Mason was shocked by the sudden change in water temperature. He kicked and struggled to the surface. He took a deep breath of warm air. It had been a long time since he had known warmth. Peony and Karma swam over to him. There were in the middle of a tropical ocean. Only this was one ocean that didn't have any islands. The sky burned bright with three hot suns. It beat down on them unmercifully. Mason blinked back his tears as his eyes adjusted to the brightness. In the far distance a speck floated.
"That must be the boat filled demons." Peony muttered gravely.
"One problem it's getting closer." Mason said, "where do we go from here?"
"The fiends are living in the lost city of Atlantis." Peony answered.
"Then we have to swim down." Mason replied.
Cannons were being fired at them. The concussive blows landed near them, shooting columns of water hundreds of feet high. They started swimming down kicking with all of their might. Bombs were going off around them.
"Will we make it?" Karma thought.
"Of course." Mason's thoughts responded.
"Boys, do you notice that?" Peony thought.
"What?" their thoughts asked at the same time.
"We can hear each others thoughts and..." she answered.
"Karma breath. It's okay. You can breathe underwater here." this time it was Mason.
Karma exhaled and streams of bubbles floated toward the surface. "Cool." he thought.
They swam for miles it seemed scouring the ocean floor for the city. They kept each other entertained with their thoughts. Telling jokes from time to time. They passed sea creatures of various shapes and sizes: sea urchins and sea stars, mako sharks, angelfish, fields of jellyfish, and a lone sea turtle. Later a great white shark swam by and after that a humpback whale singing its lonely songs.
Then three hundred feet down the city came into view. The buildings were covered in clumps algae and held a Greek essence. White houses with intricate carved columns supporting long roofs. Low buildings with only one great hall open to all of the elements. Sea life darted between streets with an apparent ease. The city was formatted around a great circle. The more important buildings were located toward the center with the poorer accommodations at the edges.
Long grasses of seaweed swayed gently in the current. Corral fish made homes in their leafy banks. Fiends were out scrubbing down the buildings. The worn houses were cracked and rusted, but many contained a certain beauty. They had been embedded with jewels and studded with pearls.
The town hall was located in the center of Atlantis and it was the largest building of all. It was covered with a huge dome and had a chunk missing almost as if a giant shark has bitten it off. Mason saw an electric ray swim lazily into it.
The fiends here all had fish attributes, gills around their necks, scales covering their bodies. Some had flipper-like feet while others had mermaid tails. They flashed by, the sunlight glittering off of their shiny bodies.
All of the fiends moved with a purpose. Some carried handfuls of seaweed and seashells, patching up breaks in the walls or decorating. One fiend swam off to the side with a toothbrush. Schools of fish and turtles swam by him. Every now and then one would stop and he would brush the algae from their bodies.
"It's beautiful in an ancient sort of way." Said Peony.
"Hey wait," Mason called out to the mer-fiends with his thoughts. "We need your help."
But all of the fiendish fish just swam by them.
"Maybe they are too afraid. They seem to be rather animalistic." Peony suggested.
"I think they are under a spell." Karma chimed in.
The electric ray swam toward them. His thoughts enter their unaware minds, "Fiends follow me. My lord Kaito wishes to speak with you."
This was no simple request; it was a demand with authority behind it. When Mason didn't budge the ray stung him in the back with his tail.
"Move insolent child!"
After being violently shocked Mason moved forward.
"Are you okay?" Peony voice filled with concern entered his mind.
They approached the town square. Broken shops were scattered along the sides. Mer-fiends polished the walkways while glancing toward the surface or the town hall nervously.
"The mer-fiends are anxious about something. I wonder what it is." Mason told Karma and Peony.
They came to a halt on the town hall's glossy steps. The ray placed his tail on the door handle, one of the very few buildings that even had doors. He sent a jolt of electricity flowing through the inner brass workings. Clear tubes lit up with blue electricity. A high pitch sound squealed and the double doors swung open slowly. An elegantly crafted throne was placed at the end of the long hall. Crafted from gold and silver the throne was carved to look as if a school of fish carried it. A tattered red rug swished across the glossy floor. The ray led them to an ancient fiend who sat on the throne.
