Tuan was frozen for a moment and then the voice became all too familiar to him and he turned his head slightly to see.
“Birog?” He smirked. “You wouldn’t kill me”.
“I have killed three hundred this night and maybe ten thousand more when the prophecy is fulfilled, what’s one more death?” The seer said coldly.
“You and your prophecies” He laughed “There’s a new one every week.”
The seer smiled “See for yourself.” She said as she pushed Tuan through the door.
Inside the bed chamber there was little light but Tuan’s eyes quickly adjusted, a beam of moonlight cast across tussled bed linens. Only the vaguest of shapes took form
“So you’ve come to rescue me”. A mocking voice said from the darkness, followed by a mocking laughter as feral eyes stared at the shapeshifter from the corner of the room.
Cur rose from a chair at the side of the bed clad in only a loin cloth. Pitilessly he tore the elegant silken linens from the grand bed. Revealing underneath a slight and strangely beautiful girl with only one giant eye where there should be two. The girl looked roughly manhandled but otherwise alive.
The barbarian tore the fine sheets and wrapped them around himself to form a crude tunic.
The barbarians keen eyes saw the hooded girl follow Tuan out of the darkness of the doorway. His wicked grin growing larger and toothier. He laughed again, his laugh punctuating the sounds of the waves down below and the silence like a crack of thunder. His laughter was like an attack all of its own.
The girl almost winced at the sound of it and tried to hide her face from his scrutiny. She looked down at the girl on the bed with pity and shame “The prophecy has begun, she is with child.”
“What is this nonsense?” Tuan gasped.
“She will give birth to the one that will slay Balor and free this land of the Femorians for good.” Birog spoke softly and from rote as if reading in a trance. “It’s why I brought you here.” She steadied herself letting the knife fall down by her side. “The child of three bloods will be the one to save this land and stop the stone of destiny falling into his grasp.”
“Him who? What are you talking about girl?”
“Elatha, the first born son, high king of the Fomorians. If he takes the stone, if Danu’s power over it weakens and the god of chaos has it under her wing, the world will fall into a blackness it will never wake from. I have seen it.”
Cur snorted. “I care not for this world.” He croaked.
Birog opened her cloak and revealed a strangely shaped object rapped in a lambskin. She carefully unraveled it, the moonlight dancing on the silver arm balanced in her hand. She tossed it as gently as she could at the Firbolg who caught it effortlessly in his one good hand. “It is your world too, Firbolg.”
Cur grinned as if he stared at the back of his enemy while they were taking a piss as he reattached the arm to his burnt misshapen stump. The pain he had quickly forgotten rushing back to him, the arm burned with foul magic. The castle was but a dull glow of the rot but the arm was like a lightning rod for it. And it sent a searing pain through his scars and there was a part of him that even missed it. The pain reminded him that he could feel, it reminded him of his hate.
“Now you die” He cackled.
“The child will surely die without me.”
“I care not for my bastard” He laughed.
“Then what of your own life?”
Suddenly as if through some magic there were noises outside of the door, heavy footfalls and shouting and gibbering in a strange tongue.
Birog smiled and sighed “Our time is short Firbolg, would you waste it on killing me when I am your only means of escape from this place?”
Cur laughed wickedly as he approached. “I will kill you quickly woman.” He croaked raising his sinister silver hand to her throat.
There was a thud and cracking at the door. The Firbolg turned his head and in an instant the seer seemed to dissolve into the crystalline brick of the castle wall.
The Barbarian lunged for her apparition but clutched only air as the witch vanished from sight.
“They’re coming through, prepare yourself!” Tuan shouted.
Cur chuckled at the fear in his voice.
The attackers at the door were little more than beasts in the crudest shape of men. Foul slithery things with misshapen and uneven bodies, some with bulbous blubbering lips and glassy bulging eyes.
They threw their flaccid foul bulk against the door. In an instant it exploded and splintered out and a silver streak reached out and flew like an arrow across a moonless sky.
The barbarian was vicious and brutal beyond measure without a weapon even more so. He was fast and wicked and spared no mercy in savagery. He took the first one so fast it could barely gargle in response it’s doom. The Firbolg took the creature by it’s jaws and tore it almost completely in half as if it were a boneless fish. It’s hot entrails spilled out on onto the crystalline staircase, steaming with its viscious bile. The sound it made was enough to stop any mortal advance.
The other creatures stood frozen not understanding the desolation that leered down at them from the doorway,
Cur could smell their fear, he could hear it in their silence. Taste it in their hesitation, they were but mortal afterall, they feared him and he delighted in it. A wicked grin stretching across his scarred face.
A sword swung by webbed vaguely humanoid hands stuck out of the gloomy darkness and was caught in a silver hand. The barbarian snarled and snapped the crude sword in half. In one fluid motion embedding the uneven shard into a glistening yellow eye that spewed a black vile puss as the creature shrieked in agony.
Cur ripped the sword from the creatures gibbous wretched clawed fingers. With a slow dull pawing he wrenched the crooked snapped blade ripping the creature open from groin to sternum. Without stopping his attack he threw the barely living misshapen thing. Writhing and bloody with a clear blood onto the wide squamous eyes of the onlookers in the darkness.
Without fear or hesitation he threw himself upon them. Spears and teeth and claw pierced his body but naught stopped him. He overcame them like a grave digger gouging through loose earth and muck in his way. Hacking and chopping with a maddening indifference.
The remaining few unbrutalized fled. They ran into the dining hall that was now a mausoleum to the three hundred maidens that watched over the princess. But they didn’t get very far.
