TKoT Vol. 3: Chains of the Heart

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17: Hold the Line!

Those that were asleep started to wake, feeling somewhat anxious, not understanding what the threat was. Clara was shouting as she donned her metal breastplate and greaves. Varriss was waking those that did not wake at Andreas' first call.

Master Hoko groggily walked over to Master Martin, “What’s going on?”

“Ward Pack Demons, at least 20 or more heading this way. Andrea spotted them while patrolling the perimeter of the camp. We are waking up as many people as we can before they get here. Should be in a matter of minutes.” Master Martin states.

“Get into defensive formations, everybody!” Master Hoko shouted. “Looks like as expected, the closer we get to the Vault, we will encounter the first of the roaming guardians.”

The camp prepared for a fight. Wardpack demons could climb well, so no archers in trees, several bowmen set up on the wagons for a bit of extra height above the warriors. Master Raven cast spells to aid in defense and morale, calling on the Goddess Opal. Other casters started summoning small to medium elemental creatures of Earth, Fire, Air, and Water. Magicians with the pointy hats began their spells to fortify weapons of those who did not have already enchanted blades, adding elemental offenses. Shortly the defenders were wielding flaming blades; others had electrical blots dancing between the hilt and the sword blade. The priest and magician continued to bolster the weapons with ice frosting and corrosive acid dripping to the ground.

They would soon be fighting Ward Pack demons; these hairless pink-skinned demons had large jaws, rows of jagged, sharp-pointed teeth. They ran on all fours; the front hands acted as claws. What made them hard to kill for finding the right elemental attack was needed to finish them off. Each one was random. A magic blade could damage the creature, but the creature could regenerate its wounds unless a specific elemental type of damage were applied. The creatures were quick, could run fast, jump high, and climb just as easily. They are also expert hunters and trackers. Each Ward Pack demon also had an elemental attack. Thus a fire one would cause extra fire damage to the target. Some occultists would summon one of these creatures to hunt down and kill a specific creature or person. A single Ward Pack demon is not too hard to handle, but a whole group is a different situation altogether. This is why a large company was put together to attempt this mission.

Andrea cast her few defensive preparation spells. She would take to the air, using her Uplift levitation spell. She met Charmeine up in the air the camp; a few other magician types who had access to flight magic were here as well, up off the ground and out of melee range. Master Hoko, Master Raven, and Master Martin floated above as well. Andrea turned to Charmeine, “Looking forward to seeing those wings of yours in action.” She readied her staff.

Charmeine was ready with his long spear, Testament. “Well, Hatchling, let's see how well you handle yourself in a real fight.” He was ready for battle, something he did live for. An explosion went off in the distance; from this height, a puff of smoke could be seen rising into the sky. An outer perimeter trap had been dispelled; this was placed earlier in the day before as the camp was set up. A number of these were placed around the camp in different directions. Then a sound of bells clanging, a mechanical string bell alarm chimed; this was the 2nd line of defense. The warriors readied themselves.

Master Hoko floated over to Andrea, “Can I expect any divine intervention?”

Andrea turned back to Master Hoko, “I don’t think so unless Master Martin orders so. I really can’t access my grace in stressful situations. Like fighting and providing grace at somebody else’s request has been prohibited by Katalina, though now that I think of it, I might have been able to put up a barrier around the camp that could have stopped these creatures. I think it might have worked.”

The demonic creatures burst into the clearing around the camp. Arrows and crossbow bolts flew from their respective weapons. A few loud bangs as the few blast weapons, fire blast powder pistols, and rifles fired as well, discharging the elemental bolts at the various targets. Some warriors moved in with shields to block the demons as they moved around into the camp. Master Hoko started to direct the different groups to fight the different demons. He could see the differences in the elemental types. He was marking the ones with a targeting spell. A small glamor appeared above the demons, denoting which elemental attack to hurt and damage the creature. The spell also provided an outline making the creature easier to target. The summoned elementals, creatures in humanoid shape but made out of the substance they were summoned from, moved to attack, directed by the magic casters who summoned them.

Clara and Varriss were fighting back to back. Varriss had two daggers, one with ice magic and the other with electricity. Clara fought with Cinder, her flaming sword. They danced in and out of small groups, helping those whose elemental type of attack did not work against a particular ward pack demon.

Master Raven was casting support and healing spells from her safe position in the air.

Master Martin continued to direct his burning fire elemental towards the Ward Pack Demon's vulnerable to the elemental type. He also continued to cast his infernal fire ray spells down at the ward pack demons' ice elemental type.

The priests were having the best success with the demons, as holy fire powered from their gods also burned regardless of the demons' elemental resistance.

Charmeine continued swooping down from above the demons; his spear glowed each time it struck one of the hairless demons. The wound left burned blue with holy fire; the creature howled in rage and pain. Demons could take a lot of pain, holy fire being the exception. When the ward pack demon finally did die, the creature burst into flames, turning quickly into a fine grey ash. The only leaving blackened charged bones to mark the remains.

