“I swear upon my kind, wretched demon spawn, if you’ve been guiding me astray…” Erik grumbled as he trod forward, a walking stick in one hand and a limbless imp in the other.
Another three days had passed of him following the creature’s directions.
“N-Never! Trix show master the way!” The imp frantically assured.
Erik stopped briefly, raising the creature to meet his eyes while he held it by the head. “You better hope so, or my teeth around your throat will be the last thing you’ll feel.” He hissed at it, causing the demonling to shudder.
Before putting it aside once more, as he heard a rather loud crash nearby. His instincts told him to walk away, turn around and go the opposite direction. Erik did not do so, ignoring the disgusting fear that permeated his now human mind.
He moved on, not away from the noise but towards it while several more sounds reached his ears. Like metal crashing with metal alongside whistling, a strangely mechanical noise. Erik snuck up to the scene as stealthily as he could, half peaking from behind a tree right as a splatter of violet blood sprayed past him.
(“A battle!”) Erik thought, as he watched the lone human warrior face off against eight large demons. Hulking beasts, twice the height of the warrior and three times as thick and muscled. The creatures were humanoid with black leather hides, long unkempt manes of hair and curling crimson horns.
(“Eight fiends.”) he noted before studying the warrior, wearing silver plate armour that glowed a bright blue from in between the plates, a tattered red cape with the black insignia of a wyvern and a similar wyvern in design full helm. The human also wielded a strange blade, a two-handed weapon with two grips.
Remembering from Dwarven engineering, Erik noted that the massive weapon had a long barrel going in-between each blade while one of the handles had a trigger. The warrior had already slashed and blew off several of the fiend’s limbs, but the resilient monsters were already healing. While the warrior lay weary, worn out from a probably drawn-out fight.
Fiends liked to prolong fights, it is what the highly sustainable beasts excelled at.
Erik decided there was nothing to be done here other than sneak around, hoping the human would last long enough for him to-When suddenly Trix began flailing and screaming at the top of his lungs, incoherent words Erik did not comprehend but knew it to be demon tongue.
He slammed the imp into the tree he was standing behind, shutting it up briefly while he glanced back at the fight…Each of the fiends had turned to look at him.
Erik took a deep, annoyed breath “If you live through this, Imp. Know that I will find you, capture you…and kill you in the slowest manner imaginable.” He told the chuckling demon, as two Fiends roared out and charged him.
Letting go of both imp and walking stick, Erik purposely fell back as the two fiends leapt over his falling form. They crashed into the trees behind him, ripping the dry logs apart. He turned over, finding himself surrounded by four of them as they slowly approached his position. Smirking, salivating as they watched him try to crawl away.
“Aw, look at the worm wiggle off.” Chuckled one fiend.
“Haha! This one’s mine!” exclaimed the largest of them, as it took a step forward towards Erik. Reaching out with its right claw, a hungry smirk on its face.
“You’re facing me!” exclaimed a feminine voice, the warrior suddenly appearing before the fiend as she aimed her blade’s barrel up at its face “Flame burst!” she chanted, magical energy forming at the barrels end before suddenly blasting forwards into a wave of heat.
She turned to the other fiends, as the large one fell back, headless and dead. The warrior glanced down at Erik, seeing his bloody and wrapped up leg she grimaced “Stay down kid, I’ll deal with these beasts.”
(“Kid? Ignorant human, I’m thousands of years older than you!”) Was what Erik wanted to shout back, but had no time to as a fiend lunged down at him.
Seeing the attack the warrior chanted quickly “Blink”, teleporting instantaneously to parry the demon’s lashing claw with her blade’s flat side.
Erik watched as she held her ground, one demon grabbing onto her weapon while she pushed back. The other demons prowled around them, the four she left behind having re-joined these three. They pushed aside the trees, clearing out the area around them to move with more ease.
(“Seven fiends, this human won’t survive.”) Erik noted as he kept watch on the fiends behind them, whilst the female warrior struggled against the one fiend’s raw strength.
“Force push!” She chanted, suddenly pushing the fiend away with great force, sending it flying into several trees which shattered under its weight. The warrior then turned to glance at her surroundings, breathing heavily from exhaustion yet unyielding.
She glanced down at him, smiling weakly “What’s your name?” she asked.
He rolled his eyes “Doesn’t seem like this is the time for pleasantries.”, he sighed as one fiend hissed at them. “Erik.” He then answered, deciding it wasn’t worth the trouble of using his draconic name in this form.
“Listen to me closely Erik, head north. You will find a village of good people there, they’ll treat your wounds, feed and clothe you…” The woman began to tell, when suddenly a fiend pounced at her from behind. Sensing its presence, she immediately spun onto it, slashing its chest open and sending it back into a tumble.
“What are you-” Erik began to ask.
But she cut him off “My name is Thea Selene, Elite Knight of the Kingdom of Druvia. Go to the village called Beckton, you will find my sister there…Tell her…” what was visible of her face turned grim, as she spoke the next words “Tell her I’m sorry.”
