Chilling Challenge

Title: Chilling Challenge
Time Period: August 26, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Salvation may come just a bit too late for some.

It was not the plan for the kids to go alone. Leslie even bowed to going to Aislinn for help, but when a ritual left the woman in need of rest, the young Hightower's patience ran out.

But at least they were able to come more prepared.

It was a matter of luck and timing that one of the militia saw them pass, geared up like they were planning to join up themselves, and was able to send word out that backup was needed. Unfortunately, by the time help arrives at the old, dilapidated house, that militia man lies unconscious on the grass outside. From the look of things, he either jumped or was tossed out of the second story window. Shards pepper the path between it and where he lies, bleeding and blacked out.

And worse, the inside of the house looks unnaturally dark, even with the sun shining overhead. Sure, it could be the cover of the trees or the angle of the light, but somewhere, deep down, it feels so very unnatural.

"Careful with him" DIna one of those notified by the Militia that her granddaughter had taken off. On top of what had happened in the market and the conversation with her granddaughter afterward, the Ross matriarch had come> Clad in pants, boots, utilitarian blouse and hair braided back and up, a duo of bodyguards in tow with the woman astride the horse. "bring him back to safety" She's off the beast soon enough, shoulder having healed just enough to use that arm. Which is toting a shotgun. "See if you cannot bring him round, tell us what he can"

Just as it was luck that word got out in the first place, it was luck that Cas Blackburn learned anything of it at all. There's little in the way of heroics in his entrance. He's not even armed. Wearing clothes that look worn from work still, he pulls a hat down off his head to fan himself as he approaches the man blacke dout on the building. "Oi— what's going on?" he asks, looking at the older woman instead of anyone else who might actually be armed and in charge. Women are less scary, don't you know! Even with a shotgun.

Fanning himself with his hat, he winces at the sight of the bleeding man, then looks into the house— the very black house. "Oi— is Cordy really— I mean did a couple girls really go in there? By themselves?" he asks, worried, already starting to take a step toward the door as if trying to see through the darkness. And then into the house.

It was a fleeting overhear, but as the palm reader said, he often has a hard time not doing things at times.

"My nephew, though according to my brother, he may as well be a girl." Leonard Hightower is the one to answer Cas, from the path behind. He seems to have borrowed a horse, as the owl on his shoulder clutches at his clothing with her talons, almond eyes watchful. "Lady, my brother has gone to fetch his wife, they will be here as soon as they can." He addresses Dina second, eyeing the men that move to get the injured fellow as he swings down off of the borrowed mare.

"Let me have a look at him." If not brave, Leonard is at least useful; the vet removes his jacket to hang on the saddle, and rolls up both sleeves in preparation. "Did he jump out of the house? Where'd all this glass come from?" A squint upwards tells him the second floor.

The man is, at least, easy to move, considering he's not fighting back. Or, you know, moving. But he is breathing, which is a good sign, but bones are clearly broken, even without a thorough examination. There's even one sticking out of his leg. Consciousness probably isn't far off, but that may not be a blessing for the militia man.

As Cas gazes into that darkness, it seems to move, shift, like a black cloud swimming past the door. The others don't see it, with their attention split, but for Cas it's very clear.

Something is inside that house.

Several somethings, actually, considering there's a muffled gunshot from within followed by a boyish scream from inside. However the men ended up outside and unconscious, it may be more difficult than jumping.

"If he has not perished by now, he will remain alive and well for the rest of help to make it's way here" From the trees comes Greets The Sun who flaps to land on Dina's shoulder who starts forward in Cas's wake, not willing to let the man go alone.

"My granddaughter is in there and at this moment, those children and their lives are in peril far more serious than a man who's still breathing" and who's already at this point lived a nice life, that's longer than that of the children.

"Remain behind Dr. Hightower, if you wish" But she, and her two guards are moving forward to come rest behind Cas, even as Greets moves to the ground from her shoulder and transforms into the very small mouse to scurry forward and in.

"Oh, sorry— I really only heard about Cord— wait your grand daughter?" Cas says, looking back toward Dina in surprise, suddenly wringing the rim of his hat. Which isn't exactly fancy. "I thought I saw something inside— I'm gonna go in." Even if he's unarmed. Unless one counts a hat. Which no one really does in any case. It's not really a very good weapon.

