It was a thought that chilled Anna to the bone. She ignored the shivers and shot another lightning bolt at three of the approaching Celryn, then managed to discern their plans.
They’re aiming for me but they want to bump you off as well, she told Matt. The group in the corner are going to charge at you next, whereas the ones in the corridor are focused on me. Out of the corner of her eye, Anna saw Matt nod, and she closed the mental link, needing all of her concentration to destroy the Celryn in front of her.
But an hour later, and they just kept coming. She and Matt were both tired, dispirited, and their powers were running low. They knew that they couldn’t keep this up for much longer.
Even as Anna realised this, two of the Celryn leapt on her. She was too slow to draw on her powers before they reached her, and she understood then that these two were different. The moment they touched her she could no longer access her magic – they had ways of blocking it.
Matt! She tried to call him mentally, but the thought didn’t reach him. Her projection had failed, and she was alone.
As the creatures lunged for her throat, curved blades and teeth drawing ever closer, Anna wished she had her sword. She slipped between the air, going ever so slightly out of their reach, drawing on all the Elements that she could reach, in an effort to escape them. Affinity was not magical, not really. It was simply being in touch with the world around, and thus she could still access this skill, even when in the grasp of these deadly creatures.
But not for long, for they soon realised what she had done, and closed in on her, five of them now. She felt herself give in to panic and her mind was overwhelmed with terror.
As they were about to touch her, a bright light appeared from the ceiling. It was golden, and Anna knew at once that this was something beyond the control of any mortal creature. But it stood for everything that was pure and good – it was liquid love and sacrifice, and it had come to save her.
As the light touched the Celryn, they were flung away, landing in a heap, where they lay dazed. A moment later, they got up, but instead of regrouping for another attack, they turned and fled, unable to bear the light.
“My child,” said a voice, and Anna was sure it came from the very centre of the light.
“Yes?” she said timidly.
“Don’t be afraid, because I am with you. Be at peace.” The light shone brighter for a moment, and then vanished, leaving behind a single feather, which fell in spirals, lit with the dim winter sunlight from outside.
It landed in the centre of the room, and as Anna came closer, she could see that it was a dove’s feather.