Two moons over, p.37
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       Two Moons Over, p.37

           Levi Shipley
 
found a gun. He was able to see the bullet fly across the snowy air, but Cecil was not fast enough to stop it. Time slowed to a horrifying degree as Cecil watched his useless hands reach out for the bullet. He watched his body go forward with all its speed, but it wasn’t enough.

  The bullet went beyond his grasp and into the side of Folas’s skull. The boy’s eyes glazed over, and he fell. Hands went to the boy and pulled him into the bus, but Cecil saw where the bullet went in. There would be nothing for the boy, and Cecil was certain of it.

  The assailant began to barrage Cecil with bullets. His right hand went to his sword without a thought, and he threw it at the attendant. She went into the air as the white orb struck her chest. Cecil could hear the air rush from her lungs as it did. She hit the wall above the fallen door, and the sound of her armor was loud and panging. But above that, there was an audible snapping noise, and he knew her neck was broken. But in all this, he never looked at the Leviathan. He merely watched as the fleet of buses drove away and out of sight.

  He failed one and saved many, and he knew he would need to tell himself that if he wanted to cast away the guilt. There would be time to deal with guilt later, but he still had a job to do. And he would not fail this one.

  Six

  Now he took a corridor on his left after entering the base and after retrieving his sword. There were no guards to stop him this time, and he knew that was strange. But he kept moving. All the doors he needed to take were wide open, while the rest were locked.

  He walked through office spaces and into a vestibule where the real castle began. Though the outside had been made of crystal, the inside was made of gray stone. It was just as he would imagine a medieval castle, save for the electric lights and television monitors.

  He passed through a dining room the size of his old apartment building. In the center was a grand table made of mahogany. There were silver plates and platters shining in the light of gorgeous electric candles. A golden chandelier hung overhead and further helped to illuminate the extravagance. The chairs were made of stone and covered in blue velvet. At the head of the table was throne like chair covered in gold and precious jewels. All the plates were empty, but ready to hold food. There were wine glasses and embroidered napkins beside every plate.

  The next room was filled with mounted heads. Most were of creatures Cecil recognized, but there were a few he did not. One that stood out to him was the head of what might have been an ape, or perhaps a Sasquatch. A dozen wolf heads of various tones and sizes lined the wall above the door he came through. There were also deer, bears, and a few dragons on display. And Cecil wondered just how many of these the royal family hunted, and how many were bought. He decided they were all bought, because the hunted would look like people. Although some of the wolves might have been people, he knew.

  The next room was a library that stretched in every direction with towering shelves of books. Ladders on rollers were at every shelf, and Cecil thought this room would burn very well. This was by far the largest room he’d entered. The ceiling was a hundred feet above his head, and books were stacked to the apex. As he walked in the never ending library, Cecil felt confident that all recorded knowledge was contained here.

  This room was lit by neon paneling in the shelves themselves. And despite how annoying he thought that would be, it was very pleasant. They didn’t flicker or buzz the way he was familiar with. Instead these lights released their soft glow without harsh undertones, and the room felt inviting. Somewhere on the inside Cecil desired to sit down and open up one of these books. Just let the words take him away from all this and to a happier place.

  Then he thought of how ironic it would be for him to not be stopped by steel doors or bullets but by the allure of ink on paper. And so he kept walking. Row after row falling behind him. His feet met the wooden floor beneath him in a steady thudding rhythm. Not once did the floor creek and not a soul would’ve hushed him even if it did. This place was peaceful even in the hornet’s nest that it was a part of.

  The next door that was left open was at the end of a bare shelf, the only one in the library. From inside Cecil could see a bright violet light and the sound of breathing. Cecil ran forward with his sword drawn. But as a foot came down before the threshold, and only one more would send him speeding into the room, he heard her.

