Category Archives: The Hour – Book 1

Modern Mythology, using fantasy, horror, etc.

The Hour – Chapter 13

Chapter 13

 

Glyph stirred and inhaled deeply. He sat up and saw the carcass of rotting flesh that used to be Simeon. The rate of decomposition was phenomenal; it was as if the evil was feasting on its flesh like maggots, stripping the body to the bone, and further. As Glyph stood up, he wretched a dry heave at the smell of the rancid steam slowly pouring off what was left of Simeon’s body. ‘There goes my evidence. I should have taken a picture.’ Glyph thought sarcastically. ‘At least I had the sword here to prove this was all real.’

He shuddered as a sudden memory of Simeon hissing ‘sssMalik-tae’ gave him the urge to run away screaming. “That’s not real. That is Simeon putting thoughts in my head.” Glyph said out loud, as he tried to slow the adrenaline-charged panic attack. “Not real. Not …” Glyph paused, and looked around the area again.

“Oooh.” He moaned, as he realized that there was no real proof that the sword was ever here. The only thing he had hit with it was Simeon. Had he imagined the sword? Had he imagined Simeon? He glanced down at the gooey pulp that stretched across the ground before him. It was Simeon, it had to be, but was it? There was ammunition missing from his pockets, but that didn’t mean he hadn’t been shooting it at imaginary enemies. ‘Crap. For all I know, I ran down that path sprinkling bullets into the bushes.’ Glyph despaired. He wanted to believe, he had been so sure that everything that had been happening to him was real, but after Simeon’s hex, he wasn’t certain of anything. He willed his body to start walking calmly back up the trail, searching for his guns.

He found the rifle right away. The barrel was bent; apparently it had taken the brunt of Simeon’s punch. ‘Or I thought it was a sword and swung it into a tree trunk.’ Glyph lamented. Luckily the pistol was not that far from rifle. He emptied the spent shells onto the ground. He had shot the handgun, but at what? It seemed that no matter what he thought, there was still no definitive way to determine if anything he experienced during his last hour had been real. Reloading the pistol, he surveyed the area trying to get a bearing as to which way he had come. It was hard to regain his sense of direction every time he reappeared. He couldn’t always remember where he was when his hour ended, which almost always resulted in confusion whenever he returned. Glyph tucked the pistol back into his pants and chucked the rifle further into the woods.

“I have to go back for the shotgun.” He thought as he started back up the hill.

Glyph’s mind cleared somewhat as he backtracked the way he had come, and traversed the ridgeline to find the thicket where he had first shot Simeon. This was easier than he thought it would be. A ten foot tall demon leaves quite a trail of broken tree limbs and squashed saplings in its wake. Something had caused this destruction, if it wasn’t Simeon, then what could it have been? After a few minutes, Glyph realized he couldn’t afford to waste any more time looking for the gun and started to walk away, when he noticed it sticking out of a bush. He grabbed the shotgun, checked it over, and loaded it.

‘I’ve got to make some distance this time.’ He decided. It was likely the hunters he killed two days ago had been found, which meant the police would be looking for the killer. The further he could distance himself from their bodies, the better. Glyph knew he was only here for an hour. If he wanted to cover a lot of ground he would have to move pretty fast, so he half walked, half jogged through the underbrush.

Soon Glyph crossed a fairly wide, flat trail running along the side of the mountain. Hoping he could make some miles, he decided to risk it and took off at a brisk pace. It became clear to him after he jogged the first half mile that the path was used for ATV’s, as their fat tire tracks were at each muddy spot he encountered. He had just topped a ridge when he heard them. ATV’s for sure, but were they coming or going? He couldn’t tell at this distance, so he continued on the path, listening intently as he went. Glyph checked his watch; it had been almost ten minutes. He had covered at least a quarter mile since he left Simeon’s carcass, and most of that distance was due to this nice clean pathway. With the sounds of the ATV engines getting louder, it looked like his good fortune was about to change. Glyph had to assume they were coming for him. This was the way it had happened the last several times, they could sense him somehow.

He was on a steep descent when he knew for certain they were on the same path, and moving straight toward him at a steady clip. Glyph didn’t bother to wait until he saw them, and decided to head up the steep sloping scree off the path, rather than risk being an easy target by going further down. A few rocks dislodged as he scrambled over them, which started a mini-avalanche of loose rocks rolling down onto the pathway. He began to panic when he realized he was not going to make the ridgeline before they were in sight of him. His eyes searched for a place to hide. Breathing hard, he dropped to the ground behind an old log, just as the ATV’s arrived at the point where several of the rocks had rolled onto the path. The first one stopped, followed by the other two behind him. ‘Here we go again.’ Glyph thought as he struggled to slow his breathing.

Glyph thought he heard talking in low voices. He was desperate to know who he was going to be dealing with shortly, but didn’t dare risk raising his head for a peek. Then one of them said, “Look!”

Glyph was sure the jig was up, and when he heard them scrambling into the woods below him, he knew for sure. When he jumped to his feet to make for the top of the ridge, he lost his footing. A second later he hit the steep slope on his back and started to roll out of control toward his pursuers. Trying desperately to stop himself, Glyph threw out his arms trying to grab anything, a small tree, or large rock, but he was falling too quickly. A moment later he felt a hand grab his arm, which slowed him a bit before he broke free, and crashed legs first into an ATV that sat idling on the trail. There was a sickening crack as Glyph’s leg plowed between the frame and wheel, and his body kept moving onto the top of the vehicle. Then he stopped abruptly, and flopped backward toward the trail. Pain ripped through his body, as his eyes landed on the bone protruding from the back of his calf muscle. Then his head snapped back as he hit the ground and he blacked out…

 

Glyph’s eyes popped open instantly as he regained consciousness. The roar of an engine droned loudly in his ears, and his body bounced up and down considerably. It took a few moments before he understood where he was. He was strapped to the back of an ATV, and his captors were moving rather rapidly down a wide dirt and gravel path. Glyph looked for his guns, but did not see them; of course his view was diminished by his position on the four-wheeler. He became aware of the pain in his leg on the next bounce, and stifled a scream. Glyph was somewhat surprised to be alive. Most of the black-eyed devils only wanted to kill him, but these were taking him someplace. He could tell they had also wrapped his leg with clothing, a sweater by the looks of it, and tied it tight with twine. A moment later they descended a small embankment and started through a large area covered with gravel. Finally they stopped in front of a large wood-planked building, with huge glass windows.

“C’mon, help me move him into the chapel.” The driver of his ATV said. Glyph couldn’t keep the pain in his leg from making him groan loudly as they moved him onto a board and then carried him through two large wooden doors into an enormous room with polished hardwood floors.

“I think he’s coming around.” The man said. “Maureen, go call an ambulance. Joan, can you wet some wash cloths?”

‘Well, they aren’t trying to kill me.’ Glyph thought, and took it as a good sign. He opened his eyes, pretending he had just regained consciousness.

“Good morning. Well, maybe not so good for you.” The man said and chuckled lightly. “My name is Jack. We saw you fall, out there on the trail. Are you feeling okay, I mean other than the leg?” Jack questioned.

Glyph nodded. “Where–.” Glyph was going to ask about his guns, but was cut off.

“You’re at the Kurtridge Revival Center. This is the sanctuary. We had to bring you here to call for help. There’s no cell service up here, and this was the closest landline.” Jack explained. Then he glanced up and saw Maureen standing in the doorway about twenty feet away listening. “Maureen, please. This man needs emergency care.”

“Oh, right.” The woman replied, looking embarrassed, before she moved into the other room.

“She’s calling for an ambulance now.” Jack said.

“No!” Glyph yelled out, and then quickly calmed himself. “No, I’m alright. I’ll be fine, no need to call.” Glyph said in a hurry. He could only imagine what trouble that could land him in. Maureen had turned back around; Glyph had stopped her for the moment.

Jack smiled. “Look, your shin bone has snapped in half. The bottom portion has pierced through the back of your leg, and you’re bleeding pretty bad. You have to go to the hospital.”

“No, I’ll be okay, really.” Glyph told him. “Just give me a few more minutes and I’ll be on my way.”

At this time Joan had come back and placed a cold compress to his forehead. All three of them were exchanging looks, as if they weren’t sure what to do.

“You’re in shock. You need a doctor, sir.” Joan told him. “We’re going to call an ambulance.” She told him firmly, and she shot Maureen a look, who turned again.

“No! Wait!” Glyph yelled emphatically, but Maureen did not re-appear.

“Relax, you’ll be fine. Try not to move so much.” Joan told him.

“So, what brings you out this way, if you don’t mind me asking?” Jack asked, trying to re-direct Glyph’s attention.

“I was hunting.” Glyph said through gritted teeth. “I got lost.” Glyph shifted his weight, and realized the pain wasn’t any worse than before. ‘Shit’ he thought. ‘She’s making the call.’ Glyph changed his focus to escape, though he wasn’t sure how he would do that.

“Well, it’s a good thing we found you. There’s been a couple of murders not too far from here.” Joan told him.

“Yeah, a real live serial killer, and here of all places. There’s rangers and law enforcement combing the mountains between here and Hodgeton.” Jack added. “They think he’s hiding out somewhere up here.”

“Could you at least prop me up against that wall? I feel uncomfortable lying on my back.” Glyph said. The pain was not nearly as bad as it had been, and he hoped that it was because Ishea was already tending to the wound on the other world. Jack and Joan looked at each other for a moment and then helped Glyph move a few feet to the wall and prop him up. “Thanks.” Glyph said and let out a deep breath. He was certain the pain was less potent now. He looked down at his blood-stained clothes. Between the dogs, the hunters and Simeon, it nearly covered his entire body. Then he looked at Jack and Joan. ‘They seem sincere,’ he thought. ‘But how could they take one look at me and not think I was the killer they were just talking about. Maybe they have, maybe Maureen has gone to call the cops instead.’

Maureen re-entered the room. “I made the call.” She told them. “The ambulance should be here in about twenty minutes.”

Glyph glanced down at his watch. He had just about that much time left. He needed to leave and he needed to leave now. Reaching down, he began to untie the blood-soaked sweater from his leg. At least thirty minutes had passed since he had been injured, maybe it would be enough.

“No, you shouldn’t do that.” Joan said quickly and tried to stop him, but Glyph pushed her hand back from his arm and pulled the sweater off. Joan stared down at his wound just as the bone slipped back into his leg. Her mouth dropped open in astonishment.

“Thank you, Ishea!” Glyph exclaimed, momentarily forgetting where he was.

“Jack!” She whispered fiercely as she leaned back and pushed up onto her feet, with one hand over her mouth and the other pointing at Glyph’s leg.

“Sweet Jesus!” Jack shouted jumping to his feet as well. At this point the wound slowly stopped bleeding and began to seal itself. The wet blood on his leg and the dark purplish scar was now the only proof that his leg had been broken. “Maureen! Get the pastor!” When Maureen hesitated, he grabbed her and shook her. “NOW!” Maureen took off at a full run through the double oak doors.

Glyph took the sweater and wiped some of the blood off his leg, and inspected the wound with his hand. He squeezed his leg tenderly starting at the ankle and worked his way up to the knee. There was still a lot of soreness and pain where the bone was knitting itself back together, but he felt he could probably stand, at least on his good leg. He looked up at his helpers, who both stared at him with mouths agape. “A little help here.” Glyph said and put out his hand. After a moment Jack came out of his shock long enough to grab Glyph’s hand and pull him upright. Then stepped back away from him as soon as he did.

“A-are you an A-angel?” Joan whispered, her body trembling so much as to make her stutter.

Glyph was about to say no, but realized this could be his opportunity to escape. “I suppose I am.” Glyph told them. “Now, I have some important work to do, so I’m going to have to go.”

“This—this is a miracle!” Jack shouted.

“Where are my guns?” Glyph asked calmly as he leaned against the wall.

“They’re out on the ATV.” Jack answered.

“Good.” Glyph said and began to limp a little on his slowly healing leg, moving closer to the door. Sweat beaded up on his forehead from the pain. “Is there anything I could use as a crutch?” He asked.

Just then Maureen burst through the door, and slammed it behind her. “They’re coming!” She yelled, and flipped the deadbolt.

“Shit!” Glyph called out. He grabbed a chair from a stack just to his right, and using it as a walker hobbled over to the door. He flipped the back of it under the handles, wedging it in tightly. He glanced at Maureen’s face, and the fear he saw there confirmed his suspicion. Whoever ‘they’ were, they were no longer themselves.

“I-I don’t understand.” Joan said. “Why are you locking them out?”

“You’re religious, right?” Glyph asked, scanning the room for something he could use as a weapon.

“Yes.” Joan whispered.

“So you’ve heard of the battle between good and evil?” He asked taking a tentative step away from the double oak doors.

“Y-yes.” She replied.

“Well–.” A large thud erupted from the doors and made them jump. “You’ve just been drafted. You’ll be pleased to know that you’re on the good side.” There was a frantic pounding coming from outside the door. “Maureen, tell her what you saw.” Glyph said, and limped his way toward the stack of chairs off to the side of the room.

“They changed right in front of me…their eyes were solid black!” Maureen said. There was another loud thud against the doors, like they were using a battering ram. Glyph snatched some long silver-plated candlesticks off the altar, and started back across the room. Jack was on his knees praying in the middle of the floor. Glyph walked over and put his hand on Jack’s shoulder. “Is he answering you?”

Jack turned his head to stare at Glyph, but said nothing.

“Then prayer time’s over.” Glyph said and pulled Jack to his feet. He slapped the candlestick into Jack’s hand and turned him to face the door. “How many, Maureen?”

“Five.” Maureen answered. There was another loud thud, this time with a slight cracking sound.

“Find a weapon to use, this could get ugly.” Glyph told her. Maureen nodded and disappeared into the other room. Glyph walked up to Joan and put the other candleholder into her hand.

“I don’t understand.” She said.

“You will. Swing at the head, with all your might.”

“But you’re an angel. Can’t you protect us?” She said frantically.

Maureen returned with a long pointy candle snuffer, and Glyph nodded his approval. Another loud thud, and this time the doors buckled inward a few inches.

“Is there a back door?” Glyph asked.

“I already locked it.” Maureen told him.

“Good girl. Now get ready, they won’t stop until they’re dead.”

With another loud thud the deadbolt bent and the doors burst open. Maureen jammed the pointed brass snuffer into the first one’s face, connecting with his nose and upper lip, before sliding into his eye and puncturing the brain. Blood squirted out like his eye threw up, as Maureen held the man there, momentarily blocking the door. Joan screamed wildly as she saw their black eyes, and then they pushed through. The next man tackled Joan who continued to scream, even as she hit the floor and started wailing on her attacker with the silver candlestick. Jack swung at a woman and clocked her in the temple, but tripped over her as she fell into his legs.

Glyph whipped a chair off its stack and slammed the face and body of the second woman as she dove for him. As the chair swept her off to the side, the last man leapt for Glyph. They locked arms as the man’s momentum pushed Glyph until his back slammed up against the altar. Glyph kneed the man in his stomach, but he latched onto Glyph’s ear as he fell, and forced Glyph down with him. Pain ripped through Glyph’s shin like the bone had broken again. They exchanged several blows as they rolled about on the floor. Glyph tried to gain the upper hand, but the man scratched Glyph’s left eye, and bit into his forearm. Glyph screamed as the man pulled his head back, trying to rip the muscle from Glyph’s arm with his teeth. Reaching out with his free arm, Glyph grasped a large brass cross that had fallen from the pulpit and began to beat the man’s face with it. On the sixth blow his jaw went slack and his teeth released Glyph’s arm. Screaming again, Glyph beat the man several more times in the face until the skull had cracked and flattened beneath the hammer-like cross. Blood poured out of the man’s head as Glyph pushed back to his feet.

The pain in his leg made him scream, and brought tears to his eyes. He turned to check on the others when the woman he had hit with the chair charged him. Glyph jumped back with his good leg as she lunged, but the woman managed to grab his arm with both hands as she fell toward the ground. Glyph felt his shoulder wrench as the woman’s full weight pulled his arm down, popping it out of socket. Glyph yelled again as he fell on top of her, sprawling across her back as she tightened her grip on his arm, digging her nails into his flesh. Suddenly she released him and as Glyph rolled away he saw Maureen pulling her improvised spear from the woman’s head.

Glyph tried to stand, but the pain in his shin prevented him. He opted to stay on his knees, his arm dangling uselessly by his side. He glanced around quickly. Joan was dead, and Jack was lying on his back bleeding profusely. Then he turned back to Maureen. Her eyes were cold and steely. She reached down to his good arm, braced herself and helped to pull him into a standing position.

“Thanks.” Glyph said as Maureen supported him. Then he pointed, and she helped him to the nearest wall. Glyph leaned his weight against the bad shoulder and the wall, then pushed down while twisting his torso at the same time. With an anguished howl, and several choice swear words he managed to pop his arm back into place. He was lucky it hadn’t been that far out, but even so, Glyph knew he wouldn’t be able to do much with that arm.

“Here.” Maureen said as she tied up a piece of torn drapery. “It’s a sling, see.” She held it up for him to look at, then stepped closer to help put it on. Glyph dipped his head slightly as she placed the improvised sling over his head and around his arm. Then as if reading his mind, she handed Glyph a pair of keys. “Take the blue one. Your pistol is in the storage case with your bag and the shotgun is strapped to the cargo rack. The trail at the end of the parking lot will take you another five miles.”

Glyph nodded as he took the keys, but the agony in his lower leg kept him from moving. “You better let me help you.” Maureen told him and put her arm around his back and allowed his good shoulder to rest on her for support. Limping around the dead bodies with Maureen’s help, he moved out into the morning light. Spying the ATV’s, he slowly mounted the blue one, turned the key and tried to start it up. Nothing happened. ‘Think, damn it. Think.’ Glyph thought, trying hard to remember how to do this. He had only ridden one of these once for a couple of hours several years ago at a friend’s house. There was some trick to it…the brake! He took it out of gear, squeezed the rear hand brake, turned the key and smiled as the ATV roared to life. Checking his watch, Glyph saw he only had eleven minutes left. He reached back and pulled his pistol from the case. He fingered the gun a bit, while he mulled over what he should do about Maureen. The girl just stood there watching him, as if she were waiting for him to pull the trigger, like she expected it to happen, and was fine with it. Finally he stuffed the gun down in his waistband. Then, without looking back, he throttled it up, slowly at first until he got used to driving with one hand and then sped toward the far end of the parking lot. He immediately saw the marked ATV trail and tore through the woods at full speed.

Glyph kept a close eye on his watch as he went. At nearly four minutes left, he sped around a tight curve near the edge of a vista. Glyph slowed the ATV to a stop, cut the wheel and rode slowly toward the cliff. Dismounting, Glyph unlashed the shotgun, grabbed his bag, and with one thumb-press of the throttle sent the ATV careening over the cliff into the dense canopied forest hundreds of feet below.

Glyph knew he had to find someplace to hide his body quickly, so he shuffled close to the edge and saw a ledge below a small overhang about ten feet down the cliff. Realizing it was his best chance of not being found, he looped his bag over his head along with the shotgun, and began to descend the rock face with only a few minutes to spare. Luckily the angle wasn’t too steep and there were plenty of hand and foot holds to use. His shoulder ached, and his leg still hurt like hell, but he was either getting used to the pain, or it was starting to heal again, because it didn’t bother him as much.

Glyph made it to the overhang and ducked underneath onto the small ledge. Had the ledge been any further down he wouldn’t have made it. There was a natural cave here, a crack between two huge boulders, just big enough that he could fit most of himself into it and not be seen. Just as he slipped in, the winds came, pulling the air from his lungs and a moment later plunging him into darkness.

The Hour – Chapter 12

Chapter 12

 

Glyph woke up swinging and bolted upright from the cot. He immediately regretted it. Pain shot down his spine and the muscles around the bottom of his right ribs began to spasm. Letting out a long protracted groan, he eased himself back down onto his cot.

“I did not expect you to wake so soon.” Ishea said from across the room. “Your wounds were rather severe…again.”

“I don’t know. My leg feels fine.” Glyph said, and managed to crack a smile when Ishea shot him a stern look.

Suddenly the tent flap opened. “Are you alright, Glyph?” Toban asked as he entered, a look of concern on his face.

“I’ve been better.” Glyph replied, “I am okay, right?” he prodded, looking toward Ishea.

“You will be fine, though you will be sore through tomorrow.” She spoke soothingly, and smiled. “Glyph, before you passed out, you said that Simeon was dead. May I see what has happened?”

“Sure, why not?” Glyph said rubbing his ribs gently. “You do every other time.”

She walked over to his cot and sat down near his feet. Ishea closed her eyes for a few seconds. When she opened them, she blinked in astonishment.

“You killed Simeon!” She said, shaking her head slowly. Reaching over to a side shelf, Ishea picked up Glyph’s sword and admired it. “Well, you can add ‘Demon Slayer’ to your title now.” she said, and then laughed.

“I rather like the sound of that.” Glyph said jokingly. “What do you think, Toban?”

