Chapter 19. No man’s, elf’s, beast’s, or any rational bastard’s land

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Sorie had never imagined a city like this. The lights, the patchwork buildings, the rivers of blood and destruction. She could not fathom why Jessy was so adamant to take this time to study this new and sticky world?

For that matter, she could not understand why the people who had lived here for possible years did not fight back. It was only a little nightmarish pyre of black flames.

As the boy and elf ran through the demon filled streets, Sorie’s mind wondered to the various demons that she was jumping over. She recognized Fratgori, Lucid Drights, and things that she had read in the most unfriendly of mad tomes.

As much as Jessy liked to think so, Sorie was not some invalid who stared at pretty book covers all day, she knew the danger she was in better than Jessy had.

A great battle must have happened here. Demons and eldritch horrors from universes that required you to talk through your disemboweled intestines to pronounce were not the easiest things to slay even with an army at your backs.

A horde this powerful would have required several armies of hard trained soldiers and sorcerers to combat, and even then the safe bet would have been on the horrors.

All it would take is just one of these monsters playing dead and both Sorie and Jessy would be torn to pieces and digested over an eternity.

These things existed in abstract realms where pies ate people and things like love and time were given physical form. A world where Madness was king and liked to do crossword puzzles on chicken feathers.

On the other hand, the scholar part of Sorie’s brain would have loved to have dragged one of these specimens back to a laboratory. The components and regents of just one of these nightmares were worth a king’s ransom to some wizards.

Seeing something in the rubble of a street store, Jessy passed the odd red bag he had taken from the cart to Sorie, “Cover me.” he whispered and ran full bolt.

He performed an unnecessary forward roll and scoped up what looked like a similar contraption to what Venarium had pointed at Sorie, only this one looked much more heavy.

He pulled out a rectangular container from the odd machine and hissed, “Empty.” in his bizarre language. Despite being angry at the machine he strapped the thing over his shoulder.

Ever since ejecting himself with that strange serum, Sorie had noticed a change come over Jessy. Before he had been… Well, a smart arse. But now it was like he had become something else. Meaner, angrier, driven. Sorie expected him to be foaming at the mouth soon.

She was about to ask what was wrong with him when a sound, like somebody stepping in a puddle caught her ear. She turned around, her wand raised. Only to see nothing there.

We’re being hunted.” Jessy said.

Jessy breathed in heavily, panting like an old dog ready to give one last piss before it fell down. They had been running like madmen for a good on five minutes.

Sorie wasn’t much of a runner, but her elven heritage gave her that extra stamina. “We should rest. Set up a trap.”

No rest.” Jessy said now that he had stopped running he sounded like he had just escaped being drowned, “Rest and your dead.” he looked up, “Why aren’t we dead? Everyone is gone. Fire is spreading.”

Jessy. What is wrong with you?” Sorie demanded to know.

Jessy held up a wand-like stick, “Drugs, adrenaline, Steroids. Need the extra power.” he laughed like a loon, “Might have a heart attack. Need to go fast. Suffering from high. Crash will be bad. Run. Run. Run.”

And that’s what Jessy did, he ran. Sorie thought had no choice but to follow the mad blue-haired boy, certain that he had cracked from seeing the amount of blood and broken monsters around him.

Jessy was so hopped up on drugs that he almost didn’t notice the shrivelled child-sized creature that was falling on top of him. The creature looked like an old man made out of twisted branches, it had no eyes, just a pare of empty eye sockets that glared hungrily at the teenager it was about to ambush.

Sorie raised her wand and opened her mouth to scream a warning but it was too late.

In a blurring motion, Jessy whipped out his scissors and his welding touch. Before the creature could land on top of him, Jessy struck out, cutting one of the creature’s feet clean off.

The creature landed on the ground, not understanding how it could have missed or why it lopsided. It smelt the blood of a child, it had thought it had landed on said child, but no child was there.

