Sorry for the delay! I was planning on updating sooner but my dear laptop was PMSing again. Anyways, enjoy the final chapter and of course, HAPPY NEW YEAR (more than a week later) to all!
The poisoned blades sank even deeper in his body, driven by the hands of the cloaked men. But Ethan could no longer feel the pain – the physical one, at least. Time had stopped for him as he stared blankly at the unmoving body of the woman he had come to love. The realization of what that meant hit him hard; he would never watch her studying again, never see her smile, never listen to her telling him he was not a monster. He would never hold her again and would never make love to her. The only reason for him being alive, besides revenge, was lost. All was lost.
And all because of those humans. Because of that man that was now standing up with the help of his subordinates. As Ethan watched Kirk Olson coughing and rubbing his bitten throat, his grief and sorrow were quickly replaced by a more violent emotion. Rage consumed him. Kirk Olson the first had taken him away from his family, tortured him and finally forced him to turn into the inhuman monster he now was. And now, three generations later, his descendant had taken away from him the only hope in his life, the only creature he found solace by her side; Erica.
A growl started low in his throat and got louder as it made its way up. When Ethan opened his mouth, a howl that sounded like it came from the depths of Hell itself filled the tower. All eyes had already turned to him. Surprised and a little more that frightened, the men pushed the blades deeper. But no blade was going to stop the Reith now. Ethan's eyes glowed red. A second later, one of the men that was holding him down with the spear, screamed. Something black and slimy was coming out of the Reith's body and moving along the spear, towards their holders. As soon as it came in contact with the first one, the man let out a shriek and stepped back. But the black slime was already on him. It spread along his hand and arm, scorching the flesh where it touched it. The man screamed and tried to wipe it from him, but the only thing he achieved was a chunk of flesh from his forearm to fall off.
Two more of the men were having the same fate. The rest of the cult members were watching wide-eyed. They had thought that they had the Reith down; a very wrong guess. A deadly guess. They were now going to pay for that mistake.
The ruler of the Otherworld slowly rose to his feet, the blades still sticking out from his body, the blood gashing out from the poisoned wounds, black and thick. But that didn't matter; what mattered was those people. He would make sure not one of them would get alive out of here. Even though he knew their screams of suffering wouldn't do much to alleviate his grief, they would at least appease his hate, even a little.
Ethan began removing the blades from his body, the black blood dripping profusely from the deep wounds. As Kirk Olson shouted several curses and orders, Ethan raised his hands. The symbols the cult members had drawn on the walls suddenly caught on fire; a dark, green fire. The flames jumped to the floor and started burning lively, even on the granite floor. They danced around as if on their own accord. The cult members were rapidly panicking by now. Most of them started running towards the gate they had come from. But Ethan wouldn't allow that; pointing a long finger towards the gate, he whispered some breathy words. Granite formed almost instantly, blocking the opening.
At the same time, several men were approaching him reluctantly under Olson's orders. Their blades pointed at the Reith, sharp and poisoned. A sick, crooked smile stretched Ethan's face. He was glad Erica wouldn't get to witness the sight of the fate he was planning for them. A gesture from his left hand and the floor creaked under the men's feet. A moment later, several tentacles of granite shot up from the ground. Some of them wrapped around the men's legs and torsos, while others simply pierced through their bodies. Their screams of agony were like music to Ethan's ears. Another gesture of his hand and the tentacles caught on fire. The green flames wrapped the men, too, slowly eating at their flesh. The screams intensified and Ethan grinned as he watched the writhing bodies were slowly charred.
He turned his head around in search for his next target. He couldn't see Olson but he spotted a large group of humans gathered in front of the sealed gate. One of them, who was dressed slightly different, was chanting something to the closed gate. Ethan recognized his clothing as the High Magistrate's cloak. His eyes narrowed, teeth gritting. His predecessor had tormented him greatly back in the day when they were trying to turn him into the Reith.
Ethan strode towards them, trying to think of a most sadistic way to kill them. Just then, the Magistrate's chanting brought results and a crack appeared on the granite. The others started attacking the wall, trying to break through. Not caring about them for the time being, Ethan pushed them aside as he went for the Magistrate. Once the man realized the Reith was after him, he tried to make a run for it. But before he could take two steps, tall spikes bolted from the floor, blocking his way. The man gave a startled yelp and tried to change course and get away, but Ethan was already behind him. He grabbed him by the throat and lifted him up. The man screamed and kicked his legs in the air.
