Soulmonger - Chapter 85: Epilogue
Well, this sucks, Corvos Honnuken thought to himself, walking down the street in the guise of an old crone. He’d managed to slip his bonds and get into the city ahead of The Endless, but the army of elites was spilling over the walls of the capital like gods-damned water over a dam.
It would be mere minutes before they swept through the streets, killing indiscriminately.
He needed to collect his favorite niece, get home, and direct all his other great grandchildren, nieces and nephews to use the tunnel he’d dug under the mansion to get out of the capital.
“Immortal,” Raze’s voice echoed from in front of him as the giant appeared, blocking his path. “You’re coming with me.”
“My name’s Sandra Beeks, You lordship-“
“You’ve got a second brain in your torso, I can feel it’s mass,” Raze said, poking Corvos’s stomach directly above his bone-sheathed backup brain. “What would happen if I removed them both? Would you still be Immortal?”
“…You drive a hard bargain, Raze.” Corvos said, a cold sweat running down his neck. “Let’s be done with it quickly then. I need to get my family out of this mess.”
“Deal.” Raze grasped Corvos’s shoulder and the world flickered around them. Suddenly they were in the Emperor’s Audience hall, a place Corvos hadn’t visited in at least thirty years. The elite guards were dead, slumped over where they stood. Raze had killed them too fast for them to respond.
“Fix her,” Raze said, pointing at the emperor on her golden throne, who was…
Lobotomized!? Corvos ran closer, his skin running cold. He performed a quick diagnostic of the scar tissue and realized the woman had been insensate for the last twenty years.
Some things are starting to make a lot of sense.
“I can fix her,” Corvos said, “But her memories are going to be gone.”
“Was that supposed to dissuade me!?” Raze demanded, showing the first emotion Corvos had seen in twenty years. “Fix. NOW!”
“Just managing your expectations,” Corvos muttered, placing his hand on the emaciated woman’s forehead.
Sores from not moving, malnutrition from a liquid diet force-fed to her, bone loss, and the damage to her brain…
Corvos shook his head as he remembered Hanameh as a young girl, always laughing and happy, quick of wit and fleet of foot. What monsters do this to children as sweet as her? I always knew that brat Vendrith was a bad egg.
Corvos fixed the body first. He didn’t want to subject a weakened body to emotional stress if he could help it.
Then he set about fixing her mind, undoing the horrifying destruction that had been wrought by a, quite frankly, crude hand.
Fixing was always harder than destroying, especially the delicate organ that was the brain, but he was The Immortal, and his accuracy was inimitable.
In a few short minutes, he’d erased the damage and the scars, and Hanameh blinked, her eyes beginning to move of their own volition, her brows furrowed in confusion.
“There,” Corvos said, fairly proud of his work. She’s –“
“Out of the way, old man,” Raze said, shoving Corvos aside, ripping off his mask and picking up Hanameh in his arms. “Hanameh, you’re awake! Thank the gods.”
“Raze?” She groaned, her eyes seemingly adjusting as the oversized Kinzena nuzzled her.
“You remember me!?” Raze asked, hope lighting up his face.
“Well, no.” she said, her frown deepening. “But I know everything about you. You don’t like your father, you wish you could’ve been a farmer, you’re afraid of spiders, and…” She blushed. “You’re going to love me for the rest of my life. Wow.”
“Of course I’m gonna love you forever.” Raze said, tears dripping down his nose as he squeezed the breath out of the slender woman. “It’s just…we lost twenty years. We’re so much older now, they took our baby, and you don’t even remember any of it. We lost everything.”
“It’s okay,” Hanameh said, her palm brushing Raze’s cheek. “We’ll savor the time we have left. Just the two of us.”
Corvos wiped a tear out of his eyes as the two children he’d watched grow up wept into each other’s arms.
“Oh, FINE!” he shouted, throwing his hands up. “If anyone deserves a vacation, it’s you two, but if either of you tell ANYONE that I can do this, I’ll murder both of you.”
Corvos clamped his hands down on their skulls and reverted them to children.
