As the darkness faded from his eyes, Glyph found himself on a cot inside a green canvas tent. He stumbled to his feet and strained to make out his surroundings in the small amount of light that filtered through the front flap. ‘Where am I now?’ He thought, but quickly remembered what he needed to do, and focused on the task at hand. He had to save Morracor; the prophecies must not be allowed to continue. Concentrating on Amos, Glyph felt out his presence, probed magically to locate his position, then in a quick flash of light teleported there.
When he opened his eyes he was standing next to Amos in the forest. Amos was screaming. “No! No, no, no, no.” as he made his way forward. Glyph saw what Amos was headed for, and at the same time Amos saw Glyph. The two stood and stared at each other for a moment, before they both ran toward the fallen body of Morracor.
Before they could get close, Prianna appeared beside Morracor’s lifeless body and erected a shield to protect them. Several of the demons moved forward from where they had just ambushed Morracor, smelling the fresh meat of new victims. Amos blasted the first one with lightning, and Glyph waved his arm sending three more spinning head over tail down the side of the mountain. He turned on the demon that Amos was attacking and, with a thought, exploded the creature’s head from the inside out, sending a misting cloud of black bloody gore into the treetops.
It was eerily silent as they walked slowly toward Prianna and Morracor. She was attempting to heal him, but Glyph could tell it was too late. The two of them just stood there about ten feet away watching Prianna work. She was already sobbing uncontrollably, and Glyph realized that she too knew that no amount of healing would bring back her adopted brother. A few seconds later Lobrein appeared, quickly followed by Miatsu and Albast.
“Prianna.” Lobrein said as she approached, but then hesitated as Prianna began to shake her head back and forth.
“No.” Prianna stated resolutely.
“Prianna.” Lobrein said again as calmly as she could.
“NO!” Prianna wailed as she let her energy shield fall away.
“It will be alright, Prianna.” Lobrein said softly and took another step closer to her.
“No!” Prianna screamed and leapt to her feet. “It is not alright! It will never be all right! Morracor is dead!” She yelled as she pointed her finger at Lobrein.
Lobrein stopped short and raised her arms with her palms open toward Prianna.
Prianna’s body shook as tremors of grief and hatred washed over her. Her eyes blazed a brilliant green and the light from them almost overshadowed the features of her face. “Those foul spawn of evil, wretched devils of death and destruction, they will pay for this.” She exclaimed as she turned and snatched a small bag from her belt. As she held the bag aloft a green nimbus glow encompassed her entire body.
“Prianna, stop!” Albast cried out, but Prianna ignored him.
With one quick turn of her wrist, the bag disappeared, leaving the contents in her trembling hand. “Feel my wrath!” The sorceress proclaimed, and threw what Glyph could only assume were some sort of seeds into the air in front of her, in the direction of the slowly advancing demons. There were a few short seconds of stunned expressions across their faces before the first seed fell to the ground, then hell erupted.
At first Glyph thought that the ground itself exploded in green flames, but it wasn’t fire that Prianna had unleashed, but bamboo. Within seconds the first shoots of the plant had matured and reached some twenty to thirty feet in the air, but that was just the beginning. Shoot after shoot spread faster than any man or demon could run, as Prianna poured her magic into the bamboo forest. A wave of the plant spread down the mountainside, the shoots growing through anything that stood in their way. Demon and Grull alike were pierced by the lightning-fast growth of the spreading shoots of bamboo, and the forest of plants left in its wake dripped with the black blood of the enemy, as their skewered bodies hung lifelessly.
For what seemed like hours Prianna channeled her energies into the bamboo, but it was really over in about two minutes. The new forest ran down the mountain into the valley and had spread across the entire plain of the battlefield, encompassing several miles of ground. The devastation was immense, and Glyph guessed nearly half of Tsach’s army had been destroyed by the time Prianna wavered and collapsed face-first across Morracor’s body.
Lobrein rushed to her side, and immediately began to feed magical energy into her body. “Albast, quickly. We must hurry.” She said, but Albast was already there placing his hand over her abdomen as Lobrein had done over her forehead, and the two of them worked on Prianna for several minutes.
Glyph just stared as the two wizards worked in conjunction on Prianna’s unconscious frame. It had happened, there was no stopping it; the Drayden prophecies were coming true no matter what he did to try and stop them. Glyph could only wonder what the future would hold for them next.
Miatsu regained his composure, and nudged Glyph on his way toward Morracor. “Please, help me move him out of the way.” He asked, and Glyph immediately obliged. The pair lifted his body, and carried him some twenty feet away, where Amos had created a long wooden table of tree branches. Reaching out, Glyph moved his hand over the dead wizard’s eyes, pushing them closed. Miatsu moved his hand over Morracor’s body, starting from the feet and moving toward the head, and began to chant some incantation. Glyph figured it was some sort of stasis or protection that he was placing on the body, and turned his attention to Amos.
