Chapter 12 - I am Proud
I grabbed Orlai’s hand, pulling her up into the tree,
“Alright,” She sighed, patting herself off, “Now what?” I walked along the branches to a large nest of twigs and climbed in, “Is this a bird’s nest?” I nodded, “It’s giant.” I glanced at her,
“Big nest, big bird.” She shrugged, climbing in after me,
“I’m just saying.” Orlai looked over the edge, wind blowing her short hair, “It’s beautiful up here.” You’re beautiful. I punched myself, shaking my head. She turned to me, “So why are we up here?” I sat down and curled up into a ball among two other eggs, “What the hell are you doing?”
“Acting.” She raised an eyebrow,
“You’re a theatre major now?” I glared flatly at her,
“No, curl up and sit still.”
“This is what we’re doing?” She laughed, sitting next to me, “I got excited when you were suddenly a man on a mission, at least it seemed like you were, talking about this Undead Asylum place and whatnot,” She tucked her knees under her chin and wrapped her arms around her legs, “Here I thought we’d finally be setting off on an adventure. Instead we’re sitting in a nest.” I didn’t respond, waiting patiently. She watched me silently, “So is this all it is?”
“I’m just asking.”
“Yes, quiet.” I closed my eyes, listening to the wind. I could hear distant thumps, slowly growing closer, and braced myself,
“So are we just going to sit here or what?” I waited, “Hey,” Orlai growled, “Stop ignoring me.” She would be noticing the thumps soon, “Dammit will yo-” She cut off. I didn’t have to look to know she was listening, “Is tha-” something closed tightly around me, dragging me up against Orlai, who cried out,
“Hush.” I hissed as The Raven roughly lifted us out of the nest and carried us over the clouds. Orlai’s face was smushed against my arm in an expression of pure terror,
“Me and heights,” She whispered, squeezing her eyes shut, “Are not the best of friends.” I settled in for the flight.
A short time later The Raven dropped us on the cliff of the Undead Asylum in a heap. I extracted myself from Orlai and massaged my stiff neck. Stretching I watched the raven fly off while Orlai lay groaning on the ground,
“We’re not going back on that bird right?” She held one of her arms, “My everything is sore, my arm fell asleep, and I think I’m gonna vomit.” I reached down, pulling her up,
“Come.” She clamored to her feet, shaking herself for a moment before turning to me,
“Alright, what’s the plan then?” She asked, looking at the Asylum, “Jump into a gigantic worm’s mouth then have it carry us into the mountain?” A large, fairly ominous, complex of solid stone set within the mountain sat before us, its exterior crumbling in some places. I walked down the path beneath ruined arches to the massive pair of doors at its entrance,
“Be on guard,” I grunted, eyeing the doors. She scoffed,
“Really? I thought we’d go in naked, all natural and all that.” She drew her broad sword and shield, “So you don’t know what to expect?”
“No,” I shook my head, “My memories are… missing in some cases. This is one of them.” She raised an eyebrow,
“Those were a lot of words at one time, you ok?”
“Impressive.” Reaching the entrance we both looked up at the closed doors, “Should we knock?” Orlai grinned, nudging me. Putting a gauntlet on both doors I pushed. With a low rumble they ground open before me and I dropped my arms, exhaling. I drew my sword and shield, looking around at the interior. Inside was a large room wrecked from the battle that had first raged here in my original escape against the Asylum Demon. Broken pots and smashed pillars lay about the place,
“Damn, what happened here?” Orlai asked stepping up next to me, “Looks like there was a hell of a party.” I nodded,
“An escape.” She glanced at me,
“How can you tell?”
“It was mine.” She frowned,
“You were a loony?” I cocked an eyebrow at her, “Yeah I dunno why I even asked, I already knew.” She stepped forward, “It’s awful qui-” A soon as her boot hit the floor the stone caved with a great crash that shook the whole building. She fell through the hole, landing heavily among the rubble, and looked up at the looming form of the Stray Demon. She raised her sword and shield, stepping back nervously,
“ORLAI!” I roared, jumping at the Demon’s head I guffawed as it impaled me on its spear in mid-air and slammed me into the ground. Why had I felt the need to yell?
