Whale Song - Page 21

Even as Diana was being dragged under, her singing never wavered. Millimeter by agonizing millimeter she was drawn beneath the earth, and still she kept singing as the air about her roared and the water scourged her naked skin. It was only when she was far enough under that she had to tilt her head back to keep her mouth from being covered by mud that I brought the final missing element into play . . . fire.

“Sky fire” to be precise.

The full fury of the storm disgorged itself in one massive lightning strike into the oaken wand Diana still held unwavering above her head, through the runes covering her body, to ultimately slam into the unnatural thing which lurked beneath. Blinded and deafened from the blast, then buffeted near senseless by the gout of mud that knocked me down like a giant's fist, for a terrible moment I didn't have the slightest idea if my mad plan had actually worked.

Then the smell and, to be disgustingly honest, taste of mud liberally mixed with “not mud” made it clear to me that it had.

I felt a wave of relief and elation wash over me, promptly followed by a punch of panic to my heart. “Diana!” I shouted like an idiot, specifically a deafened idiot shouting at his equally deaf companion.

Reason took over again a moment later, and, blinking furiously to clear my eyes, I scrabbled through the mud toward where I had last seen her. There was a gruesome moment when I found only her hand sticking out of the ground, and I feared the worst, then her hand grasped mine and I pulled her coughing and spitting out of the morass.

“How am I not dead?” she screamed the moment her mouth was clear again.

I shook my head and sighed, privately glad that she was obviously fine. “Welcome to the world of real magic,” I said witheringly. “But don't worry . . . keep dabbling and it'll kill you soon enough.”

Diana was in the process of shooting me an exasperated look when she screamed as something in the mud grabbed her ankle.

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