Black clouds formed out of nowhere to make a halo around Uthas Drall’s head, spreading outward to block out the sun and leave the forest in darkness. Lightning crackled in them, thunder boomed, and the Fear Feeder laughed at the tiny people looking up at him in horror.
“Yes,” he crooned, lifting his massive foot and bringing it down hard enough to shake the ground. “Fear me, all of you! Feed me!”
The humans that had congregated to watch the battle shrieked in terror and ran for cover. Uthas Drall turned to look down at Porter, who was standing still, his feet frozen to the ground in fear as he was forced to look into the monster’s glowing red eyes.
“I should thank you,” the Fear Feeder said. “That potion was exactly what I needed to be freed!”
With a roar, Uthas Drall leaned down and swung his arm at Porter, his new claws digging grave-sized trenches into the ground.
“Porter!” Sarah’s voice shouted into his heart. “Move!”
The sound of her voice snapped Porter out of his stupor, and he managed to dive out of the way just in time. Above him, Uthas Drall chuckled.
“Yes, child, run from me like the prey you are!”
Porter did as he was commanded and ran, fighting to keep his brain from surrendering itself to blind panic. Uthas Drall came after him, shaking the earth with every step.
“I told you that you had no chance!” the monster roared as it swiped its claws at Porter again, missing him by mere feet. Porter knew the Fear Feeder was enjoying this. It was just a game to him.
I have to banish my fear, he thought desperately. He’s feeding off of it!
“Porter, where are you?” Sarah cried out to him, and he could feel the terror burning in her chest. He looked around, and spotted her twenty feet away, staring at the monster in horror.
“Sarah, you have to get out of here!” he told her. “He’s coming after me right now. Escape before he remembers you’re there!”
“I’m not leaving you!” she argued. She followed the direction she felt his emotions coming from, and finally spotted him just as he rolled to keep from being crushed by the monster’s foot.
“Sarah, it’s over!” he shouted at her. “There’s no way we can fight this thing!”
Uthas Drall’s foot came down behind him again, the force throwing him into the air. He landed on his back, and could do nothing except watch as the Fear Feeder’s foot rose above him, preparing to crush him like an insect.
“Porter!” Sarah screamed in terror, but able to do nothing to help him.
The monster’s heel slowly descended, Uthas Drall relishing the suspense. The stench of rotting carcasses radiated from his skin and Porter raised his hand, knowing full well he wouldn’t be able to stop it, and closed his eyes…
Suddenly, there was a flash of blue bright enough for Porter to see through his eyelids. He opened his eyes and saw Azkular standing above him, his knives buried in Uthas Drall’s foot.
“Get away from my friend!” the djinn yelled. Blue fire exploded from his body, and Uthas Drall took a step backwards. Azkular yanked his blades out as the monster retreated, and took a deep breath. There was smoke curling off of his skin.
“So, you’re the Fear Feeder that used to rule the world, huh?” the djinn said, and twirled his knives. “I’m not impressed.”
After the initial shock that somebody was willing to challenge him wore off, Uthas Drall regained his composure and towered over his new opponent.
“I’m not here to impress you,” he rumbled, his voice causing lightning to flash in the dark sky. “I’m here to destroy you!”
Azkular’s eyes narrowed. “Go ahead and try.”
With that, he jumped into the air. His knives spun like batons, throwing a shower of blue flames at the Fear Feeder. Slowly, Porter got back to his feet, his stomach still turning somersaults inside him. Those tiny darts of fire couldn’t possibly do anything to Uthas Drall. They were so small, and he was—
“Wretched djinn!” the monster roared, raising his arms to shield him from the fiery barrage and taking a step back.
“He’s… he’s actually hurting him!” he said to Sarah in disbelief.
Azkular fell and landed on Uthas Drall’s foot, plunging both his knives up to the hilt into it.
“You won’t find any fear in me!” he yelled. “Try some anger!”
The skin around Azkular’s knives began to glow blue, and a moment later it burst open in an explosion of djinnfire. Uthas Drall roared in pain and swiped at Azkular, but he flipped nimbly out of the way.
