Following Grot and Greem, Glyph climbed up the steps to the terrace hall where Grot was overseeing the occupation of the city. As they entered the hall, many gargoyles were bringing out trays of food, plundering the temple’s stores. Glyph noted there was little Turmur present, but went to a tray of fried foot-long wasp things. He picked one up, but was unsure how to go about eating it. He shuffled out onto the terrace and sat down with his back up against one of the hallway columns.
‘What the fuck is happening to me now? Whose voice made me pass out on the Bridge?’ Glyph thought, turning the giant bug end over end, trying to figure out the best way to bite into it.
Glyph turned to see Greem sitting cross-legged a few feet away. He hadn’t realized anyone else was out here. “What?” Glyph asked.
Greem held one of the wasp-like bugs up for Glyph to see. “It is called a Gernal, you eat it like this.” Greem replied and punctured the fried bug’s thorax at the base of its stinger. Glyph pulled out his knife and did the same. Yellow-brown liquid began to drip out of the cut. Greem lifted the bug placed his mouth on the open puncture wound and sucked the gooey guts out like he was downing an oyster.
“You’re joking, right?” Glyph said wincing as the juice rolled down Greem’s long chin. Greem shook his head and answered Glyph with an ‘Mmmm’ sound. Glyph, resolved to eat something, followed suit. He managed the first several swallows before the rancid smell filled his nose and made him gag and cough a few times. Greem was chuckling under his breath as he watched Glyph eat. Glyph too began to laugh at the absurdity of it all, and they both erupted in a fit of laughter.
“Great one.” Greem said when they finally calmed down. “What will happen to my people?”
“I don’t know Greem. I honestly don’t know.” Glyph replied soberly.
Greem nodded. “A people now without a home.” He said quietly.
“A verse from our ancient lore.” Greem replied.
“Oh, right.” Glyph said, vaguely remembering the line in the ancient prophecy he had studied with Drayden. Glyph knew as well that it was true; they stood little chance of defeating the forces that marched against them, and the Demons would likely hunt them to extinction.
They finished in silence, then Glyph went back to the armory to get some water. He used a little to wash the sand and blood off his arms and face, and returned to the hallway. Grot, Greem, and Crowf were huddled around a small table studying a map of the city. Glyph walked on by and headed for the door to the outer chamber. He descended the steps and instantly noticed the large stone table and chairs that now sat in the middle of the room.
He walked over to where Bogg slept, and sat down beside him. “Poor son of a bitch, you asked for this; it wouldn’t have been enough for you to see me fight Srokus. You would have said I slipped you LSD or something. There’s no denying it now Bogg, there’s no denying it now.”
“A friend of yours?” Glyph heard Ishea say from behind him.
Turning, Glyph saw Ishea crossing the room. Just watching her move made his eyes tear up a little; he thought he had lost her forever. “Yeah, I suppose he is.” Glyph said.
“Who is he?” She asked Glyph while sliding up next to him.
Glyph glanced over at her, then back to Bogg. “His name is Bogg. He tried to arrest me for killing all those people on Earth. I told him what was happening to me, but he didn’t believe me. When I went back for this last hour, he was still there waiting for me. Bogg was going to try and arrest me again when Srokus appeared. He helped me fight Srokus, and almost died trying to protect me. He would have, if I hadn’t brought him here.”
“It was the book, you know.” She said as she put her hand on his shoulder. “Drayden, Lobrein and I discussed it. We believe that when you touched the Tome of Dark Lore on the first night I brought you here to Degruthras, it altered the curse, and initiated the Jakarute. That’s why you had the blood lust upon you; you were not killing just to have power, you were killing because you were experiencing the Jakarute. You truly could not control yourself, Glyph; it was unfortunate, but you are not to blame.”
Glyph stifled a laugh. “Try explaining that to him.”
“I will.” Ishea stated resolutely, and leaned in to kiss Glyph on the mouth.
He shifted away at the last moment feeling awkward. Ishea had always acted a bit strange, but something really weird was going on with her now. For starters, she had never come on to him like that before, and it was freaking him out a little. “Ishea, what happened with you and Cruix? You were in there a long time.” Glyph asked.
There was a slight pause, then Grot and his Ruktan entered and descended toward the table. A few moments later Lobrein and Drayden appeared there as well.