His eyes were sea green with tired lines around the corners. In his hand he held a scepter adorned with a blue orb. Within the orb water raged: a smaller simulation of the real ocean. A small wreath of seaweed circled his head with sea stars clinging to it. A curtain of gray hair hung loosely around his face. He nodded to the ray that bowed and quickly left the room.
"Why have you entered my domain?" the mer-fiend asked.
"We seek to raise the hopes of the fiends." Peony answered.
"And find the location of the door to the next level." Mason responded.
"That is none of your concern. You disrupt our way of life. You throw the precarious balance we hold with the demons into chaos. Your presence panics my people. You should leave this place at once." his mind's voice boomed with conviction.
"We will not. Not until I save my friend on Level 9." Mason replied with voice held equal resolve.
A mer-fiend swam unsurely in the hall. Her mermaid tail swayed back and forth nervously. The old king waved her forward. She approached him cautiously and whispered into his ear. The king nodded solemnly.
"I am sorry young fiends, but Haven has just told me that the demons on the upper levels have heard of your noble efforts.” he didn't look sorry at all. “And more importantly they are willing to pay a hefty reward for your capture. At last our brief acquaintance must come to an end. How sad." He slammed the bottom of his scepter onto the ground.
The sound reverberated and a metal gate slid open. Four anglerfish swam toward them, ugly creatures with spiny fins and thick hides. The angler's mouth was an orthodontist's nightmare: with it's horrific under bite and long unfilled teeth. Most anglerfish have a limb with a glowing orb at the end of it. The fish would flick it back and forth to lure in unsuspecting prey. But these fish had orbs with tiny mouths instead and they mashed their teeth hungrily.
The anglerfish sped toward them and Mason silently shouted, "Time to go!"
"We can fight," Karma replied.
"I can't, my bow is useless in the water." Peony reminded them.
Bursting from the doors, out into the open pavilion, the water currents had picked up. The water dragged at their bodies pulling them away from the center of town. The fish did not seemed bothered by the swift currents as they came ever closer to the frantic fiends.
Mason was taken by surprise, but he quickly adjusted his speed. Karma was not so quick and the currents pulled him back. The water pulled him toward an anglerfish that had its mouth wide open and ready to take a bite out of him. With his fingers extended, he slashed at the first fish cutting it to ribbons.
Mason pulled out his blade and swam toward the second. He twisted his arm at the last second dodging the crooked teeth and lodging his blade into the fish's gill slits. Bubbles floated from its mouth and a shrill mutated scream pierced through the thick water. Mason pushed the blade deeper watching blood spill from the fish's body and swirl in the water around. Once the fish had stopped moving he pulled his blade out and turned around to check on Peony, but before he could locate her he head Karma scream, "Help!"
An angler had him by the arm and blood was slowly leaking into the water. He was being dragged toward a dark trench. Peony swam toward them and jumped onto the fish and punched repeatedly at its large eye. The monster was dazed and let go of Karma. He pulled back and quickly finished it off. Together they turned to see that Mason was swimming toward them and behind him was the fourth anglerfish.
"Behind you!" Peony screamed a warning with her mind.
He swiveled around the water dragging at his body and saw the fish twelve feet behind him and quickly gaining. He shifted his blade into his left hand and held the blade at an angle. When the fish was two feet away he slashed at the fish's side and underbelly watching with quiet satisfaction as the fish twitched a few times, before it stopped moving entirely.
Karma noticed a gangly fiend hiding behind a broken town house. He pointed to the mer- fiend as he swam toward them. When he reached them the mer-fiend spoke in an intrigued manner. "I am called Sever."
"How is that of any importance to us?" Mason asked.
"I can help you, but you have to help me first?"
"What do you want?" This time is was Peony.
"I will explain when we reach a more private location. It is too dangerous to talk out here. Do you trust me?"
"Yes." Peony responded.
"No." Mason answered.
"Maybe so," Karma replied laughing.
The mer-fiend paused, "Strange," he said and they followed him without comment.
They swam behind him until they reached a nest of underwater mountains. Sever swam down into a slight trench before he leveled off and disappeared into the darkness.
