The Silver Tower Chronicles Adventures in other worlds, other times, and other realities

27Mar/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0039

The Master of Assassins was happy to see Jasper Tims return, “Ah, then your mission is complete.”

Jasper nodded, “Things went quite well. No one saw me, but the effects of my aid was noticed by our client. He is a rather sharp one.”

The other man returned the nod, “From what I have learned of this Enzi, I am not surprised. Have you seen the Quiet Knife?”

“I saw her slip into the laboratory unnoticed. I would have thought she would have completed the job and been back by now.”

“As would I.”

“Should I return and make sure that job is complete?” Jasper asked.

“No need,” the master replied, “In the morning our spy for the Rinn Institute will return to work. She will learn what happened this night and report back to us. We can make a plan then based on the new information.”

“Then I shall retire for the night. I have a rather important part to play in the next production and I could use the rest.”

The Master of Assassins smiled, “As always, you do good work.”

“I hope someday for a challenge. Something amazing. Until then, I think I will stick to acting.”

***

Enzi spent most of his time avoiding magical blasts from the deep well of power that Zindaro seemed to have. Then he saw movement. The tawny hides that swept across the ground, slunk low and fast towards the carnage. Enzi knew what it was only a moment before the first leapt on one of the bodies on the ground. Powerful jaws delved into the body's cavity with a terrible crunch. The Feergrus man leapt back as one barreled towards him.

“Blood cats!” Enzi yelled in Nuvro, “Gather together and defend!”

A pair of Zindaro's men were swept off their feet by the pack of ravening beasts. Zindaro himself saw the battle was not going to be won with such distractions. The Ravaleian wizard stomped on the ground as he wove an enormously powerful spell. This one was enough to drain some of the wizard's reserves. A huge stone wall erupted out of the ground. It cut off many routes that people could take and gave Zindaro a clear path for himself. No one could get to him and he could walk away unscathed.

“This is not over,” Zindaro yelled, “Fate is on your side this day, but I will have my prize one day.”

Enzi's form shifted back to human. He could not hold the hybrid form any longer. The Feergrus man was exhausted from the fight and the strain of the magical form he had taken. The Blood Cats had entered into a feeding frenzy. Enzi motioned the Irregulars back towards the doors. The feline monstrosities mostly ignored them as they were too busy devouring the dead.

“We need to make sure they don't get inside the door,” Enzi said.

Mayitso growled and put himself between the rest of the group and the large cats. As some of them finished their meals and started looking for more, a pair looked towards Enzi's Irregulars. The two trotted towards the group, their eyes barely comprehending anything as their noses smelled flesh. Mayitso drew in a great breath and let out a bone-chilling howl. That seemed to awaken the two nearing Blood Cats. Mayitso growled at them and raised his hackles. The two beasts turned and fled in the other direction, looking for other prey.

“Good job,” Enzi said, “Now I just need some rest.”

He sat down by the door. The lycanthrope trotted over by the door, then stopped in his tracks. His ears perked up. He tilted his head as if straining to hear. His attention was focused on the door, then he whimpered. Enzi noticed it too. No sound was coming from the laboratory. It was too quiet.

“Ritter, Aldebaran, Kava,” Enzi said, “Go check out what is going on inside. The rest of us will make sure the Blood Cats don't get inside.”

The Halz, Minotaur, and Vodyanoi slipped inside the building to investigate the odd silence. The dead silence of the hallway did nothing to reassure the mercenaries. Entering the laboratories was like entering a nightmare. The torches that normally lit the area were dark. Only the flickering light from the torch in the hallway lit the room. This mattered less to Aldebaran and Ritter who could see even in the deepest darkness. However, even Kava could tell things were terribly wrong.

The light showed the walls smeared with a viscous red liquid. It could be only one thing. It was blood. Pieces of flesh could be seen as well. Something had gone horribly awry. The three saw something move in the shadows. It was hard to process the image. It was terrifying and monstrous, even to the eyes of monsters. A gigantic collection of bones stood up and turned to look at the three mercenaries. The bones were splattered with the blood of its victims. There was obvious damage where it had been stuck with acid, but the bone golem was still in good shape.

The skull that served as its head opened its jaw as if to scream but no noise came out. To Ritter's eyes, it appeared to be in pain. Perhaps he was merely anthropomorphizing it. Perhaps it was rage. There were no expressions on bone. Only the dim violet glow that shone from the empty eye sockets gave it any kind of appearance beyond a regular skull. Ritter saw little chance of Rukiya having survived this from the mess he saw, but he knew the three had to search for her. The golem then charged at the three, seeking combat. The Halz knew they had to beat it, but they were in a poor position to do so.

“Move!” he yelled as he dove in the room.