But with a grandma with a shotgun and a couple guards, maybe he's got some back up that's actuallt capable. "Just don't shoot me by accident, okay?" he says outloud as he steps forward into the darkness. Where he is pretty sure he already heard gunshots.

Just from the state of the guy, Leon can tell that this is going to be hard for him to come out of. There's not a whole lot that he can do. Not here, anyway. "We've got others coming, but I feel numbers may be called for here…" The gunshot inside the house sounds, which he can hear that much of; though he flinches, that seems to do it for the elder Hightower. He leaves the injured man propped against the rock he was dragged to, casting a look across the path to check for persons oncoming. None yet.

"I'm coming." His living relatives need him, and he'll be there- It helps that there are fiercer men in between him and the house, of course. Sage drops from his shoulder and in a sweep of feathers, lands on four canine paws just ahead of them. Her unease is clear — the wolf's hackles are already raised and bristling.

Having to take a little longer to come from a different part of town, Niall trails behind the floating word that a group including the Ross Matriarch and entourage have headed towards the creepy house on the outskirts of Dornie. And having heard in particular that they were on the trail of militia, a young Hightower and Cordelia - these things bring out the blacksmith. Following him on no lead, his familiar Stands-Fast plods at an even pace after his mage and companion. I don't like hearing about kids and girls running off into empty houses, justifies the smith as he grips an easy-swinging forge hammer in hand. The kyloe bull grunts, somehow appearing simply amused at it all. No worries. The little dudes like scaring themselves silly. That's their— The familiar pauses, turning his large ears towards the sound of gunshot and screams.

Both blacksmith and bull pick up their pace, coming upon the scene at the house. One look at the militiaman with leg bone jutting out, and Niall frowns deeply. "Heard gunshots," he announces to those left outside the house, sending a suspicious, examining gaze at the house's exterior.

Cas is the first to step in, unarmed though he may be. Passing through the front door, there's a thick fog for the span of a few steps; it sends chills down the spine, but once it's passed through, there's a simple, if broken down, hallway.

Evidence lingers of the pair's passing. An arrow in the wall. A plate-sized piece of silver polished to a reflective shine. There are holes in the floor that are easy to miss in the dark, save for the warning creaks of weakened wood. And sounds are suddenly unmuffled, but it's hard to tell where in the house Leslie's screaming is coming from, exactly.

Suddenly, Cordelia's shout comes from somewhere nearby, though out of sight, somewhere beyond or in all that fog and blackness. "Leslie! Come toward my voice! Use the mirror!" Her voice is thick, raspy from shouting or crying or screaming, it's hard to say, but the shout at least alerts those in the building that she is in fact alive. "Remember to watch where you step!"

There's a pause, and then she begins to sing "The Bluebells of Scotland," apparently to give the boy something to follow. Now and then the melody cracks, but it seems to be fading, as if she's moving farther away.

Use the mirror? Cas looks around, squinting in the darkness, but he does spot something that looks like it has a reflective surface and shoves the hat on top of his head as he bends down to pick it up. No idea what he's supposed to do with it, but it seems like a good idea to hang onto something that a girl is shouting about.

"Oi— what are you supposed to do with a mirror?" he calls out, stepping carefully along the hallway, stumbling as the floorboards creak and dip, and barely missing dropping a foot down into a hole. He glances back. "Be careful, the floor isn't… good. I'm glad I don't weight too much suddenly," he says with a gulp, moving onward in a slow pace, trying to listen for that voice that sings. It seems Leslie with a girl's name isn't the only one who will be following that.

"But a multitude of people will" Which has Dina turning to those behind her. "Spread your weight, do not step forward unless confidant that you will have sure footing. If you come across either one, make for the door, and out." She watches Cas take the mirror, furrowing her brow. 'Are we dealing with Medusa?" Murmured under her breath before she moves around holes to take up the other side of the hole. "Cordelia! What are we dealing with girl!" calling out to her granddaughter.

Children screaming gets the best of him, no matter who or what. Leonard looks away from the arrow in the wall, to the fog, to Cas as he picks up the mirror. The one that apparently his nephew is supposed to have. There's a bit of a panic there, and he shifts away from the others, to distribute the weight on the rickety floor.

"The mirror is here!" He hates to be the bearer of bad news, but, you know. He has to be. "Leslie!?" It is a halfhearted shout. "Sage, be quick."

«I don't like this place.» Suffice to say, Sage might speak for all of them; the wolf turns again, scampering off in a fluffy flick of squirrel tail, seeking.

