It was difficult for the Forsaken rogue to release from the arms of this human woman. Her sorrow matched his own. Her spirit was as strong as his. Her pain was something that only the two of them could understand. He felt empty the moment that she let go of him.
She was right. It was time to leave and if all went well, they would be leaving the same way that they came in. Kopfjagger motioned to another of the invisibility potions and bade her to drink it. Once her form was no longer visible the rogue headed out of the cells and towards the long, twisting tunnel that led to the surface world.
"Head Hunter," spoke the Apothecary. "It has been too long since last we spoke and now you pass by me as if I do not exist." The undead who served as Kopfjagger's master in the art of alchemy was seeking a conversation at precisely the wrong time. The tone was accusatory in a friendly manner, but it demanded a reply.
"The Alliance and the other enemies of the Forsaken keep me very busy, master," he said in the humblest voice he could muster. He even managed a short bow. "And I am afraid that I must hurry off again. I shall visit soon and often."
The Apothecary looked the Forsaken over and tilted his head. "I heard great wailing coming from the captives," he said with a grin forming. "What have you been up to Apprentice?"
The moment that sentence was finished the Apothecarys eyes widened in shock. Lucia was no longer invisible and her presence, crouched behind Kopfjagger as if he were a shield, told the tale of their lie in an instant.
Blades out, crouched and ready to kill, Kopfjagger gave his master a last chance to keep his spirit. "These matters with the human are concluded. We will be leaving now." He knew that his eyes were glowing fire suddenly. His ally since rebirth was shocked and anger would soon follow. What he did with this anger would decide the fate of everyone in this room. Kopfjagger knew that the next fifteen seconds could well determine how he spends the rest of his immortality. Such are the wages of compassion.
When the undead gaped at her, Lucia knew she was suddenly visible. She crouched behind Kopfjagger. He spoke to the forsaken and then made ready for a fight.
Lucia noticing the new attire of the one her rogue spoke to, she whispered in his ear. Tell me truth, she fumbled with the gutterspeak. He do to my husband, that? She waited for the rogue to answer her but already her veins were coursing with magic and fire.
Over his shoulder and under his breath, Kopfjagger uttered the truth. "Indeed. He, or his people." It went without saying that only a few days before, Kopfjagger fit in with the latter quite well.
Without moving his eyes from the Apothecary, Kopfjagger sensed the other people in the room put their attention on the odd pair standing near dead center of the room. They were surrounded, incredibly outnumbered and the odd pair could not speak more than basic phrases to each other.
He was not sure he had been in worse straits. A grin crossed his lips as he looked into the slowly angering eyes of the Apothecary. He snickered to himself as his blades waved in lazy circles in front of him. This was a horrible day to die.
Lucia stared at the apothecary in front of Kopfjagger. This was the one that had reduced her husband to what he had been. A twisted mind stuck in a flawless structure. He was the one that had kept him from her, from her children. A slow rage began building in her abdomen. The temperature around her began to heat. She stood up straight and tall. The heat building around her began to lift her hair in its own maleficent breeze. She spoke slowly in the tongue of the undead so that her enemy would understand her. You will die!
In her mind she pictured what her man had become. Her hands were suddenly gloved in raw fire, her rage materialized. A roaring ball of flame flew over Kopfjaggers shoulder and slammed into the apothecary. The walking corpse flew backwards. Unaware of any other presence in the room, Lucia was hell-bent on the undeads destruction.
Kopfjagger thought that he knew what to expect once he told Lucia that this was the being that was ultimately responsible for the utter loss of her man. He had thought she would try to gouge his eyes out or kick him in the face or scream or yell or something. But when she cursed the Apothecary in Gutterspeak and threw the first ball of fire at him, he knew that he was sorely mistaken.
She evoked another blast of fire. And another. Another. Her skin was painfully hot to the touch and her robes were smoldering. The forsaken was burning, writhing, screaming, but Lucia could not stop. Another ball of fire flew at the already engulfed apothecary. Then another. Bookcases began to burn, tapestries were being consumed, a vial of something exploded on a table. Fire was everywhere.
