Carefully going through the gate, we found Merrick standing in front of Tolivar. Tolivar had been tied for sacrifice. Seeing us Merrick yelled at us to leave. “What are you doing here? Are you insane? Get out of here, this doesn’t concern you.”
Turning back to Tolivar, he began laughing. “You’re too late.” and he pointed to the blood pooling at Tolivar’s feet, absorbed by the ground. “Leave while you can, the deal is made.” Looking into his eyes, all I could see was madness. There would be no reasoning with him. Tolivar was getting faint, closer to death at each drop of blood. “It is too late, the spell is already being undone as we speak. If you go now you won’t be caught in the middle of it. You brought it on yourself Tolivar, this end. We both did.”
“How did Tolivar bring this death?” I asked trying to be calm. Merrick pointed to Tolivar.
His blood line started it. They tried to capture the Djinn in the first place and failed, so it destroyed them and ravaged Tokuno. When they found a man named Terimen Delemor, they managed to trap it. Sound familiar, the last name? They used the Traversis to trap the Djinn and it worked. But the fools, you don’t trap a Djinn.” I looked around and saw the others had seen Merrick’s madness. All we could do is listen. Rubbing his head, he continued, “You can’t kill a Djinn, you can harm it, but you don’t kill it, and you can’t keep it trapped. It was bound to escape one way or another and they doomed us. But I found a way, a blood deal.” Kneeling he began stabbing Tolivar in rage. “I let her die, it was my fault, I was so concerned with what you were doing, I missed it…I let my sister, Dahlia’s mother die!” he cried in anguish. “If I had been there sooner…But I can make it up. I figured out what to do…it is too late to stop it.” While we watched, fire and smoke began to come out of a golden vase on the ground. From the smoke, a horrible creature appeared. ” You, Izumu! Keep them away and I will give you what you want. Do not harm them.”
Merrick looked on in surprise when Izumu attacked us. He had forgotten, no one commands a Djinn. The battle seemed to rage forever. Each time we thought we had won, Izumu summoned even stronger demons. In vain, Merrick tried to stop the slaughter. Izumu summoned even more demons.
Grabbing the knife, Merrick whispered, “Death, too much death. But it is okay, because there is no one left for it to have revenge upon. The Traversis is gone. Elise is dead, or did Agaris not tell you? I am ending it. Now the Djinn will never come to Britannia.”
I was able to grab his hand in time. “I don’t understand. What did Elise have to do with a Djinn?”
“It would have found her and I could buy one life with mine. Merrick calmly explained, ” Alaira may have been dangerous but she changed… when we gave her a chance, she changed. How could I take that away from her? So I offered the Djinn my life in exchange for her, and Tolivar’s in exchange for my sister. The Djinn agreed.” Pleadingly, he looked at me, “You understand don’t you, I had to bring her back for Dahlia. It was the only way.” Then jerking his hand from mine, he shoved the knife into his chest.
Merrick’s blood drew Izumu’s attention. ” Such a clever mortal. Yet the man took his own life, a curious gesture.
“What deal did Merrick make with you?” I demanded, looking up at the dark form.
“What deal, oh? He seemed surprised that I didn’t know the deal Merrick had made. His look made me nervous. How could we force him to live up to a deal, when we knew so little about it. “Two lives for two lives and my freedom. You will find her in the land of the Winged ones in a month’s time. You will not find her before then no matter how hard you seek.” For a centuries time I will rest, as I have agreed. But a century is a long time and it is so easy to forget a promise. Especially when those you made the promise to are buried beneath the earth.” Izumu’s laughter chilled my blood. Did that mean if we forget his deal, he will break it. How can we remember.
“So we must remember the deal, for the promise to hold?” I spoke more to myself than to Izumu.
He tossing the golden vase to me. It was still hot from his escape. “Remembered that, others have not, even after I warned them But now they lie in ruins in dust and blood. A reminder. You may hold a thing for a time, but you can never keep it. It is true of anything, but more so true of I. And if it is only death that separates us. Then there is no place you can hide from me.” He smiled. A smile that made my blood freeze. While his form began to thin, he summoned an Invoker. “For you a parting gift… perhaps not death, but as close as I can muster, while keeping my word.” As it attacked me, he left in a haze of smoke. The battle raged on. The invokers were powerful and deadly. It seemed as if we had been fighting forever.
At last the Royal Gaurds and Agaris arrived. The battle at last finished. He came over to look at the bodies of Tolivar and Merrick. Sighing, I knew it had gotten free, because it visited Evidias moments ago and warned her, she could not so easily seal it away.
I believe it hopes we will help it break its promise…” Some of the Tokuno citizens I was speaking to warned me not to trifle with a Djinn, they say you cannot kill or contain one for long. That it is best to leave them be. He looked back over at the two bodies. We should bury those two. In graves where their names will be forgotten.”
I felt I had to speak in favor of Merrick. “Yes he did great evil, but he has also done great good. Agaris, Merrick was not himself. The dust from the lamp changed him. He should not be forgotten. If only for Dahlia’s sake.”
Agaris thought about what I said. “He could have escaped, and Alaira was not… to be fair she has been… maybe it was worth it, Merrick. He sighed, ” If the Djinn would have come for revenge on those who harmed him… it would have come to Britannia. Now it won’t because of him. ”
Sadly I added, “He seemed to have given up after the death of his sister. It could be his guilt drove him mad.”
Agaris frowned, “That could be. He could have felt that he was living on borrowed time. Yes, Tamias, I think you are right. We should have him buried somewhere proper at least. No matter what he did.”
Many of the party nodded in agreement. “The vase could be part of the grave marker. It would remind people of the Djinn’s promise. Perhaps similar to Queen Dawn’s husband’s.”
“Tamais, you are right. It would be fitting. He did give his life for it. I will speak to the King. You will need to excuse me for now, I need to check on Evidias, Time Without Dreams seemed upset. I also must speak to Tavian. He should know if there is a chance for Dahlia’s mother to return. I will let him decide what to tell her. She has been through too much for one her age.” Turning he stepped through a gate.
That night at Britannia’s Cat’s Lair , the company was quiet. Each of us think of what had happened these last years. Could it really be the realm was at peace? I was the last to leave. I now knew how Merrick’s ballad would end. He would be neither a hero or villan. Instead a warning to all of revenge’s grief and the Djinn, it summoned.