Two obsidians appeared in the doorway of the cell, holding long metal pikestaffs. One stepped two paces into the chamber, looking throughout it for the sound of the unfamiliar voice. His head tipped back and forth as he peered intently at Paign and Gudrun.
Danielle couldn’t believe it. Not only was Bettina somehow still hidden from the guards, the one standing in the cell was within reach of Anders and Freida, unaware of the imminent threat.
Again, Danielle saw the definition of Bettina’s image strengthen as she tearfully embraced—and was embraced by—her mother and brother.
But now, so could the obsidian. Atmospheric shreds of a third person flashed before him in the midst of the boy and woman he’d guarded since their arrival. Quickly assessing where the interloper’s midsection must be, he immediately hoisted his pike to his shoulder, gripped it tightly and cocked his arm. It was the last thing he ever did.
“No, you don’t!” Anders surged up in front of the guard and plunged his sword into the gargoyle’s chest.
The second guard, plainly confused by what it, too, was seeing, saw his comrade tip back from the impact of the sword strike. Though he didn’t see the sword, he understood his partner’s motion. As the second guard stepped into the room to defend the other guard, Anders removed his sword and became momentarily visible.
Even as the first guard crumpled to the cell’s floor, the second lunged at the place he’d seen Anders, swinging his outstretched arms towards where Anders’s head was.
Freida, who had remained squatting on the floor during the first fight, hurled herself into Anders’s midsection, knocking him out of the way of the arcing talons. She felt a rush of wind as the talons swept over her head. Before the guard could try again, she stabbed him with her dagger.
Reflexively, the obsidian swept its arms away from its chest. Without knowing what he struck, Freida was backhanded across the room, sliding into Tiny.
Infuriated by this assault on his mistress, Tiny bounded towards the creature, howling revenge.
Only the now unconcealed sounds of the rescuers provided clues to the remaining guard. Not understanding what he confronted, he turned to face the howling ghost, squatting defensively low just as Tiny leapt. Had the obsidian been able to see the dog, Tiny would have been doomed. As it was, the guard leaned forward and reared up just as Tiny reached the height of his leap, ramming his stone-like shoulder into the dog’s ribs. With a sickening crunch, several ribs were shattered and Tiny fell in a heap on the far side of the chamber. Only his whimpering told Freida and the others that he’d survived the blow.
Enraged, the obsidian roared out, “Show yourselves, cowards! You are thieves and knaves to do battle as apparitions!”
“I would if I could, you fell beast!” Anders bellowed in return. “I don’t know why you can’t see us. Perhaps you’ll see this!” he yelled, brandishing his sword in the air as he ran to engage his foe.
Before Anders could say anything else, the obsidian was on him, swinging his talons at the area the voice seemed to come from.
Anders barely deflected five consecutive blows. The harsh clanking of talons against his heat-seasoned sword rang out like a church bell.
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