Glyph shouted the song in his mind as the white light slowly faded and his vision began to focus. He felt the force of Tsach’s mind assault immediately, but Glyph could tell it was having no effect. Quickly assessing his situation, Glyph could see he was surrounded. A ring of demon and Grull formed around him, though they were still some twenty feet away. Standing directly in front of him was Tsach, a towering figure unlike any demon he had seen before. Tsach had four spidery legs that transitioned into a human torso with four arms, and gray leathery skin. The Demon Lord stood twenty feet tall with an oversized, but human shaped, skull.
“So, we finally meet face to face, Great One.” Tsach bellowed, then sneered as he looked down at him. “You are the one who will defeat me and my kind?”
“That’s what they tell me.” Glyph shouted back at him, glancing about to find the direction to the gate. His view was half obscured by the rows of Grull and demon marching through the portal into M’atra.
“You are weak, and undisciplined. Your friends have fled; even they could not withstand my might for very long.” Tsach’s voice boomed across the desert.
Glyph drew his sword, which instantly blazed a deep blue. “I don’t have to win. I just have to live!” With a twist, and a wave of his hand, Glyph unleashed a wave of energy that blasted everything away from him. Demons who managed to raise their shields were still pushed back fifty feet. Grull sailed end over end into the distance. Glyph called for his own shield and headed for the gate. The path was relatively clear now, and Tsach was nowhere to be seen.
Lightning bolts and fireballs began to deflect off his shield as he covered the short distance. A smoky cloud descended just in front of the gate and within seconds transformed into Tsach, who now blocked Glyph’s way.
“Did you believe it was that easy?” Tsach demanded.
Startled, Glyph stopped dead in his tracks. ‘Fuck me,’ he thought, ‘this can’t be good’.
With a slight wave of his hand, Tsach ripped apart the red energy shield that surrounded Glyph, turning it into a shower of sparks that fell to the ground around him. With another hand, a force wave struck Glyph so hard it flung him to the ground flat on his back.
“There is no room for both of us in this universe Glyyph.” Tsach said, slurring Glyph’s name as he had done before, and staring at him with disdain. “How pathetic a being you must be; I at least expected a challenge. Your wretched life must be terminated.”
Glyph pushed back with his mind against the invisible force that pinned him to the ground, and slowly struggled to his feet. He waved his sword in defiance, but mostly as a distraction, as Glyph let the grenade slip from his pocket onto the ground by his feet. “You can’t win Tsach, give up now and I might let you live.”
Tsach’s legs twisted around his back giving him an insectile walk as he took several steps to where Glyph stood. Glyph took a few steps back as the massive hulking frame of Tsach loomed over him. A second later Tsach swung his massive fist at Glyph. With magical speed, he spun deftly to one side, slicing Tsach’s hand off at the wrist and watching with satisfaction as it dropped to the sandy ground. Glyph turned his attention to Tsach’s other hand a second too late as it slammed into his body like a brick wall, and sent him hurling through the air like a wet blanket.
Glyph could feel the broken bones in his arm and leg before he hit the ground and bounced several times. He started to heal the worst of it as fast as possible as he heard Tsach laughing. Glyph glanced up and watched as Tsach’s hand regenerated out of the demon’s seared stump.
“You will not win. You will not live. You will only suffer and die!” Tsach bellowed as he gazed down at Glyph’s broken body.
“No, not today.” Glyph muttered, and pulled the pin from the grenade with his mind. He began to stand, his leg and hip freshly healed. His left arm still hurt but the pain was rapidly subsiding. “Fuck off bitch!” Glyph yelled at Tsach as the grenade exploded beneath the demon.
Tsach jumped at the sound, as shrapnel lit up his underside. Glyph took his chance and teleported to the portal, appearing next to several stunned Grull. Glyph cleaved two of them in one swing, and leapt through the gate without looking back.
Tsach’s own arrogance had allowed Glyph to escape, and Albast was right, the Demon Lord would not be taken by surprise the next time. Glyph hated running out like this, but it wasn’t the right time, and he couldn’t do the things Tsach did, and that pissed him off more than anything. Glyph emerged through the gate into chaos, he could hear the sounds of battle not that far away, Grull and lesser demons were being led across the floor of a giant cavern. The line of unearthly beings extended to the far side and then led upward. There, Glyph could see the light of day shining down around the army of Tsach as it poured out onto the desert floor. Right now he needed to shut down the portal, so Tsach wouldn’t follow him through. Glancing at his sword, Glyph saw it was now glowing red, and took the opportunity to thrust the blade into the lower back of a nearby lesser demon. Glyph severed its spine, then gave it a mental push and slit its throat as it fell to the ground.
