“How are you doing, old man?” asked Nicyes. “Not getting tired, are you? Looks like you’ve lost some blood, now.”

Mercer grunted. “You underestimating me, lad? I’m hardly a green warrior like yourself.”

“Green?” Nicyes laughed. “Green!” He stepped forward and delivered a sweeping cut to one of the prone cultists, still suffering from the effects of Myrtle’s spell. “Is that what you call the warrior who’s going to save your life?”

“Save my life?” said Mercer. He snorted, dug his toe into the ground, and launched himself forward. He brought his hammer down on the cultist at Nicyes’s feet with a sickening crunch. “I suppose you were just going to let that one give you a non-fatal disemboweling, am I right?” The cultist twitched and dropped the dagger at the warrior’s feet before dying.

Mercer lifted the hammer again, standing shoulder to shoulder with Nicyes. “You’re lucky I don’t have my armor or shield, so we’re on even footing here. Otherwise I’d be doing nothing but saving your sorry hide.”

They both laughed. The cultists in front of them shook off the effects of Myrtle’s spell, and the goat creature behind them began to stir.

“You caught your breath, old man?” said Nicyes.

“You ready to accept the beating of your life from old one-eye, here?” said Mercer.

They both heard Myrtle call out that Arturo was okay. A moment later, Arturo confirmed as much.

“Looks like round one goes to us,” said Nicyes.

“Aye, but a new challenger has appeared,” said Mercer, gesturing toward the goat-creature with his hammer. The thing climbed to its massive feet and attempted to shake itself free of the dirt that clung to its matted hair. Its eyes were open now, dark and wet, and focused on Mercer and Nicyes, who stood defiant before it.

“You think Pan is watching this?” asked Mercer.

“I don’t know,” said Nicyes. “Would it change anything?”

“I suppose not,” said Mercer. “Either way, this son of a goat is going down.”

The goat creature picked up a large rock as the cultists advanced on the warriors’ position.

“Now would be a great time to have my shield,” said Mercer.

The creature bleated, strained under the weight of the rock, and hurled it at Alquis.