The International Writers Magazine:Final Chapter No: 20
The thrilling closing
chapter of the serialised novel about life beyond death
If you missed the first nineteen chapters go here to start
on a charred and broken crag overlooking Chateau de Versailles,
or what may have resembled the palace at one time. The building
was dark and twisted with obscene figures carved into the outer
walls. The gardens behind it reached out farther than I could
see, and consisted of tortured sculptures and tortured bodies
moaning and crawling aimlessly; searching endlessly and in vain
I shuddered inwardly
as my companion, or prisoner rather swayed on his feet and occasionally
mumbled to himself. Dark clouds, thick and black boiled overhead as
we moved in toward a mockery of the Palace of the Sun King on which
no sun would ever shine. Shugg had been in a madness web since his capture
and my exile. When they released him to me after a brief argument they
explained that he may never fully recover. As it was he could barely
keep his feet. I needed him as a guide as I explained to his wardens.
He couldnt actually tell me what I needed to know; I had to drag
it out of him. He was either unwilling or unable to resist.
were almost at the front door and had encountered no resistance,
or attention of any kind. The building was deserted to all appearances.
We entered easily and what I learned from Shugg led me straight
into the hall of mirrors. The seventeen mirrors and the seventeen
windows were black and reflected with cool light the darkest nature
and being of all that passed in front of them. I stared into it
for a moment and saw my shadow wink at me. It seemed quite comfortable
in these environs, to my disgust.
The ornate opulence
of legend was replaced by everything ugly and wrong. The basest influence
of the limitless imagination of its architect was evident in form
and function. It was like walking through the intestines of some gargantuan
malevolent creature. I felt weak and sick as I entered the enormous
chamber tugging Shugg along behind me as an afterthought. A sort of
royal court was waiting for us with an assortment of madmen and hollow
eyed women lining the path to the throne at the far end. It was made
of living bodies tied together in horrific ways that would not allow
them to move. On it sat a man with blonde hair, blue eyes, pale white
skin and a three-piece pinstriped suit with a golden pocket watched
chained to the vest, red cufflinks, wingtip shoes and a fedora resting
on his head. He was neither young nor old, tall nor short and of utterly
average build. He had one leg resting over an arm (so to speak) of the
throne as he reclined. He smiled pleasantly as I stopped about fifteen
feet from the prone torso serving as the first step up to the throne.
Shugg stumbled for a few steps then collapsed as I pushed out in front
of me. "I believe this is yours."
The throng around us shifted and stirred as they looked at him. In a
melodious voice the man called out to them, "Whos is this?"
A figure in a black robe stepped forward and stood by Shugg. His face
couldnt be seen from the shadow of the hood, but a long white
beard jutted out and pointed down his torso. It collected into a writhing
snake which curled around him. He had a gravelly voice which replied
"I do sire. He is bound by oath to my service."
"You should find more reliable servants." The mans voice
"Yes sire." The snake lashed out and curled itself around
Shuggs leg, then dragged him across the floor and into the obscurity
of the crowd.
His movements were the definition of grace as was his manner when he
stood and descended to greet me. The soles of his shoes left burning
marks on the flesh of the living stairs. Large wings with black feathers
spread from behind him and stretched luxuriously before settling back
into folds at his back. He tossed a black cane with chrome on the handle
and the tip from one hand to the other. He put out a hand with closely
trimmed black fingernails and said "Pleased to meet you. Hope you
guess our name."
"I dont have to guess." I didnt move or look at
the hand. Shaking hands, I have heard is a remnant of an old custom
for checking another person for weapons, presumably hidden on the wrist.
I was holding firm to an assumption that he was armed to the teeth no
matter how thorough a search. He could do the same to me or not, but
I wasnt touching that hand.
"No, we suppose not. For those with our notoriety introductions
"I like your wings." I said, as he put his hand down.
"No, not at all. Very appropriate to the tales from my youth; no
tale or horns though."
"We never liked the tail, but" he removed his hat and bent
forward revealing two sharp protrusions high on his forehead and neatly
combed hair "the horns will always be in high style."
