“You would be better off commanding your forces, Grot.” Drayden spoke up.
Grot cocked his head slightly toward Drayden as if to hear the wizard more clearly. “Has this been foreseen?” He asked directly.
“Well no, but–.”
“Then Oathtet is capable, and I will relish the death of Cruix. She has been my enemy since birth, and it is my right to see her die.” Grot explained.
Drayden glanced at Glyph who nodded in return.
Ishea remained unusually silent.
“Very well.” Drayden acquiesced.
“Then it is settled. Thank you, Great One, for your guidance. I look forward to our battle with Cruix.” Grot’s mouth twitched into something resembling a smile, then nodded to Drayden and Ishea. “Wizard, Sorceress. Until tomorrow then.” With that said, Grot turned and left the war room.
They all looked at each other for a few moments in silence. Then Glyph spoke up. “Well, I’m open for suggestions. Last time I took on a demon, I only killed him by going supernova on his ass, and I can’t exactly turn that on and off at will.” He turned his view towards Drayden. “You know her best Drayden, what do you think?”
“I think she is a ruthless, domineering, bitch. And cruel, cannot forget cruel.” He replied, cocking his head, and furrowing his brow. “As to how best to defeat her? Your guess is as good as mine. I imagine, were she stripped to her robes, I could probably take her myself, however Cruix is many thousands of years old. She has run campaigns on countless worlds. She has, over those years, obtained many powerful objects and artifacts, and her knowledge of the arcane arts is all-encompassing.”
“So do we have a chance?” Glyph questioned.
“Oh yes. Between the three of us, without too many distractions, I would think we should be able to handle her. I do not know what to expect from her, though. We should be prepared for anything. We will have to work as a team, and watch out for each other.” Drayden said and turned his head toward Ishea, and back to Glyph, raising his eyebrows. “We can do that, right?”
Glyph glanced at Ishea. She shot him a nasty look and turned back to Drayden.
“Yes, we can do that.” Ishea replied.
Glyph nodded yes, though he wasn’t sure if Ishea was being truthful.
“Wonderful. Wonderful. Now, I think you could use some practice,” Drayden hinted, leaning to indicate Glyph. “And it would not hurt for you to brush up on your skills either.” he continued as he gestured toward Ishea. “I know I am a bit rusty.”
Ishea managed a slight smile and stood from the table. “I will meet you in the Hall then.” She said, and vanished from sight.
“Care to try?” Drayden said slyly, waving at the place Ishea had just been.
Glyph stood and walked around the table. Closing his eyes, he thought of the Hall that he had been in with Ishea, and pictured it in his mind. Then he thought about the Divinare Crystal and how he had solidified his image to save King Rokka. A strange sensation overcame him. He opened his eyes to see the large cave solidifying before him, through a red haze. Ishea was standing by the far wall and the entrance was to his right. Turning his head, Glyph realized the transition was complete; he had teleported.
Drayden appeared a few feet away, and Glyph could tell he was pleased.
“Well done Glyph.” He said smiling, and teleported some distance toward the back of the Hall.
“Defend yourselves!” Drayden shouted at them. Spinning quickly to the left and back to his right, he unleashed a blue shockwave in the shape of an arc. It expanded exponentially, emanating from the center outward as it covered the distance between them in a few seconds.
Glyph called up his shield and felt the impact of the wave flow over him. Immediately he punched two fireballs back at Drayden, who teleported out of the way. Ishea’s lightning bolt missed him as well.
As Glyph geared up to throw a shockwave of his own, he suddenly became surrounded in complete darkness. He stumbled and lost his sense of balance momentarily. He could hear sounds of a fierce fight between Ishea and Drayden, but could see nothing. He wondered if he had gone blind, and dropped his shield to be certain it wasn’t his own magic being used against him. Slowly he inched his way forward. After fifteen feet or so, he emerged from the shroud of darkness, which began to dissipate as soon as he had stepped out of it. ‘Very slick! That’s thinking outside the box.’ Glyph thought as he restored his shield.
