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The next day, the party found themselves in the middle of a battle.
“Remind me, whose bright idea was this?” Ailbhe asked as she struggled against a demon. The small cavern they were currently fighting in was connected to two others; the one they’d just come through was littered with corpses. Some belonged to unfortunate adventurers, most were demons much like the ones they now fought.
“Yours,” Iain said. He continued to stab his two demons with his spear.
“Right. Remind me to kill whoever gave us this mission when we get back,” she said as she finally stabbed the demon. White flames erupted from the wound and engulfed the twisted creature.
“Still can’t believe it,” Iain muttered and punched a smaller demon in the face.
“What’s that?” Ailbhe called.
He bashed a demon in the back of the head with the pole end of his spear. “I can’t believe you still have a paladin’s powers,” he growled.
“You’d better be frigging glad I do,” she said as she sliced a demon’s shoulder. “It’s hard to cover your ass and protect Seamus too.”
“It was you’re idea to bring him,” he said as he engaged the next to last demon.
“I’m sorry, I thought he might be marginally more useful than Ciardhe. How was I supposed to know she’d tie up demons with an orgy and he’d hide in the corner?” she asked as she fought the last demon.
“Well he’s a bard for one,” Iain said.
“Yeah, and Ciardhe’s a healer, but you don’t see her-” There was a pause. “Shit…”
Iain looked over just in time to see the paladin fall back into a deep pool of water. The demon she’d been fighting screamed as her blood ate away at him like acid.
“Do you always have to have such dramatic fights?” He muttered as he stabbed the demon and went to help his friend.
Ailbhe coughed as he pulled her out. “It’s not that bad,” she said, her hand pressed tightly against her side.
“Let me see,” the berserker said, tugging her hand away. Though not life threatening, there was a lot of blood. “I’ve got enough in me for a mid-level healing spell.”
“You need that more than I do,” she said. She swiped blood off his cheek with a finger; he hissed.
“Shut up and hold still.” He cast the spell; the wound stopped bleeding, but would probably require stitches.
“Okay, now you go wash off and I’ll heal your worst wounds,” she said. “Gotta be able to see where you’re hurt.”
“Fine,” he said and slunk into the pool of water to clean himself off.
While she waited for him, paladin approached Seamus, holding out her hands like she would to a skittish dog. “Hey, you’re alright,” she said. “We got ’em. They’re all dead.” She helped him to his feet.
“There are more coming,” he said, eyes wide.
“Are there?” She turned to look. Sure enough several demons emerged from the tunnel to the next section. “Shit.” She pushed the bard towards the water. “Go play with Iain. I’ll deal with the demons.”
Seamus stumbled towards the water as she drew her sword and walked back into battle. A few more demons emerged from the tunnel.
“You need help?” Iain called.
“Nah, there aren’t that many,” she said. Her sword went ‘snicker-snack’ and the demons went “woosh” as they burst into flames. For several moments it looked like she would hold her own, even as more demons arrived. Then one snuck around behind her and knocked her off balance, giving the rest a chance to mob her.
“Sonova-” Iain surged out of the water. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end so that it looked like bristles and his eyes became bloodshot. He growled and lunged at the nearest demon.
It only took him moments to beat his way through the hoard covering the paladin. The wound on her side had reopened and she had a large gash on one of her arms. Iain grabbed her and dragged her away. He had just turned back to fight again when the king of demons came through the tunnel.
The creature was tall and skinny, and looked for all the world like an androgynous, mildly anorexic, tween. Iain growled at it.
“You made it pretty far,” the hideous thing said. “But you forgot your prequest instruction. ‘Keep pressing forward, don’t stop for anything’.”
“Why the hell is a monster lecturing us?” Ailbhe asked as she struggled upright.
Iain grunted and crouched, glaring at the demon. The paladin grabbed him before he could lunge.
“Hold it,” she said. “You’re in no condition to fight.”
“Oh do let him. At least then he’ll die in battle,” the demon king said.
Ailbhe tried to keep hold of her friend, but he elbowed her off and lunged at the underfed creature of undetermined gender. The demon king swatted him away with one overpowered blow. The berserker bounced once before landing on all fours and lunging again. The demon side stepped.
“You know what I love about ‘serks?” the demon asked as it batted Iain away again. “They’re so predictable.” The next toss landed the berserker in the water. Iain came up coughing moments later, his hair limp and his eyes no long red.
“And now for you, my dear,” the demon king said to the paladin. “Come here, I’ll make this quick.”
As it reached for Ailbhe, though, a voice rang out from the shadows. “Aha! There you are. Thought you could get away from me, did you?”
Ailbhe and the demon king turned to see Ciardhe emerge from tunnel entrance. The demon blanched.
“Come here, darling,” the healer said. “Let me love you.”
The demon king turned tail and ran. Ciardhe followed close behind, calling for him to come back.
Ailbhe groaned and rolled over onto her stomach to crawl to the water. Iain was still in there with Seamus, hugging the bard tightly.
“Let go of him, Iain! Or at least let him come up for air.”
Of course the berserker did no such thing.