File GSB-077: Daemonology

Trixie and Richard walked side by side, faces glowing, unable to keep from grinning whenever they looked at each other. They had tried holding hands, but after a dozen or so steps, Trixie had bumped Richard with her hip and sent him flying into a door. Richard had grabbed Trixie’s wrists, pinned her against the wall and kissed her. This had taken some time. So now, they simply walked along, feet never touching the ground. They weren’t sure where they were going, and they weren’t in any hurry to get there anyway. The Forlorn Pool seemed like a nice place to wait a bit. Spend some time together. Kiss like their lives depended on it.

Trixie stopped, and stared. As they walked into the tunnel to Tinker Town, she spotted a small, small Gnome girl, sprinting at full throttle the other way.

“Bies! Bieslook!”

Bieslook saw Trixie, and leaped at her, wrapping her arms round Trixie.

“Big Sis! They’re hurting Lenna! In the tunnel! I shot fire! It was an Emergery! I was scared and I fwooshed her! Must find Griggin!”

“Easy, Little Sis. What’s going on?”

“They have Lenna! In the tunnel!” Bieslook looked into Trixie’s eyes, tears streaming down her face, shaking. “They have empty eyes! They are hurting Lenna! Must find Griggin!”

“Mum? Somebody has Mum? Who?”

“Tall women, and one man. Bezwar. Must find Griggin! They are hurting her.”

Trixie took Bieslook’s face between her hands, and smiled at her.

“I’ll go and get Mum. Richard will help me, won’t you?”

Richard simply nodded. Trixie looked back at Bieslook.

“Can you find your way home? Nix will be home, and maybe Dad as well.”

Bieslook drew her sleeve across her face, and sniffed.

“Yes.”

“When you do, tell them we’re going into the tunnel to find Lenna.”

“Alrighty then,” said Bieslook.

“Well, off you go.”

Trixie watched Bieslook run off towards the Military Ward. She raised her hand and loosened her sword in its sheath.

“How do you feel about dark places full of nasty people?”

“I live for dark places and nasty people,” said Richard.

They ran to Tinker Town, and into the Deeprun tram tunnel.


Griggin came home, and opened his door, grumbling to himself. Part of him was raving at his fellow Warlocks, who would not take responsibility for the one thing they were perfectly suited to. Part of him was angry with himself, for his lateness in investigating the matters further. Another part of him was angry because he honestly didn’t know where to start looking. There were various detection spells he could use, but those required some idea of what you were looking for, and Griggin hadn’t any. He closed the door, hung up his cloak and walked into the room. He stopped dead.

There was a Human woman sitting on the floor, arms behind her back. On the table were two sharp daggers that didn’t belong to Nix. The woman looked up to him. He looked down on the woman. She gave him a wavering smile.

“Hi!”

“Good afternoon, Ma’am. Griggin Steambender at your service. Who are you?”

“They call me… Raven.”

“Miss Raven. Welcome. What are you doing here?”

“Um,” said Raven. This was Nix’ dad. Simply telling him that she’d wanted to kill his only son didn’t look like it would help. “It’s complicated,” she said.

“You appear to be hand-cuffed to the heater. Why is this?”

“Would you believe it’s one of my turn-ons?”

“No.”

Raven sighed. Nothing for it. Maybe the truth would set her free. Stranger things had happened.

“Someone mind-controlled me, and sent me here to kill whoever was inside.”

Griggin nodded, a little grin on his face. Just when you think there’s no way forward, opportunities are dropped right in your lap.

“Well, from your current situation, I deduce that you were not successful. I hope nobody was hurt?”

“Nix knocked me on my head from behind,” said Raven, scowling. “Before I could stick him.”

“Excellent, excellent. Now who mind-controlled you?”

Raven bit back an urge to say ‘Master did,’ and closed her eyes a moment.

“I don’t know him. A Gnome. Some sort of wizard, or sorceror.”

