- and so did Antonia, in her wolfish way, as Julius sank his fangs into her flesh.
The great werewolf reared back in mid-pounce, more in surprise than pain, and her claws darted up to the back of her neck, frantically searching for the source of the bite. Julius skittered away from her probing grasp with only a second to spare, then gave Antonia another vicious bite for good measure. The werewolf howled again -
- and this time, her claws found Julius. He sighed as he was hefted into the air, not even bothering to try and anchor himself to Antonia. If nothing else, this would give Daena the few seconds she needed to free herself, and, hopefully, escape.
But Antonia didn’t crush Julius as he’d predicted. Instead, swinging her arm forward, she hurled the tarantula down the alleyway… and right onto Daena.
As he was spinning through the air, observing Daena’s horrified face as she realized what was hurtling towards her, Julius felt time slow just enough to get his bearings. He only had a split second with which to act, meaning he had time for, essentially, a single action. If he chose poorly, he might still suffer the horrifying, squelching slap that he’d feared from Antonia, only now it would come from Daena. One action, and no more.
Julius chose. As he closed in on Daena, he used his magical instincts - not his magic, that was gone, but his ability to reach out and touch magic - to draw power out of Daena. Everyone in the world had at least a little bit of magic, and Julius found just enough in the screaming queen to reach out and connect with her. It was not a sensation he enjoyed, stealing her magic, but it needed to be done.
The spider on your leg is me, he immediately assured her as he landed, scrabbling to climb Daena’s pants. It’s me it’s me it’s me, please don’t kill me, Daena, please.
Her scream cut short, Daena’s hand was already up in a sweeping motion… but it didn’t sweep. Instead she looked down at Julius in fascination, her fear tempered by curiosity for just long enough to save Julius’s life. He repeated the message, staring up at Daena imploringly, trying to appear as cute as he possible could. Being a spider, though, Julius knew she probably didn’t think he was too cute.
“Oh,” Daena replied, one eye twitching. “Oh.”
Their little moment didn’t last long. Antonia snarled deeply, dropping onto all fours and bunching her body up so she could move as freely as possible in the narrow alley. one clawed hand kept slinking up to her neck, though, and Julius assumed that the venom in his fangs was doing its work to irritate her.
Move, Julius insisted, scuttling up Daena’s leg for greater purchase. Move move move.
Daena obeyed. Forcing her injured leg to work, gritting her teeth all the while, Daena stumbled to her feet and down the alley, wading through surprisingly deep snow. Antonia made a leap for the queen, but the werewolf was just a bit too slow - or Daena too fast - and Daena’s boot caught her attacker in the jaw. Antonia flew back several feet and landed in snow, but was back on her feet in short order, angrier than ever.
“I… haven’t lost the reflexes… entirely… ow…” Daena swallowed, blinking back a tear. “Where… where do we go… now…?”
Clinging to Daena’s coat like a baby monkey, Julius buried his eyes in the fabric. I have no idea. You just have to run for now. We’ll figure the rest -
That was all Julius managed. The remainder was drowned out by Antonia’s roaring howl. Springing to her feet again, the werewolf lunged deeper into the alley, bouncing into the air in a tucked spin that looked almost calculated. A furry projectile of incredible speed, she came hurtling down towards Daena, landed in front of the surprised queen -
- and punched her in the face, close-fisted.
Rocked backward, Daena went flying. She hit the ground, bounced, and landed, unconscious, several feet away from the alley’s exit. Julius flew with her, smacking Daena in the cheek as he landed in the snow beside her left pigtail. The world wobbled badly, but Julius had the wherewithal to climb onto Daena’s shoulder and stare at Antonia.
That’s… she looks like a boxer, Julius thought, watching the werewolf pull back her clenched hand, an expression of almost comical confusion in her eyes. Was she one before? I honestly can’t… well, I suppose it hardly matters, at this point.
The confusion didn’t last for long. Antonia’s upright posture waned, replaced by the usual, hunched, bestial slouch she’d adopted years ago. The werewolf, wiping blood from its muzzle, emerged from the alley and loomed over Daena, a fuzzy, spectral vision of impending disaster.
Julius buried his eyes again. Will you get it over with, already?
“Hey," a familiar voice said, from several feet away. "Long time no see. You look like ass, old girl.”
Oh, for pity’s sake, Julius thought, leaving his eyes covered. I’ll just stay like this until someone decides that it’s time for me to die, then.