I hated him thoroughly. I knew what he was and I had never hated anyone
as fiercely, but I wanted very much to like him. He was charming and
distractingly beautiful. His voice carried enchantment and the silver
of a car salesman or a politician.
"We have to say though, were very disappointed. You came
to us rather than making us hunt you down. We rather enjoy the chase,
but you understand. Youre quite a hunter yourself. Sharper was
too easy for you though. Prey that are worthy of our skills are increasingly
difficult to find. We havent been presented with a serious challenge
in ages." He used the word in the way that children use it. The
sense of timelessness which dragged through his meaning was not lost
on me. "The breech you opened up had us quite beside ourselves
with anger. I was certain that you were lost to us. But you are here
now, and we are most delighted."
His use of plural pronouns notwithstanding, I had trouble following
the mood of the situation. He seemed relaxed and unworried, but there
was something behind it. It wasnt nervous or suspicious necessarily,
but very alert and aware. He was guarded in some way, but it wasnt
obvious. It wasnt the servants that surrounded us that worried
me, it was him. I could sense his power, and it was focused on me.
I rushed into what I had prepared to tell him. "Im here to
inform you that things have changed. The council has been reborn and
your spies are dispersed or dispatched. You have less authority over
me than they do, and theirs is nonexistent. I have made my intentions
and my demands for privacy known to them, and I am here to deliver you
the same courtesy. I returned Shugg as a sign of good faith.
"Now, my terms. My family is off limits, as are my friends on the
other side. Shuggs master must be handed over to answer for the
extermination which took place at the nexus of my death on numerous
timelines. I have no bearing on the actions of the council, nor do I
have any intention of telling you your business. Once were finished
here Ill be on my way. Afterwards you will never see me again.
If by some chance you do
well, it wont be pleasant for anyone
involved. I will not presume to threaten you, I am simply stating my
terms in the hope that you will respect them."
He let me finish while he looked at me with an amused and tolerant expression.
"Thats an interesting offer, but if you will permit us, we
have a counter proposal." I didnt answer so he continued.
"We like you kid. You know about power and you respect it. You
dont flaunt it garishly to reassure yourself; you arent
the insecure type. Thats why we want to go into business with
you." I started to interrupt but he cut me off. "Please, let
us finish. You see weve been in this game for a long time, and
opportunities like this are rare. You obviously know by now what all
the fuss over you was about. The council is tired and rapidly approaching
obsoleteness. Things are about to shift dramatically on this side and
we want to get you in on the ground floor. You see, were growing
bored with this existence and were ready to move on. The billions
of centuries of trying to keep things interesting here have worn us
down. It no longer holds the same attraction that it once did. Were
retiring, but we want to go out with a bang. Even now our legions are
poised for an assault on the council. They wait but for our command
yours. We have no heir, and no protégé worthy of our throne.
Of all the potential candidates you are by far the most qualified. Think
of it. You could rule it all. Do whatever you want. Eliminate death
all together if you like. Make your friends and loved ones immortal.
Give them power and wealth beyond imagining. Restructure the entire
plane of existence to your liking. Its yours, and we can help
you get it."
"Whats the catch?"
"Ah yes, the catch. You will have to take our place, and were
not certain what that would do to you, but we have an intuitive inkling
that youll fit right in. Lead our soldiers. Help us eliminate
the council and its all yours."
He was unbelievably charming and his presence was a bit intoxicating.
Against my better judgment I felt a strong desire from someplace to
accept the offer immediately. Drawn as a moth to a flame; hypnotized.
Once again my shadow came to the rescue. It saw through the lies into
the reality of the trap. He was stuck here on this side against his
will. He would have to take his freedom by destroying the council and
breaking whatever hold they had on him. I gathered my wits.
"Sorry. Im not interested. If youll kindly reprimand
Shuggs master Ill be on my way."
He snorted and flames shot out from his nostrils. His eyes burned with
white heat and his wings unfurled. "You honestly didnt think
it would be so easy did you?"
"No, but I had hoped." I drew my sword and braced myself for
what was next.