“Hmm…” Griggin scratched his cheek, thinking. “Mages don’t go in for mind control much. They control people by manipulating physical entities. A Shadow priest can use mind control, though they have to concentrate while they control their targets. You cannot run two bodies on one brain. What did it feel like?”

“Umm…”

Griggin walked up to Raven, to look at her. He gently held her chin, and put his hand over one of her eyes. Griggin waited a moment, then took his hand away. Raven’s pupils contracted normally, responding to the light.

“Doesn’t look like they used any chemical control substances or mind poisons. Did he give you anything to drink, perhaps?”

“No. I didn’t even see him do it. I just… wanted to, had to do, whatever he told me.” Raven looked at Griggin, her grey eyes large, shining with tears held back. “I’d never hurt Nix, never. He is my only friend at school, the only one who’ll talk to me.”

“Good,” said Griggin. “Everybody needs a friend. Now about the mind control. Were you sexually aroused, by any chance?”

The gushing expression left Raven’s face as quick as lightning. Anger flared.

“That is none of your damn business.”

Griggin frowned, and crossed his arms.

“Miss Raven. I do not ask you these questions to embarrass or humiliate you, but because I need the answers, to determine what sort of controlling technique was used against you. My family may be in danger, and I will get these answers from you. I would prefer not having to force from you whether you felt a bit hot below the belt.”

Raven stared at Griggin, and the blood seemed to drain from her face. This might be one of those funny little Gnomes, but she was helpless. Her own daggers were lying on the table.

Griggin sighed, and the tension seemed to flow out of the room.

“There is a school of suggestion used by the Sayaad, that relies on the victim’s sex drive. It is extremely powerful, relatively easy to apply, and difficult to defend against. I would like to confirm or rule out its use. Please, Miss Raven. Were you?”

Raven looked at Griggin, turned her eyes to the floor. She nodded, quietly.

“Did you try to resist the suggestions?”

Raven shook her head. “No. I couldn’t. Or, more like I didn’t even think of resisting. I felt so…”

Griggin put his hand on Raven’s shoulder.

“Where did this happen?”

“Tinker town. Deeprun tunnel. I told Nix. He’s gone out there. He left me here because he thought I’d attack him.”

“Thank you, Miss Raven. I’ll go there now. Thank you for your help.”

Griggin thought a moment, then grabbed his Warlock’s robes and staff. He opened a box and took out his small supply of soulshards. No time for half-measures.

“Um,” said Raven. “Aren’t you going to uncuff me?”

“I’m afraid not. Nix was right. You may seem in control now, but the possibility of a relapse is far from imaginary. Don’t worry, Miss Raven. The effects will have worn off by tomorrow. Until then, enjoy the hospitality of Steambender Manor.”

The door closed behind Griggin. Raven’s nose started to itch, and she tried rubbing it against her shoulder. She couldn’t reach. Damn.

“Bloody Gnomes,” she said.


Richard walked into the tunnel, shield and mace out, with his eyes trying to pierce the darkness ahead. Trixie walked close behind, two-handed sword raised next to her shoulder.

“Can’t see a damn thing,” said Richard. “Do you think we have the right tunnel?”

“Maybe, maybe not. Should have asked Bies.”

“Bieslook did well, getting out of here alive.”

“Yeah. There’s only one thing she can do, but by the Titans, does she pack a punch. She shouldn’t, though. It’s too taxing for a little girl. Gives her headaches. I’m going to find the buggers who scared her, and beat them into a bloody pulp.”

“Oooh, I love it when you’re bloodthirsty.”

“You’d love it if I wanted to play fluffy bunnies with them.”

“Hmmm. Bunnies. You know what they think of all the time.”

Trixie chuckled.

“Yeah. Grass.”