Glyph spun, and lifted both arms in an uppercut motion. Two pillars of rock shot up underneath Ishea and Drayden’s feet, pushing them rapidly towards the top of the cave. Ishea rolled off about half way up, using some sort of enhanced speed. Drayden teleported once again, but as soon as Glyph saw him reappear, he pulled his fist downward and opened a pit beneath Drayden’s feet. Drayden’s mouth opened wide as he fell out of sight, only to levitate back out a moment later.
As Glyph turned back toward Ishea, ice formed around his legs and crept swiftly up his body. Within a few seconds he was encased to his neck, as Ishea appeared in front of him. Whipping her knife out of her boot, she brought it swiftly towards Glyph’s neck in a slashing motion. Just before the knife was about to slice into his throat, Glyph released a massive red force field that shattered the ice, blasting it and Ishea several yards away.
Concerned he may have injured her, Glyph covered the short distance to Ishea’s crumpled form on the ground in seconds. “Ishea! Are you okay?” He shouted.
Without warning, Ishea brought her legs around and swept Glyph’s out from under him. As Glyph toppled to the ground she rolled over on top of him, with her knife again at his throat. “We must be prepared for anything.” She whispered in his ear and stood up.
Glyph got up right behind her, mad as hell. “Sorry, but I don’t think I’ll be checking to make sure Cruix is okay during our fight!”
“Are you sure?” Ishea accused, and began to walk away.
“Enough! What is it with you two?” Drayden bellowed.
“Tell him, Glyph. If you do not want to believe me, tell him why I am so upset.”
“There’s nothing to tell.” Glyph retorted.
“He cannot use his blue magic, and his red magic seems to come and go.”
“Ishea, he is the Great One, his way is both of light and darkness.” Drayden said.
“No. Now it is only darkness.” Ishea came back.
“Glyph, is this true? Can you only perform the red magic?” Drayden asked.
“Yes, okay, I can only do red magic, what’s the big deal?”
“The big deal is that you are meant to do both, and in the end you must choose. Your path is destined, the outcome a matter of prophets and prophecy. The red magic is—.”
“Negative, blue magic positive. I’ve heard all this before, and speaking of prophecy, I want to know what this prophecy says that brought you here to begin with.”
Drayden thought for a moment, ignoring Glyph’s request. “If your red magic fails, it might be because you are not using the blue. It could be the red comes easier to you, or…” He paused. “Perhaps you are feeding it with something. It would likely be something negative, or something evil. When the fuel is gone, so is the magic.”
Ishea’s eyes lit up. “He has been murdering innocents during his hour.” she said with a sly grin, never taking her eyes off Glyph.
Glyph felt like punching that smug look right off her face. “Yeah! So what! I had to kill a few people on Earth; big deal. Like you’ve never killed anybody before?” Glyph said defensively.
“His eyes turn the color of blood, and he loses control of his own actions. He kills until there is no one left to kill.” Ishea stated, staring Glyph down.
Glyph glared at her. “Fuck you. I let you inside my brain to see my fucked up life and this is the thanks I get.”
Drayden stepped between them, and turned toward Glyph. “You must obtain a balance Glyph, or the choice will be made for you. These deaths are compounding your inability to perform the blue magic.”
“Now I see!” Ishea exclaimed, and stepped to Drayden’s left to get Glyph back in her sight. “Now I know why your power is so much greater today than yesterday. You are feeding off the deaths of the ones you kill on Earth! You grow stronger with every murder, and you feel it justified by the amount of power you have to throw around when you get back. It saddens me, Glyph.” Ishea stated coldly.
“QUIET!” Drayden bellowed, and Glyph’s retort choked off in his throat.
Drayden leaned in toward Glyph with a smile. “Do not bother trying.” He said.
Glyph found he could no longer speak, as if his vocal chords had been frozen in place. Ishea huffed loudly, and crossed her arms defensively.
