The Clock Tower Guardian Chapter 19
I held onto Aaron and my breath as the glass rained down on us. The tower shook and the platform danced and I tried not to scream in pain. My head, my side, my whole body burned as though it were on fire, but I bit it back. As it was, I felt tears slipping down my face with each movement of the place from the pain that lanced through me at every tiny motion.
By the time the platform still, I was shaking and silently crying. My lungs cried for air and I let out a slow, uneasy breath, doing my best not to jar my ribs. It didn’t do much good, but it was better than nothing.
Carefully, I sat up, holding my head as it began spinning again. When I brought my hand down there was blood on it. I knew that was bad. I wasn’t in any sort of condition to do anything but lay down again and I knew I didn’t have that luxury.
I pushed down the nausea.
“Aaron?” I said quietly, pain lancing through my side at the words.
I reached out to the MAGI and touched his shoulder, but there was no response. Oh no, no.
“Aaron?” I asked, a bit louder this time.
I shook him as much as I dared, but when there was still no response. I rolled him onto his back and put my ear to his heart. Closing my eyes, I prayed silently. I didn’t hear anything for a moment and another tear slipped down my cheek. He couldn’t be dead. If he was dead... but no, there! A heartbeat.
A small sigh escaped me, making me wince and smile at the same time.
“Does that mean you’re happy or displeased that I’m alive?” asked Aaron quietly, his voice horse with pain.
My eyes flew open, meeting the MAGI’s squinting gaze as he looked down at me, my head still on his chest. I sat up in surprise and relief, but too quickly. I held my side and closed my eyes, biting back the pain as it washed through me.
I felt Aaron reach out and wipe away another tear as it slipped out. Then he chuckled painfully.
“That worried I had died?”
I opened my eyes and shot him a scornful look, which was mostly ruined by the pain on my own face.
“Sure. You keep telling yourself that.”
He chuckled again and sat up slowly, pain evident.
“I think I might have broken a few things.”
“I know what you mean,” I replied quietly.
Aaron sighed heavily, looking to where the madman stood. Lotan was nearly bouncing in excitement, a huge grin plastering his face as he surveyed his devastating work.
I had to do something. This couldn’t go on.
Shakily, woozy from lose of blood, I stood. My legs seemed reluctant to hold me and my side burned, but I gritted my teeth and stood tall.
“Girl?” croaked Aaron quietly.
I ignored him and took two shaky steps to the edge of the platform. Bracing myself for the pain, I took a deep breath and called.
The madman, who had gone back back to balancing precariously on the broken clock face, turned. Surprise flitted across his face when he saw me, but then he seemed to completely dismiss the fact that I had attacked him.
“Oh, my sweet!” he called back, laughing happily. “Come! Come see! These foolish MAGI think to oppose my army!”
I licked my lips and gazed from my platform to his, knowing I couldn't make the jump in the shape I was in. That meant I couldn't get at the madman. For a moment I was stumped.
Lotan, seeing my hesitation, easily leapt the gap, swooped me up in his arms, and leapt back. I bit my tongue to stop a yelp of pain since he took no notice of my injuries and jarred me with his abrupt movements. He set me down next to him and I nearly fell over, the pain lancing through me. He laughed as though my inability to stand were a great joke and took hold of my chin, making me look up at him.
“Now, remember this, my sweet,” he said in a gently scolding tone. “I will not be toyed with or crossed and these are the consequences of your actions. I’ve won you fair and square now and you’ll obey me. Understand?”
I threw a punch. He caught my fist and gave me an annoyed look before twisting my arm painfully behind me. I cried out and would have fallen, but instead of letting me go, the madman pulled me up against his chest. Tears of pain slipped down my cheeks as he held me there by my hurting arm.
With his other hand he gently stroked my cheek. He looked down at me sadly and sweetly, our faces only inches apart. Then he sighed.
“Ah, my sweet, you will learn. You must be more attentive to my wishes.”
He bent his face closer to mine, pulling me up onto my toes by my arm. Everything hurt as I tried to breath and ended up whimpering in pain as he whispered against my lips.
