Chapter 16 – Promises (Breaking Tradition)
“Throw me tomorrow
Seeing my past and letting go”
- David Bowie – Thursday’s Child
A white-blond vampire, with a tangible aura of malice was stalking around the length of an underground room, muttering to himself under his breath.
“Sure, I knew about the bloody Slayer, Slayers are easy. But this one can’t be, can she? Instead she has to have friends, and a bloody family. No-one ever bothered to tell me that there was an elder in this area either, did they? No, no-one ever tells things like that to poor ol’ Spike. I’ll be lucky if I don’t get my sodding head torn off. Elders are arseholes.”
He ran his hand through his hair, and shook himself, and then looked up as his companion drifted into the room, looking almost like she’d wandered in almost by accident. His expression softened, and he reached out for her, slipping his arms around her neck.
“What is it, Dru? What’s the matter, baby?”
“You’re taking so long, Spike. I thought you might have crumbled, and I was going to find nothing but dust.”
He took her head in his hands and kissed her tenderly on the lips, “Not yet, see, baby. I’m still in one piece, although this damned town is trying to put paid to that.”
She smiled at him, and her eyes glittered softly in the dim light. Her pale skin looked almost transparent, and he touched her again, just to make sure that his hand wasn’t going to pass through her, and then smirked to himself. If he didn’t know any better he’d think her madness was catching.
“I want to play a game, Spike.”
“Sorry, love. I need to work out how to put this Slayer in the ground, and then we need to get out of town before the elder around these parts takes offence.”
Her gaze became distant, and he froze, not wanting to distract her from the moment. Finally she spoke again, “If you get to her friends, then she will fall. Knock on his door on Samhain, and he will answer.”
She whimpered softly as his grasp tightened, and he growled, “Nothing ever happens on Halloween. Whose damn door are you talking about?”
“You’re hurting me, Spike.”
“Whose door?” he repeated.
She dropped a handful of white rose petals that he didn’t realize she had been holding, and watched as they fluttered to the ground, “His door, Spike. His door.”
Precariation. It had been several lifetimes since he’d had cause to think of the thorned beast that considered itself a cut above him and his type, but if that was who Drusilla told him to call then call he would. She was mad, but that didn’t make her any less accurate.
He grinned at her, “What sort of game did you want to play, pet?”
She drew a sharp nail along his ear, “I want a foxhunt. I want to be blooded.”
“Anything the lady wants. Stay close to me, though, pet. You’re not as strong as you used to be, remember?”
It was just over a week on from the party at the frat house, and things were on as much of an even keel as any potential disaster could be. Buffy, Xander and Willow had retreated to the library to discuss Snyder’s latest travesty, which was his ‘volunteer’ Halloween program. Judging by the conversation it seemed that they had been made to sign up this morning, and Buffy and Xander were none to happy about it. Willow, on the other hand, didn’t seem too concerned.
“I’m actually kind of looking forward to it,” Willow said, as she brushed her fringe out of her eyes, “I mean we’re too old to ask for candy, so what better way to spend Halloween then helping others enjoy the night?”
“It probably doesn’t hurt that you’re going to catch up with that new friend of yours afterwards, too?” Xander said. Willow and the girl, Callie had caught up a couple of times over the past week, once she had been given the all clear by the hospital.
“She’s pretty cool. Handled the fact that we live on the mouth of Hell a lot better then most of the people in Sunnydale seem to.”
“You should bring her by here one of these days,” Xander raised an eyebrow at her.
“I’m working on it,” Willow said, “Just one thing at a time, yeah? She’s still getting over her introduction to the supernatural world.”
“Is something gonna happen?” Buffy asked, almost hopefully, looking towards him, “I mean, Halloween. Gotta be a big night for the creepy-crawlies. How many other nights of the year can they go undetected among the rest of the crowd?”
“Nothing ever happens on Halloween,” Rupert finally spoke up, as Buffy paused to take a breath, “You won’t get a quieter night.”
