by Chris Rush
segment from the upcoming book BETRAYER... by me, please rate
|Zaphh, Ben and Velix rushed down the cobblestone streets, Velix in front, and Ben and Zaphh behind. After about thirty seconds Zaphh realized that Ben could not keep up and he slowed down enough to pick up the child and sling him over his shoulders like an oddly shaped lamb. Ben shouted for Zaphh to turn left and the slaad transferred the command to Velix and they were running up street towards the potions that could save Kryshen’s life. They passed a first street and Ben told them to keep going, so they did. They reached the next street and Ben told them to turn right, so they did. Zaphh looked at all the buildings and the fourth one on the left was quickly identified by the alchemy sign on the door. They had found it. It was a long, two-story house that looked almost like a stable, with a steep roof, many windows and foreign scent. They approached the building cautiously, not knowing what to expect. Zaphh let Ben down and they both drew their weapons and Velix let out a long, low growl. Zaphh looked to Ben and he nodded, and Zaphh started away.
Suddenly the wall of the alchemy shop exploded outward and a giant, lumbering, flaming tree stepped out. The tree was at least twenty feet tall, how it had fit inside the building was impossible to conceive, and yet there was no denying the veracity of the creature. It had a face midway up its trunk and no leaves; instead it was covered in white-hot fire that seemed not to harm it. Zaphh set Ben down as Velix roared and charged, but the apparition simply melted from view, as if it were never there. Velix roared again and returned to Zaphh. Zaphh could only shake his head, what kind of illusion could harm objects?
They walked toward the hole in the wall; it would be faster than the door. As they neared the wall Zaphh noticed a flicker in his vision, almost a flicker of what the wall should have looked like, he shook his head and continued, only to smack headfirst into the wall that was still there. “Another illusion” Zaphh said, “well at least we know this demon we will have to fight has a sense of humour.” He didn’t chuckle at his own joke; instead he growled arose and ran to the door. It was jammed. The Slaad only growled again and threw his weight against the door, which shattered instantly under his supernatural strength. Ben ran through the door and got about two feet before he stopped in his tracks. Zaphh looked up and around to see what had startled the boy so. It was immediately apparent. There were two rather aged humans in the shop, one was at an alchemy vat, mixing various chemicals, he was at least forty, with grey hair and a grey beard, he wore spectacles and professional clothes. The other was a middle-aged woman with a long dress reading a book at a table. By the look on Ben’s face, it was obvious who these two were. They had found the boy’s parents.
Ben uttered a small, animal like sound before rushing to his apparent father and embracing him tightly. He sobbed heavily into his father’s chest and the man petted his head with one hand.
Zaphh had no idea what to say or do, they needed to get back to the cabin, but it felt wrong to break up this reunion.
Then Zaphh noticed something that sent his druid senses off like a wildfire: a thin strip of blood was spreading across Ben’s chest, exactly at the old man’s stomach. Zaphh’s stomach lurched remembering what Ben had said earlier: “he killed my father, cut… he cut him right in half!”
Zaphh gasped and cast a spell to detect undead. What occurred next was beyond explanation: there was a great flash of light and an explosion that somehow occurred within Zaphh’s mind, he was flung backwards and he hit the wall hard, blasting the breath from his lungs. He heard a growl that was most certainly not human, and then a scream that must have come from Ben. He opened his eyes and saw nothing but a white glare. Thinking quickly he cast a spell to free a subject from and enchantment and the blast of vision startled him. He looked around and noticed the two new threats in the room. The Zorigi had assumed their natural form and their very presence filled the room with a palpable sense of evil. They were each the size of their living counterparts, but horridly black-grey in appearance and devoid of clothing. Where the living wounds had been there were crawling masses of worms. Ben’s father’s entire midsection pulsed with squirming maggots. The undeads’s arms had torn themselves apart and three huge, whip-like worms dragged from the ends of each arm, sliding across the floor like gory pieces of rope. Each end of the worms was marked by enormous blade. The very presence of the creatures filled Zaphh with revulsion.
The wife had stood and faced Zaphh with a hunger evident on her face.
