Cody sat on a bed reading. He heard barking behind him. He turned around. He saw Sparky sitting and wagging his tail. Cody smiled. He put his book down, stood up and took his true form. He bent over and patted his knees. “Here, Sparky.”
Sparky ran up to and pounced on Cody, leaving a trail of black, smoking paw prints behind him. Cody fell back as Sparky licked him. Cody laughed.
Cody looked at the door when he heard it open. Valthakar stood there. “It’s almost time,” he said. “We need to get down there.”
Cody took a deep breath. “Right,” he said, nodding. He looked up at Sparky. “Off.” he said. Sparky stepped away. Cody stood up and followed Valthakar downstairs. He called Sparky to come with him.
Cody stood in front of the door to the basement, next to Valthakar. Justin was on Valthakar’s other side. They waited a few minutes.
They heard stirring downstairs as Bavandersloth awoke and ate the thirty humans they’d brought to him over the past few nights. They braced themselves.
One of Valthakar’s souls phased through the basement wall. “He’s got all of them,” the soul said. Valthakar nodded. The three waited for Bavandersloth to burst through the door. Valthakar sent the soul back in. Bavandersloth didn’t come out. Cody breathed deeply, clenching his fist. Bavandersloth would no doubt turn invisible, but he would have to use the door to escape, or else make a hole in the wall. As soon as anything opened, Valthakar would blast Bavandersloth, destroying his lower body and keeping him from moving until his frenzy was over.
A few minutes later, a hole appeared next to the door. Valthakar fired a magical beam at it. He moved the beam up and down so Bavandersloth could not crawl under it or jump over it. A section of the basement below was worn away, but Bavandersloth was not hit. He must have jumped back from the hole.
Valthakar’s soul came back out. “Small holes, like, finger sized, are appearing in the walls. I think he’s trying to climb them.”
“Where are they exactly?”
“To your left.”
Valthakar nodded. He kept his one hand on the door while holding out his other hand, prepared to fire on any holes that appeared in the wall. Soon enough, one did. Valthakar let out another magical beam. Like the last, he moved it up and down to keep Bavandersloth from sneaking past it. “Odelarch,” Valthakar said, “stand in front of the wall to the left of me. Prepare to fire.” Odelarch nodded and obeyed. Bavandersloth’s shield would be able to block Odelarch’s blasts, but by using his shield, Bavandersloth would reveal his location. Sure enough, a hole did appear. Odelarch fired several blasts, making craters in the basement floor.
The soul came back out. “He’s climbing over the first hole,” it said. Valthakar nodded. The soul went back inside.
“Tkoralkiarch, prepare to fire on him from my other side.” Tkoralkiarch nodded and took a few steps to Valthakar’s right. A hole appeared there and Tkoralkiarch fired a series of magical bursts, one after the other. Another hole appeared nearby and Tkoralkiarch fired with his other hand.
Another hole appeared. Tkoralkiarch took a deep breath and alternated between the two closest holes on his left. Another one appeared next to that. Valthakar alternated between what were now the two closest holes on his right. When another hole appeared next to that, Valthakar repositioned himself, firing at two holes with his left hand and two with his right. Holes continued to appear until each lich was occupied with four holes, two for each hand.
A few minutes passed. Valthakar’s soul emerged at one point and said he didn’t see any new climbing holes forming in the basement. Valthakar nodded and the soul went back in. As Valthakar focused on the holes in the wall the door swung open and a shot emerged from it. Valthakar’s eyes widened. He activated his shield while Bavandersloth, presumably, ran out. Blasts from the other two liches flooded the area, but to no avail.
Valthakar thought. Bavandersloth wouldn’t go out through the front door. That’d be too predictable. He’d expect someone to be ready to fire at him as soon as it opened. Instead, Bavandersloth would go for a window. Valthakar turned to the others. “I’m going to cloak myself. You two split up. Odelarch, you stay on the third floor, Tkoralkiarch, take the second. I’ll summon some souls to monitor every inch of the house. When one of them comes to you, do whatever it says. There’s no telling what kind of destruction could be wrought if Bavandersloth makes it into town.”
