By: Martin Linson
Once entering the portal, it felt as if his entire being was being flung across the universe. It was the sensation of speeding millions of miles with none of the downsides to traveling at such impossible speeds. On the other side they stepped out, however Jake tumbled out, not expecting the speed of his exit from the other side. Getting back to his feet he brushed himself off while look up at Ric’s back, now taking a good look, as it was just as scarred as his front. However there was two in particular that caught his eye, two scars about a foot in length along both of his shoulder blades. Tilting his head as he was observing them, Ric turned, snagging his clothes from Jake’s hands as he dressed himself, shaking his head in response to Jake’s questioning look about the scars.
“Let’s go,” with a jerk of the head in a direction Ric was off. Jake glanced at the surroundings for the first time and was awe struck at the sight. It was a gorgeous forest unlike he’d ever seen. The trees were gigantic with trunks that seemed to go up forever into the sky with no end. The ground had a slight give to it, like a padding of moss across the entire bed of the forest. There was no direct sunlight but a glow from the tops of the trees, as if the sun couldn’t break the canopy of trees. “C,mon!” Ric grunted back at him “This way.”
“Oh sorry… yeah… shit, this place is beautiful Ric, wow… why don’t you live here?” Jake finally took after Ric, not far behind his footsteps.
“Stick close, the actual space here is an illusion. It’s like an over complicated combo lock really. The reason I don’t live here is there’s about as much space as there is for us to be here. And I did stay here for a time, and I’d rather not talk about that either.” He got quiet as he continued through the forest.
Taking what seemed to be random turns here and there, tiny short cuts it would seem, almost like a kid taking you to their fort in the nearby woods, the thought made Jake chuckle, which in turn earned him a glare from Ric as they continued on his odd path to his treasure it seemed, as Jake stifled one last chuckle as he didn’t want to annoy Ric. God forbid he left him here, but he didn’t think Ric would do that, would he?
“We’re almost there, just around…” turning a last few trees and corners, as they came around to an opening to a cave.
Moving inside there was a small fire in the center with no smoke, and seemed to not be giving off heat, just light. For that matter Jake realized that the entire place had been a nice and perfect room temperature. There was a door in the back of the cave with a lock on it. Ric motioned into the air as the key seemed to just appear as if snatching it out of nowhere. Then slipping it into the lock, the key turned as it was meant to, releasing its lock on the door as it cracked open.
Ric let out a sigh as he looked down, and opened the door; within it was a stand for a sword. Taking it out Ric pulled a rag out with it, wiping it down the length of the blade as he brought it up in full sight of Jake now. It was a fantastical sword, something about it; the air around it seemed, alive. It felt like the sword knew we were here, and looking at it, a feeling Jake couldn’t shake. The blade was a metal he’d never seen before, with a blue sheen color to it. The thickness of the blade was much larger than, any Earthly weapon dare he think. It has the length of a claymore, a little over four feet in overall length and the blade about three and a half feet. In Ric’s hands, the weapon seemed to wield like a long sword, or even the ease of a short sword. It was broader than most with the top of the sword about four inches in width, while about three quarters down it began to widen all the way to the hilt at about eight inches.
The hilt was the same metal interwoven into what appeared to be ancient petrified wood. It almost looked as if the sword had somehow been grown. The hilt branched out where it met the sword four times with ninety degree angles between each; the symmetry of the entire weapon was perfect. The base of the hilt branched upwards in a similar fashion as the top and seemed to be a perfect fit to Ric’s hand. Jake couldn’t make out, but there seemed to be runes of nothing identifiable to him cascading around the entire hilt, as well as reaching up the bluish blade, the runes appearing in a lighter blue almost looking as if they were bolts of blue lightning forged into the hilt and blade.
“I never thought I’d bring this back out again… Fuck, ok, honestly, just not this soon.” Ric sighed once again as he opened his jacket and slide the sword into a pocket. The sound of a sword fitting into its sheath could be heard from his jacket, but it seemed to be disappearing into his jacket.
Jake just shook his head, “I’ve stopped trying to explain anything right now…” the shock finally wearing to a point of speech.
Ric chuckling in response, “Heh, I honestly couldn’t have imagined you taking this any better, or anyone for that matter. I’ve just blown up your world into the harsh dark reality of what it is. Not many in the entire population of mortals could truly comprehend that and deal with it. When this is over, we’ll talk. But first, I am getting Kimmy back.” Ric’s resolve returning at the mention of her name as he once again removed his jacket handing it to Jake again. “Can you again? I need to open another door.” He chuckled as Jake nodded taking his jacket.
