[Well, here it is, folks. The final few chapters in my novella. Thanks to everybody who stuck with the long serialization process! Let me know what you think of the tale! I’ll have a link at the end of the post to the ENTIRE STORY in one handy place, if you missed a chapter or two! In addition, if I get around to it, I’ll compile the story into book form and for digital download. I’ll try to keep you all informed as that project progresses! Thanks again! On to the final devastation!!! —RFY]
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 34)
Shea rushed through the now door-less opening to the roof, followed by Rose and Allen, as Stacey crumpled forward. Wei and Biggs, forced to uphold the barrier without their third, a barrier which was still under attack by dozens of beetles and Shadow creatures, screamed in shock and pain then both collapsed.
Allen felt the hairs on his body twitch as the shimmering barrier dissolved. He heard a high, cackling laugh that filled his chest with ice, and saw Krystal float down to the roof next to Angie. Krystal raised her arm and waved, and Angie mimicked her movements, exactly. Krystal moved her other arm, stretching it out to her side, and Angie swung her arm, which still held the knife in it, out as well. Krystal smiled a wild, wicked grin.
“No…” Rose said, quietly, her hands springing up to cover her cheeks.
The smiles on both Krystal and Angie’s faces grew sickeningly huge, then Krystal jerked her outstretched arm quickly to her heart, and Angie, in return, drove the knife in her hand into her chest. She fell, face down, onto the rooftop.
Both Rose and Allen screamed in anguish. Shea drew her pistol and fired into the witch, the bullets tearing at her ragged, black dress but seeming to pass straight through Krystal’s body.
Krystal floated up, off the rooftop, her black knife appearing in her hand, when she suddenly froze in mid-air. A dry whisper of a voice said, softly, “Stop.”
Krystal’s face looked pained. Her grin evaporated, and a look of fear took its place. The air on the roof grew colder, and a dark mist formed between Krystal and the others. The mist swirled like black ink in the air, and a single Shadow appeared, with red light pouring from its eyes. It swam forward a step, a liquid shadow, then solidified into an ancient looking man, standing on the rooftop, completely bald, in a shining black suit.
“Come down,” he said, his voice dry and soft, barely a whisper. Krystal landed on the roof then froze like a statue.
“You are Allen Tombes,” the man said, not asking, just stating a fact. His eyes were red, with black irises that stared directly at Allen. Allen shivered. He looked at Rose, who seemed to be as immobile as Krystal, then at Shea, who was also frozen.
“Who are you?” Allen said, looking back at the man. Though Allen tried to sound brave, even defiant, his voice shook.
“Such a waste,” the man said, nudging the body of one of the guards lying on the rooftop with the toe of a shining black shoe. “All of this senseless death. It’s tragic, isn’t it?” The man’s red eyes swiveled back toward Allen. The man’s head shook slowly back and forth, apparently deeply moved by the crumpled bodies at his feet. “But we can stop all of this, of course,” the man said, his voice consoling, almost pleading with Allen to understand him.
“What do you mean?” Allen said. The man took another step toward him.
“Your parents didn’t have to die. You know that to be true, don’t you? Your friends, none of these poor, simple humans,” the man waved at the bodies lying around, wisps of black smoke trailing his hand as it moved through the air. He took another step.
“It’s you that I want, child,” the man said in a calm, almost sweet, voice. Allen shivered again.
“Why? Why me?” Allen said. He moved back a step.
“Because I know what is inside of you. I’m trying to save your world. The creature that’s trying to take you over, to possess you, I know what it’s capable of doing. It’s already tried to murder your brother, one of the only family members you have left.” The man stepped closer. “If you allow it to come into your world completely, it will consume every living creature on this planet. Everything will be destroyed,” the man said, in a pity-filled, sad voice. The man stopped, only a few paces from Allen, and stared at him, his red eyes unblinking.
Allen’s lip trembled.
“You can save your sister—your brother—all of your friends,” the man said.
“How?” Allen asked, his voice a whisper that echoed the Shadow Lord’s soft voice.
