As suddenly as the assault began, so did it end. Donnie stood at the ready for several long moments before finally letting his arms drop. Exhaustion buckled his knees and he slid into a seated position, back against the cool wall. Sweat poured from his brow and his shirt was soaked. His chest heaved and his muscles ached. He had not realized that he was trembling and only now wondered how he made it through the encounter. He chuckled at his lack of stamina. Too dependent on the arcane...and other things.
"This isn't good. Maintaining the circle and physically fighting?" He shook his head, face contorted into his usual smirk. Donnie looked over at Eve's supinated, unconscious form.
"Just how far DID you remove yourself from your former life? Our former life. I..." Donnie choked off his comment as the temperature sharply plummeted, causing his breath to frost. The light in the room flickered, giving the shadows temporary permission to dance. Donnie labored to his hands and knees, awkwardly gripping the staff.
Donnie froze. Fear blossomed in his chest but faded with the reverberation of the impact. He crawled over to the window and carefully parted the curtain.
Darkness. Impenetrable. Inexorable.
Laughter. Coarse and lilting? Robust AND subdued? In the distance? Now just behind his left ear. In the next room? Right outside of the window. It permeated the room, washing out what it did not abide, harmonizing with what it could. It was maddening. Donnie sat upright just left of the window. His eyes were squeezed shut and his hands were over his ears. He rocked back and forward, murmuring unintelligibly as tendrils of black ether began to seep into the room through the cracks of the window.
Donnie did not see when the blackness cascaded over the sill and billowed onto the floor beside him. He did not see the ichor creep slowly across the floor, devouring the last remaining light. He did not see as the abhorrent darkness washed over the the lithe, cropped haired female that lay unconscious in the center of the room.
He did see darkness. Impenetrable. Inexorable.
He felt its weight upon his shoulders, crushing, and around his heart, squeezing. It filled him and coursed through his arteries, driven to every cell by a traitorous heart; and in his lungs, displacing life giving oxygen. His hands and feet tingled as the inky mist rolled over them. He rocked harder and began slamming his head against the wall.
More laughter. Familiar. Too close to be anyone's but his. But he could not make himself stop. It was all pointless. The darkness had won.
Just give in to it. All there was left to do was throw his head back and...
Light. So bright it hurt even through Donnie's closed eyelids; and warm. Too warm to be comfortable. The light seemed to push away the laughter, both his and the...other...as if each had physical mass. So to did it affect the darkness within him, and the forlorn. Only clarity of mind remained. Donnie opened his eyes...
And there was Eve. She was inside her circle and from her pristine light pulsed in time with her heartbeat. She reached out a hand and Donnie grasped it, smirking...until the grip tightened, Eve chanted something barely audible. Donnie frowned worriedly but quickly stepped into the circle. He shot her a sidelong glance but said nothing, opting instead to nod knowingly.
"Now you can't weasel your way out of an explanation," Eve said flatly, more to herself than to Donnie. Not waiting to see if Donnie heard her or not, she inhaled and raised her arms to the heavens. Her voice rang clear as she began an incantation. The light emanating from Eve ebbed due to her shifted focus and with its recession, in rushed the darkness. It roiled at the border of the circle, recoiling in time with the now weaker pulsation of the light.
Donnie brushed aside the implied accusation with his customary tact. Having sussed out the spell, his worried visage was quickly replaced with his familiar smug expression.
"Wouldn't dream of it. Now, get us out of here."
Eve would have frowned if not for completing the gateway spell just as Donnie barked his command. The thought that he planned it that way never had time to form.