The International Writers Magazine: THE
GREAT BEYOND Serialised novel
Life in the Afterlife: Our Novel in progress
you haven't read the previous ten chapters start at Chapter
Great Beyond XI
had an idea of where the attack would come from, but I was a little
rattled by the guards he sent after me.
The trail led inexorably to a beach
with black sand, then abruptly ended. There was a sun overhead
which never moved from its zenith, and burned so brightly that
I couldnt see anything but white radiance beyond three or
four feet. I searched along the beach and stopped at the waterline.
The ocean was perfectly still.
There was no wind
or sound or anything to disturb the peace and tranquility of the scene.
There was a precise line separating the water from the sand, though
the water was so dark that it was hard to distinguish at first. Even
with the intensity of the sun, no light seemed to penetrate the stillness
of the quiet ocean. I put a toe in cautiously, and the water began to
move in ripples outward. Almost imperceptibly a faint off shore wind
began to blow, and as I began to move out farther, I nearly fell face
first into the water when my foot failed to connect with anything under
the darkness. I caught myself, and felt along the shoreline where the
sand ended and dropped straight down where it met the ocean. When my
hand broke the surface, so did all sight of it. The light simply refused
to break the surface of the liquid.
"Wade in deep water," I thought out loud. I stood back a moment
and gathered myself, then I stepped carefully into the water again letting
my feet sink ankle deep. I took several steps and sank down to my shins
after meeting with no resistance or surprises. The only change I could
perceive was that the water was moving more vigorously, and that the
small breeze had picked up considerably. I stopped and watched and thought
for a moment. "Fierce winds fury unfurling. The moon says
the way." It sounded better when Clemens said it, so I changed
my voice to his and said it again. Sadly, it was no less cryptic than
the first time I heard it. Though I stood still for a long while the
water and the wind continued to stir around me. I walked a few more
paces and began to feel the gradual cyclonic pull that the water and
the wind were creating. The farther I moved in, the faster the wind
became. It began to howl and churn the water into a whirlpool. Soon
it began to form a bowl as the water rose to a wall looming behind me
and sloping down to a swirling basin in front of me. I lifted my feet
completely out of the water and kept moving forward, searching for the
center of the storm. The wind and the water were moving as one with
blinding speed. The blaring light suddenly began to soften, and I could
make out the center of the whirlpool miles away. I moved out steadily
toward it, and could soon see that a moon was slowly eclipsing the sun.
When I found the center of the wind and the water spiraling furiously
around me I looked up at the moon and waited. I felt something pulse
in the air as if the atmosphere had a heartbeat. Then the light completely
receded and a single brilliant ray focused on a point off in the distance.
"The moon says the way." Without hesitation I flew in a broad
arc over the lip of the water and made for the spot marked with a light
emanating from the moon. There was an empty wasteland far from the black
ocean where I stopped seconds later. The light was just fading out when
I found the staircase leading into the flat ground.
With the end of the eclipse, the blinding light of the sun returned.
I made a quick descent and came out into a large cavern. There were
lamps on the walls that cast shadows into every possible corner of the
room. Standing in the center of the room was just the man I had come
to see. I drew my sword and moved out into the room. He turned to face
me, and looked exactly like Clemens and Urimaru showed me. His smiled
slightly out of an ugly mouth and vanished.
I had expected this when I came in. I had an idea of where the attack
would come from, but I was a little rattled by the guards he sent after
me. There was a pattern of energy around them that when we connected,
(the business end of my sword connecting with its vitals), it
drew something from me. Then it changed into a dragon. Not just any
dragon, a dragon that I had nightmares about as a child. It was unmistakably
the same one. I could feel it in my bones. After I killed it, I barely
had time to reflect on the aftereffects this battle would have on my
psyche when I was faced by an Oni. I read a story about Japanese demons
as a child and had nightmares for a week. This too was the same Oni
from my dreams. I began to sense a pattern, and lunged into a quick
assault before I had to face anything of the Lovecraft variety.
It didnt take me long to pick up his trail. I followed it through
dozens of those gnarly creatures spitting acid and shooting death-rays
and cornered him in a large room. The guards were all gone. The rooms
smelled of dank earth and mold. The same lamps that I had seen throughout
the lair lit this room where he stood clam and relaxed.
"I knew youd find me." He said. "It seems my sins
have caught up with me. I ask only that you make it quick."
"Thats it? No swords at dawn, or pistols at high noon? No
epic battle to the death? What the hell are you trying to pull?"
