It was Simieon who spotted the group as they turned the corner and moved down the street to join them. They hardly looked inconspicuous as they drew closer. Peer was leading the way in his strange blue robe that he worn on stage flanked by Helena in her skimpy but effective Amazon armour, behind them came Ludwig in his black full plate and a slight figure that was to make both the Darkhorns angry and concerned at the same time.
“Oh Gods look at them!” Simieon snorted. “They couldn’t have made it more obvious they were coming if they tried.”
“What is she doing there?!” Dannia hissed angrily when she spied the slight figure of Alison at the back. “Do they think this is some sort of children’s game?!”
“Come on let’s go down and sort this mess out.” Simieon was just as annoyed as she was but he knew that the girl had every right to be here after everything they had done to her. After all she was the one most affected by the schools cruelty.
Peer nodded curtly to them as they exited from the buildings shadow.
“Before you say anything I argued with her till I was blue in the face that she couldn’t come but as you can see it was a waste of time.” It was obvious that Peer was just as irritated as they were. “She had the cheek to finally agree with me and then sneak out after us and followed.”
“That wouldn’t be difficult would it considering you’re all parading around in plain sight?” Dannia said hotly
“Nonsense I had us cloaked until we turned the corner.” Peer said huffily.
“Then how did she follow you?” Dannia asked through gritted teeth.
“Hello I am here you know.” Alison interrupted peevishly. “It was easy I just followed the sound of Father Ludwig’s armour and his continual moaning.”
Simieon couldn’t help but stifle a smile. He then attempted to look stern as he rebuked the girl.
“We didn’t want you here girl.” He told her trying manfully to look stern but only succeeding in looking constipated. “We didn’t want you here girl but you are so try and keep out of trouble and out of our way.”
The girl looked ready to argue but stopped as Dannia gently took her chin and turn her head to look at her.
“Is that understood Alison, I can’t do my job properly if I’m constantly worrying about you girl.” Dannia said staring deep into the young woman’s eyes. “Understood?”
“Yes Lady Dannia.” To give her her due the girl did look contrite.
“Ach girls! Keep with Helena.”
“I will look after her, yes.” The young Amazon beamed at the pair of them.
“Yes if you would Helena. Peer I assume the shields back up?”
“Of course.” The little man said a little testily.
“Then in that case have a look at that house over there, the one with the marbled portico, if you would please?” Dannia asked him as she unclipped the safety clips on her many knives.
Peer stood still for a moment and then began passing a hand backward and forwards in front of his eyes.
“What made you suspicious of it?” He asked distractedly. “You’re right by the way. It’s some sort of reflection field illusion, mechanically generated I should imagine. Probably a reflection of a real house somewhere else, possibly in the next street.”
“That’s quite apt considering it was the lack of a reflected image of Luna that did it.” Simieon replied pointing up at the bright full Luna that graced the sky.
“I see.” Peer made a grabbing motion with his free had as if grabbing a curtain and drawing it back. The image rippled a moment before moving aside to reveal a sloping wooden hut attached to the door. “A very crude illusion.” He sniffed dismissively.
“Stay here a moment while Simieon and I check it out for any surprises.” Dannia instructed before padding over to join her husband at the now revealed door. It wasn’t long before she signalled the others to join her.
“Rank amateurs, no traps and a basic lock.” She said scornfully.
She pushed the door open to reveal a steep set of stairs descending into the earth. As they began their descent the door swung shut plunging them all into a thick cloying darkness.
“Murder!!” Though both Dannia and Simieon could see in very low light they were as blind as their human companions in this blackness. Both Peer and Ludwig had an advantage in being able to see heat traces even in total darkness.
A softly glowing ball of light appeared before them illuminating them all like some will-o-the-Wisp.
Simieon coughed nervously.
“I hope one of you created that?” He said trying to keep calm. “If not we’re in serious trouble.”
Peer flicked his finger and the glowing orb descended a short way down the stairs.
“It’s definitely one of mine shall we follow it and see where it leads?” He said with a smile.
Simieon rolled his eyes at the little mans sense of humour before breaking out in a relieved wide grin.
Simieon and Dannia led the way down checking for any traps on the way.
They eventually reached a landing from which four doors led off, three of wood and one of iron. Two of the wooden doors were to their right and left with the other next to the opening they had entered by. The impressive metal door was directly in front of them.
