The Strength Of The Meek – Part I: Wayward Heroes

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The air hung still over the brush like silence after the storm, Laylen fled through the tangled thorns, and the creature hunting her drew closer. Catching brambles brought bleeding blight from her soft features as she tore through the undergrowth and the rocks and the dirt.

He was close by, he was always close by.

Panting, she scrambled over a boulder and slid down into the thorned canopy on the other side. Her delicate hands–unworked throughout her life—were torn and bloody, but it did not matter. Her knees ached, her ankle was sprained, pain she had never known before, and still it did not matter.

Because he was close by, closer than he had ever been.

A chilling howl tore across the sky. She froze in the undergrowth, her heart hammering out of her chest and her breath heaving in protest as she tried to stifle it. She strained her ears.

The howl rung out again, in glee, and was accompanied by a scream that gurgled and faded.

Her matron was finally dead.

She felt it well up inside her, crimson light, pulsating from her soul. The blood seeping from her wounds shimmered and rose from her hands as red vapour . . .

No.

She cut her urge short, no, he would find her. She hummed to herself, an ancient chant taught to her by the Sisters of Peace. The crimson vapour condensed into liquid and coagulated to cluing to her skin, the dark marks on her face receded to reveal the visage of a young woman once more.

The howl cried out again, he was coming.

In a panic she bolted on through the undergrowth and tore into the open. The world was laid out beneath her, the bushland ended on a road that skirted a sheer cliff with a lush green glen spreading out below it. She skittered to a halt, sliding to the edge and waving her arms in a useless attempt to prolong her life. She was going over.

“Whoa there!” A yellow arm grabbed her by her torn robes, pulling her back from death to land on her arse. “Watch yourself there, Miss, could have been a nasty fall.”

Laylen glanced up at her rescuer and recoiled. She was a warrior of some kind, tall and rippling with lean muscles, bound in leather armour with a bow at her back and an axe at her side. She had yellow, softly scaled skin and long black hair tied half up in a knot with two tiny tusks protruding from her lower jaw.  Laylen then glanced at her saviours companions, a mismatched group of travellers, of species the like she had never seen before.

 “Are you with him?” she cried desperately, “Are you with him?”

“Hey now there, little girl,” the larger of the party, tall like a tree and broad with pink puffy skin, gnarled antlers and a giant club over one shoulder. His voice was deep and powerful, but kind. “Are you in any kind of trouble?”

“Ah she’s just a stray, let her run off.” The next one to speak was more recognisable to Laylen.

He was short, standing only at chest height and had a silver pointed beard. He wore robes not unlike the sisters of her convent, but wielded brass gauntlets and had a litany of potions and vials strapped to his belt.

There was a human and elf too, both male, and the only species of the party she recognised. The elf was adorned with a flowing white tabard and golden trimmed pauldrons while the human was decked out in plate armour with a mighty glaive.

“Get off it, Wuppet!”  Another short creature emerged from behind the bearded one and slapped him across the head. She was much shorter than him, with a bigger head and rust coloured hair, she smiled broadly at Laylen who shifted back in fright.

The yellow skinned warrior turned back to her. “We won’t hurt you, was that howling from a beast? We can help.”

Laylen pushed herself up from the ground and backed away from the outreached hand, shaking her head.

“Hey now, we’re friends, little one,” the big lumbering one said.

“What, what are you?” Laylen finally croaked, timid, hoarse and trembling.

“We’re on contract to rid this area of a dragon . . .” the yellow one said, “My name is Prahtan, the ogre here is Ot,” she gestured to the big one, “The grouchy dwarf is Wuppet, our helpful gnome is Gomlon, the man in plate is Myrrel and the Elf is Trestam. What is your name?”

“Ogre, Dwarf, Gnome,” the girl said under her breath, “But what are you?”

Prahtan cocked her head, “You’ve never seen an orc before?”

“Orc?” Laylen sounded the word out and shook her head, “No, but I have read stories . . . aren’t you all supposed to be berserk?”

Prahtan giggled, deep but playful, “No, sweet human. Orcs don’t go into a berserker rage unless they’ve feasted on a heart. Once you have your hand through the enemy’s rib cage . . . going berserk seems kind of pointless.” She smirked.

Laylen smirked back, the tension leaving her for a moment, but then the image of broken ribs and still beating hearts flashed through her mind and she recoiled.

“But you’ve never,” the dwarf called Wuppet hesitated, “You’ve never seen an ogre or dwarf or gnome before either?”