The two nodded and ran upstairs. Valthakar cloaked himself. He summoned an army of souls and ordered them to monitor the house. He stood in the great room, looking around. A few minutes passed.
A soul approached Valthakar telling him that a window on the third floor had broken. Valthakar’s eyes widened. He ran outside, firing his magical beam around in a circle, but nothing came of it. Eventually, Valthakar stopped.
He ordered his souls to get the other liches. They did, and the others ran downstairs. Valthakar decloaked as they came out the front door.
“What are we going to do?” Tkoralkiarch asked, his eyes wide.
Valthakar sighed. “We’ll split up. You go out and search for him,” he said. “Try to predict his behavior. Above all, what he wants right now is food. He’s going to look for large groups of humans.”
Tkoralkiarch looked at Valthakar. “What about you?”
“I’m going to warn the public about this.”
Tkoralkiarch squinted. “Wait, wha--”
“Bavandersloth gave me a script a month ago. I know exactly what to say.” Valthakar looked out into town. “He also made some plans for how he’ll act right now. He may want souls above all else, but his other desires are still extant, and if it doesn’t lower the amount of food he gets, he will still obey them. He still doesn’t want to ruin his own plan.” Valthakar looked back at the others. “Get going.” The others nodded and activated their clouds. They went off, Sparky following them.
Valthakar ran back inside the house and grabbed a pre-paid cell phone. He called 911.
“911. Where is your emergency?”
“This is Orichalcum, the Angel. Something went wrong with Light-rook’s restoration. The portal we summoned to let him come back here… something else got in. It’s running away from our headquarters. I should be somewhere in Northwest Goldfalls, not too far South of the Northwest District. I have no idea where it’s heading, but it’ll want to run to a population center and kill anyone it sees.”
The 911 operator took a while to respond. “Alright then. I’ll alert the police. Please stay on the line.”
“I will, but would it be okay if I called someone else on another phone?”
“That’d be fine.”
Valthakar put the phone down, putting it on speaker, and picked up another one. He called Channel 4.
“Hello, you’ve reached channel 4 news. How can I help you?”
“This is Orichalcum. I have urgent news. Hundreds of thousands, possibly millions of lives are at stake. Put me on air now.”
The man on the other line was silent for a moment. “Okay, sir. I can give you the mana--”
There were a few beeps. Another man came on the line.
“This is Orichalcum. Something’s happened and a disaster is imminent. If you have a way of broadcasting me--”
“What is it?”
“Our means of bringing back Light-rook has brought something else back instead. It’s one of the creatures I mentioned in my first interview; a devourer. I don’t know exactly where it is, but it’s heading into town, and it’s liable to kill hundreds, maybe even thousands of people.”
There was a pause. “Yes, alright sir. I’m trying to get you on the air right now. Violet’s in the studio.”
A few minutes later, the man came back on. “Alright, we’ve got you on with Violet in one.”
Violet Fox came on air. “We interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to bring you a message from the Angel Orichalcum. He’s joining us over the phone. Orichalcum, please speak.”
“Thank you Violet. A few minutes ago, we were working on bring Light-rook back. The actual process of restoring his body is done by now, in theory. However, the body was built somewhere else and had to be moved here. We opened a doorway to let him step through, but he was blocked, and a devourer came through.”
“Yes. As I said, they’re like our evil twins. They have a lot of our powers, and one is created in their dimension every time one of us is born. They have an irresistible urge to kill, but there’s nothing they can kill where they live, so whenever they come here, they’re itching to cause destruction. There is one rushing towards town right now and I have no way of tracking it.”
“Should people evacuate their homes?”
“No. I’m not sure if there is a good way to protect yourselves. If everyone tried to evacuate, that’d just cause traffic jams, which would be like giant buffet lines.”