“I like the sound very well.” Toban replied, smiling broadly “May I pass the news to the troops? I am sure it will bolster their spirits to know that King Glyph has just killed Simeon the Torturer.” He said proudly.

Glyph laughed, “Might as well.”

Toban nodded. “We should start moving. I have a wagon waiting outside for you. Also Lady, at your convenience, the Continental Pylons will need to be activated.”

“Of course Toban, I’ll be right there.” Ishea replied.

“Very good, then. Now if you will excuse me…” he said with a slight bow, then pulled the canvas flap shut behind him.

Glyph tried to move again, this time much more slowly.

“You have experienced more in the last few days than most men do in a lifetime. It seems I am always trying to keep up with you.” Ishea said.

“Well you’re doing a fine job.” Glyph chimed in, while propping himself up as he slid toward the edge of the cot. He didn’t want to kill the mood by mentioning the five months prior to the last few days, where he experienced a hundred lifetimes worth of torture. He hoped that by killing Simeon those memories might start to fade, but so far that wasn’t the case. “I can still ride, right?”

“That depends on how you feel, but I would wait until this afternoon. We should set you up in the wagon again, at least until we reach the Great Lake.”

Glyph nodded, and with a great effort managed to stand upright. Ishea waved her hand over the bag and it vanished, then put her arm around Glyph for support as she helped him outside. “So how do you think Simeon entered my world?” Glyph blurted out when he sat down on the back of the wagon.

Ishea motioned for the driver to head out, grabbed the side of the cart and swung herself up beside him. “I have been thinking about that; I believe it may have something to do with the sword and the necklace. When you brought them into your world, they stood out like beacons because there is no magic being used there. Drathus probably found a way to open a portal by focusing in on the only magic on the planet. The introduction of magical items into your environment enabled the Demon Lord to trace your energy signature and send Simeon after you.”

“I’m guessing I shouldn’t take them next time, then?” Glyph asked, feeling quite disappointed.

“I believe that would be for the best. Better to fight off your own kind, than to try and take on another demon.”

Glyph looked down and reluctantly removed the necklace and handed it back to Ishea. “Well that solves that. Now, what’s up with the sword? Why was the blade so hot?”

“It is said that King Kivas once saved Emperor Komei’s life during a hunt. Emperor Komei had his best artisan craft a sword of the finest quality. The artisan, so compelled with pleasing his Master, went above and beyond his duty, and took a piece of his animus, his very life essence and fused it into the blade. Thus, it is said to have gained magical powers. When Komei saw the weapon, he was so pleased that he arranged for the young artisan to wed his youngest daughter, and accepted the talented blacksmith into his family. King Komei presented the sword as a gift to King Kivas in return for saving his life.” Ishea handed the sword to Glyph.

“Eventually it was no longer worn by future kings of Kivas, but was put on display in the Great Hall, along with several other relics. A few hundred years ago I came upon the writings of a mad old Hermit. They mentioned the sword, and its magical properties, but nothing too specific. I became interested when I read that the sword would be re-born in the light, so I borrowed the weapon from the display in the Great Hall and began to study it.”

“So what did you find out?” Glyph asked curiously.

“Nothing,” Ishea said plainly. “Nothing at all, at least as far as magical properties go. I had believed the story to be myth until now.”

“Well, it scared the hell out of me; the blade was so hot it almost burned my hands and arms.” Glyph told her.

Ishea shrugged “Such is the nature of magical weapons. Sometimes unleashing too much power, too close, can cause some discomfort for the wielder. Maybe you could wear a pair of gloves.” She smiled, then laughed, and Glyph broke out laughing as well.

The wagon slowed to a stop, and Glyph looked around confused. “What now?” He asked her.

Ishea hopped down. “I will need to activate the Continental Pylon if we are to make it to Muret in time.”

“Oh, right. I wanted to see this.” Glyph said and gingerly lowered himself off the back of the covered wagon. Ishea instructed the driver to pull off to one side of the road and wait. When he moved off, Glyph could see the pylon, and the rank and file of the Kivan army moving in behind them. Glyph turned and limped along behind Ishea as she approached the pylon. It was about fifteen feet tall and had four tapering sides, with a four-sided pyramid at the top. It looked to be made of a strange amalgam of jade and pink quartz. Runes had been carved on each of the four sides from top to bottom. There was one large clear crystal mounted at the pinnacle, and another affixed to the middle of the base of each side.

“What’s this thing do again?” Glyph asked, wincing as a short stabbing pain shot through his ribs as he stood there.

“They act as portals do.  This one will transport us to the next closest pylon, which happens to be just below the Great Lake near Muret.” Ishea said as she placed her hand on one side of the obelisk-shaped pylon. “Activate.” The runes flashed a brilliant orange. “The runes indicate size and direction. ‘Muret’.” Ishea spoke loud and clear. Suddenly the crystal at the top lit up a beautiful sparkling green color, along with the bottom crystal on the side Ishea had placed her hand. There was a slight slurping sound as blue energy poured from the top and bottom, connecting together in the middle. A small transparent sheet had formed between the arc and the pylon, allowing Glyph to see a narrow view of where the portal would send you on the other side. The view shifted and wavered like he was staring across pavement on a hot summer day, and Glyph was completely transfixed by it. Ishea made a tapping motion with her hand, and the arc expanded outward to nearly ten times its original width. “The portal must be at its maximum width in order to march an army through. The pylons are placed on the intersections of force lines so that once they are activated they have enough energy to sustain their operation indefinitely. I will leave them active so that Kahula and his army can use them as well. Without them, it would take several months to reach Priam. As it is now, it will only take us a few days.”

Glyph wanted to ask her what a force line was, but was still in awe of this magical device. Ishea waved toward General Hilen, who had made his way to the front line of soldiers and cantered over to their position.

“Sire.” Hilen said to Glyph and gave a short bow from his horse. “Lady Ishea.” He said and bowed again. “Is everything… ready?” Hilen questioned. Glyph could see a slight uneasiness about the general that he hadn’t noticed before.

“Quite ready, General.” Ishea replied. “You may pass through at your discretion.”

“Thank you my Lady.” Hilen responded, and straightened a bit in his saddle. “Commander Finnicks! You may proceed.” The general called out. A stout bearded man at the front turned and barked the order to march forward. The soldiers who had been lining up in rows all marched forward directly into the portal and out the other side. Glyph just stared in awe. He could still see them marching into the distance when he stared through the portal after them.

“Remarkable, is it not?” Hilen questioned when he saw the look on Glyph’s face. “It is only the second time I have ever witnessed the pylon’s activation. I must say it has not lost the ability to impress, and though perfectly safe, instills a pang of discomfort in me that I shall feel much better about once I am on the far side. If you will excuse me.” Giving another short bow, Hilen moved in beside his Commander and passed through.

Moving around the pylon, Glyph positioned himself to see the back of the portal just to make sure it wasn’t some type of illusion. The back of the portal looked similar to the front. Glyph could plainly see the soldiers marching toward him, but when they entered the portal they vanished in layers, peeling away vertical strips of their bodies as they moved forward. Glyph could see internal organs and bones flash from view as they stepped inside, and quickly decided he liked the front view better. After the novelty had worn off, Glyph walked back to his wagon and climbed in. His ribs were aching badly, and he maneuvered himself into a position that caused him the least amount of pain. Ishea joined him a few minutes later.

“If it is alright with you, we will let the army pass through first. It will likely take a few hours, and will give your injuries a chance to rest without being jostled back and forth.” Ishea asked.

“Yeah, sure.” Glyph told her. He had almost forgotten why she had asked for his permission in the first place. He seriously doubted that he would ever get used to being a King. Deciding it would be best to take full advantage of their wait, Glyph pulled a blanket over himself and drifted off to sleep to the sounds of soft clinks and clanks of armor and swords on the soldiers marching through the portal.

 

Glyph was running through the woods; the thumping sound was getting louder. He stopped behind a tree, and the pounding got louder until it felt as if the beating was from his own chest. The tree shook with the sound, then all was quiet. Glyph grabbed the shotgun and leaped out to face his attacker. It was Simeon. The demon stood there staring at Glyph, then its mouth stretched into an evil grin. “sssMaliktae.”

“What’s that? What’s that supposed to mean?” Glyph demanded, brandishing the shotgun in front of him.

“sssMaliktae.” Simeon spoke again, this time reaching out toward Glyph.

“What do you want? What the hell does that mean?” Glyph yelled at the demon.

“sssMaliktae.” Simeon said a third time and began to laugh.

Glyph lost all patience and pulled the trigger of the gun, but nothing happened. Glyph looked at the shotgun, but all he carried in his hands was a dead branch. Glyph reached for his pistol, but it wasn’t there, neither was his knife.

Simeon shook with his sinister hiss-like laughter.

“Shut up!” Glyph screamed, and swung at Simeon with the branch, but the demon had vanished, then the trees, then the ground. Within a few seconds Glyph was tumbling through space, going somewhere, everywhere, nowhere…

 

Glyph felt a sudden jerk, and his eyes flew open. He felt groggy and chilled. “What did he say?” Glyph mumbled as he tried to sit up.

“I trust you slept well.” Ishea said to him.

He hadn’t realized anyone else was there and glanced over at her with a start. “What’s happening?” Glyph asked.

“We are moving toward the portal. When the wagon lurched forward, it jostled you awake. I apologize.” Ishea replied. “So, what did who say?” she asked.

“Hmm. Oh, it was nothing. Just a dream I suppose.” Glyph said, now feeling hot. He wondered if he might be getting sick. “How long before we pass through?”

“Any moment now. There will be a quick flash of light as we enter, and then we will emerge on the other side. It is really quite easy.” Ishea told him, looking concerned once more. “Are you worried about it?”

“No. I just wanted to kno–.” Glyph replied, but was cut off by the bright flash of light. A moment later Glyph glanced around the inside of the wagon, but something was wrong.

“See, now we have traveled to the lake. It will take a half day’s journey to reach the other side of it.” He heard Ishea say.

When he looked at her, he pushed back against the side of the canvas and gasped. Her face was elongated and twisted, fangs sprouted from her mouth, and horns grew from the top and sides of her head.

“What is wrong?” It asked in a deep scratchy voice. It reached for him, and Glyph promptly smacked its arm away from him. Grabbing his sword, he shifted and rolled toward the back of the wagon. “Glyph? Glyph, are you alright?” The creature spat at him. Flinging himself through the back flap, Glyph hit the dirt with a thud and pain shot from his hip to his right foot. He scrambled to his feet. Fear and panic were taking hold of him. The creature that was Ishea thrust its head through the flap and hissed loudly. Glyph pulled his sword from the sheath and waved it at her.

Just then two creatures rushed him from behind; blood poured from their hollow eyeless sockets. Glyph swung at the first and nearly cleaved the creature’s head from its body. It dropped to the ground. The second one tried to grab Glyph and with a quick flick of his arm, he managed to lop the thing’s hairy clawed appendage off at the elbow. The twisted-looking zombie howled and leapt away from him. Glyph spun in time to see the vampire witch that was Ishea fly from the back of the wagon straight for him. He dove for cover under another wagon, rolled quickly underneath it, and stood up on the other side. Every cell in his body screamed ‘run’ and, spying some trees in the distance, Glyph sprinted toward them, hoping he could get away.

Behind him there were shouts and wails of anguish rising from the bizarre group of creatures. He ran for his life. He didn’t know what they were or where they came from, and he didn’t want to know, either. He just wanted to get away. The trees were getting closer when an enormous gray-mottled, mange-ridden beast ran into him, knocking Glyph to the ground. Glyph rolled and jumped back to his feet. Its claws dug at the dirt, and Glyph could see a grotesque hunchbacked rider on its back.

“Easy now!” It shrieked at him. “We do not want to harm you!” The rider wailed, and gnashed its teeth.

“Get the fuck away from me!” Glyph screamed in a panic, and made to circumvent the beast, but it moved to block his path again. Glyph pulled back the sword to swing and the beast jumped backward out of range. “Let me go!” Glyph yelled in desperation, but now there were two beasts with riders there. Stealing a look behind him, he could see a number of the creatures moving toward him, all led by the vampire witch. His fear doubled inside, and with a loud scream he turned and charged one of the beasts, driving his sword through its neck and side. Both beast and rider cried out as the beast fell before him. Glyph leapt over the beast and hacked off the rider’s leg as it tried to scramble to its feet. Then Glyph ran for the tree line as if the apocalypse was bearing down on him from behind.

As Glyph entered the woods he was in a full-blown panic. His heart was beating out of his chest, and he was fighting for every breath. He didn’t dare stop to rest. He had to get away from whatever those things were. Just as he thought he may have left the zombies behind, a patch of fog formed on the ground ahead of him. In an instant, the vampire witch was there, cackling at him. Glyph’s hand shook as he slid to a stop and pointed his sword at her.

“You must remain calm, Glyph!” It yelled at him. A constant stream of worms crawled from its nose and back into its ears as it stood there. Pieces of rotted flesh fell from its bones as it raised an arm toward him.

“Noooooo!” Glyph wailed and lunged to one side, headlong through a bramble bush. Suddenly more of the zombies surrounded him, their swords and spears at the ready. Glyph ripped himself free of the bush and thrust his sword into the nearest creature. Before he could take another step, lights burst and popped all around, blinding him. Glyph swung the sword wildly and charged ahead. He made contact with something a few more times before the creatures tackled him to the ground. Glyph struggled for all he was worth, cursing and swearing, but there were too many of them. They held him to the ground and pried his fingers loose from the hilt of his sword.

The horror and panic rose inside him as his blindness began to fade and he could see the despicable things that held him to the ground. Then the vampire witch stood over him as the others held him tight. Glyph knew it was the end, but something inside him made him continue to fight, to try and get away. He almost got one arm free, even though four of the creatures pinned it down. “Hold him!” The witch yelled at them. The witch pushed one long finger towards his head. He tried to turn away but one of the creatures held his head as well.

“No! No! Nooooooo!” Glyph yelled, but there was nothing he could do as the half-rotten finger pressed into his skull. His mind lit up on fire, and he screamed like Simeon had skewered him for the hundredth time.

Then it was over. There was silence.

“Is it over, my Lady?” He heard someone ask.

“I think so.” It was Ishea’s voice.

Glyph opened his eyes and stared at the people holding him down. There were several soldiers on top of him, along with Toban, and Ishea stood directly over him where the witch had been. The fear and panic had left him, but he was still very confused.

“What?—What the hell?” Glyph asked staring up at them.

Ishea let out a long breath. “You may release him.” She ordered. “Toban stay here with Glyph, I must tend to the others quickly.”

“Toban, what just happened?” Glyph asked. The other ten soldiers stood tensely, and stared at Glyph with a mixture of hate and sadness painted across their faces. They looked relieved as Toban motioned for them to return to the main group. Toban sat back,  leaned against a tree, and rubbed the side of his face with his hand, but said nothing.

“Toban, what’s going on?” Glyph said again, a bit more forcefully. “Where are those—those things?”

“There are no things, Glyph. Everything is fine.” Toban replied, forcing a smile.

“You don’t look like you think everything is fine. I was being attacked by…by something. What gives?” Glyph questioned, looking around for the strange evil-looking creatures.

Toban sighed heavily. “Ishea believes that Simeon placed a hex on you before you killed him. I am sure she could explain this better. From what I understand, passing through the portal activated the hex, which…” He paused. “Which made you see things that were not real.”

Glyph almost laughed. He was uniquely qualified in understanding things you see, but aren’t real. “So you mean–.” Glyph cut himself short. “If they weren’t real, then–” Glyph stopped again. “What did Ishea mean by ‘the others’?” Glyph asked in seriousness.

Toban looked uncomfortable, but continued. “There were some injuries.”

“I was hacking and slashing my way through those things, Toban. If they weren’t real, then what were they?” Glyph demanded.

A pained expression crossed Toban’s face. “They were our people, Glyph.”

“What?” Glyph said and started to get to his feet.

Toban stood quickly, blocking his way. When Glyph took a step to the right Toban moved with him. “You do not want to see that, right now. We should wait for Ishea to return.”

“Dammit Toban! What did I do? I have to know!” Glyph shouted angrily. Reluctantly, Toban stepped aside. Glyph moved forward and saw several wounded men being bandaged near where the tree-line ended and the grassy plains began. Glyph strode determinedly from the grove of trees past the wounded men and across the field. He stopped when he saw the dead horse. Several men nearby were being carted away on stretchers. Glyph turned on Toban, who had been following behind him. “This was me? I did this?”

“Yes. But you were under the power of Simeon’s hex. This is not your fault.” Toban tried to explain.

Glyph spun and marched back toward the line of wagons. As he rounded the first one, he found Ishea hovering over the body of a scullery boy. She covered the boy’s face with his shirt and motioned for some soldiers to take him away. Then she saw Glyph.

“I had hoped to spare you this.” Ishea spoke calmly.

“How many?” Glyph breathed.

“Three dead, six wounded, and the horse. This incident was tragic, but you are not to blame. Simeon is responsible for this.” Ishea told him.

“Simeon’s dead.” Glyph spat, and stormed past her. When he reached his wagon he jumped inside and pulled the flap shut. He lay there staring up at the canvas roof and tried desperately not to think. He had never been so terrified in his life, not even when he had been tortured by Simeon had he been as afraid as he had felt just a few minutes ago. He still wanted to run away, to get away from all this crazy bullshit. Just when he thought he had it figured out, that maybe he wasn’t losing his mind, this happens. He heard Ishea calling his name from outside the wagon, but he said nothing in response, and to his great relief she went away. The wagon started to move again a few moments later, as Glyph fought the images of those foul creatures over and over in his mind.

He drifted in and out of sleep over the next several hours. Hunters with guns, demons, dogs and zombies plagued him while he slept. Thoughts of having killed innocent people filled his mind when he woke, and everything danced around the question of his sanity. The wagon rolled to a stop at about five in the afternoon.

After a bit, the tent flap rose in the back and Ishea crawled in with a plate of food. “Here. You should eat.”

Glyph took the plate, but said nothing. After a few minutes of silence he guessed Ishea wasn’t going to leave, and he couldn’t bring himself to order her to do so, though he doubted she would obey anyway. He picked over his food until Ishea looked satisfied that he had eaten enough.

“We have reached the lake, and traveled several hours along the East side. We are only a few hours march from the capital city, but due to our delayed start this morning we must stop here for the night. Toban informed me that Kahula is gaining on us, and we will all be able to travel to Muret together for your meeting by mid-morning.” Ishea informed him.

Again Glyph didn’t reply. He didn’t know what to say or do, so he did nothing.

“Glyph, I am sorry this happened. It is my fault, I should have been more vigilant. I knew you had done battle with a magical being. I should have scanned your mind for magical maladies as well as physical ones. I was so shocked that you had killed Simeon that I forgot that he may have affected you in other ways. It was only your lack of experience that enabled Simeon to place a hex upon you, and that too is my own fault.” Ishea admitted to him.

Once again Glyph felt at a loss for words. He could appreciate the fact that she was taking the blame, but he was fairly certain it had not been solely her fault. Glyph nodded his head in acknowledgement. Eventually she left; part of him felt better in the understanding, and part felt even worse for allowing Ishea to take all the blame. Toban came an hour later to inform him his tent was ready. His cheerful attitude, whether forced or not, helped Glyph to get up. They walked to his tent, and he was once more greeted with smiles from everyone they passed. By the time they arrived, Toban had persuaded him into another sword lesson. Glyph hesitated at first until he saw that Toban had brought a pair of training swords with him. Glyph really didn’t want to pick up his real sword just yet, and Toban seemed to understand this, though he claimed it was only because it had taken him an hour to sharpen the nicks off his blade from their last session.

The exercise did him a world of good, and helped take his mind off of what had happened earlier that day. Before he knew it they had gone on for almost an hour and Glyph’s arm was wearing out. Ishea had just stepped into the tent as Toban tapped Glyph’s blade to the side and thrust the padded sword tip into Glyph’s chest.

“Damn.” Glyph said, as he stepped back and rubbed his chest. “My arm is getting tired.”

Toban let out a soft chuckle. “That is why we practice, Glyph. You have mastered the basics in only two lessons. Now we must build up your stamina.”

Ishea smiled. “Impressed, Toban?”

“Beyond my dreams! I have never witnessed anyone learn so quickly.” Toban replied as he gathered up his equipment.

“It could be I just have a good teacher.” Glyph commented.

Toban almost blushed. “I would love to take credit for your skill but I am, I fear, too decent a man.”

“And humble too.” Ishea added.

“With that thought, I must take my leave of you. Even humble men need their sleep.” Toban said with a smile. Glyph and Ishea both said goodnight to Toban as he made his exit.

Ishea turned toward Glyph and tossed the King’s sword at him. Glyph caught it just to keep the sword from hitting him in the face, and felt perturbed at Ishea for having done it.

“What?” Glyph snapped at her, and went to place the sword with his things on the far side of the tent.

“You left it in the wagon. Besides, your lesson is not over.” Ishea stated.

“I can barely hold this sword upright. I’m pretty sure I’m done with it for tonight.”

“Have you tried making it lighter?” She asked him.

“Make it lighter?” Glyph said furrowing his brow at the thought. “I can do that?”