Niall ventures forth after the others, but he's not nearly as subtle as they are. The blacksmith has Stands-Fast stand guard outside over the injured while he plunges in. The first sensation of goosebumps and chills as he passes through the fog gives him pause, but it's really the plunging of darkness that stops Niall briefly. The man lets his eyes adjust and once they do, considers the group within the broken hallway. He too listens for the sounds of the youth's voices, as well as for who was pulling the trigger.

Going ahead, and with wolf eyes, Sage can see a flash of light colored clothing heading toward a door that seems to lead downward. Being a small boy and full of fright, it's not too hard to believe that he'd be moving fast to try to find Cordelia's voice. The fog mucks up the familiars' sense of smell, though, filling noses with dank musk, rotting wood and dead bodies. Hopefully rat bodies and not human.

Ahead of them all, it's more darkness, and more discomfort. The kind of feeling that would send the more skittish folk running. And while most of them pass over the wood with just close calls, it's the blacksmith's heavier form that punches through the wood and leaves his leg dangling into the lower level.

But the really unfortunate part, the really really unsettling bit, is that Niall can feel an ice cold hand wrap around his ankle and start to yank.

The song stops when Cordelia apparently hears the shouts from Cas and Dina. "There's something here — I don't know what it is; I can't look at it without…" her voice trails off, but a moment later she continues. "You can't look at it one on one. Use something reflective, or it'll mess with your mind. Everything's wrong. Everything's the wrong way out." Her voice breaks off with a sob, and there's silence for a long moment, before she calls out again, "Leslie! Keep coming to me. I'll find you. I'm so sorry…" Her voice sounds desperate, wet, husky; the song continues but now and then it is interrupted by a sob.

Oh wonderful… Cas looks down at his "weapon", which is apparently better than guns at this moment. "Seriously, don't accidently shoot me or I will be really mad. You don't want to make a stable boy mad, you'll find unpleasant things in your shoes." It's an empty threat, especially against grandma, but some people run in fear when they encounter this kind of danger, apparently his way of coping right now is by talking this way.

It's already taking all of him not to turn around and get out.

All of him and a voice he just heard, at least. Holding the reflective thing up, he tries to use it to walk, and ends up walking sideways of all things, using his free partially gloved hand touching the wall every so often.

It's an empty threat against Grandma Ross. "you concentrare on telling me where to shoot,is what you need to do, since you have the mirror" Dina retorts to the stablehand, even as Greets the Son, hangs back beside Niall with a quiet word to Dina over thier shared bond. Then he's being yanked, and he moves, little claws clinging to the blacksmith's cloths to see what's fucking with Niall and maybe even get in a good bite or two. Make it think twice about bugging the man.

Sage sees the flicker of movement before she shifts, thankfully, and hunkers her squirrelly self down before hopping after what she can only presume is Leslie. The smells in her tiny nose are a mixture of uncomfortable and overwhelming. Leonard, meanwhile, treads carefully, and is the first to hesitate and stop moving, glancing back with widened green eyes, darker in the shadows of the house. His familiar is no doubt his better half, especially when you compare them in times like these.

Hearing a leg punching through the floor is more noticeable than actually seeing it out of the corner of his eye. Leonard turns around, trying to listen to the girl's voice in the near distance, and get a look at whoever is about to plummet through the floor.

"Niall." The vet skirts towards that part of the floor, testing his own weight before reaching out to help the blacksmith back up, unknowingly about to play tug-of-war.

Niall swears loudly from reflex - ne'ermind the children in earshot - as his leg breaks through the rotten wood and puts him quite off balance. "Don't get closer," he warns off the number of bodies pressing close to help. "You'll cause the floor to br- ack!" The things he'll never admit, including being absolutely disconcerted at the feeling of something (someone?) grabbing his ankle with an ice cold set of digits. Whatever it is yanking him down, he naturally has to resist. Adrenaline fuels desperation and strength, and he pulls up.

Niall's warning is right on. When Leonard gets closer, the wood moans and starts to crack, which only has Niall slipping a little further downward. It's just close enough to be able to catch a hand, but not great for leverage. Greets the Sun finds his view of what's below blocked by blacksmith parts, unfortunately, leaving the only bite-able thing in the area the very man he's trying to protect.

