When they reappeared, all hell broke loose. The group was inside Akthule’s tent, and the demon began spraying lightning in all directions as he rolled from his oversized bed onto his feet. Amos and Zarish responded in kind, as Glyph immediately called forth his shield, enlarging it in hopes of keeping everyone safe. The tent immediately caught fire and began to collapse, as the Hexzu and soldiers scattered from the tent in all directions to secure a perimeter. Glyph upended a slab of bedrock beneath the demon so quickly and forcefully that Akthule was ejected backwards through the burning tent as the structure fell to the ground, covering them. Glyph flicked his sword upward and split the tarp above them, allowing Amos and him to emerge unscathed into the crisp night air. He glanced about for Zarish but she was nowhere to be found.
Climbing the upturned slab of ground, Glyph leapt from the top and drove the King’s sword into the back of Akthule’s thigh as the Demon scrambled to escape the onslaught. Glyph slid down the demon’s leg, filleting it as he went. Akthule howled, and quickly swatted Glyph with his tree-trunk sized tail, sending him shoulder-first into the dirt behind the demon. Glyph managed to roll out of the way as Akthule spun and charred the spot where he had just been with a continuous jet of fire that looked like a flame-thrower on steroids. By the time Glyph got back to his feet, his dislocated shoulder had reset and healed itself. Luckily he had managed to hold onto the sword and maneuvered it in time to catch the next round of lightning Akthule threw at him. By now the demon lord was panting heavily, and had erected a shield of his own in order to heal the wound to his leg.
With a thought, Glyph ripped the shield from the demon and Amos blasted him in the chest with lightning. Akthule screamed again and twisted to one side to avoid another hit. With one arm he blasted Amos with magical force that sent the wizard tumbling through the air into the surrounding darkness. Glyph and Akthule squared off against each other, moving slowly in a circular motion as fighting began to erupt all around them.
“I see you have changed your tactics, Great One.” Akthule panted as he kept his eyes glued to Glyph.
“Just repaying the favor.” Glyph replied. “I thought you’d put up more of a fight, Akthule. It looks as though you’re in a bit of pain.”
Akthule dipped suddenly and blasted Glyph with another wave of force. The wave hit Glyph’s burning blue blade and split around him. “You’ll have to do better than that.” Glyph commented.
“Perhaps.” Akthule said and quickly vanished from sight.
Glyph looked about frantically. “Mother fucker, you ain’t getting away that easy.” Glyph said as he concentrated on Akthule once again. A split second later he appeared in front of the demon lord, who was trying to heal himself some distance away beneath the trees.
Blasting the demon flat with a wind so strong several of the surrounding trees cracked and splintered, Glyph made his way closer. He held the demon in place with sheer force of mind, as the wind abated. “It’s not nice to leave the party early, Akthule.”
The demon lord struggled violently as he tried to free himself from Glyph’s invisible grasp. He grunted and gasped repeatedly, then scratched and clawed at the dirt. “Release me!” Akthule growled menacingly.
“That’s ‘release me master’.” Glyph replied, as he stalked around the demon’s enormous frame. “Didn’t your mother teach you any manners?”
Akthule’s eyes blazed red at Glyph’s comments. “Tsach will tear you limb from limb and feast upon your bones!” He roared.
“Hmm, well, Tsach isn’t here, is he?” Glyph asked, and as an afterthought momentarily electrified the force field that pinned Akthule to the dirt. The demon lord’s body arched and writhed for several seconds. His red skin steamed in the cool night air, and he began to breathe erratically.
“Glyph! We need to finish it and get out of here!” Amos’s voice sounded off in his mind, but Glyph ignored it. With a wave of his hand Glyph released Akthule. “Get up you pathetic piece of shit!” Glyph yelled as his eyes began to blaze red as well. “Fight me Akthule! Show me your superior skill!” He shouted. His voice, now amplified, spread outward across the demon camp.
Akthule’s eyes grew wide as he scurried away from Glyph on his back. Turning, Glyph blasted an invisible Imp that tried to sneak up from behind, blowing tiny pieces of the creature so high into the air that they rained down over a half mile away. With a lurch, Akthule tried once more to strike Glyph down, but the force of his attack was reversed upon him twofold, charring the demon’s skin on his right arm until pieces floated away as ash. The Demon Lord howled as he clutched at the remains of his arm.
“Something wrong, Akthule?” Glyph bellowed. The demon stumbled back and forth as he struggled to remain on his feet. Glyph could see the fear in Akthule as he looked for an escape. Then the demon blurred and vanished, but reappeared in the same place, as Glyph watched and laughed. Akthule was panic-stricken as Glyph systematically turned the demon’s spells against himself.
