The Red Hand Part 37
by Shane Migliavacca
The Red Hand Part Thirty Seven Hour of The Wolf
I hugged the wall as the ship tilted to the right. Its descent started to slow as I made my way back to Tenth. Along the way I wrap the claw wound on my arm, using a strip ripped from one of my pant legs. When I reach the room with the archway, the glow coming from inside had lessened as has the humming. Tenth was nowhere in sight. I peek into the room, not sure what to expect. I see Tenth supporting herself by holding onto a large metal receptacle of crystals. The room is lined with these, about ten or twelve I estimate. Holding onto some of them are orange and blue lizards. The crystals within giving off a bright glow. A couple of these receptacle were dim. Including the one Tenth was in front of. Then I see why, the bodies of a few of the lizard crew members. Lying prone on the floor.
Tenth looks over, seeing me in the archway. She scrambles up the now slanted floor towards me.
I grab her arm as she gets near me. Pulling her up the rest of the way. “What happened?”
She braces herself against edge of the archway. “I was trying to bring the ship down.”
She looks at me puzzled. “Was that not the plan?”
“Um, no. I thought we were gonna force them to land.”
“Perhaps we should have discussed this plan before you ran off sister.”
“I didn’t want that guard to get away, raise an alarm.”
“And did he?”
I shake my head. He didn’t, I killed him. Just like Tenth killed those ones lying in there. They don’t look like warriors. I hold back the urge to say something. Now’s not the time. There’s a chance we can use this to our advantage.
“If the ship continues downward like it is.” I say. “We can lower ourselves down. Get the hell out of here. But how? Don’t have any rope on me.”
“Might I suggest those?” Tenth points into the room.
There, past the large glowing crystals, are big oblong openings in the wall. Windows? I didn’t even notice them. Damn.
I give Tenth a thumbs up. “That could work.”
The ship starts to right itself as the crew manning the crystals start charging the untended ones up. If we’re going to jump for it we don’t have much time. The ship could start ascending soon.
The air grows dense around us. Charged with energy, but not from the crystals. The ceiling in the corridor starts to glow. A portion of it glowing molten red. Forming a perfect circle. The metal evaporating into nothingness. It doesn’t take three guesses to figure out who’s coming. Now we really don’t have much time.
“We have to go!” I holler over the crackling energy around us. “Now!”
She nods. “Agreed.”
The two of us charge into the room. Not waiting to see if Hagen comes down the hole. The crew are too busy tending to their job powering the crystals to bother us. As we near the openings, I can feel the wind from outside. Just like in the city, their windows have no glass. Just how close to the desert floor are we? Close enough to jump and make it? We really don’t have time to look for rope or cable to lower to use.
I lean out one of the windows, to answer my previous question, we’re pretty damn close to the desert. The ship is passing over several large dunes. The tips of which are brushing against the underside of the ship.
Tenth looks out the window at the desert below. “Jump?”
I nod. We clamber up into the window. Standing in it side by side. Like lovers about to jump as part of a suicide pact.
We wait as the ship draws close to another large dune. Any second now.
I look at Tenth as a thought hits me. “If one of us doesn’t make it…The other has to lead the attack on the tower!”
And with that I push Tenth out the window as we pass over the large dune. I linger long enough to see her hit the sand. Rolling halfway down the dune before stopping. She gets up. Looking back as the ship leaves her behind. I turn, jumping down from the window. I feel relieved that she made it, but sad I’ll never see her again. The thought I had: One of us has to stay behind. Give the other a chance to escape. Besides, maybe I can end it here.
Hagen stands there in the archway. His cloak closed, covering his disgusting chest. Covering the attached Red Hand. He claps. “Bravo. The noble sacrifice.”
I shrug. “Something like that.” I clutch the sword in my hands.
Now or Never.
I rush to my right, towards the nearest thing of crystals. Pushing crew members out of my way. I hop up onto the side of the thing.
“No! Wait!” One of the lizards pleads.
She tries to pull me down, falling to the floor when I kick her away.
They weren’t expecting this. I can’t beat him head on, but I wonder what would happen if I unleashed the energy from these suckers.
I bring the sword down. Once. Twice. Three times. Finally cracking the largest of them, splitting it in two. The once contained energy shoots out, striking me and throwing me back.