“You have got to be kidding me,” Buffy said, as she slumped into her chair, “How on earth can it be a quiet night?”
“The souls of the dead are too protective over the souls of the living.”
Both Buffy and Willow stared at Xander, who looked uncomfortable under the sudden attention.
“What? I read on occasion. Halloween is the night when the spirits of the dead cross back to visit loved ones. If a demon tried to start anything, then the guardians of the dead wouldn’t be all that happy.”
Rupert shot the boy a half-smile, “Not bad.”
Xander glanced at him, and then looked away just as quickly. He had been spending time around him, but he doubted that the boy would ever be comfortable around him again, as such. He didn’t blame him, either. They had lost something that he hadn’t even had a chance to take for granted.
Buffy sighed, “All I know is it’s one more excuse for Snyder to throw the book at me, if something goes wrong, and I know you say it won’t, but if our track-record is anything to go by, then for all I know we’re going to wind up with flying minions trying to play pin the tail on the human donkey.”
Rupert sniggered, only to find himself on the receiving end of Buffy’s glare.
“Sorry, I was just picturing it,” he said, sheepishly.
“Well, don’t. If you picture it, then it’s halfway to happening.”
“I’ll endeavour not to then, shall I?”
“Yes please, do that.”
“Very well then,” he gave a theatrical bow, “If my Slayer commands it, so shall it be.”
Willow giggled, and he received another glare from Buffy.
“We have to dress up and everything. Which, okay is kind of cool, but I am seriously going to be cramped by the little kids.” Buffy wrinkled her nose at the thought, then glanced at him again, “Are you sure you can’t schedule one teeny tiny disaster?”
“I thought you’d have been grateful for what will essentially be a night off,” Rupert said.
“It’s not that I’m not, but demons don’t leave chocolate fingermarks behind.”
“Well, I’m afraid you’ll have to… what is the way you Americans put it… suck up and deal. You’re meeting Angel afterwards aren’t you? That should give you something to look forward to.”
“What the…how did…I didn’t say I was meeting Angel. How did you know that?”
“Well let’s see,” Xander said, “could it be because it’s what you’ve been doing every night since that party?”
At that moment the bell rang for class.
“Did you need us here afterwards?’ Buffy asked, “Because otherwise, we were going to go costume shopping for tomorrow.”
“There’s nothing coming up. Enjoy your shopping.”
“I’ll catch you tomorrow morning, then, to report in after patrol.”
“Yes, you do that. The town should be getting quieter, but make sure you keep your wits about you.”
“Sure thing, Giles. See you.”
They had walked the length of the main street a couple of times, not that there was much main street in Sunnydale. Buffy tugged a bottle of water out from her backpack, and took a drink from it, then looked at her friends.
“I can’t believe there aren’t even any seasonal ‘One Week Only’ shops in town. Back in L.A there would have been five or six costume shops on the one street by now.”
“There’s always Party Town,” Willow said, wistfully.
“Oh, Willow,” Xander said, gently, “You haven’t been starving yourself have you? Because that’s probably the only way we’d ever afford a deposit on one costume from there, let alone three, and it’s so far out of town that our feet would be matchsticks by the time we got there.”
“What about the thrift store?” Willow suggested, after a few minutes of thought, “It’s cheap and handy, and we can probably find something that would work.”
“Now you’re talking,” Buffy said. Turning, she headed down to the Goodwill Store with her friends following behind, and led the way into the small shop. She and her friends spread out, each heading for a different section of the shop. Willow headed towards the back, where some of the more unique items were, while Xander headed over to the menswear, planning on going for the minimal effect. Buffy made a beeline for the vintage woman’s clothing to see if there was anything there that caught her eye.
Most of the items had colours on them that she wouldn’t be caught dead in, but in the end she found a stunning, old-fashioned dress that looked like it was from out of a Disney movie, that was well inside her price range. She took it up to the counter to get it rung up, and decided to curl her hair for the night. It would never stay like that, but it would be nice to dress up and feel all girly for a night. Beating on the undead was a good exercise in frustration management, but it would be even better to have a night off.
