"These Silent Hills"
by David Marshall
The Warlock's Castle, The Eternal Now
Zatanna flailed against the coffin that bound her, but the Warlock's
magic was potent. She searched the audience's eyes for a sympathetic gaze.
The grotesqueries were either too afraid of the Warlock's power to show
compassion, or they lost the ability altogether when they were disfigured.
She found no mercy among the gallery of the damned.
"Coffin set me free," she demanded, but her prison held tight.
The crowd lauded their keeper as the Warlock postured.
Zatanna searched the throne room for salvation. Finding none, she settled
her eyes on the lone remaining canvas. It remained prison to a small,
motley band of men and women, frozen for eternity in an eddy of oil and
magic. They were clothed in chain mail and brandished an intimidating,
if archaic, arsenal. She wondered why they weren't given the choice to
defend the Warlock in their earlier battle, and how they escaped the fate
of disfigurement. What kept them from the Warlock's cruelties? The mysterious
portrait would have to wait. Zatanna had bigger fish to fry at the moment.
His posturing complete, the teeth of the Warlock's saw cut into Zatanna's
coffin. "No dopplegangers this time, woman! You'll make an excellent
addition to my collection!"
Zatanna wanted to tell him to go to hell. She wanted to rain fire down
from the sky upon his head. Her bondage prevented her from doing anything
but forcing muted curses into her gag.
"I know, my sweet mage," the Warlock taunted with feigned pity.
"I'm sure there's so much you want to say!" He stopped sawing
momentarily and walked to his throne. With malevolent eyes, he peered
into the looking glass beside it. "As soon as the fool, Chang, finishes
his spell, my plans..."
The Warlock grew silent as the hills of Ys.
The deafening rumble seemed to echo through the castle for an eternity,
and maybe in Ys it did.
The northern wall of the castle collapsed into a heap of jigsaw-shaped
stones, mortar, and chalky dust. The air tasted dry and Zatanna swore
the shadows cowered into whatever recesses they could find shelter. The
canvas creatures fled in all directions.
Once the dust settled, Green Lantern trekked through the destruction
with purpose. When he finally spoke, it was with grim resolve. "I've
come for you, Warlock!"
The Warlock lashed out with a mystical bolt that seared the air in its
wake, but Green Lantern constructed an emerald mirror and hurled the magic
back at him. The malevolent being's face contorted into a twisted grimace
that resembled a goat giving birth. He wailed as his own power hurled
him across the chamber and into a torture rack. The force carried him
and the rack into a limestone column that collapsed upon impact, burying
the Warlock in a torrential rain of debris.
While the Warlock struggled to free himself, Green Lantern loosed Zatanna's
bonds. "Not exactly Dudley-Do-Right, but I'm obliged," she joked.
Green Lantern didn't crack a smile.
"Classic cartoons?" Zatanna asked.
"I'm more of a silver screen man myself," Green Lantern answered.
"You'll be a dead man soon!" the Warlock roared as he rose
from the ruins. "The castle stones will run with your blood!"
With a mere gesture, the Warlock rearranged the rubble at his feet. Stone
piled upon stone with speed reminiscent of the Flash. Small chunks of
rocks filled spaces between larger stones. At first it appeared the Warlock
was building a barrier between himself and his foes, but when the spell
was complete it was obvious he was more interested in striking than in
defending himself. A stone behemoth lumbered to its feet and towered over
the heroes, standing nearly as tall as the mighty columns supporting the
castle's roof. The mindless animation struck with surprising quickness,
sending Zatanna and Green Lantern scurrying for cover.
"Split up, Z!" Green Lantern yelled over the mayhem of the
creature's heavy footsteps. He took to the air while Zatanna sought shelter
behind a dining table. "He can only go after one of us!"
"Hang on Z! I'll take care of it!" Green Lantern yelled over
"Don't sweat it, Dudley! I've got Ol' Stone Face here! Snidely Whiplash is all yours!"
