Foot of the Long Road
The assassin had finally reached the beginning of the treacherous roadway to the Queen's castle. Weaving though the scattered camps of minions seemed like the hours in an eternity. And then he heard it...the gong! The gates were being closed early! Apparently Her Highness did not care that nearly forty thousand of her troops were going to be trapped outside the walls; and he was to be trapped inside them.
He had been shocked and disbelieving at the state of those that served the dark one.... Dressed only in bits of leather and bands of steel, which served as a sort of armor, he supposed. Some were large. Near a time and a half as tall as a man... muscles bulging in confusing ways.... Some sported scales but unlike those of a snake, smooth and supple, these appeared hard, and with sharp ridges.... others were furred... some few displayed skin, but not like humans.... It also seemed the Queen had no concern for modesty. Try as he might, the assassin discerned no females amongst them. They all had various forms of flesh rending teeth.... So many teeth....
Despite all that, he had made it thus far, and he thanked his patron god for that miracle. 'Twas time to begin climbing again.
Casting the Stones
The smithy had, for a very long time, been known to make charms and amulets to help the people of this realm. There was the simple golden bassinet pendant he had created for a woman who had miscarried twice before, and was now suckling her newborn infant. The blind old hag for whom he created a wondrous optic, framed in purest silver, that brought sight and civility to the old woman. Seems that gift was enough for her to leave her hag self behind, as she gladly played with the children of her village. Everywhere he had been known as a healer, one with great power. His only fee were the smiles on those he had served. Needless to say, he did not turn down any of their gifts, but only a fool would do that. In his travels , he was fed, at night a place to rest was his; and his reputation grew.
Unfortunately it was this same reputation that brought him the attentions of Her Majesty.
He knew the demands of the Queen; the despicable plot she had laid out to benefit herself once again; and yet, was unable to prevent it. He could not face his daughter's death. The Queens charm would be perfect this time... exactly as she requested. But... the realm it was focused on, did not have magic.
Upon completion the charm was delivered to the Queen. She examined it... thrice.... It was tested for its workmanship...it's essence.... And the Queen was satisfied.
The smith and his daughter were executed moments later.
The Summoning Chamber
For the ruse to work, Her Majesty knew that the summoning ritual, the proffering of the deal, the acceptance of terms, AND the activation of the charm, had to happen precisely on cue. She would have but moments to activate it before the beast took her and used her. Everything seemed in place. The candles, the sigils, the runes and incenses... the glyphs and wards and all manner of unidentifiable things were arrayed for this moment.
Around the circle stood 13 priests of the night hoods drawn over their features, hands hidden in the folds of their cloaks, as Her Majesty took the center of the circle, bereft of clothing. It was expected, as the daemon brooked no delays... His favor required immediate payment..in full.
Naked, amidst the flickering candles, the beautiful and hideous Queen stood and uttered a single command: “Let the Summoning Rite begin!”
The priests chanted in an ancient tongue, the Queen writhed, dancing in the center... and in a horrid rush of sulfur and brimstone, HE was there. To her knees dropped the Queen, beseeching for His favor. He only smiled... wickedly.
In a voice that sounded like rocks being crushed, low , and crackling with amusement, he spoke “ you know the price, fair one, but this time it will be doubled.” Another devil appeared, both ready and primed to make this imputant wretch suffer for disturbing them.
The dark lord whispered to his kinsman, “I wonder if she remembers what this is all about?”
The two approached, and just before they came within range the Queen activated the charm....
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