No one had expected my move. That was good in some ways since Darman and Potilia were intent on the people they took to be the most dangerous, like Lord Cayman. On the bad side, though, it meant none of his allies were prepared to help protect me. I had to move quickly. I had to draw on the magic I'd learned during this odd, long journey. I had the power of being a Sanctioned Protector at my fingertips.
And I had spent a lot of time learning about a certain type of magic. The first magic I had sent at them had been a diversion. I put all the power I dared into it because I wanted them to think I was truly trying to destroy them. I wasn't -- I knew I hadn't that much power, but what I sent against them did take the two by surprise and I saw that three of the dozen fireballs had gotten through their defenses, which was better than I had expected. The others quickly took up the attack as well.
No time to reconsider what I was doing. No time to ask if this might be wise or if any of them could help. I had to go with my next trick. There was one type of magic I'd been around more than any other during this madness.
I concentrated on a spot just behind Darman and Potilia.
I opened a door.
And then I opened another within that door.
By the fourth door, the others had realized what I was doing, both on my side and on Darman's. The power from the votex of so many linked doors began to drag leaves into it. I made another door -- far harder now. The power to make them and to keep them open came from me, and Darman sent a bolt of pure power that would have killed me outright if Maggie hadn't stepped forward, staff in hand, and her own power deflected the blow.
Time meant nothing to me now. Seconds? Minutes? I could not measure the time it took for me to make those doors and hold them open. Five -- I had five doors at my command. The vortex had started grabbing up rocks, plants, and dirt. Darman and Potilia had grabbed hold of each other and that wasn't out of fear. I saw their powers merging in braids of light that spread up around them.
Dangerous for us -- but dangerous for the two of them, as well. They were both powerful magicians and I doubted they'd ever joined power before. I thought I heard Lord Cayman shout something, but I dared not try to listen. I held to the doors. I could feel the pull of the vortex reaching for me now, too.
The weres suddenly made a rush for me. I should have expected it and seeing hundreds of creatures heading straight for me. The shock and fear almost made me lose the hold on the spell, but before I could fully react, Bog Bob leapt over the top of us and landed with a force that flattened weres with such force that most of them must have died immediately and those that were not hit retreated in haste, breaking free of whatever magic Darman had used to drive them towards me. The ground and trembled and I went to my knees, but I held on to the spell. Trees were starting to bend toward the vortex now. I hoped my friends stayed safe. I had time again -- not much, but --
Bog Bob launched himself straight at Darman and Potilia. I gave a cry of despair because I knew the two would react too quickly. I almost let go of the doors to save him, but at that moment Edmond arrived at my feet.
"Hold on!" he warned above the growing wind. He had to catch hold of my pants with his claws. "Diversion!"
Bog Bob was a big diversion, too. I realized others had started to move once Bog Bob blocked the view. Just hold on a little longer, that's all. I knelt and grabbed hold of Edmond as he started to slip. I knew we could do this. We just had to --
Bog Bob leapt to the side with surprising grace for something that large. Darman cursed and turned as well, and that as his mistake. I wasn't sure if he saw the others lined up -- Tom, Darman, Maggie, and a few others. The blast that hit him and Potilia -- who had seen it coming but panicked -- did not destroy the two, but it did send them flying.
They tumbled through one door, another, another -- I thought maybe Lord Cayman had added a few more doors and more chaos into the mix. I wasn't sure. Once the two were gone I knew the others were safe, and that meant my power grew weaker. My doors snapped shut, one after another.
Weres disappeared into dust, the power Darman had used to create them gone, and they were no longer human enough to hold on to their forms. Within a minute the wind died down, the weres disappeared, and I was kneeling with allies, including a group of startled soldiers, in the empty field of battle.
"Where is he?" I asked, looking up as Davis came to me.
"We don't know. You did a damned good job there. Random doors like that -- brilliant. You okay?"
"I think so," I said and let go of Edmond. He stretched and looked around, blinking as though he'd slept through the battle. I let Davis help me back to my feet. "The others?"
"We did well," he said. I heard a little bleakness; he was a healer and no doubt lost a few people in this battle. "I am glad to have it done."
I nodded as Lord Cayman came toward me, but from the look on his face, I could tell we were not truly done.
To Be Continued