“Hurry, this way!” Fiora screamed at the two kids while her group moved lunged into the closest alley. A few moments later, the two joined them.
“What did you do?” Fiora pressed.
Rowen took a deep breath, “I’m Rowen and this is Missy. We tracked the source of the disaster to the building and entered it. We found a mass of flesh that called itself Lord Rotch. His mind is gone, and he seems to be focused on things like hate, revenge, and control. From what we last saw, he had demon parts bursting out of him.”
Gran analyzed what Rowen said quickly, “As I suspected, the spell is merely an imitation of the real thing. Someone summoned a powerful demon of rage in Rotch’s body and forced to use puppet type magic. Without a sound mind to direct it, corruption won’t be left in the hearts of those afflicted after they are free.”
“Great,” Nat joked, “So then what do we do about Mr. Angry Tentacle Monster?” She pointed to out the alley-way toward the road.
This time, Jonas spoke up. “If it’s a failed possession, then the demon’s magic is powering the body. The good news is that once it is gone, that monster will die. Bad news is that the demon’s essence must still be connected to the source of its power, the hells, since it hasn’t died yet. We’ll have to destroy the summoning sigil located on its body.”
The ground shuddered as tentacles started to slam into the ground around the corner.
“How do we find such a large sigil on that growing body?” Prince James asked.
Jonas grinned, “That’s easy; inflict as much damage as possible to shrink the monster down, then search for the sigil. Destroying it is easy enough with flames, salt, or cutting it.
“Well that actually sounds like the best part of this miserable day,” Nat cheered, “Let’s get to it!” With that said, she ran out the alley with her sword held high.
However, Nat froze upon entering the street, her mouth frozen open in shock. The rest of the group soon followed her out, and also promptly froze. What stood before them set fear deep into their bodies.
Insert music: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xpaJulksCik
(Note, this song may not be long enough for full enjoyment while reading. Sorry)
The monster before them roared in fury. Standing before them, and taking up the whole road, was a huge dark red and fleshy colored dragon. It was hideously ugly, with its face not symmetric and parts of its body falling off in apparent decay. It stood on four goat legs with demonic wings stretching out of its back. From the forehead, a small, humanoid face came into being. When it formed, it revealed eyes that matched that of the monster. With glowing orange eyes, it raised its wings and screamed at the group.
As one, Fiora’s team leaped into action as experience and training took over. Nat and Fiora charged ahead with swords drawn while Gran climbed a building and Jonas stood protectively in front of James, Alfred, Rowen, and Milly.
“Stay behind me,” Jonas ordered, “It’s not safe.”
The corrupted dragon let loose a breath of acid from its mouth, forcing Fiora and Nat to dive to the side in order to avoid it. Meanwhile, Gran began running across the roofs as he took out his special arrows from his adventurer bag. He loosed them without mercy at the dragon, drawing its ire. It roared at him and tried to climb the building, causing it to collapse.
Taking advantage of its distraction, Nat and Fiora resumed their charge at the beast. Their sword sliced air and flesh as they landed clean hits on the back legs. However, the flesh moved like a herd of worms and reformed. The two were forced to run as the dragon moved its tail to crush them.
“They need help!” Rowen cried as he watched the adventurers do little damage to the monster. He tried to rush forward, but Jonas held him back.
“It’s too dangerous for you kid,” Jonas told him, “That beast must at least be a B-ranked monster. A newbie like you would be rushing to your death.”
Rowen frowned, but knew Jonas was right. He stopped trying to move.
Missy grinned, “That might be true for this sad excuse for a man, but I can hurt it.” A flurry of throwing ensued, and six daggers flew through the air before Jonas could stop her. They all made their mark, landing in a hexagonal formation at the top of one of the legs.
Missy made a hand gesture, “Formation, explode!”
Lights connected the daggers into a hexagram formation, followed by an explosion the ripped the leg apart. The monster howled in agony as the dagger returned to Missy.
“See?” she said confidently. Jonas stared at her in surprise. The monster also turned to star, but its gaze was filled with malevolence and hate.
Jonas paled, “Not good.” He quickly cast a huge shield of fire in front of the group as a huge acid cloud erupted at them from the monster’s open mouth. However, he was ill-equipped to deal with such an attack, and collapsed to the ground when the spell was completed.
Prince James grabbed Jonas, “Alfred, kids, help me! We can’t stay here.” While the three active adventurers reattracted the monsters interest, the four non-combatants carried Jonas’ body back into the alley. Missy’s face was pale.
“I’m sorry,” she whispered to Jonas.
Jonas gave her a weak smile, “That’s okay kid, you just wanted to help. As much as I’d like to tell you to leave here, that power seems to be incredibly useful. What kind of power was that?”
“Divine,” Missy said simply.
Jonas nodded in understanding, “Right, that makes sense. Demons have a hard time against divine magic, and all divine magic is poison to corruption class magic. Tell me, are you up for helping us out?”
Missy stared down at her hands, the proximity to death finally filling her with the awareness of what was happening. Not even her magic daggers could stop her from feeling fear now; it was taking hold inside her.”
Rowen grabbed Missy’s hands, distracting her from her deepening fear.
