Chapter 81 - Demons Among Us
Cayla had been running for several minutes looking for her in the disorderly crowd. She didn’t know when it had happened but it was clear that Princess Zelda had disappeared. She tried trailing the dust print tracks across the cave floor but so many were intermingled that it was near impossible to detect which one was Princess Zelda’s. She began to despair until she remembered Zelda showing concern for Link when he was stumbling back to his room. Could she have gone anyway to ensure his safety in getting back to his bed?
With that thought at the forefront of her mind, she dashed up the slope and swooped into the side passage and began sprinting down the hewn corridor. She didn’t know exactly why she felt a certain dread in her heart but there was something not right and she couldn’t put her finger on it. A blood curdling scream rent the night as it echoed down the hallway coming from Link’s chambers. She redoubled her efforts and increased her pace, bringing out her baton in the process.
The cries and screams were getting louder as she rounded the bend and came to his door, it had been left slightly ajar and a familiar voice emanated from within. Someone else was in there with him and it was not Princess Zelda! She slammed the door open to reveal a horrific sight. Sasha was leaning over Link with her belly ripped open, laughing as a terrible demon was forcing its way into Link’s mouth, opening it near to breaking.
“Dear Goddesses,” Cayla whispered, “a Defiler.”
She had heard of these demons before but had never encountered one up close. They were vile demons that killed their victims as they wriggled down their throats, ate their hearts and lungs before taking position as the primary source of life for the host body. They would then implant an egg in the host’s belly that would later mature and remove itself to infect another host.
Sasha spun around and snarled at the intrusion from the one person she did not expect. Without a second thought, Cayla whipped out three daggers and flung them across the room with deadly accuracy. It caught the tail of the demonic bug and skewered it against the wall ripping its talons out from Link’s mouth. Link coughed and hacked as he brought his hand to his bleeding lips, having been scratched profusely by its hook like forearms.
“Cayla?” Link said uncertainly, still clearly intoxicated from the obsidian booze, “What’s going on?”
“Link.” Cayla said firmly, pressing a button at the baton’s base extending the lethal spikes from its tip. “Get away from that demon, now!”
Link wasted no time as he crashed to the floor and crawled on all fours away from the false Sheikah and the writhing demon still attempting to remove the offending knives from its tail. Sasha was insanely quick and leapt upon his prone form before smashing a boot heel on the backside of his wing, right where the fleshy mound and its disgusting growth was. He screeched in abject misery at the pain radiating throughout his wings and body.
“I knew something was wrong with you the moment you came back from that one expedition.” Cayla accused as she vaulted over the rock plinth in the center of the room, bringing the baton swiftly down on Sasha’s cheek drawing blood.
Taking the force of the blow in stride, Sasha twirled around and lifted her leg in a roundhouse kick. Placing the full force of the blow down onto Cayla’s right shoulder, Sasha smashed her to the floor. “You should have killed me when you had the chance then fool! Sasha was dead the moment she faced me!” The false Sheikah cackled.
Recovering quickly, Cayla swept a leg out tripping Sasha onto her rump. The demonic Sheikah flipped over and tackled Cayla to the ground before punching her fist towards her head. Sensing the danger, Cayla shifted her neck to the side as the knuckles contacted bare rock and cracked in several places. Ignoring the searing pain, Sasha raked her claws across Cayla’s face before a swift headbutt to the nose disabled her long enough for Cayla to perform a brutal knee to the groin.
The Sheikah husk rolled off of Cayla, clutching the broken nose. Sniffing up forming blood clots, the demon brought out its own baton and swung it in a short arc towards Cayla’s midriff. Seeing the feint, Cayla brought her baton down as Sasha tried to twist hers upwards into the chin. A loud clang erupted in the room as the two weapons collided. Cayla staggered back to one knee with the force of the blow, the demon must lend incredible strength to its host!
Exploiting the opening, Sasha promptly slammed her fist into Cayla’s gut, making her drop the baton. In a heartbeat, the demon was upon her yet again. Utilizing the momentum of the tackle, Cayla did a backwards roll before kicking the Sheikah off over the stone table. The demon husk landed on its back with a hard thud before rolling down the other side. Cayla bounded up over the plinth and landed with her knee extended to break the sternum bone of Sasha.
