AN: This whole chapter is probably one of my personal favorites. Thank you for reading and reviewing!
Harry found himself on his back, in the snow. He blinked back into the world and saw the image of Sanya looming over him, his mouth moving but no words coming out. He heard instead muted rumbles, odd twisting noises. The ground under him seemed to quake.
"…arry…" Sanya yelled, his voice coming to the wizard now. "Harry! HARRY GET UP!"
Dresden groaned, reaching up to his ringing ears and finding his hands coming away wet. He frowned and held up his fingers, coated in thick blood.
"HARRY!" Murphy yelled amid the screaming of panicked civilians. She appeared over him next, her cell phone pressed against her ear. "Yes. I don't know," She said to the phone, apparently someone was on the other end talking to her. "What did Anthony say?"
Sanya reached down and grabbed Harry's arm, sitting him up. Now in some state of vertical, the wizard could see people fleeing the park in a mad panic. The frightened mob scattered to the streets and there were horns and sirens wailing in the distance. He looked around himself and noticed that he was fifteen feet from where he had been standing before the soulgaze…and that the Denarian possessing James Novak was nowhere to be seen.
"Where…" Harry croaked. "Where…did he go?"
"He vanished," the Russian announced, his sword in hand. "He became angry and threw you away from him without touching you."
The wizard winced, his ears still ringing. "It was a Denarian," he said.
Sanya's eyes widen. "What was he doing here?"
"I don't know." Harry pushed himself up, staggering to his feet. Murphy clicked her phone shut and looked at the two of them, her eyes wide. "What is it?" Harry asked. "Because I've got enough problems already."
"It wasn't the Denarians that attacked Anthony," Murphy announced. "It was a demon."
"Where is Will?"
Murphy shook her head and surveyed the chaos, not about to jump into the fray. "I don't know. He got really tense and was gone before I could ask him what was wrong. The was when the whole crowd panicked."
Amid the screaming, the horns blaring on the streets, and the ringing in his ears, a wolf howled. From the remnants of the mob, those who had come off the ice and just torn their skates right off their feet to run, a large brown wolf bounded towards them.
In his wake came a woman, walking calming through the hastily deserted park. She had dark eyes and long softly curled dark hair with an almost porcelain complexion. She was dressed in tight jeans and boots, with a leather coat over top of a rich purple top. She walked with a casual sway, fingers hooked into the belt loops at her hips. There was no way she was warm in the clothing that she wore and it was apparent that she really didn't care.
The woman came to a stop on the edge of the sidewalk, one thin brow carefully arched as she looked at the werewolf and the few people who hadn't fled the park. Harry slipped his hand into his coat and reached for his blasting rod. Will braced himself in the snow and growled, low and angry at her.
"What a cute doggie." The woman said with a smirk. "He yours?"
Harry looked between Sanya and Murphy. "He doesn't like you very much."
"Oh." She laughed. A sound that was cold and harsh in the November air. "He's just upset I brought my own to play."
Murphy started to reach into her coat. "Harry...she doesn't have any dogs." She hissed.
That sinking feeling came back into the wizard's gut. Harry took a deep breath and focused on opening his third eye, against his better judgment. He opened his Sight and looked again, taking both the physical world and the supernatural one.
Murphy and Sanya both stood on either side of him in their true forms, the sergeant an Amazon warrior dressed in a bloodied and dirty white and blue tunic. Her gun was a sword tucked under one arm and her eyes glowed a brilliant blue. Sanya wore a crown of his ancestor's on top of his head, and his winter clothes were replaced with the white and red tunic of a templar Knight. His sword, Esperacchius, glowed so bright that it was painful to look at. So Harry focused his attention on the woman in front of him.
Before him though, the park was painted in the residue of fear from the frightened civilians. It bathed the snow yellow and orange were people had tread in their panic to flee. The woman standing amid the stain was terrible to look at, with soulless black eyes, twisted and distorted features, and horns rising from her forehead to curve back and around her jagged ears.
