Silent Agony Silent Agony
Lady Paladin and Bacca walked along in the garden, hand in hand. The garden was beautiful and shaded, a combination of British and Japanese traditional garden designs. It was a project the healer had cultivated for years, lovingly coaxing each plant to grow and take root in the blackness of an empty dimension. For her, it was a reminder of a homeworld she could never return to.
"This is the first time in ages we've gotten to be by ourselves, you know?" she said, smiling at Bacca shyly.
The warrior grinned. "I know. There've been so many battles...the only time we saw each other was when you patched up my wounds."
She nodded her head, her loose golden hair falling over her shoulders. "It hasn't been easy, but here we are." Lady Paladin squeezed his hand.
Bacca opened his mouth to speak, when suddenly a roar shook the air. The couple stumbled back and landed on the turf with a thud.
A black apparition appeared in the air and hovered in place. It was shaped like a demon, and Lady Paladin felt the darkness slap against her in a wave. Pale, the healer managed to rise to her feet. "Stay down," she whispered to Bacca when he tried to get up.
"Who are you?" she confidently called, a hundred spells coming to her mind. The specter grinned. "You know who I am, dear Lady. And you know why I am here."
Lady Paladin paled. Bacca leaped to his feet, recognizing the threat, but the healer shoved him back with a scowl. "There is nothing you can do here," she hissed. "Jump back through the portal, leave while you can!"
His face hardened. "I will never leave you Lady, you know that." She smiled tenderly at him. "I know," she whispered, raising a hand to her lips and blowing him a kiss. "And all I ask is that you forgive me." Bacca's eyes widened, but before he could take his next breath, he found himself standing in the middle of his army encampment.
"Damn it!" he swore, the soldiers looking at him in surprise. "Get me the wizards, now!" The soldiers just stood there. "NOW!" he demanded, and they scampered in all directions. Bacca's voice was edged with fear.
Jaana and Kaitlin ran to the warrior, and he quickly related to them what happened. Druidess Kaitlin's face became a ghastly white when she heard the description of the creature. "That is a demonlord," she said, her throat dry. "What you saw was it's shadow as it teleported in. Why would a creature of that power want Lady Paladin? What has she done to attract the attention of a demonlord?!"
"I don't know, I don't know," moaned Bacca, his hand clenching his forehead in despair. "Why did she have to do that?!"
Jaana put a comforting hand on Bacca's shoulder. "It was the wisest thing for her to do. It would have killed anything in it's way...she was saving you." The words obviously gave no comfort to the warrior.
The mages quickly erected a teleport, and followed the coordinates to Lady Paladin's cottage. To their surprise, the painstaking wards that Lady had placed on her home had been torn to shreds in a delicate manner...one to pull a wizard's mind to pieces with each tug. It was every enchanter's nightmare to have his spelled unraveled in such a cruel dispelling.
Bacca leaped through the teleport, Jaana and Kaitlin following a step behind.
The pentagram led to sheer darkness. There was nothing, no cottage, no garden...no Lady Paladin. In horror, Bacca stumbled forward. Where was she? What had happened?
"Bacca, over here!" cried Kaitlin. "We've found her!" In a trance, the warrior trudged in that direction. On the ground on black obsidian, there was a white, bloodied figure. She was in a fetal position, her face hidden by her crimson-matted hair.
"Lady?" Bacca softly asked, reaching to touch her shoulder. Suddenly, the pain she was feeling traveled back through his hand and blasted him backward. Right arm, shattered. Knee caps, removed. Pelvic bone, broken in three places. Skull, battered in by three-inch claws. Heart, pulled from breast while still beating. Skin, peeled from hands and feet. Body, kupo'ed to death...
"I'm dead," said Lady Paladin, recoiling in shock. She turned to the side and retched, her ghostly form dizzy. "I'm dead......."
With a piercing scream, the healer awoke, her body thudding with each heart beat. Her silken chemise was soaked with sweat. "When will this agony end?" she hoarsely whispered to the silent night.