Marcus, who had come to stand beside me, had the Never-born fan out, and I saw that he hoped to distract the man so that one of them could reach the creches and armor himself. But the enemy would not be fooled, and struck first. He strode forward and to his left as quick as any deer and struck with one fist too fast to see. The head of the farthest Never-born shot back, and I felt a sharp pain in my face and skull. He crumpled, dead. Marcus shouted again, and the rest of the Never-born surged forward, meaning to bring the man down.
“Your knife!” Marcus hissed, and followed them.
For once, I did not fumble between my sword and the Profusionist blade. The dagger leapt into my hand, and I ran forward. The Never-born had thrown themselves on the armored man, but he shook them off as though they had been fleas. Thrown, they tumbled to the corners of the room, but landed on their feet. Just as they drew themselves up to try again, I asked the Well to admit more Never-born, and it replied that it could not, so long as we fought within its interior. We spread out to surround our enemy again.
Then the armored man kicked, which I did not expect, toward the farthest Never-born. He drew his foot back before I knew anything had happened, but I felt the pain in my chest as his target doubled over, ribs shattered. The rest of us surged forward, I with my dagger raised high. The armored man saw that, of course, and turned to strike me with his fist.
And Marcus, who had been on my left, stepped behind me fluidly and pushed me forward. The enemy’s fist tore into my mid-section. I had thought the smilodon had hit me hard; nothing natural could have struck as hard as this. The world exploded. Steel bent. There came a sharp sucking sound. All the breath went out of me. I felt impaled by some great spear.
Someone, it had to have been Marcus, grabbed my right arm and pushed it forward, faster and much harder than I could have struck with the dagger on my own. When my vision cleared I saw my hand holding the Profusionist blade. Marcus has pushed my dagger through the enemy’s armor and upward through his neck. He fell away with a slick sickening sound. A million shards of fire from my gut tore through all the rest of me.