Episode Twenty-Five

The Hourglass

Now is the time for the Maximals to take on the final obstacle: Dim-Duhl, as he rests in his temple. Before leaving on their final quest, they visit some of the places they have already been, to tell about what they have done and what they will now finally do. While in Carriton City, Shadowraith meets up with Fiora, and has to tell her the story of Rift's demise. The young mage is saddened, but offers to help out Shadowraith. Shadowraith is temporarily tutored by the same mage as the young apprentice, long enough to learn a bit about magic for his personal files.

The Maximals enter their ship, and head south, flying low and slowly over the desert sands. At last they reach a place where the sands seem as if churning, moving, then, finally, cascading, into a pit. The sinking temple sits on the edge of this fall of sand, still days from tipping completely into the pit.

Assessing the situation, the Maximals scan the temple and realize that, not only is it larger than it seems, it is actually a pyramid. The bottom of the temple is mired in the sand, but, at the angle at which it is falling, the upside-down temple will be upright when Judgment Day occurs. At the point of the pyramid, there is the only entrance to the temple, but it is deep beneath the churning sands.

The Maximals decide on another tactic. They shoot their ship's weapons at the top of the temple, destroying their obstacle to the inner hallways. Shadowraith, Snowshriek, Paladyne and Victoria carefully lower themselves inside onto the unsteady floors. The sloping hallways lead to an antechamber, where a stone sarcophagus is built into the floor that will some day be the ceiling. The room is lit by a globe of continual light set into an ancient painting on the wall. However, the picture seems to be everchanging: depicting, to the moment, the status of the outside of the desert temple. The shifting sands the Maximals viewed outside are sitting in the top half of the mural, and, in the bottom half, they are revealed to be sifting into the bottom of an hourglass. And time is running out.

Murals on the other walls of the room are equally revealing. One of them shows the falling of the White Star, though it is not specific enough to suppose that the falling star is actually a spaceship. The other mural shows a robed figure, presumably Dim-Duhl himself, lording over the souls of the dead under a black sun.

Paladyne finds a secret door in this room, and Victoria crawls into the small tunnel beyond. Inside the hidden room is a wealth of magical spells and writings inscribed on stone tablets. There are also some jars, though the contents have rotted.

Scanning the room, Snowshriek spots something interesting: the black sun on the wall mural is a stone set into the wall, and can be removed. He slips the stone off and takes it into his hand. Shadowraith notes its energon radiation is particularly strong. He recalls back to the notes that Scythe stole from Moryth, on one of the most powerful undead creatures in the world: a lich. A lich has to keep its soul inside its own container, and when that container is destroyed, the lich can die as well.

Paladyne reaches his arm back into the hole, and discovers a scorpion huddling within. He pulls it out and squashes it, then, looks up. The lid on the coffin is beginning to move. Snowshriek decides to crush the black stone, but finds that it does not break in his hand. He asks Victoria to hand him the Sun Blade...

And, just then, Dim-Duhl awakens. He looks to Snowshriek with a skeletal face, and in a voice still creaking slightly from his rest, he warns him not to destroy the stone, but, it is too late. The holy blade is brought down resoundingly onto the black sun, and it shatters. The lich/avatar is now angry, and attacks Snowshriek directly, pointing a finger at him and ordering him to die. Snowshriek's spark manages to weather the magical attack, and he cuts into the lich with the sword. The other Maximals rise to the fight, using their magical weapons, or, in Paladyne's case, his spark force, to damage the lich. Dim-Duhl uses a disintegration spell on Snowshriek that ruins his armor, making him too weak to continue to fight. He passes the sword to Victoria, who cracks it into the lich's unholy staff while Paladyne's spark delivers the killing blow.

The temple begins to shake, and the Maximals retreat as the sand from the bottom of the cosmic hourglass soars, on a column of light, back into the desert. They reach the ship just in time for the fountain of sand to explode, burying the ancient temple and parting the thick black clouds.

The planet saved, the Maximals know their work is finally done. Their last visit is to the temple at Eaglehome, where the Eagle Knights congratulate them on all of their heroism and inscribe their stories in their tomes. As a final request, they ask that the Sun Blade, as well as Shadowraith's magic sword which cut into the avatar of Dim-Duhl, be kept in their temple as artifacts. Paladyne also offers his right hand, through which he channeled the spark energy that dealt the last blow.

The Maximals depart, on to Cybertron... where perhaps new, and different adventures, still await.



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