The rocks being hurled at her from below were what stopped her screaming. By some form of demonic power, Million had matched her descent with her, and had drawn close.
“Want me to dive down and take care of that, Master?” She asked, pointing downwards. From her back, pulses of golden fire flared every so often, and her blonde hair flicked dramatically above her head as she fell.
“No,” Emel said vigorously. “I’ll…” The glimmering of the water below caught her eye. Pointing her staff down, she concentrated on both the power held in the ancient artefact, and on just what she wanted the water below to do. From between jagged rocks and shallow pools it bubbled forth. A rolling cloud of steam burst from the froth, hissing along towards the Grologs who had come out to defend their hive. Even though objects had ceased to be hurled as they ran from the steam, she wasn’t done yet. A flare of power from the staff, and the mist crystallized. Flecks of ice danced around the dim illumination at the bottom of the cavern, even as the Grologs stood frozen to the spot.
Grinning with approval, Million sidled up to her. “That was impressive. There’s got to be a dozen of them, all hit at once. That won’t hold them for long though.”
Nodding, Emel gritted her teeth as she focused once more on her staff. A swirling torus of air began to whistle around the head, drawing dust in the air in to form a visible circle. The blast shot forwards to gather momentum as it neared the ground. The impact sent water, rocks and frozen Grologs everywhere with some rather painful looking results.
Millions arms came around her as she sagged, taking a deep breath as they finished their descent. “It’s fine… we’ve landed, Master.” She said gently, carrying her through the bottom of the chasm. It was quiet for now, if a little darker due to the splash of water washing away some of the patches of luminescence.
“That was…” she took a deep breath, “rather tiring…” Sweat had beaded across her brow, the three spells having drained her staff’s energy reserves and called on her to contribute directly.
“I really need to teach you my language.” Million mused. On noting her curious look, she went onwards. “The demonic language is formed of six groups of twenty one runes. These runes can be combined together to form words and phrases, and a skilled person can use the words, and a source of demonic power,” she paused, looking side to side in a conspiratorial manner before whispering, “that’s me,” she winked, “to cast magic.”
“I’d heard bits and pieces about it, but some of that’s new to me.” Emel replied, pointing over at a partially collapsed tunnel entrance. “Look at the way those rocks are cleared to the sides unlike the others. I’d say that’s the hive location.”
Nodding, Million headed in that direction. “Probably information that was hidden away, as if speaking our language might awaken us again.”
“So… Million isn’t really your name?”
Chuckling, Million stepped over one of the fallen beasts. “It means pretty much the same thing. It’d be pronounced MiLuNo. Mi is ‘Last, Final’. Lu would be ‘Us, Belonging’, and No is, surprisingly, ‘Number, Amount’.”
Emel tested the name out a few times. “Yeah, I guess that is pretty similar. I don’t know about using your language for magic though, I mean…”
“You’re worried that somehow, speaking my language and using me to help say, recharge your staff or make the fluff between your toes disappear-”
“You have a spell for that?” The mage blinked incredulously.
“Probably.” Million grinned, carefully setting Emel down as they reached the tunnel. The ground beyond that point was flat, having been carefully carved out and laid in a rectangular pattern by the ancients many years before. “It won’t turn you into some whip… uh, whipping dark queen of evil and lipstick.”
“Why would I have a whip?” Emel asked, stepping forwards to examine the slight impediment to their journey. A large set of stone doors blocked their passage, marked with a symbol that she had seen in town a few times before hand.
“I’ll tell you when we’re not staring at a big slab of denial.” Million grumbled, rapping her bone-shod knuckles against the door. “No idea what the symbol is.”
“No idea how to open it either. I think I’ll pass out if I try to pull the doors open…” She sighed, before looking at the floor near the door. “I think this is the way too, look at this pile along here… the doors were open for a long time, and closed recently, brushing all this to the line.” Indicating what she meant with her hand, she stepped back with a sigh. “Looks like I’m going to have to try and blow it open.”
“Maybe not.” Million hummed, beckoning her over. “I need to teach you a spell later to try and destroy the hive, so… why don’t we have a practice run here, with the door?” She scratched a few symbols into the doorway with one of her pointed, slightly curled claws.
“If you’re sure, Million…” Emel said, not entirely convinced.
“Trust in me, Master?” Million asked in a quiet voice.
“Okay… all right. What do these symbols mean?” She said, pointing to the three marked in on the stone.
“The first one,” Million indicated a shape of two horizontal, parallel lines with a sideways ‘T’ in, “is Ji. It means Open, Loud.” The next one she tapped was a square with three small vertical lines in. “‘We, means Way, Path.” The final one was a triangle with another sideways T in. “This is Ja, which is Magic, Wonder.”
“So, the sideways ‘T’ is a ‘jay’ sound?” Emel asked, noting the impressed look on her demon’s face. Narrowing her eyes, she examined the symbols closer. “So, the outer shape determines the vowel it ends in, while the inner symbol denotes the consonant? But… there’s only five vowels.”
“Y’s a special one in our language. Which gets weird when you have ‘Yy’.” She said. “Yiyeh is about the closest I can get it in your language. Still, you catch on quick, Master.” Million beamed, ruffling Emel’s ponytail.
“So… JeWeJa?” Emel tentatively sounded out the words a couple of times.
“Open Way Magic.” Million nodded. “Exactly what it says on the… runes.”
Pausing as a thought came to mind, she turned to face her, hands on hips. “If you know this, how come you can’t cast the spell to open it up?”
“Wrong caste.” The demon shrugged. “All my awesomeness goes towards being a combat beast. You, however, could draw on my power to work the spell.” Holding her armoured hand out, a flickering ball of golden fire appeared above her palm. “Take the fire, say the words and think, really hard, on opening the door as you speak. Imagine you want it open. Think about it swinging wide open as you say it.”
With a slight hesitation, Emel cupped her hands around the fire. She could feel each lick of flame dancing with unearthly power as she held it.
“That’s it, Master.” Million nodded encouragingly. “Draw on the fire as you think and speak.”
In her mind she pictured the heavy, sealed doors parting, swinging past to rumble as they collided with the wall. She imagined the bang from that reverberating down the corridor beyond, and the cloud of dust wisping about their feet as it started to settle from the movement. The fire burned brighter in her hands as she extended them towards the door, taking a deep breath before speaking.
The squeal of terror Emel made as the doors violently flung open, shaking chunks of stone from the ceiling at the forceful collision, was nothing compared to the squeal of joy from Million, before she was hefted up into a congratulatory hug.