Tag Archives: The Dagger of Tiamat

The Dagger of Tiamat, Part Three

I’m too embarrassed to say how long it has been since I posted a new installment of “The Dagger of Tiamat.” But, I managed to post the third part of the story before the end of the year, so I’m calling it a win. Read the first two parts here and here.

The Dagger of Tiamat, Part Three

“Okay, so what is the Dagger of Tiamat?”

     They had traded the dimly-lit pub for Professor Ferguson’s flat, which occupied the top two floors of a Georgian townhouse across from Russell Square. Brendan and Gwen were seated on a sofa in the parlor, a bookcase-lined room that looked out onto the street. Ferguson was sitting in a high-backed leather chair across from them. Judging from the stack of books on the side table, that was probably where the Professor spent most of his free time.

     “Would either of you like something to eat?” Ferguson asked, shrugging out of his tweed jacket. “I’m afraid I don’t entertain much, but I might have a little something in the kitchen.”

     “No thanks, Professor. I’m good,” Brendan said. Was Ferguson stalling or just being very British?

     “I’m fine, Professor,” Gwen said. “I think it’s best that we tell Finn what’s going on.”

     Finally. Brendan leaned back and looked at his old friends.

     “The Earth is a nexus,” Gwen began. “It’s a crossroads, of sorts, where countless different dimensions intersect. And, in certain places, the barriers between Earth and these other dimensions are thin enough to pass through.”

     “O-kay.”

     “Interactions between Earth and these different dimensions account for the myriad of gods and goddesses that have been worshipped by cultures around the world.”

     “Gods are real?”

     “In a sense,” she replied. “Many of these extradimensional beings possess powers and abilities that would have amazed and terrified early humans. The natural reaction would be to worship these beings as gods.”

     Brendan nodded. It had often been theorized that many of the myths and legends from around the world had been inspired by metahuman activity. This was as good an explanation as that.

     “But,” Gwen continued, “where there are gods, there are also demons. The most powerful of these beings are often called Old Ones or Elder Gods. Vile creatures of unimaginable power and unspeakable cruelty.”

     “This is where the Dagger of Tiamat comes in, right?”

     “The Dagger of Tiamat is a relic from a darker time, a time when cults of greedy, black-hearted men and women worshipped these creatures. They performed dark rituals, seeking to curry favor with powerful beings in return for power, wealth, and influence.”

     “Politicians?”

     Gwen scowled. “Finn, this is serious.”

     Brendan raised his hands in surrender. “Sorry,” he said. “So, it’s just a magical item, right? No biggie. We’ve dealt with that kinda thing before, Gwen.”

     The thought of the adventures they shared in the past brought a smile to Gwen’s lips, then it was gone. “This is worse than any of that, Finn. This is bigger than the vampires, the zombies, the evil sorcerers, the cursed keep left signs.”

     “Worse than the transient mystery house disguised as a phone box?”

     “Much.”

     “You see, Brendan,” Ferguson interjected, “the dagger is a conduit of sorts. It’s a way to draw power from one of these Old Ones through a dimensional barrier.”

     “Unfortunately,” Gwen added, “it’s supposed to be used as a part of a ritual involving several people. The Old One’s power is supposed to be dispersed, not channeled into a single individual. Pierson– Malcolm, well he’s basically been mainlining power from the Old Ones for five years.”

     “That sounds bad.”

     Ferguson nodded. “Quite. We fear that Malcolm’s disappearance this close to the solstice–”

     “When many of these dimensional barriers are at their weakest,” Gwen added.

     “–could be an indication that he’s planning something big.”

     “Big? How big?”

     “If he has enough power,” Gwen said, “he could theoretically tear a hole in one of these barriers and allow these Old Ones to invade our dimension.”

     Brendan exhaled. “That’s a big Twinkie.”

     “I need to stop this, Finn.”

     “Wait. What? Why you? I could call in the Cape-and-Cowl Club. They love this kinda stuff.”

     Gwen shook her head. “It has to be me, Finn.”

     “Why?”

     She stood, her sundress, leggings, and boots suddenly replaced by a long shirt of gleaming chainmail, cinched at the waist by a thick leather belt. A dark green cloak, emblazoned with glowing symbols, hung from her shoulders. A gauntleted hand rested on the hilt of the sword that hung at her side. Her skin glowed like the summer sun, making her red hair appear aflame.

     “Why, Finn? Because it’s my destiny.”

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The Dagger of Tiamat, Part Two

Welcome back! I hope you’re all ready for the next installment of “The Dagger of Tiamat.” You can read Part One here. Enjoy!

The Dagger of Tiamat, Part Two

The museum had closed for the day. Other than the skeleton crew of security guards who worked the night shift, only a handful of people from the administration and research departments were still in the building. Brendan and Gwen were alone in one of the offices in the archaeology department.

