Friday, August 17, 2007

Caught Up, This is the Last of the Original File (15)

There was a crack- a fissure of light sprung up deep in the cornfields. Sparks shone and showered down, Clyde almost believed that a fire should have started in that field, and it would erupt in flame. What could next happen? He stepped on the brake and pulled the car over to the side of the road.

He jumped out of the car and flattened up quickly as a red pick up came screeching past- honking at Clyde’s unruly driving. Lucas had slumped off the back seat and down to the floor where the front seat had been, but he was still unconscious.

Was he ever really conscious, those lights did…

The thought did not finish as the light exploded again- and then a couple of seconds later it expanded one last time before it extinguished. That last time was the brightest and flared out, Clyde thought that a blast of heat would come at him in waves, but a cold one rushed over him instead. He started to walk closer.

* * *
Rubbing her eyes, Sam stood up. She had tripped on something coming through the… whatever it was, and had tripped on a rock of some sort as the sky blinded her with its blueness. Then, she tripped and found herself in the mud of a cornfield. She stood up and wiped off her dirty clothes.

A green light appeared and she turned to see Lapis pop out from behind the cornstalks. He wore his green jacket but his shoes had been turned in for red ruby slippers. He danced for her.

“There’s no place like home, there’s no place like home.” He cackled and slapped his knee. “Oh- that joke is such a good one; ya should see your face! So you found your way out the maze have ya missy?” He sat on some rolled up stalks that had been barreled over by some animal.

“What do you want Lapis, I did not call you here? This is not your domain.”

“True, true. But, you rememmber the bargain don’t ya? And, it was my domain you freely entered back in the prison, and the one you finally have just left.”

“What do you mean- that was all yours?” She froze and her eyes bulged, where were Billy and Tanya, cold they still be in Lapis’s white world. Sam turned suddenly, “Billy…Tanya…”

“Don’t worry about them, I just slowed time- they will be along quite soon I trust. The Gate is strong.” He tipped his hat to the white fissure that Sam was not looking at, and that was almost bad for Lapis.

Sam rushed him, but he was too quick and jumped back. He was up a stalk, then he bounced from one to another, all the while the wind forced Sam to bat away leaning, beating stalks of corn. “Lapis you are working with Tyr aren’t you?”

“Traditions are traditions- I work within it. You did not heed those traditions entering my land- you forfeited your rights in that accord. Don’t ya guardians know anything of Our universe? I am not above or below the universal law- I abide it. You should understand that- you can’t help but do right.” He clicked his fingers and the wind died down the stalks stopped beating at her. “The one who names me is the one who gets my work- I can not deny anyone entrance to my caves or Our worlds who honors me so. You shirked that honor- you did not bring it to a absolute destructive end or you would have gone someplace even he could not have found you.” He thumbed over at Billy pushing through a white fold in the air- it was corn fields all around him, but for this tiny patch of air there was a vertical white sliver. “Tyr wanted you in that other realm to find the Gate.”

“You helped him!”

“Traditions- have ya not heard a word I’ve been saying? You bucked them, he honored them. You screwed yourself by not following standard relationship with the rites of passage into the caves. By my right I could have kept you for five hundred years in the most unpleasant places. That world Nothingness, has things it that would scare stop you and drain the color from you body until you blended into the scenery. Eventually, you would have dissolved into the environment never to reemerge.” She was about to rush him again, but he raised his hand as if he were about to conduct an orchestra, and an entire section of cornstalks whipped to within an inch of beating down on her. “Remember all the creators in creation that don’t fight for good or evil- we just are. We have a role and we do it without any prejudice- well, not much at least.”

Sam stepped away from Lapis, and the cornstalks relaxed. “Why come here now and tell me this? Are you going to whisk me away into your mazes? Trap until I can not but be driven mad.”

He chuckled again. “No, no. Before, when I was saying I don’t heed good and evil- that I only pay attention to duty, honor, and tradition,” Sam nodded, “well, part of me knows that what Tyr is doing is not in the best interest of the living. I have come to tell you that you should not do what your brother wants. That you should move away from that thought and go straight for nexus.”

Lapis leapt up and turned to leave into the green light from where he came.

“Wait.” He stopped and looked at her over her shoulder. “What do you mean? Billy has no idea where we are-“

With a large sigh, Lapis said, “It’s not him right? He is not your brother, or at least I hope not- that is all I can say. And, before you ask where you are- for I know that to be on your lips- know that you are at home and that brother is right around the corner.” The green light shone but Lapis’s voice wafted out, “Next time you use my caves have a good knock-knock joke to lighten the mood, I am not all bad just driven by tradition.” With that an explosion of sound slammed into Sam and she was knocked down into the same patch of dirt and mud that she had started in- except that this time Billy came in on top of her followed by Tanya.
12/8/6 (2-draft) 8:50pm- 9:25pm
Something was thrashing through the corn toward them while the three travelers untangled themselves, something larger than just a rabbit or a stray dog. At least if it was a garden variety, non-mythical hound. Samantha heard it coming and kicked and shoved at the two bodies on top of her. She didn’t bother to silence their squeaks and squawks of pain and protest, the portal Billy had created would have drawn enough attention. She wriggled free and sprang to her feet, moving to stand between Billy and whatever approached. Despite his new-found power and very tentative control over it, he was still her charge, still hers to protect.

The source of the sound was ten feet away when Billy and Tanya heard it. They grew silent quickly and stood slowly. Among the thrashing and stomping they could now hear huffing breath and a growl that could have been human speech. Sam glanced over her shoulder quickly at the other two.

* * *
Billy supposed he heard the sounds coming from the corn since bursting into the field from the other world, but it didn’t register until whatever it was that was making the noise was nearly on top of them. He got to his feet as quickly as he could, and almost fell down again. He was woozy and bone tired. The stump at the end of his arm ached terribly and his head pounded.

He fought the dizziness and the weariness and stood up straight. Samantha glanced back at them, her face grim. Tanya was to his right, up and seemingly ready for action. A roughly man-sized form could be seen between the green-gold stalks rushing toward them. He wanted to do something, but his mind was a blank.

Billy’s vision swam as he was hit by another wave of dizziness and fatigue. The figure crashed into their tiny clearing. It did not stop, but charged straight at Samantha and plucked her off the ground. She screamed, but didn’t fight back. Billy blinked his eyes into focus and saw a disheveled and relieved Clyde squeezing his sister so hard both their faces were turning red.

“Put me down you big oaf,” Samantha said.

After a moment he did, and then looked at the other two, fear and disbelief mixed on his face. Tanya rushed forward and gave him a hug.

“Where’s Lucas,” she asked, sounding worried and impatient.

“He’s back in the car,” Clyde replied. “We had a run-in with some Sirens and he’s a little worse for wear.”

A look of worry passed over her face. “Will he be all right?”

“He should be, but…”

He trailed off and looked to Billy, who looked more green than their surroundings. The older man moved to the younger and clapped him gently on the shoulder. Clyde looked him over a minute before speaking.

“I’m sure it’s no small feat, what you did, buy my sister is back and I am grateful for it.”

“I had to try,” Billy said, and almost fell under the weight of Clyde’s hand.

The Guardian caught him and held him up at the shoulder, supporting most of the Gate’s weight.

“We should get back to the car,” he said before leading them through the field.

No one noticed the single crow circling overhead.
12/12/06 3:24-4:03 p.m.

The day flew.

Talking and hugging and talking pervaded anything else that was pressing. The Sirens, the world of whiteness, the dragon, the driving to the north and the run in with Lapis- it all went by in a quick blink and all they were left with what was going to happen next.

They had found a path in the cornfield and pulled the car in. Billy decided he needed to rest before he see what was wrong with Lucas, but made sure that he would remain sleeping for the time being. Tanya had not left Lucas’s side- he was spread out on a blanket, huddled near the car on the ground. They built a low fire; Tanya fell asleep along with Billy- who had strangely gone mute with tiredness. Then, the day turned to evening. Across from the fire, Clyde looked Sam over again and the moon cast pure white light in a cloudless sky.

“I had no idea if I would ever see you again.” Sam covered up with a blanket.

“Same here.”

Clyde grabbed a log and put it on the fire. It blazed up quietly, just a snap here and there, a spark, and the dry fizzle of the twigs extinguishing. “Kind of strange, talking to Billy and having him know us. I’m proud of him; he has taken this all in stride.”

“This is nothing. We’ll see if Billy can handle what happens next.”

“And that is?”

“It is whatever comes after tonight.”

“C’mon Sam, you know I don’t like this cryptic mumbo jumbo.”

“Have you been watching the lines of fate? Have you seen the twists of uncertainity raging?” A slow, knowing nod came from Clyde as he stared away from the fire. “Whatever comes next is going to be awful. I know it. I wish we had Annie here, it would be nice to have the seer with us.” She rose from he inclined position and slid closer to Clyde and whispered, “Where is she? I know you said she went to go finish some business, but splitting up the gate from a seer that does not make sense to me. Especially if the gate knows it is a gate, or is at least guessing it is something more than human.”



“Billy, the gate, is not an it, it is a ‘he.’”

“Oh ya, well that’s not what Tyr and his minions think.”

With a shrug from his shoulders, “Well, I think it is important to think of him as human, as a man, as a person who embodies humanities hope against the onslaught of hell.”

“You make it sound so dire. But, I can see your point about keeping Billy human. We have to keep him tied to himself and not grow out of control with this power. I think I can do this, he has a bit of a crush on me still.” Clyde raises his eyebrows as if to say, watch it little sis, you’re playing a tricky role. ” Sam rolled back to her blanket and looked over Clyde now the way she had Billy earlier. “You’ve changed a bit, haven’t you?”

“Being hunted does that to you. I don’t find quite as much humor in the day as I did yesterday, but don’t worry, when this is done I will be back. After, we have won.”

It was Sam’s turn to throw a log on the fire, and she put an extra one on incase they fell asleep. “And Annie?”

Clyde screwed up his eyes, ran his hand agressively through his hair, and stretched out his back. “I don’t know. She seemed to be very eager for us to find you. She provided me with new Ray bans and sent us on our merry way.” Hooking his finger in the direction of a sleeping Billy, Clyde said, “He seemed to have a reading on your whereabouts, so it seemed important for us to track you.”

“Sorry, I don’t mean to doubt our good friends intentions. It’s just…it’s just…” Sam shrugged he shoulders.

“I know I am lost as well. How could this all be happening? And not only that, but how can it be so advanced as to have only eight guardians left.”

“So few.” Sam exhaled, closed her eyes and curled up on her blanket, silent. “Annie said there were two north of here, still alive?”

“From the last time I talked to her. She was working on getting everyone to a meeting place. A regrouping so to speak. Before Tanya was whisked away, she was in contact with guardians as well, so I eager to see if she contact them again once she is rested from your ordeals.” Clyde wrapped his arms around his legs and his had on top of them. “A dragon, that would have had me running six ways at once.”

“Nothing I ever want to repeat. What department are Lucas and Tanya apart of?”

“How did they describe it, they are sniffers.”

“What,” a giggle escaped, “that sounds ludicrous.”

“Well, from what I figure they are the line of defense that is subtler than us. They attempt to assess problems before the plans even take place. They ferret out information, almost as if they are our preemptive strike for information. Somehow they never saw any of this coming till it was too late as well.” Silenced grew between them, it last ten minutes, the zone was almost physical, a barrier, then, “She knows the truth when she hears it. She couldn’t figure out about Annie either, she had her doubts just like you did. I stuck up for her; we have too deep a history.”

No response came back from Sam. Silence began to grow again, then, “She will be helpful moving forward, to know who we can trust. Clyde, do you think they will reawaken the Others, our replacements.”

