Kicking off this week of villain excerpts with the two that started it all. The Lich and the Hellfire Elf debuted in Beginning of a Hero, which is available on Amazon for 99 cents.
“You have failed me, Garna,” hisses an eerie voice. “You claimed you could stop the messenger and now he is in the wild. We can no longer stop him from reaching the Paladin.”
The elf feels the hair on the back of her neck stand up. “I am sorry, sir. I will try my best to track the messenger and eliminate him. I will even eliminate the Paladin if given the opportunity. I swear this on the suffering of my people and the honor of my queen.”
Garna bows toward a shadowy figure who steps out of a billowing cloud of smoke. Layers of black and gray robes cover the taut-skinned body of the Lich. He flexes his hands and Garna can see several gaudy rings adorning his gnarled fingers. His boney feet appear briefly as he sits in the solitary chair, adjusting his moldy robes. She cannot stop herself from staring at the red eyes, flickering with unbridled greed from underneath his dusty hood.
“Why should I believe you will accomplish your goals when you wasted your time with a pair of dwarves?” the Lich coldly asks.
Garna stands at attention to show some respect to this decaying abomination. “They attacked me and I needed to defend myself. I still bleed and get hurt like other living things. Taking an axe to the spine would have made it difficult for me to eliminate the messenger. Besides, they did not delay me too long and I saw where the messenger went. If you had not teleported me away, I could have caught up with him and this conversation wouldn’t be happening.” She stops once she realizes her blunder. “Uh, what I meant was . . .”
“You dare to place blame on my head!”
Garna sucks in a deep, nervous breath. “No, sir, I merely ask that you give me more time. Taking me away before I have time to reverse my mistakes does not prove I am a worthless agent.”
“You and your ilk are invaluable agents, Garna,” the Lich agrees, folding his hands on his lap. “Chaos elves have been loyal to the darkness for a very long time. Garna, can you tell me why your people are so good at what they do? Please refresh my dusty memory.”
Garna cautiously walks around the circular room, her attention never wandering away from the Lich. She stops on the far side of the room and takes out a dagger to twirl in her hand. She can tell he is up to something, but she knows too little about the creature to predict him. All she remembers is that her queen warned her that a wrong move would land her in this position. The thought of her queen and how she may have failed her brings tears to Garna’s eyes.
The chaos elf clears her drying throat and stops spinning her dagger. “My people are the stealthiest warriors in the world. We thrive in the shadows while improving our . . . unique survival techniques. There are no better spies in all of Windemere and we are the best assassins in the Post Cataclysm era. Does that answer your question, sir?”
“Full of pride and arrogance as I expected,” the Lich declares with an echoing laugh. “Chaos elves always see themselves as the greatest race in all of Windemere. Personally, I don’t believe you are as talented as you think. Do you agree?”
“I swear I will do better next time. I promi-” Garna begins. Her voice is cut off by a quick spell from the Lich, who rises to his feet. His crimson eyes bore into her and she can see a vague, skeletal sneer beneath his hood. An eerie chill creeps up Garna’s spine, taking root in the back of her skull.
A raspy cough passes through the air as the Lich circles the room. “You have had your chance to prove yourself. Trinity told me you could do this job and you have failed me. Now, I must bring in something more powerful and dangerous. I need an assassin who can finish this job and serve me without failure until all my goals have been achieved.” The Lich stops walking and faces Garna, his boney fingers weaving in the air. “To be honest, I agree with you that chaos elves are the best mortal assassins, but I need a demon. You are dismissed.”
Thick chains lance out of the shadows, wrapping around Garna’s legs and dragging her across the floor. Several of the arcane symbols light up as she is pulled toward the middle of what she now realizes is a demon-summoning circle. She struggles against the chains, but small bursts of electricity pulse through her body with every twist. All she can do is panic, feeling her strength get rapidly sapped by the chains. Out of desperation, Garna digs her fingernails into the space between two stone tiles. The chains violently yank her with enough force to break off a few nails, hurling her into the center of the circle. As she stands, the chains wrap around her entire body, leaving only her left eye uncovered. Terror fills the single orb as its pupil frantically moves in every direction, hoping to see a way out.
“As you know, a sacrifice is necessary when calling forth a minion from the Chaos Void,” the Lich says, running his hand over a faded symbol on the wall. “You may have failed me as an assassin, but you will make a perfect offering. Wouldn’t you agree, vermin?”
Garna cries as the Lich chants the incantation, the bleeding symbols pulsating with crimson light. Her scream echoes throughout the chamber as a spiral of blood-like magic curls up from beneath her. The chains around Garna transform into a suit of gothic platemail as she grows taller and more muscular. The sickening bursting of skin fills the air, her body becoming too large for her cobalt flesh. Her ears gain sharper points and red streaks form in her ebony hair. A final surge of magic ends her agony, leaving a green-skinned, elf-like figure standing in her place. All that is left of Garna are bloody shreds of cobalt skin strewn around the fire-eyed demon’s feet.
“Excellent,” hisses the grinning Lich.
“What are your commands, master?” the demonic assassin asks in a low, predatory voice.