She spotted a downed tree that looked familiar. Then a recognizable rock. Have I been running in a circle? Son of a bitch! She was right back where she'd started from.
She took off in a different direction. When she heard crashing waves over the storm, she hastened toward the sound.
Just as she caught a whiff of salt air off the sea, a branch walloped her in the face, making her eyes water.
When they cleared, she sucked in a breath and wheeled her arms backward, slowing a skid that was slipping her right to the edge of a cliff.
She stopped herself just in time, dirt clumps tumbling off the ledge. They landed hundreds of feet below in storm-tossed waves.
Cliffs! No gently sloping beach, no pier with a boat. And behind her, the ghouls neared. She gazed back down at the foot of the cliff. Waves crashed over a shelf of rock before the ocean sucked them back.
She was trapped. A choice. If she could time a jump perfectly, she might hit one of those oncoming waves. Might not break her legs, her neck...
And then she'd be washed out to sea. A jump and possibly death, or a fate even worse. What would Ripley do?
When Carrow spied the ghouls' glowing yellow eyes surrounding her, she whispered a prayer to Hekate, then forced her foot out - over nothing.
"I know where they are!" Mariketa bolted upright in bed, waking from a fitful, exhausted sleep.
"Wha?" Bowen said groggily beside her. "What's that?"
"There's been an eruption of power! Lore energy." She stumbled from the bed. "I can find Carrow!"
For days, Mari had been racking her brain, desperate to save her friend's life. She'd hounded Nix for more information, until the soothsayer had simply disappeared.
Now Mari had felt where that energy had sprung from. Snagging a pocket mirror from her dresser, she concentrated on the cosmic disturbance she'd felt down deep in her bones. Like an errant thought, the location was flitting away.
Bowen rose, stalking over to her. "Go easy with that, lass," he said warningly. "You will no' look into it."
She shook her head, furiously rubbing the glass with her thumb, downloading the location into the mirror before she lost it forever.
Almost ... almost ... got it! She sagged with relief. "Something's happening in the Lore. Something big. With that much raw power, it's got to be a concentration of immortals. It must be the Order's island."
"Why do you think that?"
"Nix said I could locate the island - by looking for something else. In other words, tonight I found the energy, instead of the place." She hugged him. "This is it, Bowen!"
"So what do we do? When do I leave?"
"Well ..." Mari shuffled her feet. "I don't exactly know how to translate what's in the mirror to a map or coordinates." But with a brief commune with the mirror, she could figure out how to transport them directly there.
Okay, yes, she wasn't supposed to gaze directly at a mirror, given the risk of enchanting herself.
But this would be such a "uick "uestion, more of a "uery really. Not really even a gaze, but more of a glimpse -
"Doona dare even think about it, Mari." Bowen scowled down at her. "I will no' have you risk yourself."
Though Mari could use mirrors as focusing tools - or, say, to store a cosmic waypoint - she couldn't draw on the monumental power latent in them. It was enough to make her want to tear out her hair.
She gazed up at him, letting him see her frustration. "Carrow's my best friend, a sister to me. And she's not the only witch missing." Amanda and Ruby, Carrow's cousins, couldn't be found either. "Bowen, I can't just sit here and do nothing. Nix predicted Carrow's death!"
"And she might as well have predicted that Bowen's curvy redhead would get enchanted forthwith. No' a chance of this, witchling. I'll smash every bluidy mirror in this place and tie you to the bed."
He was clearly still miffed about the last time she'd gotten enchanted. Bowen had stepped between her and the mirror, rescuing her, but now he threw a mantrum whenever she even hinted that she might commune with one.
Just because she'd accidentally bored holes into his body - with her eyes.
"If I can't transport us there, then who will?" Mari demanded. "We'd have to find someone who can trace or open a portal not to a place, but to energy, based on nothing more than what I sensed in a dream, even though he or she could be captured by sadistic mortals bent on vivisection."
"Lass, we'll find a way. There's got to be somebody in the Lore who's crazy enough for even that. We will no' rest until we've run them down."
Mari frowned. Crazy? She couldn't "uite get enough air as the answer hit her. She knew someone who was certifiable. He was also an immortal male, filled with evil, and obsessed with something as intangible as smoke.
The craziest. "Ah, Hekate, I know who the key is!"
Malkom didn't have time - or the words - to calm the girl.
"Put me down!" she shrieked.
He set her on her feet, keeping a grip on her shoulder as he straightened.
She gaped, no doubt uneasy with his size -
With a scream, she booted his shin. Or not.
He growled, crouching before her. "Stop, girl!"
She kicked again, screaming words he didn't understand. But he could make out Crow again and again. "Carrow?"
She paused her assault on his leg. "Crow. Carrow." She had a fierce look in her eyes. Green eyes like the witch's. "What have you done with her? Have you hurt her?" Another kick to the shin.
"Did not hurt her," he said in measured English. "But she is - "
"You're Malkom! The demon she captured."
He scowled. "Carrow is mine." He hit his chest over his heart. "She's ... my wife."
"You don't have to talk so slow. I'm not a baby, you know." At his bemused look, she said, "Where's Lanthe, then?"
"Do not know her. I must find Carrow. We have to go now."
She crossed her arms over her chest. "I'm not going with you. You yelled at her earlier. You said you were going to make her pay."
He couldn't deny that. " 'Twas true. Until you."
"I don't know why she misses you."
Misses me? "She fell, Ruby. She could be hurt."
The girl's eyes went wide. Then she turned on her heel and set off.
With a growl, he snagged the back of her shirt. "You have to stay with me."
"Goin' to save her."
He swiftly caught her up, seating her above his hip. "As - am - I," he bit out.
"Okay, I'll go with you. But if you try to hurt her, I'll kill you."