“Wait, buffet? Do they consume par--”
“Don’t think about it. If you want my advice, just stay in your homes. Avoid large groups of people. This thing’ll go wherever there are the most people for it to kill. Don’t bother barricading your doors. That won’t do any good.”
Violet stood, mouth wide. The interview went on for quite a while longer. Before too long, Valthakar picked up the cell phones and went outside to search for Bavandersloth himself.
Bavandersloth ran along the road, rushing toward a destination he already had in mind. He saw a car approaching. He stopped. He licked his lips and stood, crouching on the side of the road. He thrust himself into the car as it passed by, landing inside with his waist on top of a child.
The car contained a man, a woman, and two young children. The woman gasped. The child Bavandersloth now lay across pushed on him and screamed. Bavandersloth put his hand on the car’s vinyl and willed the whole car to decay away. The man, who’d turned around, widened his eyes. He slammed on the car’s breaks, but the car was gone before it could reach a full stop and the humans tumbled onto the road. Bavandersloth rolled too, landing next to the older child. He extended his scythe, and then scooped up and ate the child’s soul. He stood up, listening to the adults scream. He ate the other child and destroyed his body. The adults ran away, but Bavandersloth chased, caught and devoured them. When he was done he turned around and resumed running for his original destination.
Cody and Justin stood in Goldfalls’ Central Square, watching Valthakar on Channel 4. Central Square was always crowded, even now, so it was not too unlikely that Bavandersloth would come here and attack the many humans waiting nervously for taxis and fighting over busses. If he didn’t, the many screens all around, all broadcasting news, could alert them to where else he struck.
As Cody watched, trying not to enjoy the thick smell of fear around him, he saw Violet Fox’s eyes widen. His did too. Violet interrupted Valthakar. “Sir, sir. We’ve got some breaking news. Several police have been called to The Jackal. That’s a bar in the Northwest of town. The creature is apparently attacking there.”
Cody and Justin stood up and ran in that direction.
Andrea and Felix rode up to The Jackal on their colorful motorcycles. DIAPP’s helicopters roared above them. They heard screaming inside. The two rushed in. Andrea grabbed an ink bomb from her side and activated it, covering her helmet’s visor with her arm. The bomb threw out a smoky mist of purple ink which clung to every surface, including the devourer in the corner.
The devourer turned around. There was a group of civilians behind it. Andrea and Felix lifted their left arms and pointed their liquid nitrogen hoses at the devourer. They fired. The devourer ducked away, the liquid nitrogen hitting one of the civilians behind it. Andrea’s eyes widened. She clenched her fist and looked at the devourer. It activated its shield and ran at Andrea. She dashed to the side. The creature swerved, changing direction and rushing toward Felix. The creature lowered his shield, got close to Felix, and then reactivated it.
Felix fell backwards onto the wall of the magical bubble. The devourer leaned down and ate Felix’s soul.
Andrea’s eyes widened. She shed a tear. She gritted her teeth and lifted up both arms, aiming both her liquid nitrogen hose and her flamethrower at the devourer. She waited for the devourer to try something. It didn’t. It just circled around Andrea. The creature still had Felix’s body. It lifted it up. The devourer ripped off parts of Felix’s body and used them to defile others. Andrea clenched her fists and seethed. The devourer kept going, moving toward the door, mocking her with Felix’s corpse. Andrea clinched her teeth. The devourer moved, staying inside its shield, until it was just outside the door. It lowered its shield and quickly raised it.
Reflexively, Andrea shot her flamethrower at the creature as its shield lowered. The building lit up. Part of the door collapsed, probably due to the devourer, trapping Andrea inside. Her eyes widened. She looked around. She saw the devourer approach a window from the outside and made the wall around it collapse. She ran toward the next window, but the devourer beat her to it, and to the next, and to the next.
She turned around, looking at the pile of civilians in the corner. She couldn’t tell if any of them were alive.
She stood at one end of the bar and shot the other with a grenade launcher. The wall collapsed, making no hole. She seethed.
