“Gail,” Jenna said. “How strong of a magic shield can you create?”
“Incredibly strong,” Gail said. “My blood isn’t so thin as the rest of yours. Why? Are you planning on hiding behind my strength?”
“No,” Jenna stated. “Even you couldn’t keep up that barrier against all of them. Not for long. What I want you to do is create a semi-malleable barrier. One they can get inside with effort. That way, they’ll have no choice but to trickle in. Allowing the rest of us to limit the number we have to fight at once.”
“Not a bad idea,” Gail said. “But I won’t be able to fight and maintain the barrier.”
“That’s fine,” Jenna said. “I think the barrier’ll be more helpful. She turned to the others. Sylvie, Wilfred and I will form one fighting unit. Serena, Lilac and Inés will form a second. Stay close enough that we can group if the need arises.”
“Works for me,” Inés said. “The groups seem pretty even.”
“They do indeed,” Wilfred said. He turned to Jenna. “Realistically, how long do you think the six of us can hold?”
“Realistically,” Jenna said. “We don’t have much choice. We hold or we die. We just have to hope that reinforcements arrive before the latter happens.”
They moved into position. The first of Echidna’s children to push through were swiftly dispatched, but more quickly came in and the battle was joined.
The six of them fought on. The bodies of Echidna’s children began piling up. Thanks to Inés and Jenna especially, but their numbers were vast and the battle quickly began taking its toll.
Inés tossed a lion aside with her staff and swung around, bashing both heads of an orthrus. Serena and Lilac stood back to back. They were breathing heavily and bruised.
“Howe long until we get help?” Lilac wondered.
“Don’t know,” Serena said. She brushed some blood from her face with a quick swipe of her forearm.
“Just keep going,” Inés said. “We can hold them. Just stay close to me, okay?”
“I will,” Serena agreed.
Gail watched them fight but didn’t pay close attention. Her focus was elsewhere. Making the shield passable was making it easier to maintain, but it was starting to wear on her. She was starting to grow weary. In about twenty seconds her nose would start bleeding. She knew that she would get worse after that. In spite of how confident she’d sounded when accepting the task, she wasn’t sure how long she could stay conscious after that. An hour, perhaps two. She quickly sent a burst of magical energy around, surveying the area. There were still no reinforcements to be seen.
Jenna launched herself away from Wilfred and Sylvie, unleashing a deadly burst of lightning all around her. She allowed herself a couple seconds and launched herself into another group of Echidna’s children. Bringing down another burst while they scrambled to get away.
Nearby, Sylvie was also hurling bolts, albeit much less powerful ones. Wilfred looked dismayed at the blood on his hands, but kept swinging his blade. As much as he disliked violence, he disliked the thought of being killed more.
A Hydra swooped down at Serena and Lilac, spewing flames from all of its heads.
Lilac scrambled away. Serena huddled down, knowing she wasn’t fast enough to escape it. She tried to partially shield herself with her arms, hoping it didn’t hurt too much. To her surprise, there was no pain. When she opened her eyes, Inés was standing between her and the hydra. Her back was singed and steam filled the air from where the flames had hit a geyser produced by magic.
“Inés your back…” Serena began.
“It’s nothing,” Inés said. “I got worse burns from those nut jobs in Wicadia. Still, this thing tried to burn you up and that…”
A water spout burst from the clouds beneath them, launching Inés through the air. Her staff slammed into three of the hydras heads. While those heads were stunned, Inés rushed to its neck, moving nimbly past its active heads. She slammed her staff into its chest with a thunderous crack. Once, twice thrice. The hydra collapsed, its hearts unable to take the punishment. Inés stepped away from it.
“That’s what really pisses me off,” she finished.
The great dragon lunged for Sylvie and Wilfred.
“Go low, I’ll go high!” Sylvie said.
While Wilfred dove for its under belly, Sylvie leapt, tossing herself further up with lightning magic towards its neck. The great dragon’s claw swiped her out of the air and into the ground. Wilfred’s blade found its mark, cutting into the dragon’s vitals.
Sylvie was picking herself up when a cerberus galloped towards her. Its razor sharp teeth aimed for her neck.
She was soon sprayed with blood. Jenna had moved to block the Cerberus.
Its first head was biting into her neck. Its second head into her stomach and its third head gripped one of her arms.
Sylvie ignored the pain, charging on pure adrenaline. Her rapier dispatched the cerberus.
“Jenna!” she cried. She reached, her hand shaking, to check her pulse, knowing it was too late. The blood was everywhere and the wounds savage. Jenna had been killed instantly.