With the blunt back of the scythe, she clouted the nearby wolves down. Rather than killing them, she had hoped to force the demons out by allowing them to escape the unconscious bodies. However, she quickly noticed that the fallen wolves soon regained their senses and staggered up like unfeeling marionettes. She didn’t want to kill them as they were simply the victims of demonic possession. But, it seemed it would be hard to get rid of the demons without killing their wolf hosts. She had thought this might be the case, but she was nonetheless disappointed.
“Hyrts, hyrts, i hyrts..”
Essairyn grimaced at the guttural grumbling of the wolves. It was an unpleasant, distorted sound of pain and ire. She gripped her scythe tighter and vowed to give them all a quick death. Taking a light breath, she dashed into the horde and swung the scythe in frenetic spirals. She let her body spin with the shifting centripetal force and took out the wolves in her erratic path in seamless, constant motions.
After whirling out of the horde onto the other side closest to the forest, she quickly gauged the situation. Of the two dozen or so wolves she sliced, only about half remained on the ground. The red glow of the fallen wolves’ eyes faded into dullness, and their bodies began dissipating. The standing wolves growled cautiously while repositioning themselves to attack. Seeing this, Essairyn readied her stance. She had to take down as many as she could before they reversed their focus onto the farm instead.
However, as if reading her mind, the wolves backed away and resumed sprinting towards the barn. Caught by the turn of events, Essairyn silently cursed and pursued the wolves. Her mind quickly calculated all the possible courses to overtake or beat the wolves to the farm. Circumventing them would take too long, but if she cut through them, she might get tangled up and still waste time. There remained only one other option: fly.
Essairyn gathered her magic into a disk once more, but before it fully materialized, she noticed that the scythe was losing its shape. Even though she could form an object while casting magic, it seemed that she wasn’t able to maintain two full formed magical objects. It was also possible that the scythe was too new and strained her magic. Just as she deduced this and let the scythe disappear, the rear wolves swiveled their heads and fixed their crimson eyes on her.
Startled by their sudden stares, she barely dodged their lunges. Cursing again, she realized she had miscalculated. While she had held all their attention earlier, with their numbers, some could easily remain behind to attack her while the rest ran. Wolves were smart after all. At the current distance, it would only take them ten seconds before they reached the barn. Gritting her teeth, she sprung as high into the air as she could, hoping she could gain enough height to land on the disk above the wolves’ range. But with the short reaction time after dodging, she wasn’t able to reach as high as she desired. She would have to hover-hop to a safe height before stepping onto the disk.
Just as she took that midair jump, though, a wolf vaulted up and grazed her calf with its claws. Unexpected pain flared in her leg as she wobbled forward in the air. She was only fifteen feet high; she needed one more jump. She leapt again, reached twenty feet, and grabbed the edge of the disk she lowered in the process. She angled the side of the disk she was holding upwards in order to get a more secure grip as she directed the disk higher and flew toward the barn roof.
“Essairyn!” Darren yelled anxiously while waving his arms.
All the animals were now safely inside the barn, but he was uneasy about Essairyn’s precarious situation. He wondered whether he should retreat into the barn with Mr. Welfort as planned, or if there was any way he could help her. A sense of guilt bubbled in his gut, and he turned, slammed, and bolted the door closed.
“Mr. Welfort! Barricade the door! I’m going to help Essairyn!”
“What?! She said to stay inside the barn!” the aghast farmer yelled.
“Don’t worry, I never said I was leaving it!” Darren forcefully smiled.
The farmer watched as Darren ran to the ladder and climbed up to the hay loft. Shaking his head, Mr. Welfort could only mutter in grim mirth at the madness of these adventurers. But he did as he was instructed and quickly went about blocking the door.
Meanwhile, Essairyn beat the wolves to the barn and landed on top of the roof. Her arms were a little shaky, and her amused mind, even in this situation, thought that she would’ve lost her grip if it had been her body from Earth. To be fair, most people would probably too. After all, even though she had a weaker body from before her sudden illness, it was still relatively normal. She just couldn’t handle strenuous exertion; otherwise, her lungs and limbs would burn viciously.
Returning to her senses, she steeled her gaze on the oncoming wolves and lifted her hand. The motion erected a transparent wall a few meters from the barn, and with the end of the gesture, magic needles darted from her open palm. They ruthlessly pricked the wolves’ skin and exploded in showers of lavender particles and strewn fur. The forefront wolves smashed into the wall while the middle ones were punctured into submission. The rearmost wolves reflexively retracted their bodies from the range of the needle barrage. They howled indignantly at the plight of their pack and scattered in serpentine directions. Some remained in front of the barn, outside of Essairyn’s range, while others encircled the sides and the back.
The girl wasn’t bothered by their maneuvers until she spied some streaking toward the farmhouse. The windows situated on the ground level would make it easy for the wolves to burst inside. But if she headed over, she would put the farm animals, Darren, and Mr. Welfort into peril. Even though she didn’t know that Mr. Welfort was barricading the door, he wasn’t yet finished, so the doors were susceptible to breaking. A roundtrip from the barn and back would take a minimum of twenty seconds while flying. That was enough time for the wolves to regather and stampede the barn doors. Not to mention, picking them off one by one would increase the trip duration.
A light sweat veiled the back of her neck at her predicament. But before she settled on an alternative course of action, Darren flung the hay loft’s doors open. The wolves snapped their focus onto the now exposed second floor. Although the floors of a barn were taller than a residential building, the height was still barely attainable for the wolves whose possession elevated their physical strength.
Essairyn watched with trepidation as Darren heaved a pitchfork tied to the hay loft’s conveyor rope at the wolves. They snarled in aggravation when the pitchfork viciously raked the side of one of their members. The wolf yelped upon impact and tottered to the ground after Darren roughly retrieved the pitchfork with a vigorous pull.
He perspired in tension. He had never seriously injured a living animal before. While he had played plenty of fighting games that involved killing life-like creatures, he had been detached from the bloody act as it wasn’t reality. But upon seeing the grimy scarlet flowing from the wolf’s side, the shredded flesh and bone, and the rolling of the enraged yet frightened wolf’s eyes, his stomach lurched queasily. This was his new reality now. He steadied his sentiments, gathered his willpower and continued accurately piercing the wolves in cold blood.