Once again, Ric began chanting in some language that merely sounded old. He began moving his hands in different, but similar ways to the last time. Perhaps the differences where in a new location, or returning from this place? Jake pondered some questions to maybe one day ask, as he stood back once more in awe of what he could only call real magic. The feathers on Ric’s arms changing color as before; each black feather turning white as the opening finally flashes, blindingly, brightly open. This time Ric turned to Jake, taking his jacket and top back first and put it back on. “Alright, now if you want to go back to the alley, that’s fine Jake. This is way over your head, and honestly, you might die tonight. Others already have and I’m not going to promise you that I can protect you when I’m not sure I can kill this thing. To be honest, this isn’t my first time meeting him…” He lets out a long drawn out sigh, “the last time didn’t end well either. Everyone… he let me live in the end…” Ric cut himself off, standing up straight, “this ends tonight, one way, or another.” With that Ric stepped through the opening. Jake stumbling forward in a startled hurry joined through.
The immense high rise stood silent in its monolith appearance over the surrounding one to two story buildings. Vacant, except for those few vagrants who huddled in the once thought be new utopia project for the homeless and downtrodden. The ivy crawling up it’s walls, falling apart exterior, and depraved surroundings showed the failed success of the project. Failed of course only to those that spent the money on building it. Those that used its now free shelter found it to be a great success, as it had become something of a homeless oasis for those careered few that had no interest in being helped.
A few overly full shopping carts, spilling over with random belongings, varying from all shades of clean and dirty, mixed with an assortment of recyclables; could be seeing passing one another with nods to each as they passed. Some would reach an arm over their cart protectively, with glares of judgement and hisses as they’d try to shoo others away from their findings. While others would show up, sharing what they’d earned or found that day. Giving what they could to those that couldn’t even make it away from their hovel to scourge for sustenance.
Those outside began glancing skyward as a strange sound could be heard. Almost like the sound of something dropping from the sky. Those that were veterans were all taking cover, shouting and screaming at others as some literally jumped into PTSD delusions and were kicked right back into the fight they’d left behind; for some it was more recent than others, but all shared the same afflictions from the combat they experienced. Most stood staring straight up, as those without any horrible delusions ran out into the streets to see what was occurring and causing everyone to look upward.
Their glances were answered by a large crash as the Demlo and child came crashing through the roof of the high rise. The sheer force of Bahlreq’s impact sent them through the first five floors, finally coming to a rest in the middle of the sixty-fourth floor. He stood under a large hole above as he held Kimmy close to him, protecting her from the impact and debris. Walking out of the room they’d landed in, he kept his grip on her firm, his fingers seeming to snake around her arms in a way there was seemingly no escaping. Taking record of what was on the floor they landed, seeing it was vacant he dropped down the stairs another level, and doing a quick walk through. One arm wrapped around Kimmy while the other hand never left her mouth, keeping her quiet while he assessed their surroundings until he was satisfied.
Kimmy let out a squeak as he finally set her down inside an abandoned apartment as he closed the front door to it, locking it by bending the doorknob in a way making it no longer usable, therefore locking Kimmy inside the worn, beaten, apartment. The walls were weak and faded, some giving way to the room on the other side while throughout it seemed filled the mixture of a horrible odor, comparing to excrement and body odor.
Scampering off away from him as soon as his gaze turned away making sure the door was jammed as he’d intended, then turning back into the temporary shelter he’d found. She’d noticed as she trotted away that his demeanor was becoming less and less, human. His true nature was beginning to become unquestionable as her father was now appearing to look as if he was a monster wearing a human’s flesh as some sort of sick disguise. Pieces were now falling off at rare moments, around the fringes where it appeared Bahlreq’s true form was peeking out.
His bottom jaw was no longer her father’s, it had fully transformed into that of Bahlreq, showing all his demonic, ghastly, jagged teeth. There was a tear it seemed from the cheek bones across his face where the Demlo’s appearance shown. The eyes were no longer that of a human, but the beady black soot eyes with the infernal orangish glowing hue of a being from The Pit. The tips of his fingers appeared as if a demon had attempted to wear the skin of a human hand as a glove. Each finger ended between the second and first knuckle as the black, burned, melted sticky skin of Bahlreq could be seen, along with his jagged talons at the end of each digit. The posture he kept would change as he moved, mostly taking a hunched over, almost beast like, as he’d straighten out every so often as if getting a good look of his surroundings or stretching out one could not tell. His clothing was appearing to stick to him, due to sweat, or some sticky fluid excretion of some kind he was now exhibiting. Her father had been no more for some time, there was just no mistaking it now to anyone at this point.
