Hell's Gate

"Demetri," Felix's voice wavered, faltering almost before the thought started. "We need to get out of here." His awareness flickered and he coughed raggedly. He had no strength to help his savior as Demetri lugged him through the main entrance and into the icy chill of midnight-. The next moment, the soggy damp of mud against his back and the cling of his shirt against the leaking wound in his shoulder startled him back to awareness. He must have blacked out at some point during the move from the courtyard to their current position.

"Damn you, stay with me." Demetri slapped his face several times in an effort to force Felix to focus. The wounds: one in his shoulder and another in his left leg above the knee were draining his strength. He didn't need to be a licensed physician to realize that the shaft protruding from that shoulder wound was tainted with slow-acting poison.

"The others—they-," He grimaced as hot knives raced down his back and across his chest on the left side. "We-." His gaze lifted then as the other risked a peek over the edge of the ridge at the situation across the clearing.

"Figlio di puttana!" The cursing barely cracked a credible stage whisper. "Marcus, è meglio che ci sia un registro di dove ti trovi. Ora non è il momento di nascondersi." He shook his head. "The others will just have to manage. We are outnumbered."

"Demetri," Felix reached a shaking hand over toward the dark, grimy, blood stain barely visible in the pale of winter moon on his shirt midway down his side. "You-you're injured too." His gaze studied the one who seemed to currently have unlimited strength. It had been enough to get them out of the Volterra proper but if their survival was in danger before it would surely be in jeopardy now with the injury to Demetri.

"I'm fine, it's superficial." He lied. With each movement, fractured bones in his ribcage shifted creating knives of hot, angry pain. He forced the brutal discomfort into a box deep in his mind and padlocked it away. There wasn't time for both of them to be injured. Right now Felix's injuries were far worse than his own. Another quick glance over the ridgeline at the now quiet retaining wall and courtyard that led into the city of Volterra left a concrete knot in the pit of his stomach. The invading force had disappeared into the bowels of the city. He could easily sense their presence. A fiery spike of rage pierced his spine.

"B-both of us—this way—we won't make it -." Felix's awareness flickered briefly as Demetri used shreds from his shirt to field dress the leg wound. The makeshift bandage left his leg throbbing as it forced the protruding bone back beneath the flap of torn skin. "Leave me—let this-this poison take me-. Go! Get away f-from here while you can. G-Get help."

Demetri shook his head, "No, I will not sacrifice you to this fate. You're coming with me. We will get out of here or we will both perish in the effort." He set his jaw and the resolve in his tone was hopefully enough to squelch any further argument from Felix.

"But how? Where?" The questions were valid even if they came at a time when the answers weren't so easy to come by. He could sense Demetri's unease and also his rage at the idea that another group had managed to overtake the city of Volterra. His muscles tensed in pain filled spasms as the poison slowly overtook him. Again his awareness flickered as he awaited some sort of response.

"Florence," Demetri pulled Felix to his feet and shouldered most of his weight. "From there, we can get help without being noticed." He let his own gifts radiate outward, shadowing their presence as they moved over the terrain in the direction of the next stop. The last thing he wanted was to be followed by the invading force. If he could get them out of easy stalking range and then out of the country temporarily, they might have a chance. He had already considered the options. He was counting on Felix being in no shape to put up much of an argument as far as who or how he acquired further aide. However, he could only hope that Felix was strong enough to withstand the journey, the taint of poison and the injuries for long enough to allow them to reach someone who had the medical knowledge to help them.

"Felix," He took the knife from the leather sheath at his ankle and punctured the big artery in the neck of the freshly slain deer. Gently, he knelt down next to where he had settled Felix in a dry patch beneath the bows of a sturdy Aleppo Pine. It was one of the only stops he would risk on this journey. It was necessary with both of them needing the boost that fresh sustenance could provide. He knew well enough that this wasn't the preferred meal of his counterpart but at this point, they didn't have much of a choice. Carefully, he shifted the opened neck of the deer so that the smell of blood would entice him to feed.

