I open my eyes and look around. Is this the Clear? Kinda looks like a neglected dining room…
“What happened?” Ren palms his forehead. “Hard to think…”
I feel it too—there’s a loud buzz in both my ears. Thankfully, it’s starting to fade.
“Nyanti.” Gyrax nods at the Witch, unconscious on the floor a few feet away. Her eyes are rolled back into her skull; 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 other two Sytíshí could be in the next room over, waiting for us to let down our guard.”
Erany sheathes her rapier and crouches beside Nyanti. “She’s hurt.”
Gyrax lumbers over, drops to a knee, and studies her intently for about half a minute. “Her loci and meridians are out of alignment. If we don’t force them back into place, the pressure will kill her from the inside out.”
“Sounds like a blood clot,” I say. “In a vein or an artery.”
“Exactly.” Gyrax nods. “But it’s a lot more painful, especially to someone as sensitive as her.”
“I’ve healed before, but I’m no expert,” Erany offers. “What about the rest of you?” She looks at the others but they shake their heads.
“Take care of Lucky and keep an eye out,” Gyrax tells them. “Erany, Jon and I will attend to Nyanti.”
“Me?” I ask. “Um…I’m not really a healer.”
“What do you think you just did, when you broke the Sytishís’ dark-weave dream?” Gyrax counters. “They unraveled your spirit down to the barest thread, but you wove us all back into being. That’s the only reason we’re still alive.”
“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. “Ever since you were a little boy, you wanted to write stories. Well you did it today and it saved your life. Literally.”
“Nice entendre,” I say. “What should I do?”
“What can he do?” Erany’s face twists in puzzlement.
(Gee, thanks. Well, at least it’s better than her original assessment, when she felt comfortable labeling me a clueless idiot.)
“He can be so much more if he allows himself to be.” Gyrax beckons me over. “Stop dawdling. Time runs thin.”
“Uh…okay.” I kneel beside him.
“Hold your hands out—there are powerful loci in the aura near your palms. I’m going to connect them with Nyanti’s field.”
“All right.” I hold out my hands. (I feel kinda hokey—like a crooked faith healer.)
He turns to Erany. “Are you ready?”
She answers with a nod. “I am.”
He looks at me again. “We’re going into her mind. I’ll do my best to untangle her damage, but there’s a good chance you’ll have to do a good amount of work.”
Alarm rises in my chest. “Gyrax, I have zero experience in auras and mind-stuff.”
“Do your best.” His palms flare with searing red light. Erany’s hands follow suit. He draws her attention with a dip of his chin. “You’ll have to prop Jon’s aura open. Otherwise, he’ll be completely useless.”
“Then hurry up because it won’t be easy. He’s about as fluid as a dried twig.”
I’m suddenly able to see Nyanti’s aura. Glyphs and designs snarl together, like a magical version of a mangled body. It makes me flinch in reflexive shock—I can instinctively sense it’s completely wrong.
Erany and Gyrax’s auras expand, brightening and hazing the surrounding air. A strong body-high rushes through me.
[Easy, John.] It’s Gyrax’s voice. His mouth isn’t moving—he’s speaking directly into my mind. [Be easy—if you let it overwhelm you, you 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, now ablaze with bright luminescence, says: [We’re going into her psyche. Don’t get lost—keep a tight hold of 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 and why I’m here.