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“We’ve been that way already.”
“I know, I just wanted to look again,” Silas said.
“We’re getting nowhere,” Lang said. “Five more minutes and we’re pulling out.”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” he said. “The way back is probably closed.”
The steps leading from the park had spiraled down endlessly, until Silas and the police reached a network of tunnels. Burrows, the detective called them, as they looked like holes made by giant worms. All the passages ended at empty rooms. One had a few bones in the corner. Silas assured everyone they were too old to be anyone they knew.
For the fifth time, he passed an opening in the tunnel wall. It wasn’t a passage, more of a shoot large enough for a person to fit through. He had ignored it because of its small circumference and the fact it was most certainly one way. Eventually, he stopped and shone his light into it. He thought he saw something at the bottom, something more than gray dirt. Returning the flashlight to his bag, he started to climb in.
“Whoa, what are you doing?” Lang asked.
“This is the only passage we haven’t checked,” Silas said.
“Where does it lead?”
“I dunno, but it’s better than standing around here with you.”
He dropped down the hole and was soon exploring the new room. It didn’t take long. Silas called up the shoot.
“You better come down here.”
“Just do it!”
The entire team gathered uncomfortably in the tight room, the roof only half a foot above their heads. In front of them, a dead man slumped across a table. Silas stood over him, using the butt of his Maglite to lift the head.
“Ugly son of a gun,” he said, nodding at the shriveled nose and half-melted eye balls. “Must’ve hurt.”
“Another one of those… husks?” Lang asked.
“This guy looks worse,” Silas. “Like a mummy. I’d say he’s a real undead. Or was.”
Officer Esposito gestured at it with his gun. “What happened to him?”
“The ol’ knife in the stomach trick,” Silas said, pointing at the weapon on the table. He inspected a cart of surgical tools. “Looks like he was in the middle of a procedure. Ugh.” He stepped away from a broken jar. A puddle of green liquid was working its way through the cracks in the floor. “Don’t step in that.”
“What is this place?” Lang asked.
Silas was busy sifting through clothes on a shelf cut into the wall.
“Operating room?” he said. “These clothes must have belonged to the kidnapped women.” He felt relieved when he couldn’t find Hannah’s clothes among the others.
“Is this our perp?” Esposito asked.
“I wish,” Silas said. “But if Daragon had died, this whole place would have collapsed.”
“Collapsed? With us in it?” Lang said.
“I told you not to follow me,” Silas said.
“No you didn’t.”
“Are there any signs of your partner, Ms. Rhodes?” Esposito asked.
“I don’t recognize these clothes,” Silas said. “But you can bet this is her handy work.” He proded the corpse with his flashlight.
“You think she did this?” Lang said.
“She’s a scrappy one,” he said. “And I’d fight like the devil to get away from this guy.”
One of the officers found the door leading from the room.
“Bar’s been pulled back. She probably went this way.”
Walking in single file–Silas and Lang in the lead–the team left the room. Lang kept a hand on Silas’s shoulder. She gripped him tight. He wondered if the cop was clutching him to rein him in, or because she was afraid. He heard her curse close to his ear, slapping her flashlight against a leg.
“Battery’s already dying” she said.
“No. It’s the darkness,” he said.
“What’s that suppose to mean?” Lang asked.
“Darkness isn’t the absence of light,” Silas said. “It’s an actual substance. You know how light travels in waves? It’s because darkness pushes back, forcing light to move around it. The real surprise is that we see anything at all.”
Silas stumbled back as candlelight appeared a few steps ahead of them. A great black wall made of faces blocked their path. The SWAT looked around them, but saw beyond the lampstands’ circles of light. Eventually, they turned to the stone faces staring at them. Silas could hear the officers back up.
“What am I looking at?” Lang asked. She was the only one beside Silas.
“Just a wall,” he said.
“That’s not just a wall,” she said. “That looks like a the gates of hell.”
“Theatrics,” Silas said.
