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Chapter Twelve Carefully I lifted up the heavy decanter and poured a short measure of water into the glass Kagan had placed in the middle of the room. Without saying anything, I put the crystal bottle on the floor beside me, next to the three black pebbles that were neatly laid out in a row on the floor just in front of us, before replacing the stoppered lid snuggly in place. I waited, watching as he then picked up the first of the onyx stones and carefully lowered it into the water. There was a small tink as the rock made contact with the bottom. Daring a moment to steal a glance at him, I saw a look I couldn’t read dance within his sparkling blue eyes, only to disappear and be replaced by a smile of reassurance as he turned once more to the little tumbler of water beside him. “I’ve only heard about them,” Kagan explained, with a grin that was both relaxed and excited. I tried to smile but it felt like there was a knot holding tight to the lump in my throat. I nodded instead. “I’m not sure I know anyone who’ve seen these for real before,” he went on, a childlike awe in his voice, “but I know it’s a really old kind of magic.” Kagan eased his fingers through his hair, his eyes never leaving the glass. I watched silently his sandy-brown tresses brush unrepentantly back down over his brow, and his strong, athletic fingers coax the hair once more out of the way. With a sharp sniff that forced my eyes to look upon the now-wet stone, even if he hadn’t noticed there was no mistaking the hot betraying heat burning slowly across my face. I could feel his smile even as I stared at the crystal tumbler and willed something to happen. “What’s it meant to do?” I asked finally, quite sure that it had been far too long. The water was still, the stone remained submerged, and my legs were starting to cramp from being tucked tightly underneath me the whole time. Before he could answer, something did indeed happen. The water in the glass started shaking, causing ripples across the surface. I watched in amazement as little waves began fluttering over the onyx stone, and the little black pebble itself started moving and trembling. I wanted to see if he saw it too, but it was so bizarre and yet so hypnotic that I could only stare speechless, completely unable to look away. There was a sudden whoosh and millions of sparkling particles flew out of the glass, spinning and whirling through the air to fill the ceiling with what I can only describe as magical sand. It was like black sand, but as individual and as collective as what you find on the beach, and it shimmered and sparkled in much the same way as the ocean did at nightfall beneath the moonlight. Even as I tried to see it, to understand what I was looking at, the particles began to form a circle of swirling energy which slowly began to trickle down from the ceiling. In barely a moment it had surrounded us to become a blanket of sparkling, shimmering fragments that moved and whirled around us, its very own carousel of mystical energy that revolved and glistened and enveloped us inside its spell. It was as breathtaking as it was intoxicating. Kagan looked at me and I stared at him, our faces a mirror of spellbound fascination. Neither of us could speak, but we were both watching the dazzling grains of light begin to change and flicker in harmony with each other, no longer individually blinking and twinkling like billions and billions of stars crammed into a night sky, but now moving in an unspoken unity of light and dark, causing shapes and patterns to form. Images began appearing through the sparkling sand, as though watching a dream from someone else’s mind being projected onto the surface of the swirling particles. I could feel my lips part in a breathless gasp of wonder, and as I watched the pictures take hold, so the scene around us began to play. By Annie Bergin Page 57
There was no sound to accompany the image of the torrential downpour that beat upon the thick stone walls and the towering windows which rushed past our view, but I could see immediately that whoever was running in the rain weren’t splashing or slipping on the slick streets and drenched roadways. The swelling water poured down the cobbled stones around the familiar Daventron streets, and when the person rushed up towards the high white stone walls of the park, not yet adorned with ribbons and lights, I could guess both when and where in my town we were watching. The person reached the wall and blended right through its soaking wet, solid stone structure, stepping out into the other side as though the wall was made of nothing. Again my jaw dropped and the words I wanted to speak disappeared somewhere inside the back of my throat. I glanced at Kagan, watching his eyes as wide as my own taking in the view that was shimmering and moved all around us. Next we watched the Corbin flicker into view, and though there was no sound at all from my room or the dream-like images in the magic that surrounded us, I could hear in my mind the rain slapping down against the water, and the drumming of the storm upon the trees and branches above. The person made their way along the pathway that snaked the Corbin’s shore, following the cherry blossoms until finally coming out by the waterfall that towered above them. They stopped suddenly. Then, with the view holding by the Rhuig-Gant trees under and to the left of the rushing torrent of the falls, they showed us something that was the last thing I expected to see. There was an eerie familiarity about the man standing a little way inside the shadows of the rocks that framed the falls, something incredibly commanding about his posture, and incredibly chilling about his thunderous expression. He was pacing impatiently, oblivious to the rain that was beating hard against his already soaking clothes and heavy cloak. Though his hood covered his face, I recognized the knight immediately, the image of him throwing murderous magic at Mareena and the redhead something that still burned inside my mind. I gasped, and saw that Kagan had recognized him too. “He’s here?” My voice was strangled somewhere inside my being. We didn’t speak as we saw him acknowledge another person approaching, the newcomer hunched down against the storm. My stomach lurched when I realized I knew him too. Pulling something out from beneath his cloak, Lord Kel threw it at his companion, his dark eyes burning with a fury that still managed to tear right through me. Even though there was no sound to his words, the hatred and venom in his face made my blood run cold. Suppressing a shudder, I watched suddenly speechless as Master Daylor Traben pulled off the black cord wrapped around the leather cloth the knight had thrust at him, and let the pendant with the large aquatic stone fall into his palm. Master Traben and the knight argued for several moments about the pendant, and about Mareena I was sure, the intensity of their words still evident even in the chilling silence that filled my room. Then the images began to fade, the magical particles returning to their previous captivating twinkling and shimmering that was first in harmony, then independent of one another like billions of stars once more crammed into the darkest night. The dark sand then trickled like dust to the ground and slowly dissolved in a halo of twinkling sparkles till they were gone. The silence that was left hanging in the air was deafening. I realized after a moment that I’d been holding my breath. It was Kagan who moved first. He noticed before I did that there was no more water in the glass, and the stone was now a matt black and incredibly pitted where before it had been shiny and smooth. Without needing to ask, he removed the stone and tucked it By Annie Bergin Page 58