Cody’s eyes widened as he approached The Jackal. It was ablaze, and was surrounded by firefighters. Bavandersloth was long gone. Sparky looked at the fire. He wagged his tail.
Cody thought. If Bavandersloth did have a specific destination in mind, and he probably did, he’d run straight toward it. The mansion was to the Northwest of this bar, so Bavandersloth was heading Southeast.
Cody, Sparky and Justin ran off along the road.
Through a camera on one of DIAPP’s helicopters, Agent Lambert watched the devourer run as he sat in his organization’s headquarters. He searched the area. There were no humans around. He smiled. “Fire,” he said.
The helicopter launched a rocket downward, toward Bavendersloth. Bavandersloth put his shield up and slowed down, forcing the rocket to overshoot him.
Agent Lambert ordered another shot to be fired. Bavandersloth sped back up, dodging it again.
Bavandersloth stopped running. The helicopters zoomed past him before he they were able to turn around.
Agent Lambert aimed the camera behind the helicopters. He gritted his teeth.
Bavandersloth pointed his arm up at one of the helicopters and fired a magical beam. He hit its main propeller. The helicopter fell to the ground. Bavandersloth licked his lips and rushed over to where it seemed like it was going to land. He jumped up and through the helicopter, scything and chomping a few of the souls inside. Rockets hit the helicopter as he exited it, making it explode and propelling him forward.
Bavandersloth fell on his face. He stood up and ran. Agent Lambert ordered his helicopters to fly up higher and rain bombs downward. The helicopters rose. Bavandersloth looked up. He lifted his arm and aimed up at one of the helicopters, but his magical beam missed at first. Bavandersloth smirked and waved his magical beam from side to side. Hitting them, but not for long enough for a magical beam to do enough damage.
Bavandersloth took a deep breath. He held out his arm and jumped upward, firing a magical blast at one of the helicopters. He missed. Agent Lambert smiled. The bombs were almost armed. Lambert turned to his side to take a sip from his glass of water.
Bavandersloth closed his eyes ran to the side. He jumped up as the helicopters’ bomb hatches opened. He fired a magical beam into one, and then the other. The bombs exploded. Agent Lambert’s view screens went blank. His eyes widened. He crushed his glass, cutting his hands. He seethed and shed a tear.
Bavandersloth smiled as he watched the helicopters explode into millions of pieces. After a second, though, he frowned. He could have eaten those people. Oh well, there were still plenty more souls out there, and he was almost to his first big destination.
Cody ran, wishing he’d brought a phone so he could stay in contact with Valthakar. He and Justin kept going. A while later, they passed by a series of televisions in a display window.
“…now attacking the Isle Hotel…” Cody’s eyes widened.
Cody rushed up to the hotel, Sparky and Justin on either side of him. People were running outside. Justin sent a soul inside. A few minutes later, as the pair entered the lobby, it came back. According to the soul, the lowest several floors were evacuated, but Bavandersloth had trapped people on the upper floors by destroying the stairs and creating spike pits below them by making negative spaces of the right shapes decay away. There was a SWAT team inside.
Cody jumped to the second floor and then dashed upstairs, looking for Bavandersloth. He’d only decayed away the bottommost flights it seemed. Just after he and Justin split up, he heard a scream. He ran toward it. He saw Bavandersloth cornering a family. He held out his hand. He thought. Was there any way he could hit Bavandersloth without killing the family?
Cody looked to his side. “Sparky, do you think you can get Bavandersloth without harming those people?”
“Alright then. Sick ‘im, boy.”
Sparky ran at Bavandersloth, barking. Bavandersloth turned around. Sparky tackled him and blew a bit of fire from his mouth on him. Bavandersloth’s eyes widened. He punched the hellhound, who flew off of him with a yelp. Bavandersloth rolled to try to put the flame out. Cody called Sparky back and stretched out his hand. He shot at Bavandersloth’s legs. Bavandersloth raised his shield. The blast put a crack in the hotel floor. Cody’s eyes widened. He kneeled and whispered a plan to Sparky. Sparky nodded and ran downstairs.