The massive golem stepped over the dwarf as it charged. Kava rolled out of the way. The collection of bones crashed into the door frame and ripped through it like paper. Aldebaran was on the other side, his blade ready. He swung with all his might as the Bone Golem charged. The blade struck hard and the minotaur felt the impact reverberate through the weapon. There was a snapping sound and a small chunk of bone flew from the mighty construct.

However, this did nothing to stop its rampage. It swung out its arm and grabbed Aldebaran by his left horn. The golem then wrenched the minotaur off his feet and swung him through the air with ease. The golem charged back into the laboratory chasing after Ritter and Kava while smashing the minotaur into the wall. There was a sick ripping noise as the golem entered the room and Aldebaran did not pass through the solid wall. The golem flung something hard and bloody at Ritter but the Halz deflected it with his shield. As it skittered across the floor, the dwarf saw that it was a bloodied bovine horn.

He had no time to worry about that. The Bone Golem was on a rampage. Kava rolled to its side and hacked at it with her hatchets. They barely scratched the powerful construct. It swung one of its mighty arms towards the Halz. Ritter deflected it with his shield, but felt the shock of the blow through his arm. He didn't think he could pull that off too many times. He slammed his warhammer against his foe and heard the suddenly satisfying sound of cracking bones.

His weapon was specifically designed to smash through armor. While Aldebaran cleaved through tough foes with the sheer brute force he wielded with his two handed blade, the warhammer was designed to allow a similar level of force with a one handed weapon. Certainly the minotaur could do a lot more damage with his weapon by rending a foe in half or ripping off limbs, but the bludgeon had its own distinct advantages. With Aldebaran on the floor bleeding, it was up to Ritter to defeat this foe. Kava could not easily penetrate her foe's armor. Her style was suited more for lightly armored or unarmored foes.

An arm slammed down towards Ritter and the Halz danced to the side. It crashed into the floor and shattered the stone. The construct was tremendously strong. Yet the dwarf realized this fight was familiar to him. This was like fighting a giant. It was larger and stronger, but slower. It had little intellect and seemed to be nothing more than unleashed rage. Ritter could work with that. Now more confident the Halz brought his warhammer down once, twice, three times.

The Bone Golem was looking in fairly poor shape after that. Yet it did not stop. It did not feel pain. It did not tire. Kava did her best to distract the thing while Ritter moved in for the kill. The Halz climbed on the one last table that remained standing within the wreckage that the golem had wrought. He leapt with a mad yell and brought down his warhammer with all the force he could muster. The skull of the mighty golem shattered and the dim glow of its life seeped away.

The bones collapsed in a heap. The golem would threaten no one again. Instantly the vodyanoi rushed to the side of the fallen minotaur. It was rare of her to show that she cared, but Ritter had learned that the two had a bond as warriors, friends, and the last of their respective races. There was perhaps more there, but Kava certainly would never admit to that. Ritter panted as he made his way towards the pair. His shield arm was going to be sore from the blow earlier. Yet that was no comparison to the damage done to the minotaur.

Aldebaran's head was a bloody mess. His left horn had been torn from his head, but the Halz had no idea what he was looking at. He stumbled past, muttering that he would get help. Kava merely nodded, cradling the head of the massive minotaur in her arms. Soon Eurysa and Enzi were at the side of the fallen warrior. The gorgon looked him over and patted the vodyanoi on the head.

“He will live,” Eurysa hissed, “Though that has got to hurt. It is like exposing a raw nerve at this point. We need to get him to a medical professional. Although someone that knows animals might be better.”

***

The flurry of activity around the Rinn Institute was unusual. The man aiding Enzi's Irregulars often took care of the surgical needs for many of the scientists. He was familiar with medical procedures as well as animal dissection. He had looked over Aldebaran's wound. The minotaur was awake and is some pain. Being slammed into the wall had hurt him worse than having his horn ripped off, but the horn pain was a constant annoyance.

“Well, I only see one solution,” the medical professional said in Rava, “We have to cut out the damage here. Otherwise what little is left of this will try to regrow a horn. What happens won't be pretty and is likely to curve back on you. We call this partial horn a scur. It will be an annoyance at best and a danger to you at worst.”

After that was translated to Aldebaran, he grunted, “Then do what has to be done.”

“I imagine this will be painful, but I will do things as quickly as I can,” the Ravaleian replied as he began preparing his utensils, including a red hot knife.

Aldebaran nodded as he learned of the upcoming pain. He sat at a table and gripped it, ready for what was to come. The hot knife moved in, ready to slice nerves off and destroy the matrix that built up the horn. There was a loud sizzling as the hot knife met flesh. The roar of pain from the minotaur chilled the bones of the many gathered there to assess the damage. It was done. Aldebaran would now have only one horn.

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