Silence again, this time maybe five minutes, the fire begins to die down a bit. The moon has crested and begun its descent under the horizon with no sun in sight. The insects and animals have died away, except for the occasional chirping of a bird or cricket, then, “The sleeping guardians, do we even know they are alive, we don’t know anyone besides ourselves who are alive right now. I think we can only count on ourselves for now. We are what we have and that is all.”

Then complete silence.

************* (who knows the date this was written)
Sam had begun to nod off when Clyde finally broke the silence. “Tomorrow we should get to the college right away. That’s where Annie was leading us. That’s where we’ll find the next piece of the puzzle.”

She began to agree with him and then something stopped her. It had been such a long day, and she couldn’t remember what it was, but something told her no. There was a warning, but it wouldn’t come to mind. Clyde was looking at her now, waiting for a response.

“Well,” he said, “what do you think.”

A wind rushed through the cornfield suddenly, whipping the stalks of corn. Then she remembered Lapis and his warning. Despite her not following tradition, he had given her some advice. She shook her head.

“I don’t know what we should do, but whatever we decide on, we need to be careful. If we’re even a little suspicious of Annie, maybe we should stay away.” She wanted to tell him more, about Lapis and his double crossing, but she knew she couldn’t. The secret planted the seed of doubt in her breast and she knew there would be nothing to pull it out.

“I still think she can be trusted,” he replied. “I just think there is something else going on, something behind the scenes, in between realities, that we’re not aware of.”

“The fact that you’d bring up the Sleeping Guardians gives me cause for alarm. When was the last time they were awakened?” Her voice was getting louder and more strained. She looked back to the others, remembered where they all were, and lowered her voice. “We are approaching a situation we know nothing about, with a person of the utmost importance. We need to go carefully. We have no idea what waits ahead, good or bad, and the lines of fate suggest bad.”

He listened to all of this without making a sound, but the expression on his face spoke volumes. As she spoke, his brows furrowed more and more, and his face became of mask of stern disbelief. He stared at her hard for a time, looking for the changes that had taken place while she was gone, the changes that caused her to suddenly question his judgement.

“I can’t believe you’re saying this,” he said. “We’ve been on the same page this whole time, and now we’re completely out of sync. We need to go on, to go to the college. The journey is taking us there.”

“And the lines of fate are worse here than the city, and the they turn into more bad luck the closer we get to that town.”

“They’ll get bad wherever we go. Tyr is after Billy, and he will send one threat after another until the gate unlocks a doorway into his nightmare realm.”

A log in the fire split, its two sides crunching the embers below. Both siblings jumped at the sound. Samantha was about to speak, but Clyde cut her off.

“It has been a trying couple of days for us all. Get some sleep. I will set a barrier. We can discuss this in the morning.”

She opened her mouth to say something else, but nodded instead. Clyde got up and went about the work of creating the barrier, and Samantha curled up with her back to the fire and settled into a fitful sleep.

When Samantha finally woke, Clyde was up and moving about their makeshift camp. He had gotten up before dawn and went back to check on the others. Billy lay on his back, snoring softly and looking healthy despite the wear of the last couple days. Tanya slept in a sitting position up against the car with Lucas’ head in her lap and his body stretched out before her. She looked much older than she had when they first met only days before. Being hunted can do that to you, Clyde thought. Lucas was looking a little better, and Clyde hoped the effects of the sirens were finally wearing off.

Bill and Samantha woke when the sun finally broke free of the horizon. Tanya and Lucas got up a short while later. Bill hunkered down next to the remains of the fire to warm himself. The fire had died in the night, but the embers were still hot. He reached out his arms toward the warmth, but drew back his right almost immediately to hide his deformity. The others came to the fire too, and they stood by waiting. Off in the field a crow called out, but it received no reply.

They all looked off in the direction of the crow’s call, Lucas the longest, before turning back to the cooling embers.

“We we’re moving out, right,” Lucas said. He was staring at nothing and rubbing his pale hands together. “It shouldn’t take us too long now to get to that town, the one Annie wanted us to go to.”

“Yes, that’s where we’re headed,” said Clyde. “We should stick to the plan, get to De Kalb and then wait for word from Annie. She’s bound to contact us once we get there. She might even be there already.”

“But we don’t know she was going there,” Samantha said. “She never said she was going to be there, right?” There was a slow, grudging nod from Clyde. “How do we know Tyr isn’t onto our plans, or tracking us right now. He could be there waiting for us.”

“How would he know of our plans,” Clyde asked. “The security of the guardians hasn’t been breached in a millennia! There’s no way he could be onto us.”

Because our security has been breached before, because we don’t know what we’re walking into, and because Billy has been awakened to some of his potential we need to be more cautious than ever,” Samantha snapped.

Billy broke in, speaking up before Clyde or the others had a chance to. “Who is Tyr? Why does he want to get at me so much? And why are you still keeping me in the dark about everything?”

The Guardians looked at each other solemnly. Their look said much to each other. Tanya and Lucas stood side by side, not saying anything. They knew that as sniffers it was not their place to reveal Billy’s identity and true nature. After a very long pause, Clyde nodded and Samantha turned to Billy.

“Lord Tyr is a ruthless, cunning and ancient enemy of the Guardians and the forces of light. In his realm his power is unrestrained, and he seeks your power to add to his own.”

Bill know he had been told almost nothing. “But why, whey does he want whetever power I have?”

Another look passed between the two that had been watching over him for so long. This time, Sam nodded and Clyde turned to him.

“We don’t know at this point,” Clyde said, but it was apparent to all that he was holding back.

“But –“ Bill began.

“We need to know what we’re walking into,” said Clyde, cutting him off and turning to the sniffers. “Do you sense danger ahead? Do you see conflict?”

Bill was angry, but he knew he would get no further. Lucas and Tanya turned to the direction of the town and appeared to see through the corn, to the very heart of their destination. Once they had a fix on the location, their eyes rolled back in unison and they began to inhale deeply through their nostrils. Bill had never seen anything like it. Their movements were precise and completely in sync. Clyde and Samantha had seen this only once, so long ago they had forgotten the strangeness of it. This lasted several minutes until they emerged from their trance in unison.

“I detected no great conflict ahead,” Lucas declared.

Tanya gave him a shocked look. “No great conflict? There is conflict coming and it will meet us there. How could you have not detected it?”

“I’ll admit, there is some struggle ahead, but it is nothing we will not easily overcome.”

“What are you talking about?” She was angry and close to shouting. “We’ll be going into a trap!”

“I’m telling you what I sensed, and it is nothing to be concerned with.” His tone had grown cold. “Perhaps your sense was affected by your recent ordeal in that wasteland you were trapped in.”

Tanya looked shocked and hurt. “I’ve never, never been wrong before,” she muttered.

Clyde broke in before the argument went further. “So we know no more, for certain, than we did before. It’s all we have to go off of, and I say we go for it.”

“I still say we shouldn’t go,” Samantha said. “Either way, they both detected some struggle ahead.”

Now it was time for Samantha and Clyde to go back and fourth again. Finally, Tanya suggested they all vote on the matter. A decision was made, with Bill breaking the tie. They all set off toward the town once again, and a single crow called in the distance.
Written at various times between 3-12-07 and 3-15-07

More of the Now Gripping Story, Plus Corn! (14)

Wife!!? the thought ripped across Nemain’s mind. It startled her for a second, but she quickly righted herself as she had dipped in altitude.

What is it you want, Husband? She was currently four hundred feet above a green Honda civic, it was traveling up a two-lane highway between cornfields. She had been lazily pacing the car since it started up and left its concealment some time ago. If they looked up all they would see was a black crow, and if they looked up frequently then they should just think there are a lot of black crows tag team following them. But, they wouldn’t, Nemain has done countless times for her Husband and Lord.

Our Lord would like to know how the Guardians are faring and if there is any sign that the Gate has come back to them.

No, Husband. Tell him that it is just the two of them, though I have not checked in recently.

You don’t know then, let’s do it now before I go back to him. She could hear the condescending lip he was giving her, also she heard fear. Fear that Lord Tyr would be displeased, she thought her Husband weak in not believing her. But, it was her place to do his bidding, for the moment. War was not upon them, but soon it would be and she would lead some of Lord Tyr’s armies as was her place to do so- her husband would just have to watch as he was not allowed outside his realm. He shuffled off this mortal coil some millennium ago.

She steeled herself as she began to connect with the Guardian who had been affected by the call of the Sirens. An embedded signal was transmitting from his mind that only those who knew of its existence could tap. She had stolen herself inside his head, found out his name was Lucas, and then had listened as the other Guardian had laid out his plans to find others of their kind.

Nemain was able to force her will to make Lucas speak, she had asked where the Gate had gone. After a strange look backwards, the front seat having been ripped out by all appearances and Lucas was sitting in the back seat, he assumed that trauma played in the matter of the forgetting of what had occurred.

“The seats gone with Billy, Luke- those sirens on the car really messed with you, huh?”

“Uh, yeah.” She had pulled back and left Lucas into the coma that he was really in. One induced by the Sirens, Nemain kept his consciousness locked up inside his mind. Her puppet she liked to think of him as.

Entering his mind was like stampeding through the fog, partly because her Husband had piggy backed inside with her. This was not his domain, he did not know the secrets of the mind; he could not fathom how one’s mental self was made up or how it could be destroyed from the inside. She knew.

Bringing about consciousness was easier this time. Nemain had full control of his functions that she had previously mapped them out. She picked up his breathing, increased blood flow, and opened his eyes. Inside, the car had not changed, there was a couple of plastic bags worth of junk food where the front seat should have been, the other one must bought those at that store they had stopped at. Nemain moved Lucas up in the seat, his muscles nearly refused having been dormant only a little while.

Why do they make this Guardians bodies subject to mortal infirmaries? Nemain thought and with that moved Lucas forward, hovering over the missing front seat.

“How are you doing?” asked the Guardian who seemed startled by Lucas moving forward. He had dropped his soda down into his lap- luckily the lid stayed on and only a few drips wetted his pants and shirt.

“Fine, I think.” Rubbing his head, Neamin looked around. No Gate over in the front seat, obviously no Gate was lying next to me. Satisfied, Husband?

Yes…wait find out where they are headed, this fool has been out for awhile and does not seem to know what is currently happening.

How did… Nemain stopped herself. Of course, he was poking around inside the head, the subconsciousness. She underestimated the reason why he wanted to come on the trip. It was a ruse to get inside the Guardian. You knew the Guardian would not be here.

Of course, now shut up Wife and find out where they are going so I can go to Tyr with the information, his mind ripped into hers, she had forgotten how forceful he could be when in full command of his powers. Tyr must of released him from his oaths, he had not told her. It was her who was now afraid.

“I have been out for awhile, where are we?” The question seemed simple enough but it did earn a sideways glance.

“See the corn?”


“That’s where we are.”

Short and to the point, true there were a bunch of farms stack next to each other with towns sprinkled around them. “Are we going anywhere specific, I mean.”

Clyde rubbed his ray ban sunglasses and looked around, after what seemed like a minute he relaxed. “This may seem weird to you Luke…what the hell am I saying like there hasn’t been enough weird shit going on today… but I think we are being watched or at the least followed. I thought we had lost them, but I keep getting lines of fate, black and twisted hovering or radiating around us.”

We should leave!

We have not finished!

“I…uh…have been out a while huh? I haven’t noticed anything. None of that black fate stuff.” She settled back and had Lucas sit down in the backseat again, cluctching his head as if a sudden pain had caused his pulling away and not what Clyde had just said.