“If you surrender, if you will come with me, now, so that I can sever the connection between you and the fire demon, I will call off the attack on this building. I’ll withdraw my forces and leave everyone else unharmed,” his voice was so calm, so soft and compelling. Allen glanced again at his sister, her face frozen in a scream of terror.
Allen shook all over. He felt tired, almost relieved that this would all be over, very soon. He looked back into the chalk white face of the man in front of him, who was smiling, reassuringly, and nodding.
“Just so you know, Kiddo,” said a voice from behind Allen, “he’s lying.” Allen turned and saw Chaz walking through the doorway and step out onto the roof. Chaz was carrying something in his hand.
“There’s no chance in Hell he’s going to call off the attack. He just wants you dead so he can slaughter everyone here more easily. But now, kid, you better duck,” Chaz said.
Allen turned back toward the white-faced man in time to see his features contort into a mask of rage, the red eyes blazing, then the face melted into mist, and the creature lunged at Allen, its arms spread wide.
Allen dove toward Rose, who was still frozen, and pulled her out of the way. Chaz threw a magnesium flare into the Shadow Lord’s face. It screamed, a high, echoing howl, and flew backwards.
The creature yelled something in a language that Allen couldn’t understand, and Krystal snapped back to life.
Chaz, who was bent over Allen’s bag, yelled to him, “Hey! You’ll want this!” He tossed Allen’s sword to him, and Allen, who was still laying on the rooftop next to his sister, caught it with one hand.
“What’s going on?” Rose said. She sat up, looking confused.
“You’re about to die!” shrieked Krystal, brandishing her huge, black blade.
Allen jumped to his feet and pulled the sheath off his sword, which burned a bright blue-green. He moved, quickly, between Rose and Krystal, and set his feet in a fighting stance like the one he’d seen Chris take in the training room. Allen heard a crackle of energy, and Kitsle, buzzing loudly, flew out of his bag, hovering near Allen’s shoulder.
The Shadow Lord growled a few words in his strange language, and Allen recognized enough to know it was some kind of curse. Then the Shadow Lord vanished with a thunder-crack and a swirl of black mist.
The evil smile that had been on Krystal’s face fell, replaced by a look of savage anger. She glanced around the rooftop, and the wicked smile returned. She switched her knife from her right hand to her left, then drew the blade across her empty palm. A thick, black blood oozed out of the wound. The knife floated out of her hand and hovered above her head as she dipped a finger into the blood and drew a spell in the air in this sick, black ink.
“This ain’t good…” Chaz said, moving closer to Allen and Rose.
Allen was confused, then noticed the bodies on the roof starting to twitch, then move, then stand.
“Kitsle, some of them have guns,” Chaz said.
Kitsle’s wings flashed and he zipped off toward the nearest group of armed guards. Their eyes were black and faces blank. They moved slowly at first, but picked up speed as the spell worked its way into their joints. Allen saw Kitsle exploded in a shower of sparks, and a few of the guards dropped back to the rooftop.
“Oh no…” moaned Rose, as she spotted Angie, the knife handle still sticking out of her chest, lumbering toward them.
“Come on!” Chaz said, heading back toward the doorway. He kicked at a guard, whose uniform was covered in blood from a horrible neck wound.
Kitsle flashed, again and again, dropping guards then buzzing on the next group, but it was obvious to Allen that there were too many for Kitsle to stop them all. They had to escape. Then he remembered the real threat.
“Where did Krystal go?” Allen yelled. Rose, almost at the doorway, screamed as Krystal flew out of the sky above Allen, slashing him across the chest with her knife. He fell to his knees, touching his fingers to the gash in his chest and looking at the blood on his fingers.
“No!” Rose screamed. She tried to run back to Allen, but Chaz grabbed her by the shoulders. “Let go of me!” she yelled, smacking at his hands.
“You don’t want to be out there right now,” Chaz said and pointed at Allen, whose hair had gone dark blue and begun to burn.
