Earth magic failed to lift Mistral’s spirit to the state of consciousness needed to release the locking spells. With her eyes closed Mistral viewed the border. The insubstantial barrier ripped and buckled where soul daemons tore at the fabric desperate for the moment when Time stalled. Her energy level dropped. The heat of the day drained her resolve.
With a glance to the vibrant colours painting the horizon as the sun dropped, Mistral turned to face Gimbarra. “The planet’s spirit is not responding. I need to reach her before I can work any magic.”
“The Earth is our mother, can we help?” The old man’s dark eyes burned like wells of confidence. “She will listen to our call.”
Mistral placed a pale hand over the old man’s heart. His energy vibrations matched the Earth magic. Yarra stepped forward, offering himself in the old man’s place. Mistral touched his chest, feeling the power of his youth and heritage pulse beneath her hand. His energy matched the Earth spirit and his strength surpassed Gimbarra’s.
“I accept your offer. Please, Gimbarra, Morawi, are there others who can help you stand guard. The daemons are close to breaking through. Time is short and I am weak.”
Morawi reached into a fold of her shirt and produced a small metal box. Opening it, lights glowed and she pressed a few tiny buttons, before lifting the device to her ear and speaking. Mistral didn’t waste time wondering how the communication machine worked. With Yarra she moved to place herself again on the dragon focus, with the staff of power clasped in her hands.
“Your heart must be strong. Do not fear the daemon song or their hunger.” She said, guiding Yarra to place his strong hands above and below hers on the walking stick. When he nodded, she inclined the metal horsehead knob toward the border and again sought help from the elements.
Daemons laughed and mocked her efforts. Through contact with Yarra’s skin she shared his courage as the young man witnessed the writhing mass poised to break through the border.
A single breath of sun heated air filled her lungs as Mistral plunged into the state of consciousness needed to weave her magic. Yarra’s presence changed the outcome of her request. The guardian’s need spurred the dormant Earth spirit to rouse from slumber.
Mistral exhaled. Channelling power through the walking stick, she braced before inclining the metal head to make contact with the insubstantial border.
The effect sent waves of energy across the length and height of the barrier. Light flared from the horsehead. Yarra recoiled but his hands remained firm around the wooden shaft. Mistral lifted her head and recited the necessary invocations. Not once, but over and over, as the air, the ground and the border responded to her voice.
Darkness surrounded her. Cold crept through each cell of her body, but Mistral and Yarra lost all sense of Time. The border fabric remained fragile. The daemon laughter grew to manic levels. Mistral’s voice faded from over use.
Between on heartbeat and the next the fabric of the border shimmered. A dozen daemons clawed through a narrow tear. Mistral cleared her throat and struggled to articulate each word of the locking spells. Yarra now supported her weight on the staff. Mistral turned to look into his eyes. She needed to seal the border against the daemons once and for ever. With a nod of understanding Yarra tightened his grip on the empowered walking stick and when Mistral closed her eyes, together they speared the ancient timber deep into the earth.
Earth magic exploded. The power of the elemental spells Mistral wove combined in a backlash of energy, throwing Mistral and Yarra clear of the blast.
Baked earth quivered. Where her body lay in contact with the ground Mistral sensed the rise of Earth magic, enveloping the wood, spreading through her body and reverberating along the essence of the border. As raw power spread, the barrier firmed and where daemons clamoured and clawed, a solid energy field shimmered into existence.
Where the walking stick touched the ground a circle of black glass rippled before solidifying. The walking stick ceased to exist, but a glint of silver shimmered in the centre of the glass lake.
Yarra leapt to his feet, grabbed Mistral and glanced to where Gimbarra and Morawi should have been on guard.
Dark skin blended too well in the dark of night. Mistral counted a dozen figures crowding around two bodies.
“We were too late to save them, but we sent the daemon’s packing.” A deep voice spoke with pride. “The story of Gimbarra and Morawi, and how Yarra and the stranger brought Time to a standstill, will be remembered in the new Dreaming.”
Mistral shivered. She had completed her quest. Now she could return to her own world and let the dragons decide if they would return to help spread magic across this globe.
All she wanted was a hot bath and a week of sleep.