The Lost Vale

Chapter 9

Should old acquaintances be forgot

Devon fell to the ground. Instead of a painful crunch, he was treated to a splash again. Mythran's spell had worn off, but only while he was about ten feet above the ground. Poor Mythran's timing had been a little off, but then again Devon thought, no-one is perfect, or in this case was perfect.

"Devon," said a harmony of voices, "so good of you to drop in."

Then there was a loud bang as a luckless Cyrrus fell on the stone floor of the cave, face first. With a groan the theurgist rolled over, and the blood covering his face shocked Devon. Apparently, his descent had been much slower, so he had fallen quite a height.

"Well, well," said the voice with renewed sarcasm. "If it isn't two of my favourite boys…"

"Hydros!" said Devon, scrambling to his feet. "Again!"

The tentacle in the water waved back and forth with wry amusement. "Indeed, groundling. It is I, again. And this time I doubt your precious friends will be able to save you."

Devon, on his feet, looked around. The cave was incredibly dimly lit. He could make out Cyrrus next to him, and beyond him lay a rusted scimitar of some poor sod who had drowned here many years ago. He could not even see the walls of the cave, so Devon could not even estimate the size of the cave.

"So…" said Devon, "you intend to kill us."

"Oh, no…" said the Lurker. "Not quite. That was a temporary phase I was going through. Losing ones immortality can do a thing like that to a person. No… I intend to… complete the set as it were."

Devon slowly backed away from the Lurker, and he was soon by Cyrrus's side. He could see the young theurgist was awake, and looking around concerned, but he was too weak to move.

"My legs…" said Cyrrus, "they're broken I think!" He tried in vain to stand up, and only ended up back on his back.

"Rest easy, friend," said Devon. "I'm doing what I can."

"What does she mean, complete the set?" Cyrrus asked, concerned.

The Undead of Hydros attack Devon and an unconscious Cyrrus Devon looked about, and in the dim light of the Titan's aura, he could see shadows moving about.

"Well," said the Lurker. "Why not see for yourself. IN LOR!"

With that the entire cave was lit up. It ended fourty feet to the north, where Devon was, with the great staircase they had been ascending. At the top, somewhere, were Beren and Darion, probably despairing at the loss of their three friends. The shadows he had seen, now illuminated, were a mob of sickly green corpses, shuffling pathetically towards the two men.

"Well, groundlings! Lithos did not put those that he received to waste, so why shouldn't I?" said the Lurker's harmony of voices.

"But…" said Cyrrus to Devon, blood dripping down his face, "she cannot do that!! She should not be able to!"

"Oh, it wasn't all my doing!" said the Lurker, the sarcasm in her voice obvious. "You two helped me a lot."

"What do you mean, Lurker?" asked Devon, fear in his voice.

"Look closer, fool!"

Devon looked at the pile of zombies that staggered towards him. Then, at the back his eyes widened. There was one who did not look like the rest. She was a slender woman, dressed it what had once been fine white robes, but were now coated in green seaweed, like the flesh of the other corpses.

"Remember now," said the Lurker, "when you gave her to me?"

Devon remembered. He had been slated for execution, he had faced death at the hands of the executioner, at the order of his sister Mordea, for he had been the true ruler of Tenebrae. Then the guards had caught the Avatar, his friend, who had been investigating the reason for his imprisonment. A series of clues had led the Avatar to the evidence chamber, where a book by the late Bentic had informed the Avatar of Devon's lineage. The Avatar bluffed Mordea into thinking that he now possessed the evidence. Mordea grew enraged, and attacked everyone. In a great battle Devon, the greater Tempest, had knocked her off the pier, and into the waters.

"I must say," said the Lurker, "that you were a much more promising Tempest than your sister. At least you gave me your victims whole. Saved putting their heads back on again."

"Damn you!" said Devon, as Mordea's zombified corpse struggled to keep up with the rest of the mob. In his mind, as he had contemplated his life on Stone Cove, after that great battle, he had wondered what… what if things had been different? If he had been born in the palace? If he and Mordea had grown up together, perhaps she would have been shown a conscience… perhaps they could have loved each other as brother and sister.

Just then, he looked behind to see one of Hydros's zombies lunge for him. He dove out the way, and landed with a splash in the shallow waters of the pool. Reaching forward he grabbed the scimitar.

"Oh, and…" Hydros began, "Cyrrus… I almost forgot about you. You too have a friend here. Remember your friend Torwyn? Thanks to your deceit I received your friend Torwyn hale and whole. He will make a much better recruit than his father, whose damned head keeps falling off. And let us not forget the women…"

Cyrrus, lifting his head gently, saw two forms pushing their way to the front. His eyes widened in recognition.

"Yes, Cyrrus… your mother, and Torwyn's too… they never knew what hit them when my waters hit them. Think of it, your mother, comforting Torwyn's because you killed his son… poetic justice."

Cyrrus began to cough, and blood came out. His body jerked in spasm.

"Yes, Cyrrus… you killed all three of them… thanks to you, they are mine! Aside from another, and the Tempest line, I think you are my major contributor."

Cyrrus, barely able to speak, whispered, "My mother… used to… sacrifice to you…"

"Yes, groundling! And now she has made the ultimate sacrifice."

By now, Devon was on his feet. "Cyrrus… don't believe that thing… she killed them all…"

Cyrrus moaned once, and then fell on the floor.

"Do the same, Tempest! Lie down and let my minions come to you."

