Rana reached out one arm, and with Caleb supporting her on one side managed to walk with him out of the tunnel and into the clean air again. Celia rushed forward and took her other arm, but she couldn’t support her weight anymore, and her knees buckled.

Caleb ducked down, and simply picked her up, his armour digging into her side as they walked back around behind the hastily erected barricade, shimmering with magic as well as the logs and dirt banks.

Her chest heaved and every breath was an effort as she was gently lowered to the floor. Her eyes were fluttering, it was hard to keep them open when breathing took this much energy. She could feel the vibrations through the floor and the magic starting to seep through the air.

“What’s happening?”

“Thomas. Broke the. Seal.”

“How?”

“Stole. My power. Add his. Big mess.” Her hands fluttered apart in a pathetic resemblance of an explosion, before collapsing back against Caleb, his hands coming up to try and support her, warm on her arms.

“You can steal power?”

“Really. Shouldn’t.”

Mortimer was standing above them, his shadow long against the grass, “How bad does this get if he does break this Seal?”

Rana opened her eyes and looked up at him, just letting the desperation and utter despair that she felt rise up to the surface. If magic descended onto this world, raw, unchecked, it would be just like last time, like “Ashfell.”

Mortimer’s face grew grave, and Rana felt the world slip away from her, she couldn’t tell how long for, but when she came back, mages were streaming out from behind the barricade, and it was just her, Caleb, and Celia, standing over them.

“Rana, is there anything you can think of we can do? Anything at all?”

She looked down at the ring on her finger, contemplating the weights against them. A crack came from the mound behind her, and even she could see the spray of earth that shot up into the sky, as a wash of magic told her that the Seal was broken.

With one last sigh, she slid the ring off her finger, “Last hope.”

“Rana? What are you doing?” There was concern, panic almost, in his voice, but she just gave a weak smile, she hoped he could see it.

And then she snapped the ring.

 

Every ward died with a whisper, the ground stopped shaking, and the earth slumped back into the gap that magic had thrown it from. The magic in the air died back into the afternoon sunlight as a ghastly silence froze everyone in place.

“Rana? Rana!” Caleb pressed his hand against the deathly pale face, limping lolling over his arm, chest barely moving.

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