Rise, Rise – Chapter Fifteen

By JKolasch

Xanthiilus stood, watching Saleena.  She wasn’t moving.  She was just sitting in front of her tree, a green glow radiating from her skin and small lights dancing around her.  Xan knew she was almost ready, and he was getting worried.  The battle with the Lord of Fire would be intense, and Xan knew the Lord would not be fighting alone.  He was sure the demon had a reserve of demonic minions yet, and would do everything it could to stay alive after just breaking free from its prison.

            “I’m ready, Xan.”  Sal’s voice was quiet, and strained.

            Xan knelt down next to his dryad, and caressed her cheek, tears forming in his eyes.

            “Everything will be fine, Xan.  Trust me.”

            “I wish I had your confidence.”

            “You will.  I’ll be out there with you, in my forest.”

            Tears began to flow freely down Xan’s face.  “Just promise me you’ll be back.”

            Saleena looked up at Xan, her skin radiating with power.  She smiled, gently wiping his tears away.  “Of course I will come back.  I’m not going anywhere.  Now, get Maryanne and Sympheros ready.  I can sense a great evil about to enter this world.”

            “I love you, Saleena.”

            “I love you too, Xan.”

            Xan started walking away, but he stopped.  “Sal, we’ve been together for thousands of years.  When we met, you joked we were getting married.”

            Saleena nodded, her eyes closing again.

            “When this is all done, I’d like to actually get married to you.”

            Sal’s eyes opened and she smiled.  “I’d love to marry you, Xan.  Now go kick some demon ass.”

            Xanthiilus continued walking out of the forest, tears falling down his face.  There was a brilliant green flash, and the forest erupted, spreading rapidly through the warehouse, spilling outside, and flowing over the city.

            Xan walked out onto the roof, and found Maryanne and Sympheros holding hands and watching Sal’s spell take over the city.  The sun was going down, and it looked like a wave of dark green was washing over everything.

            “Let’s go,” Xan said.

            Maryanne and Sympheros turned and nodded at Xan, their eyes sad.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Fourteen

By JKolasch

“You’ve been busy, Xan,” Sympheros said.  He was sitting in front of a small TV he had found somewhere, and all the stations were broadcasting emergency coverage of the city.  There were several interviews with soldiers talking about the strange man with fiery wings.

Xan gently worked his arm, rubbing it.  “I only killed one other general.  There are still eleven of them.  Was hoping to kill more of the demons that mattered before the shit really hit the fan.”

Maryanne walked in from the forest, carrying a couple of empty plates and cups.  “Saleena will be glad you’re home.  You should go see her.”

Xan nodded.  “I will.”

Saleena was sitting with her back to her tree, eyes closed, and an acorn held in her hands.  Xan walked over and sat down next to her.

“Maryanne told me about the news.  Did you run into any more generals?”

“Just one.  And a whole load of lesser demons.”

Saleena opened her eyes.  Exhaustion was evident on her face.  She leaned over, resting her head on Xan’s shoulder.  “Are we going to have the energy to fight after we do this?”

Xan slipped his arm gingerly around Sal.  “We’ll find the will.”  He kissed her forehead.  “Is your full concentration required here?”

Sal shook her head.  “But I can’t really fully concentrate on anything else either.”

Xan smiled.  “That’s okay.  I was just thinking about a bath.”

Saleena smiled sleepily, her eyes closing.  “That sounds wonderful.”

Xanthiilus woke up early in the morning.  The sun was barely creeping above the horizon.  He felt refreshed from the bath he had taken with Saleena, and had fallen asleep at the foot of her tree after Sal had returned her full attention to the spell.  Today was the day.  Sal would release the spell she had been preparing, and a glade would spread throughout the entire city.  It would weaken the demons as well as enable Saleena to sense their presence.  Xan only hoped she would be recovered by the time the Lord of Fire appeared.

Xan flicked on the radio he had taken with him, and was greeted by voices shouting about three black hooded figures converging on a group of battalions.  Saleena looked at him, her face still showing how tired she was, but she nodded.  Xan quickly kissed her, and then he was on the roof, asking for the location.  Three generals were not an opportunity he could pass up.

“Sympheros! Come here!” Xan yelled.

Sympheros came trudging up the stairs to the roof.  “What is it?”

“I need you to be alert.  There are three general demons attacking some groups of soldiers, and I have to take that opportunity to try and thin their ranks.  Hopefully, the wards here will hold in case something tries to attack while I’m away, but I need you and Maryanne to protect Saleena.”

Sympheros nodded, setting his jaw grimly.  “I’d say good luck to you, Xan, but it doesn’t seem appropriate.”

Xan nodded in response.  “I appreciate the sentiment.”  He leapt off the roof, and was gone in a flash of fire.

Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Fourteen”

Rise, Rise – Chapter Thirteen

By JKolasch

There was about one day left until Saleena had enough energy to spread a glade over the entire city.  Demonic activity had started picking up, and even the human world was being drawn into the war.  Xan sat on top of a high-rise building watching a tank battalion patrol the streets below.  That group was only one of many.  For the most part, the military was incredibly ineffective, but Xan guessed it made the humans feel safer.  Parts of the city were in ruins; the demons seldom lost.  Xan berated himself for staying hidden so long, when he could have been out here, trying to fight the demons head on.  He pulled a cigarette from his cloak and was just about to put it in his mouth when an explosion shook the building.  He stumbled, dropping the cigarette off the ledge of the building.  Xan looked over the edge and watched it fall.

“Damn, that was my last one.”  He drew his sword and jumped off the building, fiery wings leaving a trail of embers behind him.

He landed near the wreckage of a smoldering tank, his cloak billowing out like a flower.  Uniformed men with heavy weaponry ran around, apparently trying to organize a counter attack.  Xan glanced around, and saw the demon standing down the street, red blade in hand.  It looked like the general Xan had killed earlier.  Flanking it were two unusual looking creatures.  They towered over the demon, with black wings blotting out the street behind them.  They were all black, and it was difficult to make out any features apart from the wings and the horns sprouting from their heads.

“Who the hell are you?”

Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Thirteen”

Rise, Rise – Chapter Twelve

By JKolasch

Xanthiilus stood on the ledge of the warehouse, cigarette hanging from his lips with the smoke curling around his head.  The morning sun was fighting valiantly to burn through the mist that had gradually taken over the city, but there were only patches the light managed to shine radiantly through.  Saleena stepped up next to him, slipping an arm around him.  Xan puffed on his cigarette and pulled her closer, leaning his head against hers.

            “We need to find a way to locate the demons, so we can hunt them.”  Xanthiilus flicked the cigarette out into the empty air.

            “Or at least set a trap.”

            “A trap, huh?  How do you propose that?”

            “Not really sure, but it’d have to be in a park.”  Saleena slipped her hand into Xan’s cloak and pulled out a cigarette.

            “Do we try to get them all, or just a few at a time?”

            “Now,” Saleena took a single drag and gave the cigarette to Xan, “that is the tricky part.”  She blew out the smoke and it spiraled through the air.

            “Where are they entering our world from?”  Sympheros’ voice was unexpected.

            Xan and Sal turned around and found Sympheros eating an omelet.

            “Where’d you get the omelet?”

Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Twelve”

Rise, Rise – Chapter Eleven

By JKolasch

Xanthiilus woke up abruptly.  The forest was dark, and he could barely make out the sleeping forms of Maryanne and Sympheros a little distance away.  Saleena was asleep next to him, her hair spread out like a blanket over the foliage and her chest rising and falling peacefully.  Xanthiilus looked around the forest, trying to find something that could have caused him to wake up so suddenly.  He stood up silently, not wanting to wake the others.  Why was the forest dark?  When they had arrived last night, it had been glowing green.  Would the new wards have changed that?  Or had something come here.

            “…Xanthiilus…”

            Xan looked up at the broken skylight.  The voice was incredibly quiet.  He wasn’t sure he had heard it, but a star suddenly blinked out of existence as a dark form moved in front of it.  In a blink, Xanthiilus was standing on the roof, naked blade in his hand.  His eyes roved across the roof, looking for the dark form.

            “Xanthiilus!”

            The voice screamed right in his ear, and Xan dropped to the side, lunging out with his sword.  It met resistance with an earsplitting clang.  Xan looked up.  His sword was resting against a curved and wicked looking blade.  It was red, with scratches carved throughout the entire surface.  Xan quickly stood up, jumping back to give himself some distance.

            The figure in front of him was the size of a human, and it wore a black cloak with the hood drawn low.  The entire being seemed to exude darkness.  There was only a dark form beneath the cloak; Xan couldn’t make out any discernible features, and he could not see through the darkness of the creature’s hood.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Ten

By JKolasch

It was almost daylight when Xan got back to the safe house.  He could have gotten there instantly, but he decided to walk, to have more time to think and smoke.  The shock of the werewolf and what the werewolf had said were still bouncing around inside his head.  Xan had lived through so much, yet it was unsettling hearing this wasn’t the first life had been through.  He had always accepted that nature had created him to help combat evil, but he never thought that he had been different than the others.  His thoughts left him when he reached the front door of the safe house.  He was suddenly so tired, and he just wanted to crawl into bed with Sal and hold her as he fell asleep.

            “There you are, Xanthiilus.”

            Xan turned around groggily, to see who was addressing him.  Wings sprang from his back and his sword was in his hands in the blink of an eye.  A demon stood before him.

            “Is that anyway to welcome a guest?”

            Xan couldn’t believe he hadn’t recognized that voice as demonic.  They all sounded like chains being dragged over stones.  “What the hell do you want?”

            The demon chuckled.  “I certainly do not want hell.  I have been locked up there for a lot longer than I would like.  I just thought I would stop by and see how everyone is doing.  I would especially like to say hello to that little slut of yours.”