Appollyon City, WABS Tower, The Office of Bob McNamara
Bob McNamara weathered many storms during his years in the business world,
but this one tried his loyalties unlike any other. The Scotts were always
good to him. When he first arrived in Gotham, a young, optimistic hopeful
out of Yale, it was the senior Mr. Scott who first recognized his talent.
When his mother died, WGBS made sure he could take care of his younger
sister, Pamela. Now she held a Yale degree of her own and practiced law
in Gotham for Wayne Enterprises. Sure, he was a nervous wreck around the
Scotts, but that was a shortcoming that went back to his days as a stuttering
introvert in junior high school. It certainly wasn't the result of any
mistreatment he experienced as an employee. Yes, the Scott family was
good to him. Very good. However, WCLO's offer was substantial. All he
had to do was sign the offer sheet and he would be set for life. But was
it fair to WABS and their employees? A defection of a top executive can
spell doom for an upstart company. More importantly, with the disappearance
of his father, and Mrs. Scott's health troubles, and the other defections
to the rival station, how would Mr. Scott take it? He stared at the contract
for what seemed like forever before his intercom buzzed. "Bob here."
"Bob, this is Felicity. Do you have a minute?"
"Sure. I'll be right over," he answered.
"Thanks. You're a trooper!" The intercom went dead.
A trooper? Twenty-three years in the business and he's a "trooper"? He picked up the three-hundred dollar gold fountain pen awarded for fifteen years of service and scribbled the name "Robert" on the bottom line of the WCLO contract, then stopped. He laid the pen down and carefully stuffed the contract into its legal-sized manila envelope. Now wasn't the time or the place to decide his future.
Appollyon City, WABS Tower, The Office of Jenny-Lynn Hayden
"Mister, if you were younger I'd knock you through that door!"
Jenny huffed. The man's story implicated Molly in a light she refused
"Please Ms. Hayden! My tale is the truth!" replied the man,
who identified himself as Nikolai Bolnikov. His aged baritone framed a
thick, Russian accent. He wrung his hands as he spoke.
Jenny stood then pushed her chair under her desk and paced the room.
"Ok, Mr. Bolnikov! Let's assume for one minute that your story is
true! Why bring it to light now, after all these years? Do you have any
idea how this could affect Molly? She's fighting like hell to recover
from a major stroke!"
Bolnikov sighed. "I was prepared to live the rest of my days without
seeing Marishka's face again, but circumstances have forced my hand. Please,
it is most urgent."
"You expect me to believe the two of you were lovers and that Molly
was a double-agent playing both our countries? It doesn't make sense.
She's not like that and even if your story is true, it was a long time
ago. Why would anyone in Russia want her dead now? Our countries aren't
looking over each other's shoulders these days." Jenny didn't know
how much the man really knew of Molly's past and didn't want to spill
the beans about her days as the Harlequin if he was unaware. She supposed
the tale was feasible. Who knew what Molly did during the sixties? She
certainly didn't talk much about it. There were a few veiled references
and comments, but even if Bolnikov's story was true, Molly still deserved
her right to privacy. Perhaps she didn't speak of it for a reason.
Nikolai Bolnikov peered at Jenny with worn, haggard eyes. "I never
implied she was in danger from my country, Ms. Hayden."
Jenny laughed nervously. "Then what am I to believe? The United
States wants her dead?"
Bolnikov dropped his head. "No, Ms. Hayden, not the United States either. Our son!"
The Warlock's Castle, The Eternal Now
Green Lantern couldn't break his stalemate with the Warlock. The being
was nigh omnipotent, but armed with the assurance of the Starheart, Green
Lantern fended off the Warlock's attacks. "You are more than human,
Alan Scott." The Djinn's words played over and over in his mind as
he warded off the Warlock's mystical blows.
"You do well at child's play, Green Lantern! But how well do you
handle deep magic?" The Warlock raised his hands and slowly opened
his arms, like Moses parting the Red Sea. As he forced his hands apart,
a tiny puncture formed in the fabric of reality within the castle walls.
