I blinked slowly and Jay's face come into focus, filled with concern.
"Ash! Are you ok?"
I nodded groggily and a movement over his shoulder caught my eye. Cheshire was advancing on Sara. I took a deep breath, pulling my maks over my face again, then got up quickly, ignoring Jay's protests.
"Don't you know," I began loudly, causing everyone to stare at me "That its rude hit from behind."
Cheshire was in a hunting crouch and stared at me, confused but calculating.
"Cheshire doesn't like interfering little.."
"Whatever you are you are NOT Cheshire," I cut in, glancing over at Aria, who looked as though she had been about to say the same.
Take your true form. Leave your host and face your enemies, instead of cowering like a common wil o' the wisp.
I projected this thought to Cheshire. Now I was concentrating, I could sense the other entity; full of hatred and malice, it had taken over Cheshire completely. I feared for his sanity, since the longer he was possesed, the more damage the spirit that had him could do. I called the spirit a wil o' the wisp since it was the only thing I could think of that might be insulting enough to provoke it. Thankfully, it worked. A form began to unfold between me and Cheshire, eventually solidifying into the shape of a girl.
I heard Aria gasp a name I didn't recognise. Cheshire crumpled to the floor and she moved quickly over to him, checking him over.
The girl regarded me with her head to one side, looking like the world's most evil child.
"So now what to do with the nasty vampire lady?" she said in a sing-song voice.
I tossed my head back. "You don't know what you're dealing with" I hoped I sounded more confident than I felt. The girl grinned evilly, then looked at Jay. I felt myself freeze.
"You wouldn't dare." I growled, feeling an acid taste in the back of my throat. This girl was sick. She shimmered, and I threw a silvered dagger at her, hoping that it worked as well on spirits as I was told it did. The girl solidified again, looking at me reproachfully.
"Silver hurts Sabré. Nasty vampire lady hurt Sabré again. Sabré hurt vampire lady.."
She shimmered from sight again. An instant later there was an intense pressure in my head, as though a red-hot vice had been applied to my mind, and was slowly crushing it. I screamed in shock as much as pain, as it drove me to my knees. I had dropped my half-swords to hold my head in my hands, my forehead on my knees. Dimly, I could hear people talking, and the pressure kept increasing.
Suddenly a voice broke through to me like a cool breeze.
You're strong Asha. You can't fight this. I'm here for you.
It was Jay. He kept up a constant stream of talk, encouraging me and soothing me. Slowly, the pressure cooled and lessened. I could feel Jay's arms around me now and hear individual voices all talking over each other.
...Jay... It hurts... don't leave me... she wants me to give in... don't let me give in...
I'm here Asha, I won't leave you.
"Sabré.. let her go." Aria was saying " It's me you want."
Suddenly the pressure dissappeared completely. I gasped in relief, straightening up a little so that I could lean on Jay. I let hiim comfort me, I was shaking badly. I could hear Aria arguing with Sabré, but I tuned them out.
I needed to recover.