The Minotaur groaned and then pushed itself into a sitting position. Placing both hands on the floor behind, it leaned back. The creature's eyes met Raithe's and there was acknowledgment hidden deep within them. “Purren,” the Minotaur said. “You have chosen to use a non lethal weapon against me.”
“Why?” the Minotaur asked.
“There was no reason to,” Raithe answered. “You said that we would fight, but didn't say it was to the death. What would have happened if I had been knocked unconscious?” this question came strictly from his curiosity. Raithe didn't believe the battle had been set up as a death match. Though the Minotaur had appeared slow, that wasn't necessarily the case.
“I would have taken the dagger and hidden it somewhere else.”
“What would have happened to us?”
“Little man,” the Minotaur said. “Do not believe everything you hear. I had no plans to actually kill you. You would have woken with a headache, but fine otherwise.”
“I see,” Raithe said. In his mind, he willed the weapon to transform. For the chains and iron balls to untwist from the Minotaur's legs. They glowed that florescent blue as they transformed, unwinding, becoming small and stiff. A crystalline blade formed, then the hilt and guards. The dagger returned to the way it was and Raithe walked over to pick it up.
“With my defeat, I will relent and allow you to take the black blade,” the Minotaur said as he pushed himself up. When it spoke again, it towered over Raithe. “But be warned, the spirit inside is evil and only has evil intent. If carried by a weak minded or evil individual, bad things will happen.”
“If it is evil, why let me keep it,” Raithe asked. The Minotaur was so tall that he was forced to look up at it, like he would at the sky.
“I have no interest in what happens to the world that I am not a part of. My only duty here was to protect the dagger, you taking it only means that I am freed from this trap,” it stared down at Raithe, eyes intent.
“I understand,” Raithe said as reached down for the crystalline dagger. He returned it to his belt and stared back up at the Minotaur.
It gave him a quick nod and without another word, turned around thumping across the room. The Minotaur's form gradually became translucent, fading into a white mist, before disappearing altogether. Around them, the walls returned. They were back in the room where this had all started and everything appeared as if none of what they had just experienced, had ever happened.
Felix stood over the black dagger, growling. She knew what was inside and though curious, was smart enough not to touch it. The panther also kept Mika away by growling at him when he tried to approach it.
“Thank you Felix,” Raithe said as he picked up the wrapped weapon. He turned towards Mika. “Let's go.”
The boy nodded and scampered up the steps, but stopped when he reached the top, staring into the previous room.
“Mika?” Raithe asked.
“The dog,” Mika said. “It's gone.”
“That's impossible,” Raithe said. The dog was huge and it didn't seem like any of the doors would have been large enough for it to go through. Then again. There had to be some way for it to have come in. Maybe there was some secret about that room they didn't know about. Raithe's foot hit the top step.
Felix jumped up passed Mika and took a defensive stance, growling into the darkness.
Mika went to stand beside her, looking where she was. “Uh... Raithe,” Mika said. “The dog is still here. It is definitely not gone.”
“Still here?” Raithe asked.
Mika nodded. “Mhmm. And it does not look friendly. Not like before.”
Raithe peered around the corner, into the dimly lit room.
It was still there, but was different somehow. Not as enormous as when they had first come in. The canine was as small now, as a large, normal sized dog. Its form slender and agile. It appeared much more aggressive. Standing in a position that would make it easy for the creature to attack, teeth bared, a low growl in its throat. Getting out, would not be as easy as he thought it would after all.
Keeping his eyes on the beast, Raithe knelt down and placed the black dagger against the wall. He drew the crystalline dagger and clutched it tightly in his hand. “Might need your help with this one Mika,” he said, trying to keep the fear from his voice.
“I um... I dunno,” Mika said hesitantly.
“What's wrong? You were almost eager to help with the Minotaur.”
“This one is different.”
“How so?” Raithe asked.
“I... am afraid of dogs...” Mika replied. The boy's voice quivered as he spoke.
Raithe glanced over at him and saw too, that Mika was visibly shivering. “Then stay here,” he said. The boy shivering that uncontrollably would only serve to hinder them on the battle field. Raithe decided he would be better off fighting it alone.
Mika made no attempt to argue and remained by the door.
“Stay with him Felix,” Raithe said when she made a move to follow him. He couldn't trust that the boy would keep his hands of the black dagger.
She made a meowl of protest, but walked over to where Mika stood anyway and planted herself by his side.
The dog barked and snarled.
“So you are guarding this place,” Raithe said as he calmly walked out into the middle of the room. In the flicker of blue from the torches, he could see the dog's muscular form. They were all defined. Big and powerful on its slender form.
Raithe pivoted on a heel, twisting out of the way. Allowing the dog to run passed him. He watched as it slid across the floor, coming to a stop mere inches from the wall. Preparing for the next attack, he planted both feet, with one in front of the other. The sideways stance would help him to hopefully move fast enough to...
The dog vanished.
Frantically, Raithe glanced around from one spot to another. He could see glimpses of it, then it would vanish again and any sound from its claws or growls, came from all over. There was no way to truly discern which way it would attack from. So when the canine slammed into him with all the force of a moving truck, Raithe knew that he had stood no chance at all. He was tossed across the room like a ragdoll and slammed against the wall. Bones cracked with the impact.
Although the Minotaur's toss had hurt, it had been nothing even close to resembling what Raithe was feeling in this moment. Pain shot up his body, his spine. There were a few moments where he was dazed out of his mind. A few seconds that felt like forever. When he tried to rise, to push himself up, Raithe simply fell back down. His vision swam and it was hard to see, to even think.
A loud howl reverberated throughout the room. A bark and a growl. Padded paws on stone, claws scraping. The dog was approaching, closer and closer.
Another sound. Growling, a cat meowing. That was... Felix? Raithe tried to rise again, and again he fell. But then he tried once more. Leaning against the wall, using it for support. He found strength enough to place a knee beneath him and shaking his head, he turned his attention to where the guardian was approaching from.
Squinting, he could just barely make out the blurry forms of the dog and Felix approaching it from behind. She could run that fast? It wasn't normal Raithe knew, a blue mist engulfed her tail and paws. The dog lept, but so did she. Felix connected with its back, digging in sharp claws and teeth. This mutt's hide was nowhere even close to as strong as the Minotaur's and it yelped in pain and agony. Felix went for its neck, biting down hard.
“Raithe!” Mika yelled.
Raithe's vision was still blurry, but he could hear the boy's footfalls approaching him at a short sprint. “Mi...” Raithe tried to say, but ended up coughing several times. Finally he was able to stop and then simply shook his head.
“Sorry we didn't listen but... you were in trouble,” he said, there was worry in his voice.
“Th... anks,” Raithe said, trying to catch his breath. He felt the boy's hands under his arm, trying to help him up. Raithe appreciated the boy's help and tried once again, to stand. Though wobbly on his feet, he managed to stay upright this time, a little thanks to the wall which he was still leaning against.
The dog fell and Felix glanced over at them. She meowed and then stepped away, returning to Raithe's side.
He staggered away from the wall.
“You... sure you can walk?” Mika asked.
“Have... to,” Raithe answered. “To get... out of this... place,” he stumbled, nearly fell to the floor where he had left the black dagger. Raithe scooped it up and pushed himself back to his feet. “Home...” was the only word he had enough strength to utter. They seemed to have gotten the message though and walked on either side. All three, left the room together.