Tweet of the Day: Fantasy Cataclysm
Catania, Pruvincia di Catania, Regione Siciliana, Rebupplica Italiana, 21 October, 14:40 hrs +1 GMT
I walked in through one of the yawning entrances of the city’s football stadium. Army tents covered the length of the pitch. Martin stood in front of a smaller one. Long dark bangs spilled from the rim of the oversize soldier’s helmet. The rest of his gear was equally ill fitting. The blue bullet proof jacket was a size too small, which made his long sleeve shirt puff up along the edges, and he wore a leg pistol holster with no gun in it. Yet his hug was as warm as ever.
“You finally got here,” I said a bit more exasperated that I wanted to sound.
“I’m sorry, but we had a bit of a problem with dragons off shore. They torched a couple of landing crafts and nearly shot down my helicopter. Almost pissed my pants then and there,” he said in his thick Liverpool accent.
” It can be easy hanging about in a tin can out there,” I said. Martin raised an eyebrow. “What?” I asked.
“Tin can? Really?,” he asked with a crooked smile.
“You hang around long enough with soldiers you pick up the lingo, I guess. So what-” shells whistled over head. Martin ducked his head, but I merely listened. Several detonated east of the stadium. “Swing and roundabouts I guess. So what brings you here.”
“You mean here, here,” he pointed down, “or the island?”
“Both,” I said.
“I’m in Sicily on orders of the Conclave. The government has been tight lipped about the situation and the wanted eyes on the ground, so to speak. They thought that my fellow necromancers could have a better chance of divining the true nature of our enemy.”
“And what have you divined exactly?” I asked.
Martin nodded slowly, “Well-”
Captain Winters parted the tent flap, “Good, you’re both here. Come in, we need to talk.”
Inside Owen stood with two soldiers in full battle gear with rifles at the ready. Thy, guarded a young man who sat at the end of a folding wooden table. He wore crimson robes with silver sigils stitched along the hem. There were two more robes of the same color on the table with along with a pair of ebony masks.
“This man claims to be a defector and asked for you by name,” said Winters.
“And you are?” I asked arms folded across my chest.
“My name is Alexandros Raptis. My family has weaved magic into being since the days of the Λύκειον,” said Alexandros.
“The what?” asked Winters.
“The Lyceum, the ancient academy founded by Aristotle. That is a most ancient bloodline. Few can claim such an honored lineage,” I said.
Tears brimmed in Alexandros’ eyes, “And I…I betrayed them. I thought that we, that I was restoring our glorious past, to bring back the gift of the δημιουργός, the Demiurge, the Spirit of Creation, to free us from the bondage of obscurity and ignorance but the men I allied myself with poisoned the sky, butcher the innocent, and consort with the foulest of daemons. They brought nothing but misery to my beloved homeland, as they have everywhere they go to. Misery and destruction.”
“That is all well and good, but what can you do for us?” asked Winters.
Alexandros looked at me, “Are you the Kupía?”
That was Greek for The Lady. As much as hated the title I noticed a mix of hope and desperation in his eyes, “Owen?”
“I think he is sincere. I sense a anger mixed with shame. You don’t get more remorseful than this fellow,” he said.
I pulled Excalibur, “Yes, I am she whom the call The Lady.”
Alexandros exhaled and uttered the Lord’s Prayer under his breath, “Yes, I recognize it. No human hand made that blade. You might be able to defeat the beast in the mountain. Without it the volcanoes will stop and in time the air will clear.”
“You have a way into the volcano?” asked Winters.
We have been trying to find a way in for months but all of the entrances were covered in thick volcanic fumes and crisscrossed with rivers of lava.
Alexandros put his hands on the robes on the table, “These will protect you from the worst of the heat and fumes. It is how the others can enter and leave Τάρταρος.”
“We are going to need more than just a pair of red pajamas to take the place,” said Winters.
“Eryri all over again, captain, except,” I looked at Owen, “only two of us can go in.”
“You two? Alone? Too risky,” said Winters.
“Who dares wins, captain. Right now thousands of men are risking their lives to gives us a chance to do this. If we don’t take it this operation is doomed,” I said.
“Very well, I’ll get the ball running,” said Winters.
Martin pulled me and Owen aside, “About those divinations I told you about earlier.”
“What about them?” I asked.
“The thing inside the mountain, well, it is not a man pretending to be a god like the Prince. It is the opposite, a genius loci, a force of nature personified. You can’t kill it, not even with the Sword of the Britons,” said Martin.
“And what can we do?” I asked.
“Like I said earlier brought a few of my fellow necromancers with me. If you can find a way to distract it, perhaps weaken it, we might be able to bind it and close the portal to the Otherworld. That should cut off the enemies source of power, at least when it comes to controlling this volcano,” he said.
“Okay then,” I grabbed the masks and robes and headed out of the tent.
I thought with some relief that no one asked me what Τάρταρος meant. That Alexandros had offered us a way into Tartarus itself.