“These blood suckers are a pain.”
“Captain Femre, what should we do?”
“Stop yer whinin!” Femre exclaimed. “These vamps always think themselves better’n they are. Release the dragon!”
The crystal hydra was quickly brought forward. Its three heads glanced around in different directions. When it unleashed its breath, it wasn’t fire but an acidic spray that shout out.
“That is not what I expected when they mentioned a dragon,” Callie muttered. She looked at Aiko. “Can you still beat it?”
“Maybe, if you can draw its attention,”Aiko said. She didn’t sound certain.
“We’ll need to throw their ranks into chaos first,” Tynan pointed out. “Otherwise, they’ll strike the moment you approach and you won’t get near.”
Callie nodded. “Okay, Tynan, take the mercenaries and challenge their captain and his main force. I’ll take Gabriel and Aiko with me. We’ll distract the hydra while she sneaks up on it and silences it for good.”
“Got it,” Tynan agreed.
“Don’t you dare die on me,” Gabriel said.
“Where one of us goes, ever does the other,” Tynan says. “I won’t die before you nor will I after.”
Gabriel nodded. The four quickly separated for their plan.
“An invasion, it appears to be,” Entrik stated.
“That it does,” Sadow agreed. “But those striking the front, I fear, are not the danger.”
“Suspicions of yours are accurate, I know.” Entrik said. “Entered already three have.”
“I expected better of Femre and his people,” Sadow muttered. “And such bad timing.”
“Your meaning, what is?” Entrik inquired.
“Tonight I must repeat the lich ritual in order to rejuvenate myself,” Sadow answered.
“Mention this before you did not,” Entrik noted.
“I saw no reason to bother you with it,” Sadow stated. “I was going to wait until you were asleep.”
“Deal with the intruders I will,” Entrik stated. He floated off on his platform.
Sadow would have smiled if he’d had lips. Whether Entrik had really believed him or not didn’t matter. So long as the dwarf played his part, everything would be just fine.
The decor in Sadow’s dead home was surprisingly inviting. The room we ended up in was very long and rectangular. It had some small paintings, simple rugs and drapes, some very plain but nice looking candle holders to provide light and some very basic but well cushioned seats. If I hadn’t known better, I might have thought I’d gone into a sitting room used by clerics.
The corridor was the same style. Very simple and under-stated, but nice and inviting.
We carefully checked a bunch of samey rooms trying to find either a sign of Sadow or the stairs down.
We moved to the next door when Illyana held out her hand. “Wait a moment,” she said. “I’m sensing some magic. Michael, I suggest you step back. If the stairs are here and we can’t talk the Magi down, I’ll give you an opening to get away.”
“I will entrust myself to you,” Michael stated.
“Do you know what kind of spell it is?” I asked.
“I think so,” Illyana answered. “If I’m right, I know which Magi he’s got helping him.”
She carefully opened the door and I followed her inside. A bald dwarf with crimson robes and a long brown beard was sitting atop a floating earthen disc.
“Entrik,” Illyana greeted.
“Miss Fensen,” the dwarf stated. “You I was not expecting.”
“Illyana, he’s in front of the stairs,” I whispered.
“I ask you to stand aside,” Illyana said. “We’re here to bring Sadow to justice for some very severe crimes. Did you know he’s a mass murderer?”
“Suspected I have,” Entrik stated. “Still, stand aside I will not. Absolute is a Magi’s authority. Even for one with drenched in blood hands.”
“So you’ll defend him no matter what?” Illyana asked.
“Chosen by Hecate, he was,” Entrik said. “Authority beyond mortals, he has. Die I will, before I see that undermined.”
“Then we’ll have no choice but to go through you,” Illyana said. “But first, let me give you a small warning.”
She turned about and tossed a blue-hued fireball into the hallway, burning a large hole in the floor. Easily large enough for Michael to go through.
I caught what she was doing and closed the door behind us.
“Powerful, you may be,” Entrik said. “But stronger I am. More experienced I am also. Win, you will not.”
He spread his arms and fireballs appeared in both his hands. I drew my bow. I knew this would be a very nasty fight.