Laylen’s eyes were still jammed closed to shut out the images of the last few days, but she shook her head.

Wuppet and Gomlon exchanged glances.

“Where are you from?” Prahtan asked, “What’s your name?”

“Laylen,” she finally said, “And you’re all going to die.” She turned and bolted down the path.

 The six travellers watched her dart the bend around the bush in stunned silence.

“Anyone else feel ice shoot out their butthole at that one?” Wuppet asked.

“You’re such a cock, Wuppet,” Prahtan growled, “We should follow her.”

“Cause she’s a petite redhead human lass or . . .” Wuppet trailed off when Prahtan glared at him.

“What do you suppose she meant?” Ot’s lumbering voice echoed throughout their very bones, “Poor thing looked petrified.”

“Could it be the dragon?” Trestam asked.

“If it was the dragon she would be smouldering and not bloodied, something else is a foot.” Prahtan unslung and strung her bow, “Let’s be careful as we head down into the glen.”

Wuppet cracked his knuckles through his gauntlets, “And here I was thinking a dragon hunt would be boring.”

Prahtan looked down the path with worry, her eyes darted through the brush that Laylen emerged from.

“What do you reckon, Prahtan?” Ot asked.

She sniffed, crouched down to the ground and shifted the dirt between her fingers.

“She’s in her hunter mood, Ot,” Wuppet sneered, “Won’t get a word out of her.”

“Can’t you feel that?” Prahtan said harshly, “That tingling down your spine?”

“Not since I saw that hairy human woman in the last town . . .” Wuppet stopped jesting when Prahtan snarled at him. “Of course I feel it Prahtan. The world hasn’t been right since the War of the Damned. There aren’t any necromancers to do their job anymore, hauntings are running rampant. But what does that have to do with our task?”

“To be fair, it’s not like a previously benevolent dragon to swoop down on a town – a town without wealth mind you – all of a sudden.” Trestam the elf scratched his pristine rosy features. “Maybe everything is connected?”

“Now that is a bit much,” Wuppet rested his fists on his hips. “Why would hauntings prompt a dragon to attack?”

“And if they did, would that not prompt more people to learn the art of necromancy?” Gomlon questioned, nudging Wuppet playfully.

“The first people brave enough to learn necromancy are going to make deadly mistakes without a master to guide them.” The human Myrrel said. “And then the first ones to practice it openly are going to get lynched after what the old necromancers did. I do not think we can expect the hauntings to subside for quite a while.”

“What do you think, Prahtan?” Trestam glanced at her and his rosy face went taught. Prahtan was grimacing, her chest heaving as if she were in the throes of battle.

Prahtan fitted an arrow to her bow, “Ready yourselves, something wicked this way comes.”

Their demeanour shifted from playful banter to hard focus. Wuppet removed a vial from his belt and spread out from Prahtan. Ot growled and hefted his club, tapping the head against his mighty palm. Gomlon channelled crackling energy to her hands as Myrrel lowered his glaive. Trestam started chanting under his breath.

Prahtan’s gaze darted, her years of hunting acquiescing to the skill of bush sight. A twig cracked in the distance and she saw the shape of the form that cracked it in her mind. A shifting brush, she sensed its speed, its direction. A whiff of blood, stale mixed with new, and pheromones, strange as they were, making her skin crawl, she knew the creature’s intention.

“There!” she drew her bow and aimed to the left.

“Drawing a little early there, Prahtan?” Wuppet thumbed his vial open.

Her breathing rasped even as her muscles quivered under the strain of holding her bow drawn, but it did not matter, she had to be swift, this was something new.

Moments passed, and Prahtan’s aim drifted with a quivering as it tracked the target, until finally, a being emerged. He seemed a man, tall, with a charming smile.

“Hello.” He said, as normal enough as you might expect.

Ot growled and Myrrel shifted forward with his glaive.

“My my, is that how you greet strangers in these lands?”

“Ones drenched in blood, yes,” Wuppet returned.

“Ah,” The man looked down at his robes, saturated with blood, chunks of flesh and refuse, “So sorry, still getting the hang of this disguise.”

That’s when Prahtan noticed it, the real thing that disturbed her about this . . . man. His chest didn’t move as he spoke, he didn’t blink or breath or change expression, he just . . . was.

She let her arrow fly and it tore threw him, flitting into the brush behind.

“Now now, I hadn’t even threatened you yet,” he tutted.

