An Maru part three
“Something in this sparse room is your essence. I’m not afraid of a little white flame. My body rests safely in the White.”
My host smiled at me and transformed into a solid black mist.
“Flames!” The room engulfed.
I motioned toward the sea and the black monster charging toward me. Focusing on the lighthouse beacon, I let my red dragon come alive, unfurled my wings, and flew up toward the sky. The ground of the Yolk came up to meet me. I rolled across the width and broke into a murder of black crows flinging my army at the burning demon mass. It coiled and writhed, trying to recover.
“White daggers!” Each crow corkscrewed in the air, morphing into white flame-tipped blades crash-landing into the demon’s flesh. I envisioned my black dragon and pulled my monster out of the soot-covered air.”
Henry bolted toward me with one angel in tow.
I whirled around toward the Grove and found myself confined in a dark wooden box. The air smelled like dirt and wet lumber.
“Buried alive? Motherfucker!” I pounded on the raw wood planks.
I don’t need to breathe. Calm down. There is no box.
Rock, paper, scissors floated into my mind. Paper covers rock. Water washes away dirt. I willed the box to fill with water and pounded on the walls until I broke free and floated into an unending void of seawater.
The dirt and wooden casket fell away. I closed my eyes and pictured a red door floating in front of me. I opened it and walked out onto the Yolk floor.
I was wet and naked in human form. Standing in front of me was a small white creature. The sting of ripped flesh ran from my face down across my body.
Thinking of Pax, I converted my soft human form to a red-scaled version of my furry monster. My battle-ax formed in my hand, and I swung at the white creature burying the blade in its chest like stabbing a knife in a block of cold cheese.
The sound of wings came from behind me. Henry and his four-faced brothers descended on the creature cutting it into eight misshapen pieces.
It was still alive and growled and hissed as it tried to crawl away and reassemble.
“Flame!” My black dragon returned with a hop into the air, letting loose a wall of white flames. Destroying the demon flesh writhing on the ground.
Henry and his brothers shook off the fire like new-fallen snow and walked toward me with concern. The skin across my dragon’s breast was missing. Streaks of red reflected off Henry’s silver blade. I stood still and let my monster fade into my small human shape.
Each angel placed their hands on my flesh and began to chant. Henry brushed my long hair out of the wound. The angels created the sensation of warmth and regeneration. When they were finished, I was whole.
Henry produced a white length of cloth from his armor and wrapped it around my newly repaired flesh.
From the Grove, the roar of a hundred wolves descended on our patch of Yolk. Several wolves brushed their fun against my legs as they ran into the White.
Henry hugged me to him and pulled me into the air out of the dust cloud. For the first time, I could see the full extent of the day’s carnage. He smiled and ran his thumb over my bottom lip.
“This is what victory looks like.”
“We should get out while we can. I’ll help you cover with your family, Henry. I won’t press you to stay with me. This is where you belong.”
Henry kissed my neck. “It will all work out, I promise.” We descended to the ground.
Several wolves gathered by the entrance to the White. Henry flew over to his angelic brother’s. Leo ran up in white wolf form and transformed back to human, hugging me.
“That was incredible. That dragon is terrifying to watch fly by as a wolf. It was primal.”
“Glad you liked it. The crows were the hardest to control. Made my brain hurt.” Leo wrapped his arm around my shoulder as we walked toward the White barrier.
Leo waived the straggling wolves through the veil. Henry flew up next to us and put his wings out, flexing his biceps and laughing.
Henry sighed and flapped the sizeable white mass of feathers. “Oh, how I will miss my wings.”
“We’ll come back soon. I swear it.” Looking over at Henry’s brothers, I saw a blue mass of half charred flesh push up from the ground.
I pulled away from Leo and screamed. Henry threw his sword at the center of the demon. A long thin tail whipped out from the dying mass. Leo wrapped me in his arms and dove for the ground.
The pain was unbearable. My face was wet, my eye closed involuntarily. All four angels descended on the blue mass, diving into the air, looking for more threats.
Leo rolled off me. His arm was cut to the bone extending along his torso and hip. The beast’s tail wrapped around the two of us, whipping a thin line of flesh from our human forms.
Several people emerged from the White. Dagen was the first I recognized.
Two angels stood with Leo, and two hovered over me. Leo’s wounds were deep, but the blood spilling out across my chest didn’t look survivable.
“Dagen, take my wolf. She doesn’t need to die with me.”
“I can’t keep two wolves, Alerie. None of us can.”
“You made yourself younger. Don’t you know a trick to keep her alive?” Dagen shook his head.
“It’s demon blood. A boost for speed and youth. It fades.” Dagen looked over my wounds and up at the angels.
Two men ran toward Dagen from the White. They gave him a hushed message. When he looked back, all the color drained from his face.