Once she had paid she drifted over to Willow to check out what she was eyeing up, and found her looking at a leather miniskirt that looked like it had walked straight out of the late eighties and onto the rack.
Willow looked at her almost guiltily, “It’s too much, isn’t it? I should put it back, and just cut eyeholes in an old bed sheet.”
“No, no, no, no, no. You are so totally not allowed to. You have to get that. There’s a waistcoat in my mom’s wardrobe that will be perfect with it. I can tease your hair, and we’ll give you the whole rock chick look. It’ll be perfect.”
“Do you really think so?”
“I know so.”
Willow grabbed the price-tag, and flipped it over to check, and then sighed, “Well, that’s obviously not going to happen.”
“Give me what you were going to spend, and I’ll cover the rest.”
“You couldn’t,” Willow shook her head.
“I insist,” Buffy held out her hand, “Am I going to have to break out the Slayer strength on you?”
“Okay, I give,” Willow handed over the skirt and her cash, and the headed to the counter, just as Xander was being given a white plastic bag with his purchase inside it.
They headed out of the shop, and Buffy looked at her watch. She still had a half hour before she had to get back home, “So what did you get?” she asked Xander.
He pulled out a shirt with the Superman symbol on it, and Buffy giggled.
“Mock all you like, but I bet I paid less then the two of you. By the time I dig up that old red sheet of mine I’m set.”
“If you say so,” Buffy said.
“You’re drifting like a shadow across the moon. You don’t touch anything, but you hide so much. The stars told me that you’re going to spill her blood.”
Drusilla’s voice was a light trill, and her words were coherent. Spike paused, and cursed. He’d been trying to get out without alerting her, but he didn’t know why he bothered to try. When she had lost her mind it was as though her other senses had been enhanced to compensate for it. He didn’t know of any other vampire with hearing as good as what hers was.
“Just a couple of drops. I need it so that our new friend here can recognize the scent of her friends,” Spike nodded towards the shell of the demon that was curled up in the corner of the room.
It was powerfully built and solid black, aside from the thorns which protruded from its body, which were dark red and ranged in length from a few centimetres on its head and torso, to as long as several inches on its elbows and hands. Its face was surprisingly batlike, and jagged teeth grew up over its lip from its lower gum.
“Can I come? I want to see her dance to your tune.”
“It’s too risky, pet. I’ll have my hands full keeping this thing in one piece.”
The way that she whimpered made her sound like a kicked dog.
“Look, I’ll bring you home a treat, yeah? How about that?”
“You hear that, Miss Edith?” she asked her doll that she was dangling by its hair, swinging from her hand, “Daddy’s going to bring home a treat. If you’re a good girl you’ll be party to the feast.”
“There’s my girl,” he said, then turned his attention to the demonic shell, “Well come on you great lump.” He rolled his eyes, as it didn’t move. “Was that too complicated for you? Stand, and follow me.”
He waited as it slowly stood, then led it out the door. For the moment the only way to control it was with simple, direct orders. Its brain could process that, but not much else.
He knew how tricky this Slayer was, from when he had danced with her at the high school. She was creative, and highly focused, and he had barely escaped with his life. If she hadn’t been distracted by her friends, then he doubted that he would have. It had also been at the school that he had caught the elder’s scent. Surprisingly enough, the scent had been around the Slayer herself. He was fairly sure that he had also smelled Angelus on her, although he hadn’t mentioned that to Dru.
He guided the demon shell through the streets, to the area where the Slayer’s scent was the strongest, and settled in to wait. It was a few hours later, and he was growing restless when she finally came back along this way, looking bored. He saw the moment that she realized all was not as it should have been, as she tensed and looked around herself, drawing a stake and walking forward slowly, obviously ready for trouble.
