The Clock Tower Guardian Chapter 18
The tower shook and groaned as the clock face burst. I had just enough time to cover my head and curl up as small as I could before the shattered glass came down on the platform.
The glass rained down in a million shattered pieces, cutting at my arms and clothing as they did. I winced and pulled closer into myself as I heard the madman laughing joyously. The vibrations of the tower made the whole place seem like a wild, dancing creature as the platform swayed dangerously.
I heard the hands of the clock fall, clanging loudly as they collided with the inner workings. The sound was jarring, but above it all I could hear Lotan’s laugh grow ever louder. As the clanging died away and the glass rain ceased, I cautiously pulled my arms down to look at the damage.
The clock face was completely gone. In it’s place I could see the brilliant, clear blue morning sky. Then I focused and almost cried out in horror. Where the Seal had been was a dark, swirling hold. Amid the black, I caught glimpses of the human world on the other side.
There were people crying and running and terrified there. It seemed to be as I had feared. The human world on the other side was a populated city.
No. I couldn’t let this happen! This would cause immeasurable destruction on both sides, just from the Seals breaking. Nevermind what the army, or what might be left of it could do.
Lotan, seeming oblivious to my existence now, dashed toward the broken Seal. He balanced in the frame, leaning out dangerously far.
I sat back, shellshocked.
The Aether Spirit appeared, hovering beside me.
I looked over at the swirling rainbow eyes that were watching me warily and spoke as though I was talking about the weather.
“We’re going to die.”
“No we won’t,” Itzel shot back, voice a bit higher than it should have been.
“Alright then, I’m going to die.”
“No you won’t,” she said, voice going just a bit higher and getting a bit angrier.
I smiled wanly at her.
“Yes, I’m going to die.”
“No you won’t!” she shouted in my face.
I laughed at her insistence, only sounding a very little bit on the edge of breaking. Of course I was going to die. Anyone would have said the same thing. My Master was dead, the other three Guardians were incapacitated at the very least, and the MAGI were who-knows-where and not likely to come back. Even Aaron, who had specifically given me a way to call him, apparently wasn’t going to come after all.
That left little old me, all by my lonesome, to try and not get killed by the raving lunatic who had once been the most powerful Guardian of the Five.
Yep, I was going to die.
But, that was okay. At least I would go down fighting.
Again, for no reason fathomable, the old seer’s chant popped into my mind.
‘I shall not speak, your fate is sealed
But to the one who follows I yield
A single phrase as fate demands
Look to the hands’
My hands again? No, I’d already looked to them and they were free. Then another thought struck me.
The clock hands? I looked around to the other three clock faces, seeing them all under stress and ready to break soon. But I had already known that.
An idea wormed its way to the surface and I carefully moved across the platform, trying not to cut myself further. I looked over the side to where the hands had fallen and what I saw made me blink in surprise. I looked away for a moment and shook my head to try and clear it before I looked again, but no, still there.
The MAGI was actually climbing up through the gears and was at that very moment making his way up and over the fallen hands. I wasn’t sure if I should laugh or yell at him for taking so uselessly long.
I opted for silence and was glad I had when I heard a moan that was barely a breathy whisper and so quiet I thought I had imagined it. I looked sharply at Quir’s body and then moved carefully to his side.
I couldn’t move him without rolling him into glass shards so instead I put my ear next to his face and listened with all my might. I was about to give up when, there! Another moan that I almost couldn’t hear.
Quir was alive!
I scrambled over to Razana, heedless now of the glass, and felt breath coming from her nose. She was badly bloodied, but she was still alive.
Next I leaned over Grundur and looked for some sign of life. None was quick in coming.
I felt Aaron reach the platform and heard him sigh behind me.
“You’re alive!” he said in a quiet, relieved voice.
I looked over my shoulder at him, scowling.
“No thanks to you,” I growled. “Where in Phyre have you been? I called you yesterday. If you weren’t going to come help when I called why did you bother giving me that useless thing in the first place?”
Aaron scowled, not quite hiding the hurt expression, and I felt just a tiny bit bad for some reason. Why? He was the one who hadn’t answered when I had called. He was the one who had taken so long getting here while I was held prisoner and my fellow Guardians were beat to a pulp.
The MAGI pulled himself the rest of the way onto the platform, keeping crouched as though it would make his hulking self less noticeable.
“I have about fifty MAGI waiting just outside for my signal to attack,” he said quietly, apparently deciding to ignore my irritated questions.
“Did it really take you that long to stir up a bunch of MAGI to come save a Guardian situation?” I asked scathingly, unable to resist the biting question.
“Would you rather I just leave and take them with me then?” he shot back, genuinely angry.
