Todd was right. The plan was good. Her plan was solid, and the only one they had.
Simon, you ready?
His voice came back. Ready! Liz knew that her son signaled Tara who spoke with Duncan. Wait for Ian to start.
Okay. Even in her head, Simon’s voice didn’t waver.
“We’re ready,” she told Myra and Todd.
They held their breath, waiting.
One deep breath followed another, until the western sky lit up with lightning and the earth rumbled with the force of Ian’s thunder.
Liz willed her body off the ground one foot, two.
Myra grasped onto Todd and Fin’s wrath shook the earth and people in the distance started to scream.
Liz willed her body up, past the tree line, and beyond any possible hiding place.
Damn, how did Simon do this? She no sooner thought the words than Simon’s voice rang in her head. Don’t look down and smile. It’s hard to be scared when you’re trying to smile.
Liz spread her hands wide, in part because she thought it helped her balance, the other part because she wanted to appear like an angel and not a scared shitless wannabe.
She hovered, swam over the crowd below. Some dropped to their knees while others stared on. Myra and Todd slipped from the trees below and watched, like the other spectators only they focused on the people, the warriors who may feel threatened and want to strike.
Simon, signal Ian. Lizzy instructed her son as she lifted her hands to the sky. Lightning split and thunder roared.
“I come to you, ye from heaven above.”
Several villagers made the sign of the cross and fell to their knees.
Fin’s turn, Simon.
“Down here to rid ye of the evil that befell.” Liz flexed her fingers and lowered her hovering frame a few feet.
Fin shook the earth.
She sprang up and swirled to make sure the others in the crowd listened. “A witch resides in the West. Her powers great. She has ripped yer families apart. She is the reason ye grieve. Together. ’Tis the only way to survive her wrath.”
At the sight of the woman in white, Tatiana regarded her frame, considered her vision, and her knowledge. She was no angel. But those around her fell to their knees, their heads bowed, eyes refused to meet those of the hovering mass.
The clouded sky and sun sprinkling through the clouds gave Cian’s family the power they needed.
Alice, the maid, whispered to herself. “What can we do for ye?”
It would take an army to defeat Grainna. The swarms of people would overwhelm Grainna’s chosen four to one. The thoughts stilled, and Tatiana’s head started to ache.
“Nay.” She grasped her head in her hands.
“Leave me.” But Grainna swam in her subconscious, her insides turned cold.
Tatiana closed her eyes, refusing to allow Grainna to see through them. They opened, not by her will, but by the witch’s. Forcing her hands to her eyes, she shielded her sight, turned and ran from the people and the woman posing as an angel.
Did you think I’d let you go so easily?
Pain ripped through her skull. “Nay, I knew ye would not let me be free, ever.”
Turn so I can see.
Nay, she wouldn’t witness anymore to grant Grainna knowledge or power. But her head split and swiveled on its own accord, or Grainna’s will.
Tatiana’s eyes opened, blinked.
Grainna screamed inside her head.
“Stop.” The word was not Tatiana’s, but the witch’s. As it rent from her lips, a few eyes turned to her. “’Tis a miracle, lass. Listen to the angel.” A woman she didn’t know attempted to console her.
She couldn’t know that Grainna battled to see through her eyes.
Tatiana found her feet, turned from the crowd and ran. She stumbled over the cooking fire, her eyes landing on a butcher’s knife. She grasped the hilt, stood and ran again.
Her breath erupted in short gasps. Pain split her sides. The people were well behind her when she reached the edge of the cliff.
Grainna forced her body to spin in a circle.
When her eyes opened, she could not see through them. Tatiana knew someone else was in control.
“Nay,” she yelled, pivoting toward the sea cliffs.
She would not betray Cian. Not again. There would be blood, pain, peace, and then nothing.
There would not be betrayal.
She moved her foot closer to the edge and jumped.
No. Grainna’s voice bellowed. Tatiana felt her body lifted from the air and thrust back to the grassland.
There was pain, but she ignored it, stood, and tried again.
This time, when Grainna pulled her back, Tatiana, with the blade she’d picked by the fire tilted toward her heart, landed.
Then the angel came. The true angel. Gold, brilliant, and gliding on the wind. “Shhh, my child.”
Her voice was that of thousands. Musical, magical.
It worked. His mom’s plan worked. She’d told the people to band together, listen to the lords, and defeat the witch together. The angel, his mom, would grant the people powers to defeat the witch.
The real angel, or in their case, the Ancient, Elise had told them months ago it would take all of them to defeat Grainna. Simon couldn’t help but think they stood half a chance. Maybe more.
As the crowd settled, and Simon heard his mom’s internal words as she changed clothes in the woods, he followed Cian and Amber back to their tent. They stopped by the cook’s fire to find Tatiana gone.
“Where did the girl go?”
Alice shrugged and pointed to the west.
Simon caught Cian’s eye. The three of them ran in the direction of Alice’s pointing finger.
“She wouldn’t leave,” Amber yelled as they ran.
Simon wanted to agree, but couldn’t be sure.
As they drew closer to the cliffs, the small frail body of someone lying on the ground started to come into focus.
There were skirts, and lots and lots of blood.
Amber halted first, trembling.
Simon froze in place along with Cian. When Cian sprang forward, Simon attempted to hold him back.
The mournful cry Cian let free from his lungs ripped Simon’s heart from his chest.
He called his mom in his head, wished they’d hurry. Not that they could do anything for the silent, still girl in Cian’s arms.
The three of them sat there, Simon holding Amber while she whimpered, and Cian rocking Tatiana’s dead body, when the others arrived.
Cian had tried to use his power to save her, but the gift didn’t raise the dead.
Ian reached his son’s side. “There is nothing ye can do, lad.”