Friday is here! Yes, indeed. Ok, here is the last part of Iyrico. This one is kinda long because there really wasn’t any good spot to split it.
If you’re new to the Iyrico party, links to the previous posts are below.
If you aren’t the patient sort, you can access the story in its entirety at:
The wind shifted direction, pelting the house with sand, rattling the gutters. It was stronger than usual, Levi thought, angry.
His heart in his throat, he entered the room.
It moaned. She moaned. Whatever lay beneath the bed let a mournful, otherworldly sound he couldn’t definitively identify as male or female. Could Nessa make a sound like that?
“You aren’t scaring me.” He insisted.
He glanced back to see the faithful hound had refused to follow his master. The dog hung his head shamefully, but the fear in his eyes was unmistakeable.
“Don’t tell me she’s got you fooled.” Levi knealt next to the bed to move the bed skirt away.
Too much light. That was his first thought. The room had no windows. No lamps pushed back the shadows. The only illumination came from the hallway behind him. Yet, he could see the patch of floor under the bed as easily as if the daylight had somehow traveled in from the front door, slithered down the hall to coil beneath this piece of furniture, the death bed.
Enveloped in the stark illumination, a long cloud of brown smoke swished back and forth. It swirled to form fleeting shapes, a hollow-eyed face here, a skeletal hand there, and they vanished so quickly Levi could barely make them out before they were gone.
Terror riveted him to the spot. He couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe. It had him, this mass of disease, and it moaned again. The outline of a hand formed once more, the smoke stopping its ebb and flow motion to build solidity, and the color of it darkened. Smokey tendrils became dense tangles of flesh, fingers spreading. Then came a shoulder, neck, and chin. It grabbed Levi’s wrist.
He got hold of himself and kicked away, hitting the closet door behind him. He scrambled for the bedroom door, and he didn’t need to look to know it was following.
Hound dodged his clumsy retreat, and they both made for the front door. It swung open easily to fresh air and sunshine, a world where the Iyrico didn’t exist. He bolted out into the yard, stumbling onto the grass, blind until his eyes adjusted to the day. He landed on his hands and knees.
Between him and the driveway, a line of menacing dogs sat. They growled a chorus of malice, drooled at the prospect of tearing into Levi’s flesh. The largest of them, a black mutt with a white stomach and a war-wounded face readied himself for a pounce.
Here, faced with his own kind, Hound found his courage. He put himself between Levi and the dogs. He crouched and growled louder than the rest. This was him giving his master a chance to escape.
Levi turned and struggled to his feet as he ran, around the side of the house where the shrill cries of dogs in battle collided with the roar of the ocean far below. His shoes slid in the soft mix of dirt and sand. He rounded the corner, and the endlessness of the ocean stole his breath. White-blue sky stretched before him, the void more terrible than ever. Death awaited there on the jagged rocks and the depths beyond.
Levi had nowhere to go. The demon inside. The dogs and the ocean outside. He wheeled in a circle, considering the woods to the side of the house. Maybe he could climb a tree.
A thump, a pulse trembled the ground, shook Levi down to his marrow. He froze, trying to figure out the direction from which it had come. It thumped again, a thing so deep, it moved the soil. Cracks formed from the base of the house, dark lines reaching for Levi’s feet. He backed away, closer to the edge of the cliff.
A larger version of the same swirling cloud he had seen under the bed pushed against the windows. It stretched from one end of the house to the other, forming faces, then letting them go.
Pebbles crumbled from the wall. They tumbled down the stone, around the door straining against its latch. Pressure was building inside.
An explosion of darkness threw Levi to the ground. He landed hard on his back, near the edge of the cliff, in the dirt. Debris rained. He curled into a ball until the shower waned.
Feeling the expanse of ocean, the wide open space about to swallow him, he scooted away, through shards of glass all around, far too much glass to have come from the house. He hastily brushed it from his hair and the folds of his shirt as if it might bite him. He got to his feet.
The dark cloud had escaped the confines of Cliff House. It smothered all detail from the land and eddied around him, alive and coiling, twisting into shapes, then losing them just as easily. It smelled of sulfur, he thought, of campfire and rich, wet dirt.
Hound howled somewhere in the distance. It struck Levi, not as a sound of distress, but one of searching. The dog was lost in the fog on the other side of the house.
Aside from the howl and the crunch of his shoes on shards of glass, Levi could hear nothing else. The ocean had fallen silent, and no breeze whispered in the trees. The rest of the world had gone to sunnier places.
Cliff House always had an abandoned look to it, the way it slumped against the cliff and sagged in the middle. But with the windows gone, it had taken on a new level of dilapidation. The back door hung off to the side by its bottom hinge. Intense darkness lurked inside, like an inky curtain draped over all indications of human presence.
He stepped onto the back stairs. Inches away, he still could see nothing of the kitchen. He reached for the blackness. His hand passed through the veil of night with no resistance. He stepped inside.
The temperature dove to a dead cold. Once he crossed the threshold, he could make out a black and gray version of the interior of the house. The furniture, stripped of color, seemed false, like a mirage of itself.