“Of course you can. Care to give it a try?”

Glyph hesitated as he stared down at the sheathed sword in his hand.

“Typically, wizards do not need the physical strength of soldiers or skilled laborers; we have magic for that. A true master might argue that a wizard needs no weapon at all, however even I find them useful from time to time, especially in war.” Ishea told him.

He really didn’t want to look at the sword, let alone handle it right at this moment, but Ishea had intrigued him and he relented. “Alright. Fine, what do I have to do?”

Now Ishea moved toward him. “Pull the blade, and hold it out in front of you.” Glyph did as he was instructed, though his arm felt the weight of it instantly. “Good. Now close your eyes. Do you remember the ball?”

Glyph thought a moment. “Yes.”

“It is similar to the ball. First I want you to think of the sword as an extension of your arm. Let your mind enter the sword through your arm. Because it is your arm, you are in control of it.” She said as she moved in beside him.

A moment later the sword blade turned molten red. “Very good. Now imagine the sword as a thin reed. Push your thoughts of the thin reed through your arm and into the sword.” Ishea watched as the blade began to rise upward with Glyph’s arm. “Excellent. Open your eyes.”

Glyph stared at the sword in awe. “Is this some kind of mind trick?” Glyph asked. “It really does feel lighter.”

“It is magic, Glyph. Your magic.” Ishea informed him.

“This is incredible!” Glyph said as he waved the blade around the tent. “Will I have to do this every time I use it?”

“At first, yes. But considering it took most of us months to learn, and only a few minutes for you, I would have to believe it will be virtually automatic by the third or fourth time you try.” She said, and smiled again. After a few more minutes of swinging it about Glyph sheathed the sword, and was slightly shocked when the full weight of the blade returned as soon as he took his hand from the hilt.

Glyph yawned. “That was awesome.”

“Indeed.” Ishea stated and stifled a yawn of her own. “Unfortunately, wizards need their sleep as well. I will return before your hour, if you still wish it?”

“Yes, please.” Glyph replied. She nodded her understanding, and went to leave. “Ishea?”

She stopped and turned to face him at the tents entrance. “Yes?”

“You said you still use a weapon in times of war. What is it?”

Ishea giggled. “Well, I do use a sword in battle, but this is my best friend.” In a quick flash of motion a dagger flew from her boot and appeared in her hand. “When used with magic…” Ishea said as she tossed the knife into a spin that was so fast it resembled a blurry circle, and hovered beside her in thin air. “…A dagger can be as beautiful…” With a quick thrust of her arm she plucked the spinning handle from the air with her hand in a perfect fighting grip. “…As it is deadly. Take that fly for instance.” She then flipped the knife and launched it toward the insect. Glyph watched as the knife dipped, turned in mid-air, and spun back on itself before pinning the fly point first into the wooden scaffolding of the tent.

“Now that was impressive.” Glyph said, staring at her with awe.

“Thank you.” She replied, and with a flick of her wrist, the knife wiggled itself free from the wood and flew back to her hand. Keeping her eyes locked on Glyph, she dropped it point-first into the hidden sheath on the side of her boot. “Until morning.” She said and shot him a look that made his heart feel as if it would melt in his chest. Then with a quick turn, she stepped through the tent flap into the night.

Glyph placed his sword onto a chair and lay down on his cot. It wasn’t long before visions of the day’s events came to haunt his sleep, and though afraid at first, he eventually succumbed to exhaustion.

Ishea woke him early the next day with breakfast. Glyph found he could talk a bit more about what Simeon’s hex had done to him the previous morning. Ishea was very patient and explained it all clearly. It was hard to believe that what happened hadn’t been his fault when he was the one who had swung the sword. Ishea assured him that she had explained thoroughly to the wounded men that he had been hexed by a demon, and that they held no grudge against him. Believing her when she said that the families of those he had slain would also understand was a bit harder, but did make him feel better.

After they finished eating, Ishea set up her table of healing concoctions, herbs, and such on the table next to his bed, and Glyph lay in wait for what his next hour would hold. Soon the winds swept in, the air vanished, and he disappeared in the descending darkness.

The Hour – Chapter 11

Chapter 11

 

Glyph awoke with a gasp, again taking several seconds to orient himself.

“That’s right. I’m in the mountains, the mountains.” He repeated the thought several times. The headache was back. Rubbing his temples, he sat up. His body was slightly stiff, but at least his leg felt healed.

Glyph shimmied from his niche and stood up to get his bearings straight, when he heard a large ‘clang’. The sound made him panic, even as he saw the sword and scabbard lying at his feet. A wave of relief passed over him while his eyes widened in amazement at the sight of it.

“Son of a bitch.” He choked out through gritted teeth as he plucked his long sword from the rocky ground. Glyph stared at it dumbfounded for several seconds. He turned the sword over in his hands, and even unsheathed the blade to make sure it was the same one. Then, reaching for the necklace, he found it securely tied around his neck, black rock and all.

“Fuck me.” He thought. “This changes everything. If I can bring the sword and the necklace here then…” Glyph was suddenly chilled to the bone. “…then the other world is not just a dream, it’s real too!”

Glyph glanced around quickly, then belted on the sword. He pulled out his pistol, loaded it with some bullets, and tucked it back into his waistband. He reached over to the shotgun and loaded it with three more shells, then propped it against a rock. Shifting to one side, he swung the high-powered rifle off his back and loaded it as well. Glyph noticed his ammo was running low, and he made a mental note to start conserving. Slipping the rifle back onto his shoulder, he stooped down and picked up his duffle bag. There wasn’t much left inside. Some of the smaller items were missing, and sticking his finger through the bullet hole in the side of the bag, it became clear where they had gone.

“That was close, too damn close.” Glyph reached inside, pulled out his pack of smokes, and lit one up. Then he picked up the shotgun, walked through the woods a little ways, and started up the abandoned logging road. He rested his hand on the hilt of his sword as he walked, and couldn’t help but think of what this new revelation might mean. His senses had always told him that what had been happening to him was real, but now his mind was joining in. It wasn’t about whether one world was real, and the other wasn’t anymore. Now it had to be all or nothing. He was either completely mad, or this was really happening.

Glyph’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted when he heard a strange thumping noise. He scanned the area quickly but saw nothing; then he caught a red glow out of the corner of his eye. It was the necklace! The rock had changed from black to red and was getting brighter by the second. The thumping noise kept getting louder too, and Glyph began to trot up the rutted path; then he began to run. Whatever it was, he knew it wasn’t good, and it was definitely following him. ‘There’s no animal in these mountains that can shake the ground like that. What was it that Ishea had said about the necklace?’ He asked himself. ‘An indicator of evil?’ Glyph could only think of one thing that could be evil and made that kind of noise, but it just wasn’t possible; not here.

As he topped the ridgeline, the old road he had been following ended abruptly, and he paused to catch his breath. There were large slabs of flat rock up here, and Glyph began to race across them heading away from the noise, which was still gaining on him. Soon it became clear to Glyph that outrunning it was not an option. As he raced down a small hill, Glyph spied a thicket of waist-high bushes and dove into the middle of them. Rolling onto his back, he pumped the shotgun and rested the barrel on his bent knees. Glyph tried desperately to control his heavy breathing as he waited.

The thumping came closer and then slowed to a stop some twenty feet away. Then Glyph heard the voice, and he knew instantly who it was.

“Glyphsss. I knowsss you are heresss, Glyphsss. Massstersss wantsss to talksss, Glyphsss. Sssimeon needsss to tellsss you.” Simeon spoke to the general vicinity.

Glyph lay there silently while a flood of memories washed over him from his torture. The pain, agony, and fear he had felt under Simeon’s hand nearly paralyzed him now as Glyph fought back the waves of emotion. Glyph focused on the grass around him, and the sky overhead.  This was not Simeon’s cave, and he was not strapped helplessly to a table. He ran his finger along the trigger of the shotgun, and got angrier by the second.

Then, in one massive thrust, he jumped to his feet, leveling the shotgun at Simeon’s chest. Simeon turned and squared off towards Glyph, his long snake-like neck and head slowly bobbing up and down. Even hunched as he was, he was still at least ten feet tall, and his scaly muscular arms and legs were the size of tree trunks.

“What!?” Glyph shouted angrily, his hands and arms trembling with rage and fear. “What does that fucker want to say to me?” He found himself yelling.

“Massstersss wantsss to tellsss you. Massstersss can helpsss you ssstay in your worldsss, Glyphsss. Massstersss can makesss it likesss nothssingsss happenedsss.” Simeon spat out.

“Like nothing happened!” Glyph screamed. “Just like that! You think you can erase everything you’ve done to me for the last six months!?” He was beginning to lose himself to hysterics, and fought to maintain control.

“Notsss me. Drathussss.” The demon replied.

Glyph forced himself to breathe, as his trigger finger twitched reflexively.

“That’s a very interesting offer.” Glyph lied, barely able to contain himself. “What’s he want from me?”

“Jusstsss to letsss himss do itsss.” Simeon replied, taking a few steps closer to Glyph.

He shook his head in disgust, as his eyes started to fill with water. “No.” Glyph declared.

Simeon turned his head slightly. “Glyphsss ssshouldsss lissstensss to Massstersss.”

“You tell Drathus he can go fuck himself!” Glyph screamed as something in his mind snapped. “Better yet, I’ll tell him for you!”

Glyph pulled the trigger and the blast ripped into Simeon’s chest, making the demon step back and howl. Glyph rushed forward while pumping the shotgun, and let another blast off into the demon’s torso. Simeon’s shriek was deafening. Trembling violently, Glyph popped off his third shell point blank, the force of it knocking the demon off balance. Bits of Simeon’s black blood filled the air as the creature caught itself with one hand and pushed back onto its feet. The demon smacked at its chest and howled in pain.

Glyph tossed the empty gun and ran like hell, pulling his pistol as he went. Simeon recovered quicker than Glyph had hoped, and was now stomping after him like a wild elephant. The demon’s gimp leg was the only thing keeping it from catching up to him. Glyph ran along the ridge rock looking for some advantage in the surrounding terrain, but saw nothing. He ran through a bunch of scraggly pine trees, and found himself on the edge of a cliff some thousand feet high. Glyph turned right and ran along the edge. Casting a quick glance back, he saw the pines snap like toothpicks and fly over the edge, but Simeon turned right, growling and biting at the air as he followed.

Glyph turned away from the cliff and began to move down the side of the mountain. He rounded a large boulder and skidded to a stop. Back peddling, he pressed himself up against it just as Simeon stormed by, also sliding to a stop. Simeon glanced left, then right, and turned around. Glyph began shooting into Simeon’s head as the demon rushed up toward him. On the fourth shot a red energy barrier sprang up around the demon, and on the fifth shot Simeon backhanded Glyph, sending him sailing twenty feet through the air onto the ground beside a fallen tree. The impact of Simeon’s hand broke Glyph’s arm, and the ground cracked several ribs. Glyph couldn’t breathe, but adrenaline made him stand and run. With the wind knocked out of him, he only made it about forty feet or so before he collapsed, fighting to get a breath. He turned to look for Simeon, and saw it picking its way closer. Simeon was moving much slower now and appeared to have its eye dangling from the deep socket in its head. The demon’s body was stained with black blood.

Glyph began to see sparkling lights and blackness spotting his vision. He was about to lose consciousness when suddenly he inhaled violently, bringing him back to his senses, and also causing excruciating pain in his ribs. He coughed several times and climbed to his feet. The pistol and rifle were nowhere to be seen, so with his good arm he drew out his sword. The blade was white now, and hot, as if it had just been pulled from the forge. He could even feel the heat radiating off on the backs of his hands.

When Simeon was about twenty feet away, it raised one arm, and fire burst out onto its palm. Glyph raised his sword and took a step back, but was unable to dodge the fireball the demon threw at him. Screaming as the fire engulfed him, Glyph dropped to one knee and closed his eyes. As the light of the fireball diminished, Glyph opened his eyes and realized he was not harmed. He began to laugh, even though it hurt. Glyph stood back up and started to limp towards Simeon.

“Fuck you! You fucking fucker!” Glyph screamed, waving the sword menacingly. Shock was starting to set in.

Simeon spat a glob of bloody mucus on the ground. “SssMalik-tae.” It swore at Glyph, at least that’s what it sounded like. Glyph felt tingly as he watched the demon attempt to muster another fireball, but it fizzled in a small shower of sparks, and Simeon fell to his hands and knees. A thick trail of black blood stretched out behind him, and nearly its whole body was slick with the foul-smelling liquid.

“You think you can just show up, and I’ll listen to you? Do you think I’m that stupid, that you could torture me for six months, and I’ll still do what you say? You piece of shit! You had no intention of making things right again! Like nothing ever happened, my ass! Drathus sent you here to kill me, didn’t he?” Glyph demanded. When Simeon didn’t respond Glyph rammed his sword up to the hilt into the demon’s side. “Didn’t he?!” Glyph yelled over the demon’s cries of torment. Glyph withdrew the sword and stared at the dark greenish-black blood on the blade, then he grinned widely as he heard Simeon’s whimper. “Now it’s my turn, you fucking bastard!” He shouted. Glyph sliced through Simeon’s left arm in one swing, severing it at the elbow. Simeon howled and flopped on its face, its sizzling stump black and bubbly.

“How’s it feel, Simeon?!” Glyph shouted over the demon’s shrieks. Side-stepping the fallen limb, he sliced through Simeon’s left leg mid-thigh. “How do you like me now, bitch?” Glyph spat. Simeon’s cries became choked with blood. “If I had the time, I would make you suffer!” Glyph yelled as he flayed a massive chunk of flesh off the demon’s back, causing it to turn onto its side and face him. “But I don’t.” He continued, as he ran the red-hot sword in and out of Simeon’s chest wounds like a pincushion. The creature’s body began to convulse as Glyph walked around its one good arm, and with a flick of his sword filleted open the entire length of its forearm. Black blood was everywhere as Glyph casually walked up towards the creature’s head and pinned the writhing demon’s neck to the ground with his foot. One glance at his watch told Glyph it was time to end it. He didn’t want to, and if he could, he would have tortured Simeon for weeks. He would just have to be satisfied with its death.

Bending down, Glyph stared into Simeon’s good eye. “When you see Drathus in hell, tell him I fucking sent you!” Glyph yelled, and swung the sword down, cleaving Simeon’s long neck and head from his body. Blood gushed out onto the ground as the severed head rolled a few times down the hill. It writhed about like a worm that had been chopped in two for half a minute before it slowed and came to a rest. Glyph couldn’t help but relish the moment. Not only was it justice, but it was administered by his own hand.

The smell of burnt flesh hung in the air. Glyph stumbled backwards, tripped over a rock, and fell onto his back. “It’s real! It’s all fucking real!” He shouted at the tree tops. Glyph began to laugh hysterically as his watch chimed. The wind swept through the trees in a matter of seconds and when it passed over him, all the air was sucked away. A moment later the darkness descended around him like a black curtain…

 

…Glyph awoke, gasped for air, and continued to laugh through his own pain. Opening his eyes, he saw Ishea standing over him. Her eyes blazed purple, and a soft blue light surrounded her hands as she held them over his chest and arm.

“Simeon is dead.” Glyph managed to get out before exhaustion overwhelmed him and he passed out.

The Hour – Chapter 10

Chapter 10

 

Glyph’s eyes popped open, and he let out a long rumbling groan. Ishea was once again moving her hands over his leg where the bullet had ripped through his thigh muscle, and a servant was holding his leg straight and immobile as she worked.

Ishea let out a long sigh when she noticed him conscious again. “Oh, Glyph.” She said and shook her head. “What was it this time? What type of weapon can make such a clean entrance wound? Was it some type of spear?” She questioned him as she finished her ministrations.

Glyph just stared at her. “A gun.” He said and paused, catching the strange look on her face. “You don’t know what that is, do you?”

“I am sorry, I do not.”

“It’s a device that can shoot a piece of metal into your body over a long distance.” Glyph tried to explain.

“Like an arrow?” She questioned.

Glyph nodded. “Only about ten times faster, and the metal flattens on impact so that it can cause the most damage. It’s also much more accurate.”

Ishea looked appalled. “Did the necklace go with you?” she asked as she packed away a small bag of herbs and potions.

“I’m afraid not,” he said, unconsciously touching the rock. Ishea appeared upset, but said nothing.

Sitting up, Glyph swung his legs over the cot and stood up, immediately regretting his decision as long throbbing pains swept through his left leg.

“No, no.” Ishea called out and helped ease him back into a sitting position. “Your leg, especially the left one, has taken a great deal of abuse in the last two days. Even my healing powers cannot work if you continue to sustain these injuries. You need a complete recovery, several weeks of bed rest at least, and, and…” Ishea stopped short. Her hands fell atop her bag of healing herbs, her eyes teared up and she turned away from him.

“It’s not like I have any control over this, you know.” Glyph stated.

“I know, I did not mean it in that way. It is just that I am frustrated that I cannot do more to help you. I fear that Drathus will succeed in having you killed, and I will not be able to stop it from happening.” She said and sniffed.

“At least you give me a fighting chance. If it weren’t for you I’d have returned to a body riddled with dog bites. I’d have bled to death.” Glyph told her.

Ishea wiped a tear from her cheek, smiled slightly and gave a curt laugh. “Ironic, I think. If Simeon knew that the alteration he made to the curse to allow your physical wounds to transfer actually helped me to save your life…well, I do not believe it would be very happy, if demons are even capable of such an emotion.”

Glyph didn’t know how to respond so he sat there silently.

“Anyway.” Ishea suddenly proclaimed, moving to the other side of the tent. “I have arranged for you to be carried by wagon. I believe riding a horse is out of the question at this time.”

Glyph nodded his agreement. He sat and watched the tent being emptied by porters, until they finally carried him out to a covered wagon as soldiers struck the tent and began packing it away.

The wagon was comfortable enough; there were pillows for cushions, and flaps that could be opened for light or for fresh air. Glyph situated himself as Ishea climbed in after him. The wagon lurched forward into a steady even roll. Glyph wondered why Ishea chose to ride with him instead of on her own horse, but was glad for the company.

“I would like you to try something, Glyph.” Ishea said, breaking the silence.

“Sure, what do you got?” asked Glyph.

Ishea pulled a small round ball out of her pocket. “It is more of a game. Here, try to sit up.” she said, offering her hand to Glyph.

Glyph grabbed her hand and pulled himself up into a sitting position. The pain in his leg was starting to subside.

“Alright. Now, I am going to hold the ball here in front of me,” Ishea explained to him, while she extended her arm, with the ball stationed on the palm of her hand. “I want you to close your eyes, and tell me everything about the ball.”

Glyph did as he was instructed, and described the color and shape of the ball.

“Now I want you to concentrate on the position of the ball on my hand. Keep your eyes closed. Do you see it with your mind?” She asked.

“Yes.” Glyph replied.

“Good, now I want you to imagine that your mind is surrounding the ball.”

Glyph turned his head slightly. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Imagine that the air and currents around the ball are projecting from your mind; because they are from your mind, you can control them.”

“Okay I think I got that, now what?” Glyph asked.

“Look at the ball in your mind, and open your eyes.”

Glyph opened his eyes to see the ball suspended in the air in front of him. He glanced at Ishea, and back to the ball. “I’m doing that.” He said, making the ball spin in place. He moved the ball toward his open hand and plucked it from the air. Glyph’s right eyebrow rose as he examined the ball closely.

Ishea was grinning as wide as a river, and a tear rolled down her cheek. “Yes Glyph, yes, and you have extraordinary talent.” She wiped off the tear and chuckled. “It took me several months to do that.”

“What else can I do?” Glyph asked curiously.

“Anything you want. The power is in you. Your only limitation is dependent upon your physical stamina and the limit of your imagination.” Ishea spoke as if reciting from a manual.

“So I can create things too?”

“Yes, just keep in mind that you must take responsibility for anything you create. The larger your creation, the harder it will be to give it substance. Anything complex will take some study to master, and will also be harder to create.” Ishea told him.

Glyph had closed his eyes again, and was concentrating very hard. Ishea looked at him and wondered. Glyph reached out his hand and there appeared a beautiful white lily.

“For you, My Lady.” Glyph said as he handed the flower to Ishea.

“Thank you, Sire.” she said as she shook the shocked expression from her face and took the flower from Glyph. They both laughed again. “Very well done.” Ishea smelled the flower. “You only forgot one thing.” She said, smiling at Glyph again.

“What’s that?”

“There is no smell.” She said, extending the flower for Glyph to smell.

“Your right, I guess it is a bit hard to create things.”

They laughed again, and spent the rest of the morning practicing until the wagon began to slow finally coming to a stop. Toban stuck his head in and informed them it was time to eat.

“Excellent. I’d like to have that tapestry hung in my tent. I want to take another look at it.” Glyph said.