He rose off the floor and suddenly the suit was gone, replaced by black
armor that refused to reflect light of any sort. His cane stretched
into a spear which he handled effortlessly. The snake that pulled Shugg
away came from nowhere to strike at me as the throng which surrounded
us moved in. I severed its head and took the bleeding end in one
hand. As they moved in I whipped the head around catching a few with
fangs and more with my sword. This took them aback for the moment I
needed to exude a web of force across the floor which trapped them where
they stood. Their master was still hovering overhead, and he charged
at once with overwhelming power and speed. The spear tore through my
side and deep into the floor pinning me down, but my sword caught him
across the middle and he pulled back momentarily stunned. It was enough.
I threw my sword at him and it pierced his armor and sent him flying
From deep in my memory I began to visualize and give form to every sword
that cut into me in the museum where I was killed. I knew each of them
intimately and within moments each had stabbed them home and he was
pinned to the floor just as I had been. Freeing myself of his spear
took careful maneuvering. It was laced with charms and wards that demanded
respectful attentiveness to prevent their release. When I was free I
approached him slowly as his servants all howled in fury and frustration
around us. My own weapons were holding him fast as he writhed in anger.
I knelt beside him and looked into his burning eyes as I pulled my favored
"One last thing before I go. Ive prepared something for you.
Something that will keep you occupied while Im away." I put
a hand on his forehead and released a string of energy into his mind.
It took all of my effort to put it there, but when I was finished I
was greatly relieved. I wasnt sure it would take. "There.
Now every person you hurt, either directly or by way of an order to
your subordinates will share their pain with you, but it will be greatly
amplified. Its a tricky spell. Dont try to remove it. I
wont go into details about what could happen if you do, but I
wouldnt risk it."
I freed Shuggs master long enough to dispatch him, then removed
the web and the swords. "Your slaves are all free now." I
shouted to the crowd. "Your hold over them is broken. Consider
this a truce. Should any of you refuse my terms I wont be as polite
next time we meet." And with that I thankfully disappeared from
that hellish place.
"So this is
goodbye then." I sat in the room where I first sat and drank with
Urimaru looking at the Pollock on the wall. Jerry and Urimaru were sitting
across from me looking for all the universe like children losing their
"I cant stay." I replied. "Theres something
pulling at me from farther beyond. I cant resist it and be content
here." I reflected that I was feeling what Dio felt when he crossed
over. He knew when his job was finished and it was time to move on to
"It seems like you just arrived." Urimaru had a faraway look
like he was remembering something from years before.
"Well meet again. Thats the way it works. When youre
finished here youll feel it too and youll follow me into
"I wish you would reconsider. Think of what we could accomplish.
You faced down the Prince of Darkness himself, or whatever hes
calling himself these days. In his own house no less. You could eradicate
evil from this reality." Jerry desperately wanted me to join him
and the council. He had been promoted, if thats the word for it,
and his authority and responsibilities were more far reaching than ever.
"No. Its not for me. I think I would know if it was, but
it isnt. Im not sure that I could or that I should for that
matter. Im not God, and I dont want to be. You got along
without me before, and youll do fine after Im a memory."
"You mean a legend. What youve done since Ive trained
you will never be forgotten. Theyre already writing songs and
poems about you."
I cringed. "All the more reason for me to go now. I dont
want to be a living legend anymore. Its embarrassing."
"After you go it will get worse. You have a fairly enormous cross
section of willing followers who await your command. Its going
to effect us too. Once word gets out that I trained you Im going
to be busy. Everyone is going to assume I rubbed off some magic on you
and try to get some of it for themselves." Urimaru suddenly looked
tired and annoyed.
"Maybe you did."
We drank in silence for a while, then I stood up. "Its time
for me to go."
They shook my hand and wished me well, then walked me to the front door.
I wandered down the path leading off into perpetual sunset. Off in the
distance Bootman waited to escort me to the other side; into the Great
© Brodie Parker Jan 13 2006
Begun May 10th 2004 - this
Chapter December 2005
Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter five here
Chapter Fifteen here
Chapter Seventeen here
Chapter Eighteen here
Chapter Nineteen here
Chapter Twenty here
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