CHAPTER THIRTY

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     Elsie spoke to herself under her breath. "Oh Light, what is she going on about?" She happened to glance out the window and see Chloe fussing over Avos. Oh, leave her to it, what harm could she do, she thought. She swatted her hand at them in dismissal and turned away.

     What she really needed to do was gather the rest of her magical stash. There were certain items she left hidden away for safety reasons, and her reputation. Still, some were in plain sight; she grabbed some acorns from a bowl on her counter, some beads and some shells. What she really needed was something she started collecting when she first came into Chloe's service, something that she had been ashamed to do, but had done just the same.

She pulled out and unhitched one of her kitchen drawers and dumped its contents on to the counter. She turned it upside down and pulled loose a small pouch. It was green velvet, fastened to the underside of the drawer by the very string that kept it closed. She untied it once again and looked inside at her collection of tiny bones. She knotted it back up and thanked herself for establishing the small stockpile.

     When she first thought of collecting the small bones of her patients, she was appalled with herself. Though every time the opportunity presented itself, the urge to remove a finger or toe was too strong. She only removed digits from the newborns who had died and were to be prepared for cremation, she made sure she wasn't discovered.  Each time, she felt it was important,  that someday she would need the newly formed bones to perform a unique spell, a Spirit Walk.

     "Thank the Light, I'm not crazy," she proclaimed. There were thirteen small bones; six little fingers and seven little toes. "Thank you too, my angels." She held the bones close to her heart and offered up her thanks to the earth.

     With these bones and the other items she gathered, her and Avos would be able to perform a Spirit Walk to the Scourge. The bones were an anchor to the essence of the child who'd died. Their shade or spirit were always the most prone to help. It was a dangerous spell and it could endanger them here while in Bolster City. If anyone found them during the crafting of the spell, it would look like they were meditating. Though if there was an emergency, they would be unresponsive and unprotected and it could put their lives at risk. Nonetheless, as long as the spell held they would be unable to communicate with the physical world in any way until their essences were brought back into their bodies. If another attack occurred, or a fire, they would be helpless.

     Elise hurried out of the care-house and made her way back up to where she left Avos . His Aunt was still with him.  She looked sad, worried and oddly upset with Elise for some reason. Elsie had a bit of a stare down with her before she sat down at the table with Avos and began picking some food off his plate.

     "Thanks, Chloe," she said smugly. Where's my plate? Light, I am the bloody one about to risk my life here for a man I just met! And Faeron and Marcus. Light! For all of Valterra. She reigned in her nerves, and grabbed hold of a necklace she had tucked under her dress. It was a beautiful lilac stone called a peace stone. They were very rare but it was believed the stone helped relieve stress and guarded one from negative energies. She drew from it, her thoughts on Marcus and rescuing him. Faeron's face appeared. His calm strength entered her own. Her fears and annoyance with Chloe dissipated. She dropped it back down under her dress. Her face blushed at her surprise to see the elf. Then she remembered his lock of hair, still tucked away in her pocket. Her hand dove into her pocket and she smiled as she delicately caressed it with her fingers.

She knew she was ready to perform the spell. She had all she needed. She grabbed some more bread and stuffed it in her cheek.

     "Almost ready?" She asked Avos with mouthful.

     "If you are, I am."

      "Ok.  Chloe, do you understand your part in this?"

     "Of course, girl. I'm no dimwit," Chloe snapped. If not for the spell she secretly conjured, Elise would have felt a stab of pain from her quick words. What had happened? This was Chloe, her mentor. This was Chloe whom she had spent the last years of her life with, delivering countless children into the world with, someone she had been able to count on. What had changed? She looked at Avos who was looking towards his Aunt with an expression of guilt upon his face. Of course; family ties, end of the world, Primordials brewing.  She probably blames me.

     "Chloe, you are with us then? We need you now more than ever." Elsie held out her hand for her to grasp. Chloe stared at it for only a moment before taking it and grabbing hold of it in both of her own.

     "Do whatever it takes to protect my nephew. I'm counting on you too. Leave the rest to me. I know what to do."

     "Ok then, before I lose my nerve. Elise, shall we?" Avos motioned to the Citadel. Elise had figured the best place to be protected with the less likelihood of being interrupted would be in Lucinde's old quarters. She thought perhaps some trace of her imprint would make it easier to travel to where she was now, The Scourge.

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