Rory joined us after I’d had a look at the second ward. The first had been in better shape than the second, and I was still on my knees in the grass when Rory walked up. The damp had soaked through my pants at the knees, leaving me a little chillier than I’d have liked, but it wasn’t going to be enough to send me back to shelter to change before our job was done.
“Matt told me you were up,” he said. “Having a look at the mess?” He glanced between Carolyn and I, then smiled a little. “Please tell me we didn’t screw up too badly.”
“You didn’t do anything to screw them up. Whoever dicked around with them in the first place did that more than well enough without your intervention.” I sat back against my heels and pushed my hair back and out of my face. “They’re a mess, though. I just don’t quite know how to fix them without wiping them out and starting again.”
Rory nodded slowly. “Thought that might be the case, but we weren’t going to do it without you or Kel to put them together.” From his jacket pockets he produced a few baggies of herbs and a bit of chalk. He thrust it all at me, smiling almost sheepishly. “Here. Thought you could use these. That’s why I wasn’t out here earlier. Had to find them.”
“Thanks.” I smiled gratefully up at him and I took the baggies and the chalk. It still wouldn’t be easy—not if I was remaking them—but getting wards rigged back up seemed more possible now. I exhaled and started to erase the ring around the stack of rocks, trying to concentrate.
Kellin and I stood next to the inner wall, built of concrete and large cobbles cemented together with concrete and mortar. A few quick strokes of chalk and she’d added a new ward. We each touched it, dumping energy into it. Her lips moved silently and I could feel the energy flowing from her into the marks and through them into the stones of the wall itself. I pulsed energy in, too, different from hers but with the same intent.
When we finished, she looked at me sidelong and grinned tiredly. “On to the next one.”
I nodded in agreement, smiling back, and we turned to walk down the wall to the next site.
I pulled back from the ward, blinking. My limbs felt rubbery, but I could feel the power rolling off the newly constructed ward in front of me. I sat back, taking a few deep breaths.
“You okay, Mar?” Carolyn touched my shoulder lightly.
I swallowed twice before I nodded. “Yeah. Yeah, I think I am.”
The ward was restacked, rechalked, ringed in a deep circle cut into muddy clay. I didn’t remember doing any of it, but the energy was mine, mingling with hers and Rory’s, though theirs were fainter, less prominent.
“You sure?” Carolyn pressed. “You look a little pale.”
“Just tired,” I assured her, mind reeling. What just happened? Did I somehow black out and still…function? That had never happened before, not that I could ever recall. The idea that I could do that frightened me a little.
“Did you see something?” Rory asked abruptly, towering over us both.
I just blinked up at him. How the hell can he tell? How the hell does he know?
My silence was apparently all the confirmation he needed. He nodded curtly. “Whatever happened, you just set that ward without thinking about it. Told us when to energy dump and everything.” He shivered slightly, staring at the ward. “That one’s going to keep something really nasty out. Already giving me a little bit of the crawlies, and I helped make it.”
I stared at the ward for a moment, took a deep breath, then exhaled it slowly. “Well,” I said, “then let’s get on to the next one and hope it happens again. I don’t want anything like that ever making it to our home ever again.”
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