He had to climb the tower. Foreboding as it was. His duty lay before him. But more than that for he was to rescue his betrothed, she who was also his beloved. She’d been taken away by a demon.
Snatched in the night. Whisked away to their lord, whom he had come to kill.
It was said that none could kill him, the dreaded demon lord, none except for the chosen hero. He was no hero. But he saw no choice. He’d make no deal with demons.
He set forth, the tower before him. It had been days ride, and much fighting, to get this far. He was tired and covered in scars, but he would not abandon her.
Now that the tower stood before him, he shuddered at its size. Black and round, reaching to the sky.
The gate sat open. Tempting those who dared. None ever returned. He walked through it. Sore muscles throbbing, but with no thought of stopping. The courtyard lie empty, so he went to the doors.
Throwing them open light spilled into darkness and demons scurried away. He pulled out his torch. Striking his fire stone he raised it in one hand. In another was his sword.
He entered the darkness.
BANG! The doors slammed behind him and the darkness was thick, the torch struggling to pierce it. The demons attacked.
They were small ones that looked like little deformed humans with hunched backs and mouths full of razor sharp teeth. His sword hand went to work. He bothered not to count.
Swinging slicing, cutting off limbs and heads.
One sank its teeth into his ankle, he grunted and kicked at it. Sword hand busy, he lowered the torch and set the thing ablaze. The sound, oh the sound. Like a wailing shrieking scream.
It ran into the darkness. More came close. These ones larger, with heads and legs of goats. Their chests were human and bare, and each carried a staff with a long curved blade atop.
Blades out toward him, he dropped the torch to his feet, and yanked the small shield off his back. He knocked away two blades, then responded with his sword.
Moving fast to close the gap, he stabbed one through the heart. His sword in deep, he dropped the thing, instead holding its weapon. As it fell he spun around loping heads off two others.
When at last the bloodshed was done, he stood surrounded by dozens of bodies and covered in their blood. Wiping it away from his face and hands, he gathered the sword and torch.
Muscles aching even more, he started to search for the stairs.
There was a stone floor and stone walls but everything else was bare. The room was a maze. He wandered it for hours, having little luck.
Determination driving him, he carried on through sleeplessness and pain.
He got in many fights but each time he was the victor, until at last he reached the stairs. Marching up them as they circled the tower his body tried to protest.
He thought only of her face, and his determination grew.
After some time he reached the second level. There was an echoing sound of children's laughter followed by a hiss and silence. Here the floors had carpets made from animal hide.
And the walls were strewn with pictures. Ghastly scenes of murder and death.
It was a different sort of maze. With many locked doors. He bashed through a few. Finding nothing on the other side.
The laughter again, this time from behind him, he spun around to see a little girl just as she disappeared around the corner.
Knowing it was a trap, but finding no other path, he followed the child. She was always just out of reach, and he never saw her face. This went on for some time.
Eventually, they reached a long hallway lined with doors on both sides. There was a glow coming from the far end. Now the laughter was constant, like the distant sound of a waterfall.
The girl had disappeared, so he moved towards the light. Checking a door he found it locked.
Then he heard the hiss. He turned around to see a serpents head as tall as he was. Mouth open, forked tongue out. Giant pointed teeth dripping with venom.
It moved towards him at mind boggling speed. Bashing at the door next to him, he knocked it down and dove out of the way just in time.
The room was small and empty, with no other entrances. The serpent carried on past. He reached for the sword and drove it into the beast's side.
It wanted to go with the beast but he held it with all his might and as the serpent moved to turn around, the gash continued to grow.
Red flooded the floor, and there was a great awful noise that the beast let out. Then it stopped moving, and there was silence again.
Most of the hallway, was taken up, but he managed to squeeze through. At last reaching the source of the light. It was molten rock. A giant pool of it with only a small standing area.
Then, the room started to shift. He turned around just as the doors swung closed. Now the wall was moving closer, forcing him to the liquid.
Thinking for a moment he took his sword and drove it into the tiny gap between the moving wall and the floor. The sound was painful on the ears, but the trick worked and the wall stopped.
Now he looked around. There was a loud deep laughter. Cackling more so, and the roof above opened as the ground began to rise.
Now weaponless, he looked to see what was above. But it was open sky. Around were trees and plants, a forest atop the tower. As the platform rose to its peak, he stepped out into the wilderness.
It was a beautiful place. Lit by the moon. Not at all what he was expecting. Deer ran to and fro, birds sang in the sunlight. He put out the torch and pulled out the shield.
There was a path in front of him. The demon lord would not simply let his betrothed go, but there was nothing for it, so he followed the path.
He came upon a small cabin and entered it. There was a robed figure inside, sitting in front of a fire, back to the door.
The deep cackling laughter came again and the robes flew into the air, inhabited by some invisible thing. It then began to speak.
“No sword.” Cackling. “Poor little human, you want your beloved?” The voice was deep and shrill at the same time. Neither masculine nor feminine.
“Curse you demon!” He responded, fearless as ever. Then, the spectre raced toward him. He stood his ground and it went right through. The cloak fell lifelessly to the floor.
Then the fire exploded out of the fireplace, and lit the rug. He quickly went back outside and watched as the cabin began to burn down.
The path was gone. Now a new one was there, going a different direction. After following it for several minutes it lead him to an altar in the woods.
It was here that he saw his betrothed, tied up, but alive, and next to the altar.
He also saw the demon lord. He was massive. Nearly thirty feet tall. And had eight spider legs, a human torso, and the head of a bat, only with bigger teeth.
“How exactly do you expect to defeat me?”
The truth was he didn’t know. But he carried on towards him anyway. The lord turned to face him head on and charged. The man charged back towards him shield out in front.
In the split second before the man was crushed lighting struck downward out of the cloudless sky. The beast stopped immediately. Stumbling backwards, and falling over.
Smoke rising from its body. It was dead. The demon lord was dead. Just like that.
He ran to his beloved and cut her loose. Determined as always, and no less resolute than when he entered the tower, he looked at her. “Let’s get you out of here.”