Suddenly Ludwig began acting strangely, sweeping his mace backward and forward in front of him with explosive grunts.
“Quick get hold of Ludwig the strain has unhinged him.” Simieon hissed.
“Unhinged my foot he’s under attack.” Dannia cried pulling out her short sword and long knife. “Peer, expose them!”
With a wave of his hand the orb of light flared brighter exposing the three black clad assailants. Totally exposed they had to change their tactics from a concerted attack on Ludwig to a defensive wedge. They still had the advantage as the confined space made it nigh on impossible for a Dannia and the others to work as a team; they simply go in each others way.
It was Helena who broke the deadlock in her simple direct way. Using her shield as a battering ram she drove into the wedge using her incredible strength to force them back against the wall and break their cohesion. Every attempt to attack her was blocked by the shield before being counter attacked by her sweeping axe. Limbs and heads flew off as she pressed forward her own attack soon she was surrounded by three corpses spewing their life’s blood across the tiled floor.
“How did you know they were there Ludwig?” Peer asked as they sat in one of the side rooms a little later.
“They had used one of my potions.” Ludwig replied a little red faced. “I must have used too much essence of radishes either that or it was the spring onions. One of them passed wind heavily and I heard and smelt it.”
Peer roared with laughter.
“You recognised your own handy work then?” Peer asked wiping the tears from his eyes.
“Of course I do I’m a bloody professional man!” Ludwig raged which only sent Peer into further paroxysms of laughter.
The room they were in was a small dormitory and work room kitted out for three occupiers as was the room opposite. A form of small barracks if you will comprising of three bunks, a small table and chairs, and three small cupboards containing personal effects. The personal effects didn’t reveal much that could be used to identify them but Dannia found two gold rings which she pocketed.
The metal door had been a disappointment revealing not a treasure trove, as Dannia had hoped, but sides of meat. It was a meat safe as opposed to being a gem safe. The final wooden door, the one next to the opening through which they had entered opened to reveal another staircase descending into the stygian depths. From deep below they could hear the sound of water lapping on to a shingle shore, or to be more precise the sound of the sewers.
When they exited from the stairwell they found themselves on a small jetty that jutted out into the fast flow of the underground river that served as the main sewer of the town. Tied up against the jetty was a small sailing skiff which was obviously used for smuggling and several large rowing boats.
“Lady Dannia one of the rowing boats has gone. Look you can still see the footprints on the wet wood.” Dannia crossed to where the young Amazon was pointing and could see the very pale shape of a human foot on the wet board and smelt Carder Moore’s stale stink on the air.
“Surely they can’t row in this millrace the flow is to powerful.” Simieon commented looking extremely uncomfortable at the thought of going on the water.
“Going down stream is easy you just let the river take you coming back would be the problem.” Peer commented.
“No not really.” Alison called pointing to a well anchored pulley attached to the granite wall. “Look Lady Dannia. All they have to do is hook the boat to the pulley somehow and then haul themselves back here.”
“Well done Alison.” Dannia patted the girls arm. “All we have to do is follow the rope. Come on into the rowing boats.”
Reluctantly Simieon joined the Dannia and Alison at the front of the boat while Peer and Ludwig sat with the oars just in front of them and finally Helena took the tiller.
Alison had suggested that they attached the little skiff to the rope somehow to keep them on the right track but that had proven, much to Simieon’s chagrin, impossible to do. Soon they were bobbing quite violently along down stream with Helena straining on the tiller to keep them close to the rope her muscular arms veins standing out clearly from the strain. Ludwig and Peer under Helena’s clear instructions used their oars to help steer the craft.
It was about half an hour later that Dannia noticed the rope went through another pulley and turned left into a far calmer stretch of water. She signalled to Helena what she had seen and was gratified to see the young woman nod and steer the boat toward the gap. The boat bucked like a wild mustang as it ploughed over the fast flowing centre of the river toward the rapidly approaching entrance on the left. Water crashed over the side threatening to sink the boat at any moment soaking those within. If they missed the entrance they would be swept to who knows where. Rowing for all they were worth the Gnomes pull the boat around and aimed it for the gap. Leaving Alison in the front Dannia and Simieon slipped beside the other pair and added their strength to the shaking oars. The power of the river threatened to smash them against the entrance way but somehow they made it into the calmer waters within. Pulling together they made it to the jetty where after tying up they collapsed totally exhausted by the ordeal over the oars. Well not all of them there was one who appeared fresh as a daisy.