"There is a small cave tucked against the rocky crags swim down thirty feet and it should be on your left."
Once the three fiends had located the cave and they had assembled before Sever turned to face them.
"You three are the first to defy the rule of our lord Kaito. His tyranny has kept our people in fear." He began.
"How so?" Mason inquired.
"He bargains with the demons to stay on relatively good terms. He trades a shipment of fiends, to be tortured for their amusement, for the safety of our city. If Kaito doesn't do this the demons launched torpedoes and render our town asunder."
"Is there anyone else willing to fight the demons?" This time it was Peony who asked.
"I can think of only four. The rest follow Lord Kaito's wishes to a tee."
"Are they close by?" Mason asked.
"They will arrive here momentarily."
They waited in the alcove discussing plans and filling the day with idle chitchat. As the day slowly ticked by the four fiends arrived one by one.
The first was a tall man. He had large muscles and his skin was covered with green scales. The fiend addressed himself as Kane. Another appeared a woman who had fin-like feet with vibrant gold and orange scales. She was called Magnolia. The third was a short boy, only four feet tall, with a spiky dorsal fin. His name was Cy. The last was a charming woman who would have appeared to be completely human if she didn't have gills. She addressed herself as Sota.
Sever nodded to Mason, "Everyone is here now."
"My friends and I have agreed to help overthrow the king. If that is what you want."
"It is." Cy replied.
"Then today will mark a new beginning for Level 5. We will show you that we finally have a weapon against the demons: courage. We will start a revolution." Mason proclaimed.
"But before we can initiate the revolution we need a plan." Peony stated before any of the other fiends could interject.
"We can cause a distraction while you capture the king." said Karma.
"And what distraction could possible leave the king without guards?" Kane asked.
"I know," Mason said, "If your king is in such good regards with the demons what would happen if we destroyed the demon's ship?"
"That's complete madness. No fiend has ever set foot on that ship." Magnolia replied with astonishment.
"Not until now." Karma said
"And if we attack the ship your king will send his guards to help them. But by then it will be too late, you squad will infiltrate the town hall and capture the king." Peony finished.
"We will do more than capture him. We will send him to The Abyss." Cy replied.
"How?" Karma asked.
"Have you not noticed by now? You guys have descended through the levels and you still don't know. Each level has two doors; one to the next level and one that leads directly to The Abyss.” Sever responded.
"So you know the location of that door?!" Karma asked.
"Yes we located it a few years back, but Kaito has it under lock down. Our lord would only use it for the most dangerous criminals or rebels." Sota said.
"So that's the plan. Karma, Peony, and I will cause the distraction by destroying the demon ship while the five of you will take care of any remaining guards, dispatch Kaito, and set up a fair system that will train the fiends to fight back against the demons. This is only the first assault and there will be more. The demons will fight back with a furor none of us beforehand would have known was possible,” said Mason. "Time for a revolution."
Mason, Peony, and Karma swam through the clear blue ocean waters, scouting out the dangers and ever aware of the wandering sea creatures.
"Kaito's guards are those rays. Right?" Karma asked
"Yea, but we don't know how many there are." Mason responded
"My best guess is there are probably eleven." Peony stated calmly
"And how would you know that?" Karma was incredulous
"Read it once in a book in the order. The Atlantis king was thought to have been guarded by eleven sea faring creatures of his or her choosing. And my best guess is that the fiend king probably follows the same tradition." She answered.
"So if you were a demon infested ship where would you be?" Karma asked.
"Close to the fiends they want to torture. I don't think they will be too far away." Peony responded.
They passed underwater dunes and coral reefs. In one reef Mason spied tiny impish creatures lurking in the anemones. Slightly bluish-gray in color they watched Mason with large, unblinking black eyes. The passed the outer ruins of Atlantis, a place no one inhabited, and miles away from the center of the city. Craters wide and long dotted these ruins.
"The demon ship must have destroyed the outer houses first." Karma said.
"They created so much damage and they are capable of so much more,” replied Peony.