The father was now slowly advancing towards Ben who had fallen to the floor and attempted to crabwalk backwards, he had fallen and was lying on the ground, paralysed with fear. The undead moved closer and opened his impossibly large jaws, exposing a mouth full of razor sharp needle teeth, apparently bent on consuming the helpless human. He leaned over to bite when Velix flew over top of the boy, slamming the undead in the face and catching it unawares. Nevertheless, somehow the being didn’t even move, just staggered back a step and turned its attention to the frost tiger, which promptly spewed a cone of frost at the monster. Which, unfortunately, had no effect whatsoever except to cover the lash of the undead’s worm-whips. The three tentacles wrapped about Velix and easily hurled him though the air, sending him cashing into a bookshelf to fall inert on the wooden floor, the Zorig turned back to Ben, who had regained some of his senses and had climbed back to his feet.
Zaphh moved to help him, but remembered the mother in front of him. His swords materialized in his hands and he felt some of his courage return. The mother lashed out, far quicker than Zaphh had anticipated, and one of the worms caught him on the shoulder, slicing a deep cut. The other arm followed and he quickly whirled both of his blades down, parrying one and slicing clean through another. The monster emitted what might have amounted to a scream and retracted her arm. Zaphh grinned, rhythm attained.
Against the wall, Velix struggled, and failed to rise.
Ben had regained his feet and faced the Zorig of his father, his fists clenching and unclenching. Sill, his anger was impotent considering his shortbow was over by the door where he had dropped it before he ran to embrace his father. A full ten feet away. He jumped back, avoiding the slash of all six worms, and hit the wall behind him, he was cornered. He turned to Zaphh and cried: “Help me! Get me my shortbow!”
Zaphh worried that the boy had gone insane. He certainly would have been entitled to, with the horrors of the day. How could he expec-… Zaphh paused a moment, barely avoiding another slash from the mother. He lapsed into a quick spellcast and in the blink of an eye, and a flash of blue, Ben disappeared and reappeared on the other side of the cabin, shortbow in hand. Beyond surprise, the boy immediately drew an arrow and put it in the back of the monster’s head, which simply turned and began to lumber towards him. He fired two more off, each striking the monster in the face, but it refused to even stagger. “Eyes!” Zaphh cried between dodges, he slashed down, cutting loose another worm. He heard the scream of the other undead as Ben’s arrow made contact with its eye. It had covered half the distance and was still not showing any signs of slowing down. Another arrow ruptured the abomination’s other eye and Zaphh called: “move!” and Ben did, rushing up some stairs to the second floor of the lab. Zaphh cast again and a whirling barrier of blades sprung into existence in front of the monster’s face. It sliced through the tentacles and her arms, dropping them to the floor. A thick, slow spatter of blood followed. The undead mother finally collapsed.
At almost the same instant, Ben came down the stairs holding a potion in his hand. It was blackish orange and Ben had a certain expression on his face. The blinded Zorig meandered around the room, flailing its arms like a madman, which it, of course, was. Ben came down the stairs and screamed at it: “Hey, dad, eat this.” He hurled the potion, which caught the undead right in the face and exploded into blackfire, the ever-burning substance used in many sieges. The blackfire caught on to the flesh and spread down its limbs, eating away at the monster like fire would real wood. It screamed, a keening, horrid sound and collapsed. Ben waited a beat and said “ever never more.” And the flame disappeared. Ben fell over, bracing himself on the stairwell. He waited a moment, sobbing slightly and then raised his head: “alright, let’s get Kryshen some potions, they’re up here.”
Zaphh shook his head at the boy’s toughness and followed him up the stairs. Zaphh stopped at the top and muttered a healing charm, the most powerful one he had memorized, and a white light appeared around Velix. The ice tiger’s wounds stitched themselves back together and the broken bones crackled as they shattered and reformed in the correct position. Within moments, the white beast was back on his feet. Velix shook his head violently and bounded up the stairs, muzzling Zaphh’s hand. He gave the tiger a pat on the head and he continued up to the next level.
This room was square and no more than twenty feet either way. The roof sloped down at a slight angle and the west-side wall was the roof. There were tables on the east side and a multitude of potions on the table. A lone window above the table cast a ray of light on four potions.
Ben caught his stare and chuckled; “My father put those there for safe keeping.”
“Why? What was in them… what is in them?”
“Why, souls of course, souls of angels.” Ben Chuckled again, Zaphh began once again to fear for his sanity.