Without warning they stopped in their tracks as if they were caught in a net, frozen not from fear but an unseen hand gripping them. Their bodies crumpling and shrinking due to some invisible crushing force. It seemed almost like they were rotting right before the Barbarians eyes. They popped with some exuberant force. Their putrid entrails slapping against the cold walls of the dining hall and it seemed almost turning to dust as they fell.
“You’re not allowed in here” A sickly slight voice said.
The barbarian scanned the room looking for the source of the voice. He smirked broadly as he saw the child standing in the doorway, the child that called himself Balor.
“I was invited” Cur laughed.
“By whom?” The child asked coldly.
“The maid who’s virginity I stole” He roared with a low evil cackling of triumph that echoed through the high ceilinged hall.
The child’s face seemed to swell for a moment and it was as if tiny fingers moved under the surface of his pale and cold looking flesh. The child grinned wickedly as his eyes glowed with a foul purple hue, a strange and evil mist rising from them.
Cur could feel it’s swelling as the child’s eye’s fixed on him, the magic, a pure concentrated intent of death. He could feel his flesh giving way to it, a thousand tiny fingers pulling at it in all directions. The arm responding and his scar burning, the pain sending shivers up his spine telling him that he was alive. The Firbolg raised the silver arm to look as it glowed with a wretched refulgence of evil energy, he clenched the silver fist and at once it was consumed.
“How interesting” The child said. “You should already be dead, no mortal has withstood even a fraction of my eye’s power.”
The barbarian emitted his evil low cackling. “She was your woman then”. The barbarian pointed the tip of the broken sword at the boy “Come boy, I’ll eat you whole!” He roared with laughter, his triumph calling him to him, the blood of ancients screaming in his veins.
Out of the corner of his eye a flash of light, in a moment he was locked swords with the masked man. He was inhumanely strong but Cur deflected his blow. The masked man floated on like a marionette on a string, some hideous clown that had learned to mock the earth’s pull.
The masked man lunged at the barbarian with a strange and ornate conical sword like the head of a lance but it’s swiftness made it seem like the head of pin. Cur struck out at him as his savagery would allow but the masked man moved like no human he’d ever seen before. As if his actions were that of an underwater creature flowing on every crest of wave the barbarians savage movements created. The masked man bobbed like a fishing lure taunting the barbarian as he glided out of his reach. Appearing to dance over the corpses of the maidens without ever touching the ground.
The masked man leapt weightlessly onto one of the banquet tables.
Cur’s blood boiled, he pushed a corpse of one of the maidens out of the way and tossed the banquet table as if it was kindling. But the mask man merely floated to the next slashing with his lithe rapier like sword across the barbarians back as he passed over him.
The barbarian hissed at the masked man who’s body seemed to move directed by an invisible string. Cur lowered his sword for a moment and the masked man saw it and lunged for the barbarians heart piercing him to the hilt.
The barbarian laughed gripping the masked man by his sword arm tightly with his silver fist. Cutting the masked man’s arm clean away with the crude sword, held in his other hand.
The masked creature let out no sound or indication at all of his injury, it recoiled simply as if it were a finger that touched a hot pot without realizing.
Cur looked at the arm he held, watched as it melted and dissolved into nothing. And then over at the masked man at how quickly the arm regrew, but not only the arm, the sword too regrew as if it were a limb of it’s own.
Cur laughed as he pulled the old sword out of his chest, he glanced at the child as he stood in the same spot, watching.
“Shall I tell you how she cried?” He cackled low “How she called for her mother as I took her virginity.”
There was an animal growling coming from the stairs leading to the princess’s bed chamber. A black wolf bore it fangs at the masked man.
Cur sneered at the beast without taking his eyes off the masked man, his foot resting on the corpse of a beautiful maiden with ruby lips. “Stay out of this beast, this is not your concern”. He growled, grinning as he leapt into battle once more.
The two immortals fought on in the field of dead maidens lying like trodden autumn leaves, neither one seeming to tire. The Firbolg only appearing to grow more bold in his exultation, he crowed with vicious glee as he fought the masked creature. Howling with evil laughter as either party landed a lucky blow, however fruitless.
The Firbolg lifted his heavy shoulders, heaving with his breath. His broad back glistened naked with animal sweat as he held his sword aloft grinning like the devil. But his grin dropped for a moment as he felt a cold tug at his leg and for but a split second he looked down to see a bone white hand pulling at his leg. One of the maidens was not quite dead and had clung to the barbarian for whatever reason, be it looking for aid or to hinder the intruder.
Cur’s hate for the Fomor was strong, a vile revulsion rose in him as he looked down at the alien creature. Yet another invader on his once glorious isle looking up at him with hollow pitiful eyes, he hated those eyes, those eyes disgusted him. Without a thought or a pause, merely an instinctual tick, he crushed the maidens skull with the broad heel of his foot. A vile squelching cracking sound echoed in the large hall and Tuan felt his stomach turn.
But the masked man was not so moved, he was on Cur within the two breaths it took for him to take his eyes off his prey. An inhuman strength of a beast ten times his size pinned the barbarian to the wall of the great dining hall.
The masked man’s strange tusklike sword pierced him through the abdomen. Another appeared from the creatures other hand like a cat’s claw and he began to vigorously saw at the Firbolg’s neck.
“Firbolg do you see it?” Tuan shouted.
The attack was fast and vicious beyond that of what a human was capable. The barbarian could feel himself losing consciousness as he lost more blood than the curse could supply. If his head was removed he would surely be at the disadvantage. But the Barbarian’s cares for such concerns and the voice of the shapeshifter too seemed to drift into a numbing void, was it poison? The eye of Balor? The sucking void? He did not know, but he felt his boundless strength slowly waning.