Cutlerine

Gone. May or may not return.

Age 25
The Misspelled Cyrpt
Seen March 15th, 2014
Posted November 15th, 2013
1,030 posts
9.6 Years
Chapter Forty-Five: In Which the Destroyer Speaks

'In dire emergencies, Rotom can feed off the electrical currents generated in animal muscular and brain tissue, but in most circumstances they would rather die than even partially enter a flesh and blood body.'
—Shauntal Wentworth, Ghost of Virtue


“Jeeves!” cried Pigzie Doodle. “Catch!”

He spun on the spot and a malformed Shadow Ball appeared before him, lancing towards Bond; the butler snatched it out of the air and it revealed itself to be a ragged blade of purest night – a sword for killing Ghosts.

“Much obliged, sir,” replied Bond, deftly striking out at the nearest member of the Geist and watching the black blade bite deep into shadowy flesh. His next blow was parried with a shaft of solid fog, and the next moment sharp fingers were raking his arm, shredding his sleeve and drawing greyish blood.

“Ah,” said Bond, looking his opponent in the eye. “I ought to have expected a measure of competency.”

His sword flickered and the Geist-man's hands flashed; he caught the sword by the blade and plucked it from Bond's grasp, his other hand flying outwards and impacting on his chest in an explosion of dark mist. The unfortunate butler fell back, fragments of his spectral essence erupting from beneath his shirt, and collided with Saturn. Both men fell heavily onto the flagstones; Saturn's head, being made of flesh and bone, made a loud crack as it hit the ground, and he did not get up.

And now Bond, struggling to disentangle himself from the leaden weight of the unconscious Saturn, saw two Geist phantoms encroaching on him, their edges blurring and running together like a great dark wave about to break over his head—

—when all at once, a strong hand pulled him up and out of the way, sharp nails digging into Bond's dead skin.

“As one undead to another,” said Jasper, his other hand slicing through a Geist spirit that had come too close with a shower of black sparks, “I advise you not to let it touch you. Prolonged exposure will—”

But what prolonged exposure would result in was never known to Bond, for at that moment the Geist-people collapsed in on each other in a maelstrom of fog, coalescing once more into the vast, flowing cloud and attracting everyone's attention.

“No,” it said. “We refuse to fight you on your terms.”

Three jagged spikes burst out from its flanks, suddenly solid, and punched through Jupiter, Ellen and Pigzie Doodle like a bodkin through paper. Two were ethereal and unharmed: the other was flesh and blood, and sank down onto the ground without a word. Her Skuntank licked her face for a moment, decided enough was enough and waddled as fast as it could over to the stairs, wanting nothing more than to be away from this nightmarish place.

“Bastard!” snarled Mars, and pushed her Purugly aside in a blind, mad rush at the cloud; she hit the side, sank in and disappeared.

“Fool,” remarked the Geist. “There is no creature living that can stop us.” Its faces turned to the mound of decaying flesh on the floor, and the crystal heart that beat weakly at its core. “That was the last. In his time he was a formidable foe. Now he is nothing. So time—”

No doubt they had some pithy remark to make, but they were interrupted by the thrusting of a rust-red spear into their misty body. The Geist hissed and recoiled, bleeding darkness, and its faces spun wildly to see—

—Marley, standing before them with eyes like fragments of the sun and skin like blistered tarmac, her flesh crawling out of place on her bones and pouring down her arms into long, jagged points.

“So the Princess has some royal blood in her after all,” said the Geist, patching their wounds with more fog. “Even so... she can only be half Izhlei, and half Izhlei is little more than nothi—”

Marley struck again, her legs thickening and lengthening to propel her forwards like a cannonball; her lance-like arms stuck deep into the Geist and with a flick of her arms she tore them apart, ripping a long horizontal gash in its substance.

“Enough!” roared the vast Ghost, and something long and hideously scaled shot out from its core—

—and pierced straight through Jasper's chest, snapping dead bones and pulverising flesh, as he stepped between the Geist and Marley.

“I think not,” he said effortfully. “I have a job, you know, and I intend to do it.”

Marley stared at him, the fire in her eyes dimming.

“Jasper...?”

“Forget me,” he told her. His teeth were stained with blood. “I was never alive to begin with.”

Then a tiny wisp of smoke curled out of his mouth and dissolved in the clear mountain air – and twenty years of decay fell upon his body in an instant. Dry bones clattered down onto the stones, and the Ghost that had called itself Jasper Platinum was no more.