When the fire erupted over his shoulders, Kopfjagger spun on his heals at the approach of those that surrounded them. Assistants, Royal Apothecary members, students, guards, and the Dark Lady knew who else was coming. But some were coming. Fire continued to spew from the woman, but it was all targeted at his former master. The rest were his to deal with.
From across the room, a dagger was thrown and it slammed into Lucias the meat above her shoulder blade. Another hit her arm below the elbow. The pain from the knives brought her out of her rampaged state and with dawning horror she realized how outnumbered they were, Kopfjagger and her. She attempted to make her way back to him, but she had expanded so much energy throwing around fire she was exhausted. Her shoulder and left arm numb and her brain becoming foggy Lucia slumped to the ground. Poison was deep in her blood and her mind was beginning to shut down.
The last thing she recalled before the blackness was Kopfjagger, blades out, surrounded by a multitude of forsaken in a chamber of flames. He stood over her twirling the blades in a dervish dance. Pain and agony were spread around to all those interested by blades of fire and bolts of vengeance.
His adrenaline kicked in and false but furious strength ran through his otherwise dust dry veins. A flurry of blades erupted from his arms as he twisted and struck everything that was close to him. Everything save Lucia. Always to save Lucia.
Flesh and bone, sinew and hair flew in all directions. Fire began to eat at everything. The smell of burning, rotted flesh was overwhelming and smoke was billowing throughout the room, trying to make it to the ceiling, then rolling back down onto the damp floor. Blades swung and struck, blocked and parried, repost and strike again.
Lucia had fallen.
In that moment, seeing her lying on the ground, dagger in her back, the Head Hunter knew that the only way out was to kill everything in the room that wanted him to stay. And then kill everything on the way out of the sewers. And then kill everything on the way to the Zeppelin. And then, maybe then, the killing could stop for a while. But until then he had work to do. Too much killing, he concluded. Too much.
Standing over her body he screamed into the room. "HOLD!"
The fire was licking everything that might burn. The Apothecary had fallen and his spirit released, for now. Guards, assistants and others were also dormant shells on the ground. Some were alive, but writhing and no longer a threat. Looking around, Kopfjagger realized that the only two things alive in nearly fifteen paces were himself and Lucia, crumpled on the floor.
The only sound breaking the silence was the licking flames. He bent to remove the dagger from her shoulder and he could see the poison on the back of her dirty robes. One quick sniff and he knew that it was mind numbing, but temporary.
"I am going to take this woman out of here," he said through gritted teeth. His eyes were white hot and his blades dripping the proof of their efficiency. "You may either stand back, or visit the spirit witch one .... more .... time."
No one moved.
Bending to pick Lucia up meant lowering his defenses, but he had no choice. In one movement, he grabbed the back of her robes, pulled her up and squatted to catch her on his shoulder. Standing straight, he began to walk back up the stairs. Back up through the twisting tunnel. One hand held her on his shoulder, the other carried a twin.
The brewers guild hall was quickly becoming an inferno. Let it burn, he thought. Let it burn until there is nothing left.
Once he had made it into the tunnel and into relative safety, he knew that he had to revive her. They were close to escape but they had the long, winding tunnel ahead of them. He could not guard and carry her at the same time. In the time it would take to set her down, they would already be dead.
Gently, he laid her against the cold wall of the dark cave. He propped her head against the cave wall, ensuring that she was stable. Then, as quickly as he could, he manufactured an antidote from his herbs and vials. The irony was not lost on him. His teacher lay burned to a cinder but the knowledge provided is now being used to save the one that had taken his life. With a sigh, he poured it down her throat. It was crude, but it should counteract the mind numbing poison that held her now.
Cradling her still warm head in his gloved hands, he looked into her glassy eyes as he waited. Silently, he pleaded that the warning gong would not be sounded. If that gong was sounded, all the guards would quickly become triple their number and all the exits would be thick with armor and blades.
"Please wake Lucia. Please hear me dear Lucia, you must awaken. Please my darling warrior- mage. It is time to come out of your slumber. Please my sweet, you must awaken."
((This part of the story was written in partnership by Kopfjagger and Lucia. I have the honor of retelling it but at least half, if not more, of the creative power comes directly from Lucia even though her name does not appear to the left of the post. *bows deeply to Lucia* Thank you, Lucia, for letting me retell our story, I hope to do it justice.))