TKoT Vol. 3: Chains of the Heart

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2: Charmeine

Charmeine set his angelic spear that Toluene named Testament reading for a charging hell beast. He flexed his bare-chested muscles, preparing himself for the impact of the hell beast against his spear. He had been inspired as of lately to take on the quests that the Dark Arts Division would typically handle, hunting of demons and undead. His inspiration came from the dreams he had been having; he took these visions as an omen to come. These dreams, he had seen himself wounded, his powerful angelic daughter healing him and a dangerous demon he was going to slay coming for him. Charmeine knew he had to grow in power; he needed to get stronger so he could take on this threat.

Charmeine had accepted a job request to hunt down hell hounds down in the lower tunnels that have been plaguing the construction of StrongBox Trading Rail Road. The Under Road, as this area was called, is a massive underground cavern system. This did not exist in the old world. The Under Road was formed when the Earth Spheres were created. Not all the land settled correctly, creating massive gaps in the layers of the earth at various locations. The creatures trapped in these layers dug there way out and like termites creating a complex maze of interconnecting tunnels. Just about every prominent site on the surface had access to the Under Road. The company had been expanding and walling up sections of the tunneled areas as they had been laying track for the project. A den of hell hounds had been located, and the company had not wanted to waste their men on removing the threat, so they hire out.

Tammon Nimat’s short, stocky dwarven body ran out of breath from all the running, and he readied his shield and ax. Tamin is a War Priest of Vasherune; he chanted his prayer of blessing to his god. The area around him briefly lit as the god’s power flooded into him and his comrades, giving them additional strength for this next fight. He liked battle, always considered overwhelming odds a good battle tactic, best used if your side has the advantage. “By Vasherune’s bloody beard, here they come!” Tamin shouted as he waved his battle-ax in anticipation of the hell beasts demise.

Around the cavernous tunnel, they all could hear multiple demonic barks ranging in pitch and tone.

John Blackthorn shouted, “I thought you said there was just one of these things! “John was one of the warrior types; he wore vestiges of the now fallen house of Blackthorn. Two decades ago, his family was displaced in a rebellion led instigated by the Church of Bhuul. Those that were not killed outright fled to the neighboring countries. His black hair and day-old stubbled face showed concern about the upcoming battle. He was not afraid but did not like the odds. He readied his enchanted blade, something one must own when fighting demons. “We should have teamed up with a caster as well!”

Demon beasts, some times called Hell Hounds, are medium-sized dog-like red-skinned creatures with no fur. The creature has the red glowing demonic canine eyes that all demons have. The broad toothy maul often emits a sulfuric gas that occasionally belches flames. Like all demons, these creatures heal quickly, making them hard to kill. Enchanted weapons can harm them. The idea is to cause enough damage that the beast can not recover soon enough and will cause the body to die. Holy Fire is the best; cold elemental based attacks are the next desired method.

The hell hounds came running down the rough cut stone tunnel. John counted at least six demons and a larger one in the back, the alpha of the pack. The hell hounds all howled and barked wildly as they approached their prey.

The hell hounds jumped fearlessly, baring their toothy fangs into the defending group. Charmeine’s spear quickly impaled one such foul creature. The spear lit up with blue holy flames, and the hell hound yelped as the flesh turned to ash. Tamin swung his ax, with a bone-crunching hit, one hell hounds head split bloodily in half. Immediately afterward, he was knocked backward as another jumped in line to take the fallen pack member’s place. He struggled to keep his shield between the growling demon. John wounded his hell hound, and the yelping creature backed off just as another put itself in harm’s way.

The alpha moved slowly forward, snarling, growling, and barking a challenge.

Charmeine pulled his spear back and thrust forward for another attack. The hell hound recoiled from the flesh burning wound and limped around. Charmeine pressed on towards the larger hell hound. He would move to finish the alpha.

Tammon was struggling with the hell hound on top of him. Another had already joined in on the attack as well pinning his ax-wielding arm. The hell hound growled as it tugged at him, dragging him back into the rest of the pack.

John’s blade bit into the flesh of another hell beast, and the creatures howled in pain. He quickly thrust again, trying to go through the side of the creature to hit the heart of the foul beast. If he could damage the life-giving organ, he could slow the creature for a bit. He watched as Charmeine advanced, ignoring the fallen hell hounds around him. “Charmeine! Kill the wounded ones first! ” Charmeine had the only weapon at the moment that could kill the beasts. Tammon had already cast his Holy Edge spell in a previous engagement today.

Charmeine moved closer to the alpha; his spear went into the side of one of the advancing hell beasts. The celestial runes along the shaft flared a bright, warming soft light as the spear tip pierced the heart of the beast. The heart burned with blue holy fire and turned to ash. Holy Fire, the bane of demons, if not put out, will consume the flesh of the demon slowly, leaving nothing but bones as the divine power burns away the demons core.