“A waste,” rumbled the Geist. “A vampire should be beyond human weakness. You mortals must have infected it.”

Marley said nothing, but a corona of green fire flared into life around her spear and she plunged it into the Geist again.

“Yes,” said the Geist, as the flames caught and spread over their surface. “Keep at it, Princess. Keep trying...”

Something was wrong – the Geist didn't seem to care about her attacks any more – but she couldn't see it; all Marley could see now was yellow light and Ashley's rust, red blood and the wisp of smoke that had been Jasper. She was feeling, and it burned in her so brightly that she felt as if she must be consumed.

“Jeeves!” cried Pigzie Doodle, suddenly appearing in front of Bond. “You have to stop her! If she is what I think she is, she's going to kill herself doing this, and we need her to hold this thing off!”

Bond was a butler: he asked no questions and delivered prompt service. Consequently, he wasted no time in attempting to pull Marley back from the Geist – but another blade shot out of the shoulder he grabbed, and he had to let go as her back erupted into a forest of spines. She turned, growing a little larger, and rammed her lances home once more; the Geist, now thoroughly ablaze, laughed.

“Almost there, Princess. Keep going.”

“Madam!” cried Bond, attempting to pull one leg from under her but instead being wrenched off his feet by the inhuman strength coursing through her veins. “You must stop!”

Now Marley's body was collapsing into itself, her waist disappearing and her feet shrinking to spikes; her hair receded and her eyes began to sink deeper into her skull. Soon, Bond realised, she would look like the unconscious monster on the floor – but for some reason that was bad; he did not pretend to understand, but kept on with his efforts regardless.

“We think you have reached your limit,” said the Geist, all of its faces smiling, and Marley burst.

The alien power within her proved too much: her skin tore and the muscle bulged out from underneath, growing crazily and swallowing her up in a great congealing mass of tissue. A moment later, Marley had all but disappeared under her own flesh; where she had been was a large pillar of muscle and skin, studded with eyes and drooping streamers of offal.

Bond stared. This was all wrong; the thing before him was impossible and horrific, and more importantly the Geist was tearing through them all as if they were nothing at all. There was only himself, Ellen and Pigzie Doodle left now, and he had no doubt that the great Ghost could destroy them all as easily as the rest.

“Look at her,” they said contemptuously. “She has her father's power, but not his body – and none other can withstand the force of the release. How pathetic.”

They extinguished the flames on its body with nothing more than a light shiver, and the faces turned to Bond and company.

“Now,” they said, “there is only fodder left. We do love the taste of ghosts. So piquant.”

“Here!”

Pigzie Doodle thrust another Shadow Ball sword into Bond's grasp, but it shattered as soon as it touched the Geist's cloudy body, and the vast Ghost rose up over them in a wave of faces.

“Madam,” said Bond quietly, as it approached. “I regret to say that I think I may be incapable of defeating this opponent.”

“Oh, Bond,” replied Ellen – but that was all. She could say no more; the second and final death of their lives towered before them, and there was nothing she could say to stop it.

“I should have used fewer semicolons,” murmured Pigzie Doodle.

They closed their eyes, and waited for the end.

---

We stared up at Giratina, and waited for its move. For a long moment, nothing happened – and then a clear, booming voice said:

“Sötar viln boárak mon dairün.”

Cynthia blinked.

“That... that was Old Sinnish,” she said. “The Shinowh variant. Oh my God, it can talk!”

“Belaosh viln,” said Giratina, which sounded to me an awful lot like, “Well, obviously.”

“Never mind that,” I said frantically, “what does it want?”

“It says... it wants us to remove the infection in its world,” translated Cynthia. “I think it means Cyrus.”

“Vókar Ky-Ros minas tirith?” asked Giratina, sinking down lower and regarding us with a steady gaze.

“Cyrus? Is that what it's called? That's what it's saying.”

“We've come to get rid of him,” I told Giratina. “We're absolutely going to get rid of him. We'll get rid of him so well you won't even know he's—”

“Pearl, you're babbling. Calm down, it's not going to hurt you.”

“Oh. Yeah. Sorry.”

“Vókar daurin Lei sket. Sho bä.”

“It... it says I have traces of its son on me,” said Cynthia, looking distinctly unsettled. “It wants to know why.”

