Dulce et Decorum est

by Rhicy

Alternate Universe

Disclaimer: The following is a work of fan fiction and is not intended to infringe upon the copyrights of MGM, The Mirsch Group, Trilogy, CBS or any others with claims. I do not expect to profit from this story.

Authors Note: This is a 'filler' piece. You will need to have read my story Eternal in order for some of this to make sense. Several people asked me to write about the various lives the Seven had lived and here is the first installment. This fic deals with one of tougher lives the boys experienced - in fact one of the worst - so there is a warning attached.

This fic involves demons and such, so sensitive readers be warned - you may find this disturbing. I've read a lot of Raymond E. Feist and David Gemmel, and they have partly inspired the 'demons' and such scenes in this fic.

Additionally this is deathfic out of necessity and plot device - there is a Void scene at the end of the completed story. Warnings aside, I would like to thank all the wonderful people who took the time to email me about "Eternal". I really appreciated the kind words and encouragement. Thanks <g>.

This fic is set in a fantasy world, thus the lack of 'modern' swear words. I've taken the title from a Wilfred Owen poem, of the same name.

Huge thanks go to the writers who inspired scenes in this fic and its companion "Pro Patria Mori", especially SasseyJ and Stacie. Thanks also to Brigitta for her support and encouragement.
Oodles of thanks to my beta, SilverWolf for her skill and patience. [thanks pard]
I would love feedback, so please don't hesitate to email me. : )

Mangus studied his captive with fierce intensity, paying close attention to both the seeping cut on its face and the fearless blue eyes that met his own. Mangus fed partly on fear and this mortal before him, exuded none, merely meeting his gaze with deadpan eyes, the colour of the hated sky. With his enhanced vision, Mangus could see the incandescent aura which surrounded the mortal. He longed to feed on the aura, pull it into his empty body and feel it writhe and squirm as he tainted it and made its power his own.

Mangus slowly extended a claw from his three-fingered hand and pushed it with agonising slowness into the mortal's shoulder, just above its heart. Pain flickered in his captive's eyes, and it could not prevent a small gasp as dark power tried to enter its heart and through its heart, its soul. The demon could feel the pulsing beat of the heart beneath his claw, thrumming with power. Eager to feast on the soul, Magnus tried to draw the soul into his flesh. The soul remained elusive, shifting away from his questing claw and in anger Mangus pushed a second claw into the shoulder to try and pin his desired meal.

The mortal tried to move away from the pain, but was prevented by a dank wall at its back, the demon's weight on its legs, and a scaly hand enclosed tightly around its throat. "Oh no, pretty thing," Mangus hissed, "You're mine to play with." He tightened his stranglehold on the quivering throat, cutting off any breath the mortal might take. A thrill ran down his spine to feel his captive's struggle to breathe, its pulse racing, throat muscles contracting desperately to draw in vital air. Just before it lost consciousness Mangus loosened his hold and tried to feed on the soul, striking quickly with his magic.

A bright recoil, as the soul defended itself, caused Mangus to shriek and roughly withdraw his smoking claws from the heaving shoulder. Mangus turned baleful eyes on his captive, fully expecting to see terror on its face. Only pain etched its features, and in frustration Mangus snarled opening his wide mouth to reveal hundreds of razor teeth. His forked tongue snaked out, cutting itself on the teeth, filling the demon's mouth with blood. Mangus savoured the taste of his own blood and contemplated tearing this mortal limb from limb and feasting on its flesh.

However, the Demon Lords had been very interested in this mortal and its companions, which was why Mangus had stolen this one. He wanted to know why it was so interesting. The soul this mortal possessed was the strongest one Mangus had ever encountered, resisting all efforts to feed on it. What did this mean?