“You don’t expect us to walk through that thing?” Esposito asked.
“Yes I do,” Silas said. “Can’t be the first scary door you’ve walked through, officer.”
“I didn’t sign up for this,” one of the cops said.
Silas faced Lang. Even she looked afraid. She took a breath and turned to her team.
“We didn’t come this far to quit. We’re going in.”
The SWAT team followed Silas through the gaping mouth. Their flashlights were as good as useless. Darkness crowded around them like bodies on the subway. Voices, just on the edge of hearing, were whispering to them. Silas held his breath, forcing his feet forward. The dirt floor changed to stone. Tiny orange lights popped into view all around them. The officers murmured.
“Hold tight everyone,” Silas said.
They were inside a mausoleum. Candles sat in crooks, dripped wax down black stands, and lined the floor. Somber gray angels stood guard behind nine tombs. Four were on one side, four on another, the final at the head of the room. The lids were shaped to resemble the men and women inside. Written across the far wall were the words, “Mors In Victoria.”
“Do you know what that says?” Lang asked Silas.
“Victory in Death,” Silas said.
The rest of them stayed back as he examined the first coffin. Its plaque read, “Christopher Morgane, 1911-1935. He Was Not Worthy.” The next was similar, “Amanda Crenshaw, 1899-1935. Her Crimes Will Live On.” He reached the one at the front. It read, “Laura Daragon, 1917-1935. Hers is Perdition.” Silas ran a hand over the coffin.
“We meet again, Laura.” He looked back at the cops. “This was his wife. Only eighteen when he killed her.”
“Are they gonna pop out those?” Lang asked.
Silas shook his head. “No. These are his trophies.”
Putting his Maglite away, Silas picked up a candle. The wax was warm and thick; it took both hands to hold it. He walked over to archway at the end of the room and stuck his head out. He examined the ground. There were flower petals, dirt, and snatches of grass.
“We might be heading outside,” he said, looking back at the SWAT team.
Lang nodded and they crossed the room toward him.
“Take a candle,” he said.
“Our flashlights are just fine,” she said.
“They haven’t worked up until now,” he said.
“Doubt a candle will do any better.”
Silas left the room first and descended a hill. His feet slipped against loose gravel and slid halfway down. He only stopped when he forced himself to fall backwards. Happy he didn’t drop the candle, he set it down and stood up. Still slipping on stones, he called to the cops.
“Look out, that first step’s a doozy.”
There was no response.
“Lang. Where are ya?”
He picked up the candle. There was nothing but darkness up the hill. Silas was sure they had been behind him when he left the room. But there was no sign of Lang or the SWAT. He tried to climb back up to find them, but the gravel refused to cooperate. Loosing his balance, he careened down the hill. He slid to the bottom, the candle flying from his hands.
Silas got up and started walking. There were trees. But not real trees. Someone had tried very had to make them look real. Dark trunks rose up infinitely into the sky, no tops in sight. A moon hung quietly in the sky. It looked flat, like a prop. In the distance he saw a line of mountains. The image struck him like the backdrop of a stage play. He arrived at a clearing and a familiar house. It was black with a silver roof that sparkled in the fake moonlight.
Crow’s Peak reborn.
The front door swung open. Golden light spilled out. Silas took the bait and entered. It wasn’t until door closed behind him that he heard Beethoven’s Piano Concerto Number 5. Silas followed it through the house into the study. The room was larger than the one he had investigated, and painfully bright. It was elegantly decorated, with couches, a silver serving station, and Persia rugs. On the wall was an enormous mirror.
Sitting behind a piano in a corner was a lean, handsome man. His eyes were closed as he played. As the concerto reached its zenith, he stopped. He smiled at the detective. His eyes were emeralds.
“Hello Silas.” His voice was rich and lilting. “My name is Alexander Daragon. I’m so happy to finally meet you.”
