Chapter 24. The Black Witch

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The missile flew past the opening, hitting the rocks above the cove. The earth shook in strong tremors. Instinct took authority over her mind. Clara conjured a spherical shield. It grew out all around them, covering the cavern in a transparent hemisphere.

Chunks of rocks fell from the ceiling, stalactites plummeting like lethal knives. Red juhrars flew out of walls, fleeing from their nests. They all pummelled on her shield. The impact left her gasping for breaths. Each hit felt like a blow to her body. She channelled her power into the shield, hardening it.  Giving in would mean getting buried in a mass of debris.

“I can’t hold it for too long,” she said through gritted teeth.

Eryx created a smaller shield, placing it in front of the entrance. “Stay behind me.”

They ran out of the cove. She stopped tapping her magic to her shield the moment she was out. A cacophony of cracking glass and shattering rocks rumbled behind her. They raced along the beach, mounting the ragars. Eryx’s shield protected them from a barrage of black spears. Sending off a trickle of her magic on his shield, Clara strengthened it. The creatures flew out of the island.

She glanced behind her, spotting the ship. Most of it was concealed in thick smoke but from the gaps, she could see many figures in dark cloaks. Her eyes widened.

“Move away!” she said.

A torrent of projectiles were fired at them. Rai forced the ragar to the right. She gripped his waist, ducking her head. Eryx’s shield broke under the assault. Their ragar cried out when a spear pierced its body.

“We’re hit!” Rai said.

Weakened, the ragar swooped down fast, the movement dizzying her. She bit back a scream and closed her eyes.

“No!” Tamer yelled.

Clara heard Eryx screaming at Tamer to force the ragars to keep going. Eryx flew down to them, following their descent. Blue tendrils shot out of his right palm, hooking onto their ragar. He was muttering a spell so fast she couldn’t catch any word. The ragar made clicking sounds then froze in mid-air before rising up. It had been healed.

They flew further from the ship until it became nothing but a speck of black in a splash of blue.

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“I can’t believe we made it,” Rai said, tossing his head from side to side.

An hour had passed since the close encounter with the enemy. Tired and shaken, no one had spoken during that time. It was as if they had been stuck in a stupor.

Tamer looked over his shoulder, eyes stopping on her. “Is anyone hurt?”

“Everyone’s all right,” Rai replied.

She wanted to express her gratitude to Eryx. If it wasn’t for him, they would have fallen into the sea.

“Eryx, I—”

“No need to thank me,” he said.

Clara winced. “I should have stopped the fall with my magic.”

He squeezed her shoulder. “You panicked. It’s understandable.”

She felt a sliver of unease. Turning her attention to Enki, she noticed he was staring at her, his black eyes icy and calculating. Eryx waved his hand at him. The net transformed into a cloth that covered his head.

“He won’t be able to see or hear us,” the Zamari said to her. “I’ll take out the spell that binds him to me.”

He made his ragar be at level with Tamer’s. Taking out a rope from his bag, he spoke to Tamer before tying up Enki to the ragar so that the man wouldn’t fall.

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