They found the ship a little way off from the ruins. Its anchor was lodge firmly behind a few jagged rocks. The ship itself was a large battleship painted in the traditional army gray. They steadily climbed the chain that ran from the anchor to the ship. Hand over hand.
Find footing, pull forward, check on Peony and Karma, and repeat. This was all Mason could think of as he climbed the two foot thick chain.
Breaking through the surface of the water a myriad of sights and sound confronted them. The forlorn call of wandering sea birds, the salty spray from the wave's crest, the blazing light and heat from the three suns, and most of all the hurried bustling of the demon ship's crew. A red light flashed on deck. Oblivion was written in across the ship's side in bold white letters.
The first mate’s voice barked orders from above, "you heard the message. Fiends are on the loose and descending rapidly through the nine levels. Supposedly they are starting a rebellion. You don't want to die today. Do you? Put your back into it. Let me see some hustle."
"The king was right the demons have finally caught onto us,” Peony said aloud for now that they were above water they could not share their thoughts.
"It took them long enough." It was Karma this time.
They grabbed hold of the ledge above their heads. They quietly shuffled to the stern of the ship with their hands. At the stern Mason shifted his weight and jumped to reach the handrail. He caught it and a slight ring resounded. He checked the surroundings. Seeing no one, he offered his hand down to help first Peony and then Karma up.
"Weapons at the ready?" He asked.
Karma nodded while Peony readied her first arrow. Mason brought his blade out and flipped it absentmindedly between his hands. He could hardly call it a dagger anymore, now it was long enough to be a short sword. He rubbed his thumb across the blade and heard a faint whisper, still hungry. The blade told him.
A deckhand was reading a cannon nearby. Mason nodded and the demon dropped dead with an arrow running through his neck. He pointed to a stairwell leading to the upper decks when Karma interjected, "Knight let me handle the upper floors while you worry about the lower levels."
"Can you handle it?"
With that Karma left as silently as a wind would leave town.
"We know what you intend to do Mason. Remember we could hear each others thoughts?"
"Oh yea, that's right."
"Here take this." she handed him a small mechanical contraption. "I will take care of this floor. You can go on down to the engine room and set this trap next to its gears. Hit this little black button," she pointed to it on a small button on the side, "and then get the hell out of there."
Peony drew an arrow and let it fly. It stuck with a thud into the chest of a demon.
"Okay now you are just showing off." He replied.
"Go now and be safe."
Mason crept among the boxes and crates staying just out of sight. The ship creaked and moaned slightly as was it rocked on the waves. All around were the instruments of death; cannons, guns, spears, and nets. The smell of dead and rotting fish permeated the area.
He searched for a ladder or steps leading down to the lower levels, but he was a little distracted by the grace of Peony. She moved as if she was a huntress of Artemis, creeping silently across the deck. Taking her opponents down with only a slight shift of her hand.
He found the stairs moments later after he chastised himself for having is attention diverted so easily. It was tucked away in the far corner of the ship, a sleek passage to the next level. The hallway was dimly lit and his footsteps rang loud on the metal walkway.
He was able to slash down many demons that stepped into his path. He dispatched them before they could call out for help. But as he got closer to engine room the demons appeared to be larger and stronger than the former.
He had a number of cuts across his arms and legs from earlier fights and his strength was beginning to fade when a large demon walked up the steps and into his level.
It was a lion demon with a flowing, black mane. The creature stood on hind legs imitating a human gait. He approached Mason gradually a roar resounding in his throat. His powerful back legs hunched and the demon leaped at Mason with claws extended. He stepped to the side and bumped into the handrail. Pain seared through his body as the claws ripped a cut across his shoulder. The sword flashed in the light as Mason regained his balance. The blood dripped freely down his side. The lion licked his muzzle wiping the blood of his face.
Mason swung his sword wide before twisting in a tight circle. He ended up behind the demon and slashed a cut down its forearm. An angry roar flew from between the demon's clenched teeth. Mason jumped back as the lion twisted around, but he could not escape the razor claws as it slashed his left shin. He screamed as the fire ripped through his body. The demon smiled suddenly sure of victory and that was when he seized the opportunity and lunged. The blade pierced through the lion's stomach and he fell to the ground, twitching until death.
