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.
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.
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.
Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Eleven”
“Where do we start?” Fin was packing his bag: clothing, food, and other items they would need.
“Honestly? I have no idea what Magister Rochester expects us to find.”
Fin stuffed an extra ration into his bag and closed it. He looked at Grace, searching for her violet eyes in the dim bunker lighting. “It does seem like a bit of a longshot. But this Elementalist could really help us.”
Grace finished packing her own bag and turned toward Fin. Her hair shrouded her face in as much shadow as the minimal light. “He could. If we could find him. If he exists.” She shouldered her bag. “Fin, the truth is, we don’t know what we’re looking for or where.”
Fin dropped his gaze and briefly nodded. “He saved us in Times Square. That might be as a good a place as any to start looking.”
A soft thump caused Fin to glance at Grace. She had set her bag down on the floor and was sitting on one of the benches in the locker room. He shifted his weight, eyes darting toward the empty bench space next to Grace.
“Times Square isn’t exactly close to this bunker. Even if it was, you heard them. It sounds like the Soulless have overrun the city. Even if we can make it to Times Square, there’s still no guarantee the Elementalist would be there. And why would he? You remember what that place was like. The death, the destruction…”
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 1:30pm”
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”
“As I’m sure you’ve guessed, this book is unique.” Rochester leafed through the pages.
They were in an empty room of the underground complex. There was a small, wooden desk, and a few chairs. Grace and Fin were sitting close to the desk.
“And, as I’m sure you’ve guessed, there are other forms of magic and creatures you’ve never heard of.” Rochester slid the book over to them. It was open to the page on Elementalists. “When the order of Conduits was created, the original Magister thought this knowledge would prove dangerous, and undermine the authority he had won with his Conduits.”
“Why would the knowledge of other magic be dangerous?” Fin asked.
“Magic had always been at the fringe of society. Yes, it was accepted, but it wasn’t until the defeat of the Soulless that the general populace understood that magic could be used to protect them. Older magics are more primal. They didn’t have a governing society controlling them, and people were afraid of what would happen with individuals possessing that much power.”
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 1:00pm”
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.
Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Nine”
Fin woke to a room dimly lit with red lights. The dull thuds of explosions echoed against the walls, causing them to rattle. He felt a body next to his, and turning his head he saw Grace sleeping next to him. He sat up slowly, careful not to wake her, and his body tensed against the pain from the abuse he had put it through. He had pushed himself to the absolute limit, and the constant concussive forces he had been exposed to had not been kind either. Across the small room, in another bed next to the wall, he saw Xander. Xander stirred, and slowly sat up, looking back at Fin.
“Looks like we’re in a bunker.” Xander glanced around at the concrete walls.
Fin nodded. “Just a question of where.” He stretched, trying to work the kinks out of his back and neck. “Any idea how we got here?”
“No idea. Maybe faeries whisked us away.”
Fin smirked. “I swear I remember a dog,” he muttered.
“Hmm? A dog? I think the faeries are more likely.”
Fin slid to the edge of the bed and let his feet rest on the cold concrete floor. “I think it was a German Shepherd? Someone saved us. Had a dog that attacked a Soulless about to kill me. And then the guy burned the Soulless and killed it. Pushed the rest of them back.”
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Three, 7:12am”
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.”
Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Eight”
Three silver smears appeared on an empty street strewn with rubble. Fin drew his sword, and the other two followed suit. They walked silently across the broken street, alert.
Fin touched the diamond in the hilt of his sword. <Times Square is just past that building.>
What was left of the building. It was half collapsed, and littered the street with broken bricks, wires, couches, office desks, chairs, beds… Fin’s boot stepped on something crunching and he almost slipped. Looking down, he saw a hand. Just a hand. The skin was charred and crisp, and it had slid off of the ragged muscle and bone. He froze. Looking closer, he saw that burned and bloody corpses littered the debris, intertwined with broken beds and sheets torn apart. He retched as the smell finally registered. Cooked meat and the rancid, almost sweet, smell of death. He closed his eyes, trying to keep his head from reeling out of control. He felt hands grab a hold of him and steady him. He opened his eyes and saw violet. Grace’s face was smooth. Her lips were pale and tight, almost like they were drawn on.
Her lips moved, mouthing words he almost didn’t catch. We’ll get the bastards.
Fin nodded, and followed Grace across the rest of the debris, trying his best not to look at what was crunching and snapping under his feet. Xander had gone ahead, and was crouched near the wall that was left, facing Times Square. As Fin knelt down next to them, he remembered what Matthias had said. There had been no evacuations. Not even any attempts. They…no, we, didn’t do anything to save anyone, he thought. He didn’t have long to dwell on that thought. A distant rumble, like thunder, echoed from the distance. The jets were getting close.
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 6:36pm”
“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?”
Continue reading “Rise, Rise – Chapter Seven”
The command room was a flurry of activity. Soldiers, Conduits, and police were running back and forth between the General, Commissioner, and Magister. Live satellite feeds, maps, videos, and Damp Field indicators flickered across the screens. In the middle of the room, the leaders gathered around a large desk, a digital map of New Brooklyn sprawling across it, with dozens of red lines running outside of the city.
“It’s too late to think about evacuation. Over half the city is dark, and skirmishes are everywhere. Every time one ends, another pops up somewhere. Those pale bastards are everywhere.”
“Then what do you suggest we do, General? Allow civilians to be massacred with no hope? No chance?” Commissioner Wallace’s arms were crossed tightly over his heavily decorated jacket.
General Matthias tapped on the screen, and pulled up a feed of New Harlem. It was desolate and barren. Burning rubble and debris filled the screen. So did bodies. Arms, legs, hands. Not attached to anything. Carnage and blood littered the ruined section.
“I know what happened in New Harlem, General. Why are you showing me this?” Wallace covered his mouth with his hand and turned away.
“That,” Matthias said, switching from feed to feed, showing more and more death and carnage, “was a victory. The Conduits won there, remember?” He glowered at Magister Rochester.
Continue reading “The Fall of New Brooklyn, Day Two, 5:47pm”