Shadow Wolf time! This is part of my weekly writing exercise, written raw and rough. The first story arc, Blade Breaker, can be found here. The first story of this arc, Red Fangs, can be found here. The previous week’s post can be found here.
“Why would Cinder imprison a bloodsucker?” asked Murith, eyeing Berkhilda. She was still enraged for the death of her squad, no doubt blaming herself, and could not abide the presence of a vampire, even a friendly one as a reminder.
“Bloodsuckers like myself do not support Cinder in any incarnation,” said Berkhilda. “The war he wants will destroy us all. It seems that this Cinder has taken up the old ways and started threatening those among us who do not support his vision. I am not surprised. The sooner we leave him to the tender mercy of the sun, the better.”
“I can get behind that,” muttered Murith, seemingly mollified.
“Speaking of the sun, let’s get moving,” I said, “Are you ready Git?”
The Goblin alchemist finished loading a vial into a long metal cylinder with a nozzle on one and a pump handle on the other. I was skeptical about the device, but Git insisted that this would be worth the time it took to load.
Concentrating my senses, I crept to a window near the source of the crying with Git following in my wake. Murith covered us from behind with her crossbow, while Berkhilda, too big and heavily armoured to sneak, waited to spring into action. The window was dark and set with steel bars. The bars were new and expensive looking. I could see scratches in the old stonework on the other side of the bars and shattered glass. My neck hairs tingled.
Git, Murith, and I all knew sign language, basic stuff, from our adventuring days. Stealth matters when creeping through pirate lairs, old tombs, and daemon-infested caves and being able to sign meant we could communicate silently.
“Get ready to get behind me” I signed to Git as he approached the bars. I did not trust the weeping Vampire, nor the darkness behind the window.
Git nodded his understanding. He nimbly crept over the rubble near the window and then aimed the nozzle of his potion cylinder at it. He pumped twice, spraying a liquid on the bars. Immediately the liquid began to bubble, and before my eyes the bars began to rust. The smell was awful. Git ducked behind me as I prepared to strike the weakened bars.
Taking one last look at the window for traps, silently wishing we had a professional thief with us, I hefted my hammer. I braced myself and swung, aiming to smash through as many of the bars as I could. Glass shattered and metal gave way with a tortured groan, with two bars flying into the dark landing noisily.
I looked at Git, showing my appreciation, and then made to slip through the opening. The goblin stopped me with a hand on the shoulder, gesturing that I should cover my eyes. He then tossed a small glass orb contain two separated glass liquids into the dark. The resulting flash was so bright that I could see it even with my eyes covered.
“Go!” he yelled, and I swung my legs through the window and dropped, pulling shards of glass and rusty metal with me.
I landed in a large room. The whimpering vampire was held in place by spikes through her limbs and shoulders, pinned to a wall like a butterfly in a collection. Blood oozed out of the wounds and collected in a tub at her feet. The tub had a spout in it that was starting to drip onto a scale; part of some trap It looked like. But it was not the vicious nature of her imprisonment that had the vampire woman’s attention; that belonged to the enormous serpent that lay coiled before her.
The snake filled half the room with coils as thick as a small ale cask and a huge head, hooded like a cobra. It hissed, exposing deadly fangs, as I faced it, weapons held ready. Behind me I heard Berkhilda trying to negotiate the window, but it was too small for her armoured frame. I waited, watching the snake’s posture. Would it lunge and bite? Would it try to envelope me in crushing coils?
It spat. I was not quick enough to escape the splash of venom entirely. Ignoring the pain and panic that followed as some splashed in my eyes, I dove to the side. I felt the wind of something pass and heard the jaws snap shut as I rolled away. It hissed again. My hearing is far better than a man’s and the sound gave me all I needed to position myself. The serpent lunged. I heard it move and brought my weapons down over my head just as it struck me. The fangs lanced into my side, like daggers, filling me with fire. I felt the impact of my weapons as I roared with red fury. The snake shook loose almost immediately as my axe and the crow’sbeak on my hammer pierced through the scales, sending me tumbling. I hit a wall and fell to the floor, numb, still blind, and struggling to get up.
The snake let out a hiss of alarm. I heard Berkhilda bellow and the sound of her axe whistling through the air. Wet blood splattered on my face. Unable to see my opponent I stumbled forward and began to hack at the coils. I heard the twang of Murith’s arbalest strings, and the din of battle filled the room. Moments later something knocked me onto my back. By the time I regained my feet the room was quieter. My vision swam.
“I can’t see,” I said.
“It’s ok Ragnar, we all made it,” said Git, nearby. “Let me help you while Murith and the big vampire help the captive.”
“Thank Skygge,” I said. “I’m glad you through that flash glob in here my friend. I’d hate to have been blinded before I knew what I was fighting.”
Git wiped a medicated cloth over my eyes. It smelled of something like onions. My eyes watered, but my vision cleared. I saw Berkhilda lifting the woman down as Murith began to bind her wounds.