Chapter Fifteen Continued
Souls and Shadows
Drake looked at the spirit and a smirk played across his lips, ’If this works, Pyro’s right, you are a genius!’
‘So how do we do this?’ asked Willow, a wide smile on her face.
‘Yeah, I mean, if it’s a raging tornado how are we supposed to stay, you know, alive?’ asked Pyro, his face now looking panic-stricken as he began to consider what they were about to do.
‘That’s the tricky bit-’
‘We can dive under there,’ said Willow pointing to a cleft in the earth underneath the roots of a large de-robed oak tree.
‘Well, it’s better than nothing,’ shrugged Drake,
Quickly they clambered into the small hole at the foot of the tree, along with the rotting leaves, the scuttling centipedes, gigantic woodlice and the petrifying bones of the dead.
‘Are you sure about this?’ asked Willow, kicking half a skull away with her pump.
‘Not really, but what else have we got? Just do it.’
‘Sorry,’ whispered Willow to the green spirit who was banging its fists on the inside of the glass shouting ‘Let me out!’ Holding it firmly in her hands she gave the jar a good shake.
The spirit screamed and flew into a rage, whirring around the jar and expanding in size. The jar shook violently in Willow’s hands as the spirit turned from green to yellow, to red, to deep blue and then it settled on the colour of the stormiest sky. Willow managed to hold it firm until she heard the glass crack then she threw it to the ground shouting at Drake and Pyro to hold on tight.
The sound of smashing glass was completely drowned out by the Rarog’s roar, it was like a giant engine beginning to power up as it transformed into a black churning wind, a terrifying monster of Vengeance.
Drake’s eyes were forced shut as dust and bone were whipped up around him. Somewhere above him, there was a crack as a branch was wrenched away from its trunk. Willow grabbed onto his arm just as the storm hit them fully, lashing at them like a thousand whips. He could hear nothing but the rage of the beast as dust and debris were hurled at the prison-like structure that had so far protected them, but he could not predict how long they could withstand the power of the storm.
The Rarog expanded rapidly, gathering trees, branches and bones as it devoured the Land of the Dead. Drake felt it bite at the roots of the oak and he could hear the cracks as it tore huge pieces of wood from around them. It seemed like an eternity as they sat, huddled together, under the finger-like roots of the great oak as the storm raged around them. The Rarog continued its roaring rampage of vengeance until, gradually, it moved off into the distance accompanied by a chorus of agonised screams as it gorged itself on the Souls of the Damned.
They waited anxiously in their prison until they could hear the storm no more, except for the murmurs of it remaining in the air, like memories. Only then did they feel safe to emerge from their refuge.
‘Geez, that was windier than me!’ exclaimed Pyro dragging himself off the floor, ‘and that’s saying something. Yez alright?’ he said, turning to Willow.
Willow nodded. ’I think so,’ she said, removing a twig from her pink hair.
‘Drake?’ asked Pyro.
‘Yeah, nothing ripped off anyway.’
‘So I guess we should bust a move before it comes back, eh? Don’t fancy being here when it returns,’ said Pyro grimacing. ‘Too much wind can kill you, you know. I used to know a guy, who knew a guy, who died from eating too many sprouts. Tragic it was, the way he went.’
Drake could see the black funnel of the tornado cutting a path through the Forest of Suffering, towards the Sorrow Mountains, its lower half surrounded by an almost translucent maelstrom of dust, debris, trees and bones. The Iron fortress was clearly visible now, a few miles away at the end of the Valley of Death, behind a rolling expanse of grassland, The Burning Fields, peppered with bubbling and spitting pools of mud that smelt like rotten eggs.
The journey through the Burning Fields was swift and all too soon they were confronted by the great wooden doors of the Iron Fortress. Drake knew that nothing could prepare them for what lay ahead, for now, they were to meet Death itself.
The great doors slowly creaked open.
They had made it to the Fortress. Quickly they slipped through the crack in the doorway and into the unknown realm beyond.