Mangus shifted his hind legs and heard a sharp moan from his captive. Relishing any and all pain, Mangus studied the deep wound in its leg and had a sudden idea. He moved slightly, exposing the wound fully. It was a wide, deep slash on the thigh and had started bleeding. Gleefully Mangus extended all three claws on his right hand and 'tended' to the wound. The mortal would have screamed but Mangus's tight hold on its throat prevented anything more than a sharp explosion of breath from escaping. The captive tried to writhe away from the excruciating pain, but remained pinned beneath the demon's weight.

"Tell me your name and I might stop."

Brilliant blue eyes met his tiny red ones, defiance shining brightly despite the pain which lent hard angles to its face. Mangus smiled, a terrible sight as tiny pinpricks of light caught his teeth, turning his mouth into a shiny cavern of death. "Have it your way."

He dug his claws in deeper and this time did not stop the scream from escaping.

+ + + + + + +

The six men imprisoned in a damp cavern not too far away, all started as the scream echoed through the tunnels and caves of the demon underworld. Five heads turned to study the sixth and shuddered at the pain etched on his face. It answered the question, they all feared to ask, "Was that Vin?"

Chris closed his eyes as he felt a wave of pain wash over him. 'Light, what was the demon-spawn doing to him?' He didn't need to look at his companions to know how they felt. Battered, wounded and bleeding, the six soldiers were in no condition to be escaping or fighting, let alone attempting a rescue. No matter how much he wanted to simply tear down the door to his prison, rush to Vin's aide and flaming well skewer the light-damned demon, he could not and it rankled him something fierce to feel this helpless.

The events leading up their capture were crystal clear in his mind, as he replayed them over and over again. 'How in this thrice-cursed world, had they been so easily deceived?' Sent by orders they trusted, the Seven had gone on a scouting mission, to determine if the rumours of a nearby demon-hole were true.

Their betrayal was like bitter ash in Chris's mouth, filling him with an anger so violent he could barely contain it. Lead into a blighted trap, like greenhorns on gelding day, the Seven had found themselves out-numbered and surrounded by a horde of demons. Determined to fight to the last, they had drawn their swords and charged into the fray. Small agile demons had climbed up the horses' legs and clung to sword arms and weapons, allowing larger demons to pull the seven from their horses. Chris had fully expected to then see his friends torn apart by the fiends which held them, only to find his arms being bound by thick rope. Ezra and Vin, agile and quick enough to take advantage of the close quarters had each killed a demon apiece, before a vicious blow had laid Ezra out cold. The last thing Chris saw before he too was knocked unconscious, was Vin plunging his last dagger into the eye of another demon.

When the Seven awoke they found themselves imprisoned deep within the demon caverns of Kelltor. Each and every one the Seven, knew what awaited them in the fiery depths. Tales of the pits had been whispered around camp-fires for years, but no one doubted them.

The battle between humans and demons had been waged for hundreds of years, with the last five years being the fiercest and deadliest on both sides. The humans seemed to have finally gained an upper hand, with the discovery of ancient 'demon-blades' now turning the tide of battle. Blades that cut through tough demon hide like butter and prevented dark magic from overpowering a soldier, had led to the route of many demon strongholds. The Seven had been in the fore-front of the battle-lines, proving to be a formidable force. And now they were awaiting the feasting pits of the demon armies, destined to follow where too many had gone before.

Chris noted JD's ashen face and was not surprised to see Buck near the young man. JD had seen his mother give her life to save his, when a demon had attacked his village. JD never spoke of that night, but all soldiers knew how demons ate, and the mere thought of having to see your mother die like that, sent a cold shiver down the spine. Buck was whispering something to JD who was shaking his head adamantly, clutching his broken arm tightly to his chest.

Buck. Buck had his own horrific memories. Every human alive had experienced horrors at the hands of demons. Chris refused to even vaguely recall his own. Buck bore the scars of a close encounter with a demon, his handsome face bearing a white scar from ear to chin. He said the ladies found it exciting, and Buck certainly never went without female company. Chris knew exactly what Buck was telling JD and wondered if either of them would go through with it.

