Mara nearly wept with frustration over not being able to heal Dixon. She wrapped her arms around him to travel, then tried to find her way. She felt the current she was to grasp, but couldn't move. Frustrated, she looked up. "It's not working."
"I don't understand. Nothing works. I can't heal him. I can't travel with him." Then Mara had an idea. Her eyes opened wide. "Basha, let me try to take you."
"But I need to be here for him if you're unable to take him away."
"I'm just trying to figure out if I can do this at all." Mara samiled, faintly. "Trust me. You'll be glad you did."
The woman's eyes narrowed and her head tilted. "Why would that be?"
"Hurry, Basha, decide. Will you travel with me?"
Mara stood. She placed her hands out, palms up, inviting Basha to place hers on top. Once done, Mara wrapped her fingers around her hands. Almost instantly, she felt the current. She stepped into it in her mind and—
Her feet landed. She opened her eyes. "I did it! Basha, I did it!"
"Basha? Basha!" Therese cried, Mara's voice having awakened her. "Is that you?" She rustled up to a seated position, then jumped to her feet.
"Therese? Oh, dear Good One!" Basha turned to Mara. "You didn't tell me!" she exclaimed before rushing to her charge and embracing her.
"Surprise," Mara said with a grin. "Listen, I know you two have a homecoming to get to, but I need to go back. I just can't figure it out though. Why could I take you, Basha, and not Dixon? It doesn't make any sense."
Therese turned her gaze from her Oathtaker to Mara. "You tried to travel with him and couldn't?"
"No. I mean yes!" Mara was frustrated, angry. "I was able to travel with Basha, why not with Dixon? And I couldn't heal him either. Now Lilith is on her way back to him, I'm running out of time—and I don't think I'll get another chance. She might kill him this time!"
"Your magic just wouldn't work for him," Basha said, tearing her eyes from Therese.
"Exactly!" Mara exclaimed. She growled with frustration.
"Waaaaait a miiiiiinute," Basha cried, as understanding came to her. "I know why. Lilith banded him."
"Banded him!" Therese exclaimed.
"Mara, that's it! The band is blocking your magic," Therese said.
"Oh," Basha cried, "I'm so sorry. I should have thought of that sooner. The band cuts off all magic and you can't get past it."
"Yes, she can."
"But that's impossible. Lilith is the ranking Select and she banded Dixon. No one but Lilith or her own Oathtaker can remove it—or one who ranks higher than Dixon. And Marshall won't help. He wouldn't risk her ire. So the only other option that leaves, is the Council, and . . . Well, that's not really an option now, is it?"
Nina, now awakened, stood behind Mara. She stepped forward, Reigna in one arm, Eden in the other. "No, she's not," she said.
"No, who's not what?" Basha's brow dropped low, as she looked her way.
"She's not the ranking Select."
"Of course she is—"
"Basha," Nina interrupted, "meet the ranking members of the Select." She held the infants forward.
The woman looked at the twins, then to Nina, to Mara, and finally to Therese. "I don't understand."
"Look," Mara said, "I know there's a lot to fill you in on, but for the moment I need to know what to do about the band." She turned to Therese. "What do I do?"
"It's simple, really. All you need to do is open it."
"You mean, just grab the band and it'll open?"
"But how do I get my fingers under it?"
"It will release at your touch."
"Then I'm off!" Mara closed her eyes. She identified the current immediately. She jumped in mentally and moments later, found herself in Dixon's presence. She moved to his side.
The door burst open.
"Who are you?" a young woman demanded. She looked all around. "And where's Basha?"
"Shhhh," Mara cautioned. "You must be Adele." The girl really does have the most abominable timing!
"Yeeessss. Who are you?"
"My name's Mara. I've come to rescue Dixon." She reached for the band on his arm. Upon her touch, it slipped free.
"How'd you do that? Oh, I hear her now! Lilith is coming. You have to get out of here. She'll kill you!"
"I'm taking him with me."
"Taking him! Where to?"
"Adele, I don't have time. I've got to go. Quickly, before Lilith arrives, get away from here." Mara wrapped her arms around Dixon.
"Well, well, well," came Lilith's voice from the doorway. "What have we here?" She pushed Adele toward Mara and then stood, her back straight, glaring at the three of them.
Mara glanced at Dixon. She couldn't fail him now. She reached with her mind for her traveling stream.
"No!" Adele screamed.
Mara looked up as Lilith advanced.
Adele grasped Mara's arm, fell against her, then kicked out. "No, Lilith!"
Mara found the current. She prepared to jump in. She felt Dixon's added weight—and something more. Adele, holding her arm, was going to be caught up for the ride. Mara hoped that Lilith didn't reach them before they were all swept up into the traveling wave together. If so, she would deliver the woman right to the girls' hideaway.
She looked up and caught Lilith's eyes of fury, and in that instant she—vanished.
***Thank you for taking time with Oathtaker. I sincerely appreciate your votes and welcome your comments.***
Oathtaker is an award-winner in the 2014 Readers' Favorite International Book Award contest. A completed work, it is currently available in print form at CreateSpace at createspace.com/4767727, in print and for your Kindle on Amazon (see the link) and from Barnes and Noble for your Nook.
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An Oath Sworn. A Struggle Engaged. A Sacrifice Required. When Mara, a trained Oathtaker, is drawn by the scent of the Select to battle underworld beasts summoned by powers of evil to destroy the guardians of life, she swears a life oath for the prot...