How we think the fight will go
The apartment building didn’t look like much, no different than the dozen other buildings in the neighbourhood, but this one felt different to Raylene Pendle—or, as the criminal world knew her, Cheshire Red, vampire and world-renowned thief. Adrenaline surged through her veins and the apartment towered over her, daring her to make a play, to crack open the nut of its defenses and taste the sweet meat within.
In this case, the meat was a small object coveted by a very powerful man, Al Annon. He was a man with a strange accent, a deep bank account, and an even deeper desire to get his hands on a small bag of stones. Those stones were locked safely away in the dark building.
Raylene looked once more at the building, smirked, then faded into the shadows of the alley and sprung lightly up onto the fire escape of the opposite building.
Astride his Northland Bat, the Dagda Mor circled slowly above the human city, watching the girl. She lurked in the shadows, thinking herself hidden, but mere darkness could not hide her from the demon’s magic. The Dagda Mor gripped its Staff of Power in skeletal hands, feeling its magic throb like a living thing. The girl was a tool, a piece of the puzzle that he would use to finally acquire a magic that had eluded him for thousands of years–the only magic more powerful than his.
The demon watched the girl climb up the zig-zagging metal ladders and platforms, reaching the top of the building and then effortlessly leaping across the gap to the other. She took one quick glance around the rooftop, never looking towards the sky, then knelt before the door. In a moment, the door popped open and the girl disappeared inside. The Dagda Mor waited.
The moon had barely moved from its place in the sky when the girl re-appeared through the same door, quietly closing it behind her. The Demon dropped from its bat mount and plummeted to the alleyway below. It landed without and sound and melted into the shadows, waiting for the girl as she clambered expertly down the metal ladders.
Raylene lowered herself from the final ladder and stopped, searching the corners of the alley, the presence of a malevolent magic screaming at her.
“I know you’re there,” she said. “I can feel you. Smell you.
“You want this?” She pulled out a little bag from her pocket. It glowed a fierce blue. Then she laughed.
The Demon seemed to coalesce from the very air, the shadows knitting together into a man-shaped beast. Even with hunched shoulders, it towered over her, easily seven feet tall. Tufts of green hair, like saw-grass, sprouted over its entire body. Its eyes were darker even than the shadows on that moonless night.
“Come on!” said the girl, a smile on her lips, all confidence and trying to buy herself some time. “Can’t we work this out. You look like a stand-up guy. A charmer. Come on.”
She was shuffling backwards as she spoke, trying to put as much ground between herself and the demon as possible. Raylene was tough—and Red was tougher—but you avoid a scrap with a seven-foot demon whenever given the chance. The bag she had stolen from the building was a burning presence in her left pocket.
The demon leaped at her, swinging its green-glowing staff. With preternatural speed, she ducked under its attack. It snatched out at her again, and this time she was not fast enough. The demon’s long arms gathered Raylene in and crushed her against its chest. She pushed back, but the demon’s strength was too much even for her. The thief’s lips kissed the demon’s neck and she could feel the desire to feed surging through her, and the thought of the power in the demon’s blood was intoxicating. Lost in her nature, Raylene’s teeth sunk into the flesh of the demon’s neck. Its putrid life and limitless power was like sweet nectar on her tongue. The demon went limp in her hold.
A huge beast surged down from the sky, diving at her and the demon. Raylene tumbled to the floor under its weight and the demon was thrown into the shadows, its staff skittering away. The bat lunged at Raylene, its claws like razors, stapling her to the ground. Its mouth darted down, fangs bared and eager to rip the vampire’s throat from her exposed neck.
But the bite never came.
The bat drew back, gimlet eyes staring at Raylene. Its head quirked to the side and–dammit–the beast seemed to consider her, to measure her. Raylene’s vampiric blood sang, calling out to the great bat. Pleading. Commanding.
With a furious beat of its leathery wings, the bat launched into the air and landed on a fire escape. The metal crunched under its weight, threatening to collapse. Its screech filled the small alley, smashing at the brick walls, rattling the fire escapes and dumpsters. Far above, a window shattered. The bat’s cry died down and the tinkling sound of raining glass filled the void it left. The bat fled into the night.
But it was too late for Cheshire Red.
The Dagda Mor picked itself up from the ground, content to let its steed feast on the girl. The demon gathered the Staff of Power from where it lay in a pile of refuse and human detritus. The Staff’s power surged through its body, the magic feeding the demon’s own insatiable hunger. The demon’s pleasure was broken by the piercing cry of its mount.
The bat had fled the alley. It was the first time in thousands of years that one of the Dagda Mor’s minions had broken away from the demon’s iron-tight control.
The girl was struggling to her feet, her pathetic body straining under its wounds, but there was a power resonating under those struggles, a strength that terrified the Dagda Mor.
Wasting no time, and not wishing to face the girl on even terms—if that was even a remote possibility—the Dagda Mor lifted the Staff of Power and the green light of its magic filled the alley as a fiery blast disintegrated the girl. Her cry filled the night. Soon she was nothing but a pile of ashes.
In those ashes, unharmed even by the powerful magic of the Staff of Power, were three blue stones. The Dagda Mor scooped them up and disappeared into the dark night.
Special thanks to Aidan Moher from A Dribble of Ink, who contributed to this write-up
Predicted Winner: The Dagda Mor
NOTE: THIS MATCH ENDS ON THURSDAY, MARCH 8th, 2012, AT 5 PM, EST
Raylene image courtesy of Spectra Books. The Dagda Mor image courtesy of Del Rey Books
Cage Match fans: We are looking forward to hearing your responses! If possible, please abstain from including potential spoilers about the books in your comments (and if you need spoilers to make your case, start your comments with: “SPOILER ALERT!”