All matter in the Eternal Now rushed toward the diminutive fissure. It
was little more than the size of a pinprick at first, but exploded to
the size of ripe, young apple very quickly. Even at such a tiny size,
it hungered for an entire dimension like a cosmic black hole. The rock
creature was sucked into the void first. As the maw expanded, scrolls,
tablets, vials, instruments of torture, and several of the now-blank canvases
rushed into the rift. Its appetite grew as it expanded. People from all
over Ys soon joined the debris hovering around the miasma .
"Living beings, come to me!" Zatanna anchored herself within
a protective field and reached out to save the citizens of Ys. One by
one, she snagged frightened men, women, and children and drew them within
the sphere of her magic. Even the hideous monstrosities that celebrated
her eminent demise moments before were grateful for her rescue. The population
swell was taxing her strength, however. Green Lantern had to seal the
The cosmic maelstrom clawed at Green Lantern's body, sucking him into
its quantum soup as well. He fought against the rushing current of reality
like a mating salmon. The Warlock's piercing laughter filled the chamber
from his throne. Only the laughing god-like creature, his throne, his
looking ball, and the portrait of the motley group that hung above his
throne were unaffected by the rift.
"This has gone on long enough!" A burst of green energy exploded
from Green Lantern's ring. Two pairs of large hands grabbed the fabric
of reality on either side of the rift and tugged. They labored mightily,
but at last pulled the frayed edges together like heavy, velvet theater
curtains. Immediately, the cosmic tempest halted. Another set of emerald
hands appeared with a needle and thread and sewed the tear.
"Impressive!" the Warlock mocked. "Your powers are far
greater than I imagined! Stand by my side and we will rule the dimensions!"
Green Lantern glared at the Warlock. "Your surrender's non-negotiable,
monster! We finish this now!"
Zatanna released her protective shield from the citizens of Ys. "Back
to your homes!" she commanded and the people were gone. "I agree.
This ends now!" She bowed before the Warlock. "I will join you
and so will Green Lantern... or we'll slay him!"
"Zatanna? Have you lost your mind?" Green Lantern stammered.
His face was twisted with confusion.
"You would do well to heed her example, Green Lantern!" the
"I don't know what you've done to Zatanna, but you'll find I don't
change my mind so easily!" Green Lantern hurled an emerald boxing
glove at his opponent.
"Glove become flowers!" Zatanna cried. The emerald glove morphed
into a bouquet of roses.
"How thoughtful of you!" the Warlock hissed as he snatched
the flowers from the air and sniffed them. "But I thought you above
the brutality of pugilism! But if that is the manner of fight you seek..."
Green Lantern's glassy-eyed stare announced that he was beaten.
The Warlock nodded. "Battle lust agrees with you, sweet child."
An evil smirk warped his lips. "Finish him!"
Zatanna raised her hands. "Spear of hatred slay the Green Lantern!"
A twelve-foot energy spear rushed from her fingertips toward the fallen
Despite his beating, Green Lantern raised his ring. An oversized, green
catcher's mitt dampened the impact of Zatanna's attack.
"Zatanna, please! You can fight this," Green Lantern pleaded
as his construct faded. "I don't want to hurt you, but I will to
save our world."
"He's too strong, my lord," Zatanna pleaded to the Warlock.
The Warlock glowed like the fires of hell as he took Zatanna's by the
hand. "Don't be afraid, my lovely. Concentrate on adding my power
to your own. Feel it flow into you, consuming your inhibitions. Drink
my darkness and learn true power!"
The Warlock bathed Zatanna in an aura of wickedness. The blackness of
his magic was bitter, but she opened herself to him and drank from his
well of chaos. The sensation was dreadful, yet intoxicating, as undiluted
evil coursed through her veins. The malice was overwhelmingly hypnotic.
Zatanna truly wanted nothing more than to slay her friend. He looked pitiful
and helpless, writing like a small animal on the side of the road after
it was hit by a passing automobile. She despised his weakness. Nothing
seemed more important than ending his pathetic life. So this is what the
Warlock felt like? No wonder he scorned the weaknesses of others. From
such a position of power the frailties of others were glaring. Why should
their shortcomings ruin your own perfect world? If they couldn't contribute
to your happiness in some way, then they should be eliminated. The power
Zatanna looked around the nearly empty throne room, savoring her victory.
