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Deathstalker 5 (Battle of the Soul Demons)

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BLACK SCREEN: SUPER: “If your spirit can acquiesce in a moment of anger, you will spare the soul an eternity of sorrow” (From the ancient scriptures of Asahl).

FADE IN:

EXT. FOREST - DAY

The forest is dark and foreboding. Strange and exotic creature calls can be heard in the distance.

We begin to hear the sound of heavy breathing. It gets louder as we concentrate on one particular tree. We now see that the sound is coming from DEATHSTALKER. He is crouched down with his back pressed against the tree trunk.

He is wearing animal skin boots, leather trousers and a sleeveless tunic which shows off his well defined arm and shoulder muscles. He is sweating profusely and holds a large hunting knife.

He carefully moves to look around the other side of the tree and then returns to his original position. After pausing for a moment he suddenly sprints to find cover behind another tree.

His movements are graceful, quiet and animal like.

After another careful look around this tree, he places the knife between his teeth and begins to climb.

He makes his way on to a sturdy overhanging branch. Taking the knife from between his teeth he prepares to leap to the forest floor.

We see him leap but do not see him land. We only hear the sickening sound of his knife as it tears through flesh and bone. The creature’s death cry echoes throughout the forest.

INT. DEATHSTALKER’S DWELLING - NIGHT

The dwelling is a simple structure made from wood and stone and is situated in a less dense area of the forest.

The yard, directly in front of the building, has a small vegetable garden, a fenced paddock for livestock and an area for storing and chopping wood.

The inside is dark with most of the light emanating from an open fire place.

The one and only room is sparsely furnished with a crude wooden table and two chairs.

In one corner of the room there are several large animal furs arranged to form a sleeping area.

VALOTTA, a tall attractive woman dressed in a revealing two piece leather outfit, is busy stoking the fire.

The door suddenly swings open to reveal Deathstalker standing in the doorway with a bloody, skinned animal carcass resting over his shoulder.

Valotta looks over to the doorway. She smiles, shakes her head then throws another log on the fire.

Deathstalker walks into the room, lifts the carcass and brings it to rest on the table with a loud thud.

DEATHSTALKER

Hungry?

VALOTTA

Just what we needed. More meat!

DEATHSTALKER

A man needs flesh to live.

VALOTTA

Maybe so, but we already have enough to feed an army!

DEATHSTALKER

So you would deprive a man of the main source of excitement in his life, the thrill of the hunt?

Frowning, Valotta stands up and places her hands on her hips showing her body to it’s best advantage.

VALOTTA

His main source of excitement?

Deathstalker rakes his eyes over Valotta’s body with visible appreciation. He then approaches her and places his hands either side of her face.

DEATHSTALKER

Perhaps I spoke out of turn.

VALOTTA

I should...

Before she can finish her sentence he pushes his lips against hers and they meet in a passionate embrace.

After a long kiss, Valotta loosens her top, letting it fall to the floor.

VALOTTA

I’ll give you an adventure to rival any hunt.

Deathstalker’s eyes widen and he grunts in appreciation. He sweeps her off her feet and carries her to the pile of furs in the corner of the room.

DEATHSTALKER

Let the adventure begin.

He lays her down and they begin to make passionate love.

EXT. DEATHSTALKER’S DWELLING - DAY

Deathstalker is chopping wood with an axe in the yard. He is bare chested and sweating from the effort.

After splitting a large log he stops to wipe his brow and notices Valotta is now standing in the open doorway to the dwelling.

In addition to her normal attire she is wearing a simple gold necklace with an emerald at it’s center.

She examines his physique and smiles. Deathstalker leans on his axe and grins back at her.

DEATHSTALKER

Did I wake you?

VALOTTA

I imagine every living thing in the forest is awake by now. Still, it’s a beautiful morning, it would be a shame to sleep through it.

DEATHSTALKER

That’s what I love about you. You always find a positive side!

Valotta throws him a sideways smile. His grin becomes even wider.

He beckons her over to join him. She walks towards him, accentuating the movement of her hips.

When she reaches him he notices the necklace. He examines it against the palm of his hand.

DEATHSTALKER

I like this one. The color matches your eyes.

VALOTTA

Did I ever tell you that it used to belong to my mother?

DEATHSTALKER

No... oh wait, yes. Only about a thousand times.

Valotta narrows her eyes, smiles and playfully thumps his chest with her fist.

VALOTTA

Ah, but did you know it has magic powers? At least, that’s what she used to tell me.

He grunts and removes his hand from the necklace.

DEATHSTALKER

Magic... whenever it’s invoked, trouble is never far behind.

Valotta laughs.

VALOTTA

Well, if it’s any consolation my mother was a compulsive liar.

Deathstalker laughs and his attention returns to her face.

DEATHSTALKER

Somehow, you always know the right words to temper my mood.

He places his hands either side of her face and they start a long passionate kiss. Both have their eyes closed.

We then hear three sounds; a whooshing, a slicing and a thud.

Both their eyes suddenly open wide. A gentle gurgling sound comes from Valotta’s mouth as she tries to speak.

Still holding her head, Deathstalker frowns in confusion.

We then hear the sound of something falling to the floor.

It is Valotta’s body.

Only now does it become clear that Valotta’s head has been separated from her body by a sharp blade which was thrown from some distance away.

Deathstalker is left holding her lifeless head between his hands. He is transfixed by her shocked expression. As confusion turns to anger, he cries out in rage. His cry is cut short by a deep demonic voice.

SOUL DEMON (O.S.)

Greetings from Salazane, Deathstalker!

Deathstalker spins around, attempting to locate the source of the voice. He cannot find it. The voice begins to laugh mockingly.

Eventually, Deathstalker is able to pin point the origin.

Some distance away, to the side of the dwelling, a huge figure sits on a horse. He is well muscled and is wearing a strange horned helmet which covers his face.

When the Soul Demon realizes that he’s been spotted, he reigns his horse into action and begins to gallop away.

Deathstalker carefully places Valotta’s head next to her body.

He then runs to the paddock and vaults the fence. After mounting his horse, he jumps back over the fence and proceeds to chase the Soul Demon through the forest.

EXT. FOREST VALLEY - DAY

As the chase continues, the ground begins to slope downwards towards a valley floor. Both riders are moving very fast, showing excellent horsemanship skills over the rough terrain.

The Soul Demon occasionally checks behind to see that Deathstalker, although close, seems unable to close the gap between them.

EXT. FOREST IMPASSE - DAY

After a while, the Soul Demon looks to be heading for an impasse. The forest valley ends abruptly with a solid rock cliff face, the top of which is at least 100 feet above the ground.

Both riders see the obstacle and begin to slow down. The Soul Demon checks behind and sees Deathstalker slowing. He laughs and forces his horse to gallop faster again.

The Soul Demon continues to ride headlong into the rock face. He then disappears, as if he had ridden straight through the obstacle. The sound of his galloping horse gradually disappears into the distance.

Deathstalker is so astonished that he is only just able to stop his horse from careening into the obstacle.

He quickly dismounts and checks the solidity of the rock with his hands. The surface is completely solid. He cries out in anger and begins to pound it with his bare fists.

DEATHSTALKER

Damn you! I will hunt you down! Do you hear me? I will hunt you down!

Blood begins to well on his hands and he eventually falls to his knees with a final cry which echoes through the forest.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY

The Castle looks somewhat dilapidated and is situated on a hillside above the town of Lanfeer.

The main hall is on two levels and is sparsely decorated with ornate tapestries, curtains and rugs, all of which are showing signs of age.

Two Soul Demons stand guard either side of the main entrance. They both hold long handled axes which are crossed, blocking the entrance way.

On the higher level, SALAZANE, a tall thin man with gaunt features is sitting behind a grand desk in a large thrown-like chair. Dressed in black with a dark red cloak, he is intently studying one of the many old books and manuscripts which litter the desk.

Salazane’s man servant, EXANTUS, a short bald man approaches the barred entrance and coughs discretely.

Salazane glances up and signals to the guards to let him pass. They separate the axes and Exantus nervously walks through keeping a careful eye on the sharp steel blades.

Regaining his composure, he approaches the desk but stays on the lower level. He waits for Salazane to look up from his book. When he does so, Exantus takes a small bow of respect.

EXANTUS

I think it’s safe to say we got his attention, sire.

SALAZANE

Excellent. And so begins the final stage of my plan. A new era of exquisite pain is about to unfold and I will be the one to oversee its inception.

Salazane smiles at Exantus piteously.

SALAZANE

I fear you do not comprehend the magnitude of all this Exantus.

Exantus pauses for a moment.

EXANTUS

Sire, are you sure that Deathstalker is the right man for the job? I have heard tale of his exploits. He seems to be strong willed and tends to follow his own direction.

Salazane snaps closed the book he was reading.

SALAZANE

Ha! These are the very traits that will be required to lead my demon forces to victory. Furthermore, I strongly suggest that you desist from questioning my actions. Simply follow my commands and you will be well rewarded in a realm where most others will live in perpetual dread.

Exantus briefly grimaces and takes another small bow.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

SALAZANE

So then, assuming no delays we should expect one very wrathful Deathstalker to arrive on our portcullis step within three moons.

Exantus nods in agreement.

SALAZANE

How go the preparations?

EXANTUS

I am overseeing them personally, sire.

SALAZANE

Good. I have been perfecting my technique but would appreciate another... candidate.

Exantus smiles.

EXANTUS

I believe I have just the man, sire.

EXT. DEATHSTALKER’S DWELLING - DAY

Deathstalker arrives back at his dwelling, dismounts and tethers his horse to the paddock fence.

He glances at Valotta’s body then walks over to his tunic which is hanging on a nearby post.

As he puts it on, he notices that the axe used to decapitate Valotta is wedged in a nearby tree trunk.

He walks over to examine it more carefully. With great effort he attempts to pull it free.

He then hears the sound of an approaching horse.

Deathstalker let’s go of the axe, draws his sword and changes to a battle stance.

Deathstalker relaxes and sheaths his sword when the approaching horse and rider become visible. The rider is FARAC, a friend who lives close by. Farac has a mighty but somewhat plump frame and sports a full beard.

Farac slows his horse and frowns when he sees Deathstalker and the body of Valotta.

FARAC

What in the name of Asahl has happened here?

DEATHSTALKER

Farac, give me hand with this axe.

Farac dismounts, tethers his horse to the paddock fence and walks over to Deathstalker.

FARAC

No small man wielded such a weapon I’ll wager.

DEATHSTALKER

You are right. Although I am not sure if I would call it a man. It had the form but its unnatural strength and unworldly voice told a tale of sorcery. The darkest kind. Here, give me hand.

They both grab the handle and with a mighty effort manage to free the axe from the tree. Deathstalker holds the axe, feeling the weight and balance.

FARAC

So where is this... demon man now?

DEATHSTALKER

After loosing this weapon the fiend rode off like the wind. I gave chase but lost him in the forest.

FARAC

He must have been some horseman to out ride you my friend.

DEATHSTALKER

He vanished when we reached the impasse. He rode through it like it was not even there.

FARAC

Asahl! More fiendish magic.

Farac turns to look at Valotta’s remains.

FARAC

I don’t know what to say my friend. She was a good woman.

DEATHSTALKER

She was a great woman.

Farac nods in agreement

FARAC

At least it was a swift. No pain I mean.

DEATHSTALKER

A small mercy given the circumstances.

FARAC

Aye, I suppose you’re right.

Both men are silent for a few moments. Farac then looks up towards the sun.

FARAC

I know it is difficult but we should deal with the her body before the heat of day takes hold.

Deathstalker looks up, pauses then nods in agreement.

EXT. DEATHSTALKER’S DWELLING - LATER

Deathstalker and Farac are standing beside Valotta’s grave which they have marked with a crude wooden cross.

Deathstalker reaches into his tunic pocket, pulls out the necklace Valotta was wearing and closes his fist tightly around it.

DEATHSTALKER

As you are my witness, Farac, I swear that this... Salazane will pay with his life.

FARAC

Salazane?

DEATHSTALKER

The name the demon uttered in explanation of this fowl deed.

FARAC

Salazane... it is not a name familiar to me.

DEATHSTALKER

Nor I. But not even the wraiths of Asahl will stop me from tracking him down and ripping out his evil heart.

Deathstalker puts the necklace back in his pocket and walks towards the paddock.

DEATHSTALKER

I thank you for your help Farac but I have no time to waste and must bid you farewell.

Deathstalker approaches his horse.

FARAC

What! How can you leave now? You have no supplies. You don’t even know which direction to ride!

Deathstalker pats the neck of his horse and pauses for a moment.

DEATHSTALKER

Perhaps you’re right. You always did have a level head my friend. What do you suggest?

Farac puts his hands on his hips and lets out a sigh.

FARAC

Let me see...

A smile begins for form on his face.

FARAC

SCLERIA!

DEATHSTALKER

That oversexed old witch?

FARAC

Aye, a shriveled old crone she may be, but they say she can see almost anything with those metallic eyes of hers.

DEATHSTALKER

They also say that no eligible man ever leaves her dwelling alive!

FARAC

Ha! Listen to yourself. Running scared from a woman old enough to be your grandmother!

Deathstalker grunts.

FARAC

If she could but indicate a direction in which to ride, that would be reason enough to risk a visit would it not?

DEATHSTALKER

I have no mind to greet any further sorcery this day. But, I will admit I can think of no better plan.