Ishea shrugged her shoulders and sauntered over to the large stone table and took a chair next to Grot. Glyph followed and took the seat next to her.
“I think it only fair if everyone has a chance to speak their mind.” Lobrein started off. “Grot, it is your world, we should hear from you first. What do you think is the best course of action?”
“With your help Great One, and your powerful friends, I think we could strengthen the city’s defensive perimeter, and make our stand.” Grot replied.
Glyph rolled his eyes. “You can’t be serious! You saw the size of that army. Do you really think you have a chance in hell of winning against that?”
Grot eyed him up. “With your help, Great One.” He restated.
“I couldn’t even destroy the Bridge, Grot, what makes you think I can take on an army that size?”
“You destroyed the calling crystals. Greem tells me had you been there a few seconds sooner you would have prevented the Bridge from ever being summoned. That is more than anyone else could do.”
“Right, but I wasn’t there in time, and I couldn’t destroy the Bridge, and now they’re on their way here.” Glyph responded.
“Glyph, you should not fault yourself. You did your best, it just was not meant to be. As far as the actual Bridge, once summoned it cannot be destroyed. I should have made that clearer to you before you departed.” Lobrein added.
“Why not? Everything can be destroyed in some fashion.” Glyph questioned her.
“When the Bridge is summoned, the power of the crystals breaks the natural flow of this world’s Force lines, and reroutes them across the Chasm. The bones are built on the Force line substructure as it flows across; it is virtually impossible to stop. Only an act of the Gods, maybe.” Lobrein explained. “It was a race to the Bridge, Glyph, nothing more. The Demons got to it first, that is all. Once the Bridge is called back to Parcel One, which it will eventually be, it will never be able to be summoned to the Stitch again, thanks to you.”
Glyph looked blank. “That doesn’t help us now though, and that’s what we’re talking about isn’t it?”
“What do you think we should do, Glyph?” Drayden asked.
“I think we should retreat.” Glyph said after a long pause.
“I told you! He wants us to run and hide like frightened hatchlings!” Crowf suddenly blurted out to Grot.
“Crowf, look, I’m sorry for what happened to Oathtet. I wish there was some way–.” Glyph began to say.
“I do not care about your pathetic excuses. You are not worthy to speak my brother’s name, and now you suggest we flee instead of fighting for our world!”
Everyone seemed stunned except for Glyph; he could sense this had been brewing since Oathtet’s death.
“Crowf, do you know the Hexzu prophecy?” Glyph asked calmly.
Crowf shot him the look of death. “Every member of the Ruktan has studied the prophecy.” He said gruffly.
“What does it say about what is happening now?” Glyph questioned him.
Crowf crossed his arms and flexed his wings, just staring at Glyph.
“Greem?” Glyph said glancing over at him.
“The Master’s hear behind their wall, freedom is the Hexzu’s call, to rise against the Master’s throne, and take it back for our own. The Great One knows our world’s song, and rights to us its grievous wrong. The Great One knows the battle’s won, chains of oppression come undone. The sword and staff shall reunite; call the trodden to the fight. Mystic crystal, Tome of lore, darkened soul of light once more. A people now without a home, their masters forced to death by stone.” Greem recited.
“Excellent! Now, what do you think it means?” Glyph prompted.
“We are to rise up against the Demons.” Crowf said grudgingly.
“Right, and who helps the Hexzu do that?”
“You, Great One.” Grot said leaning forward in his seat.
“Yes, and what else? Anybody?” Glyph asked looking around the room.
“The sword and staff?” Greem offered.
Glyph turned to Ishea, and looked into her eyes. Standing, he pulled out the King’s sword and slapped the butt of the handle onto the table. “Greem, do you know what a staff is? I’ve noticed there isn’t any wood on this planet. I think it a bit odd that your prophecy would mention it.” He said, never taking his eyes from Ishea.
Ishea extended her hand, and with a flick of her wrist, the now twisted staff of Albast appeared in her hand. Grot was now standing, looking slightly ashen at Glyph’s insightful explanation of their own prophecy.
“Greem, what else helps the Hexzu?” Glyph asked again.
“Mystic crystal, and a Tome of lore.” Greem said, slowly standing as well.
Glyph reached into his jacket and pulled out the Divinare crystal and placed it on the table. Lobrein, Drayden and Ishea all stared at Glyph as he produced the Tome of Dark Lore and laid it beside the crystal.