He shook his head. The acrid scent of blood sent a wave of acute nausea rolling over him. He turned away. "No." His voice faded as the sensation of hot water filling the back of his throat set him to coughing briefly. He was too ill from the taint and weak from his wounds to really fight with Demetri about feeding. Deep down, he knew he needed to replenish his system. The thought of taking sustenance from anything other than the race of humans was, at this moment, enough to make him vomit.

"Felix, don't make me force you," Demetri knew that his counterpart was ill and in pain. He knew that his strength was very quickly fading and had already prepared for the possibility that Felix wouldn't remain alert the entire trip. The injuries weren't existence ending but combined with the taint could quickly send Felix's condition into a deadly downward spiral. "You won't like it if I have to make you feed. And don't think that I won't do so if it means keeping your condition stable through this stage of the journey."

He protested with a weak shake of his head. The more the scent of blood entered his nostrils, the worse the nausea became. His body craved sustenance yet the taint within utterly rejected it. He squeezed his eyes shut. He couldn't make himself feed.

"You'll thank me later." Knowing full-well that Felix wasn't strong enough to really protest or fight against his grip, he forced his mouth into the still warm, blood stained neck of the deer. "Choices are not on the menu this trip." He snarled watching as the blood lust gradually overcame his comrade.

A deep, raspy growl escaped Felix. The crimson of his eyes darkened as the rage pain overtook him. The need to feed and the lust for sustenance overwhelmed the taint. His fangs sank into the neck of the deer. Muscles in his back and shoulders tensed against the pressure of Demetri's grip as the intake of sustenance temporarily bolstered his strength.

"You're welcome." Demetri watched him as he finished and licked the blood from his mouth. It was a mere fraction of the sustenance that would be necessary over the next few days to keep Felix' system from crashing due to the injury and the subsequent taint. This was merely enough to get them both to Florence. Once there, he would figure out how to supply their needs while making arrangements to acquire aid.

Florence Italy

The trip into Florence had been brutal.

He took the key card from the manager. With a cursory survey of their surroundings, Demetri easily determined if any of the patrons posed any sort of threat to their presence. His plan was to be out of the country in two days' time.

"La solita suite, signore. Lascia che ti aiuti a sistemare te e il tuo compagno di viaggio." The manager provided them with a basket of sundries put together just for those that weren't of the human persuasion. He gave a bow and helped Demetri to get Felix into the room and settled on one of the beds before taking down the room service order.

"Grazie. Nessun visitatore e nessuna chiamata. Non siamo qui per occasioni speciali." Demetri moved to close the blinds and shade the windows. He didn't have to return the gesture, he and the manager knew each other well enough.

"Si, si," He finished writing out the order then with a cordial bow exited the room.

Demetri listened for the door to latch and the lock to engage before turning his attention away from the state of the room and back to his injured comrade. Overall, Felix's condition had not deteriorated to the extent that he had expected. He pulled the lone chair from the desk over to the bed and sat down. "This isn't going to be pleasant." He set the basket of sundries down on the night table and took some other meager but appropriate supplies from the deep inner pocket of his robes.

Felix shook his head. "Need to get out of the country—get help." His voice broke mid thought. He knew even in his current severely weakened state that Demetri was well aware of the danger. In no condition to really protest this brief respite and secretly glad to have at least a short break from the constant motion that came with travel, the fact that they were in danger of being found or followed by an unknown hostile force plagued his pain fogged mind.

"Easy," Demetri began with the leg wound. He carefully removed the makeshift, now blood stained and dirty, dressing. "You let me worry with the details." He pulled the cork from the canteen of blood whiskey he'd managed to retrieve from his quarters in Volterra before the hostiles had taken over. Without warning, he poured whiskey into the open wound in Felix's broken leg, allowing the alcohol to flush the taint, dirt and budding infection from the gash.

