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The Hour Book 3 Chapter 19

“Wait!” Zarish cried out.

Glyph stopped for a moment, poised to take her head off with one swing.

“Before you kill me, you need to know that you are about to be ambushed. I volunteered to scout ahead so I could warn you and pass on the information I had gathered. If I do not return shortly, the others will launch the attack believing I have been killed.”

“Who? What others?” Glyph asked angrily.

“There are twenty demons in a patch of woods two leagues north of here. We were sent to try and assassinate you and the other sorcerers while you slept.”

“When?” Glyph growled.

“In a few minutes.” Zarish replied. “You may kill me now. If you wish.” She commented dryly, and made no action to defend herself.

Glyph struggled with the sword and hesitated. Half of him wanted to kill her, and the other half to spare her life. He held his sword at the ready, and telepathically woke the others with a warning of pending attack. Glyph stared into Zarish’s eyes, but there was no trace of her true thoughts there. She was a master of subterfuge, it had been the only way she could survive working under Tsach. This was the price he had to pay for sending her back to spy on the Arch-demon.

He dropped the point of his sword slightly, deactivated the weapon, and then ran the blade swiftly into her left shoulder, and out her back. Zarish stifled a scream, and winced as Glyph withdrew the King’s sword. “Now you have an excuse for not joining the party.” Glyph said and tossed her a sheet from the bed to staunch the flow of black blood oozing from the wound in her shoulder. Zarish appeared relieved, even grateful, as she nodded her understanding. “One more thing. Why would Tsach go after the Tome of Dark Lore?”

“I am not sure.” She replied, refolding the sheet, and pressing it to her wound again.

“I’ll check in on you later this evening. See if you can find that out for me in the meantime.”

Suddenly the sound of a fifty-caliber machinegun cut through the silent night air. Flashes of lightning illuminated the shades across his window. “Go on. Get out of here.” Glyph said to her. Zarish looked as if she might say something, but teleported away instead. Glyph wondered if he had done the right thing by letting her go, but there was no time to worry at the moment.

In a flash he vanished, reappearing outside a moment later. Glyph activated his shield just in time to deflect the Humvee that came hurtling toward him through the air, sending the enormous vehicle crashing into the front porch, through the wall and into the large foyer of the mansion. He leveled his molten blue sword at the demon, and to Glyph’s surprise, a beam of ice blue energy shot from the tip and blasted through the foul beast some forty feet away. The demon stumbled forward, dropped onto one knee, and toppled over dead with a three-foot round hole bored clean through the center of its chest.

Glyph moved toward the nearest sounds of fighting on the side of the house. He could see Lobrein engaged with two demons, moving beneath her shield like a martial artist, flinging lightning bolts with a graceful ease. He quickly blasted the closest one with his newly discovered ice-blue ray of death. It caught the demon in the side of the head, and left nothing. The seventeen-foot tall legs and torso crumpled to the ground in a heap, its head and shoulders completely vaporized. With a thought he ripped the shield away from the second demon, and Lobrein promptly fried the creature to a charred crust.

“By all that is holy, Glyph! How did you do that?” Lobrein asked as she made her way toward the headless demon.

“It’s something new.” Glyph said and shrugged. “There are about twenty of them. We should take care of the rest.”

“By all means. Lead the way.” Lobrein replied, an expression of sheer amazement on her face. She looked to where the head of the demon had been, then turned and followed Glyph into the woods.

Before long, the wizards of M’atra had eliminated the threat. Miatsu had injured his leg, but Lobrein had already taken care of it by the time they had all returned to the mansion that served as their headquarters.

“Not that I was keeping score mind you, but Glyph easily took care of over a dozen of them himself.” Glyph overheard Lobrein talking with Miatsu as they approached. Interested in what they were saying, he slowly moved back into the shadow of the tree line and listened.

“So his powers have increased.” Miatsu declared.

“Exponentially, I would say. He was doing things I would never have dreamed were possible.” Lobrein stated.

“Do you think it will be enough?” Miatsu asked her.

“It will have to be. Albast believes their final confrontation is approaching quickly. Our fates will be decided within the next few days.”

“May the gods be with him.” Miatsu said.

“We can only hope.” Lobrein answered, her apprehension clearly audible in her voice. “Albast is concerned. He feels that Glyph’s frustration and anger may tip the balance in favor of Tsach.”

“Is there nothing we can do to help?” Miatsu asked as they began to move into the light of the surrounding compound.

“We can be his friends, we can try to understand and sympathize with his situation, but in all reality only Shea can truly sway his thoughts and feelings. Only she can guide him to where he needs to be.” Lobrein said, and let it drop as the two of them walked across the lawn in silence.

Just as Glyph was ready to step out of hiding, Albast joined them. “How are things on M’atra?” Miatsu asked.

“Only Glyph knows for sure, but he’s not talking right now. He did say that Tsach was there. I’m worried about Shea. She will try to follow the Arch-demon. If she confronts him before Glyph gets there it could be catastrophic.” Albast explained.

“And what about Amos?” Lobrein questioned.

“I had to sedate him. Drayden’s animus was grieving over Morracor’s death. Amos was adversely affected by it, and began to break down mentally. The stress of sharing a body with two minds is taking its toll. I fear they both may lose their sanity should this continue much longer, and Amos still has a ways to go before the end.” Albast said.

“Before the end of what?” Glyph said smartly, teleporting behind the three wizards, and making like he had been there the whole time. Miatsu and Lobrein nearly jumped out of their skins, only Albast continued on as if nothing had happened.

“The end is what we call the confrontation between you and Tsach. We refer to it that way because beyond that point there are no prophecies, nothing in the living tapestries, no obscure prophetic mentions. It is the end of our knowledge of the future, and depending on the outcome, it could be the end of everything, or the beginning of a new age.” The old wizard told him. Then he stopped and turned to face Glyph. “I am sorry that I must try to keep you from learning certain things about the future, Glyph, but I implore you to try and understand. This is the most important time in all of history, and is by far the most important thing any of us has ever had to do. One misstep, one wrongly phrased sentence, and we could be facing the end of all things as we know it.”

Glyph was surprised at Albast’s candid remarks, but as far as Glyph was concerned the man had already misstepped one too many times already, no matter what he believed. “So. Are you going to send me back to M’atra or are we going to let Shea face Tsach all by herself?” Glyph said, and managed to twist the knife a little deeper.

