“No!” she shouted, and lunged from the door to the hall to where Yarrow was, the bellica’s hands inches from the Magi weapon. Somehow she made it, and wrestled her cousin away from the Magisphere.
“What are you doing?” Yarrow screamed in frustration, and Ghia looked up and saw what was going on across the room.
“Oh, Goddess,” Ghia said, still on the ground by Yarrow. “Is that….”
“It’s Umbra,” Yarrow said, standing and grabbing her sword from where it lay.
Distracted by the scuffle by the shield, the Goddess turned to them, dropping Anala to the floor. The admiral crumpled to the ground and did not move.
Ghia did not know if her cousin was dead or alive, but she was given no more time to think of it. Umbra came towards them, a sight that would inspire fear in anyone. Even the sensible healer. Even Yarrow, she could see from her other cousin’s face.
The woman lunged into battle, leaving Ghia to watch from the floor. Yarrow fought expertly, but she could do nothing against a Goddess.
Struck with an idea, Ghia crawled back to the Magisphere and held it with her left hand; it was incredibly heavy and she was sure it would make her arm fall off. Then, shakily, she rose and faced Umbra.
Using all the power she could, she called upon the Airprorian powers — wind, air, breezes. Her birthright. She felt her own wings flap up from her back and carry her from the floor and the pain that it caused her to stand without her cane. Power still raised, she lifted her right hand and concentrated her energy into it. When she was filled to capacity she thrust her hand towards the Goddess that attacked Yarrow, and a wind with the strength of a hurricane blew the being off Her feet.
Ghia raised the Magisphere to protect her, curling her body up behind it. She still felt filled with energy, but she could not strike again for Umbra was now directing a blast at her.
She could see black flames coming around the edge of the shield, and held on with all her strength, waiting for a pause in the onslaught. She gathered more energy into her arm, asking for Kern’s blessing.
When the flames abated it was only for a second, but it was enough. She dropped the shield so she could see, and cast the power towards Umbra. The Goddess stumbled for a moment, bent over, coughing up blood. Ghia allowed herself a small smile.
Yarrow came in for a killing blow, but though it made a cut upon the back of Zardria’s neck, no blood flowed, and the Deity came up laughing. She sent another blast towards Ghia, and the healer barely held the Magisphere up in time, shielding herself at the same time.
Her energy was fading; she was falling to the ground now. She landed hard on her knees, pitching forward, out of the Magisphere’s range of protection. Despite her shield, the black flames hit her, and her face felt as if it were on fire, her thoughts burned from her skull. Quickly she pulled herself back, behind the shield again, but the pain would not abate, and she felt herself fading fast.
Her arm was failing, the Magisphere too heavy on it. She could barely hold it up.
Then, to her wonder, she felt arms come around her, supporting her, but not touching the shield themselves. Renewed strength flooded her, and she knew it was Jules who was behind her. How he’d managed to get to her without being hit by Umbra’s power himself she didn’t know, but she could have cried with relief.
He helped her stand, and this time Umbra’s black flames did not touch her legs. The couple stood behind the shield, feeling the shuddering as the Magisphere absorbed the attack.
Ghia heard Umbra scream in rage; wondered how Jules stood unscathed. She looked to her side, and saw, to her wondering eyes, the Naratus rise up by himself, out of Anala’s hand. She watched the sword shoot forward in the air, heard a scream, and abruptly the flames stopped.
Ghia dropped the Magisphere, who floated gently to the ground, and looked at Umbra, who stood with the Naratus poking out of her chest.
There was a great and terrible sound, as if the air in the room was sucked out at once, and then Umbra was gone. Zardria stood, the sword still in her, a smile on her face. Yarrow ran forward and caught her sister in her arms, and lowered her to the ground.
There, in the arms of Athering’s next ruler, Zardria breathed out a sigh, and then breathed no more.