Day 70

A faint line of shuddering rocks appeared right before the foot of the mountain. Alastair saw ten, no, twenty, no, at least fifty magicians making the same hand movements Sannier did when she lifted the company up and into her home. From where the rocks groaned, Alastair could only assume a wall would sprout. Gabbie and Silverskin wouldn’t make it in time. They were so close. So painfully close to making that line across and into safety. The Lake God sloshed over to the edge of its lake and reached out its ghastly hands, trying to grasp Gabbie and Silverskin. Alastair did not know why something so big would trouble itself with something so small, but the god was doing it whether Alastair understood or not.

If only Gabbie and Silverskin had more time! Alastair knew the sub-queen would not budge on her decision to block out the god and the fleeing children. She was tough and hardened. Adriei wouldn’t help Alastair, that was certain. No one else here was on his side. Tipper, Perceval, Digitalis, and Glue Pot, the ones with the real power here on Soielle, were either fleeing or just now waking. Alastair’s only hope was within himself. But what could he do? Stare at his friends while they get eaten or squished?

“They need more time!” Alastair said from behind grit teeth. He imagined everything slowing down as if he had poured thick maple syrup onto the entire scene before him. The monster god would be still. It breathing, which until now had been rapid, revealing its lines upon lines of robs, would calmly freeze. The sub-queen and her magical warriors would find their hands stuck, no longer able to wave effortlessly through the air. The shouts, the screams, even the heavy wailing of the wind, would be mute. Alastair felt his whole body sing with the hope that somehow, just somehow his wish would be granted and Gabbie and Silverskin would be allowed to pass safely back to Rockestel.

Then something truly strange happened. There was a burning deep inside Alastair’s right pocket. The heat seared like a thorny spit of fire digging into Alastair’s leg. He ignore the pain, still intent on his fantasy of saving his friends. And that was exactly what happened.

To Alastair’s amazement, all of what he imagined, down to the foggy muted sounds of everyone’s conflict, just came true.Everyone, even the Lake God, stopped. No one moved. Alastair glanced behind him. Adriei had been apparently trying to grab Alastair from behind. The boy was lucky. Any later, and he’d be snatched and taken away from Gabbie. Right, Gabbie! Silverskin. Alastair looked down and saw that Gabbie and Silverskin weren’t stuck in time like gnats in a spider’s web like the others. They momentarily paused, confused as to what just happened, but broke out of their reverie.

“HURRY!” Alastair shouted. He cupped his hands to his face, using as much of his lung capacity as he could.”I Don’t know what’s going on, but you need to get up here before it’s done!”

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