The little round white flowers bloomed brilliantly under the full moon around my house. They never ceased to amaze me when they would open to catch the silver light descending from the sky above on the full moon. A light breeze, moving the grass and flowers like a great ocean, carried the sweet scent to where I stood on the tiny porch of my home.
At the edge of the forest before me, I watched the writhing shadows release a behemoth of a creature. My heart kept a steady pace as I watched it exhale a billowing cloud of steam as it stretched its massive dark ethereal wings and locked its four glowing red eyes on me. It lumbered forward, slowly at first, gaining speed with each step. I could hear its hooves digging into the soil beneath it as I drew my sword and began walking forward.
We met a few hundred feet from my home, our blades singing in the night, screaming under the meeting of the metal. The demon looked at me curiously when his sword stopped mid-swing.
“Where is the Amulet, Guardian? You will surrender it to me, or die,” it growled, pressing its weapon against mine. My arms began to shake from the strain.
I shifted my right leg backward, bending my knee slightly, before pushing up as hard as I could. The demon’s eyes opened in shock as I pushed it ten feet away from me and reset my stance.
“I wouldn’t be much of a guardian if I simply handed over my charge under the threat of death, would I?” I replied, a smile curling at the corner of my lips.
The beast took to the air blowing hot air into my face as it attempted to fly over me. Reaching out to the shadows in the grass, I felt the connection to those nearer my home, and they swallowed me. I emerged on my porch, mid-strike, as the creature landed in front of me. The demon swayed to avoid the strike, and my blade sliced through its right wing.
The demon roared in pain as its blade came over the top of its head in a downward strike. I rolled to the side as it cut through the roof above me, and continued straight through the porch.
“Seems like you didn’t enjoy that,” I teased as I readied myself for another attack.
“You’ll die for your insolence,” it bellowed, swinging the sword horizontally.
I backed as far as I could before my back hit the wall, and the blade barely reached me, but it reached. I felt the tip of its weapon slide easily through my shirt, skin, and muscle. I thought that fire erupted from my chest as it left me and cut through the beam supporting the roof. My legs gave out from under me, and my vision blurred from the pain.
“Do you like it?” the demon growled, stepping up on the porch. “My blade is the finest in the Nine Hells. Your soul will be sent there when I’m done toying with you.”
The demon turned its weapon to point for the ground and dropped it fast. I tried to move my leg out of the way and nearly succeeded, but it grazed my thigh, sending more fiery pain up my leg. I couldn’t hold back my cry as I rolled in my front door.
“You can’t escape me,” the demon said, knocking the door off its hinges as I tried to close it. “The amulet will be mine, you will be dead, and your life will have been lost in vain.”
The small common room in my home was simple. It held a single table and chair, the fireplace, and a cabinet where I kept my food. The wood floor creaked and threatened to give way as the demon put its weight on it.
I scrambled toward the far side of the room, keeping my sword between us. I could hear my heart thrumming rapidly in my ears as I backed myself into the corner.
“This fight is over, Guardian. You’ve lost. Tell me where the Amulet is, and I’ll end your life quickly,” the demon said, pointing its sword at me. My eyes darted for the fireplace out of instinct, and I kicked myself mentally for it as the demon smiled at me. “Thank you. May your soul suffer eternally in the Nine Hells.”
I placed my hand behind me, feeling the cold shadow that rested in the corner, reached out for the shadow above the mantle, and felt myself dragged through as the demon struck the spot, narrowly missing me. I removed the stone where the Amulet was quickly and reached in, pulling the cold chain out before jumping for the door. I landed awkwardly on my injured leg and rolled out the door as the demon’s sword slammed into the floor behind me.
“Now you will die painfully,” the demon threatened as it pushed through the doorway, following me into the field.
My mind thought of a thousand things at once that could get me out of the situation in which I found myself. Each scenario ended with my death as I lacked the resources or energy to follow the plans to fruition. My sword was beginning to shake in my hand as I pulled myself a hundred feet from the demon through the shadow to give me another second to think.
The demon smiled at me, a wicked, sharp-toothed grin that sent shivers down my spine. “I can see you have run out of options, Guardian. You may as well stop this charade and hand it over,” the demon said, stalking toward me.
Bear me, Guardian.
I looked around me quickly, unsure of the origin of the voice.
In your hand, you hold the key to your triumph.
I looked down as the demon reached the halfway point. The dark gem set in the white gold glinted in the moonlight like a winking eye. I could feel its draw.
Quickly if you want to live, bear me now!
I shook my head, thinking back to the warnings the monks had given me before charging me with the Amulet. I looked up to see the demon now twenty-five feet from me, its weapon above its head, readying for a downward strike. I gritted my teeth and pulled the chain over my head.
The voice filled me as the gentle breeze of the field became a maelstrom in an instant. The demon’s face became a mask of fear as grass and flowers were ripped up and began slicing through him. He roared in pain as the wind lifted him as well from the ground. Only then did I realize that my left hand was extended toward it, my sword on the ground.
“You will suffer,” I heard my voice say, an odd tone to it as though several people were speaking at once. “The Nine Hells will bow to my power!”
They were right. The Amulet is too powerful. I thought. My body acted of its own accord as it reduced the demon to a black mist that settled around me in a wide circle when the wind stopped.
“Thank you, Guardian,” I heard my voice say. “I am once more free to finish my work. Your body is a suitable vessel.”
The silver of the moon became a dull gray light as I felt ripped from my body and squeezed into the Amulet. I would have screamed but lacked the capacity. The world was suddenly much larger around me as it spun, and I saw my face smiling wickedly as though it were suddenly a giant.
“Goodbye, Guardian. May my prison be more comfortable for you than it was for me.”
The world lurched sideways and flew past me. I saw the forest approaching, and then I bounced from tree to tree, eventually landing on the forest floor looking down into the soil, despair filling my soul.
I’m sorry. I thought as the world faded into nothing.