“–Oooooooooo!” Glyph heard Amos finish screaming as he opened his eyes. Amos was just sitting up rubbing his face and hair vigorously. He tried to stand, but found there was not enough room in the covered wagon they found themselves in. As the wagon jerked to a sudden halt, Amos tipped over and fell onto him. The pair struggled to free themselves from each other as the flap on the back opened to reveal Toban and Ishea. Amos practically rolled out the back as Toban tried to keep him from hitting the ground.
As Amos regained his footing the swearing began. “God damn it! Why the fuck did you do that? Do you have any sense about you at all?” He shouted at Glyph.
“Amos, look, I’m sorry but I needed your help.” Glyph tried to explain as he to crawled from the back of the wagon.
“My help? What could you possibly need my help for? And now I’m here!” Amos continued to rant.
“Tsach is here on M’atra–.” Glyph started to say before Amos cut him off once again.
“I know that! You knew I knew that!” Amos bellowed.
Glyph stood there staring at his old friend, and for the life of him could not understand what Amos was so upset about.
Glyph’s confusion must have been apparent as Amos stared back his eyes bulging from his skull again. “Didn’t you wonder how I knew that? Couldn’t you see what I was trying to do?” Amos chided him. Toban and Ishea stood silently watching the whole tirade.
“Amos?” Ishea said rather softly. Amos looked at her then back at Glyph, and finally back at Ishea, but said nothing. “I do not understand. Glyph, why did you bring him here?”
And then it hit him, he finally got what Amos was so upset about. Amos and Albast knew Tsach was here because they had seen it in the prophecies. The Drayden prophesies. Which meant that Amos would have to be on M’atra in order to see that Tsach was here. And had he not come, that is, if Glyph had not brought him here, Amos would have never seen it and the chain of prophecies could have been broken.
Now that Amos was here on M’atra, the prophecies would likely continue to come true.
“I fucked up. I fucked up big.” Glyph stated, as his head dropped into his hands.
“Oh, now you get it? Well it’s a little late there, Einstein.” Amos declared, gesturing wildly and placing his hands on the top of his head as he paced back and forth.
“What is going on?” Ishea now asked both of them.
“I brought Amos here to help in the battle against Tsach, but by doing so I have inadvertently caused the prophecies to come true.” Glyph told her.
“Well, it certainly makes it a lot more likely, that’s for sure.” Amos blurted out.
Glyph sighed and shrugged his shoulders. “Where are we, anyway?”
“We are just past Muret, toward the south side of the lake. I imagine Zarish is also back with us.” Ishea told them.
“I’ll go check on her.” Amos commented. He glanced questioningly at Toban.
“She is in the rear. Look for the largest wagon, you’ll find her there.” Toban informed him.
“Ishea, where’s the tapestry?” Glyph asked anxiously.
“I will send for it immediately.” Toban proclaimed and moved off at a swift pace.
Glyph put his face back in his hands and moaned.
“Glyph?” Ishea said, placing her hands over his and gently pulled them away. She looked at him with those penetrating purple eyes. “What is wrong, my love?”
“What isn’t wrong would be a better question.” Glyph stared back at her beautiful face. “I am sorry Ishea, I did not make it in time. Morracor is dead.”
Ishea tensed for a moment, and wiped at her eyes. “I know you tried your best, Glyph. It is not your fault.”
“It’s these damn prophecies. Every time I see one, it’s too late to do anything to stop it from happening. Albast knows what they are but he is convinced that the prophecies must come true in order for me to succeed. Who knows, maybe he is right. The first several seemed harmless enough, they didn’t even seem to matter all that much, but now with Morracor’s death, I just don’t know what to think.”
“So how is the war on Earth?” Ishea asked. Glyph was pretty sure she really didn’t want to know, but was just trying to change the subject. He filled her in on everything that had happened, including Prianna’s bamboo forest. Glyph tried his best to push the memory of his encounter with Prianna from his mind. He knew Prianna was okay with what had happened, it was obviously just her way, but Glyph still felt guilty, and he suspected that Ishea would not be as accepting of the situation as her ‘sister’ was. It was the only thing he had left out of his description of the previous twenty-three hours, and he began to feel guilty about that as well.
