Part 95: Sirocco: Update 29
Sirocco's Year: Part Twenty-Nine
I climbed the rocky slope up to the gazebo. It's very high up. Sometimes you can't even see the glacier's floor because of clouds. As I climbed I noticed that even though it was already well below zero degrees, it somehow felt even colder here. An icy touch had frozen my bones to the core. I climbed into the gazebo.
'I've been expecting you.'
A cowled, tall figure was standing at the opposite side of the room looking out towards the north away from me. 'You don't realise just how much trouble you've put me through, dwarf. My masters are very... very unhappy.'
'Who are you?' I said. 'Show me your face!'
The figure slowly turned round and took off the hood with one pale, long-fingered hand.
'Y-you!' I gasped, stumbling back.
'Yes. Me,' said Silento Boborachi, his obsidian spectacles reflecting nothing but darkness. 'I know what you've seen. I know what you remember.' He paused. 'You do know what I'm talking about don't you?' he asked.
'The... the Spawn! They invaded the fortress! They... they all died!'
'Yes,' Silento said. 'They did. And not for the first time.'
'What do you mean?!' I asked. My hand tigthened around Patsy's handle. The tall dwarf had never seemed so threatening before.
'Syrupleaf has fallen eighteen times before. It's all part of the Master Experiment. Have you never wondered WHY the Spawn attack? WHY the mountainhome insisted on the founding of a fortress HERE? On a glacier of all places?'
My brows furrowed with concentration. '... Because it's a nice place?'
'No,' Silento said. 'Because here there is no help.'
I waved my hammer threateningly at the former overseer. 'You? It's been you all along? You've been sending those monsters after us? And what do you mean eighteen times?! Syrupleaf didn't fall! It's still there!' I said pointing to the gatehouse. 'My friends, they're- they're ALIVE!'
'Time is no constraint for my masters,' Silento purred, menacingly. 'When we found the Spawn they were such vicious, hate-filled creatures. The result of the, ah, 'pure corruption' of a dwarf's soul. They spread, they breed, they destroy... they were perfect for our purposes and yet... we felt they could be improved.'
Silento took a step forward and I involuntarily shrank away. Me a soldier armed to the teeth! And him, wearing a raggedy old cloak and hood, ha ha ha! It makes me laugh to think about now but it was no laughing matter back then.
'We needed a base of operations here, near the south pole-'
'What's a south pole?'
'- where the Spawn were plenty. They've rather got the taste for dwarf flesh now... they hardly need my encouragement. We study their strengths, their weaknesses, their needs... And by the end of the eighth year we... reset things so we can study various alternate scenarios.'
'That's... that's impossible! Someone would notice!'
'No,' Silento laughed. 'No. Well, maybe in dreams... or visions... hallucinations. When we heard about your friend Jazzimus I personally came along to oversee things to make sure the situation wasn't out of control. We didn't want anyone to remember everything now. But then you did. It would seem the experiment is in need of a Master Reset - the last one didn't really take. It only moved the fortress back to the early summer instead of eight whole years... and the perception filter was crooked too. Ho hum.' Silento bared his teeth in a wide rictus. It was not a smile.
'You speak nothing but nonsense!' I said. 'Why do all this? What do you want from us?'
'From you? Weak little creatures with such short lives?!' Silento threw back his head and laughed. 'We want nothing from YOU. We're building an army... hundreds of thousands of Holistic Spawn moving as one across the world, destroying, conquering, and annihilating everything in their path! The perfect defence for the company against its competitors! All those who are left will quail in the shade of our parasols!'
'You want to kill everyone in the world to boost your business?! For umbrellas?! I thought you were a good dwarf, Boborachi!'
'Business is war, friend... and I am no mere DWARF.' Calmly, Silento Boborachi removed his dark glasses. Underneath them was... oh, I can barely contain the horror just remembering. There was nothing, journal. Two dark, black pits stared at me from where his eyes should have been.
'No one should be without a parasol, Sirocco,' the creature rasped, the voice distorting into something craven and evil. 'IN HELL WE ALL BUUURN!!! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!'
I stared at him, horrified. Silento Boborachi was no dwarf, but a demon from the abyss! And quite, quite insane.
'SAY GOODBYE TO YOUR BELOVED SYRUPLEAF, DWARF,' he roared. 'WHEN I PRESS THIS BUTTON IT WILL NEVER HAVE BEEN! YOU WILL BE THROWN INTO THE HELLFIRES FOR ALL ETERNITY WITH ALL YOUR LITTLE FRIENDS.'
He slipped one hand into his pocket and then froze. 'WHERE. WHERE IS IT?!'
'Are you looking for this?' I asked, holding up the strange silver mechanism for him to see.
'GIVE THAT TO ME NOW!' the creature screamed, glaring at me with its dark not-eyes. Its hand reached out for the mechanism, desperately scrabbling the air. For a moment, hypnotised, I almost handed it straight to him. His lips curled into a satisfied grimace of victory, his hand inches away from my own. Then I blinked and came to my senses.
I closed my palm and crushed it.
'NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!' the demon wailed, clutching its head with its hands. The ground quaked from the sheer rage emanating from the creature. 'YOU WILL DIE FOR THIS, DWARF!' He raised his hands and muttered something violently under his breath.
A fireball rocketed past me - I ran for the stairs. 'You can't hurt Syrupleaf! Not anymore!' I yelled at the demon. 'I'll stop you!'
I fled up the staircase to the highest level of the gazebo. If I could get him with the hammer as he was climbing up then maybe I would stand a chance of killing him.
But Silento was uncannily quick. I was at the top floor of the gazebo for only a second before he leapt from below and his fist connected with my face before I could even react. Never before or since have I felt so forceful a blow. I fell back, my head fetching a horrible crack against the golden statue at the gazebo's summit.
Patsy skittered off the edge and into the swirling clouds below. It was just me and the demon. We circled the statue, waiting for the other to be distracted. To make a mistake. To blink.
Of course... Silento couldn't blink.
I leapt forward and grabbed his arms and we wrestled there, at the top of the gazebo, a lonely spire on a frozen mountaintop, peeking through the clouds.
He swung me into the statue, my back exploded in pain and he started throttling the life out of me, pressing his claws into my throat.
'I CAN CONTROL TIME, DWARF. YOU CANNOT... KILL... ME,' he growled as my vision began to blur. The two dark circles of his eye-pits filled the world.
I clasped his wrists with my hands. 'Time... to... move... on,' I croaked. And with every last ounce of strength I could muster I threw my body into the demon. For a moment I thought he had stopped time. And then he fell - flung off the edge of the gazebo down into the clouds, off the cliff, screaming all the way. The hideous noise faded as he fell down the mountainside. Then silence.
He was dead. At long last... Syrupleaf was free.
No one really remembers Silento Boborachi now... but occasionally there are claims of sightings of a dwarf... a tall dwarf. With dark spectacles hewn from obsidian. Lurking just out of sight. A ghost story for the children I fancy, but then again... no body was ever found. Wherever that monster from hell is now, I don't care. But if he comes back? I'll be waiting for him.
Well... me and Patsy.