The Guardians of Rhea

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Chapter Seventeen

Night fell. Moving with a sense of purpose, the group had found its way out of the canyon. Now, with their hooded cloaks on, they were on rocky terrain that was uneven and littered with dead trees. Light rain and fog set in, making it slightly difficult to see.

Leon was some distance ahead making sure there were no surprises waiting for the group.

Sara, Kamala and Nedim worked together through the dead forest’s maze of trees, bull-size rocks and thick brush. Further behind, Gillan and Janah made sure nothing was following them.

Kamala struggled up an incline, “I hope it’s not much further.”

Sara took hold of Kamala’s arm to help, “After that run-in with those guys back there I don’t see the hurry. Isn’t it their city we’re going to?”

“Yeah,” Kamala said, “It should be mostly abandoned, but with everything that’s going on I wouldn’t be surprised to be surprised.”

“So, what’s their deal?” Sara asked.

“Long story short, the Pelasgians wiped them out,” Kamala answered, “We’re in what used to be their land.”

“That big, ugly guy made it sound like it still is.” Sara said.

“Their portal lets them come back whenever they want,” Kamala said, “No one even knew what happened to them until after the war, and everyone agrees this land is even less safe now that they’re undead. The Fenrir around here know that better than anyone.”

Sara became somewhat anxious, “Fenrir? You don’t think we’ll run into one, do you?”

“Out here? I can’t believe we haven’t run into a whole pack of them yet,” Kamala said.

A howl could be heard not far off in the distance, followed by what sounded like a small explosion.

Leon crouched by a large rock and waved for the group to catch up. Everyone scampered over to him as quick as possible.

“I was hoping to avoid these guys.” said Janah.

“We might be able to,” Leon said, “It sounds like someone is fighting. It’s a little hard to see, but the city is right in front of us. We just have to lay low and stick close together.”

Leon led the way past several rocks and trees. As they got closer to the city, its ruins began to show through the fog. The sounds of grunting and growling could be heard, along with the occasional cracking of stone and smashing of glass.

The group ducked into the nearest building.

“Everyone against the wall,” Leon instructed, “Stay away from the windows.”

“It sounds like there are a lot of them.” Nedim said.

“There’s a way out back that should take us to an alley,” Leon said, “We can use it to get most of the way there.”

“Now wait just a minute,” Sara demanded, “How far is it?”

“Don’t worry,” Leon assured, “If we’re where I think we are, it should just be a few minutes away.”

The building suddenly shook.

“This way.” Leon said, heading towards the back.

Running down the alley, Sara looked between the buildings as she passed and caught glimpses of the battle.

The group came to a halt at an intersection with a street. Huddling against the wall, they looked on as a Promethean and three Fenrir were in a standoff.

The Fenrir were vicious little things that looked like a cross between a wolf and a chimpanzee. Their attire consisted of clothing that exposed their arms and lower legs; along with earrings, bracelets, and necklaces, “Go back where you belong!” one of them growled.

The Promethean roared, “This is our city!”

At once, the three Fenrir charged in. With their razor-sharp claws and teeth, they latched onto the Promethean.

Sara almost felt sorry.

But, being undead, the Promethean felt nothing. He pulled the Fenrir stuck to his face off and tossed him like a cannonball through a wall. Then, with each hand, he pulled the other two off and slammed them together before throwing one to the ground and kicking him down the street. With a punch to the chest, the last one went sailing over a building past Sara and the group.

The Fenrir thrown into a building, as well as the one kicked down the street, came running back at the Promethean, relentless in their attack.

At the back of the group, Gillan looked again at the flight path of the third Fenrir. His eyes found themselves very close to the opposite end of the alley. To his horror, the Fenrir came skidding into the alley like a nightmare. Gasping in terror, Gillan yelled, “Run!”

Without question, or even looking, the whole group blew past Leon in an effort to reach the next alley.

Leon almost stumbled forward as the group rushed by. Glancing back to see the threat, he too made a run for it.

