The Hour Book2 Chapter 13

The blinding white light faded, and Glyph inhaled deeply. He lowered Bogg’s body gently to the ground and immediately set to work. Glyph brought his hands down to the gash across Bogg’s abdomen, and began to draw forth the image of what must be done in his mind. A red aura formed between his hands as he moved them slowly upward. Sweat beaded up on his forehead, as he concentrated on using the aura to push Bogg’s intestines back into his gut. It was becoming increasingly difficult to maintain, but Glyph hung on. Finally after several agonizing minutes, the last of the entrails slipped inside the gaping wound.

The aura now covered the wound, and Glyph began to imagine the skin and muscles knitting back together like a zipper. He began to shake as he knelt beside Bogg with his arms out, and his hands a few inches above the gash. Slowly, Glyph pulled his hands to the left, and the tissue started to mend. By the end, Glyph felt as if he were pulling a plow down a city street. ‘Why is it so hard to do this?’ he wondered as he finished.

Detective Bogg lay there in front of him, unconscious. Glyph huffed and puffed as he rested with his hands on his knees. Wiping the sweat off his brow, Glyph glanced around, surveying the area. He briefly wondered how the battle was going; then his eyes fell upon the body of Oathtet.

Dragging himself to his feet, Glyph crept over to where the gargoyle lay. One look told him there was no hope; Oathtet was dead. No amount of healing would bring him back. Glyph made his way back over to Bogg, who was breathing erratically.

“Don’t die fucker, I put a lot of time and effort into saving your ass.” Glyph spoke to Bogg.

Just then a gargoyle swooped down and landed about twenty feet away. “Hey! Hexzu!” Glyph shouted.

The Gargoyle turned, and leapt to where Glyph stood. “Great One?”

“Yes. You must get word to Grot. Tell him where I am,” he paused, “and tell him Oathtet is dead.”

The Gargoyle winced and flew off to find Grot. Glyph sat down next to Bogg, and tried to ease his breathing. ‘It shouldn’t be this difficult.’ He thought, as he struggled to concentrate on helping Bogg. Slowly, the detective’s breathing began to ease, and color began to return to his ashen face.

Glyph could hear beating wings, and turned to look as Grot and several other gargoyles landed nearby.  It appeared that one of them was arguing with Grot as they approached him. When they came closer, Glyph could see it was one of Grot’s Ruktan, the one named Crowf.

“Oathtet. Where is he?” Grot said immediately.

Glyph sighed and pointed at Oathtet’s bloodied corpse a few feet away. Crowf pushed past Grot and ran to the dead body; Grot followed slowly. They formed a semi-circle around Oathtet’s form, and spread their left wings to overlap that of the next Gargoyle in line. Then they all turned their heads to the right and began to chant. It was the most soulful melodic tune Glyph had ever heard. The sound of it brought a tear to his eye; he was tired of people dying for him.

They quickly broke rank and two of them flew off, while Grot, Crowf and two other guards came back over to Glyph.

“How?” Grot choked out.

“Srokus. He leapt from the shadows like a coward and put his sword through Oathtet’s back.” Glyph replied.

“What of Srokus?” Grot asked, gnashing his teeth as he spoke the name.

“Dead. He unwisely chose to follow me to my world, and I killed the evil son of a bitch.”

Grot nodded his head. “And this one?” He said, indicating Bogg.

“His name is Bogg, I brought him here from my world to try and save his life.” Glyph explained.

“I do not understand, Great One.” Crowf snapped. “You would do this for him, but not for Oathtet?”

“No, it’s not like that. There wasn’t enough time for me to get to Oathtet.” Glyph said.

“You could not heal him, like you were doing to this one when we arrived?” Crowf questioned.

“He had been dead too long, there was nothing I could do.”

“I do not see the relevance of the word ‘great’ in your title.” Crowf spat.

“Cease!” Grot yelled. “You will not speak in this manner! Once more and I will eject you from my council!”

Crowf huffed and flew off into the semi-darkness.

Glyph sat there open-mouthed, wondering what had just taken place. Had he done something to offend Crowf? Glyph had become so insensitive to death lately, he almost forgot what it was like to care; almost. He needed to get Bogg to Drayden; Glyph knew he hadn’t the technical skill to completely heal Bogg, and from the looks of him he wasn’t out of the woods yet. More than that, he wanted to see if Drayden had breached the doorway to Cruix’s inner chamber while he was gone.

