Bonnie ran past the golem, slashing at its legs with her blade. Trying to force its attention away from Lysara.
The golem pivoted and swung at her. She ducked beneath the blow and rolled beneath it, jabbing into its stomach. The monster responded by bringing two of its legs inward, trying to grab her between them. She kicked, propelling herself out from underneath it, coming up at its back. She swiftly moved up, getting onto the golem’s back, behind the torso-like growth that ended in its humanoid head. She hacked and slashed at it, hoping that the head would be its weak point, but its armour remained intact.
The creature turned its head all the way around to stare at her. Then it flailed, trying to dislodge her, but she held on tightly, watching its legs in case it brought one up to swing at her. It didn’t look like they had that kind of movement, but she’d never seen a golem like this before and wasn’t sure.
Axra was in trouble, trapped between two of them. Sure, one of them was missing a leg, but it had seven more. Lilly tried drawing their attention with several arrows, but they ignored her. They circled closer and closer to Axra.
She turned to the damaged one and tried sliding beneath it. It saw her coming and moved into position to crush her with two of its legs.
“Dammit!” Axra cried, bringing up her sword in an attempt to deflect the blow, knowing that a normal blade couldn’t possibly manage it.
The golem’s legs scraped against Todberührung’s edge and continued on their way. Axra braced herself for the blow, but it didn’t come. The golem’s legs crumbled into dust and the rot spread upwards along its body. It moved away, trying to pierce its own body to tear off the affected area, but it was too late. Within seconds it was over. Just like the dragon she had killed before she had met Twila, it was gone.
The second golem moved backwards, apparently trying to get out of her range. Lilly fired several more arrows at it and hurried over to Axra.
“I… I thought it had you. I…” she wiped her sleeve over her eyes. “S… sorry. I… I was scared that you…”
“Don’t worry, Lilly,” Axra said. “I’m okay.” She put her free hand on Lilly’s shoulder. “Come on. Let’s help Bonnie and Lysara.”
“But… that…” Lilly gestured towards the second golem.
“Don’t worry,” Axra laughed. “I bet it’s too scared of me to come close enough to let me touch it. But keep an eye on it. If it moves after us, let me know.”
Bonnie’s arms were getting tired. The golem was relentless, never stopping, never slowing. She looked towards Lysara. The other woman was slowly rising to her feet. If she could just hold on long enough…
“Please, Athena,” she whispered. “Please let her get out of here. I don’t care what happens to me. Just let her be safe.”
“Grab Lysara! I’ll get Bonnie.”
That voice… Bonnie turned her head. Axra was running towards the golem. She had survived? Had Lilly… Had Lilly managed to save her?
Lilly moved to Lysara’s side, helping her stand. Axra swung her blade at the golem’s torso. It stopped flailing about and tried knocking her away.
Bonnie took the chance. She clenched her blade and jabbed downwards with all her strength. She felt the golem’s armour give a little. She studied the spot. It was small, but there was a crack there. She jabbed at the spot again and again. The golem ignored Axra and shook, knocking Bonnie off.
Axra ran over to catch her, barely managing to keep her feet when Bonnie’s weight hit her. She ran as fast as she could while carrying the other woman.
“Careful!” Lilly cried. “The other one’s coming after you too!”
“The golem,” Bonnie muttered. “Its back… I cracked it.”
“Lilly!” Axra called. “Bonnie cracked its back armour, see if you can hit it!”
Lilly studied the golem’s back for a moment. The crack had broken open under the force of the other blows, revealing the creature’s core. One more shot and she would have hit it.
Lilly notched her bow and hurriedly lined up her shot. The arrow went right into the core, smashing it open. The golem slumped to the ground like a marionette that had just had its strings cut and went still.
“Awesome!” Axra declared. She turned to the last golem, holding her sword out. The creature hurriedly backed away.
“Still scared?” Axra taunted. “You should be.” She took a few confident steps forward. The golem turned and ran, back the way it and its comrades had come.
“That’s done it,” Axra stated. “Let’s get back to the others.”
Initially, they had a slow pace. Both Bonnie and Lysara being exhausted and needing help. Particularly Lysara, who had hurt her leg. Then Bonnie was able to walk on her own. She and Lilly took turns carrying Lysara and they were able to speed up. Thanks to Twila’s speed spell they were able to catch up to the others before long. A dark elf healer fixed Lysara’s leg so that she could move back into position.
The rest of the march from the ruins went peacefully and they made camp near the great steps.
Bonnie got some dark elf volunteers and organised a night-watch that would cover the perimetre.
She and Lilly took over on the east halfway through the night, allowing Twila and Axra to rest.
“Is something wrong?” Lilly asked. “Not to pry… I mean… you don’t have to tell me… it’s just… you’ve been acting weird since we got away from the golems.”
Bonnie looked off into the distance. “It’s because I failed,” she said, after a while.
“What do you mean?” Lilly asked.
“When it came time to choose between my duty to the Princess or my feelings for Lysara… I went to save Lysara. I… I thought that the Princess was a goner but I still…”
“B… but everything turned out okay,” Lilly stated. “If… if you had gone after Axra… then Lysara would have died. But… because you did what you did… everybody lived.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Bonnie said. “I had no way of knowing she was going to be okay. I should have gone to her. But I just couldn’t abandon Lysara.”
“It… it can’t be helped,” Lilly said. “I… I mean… I would do anything for Axra. If… if she was in danger… I’d die to save her. Not because I’m a soldier of Nervius… but because I love her.” She put a reassuring hand on Bonnie’s shoulder. “Just like you love Lysara.”
Bonnie knocked Lilly’s hand away. “That’s the problem! I can’t help but love Lysara and it’s getting in the way of my duty. I… I tried to ignore her, close my heart to her… but it didn’t work. I don’t know how to stop loving her.”
The two both turned at the sound of a gasp. Lysara was standing behind them. Bonnie felt her cheeks flush.
“Sorry,” Lysara said. “I… I woke up and I wanted to thank you two for saving me. I didn’t mean to eavesdrop.”
“How much did you hear?” Bonnie whispered. She looked away from the bard.
“I got here at about the time you said ‘I can’t help but love Lysara’,” Lysara answered. “Oh, Bon, I had no idea you felt that way. Why, it’s wonderful!” Lysara ran up and hugged Bonnie, tightly.
“Will you just go back to your tent?” Bonnie asked.
“Okay,” Lysara said. “I know I’ll have pleasant dreams now.” She winked at Bonnie. “Good night, Bon!” She kissed her fingers and made a grand gesture of throwing it towards Bonnie.