“I know you’re there, so why don’t you come out and make this quick and easy for both of us? I’ve got a history test tomorrow, so I really need a good night’s sleep, not that you’d care about that.”
Spike shifted, anticipation getting the better of him, even as he reminded himself of his goal here tonight. He waited until she was a few steps closer, and then lunged the second she was in range. He was quick, but she was still quicker, stepping to the side and using an elbow to add to his momentum as he headed towards the tree that had been behind her. He only just managed to flip himself around, and used the momentum of his landing to add to his next lunge. This time he managed to scratch her, and get some of her blood under his nails.
“I remember you from that night at the school,” she said, as she faced him again.
“I’m glad to hear it. You should remember the thing that’s going to orchestrate your death,” Spike flexed his fingers, and raised a hand to lick at one of the nails. “You taste so sweet, too. Always a certain zest to a virgin’s blood.”
He grinned at her, and then glanced away to see a little bit of light dawning in the eyes of the precariation. The fist that hit him struck like a sledgehammer, and he hit the ground rolling, so that he was back on his feet before she could line up the stake and stick it through him. He ran, and the precariation followed closely behind. Once he was sure that he had lost her, he turned to the shell of the beast that was with him and held out his hand towards it, so that it could taste her blood.
“This is what you’ll be hunting, once she’s weak enough,” he said to it, fondly, wondering whether it had enough intelligence to remember what he said without a driving presence in its head. The precariation wouldn’t be deadly until tomorrow night, when the spirit of one of the dead entered it, and took command. They had been created by a sorcerer back in the thirteen hundreds, solely for the purpose of revenge. The spirit took over, but the body would be driven to destroy all those that were linked to the blood that it tasted.
The faint sound of scratching reached him. Frowning, he cocked his head to one side, listening. The whimper of an animal in pain was a lot clearer this time. He headed down to the end of the alleyway that he had stopped in, and lifted the lid of the dumpster, to find a half-grown mongrel in it. It wasn’t much, but Dru was partial to dog’s blood. It would do for now.
He turned, with the pathetic, shaking animal under one arm, to find the precariation right behind him, “Sure move quietly for a big bugger, don’t you?” he said to it, as he sidestepped it and lifted up the nearest manhole cover to head underground.
If he hadn’t been watching, then he wouldn’t have though that it had followed him down into the sewers, with how silently it landed. He was impressed with this thing. It would be fascinating to see what it could manage tomorrow night.
When Buffy woke up the next morning she simply lay in bed for a few minutes, listening to the familiar, comforting sound of her mom moving around downstairs, and thinking about her life and her friends. She hadn’t slept well last night, what with that thing that had ran after that vampire flitting through her dreams, as threatening as anything else that she had faced.
When she thought about it she got a feeling in the pit of her stomach like it was going to be bad news. That feeling was one she had learned to trust since being called. A woman’s intuition was good, and a Slayer’s intuition was doubly so. There were times when it had saved her life.
Just as she began to think about getting up her mom came into the room, looking as bright as she always did in the mornings, “Are you alright, honey? I came in the check you three times last night. You were talking in you sleep, tossing and turning. I tried to wake you, but you were dead to the world.”
Buffy frowned, “What was I saying?”
“Something about vampires, I think.”
Buffy forced a laugh, “No more late night movies for me.”
“Not if they’re going to do that to you. Come on, you don’t want to be late today, with the Halloween program after school.”
“No, it’s be a tragedy to be banned from it,” Buffy muttered, sarcastically.
“What was that, honey?” her mom said, turning away from opening the curtains.
“There are waffles in the kitchen, and if you’re quick then I can drop you off before I head to the gallery.”
“Sounds good,” once she could get the research started on this latest threat, then maybe she would feel a little better. She knew how fiercely the vampire that she had encountered last night fought, and she hadn’t been expecting it to run, which meant that his attack had been more than just another attempt on her life.