Mason pulled his blade out and wiped it clean on the lion's tawny fur. He looked down at his leg and gasped at the damage. The red and puffy skin was sliced open so that a section of muscles were clearly visible. He pressed his hand against the wound trying to staunch the flow of blood. His mind focused on the pain and he used that concentration to lead the energy flowing out of his brand. He felt a tug on his shoulder as his brand flared to life and slowly the energy crept down to the injury slowly sewing the wound back together.
The minutes ticked by and he watched with great fascination as first the muscles melded together and then the over lying skin. When he looked back at his leg he saw only one red line marred his otherwise perfect skin. He traced the line for a minute feeling the dizzying side effects of regeneration.
He took his first step and inhaled sharply when a spike of pain shot throughout his leg. He realized with a shock that the brand had healed the wound, but it had not dissipated the pain. He limped down the hallway clutching the handrail to keep pressure off of his leg. He rounded a corner and located the engine room by sound. The door was cracked open and the noise was clamorous. The huge turbines spun in patient circles, faithfully powering the ship. A demon surveyed the gears checking all the parts carefully. Mason took two steps forward and sliced the demon's arm off in a quick slash. It turned in surprise and he brought the dagger through its chest. Bringing the heart to a stuttering stop.
Mason stuck the tiny bomb onto the control panel. He hit the black button and a computerized voice said, "self destruct in t-minus three minutes." the box began to count the time back in red numbers.
He shuffled painfully out of the room. A concussion shook the floor and he was thrown against the wall. He silently hummed a song to himself to keep up his moral. The levels of Hell were taxing. He felt as if his strength was slowly being drained away. Just as he had been warned, his emotions had grown more power as well and it seemed to him that the battle against insanity was becoming a daily thing.
As he began the slow trek toward the deck he realized that the steps were going to be the hardest for him. He had to gingerly pick up his left leg and set it on the step to proceed. He began to panic halfway up the first stairwell. He knew he was taking too long and he still had to climb two more flights of stairs.
That was when his savior appeared. Karma was at the top of the stairs hurtling down the steps to him. His finger daggers dripped with blood. He looked weary, but he wore that ever-present mischievous smile.
"I got rid of the captain and his first mate." Karma said.
"That's great, but we need to get out of here in the next minute or so because the ship is going to blow up."
"Putting the pedal to the medal."
Karma swung Mason's arm over his shoulder and took some of the weight off of his tender leg. Together they hobbled somewhat quicker up the steps. Peony was still on the deck standing over the demon bodies that litter it.
"What took you so long," she glanced at his wounded body and hastily responded, "never mind. Let's get out of here." she glanced at them, before jumping over the handrail."
"Sorry Mason this might hurt." Karma said as he pushed him over the handrail.
Another ungraceful fall, Mason thought.
A third splash soon followed.
He had hardly swum forty feet before the bombed detonated. He was deep underwater and Mason could still hear the explosion. Metal was blasted to every side; scraps sliced his skin just above his eye. Peony and Karma received a few cuts as well. The fire and smoke bloomed upward, but they swam down toward the outer ruins.
When they reached the coral reefs one of the little gray creatures from before approached Mason.
"You make big boat blow up. Yes?" the creature’s strange thoughts filled his head.
"Yes, the ship is gone for now." Mason responded.
"Ship come back later dhan." The little creature pronounced all of its t’s with a d sound.
"No, but maybe a bigger ship will."
“Dhatd would be bad. Very bad. But you save us from demons. Demons love to pick on little Cawls.”
"Dat be what we are. Cawl creatures. You have our dhanks giant."
"Your welcome. Maybe in a few days you should speak with the new king or queen. I bet they would let your people move closer to Atlantis."
"Yes dhatd be very nice. If so id were."
The Cawls darted back into their coral reef homes and Peony looked at Mason with perplexed eyes.
"Those Cawls are incredible who would have thought the lower levels held other creatures who were tormented by the demons just as we had been all these years. They obviously have human-like intelligence as well as the ability to speak language, even if it is crude as best. We might be able to find allies on the other levels as well." Peony stated very deliberately.
