Category Archives: The Hour – Book 1

Modern Mythology, using fantasy, horror, etc.

The Hour – Prologue

Prologue Book One

 

Simeon awoke from a deep slumber and sat up. The demon blinked his eyes, then stared at the rock-hewn walls. Walking to a nearby countertop, he grabbed up a piece of bird carcass and probed it with a forked tongue from his snake-like mouth. Simeon finished the animal, bones and all, in two quick snap-like movements of his long curved neck. Picking up a long cylindrical rock, he sharpened his thick claws to a razor’s edge with a few swift strokes.

With a wave of his hand a rock doorway rolled aside, revealing a corridor. Simeon left his room and hobbled down the wide hallway a few hundred feet, occasionally passing a demon or two, and eventually entered an enormous natural rock cavern. Taking a long hard look at the entrance of the cavern several hundred yards away, Simeon stared at the daylight as it fell in upon the ramp that led to the desert floor. He turned and followed a worn pathway down to the large magical portal that encompassed nearly the whole back wall of the cavern. Of course it had been inactive for several years now, and looked like two giant carved stone pillars about a hundred feet apart. It was also where Simeon reported every morning, to be grilled, tormented, and humiliated by his master, the full demon Drathus. Thus the life of a chin’ee.

‘Drathus passed the Jakarute ritual, but only because I let that hardheaded moronic drek win.’ Simeon thought. ‘My orders to follow the book of Morgus wherever it went, required me to do so. In retrospect, it may have been the only contest that really mattered. I knew Drathus wanted the book and I knew he would steal it from his mother, Cruix. The shale does not fall far from the mountain. Cruix, the self-proclaimed Queen of the third parcel, and that imbecile Drathus’s mother, is only a bit smarter. She could not tell that her favorite chin’ee was working as a spy right under her nose, and now I do the same with Drathus. Unjustly, because of my failure to win the Jakarute, I must do it as his slave, and this is by far the worst hell I have ever endured’.

Drathus shouted a few commands at another chin’ee as Simeon approached. He then opened a large scroll and began to study it thoroughly. “And what is your progress?” Drathus said snidely without looking at Simeon.

“Massstersss. I’sss needsss moresss.” Simeon replied.

“What is your progress?” Drathus shouted, staring intently at the snake-headed demon.

Simeon slithered his head back and forth in disgust, and put his hands together in front of him with palms facing upward. Closing his hands into fists, he reopened them and a scroll materialized. Simeon offered it to Drathus who snatched it from him greedily.

“I’sss much clossser nowsss” Simeon hisssed. “I’sss needsss moresss.”

“You need more? How much more?” Drathus replied, studying the calculations Simeon gave him.

“Allsss your notesss massstersss.” Simeon said. “The finalsss computationsss requiresss moresss.”

Drathus stood nearly twenty feet tall, and seemed to revel in looking down upon his hunchbacked slave. “Are you sure you can do it? Can you locate the home world of the Great One?”

“Ifsss I’sss have moresss.” Simeon responded with his best poker face.

Drathus sighed. “Very well, take all of my notes, but get me results!” The demon spat. “And put on some more musk powder before your stench makes me go blind!” Drathus added sharply, as he waved his hand, a pile of scrolls magically appeared on the stone table beside him.

“Yesss massstersss.” Simeon replied, and picked up the scrolls.

Shuffling along, Simeon headed for his lab. This would be much easier if that fool had not lost the book of Morgus to begin with. Drathus had lost it in the ruins of the city called Muret in his haste to retreat from the onslaught of the seven wizards who protected this world. Now all he had to go by was his master’s handwritten scratch that he had copied down nearly a thousand years ago. The book revealed the home world of the Great One, the one who was prophesized to destroy all demons, but did not give enough information to open a gate to that world. It was like searching for a stone scale-pruner in a pile of hyukduk dung.

‘If it were not for me that idiot would have never gotten this close. I discovered that the Asundering curse that Drathus wrote down could be used to track magical signatures. And assuming my calculations are correct, it may be possible to perform the curse and bring the Great One here without opening a gate, at least part of him’. Of course Simeon had figured this out years ago, and had cross-referenced his findings with the map of known galactic dimensional portals.

‘If Drathus only knew that the Great One’s world was already known to us, that demons had already visited this planet a millennia ago, that a gate already existed to his world from one we conquered eons ago, …’ Simeon’s lip curled into a sneer, ‘but he never will. I will see to that.’

The curse was enough. It would slow Drathus down, and by bringing it to his master’s attention now, enable Simeon to get his hands on the last of that imbecile’s notes.

The orders from the home world were clear, and signed by the demon Usurper Tsach. Follow the book, get all information about it and report any findings on the Great One. It appeared as if Drathus were not the only one interested in this mythical being.

Simeon entered his lab and sat down at his cold stone work desk. Pouring over the last of Drathus’s notes from the book of Morgus, he copied down everything of interest. It would soon be time for Drathus to activate the gate to Degruthras and report back to Cruix.

‘The last several such occasions he has sent me in his place, unwilling to bear the wrath of his mother, who has still not forgiven him for stealing the book from her, and worse yet, for losing it on an alien world. I would have thought she would have been angrier at his failure to defeat the alien wizards and conquer this new world, but what do I know? Drathus will want to give her some good news, and is desperate for his obsession with finding and enslaving the Great One to pay off. If all goes well he will have his good news for Cruix, and I will have my report for Tsach.’

Simeon could not wait to get back to Degruthras; it was one of the few times he could feel the sunlight on his scaly skin. This alien world rained acid, forcing them to work underground and ultimately created more problems than it was worth. Soon, he thought, soon it would all change, Drathus would be killed and he would take his rightful place under Tsach and his new dynasty.

Finishing the last of Drathus’s scrolls, Simeon pulled out the one that contained the curse. He made a few last minute adjustments to it based on his latest information, rolled it up and tucked it under his arm. He shuffled out of his lab, and went to find Drathus.

“What do you need now, you pathetic excuse for a demon?” Drathus berated, as he saw Simeon headed towards him.

“Nothingsss, my massstersss.” Simeon replied.

“Nothing? Now that is unusual for you. If you want nothing then why are you here breathing my air?” Drathus demanded.

“To givesss you thisss.” Simeon replied and handed him the scroll.

Suddenly Drathus’s eyes lit up. “Is this it?” he asked.

“Yesss massstersss.” Simeon hissed.

Drathus unrolled the scroll and studied it intently. “A curse? Do you really think it will work?”

“Yesss massstersss, a sssecond body will be created heresss and his ssoulsss will passs betweensss themsss.” Simeon explained.

“What about the time differentials?” Drathus questioned.

“They appearsss to be ssimilarsss to thisss worldsss, but I’sss believesss the curssse will ssynchronize themsss.”

“The curse creates continuity of time between worlds for the one who is cursed? That is astounding.”

“Yesss massstersss.”

“Gather your things. You will take this information to Cruix. Tell her to send me the reinforcements I asked for. I will soon be ready to start the invasion of this world.” Drathus told him.

“The ssecondsss invasssionsss?” Simeon asked, blank-faced.

“Watch your tongue, chin’ee, before I rip it out of your head. Now be gone! You leave first thing in the morning.” Drathus bellowed.

“Yesss massstersss.” Simeon said and lurched away.

Simeon smiled as he entered his quarters; he was pleased he would soon feel the hot suns of Degruthras, and more than that, to get his report back to the home world. This was the beginning of the end for Drathus, and Simeon reveled in the part he had played. The time differential between this world and Degruthras would mean he would be gone two weeks, but a little over a year will have passed on this world. A year he would not have to spend under the thumb of Drathus. He gathered his usual travel gear together and placed them in a stout leather bag beside the door to his quarters. Sitting on his slab of rock, he re-read his report to Tsach one final time, then tucked it under his belt and layed down to sleep.

The next morning, he awoke to the sound of his door sliding open. “Get up, you spineless drek! We have work to do.” Drathus’s voice boomed.

Simeon sat up, the indignation of Drathus’s intrusion painted clearly upon his face. “What isss it nowsss?” Simeon asked as he stood in front of his master.

“Meet me in your lab in five minutes!” Drathus yelled at him and left, leaving the door to his room open.

‘What could it possibly be now?’ Simeon wondered, as he grabbed his bag and set out through the door toward the lab. ‘What is so important that I can not even eat my morning meal?’ A few minutes later, a still grumbling Simeon entered the lab. Drathus was there waiting for him. Simeon could tell the demon had been busy; all manner of scrolls and herbs lay strewn across his workbenches. The nature of the items gave him pause.

Catching the look on Simeon’s face Drathus said, “We are going to perform the curse.”

Simeon stared at him. “Whatsss about Cruix, massstersss?”

“I am sending Godakath instead. His tour here is over, and he will be returning to Parcel three in a few days. Besides, I can not wait a year for your return. Your talents are needed here.” Drathus explained.

“Heresss?” Simeon seethed.

“Yes, according to the document you handed me yesterday, the power of the curse must reside in the progenitor, and one other being or thing. You will be the other being. I decided it was best if we were both involved, in case this was some elaborate way you have designed to kill me.”

“Itsss will notsss kill you, massstersss.” Simeon choked out.

“Regardless, I have chosen you to hold part of the curse. Shall we get started?” Drathus asked.

Simeon nearly shook with rage, but managed to answer calmly. “Yesss, my massstersss.”

It was all Simeon could do to hold himself together while they spent the early morning hours preparing and performing the Asundering curse. As Drathus read the last of the scroll out loud the room was suddenly shrouded in darkness. A wind from nowhere blasted around them and then in a flash of bright light a body appeared on the table before them.

Simeon quickly grabbed some straps and tied the being down. Silver shackles, made to prevent the use of magic, were cuffed around his wrists. “He’ssss like the othersss heresss.” Simeon commented.

“Yes, he is remarkably similar to the wizards of this world. But is he the Great One?” Drathus asked.

“Ssshould be, my massstersss. Butsss I will findsss out for ssscertainsss.” Simeon replied and rolled out a cart full of tools and instruments. The exhilaration of standing before the Great One almost made Simeon forget that Drathus had destroyed all his carefully laid plans. There would still be time, he thought. He would show patience. He had waited this long, and an opportunity would undoubtedly present itself.

Drathus also stared at the humanoid body, as a bit of mucus slid from his gaping mouth to the floor. “How long will he be here?”

“Twenty-three hoursss each daysss.” Simeon replied, reaching for a bit of yellowish powder.

“I see. When will you have all of him?”

“Allsss of him, Massstersss?” Simeon questioned.

“Yes, all of him! I can not present half of the Great One before Arch-demon Mrodin now, can I?” Drathus replied.

“Masssteresss, I do notsss knowsss if the bodiesss cansss be combined heresss.”

Drathus’s eyes flashed red, as the demon snatched Simeon up by his neck and squeezed. “I have waited too long for this, you miserable letch. You will find a way to make it happen, or I will split your body in two!” The demon lord spat, and shoved Simeon into the rock wall of his lab.

Simeon grabbed at his neck and inhaled violently. “I will triesss, Massstersss.” Simeon choked out and coughed.

“You will what?” Drathus demanded as he leaned closer to Simeon, baring his razor sharp teeth.

“I will sssucceedsss, Masstersss.” Simeon replied, casting his eyes toward the floor.

“Then I will leave you to do what you do best. I look forward to your report.” Drathus said and left the room.

Simeon nodded, and sprinkled some of the powder over the being’s face. Suddenly the man’s eyes popped open and then he began to shriek. Grabbing some bluish liquid, Simeon let a few drops fall into his subject’s mouth, and the man began to calm down, but was still highly agitated.

“Thisss will helpsss you to undersstandsss.” Simeon said to him, and pulled a small white crystal from his pocket.

“What? Where am I? Am I dreaming? What are you?” The man asked, his eyes wide with fear.

Simeon tapped the crystal two times, and held it above the human’s face. The crystal began to glow instantly and within seconds a long energy trail spiraled down and vanished into the being’s cranium. Tapping it once more, the energy spiral appeared again and wound its way back into the crystal.

“What isss your namesss?” Simeon asked.

“What?” The man replied shaking his head violently to one side.

Simeon waited a few moments, and then asked again. “What isss your namesss?”

“My name? My name is Glyph Young. Who… What the fuck are you!” Glyph demanded.

“Goodsss, Goodsss. Welcomesss Glyphsss, My namesss isss Sssimeon, Simeon the torturersss.”

The Hour – Epilogue

Epilogue

 

“No!” Glyph screamed, and opened his eyes. He was in a hospital room.

“Fuck!” He yelled, as he tried to sit up. Then he realized he was strapped to the bed. There were restraints around his wrists and ankles, as well as three straps across his body.

Just then, three police officers ran in with guns drawn, pointed at him. Glyph turned his head and stared at their eyes. They were normal.

“Don’t move!” one of them commanded.

Glyph glanced down at his bonds, then back at the officer, and smiled.

“I don’t think I’ll have any problems there.” Glyph said smugly.

The officer blushed slightly, as the other two gave him the eye. They holstered their weapons and two of them left to retrieve a nurse. After about a minute an RN came in to check on him. She checked his I.V. and stared at the monitors for a few seconds.

“I see you’ve found your way back to us.” The nurse said as she started to take his blood pressure. “One thirty-nine over eighty seven.” She stated and recorded it on the chart beneath the last entry which read ‘zero over zero’, and mumbled something about never believing this in a million years.

“How are you feeling today, Mr. Young?” She asked.

“I’ve been better.” He replied, wondering what was about to happen.

“The doctor will be in to see you soon.” The nurse informed him, and left.

“Thanks.”

Laying his head back down on the pillow, Glyph wondered what was going on. ‘I killed Drathus, the curse should be broken, so why am I here? Something should have happened by now. It’s been almost ten minutes, why is nothing happening?’

A doctor came in some time later, and picked up Glyph’s chart.

“Mr. Young, my name is Doctor Greene.” He said as he examined the chart. “You appear to be in fairly good shape, at the moment. I was wondering if you could answer a few questions for me?”

Glyph stared at the man, expecting his eyes to go dark at any moment. When nothing happened, Glyph replied. “What’s up doc?” And tried without success to crack a smile.

The doctor peered at Glyph over his clipboard as he sat down in a chair next to Glyph’s bed. He turned his head, as if to make sure the nurse had gone, or to make eye contact with the policeman standing just inside the door to Glyph’s room. Then he cleared his throat. “Hm.” He said and paused like he didn’t know where to start.

“Are you aware of the fact that something is happening to you?” Doctor Greene finally asked.

Glyph laughed. “Seriously?” He replied. When the doctor said nothing, Glyph finally answered. “Yes.”

“Do you know what it is?”

Glyph’s eyes moved to stare at the man. “I’m fucking cursed, what do you think is wrong with me?” Glyph snapped sarcastically.

“We don’t know. I can’t explain medically what we have witnessed in the last 24 hours in regards to your… condition. I believe you have possibly suffered a type of head trauma that is somehow manifesting its symptoms in the form of a recurring coma.” Doctor Greene explained, then shifted in his seat. “Have you had any head trauma in the last several days or even weeks?”

“Look, undo these straps, and we can have a decent conversation.” Glyph said, his eyes constantly darting between the doctor and the door. ‘It’s going to happen’ Glyph thought. ‘Any moment now. I’m a sitting duck laying here like this.’

“I’m afraid after the incident yesterday that will not be possible. So, as to my question, any head trauma lately?”

Glyph could feel the agitation rising once more. “No.”

“Have you ever had trouble sleeping?” Doctor Greene asked calmly.

“No.”

“Did you ever commit a murder?”

Glyph glanced at the policeman, and then glared at the doctor. “If you’re fishing for a confession, you won’t get one.”

Doctor Greene asked several more questions, but Glyph was finished, at least until his sixty-first minute rolled by. It was then that he realized the curse had ended. For whatever reason, he was stuck here, and now he had to deal with it.

And so they began the unending quest for a diagnosis. Glyph was asked about a hundred questions that day, and several hundred more the next. He was subject to test after test, and hours of poking and prodding.

Then after about a week, they cleaned him up, chained his legs together, slapped him in handcuffs, and took him to the courthouse. Glyph was brought before a judge, and was appointed a public defender. He was charged with a long list of crimes, including: murdering several police officers and civilians, grand theft, and breaking and entering. Afterwards, he was dragged to the state penitentiary to await his trial.

He was placed in solitary confinement, and passed the days wondering what would happen to him. He thought about it all the time, but no one would tell him anything, so he stopped asking. At night he would sometimes dream of Ishea and Toban, and even Drathus. He would awake wondering what happened to them. Where was Ishea now? What was she doing?

After a month or so, Glyph was visited by his court-appointed attorney. Glyph told him the whole story, leaving nothing out. What else could he do? His only possible hope was an insanity plea, and his lawyer confirmed this. They met off and on for several months. Each time his lawyer would ask him a set of questions; some new, some old. On several occasions Glyph was visited by various doctors and psychologists. Each time, he would tell his story, answer questions about drug use, his sexuality, or his relationship with his mother. He would always answer with the truth. Glyph knew no one would believe him, but he also knew he had nothing to hide.

Eventually his trial date arrived, and the guards came and let him clean up. He put on a suit and tie, and was escorted to the prison van in handcuffs. He met with his lawyer at the courthouse, and they went in and sat down. Luckily for Glyph, the court was presided over by Judge Hinelin; his wife had apparently gone loony tunes sometime in the mid-nineties. Ever since then he was known to be sympathetic to insanity pleas.

They read a long list of crimes that Glyph had committed and asked for his plea. It was of course ‘Not guilty by reason of insanity’. There really was no other option other than guilty, and that was simply unacceptable. The opening arguments were also nothing Glyph hadn’t heard before. He had a lot of time to think about what the prosecuting attorney might say. “Serial Killer” and “Mass Murderer” were just a few of the titles placed on him during those first several minutes. He knew they weren’t true, and that he had good reasons for the things he did. Yet, for Glyph, it was still the judgment of society. In his mind he had to come to grips with the ramifications of what he had done in that regard, and that began to bother him a little.

The first witness was Doctor Jacob Hughes; he had been the last doctor to evaluate Glyph’s mental state. When asked for Glyph’s diagnosis, Dr. Hughes responded

“The complete medical diagnosis of the defendant Glyph Young, would be ‘Acute Paranoid Schizophrenia with Delusions of Persecution and Psychotic Episodes’.”  It was the first time Glyph had heard it spelled out like that, and he found it to be very sobering.

Both sides continued questioning the Doctor at length, hoping to trip him up, or use him to some advantage. The unexplained injuries that would appear and disappear while Glyph was in ‘his trance’, or coma as it eventually came to be known, were not allowed as evidence. Glyph decided that all lawyers would most likely be evil, when it came down to it. The thought sent a shiver down his spine. They broke for lunch, but Glyph found he wasn’t really hungry.

In the afternoon, they began to hear testimony from witnesses at the hospital. There had been two nurses that had witnessed some of the attack when Glyph first left his hospital room. They had apparently survived by hiding in a janitorial closet. There were also a number of people who had seen the crowds that besieged the elevator when it stopped briefly on the 1st floor. It seemed to Glyph that the whole sticking point here was that most of the witnesses felt some sort of sympathy for him. They would tell what they saw, but would always add some comment as to how they felt compelled to help him, or felt sorry for him. Glyph certainly wasn’t complaining, every little bit helped. Not to mention that everyone who had gone evil on Glyph, and survived, had amnesia about what had happened to them. Beyond that was the whole “Mass Hysteria” label that the media pinned to the episode. The prosecution didn’t like mass hysteria as an explanation for their witnesses’ behavior, but what else could they call it? There simply wasn’t a sufficient logical reason as to why they had acted the way they did. The jury also felt this label was too ambiguous, as they wanted answers and got none.

Several of his neighbors were there in the courtroom, most likely to tell how they had seen Glyph murder their landlord. He was sure that anything they said would only make him look worse. Glyph decided that his best witness would be the girl from the Christian camp. She had seen everything and helped him to escape. When he didn’t see her in the court room, he became a bit apprehensive. Maybe she was supposed to testify tomorrow. Glyph asked his lawyer about her at the end of the day’s proceedings.

“You mean Maureen Tiney?” The lawyer clarified.

“Yeah, Maureen. When is she supposed to testify?” Glyph asked.

“I’m sorry, Mr. Young. Ms. Tiney was admitted to a mental health facility shortly after your encounter with her. I’m afraid she won’t be testifying.” Glyph’s heart sank.

Witness testimony and questioning went on for several days until they got to the police officers. This was why the prosecution sought the death penalty, and as the days went by, the thought of death began to weigh heavily on Glyph.

The following week they heard more testimony from the police, and relatives of all the people Glyph had killed. The words they said made him sick to his stomach, but he knew it was true, from their viewpoint anyway. The most damning piece of evidence was the girl’s driver’s license, which they found in Glyph’s jeans pocket. Interestingly enough, they still hadn’t found the car he had ditched off the highway. Had he not kept the license, they would have never suspected him, not that it would have mattered much.

The plan was to ‘get by’ without having Glyph testify, but after the case took several bad turns with the killing of the police officers, his lawyer decided it was the only way to prove to the jury that he actually was insane. The polygraphs he had taken, that proved at least that he believed he was telling the truth, were also stricken from evidence. Evidently, believing your own insane tale does not make you insane.

And so the time finally arrived for Glyph to take the stand. He was called by the defense, and his lawyer did a fairly good job of making Glyph out to be nuts. Glyph did the rest. At some points in his rendition of the facts, a couple of the jurors actually let out a snicker. For most of them though, an intense look of pity was all that fell across their faces. For two days Glyph sat and told the story with the help of his attorneys, rehearsed questions, and remarks on his mental condition.

As it turned out, that was the easy part. It was the way the prosecuting lawyer tried to twist his words into something murderous and evil, that truly struck a chord with Glyph. The battle of good and evil was playing out right before his eyes, in this three ring circus of a courtroom. Through it all, Glyph stuck to his guns, and offered up explanations for his actions that at times made the lawyer take pause in his questioning. Glyph could tell it was starting to get to the prosecution that no matter how hard they tried, they could not prove he was sane when it came to the killings. After a total of three weeks the trial was at a close.

Glyph sat anxiously as he awaited the verdict. The jury deliberated for three days before coming to their decision. As the lead juror read aloud ‘Guilty by reason of insanity’, Glyph started to breathe again. It meant that there was a good chance he wouldn’t die.

The judge stared at him thoughtfully for several seconds.

“Due to an acute antisocial personality disorder, the defendant, Glyph Young, is hereby sentenced to an involuntary civil commitment for the rest of his life, with no chance of parole. Mr. Young will be remanded to serve his sentence at The Forensic Psychiatric Hospital for the Criminally Insane, in Trenton, due in part to the fact that he poses an immediate threat to himself, and the public.” The judge proclaimed.

It was like music and pain for Glyph. He remembered how happy he was that he would not die, and at the same time cringed internally at the thought of life in a mental institution. The yin and yang circled in his thoughts for days after the trial, good versus evil, life versus death, and freedom versus imprisonment. It always came back to the balance, and Glyph was the line that separated them both. It was scary and profoundly enlightening at the same time, and he began to withdraw into himself as the thoughts began to consume his days.

Glyph was admitted to the hospital four days after the trial concluded. He was placed in a padded cell, straightjacket and all, to serve out his sentence. The psychologist assigned to Glyph was named Dr. Osirus, and the irony was not lost. He was prescribed some heavy-duty medication, which Glyph hungrily took down. The drugs fucked him up pretty well, and that made it much easier to cope with his situation.

Glyph met with Dr. Osirus three times a week. They talked about everything, and because Glyph appeared to be sane, other than his ‘incident’, Dr. Osirus went about scientifically explaining the reasons why Glyph had gone insane. Delving into everything from hallucinations to sleep disorders, Dr. Osirus had an explanation. At first Glyph tuned him out, and on several occasions, actually tried to use his magic to undo his restraints, but it never worked. Thoughts of Ishea and the world in which he was King, began to fade. It was a slow process; eventually he gave up hope of a rescue, or even an escape.

It was at this point he broke down; eighteen months of constant explanation and theory took its toll. Dr. Osirus called it a breakthrough. Glyph didn’t know what it was anymore, and on some subconscious level he wondered if the good Doctor wasn’t just using him as a way to further his career. Of course, it really didn’t matter for Glyph; it wasn’t as if he would be released for accepting these logical explanations for his behavior.

On the third anniversary of Glyph’s incarceration, Dr. Osirus left the hospital for a better job. He never even came to tell Glyph he was leaving. ‘How could a person do that?’ Glyph had wondered, as he sat in front of Dr. Aehsi, his new shrink.

She was of Indian descent, and wore a dot in the middle of her forehead. Glyph thought he once knew what the symbol meant but had long since forgotten. He wanted to ask her about it, but all the doctors had a strict policy against asking personal questions.

Interested in his current revelation and acceptance of his condition, she asked Glyph to explain it to her as best he could. This had not been too much of a problem, until about a month had passed, and Dr. Aehsi was asking him about his love for Ishea, and how he felt about her being a mere stress-induced hallucination. Glyph faltered momentarily, and began to cry.

