Vur and Tafel stood next to each other as they stood on top of Grimmy’s head. Lillian, Paul, and Michelle were hanging in the air, held by one of the black dragon’s claws. Lindyss flew in front of Grimmy, a pair of translucent batwings sprouting from her back. Grimmy hovered in the air above the Leonis territory. Soldiers were rushing out of a castle towards the farmlands surrounding it. A sea of flames blazed in the western most tip of the farms, heading east towards the castle.
Lillian’s eyes glowed with a white light as she scanned the land beneath her. “I see Grandpa!” she shouted and pointed towards the wave of soldiers rushing towards the fire. Her eyes narrowed. “He’s fighting against a group of fairies. I have to help him!” Lillian scrambled up Grimmy’s claw and steadied herself as she conjured a white bow and nocked an arrow made of light.
Paul squinted and shielded his eyes from the sun with his right hand. “Can you really hit them from here?” he asked. “Grandpa barely looks bigger than an ant.”
Lillian released her arrow in response. It screeched as it ripped apart the air in front of it, homing in on the dust-sized fairy below. It left behind a trail of light in the air like a shooting star across the night sky.
Lindyss raised an eyebrow as the arrow struck its target. “Not bad,” she said as the arrow smashed against the fairy’s body, knocking it into the ground. The soldiers in front of the fairy froze before looking up into the sky, following the trail of light. “It’s a shame they’re resistant to magic.” Lindyss shook her head and the fairy started to crawl out of the hole in the ground that its body had created.
Lillian’s grandpa stepped forward and beheaded the fairy before its body could climb all the way out. A worm lunged out of the fairy’s carcass towards the man, but he punted it away with his shield. Another arrow of light flew through the air and struck the worm’s body, disintegrating it with a white flame.
“It seems like the humans can take care of themselves,” Grimmy said as he flew closer to the combat area. A few of the humans were casting water spells to douse the burning farms while the armored men fended off the fairies. Arrows of light knocked the fairies in the air to the ground, preventing them from escaping the swords’ range. A rune formed on Michelle’s forehead as she chanted a spell. A few moments later, pillars of white light rained down on the battlefield, healing the humans and blinding the fairies.
“The infected ones haven’t started using magic yet,” Lindyss said as she flew alongside Grimmy. She rubbed her chin with her hand. “I wonder why. Maybe this is a weaker breed of worms? If that’s the case, you can leave the three humans here while we head to the underground tunnel system.”
Grimmy nodded. “You hear that, kiddies?” he asked the three humans standing on his claw. “I’m going to drop you now.” The trio screamed as the foundation they were standing on vanished, causing them to plummet towards the ground. Lindyss conjured a cushion of air beneath them, stopping their descent inches away from the ground.
“We’re going to find Stella?” Vur asked. His hands closed and tightened into fists.
Lindyss nodded. “Ideally, she’d be unprepared because she’s currently possessing someone,” she said as she flew towards the west. Her eyes narrowed. “I’m not letting her get away this time.”
Vur frowned. “Is she really a bad person?” he asked. He looked down at the lightning elemental hanging on the end of his necklace. “When I helped free her, she gave me Sparky as a present. And she seemed to really care about Rella, Bella, and…” Vur paused and furrowed his brow.
Tafel took Vur’s hand into her own. “Even if she was nice,” she said and stared him in the eyes, “it doesn’t pardon her for what she’s done. I just became the demon lord a few days ago, but I’ve read a lot of reports about missing people. She’s kidnapped over a thousand demons and humans over the past ten years. And with this worm business, I don’t even want to think about how many are dead or wish they were dead.”
Vur sighed and nodded. “I just want to know why she suddenly changed from nice and caring to evil and cursey after Auntie showed up,” he said and turned to face Lindyss’ back. “What exactly happened between the two of them?”
Lindyss continued to fly forwards without pause and Grimmy took a sudden interest in studying his nails.
The pope opened his eyes. A pair of speckled reptilian irises stared down at him. “Finally awake?” a feminine voice asked through Trent’s mouth. “I was wondering how long you were going to sleep for.”
The pope tried to sit up, but found himself unable to move his body a single inch. His body was lying on a table with bands of orange metal wrapped around his wrists, ankles, neck, and chest. “You’re not Trent,” the pope said as his body shivered. A breeze rolled over his body and he realized he was naked.
“What makes you say that?” Trent asked, his voice still high-pitched and lilting. “What makes a human a person? What makes Trent Trent? His body? His thoughts?” A silver knife glinted in Trent’s hand as he traced its edge along the contours of the pope’s body.
“You!” the pope narrowed his eyes. A white rune appeared on his forehead and webs of light appeared on his body.
“Oops,” Trent said as the knife’s blade disappeared into the pope’s body. He flashed a smile. “Can’t have you doing that right now.”
The rune disappeared and the light faded. The pope coughed and a trickle of blood leaked out the corner of his mouth. He grunted. “W-who are you?”
Trent licked his lips as he turned around and selected another knife from the table behind him. “I’m just a nobody,” he said. “Forgotten for a few centuries. Completely and utterly forgotten.” His eyes turned red as he stabbed the knife downwards, leaving a gouge in the table. He whipped his head around to face the pope. “But not for long. Soon, no one will be able to forget my name.” He crouched and pulled a bucket out from underneath the table.
The pope’s eyes shifted downwards. His skin crawled as he saw a mass of wriggling worms devouring each other inside the bucket.
He groaned. “Why?”
Trent stared at the worms as they wriggled just underneath his face. “Why? No real reason,” he said and smiled. “Maybe revenge against the person who took everything from me.”
“I never did anything to you,” the pope said. His eyes widened as Trent reached into the bucket and pulled out a worm. “I can help you.”
Trent sauntered over to the pope with the worm’s body thrashing against his arm. “You’re right. You didn’t do anything to me,” Trent said and nodded. The pope let out a slow exhale. “Just like everyone else. They completely ignored my existence, content with me being the sacrifice. No one spoke up. No one did anything. Just. Like. You.”
The pope shrieked as the worm entered the sole of his foot and crawled towards his heart. Trent stared, expression unchanging as the pope’s body convulsed and thrashed against its bindings. He turned his head away from the pope and locked his gaze onto a figure in the corner of the room.
“Did you enjoy the show, little prince?” Trent asked with a smile. Whimpers slipped out of Rudolph’s mouth.
“Don’t worry,” Trent said as he walked in front of Rudolph. “I’ll give you a chance to live.” He pinched Rudolph’s nose and tossed a green orb down his throat when he opened his mouth to breathe. Trent placed his hands against the chains holding Rudolph down and shattered them.
“Run. The eggs will hatch if you’re too slow,” Trent said and took a step back. “It’d be such a tragedy if the crown prince started to slaughter his own citizens in cold blood.”