somewhere inside the folds of his shirt, flashing me a look as he took the glass and moved to place it back on the table. “There are still two more stones,” I told him, my voice flat. I didn’t move. My whole body felt numb as my memory played again the knight and the stranger arguing about the pendant, the same pendant Master Traben had later shown me, the same pendant that had then sucked me back in time to Mareena’s capture. “How did she get away?” I asked, but my voice was so quiet I wasn’t sure I’d even said the words aloud. The scene at the lake flashed in my mind, and I saw once more her anxious expression as she summoned the redhead, never knowing that her enemy was only moments behind her. “I want to see the rest,” I said, crushing aside the silence and the creeping shock that was trying to nestle inside my soul. I looked at Kagan, seeing the hesitation in his compassionate blue eyes, and, with more desperation than I knew was within me, I begged him, “please?” This time it was he who poured the water into the glass and rested the decanter back on the floor beside us; I was trying to fight off the trembling that was rippling through me. He placed the glass carefully on the floor, and gently dropped the stone into the water, the tink once more indicating that the pebble was at the bottom of the glass. Then he sat close beside me, his hand holding mine as I stared off somewhere between the glass and the memories, trying to piece everything together, while trying very hard to think of nothing at all. It was a feat I would never win but at least it made the trembling subside. Kagan squeezed my fingers gently when the water and the pebble began to ripple and move, and this time we both knew what to expect when the millions of shimmering particles burst forth from the glass and shot up to the ceiling, blanketing it with moving, swirling stars that were just as captivating the second time as they were before. Then the magical sands moved once more from the centre of the room and trickled down around us, enveloping us in their shining, twinkling light that circled around us, ready to show the new scenes projected upon its delicate sands. I didn’t recognize the building with the dusty stone floors and the torches that burned from their hooks along the walls. There were rows and rows of books all crammed into the bookcases and shelves that framed each hallway and I realized that it had to be a library, though where I had no idea. The magical particles seemed to flutter a moment as the scene closed in to show several people seated in various places throughout the rooms, either reading from the huge archives, studying parchment with weather-beaten, coarse fingers, or writing careful prose upon blank, freshly pressed sheets before them. There was one man that was the focus of the magical storytelling, and the focus of the scene silently eased towards him, following him until the view was almost right on top of him. He was a young man, with dark wavy hair and green eyes; again there was something familiar about him but this time I couldn’t think why. “Do you know him?” Kagan whispered in my ear, his breath warm and soft against my skin. I shook my head, letting my senses linger for just a moment on the muskiness of his scent and the strong fingers that were entwining themselves in mine. I didn’t mind, though I was sure he heard my heart stumble when he shifted to see more of the library view and that small move meant I was now leaning against his chest, feeling his heartbeat against me. The torches in the library fluttered with an unseen breeze, but the man kept writing, carefully scribing something in the pages of the small book with the utmost care and concentration. I could imagine the dipping pen scratching against the pages with each precisely controlled stroke of his hand but, like before, there was only silence in my room. By Annie Bergin Page 59
The ink covered pages of delicate script were dry in no time and, when he was ready, the man carefully closed the book, tucking it into the folds of his shirt as he looked around to make sure he was alone. Wrapping himself in a cloak of blackest midnight with an intricate silver pattern woven through it, I realized at the same time Kagan did that this man was one of the Saorla. “He’s wearing the same kind of cloak Topher was,” I said, just to be sure we were thinking and seeing the same thing. Excitement tingled through me as I turned to get a clearer view of the Guardian, watching him as he moved slowly to the far wall, next to the stone fireplace thats flames danced and flickered silently along the burning log before him. Then Kagan and I watched in amazement as the man reached up and touched the wall, and three giant slabs of stone in front of him disappeared into nothing, and a small cavern was left in their place. The man carefully removed his journal from its hiding place among the fabric of his shirt and rested it inside the hole, on top of some other books and items that weren’t so easy to distinguish from our vantage point in my bedroom. When everything was safely in place, the man raised his hand once more, and the little cavern disappeared behind the stone slabs which blended easily back into place. “That’s amazing,” I whispered, feeling Kagan agree beside me. Watching the man’s lips move but hearing no sound, we both stared in wonder as he waved both hands over the stones, and a shining light appeared, covering the hiding place. As soon as I saw the burning gold outline of the falcon nestled on the branches of the Ruigh-Gant tree, and the cross swords below, I didn’t need to read the banner to know it was the Jass family crest we were looking at. His light burned into the edges of the stones, and the crest shimmered in golden light for one more moment, before it vanished into the air. The twinkling sand particles that had enveloped us and shown us the captivating images began to fade the picture from around us, until there was nothing else to see. Then the particles trickled to the floor and shimmered and twinkled a moment longer, before they were gone. Neither of us spoke for a very long time.
By Annie Bergin
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