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Enlightenment - Chapter VIII

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Take two breaths and get up Melfina!


There was plenty of meat on Forrester's body. Obviously whatever began eating it wasn't finished yet.


The missing chunks of meat were cut cleanly from the body. It had sharp teeth.


The grunt came from behind the tree she was leaning against. It was time to leave.



Melfina gets up and pushes off against the tree to help her get started, but then remembers the books on the ground. She snatches them up, and let's curiosity take control and she looks over her shoulder.

As tall as her waist, it was covered in blue scales. Sinister eyes locked with hers. It stood on two stubby legs and had sharp claws on its two stubby arms ready to dig deep into her flesh. Its hunched back flowed straight to its head, with no neck whatsoever, making it look ready to pounce. Sharp, pointy teeth revealed themselves from its gaping mouth. It was hungry.

Melfina backs away and the creature matches her pace for pace. She's never seen something like this. She's never heard of something like this.

She turns and runs.

Whatever it was, it was quick. Every time she looked over her shoulder, there it was. Despite its short legs, it never lagged behind.

She runs faster. It does the same.

She takes a quick look behind her when an intense pain flares up in her shin, and she finds herself falling to the ground. The adrenaline racing through her veins keeps her alert, but can't seem to help her move.


Grass is all she sees while expending all her will into trying to move her arms, all the while anticipating the pain of the monster's claws in her back.

A grunt of dominance reaches her ears followed by a rhythmic screeching noise which twists her stomach in knots. Her mental struggle intensifies as she holds panic at bay.

Come on! she yells to herself as she feels her arm twitch.

The noise changes to a soft ripping, as more and more of her body comes back under her control. Whatever it was doing, it wasn't eating her yet. Ever so slowly, Melfina makes it to her feet. She doesn't bother with her books this time and just wants to run.

The ripping has stopped.

She turns around and sees it standing amongst the remains of a crystal elemental. The monster's claws and teeth drip with blood as it grins a fearsome grin at her.

Melfina steps backward, and again, it matches her pace for pace.

Its eyes widen and it breaks eye contact with her to scan the ground. Melfina sees what caught its attention. The red ribbon attached to Forrester's key is easy to pick out amongst the greens and browns of the forest floor.

In the blink of an eye, the creature snatches at the key and pops it into its mouth and swallows.

"Give that back!" she yells.

It spits out the key into its hand walks toward Melfina.

"Stop!" she yells. And it does.

She takes a step back, and it doesn't follow. She takes another. It just watches. She limps to the left, and it remains still.

It really stopped.

"What are you?"

The creature grunts.

"Why did you stop?"

It makes grunt that sounds like confusion.

"Do you understand me?"

Expecting another grunt, Melfina is shocked when it nods.

"Put that down," she says as she points to the key.

It does.

Ok, Melfina. It's not attacking you. Just pick up the key, calm yourself down, and recall back home. You'll never see it again.

She slowly steps up to the creature, picks up the key, and goes back to collect her books, with the creature always within sight. She picks up the book of necromancy, then freezes. Hurriedly, she flips through the spells until she finds the right one.

She walks back to the creature and it looks up at her with its yellow eyes.

He heart beats faster as she asks, "Are you a horde minion?"

It nods its head with a grunt of assent.

"So… you're my familiar?"

It nods again.

"You won't hurt me?"

The horde minion doesn't even grunt this time. It squints its eyes in confusion.

Melfina slowly walks up to the creature, "Stay… stay…" she repeats as she forces herself to walk closer and pats it on the head. She doesn’t feel the cool touch of scales and instead feels fur beneath her palm. She takes a closer look and sees tiny hairs poking up through the scales, extremely short and impossible to see unless you know its there, but hairs nonetheless.

"I guess you're kind of cute. But I can't take you home with me."

Stark would kill me. Or it.

She thumbs through the spellbook again, and performs the banishment spell. Nothing happens. She tries again, but it just stands there and stares.

I can't just leave it here. What if it gets attacked? What if it dies?

What if it somehow follows me home!

She shifts her weight and a sharp pain reminds her of her injury. She looks to see a clean slice across her shin bone, and casts heal. I'll have to get this repaired again, she thinks as she fingers the ruined dress.

She looks at the bloody carcass on the ground, and the sharp crystals that used to protrude from the elemental's back, then realizes what she tripped over. The elemental. That's what had paralyzed her. And the horde minion defended her.

Looking upon the remains reminds her of Forrester, and the key she needs to get back to his wife. As she stares at the scattered remains, one piece in particular sticks out. She steps up for a closer look. It wasn't part of the elemental. She moved the mental image in her head, and saw that was one of the missing pieces of Forrester's body.

She looks down the path she had come from, and sees the flattened grass the elemental had made, with signs of her footprints right down the center. She had run down the exact path the crystal elemental had used to make its escape when it ran away from the noise that she had made. It was still a juvenile and not big enough to digest a body whole, so it used the sharp crystals on its back to cut away pieces small enough to eat.

She looks back and the remains and tries to put it back together in her head. There was too much missing.

She speaks the command from the book, "Horde minion, purge contents."

It opens its mouth and pieces of crystal elemental fall out.

She performs the banishment spell again, and the sound of a tight cork popping off of an ink bottle accompanies the disappearance of her horde minion.

Just like it said.

A laugh escapes, taking her tension with it. The laugh builds uncontrolably until she's gasping for breath. She had frightened herself with her own spell and ran directly towards what she thought she was running from, only to trip over the elemental and essentially paralyzed herself.

After a few moments, the gasping becomes wheezing, then the wheezing slows to a stop. She takes a couple deep breaths, then recalls home.

* * *

Dear Diary,

It protected me. I think it protected me. Unless it just kills whatever's in sight that isn't me. I'll have to test that out. That means I'll have to summon the horde minion again. I've already done it once. Casting a necromancy spell a second time can't be much worse since I've already done it.

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