“Yes, in case debt collectors ever came looking for us I guess.” Ben laughed hysterically at this and Zaphh chucked uneasily along, wondering what to say.
“So… uh, where are the potions of healing?” Zaphh said.
“They’re in here,” he said, pointing to a tiny velvet rock pouch, Zaphh gave him a doubting and fearful look, “oh, don’t think I’m insane, slaad, it’s a pouch of holding, look.” He opened the pouch and Zaphh looked inside, sure enough, the pouch was black inside and contained a pile of what must have been thirty health potions.
Zaphh shrugged and said: “I’ll never doubt you again, boy, let’s go, before Kryshen expires.” Ben nodded and ran down the stairs, his feet somehow unnaturally accelerated. Zaphh noted the new boots on the boy’s feet; he wondered just how powerful his parents had been.
The threesome rushed out of the house and started back for the Fox Tail.
Alexia looked around, amazed to be alive. Beyond that, she felt amazingly revitalized. Is this what the afterlife is like? She wondered, nah, if I were dead I would be in purgatory or the abyss with all the Erinyes.
The Erinyes were fallen angels that served the lords of the hells; she wasn’t quite ready to except that title though.
As she panned the room she noticed two things, the stench of burnt wood, metal and bodies, and she noticed the man collapsed in front of her; it was Syn. He groaned and she scuttled forward on the ground to grab him in her arms, he was limp, but definitely alive. His heartbeat was strong, he just looked incredibly exhausted. He opened his eyes and noticed her and smiled slightly, she smiled reassuringly back.
“I’m glad… you… are okay, my…love.” He stuttered.
She wiped a tear from her eye, “what happened to you?”
“I… saved your life.”
“I… I… cast the wish spell.”
That explained it; the wish spell required the caster to use a portion of his essence to create the powerful effect of the spell, which could be as simple as a fireball, to as complex as raising the dead or even defeating immortality. A thousand questions raced through her mind: what are you doing here, how did you know, where have you been these past months, too many questions to ask caused her to simply sit there, rocking Syn in her arms like a mother would a child. They sat like that for nearly a full minute before they heard Kryshen groan behind them.
“Kry…shen.” Syn moaned.
“What? What happened to him?” She seemed not to have heard the moan.
With what seemed like a titanic effort, Syn raised his arm and pointed behind the angel.
She turned about and exclaimed in surprise as she noticed the night elf on the table. She set Syn down gently and rose rushing to the fighter’s side. She started to cast a spell but stuttered over the first line, she tried again, to similar results. She faintly heard Syn behind her: “you, probably…have…forgotten the spells…being as you did…die.”
She felt anger well up inside her, she cursed all that was holy and put her head against the wall, thinking.
“Zaphh has…gone to get…potions.”
She jumped at the voice, and felt great relief. And then shouted in alarm. She had noticed the battlefield outside.
“Huge…force of demons…disappeared…think they…are…were…illusions.”
“Yes.” Syn appeared to have gotten some wind back and was now attempting to rise, though he was so far unsuccessful. Alexia rushed over to help him. Putting his arm around her back on top of her wing juncture he was able to rise, though he had so little strength he could hardly move, and couldn’t even support his head, instead letting it hang limp, chin on his chest.
Suddenly Zaphh and Velix burst through the door, followed by a boy she had never seen.
“Who’s he?” She asked.
“Who’s she?” The boy asked
“Alexia?” Zaphh asked
“Who’s Alexia?” The boy asked.
“I’m Alexia, who are you.”
“I’m Ben, What’s wrong with the wizard?” That elicited a smack from Zaphh, and Alexia giggled.
“The wizard, rescued me by using a wish spell.”
“Ah.” The boy still looked confused, but Zaphh had become almost like a construct, his single-mindedness was frightening. He didn’t even seem surprised that Alexia had just appeared without any warning. He pulled out what looked like a pouch for holding pebbles and opened it; he reached inside and pulled out a potion. He approached Kryshen and propped the night elf in a sitting position. The elf screamed in agony as broken bones slid across internal organs. The slaad poured the potion down his throat and Kryshen promptly spit most of it back up. But the potion looked like it was doing some good, the cuts all over his body began to disappear and he groaned into semi-consciousness. Zaphh fed him four more potions and his wounds almost completely closed up, his eyes returned to their natural alert, darting self. His parched lips worked as he tried to speak.
