“What’re we going to do with Yakel?” Keena asked the next morning, “We can’t take him with us, and I don’t think he’s old enough to stay here and look after himself.”
“I’ve been thinking about that,” Ninyo answered. “At a wild guess, your family’s out of the question.”
Keena snorted at the idea.
“But mine might take him in. It’d only be for a moon or two, don’t think they’d mind too much.”
“You sure? I mean, when was the last time you even saw them?”
“While ago, but they’re different to your family. When someone with Red Magic loves someone else, it’s unconditional.” He shrugged. “It’s just the way they are.”
“They won’t think you’re taking advantage of them?”
“Nuh. The more the merrier, far as they’re concerned.” He stood up and called Yakel over. “I’ll be back by midday,” he told Keena, then walked off, Yakel and Aaka in tow.
“Seeya then,” Keena called, slightly dejectedly.
True to his word, Ninyo was back for the midday meal.
“You know, you could’ve stayed until sunset,” Keena told him, “Wouldn’t have held it against you.”
Ninyo shrugged and sat down with his mango. “They insisted that I get back to you, thought you’d be worrying.”
When they’d finished eating, he stood and spoke to the group. “Okay, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, we’re going in. When we do go up to them, look like you could very easily just kill them, even if you don’t have any intentions of doing so, otherwise they won’t waste any time in attacking, magic, swords or whatever. If they do attack, do your best not to kill them. Only use your magic if your life is in danger.” Only Keena could hear him whisper, “Even then it’ll haunt you for life.”
They approached the camp smoothly and purposefully, not trying to hide their existence. They weren’t looking for the element of surprise, more the element of threat than anything. Ninyo walked at the head of the group with Keena next to him.
As expected, they were soon confronted by the group, the head of which was now a strong looking orange haired and furred man with Red Magic. He was looking strangely smug despite being faced by nine people with the second most powerful known magic.
“See you’ve healed up,” he mocked, nodding at Ninyo’s shoulder. “Got a group together to take revenge on us, that it?”
“Here for the jewel, actually,” Ninyo said smoothly but threateningly. “Hand it over nice and quick and nobody dies.” He folded his arms and glared hard at the redhead.
“That a threat, Ninyo?” the man sneered.
“It is, strangely enough.” He held up his right hand and casually formed a ball of Green Magic in his fingers. “If you’re not careful it might slip.”
The man did well to hide his fear. “What do you want with it?”
“Quite simple really,” Ninyo answered, “Use it to find Qillan, then kill her Black Magic. What was your plan?”
The redhead was caught off guard. He opened his mouth to answer, but closed it again when Ninyo raised his eyebrows.
He closed his fingers around the ball of magic and spoke accusingly to the man. “Were you thinking it was as simple as just walking in, throwing your magic at her and walking out?” He nodded his head to Keena, who then produced the now dead Black Magic jewel, holding it calmly in her hand.
This produced a reaction from the redhead and the small group of people behind him. “How can you just hold it like that?” The girl with Brown Magic choked slightly on her words with the shock.
Keena tossed it in the air and caught it again. “No magic left in it,” she said simply, “We killed it. Willing to cooperate yet?”
“You don’t even know how to use it!” the redhead argued helplessly.
Ninyo shrugged. “Iis can teach us. She joined our group because she didn’t agree with your methods.”
“But you can only use it to sense unborn babies with Black Magic.”
“At a wild guess, that’s only because your magic isn’t strong enough.” He gave an irritated sigh. “You know how bored I’m getting?” He drew his sword, and Keena could hear the several metallic ‘shing’s behind her that told her the rest of the Green Group had drawn their own.
The redhead took a step back, realising that arguing was going to get him nowhere. “Kai, go get it,” he sighed.
Ninyo smiled smugly as the girl with a pearl studded between her eyes-the mark of telekinesis-ran off to get the stone. She returned soon, not holding the stone in her hands but in the air, floating it over to Ninyo with her magic.
“In the bag.”
The jewel floated into Keena’s pouch where she then secured it.
“Pleasure doing business with you,” Ninyo said, smiling pleasantly. He sheathed his sword and turned to leave, winking at the group as he did so. “Seeya whenever,” he said, waving casually behind him.
They met up with the healers well away from the camp.
“Well that was easy,” Lima said coolly.
“Power of the Green,” Ninyo said, grinning.
“I take it you got the jewel then?” Iis inquired.
“Right here.” Keena held up the pouch that held their key to eradicating Qillan’s Black Magic. “So what do we do with it?”
“I’m not sure that it will work, we were only ever able to sense unborn foetuses, but I guess our magic is a lot stronger now than it was then, so anything could happen. Okay, put the jewel on the ground, then everyone kneel around it and put your right hand into the centre, just over the jewel.”
They had a bit of trouble trying to fit everyone around the stone, but Iis insisted that the more people they had circling it, the better.
“Next, try and feel the Black Magic in the stone, the same way we’ve been doing, and let a bit of your magic just drip into it, so you’ve got a string joining the Black Magic to you.”
Keena closed her eyes and dripped a line of Green Magic into the stone. She could easily feel the other eight strings of Green Magic from the others in the circle, but could only faintly sense the threads of Healing Magic.
“Now this is the hard bit,” Iis continued, “Using that thread that’s in the stone, extend it through the Black Magic and wind it into a rope with all the strands we’ve got, then sweep it out in the same way you would to sense your own kind of magic. It won’t feel like the magic in the stone, more like a shiver down your spine.”
It took several tries before they managed to make their rope of magic sweep out through the rainforest but still keep in contact with the black stone, but eventually they managed it, and felt the shiver up their spines that Iis was talking about.
“Was that it?” Keena asked.
“That was the Black Magic,” Iis confirmed, taking her hand away from the stone. “Let’s go.”
They’d been travelling in near silence for three days, walking steadily towards what many of them regarded as their doom. Each morning they used the black jewel to make sure they were on the right track, and each time the shiver in their spines grew stronger.
When it felt to them that it would take less than a day to make it to Qillan’s lair, Ninyo stood to make a short speech.
“Okay people, we all know what we’re doing and how to do it. We’ve been training for a moon and a half for this, we’re ready. Don’t let up with your magic. Qillan’s magic’ll be stronger than any you’ve ever come across. It won’t be like when we killed the stuff in the stone; it won’t be instant, but just keep your magic flowing and don’t let go until you see the white flash. She’ll probably try to attack back, but don’t let that deter you. Avoid anything she throws at you, but don’t for a second stop your magic. We’ll need all the power we can get. We can do this guys, good luck.”
“You said it Nin,” one of the older men agreed, slowly clapping his speech. It wasn’t long before the other sixteen were clapping with him.
“Are we seriously ready for this?” Keena asked when they started moving again.
“Damn well hope so,” he answered grimly, “We’ve done all we can, now all that’s left is to put it into practice.” He put his arm over Keena’s shoulders. “We can do this. We’re getting our son back.”