Anyone up for a little more elemental mischief?
Today I thought I’d give you a bit from the thick of the action, towards the end of the book, so without further ado
“Come on, Wynter, get a grip and get me in there!”
The witch fell to her knees, and for a horrible moment I thought she was going to blubber, but then I noticed the implements on the ground: a small cauldron, some pouches of who-knew-what. The remains of a fire.
Wynter’s hands shook as she tried to re-kindle the fire. For one ironic moment, I wished for Gloria. She’d have lit the charred sticks in an instant.
A tiny puff of smoke wisped upward and Wynter sprinkled dried grass around it, blowing delicately as she coaxed the infant flame. I stopped breathing.
“Find something to burn!” she ordered, and I scanned the hillside, grateful my vision was not as poor as human eyesight in the gloom. I located a cluster of twigs beneath a sheltering gorse bush and scooped them up.
“It’ll have to,” Wynter said, and now I heard steel in her voice. She sounded well pissed off. Finding out that your lover is using you can have that effect.
She poured a portion of oil into the cauldron and set it on a tripod above the little fire. Then she emptied out the contents of her pouches, muttering as she did so. I didn’t listen; I wanted nothing to do with human magic. I stared with laser beam eyes at the invisible spell shield, trying to burn a hole through it. The twined aromas of thyme and lavender swirled around me.
“Cassie, I need your help. Please?”
“What? You know I can’t do magic.”
She shook her head once. “I know. It’s your energy I need. Remember I told you I could use your elemental force to power this spell. Although I’m not sure if I can do it again.” She sounded frightened.
“But we’re going to try, aren’t we?” I found I was nodding my head animatedly up and down, like one of those executive toys some humans find amusing. Wynter’s head began to bob in harmony.
“We are, although…”
“What? Wynter, come on! There are lives at stake!”
The witch blinked, her eyes far away for a moment before snapping back into scalpel-sharp focus.
“I have an idea, so I do.”
My chest tightened. I wasn’t keen to experience another of Wynter’s ideas. She must have seen me flinch.
“Don’t worry, it’ll be easier than last time. I just need you to tap into a ley line. There’s one runs the length of Loch Ness. It’ll be much easier for me to convert that energy than yours; all you have to do is channel it to me. Yes?”
I wondered why I hadn’t thought of it myself. Except that although I knew it was there, I had no idea how to ‘tap into’ it. If truth be told, I tended to avoid ley lines—their energy frequency put my teeth on edge, like a fingernail down a chalk board.
“I have no idea how to do that,” I admitted.
“I’m guessing here,” said Wynter, “but based on your ability to travel to the astral, I reckon you should be able to do this.”
Suspicion flared. “Why can’t you do it?”
She fed a few twigs to the flames before answering.
“Because I can’t do it all. I need to speak the words and make the gestures to complete the counter-spell. Can you do that?”
“You know I can’t.”
“Then this bit is down to you, yes?”
“What do I have to do?”
“Reach into the water. You can do that, can’t you?”
“I’m a sprite, for gods’ sakes!”
She shook her head. “That’s not what I meant. Can you do it from here?”
“Oh. Yes, I can. And then?”
“You touch the ley line and you hold my hand. I should be able to draw the energy through you.”
Through me. I wasn’t convinced I liked the sound of that.
She must have noticed my hesitation.
“It’ll be alright, Cassie, so it will. Think of that girl whose life is in danger, okay?”
I didn’t much care for having Dawn’s predicament thrown back in my face, but Wynter was right. If this enabled the spell, then I’d put up with being used as a power cable.
I grabbed her hand before I could change my mind. Her skin was cold and clammy, and I wondered how exhausted she really was. I hoped I wouldn’t be sacrificing one life in an attempt to save another. She squeezed my fingers in encouragement.
I closed my eyes and reached into the dark waters below. My fluid fingers slid into the icy cold, questing for the ribbon of energy that pulsed along the deep, deep crevice at the base of the loch. Once, twice, something brushed against me. Fish? Or something else. I didn’t have time to find out.
I felt the warning tingle of the ley line a scant moment before it zapped me. A few years ago, I’d touched an electric fence—this was like that only more so. Pain engulfed my fingers and crept agonizingly up my arm as I clung on with dogged determination. If this was the only way to provide Wynter with the power she needed to complete her spell, I wasn’t going to let go. As the power reached my torso I could feel my whole body starting to vibrate. I tried to grit my teeth against the agony threatening to engulf me, but instead a strangled gasp escaped my lips.
I heard Wynter echo my cry. My whole body was rocking now with the violence of the current surging through it, but when I opened my eyes I realised that what had startled the witch wasn’t the energy pouring from my hand to hers—it was that I’d lit up like a Christmas tree! For the first and only time in my life, I hoped, my body blazed bright as a beacon, illuminating our surroundings as if Wynter’s little bonfire had burst into incandescence.
I prayed to the gods that there was no one around to see this extraordinary spectacle. We were well and truly exposed on the hillside above Liam’s workshop. At least at this time of evening, boats on the loch were a rarity.
The pain level increased. My molecules were shaking themselves apart. I believe that if I hadn’t been wrapped in the incredible magical skin formed from Dawn’s true-witch DNA, I would have disintegrated.
I’d always suspected that avoiding ley lines was a good idea. Now I knew why.
A bright flash burst across my sight and the agony vanished so abruptly that, for an instant, I thought I must have exploded after all.
What would it be like, dying? When you’re immortal it’s not something you tend to waste time considering. Perhaps this was it: the lack of pain, of light, of any sensory input. Would I simply float around forever in this void, aware but unable to experience anything?
But surely if I was dead, no one would be shouting at me?
I opened my eyes.
“Goddess be praised!”
Wynter hovered over me like a mother duck. “Feck, I’m sorry, I had no idea it would do that to you.”
I groaned and tried to sit up. This was when I discovered I was laying full length on the heather.
“Next time you have an idea, leave me out of it, please?”