“Spit it out elf.” Zaphh said
Kryshen grinned and promptly spit a small globe of saliva at the druid. The slaad grinned and clapped Kryshen on the shoulder. Which he ginned even more widely to.
“Good job.” His dry throat managed.
“No need to thank me.” Said the slaad.
Kryshen laughed: a brittle, painful sound, “What is Alexia doing here?”
She laughed, “that, is one hell of a long story, I shall tell that tale after we get out of this town.”
Kryshen smiled and said, “Okay have it your way.” When he finished he gathered his strength and began to rise. He immediately felt Zaphh’s hands under his armpits, lifting him up. The slaad easily lifted him off the ground and placed him on his feet. Kryshen felt weak and light-headed, but otherwise far better than he should have been. He took a cautious step and felt some of his balance return. After a few experimental minutes he felt almost perfect. Zaphh conjured a waterskin for him and he eagerly downed the contents, each gulp of water splashing hollowly inside his stomach. With his strength almost returned Zaphh cast a simple spell meant to boost the subject’s toughness. He felt a complete revitalization spread through his veins and strength flow into his limbs. He shook his head and nodded.
“I’m better now.”
Everyone looked relieved and certain they were safe, except for Ben: “soooo, what do we do now? We can’t really walk out of here, can we?”
Every one in the tavern fell silent as they, as one, surveyed Syn’s almost lifeless form. He of course would be fine; he would just need lots of rest. “I can carry the wizard out of the town and conjure us some horses, but only if we rest tonight.” Zaphh said.
Alexia nodded, “that’s what we’ll do then. Gather up your things everyone, we’ll ransack the alchemy lab for supplies and head out.”
Ben looked worried, but Kryshen just nodded: “yes, but how did you know that there was an alchemy lab?”
“I figured that the boy must have come from somewhere and you certainly didn’t have that many potions before you came here.”
“Your powers of deduction never fail to amaze me.”
“My pleasure, can we go?”
“Let me gather up my sword and bow and we shall be on our way.”
Kryshen nodded, then paused for a beat and looked to his twin scabbards and noticed the absence of Vescal and Ironis. He shrugged and called them to his hands.
For a moment nothing happened, and he felt a moment of panic, but then the familiar tingle touched his hands and they materialized in his grip. He nodded again and started for the door.
Alexia handed Syn over to Zaphh and went to gather up Firas, when she touched it she felt the enchantment in her skin, almost like a jolt of electricity, she smiled realizing that the old enchantment was still intact. She found her greatsword as well and found that enchantment intact as well. Somehow, with her weapons intact she felt…whole, safer, completed. She was glad for the comfort they afforded.
Suddenly she heard a yell from the back of the tavern, by the door. She turned back and was assaulted by a sensation of wrongness. And power.
The creature at the door was about five and a half feet in height, with black, scaled, armour-like skin. Its head had no mouth and was triangular in shape. Its eyes burned like fire and no ears were present. Its arms ended in curving, foot-long razor shaped bone white claws that dripped with blood. Alexia looked to her comrades and saw than none were wounded; she wondered where the blood had come from. She realized that he demon was far more than it appeared, and she wished desperately that she still had her spells.
She drew her bow and nocked an arrow and fired it between her friends directly at the demon’s forehead. It passed through its head as if it were not even there. She instantly assumed that the creature had a spell to make it seem beside where it actually stood, but even when the arrow exploded behind it the flames did not harm it. She paused, momentarily stunned by her adversary, and that was when the demon struck. The demon by the door disappeared as the real demon behind her struck, jabbing its claws into the small of her back. Somehow her magical clothing turned the blow, she spun, kicking out… and missing. Somehow, the strike passed right through the demon again. Almost instantly, the demon disappeared.
Kryshen let out a yell and she turned fast enough to see him parry a swipe of the demon’s claw that would have torn his throat out. The boy, who had a shortbow in hand, fired off two quick arrows, each about a foot from where the demon appeared to be. The first missed, but the second seemed to warp in midair and struck the apparent place where the demon stood, and bounced off the creature’s scales.
