Her bite wound was beginning to turn. And so was she.
Her cleric’s healing magic was ineffective against the spreading rot, inside and out.
Her flesh turned cold, numb, and she could feel the same happening to her soul ever more rapidly. The pain all but disappeared. She felt nothing- and that was a terrible thing. To feel nothing was a terrible thing because to be human was to feel something.
She shoved the healing cleric away.
The cleric’s magic did little to slow down her descent.
Kill the cleric. Kill… the… cleric.
The cleric extinguished the warm light emanating from his ankh. “I have to tend to your wound.”
She stood and retrieved her ax. “I’m beyond healing.”
It was inevitable. Her soul will be lost and she will become another legion in the army of the underworld. The least she could do, in whatever time she had before her soul ceased to exist, was to fight her way to the next level so that the next Paladin could fight their way even further towards the bottom floor. If… there was a bottom.
She moved to the chamber door.
She could hear the monsters wheezing through the cracks in the chamber door. She could feel their warm breath.
There were more than before, she could tell. She was certain there were more beyond her own understanding.
“You have to let me heal you,” The Cleric protested.
“No,” She placed her eye to the key hole. “Save your magic. You’ll need it to get back above ground.”
A bloodshot eye stared back at her.
They were patient, waiting for her to open the door and engage them again.
“I was a fool for thinking you and I could make it to the bottom.” She moved from the door and retrieved her dented helmet from the ground.
“You followed your visions,” The Cleric answered.
“You mean the fever dreams?” She answered. “They amounted to nothing but my demise.”
She should have never listened to the Council of Clerics and their visions. Now, she was going to die in a cellar, and her spirit would wander and rot in the sub-earth for eternity much like her stolen body.
“When you return to the surface…” She said.
“We both,” The Cleric interrupted.
“When you return… command the council to flood the tower with hellfire,” She commanded.
“What of the captives?” The Cleric cried. “The villagers and the hundreds of others.”
“They’re not alive,” She answered.
“I saw it in my dream,” The Cleric replied. “They’re scared.”
“It’s a trick,” She shot back. “This tower… it plays tricks. It uses our belief in dreams against us.”
She walked to the chamber door with her ax at the ready.
“We are here to rescue innocents,” The Cleric protested. “I can’t.”
She turned her ax on the cleric. “You will.”
“I can’t turn away from those in need,” The Cleric said.
“How many die if this demonic sickness reach the surface?” She asked.
“They won’t,” The Cleric answered.
“And who will stop them?” She questioned. “God?”
Behead the Cleric.
“Your God created this evil,” She said.
“This is not you talking,” The Cleric said.
“Who summoned this evil?” She cleared her throat. “That’s what I thought.”
She pulled her ax away.
“You’re asking me to sacrifice innocent people.” The Cleric looked to the ground.
“I’m asking you to open your eyes,” She said. “We will never reach the bottom before they reach the top.”
She was taught in her training that the high ground gave a warrior a great strategic advantage. She learned quickly, after watching hundreds of her fellow Paladins, wielding the most divine weapons and armor ever created, fall easily under a flood of shadow, decay and teeth, that the high ground was a disadvantage, both tactically and spiritually, in that hellish tower.
“I’m going to open this door,” She said. “I’ll get you to the elevator. Take it to the surface. Tell the council to burn this place to the ground.”
She imagined the hellfire rushing down the elevator shaft and shadowy staircases like a blue monsoon, quickly disintegrating everything it saturates in its path.
“Ready,” She said.
The Cleric nods before lighting his ankh.
She unlocks the chamber door and whispers a prayer to herself before yanking it open.
The Cleric screams an incantation and blasts the room and hallway with the light which momentarily freezes the monsters in place.
Go home. Go… Home. Go home!
Her ax burns a blinding blue as she beheads several beasts in a single swipe. “Stay close!”
The Cleric places a hand on her shoulder and envelops them both in a golden silhouette as she hacks and slashes her way through the hallway, through hundreds of beasts.
You will fail. We will reach the surface.
Her ax gets lodged in the armor of one of the cellar beasts.
An alpha. Armored and hard to kill. They’re rumored to be from one of the lower floors. She would like to believe they had made it close to the bottom. Closer to the Great Beast who sat on the throne.
She kicked the Alpha in the chest to free her ax. “I need juice!”
The Cleric shifted all of the golden silhouette to the ax.
They were naked. Unprotected.
“Go!” The Cleric commanded.
She slashed through the beast.
No resistance. Like a blade through melted butter.
The Alpha beast split in two as it hit the ground.
“Ahhh,” The Cleric screamed.
She turned her ax behind her.
A beast bit through the clerics cloak into his side.
She beheaded the beast quickly.
“The Gods…” The Cleric whimpered.
The monsters were beginning to recover from the jolt of light. They were regrouping and turning their bloodthirsty eyes on the both of them.
She grabbed the cleric and tried to usher him towards the elevator.
“I have to heal myself,” The Cleric said.
“We don’t have time!” She answered.
We have to return to the room.
“No!” She said. “It’s too late! We have to get to the surface.”
The possessed in the halls, the monsters, were breaking free of their magical stupor and were staggering towards them.
There were too many for her to face alone.
She yanked the Cleric towards the elevator but he pulled back.
“We need to regroup,” The Cleric resisted.
They were closing in. They were too many.
“I’m sorry,” She said before shoving the Cleric towards the attacking mob.
Kill the Cleric. Go home.
She rushed towards the elevator and pushed the up button.
Much of the mob was consumed with the Cleric and his tasty spiritual energy, so they were distracted.
She easily dispatched the few that came for her.
She felt jubilee as she separated their heads from their bodies.
She would allow them to reach so she can separate their limbs from their torsos.
She was amused. The carnage amused her.
The Cleric forced her hand. He should have just listened to what she commanded. He should have not resisted or dismissed her logic with his illogical faith. Destroying that place, and everything in it, including the innocents, was the only option, and the Cleric’s immovable ignorance would have doomed all on the surface.
The elevator arrived.
She entered and shut the door.
Thump! Thump! The monsters in the hall beat on the door.
She hovered over the buttons.
She was infected. It was inevitable she would turn. The Cleric was her only hope, or so she thought.
She removed her helmet and collapsed against the wall.
She killed him. She killed the Cleric. Her soul was beyond saving. The cold had all but taken over her soul. It was only a matter of time before she became one of the legion.
She placed her helmet on her head before pressing the down button.
There was no turning back for her. She would fight the infection with sheer will alone, and she would not allow it to overtake her until she reached the bottom floor to confront the one on the throne. The one flipping the switches on the tower.
I look forward to meeting you….
Somehow I knew… They knew I was coming, and they looked forward to it.