The first thing Dale thought as he watched the blade slide out of him was how cold the sword was.
Everything in the cave was on fire. Torches burned from their... holders? Was that the word? Dale lived in the 21st century and his knowledge of torches was limited to the Indiana Jones movies and a few video games. There was also a large pit of fire in the middle of the room where a young girl, no older than 18 was currently dangling above. Not to mention the candles that were literally everywhere. The entire room was hot.
But the sword that pierced his side was cold. Ice. Cold.
“DALE!” Jeff screamed, pausing momentarily from untying the young woman from the pit.
“Oh, your friend can’t hear you now, young Jeffrey,” the man in the dark hood said. “He’s too busy bleeding, aren’t you Daleworth?”
Daleworth wasn’t his name, but the man in the dark hood had been calling him that for a few minutes now. His job was simple, stop the man in the dark hood from sacrificing this young woman, thus summoning a demon. Or something. He really didn’t pay that close attention in what he now realized Chosen One Orientation a few days back. He didn’t even know who he was currently fighting, just that stopping this guy in the dark hood was supposed to stop the end of the world.
“Don’t worry, friend, I’m fine, save her!” Dale intended to nobly yell to his friend. What came out was more like “Meh wmmy, mer!”
Dale’s own sword fell to the ground, and he attempted to take a few steps forward to pick it up. Unfortunately, his body had it’s own plans, and he just ended up falling backward. He did manage to prop himself up on a jagged rock. That move was all Dale.
“Oh, so close,” the man in the dark hood said, pulling close to Dale’s face. Then he stuck out a bony finger right towards Jeff. “Minions, stop that man up there!”
“Wait! We’re the Chosen Ones! It’s not supposed to happen like this!” Jeff said, still frantically trying to untie the not. Dale really wished he’d given Jeff the sword rather than trying to face the man in the dark hood himself. It was too late, twenty people in similar hoods were now hoisting Jeff up on their shoulders as if it were a victory party, and bringing him down to the man in the dark hood. Meanwhile the blonde woman continued to hang above them.
The sad fact was, as they found out about 24 hours ago, they weren’t rescuing this young woman. No, she had been born knowing that three days after her 18th birthday, she was going to be sacrificed by the man in the dark hood, thus brining about... whatever it was that was supposed to end the world. Damnit, why didn’t Dale pay more attention when they were talking about end of the world and all that? She was actually more than happy to turn the friends in when they burst into her “prison” to rescue her. (It was actually nicer than his apartment.)
“Aw, man. you just got stabbed. With a sword,” Jeff was still looking worried as the cult members unceremoniously dumped him next to his dying friend.
“It’s ok, man. We had a good run. We both tried our best,” Dale tried to stay. This one came out. “mawwwwwwww....”
“So. This is it,” the man in the dark hood said, “This is who those two idiots thought were going to be able to stop me?”
“Wait!” Jeff yelled, “Are you supposed to like, tell us your evil plan or something?”
The man in the dark hood pulled out a smaller knife and held the handle up to his lips, thinking. “That’s true. I do enjoy a good story.” He threw the knife deep into Jeff’s shoulder. “But I don’t want to tell you. Also, this isn’t a movie. If I don’t sacrifice this woman to be my demon bride, I have to wait a whole month for the moon to be in some kind of alignment or something. My astrologers know what’s going on. Right, Kevin?”
One of the other people in the hoods nodded enthusiastically, “Absolutely sir!”
“He’s my prophecy guy. He’s the one who turned me onto the idea of demonology to extend my life, actually. Hey, you know what, since you guys worked so hard if you manage to survive this, I’ll get you his number. First meeting’s on me, right guys?”
“We’ll never bow to your evil will!” Dale would have said if he wasn’t so desperately trying to keep the rest of his blood in his body. He was really taking this Chosen One thing seriously.
“Hey, man, while they’re distracted, what do we do?” Jeff leaned over to him, arm still on fire from the blade. Unlike Dale, he wasn’t worried about how cold it was, his thought process was more along the lines of “oh, shit, there is a knife in my shoulder!” But he was also big on consequences, and he knew that he had to stop this guy.
Dale thought hard. Yeah, that guy and that hot chick that told him they were angels said something about a prophecy. They said something about how to stop all of this if they couldn’t kill the man in the hood.. but how? Think, Dale, think... Jeff was there why does Dale have to do all the thinking? Jeff just continued to stare at him, dagger still sticking out of his shoulder.
Things were getting fuzzier for Dale.
It was then that he remembered one tiny detail: The fire that this young woman was going to be sacrificed into had to be pure. Completely, totally pure. Which meant...
Dale struggled to his feet as Jeff sat their, bewildered. This took about three minutes. The members of the cult, engrossed in their own ritual, didn’t take notice of the two failed Chosen Ones that were slowly bleeding out: this threat was neutralized as far as they cared. Dale managed to tell his feet where they were headed: Towards the fire. He actually managed to lean against two of the cult members who were surrounding the fire. The man in the dark hood, who stood at the altar, looked out at him.
“Hey, bud, you tried bravely, but I’m going to need you to sit back down, ok? When we raise this guy from the depths of Hell, he’s going to spare everyone in the circle of trust, and you really haven’t earned it just yet.”
Dale just looked up at him, for the briefest of moments. It was then that his eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he collapsed, head first, into the pit of fire.
“DALE!” Jeff screamed.
There was gasping from the group. The woman tied above the pit just sighed, and hung her head. The man that Jeff assumed was Kevin stepped forward.
“YES,” The man in the dark hood said, “I know. The fire’s not pure, which means that we can’t sacrifice Alice.”
Jeff raised his good arm in victory, “Yes! You did it, buddy! I’ll make sure your story gets passed on, and--”
“Listen, we’re experiencing a huge setback, here,” The man in the dark hood said, “It’s in really poor form to sit their and celebrate when 25 years of planning just went down the drain.”
Jeff lowered his arm and looked at the floor.
“Come on,” the man in the hood said, “start putting things out. Let’s start planning for next month.”
Semi-defeated, the cult members began extinguishing flames and blowing out candles. A few off to the side started playing “Rock, Paper, Scissors” to decide who was going to have to deal with the now charred corpse in the fire pit, and who was going to have to purify it again for the next full moon. Alice was not amused that it was not the first priority to cut her down.
Off in one of the rare darkened corners, a man and a woman were watching the events unfold.
“Damnit. Failed again,” the man said.
“No, the stopped them,” the woman replied.
“For this month. Just like the last guys. We’re back to square one.”
“Come on,” the woman said, “let’s go make a new list of Chosen ones.”