All the Knowledge Would Burn
Coughing. Choking. He could not draw breath.
Fire spreading over the floors, up the walls. Engulfing the beds. The nightstands.
Heat. Burning heat.
Need to get up.
Need to escape.
Albey’s eyes opened to a hot flash of burning light. The spreading flames found the first of the three lanterns – Ram’rl’s lantern, the one nearest Albey – and worked their way into the fuel supply, shattering the contraption in a spray of glass and metal. Bits of each clinked and clanked against the glowing mound of Ram’rl’s weapons and armor, but they did not glow from the heat. Not yet. The fire–
‘how how did this happen how how how’
–was simply reflecting off the innumerable gleaming blades as it climbed slowly up the steelwood walls. It hadn’t reached the roof yet, the steelwood was slow to burn, there still could be time. He could–
‘the lab get to the lab protect the Mage’s knowledge’
–get down the ladder, hide himself in the safety of Iuqon’s cavern, wait until morning when the wreckage of the blaze had cooled and crumbled atop the trapdoor, sealing him forever beneath the floor if it did not collapse in on him first. No, Albey could not hide in the secret cellar, he would die down there and leave it to be found by–
‘Gobon he did this the twisted scourge came in the night a’search for the Mage’s knowledge’
–whoever may chance to wander along the path which would bring them to the clearing on The Hillside. There was only one way out of this if Albey wished to keep his Life, and how he did wish it so, for Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a lived, he spread the Plague of Decay and broke The Triad and forced Albey to bury his friends, the grandest ‘mans the Poet had ever known, and now he’d come back to finish the job and collect the spoils of his awful War.
Yes, there was only one way for Albey to escape the fire alive and ensure that Gobon – to ensure that evil did not prevail, and that was to destroy the secret laboratory. Battling time and the smoke clawing at his lungs, Albey reached hastily for the quill sheathed to his ches–
“GAH!!” the Mad Poet screamed, drawing away his bloodied right hand, a crescent gash in its palm. He craned his head to examine his chest and found seven ragged shanks of metal curled out from the center of what was once the sheathe of his quill. “NO! You fiend! You vile wyrm, you wicked blaspheme!”
Gobon the In’Flu-Enz’a had intended to burn a hole through the Poet’s chest, but he only succeeded in igniting the infinite wellspring of bottomless black ink housed within the enchanted quill. Albey was unharmed, as the protection magick Iuqon cast upon him before Ram’rl shoved him from the top of Jericho Tower was still in effect, but the Poet’s instrument was gone. All that was left was the medium holstered to his hip, and Albey knew he would not use it for writing.
“There’s only one way,” Albey growled to himself as he rolled and stood. “I must destro–”
The second lantern, the one which once stood on the nightstand beside Iuqon’s bed, burst into searing inky flames, further spreading the conflagration. The floor beneath the weapons was beginning to catch then. Soon Albey would be trapped inside.
Without wasting but another moment, Albey drew a deep breath of bitterest smoke through his nose and stepped up on the mound of glowing blades, running with feet flat to the far edge of The Lodge. Albey’s own bed was the farthest from the wall he crashed into, and his lantern had not burned off its fuel supply. He grabbed it, ignoring the sizzle and dark smoke released when the heated metal handle cauterized the stab wound in his palm, and spun ‘round to face the laddered shaft. It was clear of flames, as was the floor around it, so with a mighty leap Albey flew and landed on its edge, coming all too close to losing his Balance and plummeting down, breaking his neck upon landing. Then Gobon would have both the Mage’s knowledge and the bottomless black ink; then he would truly be unstoppable.
With a plan already formed in his head, Albey raised the lantern above the laddered shaft and let it go, not waiting for it to crash before opening his holster and taking out the scroll. It flattened for him immediately, as if it knew what must be done, and even though his world burned around him, the Mad Poet managed a smile. He dipped the corner of the magick papyrus in the bubbling pool of burning ink dripping off what was once Iuqon’s nightstand and, when the flame had spread to cover the entire bottom edge, dropped the scroll down the shaft. There was not an explosion but a whispered hiss, and Albey knew the ink had caught. Iuqon’s lab and all the books within, all the potions and all the artifacts, all the knowledge would burn with The Lodge. Albey only had to escape then, and all would be we–
Something creaked and moaned, shifting above him. Something large. Something heavy. Albey looked up with horror to see that the flames, aided with the splattered ink which once fueled The Triad’s lanterns, had spread to the ceiling, had weakened the ceiling, had damned the Mad Poet to die.
The Lodge, a burning monument of lost knowledge, collapsed on top of Albey. He lost consciousness before his body hit the floor.
This has been the third subchapter of the fourth chapter of The Face of Fear, a novel about bigfoot written by the writer in Untitled Bigfoot Project. Here is everything you need to know about it:
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
The Hillside Commons has a Facebook page. Here’s that.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. From this day on, we move forever forward~