The Heartless Knight

Carson kissed him back and held if hand to her face tears of joy running down her cheek. "no im not you are, now that you got me back for it there will be no more of u trying to die on me" at his worda she looked at the orb and nodded "help me get him up." she said and moved to put his arm around her shoulders to help him stand.

Coop looked at his hands as if he were now one of the miracle workers in the group. But when he saw the orb, he knew he didn’t give that to Gus. So, the healing came from somewhere else. He smiled and shouted, “Well hallelujah, you’re back. Now let’s get our asses outta here and find the others.”

He heard gun shots. In a normal place, it would have directed them to the others. However, the sounds echoed and bounced off the cavern walls, they could be coming from anywhere.

“Carson and Gus,” Coop said looking at her, “look out with your radar and find Allison for us.” Thankfully, he was with them. Their extra sense could find the others.

Gus peered down the dark corridor. There was nothing but black. Then, suddenly, Vargas appeared in front of him and Carson.

"This way." Vargas told them, walking down the corridor with absolute certainty.

"Shit, Vargas! You scared the hell outta me." Gus said.

"Sorry about that but we don't have time to play 'Mazerunner' here." Vargas said. He looked to Coop and nodded. "Howdy, I'm Vargas. An old friend of Gus's."

"He can't see or hear you I thought." Gus said, confused.

"The energy of this place and the crazy bad mojo fueling it are... well let's say it's illuminating me." Vargas said. "Come on guys, we need to get to the others and to that heartstone. That evil witch is almost to it." He started back down the corridor. The others followed.

---

Dirty Dan looked at Simon. “You a ghostbuster, son? Who ya gonna call?” He cackled away, then made the sound of a siren, “Wee Woo, Wee Woo, Wee Woo!”

“You should really stay off that for a while. Keep it elevated,” Jen told Simon. The truth was, he would probably be fine, but Jen needed someone to help her stay sane, with all the craziness about her at the moment. She filled Simon’s glass.

It had been around their fifth or sixth shot. Simon was feeling pretty good despite the situation. He chuckled and nursed his leg somewhat before looking to Dirty Dan.

"Tell me ya got some good prospectin' songs for us? Come on! Give us a song ya old geezer!"

---

When the wight began to rush at Allison, Jackson had to remind himself that it wasn’t real. The thing knew Allison was the one who could really see it. Still, Jackson didn’t like it rushing at Allison. He pushed Allison out of the way at the last second. Looking the wight in the eye, Jackson lifted his gun and fired at the ceiling. It was the last place she had looked.

“The ceiling!” Jackson shouted.

Hunter and Kelli began to fire up at a gray blob. They too couldn’t see any distinguishing features, but had learned to trust the sight.

There was a deep rumble which shook the cathedral and the nazguul shrieked in fury as the group's rounds found their mark on the tulpa hiding behind the veil. Allison recovered from Jackson's rescue and turned her sidearm on the tulpa as well. It was getting damaged.

The nazguul began to fade along with the tulpa's power.

Then something unexpected happened.

The tulpa's tentacular appendages tore open the veil it was hiding behind and pushed themselves into the real realm for all to see. They began to pull the rest of the creature through in a desperate bid to kill its attackers and stay alive. It was such a horrendous violation of the laws of reality that through Allison's eyes she could almost see the fabric of their space-time continuum shudder under the weight of such a violation.

"What the fuck is that???" Freddy exclaimed before firing at the arms of the creature.

"The true tulpa!" Allison told them. "It's trying to stop us with everything it's got!"

Freddy emptied his shotgun at the thing then threw the SPAS when it was dry. "I'm out!"

The slide on Allison's sidearm locked. "Me too!"

It looked like everyone was close to running out of ammo. A tentacular arm lunged at Allison as she reached for the only remaining weapon in her arsenal: her dad's old pocket knife. She closed her eyes and waited for the pain to start.

Instead another shot rang out. Allison opened her eyes and looked to the source which was back where they had come from.

