The entire side of the castle was gone and everything in it. Even Maqesh and the Wizard had been knocked to the ground. I survived only through one of Lu’s enchantments and the very effort made him pass out again.
It looked like the Chamber’s enchantment had also been broken. Lu’s sorcerer’s visage was gone and I had returned to being a woman. Maqesh’s appearance had also changed. His mouth had shrunk and his teeth were much less prominent. He had no horns on his head or thorns on his tail. He was no more a twisted, cartoonish demon. Now, he was just a 4-armed, hairless beast of a man. The Wizard, however, looked exactly the same. Maybe a little smaller.
“Getting better,” the Wizard said with a hint of admiration as he looked at the rubble that had once been his chamber.
Maqesh had no patience for a witty retort. Instead, he began firing off enchantments left and right, but the Wizard batted each one away. All I could do was to try to carry the once again unconscious Lu to safety.
The Wizard began to fire back. Maqesh managed to deflect his attacks, but it was clear it was much harder for him than it had been for the Wizard. Maqesh was on the ropes, but he hadn’t given up just yet. “You won’t defeat me so easily, Dakkoe!” He held his glowing fist high in the air. Then a giant mouth clamped down hard on his arm.
The Sharkwoman had returned! She bit down hard and Maqesh screamed in pain. She thrashed about, tearing at his skin. I thought she was going to tear his arm right off, but instead Maqesh grabbed her with two of his remaining free hands and held her tight. With his last free hand, he grabbed her necklace and pulled it free. He tossed her away as if she were nothing and he began to laugh.
“No!” the Wizard screamed, firing a massive enchantment at the villain. “You will not…!”
Maqesh caught it in his hand. “Oh, yes, I will.” He fired it back, catching the Wizard in a crystalline explosion.
And then Maqesh was suddenly standing over Lu Wu. I tried to fight him, but Maqesh let out a breath and I was blown a dozen feet away. Maqesh bent down and picked up Lu with a single hand. “It is time to open that gate.”
“You will do no such thing!” the Wizard yelled trying to pick himself off the ground.
“Just try to stop me, Dakkoe.” Maqesh made a motion as if he were opening a door, using Lu’s body as a key. “Goodbye forever, Wizard. Today I make myself a god!”
And then with a poof, Maqesh and Lu Wu vanished.
“Nooooo!” the Sharkwoman screamed.
“Where did they go?” I asked.
“I’m sorry,” the Wizard said, turning away from me.
“Sorry? Why are you sorry? Where did they go?”
“They have left this plane of existence.”
“Left this plane…? You don’t mean…?”
“Yes. Maqesh has entered your world and with the Horn and the Seal, I don’t know if there’s anything humanity can do to stop him.”
“We have to go after him!”
“I cannot. Your world is not a realm that I can survive in.”
I didn’t like that answer. It seemed to easy. I thought the Wizard a coward. He had been defeated and couldn’t face the chance of it happening again. On the other hand, he could have been telling the truth. I didn’t know. There was no way to know and I wasn’t going to force him to face certain death. It wasn’t something I could ask of someone. So, even if I had my doubts, I had to believe him, but that didn’t mean I had to give up, too. “Then just send me.”
The Wizard looked surprised, if I could judge the emotions of a creature like him. “You will not defeat him on your own.”
“What choice do I have?”
The Sharkwoman swam over. “I will go, too.”
“You don’t know what you’re asking, Gruesser,” the Wizard told her. There was a sincerity in his voice. It was as if he actually concerned about her well being. “The human world was not made for people like you and I.”
“I do not care. My love is in trouble. I will go anywhere, do anything to save him.”
“The air will not support you there. You will not be able to swim upon it.”
“So what?” She began to change. Her giant shark form started to shrink as she turned to her more mermaid-like form. In seconds, she had shrunk to her smallest most human form.
“That is not good enough,” the Wizard said.
The Sharkwoman growled at him. “I can do better.” She grunted and groaned and gritted her teeth, then slowly but surely her tail began to change. The singular tail began to split into two. The bottom of her tail began to flatten and the tip started to separate into toes. Suddenly, she fell from the air, collapsing on the ground. Her tail was now gone, replaced by legs, by feet, by toes. She was breathing hard and covered in sweat.
I rushed to her side, though I was wary enough of her to give her room. I knew she didn’t like for people to show concern. She thought it made her look weak and that was the last thing she wanted to be it seemed. “Are you all right?”
She started to glare at me, but she didn’t have the energy to keep it up. “I’m fine,” she said, as she struggled to her feet.
“I see I cannot persuade you to stay,” the Wizard said.
“No. You cannot. I’m going. Nothing will stop me from saving my love.”
“Fine.” The Wizard pulled an outfit from nowhere. “Then you should take this. It will give you some protection. You will need it. I wish I could give you more, but I have little power over the happenings of your world.”
“That’s fine,” I told him, turning slightly to give the Sharkwoman a modicum of privacy as she got dressed. She seemed to be struggling with it, but I knew better than to try. “But we need to get over there now. Who knows what havoc Maqesh is up to. If you can get us there…”
“I can do that. If you’re ready.”
“Ready,” the Sharkwoman said, uncomfortably tugging at her new clothes.
“Good luck. ” The Wizard clapped his tentacles together and then we were gone.
…to be continued