She got out of bed, and grabbed the first change of clothing that she touched, as her mom left her to get dressed. She tugged on a pair of blue jeans and a lose-fitting white top, and dragged her brush through her hair as she headed down the stairs with her backpack over one shoulder. She tossed the brush into her bag, grabbed a waffle that already had maple syrup poured over it, and leaned against the counter as she ate. Four was enough to set her on her feet for the day. She was just finishing up her last one, when her mom came back into the kitchen.
“You’re ready, then?” she asked.
“Yep. Ready and itching to go.”
“I’ll just buy something.”
“So, you’re not going to be eating enough junk tonight, you have to have it for lunch as well.”
Buffy shrugged, “I have a good metabolism.”
“That’s true. Come on then, honey.”
Buffy grabbed her bag, and they headed out to the car. As she settled in the passenger seat, and her mom started the car she glanced at her, “You were coming back here after school to get ready for the night, weren’t you?”
“Yeah. Willow’s coming over too. We were going to raid your closet for that leather vest of yours, with the thonging up the sides. She got the neatest leather skirt, so we were thinking ‘rock chick’. Xander was going to come by around five, and we were going to walk over to the school together, if that’s alright.”
“Sure. I’ll be working late tonight, so I probably won’t be back until after you’re done with the school program, but if you wanted to come by the gallery afterward you’re finished then we can go out for dinner. I’ll be spending the day unpacking boxes and cataloguing items, so I’ll probably be due for a break by then.”
She had originally been planning on asking if she could go to Willow’s afterwards, and spend the night there, but it wasn’t often that her mom made an offer like this, and she couldn’t remember the last time that they had just talked, just the two of them. It seemed that ever since Buffy had called as the Slayer she’d had to make excuses or spin stories, or just do what she had to. With no slayage scheduled for Halloween, then it would be a perfect opportunity to just relax.
“Thanks,” Buffy shot her a grin, as she pulled up outside the school, “that sounds great.”
Grabbing her bag she swung out of the car.
“See you, honey. Have a good day,” Joyce said to her back.
Buffy looked over her shoulder, “I will, thanks.”
As she got to the library she was surprised to find Xander already there, as well as Rupert. Xander turned towards the door as she came in, and she could see what Willow meant when she said that he looked exhausted. He and Rupert were sharing a table, and he was leaning back, almost as though he didn’t want to be near him. Things were less strained between the pair of them since that night when she had almost become snake food, but they were still tense. She figured that with the time they were spending together though, things could only get better. She didn’t need two of her best friends at odds with one another.
“Good morning, Buffy. How was patrol last night?” For a second his smile looked strained, and then it seemed to become more natural.
“A couple of newborns out at Shady Acres, and I have no idea what’s going to stop their type from trying to nibble necks tonight, then I ran into a vampire and this big, ugly demon thing when I was just about home. It was one of the ones that got away on teacher-parent night. White-blond hair and he had an accent that reminded me of yours.”
“And the demon, Buffy?” he prompted, after a few moments.
“Big and ugly, like I just said. I didn’t see much of it, but it looked like it was covered in hundreds of spikes. Red spikes, solid black beasty. Very solid, did what the vampire said, ran when he ran. It didn’t even try and tag me, but I get a real bad feeling when I think about it.”
He nodded, “Can you tell me anything else about it?”
“Taller than you by a couple of heads, easy. I didn’t see many details, with how fast they ran, sorry. All that the vamp did was scratch me, then he turned and bolted. Oh, and threatened me. Said that it was good that I remembered him, because I should remember the thing that was going to kill me. Or something like that, anyway. Nothing outside the run of the mill threats, you know?”
“I hope that will be enough to go on. Sometimes I do wish you would take closer notice when you encounter something new, though.”
“Hey, give her a break, yeah? I’m sure she did the best she could,” Xander spoke up, and Rupert shot him a look that was too quick for her to read.
At the moment Willow came in, panting, “Hey, sorry I’m late. What did I miss?”