“I thought they were lost when Cruix’s inner chamber collapsed.” Ishea said in awe.
“I grabbed them before the room vanished. Do you want to know why?” Glyph said staring at Drayden and Lobrein, who were also looking a bit pale. “Because I thought we might need them to open the Portal. You know, the one that Drathus used to launch his attacks against M’atra. Greem, what’s the next line, the one that worries you?”
“A people now without a home…” Greem whispered hoarsely.
“The sword and the staff, me and Ishea, reunited. The crystal and the tome used to open the Portal, and a people now without a home.” Glyph paused letting it all sink in. “In accordance with the Hexzu prophecy, I recommend we retreat to the Portal and return to M’atra.”
“But what of the Hexzu, Glyph?” Drayden asked.
“All of us.” Glyph said moving his finger in a circular motion to encompass everyone in the room.
Drayden dropped back into his seat rubbing his head, while Lobrein stood there open-mouthed, staring at Glyph. Crowf turned suddenly and left the room. Grot took little notice, gazing at the items on the table.
“It is true.” Grot finally said breaking the silence. “You really do understand the prophecy, but the Hexzu will not have a home–.”
“Yet.” Glyph said, smiling. “And just because you don’t have your homeland, doesn’t mean you won’t have a place to live. There’s a large desert and mountains on the other side of that Portal, Grot, and I for one would love to have you as a neighbor.”
Grot turned his gaze upon Glyph. “I am in your debt, Great One. I feared my people would not survive the attack. I wished as well that we could retreat, but knowing the Demons would hunt us forever, I saw no other way.”
Glancing at Greem, Grot put his hand on his nephew’s shoulder. “Make the preparations.” He sighed. Greem smiled, and left quickly.
“Great One. Forgive me, but what happened to you when you collapsed upon the Bridge?” Grot asked, with true concern in his voice.
“I’m not sure. There was a voice inside my head. It wasn’t mine, and it felt like it was drilling right through my brain. I guess the pain got too much for me and I passed out.” Glyph tried to explain.
“A voice? What did it say?” Ishea asked him.
Lobrein sat down, looking perplexed as her gaze fell upon the Tome.
“Let’s see, something about unleashing his vengeance upon me to complete victory. I don’t know much more about it except that it hurt like hell. It was similar to what Srokus did to me on Earth.” Glyph said. Catching Lobrein’s stare, he reached out, picked up the Tome, and tucked it into his jacket.
“What did Srokus do?” Drayden prodded.
“Just about everything.” Glyph said, noticing Ishea shifting in her seat. “He said something to me, and the next thing I knew I was crawling along the ground, barely able to lift my head up.”
“A Word of Command.” Lobrein commented. “Trained wizards are immune. We create a mental shield to protect us from this type of magic. After a while, it is not worth the energy expenditure to try it. The shield becomes second nature to us.”
“Mental shield?” Glyph asked.
“There was not time to teach you, Glyph. I did not expect to be here this long.” Ishea said, quieter than usual.
“Why did Srokus try it on me?”
“I suspect it was out of desperation. The Morgus oath forces the taker to expend all means to kill the opponent, even if it means taking his own life.” Drayden said. “I am sure he was pleasantly surprised to find it worked on you.”
“This is not a light matter, Glyph. I will be happy to show you how it is done, if you like.” Lobrein suggested.
Glyph noticed Lobrein’s attitude had calmed a bit. He could tell she was used to being in control, and was unaccustomed to Glyph’s wildcard tactics. “Sure. Anything that can keep me from passing out from pain would be nice.”
He paused for a moment. “So who is this jackass that can mess with my mind?” Glyph asked, remembering Dr. Osirus, his first psychologist from the institution. The sudden memory made him reflect back upon his treatment there. ‘How long had it been since that twisted fucker brainwashed me?’ He thought, lost in the moment.
“It must be Tsach, it has to be.” Lobrein surmised.
“Who is Tsach?” Glyph and Ishea asked at the same time.