Allen, moving like a puppet pulled by invisible strings, floated up from the rooftop and into a standing position, hovering inches above the roof’s surface. He moved his head, slowly, scanning the reanimated guards rushing toward him. In his right hand he still held his sword, but it was now engulfed in dark blue flame. He raised his empty hand and a swath of fire, moving like a churning wave, flew out at the approaching hordes. Their bodies ignited instantly on contact with the flame, flesh and clothing and bone melting like wax. The guards, liquified by the flame, all fell. Rose, seeing the flames reach the lumbering form of her friend, covered her eyes as Angie’s body melted away, the charred metal of the knife clanking on the roof amidst anemic ashes.
Krystal cursed at Allen as she floated high above the roof. Allen raised his empty hand to her and she, again, froze in mid-air. Allen’s fingers twisted and Krystal was dragged through the air toward him, screaming in pain the entire way.
“You tried to kill us,” Allen said in a dreamlike, hollow tone. He rubbed his fingers across the place on his chest where the gash had been, though it was completely healed now, with only the slashed shirt, swimming in flames, as evidence of what should have been a mortal wound.
“You don’t belong here!” Krystal spat, her face twisting in fury.
“And you do?” Allen asked, his flaming, blue-black eyes looking into her dark, dead ones.
“Humans are soft and weak. You’ll destroy them all,” she growled.
“Maybe,” Allen said, softly, a smile suddenly curling his lips, “but first, we’re going to destroy you. You’ve been killed once already. We can smell the stench of death all over you. It’s disgusting.” Allen closed his eyes and sniffed the air. “And more importantly,” he said, opening his eyes and smiling, “we hate you.” Allen smiled wickedly, then stabbed his sword into the witch’s chest. She screamed. The flames around Allen grew brighter and more intense, and the sword in Krystal’s chest boiled with dark blue flame. Her mouth fell open and her head rolled to one side, then she burst into flames and, in seconds, melted into ashes.
Allen looked at the remains of Krystal on the rooftop. He was still smiling.
“Allen?” Rose called, her voice shaking with fear. Allen turned his head toward her and Chaz, still half in the doorway. Allen’s smile slid away, leaving his expression blank.
Kitsle buzzed up to Allen at that moment, fluttering and clicking, then flew to the edge of the building. Allen, still hovering just above the surface of the roof, followed Kitsle with his eyes. Kitsle clicked and flashed again, then flew over the side of the building and down toward the street. Allen, looking back at his sister, rose higher into the air, floated toward the edge of the building, and followed Kitsle over the side.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 35)
On the streets below, Chris was still waging what he was beginning to consider a losing war against the Shadows, now that the shield spell had fallen. When the shield fell, the remaining beetles and dozens of Shadows and crawling eyeballs had entered the building, smashing or chewing through windows or demolishing sections of the building’s walls. Haro ordered his clan to remain with Chris and continue the fight against the Devourer, but Haro himself had rushed off to the dorm rooms to make certain that all the children living within were protected.
Meanwhile, sitting cross-legged on the ground in front of the steps to the Brashley building’s doors, Tazzi had succeeded in casting his freezing spell on the Devourer, which had slowed the great nightmare down, but hadn’t stopped it completely. Its tentacles still moved and thrashed, but now at half speed, like a film played in slow motion. Maintaining the spell required all of his focus and mental energy, and he was surrounded by a circle of Eddings’s men, who fought back Shadows and scuttling eyeballs. Horace, swinging a gigantic, curved scimitar, which glowed red, tore through Shadows and knocked screeching eyeballs away.
“Shit! There goes the power,” Chris said to Horace, as the beetles apparently found and chewed through the main power conduits for the building. As he tore off his now useless headset, the majority of the lights in the building behind him went out. Chris smiled wearily as one of Haro’s clan slashed through a swarm of eyeballs, which seemed to exist at a strange energy frequency that made it impossible for most of the human guards to kill them, even the elites. The Simmerons, however, had no trouble destroying the spidery creatures. But Chris also realized that his forces where getting tired, while the enemy onslaught continued to press forward, Shadows were still slipping out of the rift into the streets, and new eyeballs were being let loose whenever a Simmeron tore a thrashing tentacle out of the Devourer. It was still at least an hour before dawn, and Chris was uncertain how much more the guards could take. He also feared for Allen and Rose, who the control room had lost contact with before the shield spell went down.
