[Seigfeld and Farthr are exhausted from the ongoing battle in the underground tunnels. As they believe that the hoard of demons are nearly through, a monstrous beast steps out of the shadows. The Bukavac, a bluish-grey demon, knows no mercy.]
The Bukavac had thrown down its crescent-shaped axe, knowing it had no use in the cramped space. It roared and pounded its massive arms on the ground, hunched over like an over-sized monkey. Farthr slammed his body into the demon, sliding the demon back only a few inches. The Svet stabbed wildly with the dagger in a futile attempt to cause some damage. It was obvious that the small blade was not the centaur’s weapon of choice.
In response, the Bukavac peddled its foot against the hardened surface, and rammed its head forward into Farthr. The bludgeoning blow knocked the centaur back significantly further. It was obvious who had the greater strength.
Seigfeld could do little else but stare in amazement the centaur stumbled backwards. The centaur was a head taller than the human and weighed over six times his weight. That blow alone would have imprinted the Highborn’s body into the rocky wall, killing him instantaneously.
The Bukavac roared again. The echoing sound was deafening.
“Farthr,” Seifeld muttered, his voice trembled as he held onto the wall. His stomach was uneasy. He felt unbalanced.
The Svet stamped his hooves, steadying himself, “What, Highborn?”
Seigfeld gestured to the Bukavac that transformed before their eyes. The demon dropped to the ground on all fours, its hands flattening to the ground. The spine jutted upwards and curved as two additional legs sprung from its midsection. Bluish blood oozed as the new legs formed. The blotched skin iced over like an impenetrable armor. Gnarled horns erupted from above its brow, curved and sharpened. The Bukavac was stronger and faster. The demon prepared to charge.
“I don’t think we are going to cut him down.”
Farthr grunted, “Not gonna outrun him either.”
In unison, the human and centaur turned their head to assess their ability to flee.
“Ghaaaarr…” the Svet cried.
Standing directly behind them was a creature that neither had ever seen before. It stood as tall as Seigfeld, covered in red and gray feathers with the torso of a man and the lower body of a bird. The thin legs and taloned feet gave the impression that the creature was frail, but it was possible that the feathers hid the upper strength of this “birdman”. Its nose was flat, and its chin was jutted forward giving it a beak-like appearance. Bright red plumes stood erect from the base of its head as it pushed pass the gawking face of Seigfeld and Farthr.
“Neither of you should be here,” the creature crooned in singsong voice, stepping forward to face the Bukavac. “The Ash Tree is mine to protect.”
The Bukavac charged.
A strange fog filled the cavern as the creature spoke and waved its arms. Stone and sky magics weaved in the haze to tear rocks the size of boulders from the walls. The massive chunks of earth were thrown at the beast. The ice armor splintered and shattered with every step. The Bukavac grunted and staggered, but continued to press forward at full force. Seigfeld and Farthr could do nothing but stand like a man seeing a naked woman for the first time.
In moments, the Bukavac had closed the gap, its horns at the ready to run through the feathered man. In the last moment, a stone wall burst through the ground, separating the demon from the three. The monster crashed into the wall and fell flat. Unconscious.
As if shaken from sleep, the centaur rushed forward with his dagger and plunged it into the Bukavac’s skull.
Seigfeld was the first to find words, “Wha – Who are you?”
“My people are the Arkono. You could never pronounce my name in your own language,” the creature cooed, “but you can call me Razorleaf.”