The little boy cried out, but they didn't listen. They never listened to what he or his parents said, so he didn't expect any different then. But as he watched his mother laying in the hay and dirt in front of him, blood soaking her shirt, he couldn't help it. He begged the king's men to stop, to leave him and his father alone.
With a sneer, they both ganged up on his father. His father gave it his all, and with his bare hands, put a dent into one of the soldier's noble-grade plate, but in the end it just was not enough. His ally had flanked his father and run him through with a sneer.
Dezmin whimpered and cried out again. The men just stepped closer to him, swords still bloody.
One raised his sword up high and brought it down onto Dezmin's face.
Dezmin wasn't a strong man. The twenty years since he'd lost everything, he'd gained everything anew, lost some, and gained almost enough to replace it. And not one bit of that made him stronger. At least, that's not how he felt about himself as he swept the wood floor of his home.
He stopped and leaned against the broom, resting his chin on the top. As a philosopher, cleric, and only priest of Skiin in the country of Delmin, Dezmin believed himself to be a more... Wise man, than strong. He shrugged and put the broom back to the wood, minding one of the two pews. He never understood why someone would want to be stronger than their means demanded; life only needs you to be as strong as your occupation demands after all.
Warriors and adventurers, those people were strong. Dezmin met a group once. After he convinced them he wasn't as hostile as his skin tone implied, they proved to be rather dull folk. They were terribly strong, but not wise or intellectual at all. The most wizened of them, a caster of some sort, seemed only knowledgeable in the best spells for destruction of monsters or removal of threats.
He sighed and sat down, holding the broom in his lap. He looked over to the statues of Skinzan and Shiika. The goat and the doe. He nodded to them, giving the usual short prayer whenever they caught his gaze.
"Thank you for this blessing."
He stared up to the ceiling and set the broom to the side, replacing it with a small blue book. He licked his lips and cracked it to the day's date, and set to reading the verses aloud. He stood as he read, walking to the front of the chapel, standing between the statues and facing the empty pews.
Upon completing the verses, he set the book back in his rear pocket and bowed his head. He set to return to his private chamber when a tremor jumbled his footing. He fell to a knee and looked to the open doorway, even as the quake continued.
Just out the door he could see... Something smoking and shining purple flying through the clear day sky, and heading to the south. His first thought came to him from his years of study of evil: the possibility of that thing being a flame geist, fire spirits who eat body heat and fly by to capture victims. Without any second thought, he jumped into his room and grabbed a pair of gunbelts. He swung them onto his hips with practiced skill even as he ran out of his home and in the direction of the flame geist.
After ten minutes of running, Dezmin was nearing the flame geist. Or what he suspected was not a flame geist; they do not land with a crash like this thing did.
With both aged guns equipped and loaded, he made a hesitant step into the crater, sliding down the dirt wall. He stopped next to the strange object, scrutinizing it as best he could without actually touching it. It glowed constantly and faintly with a ghastly purple energy that he couldn't quite place. To add to his confusion, the scent of blood was in the air, though he saw none. He fancied the idea that he had smithed some shoddy bullets and that he was smelling the iron, but his introspection was cut short when the object violently shook.
He jumped back, climbing halfway up the dirt wall, watching the object as it cracked open down the middle. He flinched, identifying the object as a nefarious minion egg - flying vehicles that transport large amounts of weaker demons and devils. The expected challenge wasn't what he feared; it was the fact that minion eggs are only used by the most powerful fiends.
He watched as the little imps and spirits escaped from the egg, and quickly sniped down two of the airborne spirits. His holy bullets destroyed them in a flash, exorcising them to the darker realms for the time being. He grunted and took a few shots at the hastey land bound imps, chastising himself for not wrapping his hands in cestus or at least bringing his sword. He would run out of bullets, and netherworldly types can harm mortals just by contact. He rolled back, keeping to his practiced trigger discipline.
With a snap of the heel, he stood up, and with a snap of the wrist, he shot down a pair of spirits who were just a moment before behind him.
That was six, and there was at least twelve more. He took shots at the spirits, who seemed to want to escape from his fury. He wouldn't have it. Eight left, ten bullets. He watched the imps running towards him. He ran away, watching them as he reloaded his pistols. The two handed loading was probably the most useful skill he acquired from back then...
He stopped and stared down the imps. Eight of them.
"Darn." He cussed as the imps did what imps do; come together to make things worse. The remaining eight leaped onto each other and melted into two eight foot tall entities.
With a groan, Dezmin ran forward, toward the left most ring leader (he knows what it's called when they combine) and slid between its legs, appearing behind it. Using the momentum, he gripped the ring leader's tail and climbed up onto its back. He cocked his guns and let loose three shots into the back of its head, letting it fall down dead.
The other ring leader roared down at him, getting spittle on his tunic. He shot at it, aiming mostly for the eyes, as his studies have told him would be effective. It was. Ring leaders have eight eyes, but all of them bleed profusely. Grazing just one would blind it instantly.