“Oh, but I do so love seeing you this way, too.”
Then he kissed me, forcing his tongue into my mouth and I reacted instantly, biting the offending organ so hard I drew blood. He ripped away from me and threw me across the platform. I hit hard and skidded to a stop, covered in broken glass. It took me a moment to gather myself enough for any movement, but when I managed it, despite the crippling pain, I grinned and spat his blood back at him.
Lotan stood where he was, blood dripping from his mouth, and gave me a look so terrifying that twenty-four hours ago I would have feared for my life. Now, my grin turned into a smirk.
“Good to know you bleed,” I gasped, still smirking as I spat more blood out of my mouth.
That pushed him too far and he came at me. He grabbed me by my neck and hauled me up so I wasn’t touching anything. My feet dangled and I couldn’t breath.
“You will learn to obey, one way or another,” he growled so fiercely that for a moment I thought a bear had spoken.
I clawed at his arm as I began to choke, and he tossed me across the gap to the platform Aaron still sat on. I hit hard, whacking my head, and my vision went crazy for a moment. I closed my eyes with a groan, trying not to puke.
I heard Lotan leap onto the platform after me and I swallowed hard. I had to do something before he killed me.
But I couldn’t move. I knew I couldn’t. I wasn’t sure I could even try.
Outside, the sounds of fighting had lessened. Someone was definitely losing at this point and I had a horrible idea of who it was.
Lotan looked at Aaron then.
“You,” he said, voice a low growl. “I wasn’t going to kill you just yet, but now I’m not so sure. My sweet may never obey me if you’re still around...alive.”
Oh no. Please no!
The Guardian cocked his head to the side, looking at the MAGI thoughtfully.
“So,” said Aaron painfully. “You’d kill me to make her obey you?”
The madman smiled suddenly, brightly, as thought he were pleased as punch that the MAGI had figured it out by himself.
“Good luck with that.”
“Is it my ability to kill you that you doubt? Or my will to do so?” asked Lotan, seeming to be genuinely curious.
“Neither,” replied the MAGI, his breathing heavy and uneven. “I doubt her ability to obey.”
Lotan looked down at the wounded Dwarf scornfully.
“You Dwarves clearly lack the ability to reign in your women if that is so.”
The Guardian leaned down, looking into Aaron’s eyes. Then he smirked.
“Well, no matter.”
He straightened abruptly.
A moment later, the Selkie appeared on the platform. Dos’s face was set in stone, immobile and emotionless. Seeing it, I felt my stomach sink, even as I kept everything down. I knew at that moment what the madman had in mind. He wasn’t just going to kill Aaron, he was going to make Dos do it.
“No,” I whispered.
I moved my hands under me, scrapping them raw on the glass covering the platform and I felt blood begin coming from the new cuts. Gritting my teeth, I ignored it and made my arms lift me into a sitting position. My whole body trembled with the effort as I kept losing blood.
Everything was happening too fast. My mind cried, as my body did, in a rush of panic and pain.
Then time slowed. I saw around me the wounded Guardians, laying still as stone. I saw Dos, trapped in a horrible tale, completely out of his control. I saw Aaron, badly hurt and at Lotan’s mercy. And I saw the madman, ready to kill and destroy worlds.
My mind screamed at me.
My body cried in pain.
The tower shook and groaned.
The sounds of the fight grew faint.
This had to stop.
I had to stop this.
It couldn’t happen.
It wouldn’t happen.
I was a Guardian.
I was Mistress of the House.
I was Keeper of the Seals.
I was Etti Antti.
Then something in me snapped. The pain was gone. The fear was gone. The uncertainty and death mentality were gone.
Die? No, not me. Not today.
Today, I would be the victor.
The magic came at me in a rush, dancing and swirling like a wild creature come at it’s Mistress’s call. My eyes began to glow and, without conscious thought, I made the magic lift me to my feet.
My hair whipped around my head as though caught in a gale, but it was the magic that made the maelstrom. All three pairs of eyes were locked on me and I’m sure I was a terrifying sight.