“What? But Ashley isn't its son. I worked it out. He was hit by—”

“I don't know how you know that,” said Cynthia, “but keep it to yourself. Giratina obviously doesn't think so.”

Bä!” cried Giratina, annoyed at being ignored; its voice broke fragments of rock off our island, and I decided it was time to reply.

“She's his lover,” I stated baldly.

“Pearl—!”

“Vikín minas boárak mon,” boomed Giratina, nodding its mighty head. “Sötar hegorak.”

Cynthia stared, stupefied.

“Really?”

Tarh.”

“What did it say?” I asked.

“It says I look like a worthy mate,” she told me, looking dazed. “A powerful warrior. I think. It might also have been a double entendre.”

I stared at the giant shadow. Could gods make jokes? Was that allowed? I supposed I couldn't see any reason why not, but it didn't strike me as fitting.

Vä,” Giratina went on. “Vä ulthorn boárak Ky-Ros, iht hegnar sa boltt.”

With that, it rose up on wings of darkness and soared away upwards, impossibly fast for something so large. In a second or two, it had dwindled to a pinprick point, and was gone.

“What did it say?”

“It said go right now and get rid of Cyrus and it'll give us a reward.”

“Why doesn't it get rid of him itself?”

“I don't think it's allowed.” Cynthia paused; her brain seemed to still be a little bit stuck on Giratina's earlier words. “There are a lot of rules governing this sort of thing, I think – the rules of legends. Gods are never allowed to just kill the people they want to; they always have to have a human champion, and just provide them with assistance and stuff. You know how it is.”

“Yeah,” I agreed, thinking of numerous myths in which the gods pointed people in the direction of stuff, or sent other people to stop them, or gave them signs but never any concrete help. “I didn't realise it had to be that way, though.”

“It does. I think it's why Giratina and Ashley both believes he's its son. That's what the legends say – and gods live and breathe legends. For them, there probably was a Fenrir, and a Hercules, and a Sunyshore Devil.”

“Maybe every story comes true if you leave it long enough,” I suggested.

“Maybe.”

We stood in silence for a while, and then, for no reason at all, blinked ourselves out of our trance.

“We should go,” I said, and a little island materialised in front of us.

“Yeah,” replied Cynthia. “Come on.”

Everything seemed rather distant and dreamlike after our conversation with Giratina; we continued on our journey, but all the urgency was gone. We just moved, without really thinking about why we were doing it. Past forests of statues, past pillars of glass that supported rainbows in our world, past the ghost of a fire and the fossilised skeleton of a Cyclops; we passed all sorts of wonders, but didn't take them in.

The only jolt of reality was the figure of Cyrus, marooned on a tiny island ahead of us; as we drew closer to him, I felt my mind clearing, and wondered if perhaps the Distortion World was inimical to thought. Maybe without a shot of our world every now and then, I'd end up going completely insane – if I hadn't already.

Cyrus saw us coming, but made no attempt to flee; there was nowhere he could go, after all. A series of stepping stones flew upwards out of the void to bridge the gap between us and him, and a few seconds later we were standing on the same scrap of land.

“Well,” he said, “you found me.”

All the charisma was gone from his voice; there wasn't a scrap of power in him now. It had all been the Geist, I realised – all that emotional manipulation and willpower. Without it, Cyrus was just a man like any other.

“We've come to take you back,” Cynthia told him. “Your presence here is an affront to Giratina.”

Cyrus smiled lazily.

“I'm not going anywhere,” he said. “I know exactly what awaits me out there. Every single sentient being in Sinnoh will try and destroy me on sight, thanks to you.”

The last word was directed at me, and spat with more vehemence than I'd ever encountered before.

“We can fix that,” said Cynthia. “We have psychics of our own. Just come with us, Cyrus, and we'll get you back to reality.”

“I never realised the Destroyer was so powerful,” mused Cyrus. “I thought it was the equal of Dialga or Palkia.”

“It's stronger,” replied Cynthia. “Its job requires it. Now come with us.”

“I've already told you I won't,” Cyrus snapped. “I have nothing more to do in the other world. This place suits me better – barren, dead. Nothing lives here except the Destroyer, and I don't think it's really alive.”

“You don't have a choice,” I told him. “We'll make you come with us.”

