A young couple takes a hike on the Appalachian Trail that leads to the resurrection of an ancient evil. The rise of the Magus signals the return of forgotten powers to the world, and one man will rise to stem the growing tide of evil.


10. The Getaway...?

Danny was driving on Highway 321 into Hickory, North Carolina when a chill swept through him.  For one horrible moment, he thought he would lose control of the car and slam into the vehicles that were stopping for the red light in front of him.  At the last possible second, he managed to regain control of himself enough to jam his foot onto the brake pedal.  The tires of the stolen car squealed in angry protest at such treatment as the car shuddered to a stop inches from the bumper of the truck in front of them.  Curious drivers were staring at Danny and Carol, and the driver of the truck in front of them was shaking his head in angry relief over not being struck by their car.  Danny could only sit in stunned silence until the first wave of the terrible sensations that had swept through him began to abate slightly. 

The car was an old Dodge Shadow.  Danny had stolen it from a service station near the hotel when the car’s owner was good enough to leave the engine running as he ran inside to make what he probably thought would be a quick stop.  Danny felt somewhat ashamed about stealing the car, but he considered that his need was more urgent than the driver’s just then.

When the chilling feelings that had prompted his reckless stop had subsided to a manageable level, Danny turned to Carol and saw her crying beside him in the passenger seat of their stolen car.  She turned to meet his eyes, and a hopeless expression was clear on her face.  “Oh God, Danny, he’s awake,” she whispered.  “I don’t know how, but somehow, he’s awake…and he’s furious.”

Danny’s gaze lingered over the face of his young lover for a moment, and all he could do was nod his curt acceptance of her words.  A horn sounded from behind them, so he quickly returned his attention to driving and noticed that traffic was speeding away from him.  He hurried to drive through the intersection while scanning the area with his eyes for any policemen that may have noticed his inappropriate driving.  After a few moments passed without sirens or blue lights, he accepted that they had been lucky and had escaped the notice of the authorities, at least for the immediate future.

When Danny glanced over at Carol again, he was saddened to see that tears were rolling steadily down her face.  “What are we going to do?” she asked.

“I don’t know.  I know he’s awake because I felt it, too.  And I know he’s furious.  But I don’t think he’s capable of doing anything about it right now.  I think the pain he’s feeling is keeping him from hurting us, for now at least.”  As he said the words, Danny knew them to be true.  He still had no idea how it was possible for the two of them to know something about someone that was miles away in the mountains, but he had to accept that he did know, and he knew he had to try to do something about their situation…before the monster in question regained control of the dark powers that he wielded against them.

“Danny, what are we going to do?”  Carol’s voice contained a rising note of hysteria that Danny did not like, and he could tell that she was on the edge of losing control of her emotions.  He knew the terror she was feeling, and he realized the terrible things that had been done to her, but he also knew that he had to help her hang onto her sanity long enough to find help.  The last thing that would help either of them was for Carol to fall to pieces, so he hurried to pull into the nearest service station in order to have a chance to calm her fears.

            Danny pulled the car to a stop and turned to pull Carol into his embrace.  She began to sob quietly into his shoulder, and he felt his anger rise inside once more because of the suffering she had endured.  He again vowed quietly to himself that he would find a way to make Maraydel pay.  “Hush Baby, it’s okay.  We’ll be okay.  We’re going to beat this bastard. Do you hear me?  We’ll find a way.  I promise you, we’ll find a way.  Okay?”  He could feel her begin to relax a little, so he pulled back to look into her eyes again.  “Carol I need you to help me.  We can beat him, but it’s going to take both of us.  Are you with me?”

            Carol held Danny’s gaze for a moment.  Her heart filled with love for him, and she allowed herself to hope that they could find a way through the hell that their lives had become.  She reached up to brush the tears away from her face, took a deep breath, and said, “So what are we going to do?”

            “Well, we can’t go home, obviously,” Danny replied.  “Our parents aren’t expecting us this soon, and how would they be able to help us anyway?  I mean I love my dad, but he’s not exactly a wizard or anything.  And my mom would probably have us in church begging for an exorcism or something.”

            Carol actually laughed at the mental images that Danny’s words had provoked.  “Yeah, I can hear my mom now.  ‘So you expect me to believe all this?  What kind of drugs did you take anyway?’  So no, we can’t go to our parents about this.  But who?”

            Danny thought for a moment when a memory finally surfaced.  “Wait a minute.  We do know one guy that stood up to…Him.”  Danny knew without being able to explain it that saying their hated master’s name would be dangerous. 

            “Do you mean that guy in the clearing?”  Carol’s memories of her return to life were blurry at best, but she knew that Maraydel had been involved in a confrontation immediately after his return…and that the outcome had been a lot different than the one he wanted.  “How would we find him?  And would he even help us if he knew how we were involved with…Him?

            “I don’t know, but I don’t have any other ideas, do you?  Besides, maybe we can head back to Cherokee and find him there.  And like I said, I don’t know what else to do.”

            “Well…okay then, let’s do it.  And I’ll pray to God we can find him, because I don’t know what we’ll do if He heals himself before we do.”


            Maraydel awakened to pain so severe that his consciousness nearly fled before his iron force of will managed to blunt the sharpest edges and make a place for rational thought in his tortured mind.  His thoughts were fuzzy and slow as he sought an answer to how he found himself in his current situation.  The pain was so overwhelming that his mind could only conjure bits and pieces of memory, and even though he struggled to touch the power that he had long ago learned to wield, it remained just out of his grasp.  He could hear voices talking nearby, but their words were jumbled and meaningless.  Still they were a focal point that was separate from the pain, so he struggled to listen to them.


            “What do you think happened to this guy?”

            “I don’t know.  And I don’t know what’s keeping him alive.”

            “Well how did he end up like this?”

            “I just told you I don’t know.  I’ve never seen anything like it.  How the hell do you get burned this badly without a source of heat anywhere nearby?”

            “What do you mean?”

            “It was on the news.  They found him in a hotel room when the maid came in to clean up.  Not a stitch of clothes on him, nothing burnt in the room, but this guy looks like he’s been roasted on a spit.  I tell you, it’s some weird shit.”

            “Well what can we do for him?”

            “All we can do is feed him morphine, change the dressings, and wait for him to die.  There’s no way he’ll pull through.  No way.”

            “Okay, well, I’ll start the morphine then.”


            The voices trailed away and moments later a cool lack of sensation spread from Maraydel’s arm to radiate out through his body.  Just before sleep stole away his consciousness, some of his memories broke through in the wake of the pain’s passing, and cold fury bloomed in his mind.  Where were the slaves?  And how had he been bested again?  Hatred coursed through his mind as he crossed the threshold from awareness to sleep...

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