Finale – Now Available!
Doctor Blood… No, that wasn’t quite right anymore. There had been a Doctor Blood at one point, a fact to which documents of various sorts could attest, but the extent to which there was still something that matched this description was debatable. There had been Blood, oh yes, fountains of it, as he had scythed his crimson arc through New Arcadia. But the Doctor (as they say) was not in.
What I am trying to get across is that the entity formerly known as Doctor Blood could smell the last painting, in a literal sense, as he descended the “secret” stair behind the “mysterious” portrait of Elzabet Hark. The other paintings are with him, all awhirl, juggled in their lazy orbit by a mystical exertion so irrelevant to his power that it dozed somewhere beneath his conscious thought. He thought he heard a blast reverberate down below, but it did not occur to him that he should be afraid of it, or of any other earthly phenomenon. He was sheathed by the Book, because it needed him. It had no body of its own, after all.
It was a tremendous inconvenience.
The doors at the base of this stair opened, though he did not touch them; his clever wisps snuck through the cracks in both the physical wood and the seals which girded them. The bar rose from the forks, flew out; it struck two cultists clean off the ground, their blue-black smocks flapping. It was funny - he couldn’t help but laugh. The ways these creatures amuse themselves! It didn’t feel entirely like his own thought, but all the same he couldn’t entirely disagree.
The wisps hiss and snap as a resonant burst of violet slivers washes over him. Good - the Scholar was already here. He’d deal with that in a second. Now, he had to suspend the remaining cultists three feet from the ground by their heads, by that ridiculous mask of theirs, channeling thousands of pounds of force into that stationary point in the form of twelve blows in perhaps the space of four seconds. The bodies fixed to these coordinates flip and fling wildly, like a windsock. They collapse, becoming nonsense shapes on the polished floor.
Blood breathes deep, inhales particles of the last painting hanging in this Cathedral of Man. He wills the sundered portions of the whole to join its brother in the largest portion of the hall. Gabriel is running at him now, grinning inscrutably. He is doing so at a rate beyond the human maximum, and the sailing tranches of the portrait slide laterally to accommodate him.
The Brute does not scare easily, and the idea of being the topmost corpse on a growing pile is no deterrent. Blood likes the challenge, though. Let’s see if this gets him.
Struck as though by a battering ram just beneath the navel, Tycho is hurled a full thirty feet against the wall of the largest chamber, plaster and paint flaking away. He is then spun around in mid-air and slammed into it again, face-first, which he supposes is some kind of courtesy. He is drawn from the wall slowly then, and he is dimly aware that objects are being arrayed behind him. The paintings themselves are shifting, assuming an approximation of their original shape.
Tycho has prepared himself for this moment to the extent he was able to, but there is as ever that fissure between knowledge obtained by rational means and knowledge of an intuitive nature, that is to say, knowledge which is known by the very white of one’s own hidden bones. He smiles at Omnibus, thanks it, sends it home. Its tiny wings flap and it is gone.
He had suspected that being torn apart would be unpleasant. In fact, he was quite sure of it. And he was not wrong.
He was not wrong.
As promised when it all began, the blood of this thrice-damned Brahe goes about its dark work, applied almost brush-like by the ragged hunks which correspond to those in the images. Blood flows in the seam between them, knitting them whole. Yog Modaigh, who is God of Doors, has a moment or two to really appreciate this fact before the surface of the canvas is suffused with that hellbound blood, thinning, seeping, tugged back to a single point which splits like a lip to reveal another place entirely, a hungry place which eats, and eats, and not stop until it has eaten all the world.