Their small frame belied their blistering strength and at once, he knew he was in for the fight of his life. Not that he was afraid of a good fight. In fact, when the enemy looked like the Bane twins, it was almost pleasurable. Man, but they sure knew how to torture a guy.
As a package they were a fierce and foreboding weapon. Individually he never knew whether to dual with them or throw them to the ground. Which was part of their charm, he supposed. Like every cliché in the book their purpose was to distract and conquer; honing in on a man’s weakness and going for the kill.
He wished he could say he was different. He wasn’t. God or not, he was in this mess because he had a weakness for a pretty face.
That didn’t mean he underestimated their fighting skills, nor was he afraid to mark that pretty skin. It wasn’t an equal fight, there were two of them after all, and this wasn’t their only form. But he had a trick or two up his sleeve.
Admittedly, his tricks weren’t as pretty as theirs. Even now their power swirled around them, as deceptive and innocent as their smiling faces. The smoky red of its energy pulsed outwards, creeping ever closer to his position. It spread across the ground, gathering in places as though eager to meld with the colour of his blood.
Behind them he could see the Almada Temple, his current goal if he was ever going to beat the curse.
“Throw down the sword and we’ll allow you to pass unhindered,” the twins said in unison.
He hated it when they did that. It was creepy. “What, you’re afraid of a little steel?”
They hissed as one, cranking up the chill factor. He hadn’t expected them to play nice, but they didn’t have to enjoy it so much.
A moment later the ground began to shake. Their power, which was currently blanketing the ground like a dense fog, flared bright and shot into him, knocking him off his feet.
The move was predictable and he was almost anxious to see the twins’ true form, that of the Amphisbaena.
A blood-curdling scream filled the air, as both heads turned in his direction. It was all for effect and didn’t faze him.
With a heady anticipation he raised his sword, and watched its reflection in the deep red sheen of the creature’s skin. The scales were deceptively soft, and as beautiful as the twins. Their faces were still human, still hypnotising if you made the mistake of looking too closely.
Shifting his gaze he put two fingers in his mouth and let out a short, sharp whistle. He didn’t wait to find out if his signal was answered, he rolled forward into the creature’s path and sprang up towards the belly of the beast.
He felt his blade take root and pulled downwards as he fell to the ground. The moment he had his footing he struck again and felt the power shoot up his arm and strike a beating rhythm in his heart.
“Now,” he shouted, and welcomed the sound of a dozen arrows whizzing past his shoulder.
The earth shook when the twins went down. They howled with frustration and the rumbling beneath his feet meant he only had a few seconds to spare. Leaping onto the dragon like body he swung his sword and with a one, two swinging arc he severed their heads.
He turned when he heard footsteps and jumped back to the ground, watching Zara’s approach with an appraising eye. A roll in the hay had cost him dearly, so he might as well enjoy the side benefit. Her self-assured gait was one of the things that had drawn him in. Had he known she was a sorceress he would have given her a wide berth.
Even now he could feel stirrings. Her long hair, the colour of sunlight was a contrast to the darkness in her soul. Her eyes were equally deceptive, a bright blue that brimmed with innocence, until the mask cleared and they were as cold and hard as ice.
He’d been bound to her for years, and now at the last hurdle, he knew she would set a trap for him. One that would seal his fate.
“Do you honour your bargain,” he said, watching the sway of her hips as she sauntered towards him.
He’d carefully positioned himself so she couldn’t see the carnage, and gloat in the face of her triumph.
“That all depends on your next performance,” she responded, turning greedy eyes to the temple.
He looked down at his feet and saw the beginnings of a fine red mist. “In all your years, I imagine you’ve never come across the Amphisbaena,” he said, watching her eyes return to him.
“Would you accept a prize for defeating the monster?” she asked, swaying closer to him.
“Perhaps I’m the prize,” he said and stepped to the left as a huge, clawed hand swiped into the air and scooped Zara from the ground.
“The thing is, to kill one you have to drive a sword straight through the heart.”
He saw Zara’s eyes grow huge as she looked into the newly formed twin faces. She was transfixed in their gaze and unable to call on her own power.
In one swift strike he jabbed his blade through her heart. Her eyes blinked in shock, burning with an anger he knew would turn the tables if he didn’t act swiftly. He brought his sword up and cut off her head as brutally has he had the twins.
For a moment the air was arid with a sulphurous stench and the plume of smoke stung his eyes.
When the dust settled the Bane twins were before him once more, and he suspected the real trouble was about to begin.