Cody blasted the ground below Bavandersloth, making him fall through the floor. Cody ran to the hole he’d created. He looked down. Bavandersloth’s shield had broken, and he lay two floors below Cody. Cody shot downward, but Bavandersloth rolled out of the way. Cody’s eyes widened. He ran downstairs, got sparky, and ran down more stairs. By the time he reached the next floor down, Bavandersloth was nowhere in sight.
Justin walked through the hotel gathering people and helping them down the broken staircase. Bavandersloth had not only made the stairs decay away, but also much of the floor. Liches could make things decay according to any pattern they liked. Bavandersloth had taken advantage of this, and created a pit of two-foot long spikes below every staircase. It was long enough to prevent emergency responders from using ladders to help people down from it.
Justin reached the edge of the staircase with a family in tow. He turned around. He put out his arms. The family stared at him. “My arms are out. Hand the baby to me.”
The mother nodded and set her infant down on Justin’s arms inside the black cloud. Justin held the baby close. She was asleep. Justin activated his shield and jumped down. The impact with the spikes made his shield fainter for a split second, but the shield withstood it. Justin rolled his shield across the spikes where a fireman waited. Justin handed the baby to him. He turned back around and stepped into the spike pit. The spikes impaled his feet, but he felt no pain. He walked to the other side and jumped up. He wasn’t able to make it up, and he fell back down. The spikes impaled him. He stood back up. He tried the jump again. He made it. He lifted up the toddler and helped him down in the same way he’d helped the baby.
Valthakar, invisible, walked into the hotel. He found a staircase; he had to admit the spike pits were a clever touch, and jumped up. He sent a flood of souls out to find Bavandersloth, and it wasn’t long before one did. Valthakar rushed up a dozen floors to Bavandersloth’s location. He saw Bavandersloth. Bavandersloth’s shield was up. Valthakar smiled and stretched out his hand. He aimed at Bavandersloth’s legs.
As he ran, Valthakar’s eyes widened. He collided with A SWAT officer, who fell over. Bavandersloth turned around. His eyes widened. He dashed away.
Bavandersloth ran toward the back of the hotel. As he ran, he summoned all of his souls.
The whole area was clouded by a dense fog of souls, obscuring Valthakar’s vision. Bavandersloth ordered them to shout, and they did. Valthakar covered his ears. He ran forward, but had no means of following Bavandersloth.
Cody heard a huge crowd of people shouting on the floor below him. His eyes widened. He and Sparky ran to and down a staircase. Cody waded into the fog of screaming souls. He couldn’t see a thing. He looked down at Sparky. His eyes widened. “Sparky, can you send these souls back to the underworld?”
Sparky shook his head. Cody frowned. He sighed. “I don’t suppose you can see through this fog either?”
Sparky looked down and shook his head again. He whimpered. Cody petted Sparky. “It’s okay,” he said. Cody sighed.
Bavandersloth kept running. He couldn’t see through his fog of souls either, but they guided him. He ran to a staircase and went down. He called his souls downstairs with him. The stairwell he’d chosen ended just two floors below, so he searched for another one.
Cody saw the cloud of souls disperse. His eyes widened. He ran down the stairwell nearby and found another cloud of souls.
Something occurred to Cody. His eyes widened. He smiled. Bavandersloth seemed to be going downstairs. Cody stepped away from the staircase and put his hand on the rail. He made the flights of stairs below him decay away. Bits of rusted metal fell into the spiky pits below. Cody smiled. He went back upstairs. He ran around, searching for another stairwell.
If he made all of them decay, he would trap Bavandersloth with him in the hotel where he could wait for his hunger to end. They were on the forty-second floor, high enough that Bavandersloth might not be able to safely jump down into the spikes. If he destroyed the stairs above Bavandersloth as well, Bavandersloth wouldn’t be able to reach any humans save the ones on the floor he wound up on. It wasn’t perfect, but it was better than nothing.
