<--Younger | The First New York Magician | Older-->
I rose as far as my knees and lunged for the spot where I remembered the piano, blinking involuntarily as my eyes tried to compensate for the sudden dark. I heard a crackle and a scream from somewhere ahead of me and to my right, where I presumed the creature was commencing with the 'kill him' part of its instructions.
There was a quick flash and I heard a pop from behind me. I tucked a shoulder and rolled, hit something hard which let out a loud crash and screeching noise, and rolled sideways immediately. There was another pop and the pile of wood and rust I'd hit flickered as flames arose from a spot where the pyrocast had hit. I was perhaps six or seven feet away from it by that point, with my pistol out but with nothing to shoot at.
The room was still in my memory, but I had lost track of my orientation. I froze for second, then reached under my coat and pulled out a familiar round object. There was another shrill scream from somewhere off to my left, cut off suddenly with a horrible burbling sound.
I hadn't liked the bar owner much at all. But he was human. And this was completely out of line.
There had been no sound from the area where the pyrocast had come from. I reached inside my coat again and pulled up a slip, just in case it had an effect on who or whatever I was fighting, and then flipped the light metal sphere away from me towards the crunching sounds now emanating from the darkness. I winced as the grenade spoon flipped away from the sphere with a TWING that sounded far louder to my adrenaline-flushed system than it must have been, and turned away to cover my eyes.
There was a sudden hideous noise, so loud that it felt like being hit with giant pillows over all of my body at once, and even though the slip helped to deflect a great deal of the light, my eyes flashed the red of backlit blood through my lids and arms. As the initial shock faded, there was a continuous tinkling song I realized was the mirrored walls falling to the ground in shards. I rolled again, instinctively, and the crunching noises cut off to be replaced by an immense scream which sounded like a dying steam locomotive. The room had gone darker, the small fire started on the piano wreckage blown out by the grenade blast.
A voice started babbling off to my right, and I came up to a crouch again with the pistol aimed in its general direction. I still couldn't see anything, so I popped a capacitor inside my coat and funneled the power into a quick alchemical cast at my gun. I aimed at the ceiling and fired twice. Two bullets spun out; the first dropped, its energy stolen to improve the cast I'd made, and the second blazed from the barrel in a glare of magnesium. It shattered on the ceiling, dropping blazing bits of magnesium around me in sparkles, and the room lit up slightly. I fired two more cast bullets at the walls, and they, too, left small fragments of burning white near their points of impact. The next round was still jacketed lead, and I rolled away from my firing point and then spun, searching.
There was a huddled shape near the center of one wall of the room. The mirrors hadn't covered the entire perimeter; along the wall opposite where the huddled form was there was what looked like a raw cinder block and concrete wall, filling in an archway. Near that side, there was a large black form wavering with its hands over its head, and near it, a bloody mass showed where the bartender had died. I fired two shots at the black shape. It jerked twice, still screaming the death song of a jet engine, and turned towards me, uncovering its ears. There was no sign of wounds.
I fired at it again, this time pulling the energy back for a Water cast. The familiar silver of the Waters of Life and Death spun from my hands into a wide funnel facing it - but it walked through them, unconcerned. I ejected the clip on my gun, caught the empty and stuffed the replacement into the butt with the ease of too much practice. Turning away from the oncoming unknown, I bounded over to the huddled form of what had seemed to be its master, grabbed it around what looked to be the shoulders, and socketed the gun into the side of its head. The creature stopped and I hauled my prisoner upright. "One more step and I fire."
My opponent stopped screaming and shook its head. It looked mostly undamaged from both the stun grenade and the subsequent gunfire and death cast; I was running out of things I could do to it. I had one more stun grenade, and several clips of ammunition, and (apparently) a hostage.
There was a smaller voice from the form I was holding. "Wait! Wait, do not approach!" The sound was rasping, but sounded pretty much human. I clocked it over the head with the butt of my gun, but as I did, the shape in front of me lifted its head and roared, a strange warbling roar that was...
...familiar. I swung my gun forward again, but before I could get it there, the form I was holding convulsed and a bright point of light appeared in the air in response to the summoning cast. The shape didn't approach it, but roared something else that sounded like language for a few seconds. I could feel the shoulders of the thin form I was still holding shake, and then a much, much firmer voice echoed from the hole in the center of the room: "Kill them both."