“How would you?” Panic, panic, this is a real damn Guardian here, he knows. “You’ve been out for most of the last day. You missed Annie telling us to head to Dekalb, there should be some guardian there waiting for us. Just outside the student union of the NIU. I am not sure where that is, but I am sure we shall figure it out.” Clyde looked back and Nemain assumed he had winked at Lucas behind his shades.

Dekalb at the school is that enough for you. Can you not feel his power? This is why I have left him alone. He suspects.

He is too foolish to suspect, her Husband sent back, he is only a Guardian- easily dealt with. We have enough, the destination- I will report this to Lord Tyr and arrange a welcoming committee for their arrival. She thought she could hear him laugh, and wondered if Lord Tyr had done more than restore her Husband. She wondered for the first time if she had fallen out of favor with her Lord and that her Husband and filled the void. Or did he just push her out.

I am going to let go of this Guardian, he needs rest and we can use him later for this ‘homecoming’ you are going to arrange for them.

Yes, let’s go. Eagerness to leave, he still needed her, as he always will- she would make sure of that.

With that she was a raven again- having emerged from the fog of Lucas’s head she was free to fly. Her Husband was still in her mind, staying and viewing the world from heights she saw. Nemain kept a connection with Lucas, she could sense his mind and keep him from waking, but that was it. It was good enough for her, both times she had taken control of the one compromised Guardian, the other scarred her with the power that flowed through him. While he talked about black and twisted fate following the car, all she could she with her raven sensitive eyes was the radiating red surge of power that completely blocked out the car. It was like a red dot rolling down the highway, Nemain chose not to watch with that form of Seeing and decided on the ravens simple eyesight. It was more than enough to follow the car.

You know Wife, I do love you and always will. By now you have guessed that our Lord has awakened me completely- I will lead his armies from the depths once the Gate is dealt with. It is for you to deal with the Gate- do not think you have been demoted for we are a team. One can not breath without the other.

She shuddered and dipped again. You were always the talker, Husband. I believe that is how you won me over and had me grant you your powers so many years ago, in a land that no longer exists.

You will always be the beauty, since you are the goddess and I the mortal that foolish fell in love you- I have sacrificed my existence to support Lord Tyr in his claim. I have no choice, nor did I ever since the moment I laid eyes on you. I leave you now, I hear Him calling, my love.

The absence of her Husband made her dip once again. Nemain knew he loved her, but she also knew that he needed her- she endowed him with power, she could be his Achilles heel. She knew where he was vulnerable, of course if they won then they could the most powerful pair in the new realm and the Lord may look down on them with favor. So many avenues were open now with her Husband released and in play, and she had many hours ahead of her to think them through.

* * *
Clyde looked over his shoulder to say something to Lucas and saw him comatose once again. Clyde looked back to the road. It looked greasy black out there, like an oil slick. Something did not feel right, no actually nothing felt right.

Sam, I need you back with me for something as simple as keeping me company and telling me that my sorry ass will make it through this. I wish I knew if driving to middle of nowhere was going to help anything. He laughed, loudly. He looked up as he laughed and saw a raven. It appeared to drop for a moment but then gained altitude. He turned away forgetting about the bird. Who knew Chicago was so close to nowhere? I have to talk to somebody, iron out these apprehensions.

Clyde reached up and pushed in a button on the left side frame of his ray bans. They clicked and whirred and image popped up in his field of vision.

“Annie I need to talk.”
8/30/06 6:30pm-7:30pm 3rd edit
Annie’s hair was bright pink, with electric blue down by the roots. She looked flustered and for a moment the hair flashed a platinum blond.

“Well make it snappy,” she said. “I’m trying to coordinate everyone’s movements on the grid, scrye the location of the Gate, and figure out just what the hell the other side is attempting.”

Clyde’s apprehensions gave way and he recapped their odd journey from the city. Annie listened, nodding and grunting appropriately, while she processed everything she could as she tried to multitask. When he got to the part about the sirens she looked concerned. At the mention of the raven she looked worried.

“And now we’re driving through the land of corn,” he concluded.

“Clyde…what’s Lucas doing now?”

“He’s sleeping, I guess. Something about those sirens really got to him. What I’m more concerned about is how all the lines of luck around me look like they’re ready to break.”

“Is that bird still flying after you?”

He checked the mirror. The large black bird still trailed the car. That’s funny, he thought. Why didn’t I really notice that before? As he watched in the mirror, the black shape flew arrow-straight. Alarms went off in his mind.

“Yeah, it’s still there,” he said.

They both knew well that ravens were among Tyr’s favored, and he had more than a few subjects that could easily take that shape.

* * *
“You can get us home,” Tanya asked, her voice full of hope.

“I think so,” Billy replied. “It’s all there, past the clouds in my brain. It’s just so hard to get past the barriers.”

“It’ll come,” Samantha said, “just concentrate.”

“Yes Billy, concentrate hard. I can’t take much more of this place,” Tanya whined.

Samantha shot her a glance that said shut up! Bill took a deep breath and closed his eyes. His eyelids fluttered and his eyeballs darted back and forth as he searched his brain for the knowledge he sought. He took a deep breath, let it out, and smiled.

“I have it,” he said, full of confidence.

A grin spread across the faces of both women. He took two steps forward and reached out. As he concentrated on his task his eyes began to glow and the hair on his arms and neck stood up. His hand traced a pattern in the air and then a crack formed in the vast emptiness around them. He went to it and willed it to grow larger.

Beyond the opening was tall green stalks of corn, the leaves starting to show some yellow. He stepped back and surveyed the portal.

“It’s not exactly where I wanted to be, but it’ll do,” he told the others.

He waved for the women to go first, unable to suppress his smile. They walked through and he followed, feeling like he was pushing through a wall of Jell-O. And then there they were, in a field of bright afternoon sun.

* * *
Annie continued to look concerned, trying to think of what to do about Clyde’s company. Something about the bird, and Lucas’ behavior was nagging at her.

“You said Lucas was sleeping? Has he been acting funny?”

“A little, but the sirens hit him pretty bad.”

“Clyde, I…” A shimmer ran over her scrying bowl. She looked down, not believing what she saw. “Oh my God! They’re back!”
9/8/06 12:01 p.m. – 12:37 p.m.

The Return to the Story (13)

This is the return to the story after a 1.5 year gap, which was facilitated by Matt, thank you very much

The skeleton man called again and the horses whinnied nerviously. Already their sound was being absorbed by the mists that swallowed the world around them. The beast turned now toward the sound, its twin trunks sniffing the air in opposite directions. Samantha urged Tanya and Billy onto the thin, rocky bridge. The opposite edge of the chasm was just visible.

The bridge was wide enough to form a tight single-file line. Tanya was first, arms held out to keep her balance. Bill followed, his mind split between watching the path and thinking of a way to escape this realm. Sam brought up the rear, glancing every few steps back at the beast. It was still occupied, scenting the air furiously. Its long whip-like tail swished absently through the air, coming dangerously close to the small party.

Samantha heard a crumbling of rock and a scream. She turned to see Tanya tipping to the side as loose rock fell away below them. Bill grabbed her just in time, but almost went over himself. Samantha edged over to the two and the ground began to shake. They then heard the eerie giggle. They froze on the bridge and looked back as one.

The monstrosity had turned back toward them and it was leaning over the edge, reaching out with its trunks. It couldn’t quite reach, and the creature took a tentative step out onto the rock. All three felt the bridge shudder slightly. The trunks swung at them again, reaching desperately.

“Go now,” Samantha thundered.

They scrambled toward the other side. The beast inched out a little farther and slammed a clawed paw onto the rock. Large chunks broke away from the bottom of the bridge and fell into the abyss.

Tanya stumbled to the opposite side and fell, panting heavily. The beast moved farther still onto the bridge, uncertainty fighting hunger. Bill practically fell on top of Tanya. Samantha stopped at the base of the bridge and turned. She fought back her fear and growing tiredness and concentrated on the few lines of luck that drifted though the barren landscape. She found what she wanted and pulled hard with her will, bending it to the point of breaking. The line held, but the bridge didn’t, and the beast realized, too late, that it was going to fall.

It shrieked like a frightened child and tumbled into nothingness. The sound of its cry echoed off the canyon walls and lingered long after its creator. Samantha turned and fell in a heap.

“That was too close,” she said. “We need a way out of here.”

“And fast,” Tanya agreed, now sitting up.

Bill said nothing. He sat still, staring into the mist, deep in concentration. Slowly, realization dawned on his face. He turned to them, excited now.

“I think I’ve figured it out,’ he said.

“Figured what out,” Samantha asked.

“How to get home.”
8-17-06 1:57 p.m.-2:37 p.m.

Special Edition Bonus Materials (12)

Begin Matt’s weeklong writing period, the last section before the story’s year and a half hiatus.
“I think we should walk for a while,” Samantha said.

“Yes, that makes sense,” the coachman agreed.

Tanya looked hesitant. Bill nodded slowly, understanding spreading across his face.

“But why? I don’t see why we can’t ride,” Tanya said.

“We should try to keep the horses as fresh as possible,” the coachman said. “Just because we haven’t come across anything out here doesn’t mean we won’t.”

“Oh, ok.”

They picked up the trail along the fissure. Samantha and Bill walked up front, followed by Tanya. The coachman was in the rear leading the horses by the reigns. Tanya watched as the Guardian and her charge fell into step with each other. Her skin was still pink and raw in some places, but she felt pretty back to normal. Periodically, she would probe the vastness of the landscape for any sings of life. Each time there was nothing but a gray fuzziness.

As they walked, Billy glanced out of the corner of his eyes at Samantha. He tried to come up with something to say, but his mind was full of images. In one part of his mind he replayed the events of the previous day. The rest of his mind was full of places, people and events that were foreign. In some images he saw people rushing frantically around him, signs of battle littered the countryside. In others he was alone, surveying a pristine land spread before him. In others, visions that chilled his spine, he stood before a throne of bone. Atop the throne was a man, wickedly handsome, with firelight dancing in his eyes. In some visions this man was smiling, a hand outstretched to Bill. In others he was giving the order for Bill’s death.
12-8-04 10:21-11:29
Yet his mind sang with the sweet sounds of his new power.
“How are you handling all this,” Samantha said, still looking forward.

The question pushed all the images away for a time. “It’s confusing. I see…strange people and places. I see you and Clyde now in my childhood. Here and there I can see what you might have done for me. And I see a man on a throne of bones. I don’t ever want to meet that man, but I have a feeling that one day I must.”

“That I don’t know. Annie’s the one with the sight. I get it in flashes sometimes. Many of the Guardian sisters do, but I can’t control it.”

They continued walking. Billy looked into the corners of his mind, finding some areas dark and hazy, while others were very clear. His stomach rumbled, but he did not notice. Samantha heard it. She looked over at Billy, frowning. Her pace slowed, and then she was walking alongside Tanya.

“I don’t know how long Billy can keep going,” Samantha said, keeping her voice low. “He needs food and water, and so far we haven’t come across either.”

“Yeah, I hadn’t thought of that. What should we do?”

“I don’t know. We better hope that we come to a way out of this place soon.”

The horses whinnied behind them, and the coachman made soothing sounds. Their noises continued, and they began stamping their hooves. Samantha and Tanya stopped and turned back to the coachman. He had stopped a few paces back and was stroking the horses’ faces.

“What’s the matter,” Samantha said.

He turned his skeletal face toward them. His fearsome grin and empty eyes still looked sinister to Tanya. “Something’s coming. Something they don’t like.”

Tanya cast out with her mind, probing the countryside. She gasped and a worried look came to her face.

“Tanya, what is it,” Samantha asked. Tanya didn’t respond. Samantha grabbed her arm, squeezed. “What’s out there?”

