The Hour Book3 Prologue

 

“Close the gate! Close the gate you imbeciles!” Tsach commanded, barely audible over the tumultuous noise. As soon as the Great One had fled through the gate it had closed, but it was what awaited the demons when they re-opened it a scant few seconds later that truly surprised the Arch-Demon. A wall of water burst through the gate with enough pressure to travel a half mile in the blink of an eye. By the time Tsach had turned his head, nearly a quarter of his army had been washed away, decimated by the torrential blast that could have turned a mountain into rubble. He stood there watching as several demons appeared beside each column and worked feverishly to shut the portal. The roar of the massive amount of water rushing through the gate ceased abruptly, and Tsach absently looked over toward the gate. A massive trench now stretched off toward the horizon, carved from the desert floor in a matter of seconds. This had been truly unexpected, and one of only a handful of things that the Arch-demon had ever witnessed that made him feel uneasy.

A number of wary demons now approached him, being careful as to avoid the large ponds of standing water and wet sand.

“Master, what are your orders?” One of them asked.

Tsach stared at the gate a moment longer, “Find Akthule. If he is still alive, have him report to me at once!” A plan was beginning to formulate in his mind. It was time. The Great One’s presence here, and the scope of his power, was no longer in doubt. This had been the proof Tsach had been seeking all along, and now, with everything in place, it was time to make his next move. He pondered the gate awhile longer before Akthule appeared.

“You wished to see me–!” Akthule began to say, before he realized he was standing in a sloppy pile of wet sand. The demon winced slightly as the water reacted like acid upon his feet. He quickly created an energy barrier to stand upon, and continued. “—Master?”

The Arch demon stared at his Viceroy disdainfully. “What is that?” Tsach demanded pointing at Akthule’s hand.

“This? Oh, a hapless chinee handed it to me shortly before the gate re-opened. He found it during the battle and thought he might gain favor by bringing it to me.” Akthule replied.

“Give it to me.” Tsach commanded. He rolled it gingerly between his massive fingers. “The Great One’s weapon.” Tsach observed, then lowered his hand and thrust it at the demon without looking at him. “Take this to the alchemists. I want to know how it works.”

“Yes Master!” Akthule replied, taking the machinegun from Tsach’s hand. He snapped his fingers, and handed the weapon off to a subordinate, who quickly ran off. “I recognized the importance of it immediately of course, and–.”

“Shut your maw, Akthule, and listen.” Tsach said cutting him off. Akthule nodded but said nothing. “You will split what is left of the army into two groups. Have one group set up camp here, and have the other group prepare to march. They will head for Parcel One, and the portal in Etai.” Tsach ordered.

“Yes Master, at once!” Akthule answered, and teleported off to relay Tsach’s orders.

“You are very clever, Glyyyph, and perhaps more powerful than I could have imagined. But I think I will no longer pursue you. Instead, I will make you come to me.” The demon lord sauntered over and stood before the gate, with the remnants of the flood swirling around his feet. Waving his hand he created a large table, and with another wave, filled it with ancient tomes, tablets and crumbling parchment. This would take time, he thought. But time was something he had in abundance; he had waited for ten thousand years for the Great One to arrive. When he had first received word that the demon Drathus had been defeated by wizards, he knew he was on the right track. They had met resistance on countless other worlds, and other magical beings to be sure, but never a group of wizards. No, the power they represented was unique to this dimension, and upon their discovery, he was sure the Great One would soon follow.

When at last his spy informed him that the Chinee Drathus was in possession of the Great One, Tsach had made his move.

“Perhaps in my haste, I underestimated his resourcefulness. It will not happen again. Next time I will be prepared.” Tsach said to himself, and flipped another page in an extra large tome. “Ah here it is. I need to create a variant of this relocation spell.”

Tsach brought himself up straight to his full height, and faced the closed gate. Raising his four arms up, palms toward the portal, he began to chant. A red aura soon surrounded his hands and crept down the length of his entire body. Panic began to set in amongst the other demons as they realized Tsach was about to open the gate. They scrambled for cover and teleported away, hoping to save their skins from the acid-like water that they were sure would soon pour forth.

The demon lord pulled his arms down slowly and moved them apart, and as he did so a sheet of red energy began to form, until it encompassed the entire opening of the gate. Tsach abruptly ended the spell, and watched as the red curtain of energy faded away. A gray rock wall now extended across the opening of the gate, from one pillar to the other. With a slight wave of his third arm, the table and books vanished, and Tsach moved forward to inspect his handiwork more closely.

His Viceroy soon appeared beside him. “Yes Akthule?” Tsach asked his second in command.

“My master, why have you created this wall between the pylons of the gate? Is it to hold back the water?” Akthule asked.

“You stupid chinee, I did not create a wall, I opened the gate!” Tsach barked at him.

“But, where is the water?” Akthule questioned.