The darkness was split by a sick, purple light, and Richard could only just duck behind his shield. A bit further on in the tunnel, he could see the tall, thin figure of a Human woman wearing robes. Richard yelled, and charged forward. Just before his mace could swing round, the woman disappeared into nothing. Another bolt of energy hit him from behind, burning him. Trixie cried out, and came rushing towards him, sword out. A Gnome woman had waited for Richard to charge in, and was now attacking him from behind. Trixie’s two-hander sliced round to turn her into two Halflings, but she disappeared. Trixie walked up to Richard, and stood back to back with him, looking round.

“You alright?”

“Yeah. Got hit, but not too bad.” Richard’s breath was quick. “I think we got the right tunnel.”

“Do you think these bitches got Gemma?”

“Could be. Seem to have gone.”

“Probably hiding somewhere, waiting for another shot.”

Richard grunted. “Forward or back?”

“Forward. They’ve got Mum.”

“Right. Stay close.”

“Like I wouldn’t.”


Nix ran into Bieslook by the lava pool of the Great Forge. She’d taken a wrong turn by the Military Ward, and was looking round, dazed and confused.

“Whoa there! Where are you going?”

“Nix! You’re not deaded! They said you were dead!”

Nix grinned at Bieslook. “Well, they were wrong then, weren’t they? Who?”

“The women and the Bezwar in the tunnel! Must find Griggin! They are hurting Lenna!”

Mum? Bies, where?”

“In the tunnel. Timmy had fallen in the tunnel, and we all went and they hit Lenna and tied her up. Trixie and Richard went to get her.”

Richard?”

“Yes, Richard. He was helping Trixie.”

“I bet he was,” said Nix. “Bies, do you know how to get home?”

“No,” said Bieslook, lips trembling. “Ask a guard.”

“Right.” Nix pointed. “See that tunnel? That goes to the Commons. You can find your way from there, can’t you? The fruit stalls? The bank?”

Bieslook nodded.

“Good. Go home, and wait for Dad. Tell him what you told me.”

Bieslook nodded, and ran to the tunnel. Nix watched her go, then turned his eyes back. So somebody had his Mum. Tied up. Just what the hell anybody thought they were doing, Nix didn’t know. But he was certainly not going to let them get away with it. He set off at a sprint to Tinker Town.

 

Nix walked into the Deeprun Tram just as one of the trains rolled into the station. People came out and walked straight past him, to the exit. He looked at the carriages, neatly suspended on rollers from overhead beams. Nix had heard that the tram was powered by massive steam engines somewhere in the middle of the tunnel. Nice. He looked to his right. There were two tunnels. Hmm… Which one?

“Eeny meenie minie moe,” said Nix. He grinned. Trixie, even now when she should know better, used that rhyme to decide which one to pick. He’d astounded her when they were both younger by being able to predict which one it would be even before she stopped, through the dark and arcane art of realising that the number of counts in the rhyme was always the same. And if you had two things from which to pick, you’d get the one you didn’t start with. Nix looked round to see if nobody was watching him, then sneaked into the right-hand tunnel.

It didn’t take a long time running through the dark tunnel to find trouble. A strange luminous green circle was on the ground, with another circle a few yards above it. Mystic runes revolved lazily along its edge. A bit further on, Nix could see Trixie running towards a Gnome, who laughed and disappeared just before Trixie’s sword could hit her. A Human woman started shooting at Trixie from another place, and Trixie had to run again.

As Nix watched, the green circle glowed more brightly, and the Gnome girl appeared in front of his very eyes. Nix didn’t hesitate a moment. He drew a dagger, slid behind the girl, clapped his hand over her eyes and pushed his dagger into her back. The girl made a small noise of pain and surprise. Nix twisted the dagger, pulled it out. The body slumped to the floor. That left two Human women, one of whom was now shooting at Trixie’s back. Richard was lying on the ground, moving feebly, trying to get up.