Xander stood, “We’ll catch you up on the way to class.”
“Sure. I guess.”
Buffy glanced towards Rupert.
“That’s fine,” he said, “Just check back after class, before you head home. I may have something for you by then.”
“Sounds good,” Buffy followed Xander, who had made a quick exit, out the door with Willow beside her.
Rupert watched them go, and only then, only for a moment did he allow himself to feel the full weight of the two worlds that he was trying to keep separate, the two lives, his own and Xander’s, that he was trying to keep sane. Only the Gods knew how exhausting it was, and how heavily it was weighing on him.
Xander didn’t deserve any of this, but he was stuck with it, and Buffy didn’t deserve a despicable thing like him as a Watcher, but he was the only one that could be. He didn’t like himself, but he found that he was incapable of feeling any more guilt over it, either. Maybe if he could have, then he would have handled this better.
He’d done his years of mourning for his life, though. He just didn’t have the energy to do it again, for the sake of someone else. Life was what it was. The best thing that he could do was try to get them through it relatively intact.
The building was cold, but Spike didn’t notice that. He circled his new pet beast, casting a hand towards it with a savage grin on his face. Night had fallen half an hour ago, which was what he had been waiting for. He hadn’t been going to risk calling a mind to this body last night, not in such a confined space, nor had he wanted it hunting until the Slayer was off her guard.
He could feel Drusilla vibrating with coiled energy, almost back to her old self with the veil between the Ghost Roads and here weakened for the night.
“Come,” Spike’s voice was loud, clear and powerful, “Come, darkness, give thought and mind and will to your child. Come, take root in this form, give it the power it needs. Come, I implore you, come.”
This was the forth time he had repeated the chant, and this time he felt the change in the beast. He watched as the eyes changed from pitiless black balls, to a human-looking, intelligent brown. The voice, when it spoke, was strangely normal. There was a slight accent, and it was a little rough, but he was surprised that such a set of vocal chords as this body must have could produce such a normal sound.
“Samhain, is it? Ah, yes, I can feel it in the air.”
Spike’s smile softened a little, but was no less savage as he nodded to the beast, “Indeed. We’re going to break fundamental rule of Halloween, you and I. Got a name, my friend?”
It was strange to see the gaze of such a savage-look thing becoming distant, “They used to call Law. Lawrence. I have my own score to settle with one of your Slayer’s circle, so don’t you dare get in my way.”
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” Spike said, “Ah, just for the record, what one?”
“Her Watcher. He and I have history.”
“Brilliant,” Spike said, finally beginning to feel excited about this. He would watch her friends fall one by one, and then when she couldn’t stand life any longer he would drain her dry.
“Beautiful,” Drusilla finally left the doorway and came closer, “he glows like a black flame.”
“Of course he does, luv. For your eyes alone,” he stared at her for a moment, and then looked back at the demonic body, “Well, shall we do this? There’s a whole night out there that’s waiting for us to slice it open.”
The beast’s lips drew back into a feral grin, and Spike was glad that this thing was on his side.
“Coming, Dru?” he asked, holding his hand out to her.
“Ooo,” she squealed like a child, and took his hand, “yes, yes, yes.”
Rupert was walking down the street near where his home was, trying to relax a little. Usually he would go out and play chicken with his bike and a few cars when he felt like this, but with a potential new threat in town he was going to stay where he could easily be reached. He hadn’t yet found a clue to this new things identity, but he had time. If something was going to happen, then it wouldn’t be tonight.
The children had gone on their way with his blessing, and he was going home to do some more reading, and see if he couldn’t track down a lead in one of the books that he kept there.
Children in bright costumes and plastic masks ran from door to door in groups of anywhere between two to seven or eight, always with parents tagging along, and older children who hadn’t bothered to dress up looked like they were caught up in the mood of the night. He could see a couple of troublemakers out and about, too, but they were easily enough avoided, and they weren’t his problem.
