The Orc seductress walked carefully through the Moonbearer Mountains. Her two minions walked directly behind her, and on all four sides were the four demonic minions of the Lich Brotherhood.
“How we escape?” Budge leaned forward and whispered into Gonzeelda’s ear.
Unfortunately for him, he spoke far too loudly. Gonzeelda jabbed her elbow into his ribs and he cried out. The leading red-cloaked demon came to a stop, turning back to glare at the trio of Orcs.
“Apologize to the nice demon, boys.” Gonzeelda muttered under her breath.
“I sorry.” Budge said.
“But I no do nothing!” Weiggs complained.
“Just do it!” Gonzeelda elbowed him, as well.
“Sorry, Mr. Nice Demon.” Weiggs groaned.
Under the demon’s hood, its eyes flashed red, and it shook its head.
“Such insolence in front of the Lord Reischerr will not be tolerated.” It said, its voice crackling with evil energies.
Gonzeelda stepped bravely stepped forward, her hand reaching for her dagger; which wasn’t there. The demons had removed all of their weapons just in case the Orcs decided to make any stupid moves. Still, Gonzeelda was not afraid. She had fought lesser demons before, and come out victorious—Never though, without a weapon. She knew she’d have to fix that in case she truly did attack.
“Did you have something to say?” The lead demon asked.
The Orcess bit her tongue and shook her head; she knew the odds were not in her favor at that exact moment. If she wanted to escape, with her minions, she would have to wait to play her hand.
The demons led the trio through a series of caves, ones which Gonzeelda knew well. She had been born in the Moonbearer Mountains after all.
As they arrived outside the chamber the Lich Brotherhood currently inhabited, Gonzeelda watched the lead demon carefully. It reached out with a bony red finger and traced a circular pattern on the cave wall. It reversed the pattern and drew the backwards four, that intersected with a three. Yes, it was the symbol of the Blood Tomb.
The wall rumbled and a door-shaped portion rose into the ceiling. It took precisely four seconds to finish; but only two before a humanoid of Weiggs’ size to make it through.
The lead demon walked through the door and despite her wall of bluster, Gonzeelda consciously felt a tinge of fear. Undead were creatures to be afraid of, especially ones that were also capable of casting powerful spells.
On they walked, up an incline, and onto a small plateau where snow and ice had blown in from an overlook.
As they rounded the final bend only black-cloaked figure stood at said overlook. One Lich was plenty enough to try and combat, so she thanked her lucky stars the other three were not around.
“Lord Reischerr, we have brought Gonzeelda Skinns.” The front demon spoke. “As per your request, my lord.”
“Be gone.” Reischerr spoke in a chilling tone.
The demon started to speak, “But Lord, they are three and you—”
Reischerr, without turning around lifted a hand and made a fist. All at once, the four demons were engulfed in blocks of ice.
Gonzeelda stared intently, trying to figure out the range of the spell. Her less-than-intelligent minions instead poked at the demons. Budge shoved one demon to the side, and the ice block fell over, shattering the unfortunate denizen of the Abyss.
“So, Lord Reischerr.” Gonzeelda cooed. “May I ask what occasion brings us back together?”
“Does she have the weapon?” The Lich Lord murmured, paying the Orcess no heed.
“I beg your pardon?” Gonzeelda asked.
The powerful undead still did not turn, yet he held his hand out to the side. “Yes, yes you have it. I can feel its power.”
Her brows creased and she put her hand on the pouch containing the shards of her ‘Beauty’. She couldn’t let the filthy undead have it. She would have to enact her escape plan soon. But first she needed to learn as much as she could.
“The Blood Tomb.” Gonzeelda danced around his words. “You are part of it, yes?”
“I have no time for your silly questions.” Reischerr hissed. “Give me the Soul Rupture, and I will think about letting you live. For I know the Homunculus still walks the land. You allowed it to escape.”
Behind Gonzeelda, Budge and Weiggs tensesd. They knew the escape plan was coming, yet they were to await a signal. And yet, they had forgotten what that signal was.
With one hand at her side, Gonzeelda waggled her fingers, telling Budge and Weiggs to get ready to make a break for the door.
“Why hasn’t the Blood Tomb made its move?” The Orcess asked. “They could have destroyed the world in the War of the Ten, and they vanished. Why only now do you seek a weapon of such power? Why resurface?”
“You try my patience, my dear.” Lord Reischerr mused. “But I am bored this day, with my colleagues away on other business. So I will play your game.
The Blood Tomb did disappear a century or so ago. However, they fled not due to fear, or weakness. Instead they ascended. The leader of the Blood Tomb army discovered a secret that was so powerful, he became a god. And with him, he took his war elsewhere; somewhere more appropriate for one of such power.”
“A god?” Gonzeelda breathed. Then it was true, she realized. Such power did exist, and something told her it had to do with the weapon shards in her purse.
“A deity. A lesser one perhaps, but a deity none-the-less. With his power, he was able to slay the first of the gods and has been on a crusade, gaining power as we speak. All of the goodly gods have now fallen, and only the wicked, ones remain.”
“This is a lot to swallow.” Gonzeelda said, quite honestly, while she made a sudden fist. This was the signal to run.
Using one of her only spells, Gonzeelda blinked several feet away, just out of range of Reischerr’s spell. Neither of her orc minions remembered to move. When Lord Reischerr lifted his hand and made a fist, an ice block formed around Budge. It was luck alone that saved Weiggs, for the frozen demon before him, blocked the spell’s line of effect.
