Take Flight Part 16
“I can do that with my glasses! I’m sure I can.”
Vernon frowned. “I’m not sure I’m comfortable with this.”
The Alchemist frowned. “What do you think will happen to me? I’m sure the king will bring guards, and you’ll be there.”
“What if we find the source of magic and someone becomes a Darkling? The very person who is supposed to keep you safe might put you in danger.”
Sayer couldn’t order the Alchemist to help him, or Vernon to not voice his very real fears. He had similar concerns for Birch, but growing up in the human realm alongside his beloved had taught him that he couldn’t be there all the time. Birch had to protect himself, and he could from most things.
“Did you hear what the King’s beloved—”
“Birch, please. It’s pretty awkward calling me by that or a title. I’m just a regular human, like you,” he smiled at the Alchemist, “and I’m certainly not used to thinking of Sayer as a king, or being ‘his beloved’.”
Sayer smiled at the other’s gaping faces. He had a feeling Birch was going to change a lot of the protocols his kind had been mired in for hundreds of years.
Not that Birch was anything close to just anything. The pristine wings folded by his back were a prime example of just how not just a human he was anymore.
“Birch,” the Alchemist stumbled over the name but kept going, “not only stopped Jaylon, but freed him from the influence of the pollution. I’d think being near him is the safest place for any of us to be.”
Vernon looked reluctant as he nodded slowly.
“We’ll not use any magic as we track down the source of the contamination,” Sayer assured Vernon. “A cadre of guards will go with us. Croll will remain here, as my second-in-command.”
He didn’t say Croll was staying behind as a precaution in case something went wrong, but he didn’t have to. When Sayer had gone to find Birch, he’d hoped to have more time with his beloved before the crisis the fae realm faced had grown any worse, but it was almost as if bringing him back had made it worse.
That, or his frustration with the constant drains on their time together made him more sensitive to the myriad duties he’d never really wanted. Sayer wanted to curse his parents for ignoring the problem and leaving it for him to clean up.
“How do we begin to track the magic?” Birch asked.
Sayer hadn’t thought about that. “Can you see the flow coming from any one direction?” he asked the Alchemist.
The slender man shook his head. “In the castle I can see it swirling, but there are too many fae using it to find a clear image of the magic. It’s like… rocks in a stream. For every obstacle the power runs against a change is made to its flow. It branches and spreads out, but I’m downstream from it all with no way to see past the splitting forces.”
They sat silent, stymied by the problem. Sayer smacked the arm of his chair with his fist. “Damn it!”
Birch slid his palm over Sayer’s hand, stopping him from slamming it down again. “Stop that. We just have to use our wits. Every problem has a solution.”
The real world didn’t always work that way. Sayer knew that fact, had it hammered home as he watched his parents be manacled and imprisoned, leaving him to bear their burden. Their living death was so much worse than if they’d truly died that Sayer was unable to go near their cages.
A guard standing by the door cleared his throat. “My lord?” He licked his lips.
“Excuse me, but I’m part nymph. Your water analogy… it gave me an idea. You uh… you need…”
Sayer snapped in frustration. “Spit it out!”
“You need a waterfall,” the guard said in a rush.
Birch’s eyes lit up. “Oh my god, you’re right! That’s perfect.”
Whatever those two understood, Sayer was not on the same page. “Explain what you mean,” he ordered.
“You need a force greater than the pulls on the magic by the rocks, something that will rush the flow of the magic past them to one spot. With a waterfall, that’s gravity. The power will divert around the obstacle of the individual fae, but the draw on it will be so strong that the disturbance will be minimal.”
“To follow the magic, we’ll simply look upstream from the pull on the magic,” Birch finished.
The Alchemist frowned. “That will require an immense amount of power. No one but….” He stared at Sayer.
“No one but me can do it. Take the Alchemist to the roof,” he ordered the guard. Sayer didn’t mention the risk of what he was about to do. They all knew, even Birch from the stricken look on his face. “Let’s go.”
“Where?” Birch jumped up and raced after Sayer.
Sayer was walking so fast Birch had to nearly sprint to keep up. He stopped dead in his tracks when they passed beyond two guards staring straight ahead, a deep black doorway between them. “What is in there?”
“Darklings.” Sayer was matter-of-fact. He seemed calm, empty of anything but determination. “I’m going to stand outside a cell and draw the magic. The Alchemist will see the flow and then we can track it.”
Birch watched in horror as Sayer began to glow. The vast chamber was revealed. Row after row of iron cages housed Darklings. The crazed beings threw themselves at the bars. Sayer spread his arms wide. His head tipped back as he rose onto his tiptoes, balancing in the air.
How much power would he have to draw? There was no way to know, no way to ask the Alchemist. This plan was too hasty. Birch had to stop him.
Like a costume settling over his beloved’s face… the darkness took hold.
Okay, now move along to see the rest of the Briefer's updates! Oh, and have a fun and SAFE Halloween. (I know I'll be out in the rain with my kiddos. Joy! 14 days of sun and the rain comes back just in time.)