Artr and I get to our feet at the same time. Since he has on the magic armor, he gets to the Demon’s camp much quicker. He shoves aside any of the ruffians who try challenge him. Once he’s reached the center of the camp, he shouts, “Show yourself, Demon! I’ve come for your head!”
I stop at the edge of the camp, having no wish to get my throat slit along with Artr. I have my doubts that even the Scarlet Warrior can take on twenty warriors plus the Black Demon. Merlin puts a hand on my shoulder. “Everything will be fine,” Merlin says. “The boy knows what he’s doing.”
“It doesn’t look like it.”
“Watch and see.”
The Demon’s minions have gathered around Artr, but none are brave enough to come forward. Then I see a large, dark shape emerge from a tent. It’s the Black Demon. He doesn’t have Beaux with him. Did he already cut her throat?
The Demon barks a command and his henchmen fall back. The Demon steps through their ranks. “You would challenge me, boy?” The Demon brandishes his claws. “I’ve killed many times your number, men much bigger than you.”
“Then you have nothing to fear by fighting me.”
“Very well, boy. If you wish to die then I will help you.”
The Demon makes as if to attack. Artr puts up a hand. “Not here. I wouldn’t want you to trip on this fire pit or these tents. We’ll go to the top of the ridge.”
“As you wish.” The Demon turns to his minions. “Stay and guard the prisoners. I will not be gone long.”
Merlin motions for the two of us to hide behind a tree as the Demon and Artr climb up towards the hill. “You see now?”
“The boy has lured the Demon away. Now we can rescue the others.”
“You forget there’s still twenty of them. Or are you going to wave your hand and make them disappear?”
“Nothing so drastic.”
I’m about to ask what he is going to do when I see the mist roll in. It’s no ordinary mist; it’s a fog the color of egg yolks. It smells worse than a couple of dozen rotten eggs too. I can hear the ruffians cough, but I can’t see them.
Merlin starts to walk into the fog. “Go and find Beaux. The mist won’t harm you.”
I want to argue, but it is Merlin we’re talking about. So I walk into the fog. The mist might not kill me, but the smell of it is enough to make my eyes water. I have to continually wipe them as I stumble into the camp.
I trip over something. I look down and see a ruffian on the ground. I can’t tell if he’s dead or not; at this point I’m not much concerned either way.
I try to remember which tent the Demon had appeared from. But with the fog it’s impossible to tell. So I try a more aggressive approach. “Beaux? Where are you, woman?”
“I’m over here, you daft fool!” she shouts back.
“Keep shouting, love. I’ll find you.”
“You couldn’t find your arse if it were sewn to your face.”
She goes on like that until I locate the tent. I open the flap and there she is, unharmed. I take advantage of her being tied up to kiss her on the lips. “Now let’s get you out of here.”
Artr makes it to the top of the ridge first. He hefts the Spear of Justice. “There’s still time to surrender,” he says, full of heroic bluster.
“You talk much. Let’s see how you fight.”
The Demon breaks into a run. He has both sets of claws up to slice Artr to ribbons. For his part, the boy isn’t stupid. He ducks and rolls away. While still on his knees, he brings the spear around to smack the Demon on the back of the leg.
The Demon tumbles forward onto the ground. For his part, the Demon isn’t stupid enough to wait for Artr to run him through with the spear. He does his own roll to end up on his knees. “That was clever, boy, but it will not be enough to save you.”
Artr breaks into a run. He uses the augmented strength and speed of the armor to jump over the Demon. Or rather, he tries to; he doesn’t quite get enough height, so that the Demon rakes his claws across Artr’s left thigh.
The boy lands hard on the ground, blood streaming from the wound. He rolls onto his back. The Demon stands over him with claws ready to strike. Artr tries to stab the Demon in the gut with the spear, but the Demon swats it away. He tries to pick it up with one hand, but the spear begins to glow; the Demon hisses with pain and then drops the spear.
“One of the conjurer’s tricks,” the Demon growls. “They cannot save you. Now you will die.”
The Demon strikes.
TO BE CONTINUED...
Does the Scarlet Warrior survive? Find out tomorrow!