Toban approached at that point, and two Kivan soldiers helped set up the Tapestry where Glyph could see it from his seat on the back of the wagon. The scene still depicted Morracor’s death, but the white square had returned on the lower right side of the fabric.
Amos now walked up and shuddered as he too gazed upon the Living Tapestry. Glyph was loath to change the scene for fear of what horrible thing it would show him next.
“You might as well get it over with.” Amos said, turning his back to the Tapestry.
“You mean you can see it?” Glyph questioned. Amos pointed to his head and stared at Glyph in response. “Oh, of course.” Glyph said. “I keep forgetting you still have Drayden up there.”
“It doesn’t get any easier. There’s only two more to see so go ahead and look. I guarantee you’re not going to like it.”
“Amos, could you not tell Glyph what they are?” Ishea asked hopefully, as if she too had just remembered that he carried Drayden’s animus.
“I’ve tried Ishea, but I can’t. I’m prevented from speaking every time.” Amos told her.
“Prevented?” Ishea asked.
“It’s Drayden. He believes that the prophecies must come true, just like Albast. He won’t let Amos tell me what they are.” Glyph announced as he gazed dreadfully at the white square on the fabric.
“Yet, you also believe the prophecies to be evil, and that they should be prevented?” She asked.
Amos just nodded yes, then turned back to Glyph. “Just do it already.”
Glyph reached out and touched the square, and as the threads began to reweave themselves. He thought how much it reminded him of pulling the arm on a slot machine, only with the Tapestry, there was little chance of winning.
Glyph suddenly felt chilled, as the scene coalesced a moment later. The hair on his head stood up as he stared in disbelief. He stood in the dark woods, the only light shining from the King’s sword as he ran it through Albast’s middle, and out his back. The features of their faces clearly illuminated. There was no mistake; if this prophesy came true then Glyph was going to kill Albast.
“What? What is it Glyph?” Ishea asked.
Glyph was too stunned to describe what he saw. Instead he waved his hand slightly and said, “reveal.” Ishea gasped and took a step backward, placing her hand over her mouth.
“But…I mean…I know I’m not going to kill Albast! We’ve had our disagreements, but I’m not going to do that…am I?” Glyph asked, now more unsure of himself than ever. He also never thought he would kill several hundred Kivans in order to wipe out several thousand demons and Grull in the Pass, but he did. Glyph knew too well that the evil side of his nature was becoming more powerful by the minute, and he was no longer certain of anything.
“I told you you wouldn’t like it.” Amos said.
“I do not believe you are capable of such an act, Glyph.” Toban stated firmly from behind him.
“Nor do I. I am certain you have nothing to worry about.” Ishea added. Glyph just continued to stare at the scene before him. Finally after about a minute of silence, Glyph spoke. “Let’s get these wagons rolling.” The thought of Tsach in Kivas came flooding back into his consciousness.
“Right away, Glyph.” Toban replied and headed for the front of the line.
“I need to see Zarish right away.” Glyph said, all inflection was gone from his voice. He knew the prophecies, he knew their track record, and he had a bad feeling in the pit of his stomach that he was going to kill Albast sometime in the near future. He tried to brush the thought aside but couldn’t. Even after Amos and Ishea escorted him away from the tapestry it still weighed heavily on his mind.
At the back of the line of wagons was a really large one, the biggest covered wagon Glyph had ever seen in his whole time here on M’atra. As they approached, he could hear Zarish arguing with one of the Kivan soldiers.
“At least allow me to walk. My ankles have been dragging through the dirt since you put me in here yesterday.” Zarish complained.
Glyph could see she was right. The wagon looked like it had been built to carry a large siege weapon but had been covered at some point in order to transport supplies. As big as it was, pulled by a team of ten horses, it was still not big enough for her demon-sized frame.
“I will pass along your request, General, but I can not make that decision on my own.” The Kivan guard told her.
There was something wrong, something so wrong that it struck Glyph at his very core. This was not right. “I can.” Glyph told the soldier who promptly jumped to attention and saluted his King. Glyph thought negligently, and the wagon cover vanished, and the silver shackles that bound her arms and legs went with it.
