I attacked Maqesh with my pipe, but he easily waved me off. Still, my failed attempt had bought Lu enough time to mount his own assault. An enchantment flew from Lu’s hand and froze Maqesh solid. Unfortunately, the victory was only momentarily as Maqesh quickly melted through it.
Lu charged him and the two magicians locked up, both glowing with magical energy. Their glow became so bright I had to cover my eyes and turn away. I heard the explosion, felt it. I turned back in time to see them thrown apart. Lu slammed into a far wall and collapsed. Maqesh went tumbling in the other direction. With the pipe in my hand, I rushed toward him. He was already starting to get up when I began my assault. Maqesh responded by waving his hand at me. It was not a strong push, only enough to tip me over. “No, human,” he said. “I am not yet finished.”
As I started to sit up, I could see the Sharkwoman creeping up behind him. Her head was changing, transforming. Her hair was pulling back into her scalp. I could see her skin getting greyer, her eyes turning black. I could see her mouth grow, her teeth get sharp. Her dorsal fin pushed out of her back. She had reversed her usual transformation! Her body was still human but her head was that of a shark!
The Sharkwoman stepped up behind the rising Maqesh. Before he could even react, she had already bit down, her whole mouth engulfing the mad man’s head. Then with a quick snap of her neck, she tore his head off. While I stared in shock, she spit his head onto the ground. I watched it rolled several feet away. I moved toward it and was startled when its eyes moved to look at me. Maqesh’s body remained unmoving, partially upright, in midst of standing up. It didn’t flop over, lifeless. I expected it to begin moving any second. “Step away from it,” Lu said, picking himself up.
I glanced at the head and it snarled at me. I stepped back. Lu, with his seal in hand, walked up to the still moving head. “I told you, you would not win, Maqesh. I told you we would defeat you.” He pressed the seal against Maqesh’s forehead as the disembodied head tried to bite him. “Go back to the darkness, demon! Begone!” The head lit up like a jack-o-lantern and it suddenly burst into flames. It all went up in a puff of smoke leaving behind only dust.
Maqesh’s headless body collapsed lifelessly to the ground. “Is that it?” I asked.
Lu looked at me and nodded. “He’s gone.”
Lu’s legs suddenly gave out and the Sharkwoman caught him as he fell. “My love!”
“It’s ok, Shayu. I’m ok. I’m just…tired.”
She cradled him to her bosom. “Rest, my love. I will protect you. No one shall harm you.”
“Rest, Lu,” I said, “while I go look for Tilly.” I walked in the direction I had last seen her. I could only hope she was all right. Her father would kill me if she weren’t. She had to be ok. She couldn’t be hurt. Her mother had outfitted her with the best technology of the far future. Some two-bit magician from another dimension couldn’t overcome Freyja’s upgrades. But then I finally found her. “Oh my god!”
I ran to Tilly. I had hoped I had been seeing things, but up close I could see that it was true. She was missing an arm! I looked for it, but I couldn’t find it anywhere. “Tilly? Tilly? Can you hear me? Mathilda?”
She was breathing. She had a pulse. But she just wouldn’t wake up! “Lu!” I screamed.
“Quiet!” the Sharkwoman yelled back.
“I need his help!”
“He is sleeping. He needs his rest.”
“Wake him! Tilly needs his help!”
The Sharkwoman glared at me then looked down at the man in her arms. “Lu? My love?” She shook him. “Lu?” She looked up at me. “I cannot.”
“You have to!” I started toward her when I noticed movement in the corner of my eye. General Zlodeyskiy? What was he doing? I had forgotten the General was even here. All this carnage, all his men, and yet here he was. He had managed to survive it all. What about his son? Where was Mayhew? I wondered, but the General”s mind seemed to be on something else. He was searching for something.
And then he must have found it because I saw him bend over and pick something up. Only when he stood up, did I see what it was that he had found and I was horrified. He had found the Horn of Tarrgair! “General,” I said in a calm voice, as I started walking toward him. “You need to put that down.”
He looked at me and smiled. “I don’t think so, my dear.”
“You don’t know what thing is. You don’t know what that can do.”
“I’ve seen what it can do, Ms. Stone. I’ve seen its power! And now its power belongs to me!”
He raised the horn up high and I started to run toward him. I had to stop him! The horn lit up. “And now the world belongs to me!”
The horn turned so bright I couldn’t look at it. It consumed everything.
*F L A S H*
to be continued…