Bavandersloth found another stairwell. He almost ran out. His eyes widened. It was decayed.
Bavandersloth stepped away from it. He closed his eyes and thought. He put his hand to the ground and made the floor below him decay away. He did the same thing with the floor below that and the floor below that. He did this for a few minutes, stopping to eat a few people he ran across, until he was on the second floor.
There, he found a window that led to the pool behind the hotel. It had been evacuated, and there were emergency workers outside. Bavandersloth smashed through the window and out into the pool area. People around looked, and then ran. Bavandersloth ran into the crowd of workers and ate them. When there were no more in sight, he ran into the water. The ink on him started to fade.
DIAPP’s ink was made of chemicals that didn’t decay, at least not in the way liches could induce. Bavandersloth smiled. It seemed that they hadn’t been able to find a waterproof ink with that property.
After Bavandersloth had been in the pool for a while, the ink was gone. Bavandersloth stepped out of the pool and dried himself off. He smiled. He was invisible again. He ran away from the hotel, setting off for his second major destination.
Agent Lambert slammed his fist against the desk. “We lost him?”
The woman nodded. “Yes, sir.”
Agent Lambert seethed. He took a few deep breaths then sat down. He closed his eyes. If Bavandersloth was headed back into the hotel, he’d know in a few minutes, but why would Bavandersloth waste this opportunity? DIAPP once again had no way of tracking him. Agent Lambert looked down. “Just do as you were before you got the ink on him the first time,” Agent Lambert said. The woman nodded and left. He needed to encourage their chemists to work on a better ink. The one they had now could be removed by chlorinated water. As far as the realm of the magical was concerned, that didn’t count as being able to decay, as solid masses of chlorinated water didn’t appear in the air under normal circumstances, but it still made mishaps like this one happen.
Agent Lambert sat back and put his feet up on his desk. He took a sip from his coffee. He called an agent. The agent ran in. “What is it?”
“How long has it been since Bavandersloth’s rampage started?”
The Agent looked at his watch. “Four hours, sir.” Agent Lambert sighed. So there were two hours left.
Valthakar sent out his own army of souls to find the others and arrange that they meet on the second floor. Valthakar stood as they approached him. Justin looked up at him. “What happened,” he said. “The soul said Bavandersloth--”
Valthakar took a deep breath. “Yes. He’s gone, and DIAPP’s ink is off of him too. All we can do is leave and wait for him to strike.” Cody and Justin looked down. Valthakar made the wall next to him decay away and the three left.
For the next two hours, Bavandersloth moved unpredictably enough that neither Agent Lambert nor the other devourers pursuing him could catch him. Though his frenzy meant he couldn’t help but stop and feed whenever prey came in sight, he was able to move from place to place quickly enough that DIAPP wasn’t able to ink him again.
His movements were random enough that his next destination could never be predicted with certainty. Over time, Agent Lambert noticed he seemed to be heading, in general, toward the downtown area.
At different times during the next two hours, both Cody Giles and Justin Cooper returned to their own homes under the excuse that they had to deal with some urgent business at the portal Bavandersloth was supposed to have come through in their version of events.
Agent Lambert sighed as the clock passed 6:30 AM. Bavandersloth had begun his rampage more than six hours ago, so it was over. He sighed and sat back. No doubt he’d march back to Valthakar and stage one final battle in which he would be defeated. Perhaps it was possible to get Bavandersloth then? Agent Lambert sat up and thought.
Valthakar looked up at the sky as he walked. He saw a soul approaching. He looked up. “What is it?” he asked.
“Master Bavandersloth is no longer in his frenzy state.”
Valthakar nodded. “I see. What are his instructions for me?”
“Follow me and await further instruction. Bavandersloth isn’t done with his rampage just yet.”
Valthakar tilted his head and squinted. “What?”
Agent Lambert stood up from his desk and went to the break room to make more coffee. As he poured coffee into his mug, he heard an alarm. His eyes widened. That alarm meant that a supernatural force was attacking the building. Agent Lambert ran out to the hall, intending to evacuate.
