Chapter 39

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Evelyn fell in a rolling heap across damp earth and decaying leaves. The light of the spell faded as quickly as it began, leaving Evelyn almost completely in the dark. She stayed on the ground for a moment to allow dizziness and nausea to subside. When the world finally stopped spinning Evelyn sat up and observed her surroundings.

She was alone within the dark shadows of an old forest, one that looked to be long ignored by civilization. The trees were much thicker than any she had ever seen, the air heavier. Moonlight filtered through the sparse openings of the canopy in silver patches, illuminating some areas while darkening others. The sharp contrast between light and dark destroyed Evelyn's ability to see further than a stone's throw.

"Puck?" she called, voice seeming to echo in the darkness. "Where are you?"

"I'm here, Eve," he called back. Evelyn found his small form approaching like a shadow between rays of moonlight.

"Where did you go?" she asked, breathing a sigh of relief.

"I'm sorry about that, Eve," he said, it's not a liminal spell, it's just traveling magic. It's unpredictable, it'll take you close to where you want to go, but not right to the spot. And usually not together."

"So what's a liminal?" Evelyn asked, brushing herself off.

Puck took a step closer and held out his hand, bright violet eyes reflecting like gems. "It's what I'm taking you to. It's a doorway, and like a doorway it stays in one place and only leads to one place. Much more powerful, but much more difficult to keep alive."

"Alive?" Evelyn took Puck's hand, allowing him to lead her into the darkness.

"Yes, it's why we have to go through tonight. They gave it just enough magic to last until now. After tonight, the magic will die forever."

"And what about the ring you tricked me into giving Brandon? Will that die as well?" Evelyn snapped, wanting nothing more than to strike Puck again.

"No, that's not a spell. It's an enchantment."

"I don't know if I'll ever be able to forgive you for that."

"I know," Puck's voice was trembling. "I'm sorry, she gave me no choice. Titania won't allow you to stay here without consequence. She's made her decision."

"To destroy my life. And you helped," Evelyn said, wiping tears from her eyes.

Puck was openly weeping as they made their way along the darkened path. "I'll make it up to you, Eve. I don't know how, but I promise I will."

It wasn't long before they came to one of the oldest looking trees Evelyn had ever seen. Wide enough to drive a car through at the base, it's trunk protruded from the ground like a medieval tower, growing so impossibly high that Evelyn had trouble making out its lowest branches. She could feel its age, its power. Like the tingling of static electricity running through her bones, the ancient tree called out to her, as if in welcoming. "What is this place?" Evelyn asked, awestruck.

"The last piece of magic left in this world from ours. The only remaining liminal, created by the most powerful mages of the kingdom. It's a living enchantment, Eve, deciding who it will and won't allow passage."

"And if you step through and it doesn't like you?"

"Then it kills you," Puck said simply. "Eve, once I open the door we have to go through. Its magic is strong, but not strong enough to survive for more than a couple minutes. Time moves differently in our world, flowing so much faster than this one. The liminal has to balance that difference out, has to take a piece of both worlds and blend them together. Otherwise the change will tear us apart," he looked up to Evelyn with warning in his eyes.

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