Amos caught Glyph’s stare, and responded with his characteristic “What?”
“We need to talk. Now.” Glyph stated purposefully. This had gone on long enough. He was tired of playing games, and it was time to find out exactly where the prophecies were leading them. The two of them teleported some distance away, as Glyph wanted to be out of earshot of the others.
“So what do you want to talk about, Glyph?” Amos asked. Glyph noted how much the response sounded like something Ishea would have said to him.
“Let’s cut right to it Amos, you know about the Drayden prophecies don’t you?” Glyph asked.
“Of course I know about them.” Amos replied snidely.
“Don’t play stupid with me, you’ve seen them, you know what they’re about.”
“What? Did you really think I didn’t know?” Amos shouted at him. “I am Drayden, bitch! Up here at least.” He said, pointing one finger at his head. “I’ve seen the prophecies. Hell, I’ve studied them. I discovered them, locked away in Drayden’s animus, several months after you returned to M’atra.”
“You’ve known this whole time then? And you never thought to tell me? This is how you repay me for my friendship?” Glyph asked, becoming highly agitated.
Amos chuckled softly, and looked Glyph in the eye. “I don’t recall hearing you shout it to the mountain tops when you discovered the hidden room beneath the Repository at Toleth’va!” Amos accused.
“Wait, how do you know about that?” Glyph questioned him.
“I know things, Glyph. Things I’m afraid to even speak lest they come true. So there ain’t nothin’ you can say to me that’s gonna make one bit of difference. Face it, the prophecies are coming true. How many more need to come true before you just admit it? We both know what happens. Why even try?” Amos leaned forward and his eyes bulged as he finished.
Glyph felt stunned, and oddly betrayed, even though he too had opted to keep the prophecies a secret from Amos just as Amos had kept them from him. “No, I don’t know what happens, why don’t you enlighten me?” He replied.
“Oh, that’s right.” Amos said coolly. “I almost forgot about the coding sequence that Albast and Drayden placed upon the Tapestry. I can even remember why they did it, though they were sadly mistaken. The prophecies are evil, man. Drayden took them straight from the Tome of Dark Lore. I’ve spent the last four days trying to prevent what I’ve seen there, but with no luck. No matter what I do to try and change them, they still come true.”
“So what is it then? What is so terrible that you had to take it upon yourself to try and prevent them?” Glyph asked.
Amos just stared at him. “What is it? Do you even need to ask, haven’t you seen enough already to guess where this is headed? Drayden, the war, Grot, Morracor. Isn’t that enough? I can’t stop it, Glyph. I’ve tried, and Tsach knows them too, don’t ask me how, but he does and he’s been using them to his advantage the whole time.”
“So tell me, god damn it!”
Amos’s mouth contorted several times but no sound came out. “Don’t you think I’ve tried to tell you? Because I have, I’ve tried so hard to tell you.” Tears streamed from his eyes now and he began to sob. Then he stiffened and jabbed his fingers repeatedly into his forehead. “I can’t. I can’t tell you, the bastard in here won’t let me!” With that Amos stumbled forward, and Glyph caught him before he fell. Then Amos collapsed and clung to Glyph’s leg weeping, whether it was Amos out of frustration, or Drayden out of grief for Morracor he couldn’t tell.
This was the last thing Glyph had expected to happen. He had no idea that Drayden’s animus could excerpt that kind of control over Amos, but it did explain a lot. It also meant the only one who could tell him what was going to happen next was Albast, and Glyph knew that was unlikely to happen as well.
Glyph tried to think about what he needed to do next, but his thoughts kept returning to M’atra. Ishea was on her way to Kivas with their army, but it would be too little too late. Tsach would inevitably make it there long before Ishea would, if he wasn’t there already. The city was defenseless, and Glyph had made it that way; a city full of women and children waiting to be butchered by Tsach. He didn’t need to see a prophecy to know that was going to happen. He had to get back to M’atra, but the curse prevented him from going through the gate, and that meant the only one who could get him there was Albast. The question was, could he do it quickly enough to make a difference, and perhaps more importantly, would he do it at all?
Feeling his anger and frustration begin to rise, Glyph quickly let out several deep breaths, and then peeled himself away from Amos. A second later he reappeared near Prianna, Lobrein, and Albast. Lobrein was helping Prianna to her feet, and Albast was trying to steady her.
“Will she be alright?” Glyph asked as he approached.
