With a blade in his hand that glittered under the bright moonlight, and his wine-red hair buried beneath the protection of his hood, Peter ventured over to Nick’s small blue house. He hid within the shadows, his golden eyes darted here and there, searching for any sign of life within the silent boarded up home.
One of the windows had been busted open, then seemed to have been scrapped together again to hold for another night, or many nights...Peter wasn’t entirely sure how long it’d been since he was back in Brooklyn. His face grew grim as he realized that nobody was here. Nobody had been here for quite some time. What had been here was all gone. He stood up straight and laughed bitterly to himself, then thought back to the darkened park where Nick lay lifeless, and all the bitter mirth was gone from his own eyes in an instant.
He had killed him, and maybe even Cricket too. There was no way she’d last alone in the middle of that city, with her bloodied, matted hair and haunted eyes. Who knows what they’d do to her once they found her. Maybe they’d even blame her for the “murder” of Nick. She’d be a suspect.
Peter whistled a soft song while he threaded his knife through the holder on his back and continued to walk, lost in his thoughts. He could feel Avallach’s apple core bounce against his leg in his pouch bag as he walked further and further. There would always be a reminder of what he’d done this day in the park. Modron had left with Tanngnost, and with Caliburn and the rest of Avalon’s last living folk. Now what would he do?
He could head over to the nearest forest to live with the animals who he once fought against, like child’s play. He had been a wolf slayer, but he was now the murderer of a thousand children and it weighed his shoulders down like he never thought it would. He was the boy who lived in harmony with all wildlife, yet he allowed murder to come to his friend Sekeu who had also found peace in animals. If he couldn’t protect someone who was in harmony with nature, then how could he become the ruler over all that was wild?
His father's spirit, the Horned One, thumped below his chest within the magic pumping through his heart.
Maybe he would go to the forest after all.
Yeah, just for a little, he could stay there. Buried beneath a rock, or maybe a cave in a small dirt-filled pit like he used to with Goll. He’d feast on squirrels like he never could, or he might even have a tender meal of rabbit for once. Men-kind animals were all different. He’d live together with them, he respected them, but if one got in his way he wouldn’t hesitate to kill, murder and saw it limb from limb.
It was more than fair.
Peter resisted the urge to chance a glance back toward the direction of Manhattan where Nick was. The one who had stood between his sword many times. He questioned himself for once, which was not something he ever did. If Peter had killed Nick that first time, then would he have gone back with Modron to rule over Avalon and leave behind the souls of the dead? Would he let the memories of his Devils be washed away like loose sand on the shore. Would he let it be covered up like the heavy core of the Mist?
Unfortunately, Peter thinks he was stupid enough to have done just that. If Nick hadn’t saved his life when they’d almost drowned then he would have given up his life for The Lady who’d done nothing to save Nick’s. He would have given his life to someone who’d turned her back on the Devils who had fought fearlessly for her...no, for him. Always for him.
Peter let fruitless tears pool at the edges of his eyes. He’d always cry at the memory of his Lady’s sweet scent. But now, he cried just wishing that his clan was still alive. That he was back at Deviltree, with Sekeu, Nick and Cricket, Redbone, Abraham and the rest of the big headed goons who’d fight over who got the last spoonful of crushed acorn mix.
He’d led them into a war. He tricked them.
But never again. Not ever again, Peter swore, with all his fingers uncrossed.
Cricket stared off into the slowly-clearing air as Peter had left. It’d been quite a while that she was sitting there with Nick’s limp body in her arms. The blood had congealed and clotted around his wound. She didn’t know what to do, where to go. She didn’t want to leave Nick behind but there was a chance that she’d be found and sent somewhere she didn’t want to be.
A strike of panic filled her heart. Would they send her back to her father? She began to breathe heavily at the thought when another slowly choking breath filled the air with hers. She immediately stopped and listened. One more soft, ragged breath tore through the air like the miracle they had all been waiting for an eternity ago. The sound was a blessing to Cricket who had never experienced one in all her life. Her hands shook in the air over Nick. She was almost afraid to touch him.
“Hey…” She called weakly, “Hey, Nicky?”
Nick didn’t move but he was definitely breathing, if just barely. Was it possible that he’d just passed out from the pain?
“Nick!” She called, her smile stretched wide, although still concerned. “You’re not dead yet you lucky bastard!” She wiped the dried tears from her cheeks. She wasn’t alone? Cricket felt her heart swell with joy. She’d have to move fast, they’d wasted so much time already. She gently slipped her arms out from under him, removed her leather jacket and rolled it up beneath his head, struggling to get to her feet.
“You’ll be okay, I promise it! On my own damn life!” She took off running down toward the street, wiping off the blood from her face and arms as best she could. “Hey!” She yelled, raising her arms and waving them them crazily back and forth. Her voice gave out but she tried and tried again, raising her scream over the noise of the city. “Please help my friend! He’s dying!”