The philosopher-knight stepped into the passage, and it closed behind him. Tibi was plunged into darkness. Having lost his matches with his pack, Tibi stumbled along the passageway in the dark with only his fuzzy remembrance of Schwann castle schematics to guide him. While his mind churned, his body tingled with an exuberant feeling of relief. From far away, muffled by walls and distance he heard an inhuman scream. The walls rattled with the demon’s words:
“You are a clever one, mortal. I can smell you crawling around in the walls like a rat.”
The tunnel began to slope upwards, and again Tibi felt relief. It meant he went the right way. He was going to the castle’s keep. He heard a bang echo loudly down the passage behind him, and his stomach flipped with the knowledge that a demon was now in the passage.
“Did you really think a wall would keep me out, Knight? Human construction crumbles to dust under my claws.”
Tibi’s helmet clunked against a wall in front of him: a dead end.
No, not a dead end; his hands found a ladder and he released a joyous outtake of breath. He was nearly at the keep now and he flew up the ladder, taking the rungs three at a time while the demon raved somewhere behind him.
“I can see the oily handprints of the craftsmen who built this place, Knight. They cover every surface here. They were oozing with fear while they built this place; I can smell and see fear, you know. I’ve never told anyone that before. I’m going to kill you.”
Tibi forced the trapdoor open and rolled into the castle keep. Muttering words of speed and precision, Tibi slammed the trapdoor shut and looked around the room. The object he came here for wasn’t hard to spot, amongst the greatest treasures of the castle... but now was not the time.
His eyes passed over a hulking hunk of metal in the corner of the room, a beautiful, lifesaving, miraculous working of steel and magic. It looked vaguely like an unrealistically large and elegantly crafted suit of armor, but with artistic and elegant curves to its pieces that added too much weight and would expose too much of the body to be functional . Tibi could see small flickers of magic running along shallow ridges throughout the creation. It was a Taskling, Tibi knew, smiling. It would make sense for the Schwann builders to have one last weapon in their arsenal. After all, the Keep is the final stand of any castle battle. The nobles and leaders would have no doubt crowded into this room, cowering behind this mighty guardian as the soldiers climbed in one by one.
"I've got the smell of you, Knight. I will be able to smell it on your kin. After I torture and kill you I will hunt your loved ones and do the same! Your bloodline will be extinguished, welp!"
Making Tasklings required a great deal of time, effort, and mastery to get perfect. To be functional, a Taskling was required to know what to do in a great deal of situations, and the magical formulas for such a huge endeavor got overwhelmingly long and complicated. The magic needed to fuel such a formula for extended periods of time would be enormous. The large figure seemed to be inactive, but then Tibi touched its smooth metal surface.
At once the huge steel husk roared to life, sporadic lines of tiny magic writing bursting forth and writhing along its surface, disjointed metal fists swinging wildly into the air, blinding light beaming from the eye-sockets of its helmet and a loud electric hum shaking the air before it and ringing in Tibi's ears. The two big fists clanked deafeningly around a nearby greatsword and lifted it into the air with a deadly professionalism. Tibi stood amazed, unable to look away from the spectacular sight of the runic warrior. He wasn't entirely sure that it wouldn't murder him on the spot.
The trapdoor behind him slammed open and the Bower demon shot fluidly into the Keep, latching itself to the ceiling. Its fiery eyes focused on Tibi.
"Good, I thought you had killed yourself. That would not have been any fun."
The Taskling next to Tibi asked quietly, in the language of the Schwann people, in a voice crackling with enery, "Kill it?"
"Yes." Tibi replied.