CHAPTER 29 - Finale

Cyrus greedily looked upon the stunned faces of his doomed captives the way a child would over a new toy. The house began to shift as before and all access to the rest of the house was closed off. He let a maniacal laugh escape his lips, as the stunned group looked this way and that for the nearest exit. They found only steel and glass. They were all trapped.

The monster that had once been Cyrus snapped the chains at the group sending them sprawling to the ground in all different directions, effectively breaking them down into smaller groups and making it easier to pick them off one by one. The house shifted and groaned once more making smaller sections. Arthur dropped the torch will a dull thud and rolled out of the way as a section of the second floor came crashing down where he had been standing. He was trapped in a small section of the house, no bigger than a phone booth, helpless and forced to do nothing but watch. Luke, Susana and Bianca were trapped in another section, as was Dana, Jean, Mallory and Seth. Faster and fasted the house crashed down upon them, trapping them like animals. Zeke pushed Dahlia out of the way before a section almost cut her in half, sectioning her, Dennis and himself in the final corner.

Cyrus turned his attention to the final two in the main section, dodging the falling walls and glass. The two most agile of the group - Broadway and Royce. The demented spirit snarled and let out an almost feral scream.

"Can't you two just DIE"! Bringing back his arm, making the chains like taught spears and sent them hurdling at Royce. The ghost sucked in a dead breath and waited. Something warm and heavy smashed into him and then there was a brief scream. The rest happened in slow motion.

~*~

Royce faintly felt the stab of metal through his body and he watched the barbed chains pierce Broadway's torso. He felt the warmth of blood on his lips as the crimson liquid fell from her mouth. He felt himself scream her name before the words left his mouth. He phased to her and caught her limp body in his arms as she fell as silent as a snowflake, the chains slipping from her body by the force. The house transformed once more and the walls closed around them.

"Broadway! Come on Dolly, don't you close your eyes now!" He cradled her gently and close to his body. She felt cold, and he could almost see the life force draining from her eyes.

"Royce..I'm sorry..for this." She reached up and touched the scars on his face lovingly. "I'm so cold."

Royce shrugged his jacket off his shoulders and wrapped it around her body in an attempt to stop the bleeding. He forced back the tears that stung his eyes; Broadway needed him to be strong now.

"It..hurts..so much.." Her voice was choked and watery as her blood filled her lungs and it trickled out between her lips. She became vaguely aware of people screaming for her and tried to look at her family. She wanted to see them one last time, but everything was so dark and she was so very sleepy.

"I know it hurts Doll, but you have to hold on. For me, for your family! You can't let him win!!"

Her eyes slipped closed and Royce shook her again.

"Don't leave me! Please, Broadway don't leave me!!"

Her eyes flickered open, and all life seemed to be gone save for one final sparkle. "I'm so glad..I met you Royce.you were always my Prince." She sucked in another harsh breath. "You're a part of me..and although I ..tried..I fell in love...with you.."

"STAY AWAKE!"

"I..love you..Royce."Broadway's hand slipped from his face and her chest didn't rise again. Something sparkled on Royce's eyes and it took him a moment to realize that they were tears. He looked at the girl in his arms, his one true love, through blurry vision and realized that she was gone. Hot sticky blood soaked through his shirt and stung his flesh underneath. He felt his skin singe and burn. Blood, his blood, flowed freely from his scars and he bent to kiss Broadway tenderly. The last time he would ever feel her lips, the last embrace.

Crimson liquid filled his eyes and mouth and he lay her body gingerly on the ground. Royce's body shook violently as he was wracked with sobs and his body tore open in one swift motion. He screamed and pointed at Cyrus. The house shifted once more as everyone was released from his or her cells. Her family ran to Broadway's side and cradled her adoringly and Royce bent to retrieve the makeshift torch. The light had gone out and he tore the fabric from the weapon.

"Why..? Why do you have to take everything away?!" He yelled at Cyrus.

A sickening smile crept onto the demons lips. "Greatness requires sacrifice."

Royce's eyes narrowed into slits and he clutched the handle of his bat with white knuckles. "Sacrifice this!"

He was naturally agile and managed to phase in and out of view, connection with Cyrus and delivering several brutal blows to the demon before Cyrus regained his composure and connected with Royce's solar plexus. His other hand clutched Royce by the shoulder, digging his talons into the raw and exposed flesh mercilessly. He drew back and flung Royce into the side of the glass with enough force to crack it. The ghosts uttered a single cry before falling silent, his blood pooling about his body. Cyrus brought his claws back and pointed the razor sharp talons at his chest and face.

"You are MINE Torn Prince. I'll see you in Hell." Royce closed his eyes, too weak to fight back anymore. He ignored the other's screams of protest and though only about his lost love.

There was the sound of metal on metal and he was jarred out of his lament. Something glinted in the fading light, but he could make out a silhouette. Something was wrapped around Cyrus' arm and claw and it took everyone a moment to realize that it was a chain. Cyrus screamed in disbelief and tried to wrench his arm away from the hold.

"How could this be?" He yelled. "I just KILLED you!"

