Glyph awoke with a gasp, again taking several seconds to orient himself.
“That’s right. I’m in the mountains, the mountains.” He repeated the thought several times. The headache was back. Rubbing his temples, he sat up. His body was slightly stiff, but at least his leg felt healed.
Glyph shimmied from his niche and stood up to get his bearings straight, when he heard a large ‘clang’. The sound made him panic, even as he saw the sword and scabbard lying at his feet. A wave of relief passed over him while his eyes widened in amazement at the sight of it.
“Son of a bitch.” He choked out through gritted teeth as he plucked his long sword from the rocky ground. Glyph stared at it dumbfounded for several seconds. He turned the sword over in his hands, and even unsheathed the blade to make sure it was the same one. Then, reaching for the necklace, he found it securely tied around his neck, black rock and all.
“Fuck me.” He thought. “This changes everything. If I can bring the sword and the necklace here then…” Glyph was suddenly chilled to the bone. “…then the other world is not just a dream, it’s real too!”
Glyph glanced around quickly, then belted on the sword. He pulled out his pistol, loaded it with some bullets, and tucked it back into his waistband. He reached over to the shotgun and loaded it with three more shells, then propped it against a rock. Shifting to one side, he swung the high-powered rifle off his back and loaded it as well. Glyph noticed his ammo was running low, and he made a mental note to start conserving. Slipping the rifle back onto his shoulder, he stooped down and picked up his duffle bag. There wasn’t much left inside. Some of the smaller items were missing, and sticking his finger through the bullet hole in the side of the bag, it became clear where they had gone.
“That was close, too damn close.” Glyph reached inside, pulled out his pack of smokes, and lit one up. Then he picked up the shotgun, walked through the woods a little ways, and started up the abandoned logging road. He rested his hand on the hilt of his sword as he walked, and couldn’t help but think of what this new revelation might mean. His senses had always told him that what had been happening to him was real, but now his mind was joining in. It wasn’t about whether one world was real, and the other wasn’t anymore. Now it had to be all or nothing. He was either completely mad, or this was really happening.
Glyph’s thoughts were suddenly interrupted when he heard a strange thumping noise. He scanned the area quickly but saw nothing; then he caught a red glow out of the corner of his eye. It was the necklace! The rock had changed from black to red and was getting brighter by the second. The thumping noise kept getting louder too, and Glyph began to trot up the rutted path; then he began to run. Whatever it was, he knew it wasn’t good, and it was definitely following him. ‘There’s no animal in these mountains that can shake the ground like that. What was it that Ishea had said about the necklace?’ He asked himself. ‘An indicator of evil?’ Glyph could only think of one thing that could be evil and made that kind of noise, but it just wasn’t possible; not here.
As he topped the ridgeline, the old road he had been following ended abruptly, and he paused to catch his breath. There were large slabs of flat rock up here, and Glyph began to race across them heading away from the noise, which was still gaining on him. Soon it became clear to Glyph that outrunning it was not an option. As he raced down a small hill, Glyph spied a thicket of waist-high bushes and dove into the middle of them. Rolling onto his back, he pumped the shotgun and rested the barrel on his bent knees. Glyph tried desperately to control his heavy breathing as he waited.
The thumping came closer and then slowed to a stop some twenty feet away. Then Glyph heard the voice, and he knew instantly who it was.
“Glyphsss. I knowsss you are heresss, Glyphsss. Massstersss wantsss to talksss, Glyphsss. Sssimeon needsss to tellsss you.” Simeon spoke to the general vicinity.
Glyph lay there silently while a flood of memories washed over him from his torture. The pain, agony, and fear he had felt under Simeon’s hand nearly paralyzed him now as Glyph fought back the waves of emotion. Glyph focused on the grass around him, and the sky overhead. This was not Simeon’s cave, and he was not strapped helplessly to a table. He ran his finger along the trigger of the shotgun, and got angrier by the second.
Then, in one massive thrust, he jumped to his feet, leveling the shotgun at Simeon’s chest. Simeon turned and squared off towards Glyph, his long snake-like neck and head slowly bobbing up and down. Even hunched as he was, he was still at least ten feet tall, and his scaly muscular arms and legs were the size of tree trunks.
“What!?” Glyph shouted angrily, his hands and arms trembling with rage and fear. “What does that fucker want to say to me?” He found himself yelling.
“Massstersss wantsss to tellsss you. Massstersss can helpsss you ssstay in your worldsss, Glyphsss. Massstersss can makesss it likesss nothssingsss happenedsss.” Simeon spat out.
“Like nothing happened!” Glyph screamed. “Just like that! You think you can erase everything you’ve done to me for the last six months!?” He was beginning to lose himself to hysterics, and fought to maintain control.
“Notsss me. Drathussss.” The demon replied.
Glyph forced himself to breathe, as his trigger finger twitched reflexively.
“That’s a very interesting offer.” Glyph lied, barely able to contain himself. “What’s he want from me?”
“Jusstsss to letsss himss do itsss.” Simeon replied, taking a few steps closer to Glyph.
He shook his head in disgust, as his eyes started to fill with water. “No.” Glyph declared.
Simeon turned his head slightly. “Glyphsss ssshouldsss lissstensss to Massstersss.”
“You tell Drathus he can go fuck himself!” Glyph screamed as something in his mind snapped. “Better yet, I’ll tell him for you!”
Glyph pulled the trigger and the blast ripped into Simeon’s chest, making the demon step back and howl. Glyph rushed forward while pumping the shotgun, and let another blast off into the demon’s torso. Simeon’s shriek was deafening. Trembling violently, Glyph popped off his third shell point blank, the force of it knocking the demon off balance. Bits of Simeon’s black blood filled the air as the creature caught itself with one hand and pushed back onto its feet. The demon smacked at its chest and howled in pain.
