- Author: Bella Forrest
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The Secret of Spellshadow Manor 6: The Spell
Copyright © 2017 by Bella Forrest
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Alex felt a shock run through his body as he put himself between Aamir and the first swell of the sentient, silver tide. It recoiled, leaving Alex with a sensation so unbearably cold that it burned, shivering through his veins like icy rocket fuel. It wasn’t something he had expected, given the mist’s Spellbreaker origins, but he knew he had intervened between predator and prey.
The mist paused only for a moment before surging forward again, though this time it avoided Alex, bending around him the way the same poles of a magnet repelled one another. Alex wanted to block the branching flow, but the shock of the mist’s initial strike had left him rooted to the spot, the slightest movement leaving every cell screaming in agony.
There was nothing for him to do but stand his ground. He opened his arms wide around Aamir, knowing he wouldn’t evade the oncoming mist, not if it meant his friend’s life. The first tendrils slithered past his own legs, the twisting silver tips coiling instead around Aamir’s ankles like snaking vines, drawn by the magic within him. Alex could almost sense how desperate it was to snatch at Aamir’s essence and drag it from the very depths of his body. The thought sent a pang of panic through him.
Looking up into the eyes of his friend, Alex saw tiny silver flecks appear in Aamir’s dark brown irises, and the faintest sparks of silver rose through the skin of his face. The mist was taking hold of him.
Bracing himself, Alex closed his eyes and clutched at the center of his anti-magic, building it into a powerful shield around his body, until the silvery mist snapped back with a jarring whoosh, the shield shocking it. The Great Evil hadn’t expected a Spellbreaker to sour the taste of mage essence.
Seizing the opportunity, Alex lunged forward, pushing Aamir toward the door, though every limb and muscle rallied against him. A guttural cry bellowed from the back of his throat, the pain in his body so intense he thought he might implode. For a brief second, everything went black, and though his vision returned rapidly, tiny black dots seemed to dance in the center of his eyeballs. Grimacing against the agony, he looked toward Aamir, making sure the older boy was as far from harm’s way as he could be. Aamir stared back, like a puppet with its strings cut, his eyes blank, though the silver flecks had begun to fade.
Staggering back, Aamir grasped for the handle of the pit door that had closed behind them during the ensuing chaos, and pulled it open. Alex turned back to the pit, knowing the mist wouldn’t hold off for more than a couple of seconds. He could feel it building behind him again, readying for another strike.
“RUN!” Alex roared, catching sight of Elias, who was still hauling an unconscious Virgil along the floor. Alex cursed under his breath; they couldn’t leave the Head here, not after what had happened. Something had gone terribly wrong with the counter-spell, that much was clear, but if they were to stand any chance of fixing the mistake he’d made, they would need to keep Virgil alive.
The only problem was, every part of his body felt as if it were crumbling, every tiny motion more agonizing than the last, and he had a sinking feeling that he wouldn’t be able to help drag Virgil from the room, even if he wanted to. As soon as the mist rushed back toward the door, they were done for—Alex would be frozen to the spot, Aamir would be engulfed, and it was yet to be seen what might happen to Virgil. Elias might be all right, Alex reasoned—Elias always found a way to survive.
But instead of rushing back toward Aamir, the mist peeled off in the direction of the Head, slithering across the floor until it reached the unconscious man’s dangling legs.
“He’s too fat!” Elias shouted, trying and failing to drag Virgil’s body across the floor. “Can I get a hand here?”
“I can’t! The mist did something to me!” Alex hissed, the pain overwhelming. He could only watch as the mist separated into long wisps shaped like the hands of a silver skeleton. The fingers clawed at the vulnerable flesh of the white-haired hybrid, evidently trying to get at whatever remnant of mage-kind remained within him. Alex gasped, not knowing what it would mean if the mist managed to take Virgil’s magical half from him—would it even stop at half, Alex thought, or might it develop a taste for the anti-magical half as well?
Alex forced one foot in front of the other, each step knocking the breath out of him, but then he suddenly became aware of a movement behind him. Turning, an expression of horror fell across his face. Aamir was running toward the pit, his eyes focused on Virgil and the misty snakes snapping at the Head’s heels. Ducking, Aamir grasped Virgil’s arm and yanked it around his shoulder. It was a split-second movement, and one that Alex couldn’t prevent. He wanted to yell at his friend for his heroic stupidity, but Elias and the older boy were already hurrying back toward him at breakneck speed, the weight now shared between them. Alex tried to move, gritting his teeth against the pain, but each movement was too