I glanced offur my shoulder and looked at my team; they were positioned in a circle almost back to back weapons ready, as Fudge's rescuees hunkered down safely in the middle of our protective ring.
An eerie chittering noise started and then I heard the buzzing sound of the Yelfs wild hunt getting closer. Taking a breath, I turned to the fuzzy pom pom on my shoulder and whispered to the creature. “Little dude, mew couldn’t have picked a wurse place to be right now.”
The Old One was strutting around like some self-impawtant god inciting his minions, and I could feel the arrogance and hubris oozing from his inky aura. He believed he was truly invincible.
He called to his minions, gesturing and postulating. “Am I not lord and dominion here? Am I not your faithful keeper? Have I not cared for all of you here?”
The creatures made all kinds of weird sounds as they cheered their eveel master. The Wild Hunt was drawing closer and for a moment I wundered what was going to happen when they got here but I decided to wurry about that in roughly 45 seconds.
“Hey mew ugly freaker!” I shouted as I walked towards The Old One.
The Old One spun around and snarled at me. “You puny creature, give in now and I may be lenient with you... perhaps let my pets feast upon you and your friends instead of my usual objective.” He pointed behind me at my team and leered, his forked-tongue flicking around his maw with glee.
My hackles bristled and the pink pom pom chirruped softly in my ear and don’t ask me how but I knew what he said and it was this. “I will help you defeat him, trust me.” I winked and nodded just a fraction.
Standing not 10 feet from The Old One I held Humphrey’s katana loosely in my paw and said dryly. “Come on big guy, show me what mew’ve got! I’m only a puny little creature, so let’s get this offur with because I’m really sick of this cesspit!”
The Old One took a step closer and I could see his glowing red eyes flicker.
“And while I think about it this cesspit is purrfect for mew, but to be honest, it’s just not my thing...” I grinned my toothiest grin and continued. “Though I can see the allure for mew, a pathetic old has-been who can’t make it in the real wurld of gods, mew have to keep yourself holed up here where there's no competition, no one to challenge mew...” I could see I was pressing some really big buttons now. “These creatures mew’ve got, is that the best mew can do, honestly dude, I’m so disappointed!”
The Old One shrieked and his minions joined in, and then he made a sweeping gesture and it all went silent again as he snarled. “I’m going to rip your heart out and feast upon it while you look on in your dying moments.”
I let out a weary sigh and growled. “I’m waiting mew fugly freaker, bring it on!” I stepped forward; one step, two steps, three steps and halted.
Something flickered across The Old One's face, I knew that tiny tell only too well; it was uncertainty. This thing had ruled by absolute fear and now it didn’t know what to make of my show.
I checked my watch and looked at him. “Tick tock dude, I’m not getting any younger and your minions will think mew’re weak and pathetic because that’s what mew really are, nothing but a cowardly bully and I hate bullies!”
The Old One lifted his hand and shot a barrage of purple motes at me, but before I could react the pom pom creature placed us inside a glowing pink bubble, like a force-field and the motes fizzled out on contact.
“That was purretty cool, thanks!” I whispered to the pom pom on my shoulder, it chirruped in reply.
I could see the bafflement spread across The Old One's face as I took 3 more steps towards him. We were now only a swords distance apart as he loomed offur me.
The chittering began again and I could feel the shift of energy fill the stone circle, it was ambivalence towards their master. I heard Smooch mutter through my comms set that The Wild Hunt were landing and lining the top of the wall above us, he got another pile of grenades out and made ready. I glanced briefly upwards and that's when The Old One reached forward and tried to snatch my new pal off my shoulder and I twisted sharply, ducking under his gnarled hand.
Changing my grip on the katana, I started to bring it up as inky-black tendrils shot out from The Old Ones aura, trying to wrap me up tighter than a new Mummy in ancient Egypt.
“Oh no mew don’t!” I heard Pandora shout, and Bast knows what she did but the icy cold tendrils shot back like they’d been zapped with 50,000 volts.
The Old One stepped back with start, the look on his face was utter outrage tinged with fear and in that moment it gave me the time and room needed to bring the sword up and strike him straight through the heart. He neffur saw it coming.