Glyph tossed the empty gun and ran like hell, pulling his pistol as he went. Simeon recovered quicker than Glyph had hoped, and was now stomping after him like a wild elephant. The demon’s gimp leg was the only thing keeping it from catching up to him. Glyph ran along the ridge rock looking for some advantage in the surrounding terrain, but saw nothing. He ran through a bunch of scraggly pine trees, and found himself on the edge of a cliff some thousand feet high. Glyph turned right and ran along the edge. Casting a quick glance back, he saw the pines snap like toothpicks and fly over the edge, but Simeon turned right, growling and biting at the air as he followed.
Glyph turned away from the cliff and began to move down the side of the mountain. He rounded a large boulder and skidded to a stop. Back peddling, he pressed himself up against it just as Simeon stormed by, also sliding to a stop. Simeon glanced left, then right, and turned around. Glyph began shooting into Simeon’s head as the demon rushed up toward him. On the fourth shot a red energy barrier sprang up around the demon, and on the fifth shot Simeon backhanded Glyph, sending him sailing twenty feet through the air onto the ground beside a fallen tree. The impact of Simeon’s hand broke Glyph’s arm, and the ground cracked several ribs. Glyph couldn’t breathe, but adrenaline made him stand and run. With the wind knocked out of him, he only made it about forty feet or so before he collapsed, fighting to get a breath. He turned to look for Simeon, and saw it picking its way closer. Simeon was moving much slower now and appeared to have its eye dangling from the deep socket in its head. The demon’s body was stained with black blood.
Glyph began to see sparkling lights and blackness spotting his vision. He was about to lose consciousness when suddenly he inhaled violently, bringing him back to his senses, and also causing excruciating pain in his ribs. He coughed several times and climbed to his feet. The pistol and rifle were nowhere to be seen, so with his good arm he drew out his sword. The blade was white now, and hot, as if it had just been pulled from the forge. He could even feel the heat radiating off on the backs of his hands.
When Simeon was about twenty feet away, it raised one arm, and fire burst out onto its palm. Glyph raised his sword and took a step back, but was unable to dodge the fireball the demon threw at him. Screaming as the fire engulfed him, Glyph dropped to one knee and closed his eyes. As the light of the fireball diminished, Glyph opened his eyes and realized he was not harmed. He began to laugh, even though it hurt. Glyph stood back up and started to limp towards Simeon.
“Fuck you! You fucking fucker!” Glyph screamed, waving the sword menacingly. Shock was starting to set in.
Simeon spat a glob of bloody mucus on the ground. “SssMalik-tae.” It swore at Glyph, at least that’s what it sounded like. Glyph felt tingly as he watched the demon attempt to muster another fireball, but it fizzled in a small shower of sparks, and Simeon fell to his hands and knees. A thick trail of black blood stretched out behind him, and nearly its whole body was slick with the foul-smelling liquid.
“You think you can just show up, and I’ll listen to you? Do you think I’m that stupid, that you could torture me for six months, and I’ll still do what you say? You piece of shit! You had no intention of making things right again! Like nothing ever happened, my ass! Drathus sent you here to kill me, didn’t he?” Glyph demanded. When Simeon didn’t respond Glyph rammed his sword up to the hilt into the demon’s side. “Didn’t he?!” Glyph yelled over the demon’s cries of torment. Glyph withdrew the sword and stared at the dark greenish-black blood on the blade, then he grinned widely as he heard Simeon’s whimper. “Now it’s my turn, you fucking bastard!” He shouted. Glyph sliced through Simeon’s left arm in one swing, severing it at the elbow. Simeon howled and flopped on its face, its sizzling stump black and bubbly.
“How’s it feel, Simeon?!” Glyph shouted over the demon’s shrieks. Side-stepping the fallen limb, he sliced through Simeon’s left leg mid-thigh. “How do you like me now, bitch?” Glyph spat. Simeon’s cries became choked with blood. “If I had the time, I would make you suffer!” Glyph yelled as he flayed a massive chunk of flesh off the demon’s back, causing it to turn onto its side and face him. “But I don’t.” He continued, as he ran the red-hot sword in and out of Simeon’s chest wounds like a pincushion. The creature’s body began to convulse as Glyph walked around its one good arm, and with a flick of his sword filleted open the entire length of its forearm. Black blood was everywhere as Glyph casually walked up towards the creature’s head and pinned the writhing demon’s neck to the ground with his foot. One glance at his watch told Glyph it was time to end it. He didn’t want to, and if he could, he would have tortured Simeon for weeks. He would just have to be satisfied with its death.
Bending down, Glyph stared into Simeon’s good eye. “When you see Drathus in hell, tell him I fucking sent you!” Glyph yelled, and swung the sword down, cleaving Simeon’s long neck and head from his body. Blood gushed out onto the ground as the severed head rolled a few times down the hill. It writhed about like a worm that had been chopped in two for half a minute before it slowed and came to a rest. Glyph couldn’t help but relish the moment. Not only was it justice, but it was administered by his own hand.
The smell of burnt flesh hung in the air. Glyph stumbled backwards, tripped over a rock, and fell onto his back. “It’s real! It’s all fucking real!” He shouted at the tree tops. Glyph began to laugh hysterically as his watch chimed. The wind swept through the trees in a matter of seconds and when it passed over him, all the air was sucked away. A moment later the darkness descended around him like a black curtain…
…Glyph awoke, gasped for air, and continued to laugh through his own pain. Opening his eyes, he saw Ishea standing over him. Her eyes blazed purple, and a soft blue light surrounded her hands as she held them over his chest and arm.
“Simeon is dead.” Glyph managed to get out before exhaustion overwhelmed him and he passed out.