Ray #8

We Gotta Get Out Of This Place

Hugh brought Ray, Abby, Bart, and Cletus to Father Victor’s audience chamber. Despite the high flown designation, the audience chamber was just another dreary, masonry-walled affair. Much like any other room in the cold, stone catacombs where Father Victor and his zealots took up residence save for that fact that it was much larger and was split in half by a round, black pool of still water. Even the copious torches lining room could reveal nothing beneath the surface. A wooden walkway extended the diameter, connecting the two sides of the room. Father Victor sat in a wooden chair that was set upon a raised dias. A line of white robed priests stood below him. More priests were lined along the walls.

Bart was the first to enter, leading the bound Hugh by the neck. Ray followed. His features looked sharp in the glaring torchlight. The reflected fire made his black, saucer-shaped eyes look as if they had flames roaring inside and his claws like burning embers. Even the staunchest Pollyanna would be hard pressed not to take him for a demon. The smirky scowl didn’t help. Abby followed next, making Ray’s scowl look like a delighted child. Cletus shuffled in behind.

Father Victor looked at them askance, then broke his silence, “Hey, that’s my dagger.”

“Where is my boy?” Bart growled. He kicked Hugh on the back of his legs, forcing him to his knees and poked the dagger toward Hugh’s eye.

“Your boy?”

“You heard me.”

“About that tall?” Victor held his hand out, “Brown hair, can’t get him to shut up?

Bart grunted and jostled Hugh.

“Yeah, we have one of those,” Victor snapped and a priest snapped into a jog out the side of the room.

The priest returned a moment later leading Pietro.

“See?” Victor said. “He’s fine. You can’t blame the glower on me, he came like that. You’ll notice he’s unbound and nobody is waving a sacred dagger in his eye. I treated yours better than you treated mine. That should account for something, I think. And yours stole from me. This is how I figure this could go,” Victor announced. “I’ll send my guy over to get the knife. As soon as it’s in his hand, the kid can walk over. Good?”

Bart nodded slowly and his eyes pierced through Victor.

“Great,” Victor smiled and leaned toward a priest. “Neil, get the dagger, would you?”

Neil crossed the walkway over the pool. Bart twirled the dagger around in his hand and offered it hilt first. Neil grabbed the dagger and held it up.

“Alright, kid,” Victor said to Pietro, gesturing with his chin toward Bart, “Off you go.”

Pietro approached the walkway across the pool and Neil did the same, holding the dagger before him.

“Bart, we can’t let them have the dagger,” Abby stepped behind Bart. “They’re going to flood London and everyone in it.”

“I would give up the City of London before I gave up my son,” Bart’s voice had the guttural growl of a lion trying to whisper.

“I’m not talking about giving up Pietro. I'm talking about getting the dagger back. Let’s see some circus razzle dazzle.”

“Pietro is ideally positioned, but not for long,” Ray added. “Bart, can you signal him? Get ready to run.”

Bart grunted with approval and formed a few subtle gesticulations. Neil saw Pietro nod back. He frowned and turn to look at Bart. Pietro nicked the dagger from Neil’s loose grip and raced toward Bart.

“Oh, c’mon! Really, kid?” Victor whined and hopped off the dais.

The priests closed the doors of the chamber and converged. A priest dove toward Pietro and Pietro slashed him across the belly. On the front of his white robe spread a crimson streak as he clutched his stomach, howled and teetered at the edge of the water.

“Don’t let him fall in the pool,” Victor’s bellow echoed around the sealed chamber becoming thunderous.

Several priests leapt toward the toppling body, colliding with one another and the bloodied cultist fell into the pool.

“No!” Victor shrieked. The agonized echo crescendoed into a deafening clamour then tapered away into a crystalline silence.

The pool began to glow a bioluminescent green and began to lap at the edges of its well, splashing on the floor.

“You little bastard,” Victor sputtered, “That was my right, my privilege, my destiny to raise the almighty Dagon from the deep. That is the last thing you’re going to steal from me, you cretinous thief. Get the goddam dagger back.”

As the priests descended, the water in pool began jostling hard against the sides. The green glow of the water was met with a dark rainbow of specks creating five elaborate, circular whirlpool patterns arranged around the circumference. In each whirlpool were strands of swirling points of light twisting in an endless pattern spiraling inward. Red, blue, yellow, purple, each color deep and heavy. Black tentacles sprouted spinning from the centers of each blacklight eddy, embedded in the same fairy lights. The slender limbs slapped against the ground with a flat, wet slap. Long, pulpy heads with myriad eyes pushed their way to the surface and pulled themselves out of the roiling water. Their bodies were a shapeless, slick, black mass, with little lights racing over the surface in ever evolving patterns. The priests cowered and fell to their knees and lowered their foreheads to the floor. Father Victor was stiff and staring.