A soft sigh drew Chris's attention to Ezra and Nathan. The roles had been reversed this time, with Ezra tending Nathan with gentle care. Nathan had taken a claw in the belly and was still bleeding. It really didn't look good and secretly Chris hoped Nathan would slip away quickly, thus sparing him the agony of the pits. Ezra's usually clam face, was openly fearful, his hands trembling as he put pressure on Nathan's wound. Ezra had good reason to fear the pits, having come far too close to ending up in one, not too long ago. His back and legs bore testament to how close the flames had come, before an 'impeccably timed' rescue by Vin had pulled Ezra to safety. Chris knew that part of Ezra's trembling was fear for Vin, wondering what 'dire situations' he found himself in. Chris's own heart skipped a beat or two at that thought and quickly turned to study Josiah.

Strong as any human could be, Josiah was still no match for a demon in hand-to-hand combat. That hadn't stopped him from letting into a 7 foot demon and successfully killing it and avenging his sister's death. Josiah still limped from where sharp talons had pierced his right leg, shredding ligaments and muscle, but not before he had plunged his dagger into the black chest that had moments before been covered with his sister's blood. Josiah sat on the floor, unable to meditate as he usually did when waiting, his own wounds and worries destroying any calm he may have gathered. Spitefully Chris was glad that Josiah could not find his infernal peace this time, glad something had at last shattered his ability to cut himself off from the situation.

Chris found his thoughts turned once again to Vin and this time did not fight it, suddenly desperate to hold onto him, in anyway possible. He could not explain the peculiar bond between them, it simply was. Amongst husband and wife such a connection was often found, each knowing where the other walked and worked. Wedding vows meant a great deal more than words, the priest united the souls of the couple, enabling each to 'feel' the other, understand them, embrace their emotions. Widows and widowers were few and far between, with the death of one partner, inevitably leading to the other's death. Once joined in matrimony, the pair seemed unable to live without their love.

When Sarah had died, Chris had nearly followed her, but Buck and Chris's own thirst for vengeance had driven his shattered soul to survive her loss. For one long, terrible year Chris had dwelt in a violent half-life, living only to kill and dying to end his own life. And then came Vin.

The instant Vin had walked into Chris's life, everything changed. When their eyes had met on that bloody battlefield, it had been as if a bell had rung in Chris's head, and the gaping wound that was his soul had healed. Standing side by side, on the carnage strewn field, their chests heaving from the exertion of battle, their hands had clasped together mirroring the completion of two damaged souls. Without questioning or needing to do so, they had turned together and strode from the battlefield, brothers.

If any of the Seven had found the unique bond disconcerting, none had said, instead relying on it heavily during the heat of battle, when Vin knew where Chris was and vice versa, ensuring the safety of all the Seven. And if Chris's vengeance-bent life was tempered and controlled by Vin, then Vin's lonely, scarred existence was shown the joys and perils of brotherhood through Chris. They felt each other's pain, knew where the other was at any instant of any day and with one look, could carry on an entire conversation.

When the black demon had appeared in their cell and latched onto the nearest human, which happened to be Vin, they had both vanished a split second later. Fear as Chris had not felt in years had leapt into his heart when for a brief instant he could not 'feel' Vin. The tiny demons which whispered beyond the door had hissed at the sudden spike of fear, eager to feed on it. The moment passed just as quickly and Chris felt Vin again. But that terrible moment told Chris in no uncertain terms what it would be like to loose Vin. It was something Chris refused to contemplate. Instead he focused on the various aches and wounds he could feel, and rubbed at the dull ache in his upper thigh and knew Vin was in trouble.

+ + + + + + +

Vin watched as Mangus licked the blood off his claws, seeming to savour the taste. The demon had removed itself off his legs and was sitting just below Vin's outstretched feet, carefully studying him. The roaring pain in Vin's thigh had subsided a little but was sending tendrils of fire up and down his leg, making it very difficult to concentrate on the demon.