Several Grull raised the alarm, as more of them began to form a circle around Glyph. With a wave of his arm Glyph sent them hurtling into the far wall of the immense cavern. He turned and rushed down the length of the gate toward the pylon nearest to him, his blazing red blade edging a swath of destruction through Grull and Demon alike. Glyph reached the side of the gate, a massive pillar carved out of the rock, and quickly placed his hand onto the engraved triangle.
“Shield!” Glyph yelled a few scant seconds before two demons began to bombard him with fireballs. Glyph closed his eyes tight and concentrated on the gate. “Close.” Glyph whispered through clenched teeth. The ground trembled slightly underfoot as the sound of fire burned all around him. Slowly Glyph peeked through one eye, then opened his other eye and stared as the last bit of the portal energy winked out leaving nothing but the cavern wall behind it. A muffled thud could be heard as half-bodies, severed vertically by the closing gate as they passed through, fell to the floor along with limbs of varying lengths.
Glyph sighed in relief, it was only temporary he knew, but it should buy him the time he needed to figure out how to destroy it. He wiped the sweat off his brow, and turned on his attackers. The pit of his belly already burned, and these two demons really needed to know whom they were dealing with. With a shout that shook the walls, Glyph raised his hands, bringing a column of rock up under each demon. With a twist of his hand, an equally sized column of rock dropped from the ceiling of the cave. In a split-second, the demons were flattened, crushed beyond recognition between the two massive cylinders of rock.
The collision was thunderous, sending debris and stalactites into the air. Glyph stepped out, and moved his arm in an arc, creating a tornado force wind that snatched up the falling rocks before they even touched the ground. Debris of all sizes and shapes now swirled faster in Glyph’s vortex. He pushed it forward with his mind, flinging boulders in all directions and guiding them to their mark. He walked slowly at first; then as he witnessed the amount of destruction it was causing, quickly picked up his pace, running behind the tornado of rock as it cleared the way to the exit of the cavern.
Glyph reached the mouth of the cave as a wave of exhaustion crept over him, and he let the vortex break apart, sending huge chunks of rock off in every direction at once. Glyph took the opportunity to catch his breath.
‘I should have gotten Albast to give me a potion before I left’, he thought. Glyph surveyed the area at a glance. There was still an army-sized force here, and by the looks of it, they were advancing on a much smaller force fighting from the surrounding dunes, and thousands of Hexzu circled the skies above. Glyph’s giant blast of flying rock seemed to grab a lot of attention, and mostly from the bad guys, who were now starting to form a line around him some distance away.
He needed to find Ishea and Lobrein, he couldn’t think with all this fighting going on. Concentrating on the nearest dune, Glyph shut his eyes and teleported there. Suddenly, Glyph saw a Grull stampeding a Kivan soldier a few feet away. Without hesitation, Glyph thrust his blazing red sword into the Grull’s back, through its heart, and out the beast’s chest. The soldier stabbed the Grull in its neck with his spear, as Glyph pulled the sword free. Pushing the carcass to one side, the soldier’s eyes grew wide with recognition. “King Glyph!” He suddenly shouted.
“Where is Ishea?” Glyph asked.
“My Lord, Lady Ishea commands this flank, she is right over–.” Sudden cracks and flashes of lightning on the other side of the dune interrupted him. Glyph turned and ran to the crest of the sandy hill. He could see Ishea engaged in battle with a demon of Srokus’s size. Charging down the dune, Glyph threw his right hand forward, and a wave of sand roiled outward from the dune, completely engulfing Ishea’s opponent.
Ishea looked up at him. “Glyph!” She cried. “Thank the Gods.” She said, and sprinted up the dune to where Glyph stood. The giant mound of sand began to stir, and they both watched as the demon clawed its way to the surface. As it emerged, Glyph teleported beside the creature and drove the Kings Sword deep into its horned skull. Glyph was breathing heavily at this point, and felt drained again.
