“THE BASTARD!” screeched the mayor’s daughter, whose name was, Abiyshag. “Did you see that?”
Faith watched as Doom rode off into the fading light and ‘yes’ she’d seen the priest try to kill the girl.
“The fucker tried to kill me!” Abiyshag strained against her chains as she tried to break free.
Turning back to look at the girl, Faith smiled sadly and shook her head. There was nothing like attempted murder to spoil a relationship. Picking up the key that’d been hidden under a nearby stone she began to unlock the girl’s chains.
“We came to take ya back to your old man,” Faith informed her as she released the girl from the last of her restraints.
“OH MY GOD!” cried the girl, “Daddy!” she turned to Faith as she rubbed her wrists, “He’s gonna be soooooo pissed at me!”
“Yeah, well,” Faith shrugged her shoulders as she led the girl down towards their camp, “I think he’ll be happy to see you,” one thousand gold sheckles happy she added to herself.
“I don’t know what I saw in him, y’know,” Abiyshag pulled what remained of her clothing more tightly around her as she stepped delicately between the corpses. “I mean,” she sniffed, “he wasn’t even that good in bed.”
They had arrived at the camp where Dawn, Subotia and Akiro were cleaning themselves and their gear free of blood.
“It was all about the snakes with him,” Abiyshag sat down by the fire and stared into its flames. “Every time we did, you know, ‘it’…just as we got to the exciting bit he’d turn into a snake! I mean…yuck!”
Dawn clamped her hand across her mouth and tried not to laugh.
“It doesn’t help, y’know,” complained Abiyshag sadly, “turning into a snake like that…its weird.”
“Yeah well,” Dawn, now back in control of herself moved and sat down next to Abiyshag and placed a comforting hand on the younger girl’s shoulder. “Hi, I’m Dawn by the way, that’s Faith,” Dawn pointed out the members of her band, “Subotia and Akiro, what’s your name?”
“Abiyshag,” replied Abiyshag.
“W-what d-do they call you for short?” Dawn was having another fit of the giggles, “And please don’t say ‘Shag’!”
“No,” replied Abiyshag perplexed at Dawn’s obvious amusement, “daddy calls me Abiy…he’s gonna kill me when I get home. I’m gonna be so grounded ‘til I’m, like old and grey!”
“I’m sure he won’t,” Dawn tried to sound reassuring, “will he, Faith?”
“Nah,” replied Faith, she checked the edge of her sword for sharpness.
“What y’gonna do like now?” Dawn stood up and walked around the fire to stand next to Faith.
“Tomorrow, I’m gonna ride in there and kill Doom,” Faith slid her sword back into its scabbard.
“Um, excuse me,” everyone turned to see Abiy waving her hand in the air trying to attract everyone’s attention. “If there’s any killing to be done, you better do it tonight.”
“Why?” demanded Faith.
“Because, like, snakeboy is totally gonna screw things up tonight,” Abiy looked from face to face in the firelight, she explained further. “Tonight he’s sending his. like followers out to start their freaking ‘Holy Crusade’ an’ totally kill all the, like important people so he can, like, take over the world…totally!”
“Oh,” shrugged Faith unimpressed.
“Been there, like done that,” Dawn sighed.
“But…” squeaked Abiy in surprise.
“Same old, same old,” explained Dawn tiredly, “turn into a snake, take over the world, way unoriginal.”
“Crap,” Faith stood up and adjusted her sword belt, “I’m gonna have to stop him, aren’t I?”
“Yeah,” agreed Dawn, “and I’m coming too.”
“But…” Faith started to tell Dawn ‘no’.
“Look, Faith I’m coming and you’re not going to stop me…”
“Me too!” cried Abiy jumping to her feet, “Me too! I want to see that bastard die!”
“Oh!” Faith looked at the two girls, and finally shrugged her shoulders, “Okay, if ya wanna come, come. But you do as you’re told right?”
Dawn and Abiy nodded their heads eagerly.0=0=0=0
Watching the proceedings with growing confusion, Subotia eventually turned to Akiro.