And standing around her were three massive beasts with glowing red eyes, sharp spinney black fur, and wicked sharp claws. Their mouths were pulled back into a snarl, exposing wicked white teeth and their breath blew out a hot black mist that would probably reek of sulfur should one be close enough to smell.
These beasts were also half the size of Murphy's Saturn.
"Hellhounds!" Harry barely breathed.
"I can't see anything Harry!" Murphy announced, pointing her gun in front of her.
"Trust me Karrin, you don't want to." Harry swallowed thickly. He was almost certain that Will couldn't see them, but he was probably more than enough aware that these beasts had invaded his territory.
The demon possessing the young woman smirked at him. "Take the wizard alive. Kill the rest."
"Run!" Harry ordered, watching as the three hellhounds set foot onto the tinted snow, their paws sinking into it and taking the shape of paw prints. "Sanya! Take Karrin and run!"
"These things killed two people in my city Harry! I am not leaving!" Murphy announced. "You and I swore we'd handle this together!"
Harry spun on her, going for the sword illusion that was in reality her gun. But he was too late. Murphy, now able to see where these monsters were, trained her gun on the nearest one and fired. Black blood spurt out from a wound and fell over the back of beast, giving it some shape.
And that was all it took.
The hounds lunged at them. Sanya stepped around Harry, grabbing Murphy by the arm and dragging her in his retreat. Will made for the one that had been wounded, leaping for the bloody mark on the back of the beast and sinking his teeth into the hounds flesh. Harry turned and bolted in the other direction of his retreating friends, hoping to draw two of the beasts away from the others.
"Will! GO!" Harry roared, bringing his blasting rod up and pointing it the one behind him. "Feugo!" The wizard cried out and a lance of fire shot from its tip, cutting through the snow and into the hellhound's path.
Out of the corner of his eye he saw Will make a mad dash after the hellhound chasing Murphy and Sanya. The wounded one he had been scrapping with was now coming for weaker prey with no teeth.
The lance of fire struck the first hound on his tail and it sent the monster into the snow. But it hadn't killed it. The hound shuddered with the effect of the stun and got back up as its partner caught up.
Use fire to kill the monster from Hell, Harry. The wizard mentally kicked himself as he turned to put more distance between him and the beasts. Stupid, stupid idea.
Realizing there was no way he was going to out run the hellhounds, he shook out his shield bracelet around his wrist and began to pour a little of his will into it. He spun around on the already wounded hellhound and raised his left fist; shield convalescing into place and exposing three rings around his fingers. They stored kinetic energy from when his hand swung back and forth at his side, holding it in these rings to be released at a moment's notice.
He hadn't use either of those rings since earlier in the summer. Months of untapped energy were stored in them. Enough to probably take a Mac truck off its wheels.
Harry focused on the ring around his index finger and released it.
The blast released from the ring had been aimed low and in the path of the hellhound. It dug a furrow through the snow, sending white chucks and flakes sailing through the air as the force of energy stuck the beast in a glancing blow. But it hit at just the right angle to catch the hound and break it's neck along with a leg and several ribs. Inertia carried the carcass through the air and it slid to a stop in the snow just feet away from the wizard.
The other hound had recovered though and barreled over its dead pack mate. It lunged, giving Harry no time to re-aim and fire off another shot. He swung around with his blasting rod and readied to blast the hell spawn back with a bolt of wind.
He misjudged his timing and the hellhound was on him. It sent the wizard flying into the snow, landing on his chest. The blasting rod slipped from Harry's fingers and fell away. Long sharp claws dug into the front of his sweater and sank into the skin and the other paw landed with a punishing blow to his left arm. With a cruel twist, the hound dislocated it entirely from its socket.
Harry screamed in white-hot pain, losing all feeling down that arm. His mind grinded to a stop and the will he had been pouring into his shield bracelet winked out. The wizard was too busy trying to form coherent thoughts to try and muster his will back up.
The hellhound leaned in low and menacing, puffing putrid sulfur smelling hot breath into Harry's face. The wizard turned away, bracing himself for having his throat ripped out.