“That was fun, yes. Not as good as sailing into the narrows of Caribdis, the whirlpool, but still good.” Helena enthused.
“Is she real?” A green Simieon asked trying manfully to hold on to his supper and probably his dinner too.
“Yes I’m afraid so.” Peer replied stretching to ease his muscles.
“Helena why on earth aren’t you tired like the rest of us?” Simieon asked.
“I am fit and strong, yes.” No one could argue with that so they wearily disembarked from the boat and followed her over to the other side of the jetty where a similar rowing boat was tied up. Again that strange musty smell assailed Dannia’s nostrils and got stronger as she approached the stair well in the far wall. She signalled for the others to follow her weapons in hand up the stairs toward what she hoped would be Carder’s lair.
The stairs were steep and wound around a central pillar like you would expect to find in a castles turret. It eventually disgorged onto a set of corridors radiating from the stair well like the spokes of a wheel.
“Now what?” Simieon asked as his eyes became accustom to the flickering light of the many torches that lit the hallways.
“We take them one by one together; we can’t afford to split our resources by separating.” Dannia was about to carry on in a similar vein when she noticed that Alison had wandered off and was listening at a door down the corridor. “Girl, come here!” She hissed.
“Lady Dannia I can hear voices in this one and moaning. It could be the girl.” Dannia crept to the girl’s side as the others separated against her wishes to investigate the other corridors.
Listening at the door and Dannia had to agree that there was moaning coming from the room. With her sword held high for a quick strike she rested her hand on the door handle ready to enter. She was stopped by a sudden exclamation from down another corridor.
“Sorry Madam the wrong door.” Ludwig said loudly. “Sorry for the intrusion, sorry sir.”
“So I should think so, barging in like that.” A shrill woman’s voice screeched. “You’ve add your look now bugger off.”
With another quick apology he shut the door.
“Ah she was ahem entertaining a gentleman shall we say.” Ludwig’s embarrassed face appeared around the corner.
Dannia put a finger to her lips to try and shut him up but it was too late as she heard movement from within the room. Acting quickly she pulled off a group of fresh skins off the pile on the rack by the door and dumped them in Alison’s hands before knocking loudly on the door.
After a moment the door opened a crack allowing the female occupant to peer out.
“Madam has sent us to bring fresh skins for you love.” Dannia said politely.
“Madam Gabrielle normally has them left by the door?” The voice said suspiciously.
“Miss Gabrielle wants to get a better class of clientele so she’s improving the service.” Dannia leaned forward as if imparting a great secret. “I said to Luce here, I said what a waste of our time how is this going to make it any better.”
Alison nodded dumbly.
“You better come in but be quick I have a client waiting.” The woman opened the door fully to reveal a naked quite scrawny woman of horizontal pleasure who was at that point in her age where everything moves south for the winter. On the bed laid a lecherous naked man trying to cover his massive engorged member behind his town guard’s metal pot helmet.
“Sorry to disturb you sir I’ll just be a minute.” Swiftly they changed the rugs and left. When she met up with the others in the central area it was to find the others had similar experiences.
“We’re in a brothel being run by the high class Madam Miss Gabrielle Dolour the owner of the best entertainment spot, the ‘El Pariso’, in the city.” Dannia told the others with a smirk at their obvious embarrassment. “Mind you with what I’ve just seen this must be the lower end of the scale.”
“I thought Gabrielle didn’t have anything to do with child prostitution?” Simieon asked bitterly.
“So did I!” Dannia replied darkly. “So did I”
It was Helena a few corridors and stairwells later that picked up Carders unmistakable scent once more. It led to a fresh stairwell that was hidden by a little worse for wear tapestry.
“Hello Dannia are you after me.” An effeminate voice called. “I am so sorry I haven’t been able to help with the soup runs at the temple but I’ve been sooo busy, I’ve been run of my feet. I can’t chat long as our madam has got three high-class guests waiting for me to entertain. I hope they’re more considerate and gentle than the last lot my arse was sore for a week after that.”
