Showdown in Old Fara Town
Dominique’s face was hidden behind her hood as she rode at the front of her knights. They could see Fara on the horizon, the old trading town dark as even the city torches were extinguished by this time of day. The cool mist floated over the road as her eyes remained locked on the wooden stockade of the town, the towers, the buildings, every detail was being observed. She narrowed her eyes as she tried to imagine how the thief and her friends may try to escape, how they could possibly elude her. She was so close, she wouldn’t let anything stand in her way, with immortality, youth and beauty within her grasp.
“Fan out!” She ordered as her knights broke up and spread outward across the plains surrounding Fara. “Cover every gate, make sure they can’t escape. The rest of you follow me. We’ll drive them from their inn and take them in the street.”
Tethys grinned. “I can’t wait…”
“Silence!” Dominique growled. “This is your mess to begin with.”
Tethys furrowed her brow and nodded. “Yes M’lady.” She said, though her expression revealed some contempt for her commander.
“Today this ends. Nass’assir will finally serve me…” She thought as she and her knights thundered towards the inn.
Jaks lay prone on the roof of the tavern, cold and wet, but alert as he watched the Order knights thunder towards the town. He counted them making sure not to miss any and then rolled sideways, sliding off the roof and grabbing the eaves of the roof, twisting and landing inside the window. He came down in front of Mila and the others, and shook his head.
“I count forty one knights and one kid with a grouchy expression.” Jaks reported.
“Thhethhys!” Titania lisped heavily, as everyone looked to her in confusion.
“She means Tethys.” Jewel said.
“That’s not the worst of it.” Jaks said. “Dominique is right up in front.”
“So, the bitch came herself.” Mila hissed. “We’re in some deep shit now.” She then looked at everyone at once. “There’s still time to run… if anyone thinks this plan is too risky… now’s the time to get out.”
No one spoke up, so she nodded and looked out the window, the sounds of horses growing closer. Everyone was ready, and she considered that either the plan would work… or it wouldn’t and they would die. She hoped the plan would at least let the Blade’s get away, but if not at least they would be together. As for her and her friends… well they would make a difference for the better for once. As for Naomi, she looked down at the being turned child and could see for the first time in her perhaps a spark of something redeemable. Maybe she could be changed… maybe not, a snake was a snake. However in this moment, she looked ready to go, and if a demon could do the right thing, maybe she could too.
She turned back and smiled. “Let’s go down there and make this look good.”
The citizens of Fara had just been rising as the sun peeked up over the horizon, when they were shocked to see knights of the Order moving stealthily through town on their steeds. Windows and doors were closed sharply, while eyes peeked out of any crack or opening to see what the Order was up to and who their victims would be.
Dominique and Tethys came out into the square as the sun rose up, orange light spilling up the east avenue as they stopped before the Tavern. The other knights came up alongside them, most dismounting and drawing their blades. Dominique stayed atop her horse and stared at the building, her eyes moving from floor to floor, window to window, looking for any sign of her prey. Alonza rode up beside her and then dismounted, taking the reins of Dominique’s white stallion and holding him as she leapt down.
“Madam?” Alonza asked. “Should we storm the building?”
“No.” Dominique said. “Go inside and inquire as to which room they are in. The barmaid Tiffy should know.”
Alonza nodded and snapped her fingers as two young knights fell in behind her and she headed towards the tavern.
“Why are we not burning the rats out?” Tethys hissed, causing Dominique to shake her head slowly.
“You are a sword, and in my possession you are valuable for the damage you can do.” She then turned back and glared at Tethys. “But I am the one with experience, you are not. We do as I command as long as I lead.” Dominique let her cold eyes linger on Tethys for a moment, before turning back to the Tavern. “Besides, we want to take the demon alive as well. They are trapped, they can’t escape.” She said as she watched Alonza near the door.