Mangus sucked at a claw absently, sharpening it against his teeth, considering his next move. He could devour this mortal and gain a little strength that way, but there was .. something about its soul that intrigued him. It seemed larger, stronger than an ordinary soul - as if it were - old? Mangus had very little experience with human souls, having only recently developed the magic to feed on them. Stronger Demon Lords feasted regularly on the souls which tried to flee the horror of the feasting pits, while lesser demons sustained themselves on the flesh left behind.

Mangus knew he was not strong enough to keep a soul bound once the flesh died, he would have to find another way. He had once overhead a Demon Lord rasp to a companion that in order to feed on a soul while the flesh lived, the demon had to know the mortal's name. Names were powerful things, enabling magic users to gain influence and control over the name-bearer. Mangus clicked one claw mindlessly on his scaly hide and hissed in exasperation. The foolish mortal would die rather than tell him its name. 'Could he possibly trick it?'

Vin saw a devious glint enter the demon's eyes and braced himself for the next round.

"I'll find out. It's just a matter of time." Mangus settled back on his haunches and set about sharpening the next claw.

"I know you won't tell. Maybe torture it out?"

Vin glared at the demon in disbelief, tight wrinkles forming at his mouth in defiance. Never one to allow a challenge to go unanswered, Mangus struck as fast as lightning, catching Vin low in the stomach. Sadistically he enjoyed the shudder that ripped through Vin.

"None of that," he hissed and was partly delighted and angered to see none of the defiance disappear.

"Perhaps some bargain?"

Caught off guard by the question, Vin took a moment to consider his answer.

"Bargain?" he rasped, throat muscles too damaged to produce anything less that an hoarse whisper.

"Yes. I have much power. Offer many things."

"Ain't got anything I want."

"No?" Mangus queried, amusement colouring his voice. "Nothing?"

Vin shook his head, and immediately regretted the move, as Mangus struck again, this time with his claws fully extended. Agony clouded Vin's vision and for a time all he could hear was his own heart's frantic beating. In a distant cavern, Chris clutched his own stomach in sympathy.

"Still so sure?" Mangus hissed, perverse concern echoing in the tunnel.

"Yeah, " came the quiet whisper between breathless gasps.

"I could leave you like this. Slow, painful death. Or perhaps I could .. ?"

Vin refused to rise to the question and merely stared at his tormentor. Mangus raised his hand and laid it flat on Vin's stomach. "Watch."

Vin began to feel an uncomfortable warmth spread beneath the demon's hand, a warmth which quickly developed into a burning pain. Mangus leant on his palm, pressuring the flesh into a fierce fire of agony. Vin could feel his skin melting and joining in bursts of fire and when Mangus lifted his hand off the trim stomach, no wounds were evident. Smooth, healed flesh lay steaming slightly in the dank atmosphere of the tunnel.

"Much power."

Implicit in those two words were hours of pain, as Vin realised the demon was threatening to hurt him, then heal him and begin the process again, until Vin gave in.

"Up... yours."

+ + + + + + +

Chris fell to his knees, clutching his stomach as an echoing scream filled the tunnels again. 'Flaming HELL!' Chris's free hand was white fisted in the filth of the cavern floor, as wave upon wave of pain crashed over him. He felt a gentle hand on his tense back, trying to give a semblance of comfort. Chris was about to voice his thanks, when another scream was heard, and white hot agony flared in his chest making it difficult to breath. Gasping for air, he realised hands where helping him up off the floor.

"Chris! You alright?"

'Buck?' The pain gradually subsided into a resident ache and Chris was able to draw in deep breathes, slowing his racing heart.

"Hell no, and neither is Vin," Chris growled, struggling to his feet. He found himself surrounded by his friends who could stand, and noted their anxious stances. "I'm fine now. Just leave me the hell alone!"

"Chris, don't push us away. We need to stay strong if we're going to ."

"Shut the hell up, Josiah!"