“The imp returns. He follows our trail. And there’s something else, something hungry. It follows behind the imp.”

“Ok, now’s the time we ride. Billy, come on lets go.” She didn’t hear a reply and so she looked around.

Bill was still walking, but he was starting to disappear in the swirling mist of the land.

“Billy!” Samantha yelled, “Something’s following us. It’s time to ride.”

He stopped and turned slowly. He looked lost. Then, he looked into their faces, saw the concern and the excitement and rushed back to them.
12-9-04 10:36-11:17
They mounted quickly.
“What’s the matter,” Bill asked over his shoulder.

“Tanya detected our imp friend and something else, something big, following us.” Samantha said.

The coachman let out a yell and cracked the reins. His horse took off, swirling mist behind. Tanya yelped and wrapped her arms around his chest. Samantha squeezed his ribs, and then Bill followed the coachman’s lead. The mists caressed their faces as they trailed after Tanya and their coachman.

Shortly after riding off, they heard a strangled cry, followed by a savage roar. The horses picked up the pace, running full tilt. The horses raced north along the crevice.
12-12-04 9:18-9:45
Tanya reached out. She could no longer feel the presence of the imp. However, the unknown creature was getting closer and its hunger was growing. She felt its mind, animalistic on the surface, driven by basic needs. Beneath was a childlike intelligence. Tanya tried to sooth that mind, hoping that would quell the beast. At first it appeared to be working, the beast began to slow. Then, the hunger took over and the beast charged on. Tanya was closed off against a wall of hunger and bloodlust. She shivered at the feeling.

“What is it,” the coachman asked. “What do you sense?”

“It is hungry, and it will not stop.”

Tanya looked at Bill and Samantha. They were very close behind. Bill was looking tired. She couldn’t tell if he was pale of if it was merely and illusion of the mist. Samantha clung to him, looking worried, though whether worried over Bill or the monster chasing them Samantha also could not tell.
12-13-04 9:13-9:35
The coachman gave a small tug on the reins and the horse slowed a little. Billy and Samantha’s horse caught up quickly, and they rode side by side. Bill was about to ask what was going on when the coachman spoke up.

“We need to look for a place to hide or a way across the chasm. That beastie will catch up to us sooner or later.”

Bill and Samantha nodded. Tanya looked over her shoulder, expecting to see the monster right on top of them. Only the mist followed, and the monotonous ground. The coachman urged his horse to his full speed, and Tanya had to grip him to stop from falling off the back. They rode hard for what felt like a day. The animal following them remained silent, but Tanya could feel it following. Its hunger was overpowering. If she touched its mind for too long she thought she would be lost in mindless hunger.

From up ahead Bill shouted and pointed off to the right. Up ahead, a narrow bridge of stone jutted out into the chasm. They slowed the horses and stopped at the bridge. The stone was too narrow for the horses to cross. Bill dismounted and Samantha followed after him.

“We must cross,” he said. “We have not seen another way across. We might not see another. Besides, the creature following us probably won’t be able to get across if it’s as big as we think it is.”

As if to punctuate his statement the beast let loose its savage roar. Tanya dismounted and joined Samantha and Bill. The coachman stayed.

“Come on,” Samantha urged. “We gotta go!”

The coachman shook his head. “I’ll not leave my horses. You go. Maybe the creature will follow me instead.”

“But-“ Tanya began, and the coachman grabbed the reigns of the second horse and rode off.
12-15-04 7:44pm-9:11pm
They inched across the narrow jutting of rock. Tanya was in the lead, followed by Bill. He had insisted on going last to cover the two women, but Samantha refused on the grounds that she was still Bill’s guardian. She didn’t tell him, but she found it touching that Bill was taking to the hero role quickly.

They were halfway across the bridge when the beast came into view. It spotted them and let out a triumphant roar. It had a bulky body with squat, powerful legs. Coarse brown fur covered the body and legs except where patches had fallen out revealing red pestilent skin. A whip-like tail, nearly ten feet long swished through the air. On top of its nearly twenty foot tall shoulder was a mangled head. Two trunks, like an elephant’s extended from the middle of the face. The mouth was full of razor sharp teeth. Two great eyes locked onto the three travelers half way across the bridge.

“Oh God,” Tanya muttered. “It’s horrible.”

For a moment, nothing happened. The beast’s tail swished the air and its two great trunks rubbed together. As it stared at them, the look in its eyes changed from rage to joy. The trunks lifted to sniff the air and a giggle poured from its gaping mouth. The sound was eerily childish.

The animal approached, closing in on the rock bridge. Bill raced through the newly awakened parts of his brain, trying to find something to help. Nothing. From somewhere beyond the limits of the mist’s visibility was the sound of horses and a yell from the coachman. The beast looked away, toward the sound. Its eyes glazed over in confusion.

“Move,” Samantha hissed.
12-17-04 10:02pm-10:45pm

The Continuing Story, Now With Monsters (11)

Gerda closed her eyes and sobbed. The tears rolled down to her chin and dripped to the floor. Their splatter echoed off the walls of the hall in the deathly silence. There was no doubt in her mind that when the questions began she would answer them all. She could only hope she had an answer worthy of sparing her son.

* * *
The carriage bounced through the mist and Samantha slept soundly through the white dreaming of a doorway in a field of green. The field was ringed with trees and in the shadow of those trees were eyes. Piercing, red, and hungry.

In the dream came a howl. Samantha spun, scanning the woods. The eyes watched but did not move. The howl came again. The second time she jerked awake, heart pumping and eyes searching. The howl ended and silence filled the mist once more. The sound of the horses’ hooves could not be heard, but their nervous whinny could.

Samantha turned the mirror. Its smokiness was gone and it reflected her worried expression. She listened for the sound again. There was no howl, and for a moment she was relieved. Then it came again, slicing through the white. It was the sound of an animal closing on its prey. An animal certain of the kill.

Not daring to stick her head out the window she yelled. “Driver, we need to move faster!”

He did not respond, but instead cracked the whip. The horses did not hesitate. They burst into a run, and Samantha fell against the back of the carriage. Samantha scanned the windows, but could see nothing.

Something slammed into the carriage, knocking Samantha forward. The carriage rocked, hard, threatening to tip. Quickly, Samantha played with the lines of luck to right the speeding transport. There was a bark of rage and a shout from her left. She turned, and screamed in sorrow and rage. Running along side them was a hell beast, a gigantic cat with long fangs and blackened scaled skin. Tufts of brown fur stuck out between some of the scales, and large claws scraped the ground. Riding upon its saddle was an imp bearing the crest of Lord Tyr.
11/1/04 9:41pm-10:26pm
“’Ere’s my pretty! My pretty, my pretty, Morga!” The imp spotted Samantha inside and snarled at her. But, by now Samantha was more concerned with the beast. Its eyes were aware, it knew her. Intelligence in a deadly beast such as this was, well, deadly. Just as she moved to the far side of the carriage she felt her whole body tighten into a knot. She glowed orange and heard faint whispers.

She looked over at the vacant mirror. Her magic did not respond well here, but what of the mirror.

“I can…” she started but then jostled back as the carriage hit something. It was not the hell beast. “What the hell?” She looked outside and saw cracks and fissures racing along the carriage, running to catch up and stop it. From time to time the cracks would erupt in front of the carriage hoping to swallow it into the abyss below, but the carriage sped by with nothing more than a bump. “Nice driving.”

The skeleton driver tipped his hat, but quickly brought his hand back to the reigns to move across another fissure, which swung her to the left as this time he went around one. Samantha peered back at the imp and beast. They were oddly keeping pace but not attacking outright.

This is the hell beast’s doing. It must be afraid of something. What could it be… the mirror…it is the only thing…

Samantha flung herself next to the mirror and sized it up. It was rimmed in gold with sequined figures molded out of it. Precious stones littered the gold for eyes of beasts and bright stars of magic. Her hands caressed the mirror and then tightened on it, for the carriage sunk two feet down only to rise up again. An idea came to her then.

These creatures on the gold, could I… She focused her power on them, and the world’s skies changed from a pearly white to deep orange. From the sky came cries of outrage, long shrieking torrents assaulted the ears. Samantha slapped her hands to her ears but kept feeding the mirror her essence; quickly she replaced her hands on the mirror when she realized the creature was fading. Then the rubies glowed around a creature on the mirror that looked part vulture but was larger. Her fingers burned from grasping the mirror, but she would not let go.

She risked a look outside. The fissures had stopped growing ahead of them, and the skeleton had lost its top hat. The imp and the hell beast had turned their attention to the sky. With a whoosh of noise a large, scaly creature came down and swiped at the hell beast. Fire boomed from the depths of its stomach and singed the hell beast. The beast shrunk itself at the next pass of the winged creature and launched itself in the air; the imp jumped off and landed on his side and the hell beast was now the passenger, but up in the skies.

Samantha only realized then that the imp had been concentrating much too hard on something, and it was on her or the carriage. That is when the wheel to the carriage stripped, followed by the axle breaking.

She could do nothing; to do something would mean breaking her contact with the mirror and the creature she had summoned. The creature would just disappear and leave her in the lurch, literally. She did the only thing she could do, she braced herself for impact as the carriage tipped and skidded along the white flat ground in the direction of a fissure.

I hope there is friction enough in this white hell to stop us! The carriage slowed but tipped near the edge. The driver hopped out, and at first, Samantha wanted to scream at him, but then, she heard him pull on the frame of the carriage. It was attempting to help slow her down, to keep her from going over. Samantha lay in heap in the corner of the carriage, having never let go of the mirror. The carriage came to a stop. When she looked over at the window of the door that was in the ground she could see three inches of the eternal drop created by the fissure. That was close.

She looked back at the mirror to see if the rubies were still glowing, they were. She was equally amazed to see an image of the creature outside the carriage, for that was her carriage in the background of the mirror. With the skeleton gathering the two horses together and calming them down, the creature had folded its wings and was licking its scales clean, smoking blood dripped from them.

She focused on moving the image back, the mirror expanded the image. She could see nothing of the imp nor the hell beast. But, deep in the distance she saw purple clouds zigzagging with angry white streaks approaching.

“I wonder if this land was meant to ever have this much color? I wonder who is sending this…storm?” Samantha pried her hands from the mirror and saw that they were beet red from holding onto it like she had been holding hands under scalding water the entire time.

She blew on them and then decided to make her way out. Climbing from the carriage she did not expect to see the creature anymore. But, there it was cleaning itself still. It looked up at her, spread its wings to full size, and bellowed fire that shook this realm.

“Oh no!”
11/3/04 11:45am- 12:15pm
She jumped down, flattening herself on the ground. A fireball flew over her and struck the coach. It teetered once more and then tipped over the edge. The mirror glowed brighter and brighter and the ground began to smoke around it. In front of her, the great beast began to beat its wings. Powerful rushes of air blew by her, hitting her face with dirt and grit.

She shielded her eyes and pushed up. The winds grabbed at her clothing, trying to pull her over the edge. She couldn’t see he driver or the horses. The great beast lifted up off the ground letting out a piercing shriek as it climbed higher. It moved up and up, and then began to circle. Samantha looked around; there wasn’t anything that she saw to help protect her from the creature she had summoned. Her eyes happened on the mirror. It was beginning to sink into the charred ground.

In its reflection she saw the creature over her coming around to swoop down. Behind it the purple cloud was almost on top of them. She dove to the ground once more, reaching for the glowing artifact. Her fingers closed around its handle and the pain was immense. The creature’s claws missed her by inches, but the force of its wake rolled her toward the edge.

