Lyra had pinned down Lucas by the neck. When she heard kill me or let me kill it, she stopped the fatal blow to the head that she was going to give Lucas. She stood up straight, and stared into Zhala, sending a shiver down her spine. "Kill...kill..." She was a nightmare incarnate.
Floof immediately wrapped around Zhala, glaring at Zhala. It opened its mouth full of unnaturally sharp canines. The black marks similar to the white marks Lyra had on her now black skin. It repeatedly flicked its tongue, ready to strike.
Zhala breathed a sigh of relief when Liana pulled away from her and started heading over to Lyra. She refused to look at the group, she couldn't look Lucas in the eye after almost killing him.
Pushing herself up she realised she only had a few seconds to bind the demon to herself before the others tried to stop her. She pulled her crystal necklace from her neck and crushed it between her hands, creating a powder. [b "Forces of darkness, bind me to Asmodeus. Our lifelines are one, our fates are sealed" ] She spoke the spell in English, not wanting to get it wrong like the last time.
She took a deep breath and threw the powder over her head. As it fell, it changed from clear glass to a glittering blue dust. In a split second, she could feel the two souls, hers and the demons, merge into one. She felt the evil inside her, the dark cold soul that was now fighting against hers for dominance.
Standing up she turned to face the others, Lyra looked like she wanted to kill her, Lucas probably would kill her after what she had done and Liana looked... well... irritated like usual. [b "I summoned that demon for the right reasons. Now either kill me or let me kill it." ] She said, her voice showing no fear. Either way, the demon would be dead.
There was a commotion behind her. Liana looked to to see what was happening. It was Lyra and lucas; Liana couldn't hear what they were saying but the atmosphere around them was heavy. Lucas seemed to be pleading and Lyra, well, Lyra looked half deranged.
Liana turned her attention back to Zhala who was still insisting she was some kind of savior. Maybe she was, or at least she believed she was. Either way, it was kill her now or let her go. Behind them, Lucas was calling for help, she had to make the decision.
"Don't make me regret this," said Liana, pulling away her knife from Zhala's throat, "wait here. I don't want you going after that thing alone, I don't trust you. Or come and help with Lyra, your choice."
"Lyra, what are you doing?!" Lucas weakly limped closer to her, obviously still hurt. He coughed and looked up at her with a worried, yet nervous expression. "What's happening to you?" He somehow put his hand on her shoulder without being shoved away. "Please...don't let me be the only sane person left in this group..." He was almost pleading with her, hoping to strike something in her heart that was still pure.
Suddenly, Lucas went sprawling to the ground again. Lyra had struck him out of anger, and there was a new, bloody bruise on his face. "Please, Lyra..." The Drake pleaded again as she walked up to him. "Don't let it get to you..." He said, rubbing the bloody spot on his face.
Lyra heard Lucas's coughing, the ravaging demon, Zhala and Liana fighting...noise...noise...noise. She screamed in pain loud enough for everyone in the area to hear. The animals didn't deserve this...the ends didn't justify the means...Revenge...revenge...revenge...
Floof screeched and sprinted towards Zhala and Liana, threatening to kill them both. It didn't matter. Grief had twisted Lyra's mind. The animals were no longer allies, but tools. Kill...kill...kill...
Zhala screamed in pain as Lianas foot came into contact with her face. She reached up and grabbed hold of the girls hand, knowing it would not stop the knife from cutting her, should she try,
[b "I-I didn't do this. I had it under control" ] She stuttered, sweat forming on her neck. She knew this had gone wrong, she had to fix it before the demon took things too far. Zhalas ears were ringing and her vision was still spotted with black. Tightening her grip on Liana's hand she looked into the furious girls' eyes. [b "I was doing my duty to this kingdom, helping to cleanse it of the evil people who live here, just like my mother did when she created the sickness." ]
She felt the blood sticking to the side of her face from Lianas kick. She was doing the right thing, she was doing this to save the kingdom, and in her own way she believed she was the good guy. [b "Unless you want that demon to destroy the entire world, you need to get the hell off me so I can bind it to myself." ] She spat, digging her nails into Lianas hand.
The demon creature thrashed and crashes around the clearing, destroying everything it came into contact with. The trees it touched turned to ash and it left black burn like prints where it stepped.
Whatever it wanted, it wasn't them. It paused for a moment and Liana braced herself for the attack. Instead, it swiveled so fast it blurred and disappeared in the distance just as quick. Then it was gone, the only sign it had been there the distraction and a faint smell of sulphur.
"What did you do," said Liana to Zhala who was still sprawled on the floor, watching where he creature had left. She didn't respond; just lay there, propped up on one arm, wide eyes as if she weren't the one to let the thing loose. She wasn't going to get away with this.
Liana stormed to where she lay and kicked her in the face and shoved her so she lay flat on her back. She pulled out her skinning knife and held it to her neck. "I said what did you do?"
