Sorry for the long delay between posts, but this one took me a while to complete. As always, if you haven’t read the previous posts yet, please do so, as this is a continuation of the last one. Thanks for reading!
Mirror of the Nine Halls part 6
“I don’t get it,” Karl said as he got in his car to leave. “Why would an antique shop have something like that, and who was the previous owner?”
Kalgan shrugged. “I don’t know, Karl. Your guess is as good as mine.”
“Promise not to do anything with the mirror until I come back tomorrow?”
Kalgan rolled his eyes. “Whatever. It’s not like it’s going anywhere, Karl. It will still be here when you get back tomorrow.”
“You sure about that? What if it teleports to the Andromeda Galaxy, or something?”
“That’s not going to happen.”
“How can you be sure?”
Kalgan shrugged. Karl had a point there. Nothing was a certainty. Not Anymore.
“Just go home, Karl. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Fine. I’ll see you later, then.”
Kalgan waved as his friend closed his car door, started up his piece-of-crap car, backed up, and left the driveway.
He then sighed in relief. His friend had given him no time to himself whatsoever. No time to think about what had happened at the restaurant. Were those two men dead? What was going to happen next?
“You okay?” Celine said as he went back into his house. She and mother had gotten back only a half-hour before. “You’ve been in a weird mood ever since we got back from the grocery store.”
“I’m fine. Didn’t sleep well last night is all.”
“Yeah. I heard you moaning. Must have been one hell of a nightmare…”
Kalgan sighed. “Yeah. Something like that.”
“Anyway… Are you ready to get rid of that mirror yet?”
“No Celine.” Kalgan replied. “I told you I’m not getting rid of it. It’s mine. And I kind of like it.”
“Seriously?” Celine said. Then she rolled her eyes and stormed off to her room.
Maybe Celine had a point, though. His entire life had changed in that moment at the restaurant. And it was all because of that silly mirror. But he couldn’t get rid of it now. He needed answers, and he needed them bad.
He marched off to his room before his mother appeared to tell him to do the dishes, or some other menial task, then shut the door behind himself. Then he sat down in front of the doorway to that other world.
He was met only with the soft flickering of torchlight and silence.
Orange. Then blue. Pulsing between the two colors in time to his own heartbeat. Why was that?
“Are you there?” he said to the mirror. Not too loud. No need for his sister to think he was talking to someone else, or crazy.
There was no answer. He sighed and leaned up against his bed, then closed his eyes.
He hadn’t realized he had fallen asleep until he was jolted awake by a voice.
“Long day I take it?” the man in the gold armor said.
Kalgan took a deep breath to calm his rampaging heart.
“I realize you have many questions, but there’s something we need to discuss first. It’s the mirror.”
“What about it?”
“It’s a bit conspicuous in the center of your room, upright and completely immobile. You’re going to need to move it to a safer place.”
“But how? It’s too heavy to even move.”
“You are bonded to it, now. It should obey some simple commands as long as those commands don’t result in its destruction. It is only semi-sentient. It will work to preserve itself, but is incapable of higher thought.”
“Yes. I’m fairly certain you can shrink it down small enough to fit in your pocket, if you wish.”
“Oh,” Kalgan said, suddenly more excited by the idea. “How do I do that?”
“Unfortunately, it normally isn’t possible for someone so new to his or her power. You’ll require my aid at first.”
“Place your hand upon the surface of the mirror.”
Kalgan did as he was told. “Okay. What next?”
The mysterious figure put his own gauntleted right hand up to the mirror as well. Kalgan took a moment to admire the figure’s armor again. It was made up of numerous interlocking plates of golden metal. It was like the man was wearing the skin of some metallic golden dragon, or something.
“I’ll do the rest. Try to keep your hand touching the mirror, please.”
Suddenly, Kalgan felt the surface of the mirror become soft, like putty. Then the fingers of the golden figure started to get closer to his own, and vice-versa.