“Really?” asked Cyrus. “But you see, I don't want to. I don't care what I do, but I would like at least to be the man who disappeared on Spear Pillar while trying to save the human race – not the man who was beaten and captured by the League.” He shrugged. “Perhaps my heroic death will inspire someone – someone who can succeed where I failed. After all, a martyr strengthens any cause.”

“Don't you sodding dare,” growled Cynthia. “We've come too far and done too much for you to wreck things now— oh, cal!”

In the middle of her speech, Cyrus had stepped backwards off the island and into the void. He fell a few metres, smiling triumphantly, and disappeared. There was no fading, no puff of smoke – he just vanished. Gone. Just like that.

“Well, cal,” I said, after consideration. “What now?”

“The pendant,” cried Cynthia. “He had the sodding pendant!”

Oh, cal. The pendant.

Unless I was very much mistaken, Sinnoh was now screwed.

---

It looked like it was going to be rather a long wait for the end, because the end showed no sign of coming.

“What in God's name—?”

The Geist sounded like it was in pain, thought Bond. How curious. He opened his eyes a little, and was heartened to see it recoiling as if stung; he opened them fully, and saw a little white gremlin with ruby-red eyes standing near him, balls of darkness shooting from its temple and impacting like mortar shells on the Geist's body.

“What the hell?” muttered Pigzie Doodle. “Since when do you get albino Sableye?”

“You OK?” asked an unfamiliar voice, and a Hoennian youth with sun-bleached hair appeared before them. “You look like you're in quite a bit of trouble.”

“I believe we were about to be killed, sir,” said Bond. “Who might you be?”

“My name's Kester,” replied the youth. “Quickly – what happened here?”

As swiftly as he could, Bond related the particulars of the last few minutes; most people would have perhaps assumed he was mad, but the youth seemed to take it all in his stride.

“Damn it,” he said. “It's the end of the world again.”

He turned, and Bond looked beyond him to see a young woman in a blue coat and hat directing the Sableye, which actually seemed to be holding the Geist at bay; beside her was another young lady in a lighter shade of blue, who was staring at the Geist and chewing her lip. Beside her was a rather familiar-looking Rotom, whose Shadow Balls, while not nearly as effective as the Sableye's, were nevertheless helping to keep the Geist back.

“What is – who are you?” they roared, twisting and coiling, trying to pull away from the rain of shadowy missiles. “What is this?”

“Sapphire Birch, Kester Ruby, Felicity Kusagari, Robin Goodfellow and Malvolio,” replied the girl in the blue hat. “And this defeating mighty evils stuff is kind of our thing.”

“Defeat?” asked the Geist. “Defeat? You misunderstand our situation. We are not defeated – we are annoyed.”

A ring of darkness pulsed out from the centre of the cloud, slicing apart the ancient pillars and knocking everyone back; the Sableye was flung high into the air and ran off, squealing, and the Rotom lost its shape, falling to the floor in an amorphous puddle of plasma.

“Ghosts may harm us, but we are stronger,” growled the Geist, their faces bunching together in the centre of their body. “We will destroy you!”

Kester stared at it.

“Ah,” he said. “I did think this was a bit too easy.”

The green fire in the Geist's eyes began to pour outwards, forming into one bright, burning beam that seared the very air—

—and passed straight through the spot where Sapphire had been standing one moment before, punching a hole straight through the marble floor and down to the very base of the mountain.

“Jesus—!”

The beam struck again, this time in the direction of Bond, Pigzie Doodle and Ellen, and they scattered in all directions as the flames burnt through the mountain.

“Looks like there is a way to burn down a mountain,” muttered the Duskull, but no one listened; everyone was just trying to get out of the way of the Geist's explosive gaze.

“That's right,” they yelled over the crackle of the fire. “Flee, mortals! We are your predator and your master!”

“Oh, shut up,” said a rasping, ancient voice, and a rust-red spike shot through the core of the Geist. The fires died out, the Ghost choked on its own breath, and the cloud rose up, hurriedly pulling itself free of the spine.

Beneath it, Ashley pulled himself to his feet, flesh knitting together and bones snapping back into place.

“I don't think you killed me very well,” he observed, tentacles slicing through the Geist's shadow-stuff. “You really ought to be more careful.”

“Guh,” answered the Geist, evidently in some pain. “You... We will not make the same mistake twice.”

Coils of shadow wound around Ashley's body, and began to haul him into the air – but an arc of black lightning suddenly impacted on the foggy limbs and blew them apart.