Chris felt the ache in his arms as he slashed through a Shadow that had appeared near Tazzi’s group. He looked at Horace, who was sweating and moving more slowly than before, but still smiling as he punted an eyeball and it screeched in pain.
Chris heard a buzzing sound over the din of the battle, and the street began to glow with a bluish light. He looked up and saw a dark blue fireball falling slowly down the side of the building, tracked by a flashing globe of electrical sparks, which he recognized, after a few seconds, as his brother’s lightning bug. As the ball of flame drew nearer, Chris realized that it was Allen. Despite the warm wind that flashed out of his brother’s body, Chris felt a cold chill.
As he watched the figure of his brother, consumed by a layer of dark blue flame, land on the street, Chris was suddenly knocked off his feet by a huge, blue beetle, which pinned him to the ground.
The beetle snapped at his face with its giant mandibles, and stabbed him in the side with one of its pointed claws. The claw tore through the body armor and into his flesh, and Chris screamed. He saw the shadow of a figure approaching, then a huge boot kicked the beetle, crunching into its shell and sending it flying down the street. Horace leaped over Chris, following his limping prey. His red scimitar flashed through the air, slicing the beetle in two.
Horace’s huge hand pulled Chris back onto his feet, and Chris heard Horace’s deep, warm laugh.
“Now we’re even for Madrid!” Horace said and smacked Chris on the back.
“You still owe me one for Hong Kong,” Chris grunted, holding his hand to his bleeding side.
Horace laughed again and dashed back towards the group of men guarding Tazzi. Chris looked around for Allen and saw him hovering slightly above the pavement staring at the Devourer. A swarm of eyeballs rushed toward Allen, swiping at him with their spidery legs, but as they touched him, they squealed in pain and melted like ice under a blow torch.
Kitsle buzzed over to Chris, flew down near his bleeding side, clicked and chirped a few things that Chris didn’t understand, then flew back to Allen, clicking and sparking. Allen turned to look at Chris for a second, his eyes flaring with dark blue flame, then scanned the entire battle scene. In a voice that vibrated with power, Allen said to Chris, “You should take your men back into the building. I don’t want you getting in the way of my fun.” Not waiting for a reply, Allen faced the Devourer again, and began walking toward it in slow, measured steps, each footfall a few inches off the ground but still scorching the pavement.
Chris’s mouth felt too dry to talk, but he tried to swallow, then he yelled out, “Everyone, back to the building. It’s about to get serious out here.” Horace nodded, slowly, as the flames around Allen intensified. He waved for his men to follow Chris inside.
As Allen approached, the Devourer moaned, a hollow, terrible sound that shook the windows of nearby buildings. The great beast shuddered, and another swarm of eyeballs pulled themselves from its nightmarish body and raced toward Allen. He raised his empty left hand and a tidal-wave of dark blue flame rushed at the approaching swarm, melting them instantly. The tar in the pavement began to bubble under Allen’s form, and the heat flashed off his body in licks of dark blue flame. He continued to walk toward the giant creature, casually tossing the sword away.
Chris, who had retreated to the top of the steps, watched Allen move casually toward the Devourer.
Horace turned to glance back at the scene before going through the doors of the building, and said, “Sure am glad he’s on our side!”
“Is he?” Chris asked.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 36)
The Devourer bellowed another low, moaning howl, like the sound of a train wreck or a slow motion explosion. The creature, released from Tazzi’s spell, swiped one of its giant tentacles at Allen and grabbed him, pinning his arms to his side. The tentacle pulled Allen toward the huge head, and the body began to tilt backward, ready to consume him.
Chris felt the hairs on his body go stiff, then a huge gust of hot wind pushed into him, stinging his eyes and drying his lips, instantly.
“I think we’d better get inside,” Chris said.
“Yeah, I think you’re right,” Horace said.