“Grot.” Glyph said.

“Yes Great One” Grot answered, seemingly distracted by Crowf’s absence.

“Can you take us to the temple? I need to see Drayden.”

“What? Oh, certainly.” Grot replied, and signaled to a guard to take Bogg.

Grot stepped in behind Glyph and grabbed him with both arms and one leg. The Gargoyle’s wings beat hard as they lifted off the ground, and his other leg latched onto Glyph. They flew skyward into the dark night, circling as they gained altitude.

Glyph stared at the city as he went around; all he could see were a few fires and torchlights, and the sound of battle off in the distance. The temple loomed over the rest of Okrune, like a small mountain in the desert.

They were taking the last loop of flight when a sonic boom went off. Glyph stared at the temple as a blast wave of wind pushed them backward.

“What was that?” Grot yelled.

“Look!” Glyph replied and pointed to the temple, which was cracking in half down the front face.

A Blinding bluish-white light came pouring out of the crack in the temple, which continued down the main avenue of the city. The ground split open about six feet wide, dividing the stone street, and stopped when it reached the front gate, splintering the giant boulder into pieces.

As the gate crumbled, the light flickered and disappeared.

Something had happened, something big. “The temple!” Glyph cried out. Grot immediately fell into a sharp dive and swooped toward the make-shift headquarters on the upper terrace.

When they landed, Glyph indicated to the gargoyle carrying Bogg to follow him. Glyph ran down the corridor and through the curtains into the stadium-like room. Rushing down the steps, he entered a cloud of thick dust and debris.

Glyph stopped on the stairs, and clapped his hands together in front of him. A gale force wind spread outward from his clasped hands and swept the air clean in a matter of seconds. He could hear Drayden coughing, and raced down the stairs and across the large room to the door.

“Drayden! Are you Okay?”

“I think so.” Drayden gasped out, then coughed up some phlegm.

“The door?” Glyph asked, examining it up close. “Ishea?” he said as he turned back to the old wizard.

“I am close, but I have not yet broken through.”

“Then what was that?” Glyph tried to ascertain.

“I suspect something has taken place inside Cruix’s personal dimension.”

“What?” Glyph demanded.

“I do not know, however…” Drayden replied and threw some yellow powder onto the chamber door. “The magical protection has greatly diminished. I should be able to get through within a few hours.”

Glyph directed the Hexzu guard to place Bogg on the daybed he had slept on earlier. “Could you have my bag retrieved? It’s hidden in the rocks just outside the sewer drain on the West side of the city.” Glyph requested.

“I will see to it personally Great One.” The Hexzu replied. Glyph thanked him and watched as the gargoyle took to the air, slowly spiraling upward until it reached the open columns at the top of the amphitheater and disappeared into the night sky.

Glyph checked Bogg over, and then walked the short distance to where Drayden was working. “Do you have something that will keep him stable until you can get a look at him?”

“You brought someone with you? From Earth?” Drayden asked without looking up.

“It was either that or let him die. Srokus cut him open pretty badly.”

“Srokus. He followed you to Earth?”

“Yeah. It wasn’t pretty, but the foul fucker is dead now.”

Drayden turned around, and sighed. “My replacement has arrived.” He muttered under his breath.

“What?” Glyph asked him.

Drayden broke into a sudden fit of coughing and pushed a vial of liquid at Glyph. As Glyph took the potion, Drayden waved him away and went back to his work.

Glyph took the vial over to Bogg, and pulled him into a sitting position. ‘This ought to be fun.’ he thought, and placed his hand to the side of Bogg’s head. ‘Consciousness.’ Glyph thought. ‘Switch on the senses…come to life.’

“Oh, … Awake!” he said, realizing the correct word

The detective’s eyes popped open, and bulged. Suddenly he let out a deep groan, and doubled over clutching his abdomen.

“Bogg! You have to drink this! It will save your life!” Glyph said forcefully.

Bogg lifted his head and stared at Glyph. “Things feel pretty shitty down there.” He growled through clenched teeth.

“You have to drink this, it will help you heal. Then I can knock you back out so you don’t feel the pain.” Glyph said, placing his face a foot away from Bogg’s.