“Tsach came through the portal at Etai about a year ago. He is a high priest from the Demon home world. His power is great, greater than anything I have ever seen before, even from Albast.” She looked at Drayden. “Tsach is the reason I am late in arriving to help. Six months ago, Tsach became incensed when he learned that Parcel Three was not giving tribute to their home world temple. At least, that was the excuse he used to lead a coup on the temple of Orgas; he was successful, and executed the demon King. He then declared himself ruler and immediately set about preparations to attack Parcel Three. His power is just as astounding as yours, Glyph, at least what I am told of it.” Lobrein said. “Tsach is greedy, ruthless, and intelligent. He is also, it would seem, your nemesis.”
Glyph groaned inwardly. “Just what I need.”
“I must excuse myself.” Grot said, “There is much to be done. Thank you, Great One, for your wisdom and counsel; I will inform you when we are ready to depart.”
Glyph nodded. As soon as Grot had left the room, Drayden spoke up. “Glyph, you do realize we will be leading Tsach and his army straight to M’atra.”
“We’re going to re-create the pinch point of the Bridge of Bones, only this time, we’ll be able to destroy the Portal, and keep them from following us across.” Glyph replied. “Problem solved.”
“Are you sure you can destroy it?” Drayden asked.
“No. But we can deal with that when we get there.”
“You like to leave a lot to chance, Glyph. We are talking about a world, not just one person. If you are wrong, tens of thousands will likely perish in the invasion.” Lobrein stated.
“Life is life, Lobrein. Thousands will perish here if we try to fight. Hexzu or M’atrans, whose life is more precious? Mine is a win–win scenario; even if we can’t close the Portal, the combined armies of M’atra will have a greater chance of survival backed by several thousand Hexzu. Besides, if this Tsach really wants me that bad, he’d eventually come after me anyway. I’d prefer that to be a little later, so he can’t make me pass out, waltz up, and chop my head off; there’s not much sport in that.”
Everyone was silent for a moment, considering Glyph’s words. “He has a point, Lobrein.” Ishea noted.
“I know he has a point.” Lobrein quipped, while rubbing the back of her neck. “Very well Glyph, since you have already sold the Hexzu on your plan, we have little choice but to go along.”
“Don’t sound so disappointed, Lobrein. It’ll be fun, I promise.” Glyph looked at each of them in turn; only Ishea returned his gaze. “It’s getting late, and I still have to deal with Bogg. Anyone care to help me out with this one?”
“I have had quite enough of Detective Bogg’s brutish behavior for one day. I am afraid I must pass.” Lobrein stated, still looking a little sore over Glyph’s decisions.
“I will stay.” Ishea said.
Drayden coughed a little, “I too will stay.”
“You, Drayden?” Glyph asked.
“Yes, uhm, your friend has intrigued me. We have never met two humanoids from the same world; I am interested to see how you two inter-react.”
Lobrein shot him a look, then turned to leave. “Very well then, I shall see you all in the morning. Glyph, first chance we get tomorrow I shall begin your training.”
“Yes, Ma’am.” Glyph replied, wondering what she was going to do to him; he was pretty sure it would involve passing out. Lobrein waved her arm to the side and vanished. “She can be a bit moody, don’t you think?”
Ishea stifled a laugh, and Drayden glanced at her reproachfully as they walked over to where Bogg lay sleeping. “He looks so peaceful.” Ishea commented.
“Well, let’s get this over with.” Glyph sighed, and sat down beside Bogg. Reaching over he placed his hand on Bogg’s forehead. “Awake.”
Detective Bogg’s eyes fluttered open for a moment, then locked his gaze on Glyph. “You!” Bogg shouted and in a flash had wrapped his hands around Glyph’s neck. “You!” Bogg screamed again through clenched teeth, squeezing harder as he began to sit up.
Glyph’s face was turning red. “You’re killing the only person who can get you back to Earth.” He squeaked at Bogg, while staring him down.
When Bogg’s grasp began to relax, Glyph brought his arms up quickly between Bogg’s arms, breaking his hold on Glyph’s neck. Then with a mental push, knocked Bogg to the ground.
“What the fuck did you do to me, mother fucker!” Bogg yelled at Glyph.
“Calm down. I didn’t do anything to you, all right? Except maybe saving your stupid ass from bleeding out on that bridge.” Glyph shot back, rubbing his neck.
Bogg instinctively reached to his abdomen, and inspected his flesh for a wound that was no longer there. Slowly he looked up at Glyph. “Where have you taken me? And I don’t want to hear none of this Degrudy bullshit. Where the fuck am I?”
