It was her fault. Nadine hadn’t just failed to save Metropolis, but she had gotten her friends killed doing it. JC and Phillipa wanted to retreat, but Nadine had insisted they stay. It was her fault. All of this was Nadine’s fault.

Now Audrey and Horera had come to what was left of Eden’s Metropolis and actually had the power to hurt the massive nightmare daemon—mostly Audrey had the power. Still, it was enough. They could avenge JC, Phillipa and the people of Metropolis. The daemon would pay, and then the Prophets who summoned it.

Horera had made remarkably quick progress up to the daemon’s face—showing no fear for the incredible height or violently heaving uncertain climb.

“Bark!” Horera slammed the blade of her guisarme into the daemon’s left eye with both hands, “Guisarme-san this eye! Horera go other!”

Even as the determined dogling gave her instructions her weapon animated and began attacking of its own volition. Horera scrabbled over the daemon’s roaring snout and straight for the other eye. Nadine smiled grimly. Not only did Horera seem to be doing real damage to the daemon, but now the beast was blinded.

Aura Prisma,” Audrey pointed her scepter at the daemon.

The wizard’s mantle was blown back as a single thin rainbow beam shot from the tip of her scepter for the daemon’s heart. Color exploded from the point of impact, and the daemon shrieked in hopeless agony—just like so many people had during the daemon’s attack. Nadine kissed her last exploding arrow before nocking it to her bow.

“Come on, end this.”

Nadine centered her arrow on the point of impact for Audrey’s last spell. It struck true and went deep! The beast’s final howl was interrupted by the sound of the explosion and the whole monster began burning away from the inside out!

“Arf!” Horera grabbed her guisarme and leapt clear of the combusting monster.

Nadine stepped forward to catch Horera, but landed on her face as her injuries forced themselves back to the forefront. Nadine couldn’t even lift her face from the pavement. Could Horera survive?

Pluma Casus!

Horera touched down lightly next to Nadine and soon she and Audrey had rolled Nadine onto her back. Nadine’s head was supported by Audrey’s lap as her friends worried over her wounds. At least they’d finished the daemon before she died. She expected her strength to fade quickly; she’d already pushed further through her injuries than should have been possible. Instead, Nadine felt her strength returning. She was feeling better.

“Wh-what happened?” Nadine blinked.

It was night, and cold like the dead of winter. Something was familiar. They were back in their dream garden! Nadine recognized the portals arranged around them, they were on the platform above her house in the dream world.

Audrey laughed in relief, “You were having a nightmare! I guess, we all were.”

“Horera glad Nadine okay,” Horera sighed and dropped her chin into Nadine’s lap.

“When did I fall asleep?” Nadine craned her head to look back at her own portal.

“I don’t know,” Audrey smiled, “But we’d better get back to our worlds. There’s still a lot to do tonight.”

Nadine could see Metropolis through her portal. Only a few buildings showed significant damage at all! JC was cradling Nadine, with Phillipa next to him. They were crying.

JC’s voice came through the portal, “Come on, Nadine! Wake up! You can’t die! Not after you beat that thing! We promised your dad we’d be okay! Wake up!”

“JC! Phillipa!” Nadine glanced at Audrey and Horera, who both nodded to her.

“Go, we’ll catch up later.”










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