Glyph’s eyes popped open instantly, and the face he gazed into was more familiar than he would like to admit. “Bogg!” Glyph yelled as he started to sit up.
“Sorry it took us so long.” Amos said to him.
“We’ve been a bit busy.” Albast spoke from behind him.
Glyph noted Amos’s painted face; black scorch marks crisscrossed his black military jumpsuit. Albast was covered in what looked like sheetrock dust, and was wearing a black Japanese kimono, complete with facemask. “What…” Glyph said glancing around at the inside of Albast’s cabin. “…What the hell is going on here?” Glyph questioned.
“The war happened, Glyph.” Amos replied.
“Yeah.” Glyph said, and then paused a moment rubbing his head. “I mean I know. I’ve been trying to get here for three months.” He continued, as he slid his stiff legs from the small cot onto the floor.
“That would be about right.” Albast stated. “You saw it in the tapestry, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, Tsach and his hordes coming through in the middle of some city, and Amos was there.” Glyph explained.
“Oh yeah, that was some night as I recall.” Amos added.
“So what’s been happening? I’ve been trying to find a way here since day one without much success. I just got the information from Verto’s journal on how to create a gate here, and…and how did I get here?”
“I altered the curse again to bring you back.” Albast said. “We can no longer hold the line without support, and you’re it, I’m afraid.”
“How long do I have?” Glyph questioned.
“The curse is all or nothing. I reversed the time parameters, which reset to your original curse. You should have twenty-three hours here, and one on M’atra.” Albast informed him.
“That scene you saw on the Living Tapestry? The city was Phoenix, Arizona.” Amos interjected. “Tsach and his hordes came through in force. They destroyed half the city in one night. It took me the better part of a week just to make it out alive.”
“So they have Phoenix. That’s not so bad.” Glyph said.
Amos and Albast exchanged looks. “No Glyph, I hate to tell you, but it’s a lot worse than that. The demons didn’t stop there.” Amos replied.
“So how bad is it?” Glyph asked getting that slow sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach.
Albast motioned toward the door of the bedroom. “Let’s go into the dining room and we can discuss this while I fix us something to eat.”
Glyph could hardly refuse, he felt famished. Albast extended a hand and helped pull Glyph into a standing position. He felt stiff and sore all over, but with Albast’s help managed to walk out into the hall and then to the great room. Glyph took a seat at the table beside Amos, while Albast busied himself in the small kitchen a few feet away.
“Tsach took the city in a night. One night! It was unlike anything I had ever seen before. They’re not here to take over, they’re here to destroy the Earth.” Amos said, becoming quite animated.
“This is not the type of invasion you may be used to, Glyph. Tsach is coming through en masse. He is laying waste to the countryside, and not just here but in Europe and Asia as well. I’m afraid he is trying to flush you out, and hopes that by destroying your home world he will attract your attention.” Albast stated as he poured some water into a teakettle and placed it on the stove.
“The demons are swarming like bees.” Amos said leaning closer to Glyph. “They’re as far East as the Mississippi and West to the Rockies. We suspect they occupy much of California as well. Their armies stretch through the Great Plains as far north as Wyoming, and are spreading like fire into Idaho and Iowa.” Amos informed him.
Glyph about choked. “What? That fast? How is that even possible?” Glyph heard himself screeching, even as the thought of such a thing tried to scratch its way into his conscious mind.
“There are millions of them, Glyph; pouring through that blasted portal like a sieve. Grull as far as the eye can see, and demons by the thousands. Every manner of strange beast, things I couldn’t even begin to describe. Dude, it’s unholy.” Amos said as his eyes bulged out a little.
Glyph could hear the desperation in Amos’s voice, and the hairs on the back of his neck began to stand up. He looked at Albast, who nodded gravely.
“As near as I can gather, the hordes are coming through the gate from a dimension whose time moves faster than ours here. They are appearing much quicker than I could have imagined.” Albast said.
“What about the military?” Glyph asked.
Amos stared Glyph in the eye and shook his head no.
“Nukes?” Glyph questioned.
