Small Worlds Part 37

“Ryan!” Crystal shouted as Enki’s hand enveloped Ryan’s face. Enki flew off with Ryan, circling back towards his own castle. Athena glanced at her, then back at the oncoming army.

“Go!” Athena said to Crystal, “I’ll hold them here!”

Crystal gave a single curt nod and took off running after the flying pair, swinging her path wide to move around the varcolac army.

Sending Crystal was a tactical decision, Athena told herself, she is older and more experienced – both in general and in terms of knowing how to deal with Enki. She almost convinced herself of that – but then she saw Bast again, and felt her teeth clench. You did not send Crystal to assist Ryan because you want to make sure you personally gut this bitch, she lied to herself.

As the varcolacs drew closer, Bast still at their head, a few were finally cut down by sustained demonic arrow bombardment. Most of them, however, were only slightly slowed by having shafts of metal and wood jutting out of their skin.

Athena couldn’t worry about them. They were a threat, to be sure, but Bast needed to be her primary target. The first side to find themselves down a god would be at a disadvantage.

And you want to personally gut this bitch, she admitted. Then the time for reflection was over – Bast and the varcolacs were at the wall.

The varcolacs were scaling the wall, their claws digging furrows in the stone that allowed them to climb with the speed of a startled cat ascending a curtain. When they reached the top, they were met with demon blades.

Unfortunately, Bast didn’t follow her forces up the wall. She stopped short of the edge and instead used her two pistols to begin picking off targets to give them a foothold. Athena realized that allowing Bast to stand there and pick them off one by one wasn’t an option – the only thing to do, then, was to meet her on the field. Athena leapt, carrying herself over to Bast on a bust of air. The Egyptian goddess took a couple shots as Athena traversed the distance, but Athena was shifting her course as she drifted, and both went wide.

Then they were in melee. Athena’s sword flashed down, but Bast blocked it with her right pistol, bringing the left in an arc towards Athena’s face. A quick flick of Athena’s sword and that left hand pistol’s shot went wild, but that gave Bast a chance to bring the right one back in line for a shot…

Athena knew she couldn’t make a mistake here. If she could deflect every shot for just a bit, Bast would have to reload. But if she missed even one, it would be the end of her.

Steel rang against steel, each time just a fraction of a second before the report of gunfire. Athena’s ears started to ring from the sound even when there was no clash of metal, but she pushed that aside, ignoring everything but Bast’s eyes and guns, until, finally – click.

The moment the guns clicked empty, Athena brought her sword in towards Bast’s neck. The other woman jerked her head back and tossed the guns aside. Now she was on the defensive, dodging and weaving between Athena’s blows.

“If I didn’t know better, Athena, I’d think you’d taken me stabbing you in the back and shooting your boyfriend in head personally,” Despite being forced back with every strike, Bast was grinning as she spoke, “but then again, you don’t have feelings, do you?”

Athena didn’t rise to the bait, instead keeping her assault up. But Bast had the reflexes to back up her cat-like reputation, and Athena found herself menacing only air with each blow.

Athena twisted her hand, trying to impede Bast’s movements – but the other woman was able to focus entirely on her protection, and she countered, undoing the changes to reality as quickly as Athena wove them. Their fight had taken them out of the bulk of the army. Bast flipped away, getting enough clear space to reach into her nanoverse and pull out a sword of her own.

Now the ringing returned as Bast began to parry Athena’s blows, and Athena had to return the favor. They were evenly matched in this – at least, as long as Bast kept backing away. Eventually you’ll run out of space. Eventually I will get you.

“You didn’t even flinch when I shot him in the head. Barely even blinked when his brains splattered across the street. Did he really mean nothing to you? Or are you just a sociopath?”

“Shut. Up.” Athena hated letting even that slip, but the woman’s barbs were beginning to land home.

“Oh, you can speak! Lovely.” Bast brought her sword down in an overhead blow that Athena deflected, giving her an opening to kick Bast in the gut and – for a moment – silence her. Athena tried to take advantage of the blow but Bast was already twisting away.

“Were you lovers? You two had been travelling together for so long, and-” whatever Bast was about to say was cut off by a grunt of pain as Athena finally landed a blow, slicing a six-inch furrow in Bast’s bicep.

Bast again flipped away to get more distance between them, her free hand going over to injury to stem the red flow. She hissed in pain at Athena. “You know why the varcolac left you alone?” Bast said, ducking under another blow as she did. Her eyes flashed in a combination of anger and pain. “It’s because I told them to. This is between you and me.”

Athena didn’t care. She’d drawn first blood, Bast had dropped her guard, and she readied herself to finally land a killing blow…

Until she was thrown off balance by the ground erupting beneath her feet. She did her best to roll with it as a beast erupted from the ground. It was a serpent, nearly thirty feet long, with green scales. Two heavily clawed arms emerged from near its head, and it hissed angrily at Athena. A lindworm, Athena thought, realizing suddenly how exposed she was.

“Well,” said Bast, her grin returning, “between you and me and Tyr. Say hi to Athena, Tyr!”

The lindworm reared back and opened its jaws. Unlike dragons, did not breathe fire – instead, it spat a line of acid at Athena, who had to frantically rush out of the way, diving behind a boulder large enough to shield her.

“Aww, I think he missed you,” Bast taunted, reaching into her nanoverse to pull out a fresh pistol. Athena was glad to see that the injured arm hung limply at her side – she must have cut the muscle badly. Just not enough to get Bast to cease her endless prattle. “Since you’re about to die, any last words you want to say to your ex?”

Athena could smell and hear the rock dissolving under the acidic spray of the Lindworm that had been Tyr.

“No,” Athena said, loudly enough for Bast to hear. “My friend is dead. I have nothing to say to the abomination that was spawned from him.”

“Pity, that. Oh well,” Athena could hear Bast cocking the pistol, “guess it’s time for you to die, then.”

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