“She will live. Whether she is alright or not remains to be determined.” Albast replied.
“I will take her back to the main quarters, and inform General Eddings of what has taken place.” Lobrein said, and with a curt nod toward Glyph the pair vanished.
“What’s wrong with Prianna?” Glyph asked Albast.
“She has drained her magical reserve, possibly to the point where it may not return.” Albast replied as he made his way toward Miatsu, and the body of Morracor.
“How did she do that? I mean it would be hard for me to create a forest of that size, that quickly.”
“How, indeed.” Albast said and chuckled lightly. “Prianna is extraordinarily intelligent, even if her behavior is controlled by her emotions. She was able to do what she did Glyph, because she didn’t create anything.”
“Uhm, its right over there.” Glyph said and pointed at the tip of the bamboo forest. “Its definitely not an illusion.”
Albast smiled as they approached Morracor’s lifeless body. “Prianna has studied nature for thousands of years, and she used that knowledge to her advantage. Rather than create a forest, as you or I may have done, she simply planted one. All she did was use her power to accelerate what nature already does. When she added her emotions, they served as fuel for the power she put forth. Had she not stopped when she did, Prianna would have used up her very life essence and died. As it is she may never regain the use of her magic powers.”
“I have placed the body in stasis, Albast.” Miatsu said softly as the three of them stared down at Morracor.
“Thank you, Miatsu. Please return him to the main quarters. Be discreet. Prianna is there already, and could relapse should she see his body again so soon.”
“Of course Master.” Miatsu replied and then they too vanished.
“Where is Amos?” Albast questioned.
“I left him in the woods. I needed to talk to you.” Glyph replied coldly.
“I see. I suspected as much. Though I am surprised, I thought you might still be cross with me after our last conversation.” He said.
“I am. But as it turns out, you’re the only one who can help me right now.”
“And how may I help you, Great One?”
“Cut the crap, Albast. You’ve seen the prophecies, you knew Morracor would die, and yet you did nothing to stop it.”
“There are far worse things that one may see than the death of a dear friend. Drayden was the first, Morracor the second.”
“Why? Why let the prophecies continue? They came from the Tome of Dark Lore. They are evil, and we should try to prevent them at all cost.”
“Should we now? Is it so hard to understand that it is precisely because of the fact that they are from the Tome that they should be allowed to continue, and even encouraged to take place?”
“Are you out of your fucking mind, old man?!” Glyph shouted.
“If you were malevolent, completely malevolent, and the Tome was in the hands of your enemy, would you show them scenes of what you wanted to take place, and give them the opportunity to prevent it, or would you show them exactly what needed to take place in order for them to win, but present it in a way that would make them want to prevent it?”
Glyph just stared at him, the words churning over and over again in his mind. “But how could you know which one was correct? How could you know if the Tome was tricking us into preventing prophecies that must come true in order for us to win?”
“I do not know, at least for certain. It was Drayden himself who came up with the theory, even though it meant allowing his own death, and that of Morracor as well. It is precisely why he insisted that the prophecies be encoded into the tapestry in that manner, in order to provide you with the most objective viewpoint possible.”
Glyph just shook his head.
“It really is just a matter of perspective. Trust your instincts. If they tell you to try and prevent the prophecies from coming true, than you should do so. You are the Great One, after all.”
“Dammit, Albast, that’s not really any help. Your damn coding of the prophecies leaves me very little wiggle room, and no time to second guess my actions. If you want me to be able to do something about what I see, then you’re going to have to tell me what will happen next.” Glyph demanded.
“I do not.” Albast replied sharply. “I am perfectly fine with allowing the prophecies to continue. I cannot tell you what will happen next.”
“Can’t or won’t?” Glyph quipped. “You know what? I don’t care. Talking to you doesn’t help, so fuck it. There’s only one thing I need from you anyway, and that’s to send me back to M’atra. Do you think you can do that? Or is that contradictory to your precious prophecies?”
“You wish to go back to M’atra? Is their war not going as planned?” Albast questioned.
“Either you can, or you can’t, the answer is pretty simple. What’s happening there is of no concern to you.” Glyph shot back.
“I am sworn to protect M’atra Glyph, perhaps if I knew–.”
“You are sworn protector of shit! You don’t care what happens there anymore than you do over what happens here, as long as it all lines up with the fucking prophecies!” Glyph shouted, his anger breaching the constraints of his sanity. “Did they mean anything to you? Drayden? Morracor?”
“Were they ever really your friends, or were they just pawns to be sacrificed for your beliefs? Hell, why do I bother asking, you let your own daughter be tortured and raped by demons, why would I think you gave a rat’s ass about them?”
