Emel’s lungs burned as she ran across the fractured ground. Not long after opening the sealed passageway, things had started to go wrong. And now she was alone, dodging packs of Grologs and the vicious, powerful magics of the monstrous blue warlocks. A blast of shadow surged past her, leaving her left arm feeling chilled from the close proximity of its wake.
They had progressed down the tunnel that opened into a large, dark chamber lit only by glowing crystals and patches of fungi. In the centre stood a ziggurat carved from a singular rock formation. In the past it may have stood as a wondrous temple or meeting hall. Now it was corrupt. Tumour-like growths of dark blue flesh with thick black veins seeped out from the tiers and plinths accompanied by the fetid stench of decay. The thousand year old hive was as active as ever, given the swarm of Grologs around it.
Their approach may have been a stealthy one, were it not for the mages on the top tier of the structure, chanting in their demonic language. Once they had sensed the presence of a young mage and her demon guardian, they had howled defiantly and rallied their troops to attack.
Emel tucked herself into an alcove, narrowly avoiding a pair of scouting Grologs. Million had barked at her to run before a blast of shadow magic sent her careening back. She had run, if only to gain some ground before letting loose with her magic. The Staff of Enar’s ruby orb was currently dull, lacking any form of charge. The multitude of fireballs she had sent into her foes had drained its reserves, and not done much to dent the number of their foes. When the barrage of shadow magics started coming her way, she followed Million’s direction to the letter.
Reaching deep inside of herself, she searched for the bond that had connected between them at the moment of her accidentally reawakening the imprisoned demon from her prison of stone. She let out a sigh of relief when she found it intact. Before she could do anything with that knowledge though, a wave of magic rippled out from near the Hive.
“Human, binder of the demon MiLuNo!” A slavering, gritty voice bellowed out through the corridors. “We have her subdued, but she is no warlock! Come to the ziggurat and do our bidding, to release the chains of this hive from us. Do this, and you both walk free! Deny us this power, Human, and-”
Emel reeled back as she felt a sharp stab of pain coming through the bond between them, her eyes watering from the stinging pain. She needed time to think, time to recover… She placed her finger tips to her throat and used a similar spell to echo her voice throughout the complex. “I… okay, just don’t hurt her any more. I’ll come to you now.”
She started walking, not on the direct path though. It was dark enough to get lost, to give her some time to draw power into her staff and sort through her spell powders. Anything to give her an edge.
“Where are you, human?!” That inhuman voice bellowed once more.
“I’m lost! There’s so many passageways here!” Emel shouted back. “Could you send someone in to find me?” She asked as she slid her staff into the sheath for it slung over her back. Clasped tightly in each hand was a wrap of spell powder. She’d even slipped some into her boots, wedged between her toes. Potions had been charged and used, and now she bided her time and tried to regain some strength.
The Grolog that found her was not delicate in leading her back to the central area, jabbing at her with a hefty stick to encourage her forwards, tapping at her sides to guide her. Million had said they were not smart, just cunning. The mages on the other hand were, and the one who had done the shouting was clearly the leader of the hive.
The footsoldiers had amassed between Emel and the ziggurat. Behind them on the first tier stood the seven Grolog mages, the one in the centre possessing bony horns that jutted out from the side of its head. In one clawed hand was the Brewmaster’s Baton. The other held a tuft of Million’s golden hair, the demon surrounded by dark magic being channelled from the other six mages.
“You were wise to come.” The Grolog with the baton announced. “Use your demon’s power to free us, and we will let you both go.”
“I’m not sure how to but I am curious about one thing, what would freeing you do?” Emel replied, doing her best to keep her voice steady.
“We are constrained by our last orders before your kind banished our masters.” The Grolog stated. “We are not free to commit our forces. We are forced to keep the bulk of our number here for defence. Your demon can teach you the words necessary to free us.”
Million lifted her head to look at Emel with imploring eyes, trying her best to shake her head. She ignored that. “Want to send her down here, or want me to come up to her?”
In answer, the soldiers shuffled to the sides to create a pathway up to the ziggurat’s staircase. Stepping away from the one who had escorted her here, she started towards them with her heart pounding. She had no idea if the vague ideas she had planned would work, but she knew she couldn’t do as they wished. At the top of the staircases, her skin crawled from the proximity to the dark magic so unlike the warmth of Million’s fire.
“Don’t do it!” Her demon begged, gasping as the aura pacifying her intensified. Emel dropped to her knees, trying to make it seem intended rather than born out of pain by reaching out to stroke Million’s face soothingly.
“It’s okay, I promise. I don’t have much choice, really.” She smiled apologetically. “So just close your eyes and tell me the words. Because if you tell me the wrong ones they’ll just hurt you again.” Glancing away, Emel chewed on her bottom lip before looking back. “Just trust me, please?”
“I do trust you.” Million replied instantly, before glancing back at the monster holding her hair. “I don’t trust them.”
“That’s because you’re sensible.” Emel replied, “Which always comes as a great surprise to me. But you’re going to have to close your eyes and say it in this case.”
Clenching her eyes shut, Million’s claws dug into the floor as she spoke the phrase. “BaSaPi.”
The seven Grolog mages grinned at the phrase, apparently pleased with it. Emel rose to her feet with a determined expression even as she planned to do something incredibly stupid. She opened her mouth… and a crack of thunder and an almighty flash engulfed the chamber.