“Glyph, what is wrong?” Ishea asked him as he walked slowly back up the dune toward her, noting his pale color.
“Nothing. Is everyone alright?” He asked hoping to change the subject.
Ishea smiled at him. “I believe so. Zarabish and Amos, in particular, were pretty beat up when they finally reached us, but they are doing fine now.” She said, and then paused and was about to continue when Glyph cut her off.
“Take me to them. I feel responsible, neither one of them would be here if it weren’t for me.”
She looked as if she was going to say something else, then nodded. She placed her hand on Glyph’s back and they vanished, reappearing a moment later on the tallest dune surrounding the cavern.
“It’s about time you got here.” Glyph heard Amos say as he opened his eyes. Twirling about, Glyph saw Zarabish and Amos. Ishea removed her hand from Glyph’s shoulder and looked at Amos. “How are your injuries?” She asked him
“I’ll be fine. Have you destroyed the gate?” Amos asked, turning to look at Glyph.
“No, I only closed it to buy us some time.” Glyph replied.
“Glyph, you know what you have to do. You know how to do it, so stop wasting time!” Amos demanded.
“You’re so subtle.” Glyph said, realizing that no one was going to be able to help him; only he could destroy the gate. Scanning the horizon, he pointed at the next dune over. “Take me there.” Glyph said to Ishea, who looked perplexed over the whole encounter. Stepping forward, she placed her hand on his shoulder and did as he asked.
As they reappeared, Glyph walked about in a circle, surveying the area.
“Glyph, is there a problem?” Ishea asked him.
Glyph didn’t know what to say, he knew that he could destroy the gate using the Tome, but the more he had thought about it, the more resolute he became that it shouldn’t be done that way. Reaching into his vest he extracted the book and opened it. It had to show him the way, it just had to.
Ishea seemed poised on the verge of wanting to speak, but stayed silent and watched Glyph intently. Glyph tried to ignore her gaze as he turned the pages of the demon Book. The words slowly transformed into English and Glyph began to read.
Using the essence of power within the Book of Morgus, the Great One will destroy the portal to his world and the Book along with it. The Book will pass from this dimension, and the evil contained within will be released to wreak havoc among the populated worlds for a millennia.
As he read it the words on the rest of the page disappeared and left only those two sentences. Quickly, Glyph turned the page, only to find the same two sentences written there, as well as the next page and the one after that.
“No!” Glyph yelled, and slammed the Book shut. ‘It will not happen that way.’ Glyph decided.
Ishea surmised the situation. “Glyph, did it tell you what you needed to know?”
“Yes. It did, but it didn’t tell me how to destroy the gate.” Glyph replied solemnly.
“Perhaps if I looked at it, maybe it will show me something useful.” She said, and began to reach for the book. Glyph stepped away from her, and shoved the book back into his vest pocket.
“It won’t help. It’s evil, and it only wants to propagate evil. You were right Ishea, I should never have laid my hands upon it. Albast, Drayden, and Lobrein should have destroyed it the moment they found it, but it lured them into its evil web, with hopes of a better outcome. Well, guess what? There are none. What happens will happen, but I refuse to be dictated to by some evil prophecy.” Glyph said, and stared down at the ensuing battle spread out before him. He closed his eyes to avoid Ishea’s angry look, and half-raised his arms toward the cavern below.
“You must now end what Drathus has started Glyph.” Ishea said hotly
“I know, I’m trying!”
“You have vowed your allegiance to protect this world. Our soldiers are dying. Toban and the reinforcements will not get here in time to help us.”
“Just give me a minute, okay?” Glyph barked, and searched his mind for some way to destroy the gate, but everything he thought of seemed grossly inadequate for the task at hand. He could hear the desperation in her voice, and the sound of it raked his last nerve.
After a few more moments of silence, Ishea spoke again. “You told us you could destroy the gate. You said you would handle it; we trusted you!”
“Shut the fuck up! You think I want this? I am sick and tired of this fucked up shit! I can’t take it anymore!” Glyph screamed at her as he felt something inside him snap, and the acid in his gut felt ready to boil over.
“So you will turn your back on us?” Ishea asked quietly, a tear forming in her eye.