His blood-red eyes bulged in abject hatred as the realisation of what had happened filtered through his mind, he looked down at the sword sticking out of his chest and made a grab for it in one gnarled hand, while trying to seize me in his other. As his hand gripped the blade he growled; his ear-to-ear maw wide open revealing a set of gnashers that would make Jaws weep and said. “You can't hurt me with this worthless trinket!”
Suddenly the sword began to glow: brilliant white light dazzled filling the arena, blinding The Old One and his minions. They began to wail and screech as the intense glow burned them, though I felt no effect. The Old One tried to pull it out of his chest, and at that moment I heard something else; singing. It was the most beautiful sound effur to fill my ears and then I realised why Humphreys' sword was called, The Sword of Angels.
The sword began to tremble in my firm grip as the light dazzled brighter and brighter, and the song of the angels rang out like the most divine aria I’d effur heard, their seraphic chorale resonating throughout the entire labyrinth.
The Old One screamed, "NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!" As I twisted the blade in his chest; the light briefly intensified, and winked out the moment I withdrew it in one swift motion. The sword was covered in black, steaming ichor as I looked up and met The Old One's gaze. I could see the light dimming in his eyes as he clutched the open wound, the life-blood pumping through his fingers and he stumbled, falling to his knees before me.
Lifting the blade again, I swung it in a high-arc as the eveel creatures started to bolt fur the exit. Their terrifying howls and cries were deafening as they trampled each other to flee.
The sword came down and The Old One screamed again; the shriek drowning out effurything else in the labyrinth.
The blade connected with The Old One's neck; passing completely through the skin, muscle and bone as though it was still gliding through thin-air, his head landing with a rather unceremonious thud a few feet away.
Horice opened the door to BD1 [Bomb Disposal Room 1] and entered still carrying Snowie and Posie. He gently placed them on the ground and said in his soft rumble. “Tis time little ones, we need to be opening that door post-haste.” His trunk gestured towards the eveel Grandfather clock still sitting in the centre of the room, radiating the same sense of smugness.
“Mew want us to open that door?” Posie asked, her eyes wide.
Horice nodded and then the strangest thing happened; the orb they’d been searching for suddenly appeared in the room.
“But that’s the...” Snowie began in shock.
“Aye little’un that indeed is thee orb,” Horice chuckled softly. “Basil knew ye’d be looking for it and asked me to make certain that ye’d all be together at exactly the right time, and that time is now!”
“But how are we going to get them out of there and back here?” Posie wundered aloud.
Snowie was staring at the eveel clock and reached out a tentative paw to touch it. “STOP!” Horice bellowed and took a step closer, adding in his softer tone. “Miss Snowie, let me be checking it first.” Using his trunk he gingerly touched the clock and was suddenly stuck, completely riveted to the spot. The huge sapphire in his forehead, usually invisible unless he’s using his magick, popped up and began to glow with its ethereal blue light. “Ahhhhh,” he mused thoughtfully as his psyche fully connected with the clocks’ and the door flew open. When no adverse reaction happened, he withdrew his trunk and instructed. “Now little’uns, throw the orb through the doorway.”
Without a moment's hesitation, Posie reached up, grabbed the orb which was suspended mid-air and tossed the small, glowing sphere into the eveel dimension through the clocks’ open-door just as it began to chime Midnight. **BONG**
The entire labyrinth began to shake with even more vehemence than before. I turned to see my team opening fire on some of the creatures; who instead of trying to escape with the others, headed our way to take revenge fur their slain master.
“B Team, we need a way out NOW!” I yelled as walls began to topple and fall all around us.
Looking up something caught my eye and I raised the blade again but stopped mid-swing when I recognised the object and I smiled inwardly as I knew in that moment Horice, Posie and Snowie had come through and I whooped loudly. The orb was on a direct course to me and I stretched out my left paw and it landed with a gentle thwump. I gripped it tightly and its power coursed through me, filling every fibre of my being with a power so old, that there were no wurds to describe other than to say, it was the primal power of the divine Creator himself.
