Chapter Thirty One
“The Repurposed!” Porter shouted, but it was too late. The Slayers didn’t have time to stop, and they charged straight into the army of brainwashed Mythics. The Repurposed didn’t need to be told what to do, they immediately began hacking and slashing at every black-coated warrior in sight.
“No!” Azkular shouted in dismay as the Slayers, given no choice, began to fight back. Without waiting for Porter’s order, the djinn charged straight into the midst of the battle. Porter let him go, and Droma followed a few steps behind. There were far more Repurposed Mythics than Porter would have thought possible. It actually matched the Slayer’s army in size.
Off to the side, the crowd of humans finally began to panic now that violence had broken out. Many of them tried to run, but Mortoph saw them and pointed them out. A hundred Repurposed Mythics broke away from the rest and chased after the defenseless people.
Sarah came to stand beside him.
“We did it,” Porter thought numbly, watching the chaos unfold. “We actually turned everyone against Mortoph.”
“We’re not done yet, though,” Sarah told him, summoning Flicker again. “We still have to beat him.”
Porter shot her a worried glance. “Are you ready for this?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be!” she answered, and put herself into a fighting position.
“All right, let’s do it!”
With that, Porter raised his sword and charged at Mortoph, Sarah matching him step for step. The Master Slayer turned away from the battle just in time to see them coming, and swung his massive sword around. As one, Porter and Sarah leaped over the blade and swung their swords at him. Mortoph retaliated with inhuman speed, somehow blocking both attacks at once. His sword collided with theirs, and with a might shove he sent them both flying. Porter flipped himself in midair so that he was facing Mortoph even as he fell, extended his wings, and the wind came to life, pushing him back towards the Slayer even faster than he had been going away from him. Porter closed the distance between them in less than a second— and Mortoph vanished. Porter streaked past the place where he had just been standing, but his flight was suddenly halted when a large hand grabbed him by the neck.
“You can’t beat me, Porter!” Mortoph snarled, raising the chimera into the air. Porter swung his sword desperately, but Mortoph blocked every attack with his other hand. The world began to swim in front of Porter’s eyes. He couldn’t breathe!
“I thought I told you that last night when we fought inside your head,” he went on, bringing Porter in closer to him.
“I know… what you are…” Porter gasped, his face beginning to turn blue.
“Do you?” the Master Slayer asked. “You have no idea what the full extent of my power is. Here, let me show you.”
What struck Porter next wasn’t a wave of fear— it was an entire ocean! Terror flooded every inch of Porter’s being, from his skin, to his bones, to his very soul. It was meaningless horror, directed at nothing, and yet terrifying him beyond rational thought at the same time. If he had been able to think clearly, he would have realized that this was the same way Mortoph had killed his own father. It felt like his blood was freezing inside his veins. His fingers went numb, and he dropped his sword. There was nothing he could do except stop struggling and wait for it all to end…
Suddenly, Mortoph let out a scream of pain, and dropped him. Porter hit the ground gasping for air, his mind still reeling from the Fear Feeder’s attack. He shook his head, forcing it to become clear again, and looked at Mortoph. The Master Slayer was clutching his side in pain, and behind him stood Sarah with her hands wrapped around Flicker’s pommel— the blade buried up to the hilt in Mortoph’s side. Blood pooled from the wound, almost invisible against the black fabric of his coat.
“Wretched… creature!” Mortoph cried, and spun around, wrenching the sword out of Sarah’s grip and slapping her across the face. Sarah’s head snapped to the right under his supernatural strength, and she flew twenty feet before rolling to a stop. The moment she landed, Flicker disappeared.
“Sarah!” Porter shouted, but before he could run to her he found Mortoph’s sword at his throat.
“There they are!”
Gwinn skidded to a halt on the soft forest grass and looked where his son was pointing. The wampus cat had run for over an entire day without stopping, following the trail Porter, Sarah, and their friends had left. Now it seemed they had finally caught up to them— just in time for the big battle between the Slayers and the Mythics.
The scene before them was puzzling, though. The Slayers were already fighting against an army of Mythics, but a second Mythic army stood motionless at the other end of the field, as if they weren’t sure what to do.