How the hell do we beat that? Alexia wondered. With their wizard all but useless, the obvious illusions of the demon would almost completely protect it from attack, and there was no way to tell where the demon stood and where he, or it, would attack.
Kryshen narrowly avoided another attack and shouted, “Get out! We can’t fight him in close quarters!”
Alexia nodded and levelled her bow at the nearest wall; she fired two quick arrows in succession and the wood splintered and cracked, exposing the marred battlefield outside. With little hesitation she plunged through the opening, and was followed quickly by Zaphh, who was still carrying Syn, and the boy, who fired another arrow, to similar results. Velix and Kryshen stayed behind to cover their retreat.
Velix spewed a cloud beside Kryshen and somehow the jet of cold hit the demon squarely. Blue seemed to cover it and slow its movements and eventually, it stopped completely, frozen in a blue, solid icicle. Kryshen paused, examining the demon; tentatively he stepped forward, rapping one of his daggers on the ice. It shattered.
Momentarily after he heard the shouts and renewed sound of battle from outside, he cursed and Velix roared. They both headed out the hole in the wall, only to see their companions fighting for their lives. Zaphh and Alexia had flanked the demon, or what appeared to be the demon, and were swiping at it with all three of their weapons, Ben stood off to the right, firing arrow after arrow into the treacherous fray. It seemed to Kryshen that Zaphh had somehow found enough time to discard Syn’s virtually comatose body off to the side against a building.
Alexia’s greatsword slashed at the beast, finally striking it, though all that was to show for it was a deep scratch and a shower of sparks. On the other side, Zaphh seemed to be casting some sort of magic, though he had to simultaneously dodge and weave and brandish his sprig of holly just to manifest the power. When he completed the spell a massive flash of blue enveloped the demon and revealed his exact position, not to mention his real form. The real form was simply that of a Babau, a lesser assassin demon. They were about six feet in height with human-like black hair; its face was almost skeletal with skin stretched tight as a wire over its face. Its arms were dangly and its claws the shape and size of daggers.
Just as quickly as the form appeared, however, it disappeared, to be replaced by the other, more insidious form. It teleported away quickly, but not before an arrow from Ben’s unenchanted shortbow penetrated its side, though the magical nature of the demon obviously prevented much harm.
The creature reappeared atop a house not far away, and Zaphh wasted no time in casting a spell that prevented noise, hopefully that would keep the beast from casting spells. Unfortunately, the demon dispelled the silence with a wave of its arm. The group gathered together, except for Kryshen, who figured the safest place would be out of the blast radius of any magic the monster could conjure.
It made a rapid clicking noise in its throat, somehow Kryshen recognized it for laughter, “You cannot defeat me.” It said in a buzzing, irritating voice. It spoke barely comprehensible common, but the power behind the words was obvious. The magical compulsion to grovel beneath the Supreme Being hit the troupe like a wall, slamming almost physically into their willpower like a charging steed. One by one, the company fell, first it was Ben, then Zaphh, then Syn began to kneel forward, Alexia staggered and yelled, before finally going to her knees, Kryshen had enough time to ask “Are you a God?” Before the enchantment buffeted him. He felt the very fibre of his being flayed before his eyes as the magic ripped through his mind and send him reeling. The more he resisted, the stronger the call came: “Come. Grovel. I shall not harm you. Together we could rule the world. Just relax.” He was barely aware that he had fallen to his knees, but was even less aware that he was muttering “lies, you promise false things Unholy God.” He collapsed face first on the ground.
Velix was growling beside him, but that call was growing further and further away. Kryshen realized that that was not because he was passing out, but because the ice tiger was growling quieter and quieter. He suddenly realized that he was entirely in control of his limbs, but he couldn’t let that show in his features, he remained prostrated before his ‘god’ like the rest of their troupe.
The demon stood on the rooftop and made the clicking noise again, “my name is Izzailunus, Seventh Lord of Baator, The False One!”
Baator? I thought it was the abyss that had lords. Kryshen thought to himself. He felt inclined to be amazed that they had lasted as long as they had against a veritable god, but he was only fearful of what was to come.
“I ask my new vassals but one thing: serve me! Serve and be rewarded with eternal life! Eternal power! All that you dreamed of may yet be yours, but only if you swear fealty to me!”