In a last ditch effort, the demon lord gathered his remaining bit of strength to launch a final attack against Glyph, but before he could do so a large spear head protruded from Akthule’s chest. The enormous demon dropped to its knees revealing Zarish, who placed her foot against Akthule’s back and wrenched the spear back out, simultaneously pushing the Demon Lord onto his face against the rocky ground. Black blood and bubbles poured from Akthule’s back and mouth as he breathed his last.
“No! I wasn’t finished!” Glyph yelled brandishing the King’s sword at her, as she too began to back away slowly.
“The demons are aware of our presence, Glyph. They have mounted a counter-attack.” Zarish explained calmly.
Glyph started to advance on her, when Amos appeared in between them. “Glyph! Get a hold of yourself. We have to get out of here now!” The former detective demanded. Another invisible Imp blew open with an exaggerated pop noise off to the left about fifty feet. Amos glanced at it nervously. “Glyph, people are dying. We have to go!”
Suddenly Glyph stopped and his eyes reverted to normal. He looked about quickly, trying to gauge what had just happened and where he was. “Right, of course.” Glyph said then quickly closed his eyes. When he opened them again they were standing in the back yard of the mansion that had served as their headquarters for the last few days. Zarish and Amos were still standing in the same position in front of him. Then two Hexzu landed a short distance away. The night air was pierced by a soldier’s scream. “Medic!” It came from the trees some distance away from the main house, and Glyph, Amos, and Zarish turned and ran that way. As they came round the corner of the estate Zarish transformed into the human female figure and the three of them bolted off into the trees.
“Medic!” The scream sounded off once more. By now flares were being struck everywhere, and light was popping up all throughout the immediate area. Glyph could see the soldier about twenty feet away and blinked there instantly. It was Jon Haddix who had yelled, but the man who was injured was King Rokka and he wasn’t breathing. Dropping to his knees, Glyph placed his hands to the King’s chest and thought ‘live’. With a quick burst of light the man began to breathe again. A second later, the rest of his injuries had been healed. Rokka reached weakly toward Glyph and whispered, “I hate Imps.” Then he chuckled softly and tried to stand. Glyph helped him up and looked him over.
“Are you okay?” Glyph asked him.
“Yes, yes, I am fine.” He said as he patted himself down “There are others.” Rokka said and pointed shakily further into the dark forest.
“Stay here, I’ll go check it out.” Amos said to Glyph and Zarish and then he vanished.
“How?” Rokka said, still feeling a bit week in the knees as Haddix steadied him. “How did we get back here?” The King questioned.
“I teleported us all back.” Glyph answered. Then he caught Zarish’s stare. “What?” he demanded.
Zarish shrugged, but her eyes told Glyph that something had happened. “Help him back to the house.” Glyph finally said. “I’m going to help round up the others.” Zarish and Captain Haddix nodded. Glyph started off through the woods when the realization hit him. He had just teleported everyone back, whether he could see them or not, no matter how far away from him they had been at the time. He had just thought it, and it had happened. After a few steps he stopped, and closed his eyes again. This time everyone reappeared back at the mansion positioned in their original circle, with a few strangled cries of surprise.
“Is anyone injured?” Glyph asked the group, and several, “here” shouts went up. Amos was there and he too just stared at Glyph. Glyph ignored him, and closing his eyes again, healed everyone of their injuries at the same time. Opening his eyes, Glyph smiled. Amos’s jaw had dropped open, and Zarish was still checking over a Torlean soldier who was bleeding to death only a moment before. Within a few minutes everyone was up and headed toward the Mess tent. Lobrein and Albast had appeared and were talking with Amos. Zarish stood next to Glyph smiling broadly.
“What’s with the smile, Zarish? Something amusing?” Glyph asked as he watched the others moving into the large tent.
“You will make a fine god.” The female demon quipped.
“Don’t tell me you’re buying into that nonsense too?” Glyph asked.
“I am no expert.” Zarish said scratching her dirty blonde hair. “But, mass teleportation? Instantaneous group healing? What would you call it?”
Glyph opened his mouth to speak, but found he didn’t have an answer. Zarish may have been on to something. No one else could do those things, and he had, without even breaking a sweat. “I…I don’t know what to call it.”
Zarish turned and placed her hand on his shoulder then stared him full in the face. “God.” She said, and then winked. Her smile came back and she turned toward the tent.
“Okay, I am not a god. Seriously.” Glyph told her as they both started walking back.
“Maybe you are correct. Demi-god might serve you better.” Zarish stated.
“Cut it out.” Glyph said and Zarish chuckled softly. They were the last of the raiding party to enter, and as Glyph stepped in, thunderous applause erupted.