“For six weeks, the military threw every type of munition in our arsenal at them. When Oklahoma City fell, the President ordered multiple nuclear strikes.” Amos said, his voice cracking slightly. Then the expression on his face changed to anger. “I don’t even know how they knew it was coming. The demons, they have these … machines. Giant wooden carts on wheels, with mounted crystals of all shapes and sizes. They create a shield, like what we can do, but massive in size. They survived, Glyph. We threw our worst and those fuckers survived!”
Albast shot Amos a look while he stirred some batter in a bowl, and then turned his attention back to Glyph. “This is a technology-rich world. Tsach knew this, and came prepared. The crystals can also put out some kind of dampening field that can disrupt communications as well. But this is perhaps the most disturbing.” He said and nodded toward Amos, who stood and pulled an object from a nearby shelf. It was three feet long and wrapped in a towel.
Placing it on the table, Amos flipped back the towel to reveal what resembled an automatic rifle. “Check it.” Amos said, as Glyph reached over and began to examine the weapon. “I took this from a Grull I killed outside of Little Rock a few weeks ago.”
It had the shape of an AK47, but on a larger scale. The gun was all metal, and appeared to have been stamped from a mold. “Is this some sort of toy?” He asked, unsure of what he was seeing.
“I only wish.” Amos sneered. He popped a clip out of the gun, which appeared to be the only moving part on it. “Take a look.” He said and held up the clip so Glyph could see the ammo, only it wasn’t.
“What the hell?” Glyph said as he examined it closer.
“They’re just cylindrical projectiles. They’re solid, no gun powder. The gun has no firing pin; the whole damn thing runs on this.” Amos said as he flipped open a door on what would have been the stock. Inside was a small red crystal with several focusing lenses set in front of it pointing toward the barrel. “It works,” he said flipping the door back closed, and pushing the clip up inside of it, “exactly the same.” Leveling the weapon at the front door of the cabin he pressed a pressure plate where the trigger would have been. It sounded like a small missile, and blew a hole through the door three to four inches around.
“Amos, please! This is my house. I think Glyph gets the point.” Albast scolded.
“The Grull have these?”
“A lot of them do. They make up some sort of elite trained killers amongst the Grull.” Amos replied. “Tsach had the weapon reverse-engineered from the AK47 that jammed on me during that last battle before we went through the portal to M’atra; well, at least the best they could. Apparently the demon alchemists couldn’t reproduce gunpowder, or maybe this was just more efficient for them.”
Glyph just sat there stunned. He was truly at a loss for words. Every time he thought he might ask a question, the ramifications of something else Amos and Albast had been telling him would sink in and splinter his thoughts off in a different direction.
Albast seemed to understand, and began to serve up three plates heaping with pancakes. “Here, eat these. It will help you feel better. Your body has been in stasis for several years, and it needs to adjust to being active again.” Glyph grabbed the syrup as Amos finished with it, poured some on, and began to eat. They devoured their food in silence. Glyph was thankful for the repose, as he just didn’t know what to say. He could feel the grip of despair, as he tried to wrap his mind around the whole situation.
When Glyph had finished his pancakes, he casually pushed his chair back from the table. Reaching outward slightly with his right hand, Glyph plucked a cigarette from the air. The end lit as he put it to his mouth and inhaled deeply.
“That fucking bastard has gone too far. All of this, for me. That evil S.O.B. attacked Earth, to get to me.” Glyph spoke icily. “That really pisses me off.” Glyph took another drag; it was the first cigarette he had smoked for nearly two years. “So what’s our plan?” he asked them.
“That is a good question.” Albast replied. “Amos and I have them stalled out on the banks of the Mississippi River. For the moment they won’t cross, but that will soon change. Tsach has split his army into two groups, one headed east, and the other to the west. The two of us alone can no longer cover enough ground to be effective. What’s left of our military has pulled back into the Appalachian Mountains as a defensive strategy, but there aren’t enough of them to repel a full assault by the demons.”
“Can’t they coordinate something? I mean if the soldiers of M’atra can fight demons, surely our guys can do better.” Glyph commented.
