A Crimson Shore 20.4 The Devil Wears…Thrak!

Above them all, Zy’an the monk, knew the battle was turning. At last. He calmed his mind, and steadied himself against his foe.  She had tried any number of spells to subdue him, but he had stayed focused, landing blow upon blow, and he could feel her power dwindling.

All the while, she remained arrogant and evil, and confident. He could feel the emotions off her aura, just as he had trained his mind to understand his own. But now, after the death scream of the second hag below them, he felt something else.  Fear.

He sidestepped, punching and blocking her claws with well timed maneuvers, and using a false step, reached out for a death blow.  But his punch didn’t land.  For the hag’s body had become like an apparition, ethereal!  The ancient hag smiled a devilish smile at him, cackled and then floated out in a wispy form, falling into the hall below.

She’s on her way. Zy’an warned. Running after her, he sprinted to the ledge and jumped over the rail, out into the air.  His magical ring would bring him to the opposite wall where he’s jump again, and again!

Areia had just given the bard the last of her potions. Beneath the rogue’s care, Iricah awoke, feeling at least alive. She’d take it though.  She sputtered and spat, but felt her light come back to her.  Areia answered the monk. She’s on her way down, copy that First floor.  Archives and witches, and air fresheners.

The rogue stood. The hag was no where to be seen. But then, from across the hall, she saw the green eyes hovering.  She looked menacing and angry.  And there was an energy in the air as her dreadful and mocking laughter erupted all around them. Death was coming!

Without warning, the cackling sound abated and words of magic filled their ears. It was putrid and horrible, and they tried to block it but it was no use.  And then, Thrak suddenly flew into the air as if something had simply thrown him around unseen.  He smacked against a bookshelf, and stumbled to get up.  The same thing happened to Iricah and then to Frank. Areia stood her ground, waiting with her daggers out.

Without looking, she could feel a presence behind her. It was the hag, materializing out of the air. She placed a finger on Areia’s neck and the rogue instantly froze. She wanted to scream to the others, but she couldn’t. “Areia, what’s wrong?!” yelled Iricah standing up. Thrak and Frank and now Zy’an who had tumbled off the stairs stood before her. The hag slinking behind holding her hostage.

“Let her go! Or you will die, you disgusting old woman,” yelled Frank. “LET HER GO!”

But the witch only laughed, her finger still lay upon Areia’s neck.  “I will let her go, fear not hero of the realm, oh holy one!” She laughed a demon’s laugh, and moved her other hand behind Areia’s frozen body towards Thrak!

Thrak turned to them, a puzzled look on his face.  And then he stared down at the axe in his hand as it lifted and struck out for Iricah, slashing her shoulder to shreds, cutting deep into her flesh and bone!’ He then began to move towards Zy’an who called for him to stop.  Insidious, and nasty, from behind the rogue, the witch directed Thrak, against his will. Chlamydia moved her hands this way and that and Thrak simply obeyed. Only his eyes betrayed his intention.  As if he were a puppet on a string, Thrak’s form lurched and lunged towards Iricah once more, his great axes swinging in haphazard circles.

That was when Areia felt the other finger slide down her spine and reach for the magical lanthorn.  No she cried out to the others.  No, she’s taking the light.  No!

“You foolish girl, thank you for bringing me my heart’s desire,” whispered the devil into her ear.  “I have been waiting for you to bring it to me once more for these many years.  And now, you have.”

The lanthorn released from the rogue’s belt, now firmly in the hand of Clamydia. This whole thing has been a trap, but not for us. She wanted the light! Oh, someone stop her.  Stop her!

Even though Thrak continued to strike out at them, Areia’s mental message moved them to action, but it was too late.  With the hag’s laughter in her ear, she once more faded into the ether. They were helpless to stop her!

There was nothing they could do.  The light, their only protection from what was to come, would be taken.

The hag pulled the lanthorn away, into the ether with her, and that was when Areia’s sleeve once more slipped off, and the Lanthorn’s glow shone bright and brilliant.  It began to grow out like the sun, blighting every shadow that existed in the archive. It was all encompassing. All powerful.  And as it’s fiery rays struck the hag, just when she came  back into being.  She materialized, right before Areia once more. The look of absolute triumph on her face faded to agonized fear.

Areia turned, no longer frozen, and sank her daggers, both together, into the hag’s heart. Blood spurted out through her wound, and her mouth while she screamed pure hatred.

“I’ll take that back, if you don’t mind,” sighed the rogue, grabbing it from the witch’s hand.  It’s body hissed and squelched under its cloak and puddled around her feet.

“How? How did you do that?!!!” Yipped Thrak, now back to himself. His eyes though her still wide, but now with wonder.

“A true rogue always has one more trick up their sleeve, master Thrak.”



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