Bavandersloth ripped the soul out of another DIAPP agent. He’d been planning this since he let himself be destroyed last month. Why pass up an opportunity to raid DIAPP’s base while he had a plausible excuse?
Bavandersloth stepped onto a staircase, kneelt down, and made the ground below him decay into spikes. He ran up the stairs and made them decay away. He turned the corner. He was in a cubicle room. He summoned several souls and ordered them to look around. They managed to find nine hiding agents. Bavandersloth smiled. Still invisible, he followed his soul to one of the agents. Before the man even knew he was there, Bavandersloth stuck his scythe into him, taking out his soul. Bavandersloth followed the soul to the next person, and then to the next. Eventually, he reached a group of two men cowering under their desks. Bavandersloth stood back and thought. He had to eat one of them first, but didn’t want to alert the other, lest they reveal that he was in the area. Bavandersloth kneeled down. He thought of a plan. He touched one of them and severed his vocal cord. He snatched the other one’s soul before they realized what was going on.
The one whose cord he’d severed banged on the desk above him. Shit. Everyone around panicked and ran off. Bavandersloth ate the agent and ran out of the room.
Agent Lambert gritted his teeth. The sprinklers, which in this building were filled with DIAPP’s special ink, should have gone off by now. Bavandersloth must have disabled them. Agent Lambert ran downstairs. Unlike the hotel, this building had recourse against Bavandersloth’s spike pit trick. Then again, if Bavandersloth had guessed it was there, he would have destroyed it. Agent Lambert closed his eyes. Please, let it still work.
Bavandersloth ran up to the next floor, leaving a spike pit behind him. He ran around devouring souls. He moved on to the next floor and did the same. He kept this up until he was about half way up the building.
Agent Lambert heard a beeper buzz as he moved downward. He pressed a button. “Attention, Agent Lambert. Judging by the set of stairs Bavandersloth has spiked and the set of stairs he hasn’t, you’re on the same floor with as him.”
Lambert’s eyes widened. He took a deep breath and clenched his fist. That meant the next set of stairs would be spiked. Please, let it work. Agent Lambert pressed on. There was no use going back. He just had to hope not to run into Bavandersloth. He neared the staircase. He activated the contingency for spiked staircases, an extendable cover near the bottom of the staircase and an extendable ramp near the top. Nothing happened. Lambert’s eyes widened.
Lambert felt an arm reach around his neck, choking him. Bavandersloth uncloaked himself, but raised his cloud. He dragged Lambert backward as Lambert squirmed.
“Don’t bother trying to escape,” Bavandersloth said. Bavandersloth forced Agent Lambert down, and then reduced his cloud to a humanoid shape, one that only just covered his form, even allowing the rusty chains that dangled from him to be exposed. He looked down at Agent Lambert, and then up at the security camera and then back down at Agent Lambert. He whispered. “Guess what, I’m done with my little frenzy. I’m in my right mind again.”
Agent Lambert spat on Bavandersloth. “I know.”
Bavandersloth created a bulge in his cloud in the shape of a smile. He spoke up. “You know a lot about us then. You can’t possibly comprehend how wonderful it is to be allowed to roam free in another dimension when you’ve been imprisoned for so long.”
Agent Lambert’s eyes widened. He opened his mouth. Bavandersloth leaned down. He used his magic to cut agent Lambert’s vocal cord. “Ah ah ah,” he said. “No interrupting. It’s time for your agonizing death.”
Lambert struggled. Was this it? Did Bavandersloth have him?
Suddenly, Agent Lambert heard a voice. “I might have something to say about that.”
Agent Lambert looked up. He saw another black cloud, presumably Valthakar. Bavandersloth turned around. Valthakar reached down and jerked Bavandersloth upward, throwing him across the hall. He ran to Bavandersloth, who struggled to get up. Valthakar fired a blast of magic at Bavandersloth, putting a hole in his stomach. Bavandersloth screamed. Valthakar fired another blast, then another, making a few more holes. With each one Bavandersloth screeched, until the last one, where Bavandersloth went limp.
