Elizabeth clutched Darcy's arm tightly. She squinted at the horde in the distance, not believing what her eyes were telling her. It has to be a mirage, she thought. Glancing closer, she saw a red-coated man riding in their direction. She gasped and glanced up at her husband. Wickham. Darcy's eyes met hers, the same worried expression plaguing his face. Breaking his gaze, she glanced once more towards the hundreds of undead running in their direction.
She had brought him here. Rejecting his advances. Snubbing his plan in the end for a treaty between the living and the undead. Cutting off his arm. Trampling him with her horse. Marrying his enemy. And now he was not only going to take revenge against Lydia, but also on her family; on all of England, just like he promised.
She could hear shouts behind them as people began frantically running in search of shelter from the mob. Guests poured into the chapel while others ran in the direction of Rosing's Estate, only a little ways away. Elizabeth could see Bingley, Jane and the rest of her family fleeing towards the chapel. They would guard the guests should the undead breach chapel grounds.
Moving the fabric of her wedding dress aside, she bent over and removed one of the daggers hidden under her skirts. Sliding it from the dainty white garter on her upper right thigh, she made ready to meet her destiny. Gripping it tightly, she positioned her feet firmly in the gravel, watching the undead grow larger as they ascended upon the chapel.
"Run," she heard a familiar voice whisper close to her ear. She took in the panic expression on Darcy's face. "Run, Elizabeth," he urged again.
She could not believe the words coming from her husband's mouth. Run? She was a warrior. Like him, she was trained in the Deadly Arts. Honor and duty necessitated her to protect the living from the undead. How could she flee now, when principle and moral obligation demanded she stay and fight? To defend those who could not defend themselves.
"No," she answered stubbornly, her face full of shock. "Someone else..."
"Elizabeth, please," he insisted, cutting her off. She opened her mouth to protest again, but his mouth found hers first. One hand pressed the small of her back, drawing her closer to him. The other cupped her face. He kissed her with urgency; as if he knew this would be their last moments together before they met their Maker. His thumb ran along her cheek, memorizing her face. She wound her arms around his neck, her fingers gripping his hair. She fell against Darcy's hard body, giving into the few moments they had left as husband and wife.
All too soon, it was over. He released her, urging Elizabeth once more to protect the guests and make haste towards the safety of the chapel. Remembering her vows to honor the man standing before her, she regrettably obeyed and began to run towards sanctuary, knowing what she had to do.
She paused after only a few steps and turned. She saw Darcy flick his overcoat aside and reached for the hilt of his katana, skillfully unsheathing his blade. Running back, she flung herself around him, wanting one last kiss.
"Come back to me," she whispered against his lips. Elizabeth then pushed the dagger from her own hand into his. "Just in case," she said slowly pushing away.
"I am not leaving you unarmed," Darcy protested.
"You're not," she said, offering a wry smile. Pulling her skirts aside once more, she promptly revealed two more daggers. "I love you."
"And I you," he responded unwaveringly.
She turned and ran up the gravel walkway towards the chapel. She burst through the doors and made her way to the side of the room. Pushing through the panic stricken people, Elizabeth finally found what she was looking for. Grasping the bow and arrow and her katana, she made for the stairs leading to the roof, taking them two at a time. Jane and Bingley were already waiting.
"Wickham was still in pursuit?" inquired Bingley anxiously as he followed her across the rooftop.
"Yes," confirmed Elizabeth, "and William is in position."
Elizabeth stepped to the edge of the roof and positioned a Chinese fire arrow on the bowstring. Glancing over the ledge, she eyed Wickham. He was still leading the charge on horseback, his substitute arm raised in the air in mock jest. She noticed it resembled a wooden club, with various barbs protruding from the base- his very own makeshift weapon. As if sensing her stare, Wickham's eyes moved from Darcy and raised to meet her own. He smiled devilishly at her. The face she used to consider handsome now revolted her, his charming personality had been but a clever ruse. She loathed the sight of him. Elizabeth narrowed her eyes and sneered. She signaled to Jane to light the end, and Elizabeth pulled back the flaming arrow. Taking a deep breath, she aimed, and fired.
