Chapter 12 - The Crossing.
Disclaimer: … nope. Still not mine.
A/N: And no ... not a typo! Apparently dryads spell Ce'Nedra's name differently, so ... so do I. When writing from their perspective.
And yes, I know it's still a bit choppy and short ... even though I've just redone this chapter.
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Willow hurt. A lot.
Why she hurt, she wasn’t quite sure. In fact, there wasn’t much she was aware of, other than the pain. One of the few things that managed to get itself through the entangling haze of agony was an almost equally strong sense of … wrongness. It might have just been because of the mind-numbing pain, but Willow couldn’t even come close to describing it, even to herself, in her own mind. All that she knew was that it was wrong, big, and, although uncomfortably close, some distance away.
The only other living, conscious being present, Terzie was in a similar state, although she lacked Willow’s awareness of that wrongness, and her larger, less delicate body wasn’t in quite as much pain.
For the sole unliving individual present, the only important things were the free lunches that had apparently just fallen out of the sky.
Blinking against the pain, Terzie finally managed to open her eyes and look up – straight into a deformed, snarling face. Her attempt to stand was laughable, and apparently the thing looming over her agreed, as it paused for a few moments to laugh at her. Trying desperately to pull herself to her feet, Terzie watched in disbelief as the thing collapsed into a rapidly dissipating swirl of ash, revealing the dark-haired young woman in odd, rather tight, clothes that had been behind it.
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For a mind that had spent several thousand years poking and prodding at the underpinnings of reality, rejecting the sensations of pain was not a difficult thing to do.
Or, at least, so Polgara tried to convince herself. Unfortunately, whatever it was that she had fallen through – not to mention the fall onto a hard surface afterwards - hurt. Quite considerably.
Still, sorcery had some benefits.
Reaching directly into her own mind and suppressing parts of it was far from safe, even with her considerable knowledge, but Polgara did so. The risks of that weren’t nearly as bad as the risks of being incapacitated by pain – as, she saw, Brin, Unrak and Geran were. A glance around revealed three things – that none of the others were nearby, that she, Geran and Unrak were apparently in a strange-looking alleyway somewhere, and that someone was approaching.
Not someone, she corrected herself a moment later. Something.
As the creature lunged at her, Polgara reached out with her will, ignoring the weakness that doing so brought to her knees. Unsure of how long she would be able to hold or incapacitate this creature without rest, she did the only thing she could think of.
As the creature was rendered down into its constituent parts, Polgara saw a second such creature collapse into dust as a small blonde removed its head with an axe.
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Xbel was in quite a large amount of pain.
However, that had never seemed to affect her as much as it did her sisters. The other girls – not including Polgara or the humans – were still with her, although she didn’t recognise her surroundings. Still, she had more important matters to attend to than simply finding out where she was, or where the others were. Xnedra and Beldaran were here and hurt, so she had to do something to stop them from hurting.
Then she tensed. Something was behind her …
Xbel grinned to herself as the creature attacked. The fight against the demon had been most unsatisfying, and it felt good to beat something into submission.
When the thing dissolved into ash, therefore, she felt somewhat cheated, and glared up at the human who had apparently been responsible for interrupting her fun.
If she had finished with whatever the creature had been, she would probably have been glad to see him – or, for that matter, anyone remotely attractive - but he had just stolen her fun by killing the creature before she was done with it.
And that was just rude
“Couldn’t you find your own fight without ruining mine?”
The human, displaying a surprising amount of intelligence in Xbel’s opinion, backed off, hands raised placatingly.
“Now,” Xbel continued, stepping forwards. “I’m going to fight more of those things, and you’ll find somewhere safe for those two.”
Seeming to restrain itself from saying something, the human caught sight of the two unconscious forms behind Xbel, and moved in to assist them.
Meanwhile, a group of uncharacteristically interesting human females moved in to the little alley, looking threateningly at Xbel.
Until she stared them down, that is. Like most humans, they were practically children to her.
And then a large group of creatures turned the corner, saw Xbel and the humans, and charged with a roar.
Grinning, Xbel threw herself into this new fight. This time it looked like there’d be enough for everyone and she, at least, knew how to share.
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The last ones to have been drawn in to whatever the demon had created, the Legionnaires of Imperial Tolnedra weren't as badly affected as the others had been, and were on their feet within only a few moments of their arrival. They had no idea where they were, but wherever it was, it was practically overflowing with strange, aggressive creatures.
They had just enough time to form up into a defensive square before those creatures converged on them.