Dannia turned and saw a slim black man draped around a doorway, his lips cherry red and his eyelids picked out with blue while his wig was a corn yellow marvel. A shapely leg poking out of the red toga he was wearing caressed the doorframe seductively. “Hello Steven.” Dannia said with a wide grin well aware of the impact Steven Cockerel was having on the others. “No I’m not after you my beauty not this time. I’m after that sweat rag Carder Moore have you seen him my beautiful diva I understood he was here?”
“I don’t know why you would want him dear he stinks to high heaven and has the manners of a pig.” Steven wafted a rose scented cloth under nose as if the sheer mention of the man’s name conjured up his sour odour. “He’ll be down in that filthy dungeon of his preparing it for who knows what. He’s got bruisers down there that would make your eyes water dear. He’s probably getting it ready for his Hell Fire Club I shouldn’t wonder. He gets a lot of the young bucks from the rich families down there pretending to do black magic.” The man couldn’t help himself and fluttered his eyes and licked his lips seductively as he stared at a rapidly colouring Ludwig.
“Hands off Steven he’s a priest.” Simieon warned.
“Oh that doesn’t matter dear boy I’ve had them all, priests, bishops and even a visiting archimandrite, now there was a funny fellow I can tell you.” Steven crossed to the door that was hidden by the tapestry and pressed three blocks beside it. With a click the door swung open. “There you go my dears but its better you don’t mention I let you in as he thinks he’s the only one who can open it. Must dash my dears.”
“Thank you for the help Steven but I still expect you at the temple on eight day for the soup run.” Dannia called.
The male prostitute wrinkled his nose in mock revulsion before giving Dannia a beaming smile.
“See you there you little angel you.” With that he sashayed back into his room pausing only to stoke the Gnome clerics flushed cheek. “Come and see me later sweet cheeks.”
The dark corridor led into a dimly lit anteroom that was open on its right side to a much larger hall full of mock torture equipment, low couches and equally low tables, a schoolboy’s image of a daemons worshipers’ dungeon.
“Dannia my friend?” Helena said with a worried frown on her face. “That Steven was a man, yes, then why is he wearing women’s clothes and hair? It is perverted yes.”
Dannia sighed and patted the Amazons arm affectionately.
“He is an actor, of sorts, Helena. As you know women aren’t allowed to be actors so some of the men have to play the woman’s parts.” She explained.
The young woman nodded.
“He is like us, yes.”
“Yes.” Dannia agreed before adding with a grin. “But his shows are of a more intimate nature, more one to one than big theatres.”
“Then I like him.” Helena said with a beaming smile.
“That’s nice to know.” Simieon said a little sparkly as he examined the doorway. “We’ve got a problem Dannia the doorway is trapped but the control wire is the other side in the doorway opposite.”
Dannia studied the distance between the two doors carefully for a moment before looking up at the three wooden wheels that were used as candelabras. The distance from doorway to doorway was about ten to twelve foot far too far to successfully jump across.
“Helena my friend how far can you throw me?” Dannia finally asked.
The Amazon bent down and gently took her by the waist in both hands and lifted her up. As if judging the little Halflings weight Helena raised and lowered her a few times before answering.
“No friend Dannia I can not throw you across the room like this and I have no room to turn and get speed to propel you over.”
Dannia smiled tightly.
“What if I provided the speed?”
A little later Helena was squatting in the doorway the muscles of her tights showing starkly as she cradled her hands together in her lap as a stirrup.
Dannia exploded from the stairwell in a series of ever tighter, ever faster, summersaults to land lightly into Helena’s cupped hands. As soon as she touched down Helena exploded upward driving Dannia upward by virtue of her leg and arm power over her head and sailing into the air.
Dannia impacted with the first wheel sending it swinging across to the second with Dannia spinning off it to grasp and release the second and then the third before with a perfect layout she launched herself toward the target threshold.
“She’s going to be short.” Simieon cried. “You’re too short.”
They watched as if in slow motion Dannia drop toward a deadly encounter only for her to twist in midair to land with the lightest of touches and a summersault backward in the doorway.
“I enjoyed that.” Dannia panted when her flushed face reappeared around the door jam. “I’ve neutralised the trap it was quite crude actually.”
“Friend Dannia you are safe, no.” Helena inquired worriedly.
“I’m fine thanks to you my friend.”
“But this Carder Moore can not have come this way he would not have got across like you my friend.” Helena continued.
There was a pregnant pause for a moment.