Nix put away his dagger and grabbed one of his throwing spikes. Taking careful aim, he threw the spike at the woman farthest away from him, and hit her leg. The woman’s mouth and eyes opened wide, looking at the spike in her leg. She grabbed it, and pulled it out. The poison started to work. The woman clutched her leg, screamed, fell to the floor, and rolled round. Her face showed nothing but searing, burning pain. The woman closest to Nix shrunk back, startled. Nix leapt onto her back and hit her behind her ear with the butt-end of his dagger. She fell flat on her face, with Nix on her back. Nix put his dagger to her throat.

Trixie rushed towards the woman who was still rolling round on the floor in agony. She raised her sword to finish her off. Nix shouted.

“Wait!”

Trixie looked round.

“Nix?”

“Wait.”

Nix turned to the woman underneath him, pressing his dagger against her throat. He grabbed her by the hair and forced her head up, making her look at her fellow Warlock.

“Where is our mum.”

The woman beneath him said nothing. Nix pushed her face into the ground, and lifted her up again.

“Where have you taken our mum?”

“Piss… on you, shrimp.”

Nix bent over, to whisper into the woman’s ear.

“Look at your friend. Listen to her. Have you ever heard her like that before?”

Trixie looked at the woman at her feet. Both her arms were round her leg, her eyes were closed tight, and blood ran from her lip where she’d bitten it. The woman screamed again. Trixie looked at her brother.

“Nix…”

“Shut up!” Nix turned to the woman again. “Now in about ten minutes or so, she’ll stop. That’s when her vocal cords give out, and she can’t make another sound. By then, the poison will have spread from her leg to all over her body. She won’t faint, she’ll just lie there burning, can’t scream, only croak, can’t move, burning, burning…

“Please! Make it stop!”

“Where is our mother.”

“No! Please!”

“We can make it stop. Tell us where she is. Listen to her. She’s already starting to lose her voice. Where is our mother.”

“In the tunnel! Further in the tunnel! There’s a side tunnel to the right! Please!

“Who is there? How many?”

Master, and two… more. Please, make it stop!”

Nix looked up at Trixie. “Do it!”

Trixie stared at Nix. She turned her sword round in her hands, raised it, then stepped on the woman’s arm to keep her steady. Not looking into the woman’s eyes, she stabbed down, hitting just below the left breast. The screaming stopped abruptly. The body twitched once, then lay still. The woman in Nix’ grip struggled underneath him.

No!

With one vicious slash, Nix sliced her throat, pushed her face down in the sand till the body stopped moving under him. He looked up at Trixie, showing his teeth, growling.

“Let’s go.”

“Watch out!” Richard shouted. Nix wasted no time looking round, but dropped flat onto his stomach. A shadowy bolt of light passed over him and smashed into Richard’s shield arm. Nix rolled over, reaching for another dart, but Trixie was quicker. She threw her sword at the last of the women, hitting her square in the chest. The Human woman stared in horror at Trixie’s sword sticking out of her, then fell. Trixie walked over, put her foot on the corpse and pulled her sword out. She looked at Nix.

“Dammit Nix…”

“What?”

“I’d never have thought you could do that.”

“Do what?”

“Be as nasty as that.”

“They’re probably working on Mum as we speak. Want me to ask her nicely?”

Trixie wiped and sheathed her sword.

“Just don’t start enjoying it.”

Richard came over, and wrapped his good arm round her. Nix looked on with his mouth open.

“What are you doing?”

Richard looked round.

“I’m snogging your sister.”

“Right,” said Nix. “Right. Um. How’s your arm?”

“Hurting like buggery. Ye gods, you are one for the hard questions, aren’t you?”

Nix sneered, reached into his pocket and pulled out a roll of cloth.

“Want some bandages for that?”

“Yes!”

“Gimme that,” said Trixie. She took Richard’s hand, laid it on her shoulder and started to wind Mageweave round and round his arm, looking deep into his eyes.

“Hurry up, will you?” said Nix.