Bogg howled again, and quivered as sweat poured off his head. “Give it to me!”

With supreme effort, Bogg snatched the vial from Glyph’s hand and downed it in one shot. Groaning, Bogg curled into the fetal position.

Glyph quickly reached over and touched Bogg’s head. “Sleep!”

Bogg’s body suddenly relaxed and his head slumped to one side as he slipped into unconsciousness.

Glyph remembered several occasions when Ishea had done the same thing to him. There were more levels to wizardry than he could have possibly imagined, and it awed him a bit to think he might be on par with Ishea and Drayden now. There had always been things they could do that he couldn’t, and as he thought about what he had just done to Bogg, he decided that wasn’t the case anymore.

“That looks like a damn fine idea.” Glyph commented to himself, eyeing up Bogg’s sleeping form.

“Wake me if anything changes.” He called out to Drayden, who nodded his understanding. Glyph made a quick bed from some remnants of curtains and a few slightly charred pillows, and lay down. Within a few minutes he was sound asleep.

 

Glyph awoke several hours later jolting upright. He quickly glanced around at the room surrounding him. Then he spun around to look at Bogg.

“Holy crap. I wasn’t dreaming this.” Glyph muttered and checked to make sure Bogg was still breathing.

Stretching, he noticed his bag was on the floor nearby. Picking it up, Glyph made his way over to Drayden. He watched him working on the door, and wondered how long Drayden had been without sleep, not that it mattered. Glyph knew Drayden would die of exhaustion before he would let anything interfere with getting that door open.

Glyph situated himself a few feet away and began to rummage through his bag, taking a mental inventory of everything he had left. At the bottom of the bag, Glyph found a nylon pouch containing a gun cleaning kit, and an enormous bag of cocaine. ‘Shit. Why did I even bother to pick this up?’ He thought, and began to tuck it back inside.

“What is that?” Drayden suddenly asked, breaking the silence in the room.

“This?” Glyph questioned, holding up the bag of coke. “It’s a drug. Some people on my world use it to make themselves feel enhanced. I tried it a few times when I was younger, but to tell you the truth, I’m not really sure why I took it with me to begin with.”

“May I see?” Drayden asked and extended his hand toward Glyph.

Handing him the bag, Glyph watched Drayden’s eyebrows raise up over his dull white eyes as he examined the powder. Then he poured some into a small crucible, and stirred in something that looked like fennel seed. He added a few drops of a yellowish liquid and placed it over a hovering flame. Drayden then placed more of the cocaine into a vial of clear liquid and shook it vigorously.

The silence returned as Drayden set about his work, and Glyph started to recall the past days events as he waited. The image of Oathtet with Srokus’s sword protruding from his chest came to mind. Glyph frowned, thinking about it.

“What is troubling you Glyph?” Drayden finally asked.

“Oathtet died, and I think Crowf believes it’s my fault.”

“Oathtet you say. Poor Grot, I grieve for him.”

“They take death pretty seriously, don’t they?” Glyph said.

“Not just any death.”

“What do you mean? Oathtet was just part of his… what did he call it…Ruktan.”

“Ruktan is the Hexzu family unit. Oathtet was prince of the ruling family; Grot is his father.”

“Shit. Then Crowf and Greem…” Glyph trailed off

“Were Oathtet’s brother and cousin.” Drayden finished, tossing a glob of the thick white paste he had just created onto the door.

Glyph just shook his head; the thought never occurred to him that they were related.

Suddenly Drayden smiled wide. “It is fortunate that you are awake, Glyph. It saves me the trouble of having to wake you.” He said staring at the smoking, bubbling paste. “Perhaps there was a reason you picked up that drug, you just did not know it at the time.”

Glyph’s eyes lit up as he jumped to his feet and pulled the King’s Sword, willing it to life. He turned to face the door as Drayden launched a vial of milky white liquid onto the door, which was now a pale yellow color. The door disintegrated wherever the liquid landed, and then spread outward, consuming it completely. As the last remnants faded away, Ishea stumbled out of the opening and fell to the ground at Glyph’s feet. The staff she had been leaning on clattered across the floor. Glyph laid down his sword by his feet and knelt beside her. Grasping her by the shoulders, he slowly rolled her over to look at her face.