The walls creaked. The floor hummed, a vibration coming from the junk room. He followed it to the source.
Grandma Mola had buried the demon’s prison in mounds of junk. It was the same room from which she’d pulled the top she gave him. Had she known the Iyrico was there all along?
Everything rattled and clanked and shook in the vibration. He moved closer, sticking to the path, stepping over whatever had fallen in his way.
Then he saw her.
Nessa in her dress, her eyes rolled back into her head, her mouth hanging agape, levitated inches above the floor. She was a ghost in the night, as pale as any corpse could strive to be. And though she remained perfectly still, she made a noise that was a mix of crying and shivering. Inky smoke coiled around her wrists.
“Nessa?” He asked, “Can you hear me?”
On the floor in front of her, he found the wooden planks broken away. A hole gaped. He looked inside.
A round, metal plate lay askew – the door to the demon’s prison. The monster had opened the portal, but it didn’t yet have the strength to step out completely. This manifestation of its spirit was a part of the whole. The rest, the full horror, waited to break free. He felt the Iyrico staring up from the void.
A voice, a wheezing sound from a throat choked with rocks, told him, “Choose.”
Memories flooded his mind, a slightly younger version of his cousin getting him in trouble, the current version of her snipping, snapping, tattling, and locking him out for the stray dogs. She taunted him. These visions were intended to rile Levi. The demon forced an image of Nessa’s face contorted in anger. She screamed at him, told him how much she wanted him to die.
The haze constricted around them. His thin view of the house vanished.
“Choose.” It spoke again.
The Iyrico was a monster conceived in a moment of hatred. It sought the same emotion from Levi. It needed hate to escape its curse.
Levi threw his arm around his cousin’s waist and twisted away. She was lighter than he expected, and she broke free easily, and then he was running though the house, dragging her by her arms while she leaned on his back for support.
Cliff House shuddered down to its frame as if an earthquake had taken hold. He pushed through, kept his feet moving against the buckling floor. An avalanche of dishes slid from the cabinets to break on the counter and the floor. Levi dodged the table. He cleared a chair with the demon on his heels. Its exhalation, the rage pouring from its mouth, infected the air. It screamed in the voices of many, and the house went black.
Levi lost his bearings, so he stopped running. He turned in a circle, looking for some sign he was still part of the living world and still in Cliff House.
“Levi?” Nessa awoke. She stood on her own, “What is this place? Where are we?”
Hound barked in the front yard. Levi grabbed her hand. They followed the sound for a distance that seemed too long. Without seeing his surroundings, he began to doubt they were heading the right direction. He stopped. Hound continued to bark, but now the sound seemed to come from all around.
The floor shook harder, too violently for them to continue to run. Nessa clung to him.
“Why is this happening?” She asked.
A glimmer of light shone in the direction from which they’d just come. It twinkled like a star, its rays stretching toward them. Illumination spread along the floor to reveal a clawed monster in silouette, dragging itself toward them. Nessa screamed.
He turned to try and run again but the pitch of the floor sent him sprawling. It slanted, back toward the approaching demon.
As the light beyond swallowed the darkness, it took on the white-blue of the sky. It consumed the floor, now crumbling away from them, into the ocean far below. The walls of Cliff House reverberated with a sound like the roar of a train growing closer, and the light grew brighter. The Iyrico shrieked.
Again, Levi made for the front door, the direction he hoped was right. He hauled Nessa along with him, tripped, and ran again, until he struck a hard surface. He felt for the knob and found it. The door opened. Hands gripped his arms and the front of Nessa’s dress, and hauled them the rest of the way through.
Levi’s mother and Nessa’s father scooped them up and ran with Hound alongside them. The ground dissolved, taking the house with it and the grass and the well. They passed the car for the driveway where leaves rained from shaking trees.
And then, all of a sudden, the world went still. The five of them fell into a heap, everyone holding each other as they waited to see if the disaster had passed. In the silence that reigned, the only movement was the last of the leaves fluttering to the pavement.
Levi stood. He started toward the new edge of the world.
“No. It’s too dangerous.” His mother held his hand.
“I have to see.”
She let him go.
The collapse had stopped several feet out from the car. He looked over the side.
A pile of rubble lay at the bottom of the cliff. He made out shingles from the roof and wooden beams. The house had become part of the Iyrico’s prison. Afterward, he would wonder if Cliff House had developed some sentient desire to hold the demon, or if the earth sought to keep it from claiming any more victims. It was an unnatural thing. Mankind had no need of more evil.
“What if it gets free?” Nessa appeared next to him.
Levi shook his head, “It’s too weak. It needed hate to build strength.”
“It was the Iyrico, wasn’t it? I saw it in my dream.”
His mother and his Uncle Dean joined them, as did Hound, who sat at Levi’s side.
Dean said, “I don’t suppose that offer for us to stay with you is still on the table.”
Levi was okay with the idea. He didn’t mind his cousin so much anymore.