Trixie’s eyes never wavered from Richard’s.

“Bro? Shut up.”

 

The entrance to Bezoar’s hideout was exactly where they’d expected it. Dim lights came from within. Happily, nobody seemed to be screaming in agony inside.

“Right,” said Richard. “Three clothies to deal with.”

“Plus what they manage to conjure up,” said Trixie. “That’ll take them a while, though.”

“Keep it down, you two,” said Nix. “I’ll go and investigate. You wait here.”

“Yes, O mighty leader,” said Trixie.

“Oh alright,” said Nix. “You be the leader. What do we do?”

Trixie looked at Nix through narrow eyes. “Why don’t you go and investigate, while we wait here?”

“Excellent idea. Couldn’t have thought of a better one myself.”

“Pff.”

Nix disappeared in the gloom. This was the kind of place where rogues could really shine, well, not shine. Carefully keeping his breathing under control, Nix sneaked into the disused digger. There were, as expected, three robed figures present. And at the back, hanging from ropes, were two women. One Dwarf, clearly dead, and… Nix shivered. The two women were casting some kind of spell on his mother, who hung in the ropes, while some nasty git talked to her.

“I can get any girl, Mrs. Steambender. When that little girl is dead, and my underlings come back, I will make you want me. Want me more than anything else in the world. And then, we’ll hurt you, but still you will want me.”

Nix had heard enough. He turned round and returned to Richard and Trixie.

“Listen up. Mum is hanging from ropes at the back of the room. I need you two to distract them, and I’ll get Mum loose.” Nix’ voice wavered. “She looks in a bad way, but I don’t think they started the real work yet.”

Richard gave Nix a grim look. “I suppose by ‘distract’ you mean ‘kill’, right?”

“As long as they’re not looking at Mum.”

“Right. We can do that.”

Nix hid himself once more, and this time, he sneaked past the clothies, till he ended up behind his mother. Nobody noticed him, intent as they were on Lenna. Lenna simply hung in her ropes, not answering, swinging back and forth. Just a few more seconds…

There was a mighty bang at the door, and Trixie and Richard came storming in. Bezoar looked round. He raised his fist, and shouted. A ring of dark purple light surrounded him, and knocked Trixie and Richard back. The energy hit Nix, and he almost fainted, reeling. Lenna gasped, and struggled feebly against her ropes.

“Daemons out!”

Three pairs of arms were lifted up at the same time, and magic started to flow. Moments later, three massive blue creatures filled up the small space, and started to pound on Trixie and Richard. They had the excellent sense to run outside, taking the Warlocks and their Voidwalkers with them.

Nix drew his dagger, and cut Lenna’s ropes, catching her so she wouldn’t fall to the ground. She shook her head, and looked up blearily.

“Nix?”

“Hi Mum.”

“They said you were dead.”

“Only from the neck up, Mum. Can you walk?”

“Just moment. Get my kit.”

Back in the Gnomeregan school of magic, there had been lessons in how to change your armour, well robes, quickly. Ways of folding. Ways to get in and out of your clothes efficiently. That way, you could change from one set of enchantments to another in mid-fight. While Lenna could understand perfectly why you’d want to get out of your clothes quickly, putting them on quickly had seemed a bit useless to her at the time. Now, she thanked the teacher for her lessons. In record time, Lenna pulled on her magically enchanted robes, legs, shoulders, bracers. She picked up her staff, then made a frustrated noise. Those face-melting bitches had drained her completely. Lenna closed her eyes, concentrated. A blue-hued whirlwind formed round her, gathering mana from a large area around, channeling it into her own reserves. She completed her spell. It’d have to do. They ran out. Nix ran straight at one of the blue giants, stabbing with his daggers, but it was quite clear that they were overmatched. Trixie and Richard were fighting back to back, striking out at the Daemons as they bore down on them.