Buck tried to calm Chris down, "Easy pard, we know you're hurting."

"The hell you do! Leave me the hell alone and Josiah," Chris pointed a stiff finger at his friend's chest, "Keep your cursed comforts to your self. We are going to need a flaming lot more than words to get through this light-damned mess. So shut it!"

He pushed past his concerned friends and limped to the darkest corner he could find. Anger and helplessness raged for domination in his heart, despair threatening to overwhelm him. 'How by the three moons am I going to get them out of here?' No answers were forthcoming, for beyond their cell door, waited hundreds of demons ready to devour them given the chance. No escape was possible and no rescue would be attempted either. The Seven were on their own and had maybe a few more hours before being lead to the feasting pits.

Chris sank into his corner, and closed himself off, unwilling to feel his mounting fears. Ice-cold eyes closed and a weary blond head sank to bowed knees as Chris tried to keep his other half close to him. He couldn't think beyond finding and helping Vin, despite knowing there was no chance of doing so.

Buck turned away from the solitary figure who he was unable to help and spoke to the one he still might be able to.

"JD if we're going to do this, we have to do it soon."

"NO BUCK! I am not going to do it."

"JD!" Buck snapped, "It's best this way."

"Hell no! How many times do you want me to say it? Flaming hell Buck, why don't you offer it to Nathan or something?"

"'Cos Nate will probably manage it on his own, Kid."

JD gulped and cast a nervous glance in Nathan's direction. "Then use it yourself, Buck," JD whispered.

Buck sighed and sank to his knees, an invitation to JD to do the same, giving the pair a modicum of privacy. With knees and elbows touching, Buck reached up and grasped the back of JD's neck.

"Light son, I just don't have it in me."

JD's face crinkled in a shadow of his usual smile, "And you expect me to."

Buck chuckled softly, not wishing his levity to sound too false, and whispered, "I wish I could get someone to take it."

"No one will Buck. We've faced so much together and ... well it would be - it would be wrong not to end it together."

"But we aren't together JD."

JD closed his eyes at the reminder, fighting back the sudden feelings of despair and gasped, "But we've got to hope right?"

Buck nodded, his own voice tight, "Yeah. Yeah we do."

Nodding with Buck, JD leant a little more into Buck's shoulder and whispered, "What ya going to do with it?"

Feeling a sudden reckless devil-may-care urge, Buck hissed mock-seriously, "Well since none you lot want it, I'll feed it to some blighted dumb-ass demon and take at least one of 'em with us."

"You really think a demon is going to be stupid enough to eat a death pod?"

"Nope. I plan to shove it down the throat of the biggest one I can find," Buck grinned. JD managed a chuckle at the poor attempt at humour and knew Buck was trying to take both their minds off the coming hours.

"Yeah, sure Buck."

"At least you finally lost that stoopid hat of yours. I swear I used to have nightmares about that ugly thing attacking me while I slept."

Gulping back sudden tears, JD pulled his rumpled hat out of his pocket and fingered it whilst fighting his tears. "Vin gave it to me just before he ."

Buck pulled JD even closer and said in a voice tight with emotion, "I'm gonna kill that blue-eyed sod, he knows how much I hate that hat."

JD nodded against Buck's shoulder, the hat tucked securely beneath his broken arm. "He knows."

+ + + + + + +

Ezra picked at his shirt, trying to remove some of the dirt that seemed to cover every inch of him. 'Why bother, Ezra. The demon that decides to eat you will certainly not appreciate the fact that this human was the cleanest one it ever ate.'

Ezra sighed and rested one blood covered hand on his forehead, while he glared at his other gory hand. 'Mother said these hands were meant to grace silken cuffs and bejewelled rings, I don't think she had blood and gore in mind. Present circumstances in mind though, I can think of nothing better I would have my hands covered with. Ye gods, I'm beginning to sound like JD! With which to cover my hands, with which Ezra, with which!'