With her free hand, she scrambled for a hand hold. She found one just as the rest of her body went over the edge. Her fingers locked about a chunk of stone protruding from the ruptured ground. In her right hand the mirror continued to glow, and her fingers screamed in pain. The creature looked like it was going to dive again. Knowing she couldn’t hold on much longer, she smashed the mirror against the edge of the chasm. The mirror shattered and the glow left it. The beast cried out and jagged cuts appeared all over its body. Its wings were torn to shreds and it plummeted to the ground.

Samantha dropped the mirror, but the fingers of her right hand were too burnt to grab hold of anything. Meanwhile the fingers of her left hand were losing their grip.

* * *
“Clyde you’ve got to hurry, something’s wrong!” Billy yelled.

Clyde pressed on the accelerator more, and the car’s motor roared. Traffic increased as they approached a toll-booth. Clyde glanced over at Bill for a second before returning his eyes to the road.

“There’s no time,” Bill said his eyes clamped shut. “It has to be now.”

“What has to be now,” Lucas asked.

“Samantha needs me…us. I’m going to try something. Tanya, hold onto me.”

She reached up from her seat behind him, looking worried, and grabbed his shoulder. Billy splayed the fingers of his left hand and sliced through the air. There was a loud tearing sound and a hole appeared in the air before him. Through the hole was misty white and the sound of great leathery wings.

“Do not stop,” Billy said, “keep moving west. We’ll find you.”

Billy reached out to the hole and leaned forward. He told Tanya to hold tight, and then they were both sucked through. Clyde looked over, amazed. Billy, his seat, and Tanya were gone. Lucas glanced up out of the windshield and saw the toll-booth approaching. Clyde was still looking at where Billy had been.

“Watch out!” Lucas yelled.

Clyde looked up. They were headed for the divider separating the toll lanes. Cars were honking all around them. He jerked the wheel to the right. The car scrapped the toll basket and shattered the lowered arm before bursting through the other side.

* * *
The purple cloud erupted, and Billy and Tanya tumbled out. They plummeted through the air, Tanya still clinging to Billy’s shoulders. The mirror shone like a beacon before them, and then Samantha smashed it. From just above them the creature screamed and its controlled descent turned into a straight fall. Bill grabbed one of the shredded wings as it fell in front of them.

Together he and Tanya landed on the beast when it crashed to the ground. Billy rolled free. The creature’s blood burned holes in his clothes. He took off at a sprint headed for Samantha. He dove and slid the last few feet, cutting his chest on loose rock. With his out-stretched hand he latched on to Samantha’s wrist just as her fingers let go. Samantha’s weight threatened to pull them both over the edge.

“Tanya, help!” He called.
11/5/04 3:02pm-4:02pm
“I can’t!” She screamed. “The wing! The wing, it burns!”
“Hold on Sam! I’ll get you up,” shouted Bill. Somehow that is. He had wedged his feet under a crack in the pearly white ground, but could do little to bring her back over the edge. His arm ached from the strain, but his free one throbbed as he used it to brace himself. He saw his blood bleeding through the shirt sleeve.

“Don’t worry, Bill. I’m trying to go anywh- ahhh!” One of his feet had come loose and he slid closer to the edge.


He could hear her screams, and then a muffling effect occurred.

From behind him he heard the crunch of feet stepping over scattered wing and broken wood bits from the coach. A boney skeletal hand reached past him and grasped Sam by the hair. He lifted her like she weighed the same as a pillow needing to be fluffed before bed. He set her down and Bill collapsed, but only for a second. He stood haphazardly and scrambled over to the downed beast, who still billowed small acid breaths, but they had slowed.

On the far side of the beast lay Tanya. She had been under a wing with dark red blood, it was almost crimson and black, pouring onto her. The skeleton must have pulled her out before coming to Sam’s rescue. She looked scarred all over, her skin was bubbling. He looked over his shoulder, and Sam was holding her head in her hands.

“Did you need to pull the hair?”

“Am I glad to see you Samantha?” Bill had a large goofy grin beaming down at her. “You’re in trouble.” He pointed to the purple clouds that had not dissipated. “But, first I need to go help Tanya.”

He carefully circumvented the beast’s drippings. He crouched down near Tanya and bent to hear her breathing. A smile cracked her blistered lips.

“Talking hurts. Give me time, just a little while and I will be good as new. Healing is…specialty.”

On the other side of her, Samantha kneeled down.

“Who’s this?”

“I finally get to meet her.” Then Tanya closed her eyes and fell asleep.

“It’s a long story and we don’t have much time to explain.” He looked up and saw the skeleton standing a distance back with two horses. Bill then looked up at the purple clouds that were beginning to rumble and darken even more. “We can talk more when we are on our way. It is not safe here. Why did you come here?”

“I…where am I?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that we have found you and Clyde will find us.”

“Clyde…is he okay?”

“Yes.” Bill arched his eyebrows at her then opened his free palm to reveal a green orb. It sparkled and rolled in a circle. “I was saving this. This land does not give up its magic easily, which is why you can not leave. It won’t let you use it; I am not much more help really. But, this is from me and has no connection to the land. This will help her.” The globe leapt from his palm and absorbed into Tanya. She looked more relaxed.

“How do you know this?”

“Part of me is groggy and awakening now. Part me walked lands like this, wandering eternally. I don’t know if it is a past, present, or future self I talk of. But, I know this: We must leave quickly. Get Skelo to bring the horses here. We’re moving out west.”

“Which way is west?” Bill stood, looked around for a second, and pointed in the opposite direction of the purple clouds. “How do you know?” He shrugged. Samantha turned and walked over to the skeleton. “C’mon Skelo we’re heading out again.”

* * *
“Okay, Clyde, what is your location.”

Clyde was still rubbing his eyes when Annie had piped in through his glasses. They were still headed down I-90 trying to figure out which direction to go. West, they knew, but how would they strike it west?

“Location? Um…to tell you the truth this stretch of road looks all the same. I did pass an airport about twenty minutes ago. Why? I thought we were on communication black out unless something bad…what happened?”
11/10/04 10:44pm- 11:12pm
“Benjamin and Sonya are not responding. They were coming your way from the North. Tony and Vanessa were about an hour ahead of them, probably an hour from your position. They’re reporting storm clouds and black cats on the roadside.”

“Damn it! Well, what’re we gonna do?”

“What? What’s wrong,” Lucas asked.

“It’s Annie, we’ve got trouble headed our way,” Clyde said.

“I need to talk to Bill,” Annie said. “Give him your glasses. There should little enough light that it wont effect you too much.”

“Bill’s not here.”

“What do you mean not here? Did he pass out again?”

“No he made a…I don’t know he cut through the air and was sucked into white space. He said he was going after Sam.”

Annie sighed and shook her head. Clyde kept moving, weaving in and out of the sparse early morning traffic. His mind raced in many directions, however, most of his concern lay with where to go to meet with Bill. On the shoulder a police car sat idling. Clyde hoped the officer was sleeping. At the speed he was going there was no doubt he would be given a hefty ticket. He did not want to tweak the strands of luck and fate. He had a feeling he was going to need all the energy he had, and soon.

They zoomed by the cruiser. As luck would have it, or wouldn’t, the officer was awake and alert. He saw Clyde coming and shifted his car to drive before the speeding care passed. After Clyde flew by, he flipped the lights and pulled out after him.

“Well how are you going to find him,” Annie asked.

“He said he’d find us,” Clyde replied. He looked up into the rear view mirror and saw the flashing lights approaching. “Crap.”

“Oh God, what now?”

“Nothing, just a little company. I’ll call you back.”

He switched off the glasses and concentrated on driving. Lucas looked back and saw the cruiser approaching. It was coming up on them fast.

“What are we going to do,” he asked.

“Don’t know yet.”
11/14/04 3:13pm-4:05pm
The sunlight shimmered off the roof tops of cars and highlighted the police car behind them. Lucas was staring out the back. Up ahead, all three lanes had Sunday drivers pacing the pack. Clyde honked his civic horn. Nothing changed, he noticed everybody looking back in their mirror, but they did nothing. He swerved to the shoulder and kicked up loose rocks and broken glass. An average Joe-like car would have punctured a tire going over some of the debris that was littered on the ground, but Clyde was not driving an average Joe-like car. He sped up again when he cleared the slow pokes.

“Ha!” Pounding the steering wheel, Clyde hoped that the police car would not attempt to follow him through that, for their sake. He did not believe they would make it at the high speeds. But, the flashing whipped around and actually increased speed throwing up most of the debris in its wake.

“What the…?” Clyde gassed it. He passed an Ikea one second, an AMC theater the next, and finally was seeing landscape between buildings, but no other police cars joined the other. “Hey, Lucas can you see anything…well… useful.” Clyde swerved to avoid a hubcap that took up the center lane; the cop car tore right through it. “Lucas? Lucas?”

Clyde turned quickly and spied Lucas staring out the back at the police car. He was doing nothing else but staring, like a dumbstruck child. As he pulled his eyes back to his driving, he noticed Lucas’s hand white from gripping the seat cushion.

“Lucas!! Damn it!” Clyde stomped on the brake and squealed slower. The police car tailed to the right to avoid them. Lucas’s sight kept to the police car. When they were even with Clyde, he pushed a button on the Ray Bans. The pulses of influence that were being admitted from the flashing of the light overwhelmed him and nearly made him nauseous. He spied two men sitting in the cop car, with black suits, hats, and gloves on. He knew them. Why am I not feeling the effects of this influence, it is stronger than…than anything I have ever encountered before. He gassed the car and made to his left as if he was going to ram into them. They sped up and hugged the median divider.

Clyde slammed his foot down, the tires whined in pain like a thousand drug starved addicts in the Opium Wars. He aimed at an exit. When he hit the ramp right, he accelerated again; and he did not slow for the toll.

He zoomed down a major highway, till he found his first side street to take. Then, he started taking them at random. The last thing he remembered from seeing of the police car, as they could not change direction or speeds to follow him off the tollway, was a bright flash. Not visible but to those like himself and them. There are more. Great.

“Lucas, are you okay?” Clyde pulled over onto a gravel driveway that wound around some trees. He turned the ignition off and looked to the back seat. Lucas was all sweat and white; his eyes were wide open, Clyde could nearly see the white and then the red of them. He pulled himself into the passenger seat, or what would have been the passenger seat if it had not been pulled into some other place. Placing his hand on Lucas’s forehead, he brought his hands down to close his eyelids. “Just close them. I can’t imagine they feel very well. Those lights…”

“What the hell were they?” Lucas’s voice came out raspy as if he had been screaming into a black hole, only to have no sound find anyone. “I tried to move, I did.”

“I can’t tell you what it was. I have never seen that before. If we see that car…or any others like that one, we’ll have to avoid looking at them.”

“I wanted to…to look away. I yelled at my muscles but everything betrayed me. I almost…” Lucas toppled over the seat so that he laid sideways on it. “Something told me to stop you, to do…anything to you. Kill you even. It was not me, I fought it.”

“You were fighting something I have never seen that is for sure. The entire time you were tensed. You should sleep.”

“Are we safe?”

“For now, but I don’t know for how long. I know one thing for sure now.”

“Oh, ya?”

“We won’t be using the tollway or highways anymore. They have those too well scouted. They are waiting like a Venus fly trap, and we nearly stumbled right into it. I am so sick of them always being one step ahead of us.” Clyde beat his fist into the driver’s seat. “Whatever we do, we have to plan it carefully.”

“Okay, you plan and I will sleep for now. My vision should stop feeling like I am on an amusement park ride at some point.” Lucas turned the other way in the seat so that his back faced Clyde.

Clyde got out of the car and walked to the road. He scanned either direction and saw no movement, cars or otherwise. He swiped at the stones that had been displaced from him coming in at the high speed. Then, he walked a ways down and looked back. Nope, can’t see the car from the road. He walked back and sat in the drivers’ seat with his feet hanging out the door.