“Honestly,” said Puck's voice from someone's phone as he rose up from the ground. “That really, really hurt. I don't even have a joke to make about it. I just want to throw darkness-reinforced thunderbolts at you all day.”

“What?” Half the Geist's faces moved across to look at him. “How did you withstand—?”

“Sorry, I'm too cool to die,” replied Puck. “I appreciate it must be a shock.”

Another black lightning bolt hit the surface of the Geist, and the fog flinched away from the site of impact.

“You are tenacious,” admitted the Geist. “But we will—”

At that moment, Ashley sliced it in half, and it cursed loudly in a hundred languages at once before pulling itself together and trying to engulf him.

“Bond! For God's sake, help him!”

Bond blinked.

“Of course, madam.”

He grabbed another of Pigzie Doodle's shadowy swords and rejoined the fray, just as more Pokémon appeared next to Kester and Sapphire. Reinforcements had arrived, and things were beginning to look up: if they were lucky, they might even survive the fight.

---

“What do we do?” I asked frantically. “What do we do?”

“I don't know!” snapped Cynthia. “I'm trying to think!”

No Cyrus meant no pendant, no pendant meant no returning the binding to our world, no returning the binding meant no trapping Spiritomb, and no trapping Spiritomb meant endless aeons of evil for the world in general and Sinnoh in particular.

Things couldn't really get much worse.

“Do you think he was destroyed or went somewhere?” I asked.

“I don't know. Maybe both. Who knows?”

“No, really,” I insisted. “Which do you think?”

“Well... if he was destroyed, you'd have thought Giratina would've noticed and come to thank us, I guess,” said Cynthia. “Which means he might just be somewhere else within the Distortion World— oh Christ. You're not seriously going to do what I think you're going to do, right?”

“I'm trying really hard not to think about how scary it is,” I answered, “and I think it's working.” It was as well – now that I knew I had it, my psychic power seemed pretty easy to direct, and I currently had it working on shutting out all the fear it could find in my brain. “OK. I'm going to do it.”

“No, Pearl, I'll do—”

“If we don't get the pendant back, you're going to be a lot more use fighting Spiritomb than I am,” I reasoned. “No, I'm doing this.”

I took deep breath, stepped forwards, closed my eyes and jumped.

For one heart-stopping moment, I fell – and then, all at once, I wasn't. There was no jolt, no impact or even any sense of deceleration; I was just suddenly still. I opened my eyes cautiously, and was slightly emboldened to find I was somewhere rather than in the nowhere of the void – though the fact that this somewhere was the inside of a colossal, dimly-lit cavern was a little less than encouraging. The marble blocks that formed the walls were cracked and chipped, and the floor was covered in pieces of smashed stone; as I watched, more of them fell in unnaturally silent trickles from various apertures hidden in the shadows above my head. Looking at how many were falling, I got the feeling that the layer I was standing on was probably several metres thick.

I took a few unsteady steps across the sea of stones and called out Cyrus' name uncertainly, but there was no reply. It made sense, really; this place was big enough that I couldn't see any of the sides but the one I was standing by, and I doubted my voice would carry all the way across. Hell, he might even have appeared under some of the falling stones and been squashed for all I knew.

“Still,” I said aloud, trying to keep cheerful, “at least I'm not going to run out of time here.”

I wandered a little more, slipping and sliding on the shifting stone chunks; they seemed to suck at my feet, trying to drag me under like quicksand. Did you get quickstone, I wondered – and if you didn't, who was to say you couldn't in the Distortion World? Or maybe the rocks were alive, and fed off people foolish enough to walk across them.

“Stop scaring yourself,” I said severely, and, with an effort, put the thoughts from my mind.

A couple of steps later, I almost fell and spent a long moment steadying myself – long enough for me to recognise half a face in one of the pieces of stone.

“What?”

I picked it up and stared. There was no doubt about it – this was part of one of those statues. Did that mean...?

After looking around, I was forced to conclude that it did. Every single one of the pieces of stone was a fragment of one of the statues up among the islands – a hand here, a torso there – and more were falling down every second.

“Is this where your statue goes when you die?” I wondered.

I stood there for a while, staring at the piece of face in my hand, and then moved on, dropping it hurriedly. This was not a good place, I decided; it was a horrible dead place where living people weren't supposed to go, and being here gave me the creeps. A nasty feeling of dread settled over me, drawing in close and holding me firmly like a tight coat.