Toban nodded and left. Glyph moved to the back of the wagon with Ishea’s help and then scooted on his backside to the edge for the short hop to the ground. The king’s dining tent was almost erected as Glyph and Ishea made their way the short distance to it. Glyph couldn’t help but think of his new-found power, and its implications. On one hand, he couldn’t wait to try doing something else, and on the other wondered if he should indulge in this fantasy, that could end at any moment. They waited politely for the porters to finish tying the lashings of the canvas to the tent’s wooden framework before they entered. A table and chairs were brought in along with the Tapestry, which was quickly hung in the back of the tent. Glyph stared at it in amazement. The scene had changed again, this time quite drastically.

The old view was gone. In its place was a view of a mountain pass. The armies of men were on the high ground laying in wait for the forces of evil. The Demon leader stood in the middle of the pass nose to nose with the leader of men. Both appeared to be fighting. Glyph took note of the pass and the placement of the armies, and realized it was a depiction of his plan.

“You must be Drathus.” Glyph thought, looking at the Demon Lord. He was dressed in a black metallic armor that looked more like stone, and a brilliant hot plume of fire shot out of the top of his crown-like helmet. Thick coils of black smoke billowed near the top of the flames. Glyph’s eye was drawn back to the flames, and he moved in closer to inspect them.

“It’s moving! I can see the yellow and orange threads moving to make the fire.” Glyph almost yelled.

“Flame is constantly animated; for the Tapestry to show you a scene it merely slows time to an instant. Flame can change in the course of an instant.” Ishea commented as she walked over to the table. Servants were now bringing in plates of food.

Glyph couldn’t tear himself away from studying the Tapestry. He even took to viewing it from different angles to make sure he wasn’t missing something.

“Glyph, you should eat something. Your health is not perfect just because you feel better.” Ishea said from the table.

Satisfied, he turned away and went to join her. He sat down rather solemnly, and began to eat. There were two things he didn’t like about the scene. The first was that Drathus and he were the only two who were fighting; the second was that there was no sign of King Rokka and his men.

“Well?” Ishea finally asked. “What does it look like?”

“Hmm. Oh, it’s a view of The Pass. The armies are fighting. It looks like a pretty even fight.” Glyph casually tried to answer. He wasn’t sure why, but he liked knowing something she didn’t for once. Before she had a chance to ask to see his mind again, Glyph changed the subject.

“We should contact Rokka; I want to make sure he understands our situation.”

“It is the polite thing to do.” Ishea said.

Glyph shot her a look, and went back to his eating. As soon as the table had been cleared, Ishea brought out the Divinare crystal and placed it on the table.

“You have seen the map. You have a pretty good idea King Rokka would be in Deltur. This time I want you to find him.” Ishea instructed.

“But I don’t know how to do that.” Glyph said, putting his hands next to the crystal.

“It is rather simple once you know how. First you picture the map, then you concentrate on Deltura, and then on Deltur. As you picture the city, look at the larger buildings. If one of these is a palace or a fortress, then concentrate on that. As the building gets larger you will start to see people; find the one that looks like a king and concentrate on him. If he is the right man, you will appear to him; if not you will be pushed back to the view of the building. To come all the way back, pull your hands from the crystal.” Ishea stared at him blankly. “Did you get that?” she asked, smirking.

“Yeah, I got it.” Glyph replied, wondering what she was about to get him involved in. Glyph placed his hands on the crystal and did as Ishea said. After six cases of mistaken identity, he found himself in a great hall with King Rokka sitting on a throne about twenty feet in front of him. There were several other people there, obviously awaiting an audience with the King. Glyph walked a few feet towards Rokka and bowed; all eyes were on his glowing form.

“I am King Glyph, Your Majesty. I apologize for the intrusion, but I must speak with you.”

“I received your message this morning. I was beginning to think you quite mad, now this.” Rokka said, staring at the aura surrounding Glyph. “I have done as you requested. A great many of my ancestors perished at Drathus’s hand during the first war. I am certain I should return the favor.”

“I’m so glad you’ve decided to join us. Kahula, Lukret, and I are going to meet tomorrow at Muret. We plan on discussing the coming attack. I will keep you informed of the details personally.” Glyph said

“I would love to meet with you, King Glyph, but it would appear I have much work to do. Our ships are fast, but we have never mounted such a large attack force to sea before. I estimate a day to sail to Degruthra, and another two or three to reach the pass, if we can get to it. There is no known map of the wastelands, nor do we know anything about their defenses, if they even have any.”

“I understand your position, and there are still details to work out as we go, but there is one thing I’m sure of; Drathus won’t be prepared to handle an attack on both fronts. You and your men will give us the edge we need, even if you don’t make it through their defenses in time to join us.”

“I still believe you may yet be mad, King Glyph, but we are prepared to sail into the jaws of hell anyway.” Rokka jested. “We should have all of our ships loaded, and in the water by tomorrow. Check in again in the morning and I will give you an update.”

“I will do that King Rokka, and thank you for your support.” Glyph said, bowing slightly.

“Thank me when we meet over Drathus’s dead body.” Rokka replied, laughing.

With that, Glyph pulled his hands away from the crystal and the flash faded from his eyes.  He glanced at Ishea, who was sitting and smiling.

“Outstanding, Glyph!” she said in awe. “You are truly adept.”

“Thanks. It did take several tries.” Glyph said humbly.

“Do not underestimate yourself, you have shown incredible promise.”

The flap of the tent pulled to one side and Toban entered.

“Excuse the interruption; we have just received a message from Priam.” Toban reported.

“What is it, Toban?” Glyph asked curiously.

“It is from Verto, High Priest of Priam.” Toban said, as he read the label on the outside of the small scroll and handed it to him.

Glyph opened it and read:  “As war appears imminent, so too does the peace and cooperation between all of our nations. As it appears to us, so does it appear to Drathus. I believe he is planning to strike, and soon. We have massed our forces to the north of Priam, and the seers of Toleth’va stand ever watchful. I may not attend your conclave at Muret for I fear to be away when Drathus attacks. I send you blessings, and pray you see fit to come and fight against the evil here, before it comes to you there.”

Glyph rolled the parchment up, and handed it back to Toban. “Let’s get moving.” Toban acknowledged Glyph’s order with a curt nod and walked back out. Glyph sighed, and looked back at Ishea. “Should I pay this High Priest a visit?”

“What do you think, King Glyph?” Ishea responded.

Glyph couldn’t help but notice she used his whole title. He sat back down at the table and placed his hands onto the crystal. It took several tries again. This time the mountain itself proved to be hard to navigate, with multiple levels and thousands of rooms. Eventually he found himself in a hallway carved straight from the mountain which was very reminiscent of Kivas. A heavy-looking wooden door stood to his right, and Glyph pushed his head through first for a quick look.

There was a man in a long crimson robe kneeling before an altar with his back to Glyph. Upon the altar was a tightly bundled infant. The baby was hard to make out, but Glyph was certain he had seen a tiny hand move out and back into the blanket that swaddled the child. Verto was speaking words that Glyph could not understand and appeared to be performing a ritual that he read from a leather bound book. A small fire burned in a pit off to one side providing the light for the room, and a tiny pot behind the altar sent wafts of yellow smoke into the air. He watched a few more seconds, and became convinced it was a type of baptism. Glyph scanned the interior of the room for anyone else who might also be involved but realized that Verto and the child were the only two people present. Deciding it would be best not to interrupt, Glyph pulled himself back into the hall, and withdrew his hands from the Divinare crystal.

“Could you not find him?” Ishea asked as she stared at the perplexed look on Glyph’s face.

“I did, but he was in the midst of performing some religious ceremony, and I didn’t think I should interrupt him.”

“Oh. It is good that you did not. I failed to mention that there are certain protocols that should be followed regarding the use of the crystal and other people’s privacy. Since the visited does not know when or where you might appear, it is up to the user of the Divinare to make sure their privacy is not violated.” Ishea explained as she packed the crystal away. “You would not want to appear to someone who was bathing for instance. You were right not to interfere with Verto’s ritual.”

“Yeah, I see how that could happen. So, what should I do about Verto?” Glyph asked.

“You can always try again later. If not, we are marching to Priam, and Verto knows this. You could introduce yourself when we get there.” She replied.

Glyph nodded and turned around to look at the Tapestry. This time it showed a vast wasteland, filled with Drathus’s minions; the size of force represented there was staggering. “Pack it up, it’s time to go.” He said when two servants came up beside him. “I don’t want to see that anyway.” He thought aloud, as he turned to exit the tent.

Ishea walked him back to his cart. Glyph reached in and grabbed his sword and buckled it on. He then put on the chain mail tunic, and placed his crown on his head. He had no intention on riding the rest of this trip in a wagon and, as if reading his mind, a guard was bringing his horse by the time he turned around. Glyph mounted O’dista and waited as Ishea slipped onto her own horse, then they rode to the front and began to lead the march.

“Verto mentioned the seers of Toleth’va in his message. Who are they?” Glyph asked Ishea.

“The monks at Toleth’va live in a monastery on the side of the mountain. It is said that some possess the power of extraordinary sight. Some can see a bird in a tree several leagues away, and some are said to see through the mountains themselves.” Ishea told him.

“So they could see when Drathus was about to launch his attack, and the size of his army?”

“Conceivably yes, though there has been little proof to support their claims.” She said.

“Verto is the High Priest. Does that mean Priam has no King?”

“Correct.” she said, shifting her hair from her face with a slight toss of her head. “Priam is ruled by a religious sect. They answer to the High Priest; it has worked for their culture for thousands of years.”

“How long to Muret?” Glyph asked Toban as he rode up from behind.

“We will reach the Pylon that leads to the Great Lake by sundown, and camp there. Then we will ride through the portal, around the lake, and into Muret in by afternoon. We have also received news that King Kahula and his army are crossing the Mother River as we speak, which puts them a half day behind us.” Toban reported.

“Looks like we’ll have our little meeting tomorrow after all.” Glyph remarked.

The rest of the day was uneventful, and the sun was just starting to set as they made camp at the Pylon. The Pylon turned out to be a large stone obelisk; Ishea explained that it acted as a transportation device that would allow them to pass over a hundred leagues to the north and re-appear just south of the Great Lake near Muret. Glyph was intrigued, and Ishea promised to show him how it worked when he returned from his hour the next morning.

Glyph had made the suggestion earlier that he should really learn how to fight with a sword. Toban had taken it as a personal request, and showed up at Glyph’s tent to give him his first lesson. Within an hour the pair were sparring in the flickering torchlight.

“You have great skill, Glyph.” Toban said when they were finished.

“I keep hearing that.” he replied, smiling. “So, what do you think our chances are, against Drathus I mean?”

“They are what they are. We stand a better chance as a united force than we do alone, and far better to fight him at The Pass, than to wait for him to come to our homes.” Toban replied.

“What if we’re still outnumbered?”

“It makes little difference. Here or there, now or then, we will still fight, regardless. It is really just a matter of preference, and gaining the upper hand.” Toban said quietly, and then added as an afterthought. “Your plan is sound.”

“Thanks, Toban.” Glyph said, feeling strangely reassured.

“It was an honor, Glyph. Shall we resume tomorrow?” Asked Toban.

“I’ll be sure to find the time.” Glyph replied.

Toban gave a short bow and left. Glyph walked over to view the Tapestry once more before turning in for the night. Now it displayed a scene of seven robed sorcerers, pursuing Drathus and his forces as they ran toward some mountains in the distance. It was obviously a scene from the first war, and he found himself wondering which one was Ishea. Finally he turned away, put up his sword, and crawled into bed. He still felt a little weak from his previous injuries, and hoped that some sleep would take care of it.

Glyph awoke the next morning to servants bringing in food and drink. He sat up on the edge of the cot as Ishea entered.

“How do you feel?” Ishea greeted him.

“Still a bit sore around the edges.” Glyph replied, probing his left leg.

“Try to take it easy on them. Your injuries need time to heal completely.”

“Yeah, tell that to the evil fuckers who attack me all the time.”

“I am sorry Glyph, that is not…you know what I meant.” She said.

“I know, I know, it’s just hard to keep doing this over and over again. It gets old, not to mention the whole ‘life and death’ aspect of it.”

They ate, as usual, in polite silence after that. Once they had finished, Ishea went to leave, but Glyph stopped her.

“I’d feel a lot better if you stayed.” He said.

“Of course.” she replied, and took a seat beside the bed. Glyph laid down, and tried to relax.

“Ishea?”

“Yes, Glyph?” she replied.

“Thanks.”

Ishea smiled. Glyph reached over and grabbed his sword, holding it close once again, and tried to clear his mind. ‘The source of your power comes from your belief that it will work.’ he remembered Ishea telling him. Glyph willed himself to relax, then set his mind to believe without a doubt that his sword and necklace would come with him this time. He repeated it over and over in his mind until the air was stripped away, and the tent went dark once more.

The Hour – Chapter 9

Chapter 9

Glyph opened his eyes and sat up. The first thing he noticed was that he was covered in blood; some fresh, some dried, and in assorted red hues. Turning, he saw several dog carcasses and a thick trail of intestine strewn across the dirt, drawing flies. The smell of it was still in the air, as well as on his face.

He unwrapped the red-stained shirt from around his arm. The scars were still there and all his wounds felt a bit worse for wear, but overall not too bad considering a dozen possessed dogs had mauled him. It looked as if Ishea was right, her healing had transferred; not in time to do him any good, but it was better than coming back to a body that was bleeding out and dying.

Grabbing his knife off the ground beside him, he cut the tourniquet from his leg. His numb leg slowly started to come alive, and Glyph rolled over, waiting for the tingly pain to subside. After several moments, he slowly got to his feet, and visually checked the area at the same time. He tried scraping the dried dog intestine from his face, but he could only manage what his nails could dislodge. It would have to wait until he found some water. Sheathing his knife, Glyph grabbed the blood soaked shirt and tried to stretch it out over a nearby log. It took several attempts at unfolding and stretching before he could actually pull the nasty garment onto his head. He tried not to gag as he did so, but the feel of dried crusty blood on his chest made his skin crawl. The shirt was about two inches shorter now from having cut it off in order to fashion a tourniquet for his leg. Glyph buffed the offal off his watch face with his sleeve, then slid the bag off over his head and peered inside. He had already used his spare shirt, but there was a pair of jeans. A minute later he had changed, and after finding a way to navigate the steep bank he had slid down, set about finding his gun.

At the top of the hill, Glyph searched for the pistol. The ground was littered with dead dogs, and as he walked further into the remains he saw that some of the dogs hadn’t died right away, but had attempted to crawl away. He couldn’t help but notice their nametags and different colored collars; they were only animals, but they didn’t deserve to die this way. Glyph considered burying them, but he just didn’t have enough time.

Just as the stench of the whole unpleasant scene reached his nose he spied the butt of the gun’s handle jutting out of a clump of grass to his left, and picked it up. Then, as if his memory had just returned, he reached up for the necklace, but it wasn’t there; neither was the sword. So much for that idea, he thought as he pulled some loose bullets from his pocket and re-loaded the gun. He decided to head out in the same direction, hoping to get as far away from the smell and the memory of the dead dogs as possible. Walking at a fast pace, he began his descent into a small gap between the mountains.

Glyph came upon a wide strip of grass and rock at the bottom of the gap. The mountain here had a strip of cleared vegetation in a 300-foot wide right-of-way going straight up and over the top of the mountain, with high-powered electrical towers. There was a dirt access road that ran beneath the towers that disappeared up over the ridge. He paused for a moment, considering his options, when he heard some voices below him. Thinking he’d be better off not coming into contact with anybody, he cut across the large grassy area and over the dirt road toward the tree line on the opposite side.

When he reached the trees, he stole a glance back down the hill and saw three men in hunting gear running up the road. As he watched, the one in the rear stopped and took aim, pointing his rifle right at Glyph.

Glyph ducked just as the crack of the rifle shot went off, and splinters of wood flew off the tree beside him. He rolled away from the tree, jumped up and darted into the forest.

“Fuck me!” he yelled as he plunged through the branches of several pine trees. As he ran, Glyph pulled his gun and cocked the hammer. It was all uphill, and for once he was glad he hadn’t bothered smoking a cigarette. The hunters were right behind him, and soon another shot rang out. Dead leaves flew up a few feet ahead of him, as Glyph instinctively dove onto the dirt. His heart was beating like a train at top speed when he leapt to his feet and started running again. Another shot rang out, but this time Glyph didn’t stop; he started moving left and right, zig-zagging his way to the crest of the steep hill. He was running on sheer adrenaline by the time he dove over the top of the ridge, just as two more blasts went off behind him. Glyph turned left and bolted along the ridgeline, keeping the crest between him and his pursuers.

He ran until he could hardly take another step, but then noticed a natural outcropping of rock ahead. As he got closer he saw that there was a gap between two large 10ft high boulders that made up another ridge of an even higher mountain. He ran between them and up the next bank a ways until he could work his way back to the gap, only now he was on top of the rock. Quickly crouching down, he looked back the way he had come, trying to stifle the sound of his heavy breathing. To his surprise one of the hunters was almost to the gap; the other two must have been moving slower.

Glyph waited until the man was passing between the two rocks, then jumped to his feet and popped off three rounds into the top of his pursuer’s head and neck. The man dropped to his knees. A steady fountain of blood spewed out of his neck, as he slumped face-first to the ground. Glyph could feel the adrenaline rush coursing through his veins as he ran back down the bank around the rock to the dead man’s body. Stuffing the pistol into his waistband, Glyph snatched a shotgun from the bloody corpse’s hands, reached into a bulging vest pocket, and grabbed a handful of shells. He pumped the shotgun one handed, while jamming the shells into his pocket.

Glyph finished up in time to see the other two hunters down a ways taking aim. Glyph dove forward down the embankment, and tucked into a roll as he heard the breeze of the bullets fly over his head. As soon as his feet came in contact with the ground, he twisted his body and scrambled back up the hill between the two rocks, pointing the shotgun behind him and firing a shot as he went. The force of the shotgun blast wrenched his wrist, but he managed to hold on to the weapon as he ran further up the hill. Two more shots rang out and the bag in his left hand jerked hard, but he kept running, dodging left and right.

Glyph stumbled upon a well-used deer path and began following it to make better time than crashing through the undergrowth. He could feel that the two men were still on his trail, even though he couldn’t see them now. Reaching the top of the mountain, the trees started getting sparser and there was more grass and bushes. The deer trail he was following got wider, and he began to hear the faint sound of running water from somewhere ahead of him. Completely out of breath, he limped along going slightly downhill now. Then through the trees he saw a large mountain lake, the kind left behind by melting glaciers. It was eerie to see a body of water that large on the top of a mountain, but he didn’t dare stop to enjoy the scenery. The path led to the waters edge, where a larger trail traveled around the shore in both directions, obviously man-made.

Glyph pumped the shotgun, turned to his left and began to trot down the path looking for a place to hide. As he passed around the side of the lake, the mountain rose up higher, making almost 40 ft of rock face just to the side of the trail, then it curved away in a semicircle creating a small grotto. He turned and followed the sheer wall of rock a few feet off the trail, and put his back to it. He propped the shotgun against the rock, made sure it was loaded to capacity, and then slid some more bullets into his pistol.

‘Mother Fuckers would have guns.’ he thought, taking a quick peep around the corner down the trail.
‘Here we go!’ he screamed in his mind as he saw the two men running down the trail towards him. Glyph jumped back, grabbed the shotgun and leveled it head-high at the trail. He squeezed himself as flat as possible to the wall and strained to listen. As the first man came into view, Glyph pulled the trigger, blasting the side of his head and shoulder. The force blew the hunter off the trail onto the bank of the lake; a fine mist of blood and gun smoke filled the air. Glyph pumped the next round into the chamber as the second man slowed, swung his body around and shot at Glyph from his hip. Glyph felt a sting in his left leg as he popped the next shell into his attacker’s chest, blowing him off his feet and onto his back. Glyph felt his leg give out and dropped to one knee, dropped the shotgun, and pulled out his revolver. He checked his leg through the fresh hole in his pants, and saw a chunk of his muscle the size of a nickel was missing from the side of his left thigh. The blood oozing out began to soak into his clean pair of blue jeans.

Glyph stood and limped towards the man. The anger of being hunted, mixed with the sick feeling he had from having to just kill them, put him near the verge of insanity. “You God damn fucking douche bag!” he screamed, and shot him two times in the head point blank. “You fucked up my jeans!” A line of blood splatter sprayed up onto Glyph’s face, and he pushed the pistol back into his pants. He bent down and picked up the dead man’s rifle and slung it over his shoulder, and stripped the corpse of its remaining bullets. Pulling out his knife, he cut off a length of the dead man’s shirt and quickly tied it around the wound on his leg. Glyph limped back to the wall and picked up the shotgun, then hobbled over to the body on the bank of the lake and gazed down at the raw hamburger that used to be the man’s face. Glyph let loose a cry of anguish, and struck him repeatedly in the side of his head with the butt of the shotgun until the skull cracked and brain seeped out like vanilla pudding. He dropped to the ground beside the man, panting and crying. After a moment, Glyph calmed down and removed the man’s hunting vest, and pulled it on over his own bloodstained shirt. Using the shotgun to push himself erect, Glyph wiped the sweat off his brow, and began to limp further down the trail.

He checked his watch. ‘Forty-one minutes. Damn.’ He thought.

