Sliding inside her mother’s mind was a freaky sensation. The way Sonia’s mind sucked at hers made stopping before the fusion was complete difficult, but her mother had made it clear that to act as anchor, she was to stop the merge before it was complete. Concentrating, she spread her mind out like a parachute â€“ slowing then stopping her descent before she was completely submerged. In response, she heard a delighted mental clap from her mother.
Yes! That’s absolutely perfect. I told you she was talented, Sal, Sonia said. Only then did Lydia realise her mother was already fully merged with Sarah. Did your mentor teach you that, Lyd?
Uh? Lydia considered the question and pushed at her vague memories of her lessons before nodding. Yes, I think so. It feels like it, though my conscious memories of my lessons are very hazy.
I imagine she used a form of dream teaching, since she could hardly take you away physically without giving herself away, Sarah said. I bet we can dig them out if you want â€“ but right now we need to concentrate on the task at hand. Do you want to handle the partial merge with Tara, Sonia?
Of course, Sonia said and Lydia felt her reach for Tara with the part of her mind not fused with her. There we are. The ball’s in your court Tara.
Thank you, Tara said. I have Marian, Collette and Martin as well. Could you all pour your visions into me?
That was the only warning Lydia had before a welter of images nearly overwhelmed her. A barren hilltop, a circle of stones, Jayden Emms holding a glowing clay ball, light pouring up to the sky and tearing it open. She gasped from the sudden torrent of visions and it took every ounce of willpower not to break away. She wanted nothing more than to tear free from the merge and run. Her heart was pounding and she was vaguely aware that she was trembling with the effort of maintaining contact with her mother. If she was the anchor, then what was it like for her mother and the others in the merge?
Keep calm, Lyd, Sonia said. A calming wash swept through Lydia and her heartbeat slowed so abruptly she knew it couldn’t be natural. Sorry, sweetie. I hate doing that but we need you functional. You have to take note of everything in case we miss anything.
It’s okay, Mum. I’ll try, Lydia said. But I wasn’t expecting it to be like this. Though so far I haven’t seen any of us?
That’s because I haven’t fed my vision in yet. Marian’s mental voice reached her even though she wasn’t directly merged with Lydia. We need to clarify this first so we know how to stop him.
Ah! Lydia turned her attention back to the repeating loop of visions and vague memory surfaced. Oh! The stones! She indicated the circle of large waterworn pebbles surrounding him. They are his focus. He’s building a gateway to somewhere using himself as the bridge.
Not somewhere, my ilsra. Nowhere. Fellaria’s voice sounded in her mind. It was the most coherent thing Lydia had heard from her in days but she still sounded panicked. You have no idea how bad it was last time. He’s partially opening a gate into the energy we call the void between worlds. Our powers come from our natural attunement to it. If more energy leaks in, it’ll start triggering people with minor powers – embers – and eventually even people with none â€“ which is where the trouble starts. There was a pause. That’s not including the people it will just outright kill. You have to stop him.
That is our intention, Fellaria-ida, Sonia said. You are Fellaria-ida, yes? Is my daughter right? Will disrupting the pebbles stop him?
I am. And it will help, Fellaria said. And if you can assist the Earth Warrior in taking the key from him that will help as well. But with his barrier broken he may be strong enough to do it without help. You need to take him down.
And to do that we need to know what he has up his sleeve, Tara said. Marian, feed in your vision now.