Kryshen began whispering an invocation for one of his arcanus tricks. The spell took only a few heartbeats, but it seemed to last an eternity. He was actually going to oppose a God? By himself? He chastised himself and finished the invocation. A brilliant light materialized in front of him and sped towards the False One. The bolt was simply meant to distract the demon; he quickly cast another trick and his shuriken bandoleer blazed with a sudden power. He quickly invoked the magic of his ring and teleported to the rooftop. He reached the roof just after the bolt of light struck… and fizzled out of reality. Kryshen still grinned though, because the true damage had been done. A small dart protruded from the demon’s scales, which, though it had done no actual harm, had created an antimagic field around the Lord of Baator. The demon jerked back to its original position, bereft of its displacement ability, though it somehow maintained its true form. Kryshen realized that the other form was obviously an illusion to fool them. A magical feint, the battle had taken on a new dimension, and one that Kryshen did not truly understand.
Kryshen’s daggers and Shurikens remained enchanted, thanks in part to the sentient nature of Vescal and Ironis, but mostly to the enchantment that Kryshen had just cast. One that prevented dispelling.
Willing to bet the False One had never witnessed his fighting style he quickly drew two shurikens, tossed them and then his daggers, he followed those instantly with a spell that created two swords by his side that fought along with him. The two shurikens were easily deflected, but the jolt of electricity from both raced down Izzailunus’ arm and jolted him enough to disrupt his concentration and allow the two large daggers to punch at its chest. Both sunk hilt deep and Izzailunus screamed, a wretched sound that cut the wind like an elemental. Both blades immediately disappeared and reappeared in his hands. Kryshen started to rush the False One when he noticed that the wounds had already closed. He staggered back a step, “not possible.” He said and stumbled slightly, his concentration broke and the golden swords at his sides dissipated into nothingness. Both Vescal and Ironis were enchanted with powerful curses that prevented any creature from healing. But apparently not a god. He felt a tingle in the back of his mind and he realized that it was a feeling of confidence. It took a moment for him to realize that it was Vescal was sending him the emotion. He had no real idea why the blade was confident; the demon was obviously almost invincible.
Perhaps the body, but what is a warrior without his spirit. He is naught more than a boy, and one that does not deserve to live. You can make this demon a child, but only if you break his spirit.
Kryshen felt more than heard the telepathic message from Ironis, though he was no nearer to understanding it. Break his spirit? What did the daggers want him to do, taunt the Seventh Lord of Baator?
Fool! Destroy, not break, capture and bind it so that we may feast upon his great essence and in turn make you far more powerful.
Capture it? Kryshen wondered. How?
Vescal, use him as the tool of your ascension! Feast and grow powerful!
Kryshen gave a small nod and braced himself when he noticed the god almost ten feet away from him. Izzailunus had stalked him slowly, expecting Kryshen to be horrified and paralysed by the pseudogod’s appearance. Kryshen didn’t lend credence to the belief, jumping forward and slashing with Ironis.
Below, the troupe still kneeled in worshipping form.
The long dagger connected with a claw and Kryshen was forced to parry the other claw with his other dagger. Both of his arms were pushing in towards the demon, but their strength was obviously uneven. With a twitch, Izzailunus sent him flying away. He landed hard on his back, but was up in an instant, just in time to bat away another claw and leap back from another. He activated his ring again and teleported to the other side of the roof. He lobbed Ironis and saw the dagger stick into the back of the demon, right between the shoulder blades. Izzailunus staggered, but did not drop; he turned and ran at the night elf. He called back his dagger and the demon screamed, as the wound closed. Kryshen tilted his head as he began to get an idea. It was an idea that would be hard because he had exhausted his ring’s capabilities for the day. Nevertheless he gave it a sporting try and dashed forward, trying for the fatal blow. He was understandably surprised when his swipe was easily parried and then the demon jumped forward, slamming him in the chest with his shoulder. He flew from the rooftop and crashed the fifteen feet to the ground. Where he lay sprawled in a heap. Black spots covered his vision and he only barely was able to activate his healing ring before he blacked out completely. He felt his brain shrink to its normal size and his ribs repair themselves, but when he opened his eyes, he felt the world spin. His vision seemed almost to rotate and his body felt as though it were swaying back and forth. He groggily rose to his feet just in time to see Izzailunus staring down at him, “You cannot win drow, forsake your goals and-” he never got the sentence off, because two arrows simultaneously slammed him in the side. One exploded, though it did no obvious damage.
