The Pilgrim entered the tower, seeing a staircase to his left and a door across the room. He assumed the door would lead down, and thus further from his goal. He headed up the stairs instead. Upon reaching the next level of the tower, it became evident where the hollow had been finding the barrels to stock its trap. There were nearly a dozen of them, all presumably filled with the same liquid the other barrel had held.
He took a closer look at the layout of the tower and realized the barrels may well have been used to drop on foes trying to besiege the tower. The stairs were designed so as to allow anyone on a higher level to have a shot on their opponent's back as they climbed the stairs. If the liquid in the barrels were flammable, it would be incredibly effective in halting their advance. The Pilgrim made note to keep open flame away from the barrels as well, just in case.
He climbed another story and noticed another of the fog gates. He had encountered several on his journey so far, and this one appeared no different. Other than that there were only more barrels. He was about to head through the gate when he heard something scrape against a barrel. Pulling the axe from his belt, he turned toward the noise ready to defend himself. He saw no immediate threat, but wasn't keen on turning his back to the noise. Experience had taught him to err on the side of caution in this cursed land.
He edged closer to where he'd heard the noise, ready to attack should any hollows try to ambush him. Suddenly something darted out from behind the barrels, and the Pilgrim lashed out with the axe. A small, yet fat lizard met its end as the axe severed its head in one powerful swing. The Pilgrim returned the axe sheepishly, feeling silly for getting so worked up over a lizard. He couldn't help but notice that it had extremely brilliant scales. They were almost extremely luminescent, even in the dim light of the tower.
The lizard had something in its mouth, which the Pilgrim was curious to see. He knelt down and removed another of the small stones he'd found in the knight's remains. Now his curiosity was piqued, and he wondered what he'd find in its stomach. He picked up the lizard's body, which was roughly the size of his forearm, and used the edge of the axe to hew it open. Another of the stones spilled out, as well as a similar stone that shined intensely in the light. He realized that the lizard must eat the stones and the minerals within were what gave its scales the wondrous sheen they held.
The Pilgrim stored the stones within the Darksign, leaving the lizard's body. He felt somewhat bad about butchering the small animal, but figured in a land such as this there were far worse fates it could have encountered. Satisfied that nothing was left in the tower of note, he made his way through the fog gate.
The battlements were on the other side, though he was dismayed when a quick glance showed him he was a story higher than the drake's bridge. He thought of turning back and finding another way, but to his surprise the fog gate remained in place. They'd always dissipated when he'd passed through them in the past, but this one actually seemed to have grown even more shrouded in the strange fog. He touched it with his hand, surprised when it stopped. He pushed and his hand sank into the fog with difficulty, trapping his hand inside when he couldn't push any further. He yanked heavily and managed to free himself.
With a sigh, he continued across the battlements to the next tower, hoping it would lead him to an exit at the lower level. It appeared the rules in this place were ever in flux, and he'd have to make do with what he had. He was halfway across the battlements when he spotted movement atop the tower ahead of him.
"Too big to be a lizard this time..." he said to himself, drawing the axe.
A large creature that looked like a cross between a bull and a man stood fully atop the tower, its gaze fixed on the Pilgrim. As it stood, the Pilgrim groaned in agony as a crossbow bolt sprouted from the right side of his chest, causing his arm to go numb and nearly causing him to drop the axe. Whirling around, he was just fast enough to dodge another bolt. Two hollows stood atop the tower he'd just come from, reloading their weapons. The battlements shook and the Pilgrim turned to see the bull demon had jumped from the tower. It howled a battle cry and charged him with a gigantic, primitive looking axe.
The Pilgrim scowled at the situation, returning the axe to his belt and retreating back toward the tower he'd come from. He braced himself, snapping the bolt in his chest and pulling it out the back. He took a quick swig from his flask as well, healing the wound and freeing his arm for purposeful use again. Unable to go back through the gate and unwilling to corner himself, he sprang toward the ladder next to the entryway and scrambled up the ladder as fast as possible. He was nearly at the top when he felt the tower shake violently, almost causing him to lose his grip. Judging by the dust he saw fly from between the mortar he assumed the bull demon had attacked the tower, possibly aiming for him although he wasn't about to turn and find out.
One of the hollows was waiting for him with sword drawn at the top of the tower. Mustering his strength, he lunged up the remaining few rungs all at once, grabbing both the top rung and the hollow's leg as it tried to stab him. He yanked on its leg, throwing it off balance so that the stab that should have killed him merely grazed his arm instead. Gritting his teeth, he redoubled the strength behind his pull and sent the hollow falling off the tower.
Before it could hit the ground, the bull demon grabbed hold of it. The Pilgrim heard the sound of bone snapping as the demon tightened its grip and tossed the hollow over the ramparts. The body sailed above the city below, dropping rapidly out of sight.
Hoisting himself onto the tower, the Pilgrim drew the axe and met the remaining hollow head on. It evidently hadn't expected him to deal with its partner so quickly, and was just pulling out its sword as the Pilgrim reached it. The hollow fell back, avoiding a swipe of the axe and stabbed at the Pilgrim in retaliation. Bringing up his shield, he bit back a curse as the hollow's blade pierced through the dented metal and into his arm behind the shield.
Fighting back the pain, he wrenched his arm and with it the hollow's sword. The Pilgrim buried the axe in the hollow's shoulder and it crumpled to the ground. Dropping the axe, he grabbed the sword and removed it from his arm with a sharp tug. He took another breath from the flask, acutely aware that there couldn't be enough for more than one more use left inside.