“I will share with you what I remember of the prophecy, but you must try to use the blue magic. It is more important than you realize, Glyph. Does that sound equitable?”
Glyph nodded affirmative.
“Wonderful, you first. I will return in an hour or so to see how you are coming along. Just try something simple. Make a light or something.” Then he turned to Ishea “I want to have a talk with you right now.” And they both winked out.
Glyph discovered he could speak again as soon as they had left, to no avail. To be truthful, he was glad they were gone. Deciding to try it Drayden’s way, he found himself a comfortable spot to sit and concentrated on a blue light. Every time he tried though, it always came up red. ‘It’s not going to work.’ He thought, but kept at it anyway, just to prove it to himself if nothing else.
After about the hundredth time, his red magic stopped working again. Now he couldn’t make any light appear. He sat there for a time in the darkness. He thought about Kivas, and the beautiful waterfall spilling forth from the mountainside, and the castle below, carved right out of the rock face. Idly Glyph felt around, picked up a rock and chucked it into the unseen distance. ‘I would love to be in Kivas right about now. I was there for three days, but it felt like a year, as if I’d always been there, like it was made for me. In a way I guess it was, I am the king after all.’ he thought.
“I am the king of Kivastor. Shit. If this ever ends, I’ll be enjoying one hell of a reward.” Glyph spoke aloud.
As he turned to find his way out of the cave, Glyph began to think about Ishea. What fun would being a king be without her? He knew he would have to make things right, but without his magic to help fight Cruix tomorrow, their chance of success would be marginal at best. Drayden knew it, and Ishea probably did too. ‘In order to have the power, I’m going to have to kill some people on Earth.’
His eyes began to adjust to the darkness, and there was enough glowing moss near the entrance that he found his way to the mouth of the cave. Before Glyph left, he turned and gave it one last try. Still there was nothing, no blue light. “Damn.” Glyph said in exasperation. Spinning around he stormed out of the cave. Behind him a small blue ember flared and extinguished. Caught up in his own thoughts, Glyph never even noticed.
“Drayden!” Glyph yelled into the cave as he marched down the entryway into the makeshift quarters where he and Ishea had been staying. “Drayden! I want to talk to you–.”
Glyph stifled his yell as he entered the room and saw Ishea with her head in her hands, crying. Drayden sat next to her with his hand on her shoulder. They both stiffened as he entered, Ishea turned away as Glyph walked towards them.
Drayden stood to meet him. “What do you want, Glyph?” he said as he tried to maneuver Glyph away from Ishea.
“I want to talk to you.” Glyph hissed in a hushed tone through clenched teeth. “I need answers, you have them. I’m tired of the bullshit; I want to know what that prophecy says about me!” Glyph demanded.
Drayden turned his head, then faced Glyph again. “Not here.” He whispered indicating Ishea.
“Why not here, Drayden?” Ishea spoke up. Her eyes were watery, and she cleared her throat. “I have as much right to know as you do, or Glyph for that matter.”
Drayden shook his head and began to pace. “Ishea, you should not know. Your part in this is not over. Knowing the prophecy may change the outcome. It could influence your decisions.”
“I remember Albast’s lessons well, Drayden. I have been remembering much since discovering that you are alive here.” She chided. “True prophecy cannot be forced. If the outcome is changed in the knowing, then the prophecy was false to begin with. Are you suggesting you have lived here as a prisoner for thirty years, over a prophecy that may be false?” She asked sarcastically.
Drayden opened his mouth and closed it again. His eyebrows rose over his milky eyes, and then they dropped into a menacing scowl. “Now listen Ishea, some things are better left unknown–.”
“The power of truth lies in knowledge. Is that not what Albast taught?” Ishea questioned.
“Do not quote Albast to me!” Drayden shouted, and then heaved a great sigh. “I know what he has said, and I know it to be the truth. I will not argue anymore; if it is what you wish then I will tell you what I can remember.” Drayden began to pace back and forth, concentrating.