Albast just nodded. He knew Glyph had heard everything now. “It is not that simple, Glyph. The spell is ritualistic and requires certain items and hours of mental preparation, but I am working on it. Your request to be sent back was not unreasonable, merely unrealistic. No matter what you think of my power, not even I can wave my hand and change your curse. Magic, my magic at least, does not work like that, even though yours does.”

Glyph took the apology for what it was, but he thought he should play with them a bit, and he wasn’t about to let Albast off the hook. “Fine. Whatever, I don’t really care one way or the other right now. Do what you want, Albast.” Glyph said. Truth be told he really was feeling rather detached from the matter at the moment.

Albast gave Glyph a long look. “Very well then, I shall attempt it and, when the time is right, you can make your decision whether to go forward with the process.”

Glyph shrugged his shoulders in response, and sat down on the front step of the porch beside the smoking grill of the Humvee protruding from the wall behind him. Pulling his hand upward, Glyph created a cigarette between two of his fingers, and magically lit the end before placing it in his mouth and taking a long hard drag.

Prianna made her way out the front door and eyed up the crashed vehicle. “What is going on?” She asked. She was wearing a mint-colored sheer spaghetti strap nightgown that ended near the top of her thigh.

“Prianna dear, you should be in bed.” Lobrein said with a quick glance at Albast and Miatsu.

“It is difficult to sleep with… well, with this.” She stated and indicated the wreckage.

Lobrein moved up beside her. “A minor skirmish in the woods was all, its nothing to be concerned about.” She said and ushered her back inside. Before Lobrein went through the door she glanced back at the three of them. “Could you please get rid of that thing?”

“I suppose we could try levitating it.” Miatsu surmised. “It is a bit large to teleport.”

“That’s not a bad idea. One of us could lift it up, and the other two could help pull it free.” Albast stopped and looked at Glyph. “What do you think, Glyph?” The ancient wizard asked.

Glyph took another drag from his cigarette. “I’m sorry, did you say something?” He replied nonchalantly.

Albast stared at him again. “The vehicle. Any ideas on how to move it out of here?”

Glyph casually reached over and rested his hand on the smoking wreckage. “You mean this?” He asked. A second later the massive Humvee vanished, then reappeared about fifty feet out into the front lawn. It hung a few feet off the ground for a moment, then dropped to the ground with a large crash.

“Well that solves that problem.” Miatsu commented and began to laugh. “Your power is growing quickly, Glyph. You did not even sweat.”

“Yeah. I know.” Glyph said flatly. He stood up and dusted off his jeans, then brushed his hands together. With a quick nod to Miatsu, Glyph turned and went back inside the mansion. Something was happening to him. He felt little to no power drain after using his magic, which was, as he had heard Lobrein commenting, growing exponentially. His two years of training told him one thing, his thoughts told him something else. He had now surpassed Lobrein and Albast in raw power, and it was becoming harder to control.

Glyph lay on his bed once more, but before he could close his eyes a subdued knock came at his bedroom door. Glyph checked his watch; it was almost four thirty in the morning. He let out a long sigh, then stood back up and opened the door.

Prianna stood in the hallway staring up at Glyph. “May I come in?” She asked in a quiet voice.

“Uh, Okay.” Glyph answered and stepped to one side to allow her to enter.

Prianna held a glow stone in her hand and placed it on the small table by the window and sat down on one of the leather-backed chairs. Glyph closed the door and sat down in the second chair.

“How are you feeling?” He asked.

“I am unsure. I feel different somehow, though I appear to be in perfect health.” She replied. They sat there for a minute in silence before she spoke again. “I am sorry, I should go.” Prianna began to stand.

“No, no. Sit back down, you obviously have something you want to talk about.” Glyph insisted.

Prianna sat back in the chair. “I could not sleep, and well, I am worried.”

“What’s up?”

“Everyone is talking about your power, and your state of mind recently. I fear you may become consumed by it, this anger you have, and I thought about what I could do to help. It has been a long time since I was made to service another, but I thought that perhaps I could service you. It would be okay because I choose to do this, no one is making me.” She said and stared at him.

“What do you mean Prianna? I’m not sure I follow you, what service are you talking about?” Glyph asked, and yawned.

Rather than answer him, Glyph watched as Prianna slid the spaghetti straps off her shoulders and pulled her nightgown down to reveal her milky white flawless breasts. Glyph found he couldn’t take his eyes off her chest, and when she stood and let her slip drop to the floor around her ankles he almost choked.

“I don’t–. I don’t–.” He stammered.

“It is alright Glyph, I will never tell a soul, and you will be able to think much clearer in the morning.” She explained.

“But Ishea, I, I—.” Glyph stuttered again.

“Ishea will be your wife, silly. I am not interfering in your relationship, I just want to provide a release for your pent up frustration.” She said and stepped in between his legs as he sat there. Taking her hand she gently placed it on the back of Glyph’s head and helped guide it to her breast.

 

“Glyph.”

“Glyph, wake up!”

“What? What is it?” Glyph said aloud as he was startled from his sleep. He opened his eyes and looked around expecting someone to be there but saw no one. Glyph realized he was still in the chair, with his pants down around his ankles. He jumped to his feet and pulled his pants up, and scanned the room once more to make sure no one had seen him. There was a serious kink in his neck, which Glyph healed so he could turn his head to the right without wincing. “That’s what you get for sleeping in a chair.” Glyph said, and then checked his watch. It was ten minutes after ten.

“Glyph. Are you alright?” Lobrein’s voice echoed through his mind once more.

“Lobrein, oh. Yes I’m fine. I uh, was still asleep.” Glyph replied telepathically.

“General Eddings is going to give us a briefing in five minutes, the President wanted to make sure you were going to attend.” She told him.

“Yeah, tell him I will be there. Thanks.” Glyph replied

He checked himself over in the mirror hanging on the wall. With a wave of his hand his hair became clean, combed, and his teeth brushed. “That’s better.” As he strapped on the King’s sword, his eyes came to rest on the leather-backed chair he had slept on. His thoughts quickly shifted to the night before, of Prianna, of what happened.

“Oh shit.” Glyph whispered and paused like a deer in headlights. All he could do was stare at the chair for several seconds, before he finally snapped out of it. Luckily there was no more time to think about it, and with a quick blink, found himself in the backyard.

“Welcome Mr. Young, I wasn’t sure if you were going to make it.” President Bradley said to him. “I think I’m starting to get used to all this teleporting around you do. I don’t think I even jumped that time.”