Already behind the minor nightmare Jessy spun around, scissors still in hand. He stabbed at the creature’s neck, drawing thick green sap.

The creature’s eyes opened in horror and it spun around, ready to fight for its survival and supper.

All it got was a quick spray of welding gel in each of its eye sockets followed by a burst of a plasma cutter.

The walking tinderbox went up like a bonfire.

Before the creature could understand that it was dead Jessy was already running forward, laughing like he had just won a football game.

AUTuuuuumn imp.” Sorie warning had trailed off.

She side stepped the burning monster, which had had been known to eat little elves and drag men twice its size screaming to its borrow. It was supposed to be a rare one of a kind monster who terrorized the countryside so long ago that people thought it was just a story.

The thing had meant to be magically immune to mundane fire but apparently, its invincibility was greatly exaggerated.

Sorie ran on, not entirely sure what just happened.

Eventually, Sorie caught up to an exhausted Jessy. The drugs in his system were starting to show their after effect. The teenager looked about ready to collapse, the short burst of chemical energy had pushed his body to its limits.

Jessy,” You need to rest. Sorie stopped when she saw what Jessy was looking at.

A four meter high wall of alien corpses spread out in a semi-circle before an empty field. Some of the corpses were petrified, others were seemingly cut in half, others were puddles of rancid goo that acted as organic mortar.

Thousands and thousands of inhuman, monstrous bodies, all of which was packaged together, separating the city and what looked like a hundred yards of open terrain with no obstacles or cover.

Just how many archers were posted here? Sorie thought and looked up at the large buildings around her. All those demons, there had to be a few thousand men on the walls.

Jessy pointed to a relativity small hole within the wall of monsters. “We need to get out there before they close the door. Watch out for traps.”

Taking Jessy’s advice Sorie pulled out a small crystal monocle from a pocket. She had expected to see a rock entombment or possibly a lightning ward.

Jessy had said before that his people knew absolutely nothing about magic and so concentrated on improving mundane defensive measures. Tripwires and crossbows, which had caused Sorie and Vanasher to snicker at.

Badb save us.” Sorie whispered in awe.

While the wall of monsters had been an impressive sceptical, but what caused Sorie to nearly wet herself in shear terror were the hundreds of activated traps which blanketed the area between the monsters and the door.

Sorie of course knew about the basics. Anti-threat wards. She knew about the basic ones, anti-teleportation and scrying wards which stopped people from popping up in the middle of secure vaults and spying on people.

She also knew that many towns put strengthening spells on city walls to enhance their integrity. There was even a rumoured enchanter who sold special paint with the spell in the mixture.

A little bird had told Sorie in the hopes of seeing her naked that he had worked in the bank setting up a pressure plate that activated a fire spell.

This was something else.

Any fool who so much as thought about stepping into that hellish death trap got burned, poisoned by a thousand different magical and non-magical toxins, displaced through space, atomised, shown their worse nightmare, had their worst nightmare set off another trap, had their magic sucked dry, suffered a magical plague, and that was just the surface.

There were spells down there that were subtle as a rain drop in a desert, while at the same time they were so grossly powerful and complex that it would take a team of scholars twenty years to attempt to copy.

One hundred yards and every millimetre of it filled with death. And Sorie and Jessy needed to cross it to reach their freedom.

The horror on Sorie’s face caused Jessy to laugh, “Yeah. Can you imagine imagine how many of these bastard there must have been to overwhelm the traps. Only one in a thousand made it through.”

There had to be millions of demons rushing out. Charging through that killzone, only to be struck down by hundreds of guards when they made it through.

A swarm of wasps trying to break through a spider’s web.

We can’t cross that.” Sorie said.

Arcade said the gates were open.” Jessy pointed to a symbol above the door, “Gate eleven. The traps would be turned off. Or, sort of turned off.”

Sorie was lost for words. What did he mean by sort of?

