• Published 25th May 2015
  • 635 Views, 51 Comments

The Sword of the Helpless - albedoequals1

Brownie Sundae is a simple mercenary. She does her job and keeps her promises. All she wants is to find employment that won't leave a bad taste in her mouth, but when gods and devils conspire to create havoc, what can one pony do?

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Chapter 11: Descent

“This isn’t the way we came before,” Trixie said, breaking the silence. “We’ve been walking at least an hour.”

Shh! They’ll hear us!” Perfida hissed.

“She’s right,” Brownie admitted, keeping her voice low, “dis isn’t da way we came before, but at dis point, da only way to keep from gedding more lost is to keep turning right.” The sword in her mouth garbled her speech a little, but Shadow seemed to understand.

“Are you sure?” he said. “We’re going deeper.”

Brownie nodded. “As long as we always turn right, we’ll get to effry part of da maze eventuwy. Odderwise, we could go da same way ofer and ofer and not know it.”

What if we go through a part of the maze that’s already occupied?” Perfida objected, still whispering.

“Den we’re s—“ Brownie glanced at the two colts that were still glued to Trixie. “—ort of in trouble,” she finished awkwardly.

The tunnel ahead opened into a large chamber. Even with three light sources and Perfida’s darkvision, the other side of the chamber was hidden in the murky distance.

“Follow the right-hoof wall,” Brownie instructed and began to do so.

After walking for two minutes, they had passed the back wall and were moving back towards the entrance of the cavern. Brownie held up a hoof to signal a halt, ears twitching agitatedly. She turned her head to face the others, but kept her ears pointed forwards. “I fink I hear somefing else moving in here. Can we hide?”

Trixie whispered back, “I could cast invisibility on—“

I SEE YOU,” a terrible voice spoke in all their heads. “YOU ARE ALL DEAD.

An explosion of fire illuminated the cavern, revealing the horned devil standing in the middle. Small spot fires broke out in numerous locations as the heat wave ignited organic debris on the floor and walls. He uncoiled his spiked chain and twirled it threateningly.

Perfida and the colts burst out crying, and Trixie didn’t look far from joining them.

“Stop id, we’re not dead yet,” Brownie reprimanded the succubus. “Trissie, get the foals out of here. I’ll try to keep him busy.”

“We’ll keep him busy,” Shadow corrected.

Brownie gave Shadow a black-toothed grin and ran towards the monster, holding her sword out to the side. As she came in range, the devil swung his chain at her head, but she blocked it with her sword. The chain wrapped around the blade several times and tangled against itself.

“Hah!” Brownie gloated.

HAH!” The devil responded. It gave the chain a sharp jerk, shattering the sword into several small pieces, and leaving Brownie holding a hilt with only two inches of blade left. Brownie stared cross-eyed at the remnant of the weapon for a moment before spitting it out.

Perfdia pulled herself together enough to imbue Shadow’s arrows with the power of good once again and he took to the air to get a better shot.

“Take this, ugly!” His arrow bounced off the devil’s thick hide harmlessly, but he succeeded in drawing its attention.

“Grab my cape in your teeth,” Trixie told the colts in a shaky voice, “and don’t let go no matter what.” As soon as they obeyed, her horn flared and all three of them vanished.

The foe swung his weapon at Shadow. The griffon tried to dodge, but the chain hit him across the back, breaking his left wing and puncturing his leather armor easily. Shadow fell like a sack of rocks, his bow and most of his arrows scattering over the floor.

Before the devil could retract its weapon for another attack, Brownie leapt over Shadow’s prone form and grabbed the middle of the chain in her teeth. One of the spikes sunk into her neck, but her adamantine jaws cut through the metal chain like it was celery.

The monster glared at Brownie and threw away the half-length chain. It shouted in a language that Brownie didn’t understand.

“He’s calling friends!” Perfida translated. “Luminace, you put me here! Help us or that Unspoken person will have the last laugh!” She gasped as a wave of confidence rolled over the party. “Sorry,” she apologized meekly.

“Get up, Shadow,” Brownie urged, pushing on the griffon’s shoulder with a hoof, “we have to move. Shadow, snap out of it!”

Shadow continued to lie on the ground, curled protectively around his crippled wing. Brownie grabbed the back of his armor in her teeth and dragged him onto her back.

The devil pointed a claw at the pair and a tiny, glowing ball flew towards them. Brownie ran away from the projectile and jumped.

A giant ball of fire blossomed out from the place the devil had pointed, burning both the pony and the griffon on her back. Brownie fell to the ground and rolled, then quickly beat out the flames on Shadow’s coat.

Perfida stepped out of midair next to her and put a hoof on her back. Brownie hissed through her teeth at the pressure on her burned hide, but the pain quickly subsided. “Thanks. Help Shadow, I’ll cover you.” She adopted a wide stance and positioned herself between the devil and her companions.

Brownie felt a tug at her side and looked to see that the Sword of the Helpless had jumped nearly a foot out of its sheath and was giving off a dazzling glow. Without a second thought, she snatched the hilt in her teeth and drew it, pointing the tip at the approaching foe.

Bright blue light radiated off the blade, illuminating the whole cavern. The devil paused in its advance and observed the sword with uncertainty. It called out again, and this time was answered by another voice in the same language.

Shadow Claw had recovered from his stupor and was trying to collect his bow and arrows while Perfida followed him, trying to treat his burns.

Three screams rang out. Brownie turned to look and froze in horror. Two barbed devils stood in the entrance to the cavern, clearly visible in the light of the magic sword. A dozen feet away from them, the two colts were hiding behind Trixie, all three just as visible as the devils. Trixie’s horn was glowing brightly as she frantically and indiscriminately threw everything in her satchel at the devils.

