This is a continuation of a story begun in the post “Chapter 1. Part 1.” If you enjoy it, please like and share it with others!
I felt a hard shove away from Teleon. He had pushed me out of the path of Chak’s charging frame. I rolled over just in time to see Chak drive his sword into Teleon’s belly.
Teleon dropped to the ground and clutched his stomach. The blood poured out of his wound and began to pool on the ground where I had planted the seed. I could hear him breathing heavily, and a ringing filled my ears. I could hear Mendrax screaming in protest, almost agony, but it was muffled and quiet. I heard Chak drop the sword and saw him fall to his knees, but it was blurry from the tears. Chak was clutching Teleon trying to stop the bleeding, obviously in control of himself again.
I heard Teleon whisper something to Chak, but I couldn’t make it out because of the ringing in my ears and the shrieks of Mendrax. One thing I did hear clearly was a last long breath from Teleon’s mouth.
I remember that breath, because as he exhaled everything went silent and dark for exactly one moment. I don’t know how long a moment actually is, but I know that this moment – when silence came and darkness fell – was the most painful moment of my life, and it felt like it would last for all eternity.
Then something exploded. Two things were happening at the same time.
One was a huge purple tree rocketing out of the ground. It shot into the air, twenty, thirty, forty feet high; it just kept climbing until its canopy was out of sight. The ground was rumbling, and there was a blaze of purple light in every direction. It scattered through the other plants in the room reflecting off of their gems. It knocked Pathena off balance and she fell to the ground next to me.
The other thing happening was something growing out of the sand just next to the new tree. The form of a man emerged and materialized. It was a large man, with proportions like Thrump, but taller and more muscular. First his feet, then his legs, then his torso built themselves together with a purple light. I realized it was not a man, but an Umbili. His skin was the exact same quality as the purple tree growing next to him; it was almost crystalline, more like glass than lightning like the other Umbili I had seen.
His face came into view just as the tree slowed its growth. He was astonishingly beautiful. He gleamed in the light, and he radiated confidence. His very presence was attractive.
There was one thing about him that didn’t fit: his eyes. At first glance they were kind and helpful, mesmerizing. But when you looked at them closely, they were unsettlingly empty. It was as if a beautiful shawl had been pulled over an endless abyss, a bottomless pit. His eyes were a bottomless pit.
His eyes made it perfectly clear to me who this was. This was Mendrax in bodily form. This was the Umbili who had sneaked into the forbidden realms of time and gained knowledge beyond his grasp. This was the dude who had tried to take control of the Syllogy but went mad with the power he gained. Teleon’s death had worked. It had given back a body to Mendrax.
Mendrax drew in a long breath, and the temperature in the room dropped a few degrees. He smiled at me sinisterly. I was still lying on my back, too afraid to move.
“Now then, Nicholas. What are we going to do with you?”
He held up a glassy arm and formed his hand as if he were choking someone. Nothing else happened.
Mendrax was distracted momentarily, and he looked at his hand. He reached forward again as if to strangle an imaginary someone in front of him. Chak stood up, glaring at Mendrax. Teleon’s body lay limp at his feet.
“What’s wrong Mendrax? Feeling a little powerless?” Chak said half taunting and half enraged by what he had just been forced to do.
Mendrax raised a finger to his temple and narrowed his eyes on Chak.
“You can’t read my mind anymore. You also can’t speak to me with yours if that’s what you were trying to do. You see Teleon’s death did something you hadn’t counted on. He was both a man and a Higher-up. Sure it gave you back your body, but it took away all those Higher-up powers you once had. No more special treatment Mendrax. You’re just like the rest of us now.”
Mendrax looked frightened for only a second. He clearly had not anticipated the loss of his Higher-up-like powers, though he knew that Teleon’s death instead of Nicholas’s would have to have some effect. He quickly regained his composure and strolled forward.
“Then I’ll just have to kill you all the old-fashioned way then regain them just as I did before,” he said smoothly.
There wasn’t a moment’s hesitation after these words, then Mendrax lunged forward at Chak. They were instantly engaged in a fierce hand-to-hand battle. No weapons, no tricks, only skill in the fight.
Chak was ready for Mendrax’s advance. He deflected the first three of Mendrax’s blows and delivered two of his own. Not a single punch was landed for the first thirty seconds of the fight. In that time I had grabbed Pathena’s hand and the Agnoscian Orb and pulled them both behind a nearby shrub of gems. I didn’t know all of what the orb was capable of, but I thought of something to try. We were partially hidden from the fight, but could still see everything clearly, so I sunk my hands into the orb again, I was getting comfortable with the cold sensation now, and focused on Mendrax. I willed with all my might that he would freeze. It worked pretty well. He was in mid back swing with a closed fist when he obviously met with unseen resistance. It was just for a second, but it was long enough for Chak to land a punch to Mendrax’s gut. I heard a crunching sound at the impact. Chak had cracked the glass-like body of his foe. There was a small spider web of flaws in Mendrax’s once perfect skin.
