Here’s another excerpt from Warlord of the Forgotten Age, which is proving to be a tough one. As usual, I’m doing the break and hopefully there aren’t any spoilers are in here. Always hard to tell.
“I swear something is in there,” Dariana whispers as she gets closer to Delvin. Leaning over him to get a look, she frowns at the destruction and lack of a portal. “There is nothing else in this castle besides us, this one big presence, and a few weaker demons. A guardian wouldn’t stray from whatever it is protecting, so the portal has to be in there.”
“We believe you, but that doesn’t change the fact that we don’t see anything,” Nyx says while walking into the open. Flicking tiny fireballs into the room, she fails to get a reaction from whatever is waiting for them. “It could be invisible, which means I wouldn’t have any idea if it’s in there or not. Although, it sounded really big and metallic, so being unseen wouldn’t hide the noise. Not sure it could hide in there either. What if it can transform into gas or the garbage on the floor is really its body?”
“Everyone wants to be the hero, huh?” Delvin mutters with a sigh. Adjusting his shield and joining Nyx, the warrior waves for the others to get closer. “We don’t have time for debate, so here’s the plan. Dariana is going to keep scanning for thoughts to warn us of an attack. Stay just outside the door along with Nyx, who will save the rest of us if need be. Distance can help with your aim and give you time to think while we either fight or get chased around. Timoran will go inside after Sari and I reach the middle of the room. Hopefully, the demon attacks and we can end this with one charge from behind or at the side. Really wish we had Luke here because his extra senses would make this a lot easier. Oh well, work with what we got.”
Delvin and Sari enter the throne room with tentative steps and take care not to touch any of the shredded banners. A wave of energy caresses their muscles, the warmth holding an undertone of promised malice that they try to ignore. The sensation becomes stronger as they continue walking towards the splintered dais. Before they reach the middle of the room, a pebble hits the back of Delvin’s head and he turns around to see who wants his attention. Dariana frantically waving her arms barely registers in his mind as he focuses more on the large creature clinging to the wall above the doorway. The demon is made entirely out of black metal and resembles a six-legged panther with four eyes of red. Seven sharp tails dangle over the body, their keen edges glinting with different colored light. One of the ends runs along the guardian’s back to set off a lightning spell that sends a curtain of sparks over the entrance. Opening its mouth, the creature unleashes a hissing wail that chills the blood of all who hear it.
The demon leaps at Delvin and Sari, its powerful legs leaving crumbling dents in the fragile wall. Hurtling towards the two champions, its rear is exposed to Timoran, who charges with his great axe held high. Sensing the barbarian at the last moment, the guardian’s talons telescope out of its paws to dig into the floor. They continue growing until the monster flips and impales the ceiling with the long nails, which retract to finish pulling it to safety. Hissing like a cornered beast, the demon watches Timoran by moving one of its eyes to its rump. Spotting Dariana and Nyx in the doorway, the creature moves closer to the dais and drops into the wreckage where it remains crouched in wait. Two of its tails lash out to create a wall of flame in front of its face, which gives the illusion of its head sinking into its body.
“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say it’s scared of us,” Nyx states as she joins the others. A few steps to her right proves that the creature is watching her, but it turns to Timoran when the barbarian coughs. “I almost feel sorry for fighting the thing, but we don’t have a choice. The portal is definitely here and killing the guardian must be what opens it. Aura threads are all over the place and each one goes to the demon.”
“Are we sure it is a Named One or from the Chaos Void at all?” Timoran asks while moving away from the group. He bangs his axe against the floor whenever the guardian turns away, making sure it is focused entirely on him. “My limited experience with unique demons is that they can speak, which is how we know their names. This creature appears to be incapable of speech unless it is too scared to communicate. I cannot shake the feeling that there is something off here.”
“Melsha,” the demon growls in response to the barbarian.
“There goes that theory,” Sari says, her spinning daggers reflecting light from the flames.