"We'd never make it down," he rasped with a jerk of his chin toward the end of the bridge. A demon had appeared. He raised his flaming hand, about to shoot at them dead on.

Her gaze flew up to the rearview mirror. A second blocked the other end.

Now there was no way to escape, nowhere to run...

Suddenly the demon's neck snapped to the side, his head at a right angle to his body; he dropped to his knees, then fell face down, the flame in his hand snuffed.

The one behind them suffered the same fate. The ghosts!

"Thanks for that!" Holly said to the unseen entities, then tried the start button once more.

Nothing.

Timber began to whine beneath the car, unable to bear the weight. One board snapped, then another. The burning structure shuddered and pitched all around them.

More writing on the window, quick and shaky. EXORCIST. Free us.

"Oh, God, of course," Holly said, nodding frantically. "Yes, I'll bring one back here as soon as I can!" she vowed.

At once the engine purred to life. Her eyes widened. In gear. "Hold on, Cadeon!" Floor the gas.

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They didn't move an inch.

She shot a glance to her side-view mirror. The back tire was spinning at the edge of an iron underpinning. In the other side-view mirror, she saw the back wheel was spinning furiously - on nothing.

"More gas," he grated.

"You said this has all-wheel drive!" She flattened the accelerator. Smoke billowed from the front peeling tires.

"That's why we're...not in the drink yet."

Traction caught; they were thrown back against their seats as the car lurched forward over booming, cracking supports.

A wall of flames appeared at the exit.

"Oh, God, oh, God," she muttered, clenching the wheel.

"Do it."

"Cadeon, if you're the praying type," she murmured, "now would be a choice time."

31

Fire buffeted the car, roaring all around them. Then came a split second of clear night before the next two blasts landed.

Holly swerved around one, drove through another, then floored it, unbridling the engine on the curving road.

She chanced a glance at Cadeon, but almost wished she hadn't. Panic hit her hard. He was burned over most of his upper body, some of the wounds so severe, there was no physical resemblance to whatever feature had been there before.

Most of his visible flesh looked as if it had melted.

A minute passed. "They're not giving chase." Another minute. "They must have parked on the other side and can't get across the bridge. Or maybe the archers got the last two?"

A noxious smell arose, like burning rubber. Was smoke rising from the back rear tire? She couldn't tell in the fog.

Four minutes passed. "We did it, Cadeon!" she said, determined to keep talking to him. "My God, that was wild! Did you feel the bridge shaking? The deck collapsed like a line of dominoes behind us!"

Headlights shined from down in the basin.

"They're coming again! Why won't they die?"

"Outrun...them. You can do it..."

"On it!" She downshifted for speed up a straight section. "Let's see what this baby - "

A loud bang sounded. The car wobbled. "What - just - happened?"

"Blown tire. Now...will you please...fucking leave me?"

Ditching Cadeon was simply not an option. She kept her foot on the gas, fighting to steer the car, fighting for inches...All those criminals on Cops could go for miles with a busted tire!

Think, Holly, think!

She'd just driven on a considerable straightaway and a sharp bend lay up ahead. The road was flanked with ridges on both sides. A nebulous idea arose.

"Cadeon, whose car is this?"

He rasped, "Not...ours."

"Just checking."

From his position, propped up against a birch above the ridge, Cade watched Holly snagging the last of their gear from the car, finalizing her trap.

Surely, this couldn't work. But it had to...her life depended on it.

Because for some reason, she refused to leave him. And he was helpless to protect her. The poison from those arrows was eating away at him inside, and when his body tried to sweat it out, the chemicals were like acid on his burns, keeping them from healing.

Dizziness was constant. Black spots swarmed in front of his eye as he struggled to stay conscious. Every movement was grueling.

She trotted up the rise, dumping their stuff to the ground except for his sword, which she unsheathed. Crouching beside him, she laid the weapon over her knees. In readiness.

Could she consciously kill a demon, or possibly more? Could she mindfully make the decision to take a life?

"What are our chances?" she asked.

He grated, "One in fifteen. Don't know if...I'd take them."

"You would if there's zero chance otherwise."

The truck was flying up the winding road, headlights going from visible to concealed to visible once more. Tires screeched around the hairpin curves before falling silent when the driver reached the straightaway and gunned the engine.

"Here they come," Holly murmured. "Five...four...three...two...one."

The driver slammed on the brakes at his first glimpse of her improvised Veyron roadblock.

Too late.

With nowhere to turn, the truck t-boned the heavy car; the sole demon catapulted through the windshield, hurtling through the air.

On his landing, bones cracked audibly, then the momentum sent him scraping over the skin-eating pavement. Eventually, he stopped, sprawling unconscious.

"And that's why even immortals need to wear seat belts." As lightning began to fire all over the valley, Holly rose, wielding Cade's sword. He heard her absently say, "Sit tight. I'll be right back."

Holly advanced to where the fire demon lay, looking like a boneless lump of tissue on the road.

She was about to kill a defenseless being, but there was no help for it. He was already beginning to heal, had ignited the tiniest flame in his lacerated palm.

She quickened her pace. Now she could see why Cadeon had taught her to finish an adversary without mercy. Within moments, this mangled being could be a threat again.

Once she stood over him, she raised the sword above his neck. Don't hesitate! With a yell, she swung it down, sending up a shower of sparks against the pavement as she severed the head.

Done, then. That's behind me.

Forcing herself not to look back, she ran for the demon's truck, praying that it might be drivable. Through the smoke from the collision, she saw that it was still running! The engine had been protected by a weighty winch attached to the front bumper - the winch that had cleaved the Veyron nearly in two.