Breath burned in J.T.’s throat as he came after the shadow creatures with his old but never-used claymore. He knew how to use it, but he’d never had the opportunity.
Not until today, and it wasn’t nearly as fun as he’d always imagined it would be.
His body knew how to move, though, and it was different from fighting with kendo sticks and wooden staves, as they had in practice for exhibition matches at the renaissance festival. Wielding the longer, heavier sword was much, much different than those shorter, lighter weapons.
And yet, his body knew.
He didn’t know how many of them there were, but it seemed like a lot.
Kellin went down, scream ending in a gurgle. J.T. plowed into that circle, blade flashing, and passed through to the other side.
The ghosts in the mist shrieked, falling on Grays and shadow-creatures.
Marin ducked under his arm and behind him as he cleaved one of the shadow-creatures through the shoulder. The blade stuck for a moment. J.T. cursed, lips curling back in a snarl.
He yanked the blade back, feeling it catch, hearing the rasp of blade on something hard—bone, metal, something—and he cursed again. It was stuck, and stuck fast.
Damn it all!
Another shadow filled the void left behind by the one he’d already felled, the one with his blade stuck in it. Its ugly face split into a cruel parody of a grin and it lunged, clawed hands starting to uncurl.
Claws. Avoid them. Dodging to either side wasn’t going to do the trick.
J.T. counter-lunged, driving at the thing’s chest. He avoided the claws, but he didn’t have enough momentum to push the thing back.
It shoved him down onto his back. He hit hard, shoulders first, all the wind knocked out of him by the impact. The creature loomed over him, now snarling. It pinned his arms and legs, not that he could struggle to do anything but breathe for a few agonizing seconds.
Well, he thought as he tried to suck air into his lungs. I guess this is it. Had a good run, right?
Something dark gray sailed into his range of vision. It caught the creature alongside the head with a loud ringing sound and the creature roared, spewing salvia and other things that burned onto J.T. It collapsed sideways, twitching, its weight half pinning him. His eyes widened and he just stared for a moment, stunned.
The thing’s head was half crushed from a simple cooking tool, heavy though it was. A shudder went through him.
Carolyn dropped the cast iron dutch oven and grabbed his arm with both of her hands, starting to haul him to his feet. “Get up, Jay!”
He blinked rapidly as he shoved the thing off of himself, using her arm to scramble to his feet. He managed to take another couple breaths as he steadied against Carolyn’s side and watched Marin, who was there with her. Marin planted her foot against the shoulder of the creature-corpse with his claymore stuck in it, wrapped her hands around the blade’s hilt, jiggled the weapon, then slid it free. She held the heavy sword out to him one-handed, point down, her expression grim.
“We’ve got work to do.”
J.T. grasped the weapon as if it was some sort of talisman. Carolyn grabbed the dutch oven again and started to dart off in Marin’s wake, toward another knot of shadows and Greys.
He grabbed her hand before she was out of reach, spinning her back toward him. Carolyn blinked.
“Jay, it’s not—”
“I know,” he breathed. “Just be careful.”
She smiled, nodded, and squeezed his hand. He let her go, gulped in a few more breaths, and launched back into the fray a few steps behind.
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