The Simmerons, fire creatures themselves, all stopped their hunting and gathered at the bottom of the steps to the Brashley building to watch the clash between Allen and the Devourer. Chris waved the last few humans inside the building and closed the doors. Tazzi cast a protective charm on the doors, then shrugged his shoulders, indicating that it was the best he could do, but under the circumstances, he didn’t know if it would be strong enough to hold against Hellfire. Chris and Horace ordered their men to take the stairs and start hunting, floor by floor, for any creatures that had gotten inside the building.
Outside, Allen was held tight in the Devourer’s tentacle, but was still smiling. The flame around him grew darker, as if the midnight sky were pouring out of him in thick waves. The Devourer began to shriek, and the tentacle wrapped around Allen began to bubble and boil, then shrivel away, melting as the eyeballs had.
The Devourer shifted its massive body and started to pull itself on its remaining tentacles back toward the rift. Allen, spotting this, grew a sick, devilish grin, and waved his hand toward the glimmering opening. The rift wavered, then collapsed in a crash of sparks and sound. The Devourer, cut off from escape, roared, shattering thousands of windows and rocking Allen backward. It raised dozens of thrashing tentacles, and pushed itself into the air with the four thickest at its base. It pounced on top of Allen, then folded itself around him, sucking him in and constricting itself around his form.
The Great Wolf, woken by sounds of the Devourer’s attack, staggered to its feet.
“We are lost,” it said solemnly. A few of the Simmerons laughed.
There was a strange, sucking sound, and a wind, which pulled cars, debris, and bodies toward the Devourer, and even staggered a few of Haro’s clan, who began to grumble in their language, some laughing loudly.
The Great Wolf strained against the pull of the wind, crouching low to the ground.
The Devourer began to moan again, stretched a tentacle, weakly, toward the Great Wolf, then was lost to sight as dark blue flame began to flare up from inside the monster’s body. Dark waves of fire suddenly exploded from the Devourer, melting the streets and vaporizing the debris that had been sucked too near. The blue flame crackled, reaching outward to consume everything around it, then stopped, frozen for an instant, then flooding back into itself, revealing Allen, floating in the center of a crater.
He hovered back to a portion of the street that hadn’t been completely destroyed, stepped onto the pavement, and laughed, a sick, inhuman, insane sound. Haro’s clan moved in front of Allen and bowed. Allen looked at them and chuckled.
The Great Wolf approached, slowly. “I know you,” the wolf said.
“Do you?” Allen asked, his blue flame eyes staring into the wolf’s brilliant green.
“You are Agni, the Fire God,” the Great Wolf said, bowing his head.
Allen smiled. “And you are a forest spirit, young pup. There, now we’ve introduced ourselves.”
The wolf stared, fearfully, at Allen, whose attention had been captured by Kitsle, buzzing near Allen’s head.
“Why have you returned?” the Great Wolf asked, once Allen’s gaze had finally returned to him.
“It’s been nearly eleven thousand years since I’ve visited. I was sleeping in a comfortable abyss, when this child,” he tapped himself on the chest,” called for flame. I heard him. It’s been so long since I’ve had true followers here, I’d nearly forgotten the place.”
“Few true gods remain on this world. Humans have lost their taste for them, and sadly, have invented their own gods to take the place of the natural spirits,” the wolf said.
“Perhaps they need to be reminded of why they worshiped and feared the gods,” Allen said, the devilish smile returning to his face. Kitsle clicked and buzzed in his ear, and the smile faded.
“Allen!” yelled Rose as she, Chris, and Haro came through the doors of the building. Shayla, Cheever, and a number of others followed. The sun, a thin, orange crack in the sky, appeared between the buildings blocking the horizon.
Allen scanned the multitude of faces appearing from inside the building. He looked at Kitsle, the Great Wolf, and the bowing Simmerons, who were quickly joined by Haro. Allen watched as Rose walked toward him, but was stopped by Chris, his hand grabbing her arm. She shook loose of her brother’s grip and continued forward, her eyes wide with fear.
“You cannot stay on this planet, Fire God. Surely, you know this,” the wolf said.
