Tooth and Claw

Open the gates

If you hurt my family, then I will hurt yours…

The Outsider’s voice rang in her ears as the creature beyond the door let out a strange gurgling shriek and withdrew the ragged stumps of its fingers. The rage and hatred in those words seemed to burn into her back, filling her with fear. She turned, time seeming to become slow and sluggish, sword raised in her hand to parry against an attack that never came.

She saw him sink into the ground like a shadow. There was a rumbling beneath her feet moving away, moving too fast beneath the monstrous gate that towered into the night sky. She felt herself stumble slightly as the ground shook beneath them all, as the enemy headed towards the ritual and the hostages and the rest of her pack. Behind her, she heard Cal give a growl of irritation, moving away from her and closer to the gate as he tried to get the doors open. The entire glade hummed with power, the night filled with dangerous energy.

Shit! We need to get him back here! The door, once it opens the rest of the way, if he’s not-

There was a great blast of wind, surging with familiar power like electricity, lifting her hair from behind and blowing it in her face. There had been a sliver of strange light that cast across her and the glade as she had stood behind Cal, fending off the enemy as he widened the gap between the gates so they could shove this creature inside. Now there was suddenly a dazzling beam, several metres wide, and a feeling of power and chaos and fear so great it almost made her fall. Again she turned, slow and sluggish as the world seemed to spin around her, a roaring in her ears.

The gate was open. It loomed above them in the sky, filled with a terrible light. She was just in time to see Cal step into the swirling void.

She heard noises, as if coming from far away. Was it screaming? She didn’t know. The Outsider had moved away from her, and she didn’t know where he had gone. What the hell was Cal doing? How could he abandon them now? They had a plan, it had been going just fine, they were on top of things… Had he decided he wanted to do his own thing, like so many times before, throwing everything they were working towards away for his own arrogance and vanity? Or had he betrayed them, the mark that was supposedly done with not so dead after all?

She couldn’t believe that. Not now, when they were so close.

They needed to get the Outsider back here, needed to complete the ritual to weaken him and then throw him through these damned gates and seal them shut forever and ever. It was enough of a challenge with four of them, to protect the rite-casters and save the hostages. How could they do it with three, when the gates were open?

She called out to her pack, called to them to keep going. They needed to work together, to stay strong. If one of the others protected those doing the rite, the third could help the hostages. They just had to get their foe back here. This could still be won. She would hold the line, stand firm against whatever came through.

Julia stood before the open gates, covered in blood and tightly gripping a sword coated in fire. The void pulsed and swirled, promising an end to everything.

Do your worst. I will not give in.



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