Chapter 18, Part 2 (End Chapter 18)

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With a thump, she landed, Dixon beneath her. Worried she might crush his already damaged ribs even more, Mara quickly rolled to her side. As she did, another weight fell upon her. The moment of reckoning! Did Lilith catch a ride along with Adele?

Frantically, she pulled to her feet as she grasped Spira. This was one of those rare circumstances that would allow her to use a weapon against a member of the Select: the life of her charge, or her own life in the course of her protecting her charge, was in imminent danger.

She crouched, preparing to meet the threat. In a moment, Samuel and Jules were at her side. Each held a sword pointed at Adele thinking it was she against whom Mara intended to defend herself. Near the men stood Basha with her Oathtaker's blade in her hand.

Adele slumped to the floor.

"Stop!" Mara cried. "She's harmless!"

"Oh, it's Adele!" Basha exclaimed.

The young woman was on the floor, one leg stretched out, as though kicking something away. She sat up and shook herself, ruffling through her hair to shake loose the dirt from the floor. She glanced up to find a ring of onlookers. "What happened?" she asked.

"It looks like you came along for the ride," Mara said. "I hope you're not in a hurry to return to the palace anytime soon, because I have no intention of going back there."

Adele scrambled to her feet, tottering on her lame leg. She grasped Mara's hands, kissed them repeatedly, then fell to her knees. "Oh, may the Good One bless you!" she cried. "I've been trying to get away from there for . . . Well, ever since Rowena left." She looked around. "But where am I?"

"I'll let Basha and Therese explain things to you. I have to see to Dixon."

"Oh, Therese," Adele cried, "we all thought you were—"

"Dead. Yes, I know."

Mara knelt beside Dixon.

Jules approached. "Will he be all right?"

"I don't know," she said, her voice shaking. "He's in very bad shape."

Jules rolled Dixon over. "Gracious Ehyeh!" he exclaimed. "He's hardly breathing."

Mara laid her hands upon Dixon and summoned the force within her being. She needed all her knowledge of healing, and all the power of her attendant magic—and she needed it now.

She released magic into him. She moved her hands over his injuries, beginning with his ribs. She felt the knitting of his bones, the renewed strength of his breathing. She concentrated on the condition of his heart and lungs. His heart rate increased.

Methodically, she sought out his other injuries. Beneath her hands, her power seemed to light up within him, bringing healing to his bruises and the bleeding lacerations that criss-crossed his body.

She turned his face toward herself. His eyes were swollen shut, black and blue. She laid her hands upon them. Nearly spent of energy, tears rolled down her cheeks as she reached within herself for more power, more magic.

His eyes fluttered. He groaned.

"Shhhh, Dixon, shhhh. You'll be all right." Dear Good One, heal him!

"Mara?"

"Shhhh, Dixon."

"Mara, go. Lil—"

"It's all right, Dixon. You're safe now."

"Mara . . . run. Reigna. E—"

"Shhhh, Dixon. Sleep." She needed to settle him down. He was agitated and trying to get up. Then she remembered the night with Drake and Maggie. Dixon believed her singing had put them all to sleep, and later, Ted had hinted at the healing power of rest. Was it a foolish idea? Oh well, no harm in trying.

She placed her hands to the sides of Dixon's head and her lips near his ear. Then she hummed an old lullaby. Softly, sweetly, she encouraged him to sleep through her rendering of the ages old melody.

He took in a full cleansing breath and then fell into a deep, deep sleep.

It was then that Mara slumped to the floor.


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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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