There was a crack of light from within the darkness of the tavern entrance, causing all the nights to jump back, and Tethys to cover her face, as Alonza and the other two knights were engulfed. They began to wail as each one shrank down before the other’s eyes, their armor bunching up on itself as robes, tunics and capes slid across their bodies. Alonza shrank down, her skinny butch features becoming soft as her breastplate sagged away, as her eyes went wide with shock. The blonde knight beside her wailed and sucked down into her garments, which spun in a circle and landed flat down on the dirt with a loud crash. The dark skinned knight on her other side, became a chubby faced youth, blinking in surprise before she tripped, landed on all fours and vanished into her clothes. Alonza too wailed as she began to grow so short her armor toppled forward, her face rounding as she fell, only to land with her head inside her own armor. For a moment everyone stared, before a trio of baby girls emerged from the armor, sobbing and wailing with Alonza being an almost bald newborn in the center.
“Alonza!” Dominique hissed at the sight of her lieutenant transformed into a mewling newborn. “The wretches… they must have seen through our spy!”
“Oh yes… such valuable experience.” Tethys laughed.
“Do not try my patience…” Dominique said as she drew her sword, a flicker of heat distortion appearing from the blade. “You want to test me!?” She boomed. “Then pass this test in kind!” She roared as she aimed the blade at the tavern and a surge of heat shot into the front door over the squealing babies.
The tavern seemed to glow as the entire lower half of the building became an inferno, the glass panes blowing out and fire shooting out from the door as two knights swooped in and scooped up the three regressed knights. Dominique lowered her sword and watched, her brow furrowed in anger.
“Well so much for taking them alive.” Tethys huffed.
Just then there was a blast as a fireball came down from the third story window above the door, exploding and scattering a group of knights by the door. As they rushed for cover, two were struck by light that caused them to tumble into their clothes, the armor and fabric rolling on the ground before small toddlers plopped out. They rolled for a few more feet before rising and running off, sobbing and wailing as they covered their bodies with slips and tunics. More fireballs were shot down from the third floor, scattering horses and knights as the remaining knights began to fire crossbows at the window, the bolts sticking loudly into the wooden frame.
“The damned thief is using her magic and the stone against us!” Tethys hissed.
“No.” Dominique growled. “It's Jewel! The thief isn’t as good of a wizard; she could never cast a spell like that. They are trying to keep our attention on the 3rd floor… it’s a distraction.”
Just then a knight cried out from the side of the tavern. “My lady! They are trying to escape out the back!”
Dominique and Tethys twisted to look, noticing shadows in the smoke, several tall shapes in hoods as well as at least one child wrapped in a cloak as well. They rushed through the smoke into a nearby alleyway, knocking over boxes and crates to escape and making a great deal of noise. Dominique’s eyes narrowed at this, as she considered what was happening.
“It was a distraction!” Tethys yelled over the chaos, while Dominique stayed quiet, her eyes going from the alley to the third floor.
Dominique snapped to Tethys and her knights. “After them, they are trying to escape while we are fighting the Blades”
Tethys roared off after the fleeing thief, her horse thundering as several knights raced to find the fleeing rabble. She pulled the reins and hurried down the alley, the shadows rushing away before them as she smiled in predatory anticipation. As she watched the group split into three groups, each going a different direction, as they tried to scatter into the town.
“After the tall ones!” She ordered her knights, “I’ll take the kid!” She said as he shot down the alley after the retreating child.
She rode down hard, her steed deftly dodging carts, crates and debris as she closed the distance, her laughter growing in her chest as the sadistic child neared her prey. Soon she could hear the child gasping, wondering which one it was. She hoped it was Titania, but she would settle for slicing any of them to bloody ribbons.
“No more running!” Tethys laughed, as she leapt from her horse and tackled the small child.
The was a muffled wail of pain and both children slid across the cobblestone street before sliding into a basket of vegetables left out as refuse. Tethys laughed and reached down, gripping the cloak and pulling it back in triumph.
“So which one of you will I get to kill!?” She asked, before freezing.
It was not Titania or any of the Blades, but a redheaded child wearing an oversized tunic and holding an oversized eye patch in one hand.
“Uh… can I hewp you?” The little child asked, blinking in surprise. “Did I do something wong? I was just wunning fwom the fiwe!” She said with a cute but frightened face.
“Y-You’re not-“ Tethys hissed as the little girl broke free and ran off, stumbling on tiny feet. “They tricked us!” She said as she watched the little girl run. “Those bitches!”
“Just then she heard footsteps behind her, realizing her knights must have caught up to her.
