I can hear Petey and Devil’s Flat discussing something behind me, but I only have eyes and ears for the monstrosity before me. It is no way to think of Ash, but it is what he’s been turned into.
“Ash,” my voice speaks of its own accord, repeating his name as energy flows from my fingers to his broken and battered body.
“Are you ssure healing it iss wisse?” the Flat hisses in my ear.
“It’s Ash,”my voice breaks upon his name as tears threaten my eyes. “They transformed him a, a, day ago. I have to reverse it.”
I have to. If I don’t, there is no hope. And if there is no hope, then why should I live? His eyes are blinking open and I lean my forehead to be near his.
“Link with me, Ash.” Tears from my eyes fall upon his darkened skin. “I can’t fully heal you unless you link with me.”
The fire that I’ve banked in our meadow, flares up. I dare to hope that he’s the one who stoked it, though I fear what I read in his eyes. His lips meet mine and I can feel the violence of his teeth. The fire explodes leaving no cinders with which to rekindle the flame. He pulls back and licks my blood from his lips. My heart cracks. There is no love in those eyes, only lust.
Stepping back can’t be done. I’ve healed him too well and his arms have encircled me. I am a captive to my own stupidity. It’s not fair! Love should conquer all. Why can it not conquer this...
“Impressive don’t you think?”
A voice calls from behind Ash.
“What would you know about it Sshanahan?” Devil’s Flat hisses at the wizard.
“Only that he was a very tough subject to work with; very stubborn. But he seems to have finished his wings by himself.”
“So that is Ash?” Petey’s incredulous.
Ash smiles at me, eyes gleaming. The conversation is cut off by the beating of his wings.
“Ash?” I sob.
I am shaking as we climb higher and higher. I know I have wings, but I have never learned to use them. Fear of falling makes me cling to his grotesque body. A roar of triumph belts from his lungs. The horde answers him as he swoops with me over the battlefield.
I hear Dad’s voice, faint, though his mental cry is strong. Before I can answer, darkness blinks around us and all is quiet; too quiet. Ash swoops and lands, his claws clattering upon stones. He hisses.
“Come now Asharyn,” a female voice grates upon my ears, “show us the girl.”
Reluctantly he slowly turns me to face the voice. I step back into Ash and his arms wrap once more around me, hissing.
“Relax boy,” the male barks. “She’s all yours.”
“Poor dear looks scared,” the woman beams, only it’s a feeling I get of darkness from her smile, not of light.
“Well I should hope so,” the man snorts.
“Now, now, Judas, she’s to become a member of the family.” The woman turns her face to me. “We want you to feel welcome.”
There are things I want to say to that, but my vocal chords are stuck. All I want to do is fly away from here and dash myself into a rock cliff. They advance and Ash backs up, his wings bringing us up off the ground.
“Get back on the ground boy!” Judas commands.
A force propels us downward and my knees buckle as my feet slam into the stone floor.
“Come now Asharyn,” the woman’s voice is sticky sweet, “let me show your Lady to her room.”
Hissing, Ash pulls me in tighter.
“I said now!” Judas booms.
Ash is propelled backwards as I’m ripped me from his arms, his talons tearing at my skin.
“See what you made us do?”
The woman glares at Ash, who hisses back, but he remains pinned to the floor.
“Elektra will bring her back to you in good time my boy; in good time.”
Grabbing me by an elbow, Elektra leads me through a door. Spiral stairs lead us down. The air here does not like me. The water is dirty and distrustful. The earth, I feel it through the stones, wants to crush me. I dare not try fire. Not that I would know where to go, if I got out of her clutches. She might as well have talons. At last, she tosses me into a cold stone cell and slams the door.
“Welcome home,” she cackles as she bolts the door shut.
Darkness envelops me and I shiver.
~DAD!~ I scream with all my mental might, but there is only silence.