I.21 A Fountain of blood

For a moment I thought she had missed her target. The fountain shot up above our heads, neatly perpendicular to the erect body of the worm. But the rain-like spray had caught the beast’s attention. It changed course, heading straight for the water. Salvacion was still shouting:

“Drink up!”

The monstrous shadow stood in the darkness, the sides of its coils glistening with moonlight, letting the fountain disappear in the depths of its throat. Then Salvacion emitted a cry of utter triumph. Her palms, the dark flow of her hair and the ecstatic features of her face appeared in a pure white glow that spread upwards from her hands. The fountain shrank to a thin, blade-like column, which grew in an instant until it reached the worm’s open mouth, then slit through its throat, impaling its upper body before shooting up. A lance of ice, fifteen or twenty meters tall, had skewered the worm from the inside out. Its limp form hung for a moment above the ground. It had been caught mid-leap, and its tail whipped the sides of a nearby house in a last spasm before falling back down. From its pierced head, a flow of red liquid slid down along the white column. Finally the ice broke, and the whole monumental composition came crashing down. I tore my eyes from the spectacle to shield Mercedes, managing this time at least to adequately protect her body with mine, although the worm actually fell quite far from the both of us, so that there was no real danger and only drops of blood touched my shirt. Another cloud of dust rose over us, and it took me a while to get up once more. By then I was frankly quite tired of this falling down and rising again business. The energy which I had conjured up earlier had left me, and it was not until I heard the cries of Mercedes’s daughter that I finally rose from our numb embrace and remembered her bleeding. Luckily, the girl had a sort of scarf, which we managed to wrap around her wounded arm. My forehead was also bleeding into my left eye. I wondered if my hearing was not impaired, but I think my younger helper was simply too confused to talk, and I heard Salvacion’s voice clearly when she called out:

“It’s dead this time.”

I had not even lifted my head to look at the enormous corpse, which had collapsed over another neighbouring house. The whole street was not much more than a pile of rubble. Salvacion climbed down from a half-sliced wall. The scowl had returned on her face, and her right hand was pressed against her forehead, her fingers rubbing the temples.

“I’ll send word to Alba. You take care of the rest. I need to lie down.”

I understood that she was in no mood to talk, and kept my thanks for later. Besides, the task that remained to be done was by no means the easiest.

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