“Lukastor, Lord of the fallen, mightiest of the line of Asriel, with the element of earth, I thee bind.” Viridian handed Alice a stone from the perimeter of the circle and she laid held it out to the mirror as though in supplication before carefully laying it down at its foot.
“With the element of air, I thee bind.” This time he gave a feather to Alice who solemnly repeated the ritual.
“With the element of fire, I thee bind.” A lit candle dripping yellow fatty wax was placed before the mirror.
“With the element of water, I thee bind.” Viridian reached into the velvet bag and brought out a dead fish which joined the others at the mirrors foot.
A paranoid crazy thought invaded my brain taking no prisoners: this ritual sounded suspiciously like a mockery of marriage vows, but I didn’t have time for any more before my suspicions were heightened:
“With this corrupted flesh I thee worship,” and so saying he drew the body of a small black kitten out of the bag. It had been skinned and I realised it must still have been alive and that was what I’d heard screaming earlier. I felt sick to my stomach. Sickest of all of myself for participating in this insanity.
But the luxury of introspection was one I couldn’t afford, as the base of the mirror previously engulfed in black flames, quickly became a small inferno that gave out no heat and swallowed the meagre light from the candles greedily, lasciviously, like a long lost lover.
Alice stood in front of the looking glass, arms raised, black flames enveloping her body of which she seemed oblivious:
“Lukastor, by the power of earth, air, fire water and all fleshly things, I command you to come to me.”
Nothing happened. A minute passed, then another. It was obscene, banal and vaguely comical and I was participating in it. Then someone in the room started a hushed conversation and I felt the slow, sick bloom of the realisation that it wasn’t going to work; that it had never had the ghost of a chance of ever working and that it was all a hellish, twisted practical joke of which I was the dunder-headed butt.
And then, almost imperceptibly, the ceiling began to vibrate, graduating to a palsied shaking and then a grand mal seizure of epic proportions. People started screaming and running for the door as enormous cracks appeared in the walls and plaster fell, knocking some of them out and coating everything in a fine, white dust. A disciple ran past me, face a mask of white, hood flapping as though he had come to a fancy dress party as a ghost only to find that’s what everyone else had done. The gash at his temple, a vivid, terrifying blast of colour in the lunar, post-apocalyptic landscape that had once been an ordinary room.
A terrifying, roaring wind whipped around the room sweeping the unwary off their feet as though it was trying to scour the room clean of anything living. A woman to my left screamed and started babbling to whatever it was she worshipped, but the wind whipped her words away and I couldn’t hear who the Lukeky recipient was. It didn’t matter in any case because seconds later the back of her skull was crushed by an old, brass light fixture and she lay like a broken doll at me feet. I felt removed, other-worldly, standing stock still as the killing rain fell, feet apart, face tilted upwards: whatever happened I’d die on my feet. A piece of what once had been the ceiling crashed to the floor just inches from where I was standing breaking the boards on the floor with a deafening almighty crash. Splinters of glass were flying around and I felt my face run with something warm, although I couldn’t feel anything. The mirror was the only thing that was miraculously untouched and the black flames belched forth emitting foul, noxious fumes.
The whole room was shaking now and because the ceiling and walls had been gouged down to brick and beam, they too began to rain down on those who remained, which included Viridian and Alice. In my dream-like state I suddenly became aware of the crush at the door, as people panicked and tried to force their way through, heedless of anyone else and driven by the sheer animal instinct to survive. Some had fallen and were being crushed as their erstwhile comrades stampeded over them oblivious to their cries. Those at the back impatiently pushed those at the front producing a groaning, bleeding heap of the dead and injured. The shocked, writhing mass of humanity melded together as though it was a giant organism comprised of hundreds of component parts that didn’t much like each other, the ultimate Frankenstein’s monster, trapped in the ninth circle of hell.
“No.” Viridian screamed, “You cannot break the circle. Don’t you understand? It’ll loose the spirit. Do not break the circle.”
But no one was listening and in truth his words could hardly be heard above the disintegrating building and howling supernatural wind.
