Corvin was gripping Rania's arm as she cried violently. Both her and Corvin were kneeling down, with Arikin a couple feet in front of them, blocking the demon from advancing. Surrounding them, was the elven guards that were part of Rania's and Ingrid's posse. They were terrified. Their eyes darted around, their skin became even paler.
Corvin didn't know what to do. Arikin didn't give him new instructions yet, so he did his best to accompany Rania during this time. The elven guards then gained composure and surrounded them both, drawing their swords in unison.
"Mistress Rania! We will protect you with our lives! The Nature's Herald will not be uprooted this early!", The guards shouted in defiance.
Corvin looked puzzled again. Herald? Nature? There was just too much going on in his life now after he got saved by Arikin.
Rania stopped crying when she heard the chant. "But.. I haven't even started my training... Ingrid was supposed to teach me... Oh gods..", she sobbed as she buried her head in her arms.
"Rania look at me. ", Corvin shook her. Those teary golden eyes stared back at him. He gulped and tried not to get swallowed by her look. "Arikin will save us.. He'll save everyone.", he said, unsure. Almost all of the nobles just got cut in half earlier. Then, to the Baker family.
Rania sobbed in silence, with Corvin cradling her and patting her head.
Arikin took a defensive stance and stared at the demon, watching it's every move. It's eyes kept darting everywhere, attempting to confuse Arikin, but it didn't work. The silvery gleam of his sword was dancing in the light.
After a few minutes of just staring, the demon chuckled to break the silence.
"I've heard a lot of things about you Arikin. ", it said.
"Really? Like what?", Arikin replied, not relaxing a bit.
"Oh. Nothing too much... Ranger, killed countless of my brethren, trained the Lord of Galbrand, Killed the Demon lord, and, ". it paused, and glared at him immensely. "Killed the love of his life...",
Arikin stayed silent, but his fists gripped the sword tighter and tighter by hearing it.
The demon smiled and charged. Sensing Arikin's rage, it saw an opening. The demon swiped it's claws in an overhead strike. The air gushed as it passed through, and sparks flew as the claw made contact with Arikin's blade. Arikin spun, and slashed the demon's arm just barely. The demon then flew at Arikin with ferocious zeal, the air whooshed and sounds of steel ringing were throughout the vast room.
The demon then crushed the stone floor beneath it, and sent dust flying to Arikin's face.
Arikin rolled to the side to dodge the attack, but immediately regretted it. The demon changed targets and headed to where the Elven guards were huddled up. In lightning fast movements, the demon seemed to teleport in front of the group, with razor sharp fangs and teeth, formed in a twisted smile.
"NO!", he yelled, as he stood up and threw his sword at the creature.
The silvery blade flew across the room, and pierced the demon's back, but it still kept charging.
Quaking, the elven guards stood guard, as they defiantly raised their blades in defense of their charge.
"The elven race will not falter against the Demo-",
The head that was earlier speaking defiance against the demon, now flew in the air, with a trail of blood following. His headless body spewed a fountain of red, as Rania's eyes grew wide in a look of despair.
Screams of agony soon followed. Blood gurgled from the elven guards. One swipe after the other, the guards were shredded like butter. They were too disturbed as to what happened that they didn't know how to respond.
One pushed Corvin and Rania out of the way and gestured for them to escape. Corvin grabbed Rania by the arm and dragged her away from the scuffle. Trying hard not to look back, he swallowed his fear and ran as fast as he could while dragging the elven girl. He slammed the the double doors leading to the Lord's study and ran in. Rania was shaking violently, her sobs became even worse.
"Just keep going.", Corvin mumbled. He didn't even know if he was saying it for himself, or for Rania.
Rania kept crying as they ran through the hallway.
"Just keep going.", she mumbled.
Arikin rushed to the aid of the guards. He drew out the wristblades and attempted a pounce on the demon. He landed one strike, two, three. With fiendish zeal Arikin kept dishing out blows one after the other. The thick skin of the changeling was unnatural. It was like cutting through rock. This wasn't normal. He faced many changelings before, but if there was one trait that was common in all of them, is that they didn't have skin that was like armor. The reverberations from the force of his strikes kept reflecting back to him, his wrists and arm felt like noodles, but he didn't stop. Even after straight 23 strikes, the demon ignored Arikin, and kept slicing through the guards.
He kept screaming at them to run, but he knew it was too late.
The elves fought well.. But it didn't help them. This demon was too powerful.
With one clawed swipe, the last of the guard was cut in half. Leaving only it, and Arikin the only living in the room. By this point, multiple weapons were sticking out of the Demon's body. Swords, spears, axes.. All crafted with Elven grace and fluidity, but it was no match for this changeling's rock-like skin.
Arikin jumped back, his arms shaking, and the wristblades were probably dull at this point. He breathed heavily, and looked around the room for any advantage he could manipulate.
