Friday, December 21, 2012

Wicked & Wonderful: Chapter 19 - Fight!

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His blood ran hot through her body like molten lava, hot and carving new lines into her inner landscape. She felt it fill the fissures in her broken wing, the cracked ribs. It pumped into her muscles and washed away the fatigue, the ache.

Tamus raged against her, but every time he tore through flesh, it healed in a curtain of his own blood. “Get off me! Get off me, you bitch!” He grabbed her by the waist and pushed, but she dug her hands into him, slipping to the knuckle between his ribs. She curled her fingers around each long, slender bone, mouth still firmly attached to his jugular—ah, the joy of fangs—and when he pushed, she pulled and the minotaur fell to his knees in a massive thud in a roar of pain.

She pulled back from him, a bright red stream down her chin. “You were warned.” She wiped at the mess with the back of one hand. “Tell me why I should not just kill you now.”

Tamus pressed a hand against the gaping wound, his breath coming fast and furious. “You’re a crazy bitch.”

Madeleine licked her hand in one long, sultry lap of her tongue. She could feel it, that two step distance away from being blood drunk. Her legs threatened to give way beneath her, and she pled with them silently to stay their course. She could not take Tamus right now, as much as he deserved to die, despite the fact that the surface damage she had done was already healing beneath his massive hand. She could not take him because it required more coordination than she had in her at the moment.

She staggered backwards, away from her enemy, and tried to clear her head. There was no doubt that she wanted the minotaur dead, preferably rendered into as many tiny pieces as she could scatter across the little canyon they were in. But he was already healing, the anti-coagulant in her bite spewing from the wicked mouth she had left behind in a foamy cloud. Soon enough, he would strike back, and she needed to be ready for it.

But then there was the matter of Milo. The thought of him pulled her eyes away from Tamus and the slight blur of healing magick he was casting to the prone body of the mage yet unmoving on the desert floor. She blinked depthless black eyes and saw faint, red lines emanating from him. There was still a pulse, but it was thready, failing.

She wanted to cry, but the tears would not come. Ridiculous that it had ended like this. All he had wanted was to date her, take her out for a good time. Do nice, normal human things. Not this, not all this chaos and madness. To think his life had been endangered because someone from her past—damn you, Patrick—had been unable to deal with the chance that she could be happy. The tears she could not shed burned inside her, like droplets of embers falling into a stomach full of emotional lighter fluid. They hit, and anger flared its ugly, blue-white head.

She smiled, but there was no happiness in it. And she was all right with that. Anger was better than sadness in her book, anyway. By a long shot. She knew what to do with anger, how to focus it, how to use it as a weapon, and she could push the rest away in denial, into little boxes deep in the darkness of her head. It empowered her, that rage, and she felt the threat of blood drunk awkwardness dissipate like steam, leaving her all amped up and ready for a fight.

“You killed him for nothing,” she seethed, stalking back toward Tamus. He looked up, just as she swiped at him, one hand carving a giant arc in the space before his face. Her fingernails had extended, thickened, sharpened, as was part of her more primal nature. He leaned back and pushed at her with one hand, but her nails grazed his face, drawing pretty red lines across his muzzle, before she flew backwards from his blow.

“He died because of you!” The minotaur rose to his feet and stomped toward her. “You could have walked away. You could have done what was right…”

“Right?!” she screamed. Her wings fluttered, and the air picked up around her with every wave of feathers. The dust danced in dust devils before her, and the smaller rocks rolled past her feet. She was not calling them, just moving them forward. Pure science. Some things should be above that, she guessed, beyond that, especially if they were supers. But the gusts kept coming, the dirt and rock moving ever faster against Tamus.

“I am tired of arguing with you about this!!” She stamped her foot, and the ground trembled. “There’s nothing to argue about! He was not yours to toy with! He was not even mine! And now he never can be! Now I never even get that option!” Her wings shifted, raising her off the ground in a slow ascent. “Goddammit, I really liked this one, Tamus! I really liked him!!”

She flew at him, all fangs and fury, but he was ready for her. His two great hands grabbed her in mid-flight, snatching her from the air, and then he slammed her wings first into the ground, knocking the wind out of her. He picked her up and slammed her down again. “I do not care!! He is human, nothing. The span of his life but a grain in ours. Yet you continue to choose them over us! You continue to pretend you are one of them, deny your place and then like some mewling baby, you whine and complain about how your ‘human’ life is not working out?!”

He grabbed her hair in one big handful and dragged her up to his face. “I tell him time and again that if you want so badly to be human that we should help you out with that. If you were still human, you would be dead right now, would not you?” He shook her by her head. “Would not you!?”

