Freedom Part Eight

Sophia had been praying steadily since the captain had taken Kaine away. Her prayers were frantic, and simple: please let this work please let this work please let this work…over and over again. She knew she was the weak spot in their plan. The others had no special connection with the gods, but she was just about as close as a person could be. If the altar was going to recognize any one of them as an enemy, it would surely be her. Goddess protect me! If it is your will that I survive, then I need your help now. Conceal me from this evil. Hide my true nature from these villains, and allow me to do your work. So may it be. Over and over again, she repeated this prayer.

The cage opened, and she stepped out. Just as the guards forced her to her knees, she heard the voice of the goddess in her head, as clear as a bell.

“Reveal yourself,” the voice commanded her.

“What? Now? I’m not ready…” she answered.

“Reveal yourself.”

Sophia closed her eyes, and took a deep breath. When she opened them, they were blazing with white light. Wings sprouted from her shoulders, and she began glowing with a silvery light that coalesced into armor around her body. She leapt into the air, shrugging off the guards that were holding her, and seemingly pulled a sword out of the thin air. As she landed, she decapitated one of the guards The captain, momentarily dumbfounded by the sudden turn of events, recovered quickly. “Kill her!” he screamed. Several guards moved to comply.

Nightshade, trained to kill from the day she was born, was the first one of the companions to react. She sprang to her feet, slapping Kaine out of his reverie on the way up. She pulled a dagger out of her boot, and threw it at the captain, who knocked it aside at the last moment.

Smedley, the leader of the assassins on board, also reacted quickly. He jumped up, and ran to the cage holding Trick and Runt.

A general melee broke out between the assassins and the crewmen. Kaine sprinted for the captain, slowing down only to parry the odd sword thrust that came his way. He got about halfway across the room before his path was blocked by the fighting, and he had to stop to face off with one of the crewmen.

The captain pointed at Sophia, and a bolt of solid black energy shot out of his finger and slammed into her chest. She screamed in pain, and dropped her sword, which vanished as soon as it left her hand.

Nightshade drank a potion, and in an instant she was behind the captain. “Block this,” she said, as her twin daggers plunged into his back. His face contorted in agony, but he didn’t make a sound as he spun around to face her.

Smedley reached the cage, and unlocked it. As soon as it was open, Trick used his sword to teleport to the top of it. Runt exploded from the cage, and started mauling the nearest guard.

Sophia spotted Trick on top of the cage, and yelled at him. “Trick! The holy water! Now!”

Trick pulled one of the vials out, and hurled it at the altar. One of the guards reacted with supernatural speed, and struck it with the flat of his sword, breaking it before it could reach its target.

The captain struck out with the heel of his hand, and caught Nightshade square in the chest. There was a crackling sound of magic discharging, and Nightshade was flung against the wall. She bounced to the floor and landed in a crumpled heap.

Sophia cut down a crewman as he advanced towards her. In doing so, she left herself open to a rear attack, and a crewman took advantage of the opportunity by slicing her back deeply.

Runt saw this, and launched himself into the air. He came down right in front of the man who had cut Sophia, and tore the man’s head off of his neck.

The captain began chanting, and then he laid his hand on the altar. The liquid inside the altar became quiet and still for about a second, and then a large demonic form slowly rose from the metal. It was either made out of the metal in the altar, or was coated with it. It was about nine feet tall, and humanoid in shape. It didn’t have wings, but a pair of sharp horns rose from it’s head, adding another foot to its height. Both of its hands ended in demonic claws, one of which was clutching a sword that was so black it seemed to suck the light out of the room.

Everything seemed to stop for a moment as the creature stepped out of the altar. Its eyes found Sophia, and it grinned, exposing a mouth filled with fangs. With a deep guttural voice, it said “Celestial,” and moved to attack her.

Trick was still on top of the cage, fighting off several of the crewmen who had climbed up to attack him. He was a shapeshifter, able to change into almost any animal form imaginable, and he desperately wanted to change into a more effective fighting form. However, his equipment would magically become part of the transformation, including the holy water he was carrying. Sophia’s words echoed in his head, reminding him that destroying the altar was the most important part of the plan. He kept fighting off attackers while trying to figure out how to throw the second vial.

Smedley and his team of assassins were fighting a losing battle against the crewmen and guards. Although they were all trained killers, they were used to taking people by surprise and killing them quickly and quietly. They were unsuited for the open fighting they were embroiled in.

Sophia spoke a command word, and another sword of pure, white light appeared in her hand. She raised it just in time to block a strike delivered by the demon. Their blades locked for a moment until she used her sword to push him back. She used her forward momentum to take a swing at his side, but he deflected her blow and took another swing at her head. She ducked under it, throwing herself momentarily off balance. He tried to press his advantage by grasping his sword with two hands in order to deliver a powerful overhead blow, but she avoided it by falling to one side. She dropped her sword, and it vanished just as the first one had done.

Runt came to her rescue just before the demon had a chance to strike. He laid into the demon in a fit of fury and rage, his claws raking the thing’s back over and over again, cutting through the armor and tearing out chunks of flesh. The demon howled in pain, and turned to face his new attacker.

Nightshade, seemingly forgotten by the captain and everyone else, stood up slowly, still reeling from her impact with the wall. She watched as the captain raised his holy symbol high above his head, and started to chant…the same chant he had used the day before to destroy the enemy ship. Not this time, she thought as she pulled out her bow and knocked an arrow. She let it fly, and it struck the captain in the middle of his back. It wasn’t enough to kill him, but it broke his concentration and ruined the spell.

Kaine was finally able to make his way to the captain. Just as Nightshade’s arrow struck the captain, Kaine took a swing at him. The captain stumbled backward to avoid Kaine’s blow, but in doing so, he left himself open. Kaine’s next attack took the captain’s head clean off his shoulders.

The sudden death of the captain sent a shockwave of disbelief throughout the crew, and Smedley’s assassins used the moment of disorientation to quickly dispatch them.

Trick found the opening he had been waiting for, and threw the second vial of holy water into the altar. There was no one to deflect this one, and it broke against the surface of the molten metal. For a split second, it seemed like nothing was going to happen. The holy water just sat on the surface, and it looked like it was just going to spill onto the floor. But then there was a small spark of of blue electricity, and the altar started glowing with white light. It started vibrating violently.

“It’s going to explode!” Trick yelled, and then it did, sending tiny metal shards hurtling through the air. Everyone was hit, but nobody was seriously injured. The demon, however, howled in pain and rage, and vanished into the thin air. With the captain and crew dead, Smedley took command of the ship.