     “What does this say?” Brendan asked, taking off his glasses and rubbing his eyes. He slid a stack of paper across the desk. “My eyes aren’t working anymore.”

     Gwen glanced at the top page, a hi-res scan of a stone tablet covered in cuneiform. Brendan had circled several of the wedge-shaped impressions, translations scribbled next to them. A single grouping remained untranslated.

     She leaned over the page, brushing unruly red curls out of her face. She squinted and scrunched her nose. It was her thinking face, and it always made Brendan smile.

“Finn, you numpty! It’s barley,” she said, throwing her pen at him. “What’s wrong with you?”

     “We’ve been at this for ten hours,” he said, “I’m tired. We should wrap this up.”

     “Skip the pint?” Gwen asked with a wink.

     Brendan was going to say something clever when the lights went out. The emergency lights came on, casting everything in an eerie yellow light.

     “What the bloody hell?” Gwen got up and moved towards the door to the hallway, stopping when the intercom beeped.

     “Got me,” Brendan said in response to Gwen’s look. He reached for the phone, but punched the speakerphone button instead of lifting the receiver.

     “–Malcolm? I thought you left early. Something about a family emergency.” The voice belonged to Andrew Milton, one of the full-time research assistants. He had been working in one of the labs beneath the museum.

     “Hello, Milton. I’m sorry it had to be you. But I’ve come for my dagger.”

     “The hell?” Brendan recognized the snide, dismissive tone of Malcolm Pierson’s voice. But something sounded off.

     “I don’t know who you’ve called, Milton, but please disconnect that phone.”

     Gwen was at his shoulder. “I don’t like the sound of Malcolm’s voice.”

     “I’ve never liked the sound of his voice,” Brendan mumbled, “but I like it even less now.”

     “I’m going down there.”

     She was out the door and down the hall before Brendan could get out of his chair. “Gwen! Wait!”

     He caught her at the elevator, angrily stabbing the call button with her finger. Her face was bright red, her eyes wide, and her jaw clenched. She was pissed. Full Scottish Mode.

     She spun on him. “Wait for what, Brendan? The security guards? I love those guys, but they’re glorified doormen.”

     The elevator arrived. “They’ll call the cops,” Brendan said as Gwen pulled him into the elevator with her.

     “You heard what I heard, Finn. Whatever is going on down there, Milton is terrified. He called our office for a reason. He knew we were still here.”

     The doors closed and the elevator began to descend.

     “You know something you aren’t telling me.”

     Gwen put her hands on his shoulders and looked him in the eyes. “Brendan Finn,” she sighed. “I know a lot of things I’m not telling you.” She put her hand over his heart, adding: “Including what you have inside of you.”

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“We didn’t stop him he last time, Finn. We have a second chance.”

     “And we are?”

     Gwen leaned forward, resting her arms on the table. “You and me, Finn. Like it was back then.”

     Brendan glanced over at Ferguson, who had returned to his book. “And what about you, Professor?”

     “What?” Ferguson looked up, startled. “Oh. Yes. Me. I’m on research, lad.” He tapped the page he had been reading. “Research.”

     “Research?”

     “Yes, yes.” He closed the book and slid it aside. “The dagger, my boy. The dagger is key.”

     “The Dagger of Tiamat.”

     “I’m sorry, Gwen, but I left my twenty-sided dice at home.”

     “My ties to the Otherworld are strong, stronger than most mortals,” Gwen said. “But if Pierson has the Dagger of Tiamat, he may be more than I can handle.”

     She took Brendan’s hands in hers and looked him in the eyes. Like she did back then. “I can’t stop him without you, Finn. I need my Wulver.”

     Brendan sighed, shaking his head. “I’m not gonna say no,” he said. “You know I’d never say no. Not to you.”

     Gwen smiled weakly.

     “But knock off that Wulver stuff.” His blue eyes turned yellow for a heartbeat before returning to their normal color. “The name’s Wolfen.”

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The Dagger of Tiamat, Part One

It’s been a while, but I’m back! Here’s part one of the first official story set in my superhero universe.

The Dagger of Tiamat, Part One

It had been several years since Brendan Finn had been in London. He had studied abroad at Oxford during his junior year, thanks to New York University’s prestigious Bankoff Grant, and impressed his professors so much that he was given one of the three summer internships at the British Museum. One of the two remaining slots had gone to Guinevere Sinclair–Gwen–but that was another story.

He had asked the driver to let him off on Great Russell Street,in front of the classical facade of the British Museum. After paying the driver, Brendan turned his attention to the corner pub directly across the street. The Museum Tavern hadn’t changed much in the last five years. He and Gwen had spent many long nights at the Museum Tavern, talking and laughing over too many pints to ever count. He smiled, thinking about the night Gwen had leaned over and whispered in his ear that her flat was in walking distance.

