One warm evening we are having dinner on the roof of the Library and talking about my adventures without him. We've talked about them before but we go over every detail to see if there's anything we can use to defend ourselves.
“Nick sounds like a good guy. I'm glad he was there to protect you,” says Mr. Gryphon, holding a glass of the wonderful cab we are drinking with our dinner.
“He is. He did very well, but it makes me wonder why I have so much protection in these stories. I mean, I don't have much protection in real life so why would I need protection here?”
“Perhaps it's something you crave. These places are fantastical and not a little dangerous,” he says taking a sip and putting his glass down. The evening sky is turning the dark stone of my Library a dark purple. The sun is setting into a dark pink sky. I stand up and go to the edge of the roof, looking out. I can see the tall silhouette of the Tower in the distance. It looks ominous in the coming evening light.
Mr. Gryphon comes to stand next to me. He takes my hand and I lean against his warm, soft feathers and fur.
“It's there,” I say.
“What is?” he asks, squeezing my hand gently. I feel a slow warmth building up inside me.
“The portal into this place. I think that's how Ravelle got in here through that Tower.” I turn to him. “We have to go there, right now.”
Mr. Gryphon hesitates. I look at him again, “What's wrong? Are you afraid?”
He laughs, a short sound. “No, of course not. I just think you shouldn't go there. It's too dangerous. I can go there with some security and take a look.”
“No, I won't let you leave me. We go together. Okay?” I hold his hand tight. He looks down at me, his eyes filled with vulnerable tenderness. He nods and then leads the way to the armory.
While there we assemble a team of six people to come with us, bullet proof vests, and weapons. I have my dirk, a machete, and a couple of 9mms. Mr. Gryphon has a shotgun and Nick's sword. All us of walk out of the Library and made our way to the Tower. At the black iron gates I open the door with my ring of keys. Civil twilight is just finishing.
We venture inside, everyone searching the bottom floor but it's as I remember, completely empty but very clean. We check every stone, every window but there's nothing. We assemble again climb the narrow stairs. Mr. Gryphon elects to fly to the top of the Tower. I ask him not to but he insists. The rest of us climb up the Tower stairs. I'm nervous because we are vulnerable climbing in single file as the night comes but I know it's necessary. As we wind up and up I glance out the window. There's a full moon tonight and I can see the dark clouds moving in the sky. It is still warm and I'm getting hot from climbing the stairs. The nearest window darkens unexpectedly and I jump but it's only Mr. Gryphon checking on us.
“There's no one at the top so I'll just keep flying around until we get there,” he says. I thank him and ask the others how they are doing. They nod and we walk on.
Climbing the stairs goes on for a few minutes longer and we finally reach the top. The troop does a thorough check and lights the torches surrounding on the walls. Mr. Gryphon does one last circuit around the outside of the Tower and then alights near me next to one of the large windows.
“No one's home, Miss Turtle. Have you found anything?” he asks, folding his wings away.
“No, not yet. Although I noticed that the suits of armor are standing up again.” We check every stone and every crack but there's nothing in the room. The troop checks each suit of armor but there's nothing at all. Mr. Gryphon is looking around.
“Everything's been repaired,” he says, looking at me, “Remember when I first fought with Ravelle? We slammed each other into the walls, causing chunks of the wall to break off.”
“Yes, I do remember,” I say. Something unpleasant is occurring to me. I pull out my machete and immediately the rest of the troop draw their weapons. “Easy, give each other space. I'm just trying an experiment.” I aim the machete at a space between the stones and shove the blade in as deep as possible. The stone starts to crack around the blade. I wrench the blade sideways and a chunk of the stone comes loose. It falls to the floor with a thud. “Stand back!” I say.
We all stand there, looking at the stone with our weapons drawn. Nothing happens but the uneasy feeling grows in me. I back a little further away. The dread is growing inside me and I know that nothing is happening but I can't relax. I take a deep breath to steady myself. The stone on the floor hasn't moved, nor the hole that it came out of changed.