Glyph nodded sheepishly and grinned, then quickly found a seat between the President and Lobrein. As General Eddings stood and made his way to a makeshift podium, Glyph glanced about casually. He looked down the row to see who all was there, when Prianna leaned forward, winked at him and waved. Glyph stiffened and sat up straight, his eyes suddenly glued to the General, who now held Glyph’s undivided attention.

“First, I would like to commend you all on your bravery, you fought well yesterday, and though our casualties were high, the damage we inflicted on the enemy was greater. With that said, I would like to extend our thanks and gratitude for one special individual who went above and beyond the call of duty, one whose personal sacrifice will not be forgotten.” Eddings said.

Glyph looked back and forth, hoping that Eddings wasn’t referring to him.

Then President Bradley stood and walked to the front. “On behalf of the citizens of the United States of America, I would like to award this medal of distinguished service to Prianna.”

Prianna gasped, a look of astonishment on her face. With some prompting from Lobrein, she stood and went forward, as everyone present began to cheer and applaud.

“I hope you don’t mind.” Captain Haddix’s voice came from behind Glyph. “I sort of let slip who was responsible for that bamboo forest. It just kind of snowballed from there.”

Glyph nodded at Haddix as Prianna shook hands with President Bradley, who then placed the medal around her neck. “Prianna, on behalf of my fellow countrymen, I would like to thank you. What you did yesterday saved thousands of lives, and gave us a reprieve that was sorely needed.”

Prianna smiled politely, and then returned to her seat, as Eddings continued. “Thanks to this young woman, and her companions of course, we were able to regroup, heal our wounded, and even get a bit of sleep. I would also like to commend our allies from Maytara, whose courage and bravery inspired us to never give up, and to never back down. We have learned a valuable lesson, and that is that technology and weapons don’t win battles, but that something deep inside us all, our own moral fortitude and heart, will carry the day. I would also like to give our condolences to the wizards of Maytara for the loss of one of their own, the wizard Morracor, and to the Hecksoo for the loss of their revered chieftain, Grot. And so for them and the loss of many of our soldiers and friends, I would request a moment of silence.” The general stepped back and lowered his head.

For some reason, Glyph did not feel sad, only angry. This was all fine and good, but surely there was time for this later. The demons would return, it was only a matter of time. The fact that they were not already here was amazing unto itself, and of course changed nothing. If these soldiers hadn’t died yesterday, then it would be today or tomorrow. Unless he found a way to get to Tsach, none of this sentiment would mean anything. Glyph could hear Prianna weeping softly, and the sound of it grated his nerves. ‘What is wrong with me?’ He thought. ‘Why am I feeling this way?’

Then Eddings stepped forward again and continued. “The enemy has divided its forces, and is currently as of our last reports moving around the bamboo forest to the north and south. We have moved our troops in response and have positioned them along the ridgeline of the mountains on both sides of our current location. Our estimates show that the battle will begin on the north front within an hour or so, and two to three hours on the south front. Ammunition stockpiles are running low, so try and make each shot count. Once it’s gone there is no more left, and we will have to resort to hand-to-hand combat. The battle plan is simple; fight. And when there is no more fight left in you, fight harder. The future of our country, of our very world hinges on what we do here today. Most of you already know your assignments. For those who don’t, please see me after the meeting. Thank you, and good hunting.” Eddings stated and made his way toward Glyph and the President.

“Mr. Young, I hope you approve of our strategy. You were more than a little busy last night as I understand it, so I took the liberty of devising this plan.” Eddings said.

“Yeah, that’s fine General.” Glyph stated flatly. He was becoming increasingly agitated by the minute and for the life of him could not understand why. Without another word, Glyph turned away and moved straight toward Albast. Maybe he knew why after all, he thought as he approached the ancient wizard.

“So are you ready?” Glyph asked.

“That was a bit impolite don’t you think? First you walk away from the President without so much as a goodbye, and then you question me before you even say hello.” Albast said calmly.

“You know what? Fuck you. I don’t have time for this shit.” Glyph said, barely keeping his volume at normal levels.

“Glyph, this meeting wasn’t so much about strategy as it was about giving everyone something else to think about for awhile, to honor our heroes and mourn the dead. What’s gotten into you?” Albast replied.

“Me!” Glyph shouted, and then lowered his voice as he drew unwanted attention from others around him. “Can you send me back or not?!” Glyph demanded forcefully.

“I can, but I will not be able to do so for some time. There is also the matter of the upcoming battle; I cannot make preparations to alter your curse and fight demons at the same time. Even if I worked tirelessly the rest of the day I would likely still not be ready before your next hour comes upon you. I am sorry.” Albast said.

Glyph was quickly approaching his boiling point. “Just do what you have to do, and leave the demons to me.” Glyph told him.

“As the Great One commands.” Albast replied sarcastically.

Glyph had never wanted to hurt someone more in his whole life, and was gearing up to pop the old man in his mouth, when Amos shoved his way in between them.

“Glyph I need to talk to you right away.” He said insistently and guided Glyph away from Albast as he talked.

“What? What is so damned important?” Glyph asked as he shrugged off Amos’s arm on his shoulder.

“There is one last chance, one last way to avoid the prophecies, to keep them from happening.” Amos told him.

“What? What is it?” Glyph asked.

Amos’s mouth contorted again, and finally he let out a deep breath. “I can’t tell you, only that I am going to try.”

“And that’s it.”

“I know, I know. I wish I could say more.” Amos said.

“It’s not enough for me to be able to help you, Amos. I have to know more.” Glyph prompted.

“What you have surmised so far is true. You know what we know, you have deduced…” His mouth contorted a bit, and he sighed loudly before attempting to continue. “Just remember, they are the Drayden Prophecies.” Amos shook his head several times. “I’m sorry.” He blurted out, and then quickly walked away.

Glyph threw his arms up in frustration. He could see that Amos was trying, but whatever he was trying to tell him made absolutely no sense. Glyph tried hard to swallow the anger that was beginning to boil in the pit of his stomach, but this situation bordered on lunacy. He glanced around; the President and General Eddings had gone, as had most of the others. It appeared as though he was stuck here until his hour came. There was nothing left to do but prepare to fight, and for Glyph that only required a good breakfast.

