City of Scoundrels

Supply and Demand

He snapped his fingers.

The library erupted into flames. Every shelf, every book, every wooden feature around him became kindling as the room erupted into a sea of red.

“If you won’t leave, then stay!”

The doors slammed shut behind them. They were trapped in the burning library but so was the demon. The laughing fiends emerged from their hiding places. One of them ran straight for their group, murderous intent in its eyes, its body aflame. The assassin, fast on his feet and agile as he was, ran straight towards the charging creature. He leapt, leg extended towards the fiend with the intention of flooring it in one blow. At the last second the creature twisted foreseeing the attack. It tackled the assassin mid-air and they clattered to the floor grappling with each other. To his left another creature hurled itself from an upper balcony towards the Doctor. He turned, raising his hand in a gesture of power and muttered a word of ancient origin. The effect was negligible and the creature landed on top of him sending them both sprawling to the floor with the demon trying to wrap its hand around his throat.

Vincent rolled his eyes. Doctor, Assassins, demons, the army, things were very disorganised today. Movement to his right caught his eye. A large curtain fluttered and from behind it came one of the shrieking creatures. Vincent levelled his sword and stood his ground preparing for the assault. When the monster was no more than two steps from him he let his left knee fall to the floor and drove the sword forward. It went straight through the demon but it did little to stop the charge, fortunately he’d planned for that. He angled his shoulder and let its momentum carry it into the air as he raised the sword.

It arched over him and crashed to the floor on the other side, sword driven into the wooden floor beneath, his hands secure on the hilt pinning it in place. He looked up. The flayed woman was coming their way, dragging the young Lord Tygon behind her. Vincent snorted in derision.

Weakling.

The smoke was becoming thick, he had lost sight of the assassin among the flames and the burning demons. The Doctor managed to put his foot between him and his attacker and kicked the creature off him and into the fire.

Vincent looked down at the grasping freak at his feet. It lashed out at him as it burned but he kept it pinned with the sword. Grabbing it with both hands he pulled the sword upwards, dragging it through the body and the head, splitting the creature in two. It twitched one lost time then went limp.

The smoke and heat of the room was beginning to take its toll. His eyes watered and he was struggling for breathe. If he didn’t get out of here soon then it might overcome him. That or all the demons might devour his soul.

The flayed woman had not stopped her advance. Onwards she came, dragging the young Lord behind her. The doctor produced a knife from somewhere inside his cloak and with one fluid motion sliced his hand off. Vincent blinked in shock watching the mad man work.

I… just… what?!

The doctor waved his… bloody stump and muttered something.

Here we go again.

A wave of force rose from the floor and a ghostly hand appeared in the air before the flayed woman. A wall of shimmering energy extended outwards from the hand barring the demons path. Hatred and anger twisted her face as she pushed against the wall. Power built up in the room as two demonic forces clashed. There was a loud bang followed by a shattering noise as the doors to the library were flung open by the pressure in the room.

Oh great. Now she’s pissed.

Vincent turned to the Doctor.

“Run.” The Doctor shouted as he turned and ran. Vincent watched the masked demonologist flee from the room leaving a trail of blood in his wake. The cool air of the corridor hit Vincent’s face like a glass of ice water on a hot day. A stark contrast to the room ablaze. He turned back towards the demon.

The job’s not done.

He caught sight if the assassin moving out of the corner of his eye. Vincent lifted his sword on one hand. He did a quick guess at the distance between him and the restrained monstrosity and then spun the sword a few times to work up the required momentum. He released it at just the right moment and the sword went flying straight for the demon. A few tense seconds passed as he watched it arch through the air and embed itself in the floor, two feet too short.

“Well done. You have successfully disarmed yourself.” The creature spat.

And distracted you.

The assassin finished his work at the wall and pried the gas pipe loose. With considerable and surprising strength he angled it at the demon and a gout of fire flowed like water from its end and engulfed the flayed woman and Lord Tygon.

Now it’s time to go.

He turned and strode from the room purposefully and controlled. He ran from no one. A trail of blood lead towards the back door they’d come in through. He ignored it and went straight for the front door. He grabbed the door handles just as the door was opened from the other side, coming face to face with two footman and the old Lord Tygon.

Wonderful.

“Who the hell are you and why are you in my house!” Lord Tygon demand.

“I’m a friend of your sons.” He lied in response. “He’s waiting for you in the library. Must dash.” He moved to pass lord Tygon and as he went tossed the severed foot he’d found at him to knock him off guard. It worked wonderful. He was halfway down the front staircase before Lord Tygon called out.

“Seize that man!”

Vincent spun on the spot and pulled his two flintlock pistols from his belt, levelling them at the footmen. They stopped in their tracks instantly. They had no way of knowing the guns were empty. Lord Tygon ground his teeth in frustration marched past the uncertain footmen, stopping just a few feet in front of Vincent.

“Your weapons might scare these men but they do not-“

Vincent flipped on of the pistols in his hand and cracked the Lord across the jaw, sending him sprawling like a sack of shit.

Demons, doctors, assassins and madmen I can handle. Nobles I despise.

He levelled the pistols at the shocked footmen again.

“Take his Lordship to the library.”

They moved quickly for fear of being shot and lifted the Lord. Vincent turned and continued down the stairs towards the carriage. The driver was clearly weighing up his options having watched the situation on the stairs unfold. He shrugged and motioned for Vincent to climb in, a practical man.

“Tumble-down hill.” Vincent ordered, climbing into the carriage. He was about to shut the door when the assassin climbed in behind him, flashing him a calm smile. Vincent grimaced and slammed the door shut as the carriage jerked into movement and set off down the pathway out of the estate. He relaxed for the first time in hours and reclined into his seat, letting his eyes slide closed. The smoke and soot clung to his clothes, his hair and his breath. His clothes were charred and frayed. Frankly he looked dishevelled. He briefly considered what might have happened to the doctor but he didn’t care much, the fool had probably died of blood loss already and all this was probably his fault anyway.

The day had not been a total loss fortuitously. His mind replayed the scene in his head. The assassin, gripping a pipe spewing flame. Add a canister and a nozzle and you could make it portable. A new type of weapon, one people would pay through the nose for. He opened one eye and glanced at the man who had given him the idea, smiling earnestly. He could picture it now, the flamethrower.

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david_mcnee_05 John_Baggins

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