            A streak of fire pierced the demon, and Xan stood behind it, fire dripping from his sword.  The demon gurgled, a large cut appearing through its middle as black blood oozed from the wound.  It placed its hands on the cut, and black wisps of clouds drifted from its fingers followed a sharp hissing sound.  Xan watched as the cut began to mend jaggedly, leaving a large scar on the demon’s middle.

Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Ten”

Rise, Rise – Chapter Nine

By JKolasch

Maryanne was walking slowly down the stairs into the subway station.  She pulled her coat closer around her tiny form to better fight off the cold.  It wasn’t very effective.  Cold, dreary days like this made her feel frail and frozen.  It was dark; only a few of the lights were left on.  She was not entirely sure why she was coming down here.  It was out of her way going home.  She had just finished closing the greenhouse she worked at.  Just thinking about the ferns, roses, and evergreens made her feel momentarily better.  Plants always did that.  And the station was closed.  The schedule posted on the street above had informed her that the last tram had left several minutes ago.  Still, one foot and then another lead her deeper into the darkness.

It was odd, she thought, that the station would be so dimly lit.  It was heavily traveled while it was open, but now it just seemed like it had been separated from the rest of the city.  She felt a vague sensation tickle her spine, like she was walking into a nightmare.  Her heart started as she reached the bottom of the stairs, causing her to gasp and throw a hand over her chest.  Those red eyes…  No, it was just marquee stating that the B and B2 trams ran through this station.

That night still haunted her.  It had disturbed her, shocking her very core of normalcy.  Could it have really happened?  A crack in the mirror.  That was real.  It had only appeared after the cold, after the initial shock of fear, after seeing that white creature with terrible eyes.  A part of her had shoved the incident aside.  She must have just been tired.  It had seemed so real.  Could it be?  Another part, a deeper and almost mystical part, of her knew the answer.  She didn’t like it.  The feeling of something brushing past her soul was hard to argue with, and she rubbed her arms trying to get warm.  It was cold again.

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Eight

By JKolasch

He sat by himself.  The bench was faded, only a part of the Subway ad clung to it.  People bustled around him, waiting for the tram.  Some people stopped and stared at him; he was a peculiar sight, a man sitting alone in a black cloak with the hood pulled low over his eyes.  He was lost in thought and didn’t notice them.  A loud grating of steel on tracks announced the arrival of the final tram.  The lights dimmed, and the last of the people waiting for the tram got on.  It left, screeching and shooting sparks as it disappeared into the open mouth of the tunnel.  Xan was really alone now.  The station was empty.  He pulled out a cigarette and lit it, now that no one could tell him wasn’t allowed to smoke here.

They had never really fought before.  He didn’t know how to handle his feelings of loneliness.  Saleena had been acting strange.  She was high strung, irritable, and much quicker to lash out in anger than usual.  He took a slow drag, and held it in his lungs for a while, before slowly exhaling.  His head was still clouded by what Saleena had said.  He took another drag and cradled his head in his palm.

“Smoking isn’t allowed here, you know.”

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Seven

By JKolasch

“Why can’t we ask the council?”

Xan sighed, cradling Saleena in his arms.  The last of the sunlight trickled down through the skylight and tumbled down over the trees of Saleena’s forest.  “I wish that was an easier option.  Even if they do agree to a hearing, they are slow to move.  And, if they are experiencing the same problems, they may not be able to spare any help anyway.”

She frowned, the forest around her darkening.  “And that means we can’t even try?”

“The council hasn’t contacted me for several hundred years, Sal.”

Saleena shifted as Xan moved from cradling her to cradling his head.  His mind was running into obstacles he couldn’t get around.  His eyes slowly became as readable as mirrors; it was the first time Xan had ever been so withdrawn.  He glanced up, and saw those all familiar green eyes, unfamiliarly full of concern.

“Xan, I…”  She leaned forward and kissed his forehead.  “Why would they stop?”

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Rise, Rise – Chapter Six

By JKolasch

The cigarette was bitter in his mouth.  It had become harder and harder for him to enjoy his one, simple pleasure in his eternal life.  He sighed, looking over the top of the neighboring buildings, and took another drag, trying to drown his lungs in smoke.  Even though it was snowing lightly, it was warm on the roof of the apartment building.

Demons had been slipping into the world with frightening increases in activity.  Even the mortal world was slowly becoming aware that something was going on.  Xanthiilus watched the fifth patrol drive along the road several stories below him.  He sat on the ledge of an apartment building he had visited only a few weeks ago.  The patrol car had slowed to a stop a short distance away.  The last four had as well.  This was happening all over the city: increased patrols, the sense they were looking for something even though they were unsure of what it was.

Xanthiilus grimaced and flicked the cigarette into empty space.  He watched it fall, sparks trailing in a spiral.  It flared briefly with life before landing on the pavement below; small flakes of fire burst around it and died.

Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Six”
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