It’s not as terrifying as it sounds to break your mind. Most things that are broken can be repaired.
And now I needed two minds more than I needed sanity. One part of my mind to fight. A mind is no good without a live body.
The other to prove lesson one.
We are never alone in the universe.
Not even on the Other Side.
I called for help. Only the proud don’t call for help when they are in trouble. About to be hacked apart by a goblin horde counts as trouble, heaps of it. So I focused the clam part of my mind, the part not preoccupied with avoiding goblin blows and called,
“Ladies of the Other Side!” Slice, dodge, kick, grunt. “I call in my favor!”
A rumble like thunder rolled across the plains, followed by laughter. Sami screamed and clutched her head. I sliced through two goblins and I planted myself between her and the horde. Silas roared against the laughter, so it was of victory. He was on the battlefield.
“We can’t win. I should go to him, he’ll stop. He said he—“
I slapped her cheek and her eyes focused. “We do not give in.” I stabbed a goblin through the chest who dared to get within arms’ reach. “Especially when help is coming.”
And the song of the Ladies cut through the laughter and the goblin chattering, a piercing, clear melody that struck fear in every being of the Other Side. For it was the song of the Ladies hunting.
I smiled because, for once, I was not the hunted. I barred my teeth like Silas and added my roar to their hunting song.
And the Ladies came through the horde, slaying the goblins as if it were no more difficult than flicking dust from one’s hem. The goblins closest to us tried to flee, but we did not let them. Silas swatted them with his huge paws and my sword sung as if it knew the Ladies were here, too. Sami cowered behind me, holding her head and the part of me that wasn’t killing goblins felt sorry for the chaos swirling inside her head.
Then, all was silent, apart from our panting breath as the Ladies had reached us. They pulled back on their mounts who snorted, their breath as hot as the wind across the fiery plains.
“Well met, we are,” said the Lady nearest me.
“Well met indeed.” I inclined my head slightly, never taking my eyes off her.
She smiled. “It is a good day for battle, but you are short of time, Little Sister.”
She laughed and the other Ladies threw their heads back, too, and added their musical laughter which was so out of place, yet fitting, like the Ladies themselves. Then she reached down and touched the middle of my forehead. A bright, sharp white pain flared through my head followed by cool relief.
“You will need your mind intact.”
“Our debt is paid.” It was more statement than question, but still it lingered in the air. Part challenge, part oath binding as old as time. Part of me wanted to hold them to further deeds to settle the debt between us. But that was greed whispering in my ear, so much stronger on the Other Side. In my lifetime, I’ve never found being greedy to bring anything but pain.
“Yes, the slate between us is clear and I thank you for it.”
“Good.” She looked over her shoulder to the plains that had begun to roil like a pot about to boil over. “He is still coming.”
“Nothing is ever easy.”
She tilted her head slightly. “He is not truly Other Side, not yet.”
My face must have shown my shock as the Lady’s eyes glittered with something close to mischief. “That is why we cannot slay him…As above, it is below.”
“Always and forever,” I replied in the ancient greeting.
She shook her head. “Nothing is forever, Little Sister.” Then she and the rest of the Ladies left in silence without so much as a glance back.
“You should’ve held them further. Never know when we’ll need them again.” Silas smoothed the hair on the back of his paw with a lick as if simply discussing the weather.
I watched the last glint of light from their tack as the Ladies disappeared back into the clouds and shook my head. “They have given enough.” I turned my attention back to the plains where one lone figure continued his way towards us.