Image by Susanne Jutzeler, suju-foto from Pixabay
The great lake had frozen amongst the whirl winds weeks before. Half frozen ice had churned endlessly, smashing against the breakers, shattering into shards to be churned and frozen again. What was left now that the howling skies had abated and the winter sun rose over the desolate blue and white, was a lake of razor frost.
The air was still, but the cold bit deep as Terria sprinted across the docks, with blood dripping down her cheek.
She held the gem close; she would not let them have it.
Chriscus panted hot wisps from his mouth as she dragged him along behind her.
“We lost them!” He wheezed.
They slid to a halt behind empty scattered crates and tried to catch their breath.
“It’s lucky, they looked like they meant business.” He said.
Terria’s eyes darted from cover to alleyways to abandoned sheds. “It’s not them I was worried about.”
“It’s a good thing that mad man intervened huh?” Chriscus continued, “Some drunken knight in heavy armour just clambering into them all.” He shook his head, “Fantastic!”
“He was no drunken knight.” She replied frantically.
“I mean, what are the odds?”
Terria’s darting vision honed in on Chriscus and she slapped him hard. It rang clear across the silent lake.
“Don’t you get it you half witted dolt? That was no luck but our doom! That knight was once my husband, and in our quest to keep this,” she produced the pulsating amethyst, “from The Dark Baron, he was captured. The Baron tortured and twisted him into a deranged monster with foul magic. He bent him to one desire, to find this for his new master.”
Chriscus was silent for a moment, “Your husband, Willym the great warrior of Crest? The Bane of Horrentous? An unstoppable beacon of virtue and battle prowess was turned into a mindless monster hunting that?” He pointed to the gem. “And he’s here in this very town at the same time as those thugs?”
“Yes!” Terria resumed her frantic vigil.
“Good, keep that fear up and we might just survive, follow me.” She dragged him from cover and they made for the dingy moored amongst the broken ice shards. “He’s always there, dogging me as other interested parties catch up, he’ll kill anyone to get what he desires. Let’s just hope we can get out far enough to avoid their spells.”
“Well, well, well.”
They froze, half loaded into the boat.
“It seems you evaded Borsky’s bunch. I’ll take some of his cut for that.”
The two turned to see several thugs – armed to the teeth – closing in on them along the pontoon.
“His bunch weren’t evaded so much as eviscerated.” Chriscus said, he wove his hands, spinning red lines into the air which sputtered and sizzled in the cold. “I suggest you leave unless you want the same fa-OOF!”
The blow came from a thrown mace; the nearest thug had acted in the face of Chriscus’ false bravado. He collapsed haplessly.
“That just leaves the errant scholar to deal with.” The thugs turned to Terria.
“You can’t have this – if it gets into the wrong hands – millions will perish.”
“And millions of coins will make their way to me.” The ringleader smiled, drawing a long dagger. His smile faded. “Hand it over.”
Terria was swift; her first knife struck the mace thrower’s eye. He screamed and collapsed in a bloody mess. But the ringleader was swifter, he lunged forward and his dagger plunged into her side. She stumbled back with a scream, clutching the protruding blade with one hand.
Then there was a roar, the dock slats boomed with the approaching steps of some behemoth; a knight, plated in black with eyes as red as hell fire burst onto the scene – Willym. He shoulder charged the closest thug who went limp with a stifled grunt and a sickening snap. Then he stomped the collapsed mace thrower’s head until he was silent and turned onto the next thug, who was weaving magic into the air.
Fire poured from the spell in a constant stream which engulfed Willym. With a roar he charged into the flames and clasped his hands around the spell caster’s throat. There was a wheezed whimper as the fire fizzled out and another snap, the thug stopped writhing and collapsed onto the dock.
The ringleader drew his dagger from Terria as she screamed and he lunged for the gap in the plates around Willym’s neck. It struck true and sunk into his neck with a sickening squelch.
Unperturbed, Willym backhanded the ringleader, knocking him senseless. He grabbed him by the shoulders and hefted him up high, walking to the dock’s edge which overlooked the jagged ice shards.
“N-no!” The ringleader pleaded.
Willym threw him into the razor waters. With a gurgling scream the ringleader writhed, churning the shards to slice him into ribbons as he was dragged beneath the freezing surface.
After a moment there was silence, and Willym stood smouldering over the carnage.
Terria dragged herself across the dock, doing all she could to distance herself from her former lover. He moved over to her slowly, each shudder in the slats was her doom ambling closer.
Chriscus woke from his daze, seeing the monster kneel over Terria.
“No,” She said weakly, holding the amethyst in vein defiance. “Willym, you can’t have it, the Baron cannot have it!”
Willym reached for the gem, but to Chriscus’ surprise he overshot it and placed his hand over Terria’s wound.
“I was bent. To one. Desire.” He said in a deep, stunted voice. “All. I. Ever. Desired. Was. For you. To be safe. My body. My mind. Is tainted. But my heart. Will always. Be yours.”
Chriscus’ vision blurred again as he began to pass out, the last image he saw was a blue light emanating from Willym’s gauntlet, a healing magic over Terria’s wound. The heart of a monster triumphed over the Dark Baron’s desires.
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