“You don’t know who you’re dealing with!” Uthas Drall shouted, thrusting his claws at the djinn. Azkular jumped out of the way again, and the claws gouged a hole into the ground where he had just been standing.
“Oh, I think I do,” Azkular retorted, eyes glowing. “You’re nothing but a parasite feeding off people’s fear. You think your size is enough to scare me, but all I care about is how big a crater you’ll make when you fall!”
“You cannot kill me,” Uthas Drall said, and took another swing at him. “I am a god!”
This time, instead of dodging the attack, Azkular leaped over it and landed right on the monster’s outstretched hand as it passed beneath him. With a yell, he ran up Uthas Drall’s arm.
“What?” Uthas Drall exclaimed in surprise, and Azkular began to wave his arms in a circle. A blue fireball took form in front of him, growing bigger with every rotation of his arms. Uthas Drall raised his other hand like he was going to shoo away a fly, but Azkular jumped off the monster’s arm and braced his foot against the oncoming hand. With a grunt, he thrust himself off from it, soaring towards the Fear Feeder’s face.
“Feed on this!” he shouted, and threw the fireball, which was now bigger than he was. It struck Uthas Drall in the face, exploding in a bright blue flash. Uthas Drall screamed in pain, staggering backwards from the force of the blast. Azkular fell the entire fifty feet to the ground and landed in a crouch.
“Vile creature!” Uthas Drall shrieked, his voice drilling painfully into Porter’s eardrums. “I will enjoy making you suffer!”
The Fear Feeder had finally regained his balance, but it was obvious Azkular had managed to hurt him. Black burns marred his ugly red face, with thin trails of smoke snaking out of them. More importantly, Porter realized, the fear radiating from the monster was weaker. Now he could look at it without terror making his mind go blank.
“If you feed on fear,” Azkular said, “all I have to do is make sure nobody is afraid of you!”
Uthas Drall laughed and spread his arms, displaying himself for the djinn. “That will never happen. Look at me! Who wouldn’t be afraid of—”
He didn’t get to finish his sentence, because at that moment a bolt of lightning zigzagged through the air. It didn’t come from the clouds, though. It came from the ground, and it struck the monster on the side of the head. Uthas Drall flinched, though Porter didn’t imagine how it could have been enough to hurt him, and turned to glare at the Slayers. A single man wearing a black coat stood apart from the others, his arm extended and his fingers still crackling with electricity.
The Slayer balked under the monster’s gaze, and Uthas Drall roared. Looking at them, though, he had turned his back on the Mythics, so he didn’t see when a barrage of fire, ice, and lightning flew from the inhuman army. The force of the spells slammed into him hard enough to make him stagger, and he spun around to face them now, glowing red eyes filled with rage.
Glenda had stood frozen in horror like everyone else when the Master Slayer had transformed. In all her years, she had never thought she would bear witness to something like this. Her fear was only made stronger having to watch the Fear Feeder try to stomp her son into the ground. It had taken the djinn’s amazing display of bravery to snap her out of it. She still wasn’t sure exactly what was going on, but the more Azkular fought, the less afraid she became. When the Slayers had joined in the fight, the fear went away entirely. She was still afraid, but the fear no longer seemed to be coming from the monster itself.
“Kill them!” the thing that had been Mortoph screamed. “Kill them all!”
At his command, the Mythics under his control sprang to action, attacking whatever happened to be closest to them, and the Slayers were forced to focus on them rather than the monster.
Chuckling with grim satisfaction, the monster turned back to face the Mythic army.
“Attack!” another voice rang out— a voice Glenda recognized.
Someone had finally stepped up to take control of the Mythics, and they obeyed. They charged out into the field with Bravvius in the lead. Even as he ran, the old centaur loosed five arrows, which each flew straight and true, piercing the monster’s skin. It was an amazing sight, and another one she had never imagined she would get to see.
Humans and Mythics fighting the same enemy.
And… they were charging straight at her!
Glenda gasped when she realized she was standing right in the path of the oncoming army. With their eyes on the giant creature, she doubted they even realized she was there. Gathering up her chain as best she could, she tried to run, but almost immediately tripped over a loose coil. Sprawled out on the ground, she could see all the feet, paws, and hooves that where thundering in her direction, mere moments away from crushing her underfoot. She closed her eyes, unable to watch…
A hand grabbed her by the back of her jacket and hauled her off the ground. Her eyes snapped open just in time to see Bravvius swing her over his shoulder and onto his back. She landed roughly, almost falling off, but managed to keep her grip and stay on.
