Tatiana tilted her head to the side and nodded.
Bending down, Liz opened her mouth and drew in a big breath. She spread the air across the board like a child blowing out candles on a cake.
The fog lifted but tried to come back.
“Do it again,” Tara cried.
Liz blew a second time.
Lora called out, “The enemy is retreating.”
“Out there. Ian says their enemy is fleeing.”
“Grainna is controlling the men with this. The game, the fog.”
Tatiana nodded, and then her smile faded. Her head shot to the ceiling. Soon her spirit sprinted up and out of the room.
“What the hell,” Tara yelled.
“Grainna knows we’re here,” Amber told them, her empathic ability never in question.
“We need to get out of here,” Tara cried.
They ran toward the door.
Fin noticed Grainna spring from her perch and knew she went to intercept the women. When the men in the courtyard and beyond turned their horses or simply ran on foot, he knew Grainna’s hold on them was broken. Duncan, Cian, Todd and Ian met him on the main stairs of the fortress.
“Where are they?”
Ian led the way, following the stairs to the west and down into the lower chambers. “Down there.”
They ran, tripping over stones and debris until they heard a woman’s scream. Fin hated that he couldn’t tell whose.
Duncan ducked as something flew by his head.
Amber’s voice yelled from behind them.
“Hurry,” he cried, pointing toward the sound of the scream.
Bounding down the stairs, Fin burst into the room to find Grainna holding her hand above her head. Liz and the others hovered above the ground, their frames encapsulated in an iridescent bubble.
Duncan shot fire toward the witch, breaking her concentration and forcing the women to the floor with a solid thud.
Todd shot off three rounds, catching Grainna in the chest before landing on the ground, unaffected.
Her hand pushed the gun from his hand making it fall to the floor before Todd’s body slammed against the wall.
Myra countered. Where the bullets had no effect, her force spun Grainna in circles, leaving her against the posts of the bed.
Grainna laughed, lifted her arms over her head, and disappeared in a cloud of gray smoke.
“Where the hell did she go?” Liz screamed. From the doorway, Tatiana appeared.
Cian’s gasp brought all eyes to him. “’Tis you.”
She nodded and pointed above her head before moving from the room.
“Wait,” Cian yelled as he followed her spirit.
Simon, in the form of the wolf, reached the top of the stairs first.
Hurry, Simon yelled. She’s trying to escape.
Liz started yelling before she reached the landing where her son stood. “What’s the matter, Grainna? Is the wicked witch afraid?” Maybe taunting her wasn’t the brightest idea, but it seemed a better idea than letting her run away.
Outside, Grainna turned at Lizzy’s call, her words stepping on her last nerves. Why should she run? This was her world, her reign. These people were nothing.
Lightning split above her head, she batted it away with a wave of her hand. “I expected more of you, Ian.” She tossed him off his feet.
The wind caught beneath her legs, she stumbled but didn’t fall.
She drew a line of fire in front of the family and pulled in a deep breath. As she blew, the fire whipped and struck out at them.
Rain splattered down from above, stopping the flames as quickly as she could conjure them.
The women started grasping on to each other’s hands.
“In this day and in this hour,” Liz started the chant and the others followed. Ian grasped hold of his wife, his son, the others.
“We call upon the Ancient powers.”
The air around Grainna thinned. She had to flee. She’d not be sent forward in time again.
Grainna lifted her hands and started to shift.
“Bring upon this witch every soul that she has taken or she has stolen.”
Tatiana’s ghost swam toward her, hands extended. Grainna forgot to shift and ducked the girl’s dead fury. Another black ghost flew her way, and another.
Their weeping, cries, and sorrow followed rage and violence.
“Souls!” Liz yelled. “Take back your powers, every soul. Leave her empty, leave her cold.”
The family advanced, united. Each one adding a chant, adding another layer of her demise. She batted away the ghosts. Slivers of spiny fingers racked her face and arms. Her skin started to tear.
Her body started to weaken.
“No more immortality, this is our curse from us to thee.”
Grainna heaved a wail from her lungs. Lungs that breathed for five hundred years now sputtered dust. Her hands started to shrivel, her eyes fought to see. As her body crumbled to the ground, Duncan lifted his hands, flames shot to her body, caught, and the pain of every death slammed into her black heart and took back what was theirs.
When the flames cleared and silence replaced the screams, Liz’s gaze settled on the pile of dust where Grainna had once stood. Tilting her head to the left, she saw Todd holding Myra’s hand. To them linked Lora and Ian. Amber gripped a hold of Cian and Simon. On the right, Tara slumped against Duncan. Fin broke away from his place and stepped forward, wrapping his arms around her. They’d done it.
They’d all survived.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Cian step forward, his hand reached out.
Tatiana was the only soul left in the room. She hovered close to Cian, her eyes filled with sorrow.
They hadn’t all survived after all.
Cian’s hand brushed around her image, caressing her.
“Mom,” Simon whispered as he pointed above their heads.
An iridescent cloud of silver brought the stunning Ancient to them. “You have done well, clan MacCoinnich.” Her voice, like that of an angelic choir, flowed like a river. She hovered over Grainna’s ashes, and swept her hand above them causing them to disappear into a thousand pearls of golden light.
Elise settled her feet on the ground, walked out of her iridescent light, and materialized in front of them. Her flawless face was porcelain smooth, and her radiant smile was like a gift when she turned it on Liz. Simply looking at her gave Liz a glimpse of what heaven must be.
“Each of you fought with courage and valor. You brought together the future and the past in the only combination that could end Grainna’s evil. We are all eternally grateful to you.”