Making his way around the large mansion, he entered the mess tent and got in line behind a few stragglers that had probably been out on patrol most of the night. Glyph sat at one of the tables and began to eat. After a few bites Glyph noticed a Delturan and Torlean soldier enter. As they passed, the group of American soldiers turned and saluted the M’atrans as they walked by. Glyph took a harder look at the pair as they came closer to him. It was King Covat and King Rokka, and they too got in line and made their way over to where Glyph was sitting.

“May we join you, Great One?” Covat announced

Glyph smiled. “Of course.” He replied. “What brings you here this fine morning?” Glyph asked a bit sarcastically.

“We heard there was a bit of a skirmish here last night.” Rokka said as he dove into the scrambled eggs.

“You could say that.” Glyph replied.

“We also heard that Tsach is no longer on Earth, that he has gone to M’atra.” Covat added.

“You could say that too. So what’s this all about, gentlemen?” Glyph said.

The pair looked at each other as if to see who was going to speak first. “Well, if Tsach is not here, then that just leaves Akthule in charge correct?”

“That would be my understanding.”

“Perhaps we should repay in kind the visit they shared with us last night.” Covat suggested.

“Great One, it is time to sever the head of this beast. They may not run and hide without their leader, but it would sure give us a fighting chance if he were gone.” Rokka explained.

Glyph chuckled softly, now this was sounding promising. “What did you have in mind?” Glyph asked drinking the last of his water.

“An elite team, maybe made up of all races. We could go under cover of darkness, kill this Akthule and retreat. If all was made ready, we could launch an attack during the ensuing chaos.” Covat told him.

“Assassinate Akthule, and attack at night. Well, they certainly wouldn’t be expecting that now would they?” Glyph stated.

“If we fail, it would be no great loss, but should we succeed, it could be enough to tip the war here in our favor.” Rokka said.

“And get you home to your own kingdoms that much sooner.” Glyph said, and eyed them up.

“That thought had occurred to us.” Covat said coyly.

“I understand completely, gentlemen. The thought of Tsach running amok on M’atra does not sit well with me either. The plan is sound. I will discuss it with the others, but I see no reason to delay. Go ahead and make your preparations.” Glyph said with renewed purpose. He finished his last bite and stood up. “Thank you for not abandoning me.”

Covat looked shocked at the suggestion, but it was Rokka who replied. “We have pledged to follow your banner, Great One. We do not enter into such an agreement lightly. We would not think of desertion, even at the risk of losing our kingdoms, or our world.”

Glyph and Rokka locked eyes for a moment, and Glyph knew the man would sooner run himself through with his own sword than betray him. The trial of Ishea, and the outing of Verto, had truly opened Rokka’s eyes. He wondered if this was the reason he referred to him only as the Great One, instead of King Glyph as he had in the past. Glyph nodded at both of them and left. He was actually looking forward to this mission. Akthule was a coward, and Glyph delighted in the thought of his death. The hard part would be locating him, but as luck would have it Glyph had someone on the inside who would likely be able to help in that matter.

As he left the tent Lobrein came over to him. “How are you feeling this morning Glyph?” She asked.

Glyph cast her a sidelong glance as an image of Prianna came to mind. “Uhm, okay.”

“Good.” Lobrein said and then lapsed into silence.

After a minute Glyph stopped walking. “Well, I suppose I should get to the front line.”

“Yes, of course.” Lobrein said.

Glyph noticed the troubled look she gave him. “Is there something wrong, Lobrein?” He questioned.

“Oh, well, it is nothing really.” She replied.

Glyph just stared at her and raised his eyebrows.

“Fine, it is this contention between you and Albast. It is making the rest of us uneasy.” Lobrein started wringing her hands together. “Glyph, you do know that Albast is doing what he thinks is right. He is not upsetting you out of spite or malice.” She tried to explain. “Do you understand?”

“So he’s pissing me off for the fun of it.” Glyph replied just to see her squirm a little.

“No, of course not.” She replied hotly, then catching Glyph’s slight smile swatted at his arm and to Glyph’s surprise actually smiled back in return. “You know what I mean.”

Glyph laughed a little, then grew serious. “So what is it then? Why is he being so aggravating, or is it just me?”

“I think a little of both actually.” Lobrein said, and then paused as if picking her words carefully.

“Is that even an answer?” Glyph said feeling confused.

“How can I put this? Up until recently your powers have been increasing very quickly, but now they are expanding beyond your ability to keep up.”

“Okay, I’ll buy that, but what has that got to do with me and Albast?” He asked her.

“You are the line. The line between light and darkness, life and death, good and evil. The prophecy says you are the line between these things, meaning both are contained within you, but that you will be loyal to only one in the end which implies a decision. As you come closer to the time of that decision your powers grow, but it also means that both sides are exerting more control in an effort to sway that decision to their side.” Lobrein told him.

“Lobrein, you make it sound as if good and evil are actual entities.”

“In you, Glyph, they very well could be.” Lobrein responded.

“Are you saying that I’m becoming more evil?” He asked.

“It stands up to the reasoning. You have had your moments in the past, but for the most part you have sided with good or remained fairly neutral. Imagine a pendulum; as you get closer to the end, possibly the battle between you and Tsach, it swings further and further away from its center point. In essence you are now wielding power of great evil, and of great good, and both are influencing you in different ways.”

Glyph just stared at her. As convoluted as it sounded it made perfect sense. It was perhaps what they had been telling him all along, it just took until it was actually happening to him before he could fully understand the implications. It may be why he had felt so angry, why he had been so mean to Zarish, Amos, and Albast; even why he had killed so many Kivans in the Pass when he had cast death among the demons and Grull there.

“Glyph, are you okay?” Lobrein asked after a bit.

“More than okay, Lobrein. Much more. Thank you for explaining that to me, I was beginning to think I was losing my mind.”

“So you understand?” Lobrein said as her eyes began to tear up.

“Yes, I think I do.” Glyph said and paused. “I only hope that understanding it makes it easier to control.”

“That I do not know, but it must be a step in the right direction.” Lobrein said and impulsively wrapped her arms around Glyph and hugged him tight. “How about we go kill some demons?” she asked, and wiped a tear from her cheek.

At the moment Glyph actually felt some semblance of peace, but he knew now it would be fleeting as the pendulum swung back toward the other side.