“They can’t coordinate anything. Tsach has managed to block or destroy our communication networks with those damn crystals. Satellites are no longer operable. There’s no cell phones, GPS, or internet. The U.S. is essentially blind, with no clear way of getting messages to or from the front lines. It’s even worse than it sounds. Only local industry is still operational, major cities are slipping into mass chaos as people are running out of food, and killing and looting are on the rise everywhere up and down the east coast. Gas and oil shipments have stopped, and what we have left seems to have been allocated for military and food shipments. At this rate we will have destroyed ourselves before Tsach even gets here.” Amos explained.
Glyph felt ill now. “What do you want me to do?” He asked soberly.
“Besides the obvious, you mean?” Amos questioned.
Glyph realized what he meant. It was his job to take Tsach out, it was his destiny and the reason he was here. Shaking his head, Glyph extinguished his smoke. “We have to get the others here right away, and I mean everybody. How soon can we get a portal up and operational?” he asked Albast.
“What are you thinking, Glyph?” Albast replied.
“We need help, and there are five more sorcerers on M’atra, along with our combined armies. We have to bring them here to help fight, if nothing else it may buy us enough time to reach Tsach and end this before it gets any worse.” Glyph said.
“There isn’t enough time to create a new portal. However, there is one I started working on several hundred years ago in the mountains of Virginia. I had to abandon my work on it though when it was discovered. Up until recently it was considered an oddity of nature and had become a tourist attraction.” Albast sighed. “In order for it to work there would need to be a portal in place on M’atra as well, otherwise travel could only be one way.”
“I’ll handle that, can you get the portal here running?” Glyph asked.
“I believe so, but you must understand. Tsach is on his way east and the magical protections we have set up on the Mississippi will only slow him down for a few more days, a week at best.” Albast said.
“Then you’ll have to move fast. How soon can you get there?”
“By this evening, and I will need Amos’s help.”
“So what are you going to do, while we do that?” Amos asked pointedly.
“I’m going to see the President. We’re all going to have to work together to pull this off, and I think he might be the only one who can help us here.” Glyph stated.
Albast nodded and walked over to an old chest. Shuffling through some old yellowed papers he finally found what he was looking for. He pulled out an old leather bound folder. “Here it is.” He said and handed it to Glyph.
“What’s this?” Glyph questioned as he took the folder from Albast and started to open it.
“It’s a letter from an old friend of mine. Hopefully it will help get you to where you need to go.” Albast told him.
Glyph began to read the old yellowed parchment inside. it was dated April 7th eighteen sixty-five.
This letter shall give the bearer exclusive audience with the President of the United States of America at any time or date, current or future, at the sole discretion of the bearer. This letter serves as requested payment for services performed during our Great Civil War, without whom the battle to stave the succession of the South from the Union would not have been successful.
Signed, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America
“You gotta be shitting me!” Glyph exclaimed.
“Let me see that!” Amos called out as he pulled the letter from Glyph’s hand. “Son of a bitch.” He said and whistled a moment later.
“Do you really think this will work?” Glyph asked.
“Well, it got me in to see Wilson, and Roosevelt; Franklin, not Teddy. Besides, it’s only been sixty-eight years.” Albast replied. “Look, it’s worth a try. The White House is locked up tighter than fort Knox. If it doesn’t work, just be creative. You are the Great One after all.”
Glyph just stared at the old wizard with his mouth half open, then reached over and snatched the letter back from Amos. Glyph slid the letter back inside the thin leather-bound document protector, and tucked it into his tunic.
“Wait a minute, is that thing for real? That’s a real letter from Abraham Lincoln to you?” Amos decried.
“I will be happy to explain it all to you, Amos, on our way to Virginia. I can understand your passion for history.”
Glyph stood from his chair, “So what’s the fastest way to get there?” He asked.
“Shifting. There’s no point in doing it any other way now.” Albast answered.
“I don’t like it, I only do it if I have to. Ever since you almost died from holding the form of that Hexzu for too long, I’ve been a bit leery of shapeshifting.” Amos said to Glyph, as Albast chuckled and shook his head. It felt weird listening to Amos talk about doing magic. His power and knowledge had obviously increased greatly since Glyph had last seen him, as Drayden said it would.
“Let me collect a few things and I’ll meet you both outside.” Albast said, and began to rummage around in the back corner of the cabin’s great room. Glyph and Amos walked toward the door of the cabin and stepped outside onto the porch.