Raze’s pre-adolescent form nearly sloughed out of his huge clothes, his sleeves hanging off his arms, his shirt nearly burying both him and Hanameh.
The two prodigies looked up at him with wide eyes.
“There. I gave you both back thirty-five years,” Corvos said, hands on his hips, glaring at Hanameh. “You probably knew this would happen you little minx. Try not to manipulate your boyfriend like that, alright!?”
Hanameh nodded, then turned to Raze, who was still staring at his hands. The young boy glanced up at Hanameh, his expression stunned.
“Elysium is nice this time of year.” She said with a shrug.
Raze glanced up at him.
“Go on, get outta here, kid,” Corvos said, waving them off. “Old Corvos will clean up this mess.”
The two children disappeared, leaving their oversized clothes behind.
“And get me my Niece!” Corvos shouted, shaking his fist at the air.
A moment later, Sasha popped into existence beside him, unconscious and looking suspiciously like him.
“Ah, reminds me of when I copied my grandad.” Corvos muttered as he began growing life-sized Raze and Hanameh dolls off his arms before detaching them, dressing them, and posing them artfully in a lover’s double suicide.
When he was done, he threw Sasha over his shoulder and marched out of the bloody horrorshow that was the palace.
Luckily our mansion is only a few blocks away.
When he made it to the stairs, he paused, taking in the burning city in front of him. The streets crawled with the four talented zealots, who were going from door-to-door, killing and burning as they went. None of the four men had any care for pillaging or rape. They were more unified in purpose than Corvos had given them credit for, and that made them faster than Corvos had given them credit for.
“Hold onto your tits, Sasha,” The Immortal said as his legs swelled up and elongated, his foot lengthening and ankle strengthening into a digitigrade form built to run. “This is gonna be a bumpy ride.”
Corvos bunched himself up to begin the perilous journey to the Honnuken manor, when everything changed.
The angry young men shimmered and were replaced with an entirely different kind of zealot. Young women in white robes ran along the streets, putting out fires and bandaging the wounds of the flabbergasted civilians they’d just been in the process of murdering.
The Immortal pursed his lips as he surveyed the scene. The Endless headed up rescue efforts, her height making her clearly visible above the others.
“…the world’s trapped in somebody else’s daydream. I’m getting too old for this shit.”
Here again, huh? Tom thought to himself as he relaxed against the uncomfortable plastic chair in the interrogation room.
The interrogation room was missing a certain…je ne sais quoi. The last time he’d been dragged into the police station, his nerves had been jangling like crazy.
Now it was just a bunch of homo sapiens with their guns. It was just so…low stakes.
God, my internal monologue sounds like Magneto. Is that cool, or cheesy? I dunno. I guess it depends on the context.
Tom couldn’t actually tear the entire PD apart with the power of his mind, so he leaned towards cheesy.
At least they didn’t try and take his daughter away. That was a good choice on their part, and it might not have been procedure, but Tom had been through too much shit to tolerate having Ellie taken away by some bureaucratic asswipes.
It was possible they picked up on that when he bared his teeth – smiled at them – when they picked the two of them up on the side of the road.
“Mr. Graves, the Slayer rule says that a murderer can’t inherit the property of the victim, under any circumstances. Do you know what that means?”
“That means you’re grasping at straws?” Tom asked as Ellie grabbed the detective’s pencil and began drawing on her own face.
“No, that’s dangerous,” Tom said, snagging the pen out of her hand and sliding it back across the table.
Before she started crying from frustration, he distracted her with a stuffed animal the PD had loaned him.
“Look at it from our perspective. Your…girlfriend possessed a rather large sum in gold coins, and your grandparent had a rather generous share of Coca Cola stock.”
“Really?” Tom asked, brows furrowed.
“Your adoptive mother inherited about eight hundred thousand worth of coca cola stock from her grandparents.”
“Wow,” Tom said, thoroughly unimpressed. I can make that in soul pulses in a day.
“Did it bother you that everyone had money except for you?” The detective’s leading question almost made Tom laugh.
“I didn’t know everyone had money except for me, and I’m pretty sure Gramma didn’t know about the coke stock. Just look at their debt.”