Glyph spent the next five hours teleporting from north to south of the ridgeline. No sooner would he smash the enemy down on one side than he would be needed again on the other. Shortly after noon, Glyph heard the familiar sound of a Hexzu horn in the distance. Within minutes, a wave of the Gargoyle-like creatures, led by Greem, swooped over the ridgeline and joined the battle, bombarding the enemy in a torrent of falling boulders. Now that Tsach’s forces were off the plain and fighting in the mountains they could not use their bulky war machines, and the Hexzu took full advantage.

Glyph went back and forth all day, almost in physical application of his existentialist pendulum. Now he was killing demons three and four at a time, stripping some of their energy shields and leaving them vulnerable to attack by the soldiers as well as by the Hexzu from above. As the battle wore on, Glyph realized he had not grown tired, and he had done most of the fighting, if that were even possible.

His thoughts however began to turn once more to M’atra, and Ishea. He knew that somehow he would fight Tsach, but that Ishea would want to help, and he needed someone to protect her. Not just from Tsach, but himself as well. If he could kill a hundred Kivans with a thought, he realized that he could harm Ishea just as easily. He decided he needed someone he could trust, someone with the power to save her if that happened. Glyph telepathically signaled the others that he was leaving, and teleported back to his favorite spot along the ridgeline above the bamboo forest, where Captain Haddix had placed his tent on the overlook. It was ten of five when he sat down at the picnic table and began to concentrate on Amos.

Glyph knew for a fact that Amos would not want to leave the battle, and more than that, would not want to be cursed again. But Glyph needed his help on M’atra, and there was no time to go all the way back to the gate, and try to catch up to them on their way to Kivas. With one thought, he located Amos. He concentrated on him for several minutes until his hour was almost upon him, then teleported to his position. Within a flash, Glyph appeared in front of Amos and they stood eye to eye. The color drained from Amos’s face as Glyph placed his hand on the former detective’s arm. “Amos I need your help!” Glyph shouted as Amos tried desperately to pull away from him, but once again, it was too late, and all Glyph could hear in his mind as the pair winked out of existence was Amos screaming “Nooooooo–.”

 

The Hour Book2 Chapter 17

Glyph stumbled to the right and caught himself on the table as the white light faded from his vision.

“I have been waiting.” He heard Ishea say.

Glyph spun to look at her. “Bogg!” he said wildly. “Where’s Bogg?”

“Why? What has happened?” Ishea replied, sitting up on the pillows that Glyph had used for a bed.

“Where is he?” Glyph demanded, frantically looking around the room, realizing he had no idea where Bogg was.

“Drayden found some rooms in the temple where we have been staying. Bogg is there.” Ishea said, suddenly concerned.

“Where? Take me there! He’s dying!”

“Glyph, nothing has happened here while you were gone—“

Glyph rushed over to where she lay, snatched her arm, and pulled her forcibly to her feet. Light and heat burst from Ishea’s body, sending Glyph staggering back, almost knocking him off his feet. Ishea’s eyes blazed purple, and for an instant Glyph feared she might fry him with lightning.

“Ishea, Bogg was with me in my hour. He’s having a heart attack!” He explained frantically.

Ishea’s eyes returned to normal as she rushed over to him. Placing her hand on his shoulder, they both vanished, and appeared a moment later in Bogg’s room.

“Light!” Glyph called out, as a brilliant orb of red light shot out from his palm and hovered above them. The room was immediately illuminated, and his eyes fell upon Bogg laying on a plush demon-sized bed in the corner. Glyph raced over to him and leapt up onto the bed; one look told him he wasn’t breathing. “Dammit Mother Fucker!” Glyph yelled, placing his hand on Bogg’s chest, willing his heart to beat.

Ishea placed her hands on each side of Bogg’s head and closed her eyes.

A moment later Drayden appeared beside them on the bed and placed his hand over Glyph’s.

“Beat dammit!” Glyph screamed aloud at Bogg’s heart.

With a sudden gasp of air, Bogg’s body arched upward and he began to cough.

“Fucker.” Bogg choked out in a whisper. “Just let me die.”

“Amos,” Drayden said. “Ishea is going to put you to sleep, your heart is in need of repair, and it will take some time to heal the damage.”

Bogg nodded, and drifted off to sleep at Ishea’s touch.

“His condition is stable now, Glyph.” Drayden said, as Lobrein entered through the door.

“What is going on?” she asked Drayden as she willed the wall sconces to flame. The blind wizard shrugged and turned to Glyph.

“Bogg was with me in my hour.” Glyph said flatly, removing his hand from Bogg’s chest and extinguishing the light he had created.

Lobrein looked shocked for a second, then relieved, and finally angry. “Transference. It can occur, especially if you are cursed. I should have seen this coming.” Lobrein stated.

Glyph just stared at her. “How’s that?”

“You transported Amos between worlds; the curse that carries you back and forth now affects him as well.”

Glyph rubbed his head. “So, now he’s cursed. Just like me?” Glyph asked, fearful he already knew the answer.

“Yes, and because of you as well. I understand you brought Amos here to save his life, and that is commendable, but you inadvertently exposed him to your curse. Now he shares your fate.” Lobrein replied.

“I’m sure I’ll be more careful in the future.” Glyph remarked snidely.

“It is not your fault Glyph, it is not as if you wished your fate upon him. You brought Amos here without knowing; and to save his life.” Ishea said, casting a glare in Lobrein’s direction.

Glyph had already thought of the secret wish he had made while standing on the back of the boat, as three people attacked Bogg on the pier. Hearing Ishea say it struck him to the core.

“What happened on Earth?” Lobrein asked, ignoring Ishea’s look. “Did your curse change?”

“You could say that. Possessed people are trying to kill me again, only this time they’re after Bogg too.” Glyph said.

“This does not bode well.” Drayden spoke up, his white eyes searching the room. “If Tsach has altered the curse to affect Glyph, then that change would also apply to Amos, and if Tsach discovers that Amos is moving between worlds as well, he might be able to exercise control over our friend.”

“Damn.” Glyph said softly.

“We should begin to repair Amos’s heart as soon as possible. When he recovers, I will work with him. Maybe there is a mental exercise that would help him to stay out of Tsach’s line of sight.” Drayden said, rubbing his chin. “In the meantime Ishea and I have work to do.”

“Do you need any assistance?” Lobrein asked.

“No. I think we can handle this one.” Drayden replied while turning to examine Amos.

“I need some sleep.” Glyph said. “Is there an empty room around here for me, by any chance?”

“There are two to the left.” Lobrein said as she left the room.