In that state it was almost as though I were made of pure magic and not flesh. I was driven by cold fury and determination, but it was as though I wasn’t myself anymore. I was almost a spectator in my own body, but I knew I still had control. I was simply letting the magic take my will to be given form.
I felt the third Seal cracking, beginning to break as the tower groaned and shuddered, writhing like a wounded beast. This was the worst one yet and had I not been so saturated within the magic, I would have been thrown clear off the platform.
The others grabbed for whatever handhold they could and held on for dear life, but I knew I had to stop this. I couldn’t let the Seal break.
I turned and stretched out my hand.
My voice sounded strange to my own ears. It resonated with magic, sounding like the voice of many instead of one and seemed to echo in my bones like the echos of a choir’s last notes in a cathedral.
The Seal stilled and the tower quieted. Then I turned slowly to look at each of the three remaining Seals. None would last long. The poor magics ran torturous circles in the black, ready to shatter at any moment.
I stretched out my hands to them.
The swirling black slowly calmed as the pressure was released from the agitated magics. It thinned and dissipated a bit at a time, fading from black to gray to white. Then it took back it’s natural rainbow hues, beginning to gently pulse again.
I smiled as the magic within me sang joyously, making me feel as thought I might fly away at any moment. The Seals were whole and healthy again.
My gaze shifted to the two broken Seals then and, feeling the pain and sorrow of the magics within me at the sight, I reached out sadly for them. The choir voice spoke gently and heart-wrenchingly, in a tone that begged for all to be well again.
“Come back. Be whole. Be new.”
All of us watched in amazement as the glass and clock hands rose slowly back to their places, piece by piece, gluing themselves back together. It was almost as though time were moving in reverse. Then, slowly, the Seals took shape and form once more. They pulsed healthy, and glad, and whole, their rainbow shades shining with thankfulness at being set right again.
Then the quiet was broken by a howling screech of fury.
“No! No! No!” screamed Lotan, turning on me with wild eyes.
He looked crazed and ready to attack me again. The madman began to come at me as he continued screaming.
“What have you done?! How dare you! How dare you! What are you?!”
With an animalistic howl, the madman leapt at me, but I held my ground, unfazed by his insane anger. Instead, I raised my hand for him to stop and the magic sailed at him, wrapping him tight in it’s folds. Unable to move, he tried to throw himself from side to side and howled all the louder.
His screams were cut off with a chocking sound and he looked at me, eyes wide, both terrified and furious.
“Lotan Wenon, Guardian of the Western Gate and Master of the Tower, for threatening that which you were sworn to protect, you are herein stripped of your power and your titles.”
I waved my hand, allowing him to speak once more, so that in fairness, he could repent or condemn himself.
“I’ve done nothing that shouldn’t have been done! Who are you to take my power from me, little girl?!” spat Lotan.
The power surged through me, rising like a giant wave, as though the magic were offended by his question. Slowly, I raised my hands, and began tracing symbols in front of me. They seemed to burn the air and sparks flew.
“I am Etti Antti
Guardian of the Northern Gate
Lotan, I now cast you down
And decree this your fate;
As Keeper of the Seals
I make this one for you
Bound eternal shackles to wear
That your actions you might rue
I banish you to the plain
Where the Aether Spirits dwell
To be Sealed for all time
In your own personal hell.”
Lotan screamed, one final, animal cry as the Seal grew and built momentum around him. As it became complete, it spun so fast it was little more than a blur of shining rainbow colors. It built and built and built until it was pure white and closed in around the madman.
In a blinding flash of brilliant white light, he was gone.
The Seal hung like a small, shining star, glowing proudly in its newborn radiance, where Lotan had been, but Lotan himself was no more.
Then suddenly, all my energy left me and I felt my feet touch the platform once more. The magic ran out from me, like water slipping through my fingers in a torrent, bursting forth, back to where it belonged in the wide world.
Blackness closed in on me and I collapsed. The last thing I knew was Aaron calling my name.
He was calling my name...
A/N: Well, it's not quite over yet kids. Still one more chapter to go. Hope you enjoyed. :)