Lilly approached the entrance swiftly but silently. Not wanting to give away her position, she took note of every small stone, every crack in the ground so that she could avoid making any noise. “Please,” she thought “please still be open.”
Once she reached the top of the steps, confirming the entrance was still open, she pulled out the scroll, placed her hand on it and whispered “invisibility.” The scroll shimmered and vanished in a puff of smoke. Lilly felt her body tingle. Looking down, she couldn’t see herself.
She nodded to herself and moved quietly down the steps. She couldn’t hear the thing moving. Had it gone back behind its panel? She examined the area once she’d reached the bottom of the steps. There was no sign of it.
She carefully moved forward, alert and watching. There was still no sign of the destroyer. She reached the pedestal and quickly located Axra’s sword. She hurriedly picked it up and secured it in her belt. Then she turned to Zerstörelicht.
It was a beautiful bow, that was for certain. A pure white colour with very intricate, very small engravings that looked like vines with flowers, probably roses but she couldn’t tell with the naked eye. Still, she considered leaving it behind. After all, if she picked it up that thing would show up again. It would definitely be safer to leave and come back for it with the others.
But… She pictured that horrible instant where it had blasted Axra in her mind. If she left it until then, it might happen again. She reached forward and snatched it.
Immediately, she heard the sound of the wall lowering. She glanced over at it and ran as quickly as she could towards the steps. The Destroyer followed after her.
She glanced over her shoulder at it. Some of the cases were beneath its bulk, others were to both sides. Was it designed to avoid damaging the cases?
Lilly ducked behind the nearest case. She was still invisible so she was hoping it would pass over her. No such luck. It stopped near her and its spindly legs reached for her. She gasped and scrambled away from it.
Its eyes shined and an energy blast shot towards her. She rolled beneath it. It hit the wall just over her head. Did the creature have some way of sensing her or was it sensing Zerstörelicht?
Lilly continued her run, ducking behind the cases as she went, hoping that it would prevent the construct from firing at her. She held Zerstörelicht defensively in her arms. Maybe… maybe it could stop the creature.
She reached towards her pouch for an extra bow string.
She paused, confused by the voice she seemed to be hearing. Hesitantly, she reached for an arrow.
She stopped and held Zerstörelicht in front of her. If she wasn’t supposed to use a string or arrows then how?
She decided to test it. She went through the motions of notching an arrow and pulling the string. Surprisingly, she felt the weight of something in her hands. Looking down, she saw Zerstörelicht glowing. She pointed it at the destroyer and released the string.
A brilliant beam of pale pink light shot from the bow and flew into the construct, creating a miniature explosion on impact. It forced the destroyer back a few paces, but the creature easily recovered. Its fangs flew at her.
She barely managed to sidestep them and swiftly fired several more shots.
“I… I’m not hurting it,” Lilly thought. “Is it stronger than Zerstörelicht?”
The construct charged at her, very nearly taking off her head with a swipe of its legs.
“No, it’s not that,” she thought. “I… I’m too weak. I can’t use it properly.”
She managed to flip out of the way of its fangs and fire a bolt from Zerstörelicht into one of the chains. It shattered, sending the fang flying into the ceiling.
Unfortunately, the damage didn’t seem to register for the destroyer. It came at her faster than ever, with eye beams and legs. The protrusions on its back were glowing.
Lilly dodged desperately, having no time to counter-attack. Could she really get out of this?
I’ll come back for you when those six die.
Gail’s words came back to her and Lilly’s own confusion over them. Why had she been so sure that Lilly would survive? She’d almost died twice already. Once trying to protect Twila and again when the reaper had almost stabbed Axra but…
“No way,” Lilly thought. “It couldn’t be. The bolts that hit those things…”
Lilly froze in her tracks. If she was wrong… but if she was wrong it was over anyway.
The destroyer’s attacks stopped right before they could hit her and bounced back. The destroyer was tossed through several cases and into the wall, shattering into pieces.
“Gail…” Lilly said, aloud. “You…”
With a loud popping sound, Gail appeared in front of her.
“Oh, my sweet Lilly,” she said. “Did you think I would leave you unprotected?”
Gail looked around. “I don’t see their bodies. Did the destroyer vaporise them?”
“We… well no,” Lilly said. “I… I gave them sleeping medicine and came here alone.”
Gail seemed taken aback, but smiled and gently stroked Lilly’s hair. “I never took you for the reckless sort. But that courage is beautiful in its own way.” She glanced at the broken heap. “Well, I suppose you don’t need me protecting you anymore. I doubt there’s anything down here that can hurt you now. Not while you hold that bow.”
“W… wait,” Lilly cried.
“Oh,” Gail said. “This is a surprise. Did you want me to make love to you while we’re alone?”
Lilly felt her face flush. “I… I’d like you to send us… me and the others… up to the underground. A… Axra was b… badly hurt and…”
“Shhh,” Gail interrupted. “I know. You’re a girl who cares deeply for her friends and companions. That’s part of why I love you and it’s an easy enough favour.”
“Th… then you’ll…” Lilly began.
“On one condition,” Gail said. “Let me kiss you.”
“K… ki… kiss me?” Lilly asked. “I…” She closed her eyes and nodded.
The next moment, she felt Gail’s lips on her forehead.
“All right,” Gail laughed. “Let’s go.” She snapped her fingers and Lilly found herself outside of some kind of temple. With her companions on the ground nearby.
“What just happened?” Velvet asked. He looked over at Lilly. “Hey, you lived. Why are you blushing?”
Hey everyone, as we approach the end of another year I thought it appropriate to take a moment to thank all of you for your support this year.
Whether you celebrate the Solstice, Hanukkah, Hearth’s Warming, Kwanzaa, Christmas or something else entirely I wish you a joyful and bright holiday season.