“That’s because he set it when he reached here. He knows we’re coming.” Dannia replied glancing over her shoulder.
“Get back over here now!!” Simieon yelled but it was to late the door on Dannia’s side slammed shut and they heard a scuffle and a thump then nothing.
Dannia had been caught.
Dannia’s head ached as she slowly climbed out of the darkness into the light of consciousness which is a posh way of saying she came too.
She deliberately kept her body loose and her eyes shut as she extended her other senses out into the space around her. The sour smell of Carder struck her nostrils like the odour of an overflowing latrine but there was something else, a musty odour mixed with unction’s and oils that she couldn’t quite recognise.
As for sound she could hear hoarse panicked breathing in front of her as if the owner couldn’t catch their breath. And she could hear Carder moving around the room.
She was bound not at the wrists but by her upper arms and shoulders to a heavy chair but her legs were free and dangled down unable to touch the floor.
“Look my precious, look how skill she is in pretending that she is still unconscious when all the while she is checking where she is.” Carders voice was sweet like sticky molasses. “You can open your eyes now Lady Dannia.”
Realising it was pointless continuing carrying on the charade she complied.
“Yuck, what a sight to see when you wake up. You’re an ugly bugger Carder.” Dannia quipped.
Directly opposite where Dannia was tied sat the semi naked shape of Yvette equally bound to a chair with a steel band around her neck that was obviously restricting her breathing. The poor girl was terrified as Carder manipulated one of her bare breasts. This wasn’t some private kinky game it was for real.
“Is this the way you get your fun Carder or is this the only way you can get female company.” Dannia taunted as she subtlety checked the strength of her bonds by flexing her muscles gently.
“Oh she is good my sweet.” He ran the back of his hand down the girls face in what passed for a lovers touch. “See how excited she becomes from my touch Lady Dannia. How her breath shortens with passion and pleasure.” He was positively crooning. “See how her breasts rise and fall so rapidly with desire. Soon my precious, soon you will feel the pleasure of total release.”
His face was flushed and his pupils wide from some narcotic.
Dannia turned her head around as if trying to easy a crick in the neck but couldn’t make much out of the rest of the room other than that what was illuminated in the circle of light from the solitary torch. Though she had a feeling of watching human shapes in the room she couldn’t detect movement or any breathing, as if they were holding their collective breath for some finale to come.
“What is it Carder can’t you function without an audience?” She said trying to provoke the man into giving away anything she could use against him.
He smiled a sickly smile.
“Isn’t she beautiful children? Do you think she should join us?” He paused as if waiting for a reply before tightening the band around the poor girl’s neck a notch via a screw at the back.
“Oh my god it’s a garrotte! Carder I can give you the best sex you’ve ever had but you must release the girl. For the love of Huron your killing her!” Dannia strained against her bonds triggering the smallest of her gem knives to fall into her hand.
“Look how she gasps for me, begging me for release.” He ran his hand over her still developing breast buds down to the down covered area between her legs. Tears ran down the child’s face as she fought to breathe. “They hired me to find the missing children the council did, made me a constable did you know that? Oh I found a few bad men just to keep them quiet but they didn’t know, how could they know, that it was me.”
Dannia strained against the ropes and twisted the knife around in her hand until it could touch the bottom rope; barely touch the bottom rope, that bound her.
“I even tried to join the assassin’s guild but I was not the right sort for them oh no. I was from the wrong part of the town. So I set up on my own doing hits for the local gang leaders and even created my own guild and hired others. Made a pretty penny too.” He caressed the girl once again making Dannia want to vomit.
“I know you’re all watching but I’m begging you stop him before he kills her!” Dannia yelled to the unseen others that stood in the dark. “I’ll put on a sex and deviant show like you’ve never seen before if you free her!”
“Why don’t I put it to the vote?” Carder laughed as he lit a fresh taper. “Come on girls I can’t hear you.” He went from wall sconce to wall sconce until all the torches were lit. In the flickering light Dannia saw the full horror, the extent of the man’s depravity. Everywhere the stuffed and mounted naked bodies of the missing girls stood, knelt and laid all in readiness to receive him in any of their openings.
Their ages ranged from six to eleven all of them painted and coffered.
He was stroking the body of a startlingly beautiful black girl of around eleven, one of only a few she’d ever seen, who’s large bust, narrow hips and plump round bottom belied her age.
