Of Mortals: Chapter Six

Despite the twisting of ill magic happening just before them, Shi’Karil attempted to carry out the still half-finished spell. The cleansing fire still could work, she hoped; after all, it was what drove the depraved spirit out of dead flesh. Sirian tensed as the blood consolidated and began to form a dome in the center of the encampment. That bubble of gore began to rise and separate into three pillars denser than a myter and as tall as the wagons. She looked to the sun, past its midday zenith and falling from power by the hour. There was a chance she could work her gift, try to oust the demons from the flesh, but she was confident in Shi’Karil. Despite her years, the priestess had seen just as much as Sirian had, and that gave the fox enough of a suggestion that she was wholly capable of handling this situation. If she wasn’t, Sirian figured, she may just have to expose a part of what she was capable of doing.

The columns become punctuated by a mass of the remaining gore, making it a vast clot atop a tripod. Those tents, blood-stained as they were, were pulled tight against the bulk of the forming behemoth. That was a more concerning thing for Sirian to see; it was not often the blood demons would weave pieces into them that were not of flesh. Sure, she had seen crossbow bolts and daggers become part of a demon’s structure in the past, but those were a different story. Though it wasn’t as if a devil of Pai’gen’s lineage needed a weapon. The blood worshipers could just as easily knit themselves into the proper tools of destruction rather than depend on the arms of mortals. This was looking more the case as Shi’Karil neared the end of her spell. Spikes the size of lances were popping out of the legs of this creature, and were the priestess off in her casting, those points would be seeking their fur.

Calling out the final sounds of the incantation, Shi’Karil threw out her paws. A vague shimmering danced across her pads as she did so. For a moment, Sirian looked on the lynx as she attempted to burn away the mountain of living corpses with hope; however, any possibility of a quick and quiet ending was dashed. The edges of the tents and absorbed canvas from the wagons sparked for all of a moment. The flesh within barely showed that much of an effect before the whole of the spell seemed to dissipate. As she felt the sensation of magic leave her paws, Shi’Karil popped open her eyes, absolutely confident the abomination would be no more, yet she was wrong. Sirian saw the hope, the delight of having thought she would so simply succeed, drain from the lynx’s face. It was evident to the fox that she was going to have to do something about the beast. With Shi’Karil’s spell falling short and the guards showing no sign that they would be able to handle such a creature, her own breed of gifts would have to come into play.

Snapping into action, Sirian grabbed Shi’Karil by her wrist and tugged her in the opposite direction of the wagons. The lynx shot her a shocked and disbelieving glance before Sirian could hurriedly shout, “Priestess, get to your myter and ride! Take my mount with you! I will rejoin you when I can!”
“Sirian, you’ll be killed! If the sacred fire could do nothing against that horror, what chance do you stand?” the lynx responded, trying to tug the fox from where she stood.
Sirian pulled away from her grip, “Just wait and watch from a good, safe distance. I won’t let you get hurt. Now go!”

That was all Sirian needed to say, not that her words really sold the woman as much as the solidified pillar of gore coming down between them did. Watching the sand and ruby-colored blur dart to the myters for all of a moment was all that Sirian wanted and had time for. The lances about the leg shifted about as free as though in the paws of well-trained soldiers. She dodged about the spinning blades of bone and razor-sharp blood, barely getting clear of every strike thrown at her. With the slightest opening in the barrage of points sent her way, Sirian tumbled backward, creating a somewhat decent amount of space between herself and the demon. Now was the time, if only the sun were higher, brighter, and less consumed by clouds. This next part was by no means tricky; Sirian had figured out exactly how to do it, if not why her gift functioned in this way. Yet, she knew enough to do what she had to now. With little light to use to feed the power was going to take a lot out of her. It wouldn’t matter how much it took with the alternative being death, that much she was sure of as well.

Forcing flows of energy to leave that central point wherein they seemingly stayed until needed, harbored somewhere in her chest, Sirian focused on that one thing. The lumbering, three-legged beast of blood and canvas faded to a shadow in Sirian’s mind’s eye as she concentrated on putting the power rushing through her body into her paws. She thought it would be possible to direct the flows of energy to other parts of her body, but Sirian was content with using her paws. If for no other reason, using her pads and fingers would make targeting whatever she aimed to strike at much easier. Heat poured through her veins and muscles before finally, it started to pool at the ends of her arms. However, just as Sirian reached that deep state of concentration, a scream broke her awareness.

