Reckless Magic (Page 49)

The lantern at the stern of the boat, the only light piercing the heavy darkness, cast eerie shadows on the rounded walls. Amory had clearly taken this exit before, but I was too exhausted to garner any details. I had no sense of time, and felt barely coherent.

Amory said we would row for two hours, he did not say we would be rowing in a dark and claustrophobic tunnel of death for two hours. I wished I was wearing a watch, because I was too afraid to ask Amory how much longer. Any extra effort, including talking and I was sure that would finally be it for me. I had never known such exhaustion in my entire life and I was positive I never wanted to know the feeling again.

The river’s current stayed quick and I never noticed a change in depth, although there might have been one; it was impossible to tell without testing it for myself. My feet were freezing from the ice cold water that made its way over the side and I stopped feeling my fingers a long time ago. They maintained their grasp on the oars however, as if obeying a command I forgot I gave them.

Amory grunted suddenly with the effort of another oar stroke. The sound echoed off of the low ceiling and close walls making me jump. My heart beat wildly, and my already labored breath quickened. Normally easily scared, I was actually grateful my heart was strong enough to still have a reaction.

“Sorry,” Amory panted and I heard the strained tone in his voice as our oars once again disappeared beneath the rough surface of the water.

I shook my head as if to say it was ok, but couldn’t force words out of my mouth. I pushed the oars under the rushing ripples and fought with everything I had to push them against the pressure of a force much greater than myself. The river fought back, convincing me to let my oar fall easily into its grip and float away. One more stroke, I decided; and then again, just one more stroke.

My eyes were focused on the dim circle of light the lantern illuminated; I could only see maybe ten or so feet in front of me. I centered on what I could to ensure the boat maintained a straight path, although something told me that Amory could have made the entire journey blinded.

A cool rush of air wrapped itself around me and I shuddered violently. Already frozen from the ice cold water, I dreaded the idea of a draft. When another gush of air rushed by me again, I began to hope. Maybe it was not a draft but the wind.

And then finally, the darkness softened around me into the midnight sky and a thousand stars twinkled above my head. The night air was frigid, whipping violently through the trees. The river widened once outside of the cave taking two paths, one through the black tunnel and the other around it. We were at the bottom of a valley, with hills rising on either side.

“Row over to the left bank,” Amory grunted. I obeyed, grateful to be finished with that part of the journey.

Once near the river’s edge, Amory jumped over the side quickly, knee deep in the rough current. He pushed the row boat up the side of the bank and tied the rope to a nearby tree.

When finally the boat was secured, he returned to my side and offered his hand to help me out. I pried my overworked fingers from the oars and placed a shaking hand in his. I stood up weakly, and allowed Amory to sustain most of my weight, nearly tumbling over the edge.

My feet landed in three feet of water, the violent current still rushing wildly around my shins, doing its best to knock me over. Amory braced me against his body and continued his support until we were safely on solid ground.

I collapsed onto the river bank, thankful to be out of the boat. I still felt the strange sensation of the movement of water and clutched the cool grass to steady myself. The ground was rough, and littered with sticks and rocks. They punctured and scraped my skin, but I was too exhausted to care.

Amory walked back to the boat once again to retrieve my backpack. He took the liberty of digging my sweatshirt out of the wet pack and tossing it to me. I made no movement for it, unable to find the strength to sit up.

“We still have a ways to go,” Amory’s voice was tired but determined. I opened my eyes to look at him, hoping I could form words but nothing came. His eyes deepened with anxiety while he looked around suspiciously.

“I can make it,” I finally mumbled. I pulled myself into a sitting position and found the strength to put my sweatshirt on. Although my backpack was wet from sitting at the bottom of the boat, my sweatshirt remained mostly dry.

Once the warmth of my Huskers sweatshirt was wrapped around me, I began to feel better. I pulled the hood up and tied the draw strings tight. Eventually I found the energy to stand up and shoulder my backpack again.

“Let me carry that,” Amory offered, referring to my bag.

“It’s alright, I can carry it for now,” I waved him off and then shook both of my feet consecutively. My shoes were full of water, and my toes ached from the cold.

Suddenly a jolt of electricity surged through my blood. I jumped, startled by the sudden burst of energy. My blood heated into a boil and my exhausted trembles turned into tremors of nervous energy. I did my best to dispel the unwanted magic, but it stayed persistent.

“They’re here,” Amory whispered. I realized the mysterious burst of magic was a warning sign that another Immortal was close. I followed Amory’s example and hunched over, crawling silently up the vertical incline.

He gestured with his hand to keep moving. I stayed as low to the ground as I could without actually crawling and stepped carefully. I was embarrassed by how clumsy I was as only human. I repressed my magic, although the temptation to use just a little bit was strong.