FARAC

I will take that as a yes! Come my friend, let us make haste, it is but a short ride across the valley.

EXT. SCLERIA’S DWELLING - DAY

Scleria’s dwelling is a circular structure made of stone. A large number of wind chimes hang from the eaves, creating an eerie play of reflecting light and sound.

Deathstalker and Farac ride towards the building, dismount and tether their horses to a nearby fence.

FARAC

A word of warning my friend. Do not look directly into her eyes. I heard tale of a man who did and he was never able to close his eyes again. It drove him mad and he eventually plucked them out... with an axe.

DEATHSTALKER

You tell the nicest stories Farac!

FARAC

No joke my friend. Be cautious.

Deathstalker nods.

They walk up to the small wooden door. Deathstalker lifts the door knocker which is in the shape of an eye.

SCLERIA (O.S.)

Come in gentlemen.

They look at each other. Deathstalker shrugs his shoulders, opens the door and enters the dwelling followed by Farac.

INT. SCLERIA’S DWELLING - DAY

The front door opens directly on to the main room.

It looks like a junk shop with a myriad of shiny trinkets on every available surface. There are also several mirrors dotted around the walls.

SCLERIA (O.S.)

Do make yourselves at home. I will be with you in but a moment.

Deathstalker and Farac look around the room then sit down on a long bench in front of a table. They sit in silence and examine the room for a few moments.

Scleria enters the room smiling at her guests. She is old, has very wrinkly skin and is wearing a huge amount of make up. Her eyes are a metallic silver color.

Both men are drawn to her eyes but try to avoid any direct eye contact.

FARAC

Greetings, Scleria. We are sorry to intrude on your privacy, but...

SCLERIA

But you have a question?

FARAC

Well... yes.

SCLERIA

It’s alright, don’t look so worried. The only visitors I get seem to have a thirst for knowledge. Anyway, it’s not often I get two handsome young men all to myself.

Both men glance at each other with a concerned expression.

Scleria sees the glance and laughs at their discomfort.

SCLERIA

I’m such a tease. Do go on.

DEATHSTALKER

I am looking for someone called, Salazane.

Scleria walks around the two men. When she is behind them she gently runs her hand along Deathstalker’s shoulders.

SCLERIA

Aren’t we all looking for something?

Rather than turn around, Deathstalker watches her reflection in one of the mirrors on the wall in front of him. She meets his stare in the mirror and he quickly looks away. She laughs again.

DEATHSTALKER

Enough games old woman, can you help us or not!

Scleria’s smile disappears from her face and her voice takes on a deep demonic tone.

SCLERIA

Tread carefully Deathstalker. Do not make an enemy of me!

Her voice returns to its normal tone.

SCLERIA

You should learn to control your anger. It may yet be your downfall. Anger begets hate, hate begets violence and violence inevitably leads to death.

DEATHSTALKER

That is my intention. This Salazane will pay with his life.

SCLERIA

I was referring to your death.

Deathstalker grunts and Scleria turns her attention to Farac.

SCLERIA

Anyway, what makes you think I’m interested in you? I understand that you are on the... let me see, what’s the expression... rebound?

Deathstalker begins to turn red with anger. Farac puts his hand on Deathstalker’s shoulder.

FARAC

Scleria, you have proved beyond any doubt that you are a wise and knowledgable woman. My hot headed friend and I would be in your debt if you could provide us with any information you have about this, Salazane.

Scleria's smile widens and she runs her hand along Farac’s shoulders.

SCLERIA

Broad shoulders, excellent manners and a diplomat. A woman can hardly refuse such qualities.

Scleria walks around so that she is in front of the two men. She pours herself a drink from a decanter on the table which is filled with green liquid.

SCLERIA

Can I offer either of you gentlemen a drink?

Deathstalker shakes his head.

FARAC

Thank you.

Scleria pours out another glass of the liquid and passes it to Farac. She then takes a sip of her drink.

SCLERIA

Salazane is a small, spoiled, impatient, pathetic excuse for a man. Unfortunately, he is also power hungry and a master of the dark arts.

Deathstalker groans.

SCLERIA

I am surprised that you have not yet heard his name spoken. As his confidence increases, his evil deeds resonate further, spreading not unlike a plague.

DEATHSTALKER

And where exactly does this... wizard live?

Scleria takes another sip of her drink.

SCLERIA

The last I heard, he resides in a castle fortress on the edge of Lanfeer.

DEATHSTALKER

Lanfeer... I have heard of this place.

FARAC

Aye, it is several days ride due North of here.

Scleria nods her head in agreement and Deathstalker immediately stands up.

DEATHSTALKER

So, my path is now as clear as my goal.

SCLERIA

Patience Deathstalker, I understand your actions in this matter, but I warn you again - do not be ruled by anger alone. Such all consuming hate can just as easily be turned against you.

DEATHSTALKER

I hear your words old woman but there is very little in this world that a strong arm and a sharp blade cannot overcome.

Scleria smiles resignedly.

SCLERIA

It’s clear to see that nothing I can say will change your mind. However, perhaps your beloved Valotta can achieve what I am unable to. It is a little understood fact that the dead can be more forgiving than you might imagine.

Deathstalker frowns and places a hand on the hilt of his sword.

DEATHSTALKER

Continue carefully woman.

Scleria raises a hand.

SCLERIA

Calm yourself, Deathstalker. I am talking of Cold Whisper Pass. From there it is possible, under the right conditions, for the living to communicate with the recently departed.

Deathstalker folds his arms.

DEATHSTALKER

Go on.

SCLERIA

The Pass lies just beyond the forest in the barren region of Kalinar. It would be but a small detour from your path to Lanfeer. At the center of Kalinar you will find the twin obelisks. Approach, but do not pass through these mighty landmarks and you will have reached your destination. Of course, there are no certainties in such matters. Your success will depend on the will of the spirits.

FARAC

This sounds like bad idea to me. The dead should remain silent.

DEATHSTALKER

I tend to agree with you Farac. Nevertheless, it would be hard to resist the possibility of a few parting words for a life taken so suddenly.

FARAC

Aye, maybe so.

SCLERIA

There’s something else. It is hard for me to admit but I... I can’t see clearly. I mean, how or why Salazane’s plans involve you. He must be clouding my vision somehow.

Scleria shakes her head.

DEATHSTALKER

I know of one sure way to find out.

Deathstalker walks towards the front door. Before reaching the door he stops and turns back to face Scleria.

DEATHSTALKER

You have been most helpful, I am in your debt.

Scleria smiles.

SCLERIA

Do not forget those words Deathstalker. I may recall said debt someday.

Deathstalker nods then turns and exits through the front door. Farac quickly stands up and finishes his drink.

FARAC

I apologize for our haste and thank you for your hospitality Scleria.

SCLERIA

Are you sure that I cannot persuade you to stay a little longer Farac?

FARAC

I am sorry but I should really get back to my wife and family.

Farac follows Deathstalker and exits through the front door. Scleria turns to the nearest mirror and examines her face.

SCLERIA

I must be losing my touch.

She smiles into the mirror revealing a myriad of wrinkles.

SCLERIA

But at least I still have my looks.

EXT. SCLERIA’S DWELLING - DAY

Deathstalker and Farac walk over to the fence, untie then mount their horses.

DEATHSTALKER

Once again, I thank you for your help Farac.

FARAC

Not necessary my friend. I only wish I could join you on your quest. As it is, with a wife and children who rely on me for protection, I cannot afford the luxury of adventuring.

DEATHSTALKER

No explanation is necessary. I bid you farewell.

Deathstalker and Farac shake hands.

FARAC

Best of luck my friend.

DEATHSTALKER

May we meet again soon.

Deathstalker reigns his horse into action and gallops away.

Farac watches him ride into the distance then glances back towards Scleria’s dwelling.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - DUNGEON PASSAGEWAY - DAY

The dungeon area of the castle is dark and damp. The bare stone walls are covered in a thick layer of cobwebs.

Salazane follows Exantus down a narrow passageway. Exantus is holding a fire stick to help light their way.

EXANTUS

This way, sire.

They approach a cell door which is guarded by a Soul Demon.

EXANTUS

Unlock this door. Lord Salazane wishes to see the prisoner.

The Soul Demon nods, unhooks the set of keys from his belt and unlocks the cell door. He then steps to one side. The door creaks loudly as Exantus pushes it open.

EXANTUS

This one is from a village some distance away. We have had to source from further afield as the locals are becoming restless at the number of disappearances.

SALAZANE

Their innate fear of the unknown will keep them from acting on their suspicions. And after my plan is fully realized, their actions will be of no consequence anyway.

EXANTUS

Understood, sire. As per your instructions the rest of his family were... disposed of.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - DUNGEON CELL - DAY

The dungeon cell is dark with bare stone walls. The prisoner, NEHOC, is sitting on the floor next to the rear wall with his head resting on his knees. His clothes are dirty and torn.

Both his arms are shackled to chains which are securely fastened to the rear wall.

Exantus enters the cell followed by Salazane. Nehoc does not move.

SALAZANE

Not the liveliest specimen I’ve ever seen. Are you sure he is still alive?

EXANTUS

Positive, sire. Let me show you.

Exantus begins to walk towards Nehoc but Salazane puts his arm out to block his way. Exantus stops and looks at Salazane with a confused expression.

SALAZANE

Tell me, Exantus. How exactly were his family... disposed of?

Exantus nods and smiles.

EXANTUS

Let me see. I believe his wife, an uncommonly fetching wench, was hung from the nearest tree. She was very stubborn and took a rather long time to die I’m afraid.

SALAZANE

Oh dear, that is a shame. Any children?

EXANTUS

Now that you mention it, yes, I believe his son got very excited about the axe one of your Soul Demons was carrying. You know how children are when they get over excited, they tend to loose their heads.

With a loud cry, Nehoc launches himself at the two men.

Before he reaches them he is jerked to a stop when the chains securing his arms to the rear wall reach their full length.

NEHOC

I will rip out your filthy heart!

Salazane laughs.

SALAZANE

Better, much better. Your anger will serve me well.

Nehoc snarls and continues to struggle against the chains.

SALAZANE

My apologies for doubting you, Exantus. Your efforts will be well rewarded when the ranks of my demon militia are completed.

Exantus takes a small bow.

EXANTUS

Thank you, sire.

Salazane turns to leave the cell.

SALAZANE

We will leave him to brood over his injustices for a little longer. Have him bought to the main hall tomorrow at noon.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

As Salazane and Exantus exit the cell, Nehoc collapses and falls to his knees.

His position allows us to see the words tattooed on each of his inner fore arms. One arm reads “Thandus” and the other “Aliandra”.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

It is a bright sunny day as Deathstalker rides through the forest.

He looks up towards the sun and wipes his brow. He then stops his horse, takes a water container from the saddle bag and begins to drink.

He stops when he hears a rustling sound from the undergrowth at the side of the trail.

He puts the container away and dismounts. Drawing his sword, he cautiously walks towards the sound.

As he approaches, a teenage girl, ALIANDRA, suddenly runs out of the undergrowth.

She is tall with short blonde hair and holds a small dagger in one hand. She is out of breath and her clothes are torn.

She is looking behind her and almost runs into Deathstalker before she sees him and stops.

ALIANDRA

Defend yourself stranger, they’re right behind me!

DEATHSTALKER

Who is right behind you?

ALIANDRA

Krelen Warriors!

DEATHSTALKER

Asahl! How many?

ALIANDRA

Three... I think.

Deathstalker raises his sword.

DEATHSTALKER

Get behind me, girl.

Aliandra runs around Deathstalker to the other side of the trail. She leans against a tree and catches her breath.

After more rustling sounds, three KRELEN WARRIORS run out of the undergrowth and see Deathstalker blocking their path.

They are short, muscular troll like creatures with a green complexion. They are dressed in black uniforms and hold long daggers.

KRELEN WARRIOR #1, who’s standing in the middle of the group, holds out his arms and all three of them come to a stop. He then looks around, folds his arms and grunts.

KRELEN WARRIOR #1

It seems you are outnumbered 3 to 1, human. If drawing breath is something you cherish I suggest you step aside. We have no quarrel with you, we only want the girl.

Deathstalker points his sword towards Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

This girl?

Krelen Warrior #1 grins.

KRELEN WARRIOR #1

And they say humans are slow.

The Krelen Warriors standing either side of him snicker.

Deathstalker raises his free hand to scratch the back of his head.

DEATHSTALKER

Ah... then it seems we have a problem. This girl is mine.

In one swift motion, Deathstalker pulls a concealed dagger from his back and throws it at the Krelen Warrior on his right.

The blade lodges in the Krelen’s throat and with a look of horror he falls to the ground clutching the handle. He continues to thrash around for a few more moments as unpleasant gurgling sounds emanate from his mouth.

DEATHSTALKER

You were saying something about being outnumbered? Or is the Krelen memory really as bad as they say it is?

Aliandra grins. Krelen Warrior #1 scowls and sheaths his dagger.

KRELEN WARRIOR #1

As you wish human.

He then reaches over his shoulder and draws a long sword from a sheath strapped to his back.

With the sword, he signals Krelen Warrior #2, standing on his right, to navigate around Deathstalker towards Aliandra.

Deathstalker sees the signal and moves to intercept Krelen Warrior #2. He is only able to take a couple of steps before Krelen Warrior #1 raises his sword and rushes towards him with a loud battle cry.

Deathstalker defends himself and their swords clash loudly.

The Krelen attempts to land several heavy strikes in a row but Deathstalker deflects all of them with deft counter moves.

Krelen Warrior #2 makes his way around the battle and approaches Aliandra. He grins as he slowly draws his long sword.

Aliandra looks at the size of his sword and then at her own small dagger. A doubtful expression forms on her face.

Between sword strikes, Deathstalker glances over at Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

The tree. Climb the tree, girl!

Aliandra looks up towards the lowest branches of the tree she is standing under.

Krelen Warrior #2 follows her gaze. His eyes narrow and he suddenly rushes towards her.

Aliandra throws her dagger at the advancing Krelen. It misses but causes him to swerve and slow down. In that moment she turns and jumps, grabbing hold of the nearest branch with both hands.

She glances down to see the Krelen closing in on her and attempts to lift her dangling legs on to the branch and out of his reach.

The Krelen drops his sword and tries to grab her legs. She begins to kick but after several attempts he manges to grab one of her feet with both hands.

Aliandra screams.

Still engaged in sword play with Krelen Warrior #1, Deathstalker glances over to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Hold on girl!

Deathstalker reaches to his side and pulls out a short sword with his free hand.

DEATHSTALKER

Enough games you ugly troll.

With a cry of anger, Deathstalker unleashes a fast succession of powerful strikes, deftly switching between the swords in each hand.

Krelen Warrior #1 is gradually forced backwards, being unable to deflect the full power of the strikes.

Still hanging from the tree, Aliandra tries to shake her foot loose. She begins to kick Krelen Warrior #2 with her free foot.

After several glancing blows she manages to kick him hard in the face. He cries out in pain and lets go of her other foot. He staggers for a few steps clutching his face.

Deathstalker continues to deliver a barrage of strikes against his opponent.

After a few more seconds of the onslaught, Krelen Warrior #1 feels something solid behind his back. He looks behind to see that he has backed into a tree and can retreat no further.

Deathstalker smiles, raises both swords and strikes simultaneously with them, the blades crossing as they hit the Krelen’s neck.

There is a look of surprise on his face as his head separates from his body in a fountain of green blood.

Aliandra manages to lift her legs on to the branch and out of reach, just as Krelen Warrior #2 recovers.

He wipes the blood from his face, picks up his sword and uses it to hack at the base of the branch Aliandra is clinging to.

Deathstalker turns away from his dead opponent and, seeing Aliandra and the remaining Krelen Warrior, lets out a heavy sigh.

He puts two fingers in his mouth and whistles loudly.

Aliandra and the remaining Krelen both look around to see Deathstalker holding two swords covered in green blood.

Deathstalker glances either side at the two dead Krelen Warriors.

DEATHSTALKER

Is this pathetic girl really worth your life?

Aliandra frowns.

The remaining Krelen’s eyes dart between Aliandra, Deathstalker and his dead comrades.

DEATHSTALKER

Consider carefully, it may be the last thought you ever have.

The Krelen then quickly runs around the tree and disappears into the undergrowth.

Aliandra lets herself down from the branch and straightens her clothes.

ALIANDRA

That was rather foolish don’t you think?

DEATHSTALKER

You’re welcome, don’t mention it.

ALIANDRA

If he reports back they’ll have a dozen warriors out looking for us within the hour.

DEATHSTALKER

Remind me to ignore the next damsel in distress I happen across.

Aliandra bends down to pick up her dagger then sheaths it.

ALIANDRA

Don’t flatter yourself. I had the situation under control.

DEATHSTALKER

Ha! Enough of this, I have far more important matters to attend to.

Deathstalker walks over to his horse, sheaths his swords and prepares his saddle. Aliandra looks around then quickly walks towards Deathstalker.

ALIANDRA

Hold on, maybe I was a bit hasty. Your help was... not overly meddlesome.

DEATHSTALKER

Overly meddlesome? Is that your attempt at a compliment? Let me guess. You would like a ride?

Deathstalker mounts his horse.

ALIANDRA

A ride would be... much appreciated.

DEATHSTALKER

Better, much better. Tell me, what is your name girl? I like to know with whom I ride.

ALIANDRA

Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Aly, it is then.

ALIANDRA

Hey! Shorten my name and I’ll shorten your life.

Deathstalker laughs loudly.

DEATHSTALKER

You have got no shortage of guts, I’ll give you that much!

Still laughing, Deathstalker offers Aliandra his hand. She accepts and he lifts her on to the back of his horse.

DEATHSTALKER

Come... Aliandra, we should make haste. If you are right, the more distance we can cover before nightfall the better.

They gallop off along the trail heading deeper into the forest.

EXT. FOREST CAMPSITE - NIGHT

Deathstalker and Aliandra are sitting around a small camp fire.

Deathstalker is roasting a small forest animal on a makeshift spit while Aliandra warms her hands on the heat from the fire.

He takes the animal off the spit, tears off a leg and offers it to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Here, have something to eat.

Aliandra screws her face up but accepts the offer. After a careful examination she begins to peck at the meat.

Deathstalker tares off another leg for himself and begins to eat.

DEATHSTALKER

So, why were those Krelen’s chasing you?

Aliandra shakes her head in disbelief.

ALIANDRA

Why do you think a bunch of drooling Krelen Warriors were trying to catch a 16 year old human girl?

DEATHSTALKER

Firstly, if you’re 16, I am the prince of Vandia! Secondly, if those Krelen’s were only after a quick fix with a human girl they would have given up at the first sign of danger. No, there must be something else. Care to fill me in?

Aliandra pulls her top a little tighter around her shoulders.

ALIANDRA

Well, there were four warriors originally.

DEATHSTALKER

A-ha. Now we are getting somewhere. Perhaps you should start from the beginning.

Aliandra stops eating, pokes the fire with a stick and stares into the flames.

ALIANDRA

It seems like a nightmare. Yesterday morning everything was perfect. At least, perfectly normal. Then, out of nowhere this... monster with a huge axe appears on our door step.

Deathstalker stops eating.

DEATHSTALKER

Wearing a faceless horned helmet?

ALIANDRA

That’s right. But how...

DEATHSTALKER

This sounds like the demon that took the life of my beloved wife, Valotta. The path I follow now is to avenge her death.

ALIANDRA

Then it seems we are on the same path.

DEATHSTALKER

Tell me exactly what happened when this demon appeared.

Aliandra becomes tearful but manages to continue.

ALIANDRA

I... I don’t know exactly what happened. But I do know that I’m the only one in my family left alive.

DEATHSTALKER

May Asahl place a thousand curses on Salazane.

ALIANDRA

Salazane?

DEATHSTALKER

Aye. I have not been idle since my Valotta was murdered. I have discovered the demon is but a minion receiving instruction from a dark wizard named Salazane. It is his castle fortress near Lanfeer that I am bound for.

Aliandra wipes the tears from her eyes and takes a deep breath.

ALIANDRA

Then maybe my luck is changing. I mean, to run into you. What are the chances?

Deathstalker continues to eat.

DEATHSTALKER

Hmmm... slim at best. How did you survive?

Aliandra turns to stare at the fire again.

ALIANDRA

The monster attacked my Mother and Brother who were out front. They were dead before I even knew what was happening. My Father attacked but it was clear he could not survive the onslaught of that unworldly beast for long. He shouted at me to run. Run and not look back.

Aliandra becomes tearful again.

ALIANDRA

I’m ashamed to say that I did just that. I ran, and ran, and ran.

Deathstalker finishes his food and throws the bone into the fire.

DEATHSTALKER

You did the right thing girl. If you had not run, you too would now be dead.

ALIANDRA

Anyway, I must have eventually passed out. The next thing I remember is waking up in the middle of the forest with 4 Krelen Warriors drooling over me. Quick as thought I stabbed the nearest one in the chest and ran for my life. That is when I... bumped into you.

Deathstalker grunts.

DEATHSTALKER

And I thought I’d had a bad day.

Aliandra smiles and wipes the tears from her cheeks.

Deathstalker pulls out Valotta’s necklace from his tunic pocket and begins to roll it between his fingers while he talks.

DEATHSTALKER

The path I am taking will be fraught with danger. If you wish to join me you will need to be strong. I can make no promises of success, only that I will give my last breath to see that justice is served.

Aliandra sits up straight.

ALIANDRA

I may not have great physical strength but I have other skills.

Aliandra looks at the necklace then closes her eyes tightly. A few moments later the necklace begins to levitate out of Deathstalker’s hand.

His look of surprise is soon followed by a frown and he grabs the necklace out of the air with his other hand.

DEATHSTALKER

Very clever, but magic is one thing I can do without.

Aliandra opens her eyes and shrugs.

ALIANDRA

Suit yourself.

A small distance from their camp we see a shadowy hand carefully push aside some foliage which is obscuring the view of Deathstalker and Aliandra.

Deathstalker picks up a rolled blanket and throws it over to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Come, get some sleep we have a long day’s ride tomorrow.

Aliandra unrolls the blanket and attempts to find a comfortable position to sleep.

ALIANDRA

To Lanfeer?

DEATHSTALKER

I plan to make a short detour to Cold Whisper Pass first.

ALIANDRA

Why, what’s there?

Deathstalker places a blanket behind his head leans back against a tree stump.

DEATHSTALKER

Maybe something, maybe nothing. Either way I need to find out before we continue.

Aliandra yawns and settles down to sleep.

ALIANDRA

You sound like my father, always talking in riddles.

DEATHSTALKER

Enough talk. Get some rest.

Deathstalker looks over but Aliandra’s eyes are already closed.

A small distance from their camp, we see the shadowy hand carefully return the foliage to its original position.

Deathstalker and Aliandra are once again obscured from view.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY

Morning sunlight streams through the hall windows. Salazane is fast asleep at the desk, his head and arms resting on a pile of open manuscripts.

Exantus appears in the doorway. His entrance is barred by two Soul Demon guards. He peers into the room and sees Salazane asleep.

He pauses for a moment then coughs quietly. Salazane does not react. Exantus coughs a little louder but there is still no reaction. Exantus rolls his eyes then clears his throat loudly.

Salazane wakes with a start.

SALAZANE

What...

EXANTUS

My apologies, sire. I have some news.

Salazane rubs his eyes and looks around the room. His eyes narrow on Exantus.

SALAZANE

It had better be important.

EXANTUS

I can assure you it is, sire.

Salazane signals to the Soul Demons and they let Exantus pass.

Exantus walks to the center of the room and takes a small bow. He then turns back to the entrance and claps his hands twice.

An attractive young servant woman, TOELLE, appears in the doorway carrying a tray with food and drink. Exantus turns back to Salazane.

EXANTUS

I thought you would appreciate some... sustenance, sire.

Salazane leers at Toelle and nods his head. With another signal from Salazane, the guards let her pass and she enters the room.

Watched closely by both men, she continues over to Salazane and places the tray on the edge of his desk.

With a shaking hand she pours some liquid from a jug into a cup. Salazane ignores the drink and ogles her ample cleavage.

Her shaking causes the cup to tip over, spilling liquid on the desk and Salazane’s lap. He stands up, pushes her away and brushes off his clothes.

TOELLE

A thousand apologies my lord!

SALAZANE

Clumsy wench! Be gone!

She looks over to Exantus who signals her to leave. She quickly exits through the main door leaving the tray behind.

EXANTUS

I will see that she is suitably punished, sire.

SALAZANE

I would expect nothing less! These manuscripts are irreplaceable.

Salazane moves some papers away from the liquid, gives his clothes a final brush and sits back down.

SALAZANE

On second thoughts, I would like to see that the punishment is carried out properly. Have her bought to my chamber this evening and I will administer her punishment personally.

With the hint of a smile, Exantus nods.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

SALAZANE

Now, back to business. What was so urgent that it could not wait?

EXANTUS

I have just received important news from one of my agents regarding Deathstalker, sire.

SALAZANE

Go on.

EXANTUS

It seems he intends to visit Cold Whisper Pass.

Salazane frowns. After a moment, his frown gradually turns into a smile.

SALAZANE

Not exactly what I had planned but I think I can make this work to our advantage. What time do you expect him to arrive there?

EXANTUS

I understand he should arrive there later this morning. Sometime around midday.

SALAZANE

In that case I have much to do and very little time. Leave me now.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

Exantus bows and exits the hall. Salazane begins to search through his manuscripts and books. He eventually finds the one he’s looking for and smiles.

EXT. FOREST EDGE - DAY

Aliandra sits behind Deathstalker as they exit the forest on horse back.

DEATHSTALKER

Kalinar lies North East of here.

Deathstalker points towards the baron, mountainous region in the distance.

ALIANDRA

How long will it take to get there?

DEATHSTALKER

No more than a couple hours ride I’ll wager.

ALIANDRA

I still don’t understand why you won’t tell me the purpose of this detour.

Deathstalker turns to face Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Listen to me carefully. What I am about to attempt could be dangerous and I do not want you getting any ideas. This is one of those times where you must, do what I say, not what I do.

Aliandra shakes her head.

ALIANDRA

More riddles. Come on then, let’s get... what ever it is you need to do, over with.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye.

Deathstalker faces forward and they ride off in the direction of Kalinar.

EXT. KALINAR - DAY

Still on horseback, Deathstalker and Aliandra reach the brow of a hill. Deathstalker brings his horse to a halt.

In the distance, half shrouded in mist, there are two large obelisk stones.

Deathstalker dismounts.

DEATHSTALKER

This is as far as you go.

ALIANDRA

But...

DEATHSTALKER

No arguments! If I’m not back before the sun reaches it’s zenith, do not come looking for me. Leave this god forsaken place as quickly as my horse will carry you.

ALIANDRA

OK, fine! I’ll just wait here like a good girl.

Aliandra shakes her head and folds her arms indignantly.

Deathstalker frowns back at her, pats his horse then turns and walks towards the obelisks.

EXT. KALINAR - OBELISKS - DAY

Deathstalker approaches the giant stones. They are at least 20 feet tall with a gap of about 5 feet between them at ground level.

There is a low lying mist which surrounds the whole area.

The mist is thickest in the space between the obelisks, making it impossible to see from one side to the other.

With one hand on his sword hilt, Deathstalker slowly approaches the space between the obelisks.

He stares into the mist but sees nothing.

DEATHSTALKER

Curse this god forsaken place.

Deathstalker begins to turn away but stops when he hears a very faint sound. He quickly turns back to face the mist and listens carefully.

The sound is a single whispering voice, but it is too quiet to distinguish the words. The voice becomes louder and is soon joined by many others.

Strange and vague shadows begin to form and dissipate in the mist.

The voices continue to increase in volume. Many of them are now shouting and screaming. It eventually becomes a deafening, garbled, cacophony of sound.

Deathstalker closes his eyes and covers his ears with his hands.

DEATHSTALKER

Valotta!

All the sounds stop and the shadows disappear.

Deathstalker opens his eyes and cautiously uncovers his ears.

A single vague shadow in the shape of a human figure begins to form in the mist.

Deathstalker watches intently as the shadow becomes more solid and defined.

After a few moments the details are clear enough to see that it is Valotta, albeit a ghostly, shimmering likeness.

DEATHSTALKER

Valotta?

Valotta smiles and replies with a gentle, but eerie, whispering voice.

VALOTTA

Deathstalker my love.

DEATHSTALKER

Is... is that really you?

VALOTTA

Aye. It’s good to see you one last time.

DEATHSTALKER

Are you in pain?

VALOTTA

No, there is no pain or suffering where I exist now.

DEATHSTALKER

I must have thought of a thousand things to say to you should this opportunity come to pass. But right now I cannot think of a single one! I just wish there was some way to get you back again.

Valotta smiles again.

VALOTTA

I miss you too my love. But what has occurred is unchangeable.

DEATHSTALKER

I cannot forgive so easily. My soul cries out for vengeance.

VALOTTA

Perhaps if you could see what I have seen, you may change your mind. I have one final journey to make and then eternal peace will be mine.

DEATHSTALKER

And what of the coward who took your life?

VALOTTA

Salazane? He will eventually be forced to judge himself, and no man much respects himself in his deepest heart. I have discovered that there is an inevitable balance to such things in death.

Deathstalker frowns.

DEATHSTALKER

I have sworn to avenge your death because I thought it was the only true path to take.

Valotta shakes her head.

VALOTTA

So, in my memory you kill another? I would rather you remember the good things about me and not taint my memory with the blood of another. If you waste too much energy on hate you give up something precious, something that can never be uncovered again. Forgiveness requires far more strength than murder.

Deathstalker scratches his head.

DEATHSTALKER

Perhaps Scleria was right after all.

Valotta’s image flickers and shimmers and she looks down.

When she looks up again, her eyes narrow and she begins to grin. Her voice is now much deeper.

VALOTTA

On the other hand, perhaps Salazane should pay for his actions, sooner rather than later.

Deathstalker frowns.

DEATHSTALKER

But...

VALOTTA

Perhaps I was too hasty. For one to cause such pain should require some reparation.

Deathstalker looks around and puts a hand on his sword hilt.

VALOTTA

What are you searching for? I am right here. The facts are so simple, even you should be able to understand. Salazane took my life. He enjoyed doing it. He must pay.

DEATHSTALKER

Something’s wrong.

Valotta’s image shimmers again and her eyes start to turn red. When she speaks, the tone is intense and demonic.

VALOTTA

Of course something’s wrong! My death remains unavenged while you hesitate.

Just for a moment, her eyes return to normal and she cries out in pain.

VALOTTA

Help me!

Almost straight away her eyes turn red again and she begins to laugh.

VALOTTA

Salazane is laughing at you.

The voice begins to sound more like a male voice.

VALOTTA

I am laughing at you.

Valotta’s image begins to move towards Deathstalker.

The laughter gets louder as her image begins to move faster towards him.

VALOTTA

I am waiting for you, Deathstalker!

Deathstalker draws his sword but when the image reaches the edge of the mist it dissipates into thin air.

The last few remaining wisps seem to pass through Deathstalker and he inhales sharply as if winded.

The mist between the obelisks begins to fade away. A few moments later it has completely disappeared leaving a clear view to the other side.

DEATHSTALKER

Asahl. Even in death he taunts her.

Deathstalker sheaths his sword and begins to run back towards Aliandra.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY

Salazane sits behind his desk. His hands grip the arms of his chair tightly and his whole body is tense and trembling. His eyes are completely black.

He then lets out a deep breath and his whole body relaxes. His eyes return to normal and he lets go of the chair arms. His face is pale and he continues to breath heavily.

He bangs on the desk with his fist.

A few moments later, Exantus appears in the doorway. He waits for Salazane to signal the Soul Demon guards to let him pass and then enters the hall.

EXANTUS

Is everything alright, sire?

Salazane closes his eyes, takes a deep breath and opens them again.

SALAZANE

My plan went well but the effort has drained my strength. I must postpone my session with...?

EXANTUS

Nehoc, sire?

SALAZANE

Yes, Nehoc.

EXANTUS

As you wish.

Salazane attempts to stand up from the chair but his weak arms and legs fail him and he sits back down.

SALAZANE

Well, don’t just stand there. Give me a hand you fool!

EXANTUS

Of course, of course, yes, sire.

Exantus rushes around the desk and helps Salazane get out of the chair.

SALAZANE

Help me to my chamber. I must rest and regenerate my strength.

With Salazane leaning on Exantus for support, they walk towards the doorway.

EXT. KALINAR - DAY

Deathstalker is still running when he reaches Aliandra who is standing by his horse.

He quickly mounts his horse and offers a hand to Aliandra.

She accepts and he lifts her on to the back.

ALIANDRA

So?

DEATHSTALKER

So, we’ve wasted enough time.

ALIANDRA

I guess it didn’t go as well as you’d hoped?

DEATHSTALKER

Aye, that much is truth. I have seen that Salazane can reach Valotta beyond even the veil of death. I swear to you here and now that he will suffer the consequences of his evil deeds at the judgement of my blade.

Aliandra raises her eyebrows.

ALIANDRA

You’ll get no argument from me. So we’re back on track then?

Deathstalker nods.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye, let us hope the gods deem our intent worthy of their succor.

They gallop off through Kalinar, heading away from the Obelisks.

EXT. FOREST - DAY

Aliandra sits behind Deathstalker as they pass through another forested area on horseback.

ALIANDRA

I’m glad to be away from that desolate place. What did you call it?

DEATHSTALKER

Kalinar.

ALIANDRA

I think Asahl’s mind was somewhere else when he created such a barren landscape.

Deathstalker laughs.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye, perhaps your are right. That would explain a great deal.

ALIANDRA

I’m a forest person.

Aliandra looks around and nods.

ALIANDRA

Yes, definitely a forest person.

DEATHSTALKER

That’s fortuitous. I think our path to Lanfeer will be covered most of the way now.

ALIANDRA

How long will it take us to get there?

DEATHSTALKER

Another day or so, maybe more.

ALIANDRA

I guess we should...

They hear the sound of a twig snapping and Deathstalker holds up his hand to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Shhh.

Deathstalker looks around and slowly dismounts.

DEATHSTALKER

Stay here. Don’t move.

Aliandra nods. Deathstalker draws a dagger and continues very slowly down the track on foot.

After he’s gone about 50 feet he hears a muffled cry coming from behind him.

He spins around to see that Aliandra has gone. He then hears a rustling sound and sees some movement in the foliage near his horse.

He runs back towards the movement but before he reaches it he is caught in a hidden trap.

The trap surrounds him in a strong rope netting and then hoists him up into the air. He is left hanging upside down about 5 feet above the ground. In the commotion he drops his dagger which falls to the floor.

He struggles but the trap just gets tighter. He lets out a cry of anger.

As he hangs upside down, unable to move his arms or legs, the trap slowly spins around, allowing him a 360 degree view of the surrounding area. During the first turn he sees no one.

The trap stops and begins to spin back in the opposite direction. As it does so, Deathstalker sees a figure approaching him with a large club.

He narrows his eyes trying to make out the figure through the netting.

When the figure gets closer it draws back the club. Just before the club hits Deathstalker’s head he clearly sees that it is a Krelen Warrior.

Deathstalker blacks out.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - DUNGEON CELL - DAY

The Krelen fortress is built into the side of a steep hill in a lightly wooded area.

The only outward sign of habitation is at the front with what looks like the entrance to a cave. Two Krelen Guards stand watch outside.

The Krelen dungeon is dark and damp. The sound of dripping water can be heard in the background.

Deathstalker and Aliandra are both sitting on the floor of a dungeon cell. Their hands are shackled to chains which are securely attached to the rear wall. All their weapons have been removed.

The darkness is only alleviated by a small barred section of the cell door which allows some light from the dungeon passageway to pass through.

Deathstalker is still unconscious but Aliandra is awake.

ALIANDRA

Hey. Wake up.

Deathstalker doesn’t move. Aliandra stretches and manages to kick him with one of her feet.

ALIANDRA

Come on. Wake up!

Deathstalker groans and slowly sits up.

DEATHSTALKER

My head.

He moves a hand towards his head but stops when he sees the attached chain. He looks around the cell.

DEATHSTALKER

Where are we?

ALIANDRA

As far as I can tell we’re in a Krelen fortress, somewhere in the forest.

DEATHSTALKER

Are you unharmed?

ALIANDRA

So far. They didn’t bash me over the head. How do you feel?

Deathstalker rubs his head.

DEATHSTALKER

Like I just fought a fang toothed Cracus, but I will live. Did you see how we got down here?

ALIANDRA

Only partly. I was blindfolded most of the way.

DEATHSTALKER

Damn these Krelen filth. We were getting close to Lanfeer then this happens.

ALIANDRA

I do know that it wasn’t a long journey, so we are not far from where we were captured.

DEATHSTALKER

That is something I suppose.

Deathstalker examines the shackles and chains. He then stands up, wraps the chain around his wrists several times and begins to tug at the wall fastenings.

ALIANDRA

I already tried that.

Deathstalker stops and looks at her askance.

DEATHSTALKER

You’ll forgive me if I try it for myself?

Aliandra shrugs her shoulders.

Deathstalker puts all his weight on the chains and begins to pull hard. He groans with the effort but the wall fastenings don’t move.

Still breathing heavily, he sits back down and looks at Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

We need a plan.

They hear the sound of a key turning in the lock of the cell door.

DEATHSTALKER

Keep your mouth closed. I will address our captors.

Aliandra puts her hands together and bows her head.

ALIANDRA

As my lord Deathstalker commands.

Deathstalker frowns. Aliandra sees his reaction and smiles back innocently.

Deathstalker shakes his head then gathers up a length of chain in each hand, shortening the distance between the wall fastenings and his wrist shackles.

The door opens with a loud creak. Two Krelen Guards wearing the standard black uniform enter the cell followed by DRAGG, the Krelen Commander. Dragg is fat and ugly and wears a dark red uniform.

The three stand in a line with DRAGG in the middle, a safe distance from Deathstalker and Aliandra.

Deathstalker slowly stands up and moves to the limit of his shortened chains. He is taller than all three Krelens.

Dragg smiles, revealing sharp, crooked teeth. He glances at Aliandra and then turns to Deathstalker.

DRAGG

So, this is the infamous Deathstalker? Not much to look at by all accounts. I fail to see what all the fuss is about.

Deathstalker snarls and the two Krelen Guards grin.

DEATHSTALKER

Cut these chains and I guarantee you all the ‘fuss’ you can handle.

Dragg smiles.

DRAGG

Impressive words. But just words all the same. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is commander Dragg. I control all the Krelen forces in this region.

Deathstalker looks at the two guards and then back to Dragg.

DEATHSTALKER

I see. Looking at your two friends, I can only assume that rank is handed out on the basis of appearance. The ugliest earning the highest rank?

The two guards glance nervously at each other and Dragg’s smile fades.

DRAGG

I thought this could be an amicable relationship. No matter, I will waste no further time. I have it on good authority that Salazane is looking for you.

DEATHSTALKER

And what if he is? I fail to see what it has to do with you.

DRAGG

Then let me edify you. I understand that Salazane has great wealth and power at his disposal. If he wants you badly enough, he will pay what I demand.

DEATHSTALKER

Let me guess. You’d like a magic cream to rub on that face of yours. Something that stops females being sick whenever they look at you.

The two warriors glance at each other again and Aliandra stifles a snicker by placing a hand over her mouth.

Dragg’s eyes narrow and dart from Aliandra back to Deathstalker. He then takes a couple of steps closer to Deathstalker, stops and draws his dagger.

DRAGG

You had better thank whatever heathen god you pray to that you are worth more to me alive at this moment. Otherwise, I’d...

DEATHSTALKER

Otherwise you’d what?

Dragg takes another step forward and grinds his teeth.

Deathstalker suddenly lets go of the slack in his chains, moves forwards and head butts Dragg.

Dragg cries out in pain, clutches his head and stumbles backwards.

Still holding his head with one hand he signals the guards with the other.

DRAGG

Teach this dog some manners.

Both guards attack Deathstalker. The first guard is winded when Deathstalker kicks him in the stomach.

The second dodges another kick from Deathstalker and punches him in the face.

The first guard recovers and kicks Deathstalker in the stomach causing him to fall to his knees. Both guards then deliver a series of punches to Deathstalker’s body and head.

Aliandra screams.

ALIANDRA

Stop! You’ll kill him!

The guards stop and look at Dragg. Dragg sneers at Aliandra then turns to the guards.

DRAGG

Enough. He’s no good to us dead.

The guards resume their original position standing either side of Dragg.

Still on his knees, and with several cuts and bruises, Deathstalker lifts his head to look at Dragg.

DEATHSTALKER

Is that the best you can do?

Dragg wipes some green blood from his nose with a cloth. He ignores Deathstalker and turns to Aliandra.

DRAGG

I have not decided what to do with you yet. If you are worth something to Salazane, all well and good. If not, I am sure you could keep the guards amused for a few hours at least.

Dragg glances at Deathstalker then turns back to Aliandra.

DRAGG

They are well aware that you killed three Krelen Warriors between you. I imagine they would enjoy showing you their... appreciation given the opportunity.

Deathstalker snarls. Dragg pockets the cloth and his eyes widen.

DRAGG

Ah yes, I nearly forgot.

Dragg pulls out Valotta’s necklace from the same pocket.

DRAGG

Trinkets, Deathstalker? I’m surprised at you. Perhaps it has some sentimental value?

Deathstalker stands up.

DEATHSTALKER

Look after that, I will be taking it back very soon.

Dragg Laughs and pockets the necklace. He signals the guards to follow him as he turns to exit the cell.

DRAGG

Do enjoy your stay.

The three leave the cell and the door is shut and locked behind them. Dragg’s laughter fades into the distance as he continues down the passageway.

Deathstalker and Aliandra look at each other.

ALIANDRA

Are you alright?

Deathstalker sits on the floor and rubs his head.

DEATHSTALKER

I’ll survive.

ALIANDRA

Any ideas about how to get out of here?

DEATHSTALKER

I was just about to ask you the same thing.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - BED CHAMBER - DAY

Salazane’s bed chamber is sparsely furnished apart from a grand four poster bed. The only window overlooks the castle courtyard.

Salazane is lying on the bed reading a book.

He hears the sound of someone quietly knocking on the door.

His eyes narrow and he puts down the book.

SALAZANE

Yes.

The door opens slowly to reveal Toelle, the young servant woman from earlier in the day.

SALAZANE

You may enter. Close the door behind you.

She nervously follows his instructions then stands by the closed door looking down at the floor. She takes a deep breath then looks up at Salazane.

TOELLE

My lord, please. I must apologize for...

Salazane holds up his hand.

SALAZANE

Enough! I did not bring you here to listen to your pathetic, whining voice.

She cringes.

SALAZANE

Remove your clothes.

Her eyes widen with surprise but she does not move.

Salazane cocks his head to one side and frowns.

SALAZANE

Was I not clear?

She takes another deep breath then begins to unbutton her top, letting it fall to the floor. Salazane leers at her naked torso.

SALAZANE

Come closer.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - COURTYARD - DAY

The sound of a woman’s scream echoes through the courtyard.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN GATE - DAY

Salazane is standing at the castle gate. The portcullis is open and two Soul Demons stand guard just outside the entrance.

Salazane looks out over the countryside which is covered in an orange hue from the setting sun.

He hears footsteps approaching from the courtyard behind him and turns to see who it is. He recognizes Exantus and turns back to face the view through the castle gate.

SALAZANE

I grow impatient. Another day has slipped by and my demon force is still incomplete.

Exantus continues his approach, stopping when he reaches Salazane’s side.

EXANTUS

I understand your concern, sire.

SALAZANE

You bring good news I hope?

Exantus grimaces.

EXANTUS

Not exactly.

Salazane spins around and glares at Exantus.

SALAZANE

Explain yourself.

Exantus swallows.

EXANTUS

W... well. I have received word that Deathstalker has been captured by Commander Dragg of the Krelen forces.

SALAZANE

Dragg. I should have dealt with him a long time ago. I knew he was trouble.

EXANTUS

My agent informs me that he intends to... ransom Deathstalker to you. Dragg seems well aware of your interest in him.

Salazane turns back to face the view through the gate.

SALAZANE

So, Dragg wishes to play a high stakes game does he? Under normal circumstances I would happily oblige him. However, time is of the essence and this situation must be resolved as quickly as possible.

Salazane turns back to face Exantus.

SALAZANE

I assume you can arrange for your agent to aid Deathstalker’s escape?

Exantus frowns briefly then raises his eyebrows and nods.

EXANTUS

I believe that should be possible.

SALAZANE

In that case, make it so.

EXANTUS

There is one other thing, sire. I understand that Deathstalker has a companion with him. A young girl. How would you like to deal with her?

Salazane pauses for a moment and then shrugs his shoulders.

SALAZANE

This can only be to our advantage. She could be an additional incentive should one be required. See to it that they are both able to escape.

Exantus nods.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire. You may consider it done.

Exantus turns and begins to walk away.

SALAZANE

One more thing.

Exantus stops and turns back to face Salazane.

EXANTUS

Yes, sire?

SALAZANE

I would like Nehoc prepared and bought to the main hall tomorrow morning. At best, Deathstalker will not now arrive until the day after tomorrow. We may as well use the additional time profitably.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

Exantus turns and walks back across the courtyard.

Salazane returns to the view through the gate. The sun has nearly set and the countryside is now covered in a dark shade of red.

SALAZANE

For as it is written in the scriptures of Asahl: “And when there be one master to rule all; so shall the rivers of blood flow freely”.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - DUNGEON CELL - NIGHT

Deathstalker is lying on his back on the cell floor, his head supported by his hands.

Aliandra is sitting with her back against the rear wall, throwing small stones at the cell door.

Deathstalker suddenly sits up and holds his wrists out towards Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Magic! Surely you can conjure up a spell to unlock these shackles?

Aliandra stops what she’s doing, dusts off her hands then looks sheepishly at Deathstalker.

ALIANDRA

You’ve already seen my magic repertoire. I can levitate small objects. That’s about my limit.

Deathstalker rolls his eyes, lowers his hands and moans.

DEATHSTALKER

Why is good magic always so weak?

Aliandra shrugs her shoulders.

ALIANDRA

Beats me.

DEATHSTALKER

Hmmm... me also.

Deathstalker looks around the cell.

DEATHSTALKER

Any idea what time it is? I lost track while I was out and there seems to be no way of telling in this place.

ALIANDRA

I think it must be around midnight.

Deathstalker lies back down on the floor.

DEATHSTALKER

I have no desire to spend the night here but it looks like we have little choice in the matter. Perhaps an opportunity will present itself in the morning.

ALIANDRA

At least we’re in no immediate danger. While Dragg needs us alive I mean.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye. You are right. However, I do not think we can count on the situation remaining thus for too long. I have no wish to outstay our welcome.

Aliandra nods her head.

DEATHSTALKER

Get some rest. Things will seem better in the morning.

Deathstalker lifts his head and looks at Aliandra with a sly grin.

DEATHSTALKER

And anyway, your awesome magic powers are no good to me if you cannot stay awake.

Aliandra sees his look and responds by poking out her tongue.

Deathstalker laughs and returns to his sleeping position.

Aliandra smiles to herself then gathers some straw from the corner of the cell. Using the straw as a makeshift pillow, she settles down to sleep on the floor.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - DUNGEON CELL - DAY

Nehoc is fast asleep on the cell floor. He is still chained to the rear wall.

We see Exantus’ face peering through the small bars in the door.

EXANTUS

Unlock the door.

Exantus’ face disappears and we hear the sound of the door being unlocked.

The sound disturbs Nehoc and he slowly stands up. The door creaks open and Exantus enters the cell followed by two Soul Demons.

Exantus is holding a fire stick which lights the cell. He waves it towards Nehoc and addresses the Soul Demons.

EXANTUS

Release him.

The Soul Demons approach Nehoc and each grab an arm. He struggles but they hold him firmly.

Still able to control him with one hand each, they unlock the shackles with a single key which they pass between them.

The shackles and chains fall to the ground with a loud noise. Nehoc begins to struggle harder but the Soul Demons hold him with little effort.

Exantus laughs.

EXANTUS

You are wasting your strength. Ten men your size could not overcome these beasts.

Exantus turns and walks towards the exit.

EXANTUS

Bring him.

The Soul Demons follow Exantus, forcing Nehoc to walk towards the cell door.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY

The hall windows are covered with drapes which cut out most of the sunlight.

The main source of light comes from several candles positioned on the floor.

The candles form the shape of a large circle in the middle of the room. Leading out of a gap in the circle are two parallel lines of candles which mark a path to the entrance.

Salazane is sitting behind his desk with his eyes closed.

He is mumbling something inaudible.

When Exantus appears in the doorway, Salazane suddenly stops mumbling and opens his eyes.

EXANTUS

Are you ready, sire?

Salazane nods. Exantus steps to one side and signals the two Soul Demons and Nehoc to enter the hall.

With a Soul Demon holding each arm, Nehoc is led down the path and into the circle of candles.

Salazane stands up and walks around to the front of his desk. He comes to a stop just before the step down to the lower floor level.

The Soul Demons lead Nehoc to the center of the circle and hold him there.

Salazane points towards the ground.

SALAZANE

Leave him there.

The Soul Demons push Nehoc to the ground, he lands on his hands and knees and moans.

The Soul Demons turn away and exit the hall.

SALAZANE

It is good to see you again, Nehoc. Now it’s just you and I.

Nehoc lifts his head, looks up at Salazane, then scans the rest of the room.

SALAZANE

That’s right. No tricks, no traps, just you and I. I imagine you have dreamed about having just such an opportunity for some days now.

Nehoc slowly stands up.

NEHOC

If you speak the truth, I will make you wish you had never been born.

Salazane smiles and raises his arms to shoulder height and presents his opens palms.

SALAZANE

Indeed. Here is your chance to avenge the death of your family.

Nehoc looks around the room again.

SALAZANE

Your precious wife and child. They would still be alive and breathing today if it was not for me.

Nehoc’s eyes come to rest on Salazane. Salazane lowers his arms close to his side. His hands open with the palms facing Nehoc.

NEHOC

And you are telling me this... why? Because you want me to kill you?

SALAZANE

You must do whatever your conscience tells you. I am simply telling you that I gave the order to have them killed. In fact, if truth be told, I should say it amused me to give the order.

Nehoc begins to clench his fists and snarls. Salazane smiles.

SALAZANE

That’s it. Imagine how satisfying it would be to have your hands around my neck. Slowly squeezing the life from my body.

Nehoc tightens his fists and he begins to shake.

SALAZANE

Yes, that’s it.

Salazane closes his eyes and his hands start to glow red.

Nehoc lets out a cry of anger and runs towards Salazane.

He is only able to take a couple of steps before he is suddenly enveloped by a red mist. The mist stops him in his tracks.

Nehoc struggles harder and harder but he is still unable to move.

Salazane opens his eyes and begins to laugh.

SALAZANE

The more you fight me, the easier this becomes. I can feel your hate. It controls you now and I control it! Your hate is my adversary, the catalyst for the reaction.

Nehoc cries out and his face contorts in and out of hideous expressions. Salazane’s hands glow even brighter and begin to shake.

SALAZANE

A reaction from which there is no escape.

Nehoc cries out again.

SALAZANE

Yes! Your soul is mine!

Salazane’s whole body twitches and his hands begin to return to their normal color.

At the same instant, the red mist surrounding Nehoc dissipates and he slumps to the ground face down.

Salazane exhales deeply, bows his head and slowly walks back to his chair. He supports himself as he moves with one hand resting on the desk. He sits down and sighs.

Exantus appears in the doorway.

EXANTUS

Are you finished, sire?

Salazane looks up and signals with his hand for him to enter the room.

Exantus enters the hall followed by two Soul Demons. They make their way down the path and into the circle of candles. They stop when they reach Nehoc’s unconscious body.

EXANTUS

Bring him.

The Soul Demons reach down, each grab an arm and lift him to his feet. His eyes are wide open and his face is hideously contorted. Exantus sees his face and grimaces.

EXANTUS

I will never get used to that.

Salazane looks at Nehoc and then at Exantus.

SALAZANE

See to it that he is prepared for service. And for Asahl’s sake cover his face!

EXANTUS

Of course, sire.

Exantus quickly turns and signals the Soul Demons to follow him. They exit the circle and head for the doorway.

Salazane closes his eyes and takes a deep breath.

SALAZANE

I do not wish to be disturbed again today.

Exantus stops and turns to face Salazane.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

Exantus turns back and continues to exit the hall along with Nehoc and the Soul Demons.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - DUNGEON CELL - DAY

Deathstalker and Aliandra are both asleep. Deathstalker is lying near the middle of the rear wall while Aliandra is lying close to one of the rear corners.

The cell is very dark as the fire stick in the passageway is no longer burning.

The sound of a key quietly turning in the lock of the cell door wakes Deathstalker.

He opens his eyes to view the door but doesn’t move. He then closes his eyes most of the way, leaving a small gap just big enough to see through.

The door slowly opens and ZYLKAA, a human female, creeps into the room. She slowly closes the door behind her then strains her eyes as she looks around the cell.

Her eyes focus on the figure of Deathstalker asleep on the floor and she tiptoes over towards him.

She kneels down close to his hands and takes a pin from her hair. She proceeds to place the pin into the lock of one of his wrist shackles.

ZYLKAA

I’ll have you out of these things and we can be far away from here before they even know your gone.

Deathstalker watches her but remains motionless.

Zylkaa manages to unlock the first shackle and then starts on the second one.

As soon as the second shackle is unlocked, Deathstalker grabs her arms.

She yelps, yanks her arms free and backs away towards the door.

Aliandra wakes up and lifts her head off the floor.

ALIANDRA

What’s happening?

Zylkaa turns to Aliandra.

ZYLKAA

What the... where did you come from?

Aliandra sits up, rubs her eyes and looks from Zylkaa to Deathstalker.

Deathstalker also sits up.

DEATHSTALKER

It seems we have an unexpected visitor. One wishing to help us escape.

Zylkaa’s head suddenly turns towards the door. She turns back to Deathstalker and Aliandra and puts a finger over her lips.

ZYLKAA

Shhh. I think I heard something. Don’t move.

She turns and carefully tip toes closer to the cell door.

Deathstalker and Aliandra glance at each other.

When she get’s close to the door there is a loud crashing sound.

The whole of the cell door is ripped from it’s hinges and flies into the room.

Deathstalker and Aliandra retreat backwards towards the rear wall and shield their faces with their arms.

The door hits Zylkaa head on and knocks her off her feet.

With a sickening thud it lands on top of her.

Dust fills the cell room as Deathstalker and Aliandra uncover their faces and strain to see what has occurred.

They look down at the door lying on top of Zylkaa in the middle of the floor and then look over towards the now door-less entrance.

A large amount of dust still obscures the doorway. As the dust settles they see a large figure standing there, holding a fire stick.

As the dust continues to settle, Deathstalker recognizes the figure as Farac.

Deathstalker smiles.

DEATHSTALKER

Farac!

Farac grins back.

FARAC

I thought you could use a hand, old friend.

ALIANDRA

You know this ape?

Farac and Deathstalker both turn to Aliandra and scowl.

Aliandra gestures towards the door.

ALIANDRA

Well, he just killed this woman who was trying to help us escape.

Farac looks down at the door and sees Zylkaa’s arms protruding from underneath.

FARAC

Hmmm... shame. A casualty of war. It could not be avoided.

ALIANDRA

Of war?

FARAC

A figure of speech.

Aliandra frowns at Deathstalker who shrugs his shoulders.

Farac gestures with a hand for them to follow him.

FARAC

Enough talk! Come, we do not have much time. We must move swiftly.

Deathstalker and Aliandra navigate their way around the door and follow Farac as he turns and heads down the dungeon passageway.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - DUNGEON PASSAGEWAY - DAY

Farac, followed by Deathstalker and Aliandra, lights the way with his fire stick as they continue down the dark and twisting passageway.

ALIANDRA

Can we trust this man?

Deathstalker turns back to face Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

With your life.

Aliandra raises her hands.

ALIANDRA

Okay, okay. Just asking.

Still continuing down the passageway, Deathstalker turns to face Farac again.

DEATHSTALKER

How do you know where you are going? These passages all look the same.

Farac stops, holds up the fire stick and points towards a small white cross on the wall.

FARAC

I marked my route on the way in.

Farac glances back towards Aliandra.

FARAC

You seem to have picked up some... extra baggage.

DEATHSTALKER

Ha. You could say that. It is a long story. Too long for our current predicament.

Farac nods and continues on, followed by Deathstalker then Aliandra. Farac steps over a Krelen Guard lying on the floor.

FARAC

Watch your step.

Deathstalker steps over the guard.

DEATHSTALKER

It seems you left more than crosses to mark your way.

Farac turns and grins at Deathstalker.

FARAC

So I did.

DEATHSTALKER

How much further?

FARAC

Not far. I’ve blocked the entrance to the dungeon, so that should keep most of the Krelens out of our way. For a while at least.

DEATHSTALKER

Great. Then how do we get out of here?

Farac grins again.

FARAC

Follow me.

Farac turns and continues down another passageway.

Deathstalker and Aliandra follow him.

A little further on they hear a voice shouting. It gets louder as they continue.

They approach a larger passageway that has two dungeon cell doors. Farac stops and turns around to face Deathstalker and Aliandra.

FARAC

I had a disagreement with three Krelens on the way in. I had the element of surprise so I knocked them out and locked them in one of these cells.

DRAGG (O.S.)

Is someone there? Let me out! I demand to be let out right away.

Deathstalker frowns.

DEATHSTALKER

I recognise that voice. Wait here.

Deathstalker carefully walks over to the first cell, keeping his back close to the wall.

He looks through the barred view hole in the door. In the dim light he can just make out the figure of a HUMAN MALE who is chained to the back wall.

HUMAN MALE

Is that you my love?

Deathstalker raises an eyebrow.

DEATHSTALKER

Sorry, wrong cell.

DRAGG (O.S.)

Hey, I hear voices. Let me out. A reward for the person who releases me.

Still staying close to the wall, Deathstalker moves to the second cell and looks through the bars in the door. He sees Dragg’s face staring back at him.

Dragg gasps and backs away from the cell door.

DRAGG

You!

Deathstalker grins back at him and sees the two Krelen Guards sprawled out on the cell floor.

DEATHSTALKER

You look confused Dragg. Perhaps I can... edify you?

Dragg snarls at Deathstalker then runs over to the nearest guard and tries to shake him awake.

DRAGG

Wake up, wake up damn you!

Deathstalker turns back to Farac.

DEATHSTALKER

Do you have the key?

Farac raises his eyebrows then searches through his pockets. He smiles, pulls out a key and throws it to Deathstalker.

FARAC

Need a hand?

Deathstalker catches the key and shakes his head.

DEATHSTALKER

This should not take long.

Deathstalker looks through the door as he turns the key in the lock.

He sees Dragg frantically shaking the other Krelen Guard.

He smiles, opens the door and walks in.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - DUNGEON CELL - DAY

Dragg spins around and pulls out a dagger from his belt.

Deathstalker shows Dragg his empty hands.

DEATHSTALKER

How is the nose?

Dragg wrinkles his face and grimaces.

DRAGG

I should have finished you when I had the chance. I will not make the same mistake twice.

With a loud cry, Dragg raises his dagger and rushes towards Deathstalker.

When in range, he lunges and slashes the dagger at Deathstalker who deftly avoids the strike. Deathstalker then grabs Dragg’s out-stretched dagger arm with one hand and back fists him in the face with the other.

Dragg screams with pain and drops the dagger. He then clutches his bloody face and staggers backwards.

DRAGG

Damn you! You’ll pay for this.

Deathstalker picks up the dagger on the floor and walks towards Dragg. Dragg holds up his hands.

DRAGG

Alright, alright. Enough. What do you want?

Deathstalker stops his approach and holds out his hand.

DEATHSTALKER

I will take the necklace...

Deathstalker looks over to the nearest unconscious guard.

DEATHSTALKER

...and his sword.

Dragg scowls, then puts his hand in his pocket. He pulls out the necklace and throws it to Deathstalker who catches it with his free hand.

Deathstalker examines it then places it in his tunic pocket.

DEATHSTALKER

The sword?

Dragg scowls again then walks over to the guard and takes his sword. With the sword in his hand he hesitates and his eyes narrow.

Deathstalker watches him carefully then shakes his finger.

DEATHSTALKER

Ah, ah, ahhh. You may have a bloody nose and a bruised ego but you are still breathing. Decide carefully if you wish that to change.

Dragg grunts, changes his grip on the sword and holds it by the blade.

He offers the sword handle to Deathstalker who accepts it and nods. With a sword in one hand and a dagger in the other Deathstalker turns and walks to the door.

DEATHSTALKER

Until next time then Dragg?

Dragg winces as he carefully mops up the blood from his face with a cloth from his pocket.

DRAGG

I will not make the mistake of underestimating you again, Deathstalker. You may wish you had killed me when you had the chance.

Deathstalker reaches the door.

DEATHSTALKER

Perhaps...

Deathstalker exits the cell and closes the door. He looks through the view hole, turns the key in the lock and grins.

DEATHSTALKER

...but until then, do enjoy your stay.

Dragg grunts.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - DUNGEON PASSAGEWAY - DAY

Deathstalker turns around to see Farac and Aliandra standing close behind him.

FARAC

Come. We have wasted enough time.

Holding the fire stick, Farac heads down he passageway, followed by Deathstalker and Aliandra.

As they progress, the passageway they are in becomes narrower and all three are forced to turn sideways to fit through the gap.

The passageway then widens out again.

INT. KRELEN FORTRESS - SECRET ENTRANCE - DAY

The passageway ends abruptly with what looks like a stone wall which blocks their path. Farac turns to face Deathstalker and Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Have we made a wrong turn somewhere, Farac?

Farac smiles and shakes his head.

FARAC

Beyond this wall lies freedom. It is a secret entrance to the dungeon which leads directly into the forest. I knocked out the two Krelen guards on my way in so be prepared in case they have awoken in the mean time.

Aliandra looks at Deathstalker who then turns and nods to Farac.

DEATHSTALKER

Understood.

Farac hands his fire stick to Aliandra. Deathstalker draws his dagger with one hand and his sword with the other.

ALIANDRA

Hey, what about me?

Deathstalker frowns at Aliandra then hands her the dagger.

She grins.

ALIANDRA

Thank you.

Farac shakes his head and turns to face the stone wall at the end of the passageway. He moves to one end and begins to push against it.

The sound of stone grating against stone fills the passageway. Slowly, the wall begins to pivot on its center point and bright light becomes visible at both sides of the wall.

Farac continues to push until the gaps at either side are big enough for a person to pass through.

Farac turns to face Deathstalker and Aliandra.

FARAC

Ready?

They both nod.

Farac begins to squeeze through the gap on the left side of the wall and Deathstalker, followed by Aliandra both squeeze through the gap on the right side.

EXT. KRELEN FORTRESS - SECRET ENTRANCE - DAY

The outside of the entrance is concealed by thick foliage.

Two Krelen Guards lie unconscious on the ground.

Farac, followed by Deathstalker and Aliandra push aside the foliage and step into the open air.

All three shield their eyes from the bright sunlight.

Deathstalker looks at the guards on the ground and sheaths the sword in his belt.

DEATHSTALKER

Looks like you did a thorough job.

Farac looks at the guards and grins.

FARAC

I guess I don’t know my own strength.

Farac looks up at the sky and then at Deathstalker.

FARAC

My friend. I must leave you now. I have been gone longer than expected and Birdette will be concerned.

Deathstalker smiles and offers his hand to Farac.

DEATHSTALKER

I...

Deathstalker glances at Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

...we, are in your debt.

Farac grabs Deathstalker's hand and smiles.

FARAC

You are welcome, as always my friend.

DEATHSTALKER

But I don’t understand how you come to be here.

Farac rests his hands on his hips and grins sheepishly.

FARAC

I... I had some assistance from Scleria.

Deathstalker’s eyes widen in surprise.

FARAC

With some additional persuasion, she foresaw certain images which I was able to piece together. I soon realized you were in danger so I came as quickly as I could.

Deathstalker begins to grin.

DEATHSTALKER

I don’t want to know the gory details.

FARAC

It’s not what you think. She just wanted some company and was grateful enough to use her powers of foresight in return.

Deathstalker shrugs his shoulders and his grin widens.

DEATHSTALKER

I never said a thing.

Aliandra shakes her head and idly surveys the surrounding area.

FARAC

Anyway, while we talk, those murderous demons continue to roam the countryside and my family remains unprotected. I must away.

They hear the sound of a neighing horse nearby.

Deathstalker’s hand quickly moves to the hilt of his sword.

Farac puts his hand out and shakes his head.

FARAC

Fear not.

Deathstalker relaxes and Farac begins to walk in the direction of the sound.

FARAC

This way. I came prepared.

Deathstalker and Aliandra follow Farac to the other side of a large tree where two horses are tethered to a branch.

Farac unties both, hands the reigns of one to Deathstalker and mounts the other.

FARAC

I must away. I wish you both a safe journey.

DEATHSTALKER

We appreciate your sacrifice Farac and hope to see you soon.

ALIANDRA

Yes, thank you, Farac.

Farac nods at both of them then reigns his horse into action and gallops away.

DEATHSTALKER

We should follow his example and leave this place.

ALIANDRA

I’m with you.

Deathstalker mounts the horse and offers a hand to Aliandra. She accepts and he lifts her on to the back.

They gallop off in the opposite direction to Farac.

EXT. FOREST CAMPSITE - NIGHT

Deathstalker and Aliandra are sitting around a small campfire.

Deathstalker stares into the fire whilst rolling Valotta’s necklace between his fingers. Aliandra watches him as she gnaws the meat from an animal bone.