“Cyrus!” I called again, hoping to find him so I could leave – not that I knew how I was going to get out of here. “Cyrus, where the hell are you?”

There was no answer, not even an echo. A pile of broken hands landed without a noise about a foot away. I shivered. This place was definitely bad news.

A thought struck me then: if the stones made no noise here, did anything else? Maybe Cyrus wasn't answering me because my voice was inaudible to him, as the falling fragments were to me. If that was the case, I thought, I might as well give up right then; if I couldn't make myself heard, I had no chance of finding him. Little beads of sweat appeared on my brow and trickled down into my eyes; I felt hot all of a sudden, and kind of nauseous.

“He'd better be able to hear me,” I muttered as I walked on, keeping an eye out for falling sculpture. “Cyrus!”

Still no answer. It felt like I'd been trekking across the cave for hours, even though I knew it had taken no time at all in reality; everything in here was starting to get to me. The shattered statues, the fact that the light seemed to have no source, the endless silence – every unnatural aspect of this place seemed to be climbing into my skull, packing themselves tightly around my mind and pressing in on every side—

A wave of dizziness washed over me, and I lost my balance, falling heavily onto the sharp stones beneath. I tried to get back up, but couldn't see straight; my arms and legs kept sliding out from under me, unable to get any purchase on the shifting fragments. Somewhere in the back of my head, a little voice was telling me to concentrate, to pull my thoughts together, but I couldn't obey; the air seemed sweet and thick in my mouth, and the silence was pressing in...

I'm not sure how much time I spent there, half-conscious and mumbling, but it must have been quite a while – in the terms of our universe, that is. Maybe an hour, maybe a day. Either way, it was some time before my head started to clear and I was able to think again; I saw my chance and seized the moment of coherence, directing all my mental energies towards driving out the awful trance that had overcome me. For a moment, my mind wavered as if on the brink of a dream – and then it was gone, and the world around me faded back to normal. I was lying on my belly, half-buried in pieces of broken sculpture; I must have sunk into the surface while I was out.

I sat up and winced at the pain; from the feel of it, I had a lot more bruises than before, and I'd had quite a few then.

“What the hell was that?” I wondered quietly. Did it happen to everyone who came here? And, if so, what happened to you if you weren't psychic, and couldn't break free of it? “That's it,” I told myself. “Cyrus isn't answering because he's unconscious.” I stood up, little bits of stone falling from my body. “He fell from where you fell, so chances are he's somewhere near where you are. But since the stones seem to swallow you up, he's probably sunk in and you didn't see him.”

God damn it, I thought, I was a detective at last. I smiled a little despite myself, and set about looking for Cyrus. The stones no longer plucked at my legs; it was as if, having bested the cavern's awful spell, I had earned its respect. Maybe that was what had happened. It wouldn't be the weirdest thing to happen today.

I kept my eyes on the stones, looking for a protruding bit of flesh or clothing among the marble, but saw nothing. He had to be here somewhere, I reasoned. It might take a bit of a search, but I'd find him in the end. I was almost relaxed now, despite my surroundings; after all I'd taken what I assumed was the worst the cavern could throw at me, and I had plenty of time. Of course, I wasn't exactly enjoying being in this place, but I was about as happy as I could be here.

My mind wandered – from the realisation about what Ashley was, to the whole god-summoning business, to the time I'd tripped over a rock and broken my ankle, to what might be happening at home right now, to that pile of shards over there...

I frowned. Was that a message from my subconscious? I concentrated, and felt a certain something pulse weakly at my temple. Yes, there was no doubt about it now. That was definitely a human mind in there.

“Finally,” I muttered. “It's about time.” I wasn't particularly amazed at my own display of psychic power; as soon as I'd found out about it, it had become so normal, so much a part of me, that I wondered how I hadn't noticed it years ago.

I tramped over to the heap, thrust my hands between the stones and was rewarded with the feeling of cloth at my fingertips. Grinning, I dug a gap and hauled out the limp body of Cyrus Maragos. He was bruised, bleeding from a cut on his head and muttering to himself in his sleep, but he was definitely still alive.

“Fantastic,” I breathed with feeling. “Now I just need to... ah, crap.”

You see, in all my excitement I'd kind of forgotten that I had no idea how to get out of here.