With a loud crack, a gasp of air escaped from Sasha when Cayla’s knee connected, a terrible squealing and clicking could be heard within her chest. Link was completely ignoring the raging battle just feet from him as he continued to crawl across the room, his primary goal being the door leading to the outer hall. He cursed as his wings were not obeying him and kept getting caught on every piece of furniture in the chamber.
A small plop and scampering of ticking feet alerted him to the menace that was closing in fast. The insect demon had decided it best to cannibalize its tail to release itself as blackish fluid was oozing out of its exposed rear. With unnatural speed, it skittered across the granite floor before piercing Link’s calves with its two hooks. Link cried out from the sudden sting. It began puncturing its way up his body before wrapping one elongated hook around his neck in an attempt to roll him over for another attempt.
His wings crushed beneath him, he grabbed the revolting thing with both hands as it vainly tried to insert its hooks back into his mouth. For such a small demon, it was extremely heavy and exerted a force that contested Link’s ability to keep it raised aloft over his face. It seemed impossible but it felt like it was getting heavier by the second. Within moments, he couldn’t resist and it gleefully plowed its hooks in and began spreading his mouth wide for the feast.
Link could feel the tendons in his mouth stretching beyond their limit, the skin tearing at the corners of his mouth as the scar grew deeper up the cheek. He could feel in his skull the clicking of its twitching mandibles as its head was roving in between his teeth, seeking to be further inside. His upper skull being pushed back farther than it should ever go. A small pop in his neck signified the upcoming breaking point. He could do nothing but cry, he was too weak to struggle anymore.
The demon was squirming back and forth between his teeth wanting to get the last major hump of its plated back through, a few more millimeters of space and it could flow right in. It shrieked in unintelligible tones as the disembodied head of Sasha smacked it clear out of Link’s mouth. Its hook arms futilely attempted to maintain its hold on his face before it soared through the air and was buried under the tangled, matted hair of Sasha’s head.
Link looked up relieved at his unexpected savior. Cayla had just finished wiping the blood off her boots before turning to smile at him. She realized something was wrong when his eyes dilated. She spun around to see the headless body of Sasha place a hand on the nearby chair and raise itself up to standing height.
“Impossible.” Cayla breathed.
Without a head to speak, the demonic husk couldn’t talk back to her incredulousness. Instead, it took both hands and tore open the broken chest Cayla had cracked earlier revealing the disgusting creature within. It had attached itself to all the life systems of Sasha and was the conduit for her continued existence. Cayla curled her lip as she watched the creature pulsate nauseatingly with the last remaining pumps of blood flowing through the host body.
“What a foul demon you are.” Cayla sneered, noting that the body had taken up the baton and was readying itself for another assault.
“Cayla!” Link yelped, distracting her. The second demon had crawled up from beneath the bloodied head and was scampering over it towards Link yet again. It was determined to feed on his innards.
Utilizing the diversion to its advantage, the husk swung its baton nailing Cayla hard in the hip. She fell to a knee at the sudden shock of metal penetrating her skin. She swung out her own baton at the kneecap of Sasha’s body as she viewed the demon raising its arm high to bring the spikes down onto her head. With a shattering crack, the creature fell to the ground clutching the leg.
Cayla swirled around and whacked the eager insect across the body as it attempted to pounce on Link, making it sail across the room towards the far wall where it smacked into rock before tumbling down into his bed of furs. Link croaked gratefully before being shushed by the Sheikah.
“Now is not the time,” She looked back nervously at the dying body slowly struggling to get back onto its knees. She pulled a small vial from her belt and opened the stopper before placing it under his nose. “Sniff this quickly!” She commanded.
One waft was all it took for his senses to brighten and the stupor of his mind to evaporate. He felt like a new man, the effect of the liquor no longer holding sway over him. With brazen determination, he hopped up to his feet before apparating a jet black sword in his hand. He walked right up to the body of Sasha as it stumbled up onto its feet. Jabbing the sword directly into the thrashing demon, he watched impassively as it clicked its mandibles horribly at him as the steel pierced right through its body. Within moments, the last twitches of Sasha’s husk stopped and it crumpled in a heap onto the floor.
A small clattering against rock alerted his attention towards the other demon quickly making its escape from the room. It had cleared almost half the chamber before Link summoned yet another sword. He took a running leap at the insect and brought his sword straight down into its hard carapace, using the drive of his jump to force the creature into the rock. Its legs thrashed out wildly as it tried ineffectually to remove itself from his weapon. At length, the demon grew still and moved no more.
