Dragon’s Ring — Snippet 07
The place hissed with smokes and steam. Entirely too much steam as far as those who called it their home away from home were concerned. They were creatures of energy, not flesh. The steam in the fumarole would have cooked flesh. Most flesh anyway. Not dragon-flesh, which was a source of some grievance among them. They found the steam cool, and worse, wet. Sulfurous smokes were preferred . . . but they had known from the first that this was a hardship-posting — with great rewards, it was true.
“They failed,” said the one who, when not among creatures who were patterns of energy, was sometimes called Haborym. He went by numerous names. He even, with difficulty and for a short period of time, assumed the appearance of flesh. The illusion was hard to maintain, and not a true shape-shifting. It was worth it however, for dealing with other species.
His master, one who was great enough to keep contact with their Master across the twisted dimensions of time and space, simply sat there and waited, staring at him with a vermilion heat. Waiting until Haborym felt he had to add something more. “I destroyed them of course. As soon as the sprite was not there.”
“You have set in motion the recruitment of more?”
“King. We recruit constantly. You know that. The amazing thing is that the others have not found the signs of it. I destroyed those merely in case the accursed sprite used her powers later. She was suspicious that I could find a hundred and twenty armed men so close and at such speed.”
The demon lord spat, a plume of flaming incandescent matter. “A pity. Why did they fail?”
“Because we mis-guessed the human’s power. We’d given the hunters a simple talisman that would have glowed when they found her. But the idea was to round up all the women and take them away. Something alerted the village to the raiders, presumably her. And they were badly mazed by the place. Seeing things that frightened them. A dragon. I presume that she has some skill with illusions. I had to leave all of that to the sprite, and you know how they are about getting too close to conflict. Yet they love others to use it. To kill. I would have sent in a pack-peddlar or something. But she wanted blood spilt. Her worshipers went back there and found one of the villagers. They put him to the knife and lash until he talked, and confirmed that she’d not been seen after the raid. But the people of the village went to Tarport. One of them claimed that he’d seen her.”
“Fss.” His superior hissed in irritation. “It had to be Yenfar that this human turned up on. Well, subtlety was always been our strength. I assume you have now been able to over-ride the sprite as her plan failed?”
“Yes,” said Haborym glad to have something positive to report. “I have dispatched seven of my very best men from Cark. We are hampered by my not being able to go there.”
The demon lord sat and fulminated. But now Haborym had nothing to add, so he simply waited. Eventually, the demon lord spoke. “It would seem that the right answer may be to remove that which blocks us from the place, because I feel that your humans will fail. However, you will have to exert your charm on the sprite. Persuade her that it is her idea to go and remove the treasure from the place where the alvar have kept it. As long as it is not returned to the merrows. It is to be assumed that the magic that keeps us from the place is bound to that object, not the place. They were less trusting of us in those days, the alvar.”
The flames that were Haborym nodded, in the fashion of his kind. “I will do this, Lord. But she will not act herself. I know her.”
“Point her at a thief or two.” The demon lord laughed and so did Haborym. “And get a simulacrum fashioned. One that will at least stand cursory examination. That way we may be able to avoid trouble with the alvar until it is too late.”