Zarish sat up immediately, rubbing her wrists. Then she looked gravely at Glyph. “Why have you done this?” She asked.
“Because it’s not right. I cannot allow myself to think the worst of you because of a few coincidences. I apologize, Zarish.” Glyph told her, and extended his hand as if he could help her into a standing position.
“I…accept your apology. Mainly because it is more preferable than my execution, which was what I thought was about to take place.” Zarish replied.
Glyph began to laugh. “I just love demon humor.” Zarish just eyed him speculatively.
Amos quickly pulled him aside. “Are you sure that’s a good idea?” He asked quietly.
“No, I’m not sure, but you know what else? I don’t care anymore. If she betrays us to Tsach, then so be it. It’s a hell of a lot better than treating her like a criminal if she hasn’t.”
“But what about Tsach knowing that the Tome of Dark Lore was in Kivas?” Amos asked.
“Look, the topic was blurted out during Ishea’s trial. Any number of people could have heard it, even demons posing as monks. Besides, you said yourself that you thought that Tsach had seen the prophecies as well. Maybe he’s just going to Kivas because he saw it.” Glyph explained.
Amos glared at him dubiously.
“The point is, we don’t really know. And until we do, I’m not going to keep my friend in chains.” Glyph said.
“Glyph, is that not the complete opposite of what you told me yesterday?” Ishea chimed in.
“Probably. Now, if you will excuse me, I have to talk to Zarish about a few things.” Glyph replied, and then vanished. A moment later Zarish disappeared as well.
They stood at the base of the mountains of Kivas, and Glyph looked upward admiring the beauty of the rolling countryside.
Zarish just watched him, and waited. “Are you going to kill me now?” She asked him.
Glyph laughed, a deep belly laugh that took him several moments to recover from. “How come I never realized how funny you were before?” When Zarish didn’t immediately respond he continued. “How’s that shoulder wound?” He asked.
Zarish pulled her linen smock off her shoulder to reveal a nasty seeping scar. “I had to wait awhile before I could pay someone to heal it for me. They did a poor job.”
“Why didn’t you do it yourself?” Glyph asked somewhat confused.
“Because there I am Zarabish. I am Chinee. They would kill me if they knew that I had mastered the art of healing, and even if they didn’t they would not recognize my elevation to full demon status due to the way in which I had achieved it.”
Glyph understood. She had left them as Zarabish, it only made sense that she would return the same way.
“No matter. I’m going to ambush Akthule later tonight. I need you to get me his location, and any information about his personal protection, whether magical or not.”
Zarish allowed a slight smile to cross her face. “It would be my pleasure. Akthule is a pompous ass. He could use a good slaying.” Then the demon paused. “Glyph, I swear to you, I did not tell Tsach the location of the Tome.”
Glyph looked her in the eye and nodded. “Okay, but to tell you the truth, I don’t care anymore. I just want this whole thing to be over with.”
Zarish silently agreed. “We will be within striking distance of Kivas by this time tomorrow. Tsach will likely be waiting for you. Do you have a plan?” She asked him.
“No. I’m going to go into Kivas and take him down.” He replied.
“So you believe you will be able to locate Tsach and kill him within an hour?” Zarish stated questioningly.
Glyph was struck by the harsh reality of what she had just said. He would only have an hour, and if he did not succeed, he would be leaving Ishea, Toban, and about thirty Kivan soldiers to finish the job. None of which was equal to the task. The rest of the Kivan army would take nearly another half-day or more to reach the city walls. “You’re right as usual. I am working on a way to change the parameters of the curse.” He told her. Albast would have to come through, or risk leaving Ishea to fight Tsach on her own.
“Let us hope you are successful. I have a feeling that the battle we face will be a long one.” Zarish commented.
“I do as well. Listen, once you have Akthule’s location, it will no longer be safe for you to stay there. I want you to come back. The battle between Tsach and I is coming closer, and I’ll need you, and anyone else you deem worthy of living, on our side.” Glyph said.
“I understand. I will make the preparations, and send word to you as soon as I return.” Zarish replied.
