Is this the Clear? Kinda looks like an empty dining room…
“What happened?” Ren palms his forehead. “Hard to think…”
I feel his pain—both my ears are buzzing loudly. Thankfully, it’s already starting to fade.
“Nyanti.” Gyrax nods at the Witch, lying unconscious on the floor a few feet away. Her eyes are rolled back—the whites shine from her sockets in a creepy, sightless stare. “She teleported us into a safe location.”
“You call this safe?” Ren gets to his feet and studies our surroundings. “The Sytíshí could be anywhere. In the next room over, even.”
Erany sheathes her rapier and crouches beside Nyanti. “She’s hurt.”
Gyrax studies her intently. “Her loci and meridians are out of alignment. We need to force them back into place, or the pressure will kill her from the inside out.”
“Like a blood clot,” I say. “In a vein or an artery.”
“Exactly.” Gyrax nods. “Only a lot more painful, especially to someone as sensitive as her.”
“I’ve performed some healings, but I’m no expert,” Erany says. “What about the rest of you?” She looks at the others but they shake their heads. No.
“Take care of Lucky and keep an eye out,” Gyrax tells them. “Erany, Jon and I will attend to Nyanti.”
“Me?” I stammer. “I’m not a healer.”
“After you broke the Sytíshí’s Black Weave Dream, you wove us all back into being. That’s the only reason we’re still alive. You’re a healer, Jon.”
“Because I plinked some words onto a stolen laptop?” My brow wrinkles in confusion.
“Don’t be reductive.” Gyrax waves his hands over Nyanti’s face, causing the air in front of it to glow and brighten. “You’ve been writing stories since you were a boy. It was that skill—that ability to create—that saved our lives. Literally, in this instance.”
“Nice entendre,” I say. “What do you want me to do?”
“What can he do?” Erany’s face twists in puzzlement.
(Gee, thanks. Well, I suppose it’s better than her original assessment, when she felt comfortable labeling me a clueless idiot.)
Gyrax beckons me over. “Hold your hands out—there are powerful loci near your palms. I’m going to connect them with Nyanti’s field.”
“All right.” I kneel beside him and hold out my hands. (Feels kinda hokey—like I’m a con-artist faith healer.)
He looks at Erany. “Ready?”
He looks at me again. “We’re going in her mind. I’ll do my best to untangle the damage, but there’s a good chance that you’ll have to do most of it.”
Alarm rises in my chest. “Gyrax, I have zero experience with auras and mind-stuff.”
“Do your best.”
His palms flare with searing red. Erany’s hands follow suit. He draws her attention with a jerk of his chin. “Prop Jon’s aura open. Otherwise, he won’t be able to employ any magic.”
“You’ll have to hurry because it won’t be easy. He’s about as fluid as a dried twig.” She closes her eyes and begins to chant.
Suddenly, I’m able to see Nyanti’s aura. Glyphs and designs snarled together, like a magical version of a mangled body. I flinch back in reflexive shock—I can instinctively sense it’s completely wrong.
Erany and Gyrax’s auras expand and brighten, hazing the air with shimmery color. A strong body-high rushes through me.
[Easy, John.] It’s Gyrax. His mouth isn’t moving—he’s speaking directly into my friggin’ mind. [Don’t let it overwhelm your thoughts or you’ll risk insanity and permanent damage.]
Oh nice. Thanks for springing that on me when I have zero time to think it over.
[Uh, how do I—] I’m about to ask how to speak telepathically, but then I realize I just did it. [Right. Never mind.]
Gyrax, blazes with fantastic luminescence. [Don’t get lost—keep a tight hold on your sense of self.]
Doesn’t sound hard. I’m pretty sure I know how to—
And then I’m sucked into a mental whirlwind, fighting to remember who I am.