As he rounded the far side of the lake he saw a stream flowing down from the large body of water, and followed it to a cliff where the water fell, cascading down about 20 feet. Getting away from the scene of the hunter’s murders became his sole focus, as shock took control of his mind. Glyph made his way down to the bottom of the waterfall and waded down the stream. The cold water felt good on his leg, and he could only hope that the water was masking his escape route. About a quarter mile down stream, Glyph stopped to rest. He removed his vest and placed it beside him. Then he took off the bloody rag he called a shirt, and began to try and clean it in the water. He scrubbed it over the rocks for nearly a minute, and wrung the rest of the water out. ‘It wasn’t a great job’, he thought as he slid back into the shirt, but at least it all felt the same now, very wet. He splashed some water onto his face in another attempt at ridding himself of the stench of dog gut caked in his hair and face. Glyph tried to ignore the throbbing pain in his leg and continued further along the stream. After about five minutes, he came across an old overgrown logging road and decided to follow it back up towards higher elevation. He made pretty good time considering his bum leg, and tried to put as much distance between him and the dead hunters as he possibly could.

Glyph started to search frantically for a place to stop and hide after half-limping, half-running up the old road for ten minutes. Just then, he saw another rock cliff through the trees. He left the road and pushed himself to the limit, knowing he was running out of time, fearing he may be discovered if his body wasn’t hidden well enough. Glyph got to the base of the cliff at the 58-minute mark, found a niche in the rock, crawled into it, and collapsed wheezing and gasping for air. The rock was cold and damp, but felt good against his aching body. He couldn’t move, his wounded leg burned with terrific pain, and he didn’t care. Glyph lay there for a minute, basking in the knowledge that he had made it, that he had survived, until the chiming of his wristwatch startled him. Then the wind came, the world around him turned into a vacuum, and light turned to darkness once again.

The Hour – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

 

Glyph awoke with a start. Ishea stood over him concentrating, her hands glowing bluish white as she attempted to heal his numerous wounds. It appeared the bleeding had stopped, but there was still a great deal of pain. As she finished with his leg and moved to his forearm, Glyph glanced down to see the blue light sinking into his wounds. The muscle began to knit itself together, and the punctures filled up. It was a truly bizarre feeling, and itched like hell.

Ishea finished with his shoulder several minutes later and sunk back down into the chair beside the bed. Glyph allowed himself a few more moments to soak in his surroundings; it was so calm and peaceful here in his chamber. Soon the spirit of peace began to give way to the tortured soul beneath.

“Dammit.” Glyph growled under his breath, and tried to sit up.

Ishea attempted to help him, but she too was rather worn out from her healing administrations. They both struggled for a moment until Glyph was finally propped up onto several cushions.

“What happened, Glyph?” Ishea questioned. “It was all I could do to try to keep up with your wounds.”

“That fucking bastard is messing with the animals now! I mean, what the fuck is wrong with that sick fucker, sending a bunch of dogs? They were pets for crying out loud! He must have gathered them from peoples’ homes in the valley.” Glyph said, disgusted. The turmoil began to boil in Glyph’s blood again.

“It is a most unhealthy possession. Animals are innocent; they do what they are made to do. To subvert them for an evil purpose…” Ishea faded off, shaking her head. “It is indeed troubling.”

“It’s fucking sick is what it is, and I’m going to make damn sure he pays for it. All of it!” Glyph grabbed a small empty tray and flung it across the room. Swinging his legs off the bed, he pulled himself to a sitting position. The pain of the movement made him cry out. “Fucker!”

Ishea made to help him, but he waved her away. Glyph forced himself to calm down; as he did he began to inspect his healed wounds. He made a gesture toward his leg and arm, “How did you know…?” Glyph asked, looking confused.

“Purely by chance. I had lost the clasp to my traveling cloak. Since I had worn it this morning when I came for breakfast, I returned to see if it had fallen off in here. That is when I noticed the wounds appearing on your arm.” Ishea sighed heavily and leaned forward in her chair. “I tried to heal your wounds, but the magic that places your body into stasis is very resistant. What may have normally taken me a minute or so to repair, took nearly a quarter hour. I hoped that I would be able to heal your wounds, and have that healing transfer to your world, but your healing was delayed. Everything I had done to heal your body in stasis took effect immediately upon your return.”

“So, you can’t heal me while I’m on Earth?” Glyph asked.

“Well, yes, just very slowly. Perhaps if you sustained injuries in the first few minutes of your hour, and I attempted to heal the wound on your body here… well I am not certain, but you might experience some improvement before your hour came to an end. I now see I will have to monitor your body closely during your hour.” Ishea explained patiently.

“Son of a bitch.” Glyph said, rubbed his arm, and laid back. “I guess now that I’m the king I get the royal treatment during my hour. Where were you yesterday when my back was in knots?”

“I had not realized it bothered you so. Had you said something about your pain I would have given you something for it.” Ishea said, concerned.

Glyph started to laugh, “I guess I just like to bitch.” He sat up again, this time much more fluidly, and surprisingly less painfully too. “Damn I’m glad that’s over.” He reached down and absently probed the bandage around his thigh. “Wow, I hardly feel a thing.”

“Your wounds will heal most rapidly, I have seen to that.” Ishea said standing up. “And the healing I performed while you were in stasis was not in vain. Once you returned it all took effect instantly, which allowed me to finish rather quickly.”

Glyph stood up and stretched, amazed at how fast the pain was vanishing. Then he stopped and turned quickly toward the tapestry. Walking slowly toward it he began to notice more changes. Now there were more soldiers in different forms of dress, all on the side of men. There were even large war machines in the distance. The leader of the men now held a sword in his hand.

“What gives with this thing, is it being replaced every time I’m asleep?” Glyph asked, touching the woven material.

“No. Has it changed?” Ishea replied, her eyes getting wider.

“Every day since I first saw it. At first I thought I just hadn’t noticed, but now there are definite changes.”

Ishea barely contained her excitement. She placed her hand to the material, closed her eyes, and whispered to it. Suddenly it flashed a brilliant blue then green color and faded back to normal. Ishea stepped back, astonished. “It is a living tapestry.” she said almost giddy. “It was thought that the last living tapestry hung in a museum in Muret.” She said again, rubbing her hand across the fabric.

“So it’s alive?”

“In a way, yes. A living tapestry will move and change to depict scenes from the past, present, or future, but it only reveals itself to its owner or creator. Even still, the power you must hold is great in order to see the change. You are indeed remarkable, Glyph, for no ordinary man can see it, even if it is in his possession. It has been here all this time and I have never realized it.” Ishea replied

“You mean you don’t realize it’s different then it was?”

“To me it looks the same as it always has.” she said staring at it in awe. “This is a wondrous thing. You must pay attention to it very closely, for it may show you things of the future that you may be able to use now. My master, Albast, had one in his study, and he used it to help defeat Drathus in the first war.”

“Was he one of the Seven?” Glyph asked.

Ishea was momentarily taken aback, and she looked at Glyph shrewdly “Albast was the first of the Seven. He was a great man, and a patient teacher.” Ishea drifted off as though caught up in some memory of him.

Glyph thought for a minute, then reached over and buckled on his sword. As an afterthought he picked up his crown and put it on. “We need to talk to Toban immediately. There are things that need to be done right away, and I have a few more questions to ask. Let’s go back to the library. I feel more comfortable there for some reason.”

With that, Ishea turned and led the way out of the room, stopping momentarily to have a servant summon Toban to meet them there. Shortly the three of them were seated around the table in the library, with a large map spread out before them.

“Okay, first of all, what is the status of our military?” Glyph asked Toban.

“Our army stands ready to march, Glyph.” Toban replied

“And what of the other kingdoms?”

“We sent messages by bird on the day of your arrival in Kivas apprising them of the situation. We have since received word from Deltur, Barjon, and Torlea. They have agreed to meet with us on the topic. We have had no word yet from Priam, but their kingdom is the furthest away.” Toban reported

Glyph looked at Ishea. “I have a feeling this is going to happen a lot sooner than anyone has predicted. Is there anyway we can have them come with their armies?”

“The other kingdoms will want to be informed fully and discuss alternatives before they order their armies to march.” Ishea said thoughtfully.

“What about Drathus, do we have any idea how he might launch his attack?”

“I believe he will mass his minions to the north of The Pass, and then move forward into Priam.” Toban said stoically.

“What about the sea? Couldn’t he sail down the coast and come through Deltur?” Glyph suggested.

“The strategy is sound, however most of what we know about the demons indicates they avoid water if at all possible. Some scholars have hypothesized that they may even be afraid of it. That aside, there is no evidence that the demons have any ship building capabilities or resources. Degruthra is a barren wasteland.” Ishea spoke as if she knew for certain.

“Time is of the essence here. If we can get our combined forces to Priam before Drathus enters the pass, we may be able to ambush him before he begins his attack.” Glyph said, becoming suddenly passionate.

“I do not believe there will be time, Glyph. Such an act would take months of logistical work, and that is only if you can get the other kings to agree to your plan.” Toban said, though the way his eyes brightened, Glyph could tell he was rather fond of a preemptive strike.

“Okay. Priam is already there, which means we only need to mobilize the other three. What are their strengths?” Glyph questioned.

“Well, the Barjons are a bit primitive, but they are the most ferocious warriors in the world.” Toban said, tapping his forefinger on the edge of the table. “Torleans are stout and strong, mostly farmers by trade, but every man is required to devote two years of his life in the king’s military service. I would say they have the most organized and well trained military. Delturans are seafarers. They are generally not too bright, but make up for it in brute strength. They stand by their word and are, for the most part, honorable.”

“What if we got the Delturans to sail up the coast, land in Degruthra, and come at them from behind as Drathus attempts to move his forces through The Pass? They could effectively block The Pass from retreat, while the rest of us pounded on them from the front.” Glyph suggested.

“Your plan is intriguing, but again, we would need to move now, and as it is we have not even met with the kings of the other nations to gain their support.” Toban said soberly.

“Then we shall lead by example.” Glyph said, grinning. “Toban, I want you to mobilize the troops. I want them on the march this afternoon.”

“But Glyph, the other kings are on their way here to…” Toban started.

“Then we will meet them on the way there. Send word to the Delturan king and advise him of our plan. Tell him to begin preparations at once, and that I will personally hold him responsible if he fails to do as I ask.” Glyph interrupted. “Oh, and make sure you tell him that the kings of Barjon and Torlea have already agreed to follow my banner. It probably wouldn’t hurt to mention the honor and glory of eradicating Drathus and his brood from the world.”

Toban’s face went from one of shock, to a broad grin from ear to ear. “Yes, Glyph, I will see to it right away.” He said, bowing. “My Lady.” he said to Ishea and left them alone.

Ishea looked stunned. “How do you know king Rokka will listen to you?” she asked Glyph.

“Does he have a choice? He obviously knows what I represent, and if he thinks that the rest of the world is going to duke it out with Drathus, he’s going to want in on it.” Glyph replied, smiling at her. “Now all we have to do is get Torlea and Barjon to commit. Priam isn’t going to refuse help in what they must see as defense of their kingdom. If only there was a way to meet with them in person today, on the off chance that Rokka decides to check things out first.”

“Perhaps there is a way,” Ishea said standing up from the table. “Follow me.”

She led him back to her quarters. It was obvious to Glyph when they got there that this was her permanent residence when she was at Kivas. Papers and books were stacked everywhere and more strange devices like the ones in her cabin were piled in the corners. She dug through some piles, and finally pulled out a large crystal set in an ornately carved silver base. Placing it on the table, she motioned for Glyph to sit down.

“I may be able to help you send a message to each of them. It will have to be brief.” Ishea said, moving to stand behind Glyph.

Glyph stared at the grapefruit-sized crystal. “With that?” He questioned.

“Yes Glyph, with that.”

Knowing Ishea’s temperament of late, he decided to just roll with it. “Who should we contact first?” Glyph asked.

“I think King Kahula of Barjon would be a good first choice.” She said, closing her eyes and placing her hands on Glyph’s shoulders.

“Any advice on how to approach him?” Glyph asked, feeling a knot growing in the pit of his stomach. “I’ve never been much for using the phone.” he joked. “I’ve always preferred to talk face to face.” Glyph said apprehensively.

“Your assessment of king Rokka was correct, however you will not gain Kahula’s commitment the same way. I suggest you ask.” Ishea said concentrating. “Now place both hands on the crystal.”

“Sounds good. How long do I have?” He asked, following Ishea’s instruction.

“You will have a few minutes at most; do not waste time admiring the scenery.”

“Admiring the wha…”

A sudden flash of white light filled the room, and Glyph found himself standing on an old stone road in front of a small caravan of travelers. The lead wagon slowed to a stop in front of him, and the driver and passenger, obviously soldiers, stared at Glyph in awe.

Glyph stared back with the same expression; then, remembering what he was supposed to do, he cleared his throat. “I am King Glyph of Kivastor. I need to speak with King Kahula.” He said trying to sound important.

The soldiers jumped down from their perch and began yelling towards the rest of the group. Then they each took a stance on either side of the wagon, never taking their eyes off of Glyph.

Catching a glimpse of his own arm, Glyph became entranced with the bluish-green cast that it, and the rest of his body, was emanating. He felt solid enough, but when he stooped to run his hand through the tall grass it passed through the vegetation. Amazed at his transparency, he tried to pick up a rock with the same result. A slight commotion in front of him snapped him out of it.

A few moments later King Kahula, flanked by four more soldiers, made his way to the front and eyed Glyph up from head to toe. He was dressed in soldier’s armor that was reminiscent of an ancient Samurai, though it was black and inlaid with gold and silver.

“I am Kahula.” He said resonantly, still trying to discern if Glyph was real or not.

“King Kahula, I am King Glyph of Kivastor. My time here is brief, so I will get to the point. The time of Reckoning is upon us, much sooner than we had anticipated. I would like to strike at Drathus before he is ready to attack. To do this I will need the support of Your Majesty and the strength of your mighty warriors as soon as possible. The armies of Deltur make preparations as we speak, and my own military is preparing to march this very day.”

“Hmm. Very interesting. I will consider it, King Glyph of Kivastor. Your words bear the air of truth.” Kahula said in a gravely voice. “This form you take is most unusual. You are not really here, but you are.”

“Forgive my means of communication, it was borne of necessity. If there was more time I would not have interfered with the boundaries of protocol. I march toward the Plains of Torlea near Muret; there we hope to combine our forces with the Torlean legions. Will you lend us your support, and meet us there?” Glyph humbly asked, for some reason feeling compelled to speak the truth.

Kahula thoughtfully turned his head to the side. “What you ask is not unreasonable. We have trained for many centuries in preparation for the demons’ return. I will send word to Komei and have my warriors embark toward Muret. They will be a few days behind you. When I arrive, we will have our meeting there. I will want to know of this attack in greater detail.” He said, squinting his eyes at Glyph.

“Of course, Your Majesty. We will await you there.” Glyph said nodding his head toward Kahula.

“Your Majesty.” Kahula said, nodding in return.

The flash of light returned and dimmed back into the crystal as Glyph removed his hands.

“Holy shit! That was awesome!” Glyph cried out. “What the hell is this thing anyway?” he asked Ishea.

“It is a Divinare crystal. We once used them to communicate with each other. One has not been used such in hundreds of years.” Ishea said almost absently.

Glyph realized she meant The Seven. She always got that look when she was thinking about them. “Okay. That seemed to go rather well. Kahula agreed to meet us at Muret with his warriors. What’s the king of Torlea’s name?” he asked.

“His name is Lukret, and he is very old and wise. I believe he will do as you ask, now that you have gained Kahula’s support.” She said approvingly while placing her hands on his shoulders once more. “Oh, and do not embellish your speech. They are a practical people and embellishment irritates them.” Ishea again closed her eyes and concentrated.

“Let’s do this.” Glyph said and placed his hands on the crystal.

When the blinding light subsided, Glyph found himself at a fork in the road that parted to each side of a huge sea. There were a few tents beside the road, and Glyph made his way toward them. Four short, stocky men with spears came out to see who approached, and seeing the blue-green aura around Glyph, one went back towards another tent.

“I am King Glyph of Kivastor. I need to speak with King Lukret.” Glyph said tactfully.

The other man came back out to rejoin the other three. “I will take you to him.” he said and led Glyph towards the larger tent in the center. He pulled back the flap and announced Glyph, who found the king sitting in a large plain wooden chair, his gray hair cropped close in military fashion.

As Glyph approached, the king looked up from some papers and smiled crookedly. “Ahh, a Divinare crystal. I have always wanted to see someone who was using one. It is even more impressive in person than its description in the ancient texts. Welcome King Glyph. Why, may I ask, are you here?” Lukret spoke in a heavy accent and Glyph could tell he was well beyond the years of most men.

“I am here to seek your aid in the war. I would like to make a preemptive strike against Drathus, before his minions are ready to march. I already have the support of King Rokka and King Kahula. We would request that you allow us to combine our armies with yours at The Plains near Muret.” Glyph said trying to refrain from any extraneous words.

“Indeed.” Lukret said somewhat surprised “Why here?” he asked

“Muret is central to most of our kingdoms, and puts us within striking distance of The Pass in Priam. We hope to ambush Drathus and destroy his forces as they come through the pass.”

“An intriguing plan, King Glyph.” Lukret said. “Drathus has little choice but to come through the pass as I understand it. And I rather like the idea of hitting him before he can move against us. Very well, I will make the necessary preparations concerning the Legions, and will meet you here at Muret.”

“I thank you, King Lukret. I look forward to our meeting in Muret where we may all discuss the plan I have envisioned.”

“Give my regards to Lady Ishea and Steward Toban, King Glyph.” Lukret said, still watching the sparkle of light surrounding Glyph.

“I will, Your Majesty.” Glyph said and the white light blinded him once more.

Glyph turned to look at Ishea who was no longer touching his shoulders, but standing against the back wall of her room.

“I got him.” Glyph said triumphantly. “He sends his regards to you and Toban. I take it you’re friends.”

“Yes, Glyph.” she said with a smile. “You have done well.”

“Yeah, thanks to you.” Glyph said, smiling back.

“All I did was show you the way, you powered the Divinare by yourself.”

“You mean I did that?” Glyph asked curiously.

“Yes, you never cease to amaze me. Only a sorcerer can power the Divinare. You are well on your way.” Ishea replied.

“But how? I-I thought you were doing it.” Glyph stuttered

“You will come into awareness in your own time. Until then you may want to guard your thoughts, or you may have some unexpected things happen. It is this way with all who have come into the power of sorcery.”

Glyph shrugged off the warning as more of Ishea’s mumbo jumbo, but he was getting a real sense that something was happening to him. He could still feel the tips of his fingers tingling, but it was different than a normal tingling sensation, this felt as if a valve had been shut off in each digit. There was a slight pressure present before it finally dissipated, and the feeling vanished.

They went down to the dining hall after Sturim informed them that the afternoon meal was being served. Glyph was famished and ate more than he should have, but some habits die hard. After lunch, they set off to find Toban and check on his progress. Glyph and Ishea walked out to the training fields below the walls of the city. There were several thousand men, some loading carts to haul equipment and supplies, others engaged in drills and training. They found Toban in a pavilion with several other men poring over charts and barking orders.

“Your Majesty.” Toban said when he saw Glyph enter. Glyph had noticed the formal title always reappeared when he was in the presence of others.

“Steward Toban, how goes the progress?” Glyph asked.

“Rather well, Sire. The general and I were just discussing the coming march. Have you met General Hilen?” Toban replied.

“He has, Toban. I met his Majesty at the coronation celebration.” The general answered before Glyph could say anything. “It is an honor to have you here, Sire. The army will be ready to march in a few hours. Do you know as yet where we will be stopping?”

Toban, standing beside Hilen, raised his eyebrows as if to ask if there were other news.

“Yes general Hilen, we are marching to Muret. Once there we will join the Legions of Torlea, and the warriors of Barjon.” Glyph said, then nodded at Toban to let him know it was indeed true. Toban smiled broadly.

General Hilen appeared shocked “You are truly a man of wondrous talents, Your Majesty. I have never known such cooperation among the kingdoms in all my days, and you have been king for but one.”

“The world has known for some time that this event will happen, General. Perhaps that is why our way has been made easy.” Glyph said.

“Indeed sire.” General Hilen said, amazed at his king’s humbleness.

They took their leave and walked back through the fields of soldiers.

“I guess we should pack.” Glyph said to Ishea, and they both went back to the keep to do just that.

Not surprisingly, Sturim had most of Glyph’s wardrobe and armor packed when he returned to his room. Glyph sat on the edge of his bed and studied the Living Tapestry closely. Not much had changed since morning. He told Sturim to have the Tapestry packed as well, and stared at it until the servants came to take it down. Ishea came shortly afterward and informed him they were ready to leave. Glyph went with Ishea down to the stables and there he mounted O’dista. They rode out to the pavilion and met up with Toban and general Hilen and the four of them led the way down the road with the army marching behind. They rode for several leagues and set up camp at the base of a mountain just past the split in the Mother and Sister rivers. Leaving in the late afternoon made for a short ride. It was, as Toban had pointed out, a largely symbolic gesture to show the other kingdoms Kivastor’s commitment. Glyph just felt better knowing they were finally doing something.

