Chapter 51

Eight people dressed in purple robes stood in a circle around a glowing orange orb. It wriggled and bulged as worms swam around inside of it. A circular rune inscribed on the floor shone with a red light, illuminating the people.

“Is this really the only way?” a man asked. He was the demon talking with Loffel and Gabel earlier.

“No, but this is how we’re doing it, Troy,” one of the figures replied. “Chad and Tina disappeared after killing Zollstock.”

Troy stared at the worms wriggling inside the gelatinous orb in front of him and frowned. The metal doors behind him swung open with a clang and a black clad man dragged a hornless demon by his right leg into the room. The hornless demon remained expressionless as his bare skin scraped against the rocky floor. The black clad man tossed the demon into the circle underneath the orange orb. The hornless demon grunted as his body collided with the surface. His eyes widened and his body shook when he saw the glowing orb above him.

“Please, no,” he said. His lips were cracked and the outline of his bones were visible underneath his skin. “Not the worms.” Red tendrils rose out of the rune beneath the hornless demon and wrapped around his body, pinning him to the floor.

One of the robed figures chuckled. “Don’t worry, this’ll be the last time,” he said and smiled. He turned towards the black clad man. “Bring all of them.”

The man nodded and stepped outside of the room. Doors slammed open and shuffling sounds echoed through the chamber. A few moments later, a line of hornless demons stood at the entrance to the room. Their mouths were slightly parted and their stares were unfocused, as if looking through the walls behind the men. Each of them shook as they approached the wriggling orb and a few wet themselves. More red tendrils erupted from the rune and wrapped around the twenty or so hornless demons, positioning them around the orb.

“How do we stop them afterwards?” Troy asked.

“They’ll die on their own,” one of the robed figures with a white beard said and smiled, “given enough time.”

“Too many lives will be lost,” Troy said and frowned.

“Can you stop the corrupted one?”

Troy’s brow wrinkled. “No, but-“

“Then join hands with us,” the bearded demon said and motioned towards the pile of demons on the ground with his head, “or join hands with them. The choice is yours.”

Troy looked at the trembling demons on the ground and gritted his teeth. He extended his arms out to the side and looked around. “Well?” he asked. “Let’s hurry up and do this.”

The bearded demon smiled and extended his arms out to the side. The other robed figures followed suit and pillars of red light engulfed the eight demons. Orange streams of light extended from the orb and made contact with the foreheads of the demons lying on the floor. The light streams wriggled as worms squirmed out of the orb into the bodies of the demons. They screamed with wide eyes as the worms dug into their skulls and disappeared from view. After a few moments the screams stopped and were replaced by moans.

The demons thrashed against the ground and grabbed at the red tendrils around their bodies. The tendrils dimmed as particles of red light flowed into their bodies. A breeze blew through the chamber and whipped into a cyclone around the struggling demons. A few managed to climb to their feet and lunge at the purple robed figures before a white light flashed and they disappeared from the chamber.

The bearded demon let out a shaky breath before he nodded. The image of an outstretched hand reaching for his throat flashed in his mind. “Let’s board the airship and get out of here.”

The other demons murmured in assent.

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“Disgusting.”

Chad and Tina sat on the roof of a building with their respective groups standing behind them. Tina frowned as her eyebrows knit together. The two adventurer groups watched as Lindyss rained lightning down on twenty figures throwing rocks upwards from beneath her. Each time the lightning struck their bodies, they grew a little bigger. Their flesh wriggled and the head of a worm burst through the skin every so often.

“What are those doing here?” Tina asked as she gripped her staff. “How’d they even store those leeches?”

Chad snorted. “You’re too trusting of the royal family. Of course they’d weaponize those freaks.” He turned towards the Black Hounds standing behind him. “Let’s go.”

“Wait,” Tina said. “You’re not going to stop them?”

Chad shook his head. “I was going to wait. Let them sweat a bit before stopping her,” he said. He motioned in the direction of the hornless demons. “Those things. They brought it on themselves.”

“Dustin’s still in the city, you know?” Tina said and raised an eyebrow.

Chad narrowed his eyes at her. He showed his teeth as he smiled before turning around and walking away.

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Bzz! Bzz!

The lightning elemental sat on top of Vur’s sleeping head, emitting trails of blue electricity. Vur snorted and rolled over onto his side, causing the elemental to fall onto the floor. It rattled and bounced in place three times before jumping back onto Vur’s head.

Bzz!

Red lightning trails snaked outwards from the elemental and enveloped Vur’s body. A few wisps of smoke rose into the air as the lightning came in contact with his hair. Vur let out another snort and swatted the lightning elemental with the back of his hand before rolling over onto his stomach. The lightning elemental tumbled along the ground and stopped after crashing into a rock. It let out a low buzz before shaking itself off and hopping back towards Vur. It tilted its body to the side and remained motionless while facing the naked boy in front of it. After a moment, it straightened its body and wind started to rotate around it. A miniature black cloud appeared above the elemental and grew larger as the wind circulated faster. Tiny purple sparks coursed through the cloud, emitting low rumbles.

The wind stopped. A purple lightning bolt shot out of the cloud and struck Vur’s left butt cheek. He twitched and let out a yelp as his eyes shot open. His head swiveled around and his gaze focused on the dissipating cloud. The pink elemental froze as Vur’s pink tinged eyes stared at it. Vur rubbed his eye-boogers away with the back of his hand and the elemental shuddered before hopping away.

“Wait,” Vur said towards the elemental as he surveyed his surroundings. The elemental didn’t stop.

“Where am I?” Vur muttered as he clambered to his feet and trotted after the pink elemental. The ground was cracked and patches of burnt grass littered the path. Black clouds filled the sky, rotating around a single red orb hovering above a smoldering building. Vur squinted at the orb and sucked in his breath. Images of Lindyss choking on a black mist flooded his mind and his eyes turned red. He shone with a golden light as a web of runes spread throughout his body, starting from his forehead. His feet left miniature craters in the ground as he dashed past the elemental towards the orb.

 

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