On the other side of the room, Dave stood up and dropped the cut ropes from his arms and legs. He produced a pocket knife and started to saw through Brimstone's ropes as well.
"Dave," Dragon choked out, "Put the fire out."
Dave grabbed a handful of sand from the floor and threw it on the fire. He did so again, and then twice more before realizing that it wasn't going out.
"No good," Brimstone coughed. "It's magic. Ironic, isn't it? I grow up surrounded by fire and brimstone, and I'm going to die from smoke inhalation."
Dave produced something from his jacket and said, "One to beam up."
He turned into energy and disappeared. Seconds later, an object materialized next to Dragon. He smiled. It was a Wildside communicator.
Dragon pinned it on. "Hang in there, Brimstone. I'll send this right back."
Dragon beamed into the Vagabond and sent the pin back to Brimstone. Soon, he was aboard as well, coughing and wheezing.
Dave reached up into the overhead compartment of the plane and pulled out another .45 pistol.
"Spook stole my gun," he muttered, putting the pistol into his shoulder holster. "Good thing they didn't recognize the comm for anything more than a piece of fancy jewelry."
"Totengeist didn't totally neutralize your luck," Brimstone said. "That's the only explanation."
"We've got to get back to the town," Dragon said. "He said he was going to punish them."
"We'll never beat them back without horses," Brimstone said.
"I can't believe we're sitting on the fastest transportation available in this time or even in our time and we can't beat horses to a small town within a day's ride!"
"The energy coils are damaged, Dragon," Dave said. "I need time to repair them."
"Get on it, Dave. Brimstone, come with me."
Dragon stepped out into the night air. "Do you really think Totengeist couldn't take Dave's luck?"
Brimstone looked nervously at Dragon. "Why, what do you think?"
"I think we're being used. And I think he gave Dave just enough luck to get us out of there. Just like I think he's going to give us just enough of my flight to get off this rock and catch up to those dark men."
Dragon put his arm out to Brimstone. Brimstone reluctantly took it and held on to Dragon's body.
As they began running toward the edge of the butte, Brimstone said, "You know, if this doesn't work, I'm going to be pretty upset with you."
Dragon smiled and leaped off the edge, diving out into the open air. He felt a surge of panic as they began to drop toward the canyon floor. He watched the sides of the butte coming up fast and hoped he hadn't made a mistake.
Seconds before they impacted on the side, they stopped and began gliding forward. Dragon let out a whoop of joy and flew them, doing a barrel roll until Brimstone smacked him and told him to knock it off.
The two of them flew along the trail they had taken by stagecoach. Within ten minutes, they saw a cloud of dust. Inside the cloud were ten horses, each one black and carrying a dark rider.
"You know what just occurred to me?" Dragon said. "They took our guns. We're unarmed."
"Guess again," Brimstone said, producing his magical shotgun from inside his vest. "Apparently, Totengeist has a time limit."
Dragon smiled and dove towards the cloud of dust.
They got close enough to make out shapes, and Dragon saw that the leader wasn't with them. He didn't have time to tell Brimstone, however, since the riders at the rear turned around and aimed up at them.
Brimstone took aim and fired, blasting one of the men with a burst of flame. He screamed and fell off the horse, then was dragged along with his feet in the reins. Dragon pulled his revolver out with his free hand and started shooting, but his shots went wide because of the range they were at.
Dragon lifted up and flew out of sight. Brimstone yelled at him, but Dragon yelled back, "The Dark Man isn't with them. He must have gone on ahead. He's the one we have to stop."
Brimstone nodded. His face was starting to take on even more of a reddish color, and Dragon saw black horns starting to form on his forehead. Dragon was starting to feel a little stronger and faster.
"Let me off, here, Dragon. I'll slow down the reinforcements, you deal with the Dark Man."
Dragon reluctantly let Brimstone off in a clump of trees. He flew off, glancing back to see Brimstone taking aim at the approaching cloud of dust.
Dragon stepped up the speed and flew to the town. When he got there, he realized it was too late. Harlan's blacksmith shop was on fire, and he was hanged outside on a post. The Dark Man was standing in the center of town, screaming.
"This man disobeyed the law! He has paid the price, and now five others will pay the price! Five have ten seconds to volunteer, and then...I will choose."
Dragon set down on the opposite side of the street. "No...That's not going to happen."
The Dark Man turned, his eyes blazing. "You! Must I kill you myself?"
"It looks that way," Dragon said. He placed his hands at either side and assumed a gunfighter stance.
The Dark Man laughed in great bellows. Then he matched Dragon's stance and put his hands to his sides, just above his revolvers.
Window shutters opened, and people started to wander into the street, looking dazed and confused. The Dark Man's eyes were blazing red.
"Let them come," he said. "They will witness the end of the final failed protector. And then, they will all die."
"No! They haven't done anything!"
"They have dared to hope."
The Dark Man glanced to his right and an elderly man burst into flames, crying out as he fell to the ground and continued burning. Dragon pulled his revolvers and fired repeatedly at the Dark Man. The Dark Man just laughed as the bullets blew through his chest, head, and arms. He raised his arms and waved Dragon on. Dragon fired six shots from each gun and then set them back into their holsters.
The Dark Man lowered his arms, slowly. "My turn," he said.
Faster than Dragon could see, the guns entered his hands. He saw two puffs of smoke from the guns and heard the crack as the bullets broke the sound barrier. He also heard the sound of two bullets striking something metal. He watched as the air in front of him shimmered and started to take on form.
Suddenly, Dragon was staring not at the Dark Man, but at the rear of the Vagabond. It was parked in the middle of street, pointed directly at the Dark Man. The people ran, screaming, from the town. Dragon heard Dave's voice over the intercom.
"I got the plane working, Dragon."
The Dark Man yelled with fury and fired repeatedly, his bullets striking the Vagabond's shields and bouncing off. The town was clear of people now, only the Dark Man remained on that side. The few people who were still there were clustered around Dragon, watching the Dark Man seethe with fury.
Dave thumbed the trigger to the meson cannon. The cannon fired, loosing a burst of energy into the Dark Man. He flew apart, his bones scattering in every direction, and most of them vaporizing. A black mist with red glowing eyes formed in the energy cannon.
"That's what I call an exorcism," Dragon said.
The black mist began to float upward, but suddenly there was the sound of opera, and Totengeist appeared, floating over the mist. He held out a glass jar with mystic sigils painted on it and watched as the mist was sucked inside.
Dragon felt the full power of the dragon gem soar through him again.
Brimstone was restored to his demonic appearance and original clothes. "Totengeist, you owe me big for this," he said.
Totengeist nodded his head at Brimstone, tossing him the jar. "Please see that this evil soul is incarcerated in Hell, where he belongs. The Council of Beyond wanted him recaptured, but his link to the elder god who was feeding him power needed to be severed. This was my task. Your powers were most useful. And, as I promised, sir Dragon, a mystical help for your problem."
Dragon clenched his fists and tried to control his anger. He was on the verge of losing control when he got a tingly feeling and blacked out. Seconds later, he woke up and was standing in the center of a downtown street. The Vagabond lifted off and Dragon found himself staring at oncoming traffic.