The following is an excerpt from LadyStar: No Savage Under This Moon
Shannon arrived at Jessica’s side only a moment before Talitha did. Neither had to say a word. Jessica’s left leg told the story. An eight-inch dessicated gash traveled lengthwise from her ankle up the side of her calf. The blood was already turning white.
The Huntress pulled the latch at the center of her harness. Her quiver, pack and bow fell to the ground. Shannon could hear and smell the foul burning decay of lycanthropic ichor. The essence of the unliving. The bane of all wilderness.
It was the Bloodlune.
They had moments, if that. The Huntress better than any other knew the terrible dilemma that awaited her if there was but a single failure among her next urgent actions.
If Jessica turned, and became a creature like that which had attacked and infected her, the Warrior of the Night would have no choice.
The Night Warrior closed her eyes and caught her breath. She tried to ignore the voice of her best friend, and the panic welling inside her throat. Jessica put her hand on Shannon’s arm.
“Make sure Teko–” A convulsion wracked Jessica’s body, and her shoulders and back arched off the ground. She turned to one side, revealing the sheets of foaming discharge covering the wound to her leg. Her skin was beginning to darken, and pustules were forming around the ragged edges of torn skin and muscle.
“How far is the river?” Shannon hissed.
Talitha was desperately trying to take inventory of her healing powers. Ranko arrived a moment later, casting her Hammer to one side. Despite her destructive might, Ranko felt powerless in the face of what she did not understand.
Talitha shrank back, startled by the Huntress’ sharp voice.
“A-about a mile.”
“Not enough time,” Shannon growled.
Jessica inhaled and her head bent back. She wailed at the top of her lungs until her voice broke at the lack of breath. She rolled to one side and Shannon pulled her back so her shoulders were flat. She slid a wide chunk of rolled cershay hide between Jessica’s teeth and pushed her chin up until she bit it.
“Can’t we heal her?” Ranko asked, grasping at any possibility.
Shannon shook her head as Talitha’s formidable imagination cast itself into the blackness of the impossible looking for any scrap of hope.
“This isn’t a natural toxin,” Talitha said almost inaudibly. “I can’t neutralize undeath.”
Shannon pounded a small pile of black roots with her fist. Her motions were heedless and rash. Ranko could see the gathering tears in the Night Warrior’s eyes.
“Reina,” Ranko offered, now concerned for Shannon as well.
“Look at her eyes…” Talitha whispered. Jessica’s irises were becoming pallid. The blue color was slowly fading to a sickly pale white.
“There are no shortcuts,” Shannon exhaled through clenched teeth, wincing at the sudden strength of the gauntleted hand on her arm. Jessica’s fingers were growing thinner and sharper.
Jessica keened a rasping howl-like sound through the hide bit.
“This is a demon contagion. Death with a purpose,” Shannon finished.
“But, Reina’s powers are all based on–”
“Healing the living!” Shannon shouted. “You can’t take the powers of life and use them to nourish death!” The Huntress returned to gathering the small quantity of herbs in front of her. “Reina’s healing power would dissolve half of Jessica’s blood, and we’d be forced to fight the soulless thing left behind.”
“We can’t fight one of our own!” Ranko exclaimed, horrified at the mere suggestion.
“Oh yes we can,” Shannon replied. “There’s no way I’m going to allow this blight one foot closer to Escator and all those people. Those children.”
“Shannon, we can’t just–” Talitha’s soothing voice was overwhelmed by the Huntress’ icy, piercing glare.
“I will not abide another savage loose under this moon. So help me, if she turns–” Shannon choked on her next breath. She blinked back tears and opened her mouth, holding her duty back as long as she could. Her face reddened and her eyelids swelled. She inhaled deeply and used all of her breath to utter the words.
“I’ll kill her.”