Moon had never thought that there was a risk the mariners could be possessed by dark energy and quickly regretted his incompetence. He was smart enough at least to use the captain but it had come at a cost. During that time the evil spirit had taken over the young mariner’s mind and grabbed the pistol from the boat. Moon had never thought to throw it into the sea afterwards.
The captain had managed to shake him back to his senses and Moon manifested enough psychic energy to disarm the boy. He watched as the gun spilled out of his hand and fell onto the ground. The next moment he was running at Moon with such venom in his eyes that he felt the energy rush into his own field and throw him off guard. Moon swerved out the way just in time and punched the young mariner in the nose. He fell back but recovered without showing any sign of being hurt by the attack. It was just as Moon had feared. The spirit was more than willing to use its vessel to the very last inch of its life before it would ever give up its hunt.
Moon was left with little choice but to deal the final blow and add another death onto his conscience. Since entering the lower realm he’d already used up most of his reserves and already wanted it all to end. He briefly caught sight of the captain and saw that he was on his last legs. Moments later their attacker sprung up on him and threw him onto the ground with unimaginable force. Moon screamed in agony and could feel his consciousness being squeezed by a horrible entity. He was no longer a physical being but the pain he felt was worse than anything he had ever experienced. The evil spirit had every intention of ripping his very being into pieces.
Most of his powers were no use in this realm and Moon knew that it wasn’t possible to summon the Light to help absorb his enemy. There were few places where darkness could completely rule over the Light but this was a realm where all the Evil had been locked away for a reason. Moon had a few psychic powers and was able to push the spirit back with all his strength which brought him some time. He was still feeling concussed by the last attack and took some time to get back on his feet. The young mariner was already gaining on him again and was reaching for the gun on the ground when suddenly a bullet flew through the air – connecting with the man’s head and throwing him to the ground. Moon turned around with the adrenaline still flowing through him and saw the captain standing there with a gun in both of his hands.
“You are full of surprises,” Moon said, breathing heavily. He moved towards the young mariner to make sure he was dead. There was a large gunshot wound above his right eye which implied heavily that he wasn’t coming back. It would be impossible for the spirit to possess either of them in their alert state which meant that it had already disappeared back into the ether. For how long was another story. “Why didn’t you shoot me on the boat if you had a weapon?”
“I have served you and the others for as long as I can remember,” the captain said, holding his chest tightly. He was wheezing now and his hair had turned into a light grey. Moon suspected that he didn’t have much life left. “You are my faith, my friend. I didn’t have the right to shoot you and would’ve killed myself before it ever got to that point. I am forever in your service. Only…I don’t think that I’ve got long left.”
“Thanks to you we’ve been given a little more time. I was definitely fighting a losing battle with that spirit. Your friend was too weak to resist the temptation. We’ve only managed to scare it off for the time being. It will surely come back when we are nearing the end.”
“I thought as much,” the captain sighed. He was kneeling now and Moon was worried about his health. It was more than possible to die of exhaustion in this realm. That gun had not been made by human hands and was capable of killing another spirit. There were still many flaws in the lower realm and there was always a chance of dying by the same tools which were in the material world. Some lessons, Moon reflected, were able to occur again and again until they were finally understood.
“I need to go back one more time and then I can say my work here is done.” Moon said. He walked over to the captain and helped him onto his feet. He dusted him down affectionately and patted him softly on the shoulder. “Will you help me one last time?”
“That’s not possible,” the captain said. Moon’s eyes widened with surprise until he realised what the captain was going to do next. He looked at the gun in his hands and shook his head in protest. The captain interrupted him and said: “You know I haven’t got a choice. I may have a stronger mind than the others but I’m cut from the same cloth in the end. I would rather die by my own hand than be possessed by that son of a bitch. Trust me, you are better off taking your own chances.”
“You have already saved my life. Give me some time and I might be able to think of a plan.”