“I haven’t had any luck locating the Drayden prophecies.” Glyph told Amos as they walked around the front of the cabin.
“Don’t bother.” Amos replied. “They were never written down. Drayden stored them in his own mind. The prophecies Drayden saw were never about him, or for him. They were about his replacement, Glyph. I am the Drayden prophecies. I finally figured it out a few months before the invasion, but sadly I’ve had a hard time accessing any specifics. Once the war started I gave up trying. I figured what’s going to happen is going to happen, and maybe I don’t want to know about it.”
“So you don’t have anything to go on?” Glyph asked hopefully.
“The only thing I know for sure is that we meet with Tsach. I’m not sure why, but we meet with him about something.” Amos said.
“Alright. Well, keep working on it. we’ll need every advantage we can get, even if it means something unpleasant.” Glyph decided.
“I’ll try, man, but it ain’t easy to do.”
As they reached the door to the inner sanctum, Albast came shuffling toward them carrying a large bag. “Here, take this.” He said, and handed Glyph a cylindrical rod about the size of a pen.
“It’s a long distance teleporter. Break it in half and concentrate on where you want to go, and it will take you there.” Glyph looked puzzled as he placed the object into his pocket. Albast winked at him.
“When you’re all alone on an alien world, it only makes sense to have an escape route. Luckily, I’ve never had to use it.” Glyph nodded his understanding.
“It was very difficult to make. I only have one and it will only work once, so make it count.” The three of them walked through the door into the rough-hewn rock corridor, and exited out onto the side of the mountain.
“Oh, and one more thing, be aware that not all of the beings at Tsach’s disposal are hindered by our magical protections. Nowhere is safe.”
“Understood.” Glyph replied. Taking a deep breath, Glyph closed his eyes and opened them a moment later as a Hexzu. Albast had just finished changing into a giant bird-like creature. “Good luck, gentlemen.” Glyph said.
“You too.” Amos replied, as the enormous bird took flight, snatching Amos in its enormous claws as it went.
Glyph took a last look around then shot up into the evening sky and headed south toward Washington. With the wind at his back, Glyph made good time. The cities looked dim, and the smell of smoke hung heavily in the air.
When he arrived in D.C., Glyph was amazed. The whole city had been cordoned off. Large military transports served as gates on major throughways, and most other streets had been blocked or were simply impassable due to the number of abandoned cars. He had been half worried that he might be picked up on radar, and be forced to fight his way in, but the skies were dark, without a plane in sight.
Touching down a few blocks from the White House, Glyph reverted to his normal appearance and started to walk. There was no one about, save for the occasional military vehicle that would pass by. Soldiers with guns patrolled the area, and Glyph had transformed into shadow several times to avoid detection. Obviously some form of martial law had been enacted, and the last thing he wanted to deal with was some trigger-happy soldier taking shots at him. It was as a shadow that Glyph approached the Mall, which was lined with tanks and large howitzers. Concertina wire lined the perimeters from the Capitol Building to the White House, and soldiers in sandbagged machinegun nests sat vigilant. Glyph wasn’t even sure how to go about gaining entrance to what had now been transformed into a military compound, and was having serious doubts as to whether Albast’s letter would get him anywhere.
He finally decided to give it a try, when he came upon what looked to be a manned gate where several large trucks had just departed. ‘Here goes nothing.’ He thought and took on his solid form. Glyph had only taken a few steps onto the street before a soldier yelled, “Freeze! Hands in the air!” He could feel the intent of several men as they trained their weapons on his position, and Glyph obeyed, not wanting a confrontation.
“It’s after curfew, return the way you came!” One of them shouted. “We have no food!”
“I’m here to see the President.” Glyph replied calmly. When there was no reply, Glyph added “I have important information regarding the invasion.” Glyph began to slowly move closer toward the gate.
“Stop! The next step you take will be your last!” The soldier called out, as a giant spotlight spun on Glyph’s position, blinding him.
Glyph stopped. ‘There has got to be a better way’ he thought, but it was too late now. Guards in full body armor rushed him from every angle.
“On the ground! Now!” One man ordered with a wave of his M-16 assault rifle.