“She is my favourite. A little exotic don’t you think. Oh but you Lady Dannia will the prize of my collection I can’t wait to have you.”
“But you can Carder right now while I’m still alive.” Dannia replied deliberately describing in great detail what she could do for him in the most erotic and sultry voice she could muster.
“Oh no!” He said angrily. “I know if I released you I’d be dead in seconds. I know who and what you are Dannia Darkhorn, guard, scout, charity worker I know what you truly are.” His voice was soft and sibilant as if a snake had learnt to talk. “You are the best assassin ever and that is why ‘Nocturne’ wants you dead.”
“I don’t understand what you’re talking about Carder but my offer is true.” Dannia persisted reeling from the revelation that Carder knew her enemy. “Who is this Nocturne, I thought it was a piece of music?”
“Don’t lie! It’s not nice to lie! You don’t know who ‘Nocturne’ is then why are you here. You know who she is, who else could know you better than your so called friend! So don’t lie!” He struck her so hard across the face it made her cheek glow bright red and blood trickle from her cut lip. But as quickly as his anger appeared it dissipated and his voice became cooing once more. “You’re just like me. You love it so much, to feel the life of your victim trickle away like sand, to watch their feet dance the last dance as you squeeze the breath out of them.”
“I am nothing like you Carder, nothing!!!” Dannia replied fiercely.
“Oh I think the lady protests too much. I’ve seen your work. Your incredible skill.” The man was positively drooling with sexual excitement. “I was the one who gave the girls their cards and instructions; I was the one who took them to their ambush points! I was the one who took to your home the trap setters and left the girl sorceress behind! I stayed in the shadows in front of the house and I saw you enter.” He drew a breath and shuddered with pleasure. “I saw the torch light from your window and thought you were dead. I waited awhile before going up to collect the girl and what did I find? All the traps piled neatly on your table and no sign of the girl. But I found her you see, I found some blood around the toilet seat. Oh you cleaned up so well but you missed that spot as you tipped what remained of her into the cesspool. She was still alive in there did you know that, floating in the shit. It took me four attempts to drown her in the end; I had to hold her beneath the surface with a pole for quite awhile.” He licked his lips like a connoisseur tasting a fine wine. “You had done a beautiful job on her, me I would have simply cut her throat but not you, you carved slices off her so delicately to ensure maximum pain. Oh yes you’re just like me you glorify in another’s pain. It gives you such a sexual high that must be satisfied at once. I found your bedroom and smelt the odour of sex in the air and recognised the disarray for what it was.”
Dannia stopped struggling and slumped head down in shock.
“If I’m a pervert then you are one far worse than me, far worse than I could ever be. You do it for money too and not just for pleasure.” He swooped onto the girl like a sex starved fiend, groping her breasts and forcing his body between her legs as he turned the band another notch.
Dannia didn’t move she just stared at the floor tearfully saying over and over again.
“I not like you. I’m not like you!” Each repetition growing louder and more filled with anger and shame until she was screaming it with all the power she could muster.
Then came a knock at the door, well not a knock exactly more an explosion as it flew off its hinges from a powerful kick. Helena stood framed in the doorway her axe dripping blood onto the floor, her body covered with small cuts. She took in the room rapidly before flying into a towering rage that distorted her sweet natured face into the mask of a demon. But that pause at the threshold gave Carder all the time he needed to grab his steel shod mace and prepare to meet the Amazons rush with one of his own.
“Pervert!!! I will kill you without honour for this!” She screamed before thundering into the room her axe a blur of silver before her.
Surprisingly he met Helena’s fury with his own rage smashing aside her axe with his mace. The weapons crashed together again and again swinging dangerously close to where the two women were bound.
Dannia was frantic the girl opposite had wet herself whether in fear or in her death throws she didn’t know all she was certain of was she had to be freed quickly. Then she saw the others, splattered with blood in torn and battered armour, at the doorway.
“Save the girl!!!” She screamed above the grunts and cries of the two combatants. “She’s being strangled!!”
Simieon, Peer and Ludwig acknowledged and rush to the girl’s chair. But it soon became apparent that freeing her would be no easy task and made even harder by Helena’s and Carder’s combat.
“I can’t get to the mechanism it’s to well shielded.” Simieon yelled. “Don’t turn the key you idiot your tightening it!!”