Royce's eyes flew open and he struggled to his feet. "It couldn't be.."

The silhouette turned slowly and faced the group whilst keeping a firm hold on Cyrus. A trickle of blood ran from her lips and her shirt was soaked with blood. The chains snaked their way around her body and around Cyrus' arm. "I am the Sacrifice of the Broken Heart; the Thirteenth and final ghost of the Black Zodiac." She turned back to face Cyrus and tightened the chain around his arm. "You Cyrus, no longer do you have the aid of your Spellstress, nor do you have the power you claim to have. You are powerless against me. You are powerless against your Thirteen Ghosts!" She pulled on the chain until his arm tore clean away from his body. Cyrus screamed in agony, a feral and animalistic noise that caused the mortals to cover their ears. The Thirteenth Ghost wrapped her chains about his body once more and reduced him to a cowering and almost pitiful being.

Mallory clutched the Arcanum and looked pleadingly at Dennis. "What do I do?"

Jean transformed into the Withered Lover and looked at her. "You must call for the others. Just read what's written and the rest will happen naturally." She joined Royce and Broadway in the main chamber. Dana and Susan nodded at each other and joined her. Mallory began to chant the incantations as best she could while the present ghosts placed their seals on Cyrus. One by one the eight other spirits appeared and understood, mutely joining the group that had gathered in the Black Zodiac Chamber and placing their seals upon the demon.

When the twelve ghosts were finished with the crippled spirit, Broadway released her hold and Cyrus fell to the ground heavily. He looked up at her pleadingly and she might have felt pity for him if they were under different circumstances.

"This is the end, Cyrus Kriticose. Give my regards to your master." Broadway drove the sigma of the Thirteenth Ghost into his flesh and with a flash, the gates of hell opened. A swirling black plague arose from it's depths and consumed the tortured Demon. Mallory took a deep breath and hurled the Arcanum into the pit after him. There was a bright red and gold flash followed by the sound of steel and glass breaking.

"We have to get out of here! The house is collapsing!" Seth shouted.

"But what about them?!" Mallory replied terrified.

"We have to get out NOW!" Seth grabbed his sister and slipped through the sliding walls and collapsing passageways. They made it outside just as the house finally buckled into nothing and was consumed by nothingness. There was a bright flash and a shockwave, and then everything went black.

~*~

When they finally came to, the house was gone, but everything as bathed in an eerie yellow light. Bianca shielded her eyes against the glow and squinted at a familiar figure. "Broadway?!" She stumbled to her feet and ran to her sister who embraced her tightly. Bianca felt the warmth of her sisters' blood on her body and cried bitter tears. Broadway embraced each member of her family and tried to ease their pain as best she could.

"Destiny works in funny ways." She said softly. "I was destined to be the Protector, and I protected the only way I ever knew how."

Seth bit back tears and cupped her face. "Does it hurt. Are you in pain..?"

"No..not anymore. Everything will fade soon. Even us." She tossed a look behind her to where the twelve other ghosts were waiting.

"But why??" Mallory choked out. "I don't want you to leave!"

"Mallory, do you remember when we were younger, and we thought it would be terribly cleaver to go down the Cranberry street hill in that wagon?"

Mallory nodded and brushed a strand of hair out of her sisters eyes. "Yes, we were going so fast and it flipped over. You put yourself under me so that.." She trailed off. Broadway nodded.

"Like I said - destiny. When I was on the streets I did a lot of dumb things that by all laws should have killed me about twelve times by now, but it never happened."

Luke bit his lip. "So you're going? This is it?"

"I don't know. I'm still getting used to the whole dead thing."

"DON'T JOKE!" Zeke scolded angrily.

"I'm perfectly serious. I don't know what happens from here on in. And I'm scared - I'm absolutely terrified." Broadway replied. "But I know that I have to go now. Know that I love you all more than anything, and tell Matron that I love her so much and there isn't anything I wouldn't give to make her happy."

"What will we tell her??" Luke demanded.

"Tell her that she'll see me again, but I had to go." Broadway flickered briefly. "Whoa..it IS like being underwater.." She embraced her family tightly once more before turning slowly. She took Royce's hand gently and smiled. "I wish we could have been together forever under different circumstances..." She lowered her eyes. Royce nodded and brushed her cheek with his thumb.

"Me too Dolly..but sometime life will toss you a curve ball and you have to work with it. We have to go now."

"I know.." Broadway reached up to touch her neck and undid the clasp of her necklace. She took Dahlia's hand and pushed the charm into her palm. "This always brought me good luck..hopefully it'll do the same for you."

"Thank you Broadway. For everything."

The Erikson family looked upon their sister one last time before she flickered and disappeared. But there was a quiet feeling of hope and serenity among the group and as the sky darkened to deep purple, there was almost a feeling of pride. Seth sighed heavily and looked towards the horizon.

"It's over..come on, let's get the fuck away from here."

"What are we going to do..?" Bianca whispered.

"Save tonight." Seth replied. He took one last look at the spot where the house stood before slowly making his way down the driveway.

~FIN~