The Dark Times; Part 25
'Aituár, Aituár - come back!'
It was Antaja's voice, and to Aituár it seemed to be coming from somewhere far, far away. With a huge effort she gathered her thoughts and tried to follow Antaja's instructions.
'Listen to me - you have to return to your body. Can you feel it?' said Antaja.
Aituár tried, and she felt relieved when she finally found herself back in the protecting shell that was her body. Aituár tensed and relaxed her fists a couple of times, before opening her eyes.
She was slightly surprised to discover that she was still standing inside the pentagram on the floor of the cave. It seemed to Aituár as if she had made a very long journey, but here she was. Antaja was smiling at her - and so was Wotan, who was holding Déomarr in his big hands! They had obviously managed to catch up while Aituár was in a trance.
Antaja peered intently into her eyes, before placing one hand on Aituár's forehead. Eyes closed, Antaja seemed to be concentrating deeply. When she finally opened her eyes again, she gave a nod of satisfaction.
'It worked! You have gained your powers - now you need to learn how to control them!'
'Please - could it wait a moment?' said Aituár, approaching Wotan and the dragonling.
'I would like to make sure that Déomarr is unharmed.'
Antaja nodded, and watched with amusement as the small dragon flung himself from Wotan's hands into the arms of Aituár. His long tongue eagerly licked the tip of her nose, and she in turn gave him an affectionate hug while wiping away a tear. This was the very first time they had been separated ever since Déomarr had hatched.
After having examined Déomarr thoroughly Aituár turned to Wotan.
'Have you been hurt?' she asked, looking at a stain of blood on his sleeve.
'Tis not my blood!' the bearded giant of a man replied and smiled reassuringly at Aituár.
'And do not worry about Jeremiah,' he continued before Aituár got a chance to ask, 'he is busy trying to find out where our attackers came from, and who sent them.'
Once Déomarr had calmed down, Aituár turned to face Antaja.
'I am ready!' she said simply.
'You have already discovered that you have the power of healing in your hands' said Antaja.
'You also have two powers in your mind - powers that you can exercise by focusing. You will need to concentrate completely on what you intend to do. This will take some time to learn, and the more times you do it, the better you will get.'
'We will start slowly, with small objects - then, once you feel that you have control over the powers, you wil have to continue practising on larger objects on your own.'
'But which are the powers?' asked Aituár.
'The power to move objects, and the power to set them on fire' replied Antaja.
Aituár stared at her, astonished. How was she to accomplish that?
'Contemplate this candle' said Antaja and pointed at one of the lit candles flanking the pentagram.
'Focus on it, become one with it - become the candle. Feel the weight of the candlestick, the coolness of the metal. Feel the long straight candle. Feel the wick, hot from the flame.'
Aituár concentrated, and concentrated. Again and again she tried to enter her mind into the candle. She forgot all about the surroundings, all about Antaja and Wotan. She was only aware of the candle, and Déomarr contentedly purring in her arms.
'Now move the candle over here!' said Antaja suddenly, as she pointed at a spot in the middle of the pentagram.
Aituár's gaze wavered - and the candle moved with her gaze, into exactly the spot that Antaja had indicated! Aituár looked up, back in the present, feeling bewildered.
'I did that? Did I do that?'
'Yes dear, you did' replied Antaja.
'Well done, you made it on your first attempt!
She looked thoughtfully at Aituár.
'Maybe we should try to exercise your other power as well. I had planned on letting you repeat this task, but you are a fast learner, and -'
Antaja looked at Wotan, who had been shifting his weight from one foot to the other for some time now, '- we may not have much time.'
Antaja blew out one of the candles.
'This time you need to focus only on the wick - but do not try to become one with it.' she told Aituár.
'Imagine your mind as a ray of heat, a thin ray of fire. Aim this ray at the wick and try to picture it becoming warm, very warm - so warm that it catches fire.'
Aituár closed her eyes briefly in order to clear her mind. Then she began focusing on the candle, trying to think 'hot, hot, hot'. At first, nothing seemed to be happening, but slowly something started to look odd about the candle. There was still no flame, yet the candle-grease began melting.
Antaja stared at the candle with a look of utter surprise, and then turned to stare at Aituár. This distracted Aituár so much that she lost her concentration.
'I am sorry, but I cannot do it' she told Antaja.
'No, no - no need to be sorry - it is just that I was not expecting you to perform an invisible heat ray' Antaja replied.
'I have only seen one person do this before, and that was -'
She was interrupted by Wotan, who had been listening intently to something outside the cave. He put a finger to his lips and gestured to Antaja, who immediately put out the candles, leaving the cave in complete darkness. Yet Aituár somehow managed to make out details, just like in the tunnel earlier that day - or was that yesterday? So much had happened that she was not sure any more.
With a determined look on her face Aituár tightened her grip around Déomarr, twining her fingers into his leather string harness. She would not allow anything or anyone to separate them again.
What did Wotan hear?
Was it their attackers?
Was it Jeremiah returning from his search?
Or was it... the Master?