“Well Bogg, you can call it what you like, but it is another world, and it’s nothing like Earth, I can assure you.”
“Cut the shit, Glyph! That’s bullshit! How long have I been unconscious? Six months? A year?” He said looking down at his stomach. “Or was it even real? You slipped me some sort of narcotic.” Bogg surmised.
Glyph drew his sword and swung it at Bogg in an instant. Bogg winced as Glyph brought the swing up short, slicing his left bicep to the bone before pulling back. Bogg howled and rolled onto his side.
“Glyph!” Ishea shouted at him.
Glyph held up his hand to silence her, and sheathed his sword. Bending over, he looked into Bogg’s eyes. “Have you ever known a drug that could look and feel this real?”
“Maybe I’m not on the drug anymore! Maybe I’m coming down and–.” Bogg started to shout, when Glyph reached over and healed the cut until there was no trace. There was a long pause. “Okay, maybe I am still on the drug.” Bogg said, rubbing the wet blood that only a moment ago had been pouring down his arm.
“Dammit Bogg! There are no drugs! The sooner you accept that this is reality, the better off you’re gonna be.” Glyph paused, waiting for Bogg to reply. When there was none, Glyph continued. “You are on Degruthras. I brought you here in order to save your life from that fatal wound Srokus gave you on the bridge. This is the world where the demons and gargoyles live; it’s not as nice as the one where I’m King of my own country.” Glyph explained, smiling.
“Hold on, wait a second, this is some type of dream, right?” Bogg said.
Glyph threw up his arms in disgust.
“I am afraid this is all too real, my friend. We were all brought here, you, me, Ishea, Glyph, all of us.” Drayden chimed in. Walking over, he reached out to Bogg. Bogg grabbed Drayden’s hand and pulled himself erect. “Some of us, such as Glyph and yourself, were brought here under less than ideal circumstances. If you want to know if we can send you back, the answer is yes. However, due to my present condition, and the fact that we are in the middle of a war, it may not be possible for several days. During that time you are free to come and go as you please. You are not a prisoner, you are one of us.” Drayden said.
Bogg just stared at him blankly. “You’re serious!” He finally blurted out. “How does he do that with a straight face?” Bogg asked Glyph.
“Maybe it would help if he took a look outside.” Ishea suggested.
“A splendid idea, we could all use a bit of fresh air.” Drayden added. “I should warn you, there are creatures on this world unlike any you have seen before.”
Ishea, Glyph and Drayden all turned and started across the room. Bogg stood there looking confused and uncertain as to what he should do. After a moment, Bogg followed them, and began to ascend the stairs to the terrace hall door.
As they walked through into the hall, Bogg half leapt out of his skin at the sight of the winged Hexzu going about their business.
“You have no reason to fear. These people are called Hexzu, and they are our allies.” Drayden informed him.
“Those… things?” Bogg stammered.
“Look just like gargoyles, don’t they?” Glyph asked him back.
“Son of a bitch.” Bogg exhaled.
“Right this way.” Glyph said, ushering Bogg toward one of the archways to the terrace.
Bogg walked slowly, unwilling to take his eyes off the eight-foot gargoyles. As they walked out, Bogg swung his head around to see the city of Okrune spread out beneath him. Then he looked up across the desert to the mountains in the distance. Above them, the two suns of Degruthras were setting, casting brilliant rays of yellow across the reddish sky.
“Yeah, that was pretty much my reaction the first time I saw it.” Glyph said, noting Bogg’s sagging jaw and bulging eyes. “Those two suns can really bring it home; there’s just something about them that screams ‘we’re not in Kansas anymore’.”
“So now that we are all friends, how should we address you? Detective sounds a bit formal.” Drayden asked.
“Amos. Call me Amos.” Bogg said quietly.
Drayden smiled widely. “Very well, Detective Amos Bogg, from now on we shall refer to you as Amos. I know names have always been hard for me, so let me re-introduce myself. My name is Drayden. It is a pleasure to meet you, Amos.”
“My name is Ishea, it is good to meet you, Amos.” Ishea said.
“And I’m still Glyph.” Glyph announced. “Funny, you don’t look like an Amos.”
Amos Bogg nodded at each of them, then turned back and stared into the setting suns.
