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   Chapter 2 ii. Old Magic Comes Back

New London Masquerade By Rian Torr Characters: 17659

Updated: 2018-10-21 12:03


Devin, My blood spring, it has been ages. I remember when we first met after our terrible loss. You were just a child and I always meant to care for you like my own son. But I was deeply conflicted, lost to the thought that somehow you were responsible for my daughter's death. So that fateful Halloween, when you left me all alone, on the anniversary of your parent's plane crash, I succumbed to my evil side. I divined the dark sedan. I steered the wheel when you were trying to pull out of the skid. I saw to it that the railing gave way, through the will of my sorcery—and in my mind's eye I watched your jeep careen off Lion's Bridge deep into the Payne.

The moment you hit the water, however, regret coursed through my system—and I instantly saw what insanity I had summoned, without recourse to recovery—irrevocably doomed to living my life out in guilt.

But then afterward, when you were saved by divers, I welcomed the relief of knowing not all was lost—but I still bemoaned Blake's drowning—and watched in horror as the story broke of how Seth had raged underwater—killing two of the rescue team. The way the other divers described it, how it seemed as if his Dragun costume had come alive—I knew beyond a doubt that it was my own dirty spell that had caused this whole bloody mess. I realized, that by wishing your masks become you—I had caused more harm than good. Seth had escaped down river—and I knew from then forward that whatever havoc he wrought—it was my responsibility to accept the fact that I had done it. Needless to say, I could not sleep for a month—when out of the abyss one morning, I awoke in a feverish sweat—somehow suddenly now knowing that I had to fix what I had recklessly engineered.

But I was determined to do it without the aid of the Book of Calling or Orbring. I brought them with me, in case my hunt became desperate—but way inside I knew that ultimately my salvation was my own to provide.

Meanwhile, reports of the Dragun had started to sweep through the papers—and I knew in my gut it was Seth massacring those innocents.

So I cashed in my savings, packed my shoulder bag and jeep with enough supplies to carry me through a year's travelling, grabbed my rifle from the war—filled the tank to the brim—and set out after Seth.

Witnesses attested that the Dragun was some kind of half man--half flying reptile—straight out of New London legend. I knew it was all too real—and that I was running out of precious time—since his attacks were intensifying—as he blazed his way across the countryside.

I did not know how easy he would be to kill—and I had not killed man or monster in too many moons to count—well since my past life. I was mentally prepared, however, to meet with my assignment in destiny, if that was what it would take to cleanse my soul—and once more feel alive.

I was determined, with a bloodthirsty bent in my eyes, to hunt the-fire-breather down to any ends of the earth where he so fled, in order that my wrongs might be righted—and the damage I had done finally end.

I stayed in motels when I could not go on. Sometimes I would keep awake for days, scanning the horizon for Seth at every turn. I talked to those who had reported sightings—and they led me on to further trails. His scent would pick up hot for awhile, but then sizzle down again. I would find entire towns burned to the ground, with none alive left to tell about it. One fateful day, however, nine months on, when the public was growing weary of worrying about the wrath of the Dragun--when even the police could not seem to track him down—and Seth had not shown himself for weeks—leaving his capture bleak at best—I came upon him in the valley of my pursuit.

Just when I was most deterred—most ready to give up and go home—suddenly a great winged shadow crossed over my hood, as I was sliding through a lone country intersection way up in the hills. I knew in that very second that it was him—and my heart ratcheted up into my throat—as I jammed down the brakes and reached around for my rifle in the backseat.

I sprang out of the jeep, aiming as I circled around the front, but Seth was already up the side of the cliff-face, hiding in a crooked tree.

"SETH!" I screamed. "I've come for you!" I growled. I aimed my rifle and took a shot—but the recoil was more than I remembered—and Seth escaped to a perch higher up. I reloaded and aimed into the light of day.

Looking through the sight, I could see his face. It looked nothing like the Seth I remembered—just a mangle-mawed monster--face contorted in a permanent expression of anguish. Empathy rushed through me, for I knew this was the thing that I had done. He was the victim of my spiritual assault—for I had not only seeded his body with a violent strain, but stolen his mind from him, replacing it with a killer instinct--and an empty heart.

Hardly a hair's breadth had my trigger finger closed then when I realized that he was mouthing words at me, for he knew I could see him.

"Goddamn you, " I cried under my breath. I was torn, for he did not deserve either fate, of a living or dead lizard—but it was I that had wished this upon him, so it was my duty to take it away from him as well.

So seconds later I settled my soul and prepared to fire—but he was gone, as if he had been able to read my mind. I watched him arc aloft--a magnificent and deadly sight—casting a terrible shadow upon the clouds.

I shot once out of desperation, but he was too far off. I climbed back in the jeep and drove on down the highway after him. He outpaced me for awhile, so that I began to sink behind—and hope almost ran out of sight.