“Hurry! They tricked us!” She said as she jumped up. “We need to-“ She started, when she turned around and found that it was not her knights behind her but Olga and Jaks standing over her unconscious soldiers. The orc woman was holding one of the knights over her shoulder, a groan coming from the woman as she had a large welt on the side of her face.
“Tethys is it?” Jaks said with a grin. “Seems like the tables have turned.”
“Olga spank naughty monkey!” The orc growled as she tossed the knight in her hands into a pile of rotting fruit.
“Ulp!” Tethys swallowed hard as she realized she was in trouble.
As soon as Tethys had rushed down the alley, Dominique smirked at how gullible her lieutenant was, looking back to the tavern as she withdrew something from her pocket. “I am not a fool like you Tethys. I set this game in motion, and I control it still.” She muttered under her breath as she clenched the object in her hand. She then stomped towards the now smoldering building and threw her arms wide. “I’m here! If you have the stone’s power then use it against me!” She boomed. “Come then… be rid of me!”
From inside the third story window the Blades were hiding below the frame, all three peering down as Jewel prepared another blast of magic. Already they could smell smoke from the tavern below as it rose up and knew they were running out of time.
“She’s right in front, the plan worked! Let her have it!” Jewel cried as she threw another fireball down, clearly running out of stamina.
“Gotcha!” Mila said, charging up a surge of her energy.
“No wait! She might have-” Naomi cried, but it was too late.
As Mila threw her hand out the window to cast the youth magic down on Dominique, the white haired Master of the order sneered. She brought her hand up and held within it a stone, like the actual stone but a burgundy color with a swirling inky blackness in the center. The bolt of energy flew down from Mila’s fingers and exploded against the stone, before suddenly lancing back up towards the surprised Mila. Mila was hit in the chest, as Dominique howled with laughter before she thrust her fist forward, clenching her fingers around the red stone.
“Fools! Now you learn the folly of underestimating me!” She roared.
“YEAAAAAH!” Mila cried out as she began to twist and writhe, falling backwards.
As Mila tumbled her body began to change, her long legs sucking up towards her shorts as they grew skinnier and gained a bony childish look. Her arms pulled up into her sleeves, causing her gloves to flop off and tumbled away. Her hair grew shorter as her face, still twisted by her cries, rounded out and softened. Her bust bounced once before flattening back into her loose tunic top, while her round butt vanished, leaving her skinny little bottom covered by oversized shorts. She hit the ground as a small girl, the same age as the Blades, the others rushing over and turning her around as Dominique’s laughter rose up to the window from below.
“Whath the hell wath that?” Titania snapped
“She has another demon’s power!” Naomi hissed as she rushed to Mila’s side, the shrunken thief fumbling in her clothing. “She was able to reflect my power back into Mila!”
“What?!” Jewel hissed. “Why wouldn’t you tell us that?”
Don’t blame this on me!” Naomi growled. “You should have known too! She clearly gave you the original stone!”
“Oooh… my head…” Mila said as she sat forward, suddenly cute, her big eyes blinking in the rising smoke. She looked down over her body and saw her clothes loosely draping on her frame, her body now boyish and small. “Oh boy… I look like a boy.” She squeaked. “This is bad…” She said as tears formed in her eyes.
“Thith ith REALLY bad!” Titania barked as she looked down
“The fire seems to be getting hotter. It won’t be long until the building burns to the ground.” They heard Dominique laugh from below. “But I am forgiving. Throw me the stone and I may spare you.”
“Damn it! What now?” Krya cried.
“We can’t trust her! She wiww kiww us aww!” Krya hissed.
“Can we escape?” Jewel asked.
“Not from knights horses…” Mila grunted as she tied her top around her chest to cover her body, tightening the rope she used as a belt.
“She’s righth.” Titania added. “They’d run uth down in an inthant.” She sighed.
“Throw me the stone. My patience is wearing thin.” Dominique repeated.
“We can’t let her have the stone!” Naomi looked around, tears in her eyes as she tried to think of a plan.
“Well it’s not like I can give her the stone, it’s stuck in my hand!” Mila snapped.
“She doesn’t know that!” Naomi hissed, “But as soon as she finds out she’ll slice your hand off.”