Tsach absently swatted the demon to the ground with his fourth arm, and without looking down replied. “I reversed the gate on the other side. The back of the gate now holds back the water, while the front opens into the rock face of the cavern.” Tsach said and nodded his approval as he inspected his handiwork. Then he turned and started to walk away.

“But master, what are we to do?” Akthule asked, cringing.

“Dig.” Tsach answered him. “Not just the Grull, get these other fat chinee off their asses and set them to digging as well.” Then as an afterthought added. “And Akthule, you have to dig upwards to reach the surface.”

“Yes my master.” Akthule said and bowed in reverence.

“Inform me as soon as you are about to breach the surface, it should only take you a month or two.” Tsach said as he continued on his way. “I am headed for Heelix. You will contact me there.”

“Yes master.”

 

The trip to Parcel One was uneventful. With those sickening Gargoyles gone, this world was his to do with as he pleased. He made a note to increase the mining of the east bank of the Chasm. The chronium crystals there were very useful, and could be altered to perform all manner of magical feats, as they were able to tap into the force lines naturally for unlimited power. Even he could not yet fathom the applications such a crystal could be made to perform. This bridge of bones was just the tip of the mountain.

After they had crossed into Parcel two, Tsach bypassed the city of Iksas and rode straight for Parcel One, knowing the more time he wasted here on this world, the less time he would have to prepare for his battle with the Great One. When they recalled the Bridge of Bones from the Stitch, Tsach watched it reform impatiently. It was truly a remarkable thing, made possible only by the chronium crystals that diverted the force lines. The beauty of its creation was wasted on him.

Tsach himself led the way across, and was surprised to see a small group of the filthy Gargoyles waiting on the other side.

‘These foolish creatures,’ he thought. ‘left behind by the others only to be exterminated, what could they possibly hope to accomplish by engaging him and his army here.’ he wondered as they drew closer.

The Arch-Demon slowed his chariot to a stop in front of the ragged group of Hexzu, and stared at them disdainfully. “Have you come to die, maggots?!” Tsach bellowed, his magically amplified voice shaking the very ground they stood upon.

“Master Tsach, I am Crowf, son of Grot, Prince of the royal Ruktan of the Hexzu. We humbly beseech thee, oh Lord of the demons. We offer ourselves to you as your loyal servants.” Crowf stated in return. He then flexed out his right wing and the rest of his group, about two dozen in total, bowed down on bended knee.

Tsach stared at Crowf in disbelief, then laughed hideously. “Prince of the Hexzu.” Tsach said and laughed again. “I thought I would have to capture you in battle, but here you are giving yourself to me of your own free will.” He eyed Crowf shrewdly. “I demand you present me with a sacrificial offering.”

Crowf glanced about nervously, “Master, we will find one for you and return.” The Hexzu told him.

“No, I demand one now.” Tsach proclaimed.

“But master, I have nothing to offer you that is appropriate to your greatness.” Crowf spoke smoothly, his years of experience with Cruix having taught him well.

“There are these others with you.” Tsach said indicating the other Gargoyles. “One of them would be acceptable. Prove your loyalty to me now, Prince of the Hexzu.” Nearly a hundred demons had gathered behind Tsach by now, each one pushing to the front for a better view.

The other Hexzu looked at Crowf, their eyes widened with fear. It was obvious this was not how they had envisioned their surrender. Crowf hesitated and slowly withdrew his vorka. “My Lord it would take but a moment to hunt down a lizbah or–.”

“NOW!” Tsach ordered.

Crowf winced momentarily, then in one dreadful swing, cleaved the skull of the closest Hexzu warrior; the splatter of its brain fluid sprayed back onto Crowf’s leather breast plate. The warrior crumpled to the ground dead as Crowf withdrew his blade. The other Hexzu began to stir at the sight of their fallen brother, felled by the hand of their own prince.

Tsach laughed maliciously once more. “Excellent!” The Arch-Demon bellowed. ‘The game is on.’ he decided. ‘Just how far will this filthy life form go to save his own skin.’ he wondered. “Bring me his body, and lay it here before me.”

Crowf did as he was told, and lifted his warrior’s body and brought it forward and placed it at the Arch-Demon’s spider like feet.

“Cut out its heart and give it to me.” Tsach demanded.

Again Crowf hesitated slightly, but pulled his vorka once more and began to carve through the dead Hexzu’s chest. After several bloody minutes Crowf raised the heart upward toward Tsach.

“Good, now I want you to eat it.” Tsach said as he and the other demons watched enraptured.

“Master, I–.” Crowf stammered.

“Now! Do this, and you will gain my favor, Prince of the Hexzu.” Tsach told him.

Slowly Crowf brought the organ down to his mouth and began to eat the bloody heart. At this point several of the Hexzu toward the rear broke ranks and took to the air. Several demons moved to intercept them but Tsach stopped them. “Let them go. They are more worthy than this one to live.”