“It appears to me that you have been fed a line of regurgitated reasoning, and made to believe these explanations through repetition, and mental manipulation.” Dr. Aehsi told him.

“What do you mean?” Glyph asked wiping his tears away.

“I mean that Dr. Osirus brainwashed you into believing his explanations instead of finding real answers.”

It sounded better than it was. Dr. Aehsi began to deconstruct his current thinking of his incident by offering alternate reasoning and explanations, and after a while, Glyph realized that she was right. Osirus fed him one version, and made Glyph believe it. It was like a mind rape, and Aehsi helped to slowly talk him back out of it. Unfortunately as he found himself revisiting his feelings for Ishea, and his former friends, she would squash their existence in other ways. Eventually he started to tell her less and less, and after two months decided not to speak at all.

Glyph remembered that last session well.

“So, are you not going to say anything now? Are you just going to pretend it didn’t happen? Or try to relive it, over and over in your mind, hoping for what? Salvation? Immunity? Self-preservation? You are at a crossroads now, Glyph. You can either run from your problems, or learn to face them. The choice is yours.” Dr. Aehsi had told him, then had the guards wheel him back to his cell. He had felt like screaming at her, to ask her what difference it would make, and how any of this would change his quality of life, but he remained silent.

Now, Glyph lay on his mattress in the corner of his cell, staring at the wall thinking about everything, and nothing. The yin and yang. It had been three years and three months since his imprisonment, and nearly four years since he awoke from a coma in the hospital. Almost four and a half years since the incident began and he was first tormented by his hallucinations, or whatever you wanted to call them now. Glyph had ceased to care; he would be here in this room until he died and nothing would change that. Nothing at all. There were so many things he would never do, and the weight of his thoughts made him weep.

He must have drifted off to sleep, because he suddenly felt awake, like he had been jolted out of his sleep. Looking around his cell he saw nothing out of the ordinary, yet for some reason the hair on the top of his head stood on end.

Suddenly a blue crackling energy filled the room, and Glyph closed his eyes to block out the blinding light. When he opened them he saw Ishea standing in front of him, the blue light of the Divinare crystal surrounding her. Glyph closed his eyes and tried to turn away as best he could.

“Glyph.” He heard her say. “Glyph! Thank the Gods I have finally found you! It has taken me months, but I have found the way to bring you back! Glyph?”

Glyph turned further into the seam in the padding at the corner of the wall.

“Glyph what is wrong? What has happened to you?” Ishea asked.

“NO.no.no.no.” Glyph said into the wall.

“I have found a way to bring you back, but we must hurry! Glyph, do you understand?”

Glyph stiffened, and rolled over. He pulled his legs up underneath of him like a worm, and stood up leaning against the wall. He turned then to face her.

“Oh Glyph, what have they done to you?” She said sadly, and tears began to streak down her face. The room was dark around her and something clicked in the back of his mind. He had seen this scene before, woven in a tapestry.

“How?” Glyph asked her hoarsely, his eyes wild.

“I can open a gate between this world and yours, but we must work together, and quickly!” Ishea replied.

He began to laugh, and then cried, and then laughed again. The thought struck him, who cares if it’s real or not, it has to be better than a padded cell. “What do you need me to do?” he said gruffly, his wide eyes shifting back and forth.

“I have found you by using the Divinare, but in order to open the gate I need you to concentrate on me. When I feel your thoughts I can create the gate. It will only last a few seconds after it appears, so you must act quickly. I can only do this once, Glyph, so we must make it count.” Ishea explained to him.

“So I just have to think about you?” Glyph asked dubiously.

‘Isn’t that a little convenient?’ He wondered as the idea occurred to him that he may just be having a conversation with himself.

“We’re running out of time!  I don’t have time to explain everything to you. I am in danger right now.”

“Where are you?”

“Degruthras.  I’m on Drathus’s world, Glyph. It was the only way to find your world. Now please hurry. Concentrate!”

Glyph stared at her for a few more seconds, then closed his eyes, and concentrated on Ishea, and the memory of her. There was a loud snap sound, as Glyph’s ears popped. He opened his eyes and there was a large oval of swirling blue-green energy in the corner of the cell. He looked back and forth from the cell door to the gate of energy.

“Fuck it all!” He wailed, hopped across the cell, and leapt full force into the wall of crackling light and vanished. The room went dark, and all was silent.

The Hour – Chapter 21

Chapter 21

 

Glyph just lay there. He knew what was taking place around him, without ever opening his eyes. He thought he would be happier, but he wasn’t. The thought of facing Drathus just sucked the life out of him. He almost felt like a traitor, turning his back on his life on Earth. Not that it had ever amounted to much anyway, it was simply a difficult thing to accept. It was like closing the book on a chapter of your life; sometimes it makes you happy, and sometimes it makes you sad. For Glyph it was both. Being equally good and evil is a bad mix. More of one than the other isn’t so bad, but walking the line just sucked ass.

Opening his eyes, Glyph saw Ishea standing over him as usual. He stared at her a good long time, watching her as she helped to knit his broken ribs back together. When she finished she glanced down at him.

“What?” she asked.

“Nothing.” He lied. He knew the feelings he had for her were more than nothing.

“Are you sure?” she prodded.

“Yeah.” He replied, lifting his head to see the monks working on his knee.

Without uttering a sound, the monks finished and left the room. Glyph sat up, rubbed his sore neck, and found himself staring at Ishea again as she packed up her things. When she glanced over at him, he turned away as if he hadn’t been looking, and walked over to The Tapestry.

The scene it bore was distressing. It was a close up scene of Ishea, surrounded in the wavy blue light of the Divanare crystal. She was begging or pleading, he didn’t know which, but the expression she wore and the solitary tear that ran the length of her face spoke volumes. Everything around her in the background was dark, and try as he might, he couldn’t make out any discernable details of where she could be. Past, present, future, which was it?  He wondered, as a chill crept down his spine from the back of his neck. Finding himself mesmerized by the image, he finally jerked away, focusing his vision across the room. Glyph had a strange feeling that things were turning south for him, and he didn’t like it. What were all these strange images that had been popping up over the last few days? Why were they being presented to him now? What did they mean?

“We’re holding a quick ceremony for Lukret, before his body is taken back to Muret. It will be starting shortly. Covat said they would wait so that we could attend.” Ishea informed him, breaking him out of his thoughts.

“Yes, of course.” Glyph said, pulling on his mail shirt.

Glyph donned the rest of his kingly gear, and made his way towards the flap of the tent. As he reached it, Ishea interrupted him.

“Glyph?”

Glyph turned around, and saw Ishea framed by her own image on The Tapestry at the far end of the tent. The sour thoughts he had been thinking, solidified into a black heavy lump above his heart. A feeling of dread fell upon him, and he just stared at her, and The Tapestry, in advancing fear.

“What?” He half barked at her, in an attempt to hide his thoughts.

“Oh, nothing. It can wait.”

Glyph turned quickly and left the tent, unable to cope with the emotions that had suddenly been wrought to the surface. Ishea followed in silence and they made their way toward the Torlean encampment. Shortly, they arrived at Lukret’s tent, and went inside.

Nearly everyone was there, at least those who hadn’t perished in yesterday’s battle. Covat stood, and began a long oration of some Torlean rite of passage. Lukret, to Glyph’s surprise, was propped in a seated position on a chair, doubling as a throne. How they got him to stay that way without falling to the floor Glyph couldn’t tell, but it occupied his mind as he listened to the continuing speech. When Covat finished, Toban stood and said a few words, followed by Kahula, then several others. Glyph, seeing the pattern, guessed he too would soon be expected to say something out of respect for the man. Ishea stood next and gave an eloquent speech from her heart about the end of one journey being the beginning of the next. When she finished and sat down all eyes turned to him. Glyph stood and looked around the room.

“I only knew Lukret for a few days, but in that time I came to know him as a friend. You have all honored him with true, inspiring words, tales of his deeds, and stories of his past. I have none of those things to offer. What I know of Lukret is little, but I can tell you this, he cared. He cared enough to give his life for something he believed in, something true, and noble. The mark of a great man is not in what he says, but in what he does, and for me, Lukret made that mark. I will not let his death, or any of the other fine men who gave their lives on this field of battle, be for nothing.”

With that said, Glyph took his seat. Covat stood again, and spoke a few more words, ending the engagement. They all filed somberly out of the tent and took to their mounts. Toban rode up beside Glyph, and began filling him in on the troop placement at the mouth of The Pass. As they reached the battlefield, there were still work details removing bodies of soldiers, burying them in mass graves while leaving the Grull to rot where they fell. The stench was foul, and made him gag more than once. Glyph could now see The Pass in the distance, and realized that most of the soldiers were already in place, anxiously awaiting Glyph’s arrival for their march through that gateway to hell.

As they approached the ranks of soldiers they slowed to a canter and began to ride in between them. Torleans, Barjons, and Kivans lined each side of the path leading to the mouth of The Pass. As they rode, soldiers began to raise their weapons; swords, pikes, and bows were all lifted high in tribute. Glyph felt an immense respect for these men, and the fact that they had faith in him was not lost. Soon a chant rumbled through the lines of men.

“Glyph, Glyph, Glyph, Glyph.” the soldiers chanted as he passed.

Glyph raised his own sword in response, and the warriors let out a deafening roar that echoed off the mountains. Turning slightly in his saddle, Glyph glanced back at his companions and noticed that they also had their weapons held high. They rode on like that for another half mile before reaching the entrance.

When they arrived, Glyph noticed some commotion in front of them. Several Kivans had wrestled a lone Grull to the ground. One of the men approached Glyph.

“Sire! We have captured a Grull. He claims to carry a message for you from the Demon Lord.”

Glyph turned toward Ishea, then back at the soldier.

“Let’s take a look.” Glyph said, and dismounted.

He walked several steps to the place where they had him pinned to the ground. Glyph studied the horned beast for a while. Its left horn was tattooed in some tribal pattern, and both arms were ringed with bands of iron.

“Alright, fuckface. I’m waiting.” Glyph spat at it.

The beast snorted, and its large bovine eyes began to track him.

“Lord Drathus challenges you …huff… to one on one combat …huff… in a place and time of your choosing.” The Grull reiterated what had been drilled into its skull.

“I see.” Glyph said, putting his finger to his chin and bouncing it softly.

“It’s a trap, Glyph. He is goading you into an ambush.” Kahula interjected.

“I agree, Glyph. This is highly unusual and suspicious.” Toban chimed in.

Glyph circled the Grull, and then gave it a swift kick in the ribs. “Pull him to his feet.” He commanded the guards.

With a struggle, four Kivans wrestled the Grull upright, holding its arms firmly.

“Tell Drathus I will meet him in the middle of The Pass, as soon as possible.”

“My Lord! You cannot!” Toban shouted, then quickly realized his place and calmed himself.

The soldiers pushed the Grull to the dirt some distance away from them as they let it go. The Grull huffed, got to its feet, cocked its head to the right, and ran off to inform Drathus.

“I know, Toban, but it’s meant to be this way.” Glyph replied placing his hand on his friends back.

As he spoke, it felt as if a weight had been suddenly lifted from his soul. Glyph smiled for the first time that day, and began to laugh quietly. Covat looked at him with unabashed respect.

“Will you be able to defeat him, Glyph?” Covat asked.

“I don’t know, Covat. It seems like everything has been leading me to this moment. I feel this battle will decide all. It’s why I’m here.” He replied. “This is ‘The Day of Reckoning’ after all.”

A silence fell over them for a moment.

“The plan here is simple. After I kill Drathus, send all of our men into Degruthra, and hunt down every foul creature that breathes.” Glyph told them coolly.

“What if you fail?” Covat wondered aloud.

Glyph turned serious. “If I fail, it will be up to Ishea to take him out. Even if I only weaken Drathus, she might be able to finish the job. Never give up hope.”

He purposefully tried not to look at Ishea as he said it.

“You will prevail.” Toban stated, fighting back his emotions.

“Or die trying.” Glyph added, looking him in the eye.

Turning, he swung up onto O’dista’s saddle, and watched them all as they stared back at him. Ishea moved her horse closer, and handed him a small vial.

“Thanks.” Glyph said, as he downed the contents like a shot of whiskey.

She looked at him, and gave him the smile. “Good luck, Glyph.” she spoke softly, as a tear rolled down her cheek.

Reaching over, Glyph wiped the tear from her face. He felt like his chest was about to explode, as his own eyes began to fill with water. Pulling back on the reins, he turned O’dista back toward The Pass, and began to trot down the path that wound its way between the towering mountains. After about ten feet he stopped.

“Ishea?” he called out, without turning.

“Yes, Glyph?” He heard her call back.

Glancing back, Glyph materialized a red rose, and suspended it in front of her. She reached out and plucked it from the air, then lifted it to smell the fragrance, as another teardrop formed in the corner of her eye.

“I love you.” he said, half turning in his saddle.

Before Glyph could turn back around, Ishea galloped up beside him, reached over with her free hand and grabbed his mail shirt. Pulling him in close, she kissed him hard. As she released her grip, she grinned, and stared into his eyes for a few seconds. Glyph reached down, took her hand, and gave it one good squeeze, while gazing back at her. Then he drew out his sword, kicked his heels, and rode on down the path toward destiny.

 

The sky grew dark the further Glyph went, and black clouds began to swirl overhead. The Pass was about fifty yards across with sheer cliffs on either side, like it had been carved by some ancient river. There was a crude path down the center, surrounded by scrub brush, stunted trees, and various sized rocks.

Nearing the halfway mark, Glyph dismounted, and sent O’dista back the way he had come. It was twilight now in the canyon; storm clouds had obscured most of the sunlight. Glyph began to sweat as he crept slowly forward, his eyes scanning the area. The trail wound around a large boulder, and as he walked past it, he saw Drathus standing on the far side of a natural depression in the landscape.

“Greetings, Glyph.” The Demon Lord called to him in a deep rumbling voice.

Glyph eyed it up. It stood a good twenty feet tall, and its massive chest was covered with an iron breastplate several inches thick. Tattoos of ancient runes covered its reddish-brown skin, and a large sword hung from a rawhide belt around its waist. Atop its head was a silver crown, the tips charred black by the bright yellow flames that billowed off the top of its skull. Giant ebony horns curled to each side, and its face was drawn tight and leathery, with patches of exposed bone in the cheeks and forehead.

“Whatever you say, Drathus.” Glyph replied, squaring off to the Demon Lord.

“Perhaps we could strike a bargain, you and I.”

“Really? You think so?” Glyph said sarcastically, feeling the turmoil inside him growing. “Perhaps you can suck my dick!”

The demon ignored him. Either the insult was lost in translation, or it just didn’t care. “Side with me. I could make you overlord of this world.” Drathus propositioned, half growling in its resonant voice.

Glyph laughed. “I already am, and I didn’t even want the job!” he yelled back. “So you can take your bargain, and shove it up your ass!”

Jumping back a step, Glyph pulled his sword and swung it in a long arc above his head. He held it there with both hands, and leveled the bright molten blade at Drathus.

“I could return you to your world, as if nothing had happened.” Drathus tried to persuade him, while drawing its own sword.

“I’ve heard that one before! I didn’t believe it then, what makes you think I will now?”

“Say the word. I have the means to make it happen.” Drathus told him.

“There’s only one way this ends, you evil fucking bastard! You’ve made my life hell! Now you’re gonna die, Bitch!” Glyph shot back, his body shaking with anger.

“You are making a mistake, Glyph.”

“Go fuck yourself!”

With that, the large boulder behind Glyph took flight and sailed at the demon. At the last second, Drathus hit the rock with his fist, obliterating it into a cloud of dust and flying debris. Thrusting out his free arm, Drathus started shooting lightning bolts at Glyph.

“Shield!” Glyph screamed.

The bolts impacted with a loud snap, and crackled fiercely as they slid across the top of the transparent blue dome now surrounding him.

Stomping the ground, Glyph sent a shock wave through the earth, pushing a column of rock up under the demon’s feet, knocking it off balance. As Drathus attempted to recover, Glyph swept one arm down in a low arc, gathering the wind, and forced it to move like a pillar into Drathus’s chest. The impact pushed it back another step, causing the demon to topple over.

Rushing forward, Glyph let out a yell as Drathus quickly rolled to its feet. As he closed in on the Demon Lord, the ground started to rise up under Glyph’s feet, forming stairs as he ran. When he had risen about ten feet, he leapt toward Drathus, blade first. Sidestepping at the last second, the demon managed to avoid the deathblow. Glyph, finding himself flying headfirst past Drathus about fifteen feet in the air, spun violently and cut deep into the Demon Lord’s arm. Completing the barrel roll, Glyph summoned a cushion of blowing wind that caught him a few feet from the ground. Jumping quickly to his feet, Glyph felt the whoosh of the giant sword as it flashed by his back into the ground. The impact nearly made Glyph lose his footing. Lunging forward, he started running toward the rock-face in front of him, trying to gather his strength.

He turned to see the demon crossing the distance between them in a few strides. Glyph managed to dodge the first volley of electric energy Drathus sent at him. Spinning his arm in a tight circle, Glyph conjured up a ball of energy and flung it into the side of the Demon Lord’s head. Drathus staggered to one side like it had been hit with a gigantic baseball bat, and let out a howl. As Glyph jumped in to cut the demon’s leg, it spun, catching him full in the chest with its trunk-sized tail. The impact knocked the wind out of Glyph, and slammed him hard, back first, into the rock face. Glyph slid to the ground gasping for air.

“You are no match for me, weakling!” Drathus bellowed. “I will slay you, then I will lay waste to these lands, and make slaves of its people!”

Glyph concentrated and magically reset his breathing. The anger began to build in his soul, and his hatred grew ten fold. Drathus leaned down to stare at him. Quickly lashing out with his sword, Glyph carved a line through the demon’s cheek. Drathus reared back and swung its sword toward Glyph’s head. Leaping to his feet, Glyph swung his sword to block. As their swords impacted, the red molten steel of his weapon sliced Drathus’s sword in two. Glyph ducked as the demon’s swing flew by, but the severed piece of blade raked across his back on its way to the ground.

Screaming through clenched teeth over the massive oozing cuts across his shoulders, Glyph put his back to the rock face, and punched his fist out toward Drathus. As he did that, a column of stone, four feet across, drove horizontally out of the mountainside and plowed into Drathus’s chest, blasting him backward about thirty feet.

Glyph stood there watching, catching his breath. Still breathing heavily, he began to slowly walk across The Pass to where Drathus had come to rest. Drathus was in the process of trying to stand when Glyph finally got there. The Demon Lord shook his head a few quick times, got to his feet, and turned to face Glyph.

“I don’t think so!” Glyph shouted at him, pissed off.

Glyph was sweating profusely now, though his breathing was getting easier. He was feeling somewhat depleted, and Ishea’s potion was having problems keeping up.

Drathus launched a few fireballs at Glyph, but stopped when it saw the molten sword suck them up before reaching him. Then, taking a few steps closer, the Demon Lord shot out another fireball towards Glyph’s head, and simultaneously threw the broken sword at his chest. Raising his sword to deflect the fireball, the pommel of Drathus’s massive sword slammed into Glyph’s chest and shoulder, the collision tossing him like a rag doll onto the dirt.

Finding himself on his back staring at the sky, Glyph realized several of his ribs had cracked, his shoulder was shattered and he could not feel his right arm. His sword lay several feet away. He shifted his body to try to and grab it, but waves of pain coursed through his arm and chest. Before he could try again, Drathus pinned him to the earth with his massive foot, and bent down to look Glyph in the eye.

“Hmm, if Ishea is anything like you, I will be ruling this world by tomorrow.” Drathus gloated, absently touching the small scar on its face.

Glyph tried to struggle but it was pointless, he was trapped. The anger he felt grow inside him at the mention of Ishea’s name, made him boil.

“Leave her out of this!” Glyph hissed, as his facial muscles tightened and contorted with rage.

“You need not worry, I will kill her quickly.” Drathus paused, grinning. “After I have my way with her.”

Glyph closed his eyes, and when he reopened them, they were glowing bright white. Drathus appeared shocked, and cocked his fist back to crush Glyph’s head, but it was too late. A domed shield surrounded Glyph, but this time it was white. The clear white energy field expanded quickly, lifting the Demon Lord’s foot away from his body. Drathus pounded on the shield several times, but Glyph was only aware of his bones knitting themselves back together. Standing on autopilot, Glyph felt like he was no longer in control, but was at the same time. With a thought, he sent Drathus flying off like a rocket to the far wall of The Pass, its limbs flailing about along the way.

Wind began to swirl around Glyph, slowly lifting him into the air, and carrying him in a long graceful arc to where Drathus lay against the rock face. Looking up, the demon could see the sheer hatred on Glyph’s face, and laughed.

“You will not defeat me!” Drathus screamed, trying to get to its feet.

“I beg to differ.” Glyph said calmly, but his words rang with thunderous overtones. Glyph opened his left hand toward Drathus as an unseen force pinned the demon to the rock wall. The demon’s eyes grew wide with terror, as he found he could no longer move. Glyph watched him struggle for several long seconds, taking it all in.

“Release me!” Drathus yelled in desperation.

Glyph laughed over the roar of the gale force winds now blowing around them. Drathus remained silent.

“Eat shit and die Mother Fucker!” Glyph yelled, took several steps back, and threw his arms skyward.

Suddenly, the earth shook, and the face of the mountain fractured. A massive piece of the cliff broke away, and slid down, crushing Drathus, burying it deep within the rubble. Glyph dropped to his knees in front of the pile, his eyes returned to normal, and he began to weep. His vision blurred for a moment, then refocused. He knelt there for what seemed like an eternity before hearing the sound of horses racing toward him. Struggling to look up, he could see Ishea and Toban dismounting and moving closer. Glyph let out a long sigh, and forced himself to stand.

“You did it, Glyph!” Ishea exclaimed, embracing him.

Glyph nearly fell over, but managed to stay standing.

“What happened to Drathus?” He heard Toban ask.

Turning, he put his arm around Ishea and saw Toban retrieve his dropped sword. Toban was smiling like a proud father as he handed it to Glyph. Glyph sheathed the weapon with his free hand and indicated the massive pile of rocks beside them.

“I dropped the side of that mountain on his ass!” Glyph told him, grinning.

Toban laughed. “Thank the gods you are alright.”

“Did you ever have a doubt?” Glyph asked jokingly, the release of pent up stress making him feel giddy.

“Never.” Toban replied, and helped Glyph walk back towards the horses.

“Go give the order, Toban. Tell the troops that Drathus is dead, and it is time to hunt some Grull.” Ishea said, beaming.

“It will be my pleasure.” Toban replied, and leaped onto his horse and galloped off.

“I did it, Ishea. It still doesn’t seem real.”

“Are you injured at all?” She asked, looking him over.

“I don’t think so, just exhausted. I think I may have healed myself.”

“You did what?” Ishea asked, getting that weird look on her face again.

Without warning the ground suddenly lurched, and the rubble over Drathus blasted outward, like some giant explosion had just occurred. As Glyph and Ishea started to duck, a large chunk of rock flew into Ishea, knocking her to the ground. Jumping down to shield her body from the falling rock, Glyph took several hits to his back and legs. He looked up to see what was happening, but too much dust still hung in the air to see anything. He quickly checked Ishea over for injuries, and found she was bleeding from her head, unconscious. She still breathed normally, though, and otherwise appeared to be okay.

Standing, he strained to see through the dust cloud, and had just decided to move forward to check things out, when a large fist drove into his body, sending him to the ground ten feet away.  Glyph spat out a mouthful of blood and rolled onto his side. Grabbing a nearby rock, he dragged himself upright. A light wind began to clear the dust in the canyon, and Glyph could make out the shape of the Demon Lord crouching over Ishea. Glyph summoned his long bow. As it appeared in his hand he drew its cord back, an ice arrow forming. He took aim and released. The arrow punctured Drathus’s side and melted instantly, leaving a bloody hole behind.

Screaming, Drathus turned its attention back to Glyph, who was firing off more arrows. Drathus pounced onto Glyph with cat-like precision, knocking him to the ground again. Glyph seethed under his attacker’s weight, his anger growing hotter by the second. Drathus wasn’t fooling around, and started to pummel Glyph with its giant calloused hands. It suddenly stopped its attack when it heard the sound of horses and soldiers pouring down the canyon towards him. Drathus kicked Glyph to the side, bloodied and beaten, then stepped over to Ishea once more to finish her off.

Glyph barely heard someone scream “attack!” over the sound of his heartbeat inside his skull.

Rolling onto his chest, Glyph pushed himself up onto his knees and stared out through bloody eyes at Drathus, who wrapped his fingers around Ishea’s neck, choking the life from her. Suddenly, Glyph’s eye color flipped to bright white, and he stood up.

STOP!” Glyph shouted, like a god from the heavens.

