“Sister?” Hilda whispered in shock, “Diana?”
The townsfolk behind her began murmuring in astonishment as well. Though most had never seen the former princess, her reputation had silently grown into a legend within the town- the warrior princess.
“It must be her,” Fred said in surprise, “she looks just like her. But . . . where else have I seen her?”
Anadine didn’t respond to the voices behind her, devoting all her attention to the enemies in front of her. There were ten demon-infused generals in front of her: six wielding swords of various lengths and sizes and four had fists glowing with demonic energy.
In response, Anadine sprouted slime tentacles to match each general; four hardened blunt tentacles and six hardened edge tentacles. The generals gazed at her in shock.
The eloquent general was the first to recover, getting off the ground and growling at Anadine.
“Oy monster,” he shouted, “What are you doing? What are you?”
“I am the wandering boss Anadine,” she announced proudly, “and you are trespassing in this dungeon with the intent to steal the core.”
“That’s not what just said earlier,” the general said with narrowed eyes, “You called Hilda your sister . . .” He reexamined Anadine’s face, “and you look . . . are you really the former princess Diana? Ha ha, I’m right aren’t I?” He laughed and slapped his knee.
“What’s so funny?” Anadine asked coldly.
The eloquent general grinned evilly, “You were supposed to be the start of the plan, the broken princess fallen to darkness. You would have been the perfect vessel for corruption, yet even though our plans were foiled you still became a monster. Isn’t it the greatest of ironys? You still lost your soul in the end!”
Anadine smirked, “Unlike you worms, I still have my soul. I have conferred with the great dungeon consciousness, and have convinced it that protecting the people of this town is preferable to having traitors like stay here.”
“So the dungeon has taken a side?” the general frowned, “Fine, we’ll retreat for now. But next time . . .”
“You mistake yourselves,” Anadine grinned wickedly as she began moving her tentacles, “the dungeon doesn’t appreciate demons being inside it. For all your intelligence and plans, you forgot to consider the fate of that demon prince who tried to conquer the dungeon.”
As if to emphasis her words, the mine shook gently. In the shadows, around both the townsfolk and the generals, glistening blobs of slime appeared. They squirmed back and forth along an invisible barrier, frightening everyone in the mine.
“If you care about these town-people, then you’ll let us go,” the eloquent general stammered, his sword wavering slightly at the sight of so many slimes.
“Why?” Anadine asked, slightly curious.
The general pulled a symbol from his belt and pointed it at the slime woman, “If we die here, then the soldiers and witches under our power will immediately swarm this dungeon to avenge us. Also, our mistresses have a bit of our souls. If they feel us perish, then they will invade the town and slaughter everyone there. I’m sure the elderly and young there now will be unable to put up a fight.”
Anadine finally turned her head to look back at the people behind her. Inadvertently, her eyes locked onto her sisters. Hilda gave her a hopeful look and Shiva began crying profusely.
“Big sister,” Shiva wept.
Anadine silently nodded before turning her head back to the generals. Unbeknownst to everyone there, she held a silent talk with Doc.
“Fine,” Anadine waved her hand, having the slimes back away, “but the will of the dungeon desires death this day for daring to violate its trust. Let’s have a fight to see which group pays in blood.”
“What do you have in mind?” the general asked warily, pocketing the symbol.
“If you survive me, then you can leave!” Anadine screamed, and she surged forward in a flurry of tentacle attacks. The generals cried out in panic as they scrambled out of the way, desperately fending off her attacks with their weapons.
“Wait,” the eloquent general screamed, “don’t you care for the them? You’re putting them in danger!”
“I am the avatar of the slime dungeon Anadine!” the slime woman announced, an edged tentacle cutting the arm off a general, “I honor the person I used to be by saving them, but my will is the will of the dungeon, and you, must, die!”
Her four blunted tentacles joined together into a massive fist made of slime and slammed into five of the generals. The men were sent screaming into the air, landing in the mass of slimes waiting in the darkness. Everyone in the dungeon paled at the gruesome sight as the traitorous men were devoured alive by the slimes, their struggles doing naught but sinking them deeper into the mass.
“Fine, then let’s all die together!” the eloquent general roared in madness. His eyes red, he whipped out a symbol from his uniform.
Quicker than the eye could see, a small blurred figure swooped from the ceiling and stole the magic symbol. With a clatter, the metal icon landed in a crowd of different colored slime who all began eating the offered item in turns.
“Good job Claire,” Anadine mentally thanked.
“No problem,” Claire responded from her hidden pixie tunnels, “Now hurry up and finish this. Doc’s starting to go hunger mad again from all the demon influence in the dungeon. No telling if he’ll ignore the people or not once he snaps.”
“Don’t worry, these traitors to my father will all perish by my hand,” Anadine grinned malevolently.
The eloquent general had lost all semblance of refinery as he realized his last chance had been stolen from his hand.
“You’ll all die horribly,” he screeched, pointing at the townspeople, “Our mistresses will sate their thirst with your blood and use your bones as monsters to murder your children! No, don’t kill me! I don’t want to die!” He begged as Anadine’s tentacles slowly wrapped themselves around his arms and legs, stopping him from escaping. The other generals were knocked back into the slimes to suffer the same fate as their fellows.
“Your true face appears in the face of death,” Anadine taunted, pulling the man closer to her, “You never had the strength of spirit to fight did you? I bet you lied your way up the ranks and sold yourself to whomever offered the greatest support. Now face your fate traitor and be honored. Only one other man has ever felt my embrace as you will.”
