Chapter 17, Part 2 (End Chapter 17)

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"Jules," she swallowed hard, "if I'm wrong, please take good care of the girls until Ehyeh sends their new Oathtaker. Help Therese to get them safely to Lucy's."

He nodded.

"And take good care of Nina too. She's had a very difficult time."

He looked hard at her. His expression held a question, as though he tried to read whether she meant anything in particular by her comment.

"For me," she added, hoping she hadn't spoken out of turn.


"Very well then," she said as she she breathed in deeply and turned toward the altar, "the leap of faith."

She reached forward, jittering, then grasped the book. A surge of power raced through her. Her being tingled, vibrated. She gasped with the glory of it, felt an energy course through her center, as the lights seemed to slip into her. She looked down at her hand. It glowed.

"Mara!" Jules called.

His voice seemed far off. She put her hand out, cautioning him not to come nearer. Then slowly, the colors and lights died away.

It was several moments before she caught her breath. She looked at her companion. "Well! It seems I'm not to die today."

He grinned. "You had me worried for a minute there."

Something startled her. She jumped. "Did you see that?"


"Something just flitted by me." She brushed the top of her head and ducked. "What was that?"

"I didn't see anything." He looked about. "A bat maybe?"

"Ewwww, no, it wasn't a bat."

"What did it look like?"

"I didn't get a good look. It was just a flash of light. A shimmer. It was like it flitted out of the book and over my head."

He hesitated, then laughed, the tension finally released. "Don't tell me you believe in fairies now."

"Actually, I'm not sure anything is beyond belief anymore. Did you see what just happened?"

They laughed softly, as comrades who together had come through a difficult time, a battle, then watched as the altar shimmered and melted away. They looked down. The bones beneath their feet turned to dust.

"Whoa!" Mara exclaimed. "All right then, let's join the others. I think they've held off remarkably well."

When they reached the ground floor, Therese was waiting for them. "What happened?"

"Is everything under control?" Samuel asked, his eyes on Jules.

"All is well," Mara said. "We've just had a little—"

"Adventure," Jules interrupted.

Mara laughed. "Yes, an adventure."

"Well?" Therese asked.

"You go ahead," Jules waved at Mara, "I'm going to find scraps for a fire. We all need to dry off and warm up."

Mara and the others sat shivering, on stumps and old pails that Samuel and Therese had collected and placed in a semi-circle before the hearth. The cold wind had found its way inside through nooks and crannies in the exterior walls.

The Oathtaker filled her friends in on what had happened in the cavern.

Jules dropped off a load of wood and put some in the hearth, then walked away.

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