“Is it a ghoul?” Ot lumbered forward and readied his club.

“Can’t be,” Wuppet said as Prahtan hastily re-nocked an arrow, “There’s no more necromancy.”

“No more Necromancy?” the man laughed, a chilling sound, “That’s why we’re here!” He doubled over with a grunt, his limbs convulsed, the sound of bone snapping and sinew tearing sent them cringing. The fresh droplets of blood that clung to its robes sizzled and evaporated into crimson vapour as the dried blood cooked itself.

“Wuppet,” Prahtan ordered.

The dwarf flung a vial at the stranger and it shattered at his feet, red smoke surged upward to engulf him as the sickening sound of his body breaking and re-breaking itself continued.

“Get ready, Ot,” Wuppet said as he brought up his fists into a guard, summoning spiritual fire around his gauntlets, “I don’t think it brought him down.”

Ot growled and surged forward, but hesitated as a figure strode from the smoke cloud.

It was obsidian black, tall and muscular with red, monstrous eyes and a gaping, shifting red jaw of terror. Its face morphed with obscene horror, the crimson gaze inviting madness. Spines sprouted from its shoulders and down its back like a great trail of razor sharp crags.

“Gomlon,” Prahtan barked as she fidgeted with her arrow, her eyes wide, “When you’re ready.”

The gnome channelled the sparkling power in her hands and drew a rune in the air. It tore across the space between them and the creature and struck it with a flash of light.

“Ah,” It growled, its voice inviting terror to the soul, warping the very air, a sinister, howling echo. Unperturbed from the attack, its shifting, insidious eyes homed in on the gnome. “A morsel to sustain me on my hunt.” He reached out with his jagged claws and crimson light shot from him. Gomlon paled and screeched in terror as she was dragged into the thing’s grip in an instant, “Such a small amount of food.” Its maddening jaw widened and tendrils of magic were torn from the writhing gnome as she screamed. Her body desiccated as the life was siphoned from her and consumed by the creature as shoots of red veins across its obsidian body.

“Gomlon!” Myrrel screamed.

Trestam stepped forward and channelled the holy sunlight she had conjured into a lance which struck the creature’s face. Wuppet leaped forward and struck him with a punch of spiritual fire. The thing flinched from both attacks, but then its hungry, maddening gaze fell on them with glee.

“It’s really, cute, that you lot tried to stop me. Even if the magic of the elf and the dwarf isn’t something I can eat, yet.” The party blanched as it spoke and discarded their dead companion whose face was locked in terror. “Now which way did that little bitch run?”

There was a flash of red blinding light and the creature screamed, flung away in a blast.

The five surviving heroes turned down the road, homing in on the source of the power. Laylen stood at the bend, her arm extended and a dying red shimmering emanating from her.

“What magic was that?” Wuppet asked.

“Come on!” Laylen screamed, “More will be coming!”

“Lads, follow the girl,” Prahtan ordered, and they bolted down the path to Laylen.

“Thanks for coming back for us!” Ot cried as they dashed around the bend and down the cliff path.

Laylen was bounding as fast as her legs could carry her, but only managed to run a little faster than Wuppet who powered along with his short stocky legs. Myrrel and Trestam slowed to trail alongside him and Prahtan brought up the rear with long strides, darting looks over her shoulder as the party surged on. Ot was at the front, each hulking step rattled the ground.

“What the hell was that thing?” Prahtan shouted, “How could you stop it?”

“There’s no time for that, more like him will be coming!”

“Why?”

Laylen turned with a pained expression, which morphed into horror and she screamed. Prahtan looked back over her shoulder, the creature had stalked around the bend, howling and laughing from its red maw. But that was not what Laylen was screaming at.

Prahtan felt it before she heard it, a slight change in air pressure and then a beat from a giant bat-like wing.

“Down!” She tackled Laylen to the ground as Trestam, Myrrel and Wuppet dove for cover.

Poor Ot turned at the call and the flying creature collided with his face. It was obsidian black like their initial attacker, with red eyes and a long beak which spat hell-fire. Ot cried out in pain and tore it from his face, he wound up his club and walloped it, his antlers were singed, but he was otherwise unharmed.

“What the fuck are these things?” Wuppet roared.

Sickly barbs shot out around them, attached to chains which rang out against each other as they were drawn back, raking at the earth, catching Wuppet, and Laylen. Prahtan rolled aside and rose onto her knee. She drew another arrow and tracked the chains. The creature had extended an arm and several black chains shot from his hand. He was pulling the chains back now, along with his catch.