Glyph turned to look at Ishea. She was placing her hands on Bogg’s head as she had a few moments ago. Before she closed her eyes she shot Glyph a stare that made him a bit weak in the knees. ‘She was waiting for me. She wanted to have sex with me.’ He thought, as if he was just coming to this conclusion for the first time.

“I’m gonna go.” He said, his voice trailing off as he realized they were already working on Bogg.

Turning, Glyph walked out of the room and turned left in the hallway. There he saw a door adjacent to Bogg’s, and one across the hall. He picked the one next to Bogg, and wearily pushed back the dark purple drapery covering the opening. Glyph walked the length of the room to the demon-sized bed in the corner, climbed up, and sat down. His hour seemed to take more and more out of him each time.

As soon as his head hit the pillow, a voice rang out from the hall.

“Great One!”

It was a gargoyle; Glyph could tell by the accent. Damn. Sitting up, Glyph spoke the word ‘light’ and torches along the length of the room lit afire.

“What?” Glyph shouted, more than a little annoyed.

“I have a message for you from Greem.” The gargoyle replied.

Glyph scratched his head and pulled his hand down across his face. “Enter.” Glyph finally called out.

The gargoyle pushed the curtain aside and strode up to Glyph. “Great One. My name is Aroth. Greem requests your presence in the temple dungeon.”

“The dungeon? What?” Glyph questioned, unsure if he heard Aroth correctly.

“Yes. He wishes me to take you there now.” Aroth replied.

“What’s this all about?”

“I know only that Greem has discovered something in the dungeon, and that I am to escort you there.”

“Alright, fine.” Glyph conceded, grabbed his sword off the bed, and strapped it on.

Glyph followed the gargoyle out into the hall, down several corridors and two flights of stairs before exiting into the main hallway. Glyph recognized it as being near the giant room where Cruix had held court with Ishea and him earlier. They passed the huge main doors and continued to the spiral stairs leading down.

As they entered the dungeon, Glyph could see three Hexzu around the base of the first pillar. Something was attached to it. He suddenly realized that it was the female demon he had seen tied to the pillar when they had first re-entered the temple to fight Cruix.

“What the hell is going on?” Glyph said, feeling strangely annoyed. He circled the column, and stared up at the naked female demon.

Greem stepped up and drew him aside. “Great One, the demon professes to know you. I had my doubts, but she insisted that she be able to speak with you. She claims to have a message for you. I felt I should inform you; I apologize if I have erred in that judgment.”

“No Greem, that’s alright. I’m just a bit tired; I didn’t mean to snap at you.” Glyph replied.

He turned back to the demon, which still looked unconscious. “Well, I’m here! What do you have to tell me?” Glyph shouted.

The demon’s head rolled upward to the left, and its eyes popped open and stared piercingly at Glyph. “Great One, I implore you to listen to me. Save me! I will do whatever you want, just do not let him kill me!” She gasped out in a hoarse whisper.

“What did you do to her?” Glyph asked glancing at Greem and Aroth.

“We have done nothing but question her, Great One.” Greem replied.

“The Hexzu will not harm you—.” Glyph began to say.

“Tsach!” The demon gasped again. “As soon as he realizes you are here I will be dead. I can help you, I know things; I was a spy for Tsach.”

“And what do you want me to do?” Glyph asked for clarification.

“Do not let him kill me! I beg you!” A wave of sheer terror spread over her. The demon locked its wild eyes on Glyph. “He is coming!”

“Who? Tsach?” Glyph questioned her. The demon’s head suddenly dropped and she passed out. Glyph and Greem exchanged looks.

“Greem, I gotta get some sleep. Let me know if she says anything else, and see if you can find something to cover her up with.” Glyph said as he started towards the stairs.

“Your misguided morality sickens me!” a deep voice boomed out.

Glyph looked back at the hanging demon. The voice was different; this was the voice he had heard on the Bridge of Bones, the voice of Tsach; and it was coming from the female demon.

As Glyph turned around, the demon laughed hideously, and spat on one of the gargoyles that had gotten too close.

Drawing forth his sword, he marched straight toward the creature, and held the point of the fiery-blue blade at its chest.

“Kill her, Glyyph! Go ahead, take her life if it makes you feel any better.” Tsach’s voice bellowed from the female demon.

“What the frak do you want from me?” Glyph demanded.

“Surely you know by now, Glyyph.” Tsach replied smugly.

“Why don’t you enlighten me?” Glyph replied, already growing annoyed at how the demon slurred the pronunciation of his name.

“Your soul, you ignorant hyukduk! And before I rip it out of you, I will make you lap at my chitin!”

“Great One, kill it now. Conversing with it like this could be dangerous, for all of us.” Greem called out.

“Yes, kill me you pathetic shit! Take her life or I will do it for you. I can see you for what you are now, a weak minded peasant, unworthy of wiping a Grull’s ass!” Tsach spat at him.

“He can’t hurt us, Greem, the demon has those anti-magic restraints on its wrists.” Glyph said.

“Yet he has possessed her form, is that not magic?” Greem replied.

Tsach’s laughter boomed, and echoed through the dungeon.

“Leave her, Tsaach!” Glyph yelled, slurring the demon’s name in spite.

“Or what? I have no further use for this bitch. She has served her purpose, but she is mine, and I will see her dead. There is no further use in talking to –.”

Glyph teleported in front of the demon’s face, and while hovering, reached out and grabbed its head and yelled “Awake!”

The demon’s eyes fluttered and rolled back in to its head. Suddenly the female demon came into consciousness, and Glyph lowered himself back to the floor.

“You…you broke the connection…how is that possible?” She stammered.

“It won’t be for long. How can I save you from him? I could sense he was about to snuff you out.” Glyph asked.

“I do not know. I do not think there is a way.” She replied.

“A blood oath sacrifice.” Greem said quietly.

Glyph turned to look at him then back at the demon. “Would that work?”

The demon stared at Greem. “It might.”

“Then do it!”

Greem stepped forward and placed the handle of his vorka into her chained hand. The female demon flipped it around adeptly and placed the blade to her other arm.

She paused and looked around the room as if trying to find another way.

“What’s the holdup? If you don’t do this fast, he’ll come back and kill you!” Glyph said, growing impatient.

“She is weighing her odds Great One; her blood sacrifice binds her to you for life, until you set her free. As I understand it, she becomes your slave.” Greem stated smiling slightly.