He buzzed for Annie.

“Hey, what’s been going on? There is a high amount of luck and influence happing out there. Is that you?”

“Not this time.” Annie’s hair was pinkish, but spots of brunette kept creeping into as she talked. Clyde could tell she had been preoccupied. He told her everything that had happened.

“So Bill and Tanya are…”

“Yea, they are somewhere else and there are these traps everywhere waiting for us. Is there anything we can do to steer clear of these?”

“Let me think on it for awhile. They are pretty clever, though, I would like to know who is behind all this. Who took Sam, who infiltrated our area without us knowing? There are too many, too many not to have noticed.”

“If we find Sam, we may have those answers.”

“Right, but you said Bill will find you after he has Sam.” Clyde nodded, and a strange thought occurred to him. He could see her full body image in his glasses; could she only see his eyes?

Stick the task on hand, Clyde, this is really serious. But, it is an interesting thought, I’ll have to file it for later.

“Clyde? Clyde!” He focused back on her. “You mind was wandering and I almost lost your image. Is everything okay?”

He smiled. “For the moment-yes it is.”

“Good. As I see it, we should regroup.”

“What of the others? Have they escaped their traps?”

“I have not heard from anybody in awhile. I was starting to worry about you; you took so long to get back to me.”


“I need you to look for them. I think that we can only get the advantage again if we can get the guardians together. And I can give you the last known position of the other two pairs. Where are you now?”

“Truthfully Annie, I am somewhere west of you right now.” Her left eye narrowed and her right eyebrow arched. “I was not working on fixing our location: I was just trying to take us somewhere safe.”

“Okay, so keep heading west but you must head north as well. Tony and Vanessa were last coming from that area, from a Northern University. There is a small town built up around it.”

“They are guardians, right?”

“Yes, but not like you and Samantha. Definitely not like you since Bill has awakened.”

“What do you mean?”

“Not now, you’ll figure it out later. It has to come on its own.”

“Will you stop being so damn cryptic!”

“How’s this for not being cryptic,” said Annie as her hair turned bright pink and her eyes darkened, “Go forth keeper of the key and find your brethren.”

“What the…Annie I’m getting some shut eye, buying a map, and then going to this northern college.”

“Fine don’t believe me, but I have insights.”

“Bye.” He switched off his glasses and he was left blissfully alone again. Keeper of the Key? That is just a tale, only a gate can…wait. Billy. Damn him, when did he do that. Clyde felt all over his person. He checked his cheeks, his arms, his legs, and even his hair. Nothing seems different. How do I know she is telling me the truth? Clyde rolled his window down a crack, set up a hundred yard ward around the car (if anything came within that then he would know instantly), and got as comfortable as he could. He was asleep within seconds.
11/14/04 7:30pm 8:08pm & 8:25-8:41

Sorry, No Snappy Title This Time (10)

Clyde paced the span of the room that hid deep under the museum. He was running his fingers through his black hair, which did it no justice and began to stick up in random segments. Lucas and Tanya sat calmly next to each other, and other side of the roaring fire laid a sleeping Bill, wrapped in a sleeping cord of present. Suddenly, Clyde stopped and rounded on the two.

“What you have been trying to tell me…” He stopped and grasped the air as if he could catch the right words by fly fishing. Frustrated, he crossed and slumped down on the sofa to the left of Tanya. “Where have we been? I mean Sam and I? I know nothing of this…this fate.”

“Listen, Clyde,” it was Tanya piping up and scrunching closer, “not many of us do. You took us for guardians, so did Rufus. That’s not our function in this world. We do not use the Source like you and Sam do, and obviously not like the gate over there.”

“But, if you’re down here…” He stared at her as she nodded. “No, it can’t mean that. They…he…whoever would not want that to happen.”

“Well, no of course not Clyde.” Lucas stood. “That is why we are here. We are the Sniffers if you like, with a little bit of an ability to use the source. Healing and whatnot.”

“So, what have you found? Now that I know that this world is unstable. Is that right? The guardians have been holding down the realms and kingdoms for so long. I can not believe that it could all come crumbling.”

“C’mon Clyde.” Lucas spread his arms as if taking in the room, but his eyes brazened as if he was looking farther out. “What we have found, some you already know. First, the presence of gates in this world, in reality has decreased. Through natural dead end gene alleys or through some being snuffed out, it is important to keep these gates alive but inactive. They are our key.”

“I know this, but it can not be so bad all over the world.”

“True. But, it does not have to be. The rest of the world has weakened, but it is here in the new world that the other realms have found a kink so to speak in our armor. And, having found it they are striking.”

“So, what Annie and the others have been fearing…it’s true then?”

“Yes it is,” Tanya took hold Clyde’s hand. “How many guardians are left in this quadrant?

“Only thirty-six, I think.”

Tanya tightened her grip on Clyde’s hand.


She glanced up at Lucas, and he nodded back.

“How many have been assigned gates?”

“There are eight of them, so sixteen guardians, the rest run a network of spying and safety for the gates. What is it?”

“Clyde, why do you think you have been so alone today?”

“We misused resources, guardians were not put in the right place. It was not expected what occurred today.”

“How would you feel if we told you there are less than ten guardians in your quadrant, not including Samantha since we know little of her,” gruffly spoke Luke, who faced away towards the flame.

“How’s that possible? We would know, we would…”

“Oh ya, how would you know?”

“Well, Annie would have kept us informed; she would have moved us quicker. Away from this…”

“Yes, Annie.”

Clyde’s eyes popped wide. “I know what you’re thinking, but it isn’t her. It can not be! We have worked with her for centuries. I trust her with my life.”

“I hope you’re right, Clyde. I am glad we came here. One way of the other we will have our suspicions confirmed. Part of our powers revolve around the essence of truth. We shall see what Annie has to say for herself.”

“What of Billy?” Clyde glanced over to his sleeping… I have known him his whole life. I feel more like a lost family member that has just resurfaced. He is very important, is he the last… “Is Billy the last in the quadrant, I have known he was the last in the heart of the Midwest, but…”

“Yes, he is very important,” whispered Tanya. “Those last eight guardians have been called, just before we came. I contacted them all as I lay in the backseat. It was very tiring, I thought there were more, but only eight answered my call.”

“How long?”

“I am not really sure where they are all coming from, I was too weak.”

“How did you contact them without…”

“Remember we are different. It is the reason we visited the Source, we knew that something wrong was occurring. Luck felled you into our laps.”

“And, that is why you could not slow the wolf?”

“Precisely, it was a bit traumatic. What other choice did we have?”

“All I know is this last ten minutes is going to drag by.” With that Clyde sat back and closed his eyes; his day having gone from real bad to tragic.
10/14/04 10:40am-11:13am
And drag by they did. Tanya leaned back and seemed to doze off. Lucas stared into the fire, watching the glow of the embers. Bill slept fitfully, making small jerky movements and little moans. Clyde was lost in his own thoughts.

Only eight Guardians. So few. Did it happen suddenly? Has Annie known about this? He sighed and looked over at Bill. He reached over and shook Bill gently on the shoulder.

“Wake up Bill, Annie’s going to be here soon.”

Bill’s eyes opened. Clyde watched what must have been an instant replay of the day’s events run through Bill’s mind, ending with the settling of his sight on his bandaged wrist.

“Are you ok,” Tanya asked.

“Yeah,” Bill replied, “I guess.”

“Look, Billy,” Clyde began.

“Just Bill, please.”

“Ok, Bill, Annie is like our chief, our coordinator in the field. We’re here to regroup and get some answers. I want you to be ready and awake for this. Now that your power has awakened, you’ll need to hear this too.”


“Yes. Don’t you remember the giant wolf, and the leash you pulled out of thin air to stop it?”

“It’s still hazy, but I remember the lights. The rest is coming slowly.”

Clyde was about to respond when the lock clicked. The Guardian and the two Sniffers looked at each other. Clyde moved in front of Bill, blocking his view of the door. The door swung open and Annie entered carrying a bundle of clothes in front of her. Her pink hair stood out in short spikes.

“I hope everyone is feeling better,” she said. “I brought the Gatewa—I’m sorry Billy—“


“Sorry, Bill, I brought Bill a change of clothes. It looked outside like you could use one.”

Bill looked down at his lucky blue suit. It was torn in several places. The end of the right sleeve was in shreds, and it was covered in plaster dust. His cheeks flushed in embarrassment.

“Wow, my best suit,” he said. “Thanks for the change of clothes.”

“Don’t worry about the suit,” Tanya said. “You can always get another.”

“Yeah,” Lucas said.

Bill looked over at Clyde, who nodded in return. Bill got up and took the clothes from Annie. Blue jeans, a forest green t-shirt and some black boots. He went into the bathroom and began to change. He stripped down to his boxers and socks and then examined himself in the mirror. From the door came muffled voices, but he was not interested in their conversation. He looked for changes. Anything that might signal whatever had awakened within him. He couldn’t see anything different, aside from the missing hand. Slowly he put on the clothes that were provided. The zipper and button on the jeans made him angry, as the fingers of his left hand stumbled through the motions. He didn’t even want to think about trying the boots. When he got to them, he simply pulled them tight and tucked the laces in by his ankle.

Once he was dressed he felt a little better. Almost normal. But there was a humming in the back of his mind. The voices outside the door had become louder. He went to open the door, reaching first with his right arm, and then with his left. Have to remember that, he thought.
October 17, 2004 9:20pm-10:02
Turing the knob, he stopped. He felt a weird…well sensation from behind him. He went to his old clothes that lay heaped by the sink. He searched inside the pockets and snagged his old pocket watch. He opened it. It was inlayed with gold numbers and four small diamonds marking the 15 of every hour. A gift from his mother when he graduated from school, he had nearly forgotten to bring it along. The watch read one o’clock.

It must be AM. This was not the sensation, however. I was not worried about this, but what? Standing up he looked in the mirror, but he did not stare back out at himself. The mirror was misty as if someone had been running a hot shower, but there was no shower in here. Bill reached his left hand out slowly, and with his fingertips wiped down the center of the mirror. The mist stayed, but little currents followed his fingers down like the mirror was really made of liquid.

Bill stepped back. He was about to leave and get Clyde when he heard…


The voice sounded familiar. He touched the mirror this time, and this time a green light formed at contact. His forehead wrinkled in concentration. Bill did not understand what he was doing. The liquid of the mirror started flowing down Bill’s hand. His hand slipped in further and the green flashed.

Instantly, Bill’s eyes widened. “Samantha?”

* * *
Samantha felt as if she had been walking for quite awhile. The last thing she remembered was the feeling of groping hands as she entered the portal. But that is when something went wrong. She had no idea where she was, and if this was the doorway that Gerda had told her about, then it was acting in a very strange matter.

“Hello?” She screamed, something had to be out there. Partly she wanted to be found, to know where she was, to know that she was actually in a place that existed; partly she was afraid who could be in a place like this. “Hello?”

The ground was smooth; there were no hills, stones, rivers, or anything that would break up the landscape. She could only see a few feet ahead. Samantha was tired and confused. She had never in the entire existence of her life heard of a place such as this.

She sat; what else could she do? I have to find a way out of here. For the tenth time she tried to draw a portal that yielded nothing. She would send out light beacons to illuminate an entire area, but as soon as the orbs moved a distance off they either extinguished or became lost in the sea of white. She risked trying to reach out, to find another guardian, but that had not worked. All this power that Bill had given her…

First I could not use it in Gerda’s reality without tipping off Tyr, and now this…place…has no respect for it!

