He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Wizard
The ground rumbled low as a twisting water funnel rose and grew from the Thames. A multitude of tentacles began poking out of the mouth of the strobing tornado and probing their surroundings, looking for a foothold.
“Maybe if we can keep it from getting out in the first place?” Abby offered.
“Worth a try,” Ray said as he flitted on air currents toward the funnel. He began pulling the air around him into a whirlwind which spun in the opposite direction of Dagon’s waterspout. He led his typhoon into the funnel and merged with it. The waterspout slowed and began to fall back toward the water as the tentacles retracted.
“Good thinking, Abigayle,” Cletus cheered. He looked around at the gathered crowd, smiling. “My granddaughter.”
Abby looked on with concern as the waterspout collapsed into the river. The choppy surface became calm and Ray had yet to emerge.
“How long can he hold his breath?” Bart asked Abby.
Abby shook her head. Pietro scaled the side of the tavern and squinted into the water. Under the surface writhed a frenetic light show of deep colors in rapid, evolving geometric patterns. Ray breached the surface at furious speed and arced through the air. He was followed by a mass of flailing tentacles attached to a snapping maw and vast legion of wild, swiveling eyes. The rest of the pulpy, bulbous form of Dagan sloshed from river and slammed to the ground, crushing several blocks of buildings and houses.
Abby, Cletus, and Bart fled from the miniature tsunami that Dagon’s impact had aroused. Bart grabbed Cletus and Abby, pulled them close and huddled over them as the wave broke onto them.
“”Pietro?” Bart’s frantic shouts were drowned out by the din of the Dagon’s chaos. Dagon was shoveling tentacles full of squirming bodies into his dripping, convulsing gullet. Dagon broke open structures like nuts and consumed the wailing meat within.
“Bart,” Abby pointed to Pietro clinging to the back of Dagon, jabbing him with the dagger.
“That’s my boy,” Bart applauded.
“Call him down from there, Bart,” Cletus said. “He’s accomplishing nothing. Striking Dagon with his own dagger just cancels itself out. Whatever power is drawn from Dagon is returned to Dagon. Zero net change.”
“Eh, Corvo,” Bart bellowed through his cupped hands and gave Pietro a few, detailed gestures.
Pietro skated down one of Dagon’s slick limbs. They curled to grab him, but provided him with a ski jump. He shot into the air and Bart ran to get under him. Bart put his hand in front, open, palms up and pressed together. Pietro landed with one foot into Bart’s palms, bounced into a flip and landed on his feet.
“Circus life,” Bart said thumping his chest.
Ray sailed in and tumbled to a landing, skidding in the ankle deep water.
“He’s big,” Ray said on his back, panting. “Real big.”
Bart helped Ray his feet. Ray stood hunched with his talons clutching his knees, puffing.
“This isn’t a one agent job.” Ray wheezed and cracked his back. “This is a call-in-the-cavalry sort of affair. A cavalry I thought would have found me by now.”
“Fighting is futile,” Cletus said. “Dagon can’t be fought, only banished. We’d have to get him into stay in a circle and the ritual requires us all to be coordinated. Even if we could get him to sit still long enough, he’s far too big. We wouldn’t be able to see, or even hear each other well enough to coordinate. I don’t see how we can do it with just the five of us.”
“If there’s no hard feelings from earlier, mate,” came a voice from behind, “I’d like to help out, if I could.”
“Hugh?” Abby said.
“Yeah, seems I’ve had a bit of a change of heart. Victor was a wanker and if he wanted Dagon here, than Dagon’s probably a wanker too.”
“We could use all the hands we can get.” Ray nodded.
“You need to keep that thing still?” Hugh started. “I think I can handle that.”
“And how do you propose to do that?” Cletus scoffed.
“Wait,” Abby blurted, “I know this one. He’s covered in cockles.”
Hugh opened his arms and grinned.
“Assuming that amounts to something,” Cletus sighed, “We won’t be able to get the ritual together. All the participants need to be synchronised. Without any line of communication, I don’t see how that’s possible.”
“Here,” Ray pulled three small, curly devices from his kit bag. “I grabbed these from the cache. Most of the stuff was junk, but these still work,” he placed one in his ear and one in Abby’s and Cletus’s each, “These will allow us to communicate no matter how far away we are.”
“It looks as though we might just have a chance,” Cletus said. “Let’s begin.”
“Pietro and I will go with Hugh,” Bart said.
“The idea is to keep him in place,” Ray said to them. “If he starts to move, turn him in place. If you get in his face and agitate him, he’ll fixate on you. Use that to take the heat off each other.”
“The ritual mostly involves repeating what I say,” Cletus explained. “The exception is when the phrase ends with ‘exilium’ we all stab our air daggers toward the center of the circle.”
“Sounds easy enough,” Ray said.
“Wait till you hear how long some of these passages are.”
Yaldabaoth stood on the bridge of the ship staring out the window at Earth circa 2016.
“What do you mean you are leaving?” Vijeda snarled. “We just got here.”
“Just for a little bit,” Yalda said. “It’s time travel, I’ll return the same time I came. Why do you care?”
A short man in a long white coat shuffled up to Yalda, “We only had enough resources to engineer two personal units, sir.”
“That’s all I need.” Yalda fiddled with the devices the man gave him. “How many trips?”
“Depends on how far you go. In space and time.”
“Six hundred years and somewhere over there,” Yalda said waving his hand at the Earth. “And back again.”
“Maybe three,” the man replied. “Definitely two.”
The man shuffled off.
“I don’t understand this plan,” Vijeda barked.
“Do you know what happens if you interact with a version of yourself from another time? It’s bad. The kind of bad you save for someone very special.” Yalda activated the device and disappeared in bright flash.