Alexia and Ben had been freed.
Izzailunus leapt from the rooftops and Kryshen could hear the sounds as Alexia hastily drew her greatsword and pitted herself against the invulnerable demon.
He struggled to free himself from the spinning craziness but the healing was extensive and he had all he could manage to simply stagger to the end of the wall to look at the heightening battle.
Ben had stayed back and fired arrow after arrow at the beast, some skipping off and others embedding themselves in his hide, but the demon’s healing abilities forced the arrows from its hide slowly, and completely covered the wound. Alexia was whipping her fine greatsword back and forth, defeating all the demons attacks, but never responding in turn, she was quickly tiring. Kryshen took another deep breath to steady himself and cast another spell, one that wreathed him in an aura that made him more confident. He ran to his ally’s aid. He came up beside Alexia, and quickly parried a slash that would have spilled her guts all over the ground. She offered him an almost imperceptible nod and he turned to her, still parrying and dodging blows: “This is my battle, get out of here, protect the others . . . I’ll take care of him.” Alexia looked quizzical, but nodded and jumped back, running to Ben and gathering him up in her arms, she made for Zaphh.
Izzailunus gave that odd clicking laugh: “Honour is for the weak, drow, and when I destroy you, I will show you how weak it is. I will see how long you will last with a million needles of fire jabbing into your very soul.”
Kryshen smiled as he dodged another blow, recalling as the novels of heroes of old, thinking Izzailunus sounded a tad clichéd: “It is not honour that drives me, but simply hatred of all that you are. Not to mention, I also possess the means to destroy you.”
Again the ridiculous clicking laughter: “Fool drow, no mortal possesses the means to harm me, let alone destroy me.”
Kryshen laughed his own laugh and allowed his race to manifest. The arcane vapours spewed from his eyes with a violent burst of energy. Izzailunus was thrown back at least ten feet and lay dazed on the ground. Kryshen’s body seemed to gain a measure of supernatural ability, his hunched form portrayed complete and sinuous readiness. Kryshen seemed more than mere mortal, his eyes, completely obscured by the blue flames viewed everything as gradations of magic. Just as his eyes would notice heat gradations in complete dark. The landscape was all textured blue and every human had several shades of green, yellow or red. Kryshen was enveloped in a red glow, as was Izzailunus. The demon lord was already back on his feet, hissing in either anger or fear, Kryshen wasn’t certain which.
“Night elf!” Izzailunus said, and he did indeed sound afraid, Kryshen did not miss his pointed glance at his daggers.
“Indeed Izzailunus. May I ask you a question,” Kryshen said, stalking forward slowly, “Have you heard of a man, or Half-fiend rather, whose name was Vlyndar?” Izzailunus hissed in fear, “Vescal and Ironis.” The demon said
“Indeed. Do you know what race this Vlyndar was?”
Kryshen leapt forward and slashed, though the demon easily deflected it. Kryshen inwardly winced as he realized his earlier plan was not going well. He figured that the False One would have to scream every time that he wanted to heal himself, he obviously had been wrong as the demon’s wounds continued to heal unabated. The screaming was yet another feint, this demon was becoming more and more clever as the battle went on. Kryshen’s main worry was if the demon was learning about his fighting style faster than he was about the demon’s.
Kryshen’s blades rapped off either set of claws and he leapt back, avoiding the next slash, he drove in, feinted high and stabbed low, simultaneously slashing high with his other dagger. Both attacks were defeated. Izzailunus jumped forward and attempted to check the elf again, but Kryshen had learned his lesson last time. He leaned back, avoiding the armoured shoulder by inches. He fell back to regroup and pondered just how to defeat this incredible adversary.
Even as he thought about winning he realized another problem, Izzailunus’ breathing was steady and controlled but Kryshen’s was already coming in gasps. The fatigue would be the death of him. He quickly devised a new strategy using all the fury his night elf form granted him. His blades slashed alternately against Izzailunus’ claws, drawing a constant ringing tone that almost resembled music. Accompanied by many slashes were bursts of sparks and tiny droplets of the demon’s blood. He kicked ahead and connected solidly with the False Ones chest, staggering him and causing him to fall backwards slightly. Kryshen didn’t miss his opportunity slashing ahead viciously with Ironis, opening a huge gash in the demon’s throat. The blood that gushed from the wound was like nothing he had ever seen, it was midnight black and congealed; it filled him with revulsion. Despite the macabre display, however, the voice of Ironis was far from pleased.
