Joseph exploded through
the heavy oak door. He spun around and made to heave it back shut.
The monstrous entity trailing him had other ideas. One of its
muscular green arms shot through the gap, a black-clawed hand
gripping the edge of the door tightly.
want… to play!”
Joseph shoved repeatedly against the door, making little progress. He
reached into his brown leather vest and produced a gleaming dagger.
He jabbed it into the bulging green hand and twisted the blade back
The monster on the
other side of the door howled in pain and anger. It retracted the
hand, nearly taking the dagger with it. Joseph hurled himself against
the door once again. It slammed shut with a resounding boom. He
smiled, turning the knob below the handle to lock it shut.
He stood back,
breathing heavily. He nearly wiped the dagger on his clean white
shirt, but caught himself. He opted to clean the black ichor from the
blade on his ragged trousers, instead.
Joseph tucked the
dagger back into his vest and turned around. This room was filled
with rows of shelves covered top to bottom with glass beakers, vials,
and bottles holding liquids of every color and description.
Unidentifiable animals, freshly vivisected, were stretched across a
bloody operating table. Their mutilated bodies occasionally lit in
vivid blue by a nearby Jacob’s ladder electrical device.
He walked slowly,
cautiously past the shelves and around the operating table. He
shuddered as he passed the still-twitching bodies. A bloodied head
turned towards the sound of his footsteps, single eye pleading for
death. He quickly looked away, swallowing hard.
He suddenly lurched to
one side. The glass ball that had caught his eye went shooting past
his head. It smashed into a million pieces on the wall behind him. He
spun around to see thick smoke rising from the spilled liquid from
within. The acid hissed as it ate at the stone floor and wall.
The cackles of an
unhinged mind rang out from somewhere beyond the rows of shelves.
Joseph reached back into his vest and found the dagger. He looked it
over. It suddenly looked very small to him. He held it out before him
as he proceeded past the operating table.
He passed into a
narrow aisle separating two sets of wooden shelves. The close
quarters and limited freedom made him uneasy. So too did the various
specimen jars he observed as he crept quietly along. Some of the
specimens appeared to be staring back.
stepped out into the open past the end of the wooden shelves. He
paused suddenly, his heart skipping a beat. A sound, surely a foot
dragging on the dusty stone floor, echoed loudly through the room. He
held his breath and listened intently.
First there was a
blur, then a great set of powerful hands thrusting into Joseph’s
shoulders. The blow forced him backwards into the end of one of the
wooden shelves. It shuddered violently. Some of the woeful specimens
found their way to the floor, their glass cages shattering. He cried
out in pain and surprise.
Joseph lifted his
dagger, poised to strike out at his attacker. The other man, a
crazy-eyed scientist with white, untamed hair struck the blade from
his hand with an arm forged from steel. Joseph cried out and slunk to
the side. The mad scientist’s unhinged laughter chased him across the
The young adventurer
scanned the room for any type of weapon. His hand found a length of
steel pipe. He grinned devilishly as he turned it on the mad
scientist. He struck out at the man, who easily smacked the pipe away
with his steel arm.
The resulting clank
rang in Joseph’s ears, the strike sending waves of pain down both
arms. The scientist cackled quietly. Joseph swung again, causing the
scientist to hop backwards with a small growl. The Jacob’s ladder
hummed and crackled somewhere behind him.
A smile slipped across
Joseph’s face, a plan blooming in the back of his mind. He swatted at
the mad scientist again and again, backing up after each jarring
impact. He at last found himself close enough to the Jacob’s ladder
to smell the burning ozone lingering in the air.
Joseph brought the
pipe crashing down right into the metallic hand of the crazed
scientist. The maniacal creature smiled smugly as he ripped the pipe
from Joseph’s hands. The man reacted in mock horror, stepping
backwards towards the crackling Jacob’s ladder.
The mad scientist’s
smile became a grimace as he swung the metal pipe straight at
Joseph’s head. The young adventurer deftly ducked. The pipe crashed
into the Jacob’s ladder, just as he had hoped it would.
Jagged blue-white arcs
of energy surged into the pipe, up the scientist’s arm, and into his
chest. The monstrous man jerked violently, smoke curling up around
his wild white hair. The Jacob’s ladder gave one final, large jolt
before failing completely.
The mad scientist
continued to stare at Joseph, his body trembling. The pipe slipped
from his grip and fell to the floor, causing an ear-splitting
cacophony. The light left the scientists eyes. He collapsed.
Joseph kept his place
and watched the body intently for several moments. Steeling himself,
he slowly rose to his feet. He crept past the still-smoking
scientist. The smell of burnt flesh twisted into the young man’s
nostrils and held fast.
His footfalls became
quicker, more sure as he strode towards the door. They halted
suddenly as he spotted a writing desk. More to the point, he spotted
the pair of crossed rapiers hung above the desk.
He stretched to reach
the handle of the left one. He smiled as his fingers wrapped around
the seasoned leather grip and pulled gently. The sword slid away from
its fastening. He was heartened to see that the weapon was not merely
He held the rapier to
one side and continued through the door on the far side of the room.
