Chapter 25 - Long Delayed Introductions

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Jaylina had run out of space and time. Near the highest ridge of the floating island catcher she found herself in a narrow gully surrounded on all sides by shadows. She fought every instinct to leap off the mountain of this catcher and into the unknown and for an instant she recalled how ready she had been to do so beside the cliff the day she'd met Michael.

That seemed like years and light-years ago.

She came back to the Now. Even with the talismans and spells Michael had given her to protect her silver thread, she knew she would not be able to defend against these demons for very long. But she had to try.

A shadow confronted her, snapped at her with over-sized teeth. As she stepped back another brushed by her, knocking her to her knees. A third bit her arm and she fought it off, screaming. The place around the teeth marks in her essence darkened. They were stinging her with hopelessness. She was alone again, perhaps for the last time. Only now she understood there was a fate worse than death: True oblivion.

Jaylina's body trembled with terror. She tried hard to conceal this, but the shadows felt her pain and became agitated. They could sense her fear, and it would soon churn them into a frenzy. She clenched her teeth and prepared herself to meet them. She tried to stand but they again knocked off her feet. Her light was fading in the ether. Soon they would discover her silver thread, and she could do nothing to protect it. To die like this, so alone, was ...

Hope.

A young voice. Jaylina couldn't tell if it was in her head or somewhere above her.

Hope, gentle mother.

Jaylina realized she had been falling under the spell of the shadows. You're weak, she scolded herself. She swallowed her fear and stood again.

The small light of a pale-yellow soul descended into the space between Jaylina and the shadows, as if shielding her.

The shadows were not impressed. One came forward to snap at the soul.

And in an instant, the shadow was gone in a cloud of dark dust.

Jaylina saw a flash of light and heard a tremendous roar. Before her hovered a great soul glowing gold, brilliant as any star. It resonated with a power that almost blinded her. The smaller soul joined it. Both souls stood like a wall of energy between Jaylina and the shadows.

Depart demons, or be annihilated, commanded the brighter soul.

The shadows paused, perhaps unsure of these new souls rising up against the Dark. Sensing their opportunity fading, they attacked from every direction.

The golden soul moved like lightning through the shades. They tried to overcome it, to consume it. None could match its speed or its power. Shadows winked out in clouds of vapor. The second, smaller soul defended Jaylina. It annihilated any shadow that attempted to touch her, leaving only traces of black dust at her feet.

The few remaining shadows, dwindling in number, faded into the blackness and silence reigned while the two souls hovered protectively over the delicate spirit of Jaylina.

Jaylina looked up at her saviors. These souls were different, special. Familiar. Michael had told her some souls come from the same star, from the same tribe. All souls were interlinked, but some souls resonated more strongly together.

"Who are you?" Jaylina asked.

The golden soul chuckled. "Long have I traveled this open sky and have nearly forgotten my former material form." Slowly it morphed into the shape of an old woman.

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