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20.7 Ash

# 1714 9 - 11 mins. 6

In an instant, the magic in the room flickered. Sparks of purple and white shot out in random directions. Images of people from my memories appeared, making no noise and disappearing just as quickly as they came. Portals appeared in random locations. A table leg fell through the floor where a portal opened. Another created a hole in the wall to some field.

"What's going on?" asked Lolan.

"I'm losing control!" yelled Sillius.

"Me too," said Klaus.

"Try and direct the magic. Point it out the window, away from us if you have to let it explode," said Kesq. She was visibly panicked, like the rest of us.

"I don't know if I can direct it," yelled Sillius. He stood in a horse stance, focusing with all of his might on the magic he was wrangling. The streams of glowing magic coming from Sillius and Klaus swirled around more violently throughout the room.

"The hill, there," shouted Klaus, pointing his beak to a hill out the window.

Sillius yelled as he threw his arms forward. The magic followed his arms and whipped out the window toward the hill.

"Now try to let it go slowly!" yelled Kesq.

"Trying!" said Sillius.

Klaus looked like he was having as much trouble, but he looked less panicked. Not that he had control, just that he didn't let it scare him as much.

The magic still poured through Sillius and Klaus from the center point of the veins on the floor. It whipped violently, coiling around itself, like snakes preparing to strike.

"Everybody get out! Now!" yelled Sillius.

I looked around, and we all started moving at once, heading for the stairs. Sparr stayed behind with Klaus. But other than the three of them, we all sprinted down the stairs and out the front door.

I could still hear Sillius yelling from the upper room.

"What do we do?" I asked.

"Hope that they can let it go without it doing too much damage," said Kesq.

The magical streams swirled around the room, through the walls, and high above the building as well.

Then, with a final yell from Sillius, the magic exploded out of the room. The sky flashed purple and silver, then faded back to its usual blue.

We all stood there for a few minutes staring at the mansion. Did it work? Were they dead? Could illusion and sight magic kill someone?

Then, there was a crunch as someone appeared in the doorway. Sparr, with ruffled feathers, stepped out carrying both Sillius and Klaus. Neither of them looked up to even trying to stand. They were worn out. The look of exhaustion was clear on both of their faces. But they were alive.

After a minute, Kesq asked, "So did it work?"

"Heck if I know," said Sillius. "Sure doesn't look like it."

"You never know. Did it feel like you were creating the image?"

"Yes. It felt like a lot of things."

"And did you have any luck showing him where to place the images?"

"I believe so," said Klaus. "But as he said, it's hard to tell."

"Hey, did you guys see this?" asked Lolan. I looked over to find him peeking around the side of the house towards the hill where they had tried to release the magic.

I ran over with Kesq and Tigala. On the hill was now a large storm of some kind of illusion magic. It was a swirl of purple and silver, similar to that which we saw in the room. Except this one had a key difference. It would flash, like lightning striking the ground, and with each strike, an illusion of a location was shown.

"What is it?" I asked.

Sparr had managed to drag Sillius and Klaus with him to take a look.

"I have no idea," said Sillius.

"Me either," said Klaus. "Maybe it's now showing different locations from our memories." He looked at Kesq. "Is this normal?"

"None of this is normal," said Kesq. "This isn't how I've tried using the beacons in the past. At best they were just a boost to my own magic. Never something that could bring a type of magic to extreme levels. It could be anything."

"It looks stable, at least," said Lolan. "Should we just hope it doesn't cause any major problems?"

"I don't see what else we'd do," I said. "We have bigger problems to worry about. We don't even know if our message was seen by anyone, and we can't beat the doom drake unless we have everyone's help."

"Yeah, we need to get back to the others," said Tigala. "I can carry Klaus on my back." She began to transform. Her body took the shape of a horse this time. Sparr put Klaus on her back and continued to carry Sillius, who still looked like he wouldn't be able to walk even if he wanted to.

"Are we ready to head back then?" I asked, taking one last glance at the magical storm of memories.