Alexander slid out from behind the piano. Silas quickly appraised him. Every detail was perfect. He had soft, chestnut hair, complete with spit curl. He wore a checkered vest over white shirt and bow tie. His smile was disarming. As he passed in front of the mirror, Silas noticed there was no reflection. He realized nothing in the room was being reflected. He filed that away.
Alexander stood in front of him and offered Silas his hand. He didn’t take it.
“Where’s Hannah?” he asked.
“What, no witty rejoinder?” Alexander said. “I was hoping for some of that trademark wit.”
“You’re a fop. Where’s Hannah?”
Alexander smiled again. He still held out his hand
“Don’t be rude, Mr. Black,” he said. “You’ve come a long way to find me. Might as well be cordial.”
“You don’t know me,” Silas said. “I’m never cordial.”
“That’s where you’re wrong. I know you very well.” Alexander crossed the room to the serving station and poured himself a drink. “Ever since you started this case, I’ve been watching you. You’re a fascinating specimen. Intelligent. Clever. Always with a smart remark. I was dying to see what you’d do next.”
“I’m no lab rat,” Silas said. “I don’t appreciate being studied.”
“Hmph,” Alexander said. “Ironic, isn’t it? The man who wants to know the secrets of the universe distains being studied? How unacademic. What would your father say?”
“You don’t know my father,” Silas said.
“I told you, I’ve been watching you,” Alexander said. “I’ve learned quite a bit.”
“Not possible. I protect myself from pervs like you.”
“Oh, but you left one critical keyhole open,” Alexandar said. “Hannah. I’ve watched you through her eyes, listened with her ears. You didn’t really think that necklace would stop me? I’ve been with you from the very start, Silas.”
“This doesn’t go any further until you tell me where she is,” Silas said.
“Oh relax, she’s right over here.”
Alexander sauntered to a chair and turned it to face him. Hannah was curled up, unconscious. Silas ran over to her.
“Hannah? Hannah, can you hear me?”
“Please,” Alexander said. “Don’t pretend to care about her, now.”
“What did you do to her?”
“Nothing. She’s asleep. Shock has finally caught up with her. She’s strong, I’ll give her that. Perhaps I was wrong not to choose her.”
“This looks worse than sleep,” Silas said.
“You should be happy I let her sleep.” An edge came into his voice, for just a moment. “Do you know what she did to my surgeon? Revenants with medical experience aren’t easy to find, Silas. But come on, your pet is in one piece. Let’s talk.”
He offered Silas a glass of something.
“I don’t drink,” he said.
Alexander smiled. “It’s not alcohol. It can be whatever you want it to be. You are no longer bound by your tiny world, Mr. Black. This is a domain of the mind. My mind. I will it, and it happens.”
Silas took the glass but didn’t drink.
“Do you know what I do to creatures like you?” Silas said. “Suffice it to say, they end up a pile of goo on the floor.”
“You’ve never met anything like me.”
“That might be true, but this only ends one way,” the detective said.
“So, you’re going to kill me, that’s all?” Alexander asked. “You’re given a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and you throw it away?”
Alexander’s eyes grew wide. He waved a hand across the room. “Look where you are, Silas. Think about everything you know about me. Aren’t you the least bit curious at how this is all possible?”
“Don’t lie, Mr. Black. It’s unflattering. You were only interested in helping Hannah because of what you could learn from her condition. The condition I caused. It was a golden opportunity. Hands-on experience with the supernatural. Now, you’re at the source.”
“I learned from the error of my ways,” Silas said. “Hannah’s a friend, not a test subject.”
Alexander looked at him sideways. “Sure, she is.”
“Why would you want to tell me anything?” he asked. “I’m you’re enemy.”
“Oh, give it a rest,” Alexander said. “You will only die if you try to stop me. So, might as well make the obvious choice.”
“And what is that?” Silas asked.
“Ask me,” the man said. “Ask me anything you want to know.”
“Alright. For starters, where are we?”