Then her gaze fell upon the canvas above the throne and she remembered
"Prisoners be free!" Zatanna directed her command, and the
Warlock's magic, to the canvas.
"No!" the Warlock cried. "Cursed woman! Do you realize
what you've done?"
The combined might of Zatanna's spoken magic and the Warlock's dark arts
bathed the Living Canvas in an eerie luminance. The frame exploded like
fireworks, filling the room with a fetid blue smoke.
Five figures rushed from smoky veil and attacked the Warlock.
"Magin is dead!" the Warlock replied. "And the five of
you will join him!"
"We've watched you," added a red-haired female warrior. "You
grew arrogant! This time the element of surprise belongs to us!"
The Warlock encased himself within a hastily constructed force field.
While the Five assailed the Warlock's defenses, Zatanna felt his evil
influence diminishing. With each blow the quintet struck, her own will
strengthened until she was herself again. She rushed to Green Lantern.
"Are you ok?" she asked.
"A little woozy but I'll be fine," he replied. "You really
had me fooled."
Zatanna winked. "Think the Academy will honor my performance?"
"And God Created Woman. Let's put an end to this."
The mighty battle-axe finally broke through the force field. The battle
was swift and riveting. The red-haired woman took a dragon's form. Her
fiery breath seemed more effective against the Warlock than either Green
Lantern's or Zatanna's best efforts. He writhed within its fiery breath.
Again, the Warlock screamed in agony as a third member of the group hurled
arrows from a golden bow into his breast. Once he fell, the second woman,
a lovely brunette, enveloped the Warlock within a net of darkness. The
Warlock struggled against his prison but couldn't break free. Another
member of the group rammed through the Warlock with a long-sword.
The reeling Warlock fell to the ground.
The axe-man stepped away from the battle and whirled his weapon over
his head. A portal opened above him. It resembled the rift the Warlock
opened, but lacked the hunger of the earlier maelstrom.
"No!" the Warlock screamed. "I'll take Ys with me!"
The words echoed in Zatanna's head. The telepathic signature wasn't quite
the same, but very similar to what she felt whenever J'onn J'onzz spoke
to her in the heat of battle. "Retrieve the hourglass the sorcerer
wears around his neck."
"Green Lantern did you just receive..."
"I did. Go! Do what you were asked! I need to concentrate!"
"Now!" ordered the voice in Zatanna's head.
"Hourglass come to me!" she cried. The hourglass floated to
her waiting hands.
At the same instant, Green Lantern blasted the weakened Warlock with
a burst of Starheart energy that hurled him into the vortex created by
"Your souls for my vengeance!" the Warlock cried, as he plunged
through the vortex. The fissure sealed, stealing the air from the room
with an audible pop.
For several long minutes, the castle of Ys remained silent except for
the heaving of warriors catching their breath.
"I don't know who you people are, but thank you," said Green
"No thank you, strangers," answered the axe-wielder. "Your
aid has given our world a chance to live once more."
"Who are you?" Zatanna asked.
"I am Aelphin," answered the red-haired woman. "The dragon."
"Galand," replied the axe-man.
Introductions were fine but Zatanna wanted real answers. "No...
Who are you?"
"We were once the Seven. We protected Ys from evil with our enchanted
weapons and supernatural abilities," Aelphin replied
Zatanna turned to Green Lantern. "JLY?"
Green Lantern ignored her light-hearted humor. "Go on."
Aelphin continued. "The one you call the Warlock was numbered among
us, a powerful sorcerer named Magin who served King Tarin faithfully and
honorably until his death. When Tarin's son, Reyan, ascended to the throne,
Magin withdrew his support of our organization. He remained active only
for the sake of pomp."
"Why did Magin dislike Reyan?" Green Lantern asked.
"Magin despised his reforms. He feared they would doom the old ways."