She slashed at his arm, and while she found herself showered with his blood, he did not relent his forcible beating. The edges of her sight grew fuzzy with each impact, her skull bouncing off the ground, threatening to snap her neck. She screamed at him, and tore at his chest with her claws, until almost the entire front of her was covered in steamy red blood. He lifted her skyward and just as he began to drop her again, she heard something.

Faintly, from the distance, came, “Madeleine…”

“Wait!” she yelled at Tamus, who, startled by her response, froze, leaving her to dangle from his hands in mid-air. Could it be? “Did you hear that?”

“What?” The minotaur cocked his head. “I do not hear anything. Wait…that?”

What a sight they must have been, mid-fight, all bloodied and broken, horns and wings tangled, suddenly stilled by the breath, the whisper of her name. Still faint, ever distant, but unmistakably her name falling from a man’s lips…

“Milo?” She pushed at Tamus, and he dropped her to the ground. She turned to where he had lain, and sure enough, his body moved, one arm outstretched in her general direction, head up with his chin in the dust.

“Milo!” She started toward him, but she was jerked back, feet off the ground. She looked over her shoulder and saw the minotaur behind her, his hands on her wings and a wicked grin on his face. “…”

“There are few things worse than death,” he growled, his grip tightening against the feathered arc in his hands. “But I think dying trying to get to someone you love ranks up there, do not you?” In one fell swoop, he snapped both of her wings and forced her to the ground. She screamed as he stomped onto the backs of her knees. A nasty crushing sound echoed in her ears as bone shattered under his hoof.

The pain was excruciating, paralyzing her where she lay. Milo! Her fingers reached for him, digging lines in the dirt, but she was not getting any closer. Her wings labored arduously above her, but the extent of the agony twisted her stomach, and she fought the urge to vomit where she lay. She shuddered, and they dropped in a feathery mass around her.

She was still healing from all the blood she had taken from the minotaur, faster than she usually did, albeit slower than he was beating the shit out of her, but her wings were already on the mend when he kicked her and broke three ribs on her left side. Her knees were knitting the bone and cartilage back in place as he grabbed her hair and slammed her face into the dirt. If she could get him to just stop, to get him to quit turning parts of her into so much pulp, then she could heal.

Then she could save Milo.

But right now, she really, really needed to save herself.

Madeleine pushed away the pain from another cloven blow into her torso, and with her back arched, forced her wings away. It sucked. It hurt like a motherfucker, but it was one less thing for him to use against her.


She dropped her guard and stole a look at the mage. Tamus grabbed her by the wrist and flipped her onto her back, knocking the wind out of her again. She was getting really tired of that. Milo, hold on, I’m coming. I’ll save you.

She heard Milo chuckled, light, slightly pained, but a chuckle nonetheless. It was encouraging, empowering, and exactly what she needed. She wrapped her hands around the minotaur’s ankle and twisted. It was not enough to drop him to the ground, but it got him to one knee.

She kicked up with one healed leg and caught him in that sweet spot right behind every minotaur’s ear. Something about balance, he had once told her all those years ago on a boring day in court, between the ivory horns on his head and the tough bone of his jaw line, had given him a soft space of skin and tissue just behind his ears. And when the flat of the top of her foot made impact, he roared, tumbling backwards, one hand clutching his ear.

His eyes glowed red above his muzzle, and with a primal rage, he pawed at the ground and began his charge. The earth vibrated beneath the vampire. He was not just going to hit her, he was going to plow through her, and she had burned so much blood healing—had that been part of his plan?—that she had no more strength to move. At least not fast enough to get out of his barreling forward momentum. This was going to hurt.

She stole one last look at…wait, where the hell was Milo? She turned her head to the right, and just as the sound of Tamus’ feet hitting the ground suddenly stopped (yet neither his roaring nor the humming underground did not, oddly enough), Madeleine caught sight of Milo’s boots. That led to a pair of legs, his torso, and his hands outstretched before him.

Oh. He looked exhausted, pale as hell and about ready to barf whatever might possibly be left in his stomach. But he was standing and very much alive.


“You looked like you could use some help.” He kept his eyes diverted, but sweat was beading on his bald head from the effort, and when she looked behind her, she understood why. The minotaur, all seven feet of him, stood semi-frozen in a semi-translucent gob of air. Only semi-frozen, given that he was tossing his head and horns above the bonding substance and his cloven feet kicked to and fro below.

It might have been funny, if the edges of her vision had not begun to fade off into the darkness. “Milo?” she whispered, but he did not hear her. She heard him talking, something forceful, to the point, but the words escaped her as the darkness swallowed her whole.

Continue: 20

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