Chapter Seventeen: Part Three

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At Gwen's sudden gasp, Phenex glanced down at the courtyard below, witnessing as Forneus drove his sword through the neck of the wyvern pinning him. The creature let out one last shriek, then fell limp. Forneus had barely shoved its bulk off of him when an undulating mass of black and grey descended on him, streaks of lightning shooting out from the centre of the melee.

It took every last shred of willpower Phenex possessed not to rush to Forneus's aid then and there. If not for Gwen, he would have. But now, after several jumps between St. Vitus Cathedral and Prague Castle, remaining just outside of enemy detection, Gwen had finally picked up the trail.

Phenex tore his gaze away from the scene below, and glanced up at the turrets above. "You're sure it's up there?" he asked.

"Positive," Gwen answered, voice trembling slightly. "Shouldn't we go back and help him?"

"No. We have our orders, and Forneus has his." He kept his voice low as he peered around, ensuring no monsters were skulking nearby. "Besides, how do you think he'd feel if we went down there to help him, and something bad happened to you in the process? He'd never forgive me for it."

And neither would I, he added silently, hoisting her so that she sat a bit higher on his back. Regardless of his strength, his arms were really beginning to ache. Not because Gwen was heavy—which contrary to their earlier joking, she really wasn't—but because he'd seldom had reason to keep his limbs locked in one position for so long.

He hardly got out a hiss of protest before Gwen slid from his back, her feet barely making any sound as they met the smooth shingles of the castle's rear wall. She shifted into a crouch beside him with her hands braced against the bottom of the parapet, her breath catching as she stared directly overhead.

Whatever rebuke he'd planned on giving her died in his throat. Phenex followed her gaze, scarcely able to make out what he was seeing, at first, and then sucking in a breath when he did. Demons of every kind swarmed the tower, fighting amongst themselves to perch along its ledges.

Oh, you have got to be kidding me. He released a frustrated sigh. Of all the places the artifact could have wound up, it just had to be surrounded by monsters. Still, there were a number of towers up there, and from what he could see, they'd all gathered around the one, leaving the others unguarded. Maybe...

He glanced at Gwen, considering. "Any chance that tracking ability of yours can tell us exactly where the artifact is hiding?"

Gwen shook her head. "Sorry."

"Don't be," he said. "We'll figure something out. Just stick by me, all right?"

Gwen nodded, gripping his arm tightly. Phenex could feel her trembling, the fear radiating from her overwhelmingly strong. He knew some of that fear stemmed from how high up they were. She'd been trembling since the Charles Bridge, and it had only gotten worse when he'd started leaping between the castle turrets. But now that a swarm of enemies hovered directly above them, roaring and screeching with such ferocity that it set the hairs at the nape of his neck on end, there was no doubt that her fear had since tripled.

Of course, she could also be cold—altitude did have a way of sucking heat right out of the body—but he doubted it. Forneus had given her a windbreaker with a thick inner lining, one that far surpassed anything the mortals could tailor.

If it were any other time, Phenex might have murmured some form of encouragement, told her that everything would be all right, that he wouldn't let any harm come to her. Unfortunately, time was short. All he had to do was look at one of the faces of St. Vitus Cathedral's clock—sitting just opposite from where he stood—to know this was true.

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