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part five

Part Five
Adonis is ready and waiting when Mallos materialises (that’s to say, shifts from transparent smoke form into his usual fairy form, since teleportation within this territory is magically restricted) in the Shady Labyrinth.

“I knew it was you,” the former grits his teeth and grips his weapon – a long sword – tightly in his palms. “Islands exploding and dragons soaring down the beach, attacking people... who else could it be?”

Looking supremely unconcerned, Mallos sticks his hands back into his pockets. “Put it down, boy. You’ll hurt yourself.”

Adonis grips the sword tighter. Mallos’ black eyes gleam. There’s a whistle as the weapon flies from the wolf-man’s hands and clatters to the ground some two hundred feet away, far out of reach; Adonis makes a noise like a strangled cat and moves into a defensive stance. Mallos, already bored with the situation, simply strolls past him. Adonis whips around.

“Why don’t you face me like a man?” He snarls.

“Why don’t you attack me while my back is turned, like a coward?” Mallos hurls coolly back over his shoulder. “Or, better yet, run a sword through me when I’m unarmed.”

“Divinity is unarmed, is it?”


Adonis pulls a knife from his pocket and flings it with deadly accuracy at his target; it pauses in mid-air an inch in front of Mallos’ retreating back, flips around and soars straight back at him so that he has to dive to one side to avoid his own attack.

“Learn to respect your elders, kid,” the demon god calls back irritatingly as he disappears into the labyrinth.

For the second time that day, another man wastes thirty seconds of his life wondering how to defeat an indestructible enemy.
Glowering, Adonis slips into wolf form, embracing the increased sensitivity of his nose and eyes. Pushing his snout to the ground, he follows Mallos’ trail into the maze while simultaneously telepathically updating Itzal to the situation. The familiar had been following events with his mind and has already entered the maze from another direction but is under strict orders from Adonis to hang back until the latter gets there. For a while, both wolves follow the scent quietly, and as time wears on both start to become a little spooked by the silence. Surely, one or the other of them would have found the deity by now – a wolf is much quicker than a fairy anyway, and Mallos had only sent a casual pace. The deep feeling of uneasiness unsettles both of them, but Adonis is determined to press on. Mallos was the cause of so much pain and hurt in Shaman – barely a day went past under his reign when Adonis hadn’t been tending to the wounds (both physical and emotional) of one of his victims. The seven curses have brought this world almost to its knees, and he for one will not see it slaughtered. Mallos has to be got rid of, once and for all.

As they continue, the uneasiness starts to give way to panic. Adonis has a terrible feeling that he’s forgotten something vitally important – that somehow, this is a trap. But how could it be? And why? The second of those questions is easy to answer... it was he, Adonis, who defied him and led the rebellion alongside Twinge. He, Adonis, had rejected Mallos’ self-proclaimed deification and had sought to keep the old beliefs and loyalties in Aura, his true god, alive. Mallos would have good reason for wanting revenge on one of the people who was indirectly responsible for his imprisonment. The thought strikes more alarm bells – what of the others who betrayed Mallos? What of Twinge and her family, or Draco and Poppy, or the Conquerors of Darkness who revived Aura? What of Aura herself, whose familiar – Anneliese, the lost phoenix – was the key that turned the lock in Mallos’ dungeon? According to Lilith, the seventh curse had been released hours ago; Mallos would have had plenty of time to take revenge on all those who had caused him aggravation. Perhaps Adonis should go back... warn them, try to help them...

He rounds the corner and starts. Lost in his thoughts, he’d failed to notice that the trail he’d been blithely following has led him straight to the centre of the labyrinth. In the very heart of the maze is a stone tablet with an ancient symbol carved into it, much like the one in the Shrine. Adonis has no idea what it means, but he’s proud of the heritage and the knowledge that something so deeply ancient and magical is manifested in the core of his territory. Standing next to the tablet, smiling his sinister smile, is Mallos.

And, suddenly, Adonis knows what is going to happen. Perhaps he’s always known – the irony is too good to miss.

“Better run, boyo,” Mallos says softly, “run and evacuate my fort before it recovers its strength and turns you all to stone.” Before Adonis can move, he reaches down and presses his palm against the ancient symbol. The reaction is instantaneous: both the symbol and the ground beneath their feet (or paws) starts to glow a bright blue-white.

The fairy fort at Shady Labyrinth is re-activating, rejuvenated by the touch of its one true fairy and creator. It’s just ironic that the territory so many had sought sanctuary from Mallos in had been his home all along.

      • part six. -
      • part seven. -
      • part eight. -
    • day one -
      • part one. -
      • part two. -
      • part three. -
      • part four. -

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