inside of the Shrine of Laug revealed another reason the Hageshoni
defenses were so few. As far as Frank and Molly could tell, there
were only two rooms- one for sleeping, the other for everything else.
There wasn't even a makeshift mess hall or kitchen; they seemed to
subsist on fruit the orcs would offer as tribute to whatever this
Laug character was. Lord knows how they went to the bathroom.
information came after exploring the entire corridor, and each of
them made one conclusion. “There should be more to this place. It
looked bigger outside,” Molly said.
having already crossed it, Frank was cautious stepping out of the
barracks and into the corridor. “You missed the important thing.”
rolled her eyes, but they snapped open when Frank shot a fireball at
the ceiling. A demon fell from it. He did not fall to the floor; he
stopped three feet above it and seemed to bounce up as if there was a
trampoline. He made a perfect landing above a ledge in the wall and
smiled at his new foes.
were five cots in there and only four demons outside,” Frank
released another fireball. With little more than a shrug, the
projectile not only stopped in midair, but reversed course and went
straight back at Frank. Molly threw up a shield to block it.
okay then.” Frank drew his sword and approached it. The demon let
him get close enough to raise the sword and make an ambitious leap.
Once in the air, a spell froze Frank, then slammed him against both
walls before flying back at Molly.
issues with the direct approach?” Molly deadpanned.
got up. “Both at once. You go high, I'll go low.”
the one with the sword. In the air, we can't-” Frank interrupted
Molly by handing her his smiter. Molly grumbled to herself.
took to the air, floating up to the ceiling and charging towards the
demon on Frank's command. The demon saw both attacks coming and, just
as Frank motioned for a fire spell, threw a gust of wind in front of
him. By the time Frank released his attack, the demon had manipulated
it into a full cyclone. Frank's fireball turned it into a fire spout
that stretched to the ceiling and engulfed Molly.
flew up and grabbed whichever of Molly's limbs he could reach first,
pulling her out by the leg and retreating back to their corner. She
did not have any severe burns, just a fit of violent coughing as she
scrambled for oxygen. The demon tried to send the cyclone toward them
and Frank tried to send the fire back, but the two elements had
gotten so intertwined that neither would have an advantage. Frank
maintained the stalemate long enough for Molly to recover, then broke
up the whole thing.
he expected, the demon followed immediately with a series of violent
gusts. Molly, despite labored breathing and the occasional cough, was
there with a shield. The demon persisted, but Frank didn't mind. It
gave him time to think.
plan would be nice,” Molly spat. Between blocks, she realized that
while she didn't suffer any major burns, parts of her shirt had and
she was looking at a bare and slightly singed shoulder.
did not respond. His eyes were closed and he was pinching his
earlobe. She wanted to be angry, but as it was entirely possible that
he was telepathically developing the requested plan, she channeled
her frustration into shielding the attack.
your shield up and try to go forward and get the smiter back,”
Frank finally said. She had dropped it in the cyclone and it was
several yards in front of her. Shielding herself from the intense
gusts while trying to move forward would require intense
concentration. Molly was too tired, in too much pain, and too soaked
from Troy's water attack and her own sweat to like her odds.
tried anyway, bearing down like she always did and managing a few
steps. She could sense her shield trying to buckle and put more magic
energy into it. She was close to her limit, but knew she'd somehow
need more to get to the sword. But by the time she got halfway, she
was at her breaking point. Advancing was out of the question.
saw motion out of the corner of her eye, but taking a longer look
would break her concentration. Still devoting her entire mind to
maintaining her shield, she darted her eyes at the motion, then
immediately back to the demon. It was a trick Frank had taught her:
with just a momentary glance, she could process the image in her head
while still keeping her focus on her shield. To her surprise, she saw
Frank himself on the other end of the hallway. Obviously his
telepathic conversation had been to instruct Giles to momentarily
drop his anti-teleportation spell.
Frank was trying to sneak up on the demon, it didn't work. The demon
knew and was able to send gusts of wind in both directions. Frank had
no way of blocking it, and it took all of his willpower to withstand
it and stay where he was. But the focus on this new target meant less
of a burden on Molly and she was able to advance again. With her free
hand and without looking, she reached for the sword and picked it up.
Not that she'd be able to get up to the demon's position in order to
when Molly realized that Frank had contacted someone else along with
Giles. The demon was fending off targets to his left and right. The
third attack was head on: a blast of ice came in from the entrance.
Shifting both his wind gusts to block it, the demon was only
partially successful. The ice split into a mass of shavings that
pelted the demon everywhere. It was only a mild disruption, but it
gave Molly the opening to switch off her shield, switch on a flight
spell, and soar up to the ledge to eliminate the demon.
came running up from the entrance. “How was that?”
Frank replied. Despite taking the attack head on, he was upright and
standing under the ledge. “Best part is that he gave away a
secret.” He knocked on the wall. “He was standing on a door
frame. You feel that?”
put her ear against the wall under the ledge. She could feel the
magic energy inside. It was immense. The only time she had sensed
more was when Vincent had unveiled Grimoire 17, and that was when she
was directly in front of it. This was behind a stone wall. “That's
what we're looking for, isn't it?”
if you two can get it open. I'll watch the entrance.”
took longer to open than the entrance, but Molly and Troy were again
able to combine their magic to create a passageway. They were lucky
sealing entrances were never the Hageshoni's strong suit. Once open,
Frank rejoined them and they stepped into the central chamber of the
temple. This room occupied most of the building's interior and
explained why Molly found the outer hallways too small.
as far as central chambers went, it was relatively cozy. The walls
were unadorned and unremarkable and there were few decorations other
than some pikes leaning in the corners. It was pitch black; Molly
needed a light spell to illuminate the room. A circular section of
the floor was lower to the ground. In the middle of it sat a small
pool filled with still black water. A broadsword stood at the center
of the pool, its hilt fastened underwater and its silver blade rising
that it then? Did we win?” Troy asked, voice lowered to nearly a
was awed by the place, the magic energy overwhelming her senses. But
not in a good way. Whatever magic was in play here, it was dark. She
sensed anger, suffering and impending danger. The tip of the smiter
still in her hand started crackling; even the air in the room seemed
filled with demonic power.
isn't right,” she said. “Orcs don't use magic. They couldn't have
about the Hageshoni?”
shook her head. “This is beyond them. I don't know who built this,
but I don't want to find out.”
started to back away, but Frank barked, “Wait.” She froze. “Don't
you see what this is?” He stood in front of the pool and was
staring at the tip of the sword. “Of course this would be the key
to controlling the orcs.”
turned around and eyed both Troy and Molly. “This is a sacrificial