Another sigh followed the sight of his ruined boots, peaking bleakly through the mud that adorned their fastidious stitch-work. 'I can't even meet death in a clean pair of boots. I wonder if Master Berter could salvage these exquisitely crafted dragon-leather, bat wing tooled junit boots? What in this thrice-blighted world possessed me to wear such expensive boots on a 'mere' scouting assignment. Buck's sense of melodrama must be rubbing off on me, heavens forbid!'

Yet another sigh greeted the state of his Glegokian pants.

"You sigh one more time Ezra and I will ."

Ezra waited for the rest of the threat to follow, but Nathan seemed at a lose for words. "You will what Nathan?"

Nathan gave a wry smile and said, "Can't think of anything worse than this."

"Well I certainly can. I could be resting my tender derriere in this damp hellhole, surrounded by ravenous demons and ne'er-do-wells and inexplicably find myself attired in Buck's riotous throwbacks. Then forced to present myself before some nefarious Demon Lord and have to mollify his disapproval at my lack of proper attire with the paltry excuse of, 'Well sir, what did you expect on such short notice?' "

Nathan put unsteady hand on his stomach, trying to quell his laughter, "Don't . make . me . laugh . Ez."

"Sorry," Ezra mumbled, steadying his friend with a guilty start.

"Don't be. It's good we can laugh - even in this place."

"Doesn't say much for our sense of humour." A deep rumble from Josiah interjected. He had been trying to meditate and the ex-monk had finally admitted that the serenity he craved was not going to be found today.

"No it does not, Josiah. Truly refined and worthwhile wit is reserved exclusively for the rare occasions in life when nothing is wrong and everything is right. Which is why no one ever laughs."

"Huh?" Nathan asked, confusion evident on his face.

"Ezra is poking fun at me, Nate. Just ignore him," Josiah moved closer to the pair and checked the bandages around Nathan's waist.

"I usually do anyway."

The trio's soft laughter echoed in the cavern, warming Buck and JD but not quite reaching the shadowed corner in which Chris sat. Chris was enveloped by shades from his past and terrors in his present. Images of all life had thrown at him, flashed across his mind's eye, each joyful moment now slicing him to the quick as the prospect of loosing it all loomed large before him.

That there had been no screams in the last few minutes, meant nothing to Chris, as he could 'feel' Vin's pain and each and every new wound that was inflicted. Strangely he didn't feel any fear from Vin, only determination. 'Determination to do what?'

Chris had never tried to explain or examine his connection to Vin. It simply 'was'. He and Sarah had shared the typical marriage bond, allowing them the ability to touch souls. Vin on the other hand, seemed to share souls with Chris. At odd times, he could hear Vin's dry drawl commenting on something or laughing at him, even though Vin might be miles away. And yet, Chris never once thought that he had imagined it, he never doubted the feelings and connection. It just 'was'. Injuries were shared, good times with the boys enhanced by double laughter echoing inside their hearts and fear chased away by the other's quiet presence.

The dark magic of the caverns seemed to dull the connection slightly. What were once clear thoughts, were now impressions of feelings and emotions. Absolute certainty of exact location was reduced to a general direction. And this frightened Chris no end.

+ + + + + + +

Vin tried to ease the cramps in his arms, shuffling closer to the wall but to no avail. The demon had healed all his wounds, old and new, providing a brand new kind of pain for Vin to experience. Vin mused he would rather stay hurt than have to go through that again. The demon had then grabbed Vin's upper arm and started muttering in its native language. Pressing Vin's arm against the wall behind him, the demon continued to mutter and with a start Vin felt his arm begin to sink into the wall. He tried to pull away but the demon's other hand lashed out, catching Vin's neck and forestalling any movement with a tight squeeze.