"No… no, please!" he begged miserably. Ethan simply grinned and shot his hand to the man's open, screaming mouth. His fingers caught the man's tongue and he pulled hard until the flexible muscle tore off. The magistrate continued to scream unintelligibly as Ethan tossed the still writhing tongue away. He then drove his whole hand through the man's chest. When he brought it out again, he was holding the still pumping heart in his hand. The man's body went limp and Ethan threw him down. He glared at the heart in his hand and it immediately burst into green flames. Ethan's eyes went to the humans who were already crawling through the small opening that had been created on the wall. Grinning wryly, he brought this arm back, then hurled the burning heart past them and through the opening. Screams sounded from the other side of the gate.
Then Ethan turned around. Enough with those pathetic worms; he had to find the true culprit and wreak his wrath on him. He wouldn't kill him off that fast; no, he would make sure Kirk Olson would suffer a slow, agonizing death for what he and his ancestors had done. He scanned the tower with his crimson eyes. Among the humans that were running around, screaming and wrapped in flames, he found him. Kirk Olson was standing in the middle of the tower alone. He didn't seem panicked and out of control like everyone else. On the contrary, he was standing still and waiting. Ethan noticed he was holding something in his hand. He didn't care; Olson was his.
With long, determined strides, he walked over to the target of his hatred. Olson, his feet set apart and rooted steadily on the ground, raised the long object he was holding. When Ethan came to stand a few feet away from him, he realized the man was holding a weapon that looked to be something between a sword and a spear. Its hilt was long and looked golden but what was more impressive was the blade; large, crescent-shaped and white. The Reith's eyes gleamed as he realized he had seen this object before – nearly eighty years before. A faded memory flashed through his mind…
He was in one of his 'lessons' with Sean Rilley, the High Magistrate of the cult. The man was going on and on about the Otherworld again when Ethan had spotted a weird looking object on the nearby table. It was half covered by a sheet, but the shiny, white blade had caught his attention. When Rilley noticed his 'student' wasn't paying the necessary attention to his teachings, he hit him with the long switch he was holding. Ethan still remembered the man's words:
"This is the ultimate weapon against the Otherworld. Our only defense, but a very powerful one. Remember that when you become the Reith."
"I won't become the Reith!" Ethan had objected, earning himself another blow.
So Kirk Olson was meaning to kill him, didn't he? A crooked smile twisted Ethan's face. Might as well try. After all, he didn't care anymore. But before he died, he wanted to make sure Olson was going down, too. That retched man had destroyed his only opportunity in happiness. Now Ethan would destroy his dream in return.
The Reith stomped his right foot down with a thud. Almost immediately, the ground quaked under their feet and a part of the floor began lifting from its surface, forming a long spear. Ethan extended his hand and gripped the granite weapon as it lifted. He swirled it in his hand until it pointed at the man before him. Red eyes narrowed.
"I will be the winner, Reith!" Olson clamored and lunged forward.
Ethan easily dodged the attack. But as he stepped past the reach of Olson's spear, he felt a strange numbing sensation spreading through his body. He frowned and tightened his grip on his own weapon.
The two men circled each other, exchanging glares of hate, as the green flames danced wildly around them. Olson's face looked almost deformed as he stared at his opponent with eyes widened from a mixture of anticipation, excitement and high alertness. His brow was sweating, his mouth twisted in something that reminded distantly of a smile. He almost didn't look scared at all, considering he was battling with the Reith himself. The strange, long weapon he was gripping tightly in both hands seemed to fill him with confidence and assurance.
He attacked again, aiming at the Reith's chest. Ethan evaded the attack again, but as the spear flew close to his body, he saw its blade gleaming white. The numbing sensation intensified and he suddenly felt exhausted. The feeling was overwhelming, unexpectedly intense, having not felt it for almost a century. During all these years he lived as the Reith, not once did he feel pain, exhaustion or weakness. But now the wounds that still bled, unable to be cured due to the poison spreading through his body, were taking their toll on him. And as he realized quickly, the spear his enemy was wielding against him was making it a lot worse. Just what was that thing and what were its powers?
The third time Olson attacked, Ethan was much slower in his reaction. He barely dodged the blade as it came down on him. His fury burned above the pain he was feeling. No, he wouldn't let that accursed man kill him so easily and achieve his goal! He lifted his free hand and mentally commanded the granite to form spikes and stab the man. But as the vicious spikes rose from the ground and aimed at the man, Olson waved the spear in the air and sliced them.
Ethan's eyes widened in surprise. Shock filled him as he watched the maimed tips fall to the ground and writhe a bit before stilling. Impossible! His eyes returned at the man before him, who was grinning evilly at his achievement. The blade in his hands glowed white. So, was that weapon powerful enough to be so effective in the Otherworld? Was it maybe specifically created to fight Otherworld and its creatures? And if so, would it be able to kill the Reith himself?
