The Nick Of Time
(and other abrasions)
Al Bruno III
Lorelei had been waiting for fifteen minutes and she was furious. Jason Magwier had promised her a visit to what was left of the Gardens of Anzon but he had insisted on one little stop along the way- to visit one of his spies...
And of course Magwier had waited until they were there before he told her that Degmoor wouldn't allow women into his Sanctum Sanctorum.
Sanctum Sanctorum? Looks like a bungalow in the middle of nowhere to me. She grumbled and ran her fingers through her hair, well what she had left of her hair; she had shaved all of it off save for a single extravagant lock in the front that she had dyed black and kept swept back across the top of her head.
“I need to speak to this man," Magwier had explained, “he has made an exhausting study of the Monarchs. He could be invaluable to the Cause.”
Invaluable to the cause or not Lorelei was tired of freezing her ass of and with a growl of annoyance she barged into Degmoor's Sanctum Sanctorum.
Only to find herself in the middle of a nightmare.
The walls were coated with a sticky substance she'd rather not think about and the floor was gone, replaced by a gaping tunnel that angled downwards. The walls of the tunnel resembled soft pink flesh and as she drew closer Lorelei felt heat radiating upwards. She walked cautiously into the tunnel entrance.
A few minutes later the tunnel opened up into a cavern. The illumination that filled it was uncertain and tinted red. The roof towered, cathedral-like above her; shapes littered the walls, human shapes wrapped in layer after layer of white filament. Bloated insect-like creatures crawled over and around the cocoons. The uneven light kept Lorelei from discerning if they were tending the imprisoned captives, or feeding from them.
"Jason?" she called. Oh he better not be dead, that was the last thing she needed.
"Lorelei?" fifteen feet up the wall a shape struggled in its gossamer prison.
“Who did this to you?”
The insect-like creatures began to notice her and abandoned their immobile charges.
“Run!” he called to her, “Get out of here!”
A man stepped forward, carefully threading his way through the carpet of multi-legged creatures. He was naked except for the dark jewel laced about his throat, the source of the chamber's wavering light. "Woman...” His voice rang with contempt, “foul thing you do not belong here.”
Lorelei tried to think of a spell any spell but she felt herself starting to panic, “Tough talk from a guy living at the bottom of a giant vagina.”
Jason Magwier deepened his voice, "Leave her alone Degmoor!"
"Leave her alone Degmoor!" the man cawed. He was close to Lorelei now, close enough for her to see that thin veins of black stone fused the ruby to his neck, cutting paths down his chest and over his face. Dark, thin, hair-like strands of filament leaked from his pores, "Do as we say Degmoor! Don't eat the sacred eggs Degmoor! Don't touch the black ruby Degmoor! Degmoor is the one who is obeyed."
There was a faint tearing sound, Degmoor's abdomen swelled and split open. Four spidery appendages blossomed from the wound, he fell forward, catching his weight on his unsteady new legs.
Forcing herself to stand her ground Lorelei scanned the cavern for something to use as a weapon. Preferably something that wasn't disgusting.
"Degmoor is beautiful!" he ran his hands over his new limbs, the bristly hairs rasping against his palms. Then he turned his attention back to Lorelei, "Now for you woman.."
The insect like creatures advanced on her, scurrying up her feet and over her legs up leaving pale sticky thread in their wake. Lorelei shuddered with disgust.
No spells for something like this. she thought to herself. Time to get back to basics.
Lorelei ran at Degmoor and lashed out with a kick. The toe of her klunky shoe with his exposed groin.
The six legged man doubled over his eight limbs drawing him up into a little ball.
The insectoid creatures began attacking Lorelei, biting and stinging like a squadron of angry wasps.
"The ruby!" Jason Magwier cried from his prison, "Get the ruby!"
For a moment she had no idea what he was talking about, then she grabbed for the dark jewel.
Degmoor screeched, all his limbs thrashing. The creatures on Lorelei’s body went into a frenzy, she could feel a maddening itch where they had begun burrowing into her flesh.
The jewel wriggled in her grip but would not tear free, the crust of stone that had formed around it clung to Degmoor like a second skin.
"Let go!!" he cried, "Let go!"
Wedging her fingernails between the stone and skin she began to pry.
More and more of the insect-like creatures were swarming over her. The walls began to shake, loosing shards of hard clay to shatter on the floor. Degmoor screamed, his voice losing all trace of humanity.
With a tremendous, six-legged shove Degmoor sent her flying. He laughed, his voice carrying above the din, "Failed you did! Failed! Punishment comes to you now!"
The tremors shaking the floor increased, The multi-legged creatures began to stumble and curl up like dead leaves. Degmoor looked around in confusion, then his eyes settled on Lorelei.
She waved the black ruby in her hands, with her other hand she gave him the finger.
Degmoor collapsed, he lay a few feet from her, trying to scoop the four long coils of intestine back into his burst abdomen.
The webbing like its weavers had lost all strength. Jason Magwier himself free and rushed to Lorelei's side. “Oh my darling sweet,” he said, “Oh my sweet.”
“If I was sweet...” she said as she slumped in his arms, “we'd both be dead now.”