When his eyesight returned to him, it didn’t help very much. The forest around him was so dense that hardly any of the early morning sunlight made through the treetops. But he could hear now, too, so he held his breath and listened.
Rustling leaves. All around him. And a low, faint rumble beneath his feet. The ground was trembling. It could have been the Gargoyle’s doing, but he was fairly sure that she was still in the sky.
‘Straight ahead of you,’ came Reza’s warning, and Dunstan braced himself just in time to see a howling blur leap out from behind the forward treeline.
Unable to stand, and with only half of his body responding to him, Dunstan knew he would have to make some hearty sacrifices to his krypton transfiguration if he were to have any hope of winning. And indeed, when the salivating human monster landed on him and started biting into his face and digging into his chest, Dunstan converted huge chunks of his flesh into superheated gas. Every point of physical contact between the two of them burned. Even Dunstan’s own face melted into a bloody, smoldering mess.
With his one good hand, he found the mindless person’s head, which immediately bit his fingers off with metal teeth.
Dunstan sacrificed the whole hand and shoved through their skull. Brain matter blew out the back of their head, and the flailing body on top of him went suddenly limp. He shoved the corpse off and tried to stand again, finding a bit more success now that most of his legs had regenerated. He’d given up much of his torso, arms, and head, but the trade was worth it so long as he was still conscious.
‘Can you still see me?’ Reza asked.
‘Yeah.’ To his eyes, she was still perfectly visible in the low light, despite being a pitch black wraith.
‘Follow me, then.’
She flew off, staying low and with a slack enough pace for Dunstan’s shambling footsteps to keep up.
No more than twenty steps later, burning bright light came piercing through the darkness, but Dunstan was far from relieved when he saw that the source was another broken servant who’d set himself ablaze. The forest was already catching, Dunstan saw--orange flames licking bark and climbing into the canopy or leaping across the undergrowth.