Gristle and insides were strewn about. On the table, the chairs, the walls. Everywhere. People were inrecognizable. They were dead. And all because he was too impatient. He couldn't control himself in triggering the demon. One glimmer of hope shimmered though, as the light of the chandeliers above them gave him a good idea. Not the best, but it might as well.
He spat on the ground
The changeling looked at him, it's red eyes burning. "The Sparrowhawk. The Hero. The Demonslayer. Plenty more titles for the feats you did. You slaughtered thousands of my brethren, killed our King, saved humanity, and yet..", it paused, and waved it's claw to the corpses in the room. "This.", it continued.
Arikin breathed heavily, his rage continuing to build up. "I didn't give myself those titles. I never did anything. All I did was follow the button prompts and I did.", he spat.
"Button..Prompts?", The demon asked confused.
"Prompts like this.", Arikin said as he drew 2 throwing knives and launched it. It whizzed passed the air, and almost hit the demon, but it flicked it's claw and deflected it.
Barely after he threw the first one, Arikin threw the other knife to the chandelier above, it hit the chain connecting it to the ceiling, severing it as the weight of the silver and metal fell unto the demon below.
A loud thud was heard back at the common room as Corvin and Rania scaled the stairs to the Study...And something that resembled laughter..
He shook his head and continued onward. Corvin hoped the Lord was there. Surely he has some men to spare to help Arikin.
"What was that?", Rania asked.
"We have to find Lord Rathkor!", Corvin replied not looking back.
"We have to help him!", She retorted.
Corvin sighed and did not answer. Instead, he tightened his grip and went onwards.
As she was about to say something else, loud footsteps were getting audible as they went further unto the stairs. Corvin stopped, and put his hand over Rania's mouth. "Shh.", he said, as they scaled the stairs faster and hid behind a bench on the hallway.
The hiding space was a bit tight, so he clasped Rania close. He could hear her breathing. Her ears basically pricked his head. This was really a bad time to feel like this, he thought.
Corvin peeked out, his heart pounded like a drum. On the other side of the hallway, opposite the Study, there was a fully armored man walking. He was about the size of an ox, the silvery gleam of that armor was screaming "Knight." It had Lord Rathkor's Livery on it's chest, and his face was unrecognizable because he was wearing a full plate helm. Only slits as thin as sticks were there probably to let him see. On his hands, held a warhammer twice his size.
"Lord Rathkor!", Rania whispered.
Corvin's eyes grew wide. "Seriously?",
Rania stood up and ran to him. Corvin followed after her.
The full plated warrior seemed to jump on seeing Rania emerge from behind the bench.
She hugged him, as hard as she could in that armor.
Corvin didn't see it, but somehow he knew that Rathkor felt relieved when seeing Rania.
A muffled voice came out of Rathkor. "How many?", he asked.
Rania paused. Then tears began to stream out again. She sobbed.
Corvin answered instead. "One, my lord. A changeling.",
"I see. That's quite bad...", Rathkor replied. He looked at Corvin and pointed to his study. "You have seen my desk yes? The one where we talked earlier. There's a tome about glyphs in it. Grab it, then find the glyph about Entrapping. You can't miss it. Once you find it, grab whatever edged blade you find and inscribe the glyph on the floor on the hallway below using those blades. Understood?",
Corvin just stood there, quivering, and has no idea what to say.
Rathkor then looked to Rania. "Girl!", he shouted.
Rania looked up, barely seeing anything due to the tears. "Keep him safe.", Rathkor said.
She looked at Corvin, and nodded. "I'll try..",
"Boy!", Rathkor shouted, his muffled voice echoing throughout the hallway.
Corvin jumped immediately and his back straightened as he answered. "Sir!",
"Did you understand?",
"More or less... Study, tome, entrapping, edged blade, hallway, inscribe. ", he muttered as he held out his fingers in enumeration.
Rathkor chuckled. "Alright. Then get to it.", he then looked to Rania. "Girl. You are powerful, even without training. Don't let your past hold you back. ",
Rathkor ran to the stairs and to Arikin's aid.
Corvin shook his head and brought himself back to reality. For a second there he was seeing himself in that armor. Fighting side by side with Arikin fighting demons.
He looked at Rania to see she was not crying anymore, but her eyes were still red. What was Lord Rathkor saying before? Powerful? All she did was cry, and he had to drag her to safety.. He slapped himself mentally for thinking about it.
"Let's go.", Corvin said.
Rania looked at him, and for a moment he saw fire in those reddish eyes. "Yeah. Let's.", she responded.
"Nice try, Ranger.", The demon spat, as it efforlessly flicked away the chandelier. When it turned around to face Arikin, he was gone.