“I tried to turn the key backward but it won’t go!” Peer yelled back over the din. “I can’t use magic to cut it it’s to close to her skin.”
“Off course not there’s a locking ratchet you have to release first.”
“Hurry! I don’t know how but I can see inside her body! Her voice box is crushed as is her windpipe but I can heal that but not while she is in there!” Ludwig added to the pandemonium as Alison, sporting a black eye and several small cuts, rushed over to Dannia side and began to cut into her bonds.
What Dannia feared was happening after her first rage filled rush Helena was beginning to weaken. She was being careful not to endanger those around her whilst Carder had no such concerns, which was giving him an advantage however slight.
Helena gave a back hand slash with her axe that skimmed just over Carders ducking head to impact with the coloured girl’s long neck chopping of her head, making it pop up in the air like a ball.
“Murderer!!!” Carder flew into a rage that was just as fearsome as Helena’s initial fury. His mace whirled in reckless sweeps that drove the Amazon back a couple of steps ever closer to were the others worked franticly to free the young girl.
Alison suddenly swept up the little shard knife out of Dannia’s hand and threw it with all the strength she could muster at Carder. Her aim may not have been perfect but it had the desired effect as it sunk deep into his bicep. The surprise and pain was enough for him to falter and miss time his sweep leaving him wide open to Helena’s counter.
“Don’t kill him!!!” Dannia screeched but it was too late as with a backhand sweep of her own Helena neatly decapitated him sending his head flying through the air to land ironically beside the coloured girl’s their lips just touching in a dying kiss.
As Carders life blood pumped like a fountain over the weary Amazon as it collapsed she tilted her head and let out a blood curdling warble of success; the Amazon’s Afric war cry.
“Helena quickly we need to get this band of this girl!” Ludwig called.
Helena loped forward and grabbed the band as it entered the mechanism from either side where it lifted away from the girl’s skin and flexing her muscles she began to pull. The instrument of torture groaned under the pressure as Helena’s muscles bulged and the veins stood out starkly against her flesh with her effort. Then suddenly with a loud screeching sound the internal ratchet sheered and splintered apart freeing the neck band. Helena threw it away and with surprising gentleness lifted the poor girl of the chair and took her swiftly to Carders bed smashing away the stuffed corpse that already laid there.
“Is she alright? For the gods sake someone answer me is she all right!!!” Dannia bellowed.
Ludwig turned slowly from the bedside tears streaking his bloody face.
“We were too late, just too late.” He said with a choked voice.
“She’s just slipped away. There was nothing we could do.” Peer said sadly, he too close to tears.
“What use is this special sight if I can’t save people?!” Ludwig looked up toward the ceiling and cursed the God’s who failed him when he needed them.
Simieon crossed to where his now freed wife sat head in her hands in total despair.
“Are you all right?” He asked feeling stupid as soon as the words had left his mouth.
Dannia said nothing for a long moment just sat there staring at the floor.
When she did speak it was barely a whisper.
“Take the girl to the temple and find out if she has a family.” Dannia told him.
“Yes we will darling.” Simeon was worried but tried to hide it as he signalled to the others.
“Will you all leave me? I just want to be alone for awhile. No arguments please.” Dannia told them. “Simieon if Steven is back from his ah ‘Show’ have him show you a quiet way out. I’ll meet you back at the temple.”
“We have dispatched the guards this pervert sent against us so you should be safe. Yes.” Helena said gently kissing Dannia’s cheek. “Do not wait long it is not good to brood, no.”
She crossed to the bed and with great care and respect lifted the girl into her arms and led the rest out. Simieon paused by the doorway and looked back at his defeated wife who sat once again staring at the floor. Every sinew, every fibre of his body yearned to rush to her side and take her into his arms and comfort her but he knew his beloved wife too well and knew that this time he must obey her wishes and leave her alone.
A short while after they had gone she lifted her head and looked around the room at all the corpses scattered around and sighed.
“These are at your door ‘Nocturne’ and I will make you pay.” She looked at Carders corpse and pulled up her hood and gauze face mask such that only her fiercely glowing eyes could be seen. “No I’m not the same as you Carder I don’t prey on innocent children who can’t strike back. I have one more target to bring to book and then I am done with this life and city. I know who you are now ‘Nocturne’ and it’s time to pay the piper. No I’m not like you.” The final words were full of doubt but with that she stealthily left.