Lucas opened his eyes once again, weak but still alive. "W-what...?" He didn't see Lyra or Liana at all, even though the last thing he remembered was talking to them before he had passed out again. The Drake slowly lifted himself off of the ground, standing up as tall as he could. "I couldn't...be all alone out here, right?" He looked around, spotting some footprints. "They ditched me...unless they thought I was dead." He rubbed his forehead, still in a good deal of pain.
Soon enough, Lucas started to follow the footprints. As he walked farther and farther, some blood and the black substance still leaking from his mouth, the setting became more eerie. Taking a few more steps, he could barely see his partners and Zhala in the distance. It seemed that they were preparing to brawl...with both each other and a giant creature of darkness. The Drake suddenly went into a coughing fit, giving away that he was there and alive...although very weak.
Lyra suddenly flew out of the forest, black covering her entire body. She was in clear pain. She slowly got up, and her eyes were now white instead of gold. She was angry, no, infuriated. Zhala had killed Lucas, she...she was the one who did this. Lyra's mother...her father. Fury clouded Lyra's thoughts as she became a Frankenstein of creatures. Snox's tail, Griffin's wings, Ram's horns, Dragon's claws, etc. She stared at Zhala with eyes full of blood lust. "You..."
Floof whimpered as he was covered in black markings. His eyes shone white. His features became deadly and unnatural. He was mutated into a nightmarish shadow of his former self.
Zhala ran, her feet hitting the uneven ground hard, the cold air burning her lungs. She knew they would follow her, it was obvious that they were not the type of people to give up. She clutched the talisman in her hand, blood pouring from her palm as it's sharp edges cut through her skin, relying on the power and energy she had harnessed to give her the strength to move faster.
Breaking into the centre of the clearing she knelt to the floor, panting, gasping to catch her breath, she drew a hastily drawn pentagram on the earth. She would need to be quick, she knew that they had a tracker in their team and it would be only a matter of time before they found her. Pulling out her mothers' grimoire, she placed the talisman in the centre, and stood raising her arms, she started to read the first latin incantation.
[b [i "Et vocavi te, virgo, mater, seniorem. Da mihi virtutem ad delendum mala et regenerare per bonitatem." ] ]
The wind picked up, her vision was turning black as if all she could see was darkness, the evil that was spreading across the kingdom was now growing inside her.
Movement in the corner of her eye broke her concentration. [I Liana ]. Zhala tried to focus on the spell, but the girl was getting closer, looking behind the forest dweller she realised the neither Lyra or Lucas was there. [i God, I've killed him ] She thought, her stomach churning.
[b "Don't try to stop me, Liana. It's too late, it's done." ] As if the gods were listening to her, the ground seemed to open and a shadow creature emerged. [b "The evil to end all evil" ] She whispered, looking away from the girl to the creature. [i Was] this now the end? Had she finally completed her purpose? Pushing back the feeling of dread in her stomach she carefully fell to her knees, a show of submission to the monster. [b "Asmodeus, Great Demon, I command you to cleanse the planet of it's evil to create the way for-"] Before she could finish her sentence, the thing swept it's arm, knocking her back and headed into the forest, ignoring her protests.
[b "NO!" ] She screamed, trying to get up. [b "I-I didn't finish, Its...Its not bound to me" ] She turned to Liana, her hands shaking [b "I can't stop it. YOU DID THIS, YOU INTERRUPTED MY SPELL" ] She shrieked.
"You're alive!" said Liana when Lucas emerged from the trees, haggard but elsewise unhurt. "The talisman, he markings on it, I've seen them before. They were there at the beginning if the sickness and I would bet my life that Zhala was at the very least involved." The others nodded in agreement; it seemed they had all come to the same conclusion.
They knew what they had to do. Liana took the lead; she had been tracking animals most of her life cleverer at hiding than the witch all her life, she could find her. Zhala would make mistakes, she was in too much a hurry to get away and besides, she couldn't have gotten that far ahead.
Somehow that landscape seemed deader than before though they'd only been there an hour or two ago. Whatever dark power that talisman possessed was something unprecedented and Liana feared whatever it would unleash could not be brought back again.
Signs of Zhala's presence were becoming more apparent. Footprints, the odd hair, a snag of her dress, like she she was getting close to where she was going and in her excitement ceased to be careful.
A storm of ominous purple clouds was brewing overhead not far in the distance, where they needed to go.
Liana broke into a run, not pausing to make sure the others were keeping up. The air grew dense and hazy, radiating something that she couldn't identify with, and as she got deeper into it the heavier her legs felt, like she was wading through quicksand, like time itself had slowed.
And then she saw her.
Zhala was standing in the middle of a small clearing, arms thrown wide behind a pillar of smoke and sparks of light. Inside the pillar something was moving with unnatural contortions, shadowy, evil. Emerging.