He decided he would contact King Rokka in the morning to make sure he had the Delturan’s support. No sense in leaving it up to chance, especially since Ishea had brought the Divinare crystal. Glyph sat in his tent considering the day’s events and the dreaded hour to come, and decided to turn in early. He was glad he finally stopped seeing attacking dogs and bared fangs every time he closed his eyes, and wondered if Ishea had helped with that too.

He slept like a rock, and Ishea had to physically shake him awake in the morning. He was glad she did, it somehow made his hour easier when he had a full stomach. “I may have found something.” She said, smiling as they sat down to eat. Reaching into her robe she withdrew a necklace. It was made of pewter, and had a black uncut stone hanging from it.

Glyph took the necklace and put it on “What’s this supposed to do?” he asked.

“At the least, it is an indicator of evil. At best, it will give some manner of protection against magic. That is, of course, if it transfers with you to your world.” Ishea said, shrugging her shoulders.

“Do you think it will work?” Glyph asked.

“It should, especially now that your wounds are transferring between your bodies. That should open the way for other physical characteristics to transfer as well, such as the necklace.”

Glyph looked at it skeptically, but continued eating. Nothing more was said between them that morning as they ate. He made sure that no one but Ishea was to see him during his hour, and walked back into his tent and lay down on his cot. He picked up his long sword and held it to his chest with one hand, and held on to the black rock of his necklace with the other. He didn’t know why for certain, but he had more of a sense of dread about his coming hour than he had had previously. Perhaps it was because he had almost died in the attack by the dogs, or maybe it was just fear of the unknown. As he lay there listening to the sounds of the camp coming alive around him, a strong wind suddenly blew through the tent, emptying the air around him as it went. Then the darkness fell upon him and he was gone.

 

The Hour – Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Glyph awoke in a panic, his eyes probing the gloomy darkness of his surroundings for several seconds. It always took some time to regain the sense of where he was, especially now that his waking point was different for every hour. After a minute, his heartbeat began to slow, and he started to breathe normally again.

He stood up. ‘This place isn’t so bad.’ Glyph thought, eyeing the interior of the old dilapidated barn. ‘Maybe I’ll just wait it out here. It’s only an hour, and it’s obvious no one ever comes inside.’

Glyph rubbed his sore back and began rummaging around to see if there was anything useful among the debris of the decrepit structure. Unfortunately there was nothing to be found besides a bunch of rusted junk. He had just started to clean up his area when he heard the rattlesnake’s warning buzz.

He froze instantly. Glyph’s heart skipped a beat, and the blood drained from his face as he cocked his head and strained to listen. He looked everywhere around him without moving a muscle. It was close, he could feel the electric tension in the air, but nothing stirred. Maybe it wasn’t coming after him, but then again he didn’t want to be trapped in here if it was. Glyph grabbed his bag slowly, and moved delicately toward the hole in the back of the barn.

After a few tentative steps, Glyph caught sight of the snake coiled tightly with its rattle sticking straight up and shaking like mad. It was about four feet away, but Glyph wasn’t sure how far away was safe. Its gray mottled scales looked coarse compared to its sleek white underbelly, exposed only because the rattler was ready to strike. The snake’s eyes were black, but seeing as how the snake hadn’t attacked him yet he was fairly certain it wasn’t possessed, and wondered briefly if that were even possible. Glyph took another slow step backward. He considered trying to remove the snake, or trap it on one side of the collapsing barn, but the risk was too great. One bite meant he would have to go to the hospital or die, and right now neither of those options sounded any good. When he took his next step the rattle finally stopped, so he took that as a sign and crept out of the opening along the back wall. Letting out a deep breath, Glyph peeked around the corner down towards the road.

“So much for that hiding place.” Glyph mumbled, intensely studying the tall grass around his feet for other snakes.  ‘Into town, or up the mountain?’ He wondered. It really wasn’t that hard of a choice. Town meant more black-eyed zombies, the mountain might have another rattlesnake. This was a no-brainer.

“At least the rattlesnake isn’t chasing me.” Glyph decided and stole a quick glance behind him to be certain. Then he stared up the field into the trees toward the top of the mountain. “Fuck you, Drathus.” he whispered, and started running up the edge of the immense field toward the tree line. After entering the woods, Glyph picked his way up the mountain, occasionally circumventing rock outcroppings too steep to climb safely. Overall the hike was fairly pleasant. The woods were quiet and a slight breeze flowed down toward him from above. He checked his watch out of habit; it had only been nine minutes. Heading off into the wilderness had probably been his best idea yet. It looked as if he might actually emerge from this hour unscathed, and he secretly hoped that perhaps Drathus couldn’t track him up here.

As the minutes ticked by and he gained elevation, he couldn’t help but think about everything that had happened to bring him here. Was there some force of nature propelling him forward toward this conflict with Drathus? He couldn’t really believe he was even entertaining these thoughts when he didn’t even know if any of this was real. Certainly he should pick his reasoning and stick with it, whether it was real or not, because jumping back and forth on the subject wasn’t helping. ‘Jumping back and forth…’ the irony of it made him laugh out loud. These things, these images and people, it all felt so real, but it just didn’t make sense. The one question he couldn’t wrap his logic around was why. Why him? He wasn’t anybody special, just an ordinary person trying to make a living, a life for himself, just like everyone else. He wasn’t a hero by any stretch of the imagination, so why, if this was all real, would it be happening to him? It had to be an illusion, some fantasy concocted by his screwed-up mind.

“This must be what it’s like to go crazy.” Glyph said as he stepped up the last few rocks; he had finally made it to the top. He looked left and then right along the top of the ridge. The sun was rising behind him, so he headed left in a more or less southerly direction moving with the ridgeline.  The underbrush was a bit thinner, and made for easier walking than he had had on the trek up here, and he was covering some distance now.

The farther, the better, as far as Glyph was concerned. He kept moving, trying to forget the people he had killed in the last few days. No sooner would he block those images from his mind then it would be filled with others, like Ishea, Toban, and the kingdom of Kivastor. He wondered if he had a chance with Ishea. She was so hot, and Glyph was pretty sure she liked him too, at least a little. In his next breath he realized how stupid that was. She was, after all, a figment of his mind, but it was just so damned real. He would just have to face the facts, he was insane. It was the only explanation that fit, because after all, who would make him a king over anything? ‘A king!’ He thought. The whole notion was as ludicrous as it was cliché. It was like he was living out some b‑rated fantasy romance novel, well…except for all the killing. That was another can of worms he didn’t care to open. Why would his mind create a delusion where he was hunted, where he had to kill or be killed? Why jump back and forth? Why not just stick with the King of Kivastor fantasy and be done with it?

Spying a large boulder up ahead, Glyph stopped for a short break, and that’s when he heard it; the sounds of barking dogs drifting up the mountainside from somewhere up ahead, though it was hard to pinpoint exactly.

“Dammit, they had better not be after me.” he said, straining his ears to listen. The thought of search parties out looking for the killer of those innocent teenagers always sat at the forefront of his mind.

He could tell the barking was still a ways off and much further down in elevation. Rather than turn around, or risk losing the high ground, he decided to press on, hoping to get ahead of them. Glyph could hear the barking getting louder as his trot became a full out run. They were below him now. He glanced quickly at his watch in mid-stride; thirty-one minutes. It would be futile to hide at this point, so he kept going. A few minutes later he could hear the dogs coming up from behind him. They had made it to the top of the ridge and they were definitely following him. Glyph slowed to a stop at the top of a small incline to catch his breath and wait. The barking was loud and he could tell there were more than a few dogs. Way more.

About a dozen dogs of varying breeds and sizes came crashing in through the underbrush as Glyph stood his ground, trying desperately to remain calm. Time began to move slower for Glyph as he quickly reached for his pistol. He knew every shot had to count. The dogs continued to advance upon him at full speed, their fangs bared and froth dripping from their mouths. Glyph pulled the gun into position, took aim, and pulled the trigger. The top of the middle dog’s head split open like a crushed grape, dropping it face-first into the dirt, and tripping some of the others as it began to roll. He aimed and fired again, and another dog yelped and flew back, then another and another, dropping the vicious dogs’ ranks as they rushed him, bits of gore and fur spraying out of them like a sprinkler.  As he tried to take aim on the fifth, they were upon him.

Two of the dogs bit deep into his upper left thigh and calf. The last dog, a German Shepherd, leapt forward and hit Glyph square in the chest at full speed. Losing his balance, Glyph fell to the dirt. His gun, knocked from his hand, was thrown several feet away. He screamed and punched at the dog on top of him, but missed as the dog jumped back for a second then clamped down on his right forearm. The dogs were snarling and growling fiercely as they shook his arm and leg.

Glyph began to kick ferociously at the two hounds on his leg, simultaneously slamming the head of the one biting his arm with his free hand. He could feel his flesh ripping away from the bone as the one he was kicking let go, and chomped on his leg further down near his ankle. Glyph yelled in pain again, and violently twisting his body to pin the canine’s head under his chest, he wrapped his arm around the dog’s neck and drove his fist into the mutt’s throat, crushing its windpipe. He continued to kick at the two dogs, which alternately took turns releasing, and re-biting, his leg.

Glyph pried the dying Shepherd’s jaws off his arm. Blood streamed out of the ragged holes and onto the ground. Glyph yelled like a maniac as his foot connected with a dog’s nose, allowing him to wrench his leg free. Immediately, Glyph started rolling down the hill, then started to slide down the rocky dirt. He tried to slow his descent, but began to tumble out of control, and after several seconds found himself sprawled out at the bottom a steep embankment. Glyph’s arm and leg were on fire as he tried to right himself.

“Aaauuughhhh!!” He screamed as he tried to stand.

Glyph reached down for his knife with his good hand. He pulled it from the sheath as the first of the evil curs came sliding down the hill after him. Glyph lunged and fell into the dog’s chest knife-first, as it slid toward him. The dog yelped, and Glyph rolled to one side, extracted the knife, and sunk it to the hilt into the canine’s side as it tried to kick away. Glyph pulled the knife toward him with all his strength. The slice emptied the dog’s hot slimy entrails onto his face and arm, like someone had dumped a bucket of chum.

Gagging as the sloppy mucus splashed into his mouth and nose, Glyph grabbed its collar, and flung the dog’s body away from him. A trail of bloody intestines stretched from Glyph to the dead beast several feet away. Two more of the dogs came skidding down the embankment after him. Pulling himself to his knees, Glyph swung full-force, punching one of them in the face, knocking it backwards. The other dog leapt onto Glyph’s back and tried to lock its jaws on to the back of Glyph’s head. Glyph flung the dog to the ground and started stabbing it over and over again until it stopped moving. Then he turned his attention back to the one he had punched. It’s black, pupiless eyes were open, but it lay there limp and unmoving. His eyes focused in on the mutt’s collar and the tags that hung there. These weren’t wild dogs; they were people’s pets.

Glyph got wearily to his feet; he was sure he hadn’t killed them all. He attempted to scale the steep bank for his gun, but after one try he knew he wouldn’t be able to make it. His leg was going numb, and he started feeling light-headed. He was covered in bite marks, and they were bleeding profusely.

Just then the last three dogs burst from the underbrush, having skirted the steep slope, and charged at Glyph. The first one that leapt caught Glyph’s knife in its underbelly, as the other two bit into his leg once more, pulling him back to the ground. Glyph slashed one across the face as it bit into his leg again, and he rolled on top of it, pressing his knee into the dog’s ribs with all his weight. As the dog’s ribs buckled, Glyph turned in time to see the last animal bite deep into his shoulder from behind. Glyph screamed again, and brought the knife up point-first, plunging it deep into the dog’s skull from below and cutting into its brain. The dog huffed and exhaled its final breath. Glyph collapsed next to the dead body, the acrid stench of dog guts filling his nose.

Lying there for several minutes, Glyph stared at the sky through the treetops, the sound of his heart beating loudly in his ears. He tried to move; he knew he needed to stop the bleeding. Through sheer force of will, he managed to shift himself into a sitting position. He dragged the red-stained knife to his chest and began sawing off a long strip of his shirt. He was starting to feel cold and nauseous. Glyph tried to move his leg, but the pain was too much. After extreme effort, he slid the material under his leg and tied a tourniquet using his mouth and good arm. The maneuver caused pain everywhere, and he quickly lay back down.

He was beginning to pass out. His arm sat limply on his chest, as the blood, still pumping out the punctures in his arm and shoulder, completely soaked his shirt. Glyph checked his watch, but the face was smeared with blood.  Eventually, he pulled his shirt off over his head and wrapped it several times around his arm. The urge to run was in him, but he couldn’t will himself to even roll over. He became chilled and could no longer feel his leg. Shock was taking control, his breathing became labored and his body started to shake uncontrollably.

“This can’t go on!” he spat, shaking his head, tears rolling down his cheeks. “It has to stop, it has to!” He screamed into the morning air. “It can’t…” he breathed. “It… can’t…go…ON!”

The clouds moved slowly overhead, and the sounds of birds filled the air. Glyph looked through blurry eyes, as time slowed again. His watch was chiming. He noticed a small popping noise, and the air was vacuumed out around him. For a moment there was no sound, then darkness surrounded him, and he was lost to it once more.

The Hour – Chapter 6

Chapter 6

 

Glyph awoke on the same bed he had been sitting on before his hour. He sat up, and noticed sunlight was now streaming through the open window, and with it the sound of the waterfall dropping into the city below. He felt himself getting angry again over the injustice of everything that had been happening to him. There was no sense left to anything, and he started to feel dead inside. His back ached fiercely as he leveraged himself off the bed onto his feet. As he walked to the door, the throbbing from his temple reminded him of the beating he had taken by the two teens on Earth. The thought of killing them nearly brought him to tears, but he fought them back. Regaining his composure, Glyph opened the door and stepped out into the hallway.

A man in a servant’s uniform quickly ran up to him. “Fair morning, My Lord. How may I be of service to you?”

Glyph looked at him, and scratched his head. “I don’t suppose you have a shower I could use, do you?”

“Of course, My Lord. Allow me to escort you to the bathhouse.” The servant said, turning on his heel and marching down the hall. They came to a spiral staircase and followed it down several stories. Glyph estimated that they were close to level with the city now. The stairs exited into a small room with a door. The servant opened the door revealing a larger room with a high ceiling. A path of thick carpet led to a stone dais with a few steps leading to the top. Glyph walked up the steps and looked down into a marble tub. It had a built-in seat, and a large grated drain in the center. He then turned back to the servant.

“I really wanted a shower.” Glyph said.

“When you are ready, pull back the lever on the side of the tub. It will release a panel in the ceiling allowing water to come through from the heated cistern above. There are drying cloths in the alcove just inside the door.” The man bowed and left the room, leaving Glyph to his shower.

He took off his clothes, pulled the lever, and was pleasantly surprised to see a shower of water drop into the middle of the tub. Stepping in, Glyph sat down and began to think. He had always done his best thinking in the shower. He remembered the last day of ‘normal life’ he had. Glyph had called off work sick, and was so tired that day he could hardly get up to go to the bathroom. That night he had met Simeon in his dreams, and the next day the ‘hours’ started. He remembered the trial and error survival process that had allowed him to stay alive for so long, and more recently his shift to this new world, and Ishea. Glyph could admit that being here was a hell of a lot better than being tortured, but had serious issues with having to kill people in real life.

‘Before, my hour was my life and I could survive. Now my hour is a living nightmare where I either kill, or be killed.’ Glyph thought as wafts of steam rose up around him. ‘What could be wrong with me? What kind of mental illness could possibly generate such vivid hallucinations as this?’ He wondered. ‘Why would I even dream this up? First the torture, and now Ishea and this whole ‘King’ thing she’s trying to force on me? There has got to be a way out of this, some way to wake up, or snap out of it, something. I just have to figure out what it is.’ After about twenty minutes the water falling from the cistern started to cool off.

“This must have something to do with those damn prophecies Ishea keeps spouting off, and I think it’s time I take a look at them for myself.” Glyph muttered, stood, and pushed the lever back in place.

Glyph dried himself off; the soaking helped a great deal. His back was much less stiff, and not nearly as painful now. There was something he was missing, though, and he just couldn’t get his mind around it yet. He got dressed and went back up the staircase into what appeared to be his own private wing. He walked back into the bedroom, more because he hadn’t seen the servant guy and didn’t know where else to go. Glyph walked to the window and again surveyed the city below him. The streets were very busy, and large horse-drawn carts were entering and leaving through the main gates. He walked back over to the bed, where the tapestry caught his eye again. It was somehow different looking now. There was a main column of the beasts marching toward the center of the armies of men he hadn’t noticed before. There were also several groups of men outflanking them, and the leader seemed to be pointing instead of waving like he was yesterday. Glyph sat back down on the bed, absently touched the knot on the side of his head and winced.

“Ouch.” He said and stood up.

“Okay. I need to get some damn answers.” Glyph said out loud to himself. He then strolled back out into the hallway. The servant was there as before.

“Ah, My Lord. I see you have finished bathing. Is there anything else I may do for you?”

“Yes.” Glyph replied. “I want you to take me to Ishea.”

“Lady Ishea is in a meeting with Steward Toban, and they asked not to be disturbed.”

“Uh, yeah that’s great.” Glyph replied putting one finger to his chin and bouncing it. “So, how about you take me to Ishea. Now.” Putting his emphasis on ‘now’.

“But, My Lord, surely you would respect the lady’s wishes in this matter.” The servant said much more seriously.

“Okay. Let’s try this a different way.” Glyph said, his temper beginning to flare. “What’s your name?”

“Sturim, My Lord.” Sturim replied.

“Look Sturim, do you know who I am?” Glyph asked.

Sturim cocked his head slightly, and with a quizzical expression replied “Yes, My Lord.”

“Do you know who I’m going to be?” Glyph demanded.

Sturim’s brow wrinkled a bit and he nodded yes, unsure of what to say.

“Good, then you will take me to Ishea right now, or I will have the guards toss you out my bedroom window, and if they don’t obey me now, they sure as hell are going to obey me tomorrow. So which way do you want it?” Glyph asked forcefully, and stared at him coldly.

The color drained from Sturim’s face, and his eyes grew wide with fear. “This way, My Lord.” He said, quickly spun around, and led Glyph down the hall. They passed two intersecting hallways and came into the large room behind the falls, then passed into a corridor on the far side. After crossing another hallway they came to a spiral stair going up. Upon reaching the top, the servant knocked briefly on the door and opened it. Glyph could see this was a library, and rather extensive from the looks of it.

“My lady, Steward, I am so sorry to interrupt, but I did not know what to do.” Sturim began to explain hurriedly.

“It is alright Sturim.” Ishea said staring at Glyph. “I know how he can be. Thank you.”

The servant nodded and quickly made his exit. Ishea and Toban were sitting at a large oval table with a long map spread across it, and several stacks of books piled here and there. Shafts of natural light were coming down through square ducts carved in the ceiling.

“What do you want, Glyph?” Ishea asked bluntly.

“I need some answers and I want them straight, just so we’re clear.” Glyph said, trying to keep his temper under control.

“What would you like to know?” she replied, somewhat sarcastically.

Toban began to shift uneasily in his seat, and appeared highly uncomfortable.

“First, I just got whacked in my back with a baseball bat during my hour, not to mention a goose-egg on my head. How come I’m still feeling it? I mean the whole pain thing never used to transfer before, so what gives?” Glyph spoke evenly, again trying not to blow up.

Ishea looked at Glyph gravely. “You are feeling pain now?” She questioned. Ishea leaned forward a bit in her chair, thinking hard. “It is likely because I brought you here. I believe that Drathus had already begun to warp the effects of the curse, to what end I am unsure. Changing it again to bring you here may have altered the rules of the curse further. It could also be that Drathus is trying to re-take control of your curse. Either way, if the wounds from your hour appear here, then whatever happens to you here will also transfer into your hour.”

“Okay.” He was somewhat surprised by her straight answer. “So, can Drathus re-take control of my curse?”

Ishea smiled slightly. “Anything is possible, but I believe he would have to be in possession of one of your bodies to do so. I discovered your energy signature quite accidentally, and therefore used some rather creative magic in order to interact with your curse. If Drathus or Simeon were capable of figuring it out, they would have done so by now.” She explained.

Glyph was glad to hear it. The last thing he needed to worry about now was that at any moment he might suddenly find himself back in Simeon’s care. “Then that’s why Drathus is so intent on killing me during my hour, right?”

Ishea was looking almost concerned now “Yes. Of course, he can kill you here as well, it would just be harder for him.” She replied.

“Okay.” Glyph responded a bit calmer now. “So, since you won’t send me back, my only way out of this, besides dying is …?” he said questioningly.

“To fulfill the prophecy.” She stated.

“And then will you send me back?”

“If you so choose, yes.” Ishea said, looking happy and crushed at the same time.

Glyph nodded and slowly walked in towards the table. Pulling out a chair, he sat down. “Agents of good and evil in both worlds, right?” he said, feeling as though a weight had been lifted.

