CHAPTER 26: WHERE IT ALL WENT WRONG
“Intruders! Intruders! To arms! To arms! Opponents of the morning star are here!” Skreech was screaming. He shouted his name in its original tongue, and we had to cover our ears because of the sound.
Suddenly, there were more Umbili in the room, and I could see them all clearly. Felavis were snarling in every direction, and the battle began.
In the confusion, Thrump had loosened his grip on Skreech, and a well-placed kick made him drop the dude altogether. Skreech scrambled over to Flye under the cover of fire and jumped on his sister. He was strangling her with all his might, and because of her size she had little chance of getting free.
Shishu and Chak had taken defensive stances around me, but I could see through their wall that Flye had dropped the Agnoscian Orb. It rolled out into the middle of the room, but no one was paying it any attention. I felt for the pouch around my neck to check that the seed was still secure. It was.
I looked back at the fight between Skreech and Flye. They were struggling on the ground, and I could see Flye’s eyes beginning to roll back and cloud up. Suddenly, something from the fight in the rest of the room struck Skreech in the back of the head and threw him off balance enough for Flye to catch a breath. Plink had thrown the object. It was her special gun. Flye, still restricted to the ground by Skreech’s weight, reached frantically for the weapon to fight back against her brother. I could see him saying something to her, sneering in her face, but the noise in the room drowned out his words.
Chak moved around me for a moment to throw off a Felavis that was leaping for his head. His dodge was perfectly timed and the creature careened face first into the railing of the spiral staircase.
There were Umbili coming in from every door and opening, and a few seemed to fall straight from the ceiling to get into the room. There were at least thirty there with us.
I maneuvered inside my protective shield enough to see Flye and Skreech again. I saw them just as a bright flash from Plink’s weapon caused Skreech’s body to go limp. Flye wriggled out from beneath her brother and a group of fighting Umbili moved in between us, blocking my view.
I glanced around the room trying to get a glimpse of the battle. Brew and Plink were fighting back to back around Pathena just as Chak and Shishu were fighting around me. Brew was tangled between a black Umbra and a dade and she looked immobilized. Suddenly, the ground beneath her shook as she attempted to shoot into the air. The opposing Umbra stopped her attempt with his own abilities, but the tremor was enough for Brew to wriggle free. She expertly grabbed the dade on her other side by the rope around her waist and yanked her off her feet, into the Umbra. The rope slipped off in the process.
The two enemies lay in a tangled mess on the floor nearby, and Brew swung the red rope around in the air, wielding it as a new weapon. She glanced over her shoulder at Plink engaged in close combat with a dude almost as big as Thrump. Brew used the rope like a lasso, and tangled up the dude’s feet by pulling it tight. It stopped him from moving temporarily. Pathena drew a small dagger out of Brew’s milky white robes and brought its point down into the dude’s foot. It did almost nothing to him. Since the dagger was already lined up, Brew saw what Pathena was going for and delivered a swift kick into the hilt of the dagger. With Brew’s added strength it sank into the dude’s foot and he cried out in pain. His foot was skewered to the ground. Plink fell on her enemy and ended the struggle quickly. Moments later, Plink and Brew straightened up and almost instantly were engaged with new adversaries.
I glanced around and saw Fwik just as he launched into a spectacular move with his whip. He slung it into the air, over Chak’s head, and fastened it to a rail on the spiral staircase. He took a running leap and hurled himself around the room, giving flying kicks to several opponents’ faces as he did. Just as he was about to come full circle, an enemy Umbra reached up, clearly trying to snag him from the air. Fwik gave a flick of his wrist, the whip released, and he did an impressive backwards flip to land on his feet and barely dodge the Umbra’s grasp. He crouched low on the landing and let his arm fly again. His whip extended across the room and connected with the tip of Fwish’s whip, which had just been unfurled. The two pulled the line taught and ran in the same direction, sweeping the feet out from under three Umbili and the Umbra who had just tried to grab Fwik.
I saw Thrump covered head to toe in enemies. Every so often, his arms would appear from amidst the massive dog pile and swing around to deliver a series of earth-shattering punches. Fwish and Fwik saw it and rushed over to Thrump’s aid. They wove their way in among the opponents and disappeared from sight in the middle of the ball. They were small enough not to be noticed. Then, something was spinning in the middle of the pile.
It took a second to realize what was happening. Fwik and Fwish had attached themselves to the ends of their whips and curled up in perfect little balls, and Thrump had grabbed both whips and was twirling the two siblings around like a bola. Their armored bodies were gaining speed and knocking away the huge crowd of foes. At the last second Thrump let go and the twins catapulted across the room. Both of them unwound from their curled up positions in mid air and used their whips to swing themselves into another enemy and engage in another fight.