The last things Lucas remembered were pain and betrayal. When he woke up, it was the dead of night. He slowly realized what had happened and cursed under his breath. "That little..." He looked around himself, trapped in the black vines. Soon, the Drake began to meticulously move in a way that would free him from the strange substance. After about an hour, he was finally free. "I have to...warn the others..." He said, bleeding greatly.
Lucas limped as fast as he could in the direction he came from, hoping that his comrades that he still trusted would be there. "Argh!" He clutched his forehead in agony, realizing that some of the substance from earlier was still attached him and worsening his condition. "This will hurt more than I thought..."
After some time, Lucas finally saw his remaining partners in the distance. As shocked expressions flashed across their faces and they ran up to him, he collapsed into a pool of blood. "That Zhala girl...betrayed us...and left me to die. We should never...have trusted her...or that stupid talisman..." Those were the last things Lucas could say, lips dripping with blood and the dark substance, before falling unconscious again.
Lyra watched the witch run. She laughed a bit to herself. "Heh, an asshole, and a coward." Lyra watched for a bit. It was quite entertaining to imagine that she had been scared off. Until she noticed something. "Lucas! Lucas!"
Her eyes and her snox's eyes became golden, and she yelled as loudly as she could. "You bitch! What have you done to Lucas!? Where is he?!" She sent her snox to detain Zhala.
Floof slithered after the witch. Lyra should have listened to it, or at least have touched Zhala. Snoxes are skilled at telling when people are hiding something. Floof gained speed as he chased the witch.
Zhala led Lucas a large black tree that stood out in the middle of the desolate wasteland. She motioned for Lucas to stop walking and pulled out the talisman. It pulsed in her hand, like a birds heart, beating fast and strong. [i Child, what you're about to do can never be undone ] The voice filled her ears, almost dropping the talisman she threw a glance at Lucas, unfazed. He hadn't heard the voice. It was the great spirit in the tree, the one she had warned the others of and it was talking to her. Warning her.
Ignoring the voice she reached a hand out to touch the tree, pressing the talisman between her palm and the rough bark. Energy flooded her veins, it was nothing like she had felt before but everything like her mother had told her. The curse of the ancient witches was rooted deep and the power of this centuries-old spell was pouring into her. [i Don't do this child, they will never forgive you. ] Zhala almost laughed as the voice warned her.
[b "Who says I want to be forgiven" ] She said, her voice coming out strong and angry. Why would [i she ] need forgiveness from these strangers. She had warned them it was useless to cure the sickness, this black plague that spread throughout the kingdom. She knew it couldn't be done. She had tried to stop them, she had warned them at the castle, she had summoned the creature to attack her and she had taken them to the cliff in hopes they would not follow her. They would never cure this curse.
She knew this because she knew the witch who had spread the sickness, she had stood watch as the dark magic had been cut into the flesh of ten innocent children, the pentagram drawn and the words spoken, condemning the Kingdom to be purged of those that lived there.
Pulling her hand away, ignoring the black blood that now dripped down her wrist and onto her shoes, she looked at Lucas. Her eyes were dark and she was shaking slightly from the great intake of power.
[b "I'm sorry, truly I am. You tried your best, but I was always going to win this." ] She said, pausing for just a moment before throwing a blast of magic at him, knocking him on his back. She watched him hit the floor, unconscious, thick black vines wrapping around his arms and legs, stopping him from getting back up, before she turned and ran.
When Lucas and Zhala were finally put of view, Liana said "might as well make ourselves comfortable" and sat herself down on the floor. The other two followed suit and soon a silence settled upon them.
In the quiet, Liana thought of the journey so far. It had been nothing like the taxing ordeal she had imagined; after the first attack their time had been worryingly easy though the ravaging of the disease had been apparent all around them. Even now, in the absence of Zhala and Lucas, Liana couldn't help but feel like nothing was going to happen, good or bad. No, the calm was concerning and it made Liana wonder.
Zhala had led them this way, the whole way after the strange monster incident. Taken them straight to that cliff to collect a talisman with only a vague explanation as to why she needed it.
Liana thought about the talisman. The little wooden thing had looked so unremarkable but she couldn't help but feel that it was something so much more. Something about it had seemed familiar: the markings; she could have sworn she'd seen them before. But where?
And then she remembered something, something she'd tried desperately to forget. A body, left out in the woods; the crows had pecked out it's eyes and the wolves had torn into it so brutally that you could no longer determine even the sex. The smell had been putrid, not the way rotting corpses, it was too fresh in any case, but something all the more visceral. There had been markings on it's remaining skin, carved jagged with a knife.
The body had died the way the forest was dying, possessed by some evil. Liana wondered if the person it had once been had gone savage the way the animals had, covered in those markings she'd seen on the talisman.
Why were they here? Really? Liana guessed there was one person who knew.
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