Devon, scimitar in hand, lept to his feet and yelled, "Come and get me then, Titan! I know not how you got your powers back, but I will die before I find out."

"As you wish Tempest… as you wish…"

Devon swung at the zombie behind him with the scimitar. The scimitar easily lopped off the head of the first one.

"I'm not sure if Bentic would have appreciated that…" said Hydros, as Devon looked down on the misshapen, swollen, pulp that had once been the scholar's head. The zombie fell to the ground.

Devon stepped next to Cyrrus's prone body. The lead zombie lunged at him, and its talons raked his chest before it realised that Devon's sword was in its heart. Oblivious to the pain, the creature tried to claw at Devon's heart, but Devon pulled the sword up, and found it frighteningly easy to rip the flesh of the zombie apart, from the chest up through the neck to the head. Green ooze spilled over Devon, blinding him, as a second and third zombie lunged at him, knocking him on the ground. The scimitar fell with a loud clatter.

"Is this getting you down, groundling?" asked Hydros with mock concern.

As Devon tried to clear his eyes, he could smell the foul interior of the second zombie's mouth as it drooled all over him, attempting to rip out his heart. Devon frantically struggled, his questing hand finally gripped the sword, and he hit the zombie on the head with the hilt. It spat more goo onto his body, but its hold on him was weakened enough for him to kick the zombie off. Standing up, he realised that the other zombies had only circled around him, instead of all pinning him, or even, he hoped, finishing off poor Cyrrus.

Devon lunged at one of the zombies, and severed its head off. Then another, and another. Finally, as the sweat blinded him, and his heart beat incredibly quickly, he brought his sword down on another zombie. There was a clash, as the zombified Mordea's dagger blocked the blow.

Devon frantically swung at the zombified remains of his sister, but she retained the deadly proficiency she held in the knife during her mortal life. It could have been worse though, Devon thought, she could have retained her powers.

Left, right, thrust, parry. She matched all those blows. Devon found, despite the lack of reach she possessed, Mordea was not going down without a fight. In fact, if anyone were to go down, it would be him soon. Exhaustion was slowly creeping in. The last time he had rested was back when they met Rokko. His breath was ragged, irregular and shallow. Sweat almost blinded him, he was seeing clouds in his eyes.

Then Mordea stepped back. She silently gripped her dagger with both hands and ran at Devon. Devon lethargically attempted to side-step, and his right foot, still vulnerable, tripped the zombie up. With a loud smack, Mordea hit the ground, and lay there, her two legs had fallen off. Devon stepped forward, as his dead sister looked up at him, with no emotion on her face. Devon closed his eyes, and swung. He heard her head splash into the water.

"Excellent show, Devon," said the harmony of voices behind him. "The first-born Tempest will make a fine addition to the army, unlike his pathetic sister."

Devon, his face filled with hatred, stood, looking at the army of zombies. The four by Cyrrus, his mother, Torwyn, Rhian and another pathetic form were slowly dragging his body away. It seemed hopeless. Slowly the Tempest staggered towards the single tentacle, with sword drawn.

"You're not getting me that easy!" he said. He hit the water with a splash, and was soon up to his waist. Then his neck.

"Death by drowning, if you so choose…" said the Lurker. Devon felt a tugging on his leg, as a tentacle belonging to the Lurker dragged him down into the depths… again.

Devon, underwater, tried a final act of defiance before his oxygen ran out. He swung at the tentacle that dragged him. However, it was a poor swing, due to the fact that he was underwater, and half conscious. None the less, when the blow struck the silvery blur before Devon a bolt of electricity shot forth from Hydros into Devon. Devon felt power coursing through the veins in his arms. He felt better than he had done since the flooding… since he had lost his powers. He felt air in his lungs. Air, underwater, when he had been drowning only seconds ago. Not only that, he could now see the silvery body of the Lurker, a great cylindrical dome from which the tentacles came from. He could see perfectly underwater.

"What?! What is going on? This is not possible!" the Lurker cursed.

Devon's eyes closed. Ghostly visions appeared before him. He heard the voice of Odion, "Man made the Titans… man can destroy them, or man can give them their powers and supremacy again."

"I understand now!" Devon yelled, his voice barely audible underwater. "Someone has given you power! Power not just of your own, but another kind of power… and in doing so, has given me my powers back!"

Hydros shrieked, and said, "Know that this is not permanent, groundling! This was but a test of my powers! He shall fix this flaw!"

Devon teaches his enemies a lesson There was a mighty flash of light, and Devon found the Lurker had vanished. He outstretched his hands, and in a second flash of light he was standing atop the pool of water. Turning, he saw the zombies clawing at poor Cyrrus. With a yell, Devon summoned up lightning which struck the zombies, reducing them to nothing but ash. Then Devon waded across the depths of the pool, until he reached firm stone ground. Finally the Tempest stood by the Theurgist. His body was limp, there were many scratch marks, and he lay facing up, his eyes unstaring. His stomach was exposed, and the flesh had been ripped off, exposing the organs. Yet he still lived… his eyes watered, he whimpered, as his eyes looked at the puddle of slime that had once been his mother Corinth.

Devon followed his gaze, and looked from the puddle of slime to the headless corpse of his own sister. Then, he remembered a story of a fisher woman who had brought her daughter to Mordea for healing.

"'Tis time to see if you could indeed have saved Kilandra's baby," Devon whispered, and he knelt over the prone body of Cyrrus.

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