Friday, April 2, 2010

Rescue from a Cerfcum Queen - from THE GUARDIAN - unpublished

When they reached the others, Brandon cast a 'regenerate' spell on both of the men. Jennifer only had a few scrapes and bruises. the men had put up much more of a fight. Spit Shine had several deep punctures in his torso and he had lost a lot of blood. Low Jack had almost slipped free; he had two long gashes across his chest and another across his back. However, the slip had caused his upper leg to be broken. At least one of the creature's feet had maintained its hold on him.

Reed kept watch as Brandon cast his spells. He had felt a subtle change in the acoustics of a chamber. Then he detected movement on the far edge of his vision and looked closer. He was able to pick it out only because it moved and he saw that it was far bigger than anything he had ever seen before; bigger even than the walker-sized creatures in the other chamber. An odd motion caught his attention and he saw the bounding creature just brought in was moving slower than before. Its leaps were just as high, but everything it did was slow, as if it was moving through water, though it wasn't. He knew what that was. "We have a spell caster in here," he whispered.

Brandon was at his side instantly and the two of them tried to pick out the indistinct figure on the far side of the chamber. "What is that?" he whispered.

"I don't know. I'm going to scan it."

"Be careful."

"Your spells didn't attract much attention," commented Reed. "SCAN." As Reed read and reread the information the 'scan' provided, a shiver ran up his back. "We're in deep shit, Brandon. That's the queen."

"The queen; we're not going to get out of here easily, are we?"

"Well, I suppose we could get lucky and she won't notice us, but I really don't think much escapes her attention in here. She probably won't bother us as long as we don't try to leave."

"That's not an option," said Brandon. He turned back to the others and passed out extra goggles to Low Jack and Jennifer. Then he helped Castle hoist Spit Shine across his shoulders. Brickman and Nighthawk slung Low Jack's arms across their shoulders, and with Jennifer between them, they made their way across the room towards the ramp they had come down. Brandon and Reed brought up the rear.

As they went, Brandon and Reed swung the strings of flash grenades randomly across the room as far as they could. Thinking the same thoughts, both Reed and Brandon hung back as the others got closer to the ramp.

Brickman glanced back; he could tell what they intended. "Oh shit, step it up. We gotta get outa here," he said.

Reed glanced over his shoulder and saw them scrambling up the ramp, and then he heard a wailing screech echo across the chamber, chilling all of them to the bone, but they held their ground. They weren't of interest just yet.

As soon as the men were at the top of the tunnel, they both said, "IFRIT" almost with the same breath. Then, as lava lit up the chamber, firing the miniature horde, they both snatched their goggles off and ran up the ramp after the others. As the molten flow reached the flash grenades, they started to go off like fiery popcorn, and the misshapen, maggot-like blob that was the queen screamed her displeasure and dismay, pain, and anger, then she cast her last spell.

Flairs screamed after them through the smoke and flames. Reed turned for one last look, hoping to get a glimpse of the queen. "SHELL!" he cried, but though his shield was up in time, it couldn't deflect all of the damage.

Brandon turned at Reed's shout in time to see one of the many flairs penetrate Reed's shield. The shield probably absorbed about ninety percent of the energy and velocity, but that last ten percent was more than enough. The phosphorous projectile struck Reed directly in the face and launched him backwards several feet to land heavily where he lay without a whimper or a twitch. The goggles and sword he had in his hands, clattered away from his slack fingers.

Jennifer also heard his cry, though she didn't know what it meant. She too looked back in time to see him get hit and fall. She ran back to him. "Reed!" she called, but he didn't move.

Brandon was at his side too. He touched Reed's neck and cursed softly. "LIFE," he said, and was rewarded by the thump under his fingers. "REGENERATE," he said then he quickly explored Reed's head, neck and shoulders. "Shit," he said softly. He dug out one of the first aid packs and inflated a neck brace around Reed's neck. Then he scooped Reed up in his arms and nodded to the others to move out again. They had to get out of here as fast as they could before shit hit the fan.

No comments: