Inés struggled against the scylla’s tendril. She was certain that she was stronger than a scylla under normal circumstances, but she was exhausted. Having spent so much time fighting and having used so much energy on that last spell. She couldn’t break free. But she still refused to give up. She would continue struggling until she managed to break free or died. The scylla pressed its advantage, tightening its grip.
A burst of lightning slammed into the scylla’s beaked maw. This was quickly followed up by Serena slamming her tonfa into its side and Sylvie lunging forward, piercing its eye with her rapier. It reeled back, dropping Inés. Lilac moved in, pulling her away from it.
“Never thought I’d be saved by you,” Inés muttered, looking at Sylvie.
“Well, I can’t very well owe you one,” Sylvie shot back. “Although we may have to run for it.”
The injured scylla and its fellows were closing in on the four of them. Inés took quick stock of their chances. Four tired women, one inexperienced in battle and two fully mortal. Gail probably wouldn’t be joining them. Probably couldn’t, after holding the barrier for her attack. They backed away, knowing they couldn’t let the scylla slip by, but also knowing their chances in a battle.
A horn sounded from behind them. “Thank Athena,” Sylvie stated.
“What, what’s happening?” Lilac asked.
“They finally sent reinforcements!” Inés declared.
The four of them watched as an armoured woman leapt over them. She had no helmet and long teal hair tied back in a ponytail. She held out her scimitar towards the scylla. Then, she vanished. Or seemed to, reappearing behind their line. The scyllas’ tentacles began popping off as lethal wounds appeared all over their bodies.
The woman sheathed her scimitar.
“What was that?” Serena asked.
“I… I think it was some kind of rapid movement spell,” Inés said.
“Definitely,” Sylvie agreed. “But a step above any I’ve ever seen.”
The woman turned and smiled at them. “There, you’re safe now. I’m Lynde, daughter of Hades.” Lynde looked around. “I suppose that Jenna didn’t make it.”
“No, she didn’t,” Inés answered. “Thanks for your help. I’m Inés daughter of Poseidon, I guess.”
“I’ve heard of you,” Lynde said. “The girl who brought her mortal lover along for this whole mess.”
“I can fight,” Serena protested. “Maybe not as well as you, but still…”
Lynde held up her hand. “Peace. I didn’t mean anything by it. And it looks like you dealt with most of them. You should all get some rest. I’ll assemble a team from those who came to aid you to keep watch.”
“Wasn’t your group attacked too?” Inés asked.
“We were,” Lynde confirmed. “We dealt with them.” She surveyed the bodies around them. “We didn’t have this many. The spell you used to do all of this must have been very impressive.”
“Oh, no,” Inés said. “It was mainly Gail’s barrier that did it. I just filled it with water. Certainly not as impressive as your speed spell.”
“Advanced aether magic,” Lynde said. “I learned it from Camila before… well, never mind about that. We need to do the last rites for your dead.”
They found Jenna and Wilfred’s bodies and built a pyre for them. Those left alive in the group, and those who had come as reinforcements, said prayers for them. It briefly struck Inés that it was a bit awkward for them to be praying to their parents and those related to them, but she said nothing.
Finally, they went to the barracks to rest.
“I… I don’t know why she sacrificed herself for me,” Sylvie said. “I barely knew her.”
“She liked you,” Inés said. “Had quite the crush.”
“She never mentioned it to me,” Sylvie stated. “Are you sure?”
“She didn’t mention t because I told her you had someone else,” Inés said. “Guess she couldn’t get over it that easily.”
“She should have stayed back,” Sylvie said. “Maybe she could’ve saved Wilfred and…”
“Shut up,” Inés said. “Don’t feel guilty for surviving or ask yourself ‘what if.’ If you’d been killed she may have very well died anyway. Same with Wilfred. For that matter, Serena couldn’t have staggered the scylla by herself so I might have died too.”
“You were great out there, Sylvie!” Serena declared.
“You two…” Sylvie muttered. “Thank you.”
The door opened and Lynde walked in. “It’s settled,” she said. “I’ll be sending you a member of my group. His name is Matthew and he’s a son of Hermes. Very skilled in a fight. Hopefully, Echidna’s children won’t attack you again. They may not even be able to. Not after their numbers were reduced.”
“Do you actually believe that?” Gail asked. “You think they sent their entire force at once?”
“No,” Lynde answered. “But I think they will certainly be weakened and hesitant to move and if you do get attacked again, I’ll come personally. For tonight, you lot rest. I’ll keep watch and leave tomorrow.”
Inés woke very early, before the sun rose, and went out to find Lynde at her post.
“Working diligently, I see,” Inés said.
“You seem better,” Lynde observed.
“I was mainly just tired,” Inés said. She sat down. ” A little burned too. Truth be told, I wouldn’t have brought Serena or Sylvie if I’d known that I was being summoned for a war like this. I mean, I trust them as comrades and everything, but this is a bit much.”
Lynde nodded. “I know what you mean. Lina wanted to come with me, but I refused her.”
“That your girlfriend?” Inés asked.
“Wife,” Lynde corrected. “She’s an elf. Still relatively young. We met thirty years ago when I was on a journey. When my father came to bring me to battle, she wanted to saddle her pegasus, take up her spear and come along.”
“Because it’s dangerous?” Inés asked.
“Partially,” Lynde answered. “And partially because she’s not suited for fighting. She’s a gentle woman. Only fights to protect others.”
“I can see where that would be a problem in this kind of war,” Inés said.
Lynde nodded. “I’ll keep watching until your friends are up if you want to eat and bathe.”
“All right,” Inés said. “I’ll bring you something too.”