I hit the floor as the energy discharges. Blasting everybody in its wake. The smell of burnt hair lingers in the air. I look down at my arms. The hair on my arms has turned to grey ash. It falls away as I touch it. Panic hits me as I think about my head. I reach up expecting to find nothing. I breathe a sigh of relief as I feel hair. Still there.
The ship shudders as the loss of the large crystal destabilizes it.
“Sir!” A crew member calls out. “We’re going down!”
Where’s Hagen? I scan the room. There. Headed towards the broken crystal.
I pick my sword up off the floor.
“Fools.” He says. Putting both his gloved hands on the crystal, an aura starts to form around him. Flowing from him to the crystal. It starts to mend itself. Pulling back together like a film played in reverse.
Now is the time to end this. His back is to me. It must take a whole hell of a lot of energy to do that. To fix that crystal.
I grip the sword hilt tight, ready to strike. My hands sweating. To end this madman’s life. Perhaps my own in the process. It’s what I have to do. I trust the sword with everything I have.
Then the wind is knocked out of me. The sword goes flying from my hands. Warriors and some of the crew tackle me before I can land a blow. Stopping me from ending the war. Scaled fists hammer me as I hit the floor. The scales slicing into fabric and flesh. I lash out, trying to strike back. There’s just too many of them. Piling in. They in circle me, almost in a frenzy as they hit me. Hissing with anger. Ready to rip me to pieces.
“Leave her!” Hagen commands. His voice sounding tired.
My attackers back off. Mumbling their disappointment. Through the crowd, I see him standing there. Indeed, looking strained.
“She is no further threat.” He motions to a couple of the warriors. “Bring her.”
The warriors heft me up by the arms. Letting my legs drag along the floor. They follow Hagen to the top deck. The sun warms my skin as we emerge from below. If it wasn’t for being beaten to a pulp it would feel nice. I can see the ship is ascending again. My effort to bring us down foiled by Mr. Power Glove.
“This time-” Hagen says. “This time I will not underestimate your continuous ability to find new ways to irritate me.”
Getting a good look at this ship, I think Hagen himself designed it. It looks very much like an old Earth sailing ship, crossed with a large manta ray. With wings stretching out on each side of the craft. The warriors drag me over to a large mast. Roughly chaining me to it.
“Now I can keep an eye on you.” He chuckles. “You know, you’re a perfect example of your kind. Always interfering. Always judging without any facts. When all else fails resorting to violence, and so very loud. Never taking a moment to be quiet. My time on your world, I never saw anything that would redeem your species. Nothing. This world is no better. This race hates that race for something they did long ago. And this race hates that one’s god.”
He pauses smiling, staring up at the sky outstretching his arms. Like he could pull the whole sky down with just his hands. Who’s to say he couldn’t now.
“It’s foolish. There is only one true creator. I’ve seen it. It lives at the center of everything. It is both mother and father. When I reveal it. Show every living thing their true creator. Only then can all of this pettiness fall away.”
He strokes my face. Unable to pull away, I cringe at his touch. Hagen snaps his fingers and I hear a wheezing, dragging sound, I never wanted to hear again. The thing he called The Boy, lumbers towards me.
“I leave you to be watched over by your old friend.” He laughs before going.
Leaving that thing to stand there. Its glassy eyes fixed on me. Staring into me.
After some time of that thing watching me, I close my eyes. Trying to blank it out of my thoughts. Overcome with fatigue I fall asleep for a bit.
When I wake again it’s almost dawn. The malformed boy still standing watch. The blood from the numerous scratches on my body have dried. Becoming hard. They hurt as I move. Hair stuck to them, pulling. Trying to get comfortable. My body sore from being chained to this damn mast. My bones complain.
“Ahh!” I hear Hagen say from somewhere behind me. “How was your sleep?”
My voice cracks as I answer. “I’ve had worse.”
“Ha!” He snaps his fingers. The chains holding me fall away. “Come we’re so near now.”
He stands at the side of the ship. Arms resting on a metal railing. I walk past the boy. It’s dull eyes following me as I go.
Hagen points. “There! Our destiny awaits!”
Through the haze of a new day I see it. The city pokes up out of the desert floor like the devil’s hands reaching up from Hell. Ready to snatch us from the sky. Pull us down into his fiery kingdom below.
Kuma Torth. It’s only fitting I’d die there.
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