He staggered backward, but wasn’t knocked off his feet. He used the backward momentum to his advantage and did an impressive handspring to get away from Chak’s next kick. They squared back up to each other. Chak was obviously invigorated by landing the first blow.
Mendrax feinted to his left and Chak took the bait. Quickly pulling out of the fade, Mendrax dug his right shoulder into Chak’s path and caught the side of his cheek. Just as Chak was reaching up in reaction to the hit, Mendrax grabbed his wrist and wrenched it behind his back. Chak let out a gasp of pain, clearly caught off guard by this move. I tried again to interfere but it was no use. Mendrax was determined this time. He lifted Chak up off his feet and slammed him, back first, into the ground. Chak let out a loud cough and moan. The moan was just enough punctuation to make Mendrax laugh with superiority.
Chak took that opportunity to spin his legs into Mendrax’s bringing him to the ground as well. This time it was Chak’s turn to twist around Mendrax’s arm, and a flurry of spindly cracks raced their way into Mendrax’s shoulder. Chak glanced around and saw what he was looking for. He pushed Mendrax hard into a red bush. The effect was exactly what Chak wanted. Instantly, Mendrax’s fall reversed itself and he fell quickly upward into Chak’s outstretched fist. Chak used this impressive blow to knock Mendrax into a blue plant just next to the red. His body slowed down quickly, and I could see the look of pain and concentration mingled on Mendrax’s face as he fought the effects of the time plants. He was on his hands and knees now, about to stand up, when Chak brought both arms down onto his back. Mendrax collapsed and I saw fine glass dust exit his mouth.
Chak looked around for Pathena and me, and as he did Mendrax staggered back to his feet. Chak saw it out of the corner of his eye and let loose a roundhouse kick, but Mendrax was ready and caught Chak’s foot. He threw it back the direction it had come from, and Chak was off balance and backwards. Mendrax rushed forward in that moment and tackled Chak from behind.
They were now a tangled ball and neither ever had a chance to get back on their feet. They were falling all over each other, landing punches and kicks, when they rolled into a blue tree. The slowing effect was enough for Mendrax to get the upper hand, having experienced it moments earlier. He escaped from the plant just quickly enough to put Chak in a chokehold. I tried desperately to get him loose with the orb, but Mendrax’s mind was set. I switched tactics. I focused on Chak and tried to force him into pressing on a small cluster of cracks nestled at the base of Mendrax’s neck. Amazingly, it worked. Chak managed to get one finger pressed firmly into the cluster, and the crunch of fracturing glass boomed in the air. Mendrax howled in pain and let him loose. I relaxed my focus and Chak regained control.
They both scrambled to their feet and squared off again. They each had injuries and sides they were favoring, but looked tough all the same.
Abruptly, Chak started forward and Mendrax extended a strong left hook into his jaw. Chak spun around and landed face down on the ground. He wasn’t moving, and his light wasn’t flickering. The fight was over. I couldn’t believe what had just happened.
Mendrax let out a little laugh of contempt and spit on Chak’s back. He turned toward me. He was walking slowly, and dancing as he did. He obviously got a rush of pleasure from defeating Chak. He shook his head from side to side, and it tilted as he did. The effect was quite unnerving.
I glanced to my side and saw that Pathena had gone. I wanted to look for her, but I was focusing on Mendrax, trying to slow his motion toward me.
It then occurred to me to try and use the orb on the objects in the room. What if this orb gave me the power to control things the way Plink had suggested all humans could?
I looked at the blue tree that Chak and Mendrax had just been caught in. I tried with all my might to rip the crystal leaves off of the tree and cover Mendrax’s body with them.
I couldn’t believe it. It worked.
I couldn’t believe it so much that I stopped focusing on them and they fell from Mendrax, freeing him from their slowing effects. He lurched toward me, but I regained my focus quickly enough to freeze him in mid reach. He was strong, and was fighting against the power of the time leaves, so I imagined a strong wind kicking up just in front of him. The sand on the ground blew around him and created a tight cloud. It gave me enough time to relocate out of his nearing grasp.
He was gaining speed now, so I quickly mind-grabbed a red shrub and ripped it from the ground, roots and all. I imagined it flying onto Mendrax’s head, and it obeyed my thoughts effortlessly. Mendrax instantly reversed his course, all the way to where he had finished off Chak. That was when I realized where Pathena had gone. She was waiting for Mendrax by Chak’s body, and she had my sword in her hand. Just as Mendrax finished his reversal, she plunged the sword with all her might into the cluster of cracks Chak had agitated earlier.
It was the only place on Mendrax’s body weak enough to yield to the blade. Pathena drove the sword downward into Mendrax’s chest, and a symphony of shatters met our ears. Mendrax was screaming, howling in pain, and the same bright purple light as the tree was pouring out of him.
When that light hit me, it’s brightness, combined I think with the effects of the orb, my grief over Teleon and Chak, my relief at the sureness of Mendrax’s defeat, and the general exhaustion from the whole adventure hit me all at once, and my mind faded out of focus. I went limp and collapsed on the ground, unconscious.
Want to keep reading? Go to the next section! >>> “Chapter 28. Part 1.”