Cas, meanwhile, catches sight of something in his mirror. An unnatural, jerking movement in the darkness down a side hall he passes. And one glowing eye pointing his way for a moment before it slips into the dark again.

The singing gets closer and Cordelia suddenly turns the corner, a polished tea platter serving as a mirror.When she catches sight of Leonard and Niall in it, she squeaks, lifting the shotgun that rests on one shoulder awkwardly, given that she's juggling the platter as well. The darkness and fog make it hard to discern that it's not the creature, but luckily she doesn't shoot as the fact that these are friends registers just a split second after instinct.

"It's close," she whispers. "And I don't know where Leslie is." Her eyes are red and swollen from crying, and her hands shake on the shotgun.

Between what's happening in the shiny thing he's trying to look through, and behind him, Cas looks visibly torn for a long moment. But at least the singing is getting closer! He'll just have to hope the men can take care of themselves. The grandma, though, does get a look. "Are you sure this thing can even be hurt by guns? We might need like— I dunno. Magic or, something." Which he doesn't have, but…

"This doesn't exactly feel natural, you know?" he says, as he looks back through the reflection, squinting at it again in the dark. He does hear Cordy's voice though, and feels the need to raise his own. "I saw it! It's over this way," he points, though only Dina's likely to see what direction he's pointing in.

"Burn this place to the ground when we're done" but he speaks over movement, and she swivels her shotgun in that direction, finger on the trigger and her gaze at the floor in the distance - and thus not looking whatever it is in the eye - ready to depress it if it's not her granddaughter or the wayward hightower.

Needless to say, GTS, does not bite the blacksmith, scrabbling for a location not Niall as he heads back up to the same level as everyone else, relay to Dina about Cordelia's emergence."

Leonard stops when Niall tells them to, though he remains near as he takes a step away again, still ready to render aid.

"What is it?" When the other man begins to struggle and push himself upwards, he notices. Another look over his own shoulder comes, as if he might catch something lurking just behind him. Instead, it is Cordelia. He hangs between destinations, half-frozen to his space on the floor. "Sage saw him, she must have went after. I haven't heard anything else. Where would he go? Down?"

Niall jerks his caught leg defiantly upwards, muscles bunching as he leans harder against the weak wood. Rather than reach a hand for Hightower, though, he uses that one hand to hold onto what purchase he has on top of the floor and with the other, swings his smith's hammer down against the edge of the hole where his leg has fallen through. It's no gunshot, but the sound is likely loud enough in the close quarters to be like it. Perhaps whatever is holding him will be startled enough to loosen that death grip.

Dina turns and fires, not toward the kids or her companions, but past Cas, and down a dark hall. And while she can't see exactly where she's shooting, the bullet strikes something that isn't wood, and there's a shrill, inhuman cry from that direction.

Meanwhile, claws dig into Niall's calf, only to rip down his skin when it jerks away from the noise. Unfortunately, hitting that particular bit of wood has its downside as well. It cracks, giving way enough to send the Blacksmith tumbling into the dark, damp basement. His weight lands on the beast below, whatever it may be, but it shoves him off and into the nearby wall before scuttling away.

Cordelia shrieks, clambering away from where Niall's been pulled down into the hole. "I don't know, I don't know, I don't know. Are there two of them?" she whispers, pulling herself back into a corner, using the gun and platter to guard herself from anything that might come for her. "Demons, I think. They didn't like the praying, but it doesn't keep them away from us. Leslie and I tried. They still follow us. They aren't afraid of us."

Tears stream down her face as she peers down the hall and then down the hole. "Leslie? Are you down there?" she calls, still trying to look after the younger boy.

"He— hey! I didn't say shoot it," Cas says, jumping at the sudden shotgun blast so close to his head. It's loud, for one, and it's dangerous. He doesn't want to get shot. At least he manages not to lose either his hat or the makeshift mirror that he found on the floor. Still, he's visibly shaken by the blast, and the sounds he's hearing from all directions.

"Wait— they don't like praying?" he looks back towards Cordy, or at least the shadows of her that he can see. It's a little hard to hear with the shooting that just took place next to his head, but he got the gist of that part. His free hand digs at his neck for a moment, pulling against the cords that hang there, until he pulls free the one religous item he's owned— his sister's cross. Who knows, right?

There's no apologies for shooting. Not when Dina's got one more round before she has to reload. Screw any cross, she's priming the shotgun with very little fanfare, and then the trigger is pulled again, right where she'd hit it the first time, face stern and lips thin.