Lenna raised herself to her full height, planting her feet firmly apart. She raised her staff, and concentrated. From her outstretched hand, a ball of fire spat out, straight at the closest of the Warlock women. The Human’s head was engulfed in flame, then her whole body. She didn’t even have time to scream. As she died, her Voidwalker, free of her dominion, faded and disappeared. Lenna frowned in concentration, then shot from her fingers a barrage of silvery missiles at the second Warlock woman. Each of them hit home. She died on her feet. Bezoar yelled at his Daemon, and the last of the blue creatures glided towards Lenna, fists raised to crush this meddling creature. Lenna fired at it. At the same time, Richard, Trixie and Nix leaped on it, slashing, stabbing, beating. It raised its arms in the air, gave a shivering cry and disappeared, leaving only its arm bracers lying on the ground. They looked round for Bezoar, who was nowhere to be seen. Lenna thought she heard running feet further down the tunnel.

“Right. Time to stop pissing about,” said Lenna. She gathered up all that was left of her magical energy, compressed it into a single ball of fire, and let rip. The tunnel in the direction of Stormwind turned into one roaring, crackling mass of flame. The wall of fire moved out, faster than anyone could run or even ride, all over the tunnel. Lenna shook her fist at the darkness.

“And stay dead!”

Lenna lowered her staff, and leaned on it, breathing hard. She looked round at her children. Nix. Trixie. Richard. She grinned.

“Of course, if he ran the other way, I’ll look like a complete noob. How is everyone?”

“I’m good,” said Trixie.

“Me too,” said Richard. “Plate armour good.”

“I’m fine,” said Nix. “Are you alright?”

Lenna dropped her staff, clattering on the floor, and tried to hug the three others at the same time.

“How’s Bieslook?”

“Sent her home,” said Nix. She should be there, waiting for Dad.

Lenna closed her eyes. “Light be thanked.”

Richard coughed. “I think we need to get after that last Warlock. Those guys are never as dead as they seem to be.”

“No.”

Everybody looked round. Dimly visible in the low light of the tunnel was Griggin. Lenna said nothing, stepped over to him, wrapped her arms round her husband and kissed him. Nix, Richard and Trixie looked at each other while this was going on.

“Yeah,” said Nix. “So. Anyway. Do we let this bastard run all the way to Stormwind?”

I won’t,” said Griggin. “This is my job. This is Warlock business. I’ll probably need to use my less discriminatory attacks to defeat him, so this is one fight that I will have to win alone.”

“Dad!” Trixie looked at her father. “We just cleared out a whole nest of them. Surely, we can take on one more?”

“No. You stay back. I do not want to worry about you getting hurt. Do not follow me.” Griggin looked into Lenna’s eyes. “I mean it.”

Lenna looked at Griggin, nodded.

“I still don’t like it.”

“Neither do I, but so must it be.”

Griggin ran into the tunnel without another word.


Bieslook finally reached home. She opened the letterbox, pulled at the bit of string behind it that opened the door, and went in. She took off her cloak and hung it on the peg.

“Griggin?”

No answer.

“Griggin,” she called out again.

“He isn’t here, kid,” said Raven.

“Hello. Who are you?”

“I’m Raven. Who are you?”

“Bieslook Sparkmantle, at your service. Do you know where Griggin is? I have to find him.”

“He’s gone to the Deeprun Tram tunnel, kid. Important business. Scary business.”

“Oh.”

Bieslook looked at Raven. Raven radiated kindness and friendship. She was the most trustworthy soul in this entire house.

“Could you please open these handcuffs for me, little one?”

“Don’t know how. Must find Griggin. Byebye!”

Bieslook turned round to leave. Raven shouted.

“Whoa! Don’t do that, kid. It’s dangerous there. Stay here, where it’s safe. Your dad will come back.”

“He’s not my dad,” said Bieslook. “Papa went away.”

Raven looked at the young girl, and knew what she meant.

“Aww. I’m sorry, kid. I lost my father, too.”

