A Battle Joined, part two

(Cobalt, Intruder, Atlas, Glitterspike, and Shin are uneasy after their encounter with Kerran, and who wouldn’t be? Intruder sends Cobalt out to look for anyone else of interest.)

Cobalt: Master, I think there’s someone out there, but they’re hiding.

Intruder: Not a demon?

Cobalt: No, a person, but I can’t see them. They’re there, though…

Glitterspike: How many?

Cobalt: (whimpers uneasily) I don’t know…

Shin: Shall we find out?

(The group moves through the dripping mist towards where Cobalt felt that someone was around.)

Atlas: Your minion is wrong Necromancer. No one is here!

(Shin frowns and runs his hands along the ground.)

Intruder: Is he underground? That must be why Cobalt couldn’t find him. (He snorts.)

(Shin pulls a perfect plug of earth from the ground where it had been covering the dead ashes of a fire.)

Shin: Whoever it is knows the tricks of the trade.

Atlas: They’ve moved on! And so should we! We have to rescue Celes and Xeiss before anything else goes wrong. We don’t even know where the hell they are!

Intruder: I agree. We’re wasting the night, and we need to find them.

(Shin ran his fingers through the coals, and pursed his lips.)

(Intruder waited for everyone else to move, waved his arms in disgust and moved away from the group, muttering to himself. He leant against the trunk of a tree, snarling bitterly about the idiocies of light-dwellers, letting all the good, dark travelling time go to waste… One minute he was alone, totally at peace, the next, he felt he was being watched. He turned slowly, to find himself face to upside down face to a pair of green eyes that twinkled with interest, and long hair that dangled towards the ground. He hadn’t heard a thing.)

(Intruder started to shout, but a hand grabbed his throat and a knife materialised at his throat without seeming to cross the intervening spacee.)

Severen: (Hanging from a branch) You’re undead. Why havn’t they killed you yet? (As if contemplating this, he slides a silver stake from his belt.)

Intruder: *Choked * They’re my group!

Severen: (as if this negated that statement) You’re undead.

Intruder: *Choked * No no, I’m a Necroman-

Severen: You have grey skin and talk to a demon. You’re undead. Who are they? Are they supposed to be here?

(Cobalt sees whats going on and flutters off as silently as he can.)

(Within moments the rest of the group arrive, also as silently as they can. Severen’s head starts scanning the fog, as if he can pick up the approaching movement.)

Severen: Someone’s coming. (He smiles to himself.) I suppose I can at least kill you, undead…

Glitterspike: (calls) Release the Necromancer!

(Severen pulls the blade away from Intruder’s throat and in the same movement replaces it in his sleeve. He releases the branch, lands on the ground, turns, and disappears. One minute he was there, the next, gone.)

Glitterspike: (approaches slowly, sword drawn) Necromancer? Are you all right? (He mutters, ‘As if it matters…’ under his breath.)

Intruder: (Trying to get more air into his constricted throat) Over here!

Shin: Where is our new friend?

Intruder: Who knows? He released me and disappeared into the mist.

(Shin scans the mist, feeling that something isn’t right, and the rest of the group follows his lead.)

(The sudden ‘appearance’ of a figure to his left and to the right of Atlas surprises everyone except Severen. He was just suddenly seen as standing there, as if he’d been in full view the entire time.)

Shin: You have a disconcerting habit, sir.

Severen: (Shrugs) You don’t listen.

Glitterspike: Why did you attack our noisome friend?

Severen: He’s undead. I tend to kill undead.

Glitterspike: (eyes Intruder amusedly) As you do…

Severen: I didn’t kill him immediately because I wanted to know why you hadn’t killed him yet.

Shin: Why are you here?

Severen: I’m supposed to be here. Are you?

Shin (pauses to consider the question) We’re on a quest. We think that someone may be trying to revive Diablo.

(Severen looks blank)

Shin: Diablo, one of the Prime Evils, the Lord of Terror? He was loosed upon this area a time ago, was defeated, and we now think that someone may be trying to bring him back.

(Severen considered briefly, nodding to himself.)

Severen: All right, you’re probably supposed to be here too… What about the undead? Do we kill him?

Glitterspike: The idea is tempting, but he may object…

Shin: (bemused) Why do you want to kill him so badly?

Severen: He’s undead. I tend to kill undead.

Atlas: You said that already.

Severen: Yes.

Atlas: (waits for an elaboration, but none comes) Uh… What is your name?

Severen: Severen.

Shin: Since we seem to be looking for the same thing, do you wish to join our group?

Severen: That seems a good idea. Thanks. If we don’t kill the undead, do we kill the demon?

Atlas: Oh yeah, we kill demons…

Severen: Excellent. (He pulls a small cross bow from his jacket and starts tracking Cobalt…)

Atlas: Not THAT demon!

Severen: So these specific dark creatures we don’t kill?

Glitterspike: *grudgingly * Yes.

(Severen pauses as if readjusting his internal world view.)

Severen: All right…

Atlas: Have you seen or heard anything from our two companions?

Severen: Nope. When I arrived there were only you.

Atlas: Our friends have been captured and taken into the labyrinth by forces of darkness, help us rescue them!

Severen: Am I supposed to?

Atlas: (Grabs Severen by the neck with his mailed fist) This is not the time for humour, friend…

Severen: Look down.

(A slim blade was at the chink in Atlas’ armour directly under the armpit of the arm that was holding Severen. Right underneath the bloody great artery to the arm…)

Glitterspike: We don’t have time for this! Severen, we are going to rescue our friends if we can, will you help?

Severen: Where is the labyrinth?

(The group gets its bearings and Atlas points..)

Atlas: Over there… (the group turns back…) He’s gone again.

Glitterspike: I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that…

(Cut to the ruined entrance to the labyrinth…)

(Severen leans inside cautiously, and pulls a knife from his sleeves just in case. He descends the stairs without making a sound, and arrives in the labyrinth beneath. Two sets of drag marks appear in places on the floor, but are very faint and have been criscrossed with hundreds of tracks of other creatures, probably demonic. Severen studies them, but they disappear entirely only five meters away from the stairs. He curses to himself and stands. Skittery footsteps move behind him, he turns and a skeleton suddenly sprouts a knife from an eyesocket, and this slows it not at all. Severen pulls the axe from his jacket and shatters the creature with one strike. He moves further into the shadows, having retrieved his knife, and searches for any signs of the captured duo. He finds none, not even any screams to illustrate their prescence. And very few signs of resistance either, only that one skeleton to face him. He retreats in silence to the entrance to the labyrinth and reports back to the rest of the group…)