“No ‘thank you’ for getting rid of your little pest problem?” Allen said, inclining his head toward the smoldering crater behind him.
“This world, these creatures, they are all far too delicate to worship you. They could not survive your presence. Not for very long,” the wolf said.
Allen raised a hand and looked at it. “This boy seems pretty sturdy to me,” he said, and Kitsle landed on one of his fingers, clicking and popping wildly.
“The boy is an exception, a throw-back to the time of heroes,” the wolf said. “Were it not for his strength of spirit, that body would have been destroyed the moment you entered it.”
Kitsle clicked and buzzed, glowing and shooting sparks.
Allen frowned and his shoulders slumped.
“Fine,” he said, in a sulking voice. “I can see that I’m not wanted here.” His expression brightened, “Maybe I’ll go hunting for more of these old beasts to kill. That was fun!” he said, then his face went blank and his body fell to the ground.
ALLEN TOMBES – FIRE FROM WATER (Chapter 37)
Three months later—-
Chris slashed at Allen with his blue, glowing blade. Allen blocked the swing, his own blade flashing blue-green as he spun and counter attacked with a thrust. The sensor chip on the back of his hand glinted under the lights of the training room’s high ceiling, which still bore the scorch marks from Allen’s first training session. Most of the remodeling and repairs were already complete, but the room still needed to be repainted.
Cheever and Rose stood behind the computer cart, Cheever nodding and brushing absently at his mustache.
Chris thrust his sword at Allen’s chest, and Allen parried the thrust, but the maneuver left him off balance. Chris swept his foot out, tripping Allen, who fell to the floor with a thud.
Rose gasped, then shook her head. Chris bent over Allen and said, “Are you always going to fall for that?” He reached out his hand and pulled Allen to his feet.
“Peaked at 280 that time!” Cheever said, clapping his hands. “Temperature’s normal, but his heart rate is pretty high. We’d better call it a day.”
“So, how are you feeling?” Rose asked Allen, looking a bit apprehensive.
“You ask me that every time we practice,” Allen said. “I’m fine. It’s been three months, Sis! I’m not possessed anymore!”
“That’s for sure,” Chris said, chiding him.
“Don’t listen to him, my boy. You’re already generating one of the strongest energy fields at Brashley, and you’re still only fifteen!” Cheever said, patting Allen on the shoulder.
“Yeah, but his technique sucks,” Chris laughed.
“Well, look who my teacher is! What do you expect?” Allen said, laughing.
“Ooooo… Good one,” Chris said, punching his brother in the shoulder.
“You boys play nice,” Shea said as she stepped into the training room. Allen went red in the face. “Rose, my mom wants to see you. There’s a job that needs a witch, and Esmeralda says you can ride along as part of your training, if you’re not too busy.”
“Hot damn! See you guys later! I’ve got a job to do,” Rose said, grabbing her jacket from a chair and following Shea out of the room.
“When do I get to go on a job?” Allen asked as he helped Cheever push the computer cart back into the storage room.
“I’m sure it won’t be long,” Cheever said, smiling the huge grin that made his eyes disappear.
“Yeah, we destroyed a huge chunk of the Shadow population, but they’ll build back up,” Chris said. “I’m sure you didn’t put us out of a job, yet.”
“Do you think the Shadow Lord is going to keep trying to kill me?” Allen asked, his face suddenly dark.
“I wouldn’t worry,” Chris said. “Just keep up with your training, and if he does ever come after you, we’ll be ready to kick his ass, again.” Chris mussed Allen’s hair, then turned off the lights and they walked out the door.
[There are thoughts in my head for a second Allen Tombes story, but nothing even in the outlining stages as of yet. If anyone is interested in hearing what happens next, let me know. Meanwhile, I think I’m going to switch back to my unfinished Sharkey and the Jabberwock story! I’ll do some reediting, maybe some reposts of the early chapters, and then finish that sucker, too! Thanks again for hanging with me and the monsters for a bit!]
Here’s a link to the entire Allen Tombes story:
—Richard F. Yates
(Primitive Thoughtician and Grand Hoohaa of The P.E.W.)