“Three things cannot be long hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
- The Journey to the Afterlife
My father finishes cutting through the heavy blast door and the circular piece of iron falls to the ground with a heavy 'thud'! Of course he loses no time and rushes through the hole. Marcus and I follow close behind him, just to end up in another room.
It’s empty, except for a big pedestal with stairs leading up to a throne. A few guards are lining up to block our path to the person who is standing halfway up the stairs. He is clad in a baggy, black cloak with a hood. The clothes shroud his identity completely. What little can be seen of his face is covered by a featureless, red mask. He is giving instructions to a guard who is standing to attention right next to him.
“Great. Now we even found a bad copy of Darth Maul! If that isn't the evil overlord, then I'll forswear sex for a week.” The words simply come out of my mouth. I can't help it. The whole scene is simply too cliché.
Dad points his staff at the figure and raises his voice. “You have to be the one they call the Great One. Care to explain why you are creating all this mess?”
The figure ignores my father and turns back to the guard, whispering some commands.
“Hey! Don't ignore me! And take off that stupid mask! I want to see the one whose aura is supposedly like mine!” My father advances on the row of guards, blasting them with his staff.
I take it upon myself to punch a hole into their line of defence, throwing myself into the fight. The first soldier who decides to confront me gets a pressure point treatment, which leaves him screaming on the floor. There is nothing above hitting a few nerve endings, sending signals of pain through the target’s entire being. Marcus joins me and together we clear a path for Shade.
That finally draws the attention of our nemesis. But the figure in black robes doesn't react as expected. I thought that we would now finally have the big bossfight. Instead, the figure grabs the clothes of the guard at his side and shoves him down the stairs, tripping him. The guard tumbles into my father, halting his advance for just a moment. Using the opportunity, the robed man turns and runs up the stairway, throwing out an arm to create a shimmering portal next to the throne.
My baffled father needs a precious moment to gather his wits until he dashes forward, shoving the man who stumbled into him further down the stairs. “Coward! Where do you think you are running!?”
The robed figure jumps through the portal, just as my father lunges forward and manages to grab a piece of the man's cloak in mid air. With an audible 'clap' of displaced air, the portal snaps shut and Shade lands flat on his belly. He was just a little too slow. Dad immediately gets to his feet, cursing and throwing a tantrum. He throws the piece of cloth to the ground and tears the metal throne out of its socket, hurling it across the room. The heavy throne creates a huge dent in the wall.
I just stand there while our soldiers file through the hole and overwhelm the remaining defenders. There was something wrong about the cloaked man, but I can't put my finger on it. Was it the way he moved? Or the fact that he always whispered to his subordinates? Why is he so focused on hiding his identity? Marcus reaches for my arm and touches me with his warm hand. That breaks my concentration and the thought slips away.
“Is there something wrong?” He asks.
I smile at him. “No. Probably not. I've just the feeling that we are missing something about this ‘Great One’.” I walk up the stairway and slip the piece of cloth into one of my pockets while my father is still raging.
Marcus followed me and watched the scene with interest. “Well, maybe your Moonray can provide some answers?”
Shade snaps his fingers and calls out, “Moonray! That's it!” He turns around and hurries back down the stairway and through the hole in the blast door. One moment later there is a suspicious 'crack' and a scream. The crack sounded familiar, like breaking bones. And the voice simply had to belong to Moonray.
“I didn’t hear him ask a question,” Marcus mutters.
It figures that my father's first impulse would be to hurt the prisoner without even asking a question. “Dad thinks that getting answers via torture only works if you show from the beginning that you are perfectly fine with causing pain. First, he hurts them until they ask him why he is doing it. Then he gives them the opportunity to make it stop by spilling their guts.”
Marcus rubs his temples. “Yes, I remember. Though that doesn't sound like an effective method. He is a soulmage who can pick someone's mind apart as if it's made out of Lego-blocks. Why go through all the trouble?”
I tilt my head and inspect my husband. Well, husband to be? Thinking of him as my husband may be a little too early. We didn't even have a proper party. Though we already went through all the other steps. “Do you really think that my Dad is someone who needs a proper reason to inflict pain on his enemies?”
Marcus shudders and shakes his head. “No, you are right. For a moment I forgot who we are talking about. I guess I really need a few silent days to catch up with everything.”
That makes me smile and I step closer, using my finger to draw a circle on his chest. “What makes you think that I'll give you a silent moment?”
“You are forgetting... eight times left,” he grumbles.
I let my shoulders hang and close my eyes. “You had to mention it!”
He curls down the corners of his mouth as if he thought about something. “We could forget about the amulet and settle for twice a week? If you need more time?”
“No way! We've used it for too long, I am addicted to the damn thing! I could never be satisfied by going back to doing it normally!” It's true, doing it with the amulet is just so much better! We can go on and on and...
Marcus sighs. “Then we have to resort to other means of protection.”
“Other means? Like condoms and a coil?” For a moment I consider shoving some metal or plastic into… I shudder. There isn't much to consider in that case. “I would rather get pregnant.”
“I see,” he answers.
I raise an eyebrow and look at him. “You have no objections?”
“I am not the one who will swell up like a balloon and scream my guts out once it’s time. So I figure that I shouldn’t have the last word in the matter.”
Damn! He just had to go and say it!