AN: I’ve been a long-time lurker, but I’ve finally decided to post something. The Winter Writing event made me research Echidnas, and their description gave me an idea I hope you enjoy. Feedback is appreciated as it’s the best way to figure out how to improve.
A knight’s work is never done. It feels like I had rescued the Queen just yesterday, but here she was, kidnapped again. This time, she’s being held in the “Colorless Caves,” a dramatic but, fortunately, fitting description for the pale marble walls before me. The ground crunches underfoot as I bravely venture forth, and I hear a sinister chuckling. It looks like She is back.
I haven’t gone far into the dungeon when I see a pair of glowing red eyes peeking out at me. A creature with coal-black fur growls, spewing out embers and smoke that sizzle on the ground. It’s a hellhound, one of the fiercest creatures in the realm. I can see it tense up before leaping forward, teeth bared and claws outstretched. I manage to dodge out of the way, but the creature is fast, trying to get behind me where it can attack my unprotected leg.
“Gotcha!” it yells victoriously as it tackles me. I feel an impact on the back of my knee and stumble, but I barely manage to hold my balance.
“Good hit,” I’m forced to admit. It replies with a feral grin.
“I won’t let up until you go down!” she threatens. “The Queen is ours!”
Enough was enough. As it charges at me again, I hold it off with one hand and use the outstretched fingers on my other to target a series of pressure points on the creature’s side. My attack lands true and my opponent is instantly incapacitated, allowing me to pick it up and hurl it into the wall where it impacts with a shriek. Satisfied with my work, I move on.
As I enter the next room, I hear the snort of a bull. This opponent looks like it’ll be a lot tougher: the legendary Minotaur. We lock eyes before it lowers its head and charges forward, attempting to gore me with its deadly horns. Thinking quickly, I reach into my belt and pull out a cape I had brought just for this occasion. Channeling my inner matador, I dodge out of the way and tangle the fabric in its horns, cutting off its sight.
“Hey, that’s playing dirty!” it complains as it rips off the fabric and tosses it away. Fortunately, I am able to use the distraction to summon a firebolt and hurl it at the monster. It crashes against the creature’s back sending it stumbling forward with a yelp. When it turns back around, though, I realize it has produced its own firebolt, which it hurls it at me. I gasp as it impacts my chest, but I have superior armor and shrug off the blow. Thus begins a firefight as both of us dive for cover and begin pelting each other with arcane energy. Embers crash on my head as I frantically perform the somatic gestures to create the spell. Finally, I score a direct hit to the monster’s face, allowing me to rush in, lift the beast over my head, and toss it to the side. It gives a muffled groan from the crater in the wall where its face had been embedded, but I have no time for pity.
With two enemies defeated, I press on, finally finding my prize. At the end of the cavern is my Queen, but guarding her is an Echidna wielding a red-glowing sword. The lavender serpent-woman scowls at me
“You again! Unhand my Queen!” I command.
“Mwa ha ha! Yes, it is I, the Evil Mordith!” The serpent cackles. “But why should I let your Queen go? Swear your loyalty to me or you’ll never see her again!”
“Save me my brave knight!” the Queen begs me.
“You won’t get away with this, foul beast!” I retort, readying myself for the fight.
“Oh? But I already have.” The ambush would have worked better had the villainess not looked over my shoulder. As it is, I have a moment to brace myself for an almost-sneak attack as the Hellhound and Minotaur crash into my legs and back. I tumble to the ground, struggling against the vicious onslaught. Eventually, I get one leg free, though the Hellhound stubbornly clings to the other, trying to gnaw through my greaves. With herculean strength, I also manage to loosen my left arm from the Minotaur’s bear hug.
“Alright, you asked for it,” I cry as I draw the sword from my hip and activate it. The blade glows with a blue light, ready to vanquish the evil. The Minotaur tries to grab at my wrist, but it’s too late. I incapacitate its hand with a quick slash before turning my attention to the Hellhound.
“Urk!” it gasps as it feels the blade jab into its back, causing it to quickly let go of my leg and fall limp, its tail twitching. I turn to the Minotaur, who is keeping its injured hand safe behind its back. The other tosses a last firebolt at me, but I bat it away and dash forward, defeating it with a stab to the chest. It bellows out, stumbling around wildly before it slumps against a wall.
“It’s just me and you,” I say to the Echidna.
“Good help is so hard to find these-” She lunges forward mid-sentence and we begin our dance. I’ve trained with the blade far longer than she has, but her snake body allows her to quickly move around and also acts as a second weapon. As I jump over her tail, I realize that I’ve left my hand open. Before I can react, I feel her blade strike my wrist, and my blade drops to the ground.
“I have something to admit to you,” I grin as I pick it up with my other hand. “I’m not left-handed.” I charge forward, forcing her to give ground under an onslaught of blows now powered by my dominant hand. Our blades clash, but, with a flourish of my wrist, I get past her guard and bring my blade in a quick downwards slash against he wrist. As she grabs her sword with her right hand she giggles.
