I watched Morgan kneel in front of the beast that Ash had become, and gasped. I had seem him fleetingly in the meadow in Morgan's dream, but the Van Helsings must have worked on him again. He was absolutely hideous! Even though there was little physical evidence of humanity in Ash, his aura showed otherwise. There was still some human in him, and his love for Morgan was there too, although masked by the layers of emotional scar tissue that his parents had heaped on him. Only the deepest evil could do such a thing to their own child.
I shivered in the damp and cold. We had to get Morgan out of this dungeon, but I was pretty sure she wasn't going anywhere without Ash. Her love for him was pure and total. She would sacrifice herself trying to cure him, and I just couldn't let that happen. If it looked like Ash was losing his battle to regain his humanity, then Thalion would have to destroy him, if that was even possible. I knelt beside her and explained that he was torn. She looked up at me and refused to leave him, then went back to trying to get him to look at her. She reached out to him, but he continued to cower in the corner.
I focused my telekinetic energy on Ash's swollen monstrous head, and forced him to face in Morgan's direction. He squeezed his eyes shut. I couldn't make him look at her, but at least she'd be right there in front of him, should his human side win out. I put my hand under her elbow, and started to back out of the cell, while I pulled her with me.
“Whaaaa ... what are you doing?”
Morgan pulled her elbow free and turned toward Ash again. This time I took her right hand and held it tight, and tried to reason with her.
“Morgan, we have to get out of here. Your Dad, your friends, and our Elven archers are up there in a helicopter fighting off the Van Helsing's evil minions. I don't know how it's going, but we can't stay here,” I told her.
I felt a light touch on my arm as Thalion slipped over to Morgan's other side, and took her left hand. His voice was cool and authoritative, very much the Elven general, as he spoke to her.
“Queen Helena is somewhere on the other side of the forest, I think. I'm not sure where she is now. She came in on another helicopter. In any case, we all came here to rescue you, and rescue you, we will. If you can get Ash to follow you, fine. If he doesn't, I'll have to shut him back up in this cell. If his bestial side wins out, he might join the VH's other creatures against us. If it looks like that will happen, I'll have to destroy him, if I can.”
Morgan and I gasped at the same time. “Nooooooooooo!” we both screamed.
“You can't kill Ash, it will destroy Morgan,” I stood up, still attached at the hand to my best friend.
“You choose to argue NOW ... really?”
He looked at me with disapproval emanating through every pore. As much as I loved the man, he wasn't the most sensitive elf in the world. Sometimes he just pissed me off. This was one of those times.
“Yes, really! Morgan isn't going anywhere without Ash, so we'll have to bring him with us,” I snarled at him.
My attention was taken from Thalion, when Ash gave a sudden groan and clutched his neck, as he cowered further back into the corner. I could see his aura shimmer with scarlet pain. I trained the powerful flashlight on Ash's neck and chest. There was a silver band or collar of some sort on him, that was obviously being used as a conduit to deliver a severe shock treatment. Morgan sobbed for Ash's pain and anguish. She raised her tear filled eyes to Thalion, who stood beside me.
“Do you think you can remove that collar, Your Highness?” her voice almost pleaded with him.
“I can try, but I'm sure there are a lot of protective charms and spells on it. It won't be like making the door disappear. The best I can do is loosen it, then maybe Gloria can pull it off with her telekinesis.” He looked over at me, his momentary annoyance forgotten.
“I'll do what I can, but if Ash can't pull it off, I don't know if I'll be much help.”
“Your power is stronger than you think my darling, especially when your emotions are involved. You just have to pull your hardest when I tell you to. Morgan, please keep your air barrier up the whole time, in case he lunges at you.”
Morgan nodded, while keeping her eyes locked on Ash. Thalion took some evil smelling powder from a small pouch around his neck. He rubbed it between his palms as he chanted over them. With a quick and sudden shout, he launched the powder at Ash in a concentrated stream. Ash looked up just as the powder wound its way around his neck in a glittering golden chain. It pulsed with energy as it worked on the silver collar. He instinctively reached for his neck, but his bestial clawed hand bounced ineffectually off of the energy stream. I watched closely, with both of my hands outstretched, ready to use my ability on command.
“Now Gloria, PULL!” Thalion shouted.
I cupped my hands and held them out toward Ash, opening and closing them in a pulling motion. At first the golden chain of energy did nothing, then it slowly came toward me, with Ash's silver collar woven in and out of it. I could see Ash's aura change from pain to surprise, to amazement as the collar came away from his body. When the glittering chain of energy reached half the distance, Thalion gave a chanting shout and threw one hand up in the air. Both energy and collar disappeared. I heaved a sigh of relief, then looked down at Morgan, who was still kneeling in front of Ash. Her hand was held toward him. I watched his aura closely for any sign of danger toward Morgan, but there was none. He looked down at Morgan, and I could see recognition in his eyes. He slowly reached his hand toward Morgan, who took it gently and stood up.
“We have to go up the stairs now Ash, will you follow me ... please?” she asked, with love and concern in her voice.
Ash felt his neck with his other hand to make sure the collar wouldn't prevent him from leaving the cell. Satisfied that it was no longer there, he stood up and towered above all three of us. He moved forward slowly, one step at a time, allowing Morgan to lead him. She couldn't keep the air cushion between them as she climbed, because the steps were slippery with moss and damp, so she had to concentrate on the steps. I trained the powerful flashlight on the stairs, to lead the way. Thalion had unobtrusively flown over Ash's head and followed behind, ready to attack him from behind if he gave the slightest indication of aggression.
It was a slow process, but eventually we got up to ground level, where we could hear what was going on above us. It sounded like all Hell had broken loose! When we got to the parapet, we saw Galen and Llewellyn shooting bonfire size flames at some creatures that were crawling up the outside stone wall. Ash stepped forward and enclosed Morgan protectively with his wings as he hissed fiercely at everyone and everything around him. I breathed a sigh of relief. Ash's aura showed a flicker of love, and a great deal of concern for Morgan's well being.