“Ishea!” Drayden barely gasped aloud, as he attempted to drag his exhausted frame over to her.

“She’s alive!” Glyph shouted, noting her breathing; it was then he noticed the black brassiere she was wearing for a shirt. A cross-laced string ran the length of the front, leaving a two-inch gap of skin revealed all the way down to her waist. Purple leather pants and black boots completed the outfit. Her hair was noticeably shorter, and looked as if someone had chopped off her ponytail. A pair of armored plates covered the length of her forearms, and identical coverings adorned her shins. A thick, black leather cape hung about her shoulders, and Glyph tried to wrap the folds of it around her, as he didn’t know what else to do.

“Go look for Cruix.” Drayden said in a low voice, and placed his hand on Glyph’s shoulder.

Glyph looked up, tears of joy and sadness welled up in his eyes, and Drayden pointed toward the door

“I will look after her. Go. Quickly!”

Glyph picked up the sword and re-activated it. He didn’t want to know what he might find in there. ‘Some things aren’t worth knowing’ he thought, as he tried to block Srokus’s last words from entering his mind.

Glyph stepped into the short corridor behind the door, and cautiously peered into a large room. It had the look of opulence, but was now in total ruin. Artwork covered the walls, depicting scenes of other worlds, some in motion. Long black streaks of soot plastered the ceiling, walls and furniture; pedestals lay strewn about. Everything was covered in demon blood, and what appeared to be fine bits of flesh, bone, and gore were everywhere. The smell was so horrific it made Glyph gag several times. There were whips and chains scattered across the floor. The tattered remains of Ishea’s leather vest lay across the back of a stone chair.

“What the fuck happened here?” Glyph said in awe, taking in the whole scene.

A glint caught his eye, and he made his way to the corner where he saw it. There, half covered by a silk cloth, lay the Divinare crystal. Glyph immediately scooped it up and thought of the Tome. He quickly rummaged through the debris until he found it, among a few other books. Straightening his back, Glyph’s eyes fell upon the painting on the wall in front of him. It was of Stonehenge on Earth, there was no mistaking it, even though it was whole and not in ruins. ‘How could this be?’ He wondered.

It was then that he noticed that the black marks on the wall were expanding.

“Holy Shit!” Glyph exclaimed. The walls and ceiling were vanishing before his eyes. He wasted no time making for the exit, leaping through the door as the floor splintered away and drifted off. Turning his head, Glyph stared at the massive void on the other side of the door, a swirling mass of space and time. In a few seconds, brick by brick, the wall began to fill in the opening until it was completely sealed.

Glyph continued to gaze at the solid wall in front of him, which now appeared as if nothing had ever been there. Drayden was propped up beside Ishea; his eyes were closed and he was mumbling. After a minute Drayden came out of his trance and focused his attention upon Glyph.

“Cruix is dead.” Glyph reported. “By the look of it she must have exploded; there wasn’t a single piece left of her larger than my thumb.”

“Then Ishea–”

“—Killed Cruix? That would be my guess.” Glyph finished for him. “How is Ishea? Will she be alright?”

“I believe so; she has several nasty wounds, none of which are life threatening, and I believe I will be able to heal them sufficiently once I have rested.” He turned his sightless eyes away from Glyph. “What I am most concerned about is her state of mind. If she wakes up for any reason, wake me immediately. I must rest, Ishea must rest; take her to those cushions beside your friend.” Drayden said, eyeing up Bogg and rubbing his left arm slightly. “He needs his rest as well.” He mumbled something else and collapsed there beside Ishea, unconscious.

Glyph scooped up Ishea and walked her over to where he had just been sleeping and laid her down, covering her with a tattered curtain. He glanced over at Bogg, who was also sleeping peacefully.

Moving back over to Drayden, Glyph made the old man as comfortable as possible, and made his way over to a nearby stone chair. Leaping up into the seat, Glyph surveyed the room; when he was sure everyone was out cold, he reached into his jacket and pulled out the Tome of Dark Lore.

He could feel the power flowing from the book into his hands as he opened it. Glyph just wanted to read the prophecy for himself. He remembered Ishea’s warnings, but what more could it do to him? Just as before, if he stared at the strange writing long enough, it transformed into English. The first few pages dealt with history, mostly the history of Degruthras; the initial wars, how they conquered the Hexzu, even a large portion of its occupation.

