20: The Hand of God
Charmeine was busy thrusting Testament into the uncountable number of ward pack demons crawling from the cursed treasure horde. He felt the coming of the goddess first. The very air around the group got more oppressive. He looked at Andrea; her eyes were a solid red crimson. The old god had made an appearance.
Andrea’s voice and demeanor had changed into her command tone, “Master Martin, you have called, your servant understands and submits to your demand, now follow my instructions.” She looked at the group of mortals standing before her.
“Hiro Hoko and Oliva Raven continue with the front line defense. Master Martin, Varriss Urdine, and Clara Valentine, you will provide me with an escort, you will be my Bloodguard, I will have you fell the ones I leave behind.” with that, she grasped the Bloodfang, “I miss you, my little fang. Master Martin, you will have to feed this vessel after I am done; prepare yourself for that.”
She held the dagger; her body pulsed. Charmeine felt the grace again; this time, it was not the raw vibrations, but felt more like a symphony, like the steam-driven orchestra in founding big temples; the sound was dark and sad. Katalina removed her gloves and removed Sirens Silence and tossed it to the floor; Katalina sent waves of confidence outwards. Being in the body that can produce these abilities without grace helps. Katalina’s body glowed a crimson red; the fallen rubble formed into stone and fused, making a ramp upwards towards the center path. The new stone climbed skywards, forming into hands at the ceiling with fingers spread out to hold the cavern's ceiling up. A red fire erupted on these newly formed columns as they were created. Each column had the symbol of the Circled Hand. She looks back at the main door, she balled one hand into a fist, and the door slowly closed, sealing in the screaming, howling ward pack demons inside. Katalina advanced step by step as quickly as the new bridge was constructed.
As they neared the top, dozens of ward pack demons were waiting for the newly built bridge to connect. Some had already tried to jump across and failed, falling to the cavern floor hundreds of feet below. Katalina extended her claws and scorpion tail. She was going to need all the assets that her Handheld. She leaped across her red leathery wings spread wide.
The fighting had stopped behind them; the bridge slowly kept growing. Master Hoko shifted his warriors to the new front. The bridge was not building too fast, but at a steady pace, long enough for the guild to get ready for the next wave that would try and come at them from their escape route.
To Katalina, everything seemed to slow down; this is how gods fight. They can perceive time and react quickly and precisely. The enemies' movements could be assessed and determined where to shift the body to either avoid or connect. To an outside observer, this was the speed and precision of the divine. This fight would take hours in this mode, but only a few minutes in real-time.
Katalina used her claws and fangs to tear out the throats of the creatures with speed and strength. Bloodfang then would cause a finishing blow with the rib cage collapsing and crushing the creature’s heart. Katalina would use the paralytic poison of her tail to paralyze some of the ward pack demons. The claws and fangs of the creatures would miss her figure or be blocked by Bloodfang. Katalina was able to maneuver her body with such precision and control that no mortal could match. These were the ones she intended for Bloodguard to finish off. This was a dance of death. Katalina dodges, parried, slid, leaped much like a dance. Her movements were beautiful and fluid.
Katalina fought her way out and used a secret door she knew about to bypass the beam trap. Katalina wanted to see how well they handled this trap; she designed it herself; she did not inform the party about this the first time around. The rest of the guild followed closely behind her carnage, finishing off the pink hairless demons in the wake of the dark goddess’s dance of death.
Katalina stood at the entrance of the Vault. Her body is covered in the blood of the slain ward pack demons. Her eyes are aglow with the light of the dark goddess. The guild moved around her and out into the sunlight. She watched as they moved; most were silent at this point and very fearful. Master Martin approached the goddess.
When the last of the group had exited the Vault, Katalina spoke to the gathered crowd. “I am Katalina; I am the Goddess of the Pit. Do well to remember what you saw today. My hand is named KaAzalin. You will call her that from now on. Retail the miracle of your rescue today and then submit to the mortal who commands this Goddess’s Hand. Submit, and there is no pain; failure to submit there will be pain.” She looked around them; she projected a feeling of respect to all those around her. The weaker willed ones will understand and obey. "You fought well today; tell your gods that Katalina has returned."
Katalina turned to Master Martin, “Master Martin, It is time; you will need to feed the vessel as our pact agrees; if not, she will become farel when I release her from my will.”
She stepped forward, grabbing him, and pulled his head down to hers. As Katalina kissed him, he felt her fangs against his own lips. He felt the sharp pain as the fire spread through his body. He resisted crying out. Just a kiss was all she needed to keep the hand balanced. She moved her blood-stained lips to his ear, then whispered. “Don’t take too long; the garden is slowly dying, soon nothing will be left but the weeds.”
Andrea felt the goddess leave her; this was nothing like she felt before. “Master,” she looked at him; she was frightened and weakened. She was gasping for air, “My body hurts, every muscle is on fire.” Andreas’ eyes widened and quickly closed, Bloodfang clattered to the floor, and she lost consciousness; Oliver quickly caught her.
“Clara, Varriss, help me get to our wagon,” they lifted the unconscious Hand of God to the cart. Oliver placed her sleeping form on a bedroll. “Keep guard; it looks like we are her bodyguards now. Careful of that tail.”