Taking a moment to catch his breath, the Pilgrim was somewhat relieved to see that the next tower led straight to the bridge. His examination was cut short as the demon's massive form blocked his view, landing on top of the tower with a tremendous crash.
"Gimme a break..." The Pilgrim sighed, sliding the sword into his sheath. It fit somewhat loosely, but it was snug enough that it wouldn't fall out. The Pilgrim picked up the axe and dashed forward, straight under the roaring demon's legs and dove off the tower.
The distance to the ground was slightly more than he'd anticipated, but he managed to tuck into a ball and roll upon impact. Hitting the ground knocked the wind out of him, but he was on his feet and running in seconds. The demon roared its outrage behind him, landing on the battlements again and charging toward him. Upon reaching the other tower, which also had a fog gate blocking its doorway, the Pilgrim turned to face the rabid beast that was charging toward him even now.
The demon stopped suddenly, hoisting the axe above its head and leaping toward the Pilgrim. The Pilgrim ran backwards, almost getting knocked off his feet when the axe crashed into the ground behind him. He turned quickly on his heels, rushing back toward the demon with the axe poised to strike. He slammed the axe into its leg, which he found had flesh thick enough to absorb most of the blow. Nevertheless, he hacked at it twice more before the demon raised its leg and tried to stomp on him. Diving to the side he managed to barely avoid the attack, and landed one more blow of his own.
A smile crept onto his face as he noticed blood begin to seep from the wound; he had finally cut through its thick hide. With renewed ferocity, he began his assault anew. Suddenly, the demon jumped back and brought the handle of the axe down. The Pilgrim tried to dodge, and succeeded in not being crushed outright, however some of the rocks and dust that erupted from the handle's impact blinded him momentarily. The beast picked him up while he was trying to clear his vision, and hurled him at the tower with a cry of victory.
The collision rocked the Pilgrim to his core, dulling the sensation of everything around him besides the pain. He didn't feel himself hit the ground, but he knew he must have for the sensation of falling ceased. He fumbled for the flask, slowly bringing it to his lips and breathing in. The strange feeling of his body repairing itself suffused him, restoring his strength. He wasn't one hundred percent to be sure, but he was no longer dying.
The demon seemed to believe him dead, standing over him and bellowing its triumph to the world. He'd have to be quick...
In a burst of energy, the Pilgrim leaped to his feet and recovered the fallen axe. Before the demon could react, he maneuvered himself behind it and, summoning his strength, managed to bury the axe in its heel. The demon shrieked in rage and pain, reaching for him again, but this time the Pilgrim made his escape. Running was painful, but the alternative...
The demon tried to turn, but wasn't able to support itself on the wounded leg and stumbled momentarily as it compensated. The Pilgrim didn't turn to look back at the beast; he was making for the tower ladder once more. He didn't think it would be able to jump up there again with its wound. He would be cornered of course and had no doubt that it could bring the tower down given enough time, but it would give him a moment to think.
The ground directly behind him exploded as the axe came down, knocking him off his feet. He tried to pull himself up and keep going, but the demon slid the axe toward him, severely injuring his right leg and pushing him out of range of the axe. The Pilgrim pushed himself back onto his feet. His leg screamed in agony, but he forced himself toward the tower. Sparing a glance toward the demon, he saw that it was still coming after him and closing quickly now that they were both injured.
The Pilgrim made it to the ladder only moments ahead of the demon. He grabbed hold of the metal bars and began climbing as fast as his injury would allow. The demon roared its challenge, hoisting its axe and preparing to crush the Pilgrim. The Pilgrim slowed himself at the last moment, and the axe smashed into the tower above him. He braced himself on his good leg and shielded his eyes with his arm, though a large piece of debris still collided with his head and dented his helmet.
The Pilgrim shook his head in an attempt to stop the ringing that now clamored in his ears and began climbing hastily once more. The tower shook once more, but this time the impact was from behind him. Chancing a look back, the Pilgrim saw that he was out of the demon's reach. With a sigh of relief he made his way up the remainder of the ladder.
When he got to the top, he knew he had to think fast. It was only a matter of time before the demon jumped up. Climbing down the ladder was out of the question, the demon would crush him before he was halfway down and even if he did make it down he'd be cornered. Jumping again was similarly eliminated. He'd never clear the demon and if he did his leg would definitely give. His only option was to take the demon out now.
He withdrew the knight's massive sword from the Darksign, having more difficulty than usual hefting it due to his leg. He walked over to the ledge just as the demon was about to jump, but when it saw him it seemed to fly into a rage. It swung the axe into the tower with tremendous force, causing the stones to finally give way. The tower heaved forward, and the Pilgrim knew this would be his only chance. He flung himself from the tower, sword in front of him and aimed at the demon's head.
The demon couldn't bring its axe up fast enough, so instead it swung its left hand at the Pilgrim as if to swat him away. The Pilgrim was moving fast enough to avoid being batted out over the city, but he still took a heavy blow to the side. The demon however, was not so lucky. The sword pierced through its skull and it stopped moving all at once. The axe dropped from its limp grip and it swayed to one side, tipping over the edge.
The Pilgrim stored the sword back within the Darksign, and leapt from the demon's head. If his leg weren't crippled, he would have easily made the jump. As things were, he barely managed to grab onto the battlements. His grip was failing quickly, and he knew he would fall to his death. Just as his grip was about to give however, the souls that the demon had acquired flooded into the Pilgrim. While it didn't make him any stronger physically, the euphoric boost of adrenaline gave him just enough drive to pull himself up and hook his chest on the battlement.
Utterly drained, the Pilgrim rolled forward off the battlement and laid upon the ground staring at the night sky. Exhaustion overcame him and he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.