“Missy, you just need to focus on protecting me,” Rowen said as he stared deep into her eyes, “You aren’t fighting, you are protecting both me and this town. I’m going to go give it my best now.” Before anyone could stop him, he grabbed the staff from Jonas’ body and ran back out into the street.
It only took a second for Rowen’s words to sink into Missy’s mind. Her friend was in danger that was all that mattered now. Her fear smothered out, she raced after Rowen to join the fight.
James watched the two children leave. “Alfred, take care of Jonas,” he ordered his royal adviser.
Alfred took a look toward the road and nodded. James got up and hurried out to join the children.
Meanwhile, Fiora and Nat were doing their best to avoid the flesh tentacles that formed off the dragon’s body and swiped at them.
“It’s regenerating the leg,” Gran shouted as he was forced to jump to a new roof as the previous one melted, “and its shrinking!”
“Great, but we can’t do anything!” Nat shouted back as her sword worthless cut into the monster’s tail, leaving not even a scar behind. A tentacle surged back and wrapped itself around Nat, dragging her helplessly toward the monster’s maw.
“Nat, NO!” Fiora screamed, but was powerless to help as other tentacles swam toward her. Nat watched in horror as she rapidly approached the monster’s open mouth. Pulsating flesh and the smell of gastric juices surged out as she struggled to break free.
All of a sudden, the tentacle was shredded, freeing her. Nat fell ungracefully to the ground and rolled out of the way of the dragon’s foot as in moved its body to face its attacker. Nat saw the girl again, running behind the boy, who was carrying Jonas’ staff.
“Get back!” Nat screamed as the dragon began to suck in air for its breath attack. However, the boy seemed to be waiting for this and threw the staff perfectly into the monster’s mouth. The dragon hacked and coughed violently as the staffed wedged into its throat. As it tried to recover, Missy shouted, “Explode!” The daggers she had thrown with after the staff lit up inside the monster’s mouth.
Instantly, the dragon snapped its mouth shut. Its head exploded as pieces flew out. Missy and Rowen cheered, but the joy was short-lived as the flesh quickly began to move across the area back to the body, which was still attacking. The flesh even wrapped itself around the two as it returned, dragging them with it. Struggling as they were, they could not break free.
“BLADES OF BLOOD!”
“JUDGEMENT OF THE FOREST!”
Spells flew through the air, saving the children and pounding into the flesh dragon as it reformed. Mouths grew on its side, and they roared in pain.
The remaining adventurers, elves, and members of the church had arrived, led by Mary and Father Jonas. The Father stared grimly at the pulsating flesh beast.
“Careful, it’s still moving.”
This time, the scattered flesh locked onto the many dead bodies, causing them to change into more flesh. They stood and formed vaguely two-legged forms that attacked the newly arrived reinforcements, while the largest bit reformed into a mound of waving tentacles and flowing body parts.
Mary held her arm out in front of her, “Adventurers, destroy the enemy! Priests, purify the discarded pieces! Elves, seal the enemy’s movements!”
Under her direct orders, the three groups moved in and engaged the fleshlings. The adventurers cut, burned, smashed, and pulverized the attackers while the elves summoned plants to cut off the movements of the flesh bags. The priests stood behind, offering prayers to their gods and goddesses as their magic flew through the air and purified the corrupted flesh. They soon broke through and launched their assault on the main body. It roared in defiance, but under the combined assault of so many it was clearly disadvantaged.
As the fading sun finally set and only the barest of light remained, the monster was finally defeated. All that remained was the top of a man’s body, torso to head with arms. In the center of his chest, a nine-sided formation sat, burned onto the flesh. Father Jonas cut the sigil with his divine wind-blade, and the man shuddered as the demonic quickly began to leave him.
“Lord Rotch, you stand accused of murder, treason, and meddling in the corrupted arts. How do you plead?” Prince James asked coldly.
Lord Rotch chuckled, coughing up blood as he did so.
“Heh, heh, heh,” he laughed weakly, “You are all fools. I willingly accepted this fate. You may have won the battle here, but you have all lost the war.”
James looked down confused. Rotch, with the last of his strength, pointed toward the setting sun.
“Fools, that isn’t the sun,” he grinned sadistically, “My boy, I’ve avenged you.” Rotch twitched, and died.
“What did he mean?” Fiora muttered from the side, “Lost the war . . . was this all a distraction?”
Three lights burst through the air, moving so fast the wind screamed. In front of Father Jonas, Master Mary, and Prince Jonas hovered three red constructs, each holding a letter.
Prince James’s eyes widened, “These are emergency messengers!”
While everyone watched the three leaders read their respective letters, no one noticed a red and orange slime tentacle sneak its way to Rotch’s body and drag it away. No one except Rowen, who had been expecting it, and Missy, who had been watching Rowen’s eyes. She smiled, but did not leave Rowen any indication she had noticed.
Prince James dropped his letter in absolute shock and grief.
“Duren has fallen,” he barely managed to whisper as he turned to look at what was now apparent as the distant burning city, “They . . . are all . . . gone.” There would be no way to reach the city that was three days away. They had lost.