Three Irons

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19. Sacrifice

Kannen and her team raced outside to join the Constable and the Cleric. Logs hissed and snapped under low flames.

“What in the world?” Kannen craned her neck, trying to absorb the whole of the creatures before her. Two immense beings. Each had four squat legs that supported an elongated muscular torso. A pair of towering thick arms carried the brunt of the load, connecting to wide shoulders.

One of the towering things tilted its massive head down. Its glowing blue eyes passed judgment on her eternity.

The Cleric stepped in front of the Stranger. “Don’t let them have it.”

“We’ve got another problem,” Kannen said.

The front door to the inn blew off its hinges. The Vicar strode out in his ceremonial black garb. His glare, vacant. Whatever sort of soul he had possessed had been eradicated from this realm.

The Constable’s eyes shifted between the creatures and the holy man. “What happened to him?”

“Murdered the Mayor and the Innkeeper,” Kannen said. “He summoned them.”

Radiant blue light shot from the Vicar’s eyes as he mumbled in a bizarre tongue. He turned his unholy stare on the Stranger.

Kannen lunged to stop him, but came too late. The Vicar drove his blade deep into the Stranger’s back with his left hand, and wrapped his right around the man’s writhing torso in time to catch the stone.

The Constable acted fast, swinging his pickaxe into the flesh of the shoulder of the possessed Vicar. A pink froth sizzled around the wound and dripped to the snow. The Vicar howled and landed a fist on the lawman’s jaw. The Constable stumbled back into the arms of the Cleric.

“How could you possibly comprehend their power?” The Vicar yanked the iron blade from his wound and buried it into the Stranger’s skull. The big man sank to his knees and flopped to one side. “We control the divine!”

Kannen set a boot on the Stranger’s mohawk and heaved on the implement pulling it free. The Vicar held the sapphire jewel aloft. A deep hum grew among the creatures until it shook everything nearby. The Vicar uttered another incantation never taking his glowing gaze off the stone.

“Like hell.” Kannen swung the pickaxe at the Vicar’s upstretched arms. A wave of tingling sparks shot up her arms as her weapon deflected off an unseen shield.

The Vicar shouted another catechism of these ancient travelers. His beaming eyes lit up the gem in his outstretched hands.

“Stop him!” The Constable drew his sword and lunged at the holy man’s midsection. His blade was deflected into the wall of the inn.

“Hold him off until sunrise.” The Cleric turned her gaze to the patch of universe melting into predawn.

Howling winds whipped the Deathwalkers’ fur. All of their disciples fell to their knees and bowed to the might of the gem.

Sun… fire. Kannen’s gaze fell to the smoldering logs. She doused her hand in fresh snow and then thrust it into the fiery bed. At first, she felt the texture of the charred wood. As she approached the Vicar, her weapon’s heat intensified. She drove the flaming branch into the open maw of the entranced priest. The great creature on her right wailed as its fur was consumed in some magical flame.

The gem fell from the Vicar’s trembling hands. Its eternal spring of light all but gone. As Kannen drove her torch deeper into his throat, she saw the light of his own spirit return to his eyes. They begged, pleaded for her to reconsider, but this had all crossed the point of no return.

“May your gods have mercy.” The fiery end of her stick erupted from the back of the man’s neck. “You’ll get none from me!”

The magical blue fire raced up several Deathwalkers until it consumed them and they exploded in a shower of sparks and bolts. The Constable and Cleric joined Kannen with burning logs of their own and lit either of the Vicar’s sleeves. His convulsing form fell to the snow and went up in a flash. The remaining creatures screamed and clawed at their hides desperately wanting their torment to cease. As the Vicar’s body snapped and hissed, each of the creatures melted. The last of the towering beings imploded forming a great vortex. Its spinning void spat out spectral beams of light. The vacuum of the rip sucked in the foul things. Its force tore them to shreds, breaking them down until nothing of their existence remained on this plane. As the sun crept over the crooked peak of their mountain, the cosmic maelstrom shimmered in the crystals of an ice-coated tree branch and disappeared.

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