Day 71

“How are they going to get in?”

Alastair whipped around. Lila was here. She stood next to the frozen Adriei, her eyes wide from fear and concern.

“Lila, what are you doing here?” Alastair yelped. He was certain that he left her asleep when he went out to find Gabbie.

“I followed you and Adriei.” Lila shrugged as if she had followed him without his knowledge millions of times before. “We can’t get down to the ground level to pull the lever and open the passage for them. And those deer things are frozen, too. Can you unfreeze them?”

As Lila spoke, Alastair began to lose his concentration. Lila was right. Gabbie and Silverskin had just crossed over the blossoming rock wall in haste, but that meant nothing if they couldn’t get inside. Only a watch guard would open the entrance, and Alastair assumed that everyone was out rounding up citizens or conjuring magic. And now he could faintly discern there barest of movements from the scenery and people around him. The Lake God’s stick fingers twitched. The sub-queen’s long black hair started to flutter. A droplet of sweat carved a path down Adriei’s face. It was like the world was set in slow motion like it would for an action film during a tense scene.

“You’re the one controlling the magic, right? Then you have to do something!” Lila urged. She moved over to Alastair’s side and peered over the mountainside. She nibbled on her thumb nail, feeling useless.

“I don’t know. I don’t know,” Alastair chanted. Was it really him doing this? Why did time slow down? Why were Lila and the two below unaffected? None of that mattered if it couldn’t help save Gabbie and Silverskin.

And like a rubber band breaking clean in two, time swarmed back into fluidity. The sounds of magic warriors chanting, the chalky screech of the Lake God, and the faraway yells of Gabbie and Silverskin slammed into Alastair’s ears. The acrid stench of sour fear emanating from the elves poured down, covering all around them. The bite of the now frigid air cut through skin and bones.

Alastair was too late.

A wall screamed up into existence. It shot up from the ground like a scaled beast of rock and minerals. It even surpassed the height of the Lake God, covering the inky black mass from sight, although Alastair could still see the eerie glow of its white eyes. The ground rumbled from the birth of the rocky barricade. Alastair felt his knees buckle and he tilted as if he would fall down to meet the same fate as his friends. That was when Adriei’s arm wrapped around his middle and yanked him back.

“Miss Lila?” Adriei grunted as soon as they were safely back from the ledge. “No!”

Lila had also been jostled from the earth quaking beneath her feet, and she too bent to the earth’s will. Alastair watched as his blood turned to ice as his little sister fell off the mountain.

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