“They’re the Repurposed!” Tick said suddenly. “Mortoph did something to make them obey him!”
Gwinn turned to look at Tick over his shoulder. “Son, are you sure you want to do this? It’s going to be very dangerous out there.”
“Porter and Sarah are out there somewhere,” he answered. “I have to help them!”
Gwinn nodded and, reaching back, drew his longsword from its sheath. It glinted in the sunlight as he held it in both hands, ready to put it to use.
“Very well, then. But stay on my back the whole time. I don’t want you getting separated from me in the middle of the battle.”
For once, Tick didn’t argue as his father charged into the violence. He crossed the field in no time flat, looking like nothing more than a white blur, and swung his sword just as he reached the first Mythic. The flat of the blade connected with its head, and it fell down, unconscious.
“Don’t kill them!” a familiar voice shouted from nearby. Tick turned to see Azkular there as well, spinning and flipping as he laid waste to the Repurposed Mythics around him. His knives whirled around him in a blur, but never once did they cut anyone. In the distance, Tick could see Droma fighting as well, swinging his gigantic axe like it only weighed as much as a stick.
“How do we beat them?” Gwinn demanded, trying to hold off two elves and a centaur at the same time.
“I don’t know!” the djinn yelled back. “I just… keep holding them off!”
Tick felt helpless sitting on his father’s back. Not only was he completely exposed should anyone decide to take a swipe at him, but he wasn’t able to do anything to help except point out enemies that Gwinn couldn’t see. A Slayer came at them now, swinging a heavy mace at Gwinn’s head, but the cat-man ducked underneath it and slammed the pommel of his sword into the Slayer’s face. The Slayer collapsed in a heap.
“Get him!” another one shouted, and three more Slayers came charging at him.
The wampus cat spun around to face them, and took a deep breath. Before Tick could wonder what he was doing, he let it all out again in a long, deafening roar. The Slayers in front of him froze, unable to move, and then fell to the ground.
Tick looked up at his father with a new respect. “Whoa!” he exclaimed. “You have the Angel’s Voice too?”
Gwinn turned and gave him a rare smile. “Who did you think you got it from, your mother?”
Before he could say anything else, Gwinn was forced to turn his attention back to the fight. A Pegasus galloped up to him and reared back, trying to kick him. Gwinn reacted the same way, rearing back onto his hind paws to aim a solid blow at the winged horse’s head. In doing so, he caused Tick to slide off his back with a yelp.
“Dad!” he shouted in fright when he struck the ground. The chimera child quickly got to his feet, but had to leap out of the way when a troll’s hammer came hurtling down at him, separating him from Gwinn even further. To the Repurposed, he was just as much a target as anything else.
“Tick, run!” Gwinn yelled as he struggled to overpower the burly troll. The troll’s hammer came up again, and struck the cat-man in the ribs, making him cry out in pain.
“Dad!” Tick yelled.
“Just run!” Gwinn said again, coughing up drops of blood.
Giving his father one last frightened look, Tick turned and ran, weaving in and out of the fighting Slayers and Mythics. At one point, a strange blue creature with eight hands swung a curved sword at him, but he nimbly ducked and rolled underneath the blade, and got back to his feet unharmed. It took several minutes, and several more close calls, but Tick finally managed to get to the edge of the fighting. Without looking back, he ran into the forest where it would be safer. After taking a moment to catch his breath, he went to the nearest tree and climbed up it as fast as he could. Once in the topmost branches, he finally turned to watch the battle below.
“Tick?” somebody behind him exclaimed, and he spun around in surprise, almost falling out of the tree.
“You’ve put up a good fight,” Mortoph admitted, holding the tip of his blade less than an inch from Porter’s throat. “But it’s like I keep telling you: you never had a chance.”
Trying to move as little as possible, Porter looked behind the Master Slayer, where Sarah was slowly picking herself up off the ground.
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“It hurt,” came her answer, and he saw her holding her chest with one hand. “I think he cracked my ribs!”