“I’d hoped you would recognize it,” Alexander said. “You’ve been here before. Although, in your time, my beloved Crow’s Peak has lost its splendor. I did my best to restore it.”
“Where are we really?” Silas asked.
“You already know, my boy,” Alexander said. “This is a pocket dimension, if you will, outside the limits of time and space.”
“And how did a crude magician like you manage that?” Silas said. “Last the world heard of you, you were being gunned down by the National Guard.”
“You can be quite rude when you want to be, can you?”
“Call it a defense mechanism.”
A tinge of anger colored Alexander’s face. “You are wasting your time with jokes.”
“No, I’m not.”
“From this sanctuary, I will unravel the fabric of reality.”
“Is that why you’re kidnapping women?” Silas asked.
“They are a part of my grand design,” Alexander said.
Alexander’s face grew drawn. “Medicine isn’t always pleasant, Silas. But it’s always for our benefit.”
“What kind of medicine did you give to Emily Lisbon?” Silas said. “Cuz trust me, she could’ve done without it.”
“What happened to Emily was unfortunate,” Alexander said. “I truly wanted to help her. But, as in all great undertakings, there must be sacrifices.”
He ambled across the study and stared into the fireplace.
“I know what you must think of me, Silas. But I’m no monster. Everything I do, I do for a reason.”
Setting his drink down, Alexander looked over at Silas. His eyes were wet with sorrow. Shoulders slumped with the burden he carried. He let out a sigh as he rubbed his hands together. All in all, Silas thought it was an excellent performance.
“Do you want to hear my story, Silas?” he asked.
“It doesn’t look like I’m going anywhere.”
Alexander drained his glass and sat by the fire. He motioned to a chair nearby. Silas groaned, but walked over and sat down.
“It begins when I was a child,” Alexander said. “I was a runt and had a hard time making friends. So, as you can imagine, I spent much of my time with my nose in a book. Through them, I could escape my troubled little world and visit King Arthur’s court or the sands of Arabia.”
“You were a bookworm,” Silas said. “Big deal. Many have gone through worse.”
“You don’t understand what it was like growing up in my time,” Alexander said. “Society praised strength, virility. A sensitive child who loved books was little more than an outcast. In time, my desire for another world grew stronger. It wasn’t long before I discovered men of like mind. Crowley, Rasputin, Flamel, they became my mentors. I made it my life’s work to surpass them.”
“They say you should choose your role models carefully, Alex,” Silas said. “But I guess that’s a moot point, by now.”
“I learned a great deal. By the time I reached manhood, I had power. Real power. But society had no place for me. So, I formed my own. I drew others to me. My disciples. Together, we founded Dawn’s Ridge.”
Alexander got up from his chair and ran to a bookshelf. He retrieved a roll of paper and spread it out on the table in front of Silas. It was a map. Streets, buildings, and a town hall were sketched out in a hollow beside a mountain. In the corner was written, “Dawn’s Ridge, Est. 1930.”
“Beautiful, isn’t she?” the dead man said. “It was a beacon of hope in an ignorant age. Many flocked here to escape the Great Depression. I believed our town would become a template for the new world to come.”
“Didn’t turn out that way,” Silas said.
“The people that came refused to accept our ways. They poisoned my disciples. Even my closest allies lost faith. When I confronted them, they reported me to the government. Claimed I was starting a rebellion. What was I supposed to do but retaliate?”
“You justify what you did to those people?”
Alexander stood over him, his face black with rage. He took a breath and tried to compose himself.
“You do not understand. My legacy was crumbling. What would my mentors think? My only recourse was to punish the backsliders. And that is what I did, even in my own house. But that didn’t stop them. Soldiers took the town and killed me.”
He returned to his chair and sat down.
“Would you like to know what they did next?” he said. “They left me to rot in the mountains. But not the townspeople, oh no. They were buried with honor in the valley. They even renamed the town to ‘Barrow Hill’ after them, to completely scrub away my influence.”