“The prophecy was hidden, mind you, but it seemed very specific in meaning. It talked about the daughter of the high blood, being named the Guide.”
“That is what Cruix’s Seer said of me back at the temple; it said I was the Guide and Glyph was the bringer of life and death.”
“I am not surprised, it goes with the prophecy. Seers are seldom inaccurate.” Drayden said.
“And…” Glyph prompted.
“Hm, yes, well the Guide was to bring the Great One to Degruthras. A war would break out, and ultimately you would save M’atra.”
“That seems a little vague.” Ishea stated.
“Look, it has been a long time since I saw the prophecy.” Drayden explained.
“What else did it say about me?” Ishea asked
“Only that you would face the Queen by yourself, and the outcome will determine a new set of events, possibly the end of what is called the Great War.” He replied.
“It says Ishea will die?” Glyph questioned.
“In her battle with the Queen, Cruix to be precise, there will be only one victor. The prophecy splits at this point, and continues with two separate outcomes.”
“What are they?”
“If Cruix wins, the Great One may change sides, and lead the demons in the Great War. If Ishea is victorious, Glyph may continue to side with us and we could win. The prophecy was less specific after the split, and we could not fully agree upon its meaning.”
“I know I’d never side with the Demons.” Glyph protested loudly.
“Glyph, at this point the divergent prophecies become open to debate.”
“Did you cross-reference them to the Briney Index?” Ishea asked
Drayden nodded emphatically “And the Chronicles of Jorj, The History of Kivastor, all the assorted recordings at Toleth’Va, including The Prophecies of Priam. We did not take our duty lightly. Albast insisted we follow the ancient guides for interpreting prophecy.”
Ishea stood, staring off into space for a moment, and then announced, “Then I shall face her alone, without you.”
“Ishea, this is exactly what I was afraid of. You cannot allow yourself to change your mind. A moment ago you were perfectly content to go into battle with Glyph and I by your side, and now you want to face her alone.” Drayden chastised.
“Drayden’s right, Ishea. We should stick to the plan.” Glyph said, glancing over at her, considering the implications.
“But what else could it mean?” Ishea wondered aloud.
“It could mean anything, Ishea.” Glyph responded.
“Albast, Lobrein, and I found its meaning. We studied it thoroughly, and we believe it to mean that Glyph must make a choice between good and evil. The survivor of the battle between Ishea and Cruix may decide who will ultimately win or lose.” Drayden said concisely. “That is why we came here.”
“What about balance?” Glyph asked.
“It would seem that that is what you are all about, Glyph. The choice you make will be yours alone, and only you will know what it might be. But be certain of this, whichever way you choose, the results will be cataclysmic for the opposition.”
Glyph stared at Drayden “So I choose between good and evil, and the side I choose wins out?” He declared,
“Essentially that is correct. Ishea’s survival, or demise, will be the catalyst for your choice. It will set into motion a series of events, which will lead you to your decision”. Drayden replied.
Silence fell upon them as they separately pondered what Drayden had said.
“And that’s all of it?” Glyph finally asked.
“More or less.” Drayden said.
“So is it more? Or is it less?” Glyph responded.
“Yes, yes that is how I remember it!” Drayden shouted, and heaved another sigh. “It has been a long day. Perhaps we should get some rest now. We have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.” Drayden spoke more calmly.
Glyph had to agree, he was exhausted. It would seem you can only do so much in a day, and lately his days have seemed like years. “Yeah. Okay.” He agreed.
“A bit of rest might do us all some good.” Ishea said. She nodded curtly and walked toward the back of the cave.
Drayden turned his head toward Glyph and pointed to the entrance. Glyph stood and followed Drayden to the mouth of the cave.
Drayden turned and asked him quietly, “Could you perform the blue magic?”