 

…It came to pass in the first age that the gates of other worlds became open to us, and as our mandate requires, set forth in the Guide of Morgus, we acquired these lands for their wealth and resources.

The world known as Degruthras was opened in the Year of the Serpent; a force of twenty thousand Grull, fifty sub-demons, and twenty true-demons entered to conquer it. At the opening of the gate they built the city of Etai. To the East a chasm was discovered that led the length of the land.

About this time the indigenous race called the Hexzu became known to us. They were a species of winged bipeds capable of flight. The first war broke out after we had enslaved several thousand of them and killed those who would not submit. They were intensely fierce, and resilient as a race. We inflicted great casualties among their numbers, and eventually they fled.

 

…The First Parcel, as it had come to be called, was well on its way to being colonized. Several sites near the chasm were now being mined for ore, and upon discovery of huge deposits of Koridium on the opposite side of the chasm, a bridge was proposed. A physical bridge was thought impossible due to the width of the gap, so it was soon created magically. Many sacrificial offerings of Hexzu gave their bones to be the building blocks of the bridge, henceforth known as the Bridge of Bones.

 

…During the third war with the Hexzu, the city of Iksas became established in the Second Parcel. The Hexzu now resided in the land to the north. Their capital city resided in the mountains to the east. An invasion plan was launched.

The Bridge of Bones was altered to respond to magical summons. It took several years of work to get the bridge to appear between Parcel 2 and Parcel 3, and it was immediately used to launch an invasion. The Hexzu were forced to retreat behind their walled city, high in the mountains, known as Sa Saran.

Rather than lay siege to the city, four brothers, Krasis, Sortan, Forgus, and Massak linked their minds to perform the Strunikus. The explosion leveled the mountain range and wiped out half of the Hexzu population as well as the four brothers. The remaining Hexzu surrendered, and were promptly set to building the outpost of Okrune. The lands of Sa Saran were made off-limits in honor of the fallen heroes.

 

…The prophecy became religiously followed in the Second Age, and an argument ensued between the two Parcels, resulting in a brief civil war. Orgas, the King of Parcel One, quickly squelched the uprising, gathered up their leaders and forced them to give allegiance to him. Cruix, the ruler of Parcel Two, and Orgas’s daughter, took her most loyal followers and fled north to the outpost of Okrune. She promptly took over and began strengthening the outpost’s defenses. Orgas, unwilling to go after his daughter, left her there in exile in what has become known as Parcel Three.

 

Glyph was just about to start the section on prophecy, when a large Hexzu swept down and landed near Drayden. Glyph quickly tucked the Tome inside his jacket and stood up.

“What has happened here? Who is in control?” The gargoyle demanded gruffly.

“Excuse me?” Glyph replied.

The gargoyle eyed him up, “Who are you?” It questioned him.

“Look, Grot’s upstairs. I have some sick and injured people here who need their rest, so go talk to him.”

The gargoyle took three steps toward Glyph and hoisted him into the air by his shirt, with one hand. Taken by surprise, Glyph just stared at the gargoyle as he hung there suspended.

“Where is Cruix? What is wrong with the old one? Tell me!”

Glyph’s voiced dropped to an icily calm monotone.

“I don’t deal well with threats and violence. I suggest you put me down, cause I really don’t want to end you.” he reproached.

The Hexzu stared at him blankly, then lowered him to the floor. It took a few steps back and closed its eyes, exhaling deeply.

Glyph straightened his shirt and jacket. “That’s much better. You’ll find you get more flies with honey than—Fuck!”

The gargoyle began to transform in front of his eyes. Glyph leapt back, not knowing what to expect. Its form shrank to about six inches shorter than he was, and the wings disappeared; the features became more human, and within a few seconds a middle-aged human woman stood before him.

“My apologies, I sometimes forget who I am. My name is Lobrein.” She said.

“Lobrein! You’re one of The Seven, right?” Glyph asked

“Yes.” Lobrein said, cocking her head slightly and staring at Glyph again. “And you are…?”

“Glyph. I mean, the Great One. I am here with Ishea, and–.”

“Shea? She is here? Where is she? I must see her at once!”