"NOOOOOOOO!" The high scream was torn from my prisoner as the black shape started forward again. I thumped it (him?) again with the pistol, and as he folded towards the floor, raised the gun at the oncoming blackness. Before I could fire, though, there was a sound which I realized was familiar.
The wall built up in the archway was rumbling. There is no New Yorker anywhere who cannot recognize the urban call of the subway, and my ears were telling me that it was on the other side of that wall. Subway meant tunnels, which meant escape. The only problem was how to get there.
Realistically, I only had one store of energy high enough. I pulled the second grenade from my belt and popped the pin, holding the spoon against it with my palm. With my right hand, I continued to aim at the oncoming figure and started firing regularly. The first shot passed through its head, which I had time to note had only the most rudimentary of features, and a spray of black came out the back. It staggered for a moment but continued to come on, its steps shaking the mineral floor beneath me. The second shot I pulled back, feeling the energy slide into my left hand around the grenade, and as I held it there I spun the sphere so the spoon popped off. I could feel the slight crackling of the chemical fuse in the grenade, and as I fired again for effect I focused the energy I'd taken into a sphere inside my palm.
I hoped I wouldn't lose my hand.
Just before I figured the fuse was done, I swung slightly to the side and aimed at the center of the archway. I screamed, probably more from fear than anything else since I'd never tried anything this stupid before, but I was fairly sure I didn't have a choice.
The world went silently white.
I couldn't feel the left side of my body, and I wasn't interested in looking. I felt a storm of energy rush into me, pulled into my left side, transmuted by the pocketwatch from kinetic, thermodynamic and electromagnetic into whatever its form of energy was. That storm rose swiftly up my arm and into my torso, filling me like a balloon. Before I could burst, I channeled it out my right arm. My finger squeezed involuntarily, and the Desert Eagle let fly another round, but as this one left the barrel, the bright hot wash of energy swarmed over it and sank in, changed over almost entirely to kinetic.
There was an enormously loud CRACK and with a sudden rumble the archway wall splashed away from me, a two-foot hole opening in the middle and the blocks sagging outward all around it. The figure reached for me; I staggered away to one side, felt its hand swipe my left arm by the sudden pressure on my stance, and then I was past it. I turned my stagger into a run and managed to hit the wall with my right shoulder, realizing at the last second I probably should have used the numb one, but it was too late.
There was the unmistakable sound of falling concrete, and I fell out into a fetid glare which I realized was the wan light of subway bulbs. There was a roar behind me. I staggered to my feet again, still unable to feel my left side, but the Desert Eagle clutched in my right hand, and remembered another day beneath the earth, and another Elder out for my blood. I was shaking too hard to aim, though, so I stuffed the pistol into my coat pocket and began to shamble down the tunnel. I made it perhaps fifteen feet before I heard stone explode outward behind me and another roar. There were the lights of a station some blocks up ahead which might as well have been on the moon for all the good it would do me.
I turned and fell towards the third rail, sending the proper impulses to reach out my left arm. I couldn't tell if it was working.
There was a blinding blue flash and the smell of burnt flesh. I reached inside myself with my last strength and funneled the sinews of New York into a pyrocast, and as the shape loomed over my convulsing form I opened my right hand at its head.
With a massive hissing sound and a flash of orange-white light, about ten seconds went by.
I rolled away from the third rail as I felt my control giving out. Nothing hit me.
When I could raise myself to one knee, about half a minute later, I saw a pile of what looked like dirt with a glowing shape atop it. I moved closer and saw that a mostly-human head lay there, composed of glowing molten stone where the energy of my cast had struck. The golem (sounded better than 'earthmonster') had collapsed, its animation cast disrupted.
The lights flickered around me and went out, the subway's abused circuit breakers deciding that something Bad had happened in this stretch of tunnel. I was wearily glad; it meant I wouldn't have to deal with clearing the tracks before a train came through. I wasn't done yet, though. Before I could let myself realize how wonderful it was to be leaning against the wall, I levered myself up and dragged my carcass back to the hole in the wall. The room beyond was mostly dark; the magnesium fragments had burnt out and the hole in the air, with its associated light, was gone. I pulled a Mag-lite from my coat and swept it once around the room. The bloody heap of the bartender was there, but the robed figure I'd clocked with my gun was gone.
I swore under my breath, pulled the Desert Eagle out of the pocket of my coat and holstered it properly, and began to stumble down the tunnel towards the nearest station.
<--Younger | The First New York Magician | Older-->