The war continues

Mantis laughed mightily as he realized the king was under his control. "See my people? This was your king. He sold his soul to become this and is so easily defeated! Dance for them, Darien. DANCE!!!" And as much as as he tried, Darien had to dance like a jester for the crowd.

While Mantis smiled and laughed at the sight, he spied a peasant woman crying. He approached her. "Why so sad my dear?"

"It's just a shame to see such a great and noble man reduced to this," she said tearfully.

Mantis patted her on the shoulder. "I'm sorry you feel that way," he said. He took a few steps back. "Now, puppet... this woman here is saddened by the sight of you... end her suffering." And the woman froze in fear, then fell to her knees, imploring her once-king not to, but he took her head in his hands and crushed it like a melon.

Mantis was deranged but there was nothing people could do.

He looked up to the balcony, saw the terror in Elizabeth's eyes, and it fueled him with an even stronger desire for her. "Puppet, help me get back to my queen." And as much as he would have loved to crush him in his arms, Darien could only toss Mantis back up to the balcony.

"And now my queen, I hunger for you," and he dragged her away from the balcony and pushed her against the wall. In full sight of the nobles there and his guards, he began to kiss and grope her, like a drunkard would a tavern wench.

~ ~ ~

Nirick did as instructed and met Vampeer. "M'lord," he said in a whisper, "m'lord, I'm ready."

~ ~ ~

Brianne morphed and smiled. She didn't speak, just howled, and charged into battle.

~ ~ ~

Dothar wept. He wept like he never had before. In death, some part of his mortality had returned and he felt beyond humbled in the presence of the gods. "Why have you brought me here? I thought I was to die and cease to be!"

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