“Correct.” Ishea replied, half shocked that he had remembered this much.

“I’m seeing a bunch of evil in my hour and not any good. It’s become obvious to me that my only way out of this is to do as you say. That being the case, I’m going to need help surviving my ‘hour’, so where are these good guys?” Glyph just said it; there wasn’t any more reason to beat around the bush. He glanced over at Toban; his mouth was agape and he was starting to turn a slight shade of gray. “I take it he hasn’t been ‘briefed’ on my condition yet?” Glyph said indicating Toban with a slight nod of the head.

“No Glyph, that is what I was doing when you interrupted us. As to your question, there are forces of good out to help you in your world.” She closed her eyes for a moment. “The man who picked you up on the road, did he not help you? He was an agent of good.”

Glyph thought about it for a moment “So the evil guys know enough to try and kill me, but the good guys don’t even know they’re helping me, it just sort of happens.”

“Good and Evil are different, Glyph. They work differently; they even operate under different sets of rules.” Ishea said as though everyone should know this.

“Well whatever happened to them balancing each other out?” Glyph began to feel irritated again.

“They always do, but they are not bound by time as we are. It could take thousands of years for one to balance the other, or just a few seconds. You must take heed in your hour, but also have faith that all will be as it must.” Ishea said as she put her hand on his. “It is unfortunate that I cannot directly aid you in your hour, for I assure you if I could, I would do so. Drathus knows this, and that is why, I suspect, he attempted to get you to take your own life by cursing you with the hour. He deduced that once I brought you here, he could locate your position on your world. Since he already has access to this world he can follow your ‘trail’ from here, as well as access your own world through the path he created with the curse. It gives him a great advantage.”

“It gives him an hour to hunt me every day is what it gives him.” Glyph said, again fighting back his frustration with the whole thing. Toban was shaking his head, and Glyph could tell the tale was pissing him off as well. “When does this coronation thing start?” Glyph asked Toban.

“It is scheduled for this afternoon, My Lord.” Toban said after clearing his throat. “My Lord …” he started, but then paused for a moment “I cannot even imagine.” He finished, trying to put into words his sympathy for Glyph’s situation.

“Don’t even try, Toban. Don’t even try.” Glyph said with a nod.

“Well, my lady, that explains things.” Toban said to Ishea. “I will call upon you after noon meal, My Lord. Sturim will see to it that you are ready.” He said to Glyph “I must take my leave of you now.”

“Very good, Toban.” Ishea replied, while Glyph gave a two-fingered salute. Toban turned and left.

Glyph turned back to Ishea, “I think I’d like to have a look at those prophecies now.” She smiled slightly at him and looked over at the piles of books already stacked on the table. “Take your pick.”

Reaching over to the closest pile, he grabbed one off the top. Strange symbols covered the front of the leather bound book. The pages were so old and yellowed Glyph could have believed the book had just been plucked from the fire place and set there to cool.

“I enjoy reading Shulin.” Ishea informed him. “He was a master scribe who lived about five thousand years ago. He hand-copied nearly a thousand manuscripts in his lifetime, but only ever authored one.”

Opening the book, Glyph flipped slowly through the pages, staring blankly at the bizarre markings and symbols. “Uhm, this could be a problem.”

Ishea stared at him wide-eyed. “What? Did you find something?” She asked excitedly.

“No, I can’t read this.”

She suddenly shot him a stern look. “I am sure you can read.” Ishea stated.

“Oh I can read. I just can’t read this.” He told her and pointed at the page in the book. Glyph watched as the realization of his problem dawned across her face.

“I apologize.” She said sincerely. “Please, close your eyes for a moment.”

Glyph glanced at her strangely, but did as he was instructed. Ishea reached over and placed her hand over his closed eyes.

“Try it now.” She prompted.

Glyph opened his eyes and looked down at the cover. “‘The book of Shulin’ by Shulin.” He read out loud, finding that he could now read the strange writing. “Wasn’t a very imaginative fellow was he?” Glyph asked and chuckled at his own attempt at humor, and Ishea smiled politely.

They both studied the books for the next several hours. As near as Glyph could tell, there were only two relevant prophecies out of about twenty that pertained to his situation. The first was from The Book of Shulin which read as follows: ‘In the age of awakening, near the day of Reckoning, a man will be delivered from the darkness by the powers of light, and he will not see like us, or be of our ways, but his power will be great, and this man we shall call King. This King will be like no other, and the people will accept him. He, and he alone, can lead the people into battle with the forces of darkness and prevail upon the day of Reckoning. Time will stand poised on the edge of the Great Choice, and actions unknown will claim him forever the savior of all the lands.’

“Well, that’s not very clear is it? It could mean anything really, especially that last part.” Glyph commented.

“Sadly, it is the nature of prophecy to be vague. It tells us of the future, but in a way that we cannot always understand, often only becoming obvious after it has happened.”

The second prophecy was from a collection of notes labeled ‘The Prophecy of Priam’ which stated: ‘The evil minions of darkness will enter the world and the light will be as a precipice. Near the end of days a man of light and darkness, greater than any king of one, will make the evil tremble and falter. He who knows not will choose, and those unknown will spirit him unto the heavens.’

There were several other entries that mentioned ‘He of wretched hour will be hunted by the eyes of darkness’, and ‘The survivor of time will grasp ultimate darkness from the depth of the celestial heavens to bring balance unto evil’, but said little else. Ishea had been very patient with him, and sounded totally agreeable now that she knew he was ‘accepting his destiny’. They discussed a few of the finer points, until Sturim entered to tell them the noonday meal was almost ready.

They went down the stairs and entered a dining room a few doors down the hall. It was a large room with a long table that could seat at least twenty. A high vaulted ceiling enclosed the room, with ample torchlight illuminating the architecture. They sat down and were soon surrounded by servants performing different tasks, some serving trays of food. A steaming hot chicken was put out for the main course, and they both ate in relative silence. Glyph was then ushered off by Sturim to his chambers, where he was presented with the kingly apparel he was to wear at the coronation.

“I am not wearing that.” Glyph said eyeing up the doublet and hose.

“But My Lord, it is the traditional garb.” Sturim pleaded.

“Well, I ain’t traditional, and I’m not wearing that.”

“Very well, My Lord.” Sturim gave in; after his last protest he felt he probably ought not to press his luck.

Glyph donned a white, loose-fitting shirt and kept his blue jeans in place. He buckled on his sword, and Sturim helped him into a close-knit chainmail tunic. Finally, Sturim draped a long ornate velvet cape over his shoulders, and excused himself. Ishea entered the room shortly thereafter, wearing a stunning silver dress with purple vines embroidered in the sleeves and shoulders. She sized him up.

“Surely you look at least half a king.” She mused. “Have you given any thought to your speech?” She said slyly.

“My what?” Glyph choked.

“Your speech. You know, the thing you give after you are crowned king.”

“Now you tell me.” He remarked snidely.

Sturim returned presently and escorted them to the ‘Hall of Ministry’, where a balcony opened up far to the left side of the falls, and just a few stories above a large open square in the city. Toban was there in formal robes, and briefed him on the ceremony. The Steward then went out onto the balcony and read aloud the proclamation of kingship. After he stopped, trumpets began to sound and Glyph stepped out onto the balcony beside Toban. Below him were people as far as the eye could see; the whole inner courtyard and the marketplace beyond were filled to capacity. Glyph was motioned to sit in a chair which had been carved right out of the stone floor of the balcony. Toban then introduced Glyph to the citizens of Kivastor. A servant handed him a silver crown inset with emeralds, and he placed it upon Glyph’s head. Trumpets and cheers went up from below, and after they had died down Ishea stepped forward, staff in hand.

“On this day we have witnessed a fulfillment of prophecy. On this day our hope is once again restored. I give you your new monarch, King Glyph!” she shouted to the crowd.

Cheers went up again and Glyph stood and walked to the edge. A hush came over the courtyard and he cleared his throat.

“I am he who is of Light and Darkness.” Glyph shouted, glancing at Ishea only to catch her startled expression. “I have been delivered from Darkness unto you, and here shall I serve!” The crowd went wild again. After a few minutes a hush fell upon them again. “I thank you for your gracious hospitality, and now may we enjoy together the festivity you have labored to prepare!” He shouted, and glanced at Toban who gave the signal for the trumpets. Glyph waved like he was on stage at a rock concert, and then they all withdrew to the main hall to the roar of the crowd. Music began to play from some unseen band, and Ishea looked at Glyph.

“Looks like a promising start.” She said to him, smiling. Glyph shrugged.

Toban approached them.

“Your highness, we may now adjourn to the Great Hall.” he said, and escorted them down yet another flight of stairs into a room the size of a high school gymnasium. There, he was seated at one end of the hall on an elevated stage, in an ornately carved wooden throne, inlaid with swirling jade patterns and highlighted with sapphires. The seat could have easily fit two of him, and the high back towered three or four feet above his head. Ishea sat to his left, and Toban to his right, in smaller chairs, but equally as well crafted.

Many strange forms of entertainment were brought forth for the pleasure of the king, and afterward, with a clap of Toban’s hands, the room was flooded with servants who performed an intricate dance as they transformed the room into a banquet hall. Tables and chairs were twirled and tossed around the guests with ease, with a final long table carried over the guests’ heads from the back of the room on poles, and deposited gently in front of the three of them. The meal was just as grand, with roasted pheasants and hogs rounding out the main course. As evening came, Glyph listened patiently to the whimsical ramblings of many ambassadors and government officials. Finally, prompted by Ishea, they mingled through the crowd meeting just about everyone of importance in the whole kingdom. The night began to wear on, and Ishea helped Glyph to make an exit, and led him back up to the room behind the falls.

“You did well tonight, Glyph. Even I must admit you were impressive.” She said.

“Yeah, it’s amazing what you’ll do to keep from dying.” Glyph said jokingly, but could tell from Ishea’s reaction that he had hit a sore point.

“I am sorry I must keep you here, but even if you had not accepted your destiny, I would be loath to send you into Drathus’s clutches.” She said sincerely.

Glyph found himself feeling sorry for her. “I know, Ishea. I’m beginning to see that now.”

“You should rest now. We can talk about your hour in the morning. Perhaps together we might be able to find some way to help you better survive it.” She smiled again and walked away. Glyph stood staring at the falling water for a while, and then went on to his bedroom. He took off the crown and placed it on a bureau and hung his cape beside it on a peg in the wall. He struggled out of his chainmail and lay down on the bed. He tossed and turned for an hour, and finally got up and took to wandering the halls. Soon he came upon a guard and asked him where he could find Steward Toban, who immediately showed him the way to Toban’s quarters.

Glyph knocked on the door, and heard Toban’s voice say “Enter”. Glyph pushed the door open and Toban immediately stood.

“Your Highness, what can I do for you?” he said.

“Okay, first, let’s drop the ‘highness’.” Glyph replied.

“Certainly, Glyph.” Toban said, somewhat strained.

“I couldn’t sleep, and I had a few questions for you.”

“Please have a seat.” Toban said politely, and they both sat down at the table.

“First, I want to make sure there’s no hard feelings, me taking your job and all.” Glyph said.

“By no means, Glyph. You are the king. I am merely the steward, and I will still serve in that capacity unless you wish otherwise.” Toban said as if he just realized that might be the case.

“I wouldn’t want anyone else, Toban.” Glyph said, noticing a slight relief in Toban’s demeanor. “I will need you if we are to do this… thing.” he said for lack of a better description. “What do you know of Drathus?”

“He is a foul demon of darkness, whose armies have sought to conquer our world for a millennia.” Toban stated.

“So this isn’t a new thing.” Glyph said, somewhat surprised.

“No, Drathus and his evil brood has brought war upon us once before. The Seven came together, and drove them back to a far corner of the world, but were not strong enough to banish them forever.” He reached behind him and pulled out a map from a shelf, unrolled it and showed it to Glyph. “Here is Kivas, and here is Degruthra.” Toban indicated with his finger. “It means land of the damned, and is nothing but wasteland.”

Glyph studied the map then asked, “Who are the Seven? And how did they manage to contain Drathus?”

“Oh, I assumed Ishea had discussed this with you.”

“Not yet.”

“Well, the Seven were a group of sorcerers, and sorceresses, with great powers. By themselves they were not effectual in combating Drathus’ army. When they realized the severity of the threat Drathus represented, the Seven combined their powers and were able to drive the minions back.” Toban said.

“So where are the Seven now?” Glyph said, asking the obvious.

“Alas, four of them have passed into the grave. Out of the three that are with us, one is a recluse and now sees no one, the second is only concerned with nature and caring for the creatures of the land, and the third you have already met.” He replied

“Ishea?” Glyph asked.

“Indeed. She was the youngest of the group and has taken up the calling of the prophecies.” Toban replied.

Glyph thought for a moment. ‘If Ishea was one of the Seven, and they fought Drathus a thousand years ago then…’ “How old is she?”

“I believe the records would show around three millennia.”

“Holy shit, you’re serious!” Glyph said, amazed.

“Yes, she hardly looks a day past twenty-five, but it is true.”

“So, she’s immortal then?”

“Correct. They all are, or rather, were. That is not to say she cannot be killed. In that regard she is as mortal as I am.” Toban explained.

“If they were to team up, Ishea and the other two, couldn’t the three of them do something?”

“That is doubtful. They have grown apart; the other two have not been seen in hundreds of years, and even so, it took all seven to defeat Drathus’s army the first time. I am afraid that three would prove to be insufficient.”

Glyph thought about what he had said. “Thank you Toban. I’m sure I’ll have more questions for you tomorrow.”

“The pleasure is mine.” Toban responded. Glyph turned to leave “Ah, Glyph?” Toban said.

“Yes, Toban?”

“Good luck with your hour.” Toban said.

“Thanks.” Glyph replied and made his way back to his room. He lay down again and slept fitfully until morning. He awoke as usual about an hour before his time arrived. Sturim arrived shortly, bringing breakfast.

“Lady Ishea will join you presently. Is there anything else you require, Your Highness?” Sturim inquired.

“Thank you, Sturim, but no, I need nothing else.” Glyph replied and Sturim bowed and left. A few minutes later Ishea entered and they sat at the side table and ate.

“I have been up late studying to see if I can find a way to intervene in your world, but I have made little progress, I am afraid.” Ishea started.

“I figure if I stay away from people during my hour, I’ll have a better chance of not running into Drathus’s gooneys.” Glyph said.

Ishea laughed “Gooneys you say?”

“Yeah, cronies, lackeys, henchman. You know, ‘minions’.” He said,

“Yes, I see.” Ishea finished her pastry. “There is something else you might try.”

“What’s that?” he asked through his mouth full of eggs.

“Nearly everything I looked at last night suggested to me that the source of your power comes from your belief that it will work.” She said, trying to explain.

“So you’re saying that if I need help I should just think of something, believe that it will happen and it will. That sounds ridiculous.” Glyph thought for a moment; he was thinking of the horse’s name, just before he said O’dista aloud. And he had also wanted the door to open when Ishea had him command it open. Until now he hadn’t even thought of those instances. “Besides, how do you know it will work during my hour?”

“I do not. I am sorry, Glyph, it was the best I could come up with. I will continue the search for some way to help you, I promise.” She replied and reached over to pat his shoulder.

“That’s something at least.” Glyph said, feeling as if nothing would really help.

They finished breakfast and Ishea wished him well and left so he could be alone. ‘What the hell am I doing?’ Glyph asked himself. ‘There just isn’t any way to make this easier.’ He thought. Steeling himself, he lay back on his bed and waited. He looked at the tapestry hanging on his wall. Something caught his eye and he sat up to get a better look. For some reason the leader of the men looked different again. Now he wore a silver crown, and his pants were blue and cut straight. “That was not how it was last night.” he said out loud, and began to get up to go see what else was different when it happened. All the air sucked out of the room and the world turned dark once more.

 

The Hour – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

 

Glyph awoke groggily. His eyes came into focus on some trees and bushes outside the cracked front windshield of the car. He shook his head for a moment trying to get a grasp on where he was, when his eyes ran across the driver’s license on the seat next to him. He picked it up and read over it one more time, as memories of his last hour began to flood back into his mind. ‘I won’t forget.’ He thought grimly and then shoved it in his pocket.

Glyph grabbed his bag and exited the vehicle. He checked the damage to the car, not knowing why; it wasn’t as though he could drive it anywhere. Reaching into the bag, he considered pulling out the gun. The memory of the girl he had carjacked with it sprang to mind, and he decided against it. Instead, Glyph pulled out his knife and belted it on.

He glanced around again, and could hear the cars on the highway nearby. ‘Time to find a better place to hide than this.’ he thought. It was only a matter of time before some highway maintenance guy found the car, and it probably wouldn’t look to good if he were camped out next to it.

Glyph set off through the trees until he came upon the eastbound section of the highway. Hiding in the brush of the median, he waited until the road was clear, then sprinted across it into the trees on the other side.

He wandered through the dense brush for a while until he came upon a chain link fence. There was a small playground on the other side, and beyond that was a road with some houses. Glyph climbed the fence hoping to make better time, but as he moved past a row of swings he noticed a group of kids standing beside the road a few hundred feet away. They were probably waiting for their school bus, but not wanting to attract attention he quickly glanced about for a different way to go. There were some more trees across a large mowed field to his left, so when he was satisfied that no one else was around, he started onto the field trying to act as though he belonged there.

About half way across he heard some of the kids yelling “Hey! Where you going?”

Glyph thought they were talking to him, but he quickly realized they were yelling at a couple of their friends, who were sprinting away from the bus stop in his direction. As the two kids raced onto the grass field, one with a bat, Glyph knew they were coming after him.

‘Dammit!’ Glyph thought as he looped his head through the duffle bag strap and ran for the trees. He did not want to have to beat the crap out of a couple of teenagers, and if he had to, he certainly didn’t want anyone around to see it.

He reached the tree line almost out of breath, with the punks closing in fast. After a few feet in, the ground started to angle downward rather sharply. He saw a small dirt path leading down the slope off to his right and followed it to the bottom of the hill. There, in a wide dirt clearing, was a kind of crude lean-to made of old logs and branches, like some kid had made a fort for a hangout. The path continued on out the other side of the clearing, but Glyph was out of breath, and knew he would have to make a stand.

As he cast the duffle bag off to one side, Glyph turned and saw the two teenagers as they reached the bottom of the hill. The one with the bat slowed to a stop, but the other one, which Glyph now recognized as a girl, kept charging. Half crouching in anticipation of the girl’s lunge, Glyph sidestepped at the last instant, pushing the kid away from him in mid-air. He looked back towards the boy who had stopped, just in time to dodge the bat swinging at his head. Leaping forward, Glyph brought his fist up into the boy’s chin, knocking him off-balance before he could swing again. Stumbling, the boy fell backwards to the ground, and Glyph immediately stomped the arm holding the bat; the sound of snapping bones filled the air. As the bat rolled out of his attacker’s hand, Glyph kicked it away.

The girl had recovered from her dive and jumped onto Glyph’s back. She began to pummel the side of his head with her fist. Glyph howled and, reaching back, grabbed the girl by her hair; then bent forward, flipping her over his head onto her partner who was starting to stand.

“Fuck!” Glyph screamed, touching the knot swelling up on his temple. Feeling slightly dazed, he took a few steps back and the two teens scrambled to their feet. They were just like the others, his landlord, the homeless bum, and the guy who tried to run his car off the freeway. There was no color to their eyes, just black, all black. The pair advanced on him. The boy’s arm dangled lifelessly though he showed no signs of pain. Then the boy took a swing with his good arm. Glyph grabbed the arm in flight and pulled it down and swung it up in an arc, forcing the boy to turn away from him. Glyph kept raising the arm behind the boy’s back until he heard the bones in his shoulder snap, then shoved him forward face-first to the ground.

By this time the girl had retrieved the bat, and before Glyph could react, he took a blow square across his back. Screaming loudly, Glyph dropped to one knee and rolled away, dodging the second swing.

“Fuck this!” Glyph screamed as he pulled his knife. Barely dodging the next swing, Glyph lunged forward and stuck the girl in the ribs, and again in her gut, using his weight to throw the girl backwards to the ground. Blood began to gush from the wounds, and the bubbly hiss noise told Glyph he had punctured a lung. The girl lay on her back, gasping for air. Glyph sheathed the knife and pulled the bat from her hand. “I’ve had enough of this shit!” He yelled. Stepping down hard on the girl’s upturned forehead to keep her head in place, Glyph swung the bat like a croquet mallet into the side of her face, crushing her skull. Bits of bone, blood, and brain matter sprayed out across the hard dirt, as he followed through with his swing.

He turned to see the boy struggling to pull himself up onto his knees, his arms hanging useless at his sides. “Leave me alone!” Glyph shouted at him.

The boy looked up at Glyph, and in a loud voice that was not his own said “I will find you Great One, and I will kill you!”

The hairs on the back of Glyph’s neck stood on end, and a chill went down his aching spine. “Why are you doing this?” Glyph screamed back, but the possessed boy just cackled in laughter. Disgusted, Glyph swung the bat into his head like a tee-ball, and the boy hit the dirt; either unconscious or dead.

