Previously: Digger tried destroying the crystals with his Drillers, which caused a huge explosion. Not good. And now…
The Ghost snarled at Twain. He warped and swelled, and suddenly, there was a giant, savage face looming above Twain, though there wasn’t room in the passage to contain the entire head. “What do you think you can do? Just because the crystals make you strong? I AM THE CRYSTALS!”
The face dissolved, reformed into a giant claw. Twain thrust his hands up and released the energy he’d been building. A blue beam identical to the former Czar’s lanced up, dissolving a huge section of ceiling. The claw dissolved as well, and the crystals resonated with the Ghost’s outraged howl. Twain looked up through the hole he had made, saw indigo sky dotted with blazes of red and yellow cloud; the sun was setting. Twain’s spirit sank a little. He had really hoped to see daylight.
“You think that accomplished something?” the Ghost said as he reformed before Twain.
“It hurt you, didn’t it?” Twain asked.
“It was uncomfortable,” the Ghost said above the groaning of the abused rock ceiling. “But our strength comes from the same source. You can’t destroy me with it, and you don’t dare destroy the crystals. The explosion would kill you all, and even if it didn’t, you would become powerless.”
“Perhaps,” said Twain. “But I might find other sources of power.”
“Like the scroll, perhaps,” Twain said.
The Ghost laughed again, and dust sifted down as the ceiling rumbled. “The scroll is worthless! You think that wasn’t the first thing I did once I possessed your precious Yi Fan? We went over that scroll for weeks. It’s nonsense, gibberish. We ended up using it to prop up a table in that pile of garbage that used to be her house.”
“What scroll?” Digger said, climbing painfully to his feet.
[blockquote type=”blockquote_quotes” align=”right”]“If we were in Hell, I’d just rip him to pieces with my claws,” Digger said. “Which might not kill him, but would be satisfying.”[/blockquote]“Never mind,” Twain said as he concentrated on drawing more power from the crystals. Perhaps if he could summon a big enough blast… “You’ve been to Hell. How do we kill this guy?”
“If we were in Hell, I’d just rip him to pieces with my claws,” Digger said. “Which might not kill him, but would be satisfying.”
“Claws?” Twain asked.
“Long story,” Digger said. He wiped his eyes against his biceps to clear them of the blood running down from his forehead. He nodded at Cole and Bogdan, still out cold. “You think you can keep him busy while I get them clear?”
“Because I might have to blow up the crystals, and I’d rather we not all die when I do it.”
“How many days do you plan to travel?” asked the Ghost. “You have no idea how much power is contained in those largest crystals. You might destroy all of Mongolia in the blast.”
“You’re bluffing,” Digger said.
“Perhaps,” the Ghost admitted. An eerie shuffling noise echoed from the stone passage behind them. “Or perhaps I’m stalling until my servant arrives and things get really interesting.”
The Drillers came to life with a POP and a whine.
“Digger!” Twain said “Don’t do anything stu…”
The abused ceiling collapsed with a roar.
Yes, I know the “weeks” bear an ever more nebulous relationship to reality, but seriously, we’re almost done. Don’t miss the next episode!
To read from the beginning, click here…