I flinched back at his tone and expression, eyes wide as I watched him warily now. I hadn’t realized he could get truly angry. I had ribbed him plenty in our previous meetings, clearly baiting him, but he had never actually gotten angry. Besides, wasn’t I the one in the right here?
I opened my mouth to reply, but he waved a hand to keep me silent, the anger falling from his face. He looked away from me.
“No, I’m sorry. You’re right. I should have gotten here sooner,” he said, everything about him now just seeming tired.
I frowned. What was his deal?
A groan from Grundur interrupted whatever I may have said next. I turned quickly back to the Central Guardian.
“Grundur?” I said quietly.
Another small groan came from him.
I turned to Aaron, smiling in relief.
“They’re all alive for now. I thought he’d killed them.”
Aaron moved closer to me so he could talk more softly.
“Where is he now?”
I nodded up toward the broken clock face and the MAGI’s gaze went to it. I could faintly hear Lotan addressing his troops, rallying them against the humans. I let out a shaky breath.
“And you say you only have fifty MAGI out there?”
“Lotan has an army of thousands,” I said, looking at him soberly.
He nodded, looking thoughtful for a moment.
“Well,” he concluded. “I suppose that makes the odds pretty even then.”
I snorted and couldn’t help the grin that snuck onto my face.
“Alright, macho bravado aside, I’ll give you that I don’t know how powerful you all are. But,” I held up a finger. “Lotan took out three Guardians single handedly and he was playing with them. He didn’t even bother killing them. What does that tell you?”
“That his power has gone to his head if he’s stupid enough to leave a threat alive like that. That will be our advantage.”
“By the way...”
Aaron pointed over my shoulder and I glanced over to see Itzel hovering there quietly. I waved my hand carelessly.
“Oh, that’s Itzel, my Aether Spirit.”
Aaron gave me a look.
“And how long have you had her?”
“Oh, about twenty-four hours now.”
“Dare I ask what kind of bargain you made?”
“Now I don’t see how that’s any of your business,” I shot back. “And I do believe we’re getting off topic. I would like to direct your attention, once again, to the madman who’s breaking Seals and intent on wiping out the humans.”
“He’s what?” hissed Aaron, clearly shocked.
“You heard me. So what are we going to do about him?”
“You’re going to wait here and I’m going to take him out.”
I gave the MAGI a look that clearly told him how stupid I thought that plan was and he sighed.
“Look, I have a bunch of MAGI waiting in the wings. I give them the signal to attack and they’ll blow through that army in a minute. Lotan may have been able to take down three Guardians but there’s no way he’ll be able to stand up to fifty MAGI by himself.”
I continued to give him the same I-think-your-plan-is-the-dumbest-thing-I’ve-ever-heard look.
“I think,” I said slowly. “That you’re miscalculating something here. Either you’re underestimating Lotan, you’re overestimating your MAGI, or you’re underestimating that army. Maybe even all three. Regardless, it’s not going to go like that.”
“And I think you’re wrong. I’m going to signal them.”
I sighed in exasperation as Aaron stood. He chanted something under his breath and closed his eyes. After a moment, he nodded and opened his eyes to look down at me.
“They’re heading in.”
Then he turned and began chanting again. I saw a bolder come hurtling up toward Lotan, who was taken by surprise and was easily knocked from his precarious position with a yelp of pain.
Aaron shot me a smirk over his shoulder, but I pointed as a Griffin appeared in the open clock face.
“He’s a shifter, stupid!” I said.
The MAGI turned back and saw the Griffin Lotan. He scowled at the Guardian and charged him.
“Aaron!” I shouted after him, half afraid and half alarmed at the recklessness of it.
The MAGI didn’t stop and I gritted my teeth as I stood. Stupid or not, Lotan had to be stopped and I was in no position to turn down help of any kind.
I closed my eyes, chanting in my mind, and focusing. As my eyes opened, the world of magic snapped into place. All around the natural magics were leaping around like crazy, clearly upset by the unnaturalness of the Seal breaking and the others threatening to.
Reaching out I told hold of two strands, one in each hand, and prepared to send them at Lotan.
Then, something truly terrifying happened. The Guardian of the Clock Tower sensed the magic. Even though he was grappling with Aaron, the two of them locked together and rolling along the platform by the broken clock face, and he shouldn’t have been expecting anything from my direction, Lotan looked up. He looked up, straight at me, and met my gaze. He watched me send the magic his way and, as I did so, the world seemed to slow for a moment.
His gaze went from momentary surprise to an amused smirk. Then at the last moment, with one movement that seemed to show his complete contempt for our efforts, he broke away from Aaron and the magic I had sent at him missed completely.
