Book cover of “Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die“ by Kim_Lei

Cross Your Heart and Hope to Die

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Age: 18+
  • Status: Ongoing
  • Language: English
  • Author: Kim_Lei
  • Uploaded by user198582
Ayla was the chosen child of her generation, the one destined to seal away the demonic ring of nightmare and banish the Demon King forever. Her destiny was intertwined with the ancient prophecies that spoke of a savior arriving from another world, heralding the end of darkness. When Richard Clayton appeared, Ayla took it as a sign from the gods tha... 

Hell on Your Heels

Bitter cold wind and thick brambles tore at Ayla's cloak as she stumbled over gnarled roots and wove through ancient pines. Her breathing was labored as she ran towards the last place, she wanted to be on the night of a blood moon— the old necropolis. She overbalanced, crashing into damp moss and thick mud. Exhausted and weary she thought bitterly, "This is miserable. Just let me die here and spare myself the agony."

Somewhere in the darkness, a heart-wrenching wail filled the night. She wondered who had fallen prey to the demon. She hoped against hope that it was not her lover, Richard nor her best friend, Mannu. She wanted to quit but she needed to keep going — she needed to perform the ritual or else everyone would die. She forced herself to her feet and sprinted towards the rusted wrought iron gate inside a looming thick gray stone archway bordered by tall walls. 'They warned us not to look back. When hell is chasing you, never look back, or it will claim you.'

Ayla crashed against the gate, forcing it open in a panic. Her eyes darted across the desolate landscape of ancient tombstones, crumbling mausoleums, and untended wild shrubbery and rosebushes. A sliver of crimson moonlight illuminated a large mausoleum carved of ivy, and moss-covered white stone across an overgrown walkway edged with bushes. 'Yes! That's the one!'

"Keep going, Ayla! We're right behind you!" Mannu called from somewhere near the gate. Ayla hoped that meant that least Richard, the traveler from the other world, had survived.

Without looking back, Ayla pressed on. When she cleared the distance to the mausoleum, she tested the door. Someone securely locked the primeval lock, and Ayla did not have the time to pick it. Ayla pressed her hand against the lock with a murmur, making the metal freeze solid before she kicked the latch as hard as she could. The metal shattered, and she pressed deeper into the dark crypt.

Extinguished torches lined the musty stone walls. "Luminus." Flames sputtered to life in the braziers, illuminating the dark corridors. Ayla's boots echoed against the stone as she searched for the central chamber. 'Bantu said there was a mechanism that leads to a binding circle within the inner sanctuary. I have to find it!'

Ayla heard shouting at the front of the mausoleum but couldn't make out the words. She hurried, not wanting to risk that the noises meant the demon had set upon them. Ayla saw a glint of gold in a chamber and slid to a halt. Panting, she read the glyphs on the walls as the flame spell caught the rooms of ancient braziers.

'This is it! Now the mechanism' Ayla frantically pressed her hands against the walls. Behind her, she heard a scraping shuffle and heavy breathing.

"Ayla. Thank the gods you found it! Here," Bantu's voice was haggard, but Ayla recognized the warmth in his voice and the scent of clove oil that marked his magic. She risked a quick smile over her shoulder to see the middle-aged wizard's torn and muddy clothing. He thumped his gnarled staff against the floor, sending a trembling vibration through the stone.

Stone scraped against stone, revealing the hidden entrance to a smaller square room lined with ledges covered with candles that lit up clockwise. A large black stone table rested in the middle of the room. Bantu gestured for Ayla to enter the chamber first.

Ayla pressed her trembling hands against the table, looking up at Bantu for guidance. Her violet eyes were full of fear.

Bantu took a moment to admire her fine youthful facial features before placing a reassuring hand to steady Ayla's. "You've accomplished so much. I regret that so much more still rests on your shoulders."

Ayla nodded taking a deep breath. "I am ready. What must we do to stop this?"

"Stretch your shirt across the table and quickly place five candles upon the surface," Bantu instructed. His expression hardened as he heard something that was beyond Ayla's range of senses. "Quickly. I'll ward the way for the others!" The wizard raised his staff and began speaking in a language Ayla didn't understand.

Ayla cast her cloak to one side; her raven black hair tumbled down across her shoulders as she hastily removed her shirt. 'It is only linen, but it should still fill the ritual component for a white cloth.' She stretched out her shirt before grabbing five candles from the ledge closest to her. 'They have to go into the shape of a star.' She arranged the candles, glancing up to Bantu for further instructions.

