Nyx moved closer to Chronos. Primordial versus Primordial.
“So what is it, Chronos? Why do you want this?”
Three-headed Chronos looked at me and said, “I told you, don’t tell anyone else. This voids the deal.”
I stared back at him and replied, “You also told me I could get the staff unhurt. That turned out to be a lie, so I’d say we’re even.”
Chronos smiled. “So perhaps love doesn’t suit the God of Hate?”
Eros stepped closer, staff in hand and said, “What does that mean?”
Chronos laughed. It was a disturbing rumbling of a laugh that reminded me of boulders in a landslide. In a flash, his serpent head shot forward and grabbed the staff out of Eros’ grasp. Chronos grabbed it with his human hands, then he made his fatal mistake. He stopped to gloat.
“You pathetic idiots. There are an infinite number of timelines. I am in every one of them, as is the staff. Once I acquire it in two timelines, I am able to open wormholes and crossover from one to another. Eventually I will rule all realms for all time.”
As Chronos flaunted his vanity, none of us stood still. Eros pulled both his pistols and opened up as I fired multiple arrows. Chronos manipulated the staff and time twisted around us. Bullets and arrows scattered around the small cell in a random manner. Not to be outdone, Nyx grabbed the head of the staff as Chronos waved it past her. With a wrenching pull, she jerked it from his grasp.
“No, Chronos, it’s over,” gasped Nyx as she pulled back from his grasp.
Chronos lunged against his chains, they creaked and strained, but held him in place.
“Answer me,” she continued as she pointed to me, “is he from this dimension?”
As an answer, Chronos hissed like a serpent from all three heads.
Nyx nodded her head and replied, “That’s all the answer I need.”
“What now?” asked Eros as he popped a new magazine into each of his M1911’s.
Nyx looked at me and said, “I’m sorry, mellilla, this must be destroyed.”
I nodded. My mind was numb as I thought of spending the rest of eternity watching the woman I love, love someone else.
Nyx nodded back and raised the staff over her head and slammed it down across her knee.
The staff cracked and splintered. Chronos looked horrified. There was a tear, a rift, in the very fabric of this universe. We all felt it.
“No, you fool!” hissed Chronos at Nyx. “You will end this timeline and destroy everything that was created when it came into existence.”
Nyx looked at Eros. He let a wry smile play across his face as he nodded to her.
“Do it,” Eros said.
Nyx raised the staff again to break it over her knee.
“No!” I yelled. I didn’t understand what they realized the moment Chronos made his proclamation.
Nyx looked at me and smiled, poignant. I heard my brother’s voice from the other side of the cell.
“Don’t worry, brother, you aren’t of this dimension.”
Nyx glanced at Eros, then looked back at me.
“Kiss me when you get back,” she said. The smile lingered, still faint around the corners of her mouth.
“I promise,” I said as a single tear slid down my dirty face.
With all her strength, she broke the magical staff over her knee.
The explosion knocked me backward against the cell wall. I saw the multitude of clocks falling around me, their slow ticking and tocking warped and strange as a backdrop to the shrill screeching coming from Chronos. I watched, like in a dream, as they shattered on the floor of the cell all around us.
I staggered to my feet at once. I was cut and bleeding all over. Everything slowed, time was in turmoil as the magic released from the staff washed over us. Nyx was nowhere to be seen and Eros slumped in the opposite corner of the cell. Even as I struggled to reach him, the ceiling and walls of this place began to melt away. As they did, there was nothing but blackness beyond. First Eros, then Chronos, fell away into the unfathomable abyss that surrounded me and was encroaching fast. As it approached, everything in this world was consumed and sucked into the black void.
Everything was gone, and I stood on the sliver of universe that remained. I turned again to look for Nyx, but she was gone as well. An odd keening pierced my senses, as if this universe was already mourning itself. Only a small shiny object lay on the floor near my feet. For no logical reason, I lunged and grabbed it, just as everything disappeared and I was flung into the darkness.
The feeling was tumultuous, not unlike my previous near-death experience. But it was brief and after what felt like only several seconds, gravity pulled on me again. I realized I just teleported and was lying on the floor of Nyx’s apartment in Tartarus.
I raised my head in time to see Chronos standing over me in the next room.
“I tried to do it the easy way, but you wouldn’t. So be it,” he hissed at my prone figure in the next room.
I watched as that Dinlas, me, struggled to stand, but the old man was too fast. He spun the staff around and pressed the head of it into Dinlas’ chest. I remembered well the feeling as I watched me thrash and writhe from the crippling pain..
“Get off me,” that Dinlas gasped out.
“Goodbye, Dinlas,” he hissed as he leaned. “Enjoy your new life.” With that, the staff flashed a blinding light, and the old me disappeared.
I was perfectly still as I watched the scene unfold. After I disappeared from the other room, Chronos stood and straightened his robe. He glanced into the room, at Nyx in bed, but then his eyes fell on me lying on the floor. His face twisted into a rage.
“You…you’re as worthless as your brother,” he hissed as he advanced toward me. There was little time to act before he would strike me with that accursed staff and send me to who knows where. That’s when the thought struck me.
Nyx was wounded by my pistol. When she insisted on trying to block my bullets, she was wounded by a ricochet. Chronos is primordial, same as Nyx.
I keep a pistol under the mattress on my side of the bed, within reach of where I was now lying on the floor. Now I just had to reach it without being time shifted. Chronos stopped several feet from me. He was standing on a throw rug, like a runner, that was on the floor next to the bed.
He pointed the staff at me and snarled, “Where I send you this time, you’ll never find your way back.”
With a heave and a jerk, I literally pulled the rug out from under him. Even before he hit the floor, my hand was buried between the mattress and box spring. As soon as it closed around the M1911, I had it back out and pointed at him. The room shimmered and he was back on his feet without appearing to move. This time I was ready for him, though. With the gun pointed dead center mass, I unloaded all seven shots into him at point blank range.
The bullets ripped through his torso as he stumbled back, cursing. With a gasp, he spun the Time Staff in a circle and created a wormhole which then closed around him.
He was gone. He surely wasn’t dead, but he was gone.
As soon as Chronos disappeared, the wolves, Calli and Ao, sprang to their feet as if a spell was lifted. They crowded around me and the noise roused Nyx as well.
“Din?” she asked sleepily, “what are you doing on the floor?”
I dragged myself up on the side of the bed, dropped the pistol on the nightstand, and answered, “It’s hard to explain.”
She raised up on her elbows and turned to me, a concerned look on her face. Shell casings were all over the floor and the acrid smell of cordite permeated the room.
“Are you hurt?” she asked as I flopped backward next to her.
“Yes and no,” I answered as I became aware of a stabbing pain in the palm of my off hand. I opened my still clenched fist. Both Nyx’s and my eyes looked down at a moon pendant, on a broken silver chain that I gripped tightly in my fist.
“Whose is that?” she asked.
I looked at her and said, “It’s yours.”
Nyx shook her head and said, “I’ve never seen that before in my life.”
I chuckled and said, “Nevertheless, it is yours.” After a moment, I leaned over and kissed her tenderly.
“What was that?” she asked, perplexed.
“I promised you I would kiss you when I got back.”