The seconds seemed infinite as I waited for the fist to fall. In my last seconds I thought of Morgan, her nervous smile and her unbreakable strength, and how I wished I had spent more time with her.
Several seconds more passed by before I dared to open my eyes again. Had it happened so fast I didn’t feel death strike? My eyes adjusted to take in the blurred surroundings; the battle was still raging on around us. I wasn’t dead yet, and neither was Layla, very much alive she trembled, curled up and eyes screwed shut. I exhaled and for the first time realised how lucky I was to be doing so. I didn’t have long to take in the joy of existing before a terrible crash seemed to jolt Layla out of her terrified trance. An enormous chunk of stone had flown down mere feet away from us. Almost completely covered in vines I managed to make out the shape of the gigantic fist that should have killed us both moments ago. Somehow the vines must have ensnared it and drawn it backwards. I didn’t know how or why but I was grateful.
The huge figure of stone still loomed over us but it was on the move, swinging an enormous arm towards the parapets.
“Layla, quickly, we need to get out of here!” I tried pushing my body off the ground but a searing pain took over half of my body. My arm was most definitely useless now. As much as it would hurt me to do so I would have to leave my new sword where it lay. Layla got up, and although still shaking managed to support my weight enough to get me standing again. It occurred to me she was a lot stronger physically than she looked.
Propping me against a nearby tree she ripped a large section of cloth from around her waist. It was only then I noticed that she was drenched with blood, three large gashes down her side seemed to be the work of one of those winged monstrosities.
“I’m fine.” she snapped as I tentatively moved my working hand towards the wounds. “We need to get your arm secured in a sling.” I moved my arm back and let her continue wrapping my broken arm up. I knew she would be far too stubborn to accept help or try to bandage her own wounds. As sadistic as it was in the current situation I did have to laugh. I couldn’t exactly blame Layla for her ways after I had attempted hand to hand combat with a golem, we were both far too stubborn for our own good.
A searing pain struck straight through the center of my head, as if I had been struck in half. My vision blurred from Layla’s concerned and pale face. I could see the top of the parapet, a gigantic grey horror, and Morgan, her expression desperate.
“NO! Morgan, I’m coming” I screamed.
A harsh slap across my face brought me back down to the ground, to where my body was.
“Mike? Where is she, what’s going on?” Layla had gone even paler as she looked down at me.
It took me a moment to realise I had slumped down the tree.
I shook my head to try and clear the images burned into my eyes. “Morgan’s in trouble, get back to Katha. You’ll be safer there.” I put my hand on her shoulder in the most reassuring way I could before pushing myself up and away from the ground.
“No.” She grabbed onto my arm as I began unfurling my wings. “No more of your god damn heroics today Mike. What about your arm!” She tried her hardest to make me look at her but I couldn’t. “What good is it if we all die up there?” She added. Her voice pleaded so desperately now as if begging for her own salvation.
“We won’t. That’s why you are going back to your daughter. Help anyone else who’s been hurt, and if we don’t return you have to promise me you will leave this place and warn everyone else. Promise me.” I finally looked up, but now she was just staring at the ground, tears falling once again from that elegant thin face. She let go of her grip on my arm and mumbled something that sounded like a promise.
As much as I wanted to stay and hold her there was no time to loose. I took off towards the castle walls where I had seen Morgan stood moments ago. It seemed to beasts had been expecting company. I flew as fast as I could as they began to swarm around me, only being able to use one hand for my element was really quite a pain when so horrifically outnumbered. I’d had much worse injuries in my day, but honestly never at a more inconvenient time.
Then I saw her, she was alive which is all I really cared about right now.
“Agh” In my moment of distraction I had allowed a creature to get too close and teeth sunk deep into my already damaged arm. If these things were venomous I swear to all forms of gods that there would be hell to pay. Kicking it off my arm more began to swarm around me. I lost sight of Morgan, thrashing wildly was keeping the beasts off at least but it meant I couldn’t do any more than keep myself in the air. The beasts weren’t trying to kill me yet, just trying to keep me away from her. Trapped in a swarm of the beasts all I could do was watch whatever terrible scene was about to happen.
Yet through all the screeches a musical sound, sweeter than heaven and even more so entrancing, struck through the air. Only faerie music could ever strike so deep into my soul, and only one horn could possibly sound such a note. Helena, she had come to our aid.
It was now my turn to make use of the distraction of my enemy. I formed a whip of fire as long as I could and struck out at my bemused areal captors causing them to scatter for long enough for me to carry on moving towards the castle.
Touching down onto the walls as fast as I could I turned around to see what back up she had sent us. Whatever few soldiers she had been able to spare would surely be a massive help. To say I was not expecting what I saw was an understatement. The most glorious sight was approaching; hundreds of beating wings of all colors formed a huge cloud of people flying straight towards us. Lead by the queen herself, I had never heard of a queen entering the front lines of a battle before, but I supposed this was a rather special occasion.
The remaining creatures surrounding us seemed as confused as Judas was. The Van Helsings had clearly not anticipated a full scale war quite so soon.
There was hope yet.