Ethan gritted his teeth, half from the pain he felt all over his body, half from the hatred he felt for that man. Even if he died, he had to kill Olson first. He had to!
Growling, Ethan lunged against his hated enemy. Their spears collided in mid air with a ringing clank. Olson's blade shone bright and the granite spear began melting. Ethan cursed and threw it aside, stepping back. Olson didn't lose any time and wielded his spear against him. Ethan had to back off until he lost his balance and fell on the ground. Just as Olson raised the blade and prepared for the final blow, Ethan sank his hand in the floor and drew out another spear. He lifted it above him just in time to block the deadly blade that was descending on him with full force.
The attack was stopped but the second spear cracked quickly under the white blade's power and fell from Ethan's hand. The white haired man let out a pained breath. It seemed all strength had left his body and he didn't even have the power to move anymore. He glared up at the man who towered over him. Olson grinned at him and lifted his blade one more time.
"Finally!" he shrieked like a madman. "The power of the Otherworld is mine! It's time for you to die!"
The man's eyes gleamed with crazed triumph, his teeth bared in a maniacal smile, as he prepared for the fatal strike.
The taxi stopped across the apartment building at Olson Street. The back door opened and Sheryl got out. Her mouth gaped as she looked up at the third floor. Thick, black smoke was coming out of the windows. Several fire-engines were parked all around the building and the firefighters were throwing water with the fire hoses, trying to put the fire under control.
The girl walked towards the building at least as far as the yellow tape put around the building by the firefighters would allow her. More people had gathered around the block to see what was happening.
Some people were being helped out of the building's front door by the firefighters at that moment. They were wrapped in blankets and coughing, shock and fear depicted on their faces. Sheryl prayed to see Erica coming out, too, but deep inside she knew it was rather unlikely. The fire on the third floor couldn't be just a coincidence; something had happened up there, in room 307. Maybe something with the cult.
Sheryl closed her eyes and brought both hands under her chin. She silently prayed for Erica.
The last two things Ethan felt were regret for dying in this man's hands without first taking his revenge and relief. Relief because he wouldn't stand living without her anyway. This way, maybe he would have the chance to meet Erica again in another world.
Then he noticed the slight quiver in Olson's stand. The smile froze and the victory in the man's eyes turned to surprise. His whole face became a grimace of confusion. His fingers still held the handle of his blade tight but the point wasn't coming down. Ethan looked at him with a frown. Then his eyed widened as he saw the face coming out from behind Olson's frozen body. Erica's smiling lips touched the man's ear.
"Time for you to die," she whispered.
Then she stepped back and let the man fall down with a heavy thud. One of the blades that had previously stabbed Ethan was poking out from his back. His fingers were still slackly wrapped around the shaft of his weapon, but the blade's white glow was already weakening. Erica kicked it away from Olson's hand and it glided several feet away over the granite floor where it stopped gleaming altogether.
Ethan raised his eyes to the woman as she slowly walked to him. She was very pale. Her hair was disheveled and bloody. Blood also stained her jaw and drenched her chest all around the big wound between her breasts. A wound that would never heal; it would stay open for the rest of eternity. But it would not hurt or bleed; it would just be a reminder of the way she died – and was then reborn. The woman looked more beautiful than ever, if that was possible.
His dried lips moved slightly but no sound came out. Erica came to him and knelt at his side. She ran a hand over his forehead, brushing the messy white strands from his face. She smiled at him warmly, the way only she could, and that smile seemed to chase the pain away from his body. A warm, snug feeling flooded him instead. Cradled in her embrace, he smiled back at her.
Sheryl watched as the last few flames were being extinguished. Some smoke was still flying from the half burnt building to the sky, where it was slowly dissolved. A television crew was reporting the sighting nearby. She could hear the reporter talking to the camera. "The fire fighters were trying all night to put out the fire that threatened to spread to the next building as well…"
Sheryl spotted a man in red uniform coming out of the building's front door and rushed to him.
"Excuse me!" she yelled as she ran towards him. She stopped him and looked at him with pleading eyes. "Please, in apartment 307… my friend was in there. I didn't see her coming out."
She didn't know how else to ask, so she just stared at him hopefully. The look in the man's eyes condemned all of her hopes.
"I'm sorry." he said, shaking his head, almost apologetically. "Everyone we found was brought out. Apartment 307 was the source of the fire. We…", he hesitated for a moment, "we found six bodies in 307. We don't know their identities yet, though. I'm sorry." he repeated and walked away.
