Ell threw up her head, watching the enormous Guardian diving at her. Her jaws opened defensively, then it slammed into her. She felt the thudding impact as a tremendous weight bore her body to the ground. Huge claws stabbed and ripped agonizingly into her sides, grabbing at her neck and pinning her head to the stony earth.
She looked upward into a gaping, toothed maw, nostrils filling with the rotted flesh scent of heated breath as it came at her. Her mind filled with the horrific vision of this enormous Guardian crushing her skull in it’s jaws, like the shell of an egg.
“Git offa her you, you…!”
Terris never finished his demand as he leapt at her attacker. Out of the corner of her eye, Ell saw Terris fly through the air, thrown wide by an enormous, whipping tail. She felt a stab of fear for him, knowing Terris had already been injured even as he leapt upon her foe.
Ell prayed. One, protect these precious humans who have given so much to protect me.
She felt her heart expand and was suddenly aware of all that took place from a vantage point above, observing.
She knew this Guardian. This was Fal, the dark light.
She felt the loving presence of the One fill her to overflowing. It tingled throughout her body, easing the terrible weight crushing her into the ground, and the burning pain of the claws that ripped at her.
Her fear melted away and she was oddly curious to see what would happen next.
She knew with certainty that it was all perfect, whatever happened, and she was filled with a deep sense of peace. Then sadness welled up in her heart as she felt the agony, fear and rage which consumed Fal and her heart reached out to him.
“Elllll...!” Lisle screamed high and long, from the mountain path above. Ell saw Lisle hurtle recklessly down the mountainside, slipping sideways on the graveled surface, face contorted with anger. She charged at the Fallen, beating at him with her fists.
Another arrived at that same moment, the boy Ell had seen from the air, the one she recognized as Tim. Long legs and arms pumping furiously, he raced to Fal, pulling at him, trying to get him off of her back.
She was grateful for their efforts, even knowing they were futile.
The thought came to her, I am of the One and of the One I remain. She knew this to be her deepest truth, despite what was happening to her physical body.
Then, as her body struggled for breath beneath that terrible weight, she mind-spoke, Fal, we are ONE.
The light of the One flooded outward through the back of her heart. She felt the warm energy and an intense tingling sensation which dampened the burning pain in her back and neck from where his claws tore through her scaled hide. She felt love, huge and encompassing, engulfing her and the one who rent and tore at her.
Distantly, she felt the pain intensify in her back as his claws clenched spasmodically, powerfully, and then suddenly released.
With a shrieking roar the Fallen lifted into the air and flapped away in the direction from which he had come. She turned her head to watch him and saw that his movements were awkward. Long, dark tail wheeling, trying for balance, he pitched drunkenly in the air with none of the accustomed grace of a Guardian in flight.
Ell heaved desperate breath into her lungs, and her consciousness fell back into her body as its arching defensiveness collapsed. She felt the intense burning pain of her wounds return and groaned. A sound that vibrated from her gut and all along her neck, exacerbating the agony, and which she quickly cut short.
Lisle and Tim stood on either side of her, staring at her.
She heard the boy whisper, “I’m so sorry.” Then his feet pounded off in the direction the Fallen had taken. She didn’t lift her head to watch him go.
“Ell, you’re bl…bleeding!” She felt Lisle’s gentle hands on her back, and heard her catching intake of breath. “Oh, Ell.” Lisle quickly removed her over-tunic. She tried without success to rip it in pieces as she started to sob. Then she gave up and used the whole tunic to mop at Ell’s back and neck.
“One bless you, Ell, yer a bit tore up,” said Terris through gritted teeth. He limped over to her, pressing his hand hard against his side.
“There now, Younger, Ell ‘ll be alright.” Terris sounded out of breath as he moved over beside her and Ell felt another hand upon her back. “It looks a mess, but nothin’ as won’t heal up.” He paused to drag in another breath, still pressing his hand against his side. “You keep doin’ what you’re doin.’ It’ll stop the bleedin.’” Lisle snuffled, wiping her nose on her sleeve, and reached to mop Ell’s neck where it dripped crimson. Terris sank down on the ground beside Ell, breathing hard. Then his eyes rolled back, his head canted to the side, and he slowly toppled over.
In case you missed a post, or if you've just tuned in to Lisle's story,
here are links to previously posted chapters to save you scrolling all the way through.
Introduction Prologue Chapter 1 Chapter 2 Chapter 3 Chapter 4 Chapter 5
Chapter 6 Chapter 7 Chapter 8 Chapter 9 Chapter 10 Chapter 11 Chapter 12 Chapter 13
Chapter 14 Chapter 15 Chapter 16 Chapter 17 Chapter 18 Chapter 19 Chapter 20
Chapter 21 Chapter 22 Chapter 23 Chapter 24 Chapter 25 Chapter 26 Chapter 27 Chapter 28
Chapter 29 Chapter 30 Chapter 31 Chapter 32 Chapter 33 Chapter 34 Chapter 35