“Um, yeah. She’s right over there.” He said, indicating her presence.

Lobrein moved passed him to Ishea. “Shea, dear Shea. What has happened?” She said as she applied a healing hand to her forehead.

Glyph began to explain the current situation. Lobrein looked troubled. “This is bad, very bad. And Cruix is dead?”

“Ishea killed her, but we don’t know how. We were afraid when Cruix retreated with her to her inner chambers. She had been in there for almost 24 hours before Drayden was able to get through the door.”

Lobrein held Ishea’s head to her chest, and began magically erasing the scars off her body. “Oh Shea, you were more than a match for that evil witch, you just did not believe it.” Then she glanced back up at Glyph as if realizing he was still there. “I am sorry Great One, what did you say your name was again?”

“Glyph.” He replied.

“Well Glyph, I am interested in hearing your story from the beginning. It appears we have a little time before our friends wake up. Would you be so kind as to honor me with your tale?” Lobrein said to him, smiling. There was something about that smile, almost as if he had seen it before.

Glyph agreed, and began regaling her with his account of what had happened since he first arrived on M’atra. As he told the story, Lobrein finished with Ishea, and moved on to Bogg, who was starting to appear rather peaked. Glyph tried not to leave anything out, but shortened the telling enough that he was finished when she began to work on Drayden.

“So this curse of Drathus’s is still with you even after he has died. That is very interesting indeed.” She stopped her work on Drayden for a moment and paused in thought. “Drathus had you tortured except for an hour on your home world. Did you still have the wounds during your hour?”

“No, except for the memory of it, I was fine. It was like I was there, but I wasn’t.” Glyph answered her. Then he added, “It was like that on M’atra as well, except that anything that happened to me on either world would transfer to the next.”

“Ishea changed Drathus’s curse? Ah, that is why. Ishea did not open a portal when she brought you to M’atra, Glyph, she altered an existing one. That is why your body stayed on Earth even as your soul lived on M’atra, because it was part of Drathus’s original curse. It is also why you returned to Earth when Drathus died; he held the power of the curse.” Lobrein explained.

As strange as it sounded, Glyph was beginning to understand. “Ishea believes my blood sacrifice to Cruix was the reason the curse re-activated. That, and my contact with the Tome of Dark Lore.”

“Of course. She would have figured it out.” She said smiling, her voice trailing off for a moment. “Ishea brought you to Degruthras through a portal…Cruix is dead…”

Lobrein’s eyes lit up. “Ishea now holds the power of the curse. Be warned Glyph, the curse was probably changed again when Cruix died; had Ishea not brought you here physically, you may have returned to your world just as you did when Drathus perished. Of course it is possible that the Tome of Dark Lore still holds a part of the curse as well, but there is something else.” She said. Lobrein extended a hand towards Glyph. “May I search your aura?”

Glyph shrugged. He wasn’t sure what that was, but wasn’t concerned so long as she stayed out of his head. “Sure.”

Lobrein waved her hand in a circle in front of his face, then pulled her hand back quickly. “So much blood.” She commented, closing her eyes. “I see you have mastered the red magic; why did you choose to enter into the Jakarute?” She asked, slowly shaking her head.

“Jakarute? What’s that?”

“It is the process by which Lesser Demons access the red magic.”

Glyph cocked his head and stared at her blankly.

“They gain usage of the red magic by murdering. The more they kill the more power they can use. Is this what you did?”

“Yeah, pretty much.” Glyph replied, feeling repulsed at the sound of his own admission. “I mean, I had to, I couldn’t use my blue magic, and I needed it to try and protect Ishea.” Glyph stammered. “And what do you mean by ‘mastered the red magic’?”

Lobrein finished with Drayden and laid his head comfortably on a pillow. “You do not know? Mastery of the blue magic comes when it is used to kill. Mastery of the red comes when you use it to heal. You have done this, it is part of your aura. It also means you no longer have the blood-lust of the Jakarute; it appears that you have obtained Full Demon status.”

“You mean, I’m a demon?” Glyph questioned her.

“No, I mean you have demon status. Every Full Demon has gotten that way by using the red magic to heal another. Lesser Demons engage in a tournament of chance, and the winner is given the opportunity to gain Full Demon status. The loser is required to submit to the infliction of mortal wounds for the winner to try and heal. If the winner fails, the Lesser Demon dies. If he succeeds, the Lesser Demon must become the newly promoted Full Demon’s servant for life. This was the case with Drathus and Simeon.”