Flinging the bat off into the woods, he checked his watch. ‘Twenty-nine minutes. Son of a bitch.’ Glyph thought, shaking his head and staring at the lifeless bloody bodies on the ground before him. He turned, unable to stomach the horrific scene any longer, scooped up his bag and ran down the path further into the woods. After several minutes of running, he slowed down to catch his breath. Up ahead he could see the path led to the side of a convenience store along a rural road. ‘I either have to make some distance or find a really good place to hide.’ he thought, especially considering the two bodies he left back there; the cops were sure to be here soon.

Glyph took note of the blood splatter that covered the bottom half of his shirt. ‘I can’t be seen like this.’ He decided, and took the duffle bag from his shoulder. Glyph changed into a clean shirt from his bag and took a moment to jam the blood-covered one into the hollow of a rotting log. His hands began to shake as he picked the bag back up from the ground. The memory of what he had just done to that boy and girl flashed in his mind again. “Fuck that.” Glyph said aloud, and pulled the pistol out of the bag, checked to make sure it was still loaded and tucked it back into the waist of his jeans.

He let the tail of his shirt hang out of his jeans to conceal the knife and gun, and started off toward the convenience store. Walking out onto the road, he tried to flag down the first person to drive by. ‘Sure hope this guy stops.’ he thought, waving his arms frantically now. The pickup truck coming toward him slowed to a stop and the driver rolled down his passenger side window.

“You need some help?” the driver asked Glyph.

Looking directly past the elderly man driving, Glyph watched as a guy came bolting out of a hardware store across the street, “Something like that. How about a lift?” Glyph replied, his eye on the man now running through the parking lot towards them.

The driver scratched his beard thoughtfully, “Sure. Hop on in.”

Glyph hurriedly entered the passenger side, and the old man started to drive down the road, seemingly oblivious to the insane wild man who just missed grabbing the truck’s rear bumper, and was now chasing after them. Glyph realized how lucky he had been that the man driving the truck didn’t try to run him over. With a start, Glyph checked the driver’s eyes once again. So far he was looking and acting normally.

“You lost or something?” the driver said. Glyph checked the side mirror, making sure they were leaving his pursuer behind.

“Uh, yeah.” Glyph said trying to think of what to do next. ‘I can’t just off this guy’ he thought, ‘but if I don’t, he might tell the cops where he took me, not to mention I don’t have a lot of time here.’ Glyph slid his right hand slowly around to his back and began to grasp the grip of the pistol. ‘This is wrong.’ He thought.

“Where you headed?” the man asked, obviously trying to fill the silence. Glyph began to sweat; he wasn’t really sure where he was. As he was trying to think of what to say, they passed a road sign.

“Hodgeton” Glyph replied reading the sign. ‘Eleven miles’. He began to slide the gun out of his pants.

“That’s right on my way.” The older man said, and smiled in amusement. “I’m just passing through myself, hope to be in Massachusetts before night fall.”

Glyph stopped, and pushed the gun back down into his pants. ‘It’s doubtful this guy is going to hear about anything.’ He thought, and checked his watch. ‘Forty minutes.’

“You look familiar.” Glyph commented as they wound their way up into the mountains. There was something about the way the old man looked at him.

“I get that all the time, I just have one of those faces.” The driver replied. Glyph nodded and turned to stare out the window. The old man asked a few more innocuous questions, followed by a weather report he had heard on the radio not too long ago. Glyph answered politely but didn’t dare volunteer any other information about himself. After about ten minutes, they came upon the small town of Hodgeton, NJ.

“Some place you need me to drop you off at?” The driver asked, as Glyph constantly scanned for an inconspicuous place to be let out.

“Yeah, I got family up here, but it’s been awhile.” Glyph lied, as they made their way through the town, which was all of a half-mile long and looked to be at least a hundred years old. Then he spotted an abandoned barn up the road a ways in an overgrown field. “There it is. Up ahead, there on the right.” The old man slowed to a stop at the next driveway, and dropped him off. “Well, thank you so much, I really appreciate it.” Glyph said.

The old man looked slightly puzzled. “No problem. Good luck to you.” He looked as if he were going to say something else, but then nodded at Glyph and pulled away. Glyph started walking down the driveway until the pickup was out of sight, then he quickly doubled back towards the barn. Jumping a dilapidated fence, he sprinted to the overgrown and decrepit barn. Glyph took one last look around to be certain he wasn’t followed, then quickly ducked inside.

The roof was partially collapsed, and vines had long ago ripped holes in two of the walls. He sat down on the ground beside what used to be a horse stall and checked his watch. ‘Fifty-six minutes.’ He visually scanned his surroundings, and brushed away a spider crawling on his leg. Reaching into his bag he pulled out his smokes and lit one up.

Glyph just stared at the old wall in front of him blankly, acutely feeling the pain in his back and head. He didn’t know what to think anymore. He probably killed both those kids. At least not everyone was out to get him. He shuddered to think what may have happened if all those kids had decided to come after him. Then he thought about the boy who called him the Great One, and got chilled once more.

‘This is no joke, I’m either completely psychotic, or this is really happening to me.’ He thought. He put out his smoke and checked his watch. “I think it’s time for me and Ishea to have a long talk.” He said, and the air around him suddenly got sucked away and everything went dark once again.

 

 

The Hour – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

 

Glyph opened his eyes, then rolled over. He was, it appeared, still in the great room of Ishea’s cabin. He pulled himself to a standing position with the help of the chair he had sat in for breakfast.

“I am so glad you made it, Glyph.” Ishea’s voice floated across the room.

“What the hell? What’s going on now?” He stammered. “What was with my landlord? Was he trying to…”? Glyph paused and looked at Ishea, turning his head, confusion written on his face.

“Kill you? Yes.” Ishea finished for him. “He and the others in the…car,” she said struggling to pronounce the word ‘car’. “They were all agents of evil”.

“And the girl, was she?” Glyph asked, grimacing.

Ishea closed her eyes for a moment. “An innocent, I am afraid. You did what was necessary to insure your survival. Her death was not in vain.” She said, carefully bundling up some dried meat and cheese in a sturdy linen and tying it closed tightly with twine.

“Vain? I killed her, dammit! I, me! Not some evil fuck. Me!” He yelled at her out of frustration.

“Glyph, these things are bound to happen. You need to be able to put them behind you so that we can move forward.” She said, a look of sadness furrowing her brow. “I know your pain. I can feel it within your soul, but you must look ahead to the future, not to the past.”

Glyph spun around, anger boiling inside him. “You make me sick! How can you say that? That girl died, and you, you just want me to forget about it? You turned my world inside out, and now I get to be tortured in real life, instead of my dreams. Don’t you get it? My hour is real! That girl was real! I don’t know what I am here, or what you are, but that was real, so don’t tell me what I need to think.” He shouted, sliding down into the chair, a wave of exhaustion coming over him.

Glyph realized that what was happening to him was not Ishea’s fault, but knowing that didn’t help any. There was just so much anger and resentment bottled up inside him, and unfortunately she was the only one there to bear the onslaught of his emotional turmoil. After a few moments of silence, he spoke up again, much more subdued. “How do you know what’s been happening to me during my hour?”

“I have been closely monitoring your thoughts, so that I might better understand what has been happening to you.” Ishea explained.

“Well don’t. It’s unnatural, and I don’t like it, so stop.” Glyph stated resolutely.

Ishea hung her head low, and quietly carried the bundle of food past him out the door. She returned a few minutes later, but said nothing. She paused a moment, and placed her hand reassuringly on his shoulder, then continued about her business. After a short time had passed, Ishea came in to where he sat with some bread and fruit, and placed it on the table.

“We have to go on a journey; there is something I need to show you. I was going to wait, but now, I think, maybe this way will be better.” Ishea spoke softly.

“I suppose I have to go along.” Glyph monotoned back at her.

“Yes, you do. I now see there is no other way.” she replied.

Glyph, considerably calmer now, stood up from the table.

“Where are we going?” he asked.

“I believe I will let you find out when we get there. Now eat up, we need to cover many leagues before nightfall.” She sat down and began to eat, and Glyph followed suit, not knowing what to think anymore.

Ishea cleared the table after they had finished, then reached into the corner of the room for her staff. She handed Glyph the sheathed long sword she had tried to give him earlier, and walked toward the door.

“What do you think I’m going to do with this?” He said, looking at the sword. It had a red velvet scabbard, with what looked like real gold embellishment.

“Wear it.”

He pulled the sword out of the sheath and tested the edge with his thumb. “Ouch! Mother fucker!” he swore, as blood ran down the blade. Glyph shrugged, and belted the weapon around his waist.

He walked outside and found Ishea riding a large horse, with a magnificent stallion in tow. She dismounted and tied the horse’s reins loosely around the porch rail. She pulled the door to the cabin closed behind him and whispered something to herself. Ishea looked at him strangely, and then asked, “Have you ever ridden a horse before?”

Glyph strode directly to the stallion

“No.” he said. “But how hard can it be?” Surprising himself, and Ishea as well, he easily mounted the horse, and sat in the saddle. Glyph patted the horse on the side of its neck as Ishea bounded onto the saddle of her horse.

“He truly is a magnificent steed.” She said to Glyph as he admired the horse. He was about to ask her the horse’s name, when a word suddenly appeared in his thoughts. “His name is–” Ishea started to say, when Glyph blurted out the word, “O’dista.” Ishea’s eyes brightened, and she looked at him and smiled broadly.

“His name is O’dista, and how exactly did I know that?”

“This way.” She said in lieu of an answer, and galloped off.

“This is one crazy dream.” Glyph whispered under his breath, then kicked his heals and took off after her, holding on with all his strength to keep from falling.

They rode on for several hours through mountain forests, across several small streams, and up a steep rocky trail, to the top of a long ridgeline that looked to go on for quite a ways. Here Ishea suggested they eat and rest the horses. They dismounted and walked a side trail to an overlook of the valley below, and the mountains to the east. Ishea handed him some dried meat and bread. Glyph took it absently, staring across the valley. He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. A huge cascading waterfall crested near the middle of a distant mountain and poured over the edge like a faucet, free-falling for eight hundred feet into what seemed to be an enormous golden bowl. Surrounding the bowl was a walled city, and beyond that a patchwork of farms near the valley floor.

“It is a city.” Ishea said.

“It’s incredible!” Glyph understated, as it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen in his life.

“It is the capital of this kingdom, and it is called Kivas.” She smiled at him again, and he wondered what was behind that smile. What was she thinking?

They traveled along the ridgeline of the mountains toward the city for the next several hours, catching glimpses of it through the trees here and there. Glyph passed the time noting the similarities and differences between this place and Earth. The forest had an ethereal quality to it, and had obviously never been touched by the hand of man, save for the meandering trail they followed. Finally, the terrain turned rocky as they passed through a large clearing covered with waist-high grasses, and the path came to an end near the top of the giant waterfall. Here the water flowed like an enormous river across an expansive plateau. The source was a giant fissure in the rock about a half-mile further up the mountain. The rock steepled downward over the cliff face, allowing the river to plunge straight down into the city below. The view of the valley from here was awe-inspiring.

“This is known as the King’s entrance.” Ishea shouted over the roar of the falling water as she dismounted and walked towards the rocky cliff face. Glyph climbed out of his saddle and walked to where she was standing. “Give me your sword.” She said, extending her hand out. Glyph shrugged, drew out the sword, and handed it to her.

Ishea took the sword and placed it on a small out-cropping of rock. Glyph stared in disbelief as the stone the sword was on sunk slowly down a few inches. The rock face grumbled and to his amazement a large piece of rock slowly ground its way back into the mountain revealing a carved out passageway.

“Nice.” Glyph said, trying to downplay what he had just seen.

“Yes, I agree. There are times when you do not want to be seen going through the main gate.” Ishea turned and smiled at him again, handing him his sword.

It felt warm to the touch now, and the red glint of the setting sun flashed briefly across the blade as Glyph placed the sword back into the scabbard.

“This way.” She stepped into the entrance and pulled a torch from the wall, whispered something, and touched her hand to the wood, igniting it into flame.

“Good trick.” Glyph said, wondering now if he should keep following her. “It’s always more fun to stay and see what happens.” he mumbled under his breath.

“What was that?” Ishea looked back at him.

“Nothing, just remembering something a friend said to me once.” They walked about ten yards, and came to a descending spiral staircase cut right out of the rock itself.

“This is pretty cool.” he remarked, as they started down the stairs. “Where are we going?” Glyph asked again.

“Do not be impatient. You will see when we reach the bottom.”

About five minutes later they reached the bottom and entered a small antechamber with a large door in the opposite wall. The door was ornately carved with the likeness of ivy and vines, but was made of stone. In the center was a large fist-sized ruby, the stone vines holding it in place at about shoulder height.

“Stand over here, and place your hand on the jewel.”

Glyph eyed her skeptically, but did as he was instructed.

“Now say ‘Open’.” Ishea spoke somewhat nervously.

He sighed again, looked up at the door, and quite sarcastically said “Open.” Nothing happened.

“No, no, like you mean it.” Ishea implored.

Glyph looked at her again, turned back to the door and shouted “Open!”

Suddenly there was a loud clink noise, and the door slid open a few inches.

“Yes!” Ishea beamed, then began to giggle.

She reached over and pushed the door fully open. Glyph stepped inside and looked around. A long, large room opened in front of them. About a hundred feet out was a handrail, and beyond that the back of the waterfall.

“We’re behind the waterfall.” Glyph said in awe, “And not too shabby.” He commented, taking in the contents of the large room. Huge rock gardens flanked them. Statues of warriors and monks adorned the back wall at regular intervals and there were chaise lounge chairs positioned throughout the room. The grand marble columns and archways that supported the rock ceiling reminded him of Roman architecture. Large vaulted hallways led off to the left and right, disappearing deep into the mountain. He followed Ishea across a polished quartz-tiled floor as she walked to the stone carved handrail that skirted the edge of the cliff. Here Glyph could see how the mountain curved around the waterfall on each side, along with the room, in a horseshoe shape. The railing extended past either side of the falling water, covered with intricately laced vines that grew from large stone urns that must have been chiseled from the rock face below. Spider plants and gigantic topiaries also grew from the neatly spaced urns, and had long since attached themselves to the cliff face and spread prolifically. Nearly all of the plants looked like they had been there for hundreds of years.

Ishea led him around the falling water to the left side of the ‘horseshoe’. “Look.” She said, and waved her hand over the rail. Glyph looked down. They were easily six hundred feet above the city. The water began to turn to mist as it fell, but he could see that that most of it still collected in the enormous bowl at the bottom. From there the slight forward pitch of the bowl moved the water off into aqueducts branching out into the city. The excess poured over the far end into an enormous aquifer that piped the water underground to a lower elevation outside the city where it turned into a river that flowed down through the valley. He was several hundred feet down from the top of the falls, and could now see people below moving about in what looked like a marketplace.

“The prophecy says that a man will come to us near the day of Reckoning, and he will not see like us, or be of our ways, but his power will be great, and this man we shall call King.” Ishea spoke calmly as if reciting a play she had known her whole life. Glyph looked over the edge for a while admiring the different buildings and structures.

“Wait a minute, what did you just say?” he stood up and squared off to her. Ishea turned to face him, then solemnly lifted her head to stare him in the eyes.

“I said that the man who comes to us we shall call King, Glyph. That is you.”

Glyph met her gaze. “You’re shittin’ me, right?”

“No Glyph, you are lord and ruler of this land. We have waited for over a thousand years for you to come, and now, in our darkest hours, you have arrived to lead us.”

Glyph started to laugh, looked at Ishea and laughed again. After a few minutes he calmed down, and sat down on a lounge chair.

“This is not a laughing matter. I am serious.” Ishea snapped

“You want me to believe that I’m King of all this.” He said pointing to the rail.

Just then a small entourage of men came through the arched doorway about twenty feet away. They were all dressed right out of the Middle Ages. A tall thin man led the group, very lean and wiry.

“Lady Ishea.” the man said, then blanched and stopped in his tracks. “Is he the one?” he asked almost trembling.

“Yes Toban. He does not know it yet, but yes.” Ishea smiled.

“My Lord.” Toban said turning towards Glyph, and bowing on one knee. The rest of the men quickly followed suit. Glyph’s eyes flashed toward Ishea who had also curtsied.

“You are serious. I’m the King. Me?” Glyph questioned.

“Yes Lord Glyph, you are.” Ishea replied.

“I’m the fucking King?” Glyph was repeating when he looked over at Toban and the others still kneeling reverently. “What are they waiting for?” he asked Ishea.

“They are waiting for your permission to rise, Lord Glyph.” Ishea replied.

Glyph rose swiftly from the chair, then turned to face the group of kneeling men and said “Uh. Rise, rise.”

Toban stood quickly and bowed. “I am Toban, Steward of Kivas. I am at your service.” He turned to the man next to him. “Begin preparations for the coronation ceremony.” He then glanced at Ishea, and back at Glyph. “Should we give a formal announcement yet?”

Glyph just stood with his mouth agape. Ishea looked at Glyph then back to Toban. “I think we should wait till tomorrow, Toban,” she said.

Toban glanced at her and then back at Glyph. “Very well. Ah, perhaps I can show you to your chambers, my lord.” Glyph just stared then seemed to regain some composure.

“Yes, that would be great right now.” was all Glyph could get out.

Toban escorted them down a series of hallways, all carved from the mountain, to the royal chambers. Toban then excused himself and went about his business, leaving Glyph and Ishea to themselves.

“You need your rest.” Ishea said to him. “Your hour will be at hand before you realize, and you will need all your strength.” Glyph sat on the edge of the bed.

“I’m the king?”

“Yes, Glyph.” Ishea said again, as she walked across the room. She placed her hand on his forehead and traced a line with her finger. Glyph lay back on the bed, and she covered him up. “Rest well, my king.” Ishea said, crossing the room to the door.

 

Glyph woke feeling refreshed. He looked around the room. Hanging tapestries adorned the walls, and fancy furniture was scattered here and there, all ornately carved. One tapestry in particular seemed to keep drawing his eye. He began to look at it more closely. The tapestry was an intricately woven work of art depicting a scene of a great battle. The scene was of an army of men fighting against some sort of half-man, half-beast creatures. There were two prominent figures. One bore the likeness of a demon, and the other was of a man calling to his army to stand and fight.

Just then the chamber doors opened and two servant girls came in, one with a tray of cheese, fruit, and pastries. The other had a pitcher of water and goblets. They placed them on a small table. One went to a large curtain and pulled it back revealing a large open window, while the other made his bed.

“Do you require anything else my lord?” the one said bowing deeply.

“Nope, oh yes, where is Ishea?” Glyph said feeling completely out of place.

“I believe the Sorceress Ishea is on her way here, my lord.” the girl replied. “Thanks.”

The girls both curtsied and left the room. He grabbed some grapes off the tray and began to munch them down, as he walked over to the window. It was dark, though he could still see some lamps burning in the city below, and hear the sound of the waterfall crashing into the bowl below and off to his left. ‘This is insane.’ he thought. ‘I have to get out of here, I’m no King. They must have made a mistake.’

Ishea entered the room humming a tune that sounded ancient, yet beautiful. “Good morning.” she said.

“I suppose.” Glyph responded, then turned back to the window. “Look, what do you want from me really? I can’t be your king. I don’t know how to act or what to do. I just want this to end so I can start my life again.”

Ishea went to the tray and picked up a strange looking fruit and took a bite. “What I want is for you to care about the people here, and to help guide them in the coming war. I want you to be our king, and fulfill the prophecy.” She stated bluntly.

“Maybe there’s some kind of communication breakdown here. I said I can’t do those things, don’t know how, and don’t want to know. You brought me here, so just send me back.” Glyph shot back.

“I cannot, Glyph. This is your destiny.” Ishea said

“Can’t or won’t?” he said turning to face her.

“If I were to send you back, Drathus would kill you, and these people would be destroyed. You are our hope.”

“You keep saying that, but I’m not buying it. You all seem to have survived a long time without me. I think you’ll get by, and I think I’ll just take my chances back in the real world, thank you.” Glyph said, trying not to get angry.

“But this is real, Glyph. I am real, the people are real, the city, the country, the world is real. Just because you do not believe in it does not mean that it does not exist.”

“It may be real to you, but it’s not to me. Send me back!” he shouted at her in desperation.

Ishea’s eyes began to glow “I will not send you back.” She stated firmly.

“So that’s how it’s going to be then. I didn’t ask for this, I don’t want this!” Glyph said, indicating the window and the city beyond.

“Glyph, please we need your help–.”

Glyph cut her off mid-sentence. “Don’t expect me to help you do anything, you cold hearted bitch.” He spat at her.

Ishea’s eyes became like purple flames, and the fruit in her hand incinerated to dust and fell away to the floor. Ishea turned sharply and left the room. Glyph sat down on the edge of the bed. “That didn’t go so well.” He said to himself. ‘I guess I’m stuck here.’ he thought. All that was left was to wait for his hour. Glyph didn’t have to wait too long before the chill winds came, pulling the air from the room as the darkness descended upon him.