Leila and Azmal desperately fought against the deadly Nest assassin, Blackfire, though the tide slowly turned to their disfavor. The gap of skill and power grew more apparent with each blade swing from the black leathered assailant. With a swift swoop, Azmal felt agonizing pain as two curved blades dug into his chest, the searing black flames from the kukris seared even the tiefling. Leila would face the assassin all alone, the promise of death loomed over her as Blackfire approached closer and closer. Can Zeke make it in time to save his comrades? 

Episode 18/Other Anthology Episodes

The distant sound of alarms continued along the Central Didact builing, headquarters of the Inquisitors. Leila stared down with her blades drawn at the black cloaked assassin. The limp and unconscious body of the tiefling Azmal laid on the stone floor, Blackfire had his curved daggers ready to strike again. Blackfire did not show any sign of fatigue or exhaustion, for Leila that was the case, her muscles were already burning and aching. Nevermind the extreme heat from the rogue’s black flames that continued to dance along his curved daggers.

“You fought well, but in the end, all shall become sacrifices to the flame.” Blackfire spoke, approaching closer to Leila who had her guard up still. A futile effort, her mind told her, but her heart would not relent.

Leila charged full sprint at the black cloaked warrior, the longer blade leading a powerful thrust. Blackfire flipped his curved dagger and met the swordwoman’s blade with his own, the strike was deflected. Blackfire noticed in time to block the downward stab of Leila’s dagger in her off-hand. The bracers locked for a moment before the rogue flipped his own dagger, using the inverted blade curve to his advantage. A deep gash went across Leila’s arm, the dagger fell to the ground, the excruciating pain was too much for her to keep her grip.

“Not a bad feint, but not good enough.” Blackfire mocked.

Leila kept her distance, her blade provided that much protection. But it would not take much for Blackfire to close the gap, her range of motion was limited compared to smaller blades as well.

This was it, she thought. Her breathing slowed as she allowed her senses to become attuned to their surroundings, she let her will guide her blade for the next and possibly last strike. It may not be enough to slay the rogue, but it would leave a mark on him, one to remember. Her eyes could see the point for her blade to pierce, she leveled her footing so that she could dodge the next couple of blows, just long enough to land a strike.

Blackfire took note of Leila’s change in stance, unlike before he cautiously approached to shorten the distance between them. There of stillness, each focused on the other, by now the building should be largely empty of Inquisitors as they went out to respond to a distress that was caused from Blackfire and Zeke’s earlier clash.  Urgency took hold on Blackfire as he lunged forward with his twinned curved daggers trailing behind him, his visage became a blur of shadow and blade as he unleashed a flurry of strikes on the swordswoman. Leila did not use her blade to parry but instead focused on ducking and weaving through the assassin’s strikes, she simply needed to be paitent for her opening.

There it was, a spot made apparent by the magic latent within her. It was not or never, Leila plunged her blade into the rogue’s right chest, though for a second Blackfire managed to turn just enough to lessen the impact. But it was still a grevious blow, one that would not prove fatal but would leave a mark. Unfortunately, Leila knew the strike would leave her vulnerable and saw the glimmer of black flame and blade coming to her face.

A metallic hand grabbed the assassin’s wrist in midstrike, Leila’s eyes widen once the unknown visage became clear. The young man’s brown hair had turned blondish, charged with arcane power, on one side of his face was an eye of unknown origin, it was not natural. Part of his cloak had been burnt and tattered, enough that the sleeves revealed a metallic arm where the shoulder met all the way down to his hands. She did not think she would see him again, but there he was, silent and calm as he stared at the masked rogue.

“You made it, how unfortunate.” Blackfire sneered, he jumped up into the air and used the momentum to kick Zeke’s head, but the young man turned and released his grip on the rogue’s wrist.

Zeke continued to glare down at the assassin, eyes full of murderous intent. He stood between Leila and Blackfire, his back toward her as he flexed his metallic arm and in his right hand was the dagger that Leila had dropped prior.

“You alright,” Zeke inquired without turning back to Leila.

“I’ve felt better,” Leila returned. She returned to her guard, uncertain of the visage of her fellow accomplice.

Blackfire shifted his stance, preparing for the assault from the young warrior. Behind the assassin, the light of divine arcana flared as words of prayer were spoken into the hallway. A duo of familiar Inquisitors stood over the formerly unconscious tiefling, the blonde haired Veras knelt with a hand extended on Azmal, while his brooding counterpart stood guard over them.

“Tch, this has gone on long enough. You will all become sacrifices for the darkness flames!” Blackfire bellowed and black flames began to engulf the rogue, his menancing laugh was all that was heard as the flames road and became a thunderous explosion.

Once the smoked cleared, the spot that Blackfire had stood became black like ash and soot. The smell of sulfur and brimstone filled the air, Leila had thought she was doomed and perplexed in her living status. But Zeke’s form stood firmly in place, his metallic arm extended and this odd eye glowing with arcane power. On the other end of the hallway, Veras and Azmal remained untouched as the towering bodyguard had created a shield made of divine light against the unholy flames.

“So that explains it all,” Veras assessed once the smoke settled. “You’re one of them, aren’t you? What is your number.”

Zeke remained silent for several seconds, Leila continued to look at the both of them, uncertain as to what the Inquisitor meant and what it could mean for the young warrior.

“Zero,” Zeke replied blankly.

“You never cease to amaze me, do you?” Veras said with a coy smile. The blonde inquisitor eyed the three of them, and sighed in diasppointment.  “I suggest you all leave before the rest of the Inquisitors return.”

Leila looked at Veras perplex. “Why?”

“Though you did commit the crime of stealing the Eye of Ashara, in light of the circumstances and due to its recovery, I think we can overlook this oversight of the Law. Considering, we have one of the Subjects present as well. I do not think myself and my friend are enough to combat against the likes of him, so I would rather risk harming him or imposing extensive injuries on myself either.” Veras replied, his eyes bequeathed a measure of wisdom and authority.

Zeke eyed the red-eyed Inquisitor, his eye no longer seared with pain and the metallic arm was still pristine even after dealing with the rogue’s black flames. But another confrontation would be not be advantageous to either side, the young warrior knew better and silently nodded at Veras with acknowledgement. Leila took the cue and quickly went to grab the semi-conscious tiefling, pulling his arm over his shoulder while dragging him along towards the hallway where Zeke stood. Once past, the young warrior carefully retreated with them.

“You must quite a tale” Veras shouted down the hallway.

Zeke turned with his human eye looked over at the young Inquisitor, “a tale of sorrow and hate.” The warrior faded behind the stone corner, the two Inquisitors stood over the burnt wreckage and made themselves scarce before the regments returned.

The trio made their way a safehouse that Leila knew, it had some beds and several tables. Azmal was still badly injured, luckily the hideout had plenty of medical supplies while Leila nursed the tiefling through the night. Zeke stood vigil, staring into the moon rich night sky with only memories full of pain and sorrow.

Alright thanks for reading! Tune in to the last segement for the Subject Zero anthology coming soon! Please like, comment, and share this story. If you want to stay updated with me, please follow me on Facebook and Twitter. We have an Instagram for behind-the-scenes Team BAJA D&D campaign goodies and board game stuff. If you want to help us out, we have a donate button above, every little bit helps. If you want to get in contact with me, you can email me at archmage@deathbymage.com. Thanks again and see you soon!