A faint sound of laughter was echoing in the common room. Shadows swallowed almost all of the space in the room. The light only coming from the small frosted glass windows near the entrance. The demon's eyes darted everywhere, but not seeing an inch of the Ranger. The shadows seemed to dance around, taunting it. The faint sound of laughter accompanying it, driving any kind of demon to madness. The shadows were their specialty. They live in it. They thrive in it. Seeing a human manipulating shadow better than them was a major insult.
The demon's blood boiled even hotter as each minute passes by with the Ranger hidden in the shadows. It was a complete insult to their heritage. A human with demon blood outclasses demons in shadow manipulation? It couldn't stand it.
The demon whipped out it's claws and empowered it with the shadows surrounding it. A cloud of black smoke rose as it enveloped each sharp nail on it's claw. It lashed out indiscriminately, hoping to catch the Ranger in his hiding place. Each slice, each strike, only met air. And with each failure, came with a laugh from the ranger within the shadows.
It felt it's own veins pop, as the rage boiled even further. It knew it wasn't talented in manipulating the shadows. It's only talents were in shapeshifting, and were shredding other living beings. But being a demon, they should all be talented in manipulating shadows, but not It. It was useless, and the other demons rubbed it in it's face. Until It met her.
"You are special." she said. "So what if you don't know how to manipulate shadows efficiently? You are a Changeling. The most powerful breed of demon. And you are my changeling."
Those words stuck in it's head, and was it's source of inspiration. No hybrid can outmatch it and it's brethren. Humans are inferior. Humans are livestock. It is the most powerful demon.
Arikin stayed in the shadows long enough. Using his innate ability and the demon blood, he was pretty talented in hiding. He couldn't attack while in it though, so he had to use this chance to weaken the demon. Open new openings. He had managed to infuriate the changeling, but he went too far. As per usual. The changeling was morphing into something much more hideous. It's hide were growing spikes, those claws morphed into something ungodly. It looped around its body creating a shell as it covered it's whole body. The weapons lodged in it's body slowly removed themselves and dropped to the ground, Arikin's longsword included. The horned hooves morphed into something more akin with a dinosaur's. A T-Rex. If anyone knew what that is in this world.
It gleamed reddish flesh, it's eyes were as wide as the sky. And it howled, so loud and disturbing it pierced his ears. Now, it looked more like a lump of flesh with spikes than a demon. It's veins throbbing each time those legs moved.
"God.", he muttered. Then when he blinked, the demon was gone. A flash of red light and a gale of wind surged through, and he felt his back getting impaled.
Arikin spat blood, and he looked down. A thick white spike was jutting out of his abdomen, black smoke was around it, seeping into every pore of his body. He felt his knees drop, and his breathing began to slow down. Heavy breathing was heard behind him. An inhuman gurgling and noises that would make any child have PTSD.
"Ha ha ha ha.", it spat as it replicated Arikin's laugh.
Arikin smiled. "G-Goddamit. I-I did it again.",
He barely had the consciousness to see now, as he felt his whole body getting stretched out by 2 demonic tentacles grabbing him by both arms. Then a flash of silvery light surged through. He felt like he was getting carried away. Arikin forced his hands to move, and instead of feeling rough rock-like skin, he felt cold steel.
A muffled voice was calling out to him. "Arikin, Arikin.",
Arikin coughed out blood, and forced his eyes to open. Then, a familiar helmet graced his vision.
"Rathkor. ", Arikin barely said.
"Don't worry, I'm already healing you. This is some high tier Corruption you are in right now.",
"Yeah. No shit.. What took so long?", Arikin replied.
Arikin looked around, to see a yellowish forcefield surrounding them both. The demon was on the outside, desperately clawing at the shield and staring at Arikin menacingly. He felt goosebumps all around.
"I was hiding my children.", Rathkor replied, while continuously healing Arikin.
Arikin felt a rush of cold and soothing energy carefully washing every nook and cranny of his body. Inside and out.
"Goddamit you always heal so gooood.", Arikin said while sounding a bit weird.
Rathkor chuckled. "Yeah. I get that a lot..", he then cleared his throat. "I have a plan Arikin. And hopefully your apprentice has already inscribed a glyph in the hallway..",
"An entrapping?", Arikin asked.
Rathkor nodded. "Yeah.. And if it doesn't hold, Rania will summon some roots and entangle it.. The manor will get thrashed in the process but it will be worth it..",
Arikin blinked a few times processing it. "Summon..Roots? She's a druid then? She didn't look like one.",
Rathkor chuckled. "She's not.. More like-",
Then both of them were interrupted as the forcefield surrounding them burst open, leaving bits of yellowish shards scattering away and turning to dust.
