“There is no way we can outrun them!” Demarra panted.
“Save your breath for running!” Gilliam called from ahead of the Darine. He was only a few strides behind the golden-haired twins, pulling Ana along beside him. Varis had dropped behind Sera and I to cover rearguard.
“Stall them!” Aurora shouted back at us. “Make one of those wind barriers.”
I felt the weaver’s fear deaden to nervousness. She didn’t have to, but she shook her head.
“I do not have the strength for wind,” she gasped. “But….”
She slowed, stopped, and turned. Varis nearly crashed into her.
“Behind me,” she murmured. My arm suddenly felt as if I’d slept on it, so intense was the icy burn of Sera’s Power. I had to look to see if my fingers flexed, for I could not feel them.
She pointed two fingers at the ground at the far side of the iron-bound roadway, then slashed them across its width, to the other side, leaving a shimmering red scar hanging in the air, which I knew the others would not be able to see.
Sera spoke a word, but it was lost to the dizzying ringing in my ears. The hollow coldness of her Power, usually consigned to just below my skin, seemed to buzz and burn from deeper still, in my bones.
A wall of flames twice Varis’ height burst from the ground with a dull roar, growing to a fierce, nearly electric crackling. It gleamed blue as it rose from the ground, bleeding to brilliant white at the jagged top. The sharp, acrid smell of burning hair and ichor washed past us as the first ranks of the spiders careened into Sera’s barrier of Energy-wrought flame.
Behind, there came a flash of green, and words that cut through the hollow ringing in my head — words of Power. Two more flashes, and the air thrummed with a clear, warm tone.
Hazy, green-tinged walls of light rose from each of the rails, stretching into the distance. I blinked, looking through the white spots dancing before my eyes. The rods of iron gleamed... Not a trick of the light: no longer iron, but gold!
“Go! Twenty strides for one is all the power I could draw!” Aurora called. A large green stone burned, cupped in one hand. She gave Gilliam a hard shove in the back with the other. “Eyes front, we very well may run straight into worse.”
“You— those are—“
“Dead men have no use for gold,” Aurora snapped.
I felt hands at my side, could barely feel fingers encircling my wrist. Varis hoisted me.
“Feet, Thorn, at the end of your legs. Move them!”
I tried, but it felt as if Aurora had turned my boots to lead. No… not Aurora…. Sera.
I felt her, distant through the bracelet’s link. I saw her, beside me, felt the collar through the leathers of my sleeve, like something made of solid, glacial ice. She was helping Varis to pull me along. Her lips moved, but I could not hear through the buzzing in my head.