Samantha laid back and closed her eyes. She dreamed of sleeping, for that is what she wanted more than anything. More than finding Clyde and Bill, she just wanted some peace. Her eyelids flashed a green color, bright but only for a second. Samantha sat straight up, eyes wide open.

Her surroundings had changed.

Standing, she looked about. Everything was still misty and white, but now visibility was much extended. She was also standing in a crossroad of sorts. An odd one at that, because it seemed more like a giant grey X. Two grey roads stretched as far as her field of vision could see.

“Should I follow one of these roads? They were not here before.” She picked one, north? Now, that’s silly, Sam. What the hell does North mean here? Throwing her hands up, she walked ten feet up one road, nothing changed. She reversed and walked ten feet down the opposite length of the same road, nothing changed. She repeated this with the other road, nothing changed there as well. Standing once again at the crossroad, Samantha sighed heavily.

“It’s as if I were waiting for Godot.” Just then another green light flashed
and illuminated directly behind her. It was gone just as quickly as she turned around. But trotting down the road was a horse drawn carriage. The carriage was black as was the horse. The driver wore a large top hat, but from this distance she could see bone and white under it.

The carriage came to a stop in front of Samantha. The skeleton driver turned, tipped the hat, and then swung the door upon with a cane. Steel steps unfurled to help Samantha up.

“Um, I’m not dead, right.” The skeleton grinned, at least Samantha thought it grinned, she was not sure if they could since she had never met one before. “I mean I’m a guardian, I have a job to do.”

“Get in.”

“Where are we headed?”

“In. Only way out of here.” The voice sounded familiar. The skeleton’s teeth chomped. The horse whinnied and stomped.

Impatient lot, aren’t they? Samantha clambered up and took the back seat, the opposite one was taken up with a mirror. As she sat the door slammed shut, stairs folded, and the whip stirred the horse into a cantor. With a jolt, Samantha eased into riding like she had done centuries before.

The mirror moved not an inch. It was an odd mirror, and it took her a moment to realize that she could not…

“I can’t see my reflection.” Samantha flopped down onto her knees and sized up the mirror. It had a greenish glow.


Who was that? “Hello?” She touched the mirror, it flowed. Colors bled into red and orange. The green color faded, but surged one last time as she saw a hand come through.

“Samantha, stay with the carriage. We’ll find you. Here!” A symbol glowing in orange leapt from the hand as it disappeared. It looked like an ankh, and it flew straight at Samantha and knocked her back into her seat. She felt branded as she rubbed her chest where the symbol entered. She felt it spread throughout her.

That had to be Bill.

She looked back at the mirror, and she stared back at herself. Sitting there she fell asleep to the rhythmic sway of the carriage.
10/21/04 1:20pm- 1:55pm

Bill pulled his arm back from the mirror, and the liquid receded with it. He thought of Samantha and the ankh he had marked her with. Like a compass he could feel her pull. She was still on the move. He pocketed the watch and left the room.

“But that doesn’t explain why there are so few Guardians here and why you haven’t told us until now,” Clyde said.

Both of Clyde’s hands were in fists at his sides. He stood directly in front of Annie seeming to tower over her. He looked exasperated. Annie’s hair had gone from pink to red and her usual spikes were in a frazzled tangle. She had the look on her face of someone who was trying to remain calm but was losing the battle. Luke and Tanya were nowhere to be seen.

“I’m trying to tell you, but you just won’t listen,” she said. “A lot of what’s happened to the other Guardians has been real recent; we’re still trying to sort it all out. Even if I could have told you, you were without communication all day.”

“What do you mean could have?”

Annie’s face turned red, but Bill couldn’t tell if it was from embarrassment or anger. “My superiors wanted to keep this quiet.” Clyde started to say something, but Annie stopped him with a hand. “I knew the importance of your mission and I tried to tell you as soon as I found out, but I couldn’t reach either you or Samantha all day.”

“Speaking of Samantha, tell me you’ve heard something.”

Annie paused, looking sullen.

“I know where she is,” Bill said. “Or at least I can kind of tell where she is.”

They looked over at Bill, not realizing until now that he had come out of the bathroom. Clyde stepped over to Bill and placed his hands on his shoulders. Any anger and frustration left his face and he only looked concerned.

“Please, Bill, tell me she is okay,” he said.

“I think she is,” Bill said. “She is in a place that is white and hazy. I sent a coach for her. She is on the move and sleeping soundly.”

“On her way to where,” Annie asked.

Bill closed his eyes and concentrated. The ankh leapt forward in his consciousness. It called for him to follow.

“West,” he said. “We must go West.” He opened his eyes and looked around. “Where are Lucas and Tanya? We’ll need them. We must leave soon.”

“We will,” Clyde said, looking relieved.

“Before you go, you’ll need these,” Annie said, and handed Clyde a pair of Ray-bans.
10/24/04 8:16pm-8:57pm
Holding the Ray-bans, Clyde looked almost happy. It was the day sliding from his face, the heartache and stress. He opened them and put them on, just above the eyes.

“Oh, it was less than a day, but I have missed these.”

With her hand over her mouth, Annie giggled. “Just don’t be careless and lose these as well.”

“Careless! The dog had three heads. It was monstrous and slobbered and smashed up my car.” Clyde eyes narrowed at Annie. “Careless, pah!”

“I hate to break up this moment of respite, but we must get moving; and the dog only had two heads, Clyde, I was there. She’s moving west, but there is something else.”

“What,” Annie and Clyde asked.

“Something’s following her. I don’t know if they have found her yet.” Rubbing his one hand over his eyes, he curled it up and beat it down on his leg. “It’s like I can understand bits and pieces, but I still do not understand what it is I am. What is it that I am? Why can I not focus myself on the task at hand? I know I could find her, now, but I am unsure of how to move forward like I am restrained, chained to my bed.”

“Wait, something’s after her?” Annie waved her hand at the back door. It pushed out and a gush of air came crawling through. “Let’s go find Lucas and his sister, we need to move. I am not losing another guardian on my watch!”

* * *

“Lord Tyr,” the voice floated up to where Tyr sat. It was a mound of bodies, dead and bloated, and upon that a throne inlayed with rubies and gold. “Ere as says you, she naw longer ‘ere nor…anyswheres.”

“She is in the mist and shadow.” A deep rumbling laugh belched from somewhere deep, pipes rattled, chandeliers shook, and the pile of bodies shifted ever so slightly. “After her and do not come back till you have her and the gate. I want them both!” His eyes sparked red as the rubies.

“I tinks she is beyond, helpin’ hand an al’ that. Movin’ round wit speed an eye hoverin’ like it was a beacon.”

“Oh, Casna, you forget your manners. Take Morga and go into the mist, she will hunt without fear of getting lost.” Noticing the fear of his imp, Lord Tyr explained, “She has no need for doors, and can take you back here as quick as a bone can snap in the mouth a wolf.”

“Is right, Lord Tyr.” Bowing and scraping, Casna retreated from his audience. Lord Tyr let out another chuckle that chilled the entire hall. Part of the hall, where the fighting had been heaviest, had reverted to reflect the real world. But, a forty yard circle remained unchanged around Lord Tyr. The bodies stayed, the blood pooled and broken floor, chairs, and tables remained broken.

“How is your view, Princess?” Up in the vault of the ceiling hung Gerda on apparently nothing, she seemed to be floating. She would scream but nothing came out. She would struggle but bruises would appear as if something was holding her. “It is only time now, before I acquire both the guardian and the gate. This foolishness you have caused is over and needless.

“Your house is broken, your family all dead. What? Not your son, that is right. But, only for a time.” Standing on the torso of some dead giant, Lord Tyr stretched himself like he was growing, until he could look Gerda in the eye. “Your son will grovel at my feet. Then I will take his head with my hands and pull him to pieces before your eyes.” Lord Tyr hands clenched in the air then pounded the ceiling on either side of Gerda’s face.

She screamed and writhed. “Yes, you will beg for forgiveness and for your son’s life.” Lord Tyr descended again to his throne and his normal shape. “It will do you no good, though I am looking forward to this so much. And as he screams you will remember helping that guardian escape through that door.” Lord Tyr exploded from his throne and landed at the foot of it. He stalked around the pile of corpses like a tiger.

”You will remember what it was she was doing for you before she came to your room! You will beg and plead and spill your guts to me to save your son’s life! Everything you could not do for the rest of your kin, you will do for him! But, it is too late for you and for him. You will tell me how she became so powerful, and what it is she was doing for you.” Lord Tyr sat on a bloated body and laid back. “Yes, what you said is true, I am despicable. I will have my revenge on this world.” Looking up Gerda, he smiled. “Too bad you got in the way; it is not yours I want to destroy. But, now, I am like you said. I am that.”
11/1/04 7:01pm- 7:33pm

The Next Part, In Which Greta Lies (9)

“Well,” Samantha started, but then she was cut off by the sound of armored feet approaching the door.

Samantha didn’t even want to breathe. She glanced at the towering redheaded woman, who looked a little worried. The sound of the feet, many of them, stopped by the door. A fist pounded, the sound was thunderous in the tiled bathroom.

“Princess Gerda, are you in there?” A gruff voice called.

Samantha glanced over at the towering woman, who was looking uncertain about answering. She glanced down at Samantha and caught her uncertain gaze.

“Yes, I’m here,” she said. “What do you want?”

“We have just received word that Lord Tyr will be arriving for dinner tonight. He has important matters to discuss.”

Samantha gasped. Gerda looked at her quizzically. After a minute when Gerda didn’t respond, the soldier called in.

“Princess, is there something wrong?”

“No, everything is fine. I will be there, now leave me be.”

There was a moment’s hesitation, and then the feet moved away. Samantha was worried. Tyr would know by now that she had escaped. Those imps would not have been delayed long by the broken key. Would Tyr know that she was here? The only being that knew where that tunnel led was Lapis…

“Gerda,” the giant shot her a warning look, “sorry, Princess Gerda…your highness, what was that you said about Lapis?”

Gerda studied her for a moment. “I said Lapis has been double dealing, he is not to be trusted.”

A chill ran through Samantha. Had she been betrayed? Was Tyr coming to get her back?

“Why did you look so worried when Captain Garret mentioned Lord Tyr?”

Samantha considered her options. She could either lie to the giantess, or tell her how she had ended up in this bathroom. The power was still singing within her. If it came down to it, she would fight Tyr to the end. She considered a moment longer.

“I came here from Tyr’s prison. My charge is his prey. I escaped with the help of Lapis’ caves, and now, after what you say, I fear I have been betrayed.” Gerda looked at her skeptically. “You cannot give me to Tyr if that is his wish. Whatever his offer, my mission is too great.”

“How do I know what you say is not a fabrication?”

“You know I am a guardian. If you doubt my word, probe my mind again and you will see.”
9/25/04 9:18pm-9:52pm
Gerda stared at Samantha as if she were made of lace; like every secret could be revealed as she moved through her layers. But then it stopped, and Gerda raised her arm. Out from her arm came a white sparkling light, it intensified for a moment then settled. After shielding her eyes, Samantha looked on and saw a key sitting in the palm of her hand. It was old, made of pure silver, and it took up the entire hand of the giantess. Beauty had never been more finely crafted; ruins were spelled out across the surface.

“I will do as you ask, guardian.” Gerda stood and towered over Samantha. It was as if she grew larger as she moved forward and poked one finger up at her. “But…you must do me a favor as well.”

“I have to get back…”

The hand closed on the key, eyes reddened, and shoulders blossomed large. “You have no idea what it is I offer. It would be the only time it has ever been offered into the hands of one who is not of my clan. If you refuse this, then I will wish you luck finding a way out.” Her eyebrows perked and she relaxed a bit. “It is a small thing really, and if you do it right, it could be most beneficial.”

