One by one, the lights sparked up in blooms of brightness. Starting from the mouth of the Generator and the Temple, they spread in waves upon waves. The survivors and the wounded, the stunned and the fighters, they all fell silent as the dead while they watched the strings of lamp light up. Past the district of the Furnaces, only a few did, for the Eerie had covered everything in their black wave of hunger and hate, but they still hissed and cried out, confused at the sudden return of the world of Man.
And from deep below, a hiss and a rumble, a hum that they had felt for too much time, until they forgot it was there – until it ceased, of course – and now was coming up again, a giant that had fallen asleep once, twice, but now was coming back stronger than ever.
Shouts of joy rose to the stars like sparks from the chimneys.
And with another rumble, this one of water, pressurized through the conduits, the steam banged and exploded through the pipelines. Just as it had happened before many burst out, releasing hisses of steam, but this time it was the Eerie who felt the brunt of it and their shouts of pain and anger reverberated through the night as, just like the lightbulbs, they also caught fire and went up in bursts of flame if caught too strongly by too thick a jet.
The grates and pipelines sleeping beneath the snow and the corpses burst open in a deluge of scalding steam, expanding as a circular wave.
Cloria lifted a fist into the air at the sight.
“She did it! That little monster did it!” She turned and put a kiss on Bernardo’s lips, celebrating the final turning of the Tide.
The Hunter and Sadja lay hugging each other just as the wave of steam ran past them. He hissed at the pain, but Sadja did not seem as affected as he was.
“Oh,” she said, flipping her ears to free them from the droplets, “so that’s what you meant by good news.” The first wave oh holy water hit the withdrawing rear of the Eerie. It set them ablaze, running rivers of flame over their cursed flesh. It did not turn them right away into cinder, as it was likely too weak and too disperse to do anything like Sadja’s blood could, but it was more than enough.
The critters and monsters, hulking half-made abominations and walking mouths of legs all skittered and scampered upon each other, the burning stench of their flesh rising up in a curtain of smoke that went past the circles of flames. They ran away towards the walls, but most of those that tried so only got caught between the walls and the incoming wave of flame.
Sadja watched them catch fire like leaves caught in a blaze.
Others managed to reach or jump to the top, and that was when the wards set by both of them took care of the survivors.
Like shooting stars they fell screaming down, this way or that.
Following some instinct, the remaining flood pushed through the aperture of the walls, the collapsed section that had once already helped to syphon them in a trap and now offered the same favor on their way out. The tight passage made the Eerie push against each other and onto their flesh, slowing them down, so that when the wave passed over them most of those on the outer side caught fire, and as they fell, those beneath linked the flames, and over and over and over again, so that, by the end, only a couple of lucky or quick critters managed to skitter off into the night, bearing with them only the memory of pain and fear of the Mankind’s fury.
“Now those are fireworks,” Sadja commented, feeling a little cheeky.
“I wouldn’t be keen on repeating that every year,” Hunter said, letting out a long-drawn breath against her skin.”
“Or every ten years.” Sadja let her body relax. Spirits, was she tired. The wall of burning flames made for a great sight, though.
The stench of burning bodies less so.
We did it! We did it!, came Cloria’s voice through her mind-scape.
“Cloria is happy too,” Sadja said. How tired was she? She almost couldn’t keep her eyes open. She snuggled closer to Hunter, taking solace in his heat and the presence of his body. She did not have the energy to do any more than that but… now that they had a future, maybe she could.
Or the day after that. She really needed some respite.
And about a dozen cans of preserved food.
“She has reason to be. Ah, and Elissa.”
Sadja frowned. She thought back to her moth friends in the forest, and how they had tried to help her even if they did not really understand her.
“I could try to visit her more often,” she suggested. “Just as a way to say thank you.”
“I suppose that’s a very good idea.”
Was this a good place where to fall asleep?
The flames were dying out. A few were still falling from the walls and a very large one was moving towards them, probably some dying Eerie that would be shredded by cover fire if it tried to ever get too close.
Something else rose from the ashes.
The Fae stood panting on both legs. It stumbled forward, golden and silver flames still running over its wounds. One of its horns lay limp on the side of its head. Its eyes were duller with blindess and yet burning with anger.
There will be no rest! It stated. Sadja felt Hunter standing up with a groan and taking his old-fashioned industrial-grade knife. Sadja tried to do the same, but all she managed to do was a tired wail. Her blood, then? But she couldn’t seem to call upon it. She was just so tired… No rest until all is cinder! It shouted in their minds. And all will be Old Country ag-
Something else came up behind it.
A huge, snake-like form, itself burning with the remains of holy fire, but seemingly unscathed.
Sadja froze. The upturned body that caught the Fae by the horns and swung it into a thicket of hooked arms belonged to the same dark-haired woman she had seen in every one of Hunter’s sad smiles.
Next to her, he regarded the scene with a strange look in his one good.
The Fae screamed as arms ripped it apart in wet confetti, making short work of what remained of its body.
Behind them, the people of Belacqua were still feverish with joy. She had been a tad too optimistic about battery fire making short work of the beast.
“-ooooohve,” it purred, lowering its body until it stood level with the Hunter.
“Welcome back home, Lenora,” he said putting his hand against her dead cheek.
“It’s fine like that,” he said. He turned to look at her and put a quick kiss on her forehead, even though that made the Eerie hiss in anger. “All is complete. Now run along. You are a free girl.”
She tried to call upon her blood, but her reserves were spent. She fell on her knees, the world spinning and she couldn’t make it stop.
She could only watch helplessly as he opened his arms.
“Let’s go home,” he said. The Eerie pranced like one of the horses she had seen in her books, its body opened like a maw and it swallowed Hunter whole.
Pic by The Panda
Author’s Notes: Oh my, we’re really about to reach the end. Writing these chapters where storylines are about to get wrapped up is always such a treat. I hope you will find these last few chapters enjoyable. Thank you so much for reading.