For a split-second, Kalgan swore their fingers touched, then the golden figure withdrew his hand, and the mirror’s edges began to retract. There was no sound as it happened, but it remained suspended in the air.
Eventually, it stopped shrinking at a little smaller than his palm. Kalgan withdrew his hand from its surface quickly. It had felt… cold.
“Go ahead and take it. It should allow you to move it, now,” the golden figure said.
Kalgan reached out and placed his right hand around the small mirror, and it immediately fell into his palm. It felt light, and the edges felt smooth and rounded. It was like a small force field protecting him from getting cut.
“Well this is much more convenient,” he commented.
“Indeed. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have an important meeting. I will speak with you in several days. In the meantime… Try not to burn down your house.”
Kalgan laughed. “I’ll try.”
“Good day, then.”
And with that, the strange armored man disappeared.
He sighed and placed the small mirror in his pocket, then fell onto his bed with a sigh of exhaustion.
“So much for me asking a few questions,” Kalgan said to himself, slightly annoyed.
He didn’t really want to think about what had happened earlier in the day, but flashes of memory from the restaurant came to him unbidden.
He saw the flames clawing at the man who had been about to shoot Karl in the head. He saw the ice spreading over the side of the man’s head who had been holding up that poor woman.
“Oh no you don’t!” he said angrily. He pressed his palms hard against his temples and squeezed his eyes shut.
Hot. Cold. Hot. Cold.
The burning! The frozen fire of his soul was inescapable! He deserved this pain for what he had done!
But… If he hadn’t done what he did, Karl would be dead right now.
“No! Fuck you!” The power was raging through his blood. “I won’t let you control me!”
Kalgan forced himself to calm down… somehow. The raging fire and ice in his veins steadily moving back down to just above his awareness.
He felt sick. And thirsty.
He got up with a groan and moved toward his door. He composed his thoughts as best he could and took a deep breath before opening the door.
Then he immediately took a step back as a glint of reflected light off metal flashed towards his head.
There was pain. And then… Nothing.
Kalgan was slow to lift himself out of the darkness of unconsciousness. His head felt stuffed with wool, and there was a fire in it that was different from the one that normally pervaded his blood as of late.
He tried to work some moisture into his mouth, but it felt like there was a piece of cloth stuffed in it. He tried to spit it out to try again, but it was firmly lodged in there.
“Hmmmph!” he said, loudly. What was going on?
“You’re awake, I see,” a voice said next to his right ear.
Kalgan tried to move his head to see who was speaking to him as he opened his eyes, but his head was immobilized.
There was a camping lantern alight about twenty feet in front of him on a small round table. And next to that were two people tied up in chairs.
One was Celine.
The other was his mother.
They were both looking at him with terror-filled eyes. The evidence of fresh tears marring their usually-joyous features.
Kalgan struggled to move, but it appeared he was tied up as well.
“The more you struggle, the worse this will be, Kalgan Rhendron!” the voice spat in his ear again. “You should have just left us alone this morning. Instead, my brother is in the hospital. It looks like he’ll lose his arm thanks to you, asshole!”
No! It couldn’t be!
The figure walked into his field of vision, revealing the same man whose face he had turned to ice earlier. A slight discoloration was the only evidence as to what had happened to the man.
“Yeah. You recognize me now, don’t you. I’m gonna make you pay for what you’ve done!”
The man reached forward and ripped off the duct tape from his mouth.
The pain was nothing compared to what was pounding through his head, but it was still enough to elicit a muffled moan.
Then the man pulled the soggy rag from his mouth as well.
“Scream all you want, boy. No one is going to hear you all the way out here.”
“What…” Kalgan said after working the dryness out of his mouth a bit. “Do you want?”
“I want you to suffer for what you did. We would have just robbed that place, and then left. But you just had to play the hero!”
“Please,” Kalgan said, still unable to really comprehend what was happening. This had to be a nightmare. “Just let us go. Please.”
