Prisoner Day 5
The battle seemed to have completely left earshot by the time that Amy had awoken for her watch. Sammy had kept her promise, though barely. Once she had been sure that Amy was awake, Sammy fell over onto her own bedroll and was immediately dead to the world. Amy chuckled and brushed a hand through the younger girl's hair. She went over to sit by the door of the shop, and found that she could see and hear nothing going on in the streets. It was long after midnight, and Amy almost felt like that she'd had a full night's sleep… even if she'd prefer to go back and catch a few more winks.
The lack of events outside had Amy catching herself not paying enough attention to her watch. She wasn't in all that much danger of falling asleep so much as letting her mind wander to think about things like where Astoria had gone, and why she wasn't back yet. Or where Alex had gone off that had made the Rector think that Amy was probably better informed about that.
It only took a moment of thought on that particular subject before she realized that it was obviously true that the Rector knew… that Amy liked Alex. Well… there was a thought to make Amy's cheeks red. She was glad that she hadn't bothered to think about that comment too hard at the time. The Rector knew! How did Alex not know, anyway? Maybe Sammy was right. Maybe he was just extremely dense. She slowly scanned the nightscape with her eyes. Still nothing. And nothing had come to her ears since Sammy's breathing had become regular and soft in the back of the shop.
Except… there was a faint light that seemed to be coming from the back of the inn. It was so faint that if Amy hadn't been sitting there staring at darkness for the past few hours, there was no way that she would have noticed it. It was a soft golden light, but even with no other distractions, Amy had to squint in order to be sure that she could see it.
Making sure that she wasn't ignoring any of the other angles to get to the shop by casting glances to the other angles again, she thought momentarily about going to investigate the light. Then a glance into the shop showed her Sammy sleeping on her bedroll, and she relaxed back into her makeshift seat.
It was a long night.
Amy was afraid that she had fallen asleep herself when she suddenly noticed that the eastern sky was painted with oranges and yellows. But as she quickly looked around at the still silent town, she found that she hadn't missed anything at all. And that the town seemed even more deserted than it had yesterday, without the battle to add noises to the otherwise silent and motionless townscape.
She walked over and shook Sammy until the younger girl showed recognition in her eyes. "Wake up while you watch and I'll get everything hidden upstairs." Nothing happened while Amy hid the stuff, and she handed Sammy some leftover bread that seemed to be good from Astoria's food stores.
"What now?" Sammy asked quietly once the two of them were ready to move if they decided to do so. "Still looking for Astoria and Alex? If not necessarily in that order?"
Amy looked at Sammy with more than a little bit of a glare. "You can joke about such things now?"
Sammy shrugged. "It's either laugh or…" she trailed off. Amy barely heard her finish: "cry."
Amy couldn't help but relax a little bit when she heard that. At least she wasn't the only one going a little crazy. She put a hand on the younger girl's shoulder.
"We have to think about the possibility that neither of them lived through the fire or destruction that has been going on," Sammy said after a short pause. "What do we do if there's no one here?"
"We go to my parents' house and wait for them," Amy said. "And we figure it out from there. But I don't want to give up yet."
Sammy turned to face her. "Even if you just let us sleep? If they're in trouble—"
"Then we probably missed our chance a long time ago," Amy finished emphatically. "Probably before we got here." Her grip tightened on Sammy's shoulder. "I need to know that, though. I need… I need to know where they are… what happened here."
Sammy put her hand on top of Amy's. "Do you promise to run with me if it gets too dangerous?" When Amy remained silent, Sammy took Amy's hand in both of her own and looked plaintively in her eyes. "If they're gone, you're all I have, Amy."
Amy let out a gusty sigh. "I promise."
Sammy let go of Amy's hand and looked out at the brightening street. "So… where do we check, then?"
Amy didn't really have an answer ready for that one. "I… don't know," she admitted.
Sammy glanced back at her and returned to look at the street. "We've tried the church. We're standing in Astoria's house. Do you think Ribbon's place is still good?"
Amy had to suppress a shudder. "Why would we go in there willingly?"
Sammy turned to her. "Because no one's there. And if no one was there, then perhaps it wasn't attacked. It may be a relatively safe place to hide out."
"I don't want to." She felt extremely immature the instant the words were out of her mouth, but she would not take them back.
"My garden is first, probably ruined, and second, really easy to see, so I doubt there's anyone there. We know they're not at the church—"
Amy pounced on this. "We know they weren't at the church last night. That could have changed over night."
Sammy looked dubious. "Would Astoria go someplace that she wouldn't be able to use her magic without pissing off the people in charge?" Then she sighed. "Though I guess Alex could be there. Fine. Only once more, though." Her voice dropped to barely a whisper. "I want to get out of here. Anywhere but here."
Amy drew herself together. "I did promise. We check the church again.. And… we'll be at my parent's house before midnight." She hoped. With Alex and Astoria to help.
"Alright," Sammy said, though she was clearly less than pleased with the plan. "Let's get it over with, then, okay?"
Duly decided upon, the two of them left the shop quietly into the morning light. Both of them carefully made their way down the main north-south street where they had seen the battle the previous day and confirmed what they had figured with their senses: all of the mana had been drained from the area, and very little of it had been restored since. There was so little in the way of mana that drawing a Rune and summoning a single familiar to attempt to collect it was likely to be inefficient. Amy breathed a little easier once she had confirmed this. Without all that much in the way of mana, the battle had to have moved elsewhere.
Sammy seemed to have noticed the same thing, as her eyes were drawn to the few places that had any mana drawn at all, and she seemed more and more comfortable as she drew her eyes over more and more empty areas. "It looks like there might not be anyone nearby anymore."