“What’s going on?” he asked, the women had been jabbering on with growing excitement for several minutes now.
Turning to gaze at the steppe warrior, Akiro looked deeply into the man’s eyes. He really had no idea what was happening, Akiro coughed to clear his throat.
“Even more women’s stuff,” he said after a moment or two, “you really don’t want to know.”
“I don’t?” Subotia glanced up to where the three women stood around the fire arguing.
“Oh,” Subotia shrugged and went back to repairing his arrows, “you’re probably right.”0=0=0=0
Having galloped through the night the three vengeful women reached the Temple of Doom. Here they found the Followers of Doom lined up on the Staircase of Doom performing some religious rite.
“How do we get in?” asked Dawn.
“We can go through the kitchen again,” suggested Faith.
“You mean,” sniggered Dawn, “like, the Kitchen of Doom?”
“Which leads to the Hall of Doom,” smiled Abiy.
“And…” Dawn was giggling quite loudly by now, “and the Bedroom of Doom…”
“What about the en Suite Bathroom of Doom!?” laughed Abiy nearly falling off her horse.
“HEY!” Faith silenced the girl’s with an angry frown, “You’re not gonna make me regret bring ya, are ya?”
“No Faith,” Dawn tried to keep her face straight.
“No Miss,” added Abiy.
“Good,” Faith turned away from the girls and smiled to herself; ‘Bedroom of Doom’ that was quite good. She’d been to a few of those in her time, anyway no time for that, snake priests to kill.0=0=0=0
Ramming her sword into the back of the guard, Faith clamped her hand over his mouth to stifle any cries for help. The guard sagged in her arms as she lay him quietly on the ground. They’d galloped around the mountain until they’d come to the entrance to the Kitchen of Doom. Luckily Thulsa Doom hadn’t had time to do more than post a few guards. Faith had made short work of them.
Leaving a trail of dead bodies behind them the girls had climbed the slope and entered by the same passageway as they had before. The Kitchen of Doom was empty.
“This way,” whispered Abiy as she led them along a rough stone passage and out into one with smooth stone walls.
Silently they padded along the corridor (of Doom) until they came to a junction where two warriors stood guard.
“My turn,” Dawn stepped forward only to have her arm grabbed by Faith.
“Hey,” she whispered, “let me it too dangerous.”
“What do you mean, like, its too dangerous?” whispered Dawn angrily, “I can totally handle these bozos,” she shook her arm free of Faith’s grasp, “you’re beginning to sound like Buffy.”
Stunned by the accusation, Faith let go and watched as Dawn sauntered towards the guards.0=0=0=0
“Hey, guys,” Dawn smiled brightly as she approached the two men.
“Hey, dude-ette,” grinned the first guard, “like what cha doin’ eh?”
“Oh,” Dawn reached up and ran a finger lightly along the line of the first guard's jaw, “nothin’ much. The Boss, he said you guys had been goin’, like such a slap up job that you deserved a prize.”
“Like, he did?” gasped the first guard.
“Like, wow, man,” agreed the second guard.
Dawn made suggestive movements involving her hand and the hilt of her sword.
“Now,” she smiled, “if you both close your eyes I’ll give you your prize.”
“Hey, man” laughed the first guard, “I just know this is gonna be totally awesome.”
The two men closed their eyes and grinned foolishly. There were two bright flashes in rapid succession as the guards turned to ash leaving only two pairs of smoking sandals to mark their passing. Putting the Heart of Araman back in its pouch, Dawn turned and signalled her companions forward.
“Wow, Dawn!” grinned Abiy, “That was like, totally awesome!”
“SSH!” Ordered Faith; she had the feeling that she was losing control of this commando raid, “Quiet, we’ve still got a ways to go yet.”
“Yeah, right,” agreed Dawn.
“Can I kill the next guard?” Abiy wanted to know, “Pleeeeeeease!?”
“Jeez,” sighed Faith in despair.0=0=0=0
“Lady Abiyshag!” the guard exclaimed without a hint of amusement, “I thought you’d been captured by the rebels.”