Valthakar grabbed Bavandersloth’s body. There was still a veil around it. Valthakar jumped downstairs.
Valthakar and Bavandersloth turned invisible not too long afterward. They ran back to the mansion, where they turned visible and took their human forms.
“How long should we wait to tell the press of your return?” Valthakar asked.
“Do it later this afternoon,” Bavandersloth said. “Tell them that you managed to get me back after you subdued the devourer, and that I can be interviewed by Violet Fox the next day.”
“Hello everyone, and welcome to Channel 4 News at 6. The world is reeling from yesterday’s devourer attack which is estimated to have resulted in the deaths of seven-hundred people and caused nearly six-hundred-million dollars in damage. I’m here, for the first time since November, with Light-rook to comment. Thank you for coming.”
“Thank you for having me.”
Violet wiped away a tear. “Indeed. Now, yesterday’s attacks have been a great tragedy. Please, could you please tell us what exactly happened yesterday?”
“First, let me express my utmost condolences to the families of the victims. As for your question, it ultimately traces back to a month ago, when that agency imprudently destroyed my body.” Bavandersloth looked down. “My command of magic allowed me to restore it, or create a new one, really, in my own dimension. I did that, but in order for me to get here, it was necessary for Orichalcum and the others to open a portal to that dimension. Unfortunately, there’s no way, or at least no reliable way, to filter what comes through. We took every precaution we could, but something got through. There was no way of predicting it.”
“Sir, you call this other realm your own dimension, but it seems clear from previous statements you’ve made that you’re a human.”
Bavandersloth sighed. “True. I do come from here, I suppose.” Bavandersloth looked down. “I’m trying to decide how much to tell you. As Orichalcum said, too much information about magic can be a bad thing. It’s like… it’s like I, we, feel a kinship with that world. I’ve been like this for more of my life than I haven’t been, so it’s hard not to think of it as my home. It’s strange, I know.”
Violet looked down. “Alright. Now, about the creature that attacked the town, Orichalcum said they were your rivals?”
Bavandersloth sat up and sighed. “Yes. In fact, each time one of us is born, one of them is created there. That usually doesn’t matter because there’s nothing for them to do there. The problem comes up whenever they come here. It doesn’t happen often, which is why it isn’t recorded at any point in history. Actually, to tell the truth, it was hypothetical until today, as far as I knew, which is why we were willing to open the portal at all without gathering a large force of our people in case this happened. The thing was attracted to the reformation of its partner’s body, so it was able to find the portal.”
“Some might say that’s awfully convenient.”
Bavandersloth sighed. “I suppose they might. I don’t really have a counter to that. All I can do is try to be honest with you.”
“I see. When the creature attacked the man the Angel of Death later healed, Deerward Lambert, he showed a bit of his form and there were chains dangling from it. Why?”
Bavandersloth sighed. “Those are a part of him, basically. I have them too. As a pair, our appearances match, and his is decided by what I was like as a… well, before I was what I am now.”
“And why chains?”
Bavandersloth pressed his lips together. “Alright, now this is going to be one of those big ones.”
Violet’s eyes widened. “What?”
“I was a slave.”
Violet’s mouth widened. “Oh. So like, in Mexico or--”
“The Middle East.” Bavandersloth sighed. “Think about it. I was completely destroyed and I came back. What do you think happens when we have heart attacks? Well, we don’t, but the point is, what do you think happens any time we quote-unquote die?”
Violet gasped. “Wait, so you’re…”
Violet’s mouth grew still wider.
“I’m not particularly old, a least compared to the mean. Orichalcum chose his name because he’s old enough to be from Atlantis if it was real. There are a few of us who lived on Earth as Plato wrote. Most of us are younger because there has been a rush of us since the industrial revolution and human population growth. Still, measured from the mean of our ages, I’m not all that old.”