Then I came to a crossroads, way out in cracked earth country near Nowheretown and LosVilla, when I pulled over and got out a map. I traced my finger across the mountain ranges, scanning over where he might try to cut over Red Lizard River—when I suddenly suffered my first weakness.

I opened the trunk and pulled out my black bag—from which I produced my Orbring and Book of Calling. I was ready to wield the wild.

With them I spun an unnatural darkness across the land—in which not even Seth could see—but only myself—giving me killer upperhand.

I drove on with big long headlights piercing the heavy shroud.

All I knew was, this was my calling, my way back to innocence—redemption for the sins I had committed, in cursing Seth—and nothing was going to stop me from stopping him. My rest would wait until his death.

I carried on a ways before the darkness began to lift, some birds began to chirp—and I grew nervous for he had somehow yet evaded me.

Then I thought I saw something in the graying distance, before the sun had come back to full force, yet after it was light enough that I could make out the lines of the creature as it moved, but not its exact form.

It stood up in the middle of the road, at the top of the long hill I was driving up—unfolding big wide wings before launching cloudward.

I stepped on the gas and gave chase, as Seth flew across big sky countryside. At first I was keeping up, but never enough to overtake him, so I began to feel as if he was leading me on—perhaps mocking my pursuit.

Eventually, the last of the Darkspell wore off—and the full light of day returned. I was also low on gas now, so when I came upon a station—I watched Seth disappear into the distance—as I pulled in to refuel. I scrambled to fill up, sliding my card through the reader—twisting off the cap and inserting the nozzle. I ran inside to pay and grab some supplies—then when I was walking back toward the jeep, I saw a dark flash overhead—and I felt the ground shake--when something landed hard on the gas bar roof. I grabbed my rifle—when turning back, Seth dropped from above.

The Dragun landed on the pavement across the pad. His wings folded behind him—and he walked on two legs toward me—as he morphed into half-human form. He stared at me intensely, unwavering--confidence over-pouring—strongly exuding every evil an imagination could muster.

Then he stopped—as I checked my rifle was loaded—and I leveled it at him—even as he grinned wickedly, unruffled by my taking aim.

He cocked his head to one side, as if to hear me better.

"Why are you following me, Callow?" he spoke aloud.

My jaw unslung, for I had not expected his intellect intact.

"I have come to kill you, " I said dryly. "To right wrongs."

"You curse me thus—and then come to take even that?"

"I am not saying it's right to you, but it is just to me."

"What makes you think I won't just destroy you--Callow?"

"I choose who dies today, " I said. "Now you go into night."

But Seth opened his mouth and breathed fire across the gas bar-- fanning flames in arcs back and forth everywhere that h

e gazed agape.

I shot twice into the blaze, but then began to back off, fearing the gas igniting and the whole station going up in one giant fireball. I did not know if Seth was immune to fire, but it seemed settled if he was not that he was sealing his own death fate by undertaking such suicidal behaviour.

I dashed into the store and yelled at the girl, asking her where was the back door. I said there was no time to explain and dragged her by the arm to show me. She thought I was a madman, so broke my hold and ran back up front, headed for the phone, when suddenly a series of explosions rocked the place hard to the core—exploding all the store windows, knocking the girl over into the hallway—launching me at the far wall.

I returned for the girl and pulled her outside. Together we ran into the back-field--well away from the gar bar, which exploded one last time while we watched--sending a fireball so high as to blot out the moon.

Then from out of the flames flew Seth, wings spread, dragging fire with him, which burned at the fringes of his skin, but did not seem to hurt him—and which sizzled out after he swooped around a few times.

The girl gasped to see this lizard in the sky. I told her we had to run for it, as I was almost out of ammo--but she remained frozen, unable to subdue her paralyzing fright—and I had to drag her for awhile, before she managed to set her eyes on the rough ground ahead as we tread.

Meanwhile, Seth heard our footfalls with his superior ears—and he was able to scan and vector our position in uncanny short order.

I pulled the girl down into a ditch at the edge of a copse where we would make a stand. I told her to remain as motionless as possible, because Seth would be busy relying on his sonic senses—and looking for visual clues second--so that was her best hope for remaining undetected. Then I climbed up a strong young tree and perched for the best sniper's advantage.

I saw Seth flying across the field toward us and I just tried to remain as calm as possible. I held back, keeping patience cool. I knew hope resided in outstripping Seth's experience—and I would have but one shot.

I had to hit him between the eyes, for I had read in the ancient literature that Dragonlings derived their powers from their third eyes. I knew if I could explode that pineal gland in his head, he would be as good as dead.

He flew closer, but veered back and forth, narrowing our location down. I breathed out, seeing that I had a few more moments to prepare.

But then I dropped my reload round that I had in my hand. I could see where the bullets landed in the leaf-bed below—and as they glimmered I thought I noticed Seth correct his course toward us. I had almost blown it.