Amber was trying to make her way towards me when a troll-guard suddenly leapt out of the rubble and thrust a spear at her. Pandora who was following waved her paw to the right and the troll guard tumbled away, the spear falling to the ground as Amber stood stock-still waiting for the inevitable. Two seconds later when she realised that she was in fact, not harpooned or kebabbed she jumped the last remaining steps towards me. “Phew that was close!” she muttered and then said. “Humphrey reckons this place is going to collapse in on itself and we need to go now, any ideas?”
I opened my paw and she smiled when she saw the orb. “Bloody brilliant Basil!” she grinned and then yelled. “B Team and anyone else that wants to escape, come forward now!”
The Nisse, Camomile appeared at my side and behind her I could see a rag-taggle assemblage of creatures forming and she said, “Basil these are all the creatures who have been trapped in here, they need a safe-haven.” I nodded and replied. “Of course they can come with us and I have just the place for them!”
Fudge was next at my side with his colourful menagerie and, he still had the pom pom creatures on his back and I suddenly remembered the one on my shoulder and glanced to make sure it was still there. It was and chirruped loudly as Fudge approached, before jumping onto his shoulder and snuggling close.
Chuffer, Solitaire, GD, Winston and Mad Cat clambered over the fallen columns, followed by Diggs with The B Team bringing up the rear.
Things were getting decidedly dangerous as the last remaining minions of The Old One tried in vain to avenge their fallen master. But Smooch, Parsley and Humphrey were having none of it as they unleashed the grenades at them. **BOOM** **BOOM** **BOOM** They were toast in less time than it took to say, ‘make mine a niptini, shaken not stirred!’ and the last remaining foe was eradicated.
I could feel the orb start to pulse in my paw and I shouted above the sound of crashing, falling blocks. “Effurypurrdy join paws now, if mew’re not holding onto to somepurrdy who’s holding onto me, mew’ll be left behind!” Amber gripped my right paw and we both held onto the sword of angels.
Moments later I could see the creatures all hanging onto each other. Paw on paw, mitten on mitten as we created an unbreakable chain-loop and I yelled. “This is the final call for freedom...” I took one last look around the vile labyrinth, at The Old One laying beneath a pile of rubble, The Wild Hunt had vanished and from all indications we were now the only living things left in the crumbling amphitheatre. “Is effurypurrdy holding on tight?”
I got a definitive yes as a response, and the labyrinth shook with even more vigour as an icy-wind began to whip up and swirl around us. Dust and debris started to fly in all directions as the wind picked up speed, howling like a demented banshee as it swirled with malevolent intent.
“Whateffur mew do don’t let go, no matter what happens!” I called, and I closed my eyes and gripped the pulsing orb tightly in my paw. I concentrated, letting my energy wrap itself around effuryone in the chain until finally the loop was complete and as a single entity we all began to rise off the floor, slowly at furst but then faster and faster we shot skywards towards freedom.
I felt cold-rushing air bristle my fur in so many disconcerting ways as we hurtled towards a tiny patch of black; the doorway to home high-up in the distance. I glanced down briefly and saw the entire labyrinth folding in on itself and begin sucking effurything in like a black-hole.
Suddenly I felt a sharp tug backwards, using every ounce of my strength and will-power I propelled us upwards and out of the gravitational pull. “HOLD ON!” I cried out as we zoomed up and were pulled through the open clock-door into BD1.
Our rag-taggle assemblage crashed in an ungainly heap on the metal-grid floor and I let the breath out I didn’t know I was holding with a definitive whoosh. Jumping to my paws I spun around trying to avoid all manner of creatures and cats as I rushed towards the Grandfather clock, which by the way was not looking so smug now, and I reached into my inside pocket and pulled out a bag, tossing it through the open clock-door in one smooth movement. Humphrey was by my side and zapped the bag with his ray gun, slammed the clock door and began to herd everyone out of the room.
With the room now empty, the door to BD1 closed with a soft whooshing-sound just as the clock struck twelve.
The B Team and I watched with intense curiosity through the bomb-proof windows as the eveel relic began to disintegrate, swirling like a mini-tornado until a few moments later it vanished into the ether with an ear-splitting pop.
Turning to my team, letting out a huge sigh I said. "Dudes, I really need a vay-cay!"
Click here to go to the Epilogue