Chapter 17 - Afunakwa

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The blind girl's scream pierced the air like a flare rising in darkness.

The steward turned and several of the warriors jumped to the young woman. Villagers ran toward her, shouting. She flailed her arms as though warding off an attack of invisible, stinging flies, dropping her intricately-patterned water jug, which shattered as it hit the ground. Three gashes appeared on her arm, and blood splashed into the sand. The blind girl ran several steps back toward the village and another gash sliced down her back. She fell, still fighting for her life against an enemy no one could see.

The steward shouted desperate orders to the men, pointing past the rows of carved poles that marked the path to the village entrance. They surrounded the girl but none dared touch her. The steward himself grabbed the young girl and dragged her towards the village. Jaylina could see he was terrified. She swallowed hard.

This has happened before, and now, as then, they are helpless against it.

Then Michael disappeared from Jaylina's sight. Her eyes went back to the girl. Michael was right. Darkness is already here.

From the astral side, Michael saw clearly what was ailing this young girl as he raced toward her. A swarm of shadows engulfed her and tormented her with claw and fang. The girl fought bravely. A shadow bit her, and Michael saw its darkness taint her essence. She yelled and pulled the creature off, kicking it away. Other shadows gnawed on the girl's silver thread.

And each attack affected her body in the material world.

Michael had not brought her with him when he crossed. Yet there she was—partially there—in both the astral plane and the material world where the shadows were causing her physical harm

She's something like me, he thought. But how?

A thousand questions ran through his mind about the possibilities, but he had no time to consider them.

At least he understood why her soul was tainted. This was not the first time she had fought these demons. She was an incredibly powerful soul that reminded him of Yatokya. But she was losing.

Michael drew the sword and gave a cry. The shadows turned to face him and were either annihilated or fled, leaving the woman's spirit wounded and shivering in the ether before him.

He came beside her. "Are you all right?" he asked. "Have they hurt you badly?"

The young girl looked up at him. Her body in the material plane could not have been more than fifteen or sixteen. Her spirit seemed much older.

"I can see you," she said.

Michael gently looked her over. Her soul bled its essence, as only souls do, but it would persevere. With his hands he gently touched the wounds of her essence and they healed, another gift of the Golden Man, but not before the pollution of darkness had threaded its way a little deeper into her soul. Some of the wounds were very old.

"This has happened to you before," he said.

"It happens all the time," she replied, unable to tear her eyes from this man. She reached out to touch him, as if she doubted her senses. "Usually I can fight them with will or by spell, but I have never known them to be so aggressive. It is as if something was driving them into frenzy." She shuddered.  "From which world do you come?" she asked.

"From yours," Michael said. "It was you that stayed my hand and saved that warrior's life."

"It was you that spared him. I must thank you because he is like a brother to me. They are all like brothers to me."

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