Monsters in the Gloom
Gish left the room for a moment, saying something about meals, leaving the three youths alone. All of them looked over at each other, and instantly they saw in each other the confusion and unease in themselves.
“I cannot ignore that this ‘Gish’ is not wholly truthful.” Yearling said.
“Nor I.” Zacharion said, “He’s hiding something.”
“I don’t like the way he looks at me.” Sihaya said, “It reminds me of the ways that some of the old men in court did before Father killed them all.”
“Let us not trust him, then.” Zacharion said, again leading, “Let us press him and push him to reveal his true self so that we may deal honestly with honest hatred than falsely with false friendship.”
Not long thereafter, Gish returned. “I have prepared a suitable meal for travelers like you three. Come, follow me.”
Wary did they follow, but follow they did and they came to a small room with a small table and four chairs. Food and drink rested upon it, ready for consumption, and Gish pointed each to a chair as he moved to his own.
“You see the Twilight Son.” Gish said, inquiring, “Why?”
“You know the answer to that question.” Yearling said, “No one who knows of the Twilight Son would not know why he would be sought.”
“I am but an outcast, learned through my own efforts. Some gaps are inevitable.”
“An outcast? From where?” Sihaya asked.
“I no longer recall.” Gish said, dismissive, “It was so long ago, and since I have become no less a capable man than I would have otherwise.”
Zacharion sampled the goods on the table, and then motioned—covertly—for Sihaya to deal with the now-revealed threat. From unseen pockets out of Gish’s sight, she passed pills to each of the boys, pills meant to used in such situations to dissolve poisons. (Even then, princesses had to protect themselves from cunning courtiers.) Each in turn, when Gish looked away from them, slipped the pills into their food and drink and then partook as if nothing was wrong.
Over their meal, the three did push and press their host. They pressed Gish over his unusual appearance, producing an implicit admission of albinism. They pressed him over his origins, getting an admission of his ignorance over his parentage, and they got him to admit that he still serves the man that raised him as his own son.
Then Gish realized that his young charges were not succumbing to the toxins in the food and drink, toxins meant to be mixed with chemicals in the air, and his demeanor changed.
“I am dismayed.” Gish said, “But I know from bitter experience when I must abandon a plan and resort to something more direct.”
Then with a wave of a hand a flash of light blinded the three, after which Gish had disappeared. The three, from places that their own short lives could not provided, knew that this was not the end- and when noises unnatural echoed into the room, they knew that something else had occurred.
“Is the building still watching?” Sihaya asked.
“Heiress Sihaya, this system is operation.”
“What did Gish do?”
“The surviving organism is attempting to access the database. Unknown intruders have gained access to this facility by way of a super-energetic phenomenon.”
“I think that’s Ancient lingo for ‘summoned monsters’.” Yearling said.
“Can we stop Gish?”
“The organism is unable to access the database. It may attempt to destroy it instead. Time unknown.”
Without further talk, the three took up weapons and got on the move. They encountered a group of near-mindless mutants coming from the plush room where they met Gish, and in a shocking (to the mutants) display of violence the three children quickly cut them all down; more and more, lifetimes beyond their own find expression through their own bodies.
They found on the floor a carefully-constructed summoning circle, concealed under a floor rug previously, and dealt with by breaking the circle at its key points of intersection with the hexagram that it contained. Wordlessly, they quickly ransacked the room; Sihaya found a log book, and Yearling an orb.
“He’s been attempting to divine the Son’s location himself.” Zacharion said, quickly deducing the significance.
“No time to hash it out.” Yearling said, “We need to move.”
The three then heard loud sounds down a distant hallway, as loud alarms arose and spinning red lights came on.
“Security measures initiated.”
The three followed the noises, and soon they found two metal war machines shooting ancient weaponry into another room. Out of that room flew a brilliant giant-sized phantom fist that grabbed one of the machines as another materialized as a fist of the opposing hand and repeatedly slammed it into pieces as if it were made of rotten wood. The remaining machine, heedless of its own existence, kept firing. It too got seized and smashed into pieces; then the hands disappeared.
Without fear or hesitation, the three ran into the room- and Gish, sword in one hand and a spell of some power held in the other, stood ready.
“Regrettable indeed.” Gish said, “For all three of you would have made wonderful allies.”
No talk. They all attacked Gish at once, swords and knives in hand. Gish, being an adult in form and aware due to experience in such positions, held his own through the first press. With the free hand he summoned a translucent buckler into existence. Maximizing his movement, he kept the three away from his back as he maneuvered about the room. His moves seemed swifter, his blows harder and his flesh tougher than his thin and wiry frame would seem to indicate. His feet seemed to blur, as did his outline.
The three cast glances at each other, and at the right moment they each attacked with their swords and pressed him into a corner. As it seemed that he would, again, deflect their swords long enough to wriggle away he found himself off his line- the blades he expected clattered to the floor as he felt child-sized hands grasp his fine clothing. As he hit the floor, he realized that they had synergized their attacks and grappled him simultaneously. Yearling bound his arms and Zacharion his legs. As for Sihaya, she drew back her knife and struck home- burying it to the hilt.
Gish lost the will to live as soon as he felt cold steel sever forever the font of his pride and made a eunuch of him. The boys, sensing an opening, slashed Gish repeatedly as if butchering an animal. Gish expired immediately.