Roland: The Beginning of A Nightmare

I gripped my sword tightly. "What was that?"

Vilki gritted her teeth. "The guardian of this maze."

Derrick turned to Delta. "Are you sure you can't sense anything else?

Delta closed his eyes as he concentrated. "It's coming fast. We only have a minute or two to prepare ourselves."

Derrick switched his attention to Vilki. "Do you remember this creature's weaknesses?"

"If it's the same one, then its hide is impenetrable. It has acute hearing, smell, and sight. The trick is to find the chinks in its armor. Once it is defeated, an opening should appear in the wall, leading to the next maze."

Derrick nodded. "Very well. Ulther, you and I will-"

"Should you really be the one to give orders on how to fight this beast?" Ulther interrupted. Derrick stared at him, surprised by his impudence.

"Now is hardly the time to question my authority! Unless you would rather lead the assault?" The insructor blinked in surprise at the question and I smiled when he lowered his head slightly.

"What do you suggest?"

Derrick nodded and began giving out orders. Ulther and Derrick were to draw the creature attention, with Vilki on hand in case they were injured. Meanwhile, Artorius and I would sneak behind it and attack. Dividing its attention between two fronts might give us an advantage. I had just turned invisible and pressed myself to the wall when the maze guardian appeared. My eyes widened and my breath froze in my lungs. Rough plates covered its entire body with small gaps at the joints. Glinting in the cavernous confines of its mouth were two rows of sharp teeth. Its head just reached the top of the maze and its loping gait brought it closer by the second.

"It was not that large before." Vilki said quietly as another roar resounded through the maze.

"Our combined efforts should prove sufficient." Derrick replied, though I did not like the slight note of uncertainty in his voice. His hands began to glow in anticipation, but to all of our surprise the thing stopped short. Beady black eyes bored into the physician.

"Vilki?" The voice that spoke sounded like a cross between that of Nox' and something out of a nightmare. Its outline flickered briefly.

"What is going on?" Derrick looked to Vilki for an explanation, but she seemed to be at a loss.

Delta spoke up. "It's Nox! He is trying to protect her."

"Do you think he will succeed?"

"I cannot be certain, but-"

Before he could finish that sentence, the monster lunged at them.

The End

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