Nausea rises in me as the stone on the floor flies back in the hole and repairs itself. I turn where I'm standing and swing the machete upwards. The angel who is descending from the ceiling is impaled on the blade. The some of the others shout as more angels descend on top of us. We swing and fight. I yell, the sick feeling in my stomach doesn't go away. I slash on and the air is thick with angels now. I shout to everyone to get away from the center of the room. A couple of my troop are killed by the angels slashing swords. I throw down the machete and will the dirk to appear. I slam it into the nearest heavenly body and work my way through the room, slashing and slamming. Those beautiful screams echo through the stone room as they vanish forever, still more angels descend and still I slash.
I shout for the others to run back to safety. Angels descend, some disintegrate, some don't. The air is thick with clanking armor, swinging blades, and feathery wings. As soon as I kill one, two or three more enter the room. The clouds shift and the moon shines its full brightness into the room. I pull the dirk out of the heavenly body in front of me and it falls away. I turn to slam the dirk into the next one and freeze where I'm standing.
Only a few inches away from my face is Mithra, black blade fully extended, shimmering and terrible. When I swung the dirk Mithra stopped its progress. I look at the small white hand holding the bronze blade and I see it is April.
She smiles that long lashed Go-Go smile. “Surprised?”
“A little,” I reply, not moving from the battle stance I'm in. The room stops moving and clanking. The angels move into formation on one side of the room. Mr. Gryphon stands in front of the two of my troop who didn't make it downstairs.
“Why?” I ask that one question because it's the only one that matters.
“The Boss is in charge here, not you. You're too busy off coming up with weird stuff that none of us understands. You're not the rightful creator, he is.”
“I still don't understand,” I say. Her words throw me off. I can't understand what her point is.
“You think you can create things, these words, these characters, and stories but you have no right. Only he does. He's the creator, you're not. And then you have the gall to come up with this sword,” she shakes her head, “It's blasphemy.”
“I had no idea you were so religious,” I say. The dirk and Mithra are still in contact. “And I had no idea you could wield this sword.”
“You saw to that outside Paradise's gates when you took me into the Source. Renewal in the pond with you means I get all your powers,” she smiles at me.
“If that's true then...,” but I don't complete the thought. I let it hang in the air knowing the right person will pick it up. He does.
God is standing behind April, smirking. I feel a burning hate towards him and his unholy arrogance.
“You see, Miss Turtle, I have a plan for everything. Nothing slips past me. April here has been tracking you all along with your lovely green stone,” he says.
She nods, “I was that woman in the back row of the church where services started. I followed you up the white tower in Dis and the one in Heaven.”
“And Ravelle?” I ask, tears in my eyes.
“Incompetent. She was just there to put the fear of God into you though she did take her mission very seriously,” she says. God smiles at this statement. I clench my teeth.
"You used her, you bastard! You purposely sent her to obliteration!" I say, glaring at God.
"That's all that being alive is about, Miss Turtle. It's using and being used," says April.
“I'm just about done with you, bitch,” I say and then I slam the dirk underhanded, April knocks it aside but not before the blade nicks her, slicing open the fabric of her white robe. Her eyes open wide as she stares at the slash. The shimmering begins and then her scream. This time she dissipates like the others. The green stone falls to the floor and the handle of Mithra drops. I catch it in mid-air and swing the sword and dirk left and right. Angels' screams fill the air. They scatter. Some throw themselves out the window of the Tower. The ones guarding God try to fight but I destroy them easily. In a few minutes God is alone up against the stone wall, the tip of the sword at his neck.
“What do you want, Miss Turtle?” he asks, his beautiful voice hoarse, his eyes sparkle beautifully. In the moonlight I can't see their color. “I'll give you anything you want," he says.
“I want to wipe that smirk off your face,” I say and then I swing Mithra through the air and cut God's body in half from the shoulder to the groin. He shudders, the sliced body parts falling away, they shimmer, humming, and the sound grows fainter. There's no scream as he disappears forever.
I look up at the portal in the ceiling of the Tower. Angels are looking down at me in horror. It's a grotesque version of the dome painted ceiling above the wedding bed. “Get the fuck off my land and seal that hole up.” I look around at the other angels still in my Tower. “You have two minutes to get through the portal otherwise...” They don't hear the rest. The Angels fly through the portal with lightening speed and then are gone.
I don't relax. I keep looking around. “Mr. Gryphon please get the others to the Library.”
