demon – bystander – escaped – parakeet – destiny
hammer – singing – ash – cathedral – heels
“Raulisk!” I bellow at the destroyer.
Hearing his name, the twenty foot-tall demon suspends his rampage and turns to me. I falter in fear, a breath stuck in my throat, before grasping the parakeet pendant that hangs down to my chest on a necklace. I square my stance at the base of the steps and grip my enchanted hammer tighter. Between where the monster stands across the wide courtyard and the cathedral he escaped from at my back —where there was moments ago the people of the city collected at the Saturday market— there is now only ash. The hell-beast’s burning flail skitters across the cobblestone. “PALADIN,” he beckons back, a gum-showing grin peeled across his face.
“You’ll trample no further,” I yell. He unfurls the leathery wings that dominate his backside. “Challenge me,” he says — a question, a demand. I rapidly recite the incantation and the gift of my deity springs forth: argent wings, powerful and feather-clad, connect to me through my armour. It is my destiny to slay devils and their spawn. “Once more the herald of my god…” I say under my breath. Raulisk roars, bows his head, and charges airborne at me, his long black horns menacing. I take flight and clash with him halfway. The conflict is an aerial barrage; it is a mess of horns, shield, claws, hammer, flail, armour, but it lasts only a minute. I buffet the demon to the ground with my wings. He crashes harshly into the stone. A brick is dislodged and thrown over the head of a foolish bystander who hides at the edge of the courtyard. I dive and land into my foe with a streaking swing of my war-hammer; he pulverizes into darkness.
With haste I return to Jordan. But when I find him, the priest I was meant to protect lies dead, dragged by his heels from the podium he was singing at only few breaths ago, to the altar where his blood now pools.