ALIANDRA

The necklace, it must be special to you?

Deathstalker looks away from the fire then down at the necklace and smiles vaguely.

DEATHSTALKER

I suppose it is a reminder of everything I loved about her. It’s precious and delicate but at it’s center lies great strength.

Aliandra smiles, puts down the bone and stares into the fire.

ALIANDRA

See, that makes me feel bad. I’ve been so full of hate, there’s been no room left to remember all the good times we had as a family. Still, I would give anything to see them again.

DEATHSTALKER

Believe me, that wish is over rated.

ALIANDRA

Maybe you’re right. But I feel like I should be asking myself; what would they want me to do, you know what I mean?

DEATHSTALKER

Aye, I believe so.

Tears form in Aliandra’s eyes and she turns to look at Deathstalker.

ALIANDRA

Just promise me one thing. That you won’t forget about me. I mean, whatever the future holds, you’ll remember the good things about me.

Deathstalker places the necklace in his tunic pocket and looks intently at Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Someone of your age should have no room for such thoughts. Tomorrow we shall reach our destination. Whatever demons stand in our path we shall face together. That much I can promise you.

Aliandra takes a deep breath.

ALIANDRA

Then I guess I’m as ready as I’ll ever be.

Deathstalker nods.

DEATHSTALKER

Good. That sounds like the brave young woman I’ve come to know speaking.

Aliandra turns to Deathstalker and they both manage a smile.

DEATHSTALKER

Come, get some rest, it has been a long day.

Aliandra unrolls her blanket and finds a comfortable position to sleep in.

DEATHSTALKER

And, tomorrow could prove even longer.

EXT. LANFEER - OUTSKIRTS - DAY

Aliandra sits behind Deathstalker as they reach the outskirts of Lanfeer on horseback.

They pass through a populated area which has several basic wooden huts. A few local people are going about their everyday business.

They turn to look at Deathstalker and Aliandra then quickly gather their children and belongings and disappear into the huts.

ALIANDRA

I get the feeling that strangers are not exactly welcome here.

DEATHSTALKER

I suppose you can’t really blame them. It looks like they live in the shadow of fear.

Deathstalker points over the town and up towards the castle which sits on a hill overlooking the surrounding area.

Aliandra looks up to the castle and nods her head. After a moment her gaze lowers as she looks towards the town.

ALIANDRA

It looks like our quickest route is to go through the town.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye, you are right. Who knows, we may even get someone to talk to us.

Aliandra looks around.

ALIANDRA

Seems unlikely.

They continue to ride towards the center of the town.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY

Salazane is sitting behind his desk, studying a manuscript.

He looks up when he hears quick footsteps heading towards the hall.

He sees Exantus approaching the doorway and signals the Soul Demons to let him pass.

Walking much faster than usual, Exantus enters the hall and approaches Salazane’s desk.

EXANTUS

Sire.

Exantus struggles to catch his breath.

SALAZANE

Well? Speak up!

EXANTUS

My apologies.

Exantus takes a deep breath.

EXANTUS

Important news. I’ve just been informed that Deathstalker and the girl have been sighted in the town.

Salazane smiles and bangs his fist on the desk.

SALAZANE

Finally! Good news indeed. There is no time to waste. See to it that this room is prepared immediately.

EXANTUS

As you wish, sire.

Exantus turns and walks quickly towards the exit.

SALAZANE

Wait!

Exantus stops and turns to face Salazane again.

SALAZANE

This girl. I think she could prove a useful asset. Additional leverage, should it be required. I assume you have someone who could procure her without getting involved in a messy confrontation with Deathstalker?

Exantus pauses and then nods.

EXANTUS

I think it should be possible. I’ll put my best man on the job.

SALAZANE

Good. Now go.

Exantus bows, turns and walks through the exit.

SALAZANE

At last, my time is near. The rivers of blood shall drown all that appose me.

EXT. LANFEER - MARKET SQUARE - DAY

Deathstalker and Aliandra approach the center of town on horseback. They see a market square which consists of brightly colored stalls selling many different items from jewelry to food and drink.

Although there are plenty of sellers, there are not many buyers.

ALIANDRA

These people don’t seem so shy.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye, I guess the need to make a living out weighs their fear. Let us see if we can get anyone to talk to us.

Deathstalker stops the horse near the edge of the market square.

Deathstalker and Aliandra dismount and he tethers the horse to a large barrel.

They walk together to the nearest stall which is selling jewelry. The stall holder, OBARR, is a small man with a large moustache. He sees them approaching and narrows his eyes. He looks around and then greets them with a smile.

OBARR

Greetings, greetings. New faces? Yes, I think so.

Obarr leans out over the stall front and looks around again.

OBARR

All alone? No... companions? Good, jolly good. And what are you looking for today? A nice Vlovian necklace for the beautiful young lady perhaps.

Aliandra smiles, and Obarr turns towards her.

OBARR

Yes, yes. Something to compliment that beautiful smile.

DEATHSTALKER

Information. We are looking for information.

Obarr turns to Deathstalker and swallows.

OBARR

Of jewelry I have much, of information I have none my friend.

Deathstalker points in the direction of the castle.

DEATHSTALKER

So you know nothing of the castle?

OBARR

That’s right. In fact, if anything, I know less than nothing.

Deathstalker’s eyes widen.

DEATHSTALKER

Less than nothing? That is quite a trick.

Obarr smiles and shrugs.

Deathstalker turns to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Come, we will try another seller.

Aliandra has a necklace in one hand and is perusing the other items on the stall. She briefly looks up to Deathstalker.

ALIANDRA

Some of these are beautiful. I’ve never seen their like before.

OBARR

Yes, yes. I see the young lady has a keen eye for beauty too.

Deathstalker’s eyes narrow on Obarr, then he turns to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Don’t move. I will be just over there.

Aliandra smiles back at him and looks over to the next stall.

ALIANDRA

Don’t worry. I’ll be fine. And anyway, we can see each other from here.

Aliandra immediately turns back to the jewelry.

Deathstalker shakes his head then turns and walks over to the next stall.

The stall has no seller so he moves on to the next one.

When he gets there, he looks back towards Aliandra. The side flaps of the jewelry stall blow in the breeze. This obscures his view but he is still able to clearly see her boots.

After a few moments of looking at the jewelry, Aliandra leans backwards to see around the sides of the stall.

She sees Deathstalker engaged in conversation with the seller on a stall further up the market.

OBARR

Such beauty deserves something of equal beauty. I think I have just the thing. One moment please.

Aliandra looks up towards Obarr who then disappears behind a flap at the back of the stall.

We suddenly see a large hand cover Aliandra’s face. She attempts to cry out but the hand muffles the sound.

A moment later, Obarr reappears from the back of the stall.

OBARR

Yes, yes. Just the thing for such a...

He stops, looks around, but cannot see Aliandra.

OBARR

Dear, dear. What a shame.

Deathstalker, still engaged in conversation with the other seller looks over towards Aliandra. He sees her boots again and turns back to the conversation.

A moment later he looks over again. He frowns, stops the conversation by raising his hand and walks back towards the Jewelry stall.

As he gets closer another breeze blows the side flaps of the stall and he sees that Aliandra is not actually standing there. Only her boots remain.

He runs the rest of the way, leans over the stall front and grabs Obarr by the scruff of the neck. Obarr yelps.

DEATHSTALKER

Where did she go!

OBARR

I... I... d... don’t know. I turned my back for a moment and she was gone. I... I assumed she had walked over to see you.

Deathstalker half pulls him over the front of the stall.

DEATHSTALKER

And left her boots?

The jewelry seller looks down and raises his eyebrows.

OBARR

Oh yes, how peculiar.

Deathstalker let’s go of Obarr who proceeds to straighten out his ruffled clothes.

OBARR

My dear friend, you are a stranger here. You may therefore be unaware that it is not uncommon for people to disappear.

He swallows and glances towards the castle. Deathstalker snarls.

DEATHSTALKER

And no one is prepared to take any action?

OBARR

Well...

DEATHSTALKER

Damn you.

Deathstalker looks around at the other buyers and sellers.

DEATHSTALKER

Damn you all! You’re cowards, all of you. Am I the only one who will make Salazane pay for his crimes?

Everyone within earshot either pretends not to hear or begins to move away from the area.

OBARR

Please sir, keep your voice down. You’ll scare the customers away

DEATHSTALKER

So be it!

Deathstalker picks up Aliandra’s boots and runs back to his horse. He unties and mounts it then rides off along the edge of the market towards the castle.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN GATE - DAY

Deathstalker approaches the main castle gate on horseback.

He stops just before the entrance, dismounts and tethers his horse to a nearby post.

He walks cautiously through the entrance and under the open portcullis.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - COURTYARD - DAY

Deathstalker takes a few steps then stops and draws his sword. He looks all around but sees no one. He makes his way across the courtyard then enters the main door of the castle.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALLWAY - DAY

The hallway is dark with the only light coming from fire sticks attached to the wall.

Deathstalker looks around but still hears and sees no one.

He continues down the hallway until he reaches the entrance to the main hall.

He looks through the open door but can see only darkness.

He enters cautiously.

INT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN HALL - DAY

Deathstalker takes two steps into the hall.

SALAZANE (O.S.)

Light!

At Salazane’s command, candles positioned on the floor either side of Deathstalker begin to burn.

Like falling dominoes, the candles ignite in succession, forming a path which connects to a circle of light in the center of the room.

This lights up most of the hall but still leaves the edges and corners of the room in darkness.

Deathstalker can now see the figure of Salazane standing in front of his desk on the higher level of the floor with his arms outstretched.

Deathstalker begins to step forward when two figures who had previously remained hidden in the darkness appear at his side. Before he can react, SOUL DEMON #1 grabs his left arm and Soul Demon #2 grabs his right.

He snarls and struggles to free himself but they hold him tight. Soul Demon #1, on his left, takes the sword from his hand. As he does so, Deathstalker notices a tatoo on his inner forearm which reads “Aliandra”.

Deathstalker frowns, looks up at his face but only sees the faceless metal helmet.

SALAZANE

There is no point in struggling Deathstalker. They are far too strong. Indeed, you will know their full strength soon enough.

Deathstalker turns to look at Salazane again.

DEATHSTALKER

Salazane, I presume?

Salazane takes a small bow.

SALAZANE

Indeed.

With a wave of his hand, Salazane beckons the Soul Demons to move forward.

They obey and force Deathstalker to walk down the path of candles. Still holding him firmly, they stop when they reach the center of the circle.

Salazane smiles down at Deathstalker.

SALAZANE

So, we finally meet. Me, the murderer of your beloved Valotta and you, the soon to be commander of my demon militia.

Deathstalker frowns.

DEATHSTALKER

I got the first part, but you lost me at ‘commander’.

Salazane laughs.

SALAZANE

Do not be concerned. It will all become clear soon enough. By the way, how does it feel to finally meet the man who ordered the death of your charming wife?

DEATHSTALKER

When I meet a “man”, I will let you know. In the mean time I have no qualms about killing a sniveling retch like yourself.

For a brief moment Salazane sneers but the expression is quickly replaced by a smile.

SALAZANE

Perhaps an extra incentive is required at this point?

He turns to his right and signals with his hand to the corner of the room.

Two figures step out of the shadows.

It is Farac and he is holding Aliandra. She struggles to free herself but he holds her firmly, with an arm over her shoulders and a hand covering her mouth. She tries to speak but only produces muffled sounds.

Deathstalker takes in a deep breath and his eyes widen.

DEATHSTALKER

Farac?

Farac looks down at the ground and then towards Deathstalker.

FARAC

I am truly sorry my friend but Salazane has promised safety and security for my family during the coming war. They are my priority.

DEATHSTALKER

You made a deal with this fiend?

Farac nods and looks down again.

Deathstalker struggles against the grip of the Soul Demons as he looks at Aliandra and then back to Farac.

DEATHSTALKER

If you harm her you will pay with you life.

FARAC

Lets us hope it will not come to that.

SALAZANE

I see you care for this pathetic girl. Perhaps I will make her my personal play thing.

Deathstalker snarls and struggles even harder.

SALAZANE

I believe he is ready to meet his destiny.

Salazane points towards the floor.

The Soul Demons push Deathstalker to the ground and take two steps back. He lands on his hands and knees but immediately raises his head to look up at Salazane.

DEATHSTALKER

That was a mistake.

Salazane smiles and raises his arms with open palms.

SALAZANE

Here I am. The prize you have been waiting for.

Still on his hands and knees, Deathstalker looks around. He sees the two Soul Demons standing a short distance behind him then turns back to Salazane.

Deathstalker snarls and his eyes narrow. Salazane closes his eyes and his hands begin to glow red.

With a cry of fury Deathstalker leaps towards Salazane but as soon as he is on his feet he is enveloped by a red mist.

The mist stops him in his tracks.

Unable to move, Deathstalker struggles harder and harder against the invisible force.

Salazane opens his eyes and begins to laugh.

SALAZANE

And so it begins. Your hate has been fueled beyond anything I have felt before. I can feel the power. Yes, that’s it.

With a cry of pain Deathstalker falls to his knees.

Still being held firmly by Farac, Aliandra closes her eyes and tears role down her cheeks.

She then opens them wide and stares at Deathstalker’s tunic. She looks around the room, takes a deep breath and slowly closes her eyes again.