“I wondered why the massacre had been covered up,” Silas said. “The government wasn’t trying to cover its tracks. They were erasing you.”
Alexander ignored him. Holding up his empty glass, he stared at the refracting light.
“Death is an enigma, Silas. It’s not at all like you imagine.”
“I don’t imagine,” the detective said.
“There are no pearly gates waiting for you. Just… darkness. A part of me was still on the mountain, rotting into the soil. The other was spreading out across the void. All my knowledge, my memories, were slipping into nothingness.”
“But you ended up here,” Silas said. “Ninety years later. How?”
“The story isn’t over, Mr. Black,” Alexander said. “As my essence was fading away, he found me. As a reward for my devotion to the ancient ways, he granted me a new life. He returned me to my body and gave me powers I once could only dream of.”
“Are you saying Ozryel brought you back?”
“Do you not believe in him?” Alexander asked.
“No,” Silas said.
The man spread out his hands. “I am living proof that he exists.”
Silas bobbed his head back and forth. “Living’s a bit of a stretch.”
“You’re missing the clues, detective,” Alexander said. “There was knowledge I could not discover on my own. Secrets of the Hyperboreans, the Atlanteans, the ancient peoples who ruled in the beginning. Once they governed kingdoms beyond description. Technology we’ll never know. It drew the gods to this tiny world. Some the people worshiped, others they feared.”
“What does this have to do with you?” Silas said.
“Ozryel was the Prince of the Dead,” Alexander said. “He welcomed mankind into the afterlife. Wise men served him but the foolish feared him. He was overthrown and his kingdom decimated. That’s why there’s nothing for us when we die; we destroyed it. For his troubles, Ozryel was imprisoned.”
He leaned forward and stared at Silas, a wild fire in his eyes. “Ozryel waits in the endless dark. He found me, gave me this sanctuary. I’ve been chosen to restore his kingdom.”
“Why have you been kidnapping people?” Silas asked.
“Ozryel’s prison is too perfect,” he said. “He cannot leave it bodily. But together we found a way to give him a new body, one that will dwell in this world. He just needs a vessel.”
It came at Silas all at once. The clues finally fit into place. The kidnappings. Emily’s mutations. Even the poison he found in the caves. It made him sick. “You need a womb.”
Alexander smiled. “I disseminated fetishes throughout the city, to mark potential mothers. The magic granted me access to their minds–the psychic link–so I could prepare them for their eventual departure.”
“I was right. You were wearing them down, emotionally and mentally,” Silas said.
“Breaking their resistance,” Alexander said. “Removing anything that would impede Ozryel’s incubation. He must inhabit their minds as well as their bodies.”
“That poison I found in your operating room…”
“Held the seeds of Ozryel,” he said. “Should the perfect vessel be found, he would take root and form a new body within. In time, he would burst forth, a new creation for a new age.”
“Of course, you haven’t found the perfect vessel yet,” the detective said. “Have you?”
“I had high hopes for Hannah,” Alexander said. “But she has proven herself unsuitable.”
“I’m sure she’s just broken up about that.”
“Don’t you see this is for the greater good? Image what we could learn from a being like Ozryel. We would master life and death, time and space. The universe would be our open book.”
“You’ve really drunken the Kool-Aid, Alex,” Silas said. “There is no kingdom to conquer. Ozryel lied to you.”
“You are a stubborn man, Mr. Black,” Alexander said. “How could you refuse such an opportunity?”
“Whatever Ozryel is, it’s not a god,” he said. “It doesn’t have the power you think. Death is inevitable, even for you. If you bring that parasite into this world, it’ll just mean the end of it.”
“He will come back. You’ll see.” Alexander’s face contorted. He stood up and paced the room, keeping his back to the detective.
“As I see it, you have two choices. Try to stop me and die. Or join me.”
“Join you? You’re crazier than I thought, Daragon.”