A feeling touched on Sorie and Jessy’s back. A horrible sensation tugged on their intuition. It was like being in the presence a chronic masturbater who was holding a stuffed bear in his hands, and though you could not prove it, you were sure he was going to do something unpleasant with it.

There was something behind the pair; it was nasty, it was foul, and they were pretty sure that it was hungry.

Neither Sorie nor Jessy were in a particular hurry to turn around, but ignoring the problem was most likely suicidal.

Something’s behind us, isn’t there?” Jessy said. He held up the scissors and welding torch, “We don’t have time to fight, but I don’t know if we can out run it.”

Sorie knew that, but she was also not ready to test Jessy’s theory that the traps were deactivated.

Fighting the threat before it could devour them was the best plan. Her wand still had five shots remaining, she should be able to at least wound the predator.

Turn.” she called out, her wand out stretched and aiming at the nearest foe.

Jessy did like-wise, screaming like a madman, hoping to scar off threat. He would have been a bit more convincing if he was wearing a sword and not a slimy pair of scissors and a small tinderbox-like weapon.

Scatted across the street a conglomeration of small child-sized of silhouettes stood before the pair. They were formless, faceless. They had no arms, no legs. They were like standing worms, wiggling stretches of moving blackness with the occasional burst of bright green.

Despite there being so many of them, Sorie had almost thought them nothing. The black flames which made up the creatures’ bodies caused them to appear almost like scenery.

Perhaps if they were standing in the middle of a blank canvas or a deep snow bank, they would have been easily seen, but in the darken streets of an abandoned city, they were almost invisible. Was there just one creature, or was there a million of them? Sorie couldn’t tell.

That wasn’t just it. There was something… Wrong with this. It hurt to look at them, It felt as if Sorie’s body was freezing. She could see her breath, could see ice forming of the streets. How could fire make things colder.

Run.” Came the voice of one of Huebsch’s battlenuns.

The she-elf was between Sorie and Jessy, she was holding a symbol of her deity, a raven in a cauldron. She was also holding an double-headed axe in her other hand.

The black fire let out a popping hiss and was momentarily pushed back.

Where the fuck did you come from?” Jessy yelled, “Are you Batman?”

Run!” the battlenun ordered.

Sorie felt her hand being pulled back, Jessy was pulling her towards the exit.

You heard the conveniently placed exorcist.” Jessy said. He didn’t tug on Sorie’s dress a second time, he placed one of his wands on his neck and hissed before he discarded it.

Sorie watched as his pupils became wide enough that his eyes were nearly all black. The blue-haired boy let out a scream before he shot off towards the opening.

Sorie turned back to the elf she had no idea, “Come with us.”

Looking very stoic with her holy symbol warding off the snarling and twisting flames, Badb’s finest felt the faith of her choice, “Go. I wont be able to hold them ffffffffffoor…”

Coming out of nowhere, Jessy swept the battlenun off her feet with a low kick. As she fell he used his drug induced strength to lift her in his arms. “Jeering jesters, Batman, you’ve put on weight.

A silth or Wood Elf’s body was incredibly dense. Though the warrior elf looked to have weighed little more than seventy-two kilograms, plus her ten kilos worth of iron armour, in reality she weighed more than one-hundred-and-seven kilograms, plus the ten kilogram armour.

Jessy, not a silth and only recently lost weight due to the company having declared salted chips and soft drink as luxury good,was hardly able to lift up his own body weight. He should have buckled, but the drugs kept him going.

What are you doing?” The nun demanded,

Keep point it at them.” Jessy screamed back and then ran for the exit all the while howling at the top of his voice, “Waaaaaaaa hoooooo. Motherfuckers.”

Sorie stared at the fleeing Jessy who was going incredibly fast while holding somebody almost twice his weight. She then remembered what they were running from.

She sent a bolt of lighting at the nearest black mass of living corruption. The bolt sunk into the horde of flame but it did little but to push a single monster back.

The holy symbol leaving their presence, the parade of fire followed the fuel.

Sorie ran.

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