“Wait.” Jewel snapped. “She… doesn’t know how this all started… just that we have the stone. Tethys must not have told her or she wouldn’t be demanding we throw it.”
‘Yeah? Wath your point?” Titania asked, covering her mouth from the smoke.
“Yeah, what good does that do us?” Krya added.
For a moment Jewel stared ahead, before she began to smile, running to the window. “We surrender! We’re coming out!” She cried.
“What are you doing?” Mila gasped, still trying to tie her clothing on. “We can’t give her the stone!”
“Are you sthupid?” Titania gasped.
Jewel was grinning slightly, “Grab those blankets off the bed… I have an idea.”
“No tricks!” They heard Dominique bark from down below.
“Ha!” Jewel laughed, before looking to her two friends. “Where’s the fun in that?”
“What are you pwanning?” Krya asked as she bent down to look at her friend.
“Remember when we stole that rotten old crown from the orcs? The ones who surrounded our camp the next morning?” Jewel said, resisting the urge to laugh. “Remember how we got away?”
The other two Blades considered this a moment, before their eyes widened in understanding, while Naomi looked confused.
“Yes but… what good will that do?” Krya asked, throwing her arms wide.
“Well… we still have this!” Jewel said, flashing something in her palms to the other blades. “I’m hoping it will do the trick.”
The other Blades suddenly laughed and nodded. “Good plan!” Krya laughed.
“I’ll get the blanketh ready!” Titania said as she rushed to find more blankets, cutting them with her sword.
“What?” Naomi asked, looking back and forth between them.
“Yeah, what’s the secret?” Mila asked.
Titania laughed. “She wanths the sthone… we are going to give her the sthone!”
“Come over and listen carefully, because this will only work if we do it as a team, that means you too Naomi!” Jewel said as everyone gathered around them.
Tethys was trembling in rage as Jaks bent down to grab her. As soon as his hand was in range leaned forward and bit him hard on the thumb, causing him to scream and fall backwards. Tethys hung on, biting down so hard she drew blood. He growled and reached down, trying to pry her off of his thumb as reached around, grabbing the bratty little knight and tugging her back hard.
“STOP!” Jaks screamed. “You’re going to pull my thumb off Olga!”
“Release skinny friend now!” Olga snapped, as Tethys kicked at her, landing a boot right in the center of her face.
Olga gasped and stumbled back as Tethys twisted free from Jaks, blood still on her lip as she hit the ground and bolted down the street. She spit the blood from her mouth as Olga and Jaks chased after her, a cruel grin forming on her face as she extended the distance between them on her tiny legs.
“That bitch Dominique!” She thought. “She tried to ditch me while she snags the stone. Well… maybe if I work fast enough… I could get it…” She began to laugh maniacally as she hurried down the street, easily ditching Mila’s slower companions. “Then… I’ll make her crawl… literally!” She said aloud as she exploded into laughter again!
Dominique stood with her sword drawn at her side, her pale hair whipping in the breeze being kicked up by the burning tavern. She watched as five small figures, all children came rushing out of the burning room, each cloaked and hooded, coughing and leaning on each other as they gasped for air.
“Ah… you saw reason…” She said as she pointed her sword towards the children, her eyes searching for some sign of the stone. “Now… unless you want me to kill you… give me the stone now!” She demanded.
All five of the kids exchanged glances, Dominique watching them closely for some sign of deception, so motion or act to reveal this was a scheme. However, slowly one of them walked forward, holding up her hands towards Dominique.
“YES! After all these years searching… immortality and youth shall be mine!” She thought as the child extended her hands and opened them…
“Now!” screamed one of the girls, before all five suddenly scattered a different direction at full speed. As they split up, a general confusion fell over the assembled knights, each one looking in a different direction, not sure who to follow. Dominique almost gasped, as a child in front of her darted between her legs, slapping her on the ass before running off,
“G-get back here! Capture them!”” Dominique screamed.
