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Scoured Mind

The passages and buildings began to crumble as Tepic fled, shouting for Janus who replied with a howl that said he was coming.  

There were loud groans and the popping of wood and stone as behind him a sinkhole begun to suck everything into the ground starting at the center and growing, while the wind picked up and began to blow all the debris towards the center as a small tornado began to grow out of the hole in the ground and reaching for the sky.

Running as fast as he had ever run in his life Tepic fled the destruction and almost ran into Janus as the wolf turned a corner and met him.  Tepic had never seen the wolf, nor the man in life, but the wolf that he encountered as he ran through the area was a sleek, furry black wolf that looked like Rasend in shape and size, with white on his chest and some very colorful pants.

“RUN JANUS!”  Tepic shouted as he ran, his marbles falling out of his pouches as he righted himself.  He abandoned them with some reluctance, but not enough to slow him down.  It was much faster to leave running, what had felt like an hour strolling carefully and taking the scenery in had taken less than eight running.   

Tepic was jubilant as they turned the final corner, and then dismayed when he saw the birds.  The ones that Tepic had seen trying to take him away before were still there, only now they were trying to break through, and what’s more they were blocking their escape!

Tepic was about to tell Janus to hang onto him, and they’d rush through and get to Maddox when he remembered that Janus was dead.  He didn’t have a form to go back to, and besides, he wasn’t sure if he could do it with someone looking!  

Janus growled, but spoke intelligibly enough for Tepic, “I’ve been killing ones that get through.  I’ll do my best to keep them off of us, just get us somewhere safe!”

The passage behind them was sinking into the sinkhole.  Tepic thought quickly and grabbed the net he had, thinking to bat the birds away with it, and then had an even better idea!

“Yer take one end o’ the net and I’ll take this end.” Tepic explained quickly. “We’ll try to both fit behind it much as possible as we plow through!”

There was no time for anything else:  They each grabbed one side of the net and dove forward, as the sinkhole sank the ground where they had been standing.  The birds tried to swarm them, but they managed to push back the ones in front of them while Tepic continued to let the string flow through his fingers.  

The birds pecked and scratched at them and the nets as they passed, but the two barreled through.  Some bird manage to swarm in behind them trying to get at their backs, but the two didn’t have time to fight them off or slow down.

Tepic finally saw hints of light behind the sea of dark birds, they broke through the sea of birds and then the light engulfed them.

—-

Tepic opened his eyes as if from a short nap, a dream.  He was back in the room…. at least, Tepic was.  There was no sigh of the birds, but Janus was a glowing, wolfman shaped cloud.  “Blimey mate! Yer a ghost!”

Janus looked down at himself, surprised to still see claws instead of his human hands.  He shook his head, “And I was still getting used to being dead.  And a wolf.”

“Well, ain’t quite all wolf now, though it’s difficult ter see too good, but yer looks more like Tenderpaws does, recon that’s the shape yer soul feels best in, like me as I am..”

Janus seemed to consider that a moment, “You weren’t always a boy…were you?”

“Nope, I’m a fox really, but yer can have far more fun with hands an legs an stuff..”, Tepic said, grinning up at the glowing figure.

Janus couldn’t help but laugh, though it sounded different than when he had been a man.  The boy could have been right.  “Yes, I wish I had mine back, I could help you restrain our friend there…”

Arnold, who had not moved of his own volition since being shot, was now twitching and convulsing slightly.  Tepic dived forward, pressing down to stop Mr Arnold thrashing, and yelled at the top of his voice, “Miss!”

Maddox came running through the nets, her feet and hair getting tangled repeatedly as she scrambled through it.  When she got there she saw Janus, her eyes widening she screeched in terror and rage.  Janus had seen enough women scorned to jump out of the window, surprised and pleased that for once he wouldn’t be nursing cuts and bruises for weeks.

“Drat!” exclaimed Tepic, and looking up at the doctor, he quickly explained “That were Janus, a friend, think Mr Arnold is comin back, yer’d best look after ‘im, i gotta go follow Janus!”  With that, he slipped expertly through the maze, dashed down the stairs and out into the street, pausing a moment to close the door behind him, unaware that he had left the doctor’s mouth opening like a guppy’s.

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