Chapter XLII

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The morning light welcomed me back when I got out of the garden, now in the middle of a forest of tall, thin trees. I still had my white dress, my robe, my shoes, but I had no weapons, no dagger, no scythe, no nothing to defend myself.

Paying attention to the whole place, thinking a thousand times while I walked, I crossed the forest, remembering the path my mom had shown me many times in the past.

"If something ever happens, Alynne, follow the grey stones. You will find a secret entry to the castle, a room no one but us know." Her words were still fresh in my mind, and I kept replaying them, over and over again.

I wanted to see her, to hug her, kiss her. I wanted my dad to hold me, to tell me everything will be fine, to tell how proud he was of me. I needed them both. I wanted them to meet my children, to meet Wiese, Gail, to know Pandora had always protected us, that I protected her as well, that I wasn't a scared girl anymore, that I was back, that would do the same for them, set them free and see them again in their thrones, in the castle, walking with me, with us.

I wanted my family

I don't know when I had started running, or when the sound of a sword cutting through the air had begun, but my body was moving by itself, shortening the path to both the sound and the secret room, finding a confused, dazzled Pandora avoiding the attacks of a vampire and an elf, smiling sadistically. The black haired witch dodged their swords with barely enough time, but was trapped between them and a rock wall, covered with mushrooms and dead moss.

Not thinking about it, I screamed, drawing their attention to me, giving her enough time to kick the elf, run to my side and recover her breath. However, it worried me when I saw her pale face, the dark circles under her eyes and her clumsy steps. I even had to take her by the arms to prevent Pandora from falling to the ground.

"Lucky day, it seems," said the elf. "I get the witch and you the girl," he said to the vampire, who bit her lips.

"Just... just give me some time," said my witch. Pandora had taken a stone with her hands, whispered a couple of words as fast as she could and, drawing a single rune on it, made it start floating while she sat down on the grass. I could only nod.

It had been a long time since I last fought by bare hands. Despite I felt nervous, there was also the excitement, the chance to light that spark again. For the first time, I felt more anxious than afraid. It were my hands against two swords, but I wasn't the same damsel in distress as when I fell asleep. I took a breath and ran up to them.

I threw myself aside in the last second, dodging the swords, taking the vampire by the neck and throwing her towards the elf, making his sword pierce the bloodsucker in the middle of her hips. With a kick on her knees, she fell to the ground, cutting her almost in a half until her chest.

The stone that Pandora had bewitched moved hitting the elf on the head, making him fall and moving even more the sword that had pierced the vampire, while I took the opportunity to jump on him, and twist his neck, annihilating him instantly.

The vampire took the sword from her chest, regenerating almost instantly. The stone hit her several times, I could see that Pandora moved one hand as fast as she could, while she had the other on the grass, absorbing the energy of the place, healing herself from cuts I hadn't seen, but the leech was faster and broke the stone in a short time.

She needed a sword to decapitate her or a piece of wood to stab her in the chest, and she already had a weapon in each hand. I swallowed thick before the panorama and only hoped I could give Pandora enough time before the leech tried to cut my left arm.

I got tired faster in the real world and could only dodge her the attacks. My mind hadn't fully awakened and my body was still trying to recover itself from that deep sleep, that curse. I could still feel the black magic in my bones, trying to make fall again, to cage and trap me in the very same place I had just escaped from. It wouldn't be today, but I also needed to keep on living to make it all worth the effort.

With another jump, I managed to confuse the vampire and kick her on the back. It hurt me more than I expected, but also made her tumble for a moment, letting me hit her with both elbows on the nape. She still had enough strength to take me by the legs, knocking me to the ground and punching me on the belly.

Three bewitched stones came after her, hitting all of her body as soon as they reached the vampire. It gave me enough time to escape and avoid her fangs and claws. I took one of the swords from her hands and tried to finally behead her, but the creature was still fighting back, easily blocking my attacks.

The fight started to be more of a dance, each of us trying to kill the other, each of us trying to be perfect, to move in the right time, to attack and defend at the same time. My legs were beginning to respond, my body felt lighter, my senses were waking up with every second and I gained more territory over the leech, but she still insisted and counterattacked.

However, before Pandora had enough time to fully recover, a tide of energy came to the three of us, burning everything within its reach, poisoning the air and paralyzing us right in our place, except of the vampire. In horror, not able to look at Pandora or say a single word, I saw the dead elf's body shaking, coming to life once again.

"Take them to the dungeons, I still have to recover my powers."

She walked right in front of me and slapped the vampire. Seconds ago, we were free, and now were the prisoners of The Tenth.

 Seconds ago, we were free, and now were the prisoners of The Tenth

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