  Seven

  A scream, one familiar to him came from a strained tongue. He didn’t know how much he missed that voice until he heard it again in person, regardless of the circumstance. Salina’s voice seemed to come almost from underwater, but she articulated as best she could. “Don’t come in here!” She screamed, though it was muffled. “The floor will bind you—”

  “Bitch!” The growling fury in this single word was overflowing. From Hodge’s mouth it came, but Dahzir did the talking. Cecil leaned into the room, minding the glowing purple floor and saw Hodge’s body standing in front of a pedestal with a brilliant black crystal resting on top. The man’s hands were wrapped around the crystal as if letting go would mean death. Veins of black crystal ran down the pedestal and into the floor, where it met a crystal plate that covered the entirety of the room’s floor. And Dahzir spoke again. This time Hodge’s mouth did not move, and the voice didn’t belong to the werewolf. “Training dummy!” The voice was old and raspy but full of malice. “I thought you were long gone. You know, holed up somewhere sucking your damned thumb and crying. It’s just as well though. Now I can take care of you all. I hope you stand still and just take it like you did before.”

  Now Marianna spoke up. “He means to rip our souls from our bodies and to gain full control over Hodge’s body by removing his. This floor is—”

  “You can shut the hell up too, woman!” Boomed the voice of Dahzir, “I’m sure twinkly can figure out what the floor is doing.” Hodge’s face never moved, but Cecil could feel Dahzir’s gaze turn to him. “Why don’t you make yourself useful and talk your friends into giving up. This is taking much longer than I would like, and surely you don’t want them to suffer.”

  Cecil paid the king’s words little attention. He noticed that the wall of this room also was not made of crystal but of wood. Hodge’s body was only fifteen feet from him to the left, and the remaining members of The Order were kneeling on the floor almost at the foot of the door on their side. The room was otherwise empty. There weren’t even any lights or outlets to be seen.

  Cecil transformed and dug his claws into the wall around the door. The grip was solid, and he hoisted himself onto the wall in a single swinging motion. He didn’t even notice how uncomfortable his tail was.

  “Well! Just look at you.” Dahzir began laughing, and the sound of hatred in it grated against everyone in the room. “That’s one of the things he’d keeping from me. Looks useful.”

  Cecil continued to ignore the king but began shimmying along the wall. He came about halfway, and his claws were too sharp. Cecil slid down the wall and came within inches of the floor. He could feel the glee rising in Dahzir, and he felt it drain when Cecil came to a stop. He removed Bane Edge and its sheath and threw it to the floor. It struck the crystal with that same harmonic ting and laid there, cold and dead.

  Now he was almost on top of the crystal that Hodge’s hands were wrapped around. Cecil had one chance to do this, and he wasn’t even sure it would work. But letting Dahzir have control over lycanthropy would spell disaster, and death, and many horrible things. He steeled himself. If Cecil could sweat, he would’ve been producing rivers. He turned from the emotional high, and a distinct heat wrapped around his muzzle from nerves. Then he pushed off the wall, his feet dangling just above the floor that would be his death.

  Cecil locked his hands around the crystal before his feet came to the glowing purple floor. His wolfish traits receded, and he became human again. Then the color faded from his face, and he became a standing image of death. The room became silent, and all eyes went to him.

&nbs
p; Eight

  For Cecil there was darkness all around him. He was standing in infinite black, yet his feet found purchase on solid ground. There was nothing to be seen, but ahead of him only a stone throw away stood an aemon. Cecil’s only company was Dahzir.

  The aemon was old and clothed in the same royal garments he’d been wearing when he killed the protesters. But there was a vibrance in his black eyes that pierced Cecil’s soul with greed and anger. Two horns curved in from his temples, almost forming a heart. His skin was red and covered in green tribal tattoos. The hair behind the horns was combed down and black as oil. How Cecil could see Dahzir, he didn’t know.

  The aemon grinned and held his hand to his chest. The grin faded and was replaced by a scowl, the skin of his face wrinkling and smoothing like dried leather. The tattoos folded over one another in a hideous display that matched the ugliness of the aemon’s soul.

  “No magic here.” Cecil said.

  “Doesn’t matter.” Replied the king. His smile returning and forcing that old leather to stretch once more. “I doubt you’ll have any of the advantage you’re used to having, you green peon.”

  At that Cecil touched the left sleeve of his shirt and tugged on it. There was
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