Prahtan drew and shot, the arrow smacked into its red eye with a thud. Its head snapped back, but it continued drawing the screaming Wuppet and Laylen.

“Shit, Ot!” Prahtan turned to find Ot was swiping at more winged creatures that swarmed down onto him.  Myrrel was stabbing up in the air with his glaive as Trestam shot out lances of holy light.

The winged creatures were all different shapes. Some looked like wicked little men with claws and teeth, others like vultures, some like serpents. There were dozens of them, croaking in laughter at Ot’s discomfort.

Prahtan gritted her teeth against her tusks. “Ot! Chains!” She drew and shot a flurry of arrows at the harassing creatures, each one finding its mark and thankfully, doing damage. The arrows embedded in them and they cried in shocked pain, swooping away or falling to the ground dead.

Ot took a moment to recover and grabbed the chains in a handful. His deep voice growled as he pulled, halting their inevitable reel back to their master. Wuppet was busy prying the barbs out of his robes but Laylen was catatonic.

“He’ll get me, he’ll kill us all!” She kept repeating to herself. “I should have left you.”

Prahtan slung her bow and pulled out her axe, “You should have, but you didn’t. So I’m going to get you out of here.” She reached for the barbs to find some had sunk into the girl’s skin. “Shit, Wuppet?”

“I’m out!”

“Cover!”

Wuppet pulled another vial from his belt and threw it at the ground between them and the creature, then another on the path behind them, and a third in the brush. The thick red smoke engulfed the area around them. The flying critters did not swoop in. The creatrure did not launch more chians.

“Hold him, Ot!” Prahtan hewed at the chain ensnaring Laylen with her axe. A red spark caused her to recoil and the chain lengthened at the point of contact, coiling around itself. “No!” she screamed as she hacked again, “You will obey the laws of reason! You must!” She struck again, and again, and as the link weakened it grew and coiled around Laylen’s limb like a strangling snake. “Come on!”

Trestam channelled a lance of light in tandem with Prahtan’s next strike. The link came free with a demonic howling. It recoiled as if in pain and retreated back into the smoke. The lengthening end with the barb in Laylen was inert, for now.

“Finally!”

Prahtan looked around, there was nothing but the cliff face behind them, the creatures on either side and above . . . and the chain.

The things were swooping in again, harassing the party.

“Ot!” She threw the end of the barbed chain to the ogre, “We need your strength.”

Ot growled in acknowledgement and wrapped it around his arm.

“Are you seriously suggesting we flee?” Myrrel roared, brandishing his glaive at the cloud.

“Are you seriously suggesting we flee, that way?” Wuppet blanched.

The dark shape of the creature emerged from the smoke.

“Quit your bitching and grab onto Ot, now!” Prahtan barked, Wuppet, Trestam and Myrrel obeyed, latching onto the ogre.

Prahtan steeled herself, ripped the barb from Laylen’s skin, and jammed it into the ground which cracked and groaned as the barb wormed its way in with dark power. Laylen was oblivious to the pain, shrieking and recoiling at the encroaching figure.

Prahtan wrapped her arms around the petrified human and held her close to her bosom, “You saved us, now let us save you.”

Ot grabbed Prahtan and pulled her close too. “HOLD ON!” He bellowed and launched from the cliff.

The party left their guts and their groins up upon the cliff, the rest of them plummeted down in the rushing torrent of air. Wuppet was screaming, so was Laylen. Prahtan bit down on her fear and Ot growled, feeling the chain about to go taught.

With a crack they came to a jarring halt. They all grunted in shock, nearly losing their grip on Ot who bellowed in agony. Prahtan looked around anxiously, they were only half way down the cliff. She glanced up, ignoring the limp way Ot’s extended shoulder stretched, the way the chain wrapped tightly around his arm turning pink flesh purple, and she gazed up the cliff to find that the creature gazed back down at them.

It grabbed the chain in one arm and pulled, raising the party as if they weighed nothing.

“Forgive me, Ot!” Prahtan wriggled one arm free from his grip and struck at the chain links with her axe.

It writhed and grew as it did before. Each strike jolted the party with minor drops and they cried out in small frights while Ot screamed constantly. All their weight was now hanging by the flesh between his arm and shoulder.