Drathus pulled its hand away from Ishea and spun to face Glyph. Ishea coughed and gasped for air, regaining consciousness. She caught a glimpse of Glyph covered in a white aura, with white eyes, and found herself unable to look away. Then, to her amazement, she watched as Drathus actually leapt away from Glyph, and started to run. With a wave of Glyph’s hand, a powerful unseen force flattened the demon to the ground. In an extreme effort, Glyph surrounded Drathus with his white translucent glow, and lifted him high into the air. Glyph spun quickly, slamming the demon’s body with tremendous force against the side of the rock face, spread-eagled, back to the wall, about half way to the top, for all to see.

The soldiers, led by Toban, Kahula, and Covat, had all stopped about fifty feet back, and were now transfixed by the scene unfolding before them. Ishea was in shock at the immense display of Glyph’s power, as she too could not take her eyes away.

“You…will…die!” Glyph’s voice boomed through The Pass.

His face contorting with rage and concentration, Glyph began to stretch the Demon Lord’s limbs, further and further apart from each other, and from its body at the same time. Drathus began to scream relentlessly, as its taut skin began to separate slowly from its legs and arms as they were being torn from its body. After the skin peeled back at its hips and shoulders, the muscles began to tear, and the wet snap of ripping sinew filled the air. Glyph dropped down to his knees; sweat pouring down his face and back. Then with an echoing crack, Drathus’s left arm was yanked from its socket, and flew out of the canyon and disappeared. A steady flow of black blood ran from the hole like someone turned on a faucet. Next went its right arm, flying away so fast you could barely see it. Drathus howled in agony, and began to beg and plead for its life, in between the screams of wicked torment. Finally the last of its leg muscle gave way, and both legs made a sucking, pop sound, as they were extracted from its hips in a storm of spewing black plasma, and shot down onto the canyon floor to be crushed into a thin film of sludge, faster than you could blink. Blood streamed out like a hose from Drathus’s gaping, gory wounds as Glyph released his hold, and the dying, limbless torso dropped in slow motion, landing with a sickening thud.

The white aura vanished and Glyph’s eyes returned to normal. Ishea rushed to his side to keep him from falling over as he teetered from side to side. A thunderous cheer rose skyward from the thousands of soldiers in The Pass who had witnessed the event. Toban rode up beside Ishea, and dismounted. Glyph’s eyes blurred and then refocused.

“What is happening to him?” he heard Toban ask.

“I do not know.” Ishea replied.

She looked over to where Drathus lay, and then back at Glyph.

“It is the curse, it has somehow linked him to Drathus.” Ishea suddenly realized.

Glyph’s eyes blurred again, and everything went transparent for a few moments. When his eyes focused again, Glyph saw Ishea staring back at him. He smiled, and as he opened his mouth to tell her how beautiful she was, the air was sucked away. The familiar darkness fell over him, as his mind screamed “No!” But it was too late. The curse was broken as Drathus exhaled his last breath, sending Glyph back to the world from whence he came.

The Hour – Chapter 20

Chapter 20

 

Glyph was lying down, but he wasn’t sure where. He slowly opened his eyes, but could see nothing. He could barely feel his arms, so he tried lifting them.  They responded sluggishly, and almost immediately hit a metal ceiling.  He crossed his arms, and his flesh was clammy, and cold.  He spread his legs, and found metal walls.

‘I’m in… a coffin? A metal coffin?’ He thought, but his mind was too fuzzy to figure out why. A word drifted up into his consciousness.

‘Hypothermia… I’m freezing to death.’ Glyph heard himself thinking.

‘I’m still breathing. I can hear it. What was it…’ He struggled to pull up an old memory from the darkness.

‘Breathing. That survival show on TV.’ A narrator’s voice followed up in his mind. ‘Slow deep breaths warm you up. Breathe slowly in for eight seconds, hold it for 8 seconds, breath out for eight seconds, and hold it exhaled for eight seconds.’

It sounded like a lot of work to Glyph. ‘Easier just to lay here.’ Another memory surfaced, a man in a robe being burnt to a cinder in front of him.

“Osirus…” Glyph whispered the name through barely parted lips.

Anger. Glyph took a deep, slow breath, and held it. After a while, he let it out. He took another deep breath, and another. As the fog cleared from his brain, he started counting each part of his breathing, from one to eight.

Three more deep breaths later, and Glyph’s teeth started chattering. He reached his arm over the top of his head, and found a wall above it. He pushed the wall with the arm, sliding his body towards his feet until they hit another wall.

‘It’s so damn cold in here. Like a refrigerator.’ And suddenly Glyph knew where he was. On a slab. In the morgue. He tried to remember if corpses were stored feet-first or head-first in the refrigerated storage room, but couldn’t. He started kicking the wall below his feet, alternating with banging the wall above his head with his arm.

Kick, kick, kick. Bang, bang, bang. Repeat. At least it was warming him up a bit, though his body was still mostly numb. Light poured in from above his head, and his body slid out into a brightly lit room. Glyph moved his arm over his eyes.

“Son of a bitch!” He heard a male voice yell, followed by “Code blue in the Morgue. Code blue in the Morgue!”

As his eyes adjusted, he looked around and saw a man in green hospital scrubs with a phone in his hand. The man stared at Glyph like he’d seen a ghost. Glyph focused in on his eyes, just to be sure.

“Code blue in the Morgue.” He heard a female voice say over some speakers in the ceiling. Glyph tried to say ‘cold’, but couldn’t get his throat to make a sound. He tried again.

“C-cold.” He wheezed.

“I’m Rick, the orderly. Help’s on the way.” The man in the scrubs told him, while pulling several sheets from a shelf. “They’re never going to believe this one. You were so dead.” He told Glyph as he shook open the sheets and covered his body in several layers. Glyph would have been thankful if he still wasn’t lying naked on a metal tray.

“Death-like trance. One b-b-beat per minute.” Glyph lied in a half-hearted attempt at explaining his re-animation.

A man in a white jacket burst through the door on the other side of the room, towing a cart full of equipment. The orderly grabbed the chart from the top of the tray and handed it to the man in the white jacket, then took a small scissor from his pocket and snipped a tag from Glyph’s toe.

“He was in a death-like trance. His heartbeat was one per minute.” The orderly told the man in the white jacket, who was checking Glyph’s neck. He said something about ‘core body temperature’, and placed a mask over Glyph’s mouth and nose. His vision shrank to a pinhole, and everything went dark.

 

Glyph was lying down. Again. He opened his eyes expecting to be in a refrigerated metal box, but found himself in a hospital room. He was hooked to several monitors, and had an IV attached to his arm. A large heat lamp glowed from a frame above him. No one else was around, so he pulled out the IV needle and started unhooking the sensors; an alarm on the machine went off.

“Damn! Guess they know I’m awake.” Glyph swore.

He slid off the bed, grabbed the IV bag, and ripped the tube out of the base of it. Discarding the bag, he jumped behind the door, and looped the tubing around each hand. The door opened quickly and a nurse ran in. She stopped a few feet away from the bed, and gawked in astonishment. Glyph pushed the door closed with the weight of his body, as he lunged forward. Wrapping the tube around her neck, he cinched it tight, cutting off her airway. Pulling her backwards, toward the floor, he looked into her eyes; they were normal.

“I’ll take this off, if you promise not to scream.” Glyph spoke clearly into her ear.

She nodded, and Glyph began to loosen his hold. Spinning her around, he held his finger up to his lips, and let her go. The woman scooted back several feet and rubbed her neck.

“I’m only going to say this once, so listen carefully. If you make a sound, I’ll kill you before help arrives so don’t even think about it. In a few minutes, all hell is going to break loose, and people are going to try to kill me. You may not believe me now, but you will. You’ll know them because their eyes will be solid black. Look for it.” Glyph informed the nurse as he kicked the wheels off the IV stand and flipped it around like a staff. Reaching behind the machine, he ripped the plugs out of the wall, silencing the monitor alarm. “What I need to know is, can I count on you not to do anything stupid in the meantime?”

The nurse just stared at him. It was obvious to Glyph she thought he was a lunatic, but she hadn’t screamed yet, so he gave her the benefit of the doubt.

“Where are my clothes?” He demanded.

The nurse pointed to a cabinet on the wall behind him. Keeping one eye on the woman, he backed over and found some staff clothing. The thought of killing people while wearing a hospital gown just didn’t appeal to him for some reason. He quickly pulled on some green baggy pants and a smock. ‘Better than nothing.’ he thought. Glyph checked his watch, only to find it was no longer there.

“Give me your watch.” Glyph said, noticing the one on the woman’s wrist.

She reached up, undid the clasp, and tossed it to him. ‘Twelve minutes.’ He thought. ‘Could it have only been that long?’ He wondered and placed the time piece in his shirt pocket.

The door suddenly burst open to reveal a security guard, his gun drawn and his eyes black. Glyph thrust the IV pole at the weapon, turning it just as the gun fired. Rushing in on the man, Glyph tackled him to the ground as they slid out into the hall. Rolling down the arm holding the gun, Glyph pinned the guard’s hand to the ground. Glyph swung his leg up and kneed the guy hard in the face, as he pried the weapon from the man’s hand. The guard  struggled harder as Glyph shifted his weight up onto his knee, driving it deep into the neck of his attacker. Glyph glanced around as the guard flopped about like a fish out of water. As he looked over his shoulder, he saw a female patient running down the hall towards him. Glyph raised the gun and shot her in the head. Her brains hit the wall, and she stumbled, her legs going limp in mid-stride. She hit the carpet face first and slid several feet with her legs in the air.

“That’s what I’m talkin’ about!” Glyph shouted in glee.

He eyed up the guard turning blue under his knee, then pounded his skull with the butt end of the pistol until it cracked. He stood up and straightened his smock. It was early morning, and luckily there weren’t a whole lot of people milling about.

A second officer jumped out of an adjoining corridor, pointing his gun at Glyph.

“Freeze!” he shouted.

Glyph turned around and stared at the man.

“Drop the weapon!” he ordered.

“Now, you know I can’t do that.” Glyph replied.

The guard looked confused “What?”

“Deep down you know, listen to what you feel.”

“Huh?” the guard said.

“I can’t put the gun down, people are trying to kill me.”

As if on cue, the elevator down the hall near the nurses’ station opened. It must have been the day shift arriving, as two orderlies and three nurses stepped into the room. One of the orderlies and one of the nurses broke into a run and headed for Glyph as the other three stood in shock at the sight in the hallway. Glyph looked back at the cop.

“You’re going to have to decide which side you’re on, real soon.” Glyph said, nodding towards the two running at him down the hall.

Glyph began to back down the hall toward the guard.

“They’re going to try to kill me. Are you going to let that happen? I need to know, and I need to know now!”

The officer still said nothing, so Glyph raised the gun and shot off two more rounds sending the two in the hall to the floor. He looked back at the guard then at the three by the door who were screaming their heads off. He saw another nurse look around the corner at the end of the hall. Sweat beaded up on his forehead as they all just stared at each other for several seconds. Glyph was suddenly getting a bad feeling about this. ‘Why so many “good” people? Why were they listening to him?’ Glyph wondered.

The elevator door opened again and five possessed people came rushing out directly at Glyph. This was about to get ugly. Glyph opened fire, dropping four of them, as he ran out of bullets. Blood was flying everywhere as the fifth man, with a cast on his left arm, tried to jump past the falling bodies. Dropping the clip to the ground, Glyph reached toward the dead guard on the floor. As he located a spare clip, a shot rang out. Glancing up, Glyph saw the approaching assailant’s head exploding in mid-stride, and felt the now-familiar sensation of warm blood splatter on his face. The attacker flew against the wall a few feet away, chunks of brain sliding onto his shoulder.

“Nice shot!” Glyph commented.

The security guard stood there, still pointing his gun at the dead body, and nodded.

“How many entrances to this floor?” Glyph shouted, as he slapped the clip into the gun and chambered the first round.

“There’s stairs back down that hall.” The nurse he had first met told him, now standing in the doorway.

“That, and the elevator. That’s it.” The guard said, breathing heavily.

Glyph walked back into his room, picked up the IV stand, and ran out past the nurse and the officer toward the stairs. He sidestepped a patient in a wheel chair who was trying to lunge at him, and reached the stairs just as the door opened. He thrust the stand end-first into a man’s gut as he stepped through the door. As he doubled over, Glyph spun the stand and cracked the man on the back of the head. Stomp-kicking the guy into the far wall, Glyph jammed the stand into the handle of the door. Walking over to the man he had just kicked, Glyph looked down at his face; the eyes were black. He heard someone pulling on the door to the stairs as he pistol-whipped the man in the face several times.

Walking back up the hall, he stepped over the cripple, who was still flailing his arms trying to get at Glyph.

“You’re a sick fuck, Drathus!” Glyph shouted, snatching up the wheel chair.

Swinging the whole apparatus over his head, Glyph crushed the man’s cranium in one blow.

Gunshots rang out down the hall, and Glyph rounded the corner to see four more evil fuckers coming at him. Stopping, Glyph took aim and blew holes in two of them, and the guard shot the other ones. The floor was becoming slick with blood.

“Make sure they’re dead!” Glyph shouted, as he made his way towards the nurses’ station and the elevator. He needed to stop that damn elevator.

The nurse who had helped him before jumped out of a door and began to tie up one of the men the guard shot, who was still alive.

“What are you doing?” Glyph asked as he stopped beside where she knelt. The nurse looked up at him with a pleading expression. “I said to kill him.”

“What difference does it make? He’s bleeding out from the bullet wound, he’ll be dead in a few minutes anyway.” The nurse replied as she struggled to tape the possessed man’s hands together.

For a second Glyph pondered putting a bullet into both their heads, but reconsidered. It would be a waste of good bullets. He cast a glance over his shoulder at the guard, who locked eyes with Glyph for a moment before he kicked another one in the windpipe.

Glyph reached the elevator as the door slid open. He shot one woman who leapt for him, but was hit by the man behind her and shoved against the main desk. The man got Glyph in a bear hug, which pinned his pistol arm to his side. The Guard fired several shots into the group pouring out of the elevator as Glyph grabbed a pen off the counter with his free hand and drove it deep into his attacker’s temple. The man went limp as another one slammed into Glyph, sending them both over the desk into the nurses’ area. Glyph pushed the man off him as they hit the ground. The possessed man spun and lunged, quickly wrapping his hands around Glyph’s throat. Glyph rolled on top of the man and whacked him in the head with his gun. Reaching up, Glyph grabbed the base of a CRT computer monitor sitting on the desk, and yanked it off onto the man’s head, flattening it like a pancake. The man’s arms went limp as an expanding pool of gore formed around the screen. Glyph stood up.

The Guard was standing over some of the bodies; the other nurses had fled. The door to the elevator was trying to close, but the body of the woman he had shot was lying across the threshold, keeping it from closing. Glyph rubbed his neck and cleared his throat a few times. He was safe for the moment.

“What’s your name?” Glyph asked the guard.

“Chuck.” He replied.

“Well Chuck, I owe you my thanks.”

The nurse walked slowly up the hall, and entered the nurses’ station.

“And what name do you go by?” Glyph asked her.

“Jen, call me Jen.” She responded, leaning up against the wall.

“Thank you, Jen.”

“What’s happening, why are they trying to kill you?” She asked him.

“They’re evil, at least on some level. The rest is a bit complicated.” Glyph responded.

Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out her watch and checked it.

“Twenty six minutes. This isn’t over by a long shot. What else you got?” He asked Chuck.

“What’re you talking about?”

“Weapons! What else do you have?”

“I got a night stick and some mace.”

“Throw me the mace.” Glyph told him.

Chuck pulled out the mace and threw it to him. Glyph tossed it to Jen.

“Grab anything you might be able to use as a weapon.” Glyph said to her. “Chuck, I need you to go back to your partner and retrieve any ammunition I missed, and grab his mace and nightstick too.”

Jen turned and bolted down the hallway. Chuck did the same in the opposite direction. It was so nice to have help. Glyph scanned the area; there was nothing of much worth, as there weren’t too many weapons in a hospital. He walked over to the elevator door, just as Chuck came back into the room.

“Here.” he said.

Glyph took the stick out of Chuck’s hand and swung it back and forth a few times.

“Hold on to the mace.” Glyph said to him.

A sudden crash down the hall made them both jump. It was followed by the sounds of footsteps, lots of them. They must have gotten through the stairway door.

“Alright Jen, let’s go!” Glyph screamed down the hallway.

Chuck pushed back the elevator door, put one foot inside, and leaned against the side frame, keeping it open. Reaching down, Glyph grabbed the body of the woman and pulled her out of the opening.

“Right now, Jen! Right now!” Glyph hollered down the hall, just as the first of about a dozen black-eyed killers swept around the corner. Several slipped on the slick wet floor, but the rest kept coming. Glyph pulled up his gun as Chuck burped off several rounds into the mass of bodies. The first three dropped and were promptly trampled by the others. Glyph shot several times, stripping off another layer of red-stained bodies, as Jen leapt from a side room and came flying down the hall. Glyph stepped into the elevator and continued to fire. As Jen dove in past Glyph, the possessed people were nearly on top of them. Chuck leapt back and the door began to close, but not before two evil guys in suits squeezed in. Chuck wrestled with the one; the other had fallen into Glyph as the two doors met. Jen reached over and slapped the buttons. The elevator started going down. Glyph’s attacker rabbit-punched him in the face. Stars lit up Glyph’s vision as he twisted his leg and knocked his attacker off balance, who then fell into Chuck and smashed him into the wall. Glyph kicked up and hit the other one in the groin; as he doubled over, Jen reached up and jammed a syringe into his backside, pumping him full of something. He turned as if to smack Jen, and then fell into the wall. Glyph jumped to his feet, snatched the guy off of Chuck and pinned him to the wall. Swinging his gun in barrel-first towards the evil fucker’s head, he pulled the trigger on impact. Letting the dead body drop to the floor, he stuffed the gun in his pants and turned back toward the one Jen had stuck.

“What was that shit?” Glyph inquired.

“Lorazepam.”

“Is he alive?” Glyph questioned her.

“Yes” She replied. “He’s just unconscious.”

“Good.” Glyph said and began to laugh. “Hit the emergency stop.” He ordered.

Jen jabbed at the button and the lift stopped.

Glyph stepped over to the unconscious body, and wailed on its face repeatedly; stopping only after it took on the appearance of red Jell-O.

Standing up straight, Glyph rolled his head once around clockwise, then rolled his shoulders a few times, like he was getting ready for a work out. Glyph stepped over to the control panel.

“Which floor has the least amount of people?” Glyph asked them.

“The roof, or the sub-basement.” Chuck said shakily.

“You alright dude?”

“Yeah, yeah, I think so.”

“Just stay cool, we’ll get through this.” Glyph told him, checking the time.

“Thirty seven minutes, damn. I was hoping fifty-something.”

Pushing the sub-basement button, Glyph pulled the E-stop and the elevator started to descend once more. Stepping to the back, Glyph raised his gun and pointed it directly at the crack in the door. The lift slowed to a stop, as Glyph realized they had only gone to the first floor.

“Quick, hit the close door button, now, now!” Glyph shouted, as the doors started to part. Glyph fired five more rounds into the evil hordes as they tried to claw their way in. As he shot off his last round, Chuck began to fire. The doors started to close, but stopped on one of the evil fucker’s heads, and reversed direction. Jen pushed at the button over and over, as Glyph pulled his billy club and began to smash the fingers of the people holding the door open. Then he thrust the stick into the man’s head that was in the way, and the door finally closed, and they descended toward the sub-basement.

Glyph stretched and yawned, rubbed his aching nose a little, and then steeled himself, and faced the door opening once more.

“You got anymore bullets, Chuck?”

“I got about three left.” Chuck answered

“Make sure they count.” Glyph shot back, as they slowed again to a stop, and the doors began to part.

A man in a maintenance uniform rushed in, a pipe wrench raised above his head. Chuck leapt forward and caught the man’s arm. Glyph ducked and hit him square in the ribs with the nightstick, baseball style, and relished at the sound of the breaking bones. Side stepping around their attacker, Glyph pummeled him on the back of his head and neck until he collapsed at Chuck’s feet. Turning, Glyph beat on the control panel several times until it cracked and pieces of circuit board spewed out. Then, with Chuck’s help, they kicked the corpse into the door opening, just to be certain it couldn’t be used again.

“Nobody’s going to follow us down this way.” Glyph commented as they cautiously stepped out of the elevator.

The corridor turned and Glyph peeked out into another hallway. Jen stood and waited, as Glyph and Chuck stepped out slowly.

“So far, so good.” Glyph said as they moved down the hall.

Jen suddenly let out a yell, and Glyph and Chuck turned to see another maintenance guy grab Jen from behind. She jabbed another syringe into his thigh, but the man twisted her neck grotesquely, and she fell limp to the floor. The man took two more steps and fell at Glyph’s feet. Glyph stomped the man’s head into the concrete, then fell on him, clubbing him relentlessly.

Glyph started to laugh again as he pulled himself up off the mutilated body.

“Holy shit!” Chuck said excitedly, taking several steps back from Glyph, who was now covered in blood.

Glyph glanced over at Chuck and smiled “What’s up, Chuck?”

“She’s…she’s…” Chuck stammered.

“Dead. Yeah, that sort of happens… a lot. You’ll get used to it.” Glyph interjected. He stooped to pick up the can of pepper spray she dropped, and continued on down the hall. “Besides, you already killed at least half a dozen people yourself, remember?”

“But she was one of us!” Chuck replied, trying to get a grip on himself.

“No, she was one of you, she was only part of me. I don’t like it myself, but that’s life.”

They moved silently down the hall, passing rows of doors on either side of them.

“Are there stairs coming down here?” Glyph asked.

“They’re up around this corner. Shit! There’s a service elevator too, over by the wash rooms!” Chuck replied.

They got to the corner and cautiously peeked around. No one was there, yet. He checked the watch again. Forty-six minutes.

“Where’s the washroom?” Glyph asked Chuck

“Over there.” Chuck pointed down the hall to his right. “Through those double doors.”

Glyph ran over and pushed the door open. There were several giant washing machines running, and what looked like dryers along the wall.

“C’mon.” Glyph nodded.

Chuck crossed the hall and they entered the washroom. It resembled a laundromat, only with giant machines that they couldn’t see over. They went to the left of the first set of machines. Glyph ducked around first, and was greeted by a laundry cart slamming into him at high speed. Glyph was momentarily lifted from the ground and knocked to one side, as a woman jumped onto him and scratched at his face and neck. Struggling to get her off him, Glyph raised the can of mace to within inches of her face and let it fly. She screamed and reached for her eyes, as Glyph pivoted and shoved the evil bitch into the wall. Scrambling to his feet, Glyph saw Chuck shoot three more as they rounded the corner. Glyph swung down with the nightstick, catching the howling woman’s head between his club and the wall, popping it like a grape. The sound of it echoed through the room, as gray matter, and plasma oozed out of her skull like maple syrup.

Pushing the cart aside, they headed for the back of the large room. Glyph could see the service elevator, and the doors were open. He ran towards the door to make sure it didn’t close. As he got to it, two orderlies jumped him and forced him to the ground. He bludgeoned one in the head and the orderly rolled off him; the other punched him in the ribs twice before Chuck’s stick intersected with the orderly’s head. Glyph rolled over onto the one he had hit, jammed the nightstick into his mouth, and pushed upward using the top teeth as a lever. The man’s jaw cracked, and several bottom teeth pelted Glyph in the chest. Sliding the stick across the man’s neck, he bore down with his weight until he crushed the windpipe. Glyph jumped up into the elevator and turned to see Chuck being dragged to the ground and beaten. He casually kicked the dead body of his attacker out into the room, stepped back into the elevator, and hit a button. The doors closed to the sound of Chuck’s shrieks.

Glyph sighed, and after rising up a floor or so, hit the E-stop. The lift came to a halt, and he checked Jen’s watch. ‘Fifty-five minutes’, Glyph chuckled to himself, coughed a few times and slid down the wall into a sitting position. His knee was swelling up rather quickly from the impact with the cart, and he was pretty sure he had a few broken ribs. He sat there breathing heavily for a few minutes, before he heard muffled voices coming through the door.

“C’mon, damn it! A few more minutes!” Glyph said out loud.

He checked the watch again ‘Fifty-eight minutes’.

At fifty-nine minutes the door began to shake like someone was prying it open. Reaching up, he pulled out the E-stop, and sent the car to the top floor. It began to move slowly upward, and Glyph watched the lights as they moved from floor to floor. Before reaching the top floor, he felt the sudden whoosh of air escape around him, and he smiled broadly, as darkness filled his vision.

The Hour – Chapter 19

Chapter 19

 

Ishea knelt over Lukret’s body, serenely applying her healing powers to his chest. The Demon pounded the blue-tinged domed shield she had placed above them repeatedly with his enormous hammer, each strike exploding in a shower of blue sparks as it hit. Running at the Demon, Glyph reached out with his mind, and as if an invisible fist had connected, the Demon’s head flew hard to one side as several teeth exited its mouth. Ishea glanced up for a moment, then returned to her work. The Demon spun and hurled a fireball at Glyph and his companions. Glyph raised his sword and stood his ground, squinting his eyes slightly as the fire was sucked into the sword like a vacuum, shooting glowing, sparkling, embers in every direction. The Demon was momentarily taken aback as he stared at the scene.