Glyph had had enough, what little patience he had vanishing at the sight of several gun barrels pointed at his head. “Freeze!” Glyph shouted out, and immediately everyone within the sound of his amplified voice became motionless. “That’s better.” Having the presence of mind to realize that there were at least a dozen or so snipers trained on him, he decided to play it cool. Glyph glanced at the soldiers that surrounded him. “Obey.” He said quietly, so only they would hear, while everyone else remained frozen in place. “You.” Glyph said and pointed to the man directly in front of him. “Frisk me, you will find nothing.” The man slung his rifle on his shoulder and followed Glyph’s commands, patting him down, and quite deliberately passing over his sword. “Good. Now, lower your weapons, and escort me through the gate.”
The soldiers did as they were told, and led him to the gate. There, Glyph released his hold on the gate keeper and instructed him to open it, which he did. Once inside, Glyph returned the soldiers to their normal patrol, and had two men with the highest rank escort him to the white house. Huge canvas tents had been erected everywhere along the length of the Mall, and Glyph noted most of the electricity was run from large generators. As they approached the Presidential residence, Glyph could see more guards and instructed his escorts what to say.
“Halt. State your business.” The guard said as they came toward the entrance.
“V.I.P. to see the President.” Glyph’s escort replied.
“I wasn’t informed of this.” The guard said, eyeing Glyph up suspiciously.
Glyph hadn’t thought to change clothes, and his tunic and pants stuck out like a sore thumb, not to mention the King’s sword belted around his waist. “I have documentation.” Glyph replied and handed the man Albast’s letter.
The guard opened the letter, read it and began to laugh. “Abraham Lincoln? You can’t be serious, just who the hell are you?”
“My name is Glyph Young. I have important information for the President regarding the invasion.” Glyph replied, realizing once again that he was getting nowhere fast.
“How did this nut get past you guys?” The guard asked Glyph’s escorts, as he raised his pistol and leveled it at Glyph. “He even has a sword. Who authorized you to bring him here?”
“Obey.” Glyph said and sighed.
“Did you just tell me to obey? Get this whack job out of here.” The guard said.
“Put away your side arm, and stand at ease.” Glyph commanded.
As the soldiers did as Glyph instructed, he tried to think of the best way to proceed. “Take this letter to whoever is in charge here. Tell them I’m waiting outside.” Glyph said, and watched as the man quickly retreated through the doorway. ‘I would feel a lot more comfortable being invited in, than having to force my way like this.’ Glyph thought, but was beginning to feel that it might be the only way.
Minutes ticked by as Glyph stood waiting with the soldiers who were still under his control. The longer he waited the more apprehensive he became. About the time Glyph was ready to call forth his shield and start through the door, it opened.
A short man in business casual dress with a bulletproof vest peeked out. His face drained of color as his gaze fell upon Glyph. “Oh my God.” He said and started to shake uncontrollably. Then the man pulled the door open. “R-right this way, sir.”
‘That’s more like it.’ Glyph thought and graciously thanked the man. With a thought Glyph released his hold on the soldiers, including the ones still frozen in place by the main gate.
“My name is Robert Sorenson, Secretary of State.” He said as his voiced quivered a bit. “May I ask your name?”
“My name is Glyph Young. I need to speak with the President.” Glyph replied as they walked down the hall.
“Of course, of course, please right this way.” Sorenson said hastily.
Glyph could tell the man was visibly shaken and pale, and he still had the letter in a death-like grip with the white of his knuckles showing. Sorenson led him straight to the Oval Office, and across the room to where the President sat behind a large oak desk.
“Mr. President, this is Glyph Young, the bearer of Mr. Lincoln’s letter.” Sorenson said.
The man behind the desk looked ancient, and bore the expression of a beaten man. “Mr. Young, you’re not quite what I would have expected, you see the Lincoln letter is somewhat of a legend around here. Please, have a seat.” He said eyeing Glyph’s sword and clothing.
Glyph had thought that a new president had been elected since he was last on Earth, but then began to realize it was the same man, Jon Bradley. He just appeared to have aged twenty years, most likely due to the stress he was under. “I can understand, Mr. President. Quite frankly I wasn’t sure the letter would get me in to see you or not.”