Glyph waved a bit and then quickly found a seat. What he had done, any of them would have done in his place, and he hated being singled out for it all the time. Zarish had plopped down beside him, and he was soon surrounded by the other soldiers and Hexzu, each of them thanking him for saving their lives or congratulating him for killing Akthule. Even Prianna had joined them, standing near the back, arm-in-arm with Captain Haddix. Glyph tried to give Zarish the credit for killing Akthule, but no one would hear of it, not even Zarish.
“I only helped speed up the process.” Zarish claimed as everyone erupted in laughter. Neither she nor Amos said anything about the fact that he was only a few scant seconds away from losing control and killing both of them as well.
Finally Glyph stood to say a few words when he realized no one was going away. “We went and did what we had to do. All of you performed admirably, and if I could give you all medals I would. Unfortunately this isn’t over, not by a long shot. Earlier this evening, Akthule had pulled his forces back from the battlefield. I can tell you it wasn’t because he was worried about defeat, but because he was awaiting reinforcements. We’ve bought ourselves a little more time, that’s all. I expect there will be some sort of retaliation for our actions tonight. It’s just a matter of when and where.” Glyph told them, and could tell by their crestfallen faces that it probably wasn’t the best thing to say, even if it was the truth. “Do not despair my friends, for we are still alive, and as long as we are alive there is hope.” That appeared to help a bit, and the group slowly started to disperse.
When most of the stragglers had gone, Albast, Lobrein and Amos approached and sat down. “How are you feeling Glyph?” Lobrein asked him.
“Okay, what is it now? Anytime I get asked that it’s because I did something that freaked everyone out, so just tell me.” Glyph told them.
“Face it, Glyph. You just pulled off some crazy shit back there. Don’t try to deny it.” Amos blurted out.
“What? You’re upset because we all made it back alive?” Glyph snapped back.
“Some of us didn’t, Glyph. In case you hadn’t noticed, Rokka was dead as a doornail when we got to him, and that Torlean soldier was only a few seconds away.” Amos said.
“Big deal, paramedics do it all the time.” Glyph said dryly, trying to downplay what he had done.
“Not like that, they don’t!” Amos shouted. Lobrein held up her hand and Amos quickly quieted down, regaining his composure.
“I understand there were a few tense moments after Zarish killed Akthule.” Lobrein stated.
“Look, I got a little carried away was all. Nothing happened.” Glyph said.
“But it could have. Remember, Glyph, all the power in the universe will not help you if you are unable to control your actions.” Lobrein continued calmly.
“I think Zarish would have gone the way of those exploding Imps if I hadn’t gotten there when I did.” Amos said much more subdued.
Glyph just shot him a look. “I’m doing my best, alright?”
“Of course Glyph, but you must understand our concern.” Albast interjected.
“Okay, okay, I’ll try harder.” Glyph conceded.
“We would not bring it up if it were not important.” Lobrein said, and then promptly changed the subject. “I have informed everyone of the demons who now reside to the southeast of us. They have been told to avoid the area at all cost. We do not want any unfortunate accidents to take place.”
Glyph nodded. That was good anyway. “We need to find a way to allow them to fight without being killed by our people.” He stated.
“Prianna is working on a way that they could be identified as friendly.” Lobrein said and glanced around for the sorceress who was nowhere to be found. “As I understand it she has regained the use of her powers.” She raised one eyebrow and shot Glyph a look, then continued. “I will let you know of her progress.”
“Speaking of progress, I am ready to alter your curse, Glyph. Everything is in order and I can start whenever you are ready.” Albast informed him.
Glyph perked up. “Fantastic! I think we should do that as soon as possible then.”
As he stood up from the table alarms began to sound all over the camp.
“Shit!” Glyph cursed.
“That didn’t take long.” Amos commented as they all rushed out of the tent.
“Fan out!” Glyph shouted as he ran toward the wood line with Zarish. Flashes of light lit up the sky in the distance. Glyph slowed to a stop under the trees and grabbed hold of Zarish. “This way.” He said, and the pair vanished, reappearing behind several demons creeping slowly through the darkness. Zarish popped several balls of light high into the air to signal the others, but by the time she had turned her attention back to the enemy, Glyph was slicing the head off the last one and the other three lay motionless in expanding pools of their own blood.
As it turned out they had been the advance wave, as a small army of Imps came pouring in after them. No sooner would Glyph feel their presence than they would blow open from the inside out, whether they had been invisible or not. Glyph soon realized that their invisibility was no longer an issue, as he could feel their presence long before they were anywhere near him. He wasn’t sure exactly how he was making them explode, only that he had wanted it to happen, and soon he found his fear was not of the Imps or demons, but that he might accidentally blow up the wrong person by mistake.
