“Watch this,” I told Christian as a growling necro came rushing from the building we’d just blown up. As he got closer, I stomped my left foot hard on the ground. A five inch blade switched out of the front of my navy running shoe. I kicked my foot straight up in the air, catching the creature dead-on with my blade in the bottom of his chin. I pushed forward hard with my right foot, taking him to the ground, his wind-pipe collapsing on impact. I pulled the blade out quickly, swiping my foot sideways and taking his head, just to be safe.
I clicked the blade back into place as I turned back to Christian. He grinned, nodding in approval. I grinned back.
“Badass,” one of the Other soldiers muttered.
“Those look like your normal shoes. You wear that thing all the time?” Christian asked, bending down to get a closer look.
“Naw, it’s a little trigger happy. I save these for special occasions. Having a blade pop out of my shoe in the middle of grocery shopping isn’t my idea of a good time.”
Christian laughed. “You get these from Caleb?”
“He’s so getting me a pair.”
I shrugged. “If you want to owe him a favor-” I stopped, going completely still.
I heard it again, the faintest voice calling out, “Help.” It was somehow separate from the sounds of battle, as though the voice was echoing from inside some small, quiet space.
I looked around at the crowd of soldiers. “Anyone hear that?” Several of them, including Christian, looked at me strangely.
“Hear what?” he asked.
I held up a finger for silence again. No one moved. “Hurry!” the voice prompted. It was more clear this time.
“No one heard that voice?” I asked them, glaring.
Several of them shook their heads at me.
“How can you guys not hear that?”
“They’re killing Dom!” the voice yelled this time, and the words got me moving.
“Follow me, you deaf bastards,” I told them as I broke into a run. I made a beeline through the compound, toward the loudest sounds of fighting. I knew Dom would be at the center of the battle.
I stopped when we came in sight of the fighting. We were on a grassy incline overlooking the carnage, and I searched frantically for Dom.
“They’re right in front of you! They’re casting his death spell!” the voice yelled, and I looked around, confused.
“Where are you?” I screamed at the voice.
“Don’t look for me, look for them. They’ve formed a circle. Find the circle!”
“Jillian, what’s up?” Christian asked me carefully. I didn’t address the fact that it was his, ‘I’m dealing with a crazy woman,’ careful tone. There wasn’t time.
“Everyone look for some kind of circle. It’s close, I think. Just cover every inch of this clearing.” Everyone started looking carefully at the grass. In the near-dark of the clearing, it was almost impossible to make out anything on the ground, so all of the soldiers without nocturnal vision quickly broke out flashlights.
As I searched, my attention was drawn to the battle below us. Piercing animal screams filled the night as my gaze finally found Dom. He was in the middle of it all, of course, the light from a street lamp falling directly onto him as he ripped out a necro’s throat with his teeth. It was clear the druids well known bloodlust had a firm grip on him. I was staring at him, fascinated, when I saw it.
It was just a break in the air that caught my notice at first. The voice had been right. It was literally right in front of me. I took deep breaths as I studied it, preparing for the pain I would feel upon breaking a powerful ward.
I began to chant as I walked towards the circle determinedly. I stopped when my shoe touched a strange spot in the grass. The wind wasn’t strong, just strong enough to sway the grass gently. Or some of it, anyway. Where the grass stayed still was where I focused. “Christian,” I said softly. He appeared at my shoulder.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“I need you to swing Dragonsbane at the ground exactly when I say. Ok?”
He looked at me like I was crazy, but nodded slowly. He clutched the ancient sword in his hands, waiting for me.
I pointed at the spot in the grass. “Watch that spot carefully. Swing with all your strength the instant I say ‘break.’”
I began chanting again, holding my palms out to the circle. It was no comfort to stand empty-handed before such a circle, but a necessary evil. “Prepare yourselves to fight,” I told the soldiers who’d come to gather around us.
I felt the spot weakening. “Break,” I screamed with every fiber of my being. Christian swung.
It was like shattering glass as the circle broke. Within lay a large gathering of necros. They formed a circle, their King kneeling at it’s center. I identified him by the crown on his head. He held an unconscious druid in his arms, cutting deep symbols into the skin of it’s wrists. I didn’t recognize the druid it held at first, he was covered in so much blood.
The necro King snarled at me, ordering his minions. “Kill them. We still have time to remake the circle.”
The necros rushed our small group, and we met them head-on. I ran straight for their king. He stood, roaring at me, “You wish to die?”
I pulled the huge axe from my back, hacking it down at him with one fluid motion. His own blade met mine, the druid tumbling from his arms. My eyes swung down to the unconscious man, and I sucked in a sharp gasp. It was Collin, and if he was breathing, I couldn’t see it.
I sent a bolt of red fire straight into the air. It was a make-shift warning flare, accompanied by my scream, “Dom!”
I couldn’t tell at first if it worked, occupied as I was with the necro King. I hacked at him relentlessly, cursing him every time our weapons clashed. Finally I sent him sprawling. I wasted no time, sending a wave of flames crashing into him. He screamed, rolling away, frantically beating out the flames.
He flew at me, sharpened teeth sinking into my neck. “That doesn’t work on me, you zombie bastard,” I muttered, ripping him off my neck. I threw him hard across the clearing.
He rolled to a stop and lay still, but his eyes were open wide. “What are you?” His discordant voice filled my ears.
I approached his still body, my foot stepping hard on his neck. “Haven’t you ever watched a zombie movie? You guys aren’t supposed to speak. So shut the f**k up.” I punctuated this with a hard stomp of my heal to his throat.