As the dawn turns to day the dust cloud upon the horizon grows. A distant chatter and rumble can be heard now. Like thousands of…crickets alongside a stampede of Tuskers. All the bystanders are sent back to the town. The Defilers form a line at the perimeter of the camp awaiting the visitors.
The whole of the Defilers stand rigid as Perfone, the priestess, paces back and forth in front of them praying to Isis for protection and strength.
Suddenly a faint ‘whumph’ can be heard followed by a whistling that quickly intensified to a mind melting shriek. The explosion, less heard than felt, knocks everyone to the ground with a concurrent discharge of earth and grass. There is no movement as another salvo descends upon the camp. The air is soon enveloped by the grainy dust creating a surreal, dream-like haze. Shouts from all around of people searching for their comrades can be heard.
Elanu visibly shakes and furtively glances from one silhouette to another.
He looks to her as she steadily gazes on.
“Come with me.” She reaches down without looking, grasps his wrist and the both of them dart from the line. The strange rumblings have intensified as they make their way through the smoky haze. The intermittent concussions persist, throwing up debris. Perfone frantically whispers to herself, “Arch Fiends…” over and over.
A blank disembodying sensation overcomes them. The concussion is stunning and drops them to the ground. Elanu’s head is pounding and his ears are buzzing as he comes around. He is covered in dust and his nose is bleeding. Dizziness and a stifling nausea overtake him as he frenetically searches for his priestess friend. On hands and knees he crawls about in a daze, pausing uncontrollably to wretch nothing. He’s calling out for her but cannot hear his own voice.
After a few moments he is able to stagger to his feet. He cannot tell east from west nor north from south as he fumbles through the dust-filled air. Shades move in and out of the gloom as he blinks back the seeping tears.
The last thing he saw in those fateful moments was the demon, the arch-fiend. It could have been nothing less.
Glossy red scales…and all spun into vertiginous blackness.
Waking could never have been so onerous, so miserable. He can feel and hear a very low hum emanating from the floor. Blearily he opens his eyes to find himself in a box, a cage barely large enough to turn around in. All is smooth metal. He can hear strange voices not so far off speaking in a tongue he does not know. He peers through the grate toward a dim light at the end of a not so long corridor or aisle lined with cubicles the same as his own. He sees two demons at a table each wearing red armor, helmets hung on the wall. It seems they are playing a game with wafer-thin pieces of wood.
“Fordan i set ae luyu, uh?” one says.
“Glada natch’e.” says the other. This one smacks the table in apparent glee. “Sodo na ye! HA! HA!”
With that everything shudders and takes a terrific roll sideways and the happy one is thrown from his chair. A mean face comes over him and he rises to his feet. As everything settles he hammers on the wall with his fist, shouting “Grane! Grane!”
He rolls his eyes, “Shada, nu pleya du. Shada nu.”
The other stifles a laugh.
The tumult has startled some of the other occupants in the other cages. Some have begun sobbing and crying.
The once glad man, now angry, growls, “Sheta. GHARA GRANE!”
He vehemently makes his way down the aisle, banging on the cages with his stick.
Elanu tries his magic, to no avail. An Arch-Demon peers into his cage. “Ah, the prize, the one who can make the stars dance. You will…. arrgghhhh” He explodes in shards of light, the dust of his former being covering everything around, including Elanu.
Freed from his cage, Elanu the Star Mage smiled. “I can do more than that- blessed Isis, my magic has returned!”
The two of them, along with the Oriflammes, Coake, Romyxx, and Glorbath, find themselves freeing 20 captives, including the other 10 Defilers, and killing 6 Arch-Demons, and making their way out of Hades.
Spoken by Xar Xar, leader of the Defilers, to CrIsis during a private breakfast just after the Lopanic Games ended.
Picture by Veli Nystrom.