“It stopped!” Zirchev gasped, taking his hands away from the blood-soaked linen. He bent, and held his cheek over the Queen’s lips, and his look of amazement crumbled. “She does not breathe! You said this would save her!”
Brynne brought her staff down in front of the Huntsman before he could regain his feet.
“Relax,” she said. “She’s still alive.”
Katarin’s eyes went distant, and then she blinked, looking over at Zirchev. “She’s… I don’t know how she’s done it… but—”
Sickly, greenish light shone from between Morana’s fingers, where she gripped the stone, the light giving her complexion a rather ghastly pallor.
“She’s severed the strands of Time surrounding your human,” Goldy said as she approached the group. Her voice was not the least bit amazed, and made the miracle sound like an accusation. She rounded on the Darine girl. “What are you thinking?”
“It… was the only thing I could think of.” Morana’s voice sounded distant, as if she spoke while dreaming.
“You meddle in waters far deeper than you can comprehend,” the shrike hissed. “Those waters are far more likely to drag you under than keep you afloat. Release the time-lock.”
“If she does that, Petra will die!” Katarin said. “She can’t—”
“She isn’t —” Jasna started to say, then clamped her mouth shut as Brynne trod on her boot.
Goldy stared at each of the girls who’d spoken, the light of the stone giving her golden eyes a strange, green sheen. Brilliant lines of gold shone across the irises, as if she were looking up at a shower of falling stars. She shifted her gaze to the streaming wall of greenish-gold light, which was steadily diminishing.
“I must warn you one more time,” the shrike said, laying the palm of her hand across the hilt of the sword at her waist. “Release the time-lock. For your own sakes.”
“You’re supposed to be on our side!” Jasna said. Her own hand hovered near the knife tucked into her belt.
“Release the time-lock,” the shrike repeated, her voice going hard. It trembled, ever so slightly. “Before you take any more of Her power.”
“Who’s power?” Brynne asked. She flexed her fingers around the haft of her staff.
Little Petra cleared her throat. “Maybe… we should do as she says.”
Jasna scowled at the younger girl. “You’re supposed to be on our side, too!”
Petra raised her hands. “I’m just saying… If its enough to make Goldy scared… how bad must it be?”