Chapter Three: Leianna
I steal a breath, a single half moment to take in my surroundings. Behind me the statue is pressed to my back a demon seems to be trying to attack me from every angle. Maybe, just maybe this wasn’t the best idea. But it was the only idea I had and now I seem to be beyond fully committed to it, because if I don’t, these bastards will kill me if I am lucky, or drag me down to the hell they came from. Half moment over. I wince as the sharp talons of the demon to my left digs into my arm. There’s a throb and a trickle and I am fighting the exhaustion, the ache in every part of my body is taking over. It is becoming more a battle of wills than survival now. One demon seems to be replaced by another as soon as its blasted back to the otherworld obliterated by the blade.
I do it. I give in and take a deep breath, willing myself to keep fighting. Somehow I summon the strength, the sweat pouring from me and the blood. I let myself pull at the moisture in the air, refreshing my energy, as I claw at it I can feel the moisture change, it’s not just me or demon blood and saliva I can sense it’s a different moisture. Hard to describe other than a sort of dry heat eviscerating the softer edges of the fight. They have come. They have reached the huddle at last. I let go of the fight to pull and control the water around the battle. I don’t want to be sensed as one of them. I push forward. I push forward trying to get some more space from the statue.
A hand on my shoulder has me whip around ready to slice at the owner and see one of Trova’s friends. I recognise him from my dreams of her. I stop myself and nod. I look around and I see five of them, five of the Touched. All on high alert obliterating one demon after another that crosses their path. I keep pushing now trying to keep my strength. I push forward. Left, right, swipe, duck.
I can feel the heat of them in the battle with me, that hot dry heat of a fire that burns within them. I push forward into the new line the demons have formed, trying to carve a path within them. That’s when I turn the battle I push some moisture towards the demons behind me now battling Trova. It gives them enough strength for them to have a little advantage. I obliterate the demon in front of me and turn to face Trova now. She looks like she is putting up her best fight. I come behind it before it ever had a chance to notice me and slice it down the length of its slimey wet scales protecting its spine. The demon shatters and Trova looks at me and thanks me with a nod.
A demon pulled and snatched at my wrist behind me. The sharp scratch of claws startled me for a moment. I felt the bump of a body push past me. Trova like lightening had gotten past me. The demon dropped my wrist and changed his target to her. I pushed on taking on the demon that had come at her to stop her. Just how many had Henry summoned?
Every muscle in my body seemed to scream the more I pushed forward. I can’t remember my last deep breath by now. As I start to wonder if we will ever make any headway against the bastards I notice that Trova’s friends are now fighting closer to me, to her, less spread out. We are waiting less for the demons to come at as, we are moving towards them. They are starting to loose. We are gaining the ground. I keep moving forward with them. The odds are looking better or at least that is how it seems. We push forward again obliterating the line ahead of us. There it is, a couple of handfuls left. The end is in sight. Or at least that is what it seems. I see the Touched blasting through them just as they have been trained their whole lives. I can keep up but I am depleted, exhausted by the onslaught and the streaks of blood dripping down my arms and legs and by the feel of it the side of my face. I suspect I look the worst among them, but I will cut myself the slack that I’ve been fighting longer than they have, plus you know this was my own stupid idea.
The last handful seem to have realised their predicament and start to run from us. I have no choice but to run after them with Trova and the Touched, they are duty bound to hunt them down. Every muscle has gone beyond screaming at me now, I can feel the tremor and twitches beginning to form as I force them to keep pushing forward trying to force some kind of second wind. We slice at the nearest slowest demons, cutting them down with what must only look like ease and keep pushing forward. I know the Touched will do everything within their power to not let them escape the graveyard. I can feel my breathing becoming even harder, not that it should be possible to feel this out of breath. I’m not the only one desperate for air to reach their lungs, but I am the worst for it, and I sure do hate running with every fibre of my being.
“Keep going” I keep trying to tell myself, “it’s working” even though my body is starting to give the last of what it has.
Trova is leading the pack now, I am trailing behind. We’ve turned the huddle into some kind of sickle shape. Trova, as the lead over takes the demon, the two behind her keep a step or two behind in the start of the curve and then it begins to pull into the three of us trailing behind, the two of us that are last, we obliterate the demon she had cornered into the net. They get a little confused when they are run past, they don’t see us appear from behind, not right away. Two to go, we keep the shape. One to go. Trova takes this one on with her right hand comrade.
It’s done. It’s over. We look around us to make sure.
That was it, the last one is done. I let the relief flood my body, simple relief that I survived. In seconds I am bent double. I can’t stop it, before I realise what happened a stream of burning hot liquid gushes out of my throat. My lungs are burning even harder now. I manage to get a little air between lurches. I’m on all fours. Finally, it stops. I feel more than embarrassed but right now, just trying to get enough breath in me is hard enough. I’m panting, my throat is a desert.
I feel warm hands on my clammy skin, for a moment I am repulsed as more join them, embarrassingly they helped me stand. I am handed a small vial of something. All my muscles are burning and shaking. The hand holding the vial is guided towards my mouth. Someone tells me to drink it, slowly. I take a little, its warm at first. It turns colder and soothing I can feel it trickling down my throat. I take another trickle and I can feel the coolness turns colder like eating a mint before drinking water. It spreads further from my stomach now, like a strange tide, it pulses slowly making its way through my body like smoke. I watch the deepest cuts on my arms knitting together slowly the wounds seem to flush themselves bit by bit. It was uncomfortable to watch but I couldn’t stop. The burning in my lungs eased little by little. I could see every scratch on my arm begin to knit tighter, the layers of skin drawing together like fine webs lacing back together. Its nauseating to watch. I’ve heard of this stuff but can’t remember the name. I feel the coldness fighting with that cloying feeling of sweat and old blood stuck to my skin. I need a shower, a nice long refreshing shower. A nice cup of tea, maybe some biscuits. The vial is empty and all that is left of the screaming of every muscle in my body is a dull ache.
My eyes focus on the small crowd around me, Trova and her friends are stood next to me, almost concerned that I might revert to the crumpled vomiting mess on the floor. I take a deep breath. I look up flushing with embarrassment. There are no faces of judgement, just concern. Trova gently handed me back the blade that I don’t remember putting down.