“Yes.” President Bradley remarked. “If it weren’t for President Roosevelt’s insistence that each new President be briefed on the document, no one would even know of its existence.” He explained while studying the letter. “So, are you part of some secret society? It would appear that you are a man of some importance, and must have some power in certain circles in order to have helped our country so much in the past.”
Glyph wasn’t sure where to begin. “Well that wasn’t me exactly.”
“Of course, I meant a previous member of your group. You’re not nearly old enough to have been the one to meet with President Roosevelt.” He stated.
Glyph shook his head; this was going to be harder than he thought. “How much do you know about us?” Glyph decided to ask.
“Not very much, only that your people have helped the country before in times of great need, and I’m assuming that is why you are here now.” President Bradley responded.
“Well, here’s the gist of it. I am a wizard. There are other wizards and a sizeable army on another world. I want to bring them here in order to help you fight Tsach, the demon lord.”
Jon Bradley met his gaze intently. “Four months ago I would have had you arrested for saying that, but I’ve seen the demons, and their Minotaur soldiers. I’ve seen those red devils shoot fire and lightning from their hands. Can you do those things Mr. Young?”
“Yes. I was born in New Jersey, and lived here until I was thirty-six. The Demons took me and tortured me for months, until the wizards of M’atra rescued me. I’ve lived there for the last several years, and returned when I realized that Tsach was invading Earth.” Glyph paused and instinctually checked his watch. “The simple truth is, there isn’t much time. He’s come here, brought the war to our doorstep, because of me. I’m the one he wants.”
Bradley raised his eyebrows at Glyph. “But why?” He asked. “I don’t understand what it is about you that makes this Tsach character hell bent on wiping out the Earth.”
“Because I’m the reset switch. I’m the one who is destined to restore order to the universe. Without me the demons march onward, enslaving world after world, gaining more power, more weapons, and more technology. I am the opposition. Without me, nothing stands in their way, and their evil will reign supreme.” Glyph replied staring off at a blank section of the wall.
“But is it true? Are you all of those things?” The president questioned.
“Unfortunately, I believe that I am. And possibly much, much more. Even I am just now discovering the extent and scope of my powers, and it scares the hell out of me.” Glyph told him.
President Bradley looked at him skeptically. “So, if it’s you he wants, why is he here, and not invading this M’atra that you spoke of?”
“Tsach couldn’t reach me on M’atra, so he decided to lay waste to my home world, in hopes of drawing me out.” Glyph replied.
“That’s why they’re destroying everything.” The President groaned.
“Tsach isn’t here to conquer the Earth, he just wants to destroy it to get at me. I have an army of my own, and seven other wizards at my disposal. Two of them are already here, and have held the bulk of Tsach’s forces on the other side of the Mississippi. The rest of my forces still reside on M’atra, and I’m trying to get them here as soon as possible, but I’m going to need your cooperation. We’ll all have to work together in order to pull this off.” Glyph tried to explain.
“Mr. Young, I can’t believe I’m actually saying this, and we need all the help we can get, but we’ve tried everything!” Bradley said, then calmed himself and sat back in his chair. “As a last resort I’ve even sent my best men to negotiate a truce, and I would like to give them the opportunity to succeed, before we do anything else.”
Glyph shook his head. “It won’t work.”
“Nevertheless, I have committed to this course of action, and feel that we must see it through. It was my last option, before surrender. The country has been decimated. More than half of our military has been destroyed. Our whole civilization is on the brink of collapse. There was no other recourse, at least until now. Beyond that, I will also need proof that what you are saying is true, before I can go along with what you propose.” The President declared.
At that moment sirens began to sound throughout the White House, and the surrounding compound. The President stood, a look of panic in his eyes. A half-dozen soldiers stormed into the room, with weapons at the ready.
“What is it? What is going on?” President Bradley demanded.
“Something has breached the perimeter defenses, sir. It’s headed this way.” One of the soldiers belted out.
“Dear God.” Bradley said, as the soldiers took defensive positions around him.
“It would be best if you got under the desk, sir.” One of the soldiers said.
“No soldier, if I am to die, it will not be cowering under a desk.” President Bradley stated firmly, though Glyph could plainly see the fear in his eyes.
Glyph stood and rolled his neck from one side to the other. “Mr. President, I’m about to give you your proof.”