Though the Fenrir had certainly seen the group, he continued to attack the Promethean.

Leon instantly ran to the front of the group to stop them from going any further. Throwing his arms out, he asked, “Do you even know where you’re going?” To which there was no reply, “Keep your wits. We’re almost there.”

As soon as Leon turned to move on, a Fenrir leaped at him from the shadows. With unfathomable reflexes, he grabbed the Fenrir in midair by the neck and arm.

With his free hand, the Fenrir managed to swipe at Leon a few times across the shoulder and arm.

Before anyone else could react, another female Promethean came crashing into the alley from a wall behind them, a Fenrir attacking one of her legs. While pulling at the Fenrir, she smashed into the surrounding buildings.

At the far end of the alley, two more Fenrir charged in, their sights set on the group.

“What now!” Janah cried.

Not knowing where to go and afraid to get in Leon’s way, everyone braced themselves.

One of the Fenrir jumped at Sara and came within inches of her face when an arrow struck it in the eye, killing it instantly.

Sara turned to see it was Caycee who’d fired the shot.

Darek ran into the alley, morphing into a human-bat hybrid with more hair, pointy ears, sharp claws and bigger fangs. When he met the last Fenrir head-on, both clawed and gnawed at each other like the animals they were.

Leon repeatedly slammed the Fenrir against a wall with no effect. With claws sunk fairly deep in his arm, Leon dare not let go. It took Sara to ram a talon into the Fenrir’s head to free him.

As Darek wrestled with the Fenrir, Caycee took aim and fired with perfect timing.

Struck in the back by a silver arrow, the Fenrir whimpered and buckled, allowing Darek to toss him aside.

“Glad to see you,” Leon said.

Unable to talk in his current form, Darek responded with the universal hand sign for ‘okay’.

The group continued their run for the portal, passing half-a-dozen fights between the Fenrir and Prometheans. Turning into a street, they were fortunate in that it was empty.

Hunkering among the ruins, all eyes were on Leon. As he peeked around a corner, Sara asked, “How are we?”

“Give it a second,” Leon answered, pointing to the center of a dilapidated plaza some distance off.

Orange in color and seething with energy, the arch-shaped portal exploded into existence with a single Promethean emerging from it and running off to battle. The portal then vanished as quickly as it appeared.

Leon turned to the group, “As soon as we get close, it should open up.”

“You sure?” Nedim asked, “No levers, no chants?”

“I’ve gone through it once or twice myself.” Leon asked.

“Then let’s not waste any more time,” Sara said, “Those Fenrir are almost as bad as the Prometheans.”

Leon stepped out first, “Looks clear,” he said.

The sound of battle was still thick in the air.

Halfway to the portal, everyone came to a halt when it suddenly came to life with another Promethean emerging from it.

Spotting the hapless group almost instantly, the undead monstrosity charged at them like an unstoppable force.

Coming to within feet of being trampled, Gillan used the fog to create a powerful jet of water that sent the Promethean flying across the plaza and into some rubble.

“Keep moving!” Leon urged. The portal opened when he got close, but he stopped just shy of entering to see everyone through.

First Darek, then Caycee, Nedim, Janah.

As he fled, Gillan couldn’t believe it when the Promethean grabbed a large chunk of debris and hurled it at him with expert precision.

Seeing her friend about to be crushed, Kamala stopped the debris in midair and cast it back to collide with the Promethean.

Sara waited with Leon as Kamala and Gillan ran through the portal. Just when she was about to enter, she spotted three Fenrir run into the plaza, “Look.” she pointed.

“Just go.” Leon said, “We’ll be safe on the other side.”

Sara stepped through, with Leon close behind keeping an eye on the Fenrir.

In the blink of an eye, the world seemed to transform.

The Netherworld was a place filled with clouds in a fire-orange sky and a calm, constant wind.

The group found themselves completely surrounded by various undead Rheans in an open area of a city.

Sara looked at Leon worriedly, “You were saying?”

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