They collapsed onto a tent at the base of the cliff, another party of people watched on from a distance, the commotion from above giving them time to retreat to a safe viewpoint.

Prahtan was up first, she grabbed Trestam from his tangle with Wuppet and roared, “Strike the chain with your light, now!”

Trestam grimaced and channelled holy light to his palm with a chant and grabbed the chain around Ot’s arm. It sizzled and writhed and retreated from the arm just before being yanked up by the being above.

“What the hell is going on?” Wuppet upped and stormed from the tangle of bodies.

Prahtan handed Laylen off to Myrrel—who guided her away—as she and Trestam hefted Ot up to inspect his shoulder.

“What indeed?” The leader of the camp they had fallen into stepped forward, an elderly orc with greening skin, a great white beard, and worn tusks.

He had a hobbled gait and carried a gnarled staff. With him was a young, hooded satyr, a powerful looking centaur clad in plate, and a goblin.

“Pardon the intrusion, Orc elder,” Myrrel dropped Laylen and bowed, “We were beset by . . .” he choked, his eyes darted around as the full weight of their encounter set in, “Something . . . it killed Gomlon.”

“Yeah,” Wuppet shouted, “Something,” he turned on Laylen who huddled herself against a rock. “What the hell did you get us into?”

“Wuppet,” Prahtan warned, “Ease off.”

“Is,” Laylen was rocking back and forth. “Is he okay?” She glanced at Ot’s arm and hurriedly looked away.

“His arm is dislocated,” The orc wizard hummed, “That was quite a feat, mighty Ogre.”

Ot mumbled incoherently.

“Hush Ot, hush,” Prahtan caressed his face, “You did so well.”

“Is he okay?” Laylen repeated.

Trestam was murmuring more chants and instilling light into the shoulder joint.

“Bah,” Wuppet stalked from Laylen and pulled a salve from his belt, assisting with the healing in his own stubborn way.

 “Sometimes it’s hard being so strong. People expect much from you and often give very little in return.” Prahtan was still caressing Ot’s face, smiling into his pain veiled eyes.

“You speak as if from experience?” Laylen said, “You have suffered?”

Prahtan gazed around the wrecked campsite. Myrrel was explaining the recent events to the people they disturbed with wild gestures and Trestam and Wuppet were busy tending to Ot’s shoulder. “These days, who hasn’t?”

“Then why do you endure?”

“Because even these days, there is always enough hope.” Prahtan hefted Laylen up. “I think you owe us some answers.”

“Starting with what the hell that thing was!” Wuppet barked.

Laylen jolted at his outburst. “He is an Arch Demon.”

“And Arch demon?” The orc wizard raised an eyebrow. He looked to his companions who shrugged. “I don’t think such things exist, my dear, not in this world.”

“Sure as shit explains what we just witnessed!” Myrrel cried, his every gesticulation scraped his armour plating.

“He is a demon! He slaughtered my convent and has tracked me my whole life.” Laylen sobbed.

“Why you?” Prahtan asked, “Is it to do with the magic you can wield?” Laylen looked away; Prahtan narrowed her eyes, “Why did we watch our friend get drained of life?”

“He and his ilk feed on magic, they crave it! They have been forcing their way into our world through the underworld in the weak spots of this plain. They seek sources of magic, and once they feed on them the veil will weaken more, and more demons will pour through to feed on even more . . .” Laylen rambled.

“And why is this one hunting you?” Trestam asked.

Laylen looked away again.

“I may not have witnessed what you poor people have witnessed, but what the girl says makes some sense,” The orc wizard hobbled over and inspected the girl. “Without necromancers to keep hauntings in check, some places are more ajar to the underworld, where souls bereft of the great light dwell. But demons . . . they are not something native to that place. The underworld is just an abyssal plain, an absence of peace and the sun. If demons exist, they are from somewhere else.”

“They invaded the underworld centuries ago, they could easily breach the veil there, now they seek to surge up wards . . . wait . . . the necromancers are gone?” Laylen said.

The party halted and looked to her.

“You have been living under a rock haven’t you, honey?” Wuppet jeered.

“The last necromancers died two months ago at The Dwarf Islands,” Prahtan explained. “It was a battle like no other, or so they say.”

“And now with the failure of the necromancers to uphold their duty, the demons find our plain of existence unguarded?” Trestam wondered, “Will they possess us?”

