Read The Resuurection Fields Online

Authors: Brian Keaney

The Resuurection Fields

BOOK: The Resuurection Fields
7.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Between the pedestals of Night and Morning
,
Between red death and radiant desire
With not one sound of triumph or of warning
Stands the great sentry on the Bridge of Fire
.

James Elroy Flecker
,
The Bridge of Fire

CONTENTS

Prologue

Commander Belinski’s Dilemma

Osman

Kidu

The Beehive Huts

The Sumaire

The Funeral of Dr. Sigmundus

The Circle of Undoing

The Resurrection Fields

Enil’s Tree

The Chief Justice

The Traitor

The Duchess

Stones

The Forest of Secret Fears

The Great Flock

The Heart of Evil

The Hidden Path

The Bridge of Souls

Looking at the Stars

The Lizard’s Mouth

The Summoner

Epilogue

PROLOGUE

The storm that had raged over the south of Gehenna had finally blown itself out. On a cliff top overlooking a stretch of dark water, a girl in mud-stained clothes stood motionless, a look of shock and terror written across her face. She was staring at two figures a little way off, one lying on the ground, the other crouching nearby. The figure on the ground should have been familiar to every man, woman and child in Gehenna, for he was the leader of their nation. But most people, if they had been told that Dr. Sigmundus was nearby, would have expected to see a much younger man. The pictures of him that hung in official buildings everywhere in the land showed a man in his prime. In truth, however, it had been a very long time since Dr. Sigmundus was in his prime. Only supernatural power had sustained him for all these years, and now, as it drained away from his body, it became clear that he was really very old indeed.

Beside him, Dante Cazabon crouched and waited. He could hardly believe that the struggle was finally over. It had taken so long and cost so much. His friend Ezekiel Semiramis, who had rescued him from the asylum on Tarnagar and taught him about the secret world of the Odyll, was dead. And so was Luther, Dante’s brother, whose existence he had not even known about until recently. Indeed, the two of them had only just met, but what should have been a joyful occasion had turned to horror when Luther had tried to kill those who would have been his friends.

Not all of this was Dr. Sigmundus’s fault. The dictator had been treacherous, greedy and tyrannical. But he himself had long
ago fallen victim to a will far stronger than his own. A being from the depths of the Odyll, a dark current of energy, had possessed him, taking over his mind and body. The name of that being was Orobas, and if his plans had been successful, he would have taken possession of Dante in the same way. It was only the sacrifice of Luther that had defeated him. For rather than kill Dante, Luther had stepped off the edge of the cliff and fallen into the dark waters below.

Dante leaned closer to the body of Dr. Sigmundus. There could be no doubt about it. The old man’s eyes were closed and his breathing had stopped. Relieved, Dante let out a long sigh. Then he stood up. He felt no joy at the defeat of his enemy and spat on the ground in disgust.

In that instant Dr. Sigmundus’s eyes opened. His thin lips curved upwards in a twisted smile.

“I thank you for your hatred, Dante Cazabon. It was all the invitation I needed.”

It was the voice of Orobas. Dr. Sigmundus might be dead, but the creature that possessed his body was still undefeated.

Dante opened his mouth to reply, but instead his whole body shuddered as the creature began to transfer itself to him. He felt his true self shrinking and diminishing. Now he would lose his body and his mind forever. His words faltered. He heard himself screaming. But even as the inarticulate cry of terror tore itself from his lips, in a still place at the center of his mind, he heard his mother’s voice. “Remember, Dante,” she told him, “it is always now.”

Yashar Cazabon had been the first one to uncover the mysteries of the Odyll, and although she had been killed when Dante was only an infant, she had found a way to defy death and come to his aid when he faced his greatest challenges. Now, as she spoke each word with careful emphasis, he suddenly understood what she was trying to tell him. Time could be stretched infinitely. Each moment
could be divided again and again without end, and someone who had learned to unite himself with the power of the Odyll could move and act within that extended moment.

He reached into the Odylic realm and immediately sensed the great torrent that was time itself. It surged and boiled around him, like a mighty river, impelled by an endless drive towards the future. He summoned all his strength and held it back. As he did so, he was aware of his enemy’s will, angrily responding, determined to overcome his resistance.

He could not hold out against the fury of Orobas forever. They were like two animals that had locked horns, each driving against its opponent with all its might. Sooner or later one of them would weaken. Nor could the river of time be permanently stopped, only paused. He would have to find another way to overthrow his enemy.

Dante searched his mind for the place where he had heard his mother’s voice. There it was: the stillness at the center of the hurricane.

“How can I resist him?” he asked.

“You cannot,” she replied.

“Then all is lost?” Even as he spoke, he felt the obscene delight of Orobas and knew that his enemy sensed his disappointment.

“You are beaten,” Orobas whispered, his words insinuating themselves into Dante’s mind like a vile smell.

But his mother spoke again. “Listen to me,” she told him. “There is still one course of action open to you. There is a small white bird on a branch of the sycamore tree to your left.”

Dante turned and saw the tree she had indicated. It was not yet dawn but there was light enough to make out a bird sitting on a low branch, watching him with its beady eyes.

“Separate your mind from your body,” she continued, “and send it forth to take up residence within the body of the bird.”

“No!” Orobas hissed. His mind sought to close around Dante’s, as though he were catching a fly in his fist.

But Dante was too quick for him. He sent his thought out towards the bird, felt its tiny protest and its bewilderment at finding another being within its body. Then he watched, helpless, as the creature from the depths of the Odyll took possession of the empty body he had left behind.