“I escaped,” replied Abiy haughtily, “now tell me where my Lord is.”
“The Great Lord of Doom,” replied the guard formally, “Is out on the Staircase of Doom addressing the Followers of Doom, ma’am.”
“Thank-you,” Abiy took a long sharp knife from under her ripped robes and slashed it across the guard’s throat while he was looking the other way.
“COOOOL!” squealed Abiy as she jumped back to avoid the worst of the blood; the guard gurgled his last and fell to the floor.
“That’s so amazingly awesome,” giggled Abiy as Faith and Dawn ran up to her; Faith took the knife from the girl’s blood wet hand.
“That was wicked cool,” congratulated Dawn.
“Look!” snapped Faith, “Will you two stop acting like a couple of schoolgirls on their first date?”
“Sorry,” chastened Dawn hung her head.
“Is she always this grumpy?” whispered Abiy.
“No,” replied Dawn pointedly, “she used to be fun.”
“Will you two stop fucking about?” Faith held onto her temper by her finger nails, “If ya don’t take this more seriously I’ll…I’ll…I’ll leave you behind next time.”
“Oh, Faith!” whined the girls.0=0=0=0
Back hard up against the cold marble wall, Faith peeped around the corner to see Thulsa Doom standing at the top of the stairs leading to the temple. Before him like a great murmuring sea of fire stood the Followers of Doom. Each follower held high a burning torch that lit up the valley filled to overflowing with Doom’s white robed slaves. On the staircase below Doom stood a few black robed priests, there were no more guards in evidence.
“Look,” Faith spoke softly so as not to be overheard, “I’ll go out and kill the bastard. You two stay here and watch my back, okay?”
“Yeah, okay,” agreed Dawn soberly, the time for jokes had passed.
“As long as I can watch you do it,” demanded Abiy in a loud whisper.
“Dawn?” pleaded Faith.
“No worries,” confirmed Dawn with a reassuring smile, “I’ve got your back.”0=0=0=0
“The purging is at last at hand…” Thulsa Doom spoke with a magically enhanced voice so all his followers could hear clearly.
“Doom!” murmured the crowd.
“The Day of Doom is here…” continued Doom.
Faith cast an angry look over her shoulder as she heard Dawn giggle from around the corner.
“All that is evil, all that have eyes,” cried Doom, “your parents, your leaders. Those that would call themselves your judges,” Doom’s voice rose in volume as Faith sneaked ever closer.
“Those who have lied…” Doom was really getting into it now and his audience was lapping it up, “and corrupted the world! They shall all be cleansed…”
“DOOM!” roared the crowd like a wave crashing against the rocks.
“You my children, are the water,” explained Doom, “that will wash away all that has come before. In your hand you hold my light…”
Faith was only a few paces behind Doom now, in a moment he would be dead. There were no more guards the black robed priests would never reach her in time to save him. Faith felt the weight of her sword in her hand and felt comforted, she was the slayer, she was invincible. No magic, snake-priest, bastard could stand before her…she was Faith the Buff Barbarian!
“…the gleam in the eye of Sett,” Doom continued unaware of his approaching nemesis. “This flame will burn away the darkness! BURN YOU A WAY TO PARADICE!
” roared the crowd once more.
Sensing something, Doom turned to see Faith standing behind him. The crowd cried out in alarm as they saw the figure that menaced their messiah; some rushed forward but were held back by the black robed priests who were unsure what they should do. For a long moment Doom gazed into Faith’s eyes, finally he spoke.
“My child,” Doom’s voice was soft as silk and as sweet as honey, “You have come to me, my daughter.” Doom shifted his torch into his other hand all the time keeping his eyes locked onto Faith’s.
“For who now is your father if it is not me?” asked Doom, “Who gave you the will to live?” Doom smiled at Faith, “I am the wellspring from which you flow…”
Faith felt as if she was floating on the warm, soft, sea of Doom’s words. She wanted to bask there in the light of his presence for ever and ever.
“When I am gone…” Doom almost sounded sad, “…you will have never been.”