With a horrified scream, the general was pulled into Anadine’s body. The slime poured into his mouth, nose, and ears, cutting off his senses. Then the slime began to burn him, dissolving first his eyes and then his hair. Like Sir Koran before him, the traitor general was deprived of every sense except the ability to feel. And he was filled with pain, feeling every part of his body slowly melt off him and join the slime. Out of curtesy, Anadine darkened the back of her body so her sisters would not see the process in action. The general, a faint layer of muscle on top of bone now, stretched out his arm for one final struggle toward freedom. This was the last conscious thing he ever did.
Anadine spat out the skeleton onto the floor.
“Good job Anadine,” Doc murmured in her head, his mind sound and sane again, “Rowen’s requested the skeleton, so I will have it delivered to him. I’ll allow you a few minutes to talk as a reward.”
“Thank-you Doc,” Anadine whispered before turning around to face the townspeople. The slimes collected the skeleton and disappeared into the darkness once more.
“Diana, tell me, is that really you?” Hilda’s voice broke as she stumbled forward, “Sister?”
Anadine caught Hilda as she fell with a tentacle, bringing her twin into a soft, slimy hug. “It’s me,” she finally answered.
Hilda released her tears and dropped the sword she was still clenching, fully embracing her twin, her partner, her long lost best friend. The two shared a hug that spoke more than any conversation could.
“Big sis!” Shiva cried out as well, rushing forward to join the hug. Anadine used her slime hand to pet her little sister’s head, getting it a little gooey in the process. Shiva ignored the slimy feeling and embraced her sister harder.
“Tell me,” Grecian approached the family cautiously, “Are you truly the former Princess Diana of Duran, or are you a monster impersonating her through the use of her memory?” He ignored the glares Hilda and Shiva shot at him.
Anadine shrugged two tentacles, “Really, that’s too complicated an answer to give. However, I can say with assurance that I possess the soul of the princess Diana and recently acquired all of her memories. You could debate whether I am who I say I am forever, but I know my feelings. These are my sisters, and I do not wish them harm.”
“That answer shall suffice,” Grecian sighed, “but while I am grateful for your help, I fear you may have doomed us all.”
“I doubt it,” Anadine chuckled, “That symbol the slime devoured? It was the core of whatever enchantment was used to control your army and witches. You’ll find that the spell they were under has passed and they will have regained their senses.”
“It’s not enough,” Fred gasped out as he approached the group, supported by two surviving adventurers, “That controlling enchantment destroyed the demon-bane enchantments on the army’s armor and weapons. We’re still defenseless against the coming horde, and if that traitor was right, the horde is on its way now.”
“Indeed,” Anadine agreed, “Your town is in great danger now. However, I have conferred with the will of the dungeon, and it has agreed to assist you.”
“The dungeon will bring the slimes to fight?” Grecian asked.
Anadine shook her head, “The dungeon will not risk corrupting the land. However, it will provide two things.”
With the snap of a tentacle, a horde of bright pink slimes appeared, each carrying a full set of armor and a weapon. A few held the fallen defenders and adventurers, though they appeared to be all alive.
“These are pink slimes, evolved version of heal slimes,” Anadine explained, “They can heal you humans like heal slimes can heal slimes. They have been healing the men injured by the traitors and will heal all of you as well.” To illustrate, the carried defenders were laid on the ground and surrounded by slimes. Before the people’s very eyes, blood returned to the body and wounds closed. One pink slime even crawled up to Fred.
Fred sighed in relief as the pink magic of the slimes began repairing the damage inflicted on his body. The others watched in wonder as the hole in Fred’s stomach closed up and disappeared.
“What of the weapons and armor?” Grecian pressed.
Anadine smiled softly, “These arms are from the undead dungeon, The Tomb of the Forgotten King.”
“Impossible!” Fred gasped, “the dungeon collapsed into the ground and was sealed.”
“For you, yes,” Anadine agreed, “However, that dungeon had been fighting the slime dungeon while fighting you humans. It created three tunnels that connected it to this dungeon. While the top two had collapsed, the bottom tunnel led into the depths of the destroyed dungeon, specifically, the treasury room. These arms are from there and all possess the demon-bane enchantment.”
“Why do so much?” Fred finally asked as he stood tall, his injuries all healed, “Surely th worth of this is greater than the town’s? Why is your dungeon risking so much?”
“That is not for me to say,” Anadine denied him, “Just know that for this conflict, the dungeon is on your side, and so am I. I must go now.”
“Don’t leave,” Hilda begged, “stay with us!”
“Please don’t go,” Shiva also begged.
Anadine hugged her sisters deeply. “I’m sorry,” she apologized, “but my time as your sister ended a year ago. You must move on and become capable rulers for your people. My fate shall diverge from yours, but know that I still love you and our brother now and forever.”
“Wait, our brother!” Hilda remembered, “Those traitors must have done something to him and the other generals! We need to rescue them.”
“Good luck,” Anadine whispered, and she melted away into the ground.
“Wait, don’t go!” the two sisters tried to keep hold, but the slime slipped through their fingers. Fred and Grecian stopped them from digging into the ground and held them as they cried.
“Grab those weapons and armor!” Fred ordered the townsfolk behind him, “We’re taking them to the army. Then, we’re marching on the noble district!”
The mine was filled with cheers.