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The Thirteenth Hour
The child ran up to me, and stood for a second, leaning over his knees, hand at his side, panting. Then he looked up and smiled, still breathing heavily. He was in stone washed jeans, his favorite red pull-over sweater, and the boots he had almost completely worn out. When he stood straight again I noticed he had gloves on also.
“So,” he said, “we have to protect the Enchanter for a minute, huh?” he looked at his chronometer, and frowned.
“Yeah, kid, there's something I gotta tell you—” I started but he interrupted me.
“Hey, what gives? My watch stopped!” He took off his chronometer, and started to bang it against the embankment. He checked it once, twice...
“Stop doing that!” I yelled, “Before it really stops.” I suppressed a sigh as he put it back on. But his eyes were asking me to explain. I didn't suppress this next sigh. “It's fine. It's just not working the way it...'normally' does. It's the thirteenth hour...your seconds are minutes now.”
I waited. He looked at his chronometer, and after some time he raised his eyebrows. He saw it. He looked at me, smiled warily, and chuckled disbelievingly. “Wha—?”
I smiled back. I liked this kid, he was smart, cunning, and he didn't shy away from my smile. Which is saying something, because it meant he wasn't scared of my scaled skin, my black talons, or other wise quite frightening features either.
“C'mon, I'll explain on the way to the Enchanter's hovel.” Well, some hovel. It was large, and and decorated delicate artifacts to the point where it looked like the great tombs of the pharaohs of old. The kid's name for it might be more appropriate. He called it a Man-Shun. The Enchanter hardly ever allowed other men, even little ones like the kid, into his hovel.
We were at the large wooden doors of the Enchanter's Man-Shun, the kid dropped the knockers three times—I didn't quite reach—and looked at me.
“So all those people we just passed, they couldn't see me because I traveling sixty times faster than them?” he asked, eyes bright with wonder.
“Yeah,” I said. “That and humans have been blocking out most of the magic in the world for ages now.”
He looked thoughtful for a minute, well a sixty-ith of a second, then prepared to ask another question, but just then the giant wood door creaked open. Standing inside of it was an ugly looking goblin I did not like at all. And when I say ugly, I mean even by our standards. He eyed me with absolute hatred... I've told him what I think of his looks a number of times.
“Neglim,” he growled.
“Ordo,” I spat. Then he looked at the boy, the ugly thing was his height. But I wasn't so jealous when I saw the kid wrinkle his nose in repulsion.
“The master is waiting for you,” he said. After one last poisonous glance at me he turned on his heels and lead the way. Pompous pet, I thought bitterly, as we passed giant window after giant window, and dusty artifact after dusty artifact. I had to jump up the stairs two at a time to keep up with them, and was nearly out of breath when we stopped in front of another door. Ordo walked in to announce our arrival, and reappeared behind his master. Another thing I liked about the kid, we walked side by side.
“Well,” the Enchanter began, “glad you could make it.” He lead us inside the chamber. “I'll only have forty seconds to do the summons, so I'm glad you already know the extent of your assignment.” The kid looked at me questioningly. I glanced at the summoner's circle and among the many intricate enchantments I saw a few extra shielding charms, and told the boy. He nodded understanding.
The Enchanter clapped his hands together and looked at us, “So, we ready?” Ordo bowed, the kid and I just nodded. Then the Enchanter walked to the summoner's circle and fell to his knees so slow I could have run under him at least fifty times before he touched the ground.
I slowly walked to the window and left Ordo and the boy to guard the door. For thirty minute by our time nothing had happened, but instead of relaxing and thinking good pay for no work, I grew uneasy. A summons of a being as powerful as the one the Enchanter was after didn't happen unnoticed, and something was bound to turn up and try to stop it.
Two minutes later I could hear the Enchanter's mumbled incantations. Damn. This late into the summons would definitely mean loads of trouble. The gate to the other world opened and I grew even more agitated as I could make out the words in the other language. It got to the point where every breath caught with worry, and every exhale felt like my last.
Then, to my bittersweet relief, the long angular face of a land eel appeared at the window. It hissed and swam through the glass into the room. I made a grab for it but it dodged into the floor boards. It's head bobbed up half way to the Enchanter and kept swimming through the wood. I spat a quick spell to cancel the enchantment the land eels used to swim through solid objects. I walked over to where it was thrashing it's head, snapping it's jaws uselessly, gripped it's neck, and tugged it free from the part of it's body that was trapped in the floor.
I looked up and saw the kid slowly walking toward me. I shook my head and motioned for him to go back to the door. Just in time too. There was a crash, followed by the sound of the footsteps of something big walking up the staircase. This was what I was afraid of.
Ordo was slowly moving away and to the side of the door way, but the kid was staring at the door. I cursed silently, and stepped forward to pull him back by his shirt. He looked down at me, saw my face—which no doubt had fear written on it in capital letters—and drew his knife as he, too, drew away from the door way.
The large wooden door crashed in and exposed an ogre. Big, slow, dangerous, and—I can't believe it—uglier than Ordo. It only looked at us, then closed a forth of the distance to the Enchanter with a single step. The three of us sprang into action, and flew at the ogre, cutting, scratching, biting, and dodging it's ponderous attempts at retaliation. Those few minutes were endless, and no matter how deep we dug our knifes, claws, and teeth, it didn't seem to do anything to the ogre but keep it's attention from the Enchanter. Then the ogre tossed the kid over the Enchanter's head and across the room. After cutting the ogre near the eyes I chanced a glance at the kid. He had picked himself and was staring at his chronometer. He smiled, and relief practically puddled around his boots.
The world shattered, and the ogre and Ordo stopped fighting and looked at the Enchanter. Or rather what was in front of the Enchanter.
A demon of shadow and fire.
The ogre tried to run away but the demon had it in seconds. It ended it with it's evil breath, and began to dine on it.
The kid and I caught eyes, nodded and went to the Enchanter quickly to receive our pay. We were careful to explain that we meant nothing by our hasty departure, we just didn't want to be around if the demon decided it wanted desert. The Enchanter payed us in the human's paper money, and, after a quick “a pleasure, Enchanter” and a mocking fare well to Ordo, we dashed to the 24-hour diner; where it was hamburgers, french fries, and bacon galore. Then we made ourselves comfy at the hobo park, our stomachs full, and pockets heavy with paper money.