Just like at Kingsley when the other students’ magic would trigger my own, so this unfamiliar stranger had shot off a warning sign through my veins. I couldn’t help but be thankful however, as the hot blood had not only warmed my body, but given me an extra burst of energy making it possible to escape quickly now.

“As long as we stay human, I doubt they will be able to follow us. Stay close and stay quiet,” Amory instructed in a soft whisper. I struggled to hear through the whipping wind and rustling trees.

We continued our trek through the Romanian wilderness. The wind was strong and with every current of air the autumn leaves were carried off in all directions. Despite the chilliness of the night, the sky was clear and the moon shone bright.

Amory led the way up one steep slope and down another, over and over again. We may not have been hiking entire mountains, but these foothills might as well have been. My arms were exhausted from rowing, but finally able to rest. It was now my legs turn to bear the weight of our escape.

The nervous buzzing of unfamiliar magic began to dissipate and I noticed Amory relax a little. He slowed our pace somewhat, taking his time and treading carefully through the more dangerous inclines. Never once did he look up to consult our direction, he seemed to take every step confidently, as if the path we walked had been traveled many times before.

Through our seemingly endless expedition my thoughts drifted to Kiran. My lips burned with the memory of his farewell; the frantic, determination in which he pressed his mouth against mine made me push through the pain and exhaustion. I remembered his aqua eyes deep and searching, begging me to run.

A shudder slithered down my spine, totally unrelated to the cold night. Whatever the reason I was running, Kiran was convinced it was absolutely necessary. I watched Amory take determined step after determined step and wondered at his reason for flight. What was it that had these two men so scared, so ready to risk everything to remove me from some mysterious danger?

“Here,” Amory panted, bending over to rest his hands on his knees. “We can rest here,” he struggled to catch his breath, while stabilizing himself.

I let out an exhausted sigh and sunk to the ground. The dirt and mud and damp ground had never offered such a comfortable resting place. I pulled my knees to my chest and rested my head wearily on them.

I licked my dry lips, realizing how thirsty I was. I thought back to the rushing river almost with regret. I shook my head quickly to rid my mind of the thought. I would survive.

“You can use your magic again,” Amory said with a stronger voice and I saw him stand upright confidently. “Careful though.”

The small buzzing of frenetic energy made its way over my body and I realized that Amory was bringing his back. He turned away from me and stretched out his arm. The buzzing grew stronger and Amory turned to shield his face.

A great white light followed by the sound of a tree exploding pierced the darkness and I let out a startled scream. I couldn’t help but be relieved however, that I was not the only one with those kinds of issues. Apparently blowing things up was just what happened to those pretending to be human.

I followed Amory’s example, allowing the buzzing to grow into a steady current of excited energy. I didn’t bother to stand up, but rather positioned my hands as far away from my face as I could. The energy continued to build and build until I could no longer hold it in anymore.

The small sapling that took the brunt of my built up electricity exploded into a thousand tiny pieces. I covered my head with my arms as small splinters rained down on top of me. When they stopped, I took a big breath relishing in the renewed energy.

Although my exhaustion did not completely disappear I was able to begin the healing process. As the magic moved through my blood, my muscles could finally relax. My scrapes and bruises began to disappear along with the soreness in my muscles. I rolled my head in a circle, cracking my neck and then stretched my arms high above my head. I felt completely renewed.

“Better?” Amory smiled at me.

“Much,” I smiled back.

“I don’t know many other Immortals who could have pulled that off. In fact, I’ve only heard of two others besides myself that have pulled that off,” Amory sat down beside me, resting his long arms on top of his bent knees.

“Oh really? Most Immortals can’t do that?” I felt oddly proud of my accomplishment.

“Oh, no. Most Immortals are useless without their magic. You are very special, child,” I blushed at his compliment.

“Who are the other Immortals then, I mean the ones who’ve done this before?” I asked, curious.

“You’re parents,” he said simply.

“Amory, I need answers,” I demanded at the reference to my parents. Although I was thankful to be that much more like them, I was tired of feeling in the dark.

“And you will get them, but first we need to call your brother. Your journey is far from over,” He looked out into the dark expanse with a distant expression on his face. I was not entirely sure if he meant my current journey or if he was speaking metaphorically. “Now that you have your magic back, I need you to connect with Avalon; he needs to come pick you up,” he gave me a look that told me I needed to follow his orders immediately.

Avalon. I concentrated on my twin brother, filling my body with strong energy. Avalon.

What? I knew immediately that he was irritated by my interruption. I felt defensive until I realized he didn’t even know we were in the same country.

We need your help. Now that our minds were connected, I felt every emotion, every thought he had, and I knew he felt the same with me. It was a very invasive experience.

Who’s we? His thoughts were tight and constrained, much like the position his body was in.