Kimmy had continued around the corner, darting through a wall to her left, then right. Holes just big enough for her to slip through with ease, as she came into a bathroom. Opening one of the cabinets she climbed in and closed the door. Brining her knees up into her chest as she wrapped her arms around them, burying her face into her knees and arms as she tried to focus on the thought that maybe, just maybe, Ric was coming. He was the only hope, if any she had, and even she had doubt that he would be able to save her at this point. She cringed into her knees as she could hear him looking for her now.
“KIMMY! Where did you goooo!!”
There’s a sudden stir in the air of the alleyway. The few destitute hanging around began to slowly back out of it as the wind began picking up in one particular area. A blinding light fills the alley as any watching lose their sight for a few seconds, as Jake and Ric step through the opening and seals back up behind them. The onlookers who had yet to start running were staring in awe at the two who appeared out of the light it seemed.
“W-where are we?” Jake muttered as he looked around warily, thinking he was somewhere even he wouldn’t normally go from the looks of it.
“He’s here, with her.” Ric looked up the falling apart, mostly vacant high rise, his gaze resting on the floor Bahlreq had landed. “I can smell him, and practically see him at this point. He’s lost control and shredding his shell, making him more visible to me. Once his shell is shattered he goes back to the Pit, but can return quicker, stronger, in a new possession after a successful full corruption. I’m going to send him back, so that doesn’t happen, then his only way out of the Pit is if he’s summoned, and with all of his followers now dead. He’ll be down there a long time.”
“Why don’t you kill him? Or can he not be killed?” Jake asked reluctantly.
Sighing Ric responded, “this isn’t the first time I’ve faced him Jake, and to be quite honest. I don’t know if I actually can. He let me live, thousands of years ago. I can only imagine he’s that much stronger now. My best chance is to send him back, so he doesn’t hurt Kimmy.”
Jake noticed a flare of what seemed like light in Ric’s eyes when he said her name. Was some power driving him now? Was it a rage Ric now had due to stealing this innocent child from his care?
“Stay down here, it’ll be safer,” Ric said to Jake, and then took a few trots forward and suddenly bound from the ground up shooting into the air. His silhouette could be seen arching through the sky through the roof of the dilapidated high rise.
Jake looked around the area seeing most of the homeless had scattered and left due to the commotion. He walked down the street looking in all directions, down a few alleys to see if anyone was lurking around, only to find no one. Sighing to himself he just collapsed to the curb of the sidewalk and gazed up at the high rise, wondering what might be going on up there.
Bahlreq had taken to smashing down entire walls in the apartment while looking for Kimmy, “where are you girl! You don’t really think you can hide from me, do you? I’m part of your blood now Kimmy, Daddy’s here!” Plowing through another wall as his distance to the cabinet Kimmy was hiding in was dwindling very rapidly. As she clenched her legs closer, burying her face deeper into her arms to hide her breath from any earshot.
Crashing through a new hole through the roof was Ric. Hitting a banked floor from the original crash, skiing down the remainder of the floor on the soles of his boots, coming to a halt in the rundown apartment Bahlreq had claimed as his hiding place, Bahlreq froze from all the upheaval happening back in the apartment.
“Where the fuck are you, you piece of shit?” Ric shouted as he undid his coats and slipped them off to his broad, scared, muscled skin. He let it drop to the floor and knelt down, reaching his hand into an inner pocket. He pulled his hand out, pulling out his rather giant sword slid out of its hidden sheath.
Bahlreq’s head peaked up in the air as he heard Ric’s call. Tilting like a thoughtful beast as he contemplated finding the girl then leaving or killing her like the last kid, or just killing Ric. His Horrid mouth of rotting teeth smiled as he decided it was time to end his feud with Ric, once and for all, as he turned to find the first born he’s enjoyed tormenting his eyes flared with the orangish hue that seemed to glow from the black pits of eyes.
Bahlreq rounded the corner into the cleared out front of the apartment. In the Demlo’s tantrum with Kimmy’s hiding he’d knocked all the walls between the kitchen, living room, and dining room down. Ric’s posture straightened as he brought up his giant sword with one hand, wielding it with the ease and dexterity of a much smaller weapon as Jake had seen before.
“Ahhh, I see you’ve brought a weapon this time, that’s new, first born” Bahlreq’s head tilted as he tried to examine the runes he spotted on the weapon before him. Becoming startled as he realized they were runes that he did not recognize, either. They were not of any Anglo, or Demlo’s lexicon that he knew of, and being one of the oldest he was baffled.