“And I have something to admit to you, too. I’m not left handed either!” Our battle renews, but I’ve noticed that, despite my enemy now using her favored hand, the battle is slowing. The chilly air must be starting to take effect on my reptilian foe. Her reflexes are dulling, and I’m finally able to stab her in the stomach. She gasps, clutching the spot.
“I am defeated. You have earned your Queen. Blegh.” With that, the villain falls theatrically to the ground and I dash over to my Queen
“My lady, are you okay?” I ask as I free her from her bonds.
“I’m more than okay. I’m feeling marveloussss.” I freeze as she hisses the last words. Before my eyes, her beautiful pale skin gains a purplish hue and her legs fuse and elongate. It’s a trap! I don’t have a chance to react before I am bound in her coils. She laughs as I fruitlessly try to escape. Unfortunately for me, all I can move is my head. As she closes in, though, I have an idea. Thinking quickly, I snap my head forward and capture her lips in a scorching kiss. She moans as my tongue presses against her lips, demanding entrance, and she eventually loosens her grip on me. I take the opportunity to wrap my arms around her, pressing her ample breasts against my chest as we fall onto the snow.
“Is that the lightsaber or your other sword that’s poking me?” Serena, the wonderful Echidna in my arms, whispers in my ear.
“Ewww! Mommy and Daddy are kissing!” I hear Jaime, our 6-year old Hellwan, yell out.
“Shhh! You’re supposed to be dead,” Meredith, our 13-year old Echidna, scolds her. I chuckle as I disentangle myself and stand up, looking out at the scene of carnage I left behind me. The snow fort has been destroyed by our antics. Large holes in the walls show where I tossed my two youngest daughters, and parts of it have been carved out to create the snowballs that Helena, my 10-year old Minotaur, and I threw at each other. Speaking of which…
“Gah!” I cry out as I feel a handful of snow get dumped down my back. I spin around to see Helena giggling. “Oh, you’re gonna get it!”
“Kids versus parents!” Meredith yells, gathering up her own ammunition.
“You girls are on!” Serena yells out. She quickly passes me a handful of snowballs from a stash she had apparently kept at the back of the fort and we open fire. When I run out of ammo, I simply charge forward, tanking the snowballs until I get in grabbing range so I can “incapacitate” them with tickles, buying Serena time to make us some more.
After several minutes, though, my Queen has had enough. She’s looking a bit bluer than usual and definitely shivering- Meredith too.
“Alright, girls,” I announce. “That’s enough of the cold. Let’s get you inside.”
“Awwww!” Jaime frowns. “It’s not that cold.”
“Maybe n-n-not for you,” Meredith chatters. She picks the little hellpup up and hugs her tightly. “But not all of us are pint-sized furnaces.” She turns to me. “C-c-can we make hot chocolate?”
“Sure, honey. And you can have extra marshmallows, too,” I anticipate her next question.
“Yay!” all three of my little girls squeal. I manage to get them all into the house and out of their snow gear. As I start heating milk up on the stove, I feel two freezing arms reach under my shirt.
“Meredith’s hogging Jaime,” my wife complains.
“Well then it’s a good thing you have such a hot husband.” I turn around and wrap my own arms around her as she giggles at my bad joke. We stay like that for a minute or two until I see the milk starting to steam. That’s my cue to add the cocoa powder, chocolate chunks, some sugar and a pinch of salt. As I reach for a packet of instant coffee to crank the mixture up to eleven, my wife gives me a look.
“It’s not that much,” I assure her.
“If Jaime can’t go to sleep tonight, you’re dealing with her,” she threatens as I fill the ladle to sample my concoction. It’s the perfect mix of creamy and chocolatey, with the salt and coffee really bringing out the flavor.
“You know our last kiss got rudely interrupted,” I remind Serena before taking another sip. This time, our kiss starts out a lot more gentle, if significantly more chocolatey, but once again it builds in passion. After a minute, I feel Serena pull away. I disentangle myself from her coils and wipe the chocolate off my lips.
“Hot chocolate’s ready!” I call out. Helena gets to us first, her hooves clomping across the hardwood. Meredith isn’t too far behind, still holding Jaime like a teddy bear. I quickly fill five mugs and top them off with copious amounts of marshmallows for the kids, and some whipped cream and crushed candy canes for me and Serena. Warm mugs in hand, we all go into the living room to watch Frosty the Snowman
When it’s over, the kids are clearly tuckered out. The caffeine from the trace amounts of instant coffee that got in Jaime’s hot chocolate is no match from the exhaustion brought on by a day of hard playing, and for once in her life she doesn’t try to stay up later. I tuck her into bed and kiss her little nose as Serena ushers Meredith and Helena to their rooms. After putting a glass of water on Jaime’s nightstand (hydration is especially important for hellwans), I make my way over to the master bedroom where my love is waiting for me. Her “come hither” eyes tell me I still have one more dungeon to delve.