“FUCK!” Glyph screamed, and the ground beneath them began to shake. He felt as if he would explode any second. Glyph could sense the Valdeffor upon him, and screamed again, the sound of it tore the air like a sonic boom, and echoed off the mountains far in the distance. Ishea dropped to her knees and covered her ears. The battle seemed to stop as bewildered men and demons glanced about for the source of the deafening roar. “Get them out. Now!” Glyph said through clenched teeth, not knowing for sure what was about to happen.
Ishea immediately understood and sent the signal telepathically for a full retreat. She took several steps back as Glyph raised his arms, one hand burst into red flames and the other into blue flames. The auras crept the length of his arms, rolling silently down his trembling body, encompassing both legs. One half of him red, and the other blue, until meeting together at the middle of his chest and abdomen in front, and the length of his spine in back.
Glyph saw Lobrein appear, and watched as she began to pull Ishea further away from him. A loud popping noise filled his ears, drowning out all other sound. Suddenly he emitted a brilliant white light that expanded outward around him until it reached about the diameter his shield would usually be. Time slowed to a stop around Glyph. He could no longer make out Ishea’s form, all he could see was blinding white light.
After what seemed to be an eternity, Glyph’s vision began to clear, but instead of seeing the scene of battle, he could see the whole of M’atra. All of it, at the same time, as if he were looking down from space. He started to focus on Degruthra, and his vision of that area became larger; it was like using the Divinare Crystal, only on a much grander scale. As he stared in wonder, the answer to his problem began to take shape before his eyes.
With a giant rush of wind, Glyph found himself on the dune again. His arms and body were engulfed in brilliant white flames, even though he felt no heat. He became aware of the ground shaking beneath his feet, as the sound of battle reached him once again.
“…I do not know!” He heard Ishea yell in response to a question he did not hear.
“Glyph! The portal is opening again!” He heard Lobrein shout at him.
Staring at the cavern entrance below, Glyph found himself appearing there. Without a second thought, he spread his fingers wide, turned his hands palm down, and slowly lowered his arms. The earth shook violently, and then began to sink. Slowly at first, starting with the cavern entrance, the ground dropped lower and lower, as if being swallowed by the surrounding sand, until a crater began to form around it. As Glyph and the entrance to the cave sank, the surrounding dunes seemed to rise upward. Glyph watched as soldiers scrambled up what had now become a small mountain, clinging to rocks and whatever else they could grab to keep from falling into the enormous depression. Bewildered demons and Grull looked about not knowing what to do, as they too dropped further and further into the ground. The sandy dunes spilled into the massive hole, which had easily become a mile wide and nearly as deep. He saw Ishea appear some twenty feet away, followed by Lobrein, who was desperately trying to coax Ishea away from him. Finally Ishea shoved her away, unable to keep her eyes off of him.
Suddenly everything stopped, and grew eerily silent. Glyph pulled back one arm and punched it outward toward the west. With a thunderous boom, the lower half of the crater’s granite wall bowed inward and shattered into rubble, as a massive horizontal shaft pushed into M’atra’s crust. Glyph spread his fingers, and the continent bucked and shook as he extended the opening deeper into the side of the massive bowl. An unendurable screech of pulverizing rock emanated from the deepening hole, creating a massive tunnel that increased in speed as it bored its way beneath the desert floor, eventually reaching the horizon. The sound of it receded until it could no longer be heard; Glyph stood there holding his position with one arm forward for nearly a full minute, then as quickly as it had come, the white light vanished and split into the red and blue auras flowing in reverse back into his hands, until they vanished completely. Small wafts of steam rose off his clothes as Glyph wobbled back and forth.
“Glyph!” Ishea screamed fearfully, and dashed to his side.
Glyph took two steps backward, then one forward and toppled onto his face on the sandy ground. Ishea reached him a moment later, and dropping to her knees, grabbed him and teleported them both back to the top of the dune. She immediately heaved Glyph’s body over onto his back and called his name again. His eyes fluttered slightly and opened, and he stared up at Ishea who was covered in fine dusty sand from the maelstrom Glyph had just created.
“You’re beautiful.” Glyph rasped out, and smiled.
“Glyph! What did you do?” Ishea asked him imploringly.
“Nothing.” He heard Lobrein call out as she popped in a short distance away. “The portal has just been reopened.” As if in response to her words a weak shout rang out from the crater floor as the demons tried to rally their courage after what they had just witnessed.
Glyph began to laugh, coughed several times, then laughed some more.