“So it’s me or death. Which is it going to be?”

The demon’s eyes went wide with fear again, and quickly slid the flint-knapped edge across her forearm. As the blood poured forth, she began to chant. “To you my life belongs, to you this I decree, until the time you set me free, forever I am property.”

“Now what?” Glyph asked.

“Take the blood…” The female said weakly.

Glyph reached over and caught her drizzling blood in his hands.

“You place it on your face like this.” Greem said, obviously having witnessed the ritual before. “And this.” Making a striping motion across his cheeks and chin. Glyph did as he was shown. “Great One, Tsach will take this as a personal challenge, and a grievous insult. If he wanted you dead before, he will definitely want your head up a Turmur’s ass now.” Greem cautioned.

“Good. Now what?” Glyph asked the demon but she had already passed out.

Her head rolled up, and her eyes popped open, staring at Glyph.

“What!” Tsach screamed from her mouth, eyeing the ritualistic blood pattern on Glyph’s face.

“Leave her Tsach! She’s mine now!” Glyph shouted.

Tsach let out a scream of sheer hatred. “When next we meet, I will see you dead, and if you run I will hunt you wherever you go, wherever you hide, and I will make you pay dearly!” he hissed.

“Leave!” Glyph shouted with his mind as well, and the demon immediately slumped to one side.

The room grew eerily silent. Sweat rolled off Glyph’s forehead, falling to the ground below. The blue aura of the sword faded away, and he slowly lowered the blade.

“That went pretty well. Don’t you think?” Glyph asked, sheathing his weapon.

Greem shook his head. “The power you wield is amazing Great One, but more so the cunning of your mind.”

“Thank you Greem, but don’t forget the luck. I’d have been dead along time ago without it.”

Greem nodded his assent.

“Take her down, and see if you can find her some clothes.” Glyph said gesturing to the demon. “I’m going to get some sleep, and Greem, make sure those anti-magic bindings are secure, just in case.” Glyph started for the stairs, and as an afterthought turned back to Greem and said, “A Turmur’s ass?”

“A figure of speech.” Greem scowled happily, and pointed at the other two Hexzu in the room, who immediately set to work.

Glyph smiled, shook his head, and started the long trek up the staircase; he was almost to the top when the thought of teleporting finally crossed his mind. Silently cursing his stupidity, he closed his eyes and pictured his room in the temple. A moment later Glyph was walking towards the demon-sized bed.

Glyph felt like the weight of the universe had taken residence on his shoulders. Every time he turned around someone was tossing another crisis at him. It was getting to be too much, solving everyone else’s problems when he had so many of his own.

He heaved himself up, and sat down on the edge of the enormous bed to take his boots off. Laying the King’s Sword beside him on the bed, Glyph slid out of his shoulder holster and dropped it on the floor beneath his feet.

Glyph looked at his watch and realized he was only going to get a few hours sleep before daybreak, and something told him Lobrein would come to give her lesson shortly thereafter.

He plopped back onto the pillow, and wished he could have a nice hot shower. Glyph could remember the five-minute showers he used to take those many months ago in the apartment. Closing his eyes, he remembered Simeon, and the horrific torture Glyph had been forced to endure by his hand. That memory faded and was replaced by an image of dismembering Simeon up in the mountains.

A faint smile crossed his lips, but quickly faded, as the thought of Srokus came to mind. ‘Those last words… did Srokus really rape Ishea, or was he trying to mess with me?’ Glyph wondered, slowly drifting off to sleep.

“Glyph.” Ishea whispered from beside the bed.

The sound of her voice startled him awake. “Holy shit! You just scared the life out of me!” Glyph said, now breathing heavily.

“I just wanted to tell you that Amos has been healed.” She explained, and winked at him. “I knew you wanted to discuss some things…” She paused, as she climbed up onto the bed next to him. “So here I am.” She said innocently, while pressing herself up against him.

“Look I just want to let you know, if you ever want to talk about what happened with Cruix, I’m here for you.” Glyph said, deciding to go ahead and fish around for some answers.

“Oh how sweet.” Ishea said, her demeanor shifting south. “You are here for me. Do you think talking with you about it will make me feel any better?” She said sarcastically.

“No. That’s not what I meant.”

“What did you mean Glyph?” Ishea shot back, and shifted as to kneel beside him.

“I just meant if you have the need to talk about it with someone, I would be willing to do that.” Glyph replied.

“What do you want Glyph? Do you want me to tell you about all the sordid details? Is that what you want?” Ishea said, her eyes taking on a faint purple glow.

“No, no, I mean… I just…” He stammered at her.

As Glyph began to sit up, Ishea pounced on top of him pushing him back onto the bed and putting her face just inches from his own.

“Just shut up.” Ishea whispered to him, and pressed her lips full against his own.

He thought about resisting for a second, before giving in to Ishea’s obsession with him since she had emerged from Cruix’s chambers.

Ishea looked into his eyes and smiled; Glyph smiled back. Slumping to one side, he collapsed beside her, and as she ran her fingers through his hair, Glyph finally succumbed to exhaustion and fell asleep.

 

Glyph found himself wandering the halls of Toleth’Va. After a short while he came upon some steps, and decided to take them. The steps seemed to grow in length with every step, but eventually he reached the top. He expected to see the large terrace, with monks addling about, the raised daises and sunken koi ponds. Instead he found himself in a mountain forest. Following a deer path nearby, he discovered a wide river and approached its banks. He knelt down to take a drink of the inviting water, and noticed his reflection was not his own. It was that of an old man with gray hair and beard.

“You are the man from Toleth’Va. I have to tell you something.” Glyph said. “I have chosen.”

The old man stared back at him “You have a truthful insight, a gift of the gods. Use it wisely.”

“What do I do now?” Glyph asked the old man.

“Continue.”

Suddenly, the reflection was gone, replaced by the image of a mountain and clouds. Glyph looked upwards and realized he stood in a valley between two mountains. The one to the right side of the river suddenly caught the first rays of light from the sun as it crested the ridgeline….

 

“It is time.” A loud voice rang out.

Glyph’s eyes popped open, the lanterns on the walls were lit. He had to think about where he was. Then his eyes focused on the source of the voice, and there stood Lobrein a few feet from the end of his bed.

“What the fuck? Don’t you people knock?” Glyph screamed, bolting upright in bed. “I finally get a chance to sleep in a real bed, and you have to ruin that!”