“I see you like fire, how about ice?” Glyph yelled at the towering creature of evil.

Ice began to form instantaneously around the Demon’s feet, locking them in place up to its knees. The surrounding Grull appeared stunned and then began to fall back, as they weren’t used to seeing their demon masters challenged. Toban ran toward Ishea and Lukret. The Demon screamed and swung its hammer, missing Glyph by a few inches. Glyph felt the breeze fly past him, but knew he was out of range for the moment. Glyph watched in fascination as steam boiled out from around the demon’s legs. The ice appeared to do more than just hold the demon in place, it was also burning the creature like acid.

“Osirus, give me your staff!” Glyph said, sheathing his sword.

Looking baffled, Osirus surrendered his staff to Glyph. As the staff entered into Glyph’s grasp it bent and morphed into a long bow. Quickly pulling back on the string, an ice arrow appeared in the bow and Glyph let it loose, guiding the arrow into the face of the Demon. The creature howled as the ice arrow struck and began to melt a hole in its cheek. The Demon hit the ice that enclosed its legs with the war hammer, causing a huge chunk to break away and slide quickly into Glyph, knocking him to the ground.

Wrenching one of its legs loose from the broken ice, the Demon pulled its free arm back, then pushed it forward and launched a bolt of lightning at Glyph. Osirus, who had narrowly missed the ice chunk, anticipated the demon’s attack and flung his body into the path of the bolt. The monk was promptly fried into a smoldering heap of blackened flesh that fell at Glyph’s feet.

“Damn You!” Glyph shouted, regaining his feet. He was exhausted, but the sight of Osirus’ lifeless body made him boil with anger and hatred. Glyph felt the darkness growing exponentially within him, feeding his strength.

The Demon swung its hammer at the steaming ice surrounding its left leg, sending another enormous piece of ice Glyph’s way. Glyph flipped the bow onto his shoulder, and magically diverted the ice chunk away with a wave of his hand. Unsheathing his sword, Glyph approached the Demon as it pulled its leg free of the ice pile.

“You just fucked with the wrong man!” Glyph screamed.

The Demon laughed, and pulled the fuming ice arrow from its cheek. Then it swung the hammer straight down towards Glyph’s head.

“Bounce!” Glyph yelled, as he waved his hand and cringed. The demon’s giant hammer hit the energy shield that appeared above Glyph’s body and bounced back with double the force toward the demon, impacting with its right horn and breaking it off at the base. The Demon roared with rage as it staggered backwards. Rushing forward, Glyph hacked the demon off at the knees, and watched gleefully as the writhing torso dropped onto, and crushed, several Grull. Glyph charged toward the head of the fallen creature.

“This is less than you deserve.” Glyph bent and spoke into its ear. Grasping its remaining horn, Glyph concentrated for a moment. A bluish light covered his hand and with a firm twist he snapped the horn off at the base. The demon screamed in anguish, tried to grab at Glyph, and was rewarded with a severed hand. Glyph flipped the horn point down, and stabbed it into the howling creature’s neck. Then he drove it home, pushing the horn deeper with his own body weight. Black blood spewed out onto Glyph’s face, as he grinned and gleefully twisted the horn back and forth. Taking a step back, he licked the demon’s blood off his lips, then kicked it in the face repeatedly. As the Demon died, Glyph noticed Toban and several other Legionnaires lift Lukret onto a stretcher and move him back from the front line. A few monks popped up to protect Glyph as he stood there, enraged, wild, and dripping with blood. Then he saw Ishea staring at him about five meters away. Her hair was mussed, and her face was stained with dirt and blood splatter. They locked eyes, and he heard her voice call his name within his own mind, and he slowly began to calm down. He could read the worry on her face, as she walked closer to him.

“There are more demons to fight!” He shouted.

“Look around you, Glyph.” she pronounced.

Glyph began to take in the scene of utter destruction around him, bodies piled on top of bodies, man and beast alike. He could hear the sounds of dying men, and the eerie bleating cries of wounded and dying Grull.

“The Grull are retreating into The Pass. The sun is growing low in the sky. The fight is done, at least for now.”

“But the Demons…” Glyph said confused “I only took out three.”

“And I killed two.” Ishea replied. “Without the Demons to drive them, the ranks of Grull collapsed and we sent them running.”

He turned and watched several Barjon soldiers, still on horseback, riding down the Grull as they fled. “But there were seven, where are the other two?”

“If there are two left, they have either been slain, or are still on the other side of The Pass.”

“They’re running?”

“Yes Glyph.” Ishea said looking concerned again.

Glyph sheathed his sword, and they began to limp back across the field, when his eyes suddenly widened, and his body stiffened.

“Rokka! We have to warn Rokka!” he barked at Ishea, and began to run as fast as his weary body could go.

Glyph hadn’t gone far when he came across a lone horse milling about on the battlefield. As he got closer his hope was confirmed; it was O’dista. He climbed up onto the stallion, galloped back a little ways, swung Ishea up and behind him in the saddle, and made for the encampment.

Upon entering his tent, Glyph sat at the small table and Ishea withdrew the Divinare crystal and sat it on the table. Glyph wasted no time as he placed his hands upon it, and began to search out Rokka. It was difficult at first. His mind was jumbled with thoughts and recent memories of the battle. The anger and resentment he felt toward the enemy also affected the crystal’s operation. As his frustration deepened, Ishea physically pulled his hands from the crystal.

“You must relax. The crystal does not respond to strong emotions or conflict. Try to take some deep breaths.” Ishea told him.

Glyph huffed and puffed several times. “It isn’t working. I can’t calm down, Rokka and his men are in danger. I have to warn him!”

Ishea took his hand in hers, then placed her other hand across Glyph’s forehead, and in an eerie voice whispered, “RELAX”. Instantly, Glyph could feel the tension in his muscles relax and his worries fade. When his breathing became slow and even, she released her hold on him. He felt surprisingly calm and collected, and he knew what he had to do as he scooted closer to the table.

He reached out and placed his hands to the Divinare once more. Glyph found himself peering down on the wastelands near the mountains. As he got closer, he saw a fierce battle between the Delturan soldiers and several legions of Grull. He moved in closer and saw flashes of lightning crisscrossing the desert. He managed to locate Rokka as the King fought alongside several of his soldiers. They were outnumbered, and Glyph had a suspicion that the lightning was coming from his missing two demons.

Glyph appeared about ten feet from Rokka, startling both factions momentarily. Rokka was the first to react, braining a stunned Grull, and lopping the head off another. His soldiers quickly followed suit, attacking while the herd-minded Grull decided whether Glyph was a threat.

“Grull are bad enough.” Rokka said, parrying a blow while kicking another beast in the gut. “You did not say anything about demons!” Rokka belied while slicing a Grull across the chest.

“What happened?” Glyph asked, as he moved amongst the attacking Grull like an apparition. His insubstantial image caused some of them to panic and flee.

“We attacked several hours ago. At first, we slaughtered them like butchers, and took out an outpost near the mountains.” Rokka spun and rammed his blade through the middle of the nearest Grull. “When we got closer to The Pass, we were met with heavy resistance, and now we are retreating, without much luck I might add.”

“And the demons?” Glyph asked, his blue form shimmering.

“I have seen only two. The old man killed one; I guess he must be doing something right.” Rokka ducked and quickly parried another blow. “He is keeping the other one occupied now.”

“Old man? What old man?”

“We found him wandering in the desert. He said his name was Miatsu. I let him tag along, but it was not until I saw him in action …” Rokka dodged an axe swing, and kicked the leg out from under his attacker. “… that I realized who he was.” He finished.

“Miatsu?” Glyph repeated.

Glyph was going to ask Rokka who ‘Miatsu’ was, when a large demon came flailing through the air, crushing several Grull and one of Rokka’s men as it landed on its back and slid to where he was standing. It looked up at Glyph and spat at his incandescent image. Glyph instinctively jumped back, as Rokka leapt forward, sticking the fiend in the leg. The demon swatted Rokka to the ground with the back of its enormous hand as it stood up. A lightning bolt flew out of the Demon’s other hand and electrocuted several advancing soldiers. Glyph could see Rokka was starting to get onto his feet, but felt helpless as the demon kicked the Delturan king back to the ground. As the evil creature reared back its fist to deliver a deathblow to Rokka, Glyph drew his sword and ran towards the demon out of shear desperation to save Rokka’s life. As the fist came down, Glyph’s sword changed from the normal incandescent blue of the crystal’s image to red. He threw the blade up to block the swing, and amputated the Demon’s arm just below the elbow. The arm spun lifelessly into the sand. Glyph gazed down at his own arms, realizing they were solid as was the rest of him. He still glowed blue but the shimmering was gone. The Demon howled and scurried backwards away from Glyph, shaking its stumpy limb wildly as black blood splashed everywhere. As it did, an old man with a gnarled staff suddenly appeared. He pulled his hood down behind his head and stared at Glyph in shock. Then, as if suddenly remembering what he was doing, he let loose a storm of lightning upon the Demon. As the Demon shook from the electricity, Glyph lunged forward and sliced through the back of its leg. Unable to regain its balance, the demon teetered and started to fall. Glyph spun and lopped off its head as it fell to the ground. Turning, he ran back to check on Rokka, who was getting to his feet and eyeing Glyph in awe.

“I do not know how…but you saved my life. Thank you.” Rokka said humbly.

“You are indeed great!” The old man called out as he made his way closer. He looked at Glyph in disbelief. “How did you do that through the Divinare? No one has ever been able to interact physically through the crystal.”

“I don’t know, and who are you?” Glyph questioned.

Rokka coughed a few times. “He is one of The Seven, a sorcerer.” Rokka informed Glyph.

“I am Miatsu. It is an honor to meet you. I have come to fulfill my part.” Miatsu told him. When he saw Glyph’s perplexed expression he continued. “I was compelled to wander this desert in wait of an army, nearly a month ago. When these men stumbled upon me I knew I had found my army, but truthfully I was merely relieved that my journey would soon be over.”

“My name is Glyph. I owe you my gratitude for helping these men.” Glyph spoke to Miatsu, and then moved his attention back to Rokka. “Take your soldiers back toward the sea. Try to draw as many of the Grull away from The Pass as you can. If all goes well, we’ll be moving through The Pass in force by tomorrow and can meet up with you then. If things get too hairy, take to the sea.”

“Very well. With the provisions we sacked from the Grull outpost we can return if we must, but we will wait for you as long as we can before we do.” Rokka replied.

“I will see to their safety, Great One.” Miatsu stated.

“I must take my leave of you now.” Glyph said, feeling the draw of the crystal beginning to pull him back. Glyph could tell he was becoming less dense by the second.

“Thank you both.”

Glyph took his hands off the crystal, and felt a wave of exhaustion wash over him.

“Did you say ‘Miatsu’?” Ishea prompted. She was leaning in close to him, an expression of shock on her face.

“Yes, he’s helping Rokka. Our missing demons were there too. Miatsu got one, and I helped finish the last one.”

Ishea was speechless, and her eyes began to tear up. “What–?” She finally choked out. “What did he say?”

“He said he felt compelled to wander the desert and wait for Rokka, in order to help them.” Glyph added.

She wiped a tear off her cheek, and took a long deep breath.

“You said you helped. What did you mean by that?” Ishea asked pointedly. She picked up the crystal and placed it back with her things.

“I mean, I killed the last Demon. De-limbed and decapitated the fuck myself.”

Ishea gasped. “You can not do that. It is not possible!”

Glyph shrugged. “It is now, and it worked rather well too. I saved Rokka’s life.” Glyph stated, while trying to slow his labored breathing.

Ishea’s jaw dropped, “You solidified your image?”

“It was either that, or let Rokka die.” Glyph answered. “What’s the big deal anyway?”

“The big deal is that no one has ever done it, it has been tried and proven to be impossible.” Ishea paused in thought, and her expression softened considerably. “How did Miatsu look? Is he well?” She said, taking Glyph’s hand.

“He looked old, and he was well enough to kill a Demon.” He replied.

She turned her head again and wiped off another tear. “I have not heard from him since Master died. I was afraid that he too had gone off somewhere to die.” She began to weep softly, and Glyph pulled her in close and put his arms around her, until she had finished. As they were getting ready to go check on Lukret and the others, Toban met them. His chainmail shirt was sliced in the middle and he was covered in dirt and bloodstains.

“Ishea, you must come at once! It is Lukret, he is dying.” Toban urged.

They quickly followed him back to the Legion encampment. Covat was outside the tent conversing in hushed tones with several of his high-ranking soldiers. He nodded solemnly at Glyph as Toban led them inside. Ishea rushed to his bedside.

“Lukret, may I help?” she asked.

“You have done what you could.” Lukret whispered to her. “It is my time.”

“We will get the monks to heal you.” Ishea said, looking around as if she could find one.

“They were already here, Ishea.” Toban informed her. “They could do nothing.”

Ishea began to cry as she clasped Lukret’s hand between her own.

“My dear, do not cry.” Lukret said, then coughed a few times. “My life has been all that I wanted it to be.” He said, coughed a few more times and gasped for air. “Ishea, you have been a most wonderful companion. You have been my aunt, my sister, and my daughter…so old and yet so full of life.” Lukret let out a long sigh. “Do not despair, but remember me fondly and I will always be with you.” Lukret grabbed at his chest and convulsed in pain.

“Lukret, I will honor your wishes, my dear and treasured friend.” Ishea told him and wiped the tears from her face.

Lukret forced a pained smile on his face and coughed again. “I must speak with Glyph alone now.” Lukret forced out in a winded breath.

Toban put his arm around Ishea and led her out.

“Come closer, my friend.” Lukret said softly to Glyph, who walked over to the bed. “Look after her, Glyph. She may be thousands of years old, but she is still as human as the rest of us, and just as fallible.”

“I will Lukret, I swear it.”

The ancient King gasped a few more times and coughed up some blood. “Read the prophecies, Great One. You are more important than you know.” Lukret spoke in labored breath, then his body began to spasm, and he exhaled his last, staring into Glyph’s face. Reaching up, Glyph closed Lukret’s eyes, and wearily left the tent.

“He is gone.” Glyph announced to all who had gathered there. Covat then entered the tent without a word. Ishea began to cry once more and Toban and Glyph helped her back to her tent to lie down.

“Gather everyone together for a meeting. We need to discuss our plan for tomorrow.” Glyph said to Toban as he turned to leave the tent.

“Glyph?” Ishea said

“Yes Ishea.” He replied

“Do not leave.”

He walked over and pulled a chair up next to her bed and sat down. Then he watched her fall asleep and stayed there until the sun went down, when Toban came for him.

“We are gathering in the mess right now, Glyph.” He spoke softly and glanced over at Ishea, “Should we wake her?”

“No. She’s been through enough today.” Glyph decided.

Toban led the way back to the mess tent. As they entered, he overheard Covat speaking to the assembled group.

“There is a spy. How else would Drathus have known when to attack?”

“There is no spy, Covat. If you seek an outlet for your grief, let it be on the battlefield, not within our own ranks.” Kahula chastised.

They both stopped and looked up at Glyph.

“Kahula’s right, Covat.” Glyph responded. “Now is not the time for accusations. If anyone’s to blame it’s me, for not realizing it sooner. This is all in fulfillment of prophecy. There was never a right way, or a right time; what happened was meant to happen. I could see what Drathus was doing; he could probably see me as well. Whatever this force is that drives us, that drives me, it’s trying to create a balance.” Glyph wasn’t sure if they even understood what he was saying. Everyone present, with the exception of Verto, stared at him as if he was speaking gibberish. He stood up straight and took a deep breath. There was an easier way to explain this. “Look, Drathus attacked when he did, because he knew exactly where I would be at that moment, and he hoped it would cause enough confusion among us that he could gain the upper hand. It didn’t work for him, just like our plan didn’t work for us.”

The room was silent. Toban sat down beside Verto. Glyph looked around the room. They all looked as if they had been to hell and back, except for Verto.

“Where’s Hilen?” Glyph asked, suddenly aware of his General’s absence.

“The General was killed in the battle, Glyph.” Toban told him solemnly. “I apologize. I should have informed you as soon as I found out.”

Glyph hung his head for a moment. ‘Damn it! This is real. If it’s not, I don’t want to know about it.’ He thought. First Osirus, then Lukret, now Hilen, the pain he felt over the death of people he had barely just met was almost too much to bear.

“The trick now is to make sure that the sacrifices we have had dealt to us this day are not in vain. We need to re-organize the troops and get them ready for tomorrow, because when we go through that Pass, we are going to hunt down and kill every last one of those evil fuckers.” Glyph paused trying to control the anger he felt over the loss of these honorable men. “Are we all in agreement?”

They all nodded.

“Do you know how this ends, Great One?” Verto asked in his cool calm voice.

“I was going to ask you the same thing, Verto.” Glyph replied.

“My interference is limited. Suffice it to say, that you have an idea of how it ends, and that you will lead us to that end. It has been written.”

“Thanks, but if you can’t speak coherently then shut up!” Glyph yelled, then kicked over a chair. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean that.” He proclaimed, and took several deep breaths to regain control of his temper. “It’s just so damn frustrating. The prophecy says it’s like this whether we want it to be that way, or not. Whether we try to change it or not, and I for one don’t like it. There’s obviously no choice.”

“It is the reason we are here now, and it is the reason we will be here later.” Verto said, unruffled.

Covat sat there stony faced and silent, but his eyes were wet and red-rimmed with the look of a man who grieved for his King.

“We are all tired.” Kahula interjected, “Perhaps we should sleep, so that we may fight again in the morning.”

“Alright everybody, daybreak tomorrow, get your troops ready and wait for me at The Pass. I’ll take the lead.” Glyph said. He could see Verto’s thin mouth curl upward for a moment as if the High Priest took some sort of amusement over the idea. “Any questions?” He paused, waiting for a response. When there was none he continued. “Gentlemen, let’s all get some sleep.” They all began to get up and shuffle wearily out of the tent. Toban and Covat were the last to leave. Toban stopped to say goodnight to Glyph while Covat lingered uncomfortably. Sensing the General might want to speak with Glyph in private, Toban left promptly. Covat began to pace back and forth.

“Is there something I can help you with, Covat?” Glyph asked.

He stopped and stared Glyph in the eyes. “Are you certain there is no spy, Great One?”

“Am I one hundred percent positive? No, I’m not. What you need to understand is that there is more going on here than just a battle between us and Drathus. I am sure Lukret has shared the prophecies about me with you. It was clearly obvious that he knew just as much as Ishea, and maybe even Verto where they are concerned.” Glyph explained.

“Yes, I know of those prophecies.” Covat confirmed.

“I have a Living Tapestry in my tent. I’ve been using it to spy on Drathus, and try to figure out what’s going to happen and what my role in all this might be. I believe that whatever I saw of Drathus he could see too. Neither side was meant to have an advantage here. In fact, if I’m correct, I’m supposed to fight Drathus one-on-one in the Pass tomorrow. I believe he knows that too.” Glyph told him candidly.

Covat stared at him with abstract horror. “You are to fight the Demon Lord, alone?” He questioned as if he wasn’t sure he heard Glyph correctly.

“Yes.” Glyph answered. The thought of that encounter began to make him apprehensive. Covat shook his head slowly, and looked down in resignation. “Covat? Are you alright?”

Covat lifted his head again. “No. They expect me to be King, now…now that…” Covat struggled to keep himself from falling apart mentally, and nearly came to tears. “I am a general. This is all I know. I do not know if I can be a King. If I am ready.”

Glyph was shocked by Covat’s confession. If a General could breakdown over the thought of being a King, there was little wonder why Glyph had such a problem with it. He almost felt as if he was speaking to himself. “I think that any man who can ask that of himself would make a great King, Covat. I didn’t know anything about being a King before I was crowned in Kivas, but I have good people around me to help, and I’m learning. What I’m trying to say is if I can do it, you certainly can.”

Covat clenched his jaw several times as he mulled over the words Glyph had just shared.

“The thing to remember is that ‘Great one’, or ‘High Priest’ or ‘King’, are just titles, and that the people who wear those titles are just ordinary men like ourselves, thrust into a position we didn’t want, but that take up the calling because we are the only ones who can.” Glyph added.

Covat stared at Glyph with a heightened respect. “Thank you, Glyph. Though you may have been ordinary, you are no longer. I too shall take up my calling and perhaps in doing so, I will become as wise as you.”

Glyph smiled and patted Covat on the back. “If you ever need me, Covat, I will do my best to help.”

“And you can count on me, should our situations ever be reversed.” Covat said and a slight smile passed fleetingly across his face. Then the soon to be King nodded curtly and left the tent.

Glyph returned to his tent, and took off his armor and clothes. He washed the dried, black blood off his face and neck, and sat down on the edge of the bed to examine The Tapestry. This time it displayed a red desert, and the sun was red, and the rocks were brownish red, and a lone figure walked through the middle leaving a long trail of footprints. The figure carried a staff, and wore a black robe, with long silver hair blowing in an unseen breeze. He realized who the figure was, and he immediately got chills; it was Ishea, but where she was, and where she was going, he could not tell. The whole scene was quite otherworldly. Blowing out the candle, Glyph rolled over and tried to sleep. Soon he succumbed to exhaustion, and drifted off.

The next morning Glyph awoke screaming. It took him almost a minute to orient himself. Meanwhile he had leapt from the bed and stumbled across the floor in the darkness, ultimately tripping and careening into the Tapestry before landing on the ground. At first he thought it was his hour, but shortly remembered where he was. He dreamt that Simeon was torturing him again, and that he tried, but couldn’t escape. Now he was sprawled across the floor panting heavily. Wiping the sweat off his brow, he sat up, then lit some of the torches near the wall by magic, and was rather pleased with himself. Glyph made his way over to his clothes and began to dress.

Two servants entered with his morning meal. Just after they left, Ishea entered. She said nothing, but just sat and nibbled on some bread.

“We’re gathering the troops for a march through The Pass. They’ll be ready by the time my hour is up.” Glyph informed her, as he tried without much success to slow how fast, and how much, he was eating.

She finally looked up at him. “How many more must die?”

“Are you asking me? Because I don’t know. I suspect, I hope, not too many more will die. Damn, it creeps me out to talk about it.” He answered.

There was another long pause before Ishea spoke again. “I find out that a dear old friend is still alive after a thousand years, and one of my dearest friends passes on.” She stated and drank a sip of water. “You would think that seeing people you love die, time and time again, would make you callous, but it does not. If anything it makes it harder. As you get older you want to feel it less, so you pick your friends and family carefully. But then, when they die you feel it even more deeply. I held Lukret in my arms the day he was born, and knew his parents well. Sometimes, it makes you lose hope, and the thought of living forever is not as great as it sounds.” Ishea confessed.

“Never lose hope Ishea. Had it not been for you, I would not be here now. I wouldn’t care what happened to these people, to this world. You helped me to understand what is happening to me, and why I am here. I can’t thank you enough for that. I’ll miss my world, but compared to this one it’s nothing but a nightmare, curse or no curse.” Glyph responded, trying to find the right words.

Ishea smiled wanly. “You are so precious, Glyph, and wise beyond your years.”

Glyph finished eating and stretched. “On Earth they call it being an ‘old soul’. I’ve heard that all my life, I always thought it was because I could learn from other people’s mistakes but maybe there’s more to it than that.” He pushed his chair back from the table and could feel his aches and pains acutely. Though he was bruised up pretty badly in places it was nothing serious. Standing, Glyph turned to look at The Tapestry. It displayed his destiny once more; Drathus and himself locked in mortal combat within The Pass. There was no avoiding it; he knew it would happen, even though the thought of it scared the shit out of him.

“What is it?” Ishea asked.

“It’s the same as always. I am to face Drathus alone in the middle of The Pass.”

“Are you sure?”

“As sure as if it were written in stone.” He said, walking over to his bed. “The fate of the world will be decided today, the day of Reckoning.” The words spilled out of his mouth, but he knew in his heart they were true, one way or the other.

Ishea just stared at him. “I have sent word to Verto, requesting the presence of his healers again. They will be here shortly.”

Lying down on his bed, Glyph wondered about where he would end up when his hour began. He was pretty sure he wasn’t going to enjoy his last hour on Earth. Ishea pulled a chair close to the bed and took up her station. Six monks entered the room, and also gathered around his bed. He closed his eyes and began to think about Osirus, the monk he had met yesterday morning, only to sacrifice himself to save Glyph’s life later that afternoon. He had done so willingly, and without hesitation. Osirus had faith that his sacrifice was for the greater good, and Glyph knew he would do everything in his power to make sure that it was. This hour would be his worst, he was sure of it. There was no telling where his body had been taken; to a hospital, maybe even jail. He felt a strange calm wash over him as the winds blew in, the air rushed out of the tent, and darkness descended like a curtain of black death.

