The final chapter to this arc of vampire (and bandit) hunting. Khy-kala faces the vampire in its lair and Jilene has fallen to the blood curse. What will happen next? Read on!
In the excerpt below, Melody tries to convince her host to use some of her power to defeat the vampire, but as with anything else offered by a demon, there will be a price. A price Khy-kala knows all too well….
Within the elf’s soul, Melody was twisting like a panicked snake in an eagle’s grasp, the demon screaming for Khy-kala’s attention, but the elf refused to heed her.
Is this what you want? Melody demanded, her cries finally breaking through the pained fog filling her host’s thoughts. To die here, now? In this filthy, forgotten wreckage?
“Your concern,” Khy-kala rasped as she pulled herself closer to her sword, “touches me. But if I die, you’ll get what you wanted.” She coughed blood again, laughing cruelly. “Freedom.”
Are you willing to sacrifice your life for that act of spite, elf? To leave so much undone, your redemption unattained? Is that worth my suffering at this moment?
“Anything is worth that.” Her sword was just out of reach and she stretched out a trembling, desperate hand towards it, claws scratching over the church’s floor.
And the mayfly? The little mite that you wrapped your arms around like a newfound pet? Did you not make a promise to her, Khy-kala? Would you break it and let the curse take hold of her?
The tips of Khy-kala’s claws could just touch the pommel of her sword, but she couldn’t grip it. “What…” she panted. Only a few centimeters more… for what good it would do. “What would you have me do?”
The answer, when it came, was no surprise. You know what I would have you do, little rabbit. Take part of me. Enough to live. Continue your struggle to keep me caged for one more day. Or let it all end here. Everything you hope to accomplish and atone for, the promise you made to that doe-eyed bovine. Sacrifice all of that and more out of spite. Lose everything now… or merely risk a greater battle in the future.
Melody reached out to Khy-kala, a delicate, feminine hand arising from black water. Take what you need, Khy-kala, the demon entreated. And only what you need, if it means that you will live. Take this power and show the Empty creature what it truly means to face an elven huntress.
It wasn’t from kindness that Melody made this offer. Every pact bartered with the creature would make it easier for the demon to claw its way out of its fleshy prison. Every concession would damn her a little more. Even this gift would weaken the hinges of Melody’s cage…
…but she could see the faces of the men and women of Janth’s Bend. They’d sent for her. Trusted her. They kept knowledge and memory of her people alive in a place no one would imagine it. It wasn’t just them, either. Curlin. Letha… even Kevac. Her companions, who’s lives she’d saved many times and had saved hers. They needed her, too.
Jilene’s face rose to the forefront of the elf’s thoughts. The sound of her voice, the tremble in it when she stuttered and started babbling adorably. The scent of her, so close to Khy-kala and the way her frightened murmurs faded away when the elf pressed closer to her… the blood Khy-kala had found her sitting in, the horror and shame in her eyes…
The indescribably perfect hand beckoned her gently, almost submissively. Take what you need, Melody’s words were a soft, loving symphony. Live. Be the predator I know you are and kill this thing. For yourself and for the little mite and the promise you made.