But the killing blow never came. The hound remained standing on his chest and arm, pinning him into a Harry shaped mold in a foot of snow.
Harry dared to crack open an eye, looking up at the blood red gaze of the hound. It growled deep and low in its chest at him.
"I should let him tear your head off for killing his mate." The demon said, having no problem reaching out to the wiry, bristled fur of the hellhound and stroking it with affection. "Who is mommy's good boy?" She cooed at the growling hell beast. The demon leaned over the hellhound and smiled at Harry. "You know, I heard you were a hard man to get a hold of. I have to say Harry, I'm a little let down. I was looking for a challenge."
Harry groaned at the sheering pain in his shoulder and the weight on his chest. He could barely breathe. In the distance he heard the report of gunfire.
His friends were in trouble.
Harry looked up at the demon, watching her stoke her growling beast. "What…do you want?" He rasped.
The demon smiled at him. "Oh silly wizard, I've come for the swords."
Harry looked at the hellhound. "You want…to take them out of play…" He took another breath. "So that the Knights don't kill your Horsemen."
The demon frowned. "True. But you really can't stop Death. Or War." She said. "No…I've come to take them before someone gets it in their thick skulls to use them against my Father."
Harry winced as the hound shifted its wait, settling harder on his chest and arm.
"Careful pet, don't want to damn such pretty meat." The demon cooed to the hellhound. It rumbled in return.
"Lady…" Harry hissed. "I'm so not your type." He looked up and tried for focus on the image of the young woman that the demon was actually riding. From his vantage point with the Sight, he could see her beneath the surface. There was some consciousness there…but Harry was sure from the dead look in the eyes of the original host…the soul that had been placed inside of it had long since left. Her belly had suffered a terrible burn recently and it was still healing…but the wound was blackened and had spider-like veins coming off it. The demon was the only thing keeping this poor dead woman's body together now and alive.
"See something you like?" The demon asked, aware that Harry was looking at her with his Sight.
"Yeah…actually." Harry wheezed. "Was just wondering what your name was demon bitch." He hissed a little as the hound's claws dug deeper into his chest.
The demon smiled, giving him a look at both hers and the host's teeth. "You think I'd be stupid enough to tell you that, Wizard?"
Harry hissed. "What, worried I'd unmake you for nearly killing Anthony?"
"Needed something to draw you out into the open." The demon laughed. "And if you want to call me anything…a couple of hunters call me Meg."
The wizard quirked an eyebrow. "Oh yeah? Small world. I know a few."
"Do you now?" Meg's smile brightened.
"Yeah." Harry chuckled hoarsely. "So…what's a demon…doing the dirty work of a Denarian?"
Meg sighed wistfully and looked out across the abandoned park. "Oh, I don't like to brag…but Father's not to happy its taken Nicky the last millennia or two to kill off the Knights. So he sent me. I know how to get things done, as you can see." She patted the huge beast. "But as much as I'd like to chat, I'd really like to hurry along and get those swords out from behind your wards."
"Oh yeah." Harry managed a grin. "Wouldn't get to close to those, blow you back to Hell. And your little dog too."
"You're funny." Meg's tone tensed. "I wonder how funny you are going to think you are after I let Toto here rip your guts out."
"Sweetheart," Harry sighed. "I'm the life of the party." And he lifted right hand and slapped it against the chest of the Hellhound. The wizard mustered together his will and grabbed for a bit of Soulfire for some kick and bellowed, "FEUGO!"
Fire, unfocused without the blasting rod, shot through the beast in a bolt as big around as Harry was himself at the waist. The difference between this fire and the first was that it's edges swirled with a bit of silvery light, the fire of creation itself and drawn from the depths of Harry's own soul.
And it was just enough to blow out the heart of the beast.
Meg lurched back as the hellhound toppled off of Harry. The wizard pointed his open hand at her. He steadied his will and yelled "Ventas Serrvitas!"
A column of wind struck the demon and sent her flying. She landed several meters away in the snow, body reacting to the landing as if it were a rag doll. She recovered after a moment and looked up to see the wizard still at the ready.
