She can hear the footfalls behind her, sense her pursuers’ presence, but she can’t see them. Moyra wonders if she’s going crazy, beginning to hallucinate because of a combination of dehydration and exhaustion. The echo of her mother’s warnings still ring in her memory, and she knows she’s not. The muscles in her legs burn from being pushed past their limits. Field after field she’s run though, always feeling that those faceless beings are on her heels and if she stops for rest or breath they’ll reach her.
As she clears the edge of the field, her pace slows. There. Just past the next hill, she can see the roof of a structure, same as the vision her mother had shown her. The call to the place pulls her, and she ducks through the barbwire bordering the property she’s just run through. With a glance back over her shoulder, Moyra starts down the hill.
The ground is loose, rocky, and the slope is steep. Even before the shouts sound at the crest of the hill above her, she knows her shadows are behind her. She quickens her pace, but falls as a rock under her foot shifts to tumble down the hill. A bolt of dark energy shoots through the air and crashes into the side of the smaller hill ahead. The time for care is over.
Moyra uses the loose ground to her advantage, arms out for balance as she rides the sliding dirt into the gulley. She leaps to the side just as another bolt hits the ground inches from where she just stood, showering her with dirt and gravel. Adrenaline surging through her veins, she sprints toward the building.
“Moyra! You cannot escape me!”
The words sound as though the speaker is standing beside her even though the speaker remains at the top of the slope beside the fence. Her name on his lips brings ice to her veins. She ducks behind a rock formation and struggles for breath. His cocky, taunting voice rings out again.
“I have no cause to harm you, Moyra. Surrender. Give up this folly and join us.”
“Why should I?”
His chuckle echoes around her…menacing…cruel. “It’s your destiny, Moyra. It was written long ago.”
She braces herself to run again. “I don’t believe in destiny,” she retorts. Moyra leaps up and runs up the hill, grateful that it was much smaller and not near so steep as the last. A warm energy washes over her as she nears the top. Suddenly dizzy, she drops to a knee as she grips her head.
“Very well, Moyra, we shall play it your way.”
She turns, looking on the man who she’s certain is the one who broke into her apartment the night before. Was that really less than twenty-four hours ago? He holds out a hand and a black shadow appears in his palm. Moyra tries to stand but her equilibrium is too uneven. She lifts her eyes resolutely as he launches the dark missile at her.
Brother Brendan watches speechlessly as the scene unfolds before him. He can’t believe how close he is to his goal but still unable to complete his mission. If only he had moved faster, taken the public transport so as to beat the men now arguing across the distance with The Destroyer. Moyra, she’s called. He watches her run, sees her stumble and fall on the hill. A final threat and the dark practitioner throws the shadow from his hand.
He can tell she’s out of energy as she tries to stand but rather falls back. He holds his breath as the writhing black bolt nears her. It shatters as if hitting a wall, bringing a frown of confusion to Brendan’s face. A shield? The dark matter spreads out in all directions, and he can tell that Moyra isn’t as good at making a magical shield as it initially appeared. From his vantage point, he can clearly see her right foot is not encased by the protective spell.
Liam is ripped from sleep as he feels dark forces crash against his barrier, followed by a scream that chills his blood. He scrambles to his feet and hurries to the outer door, where he sees his wife already rushing across the grounds in the direction the disturbance had come from. As he catches up to her, he’s horrified by the scene before him.
Two agents of The Dark Order stand just beyond the invisible shield, and the older of the two continues to fling bolts of cold shadows in an attempt to break down the defensive magic. A young woman he knows instantly to be his daughter is lying on her side, clutching her right leg as she struggles to drag herself back away from those chasing her.
He can feel the rise of his wife’s dark powers, and when she speaks her voice causes slight tremors in the ground. “Tiberion, cease this at once!”
The Dark Master stops his onslaught as if just seeing them, and regards the woman before him carefully. “Brannagh.” His gaze travels between the sorceress standing before him and The Destroyer, realization slowly dawning. “You bore The Destroyer?” he asks incredulously. “You turn your back on your brothers and are then gifted to be mother to the leader of our magicks?”
“Leave now, Tiberion. This girl is none of your concern and you can pass the word to The Order that she is under my protection.” She steps forward until only a couple feet and the shield separate them. “If you’ve any sense at all, you won’t come back. But if you do…” She pauses, her eyes boring into his, ensuring that he’s paying attention and understands the seriousness of her words. “If you do, I will not hesitate to destroy you and whatever petty minions of yours you bring along.”