The arrow soared past the grounds and hit its mark just inside the open field. Upon reaching the dirt, the fire detonated a series of spark bombs just below the earth's surface. Each explosion caused a ripple effect across the meadow where the zombies descended. Dirt and flesh were flying throughout the air in the distance. Some zombie bodies began burning from the detonations, those still intact undead growling in agony. Elizabeth was overwhelmed by the smell of burning flesh, and she began to breathe out of her mouth. Soon over half the pasture had been cleared of zombies, thanks to her husband's deliberate preparation. With the horde now thinning, they should easily be able to overtake the remaining undead, including Wickham, once and for all.
From the rooftop, Elizabeth smiled, searching for Darcy, wanting to share in their small moment of triumph. When their eyes met, his face softened. He offered a smile, an action that had become less infrequent in their private moments together. This one was one of her favorites for it lit up his entire face. Even his eyes brightened. All too soon, however, the moment ended. Elizabeth released a scream as she helplessly watched his body being thrown backwards towards the chapel. He flew several feet through the air before landing with a thud harshly on the gravel path. She saw the smoke near where he was standing but moments ago. She frantically searched to see how a stray bomb had been detonated within the chapel grounds. Within the waves of chaos on the field, an immobile undead stood stoically grinning at her. Elizabeth took up another arrow, quickly placed it on the string, and fired, shooting the undead through the brain. The body crumbled to the ground. Looking frantically back at her husband, she saw Darcy's arm muscles tighten as he grasped blindly for his weapons and tried to right himself. Elizabeth dropped the bow and unsheathed her katana, running towards the stairs.
As she ran Elizabeth prayed the undead had not yet descend upon the grounds. Bingley and Jane followed closely at her heels. The rest of her sisters met them at the door, and many regimentals also stood by, ready to fight. Lydia looked more pale than usual but, like Kitty and Mary, she also was ready for battle. As they exited the chapel, Elizabeth saw Darcy was now standing upright, his katana in hand.
The zombies were almost to the front gate, but their pace had slowed given the crater that now expanded across the ground and bodies positioned in their way. As she reached Darcy, the regimentals ran past her, swords high in the air, ready to fend off the undead.
"I'm fine," Darcy said, already anticipating her question. His face was scraped and dirty, and he limped slightly as he walked towards her. She pulled him into a tight embrace. "Would you listen to me if I asked you to go back into the chapel?" he probed.
She offered him a chaste kiss on the cheek and responded, "You knew who I was when you married me." Her eyes danced with humor. Skillfully wielding her blade through the air, she glanced at her sisters, who waited anxiously to pounce on the undead. She made her way to the point position of their flock attack pattern, and they began moving towards the remaining undead. Bingley and Darcy followed behind them, ensuring no undead would sneak up behind the daunting women. The regimentals had managed to clear out some undead, but they were now almost surrounded by the horde. Darcy began shouting orders to the men.
The girls quickly made for them. Elizabeth raised her katana and decapitated the first male zombie to cross her path. Another female undead came at her, its teeth bared as she tried to take a bite of her flesh. Elizabeth stabbed the woman through the brain with her dagger and promptly kicked her off, glancing around for another victim. Her and her sisters continued fighting their way through the horde, finally reaching the regimentals.
Elizabeth saw one poor soldier had been turned during the fray and she quickly stabbed him, putting him out of his misery and sending his lifeless body to the ground. The regimentals now, with the help of the Bennet sisters and Darcy's commands, formulated a fixed blockade between the undead and the chapel. Right on cue, Aunt Catherine's Black Guard emerged from the trees on the other side of the field. The zombies were trapped.
They pressed on, slicing down the undead, making their way through the middle of the meadow. The once green grass was now red and sticky. Elizabeth had to be mindful of the undead bodies and depressions at her feet lest she trip and become food for a ravenous undead. Her sisters fought solidly beside her and soon they could see the Black Guard through the remaining zombies. Darcy and Bingley were now with the regimentals, voicing commands on how best to defeat the remaining undead.
A male zombie suddenly pounced on Elizabeth. Unlike her other opponents, this undead opened his arms, trying to take her into his grasp. Elizabeth sliced his right hand off as he reached for her. Blood spewed onto her white dress. Another more burly zombie male also came over, attempting to take her in his clutches. Elizabeth tried to fend him off as well, but another undead knocked the dagger from her left hand; her wrist now in his grasp. Elizabeth frantically tried to bring her katana around to sever the hand from this undead as well, but that arm was now being held by an undead twice her size. They were targeting her.
"Help!" she yelled to her closest sister, as she tried kicking the zombies and yanking her arms from the undead's clutches.
