Either the Tor was further away than it seemed or my sense of time was completely distorted, but it seemed like we walked forever. My legs became heavy with tiredness till I could barely lift one foot in front of the other. I had a painful side stitch that at least took my mind somewhat off the pain in my head, while I began to feel flushed, feverish, perhaps on the edge of delirium, while Selena pulled ahead, seemingly possessed of inexhaustible energy.
"Selena! Wait up!" I cried, trying to keep the tremor of self-pity out of my voice. She looked back, gesturing, encouraging me to follow. "C'mon, you've gotta pick up your pace!" she called. "Ezekiel says if we don't hurry, the window will close and we'll be lost in the darkness forever."
"What window?" I wailed. "And anyway, why does Ezekiel only talk to you?" But she had already turned and was walking faster than before. Soon she was lost to my sight behind a jagged wall of rock and I was just about at the point of collapsing then and there. I was crying, gasping for breath, but I gave myself one final push, past the wall of rock like a row of broken, decayed teeth and there she stood, looking up toward the summit of Windrick's Tor.
"Thank God," I said through clenched teeth, and now I was burning, drenched with sweat, light headed and dizzy. "Selena, let's stop awhile and rest," I entreated.
"Not a good idea," she said. "We really are so close, I almost know the way, but we've got to be real careful. It'll be a disaster if we choose the wrong path."
I looked around in despair. "What path?" I cried, for I saw nothing on all sides but boulders and rocky ravines. But before Selena could answer, a dry cackling broke the silence. Startled, we looked behind us and saw standing there a hunched and disfigured hag wearing filth encrusted rags. Her long dark hair was lank and lusterless, matted and crawling with some sort of maggoty vermin.
Selena staggered several steps back. "Don't touch me!" she yelled, obviously freaked out, but for some reason I wasn't particularly frightened. Sure, she was ugly and she stank, but what sort of threat could this pathetic creature pose?
"Stand back, quickly," Selena whispered urgently. "Don't talk to it and don't look it in the eye. It's a demon." Now I looked more closely and suddenly I, too, was afraid. The reptilian eyes that briefly met my own radiated an evil more ancient than the sunócold, malignant and utterly inhuman. I inched my way to where Selena stood and clutched her hand.
I trembled. "Now what do we do? Haven't you any sort of magical object, a spell, anything? There's always something like that in fairy tales."
"This is no fairy tale," Selena assured me, and we both kept our eyes on that demon as it began to transform, developing fangs and claws and losing all resemblance to anything human, yet there remained a fixed grin that sent chills down my spine as the creature drew gradually closer and we were pinned against a rock.