The Dragun landed and walked to the edge of the ditch where the girl hid under a big knot of tree-roots that jutted out from the bank-side. Down the slope, where I stiffened in the branches, I set my scope on Seth's scaled forehead, then let it lower to between his slit eyes. He winked at me.

The girl went to move. I could see the fright on her face—and I feared she was about to reveal herself--when Seth was just coming up.

She looked at me for guidance—and I put my trigger hand out, signing for her to stay put. But then Seth dropped out of my sight—and I had to re-scan the area, before I found him climbing down the far side, just beyond where the girl crouched. So I motioned for her to come my way, not meaning for her to be the bait, but that is how it turned out. Seth spotted her and took to wing in pursuit. I tried to track him in the air, but he was too agile.

He landed on her before I could take a shot. Then I fired under pressure--and only grazed his shoulder. He tore her limb-from-limb before my eyes—and I vowed never to be happy again—never to forgive myself.

When Seth finally finished his feast of flesh, he looked up at me. I had climbed down out of the tree and now approached him with palms upraised. I had given up. I was no longer willing to go on hunting while I was the one who had ultimately set all of these events into motion. I let go. I still had the Book of Calling and Orbring. I could have finished it then and there by putting the cursed object on my finger—but instead, I just let go.

Seth grinned, unsure why I was offering myself up, but not of the mindset to question it beyond a passing thought, before taking teeth to task.

He swooped down upon me, as I raised my hands up—but just as he was within a yard of my body, he lit up in a bright light, like a meteor entering atmosphere—and I realized that it was my Protection Bond kicking in. Even when I was not wearing it, the Orbring was defending its host's life.

Seth spun to the side, crying out in agony—and I broke from my guilty trance, suddenly realizing another chance to reclaim my life. I jumped on him, grappling him into an iron hold. The flames continued to lick at his edges—but being fires from the Orbring, they left me unharmed. He took off into the sky—and now I was looking over my shoulder at the ground far below. Even as he writhed in pain aflame--he continued to fly higher, spiraling up until I nearly felt sick from the height. Then he started slowing down, as if he was growing too weak to keep the wind under him—and I cursed my luck, anticipating being stranded up there high above the trees—with two dead wings under me—and no hope of soft landing in sight.

"Good night, Seth Greenwood, " I said in his ear, satisfied with our fate being sealed as one, as long as my soul would see redemption in it. The Orbring glowed brightly in my pocket—sapping the life from Dragun.

"You think this saves you, Callow? You were already lost forever, long ago. There is no hope for you now, no matter what happens to me."

Then Seth's eyes closed and his body became an instant anchor.

I let go and watched his lifeless shell float away as we both fell.

I watched the ground racing up at me as I blinked in the wind.

I closed my eyes, unable to watch longer. I hit ground hard.

I blacked out—but then came to ten minutes later—unharmed.

The Protection Bond had intervened yet again—sparing me.

The Orbring was vying for my finger—drawing me into it.

Seth lay in a heap nearby—in a broken, bloody mess of scales.

But I felt hollow, for I'd failed the girl—despite the dead snake.

I walked over to her shredded body and clipped a locket of hair.

I kept it to remind me of what had happened and who I still owed.

I walked back toward the highway, where I would flag down help.

While waiting with my thumb up—I looked at my hand in a new slant of light—and marveled at each finger as if for the first time. Then some cold wave washed over me—and I casually slipped on the Orbring.

On my way to the next town over, where I would take a motel bed, I got to pondering upon the events of the day—and how my hunt had ended--but I had failed to find that perfect redemption I sought. Now it started to come clear to me that the only way to finish my cleansing was to rout not just the Dragun--but every monster I had created that day, no matter if they posed real danger to society or not. I was now convinced every one of you was unnaturally enjoined with the demons I had spawned—and none of you belonged here on Earth, save six feet underground for all eternity.

But I had not only settled on your deaths—I had settled in myself to use the Orbring again—or whatever means necessary to meet this end.

So this is what brings me here now, with this pen to this page, addressing you, my grandson, Devin Drake, most cursed of all lost souls.

I knew you had been staying in touch with your pack of friends, including Barb Black during her rise to success—Blake Ash since he first started coming around to see you, long after the search for him was called off and he was presumed dead—and even Sadie Gawn, who walked the night.

I knew they had come to trust you—and this is why I now use you.

Sadie thought you had come to see her, when I opened her sarcophagus. By the time she recognized me, I already had her tied up and stuffed in the back of my jeep. Now the game is up to you, Devin. Do you dare defy me—or will you allow fate to take its course and give yourself in? I will find you if you run. I will kill you if you come. It's my final duty, to close your circle of abominations—so that I may once more arise sinless.

Consider this my warning shot and the only mercy I will be foolish enough to grant. Make your best play, Devin--but be aware, I have no remaining hang-up—no twitch of conviction, nor moral restraint—and my sole remaining central purpose in life, that provides me fuel—is your death.

Most Sincerely, Gavin Callow

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