Carol is strapping Grant into a torture table. He claims he saved the day and you would let him off the hook. Please advise. Suzie’s mental voice was much stronger and more eloquent than it’d been when she was a frog.
“Something wrong?” the Detective asked, practically drooling as Tom showed the first hint of discomfort.
“Nah,” Tom said as he focused on his control ring.
Let them all go. I got Ellie back, Tom directed Carol.
“Because the slayer rule doesn’t require the murderer to be convicted of the crime to apply, as long as the murder itself was felonious and intentional.”
The detective placed pictures of his bisected grandparents in front of him.
“Because this looks pretty intentional.”
This time Tom did laugh, Ellie joining in, kicking her heels and chortling, helping her daddy mock the dumbass.
“Oh, my god, the balls on this guy, Ellie.” Tom chuckled. “You should probably put those pictures away before I get real mad and do something you’re gonna regret.”
“Like what?” The detective asked, clearly fishing for something that he could use to justify holding onto Tom longer.
“Probably something petty,” Tom said with a sigh, grabbing the pen and paper in front of the detective. “What’s your full name again?”
Suzie, Have Grant send you, Nema and Carol to Earth using that doodad of his, Tom thought as he jotted down the detective’s name.
Carol, once you get back to Chicago, I want you to look up Detective Samuel Carter of the Chicago PD, kidnap his family and mail him polaroids of them for a week or so before letting them go. He pissed me off.
…Carol’s intentions flowed through the control ring.
No, don’t KILL them, it was implied when I said let them go, wasn’t it? No torture, either. Photos of them tied up is PLENTY. Seriously!? Do I have to get a different demon to do this? I’m starting to question your ability to practice discretion. Yeah, fake torture is fine. Go nuts. Cool, see you soon.
“So,” Tom said, meeting the piece of shit’s gaze. “Am I actually under arrest, or…”
***many hours later***
“Your dad’s gotta get you some grub,” Tom said to Ellie as they walked down the dark urban street. It wasn’t quite as difficult as surviving a barren desert, but it presented its own challenges.
I can pawn a bit of the gold, which should be enough to get me a motel and supplies, enough to re-establish contact with the Outsiders.
After that, just exchange some soul pulses for cash and the rest is gravy. It occurred to Tom that he was going to be very rich, very soon.
“That’s right, Ellie, your dad’s gonna buy you an Ivy league school to play with!”
Hell, maybe I can go to college. I did enjoy forging. Maybe I can learn something hands-on. There was just something so appealing about big fires and melting metals that made him wanna dance and beat his chest. Maybe it was a guy thing.
A black car slowed down beside Tom, catching his attention as the window rolled down with an electric hum.
Inside was a stonefaced man, about thirty, wearing a suit, with a gun holster barely visible in the poor light.
FBI or something? Did they find Marida’s body and want another interrogation? This day is never gonna end.
“Tom Graves?” The man asked.
“Nathan Glover, I’m with the NSA. Your life is in danger. Get in the car.”
“Of course it is,” Tom groaned, rolling his eyes, his grandiose plans for a life of ease crumbling away.
In a lightless tomb buried somewhere beyond the reach of mere mortals, a statue sat upon an imposing stone throne, caked in dust from ages of neglect. It was so thick that the statue’s features couldn’t be seen.
Until a single red light shone from one of the hundreds of cubic shapes arranged evenly in concentric circles around the throne, barely piercing the dust it was buried in.
Jonah Gabras’s attention was drawn away from his thoughts by a persistent flashing red diode in one of his surveillance systems.
Jonah’s gnarled fingers flexed, a quarter inch of dust sloughing way from his body as he rose from his chair, heading over to the machine.
He wiped the coating of dust away from the screen and peered into it.
Statistically significant spacetime anomalies detected. Temporal Alia may be present.
Jonah’s brow quirked, but he didn’t allow his pulse to quicken. He’d faced too many false alarms to allow himself excitement.
So he reviewed the footage.
As the scene played out in front of him. Jonah’s heart began to beat again.