Suddenly an aura of bright crimson rose all over her body, “I’ll draw them away, you make your escape!” she told him before suddenly raising her sword high. She chanted loudly “Knight’s Taunt!” and the aura of crimson exploded outwards, like a flash of light it briefly engulfed each fiend.
Their pitch black eyes shone a dim red, as their expressions turned to pure fury.
Thea turned to run, finding a fiend already pouncing at her and blocking her way she threw her sword at it. “Force throw!” she chanted, her weapon’s point realigning with her throw and shooting into the fiend’s chest.
She leapt after it, using the fiend’s falling form as a step to leap higher. Landing right as the fiend hit the ground, she took off whilst shouting back “Go Erik! Run!” as she herself dashed away. Each of the remaining six frenzied fiends chasing after her.
Left alone Erik groaned “Saved…By a bloody human?” he hissed in frustration, the mere thought infuriating him. He moved to stand, noticing that the pain in his leg was gone. Removing the sticks and unwrapping the cloth he revealed his lower leg, finding no sign of the wound.
“Hah, my powers are coming back but…Too slowly.” He grumbled, rising to his feet before stretching his healed leg about. Erik clicked his tongue in annoyance as he stared off towards the direction Thea had lured off the demons into.
He couldn’t stand it, the idea of owing his life to a puny human was…unthinkable for a being of his worth. But he was still too weak, physically he was no better than an average human grunt. Magically? Other than the prayers towards nature’s spirits and his self-regeneration, he was dry. Not a drop of mana running through his system.
“This won’t do, I need my strength back.” Erik continued to grumble, as he glanced about seeing the two dead fiends. Trix was nowhere in sight though, “The worm probably crawled away or is hiding.” Erik spat at the ground angrily. He really wanted to get his claws…Hands, get his hands around that imp’s throat.
Erik looked down at his hands, (“Why? Why did that foolish death god leave my powers?“) he thought, unable to determine Grim’s reasoning.
Sighing he gave up the thought, nothing, not even dragons could start to understand what Gods plotted and played at.
He walked out into the clear area the fiends were engaging Thea before Trix’s outburst, noticing that several human corpses lay about. Wearing armour similar to Thea’s if not of a lower grade, their weapons also seemed strangely dwarven and magic-imbued.
Erik took into account everything around him “Two fiend corpses, a dozen dead humans and several mana imbued pieces of equipment?”, he hummed thoughtfully “Maybe?”. A smile crept up his lips, amusement at his own genius. “It could work…” he mused beneath his breath, before suddenly rushing over to a short-sword.
He began collecting weapons from left and right, studying them in his hands before using another to dismantle each. He took out several circular crystals from within each weapon, gathering them into a pile of fourteen. Erik then moved on to the human bodies, ripping the straps that kept their armour together and revealing their chests.
Undisturbed, he plunged a dagger into the dead man’s chest, carving it open. Pulling it open further with both hands he then reached in and carefully ripped out his heart. Erik did this with each body, even the two Fiends, from which he gathered two black hearts per demon.
Having each of the three objects into their own pile, he then began placing what he knew to be mana cores in a specific pattern. Forming a small circle from them. Done with the cores he moved onto the human hearts, holding several over one arm while gripping a single heart in his right.
Erik began squeezing the hearts, spilling out the blood and splattering it over the ring of cores. Slowly, he formed a ring of blood by using up four hearts, before starting to carefully lay out a pattern within. Having a couple extra hearts remaining, he quickly snacked on them before turning to the completed magic circle.
Kneeling outside it, Erik placed his right palm over one core. He closed his eyes to focus, sensing the power within the crystal. A cold, stirring energy. He willed it out with his mind, opening his eyes to see the blue flow of ethereal mana following the path of blood.
The mana reached the other cores, forcing the energy within them outwards, it too began to follow the path of wet crimson. Until a few moments later each crystal orb lay empty, while the ring shone with bright energy.
Content with the circle, Erik moved to the demon’s blackened hearts, violet miasmic blood oozing out from each. Every single heart, larger than his own fists. He placed the demonic muscles inside the circle, forming a square within as the mana sizzled and sparked violet on contact with the miasma.
Erik stood, watching as nothing happened other than the sparking mana surging out in bursts of violet energy around each heart. He stepped inside, now standing at the circle’s very centre.
He continued to smile, if not slightly worried this time around. “Nothing better than a jumpstart to get this weak body into shape.” He mused, reasoning that since his soul was taking too long to get used to his new vessel then maybe, just maybe he could introduce peril to force it to bind quicker.
He also knew from his knowledge of the human body that introducing peril caused it to suddenly become slightly more resistant. He hoped it was enough to survive the ritual he was about to cast on himself.
Erik raised his arms up and outstretched before him, as he chanted in draconic “Surge through the juice of life, corrupt and reform. Opposing energies collide, conflict…Lightning School, Torturous Voltage!”
The diagrams slowly took on a violet hue, while sparks and arcing rays of light shot into his body. He could feel the electricity raging through his skin, like a stream of lava. Unable to hold it in, he arched back and screamed. Only the blurring slowly enclosing his field of vision eased the flashes of lightning. Yet nothing eased the agony if not lesser pain, briefly ending his wailing cries.