Perfida was the first to respond. “Hey! Spike-heads! Over here!” One of the barbed devils looked at the yelling succubus and froze, paralyzed by her gaze.

Shadow fired an arrow at the other, hitting it in one leg, but only distracting it for a moment.

Trixie, having partially recovered from her surprise, conjured a force field around herself and continued to stand in front of the colts.

Two clawed hands suddenly grabbed Brownie around the neck and lifted her off the ground. She squirmed and twisted in the devil’s grasp, but couldn’t get free. The devil leered triumphantly and swung its barbed tail, stabbing her in the belly. She cried out in pain, but between the sword in her mouth and the grip on her throat, only Shadow heard her.

Shadow spun around and gasped. “Let her go!” he shouted, nocking another arrow and aiming at the horned devil’s head.

Perfida’s ears angled back but she didn’t turn her eyes away from the paralyzed devil. “May Luminace guide your aim,” she muttered.

Shadow fired. The arrow passed scant inches above Brownie’s head and hit her captor in the neck.

The monster roared and threw Brownie at the griffon, knocking him off his feet and leaving them both lying in a pile on the ground.

The barbed devil still free to act slashed at Trixie’s shield. She reeled under the onslaught, but the spell held, for the moment.

The devil Perfida held began to work free of her hold. The succubus shook with the effort of maintaining the control, but continued to stare, unblinking, at her foe.

Brownie got painfully to her feet. “Nice catch, Shadow,” she rasped. She once again pointed the magic sword at the horned devil and walked towards it. “Call off your friends,” she demanded.

The devil backed away from the sword but made no move to surrender.

Trixie’s horn brightened as she cast another spell. Dense fog flowed from her horn, obscuring her, the foals, and the closest devil from view.

Shadow fired more arrows at the horned devil, but failed to land any significant hits.

The devil stretched out a claw towards Shadow. Lightning arced from its fingers and struck the griffon, continuing onwards to strike Perfida as well. Shadow howled and writhed, but the succubus seemed to be almost completely unaffected.

Almost. She flinched back from the thunderclap and that was all the distraction the devil needed to escape her thrall. It started running towards her. She screamed and scrambled backwards, tripping over her own tail. The devil reached down to grab her with its claws, but she held up her hooves to fend it off.

The barbed devil raked the screaming succubus with its claws, but roared in pain of its own as it did so. It stepped back with a bleeding welt on its chest matching the shape of the demon’s cloven hoof. The gashes in Perfida’s sides had partially healed almost the moment they had been inflicted. She jumped up and thrust her forehoof at the devil again, cutting herself on the devil’s barbs but draining its energy whenever she touched.

Brownie advanced on the horned devil, swinging the glowing sword in sweeping strokes, but her foe backed up or sidestepped every time she got too close. The wound in her belly continued to bleed and she could feel her strength ebbing.

“What’s going on here!?”

Shadow looked up to see a bat-winged pony in decorative armor flying near the roof of the cavern. “Help us, please! We’re friends of Princess Luna!” he called back.

The thestral’s eyes widened as he observed the situation. He turned back to face the tunnel and shouted, “In here!”

The horned devil shouted in its infernal language again. The devil fighting Perfida was too busy to respond, but the devil in the cloud of mist answered and came running.

In desperation, Brownie reared up and stood shakily on her hind legs, twisting so the sword was almost behind her.

The barbed devil reached her before she could finish the maneuver. It stabbed its long claws deep into her sides and pulled her back against its spikes. Some of the longer spikes pierced all the way through the pony’s body and emerged from her chest.

Brownie threw the sword.

It spun end over end as it flew through the air, striking point-first in the center of the horned devil’s forehead. The holy weapon cut through the devil’s thick hide and bones with no resistance, only stopping when the hilt reached the monster’s face.

The barbed devil released its victim – allowing the stricken pony to slide off of the spikes and collapse on the ground – and watched as its leader stood transfixed.

The horned devil’s body began to shrink and dissolve, with parts farther from the sword going first, while the sword remained motionless, as if embedded in an invisible wall. As the remains shrunk, an invisible force started to pull the other devils, dragging them towards the sword as well. They attempted to flee, but were quickly overwhelmed by the pull and flew up to join their master in whatever world he had been sent to. For a moment, the sword hung in the air, glowing with fervent brightness, then it dimmed and clattered to the floor.

Shadow ran to where Brownie lay in a spreading pool of blood. “Perfida! Help!”

The mutilated demon struggled shakily to her hooves and limped after him. By the time she caught up, he was propping Brownie’s head up with his arms.

“You did it, Brown, the devils are gone,” Shadow said in a pained voice.

Brownie attempted to speak, but it came out as a gurgle. She spit out some blood and managed to wheeze, “Foals?”

Perfida touched her with a glowing hoof, but nothing seemed to happen.

Shadow sagged. “I…I don’t know.” He looked over his shoulder, but the mist was still there.

At the end of the tunnel, several leather wings and a tall, white pony with wings and horn watched gravely, but made no move to interfere.

Perfida tried to use her healing magic again. “It’s not working! Why isn’t it working!?” she wailed.

Brownie coughed up a gout of blood and opened and closed her mouth. Shadow leaned down to hear her whisper, “Not…your…fault.

“Brownie?” Shadow shut his eyes and held her tightly.

Perfida touched a glowing hoof to the pony’s body, but the glow did not disappear. She touched it to Shadow’s burns instead. “I’m sorry, Shadow.” No response. “She’s gone.”

“I know,” he replied huskily.