Something moves in Deathstalker’s tunic pocket. Very slowly, Valotta’s necklace levitates out of the pocket and into the air directly in front of Deathstalker’s face.

Salazane sees the necklace and frowns.

SALAZANE

What is this?

Deathstalker’s eyes narrow on the necklace and he hears a ghostly voice inside his head.

VALOTTA

Deathstalker my love. Remember the good things about me. Do not taint my memory with the blood of another. If you waste too much energy on hate you give up something precious, something that can never be uncovered again. Remember me with love, not hate.

Deathstalker blinks, takes a deep breath and closes his eyes.

Aliandra’s eyes open and she takes a sharp breath in. The necklace falls to the floor.

The red mist surrounding Deathstalker begins to fade until it finally disappears.

Salazane’s eyes open wide and he looks at his hands which are fading back to their normal color.

SALAZANE

W... What? This cannot be happening!

Still on his knees, Deathstalker looks up at Salazane and smiles.

Farac turns to Salazane but Salazane keeps his eyes on Deathstalker.

Salazane looks concerned and swallows. He then signals to Soul Demon #1, who is standing to the left of Deathstalker.

SALAZANE

Kill him. He is of no use to me now.

Deathstalker gets up onto one knee and turns his head to see Soul Demon #1 approaching him with a sword raised in his left hand.

Deathstalker quickly stands and turns to face him.

Aliandra sees the tattoo on Soul Demon #1’s raised arm and her eyes widen. She struggles even harder and manages to peel Farac’s hand away from her mouth for just a moment.

ALIANDRA

Father!

Soul Demon #1, who is set to strike Deathstalker, stops in his tracks. With his sword still raised, he slowly turns to face Aliandra and Farac. He cocks his head to one side and his gaze switches between them and the tattoo on his raised arm.

Farac manages to get Aliandra under control again but she continues to struggle.

Soul Demon #1 lowers his arm and lets the sword drop to the floor. He then walks towards Farac and Aliandra.

SALAZANE

Obey my order! Kill Deathstalker!

Soul Demon #1 pays no attention and continues towards Farac and Aliandra.

Deathstalker picks up the sword now lying on the floor.

Salazane glances back at Deathstalker and signals to Soul Demon #2, who has remained motionless.

SALAZANE

Kill him.

Soul Demon #2 draws his sword. Holding it with both hands, he raises it above his head and advances towards Deathstalker.

Deathstalker turns to face him just in time to block a powerful downward strike with his own sword.

The power of the blow forces him to his knees. Looking up he sees that the Soul Demon is drawing his sword back over his head for another strike.

Deathstalker slides his sword along the ground through the Soul Demons legs. He then leans forward, stretches out his arms and grabs the Soul Demon’s lower legs.

With his chest now on the floor, Deathstalker pulls himself along the floor and through the legs of the Soul Demon, narrowly missing a sword strike from above.

Before the Soul Demon can react, Deathstalker grabs his sword and in one swift movement, stands up, spins around and strikes the Soul Demon across his upper back.

The Soul Demons cries out in pain and he falls to the floor. Because he had previously stood between Deathstalker and Salazane, his fall to the floor allows them to clearly see each other. Deathstalker grins and Salazane grimaces.

Soul Demon #1 reaches Farac and Aliandra. He stops and looks down at Aliandra who is still struggling to free herself. He then looks at Farac. Again, he cocks his head to one side.

FARAC

Do not come any closer. I warn you.

Farac pushes Aliandra to one side and she falls to the floor with a cry. The Soul Demon looks at Aliandra and makes a whining sound.

Farac attempts to draw his sword but before he can do so the Soul Demon reaches out, grabs his neck with both hands and begins to squeeze.

Unnoticed by all, Exantus, who is standing outside the hall, pokes his head around the doorway to see what is happening. He shakes his head and quickly disappears again.

Deathstalker begins to walk towards Salazane who, on seeing his approach, runs around his desk to his chair. From there, he draws a long sword which was previously hidden behind the chair.

Deathstalker’s eyes narrow on Salazane. He steps up to the higher level of the room and makes his way around the desk to where Salazane is standing.

DEATHSTALKER

And so it ends. Here and now.

SALAZANE

Perhaps, but not how you may be hoping.

They both raise their swords and square off. Salazane keeps glancing over to the door.

Deathstalker follows Salazane’s gaze but sees only an empty doorway.

DEATHSTALKER

Expecting someone? Not man enough to fight your own battles? Scleria was right, you are a pathetic excuse for a man.

Salazane cries out in rage and delivers a series of sword strikes in quick succession. Each blow is deftly blocked by Deathstalker. Salazane is soon gasping for breath and ceases his attack. Deathstalker smiles back at him.

DEATHSTALKER

Is that the best you can do?

Farac and Soul Demon #1 now have their hands at each others throats. Farac is straining with the effort and his eyes begin to bulge.

Aliandra, still lying on the floor, watches them with eyes wide.

Farac gasps for breath, his legs buckle and his head becomes limp.

The Soul Demon continues to hold the lifeless body of Farac by the neck.

ALIANDRA

He’s dead. You can let him go now.

The Soul Demon turns to look a Aliandra then back to Farac.

He lets go and Farac falls to the ground.

ALIANDRA

Father?

The Soul Demon turns back to Aliandra and cocks his head to one side.

Deathstalker and Salazane both hear footsteps and turn to look towards the door.

Two more Soul Demons appear in the doorway and stop.

Salazane turns to Deathstalker and smiles.

SALAZANE

And so the tables turn. Let us see which of us is smiling in a moment.

Salazane signals to the Soul Demons.

SALAZANE

This way. Rid me of this filthy barbarian.

The Soul Demons start to run towards Salazane and Deathstalker. Salazane laughs.

Deathstalker looks around then turns back to Salazane and raises his sword.

DEATHSTALKER

You seem to wield a great power over these beasts. Let us see how well you command them when you can no longer speak.

Salazane’s smile disappears and he raises his sword.

Salazane blocks Deathstalker’s downwards strike but his arms begin to buckle under the power. Deathstalker delivers another powerful blow and Salazane falls to his knees. His sword crashes to the floor and his head falls limply forwards.

Salazane slowly looks up at Deathstalker, a smile forming on his face when he sees the two Soul Demons standing directly behind him.

SALAZANE

Goodbye, Deathstalker.

Deathstalker frowns and quickly glances either side to see the two Soul Demons behind him now raising their swords.

With a cry he side strikes with his sword at Salazane’s neck. Salazane’s smile turns to wide eyed shock as his head is separated from his body and topples to the floor.

Deathstalker spins around to see that the two Soul Demons have frozen in position with their swords raised about to strike. They remain motionless for a moment then slowly keel over, crashing to the ground.

Following the death of Salazane, Soul Demon #1 also remains motionless for moment then falls to the ground.

ALIANDRA

No!

Aliandra quickly gets up and runs to the Soul Demon.

Upon hearing Aliandra’s cry, Deathstalker steps around Salazane’s body and runs over to join her. He finds her sitting next to the Soul Demon with tears in her eyes. She looks up at Deathstalker.

ALIANDRA

This... this used to be my father. Help me.



Aliandra tries to remove the helmet. Deathstalker kneels down and with a combined effort they manage to remove the helmet.

Deathstalker grimaces at the contorted face. Aliandra gasps, covers her mouth and looks away.

SOUL DEMON #1

Aliandra?

Aliandra turns back.

SOUL DEMON #1

I... I’m sorry Aliandra. Please, do not remember me this way.

ALIANDRA

I love you father.

Aliandra hugs the Soul Demon who then goes limp in her arms. She begins to cry.

Deathstalker takes a deep breath.

DEATHSTALKER

At least he was free at the end. Don’t forget that.

Aliandra doesn’t look up but does manage to nod her head as she continues to sob and cradle the Soul Demon’s head.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - COURTYARD - DAY

Deathstalker and Aliandra exit the main door and walk across the castle courtyard towards the main gate.

ALIANDRA

So where do we go from here?

Deathstalker sighs.

DEATHSTALKER

They hardly deserve it but I suppose we should let the town’s folk know that they are finally free of that tyrant.

Aliandra looks down, nods and sniffs. Deathstalker stops walking, stands in front of Aliandra and puts his hands on her shoulders.

DEATHSTALKER

Aliandra, never forget that your father helped secure this victory. Without his effort in fighting his... affliction, many more people would have died. He should be remembered as a hero.

Aliandra looks up and half smiles.

ALIANDRA

He always was strong willed.

DEATHSTALKER

Aye. I can see where you get your strength of character from.

Deathstalker reaches into his pocket, pulls out Valotta’s necklace and hands it to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Here. I think Valotta would have wanted you to have this.

Aliandra’s eyes open wide.

ALIANDRA

Are you sure?

DEATHSTALKER

I’m sure. Besides, it will look much better on you than it does on me.

Aliandra laughs, takes the necklace and puts it on.

Deathstalker nods his approval and they continue to walk through the courtyard.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN GATE - DAY

They approach the main gate and walk under the Portcullis.

When they are directly underneath, they hear a creaking sound from above and look up. They see the portcullis rapidly falling down towards them.

DEATHSTALKER

Move!

Deathstalker quickly pushes Aliandra away. The force of the push causes her to roll forwards and she lands on the floor, face down and unmoving.

Deathstalker raises his arms to meet the falling Portcullis. When his hands connect, he cries out and the weight forces him to his knees.

He groans with the effort, but manages to hold the portcullis above his head.

He looks at Aliandra who is lying several feet away in front of the gate. She remains still.

He hears footsteps approaching from behind. He strains to see but is unable to turn his head far enough.

The approaching figure ducks under the portcullis, glances at Aliandra then turns his back on her in order to stand in front of Deathstalker. It is Exantus.

EXANTUS

Well, well, well. The great Deathstalker, brought to his knees.

DEATHSTALKER

Who the hell are you?

EXANTUS

I’m afraid we have little time for long introductions. I can see you have... more pressing matters to attend to. Let us just say that I intend to finish what Salazane started.

Deathstalker’s arms begin to tremble and the portcullis lowers a few inches. Exantus folds his arms and smiles.

EXANTUS

It looks as though your time is nearly over.

DEATHSTALKER

I suppose it is to be expected that slime like Salazane would attract dirt like you.

EXANTUS

Very good! Witty and profound! A man’s last words should be so. But let there be no doubt, these are your last words.

Deathstalker’s arms begin to tremble harder and the portcullis slips closer to his head. He grits his teeth and cries out.

EXANTUS

Ha! So much for brute strength. Goodbye... Stalker.

The portcullis suddenly changes direction and slowly begins to rise. Exantus frowns with confusion.

EXANTUS

W... what trickery is this?

Exantus spins around and sees that Aliandra has disappeared.

EXANTUS

That little bitch!

As the portcullis continues to rise slowly, Exantus turns back to Deathstalker and sneers.

DEATHSTALKER

Shorten my name... and I’ll shorten your life!

Exantus grunts and ducks back under the portcullis to find Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Now!

Deathstalker takes his hands off the portcullis and quickly moves away. Exantus screams as the portcullis comes crashing down on top of him. He lands face down on the floor as the full weight crushes his back with a sickening thud.

Deathstalker looks across to see Aliandra running towards him from the portcullis operating mechanism.

Still breathing heavily, Deathstalker holds out his arms and Aliandra runs into them. She embraces him tightly and closes her eyes.

Still breathing heavily, Deathstalker smiles.

DEATHSTALKER

It seems we make a good team you and I.

Aliandra looks up at him and smiles.

ALIANDRA

For once, you’ll get no argument from me.

Deathstalker raises his eyebrows then laughs. After a moment he looks up, surveys the area and grimaces.

DEATHSTALKER

Come, this place reeks of death.

EXT. SALAZANE’S CASTLE - MAIN GATE - LATER

With the portcullis now open, Deathstalker and Aliandra are standing close to the horse which is still tethered just outside the main gate.

Aliandra is in the process of putting her boots back on.

ALIANDRA

And after we’ve spoken to the town’s folk. What then?

Deathstalker unties the horse and pauses.

DEATHSTALKER

Well. On hearing the news they will probably want to worship us as liberators. You know, treat us like royalty, wait on us hand and foot.

Deathstalker pauses and pats the horse.

DEATHSTALKER

And that’s all well and good for a while, but such a life will soon grow stale. Then? Then I will soon hunger for adventure. Life is nothing without a little danger.

He looks down and winks at Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Something will turn up. It always does.

Deathstalker mounts the horse and offers his hand to Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

And when it does, you will be welcome to join me.

Aliandra smiles, takes Deathstalker’s hand and he pulls her up on to the back of the horse. A mischievous look forms on her face as Deathstalker turns to face forwards.

ALIANDRA

Hmmm... of course, you understand that I couldn’t possibly commit to anything until we’ve discussed terms. I mean, how would we divide any spoils? On the face of it, I should really get the lions share. After all, my magic skills are likely to be in great demand as word of our adventure begins to spread...

Deathstalker turns and frowns playfully at Aliandra.

DEATHSTALKER

Asahl! Is it too late to retract the offer?

Aliandra, wide eyed, smiles back innocently.

ALIANDRA

...Don’t get me wrong. I respect your strength and that counts for something but on balance there’s a strong argument for...

Deathstalker shakes his head, faces forwards and reigns the horse into action. Aliandra continues to discuss the terms of their partnership as they leave the castle behind them and ride off into the distance.

FADE OUT.