All of this was happening so quickly that it was hard to keep up and I was amazed at how well our group fought as a team. It appeared as if nothing these enemy Umbili could throw at us was having an effect. Nevertheless, opponents were still coming, and I knew we couldn’t hold them off forever.
I took a step backward and tripped over something round. It was the Agnoscian Orb. I dropped to the floor and tried to grab it, but it slipped through my fingers and rolled away toward the spiral staircase. I barely caught sight of it as it teetered on the top of the staircase. If it fell, it would go straight down the stairs and be lost to who knows where.
I reached up and tried to get Chak’s attention, but it was no use. He was preoccupied with two Umbili of his own. I made up my mind then to just do it.
I unsheathed my sword, crouched low and left the protective bubble Chak and Shishu were creating for me. A tall and thin dude saw me exit and headed toward me, trying to grab at the pouch containing the seed. He quickly reached toward me, but I was ready for him and dodged to the left, bringing my sword down on his outstretched hand. Surprisingly, it cut clean through his arm, leaving it a bright red stump. I used the momentum of my dodge to dive toward the staircase and onto the Agnoscian Orb. As I fell, I heard someone say my name. It was Chak. He had seen me and followed my dive into the staircase with one of his own.
Oddly, I only touched the stairs once as I plummeted into the stairwell. After that, I was simply falling, but somehow falling upwards. Chak was a little bit below me. And I noticed Pathena a little below Chak. Both of them had dived after me when I went for the orb. They were following me upward, and the stairs we had just fallen into were below him, but getting smaller by the second.
As I rose, I saw the pouch slip out in front of me, and I flashed back to my bungee jumping at the City of Falling Water. This time, I expertly grabbed the pouch without a second’s hesitation. Just as I did, my back slammed in to something hard. Chak slammed up, or down, next to me seconds later, and Pathena a moment after that. I groaned.
“Remind me to thank Glizz for making me bungee jump if I ever see him again,” I coughed.
Chak rolled over and moaned back, “Glizz made you go bungee jumping?”
“Yeah. Never mind. Where are we?”
Dazed, I stood up, and gravity suddenly made sense again. We were standing on a sheet of something hard, and it had a thin layer of sand over it. There was a circle of clear blue light on the ground around us. It emanated from a small speck far above us, the hole from which we had fallen.
Chak stood up next to me and dusted himself off. Pathena did the same.
“I don’t know, but give me the Agnoscian Orb. Maybe I can figure out how to get us where we need to be.”
I looked over where the Orb had landed, near the edge of the circle of light. A small trail in the sand indicated that it had rolled a bit upon landing. I walked over and picked it up, then noticed something strange in the sand where it had rolled.
In the imprint that the orb made, I could see ten circles where each finger hole had touched the sand, and I could vaguely make out the battle mural that was etched in its sides, but in particular what stood out was a word.
My name was printed there in the sand.
It was unmistakable. My name, written in beautiful slanted writing, was etched in the sand. It was so surprising that I let out a little gasp.
“What is it?” Pathena asked.
I didn’t know what to say. My mouth was dry. I merely pointed.
She and Chak stood next to me, looking down at the sand. Pathena was the first to notice my name, and she let out a little gasp too.
“Chak, why is my name on this orb?”
“I… I don’t know,” he said genuinely shocked.
“I picked up the orb and searched for my name. There, written backwards in beautiful flowing script, was my name. The writing I had previously mistaken for an ancient Umbili language was in fact my native Greek. It seems strange to say so, but your own language, when written backwards, is almost unrecognizable if you don’t know what you’re looking at.
I then realized that the words spiraled around the ball and I caught bits and pieces of other words I recognized.
“Hold on Chak. Let me try something.”
I dropped to my knees and placed the ball back in the sand with my name pressed into the grain. I rolled it around trying to keep it in line with the text that I could see. Amazingly, a message appeared in the sand. The trail that the orb left also left the perfect indention of a message, written in Greek, addressed to me. Pathena read it out loud.
This poem you’ve heard in part, but now
you’ll hear it be complete
The first half you have heard just how
Some blood will soon deplete
‘With blood the time was took by me,
and blood must be repaid.
The blood of man will grow the tree
And all his blood be weighed.
For in my garden there must be
A line of time arrayed
And there, just one man’s sacrifice
Will see my reign unmade.’
To finish you must understand
Your life is yours to give
And given freely by one man
The option not to live
But also for the seed to grow
It must be stolen too
So you must pay back what you owe
A debt is sorely due
You’ve reached the point of no return
But still one thing you lack
So use this orb, and you’ll discern
How death will bring you back.”
“What do you think it means?” I asked them.
Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 26. Part 2.”