“I can't leave you behind,” he says.
“No, call a door for them. You know you can now,” I say, still looking around slowly in battle stance mode.
“Oh, right,” he says. He stretches out his arm and the blue door appears.
“Miss Turtle, you need our help, don't you?” asks one of them. I smile at him and shake my head. He sighs and follows the rest of the troop files through the door. It says "Library Information Desk." The door disappears.
I nod to Mr. Gryphon. “Let's go. Do you mind flying me out of here?”
“Of course not,” he says. He picks me up and leaps out of the open window, reminding me of Song Kang-Ho in “Thirst.” He lands on the soft lawn, setting me down gently, and stands back. I walk up to the Tower and slam Mithra into the black stones. The Tower shudders and trembles, the sounds of shifting stones filling the air. We back away some more and then the Tower shimmers in front of us. We watch as it slowly fades away to nothing. We can see impressions of its foundation on the ground. I walk away and instead of unlocking the gate I slice it open. We walk through without looking back as the black gate disappears.
Mr. Gryphon and I walk the forested path towards the sea. I can hear the sounds of the machine sucking my sea water away. When we emerge from the forested path, there are four angels trying to get through the portal. They scream when they see us. I walk into the warm ocean water and shove Mithra into the thick black metal. The elaborate pump dissolves in front of us.
The angels kneel in the surf in front of me. “We prostate ourselves to you, Oh Lord, for you are now the ultimate creator. Please spare us our lives,” says the nearest one. It's wearing chain of mail.
“Get out of here,” I say, “I'm sick of your lot. It's back to Heaven with you.”
“But..Lord. How do we get back there? Who will lead us?” asks the angel. The others appear to be too frightened to speak. The warm sea water has soaked through their robes and the beautiful shapes of their bodies are showing through the wet, white fabric.
“I'm not your lord. You'll find someone soon and hopefully he won't be an arrogant fuck like the last one,” I say. “If you follow the wrong person I'll destroy all of you. Now get off my land.”
“But...Miss Turtle how do we get back?” the angel asks again.
“I guess you'll have to take the long way home through the transitional places to your own neighborhood. Like most of the normal folks around here,” I say. I stretch out my hand and a blue door appears. It says “No Man's Land.” The angels obediently file through the blue door, the angel who was speaking looks back at me with pleading eyes but it doesn't say anything else. The door fades and Mr. Gryphon and I walk back the way we came. The moon is fully up now, the night is starting to cool down. I squeeze the Mithra's handle, safely sheathed
"I hope we never have to use that sword again, Miss Turtle. There is something unnatural about it. It makes me nervous."
“I hope not either but you never know. As for feeling nervous, you'll get over it very soon," I look at him. "Services are about to begin, Mr. Gryphon," I say holding out Mithra to him.
“Yes, I know. I'm not sure if I'm looking forward to that particular process,” he says taking the bronze handle.
I smile. “The pain won't last long.” He reaches for my hand. We walk leisurely back to the Library. “I'm thinking, Mr. Gryphon, it might finally be time to have a church or chapel here. I think such a building has earned its way into my world, don't you?”
“Well, we can't have services without a church, Miss Turtle,” the warmth of his hand feels right and real.
“No, I suppose not, Mr. Gryphon. I can't wait until we decide on how it's going to be decorated." He smiles at me.
The full moon is shining a blue light down on us, illuminating the path in front of us. The world has changed and shifted into something else.
“These transitional times are so interesting, don't you think?” I ask. The cool of the night is soothing and the fresh, salty smell of the sea is fading behind us.
“Indeed they are, Miss Turtle.”
We ascend a small hill and as we crest, we see the lights from the Library ahead of us. In front of the steps, in the full moonlight, is T-Rex, our old friend back from his sacrifice. He smiles his toothy grin at us and waves.
“Looks like I did get everything back, just like I'd hoped.”
“I'm looking forward to hearing his juvenile teasing,” says Mr. Gryphon. He is smiling as he looks at T-Rex.
“Yeah?” I look back at him.
He squeezes my hand. “Especially the one where he chants. “Gryphon loves Turtle” over and over.
I laugh and even though I'm emotionally battered and bruised from this journey, all is right in my world.