When the girl on the cliff top heard the scream and saw Dante slump to the ground, she ran towards him, anxious to help. But as she drew nearer, something about the expression on her friend’s face made her hesitate. His eyes seemed full of hate.

“Dante?” she said. “Are you all right? It’s me, Bea.”

Dante got to his feet and lunged clumsily towards her, as though he were unable to control his body properly. Then his hands grasped her by the throat.

“I’m going to kill you,” he said, and his voice was as shocking as his words, for it was horribly distorted, as if his tongue had grown too big for his mouth.

Bea struggled furiously to fight him off, but his grip was like iron.

Suddenly a blurred shape appeared between them, and with a cry, Dante released his hold. A bird had appeared from nowhere, pecking at his face savagely, so that he was forced to flail about, trying to drive it away.

Bea did not wait for an explanation of what had just taken place. Sobbing with relief, she turned and fled into the darkness.

COMMANDER BELINSKI’S DILEMMA

Commander Belinski had been security chief of the southwestern region of Gehenna for nearly ten years, but in all that time he had never received an order like this one. He scratched his head and reread the letter, which had arrived by special delivery the night before. It still didn’t seem right. With a sigh he summoned his assistant, Gorky, who appeared in the office a moment later, clicking his heels and saluting energetically.

“I want your opinion,” Belinski told him.

Gorky nodded. “Certainly, sir.”

“This letter arrived yesterday,” Belinski continued. “It’s from Dr. Sigmundus himself. There’s no doubt about its authenticity. I’ve spoken to the Leader’s private secretary by telephone. This is what it says: ‘For the attention of Commander Belinski, Thirteenth Southwestern Region. You will meet with your Leader at map reference ST549827 at 0500 hours tomorrow morning, bringing with you a detachment of armed men. You will then transport him without delay to his office in the capital.’” He paused.

“That seems fairly straightforward, sir,” Gorky observed.

“Yes,” Belinski agreed, “though I’ve looked up the map reference and it appears to be an abandoned quarry in the middle of nowhere. However, that’s not the part that worries me. Listen to what comes next: ‘You will not recognize your Leader at first. He will appear to be someone else altogether. But you must not let this stop you from carrying out these orders.’ What on earth am I supposed to make of that?”

“It sounds as though Dr. Sigmundus is going to be disguised in some way,” Gorky suggested.

“So how the hell am I supposed to recognize him?”

Gorky thought about it. “I expect he’ll be the one giving the orders, sir,” he said.

Bea returned to the Púca camp and described what had taken place.

“This doesn’t make any sense,” said Bea’s friend Maeve, pushing back her long red hair and frowning. “I spoke to Dante before he left here. He was planning to rescue you.”

“Yes, that’s what it looked like at first,” Bea agreed. “But then he suddenly screamed and collapsed, and when I went over to help him, he grabbed me by the throat and tried to kill me!”

“It must be the shock,” Albigen said. One of the Púca’s most respected leaders, he was a tall young man with light brown skin, tight curly hair and a jagged scar that ran across his forehead. “Think of all he’s had to cope with. I expect he’s come to his senses by now. I’ll go and talk to him.”

“No, wait!” Bea said. She recalled the expression in Dante’s eyes as he had lunged towards her. She was certain it would not be as easy as Albigen seemed to think. “I believe something has happened to him, something that has changed his personality.”

“What sort of thing?” Albigen asked.

“I don’t know. I realize it sounds crazy. But it didn’t feel like it really was Dante at all. It felt like he’d been taken over.”

Albigen looked skeptical.

“He was Dante when he left here,” Maeve pointed out.

“Yes, but something very strange happened on the cliff top,”
Bea said. “I can’t explain it, but I don’t think Albigen should just walk right up to him.”

“I’ll be careful,” Albigen told her.

“She’s hysterical,” he said to himself as he walked away. No doubt Dante was also hysterical. It was understandable. The world had been turned upside down for all of them in the last few hours, and shock did strange things to people. When he had lived in the north amid the Ichor mines, he had seen a woman burst out laughing when she was told that her husband had been killed in an accident underground. She hadn’t known what she was doing, and Dante was probably in the same state. The important thing was to keep a cool head. He would approach Dante carefully, talk to him gently and remind him that they were friends. Then he would bring him back to the Púca and all would be well.

It was easy enough to follow the trail of footprints left behind in the mud, and it didn’t take long to find the place where Luther and Bea had left the cover of the trees for the cliff top. Albigen paused and squinted into the distance. Yes, he could see Dante standing outlined against the sky. Albigen hesitated. It was important to remember that, whereas he had only his powers of persuasion and his own strength, Dante had the power of the Odyll at his disposal.

He could just about make out a body lying on the ground beside Dante. So it must be true, as Bea had claimed, that Dr. Sigmundus was dead. If so, then the struggle was really over. But Albigen was not ready to accept that yet. At least, not without proof. He had been fighting Dr. Sigmundus for too long to be easily taken in.

BOOK: The Resuurection Fields
7.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

The '85 Bears: We Were the Greatest by Ditka, Mike, Telander, Rick
Grand Slam by Kathryn Ledson
Gone South by Meg Moseley
Franklin's Valentines by Paulette Bourgeois, Brenda Clark
Edge of Hunger by Rhyannon Byrd
Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke
Strictly Love by Julia Williams
The Compound by Bodeen, S.A.