Darkness. Miko Miyazaki was in darkness. It was all she could see. She tried to move, but… there was nothing to move. She felt nothing… It was as though her consciousness was lost in a void, with no escape.
She tried to remember. She struggled to recall how she'd ended up here. The memories were few and far between. The Fall… The Gate… The Afterlife… Nothing more than faint glimpses and brief fragments…
Voices. There were voices around her. They were… familiar. Strangely familiar. Miko found herself feeling… alarmed, for some reason. But… why?
The darkness began to fade into a shadowy haze. There were… shapes, in the twilight. Figures… Talking amongst themselves, they leaned in and out of her field of vision. Slowly, the darkness gave way to blurs. And soon, the blurs gave way to faces.
Miko found herself staring into the dark, soul-less eye sockets of the vile Lich known as Xykon, the beady red orbs of evil that served as his pupils focused intently on her. "At last…" he crooned dramatically, "My Queen awakes!"
Miko screamed. And as she heard her own voice, her scream only intensified. Her voice was no longer her own. It had become… hollow. Inhuman… The horror only grew as she realized that no matter how much she screamed, she hadn't yet stopped to take a breath. Needless to say, the screaming did not stop for quite some time…
"Sir, that was totally uncalled for…" Redcloak groaned from Xykon's right, ignoring Miko's terrified shrieks and howls.
"According to you, maybe…" Xykon cheerfully shrugged.
"I wonder how long it will take her to stop screaming?" Tsukiko asked from Xykon's left.
"Who cares? Enjoy it while it lasts…" Xykon replied, basking in his handywork.
"Well, I for one wanted to get this over with as soon as possible…" Redcloak sighed. He suddenly leaned in closer to Miko, and got eye-to-eye with her. "STOP. SCREAMING." he snarled.
Miko stopped screaming. She tried to lash out with her first, but found that her arms were not responding. It seemed as though she was tightly bound, lashed against a wall or some other surface. She narrowed her eyes with the Goblin, and growled: "You… High Priest of the Dark One…" she growled, trying to ignore the unsettling sound of her own voice, "If you think, for one second, that I will allow myself to be that abominations slave, let alone Queen, you are SORELY MISTAKEN!!"
Redcloak sighed. "You've been misled. You are not Xykon's bride-to-be. Consider yourself lucky in that regard…"
"Then why am I here?" Miko growled. "How am I here?"
"You're here because we got bored!" Xykon happily quiped, pushing Redcloak out of the way and leaning in so he himself could be eye-to-eye with Miko. "And as for how…" somehow, his skull seemed to be grinning. "First, we found your body. We thought about turning you into a zombie, but… where's the fun in that?"
"The… fun?" Miko asked, confused, and with a growing sense of dread.
"Oh yes, the fun…" Xykon tilted his head from side to side. "Eventually, we just… um… Redcloak, what did we do with her, again?"
"We left her in storage room 17…" Redcloak sighed. "For three months…"
"So that's where you were hiding her!" Tsukiko whined.
"Right, anyway…" Xykon shrugged, returning his attention to Miko. "So yeah, we got bored. And guess what? You were the cure to our boredome…"
"So… You Resurrected me in order to torture me? Heh heh heh…" Miko chuckled. "Well, I'm sorry to dissappoint you, fiend, but I will give you no such enjoyment. A Paladin of the Sapphire Guard would NEVER succumb to your worst torments!"
"You're right…" Xykon shrugged. "A Paladin of the Sapphire Guard is one tough nut to crack. What was that one guy's name? You know, the beard-y dude?"
"O-Chul…" Redcloak grumbled.
"Right, whatever…" Xykon dismissed Redcloak with a wave of his hand. "Yeah, Beard-y dude never cracked. He was a real great example of what the Sapphire Guard has to offer. But… there's just one problem, in your case. You're no longer a Paladin of the Sapphire Guard…"
"The color of my cape is by no means a representation of my heart…" Miko replied coldly.
"Yeah, it goes a bit beyond you cape, sweetie…" Tsukiko grinned from over Xykon's shoulder, pulling a mirror from behind her back and offering it to Xykon.
"Yeah… As I was saying… You're no longer a Paladin of the Sapphire Guard. You're no longer even remotely good. In fact…" Xykon took the mirror, and held it up in front of Miko's face. "You're no longer even human."
Miko found herself looking at an image of a skull in the mirror. Pale, bleached, and wreathed in long, pitch-black hair, the skull grinned back at her with empty eye sockets and glowing red pupils. The horrid realization that it was her own skull was too much for Miko Miyazaki to bear, and she let loose a hideous, inhuman scream which echoed into oblivion. "WHAT HAVE YOU DONE TO ME?!" she howled. She attempted to lunge forward, but the bindings holding her back held strong.
"Um… Well…" Xykon tossed the mirror over his shoulder (Demon Roach: Isn't that 7 years bad luck?) and began to scratch at his jawbone. "The short answer is, we put all our abilities together and managed to whip you up into a Death Knight."
"HOW DARE YOU TRANSFORM ME INTO SUCH AN UNSPEAKABLE MONSTROSITY!!!!!" Miko snarled, struggling violently to get free and tear the Lich apart.
"But the long answer…" Xykon continued, folding his hands together in a business-like manner, "We've given you a second chance."
"A SECOND CHANCE AT WHAT?!" Miko snarled viciously. "MY LIFE WAS OVER!! I DIED WITH HONOR, AND NO REGRETS!! WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY HAVE TO OFFER ME?!"
"Revenge against the people who landed you in this position to start with…" Xykon crooned, "The Order of the Stick."
Miko stopped struggling. "What?"
"Think about it…" Xykon unfolded his hands and tapped his temples. "They did this to you, when you stop and think about it. They ruined your life. They tricked you into doing the things that eventually cost you your Paladin-hood. They robbed you of your glory. Your life. You're honor. But now, you have the chance to right those wrongs. Yes, you're a Death Knight. Yes… you're Evil now. But sometimes, Evil has a purpose in the Greater Good. Murders must be committed so that others may live. Property must be stolen or damaged so that worse consequences can be avoided. Lies must be told so that the truth itself may survive. Sometimes you have to kill cute little animals in order to feed starving children! And in your case… So what if you have to be Evil? The Order of the Stick was, is, and will be worse than anything you could ever be capable of, Paladin or Death Knight. What matters is that the Order of the Stick, the villains that they are, will be held accountable for their actions. They will be punished. They will be purged. By you, in the name of Evil, for purpose of Good. Now… How does that sound to you?"
Miko sat there, contemplating what the Lich had said. Slowly but surely, gears were turning in her head. Finally, Miko locked eyes with Xykon and gave him her answer: "Release me, that I may begin preparing for my purpose."
"That'a girl!" Xykon cheered, clapping his hands together happily. "Redcloak, Tsukiko, release her…" The two underlings came forward, and unstrapped Miko from what turned out to be an up-turned table. As the Paladin-turned-Death Knight slowly staggered forward and tried to steady her balance, Xykon sighed contently. "Her first steps… Oh, I'm so proud!"
"Don't worry…" Redcloak whispered to Miko as she wobbled back and forth, "You'll get used to it."
"Being a monster?" she muttered back at the Goblin.
"No…" Redcloak sighed, "Working with Xykon…"