Hugh, Bart and Pietro stood in front of Dagon shouting obscenities into an orifice they assumed was an ear. Dagon turned an eye to look at them and Hugh stuck it. The serrated edges of his shelled knuckles sliced thin strips from the eyeball and it vomited out a viscous sludge. Dagon wailed and turned its gaping craw toward them. He grabbed Hugh with a tentacle, jammed him in his mouth and bit down.
“Ha, you dumb bastard,” Hugh cracked in glee. “I’m covered in cockles.”
Dagon gnawed on Hugh as he punched at his fangs. Dagon spit him out and he tumbled several blocks away. Bart grabbed a fish from an overturned market cart, bit the head off, spit it out and glared hard at Dagon. Dagon shrieked and began slapping the ground as Bart rolled to avoid the blows. Pietro pulled his trusty non-fishman dagger and sliced one of Dagon’s tentacle cups off, flinging it into one of Dagon’s eyes. Dagon lurched toward him. Pietro dove to the side and Dagon turned to him.
Several blocks away, Cletus, Abby, and Ray arranged themselves around Dagon and Cletus began ranting in Latin. Ray and Abby repeated his diatribes back to him and thrust their daggers at the mention of ‘exilium’. The wind kicked up and Dagon’s previous light show resumed.
From his vantage point, Cletus could see Hugh, Bart, and Pietro bouncing around, taking turns bullying Dagon. He noticed several of Dagon’s eyes had locked on to him. He maintained his focus on the ritual, even as Dagon began to slosh toward him.
“He’s fixated on the old geezer,” Hugh yelled.
“Don’t let him move from the circle,” Bart shouted.
“I don’t think we have much say in the matter, mate.”
Pietro tugged at Bart and signed to him.
“He’s a clever one,” Hugh said. “What’s he got?”
“He wanted to move the circle with Dagon,” Bart replied.
“I thought they couldn’t be disturbed. It would bollocks the whole thing.”
Pietro signed again.
“We move the circle,” Bart said.
Bart and Pietro ran out to Cletus.
“Stay focused on the ritual,” Bart said. “Pietro is going to carry you.”
Pietro crawled under Cletus, stood up and was just tall enough to lift Cletus’s feet off the ground.
Bart ran to Abby, “Don’t lose focus, Abby. I’m going to pick you up.” He lifted her and sat her on his shoulder.
“Don’t mind me, mate,” Hugh said to Ray, wrapping his arms around him. “Just gotta move some things.”
As Dagon rolled and flopped, Bart, Hugh and Pietro raced to hold their relative position to Dagon. The game of catastrophic ring-around-the-rosy zigged and zagged over the flooded, rubble-strewn remains of city blocks as the ritual carried on. Cletus declared one final ‘exilium’. Daggers were thrust and the air began to crack and smell of storms. Dagon convulsed, wracked with a popping, stinging energy. Hugh, Bart and Pietro fled, still laden with precious cargo. The water began to sting their feet and their legs began to tighten. They finally collapsed, dumping their charges on the wooden floor of the surviving half of the tavern.
“Did we do it right?” Abby asked, watching Dagon shiver and shake.
“I don’t think that’s magic,” Ray said. “It looks like a…”
“Yup,” a voice chirped behind them, “A tazer array, Ray Ray. Ray.”
Ray spun around and saw a grinning Seraph with wild hair, holding his hands behind his back.
“Yaldabaoth,” Ray growled.
“The Demiurge,” Cletus gasped.
“Right,” Yalda grinned. “Wensleydale gets it.”
“What do you want?” Abby stepped toward Yalda.
“Back off, Rosenkreutz. The only reason I won’t kill you is because I have a much bigger hard on for a number of your descendants.”
“Why are you here, Yalda?” Ray grabbed him by the collar.
“You’re so young and vital, Ray,” Yalda pulled a pistol, “But I need you to shut up and listen. I’m here to make you an offer. To extend an invitation.”
“You’ve had so many chances to put me down, but I always walked away breathing. I want you to see the wondrous things that I’ve built on the foundation of your mercy.”
“What are talking about, you madman?”
“Take this,” Yalda handed Ray one of the time travel devices. “Activate that and it will take you right where you want to be.”
“And where’s that?”
“I know why you’re rolling around in muddy water with a bunch of losers getting your ass kicked by whatever that thing is. Heading to Avignon because you think my puppet will lead you to me. Well, here I am, giving you the express line right to me.”
“Why do that when I can take care of you, right now?”
“I’ll be gone before you can even make one of those wind blades. Think about it. You have plenty of time.”
Yalda threw a small orb at Dagon. Dagon began crumpling and puckering until disappearing into a singularity.
“What was that?” Bart gulped.
“Deus ex machina,” Yalda said. “You're welcome. Think about it, Ray Ray.”
Ray stood regarding the time device.
“Are you going to do it?” Abby asked.
“What? No,” Ray snorted. “I’m not going to do exactly what he wants me to do. Even if I did- Benedict and Martell are still a problem. We stay the course. Which means, Bart. Your boat.”
“Oh,” Bart said scanning what was left of the wharf, “I, uh, see it.”
They traversed the collapsing dock and boarded the boat. Ray and Bart set the rigging and sails. Pietro untied and weighed anchor. As the boat began to creak away a man ran along the dock, waving at them.
“That’s my ship,” the man yelled. “They’re stealing my ship!”
“This is your ship?” Ray looked at Bart.
“It’s my ship,” Bart protested, “Now.”
“Normally, I wouldn’t condone this,” Ray sighed. “But given the circumstances...”
“Good,” Bart cheered. “You’re growing.”
“Do you think he’ll come?” Vijeda asked.
“Of course he will,” Yalda gazed at the Earth. “Now let’s go kill all the birds with one stone.”