Link let the two weapons vanish as he stood back up, breathing heavily. He brought a hand to his lips, fingering the fresh tears in his skin. He rotated his neck, feeling several gratifying pops. He wasn’t exactly sure how close he was to death but he shivered at the thought of his body being controlled by something like that.
His gaze followed Cayla’s as she examined the throbbing mound on his wing. “We need to remove that as soon as we can.” She said gravely.
He nodded before asking, “I’m glad you came when you did. What brought you here?”
Breathing a sigh of relief, she pushed back an errant lock of hair with her bloody hand before answering, “I was actually looking for Princess Zelda. She had disappeared shortly after you left. I was hoping she came with you.”
His eyes popped open, “No. She wasn’t with me.”
Her eyes narrowed, “Oh no…if one Defiler is here…there must be more.”
“Defiler?” Link cocked his head dubiously.
“A foul demon of the old world, it takes host victims and makes more of itself to infect others. If one is here, and Zelda is nowhere to be found, I fear the worst!” She said alarmingly.
Realizing the gravity of the situation, Link quickly grabbed his sword and scabbard before buckling it around his hips as he ran out the door, “We have no time to waste! Let’s go!” Cayla followed him out towards the gathering hall where they could hear screaming.
“Are you sure you are ready enough to fight?” Cayla asked, keeping pace with him.
Link indicated with a bow of his head in the affirmative, “Yes. Whatever you had me smell, it really helped.”
They each skidded to a halt as they reached the promontory overlooking the grand hall. It was chaos. Multiple demons were bursting forth from both Sheikah and Goron as they scuttled across the ground, intent on invading their new prey. Many of the remaining Sheikah were doing a valiant job of fending off the disgusting demons, but the majority of the Gorons were too drunk to put up much of an effort. Xavier was quite aware of their situation, seemingly having recovered fast from her drunken state, and was quickly striking multiple targets with her venomous tail.
Cayla swore an oath, “Curse them! They probably chose just the right moment to attack us when our guard was down!” She flicked open the spikes on her baton as she raced down the decline.
“How long were they among us?” Link shouted out to her, sword brandished with lethal intent.
“Defilers are patient demons. They could have been among us for cycles!” Cayla barked back.
Link’s attention was drawn to the center mass of Gorons as several insects were snapping the necks of several Gorons as they entered their mouths. He feared for Darunia who was in the center of that comatose, drunken crowd. They had yet to reach him but it would only be a matter of time. “We can’t allow them to take control over any more Gorons!”
Nodding her assent, she slammed into the first Goron as it tried to swing a fist at her awkwardly. It was clear the obsidian booze still affected the body despite it being controlled by another creature. She raked the baton down the cheek of the Goron drawing lines of deep red. Link followed up behind her by stabbing his sword deep into the heart of the Goron, puncturing the demon within. He could tell he had succeeded when the body flopped over, seemingly losing all control over its motor skills.
Several Gorons were slowly waking up and realizing something was amiss. Link began shouting at them to defend themselves. They were hopelessly confused, they didn’t quite comprehend that certain Gorons were actually threats. Why would their friends be hurting them? Link shook his head in exasperation as he sliced a Defiler in midair as it made a leap towards his face. Its two halves fell to the ground with a sickening squish, its myriad of legs clawing at the air.
He was almost upon Darunia when several Gorons and a Sheikah surrounded him. He turned to Cayla but she was completely absorbed in fighting off several of her own. Apparating a shield, he bashed it into the nearest Goron, fracturing its nose before he leaped above the Sheikah utilizing his wings for loft. He sliced his sword downward, cutting her head in two, knowing it wouldn’t stop the body. He twirled around upon landing and pierced the body through the heart.
Several of the remaining Gorons circled around him intent to crush him beneath their weight. In a moment of clarity, he spun around pushing his sword outwards. In a full arc, the weapon carved the air, splitting their bellies open as entrails and demonic insect spawn flowed out of the collapsing corpses. He ran his sword downward into each wriggling body as each demon tried to scatter.
Link ducked his head low as several knives sailed over his head. He turned in the direction of their target and saw one Goron looking awkwardly at the steel protrusions between his eyes before gripping his hands to his face and screaming. He nodded at Cayla for the save before rushing forward to protect Darunia.
