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

8May/13Off

Enzi’s Irregulars #0045

Everyone expected an attack at night. When morning broke without a trace of violence, the attack force felt quite relieved. At least for the moment the goblinoids would not have a major advantage. The rangers and Mayitso spread out from the core group, scouting for the enemy. The core group continued southwards into the marsh. The scouts returned, one ranger sooner than the others. He had spotted something moving in the swamp.

Mayitso dashed that direction to try to confirm while the rest of the group headed that direction at a more normal pace. The lycanthrope soon returned to the group and growled at the direction he had come from, leading the way. Surprisingly it led closer to the mountains where the rocky ground was more firm. Enzi was not sure what this might portend. Their small military force trudged slowly out of the soft marshy ground and soon found signs of a large group that had moved past. They were not too far ahead. Beren looked around and his eyes narrowed.

“There is definitely a mage in the group. Whoever the mage is wove a spell recently. We should hurry,” the magehunter said.

Beren rushed ahead with Mayitso quickly catching up. The rest moved quickly but the two leaders knew exactly where the foe was. Their senses far exceeded the others in the group, each in their own unique way. Beren and Mayitso emerged into lighter woods as they chased their foe and they could see what they were up against, but their foes also saw them. The magehunter counted nearly forty goblinoids, as well as a Tarvoni and a few wargs.

The enemy looked shocked, but none more so than the Tarvoni at the rear of the group. He quickly began to weave a spell. The goblinoids turned to engage the two foes. Mayitso thought that the Mage hunter would slow down and wait for the others, but Beren seemed to have no intention of slowing his pace. His eyes were set on the caster. The three wargs headed for Mayitso. They knew what he was more than the goblinoids did though wargs were not intelligent enough to communicate or realize how outmatched they were.

Wargs were a terrible creature. Their muscular forms and flat hairless faces made them almost look like humanoids running on all fours. Their faces resembled a goblinoid in many ways, as they did not have any nose. However the major difference was the mouth. Wargs had a massive maw full of deadly sharp teeth. The flat face meant that their mouths looked unnaturally wide. In that regard they slightly resembled Kava. The frog-like mouth of the vodyanoi was perhaps the closest relative to the warg's terrifying max. The vodyanoi did not have the same powerful jaw muscles or terrible teeth however. A warg's bite was no joke.

Beren noticed the wargs headed towards the lycanthrope and almost felt pity for the beasts as they did not realize what they were getting into. The Agonish people had a different name for the wargs. They called them barghests. Ancient myths said that they were able to take humanoid form. This had long since been disproven and Beren imagined someone had mixed up tales of the lycanthrope with the barghests. It was not the first time that two different creatures had been thought of as the same. Usually it was more likely that one creature had multiple different stories and names based on what witnesses had seen or exaggerated.

They were far larger than Mayitso and more muscular. Their torso reminded Beren of a large and powerful wolf, but all their power came to naught against the lycanthrope. Their jaws were powerful enough that if they found a good hold they might actually break the skin of the lycanthrope. None of the wargs were that lucky. Mayitso tore them limb from limb in a terrifying display. Beren had other things to worry about however. A crude javelin flew from one of the goblinoids.

The magehunter's buckler deflected the clumsy missile as Beren slashed at the first goblinoid in his path. His blade cut expertly and the creature fell as Beren spun past him. It was almost like watching an expertly choreographed dance as Beren avoided blows and enemies around him fell. Despite his skill, even he could be easily overwhelmed. He had only one goal in front of him. He had to stop the mage. The Tarvoni finished off a spell to summon something to fight for him.

It was no normal creature that rose from nothingness. A palpable sense of dread came over all the goblinoids. Mayitso felt the evil as well as the fur on his hackles raised. The monstrosity that stepped forth was a ten foot tall terror that reeked of ash with an acrid burn to it. It was a fiend from beyond the world, one of the demons that the Abyss Cult often dealt with. Beren remembered the immense creature from Casea. This foe was similar but was far weaker and smaller.

Mayitso leapt at the thing and bit at the monstrosity. His teeth did not even scratch the demon's hide. It laughed at the lycanthrope hanging on its arm and slashed with the claws on its other hand. Mayitso yelped as the claws sliced through his hide and drew blood. It was not a major wound but it was enough to make Mayitso take notice. Beren looked to the lycanthrope and sighed.

“Hold it off a moment, I'll stop the mage from summoning more,” the magehunter stated as he charged towards the mage.

