To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below. *** Without Orchid’s magic to keep the enormous flower in place, the structure tipped downward toward collapse. Sabine struggled to stand as
To read the previous adventures of Sabine, click here. The story continues below.
Without Orchid’s magic to keep the enormous flower in place, the structure tipped downward toward collapse. Sabine struggled to stand as it was, slipped, and clung to the pedal beneath her feet for dear life. Yards away, Deacon Struct knelt and pleaded into the portal.
“Please, oh great one, I the wager is lost, but I can still—”
MORE! MORE HUNGRY!
The three claws swung about carelessly toward the genuflecting Struct. Whether because of that recklessness or because the tower was falling it was not known, but in the midst of the swinging, the claws gouged three great, horrible slashes from Struct’s face to his chest. The deacon screamed, but along with his shrill agony was something like joy. “I have been sanctified. I have been sanctified!” He called this again and again as he lost his grip and fell from the platform.
Sabine looked toward the rest of the tower as the still-unconscious girls started to slip off. Hands tight on the flower, she shouted in both terror and sickness, “What—hic—what do we do?”
Hells, girl, I don’t know, Dahkhal said. You made that mad god a sacrifice, didn’t you? Maybe you can—
The Under-Where rumbled again with a long question of, Chiiiicken? Whaaaat is the chicken doing here?
Oh gods. Dahkhal’s mental voice, for the first time Sabine had ever heard it, actually trembled. It’s him.
“What?” Sabine jerked her head about frantically. “What are you talking about? What is going on here?”
Barphurmuir, that thing is called Barphurmuir, Dahkhal said. And it seems he can hear me.
Chicken, chicken, where is the chicken? The monstrous hand from the portal again fumbled around. Even the sloppy movements had enough force to push the collapsing tower back into the opposite direction and, for just a moment, Sabine and the girls were stable again. Then it began to tilt once more. As it did, out from the portal came an enormous BURP as the beast within belched. The great waft both stank and was substantial enough to fog the air with red.
“Wait—wait a sec.” Sabine looked down toward the athame in her hands, still slick with Orchid’s blood. She still had some of the same fae queen that had opened the portal in the first place, maybe that was enough. “All right, lady, get me home.”
As if reacting to her request, the blood on the dagger extended into a bright red, secondary blade the length of a longsword. Sabine had only a moment to marvel at the change before she remembered her situation, thrust the sword down into the petal she stood on, and ran up the tilting flower. As the ran, the blade cut through the two worlds, a portal back to the land she knew formed in the center of the fissure.
Hungry! The mad god on the other side of his own portal proclaimed. Hungry for chicken! And he smacked the tower a final time.
Sabine lost her balance as she came to the opposite petal, but the fissure was complete. She and the six other girls all fell downward into darkness.
About three seconds of Sabine’s screams later, they all collapsed onto the side of a lake, interrupting the argument over all the lost money Kuroda and Bullshido, the allies Sabine had split from, were deep into.
Sabine settled into her usual spot at the Stubborn Ass with a glass of pickle juice and sausage runoff, which Slizzer sold as the house hangover cure. Three days had passed since she and the maidens had come home, and her head was still pounding. Since she was still drunk when she’d gone to collect her reward with the other mercenaries, Kuroda and Bullshido convinced their clienteles they had done most of the heavy lifting, Sabine just sat and drank the whole time. For defeating a wicked goddess and saving six lives, she received only a pittance.
There was only so much time to linger on that. No one Sabine asked had seen or heard anything of Deacon Struct since his fall. And much as she wanted to hope that meant the end of him, that thought seemed overly optimistic. Among other things, she knew firsthand he wasn’t just a raving zealot with some black magic. His wicked god was real and seemed a true force to be reckoned with.
“So then,” Sabine gagged as she took a sip from her cure glass. “What do you know about what we’re really up against?”
Dahkhal let out a long, exaggerated breath. The story goes as many do: In the beginning…