Henry hovered his hands over my wounds. “Your body is bleeding in the White. Your wounds are too great.”
“Oh no, how’s Leo?”
Henry looked around frantically. “Leo’s body is unharmed in the White. His essence can recover in the Grove before reuniting him with his flesh. When I leave this place, my blessings die. I must stay here until he recovers. We need to reunite you in the White and move you out for medical treatment. My grace will only help you for so long.”
“I understand. Thank you for staying with Leo,” I brushed my fingers along Henry’s hand.
Dagen knelt next to me. “If we put you back in your body, you’ll bleed to death.”
“Twelve pints of blood and a surgical team. The slash across my abdomen opened several organs. My physical body will die. They can revive me once the bleeding stops, but I can’t move.” I assumed my spine was damaged.
Henry continued to pray over me. Heat poured out of his hands, and small amounts of blood rolled back inside my body. The damage was extensive. His angelic ability wasn’t enough.
“When it happens, take my body to Rafferty. His witch will...”
“No,” Dagen interrupted, “you killed two of their witches today. His witch can’t help you now.”
“What do you mean. I didn’t kill any witches.”
“The ancient ones in the trees saw you leave dead wolves on their trees. The wolves won. Two witches lost and died. You tipped the balance in favor of the wolves today.”
“Malou told me to. It saved them. I would do it again.”
“The Grove witches won’t help you now.” Dagen’s eyes were scanning my wounds. I could see the realization settle on his face.
“Ask Kate to find Pax.”
“Go into the White, grab your body, and hold mine. Henry can bring me inside. When I reunite, my wounds are going to pour. Hand my body over to Pax. Demon blood might buy time for the surgeons.” Dagen looked disgusted at my suggestion, but he helped Henry collect my body from the ground.
Dagen jogged into the White, followed by his two friends.
Henry ambled toward the White as his angel brothers continued to cast light over my wounds. “I don’t like this idea. Your demon is not who he claims to be.”
“Take care of Leo. Send him a beautiful woman who can heal him once I’m gone. Will I see you once I’m dead?”
“I’m a Power, Sweetheart. We don’t move beyond our stations. I think you were sent to find me and bring me home, thank you.” Henry kissed my forehead. “I’ll see you again.”
The angels patted my body lightly as we reached the White.
Henry nodded at me and looked at Dagen through the veil. I could feel his body tighten as he prepared to run inside. He recited hard sounding words as my body was handed over to Dagen.
My arm fell off to the side and touched my sleeping form. Malou shrieked and pushed Dagen toward the exit. When we reached the sun, his chest was painted in my blood. The pain and coldness of my dying body hit me as Dagen fell to the ground.
Hands inspected my chest. A flurry of orders yelled across the clearing. I took a deep breath of dirt and let the black space in my mind take me.
“Kate, where’s Pax?” Dagen held Alerie’s bloodied body wrapped tightly to his. It was impossible to tell whose blood covered his neck and face. Stephanie’s screams were getting closer. Whoever was holding her back lost their grip.
“He’s here, Pax!” I yelled. His new body was tall and wide. It quickly moved through the crowd of distraught onlookers.
“You bring her to me now? She’s dead. What am I supposed to do with her now?” he growled.
Malou stumbled out of the White. Henry leaned on the veil, watching the scene unfold. She produced a single white feather from under her sleeve.
“Take it, demon scum, take it as payment and heal her wounds. One of your own did this to her.”
“She walked into the pit of her own free will, witch. No blame can come to me.”
Alerie’s body started to shudder. “Pax, please, it hurts.” Dagen rocked her body like a child in his arms.
Pax knelt next to Alerie’s ear. “Do you remember the word I showed you, Little Worm?” He brushed her blood-stained hair off her face. His eyes darted from wound to wound.
Alerie nodded her head.
“Emma, flood the ground in blood. Hand me the feather witch and clear the ground five by ten. We need the blood of men poured upon the soil.”
Malou looked scared. She clapped her hands together and shouted the incantations of the forest floor. Five feet wide by ten feet long space cleared on the ground below her feet. My coven doesn’t deal with demons for a good reason, but this was a ritual no one had seen in a millennium.
Emma and her vampires poured bags of blood on the prepared ground letting it pool in the center. Pax moved his human body to the edge of the flat dirt, drew an odd-looking symbol on the ground, and closed his eyes.
“Call out my name, Alerie!”
A quiet noise came from her mangled body. Dagen rose and walked her closer to Pax. “She says everyone will hear. She needs to whisper it to you.”
Pax smiled and held out his hands. Dagen placed Alerie’s battered body into the strong arms of Pax’s smiling human host.
Several men ran to Dagen’s aid. It was impossible to tell how badly he was injured.