the world had been dark to Parth Ansari, the ambassador from India. And then suddenly, the sack was pulled from off his head and even the dim light seemed to him that the sun had just slapped him across the face. Eventually, his eyes adjusted to the light and he allowed himself to look around.
He found himself in a room illuminated solely by a multitude of candles that cast black shadows onto nearly black walls. They were not the tall, slender candles that burned evenly and neatly, nor were they squat little scented candles. They were the sort of candles that could only have been custom made specifically for ancient cult rituals.
As his eyes grew more accustomed to the dim light of the room, one of the shadows stepped away from the wall and came towards him. He saw that it was a figure clad in a velvet cloak and hood.
"Who... who are you?" the ambassador asked.
"Don't be afraid," said the cloaked figure in a strange, echoing voice that did absolutely nothing to alleviate the man's fears.
"What do you want from me? What are you doing?"
"I'm not going to kill you, if that's what you think."
"No." The hooded head shook. "I just need some blood."
"What? Well... you can't. I'm using it."
The cloak reached into itself and produced an ornate brass knife.
"You... you can't do this...!" the ambassador said, desperately hoping that saying so would make it true.
"It's nothing personal. It's just that your astrological sign and energy type make you a perfect match for my plan. It's all just bad luck, I'm afraid."
The cloaked figure gestured with its free hand and the ambassador found himself pulled towards a dark altar. His left hand was trapped as if by invisible ropes palm up on the cold surface. He tried to pull away, but it was bound fast.
The oppressor came slowly forwards, dagger raised high with malicious intent.
"Be still," it said. "It will only be a moment."
For a few seconds, the blade remained motionless. And then, it came down. It came down in an instant like a bolt of copper lightning, and the man squeezed his eyes shut.
But instead of a blinding pain or the sound of metal piercing flesh, there was a strange, reverberating chaaannng!
"What?!" the cloaked figure gasped, and the ambassador opened his eyes. He saw that the knife had been stopped in midair, just inches from his up-turned hand, though the villain still strained to close the gap. Looking across the room, he saw a figure standing silhouetted in the doorway; one hand outstretched, the other a fist on his hip. It was the pose only one of his kind would ever assume.
"Didn't your mother ever tell you not to play with knives?" said the newcomer in that heroic voice that any resident of Argent City would recognize.
"Paragon!" the ambassador exclaimed with relief.