The others nodded in response and we began our slow walk back. It was too bad we didn't have more Beastfolk with us. It would have been nice to have some form of transportation other than walking. But not the wyverns. They were a gamble from the start.

We walked for a long time across the land. It was amazing how many details stood out when you took the time to walk through the landscape rather than fly over it in a fraction of the time. There were hills that I hadn't even noticed. Up ahead there was a tall mountain with a volcano at the top. I had seen the volcano, but what I didn't notice was the lava field that spread out around it. There were porous black rocks that littered the ground and made it hard to keep good footing. The rocks were sharp, cutting through skin without much effort. I wished I had something on that covered my feet rather than just sandals.

When we could finally see the end of the lava field, Klaus spoke up. "There are people coming," he said from on top of Tigala's back. "It looks like a lot of them. The wandering forest too."

"What?" I asked. "Why would they be coming out here? Is there something going on? Klaus, can you sense anything with your magic?"

"My magic is exhausted, unfortunately," said Klaus. "And Sparr is good with immediate future or distant past, not location sight magic."

We watched the group approach us as we continued doing our part to close the distance. It was a lot of people. It looked like it could be the remainder of our battle-ready forces here on Daegal. The wandering forest walked in a perimeter around the group, as if protecting them. But it didn't make sense. Why would they all be traveling toward us across Daegal. Were they running from something? Did the doom drake attack Birdsbane? Were we too late?

The questions raced through my head as we all picked up our pace, trying to get answers quicker.

Then, I could make out someone approaching us quicker than the rest. He rode on top of a large bird with orange-red feathers.

"Who is that?" I asked.

"Geralt," said Klaus, still riding on Tigala's back.

"Geralt? I thought he was still gone trying to convince the Humans to join the cause."

"That's the last I heard too," said Sillius.

"Why would they all be coming this way?" I said. "What happened to Birdsbane?"

"Maybe it's fine," said Lolan. "We can't know until we talk to them."

"But why would they leave?

"We'll figure it out," said Tigala.

I was impatient. I didn't want to hear the bad news that we were no doubt about to receive. Luckily the oversized bird that Geralt rode on was fast. It reached us in a couple of minutes and landed with a skid. The bird stood taller than any of us and stared with an intimidating gaze. It then bowed its head and let Geralt hop off in his full golden armor.

"What's going on?" I asked anxious to hear what was wrong. "What happened to Birdsbane?"

Geralt looked flustered, unsure of how to answer the question, or maybe preparing us for the worst. "Birdsbane is fine. We still have our injured there getting treatment." He paused, trying to figure out how to say what he needed to.

"Then why is everyone here?" I asked.

"Well, good news and bad news," he said with a nervous chuckle. "We think your message worked. We saw it at Birdsbane, and some of the Avians confirmed that it was seen around the world."

"Oh," I said, unsure of how to process that. I was expecting Birdsbane to have been wiped off of the map, and instead, my call for reinforcements worked. "What's the bad news then?"

"Right," he said, with another nervous chuckle. "The doom drake also changed its course. They think that it saw the message as well. We think it's heading straight for—"

Just as he was about to finish the sentence there was a loud explosion of magic. Purple-blue magic to be exact. It swirled behind us, at the base of the volcano. It started small, but gradually grew to the size of a building, then the size of an old tree. But it didn't stop there. The magic stretched into the sky and now competed in size with the volcano itself. Finally, it stopped, reaching up into the clouds. A large portal now swirled in the air between us and the volcano.

I already knew what Geralt was about to say, but I didn't want to believe it. We weren't ready for another fight. Maybe my message worked, but we needed more time to get everyone together. We needed to control the next battlefield, but this? This put all of the cards in the hands of doom drake. There was no way we could get out of this one unscathed, if we got out of it at all.

As soon as a large black scaly foot stepped out of the portal, I knew my assumption was right. The doom drake came to Daegal, to destroy us before we became a real threat.

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