The knights broke up as well, each one haphazardly chasing a different child. There was little coordination, as each went after the child which seemed easier for them to catch, creating a tangled web of Chris crossing paths. Several knights smashed each other over, paying so much attention to their target that they failed to see their comrades, or slipped in the slick mud, from landing in horse manure and cursing. Several tripped, chasing after the nimble children, trying to leap over crates, or dodge under clotheslines to pursue their frantic quarry. Soon between the smoke from the burning tavern, people sliding in the soaked earth, the racing bodies, and screamed commands from various knights, the intersection had become a mess. Though it was a tangled mess, none of the children seemed to be able to escape the intersection, but many soldiers blocked their path.
“What is this nonsense?” Dominique hissed.
Dominique’s face darted back and forth, looking for any sign of the stone, but this was hard. Each child was wearing a similar cloak, none were very much older than the others, nor younger. They were all skinny, and other than one which she presumed to be Titania, she could not see the others. Her spy, the tavern wench, had said it was in the possession of the blonde thief, so she looked for any sign of blond hair. Then she saw one, a little girl looking right at her, and she caught the reflection of lavender hair. It was Jewel, her hands clenched around something which glittered with a dull green light.
“There you are!” Dominique grinned, charging forward through the mud like a beast made of steel and flesh, “Give me my stone!”
“Come get it!” She cried, running down a narrow alleyway.
Dominique stormed down the alley, rage in her heart at being betrayed by this mercenary. In that instant, she knew hiring these Blades was a terrible mistake. They had been out to screw her over from the beginning, most likely planning to steal the stone the second they heard of it. Yet somehow they had defeated the demon, and I had to count for something. As she chased after the small figure, she knew she had indeed underestimated them, but she would not make that mistake again. Once she had them she would kill them, and hang their bodies up so everyone would see what happened to those who opposed The Order. All she had to do was catch this child, and with her military training and conditioning, she was already gaining on her.
“You can’t run brat!” she screamed as she closed the distance.
Finally she caught up, Jewel crying out as Dominique swept her legs underneath the child, knocking her from her own feet. Jewel landed on her back, sliding in the flick mud as her hood came free. She squeaked in pain and tried to roll to her feet, but a boot from Dominique sent her sprawling into a stack of crates. The child gasped and groaned holding her stomach, the wind knocked out of her. Dominique caught her breath, and paste before her, sword flashing as she pointed it towards the coughing child.
“No more games. Give me what I want.” She commanded.
“Screw you… like I’d let you be immortal.” Jewel snapped.
“Give it to me now… Or I’ll take you will back with me and torture you.” Dominique mused. “You can’t imagine the pain I can inflict upon a person… Soon you’ll find out if you don’t give me the stone.”
Jewel hung her head, glaring up at the powerful woman before her, still cradling protectively around it. “What guarantee do I have, that she won’t kill us anyway?” she asked.
“You don’t have any…” Dominique said, suddenly slashing her sword across Jewel’s face, a trickle of blood rushing down from right cheek to the top of her nose.
Jewel cried out and covered her face with one hand, tears of pain suddenly coming down her face and mixing with the blood. She trembled for a moment, blood flowing through her fingers, before she glared up at the white haired devil.
“You call Naomi a demon…” She whispered.
“Is that what you are calling the monster now?” Dominique shrugged. “The only difference between me and her is I’m not a lazy whore. I take what I want by any means necessary.” She then put the tip of her sword against Jewels neck. “Now, the stone… or your head?”
Jewel looked down to her palm in shock at the green stone, Dominique seeing it, and inhaling a sharp breath. “Fine… Take it!” Jewel said, before tossing the stones straight up
Dominique's eyes shot upward, the greenstone glinting in the morning sun, while Jewel slapped the blade away from her neck and ran. Dominique lunged forward her hand outstretched to catch the stone, when there came a sound from her right. A rush of footsteps resounded, as a small child dove in, leaping off of a box and snatched it from her grasp. It was Krya, the dark haired child sliding to a stop in the dirt, before sticking her tongue out at Dominique.
“Lose something?” She laughed.
Dominique raised her blade to strike her, when Titania ran in from the side, grabbing her leg and twisting it hard. Dominique gasped and stumbled forward, exposed for an instant as Krya leapt in with her glowing dagger drawn. Dominique twisted sideways and deflected the knife aimed for her chest, smashing Krya back with her other fist, and then kicking Titania from her foot. Titania rolled, somersaulting, before leaping back to her feet and drawing herself up to a fighting stance. Dominique was about to charge when a blast of fire shot from Jewel’s hand towards her face, the platinum haired woman turning to face it.
