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part ten.

Part Ten
It’s an unusual way to travel, to be sure. Aura has absolutely no control; it’s as if she’s flying on an invisible magic carpet which has a mind of its own. Once she realises that she can no more stop it than she can turn the grass pink (any more), she settles back and tries to relax, mulling over everything she’s told Mallos. She’d been working out his general scheme and zoning in to calculate specific details ever since she returned to life, but only now that she’s forced to articulate it is it all coming together as one picture... a picture which is getting clearer with every second that passes.

It all makes sense now. Everything. And, in some strange way, it gives Aura hope; when something is understood, it can be beaten. Mallos is understood. Mallos can be defeated.

If she can unite Shaman beneath her, that is. Somehow, as she stares into the angry face of Joel after being deposited ungracefully on the ground in front of him, Aura seriously doubts her ability to do that.

Magic is a funny thing which no one, ever, has complete control of. The stronger the power, the more unpredictable it is, and the more it responds to emotional whims rather than conscious thoughts. There’s no way that any ordinary telekinetic could have carried a person with their mind all the way from the Shrine to Epitome Jungle – and had he been in a reasonable state of mind, Joel probably wouldn’t have been able to either. Aura can tell, just by looking at him, that he never consciously made the command. Magic reacted to his boiling rage, and shot out to get him the one thing he wanted – just the same as Aura’s own magic had done the night she discovered she was pregnant with the werewolf’s child. Sheer heightened emotion had strengthened his already astonishing telekinetic capabilities, allowing him to achieve a feat worthy of divinity. It’s with a certain awe that she regards his enraged form as he stands over her, pulsing with fury.

Against expectations, he doesn’t shout. Instead, he makes a strangled noise and gestures behind him to the rainforest... or what’s left of the rainforest. That which isn’t still burning brightly has dimmed to dust, which is already starting to blow away in the breeze. Soon, the only evidence that Epitome Jungle ever existed will be a vast expanse of charred earth and a smattering of ash across the vicinity. Even Aura can shelve her fear for a moment and allow bitterness, anger, sorrow and hate to fill her heart instead. Past Joel, she can see his son Ewan with his arms around Elle’s neck, his face pressed against her fur. Through no fault of his own, a young boy has lost his home tonight. Why? Why?

I shot him dead because--
Because he was my foe,
Just so: my foe of course he was;
That’s clear enough; although

The verses of the old poem dissolve in her mind as Joel let out a little roar. She’s been quiet for too long.

“Joel,” she gasps as he wrenches her off the ground by her shoulders. “I’m so sorry – ”

“Fix it! It’s a magic fort, isn’t it? You must know some way of making it come back!”

“It doesn’t work like that – ”

He lets out a little bellow and shakes her. Rattled, Aura takes a deep breath and tries to keep her voice level. “The fort is deactivated so the forest won’t just fix itself. It’ll only come back when its resident divine returns to re-activate it.”

“So bring her here!”

“I can’t,” she can’t keep her voice from cracking this time. “She’s in a coma. I don’t know when she’ll wake.”

That makes him stop. He exhales slowly and releases her; still frightened, she backs off and rubs her shoulders to get the blood circulating again. The storm seems to have passed, however, and Joel looks almost ashamed of his rough handling. He opens his mouth – probably not to apologise, but perhaps to make it up to her in his own fashion – just as she vanishes again.

Yes; quaint and curious war is!
You shoot a fellow down
You’d treat, if met where any bar is,
Or help to half a crown.

Poem: ‘The Man He Killed’ by Thomas Hardy

    • day two -
      • part five -
      • part six. -
      • part seven. -
      • part eight. -
    • day one -
      • part one. -
      • part two. -
      • part three. -
      • part four. -

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