Jane rushed over, attempting to strike down the zombies that now surrounded her sister. They began half dragging, half carrying Elizabeth towards the woods, and she struggled even harder against their strong grips.
She saw Jane frantically fighting through the undead, attempting to get to her, but for every one that was struck down, another would take its place. They mockingly dragged her past Darcy who, upon seeing his wife's vulnerable state, began running towards her. His katana flashed through the air, striking down any undead that crossed his path. She had never seen him in battle before, and the sight before her was truly mesmerizing. He moved gracefully through the air, his weapons an extension of himself. He sliced an undead's throat lithely with the dagger Elizabeth had handed him earlier. Then, without taking his gaze from her, swiftly decapitated a zombie's head to his right. She could see the fierceness in his eyes, and she fought against the binds of the undead's clenches, wanting the safety of his arms.
One of the undead snickered at her. "You think he will be able to save you?" he taunted. "How cute."
His clutch on her tightened and he walked faster, urging the rest to pick up speed as well. Regardless of what he said, Elizabeth sensed he was wary of how close Darcy was getting to their group.
They were almost to the tree line when Elizabeth heard the sound of horse hooves sounding from the forest. She looked back frantically and saw Darcy still persevering towards her; Jane and Bingley now with him.
The air grew colder as they reached the shade of the trees. Elizabeth shuddered and continued resisting their grasp, determined to make their task as difficult as possible. If she could stall them but a little bit, Darcy could possibly make it to her. She heard him grunting nearby from exertion and was momentarily comforted.
Elizabeth looked around, trying to spot him, but was blocked by an undead man. She glanced up at him and saw he wasn't even looking down at her. Instead, his eyes were focused between the trees where five men were advancing towards them, all on horseback.
Elizabeth recognized the Four Horsemen from the portrait in Lady Catherine's hallway. They still matched, wearing their sullen, golden masks and black top hats and overcoats, but each was mounted upon a different colored horse: white, red, black, and pale. They sat silently as they rode, all moving in unison. In front of them rode Wickham on a black steed. Elizabeth could see his club arm more clearly now, its ironed barbs threatening.
As they got closer, Elizabeth began yelling for Darcy, struggling harder against the undead men holding her in place. Their grips only tightened with every kick and attempt to wiggle free, but she refused to give in. She could hear Darcy yelling her name along with the sounds of slain undead grunting and falling to the ground as he hastily advanced towards her.
Wickham halted his precession in front of Elizabeth and the undead surrounding her.
"Elizabeth," he said arrogantly, "what a pleasure it is to see you again." He scooted back in his saddle and motioned for her to join him. She raised her nose defiantly; shooting him the most loathsome stare she could conjure. Wickham promptly reached his hand towards his weapons belt and removed his pistol. He aimed it at Darcy, who was now fighting nearby just within the forest's depth. Elizabeth noticed some undead that had originally surrounded her were now fending him off.
"You misunderstand me," Wickham articulated. "It wasn't a suggestion. Come with me willingly and he lives, at least for now. If not…"
Wickham pulled back the trigger, daring her to make that selection. Her eyes widened, and Elizabeth quickly reviewed her options. She could try stalling until Darcy finished fighting his way over, but who was to say Wickham wouldn't shoot him anyways once he was within better distance. She could try freeing herself and fighting the undead with the daggers she still had within her skirts, but their grip on her arms was too tight. She then reasoned Wickham must want her unharmed for a reason, as the undead had been careful not to pierce her skin or bite her flesh. They were following direct orders.
Knowing no other option would guarantee his safety Elizabeth nodded in agreement. Wickham offered a coy smile and lowered his pistol. The undead dragged her forward and lifted her up onto the saddle.
"Did I not tell you before," he sensually whispered into her ear, "that we understood each other."
Elizabeth stiffened, and Wickham let out a fierce chuckle.
"Elizabeth!" Darcy yelled in desperation, running towards them. The undead blocked his way and Darcy sliced each down with mark precision, never looking away from his wife.
"Hold on," Wickham ordered her as he grabbed the reigns and urged the horse into a gallop.
Elizabeth looked over her shoulder at her husband. She searched his face and saw fear, dejection, and anger. She knew hers was a mirror image. She tried to memorize every worry crease on his brow, the way his overcoat tightened on his upper arms, the intensity in his eyes…
"I love you," she mouthed silently at him as she was hastened deeper into the forest.