Too Many Demons: Part 2

Suddenly there was a burning flame in mid-air, just in front of the statue of the temple god. It whirled and roared. Then, slowly, it congealed into a man-like, glowing form. A demon. No. Something worse. Something from the very depths of hell, surely a creature for which there was no name. A great, black mouth opened and, in a voice like a howling wind, called out.
“The gods are full of wrath. I am sent as a punishment. Before I was a little flame but now I am a roaring furnace. None may stand before me. Your lives are mere candles I shall snuff out!”
Gamelan groaned inwardly at the monster’s fiery word-theme but stayed bowed an unmoving. Let the others distract it! They did. Priests and guards ran in terror for the door; the creature turned and lumbered after them. Gamelan, dragging old Sagan along, hid behind a pillar. It was always wise to avoid the obvious. This was proved almost immediately as the others were caught off from the exit by a jet of flame from the blazing monster.

It moved ponderously towards the priests and their men, charring the floor as it went. Ulmar, showing sudden and unexpected bravery, stood up to the burning horror and held his silver blade high.
“By the power of the gods and our great lord, Medb, I command thee to depart hence to the pit from which thou hast escaped!”
It was a truly dramatic and heroic moment. Gamelan gave a brief salute to the priest, almost wishing Sagan was recovered enough to savour the moment. But the blazing creature only laughed. The priest lost his nerve then and threw his weapon at it in despair. It sailed through the monster’s body as it would have through the flames of a fire. It laughed – a great, brassy, echoing sound.
“No weapon wielded by a man can harm me – such was the promise my masters gave as they called me from the abyss. Pray to your gods now, before I feast myself. It is said the flesh of a priest is sweeter than most.”
Again the creature roared. Gamelan dragged Sagan out from behind their hiding place. He was coming back round to consciousness and had managed to climb unsteadily to his feet.
“Now’s our chance! The rope to the smoke-hole’s still intact. We can make it if we hurry.”
The screams from the burning priests meant Gamelan had to shout this in Sagan’s ear.

You can find the complete version of Too Many Demons: Part 2 in issue 49 of TBD.

Stuart McPherson