«What the —» The scrabble of nails on hardwood comes from the opposite hallway, as Sage scampers back into sight. She leaps onto Leon's leg, and up his back, eyeing the scene. «I lost him. It? I saw a basement door that way…» Leonard has had quite his fill, but that does not mean he can simply leave without his nephew. Or Niall, for that matter. He may be a coward, but he isn't heartless.

"Demons or something like them…" The elder Hightower steels himself and starts off down the hall, away from the others and where Sage directs him, to where she saw the basement doorway. "Leslie! Where are you!?"

He can at least be a beacon for attention. It won't be on the boy. Leonard can't do much else for him.

Another solid set of swearing slips out of the smith as he smashes through the floor. Not the best idea Niall's had, especially when he falls on his clawed leg first into the basement. Luckily, his landing is 'softened' by whatever grabbed him, and the rough shove is enough to prove that he's not alone. In the pitch dark basement, Niall calls upon his inner fires as he stands, summoning for his primordial magic fire to form into a ball of flickering flame he could use in casting light into the room. "Show yourself, you damned devil," he taunts of the darkness.

Things happen. From the stairs that lead up to the second floor, a small voice addresses the first floor. "Cordelia," Leslie chokes out, "it's trying to be my uncle. Cordelia." He sounds odd, not like he's been crying, but like he's… empty. Worn out. Emotion is just barely there, and the words come more as a report than a complaint. He crawls just into view, holding a crossbow fitted with a bolt ready to fly.

Down below, fire lights up the basement, sending a glow up through the floorboards. But what Niall finds there is… nothing. His calf isn't bleeding or even wounded, and there's no skittering creature in the wide, empty room. He does feel a bruise starting to form where he landed, although in his mind, the landing was cushioned.

And above, Dina fires into the hall again, but this time, her bullet doesn't find what it's looking for. Wood cracks and splinters fly, but the real issue comes when Cas suddenly feels an arm wrap around his face, a hand covering his mouth and one bright eye opening in his peripheral vision. That glow gets Leslie's attention more than anything else and the boy's bolt fires, landing in Cas' side. And in the moments that follow, the creature drags the stable boy along with him, melting into the dark.

"Your uncle's here! Along with Mr. Dunmore and my grandmother!" Cordelia squeaks out, lest the little boy shoot his uncle, too. Not that she could see that, though; everything is too dark and she's huddling in her corner, trembling. At least nothing can sneak up on her from behind, with her back to the wall as it is — but then, her back is to the wall, and that's another problem altogether.

Despite saying she's already tried it, she begins to pray, stammering the words of a prayer as she pulls sage from her pocket and then a match.

"Circle me, Lord. Keep protection near and danger afar. Circle me, Lord. Keep hope within. Keep doubt without. Circle me, Lord. Keep light near and darkness afar. Circle me, Lord. Keep peace within. Keep evil out." The words are not much more than a whisper as she strikes the match against the wall, and sets it to the sage, setting the burning herb upon the silver platter for safety.

Any attempt to scream seem to be muffled by the… something around Cas' face and covering his mouth, but muffled though they may be, they can still be heard. Especially when the bolt impacts his side. A moment later, as he's dragged away, even that muffled noise fades.

But his hat is left behind, tumbling into the wall, as well as the polished metal mirror that crashes to the creaky floorboards.

"It has taken the…" Well, Cas. Not that Dina at this moment remembers Cas's name. "It's taken him" Dina's backing up carefully, trying to make her way to her granddaughter and her burning sage bundle. "Fall back, make it come to us, get some rope to help the Blacksmith up and the young hightower. Then we will find the young man" Aka Cas.

The other Sage- the squrriel- bristles when she sees Leslie come into sight. Leonard does something vaguely similar, putting his hands and forearms up to block anything that Leslie may think was a good idea. And he fires at Cas instead, for some reason that Leonard couldn't see. What he does see, however, is the Something dragging Blackburn into the dark, leaving drips on the floorboard. Against what will he has, the elder Hightower gasps dumbly in the wake of actually seeing it doing something.

"Don't shoot me! Your parents are coming, and probably miss Aislinn too. I'm as real as the hair on your wee head." Leonard steps forward to snatch up the polished metal mirror, hoping that his words and Cordelia's are enough that he isn't shot at regardless.

