One: It Came From Flora's Bedroom........
My week had been boring and things weren't getting any
better. You see, I had just returned from Carolain (one of the
Golden Circle shadows we deal with). It had been about as
uneventful as diplomatic missions come - delivering a wedding
gift. Random, of course, did not have the inclination to send an
interesting gift; Like, say, a bomb. While I have nothing against
Carolain it's self, I don't like the head ambassadors daughter,
to whom I was sent to deliver the gift(which I never did get to
see, though it was heavy).
Well, I was more than half considering taking off for a jaunt in shadow to find some action when Random ambushed me and asked if I could hang around for a court event tonight. Grudgingly I agreed, but only after Random made it quite clear that having family present tonight was very important. He even tried to convince me to wear a dress, which I said I'd consider.........
As I walked down the hall I was "considering" it in my usual way: There will be plenty of time to pick out clothes later, say, after the party has started, and until then I can kill some time in the library.
So, I started towards the library, walking by Flora's rooms, which have grown considerably since the remodeling (Flora never has been one to pass up an opportunity to add to her living space).
That's when I heard a high pitched shriek followed by some sort of explosion.
Without thinking I reached for my ever present blade, Talshan, but the door to Flora's quarters opened inward before I had a chance to react.
Flora backed out rapidly, garbed in a rather nice lime colored dress and holding two long, slim daggers with curved blades in front of her. A tiny arch of electricity danced between the two blades, a sight which would have been impressive if the thing didn't appear next.
It was, literally, a two foot floating, leathery crimson head supported by two ridicules bat wings that couldn't have been much larger than my hand. The thing opened it's mouth, giving me a nice view of rows of shiny silver teeth which looked razor sharp.
I blinked. The pock scared, slobbering monstrosity was far more impressive than Flora's electric knives.
Flora continued backing up, in my direction I might add, making a direct rush of the creature impossible. Suddenly she brought her hands together and, presumably, crossed the blades. A bolt of lightning arched, then hit the thing.....sort of.
The beast opened it's grotesque mouth even wider(which I had not thought possible) and swallowed the bolt, growing a foot in the process.
Flora backed up to my side. "Oooh, I was afraid of that. Got any ideas, Shawna?"
I gave a smile - one of relief. I was half afraid that she was going to try to use those knives on me (while demon like creatures are a bit of my line for revenge, Flora doesn't know that and, well, there was the boa constrictor in Julian's bed a few years back.......)
"It eats magic?" I asked mildly, drawing my blade as I glanced at her knives, looking for anything inscribed on them. They appeared ordinary, which was slightly disappointing.
"I don't suppose you can be reasoned with?" I asked hopelessly, drawing my sword and advancing slowly. I swear that the thing smiled, showing all it's teeth. My Grandma what big teeth you have...........
It didn't reply to my question - not that I expected it too. Most slobbering beaty eyed creatures don't speak - they're too busy choking on their drool.
I continued to advance, trying to look menacing, which probably didn't do any good, but it made me feel better.
Suddenly it belched and a steamy batch of yellow bile came right towards me. I could have dodged it, but then it would have hit Aunt Flora. I moved back and pushed her to the side, flat against the wall just in time.
Some of the spittle splashed on my armor, leaving behind steam and pock marks. I shuddered, imaging what a direct hit would have done.
"Ewwww," Flora said, nose squinched as she watched the gunk ooze through the carpeting and eat at the wall.
"That about sums it up," I muttered.
I studied the thing, trying to decide whether I could slam my sword through the top of it's mouth without losing my arm(no need to be like Dad after all......)
Fortunately for the beast, I could see no way of puncturing it's brain through the mouth. Assuming that it didn't drench my arm in acid as I charged at it, I could rupture the acid producing organ and, while killing the thing, drench not only my arm, but other body parts as well.
That's what my Father would have done.
Too bad I'm not into self sacrifice the way he is.
Instead I advanced again, focusing on one of it's silver, black pupiled eyes. There were at least two dozen of them, probably more.
Drooling, it moved towards me as well.
I lunged and the beast moved with incredible speed, turning on it's axis causing me to miss my intended target. Still, I managed to splice a different eye on the rebound.
The eye flew from the body and landed several feet away with a metallic "clang".
It didn't even notice.
Rotating again, it tried to bite my blade (and damn near succeeded) as I pulled back from my lunge.
It bobbed in front of me, salivating with it's mouth and glaring with it's dozens of beaty eyes, trying to find a way around my blade.
I backed up towards Flora, praying that the thing didn't follow. God, apparently, was too busy or perhaps this creature was out of his jurisdiction. The thing continued to advance, drooling as it came.
"Aunt Flora," I said, reaching her, "can you try and distract this thing for a few minuets without getting roasted by it's spittle? I'm going to try to get behind it and see if I can cleave the thing in two."
She looked at me like *I* had grown another head.
"Are you nuts?!? Why don't you just cleave it from the front, you're Benedict's little trooper, aren't you?"
I winced. "I think you have me confused with my sister." Catherina, who is called Caddy because she's always in Dad's wake, is Benedict's little trooper. I may love weapons and tactics as much as dear old Dad, but I'm far from a trooper. Hell, I don't even enjoy killing things the way he does.
The thing then gave me an opening.
It was preparing to spit and paused. If I tried to cleave it, I may succeed. The down side was that if I failed, I would by drenched in it's acidic spittle, which could put a dampener on my showing up for dinner tonight.
"Oh what the hell," I muttered. "The worst it can do is kill me."
Grimacing slightly, I took the opening, trying not to think about how I would look with flesh oozing off my bones.
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