“I have all the answers you seek,” Alexander said. “I know things you will never learn in books. What’s more, we can learn from the master together. It’s everything you ever dreamed of.”
“Why would you offer me all that?” Silas asked. “Do you really think I’d accept?”
“Yes. I see it all over you,” Alexander said. “You’re searching for a book that cannot be read. For secrets that are just out of reach. You can be the end of my kind, or revive us. We all can see it, Blackghoul.”
“Don’t call me that,” Silas said.
“I can answer the questions that have been haunting you for years,” Alexander said. “The truth about your father. Your family legacy. Even why you mother died. Just join me.”
Silas was angry. It wasn’t the first offer of its kind he’d heard. For just a moment, he considered it. Every question answered. How much was that worth? He looked up at Alexander. He was smiling. That did it.
“Daragon, I would rather die than let you help me.”
The smiled fell from Alexander’s face.
“Well, then. I guess that about wraps it up.”
Crow’s Peak erupted. The white-washed walls splintered as the study broke collapsed. Lamps toppled over. The piano rattled off a sequence of incoherent notes before crumbling. A serving cart dumped its liquor to the floor. Hannah’s chair evaporated and the woman fell to the ground. Silas caught her.
“What’s going on?” she said, her eyes slowly opening.
Silas looked around. “I have no idea.”
Alexander was laughing. His eyes bulged out of his head; his body spasmed. His elegant clothes turned to rags. Skin peeled away, exposing dried muscle and bone. Eyes like rotted grapes rolled inside black sockets. Smoke ringed his feet as he floated in the air. Daragon pointed a rotted finger at them. His voice sounded like scraping chains.
“How do you like my sanctuary, now?”
They huddled in the middle of a dark cathedral. Onyx pillars towered over them. The floor was dark and shone like glass. Stairs rose from the center of the room to a plinth. Daragon floated over and stood on it. Behind him was an open coffin, its lid propped up like the back of a throne. Haning behind it was a curtain of shadow.
“Hard to say,” Silas said, “I think I preferred the house.”
Daragon swooped down, wrapping them in smoke.
“The time for talk is over, Blackghoul. You’ve spurned my offer. Now you and your pupil will suffer.”
He sent them sprawling across the hard floor. Silas bounced a few times before coming to rest against the wall. He crawled over to Hannah.
“What do we do?” she asked.
“Remember what I said about fire?” he said.
“Worth a try.”
Daragon’s voice echoed through the tomb. “Comfort yourselves while you can. Soon you will be begging for death.” He raised a hand. “Allow me to introduce to you the women you couldn’t save.”
A murmur floated through the chamber. It was soft, like the sound of someone waking. Quickly it became a chorus of wails. Shadows detached from the walls. Misshapen figures in tattered gowns limped, crawled, and scurried toward them.
“No,” Hannah said under her breath.
“These were not strong enough to receive Ozryel’s gift,” the lich said. “Pitiful creatures. Aren’t they lovely?”
Hannah screamed as the first woman reached her. Gray hands grabbed her arms. The woman’s face was bloated and green. Black eyes blinked like blind fish. Silas and Hannah tried to break free, but the corpse brides held fast. They dragged the two of them up the stairs to the plinth.
“Is this what you’re going to do to us?” Hannah asked, nodding at the women.
“You will not be so fortunate,” Daragon said.
He motioned and the maidens followed. They walked behind his throne to reach back of the platform. The shadows folded back. An enormous mirror hung in the air. Nothing was reflected in the glass, save a murky fog. Bowing his head in reverence, Daragon reached out to it.
“Come Ozryel, Angel of Death!”
The fog parted. Something appeared in the distance, large but far away. It moved quickly, filling the frame. At first, Silas thought he saw spiny, featherless wings. They moved and he realized they were myriad legs extending from a massive bulk. A cluster of eyes flared red. Across the crablike thing’s back was a white stain that resembled a human skull. A pincer reached out and tapped the glass. The sound rung through the tomb like thunder.