Orlai watched in horror as the massive Demon skewered Chosen and hammered him into the ground, dislodging its spear from his body to turn back to her. She stared at him lying motionless in a pile of refuse which Orlai realized was not refuse at all but piles of human bones. They littered the floor in abundance, all of them picked clean of flesh and blood.
The Demon raised its spear, red eyes fixed on Orlai.
She dived, spear burying itself in the wall in an explosion of shattered bones and stone. Orlai tumbled through the bones struggling to find a foothold, spitting out several finger bones, and looked again at the man in black, still motionless. Terror shook her body and numbed her senses, she couldn’t do this alone, she co-
The Demon hit her with the wooden pole of the spear. Flying into the air and bashing against the wall Orlai gasped as the wind left her lungs. She sucked air through clenched teeth, landing on her knees, holding her stomach, unable to breathe as the Demon raised its spear again.
I am proud.
Her jaw clenched.
Gritting her teeth Orlai climbed to her feet, side-stepping the oncoming spear and raising her sword. Plowing through the bone piles she slid beneath the Demon, slashing at one of its legs. It roared in pain and she hopped to her feet, carving its rear with her initials. The Demon spun, and she rolled out of the path of the spear, stabbing the Demon in the stomach when she came up. The spearhead smashed into the ground behind her and she raised her sword for another swing when a blast of force slammed into her. She ricocheted off the Demon, spiraling through the air, crashing back down to the ground. She screamed as she landed, right leg snapping in half, bloody bone poking through her flesh and armor. The Demon raised its spear and impaled her from behind, lifting her into the air. Orlai screamed in agony.
A lightning bolt drilled into the Demon’s head and it dropped its spear, Orlai dislodging from the weapon. She landed in the man in black’s arms, the ivory talisman already out. A bright circle of divine light washed the pain from her body and healed her wounds. He let her down, nodding respectfully to her, and charged the Demon. Orlai exhaled, body trembling, she punched herself to stop the shaking and followed after. The Demon recovered, spear in hand, and swung at the man in black. He rolled under the swing delivering two colossal swings from his great sword before jumping back, Orlai rushing past him,
“NO!” He shouted too late. Orlai sliced at the Demon as its spear crashed down next to her again. She slowly turned her head to see its surface glow. Red energy scorched her body and she was hurled like a ragdoll, skipping off the ground and plowing through the bones. Skidding to a stop she laid motionless, body numb of all sensation. The ground shook with the battle she could not see, head buried in bones. She wondered how the man in black thought of her performance so far. It was her first time after all, she coughed painfully, and surely she wasn’t doing too terribly? Her vision darkened, the numbness beginning to subside. Her face burned as a wet liquid pooled around her head, ribs broken glass, there was so much blood. Why was there so much blood? It hurt to breath. Her consciousness faded.
Orlai wasn’t moving.
I dived, a blast of red energy incinerating a pile of bones behind me, and cleaved the Demon’s leg open. It roared angrily, swiping several times. I dodged each swing, landing two hits. The Demon was on its last legs, covered in its own blood and gore, and I pressed harder with one eye fixed on Orlai’s motionless body. I sliced its rear open and severed one of its legs before it landed another hit on me. Its spear whistled through the air, blade poised to slice me in two. I turned, putting my shield between myself and the cruel spearhead. It hit me like a landslide and I flipped end-over-end bouncing off the ground, regaining control of myself with a roll. I snatched my talisman, summoning a bolt, and put it squarely between the Demon’s eyes, head exploding in a shower of gore. Without missing a beat I threw my sword and shield down, sprinting to Orlai. The Demon’s headless body crashed to the floor and faded away to ash.
Her armor shredded, limbs all bent the wrong ways, bones poking out of her skin, blood everywhere, I didn’t waste time checking for a pulse. Touching the talisman to my head I whispered the incantation, her body snapping and popping back together. Still she was motionless. I tore my gauntlets off and pulled her up to me, fumbling at her neck. I fell back into the bones with relief, holding her close. She was alive.
I started breathing again, pressing my lips to her forehead.
Thank the gods.