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   Chapter 49 Escape By Raven's Way & Hwy 9

The Silverskin By Rian Torr Characters: 12541

Updated: 2018-03-07 22:18

Down below, Old One prowled up to Hellbear—and they circled one another—slowly sizing each other up. Neither flinched. Neither backed down even a bit.

Hellbear stood on hind legs, wailing maniacally. Old One leapt at it, clawing at its bones in a flurry. The two engaged in a battle of monsters fit for legend books.

Hellbear tore back—ripping Old One down by bloody swaths back and forth—and they became entangled in their melee—eight clawed limbs rolling through eddies. Old one's blood gushed out of a dozen gashes, running in rivulets downstream, beneath the hanging bridge—sparking Eva's deep-seated memories.

She smelled Midnight with her tongue. She could almost taste his salty blood on the air. She knew in an instant where she was—and where she had been all of this time. She remembered her promise to the cat never to stray from the Ruddy Stroll. She had failed him after all.

So she chose to fall. She let go of Seven's wrist—who then could only watch helplessly as she slipped from his grip, with Marietta wickedly pulling her free.

"EVA!" he screamed—as she tumbled away—and Marietta lost her hold on Eva in turn. Now the red ravens clawed at Marietta, cawing as they clustered around her, keeping her from grabbing on to Eva again in her descent.

For a few moments, covered by ravens, Marietta hit free fall nearly parallel to Eva—before Aly's hand suddenly shot out—catching Eva's ankle at the last second. Aly bravely saved Eva from plunging to the bottom of the canyon.

However, it was a twisted salvation and redemption, for Aly was not Aly at all, but Faye, so Eva was saving herself from herself, and she felt torn, wanting to die for her sins, but also to live for Seven. She could not bear to perish or to thrive.

They watched Marietta plunge to the riverbed below—where she smacked hard into the rocky bank—and Draca darted out from the water—coiling in around her—slowly tightening—dragging her down into the Payne. Eva was swallowing herself.

Being immobilized, Marietta could not struggle—but she was still conscious while the great snake unlocked his jaw and started gorging on her flesh bag—his first bloodmeal in ages—leaving him hugely bloated—half-submerged by shore.

Meanwhile, the red ravens, bolting for the top like arrows, turned their talons upon Godwin, to put a stop to his assault upon the last bridge-post before the entire thing came crashing down. Seven's father swatted and batted them off in his rage.

Then in the middle of Old One's melee with Hellbear—the black cat started losing strength, outdone by the beast. But thinking of Eva—and how guarding her was all that ever mattered to him—he raged inside to turn the tide of combat. Roaring in an uncanny ferocity—his frame bulked and contorted—turning into a werejaguar—suddenly supercharged with an unnatural verve and vigor for victory—and a powerful new body. He owed it to Evan to save Eva at any cost.

So he slashed back at Hellbear in wild abandon—and took the monster off guard—for his claws were cutting higher up, now that he was bipedal—opening up a window of surprise hits—before Hellbear adjusted to the new angle of cat's attacks.

The bear eventually countered, however, with a series of crushing blows that left Old One staggering backward. The werejaguar then played possum—laying motionless in the rapids—knowing this was his last slim chance at success.

Then when Hellbear moved in to kill him—he suddenly struck up in a flash, seizing the beast from behind by the spine. Screaming at the dark skies, he held Hellbear up in the air, straining now to snap the brute's silver spine in two.

But now Faye sent blue lightning crashing down—electrifying Hellbear in a million arcs—as She

o the lair of Lady Faye, back where the leaves ever trembled on a crisp moonlit night's breeze.

Meanwhile, up above, Seven and Eva climbed onto land at last—and they crawled over to the grassy slope beyond. The Silverskin had stopped singing, the clouds had parted and they saw no signs of trouble anywhere around. It was quiet.

So they lay there for a few minutes, catching their breath, holding each other close—as Eva clung to consciousness. She gazed deep into Seven's eyes—sensing they were finally safe. There would be no surprises this time, no sudden fast scares.

She hugged him close, burying her face in his chest as he stroked her hair. "I know babe. We're going to be okay, now. Everything's going to be alright." He caressed her back trying to reassure her, but she already knew Faye was truly gone.

Despite the strange stillness all around them, however, they soon decided not to test their luck any further, and so they hiked up to the highway beyond. They followed the dotted yellow line out into countryside—under big blue skies.

Putting the woods of French's Forest behind them, they walked along the gravel shoulder, talking about the most mundane things of which they could think, like what food or drink they would enjoy once back to their blessedly boring lives in Old York.

"It will seem like just a bad nightmare someday, " Eva cooed, pulling Seven close to her as they kept putting more and more distance between them and the forest. All she wanted was to get back to where they were so few days ago.

"Yes—it will seem like a dream. We will be able to laugh about, " he replied, reassuringly squeezing her side. If he never heard Faye's voice again for the rest of his life, he would be a happy, most grateful man, forever in debt to the Fates.

But deep inside each of them remained a nagging disturbance, and hard to kill feeling, that no matter how far one ran, no matter how high one climbed—the Silverskin was everpresent. She had tendrils cast out into everything around.

Even as the days pressed on, as the weeks piled up and the months turned over—even as the years added to the distance between them and that weekend—somewhere in the backs of their minds they both knew Faye was lying in wait.

At last, a local farmer recognized Seven and pulled over. "Need a lift?" They climbed into the back of his blue pick-up truck. They rode the rest of the way into New London with wind in their hair—cares for now, for once, far gone.

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