“Glyph! Get up. You must finish–.” Lobrein said, then stopped short. A dull rumbling could be heard in the distance, becoming louder and louder as it got closer. Soon the roar became almost deafening as Ishea slowly stood to her feet beside Lobrein and stared down toward the massive tunnel Glyph had made in the side of the crater.
“By the Gods!” Glyph heard Ishea say as he laid on the ground staring up at them.
“What have you done?” Lobrein gasped as her jaw fell open.
A tidal wave of water suddenly spewed from the opening like an aqueduct, nearly a hundred feet tall and a hundred feet across, and burst into the crater. Every living creature in Tsach’s army drowned or was burned to the bone in under a minute. A whirlpool effect began to form at the entrance to the cavern, as millions of gallons of water poured in, entered the portal and began to empty onto Degruthras.
Zarabish and Amos popped in a moment later. “Jesus Christ!” Glyph could hear Amos shout over the thunderous noise. “What’d you do?” He asked Glyph.
Glyph just stared up at the sky chuckling, too tired to move. “I flushed the toilet.” He replied and broke into hysterical laughter.
No one said a word, as they all just stood there, entranced by what they saw. Only the rush of the water and Glyph’s laughter could be heard for several minutes. Grot, Greem, and several other Hexzu landed nearby.
“Great One, are you well?” Grot asked, somewhat distracted by the scene.
“I’m fine, Grot. I’m fine.” Glyph said with a huge smile as he lay there with his eyes closed listening to the sound of the water.
“That was most impressive.” Grot commented.
“Impressive? That was downright amazing!” Amos blurted out.
Grot looked at Amos and scowled happily. “Agreed.”
“Glyph is that… the ocean?” Lobrein asked, still unable to pull her eyes away.
“Yep.” He replied, and rolled over onto his side.
“Look. The whirlpool has ceased. They must have closed the portal on the other side.” Ishea pointed out. Within seconds the giant crater began to fill with water.
“They will never be able to open the portal again.” Zarabish said. “Not as long as this body of water sits on top of it.”
“There are still a number of your warriors in need of help along the cliffs of this…” Grot said, then paused, and gestured at the giant crater.
“Lake, Grot. It’s called a lake.” Glyph said, as he stretched out on the warm sand.
“Lake. I have given the order to help rescue them.” Grot continued.
“Thank you Grot, you are most kind.” Ishea said, smiling broadly. “You have done it Glyph, you have saved us all.”
At the sound of her voice Glyph opened his eyes. Now they all stared down at him. “I couldn’t have done it without you; all of you.” He said, attempting to sit up. Greem reached down and held out his hand. Glyph grabbed it, and Greem pulled him to his feet, and held him there, as he almost collapsed under his own weight. Ishea stepped forward and kissed Glyph deeply. When she finally pulled away she wiped her eyes and gave him ‘the smile’.
Amos reached over and shook Glyph’s hand. “I wasn’t sure if you could pull it off man, but that was incredible!” Then his face turned serious. “Glyph, I think I understand now. I hope you can forgive me for doubting your story about this place.”
“Don’t sweat it Amos, you were just doing your job. Besides, I knew you’d come around, if I could keep you alive long enough.” Glyph said with a laugh.
Then Lobrein stepped forward. “Glyph, what I have seen you do here scares the hell out of me.” She paused, and glanced over at Ishea. “But at least now I am sure your intentions are honorable.” She said and after hesitating a moment, finally leaned over and gave him a hug. “Thank you.” She whispered to him as she stepped back, and Glyph nodded.
“Great One, I would like to formalize my allegiance to you and your cause.” Zarabish said in her deep demon voice.
“Decided to stay with the winning side Zarabish?” Glyph said and winked at her.
“No. I have decided to stay on your side. Win or lose, you are my best hope for freedom.” She said flatly, unable to see the humor in his question.
“The Hexzu wish to formalize our allegiance as well.” Grot said, not to be outdone. “You have done a great service for my people, and we are in your debt.”
Glyph seemed shocked by both statements, and he could feel his eyes beginning to well up. “I don’t know what to say, I am honored, but there will be time for this later. “Right now, I just want a shower, and a nice soft bed.”
“Here drink this.” Lobrein said and produced a small vial from her smock. “I do not believe Greem will want to carry you all the way to Kivas.” She smiled.