Bieslook looked deep into Raven’s eyes. Then, she walked up to her and put her hand on her thigh.

“He wants you to be alive and happy.”

“I doubt it,” said Raven, “But thanks.”

Bieslook went to the kitchen, pulled up a chair and climbed onto the sink. Standing up, she opened the top cupboard. She stood on her toes and could just reach the metal biscuit tin. Being careful not to drop it, she clambered down and opened it. She held out a biscuit to Raven.

“Have a biscuit. I can’t do you chocolate, because I’m not allowed to boil the water. It’s hot hot hot.”

Raven looked at the small girl, then nodded at her bound hands.

“Can’t reach, kid.”

Bieslook held the biscuit up to her mouth. Raven laughed, took it between her teeth. Bieslook had one as well.

“Thanks,” said Raven. “You’ll make a fine Rogue some day.”

“I’m going to be a Mage, almost as good as Papa,” said Bieslook.

Raven laughed, and leaned her head back.

“I’m sure you will, kid. I’m sure you will.”


Griggin caught up with Bezoar, as they came to a section of the tunnel where the roof had been cut away. The glass roof allowed the passengers of the tram to see an underground lake. Griggin had no eyes for the water landscape. Bezoar turned round. His robe was half burnt. So was his face, and his hair.

“Good afternoon, Bezoar,” said Griggin. “I see you’ve met my family.”

Bezoar grinned. “They are dead. My lovely assistants burnt them to a crisp. Your wife died begging for me to take her.”

“Amazing,” said Griggin. “I was just talking to them not twenty minutes ago. I must have very vivid hallucinations.”

“Well, now you have found me, Master. Are you prepared to die?”

Griggin’s gaze didn’t waver as he looked into Bezoar’s eyes.

“Yes. Are you?”

Bezoar laughed. “You fool. Do you think I still use the feeble techniques that you have taught me? You were only seeking to keep me weak, keep me from realising my full potential. But now, I wield the full power of the Daemon Neera. You haven’t got a chance. Rest assured, that after you die, I will return for your family, and their deaths will be slow and agonising.”

“You have given yourself to the Daemon,” said Griggin.

“I allowed the Daemon to meld her mind with mine, and as a result, we are both stronger.”

“Her.” Griggin smiled. “I was wondering about that. You have fallen to the charms of a Succubus, haven’t you?”

“I have not,” said Bezoar. “She offered me her body, her mind, her powers. I accepted them. I offered her my mind, my body, and she accepted them. I have ascended. Where you treat your Daemons as your slaves, Neera and I have become one. I will become more powerful than you could ever imagine.”

“My dear boy,” said Griggin. “You have abused the powers you were given. You have committed murder, and corrupted the souls of others to do so. And I have found you. Do you honestly think that you will live to see another sunrise?”

“Well, let’s see, shall we? Prepare to meet Neera.”

“O dear,” said Griggin. “A succubus. Whatever will I do?”

Bezoar raised his hands, and lights started to rise from his upturned palms. Griggin waited. From out of thin air, the voluptuous body of the Daemon appeared. It was somewhat larger than usual. Its eyes burnt with a cold, cruel, white light. Griggin gasped. Old memories came to him. Memories of pain. Screams. The smell of scorched flesh. Blood. Darkness. He shook.

“I know you.”

“And I know you, Warlock. You were the one that gave me that delicious spectacle back in Gnomeregan.” The Daemon licked its lips. “And now, I will feast on you. Do I guess rightly that my flesh-puppet is your very own student? Oh, the irony.”

“That is not irony,” said Griggin, getting a grip on himself.

“You may be right,” said the Daemon. “I am no expert on the things you mortals do to amuse yourself. Except one. I find the things that cause you pain and grief much more rewarding.”

Bezoar looked up at his minion, or mistress, or both. Then, he grinned at Griggin.