That was all it took for the demon to bolt. Her eyes turned completely black on her host, and with inhuman speed she retreated, making a clean break beyond the trees lining the edges of the park and was gone.
Harry fell back into the snow for a moment and groaned. As he did the Sight went with his vision and the wizard took a moment to gulp down lung fulls of breath. His gray sweater was torn and stained red from the blood weeping out of the five precise puncture points of the hellhounds claws. His left arm hung utterly useless at his side.
I've just killed two hellhounds. Harry thought for a moment.
As Harry became aware of the silence, he opened his eyes. He remembered there had been a third hound. The gunfire in the distance, the sound of animals fighting…
Murphy, Sanya, and Will.
Harry braced himself, sitting up with his good hand and scrambling to get to his feet. He crawled out from under the legs still on him from the dead hound and picked up his blasting rod out of the snow.
He staggered across the open field in the direction he had seen everyone go. The silence that was stretching in the cold November air was starting to scare him. It was gradually being filled with the wailing sound of sirens and it only made Harry limp and stumble faster.
They had made it to the trees, crossing the narrow street that was completely devoid of people and traffic. The snow had given him an idea of where they had gone, but there were few traces on the pavement. Harry spun in a circle, clutching his arm to himself and feeling panic creeping in.
The street divided the park, leaving a small section of quiet fields and more trees between it and the main road. Harry decided to keep following the direction he had seen the trail. He came up onto the sidewalk and could see just through the line of trees were the snow had been disturbed again.
And steeped in blood.
"No!" Harry whispered, starting to will open his Sight and charging through the tree line.
On the other side, he found them.
In a sea of black and red tinted snow.
Sanya was lifted a clear three feet into the air, with nothing underneath him. Esperacchius was held tightly in front of him and coated in thick black blood. It was suck down in front of the Knight, buried into the invisible and solid mass under his legs. The back of his winter coat had been slashed right through, bleeding white insulation and exposing the scraped ceramic plating of his bullet proof vest. Bits of snow covered the shoulders and body of the hound, the only indication that it was even there.
Will, still in the shape of a large brown wolf, had his teeth sunk deeply into what Harry could only assume was probably the neck of the hellhound without using his Sight. The tension in Will's throat and chest was tight and more of the black blood seeped onto the snow covered ground around his mouth. The werewolf himself bore fresh wounds of his own, the fur around his neck stained red and a large gash had been ripped into his back.
And Murphy sat at the tree line, her gun trained on the space between them both. Her coat was wrapped tightly around her leg and a belt lashed it around her right thigh. Her knuckles were raw and she looked like she had taken a bad fall and scrapped her face. The knees and hem of jeans were dirtied and wet.
"It's dead." Sanya announced, taking the hilt of his saber in both hands and with a grunt, pulled it from the body of the beast. Will released what he held tightly in his teeth and stepped back with growl
Harry trudged slowly over to Murphy, watching lower her gun and let out a breath she had been holding. From the way the snow appeared, she had dragged herself to where she sat and managed to make her own tourniquet for whatever wounds that had been inflected.
Sanya peeled off his coat; since it was obvious Harry couldn't with his dislocated shoulder and draped it over the officer. He looked up at Harry.
"If you are alive, then the other hounds are dead, da?"
The wizard nodded, dropping to his knees into the snow next to Murphy.
"What about the demon?"
Harry shook his head. "She got away." He said.
"She wanted you alive." Murphy whispered, gingerly putting her gun away into its shoulder holster and touching a hand to her battle dressing. "What did she want from you?"
Harry nursed his dead arm to his chest and sighed. "She's come for the swords." He said, looking up at Sanya. "She said her Father sent her to get them."
Sanya's widen in surprise.
Murphy looked up, her gaze muddled with pain and the crash following the wake of adrenaline. Harry was starting to feel the effects of it himself now that the fighting was over.
"Father? As in her God? Isn't the God to any demon Lucifer?" she said quietly.
"Yeah," Harry confirmed, just as Will limped over to them and settled down into the cold snow to take the burn off his own injuries. "Yeah he is."