The bright lights of the stage flashed across the broken armor of the skeletal knight, only overshadowed by the flaming tears that dripped from his eye sockets. He reached out, steel plates creaking as he took the mic into his frigid grasp.
“Good evening, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to another exciting evening of Doomstar! Last week, we saw the elimination of the Insidious Five, whose half-baked attempt to summon a fire colossus ended up calling forth the king of demons, Axazthraphoxus.”
A giant serpent curled around another mic, pulling it up to one of its seven female heads. “He didn’t like their plan any more than we did either, pulling them down into the netherrealm to spend eternity writhing in the offal of the condemned. That meant that only one team remains, and if it can crush the forces of the little duchy of Gural, they will be our newest Doomstars!”
A cloud of mist floated around the third mic, blood dribbling from the eyes of the audience as the creature’s horrid, rasping voice spoke. “Gural has daunted most of the Doomstars already, failing to fall before the siege engines of the Clutch of Pain or the withering magical curses of the Banshees of the Wand. Let’s see if our last contestants can’t do better! And now…The Vile Legion!”
A blond man and a cat woman came to the stage, met with cheers and whistles from the damned crowd, wilted flowers and ancient undergarments yellowed with rot flying onto the stage. Those increased when a crumbling golem crept onto the stage, wobbling on crutches and waving to the crowd.
When the roar died down, the knight glared at them. “So, you think you can do this?”
The man moved forward. “You bet, Bob. We give 110% every time, no matter how possible that is. Just gotta go out there and give it your best. Take it one match at a time. No “I” in team. At the end of the day, it’s all about the fans, we brought our A game, we’re going to use this win as a stepping stone, we got served.”
The cloud of mist fell upon him, his skin hissing as it boiled away from his bones. When it pulled away, an image of the man’s face writhing in agony appeared in the smoke for one terrifying moment, then was gone. The smog pulled away from the remaining viscera and bone matter, floating to his seat.
The cloud spoke. “With the accidental death of your most supportive teammate, how do you suppose you will go on today?”
The Golem wobbled to the front of the stage. “We have a plan, one that’s going to knock your socks off. We’ve got an ancient evil.”
A red sigil appeared above them, a skull with spears through both eyes. The multi-headed woman and knight both turned to the cloud. The serpent woman spoke. “Sleshrathal, they haven’t even started. Hold your vote at least until they’ve done something.”
A thousand chuckles came from its murky depths. “Ancient evil? I’m bored already. Why not just have an evil king or mad scientist with a laser, if that’s all the work you intend to do?”
The knight shook his head, turning back to the group. “Are you ready?”
The cat woman smiled, but kept eyeing the pile of shredded flesh that had been their teammate. “We’re ready.”
The back of the stage opened up to a field filled with the defenders of Gural spread out in front of their town. A man on horseback moved back and forth in front of them, shouting.
The serpent woman squinted to watch as the Vile Legion ran toward the line. “It looks like Lance the Mighty is giving a rousing speech to his army. Let’s cross our fingers the words don’t give them too much hope against the Legion’s plans today.”
Sleshrathal grumbled, thunder shuddering through his form. “If they can’t even haunt the dreams of their prey, harrowing their every thought with despair and terror, then I don’t think they have much to accomplish, today.”
Bob the Knight turned to him. “These kids just might surprise you.”
Sleshrathal watched as a huge pit lined with magical abominations ripped open on the field, nameless horrors from beyond time and space leaping out from it.