"Okay spit it out." Karma said.
"Spit what out?" Peony asked nervously.
"We both know what you want to say. It's okay good ahead." Mason replied.
"The Cawls are so cute. They have little webbed feet and big, black eyes. They are absolutely adorable." Peony gushed.
They arrived back at the town hall and found Sever standing over Kaito, who was gagged and bound. The dead bodies of rays were strewn across the floors.
"We heard the explosion. Good job at destroying it. But it seemed that a few of the guards stayed with our lord." Sever said calmly.
"We seem to have come across another problem. The door that leads to The Abyss is in the dungeon, but it seems to have shut close. We tried to open it, but the door seems to have a mind of its own. It actually cast spells at us." this time it Sota.
Karma looked expectantly at Peony, "Maybe she can help."
"Okay," Mason said, "you help them unlock the door while Karma and I search for the next level. We are getting close."
"But think of how much time has passed. Everyone we knew on Earth is probably dead by now." Peony broke down into sobs. "My family, my friends, my...my .." she couldn't say it.
"The pain is getting to be too great. Our emotions are winning over reason." Karma said.
"You are welcome to stay here for the night." Kane replied.
"That is a kind offer, but to us it would be too weird to sleep underwater. So after we find the door we will take our leave. It seems that the longer we stay here the stronger our emotions get and the faster our strength drains. Cuts are taking longer to heal and nightmares plague even our waking thoughts." Mason said thoughtfully.
Peony followed the small brigade of mer-fiends to the dungeons. The stones were a bad attempt at trying to imitate sapphire. Instead they were an off shade of blue that was very unappealing. Small crystal orbs were nailed to the walls and trapped inside were small luminescent minnows. They were flitting around in circles and made small pinging noises when they hit the glass. The dungeon itself was not as bad as the usual jails above ground. There was not a foul odor save for the saltwater and fish. No prisoners stood behind the black rock bars of the cells.
"Most were sent away by now. Although a few did die." Sever said quietly answering her question before she could even ask it.
"Sent away to where?" Peony inquired.
"To Abyss, that is what we believe. We don't know for sure because no fiend sent to the dungeon ever comes back. We doubt they have been sent to Level 6, because we have rarely seen that door. We believe the door transports. It has manifested itself before, but it always disappears within the hour. I have heard that the gray creatures of the sea may know where it is."
They approached a translucent door. It had a slight blue tinge, but through it Peony could see the swirling mass of darkness that was The Abyss. The door did not have a handle or grip of any kind. It was firmly lodged into the dungeon walls.
"The door always slides into the opposite wall to open and then it slides back in place after a fiend is sent through. The downfall with opening the door is that it won’t close until someone passes through." He explained. "Our problem is usually any of the mer-fiends can open the door by placing a hand lightly on its surface, but now a jolt of lightning will go through any fiend whom touches it. Is there anything you can do?"
"I know the basic principles of Alyadd. Maybe one of the incantations I know could move the door. Do you know what it is made of?"
"We are not sure, something that is harder than diamond and heavier than steel. The mixture is so complex that not even our top chemist could determine its properties.”
"Not much help, maybe something more robust. What are the walls made out of?"
"Coral and stone deposits. \ Maybe a little limestone as well."
"I could make a section of the wall crumble around the door. Would that work?"
"When the door opens normally a force pulls at everything nearby. It is almost as if The Abyss has its own gravitational field. Something massive is down there. It would be suicide to tear down that wall. We would never be able to find a way to close the gap. We would be sucked into The Abyss before we even had a chance to think of a way to close it."
"Okay we can strike that plan. Wait, I read about this in a book once. Hmm. This might be one of the doors that were forged long ago by a time-forgotten hero. It contains the properties of many elements and sometimes releases magical energy."
Peon laid her hand across the surface. Violet colored energy crackled beneath her skin.
Horror dawned on her as she realized this was not the door she was thinking of. This was something far more sinister.
"Is there anyone who can use magic here?" she inquired.
"The lord had a mage named Autumn. Why?"
"Have you seen her lately?"
"She is locked up in her chambers."
"Bring her to me." Peony commanded.
