Chapter Fourteen

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Sherath was only ten yards behind the boar as it crashed out into the open under the beech trees.

He saw Farinka turn; saw the eerie flicker and glimmer of blue-white light filling the area, centring around Farinka, felt everything around him wheel down into slow motion and felt the crackling and buzzing in the air.

Domina, NO! You can't do that, it can't be done ... Domina? He was Aware even as he sent the thought across that she couldn't Hear him. Little ones, hold on, hang on tight.

He felt for Farinka's mind and flinched away from the roar of the Power that surged through him; tried to switch the kill Command off before she Voiced it, realising almost too late that it was out of his Control as well as out of Farinka's.

He shut down his Hearing as Farinka looked the boar squarely in the eyes and the light zimmered down into a streak from her pointing finger which drove at the boar's mind like lightning, then ricocheted and cracked around, bouncing off trees. The reverberations caught him as they caught the others, dropping him to his knees on the earth floor. There were whimpers from the little ones as they clung, dizzy, to the branches; thought-yelps from the older Children, and a semi-conscious howl of pain, realisation and fear from Nemeth's mind which petered away into nothing as the air around settled.

For almost ten seconds there was an ominous deathly hush; then Sherath, in the process of getting to his feet, was thrown down again as the ground under him trembled and he was pelted with showers of beech-nuts shaken from the branches overhead.

– Ooh, free nuts! whispered Sienne.

You're crazy! replied Jekavi, a bit shaken.

Is everyone okay? Sherath asked when the tremor finished.

The others dropped or climbed down from the trees, looking dazedly at him.

"What the hell happened?" Jevann asked him, rubbing his fingers through his hair.

"It's called Power," said Sherath weakly, sitting back on his heels. "Ye Gods, I'm tired. Too much is happening too fast."

Domina? There was no response. Nemeth? Still nothing.

Sherath got to his feet, trembling, and looked over. Nemeth was curled against the roots of the tree, his hands around his head; Farinka had dropped perhaps three feet away from the tree. As Sherath approached there was a thundering of hooves amongst the trees, and the two unicorns broke through the undergrowth. Moonwind skidded to a halt in front of Sherath, blocking his way; Moondust went to Farinka and stood over her, sniffing gently at her.

Moonwind swung round to head Tarke off as she tried to brush past behind the filly's tail.

"Look, animal; we need to find out what's wrong!" snapped Tarke. Moonwind dipped her head and allowed them past, keeping pace with them.

Sherath went to approach Farinka, and was unmistakably warned off by Moondust's horn and a stamped forefoot.

"Okay. Okay. Let me see Nemeth?" The unicorn dipped his head in assent, and Sherath went past him.

"Why won't he let us near?" asked Louka quietly.

"I don't know. But he must have a reason," said Sherath. He placed one hand on Nemeth's forehead. "Oh, Nemeth. What have you done to yourself now?" he whispered. He winced as he opened up his Awareness, partly because of the pain of using too much Power in too few days, partly because of the pain he felt from Nemeth. Control could only be used by the conscious mind, and without it the pain was nasty.

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