“Aaron!” I hollered as the world sped back up.
For a moment I was afraid I had hit the MAGI, but the next second the giant Dwarf was on his feet once more, looking no worse for wear.
Then Lotan landed on top of me, pinning me to the platform. I scowled up at him, struggling my hardest to get free. The Guardian shimmered back into his regular form as he kept me down. There an amused smile playing on his face, as though he were a kindly adult indulging a child.
“Girl!” I heard Aaron yell in alarm.
“Ah, my sweet has teeth,” the madman murmured gently with a chuckle. “How cute. You truly think you can stop me? You and that oaf MAGI?”
Lotan laughed carelessly and I felt the anger boiling up in me. He was playing with us. He was amusing himself! It’s the same thing he had done with the other Guardians. He would play with us until we dropped, just like they had. This was nothing but a game to him!
Aaron came pounding across the platforms and launched himself at Lotan, but the Guardian stood at the last second and sent the MAGI flying into the railing with a spinning kick. I began to try and squirm away, but Lotan caught me before I had even gotten a foot away.
“Now, now, my darling. Just where are you going?” he purred.
“Anywhere away from you!” I spat, using all the strength I possessed to heave the madman off of me.
He rolled off, laughing and completely unharmed. He sat up crossed legged and grinned at me, resting his chin on his hand with a grin.
“Well, well. That’s quite a bit of venom my sweet has.”
“I’m not your sweet!” I hissed, grabbing a strand of magic and hurling it at him.
He waved a hand, deflecting it effortlessly, still grinning. I heard Aaron groan behind me as he moved.
“What in the worlds are you hoping to accomplish by this, my dear?” Lotan asked, sounding genuinely curious.
“I’m not going to sit here and let you destroy the worlds,” I said, standing up and glowering down at the madman.
The grin slid off his face and he became suddenly very serious. I heard Aaron make it into a standing position behind me.
“You’re... not going to... let me,” said Lotan very slowly and deliberately.
“No, I’m not,” I hissed as I reached for the magic again.
The next moment, Lotan was on his feet. In two steps he was in front of me. Striking faster than lightning, he grabbed a fist full of my hair and yanked to the side. With a yelp of pain, I lost my balance and fell hard, getting cut even more on the glass that still covered the platform. It would have been alright then, but he didn’t let go as he deflected the spell Aaron was aiming at him.
Then, with careless effort, he threw me by my hair straight into Aaron. We collided painfully and I could tell the MAGI took the brunt it as we crashed back into the railing. Somehow, Aaron had twisted so I wouldn’t hit anything but him.
I sat up swiftly and regretted it as my head spun, but I looked at the giant Dwarf, grabbing the front of his suit.
“Are you okay?” he asked, sounding bad.
I didn’t have a chance to answer as Lotan came up behind us and grabbed a handful of my hair again, dragging me off the MAGI. I threw a desperate bunch of magic at the madman, who dodged the wild swing easily and kicked me in the side before banging my head down onto the glass covered platform.
Someone screamed as the pain shot through me and I realized somewhere in the back of my mind that it was me who was screaming. Lotan let me go and stepped over me to go after Aaron again.
I couldn’t move. I had never been in so much pain before and I was gasping for breath, trying not to scream anymore. Breathing hurt.
I heard Aaron yell something and I registered the sounds of fighting and yelling outside the tower now. The other MAGI must have been battling the waiting army.
Aaron hit the platform hard, shaking the whole thing. He groaned in pain. I rolled onto my back and was just in time to see Lotan kick the MAGI in the head. Aaron went limp and I gasped, worried and horrified. Then I winced as pain shot through my side again.
“Aaron?” I said weakly, wincing again.
When the MAGI didn’t respond, I looked up and met Lotan’s sad gaze. He stepped over the giant Dwarf’s body and crouched next to me.
“Ah, my sweet. Why would you make me do this? But you’ll be alright soon enough.”
He ran a now gentle hand through my bloody hair and smiled sweetly down at me.
“Then we’ll celebrate in the new, human-free world together. Now, you wait here, my dear, and don’t cause any more trouble.”
As he moved away, I heard the tower rumble, low and dark and terrible. I swallowed hard, pain lancing through me as I fought the darkness touching the edges of my vision.
Then the second Seal broke.
The tower shook so hard I thought it might break and I cried out in pain as I was tossed around like a rag doll. I hit Aaron’s solid back and had all I could do to hide my face there as the rain of glass began.
Somewhere in the distance, I heard the madman laughing again.
A/N: Oh dear. What will our heroine do? Well, at least Aaron finally showed up right? Lol. Hope you guys enjoyed. :)