“I will take him anywhere he wishes to go. Where is this Kivas?” Greem said resolutely, glancing about. Glyph, Lobrein, and Ishea all began to laugh, leaving the rest of them with a puzzled look on their faces. “I’ll explain it later.” Glyph said, and they all made their way down to the desert floor.
After several hours, the lake had filled, and any remnants of Tsach’s army had been disposed of. Nearly all of the Kivan soldiers guarding the portal had perished, and almost as many Hexzu in the hours it had taken Glyph to get to M’atra and submerge the gate. Most of the battlefield had been flushed into Degruthras, dead bodies and all, so proper burial cleanup had taken less time than Glyph had anticipated. Word had been sent to Toban and the other Kings to turn the bulk of their armies back towards home, but to have the leaders of all the countries to meet with Glyph here. By Lobrein’s estimate, Toban would arrive closer to nightfall, and Glyph looked forward to seeing his old friend. Covat was only a few hours behind Toban, but there was apparently some problem with the Delturan’s that Miatsu had to go and handle personally. He and King Rokka were expected to arrive in the morning, with Kahula only a day’s march behind them.
Ishea and Lobrein had created a large stone cave from the bedrock under the sand dunes. They magically carved out four chambers, one for each of them, and Zarabish, who was none too fond of being underground, took the tent that had served as the outpost for the portal. Glyph was resting comfortably in a hammock, strung between two tree size pillars of rock Ishea had made for him. He was just now starting to feel a trickle of magical energy returning to him, and it had been at least four hours since the battle. It was strange returning from his hour in Degruthras after midnight, and stepping through into M’atra shortly after sunrise. Ishea explained that it was due to the time differential between the two worlds and Glyph had left it at that. He really didn’t care, it was closer to how he remembered it anyway. It wouldn’t matter as long as Albast was true to his word and could help him to stay here on M’atra.
There was a knocking sound coming from just outside his offshoot of the cave. “Come in.” Glyph said and was surprised to see Zarabish, halfway crawling into his room and sitting crossed legged.
“Great One, may we speak?” She said.
“I believe this is the first time you have ever come to talk to me.” Glyph said, and chuckled. “What’s on your mind?”
“I am wondering at what capacity I may serve in your fight against Tsach?”
“Here’s what I want to know, why? Why do you want to help me fight Tsach? You could do anything, go anywhere. Why stay here with me? I hope it’s not out of some sort of moral obligation for setting you free, because–.”
“I can assure you it is not.” Zarabish interrupted. “I have thought about what the old man said to me.” She said her voice growing quiet. “There are others, who think like me. If I can, I would like to save them from extinction.”
“Damn, you get right to it. Wow. I really don’t know what to say about that. I guess in that case you should probably hold the rank of General.”
“What rank is General? Is this a military rank?” Zarabish asked, Glyph could tell she was somewhat intrigued now.
“Let’s see, that would mean me, then a handful of other people, then you, then the army of Kivas. That would be a General.” Glyph explained.
“I would lead your army?” Zarabish almost gasped.
“It would be rather hard to save demon lives, those that want to defect, unless you’re in command of the army trying to kill them.” Glyph said seriously.
“Are you sure? Your people may not accept me. Many of them must still harbor animosity for demons. Drathus did invade this world twice, Great One.” Zarabish replied.
“Alright, first you can drop the Great One title. When we are in private, or among friends, you should call me Glyph. In public, you will refer to me as King Glyph. Second, my people will accept whomever I tell them to accept, just as they’re going to accept the Hexzu. And besides, who is better qualified to train an army to defeat Demons and Grull than another Demon. So what I need to know now is, do you accept my offer, General?”
Zarabish stared at him for a few seconds. “I accept…Glyph.” She scowled.
“Great. Now, I will announce it tomorrow at the meeting. Until then, we’ll keep it between us. This is a serious position, and I expect you to live up to your reputation.” Glyph venerated.
“I do not have a reputation.” Zarabish replied.
“Not yet, but you will.” Glyph said sitting up on his hammock.
Zarabish nodded. “Very well, I will take my leave of you…Glyph.”
“Good evening Zarabish.” Glyph shook his head as the demon left. ‘I’m not sure if this one will go over too well, but too bad. I’ve saved this world too many damn times for them to deny me any request.’ He thought to himself.