Alexa Stormhart ran like blood. Her heart pounding, her lungs screaming.
There is nowhere you can run, little girl. I will find you, and I will devour you.
The unearthly voice knifed through her head, accompanied by a searing pain that momentarily blinded her vision. She stumbled, only her sheer determination keeping her from falling.
The trees around her were ripping their roots from the ground, their spidery arms reaching for her as they moved, attempting to hinder her progress.
She thought she knew fear; thought that she couldn’t feel more terrified than she did right in that moment. And then came the bone-rattling roar. It’s force shook the forest, and glassy eyes that had been watching her from the shadows suddenly vanished.
He had unleashed the Beast.
Sending a desperate prayer to the Gods, Alexa increased her pace, ignoring her protesting lungs and bruised body.
All the markers she had set on her way into this cursed land were gone. She was running blind. The Gate could be anywhere, and she was running out of time. The Beast had her scent: her fate was sealed.
She barrelled ahead, noting the stationary trees she now passed. She must be far enough ahead that the dark power hadn’t reached her yet. Either that or He didn’t feel the need to use his power now that his Beast was on her trail.
Alexa threw herself behind a tree, every breath searing her throat. She couldn’t run anymore.
An idea suddenly flooded her mind, and the flicker of hope it brought nearly caused her to collapse. It would be unforgivable. But it was her only chance.
Tears streamed down her face as she withdrew a dagger from her belt, and she desperately tried to force her shaking hand to steady.
The knife sliced across her palm easily, the pain barely registering in her mind.
And then she was speaking a language she had long since forbidden herself from using. The words seared her tongue, and her knees went from under her as her entire body rejected what she was doing.
She couldn’t stop the convulsion that speared through her, pain rippling through every cell of her body. The new voice in her mind, so welcome despite the agony it brought her.
What the hell is happening?
Alexa reached out her trembling hand, watching as it faded in and out of view. She wiped her palm across the ground, a smear of crimson following in it’s wake.
She bent over, continuing to speak the forbidden language as she traced symbols into the blood stained dirt.
What is this? What have you done?
Alexa finished the incantation, her mouth filled with the coppery taste of her own blood. The ground vibrated beneath her as the Beast drew closer. She refused to look behind. Refused to meet the demonic eyes of the monster as it finished it’s hunt.
The ghost of a smile passed her lips.