Mason and Karma wandered through the city. Searching every building and every nook. They looked high and low for hours with no success.
"They said they never found the door and they have lived here for centuries. How do we hope to find it in a matter of a few days?" Karma complained.
"I don't know Karma. Now quit your yapping. We have work to finish." Mason snapped.
They left the tall houses of the inner city and explored through the low-lying abodes on the outskirts. These dwellings were overwhelmed with sea life. Snails scooted and hermit crabs scuttled across the rocks. Sea stars stayed firm. Fish gleamed in the flittering sunlight. And a lone Cawl swam discreetly through the ruins, but Mason saw him. The Cawl saw them as well and it swam over to them carefully.
"Why are you so far from your coral reefs?" Mason inquired.
"Giant we know whad you seek, safe passageway dto level next. You saved us from punishing demons. We redurn da favor now. Da portal dto da next level is in our coral homes. Follow me. I show you where."
"Now you see," the Cawl continued as they swam. Mason looked quizzically at Karma who shrugged his shoulders. "None of your kind ever found da door because we have id hidden away. We have on occasional released da door dto da fiends for demporary use. Because da dangers were dtoo great for dhose captured dto go dto Da Abyss. And unspeakable horror lurks dhere. I can not dell you much about id but da monster feeds off anything dhat enters da chamber and id grows stronger every day."
They followed the Cawl silently to its home. This reef was further away from the rest of the Cawl's coral reefs. And it was larger than most. Not only did the Cawls live here, but hundreds of other sea creatures did as well. The coral was full of vibrant colors and hungry anemones. A lone nurse shark had settled in the coarse sand.
"Dis is where da problem arises. You dtwo are going dto need some minor alderadions." the Cawl looked them up and down. "Yea minor changes."
Mason thought about it for a little while before saying, "Aww Hell no. There is no way that is going to work."
Karma looked at him and realize the truth as well, "we would never allow it."
The Cawl looked at them sheepishly, a look that was strange on his impish face, "Id is da only way."
Sever had Kane drag the mage down to the dungeons. She was a beautiful fiend if it wasn't for the evil that lured behind her gray eyes. Her long flowing hair was the color of molten lava and she was covered in shinning cerulean scales. Her hands were bound behind her back. The mage looked up at Peony and barred her teeth.
"She is the only fiend we know of that has magical abilities." Sever said quietly.
Peony looked at her in disgust, "So Autumn why did you do this?" she pointed at the door, it was still alive and buzzing with energy. "You must know the complications that come from this incantation."
Autumn looked at her, but she did not respond.
"You know that the energy this door holds will grow every time a fiend lays a hand on it." Peony said with authority.
"You know what the spell is?" Sever asked disbelieving.
Peony nodded, "you were foolish to use this forbidden spell. When the door acquires enough energy it will implode creating a tiny black hole that will destroy everything and everyone on this level. And a black hole next to The Abyss will be a catastrophe. It will destroy everything in this whole dimension we call Hell. Except for the Devil. This spell could set him free."
The mage's eyes widen with fear.
"I need to know the exact chant you used to bind the spell to the door. What was it?"
Autumn blinked her eyes three times, slowly. "I had no idea. I just wanted to save our lord Kaito from The Abyss and destroy these miserable rebels, but even if I tell you there is no way you can reverse it. The spell was Wyrme's Revenge and the chant was the ancient incantation of Earth, turned soil, and the rivers of blood."
"You leave me with no choice then." Peony turned to Sever. "We are going to have to bind her to the door."
"What? Why?" Sever asked.
"The only way I can break the chant of Earth and blood is with the life of the caster."
Sever and Kane bound the struggling Autumn to the door. Jolts of purple light danced across its surface as it began to devour the energy in the mage's body. She twisted and screamed as she tried to break free. The energy whipped over Autumn's body changing to a deep red color.
Peony placed her right index finger onto the door as it hummed with energy. I have to have perfect timing or else I will destroy this place just as surely as the spell would. I need to wait just a few more moments. Peony thought.