The Hour – Chapter 18

Chapter 18

 

Glyph woke in a panic. He could only see a bright blue light and Ishea’s hands as she repaired the damage done to his face. He tried to sit up, but Ishea pushed him back down. She removed her hands, and Glyph tried to sit up again.

FREEZE!” She yelled at him with a strangely deep and hollow voice. Glyph realized he could no longer move, not even to blink.

Ishea moved her hands skillfully above his chest. He could now tell there were other people in the room, as they would shift in and out of his peripheral vision. There was a strange numb sensation coming from the gunshot wound in his leg, and his breathing was becoming easier. He kept trying to open his mouth but couldn’t, and his voice wasn’t working either. Seeing the exasperated look in his eyes, Ishea reached over and touched his head. Suddenly, Glyph heard her voice inside his mind.

Be patient Glyph, the monks are still mending the wound on you leg.”

They’re coming through The Pass!” Glyph screamed back in his mind.

Ishea withdrew her hand and put it to her head as she winced visibly.

“I am right here Glyph, you do not have to shout.” Ishea replied, while handing one of the monks a vial of crushed leaves. She turned to someone and said, “Send word to the others, let them know he is awake.” Then she turned back to Glyph.

“Our forces are moving out past The Hook right now. Lukret has taken over in your absence. We know they are coming through the pass and there is nothing you can do about it right now, so try to relax and we will get you there, when you get there.” She informed him, and then waved her hand, releasing her hold on his voice, as well as his body from the waist up.

“So what’s happening?” Glyph spat out.

“Nothing yet, but your original plan is no longer valid.” Ishea stated calmly.

“Fuck!”

“You should not swear in front of the monks, Glyph,” she scolded.

Glyph turned his head, and glared at Ishea intensely.

“Are you insane? I’ve got to get out there; you’ve got to get out there. They’ll get stomped without our magic!” Glyph yelled at her.

“Though your sentiment is touching, what will be, will be. Until the monks are finished working on your leg, you will not be going anywhere.”

Glyph lifted his head and looked down his body at the six monks. All of their palms were face down on top of one another, and moving as one. A bright white light emanated from the bottom of the monk’s hands as they moved them slowly above his wound.

“Where did they come from?” he asked Ishea, eyeing up the monks.

“Verto sensed your need, and sent his best healers to aid in your recovery. You will find that together they can do some pretty amazing surgery.”

“Can’t you do it?” Glyph questioned her.

“I could, but I tend to skip a lot of steps. If you plan on walking on that leg when you get off this table you will need a thorough rebuilding of your bone and muscle tissue. It may take another several minutes, but your injury will be healed. Not to mention, I would like to save some of my strength for battle ahead. Oh, speaking of which,” Ishea said, grabbing a small vial of liquid from her case. “Have you ever been in a battle of these proportions?” She asked.

Glyph thought for a moment, like he was recalling all the epic battles of his past.

“No, I haven’t, and your bringing it up doesn’t help my state of mind.”

“I too find myself reluctant to enter into battle again. Here, drink this. It will help.” Ishea said, holding it above his mouth.

Glyph opened, and she drained the whole vial. He almost gagged, but managed to swallow all of it. “Oh man, that shit tasted like mouthwash!” Glyph complained as he grimaced.

Ishea smiled and downed one herself. As she finished, the monks began to lift their hands up and take a step back one by one, then they bowed, and started to file out of the tent. Ishea nodded her head and movement was restored to both his legs. Glyph sat up slowly and groaned.

“You will be sore yet awhile.” Ishea prompted.

“Yeah, I got that.” Glyph said snidely. He was always sore, he never stopped being sore, and he was pretty sure he couldn’t remember a time when he wasn’t. Glyph stood and tried out his leg, and was surprised to find that it felt practically normal.

“You should think about taking a refresher course.” Glyph joked, rubbing his ribs.

Grabbing his mail shirt off the dresser, Glyph quickly slipped it over his head. Ishea casually handed him his sword which he snatched from her and immediately belted on. He plucked his crown from the nightstand and, while setting it in place on his head, turned and stared at The Tapestry. The scene depicted a huge battle in front of The Pass, and it was ugly. The forces of men, stretched nearly end to end from The Hook to the Eastern Mountains, were fighting the forces of evil. Despite all his plans, neither side would have an advantage.

“It’s going to be nasty.” he commented.

“Shall we go?” Ishea asked.

“Let’s do this.”

Ishea and Glyph walked through the tent flap side by side. A servant stood in waiting, with O’dista and Ishea’s mount. They both leapt into their saddles, and Glyph noticed that Ishea was dressed in leather armor covered in ancient runes.

“What’s the name of your horse?” Glyph asked her out of the blue.

“Her name is Taimea.” Ishea smiled at him “Why do you ask?”

“When they record this battle for history, I want to make sure they have the facts straight.” Glyph replied, kicked into his horse, and galloped off toward the battlefront.

They both raced out of the encampment, driving their horses onward. After a few miles, Glyph noticed O’dista beginning to slow. “We’re not going to make it!” Glyph shouted across to Ishea. “The horses will need to rest!”

Ishea shook her head. “Remember the sword? Make the horse lighter!” She called back. Glyph watched as Ishea placed her hand on Taimai’s neck and concentrated. Suddenly her horse began to pick up speed and pull away from him.

Reaching down, Glyph attempted the same with O’dista. It was hard to stay focused at a full gallop, but Glyph got it right on his second try. The warhorse neighed once, and Glyph could feel the animal’s labored breathing ease. A moment later they shot off like a rocket. Within ten minutes they were at The Hook, and rode like the wind to the only tent in the middle of a sea of soldiers. Glyph and Ishea dismounted amid the barely controlled chaos, handed the reins of their horses to an attentive page, and entered together. Lukret stood at a table, and beside him was Covat and Toban. Kahula was on the opposite side with Hilen, and behind them near the back wall of the tent stood another Barjon warrior.

“What have we got, gentlemen?” Glyph spoke while striding to the side of the table.

They all looked at him at once.

“King Glyph!” Toban shouted, and rushed to greet him.

“Toban.” Glyph smiled.

“They must have come through the Pass during the night. We noticed them marching across the plain shortly after your hour began.” Toban informed him.

“What are we doing about it?” He asked Lukret.

“Currently, we are building our troops toward the center of the plain.” Lukret responded.

“Alright then, here’s what I want to do.” Glyph said eyeing the map on the table. “Kahula, take your men and stay near to The Hook. Toban, Hilen, take our troops to the East of Kahula’s men. Lukret, Covat, set your troops in the center of the plain, and toward the Eastern Mountains.”

“Very well, King Glyph.” Lukret said, “What is your plan?”

“My plan is to try and not get us all killed. We have limited time; Drathus is filling up the plain as we speak. Fight, fight hard; and Lukret?”

“Yes Glyph?”

“Don’t let them outflank us. Don’t close ranks until there is no resistance, and preferably not until you are within site of The Pass. The rest of us will hold The Hook. We’ll be the handle, you be the blade.” Glyph stated, making a scissor-like motion with his hands.

Lukret nodded and grinned. “I am so glad you could join us.”

Glyph looked at each one of them in turn. “I am honored to serve with all of you, together we can do this. We will prevail this day. We know what we must do, so let’s get to it.” He took several steps back, and shook hands with each of them as they filed out.

As Glyph and Ishea exited the tent, they were astounded to see nearly a hundred monks in knee-length black robes with crimson sashes tied about their waists surrounding the tent.

“I think you might have forgotten some troops.” Ishea leaned over and spoke to Glyph.

“Well, not exactly.” Glyph stated, as a monk stepped forward and bowed.

“Rise, noble monk.” Glyph ordered.

The monk stood. “I am Osirus, leader of the Crimson Guard. We have been sent here by the venerable High Priest Verto to protect you, my Lord.”

Glyph decided not to argue. “Your service is welcomed, Osirus. Try not to stand too close when the battle starts.”

The monk nodded and bowed, then stood back. Glyph and Ishea mounted, and rode up to where Toban and Hilen were barking orders, marching their amassed forces deeper onto the plain. He could see the Legions trotting double-time as a single entity in front of him; they had nearly reached the center mark. Looking back, he saw the black mass of the Crimson Guard running to catch up to him.

“You’re being a bit quiet.” Glyph turned and said to Ishea.

“I am trying to center myself. I despise war, but this must be done, and I am reconciling the two in my heart.”

“You know I’ve decided, don’t you?” He asked her pointedly.

She grinned widely, and her eyes lit up. “I thought you might have.”

“I want to stay, Ishea. There’s no going back to Earth now.” Glyph said, meeting her gaze.

“I am so glad, Glyph.” she told him, fighting back the urge to cry. “I need to tell you something, and I am not sure how you will feel about it.”

“So what if you’re not from this world, it doesn’t really change things that much.” Glyph stated, watching her mouth open in astonishment. “Verto filled me in.”

“Ah, well, that would explain things.” Ishea responded, nodding her head and smiling.

They soon reached the middle of the immense field, with the Torlean Legions continuing to march further to the east, and the combined forces of Kivastor and Barjon to the West. The line was forming. A strange calm came over Glyph as he turned and gazed intently toward the Pass. The minions of Drathus spilled onto the plain by the thousands, drawing closer with every passing moment.

He rode out a ways toward the enemy lines, and stopped. Several minutes passed as he watched them moving about like black ants, forming a line a few miles away. Turning O’dista, Glyph moved back, sizing up his own forces. He couldn’t believe this was actually happening, that he, a printing press operator from New Jersey was about to lead an army into battle. The mere thought of it made him laugh out loud. This was insane, and even as fear gripped his heart, he couldn’t wait to fight. Glyph was sure his courage was being forged from the potion Ishea had given him, and he didn’t care, as long as it didn’t abandon him. The waiting was making him anxious, and just when he felt like he would explode he caught sight of Toban riding down the front line.

“The word is given, Sire!” Toban called out to Glyph.

Glyph glanced to the East and saw Lukret riding down the line toward him as well.

“We stand at the ready, King Glyph!” Lukret yelled.

Ishea made her way through the front line of soldiers and brought Taimea out in front beside him. “I feel like I should say something.” Glyph said to her.

“Go ahead. I will project it telepathically so that all shall hear your voice.” Glyph heard Ishea speak directly into his mind.

Glyph stood up in his stirrups and trotted back and forth several times.

“I am Glyph, King of Kivastor! I am the Light and Darkness! Today we stand in the path of darkness! We can see its face!” Glyph shouted and drew his sword. “Today we fight! We fight for our lives, and the lives of our families! We fight for our lands and our way of life! We fight to eradicate our world of this evil! Of this darkness! Of this Hell! Follow me, and together we will scour the demon lord Drathus from our world, and rid ourselves of his influence forever!!”

Roars went up from the throngs of soldiers across the plain in front of him, as they held their weapons high, or beat the pommels of their swords against their shields. With that, Glyph swung O’dista around and held his sword aloft. It begin to glow; slowly at first, and then accelerating, until it was a bright red-orange, like molten steel. A unified deafening cheer went up behind him, and he lowered his sword down, pointed it at the enemy line, and began to lead the charge across the plain towards the hordes of Drathus.

Glyph stood in his stirrups as he steadily approached the enemy. He glanced to his right and saw Ishea and Lukret pouring across the grassy field, and to his left Toban and Kahula leading their troops to battle.

“Concentrate on the Demons. There are seven of them!” Glyph shouted at Ishea over the roar of galloping horses, and running men.

“Thanks for telling me!” She screamed back at him.

Glyph watched her a few seconds longer, then moved his attention back to the quickly approaching Grull. Raising his fist in front of him, he waited until he was right on top of the enemy and flicked his hand open. Grull blew outward around him in every direction as an invisible force crushed their bodies flat against one another in a twenty-foot semi-circle. As he rode into his newly vacuumed space he heard the sound of thousands of bodies impacting as the rest of the armies fell upon the Grull.

Glyph swung the King’s sword mercilessly, burning through bodies like soft butter. He stopped for a moment and caught a glimpse of Ishea blasting lightning bolts from one hand, while cleaving the head of a nearby Grull with her sword in the other. Within seconds, a group of the black-robed monks had created a ring around him. They were somehow managing to keep the hordes at bay using only metal-capped wooden staffs, along with some lethal form of martial art.

Scanning the fray, he located his first target, a large, ugly fucker of a demon about forty-five feet to his front and left. Glyph rode forward between two of the monks and began cutting a path through the throngs of Grull. He could see they were all wearing patches of armor. One might have a breastplate, another’s sword arm was covered in hinged metal, and every now and then one would pop up wearing a helmet specially crafted to fit the creature’s horns. The beasts carried all types of weapons from spears and clubs, to crudely forged blades, but were no match for the destructive power of the King’s sword. A hailstorm of arrows flew over his head, thinning out the ranks of the horned minions. Fearing he might lose sight of his demon, Glyph moved O’dista into a gallop, as he continued to cut his way through layer after layer of Grull.

Finally, the Demon loomed a few scant feet away, and Glyph saw the huge spiked club in its hand as it swung down towards his head. Glyph moved his sword up to block, and winced as his sword sliced cleanly through the club, which sent the severed half of the weapon spiraling past his head, and down into the legs of several Grull, crippling them instantly. The Demon looked at the end of the club in shock, and then back at Glyph. Taking advantage, Glyph plunged his sword deep into the demon’s side, then withdrew and quickly maneuvered O’dista behind the now wailing brute. Sweeping the heads off a few courageous Grull, Glyph turned in time to see the demon swat at O’dista. He pulled his weight to one side in the saddle and jerked the reins hard. The horse began to move, but only got a few steps away before the demon’s swing smacked it in the rear. O’dista took off at full gallop, as Glyph was spun from his saddle and landed on his back in the dirt, watching his horse plow through a wall of the horned devils.

Glyph immediately sat up, as a morning star ball whooshed past his head. The tip of its spike cut into his face as it rode down past his ear. Time slowed as Glyph turned to see the Grull arcing back for another swing. Suddenly a wave of anger washed over Glyph as he reached up and touched the wound. Blood trickled down his face, and with a fling of his arm an invisible blast launched the Grull off into the fray, minus his morning star, which Glyph held suspended above the ground with the force of his mind. Glyph rolled to his side and scrambled to reach his sword which had landed a few feet away, but before he could grab it, the demon snatched him up with both hands and began to squeeze. As it pulled Glyph off the ground, the morning star started to spin, slowly at first, then accelerating in speed, until the chain and ball were a blur. The demon began to laugh as he held Glyph suspended in the air at arm’s length.

“You are the Great One?” The demon questioned in a deep voice that was otherworldly. Glyph pushed back against the demon’s crushing grip with all his strength to no avail.

“Should I beg you to spare my life?” It asked sarcastically and began to laugh.

As the last of the air was pushed from Glyph’s lungs, the morning star flew upward and spun into the side of the demons skull, attacking it like a chainsaw, splattering blood, torn flesh, and pieces of bone onto Glyph’s face and chest. Its eyes flashed with surprise for only a moment before the spinning ball of spikes ripped into them. Glyph continued to push the weapon deeper and deeper into the demon’s head with his mind and only released his hold on the weapon when the demon went limp and dropped to its knees. Its arms fell, depositing Glyph back to the ground and onto his feet. He threw his arms out and easily broke the dying demon’s grip, then reached down for his sword which met him halfway. A gurgle erupted from the lump of ground hamburger that was once the fiend’s head. Glyph jumped high and cut the teetering torso down the middle, with the two halves sliding lifelessly past each other to the ground.

“Yes!” Glyph shouted angrily at its remains. At this point many of the Grull warriors started to avoid Glyph, and gave him a wide berth that was reinforced by the number of monks who once again encircled him. Taking several breaths, he was grateful to the monks for this respite. He could feel the energy coursing through his veins; most likely a by-product of the potion Ishea had given him earlier and his own adrenaline.

Suddenly, Glyph caught a glimpse of Toban fending off several Grull not that far away. Stepping between the monks, he cut through the nearest Grull’s neck far enough to have the creature’s head flop over to one side while its body stumbled about like a slaughtered chicken. Noticing that the more surgical a strike was, the more lethal it appeared to be, Glyph no longer bothered with limbs, but rather started skewering the enemy through their skulls. He made his way through to Toban just as the Steward was being overrun. Hacking straight through the spines of two of them, Glyph blew three more off with a wave of his hand. Another Grull lunged at Toban only to be caught in the face with a staff, as Osirus and several other monks began popping up all around them. Glyph reached down and helped Toban to his feet.

“Thank you, Glyph!” Toban shouted sincerely, as he retrieved his sword.

Glyph put his hand on Toban’s shoulder “Are you okay?”

“A little worse for wear perhaps!” he smiled and wiped the sweat from his brow. “Shall we continue?”

“Abso-fucking-lutely!” Glyph yelled. “Don’t get too close to the sword!”

Toban laughed “I will keep that in mind!” he shouted in reply.

Glyph struck out again into the sea of battle, surgically parting it as he went. A few more arrows whizzed past overhead. The Grull were a tough race, Glyph noted. Many of them continued to fight with several arrows pin-cushioning their torsos.

A sonic boom went off to Glyph’s right, and shook the ground; bodies flew upward like a mushroom cloud in all directions about a hundred yards away.

“Ishea.” Glyph thought out loud as he and Toban exchanged glances. He quickly fought back the urge to try and find her. “She can obviously take care of herself.”

“Indeed.” Toban replied.

Just then a small cluster of Kivan soldiers rushed past them, ramming their spears into a herd of approaching Grull. Toban leapt behind the group and defended them as they withdrew their spears. He shouted a rallying cry and several half-squads formed a phalanx which Toban directed toward their next charge. Glyph took out several stragglers, and then made his way toward a small hill in hopes of catching sight of a demon.

As he reached the top of a small rise, Glyph saw a number of Kivan soldiers and Barjon warriors bravely engaging another demon. He raced down a slight incline through a field of tall grass, cutting through any enemy body that got in his way, leaving a path of death and destruction in his wake. He rushed in between two Barjon soldiers, as a Kivan went up in a ball of flame. One of the Barjons scored a hit into the demon’s side with a pike, and was promptly electrocuted. Glyph jumped up and severed the demon’s forearm as it attempted to pull the pike from its side. The creature howled as its limb fell to the ground. With a quick spin, Glyph sliced through the back of its calf, causing it to drop down on one knee. The demon growled and turned, blasting a ball of fire toward Glyph, who ducked just in time to avoid being roasted. Out of nowhere, King Kahula appeared at a full sprint and leapt onto its back, sinking his broad axe deep into its neck and shoulder. The demon shook Kahula off its back as Glyph lunged forward and ran it through the middle with his blade using both hands. Wiggling the glowing sword in a circular motion, he burned the searing, cauterized hole in the demon’s chest wider and wider as it stared at Glyph in disbelief. Blood boiled out its mouth and neck, as it slumped forward and fell at Glyph’s feet. Glyph ran over to Kahula, who was attempting to get up, and gave him a hand.

“Did I ever thank you for the sword, Kahula?” Glyph asked, remembering the story Ishea had told him of its origin. Glyph had pulled Kahula onto his knees, and was positioning himself under the Barjon King’s arm when another of his warriors stepped up to help lift him the rest of the way.

“He who gives a gift and expects thanks is not giving.” He replied. “Besides, I did not give it to you, Komei did. I think I would have held on to such a weapon.” Kahula began to laugh, then coughed a few times and grabbed his ribs. “I think I may have cracked a few that time.”

“Let me help you back.” Glyph said immediately.

“I will go back, but you are needed elsewhere. I am fine, Glyph. You must go.” Kahula responded, as a few more Barjon soldiers ran up beside them. “We will meet later, Glyph, King of Kivastor.” Then he and his soldiers turned and started fighting their way back.

Osirus suddenly appeared beside Glyph.

“You guys are running a little thin, aren’t you?” Glyph asked him as he turned and looked back toward the middle of the plain.

“They will be here. You are just a hard person to keep up with.” Osirus replied.

“Are you always this serious?” Glyph questioned, as several other monks began to show up.

The monk looked at him strangely and answered “Yes.”

“Don’t forget to smile, Osirus.” The monk raised his eyebrows. “Smile?” Glyph prompted. Osirus forced a grim smile for him. Glyph laughed and gave the monk a friendly pat on the back. “C’mon, we’ll have to work on that later.”

Glyph ran back towards the spot he had last seen Toban. Along the way he was joined by a dozen more monks and some Kivan soldiers.

Another sonic boom went off in the distance, and Glyph quickened his pace through the minions of darkness. A while later he came upon Toban and a few Torlean fighters battling their way through the melee.

“Have you seen Ishea?” Glyph yelled across the din as he came close to Toban.

“No, I have not!” Toban said parrying a blow from a particularly nasty looking Grull.

“I’m going to find her!” Glyph informed him.

“I will go with you!” Toban shouted back, as he ran the Grull through the chest, and slit the beast’s throat with the dagger in his other hand. Fighting side by side with Osirus at their backs, they battled their way toward the last sonic boom like a wedge, with Glyph in the lead, a group of monks in the middle, and a line of soldiers bringing up the rear. After what felt like an eternity, the group found another high spot in the landscape, and was able to see another large Demon, even taller than the others at nearly fifteen feet tall, further off to his right. It was pounding on something fiercely with a giant war hammer; Glyph got a strange feeling in the pit of his stomach that something was wrong. Gutting a nearby Grull, Glyph realized the combatants between him and the demon had become so intertwined that any destructive power he unleashed might kill his own men.

Suddenly Glyph had an idea. He placed his hands together in front of him and concentrated. “Part!” He screamed, stomping his foot into the dirt and moving his hands apart. Glyph could feel his arms tingling as an invisible force began to separate the chaotic fighting, clearing the way for him straight towards the Demon. Screaming ferociously, he raced down the path created by the bodies as they magically separated in front of him. Toban and Osirus were right on his heels, with the two sides reengaging in combat after they had passed. As the parting force deposited them into the small clearing with the Demon, Glyph could see that something was indeed wrong.

The Hour – Chapter 17

Chapter 17

 

Glyph coughed several times, and opened his eyes. He looked around for a few seconds, and immediately punched the dashboard.

“Shit, shit, shit!” He screamed in anguish. This was not good. Not good at all. Drathus’s army was moving through the Pass, Glyph’s forces were not yet in position, and he was stuck here with no way to warn them. “Mother Fucker!” Glyph yelled. There was nothing he could do for them now, he would just have to wait out his hour and tell them when he returned. He hoped that someone else would notice the Grull and at best salvage some of his attack plan. Somehow he doubted it. Nothing seemed to work out the way he really wanted it to. Reaching over to the passenger seat, Glyph snatched up the half eaten bag of chips and finished them off, dumping the crumbs into his mouth before tossing the crumpled bag to the floor.

Glyph turned the key and started the vehicle. ‘Why now?’ he wondered as he hit the garage door opener. ‘How could Drathus have known to attack now, with my army marching to the field to set up an ambush, and me stuck in my hour? It was more than a coincidence.’ The door slid upward, and sunlight poured into the room. When it reached its apex, he slid the SUV into drive and descended the driveway.

“Please let this be an easy one.” Glyph said aloud as he drifted to a stop where the drive met the roadway. He briefly debated going back as thoughts of his last drive came to mind. It had been a harrowing experience to be sure, and nearly cost him his life. On the other hand, he knew everyone was searching for him. Now he wished he had killed Maureen when he had the chance, but he couldn’t bring himself to do it, not after the way she had helped him. Of course, thanks to her description of him, he was a wanted man. He had been lucky the cops hadn’t come to this house going door to door. The retreat center was literally on top of the mountain behind him. No. There was no more hiding here. He had to get away, far away, before they closed him in. Driving would be risky, but hiding out where everyone was looking for him was even riskier.

Glyph hunched forward to see if any cars were coming. The driveway was on a curve in the road, and made for limited visibility.

“This is pretty much a crap shoot.” He said, and began to pull out.

Just then, a police car rounded the bend in the opposite direction. It was moving quickly, but didn’t have its lights or sirens on.

“Don’t panic. Don’t panic. Just keep going.” Glyph said to himself, trying to remain calm.

Glyph entered the lane as the cop car whizzed on by, then it locked up its wheels and launched into a wicked slide, coming to a stop in a cloud of white smoke.

“That’s my cue.” Glyph announced, and punched down on the gas pedal.

Glyph rounded the corner in a hurry and started up a long hill. The speedometer read eighty miles per hour as he flew over the crest of the hill. He caught a glimpse of the police cruiser’s lights just before he descended the other side. As he neared the bottom of the hill, he could hear the siren, and the road cut sharply to the left. Slamming the breaks a little too hard, the back end began to fishtail as he entered the turn. He regained control a few inches from the guardrail and slammed the gas again as the engine roared, shooting the vehicle to the top of the next hill like a rocket. The officer continued to gain on him, and Glyph came to the realization that he wasn’t going to be able to outrun a cop.