He ran up to the snoring king and slapped him hard across the face. “Wake up Darunia!” He yelled at him.
“Wesh? What’s going on?” He snorted, his eyes lazily taking in the carnage around him. His eyes began to strengthen with resolve as he saw several of his Goron subjects split in two or lying bloodied on the floor. “Who did this?” He roared, getting up to full height.
“Demons! They have infected our ranks and are attacking us from within!” It was the best way Link could describe what was happening to them right now.
“How can we tell who is against us?” He flexed his menacing fists as he prepared to plow into the crowd.
“Look for the scars at the corner of their mouths, that’s where they get in. Anyone who has those is already infected.” He explained.
Darunia looked down on him with curiosity, “You have scars Link, should I attack you too?”
Link sighed exasperatedly, “I managed to escape them before that happened. Would I really be talking to you like I am now if I was one of them?”
“No.” Darunia nodded firmly, this was all so confusing. It was happening too fast but Link provided an anchor that he could hold for his fuzzy mind: destroy all who had scars. With a bellowing cry, he rolled into the nearest batch of defiled Gorons and began smashing heads together and striking others clear across the room. Xavier followed suit and began assisting the Goron king in reestablishing order to the jumbled mess.
Noting that all was starting to turn around, several Sheikah and remaining Gorons were finally stemming the tide and destroying the vile insects. It had been an almost near victory for the demons but Link felt comforted that they had reached them in time. It seemed they had waited for just the right moment to strike, when everyone’s guard was down. If this was what it was like to be drunk, he never wanted to feel that way again. It made him weak and pathetic. He made a committed vow to never let that happen again.
Wiping away the tears from his eyes, he looked around at the carcasses of his Goron friends, his Sheikah confidants. What abominations they were to have friends fight each other in such a fashion. He paced up to Cayla who was putting the finishing touches on one of the last infected Gorons. She turned to him quickly with weapon raised before realizing who it was, “Do not sneak up on me like that Link! I could have killed you!”
“I would have stopped you.” Link smirked. He shortly dropped his cheek as he scanned the hall. “Still no sign of Zelda?”
“No.” Cayla moaned. “I don’t know where she could have gotten off to.”
In a moment of realization, he indicated with his sword down the passage leading to Harkinian’s chambers. “To the king!”
Side by side, they hurried down the rock carved corridor. They turned around the corner and saw several lit torches flanking each door to both Harkinian’s chambers and Darunia’s. With looming fear in his heart, he raced forward before sliding to a halt as the door banged open revealing the occupant within.
The slender form of Thanan proceeded forth through the opening. His rapier calmly at his side, the body of Zelda slumped over his opposite shoulder. He grinned maliciously at them as he raised the point of his steel at their throats. “It has been a long time Link. I trust you have been treated well by my brood?”
No longer surprised at anything that happened now, he spat, “They all fell to my blade quite easily.”
Thanan smiled viciously, “That’s not what I experienced back in your bed. I almost had you in my grasp!”
Link’s eyes swelled, “But…Sasha…you weren’t there!”
Thanan swept his rapier in an arcing motion indicating the entire cavern, “I am everywhere. You cannot escape me. You might kill this body but that does not mean I don’t have brood elsewhere to continue my livelihood!”
Cayla crouched low, ready to spring onto the abhorrent man, “He is a Defiler Link! Anyone he infects becomes one of him.”
“Right you are, my pretty Sheikah.” Thanan sneered, licking his lips and massaging the scar with his tongue. “Won’t you be a succulent thing to consume after this battle has ended?” The man shook his head, dismissing them both, “No matter, I got what I came here for. This was far better than some stupid ruby.” He readjusted the prone body of Zelda on his shoulder.
“Let her go now!” Link warned. “Or do you feel like you’d lose to me?”
Thanan took the boast into consideration, “You truly think you can defeat me? If I last recall, you couldn’t beat me in a fair fight. You had your little bitch distract me and you ran off like the coward you are. Oh, I remember your trickeries.”
“Link!” Cayla hissed. “What are you doing? You seriously aren’t going to face him by yourself?”
Link bowed his head, “I’m not that stupid. But I won’t run away anymore. You are going to die here Thanan. Put Zelda down.”
“Fascinating.” His eyes glinted with the luminescence of the torches. He slowly lowered Zelda down to the rock before rising up with his rapier pointed at them. “Very well. You shall have your wish.”