The energy grew in size, swelling and spilling onto the floor around them. Sever and Kane took several steps back. The energy danced around both mages. Pain lanced through Peony's body as her energy was drained. She removed her hand from the door to pull an arrow from her quiver. She pricked her index finger and using her blood she drew a circle on the door with an X in the middle. She placed her right on the circle.
"Through blood and body and soul I vanquish the Wyrme's Revenge. I give you the soul of the caster, the blood of connection, and myself as humble sacrifice." Peony chanted.
The purple and red energy swirled around them, casting thousands of shadows onto the dungeon's walls. The energy destroyed Autumn's soul, ripping it apart from the inside out. It swallowed the last of the mage's energy leaving nothing behind. It was almost as if she had never existed.
The energy concentrated around Peony. It condensed into a small orb of glowing fuchsia light. It entered her body, turning her world to one of pain and fire. It burned across her body scaring a brand over her back. It was the shape and design of pit wyrme gliding under sand dunes. The brand stretched from her left shoulder to the right side of her hip. The energy poured through her mind, enhancing her senses and sharpening her wisdom. The light shone through her eyes and left them the same vibrant, fuchsia color. Her eyes glowed with power even after the energy had dissipated.
The voice of the pit wyrme entered her mind. "I accept you as my servant. I will call upon your service in the near future. When once again I need use of your special ability. Until then revel in the power I have graced you with. It is, but a fraction of my own. Serve me well until the end of your days. Little wyrme."
There are multiple steps to fully break the revenge of the pit wyrme. First is killing the caster of the spell. Second is to sacrifice body, soul, and blood. Finally the one who broke the spell has to sell his or her soul to complete its purpose. Peony became the wyrme's servant and she would remain bound to it until she completed its revenge. Once she did the wyrme would kill her as it had Autumn.
"It's over now.” She said. "The door should be ready to use. We can bring the lord down."
Sever nodded to Kane who lumbered back up the steps. A few minutes later he stormed down with Kaito in tow.
Kaito struggled against Kane but was unsuccessful. He screamed against the gag and it came out as a strangled sound. Sever looked at him with remorse, but a stronger emotion flitted across his face; hate.
Peony laid her hand on the door and a deep sound groaned as if huge mechanical gears were turning inside the door. The door slid back before her eyes. A current picked up and dragged the water into the hole. Sever gabbed onto a column and Peony did the same. Kane simply let go and Kaito and he was pulled into the hole disappearing into the depths of The Abyss.
"Thank god that is over with." Sever replied with a sigh of relief.
The door slid back into place and the swirling currents stopped. Peony let go of the column while Mason and Karma bounded down the steps. Mason looked at her and asked, "What happened to your eyes?"
"I'll explain later."
"Peony," Karma called, "we found the passageway to the next level."
"There is just one problem." Mason remarked.
"And what is that?" Peony inquired
"Well," Karma continued.
"Absolutely not." She replied.
They were surrounded by a group of six Cawls when the arrived at the coral reef.
One stepped forward and asked, "now everybody ready?"
"Two quick questions. First is this going to hurt?" Karma asked.
"Id might. We don't know surely." One Cawl responded
"Second is this going to be permanent?"
"Id wear off in few days time." Another Cawl said with a shrug.
"We have wasted enough time. Commence." Mason said.
The little, wise ones danced in a circle around them and clapped their small hands. White light streaked among the Cawls fluttering with them as if it was a bird. The light flew into the fiends causing them to shrink down to the size of a Cawl, only as tall as two feet.
The process it took to shrink their size had hurt, but not much. It felt similar to being stung by a bee, brief, sharp, and there was a slight swelling afterward. It was difficult for them to get used to their new size. It was slightly scaring knowing that a turtle was larger than them. After all that the only lasting pain was a mild headache, but they were none the worse for wear.
"Now," the Cawl said, "you may pass through the doorway."
And that was the original problem to get to the next level the team had to be the same size as the Cawls. The two by three feet entryway to the next level rested in the home of the leader. He welcomed them warmly, smiled courteously, and gestured to the door. It was a worn door, old oak resting on rusted metal hinges. They group hesitated for a moment still slightly shocked from the transformation.
Mason stepped forward first. The others followed soon after.