Read Parts I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

 

“It’s here,” he shouted.  “Forget about the goat.  We have to find the stone or we’ll all be dead.” 

Oetho sprang into action. He pushed crates aside and waded deep into the clutter.  At a table near the wall, he toppled over a stack of books to get at a wide cabinet of tiny drawers.  “It has got to be here somewhere.  I never did properly catalog much of anything, always too busy with imperial summons and wars and such.  It’s a wonder I had any time at all to study the thing in the first place.”  He pulled open a drawer and found only a nub of binding chalk.

Behind him, he still heard Amana shouting, yet paid little attention.  On the fifth try he found the stone.  It was just a lump of sedimentary rock, speckled and gray, the size of a fig, hung on a tarnished silver chain.

 Amana screamed again, this time in pain.  Yet it was the sudden stop that caught Oetho’s attention and sent a chill down his spine.  Over the top of a crate he saw the two of them, Amana now held at her throat. 

“Amana,” Oetho shouted.  He clambered back out of the stacks and dashed toward them.  “Unhand her!” He cried. Amana struggled, both hands prying against its meaty forearm, as her feet dangled inches above the floor.  The Ban-Tho brandished the coat rack with its other hand, though discarded it as Oetho approached.

“I break her neck,” the creature roared.

Oetho froze, his hands held up in plea.  “No. Wait,” he said.  His mind raced, yet the thought of losing Amana was overwhelming.  In desperation he uttered, “Anything you want just let her go.”

The Ban-Tho grinned again.  “Take me witz you,” it said.

Oetho was baffled.  The idea that the creature understood what he was up to was beyond imagination.  Of course they mastered speech and some complex thinking, yet it still was a savage and would know nothing of science or mysticism.

“Let her go, and I will set you free.  You may go where you please.” 

A ceramic tile struck the iron lattice holding the window glass and the whole structure fell inward with a clatter. Out of the corner of his eye, Oetho could see large fragments of stone flying freely within the whirlwind.

“I free, Myztic.” The Ban-Tho stepped across the boundary of the chalk circle upon the floor.  Oetho staggered backward.  “Djookzin not send me here.” It said.  “I sendz me.  Look for Djookzin.  Try stop Djookzin.  Now too late.  Nowhere to go.” 

Screams of terror could be heard echoing above the din of the storm outside.  Oetho heard only the rasps of Amana struggling for air.

“You takez me or she dies.” 

 

Continue to Part IX