Despite Felix's normally high pain tolerance, the discomfort caused his body to convulse in agony. A guttural hissing leapt from deep in his chest and his fangs became visible in the dim light of the room. His hand gripped the mattress, balling the bedding into a knot as the pain peaked then gradually faded into a continuous harsh ache that seemed to radiate through his entire body. "F-fu-fuck!" His gaze shifted to Demetri, the anguish like deep ire resonating over his expression as his leg was shifted to minimize the displacement of the fractured bone.

"I warned you this wouldn't be easy." Demetri flushed the wound again before covering it with dense dressing medicated with a thick yellow salve infused with herbs. He secured the bandage with a wrap of tape before using the handles from a broom and mop that had been in the closet as a makeshift splint. Tape secured the splint over the bandages. It wasn't much but it would provide temporary immobilization of the fracture until he could get Felix more intensive treatment. Satisfied with his handy work, he readied the supplies to begin the same process with Felix's injured shoulder.

The metal shaft protruding from the front of Felix's shoulder had to be dealt with. Even though, the triple barbed, double tipped steel arrow couldn't safely be removed here, the shaft could be trimmed away leaving only what was buried beneath the surface. Removal of the shaft would allow for cleansing of the wound and also proper field dressing which would decrease the likelihood of more dire complications. He didn't need a degree in medicine to realize that Felix's condition had started to noticeably deteriorate. Symptoms from the taint that had laced the arrow's barbs were now also noticeable and his pain had become more than he could easily ignore.

Felix tensed as the soiled wrap over and around the shoulder wound was removed. He shook his head and his expression lit with discomfort. The release of pressure against the protruding shaft shifted its overall position, allowing the arrow to dig and cut into already damaged muscles and tissues within the joint. His color grew ashen in response to the growing level of discomfort.

Demetri lifted the vial of oil from its place at his neck and popped the cork. "I know you aren't thrilled but you won't handle this without some pain relief." He dampened his finger with oil. Before his comrade could find his voice enough to argue, he dabbed the oil on Felix's temple. "It'll temporarily ease the pain." He shook his head, "I can manage the task of guard until the oil wears off. This trip isn't over and you need all the rest you can get."

It didn't take long for the properties of the oil to overwhelm Felix. His muscles relaxed as the pain eased and his awareness diminished. He shook his head in a feeble attempt to shake off the tired daze to no avail. A deep hissing sigh escaped him even though the breath was unnecessary. The dose of oil had not been enough to render him completely unconscious and the effect wouldn't last more than a few hours at most.

Using a set of bolt cutters that he had swindled from the manager, Demetri removed the protruding shaft of the arrow. He took his knife, dipped the blade in whiskey and carefully excised the wound, opening it up so that there was ample drainage space around the remaining shaft. Dark blood mixed with pus oozed from it. He blotted away the discharge then flooded the area with whiskey. Allowing the wound to drain for several minutes, he then covered the area with dense dressing created from a stack of clean white linen wash clothes that the manager had added to the basket of sundries. Using long strips of sheet linen, he secured the medicated dressing into place.

Felix tensed tiredly as his injured arm was shifted and secured into an elevated position across his stomach. The makeshift sling was then tied so that his arm remained immobile. The position would keep the shoulder wound stable until they could reach one with the medical knowledge to safely surgically remove the remaining shaft and barbs from the joint. He groaned in dampened discomfort as the new positioning sent a wave of harsh pain radiating down the injured limb.

"I know it's uncomfortable, just relax." He used the remaining strips of linen to fully immobilize Felix's injured arm by tying it to his body. The tension created traction. It would prevent Felix from inadvertently moving his arm and aggravating the injury further. "Now to the task of getting us out of the country and getting you properly treated." He pulled his phone from its place on his person. For a few minutes, he scrolled the entirety of the contacts list, finally settling on two numbers that he had marked falsely to prevent Aro and his brothers from interrogation in regards to their presence in his contacts. Neither were numbers that he considered using unless the circumstances were dire. In this case, use of them was warranted. Both entities together would give them more options when the time came to try and retake Volterra.