Daragon shouted in rapture.
“Reach out my lord and punish the unbelievers. Make them pay for their–“
Thunder filled the chamber. It was coming from the other direction. There was a set of doors at the front of the tomb. Someone was banging against them. The bolt split as the SWAT team stormed the room, hauling a tree trunk as a battering ram. Dropping it, they moved into strike positions along the walls.
“Good a moment as any.”
From within his coat, Silas pulled out the flare gun and shot Daragon. The lich erupted into a ball of fire. The maidens shrieked at the blinding light, fleeing into the shadows. Silas grabbed Hannah’s hand and ran down the steps. Before he could reach the bottom, he felt himself rise. He let go of Hannah’s hand as he spun around.
“You dare defy me?”
Daragon floated over him. The fire had burned what was left of his flesh, leaving a charred skeleton. Black tendrils wrapped around the detective, suspending him in the air.
“You will be the first to die.”
The lich’s head snapped back as a bullet ricocheted off it. Silas heard Lang shout as more rounds hit Daragon. He roared and lunged for the officers, releasing Silas. The detective dropped to the ground, landing painfully on his arm.
The lich’s cry stirred up the corpse brides. They emerged from the darkness to assist their master. Lang’s voice rose above the chaos as she belted commands to her team. Silas rolled over and cradled his arm. Shock was keeping it numb, for the moment. Hannah ran to him and tried to pick him up. The pain came screaming.
“Thank you, I’ll just stay right here,” he said.
“What do we do?” she asked.
Silas was breathing heavy. He spoke through clenched teeth.
“We need to destroy Daragon’s phylactery,” he said. “It’s the thing that’s keeping him alive.”
“But what is it?
“The mirror. It’s his connection to Ozryel,” Silas said. “Ozryel gave him his power. We destroy the mirror, we destroy everything else.”
“How are we supposed to do that?” Hannah asked.
“Daragon has to touch it,” Silas said. “The power going from Ozryel into Daragon and back into the mirror will overload, like feedback from a speaker.”
Hannah looked up. Daragon was swooping across the tomb, descending on SWAT.
“That’s not an option.” A few feet away, Silas’s satchel lay, spilled open. Lying beside a few trampled books was the fetish.
“How about the that?” she said, nodding to the doll.
“Close enough,” Silas said.
“I’ll get it for you.”
Silas shook his head. “You gotta do it.”
“I can’t move,” he said. “You need to do it fast, while he’s distracted.”
“What if I screw it up?” she asked.
“Look around you, kid. Things can’t get much worse.”
“Hannah.” He gripped her arm. “I know you can do it.”
She stayed low and ran. Scooping up the fetish, she climbed the steps. Silas moaned as he propped himself up on his good arm. The woman shrank as she reached the top of the plinth. Hannah held the out the fetish in front of her with both hands. A roar echoed overhead. Silas turned to see Daragon flying toward her.
Crawling pitifully slow, Silas grabbed at his bag. Flares spilled out. He made a vain attempt at loading the gun with one hand. Looking back at the plinth, he saw Daragon closing in. Hannah threw the doll as black mist wrapped around her. The fetish flew from her hands and hit the glass, sending a soft thud across the tomb.
Silence fell. The mirror rippled like water. It exploded. Wind rushed through the tomb. The corpse brides dropped, lifeless. Daragon was knocked out of the air. He cried in agony as his body crumbled. His arms shriveled and rolled up. His legs cracked and were sucked into his torso. His head snapped back, the skull compressed at the sides. It looked as if he was being pulled through an invisible hole. With one final croak, he was gone.
The tomb quickly began to follow. It shuddered as the floor crack in two. Rocks and dirt rained down on the surviving SWAT officers. Silas forced himself to stand. Lang shouted at him. He ignored her and ran up the stairs. He searched for Hannah. She was nowhere. The detective stood beneath the empty mirror, calling her name. The plinth slid sideways and he fell into darkness.