Bantu pulled a knife from a sheath at his side and sliced open the palm of his hand. He was hurriedly drawing a crude sigil around the fives candles while intoning his spell.

Ayla shivered, crossing her arms over her naked breasts as she waited for her next set of instructions. Her gaze wandered to the doorway as the din grew louder outside. It'd all lead up to this moment, now was the moment where she'd fulfill her promise as the chosen one. Her and her companions would the ring of nightmare and vanquish the demon king once and for all!

"Now press the ring against your belly! There is only one way to seal this away for eternity to keep it out of his hands! Say this now, without hesitation: Blood to blood, I bind," he desperately urged as he felt a change in the air of the room. It harkened to a storm before lightning struck.

The hair on the back of Ayla's neck stood on end as she slipped the ring from her finger and pressed it against her stomach. She cleared her throat, drawing from her well of fortitude to endure the trials that were waiting for her. "Blood to blood, I bind thee ring into my blood to pass from son to son to son forever and always. For all eternity, until my blood is no more!"

Ayla winced as the metal burned through her skin into her body and branded itself on her true self, her immortal soul, without leaving a trace of its passing. An icy wind shrieked at the doorway and extinguished the candles. She paled. Had it not worked?

"Ayla, stand..." Bantu's voice floated in the darkness and slammed with a sickening crunch against the wall.

Ayla spun around, grabbing her dagger from its sheath on her hip. Her back pressed against the cold stone of the table. She had nowhere to run. The door was the only way entrance. She started forward but was stopped by a tightening boney grip against her throat, lifting her struggling form into the air.

"Woman, you have played me a fool for the last time," the hollow voice hissed into her face with putrid breath. "This'll never end. Your soul will have no peace for the trouble you have caused me." Boney talon raked across Ayla's skin, ripping away the last of her clothes and drawing blood.

Ayla flailed as the demon slammed her against the table, scattering the implements and the force making her dagger fall from her hand.

She wondered if the others were safe somewhere in the graveyard. Her heart raced as she struggled for breath, her hands desperately clawing at the demon's face. Ayla set her jaw as the demon's weight pressed down against her hips. 'I will not be violated further.' Her rage gave her voice power, "I... condemn you... to your blind hatred!" A brilliant flash erupted from her hands and relit the candles as she threw the demon from her body.

A skeletal deer skull leered at her from the shoulders of a misshapen monstrosity before it was hurled back into the darkness from whence it came with an agonizing howl.

Ayla lay on the table for a moment bleeding, bruised, and trembling, but she was alive. She looked to Bantu's crumpled form on the floor and sniffed. 'I do not have time to cry. I need to heal Bantu.' She moved from the table to Bantu's side, intoning a healing spell once she saw his labored breathing. "Bantu, I'll heal you."

Behind her was a familiar heavy boot falls and the smell of hickory smoke; Ayla looked up at the traveler from the other world. Richard stood with his sword dripping blood and ichor while panting from exertion fresh from the melee outside. "Ayla, thank god you are okay!"

Ayla nodded. "Yes, we managed just in time."

"D*mn it means I blew it. I knew I should have killed the wizard earlier."

"What?" Ayla froze as she stared in horror at Richard. An unsettling cold settled over her at the realization of Richard's appearance, that was Mannu's family sword in the other worlder's hands.

Richard ran a hand over his red hair with a calm smile. "I guess it's a bad ending for me then. Oh well, the demon promised to send me home if I killed you."

Ayla moved to protect Bantu, who had not woken back up. She remembered that she was naked and covered herself as Richard leered at her.

Richard knelt and laughed. "Guess this is goodbye to you and your horrible world."

"But you... you promised to help us." Ayla tried to buy herself more time. Bantu should wake back up in a few moments if she could keep him talking. "And you... and I were..."

Richard shook his head. "I've had better. Whatever. Promises do not mean a d*mn thing in this world." He absentmindedly thrust the sword through Ayla's ribcage.

Ayla's hands trembled as her lungs filled with blood; she latched onto his hands and muttered into his ear. "I curse you, Richard Clayton. You'll not see the last on me. Foul betrayer. I'll follow you to the ends of time and space until the last star dies." A lifetime of magic surged through her— spilling out and wrapping around her betrayer in an explosion of heat.

For Ayla, there was nothing left but darkness.

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