The Fates decided the knight will block the attack with the demon arm. See the results here.
Betting on hope and demon magic, are we? Or do you think this is funny? Ah, I see a few nods in the crowd. You’re smiling under those masks, aren’t you?
Even I am not entirely sure what the arm’s capabilities are -- I’ve spent a great deal of time in different dimensions myself, though rarely in the abyss. Let’s see what happens next...
As the crossbowmen’s commander shouts: “Fire!” Ren raises his demon-arm, putting it in the line of fire.
If it can eat people, why not crossbow bolts too? He knows it’s not the best of ideas to poke abyss-borne creatures full of shrapnel, but it’s better than letting Dawn get shot. The first volley comes in a tight group, and the Eternal Knight has a moment of admiration for Nitanna’s well trained troops. Then the bolts hit home, thudding into the demon’s face, spiked limb, and flexing hand.
A surprising sensation of pain runs through his Eternal Armor as the crossbowmen’s bolts penetrated the demon arm. Evidently, his connection with the arm had strengthened beyond sharing general impressions and feelings, like hunger.
Even worse than the shared pain, is that the demon’s growls become intelligible. Moments ago the knight could not understand the arm’s grotesque mumble, but now it seems like a weak pleading cry. It makes the Eternal Knight’s soul itch: “It huuuurts! It hurts, it hurts! Why do they hurt me, father? Let me eat them, eat them! Let me eat them!”
Father? This demon thinks I am it's creator? Is it really so simple a being? First Ren feels a wave of confusion, disgust, and the need to cut away his new arm 'child' with whatever tool he can find and fast. Following the disgust closely comes pity and a need to protect, and care for it. Apparently sharing a soul with someone, even if it’s a violent, bloodthirsty creature raised from the abyss, tends to do that.
Before the knight has thought through that, he finds himself saying: “Hush, hush, the pain is not so bad.”
Immediately he feels the positive effects of his soothing voice. Perhaps more nuanced communication with the demon arm will be possible? What if they could actually understand and talk to each other? Could they coexist afterall? Of course, they can coexist. It’s his child, isn’t it? The knight shakes his skull. Was that truly his own thought? Where did it...
“Open fire!” cries the commander. A fresh batch of bolts sing through the air, and into the demon arm. This time the pain is sharper. The knight knows exactly where the bolts have hit the demon. His demon. His child.
“Ithurtsithurtsithurts! LET ME EAT THEM!”
Ren tries for soothing words again, but he feels… angry. They are hurting his child. His innocent, hungry child. How dare they? Its fury crests, carrying the Eternal Knight away with it.
He drops Dawn.
As Dawn thuds to the ground, the abyssal arm grows in size and shape into a terrible, ghastly skull-serpent. It leaps and writhes in the air with deadly force. The crossbowmen explode in a cloud of blood as the demon eats them, tearing them apart with rows of gnashing teeth.
Three dozen guards remain, with their swords drawn. Despite having witnessed the slaughter, they are resolute — bent on revenge for Nitanna and for their newly fallen brothers and sisters in arms as well.
“Destroy the monster!” their captain shouts, and the gatekeepers obey, rushing forward to stab and slash at the Eternal Knight. If it wasn’t for the demon arm, the Knight would surely have been overwhelmed. Instead, all who cross its path are massacred. The Eternal Knight revels in it -- this is what comes of wounding his children! This is the fate of all those who harm the innocent, the hungry. It is a fitting fate.
A thrash from the demon arm sends Ren back a step, stumbling over Dawn. He looks down at her, disoriented. Why is she here? Why had he been carrying her? She is not his child. She’s sitting up in the street, her face ghostly pale and blue in the light of the demon arm. As he watches, she raises her hands — summoning her magic.
The Eternal Knight is caught between horror at what he’s unleashed, the desire to feed his hungry demon child, and the desire to save Dawn. Dawn will surely never forgive him, even if he can keep control of the demon arm. Perhaps he can’t even do that.
Well, this is awkward! But hey, not all is lost — just keep betting on hope and I’m sure things will turn out fine!
In all seriousness, the Eternal Knight is in a bit of a pinch and has a big decision to make. Let’s give him a hand, will we Fates?
Option 1: The Eternal Knight asks Dawn to run away while he tries to scratch out the rune binding the demon to him.
Option 2: The Eternal Knight tells his arm to look around: there is a town full of big people to eat. Instead of Dawn, they will take its hunger away.
Option 3: The Eternal Knight runs away getting clear of Dawn, looking for Compie. The cursed box will set this mess right.
Due to some unexpected traveling this week and the next, we're releasing this chapter one day early and unfortunately we'll have to take a break next week. We'll keep the polls open until the 17th of February and we'll be back with a new chapter on the 21st of February.
See you in two weeks!
Kaya & Silver