Hold on, thought Faith, back up there a minute. Who was this asshole trying to kid? The slayer in Faith, never very far from the surface, reasserted her control over Faith’s mind, she smiled at Doom…was that doubt she saw in his eyes?
“Hey, asshole,” Faith took a final step towards Doom, “I don’t know who my father was,” she grinned at the look of fear that had started to creep slowly over Doom’s face. “But I’m sure that my mother, however big a whore she might’ve been, would never go with a loser like you!”
Raising her sword, Faith brought it down like lightning on the side of Doom’s neck, much to her surprise it didn’t cut all the way through. She raised her sword again to deal another blow as Doom fell to his knees and clutched at the mortal wound in his neck. He gazed up at Faith, shock and fear in his eyes. The sword flashed down cutting deeply into Doom’s neck.
A great gasp arose from the mouths of Doom’s followers as the watched in impotent rage as their leader was cut down before their very eyes. Grabbing hold of Dooms long hair Faith hauled back on it lifting his body up from the floor of the temple; raising her sword a third time she finally hacked off his head. Holding up the severed, bloody, head she showed it to the crowd.
They screamed in despair, leaderless they milled about at the foot of the long stairway. Behind her, Faith could hear Abiy cheer and clap her hands in glee at the death of Doom. Then, in a final show of contempt, Faith hurled the bloody head down the stairs towards the crowd. It landed with a crunch of shattering skull bones and the soft wet ‘splat’ of blood, it bounced down a few steps until it came to rest about halfway down towards the mob.
For a moment the crowd became silent, then there was a low moan that grew in volume until it sounded like a swam of angry bees.
“OOOOOOH! CRAP!” Faith turned and ran as the Followers of Doom surged up the stairs in their determination to rip apart the woman who had killed their leader.
“RUN!” yelled Faith as she grabbed Dawn and Abiy, dragging them through the corpse littered Temple of Doom only a few steps ahead of the avenging horde of Doom.
Running into the Hall of Doom, Faith pushed the two girls towards the exit, “I’ll be along in a second!” she cried.
Pulling Abiy behind her, Dawn ran on knowing not to argue with Faith in situations like this. Turning, Faith heard what sounded like a million angry homicidal maniacs making their way towards her through the temple. There was no way even she could fight them all, she looked around and her eyes fell on the torches that lit the chamber and the wall hangings and soft furnishings. Grabbing a torch she quickly ran around the hall setting fire to everything that would burn. With hardly a backward glance she tossed the torch over her shoulder and headed for the exit. As her feet slapped on the stone floor she could just hear the cries of rage and despair coming from the crowd over the sound of the fire behind her.0=0=0=0
Stalking silently through the smouldering ruins of Doom’s temple, Toth Amon muttered darkly to himself. Would he never get his revenge on those two barbarian whores who’d killed him? It appeared they led charmed lives, every subtle plan he hatched seemed to fail. All his unwitting servants fell before their blades. What was he to do? How was he to end the lives of these two…two…words failed him for a moment, really, really annoying women?
Well, he thought as he stood amid the ruins of Doom’s dreams, the gloves were coming off now. No more Mr Nice-Zombie-Wizard, no more ‘subtle’. From now on it was going to be all out, toe to toe mortal combat with those barbarian bitches. He laughed hollowly as a new plan formed in his mind; yes that would do very nicely. It might take a little time to arrange but when it was ready…oh how he hoped he’d be there to see their faces.“MAW-HA-HA!”
he laughed evilly.0=0=0=0EPILOGUE.Mourning the loss of her one true love, Faith led her companions back to the city of Haafi. There she and Dawn returned the wayward daughter of the Mayor. With a heavy heart they accepted the reward money, and having no further concerns there, left before anyone could change their minds and stop them! Leaving Subotia and Akiro in that great city, Faith and Dawn sort adventure and fortune to the north in the Shattered Kingdoms. Here they fought in many feuds and wars; honour and fear were heaped upon their names until, in time, they became Queens by their own hands…
…But that, as they say, is another story.0=0=0=0Cue heroic soundtrack! THE END.