“Good. We had best be getting back. The others are probably already wondering where we got off to.” Glyph replied and teleported them both back to the wagon train, which was on the move once more toward Kivas.
“There you are!” Ishea yelled as Glyph and Zarish reappeared. “If you will excuse us, it is my turn now.” She said as she took Glyph by the arm and led him off toward one of the covered wagons. They both clambered up and inside.
“I take it you want to talk to me?” Glyph said.
“I do not like being ‘left out of the loop’ as you are so fond of saying.” Ishea scolded him. “Why have you released Zarish? And why must you talk with her in private?” She demanded.
“I released her because it was the ‘right thing to do’ as you are so fond of saying.”
“Do not mock me. I am serious.”
“I don’t know, all right? I just did. The pendulum swings back toward good again.” Glyph said.
“What are you talking about?” She asked.
Glyph filled her in on Lobrein’s theory of good and evil. After a few minutes she nodded her understanding. “It does stand to reason. Do you think that is why you are going to kill Albast?” Ishea asked.
“I’m not going to kill Albast! It’s not going happen, I don’t care how evil I may become. I simply refuse to believe it, there’s no way.” Glyph sounded off defensively.
“Glyph, you have to admit that you are changing. From what Amos has told me, you are at least as powerful as Albast if not more so already. Even in your last hour here, you teleported from the Monastery at Toleth’Va to the Pass in one jump. Not to mention the atrocity you performed in the Pass. Your powers are growing, and if you are becoming more evil as Lobrein suspects then you must accept the fact that anything could happen between now and your final confrontation with Tsach.”
“No, not that. If that could happen then I would no longer be me, I would be something completely different, I would be… I would be…”
“A god?” Ishea offered.
“I was thinking more like a monster. Gods don’t kill innocent people.” Glyph stated.
“At least the good ones.” Ishea commented.
Glyph shot her a look, and stared. “If I kill Albast then I am no better than Tsach, and that is the whole idea right? To defeat Tsach, not become him. What good would it do to destroy one evil just to replace it with another?”
“But you are both, Glyph. The choice is ultimately yours to decide, and if you are triumphant in that battle, you will likely hold the power of a god, and hence become one.” Ishea told him.
Glyph shook his head back and forth. “No, I am not a god. The universe doesn’t need a god. It gets along just fine without one.”
“I must disagree. If the need were not present than you would not be here to reset the balance between good and evil.” She paused and wiped her eyes. “There may come a day when we may no longer be together, and that you may have to go out amongst the stars to ensure that the balance be kept.”
“Ishea, I am not a god. I will not be a god. I will not kill Albast. This…this whatever it is that’s taking place will be over soon, and we can go back to our lives, the way they were. I have to believe that.” Glyph told her.
“You truly are our only hope, Glyph. Only you can do what must be done. I foresee the day when the rest of us will be like ants within your shadow, and our love shattered by this fate that has been thrust upon you. Pray that you will succeed, for if our love should be sacrificed then may it be for the greater good.” Ishea said and choked up on the last word.
Glyph did not know what to say. It seemed that no matter what came out of his mouth, Ishea was determined to believe otherwise. He tried to see the situation through her eyes as he thought of his reply, but he could simply not fathom the depths of what it would mean if he were to become god of the universe. Instead he leaned over and kissed her resolutely and said, “I love you.”
Glyph hastily made his exit from the wagon and went in search of Amos. He could not bear to see Ishea cry and he was certain it was going to happen. He had brought Amos here for a reason, and he needed to let him know what it was. Making his way back toward Zarish’s cart, Glyph spied the pair deep in conversation. He tried to eavesdrop a bit, but Zarish had taken on human form, and they were keeping their voices low.
Glyph walked up to them. “Amos, Zarish, mind if I join you?”
“Why not.” Amos replied. “We need to discuss this plan of yours. Zarish tells me we will be within striking distance of Kivas at this time tomorrow.”
“She’s right. Whatever is going to happen will happen then. Look I want to do this alone. There is no need to risk your lives when I go to fight Tsach.” Glyph told them.
“I’m sorry, Glyph. I can’t do that.” Amos replied.