“I don’t think so. You’re going to suffer.”
“Please,” Kalgan said. He felt tears starting to burn his eyes. He looked over to his mother and sister. Their eyes showed that they were completely beyond fear. They were looking back at him as if they were looking at him for the last time. “Just let them go. I’ll do anything you want.”
“Is that so?” the man said, walking over to Celine’s side and crouching down to look at her face. “I’ll tell you what… Pick one of them for me to let go.”
“What? No! Please. Let them both go. I said I’ll do anything you want!”
“If not, I’ll choose for you. One to live, the other to die. Right here. Right now.”
“Please! Stop! Just let us go!”
Kalgan’s breath started to come faster. This couldn’t be happening!
The man walked behind his mother and sister. They were both sobbing silently behind their gags, now. Tears were running down their faces.
“Heads,” the man said, placing his hand on Celine’s head. “Tails,” he said, placing his other hand on his mother’s head.
Celine and his mother both started to sob louder, and began to struggle futilely against the ropes holding them immobile, but the knots were too strong. There was no escaping this.
The man took a step back and fished around in one of his pockets, then pulled out a penny.
“Hmm… Ironic. Lincoln the Great Emancipator! He’ll grant freedom for one of them, and death to the other.”
“No! Please! I’ll do anything!”
Kalgan felt himself starting to sob as well. This wasn’t real! Why couldn’t he just wake up!
There was a long knife on the table. Kalgan watched as if in slow motion as the man walked toward the table with a sick smile on his face.
“You can still choose,” the man said, looking at him with eyes sick with the pleasure he was getting from this whole situation. “I promise to kill the one you want me to kill.”
The man smiled and shook his head. Then he flipped the penny up into the air. Kalgan watched as it flipped over and over and over again before falling back down towards the sicko’s waiting hand.
The man caught it and looked down in pleasure at the penny. “Hmm… Tails.” He picked up the knife and examined it with a look of anticipation on his face. “I guess it’s your mother, then.”
“No! You get away from her!” Kalgan yelled.
“You’re going to watch as I kill her,” the man said. He put the penny back in his pocket and caressed his polished knife.
Kalgan’s mother struggled even more, no longer caring about what damage she caused to herself in the process, but it wasn’t enough. There was no escape.
The murderer stepped behind her, took a wide stance, and lifted the knife way up above his head with the point aimed at her.
“Commend this soul to the dark depths, O my Lord!” the man said, closing his eyes. Then he brought the knife down fast.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!” Kalgan yelled at the top of his lungs. The scream that tore from him was barely even human.
In that final moment before the blade struck, his mother seemed to relax. She took one last look at her son, and closed her eyes, releasing two soul-filled tears.
Then the blade crashed through her skull with the sound of a dull squish, and it was over.
“NOOOOOOOOOO!” If anything, the second scream was even more agonized. Kalgan strained against his bonds. He felt bones snapping and dislocating, but it was nothing compared to the agony of madness tearing through his entire being.
“There it is!” the man said jubilantly. “The suffering I wanted to hear!”
Kalgan’s agonizing screams continued, quickly devolving into those of a wild animal, crazed and inhuman.
The man ripped his knife out of her head and smiled. “I’ll admit that that was something I’ve needed for over a month!” he said. “I usually don’t wait so long, but being on the road tends to hamper my opportunities for this kind of thing.”
Kalgan felt detached from reality. He looked at his sister. She had her eyes shut so tight, it looked as if she never wanted to open them again. Sad whimpers crept past her gag, and tears were streaming down her face.
Then the man stepped behind Celine and raised the knife up again.
“Let her go!” Kalgan said with a raspy voice. “You promised!”
Then he brought the knife down again.
This time, there was nothing left in Kalgan to release in a scream. Her eyes remained closed, but relaxed their death-grip on life itself.