Crowf looked about, confused by Tsach’s words, but by now the demons had encircled the group of remaining gargoyles. “I am the most evil being in the dimensional continuum, but even I find your willingness to betray your own people revolting. Kill them.” Even as Tsach said the words, the demons pounced on the remaining Hexzu and slaughtered them. Crowf tried to fly, but found that Tsach held him immobilized with his mind. “Break this one’s wings and wrap him in chains, I have special plans for it.”

Crowf screamed in agony as several demons leapt onto him from behind and latched onto his wings, twisting them in circles until the crack of shattering bones could be heard audibly. A large iron chain was brought forward and wrapped tightly around Crowf’s body, broken wings and all, and fastened with a large lock. Tsach motioned the others to move forward, and his army was once again on its way toward Etai, with two sub-demons dragging Crowf’s unconscious body along through the sand behind them.

 

Tsach entered the city of Etai in Parcel One early the next morning. He led his army through the main avenue toward the center of town, toward the portal that led home. It wasn’t his home of course, but the ancestral home of the first demon, the master of all demons; the first to lead his people from their arid dusty caves, and mold them into the most powerful race the dimensional continuum had ever seen. Heelix was that world, and Morgus was the demon who had started it all.

‘That era has passed’ Tsach thought to himself. ‘I am now more powerful than any demon who has ever lived. I am their god, and soon I will be god of everything.’ Saddling up to the gate he waved an arm, and the gate opened instantly.  Without looking back,  Tsach stepped up onto his chariot and rode between the pylons onto the black sands of Heelix.

The red sun burned brightly overhead, framed by a pink sky. The Arch-Demon drove his chariot down the main avenue of the enormous demon city that sprawled over nearly half of the continent. He passed the ancient tar pits where Morgus had proclaimed his dominance over everything in this universe some forty thousand years ago, and made his way directly to the temple. The ancient structure was one of the first ever built by the hands of demons, and stretched into the heavens some thousand feet high. Tsach surveyed the surrounding area before dismounting his chariot and ascending the steps to the main entrance. As he approached, the gigantic oversized obsidian doors opened, and Tsach strutted past the war clerics that stood guard.

The Arch-Demon walked purposefully down the red stone hallway, past row upon row of  side passages, until he reached the inner chamber of the Holy Chrysalis. Not a single cleric moved to block his entry into this sacred room; they valued their lives too much to interfere. A lone page with bulging eyes opened the door at Tsach’s approach and sprinted inside.

“The demon Tsach has requested audience with the Overlord.” piped the scarred, malformed sub-demon who now lay prostrate on the floor.

“Tsach, you have returned.” The gravely old voice came from an ancient robed demon seated on a throne in the tip of the diamond shaped room. “Bring me the Book of Morgus.”

“I do not have it, Mrodin.” Tsach replied, pushing the page out of his way with his leg as he moved forward.

“Then you have made a grave error in returning here. A pity, you always showed such great promise for an off-worlder, until you stole the most sacred Book of all demons. Do you not remember being banished? Did you forget that the only way you could ever come back was if you returned with the Book? I am certain I was clear on this matter!”

“And I told you then that the Book had revealed its prophecy to me, that it was destined to end up in the hands of the Great One, and now it has.” Tsach replied coolly.

“Nonsense! I have explained this to you before, Tsach, the Great One is a myth. A tale to frighten the young.”

“You are wrong. I have seen him, and you are a fool if you believe otherwise.” Tsach answered.

“You dare to challenge me?” Mrodin questioned as he stood to face Tsach.

“The era of Mrodin has now passed. I have found the Great One, and I am destined to destroy him.” Tsach told him. “The heir of Morgus will step down, so that I may fulfill my destiny.”

“What is this sacrilege?” Mrodin shouted.

“The son of the son of Morgus holds no power over me. Relinquish your position or I will take it from you!” Tsach shouted.

“Guards! Kill this blasphemous chinee, and bring me his head!” Mrodin bellowed. At his call, several side doors opened and no less than twenty demons emerged with spears and axes, and lined up on either side of their holy master.

“You no longer hold the power, Mrodin. My followers far exceed your own!” Tsach taunted.

“Then after I kill you, I will kill them as well!” Mrodin hissed and a deep scarlet aura formed around the ancient demon. As he prepared to unleash his power on Tsach, the Arch-Demon signaled the guards, who turned in unison and thrust their spears into the Overlord.

Tsach reveled in the look of shock upon the gnarled demon’s face, as blood gurgled from his mouth. Mrodin slowly sank to the floor, dead. The guards twisted their spears as proof, then withdrew them from the body, and stood crisply at attention.

Tsach walked closer, kicked Mrodin’s body out of his way, and took his seat upon the ancient throne.

“Feed his body to the hyukduk, and fetch me the holy manuscripts. I have work to do.” Tsach said nonchalantly, and laughed evilly as the guards dragged the heir of Morgus from the chamber.

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