The demon continued to push Vin's arm into the wall, until the entire arm, up to the shoulder was submerged in the filthy rock. The demon had then spat out a command and touched Vin's other arm, which moved on its own accord against the wall and began to merge into the rock. Now with his back pressed firmly against the tunnel wall, Vin tried to find a comfortable position which didn't pull at his arms. Sighing, he gave up trying to ease the growing ache between his shoulder blades. He lent his head back against the rock and wondered how the rest of the Seven were doing.

He had tried to block out thoughts of his friends, unwilling to slip into feelings he couldn't afford to indulge just yet. But he couldn't help wondering. Chris's unease and fear rested in Vin's heart and he tried buried his own, not wishing to burden Chris with additional concerns. He allowed his desire to pull free from the wall to be uppermost in his mind. The flashes of raw anger at their imprisonment he felt from Chris, he tried to temper with determination to survive. And in return, Chris's anger fuelled his own desire and need to see his brother.

His captor had disappeared about an hour ago, on some unknown errand, leaving Vin pinned to the wall. Vin didn't hold much to his chances for escape, but he had to try. Wiggling his fingers was impossible, as was loosening the rock around his arms, which seemed attached to his skin. Vin pulled his knees up to his chest and awkwardly twisted onto his haunches. This position pulled mercilessly at his arms, but Vin ignored the flaring pain and set about trying to pull himself free, again. He had spent the last hour trying to do this, and so far had only succeeded in nearly dislocating his shoulder. Giving up, however was not an option and Vin continued to pull, using his legs to push against the tunnel floor and try move his arms.

The sound on a rock hitting the tunnel wall, interrupted Vin's efforts and he slowly lent back against the wall, pressing himself into what shadows he could. A short skittering sound, like that of many legs working in conjunction, echoed briefly, before a shadow detached itself from the mass of darkness at the edge of Vin's vision and moved into the tunnel. A multitude of moving legs hid the body of the thing moving towards Vin. It paused and raised one leg in the air, as if it were looking around. Vin tried not to breath as the demon-spider looked around. Despite his efforts though the spider shrieked when its leg pointed in his direction and in a burst of unnatural speed, the thing rushed at Vin.

Vin braced himself for its attack, furious at his helplessness, preparing to try and kick the thing away from him and just as the demon-spider was about reach him, a massive foot crushed the spider. Vin looked up at his captor who had materialised in the nick of time.

Mangus was chewing on some sort of arm and stared down at his captive. "Think you owe me."

Vin just tugged at his arms, eager to escape the confines of the wall. Mangus casually sat down at the opposite side of the tunnel and continued to chew on his meal. "You don't have much time left," Mangus hissed, "the Demon Lords are about to start the feast."

Vin ignored the demon and continued his efforts to pull his arms free.

"Still have nothing to say?"

Vin glanced up at Mangus, but refused to react to the demon.

"Doesn't have to be this way. Could spare you the pits."

Vin's eyes hardened at the mention of the pits and thought on his friends, who would be facing that gruesome end. "I thought all you demons had ta listen to them Demon Lords. How ya gonna stop 'em tossing me in."

"I have power." Mangus snapped, angry that this mortal doubted his abilities.

"Yeah, so you keep on saying."

Mangus leapt across the space dividing them, one hand catching Vin high on the chest, the other snapping Vin's head up, his palm under Vin's chin, and two claws pressed against the side of his face. "You are in no place to mock, onnorselend. I have sufficient power to take us away from these caverns. Far away."

Vin unable to answer, grimaced as Mangus continued to force his head back, making it difficult to breath, it felt like his neck was about to snap. Mangus suddenly hissed and turned his head to the side, as if answering some summons. "You have run out of time, stukkende man. The pits await."

Spitting harshly, Mangus jerked Vin's arms out of wall and enclosed one over-grown hand around Vin's chest and pulled the reluctant human towards his face. "You should have taken my offer. Now an eternity of pain awaits you."

With those words, Mangus turned and strode down the tunnel, bearing his prisoner with him, obeying the Demon Lord's summons.


I would love feedback: Rhicy@hotmail.com