He climbed the jagged stone stairs with care. He craned his neck as
he turned each corner, half-expecting someone — or something — to
be waiting for him on the other side.
Joseph soon found
himself standing before a large wooden door at the top of the
stairwell. He braced himself and kicked the door open. The old hinges
cried in protest at the rough treatment. The heavy door slammed into
the wall on the other side with a deafening boom.
Then there was
On the other side of
the door was an ornate resting room. Multiple couches and chairs were
arranged artfully throughout the chamber. Large book shelves lined
the far wall. A small sampling of the estate’s manuscripts were
placed on various coffee tables and side tables throughout the room.
would suggest that a book club had just adjourned, but the thick dust
on everything attested to a sadder truth. It had been some time since
the living had tread the ornate carpet before him. And yet, there was
There, on one of the
coffee tables. A book moved. He stared at it, unsure of what he saw.
He walked towards the table. He stopped as the book in question
slowly lifted itself into the air.
Joseph approached it
with a sense of awe and deep distrust. He stretched his free hand
towards the book. It suddenly dropped back onto the table. He jerked
his hand back in surprise.
An eerie, feminine
laugh floated to him from nowhere and everywhere. He warily stepped
back from the coffee table. He jumped and winced as something bounced
painfully off his back. The taunting laugh echoed throughout the room
He whirled around to
face his attacker. There was none to be found, save for another book
resting on the floor at his feet. Vague whispers caressed his ears.
He swung back around, eyes darting from spot to spot, seeking out his
More laughter greeted
him. “Show yourself, foul creature!” The laughing abruptly
stopped. Multiple books throughout the room lifted from their resting
places. Joseph started inching backwards.
His fears were
validated as one book after the other threw itself at him. He dodged
some, slashed at others with his scavenged rapier. The laughter
returned as he jumped and flailed.
The activity stopped
as suddenly as it had started. The sound of a dozen books crashing
onto wood and stone filled the air. He winced at the cacophony.
Joseph held the rapier before him, prepared for further attack.
The air before him
shimmered ever so slightly, like a mirage. He heard a feminine
giggle. Something shoved into his chest, forcing him back a couple of
steps. There was more laughter.
Joseph slowly turned
around. He strained his eyes for any glimpse of his attacker. The air
rippled beside him. Something jabbed into his ribs. More giggles. He
growled in frustration.
He turned about once
again. This time he strained to look out of the corner of his eyes.
Back and forth. Left to right. His vigilance was rewarded. The air to
his right glimmered.
He snapped his rapier
up and jabbed it to the right. The blade found its way into solid
flesh. An ear-piercing scream filled his ears. He turned about to
find himself facing a ghastly pale young woman.
Her wide, black eyes
stared through his soul. Her mouth worked, but produced no words or
sound. Her head dipped, her body pulled backwards off of the sword.
She disappeared from sight just before hitting the floor.
Joseph stared at the
spot where the woman should have lain. His eyes shifted to the
rapier. Its blade was clean, save for a barely disturbed layer of
Awe gave way to
determination. He strode through the grand door at the far end of the
study. He found himself in a large room that gave way to a balcony
overlooking the land behind the castle. It was very dark here, save
for the occasional flash of purple-tinged lightning in the distance.
A pair of yellow eyes
formed in the darkness. The body they were attached to stepped
forward out of the shadows. A demonic form eight feet high stood
before Joseph. Impossibly large muscles writhed and rippled under
grayish white skin. A filthy brown cloth was the only thing that
preserved the demon’s modesty, such as it was.
“Daganon, we meet
The mighty demon’s
laughter boomed louder than the thunder that surrounded them. “I
have been watching your journey closely, human. I must say, you’ve
survived longer than I thought you would.”
longer than you!”
Joseph broke into a run, sword held back and at the ready. Daganon
crossed his arms, a sly smile playing out across his lips. Joseph
swung the sword with all his might, crying in fury.
The demon disappeared
in a flash of yellow light. Joseph threw his weight backwards in a
bid to stop his momentum. The balcony outside loomed as he dropped
the sword and pinwheeled his arms. He stopped with one foot resting
on the shallow balcony.
More booming laughter
came from behind him. Joseph reeled around to see Daganon standing
with his arms still crossed on the far side of the room. “Are
you finished, adventurer?”
one fluid movement, Joseph produced and threw another dagger from his
vest. Lightning glinted off the blade as it sailed towards its mark.
Daganon never shifted.
Instead he watched,
amused as the dagger passed uselessly through his body and stuck in
the door behind him. He looked up and grinned at Joseph. “You
over the young man. “You’re not even here.”
“You are correct.
And I promise you… You will never find me. Give up, fool.”
Joseph gritted his
teeth. “I will see you dead.”
not tonight.” Thunder crashed. Daganon disappeared in a flash of
yellow light, replaced by a small colony of screeching bats. Joseph
ducked as the flying rodents rumbled past him into the night.
The demon’s fading
laugh rode upon their wings, then scattered into the chilling wind
outside. Joseph stood and stared into night. He silently renewed his
vow to see the demon destroyed.