Sheryl was left to stare off to nothing. Tears gathered in her eyes and started running down her cheeks. Four bodies… It had to be members of the cult. They had probably broken into her apartment and… and something had obviously happened and…
'If only I had come half an hour earlier…'
The girl covered her face with her hands as sobs of grief racked her whole body. She didn't even bother trying to stop herself from crying. Sometimes it was worth it. Especially in Erica's case. Crying for the tragic fate of that girl was certainly worth it. Even though she had only met her three months ago, it seemed to Sheryl as if she knew her much longer. Erica was an open-hearted person; kind, friendly and straight-forward. And brave, oh, so brave. She didn't deserve such a fate.
Sheryl dried her eyes with her sleeve and sniffed loudly. The small cry of a child drew her attention and she turned to the side. A red-haired woman and a girl of around seven years were sitting down on the edge of the pavement. The woman was stroking her daughter's hair tenderly.
"It's alright now." she was trying to calm the young girl. "It's over. We're safe."
"But… Erica…" the girl said between sobs.
"I know… I know…" the woman said and hugged the girl tightly.
More tears welled up in Sheryl's eyes, along with a smile this time. She wasn't the only one who cried for Erica. The girl had been loved by many people, even by that little girl.
Sheryl pushed her hands in the pockets of her jacket and turned her back to the still fuming building. As she walked away, she looked up at the sky, which was rapidly becoming brighter with the first light of the new day.
Erica watched the last of the green flames slowly die on the small island from over the shore. She leaned against the supporting shoulder at her side. The sky above them was unusually light for the Otherworld, the grass beneath them soft and cool. Erica drew in a deep breath and let it out as a prolonged sigh.
A pale hand caressed her cheek, drawing her attention to the man next to her. She turned her head slightly to the side and looked into a set of crimson eyes. She smiled at him.
"The connection is destroyed" Ethan said softly. "You can never go back again."
His voice sounded almost apologetic. He stared at her closely as if to understand her feelings.
Erica let out a small chuckle. "Even if I wanted to…" she started. Her fingers played idly on the wound on her chest. Water had washed out most of the crusted blood, but the cut remained, deep but without causing her any sort of pain. "I'm a creature of the Otherworld now," she finished.
Ethan's eyes lowered. "I'm sorry," he muttered.
The man's eyes abruptly returned to her face and he looked at her in surprise.
Erica stared off to the lake. "I feel bad for my parents and my brother," she admitted. "I know how sad they will be. I wish I could tell them that I'm alright. Well, more or less," she laughed as she looked down on her chest. "I also feel some regret about the things I didn't do back in my world. And the things I'm gonna miss. But if I was on the other side right now, I would never be able to come here again. Or you to come in my world. And so I would never be with you again." She stayed silent for some moments. "That's why I'm not sorry." She turned to him and stared deep into his eyes.
Ethan stared back at her. His lips parted slowly, as if he had a hard time believing her. "Erica…" he whispered.
Golden rays of light broke in the sky and Erica turned her head to the lake. The tip of a morning sun slowly arose from the horizon. The girl blinked, then turned to Ethan.
"The sun…" she murmured. She saw the man's face glowing with what seemed like true happiness. "I see now…" she said. "The Otherworld is molded according to its ruler's will. It's not necessarily always night, is it?"
Ethan simply smiled. He leaned in and placed a kiss on her lips. Erica closed her eyes and responded, smiling against his lips. A light push against her hand drew her attention and she turned around to see a blind dog rubbing its snout against her palm. Erica blinked at it but then smiled. She stroked the bald head and the dog let out a content growl. She realized these animals weren't as ugly as she had thought previously.
The cry of a bird made her turn her head around. On one of the branches of the tree that stood behind them, she saw a large bird, one of those that guarded the tower. It was perching on the thick branch and looking at the eastern horizon.
She turned her eyes to the man next to her again. Ethan smiled at her; Erica smiled back.
"I could get used to this world," she said, leaning to the side and resting her head on his shoulder.
Sitting next to the man she would love for the rest of eternity, she watched the first sunrise of her new home world.
And that was it! The end. Extra happy with a topping of looove. :3 Because happy endings are essential every now and then. lol Anyway, I do hope you liked it! I would like to thank each and every one of you who read and reviewed 'Sacrament'. Thanks guys! Not sure what I'm gonna do next. There's always 'Devil's Isle' which I have neglected a little bit (writer's block, what can you do?), and I've got some more ideas going. So, we'll see. :)