“No! I am Alaric!” The runes on the weapon sizzled loudly, appearing as if actual bold bright blinding blue lightning bolts. Lighting up the entire apartment and floor, as the hole they had crashed through became a beacon of blue/white light, the runes remaining bright, sizzling and bold. Ric’s presence brightened, his demeanor was that of a champion, not the weary worn immortal. “I’m here to end this, NOW!” With a speed even Ric was caught off guard with, he landed a flying kick directly into Bahlreq’s chest, sending him flying back crashing through several walls. The Demlo released a wail unheard of before as it echoed out the hole in the ceiling and through the empty surroundings, as he came to rest eight apartments away.
Groaning loudly, wheezing, and coughing up blood in a big black patch on the ground as he turned, Bahlreq looked up shocked. His eyes no longer glowing with the hue behind them, for the first time Bahlreq felt a chill of fear roll up his spin.
Ric didn’t hesitate, plunging his sword into the air as the blade vanished midway as if cutting through reality itself. He swung up and out as a hole opened up in thin air, forming into a portal like that of the one he formed before. This one however, wasn’t glowing bright; it was pitch black, almost absorbing light around it. “Come at me you piece of shit! Or did I hurt your fucking feelings?”
Bahlreq’s eyes flared bright with the orangish hue once again, his rage exploded, burning into a furnace of power as he suddenly was on his feet. “You’ve done nothing yet first born, I am your end, I have foreseen it!” He lunged towards Ric, striding the distance of eight apartments within a second.
Ric gave a cheeky grin, dropping his sword instantly and collapsing to the ground as he reached his hands out grabbing at the remaining clothing of the once known father. His hands clenching down on the fabric as he used the Demlo’s momentum and swung him around and through the big black dark hole. Bahlreq vanished into the portal as Ric rolled up onto his feet standing before the opening; waiting for a few minutes to be sure it was in fact a one way trip before uttering a few ancient words, sealing up the hole in reality. He inhaled, bringing his arm out at his side and opening his hand, the sword flew from the ground placing itself into his hand as his fingers clasped around it. His head darting in the direction Kimmy was hiding as his eyes opened glowing with a bright blinding light. Slowly dimming away until his normal blue eyes where only seen.
Kimmy was pressed into the corner of the cabinet as far as she could get. Her hands having moved from her legs to her ears as she kept her face buried in her knees. Trying not to hear anything happening, her fear being that anyone coming to save her will fail, the demon was right, she was his now. Tears were streaming down both of her cheeks.
The cabinet door opened, brining light into the dark cabinet and a wailing scream from Kimmy, as she tried to fly past whoever was opening the door, only to run directly into Ric’s large chest padded with several layers, his arms wrapping around her as she did.
“Shhhhhh, it’s finally over Kimmy. It’s all over.” One of his hands cupped her head as she looked up at him, her eyes welling up with tears until they burst, overflowing as she buried her face into his chest. Her tiny arms clinging to him with every ounce of strength she had left.
Sniffling she pulled away finally “I-I-I…” hic “I-I didn’t –t-thing you were gonna” sniffle “make it” she was finally able to get out, between her sniffles and tears.
“I told you Kimmy. I wasn’t going to let him take you, not over my dead body, and I’ve been alive for a very, very, very long time. I might tell you some stories someday. First, what do you say we get out of here?” He smiled brightly at her, for the first time in centuries actually as he wiped away her tears.
She began smiling herself in response, giving even a light giggle as if her fear of him not coming had been funny. She nodded and wrapped her arms around his neck. Ric stood up lifting her with him, and made their way down the many stairs. He wanted to give Kimmy a chance to finally relax, as after the first flight of stairs she was already asleep.
Jake had nodded off himself, his head resting on his knees as Ric’s boot nudged his head off balance, making him fall to the side and jerk awake suddenly in fear. Bolting to his feet as he looked around, stopping on Ric and Kimmy in front of him. He began to well up to say something as Ric brought a finger to his mouth to shush him, motioning to her that she was asleep. Ric smiled and nodded at Jake, and mouthed, ‘it’s all going to be ok’, then motioned with his head for them to all leave, as Jake nodded in response, smiling brightly as well.
The three of them walked down the abandon street, away from their previous alley, that was no longer home. Now with Kimmy to protect, Ric was going to have to find somewhere he can defend. He had a feeling in his stomach that this wasn’t over by a long shot. However he wasn’t going to dwell on that anymore, for the first time in a long time he was going to enjoy his victory, and take a deserved rest.
The End: Corrupted Innocence
This is only the beginning for Ric, or Alaric and his new friends. They will all be returning shortly in the next chapter of Immortal