The ring leader roared out, swinging wildly at where it thought Dezmin was.
However, Dezmin was casually reloading off to the side, humming just softer than the roars of the ring leader. After finishing, he swung forward with six shots into its side and holstered his guns in the same motion.
Dezmin let the quickly rotting monsters lay there as he walked home.
He couldn't help but wonder what could have sent over twenty minions in one egg and escape his notice.
Dezmin laid his gunbelts down next to his other weapons. He practiced weapons in his youth. It was good exercise. Also helps keep goblin and gnoll raiders at bay.
He sat down at his desk and removed his bestiary from his small shelf. He needed to know what sent that egg, and how worried he should be. And why the gods didn't alert him sooner. And what the meaning of the quake was.
He looked up from the page about dire animals. That sounded like a voice.
Dezmin stood up and straightened out his clothes. He took a breath and cleared his throat and exited his private chambers, entering into the chapel.
There he saw a young woman, standing shorter than he, with thick silky blond hair. She dressed in white, and wore strange white leather shoes. She appeared strange to him. But that mattered little as Dezmin put on a smile and calmly walked towards her.
"Welcome, my dear, to the temple of Skiin. I am Dezmin."
She smiled, beaming bright white teeth at him. "Oh you must be the priest here."
He nodded, his showy smile turning genuine. "I am. Can I help you?"
She rapidly nodded and reached into the pocket of her tiny shorts. She produced a golden scroll and handed it to him. "I was sent to lead you on a quest! Isn't that exciting?"
Dezmin frowned and grasped the golden scroll. He eyed it for a moment then looked at her. She had... A strange air about her. She had light, delicate features; long blond hair, fair white skin, pearly white teeth, a short stature. She seemed like a very young girl turned adult. Dezmin didn't have much experience in such matters, but if he had to venture a guess, he'd say people would call her cute. But that strangeness made him curious. It was very familiar and at the same time alien, and that alone was suspicious.
He had no idea what to make of this.
He opened the scroll and brought it up to his field of vision.
"Dezmin. We have watched you for many years now. Your struggles have been monumental, and your growth herculean. We ask you to embark on a crusade for us, alongside this young angel. The world is endangered by the seven kings of the underworld. As the most powerful priest of our cause in the country, we ask you to stop their evil plotting. We will reward you with what you've always wanted if you complete this campaign."
Instead of a signature, there were drawings of the moon and a leaf.
Dezmin slowly rolled up the parchment. He took a deep breath, staring off into space. The seven evil kings are the most powerful devils. He could never hope to kill them on his own. Maybe trick them. Maybe confuse them. Entrap them. His current level of power was not up to snuff...
He looked to the girl. She was speaking. She apparently had been speaking for a while.
"Gold. But you can call me Mary. I hope we have fun on this quest!" She bounced on the balls of her toes, holding her hands together in front of her.
He just stared at her for a second, processing her. She probably belied a more powerful entity. That must be how he was expected to win, with her help. Made perfect sense. "We leave this evening." He walked back into the chapel to prepare, leaving Mary quietly standing in the doorway.
After a good dinner and grabbing his sword, axe, bow and quiver, gunbelts, and sliding his consecrated cestus on, Dezmin looked over to Mary the angel. She looked back at him from a dinner potato she was nibbling on.
She put down her dinner and wiped her face before jumping out of the chair. "Yay!" She bounced over next to Dezmin. "I'm also ready!"
Dezmin ventured a smile at her energy. It had been a while since anyone cheered in his vicinity. He motioned her over. "Do you know where to go? If not, I believe the crash site would give us some information."
She nodded. "Oh yes, I know where all seven of them are."
Dezmin was taken aback. Visibly so, in fact. "You... You know where all seven of the evil kings are?" He felt sort of limp. That was entirely too convenient.
Mary winked with her tongue out. "You bet! I'm an expert on locating evil things!" With a soft pop, Mary was replaced with a diminutive version of herself, which floated onto Dezmin's shoulder. "I'll tell you which way to go, and whenever something sneaks up on you! I'm helpful like that."
Dezmin looked at the little fairy. He nodded. "Alright, Mary. Where are we going?"
"The forest!" She jumped up, holding up her finger.
"The south forest!" She jumped up again, pointing south.
Dezmin nodded confirmation and ran out of the chapel, heading south.
Lucifer chuckled softly to himself. The huge and gorgeous king of Pride sat on his throne of gold, surrounded by the most beautiful women of all races, looking into a huge crystal pane which was surrounded by six other, smaller, crystal panes.
Reflected in its surface was a dark skinned man equipped with a small armory of weapons, running through the grass. The others just had dark figures.
"Run all you want, warrior. My plans are far too along for one man to dismantle!" He threw his head back, blond tresses falling over the back of his throne with the motion as he let out a mighty roar of laughter. The women around him joined, along with the shadows in the other crystal panes.
He rocked forward and shouted with a sneer, "I'll be waiting, you pitiful little man!"
UNTIL NEXT TIME