The demon moved to intercept Beren but Mayitso leapt at it as the goblins slowly began to realize the demon was on their side. As one moved in to aid the fight an arrow pierced his throat. The rest of the human forces had arrived and a grand battle began. Beren saw the electric blue aura of magic around his foe as the Tarvoni rushed to weave another spell. The magehunter saw to look of fear in the porcelain skinned man's eyes. Then the pale skin and blue aura were little more than red as blood flowed. The Agonish man's sword had cleaved well.

Arrows flew and blades slashed. Kava found some amusement at fighting the goblins. It was unusual to fight a foe as small as she was. Of course, she though the larger goblinoids might have made a more satisfying thump sound when they hit the ground thanks to their extra mass. Aldebaran did not think of such things. He concentrated solely on the combat at hand. His mighty two handed sword cut swaths through the goblinoid forces. Syrian and the Rangers cut through several goblins as Enzi and Eurysa provided support.

Mayitso kept the demon well engaged. The demon had trouble seriously wounding the lycanthrope but it was obvious that Mayitso was losing. Several of the human forces took pot shots at the demon when they could, but it was far too tough for such unfocused strikes. Suddenly the demon roared as Beren slashed at it from behind. Even his fine Casean blade could not harm the creature. It would require magic the group did not have to kill such a beast.

However, Beren easily kept the demon busy while the rest of the group mopped up the goblinoids. After that the demon saw it was outnumbered and fled. It no longer had a master to command it. The group began to gave chase but Beren waved them off. The group looked at him oddly. Such a terrible creature certainly could not be allowed to roam freely.

“To conjure such a powerful creature takes a lot of power. The magic that allowed it entry will not last long. It can not do any harm with the little time it has left,” Beren said, “Never have I fought such a foe. Fighting it any longer would only give it a chance to harm us. We are lucky it chose to flee. I doubt it realizes how little time it has left here. It seems we have to find a way to beat demons as well if we are going to win this war.”

Enzi nodded, “Unfortunately I have some knowledge of that from my people's battles with the Tarvoni over the years. That was a particularly powerful one, but even it can be hurt by normal weapons if struck hard enough or with perfect precision at its weakest points. With the power of Aldebaran's swings, fleeing may have been smarter than you give the demon credit for. It is far easier to harm them with certain kinds of magical power however. Our priests would often summon vicious cold to freeze them.”

“We could use some priests here,” Syrian said, “Especially for the wounded. I see a few cuts and bruises on us. I would hate for them to become infected.”

Enzi nodded, “Let us move away from the marsh and wash out our wounds with some of our water. Hopefully that will keep the evil of the Siren Swamp from setting in.”

The group made their way to drier land and tried to clean up. After that they began their trip back towards base camp. The mission had been a success. There were no major wounds and no one had died. Enzi imagined such a victory would be a great boost to morale.

***

To be free of the void, even for a short time, felt glorious. The demon knew he did not have long in this world. He tasted the blood on his claws and grinned. He fled through the forest searching for prey. He killed what few animals he could catch and ate them. The warmth of flesh and blood soother his belly. The stench of death filled the creature's nostrils and it loved it. The experience was beautiful to it. All it had ever experienced was the great void. Like all its kind, it drifted helplessly in the void.

The void was empty. One could see nothing, feel nothing, taste nothing. The demons felt great rage at the creatures of Doulairen while being helpless to do anything. The actions of the creatures of this world had shattered their home. The demon was not sure how he knew that, he just did. It was their fault that he must now drift in the void. The demons drifted helpless with nothing but their rage. Was it any wonder that when summoned they were cruel and violent?

The demon felt his tenuous hold on the mortal world begin to loosen. The magic that had allowed him to roam was unraveling. The vibrant colors of the world vanished and the monster drifted through the void once more. He thought perhaps that the taste of the mortal world would be enough to satisfy him. However he noticed his hunger had only grown. Madness soon overtook the demon once more. It sought out contact with the mortal realm.

If it could perhaps have just one more taste of flesh, it thought that would make it feel better. As it tried to search for the mortal realm within the infinite void it thought it noticed something. It could feel the magic of the mortals, however faintly. Some of the Tarvoni used their magic to make deals with the demons of the void. The demons would grant power to the mortal for a gift from the human caster. The demon could sense the opportunity there.

He waited patiently for the next caster that needed his power. He already knew what he wanted in return for his aid. It was a simple request. All he wanted was a pound of flesh. To be able to enjoy the taste of human flesh and blood in the void would be an exquisite treat. Perhaps he would even get lucky and the caster would fail badly enough in his spell that the demon could claim something far greater. Perhaps the caster's own first born child. The thoughts of destroying such an innocent made the fiend drool. It would be a perfect revenge against the mortals. At least one small bit of revenge anyway.

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