May 6th, 2015
Vincent VonRain crept down the hallway, tracing the masonry with his hand.
"Only two more," he murmured to the communicator.
The corner ahead lit up and Vincent straightened. A woman in glowing white robes came around, her hair flowing in a non-existent wind. They acknowledged each other with polite nods and the angel wafted by. Darkness closed in behind her like a sunset.
"Did you check the runes again?"
"Everything is ready on our end," Tesserack replied impatiently, "endless re-checks will do nothing to calm your nerves."
"I knew I could count on you."
He rounded another couple hallways and came to a steel vault. "Here we are..." The door had a wheel like an old sailing ship with buckled steel hinges stretching across from wall to stony wall. Vincent ran his fingers over the mechanism, his metaphysical senses embracing it like an octopus.
The remaining five sorcerers sat, leaned, or reclined around a ring of runes painted on the floor of a small room. Bjorgvim was on a wooden crate playing with a hand axe, deftly flicking it around his wrists. Tesserack and Mordryl were mirror images, their arms folded, eyes open but lost in thought. Jamie paced impatiently. The communicator whispered from its place on a spartan wooden table. The walls, floor, and ceiling were all dark dank stone.
A ball of pale light hovered in the corner, gently pulsing in slow rhythm. Madeline couldn't help casting nervous glances over her shoulder at it. She couldn't sit still either.
"Almost there, almost there, almost there," Jamie sputtered.
"Aw shut it honey," Bjorgvim accosted absently.
"This could be it!" she blurted. "He's finally at the door! How can you all be so calm?"
Because all we've done is sit here for the past two hours! Madeline wanted to snap.
"It alzo could nothing," Mordryl said, moving nothing but her lips.
"You guys are so cold!" Jamie scoffed ineffectually.
Vincent placed a device on the end of each hinge, four in total, and held the central hub in his hand. He examined the readout and tapped the controls. "The nodes are in place," he muttered. Jamie clutched her hands together, her eyes quivering. "Everyone get ready."
The room collectively awakened and the mages gathered around the rune-ring. Madeline took another look at the ball, noting its pulses had quickened significantly.
"And what might you be up to?"
Vincent looked up from the hand-held monitor to address the woman of white light. He smiled behind the mask. "Just you wait," he said pleasantly. The woman joined him, turning expectantly to the vault.
Vincent input the final commands.
The door clunked loudly, then hissed.
The runes on the floor glowed. The circle in the center darkened and a rushing wind pushed into the small room. The circle became the night sky, deep blue with pin points of light.
The white woman spoke to the trench-coated interloper. "Is that all?"
Vincent studied the readout.
"What's happening?" Jamie demanded.
The door growled, a deep groaning sound, like a locomotive stirring in sleep. "I think..." he started to say. The groan grew, became a screech, and finally the primal roar of some great beast. "...oh shit..."
A crimson red monster burst from the little porthole of night sky, shaking the room. It had rippling human muscles, four arms with hands and feline claws, two heads with curled ram horns, blazing yellow eyes, and a stench of sulfur.
The sorcerers dove for cover or fell over themselves in panic. The demon went straight for the ball of light. It took one savage double-handed swing and sent it caroming off the walls.
"Is there a problem?" the angel asked Vincent innocently.
His heart had clenched so tight he couldn't breathe, let alone speak. Then the pain hit, as if his vital organs were all pressed together, squeezed by a great vice. He felt the vomit reflex constricting his throat.
His knees buckled, he dropped the device and stared helplessly.
The demon wound up for another blow. The stink was overpowering, Madeline could feel waves of heat coming off it. She struggled with the spells in her head, her hand flopped like a garden hose. The monster struck the ball again, it ricocheted two or three times and floated to a halt next to Madeline.
Vincent wobbled drunkenly and shouted into the communicator. "Get...it out!"
Madeline grabbed the ball. It was warm and relaxing, and filled her with a feeling of...
The demon bore down on her, claws and jaws all pearly white against the deep red skin. Bjorgvim's axe smashed into it from the side. Madeline felt hands pulling her away.
Jamie, Mordryl, and Madeline rushed into the hallway with Tesserack at the door. Bjorgvim traded blows for a few seconds, shaking the whole building with the titanic force, but then he also retreated.
Tesserack cast a Mutatio spell and the room imploded, churning in on itself, distorting nauseatingly. He slammed the door and they ran.
Vincent choked down his innards.
"Are you all right?" the lady inquired politely.
"Yes..." he swallowed, "...just...not my day."
She nodded sympathetically.
"If you'll excuse me, I have something to attend to. Though its been a pleasure." He extended his hand and she shook it daintily.
"Indeed it has." She smiled.
Vincent staggered away. "You guys all right!?"
Tesserack yelled back. "I Quantum'd the room, we're running down the hallway - "
" - all of you!?"
"Yes, with the heart."
"Good. Send one person - send Mordryl away with the heart! Bjorgvim you make a stand in the hallway, the rest of you back him up!"
"What?" the big man took the comm.
"This could be a DFA maneuver."
What's that? Madeline didn't like the way his tone had dropped.
"I know," Bjorgvim answered tightly.
"You buy every second you can."
The hall branched out into a cross. The mages stopped and turned. Bjorgvim brandished his axe and Madeline felt layers of Mutatio weave over him.
A second later the door shattered and the behemoth burst out. It started down the hall towards them like a twisted demonic leopard, the heads low, the claws drawn.
Vincent sprinted through the stone hallways, past more glowing people, oblivious to everything but the map in his head, dreading the tense silence from his communicator.
Bjorgvim roared, split himself into four, and swung the axes in a murderous concert. The four arms clawed back, ripping and tearing at the steel and leather. The beast was terrifyingly fast, despite being surrounded, having a Norseman with an axe assailing it from all four directions. It kept them all on the defensive, snatching and swiping with the doubled limbs.
Tesserack healed and fortified, buttressing his companion. Madeline tossed bolts of force and gouts of flame. The demon was so strong, so fast, nothing made a scratch or even fazed its attention. It was like fighting a bear with a water gun.
Then the Spacewarp fell. The Bjorgvims coalesced into one, and for the first time Madeline saw fear in his eyes.
The twin maws grinned. The arms attacked and the axe parried. Madeline threw every ounce of force she had, attempting just to push the monster a little, to buy one second for her comrade.
Two monstrous arms grasped the shaft of the weapon and pulled upwards. Bjorgvim let go with one and drew a hand axe with the other. Just as it made contact with a wrist a third claw found his face. The helmet and a furry swath of beard flew with a spray of blood. Bjorgvim ducked backwards and drew the second axe.
The beast lunged in for an overhead strike with its top two claws. Bjorgvim crossed the blades over his head to block. The two other hands came in low and the claws sunk deep into his chest.
Bjorgvim bellowed as his entrails spilled across the floor by the grisly handful.
Madeline shrunk, becoming a little ball of desperate terror on the floor. Tesserack stood motionless, a statue looking on aghast.
The fiery yellow eyes looked up from their splattered pray. The red-black blood was invisible against the skin, but shown sickly maroon on the bony white weapons.
Another door along the wall opened. Madeline didn't even notice until he walked past her, the black blades in his hands.
The beast smiled, tapping the claws against the floor, taunting.
Happy birthday sis!
Copyright 2015, Foster Haskell