Blood ran down both his mother’s and sister’s faces. Macabre tears that ripped the soul out of him.
Life was a nightmare. Things like this didn’t happen in the real world.
Kalgan felt his muscles relax. He knew he was next. It would be over soon.
The man stepped over to him and crouched down so they were looking eye-to-eye. “It looks like the light has gone out of those eyes of yours. The curtain is about to close on this play of ours. Just one more death, and you’ll be free. One last sacrifice for my Dark Lord. I think he’ll be pleased with the souls I’ve brought him this day.”
Kalgan didn’t feel anything anymore. Not even loathing for this man. How could you feel loathing for a common piece of trash? A speck of dust?
“I think tomorrow, I’ll give that friend of yours a visit, too. But I’ll leave him for my brother, I think. He has much simpler urges than I do. It will be over… probably too quickly. Oh well.”
Kalgan looked into his captor’s eyes, but only saw a rabid animal dressed in civility. He wished the killer would just do it already. This nightmare needed to end.
The murderer looked into his eyes for a moment and smiled. “I’ll give you the mercy I never had, Kalgan.” The man examined his knife with a critical eye. The blood was still wet, and red on its surface.
He stood up and lifted the knife over his head. Kalgan lifted his eyes to look at his captor’s face.
“Just do it already,” Kalgan said. He didn’t even recognize his own voice anymore. Life was a nightmare. None of it was real… Except the pain.
Something snapped. He felt it in his blood, his mind, everywhere.
This man murdered Celine!
He murdered his mother!
“I HATE YOU!” Kalgan screamed. He tasted blood.
The murderer took a startled step back.
Kalgan flexed and the ropes snapped. He smelled something burning. The ropes fell away, and he stood up.
Kalgan lifted his right hand up, and saw it wreathed in blue flames. It felt both hot and cold at the same time.
“I’m going to burn you, now,” he said to his captor.
The murderer took another step back from him. “What… What are you doing?”
Kalgan advanced. This time, the terror was in his captor’s eyes, and his own held only thoughts of murder.
Kalgan yelled and tackled the man and started pummeling him with his fists.
The man tried to stab him, but Kalgan grabbed a hold of the blade and melted it. Molten droplets dripped onto the man as they fell to the ground, burning through his clothes and onto his bare skin.
The screams of agony from the murderer were like music to his ears. Still, Kalgan pummeled him with his fists, each mark leaving scorch marks and the smell of burning flesh in the air.
“PLEASE STOP!” the murderer said, clutching Kalgan’s immolated arms in desperation. his fingers crisped and withered to nothing before bursting into flame as well.
“PLEASE! I DON”T WANT TO DIEEEEE…”
The murderer began to contract within himself, instantly mummifying, then burst into blue flames instantly. Still, Kalgan pummeled him, until he was pummeling gray, lifeless ashes.
Kalgan sobbed as he gave the pile of ashes a few last punches, then sagged from exhaustion.
He looked at his hands as the last flickers of flame died out. His skin was undamaged. Not burned at all.
He didn’t care. Nothing mattered anymore.
He looked around to see that the ceiling was on fire. More unnatural blue flames.
It lit the room in ghostly light.
He looked over at his mother and sister. Nothing could bring them back. His life was over. But he knew that the flames could not harm him. He would have to seek his death somewhere else.
Kalgan walked over to a set of stairs, only just catching fire, and began to march up them. One last look back at his family before he reached the top.
“I’ll be with you soon, Mom, Celine.”
He opened the door and made his way out of the cabin. Everything was on fire, now. It would all be ashes soon. These flames spread much faster than regular flame.
By the time he finally made his way outside, his clothes had completely burned off his body, but the flames did not touch him at all. He was their Master.
He walked down the road, the blue flames dying out as the last of the cabin was consumed, the only thing he carried was a small, palm-sized mirror.
His life had been reduced to ashes in a single night. What was there left to live for, anymore?