Shanna was old, malevolent and sure in her own immortality. Centuries passed her quietly by as she schemed, moving towards her ultimate goal of godhood. From the humble an crowded beginnings of her birthing pool, she killed, maimed and eaten her way to the top. These Taartuns were but another example of an inferior and gullible race to be used up an thrown away. It irked that this insufferable dwarf stood in her way to greatness, with all the hallmarks of fulfilling a prophecy that she herself had invented. It never once entered her mind that she had also been used by one greater than herself and it was with this self-serving arrogance that she faced Cornelius.
He was enjoying himself. The release from pretence and the imminent possibility of really damaging the Old Hag buoyed him. Not since his little jaunt in the Forked Tongue on Luther, so long ago, had he truly enjoyed himself so much and the prospect for mayhem in front of him bode well for a delightful afternoon. Cornelius forgot about his mission, the raging demon ripping itself clear of the Tower and the imminent destruction of this world. Shanna was his and he would take payment for all his hurt and frustration from her scaly green hide. He actually laughed as he let go of the left handle and whipped the wire forward, aiming for the hand holding the staff. At the last minute he stopped, causing the wire to shudder and loop sideways, scoring a burning red line across Shanna’s flesh where it touched in passing. His power anchored him in place as he flicked the weapon backwards, grinning at Shanna’s screams and curses.
Shanna tried to raise her staff and concentrate on her enemy, but it burned. Each little touch of the wire sent pain shooting throughout her body and she took her first step back. Cornelius followed, dancing in mid-air, the wire twirling round his body glaring white-hot as power shimmered of it in waves. Shanna stepped further away, her gaze fixed wholly on the maddening figure, her breath hissing in and out. Behind her rock cracked and tore, but she ignored it.
Something blurred past her vision and for a moment she thought Cornelius had again struck, but his answering grunt robbed her of that misconception. Glancing up, Shanna saw a large rock cleaved in half by the spinning wire and now looked behind her. A huge hand ripped at the earth, flinging rock pieces haphazardly into the air. A chance missile had distracted Cornelius. She took her opportunity and ran.
“Where do you think you are going?” drawled a lazy voice, in her mind. She recognized Viker’s tones but could not see him. Her flight from that battle had brought her here first, she could not let him receive her reward. Spinning she looked for her enemies, but only saw a hysterical Cornelius waltzing in her direction. Shanna ducked beneath a large clawed hand and grunted in resignation. The battle would have to be fought here. She struck her staff into the rent earth and harsh syllables poured from her misshapen mouth.
It was hungry…and there was so much food nearby. The earth itself revolted against the creature grasping at its enormous ankles, clawing at its mighty wings and ignoring its imperious demands. Fold Space called yet it was bound to this earthly plane, limited by an almost tantalising near-existence. Puny power raged around it but it needed meat.
Stopping for a moment it raised a huge face upwards and gulped in a gigantic breath. The taste of an approaching enemy stung it, the subtle flavours of Fold Space told the creature that soon it would face another of its kind and it must feed. A hint of old memory surfaced and it ceased struggling, plunging its freed hand deep into the earth. Old flesh was not the same yet it would do. It crammed the remains of Shan’s minions into its maw, ignoring the flesh-rotting disease that infected them and flexed its wings…