Skulduggery Pleasant: Death's Dawn

"I grabbed the axe off of one of them, snapping it with a sharp crack, twisting around and driving it into the skull of another. These guys were easy to kill, but we were being overwhelmed. I was almost at Tihana's side again, when I felt the rock hit my head.

"Oh bollocks." Blood trickled down the side of my face, and then I passed out."

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22. Chapter 21

Sword Lord - Tyrian

WHAM! I threw my fist at Skulduggery, aiming for the gap between his neck and shoulder. He grabbed my wrist and threw me over his shoulder. I kicked off of his skull, my foot squeaking against the bone. I rolled into a standing position, fists at the ready. He stood completely still, waiting for me to make the first move. Fine, fine! I can wait out all day, buddy. He turned, as if to walk out the room, and then swung round, his heavily booted foot swinging through the air in a roundhouse. I caught it, and swung it back round. He spun, expecting for the blow to hit me, but when it came round, I wasn't there. He looked around, bewildered, and I tapped him on the shoulder, before burying my fist into his face. If he had a nose, it would have sunk into his face. As it was, a small crack appeared in the bone, and he stumbled backwards.

"You did well. I will admit, I expected a lot less of you." He seemed to grind the compliment out of his teeth, as if it pained him to say it.

"That's what dedicating your whole life to staying alive tends to result in." I said to him coldly, and began to walk out the padded training room.

"Wait!" He rushed towards his suit jacket, thrown across a chair, and rummaged in a pocket, before pulling out two cans of cider. I cocked my eyebrow at him.

"Really? You're gonna win me over with alcohol?" He shook his head at me and offered one up. I took it reluctantly and opened it, drinking in the cold, sparkling liquid. He looked at me again.

"You know, you're not such a bad lad. Hot headed, irrational, but not such a bad lad."

"Oh wow, thanks for the compliment."

"You're also a smart-ass."

"Oh, I'm the smart-ass? What about you, huh? I've heard some of your 'taunts'!"

We stayed up long into the night, bantering, debating, talking. I felt myself warming to this skeleton, despite wanting to hate him. He had his reasoning for everything, and I can't hate a rational man.

 

I threw myself onto the bed. Its springs squeaked and I felt my back hit what might as well have been a solid oak floor. My eyes felt like they were weighted by rocks, and they seemed to close automatically. But I didn't want to sleep, I'd have that dream again. Like I did every night. But it was too late, already my eyes were shut and my gentle snores filled the quiet room.

 

My feet hit the ground with a gentle thud, and I started running, a pounding beat to go with the pounding of my heart. I had to get to the center circle, but it was too hard. There was all manner of trees and roots in my way. The only way I could get there fast enough was if I were to climb. I scrambled up an elm, the nooks and crannies in it's surface more than enough for me to ascend. I started leaping from tree to tree, my tread light, my body balanced and poised. I lobbed myself forwards, and my hands clung to yet another branch. I pulled myself up, I was almost there. I started to sprint along the wood, an odd hollow sound resounding from my feet. I was above the circle. Five men were gathered around a mass of black fur, tied to a table. They were chanting, their blood red robes looking like fire in the candlelight. The mass struggled to break free, but it was too late for it. I was about to leap down, and then the rasp of a blade being unsheathed made me turn. Tanith Low stood there, her blade raised towards my chest.

"Now now, don't move, it would be a pity for you too fall off." Her voice seemed to have a slight echo to it, as if there was something else speaking.

"Maybe you should put the sword down, it would be a problem if you were to be hurt." She laughed, the sound light and melodious, yet with a dark undertone.

"Tanith, this isn't you. You know it isn't." She stared at me with revulsion.

"Oh, but it is. You see, I am now more powerful than ever! I could destroy Skulduggery in the smallest movement. You are nothing, and even your dear doggy has seen it. Now, come and have a go if you think you're hard enough!" I reached up to my left shoulder, and somehow I found a hilt there. I unsheathed my katana, and then we were duelling. I batted her blade away, and suddenly it was swinging towards me. I parried, and aimed for her waist. She deflected it, stabbing forwards in the same second. I moved to the side, and she stumbled. I stabbed through her heart before I even knew what I was doing. She looked at me, and her eyes seemed to be happy at her freedom from the Remnant. And then she toppled from the tree. I stood there, shaken, and turned to jump down when suddenly pain exploded in my chest. I looked down to see an arrow protruding from it.

"Oh, well this is perfect!" I didn't know that these would be my last words.

And then I too fell to the ground. I watched as the men ran Tihana through on the table, watched as the world died, and then, when it all seemed over, when fire and lava streamed, I, too, took the plunge into the never ending darkness.

 

I woke up, bathed in a cold sweat. I felt at my chest, but there were no arrows. I wanted to check on Tihana, but I knew, that that would be impossible. I'd never felt more alone.

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