Fool! I cannot harm him; you must destroy him with Vescal! Feast upon is very soul! Cut him! Bash him! Before he can regenerate! Feast!
Kryshen was confused, but would not put it past Ironis to know something about this that he did not, so he stabbed ahead with Vescal, the Dagger of Souls. The tip connected with the demon’s skin and he felt a great black power rush into the dagger, and he remembered Vescal’s life stealing properties. Amazingly, before the dagger had penetrated more than a hair’s breadth Izzailunus jumped back, the wound in his throat almost completely closed.
“Vescal… Ironis.” The demon said slowly and, to the utter surprise of both parties, Neridol spoke up.
“Indeed, fool demon lord, ever has the False One overstepped his boundaries and over-challenged those greater than him. Did you honestly believe Vlyndar would not have his revenge for the time when you had him evicted from the Blood Lake? Did you truly believe he would not find a vassal to destroy you with? You are pathetic Izzailunus, prepare to die by the Hand Unmade.”
Hand Unmade? What the hell is he talking about? Kryshen wondered.
KILL HIM! Ironis screamed in his mind.
He winced as a bolt of agony raced through his mind. He was quickly prepared again and he leapt forward, but it was again he who was surprised. Izzailunus expected his charge and batted his daggers away and, without Kryshen being able to protect himself, threw his shoulder into the night elf’s midsection. Kryshen felt himself fly away, he felt his ribs snap under the impact, and he felt the blood coughed out of his mouth spatter back against his face. He briefly saw Izzailunus stalk towards him before the world dissolved into a swirl of black and grey. He heard the demon’s clicking laughter as he approached: “Foolish Neridol, I destroyed you and I ousted Vlyndar, are you fool enough to think this spawn of that great fiend could possibly harm me?” Kryshen descended into unconsciousness.
He awoke moments later to the sound of a surprised shriek, two arrows protruded from Izzailunus’ neck and face. He didn’t thank his luck and couldn’t understand how he was able to climb to his feet. With broken ribs he should hardly be able to stand in a perfectly still position, let alone climb to his feet in awkward positions. He shook his head to clear the cobwebs and faced the demon again, a renewed vigour coursing through his veins. He saw the arrows forced from the demon’s skin as another struck him in the side. Kryshen risked a glance over the side long enough to notice the diminutive boy about thirty feet away atop another roof, Zaphh, Alexia and Velix stood with him and Syn leaned heavily against Zaphh’s recently reconjured staff. Kryshen pondered if it was an illusion or not. Considering the antimagic dart in Izzailunus’ side, he doubted it. He surmised that Zaphh must have cast some basic healing magic on him.
He nodded and charged the demon again, this time slightly more cautiously. His first few strikes were intercepted by the demon’s claws, but when another arrow flew in the demon staggered enough to the side that he missed the parry of one of Kryshen’s daggers. The dagger was Vescal.
The stab plunged hilt deep into where the demon’s heart should have been. But this time no blood flowed, none at all. Kryshen felt power explode out of the False One and travel down the hilt of Vescal and into his arm. The power raced over his skin, burning like fire, he growled and held on for dear life. Izzailunus jerked spasmodically, his neck jerking back and forth like a magically powered fishing lure. The demon’s entire body radiated a death-black aura, though Kryshen viewed it as an intense bust of magical light. The Seventh Lord of Hell began to scream as he began to flake away. The first bit was the area around the stab, which evaporated like hot water and spread to the rest of his chest. As the demon’s head began to disappear he managed to scream a long drawn out ‘no,’ and then was gone. Vescal’s blade was enveloped in an intensely black light and the pearl of black in the pommel had fully encompassed the tulip shape and extended a little past the spikes of the onyx flower. Kryshen stared down at it like a handful of Devil Chills; an insidious disease that many claimed was passed by the touch of devils.
The town was dead silent as Kryshen realized what he had just begun.
He had just slain the Seventh Lord of Hell.