Monday, February 16, 2015

Day Eight-Twenty-One: Let The Plan Begin

Daena didn’t like Julius’s plan. It pretty much stank. She told him so often, and loudly.

We don’t have much choice, he insisted, voice calm but grim in Daena’s head. We can’t let them leave this district. As far as I can tell they’ve only spread to the outskirts of Foregone, which is a miracle and a blessing. If they go any further…

… then the Imperium is in deep trouble, Daena finished for him. I’m aware. But your plan for wiping them out… it’s unacceptable. These people are innocent!

Do you have a better idea? Julius asked, his tone tinged with impatience - and hope.

Well… no, Daena admitted. But if I just keep running around the city, perhaps I can keep their attention long enough for someone to come along and solve this problem…

Julius scoffed, though politely. As politely as scoffing can be. We can’t just hope a fix will stumble onto Foregone. Either the werewolves will catch you, or they’ll get bored of chasing you and move on to something else. They’re basically animals, but they’re not that stupid. We need to take this chance while we have it.

Sighing, Daena veered into the city gates for a fourth time, ducking low as a werewolf leaped over her head. A second werewolf, jumping down from atop an overturned cart, almost managed to catch her - save for the fact that Daena instinctively planted one whipping leg into its gut. The werewolf went flying, crashing into a nearby building. Daena winced at the crunch of masonry, wondering if she’d killed the creature, but she didn’t turn around to check.

The pack of werewolves continued to dog her tail. She didn’t want to look at them, either. They numbered over a thousand by now, and looking at them - even a fraction of them - might fill Daena with enough dread to simply flee the area and not look back. That wouldn’t help anyone.

You might die, you know, Daena pointed out. Wherever you are in there. Aren’t you afraid of that?

Julius chuckled morosely. I’ve been riding in the fur of an enormous she-wolf for almost two years. It may even have been longer by this point. Death doesn’t seem like the worst alternative at this point.

Struggling for another argument, Daena thought back to the werewolf invasion of her former home. Dragomir - My gods, it has been a long time since I last saw that man - had solved that predicament by infusing the original host, Antonia, with every little bit of lycanthropy lingering in the bodies of the disease’s victims. Daena wondered if she could accomplish something similar…

… but it seemed unlikely. For one thing, there was no magical pit they could use to put the werewolves to sleep. For another, the original host was still a werewolf, probably somewhere in the pack at Daena’s heels, and she would be no help.

I don’t want to kill so many people, Daena thought, almost pleading. It’s not right.

But it’s the only method we have, Julian said. Please, Queen Daena. It’s our only option.

Biting her lip hard enough that it bled, Daena turned abruptly, zigzagging through the streets with a command over her legs that she hadn’t thought possible. She vaulted over carts, slid beneath stalls, blasted through emptied houses, and kicked werewolves aside, all the time making for what she thought was the closest of Foregone’s three exits. It took only two minutes of frantic action before she was speeding down a wide thoroughfare towards an iron-wrought portcullis of considerable size, and beyond it the pristine white of the countryside.

I can’t see from here, Julius admitted, but I assume you’re near one of the gates. The portcullis is controlled from a chain system inside the walls - 

Gritting her teeth, Daena ignored Julius. She knew there was no way she could finesse her legs into climbing the stairs up to the control centre for the portcullis, and she knew she didn’t need to bother with that much anyway. Exerting as much control as she could manage, Daena leaped into the air as she neared the underside of the portcullis, willing her body to handle all the tough work. Her legs obliged, spinning her up and under the portcullis’s raised, spiked tips -

- and snaking through holes in the heavy gate. But her legs refused to stop moving, as always, and as Daena’s front half flailed madly in midair her constant, vicious kicks wrenched the portcullis so violently downward that the chains holding it aloft snapped. Badly dented, the portcullis dropped into the snow with a massive thud, and Daena just barely jumped away before the impact broke her ankles.

I don’t think that should have worked at all, Daena thought to herself, though Julius chuckled all the same. My physics teacher tended to make things up on the fly, but that still should never have worked.

Breathing hard, Daena peeked over her shoulder as she sped away from Foregone, watching the werewolves howl at her through the gaps in the portcullis. As a combined force they could have lifted it, no doubt, but they didn’t seem to have the smarts - or the space - to manage the task. A few had managed to slip beneath the portcullis before it fell, and one was impaled beneath the spikes, but the rest were neatly contained. 

That is, until they headed to the other two exits.

One down, Julius said. You may want to get the torch after you bring down the second gate. Just a suggestion. 

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