Isabella pointed straight ahead. “We go that way,” she said. “Don’t stop unless I tell you to. We’re looking for a way out of here now, before there are too many of the teddybears.”
To her immense relief David did as he was told, moving swiftly at last, his head swinging from side-to-side as he tried to keep any potential threats in view. She followed behind him, her head barely moving at all and the Kris out, probing into the air. The last thing she wanted to do was do through into pitch blackness, but right now that would be better than being caught by the Teddybears. She wanted to get the Sukhev Da out too, the Teddybear-killing knife, but she knew that since her stroke she couldn’t handle a knife in both hands. If the Teddybear’s started closing in she’d switch knives and pray that she could get them out of this.
David moaned softly; Isabella caught the flash of movement at the corner of her eye. They were fast, low to the ground, and were getting better camouflaged now that colour was returning to the landscape. She estimated that there were four of them out there at the moment, still wary of approaching when their prey was still together and obviously healthy. He flinched, throwing an arm up, and then veered slightly left.
“Stay on course!” she said, and he looked back, saw her, and corrected himself. Nothing came at them, and she assumed that he’d just imagined another streak of colour through the air. His breath sounded ragged, as though he were panting.
The blade of the knive caught on something and she swiftly twisted and opened, peering through. A narrow rock ledge was a step away, high above a black drop and there was the sound of running water. There was no sign of any way off the ledge except by falling, so she closed it up again and looked about her. David had gained about eight feet on her, so she hurried a little, but the Teddybears still weren’t revealing themselves.
“Crap!” David fell, clutching at his ankle, and she almost groaned out loud. She stood over him and reached down a hand.
“Stand,” she commanded. “I don’t care if it hurts, it’ll hurt more if they catch you.”
“I can’t,” said David. He rolled a little and ignored her hand. “I think it’s broken.”
“Get up!” Isabella stared at him, and her other hand automatically put the Kris away and freed the Da from its sheath instead. “Get up, David!”
There was a sudden blur of motion and then a Teddybear was stood next to both of them. It opened its mouth revealing three rows of teeth, triangular and pointed like a shark’s, and then sank them into David’s knee.
He screamed and kicked at it with his other foot, which seemed to pass straight through it. Then the Da plunged down, Isabella’s aim straight and true, and as it reached the Teddybear it seemed as though for a moment there were a hundred Teddybears stretching off to both the left and right, and a hundred Das striking at their heads. Someone in the hundred one Teddybear connected with the Da and started to scream, and then the images all closed up and the Teddybear fell backwards, the Da pulling out of its flesh with a sucking sound, and brown ichor rising out of the wound. It bubbled as it met the air and seemed to thicken, and moments later the entire Teddybear stiffened and stopped moving.
Isabella glared at David, and then scanned around her.
“Get up,” she demanded. “Get up if you want to live.”