“You’re not used to this, are you?” the captain said softly. He was looking at Moon earnestly. “You’ve never had someone die on your watch before. A typical hero who thinks he can save everyone. This isn’t your fault, Moon. I have a feeling this was going to happen no matter what. There is something that this hell can never take from me – my faith. I believe there are more worlds than these. Go, Moon! You still have to play God for a little longer. I’m choosing to go out early while I’m ahead.”
Moon could say no more and watched helplessly as the captain raised the gun to his head.
“I will never forget the bravery you’ve shown, captain,” Moon said respectfully. He grabbed the man’s other hand and squeezed tightly. “You are an example to this place that there is still some light in all corners of the universe. March on, my good spirit!”
“We’ll meet again in this world or the next. It has been an honour serving you!” the captain said. He pulled the trigger and moments later his body fell limply onto Moon. All of his companions were now dead.
Moon had never felt so alone even after the many years of solitude in his lighthouse. There had always been someone out there close at hand. He was now facing the reality that this would be his last mission.
He laid the captain to rest and promised that he would give the man a proper burial if he had time to come back. This was an empty promise as he doubted very much that such an opportunity would come about. He moved away from the bodies and stepped back into his trance. This time around there would be no warning and he couldn’t risk another spirit coming back to possess the last remnants of his soul. He would have to finish himself off when the time came.
Stepping back into the vortex of his mind Moon could feel himself being pulled into a place in his psyche he’d been avoiding for a long time. There was such a powerful force shepherding him forwards that he had no choice but to follow and allow his awareness to be swept into the air. Even in his dream state he was still moving as if he was normal and walked around a dimly-lit labyrinth.
There was one place that he would not go and now he was being forced to go in the name of Pisces. It was cruel irony and Moon had felt sure that he would never have to face his past ever again. Somewhere in the back of his mind he had always known that one day he would have no choice. Fate has a way of making its subjects come to terms with their greatest regrets.
He was moving at speed as if trapped in the middle of a current which ebbed along the maze. He allowed himself to be led without challenging the unseen power but was determined to finish what he had set out to do. There was one last person he needed to pay a visit. Moon gave as much of his attention as he could into his subconscious and instructed it to find the Sorcerer who he had seen in his dreams.
It was someone he had always blocked off in his mind and was associated with the part of his memory that he was being forced to remember. This time around it was very simple to summon up the image of the man and with a sudden movement Moon felt himself being blown into the air.
He spiralled downwards and travelled at an alarmingly quick pace which would’ve been enough to throw him back into consciousness in normal circumstances. His mind remained resilient and didn’t give in to the tidal wave of mental energy which was forcing him into his final memory. Moments later Moon landed onto the ground and realised that he was in the mid-section of the labyrinth. There was a long pathway and beyond that was a door that led to the section of his mind that he wanted more than anything to run away from. The sorcerer was standing in front of him and blocked his exit to the door.
Moon suspected that there was some confusion with the environment and that the maze he could see was not visible to the Sorcerer. He had a feeling that the man was in another place altogether but there was a possibility that the Sorcerer himself was behind the powerful force that had swept him into this moment. Their eyes met and the man’s lips curled into a wide smirk.
“It’s not every day that I have you appear on my doorstep, Moon. What do you want?” the Sorcerer asked. He had aged considerably since Moon had last seen him in person. His hair had greyed and his face was redder than before. The man also carried a pot belly which he suspected was from drinking too much. In that sense they both had something in common.
“This isn’t a social visit I assure you,” Moon said. He eyed the Sorcerer with suspicion. “I’ve come here because I’ve been left with very little choice. There is something I need you to do for the sake of the two realms.”
“Humph. You have some cheek coming to ask me for help after our last conversation. I don’t believe I owe you anything.”
“All this time and you still haven’t let go of the past,” Moon said, sighing. He could feel his energy depleting with every word and could tell the Sorcerer knew he was dying. He looked into the man’s magnetic eyes and wondered what was going on his mind. “This isn’t about me, Scorpio. I am already dead. You can see that.”