What choice do I have? Clyde and Billy will have to wait, if I started making my own portals, I would have no idea where I would wind up.

“What do I have to do?”

* * *
Just west of Lake Michigan near North and Clarke, across from Lincoln Park Zoo, was the historical museum. Very crème de la crème dressed couples wandered in at six o’clock in the evening. They were dressed in the finest, full tuxedos and gowns, to go to a benefit for some local organization. The museum was not typical, for it was more a gallery of sorts, with large rooms saved for having private parties. The only real staff that stayed on was security guards and the administration employees. They had a grand total of eight employees. Tonight they needed two to watch the front door and let people in to use the grand room in the center. The regular gallery sections had been closed down to the public for the day. A woman with blonde hair stood at the front door with the guards making their guests feel welcomed.

As a man approached the door with his wife wearing a beautiful golden evening gown, a green Honda civic squealed to a stop, while jumping the curb and coming to rest in front of the building; not ten feet from the surprised couple.

What’s with all the penguins? Clyde jumped from the car and came around the passenger side. Tanya and Luke were already lifting Bill from the car. Clyde spotted the blonde administration worker and headed towards her.

“Annie, great! We need to get in, we have trouble.”

As he approached her with his black, sloganed t-shirt and jeans, the penguin suited man turned and looked at her.

“Ms. Dearborn, do you know these people?”

Annie turned her cheek towards them and replied, “I don’t believe I do, well, I have a sister named Annie. People often remark how much alike we look, but really, this is too much!” She waved her arms in the air in the direction of this rag tag group. He, on the other hand, came up short.

“Good, get rid of them then. I’ll see you inside.”

The man escorted his wife in. Annie’s head turned to follow them in, and out of the corner of Clyde’s eye he saw a few strands of hair turn pinkish, then it reverted. From inside came another guard. Annie swung back around, this time with concern like a herder for his sheep.

“Where have you been? We have been looking for you. This city has turned hazardous for our…” She stopped when she what Luke and Tanya were carrying. “Oh my god!”

“Annie we barely made it here. They…”

“Not now, I have to get rid of you.”

“But…” She shot up her hand, palm up.

“Abe, take these associates to the side entrance and get them down the side tunnel under the building. Safely. Understood?” He nodded and started off to help the pair with their burden. “Now, Clyde you need to go with them. Jonas will move your car to the underground parking at Lincoln Park. You need to get out of sight.” She turned to enter the building and the function, when she stopped and twirled. Her eyes scrunched and she searched. “Where’s Samantha?”

Clyde’s heart dropped like it had just become cement. “I had hoped you would know.”

Taking a breath and pushing her lips together slowly, she motioned for everybody to move. “I’ll be down as soon as I can, I promise. There is a call out. We are much more alone then you know right now. Everything bad that could happen…well, I will be down later.” With that she twirled and was lost in the glass reflection of the rotating doors.

Annie would not hide us downstairs if this place was not safe. Still, though, I should be careful, there are too many people around and not enough of us should something occur. Am I afraid to stay here too long? What’s too long, ten minutes? Stop this! Annie will know what to do, she’ll fix it.
9/30/04 8:48pm – 9:20 pm
Abe, dressed in an immaculate tuxedo helped Clyde carry Billy around to the side of the museum. Once there, he waved a hand at the sidewalk. A section of sidewalk became pale and then vanished. It opened onto a narrow set of stairs leading down into darkness. Abe snapped his fingers and torches along the wall flared to life.

Billy was coming to, blinking rapidly. “W-where,” he moaned. Clyde shushed him, and then with Lucas’ help lifted him to his feet. Abe started down the stairs. Clyde waved Tanya ahead, and then awkwardly tried to support Billy while going down the stairs. Lucas followed, scanning the street as he did so. Clyde saw Lucas doing this and smiled. He was learning.

At the bottom of the stairs, Abe produced a ring of golden keys. Each key shone brightly in the torchlight. Abe selected one, small and looking brand new. The key slid into the lock with a soft click. The room at the bottom of the stairs was warm and soothing. The walls were lined with plush couches. In the center of the room was an open hearth with a small fire that crackled and popped. Clyde set Billy down and surveyed the room. There were two doors, besides the one they entered, and a pantry on the far wall. Abe turned to Clyde.

“One door leads to a powder room, the other to the rest of the museum,” he said. “There are only two keys into this room. Annie has the other. No one else will be able to enter without one of us.”

“How long will this shindig upstairs last?” Clyde asked.

“I’d give it an hour and a half, two at the most.” He looked down at his watch. “I really must attend the guests upstairs. In the mean time rest, the pantry will provide whatever you need.”


Abe went to the second door and left. Clyde turned back to the rest of the group. Tanya and Lucas sat together. Tanya looked pale, but otherwise okay. Billy was sitting up, staring at the bloody rags at the end of his right arm. Well, at least he’s awake now, Clyde thought.

“How you doin’?” Clyde asked.

“My-my hand. I can’t believe that thing took my hand! Why didn’t you stop it? Why didn’t you do something?”

“Calm down Billy.” Lucas and Tanya looked nervous. “I did everything that I could, but Fenris can only be quelled by the leash. It was you that called the leash, and you that quelled the beast. The man who banishes Fenris must pay a hefty price. That is how it has always been.”

“But you’re a guardian! It’s your duty to protect me!”

“I know what my duty is, but I deal in luck. There are only a few who can pull Gleipnir out of thin air.”

“Yeah,” Tanya cut in, “we all did everything we could.”

Clyde cut her off with a wave of his hand. Billy was flush, and his eyes had a fiery cast. Clyde sat down across from Billy. He took off his glasses, the light would not effect him here, and tried to project calmness at Billy. Clyde had never been as good at projection as Samantha. That was always the way though, where one sibling was exceptional, the other was lacking.

“I wasn’t expecting so strong an attack. I admit it took me by surprise. It will not happen again. That I promise. I need you to stay calm. Getting excited isn’t going to help anything.”

Billy’s face was still flush, but his eyes had lost their fierceness. He sat back cradling his wrist in his lap. Tanya came over and sat next to him. Billy didn’t seem to notice. He had a distant look on his face, and he was staring at his hand. Tanya reached out and touched his arm lightly. Bill turned his head toward her.

“Let me take a look at your arm,” she said. “I have some skills as a healer. I can as least stop the bleeding.”
10/02/04 6:43pm-7:11pm 10/03/04 8:27pm-9:05pm
“Okay.” But, even as Bill said this, he was slipping under again. Tanya settled Bill down on the couch then looked up at Clyde, questioning. Her face had gone a dramatic change. Where just an hour ago it looked like pit bulls and concrete blocks had partied on her face, it now reflected that of a pretty 20 something young lady. Her clothes, however, still looked like hell.

“Let him sleep, I already looked into the type of healing it would take to fix his hand. It was made by too powerful a being to be replaced, and we can’t risk Fenris being released because his hand is back.” Tanya nodded and moved away to fetch a blanket for Bill. Clyde stooped over Bill and scrutinized his complexion. He had a fever and his whitening skin reminded Clyde of stretched and molded ice of a glacier.

He moved away when Tanya came back with the blanket. Lucas was playing with the fire pit, attempting to warm the room or play pyro-technician.

“I’ll just make sure he has no further bleeding; plus the wound may need cleaning considering…” She arched her eyebrows as she settled next to Bill. Clyde knew that she did not trust the hygiene of Rufus. That’s true, but Rufus has been around quite awhile, and he’s still out in the field. He moved on into the room.

“Lucas?” Clyde joined the younger by the fire, and stretching his hand he felt the currents the fire had chosen already. A large log smoldered on the bottom and very little air was being allowed to seep. Swinging the small currents of air that were cycling around the fire due to the changing of temperatures, Clyde increased the chances of certain pieces of wood into rolling or breaking to allow the air to enter and the fire to spread.

“I’ve been trying to do that for the last five minutes.”

“You’ll get it, it takes time.” Clyde warmed his back to the fire. “But, what concerns me, Luke, if I may call you that, is what in the ten circles of hell are you guys doing out here?”

“It’s a question I keep asking myself. No doubt they had some kind of reason for it.”

“No, that’s not it. I know the roster; I know who is where and why, within my area of influence. Not knowing can be…well, dangerous.” Clyde scrambled his hair and stomped around the hearth. Lucas followed.

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, that Annie had no idea that you guys were even around. And, the people who were supposed to be around were not. It doesn’t make sense. Does it?” Abruptly, Clyde stalked to the couch on the opposite side of the room from Bill and Tanya. He waved Lucas over. “Okay, so here is how I see it. I could be wrong; it would not be the first time today.” Arm slung around Lucas’s shoulder, Clyde leaned in. “You were put here on purpose, to be here for today. Tell me, what was your assignment today?”

“We came in from the north. Training had been going on up there for quite sometime.”

“What training?”

“I can’t go into that right now. To do so would be…” Lucas looked up at Tanya walking across.

“Go ahead Lucas, it could mean something. Besides, like it or not we’re here now; stuck and Clyde deserves to know the story.”

Clyde smiled and added, “Yes, and besides, what else are we going to do for the next hour and ten?”

* * *
“Gerda?” She heard some huffing. “Princess?” The dark room was darker than the blackest night. With no moon, no reflecting surfaces, and no beady eyes looking out at you, it was scarier than actually seeing a whole room of demonic creatures.

“I am here, but…”

10/5/04 2:20pm-2:51pm
There was sorrow in her voice. Samantha knew something was wrong. Instinctively she created a shield around her. She squeezed the key in her hand; she could feel intricate scrollwork along its side.

“Lord Tyr,” Gerda began, “well…he can be very persuasive.” Samantha’s breath stopped short. “He said he knew you were here. That cave rat, Lapis, led him right to you. And, well, he struck a bargain with me.”

“Oh no. Please Gerda, whatever his offer you can’t take it. Do you know what would happen if Tyr got his hands on the Gateway? The effects would be devastating, not only for my world, but this world as well.”

“But Samantha, he promised to return my father to me…I am truly sorry.”

Now Samantha created a light. At the entrance of the room was Gerda. She was flanked by a dozen guards. Yet Samantha’s eyes were drawn to the man to Gerda’s right. Tyr stood with a grin full of malicious intent on his face, and yellow eyes nearly glowing. There was no way to go for the entrance without going through them.

“No,” Samantha whispered.

“Hello Samantha,” Tyr said coolly. “It’s so nice to see you again. I am looking forward to finding out how you found the energy to contact Lapis.”

Suppressing a shiver, Samantha pushed on the strands of luck, tweaking them around the guards in any way she could. She turned, looking for a way out. Someone behind her, probably Gerda or Tyr, snapped their fingers and the guards were rushing after her. There was a thud and a groan as one of them fell, and a clang as another dropped a sword. But the rest came on.

She pumped more power into her light, creating a blinding flare. There were more groans, and for a moment, the thundering footsteps stopped.

“Do not let her escape you imbeciles, or your fates will be far worse then the kings!” Tyr yelled.

The flare had illuminated the entire room and at the far end, very far she could see a door marked with the same kind of scrollwork as the key. Go to the last room in the Northwest corridor, Gerda had said, there you will find a door. She raced for it, feeling Tyr twist the luck around her. Her feet wanted to trip over each other, and her legs fall out from under her.

The footsteps of the giant guard were getting closer. Samantha reached the door, but fumbled with the key. The memories of Tyr’s torture swam through her mind. Finally she rammed the key into the lock. The door shimmered. The lead guard was almost on top of her. She turned the knob then wrenched the door open.
10/8/04 12:48am-1:36am