“Enough!” Albast yelled, his eyes sparkled and blazed a golden yellow, before reverting quickly back to normal, along with his countenance. “Do not judge what you do not understand.”
“Really? Well maybe that’s what you need, maybe it’s been so long since someone judged you that you forgot what its like. Decisions and beliefs are made easily when no one holds you accountable for them.” Glyph replied, standing his ground against the ancient wizard. “But you knew, and did nothing. For your sake, I hope you’re right, because if you’re wrong, I will be there to make certain you are held accountable, and I will make damn sure that everyone knows why!”
The pair stood and stared at each other in silence. Glyph realized that his argument wasn’t getting him anywhere, but for some reason it felt good to put the enigmatic old wizard in his place.
They both turned at once to see Amos standing some distance away, looking rather sheepish for eavesdropping. “Maybe we should take a little breather. We are all on the same side, right?” Amos asked.
There was a long awkward moment of silence. “Can you send me back to M’atra or not?” Glyph finally asked.
“M’atra? Glyph shouldn’t you be trying to find Tsach?” Amos asked, suddenly curious.
“Tsach isn’t here.” Glyph stated calmly. Amos and Albast quickly exchanged looks, and Glyph noticed immediately. He stared at the pair, as they glanced away, and acted as if something meaningful had not just passed between them. “You mother fuckers!” Glyph shouted. “You already know! I don’t believe you! Why? Why wouldn’t you tell me that Tsach was headed for Kivas? I could have stopped him…” Glyph said, and trailed off. As if the glance wasn’t enough, Amos had started to tear up again, and was now embracing Albast.
“For god’s sake, what the fuck is going on now?” Glyph demanded.
“You’ll know soon enough.” Albast replied.
Glyph screamed in frustration. “You know what? Fuck both of you! I’m done!” Glyph yelled and teleported away before he lost control and fried both of them. Glyph stood at the scenic overlook, the last rays of the sun had dipped below the horizon leaving only a dark red glow in the sky to mark its passing. He stared down at the battlefield, not that it could be called that anymore. Prianna’s bamboo forest had put a stop to the war, at least temporarily. He could see the fires of the enemy blazing far in the distance, along with an occasional explosion as the demons tried and failed to burn the bamboo. Even if they tried to go around the new forest and the mountains it grew upon, it would still take them at least eight hours or more before they could get here.
There was some major activity going on down the eastern slope of the mountains, brilliant white light pushed its way into the descending darkness. Engines could be heard running, and sounds of construction as well. Soon, curiosity got the better of him and he made his way across the road to see if he could get a glimpse of what was happening. Before he got to the other side he heard a familiar voice call out from behind him.
“Is that you, Mr. Young?”
Glyph turned to see Captain Haddix standing in the entrance to the tent that the marines had placed there when they first arrived. He started back toward the soldier. “Yes, it’s me.” Glyph replied.
“I’d shake your hand, but as you can see…” Haddix said and gestured to his arm that was now in a sling. “Damned Grull bullet.” The soldier replied to Glyph’s questioning look.
“Mind if I take a look?” Glyph asked.
“So you’re a doctor now, too?” Haddix asked and then laughed a little. “There’s not much they can do for it. There aren’t enough surgeons or medical supplies left for them to do anything about it. I’m pretty certain I’ll never have use of it again, that is, if I live that long.”
“Here, hold still a moment.” Glyph said, and then ran his hand down the length of the Captains arm, healing it as he went. “There you go, how’s that?”
“What? What the fuck did you just do?” Captain Haddix said, as he began to slowly move his arm back and forth. He then looked up at Glyph in total surprise, and began to gingerly remove his sling, as if waiting for the pain to return any second.
“I’ll be damned!” Haddix shouted, and began vigorously rubbing his once broken arm. Soon he was laughing hysterically, after moving and wiggling his arm every which way, trying to get some remnant of pain to return without success. “I didn’t know you could do that.” He commented, and then his face grew serious. “You need to come with me.”
Haddix led him across the road, but didn’t stop. He continued on over the bank, and followed a small game trail down the slope. The night had almost completely fallen, but the lights from ahead were now showing them the way. After descending nearly a hundred feet, Glyph could see some sort of makeshift encampment that was sprouting up on a large flat spot on the side of the mountain. When they finally made their way to it, Glyph realized it was a mobile army hospital. The smell of death was everywhere. Not only were there piles of dead bodies, but body parts, and living bodies as well. The captain looked at Glyph. “Is there anything you can do for them?”