"That's the hope," Amy said. "If they're not here anymore because of the lack of mana, anywhere they went yesterday is safer than places they haven't been."
Sammy nodded, then gasped. "Is that… a body?!"
Amy's eyes were immediately drawn forward to where Sammy pointed. Sure enough, there was a body of a young man there. Amy ran to the spot, completely forgetting that she had been intending to not allow anyone to hear her or Sammy as they went down the street. But the closer she got the more that the fear rose in her throat. That's Alex!
And it was. She reached him and fell to her knees beside him to lay her head against his chest. A heartbeat! It rose and fell! He was still alive. She sat up, trying to get her own heart to return to a more reasonable pace itself. He stirred slightly, and she touched his shoulder gently. "Alex, it's okay," she said quietly.
His eyes fluttered open. "A-amy?" He said without belief. He began to cough.
"Don't strain yourself," Amy admonished. "Are you hurt? Can you move? It's not safe to be in the middle of the street when a magical battle might break out at any time."
Alex shook his head slightly. "N-no… Amy…" He coughed again.
"Alex! Stop! You shouldn't ta-" Amy cut herself off when Alex's hand grasped her collar tightly. His eyes were pleading. "What, Alex?"
"Run," he managed to get out, before he collapsed back onto the ground and began to spasm. Amy felt herself hauled up from behind.
"Let's go!" Sammy said as she pulled the older girl away from the spasming Alex. "We have to get away from him!"
While the primary question in Amy's head was 'Why?' the one thing she knew is that both Sammy and Alex wanted her to run. So she should, clearly. She let Sammy pull her away but looked over her shoulder at the fallen young man. Something was happening to him. His skin… looked different, and he definitely looked like he was in pain.
"He's coming to?!" A new voice said, and Gertrude walked onto the street from one of the side streets between where Sammy and Amy had made it to and Alex. "I thought I'd had him. Especially after…" She shut her mouth on whatever the next word was, spotting the two girls. "Run!" she told them, then she turned to face Alex and Amy forced herself to look forward.
Just in time to spot the two Demons coming from each side. Sammy came to a stop instantly, and her wand came out. Amy turned to look at Gertrude. "Are these yours?" she shouted at her.
The confused, then surprised look on the woman's face was all that Amy needed. "Summon and draw!" she said aloud as she drew with her own wand. Both of the fairies that she used as her instant summoning came to her call. Sammy had one as well, so the three fairies drew on their bows and immediately focused their fire on the nearest Demon.
They didn't have a chance.
The three fairies were all gone by the time either of the young women had finished drawing their Runes, and didn't give them enough time to summon anything from either of them before the claws tore through the Runes in short order. Amy and Sammy both retreated toward where Gertrude was, using the time in which their Runes had been destroyed to escape the range of the Demons. "Gertrude!" Sammy shouted shrilly as the Demons bore down on them. A unicorn stepped in the way, bringing up its shield. Then one of the Demons was down to the arrows of Gertrude's own Fairies. The Fairies continued their assault, but only one of the three remaining Demons was sufficiently distracted by the still shielded unicorn.
Amy jumped in front of Sammy before the two Demons could reach her and stared defiantly back at their devilish eyes. "No!" she heard from behind her. "Amy!" She felt the claws rip through her clothing like air and her flesh like butter. She dropped instantly, feeling her blood run out onto the stones of the street. Sammy was kneeling next to her instantly, completely ignoring the danger above. "Amy! You promised!" So she had. She tried to chuckle, but it gurgled in her throat and she coughed up blood instead. "Amy!"
She thought that it had been a rather long time since she had been felled, and wondered why the Demons had ignored Sammy's easy prize. She then felt a presence on her other side, and she just managed to turn her head to regard Gertrude Silvaner, who had… a rather complex mix of expressions on her face. "I'm sorry I could only save one of you," she said to Amy. "I'm so sorry that I've never been able to save both of you."
Amy blinked up at her, confused, but Gertrude shook her head. "There's no time. I really need to know a couple things, and I may only be able to get those answers now. Was your family ever in any danger?"
Amy mutely shook her head slightly while Sammy said, "They are away at the Baron's manse."
Gertrude acquired a small smile. "Good. What's your relationship to that man over there?" She cocked her head to indicate where Alex had been the last time Amy had looked at him. Her eyes widened, and she certainly felt afraid. Why did this woman want to know that?
Sammy was similarly dubious. "What do you need to know that for?"
"Well, I do know that the reason he's in this state is because he didn't know where you were. He thought you were under arrest like I was. I'm not sure how he got that in his head, but he did. I wanted to confirm why that mattered to him so much that he would do such a terrible thing for your sake."
"What… terrible thing?" Sammy asked, though Amy wasn't quite sure she wanted to know the answer.
"To sell his soul to a Devil," Gertrude said in the same frustratingly calm tone. She looked up toward some of the battling familiars, seemed to give some orders with her gestures, then returned her attention to Amy. "I have no Elves I could get to heal you in time; I'm sorry. I failed you again."
"Again?" Sammy asked. Then her eyebrows came down. "Who are you, anyway?"
"The Remnant Revnant, of course," Gertrude said. And that's when Amy felt her life drain out of her. She reached blindly for Sammy, but couldn't feel whether she succeeded or not. She did hear what Gertrude said next, though.
"Don't worry. I've got Sammy. And next time you'll be okay too." Swirls of blue and green. Then, nothing.
What I can see… is a tragedy unfolding.
What I can hear… is a scream rending.
What I can feel… is a fear paralyzing.
I want to know if there is anything else in this world.
Tomorrow's sunrise… is it my last?