    “Keep it together, sport,” Brendan muttered to himself. Today’s reunion was different, but no less welcome.

    Despite the mid-summer sun outside, the interior of the pub was dark and cool. Brendan paused just inside the door to wipe away the fog that appeared on his glasses. The lunch crowd was thinning out and it was still several hours before the after-work drinkers appeared. A few locals sat at the bar, keeping the barman, a thick-set fellow with thinning red hair and a full beard, company. Brendan scanned the room, finding who he was looking for at a table in dark corner.

    James Ferguson sat alone, his tall frame hunched over an old, leather-bound book. A long finger traced the words as he read by the light of the table’s single, small candle. Brendan was amazed to see his old professor dressed in a three-piece tweed suit, despite the summer heat. His hair, which had once been a thick, salt-and-pepper mane, was now a wreath of white encircling his bald head. He looked up as Brendan approached and, even though time had left its mark on the man, his grin was still mischievous and his blue eyes still twinkled with childlike glee.

    “Brendan, my boy!” the old man bellowed. He marked his place with a scrap of paper before closing the book with a thump. He stood and wrapped the younger man in an embrace that belied his age.

    “Good to see you, Professor.”

    “Please, Brendan, call me James.”

    “I don’t think I can do that.”

    Ferguson sat down and motioned to the barman. Brendan joined him, noticing the empty glass on the table. “Been here long?”

    “Just a few minutes, lad.” He followed Brendan’s eyes and smiled. “It’s hot out. A man must keep himself hydrated.”

    The barman appeared with a pint of lager for the professor and a pint of porter for Brendan. Brendan studied the glass of dark beer. “How did you know, Professor?”

    Ferguson tapped his temple. “I may be retired, lad, but I still have all of my faculties.”

    They drank in silence for a few minutes, Ferguson finally saying: “You were a good student, Brendan. One of my best. That was a good crop, all around. You and Ms. Sinclair, Mr. Patel. Even–”

    “Even Pierson?”

    Ferguson sighed. “Poor Malcolm.” He saw the look on Brendan’s face. “I know, I know. You two never really got on, and I’m not excusing what he did. But he was a brilliant young man, which, sadly, often goes hand-in-hand with madness.”

    For every fond memory that Brendan had of Gwen or Professor Ferguson, there was an equal and opposite one of Malcolm Pierson. Pierson was smug, arrogant, and vain. He believed his good looks, money, and intelligence entitled him to get whatever he wanted. He could never figure out how a Scottish girl and an American with an Irish name were consistently his academic betters. Pierson barely tolerated Ravi Patel, but only because the shy, overweight son of Indian immigrants didn’t pose a direct threat to Pierson’s academic success. Brendan was always working to keep his temper in check, but there were numerous occasions where he found himself close to beating Pierson to a bloody pulp.

    Brendan looked down at his hands, not even realizing that he had clenched them into white-knuckled fists. He took a deep breath and relaxed. “Is he still–”

    “In hospital? No. He checked himself out two or three years ago. He claimed that the therapy had helped and he no longer heard the voices that had told him to kill himself with that Assyrian dagger.”

    Brendan still had dreams about that night. He never called them nightmares, because he felt that gave them too much power. They were more like recollections: Pierson locking himself in one of the museum’s labs, the bronze blade of the dagger held to the throat of one of the lab assistants. What was his name? Stilton? Whilton? Milton. No one knows what made Pierson release his hostage and turn the blade on himself.

    Ferguson finished his pint. Bringing up the past seemed to have drained some of the youth from his face. He looked every day of his seventy-six years when he said, “But that was before Hertfordshire.” When Brendan didn’t say anything, he continued: “Pierson had gone to live with his parents after leaving the hospital. There was some kind of accident two weeks ago. The house, and everyone in it, was consumed by fire.”

    “That’s terrible,” Brendan said. He meant it, too. Sure, he still hated Pierson, but he never really wanted the guy to die. He certainly had no ill will towards Pierson’s family. “Wait. Why did you call me, Professor? Why am I here?”

    “You’re here because I don’t think it was an accident,” Ferguson said. “You’re here because you were there that night. You’re here because the accident happened on the summer solstice and Pierson had always been obsessed with pagan religions. You’re here because I don’t think Malcolm Pierson died in the fire. But, most of all, you’re here because–”

    “Because I need you.”

    The woman had seemingly appeared from out of nowhere. Her mass of auburn curls was tied back, with only a few wayward strands free to frame her face. The sun had brought out a scattering of freckles under her brown eyes and across the bridge of her nose. She hadn’t changed a bit in five years.

    “Gwen?”

    “Hiya, Finn.”

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