Drayden signaled to Glyph and Ishea, and they all withdrew a short distance. “If seeing the two suns together in the sky helps to persuade him that we are telling the truth then we have been fortunate, as this is the only time of year that both suns appear to be near each other.” Drayden explained, and then glanced back over his shoulder to where Amos was standing. “Our friend is at a very delicate time right now. We must be careful, his mind has been saturated with things that change his perception of reality. Eventually he must either accept what his senses tell him, or hold on to his perceived notions and go insane. The effect is not always immediate; that is why Albast waited a month before asking if we wanted to stay or go back. We must give Amos time to sort things out. Right now, we should get him inside and find him something to eat.” Drayden explained.
Ishea coaxed Amos inside, while Glyph found some Turmur, and followed them back to the outer chamber. They all ate a bit of the Turmur in order to convince Amos it was safe. Afterwards, Drayden mutated a torn drapery into a leather tunic and pants for Amos, who then changed out of his shredded, blood soaked clothes.
“Do you have any questions for us, Amos? You have been rather quiet.” Drayden asked.
Amos glanced up at him, then over at Glyph. “Do you know he’s a murderer?” He said to Drayden.
“One man’s murderer is another man’s savior. Do I know he has killed on your world? Yes, I do. I also know he was placed under the Jakarute, a demon ritual, that forced Glyph to kill whether he wanted to or not.” Drayden replied.
“He doesn’t want to hear any of that Drayden; He wouldn’t believe you anyway.” Glyph sounded off. “I’m fairly certain he’s convinced of my guilt in the whole matter.”
Amos glared at him, then turned his attention back to Drayden. “Why are we here?”
Drayden chuckled a bit. “Well, Seven of us were plucked from our lives on other worlds to be defenders of the world M’atra. We were given the choice of returning to our worlds or to stay, and become wizards. The only price was our pledge to be protectors of that magic-rich planet. None of us knew what we might protect it from until the demons arrived from Degruthras. Now we have shifted our focus here, and liberated the Hexzu from demon captivity.”
“And Glyph?” Amos questioned “Is he one of the seven?”
“Glyph is an anomaly. The Demons first sought him out, based on prophecy from their religion. They tortured him for months, before Ishea found him and brought him to M’atra. The hour he spends on your world is a throwback to the original demon curse that was placed on him years ago.” Drayden explained.
“And what about me?”
“I brought you here to save your life.” Glyph interjected. “It was either that or leave you on that bridge to die. You were only a few minutes from death when I got to you. I tried to heal you there, but my hour was up, and once that happens it doesn’t matter what I’m doing, I get sent back here.”
“Is that true?” Amos asked Drayden.
Drayden nodded. “Though your presence here was a surprise, I suspect you have your part to play in all of this.”
“So, you’re in the middle of a war?”
“Actually, we are in the middle of a tactical retreat.” Ishea answered. “An army, outnumbering us ten or more to our one, is on its way here. We have little hope of stopping them, so we are headed back to M’atra.”
Amos scratched his head and again felt the nonexistent wound on his abdomen. “Damn. I don’t know what to think anymore.”
“That is normal, Amos. We have all been faced with the same dilemma; we have all had our doubts and concerns. Well, with the exception of Ishea, she was brought to M’atra as an infant.” Drayden said.
“Does that make you special somehow?” Amos asked Ishea.
“No. Not really, only that I was never given the choice to return to my world, since they could not determine where that world was. I could not imagine my life any other way though, and if faced with that choice I would choose to stay and protect M’atra.”
“Sounds like a pretty fantastic place.” Amos said
“You have no idea.” Glyph replied. “So what do you think? This place real enough for you now?”
“I don’t know. I still don’t know, I mean, this is incredible; other worlds, demons, gargoyles, magic. I thought ‘maybe I am on drugs’, but I can think clearly, and I’m in control of what I do and say. If it’s a dream, it is the most fantastic and real dream I’ve ever had.” Amos shook his head. “There’s just too much shit happening all at once, man. I just need to digest some of this, you know?”
“Oh, I know. Trust me, I know. Sometimes I still wonder about it.” Glyph said. “Try not to over-think it. You’ll come to terms with it eventually. After they send you back to Earth, you can just pretend it never happened.” He offered. Yawning, Glyph stood up and stretched. “It’s getting late, and I have to go back to Earth in about four hours, so I think I’ll go find a place to sleep for awhile.” Glyph said goodnight and made his way to the far side of the room. As he walked, pillows from all parts of the room sailed through the air and piled themselves neatly in front of the wall, and finished as he arrived there. He took off his guns and plopped face first onto the makeshift bed. Within seconds he was out cold.