“Hold on tight,” he shouted at her, and she quickly sat up and grabbed ahold of his shoulders. The wind whipped through her hair as the centaur galloped across the field, circling around the monster and firing arrows as he went. All of them found their mark, but none seemed to be doing any real damage to the fearsome creature. Unlike the first barrage of attacks, it barely seemed to notice these. The Mythics behind Bravvius fired their own arrows and spells, peppering it with feeble attacks that it merely shrugged off as well.
“What are you going to do?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” he admitted, “but there has to be something we can do!”
“Azkular managed to hurt it,” she said. “How?”
Bravvius was silent for a few seconds, and then he exclaimed. “That’s it! The monster feeds on our fear. Azkular attacked it with anger. It couldn’t absorb that emotion!”
“But what can we do about that?” Glenda asked. The fires in Azkular’s veins were fueled by anger, which seemed to be the perfect weapon against it. Nobody else had that kind of power.
“I don’t know,” Bravvius said again. “But I think we can start by not being afraid of it.”
As Glenda looked up at the towering monster, she couldn’t help but feel that that wasn’t possible.
The monster roared again, and swung its arm at them.
“Duck!” Bravvius said, lowering his head. Glenda did as well, but it was no good. Bravvius grunted when the monster’s claws slammed into him, throwing him off his hooves. Glenda flew off of his back and fell to the ground several feet away. Her ankle twisted as she rolled. When she opened her eyes, Bravvius was nowhere in sight. The other Mythics were running all around her, trying to keep up their pointless assault while avoiding the monster’s long, powerful arms.
What are we going to do? she thought desperately. The Mythics couldn’t defeat that thing on their own, and the Slayers had their hands full with the brainwashed Mythics. She considered getting up and running, but immediately thought better of it when she tried to put weight on her injured leg. There was nothing she could do except watch and hope that something would happen.
A stinger as long as Glenda’s forearm embedded itself in the ground by her side, and she froze when she saw where it had come from.
“All I wanted was something to kill!” Doluku yelled, approaching her with bloodlust in his eyes. Glenda’s breath caught in her chest, and she looked around for someone to come to her aid.
“Don’t bother,” the manticore said, flicking his barbed tail in eager anticipation. “They’re all too busy fighting that thing to worry about you.”
“D- don’t,” Glenda begged him, knowing that it would do her no good. “I’m not your enemy!”
“I don’t need an enemy!” Doluku snapped. “I’m a manticore. I kill who I want!”
He raised his tail and flicked it, flinging one of his stingers at her. It missed by half an inch, burying itself in the ground beside her head. She tried to scoot away, her ankle throbbing, but Doluku’s slow advance still brought him closer to her with every step.
“If I can’t kill all the humans,” he growled, “I suppose I can settle for killing you!”
The manticore thought she was defenseless.
The manticore was wrong.
Glenda thrust her hand into the tear in her jacket. In his murderous rage, Rayalga had neglected to relieve her of it, and that may have been enough to save her life. Her heart began to race as her hand closed around the last bottle she had stored inside it: a little glass ball, small enough to fit in her hand, filled with a dark brown liquid.
Doluku snapped his tail up, ready to launch a stinger into her heart, just as Glenda pulled the potion out of her jacket. Before Doluku could realize what was happening, she pulled her arm back and hurled the bottle at him. It struck the manticore in the face— and exploded. Doluku was thrown away from her on a wave of fire, little more than a pile of ashes.
Glenda sighed in relief, clutching her chest, hardly able to believe that she was still alive. A few seconds later, a massive hand alighted on her shoulder, and she looked up to see Droma’s gentle face above her own.
“You have been injured, ma’am,” the giant said. “Come, let me get you somewhere safe.”
NEXT TIME: The fight continues! Everyone seems to be doing well so far, but the battle is far from over. Will they find a way to kill Uthas Drall? Will they make it out alive?