Chapter 6: She Who Snares from the Shadows

A nimble figure dressed in black flung a small blade into the darkness behind them. A short moment later, something large and bestial howled in pain, then in anger. 

The figure, a woman with close-cut black hair and clutching an ancient smithing hammer, rushed around a corner into a nearly lightless hallway lined with a dozen jail cells. She sprinted past cold iron bars, twice leaping through the air with feline grace and landing with somersaults that did little to slow her pace. 

The baying of fiendish monsters drew closer and closer.

The woman burst past the open door of the triple-sized cell that capped the end of the hallway. She slid to a halt at the far wall next to a small, solitary table with a burning candle resting atop it. She shoved the ancient Horadrim hammer into a dark recess in the floor and plugged the hole with a hunk of chiseled stone. Grasping her knuckle-weapons—steel claws as deadly as a tiger’s—she turned and faced the hallway. 

Closing her eyes, the woman began meditating, calming her heart and her emotions.

Tall, lumbering bipeds crashed around the corner and charged into the narrow corridor. Near where the woman performed her first leap, the goatish fiend at the head of the herd faltered, tripping over an unseen wire. Twirling tori of lightning lept from pronged metal contraptions set up in nearby cells. Jagged lightning ripped across a third of the demons, their bodies momentarily spasming before collapsing to the stone floor. The herd pressed on, their baying louder, angrier.

The woman remained motionless, her breathing slow and controlled.

Another tripwire was trod upon. Gouts of fire spewed from half a dozen tar-lined bamboo shoots leaned against the lower rungs of multiple cells. Fur and flesh burned. Weapons and bodies clattered to the floor. The remaining handful of fiends clambered over their charred brethren and tramped into the cage the woman waited in. They fanned out across the cell, forming an arc. Hate raged in their eyes.

Her own eyes still closed, the Viz-Jaq’taar whispered, “Try and cage me demons.”

With the sudden swiftness of a striking cobra, she swept her hand through the candle’s whipping flame. A shroud of darkness enveloped the cell, wrapping itself around the woman like a familiar, comfortable cloak.

“It will never work.”

The demons bleated in anger and stamped their hooves in indecision. All except one. This fiend dropped to its knees, clutching the gushing slash marks carved into its throat. The shadow behind it was already stalking towards her next target.

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