Blowing through two stop signs, Glyph entered a small town. Houses began to pop up close to the road, some stores followed, then he realized there was a major intersection up ahead, and the light was red. The siren was getting closer, and he caught another glimpse of the squad car in his rearview mirror. He increased speed. There were already two cars waiting at the light, so Glyph moved into the oncoming lane and sped into the intersection. He heard a truck horn blow, and time slowed again, as he saw from the corner of his eye an eighteen-wheeler barreling down on him at high speed. Glyph’s foot was already pushed to the floor, and he moved forward in his seat. The truck veered slightly, and missed the SUV by a hair’s width. The breeze of the passing truck rocked Glyph from side to side as he burned through the intersection.

Sweat beaded on his forehead, and his heart felt like it was going to pound out of his chest. He started to think that attempting to drive away from here might not have been the best idea. One quick glance in his mirror gave him hope; the intersection had stopped the cop. This might be the only chance he would get to ditch the car and hide out. Glyph flew around another curve and out of sight of the officer who had been making his way across the highway. The road split up ahead, and he veered to the right and descended to another road running perpendicular to his. Glyph rose up off his seat as he nearly stood on the brake pedal, and skidded into the road while cutting the wheel to the left. He noticed something reflective through the trees as he slid toward them, then the tires grabbed and jerked the whole vehicle hard to the left just as he was about to leave the shoulder.

Gunning the gas, Glyph sped ahead, realizing that this road paralleled a wide flat lake. Houses lined the avenue to the left, while the right side of the road was mostly undeveloped in the fifty feet or so to the lake. A small faded sign, ‘Boat Ramp’ gave him an idea, and he slowed and turned right onto the gravel path leading to the water’s edge.

“This worked well the last time with the ATV.” Glyph mumbled to himself as he lined the Jeep up with the ramp. He opened the door, slung his duffle bag over his head, and shifted the SUV into Drive. Snatching up the shotgun, he hopped out of the vehicle and it slowly accelerated down the last few feet of hill, and onto the boat ramp. The front door, which he’d left open, slammed shut as the water reached it. The Jeep continued to attempt to plow through the water, as it nosed down, until the wheels floated free of the ground. Glyph eyed his surroundings nervously, and made sure no one was watching. The last thing he needed now was a witness. He turned his back and made for a small grove of trees as momentum carried the vehicle about twenty more feet out into the lake, where it listed to the left, rolled onto its side, and slipped under the surface.

Glyph checked his watch. Fifteen minutes. ‘That gives me forty-five to find a place to hide my body.’ He concluded. Glyph walked up the hill to the road, trying to look like he was in no hurry. He crossed the road, and walked between two houses on the other side, casually looking around. ‘It’s going to be hard to find a place to hide here in town. A culvert could be underwater when I return, if it rains. A dumpster? Might wind up crushed in a garbage truck. Could I find some good people to hide with, like at that Christian center?’ he wondered. He found himself on the next block of houses, and turned onto the street. With a sinking feeling Glyph realized there was no way to identify a person as ‘good’, except if they weren’t trying to kill him. Did that automatically make them good, or just neutral; was neutral even a possibility? He considered just knocking on a random door, but didn’t want to have to battle a house full of black-eyed people again. A car drove past, but didn’t give him a second look. He checked his watch, almost thirty minutes. Time was beginning to limit his choices.

He turned the corner at the end of the street, and walked down yet another similar-looking road in what was obviously a housing development. A motorcycle rode slowly up the street behind him, then came to a stop about thirty feet away.

‘Here we go.’ Glyph thought, and dropped his duffle to the ground. He spun around, readying to draw the pistol from his waistband. A tough-looking biker sat on a beat-up Harley hog. He was wearing a black leather jacket, skullcap helmet, and a long, pointy beard, tinged white at the edges. His arms were spread wide, like he was hugging the Sun, and in his left hand he held a stick with a white rag tied to it. Most importantly his eyes weren’t black, and he certainly didn’t look as if he wanted to kill Glyph.

“Name’s Dan.” The biker shouted over the idling motorcycle’s engine. “Look, the pigs are pissed off, and they’re locking down the whole town. You need to get off the street, cause they’re grabbing everybody, guns drawn, that looks like us.” Glyph’s eyes flicked down momentarily to his clothes. He did resemble a homeless guy, and the duffle bag completed the picture. For whatever reason, biker Dan looked right past the shotgun slung over his shoulder as if it wasn’t there.

Dan took the pause as a good sign, and continued. “There’s a Biker Church up on Sinclair. It’s three more blocks ahead, then turn left and go two blocks. You should go there. I ain’t shittin’ about the cops. They’re on the TV and the radio, tellin’ everybody to stay indoors and shit. State boys are on their way, too.”

Glyph decided the guy wasn’t a threat, at least not in the supernatural way.

“Thanks. That sounds like a good idea.” Glyph responded, even as he realized he couldn’t leave his body in a biker church, or even in this town, if it was going to be put under Martial Law.

“I’m goin’ to go warn anybody else that’s wanderin’ around, now. I’ll head back the way I came, OK?” Dan asked, without lowering his arms.

“Okay. Thanks for the heads-up.” Glyph yelled back.

The biker’s arms lowered, and he slid the stick into his open jacket. He turned the front wheel of the bike sharply, put it in gear, and did a slow U-turn in the street. As he turned, Glyph caught some writing on the back of the man’s jacket that read ‘BikerUChurch’. The biker turned the corner, and Glyph heard the roar of his engine, accelerating away.

‘Change of plans. How can I get out of town as fast as possible?’ Glyph asked himself. He picked up his bag and started walking again, in an effort to draw less attention. ‘To the east is the lake, but I didn’t see any boats handy. Downtown is to the west, I don’t want to go that way. I didn’t notice any train tracks, and I don’t know how to fly. I could ride a horse, should I find one.’ Glyph constantly scanned the area. ‘Yeah, because there are so many horses just standing around. That was a stupid idea, besides riding out of town like Paul Revere wouldn’t attract attention at all.’ He thought sarcastically as he walked down the street. A pair of sirens started up from somewhere in the center of town. He started sweating, and quickened his pace.

He looked around the four houses nearest him. One had a shiny red Volkswagen Beetle convertible in the driveway. ‘Pretty, but too noticeable.’ Glyph decided, and looked at the other side of the street, just in time to see the draperies sliding shut across the living room window of the nearest house.

“Shit! I should’ve taken Dan’s cycle. No, too loud.” Glyph was near panic, and felt like eyes were on him. And what if those eyes were solid black? He was a walking target out here.

Just then an old, gray, Honda civic rode down the street toward him. ‘No choice left, this will have to do.’ He thought, and walked out into the street. He pulled the pistol from his waistband and stuck the barrel in his front pants pocket, while resting his hand on the butt. He held his other arm straight out, palm forward, in his best imitation of a Police Officer’s stance. The car slowed, and as it pulled up Glyph could see a teenage boy was driving.

Glyph continued playing the Police Officer role, making the ‘Roll down your window’ motion with his free hand. He was surprised when the window actually slid down, and the car stopped. Glyph took three steps forward to the driver’s side window, pointed the pistol at the youth’s head, and cocked the hammer.

“Carjacking. Get out or die.” Glyph said, dropping any pretense of authority. The young man started shaking as his face went pale. Glyph reached inside the window and opened the car door from the inside. He swung it open, shifting his gun for just a moment before leveling it at the driver’s head again. He then reached over to the steering column and put the car in Park. “Unbuckle and get out.” Glyph growled, and the young driver unfastened his safety belt as tears started pouring down his cheeks, along with a whimpering sound of ‘whu, whu, whu’. Glyph switched the pistol to his left hand, grabbed the kid’s T-shirt with his right, and hauled him out of the seat. He then sat down in the driver’s seat and swung his legs in.

Suddenly, there was a high-pitched scream from the back seat, like a cat caught in a lawn mower. Glyph spun in his seat, and pointed the gun towards the back seat left-handedly. A blurring lump in the backseat started rocking the car, and as Glyph tightened his trigger finger, he saw that it was a toddler. Its eyes were coal black. What it lacked in strength, it made up for by waving its arms and legs with frenetic speed. Luckily, it was in a child safety seat, and obviously didn’t know how to free itself.

Simultaneously, outside the car, the blubbering teenager stopped crying, and screamed, “That’s my brother! Don’t shoot, that’s my brother!” and started moving toward the car. Glyph whipped back to his left and pointed the gun back toward the teenager, but he kept advancing, yelling “You can’t kill my brother!”

Glyph slammed the driver’s side door just before the kid got to it, and shouted “Freeze!” The kid jerked to a stop for just a second, and Glyph yelled “I’m not going to kill your brother! Now back up.” The kid took a step back, then stopped.

“My Mom will kill me if you take my brother!” the teen wailed, and started forward again.

“Stop! Listen to me. You can have your fucking brother! Run around to the passenger side and take the car seat out!” Glyph shouted over the yowls of the caterwauling infant.

The kid took off around the back of the car, and Glyph shifted the car into Drive.

The back passenger door swung open, and the kid reached in as Glyph spun the gun around to cover both of them.

“Take the whole seat out! If you let him out of the car seat, I’ll kill him!” Glyph roared. The kid’s hand moved from the car-seat to the seat belt holding the car-seat in. He unclipped the car-seat, and as he shifted it towards him, fell backwards onto the road, with the screaming child and car-seat on top of him.

Glyph punched the gas, and the rear car door swung shut as he pulled away from the kid and his little brother. He made several alternating left- and right- turns as he came to intersections, to throw off any pursuit. His only thought now was to get out of town.

Glyph continued north for a half mile, when he heard a faint siren ahead. The lake had ended, and he turned east at the next intersection, hoping that the northeast edge of town hadn’t been alerted yet.

When he reached the other end of town, Glyph saw two cops attempting to block off the road with their vehicles. Moving onto the sidewalk, Glyph buzzed around the backside of one of the cars, took out a mailbox, and skidded back onto the street. Shots rang out as he sped down the road, and one of the patrol cars immediately followed in pursuit. After nearly losing control several times, Glyph began searching for a place to ditch the car before more police got involved, but finding a good place while driving eighty-five miles per hour isn’t easy.

Rounding another corner, he came onto a long stretch of road that descended alongside the mountain into a valley. Two police cruisers were almost on top of him now, and the officer directly behind him was shooting out of his window at Glyph.

The back window blew out as a bullet ripped its way into the passenger seat.

“Fuck!” Glyph screamed, and fishtailed in the middle of the road before regaining control again.

He looked up in time to see the 90-degree turn arrow; the road made a right turn onto a one-lane bridge. Slowing as fast as he could without locking the wheels, Glyph swung out far into the opposite lane then cut back toward the opening of the bridge. He was pushing fifty as he tried to make the turn, but the compact car began to skid across the road. It slammed into the jersey wall at a soft angle, but the impact sent Glyph into a spin that resembled a pinball as it bounced back and forth between the cement walls of the bridge. The squad car behind Glyph wasn’t so lucky, as it impacted the reinforced cement guardrail at the bridge opening and crumpled like an accordion. Glyph’s vehicle came to a stop wedged sideways between the rails of the bridge, blocking three quarters of the lane. He shook his head several times, then grabbed for the shotgun. His arm was burned by the airbag, and his left leg was bruised up really bad, but nothing was broken. The door wouldn’t budge, but the window was still functional and Glyph wormed his way out of it onto the road. He took a quick peep around the back of the wrecked car, and noticed one of the police cars had turned onto the bridge. Glyph spun and ran like hell for the opposite side. He was about forty feet away from the wreck when an accelerating patrol car plowed into the front of it, causing it to dislodge, but there was still no room for the car to pass.

Reaching the end of the bridge, Glyph turned to see one cop sliding across the hood of the Civic. As he turned to run on down the road, two more patrol cars with lights and sirens blaring rounded the turn from the other direction and were driving towards him. He hesitated an instant, looking forward at the approaching cars, and then back at the cop who had just leapt down to the roadway. Jumping back towards the bridge, Glyph darted over the guardrail onto the steep embankment. He could hear the cop yelling at him to stop as he headed down a small path that went practically vertical after the first ten feet, but he followed it out of desperation. Losing his footing, Glyph slid about fifteen feet down the trail before latching on to a small tree. A rain of bullets from above began to throw leaves in the air a few feet to his left, as he continued to descend towards the bottom of the ravine. He could hear the cops shouting at one another on the bridge, and looked back to see one sliding down the trail after him. Glyph rolled off into the underbrush further under the bridge. He lifted the shotgun and fired straight into the officer’s crotch and stomach as he slid toward Glyph. The cop jerked once and then rolled end over end to the bottom of the ravine, slinging long arcs of blood as he went.

Glyph threw down the shotgun and sighed; “At least I made my last shot count.” He thought as he pulled out his pistol, and pressed himself against the steep embankment. There was more yelling coming from above, as Glyph leapt back out onto the small path and made his way down to the bottom. He had been hoping for a stream or something, but there was nothing but an abandoned railway. Locating the dying policeman, Glyph pulled the gun from the man’s bloodstained hand. Frankly, he was amazed the officer was able to hold onto it after a fall like that. Not to mention the shotgun blast. As Glyph turned to run away, he saw two cops descending the left side, and three on the other.

“This isn’t going to be pretty.” Glyph spoke softly, and started to run down the rusted railroad tracks. As soon as he was out of sight, Glyph dove into a thicket of tall weeds and vines, and crouched down to wait. ‘Were they all possessed? Just a few?’ He wondered as he tried to catch his breath. ‘I’ll bet that the evil ones will be able to sniff me out first.’

Glyph decided this was probably going to be the end. He would either be captured or killed but he wasn’t going down without a fight. He checked his watch; fifty minutes. Shifting slightly, he could hear voices coming from the bottom of the ravine. Glyph started to sweat as he waited, a gun at the ready in each hand. It was almost do or die time. Then he heard a yell.

“Daniels! Calvert! Get your asses back here! What the hell’s gotten into you guys?” one of the cops shouted in his direction.

Two officers ran right up to where Glyph was hiding and stopped. Catching a glimpse of one of their faces through the bushes, there was no longer any doubt; his eyes were black as coal. They began to search around, sniffing the air and lurching this way and that. Within seconds, they both started towards Glyph’s hiding place. As the pair ripped away the vines, uncovering his torso, Glyph grinned and shot them both, one in the head and the other in the chest, knocking them backwards to the ground. Rolling forward onto the tracks, Glyph slid sideways, and turned onto his chest behind one of the dead policemen.

Bullets began to fly as Glyph returned fire at the other three officers. He dropped one as the other two dove for cover. A bullet grazed the top of Glyph’s shoulder, and he let out a howl.

“Fuck this! Fuck this shit!” Glyph screamed. He couldn’t take any more of this, and was way past the point of no return. Glyph’s blood boiled as he stood and raced towards the advancing cops. He steadily shot off bullets as he ran, one gun trained on each cop, until he ran out of ammo. Glyph killed one, and wounded the other, who in turn blew a hole through Glyph’s leg just above the knee.

Glyph spun, and dropped onto the ancient rusted tracks, clutching at his leg as blood spilled out onto the ground. He began to crawl away from the wounded policeman, who seemed content to just lie there. Knowing he couldn’t hide himself before his hour was up, Glyph resigned himself to the fates and slumped over one of the wooden ties on the old railway.

He heard more voices, and lifted his head in time to see the boot crash into his face. The second kick impacted his ribs, the third in his groin. Then he felt hands clasp down on his throat; he tried to reach for his knife, but couldn’t. As he was about to pass out, the possessed patrolmen was pulled off, kicking and growling, by two of his fellow officers. Glyph’s vision blurred. He watched them struggling nearby, and started to laugh, but was cut short by the chiming of his wristwatch. Time slowed to a crawl as the air vanished around him, and as the blackness descended like a curtain he finally realized the answer to ‘Why now?’.

The Hour – Chapter 16

Chapter 16

 

Glyph shook violently for several seconds, as if discarding the stains of blood on his soul. He opened his eyes and looked at Ishea, who was again healing his wounds. This time it seemed he had gotten off pretty lightly; one bite mark, a half dozen cat scratches and a whack across the face. All things considered, it could have been a hell of a lot worse and Glyph wasn’t about to complain. Ishea stopped and sat down in a chair not far away.

“Welcome back.” she said to him “You have fared well this hour.”

Glyph didn’t really want to lose it again, or get in a shouting match with Ishea about how killing an unarmed innocent didn’t exactly qualify as having ‘fared well’, so he let it drop. He sat up and tried to smile, but it just wouldn’t come.

“Thanks.” was all Glyph managed in the way of reply.

He stood up, grabbed his mail shirt and slipped it on, then reached for his crown. Buckling on his sword, he walked over to The Tapestry. It had woven itself into a scene of the wastelands of Degruthra. There as before were the forces of evil, only this time they were heading for The Pass, and they were only about a day’s march away. Thousands of Grull marched, carrying all manner of weaponry, and worse yet, they seemed to be driven by lesser demons like Simeon. Glyph counted seven of them. He had barely lived through fighting one Simeon, but now there were at least seven, and Drathus. The odds did not appear to be in his favor. He focused his attention on Drathus, who was riding a huge war chariot, drawn by nearly a dozen lizard-like birds foaming at the mouth. He turned away and noticed Ishea packing up her things.

“Here, let me help.” Glyph said and picked up Ishea’s bags from the tent floor.

They stowed them in her personal trunk which now resided just outside the entrance. Servants arrived to remove The Tapestry and furnishings, while soldiers began to break down the tent. Their horses were ready and waiting nearby, neatly groomed and saddled by the stable master. Glyph and Ishea then rode toward the front of the line. Glyph rubbed his hand over his head and tried, without success, to forget the image of the sobbing man he had just murdered a half hour ago. Ishea tried to start a conversation several times, but Glyph just couldn’t bring himself to talk. Soon they reached the ford in the Toleth River, where General Hilen and General Covat were overseeing the crossing. They both saluted Glyph and bowed to Ishea. Hilen informed them that Toban had ridden ahead to scout the way to the next pylon.

As Glyph reached the far shore, he decided to go in search of Toban and the scouting party. It was as much an excuse to get away from talking as it was to be alone for a while. He had a feeling that once today was over he wouldn’t be alone again until this whole mess ended. Ishea was understanding, but insisted that she accompany him to the pylon since she would be needed to open the gateway to Priam. Anxious to do something, Glyph agreed, and they both galloped off in a hurry.

Reaching the top of the next hill, he stared off into the distance. The grass covered plain was expansive with a single winding road stretching through the middle as far as he could see. From this vantage point he couldn’t even see the mountains, but he had seen the map, he knew they were out there. It became clear why Albast had created the pylons; it would likely take many weeks to traverse that distance, even on horseback. Glyph brought O’dista into a steady canter, with Ishea right behind him. After half a mile, the pair passed the front of the marching army, and several miles further on he came within sight of the pylon and the scouting party.

“Hail, King Glyph!” Toban shouted as he saw Glyph approach.

Glyph trotted up, and fell in beside Toban as they were mounting up. “Good morning Toban. How does everything look?”

“Fair morning, Glyph, lady Ishea. The way is clear to Priam. We were just finishing our search of the area, and are ready to go back to inform the others.”

Glyph looked up at the horizon. “Very good. Ishea is ready to activate the pylon. I thought I might go on ahead. I would like to visit the monastery on Toleth’Va.”

“By yourself, Sire?” Toban questioned, and glanced toward Ishea.

Ishea shrugged. “I have a few things to discuss with Lukret.” She offered.

“Might it not be better to go with the other leaders? They could take offense that you chose not to ride with them.” Toban theorized, looking concerned.

“I thought about it, but I feel compelled to go alone. The closer I get to Toleth’Va the more I feel the need to go there. They will have to forgive me, it’s just something I must do.”

“Then perhaps I could join you?” Toban asked, leaning a bit closer.

“Not this time Toban, though I appreciate the offer. Please tell the others where I’m going, and let them know I’ll meet them there.”

Toban appeared somewhat uncomfortable with the notion of leaving his king to ride alone. “Very well. I shall inform them upon my arrival. Do you require anything?”

“No, thanks. I’ll be fine.” Glyph replied.

“Be careful. Drathus’ foul spawn could be lurking anywhere.” Toban stated, then trotted off quickly to catch up to the rest of his party.

Ishea had already made her way to the pylon and activated it. Glyph watched in awe as the gate formed once again. Now he could see trees through the gate’s shimmering opening. Suddenly the thought of Simeon’s hex nearly brought him to the verge of panic. He tried to stay calm for Ishea’s sake, and forced himself to take long deep breaths.

She seemed to sense his unease. “You are fine. I re-checked this morning while I was healing your wounds. There is no trace of Simeon’s hex left within you.”

Glyph was sweating now. He nodded casually as if that wasn’t what he was worried about and took a long drink from his waterskin.

“Stay on the road, it follows the tree line and leads straight to Priam.” Ishea told him. “Though I doubt any trouble has befallen Priam, be wary, as every step brings us closer to the enemy.”

“Thanks, Ishea.” Glyph remarked, turned O’dista, and rode through the portal.

Once he was safely on the other side, Glyph started to feel better. The air was cool and there were clouds covering the sky, giving everything a gray cast; it was a stark contrast to the sun filled plains he had just left. He leaned back in O’dista’s saddle as they trotted down the road. After a few minutes he reached the tree line of the forest and the road turned right. The hills here were already as steep as the mountains he had been hiding in on Earth, and Toleth’va stretched to the heavens above them, easily taking up half the sky. The sheer size of the mountain dwarfed all the others which surrounded it. It was perhaps the tallest mountain Glyph had ever seen in his life. After a while, Glyph decided to stop and rest his horse. O’dista wasn’t overly taxed by the steep hills, but Glyph realized if he kept going he would reach Priam, and the whole point of going ahead was to be alone for a while.

He tied O’dista in the shade of a small grove of trees and, sitting on a rock, began to take in the scenery. Glyph was pondering the intercontinental pylons when a thought struck him; there really was nothing on Earth to go back to. He had been trying to suppress it, ever since Ishea brought it up back at Muret. His hours on Earth, he knew, had marked him as a murderer. If he was to go back, he would be caught, or spend his life as a fugitive. There was no defense for killing possessed people. Should he be tried, he would likely get life in prison, maybe even the death penalty. Here, at least, he could live out his life in respect and adulation; he was King after all, and a sorcerer to boot. ‘This is the place to be.’ He thought. When this business with that fucker Drathus was over, there was no going back. A smile escaped Glyph’s mouth; concentrating with his mind, he reached out and plucked a cigarette from the air in front of him. He attempted to light it with his finger several times, like Ishea, but all he could get was some smoke and a really hot finger. Finally he held it in his hand in front of him, focused on the end and quietly but firmly said ‘ignite’. The tip burst into flame. Astonished, he blew it out, and took a drag. Taking another puff, he threw the cigarette down and stomped it. The need for it had greatly diminished since coming here, and it didn’t taste right anyway.

Glyph traveled on towards Priam, and reached it in about twenty minutes. The city was walled, but nothing like Muret, and looked like it was only constructed to keep out animals. Priam seemed to flow down from the base of the mountain’s slope, through the edge of the forest, and out onto a wide plain, as if the city had grown from the terrain. Where the land was clear of trees, the city walls and buildings were made of adobe, with domed or vaulted thatch roofs. As the city entered the forest it changed and was built of wooden logs in and amongst the trees, just as the structures built on the lower slope of the mountain were made from stones and large slabs of rock. It was strange and eerie the way the city flowed naturally from one area to another, as if the builders never wanted to leave even a single footprint here.

Riding down to the front gate, Glyph was greeted by two monks.

“King Glyph.” One monk spoke as he approached. “High Priest Verto has been expecting you.”

“He has? You mean right now?” Glyph asked him.

“Yes, My Lord.” the other monk replied, “He just sent us to greet you, and to show you the way.”

Glyph studied them both for a moment. They wore almost identical black robes that ended at the knee, and tied about the waist with a crimson sash. Their hoods were pulled up over their heads, each held a staff, and stood straight at attention like soldiers.

“Lead on.” Glyph said, and decided that this place was going to get even stranger. He dismounted and one of the monks led O’dista off toward the trees, while the other began walking to the gate. “I’m going to want him back later.” he called after the monk, who turned and smiled.

“He is at your disposal, King Glyph. Only your word is needed.” The monk he was following stated.

They walked through the main gate and entered a labyrinth of winding narrow streets that contoured with the lay of the land. Most of the buildings here were small, one or two rooms at most, made of mud brick, and covered in a white plaster. Everything appeared to Glyph to be very clean, well kept, and utilitarian. Nothing he saw, however, had a sense of permanence, as if they could pack up tomorrow and no one would ever know they had been there. They wound their way closer to the base of the mountain, and soon the rock face loomed above them some several hundred feet.

The monk finally stopped at a medium-sized nondescript stone hut built out from the face of the cliff. He stepped to one side of the opening, which was nothing more than a woven rug hung across the entrance and knocked twice on a worn wooden placard with a thick solid looking stick that hung there from a piece of ancient twine. The rug slid to one side and his guide gestured for him to enter. Glyph glanced around, wishing he had brought Toban with him; this all seemed a little bizarre.

“In here?” Glyph questioned.

“I assure you, this is the right place.” The monk replied.

