For just a moment, that was the face of Paign she’d seen framed in the cabin’s doorway. But even as the horrendous demon-creature had risen behind him, Paign’s face had slowly changed, as if the beast’s rising brought forth from him the full bloom of Paign’s suffering and hatred.
Bettina’s breathing came in gasps now.
Her vision, she knew, was surging again to the place where she’d wakened in a sweat.
“Oh, Momma…please, no. Please…”
She looked across the sun-drenched glade. Her mother and brother tightly hugged one another. The hellish creature stood beside them, chuckling without mirth. He was saying something, something mocking from the defiant stare on his face, but she couldn’t hear it. She saw his muscular body stiffen and flex. Imperious, his talons—for Bettina could see them clearly, knife-like and horrible—were stretched around their necks, a shimmering necklace of doom. Despair strained at her heart.
“Please, no. Please!”
And then, as before, the vision ended. Screams still rising in her throat, her mother, brother and the captor were gone. Bettina knew not whether to believe they were abducted by the creature or outright killed by him.
A second horrible cry—again, her own cry—frightened her completely awake.
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