A gleeful roar broke from the crowd like dirty wind and the happiness in that sound...the sheer joy...caused a rage in Alora that was both terrible and wonderful in its unadulterated power.
She dropped the reins on Loki's neck and he stood the best he could, his front hooves beating out a rapid tattoo. She deftly looped Islinn's rope under and around her leg and pulled it tight with a quick snap. Her hand pistoned down alongside her boot and she drew her dagger. Treze's fingers skittered along her arm as he grabbed for her. She let out a muffled cry at the damp,seeking touch.
He was still pressed tight against Loki as he tried to unseat her. Only Loki's up and down motion saved her.
"Bastard!" Alora hissed as she twisted around and grabbed a handful of his hair. She jerked his head back and hooked the blade below one ear and ran it across to meet the other. The angle was bad.
Twisted flaps of skin rode the flow of blood as Treze attempted to scream. He let out an inhuman breathy screech. Blood sprayed. He let Islinn go as his hands clawed at his neck. His fingers, blessed with their own frantic curiosity, caught against the folds of jagged flesh, probing and pinching.
Islinn dropped to the ground and curled up in an attempt to protect herself against Loki's hooves. Treze took three wobbling steps. He tripped over Islinn and sprawled on the ground, his boots drumming against the hard dirt.
A loud war cry that was more like the bellow of a moony calf caused Alora to turn and she saw one of the cobs, blade in hand, racing towards her.
She flung the dagger and buried it in his throat. The force of the blade knocked him back and his feet flew out from under him as thought he'd been standing on a maliciously yanked rug. His eyes widened, almost popping from their sockets. His face turned a rich, dark plummy color. He slammed into the ground and began to flop about like a fish on a river bank.
Alora was so fascinated by this display that the other cob would have had her if he'd forgone the warcry. As much a part of him as his sword, he let go with a wild, echoing yawp and charged her from the front.
All Alora could see was the blade. It caught the sun like fire. She grabbed Loki's reins and yanked. With a sick certainty, she knew she was too slow. Loki screamed and flung his head back.
She jerked back too and turned her head but she wasn't quick enough. Loki's head connected with her own and she heard it, like the thick crack of a bullwhip. Tears exploded from her eyes.
The crowd bayed with enthusiasm. A white, faraway glow settled around everything and Alora managed, through sheer determination, to keep herself from passing out. She waited for Loki to crumple beneath her but he obeyed her tight grip on the reins and backed dutifully.
All of this happened in a matter of seconds. The cob stepped confidently forward, bolstered by the crowd, and his cock of the walk strut momentarily cleared her head. She rammed her heels into Loki's side and reached for her sword. Loki leaped forward and Alora saw the cob's face twist in surprise just before her sword took his head. The body continued on for a few steps more, doing an obscene shimmy, before it dropped.
Alora looked around at the subdued crowd and sheathed her sword. She panted as her breath burned in her throat. There was the coppery tang of blood in her mouth. Her nose was pouring and one side of her face had a thick,hot feel to it. She could tell her eye had already started to close.
She turned and looked for Islinn.
Islinn was on her feet, both kneecaps raw and sputtering blood. An angry ring, from when she'd gotten dragged, circled her neck like a fresh burn. She looked out over the crowd, her eyes cautious. The expression on her face told anyone who looked her way just how little she understood about what had just happened.
Loki snorted and arched his neck. Alora wondered, for one crazy moment,if the blade had missed. But no. That scream. The sickening crunch of his head against hers. She raised a tentative hand to her face. Blood pooled and dripped through her fingers and splattered Loki's withers and crest.
The crowd pulled in its horns. They shuffled and scuffed their toes and looked everywhere but directly at her. Alora was suddenly furious.
She ignored the sick drumming in her head and hung sideways off of Loki to grab the stiff, matted hair of the decapitated head. Most of the blood had drained into the thirsty ground and the face screamed silently. The lips were the color of old ash. Alora held the head up, well aware of the picture she presented, and looked out over the stunned faces.
There was that power again only this time is was disguised as faith. It burned and laced itself around prayerful hands. Glowed behind closed eyes. Alora imagined it must be so bright it lit their inner darkness like a sun.
"This world is too much for me." She thought. It was a pure thought and it came, instinctively,from the core of her being. It was a thought not prodded by anger or pushed to the fore by her insecurities. It simply rose like cream and she was afraid of all the terrifying honesty it held.
She lowered her hand and looked into the gray,ruined face. Blood dripped from her chin and she watched it puddle in the staring eyes. He began to weep red tears.
"You own what you buy." Alora softly crooned. The words slipped out on their own, riding that shitty wave of honesty.
Her arm reared back and she flung the head into the crowd.
"You want me dead??" She screamed, close to tears herself.
"Well,come on! Death loves me!"
The words didn't roll off of her tongue as strong and sure as she'd hoped. Instead, they mirrored the way she felt: cornered and hurt. But even a cornered rat can still put up one hell of a fight and this was a fact that the inhabitants of Leomedon were well aware of. They backed away but were reluctant to leave. There might still be something to see.