The enemy attack had been ordered hastily, as if they had been slowly moving forces to the east in order to attack at first light, but had been pushed to charge the camp after news of Akthule’s death had reached them. No matter the reason why, their actions told Glyph that someone was still in charge, at least temporarily. Glyph had to reign in his power and attempted more control after he exploded a herd of mule deer that had been spooked by the sudden eruption of fighting. He also had to watch his sword closely, as he swept its annihilating beam through a bunch of ghouls, and inadvertently sliced through several old growth trees, toppling them onto a group of American soldiers. It was an ugly battle that lasted nearly an hour. The enemy soon turned and fled, and Glyph and Amos took to hunting down the stragglers.
Just as they were about to turn back, a group of sub-demons leapt over a small embankment and assailed them with fireballs. Glyph threw his shield up around Amos as the wizard quickly extinguished his burning tunic and healed the resulting burns.
“What was that you were saying about it being over?” Amos said to him as he pulled his Mac 10 off his shoulder and started burping rounds off in the enemies’ general direction.
“Okay, maybe that call was a bit premature.” Glyph replied. “Are you ready?”
“As I’ll ever be.” Amos grunted, and quickly encased the nearest demon’s feet in stone.
Glyph blasted several others with water that jetted from his palm like a cannon. Their screams were horrific as their flesh melted and ran down their bodies, exposing bone and pitted cartilage. Ripping the energy shield from the last two, Glyph allowed Amos to mow them down, riddling their faces and torsos with hundreds of bullets.
“Doesn’t that thing run out of ammo?” Glyph asked him.
“Not when you use magic bullets. See?” Amos said and popped the magazine out of the submachine gun and showed it to Glyph. “Full to the top. It’s a trick Albast taught me. As soon as the slug stops moving, it and its casing return to the bottom of the clip as an unfired bullet. I call it ‘ammo clip of replenishment’.”
“Nice.” Glyph said and glanced about. “Alright, that has to be the last of them. We’d better get back and help the others clean up the wounded.”
Amos pointed the way and the two started back. Glyph thought of teleporting, but decided they could help anyone who was injured along the way. They hadn’t gone a half mile before they came upon a pile of dead American soldiers. Bodies were ripped and shredded, others were scorched black and crispy. There were still a few survivors in the group though they too were in dire straits. Amos quickly set to work, but Glyph just closed his eyes and thought of healing. When he opened his eyes many of the men began to stir, and over half of them got to their feet, feeling their non-existent wounds the way every one did when they found themselves instantly healed. Glyph had thought about trying to bring the dead back to life, but he wasn’t quite sure how to do it, and something just felt wrong about the whole resurrection thing. Not to mention Amos was already freaking out that Glyph had just healed everyone. The former detective might have another coronary if Glyph were to start raising the dead.
The group of soldiers had just started to walk back toward the encampment, when one of the men beside Glyph screamed and was hoisted into the air by an unseen force. Glyph’s sword blazed cobalt blue as he drew it and drove it into the belly of an invisible Imp just a few feet away. Glyph held the sword outstretched as the Imp took shape, and stared at Glyph as bright green blood pumped out from around the blade. The other soldiers had run for cover as Glyph pulled the blade free and pointed it at the creature, who slowly sagged to its knees and toppled forward. Unfortunately it was too late for the soldier it had attacked, as his neck was grotesquely twisted.
“Glyph!” Amos shouted, and Glyph turned his head to look at him.
Amos stood about twenty feet away staring at him. Glyph was about to say something smart, when Amos’s face suddenly blanched.
“No!” Amos shouted, but it was too late. Glyph had heard the faint poof sound in front of him, and as Amos started to point, Glyph snapped his head back around in time to see Albast leaping onto his outstretched sword. The ancient wizard’s momentum carried him down to the hilt, where his face was just a few feet from Glyph’s.
“You will succeed–.” Albast gasped out with his last breath.
Glyph instinctively tried to snatch the sword away, but only succeeded in slicing through Albast’s rib cage and most of his abdomen. The ancient wizard plopped to the ground at Glyph’s feet. Blood ran from his eviscerated body, as part of Albast slumped over the top of the dead Imp’s head and torso.
“Nooooooo!” Glyph heard Amos’s cry from behind him, as he stared in horror at Albast’s body.
“But I—. How—. I didn’t—.” Glyph stammered as Amos came rushing in sliding up next to Albast’s fallen frame.
Amos began to heal the wound, but no sooner had he started, then Albast’s body began to loose cohesion, and a few seconds later, a fierce wind blew at them from out of nowhere, and then he vanished completely. The night engulfed them as Amos’s light winked out, and Glyph quenched the flow of energy to his sword. In the ensuing silence all Glyph could hear was Amos sobbing on his knees in front of him.