“What do you mean? I brought you here to protect Ishea, and to keep her away from this.”
“I swore an oath to protect this world. I cannot turn my back and let you face Tsach alone.” Amos replied.
“And neither can I, Glyph.” Ishea’s voice sounded off behind him.
Glyph turned around to see Ishea standing there as if she had been there the whole time. “Dammit Ishea, I don’t want you involved in this.”
“Then you will have to shackle me, for as long as I can do magic I will fight, even if it means certain death.” Ishea replied coldly.
“Which means you will only have an hour to defeat Tsach, because after that only Ishea will be left here to take up that responsibility.” Amos commented, as if he knew it would get under Glyph’s skin.
“We all go. If you try to go on your own we will follow.” Ishea stated.
“And what if I don’t defeat him in an hour? What then?” Glyph asked her pointedly.
“Then I will continue the fight, if not to defeat Tsach, then to protect your bodies from falling under the Arch-Demon’s control.” Ishea told him.
Glyph hadn’t thought that far ahead. She was right, if he did not destroy Tsach within that hour, their bodies would be left wherever they were when his hour ended. Tsach would undoubtedly kill them, or imprison them somehow; either way it wouldn’t be good. This was getting more and more complicated. “You let me worry about that. Albast is already working on a way to change the parameters of the curse to increase my time here. He’s done it before, he will just have to do it again.”
Several alarmed shouts cut them off. They were coming from the front of the line; Glyph drew his sword and raced forward with Amos, Zarish and Ishea on his heels. Toban met them at the front of the line and quickly shouted “There!” and pointed off in the distance. Glyph could see some commotion several hundred yards in front of them, but could not tell what it was.
“Imps!” Amos shouted.
Glyph stole a quick glance at him and could tell by the dull milky color of Amos’s eyes that he was using his long-distance sight.
“They’re too far out of range now, we’d never be able to catch them.” Amos added quickly.
Glyph ignored this last comment and immediately threw his arm outward and closed his fist. There were three distinct pops in the distance, and Glyph instantly teleported there. He appeared some three hundred yards away, and quickly glanced about as the others popped in nearby and came trotting over.
“Holy shit, dude!” Amos exclaimed. There was nothing but blood and entrails everywhere, as each of the Imps had exploded from the inside out.
“I think that was all of them. I’d rather Tsach not know we were coming.” Glyph said.
“I hate to tell you this, but he already knows.” Amos told him as he surveyed the damage Glyph had done to those creatures.
“Care to elaborate?” Glyph asked him, raising one eyebrow.
Amos just shook his head no, as his jaws clamped tightly shut.
“I have never seen magic like that before.” Zarish said as she too pushed small pieces of gore around the ground with her foot.
Ishea just stared about with her mouth agape.
“Our time’s almost up here, Glyph. Do you have a plan or what?” Amos asked.
Glyph looked at Ishea. “As soon as you get to the base of the mountains, I want you to take us to your cabin. I don’t want you on the main road, in case Tsach gets any ideas about coming out to greet you before we arrive. From there I will get us inside the Keep, then we find Tsach and kill him.”
“That’s some plan you have there, did you think that up by yourself?” Amos asked snidely.
“Can it, Amos. I’m sorry if it’s not detail-oriented enough for you. I’ve never tried to kill an Arch-Demon before, so pardon me if it sounds a little vague.” Glyph shot back at him.
“A little?” Amos replied and let out a laugh.
“Zarish, I need that information before midnight.” Glyph said to the female demon.
“Of course.” She replied.
“Good, then it’s settled.” Glyph said and forced a smile.
“I will do as you ask, but please, be careful.” Ishea said. The worry was plainly evident on her face.
The wagons had almost caught up to them now, and after Toban looked over the scene of the Imps’ explosion, he requested that Zarish return to her wagon before the curse activated. Apparently Zarish reverted to her demon form when she returned to Earth, and hoisting a twelve-hundred pound demon into a wagon is no light matter. After that, Glyph said his goodbyes and watched as the ethereal winds swept down from the distant mountains to claim him. The light that engulfed him seemed to hum loudly before all sound vanished and he felt the cold grip of space.