Circumstances come to light, literally, for Niall. And it's true, he is genuinely surprised when the light and heat from his fire brightens the room to the point that he can see… nothing. The grip on his hammer loosens slightly, and though he gives his not-clawed leg a cursory glance, he doesn't have time to fully inspect. More shots are fired above him, and the commotion brings him headed back up the stairs to get to the upper ground level. "Is everybody ok up there?" calls up the smith as he finds the door.

What didn't work for Cas and his cross starts to work for Cordelia. Whether by her own desperate faith in the prayer, or help from afar, or some combination of her and Aislinn's wills, the dark starts to sweep away from her feet. And while it's not bright, thanks to the forest around the house, it is easier to see in this circle around her. And she is the one who can see the trail in the dust and dirt where the thing dragged Cas into a room of the hall.

And Leslie, perched on the stairs upward, looks over the group there as if he's not quite sure any of them are even there. Cordelia seems to have his trust, though, and he starts to creep downward. At the same time, Niall climbs upward, finding the door already open. And hanging limply of its hinges.

Looking around, Cordelia finds Leslie and holds a hand out to him, but she doesn't say anything, instead repeating the prayer. "Circle me, O Lord…" the prayer is now a mantra, repeated in circles, and she begins to move slowly toward the hall; the platter is held out in front of her and the shotgun slung back over her back. There are others with weapons more able to use them; her faith is in the burning plant and the words that fall from her mouth.

"Get up here with the other men, come find the one that just was taken" Dina calls out to Niall, giving him instructions as she closes in to Leslie and Cordelia. Her own shotgun empty, Greets The Sun joins up with Dina who reaches out to Cordelia, laying a hand on her shoulder and then to Leslie.

With the other mirror in his hand, Leonard looks after where the thing had taken Cas. "Dunmore. We have to get the kid. It took him that way." Leonard echoes the matron Ross, motioning with his free hand, and brandishing the mirror with the other. He seems ready to defend the rest of them more than he was ready to investigate the dark. Sage chitters, helpfully, from his shoulder, the noise somewhat pleading. "I've got nothing to throw at it, so get ready, if you will?"

He briefly wonders if fire magic even works on demons. What with the Hell Manifest thing and all, right?

It seems like such a small detail, that door hanging off its hinges. Small enough that Niall is unconcerned by it perhaps to his detriment. Still, he proceeds into the hall with handheld fireball in tact and burning brightly at first. "But what is it," grunts the blacksmith agitatedly as he looks at the trail left behind. His second glance is for Cordelia and her praying. "Come on then," he says to Leonard with a jerk of his head towards that dust trail. His fireball dims to about the size of a tennis ball and he stalks - carefully now - over the floor after the kidnapped Cas.

But what is it.

Wherever it took Cas, it's been there and back again, because on the tail end of those words, it pops out of a doorway, a black smoky vision for anyone looking in that direction. For Cordelia and Leslie, it's a familiar sight. A terrible grin, vicious eyes and horrifying enough that Leslie drops his crossbow and bolts out o the house. Tearing through as if it were dogging his heels. Luckily, here on the ground floor, he has a clear run for the exit, as opposed to having to jump out a window or break down a door.

The others hear a hissing noise, the impression of too many long, lanky limbs filling the hall and a fear turning muscles stiff and causing hearts to beat too fast.

Leslie's fleeing has Cordelia glance with worry for a moment, before taking a decisive step toward where the stygian creature lurks. She keeps her eyes narrowed and downcast, watching its reflection in the platter mixed with the flames of the burning sage. Her voice is stronger, edged with determination.

"Circle me, Lord. Keep light near and darkness far. Circle me, O Lord, keep peace within and evil out," she continues. "Get Cas," she hisses in an aside, before the words of her prayer begin again, a circle of sorts themselves.

Dina remembers Cordelia's warning not to look, and so she doesn't, keeping her gaze down, and like Cordelia, using the tray to keep a bead on where it is as she starts to shove a pair of shotgun shells from her pockets into the shotgun. Greets The Sun at this time, has shifted, gone from mouse to sizeable wolf and lunging. Only to turn around and with a yelp, follow leslie outside. Familiars, it seems, are just as prone, and Dina can feel Greets fear.