Then, in the blink of an eye, the black flames of the burning mirror were extinguished, the wind dropped and the room stopped its awful dance. And he was in the mirror. I drew in a convulsive breath, I couldn’t help myself. He floated as though in mid air, long black hair trailing behind him like a silken waterfall. Obsidian eyes glittering with scarlet flame flickering in their depths and a molten destructive force that would have beggared a million Hiroshimas. His battered leathers were open to the waist revealing the smooth brown skin beneath. Unfurled wings cast possessive shadows over his face that moved with a life of their own. The power of his mere presence in the mirror was like being doused in petrol and then set alight. The only question was how quickly death would provide blessed release. I couldn’t move, speak, think. I was completely caught in the monster’s thrall; and just when I didn’t think things could get any worse, they did.
“Tsk Tsk Viridian. What have you been up to?” The voice was low and musical and the sound encompassed the room trailing filaments of light as though marking its own progress. It was like being encased in velvet and lovingly suffocated with it. The amused contempt was unmistakable.
“My Lord,” Viridian began, his own voice shaking, reedy with fear, “It was her,” and like a naughty school-boy caught out in his wrong-doing, pointed accusingly at me, blurting: “She wanted to bind you. I didn’t have anything to do with it.”
“She?” The enveloping voice was now flirtatious, playful, wrapping me up in gossamer skein that held me tight and promised all manner of dark delights that would bind me closer still. Then without warning the monster in the mirror casually stepped out into the little room and the souls caught in it screamed with one bone shattering voice. The sound brought me out of my trance-like state and nearly burst my eardrums. I fought not to vomit, losing my new found focus now was not such a good idea.
Thick wet gobbets of something poured out of the mirror’s depths, pumping out into the room as though like blood from breached artery. It was then that I realised this was the living essence of the mirror and it was now dying. The cracked walls oozed the same dark, clogging substance as though in sympathy with the mirror’s death throes. But I was wrong, it wasn’t the mirror that was dying, it was the souls that had been imprisoned in it: they had become part of the trapping mechanism and when Luke tore it apart by walking through it, he tore them apart in the process. The carnage was indescribable: as though the death and pain from a million abattoirs was concentrated in this small, dirty room.
But all of that was insignificant detail as his presence lit up the room, brown skin a warm copper glow, a beacon of light and warmth that sucked everyone and everything toward it to be consumed ecstatically in its flames. His hair, reaching almost to his waist, had the blue tint of true black and the fathomless ebony eyes traced an arc of light around the room, finally coming to rest on me. The face was of a vaguely oriental cast, high cheekbones tapering to a strongly moulded chin which had the faintest indentation. Slanting black eyes glittered under black brows promising an infinity of unimaginably painful ways to die and the full mouth was set in an uncompromising line. The start of a glossy black tattoo peeked over the collar of his leathers on the left side of his throat and extended to the top of his left hand where his sleeve ended. It wouldn’t be for decoration on a creature like this, it would be some sort of protective ward.
He was huge: I estimated around six feet five with broad shoulders tapering to a slim waist. The battered leathers hugged him like a second skin, the top of his belt tracing the line of his hips above which was a couple of inches of bare skin. A wicked looking knife hung from one side of his belt, a short axe from the other, their hilts engraved with ancient symbols, blades glinting with evil intent. Whatever else this creature was, it was a seasoned warrior. I tried not to imagine what battles it had fought over the millennia, what manner of men and monsters it had faced and felled.
“My Lord-” Viridian stuttered but what he said was lost as Luke raised a languid hand without turning his gaze from mine and the magician was lifted up by forces unseen and smashed head first into a cracked wall from which the plaster had long since fled. The force with which his body had been hurled into the wall was incredible, almost like a flesh and blood cartoon except there was nothing comical about the sickening crack of his skull or the red ruin at the back of his head where I actually see through to softer tissue which must have been his brain, or what was left of it. His body slumped and fell abruptly to the floor in a scarlet spray as though it had momentarily been supported by an unseen hand, and was now lying prone in a rapidly spreading pool of his own blood when it was whipped away; bereft of any signs of life like a puppet that had had its strings cut by a sadistic puppeteer. Alice rushed forward, throwing herself to the floor cradling him in her arms sobbing softly to herself as she rocked to and fro with her bloody burden. But then I discovered I had some pressing problems of my own.
“You,” he said in a lover’s whisper that felt like metal piercing my flesh. The pain was good and brought some hard-won focus. I had caused this mayhem to barter with this devil, barter I would if I could just manage to stay alive long enough.