“What are these things?” barked Ray.

“Emissaries of Dagon,” Victor’s voice cracked into a whisper as he spoke. “He’ll be here soon.”

The emissaries pumped water out of an appendage that emerged from the sides of their heads and extinguished the torchlight. The cavern was left dark save for the lights of the emissaries strobing in synchronised patterns, leaving stretches of darkness between each iteration. During the first stretch the sound of slapping, then a shriek cut short by a snap, a crunch, then slurping. When the light rose back up an emissary was lashing a palpus around the inside of a priest’s skull. Before the lights dimmed again, darting tentacles began grabbing greedy handfuls of priests. It was dark again and screaming broke out.

The room became aglow with fire and the emissaries paused mid meal. Flames blazed from Abby’s palms as she stepped near the emissaries. Cletus stood behind her poking his hand bows out from under each of her arms. The emissaries cowered and slithered backward.

“Now that my colleague has your attention,” Ray said, “As the on-hand representative of the Galactic Administration, Agent Raphael, it is my duty to inform you that you are in violation of statute 777 of the Galactic Standards and Legal Codes Charter of 2127; impersonating a deity on an undeveloped world. Please, identify your species and planet and/or dimension of origin.”

The emissaries starting doing what appeared to be looking at each other and shrugging.

“I’m afraid you may be out of your purview, here, Ray,” Cletus peeped from under Abby’s hair. “I don’t think they’re impersonating.”

“You’re saying Dagon is an actual deity?”

“I believe so, yes. The book was quite clear.”

“That’s right!” Victor yelled, “The kid took the book too!”

“You keep quiet,” Ray pointed at Victor, then turned to Cletus, “No. Get out. Multidimensional at most.”

“That still sounds pretty godlike to me,” Cletus replied.

Ray paused. “What happens now, Victor?”

“After they’ve feasted on the priests…” Victor started. The priests looked askance and grumbled angry murmurs. “Oh, sure, you all would have been just fine with that if I told you about it ahead of time. And it was all in the book. That book was sitting right there for months...” Victor took a deep breath and rolled his eyes back. “As I was saying, after they feasted on the priest’s brains, Dagon will rise and kill everyone in the room, then London. Except for that little prick,” he pointed at Pietro. “He’s the one who completed the ritual and he was holding the dagger when the emissaries arrived. He’s marked as the vessel of Dagon. So congratulations, you dumb ox, you saved your kid.”

“Well, I wouldn’t exactly say they’ve had a feast yet,” Ray said.

“Feast was poetic metaphor. They’ve each had one. It’s done.”

The emissaries slid to the edge of the pool and poured themselves in. The water began to pulse and the sickly, green glow grew brighter.

“Eh, mate,” Hugh barked to Victor. “You were gonna feed my brains to those cuttlefish?”

“Wouldn’t your precious cockles save you?” Victor sneered, “Um cuverd in cockuws, mite.”

“Eh, untie me, mate,” Hugh said to Bart and Bart cut him free. “I’m gonna shove some cockles clear up this geezer’s arse,” he said, taking long strides eyes fixed on Victor.

The priests gathered in a circle and chanted, “Fight, fight, fight,” as Hugh pummeled Victor.

“I can’t wait to get out of London,” Ray sighed.

“We can start by getting out of this room,” Abby said pulling the door open. “We should get back to the Inn and regroup.”

When they had gotten back to the Inn, the river had swollen and come inches from the doorstep. The surface of the water vibrated in geometric patterns and they could feel a rumbling underfoot.

“Have you ever seen anything like this before?” Abby asked Ray.

“Never,” Ray looked dazed and stared ahead.

“Any ideas?”

“No,” Ray continued to stare.

“Still with us?” Abby snapped her fingers.

Ray turned his head and held up his finger, “The air. It just changed. It was blowing off the river. Now it’s blowing toward it. And it’s getting faster.”

“The water’s moving back out,” Abby said walking toward the receding shore line.

“Would you look at that,” Cletus said with his mouth agape.

The water in the river was all being pulled toward a central point where it rose in the air, like a magician lifting a handkerchief. Under the water could be seen large disks of deep light, twisting in spiral patterns as they wound their way up the rising funnel.

“So the emissaries were like the trial size,” Ray said watching the funnel swelling, “Assuming it’s going to make a similar entrance, it should give us enough time to get some sort of plan together.”

“How much?” asked Abby..

“The emissaries took about one minute fifteen before they started eating. Adjusting for size. Maybe an hour.”

“Let’s get our stuff.”