The leader of the Order sneered, leaning into the blast. “Is that all you have!?” She roared as she smashed her fist into the fireball.
The explosion of the magic in such a tight alley, threw them all backwards, the Blades tumbling into the walls and detritus in the alleyway. As they looked up, they could see fire and smoke dissipating and a shadow standing before them. They all hissed as the last of the smoke blew away, revealing Dominique, untouched and smiling wickedly.
Dominique chuckled. “You three… you’re good. I can see why you were recommended.” She then eyed them each, their cloaks gone as she examined their shrunken bodies and garments. She began to laugh haughtily. “You even found child sized equipment. That’s adorable, but it won’t help you.”
She raised her sword over her head as her skin began to glow, her teeth bared like a wolf’s as her garments and hair began to lift into the air as light grew around her. Titania lunged over and shoved Krya behind a nearby horse trough, while Jewel took cover behind a barrel full of water. There was a thunderous explosion followed by a wave of concussive force that shattered glass, cracked beams and pulverized the dirt into roiling clouds. When the dust blew out, only Dominique was standing still, her sword vibrating as the force of her magic faded away. Wooden posts fell, roof tiles slid down, as splinters and pebbles landed down amongst the small crater Dominique now stood in.
“Sh-shit…” Jewel could be heard grumbling from somewhere in the rubble of the alleyway.
She lowered her blade and looked about to see where her foes were. Krya and Titania were soaked now, laying under the tipped over trough, Titania over her friend protectively. Across from them, Jewel was crawling out from under a beam, when she screamed in pain. Her small leg was bleeding from a large spike of wood which had punctured her calve, causing her to cry out, tears running down her cheeks.
“Jewel!” Titania gasped, as Krya and her climbed to their feet. Before they could reach her, Dominique pinned Jewel down beneath her boot, pressing the small child into the dirt as Titania and Krya slid to a halt. “Damn you!” Kryan snapped.
“Unless that stone is at my feet in the next few seconds, I will skewer her to the street like a butterfly to a board.” She said, lowering the sword until the sharpened point rested on Jewel’s tiny back.
“Damn it! Ok!” Krya said, raising her hands. “Just… just don’t hurt Jewew!”
She reached over and pulled the stone from her pocket, before tossing it towards Dominique’s feet, making sure to throw it just far enough that she would have to step off Jewel. Dominique noticed, but laughed, unworried as she stepped down and went to retrieve it. Jewel began to crawl away as Dominique bent down to retrieve the stone, a sadistic lust in her eyes.
She scooped up the stone, slowly, reverentially and began to rise back to her full height, a huge smile on her face. “Now… the stone belongs to-“She started to say, when Tethys erupted from behind her, diving over and grabbing her cape, before scurrying up her back in a frantic angry scramble.
“By the gods!” Dominique hissed. “Tethys?! What are you doing!?” She screamed as she stumbled back slightly.
“It’s MINE!” The enraged brat screamed as she pulled on Dominique’s cape and hair. “You tried to trick me and get me killed while you became immortal!” She growled as she began to pull and climb out onto Dominique’s hand.
“OF ALL THE NUISANCES!” Dominique roared as she felt Tethys wrench a fist full of her hair back.
Soon Tethys was climbing out onto Dominique’s arm, which she extended to keep the stone from her subordinate. Both of them were screaming and hissing as they struggled, Dominique unable to bring her sword to bear against the small girl. Soon Tethys had extended herself out, and had her hand around Dominique’s clenched fist, prying at her fingers to reach the stone.
“Now Jewew!” Krya cried out. “Whiwe they are howding the fake stone!”
Both Dominique and Tethys froze in place and looked to Krya. “Fake stone?” Dominique hissed.
Jewel activated the stone, just as she had when they had tried to use the fake stone to seal up Naomi. The tone glowed, the light building as it surrounded Dominique, whose determination to have the stone refused to allow her to release it. Tethys, who made a habit of dodging danger and running away when things got rough, dropped from Dominique’s back as the green light built in intensity. Soon the green light washed over Dominique, blinding everyone in the alley.
END CHAPTER 8