This was a ritual created by the devils themselves to torture their prisoners, back before Erikathyr was old enough to breath fire.
Every inch of his body that was touched by the energy was burnt to a crisp. The skin fried and the hairs seared off. Just when he was about to pass out the energy let up, giving him nothing but a mere moment to heal the worst damages before it increased again. An unending cycle of flaying by magical electrocution. A continuous rotation of mind-numbing pain, seemingly never-ending agony..
Thea ran for her dear life, having abandoned her weapon didn’t mean she had given up on escaping from this alive. She ran with all her might, hearing the frenzied demons chasing after her. Their thrashing of the trees as they trampled right through the dry and hollow bark only eclipsed by their hungering cries.
She was oh so tired, exhausted from the fighting she couldn’t hope to get away. Her mana was drained too, not regenerating nearly quick enough for her to cast anything of use. But she kept running, keeping her breathing even and calming her nerves. Thea tried to put as many trees in between her and the demons as possible, trying to slow them down.
Yet they caught up to her either way, their superior demonic stamina only empowered by the surrounding miasma.
“Where do you think you’re going girly?!” exclaimed one fiend as it crashed through the trees before her, blocking her path.
Thea tried to turn and go around it but the other fiends appeared then, quickly clearing the trees from around her before surrounding her position. It was six on one and she was not only unarmed but drained of energy.
Unsheathing her short-sword she began spinning about, slashing and stabbing at them as the demons poked and pushed her about. Laughing and chuckling joyfully, they were playing around with her.
“Oh! Watch it bitch! That stings!” One fiend chuckled as she pricked its left hand, stepping back and out of her range. Thea took her chance, charging low, she tried to pass through the demons and escape. “No you don’t!” Another hissed, as the fiend grabbed her cape and pulled, spinning her about as it turned.
The fiend threw her, sending her flying through a tree and crashing into a boulder with a loud crack.
Thea groaned in shock and pain, as she slid down the stone’s side. Rolling onto the ground, she lay there, unable to stand back up. Only able to glance to her side as the fiends approached her once more, pushing at each other, chuckling in wicked amusement.
When suddenly a heart-wrenching scream of pure agony resonated through the forest, filling her with dread.
“Haha! The squirt didn’t make it!” exclaimed one fiend, as it kneeled down before her and grabbing her long light-brown hair. The fiend pulled her up to meet its hungry gaze, as another scream of pain sounded off. “Do you hear that?” the fiend asked before another responded, “That’ll be you in a moment!”
Thea did not speak back, closing her eyes she waited for it all to end. Waiting in darkness, hoping to at least see the light that comes after. Hoping that in her death she might find the solace she couldn’t in living.
Disrupting her dreadful thoughts, promptly came a sound that overshadowed all. A roar so deep that the trees shuddered, a bestial howl that made each fiend perk up. A bellow of fury imbued with magic beyond her knowledge, which filled her dreading heart with an ancient fear. She tried to open her eyes but her body had taken too much of a beating…
Barely catching a glimpse of the raging flames that engulfed her surroundings, before passing out cold.
The fiends scattered, evading the massive beam of incineration. As it burned through, leaving behind a scorched path over which Erik tread. Still human yet visibly changed, he casually walked towards the six demons. As he approached the flames would bend towards him, seemingly attracted by his presence.
“A mage!?” One fiend exclaimed, as all began moving through the forest to surround him.
Erik though chuckled in cold amusement, as his gaze fell upon the speaker whilst he spoke with a narcissistic tone and draconic voice “You dare compare my flames with the atrocity of those short-lived fools? Beseech whatever Devil you pray to for forgiveness! For you shall find none within me!”
The fire flowed out from his surroundings, quickly converging onto his palm as he suddenly raised it towards the fiend. Without a chant, without speaking a single word as if moving the blaze through sheer will. The fire burst forth, a chain of sudden explosions engulfing the fiend who spoke and two others nearby it.
The three others watched in frozen fear, as the flames and smoke slowly dissipated revealing a large patch of ashen scorched ground. No sign of the three fiends, nothing but piles of ash and rising flames.
“Who…Who are you?!” One fiend demanded, as each took a long step away from him.
Erik turned to face the remaining three, as he smiled, a frigid smirk void of actual emotion. “I am the fall of kingdoms. I am the end of living and undead. I am the eternal flame that burns all, the flightless beast that walks through your pitiful walls of stone.” He spoke with a haunting tone as more flames formed around his person,” Grounded I might be, it is you who shall despair. As the sky is your only solace, and nowhere else can you escape my blaze.”
The flames formed three large spheres before suddenly shooting at each fiend, turning in response to the demons trying to evade, correcting their path and making it impossible to miss. Miss, they did not, as each sphere hit its target sending it up into a blaze of screaming agony.
Leaving behind another three piles of smoking ash.
Erik cackled maniacally “Yes! I’m back! Ohhhh I’m back!”, maybe enjoying this a tad too much. Then abruptly falling to his knees he put his enthusiasm on hold, “Wh-What…” he fell forwards and face first into the ashen earth.
Struggling to keep his eyes open “Ha-I might have used a bit too much…” he mused to himself, before finally losing consciousness.