Glyph found himself staring at the mosaic of tile in the courtyard at Toleth’va. The patterns of vibrant blue, white, and red tiles formed intricate, overlapping pictures. He studied them for some time, tracing the lines with his finger.
The wind picked up, and Glyph lifted his head; the koi ponds sparkled in the last rays of sunlight peeking out from behind the mountains. He found himself walking, and soon came upon a raised Dias. There was an old man beside the pool, gently making rippling waves with his fingertips as he dragged them across the water’s surface.
“Who are you?” Glyph found himself asking.
“You are ready. Now, you must choose.” The old man spoke softly.
“You mean between blue or red magic, M’atra or Degruthras, good or evil?”
“Yes, and more. He has chosen his path, now you must choose yours.”
“How?” Glyph pleaded.
“Touch the spark in the darkness, and complete your destiny.”
Glyph shook his head trying to comprehend. “Who are you?” he asked again.
The old man smiled at Glyph, then he broke into a million pieces and blew away in the wind. Glyph stared down at the black and white koi swimming in circles in the small pool…
Glyph opened his eyes and saw Ishea pulling her hand back from his forehead.
“Forgive the intrusion Glyph, but it is near your hour, and I know you wish to be awakened beforehand.” Ishea said staring down at him.
Glyph rolled to his side and sat up. He rubbed his hands up and down across his face and yawned.
“I hope you slept well.” Ishea said to him.
“Oh, yeah thanks.” He said somewhat distractedly; he still wasn’t used to her new appearance. “Lobrein told me the curse has likely changed since Cruix’s death. I just wanted to be prepared.”
“Is that why you still hold the Tome of Dark Lore, so you can be prepared?” Ishea said smirking.
“As a matter of fact, yes.” Glyph replied.
“I understand. I crave it now, as you did when I first brought you here. I was even tempted to pull it from your jacket while you slept, and hide it.”
Glyph immediately touched his jacket, and found the Book still in its place.
“I understand so much more now Glyph.” She purred. Bending over and placing her cheek next to his she whispered, “So much more.”
Glyph’s adrenaline began to pump. He quickly stood up and walked over to the table to examine the contents of his bag. There were eighteen grenades, and about a hundred rounds each of nine millimeter and AK-47 ammunition.
Sliding the Mac onto his shoulder, he checked the magazines. He hadn’t fired a shot. Deciding there wasn’t much sense in carrying everything if he wasn’t going to use it, he left the AK-47 beside the bag. Then he picked up four grenades and tucked two in each pocket. He was still wearing the bulletproof vest and double holster for his Glocks, and decided to leave them on.
Ishea walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around him, placing both hands on his chest. “Glyph, I want you; all of you.” She said, pressing her breasts to his back.
Glyph grabbed her hand and spun around to face her. He was about to speak, when she sprung forward and planted her lips to his, and he immediately kissed her back. After a minute, Glyph stepped back and broke the contact. His heart was pounding, and he wanted nothing more then to dive back in, but Glyph could feel that something wasn’t right.
“Hold on, hold on.” Glyph interjected quickly, as he saw Ishea moving in on him again. He wanted to figure out what the hell was going on with her, but didn’t want to ruin his chances either. Luckily, he had an excuse. “It’s almost my time.” He half stammered. “We should probably talk about some things.” Glyph said awkwardly.
“What type of things, Glyph?” Ishea asked him, while flashing him another wicked smile.
“Well, I don’t think there’s enough time to go into it now. Tomorrow might be better.” Glyph said, stalling.
“Why not when you get back, it is only an hour, and I could wait for you on your pillows over there. Besides, you may be in need of some healing.” Ishea said seductively. She took a few steps back, lay down on her stomach, and propped her chin on her hands, all while never breaking eye contact with Glyph.
Glyph just stared at her; the view aroused him more the longer he looked. Finally, he forced himself to look at his watch, and set the alarm for an hour. It was time, the air grew still and cold. He didn’t know what to expect from this hour, and that worried him a little. Glancing up at Ishea, he watched her as the air washed out of the room, and the white light engulfed him. An instant later, Glyph was gone.