“You must try harder. If you do not succeed, you will have to use red magic tomorrow.” He leaned toward Glyph and nodded knowingly, “Ishea’s life may depend on it.”
“What are you saying exactly Drayden? I have enough riddles in my life.”
Drayden leaned in close, his blind eyes locking with Glyph’s. “Kill as many people as you can on Earth.” He spoke in a hoarse whisper. “Ishea is no match for Cruix by herself. We must protect her. Without your magic I fear we may not defeat Cruix.”
Glyph was momentarily taken aback, then nodded his understanding.
“I will see you after you have returned from your hour, in case you are in need of healing.” Drayden bowed respectfully. “Until then.”
“I’ll see you then.” Glyph replied, as he watched Drayden fade from sight.
He went to the table and sat down. As he untied his boots, a gargoyle appeared in the entrance hall with a tray of food and a container of water.
“Where do you find this?” Glyph asked indicating the water.
“The Chasm.” The guard replied, placing the tray on the table. “It seeps from the bedrock into a small river that flows to the south.”
Glyph thanked him and set about eating his food. This, whatever it was, was better than anything else he had eaten here so far. He hadn’t realized how hungry he was, or how tired. After he ate, Glyph lay down on the stone slab against the back wall.
He laid there restless for an hour or so. He soon got up, put on his boots, and opened up the black duffle bag stashed under the slab. Grabbing the bullet proof vest, Glyph began to suit up for his hour, reloading the guns and extra ammo mags, and placing a grenade in each pocket. He couldn’t be sure Ishea was going to wake him and if he passed over into his hour while he was asleep, he wouldn’t have anything to fight with. Strapping the Mac and AK around his neck, he hoped to rectify that problem. A few seconds later he lay back down, and was fast asleep.
“I am here!” Glyph screamed into the funnel of wind. Lightning flashed in the rolling turmoil. “Who are you?” He yelled above the howling winds.
Shielding his face with his hands, Glyph tried to move closer to the old man. The winds got faster, and debris was pelting him all over. “Why am I here?”
“To fulfill your destiny.” Echoed a voice inside his mind.
“What is my destiny?” Glyph screamed back at the swirling maelstrom.
“Choose!” the voice bellowed.
Then all was silent, and dark.
Ishea was gently shaking him when he awoke.
“Are you alright?” Ishea asked.
“I’m fine. I didn’t think you would come.” Glyph answered, groggily pulling himself into a seated position.
Ishea steadily looked him over. “I see you were prepared.”
Glyph glanced down at the body armor and weapons slung across his chest. He let out a forced chuckle and said, “Yeah, I just wanted to make sure I had everything, just in case.”
“Oh. Well it won’t be long now.” She said, pausing briefly to sit down next to him. “I wanted to tell you some things I have been thinking about.” She paused again. “I want you to know that I think Drayden is wrong about the prophecy.” Ishea’s eyes flicked downward toward the AK-47. “Regardless, I want you to help the Hexzu, Glyph. No matter what happens to me, you must continue.”
“Don’t worry about it.” Glyph said staring into her eyes. “It will all work out in the end.” Though he wasn’t sure the end would ever come. “As far as the prophecy, I have my own reservations about Drayden’s recollection.”
“Glyph, I do not care what Drayden says. You have to fight this urge to kill, even if it means we lose tomorrow. We will have fought the good fight. There is already so much blood on your soul–.”
“I can’t make any promises Ishea, but I’ll try.” He said half to appease her and half to convince himself.
“It will be better than nothing.” She replied and leaned up against his arm, placing her head on his shoulder.
Glyph stared at the wall ahead for several moments, just feeling her beside him. It felt so right, like nothing in the world could come between them. Just as he wished it could go on forever, Glyph felt the familiar darkness begin to creep up around him. He stood up and crouched on one knee, holding the machineguns close to him. A cold wind enveloped him, pulling the air from his lungs once more, and the bright flash of light from his eyes. The darkness was complete, and consciousness faded.