Glyph ducked inside the hut. It was one large room, and there was another man in the corner sitting on the dirt floor. A large woven blanket adorned the back wall. He also noticed his guide hadn’t followed him in.

The man looked up at Glyph. “You may enter.” He pulled a tassel on a rope hanging nearby, and the blanket opened to reveal a wide stone staircase.

Walking up the steps, he could hear his footsteps echoing. There was an unseen light source somewhere above, which placed a white ambient glow on everything. He reached the top after a few minutes of walking and entered a huge hall. There were monks in small groups here and there, and large staircases leading up to the left, right, and back of the room. Glyph scanned the room again, and made his way to the base of the steps. No one appeared the least bit interested in him. He decided to continue straight and went up the next stairway. After a few more minutes he reached the top and entered another hall, not as large as the first, but just as impressive. This room had pillars that were carved right out of the rock, with large tapestries hung between them against the walls. Near the back, it split into several more rooms, and again there were more monks moving about. There were no doors so he continued straight again, entering a narrower hall that had doors on each side and a large door at the end. He strolled to the end of the hall, but before he could open the door, it clicked and opened fully, by itself.

“Welcome Great One.” Came a gravelly voice.

Glyph could see a man in a crimson robe sitting at a table in the center of a large round chamber, very reminiscent of Albast’s tomb in Muret. The walls were lined with books and scrolls stacked on shelves from floor to ceiling around the full girth of the room.

Glyph stepped inside and the door closed behind him. “I am King Glyph of Kivastor.” He stated.

“I know who you are, and why you are here, but tell me, why do you think you are here?” He asked with a straight face.

Not sure how to answer that, Glyph walked over to the large desk where the man sat. “Are you Verto?”

“I am indeed.” He replied. “Now I have answered your question, but you still have not answered mine.”

Glyph really wished he had waited for the others now. Verto slowly plucked at his long gray beard, and stared steadily into his eyes.

“I am here in advance of the combined armies of Kivastor, Barjon, and Torlea. We have come to fight the Demon Lord, and destroy him.” Glyph reported in kingly fashion.

“You have come, not your armies. Why are you here?” Verto asked again.

Glyph began to feel a bit irritated. “I felt compelled. The mountain was calling me.”

“I see.” Verto said, and closed his eyes for a moment. “Our forces are stationed at The Hook, the last bit of forest between Toleth’Va and The Pass. We may not have great numbers, but our monks are trained thoroughly in the art of combat. They are at your disposal.”

“On behalf of all our kingdoms, I thank you.” Glyph replied.

“You are but one. They are yours, Great One.”

“Thank you.” Glyph forced out. ‘This guy is whacked.’ he thought.

“Was there anything else I could help you with?” Verto questioned.

“My forces will not arrive for several hours. I would like to see the monastery at Toleth’Va.”

“Why do you seek the Seers?” Verto demanded suddenly.

Glyph tried to think up a lie, but decided against it.

“I have seen the monastery in a scene on a Living Tapestry. I feel like I’m supposed to go there.” He confessed.

Verto’s eyes widened. “You are truly powerful, Great One. No one yet living is able to view its fabled imagery. What else have you seen?” He inquired.

“Some of the battle ahead, some of the one in the past, and some of the present.” Glyph replied

“Ah, then you already know.”

“Yeah, I know.” Glyph forced out again, not sure what Verto was talking about for certain, but was pretty sure it was about his final battle with Drathus that he had seen on The Tapestry.

“I shall escort you to the monastery myself, Great One, and we can talk along the way.” The old priest stood, walked to the wall, grabbed his staff and led Glyph out into the hallway. They turned left and entered a long small corridor. After passing a few doors they came to a dead end. Verto placed the end of his staff into a small cylindrical hole in the floor and twisted it to the right. A faint click noise sounded, and a portion of the stone wall turned inward like a door, revealing yet another staircase. Glyph might have been impressed, but the moving rock wall was nearly identical to the King’s entrance into Kivas that Ishea had taken him through. Verto withdrew his staff and stepped into the doorway.

“Shall we go?” Verto asked as he continued onto the stairs.

Glyph nodded and followed. As he started to ascend the steps, he saw Verto tap his staff twice on the stone steps, and was startled when a brilliant white light emanated from the top of it.

“How’d you do that?” Glyph immediately asked. No one had said Verto was a sorcerer.

“I may not be a Sorcerer, Great One, but I am still a High Priest… That, and a magical staff help a lot.” Verto cackled and coughed a few times.

‘Was that a joke?’ Glyph thought. At the top of the stairs there was another room similar to the one they had just left.

As they walked toward another ascending set of steps Glyph decided it was his turn to ask some questions. “Why do you call me Great One?”

“That is your name, according to prophecy.” Verto replied.

“What do you mean? I didn’t read that in any prophecy I saw.”

“That is because you have not seen them all. There have been many prophecies written over the past several millennia. Some have come to pass, and some are yet to be.” Verto paused, as if debating his next choice of words. “Some four thousand years ago, a prophet by the name of Noini’ka wrote of the return of the Great One. He claimed that the western lands would drive out the evil, only to discover their hero had returned to the soil. The Guide will seek for answers. Love and sacrifice will foster the coming of the Great One, reborn in another place, to journey to our world. There will he fight the Evil, and here, will he close the door.”

“And I’m the Great One, brought here to destroy the evil demon Drathus, okay I get that. So, how many other prophecies are there about me?” Glyph asked.

“There are several, some more important than others I think. You are but one, Great One.”

“So I’ve heard.”

The steps continued for some ways, then began to switch back. The corridor leveled out and split off to one side. Verto moved into the left passageway and onto an ascending staircase that eventually exited straight out of the ground into a small rotunda. The structure was built of cut stone, and Glyph guessed its purpose was to keep rain or snow out of the tunnel. The large open doorway led onto an enormous flat peninsula of rock that jutted out from the side of the mountain. The whole area served as a courtyard, with a large mosaic of colored bricks covering the ground in an intricate design, most likely only visible from further up the mountain. Four raised daises stood evenly spaced down the middle and looked to contain pools of water. Directly across the courtyard from him was a large set of wide steps that led to the monastery, all carved out of rock. Reliefs of an enormous bird and lion standing together with the sun as their backdrop were etched into the cliff face above the monastery entrance, and a tall bell tower stood off to the right. The edge of the mountainside was some hundred feet away to either side of him, encased by a decorative stone railing that came together into a point some ways behind the rotunda. Several monks stood to the right side in silent meditation, staring off to the North. The views here were breath-taking, as the sun shone brightly atop the clouds with several nearby mountain peaks poking through as if in defiance, daring anything to stand in the way of them reaching the sun.

“What do they see?” Glyph remarked as they strolled past them.

“When more than one monk envisions a sight, it is recorded and studied. Mostly their vision is personal, and divine only to them in their experience of it.” Verto explained, as they walked.

“Did you re-build this after the first war?” Glyph spoke up again, eyeing the beauty of his surroundings.

“The monastery has always been here, it is seven thousand years old. The war of which you speak did not take place here. The Demon Lord did not know of its existence. The monks knew he was coming, so we destroyed the village, and covered our tracks on the ground. Then we gathered in the mountain halls, and concealed the entrance. When Drathus came to destroy Priam, he found nothing.”

Glyph imagined the scenario in his mind. “So you disappeared, and Drathus left empty handed. That’s pretty cool.”

“Indeed.”

“So, you guys have been around as long as The Seven.” Glyph noted.

“The First of The Seven, to be precise. Albast came to Toleth’Va seven thousand years ago. He was, as you are.”

“You mean a sorcerer?”

“Among other things, yes.” Verto answered.

“What other things?”

“Well, both have enormous power, for one. Both are not of this world, and it appears that both are inquisitive as well.”

They passed the last dais, and climbed the wide staircase to the opening of the temple.

“Did you say not of this world?” Glyph stopped and gazed at Verto.

“It is a trait you share with all of your kind.” Verto replied continuing to walk past Glyph.

“Wait, you’re saying that all sorcerers come from another world?” Glyph said, trying to wrap his mind around what he was hearing.

“Yes, unless you are not.” Verto cracked a smile.

“You mean, Ishea is…” Glyph started to say.

“Not of this world.” Verto interjected.

Glyph shook his head. Some small part of him had been gnawing on this since he first met Ishea. She had said ‘I know your pain’, or something, and he knew she didn’t, but the way she had spoken it always gave him pause. ‘Why didn’t she tell me?’ Glyph thought.

“Do not be incensed by her action on this matter.” Verto said as if he could somehow know what Glyph had thought. “The practice has been handed down from Albast. It is forbidden to tell a new sorcerer your origin until a decision has been made. I had a premonition early this morning that you would make the choice before arriving here today.”

“What choice, what are you talking about?” Glyph grated.

“The choice to stay in this world; they all chose to stay. They were on the side of Light, Great One. You differ in that you are on both sides. Your wretched hour marks you as a killer, and the darkness festers within you. Your choice was unclear to us, but now that it has been made, you have fulfilled yet another prophecy. Ishea would have informed you as soon as she found out.”

Glyph shook his head slowly. They walked through a large sanctuary, then circled the room and walked back out to the top of the steps again, as Glyph tried to make sense of what he had been told. It was here that Glyph noticed that the scene he was seeing at this very moment was the one he had viewed in the Tapestry. His hair stood on end. The group of monks was in the same place, even the placement of the sun in the sky.

“This is the scene I viewed through the Living Tapestry!” Glyph remarked excitedly.

“Then, I believe, that our tour is complete. Please allow me to escort you back.”

“Certainly, Verto.”

Together they walked back across the courtyard. Before they entered the rotunda to descend the stairs, Glyph took one last look over the rail to the south and through a small break in the clouds saw his armies approaching like ants in the distance. ‘His armies’, Glyph laughed to himself. Maybe Verto wasn’t as messed up in the head as he had thought.

On the way down it struck Glyph that perhaps they had passed through another portal on the stairs. He couldn’t recall any flashes of light or other weird phenomena, but couldn’t reconcile the number of steps they had climbed with the actual height of the monastery on the mountainside. He was about to question Verto about it when the High Priest began to tell Glyph the story of Toleth’Va.

“When Albast came to us, we were living in a village at the bottom of the mountain. He stayed with us for hundreds of years, studying the ways of the world. When the war with the Demon Lord was prophesized, Albast become distraught. He loved the people here very much, and did not want to see them destroyed. One day, he found an entrance to a cavern that went deep into the mountain, and used his power to form the walls and floor. Albast labored in the mountain for two years, while the monks sustained him. When he emerged, he gave Toleth’Va to the High Priest of Priam, and we have maintained it for six thousand years. We were grateful, though we did not understand why he had done this; it became clear to us shortly before Drathus launched his attack on this land. Albast did this for us, so that we would survive, and we are more grateful now in the understanding.” Verto imparted.

They soon reached the hall that led to Verto’s chamber. Verto casually tapped his staff twice, and the lit crystal on top went out. He then placed the end into the hole and twisted it back to the left, closing the door to the staircase behind them. Withdrawing the staff, they moved down the hallway and entered Verto’s room. The ancient priest placed it against the wall and walked to his chair at the ornately carved desk.

As Verto was about to sit down, there was a curt knock and a monk entered the chamber. The monk bowed, and Verto followed suit.

“We have received word that the forces of the Great One are arriving at the South edge of the city, Your Grace.” The monk reported.

“Very well, Solkit.”

“Thank you for your hospitality, Verto. I should take leave of you now so that I may perform my duties.” Glyph said as Solkit left the room.

“It has been an honor to meet you, as it will be again. Take care, Great One.” Verto said as he sat in his chair, and watched Glyph leave.

Glyph descended the wide stairs through the mountain quickly, and traversed the halls without seeming rushed. He arrived at the main Hall just as Ishea and Lukret entered at the far side.

“Is all well, Glyph?” Ishea asked as they met near the middle of the room.

“As well as can be expected.” Glyph replied. “Lukret.” Glyph acknowledged.

“Good afternoon, Glyph. Our forces are approaching the city now.”

“Good. Verto’s monks are at The Hook, we will camp there tonight. We’ll all need to get together this evening to make sure we’re on the same page.” Glyph informed him. “I can pass this along to the generals myself if that’s alright by you?”

Lukret smiled. “Of course.”

“I take it you are going to see Verto now.” Glyph commented.

“It is the polite thing to do.” Ishea said with a sly grin.

“No problem.” Glyph remarked. “I’ll catch up with you both later.”

Glyph exited the stairs into the hut, and had to shield his eyes from the bright sunlight as he pushed the woven rug aside. He went down through the small city of huts and found Toban, Kahula, Hilen and Covat at the gate. A monk appeared from around the corner leading O’dista and handed Glyph the reins. He stared after the man and briefly wondered how the monk knew to bring out his horse.

“Gentlemen,” Glyph said as he approached. “We are moving on to The Hook. There, we will meet up with Verto’s troops and set up camp. Any questions?”

Toban looked relieved to see Glyph. “None Sire.” he replied, and the others shook their heads.

“Alright then let’s get to it.” Glyph ordered. “As soon as we make camp, we’ll all meet up to discuss our plan.”

“Very well, Glyph.” Kahula responded, and they all rode out.

Later that evening, all the Kings and Generals met in the mess tent to go over the plan; even Verto was present. They all hovered over a map of The Pass spread out on the table.

“We’ll station half the Legions on the field, back a ways to draw them out. The other half will set up on the mountains on the East side. Kahula, Toban, and Verto’s men will set up on the West side. As the bulk of them come through, we’ll attack on all sides at once and crush them!” Glyph explained.

“Where will you be, Glyph?” Verto spoke up. He had that enigmatic expression on his face again.

“I will be on the field with the Legions, as well as Ishea. She will help the East side and I will help on the West if it is needed.” Glyph replied. “Also, those of you on the sides, keep your archers to the front and wait for my signal to charge.”

“What is the signal, King Glyph?” General Covat asked.

“You’ll know it when you see it. I’ll send up a flare, a burst of light.”

Covat nodded.

“Ishea, what is King Rokka’s situation?” Glyph asked.

“Rokka and his men have met little resistance. They have been keeping to the mountains, and should make the pass sometime tomorrow morning.” She said.

“Rokka’s job is to cause confusion on the other side, and to catch any of the Grull that decide to retreat.”

“It is a good plan,” Kahula said nodding his head.

“I agree.” Lukret said as well.

“Any questions?” Glyph stated.

“What if it does not work?” Verto chimed in.

“Then we do it the hard way.” Glyph said meeting his gaze.

Verto cackled, and coughed again.

Toban put out his fist. “It is an honor to serve.” He spoke loudly.

Hilen put his hand on Toban’s fist. “An honor!” he shouted

Kahula followed suit, and one by one they put their hand on top of the others, with Glyph laying his hand on top.

The sun had set and it began to rain as storm clouds moved overhead. Glyph lay in his tent trying to sleep, but couldn’t. When he did manage, it was fitful at best. Before he knew it, his internal clock was waking him.

Glyph dressed and then studied the Tapestry. He steadfastly avoided it last night, but now he was anxious to see it. Strangely, it bore the scene Verto had described to him yesterday, of Drathus and his minions lined up at the bottom of Toleth’Va, searching diligently for the city of Priam, which was nowhere to be found. The servants entered with breakfast, and Ishea arrived with her portable apothecary of herbs and elixirs.

“Fair morning.” She said and smiled at him.

“Let’s hope.” Glyph replied. For once, he wasn’t really hungry.

Ishea reached over, picked up a piece of bread, and took a bite.

“Why does it seem like Verto knows more than he is saying?” Glyph blurted, out of the blue.

“Verto is wise, and has studied the prophecies his whole life.” Ishea tried to explain. “He may well know the outcome of the battle, but cannot say, lest he interfere with what must take place.”

“How old is he?”

“A little over a thousand years.”

“What?” Glyph asked incredulously.

“The Priests of Priam have always lived past their hundredth year, probably due to their aptitude for magic as well as their monastic lifestyles. Verto is the only one to have lived this long. He was just a young monk during the first war. Verto was the one who interpreted the prophecy in time to warn his people, and it was his idea to have them hide within the walls. He saved them all, and was elevated to High Priest in reward.”

“Amazing.” Was all Glyph could say.

After they had finished, Glyph lay down on the bed and began his wait, while Ishea prepared to heal him as best she could. He stared at the ceiling for several minutes, and turned his head toward The Tapestry. Suddenly it started to change, it shimmered, and the threads came alive. It looked like a million pinworms intertwining and moving about. Slowly a picture started to form; it was The Pass. This time it seemed to be a view from the plain. As he looked on, he saw what appeared to be a black cloud coming out between the mountains, then to his horror, he realized it was thousands of Grull, and his armies were nowhere in sight. They’re coming through The Pass! They’re coming now! Glyph sat upright and opened his mouth to tell Ishea, but there was no air, as a large blast of wind sailed through the tent and pulled it from his lungs. His last vision was of Ishea’s worried face, as the darkness came to claim him once again.

The Hour – Chapter 15

Chapter 15

 

Glyph tried to move, but couldn’t. His eyes snapped open to see nothing but rock a few inches from his face, and he was wet. Glyph looked up in a panic, but his head wouldn’t move. He rolled his eyes to the left as far as he could, and realized what had happened. It must have rained, and his body had shifted in the small crevice between the rocks, allowing him to slide further into the gap between them. Worse than that, he couldn’t get more than half a lung full of air before his chest was blocked by the boulders on either side of him. He could make some wiggle-room by breathing out, but worried that he could also slip further into the crack, where he’d be completely unable to breathe.

Forcing himself to calm down, Glyph slowly worked his left arm free from the weight of his body and was able to reach up past his head and lift his body up a few inches. He inhaled to wedge himself into the new position, and reached up again for another finger hold while holding his breath. He pulled up another inch, then took a few quick panting breaths while holding his upper body weight with his fingertips. Slowly, an inch at a time, he raised himself up. Finally he was able to turn his head to see a small ledge below him. It was close enough to grasp with his right arm and helped to leverage his hips and legs back out of the tiny space between the rocks. After a few minutes, he was free. Glyph rested for a couple more minutes before he climbed the rock face to the ATV trail above.

When he reached the top, he visually scouted the area then took inventory of what he had on him. “Fuck.” Glyph said out loud as he felt through his pockets. He was sure there had been shells and ammo there, but he came up with nothing. His ‘friends’ from the church must have removed them while he was unconscious. Glyph checked both weapons; he only had two shotgun shells, and five bullets. “Fuck.” This was not good, considering what Drathus had been sending after him lately.

Glyph almost wished he had simply hidden the ATV instead of sending it over the cliff, but he knew it could have led to someone discovering his body. By the look of the trail, several ATV’s had passed by recently, probably after the rain. Glyph could only assume they were looking for him. The four-wheelers were obviously faster on the trail and he didn’t want a repeat of yesterday. Deciding it would be better to leave the pathway, he made sure to cover his tracks in the mud and then set off, descending through the trees.

He made fairly decent time as he marched down the mountain, stopping once to catch his breath. Soon after, he came upon a split rail fence and peered out of the trees into someone’s back yard. He could see the house; it was like a large log cabin, but much more expensive looking. New Jersey mountain real estate was pretty prime, with everyone moving away from the city these days. His watch read twenty-six minutes.

On the hopes that there might be a car to steal, Glyph hopped the fence and skirted it all the way to the back of the house, then ran to the basement door. Trying the handle, he found that it was unlocked so he pushed it open slowly. He thought this might have been a garage, but as he scoped the room, he could tell by the power tools and stacks of different sized lumber, it was obviously a workshop. Glyph did a cursory search of the work bench for anything that might be useful, maybe a weapon or something to help him survive, but came up empty-handed. As his eyes became adjusted to the low light he was able to see there was a set of stairs leading up as the only other exit. Glyph crept cautiously to the bottom of the stairs. This early in the morning, there were bound to be people home, and if he was lucky they’d still be asleep. As he stalked up the stairs every board creaked under his weight, but he had little time to spare to be stealthy.

The door at the top of the steps wasn’t closed all the way, and Glyph peered out of the crack into the kitchen, which attached to another room at the far end. Poking his head out far enough to peek around the basement door, he saw an outside door just a few feet away. He stepped out into the kitchen, making sure no one was around, and slowly closed the door behind him. His eyes immediately spied some car keys hanging on a ring next to the back door, but as Glyph reached out for them, he heard a noise outside, and then the door swung open.

There in the doorway stood a woman in her late twenties, wearing jogging pants and a sweatshirt. She was startled at first, but as she opened her mouth to scream, her eye color swirled for an instant, and suddenly the whites of her eyes turned gloss black.

Glyph watched as her whole demeanor transformed before him. A guttural growl escaped from her lips as she lunged for him. He brought the shotgun up with both hands and knocked her to one side, sidestepping her attack. The woman crashed into the table and sent chairs flying into the counter along the wall. Glyph brought the gun up to shoot when he felt something run into his leg. As he turned around, he saw an old man in a wheelchair swinging a cane at his head. Before he could react, the stick made full contact across the side of Glyph’s face, his head recoiled from the blow, and stars lit up his vision.

Glyph stumbled into the refrigerator, recovered his balance and triggered the shotgun from his hip, blasting the man in the head point blank. Time began to slow down as he watched the horror of the old man’s face peeling apart into chunks and peppering the wall behind him. A wave of blood splatter flew into him as the wheelchair slowly tipped backwards and fell to the floor. The body slid out onto the carpet of the adjacent room and skidded to a stop. Glyph started to turn, just as the woman jumped onto his back. Her weight threw him off balance and, as he started to spin, the shotgun barrel slid in between the refrigerator and the counter. The gun was wrenched from his hands as he threw his weight backwards, staggered across the room and plunged her head into some overhead cabinets. She clawed at his face with her long nails, and as Glyph struggled to pry her arms off of him, a voice rang out.

“Helen! Oh my god!”

A man had rushed past the dead body of the old man only to stop and scream at the sight of his wife attacking a blood-soaked man. Glyph didn’t bother to say ‘Hi’. Reaching down to his waist he found the handle of his knife. Bending forward as quickly as possible, he flipped the woman off his back and over his head into her husband’s legs. They both crashed to the tiled floor in a mass of tangled limbs. The woman scrambled back toward Glyph quickly, even as her husband tried to pull her to him. Glyph slashed her deep across the upper chest with his knife in one swift motion, missing her neck by a few inches. She began to fight wildly against her husband’s grip.

“Helen stop! He’ll kill us!” He yelled at her, as he tried desperately to hold her back.

Glyph leapt back and jerked the pistol from his waistband just as the wife pulled free of her husband’s grip. She plowed into Glyph’s chest before he could raise the gun, and they both flew back onto the table. She tried to jam her fingernails into Glyph’s throat. Glyph swung the butt of the pistol up and slammed it into her temple, causing her to roll back onto the floor. He spun his head around to see the husband reaching for the shotgun that now laid on the floor by the fridge.

“DON’T touch that gun!” Glyph yelled and pointed the pistol at him. The man froze instantly and stared at Glyph like a deer in headlights. Glyph noted his eyes were still normal, and was reluctant to shoot. He moved quickly, snatched a chair from the corner, and with one hand on the backrest pushed it down onto the woman’s chest, legs first, before she could stand. The man was paralyzed with fear. Glyph gave the woman several swift kicks until she stopped struggling. Grabbing the chair, he rocked it forward until the leg brace pressed into her neck right under the chin and began to bear down on it.

“Please, don’t kill my wife!” the man pleaded as he watched helplessly.

“She ain’t your wife no more pal!” Glyph shouted at him “Take a good hard look, and tell me that’s still your wife!”

“Please, oh God, please, no.” The husband started begging.

Glyph leaned in hard, and started to crush her windpipe. “Look at her, Dammit! Look at her eyes!”

Horrendous dry sucking sounds filled the kitchen as she tried to gasp for air. Her arms clawed desperately at the chair legs, not to free herself, but to get at Glyph as he held her down. The man began to sob as he looked over at his wife, then his brow furrowed in confusion and revulsion as he gazed upon her onyx eyes.

“No!” he cried out, not understanding what he was seeing.

“Trust me, she is not your wife anymore!” Glyph said as he shifted his whole weight onto the chair and felt her neck bone crunch as the chair’s leg brace grotesquely pinched her neck in half.

“Oh God!” The man screamed in anguish.

Glyph just stood there watching him cry. The deed was done. He tried in vain once more to explain, but couldn’t find the words. Shaking his head, Glyph began to pace the kitchen floor as the man curled up into a ball and sobbed over his dead wife’s body.

Glyph checked his watch. Forty-nine minutes, his time was running out fast.

“Fuck!” Glyph yelled in frustration. “Fuck, fuck, fuck!” Glancing over at the man again, Glyph knew what he had to do.

“Is there anyone else in the house?” Glyph demanded.

The husband looked up at Glyph. He was clearly afraid and grief-stricken. “No.” He answered between sobs.

“Do you own any guns?”

“No. No guns.” The man said, wiping his eyes with his sleeve.

“Are those the keys to your car?” Glyph questioned the man, pointing at the key rack.