Glyph stared in disbelief; it looked like something from a civil war documentary. He immediately summoned the other wizards, and one by one they began to appear. Once they arrived there was no need to ask Glyph why he had summoned them, but instead they set to work, making their way toward the tents, healing anyone they could along the way. It was exhausting work, even for Glyph. Captain Haddix never left Glyph’s side, doing what he could for him and the other patients as well. As the wounded walked away in amazement from their deathbeds, Haddix would organize a new patrol and send them out to check the borders, to make sure no one was trying to sneak up on them. It was a little after midnight when Glyph saw his last patient. He took a large drink out of the canteen that Haddix had brought for him, and he made his way outside. Large pyres burned brightly a few hundred yards from the camp, for the ones who were beyond their capacity to heal or died in line waiting to see one of the wizards.
Glyph spoke to no one, and instead decided to try and walk back to their headquarters and get some much needed rest. He hadn’t gotten very far when he heard that familiar voice once again.
“Mr. Young! Mr. Young!” Haddix shouted as he hurried to catch up. “Where are you headed sir?” He asked.
“I’m going to get some rest Captain.”
“If you give me a minute I could get us some transportation.”
“No thanks Captain, I’ve decided to walk. Besides, if I really wanted I could just teleport there, you know.” Glyph told him.
“Oh, right. Mind if I tag along?” Haddix asked.
“Not at all.” Glyph replied, and the two of them walked in relative silence for the next ten minutes. After a while, Glyph could tell the Captain was getting a bit antsy, and took to cracking his knuckles repeatedly. “Something on your mind, Captain?” Glyph finally asked.
“Oh, I was just wondering about the girl, if she was alright. I didn’t see her with the other wizards, and I was a bit concerned that maybe she hadn’t made it.” Captain Haddix replied.
It took Glyph a moment to realize who he was referring to. “Oh, Prianna. She’s fine, just a bit weak after she grew that bamboo forest.”
“That was her? I would have thought that was you.” The Captain said and smiled in the pale light of the moon. “I was in a bunker at the time. I thought the whole mountain was coming down on us.”
“It was rather impressive.” Glyph added.
Several more minutes of silence passed as they walked.
“Mr. Young, I know you’ve already heard this a few thousand times this evening, but thank you. You gave a lot of people hope tonight.”
“No problem, Captain Haddix. I’m sure you would have done the same had you been in my position.” Glyph replied, and Haddix just nodded.
Thirty minutes later they reached the long driveway to the mansion that was serving as their headquarters. The walk had helped Glyph clear his mind, and also got rid of the stench of death that had earlier permeated his nose. Saying good night to Captain Haddix, Glyph made his way inside to his room, collapsed on his bed, and was asleep within minutes.
Glyph awoke with a start. Sweat beaded on his forehead and started to soak the sheets of his bed. It was still dark outside, and Glyph moved his arm up to check his watch; it was three forty-nine a.m. He felt uneasy, and at first thought it must have been whatever he had been dreaming about, though he couldn’t remember any of it. Rolling onto his back Glyph thought he saw movement near the end of his bed.
“Light!” Glyph yelled, but as the orb appeared a dark figure leapt on top of him and placed a hand over his mouth. He was about to blast out half the building, when he saw that it was a young woman. Then he recognized her.
“Glyph.” Zarish said in a hoarse whisper
Pushing the woman off of him he rolled onto the floor, and jumped onto his feet. A second later he had the King’s sword leveled at her chest. “What are you doing here?” Glyph demanded.
Zarish stared at him with wide eyes. “I have information about Tsach. My sources tell me he is on M’atra, and headed for Kivas.”
Glyph just sneered at her. “Tell your ‘sources’ it’s too little, too late. I know exactly where Tsach is going and why.”
“You do?” Zarish questioned.
“I do, and the only question you need to be concerned with is how Tsach found out about the location of the Tome.”
“The Tome? Of course, why did I not think of this before?” Zarish commented.
“Don’t play stupid, Zarish! I know you were the one who told Tsach where it was! Admit it!” Glyph commanded, brandishing his sword menacingly.
“I will not.” Zarish replied in surprise. “The only thing I told Tsach about the Tome was that you had it in your possession, I did not tell him it was in Kivas.”
“Nice try. Do you really think I’m that naive? Why should I believe anything you tell me?”
Zarish cocked her head slightly to one side. “We are on the same side.”
“Are we? I think the only side you’re on is your own.” Glyph accused. “Where could he possibly have gotten that information?”
“I am unsure, perhaps I should look into it further. He may have more spies on M’atra than the several we slaughtered in Toleth’va.” She suggested.
Glyph stared at her. Why did she always have an answer for everything? He wondered. And why were they always plausible enough to give him pause. “Fuck it!” Glyph said aloud and pulled back his sword to deliver the deathblow.