“Glyph, it is well past sunrise. If we do not begin now, we will not be able to finish before the Hexzu are ready to leave.” Lobrein stated calmly.

Glyph let out a huge sigh. “Fine. Can I at least get dressed in private?”

Lobrein turned and left the room. Glyph found his clothes, and stuck the blood stained articles back onto his body. The stench was getting out of hand, and Lobrein noticed as soon as he entered the hall.

“You do know that you smell, right?” Lobrein asked, waving her hand under her nose.

“Yes, and I would clean up if I had enough water and some soap.” Glyph shot back at her.

“Why not create some?”

“I can make ice, but it disappears after awhile.” Glyph replied as they walked into Lobrein’s room down the hall.

“Water is not that much different, and you are correct. All elemental magic is finite in nature. If you create water with magic and drink it, it tastes good, and quenches your thirst, but when it disappears, it also vanishes from your stomach. You therefore cannot benefit from it in that way, however you can use water as a tool. Create the water and use it to wash away the dirt, when the water vanishes you are still clean.”

Glyph had to admit she did make sense. “Mind if I give that a whirl?”

“Not at all.” Lobrein replied wrinkling her nose. “There is a room at the end of the hall that is suitable. Leave your clothes by the door and I will take care of them for you.”

Glyph sauntered down the hall and into a room with no furniture. He took off his clothes and left them where Lobrein could take them. After a few short tries he got it to work. Creating water was a rather exhausting process, especially trying to get the temperature just right. Glyph discovered that by super-heating the rock wall he could dry himself off. As the water on the floor began to disappear, it left a fine layer of sediment.

He found his clothes where he had left them, completely free of dirt and blood stains. ‘Now that’s a good trick.’ Glyph thought. After getting dressed he walked back to Lobrein’s room.

Lobrein was sitting cross-legged on a massive carpet. “That is much better.” Levitating a few feet off the floor she added, “Shall we begin?”

“Alright, what do you want me to do?” Glyph asked.

Hop.” Lobrein said strangely.

Glyph felt strange again, his leg began to bounce, and suddenly he was hopping around, back and forth. He tried to stop and found that he couldn’t.

When she saw that she had Glyph’s attention Lobrein went on. “The simpler the word is, the harder it is to break away from. It can only be one word spoken, so words with more meaning have more power and cause greater effect. Words cannot force a person to knowingly inflict harm to oneself.”

Glyph continued hopping; this was going a bit far. How had he done it with Srokus; that was the answer, if he could only remember.

“A Word spell can be dangerous, and even deadly. Therefore it becomes easiest to train the mind to block such spells automatically.”

‘Block the control’ he thought, and set his mind to severing the connection of control Lobrein had placed over him. Glyph was breathing heavy now, and his legs were starting to give out. “I think I get it now, you can stop.”

“Do you? A more complex word such as ‘veritos’ is actually easier to defend against, even though it is potentially more dangerous than, say, ‘hop’. Veritos, or vertigo if you like, requires one to feel fear, and anxiety, while experiencing dizziness, blurred vision, and even physical illness. Block any one of these feelings, and the whole chain crumbles. While ‘hop’ is just the act of jumping up and down. This single simple action creates a stronger connection, and one you are having trouble freeing yourself from. ” Lobrein explained.

“Enough!” Glyph said, and felt a click inside his head as if a switch had turned off. Was it his own doing or had Lobrein released him? He quickly sat down on the ground and began to rub his aching legs.

“It is harder than one would think.” Lobrein said, smiling.

Glyph had been freed, not broken free.

“The real trick to defend yourself is to take a piece of your mind and devote it to that task. The easiest way is to think of a song you like, or remember, and sing it in your mind over and over, until you hear nothing else. Once you have it, continue to play it softer, while doing something else. With practice, you no longer hear the song. For some reason this thought pattern disrupts the magic of the word, and the compulsion to obey is no longer there.”

“And that’s it?” Glyph asked.

“More or less.” Lobrein replied. “Of course this will take practice, Glyph. It is not an easy thing to do, even though it may sound simple. Care to give it another go?” Lobrein questioned.

Glyph nodded. “Something besides hop.” He told her, and sang the song in his mind, concentrating only on the lyrics.

Crawl.” Lobrein spoke again in that resonating low voice.

Several seconds went by, and he repeated the song again. He looked up at Lobrein who was now raising her eyebrows at him.

“That was very good Glyph, may I see your technique?” She asked, and placed her feet down to the floor and stepped toward him.

Glyph shrugged smugly, “Sure.”

Lobrein placed her hand to his left temple, and removed it a second later. She tilted her head to one side looking confused. “Who is this Pop-eye?” She asked.

Glyph smiled. “It’s a long story.”

“No matter. The technique is sound, yet you still must learn to repress it, unless you want to hear it all the time, or risk being attacked before you can sing the song.” Lobrein turned and walked over to the table and poured some water from a flask there. “Still, for your first lesson it is amazing progress. I worry about you Glyph. I worry that maybe you are becoming too powerful too fast.”

“What? Are you serious? I have to be powerful, Lobrein. In case you don’t remember I’m being hunted by yet another demon. Besides, it’s written in your damn precious prophecy. If I don’t learn this fast I’m dead, and a lot of other people are too. I don’t know how I can do it, but I can, and I will.” Glyph ranted.

“Do you know the principle of addition?” Lobrein asked.

“Do I know how to add? Yes, of course.” Glyph said feeling somewhat incensed.

“What is the sum of three hundred sixty-seven and eight hundred eighty-six?” She questioned him. Before he could answer, Lobrein said, “crawl.”

Falling to his hands and knees Glyph began to crawl around in circles. He quickly began to sing in his mind but he found he could not stop crawling.

“The song is only a defense Glyph, not the cure. That is much harder to come by as it may differ with the word used. What may work to break you free from one word will not necessarily do so for another.” She watched him go around a few more times. “Sometimes concentrating on an object works, sometimes thinking of the word that means the opposite can get results, you could also try invoking strong positive emotions; the negative ones do not help. I will leave you to it for awhile, if you free yourself, your lesson for today is over, if not I will be back in an hour to bring you out of it.” With that Lobrein turned and left the room.

“Fucking bitch.” Glyph grumbled, trying his best now to concentrate on the back of his hand as he crawled around and around in circles.

Thirty minutes later, he broke free of Lobrein’s word of command. Healing his aching knees, Glyph stood and went in search of Greem.