And there stood Gus, Carson, and Coop. Gus had his revolver up and pointed at the tulpa's now decimated appendage, which was crackling and smoking as if something like lightning had struck it.

It shrieked and recoiled away from the group.

Gus fired again. The revolver erupted with a blast of green fire which sailed across the room and impacted the main mass of the tulpa with a similar, devastating effect. The green flames engulfed the creature as it tried to retreat back into its plane of existence, but by then it was too late. The tulpa was reduced to glowing green cinders.

"My man!" Freddy whooped and went over to Gus. However he paused when he noticed that Gus's eyes were glowing green, and were no longer human-looking. Taking on the characteristics of that of an octopus eye. "The hell happened to you?"

Gus's eyes reverted to normal with a blink and he looked to his other hand which was still around Carson for support. In that hand, though, was the glowing green orb.

"Got some help from a friend." Gus told everyone, glancing over to where Vargas had suddenly materialized.

"Good to see ya guys again," Vargas said with a wave. "But now's not the time to celebrate. Jessica is at the heartstone, we've got to stop her."

---

Nodia frowned she almost sounded like they were the bad guys here. "so what are they then? " she asked. She herd a steady thumping sound that was growing the cave walls almost vibrating with the sound. It sounded ominous and like a warning making the hair on her arms and neck stand up. She didnt realy want to get closer to the sound but that was where crazy lady was taking them.

"Some think they're the Next Step. Humanity Plus. That is born of ignorant optimism. They are not human. Not after being exposed to what they've been exposed to. That Sight... it is just the tip of the iceberg compared to what they truly are. There are things mankind was not meant to see, and somehow they were able to see it, and now they are changed." Jessica didn't much care if she made sense to the girl, that was the truth.

She pressed on until the corridor opened up into a massive chamber with glowing glyphs illuminating the space in a eerie red glow. It looked like a massive magma chamber almost with the jagged black rocks which seemed to swirl in seemingly unnatural ways. In the center was a tall, stone pillar about ten feet in height. It was perfectly cylindrical and was glowing with a similar red glow that pulsed with each deep "thump" which emanated from it.

"The heartstone." Jessica said with a smirk. "The heart of the mandala. The key to controlling the flow of cosmic energies which flow through the rift that formed here at the dawn of time." She produced the dagger. "All that power... will be mine!"

She took a few steps towards the heartstone before another set of heavy footprints sounded alongside hers. She stopped and looked around, not seeing anything. The footfalls stopped as well. Jessica remained still, waiting for whatever it was to continue walking, but eventually continued to approach the heartstone with the dagger in hand.

Then there was a loud thump behind her and before she could even turn around a massive sword sliced Jessica's hand off. She screamed and fell back as the hand carrying the dagger clattered to the ground.

Using a spell to bind the wound she turned and managed to dodge the second swing of the sword, which almost cleaved her in two. She hissed and glared at her attacker with newfound rage in her eyes.

"Of course... How did I manage to forget about you?" Jessica said as she worked to cast a shield in front of her as she took in the sight of the towering figure in front of her.

It was a knight, almost twelve feet tall wielding a massive sword which was pulsing with the same red light from the heartstone.

"The First Sacrifice. First Son of Baker. The Heartless Knight." Jessica named the entity.

The knight didn't respond, it merely began to advance on Jessica. It swung at her magical shield and shattered it. Jessica summoned bolts of light which then sailed towards the knight and impacted it with enough force to stagger it somewhat. But it remained determined to fulfill it's duty: to kill any who trespassed the chamber of the heartstone.

Jessica continued to pelt the knight with magic missiles but they seemed to only annoy it. She desperately summoned another shield around herself just before the knight's sword landed a killing blow. But even then, it was only delaying the inevitable.

The shield shattered like glass around Jessica as she cowered in the corner she found herself trapped in. Then she looked up at the knight just as it brought the sword down onto her. There was a loud metallic clang and a soft crunch as bones were cut and crushed and a sickening wet sound as blood splashed onto the floor.

There was a moment of silence as the knight glanced down at its handiwork. And then it turned its gaze to Nodia and started to approach...

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