Rupert let himself into the house and grabbed a copy of Meral’s Field Guide, and headed back out to the front of the place, flicking on the porch light so that he could sit and watch the people while he worked. He liked watching the world pass, and seeing people go about their normal lives.
The night got later, and eventually the people along the street began to disperse, heading back home or to some other destination that he would never know about. He always took comfort from Halloween, the one night when people were safe to roam the streets. Not even Ethan, a child of chaos, would break that tradition.
He was about to head inside, when he heard a sound from the end of the street. It sounded like something that was a lot bigger than a child. His hand went to his side, and he felt the reassuring bulge in his pocket, that was his knife. Just because tonight was meant to be peaceful, that didn’t mean that he was going anywhere without it. He was completely prepared to laugh this off when he found nothing more than a dog, of course.
But he had to check to know. Closing his book and setting it aside he stood.
He was halfway down to the corner when some instinct told him to turn around, and he found a demon less than a foot behind him, cutting him off from the house. His knife was in his hand and extended without him being conscious of drawing it, and he took a couple of steps, backing away so that he could fight on his own terms. At the sound of a menacing laugh from behind him, he stopped.
Face to face with this beast, he could recognize what it was in a heartbeat. He wasn’t surprised Buffy hadn’t been able to describe it better. There weren’t that many distinctive features on it.
“I recognize that knife of yours,” it said in a voice that was surprisingly human and worryingly recognizable, “after all you did use it to slit my throat. I trusted you, and it was the last thing that I ever saw.”
“I’m sorry,” he said, forcing himself to meet the brown eyes that were set in that twisted face, and wishing that he meant the words. He had lost some of that prized humanity of his when he had done what he had all those years ago.
“I don’t care whether you pretend to be sorry or not. I’m here to return the favour.”
The precariation, with Lawrence’s mind curled its massive hands into fists, and the bladelike protrusions there extended further. Rupert felt every single muscle in his body tensing, ready to move the second that he needed to.
When it moved it was lightning fast, almost as fast as Ethan. He avoided the first swipe and the second, nicked its hand taking the tip off one its blades on the third, and then it spun and a tail that it had kept coiled behind its back caught his side, throwing him to the ground. It went for him, and he planted the blade in its left hand, straight up through the palm. Its fingers curled down and around the handle, and when it pulled its hand back the knife was ripped out of his grasp.
It planted one of those massive feet on his chest, as it grabbed the handle of his knife and tore it free and threw it away into the darkness. He watched with a sinking feeling in the pit of his chest, but didn’t have time to contemplate it, as it went for him again. He threw his arm up to protect his throat, and one of the thorn-blades cut so deeply into his arm that it instantly went numb.
All of those spells that might have saved him were inaccessible through a white sheen of fear. Facing Ethan, or a vampire, or some other demon was nothing like facing something that was trying to kill him specifically. He could hear sounds, running footsteps, and he couldn’t raise his injured left arm to stop the blow this time, as it tore into the side of his throat.
He had enough presence of mind to try and hold the wound closed as warmth gushed out through his fingers, and the weight of the beast was thrown from him.
“Hold that wound, while I deal with this!” he heard a voice snapping, and it sounded like it was coming from miles away.
His hand was moved, and another smaller one was there, holding the wound with far more pressure than he could have managed. The world was grey, but he knew that he had to hold onto it. It was so hard, though, like trying to hold onto a handful of sand while standing in the waves.
“You have to do something,” said a frantic voice from right beside him.
“I know. You just keep the pressure on that.”
Then he felt something cool being held to his lips, “Come on, open your mouth you stubborn bastard. Open your mouth and swallow. I know you. You’re too determined to give up like this.”
It was hard, but he finally managed to send the command to his mouth, and a cool, bittersweet, rich flavour flooded his mouth. For a moment he though that he was going to drown, that he would choke with it in his throat, then he swallowed.
The hand was removed from his neck as the world swum out of focus and slowly went black.