“Healing with the red magic is no easy task to perform, it requires great skill and concentration.” She explained.

Glyph laughed. “I learned it in three days.”

Lobrein was about to comment, when Grot swooped in from above and landed gracefully a few feet away from where they stood.

“What is it?” Glyph asked quickly.

“We are getting reports of a large ground force moving our direction from Iksas.” Grot replied, and looked toward Lobrein.

Lobrein heaved a sigh, “It is true. A large army marches against us as we speak. The forces of Parcel One and Two combined. I tried to get word to Drayden but could not. They have been planning this invasion for months. I suspected you had arrived, Glyph, and expected to find you, Drayden and Ishea ready to fight.”

Lobrein turned and met Grot’s gaze. “How far are they from the Chasm?”

“They are about half a day’s march from the Bridge of Bones.” Grot replied.

Lobrein looked at Glyph, and her eyes widened. “That close? Glyph, you must go and destroy the bridge.”

Grot spun and stared at Lobrein.

“You want me to do what?” Glyph asked.

“It is the only way they will get their armies across the Chasm; without them the demons do not have sufficient numbers to invade. I was hoping to wait for Drayden and Ishea, but I fear there is not enough time now, they are a full day ahead of schedule.” Lobrein explained.

“You want me to destroy the bridge?” Glyph asked again.

“You may be the only one who can, and it is our best defense. I doubt even you could destroy the force that descends upon us. I have lived among them in one form or another for nearly three decades, and have never seen anything like this. The Demon King has been executed, and the new King wants Parcel Three, and is prepared to level Okrune to the ground; he leads the force himself. If you can trap them on the other side of the Chasm, the battle is over.” She said, turning her attention to Grot. “You must fly him there, and quickly. Take your best men, and make haste.”

Grot nodded. “I will do as you say. The city is as good as ours anyway, now that the Demons have fled. I will go make preparations. I will send for you when we are ready to depart, Great One.” With a giant thrust from his wings, Grot quickly soared upward out of view.

Glyph glanced around at all his unconscious friends, then back to Lobrein. “How do I destroy the bridge?”

“There is a calling station on each side of the Chasm. If you destroy them they will not be able to call for the bridge. It is the only way.” Lobrein said. “I will watch over our friends.”

Glyph nodded his agreement. Why must he always be the one? “Thank you.” He said.

Lobrein smiled again. “The evil has not yet consumed you, Glyph. Do not allow it to do so.”

Glyph smiled back, then turned and headed up toward the hall where Grot had made his war room. He was starving, and stopped at the first tray of food he passed. It was Turmur again, but Glyph didn’t care; right now it was food. The taste was starting to grow on him anyway.

Finishing the last of his water, he asked a passing gargoyle where he might get some more. After sniffing the contents of Glyph’s water skin, he suggested the Armory. Unsure as to why it would be there, Glyph followed the Hexzu’s directions and found the makeshift armory down inside the Temple. There was the usual fare; spears, swords, knives, spiked clubs, etc. In the corner of the room was a pallet of leather water skins all full of water. Glyph grabbed one and took a swig, then strapped it to his back. He noticed a gargoyle by the back wall staring at him with a shocked expression as he left the room.

Glyph checked his equipment to make sure he had everything he needed. Ascending the stairs up to the hall two at a time, Glyph reached the top in time to run into Greem.

“Great One. Grot is ready to leave at your convenience.” Greem said.

Glyph locked eyes with the Hexzu. “Greem, I just want to tell you, I’m sorry about what happened to Oathtet. If I could have saved him, I would have.”

Greem only nodded in response. “Are you ready?”

“I think so.” Glyph said and followed Greem out onto the terrace to where Grot and a dozen other Hexzu stood.

Grot gave the signal, and Greem snatched Glyph up as they all took flight. Smoke poured out of the city in places, as Okrune became illuminated by the rising suns. It was eerily beautiful, Glyph thought. The group banked to the right, and Glyph could see several hundred other Hexzu soaring up from the city’s east wall to join them as they headed south to the Bridge of Bones.

 

 

 

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