I moved in a little closer, keeping my eyes on him and my guard up.
He sighed deeply, and slouched a bit. "Im too tired for all
of that. Im tired of running and Im tired of fighting. I
screwed up big time with you. I cant leave this place, and if
he finds me, Ill wish you had found me first. Just do what you
came here to do."
"No. Start talking." I said. "Who are you hiding from?"
"You know who." He snapped. "They must have told you.
They got to you first. We lost you and you work for them now. You know
my masters name, though if youve any sense you wont
say it. I failed him, and when he finds me Id just as soon not
be here to greet him. If youre smart, youll kill me and
be on your way with all speed. If he finds you here, you wont
make it out. Hed spend every gram of his power to catch you and
keep you prisoner."
"Keep going. I want to hear more."
"Or what? Youll kill me!" He was losing his temper.
"No." I said. "Ill turn you over to him."
That sobered him a bit. "Look. I went to a lot of trouble to make
this happen. I am tired and scared and I just want it to end. I deserve
to die. You have every right and just vindication for my execution.
I have done terrible things and I have no excuse. Youve found
me and now it is your duty as one of the soldiers in this war to send
me to whatever lies beyond this world."
"You left that sloppy trail so that I would find you and kill you?
Did you fail on purpose as well?" I lowered my guard just a little.
I wanted the truth, and I was fairly certain I could get it if I looked
"No. I simply failed. When I was sure, I came here to hide, and
here I will die."
A voice from a dark corner said "Indeed." A piercing line
of energy ripped the air apart as it stabbed through Sharper. His face
twisted in pain for several moments, then he stiffened and his body
shattered like glass in midair. The shards sublimed as they fell to
the ground and broke into nothing; Sharper was gone. I turned to the
corner and pulled up every defense I had. The figure that stepped out
of the shadows was covered with a thick robe. All that I could see of
him was the red glow of his eyes. I knew who this was and I remembered
what Clemens said. I looked toward the exit. He had it blocked, but
I was sure I could break through it; though not before he could trap
"How did you find me?" I asked as he stepped forward. I lifted
the point of my sword as if to keep him back.
"I didnt find you, I found Sharper. It seemed the logical
place to wait for you. Thank you for accommodating me." He stopped
and stood facing me quietly.
"I know they talk tough about you, but Im not scared of you.
I am telling you now, call off the assault on my family. I stopped one
attempt and if another occurs there will be no mercy for you or any
who stand in my way." I moved closer to him.
With unexpected speed he reached forward and grabbed my hand. Before
I could react I was lost in a deep void. It was like that place I went
with Urimaru; cut off from everything. Then his voice came out of everywhere,
"Perhaps you should reconsider. My master is much more deserving
of your vengeance than I. True, I oversee the operation but he is the
one behind it all. He bids me do whatever he wishes and I am bound by
oath to do so. I will lead you to him, give you whatever you need to
destroy him. Together we can overcome him and put an end to his evil
reign for all time! Join me. We will be unstoppable!" He was gathering
a cage and trying to distract me while putting it in place. I saw it
coming, but I waited till the last possible moment before I acted. He
was strong. I could feel it all around him, but he was underestimating
me. I wasnt falling for it that easily. I summoned a burst of
energy that blew apart his cage and stunned him as I broke the connection.
He stood before me, his pale face jutting partially from the hood of
his robe, frozen momentarily. I used that moment to hit him with everything
I had. It somehow connected with minimal resistance and doubled him
over. I pressed the issue and pinned him down. There was something lingering
in the air from his cage and I used it to form a cage of my own. I wasnt
sure what I was doing, but I didnt need it to last very long for
what I had in mind. It seemed to hold him firmly as he began to recover
from the kick. I found a way past whatever energy field he had blocking
the exit and moved out with the cage holding on for dear life.
As soon as we flew up out of the underground lair, I pulled us through
time and space in an instant to the one place I was sure to get some
help with fighting him. I uttered a prayer to every deity that the cage
would hold until then. We landed roughly, but I managed to keep my feet
under me. When Shugg finally broke free of the minor annoyance I wrapped
around him, he found himself standing before a shocked Clemens and at
least nine other equally surprised members of the council.
© Brodie Parker Feb 2005
To be continued...
Chapters One & Two of our serialised novel - it begins here
Chapter Three here
Chapter Four here
Chapter five here
Twelve here 05.03.2005
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