“This must have really ruffled your feathers to come out and see me in your last moments,” Scorpio said. He looked deeply into Moon’s eyes and felt strangely troubled by the dying embers in his energy field. It was as if he was looking mortality in the eye. “What do you want from me?”
“You might not like the comparison but you and I have more in common than you think. You have unfinished business before you pass onto my world. You know about what I’m talking about don’t you?”
“I cut those ties long ago. You can’t make me go back.” Scorpio said.
“There is no way of cutting karmic ties, Scorpio. You might think you’re different to the others but you are part of the Zodiac nonetheless. You knew this day was coming.”
“Whatever power you might’ve possessed has left you now. You have nothing to threaten me with. Why should I do what you want?”
“Simple,” Moon said, his mouth changing into a wide grin. Scorpio looked at him curiously. “I don’t need to make you interfere. You will do it of your own accord. You are many things but you aren’t a coward. When the time comes you will have two choices and I know which one you will pick.”
“What makes you so sure?” Scorpio said, eyeing the deity with a sharp look. He was trying to hypnotise him but his efforts were useless against Moon.
“Evolution. You know the legend as well as I. The scorpion must turn into a lizard and finally a phoenix. You’re only half-way through the cycle yourself. Until you can let go of your darker side you can never fully achieve your wings. And besides, you won’t be able to go against your instincts. You may dabble with black magic, Scorpio, but you are made from the same stuff as I am. You seek the light.”
Scorpio turned away from him and said nothing for a long time. He was acutely aware that Moon was talking to him from a different portal. Finally he said: “You are acting out of character coming to me in this form. What have you done?”
“I haven’t done anything. I was caught in the cross-fire. As it happens I’m only a small piece in a much bigger game. There is a lot happening in the astral realm which is another reason why it’s so important you make the right decision. Forget about your quibble with me. This is of far greater importance.”
“Not to me,” Scorpio growled. The man might be dying but that didn’t mean he needed to forgive him. He saw desperation in Moon’s eyes and felt oddly empty. In the past it may have made him happy but over the years he’d softened. Now he was just an old man who would be passing the same way as Moon sooner or later.
“Tell me I have your word, Scorpio.” Moon said.
“You are being called away,” Scorpio said. He met the man’s eyes but his expression was neutral. “Your time has come. Leave me in peace.”
“I need to hear it from your own mouth, Scorpio!” Moon pleaded. He could feel his energy being led again towards the door. He was being forced to the final moment.
“I will not promise you anything,” Scorpio said harshly. He looked at Moon with unmoving intensity but inside he was changed by the encounter. He would not sleep soundly in his bed again.
Moon was about to say something else but Scorpio had already disappeared from sight. He was once again being ushered towards the door and forced to take the final step. He could only hope that he was not being attacked in the lower realm.
Even hidden away in his memories he could sense that his energy was quickly depleting and weaving its way back into the ether. This was it. There wasn’t any more time to meet with any of the others. Moon had to hope that he’d changed the odds enough for Pisces to take the initiative.
There were so many sensations pouring into his consciousness that he didn’t know what to think or feel, though he was reminded strongly of the first time that he had passed into spirit. Moon knew there were other realms beyond the astral, but he feared that he wouldn’t get the chance to see them after being caught in the lower world. He wanted more than anything to see it all through to the end. Getting what you wanted was simply not the way of the world.
It was a surprise when the memories flooded back and his awareness never dropped – and he clung onto his identity with such stubbornness that stunned even himself. It was only as he passed through the gateway and into the next place that he realised he wasn’t alone and was being guided into this section of his mind through an outside energy. Moon smiled wryly in spite of everything.
There was such sweetness in moving on that all of his other fears simply peeled away. For once he didn’t even feel like he needed a whisky.
“There are more worlds than these,” Moon said, feeling more warmth than he had in centuries.