When they got back to the village, it already resembled flaming ruins more than the bustling center of life it had been when they set out that morning. Before Rory could turn the jeep off, Anastasia had leapt out of the still moving vehicle, stumbling slightly as her injured ankle hit the ground first. Tonya was soon to follow. Liam and Richie quickly exchanged glances before following them into the smoke, Rory close behind.
Only Damien stood beside the vehicle, eyes blank, but scanning the perimeter nevertheless.
Then he slowly made his way after the others, taking the time to light himself a cigarette. What he found did not surprise him in the least. Carnage.
Street after street, lane after lane, house after house, there were only corpses. Brutally, mercilessly, murdered bodies. Some of them still stared forward with their faces twisted into grotesque masks of horror. Damien muttered off a string of curses under his breath. Then immediately started blessing the dead. The girls must be having a fit, he thought, darkly but not too unkindly. He had reason to be upset. The longer they stayed in one place, the easier it became to hunt them down.
Up ahead, Anastasia was making her way through the rubble, trying desperately to reach the Training hall. Damien paused in his rituals to watch her, his expression neutral, but eyes focused in inescapable scrutiny. She seemed genuinely distraught. He watched as Richie caught up to her and reached out as if to place a hand on her shoulder. A moment’s hesitation later, he seemed to think the better of it and instead joined her in clearing the rubble. Even in the midst of her obsessive need to get through to the main entrance of the Hall, she paused to turn and look at him gratefully, her dirt stained face scrunched up briefly in the likeness of a smile. Richie seemed to glow and Damien tutted to himself. That little monkey needed to be put on a leash!
He finished invoking the holy spirits and sanctifying the street before moving up to join the others. Just in time to see Anastasia finally loosen the last stone standing in her path and wriggle through into the darkness that was the Hall. Richie pulled out a couple more stones and squeezed through after her. Rory cursed at the two, and Damien found himself oddly glad to have someone to share the sentiment with. This girl was too much like their little Richie. Foolhardiness of youth, maybe? There was a line between bravery and foolishness, and he strongly believed those two needed constant reminding. Meanwhile Liam and Tonya had finally broadened the gap enough so that they could all go through, and Damien followed them inside, wondering what the hell they had gotten themselves into this time.