Ivan held his dagger steady as he stared at the shadowy figure on the slanted room. A lupine head stared back with yellow eyes, a pallid figure that blended in with the snow falling in flurries around them. Ivan knew he was in trouble as the tail of the creature was easily fifteen feet in length, and the hand crossbow he had was hanging from his belt, a single opium-and-holy water syringe dart preloaded for situations just like this.
“Nothing to say Raven?” The Beast mocked, letting go of the chimney slide partially down the slanted roof, clawed feet tearing up the thatched surface. “I’m not surprised; the last encounter I had with your kind it was a full Flight.”
The Beast motioned to a belt that was barely visible against its ivory hide, revealing a series of skulls hanging loosely from a belt of toughened hide. There were, at least, twelve such skulls, each with a carved sigil on the forehead. The creature ran a clawed finger over three skulls almost lovingly.
“They put up quite the fight though in the end they were hardly a match for me,” the Beast smiled. It knew it had the upper hand and was enjoying the way it had Ivan on the ropes. If there was one thing that all Demons had in common it was their desire to consume the fear that their prey gave off.
Ivan was fighting the supernatural effects the demon was exuding to make him more afraid. He’d dealt with these before, and had always come out ahead.
The two stared at each other for several moments before bursting into action. The Beast turned, lashing with its barbed club-like tail while Ivan leaped from the snow to roll to the side. The tail smashed with an explosion of snow as the three-inch barbs dug into the flagstone beneath the downy cover the snow had coated the village in.
Ivan during his mid-roll had pulled his hand crossbow, taking careful aim as his back hit the snow. The Beast’s eyes widened as he realized he was caught out of position, its tail extended fully and it standing precariously on a rooftop. Ivan smiled as he fired the bolt at the milky hide of the demon, crowing with excitement as it struck the creature between the ribs.
The Beast howled in agony as the syringe whirred, pumping the payload into the monsters body in a matter of seconds. It yanked the bolt from its side, tossing it off of the roof before placing a hand over the wound, which was bleeding viscous black ooze. His tail lashed back up to coil protectively around him, but the effects of the dangerous cocktail pumping into its system. Black veins began to spread out from the wound, the holy water collapsing muscle tissue as the opium numbed the body and slowed the reflexes. Ivan took the chance to pull another dart and load it into his crossbow, eyes never leaving the burning yellow orbs of the Beast.
The demon snarled before ripping a skull from its belt. “You think you’re clever human? Well here, deal with one of your own!”
And with that, he flung the skull down to the soft snow in front of Ivan. Slowly, the rune carved into the forehead began to shine brightly as snow and dust swirled around the skull, which rose from the ground as a body began to form. Slowly but surely packed ice and frost created a humanoid body with which the skull, now alight with an unholy blue flame, sat atop. Letting out a pained screech, it lunged forward, arms outstretched, icicle fingers sharpened like miniature rapiers.
Ivan brought his dagger to his defense, swinging the heavy-handed weapon into the forearm of the snowman. The blow did almost nothing, the blade sinking a few inches only to collide with what felt like bone. The snowman in return latched onto Ivan’s shoulder, piercing fingers digging deep into his clavicle, blood pouring freely from the wound in the frigid night air. Ivan kicked the snowman in the stomach, a mistake as he found his leg to be stuck in the monstrosity’s midsection, the snow pressing down on his leg to prevent it from moving.
Hopping on one foot, Ivan swung his knife into the arm holding onto his shoulder once more, striking the same spot in hopes of breaking whatever bone the creature had formed from the raw materials it had around it. He gave a pained smile as his dagger sank deeper into the arm, lodging in the “bone” of the abomination. The skull let out a wail that made Ivan’s head spin before leaning forward to try and bite at Ivan’s chilled skin.
Leaning back, Ivan forced the snowman to push him to the ground, the fluffy mound of snow breaking his fall. Wriggling his dagger further into the arm, Ivan grabbed the other arm and pushed him back to prevent the head from snapping at his face. Struggling with him, the snowman had little in the way of strength beyond whatever unholy power was fueling it. After a few moments, Ivan’s dagger severed the frozen bone in the arm connected to his shoulder, allowing him the chance to use his dagger on the skull.
One quick jab into the temple of the skull killed the green flames radiating from the calcified bone, proving that even in death certain blows were too much to withstand. Pushing the collapsing snowman off of him, Ivan scrambled to grab his hand crossbow where it had fallen, only to realize the demon had fled during the brief encounter.
Father Donovan came jogging up, pushing snow out of the way with his powerful strides to reach Ivan where he lay in the street. The heavily dressed man called out to him, causing Ivan to wince as he looked to the side to see him.
“I saw it, flying overhead. By God you were right, there is something foul in our midst!” Father Donovan exclaimed.
“Yeah, I got it with a dart full of holy water. I got about twelve of those left, more than enough to take it down,” Ivan said as he got up, one hand going to his clavicle. It wasn’t broken, but the icicles had torn through his armor as if it were paper, leaving bloody holes. Pressing down on the wound to staunch the blood flow, Ivan looked to the Priest with a grimace.
“I hate to ask, but could you help me out here? I need to get stitched up and have some medicine applied to these wounds,” Ivan said, holding out a bloody palm as evidence of his injuries.
“By God, you’re injured! Yes, yes, of course, let’s get you to the Church where it’s safe!”