A/N After a long hiatus and a semester of hell, I'm back. Ya-hoo. This is very short, but I just wanted to put something up there. More coming soon to a computer near you.

Chapter EightDetour

Naked. Again.

That just plain old sucked.

Malaka managed to drag his weary, emaciated form to a sitting position. His legs simply refused to move. Through half-shut eyes, he managed to make out a rocky, red, featureless plain extending on and on and on forever and ever and ever… A red sun hung torpidly above his head, gloomy as one of the condemned, grudgingly surrendering its light to this…


I'm naked…in the Abyss. Malaka frowned, brow creasing with a single line. Naked…in the Abyss. He was having a serious problem ramming that thought through his skull.

"What the…?" Malaka whipped his head around at woman's airy voice. The pale, slender female was lying to his right, infuriatingly still clothed in shades of red. Her weapons were gone, though. Malaka supposed his were too; after all, he was naked. In the Abyss.

A deep, rumbling laugh fell on the bewildered assassin from above like a torrent of acid rain. "Ah…my lovelies are awake, are they? So cute together." The mocking imitation of a kind mother did not go over well with Malaka. His frown deepened. This might be worse than being naked. In the Abyss. Of course, that was if there actually was anything worse than being…well, that.

The woman –genasi?- leapt to her feet, shouting something, but Malaka wasn't paying attention, because his eyes were as wide as the sun above (with roughly the same color) as he recalled exactly what had happened. Tower. Magic. Scroll. Shadows? Elves. Elves! Damn elves. Demon? Damn. This demon. I hate demons. But the strong feelings faded almost immediately. It all seemed…long ago, though. As if it didn't matter anymore.

The glabrezu, dripping with all sorts of strange fluids and snorting with laughter, landed directly in front of the assassin, shaking the ground. He tried to scramble up, but his legs shot screams of pain into his brain, and the dark elf collapsed, shaking.

"Shattered," wheezed the demon. "I barely had to twitch." It clacked its pincers together, and a guttural sound that might've passed for a laugh in Vhaeraun's worst nightmares escaped the beast's doglike maw.

Malaka stopped listening to the rest of the taunts, old habits returning with a vengeance. Spells. Spells? No. I have no good spells. Nothing to defeat a glab with. And I'm naked. That's not helping. So all I'm left with is…

He turned to the woman, who was staring in horror at the demon. "Pst!" hissed Malaka. He jerked his head towards the glabrezu. "Kill it!"

"You kill it," she retorted.

Malaka gestured at his body. "In case you haven't noticed…"

"There's nothing to notice," she snapped at him irritably, and the assassin winced. Ouch.

"Fine," he said with a huff. I'll just have to do all of this on my own, then. Insolent bitch. Of course, Malaka knew he was going to die. It didn't bother him. He was an assassin, expecting this outcome at every turn, knowing that someday his own shadows would catch up with him. Better being sent to the Masked Lord's side than facing torture at this fat dog's pincers. And so, Malaka closed his eyes, and incanted.

The glabrezu noticed what he was doing at the last minute, and jeered at the drow, but Malaka didn't notice. He was too deep in concentration.

A slim blue door opened in the air, right in front of him. Malaka couldn't drag himself to it, but he didn't need to; the assassin simply reached forward and stuck a finger into the dimensional door. There was a sucking noise, and he hurtled forward as fast as time and space could take him.

And appeared right where he wanted to. On the glabrezu's head.

The demon was too surprised to even do anything, merely ogling the bundle on its maw. Malaka met its eyes, shrugged lamely, and plunged a finger deep into one glowing red orb.

The dog demon howled in an insane fury, reeling back, mouth snapping desperately at Malaka, scratching the taut skin of his stomach, but the assassin was laughably too close for the glabrezu to effectively lean down at sink its teeth in to, and the drow had a death hold on the insides of one ruined eye.

But it was not enough. As he'd known. The demon crushed one of Malaka's ankles in one of its pincers, and dangled the drow upside down in front of its slavering maw, growling. "I'm go- uugh."

That was as far as the glab got in its threat, for there was a red-clad woman attached to his back, arms squeezing about his throat. The creature's second pincer leapt up to its throat, trying to snag one of the genasi's arms. It opened its mouth to snarl some curse or the other, revealing a stereotypically rotten, pink maw filled with sharp, yellowed canines dripping with saliva.

Almost casually, Malaka leaned out, grabbed a tooth blackened with rot, and yanked. It came free with a snap.

A curiously high pitched yelp, not unlike a hound's, escaped the glab's throat. It finally managed to grab the genasi and hurl her away into the Abyss, but dropped Malaka carelessly as its normal hands went to its wounded mouth. Black blood poured from the wound the assassin had inflicted. Malaka lay discarded, underneath the demon. He looked up, and grinned as his expectations were confirmed.

He'd heard of evil Lolthite rituals involving glabrezu; female students would let themselves be taken by the demons, who would fill them with infernal seed. Malaka, being a student of logic, had surmised that the glabrezu were therefore…male. Lying underneath one, he could see he was right.

Raising the broken tooth in his hand, the assassin glanced at the sharp point, and surmised there was only one logical thing to do. He plunged up.

The demon's scream was the most unearthly, pained thing Malaka could remember listening to, like an orchestra of rotten, detuned instruments being flattened by an avalanche of glass. Black fluid drenched his hand, but Malaka gritted his teeth and held on, twisting his makeshift weapon. The demon convulsed, arms jerking and flailing this way and that. Finally, with a doglike whine, it toppled backwards, panting heavily.

Malaka dragged himself away from under the mess, covered in blood and liquid. But a pleased white grin adorned his face. Ha. I earned that title of Master.

The glabrezu was still breathing, but it was motionless, likely in a stupor. Malaka nodded solemnly; he could easily understand why the demon was in that state. He also suspected that it wouldn't last. Grimly, he began to haul himself forward on his arms, going…wherever. Away from here.

"Is it dead?" The woman was back, stalking warily towards the demon's body.

"Absolutely not," said Malaka, wishing that he'd spent more time training with Tebryn. If he'd swung some swords a bit more often, perhaps his arms could've-

"Where do you think you're going?"

"Who cares? Away from here."
"Yeah. Into another demon's cozy little home, maybe."
Malaka sighed. "This is the Abyss, woman. A place of magic. If I somehow stumble upon a portal, I can use my own ability to open and operate it."

"And how do you plan to find a portal?"

Malaka shrugged, stopping his movement to turn on his back towards the pale woman. "I'll drag myself over one eventually?"
"Wrong answer," she said. She eyed him with an expression of disgust in pale eyes. "It takes some skill to find a portal."
"I have…some skill."
"Bet you I have more." She laughed. "I won't be seeing you again, drow."
Malaka almost let her go, but a desperate idea came to him. "Wait! Wait, damn your pale skin." She stopped, eyebrows raised.

"Well? I really don't have all day."

"You might be able to find a portal. But can you use it?"

She shrugged. "I can use wands, scrolls. What's a portal to me?"
Malaka laughed grimly. "Oh, much, much more. It would be hard to operate a normal portal, but this…this is the Abyss, and you're going to need a different breed of power to travel." I have no idea if that's at all true, but let's see. "Take me. You find a portal, I'll activate it, and we'll get out of here."

"You think I'm stupid? I've been to a place so full of portals not even your drow ego could match it in size."
"And I'm betting you had a mage open all of those."
"I'm a good observer, and a quick learner."
Malaka shrugged. "If you want to risk it. Fine. Go." He resumed dragging himself away.


Malaka grinned.