Laylen laughed, “Possess you? No, the Arch Demon you faced is too powerful for your body to withstand. He has no need for your flesh. The lesser demons up there are too weak to dislodge your souls. No, they will not possess creatures such as us, only feed on your magic if you’re lucky enough to possess it, or kill you horribly if you’re unlucky enough to survive that long.”

“Useless,” Myrrel barked, “This is all useless, we have to avenge Gomlon. I’ll kill it, I can kill anything!”

“You are not yourself, friend,” The centaur clopped forward and placed his hands on Myrrel’s shoulders. “From one war master to another, control your breathing. Conquer your own animal to conquer the world.”

“Get off me!” Myrrel knocked the arms from him and stalked back to the cliff, looking up, “I’ll get up there and I’ll kill that fucker!”

“No power you possess can kill him,” Laylen whimpered.

Myrrel turned from the cliff and chastised her, “What do you know? You’ve lived your life hidden away from the horrors of the world!”

“Easy,” Prahtan said, “I sense there is more to this girl than we think.”

“Oh because she speaks to something in your heart?” Myrrel taunted, “Or stirs something a bit lower maybe?”

“Myrrel!” Trestam barked.

“Shut it, you all wanted to run when he was there waiting to be killed, I can kill him, I will kill him, all I need is a name, tell me girl, what is this ‘Arch Demon’s’ name?”

A rush of air, a dark figure dropped from the cliff and landed behind Myrrel with a shattering of ground. The creature—the Arch Demon—landed on one knee and rose to tower over the snivelling human war master. Myrrel turned, his wide eyes clear through his visor.

“My name is . . .” he struck Myrrel’s gut with his fist, it embedded through plate and intestine and wrapped around his spine, “. . . Carcenon!” He ripped and tore. Myrrel screamed as his spine was ripped from his body, his head dangled from the vertebrae and lolled around as his limp body fell back, empty of nerve and substance.

“Shit!” Prahtan grabbed Laylen and threw her back from the cliff wall towards the thicket of trees.

The centaur cried out in shock but surged forward with spear and shield. His shaft splintered on Carcenon’s obsidian flesh. With a deadly leer, Carcenon dropped poor Myrrel’s spine and turned on the centaur who reared up and struck with his forelegs. Carcenon grabbed each leg with ease, halting the centaur‘s attack. With a sinister laugh, Carcenon ripped with the forelegs and tore the centaur in half.

Gore and viscera jettisoned from the awful sight.

The orc wizard swirled magic with his staff and fired lightning on the demon which crackled about his skin and caused the red veins to glow.

“Ah, more magic to feed upon!” Carcenon surged forward through the gore with thundering steps, took the staff from the orc and shattered it. “I am still so, hungry.” It happened again, the red light and the sizzling of blood into vapour. It flickered like crimson ephemeral fire, hell-fire. The orc screamed as his skin turned hollow and wisps of magic was siphoned from him into the demon’s body.

“Graw!” The goblin leaped over the desiccated carcass with his blade, it plunged into Carcenon’s hideous red maw and sunk deep into his throat.

With a laugh, Carcenon bit down on the goblin’s blade, tore the goblin’s arm from his socket and encircled his arms around the writhing amputee. “Embrace me, worm!” Carcenon squeezed and the goblin wheezed in pain as the life was crushed from him.

Prahtan and Wuppet ushered Ot after Laylen and begged the satyr to follow them as Trestam conjured light to his hands at the rear.

Carcenon squeezed harder, and with a crack and a squelch the goblin’s innards shifted up and down, spurting from his lower half and oozing out of the orifices of his face.

With a satisfied sigh Carcenon looked to the satyr who watched on with quivering legs. “You, I will take my time with,” the demon stepped forward.

There was a flash and Trestam’s holy light shot forth, striking Carcenon in the chest and knocking him back. “Move satyr!” He grabbed the satyr’s arm and sped away into the forest after their companions.

Carcenon found himself on his back with his chest sizzling, the crimson light within spilling out as the obsidian skin healed over. He gazed at the sky where his minions circled down from the cliff above.

He stood as a little demon man with hobbled wings alighted by his feet, “They got away, sire. Master will not be pleased if he found out what you were planning here.”

 Carcenon growled and stomped the little demon to death, the others screeched and flocked away.

“My master need not find out about these plans until it is necessary. She is trapped here in the glen now. I shall hunt her and her new companions, make them suffer as I made her sisters suffer. And then, only once her soul is broken and her heart despairs, I will feed on her great magic! The hunt begins anew!”

Part 2

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