If Leslie is running, something must be about- his uncle's kneejerk reaction is to almost literally hide behind the mirror. At least, he holds it now like it were a shield, trying to move around whatever it is without actually looking around the edge of the mirror- which, turns out to be hard, because of both practicality and curiosity. He has no idea if he and Niall will be able to wiggle past without it trying to grab them, but they'll have to try. Preferably with Niall in front of him.

Sage, however, is not so curious anymore, and slides in a panic down the front of her mage's vest, tail sticking out of his collar.

"What's it doing? God help me, I'm not going to look at it." Swears on his mother's grave, past his terrified tone.

Niall nods lightly at Cordelia's whisper, but focuses on finding the rest of the trail that a dragged Cas leaves behind. Blood spatter from the crossbow bolt, drips, disturbed dust, anything. That is, until the distinct feeling of something being there out of the corner of his eye, at the edges of the firelight, dances along the periphery. The blacksmith looks back towards Leonard, and consequently the reflective piece he's holding up to hide behind, and the not-Cas shaped glowy eyeball with limbs.

"Don't move!" bursts out the blacksmith in command to the veterinarian, and swings his forge hammer out in a wide grand slam home-run style swing. S-Wing batter batter!

The swing comes unexpectedly to the creature, a being used to having the whip hand, and the strike of heavy metal against its lean figure sends it crashing into the nearby wall. Granted, that wall cracks and crumbles under the hit, but so too does the creature, as it heaps up on the floor.

For a moment.

A clawed hand snakes out of the dark, swiping at Leonard, leaving deep gouges down his arm and— more importantly— sending the mirror clattering over the floor only to slip through one of the many holes leading down to the basement.

Perhaps bolstered by the success of Niall's hammer's blow, Cordelia sends her flaming platter toward the felled creature with a quick flick of the wrist as if throwing a discus. "Circle me, O Lord, keep protection near and danger far," she repeats, her voice growing louder and now with anger mixed in with the determination.

After she frees her hands, she unslings the shotgun from her back to take aim with squinted eyes — now that she's thrown her mirror in sacrifice — and shoots, careful not to hit anyone else nearby. Hopefully.

"Part" like the red seas commands Dina, both rosses brandishing shotguns, and when - expecting her orders to be followed - the Matriarch is doing like her heir and firing the weapon at the thing, intending to put it down and keep it down, even if it's overkill.

Leonard yells in pain and jerks himself away from the thing's reach, clumsily grabbing for the mirror as it tinkles right out of his grip. He ends up with one knee on the floor trying to chase it. There's no use, and he waits until Cordelia and Dina fire before hobbling up again. He uses his good hand to mostly cover his sight, save for the floor and wall.

He immediately- perhaps single-mindedly- starts along the wall, after the path of droplets left by Cas being dragged off. He didn't come to kill eldritch beasties, he came to get his nephew back. Cas had heart enough to want to help. Still, the gouges in his arm are quickly leaving him blanched, blood running down his elbow as he clutches his forearm closer.

Niall experiences that odd feeling of not having expected the hammer to actually hit anything and the satisfaction of actually having struck something both at once. And for that moment he dares to peer down at the creature - for lack of a better descriptor - with hammer half raised, intent on smashing it again but this time in the face.

Unexpected, though, is the clawed hand that twitches out in a strike. Niall blunders out of the way, seeing the vet struck, but the mirror dropping through the hole makes him grimace with regret. "Hands of a surgeon," he utters with a short shake of his head. At Dina's word, the smith presses himself to a wall and turns his face. Shotguns are loud.

The hammer remains readied in his grip, though, as if just waiting for a second clawed hand to try and take a piece of his ankle and leg again.

Overkill seems to be just what they need. The fire makes it flinch, sending the burning sage to the already questionable floor. The fire that catches starts to spread and in the flicker of its like, they can see its shadow stretch and grow as it gets back to its feet, posture almost triumphant.

And that's just when bullets are their most useful. At this range, it's hard not to hit the creature, and the Ross women soon have it limp against the floor. But it's Cordelia's bullet that rips through that glowing eye, putting out the odd light and leaving the darkness with nothing to do but melt away. Creature and all.

Niall doesn't find a hand to smash, but what he is left with is a lot of fire swirling around them. And a wounded vet picking his way along to find Cas unconscious and bleeding just inside the nearby door.

And outside, a small boy lies curled up in overgrown grass, arms clutching his knees to his chest as he watches the darkness snuff out. Tears pour down his cheeks, his sobbing a mournful sound. The monster may be gone, but it has left its marks behind.