Arikin cursed and yelled as Rathkor lifted him up and threw him across the room and into a rubble of tables, chairs, and some people. The demon curled up into a ball and rolled at them with vicious strength and speed. Rathkor stood his ground, the warhammer planted in the ground, and like a stone, met the demon's attack head on. Both clashed, and Rathkor did not move an inch. The demon was stuck on Rathkor's warhammer. It glowed bright gold, like it was sucking in the demon. The demon flailed and roared, the room trembled as the demon made contact.Rathkor smiled and counterattacked with his fist, punched the demon out of the room and into the hallway.
In the rubble, Arikin held out a thumbs up. "Nice.", he muttered. Not that it mattered, Rathkor couldn't see it anyway with his full plate helmet. He staggered upward, and went towards the pile of elven guards. Arikin knelt down, and said his respects. He then grabbed his longsword on the ground, then followed Rathkor's lead.
Rathkor was standing on the doorway, his fists clenched on the huge golden warhammer. Arikin could see his breath rising from his helmet in rage. It echoed in his helmet, and he felt the urge to get away.
"Arikin.. My nobles are dead.. The elite of my military is now dead. Our elven allies now lay shredded in a pile..Can you tell me if this is the demon who did all of that?", Rathkor asked, his voice deep and muffled.
Arikin clasped his abdomen and winced. The pain was still there. "Yeah.", Arikin replied. He wanted to tell Rathkor that it was all his fault. That if he waited and played his cards right this wouldn't have happened. But what good will it do. He decided not to tell him now.
"Alright. Then let's take him down. Like the good ol' days.", Rathkor said.
Arikin looked forward and saw that something didn't look right. There was a huge hole in the ceiling just above the stairs leading into the study. The furniture was smashed, but there was no blood. Arikin's observation was cut however, when the demon twitched and readied to move.
The demon, still disoriented from Rathkor's punch. Slowly uncurled from it's grotesque ball, and curled again, readying another strike. It growled some words, but it was too jumbled for both of them to understand.
30 paces behind it, Arikin saw Corvin wielding a knife. He was hiding behind the staircase, but the girl was nowhere to be found. His eyes widened, and he almost yelled to get away. Then he remembered Rathkor's plan.
While the demon readied another roll, Rathkor did the same thing as before. He planted his heels, places the warhammer on the floor, and held it with both arms. The hammer glew gold again, and the demon was agitated and furious. Arikin looked around for the glyphs, and saw 3 of them, about 10 paces forward of Rathkor's position. One near the window, one near the other side of the wall, and one on the floor. Just like what he did back in the sewers. If it works, the demon will get stuck just before it hits Rathkor.
Arikin went behind Rathkor and readied his weapon. He still felt weak because of the corruption that black smoke did to him, but he can still put up a fight.
"Here it comes!", Arikin yelled.
The demon rolled again, and with a furious howl it went forwards. A gale of wind rushed again, and as it passed through the glyphs, purple light flashed and then emerged tendrils which grabbed the rolling demon, and kept it in place. It kept spinning, but the purple tendrils swirled around it's body, then ethereal thorns jutted around and dug in the demon's carapace.
Rathkor smiled and raised the hammer overhead. He slammed it into the changeling with full might. The manor quaked and the ground beneath their feet tremored. Dust and rubbled clouded the air, and the purple tendrils that kept the demon in place were all around it's crushed body. It twitched and the blood kept gushing out of the little cracks of it's carapace. The flesh inside that shell was probably puvlerised by that strike. Arikin was close enough to see what was going on. He was sure it wasn't living now.
Arikin breathed a sigh of relief and felt frustration. Where was he going to get information now? He sighed.
and opened a potion from his belt pouch. The ones that were dangling on his belt were long smashed.
"I think you went overboard Rathkor.", Arikin said chugging the liquid.
In the dust, only Rathkor's golden hammer and golden glow of his helmet was visible. "I'd do it again.", he said.
The ethereal tendrils began to dissipate along with dust and rubble in the hallway.
Rathkor breathed deeply. "My nobles are dead Arikin.. Without them, the sectors all over the city will be at chaos.. Without them, the next ones qualified to lead the soldiers in defense, Galbrand may fall.. You can understand why I did what I did..",
Arikin sighed and retorted. "That doesn't answer the problem now! Where will we get information on the -",
Panting and running footsteps were inching closer and closer. Arikin stopped and looked at the figure approaching them in the dust cloud.
A gruff and damaged voice called out. "B-Boss! A-Arikin!",
"Corvin?", Arikin asked.
"Yeah! ", Corvin wheezed, panted, and coughed in the dust cloud. He bent his body into his thighs, trying to regain air. Arikin told him to stop for a bit and relax. He sensed something was wrong. Corvin's breathing was fast, and the tone he was speaking in sounded like he was terrified.
Rathkor inched closer to Corvin, worry prevalent in his tone even in that helmet. "Rania. Where is she?!",