Andrea was not using spells but hovering above tossing Bloodfang at the creatures. It could kill them only because the god weapon's wounds don’t heal naturally; the demons regeneration could not work. Every three or four hits with the dagger would cause the creature’s rib cage to collapse and crush the heart.

The battle was going well; the defenders had the numbers. The extra elementals summoned by the magic casters provided a few disposable minions, thus preventing others from getting injured. The guild leaders directing the teams provided coordination for the defending and attacking teams. All was going well when something big and red snagged, one of the airborne casters. It was quick. Andrea unfolded her wings and went to pursue the fleeing creature. Charmeine also caught a glimpse of the flying demon as well. It was a fire-based ward pack with wings, an advanced version with the ability of flight.

Charmeine chased after the creature as well; he noticed one thing, Andrea was able to keep up with the creature and only gained a little on her and the flying demon. He also noticed that her wings were not the animated ones from earlier in the day. The movements were completely different, fluidic, and natural. The airflow around the wings was what one would expect. The muscles attaching them are properly proportioned. Her banking and turns were better; she had been holding back her true flight abilities. He saw a chain shoot erupted out of a tree and streaked skyward from ahead of the ward pack demon. The chain wrapped around the creature’s leg latched on and began to pull him down to the ground. It let go of the captured caster, who promptly floated away from the creature.

The ward pack demon now had its leg trapped to the tree the chain had come from. Charmeine dived down and struck the demon with Testament; the spear pierced his chest, just missing the heart. The creature howled in pain as the divine fire burned in the wound. The burning skin turned to ash, revealing a red glowing ember interior. He witnessed Andrea do a quick circle; he had seen this before, but not with her. The turn was unnatural; she was using a spell to augment her flying; the Uplift spell could do that, but that only works with real wings. Not magically summoned ones. The chains ignited with a green and black fire dancing around them. Andrea circled by him on her loop. Her eyes were black; he knew this was a sign of infernal magic. The demon howled one more time then turned burned in black fire. The body turned to ash, and the demon was sent back to the Hell Realm that spawned it.

Andrea soared around the tree one more time and danced back up into the sky. Passing Charmeine, she thrillingly shouted, “Muscles! Race you back!” Charmeine followed from behind, this time. He studied her flying form; she was the very form of a classic demoness; all she lacked was the tail, fangs, and claws. She could be hiding that as well. He did not think Master Oliver was foolish enough to bind a demon and bring it along with him. There is something else involved, he was sure.

The fight was done by the time Charmeine and Adrea made the trip back to the campsite. The demons had been defeated, and the corpses returned to the Hell Realm. Nobody was killed, some wounded, but treatable. When Andrea landed, she folded her wings back into her back. He heard her chant “Arcana: Cancel Winged Flight.” An untrained or inattentive would mistake that they were retracted for the spell being canceled as he does. His own internal warning mind was calling out danger, just like before. He landed out; he was half tempted to tap her with his spear to see if she burns. Andrea was hiding something, something big enough to justify hiding her wings with fake ones. His divine mind was warning him, but he did not know what kind of warning; this was one he had never experienced. He will have to pray for the answer; he often does get direct responses from his god.

Charmeine was not going to wait for a prayer to get his answer. He moved over to Andrea placing his hand on her shoulder with a concerning look, "Your wings, those are real."

Andrea stopped for a moment; she had been caught. She slowly turned to him batting her eyes, "Yes, they are. Do you like them?"

Charmeine asked, "Why to hide them?"

Andrea replied she should not tell him, but something in herself wanted to be truthful, "Well, I told you I was cursed; the unconditional pact I made has changed me. For all intent purposes, I am a succubus." She placed her arms around his neck and stared directly into his crystal blue eyes. "I am cursed with a soul. I am just one step higher than actually being a demon." That was a lie; she is a demon, but much more dangerous. "I have all of their desires, and I have to keep the darker ones in check. The only reason Master Martin allows me to hang around is that I have a soul." Andrea turned her head and let go of him. "It's hard for me; I lost my life, my family, and the few friends I had. Do you know how much mistrust I already create? Demons are foul creatures, evil in desires. If I tell the truth, anyone I can count as friends or alley will run for their lives. Those who would hang around would want to use me for my power and their own prevented desires. I don't want to be alone."

Andreas' face displayed all the signs of being worried, she may lose her feathery friend, but relationships can not be built on a lie. "Can I still count on you as a friend?" She looked back at Charmeine with sad eyes and unintentionally projected her sadness and worry around her.

"Yes, Hatchling, I can still be your friend." Charmeine felt a bit strange saying that. He did like her; she was a mystery that he was slowly unraveling. She is saying she was as powerful as a demon. Demon's don't have souls; their body is what is left of their soul. He still feels she is hiding something, something that important. He thought back to what she said, and You will find out who, soon enough.

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