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A Need for Air

Freya ran.  She had nowhere to go and no idea what she would do, but she ran.  She did not want to be like Lilith, and had no memory of a time when she already had been.  She had made it off the ship and eventually to the cobbles of the city, but the flight from her brothers was a blur in her mind now.

Once she was on the streets she kept moving without any direction in mind.  The city that she had taken over a year to memorize was a labyrinth of metal and brick.  She ran down alleys, past pedestrians and hunters prowling the streets, and traveled in circles by accident at least twice before she recognized something.

She had returned to the alleys across from city hall, behind the wax museums and polish factory, behind the one lonely mounted lamp in the tunnel that lead to the borough known as the Clockwork Close.  She had returned to the place where her brother had been killed.

She stopped running and laid down against the wall, next to the mouth of the tunnel, breathing the sooty and disgusting Babbage air deeply.  She hated the taste and smell of this city, filled with toxic vapors and making her lungs feel like she was drowning in sludge.  

Eventually, slowly, she began to breathe a little easier though she was still panting.  She turned her head to look into the darkened passage behind her where Rufus had been attacked.  Something had cleaned the street since she had been here two days ago.  There was no sign of her brothers broken needle or his blood.  She lowered her head respectfully, making a low mourning yowl and then stopped herself.  If she cried out her brothers would find her that much quicker.

Freya stopped breathing, stopped moving, as she heard the sound of a low predatory growl nearby.  Too late she remembered that her brothers knew where Rufus had been slain, and so did the wolf that had killed him.

She wasn’t ready, she hadn’t even caught her breath yet, and a one-eyed lycan closed on her.  She reached for her knife as she tried to dive out of the way, she had managed to save her neck but the wolf caught her leg in its jaws.

Freya screamed as she could feel her blood running down her leg and through her fur as the wolf ripped into her calf.  Freya drew her silver knife but the wolf twisted its head and used its size to throw Freya into the tunnel.  Freya crashed into the brick wall and crumpled to the ground as she heard her bottles hit against one another in her pouch.  She had forgotten about them and a rose scented one had just broken open.  

She turned to look back at the wolf which was closing on her slowly.  It had seen her pick up the silver knife and was being careful.  She struggled to stand but her leg gave out from underneath her.  As the wolf weighed its attack, Freya fumbled in her pouch with her free hand for something she wished she did not have to use, knowing that it would make her almost helpless.

She had picked the wrong bottle on the first try and tossed it aside.  The wolf was getting ready to pounce for the next time she would turn to read a label.  She didn’t have another chance.  Freya lifted the pouch into the air and smashed it hard against the ground several times unleashing a torrent of smells from the broken perfume bottles.  

Freya winced and desperately held her breath as she struggled to crawl away.  She didn’t look back at the wolf, she knew that it was closing in on her now, but would be forced to back away at the scent from the perfumes and a wolfsbane concentrate.

She needed to reach the other end of the tunnel, she had to or else she would soon be as helpless as she had left Lucas earlier.  She crawled as fast as she could, her wounds protesting and her eyes watering at the struggle.  She was near the end when she saw the one eyed lycanthrope had run around the street and was now waiting for her at the end of this tunnel too.  She gasped and then doubled over coughing and choking.  The Babbage air that she hated so much would have been a blessed relief as her vision blurred.

Her body began to shake after a moment as she curled into a ball, her wounded leg all but forgotten despite its torment.  As Freya struggled the shadows grew more pronounced to her and the colors of the city were beginning to turn to wood.  The walls of the tunnel began to melt into moss and the twin tunnel exits appeared to be frowning at her.  The hallucinations were beginning.

She kept a grip on her knife as she watched the wolf slowly grow in her vision taking on a demonic wolven form.  She watched this terrible transformation and tried to tell herself she was only hallucinating, that it was not real, but the wolf was real and it was going to prevent her escape.  She was trapped in the tunnel, and the wolf was reaching out it’s claw to collect her.

She wished that Prometheus was here, or Lucas, or Kuga.  One of her brothers would have saved her somehow even with the poison in the air.  But she didn’t want to be like Lilith.   She swung her knife at the hand but she didn’t hit anything, likely sailing through empty air as a claw grabbed her paw and twisted it, forcing her to let go of the knife.  

Just as she was pulled out of the tunnel a short hiss made Freya aware that something else had just entered the tunnel.  A behemoth made of shadow crashed into the wolf.  The demonwolf and the behemoth fought one another with claws tearing each other apart.  Blood was oozing out of them, flying everywhere staining the moss covered walls and wooden buildings.  Freya turned away from this madness, this mirage sure of only one thing.  Something had saved her.  Something she did not want to be rescued by.

She grabbed her knife and started to crawl for the tunnel at the other end.  She had forgotten that the source of her hallucinations and coughing fits were on that side of the tunnel. She barely made it two feet before she was forced to stop another coughing fit taking her.

Freya turned back to find that the shadowy behemoth that had saved her was hovering over her now, eyes glowing in the darkness and ready to take her.  Terrified she stabbed out after it with her knife.  She felt pressure on the other end of the knife, she’d managed to stab the shadow and it let out a groan of pain.  But then she felt something sharp in her neck.  She had a moment to enjoy her leg and lungs going numb before she drifted into a dreamless sleep.

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