“Y-yes” the man stammered.

“Good.” Glyph walked over to the husband, placed the barrel to his forehead, and blew his brains out across the floor.

“I’m gonna make you pay, Drathus. You’re gonna pay.” Glyph mumbled to himself as he pushed the pistol back into his pants, and reached over the dead man to retrieve the shotgun. As Glyph swung the gun onto his shoulder his eyes locked on the refrigerator.

Shoving the husband’s corpse to one side with his leg, Glyph opened up the fridge and rummaged around. A few moments later he pulled out a cantaloupe, a jar of mayonnaise, a container of half-eaten potato salad, a stick of pepperoni and a can of diet coke. He unscrewed the lid from the mayonnaise jar, then cracked the cantaloupe into four pieces on the edge of the counter. Sticking his hand into the jar, he slathered the cantaloupe with mayonnaise, then quickly chewed the entire melon down to the rind. He ripped the lid off the potato salad container and upended it to his mouth, squeezing the back of the plastic container like a tube of toothpaste until it was nearly crushed. Glyph looked at his greasy hand, and wondered why he was even eating. He wasn’t hungry.

Grabbing a bag of potato chips off the counter, he stepped around the wheelchair and over the dead invalid into the living room and sat down on a recliner. While munching on the pepperoni, he noticed the remote and flipped on the television. The morning news was on, and just as he cracked open his soda, the news anchor started talking about a fugitive on a killing spree.

“Police can’t quite get a handle on where this killer will show up next, and they’re looking to you for answers. Here’s Denise Coach with the story.”

“That’s right Stan, police think it all started here, with the senseless killing of two teenagers who were somehow lured away from their bus stop and then brutally beaten and stabbed for no apparent reason…”

Glyph almost choked on his soda as he watched the reporter walking through the dirt clearing where he had been attacked. This was completely surreal, he thought as he wiped his hand off on the side of the recliner.

“…then just three days later three hunters were found at Sunfish lake, a popular sporting and recreation site in the mountains just outside of Hodgeton. The men, some of whom suffered multiple gunshot wounds, appeared to have been ambushed. Police believe their own guns may have been used to do the killing. Authorities have been placed on high alert, and are working in conjunction with local wildlife managers and park rangers in a massive search for the person or persons responsible. There have been very few leads in this case, until now. Yesterday, police were called after an ambulance crew arrived at the Kurtridge Station Christian Revival Center for a common injured person call. What they found when they arrived was anything but. Seven bodies were discovered in the main sanctuary, all of them had been murdered with items the killer found on site, and the big break? A lone witness. Police have been able to get a generic description of the killer from the witness, who claims the man was an angel sent by God. Police have released this artist’s rendering, and are asking if anyone has any information to please call the …”

Glyph looked at the drawing on the screen and laughed. “That looks like Tom Hanks. I don’t look like Tom Hanks.” Glyph said, arguing with the television.

“…So the witness really believed he was an angel?”

“That’s right Stan, but if you ask this reporter I’d have to say he seems more like a devil.”

“I would have to agree. Thank you Denise, and now on to the weather…”

Glyph turned the television off. “What a bunch of crap!” He said out loud as he took another bite of meat and tossed the rest onto the old man’s chest while stepping over the corpse. He walked over and lifted the keys off the key rack. “That is such bullshit! They don’t know what they’re talking about.” Glyph raved as he opened the door and stepped out into the garage.

There was a Jeep Grand Cherokee and a minivan parked there. As he hit the unlock button for the SUV, a strange hissing noise erupted to his left. Glyph glanced up toward the noise as a cat leapt onto his head from a large shelf, clawing and biting like its life depended on it. Reaching up, Glyph grabbed hold of the cat’s fur and yanked it from his head; one of the cat’s claws stuck in his eyebrow and ripped his flesh open as he launched the crazed cat into the minivan with a roaring scream. There was a loud thud as the cat hit the vehicle and slid to the ground. Glyph grabbed his eye and jumped about in pain, trying not to yell. “What the fuck!” Glyph swore and turned back to the cat, who had rolled over onto its feet and stared at him. He could see the fully black eyes as it sprinted back toward him. In two bounds it ran up his leg and hung off of Glyph’s chest by its claws, biting him repeatedly. Glyph screamed again and wrapped his hands around the cat’s throat and choked it until it died.

He pried the claws from his chest and flung the cat into the back wall with disgust. Then he retrieved the bag of chips, hopped inside the SUV, slid the key into the ignition, and clicked it to accessory. He locked the doors, leaned the seat back until it was almost lying flat, and turned on the radio. He opened the bag of chips and began to eat. Glyph rubbed the side of his face and checked it in the mirror; it was numb, swollen, and bleeding profusely from his eyebrow. Upon closer inspection he realized he was scratched in about a dozen other places as well. ‘Satisfaction’ by The Rolling Stones started to play, and he laughed at the irony. Checking his watch, he reached up and flipped the key to off, tossed the chips onto the passenger seat and closed his eyes. He heard the rush of wind sweep through the garage. Glyph could feel the dark cold vacuum surround him, and then he was gone.

The Hour – Chapter 14

Chapter 14

 

Glyph woke up to the usual scene of Ishea healing his wounds. It seemed as commonplace to him as Simeon’s torture had only a week ago. Ishea looked over at him and smiled wanly. He thought about Jack and Joan. Why did they stay and fight? Why did they sacrifice themselves for him? They could have run and hid. They didn’t have to believe what he told them. They didn’t have to die for him, but they did, and Glyph couldn’t wrap his mind around that.

“That bone break was terrible.” Ishea said as she finished by healing the scratch under Glyph’s eye. “Did the healing transfer at all?” She questioned.

“Near the end. It did allow me to escape.” Glyph replied solemnly. His anger rose steadily as he thought about all the injustices that had piled up on him recently.

“I am glad for that at least. I wish there was more I could do.” Ishea stated sadly.

“You do plenty.” Glyph said irritably, and swung himself into a seated position on his cot.

“Glyph, you need to rest.” Ishea protested.

Glyph ignored her and the pain, forcing himself to stand. “Shit!” he screamed looking up at the roof of the tent as his lower leg pulsed with agony. “Hear this you god-damn fucker!” he shouted for all he was worth. “I’m coming for you Drathus! I’m gonna rip out your heart, and I’m gonna shove it up your fuckin’ ass!” Glyph took a few steps, and caught himself on the edge of the small table. “You fucked up bastard!” he yelled, catching his breath. He was trembling all over now as he threw both arms up with clenched fists and screamed in frustration. The roof of his tent blew outward followed an instant later by a sonic boom like thunder as thousands of canvas confetti pieces drifted off in the wind.

“Glyph!” Ishea screamed, as he collapsed onto the table. She quickly jumped to his side and helped to ease him into a nearby chair. She attempted to make him sleep but Glyph shrugged it off.

“No.” he said, as he sat in the chair with his head hung low.

Just then, the flap of the tent peeled back and Toban rushed in, his sword drawn, with a dozen soldiers behind him. He looked at Glyph and then to Ishea.

“What is happening?” Toban shouted.

“It is alright, Toban.” Ishea said, “Glyph was just venting some frustration. You will be fine now, right Glyph?” Ishea asked the subdued Glyph.

“Yes.” Was all Glyph could get out, as he sat there shaking.

Ishea nodded at Toban, who withdrew from the tent with the soldiers. Once they were gone, Glyph broke down and began to sob. Ishea put her arms around him and held him until the weeping had passed.

“What am I going to do?” Glyph asked Ishea. “It’s too much. I can’t go on like this.”

“You can, and you must. If that bastard Drathus is to pay for what he has done to you, then you must be around to do it.” Ishea spoke calmly.

Glyph glanced down at the ground and sighed heavily. The porters had arrived to remove his furnishings, and he nodded to Ishea to let them in.

As he stood to leave he cast one wary glance back at the Living Tapestry. This time the image he saw was from Earth, and it made the hair on his neck stand up. It showed him in chains, and wearing an orange jump suit. He was being escorted by four guards past rows of cell doors in what was clearly a prison. Glyph’s mouth slowly dropped open as he stared at it. ‘What the–?’ He wondered silently to himself. It was obviously a scene from his future, but was he really going to be locked up on Earth? Glyph tore his eyes away and shook off any feelings of despair before Ishea could notice.

“Let’s get going.” Glyph said to her.

They walked out of the tent and down to the stables, catching occasional glances from some of the soldiers. As usual, the pain in his leg faded more with each step. Mounting their horses, they rode out to meet Toban and General Hilen. Toban had made sure that Glyph’s tent was the last to be struck so they could move out as soon as Glyph was ready.

“Your Highness, I take it all is well.” Toban said, with a worried look on his face.

“All is well, Toban.” Glyph spoke evenly as he took in the view of the Great Lake.

“King Kahula is moving in behind us, sire. He has made excellent time.” Hilen remarked.

“Good.” Glyph replied sullenly. “I’m going to ride ahead. I need some time to think.”

With that, Glyph kicked his heals and O’dista broke into a full gallop. He half expected to see someone following him, but no one did. He rode that way for some time until he could no longer see his army trailing behind him. Soon he reached the top of a small hill, and caught his first look at the city of Muret. It didn’t have the beauty of Kivas, but it was just as impressive. The city appeared to be a series of walls in concentric circles spreading out from the center, for miles. He stopped to let O’dista rest, and tied him to some scraggly pines on the side of the road.

“It’s getting close.” He thought. He could feel the darkness of his soul growing. He sat down beside O’dista and put his mind toward the coming meeting. After about an hour, he saw three horsemen riding towards him from behind. As they got closer, he started to make out who they were. Toban, Ishea, and Kahula rode up quickly and stopped beside him.

“King Glyph, it is an honor to finally meet you.” Kahula greeted Glyph, with a bow from his saddle.

“The feeling is mutual, King Kahula.” Glyph replied, bowing in return.

“As your friends have advised me, time is of the essence. Shall we ride to King Lukret’s gate together?”

“I thought you’d never ask.” Glyph replied, a smile forcing its way onto his face. He began to relax a little, knowing things were starting to move quickly now. Glyph leapt into his saddle, and they all rode down to the giant gate of Muret. Glyph noted that the gates were closed, and made comment to his companions.

“King Lukret is a wise and studious leader, Sire.” Toban answered. “He knows that Drathus is coming, and has taken precautions.”

“Were Komei as close to the fight as Muret, I would do the same.” Kahula added.

“Muret was all but leveled in the first war, Glyph.” Ishea explained, “The city had no walls then as it was a peaceful time. The city had prospered as a central market place for eons before the war. It has taken the Torleans some eight hundred years to restore the city to what it once was; they will not let it be taken so easily this time.”

Toban rode to the gate and shouted his introductions to the gatekeeper, who promptly ordered the gate opened. The city was incredible, and made even more so by the polished marble construction of most of the buildings along the main avenue. The paved streets were immaculate, and obviously well maintained. They traveled all the way to the center of the city, passing through at least five gates. At the center they entered an enormous courtyard peppered with fountains, gardens, and beautiful mosaics. Several guards came out at this last gate to take their horses, leaving them to walk across the beautiful courtyard. The main palace, lined with columns and decorated archways, seemed to rise into view as they moved closer. There, a steward greeted them and ushered the group inside.

“King Lukret has been expecting you. I will take you to the study.” The steward informed them. He led them down several grandiose hallways lined with painted murals on a backdrop of polished marble tiles. Finally their guide stopped and opened a large door, revealing an even larger room, packed wall to wall with volumes of books, scrolls, charts and maps. Lukret sat at a large glossy oak table. He stood immediately and smiled.

“Gentlemen, and Lady, please come in, make yourselves comfortable.” Lukret said, extending his hand towards the seats at the table.

“My dear Lukret,” Ishea started, “May I introduce you to Glyph, King of Kivas?”

“King Glyph, I am so pleased to meet you in person.”

“And I as well.” Glyph replied.

“King Kahula, it has been far too long since you have honored the halls of Muret with your presence; thank you so much for coming.” Lukret greeted Kahula.

“Indeed. It has been too long.” Kahula replied.

They all took their seats as Lukret began to inform them that his legions were ready for battle. His forces were nearly double the size of Kivastor and Barjon combined, and were already stationed near the continental pylon just south of the Toleth River.

“Has there been any news from Priam, my Lord?” Toban asked.

“Little, I am afraid. The Seers of Toleth’va have not yet been able to ascertain the forces awaiting us.” Lukret answered. “Only that Grull have been spotted making brief forays through the Pass.”

“Grull?” Glyph said curiously.

“Grull make up the main fighting force of Drathus’s army. They have the head of an Ox, and the body of a man.” Ishea informed him.

“Oh, them.” Glyph said, remembering the image of the battle he first saw on the Tapestry.

“I would like to hear more of your plan, King Glyph.” Kahula spoke up.

“We’ve already begun.” He said to Kahula, then turned to the rest of the group. “First, I would like to combine our forces with the Torlean legions. Can we make their camp by the end of the day?” He asked, looking at Toban and Kahula.

Toban glanced at Kahula and back at Glyph. “I believe that can be accomplished.” Toban replied, with a stout nod from Kahula.

“Excellent. Gentlemen, the plan is simple. We march to the Pass, and attack the Grull as they come through. King Rokka and his men will sail up the coast, traverse the desert, and attack from the rear. I expect Drathus will be concentrating his attack at the Pass, and will be thrown into confusion when Rokka enters the battle.” Glyph stated.

“What if Drathus is not yet ready to commit, and Rokka attacks prematurely?” Lukret asked.

“Trust me,” Glyph replied, “He’ll be there. Besides if something were to change, Ishea or myself can contact Rokka at any time.”

“Interesting,” Kahula commented. “I doubt he will be expecting us to attack him first.”

“Exactly.” Glyph added. “We go in strong, and we wipe his ass off the face of the planet for good.” There was a long moment of silence that followed.

“In the past war, we were not as organized. We stalled in our talks of cooperation with the other kingdoms, and we paid the price.” Lukret stated bluntly. “This time the prophets have warned us. They have told us that Glyph would be sent to lead us in the second war against the demons. I am inclined to go along with you in this endeavor, King Glyph.”

“As am I.” Kahula agreed. “The world has not seen the introduction of a sorcerer in over three thousand years, and now one of great power has come to us as the prophecies have predicted. Events foretold thousands of years ago are coming to fruition. Surely this is a sign from the gods, one we ignore at our own peril.”

“Then it’s settled. We bypass Muret and march straight towards the legions at the Toleth River. Tomorrow we head for Priam, and the next day we hit the Pass.” Glyph said.

“I will contact Rokka and advise him of the current situation. Toban, I want you and Kahula to get our forces unified and to get them to the river before nightfall. Lukret, send word to your men and advise them of our plans. This all depends on our cooperation, so let’s get it done.” Glyph said, forgetting to use their proper titles. No one took offense however, and they all embarked on their individual tasks.

Glyph and Ishea used a small antechamber off the study to contact Rokka. It took some time to track the seafaring King down, but to his relief, Rokka had followed his instructions and was already sailing for Degruthras. Glyph appeared before Rokka on the main deck of the lead ship in an armada gliding up the west coast.

“King Glyph!” Rokka shouted at the sight of his blue shimmering form.

“King Rokka, how’s the journey so far?” Glyph asked.

“There is a stout wind from the south, and we have made excellent time. We expect to reach the wastelands within the hour.”

“Excellent. The combined armies of Kivas, Barjon, and Torlea will camp just south of the Toleth River by evening.” Glyph explained. “We plan to attack Drathus at the Pass in three days.”

“That is extraordinary!” Rokka proclaimed. “You have done well, then.”

“As have you. Will three days be enough time to traverse the desert to the Pass?”                   Rokka laughed heartily. “It will have to be. We have brought only enough provisions and supplies for five days in the desert. That means we can move faster. It also means there will be no return trip unless we succeed.” The Delturan king explained.

“Understood. I’ll check back later if anything changes.” Glyph told him.

“Until then.” Rokka replied.

Glyph pulled his hands from the Divinare crystal. ‘Only three full days to traverse the desert.’ Glyph hoped it would be enough.

“What are your plans now, Glyph?” Ishea questioned.

“I was thinking we would wait for Toban and Kahula to bring the soldiers up, and ride with them to the rendezvous.” Glyph answered.

“Good. I would like to show you something.”

“What?”

“You will see.” She said, and led Glyph out of the study and into the hallway.

Rounding a few corners, they came upon a doorway. The ornate wooden carvings in the center held in place a large emerald.

“Don’t tell me I’m King here too.” Glyph said to Ishea, scowling.

Ishea flashed him the smile, “No Glyph, you are not King here. Open it.”

Glyph gave her the evil eye, and placed his hand on the emerald.

“Open.” He commanded.

The door clicked and pushed forward a few inches. Glyph pushed the door open. There was a long dark corridor before him; reaching up, he grabbed an unlit torch and handed it to Ishea.

“You should try to light this.” Ishea suggested.

“I wouldn’t want to bring the roof down on us.” Glyph replied dryly, thinking about how he destroyed the top of his own tent earlier that morning.

Ishea touched the end of the torch and it burst into flame. Stepping around Glyph, she started down the tunnel. They exited some twenty feet later into a large room. Ishea raised her hand and said “Ignite”, and the torches along the walls burst into flame. In the center of the room was a raised dais with a large sarcophagus placed on top.

“Ishea, what is this place?”

“This is the tomb of my master, Albast. He was laid to rest here in the ruins of Muret soon after the first war. As the Torleans rebuilt, they constructed the palace around it.” Ishea sighed deeply. “Coming here brings me comfort. On occasion I even speak with him.” She reached over and touched his coffin.

“You speak with him?” Glyph asked.

“Yes, well, I do most of the talking.” Ishea replied looking slightly embarrassed.

“And I’m here because…” Glyph paused and stared at Ishea.

“Because I wanted to share this with you. I want you to understand the history and the sacrifices the people of this world have made. I need you to know that the sacrifices you make every day are not in vain, and that this world will honor your name long after you have departed.” Ishea looked away from him and stared at the resting place of her Master.

Glyph felt like an idiot.

‘Why do I always stick my foot in it?’ He wondered, and groaned inwardly. He eyed up the room, trying to think of some way to change the subject, but couldn’t.

“You know what Ishea? I do care about the sacrifices these people have made. I feel like Toban is my best friend, and I care about what happens to him and everyone else I’ve met here. I know what happened a thousand years ago. I’ve seen practically the whole battle, thanks to that Tapestry. I’ve watched you, and The Seven, hunting Drathus across the countryside. I’ve even seen parts of the battle ahead. I know what Drathus does to people. So if you think I don’t care, or don’t understand, then you’re wrong.”

“It is not that, Glyph. I just do not want you to leave when this is over. I do not want to have to send you back. If you knew how much these people loved and cared for you…” Ishea pleaded.

Glyph just stood there. He thought about Earth, then about the people he’d been forced to kill, just to survive, and the last scene he saw on the Tapestry. No one on Earth would understand, no one there would believe him. “There’s no life for me to go back to, Ishea. Not anymore.” He confessed, and left Ishea alone in the tomb.

Glyph wandered through the enormous halls of the palace for a while, and then decided to go check on Toban and Kahula’s progress. He figured they should have arrived at the city by now, and retrieved O’dista to begin the long ride out of the city. When he exited the last gate, he saw a large mass of men several hundred feet wide marching past the city walls into the distance. It was the tail end of the combined armies of Kivastor and Barjon.

“Damn they’re fast.” Glyph said, and started to ride towards the front of the column. As he neared the mid-way point he began to hear shouts coming from the soldiers.

“Hail King Glyph!” they yelled, like waves on the ocean. Glyph was compelled to raise his hand in salute as he rode along. By the time he reached the front, he was standing in his saddle with his sword out pointing forwards, to the cheers and adulations of his men. He rode in beside Toban, who accepted Glyph’s explanation of Ishea’s whereabouts, and began to discuss some of the logistics of moving a sizeable force cross-country. Soon, General Hilen came over and happily joined in on the conversation. Glyph, happy for the diversion from his own thoughts, listened intently.

As it neared sundown, they were riding up on the Torlean Legions’ encampment. Their general, a man named Covat, introduced himself and gave them a brief description as to where the camp facilities were and where they should set up camp. Within an hour, most of the tents had been erected and the mess wagons were arriving. Toban and Glyph went to Glyph’s tent, which now sported a roof made up of sheets of worn canvas. They walked in as the Tapestry was being hung. Glyph deliberately tried not to look at it, and instead talked Toban into another lesson of sword fighting. They had just finished when servants began to enter, carrying trays of food.

“Would you care to stay for dinner, Toban?” Glyph asked, wanting the company.

“I am afraid I cannot, Glyph. I must attend to some of my duties first.” Toban replied. Just then Ishea entered the tent. “I am sure the Lady would stand in for me.” Toban smiled, and took his leave.

Ishea stared at Glyph for a moment. “I hope I did not offend you earlier.” Ishea said, breaking the silence.

“No, not really. I think I would like to go back, I just don’t believe I would be accepted now. And, well, this world has a lot of pluses.” He commented, and winked at her.

Ishea smiled and they sat and ate dinner. “Have you seen anything interesting in the Tapestry this evening?” She asked politely.

“Nothing that will help.” Glyph replied, as the image of his incarceration immediately jumped to mind. “If you see an image of the future, does that mean it will definitely come true?” Glyph asked as he dipped some bread into his soup and took a bite.

“Why? What did you see?” Ishea asked getting suddenly serious.

“Nothing, I was just wondering about it. You know, how the Tapestry works.” Glyph said, hoping his explanation would convince her.

She squinted at him a moment, but then seemed to accept what he had said at face value. “I am uncertain. I have never been able to see the tapestry for myself, and therefore can only rely on what the masters have told me. When I was younger I used to dream about what it would be like to see the Tapestry, and what it might show me. As I grew older I realized I would never know for myself, so I lost interest. Albast never said one way or the other, but I have to believe that time is fluid, and so depends in part on that which has come before it. Therefore if the Tapestry shows a scene of the future, then it is possible that something may change before the scene takes place that could alter the outcome of what you saw.”

Glyph nodded his acceptance of her explanation and changed the subject. Part of him still wondered about the scene he saw of the prison, and whether it was some type of warning about the path he now followed. As disturbing as the scene was, knowing there could be something done to stop it from happening helped him to cope with it better.

After they had finished eating, Ishea began to teach Glyph how to control his power, and how to create small objects like rocks and plants. They even touched on philosophy and religion. As the evening came to a close, Glyph stood to escort Ishea to the door.

“One question, Ishea?” Glyph said.

“What is it?”

“Shouldn’t you be teaching me how to defeat Drathus?”

“I am.” She replied. Glyph just raised an eyebrow and stared at her. Ishea caught the look and smiled. “Once you learn how to do small things, the bigger things are easier to do.” She explained.

“If you say so.” Glyph sighed.

“I do.” She stated matter-of-factly. “Goodnight Glyph.”

“Goodnight Ishea.” Glyph replied, and watched her as she walked away towards her tent.

Turning his attention to the Tapestry, he walked over to brave another scene. This time there was a large temple on the side of a mountain and there were monks living and working there. A group of them were gathered on a balcony staring off at the sunset.

‘I wonder if this is Priam,’ he thought, ‘or more likely the monastery at Toleth’va.’ He watched for a while, and then got ready for bed. Glyph slept well that night and actually had a pleasant dream or two.

He awoke in a surprisingly good mood for once; he pulled on his blue jeans and chuckled. Putting on a shirt, he moved over to the Tapestry and began to study it, as two servants entered the room with breakfast. The scene this morning showed King Rokka and his men breaking camp in the desert of Degruthras. Tall mountains reached skyward in the background with sailcloth tents peppering the ground where the rock became sand.

“Good Luck, Rokka.” Glyph found himself saying out loud.

He sat and began to eat, as Ishea entered. She was carrying two large bags of various healing herbs and bandages.

“I see you’ve come prepared.” He said to her, grinning.

She shot him a glare, and set up her wares on a side table.

“There is no point in believing you will not get hurt. If you survive the hour, it is my job to keep you alive.”

“I’m not complaining.” Glyph laughed. Ishea sat down at the table to eat.

“You seem in good spirits this morning.” Ishea commented.

“I am. I don’t know why, but I am. I can feel this whole thing moving towards an end. I guess I’m looking forward to being free of Drathus once and for all, no matter what happens.” He replied.

Ishea put her hand on his. “You will prevail, Glyph. I know it in my heart and soul to be the truth.”

“Thanks.” Glyph sighed, and finished eating.

“Do you have any plans for your hour?” Ishea asked him, as he got ready for the hour to come. Glyph lay down on the bed.

“Run. It’s what I do best. I think I’m going to head down from the mountains. I don’t want to wait around for Drathus to send a family of bears my way.”

“I wish you well, Glyph. I hope that you are not hurt too badly.” Ishea said, with sad eyes.

With that, Glyph closed his eyes and waited, and as luck would have it, he didn’t have to wait long. The winds came, the air was swept away and the darkness descended upon him once again.