Jailbreakers // Chapter Twenty-three (edit: Gore Warning)
Posted January 9th, 2017 by Zelda
in a perpetual predicament
A/N: I may have forgotten this was still ongoing.
thanks for taking time out of your day to read this. If you see anything that can be improved, let me know!
p.s: listened to Heart of Fire while writing this chapter and thought the correlation with what was happening was coincidental as heck xP
They emerged from the pool gasping for breath. Claira clambered up the lip and rolled onto dry ground. Timothy was right on her heels.
“Let’s go!” She panted, staggering to her feet. A deluge of water dripped off her sopping clothes, her hair was plastered flat against her head, and the cold left her shivering. Her lungs ached and she tasted coppery blood at the back of her throat. She paused just long enough to catch her breath and confirm that Timothy had made it out of the Glass Pool.
“Back to the camp- we have to go help.” He was standing with his hands on his knees a few paces behind her. She noted with a large degree of satisfaction that her sense-sight was back.
The crystal was heavy and comfortable in her palms. Silky smooth and familiar despite the fact that she had never held anything quite like it in her life. And the power, oh, it thrummed with more power than Claira had ever even imagined. She clutched the stone to her. Renewed energy made her cheeks flush, from stone perhaps? Or was adrenaline making a fresh appearance on the scene?
“Let’s go.” She said one more time. Willing her legs to move, she broke into a brisk jog. Timothy swiped the water from his eyes and followed sluggishly after her. Crail screams broke the eerie Angellock silence. They sounded agitated. Claira pushed at the edges of her sense-sight, to no avail, she could not see far enough ahead to tell what was going on with the crail. She had to hope that Emely’s shield was still up and the others were safe. Behind her Timothy crashed through the underbrush. He was struggling to keep up. Another shriek, closer now. The camp appeared like a new blip on a radar, and Claira’s heart sank like a rock.
Emely’s shield was down.
Child-soldiers and Claira’s friends were fighting hard, but they were steadily being herded like cattle ready for slaughter to the middle of the campground. A discarded, empty gun lay a few feet from where she skidded to a halt. A sharp twang caught her attention and she looked up to see Rosie perched in the tree above Claira, nocking another arrow into her bow. Claira pressed herself to the tree, out of sight, and held her stone up to eyelevel. She stared hard at it, silently willing it to become what she needed—What they all needed— most right now; a weapon strong enough to defeat the crail.
And Rosie loosed another arrow and another and another,
And the crail screamed and screamed and screamed,
And gunshots filled the air
And the stone was silent.
Then Claira blinked, and when she opened her eyes everything was different. The stone was exactly the same as it was before, the trees were all untouched, the battle was still raging around her, but it had all taken on a new quality. Timothy staggered to Claira’s side. Had it really only been a few seconds since she herself had stopped behind this tree? She turned to him, and found that she could see him.
She could see him, his self, his hidden-on-the-inside version. She caught only a glimpse of a misshapen skull and wrists stripped down to the bone from years of chaffing against the thick metal manacles encircling them, then she spun abruptly so she couldn’t stare. She got the sense that her stomach should be roiling, and it was, but not for the right reasons. Now was not the time to dwell on emotions though. She scanned the campground, picking out the closest crail to focus on.
Funny, they didn’t look much changed, they were still butt-ugly monsters. The only difference was that now each monster had a place that glowed a bright blood red, right behind their left front leg. Instinctively, Claira knew that was their weak spot.
Correction; their weakest spot. If she could just get to it… Acting on impulse she leaped out from behind the tree and sprinted towards the nearest crail. As the distance between her and the beast closed, a thin swath of orange lit up like a path along the crail’s flank. She squeezed herself inside the orange swath and sneaked up beside the crail, which was a task easier thought than completed. The crail shifted constantly, lunging forward, sidestepping, re-tracing it’s steps. But Claira lunged and sidestepped and re-traced right along with it, until she reached that red space. She clenched her hand into a fist and drew it back.
She hoped this worked.
With a short cry she slammed her fist into the soft red flesh of the crail. The flaky skin burst on contact, and Claira’s fist plunged into a goopy, disgusting mess. Black blood poured out of the gaping hole, splattering over Claira, and an overwhelming stench flooded the air.
Claira gagged, but shoved her arm in further, groping the innards of the crail until she was up to her shoulder and her fingers came into contact with something tough and slick. The crail twisted in her direction, shoving the slick object into her palm. The object pulsed fast, it was a heart, Claira realized, the beast’s heart. Without a second thought she clamped her slimy fingers around it and yanked as hard as she could.
The crail froze, like someone had hit its pause button. Its heart jerked against arteries, and with a final wrench came free of its host. Claira jumped back from the crail, ropes of black blood connected her to the beast, and in her hand was its shrivelled, writhing heart. The crail’s head whipped up, up, and back, right back so the top of its ugly head hit its contorted spine. It screamed a different kind of scream than the ones its brothers were letting loose: A death cry. Its heart spasmed in Claira’s hand, desperately trying to pump blood that was no longer there. Then the beast collapsed, dead, and its heart turned to ash and sloughed away from Claira’s fingers.
“Claira!” Timothy’s hand on her shoulder, the white bone of his wrist flashed at the edge of her vision, snapping her free of her moment of shock.
“There’s a soft spot behind their right leg.” She straightened, her eyes darted from crail to crail, making sure that each one had the same red and orange glow at their side. “And a blind spot on either side that goes from their haunches right to the weak point. Tell the others.” She instructed rapid fire, already spinning out of Timothy’s grasp.
She raced back to the tree where Rosie sat and relayed the same message.
“Catch!” Rosie called, a moment later a glinting silver dagger dropped from the tree and thudded on the needle-littered ground a few feet from Claira.
“Thanks!” Claira shouted up to the little girl. She bent to scoop up the dagger and in the span of a heartbeat was in the midst of the fray, jumping from blind spot to blind spot, shouting instructions to the people around her.
As the key to killing the crail was passed around, more and more of the beasts fell. Bullets, arrows, and knives all found their marks, not in the minute eyes— which also glowed with blood red light— but in the large patch of soft flesh at the crails’ sides. The tide turned in the group’s favor. In a matter of long, sweaty minutes, the last crail had fallen.
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