Nervous sweat dotted Porter’s brow. Sarah’s armor may have been unbreakable, but she wasn’t. If Mortoph hit her hard enough, it could still damage her body underneath the layer of protective metal.
“I’ll tell you what,” Mortoph said, bringing his attention back to him. “Since you’ve done so well, I’ll reward you with a quick death.”
The Master Slayer raised his sword, and brought it down at Porter. Reacting on instinct, Porter threw himself to the side. Mortoph’s sword grazed his pant leg as he went past, slicing through the fabric and cutting a shallow wound into his ankle. Porter winced, but forced himself to focus through the pain. He summoned the wind again, and launched himself upwards.
He was halted, though, when Mortoph’s hand reached up and grabbed him by the first handhold he could find: his pocket. Porter jerked to the side, his momentum thrown off. Without his sword, Porter could only punch at the Master Slayer’s giant fist. In desperation, he opened his wings and summoned an even stronger gust of wind.
Porter flew free of Mortoph’s grasp as the fabric of his pocket tore. He flipped over backwards twice before he managed to right himself— and then he realized he wasn’t the only thing flying through the air. Coming straight at him was a small vial of milky white liquid.
The Yin Potion! It had come free when his pocket ripped. Porter reached out and caught it just as the wind died, sending him falling back to earth. He landed catlike, his tail helping him keep his balance again, and looked up to see Mortoph charging at him, his sword raised. He reacted without thinking about it, and threw the Yin Potion at him.
Mortoph caught the vial, his fist closing around it so tightly that it shattered the glass. At first, he kept coming at Porter, but then his expression changed. To Porter’s disbelief, he stopped running, and looked down at his hand in confusion.
The white potion stained his palm, but there was also a bead of red where the broken glass had pricked him. Mortoph looked up at Porter in shock…
Then his fist pulsed.
Like a heartbeat, his hand suddenly grew bigger and then immediately shrank again. It happened again, and then again, the skin turning a darker shade of red every time. Porter stared wide eyed in horror.
“What did I do?” he asked, taking a step backwards. “What’s happening?”
“I don’t know!” Sarah answered, her thoughts carried on a wave of fear.
Then Mortoph leaned his head back and laughed! The sound carried across the entire battlefield, loud and maniacal, and the battle around him slowed as everyone turned to look. Even the Repurposed seemed taken aback.
Mortoph continued to laugh as his body pulsed again. This time his entire arm swelled, tearing the sleeve of his black coat to ribbons. The skin had turned as red as blood. Before Porter’s eyes, it lengthened, and long black claws emerged to tip his fingers. The rest of his body followed suit, his muscles growing larger and larger until they burst free of his clothing. His bones extended as he swelled, and he grew taller. A wave of terror washed over the entire battlefield, making everyone, human and Mythic, cower in fear.
“You fool!” Mortoph howled with delight, his voice becoming deeper, more guttural. Porter could feel power in that voice, enough to make the ground beneath him tremble.
Black spikes erupted from the skin on his back, tearing the remains of his black coat to shreds. He was already more than twenty feet tall, and still growing. He opened his mouth as his teeth sharpened themselves to wicked fangs, and roared. His voice didn’t even sound remotely human anymore.
“You’ve given me exactly what I wanted!” he declared, his height now reaching fifty feet. “You’ve freed me!”
Mortoph’s face deformed itself, seeming to simultaneously expand and collapse in on itself, and two sharp black horns burst out of his scalp, leaving the creature completely unrecognizable as the Master Slayer. He extended the hand the potion had gone into, and Porter saw a man-sized white bump appear in the center of its palm. It burst, and a man fell out of it, landing on the ground by the monster’s foot.
That was when Porter realized what he had done. Just like Yang Potion separated a good person from his bad side, Yin Potion separated an evil man from his good side. The man that had fallen out of the monster’s hand was none other than Drake Mortoph, exactly the same as the day he’d been possessed.
“Uthas Drall has returned!” the fear feeder roared, burying the battlefield in a hurricane of terror.
NEXT TIME: You thought it was over? This fight is only just beginning. What happens next? You'll have to be here next week to find out!