Tuesday, October 1, 2013

GZ Legends 68: Charon's Fate

         
  Souls of the condemned wrapped their ghostly arms around Nyhtwulf, dragging him deeper and deeper toward the bottom of the River Styx. As they dragged him down and down, the rage of the shadowy hero mounted. He bared his fangs, tensed his muscles and strained against the overwhelming forces of the river. No one caught in the river’s grasp had ever surfaced again.

            Charon glared down at the swirling waters with pleasure and pride. Finally, after all these years, he found the revenge he desired. There hadn’t been a waking moment in all the time Nyhtwulf ever served the Four Horsemen that Charon hadn’t wanted to destroy the Twilie Demon. Finally, he could gloat with abandon. Every time he would cross the Styx, he would cross over Nyhtwulf’s imprisoned soul. Nothing could make Charon happier at that moment.

            The smoking hole through his middle chest region was a confusing surprise to the Ferryman. With the inability to actually feel anything, he didn’t notice it right away. Worse yet, such a thing was supposed to be impossible. Charon long stood the eons as an indestructible force on the river. Nothing had ever been able to harm him before. Slowly, he turned to the source of the blast that tore through his back.

            Blacktide stood, seething with rage. His clenched fists smoked with a new power and the chains were in pieces at his feet. Charon reacted without any further hesitation.  He swung out with his pole and hit Blacktide across the forehead, breaking a hole in the man’s sunglasses. Blacktide’s head turned with the blow and slowly he turned his head back, glaring at Charon. As the Ferryman took another swing, Blacktide ducked under it and came up with another disintegration blast that tore apart Charon’s left arm.

            Charon responded with a roar that sent a wide ball of flames toward Blacktide. Charon’s glaring eyes, shot flames out 8 feet in either direction. Blacktide rolled across the deck of the boat and came up with a wave of distortional power and ripped at the boatman from all angles.

            “Your bones will decorate my boat!” Charon howled.

            “I said I wanted to kick your head and I’m going to!” Blacktide shouted back.

           
At the bottom of the river, another surging battle raged. The lost souls gripped Nyhtwulf and gathered on him like moths to a flame. Nyhtwulf tensed and reached deep within himself to the heart of his own supernatural might. As he thrust his wings out, forcing the souls away from him, jets of water flew at the surface. The boat shook, momentarily jarring the footing of both on board as Nyhtwulf’s body exploded from the River and into the air. Nyhtwulf roared in a mixture of triumph and rage.

            “NO!” Charon’s embattled form turned in shock, just in time for Blacktide to unleash a new attack. This burst of power erased parts of the boat’s railing and left the deck smoking. In the midst of the smoky cloud, Charon’s long pole fell away into the water with a splash. A hollow thud could be heard as Charon’s disembodied skull hit the deck and bounced. It spun, almost in slow motion. As it spun the glowing sockets seemed to show Charon’s absolute disbelief. The skull bounced twice more on the wooden deck before being grasped by human fingers from a shredded glove.

            Blacktide brought the skull of Charon up to head level so he could look directly into its blazing eyes. At the same time, the human hero put his broken sunglasses back on, one eye still viewable through the cracks. Nyhtwulf landed, glad to see his partner alive.

            “What will you do?” Nyhtwulf asked.

            “Pathetic human! You will pay for this!” Charon shouted.

            Blacktide glared at the skull and slowly shook his head. “Nah. I don’t think so. But I promised you this.”

           
With a step in preparation, Blacktide’s boot met with Charon’s skull like a professional football kicker. Charon screamed as his head sped across the river toward the palace of the Four Horsemen. As it flew, the air around it swirled in new shadows and a great skeletal hand wrapped around the flying skull, stopping its flight. Hovering over the river was Death himself. As the entity floated towards them, Blacktide felt a catch in his throat. He had no idea what to expect. Nyhtwulf dropped to his knees.

            Without a word to either of them, Death gestured with his open hand and the body of Charon reassembled on the boat. The long pole returned the Ferryman’s hands. Only the head remained unattached.

            “Rise, former servant.” Death commanded before turning attention to Blacktide. “For the transgressions against you, Larry ‘Blacktide’ Peters, your power has been altered. Use it wisely. Now you both follow me to witness the true punishment of Charon.” An unseen power pulled the boat to the opposite shore. Neither of the two offered any objection as they followed Death onto the dark beach of the dead.

            Together, they walked to the great front doors of the palace where Death stopped. Blacktide could only watch in awe. He had no idea just what had happened to his powers, but they did feel different than before. He realized he destroyed the magical chains that held him. Was that what Death meant? He had little time to think on it.

            Death reached out to the great front doors with Charon’s skull and fixed it fast to the right side door. A great metal ring appeared in the skull’s mouth before Death spoke again.

            “You thought no worse punishment could ever be devised for you, reckless and foolish Ferryman. Now, not only will your headless body continue your sentence upon the River Styx; you shall serve as the heraldry of all who wish to enter here. No words will you utter, but all who come will use you to rap upon our door. This shall be your disgrace from here on to whatever eternity the Horsemen desire.” Death turned to Blacktide and Nyhtwulf. “You have witnessed this event and now are bid leave this place. Your fate is elsewhere.”

           
Nyhtwulf nodded and grabbed onto Blacktide who was too shocked to speak. With the power of the Twilie Demon, the two friends left. When Death gives a command, it’s best to ask nothing, merely comply.


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