Gonzeelda had but three blinks. She had used one, so she used second. Appearing behind Weiggs, she yanked his collar so hard he collapsed backwards. He hit the icy slope and slid down past his mistress. When her eyes shot back up, the Lich Lord had turned, and aimed a staff in her direction. A swirling mass of mist formed around the crystal at the staff’s end. She closed her eyes tight and blinked, and not a moment too soon.
The side wall of the tunnel collapsed as she appeared just behind it. The force of the blast sent her off her feet, and blasting back down the slope. At the bottom, she crashed into Weiggs, who had just sat up and began rubbing his head.
“What that for?” Weiggs asked.
“Shut up and move ingrate!” She snapped.
Gonzeelda dove for the wall and quickly retraced the same Blood Tomb symbol that had opened the door on the demon’s attempt.
As before, a portion of the wall began to rise. Gonzeelda counted two seconds. She stomped her foot into Budge’s gut and pushed with her heel. He slid underneath the door and into the caves beyond. The Orcess ducked under as a great blast of fire exploded above her.
The slope continued down, and Weiggs was still sliding. Acting quickly, she leaped forward, landing gracefully on Weiggs’ chest and surfed her way down into the cavern below.
Back at the overlook, Lord Reischerr fumed. He’d allowed the Orcess Mercenary to escape. His colleagues would not be happy, and neither would the God of the Blood Tomb. The Soul Rupture was required for their plans. But then again, he had one prize.
Shoving the demons aside, and shattering them, the Lich Lord approached the frozen solid form of Budge. Inside the ice block, his eyes moved to follow Reischerr, although he was unable to form any words.
“What was your name again?” Reischerr asked Budge, tracing his hand along the ice block. “I suppose it does not matter, does it.”
He moved to shove the block, so it would shatter like the others, but stopped upon seeing the fear in the Orc’s eyes.
What was he doing? If he killed the minion outright, then how would he ever discover exactly where Gonzeelda was heading? Oh yes, he realized, this Orc was a prize indeed.
“Durned thing kill a blasted ice dragon!” Buster Ironheart gasped, looking at the prone, and unconscious form of Angon. “I can’t believe what me eyes just seen.”
“He’s special.” Lavina said, kneeling next to the Forge and rubbing her hand over his forehead. “He’s saved us more than once already.”
Gavin crossed his arms and sighed. “Yes, Lavina. And of course he would pass out, hindering our journey.”
“Oh hush, Gavin.” Lavina said.
“So I be takin’ it, yer his companions, then?” Buster asked.
Lavina nodded, and Gavin merely shrugged.
“I be Buster Ironheart, of clan Belltower.” The blue-bearded Dwarf said.
“Why’ve you traveled so far from your home?” Gavin asked. “Citadel Belltower is several miles to the east.”
“Several miles!” Buster exclaimed. “Can’t be tellin’ down here in these durned caves.”
“We’re from Windale.” Lavina said. “And that’s where we were heading when we were drawn here by a compass stone.”
“A compass stone, ye say?” Buster asked. “This be Sheeva’s sacred and hidden shrine! No stone would lead here.”
“It did when the Forge touched it.” Gavin said.
Buster looked down at Angon and had to admire him. “So this be Angon, then?”
“Yes.” Lavina’s ears perked up. “You know of him?”
“Yes, and no, girl.” Buster shrugged. “I know some about him, and not all; let us say just enough to know where our journey leads next.”
“Our journey?” Gavin cocked an eyebrow. “So a Dwarf is joining us now?”
“Aye!” Buster grumbled. “It be my late goddess’ wish, ya see. She told me of this Forge. She said I need to get him to Angel’s Outpost where his creator is said to be.”
“Oh good!” Gavin breathed a sigh of relief. “The Forge has a chaperone. We will travel with you as far as Windale Forest, then the two of you can get going to wherever it is, you just named.”
“Angels Outpost, Gavin!” Lavina said, standing up and rubbing her arms, for it was quite cold in the ice chamber. “It’s the northernmost city of Helopia—and it was the first town to end up like Triden’s Gate. It was where I wanted to travel next.”
“No!” Gavin shook his head. “We are getting you to Windale, and that is where you will stay. Gods only knows your father is already going to kill me for taking you on this journey alone.”
“Oh my father will understand.” She said.
“Either way it be all fine and dandy.” Buster put his pudgy hands on his hips. “But we aint be going nowhere till this piece of iron wakes up.”
“It doesn’t sleep, but it can go unconscious.” Gavin scoffed. “Useless thing.”
“Be nice!” Lavina snapped. “Or I’ll tell my father it was your idea for this trip!”
“You wouldn’t!” Gavin narrowed his eyes.
Buster shook his balding head. “We gotta be finding a way out of here, so stop yer bickering and help me look.”
“I’ll stay with Angon.” Lavina said, kneeling next to the Forge again.
Gavin sighed and marched from the room alongside the Belltower Dwarf.
Although unconscious, Angon was in another word; the Ether of Dreams, a space in between the mortal realm and the afterlife. He stood alone, and very afraid. But amidst the swirling inverted colors of the Ether, he heard a voice clearly, and it called to him.
“Angon.” The sweet voice spoke. “My name is Silvia.”