The hell hound fell to the ground and started burning from the inside out. Soon the corpse would be nothing but a pile of grey ash and bone.

The alpha took several steps backward and continued to growl menacingly at the half-celestial in front of him. The creature sensed the divine power coming from the spear Testament. The alpha swiftly turned and bolted for an unfinished tunnel intersection that led into a large cavern. The beast turned back and howled loudly. The baleful summons was enhanced by a gouge of flame from the alpha’s toothy muzzle. The creature looked back at Charmeine and snarled.

John felt a shiver running up and down his spine, and all could hear in the distance, more howling in response.

Tammon was now being dragged back past Charmeine as three hell hounds pulled him quickly towards the large alpha. Tammon shouted as he fought, “HELP!”

Charmeine started to realize this was not a fair fight. He quickly stabbed at one of the hell hounds taking away his dwarven priest. The hell hound could not defend itself as his fangs were sunk deep into Tammon's chain leg armor. He aimed his thrust into the hell hounds heart. The spear slid easily through the skin and into the burning heart of the hell hound. The creature let out a yelp and collapsed.

John moved forward, leaping over the downed hell hound. He knows it would be only a matter of time before the heart wound would heal. He stabbed down on the hell hound who had pinned the dwarf to the ground. The furless red-skinned hound howled as the creature’s spine was severed, the hell hound fell to the side, releasing the dwarf.

With Tammon’s weapon hand now free, he swung his ax into the side of the neck of the last one holding his leg. The creature took the hit and continued to hold on only to growl and bite harder.

The alpha paced at the tunnels intersection, growling in frustration. Soon a few more hell hounds bounced around from behind him and into the tunnel. These new hell hounds barked and growled as they approached the defending party.

Charmeine readied himself for the next onslaught of hell hounds by twirling his spear, trying to cause fear in the demon beasts. He was a success in away. A few hell hounds who were attuned to such divine power backed away from Testament.

John stabbed downwards on the last remaining hell hound holding Tammon. The hell hound took another severe blow to the neck, and the creature let out a mournful yelp while releasing Tammon and collapsing to the ground.

Tammon stood up and looked at the increasing number of hell hounds forming around the alpha. Tammon strongly presents his last words, “Well by Vasherune’s Shield, it has been a pleasure fighting with you. ” This was a common phrase uttered by the war priest when facing completely unfavorable odds, and usually means you are about to die.

At the howl of the alpha, the hell hounds charged. They leaped over each other and bounced about in a chaotic pattern. Charmeine impaled one with his spear but was immediately jumped by two others whos fangs sank deeply into his arms, shaking them furiously. Once again, Tammon was knocked prone against the floor as the hell hounds bit and restrained him. John took a few steps back and found himself surrounded by the demonic dogs.

Charmeine was thinking as the hell hounds dragged him to the ground; this is not how this is supposed to end. I am destined to defeat a stronger demon! Not to be killed by some weaker hellspawn!

A hell hound bit deeply into his left leg through his leathery armor. Another climbed onto his bare chest, racking its clawed foot across, leaving a bloody open wound. Charmeine could smell the sulfur on the creature’s breath as drool dripped from the hell hounds toothy maw.

Charmeine last thoughts were of his daughter in his dreams; the dream was so real, so detailed. He recalls his feathery angelic daughter telling him,” Mother will be here to protect us. She is coming!” He now knows this was just a dream. In his hubris, he thought he was so important that it would make him valuable to gods to loose. He had led his friends down to a suicide mission, and now they were going to face their gods in the afterlife.

Charmeine, as strong as he was, could not wrestle the demon dogs off his body. He was going to die. He heard his companions also yell as the demon hounds tore into their flesh as well.

In a surprise, the demon dog yelped as a bolt of ice impacted him, knocking him off the half-celestial. Charmeine looked back from his position on the floor. He could make out in the distance, the silver-haired infernal he had met a few days prior. She presented herself fiercely and determined as she cast her spell, another bolt of ice stuck the hell hound ontop of Tammon.

The alpha hell hound was startled when a wall of stone sealed the tunnel behind him. Additional walls encased him, blocking his escape route. The hell hound had become trapped in a cage of stone.

John heard a battle cry, “Heyyyah!” A red-haired warrior charged forward with her long blade and quickly severed the head of one of the hell hounds surrounding John. He could see the ice formed along the edge of her sword. The blade had been enchanted by the spell to cause cold elemental damage.

The blond-haired man behind her slipped his dagger quickly and very deadly into the side of another hell hound adjacent to John. The strike was precise and directed into the creature’s heart. The ice that formed along the wound also told John that this group was prepared.

Tammon looked back as well; it was the Dark Arts Division. Master Oliver was here. Tammon exaltingly yelled with joy, “By Vasherune’s Blessed Little Toe!” Another of Vasherune’s catchphrases, meaning lucky break, the tides have turned.

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