Andril and Haryk had their hands full holding back the strange monks. Prince Genoran wasn’t making it any easier and their oftentimes immature friend, the druid, was nowhere to be seen. Genoran and a few of his best and most elite Celn fighters were all that was left upon the great ruined platform. Behind them, smoke from the previous battle rose into the air, and still, the monks fought ferociously.
The monks were the most skilled fighters Andril had ever seen, although he was not familiar with their race. Something new he thought. A sign of the times, of the darker times perhaps. They were smart and well trained, and he searched for their leader in the tumult and crowd to no avail– in order to kill him. But he couldn’t find a leader. No one was giving commands.
But then, one did, in fact, make himself known. Swiftly, like a great snake striking, one of the red and black-robed monks swept past Andril’s spell, dodged Haryk’s bullets, and ducked Genoran’s sword. He placed the prince in a perfect headlock and with the prince’s neck held at an angle in between his flexed arms, he called for the others to stop. They did immediately and so did the Celns. Andril noticed that besides they and the prince only two other Celns remained upright, and neither was going to take much more. The two Celns backed towards Andril and Haryk, swords held out. One, Andril recognized as a sergeant who advised Commander Fritz–he was an old man now, although he fought like a much younger one still. The other was a woman, an elf. Smiling, she laughed out loud, spitting blood to her side, and dared the monks to renew their attack. Andril watched and waited. Here comes the news.
The creature holding the Prince was ugly indeed. It had dark leathery skin, stretched over gaunt features. Standing seven or eight feet tall, it’s arms and legs were far longer than a man’s and so were it’s wickedly clawed fingers and toes. It had ears, nearly like an elf but like it’s nose they ended in tips that reminded the mage more of an animal than a man or one of the goodly folk. And yet, the entire face, and most especially the eyes belied a sense of superiority, of intellect. And that’s when Andril knew what he was, and where he came from.
“Your prince dies now, magus,” the creature spoke in it’s gruff yet powerful tone.
“If he dies, you live while I peel your skin from your body,” raged Haryk. “Let him go, you ass faced demon.”
“Now now,” replied the creature in perfect common. It gave a little flex to its long slender arms, and inside the chokehold, Genoran groaned. His legs were dangling on the stones and his neck was near to breaking. It would only take one small twist. “It is but a simple chore to have your Prince back, sheep. Give us your light.”
“Our light?” said both Haryk and Andril at the same time.
“We don’t smoke,” added Haryk. He brought his pistol to his lips and blew the smoke away from its end. Then, he pointed it back at the monk. In response, the monk flexed his arms once more.
Andril shot the fighter a glance and rolled his eyes. Then he fixed his eyes on the demon holding the prince. “What makes you think we carry one of the Lanthorns of Yggrasil, creature of Erebus?”
“Do not play games with me Andril Tainer! One may not walk the path without a light. I will give you but a moment, to decide to give me the artifact without incident, or else I will take it from your dead hands, after I crush your prince’s neck and take his soul’s power for myself!”
As if reading his mind, the other monks rose from their stances to their full height and began to circle around the remaining Celns now alongside Andril and Haryk. There were still over a dozen of the enemy, all formidable. Andril did the math. This wasn’t a fight they were going to win–not this time.
“The prince first. Then, I will hand over the artifact.”
The creature smiled at Andril and seemed to take the briefest of moments to consider it’s next move. It did not look as though it were interested in being told what to do. The moment passed swiftly and its arms tightened around Genoran’s throat. The prince kicked his legs helplessly. The creature was clearly enjoying watching the others. Both Celns rushed forward but were stopped by two of the monks who grabbed their necks in the same wicked headlock. In seconds, they were sprawled upon the stones, their necks twisted around behind their backs.
Genoran yelled as the bones of his neck too began to crunch. The creature roared, gloating with triumph. “You forget you are not the master of anything in the years of light, surface dweller. You forget you are nothing more than sheep for the slaughter!”
And so mocking them, he tightened his hands around the neck of Genoran the prince of Cellinor.
Genoran’s eyes, which had been staring ahead throughout the ordeal, now bulged outwards– their linings tinged red with blood. His breath, his last breath stuck in his throat. And then, the prince let out a mighty last groan of resistance for the creature’s fingers splayed out around his neck. It was a valiant final act, but it was useless. This was not how the Crown Prince was supposed to die.
And as Genoran roared with his final breath, his screams were now matched with the sounds of a shriek, the shriek of the very creature crushing his neck! The monk suddenly broke his hands from his grip and lunged back, leaving Genoran to fall upon the stones of the platform.
And then their enemy did a jig.
With the other monks watching him, right before Andril and Haryk, the demon monk did a two step, his robes swishing around his legs.
Quick as a cat, Andril reached into his spell components pouches and spoke the words of magic. He thrust up his arms in circles and a translucent dome, like a bubble upon the froth in the sea, sprang around them, with the prince inside it as well. The other monks quickly shot forward but once they reached the dome, they bounced off of it as though it were made of solid stone!
Haryk snorted. The magical shield had given him the seconds he needed to re-arm his weapon.
“Why can’t we just have an ordinary fight for once without weird shit happening?”