Aelphin cast down her eyes.
Dorphas, the archer, picked up the story. "Magin wasn't the only
enemy King Reyan made with his reforms. Neighboring kingdoms clamored
for their rights too, which upset their monarchs. The king of Calman,
Traius the Taskmaster, plotted with an unknown traitor to slay our sovereign.
One of our own, Pathos, uncovered the plot and was close to learning the
identity of the betrayer. We turned to Magin for guidance. He suggested
we divide into two teams. He and Pathos would work to unmask the traitor
while we confronted Traius. Knowing it was time the Calmans paid tribute
to their king, Magin painted the five of us into a living canvas. Pathos
was supposed to disguise himself as an artisan and present the canvas
as tribute so we could get past the Calman armies. However, once he trapped
us, he slew Pathos and the royal family and set himself up as ruler of
"But they say the Warlock, Magin, created this place and has always
ruled this domain." Zatanna protested. She was still suspicious of
"You are wrong on both accounts," Lona answered. "What
you see of Ys is only a small portion of our world. The remainder is held
captive within the hourglass you hold in your hands. Time has passed within.
This castle and the surrounding lands exist within a sphere of Magin's
influence in which eons of time will pass between the milliseconds of
yours. I assure you Magin has not mastered time. Our battle contained
a beginning and an end that occurred in sequence. Magin's eternal rule
is also a fable. Many ruled these lands before he usurped our world. But
it wasn't enough. After imprisoning Ys within the hourglass, Magin's kingdom
was empty. He needed subjects to rule and discovered your world. Thanks
to the foresight of your Lords of Order, safeguards were erected that
denied him entrance from our world. But he erected portals that allowed
your citizens to pass into ours."
"If Ys exists within this hourglass, how can we restore it?"
Galand stepped forward with his battleaxe. "Each grain of sand within
represents a kingdom. When we shatter the hourglass with our enchanted
weapons the kingdoms will be restored."
"Then do it!" said Green Lantern.
Zatanna placed the diminutive hourglass on the floor and moved aside.
She held her breath as Galand lifted his axe high into the air. With a
mighty blow it shattered the tiny hourglass. Shards lay at Zatanna's feet
but not a single trace of sand was to be found.
"It's done?" Green Lantern asked.
"The task is complete," Lona replied. "Since time has
passed inside the glass, we will find a strange world awaiting us outside
the walls of this castle."
Green Lantern smiled. "I think you'll find champions of justice
always find a home. Ready to go, Z?"
Starheart energy bathed the two heroes and Ys faded from view.
Apollyon City, Wingate Memorial Hospital
Alan Scott found his daughter Jenny waiting outside Molly's room with
the man she described to him. "Jenny, what the hell is going on?"
"Mr. Bolnikov says Molly is in danger."
"What kind of danger?" Alan asked. He wasn't sure who the stranger
was, but if Molly was in danger he was eager to hear the man's tale.
"Thank you for your attention, Mr. Scott. I'm afraid the woman you
call Molly Mayne Scott will die."
"Mister, if that's some kind of veiled threat, I'm gonna..."
"No, Alan... don't," Jenny admonished.
A scream echoed from Molly's room.
Nikolai Bolnikov froze in horror. "We are too late! He has come!"
"Your son?" Jenny asked.
The trio rushed into Molly's room. The being at Molly's bedside couldn't
be Bolnikov's son. A Manhunter towered over her bedside. At least he resembled
a Manhunter, clad in red and blue. But he was different. His body was
more streamlined than the androids Alan had seen before. It's face was
decidedly more human as well. His movements were like liquid spreading
over the surface of a table, very fluid. It was almost like he wasn't
moving at all, more like he morphed from place to place. Was he a Manhunter?
Manhunter or not, he wasn't going to take Molly without a fight! "Back
away, monster!" Alan commanded.
The Manhunter smiled wryly and reached for Molly. Once he made contact, he absorbed Molly into his body. "Now, mother, you'll learn that no man... or woman escapes the Manhunters!"