“Well, master. I have shown you my weapon of choice. Aren’t you going to summon a minion?”

Griggin took a deep breath.

“No. I will fight you myself.”

“As you wish. Neera, kill him. Make it hurt. Make it last.”

Griggin frowned. His skin glowed with fel energy. Neera’s whip struck out, and struck home. Griggin’s shadow ward took the damage. Griggin shouted. He raised his hands, and the image of a Daemon’s skull appeared above his head. It belched purple fire at Bezoar and his Daemon. Griggin watched it eat into their skins. Bezoar grunted, then raised himself.

“Is that the best you can do, Master?”

Bezoar’s hand shot forward, and a bolt of shadow hit Griggin in the chest, absorbed by his ward. Neera’s whip lashed out again. Griggin set his jaw. The ward wouldn’t last much longer.

“Give it up. Your death cannot be averted. Stop resisting, and I’ll make it a quick one.”

Griggin shook. He concentrated, and cast another spell of warding. An expensive one, but one that gave him more power to strike out. More shadow bolts struck him. He knew what he had to do. He must banish the Daemon, kill his student. Griggin had failed him, allowing Bezoar to become trapped by the Succubus’ seductions. He looked into Bezoar’s eyes. They seemed to be glowing with an inner fire, hate, passion. He would go on to hurt, kill, torture if Griggin allowed him to live, and still, it was his fault that things had come to this pass. He was a seasoned Warlock, an experienced mentor of the young and impressionable. Had he the right?

More attacks hit his Shadow Ward, and with a little sound, it disappeared. The next stroke of the whip penetrated his defences, and Griggin cried out in pain. He did not want to kill one of his own, and yet, he must, or he would perish, and many others with him. He must kill, but he hesitated, tried to put off the moment of his defeat. He would be useless. Incapable of giving out the guidance young Warlocks needed so much. Griggin leapt aside, and Bezoar’s shadow bolt sailed past him. Griggin needed to decide. Now. Life. Death. Both spelled defeat, but which was the greater one? He craved simplicity, and among his arsenal of spells, there was one that provided all he needed.

Griggin shouted the syllables. His body disappeared in a cloud of purple haze, and coalesced into a much larger, more deadly shape.

Griggin roared. Gone was all doubt, all ambiguity. Here were his enemies. They must die. The Succubus, small and insignificant now, before his form, lashed out with its whip again. Griggin shrugged off the attack. He charged forward, great claws slashing out. The female form was thrown back, crashing into the wall of the tunnel, and slumped, trying without success to raise itself. Griggin slashed out at it as it lay. It was the enemy. It must be torn to pieces. It must die. Dark Demonic blood gushed from deep wounds in the Succubus’ stomach, chest, throat. It gave one gurgling cry, then fell dead to the floor.

Griggin cried out, words in the language of Eredun.

Katra zil shukil!

Suffer and perish.

He turned to Bezoar, who was pelting him with his pathetic little shadow bolts. He felt them eat into his Demonic form, but ignored them. He grasped the Gnome between his claws. His leg came away easily. So did his arm. Griggin dropped the body to the ground, put a foot on it, took the head between his claws, and pulled.

Shaza-kiel!

 

Griggin stood still in the dim light of the Deeprun Tram tunnel. His eyes were closed. Between his hands was an object that he did not want to look at, but had to. He opened his eyes, to look into Bezoar’s staring, burnt face. Griggin resisted an urge to throw the horrible… thing away from him, and gently put it down on the floor. He wiped his hands on his robes, but the feeling of filth remained.

“I am… sorry,” said Griggin. “I am so sorry.”

Fighting the urge to throw up, he gathered the body parts in a heap, then raised his hand. Fire blasted down, and the thing that had once been Bezoar, burnt to ashes. Griggin took up his staff, turned round and walked back towards Ironforge without looking back.


Copyright: © 2008,2009,2010 Menno Willemse. All rights reserved.

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