Chapter 17

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The slippery, blood streaked ground quakes below the footsteps of the monsters as we charge at them. Five rage toward us - their eyes red, their muscles bulging. Froth sprays from their rabid mouths as they roar.

We make impact.

I dodge the big, tree trunk arm of one as it swings at me - grabbing it and twisting it back - while throwing a punch up at the jaw of the one behind it. Out of the corner of my eye I see Crystal swing herself onto the back of another, grab a black arrow from her quiver, and jab it in the neck. It crumples to its knees and I have to fight to hold my balance as the floor rumbles.

"What happens when you shoot them with the Cupid Arrow, love?" I call to her - grabbing the head of the next.

"No idea," she yells back as she dodges the advances of the next one. The one she just shot gets back to its feet, slightly off balance - but still able to fight. "Looks like not a lot..."

I dive into the red-rimmed eyes of the beast I am holding, wondering who he really is behind the transformation.

"Sleep," I command him.

His eyes droop slightly but then he blinks and swipes at me - sending me flying into the wall into the rubble. I prop myself up - watching as Crystal shoots another in the heart. It pulls it out and barely even looks as it crumbles to ash in its enlarged fingers.

I cough away the dust then jump back to my feet. Crystal is flung back by one of them and she hits the floor hard. She doesn't move. I see red and launch myself at the monster that did it - grasping at its midriff and tackling it to the ground. The floor shakes and sharp piece of tile explode around us where we land.

I hear a noise behind me.

Crystal.

"You OK, my love?" I call to her as another of them grabs me and throws me back.

I fly into the opposite wall like a ragdoll - tasting blood as I make impact. She turns, her face covered with blood and dust. She raises an eyebrow.

"Are you?!"

Just as the next monster swipes at her again. She leaps out of its path, rolls across the ground, props herself up, and shoots four arrows in quick succession at its heart. It stumbles, loses balance, and crashes to the floor.

I push myself back up as the remaining four run toward us. I join Crystal, we stand back to back in the middle of them. I can sense her elevated heartbeat though her back, hear her quickened breathing. I search for Jekyll among them, but she is not there.

Then I reach over my shoulders and grab two arrows from her quiver and plunge them into the flesh of one of the advancing enemies.

Across the corridor the monster she just disabled gets back to its feet.

"We need a plan, Mino," says Crystal. "This isn't working...You said there was a cage in the Transformation Room?"

I look for an escape in the tight ring that these transformed humans and Myths have formed around us. See a gap between two. And I grab Crystal's hand.

"This way, love," I say.

I pull her, and we slide across the blood between the swinging arms of two of the monsters. We start to run. She glances over her shoulder to see if they're following but there's no need, the ground begins to shake with each of their heavy footsteps and their shadows loom over us.

They are coming.

We launch ourselves through the jagged hole in the wall where one of them crashed through, and I pull Crystal past the surgical chair toward the cage. Two of them crash toward us and we spring apart, diving past - as they skid into the metal prison.

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