It came all at once, the lynx’s shriek, the rush of air, and the sudden feeling of weightlessness. Sirian became suddenly aware that she wasn’t standing on the ground but being hauled through the air. Had the wolf guard not charged in on his myter to snatch Sirian up, she would have been as dead as any of those that made up the demon’s body. One of its massive, tree trunk-like limbs had come down right where she had been standing and had the weight and impact alone not killed her the twisting spikes would have. The wolf had only pulled Sirian away, really, she realized as his arm gave out, and she stumbled backward across the earth. Had the guard had his way, he would have taken Sirian out of the line of fire and thrown her on her own mount. It was evident by his vehement calls to flee that he and the others wanted to be away from there as quickly as possible. However, Sirian was resolute to stay the course. This creature needed to be banished from the world of the living, and Shi’Karil knew it as well.

Sirian demanded the wolf leave her side, but he was dead set on making sure the demon had no more bodies to make it stronger. Seeing the fox was being held up by the guard and that the devil had in no way forgotten her, Shi’Karil decided they needed a distraction. Despite not carrying anything on her person that could be used as a projectile, the priestess was determined to help Sirian as she could. Focusing her energy, the priestess attempt a secondary spell she knew. It was not the same cleansing fire that would burn away demonic blood, but it would work all the same. Spitting the sharp, almost alien words in three hasty, abrupt breaths Shi’Karil sent an arrow of force at the nucleus of the creature. The spell’s power slammed into the bulk of gore but splashed like a raindrop against stone, the attack incapable of penetrating at all. Shi’Karil was not terribly surprised by this outcome. The effect had hardly worked to throw her feral sister back when she had nearly attacked the priestess. However, despite doing no apparent damage to the vessel, the spell drew the creature’s attention. Just as well, the other guards, entirely unaware of this gift the priestess had, halted.

As every mortal at the scene fell hushed in light of the priestess’s attack, Sirian broke free. Once more, she pulled on the ties of energy within her and forced them to her paw pads. It came with ease now, and Sirian found a reservoir there; however, the whole of the power was less now. Sirian could feel the ache of losing that stored energy even if it was not rightly expended from her body. She could forgive the wolf for accidentally breaking her concentration and taking a bit of her fuel away. After all, had he not acted so quickly, she would be little more than a red and orange stain on the earth. And there was the certainty that the power built up in her would be enough to eliminate the demon without any lingering remains. Those bits and pieces that were somehow not exercised in the attack were always such a burden. Sirian could understand why Shi’Karil was so thorough about her cleansing fires.

The priestess, for her part, quaked where she stood, her myter beside her bucking and clucking madly. She hadn’t any other spells for this situation, and her guards would have no way of defending her should the beast come any closer, yet that was precisely what was happening. It’s massive limbs rose and fell, closing the gap as the jagged spears shot in and out of their alcoves like bony eels. Shi’Karil felt a moment of regret, or perhaps it was a flicker of doubt crossing her mind. She had thought this fox knew what she was doing. There wasn’t anything, in particular, she expected of the woman, but still, the priestess had hoped the foreigner could do something of worth. And now she was about to see it all come tumbling down; either her life would be undone in this moment, or it would come in a short time as the beast chased them back to the encampment. However, for not the first time in her life, Shi’Karil found herself proven absolutely wrong.

An intense wave of warmth passed through the area, causing a cry to shutter from the demon despite its apparent lack of a mouth. Another volley of golden and ivory rays flew through the air like the scattering of sunbeams through a cloudy sky. Flesh ruptured, bones exploded, and dense, earthy black blood oozed from every pore of the monster. One final flash came and enveloped the whole area before the ordeal was finished. As the group was again able to see without

a searing pain in their eyes, they all turned their gazes on the fox who lay in a heap in the dirt. With haste, they went to Sirian, scooping her up and placing her behind Shi’Karil. Sirian’s own mount would be managed by one of the others while the priestess focused on bringing the woman herself back to the encampment. They were off, southbound before another moment had passed, and not a soul considered checking the remains of their adversary. The seared away limbs and body were almost imperceivable against the markings in the earth where it had once stood. Had they stopped to examine it any better, the truth of what may remain would be unclear, at best.

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