I push through the crowd inside the tent and search for Q. I had dropped my Rod at the entrance – it has not yet been burned. I find her in conversation with V in a corner. She is laughing. This angers me even more. I march towards her. V has noticed me approaching and rises to greet me. Q beams as she sees me, but does not rise.
“My dear, you’re back! What took you so long?” she says pleasantly
“Why! Why did you do it?” I scream without preamble.
“What are you talking about,” she asks, a frown forming on her forehead.
“You know what I’m -”
“No, she doesn’t,” V cut in.
For a moment, I am confused. But the smug expression on V’s face turns my anger into a boiling rage.
“‘Why?’ Of course you want to know why. With your little journal and the tiny scribbles,” he says with a high pitched mocking voice, gesturing with his hands.
I feel close to tears, the rage mounting each second. I say nothing.
“You’re wasting away your talents!” V bellows, “Pining over an ordinary human. Do you not know who you are!”
“V, quiet. We don’t want the family to be upset.” Q whispers to him under her breath.
“They’re drunk out of their skulls!” V dismisses them with a wave. “This one! This one was supposed to be the best. But look at her. Crying! Crying over ‘love’! There is no place for love here, my dear. Only family. And duty. And murder of the ones that didn’t die when they were supposed to.” V spits the words at me.
Spv senses my dilemma.
“Oh. I see.” he says quietly. Distraught, I turn my eyes at him, just as he stands up and begins to walk.
“No!” I call out. He does not turn. His gait is steady, and I see he has already been caught in their line of sight – the rabid, sickly green eyes turn towards him, sensing him rather than seeing him. They pounce, their many fangs tearing into him. Blood gushes out, as one tears his calf off, while other bites a chunk out of his shoulder.
Time seems to be moving slowly, as I rise to my feet and cry out as my Rod hits the first one right between its left hind leg and abdomen. The Rod goes through, like passing through air, and air is what is left where a moment below a killer lurked. With a swift motion, I get the other two.
I stand exhausted, paralyzed almost from that sudden rush of adrenaline. It seems far away and unreal – Spv’s strangled cry. He’s still alive. I’ve lost him once, I can’t lose him again. This thought brings me back to reality and I finally look at him.
I fall to my knees – his shoulder looks terrible, what is left of it is mashed to a pulp. His leg looks worse, with the calf torn off. I rush back to our earlier hiding spot where I had left my bag. There are some bandages in it.
When I return, Spv’s eyes are closed. I slap his face a few times and call out his name. I lift him and cradle his head in my lap.
“Wake up, they’re gone. The spirits are gone,” I cry, “Wake up, Spv! They can’t hurt you anymore. Wake up, wake up, wake up…”
He does not.
V’s sneer is the last thing I see before turning my heel and walking away. Celebrations are on in full swing in the tent. Which means weapons have been stowed away. I reach the entrance, pick up my Rod and enter the tent again.
I release the undead dogs on to my family.